• 1 September 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Election 2012, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

With the ad nauseum invocations by American political figures that an Iran military option (or even “military solution”) is “on the table”, there has been an alarming lack of substantive discussion on what such an option would actually entail. Recently though, two pieces have provided some needed perspective on the consequences of going to war with Iran.

The first is a report by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Leif Eckholm, who serves under Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Mullen has gone on the record to say that the only military “option” that would end Iran’s nuclear program would be a ground invasion and occupation.  Eckholm’s echoes this and says “the price of an invasion would be astronomical…”  An Iran war, he says, may require 1.4 million troops, “nearly double the current end-strength of the active duty U.S. Army and Marines combined.” 

He bases this on the one soldier to every 50 inhabitant ratio recommended by former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, noting that Iran has three times the population and four the landmass of Iraq.  Shinseki’s advice was notoriously ignored and discredited by Donald Rumsfeld in the drive to invade Iraq.  We’ve learned from the last decade what are the grave ramifications for discarding honest assessments just because they are inconvenient for Washington.

So, the forces required to wage a successful war against Iran are completely unrealistic.  Unrealistic, that is, unless war advocates are willing to advocate a national military draft.

Eckholm goes on to explain why a duplication of the 2003 Iraq strategy, even with this impossibly high number of troops, would be difficult.  Unlike Iraq, Iran is fiercely nationalist and has existed as a state with roughly the same borders for around two thousand years.  Thus, he says, we should expect this strong nationalistic sentiment to generate a devoted and intractable popular backlash.

In the second article, Jack Hunter, the blogger for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, writes that “no nation can compete with America’s military might, especially not Iran.”  But he highlights the fact that many politicians who claim to be trying to get our economic house in order also advocate for maintaining current defense spending by hyping the Iran threat and wielding the war option.

“Most Americans accept that any amount of money that goes towards keeping America safe is worth spending — but are there any actual threats on the horizon that warrant what we currently spend on our military adventures?” asks Hunter.

Given the large difficulties, not to mention the massive troop requirements from a military already stretched to its limits by fighting two simultaneous wars, and given our dire economic situation, we can neither afford militarily nor economically a war with Iran.  Unless officials are willing to own up to the real costs of such a war, they need to figure out how to take war with Iran off the table.  And in order for the military option to be taken off the table, we must begin, in good-faith, an earnest pursuit of diplomatic and non-military avenues to resolve the impasse .

Posted By Loren White

    One Response to “1.4 million reasons why the military option is not really an option”

  1. Pirouz says:

    A ground war and military occupation is out of the question, for obvious reasons. By the way, it’s unclear if that 1.4 mil. figure is exclusively combat troops. It could be that even more are required for non-combat duties, such as various types of support and logistics. This would put the endeavor on a World War II scale, and would require a similarly scaled conscription effort. It ain’t gonna happen.

    It will be interesting to see how the end state of Libya unfolds, and if a fourth stage of conflict materializes. If things go well, look for US hawks to tout it as a “a model” for regime change elsewhere in MENA. The next target would be Syria, and the next the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Recall that the last time “a model” was touted, it was the type of war brought to Iraq. This model appeared to work four to five weeks into the war, and Syria or Iran appeared to be the next target in line. But when the Iraq war turned sour, the populations of Syria and Iran were spared.

    Just by using airstrikes against Iran, Iranian responses will be painful to Western interests in the region, as well as negatively impacting the global economy. And the end result would not be the end of Iran’s nuclear program, but actually the result the airstrikes intended to prevent– the actual construction of a nuclear device and a test destination.

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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