• 19 October 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 3 Comments
  • Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Apparently, having learned nothing from their wrong-headed push for going to war with Iraq based on questionable evidence, Bill Kristol and the gang is back once again banging the drums of war.  In the wake of last Tuesday’s revelations about an alleged assassination attempt against the Saudi Ambassador in Washington D.C., a cacophony of calls from Iran hawks to authorize “the use of force against Iranian entities,” “respond militarily to this outrage,” etc. have arisen from the usual suspects.

But unlike in 2003, this time around we have learned better than to follow the neocon clarion call to arms. We saw firsthand with the Iraq War fiasco what happens when we take their advice .  Today, their claims that military strikes will usher in a democratic government in Iran should ring false to most  our ears.

And given what we learned in Iraq and given that military experts have made it abundantly clear that the challenges of a war in Iran would dwarf those that we faced in Iraq, never mind that we can little afford to another war, it is obvious that the military response Kristol and Co. advocate for would be disastrous.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Here is what military leaders have said about so-called “targeted strikes” or all out war with Iran:

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense

“Conner’s axiom — never fight unless you have to — looms over policy discussions today regarding rogue nations like Iran … Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels.”(Think Progress: Gates: War With Iran ‘Would Be Disastrous,’ It’s ‘The Last Thing We Need’)

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.” (NY Times: Warning Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan)

Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“No strike, however effective, will be in and of itself decisive.”

“We haven’t had a contact with Iran since 1979.  Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union.  We are not talking to Iran so we don’t understand each other.  If something happens it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right – that there will be miscalculations – which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.” (Haaretz: Military Strike Won’t Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program

General David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, former head of CENTCOM and commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

“It’s possible (a strike) could be used to play to nationalist tendencies. There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment. So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike on Iran).”(Reuters: Petraeus Says Strike On Iran Could Spark Nationalism)

General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni, former head of CENTCOM

“The problem with the strike is thinking through the consequences of Iranian reaction.  One mine that hits a tanker, and you can imagine what is going to happen to the price of oil and economies around the world.  One missile into a Gulf oil field or a natural gas processing field, you can imagine what’s going to happen.  A missile attack on some of our troop formations in the Gulf or our bases in Iraq, activating sleeper cells, flushing out fast patrol boats and dowels that have mines that can go into the water in the Red Sea and elsewhere. You can see all these reactions that are problematic in so many ways. Economic impact, national security impact — it will drag us into a conflict.  I think anybody that believes that it would be a clean strike and it would be over and there would be no reaction is foolish … It will make Iraq and Afghanistan look relatively small in comparison, in terms of troop requirements and everything else.”(Charlie Rose Interview)

Admiral (Ret.) Joe Sestak, former Congressman (D-PA)

“A military strike, whether it’s by land or air, against Iran would make the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion look like a cakewalk with regard to the impact on the United States’ national security.” (Think Progress: Former Congressman Adm. Joe Sestak Warns That ‘Avoiding Mission Creep Is Unlikely’ In Iran Attack)

General (Ret.) James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

Senator Reed: […]The usual proposal for a military action is some type that a discreet strike to disrupt the nuclear facilities in Iran. I presume that would not be 100 percent effective in terms of knocking them out. It would probably delay them, but that if their persistent enough they could at some point succeed.  Is that a fair judgment from your position?

General Cartwright: That’s a fair judgment.

Senator Reed: So that the only absolutely dispositive way to end any potential would be to physically occupy their country and to disestablish their nuclear facilities. Is that a fair, logical conclusion?

General Cartwright: Absent some other unknown calculus that would go on, it’s a fair conclusion.(Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic Republic of Iran)

Dr. Colin Kahl, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East

“We don’t exactly know how it would unfold you have the prospects for unintended escalation and kind of losing control of what’s going on,” Kahl warned, adding that even though any military strike could delay Iran’s nuclear program, it could also “incentivize the Iranians to go all the way to weaponize” their nuclear material. (Think Progress: Pentagon Official on Military Action In Iran: ‘We Can Imagine A Number Of Destablizing’ Consequences)

Meir Dagan, former head of the Israeli intelligence agency MOSSAD

The possibility a future Israeli Air Force attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is “the stupidest thing I have ever heard … It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end.” (Haaretz: Former Mossad Chief: Israel Air Strike on Iran ‘Stupidest Thing I Have Ever Heard’)

Attacking Iran “would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program. The regional challenge that Israel would face would be impossible.” (NY Times: A Former Spy Chief Questions the Judgment the Israeli Leaders)

So in the coming days, when we hear the Iran hawks making their push for a military response, we need to remember that a military conflict is not in anybody’s best interest, least of all the U.S.’s.  Not to mention that escalating our conflict with Iran brings real risks, not just for soldiers in the war zone, but for American citizens at home.  Thus, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that the violence, which up until now has been contained to the Middle East, does not spill over onto our shores.

Posted By Loren White

    3 Responses to “Military and civilian leaders on dangers of war with Iran”

  1. Pirouz says:

    I’m not so much concerned with “violence on our shores” as I am with the potential economic fallout from a war with Iran.

    I think the Iran hawks envision another Operation Desert Storm (1998). However Iran’s military forces at the Persian Gulf, as well as their SSM capability potentially enable it to make the war more painful for ordinary Americans, economically, than OIF, OEF or even the GWOT. It is this potentially disadvantageous economic fallout that has prevented a U.S. strike from occurring, up to this time, IMO.

    Who among us Americans wants to pay $6 to $8 a gallon for fuel, with all the other cost increases associated with such? Not me. How about you, Loren?

  2. while I agree w/ the author of “Military and civilian leaders on dangers of war with Iran,” Mr. Loren White; in that misguided matters caused the Iraq war and the same folks who drumed up war with Iraq are back to start a war, on wrong reasons, with Iran. However, that rational thinking misses one point: may be those who started the war with Iraq did not care about the reason and truly wanted to start a war. On the same reasoning, the same people want to start a war with Iran, no matter the reason or fallout. Iraq was put under scantions for over 10 years with the result of weakened resistance, the same can be applied to Iran and then Iran would be ripe for a picking.

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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