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These Are the Facts

Today marked the release of the first in a series of reports from an impressive group of former US ambassadors, retired generals and policy experts dubbed The Iran Project. The primary purpose of the paper, titled “Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran”, is to answer the tough questions and ensure that Americans are as informed as possible before the nation hurriedly decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities: Can military strikes stop Iran’s nuclear program? What are the immediate and long-term impacts? Are strikes even possible?

The report has already made a splash with its frank assessment of the significant costs of military strikes and what it says are the limited gains.

First to the plate, the Washington Post:

The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran’s most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay — not stop — the Islamic republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

[The report] says achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran’s nuclear program would require a military operation — including a land occupation — more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

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

1.4 million reasons why the military option is not really an option

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.

House Republicans endorse Israeli military action on Iran

Rep. Louie Gohmert has reintroduced his resolution expressing support for Israeli military action on Iran.  The measure has 44 cosponsors—all of whom are Republicans.  25 of the cosponsors are in the House Tea Party Caucus, including potential presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann.

The resolution has been introduced  just in time for Bibi Netanyahu’s address to Congress this morning.

At a time when former Mossad chiefs are saying bombing Iran would be “a stupid idea” and the Defense Minister is attempting to dial back hysteria and free Israel from its bomb Iran bluff, House Republicans seeking to look tough on Iran are prodding Israel in the other direction.

H.RES.271: Expressing support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel.

(Full list of original cosponsors below the jump)

  • 29 September 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 3 Comments
  • US-Iran War

Military Attack on Iran: A Combination of Ignorance and Naivety

As always, those who talk about what US policy towards Iran should look like, are already prepared for failure of current US policy.

Now Senator Joe Lieberman is preparing to “up the rhetorical ante” on Iran and endorse military actions if sanctions fail

In an excerpt of what his staff has labeled a “major policy address” to be delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations later today, Lieberman states:

It is time to retire our ambiguous mantra about all options remaining on the table. Our message to our friends and enemies in the region needs to become clearer: namely, that we will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability — by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must.

This comes after  Senator Lindsey Graham last week called for direct military intervention for the purpose of regime change in Iran.  “From my point of view,” Graham said, “if we engage in military operations as a last resort, the United States should have in mind the goal of changing the regime…not by invading (Iran), but by launching a military strike by air and sea.”

Obviously, many things come to mind at their proposal: the question of whether or not Iran is even developing nuclear weapons, the mess we have created and left behind in Iraq, and the chaos we find ourselves in in Afghanistan. Even leaving all this aside, however, I am still left confused and bewildered by the increasing call for military action against Iran by some of our nation’s so-called leaders and experts.

Perhaps most dangerous is the effect military strikes would have inside Iran on the prospects for change. Those who advocate a military attack argue that it will lead to a revolution and possible regime change. These idealistic hopes could not be farther from the truth. As Shawn Amoei wrote, “To believe this is to seriously misunderstand nationalism, the Iranian people, and Iranian history.” See the Iran-Iraq War as the perfect example of how the Iranian people will come together, even under an undesirable regime, in the face of foreign invasion.

A military attack will have a detrimental effect on those within the opposition and civil rights movements within Iran, who already fear being tainted by the US. As insideIran.org researcher Shayan Ghajar eloquently explained:

“Foreign attack on Iran would lead to further marginalization of internal opposition movements by the central government, or would cause a surge of nationalism that temporarily erases domestic disputes. O’Hanlon and Riedel agree, saying, “Nor is a strike by an outside power likely to help the cause of Iranian reformists.” … Mir Hossein Moussavi, the most prominent politician in the Green Movement, has repeatedly argued against… “foreign domination.” …Human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, too, opposes any form of military action. Politician Ataollah Mohajerani, who has ties to numerous opposition leaders, said that any attack on Iran would serve only to strengthen the Iranian military and distract the public from their internal divisions.

In other words, rather than fomenting change, a military attack on Iran would do just the opposite.

In the aftermath of the June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Joe Lieberman said, “We have to do everything we can… to support the people of Iran.” Now, just a little over a year later, he is explicitly endorsing bombing Iran. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.  But  it sounds like Lieberman will be joining his friend Lindsey Graham and assert that they know what’s best for the Iranian people, that Iran’s opposition leaders and human rights defenders are wrong, and that the people of Iran will greet us as liberators.

  • 21 July 2010
  • Posted By Azadeh
  • 2 Comments
  • Nuclear file, US-Iran War

War is Bad For Democracy

Speculation abounds as, once again, the military option against Iran has come front and center. What is the worst case scenario if Israel attacks Iran? Most experts agree; there will be a significant toll on civilian life, Iran could justifiably withdraw from the NPT, and there could be prolonged regional insecurity that drags the US into a third Middle Eastern conflict.

Perhaps the most important consequence of an attack on Iran, however, is the damage it would do to the indigenous democracy movement.

Plain and simple, an Israeli attack would destroy the Green movement.  History shows that external threats have only served to buttress repressive regimes. In the case of Iran in the 1980’s, the revolutionary government used the Iran-Iraq War as a pretext to silence dissenters and consolidate its hold on power.  Without the specter of a foreign enemy, it’s unlikely the post-revolutionary regime would have remained in tact.

The Green Movement’s current efforts to protect civil liberties, combat repression, liberalize domestic politics, and improve Iran’s standing in the international community will certainly be cut off if Iran is thrust into similar circumstances. After the bombs start falling, the hardline government will ensure that only the issue of national security is allowed to dominate the domestic political discourse.  (This should be easy for Americans to imagine, given that the US experienced a similar situation in the aftermath of 9/11).

Iran war hawks like William Kristol Robert Kagan talk about how a nuclear-armed Iran would be tolerable so long as it is run by a secular, pro-American and democratic government.  Since last June, the Iranian people have begun the long slog toward freedom and democracy, and yet those who claim to support them are calling for precisely the thing that will make this dream impossible.

There is still unrest in Iran. Bazaar strikes, an ailing economy, and widespread inflation are just a few problems plaguing the lives of Iranians every day, and as this discontent lingers, the calls for reform will only grow louder.  Even more than its immediate devastation on the lives of the Iranian people, an attack on Iran will constrain Iran’s political evolution and defer the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.

Barbara Slavin often says that the US and Iran never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  The US now has a chance to keep the hope for a democratic Iran alive or, alternatively, to snuff out that possibility in one fell swoop.  We should choose wisely.

  • 12 July 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 5 Comments
  • Nuclear file, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Sanctions Are the New Appeasement

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwHBdNwm2fo”]

Citizens United — famous for winning the Supreme Court case that ruled corporations have first amendment rights — has used the massive influx of cash that came with their notoriety to put together this ad.  It’s a lot of the usual “Obama is Chamberlain; Iran is Hitler” message that has been peddled by dozens of fearmongers since the Bush Administration and before.  But the spot was framed in an interesting light in the press release accompanying the ad, in which Citizens United Presiden David Bossie says:

From the first days of his presidential campaign through today, President Obama has displayed a dangerous naiveté when it comes to the threat that Iran poses to our allies in the Middle East and to the United States itself. History demonstrates that sanctions are not a cure-all for regimes bent on destroying other peaceful nations. The President must step up to this challenge before Iran has the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons. (emphasis added)

“Dangerous naiveté” is not a new criticism of Obama’s Iran policy.  But if you look closely, this is not a criticism of Obama’s engagement strategy. What Citizens United calls Obama’s naiveté seems to be his support for sanctions!  Sanctions aren’t enough, so the President must “step up” and “stop Iran now.”

This echoes the message in a Washington Post op-ed last Friday by former Virginia Senator Charles Robb and retired General Chuck Wald titled “Sanctions alone won’t work on Iran.” They argue that diplomacy and sanctions must be combined with credible threats of military force (what the two call “kinetic action”) if the US is to compel Iran to give up its nuclear program.

It’s been less than two weeks since the President signed new sanctions into law, [and the new law has not even come into force yet] but the groundwork is already being laid for the next escalation.

Now, I do not believe Barack Obama is necessarily leading the country down a path to war with Iran.  But that does not mean there aren’t powerful forces at work in Washington trying to shape a narrative that will make an attack more acceptable.  It would be wholly unsurprising if, the day after an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, more media attention is given to how it will have been justified than to the potential catastrophe it could mean for the US and the region at large.

  • 27 May 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 1 Comments
  • Nuclear file, US-Iran War

Why Aren’t More Iran War Hawks Called Anti-Israel?

[vodpod id=Video.3715847&w=425&h=350&fv=]
John Podhoretz, the editor of the neoconservative Commentary Magazine, had this to say yesterday about Obama’s approach to Iran (via the Corner):

Nothing would both surprise me, please me, and make me revisit a great deal of my thinking over the last couple of years, than if Barack Obama chooses to strike the Iranian nuclear program. I would revisit most of what I think about his foreign policy and his approach to the world.  But that the United States would take military action against Iran – that seems almost science fictional to me at this point.

He goes on with the usual bit about “Ahmadinejad is a nutty guy who wants to nuke Israel to bring about the Messiah, etc.”  But here’s what I find really interesting: he seems to be unfazed by the cognitive dissonance surrounding the idea that we should start a war with Iran that would generate a large-scale counterattack (likely aimed at Israel) in order to support Israel herself.

He says it explicitly: if Israel were to strike Iran, it would trigger a counterattack that could claim the lives of thousands of Israelis.  Given that Iran’s defense plans most certainly call for activating its Hezboallah proxies, and given that Hezboallah’s primary target is Israel — why does Podhoretz think Iran’s plans still wouldn’t call for that same counterattack if it’s the US instead of Israel that drops the bombs?

The fact is, a war with Iran would cause an enormous amount of hardship, instability, and loss of life for the state of Israel, regardless of whether it’s the US or Israel that starts it.  So why is Podhoretz in such a rush to bring that about?

I often wonder why commentators like Podhoretz aren’t more frequently labeled anti-military or anti-Israel.  Because nothing is more certain to take a disastrous toll on the lives of American troops and Israeli civilians than an unjustified military attack on Iran.

(To say nothing of the devastation to innocent Iranian civilians that comes with dropping a bomb on a facility that houses tons of radioactive material.  It’s not often said, but an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites would be the second time in history a radiological attack was carried out against civilians — the first being Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

I assume there are those who would take issue with my premise by saying the US should take the initiative precisely because it could attack Iran in such a devastating fashion as to neutralize Iran’s retaliatory capabilities.  But that argument doesn’t hold up, since unconventional forces like Hezboallah are already in place in the Levant, and unless we’re prepared to open up two fronts in this war against Iran (on top of the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts that we’re already deeply committed to), then Iran’s proxies would be immune from an American preemptive strike.

So I ask again: if prominent commentators like John Podhoretz truly support the military and Israel, then why do they so zealously advocate for what could be the most costly decision of the 21st Century for both?

Is the Sanctions Debate Justifying the Military Option?

This post originally appeared at InsideIran.org.

To an outsider, it may seem like Washington is united in favor of imposing new sanctions on Iran. But, like in Iran itself, the internal wrangling over this question among Washington policymakers is much more complex and divided by factions than one may assume.

Congressional leaders from both parties have long called for new sanctions — and, bolstered by the strong support of the pro-Israel lobby, even some Democrats have undermined the President’s engagement strategy in their zeal for a more heavy-handed approach. Now that the administration has moved past direct talks and embraced the pressure track, one would assume that Congress, the President and the rest of the Iran policymaking community is in harmony.

But they’re not. Not even close.

  • 7 April 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 2 Comments
  • Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

Iran’s Bond-Villain Plan for Naval Superiority

Iran has purchased a super-advanced speedboat and is going to use it to sink an American warship in the Persian Gulf!

Well, we don’t know for sure that they’re using it to sink an American warship, but they’re definitely up to something. Actually, there’s not even any evidence that the boat is for military purposes; or that it was purchased by the Revolutionary Guards; or that it’s even all that much faster than other boats…

But still, someone in Iran bought a really fast boat, so everyone should be afraid; be very afraid!

That about sums up this tabloid-esque story that ran in the Financial Times Sunday, and then was reprinted in the Washington Post alongside a completely unrelated yet sufficiently eerie photo of a tanker ship that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef of all places.

Has a record-breaking British powerboat become the “ultimate toy” for an Iranian playboy or – as US investigators fear – is it now equipped with the world’s fastest torpedoes aimed at sinking an aircraft carrier in the Gulf?

In spite of efforts by the Obama administration to stop it falling into the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Bradstone Challenger – a high-performance powerboat built with support from a US defence contractor – is believed to be under new and dangerous ownership.

  • 26 March 2010
  • Posted By Layla Armeen
  • 4 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Reporting for Duty?

Hossein Yekta, a high ranking member of the Basij militia and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, said this week that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already declared “war,” but “no one is reporting for duty.”

Raja News, one of the most hard line news agencies in Iran reported that Yekta tells student Basijis to get into war formation because the war has already started, and it started in the universities.

“There is only one person in the country that can declare war, and that is the Supreme Commander of All Armed Forces. Only two times has there been a declaration of war in the Islamic Republic. Once in the eve of September 22, 1980, and the other was just a while back when “Agha” declared war on a full scale cultural attack that was launched against us.”

A friend of mine once told me that there are three social phenomena that can each change an entire generation: revolution, war, and mass immigration.  Those who experience these events are bound to have radically different perspectives than the generation that follows them, which is precisely what happened in Iran.  The generation that brought about the revolution all of a sudden found itself in a war with Iraq a year after taking power, and that war along with the revolution itself produced a mass immigration effect.

Today, many of the hard-liners in the Islamic Republic are the ones who obviously didn’t emigrate out of the country. They participated in the revolution, and many of them fought in the Iran-Iraq war. A generation with noble deeds in mind that is finding it harder and harder every day to re-gain the respect that it once had in the society. This generation’s mindset is still in the revolutionary days of Iran.  But that doesn’t sit well with the young and vibrant generation – a Green generation – that now makes up the majority of the Iranian population.  This new generation has no memory of the revolution, nor of the eight-year war that devastated the country in so many different ways.

The hard-liners view national policy like it’s a battle on the front-lines; as it was when they were in Khoramshahr, Talaieyeh, Majnoon Shahr and other border cities in which they fought.  They were celebrated in the ’80s for their courage, but the war is over. It was over twenty years ago.

Iranians today are hearing the war rhetoric getting louder and louder after last year’s disputed presidential election. The hard-liners realize that the youth do not relate to their values, so they think they must be supported by foreign elements. That is the reason why the establishment refers to its domestic struggle as a war, a “soft war.”

I think about what my friend said, and I think about it a lot. I agree with him that the first decade of the Islamic Republic did change an entire generation of Iranians; but I also believe that they will have to reconcile with the changing times one way or another.  I believe the new generation – the Green generation – will shun this “war” ideology, regardless of how loudly the establishment trumpets it.

The signs are already there: “no one is reporting for duty.”

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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