Should America declare War on Iran?

atomikmom 2012/09/13 02:00:16
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Why war with Iran would spell disaster

US politicians are ratcheting up calls for war without being honest with the public about what it would really mean.

Last Modified: 12 Sep 2012 08:44

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The Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is the shipping point for more than 20 per cent of the world's petroleum [EPA]

After a decade of exhausting and demoralising
conflict between the United States and two of the weakest, most
impoverished countries in the world, Iraq and Afghanistan, many within
the US political establishment are calling for the country to engage in
yet another conflict; this time with a relatively powerful enemy in

In the past week alone, top Republican figures such as John McCain
and Joseph Lieberman have called for increasing belligerence towards the
Iranian regime, bringing the two countries closer to the brink of armed

The heightening standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme,
curious in itself for its recent rapid escalation given that leading
American and Israeli intelligence estimates have both concluded that
Iran has neither developed nor is planning to develop nuclear weapons, is leading to increasingly belligerent rhetoric out of Washington calling for war with Iran.

Leading members of the House and Congress from both parties as well as the closest advisers to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have called for attacking Iran, with some high-ranking GOP advisers even suggesting that the time is now for a Congressional resolution formally declaring war on the country.

Romney and many other leading Republican figures have called for pre-emptive war against Iran,
and have continually upped the ante in terms of threats of military
action throughout the election campaign. This alarming and potentially
highly consequential rhetoric is occurring in a context where the
American people are still recovering from the disastrous war in Iraq and
winding down the US occupation of Afghanistan, while at the same time
coping with the worst economic drought since the Great Depression.

Public statements claiming that the extent of the conflict would be
limited to targeted airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities are utterly
disingenuous, ignoring the escalating cycle of retribution that such
"limited" conflicts necessarily breed. As did the war in Libya start off
with calls only for a benign "no-fly zone" to protect civilians and seamlessly turned into an all-out aerial campaign to topple Muammar Gaddafi,
any crossing of the military threshold with Iran would also likely
result in a far bigger conflagration than the public has been prepared
for by their leaders.

War with Iran would be no quick and clean affair, as many senior
political and military figures have pointed out it would make the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars, which cost trillions of dollars and the lives of
thousands of soldiers and civilians, seem like "a cakewalk".

The fact that it is becoming increasingly likely, inevitable in the
eyes of many, and that it is high on the agenda of so many leading
political figures warrants exploration of what such a conflict would
really entail.

Conflict on an unprecedented scale

Not a war of weeks or months, but a "generations-long war"
is how no less a figure than former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy
describes the consequences of open conflict with Iran. In comparison
with Iraq and Afghanistan, both countries with relatively small
populations which were already in a state of relative powerlessness
before they were invaded, Iran commands the eighth largest active duty
military in the world, as well as highly trained special forces and
guerilla organisations which operate in countries throughout the region
and beyond.

Empire - Targeting Iran - Video: Iran war games

Retired US General John Abizaid has previously described the Iranian
military as "the most powerful in the Middle East" (exempting Israel),
and its highly sophisticated and battle-hardened proxies in Lebanon and
Iraq have twice succeeded in defeating far stronger and better funded Western military forces.

Any attack on Iran would assuredly lead to the activation of these
proxies in neighbouring countries to attack American interests and would
create a situation of borderless war unprecedented in any past US
conflicts in the Middle East.

None of this is to suggest that the United States would not "win" a
war with Iran, but given the incredibly painful costs of Iraq and
Afghanistan; wars fought again weak, poorly organised enemies lacking
broad influence, politicians campaigning for war with Iran are leading
the American people into a battle which will be guaranteed to make the
past decade of fighting look tame in comparison.

A recent study has shown that an initial US aerial assault on Iran would require hundreds of planes, ships and missiles
in order to be completed; a military undertaking itself unprecedented
since the first Gulf War and representative of only the first phase of
what would likely be a long drawn-out war of attrition.

For a country already nursing the wounds from the casualties of far
less intense conflicts and still reeling from their economic costs, the
sheer battle fatigue inherent in a large-scale war with Iran would stand
to greatly exacerbate these issues.

Oil shocks and the American economy

fragile American economic recovery would be completely upended were Iran
to target global energy supplies in the event of war, an act which
would be both catastrophic and highly likely if US Iran hawks get their
way. Not only does the country itself sit atop some of the largest oil
and natural gas reserves on the planet, its close proximity to the
shipping routes and oil resources of its neighbours means that in the
event of war, its first response would likely be to choke off the global
supply of crude; a tactic for which its military defences have in fact
been specifically designed.

The Strait of Hormuz, located in the Persian Gulf is the shipping
point for more than 20 per cent of the world's petroleum. Iran is known
to have advanced Silkworm missile batteries buried at strategic points
around the strait to make it impassable in the event of war, and has developed "swarming" naval tactics to neutralise larger, less mobile ships such as those used by the US Navy.

While Iran could never win in straightforward combat, it has
developed tactics of asymmetrical warfare that can effectively inflict
losses on a far stronger enemy and render the strait effectively closed
to naval traffic.

The price of oil would immediately skyrocket, by some estimates
upwards several hundred dollars a barrel, shattering the already tenuous
steps the US and other Western economies are taking towards recovery.
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has said a war with
Iran could drag out years and would have economic consequences "devastating for the average American"; but these facts are conspicuously absent in public discussion of the war.

Every conflict has blowback, but if US politicians are attempting to
maneouver the country into a conflict of such potentially devastating
magnitude, potentially sacrificing ordinary Americans' economic
well-being for years to come, it would behoove them to speak frankly
about these costs and not attempt to obfuscate or downplay them in order
to make their case.

Conflict across borders

Finally, a war with Iran would be not be like conflicts in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Libya where the fighting was constrained to the borders
of the country in question. Despite widespread resentment towards the
country due to the perception of it as a regionally imperialist power as
well sectarian animosity towards it as Shia Muslim theocracy, Iran
maintains deep links throughout the Middle East and South Asia and can
count on both popular support as well as assistance from its network of
armed proxies in various countries.

Empire - Targeting Iran - Video: Iran, Israel and the US

In a report for Haaretz,
Ahmed Rashid noted that an attack on Iran would likely inflame
anti-American sentiment throughout the region, across both Shia and
Sunni Muslim communities. Despite Iran's poor human rights record and
bellicose leadership, polls have consistently shown that Iranian and
Iranian-backed leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah remain among the most popular figures throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

This popularity comes not necessarily out of respect for Iranian
ideology, but from a perception that Iran is the only assertive power in
the region and is the target of aggression from the United States and
its allies.

In Rashid's analysis, both the Middle East and South Asia would
become unsafe for American citizens and their interests for years to
come; popular anger would reach a level which would render these area
effectively off-limits and would cause grave and immediate danger to
both American businesses and troops based in the region.

Again, this would be a situation quite different from the other wars
of the past decade, fought against isolated regimes without the ability
to call upon large and often well-funded numbers of regional
sympathisers; a fact also rarely mentioned by war advocates.

Not a political game

Going to war with Iran would be an elective decision for the United
States, but it is for too grave and consequential a choice to be left up
to the whims of politicians seeking to win the approval of lobby groups and one-up each other to appeal to influential campaign donors who would like to see a war with Iran.

Make no mistake, the possibility of war is very real and has become
eminently more so in recent months. Many of the same politicians and
political advisers responsible for engineering the Iraq War have
returned to public life and are at the forefront of pushing a new
American conflict with Iran.

Mitt Romney's closest foreign policy
advisers include leading hawks from the war with Iraq, including John
Bolton, Eliot Cohen and Dan Senor. Many of them have enthusiastically
and publicly expressed their desire to engineer a US military
confrontation with Iran and have already begun to tout the inevitability of this action in a Romney presidency.

What few figures on either end of the political spectrum are doing
however is giving Americans an honest picture of what such a war would
mean for them and their future. Not coincidentally, some of the leading
voices against military escalation with Iran have come from high-ranking
figures within the US military, including even the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey who has expressed his desire that the US not be "complicit" in any attack against Iran.

This reticence is reflective not of goodwill towards the Iranian
regime, but of a recognition that such a war would be catastrophic to
American interests and would have serious implications for continued
global stability. Americans are being goaded and misinformed by cynical
political maneouvering which is attempting to steer them into another
disastrous and assuredly bloody war for the sake of interest group
politics and short-term political expediency.

If there is to be another pre-emptive war of choice, this time with
Iran, American politicians must openly and honestly acknowledge what
this would mean for Americans and for the world and allow them to make
their decisions thusly.

War is never a choice to be taken lightly, but the potential
consequences of a war with Iran would be unprecedented - the dangerous
game being played at present by many US politicians is one which could
take Americans down a ruinous path without their informed consent.

As the rhetoric continues to dial up, it must be remembered that this
is an issue bigger than politics and it is the pressing interest of the
American people that it be treated as such.

Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst, his work has appeared at Salon.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial

Read More: http://www.aljazeera.com

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Top Opinion

  • GoDucks5 2012/09/13 02:05:07
    Yeah, let's go to yet another pointless war. We shouldn't even be in the Middle East right now.

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  • ZenerSix 2012/10/16 20:12:03
    Not unless they attack us.
  • lolitalovely 2012/09/23 05:40:01
    They want us to make that move because it will make us the bad guys. They've been pushing buttons with their military practices, their unsanctioned nuclear facilities, and their impediments on trade. I just don't think it's the best idea right now. We've got Canadian shale oil for the time. We don't need them.
  • Night71 2012/09/22 09:32:53
    What the hell for? The US need to start war against their own horribly corrupt government. Pubs and Dems are just names of corrupt groups wanting to screw you.
  • Pedro Doller ~Inc. 2012/09/19 12:40:07
    Pedro Doller ~Inc.
    Everybody is looking at Isreal, but it is Saudi Arabia that is pushing this war the most. They got us to invade Iraq and figure they can do it again.
  • D D 2012/09/13 12:52:50
    D D
    I think this one is for Israel to deal with. I do not want a war with Iran.
  • NO
    ☆The Rock☆ * AFCL* The Sheriff!!
    We can not afford another war..Israel wil have to deal with this one..I mean we can help supply them and offer them the intel..Israel has nukes so Iran would not have a snowballs chance in hell!!
  • paulyman 2012/09/13 05:32:01
    Let's let the Israelis takeout Iran's leadership with a few smart bombs whilst they annihilate Iran's uranium enrichment plants. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Let's let our ally kick his keister.

    enrichment plants mahmoud ahmadinejad wipe israel earth ally kick keister
  • Dr.Jackson 2012/09/13 04:14:59
  • A Founding Father 2012/09/13 04:01:00
    A Founding Father
    Ask also, "Would Iran declare war on Dallas, New York, San Francico, Houston, Denver,
    Chicago, and Atlanta? Where would we bury all of our dead and how would we care for
    all the injured? Opinions?
  • Scott 2012/09/13 03:45:54
    Yeah, why not? We're only talking about an army 10 times the size of Iraq. So what if we lose 10 or 20 thousand soldiers and a few trillion more dollars? We've got lives and money to burn. Besides, it'll make for some great tv for the rest of us.
  • In Love With Liberty 2012/09/13 03:12:32
    In Love With Liberty
    We should look for diplomatic solutions to calm the situation between them and Israel without getting involved in either countries internal affairs.
  • D D In Love... 2012/09/13 12:33:39
    D D
    I do not want a war but seriously, there is no talking to Iran. They are not rational.
  • In Love... D D 2012/09/13 16:32:58
    In Love With Liberty
    If war is the only response my only request is to follow the constitution

  • ur XLNC-PWCM 2012/09/13 02:49:55 (edited)
    ur XLNC-PWCM
    When and IF people in this country realize that some members of Congress are just well-paid 'shills' for "defense-industry" concerns, then they will realize that some of the calls for armed belligerence are because the "defense-industry" NEEDS repeat business in order to continue to operate "profitably". It's rather difficult to get repeat business, if their 'customer' doesn't "USE" up product. Entirely TOO MANY of our wars have NOTHING to do with anything but using up product. There is a way to get around this and stop the insanity, but it is so radical, that it will always be ignored or brushed off. Declaring war on Iran would go a long way towards fulfilling biblical prophecy in OUR lifetimes... If we continue to declare war on one Arab country after another, we might as well start using nukes and quit pussy-footing around the Armageddon thingie.
  • In Love... ur XLNC... 2012/09/13 16:30:11
    In Love With Liberty
    you do realize congress hasn't formally declared war since ww2
  • ur XLNC... In Love... 2012/09/13 16:35:15
    ur XLNC-PWCM
    Yes I DO realize that. Do you realize that Congress is the one that AUTHORIZES the money to conduct the activities that we have engaged in?
  • In Love... ur XLNC... 2012/09/13 16:41:58
    In Love With Liberty
    right, all i was trying to say was lately congress hasn't really started any wars. this is a subtle attack on obama, libya was his mess, democrats and republican are equally war hawks
  • John Mirra 2012/09/13 02:38:21
    John Mirra
    Why even bother asking. No.
  • atomikmom John Mirra 2012/09/13 02:41:46
    Smart answer!!! I agree
  • Nameless 2012/09/13 02:32:01
    No No NO!
  • atomikmom Nameless 2012/09/13 02:37:50
    I agree!!
  • Nameless atomikmom 2012/09/13 02:56:50
    It's more than a disaster waiting to happen and a disaster that would have seriously dire consequences not only to the US but the entire world.
  • krayzrick 2012/09/13 02:31:17
    Can we take the friggen oil this time?
  • Kyle 2012/09/13 02:31:05
    it is pointless
  • **StarzAbove** 2012/09/13 02:29:31
  • Duke----The Non Racist, Fun... 2012/09/13 02:28:28
    Duke----The Non Racist, Funny Duke !
    Not Undecided. Just stopped in to say, I guess we'll have a full weekend or a months worth of John Wayne movies and all kinds of other war type movies showing to get us subliminally ready to sheepishly jump at the chance to go killin when our totally corrupt government says to...like usual
  • jgh57 2012/09/13 02:27:35
    Iran should have been Bush's target instead of Iraq.
  • atomikmom jgh57 2012/09/13 02:34:28
    Thank you!!! but Bush wanted to bump Sadam off because he tried to harm Bush Senior, so he says
  • Mike 2012/09/13 02:22:41
    Perhaps, someone should tell Obama and America we are already at war. Iran declared war on the US in 1979. Since then, it has used its terrorist arms in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region to murder Americans. It has used its terror arms in Latin American to target US interests and allies. Recently it has been caught in the act of recruiting agents to assist it in carrying out acts of terror in Washington, DC. The Justice Department revealed that law enforcement officials foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US and to blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington DC.
  • atomikmom Mike 2012/09/13 02:36:41
    Obama wants to rile Iran's fur, so they will respond in bombing the U.S.. Obama is biting off more than he can chew, and Iran will make Obama choke!!! on his words.
  • D D Mike 2012/09/13 12:38:21
    D D
    Exactly. They declared war on us long ass time ago! People just ignore that. War is not just fought by invading. That is traditional warfare but that is not very probable when fighting a war against the USA. They use other tactics.
  • Morgan 2012/09/13 02:19:42
  • D D Morgan 2012/09/13 12:39:09
    D D
    Because it is Sodahead. It is a site with hundreds of thousands of questions.
  • Morgan D D 2012/09/13 20:59:35
    *sigh* I guess you're right
  • mwg0735 2012/09/13 02:18:01
  • KrisD87 2012/09/13 02:14:58
    yea let's just start ww3.
  • Joe 2012/09/13 02:13:56
    It seems that we have been at war with Iran for some time now.
  • Zervur 2012/09/13 02:08:47
    depends. if they are aggressors yes.
  • The Bantam Seditioner 2012/09/13 02:07:35
    The Bantam Seditioner
    That'll just pi$$ off more people and create more terrorists. I think we should stop trying to change backward countries and focus on our own problems at home.
  • atomikmom The Ban... 2012/09/13 02:12:11
    That's the best answer i have heard yet!!!

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