The Folly of War with Iran

The Folly of War with Iran
By Stanley Heller
The feeble Democratic leadership has given up on legislation to require the President to seek approval from Congress before attacking Iran.  It stripped the language from the Iraq Supplemental Appropriation Bill.  Reportedly convervative Democrats didn’t want to “tie the President’s hands”.  While the President’s hands were left free no doubt many in Congress found their arms twisted by over 1,000 lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who descended on Washington recently to spread hysteria about Iran.
Despite a recent working meeting between U.S. and Iranian officials the threat of U.S./Israel attack remains very high.  The papers are reporting that Israel is arranging safe passage for its jets to bomb Iran.  The Israeli paper Ha’aretz states that a Kuwaiti paper is claiming that Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have given their permission for the planes to overfly those countries.  The British paper The Telegraph quotes a senior unnamed Israeli defense official who says Israel is bargaining with the US for an “air corridor” over Iraq.  A US carrier strike group sits off the coast of Iran with another one approaching.  The Administration continues to ratchet up the rhetoric.  It now blames Iran for the Iraq insurgency. 
Will Americans be fooled again?  Three presidents and Congress said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and were a threat “to the world”. He had VX and smallpox. He had a nuclear program.  He was in league with al-Qaeda.  The U.S. launched ten years of sanctions and four years of all out war yet none of the charges were true.
The regime in Tehran is  a grim theocracy that came to power by murdering the Iraqi Left..  It’s “Holocaust Conference” was a sick joke.  But Iran hasn’t started a war in 200 years and there’s no evidence that it’s suicidally planning a war against the U.S. or Israel. Yet the drumbeats for another shock and awe assault are getting louder.
Iran is indeed enriching uranium, but it’s all under the eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency and there hasn’t been any report that any of the material has been engineered to the point where it could be used in a bomb.  Scott Ritter, the former Marine intelligence officer and UN arms inspector, who got it right about Iraq’s lack of WMD, has been saying for years that Iran has no nuclear weapons program only a nuclear energy program. It was started by the late Shah of Iran with US approval.  Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize winning New Yorker journalist spoke at Yale on January 31.  He said the CIA has informed the Administration that it can find “no evidence of a parallel program” in Iran to secretly make nuclear bombs. Yet even if Ritter and Hersh are wrong and Iran makes some nuclear bombs how is that a serious threat to the US or to Israel?  Both countries could each reduce Iran to a radioactive cinder in a few hours.
The charge that Iran is fueling the insurgency in Iraq is ludicrous.  Iran is Shia. The Shia in Iraq have not fought the US troops except in two battles in 2004.   The Iraqi government is dominated by the Shia pro-Iran parties.  They are collaborating, not fighting the US.  The supposedly new high-tech “shaped charge” weapons are nothing of the sort.  They’ve been used for decades and are well known to Iraqi army veterans. 
Incredibly it’s quite possible that a U.S./Israeli attack on Iran could involve nuclear weapons.  Last month the Times of London reported that Israel is practicing bombing runs simulating attacks using “tactical” nuclear weapons.  Its ultra-right wing government  is spreading hysteria. The Israeli media trumpets stories from politicians and historians saying that Iran is planning a new Holocaust.  It’s whipping up the public to approve an atomic attack.  U.S. politicians make no criticism explaining that this “option” must be left on the table.
That an unprovoked attack on Iran would be a grave violation of international law is of no consequence to the Administration, but consider what the effect of an attack would be on the U.S. and on our troops.   Iran could suspend its oil sales.  It could rocket the oil sheikdoms that gave Israel safe passage. It might be able to block oil transport through the Straits of Hormuz. Are we ready for $100 barrel oil?  Are we ready to have our troops in Iraq become sitting ducks for Iranian missiles?  And what if the Iraqi Shia do start to mount their own insurgency?
Even the goal of slowing alleged Iranian production of nuclear bombs might be endangered by an attack.  That’s the conclusion of British nuclear weapons scientist Frank Barnaby in a report for the Oxford Research Group.  He reasons that its unlikely that even a massive bombing campaign could destroy all of Iran’s nuclear capability and that Iran would most likely do what Iraq did after its nuclear facility was destroyed by Israel in ’81…go ahead a with a full scale covert program to build the bombs.
Is there hope of avoiding the disaster of an attack on Iran?.  Some may think that the various sanctions resolutions are an alternative to war.  That was the view of many in 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait.  Yet, what it did then was to help demonize Iraq in the eyes of Americans and grease the slide to war. It also gave the U.N./U.S. the “legal” basis for the decade of sanctions that killed  a million Iraqi civilians.
The politicians are pathetic.  Only Dennis Kucinich has come out forthrightly saying there’s no need for war with Iran.  According to the London Times some US generals are prepared to quit if Bush gives an order for an attack on Iran, but that would come too late.  The people have to speak out angrily and massively and denounce the folly of war on Iran. Teach-ins, letters, op-eds, pickets of warmongers.   Our message is simple, “No Sanctions or Attack on Iran!”

Stanley Heller is Chairperson of the Middle East Crisis Committee.  He can be reached at or MECC, Box 3626, Woodbridge, CT 06525.