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Iran: All options considered

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted April 10, 2006

According to Seymour Hersh’s latest article in the New Yorker, the White House views Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “potential Adolph Hitler” who could trigger another world war. Frankly, it sounds a bit over-the-top for the staid Bush administration – and I usually do take everything written by the Left-leaning Hersh with a grain of salt – but here I’ll acquiesce to the general tone of alarm that Hersh is trying to convey. The Bush administration is very worried indeed about Iran, the premier promulgator of worldwide terrorism, that’s been threatening both Israel and America as of late, and is extremely eager to get its hot little hands on nuclear weaponry. The problem is clearly Iranian leadership and not the Iranian populace itself, which is largely in favor of getting rid of the Mullahs and their cohorts. As to Hersh, he seems more intent on rallying the critics against any Iranian assault, noting that “the Europeans are rattled” by the Bush-Cheney stance that military action and regime change might very well be required in Iran.

Well, what can be done to put an end to Iran’s dangerous nuclear ambitions, beyond the endless diplomatic talks that have gone nowhere? Tom McInerney seems to have a good idea, and he’s essentially betting that President Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs of Iran are crazy but not stupid. On the Fox News Channel this past Sunday, military analyst Lt. General Tom McInerney, USAF (Ret.) indicated that a “deterrent strategy” against nuclear terrorism must be implemented, with the US making it clear to Iran that if “any nuclear weapon goes off in the United States, we are going to hold them accountable.” In other words, the Iranian leadership better pray that we don’t get hit, since Iran would be “target number one” for the US. Under these circumstances, Iran would be unable to rely upon “plausible deniability” through the use of terrorist proxies to carry out their dirty work. Moreover, the mullahs et al. would have to accept that Iran would be quickly reduced to a glowing heap of rubble if the US is violated by nuclear attack. Who knows? In the final analysis, Iran’s leaders might be persuaded to stifle their murderous, terrorist proclivities if they know for certain they’ll be wiped out in a retaliatory strike by the US. There would be no room for manipulation and gaming under these ground rules.

That being said, here’s the bottom line regarding the crisis at hand: If Iran remains dug-in, doggedly determine to acquire nukes, then we’re inexorably on the path of launching strikes on Iran’s subterranean nuclear facilities. Mind you, we (the US and Israel, perhaps in cooperation with a few other allies) can’t knock out Iran’s entire nuclear program, but we can succeed in considerably delaying that nation’s capacity to develop nuclear weaponry. Sure, there’s bound to be political repercussions and flailing by the Left both at home and abroad if and when Iran’s facilities are assailed, but a nuclear-armed Iran – led by those hell-bent on destroying the West – represents an unacceptable risk for rational people.

Clearly, hitting Iran’s nuclear facilities is just a temporary fix. There’s got to be strategic follow-up. And that’s precisely why the Pentagon is looking at other military scenarios involving simultaneous strikes that will decapitate Iranian leadership and neutralize Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, for the purpose of providing the Iranian populace with a fighting chance at regime change. Hopefully, the populace will have the wherewithal to overthrow the tyrants at the helm of Iran’s terror state. As noted recently by scholar Michael Ledeen of National Review Online, “ this seems a particularly good moment to rally to the side of the Iranian people, who are known to loathe the regime of Ayatollah Khamenei, and who are showing their will to resist in very dramatic fashion.” Importantly, the Pentagon has learned from the Iraq experience, and is not placing all its eggs in one basket (i.e. depending on a narrow scenario to pan out). Rather, the Pentagon continues to develop a host of contingency plans pertaining to the ouster of the malevolent ayatollahs of Iran.

In a just-published piece from the Washington Post entitled “US is Studying Military Strike Options on Iran”, it notes that the “Pentagon and CIA planners have been exploring possible targets, such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. Although a land invasion is not contemplated, military officers are weighing alternatives ranging from a limited airstrike aimed at key nuclear sites, to a more extensive bombing campaign designed to destroy an array of military and political targets.” Clearly, the Pentagon is seeking to develop ways to aid Iran’s citizenry in their quest to topple the current regime.

Moreover, the article underscores that all this saber rattling by the US keeps the pressure on the Iranian leadership to let diplomacy work. We’re utilizing all the leverage possible in hopes of gaining compliance from the Iranians on the nuclear issue. And, of course, if Iran still fails to cooperate, then the military option is always available.

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