The squalid history of how the Bush Administration lied its way into a war is currently being exposed in Washington - and meanwhile, that same history is gearing up to repeat itself in Iran. Despite denying that they have any plans to attack, the US is moving to create a cassis bellum out of Iranian "support" for the Iraqi resistance, is deploying another aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, and has selected its initial targets for an airstrike. But rather than a "surgical strike" aimed at removing Iran's ability to construct a nuclear weapon (an idea problematic in itself), they're planning something far wider:
US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.
Even if you believe a "surgical strike" can be justified in the face of a distant (rather than imminent) threat, this can not be. It fails to meet the moral requirement that any use of force must be limited to that proportionate and necessary to prevent the threat. Once again, the US is trying to cloak an illegal war of aggression in the guise of "self-defence".
And of course that assumes that bombing can even succeed. But according to a simulation run by Atlantic Monthly, it can't - there is no military solution to the problem of Iran (and its become even less likely to work since the simulation was run). The key problem is this:
The United States simply knew too little about which nuclear projects were under way and where they could be destroyed with confidence. If it launched an attack and removed some unknown proportion of the facilities, the United States might retard Iran's progress by an unknown number of months or years-at the cost of inviting all-out Iranian retaliation. "Pre-emption is only a tactic that puts off the nuclear development," Gardiner said after the exercise. "It cannot make it go away. Since our intelligence is so limited, we won't even know what we achieved after an attack. If we set it back a year, what do we do a year later? A pre-emptive strike would carry low military risk but high strategic risk."
In other words, it will not work, and stands a very good chance of making things much, much worse. Just like Iraq, really.