Thursday, August 30, 2007


The US has made military preparations to destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state aparatus and economic infrastructure within days, if not hours, of President George Bush giving the order.
That's the conclusion of a study [PDF] by the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies released today. The Americans are ready to go: they've positioned three carrier battle groups withing striking distance and have special forces on the ground already conducting terrorist attacks. They're just waiting for cassis bellum, or failing that, for Bush to decide the Republicans need a bump in the polls. As for what they're planning, the study dismisses the idea of a narrowly targetted strike on Iranian nuclear facilities as too dangerous - given the lack of intelligence, it would likely merely delay rather than prevent an Iranian nuclear programme. This pushes the US inexorably in the direction of a widespread bombing campaign, aimed at destroying Iran's military capability, provoking regime change, or even reducing Iran to a failed state.

This is simply madness. Quite apart from the sheer immorality of it (in case people need reminding, military force can only morally be used in individual or collective self-defence, with pre-emptive action limited to cases of imminent attack. Iran has not attacked its neighbours, and no such attack is imminent), it is politically counter-productive. When George Bush included Iran in his "axis of evil" in 2002, the result was a resurgance of anti-American views and an increase in support for the conservatives and hardliners, which in turn led to the election of President Ahmadinejad. The consequences of an actual attack are likely to be much stronger. A bombing campaign might delay Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but it will guarantee that they will try, and make them much more likely to use it when they succeed. And internationally, it would make it very clear to every second- and third-tier state that nuclear weapons are a vital necessity to deter possible US attacks. As for the idea of bombing Iran into a failed state, we know how well that worked out in Afghanistan - and how well it is working out in Iraq.

Contrary to the opinion of the hawks and the NeoCons, there is no military solution to Iran. The only solution is long-term and political. And that solution gets further and further away the more Bush rattles his sabre.