“Diplomacy has failed,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told AIPAC, “Iran is on the verge of becoming nuclear and we cannot afford that.”
“We have to contemplate the final option,” said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., “the use of force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
War is a “terrible thing,” said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., but “sometimes it is better to go to war than to allow the Holocaust to develop a second time.”
Graham then describes the war we Americans should fight:
“If military force is ever employed, it should be done in a decisive fashion. The Iran government’s ability to wage conventional war against its neighbors and our troops in the region should not exist. They should not have one plane that can fly or one ship that can float.”
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Neocon Central, writes, “The only questions remaining, one Washington politico tells me, are who starts it, and how it ends.”
As to who starts it, we know the answer. Teheran has not started a war in memory and is not going to launch a suicide attack on a superpower with thousands of nuclear weapons. As with Iraq in 2003, the war will be launched by the United States against a nation that did not attack us — to strip it of weapons it does not have.
But to Graham’s point, if we are going to start this war, prudence dictates that we destroy Iran’s ability to fight back. At a minimum, we would have to use airstrikes and cruise missiles to hit a range of targets.
First, Iran’s nuclear facilities such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the U.S.-built reactor that makes medical isotopes, the power plant at Bushehr, the centrifuge facility near Qom and the heavy water plant at Arak.
Our problem here is that the last three are not even operational and all are subject to U.N. inspections. There are Russians at Bushehr. And there is no evidence that diversion to a weapons program has taken place.
If Iran has secret plants working on nuclear weapons, why have we not been told where, and demanded that U.N. inspectors be let in? Why did 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, three years ago, tell us they did not exist and Iran gave up its drive for a nuclear weapon in 2003?
If Iran is on the “verge” of a bomb, as Schumer claims, the entire U.S. intelligence community should be decapitated for incompetence.
This week, in a hyped headline, “CIA: Iran capable of producing nukes,” the Washington Times said that a new CIA report claims, “Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so.”
Excuse me, but this is mush. We could say the same of a dozen countries that use nuclear power and study nuclear technology.
But let us continue with Graham’s blitzkrieg war.
To prevent a counterattack, the United States would have to take out Iran’s 14 airfields and all its warplanes on the ground. We would also have to sink every warship and submarine in Iran’s navy and destroy some 200 missile, patrol and speedboats operated by the Revolutionary Guard, else they would be dropping mines and mauling our warships.
Also, it would be crucial on day one to hit Iran’s launch sites and missile plants for, like Saddam in 1991, Iran would probably attack Israel, to make it an American and Israeli war on an Islamic republic.
Among other critical targets would be the Silkworm anti-ship missile sites on Iran’s coastline that would menace U.S. warships and oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Any Iranian attack on ships or seeding of mines would likely close the gulf and send world oil prices soaring.
Revolutionary Guard barracks, especially the Quds Force near Iraq, would have to be hit to slow troop movement to and across the border into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and civilians. The same might be necessary against Iranian troops near Afghanistan.
With Iran’s ally Hezbollah in south Beirut, all U.S. civilians should probably be pulled out of Lebanon before an attack lest they wind up dead or hostages. And how safe would Americans be in the gulf, especially Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a predominantly Shia island?
And whose side would Shia Iraq take?
Would we have to intern all Iranian nationals in the United States, as we did Germans and Italians in 1941? How many terror attacks on soft targets in the USA could we expect from Iranian and Hezbollah agents in reprisal for our killing thousands of civilians in hundreds of strikes on Iran?
Before the War Party stampedes us into yet another war, the Senate should find out if Teheran is really on the “verge” of getting a bomb, and why deterrence, which never failed us, cannot succeed with Iran.
Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and A Republic Not An Empire. His latest book is Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. See his website.