One gets the impression that there are some people in Washington who believe that Israel or the U.S. can bomb Iran's nuclear reactors, fly home, and it will be mission complete.
It makes you wonder if perhaps there is a virus going around that is gradually making people stupid. If we or Israel attack Iran, we will have a new war on our hands. The Iranians are not going to shrug off an attack and say, "You naughty boys, you."
Consider how much trouble Iraq has given us. Some 4,000 dead and 29,000 wounded, a half a trillion dollars in cost and still climbing, and five years later, we cannot say that the country is pacified.
Iraq is a small country compared with Iran. Iran has about 70 million people. Its western mountains border the Persian Gulf. In other words, its missiles and guns look down on the U.S. ships below it. And it has lots of missiles, from short-range to intermediate-range (around 2,200 kilometers).
More to the point, it has been equipped by Russia with the fastest anti-ship missile on the planet. The SS-N-22 Sunburn can travel at Mach 3 at high altitude and at Mach 2.2 at low altitude. That is faster than anything in our arsenal.
Iran's conventional forces include an army of 540,000 men and 300,000 reserves, including 120,000 Iranian Guards especially trained in unconventional warfare. It has more than 1,600 main battle tanks and 21,000 other armored combat vehicles. It has 3,200 artillery pieces, three submarines, 59 surface warships and 10 amphibious ships.
It's been receiving help in arming itself from China, North Korea and Russia. Unlike Iraq, Iran's forces have not been worn down with bombing, wars and sanctions. It also has a new anti-aircraft defense system from Russia that I've heard is pretty snazzy.
So, if you think we or Israel can attack Iran and not expect retaliation, I'd have to say with regret that you are a moron. If you think we could easily handle Iran in an all-out war, I'd have to promote you to idiot.
Attacking Iran would be folly, but we seem to be living in the Age of Folly. Morons and idiots took us into an unjustified war against Iraq before we had finished the job in Afghanistan. Now we have troops tied down in both countries.
China has a tremendous investment and interest in Iran and would likely see an attack as a threat to its national interests. China could strike a large blow against the U.S. just by dumping the financial paper we have foolishly allowed the Chinese to pile up, thanks to the trade deficit.
For some years now, I've worried that we seem to be more and more like Colonial England — arrogant, racist, overestimating our own capacity and underestimating that of our enemies. As the fate of the British Empire demonstrates, that is a fatal flaw.
The British never dreamed that the "little yellow people" could come ashore by land and take Singapore from the rear or that they would sink the pride of the British fleet, but they did both.
I suppose no one in Washington can imagine the Iranians sinking one of our carriers in the Persian Gulf. How'd you like to be the president who has to tell the American people that we've lost a carrier for the first time since World War II?
Exactly how the Iranians will respond to an attack, I don't know, but they will respond. In keeping with our present policy, our attack on Iran would be illegal, since under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
Who would have thought that we would become the rogue nation committing acts of aggression around the globe?
June 30, 2008
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.