by Austin Bay
August 4, 2010
NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday began
the war talk of August. It's not quite the guns of August, 1914, but it ain't
When "Meet the Press" asked Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen if the Pentagon had a plan for attacking Iran,
Mullen replied, "We do." He added, "Military actions have been
on the table and remain on the table."
Mullen tempered his response by emphasizing an attack is
always an "option." Mullen kept his hypothetical saber stroke in a
diplomatic sheath by emphasizing the U.S. regards military action to destroy
Iranian nuclear capabilities as an "option."
Mentioning the overt war option lit a Beltway firestorm, but
his tough statement is one of many made by Obama administration officials since
January of this year. Rumors of covert options designed to damage the Iranian
nuclear program have made the rounds for several years. CIA Director Leon
Panetta, in late June, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and carefully
hinted at covert war options.
Panetta was asked about Obama administration intimations
that Iran had encountered "technical troubles" in its nuclear
program. Were Iranians lousy bomb-builders, or was sabotage involved?
Panetta replied: "... I can't speak to obviously
intelligence operations, and I won't. It's enough to say that, clearly, they
have had problems. There are problems with regards to their ability to develop
enrichment ... ."
In that same interview, Panetta siad that sanctions would
"probably not" deter Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mullen's and Panetta's
responses are links in a political gambit involving negotiations, economic
sanctions, covert operations and (potentially) war.
Iranians know this. Yadollah Javani, identified as the
political deputy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), immediately
responded to Mullen. In an official statement, Javani said Iran has prepared
"a crushing plan to respond to any possible aggression of the U.S. or the
Zionist regime of Israel." Javani dismissed Mullen's statement as a
He's right -- it was. And his response is also calculated,
as are the violent threats issued by Iran's Lebanese (Hezbollah) and
Palestinian (Hamas) proxies.
Javani is also recycling radical bombast. This past
February, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed to deal "a telling
blow against global arrogance." The blow proved to be hot air, but he got
domestic political traction, which was his aim.
The Iranian domestic front is a key battleground in any
comprehensive plan to stymie the mullahs' nuclear quest, for Iranian dissidents
are the mullahs' biggest problem. When Iranian dissidents began demonstrating
in the wake of the fraudulent June 2009 elections, the Obama administration
failed to support them. That was a huge mistake, for promoting democracy is a
powerful diplomatic tool. Has this mistake been corrected? If President Barack
Obama is serious about ending the nuclear threat posed by the Khomeinists, it
Over the last five years, numerous plans for attacking
Iranian nuclear facilities have surfaced in the press. One identified around
two-dozen Iranian nuclear-related targets. Another recommended destroying IRGC
facilities -- IRGC military thugs keep the mullahs in power. Other plans
identified only six or seven truly critical nuclear facilities.
The claim is destroying these sites would seriously disrupt
the bomb project. A "simultaneous strategic bombing strike" on the
facilities is one U.S. attack option. In a short time frame, aircraft, cruise
missiles and perhaps ballistic missiles with conventional warheads would
deliver hundreds of precision weapons, hitting nuclear targets and air defense
sites. Follow-up raids could continue for weeks. Special operations commandos
would enter Iran, collecting intelligence, providing target data and possibly
attacking very high-value targets.
A successful attack could disrupt the mullahs' nuclear quest
for a decade, especially if key regime personnel and technicians die in the
raids. However, the regime -- if it survives -- might counterattack in Iraq,
strike an Arab Persian Gulf state, attack Israel or launch terrorist attacks in
Note the key phrase "if it survives." A
comprehensive military-political operation to end the nuclear threat must have
as its ultimate goal ending the Khomeinist regime. That means encouraging
Iranian dissidents and helping them prepare to take control of a new, democratic