On Point: Iran: War Option on the Table


by Austin Bay
August 4, 2010

NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday beganthe war talk of August. It's not quite the guns of August, 1914, but it ain'tbeanbag, either.

When "Meet the Press" asked Chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff Mike Mullen if the Pentagon had a plan for attacking Iran,Mullen replied, "We do." He added, "Military actions have beenon the table and remain on the table."

Mullen tempered his response by emphasizing an attack isalways an "option." Mullen kept his hypothetical saber stroke in adiplomatic sheath by emphasizing the U.S. regards military action to destroyIranian nuclear capabilities as an "option."

Mentioning the overt war option lit a Beltway firestorm, buthis tough statement is one of many made by Obama administration officials sinceJanuary of this year. Rumors of covert options designed to damage the Iraniannuclear program have made the rounds for several years. CIA Director LeonPanetta, in late June, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and carefullyhinted at covert war options.

Panetta was asked about Obama administration intimationsthat Iran had encountered "technical troubles" in its nuclearprogram. Were Iranians lousy bomb-builders, or was sabotage involved?

Panetta replied: "... I can't speak to obviouslyintelligence operations, and I won't. It's enough to say that, clearly, theyhave had problems. There are problems with regards to their ability to developenrichment ... ."

In that same interview, Panetta siad that sanctions would"probably not" deter Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mullen's and Panetta'sresponses are links in a political gambit involving negotiations, economicsanctions, covert operations and (potentially) war.

Iranians know this. Yadollah Javani, identified as thepolitical deputy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), immediatelyresponded 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 theZionist regime of Israel." Javani dismissed Mullen's statement as a"psychological operation."

He's right -- it was. And his response is also calculated,as are the violent threats issued by Iran's Lebanese (Hezbollah) andPalestinian (Hamas) proxies.

Javani is also recycling radical bombast. This pastFebruary, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed to deal "a tellingblow against global arrogance." The blow proved to be hot air, but he gotdomestic political traction, which was his aim.

The Iranian domestic front is a key battleground in anycomprehensive plan to stymie the mullahs' nuclear quest, for Iranian dissidentsare the mullahs' biggest problem. When Iranian dissidents began demonstratingin the wake of the fraudulent June 2009 elections, the Obama administrationfailed to support them. That was a huge mistake, for promoting democracy is apowerful diplomatic tool. Has this mistake been corrected? If President BarackObama is serious about ending the nuclear threat posed by the Khomeinists, itmust be.

Over the last five years, numerous plans for attackingIranian nuclear facilities have surfaced in the press. One identified aroundtwo-dozen Iranian nuclear-related targets. Another recommended destroying IRGCfacilities -- IRGC military thugs keep the mullahs in power. Other plansidentified only six or seven truly critical nuclear facilities.

The claim is destroying these sites would seriously disruptthe bomb project. A "simultaneous strategic bombing strike" on thefacilities is one U.S. attack option. In a short time frame, aircraft, cruisemissiles and perhaps ballistic missiles with conventional warheads woulddeliver hundreds of precision weapons, hitting nuclear targets and air defensesites. Follow-up raids could continue for weeks. Special operations commandoswould enter Iran, collecting intelligence, providing target data and possiblyattacking very high-value targets.

A successful attack could disrupt the mullahs' nuclear questfor a decade, especially if key regime personnel and technicians die in theraids. However, the regime -- if it survives -- might counterattack in Iraq,strike an Arab Persian Gulf state, attack Israel or launch terrorist attacks inthe U.S.

Note the key phrase "if it survives." Acomprehensive military-political operation to end the nuclear threat must haveas its ultimate goal ending the Khomeinist regime. That means encouragingIranian dissidents and helping them prepare to take control of a new, democraticIranian government. 

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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