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by (ret) Col. Sam Gardiner
Wednesday, Nov. 01, 2006 at 4:29 AM
That a war of aggression of the US against Iran makes no sense is understood in Europe but not in the Bush administration.. No military solution is possible for the problems with Iran. Diplomacy is the only possibility.
BUSH’S WAR COURSE AGAINST IRAN LEADS TO RUIN
[This article summarizing (ret.) Col. Sam Gardiner’s “The End of the Summer of Diplomacy: Assessing US Military Options on Iran” published in Zeit-fragen, October 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/. Gardiner speaks of the absurdity of a US attack on Iran for the US itself. In his analysis, Gardiner relies on years of experience in military planning.]
In his analysis on the threatening war of the US against Iran, Sam Gardiner stressed that the “summer of diplomacy” is over. This obviously served the Bush administration as a pretext for the military option. That a war of aggression of the US against Iran makes no sense is understood in Europe but not in the Bush administration. The standard whether something “makes sense” was not confirmed in the past four years in Iraq and is unlikely to be confirmed if Iran should be attacked, Gardiner emphasizes.
PLANNING AND UNCERTAINTY
The writing of the history of warfare is dominated by aggressors, Gardiner says, who conclude attacking early is better than waiting. This is also heard today from Washington. Another point that touches on planning is the absence of reliable secret service information about Iran. Paradoxically, this absence produces information gaps but not reserve and intensifies the pressure to attack. Pressure for war against Iran arises from the Israeli security establishment.
Military operations are already underway behind the scenes, according to Gardiner. “When US commandos began penetrating Iran – probably in the summer of 2004 – their mission seemed limited. The goal was to find and describe the Iranian nuclear program. From press reports, we know the special unit carrying out these operations implanted sensors to monitor radioactivity. […] The incursions concentrated on the northeast where the Iranian nuclear facilities are located. The basis for this invasion was probably Camp War Horse in Iraq.”
At the end of 2003 or the beginning of 2004, Israel also carried out operations in the interior of Iran. The Israeli commanders allegedly operated from a base in Iraq. These commandos also implanted sensors. Gardiner assumes the American and Israel operations were coordinated. Around this time, the US began launching remote-controlled projectiles over the nuclear facilities inside Iran. The US mentioned the flights numerous times in its press even though this was certainly embarrassing for the Iranians.
IRAN / SYRIA OPERATIONS GROUP
In 2005 the balance shifted within the US government in favor of those who pressed for a regime change in Iran. This ultimately led to the formation of the Iran / Syria Operations Group within the State department. The United States passed from gathering secret service information in Iran to establishing contacts to ethnic minorities. Reports suggest the US supports militant groups in the Iranian region of Belutschistan, according to Gardiner. “There were murders and kidnappings in this area. Convoys of Iranian revolutionary guards were attacked. In his article in the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh confirmed this region was one of the areas where US forces operated. The Iranian press also accused the United States of operating there. In addition, press reports presumed the US may have been supported former members of the MEK (Mudschaheddin-e Khalq) in Belutschistan that have their base in Iraq.”
The Iranians also charged the US with involvement in shooting down two of their aircraft, an old C-130 and a Falcon jet with the leader of the revolutionary guard on board.
WAR IS PLANNED
What will be the scenario of the war on Iran? Gardiner says: “The UN Security Council will not impose any serious sanctions against Iran. The US will then seek a coalition of the willing to enforce sharp sanctions concentrating on the Iranian leadership. These sanctions will be directed more at producing internal and international support for the American position than at softening the Iranians. Gardiner is convinced sanctions will provide the conservative leadership in Iran with full powers. An irony is striking here. “This is a model that seems to play itself out with the choice of the military option. From diplomacy to sanctions, the administration will make no credible effort at averting a war […] until the only option still on the table will be the military option. If the imposition of sanctions does not change Teheran’s position, the political decision-makers will revert to an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
US-LED WAR OF AGGRESSION
American military planners will probably not stop there. Iran presumably has two facilities for producing chemical weapons. “These will be smashed. Iran’s medium-range rockets that were recently moved closer to Iraq will be shattered. 14 air bases with protected aircraft exist. Although the Iranian air force does not present a great threat, some of their airfields are only 15 minutes flying time from Baghdad. Military planners would want to eliminate this potential danger. The Pentagon will destroy the facilities that could be used to threaten shipping in the Gulf. This means cruise missile attacks on deployment sites, Iranian diesel U-boats and Iranian marine bases,” Gardiner says. The US may carry out the operation independently. Hardly any visible support will come from Israel and Great Britain while France may be consulted.
ATTACK ON THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM OR ON THE GOVERNMENT?
The policy of the US aims at eliminating Iran’s nuclear program and at a regime change by means of air attacks. Gardiner says: “This sounds simple. Air force planners always have a good story up their sleeves. However they hardly ever fulfilled their promises – in the Second World War, in the Korean War or in Vietnam. This was demonstrated again in the Israeli attacks on Hezbollah. No serious Iran expert believes the argument of facilitating regime change. On the contrary, while weakening the leadership and replacing it with another improving relations between Iran and the US is the assumed goal, these strikes will probably strengthen the clerical leadership and make the United States the permanent enemy of Iran.”
THE REACTION OF IRAN
How will Iran react? With an attack on Israel, Gardiner presumes, with Hezbollah as the primary instrument. Israel would be blamed (for an attack of the US). Moqtada el-Sadr has publically declared he will attack the US forces in Iraq if the US attacks Iran. Moqtada el-Sadr’s armed forces with 140,000 men guard the oil pipelines. In interrupting the flow of oil, Iran will begin in Iraq. Iran has the capacity to attack installations of other oil-producing countries in the region. A targeted attack on the headquarters of UN troops in Lebanon could also have an echo.
Since Syria and Iran signed a defense treaty on June 15, Syrian forces could be used if Iran is attacked. Weak governments in the Muslim world, Gardiner continues, could fall under the pressure of the angry populations, for example the governments of Pakistan, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
HIGHER OIL PRICES STRENGTHEN RUSSIA AND VENEZUELA
As a result of a US strike, the price of oil will certainly soar. “A former oil minister of Kuwait privately forecasts an upper limit of 5 per barrel. A confidential analysis of a larger European bank expects the price to level out at 0. Another cautious estimate is over 0,” Gardiner says. “If the prices suddenly rise strongly, consequences will be noticeable on a third plane. The most obvious would be a global recession running simultaneously everywhere intensified by the present US balance of trade and budget deficits. Another political effect would be that oil-exporting countries outside the region would realize significantly higher revenues from oil production. As a consequence, countries like Venezuela and Russia would enjoy increased influence while the West suffers under recession.”
HOW THE US CONGRESS IS ELIMINATED
When could the United States start the attack? Additional units of the navy will be moved into the region – as is already occurring. The campaign of the Bush administration against Iran may then start up involving three themes – the nuclear program, terrorism and the threat to Israel’s existence.
Will the president need the consent of the Congress for a strike against Iran? “Secretary Rice reacted to this question before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October 2005 with the following statement: “I will say nothing that limits his authority as commander-in-chief.” Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Maurice Hinchey offered an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill in June that the president would need the approval of Congress before taking military actions against Iran. “The draft failed in Congress,” Gardiner said.
NO MILITARY SOLUTION IS POSSIBLE
In the last months, the administration has let information and documents leak out that make a connection between Iran and al-Qaida. The report of the House Permanent Select Committee on the Iranian Threat emphasizes a connection to al-Qaida. According to Gardiner, this connection of Iraq with al-Qaida helps sell an attack to the American people. This argumentation helps represent the strike against Iran as part of a global war against terror that Congress already approved.
In his conclusions, Gardiner is clear: the war course of the Bush administration leads to ruin. The problems with Iran will not be solved, the region will not prosper, Iran will not abandon its nuclear program and a regime change will not be forced. The US economy will suffer, the position of the US in the Middle East will weaken and US influence in the world will diminish. Gardiner ends with the statement: “When I completed the 2004 war games with Iran, I summarized what I learned. Only two simple sentences for political decision-makers remained after all my effort: “No military solutions are possible for the problems with Iran. You must ensure that diplomacy functions. I have not changed my opinion. This conclusion made sense at that time. It makes even more sense today.”
Sam Gardiner, “The End of the Summer of Diplomacy. Assessing US Military Options in Iran,” A Century Foundation Report, New York 2006
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