Part VI wraps up the "Neo-connecting the Dots to Iran" series with a sneak preview of Armageddon and beyond.
On October 7th, America's top military commander in Iraq accused Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, of having been a member of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. As the Jerusalem Post noted, General David Petraeus made the charge "without citing any specific intelligence."
Petraeus also told journalists that Iran is "responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed US soldiers." Petraeus apparently provided little to back that statement up as well. When you get right down to it, the "evidence" of Iranian "meddling" in Iraq boils down to captured documents and databases we haven't seen, confessions obtained under interrogation that we haven't heard, testimony from a U.S. military weapons expert we haven't met, and a handful of photographs of weapons allegedly made in Iran that for all we know could have been taken in Joe Lieberman's basement.
Is it any wonder Colin Powell hasn't volunteered to come back on duty and present all this "proof" to the United Nations?
He Said, She Said, It Said
All the back and forth nonsense between Iran and America boils down to a "did not/did so" contest. U.S. President George W. Bush says the Iranians want nuclear weapons. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says they don't. Dubya and his boys say the Iranians are fomenting violence in Iraq. Ahmi and his guys say they aren't. Who are we to believe?
Ahmadinejad says a lot of stupid things in public, but he's a piker in that department compared to Bush. Unlike Bush, as far as we can tell, Ahmadinejad hasn't lied to us yet. I know, he said there are no homosexuals in Iran, but that's probably true because he or Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei probably had them all killed.
And it's funny how General Petraeus can blithely accuse Iran of supplying arms to Iraqi militants on the basis of fuzzy evidence when the U.S. Government Accountability Office has provided substantial proof that arms were supplied to bad Iraqi actors in 2004 and 2005 by General Petraeus himself.
But what the heck, Bush isn't going to go to war with his "main man" Dave Petraeus for helping screw things up in Iraq, so Iran is the next best scapegoat, right?
Where's Major Kong?
A strike on Iran, however "surgical" it might be, could produce a broad range of possible branches and sequels. At one extreme, the earth's surface becomes uninhabitable when action in the Persian Gulf escalates into global thermonuclear war. China and Russia compete with the United States for allies and subterranean living space in a post-apocalyptic "battle for hearts and mines."
At the other end of the spectrum, the Iran attack leads Osama bin Laden to unilaterally declare a fatwah on Islamo-fascism. A Zogby poll reveals that everyone, including the Iranians, feels grateful to the U.S. for taking military action that prevented further bloodshed and suffering. In a show of concession to the human rights concerns of America's ruling Christian right, Iran stops killing its homosexuals but still doesn't allow them to get married.
Neither of these scenarios is likely, but one realistic end game to a U.S. war with Iran has already been played out. In the summer of 2002, the Pentagon sponsored a global war game named Millennium Challenge (MC02), an exercise that tested U.S. force capabilities in a hypothetical conflict with Iran. Afterwards, the Red Force (Iranian) commander, retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul van Riper complained that the game "was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue 'win.'" Practicing unconventional, fourth generation style warfare--the kind of warfare Iran would likely conduct against us--van Riper managed to put the entire U.S. fleet on the bottom of the Persian Gulf. The game masters called time out and resurrected the fleet, and van Riper resigned from the game in disgust.
Unfortunately, if Iran manages to sink our fleet in a real war, they're not likely to quit or help us float our ships back to the surface. I don't think Iran can actually sink a significant number of capital ships of the U.S. Navy, but it can do an embarrassing amount of damage to them. A torpedo in the side of an amphibious ship loaded with Marines or an anti-ship cruise missile slammed into the flight deck of an aircraft carrier would be a devastating psychological strategic defeat for U.S. forces--and we've already had enough of that sort of thing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But whatever does or doesn't happen with Iran, American neoconservatives will declare "mission accomplished" and start figuring out what kind of war they want to start next. If recent events are any indication, the neocons will have Israel perform a trial run against a country like Lebanon or Syria before they try anything with American troops again.
And any future military action in the Middle East will no doubt stay consistent with the Bush administration's proliferation policies. America will continue to threaten signatories to the United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty like Iran and Syria who pursue nuclear energy programs as allowed by the treaty as an "inalienable right" while we back countries like Israel and India that have nuclear weapons but aren't part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
If you're asking yourself whether this is the kind of thing they teach in university political science programs the answer, lamentably, is yeah, it pretty much is. Keep in mind that in 2009, our present Secretary of State wants to return and teach international relations at Stanford University, and Stanford might just take her back.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword and ePluribus. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.