“Iran’s testing of a new missile . . . ‘demonstrates that Iran has a very active and aggressive military program under way,’ US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. ‘That includes both, as we’ve talked about before, efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction as well as delivery systems’.”
Middle East News, April 1.
“The Pentagon is preparing to set off a record-breaking bang, detonating 635 tonnes of high explosives and sending a mushroom cloud into the sky over the Nevada desert. The blast, on June 2, codenamed Divine Strake [sic], is likely to be the biggest controlled conventional explosion in military history, experts said, and is designed to test the impact of bunker-busting [nuclear] bombs aimed at underground targets.”
Guardian (UK) April 1.
The Bush Administration is preparing for a series of air strikes (or Divine Strakes) on Iran. There is a chance that the Christian fundamentalists of Washington could be persuaded that attacking the country would be insane, but the hard core of loonies will probably win, and there will be yet another war.
The consequences for the US and the rest of the world will be terrible. Lots of people will die, but since that is irrelevant to Bush zealots in any context there is no point in examining their plans from the perspectives of morality or international law.
An April LA Times’ poll showed that 48 per cent of Americans want war on Iran, while only 40 don’t, when answering the question “If Iran continued to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, would you support or oppose military action?” They’ve been brainwashed, just like the millions who still believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11, and the Washington mind-benders are licking their lips.
Notification of the ‘Divine Strake’ quasi-nuclear test in June may have been designed in part to frighten Iran’s government out of continuing its nuclear program, but its purpose was officially advertised as improvement of “warfighters’ confidence in their ability to plan to defeat hardened and deeply buried targets”. Don’t you love the word “defeat”? What they mean, in their absurd and savage jargon, is “obliterate by nuclear bomb”. And if they were anything but bloody-minded barbaric humbugs they would say so. With their fingers poised on the buttons of seven thousand US nukes they trot out fatuous phrases like “weapons of mass destruction” which would reduce us all to fits of laughter if the purpose of these fanatics was not so evil.
The psychos intend to destroy the Iranian government, and it will take a near-miracle for their planned onslaught to be cancelled. They do not care about what will happen after they blitz the place with their bunker-busters and all the other demented video-game whizzery at their disposal. The word ‘strake’ is meaningless in hi-technology language, but preceded by ‘Divine’ it conveys exactly, crudely and brutally, what is intended : Watch out, Islamic nations : the Crusaders are going to get you.
Iran recently tested four items of antique military technology. The missiles and torpedoes it fired off so publicly are about the standard of weapons that the US had 30-40 years ago. But this does not mean to say they won’t be effective in achieving the immediate aims of Iran’s leaders if their country is attacked.
If the US attacks Iran the Tehran government will then try to close the Persian Gulf to the passage of oil tankers. It will also try to destroy as many oilfields as possible along and off the west coast of the Gulf, and fire as many missiles as it can towards the bases of its enemies.
What are the Iranians expected to do if they are blitzed by Divine “deep-penetration” nuclear bombs, cruise missiles and sundry other air strikes? Does anyone in their right mind think they will sit back and say ‘Oh, well, that’s life’ after the US has attacked their territory and killed Iranian citizens? (Perhaps thousands of them ; maybe more. Who cares?–not the psychopaths in Washington and their ideological brothers in Tel Aviv.)
Of course the Iranians will hit back, and they will do so to the utmost of their power. Sure, that isn’t much. But in addition to destabilizing the entire Middle East the US war will ensure that Iran won’t lack allies. One thing even Cheney and Bush can’t claim is that Al Qaeda and Iran are linked, simply because the former is Sunni Muslim and Iranians are mostly Shias. But when the bombs and cruise missiles thunder down on Iran, there will not be a Sunni Muslim country or organization in the world that will not rally to support the ‘victim of the Infidels’, no matter that it is Shia. I wouldn’t like to be an American citizen on the streets of any country in the world after Washington hit Iran.
And the truly terrible thing is that the large and growing number of pro-western young Iranians, hundreds of thousands of them, desperate to be released from a humorless, unmerciful and cretinous medieval theocracy, will automatically unite in hatred of the country that attacked them.
The Pentagon has packed the Persian Gulf with dozens of warships that have identified and tracked almost every radar and missile site along the Iraqi coast. Satellites have done the same inland. Strike aircraft from US carriers have been trailing their coats and practicing attacks on Iranian defense installations for years. The shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner by the USS Vincennes was only part of the game. (300 innocent people were murdered and the captain of the ship was decorated, which gave Iran the message about where it stands in the US scheme of things.)
Washington will not dare invade Iran, of course, because Iran’s military would not be the walkover that the pathetic Iraqi army was, and US ground forces would suffer thousands of casualties. The stand-off attack will be the usual video game, controlled from air-conditioned coke-swigging comfort, followed by ham-handed attempts at public relations damage control.
The first US priority after attacking Iran will be to try to stop the Iranians closing the Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz which they could do by sinking a passing tanker. 90 per cent of oil from the Gulf–about two fifths of the world’s supply–is moved by tanker through the Strait, which is less than five navigable miles wide. An easy target area.
It will probably take only one sunk ship to seriously disrupt world oil supplies. But even if a single tanker doesn’t actually block the Strait, the crews of others are not going to be happy about sailing into danger. Insurance rates will go through the roof, and recent spikes in oil prices will be nothing compared with what would come. If the Iranians manage to sink two large tankers at the Gulf choke point, say goodbye to Gulf oil exports for a week or so. Perhaps US citizens will be happy to pay $10 or more per gallon to fill their cars ; but maybe not.
Even then, does anyone think that Iran would let the US clear the Hormuz Strait without doing its best to disrupt salvage efforts? Like hell it would. There would be suicide boat attacks, suicide plane attacks, and further missile strikes. Although most airfields in Iran would be destroyed by cruise missiles and much of the Iranian air force would be shot out of the sky by roving US fighter jocks within hours of the war beginning, Tehran would still retain a limited offensive capability.
The Iranians would fire most of the some 400 medium-range ballistic missiles they’ve got at US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and at the oil fields across the Gulf. They know exactly where they are, without need for all the clever satellite technology the Pentagon has, because their myriad supporters tell them the precise locations. (There are hundreds of thousands of Shias in these countries.) The missiles might not cause many casualties among US troops, but they will destroy a lot of oil production capacity in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the southern Gulf nations. (Some US troops will die, of course : maybe a few hundred if a couple of missiles strike lucky. But what does that matter to the Bush Administration?)
If Israel is involved in the attacks (and, given the paranoia of some of Iran’s leaders about Israel, probably even if Israel is not involved in the attacks), then some longer-range missiles will be pooped off in a westerly direction, hoping to impact somewhere in Israel, which at least some of them would do. They might deliver biological or chemical warheads, but even if they are just high explosive and cause only a dozen or so casualties each there would be irresistible pressure within Israel to retaliate, probably with nuclear weapons. Nobody except a few Librul peaceniks will care about that.
But even before Israel’s strikes, the price of oil would have gone to $100 a barrel, and rising. In the US $10 a gallon would be only a memory. In Europe, and especially the UK, governments would be forced to reduce their enormous taxes imposed on vehicle fuel, signaling a downward economic spiral. Russia and China would cope remarkably well, but almost all the developed world, and especially Japan, would suffer to the verge of catastrophe. The social development of thrusting India could unravel with disastrous consequences, given the already critical state of the Naxalite (Maoist) insurrection in eight states of the country.
Most of South America would laugh at the plight of the US. The democratically-elected Mr Chavez of Venezuela (excellent piece about him in The Atlantic, this month), so much hated by Bush and Cheney who are plotting his overthrow because Venezuela does not support US Big Oil, would take delight in playing the oil card.
It is not well known in the US that Venezuela is so important, even vital, in the matrix of American oil consumption. (Although its oil is thick and difficult to process.) But it produces about 5 per cent of the world’s total, and American citizens will rapidly realize that it does, when the oil crunch begins. The US Department of Energy states that “Venezuela contains some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. It consistently ranks as one the top suppliers of U.S. oil imports and is among the top ten crude oil producers.” And this is the country that the Cheney-Bush administration is determined to alienate. If this sort of thing appeared in fiction it would be ridiculed as being too far-fetched.
In the Malacca Strait and other sea routes around Indonesia there would be disruption, even if Iran did not manage to close the Gulf. The citizens of Muslim countries of East Asia despise, distrust and hate the US just as much as those elsewhere. It would be surprising, after a US attack on Iran, if there was not an attempt to block these tanker routes. Again, a single flaming tanker hulk could do it, causing enormous extra costs to oil transportation to Japan.
The US banned oil imports from Iran after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, but it is estimated that Iran exports about 4 million barrels a day. This amount is scheduled to rise because India and China and some others have invested in oil and gas production facilities. India resents being ordered by Washington to discontinue its negotiations with Iran about an overland pipeline. China has an agreement worth US$100 billion for supply of Iranian natural gas over the next 25 years. And China, although saying nothing publicly about the US obsession with Iran, is going to react fiercely if its long-term energy plans are disrupted by the Bush administration, which it regards with contempt. A US blitzkrieg on Iran is not going to be regarded favorably by Tehran’s trading partners, if only because it will interfere drastically with their economic development.
Even if Cheney and Bush are not lunatic enough to send their cruise missiles and bombers to attack Iran they might manage to have harsh economic sanctions imposed, additional to the unilateral ones in place by the US for years. They usually ignore warning signals, so doubtless they dismissed the unmistakable threat in September 2005 that Iran could endure a self-inflicted cut in oil exports in the national interest of combating what it would consider rabidly hostile action. It is estimated that cutting exports would raise the price of oil to $80-100 a barrel. This wouldn’t matter to the rich in America, who are all that Cheney and Bush care about. But it would matter to the average man and woman who are even now struggling to make ends meet as a result of the rich-supportive tax policy of the present Administration.
There is no point in putting the moral position against attacking Iran. The Cheney-Bush administration has shown itself impervious to argument, and presenting a case against killing thousands of innocent people cuts no ice with blinkered zealots. The planned blitzkrieg of divine strikes will probably take place. It will alter the entire world and create hatred of America that will never be eradicated. And there is nothing we can do about it. At this Easter time (and Thai New Year), God help us all.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com