[Marxism] Toronto Globe and Mail article sees attack on Iran as becoming inevitable -- notes bipartisan backing
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Nov 23 21:55:39 MST 2007
A PLAN TO ATTACK IRAN SWIFTLY AND FROM ABOVE By Paul Koring Page A18
** A bombing campaign has been in the works for months - a blistering air
war that would last anywhere from one day to two weeks **
Globe and Mail (Canada)
November 22, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Massive, devastating air strikes, a full dose of "shock and
awe" with hundreds of bunker-busting bombs slicing through concrete at more
than a dozen nuclear sites across Iran is no longer just the idle musing of
military planners and über-hawks.
Although air strikes don't seem imminent as the U.S.-Iranian drama unfolds,
planning for a bombing campaign and preparing for the geopolitical blowback
has preoccupied military and political councils for months.
No one is predicting a full-blown ground war with Iran. The likeliest
scenario, a blistering air war that could last as little as one night or as
long as two weeks, would be designed to avoid the quagmire of invasion and
régime change that now characterizes Iraq. But skepticism remains about
whether any amount of bombing can substantially delay Iran's entry into the
Attacking Iran has gone far beyond the twilight musings of a lame-duck
president. Almost all of those jockeying to succeed U.S. President George
W. Bush are similarly bellicose. Both front-runners, Democrat Senator
Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, have said that Iran's ruling
mullahs can't be allowed to go nuclear. "Iran would be very sure if I were
president of the United States that I would not allow them to become
nuclear," said Mr. Giuliani. Ms. Clinton is equally hard-line.
Nor does the threat come just from the United States. As hopes fade that
sanctions and common sense might avert a military confrontation with Tehran
-- as they appear to have done with North Korea -- other Western leaders are
openly warning that bombing may be needed.
Unless Tehran scraps its clandestine and suspicious nuclear program and its
quest for weapons-grade uranium (it already has the missiles capable of
delivering an atomic warhead), the world will be "faced with an alternative
that I call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," French
President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned.
Bombing Iran would be relatively easy. Its antiquated air force and Russian
air-defence missiles would be easy pickings for the U.S.
But effectively destroying Iran's widely scattered and deeply buried nuclear
facilities would be far harder, although achievable, according to air-power
experts. But the fallout, especially the anger sown across much of the
Muslim world by another U.S.-led attack in the Middle East, would be
impossible to calculate.
Israel has twice launched pre-emptive air strikes ostensibly to cripple
nuclear programs. In both instances, against Iraq in 1981 and Syria two
months ago, the targeted regimes howled but did nothing.
The single-strike Israeli attacks would seem like pinpricks, compared with
the rain of destruction U.S. warplanes would need to kneecap Iran's far
larger nuclear network.
"American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981
Israeli attack on the Osirak nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble
the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq," said John Pike,
director at Globalsecurity.org, a leading defense and security group.
"Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego
Garcia or flying direct from the United States," along with warplanes from
land bases in the region and carriers at sea, at least two-dozen suspected
nuclear sites would be targeted, he said.
Although U.S. ground forces are stretched thin with nearly 200,000 fighting
in Iraq and Afghanistan, the firepower of the U.S. air force and the
warplanes aboard aircraft carriers could easily overwhelm Iran's defenses,
leaving U.S. warplanes in complete command of the skies and free to pound
targets at will.
With air bases close by in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, including
Kandahar, and naval-carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf and Indian
Ocean, hundreds of U.S. warplanes serviced by scores of airborne refuellers
could deliver a near constant hail of high explosives.
Fighter-bombers and radar-jammers would spearhead any attack. B-2 bombers,
each capable of delivering 20 four-ton bunker-busting bombs, along with
smaller stealth bombers and streams of F-18s from the carriers could
maintain an open-ended bombing campaign.
"They could keep it up until the end of time, which might be hastened by the
bombing," Mr. Pike said. "They could make the rubble jump; there's plenty
of stuff to bomb," he added, a reference to the now famous line from former
defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Afghanistan was a "target-poor"
Mr. Pike believes it could all be over in a single night. Others predict
days, or even weeks, of sustained bombing.
Unidentified Pentagon planners have been cited talking of "1,500 aim
points." What is clear is that a score or more known nuclear sites would be
destroyed. Some, in remote deserts, would present little risk of
"collateral damage," military jargon for unintended civilian causalities.
Others, like laboratories at the University of Tehran, in the heart of a
teeming capital city, would be hard to destroy without killing innocent
What would likely unfold would be weeks of escalating tension, following a
breakdown of diplomatic efforts.
The next crisis point may come later this month if the U.N. Security Council
becomes deadlocked over further sanctions.
"China and Russia are more concerned about the prospect of the U.S.
bombing Iran than of Iran getting a nuclear bomb," says Karim Sadjadpour, an
Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Tehran remains defiant. Our enemies "must know that Iran will not give the
slightest concession . . . to any power," Iran's fiery President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said yesterday. For his part, Mr. Bush has pointedly refused to
rule out resorting to war. Last month, another U.S. naval battle group --
including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman with 100
warplanes on board and the Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown as one of its
screen of smaller warships -- left for the Persian Gulf. At least one, and
often two, carrier battle groups are always in the region.
Whether even weeks of bombing would cripple Iran's nuclear program cannot be
known. Mr. Pike believes it would set back, by a decade or more, the time
Tehran needs to develop a nuclear warhead. But Iran's clandestine program
-- international inspectors were completely clueless as to the existence of
several major sites until exiles ratted out the mullahs -- may be so
extensive that even the longest target list will miss some.
"It's not a question of whether we can do a strike or not and whether the
strike could be effective," retired Marine general Anthony Zinni told Time
magazine. "It certainly would be, to some degree. But are you prepared for
all that follows?"
Attacked and humiliated, Iran might be tempted, as Mr. Ahmadinejad has
suggested, to strike back, although Iran has limited military options.
At least some Sunni governments in the region, not least Saudi Arabia, would
be secretly delighted to see the Shia mullahs in Tehran bloodied.
But the grave risk of any military action spiralling into a regional war,
especially if Mr. Ahmadinejad tried to make good on his threat to attack
"Arab leaders would like to see Iran taken down a notch," said Steven Cook,
an analyst specializing in the Arab world at the Council on Foreign
Relations, "but their citizens will see this as what they perceive to be
America's ongoing war on Islam."
The confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program has been simmering for
more than five years. These are some of the key flashpoints.
August 2002: Iranian exiles say that Tehran has built a vast uranium
enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak without informing
the United Nations.
December 2002: The existence of the sites is confirmed by satellite
photographs shown on U.S. television. The United States accuses Tehran of
"across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." Iran agrees to
inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
June 2003: IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei accuses Iran of not revealing
the extent of its nuclear work and urges leaders to sign up for more
October 2003: After meeting French, German, and British foreign ministers,
Tehran agrees to stop producing enriched uranium and formally decides to
sign the Additional Protocol, a measure that extends the IAEA's ability to
detect undeclared nuclear activities. No evidence is produced to confirm
the end of enrichment.
November 2003: Mr. ElBaradei says there is "no evidence" that Iran is
pursuing nuclear weapons. The United States disagrees.
February 2004: An IAEA report says Iran experimented with polonium-210,
which can be used to trigger the chain reaction in a nuclear bomb. Iran did
not explain the experiments. Iran again agrees to suspend enrichment, but
again does not do so.
March 2004: Iran is urged to reveal its entire nuclear program to the IAEA
by June 1, 2004.
September 2004: The IAEA orders Iran to stop preparations for large-scale
uranium enrichment. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell labels Iran a
growing danger and calls for the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions.
August 2005: Hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is installed as Iranian
President as Tehran pledges an "irreversible" resumption of enrichment.
Jan. 10, 2006: Iran removes U.N. seals at the Natanz enrichment plant and
resumes nuclear fuel research.
February 2006: The IAEA votes to report Iran to the UN Security Council.
Iran ends snap U.N. nuclear inspections the next day.
July 31, 2006: The U.N. Security Council demands that Iran suspend its
nuclear activities by Aug. 31.
Aug. 31, 2006: The U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran to halt its work
on nuclear fuel passes. IAEA says Tehran has failed to suspend the program.
Dec. 23, 2006: The 15-member U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts a
binding resolution that imposes some sanctions and calls on Iran to suspend
its uranium-enrichment activities and to comply with its IAEA obligations.
March 24, 2007: The Security Council unanimously approves a resolution
broadening UN sanctions against Iran for its continuing failure to halt
uranium enrichment. Iranian officials call the new measures "unnecessary
April 10, 2007: Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs says Iran will not
accept any suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities and urges world
powers to accept the "new reality" of the Islamic republic's nuclear
May 23, 2007: The IAEA says in a new report, issued to coincide with the
expiration of a Security Council deadline for Tehran, that Iran continues to
defy U.N. Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment and has
expanded such work. The report adds that the U.N. nuclear agency's ability
to monitor nuclear activities in Iran has declined due to lack of access to
Oct. 24, 2007: The United States imposes new sanctions on Iran and accuses
the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of spreading weapons of mass
Sources: BBC, Reuters, Financial Times, Radio Free Europe
Despite continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has ample
air and naval power to strike Iran. In addition to nuclear installations,
other likely targets include ballistic missile sites, Revolutionary Guard
bases, and naval assets.
Syria: Earlier this year, Israel bombed a site in Syria's Deir ez-Zor
region that it suspected was part of a nascent nuclear program.
Osirak: Israel in 1981 had its aircraft bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor before
it became operational.
Natanz: Believed to be Iran's primary uranium-enrichment site and a key
target of any attack.
B1: A supersonic, intercontinental bomber, capable of penetrating deep into
defended airspace and dropping more than 50-tons of conventional bombs on a
B2: America's biggest stealthy long-range bomber, capable of flying
half-way around the globe to deliver up to 23 tons of bombs on multiple
F-117: The original stealth fighter, almost invisible on radar, was used to
drop the first bombs in both Iraq invasions.
F-18: Carrier-borne fighter-bomber capable of many roles from air combat to
EGBU-28: The newest of the U.S. "bunker busters," it uses a GPS guidance
system and can penetrate six meters of concrete to deliver four tons of high
SOURCES: FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, GLOBAL SECURITY.ORG, ASSOCIATED
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