The Iran-Iraq war was horrifically brutal. At least a million Iranians and a quarter of a million Iraqis died and Iranians continue to die as a result of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. It dragged on for 8 long years. You do not conquer Iran or subjugate Iranians easily.
Yet some neocon fantasists in the US are planning something like that, as Sunny Hundal highlights. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic predicts what will happens if the US doesn’t take action against Iran, quite simply the Israelis will instead:
When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.
This is a nightmare scenario.
First of all, the economic consequences of a war with Iran will be horrendous as Matthew Yglesias points out the world is in no shape to deal with an energy shock, the early 1970s were relatively benign before 1973’s Oil Shock. The immediate effect of temporarily prying Iran out of the global economy – through naval blockade, trade embargo, bombing of its infrastructure, crushing of its industries and a diversion of its remaining production into tanks and planes – will probably be a massive negative shock to a fragile world economy. That is just one of two things which will definitely happen.
The other thing which will definitely happen is the US losing.
As reported in the the New Zealand Herald, US Generals have run War Games simulating war against Iran and concluded they cannot win by any means other than all out nuclear war. To avoid any doubt, US Generals are not suggesting just targeting military installations, they know Tehran will not be forced to surrender by anything other than massive attrition of its civilian population. They aren’t being callous, they must consider all avenues, and it is only down this murderous avenue (predicted death toll 5-10million) that is possible to see Tehran surrendering.
It is little wonder they have concluded thus.
There are 80 million Iranians many of which hate the current regime. However, they are a patriotic country and will almost certainly unite against any invading force. That united Iran would command an army of 450,000 men from day one, but which may swell to the close to one million mobilised for the Iran-Iraq war. Iran is 4 times the size of Iraq and heavily mountainous, it is also sandwiched between Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and as we have learned, this is not a pleasant place to go to war.
The only viable option for Israel, Iran, the US, all the nations on the earth is some kind of grudging peace. Careful diplomacy, a credible commitment to self defence and not a whiff of belligerence are not macho options, but there are no other options which do not involve the biggest pile of corpses since 1945.