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From: "Mario Profaca" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Date: July 10, 2008 1:55:33 AM PDT
Subject: [SPY NEWS] Jordan Times: Why the US cannot attack Iran
Why the US cannot attack Iran
Jordan Times
10 July 2008

Iran's Revolutionary Guards conducted military exercises and test
fired medium-range missiles this week after warning that Tel Aviv and
the US naval armada in the Gulf would be targeted if Iran's nuclear
facilities are attacked.

It is significant that the person to issue the warning was Ali
Shirazi, the envoy to the Guards of Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, rather than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has a habit
of making harsh pronouncements.

Khamenei seems to switch between hard- and soft-line comments.
Recently, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, a close adviser
of Khamenei', called for negotiations with the West on the nuclear
issue. Velayati said that since Iran has secured de facto recognition
of its right to enrich uranium, it can now negotiate from a position
of strength on the proposal put to Tehran by European Union policy
chief Javier Solana. According to this formula, Iran would suspend
enrichment for six weeks while the sides - including the US, which
would join talks at this stage - would reach a deal for a permanent
halt to enrichment and the provision of fuel for Iranian power plants.

It is also important that Guards units took part in the exercises.
Over the past two years, the force, Tehran's elite military formation,
has been playing an increasingly influential and independent role in
Iranian political life. Although the regular military and irregular
groupings like the Basij youth corps and Hizbollah are said to be
aligned with Ahmadinejad, the Guards seem to shift allegiances
according to issues.

While the US and Israel have not ruled out the military option as a
means of preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability,
the Bush administration - which has just six months in office - seems
to be cooling to the possibility. Last week, during a visit to Israel,
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, made it
clear to Tel Aviv that Israel does not have a US "green light" to
strike Iran. On his return to Washington, Mullen also stated openly
that an Israeli attack on Iran would be dangerous and could
destabilise the region.

According to Anthony Cordesman, a senior US defence analyst, Mullen
also told Israel it would not have US support if it took military
action. Cordesman said during a visit to Israel that while the US has
contingency plans for attacking Iran, it is unlikely that these plans
would be put into action until a new administration takes office. In
other words, Bush seems to have lost his taste for warfare.

However, Elizabeth Cheney, former principal deputy assistant secretary
of state for Middle East affairs, argued that it is essential for
Tehran to believe the US will use force. Speaking to the conference of
the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee, she said that
the "time for diplomacy" is "rapidly coming to an end". She all too
clearly remains in the threat mode. Apropos Mullen's pronouncement,
she criticised as counterproductive statements by those who say that
force is not an option. However, regional analysts argue that the US
public, deeply disturbed by the ongoing Iraq war, is not prepared to
bomb or invade Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon
which Tehran says is not the object of its enrichment programme.

The Iranian position is backed up by last December's National
Intelligence Estimate, which revealed that Iran is not at present
trying to enrich uranium to the high levels required by nuclear weapons.

Clearly Cheney Junior, who follows closely in the footsteps of her
neoconservative father, Vice President Dick Cheney, is ignoring the
risks of either a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Tehran would be likely
to retaliate by cutting its oil exports, now at 2 million barrels a
day, and closing the Hormuz Strait, thereby disrupting the flow of 40
per cent of the world's oil from the Gulf to markets. This would send
the price of a barrel of oil soaring over the current $144 per barrel
and, perhaps, even double it. A spike of such magnitude could plunge
the global economy into a steep recession which would take a serious
toll on the wealthy West, as well as the impoverished east and south.
The dollar would fall further than it has already. Developing
countries would be thrown into major economic crisis, which could have
negative long-term repercussions for the international community.

While the Cheneys and their ilk remain influential in the Bush
administration, they would have to persuade George W. Bush of the
wisdom of the malign and destabilising course they long to pursue.
However, he might be wary of them this time round, since the
consequences of strikes on Iran are likely to be dire. Furthermore, if
he attempts to launch a third war without congressional approval
(which is unlikely at this juncture), he could face impeachment
proceedings. Some time ago, Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, said he would launch such proceedings if
Bush goes to war against Iran. Bush certainly would not want to finish
his second term fighting impeachment, particularly since the Democrats
would seize the occasion to remove him as a means to harm Republican
Party hopeful John McCain.

While there are many other reasons experts put forward for why the US
and Israel will not attack Iran over the next six months, most ignore
the impact such an attack would have on Iraq, particularly on the
daily lives of Iraqis. While Iran could attack US forces and interests
in Iraq through surrogates in Iraq, Tehran could do much greater
damage by simply cutting off supplies of food and electricity to
southern Iraq and the Kurdish region. Iran supplies a very large
proportion of foodstuffs, clothing, building materials, etc. to Iraq.

The US cannot make up for this trade. Even a brief suspension would
cause great hardship and resentment amongst already impoverished and
antagonistic Iraqis. In reaction, Kurds and Shiites could join
militant groups dedicated to the expulsion of the US occupiers. This
could lead to the reversal of the limited security gains made during
the "surge" pacification campaign and to the eventual defeat of the US
in Iraq.

Bush certainly does not want to go down in history as a president who
led the US to a spectacular defeat. Hopefully, he knows that pleasing
the Cheneys, neoconservatives and Israeli hawks by attacking Iran
could have just such a result. Furthermore, Israel would be a major
loser. A large number of US citizens believe Israel promoted the
disastrous Iraq war; if they were to suffer high oil prices and an
economic crash as a result of an Israeli or Israeli-inspired Bush war
on Iran, the US political establishment might, under popular pressure,
have to make a serious effort to wriggle free of Israel's iron grip.

A recent opinion poll shows that 71 per cent of US citizens believe
their government should adopt an even-handed approach in the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This survey reveals that Israel is no
longer regarded as highly as it once was by the US public. For Israel,
this amounts to a serious decline in popularity and a danger that
Washington will not always back up Tel Aviv's wrongheaded adventures.

By Michael Jansen

© Jordan Times 2008


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