“U.S. Limited In Iran War Options”

U.S. Limited In Iran War Options: Experts by Katherine Gypson Mar 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2006 (UPI) — The Iranian nuclear crisis has become a hot and cold guessing game of hysteria and euphoria, experts say.

In the past two weeks, President George W. Bush has said that the United States would show Iran "what’s right or wrong about their activities in Iraq," prompting Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to approve of the talks but warn that Iran will not be "bullied" into backing down on the development of nuclear materials.

The latest issue of The National Interest, from the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, looks at the concurrent euphoria and hysteria of the Iranian crisis from several different perspectives and asks how the United States can develop an effective strategy in response.

Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and author of the upcoming book "Hidden Iran; Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic," told a Nixon Center panel Thursday that Iran viewed relations with the United States just as it would approach "any other pernicious, intrusive imperial country." He attributed this attitude to the rise to power of the war generation, those who grew up during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and who now view the United States with a mixture of distrust and passivity.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s "curious" approach to diplomacy must be viewed in the context of the United States’ central position in Iranian political narratives and the national imagination, Takeyh said.

The 1953 CIA coup which overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was the starting point for a system of beliefs that continued until the 1980s, when the stalemate of the Iraq-Iran war led many Iranians to believe that "outside superpowers were propping up Saddam (Hussein)’s regime."

There is a certain "stylistic formation" to many of Ahmadinejad’s public statements, giving the sense that the issue of uranium enrichment is merely a vehicle for asserting Iran’s regional ambitions in opposition to the European powers and the United States, Takeyh said.

"There are issues where they will negotiate but not acquiesce. If the purpose of the Security Council negotiations is to stop the fuel cycle, then you are not going to get it," he said.

Col. Patrick Lang, former director of Middle East Intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed. "Unless there a lot of bargaining carrots, Iran will feel as though they are abandoning an essential part of themselves," he said.

Such an attitude has left the United States bereft of bargaining options for use with Iranians. The Bush administration has bet millions of dollars on overseas broadcasting, hoping to foment a regime change from within Iran.

"There is opposition sentiment within Iran but no viable opposition force,"

Takeyh said. "There is this assumption that the Iranian public is apathetic because it is information starved. It’s not — it’s just apathetic." Takeyh mentioned a variety of factors for Iranian public sentiment, among them economic factors and lack of political freedoms. "More broadcasting pumped into the country may give them more information but it will not lead to revolution," he said.

Lang analyzed the United States’ military options by laying out several scenarios. The insertion of a major ground force invasion of Iran, he said, was made "unthinkable," due to domestic American political considerations and the strain on an overburdened U.S. military. It was also ruled out because the geographic reality of Iran would make it a logistical nightmare.

"No real army can be sustained on air transportation," Lang said.

The idea of a large commando operation has been floated as a military option but Lang dismissed "the idea that a bunch of guys with machine guns and a bunch of planes" could affect the desired degree of damage on the Iranian nuclear program as "just silly."

Lang said that the Israelis lacked the military equipment needed to undertake the best of the options — an air campaign against possible uranium enrichment sites. "The United States is the only country in the world that has capability of carrying out the estimated thousand strike sorties needed to destroy the Iran’s nuclear program," he said.

"The objective has to be not to destroy the program, but to set it back a desired number of years," Lang said.

Redundancy programs and decoys were cost-prohibitive and the United States must assume that Iran was assuming that there would be an air strike and is taking these precautions, he said.

Lang said that even if the air strikes were successful, the attacks would become a galvanizing force for both Shia and Sunni terrorist groups. "Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror," he said. "There is no reason to think that they would not respond."

Takeyh said the negotiations over nuclear enrichments had worked to Ahmadinejad’s advantage, changing an issue of contention with the West into a matter of Iranian nationalistic pride.

"If the nuclear threat becomes even more serious then I think you will see U.S. and Israeli diplomacy get even more creative," he said.

"I don’t think that this is a program that they are developing in order to give it up for deals," he said."

Katherine Gypson is a UPI Correspondent

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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7 Responses to “U.S. Limited In Iran War Options”

  1. Patrick henry says:

    Colonial..Good Post..Right on Point..
    Iran is the biggest Threat to Stability in the
    Middle East Right now..and has been for many Years..
    Larry said it was before we Invaded Iraq..and that iran should be dealth with first..
    Larry also said before the invasion there would be Insurgency and Civil War and the United States had better Prepare For it..and Anticipate it..in its Pre- War Planning..
    Yet..this administration was so anxious to Attack Iraq and take out Saddam..
    they wanted The American People to believe that Saddam was the Greater Threat ,..and supporter of Terrorism..NOT TRUE..
    ..I’m Sure they knew bwetter based on the Intel they had..
    The Scope of the mishandeling and pre planning of this Operation .. just can’t been ignored or blow off..
    Especially when this administration keeps saying over and over again..
    Instead of showing any Appreciation to the United States for “Liberating” the Iraqi Shia..any removing Saddam..Iran is Takinbg Advantage of the situation.. and Increasing the Violence and Sectarian
    Iran has Threatened to destroy Israel..and I think the People of the United States should be better educated what Long Twerm Role IRAN has played in the Terrorist Violence all over the World and middle East..
    Put it all in the Media..educated People..
    At some Point we have to take Action if Diplomacy and Negotation Fails
    Plan Ops..Stockpile Weapons so we are not depleteted if we Engage Iran..
    Tell other Nations who are Interfering and Aggitation and supporting Iran to Back Off..
    If we are Forced to leave Iraq now..with all the instability in the Region..It will only get Worse..Iran will moved In..
    The JiHadist will claim Victory and believe it is a Sign that God is on thier Side..
    They will exploite any Weakness ..The more Powerful they get..the Worst the Situation will be..
    The is not a small matter that will just go away..
    Thats My Opinion..
    I hope we find Answers and Solutions..
    We can’t let the Mistakes of Iraq interfer with other Decisions and Actions we Have to Make and Take..

  2. ckrantz says:

    Would containment work as a strategy to slow down a nuclear program if there is no viable military options? I don’t think so. Iran in any case is the real test for the Bush doctrine which looks hollow at the moment.
    It is interesting how Iran is extending it’s influence as the major regional power besides the US and what the Saudi reaction will be. Iraq seem to have the potential to be the battleground by proxy at least.

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I did not say that there were no vaible military options, just that the cost would be very high. pl

  4. jonst says:

    “”No real army can be sustained on air transportation,” Lang said.”
    Amen PL. This thesis has been challenged a few times. Disaster always results.

  5. Norbert Schulz says:

    Stalingrad became one of these air transport experiments iirc.
    The commando option must certainly appeal to guys who like Michael Dudikoff movies. Beware, that might include GWB.
    Interesting article, PL.
    Seems to me that the U.S. has basically two choices – either live with a nuclear capable Iran, or attack in the belief that if we don’t act now … well, you know the tune.
    I don’t buy the idea that a nuclear Iran would ’embolden terrorists’, as is frequently voiced. Iran would certainly not proliferate nukes to terrorists as they do have a return adress and thus can be deterred. And then, add all the capital spent on aquiring them – only to see them giving up control and handing them to a proxy? Unlikely.
    But having nukes as an insurance will strengthen their position, not only toward the U.S. but against their neighbours Iraq and Pakistan and Russia. With nukes, Iran would be a much tougher patron for proxies like Hezbollah – because they could then deter intervention or invasion. Even though that’s probably right, the ’emboldening’ argument is misleading when used in the nuclear context.
    I found the part ‘Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “curious” approach to diplomacy must be viewed in the context of the United States’ central position in Iranian political narratives and the national imagination. The 1953 CIA coup which overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was the starting point for a system of beliefs that continued until the 1980s, when the stalemate of the Iraq-Iran war led many Iranians to believe that “outside superpowers were propping up Saddam (Hussein)’s regime.’ illuminating.
    It sheds light on the roots of the ‘Great Satan’ rhetoric that are usually left out in U.S. mainstream reporting on Iran, suggesting the Iranians one morning woke up with a ravenous bloodthrist and deep hatred against everything American.

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I was thinking of Stalingrad when I said that.
    In re Iranian support to terrorism I have never thought they would give nukes to terrorists, but there are many other ways to support them. pl

  7. ali says:

    Talk of big commando raids is rather foolish I’m reminded of Operation Eagle Claw.
    One of the “costs” you’d have to consider here is Iranian intelligence isn’t a relatively feeble amateur outfit like AQ. They’ve had much practice, a long time to prepare and their retaliation might put 9-11 in the shade.
    Unfortunately we’ve yet to see innovative terrorism’s full power as a strategic weapon.

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