Invading Iran: Why resistance is now crucial
(TheStar.com) -- by Tony Burman --
On the weekend following Remembrance Day, as we mourn the fallen on battlefields in the past century, let’s imagine what war against Iran would really involve, and what catastrophic madness such a war would be.
But let’s first reflect on the enduring poignancy of what we honoured Friday. We saluted thousands of courageous young Canadian military men and women who lost their lives in the past century in defence of freedom. In the United States, they honoured the 6,274 American military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. On 9/11 in the U.S., nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives. Since then, largely as a response to that tragic day, more than 200,000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan have since been killed — also innocent people, many of them women and children — and hundreds of thousands more have been injured. Let’s remember that as we assess the next steps regarding Iran. This is not a game.
When I worked in Doha, Qatar, as the managing director of Al Jazeera English from 2008-2010, I lived in an apartment that overlooked the Arabian Gulf. Qatar is a tiny country on a peninsula off the coast of Saudi Arabia, and across those waters from Doha is Iran. Its presence looms large in the Gulf. In strategic and geographic terms, this region is very small and inter-connected. This was emphasized to me on my first week on the job in Doha. With Qatar host to the largest American military base in the Middle East just outside Doha, representatives of the U.S. military wanted to introduce themselves to me. As we chatted, I reminded them of the confirmed report that then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to convince the then-U.S. President George Bush not to bomb Al Jazeera in Doha during the 2003 Iraq invasion. “Can you please tell me something?” I asked my U.S. military guests. “How could you pull off bombing this building without the risk of bombing your own military base?” The meeting went downhill from that point on.
There was no surprise in Qatar or in the rest of the Gulf at this week’s damning indictment of Iran by the United Nations watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran is widely regarded there as a rogue state, intent on dominating its neighbours. Iran’s nuclear ambitions have long been taken as fact. But there is no consensus yet about what should happen next, and this is where a monumental strategic blunder may occur. The Israeli media, in particular, has been on a war footing for the past week in anticipation of this UN report. Wednesday’s edition of the Jerusalem Post reported that “a quiet Arab coalition supports an attack on Iran.” The drumbeats for war are getting louder.
As much as the Gulf states and Turkey want to be rid of an expansionist Iran, there is no indication they see a military attack as the preferred option. There is also considerable doubt whether a targeted attack would even succeed. But they know what we all should know, that an American or Israeli strike on Iran would threaten an Armageddon that would engulf the entire region.
In retaliation, Iran has threatened rocket attacks on Tel Aviv. Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army in Lebanon, has enough missiles to make Israeli cities burn like London did during the Blitz. Iran would risk economic calamity by closing the Strait of Hormuz through which 20 per cent of the world’s oil flows, and America’s stature in the region would plunge even further. Have we really reached that point yet?
The Iran challenge needs to be met, of course. That country is being led by a dishonest regime with the potential for wreaking havoc in the years ahead. But it is not a banana republic. It is an immense and modern country with an educated population and an ancient civilization. There are many non-military options still available to wise and cautious leaders who want to see a way out of this impasse without bringing down the planet.
For decades, the West’s mishandling of Iran, particularly by the United States, has been a case study of ignorance and arrogance. In 2003, the Iranian government secretly proposed to the U.S. a “grand bargain” which it said would have resolved outstanding issues between the two countries, including Iran’s nuclear program and support for Hamas and Hezbollah. It was a daring gamble by the Iranians, but the Bush Administration rejected it.
It’s time for Western leaders to be similarly imaginative in their thinking. As the late British politician Enoch Powell once said: “History is littered with wars which everyone knew would never happen.”...LINK