Costs of War on Iran: A Systematic Disregard for Human Life

John Glaser, October 04, 2012

There is something of a consensus forming around the conclusion that a preventive US and/or Israeli attack on Iran (for a nuclear weapons program it doesn’t have) is the wrong thing to do. Last night former Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke at an event warning “the results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic.” He said “such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable,” disrupt world oil traffic in the Persian Gulf, and prompt a wave of terrorism across the region, “haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”

It’s notable enough that a veteran of the Washington military and intelligence establishment like Gates speaks this publicly and vociferously against a war on Iran. But he’s not alone. A report released last month by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers concluded also that an attack would motivate Iran to restart its weapons development, and that the ensuing war would end up being “more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”

The Obama administration too – terrible as their economic sanctions and militaristic postures are towards Iran – has been adamantly against going to war, at least right now. America’s top military official, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey, reiterated last month that the US would not be “complicit” in an Israeli strike, which he also explained would be counterproductive. Israeli press reports came out around the same time claiming the Obama administration sent a surreptitious message to Iran promising not to back an Israeli strike, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American assets in the Persian Gulf.

Even leading figures in Washington who reliably monger for war and regime change in the Middle East, have quieted their battle trumpets as of late, subdued from the fever pitch they reached a matter of months ago. It is clear that the tactical, strategic, and financial costs of a discretionary war on Iran have turned the tide against war (again, at least for now).

In all of the massive commentary in establishment foreign policy circles that has come out on the Iran issue as of late, however, very little focuses on the immense human costs a war on Iran would entail. According to a new report that tries to estimate this, the number of immediate casualties that would result from bombing Iran’s top four enrichment sites would be would be about 5,000 people. “If the bombing would include more than those four sites,” says the study from the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, “then the immediate casualty would be up to 10,000 people.”

What about casualties that are not immediate? Even if a US or Israeli strike only targeted Iran’s nuclear sites and it didn’t result in larger land war (unlikely), the toxic plumes released as a result of the strikes could kill or injure up to 70,000 civilians in nearby cities and towns. “People’s  skin could be burnt, they could become blind, their lungs could be destroyed, their kidneys could be damaged, and in the future they could face other health problems such as skin cancer and [other forms] of cancer,” according to the author of the report.

According to a 2009 study by the Center for International and Strategic Studies “any strike on the Bushehr nuclear reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.” Even civilians in neighboring countries would be effected: “Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be heavily affected by the radionuclides.”

The casualty estimates go much higher when the aftermath, or retaliation, to the aggressors’ strikes is taken into consideration. A declassified war simulation run by the Pentagon earlier this year forecasted that the “wider regional war” and Iranian retaliation that would likely result from an attack would immediately get at least 200 Americans deployed in the region killed. The RAND Corp. thinks that Iran would also turn to unconventional military tactics – they call it “terrorism” – in response, which would put even more innocent lives at risk. Almost every official estimate – and common sense, considering America’s recent experiences in Iraq – concludes that an all out war in Iran would result in a strong insurgency and possible a descent into civil war, which has the potential to kill hundreds of thousands.

This has not been a commonly cited reason for avoiding an unnecessary war with Iran. It’s encouraging that so much of official Washington is decidedly against war for the tactical and strategic costs, but these human costs are systematically overlooked in the vast majority of the analysis. It’s what John Tirman, professor at MIT, calls “collective autism” about the costs of war. Americans who are either supportive or ambivalent about war on Iran – or for that matter Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond – are like all people suffering from the delusions of nationalism. When it’s the other guy being bludgeoned, they can’t summon the regard they’d have for hundreds of thousands of Americans being killed because an international bully attacked us without provocation.




31 Responses to “Costs of War on Iran: A Systematic Disregard for Human Life”

  1. Strange! Mr. Gates is parrotting the Commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps. Good job Commander Jaffari for convincing cowards and spineless "realists" like Robert Gates, that you are so strong and mighty to dictate not only to your people and suppress and brutalize them but also dictate to the world how things should be. I guess its up to the brave and free to stand up and show you for what you really are: a coward who hides behind your guns and spouts macho bravado but runs in the face of resistance. The Iranian people will deal with you and your dasterdly regime, if only the likes of AntiWar and other foul post-colonialists stop whinning about your rights instead of the rights of the Iranian people who have risen up against you. If only these naiive and perverse fools stop throwing up a smokescreen for the Iranian regime and fooling their naiive followers that the threat is from those who oppose this regime rather than this regime itself and its evil worldview.

  2. "He said “such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable,"

    Once again…no. Iran knows it could not deter a US attack with nukes, let alone AFTER such an attack has already OCCURRED!

    Ahmadinejad explicitly said it again during his UN visit – that Iran will not try to compete with the US nuclear arsenal.

    In a related mistake, Glenn Greenwald in a recent article suggests that the US fear Iranian nukes because Iran could deter the US from attacking countries freely. This is not the case. The US does not "fear" Iranian nukes, because the senior leadership of the US KNOWS that Iran does NOT have a nuclear weapons program and KNOWS that Iran could not deter the US from attacking anyone if they DID have them.

    The SOLE purpose of the Iranian nuclear "crisis" is a red herring to cover the US intent to control the Middle East by disrupting and breaking up all the countries which are opposed to US hegemony.

  3. I bet your family either has connects with Monarchs or MKO… you are not an Iranian if you want outsiders to attack your Mother Land. Hamid Iranians are smart and they do NOT WANT YOU back in Iran. Just stay in US and enjoy your life under Uncle Sam!

  4. Maybe he is an MEK stooge

  5. Richardhack, Very well said. Thank you! I think the fear of Iran becoming nuclear capable comes primary from Israelis who view the world from the prism of deep paranoia and projected aggression. But as you say, the nuclear issue is a pretext for a system overthrow and hegemony. This is so clear from the history of the nuclear issue in how the US has rejected all attempts and concessions by Iran to reassure the US of its purely civilian intentions, including suspension of enrichment for two years, accepting the additional protocol for two years and having kept it on the table ever since as a concession, Tehran Agreement 2010 brokered by Turkey and Brazil to transport 1200 kg of its enriched uranium out of Iran (just as Obama had sought as a confidence building measure), and the most recent concession to cease 20% enrichment, which was once again rejected by the US!

  6. "… an international bully attacked us without provocation" — I was with the author up to this point. This is the blind spot we Americans have. We cannot imagine that our aggressive foreign policy and meddling with other countries' sovereignty could possibly provoke their citizens to develop a resistance and freedom fighters who regret that they have only one life to give for their country and then give it anyway. And when all appeals to reason and justice fail, they must resort to extreme acts to get the world's attention.

  7. [...] that does away with the first two criteria. How about the third? Well, as a study from the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics recently found, [...]

  8. [...] Experts say Iran would change its mind and make the decision to build a nuke if it comes under a military attack by Israel and the United States. An attack on Iran would legitimize the Islamic Republic and empower the revolutionary Islamic spirit across the Middle East, undoing recent U.S. efforts to improve its image amongst the awakening Muslim masses. [...]

  9. Interesting read…def wanna show the guys that i play airsoft with http://www.airsplat.com/documents.asp?Link=states they'll def want to know about it.

  10. Thank you! I think the fear of Iran becoming nuclear capable comes primary from Israelis who view the world from the prism of deep paranoia and projected aggression. But as you say, the nuclear issue is a pretext for a system overthrow and hegemony. This is so clear from the history of the nuclear issue in how the US has rejected all attempts and conce polo hackett

  11. Even leading figures in Washington who reliably monger for war and regime change in the Middle East, have quieted their battle trumpets as of late, subdued from the fever pitch they reached a matter of months ago. It is clear that the tactical, strategic, and financial costs of a discretionary war on Iran have turned the tide against war (again, at least for now).sports limousine

  12. L'une des plus grandes tragédies que j'ai observés dans presque tous les lieux d'affaires que j'ai visités, c'est le personnel qui servent ne sais pas vraiment comment vendre. Très peu d'entreprises ont formé le personnel de vente.
    jg wentworth scam

  13. Dans de nombreux pays, même beaucoup de magasins qui offrent des services pour animaux de compagnie. Donc, si quelqu'un qui était une promenade avec leurs animaux de compagnie et de décider d'aller faire du shopping, ce magasin est prêt à accueillir l'animal et servir.
    220 license

  14. Nëse ju filloni duke bërë një shumë të biznesit, sigurohuni biznesit tuaj mund të përballen me rritjen. Të gjitha bizneset doni një shumë të thirrjeve, por vetëm pak janë në gjendje për të përballuar me një rritje të papritur në biznes pa bërë një ndryshim pak operacional.
    Overcoming Fears

  15. Of fund is certainly needed by many countries who are conducting the war. They have to spend a very large amount and do not mess around. It's a lot of money.college moving

  16. Certainly there are a lot of funds issued to finance wars in this world. One of the cold war that still exists today is the Iran with many superpowers.Limo in Seattle

  17. Impact that could happen in a war is a bad thing you've ever seen. All this would be avoided by a lot of things in this world for whatever reason.

  18. People who can read a lot of events in the war would be a good person and needed by many people. War does not bring great impact.online forensic psychology degree

  19. A war in one country will be one of the things that hurt many people. There are many kinds of war that could make many people lose everything in his life.kidkraft toddler bed

  20. Iran has become one of the country experienced many wars lately. There are a lot of people are looking for ways to be able to address many of the war in that country.marketing android app

  21. S? There really needs to be a reliable, consistent counter-news source who has the confidence and trust of US victim nations to get the straight scoop from their point of view.

  22. Bad state coupled with destroyed infrastructure is one of the things that struck the war-torn country. You should not make war with any reason for human life.

  23. Everyone knows that the only war destroyed much infrastructure you have it. This is one reason why spending the country into a very large and bloated.wedding tiaras

  24. Iran has been a lot of interest by many countries since developing its nuclear program. There are many countries who are worried about a lot of things that can be done Iran.Anchorage Carpet Cleaning Service

  25. The people in Iran are not many know about the many types of war and what it means there. They just want to live in peace and be able to live decently.Garage Door Repair Gilbert

  26. Iran has a very big budget to be able to win the war and make its nuclear program. You need a lot of kind of the best strategy to win this war.

  27. | If you have not been prescribed an allergy medicine, Zyrtec and Claritin are good allergy medicines and are available over the counter. Benadryl works really well depending on how severe they are, however there is the down side of it making you drowsy. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.tubidy.gen.tr">tubidy müzik indirme

  28. Unha regra moi importante na xestión dun negocio exitoso é ter seguro de que vostede eo seu equipo nunca xa condescendente competidores. Se non está seguro sobre o traballo que eles teñen para ofrecer, pode dicir o que é.
    alaska fishing

  29. Iran has a lot of very sophisticated technology that can be divided in many people. Everyone has a desire to be able to have technology such as Iran.Seattle Collision

  30. They should make decision. So it will safe more times to take action.
    Seattle Vacation Rentals

  31. You are every reason, every hope, and every dream I've ever had, and no matter what happens to us in the future, everyday we are together is the greatest day of my life. I will always be yours.