I've been warning
in this space that an American attack on Iran is imminent, and now I see that
the Dutch have reason to agree with my assessment. Their intelligence service
reportedly has pulled out of a covert operation inside Iran on the grounds that
a U.S. strike is right around the corner – in 'a
matter of weeks,' according to De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper."
I am skeptical
of this story. I think it may be Israeli or CIA disinformation intended to
pressure and confuse the Iranians. Note the Jerusalem Post's highlighting
of the story, while U.S. and European press outlets have ignored it. I doubt
the capabilities of Dutch intelligence to operate in Iran. Moreover, even accounting
for possible concerns about Iran's nuclear energy program, I have a hard time
believing the Dutch would be engaged in committing potential acts of war against
Iran. Moreover, I think the Israeli preference for the U.S. doing the dirty
work here remains, as the Israeli air capabilities are so much more limited
than the U.S.' (especially if the Iranians have had Russian help in upgrading
their air defense capabilities); they do not want to put themselves in front
of the potential blowback from such an attack. I also do not believe the Israelis
have a green light from the U.S. to do this. Quite the contrary, according
to the most recent news reports I have read. Also, given the recent events
in Georgia, in the event of an Israeli attack, you could count on the formation
of a Russian-Iranian alliance that would thwart any long-term benefit to Israeli
strategic interests. The muted reaction of Iran so far to this startling report
perhaps indicates Iranian intelligence also agrees with this assessment.
Despite the Israeli
and Bush administration rhetoric on the issue, the Iranian nuclear energy program
is a actually a nuclear power program (the Iranians really need the power given
the rise in domestic oil consumption and their desire to maintain current levels
of oil exports over the next decade). All the reliable intelligence and UN
inspection information show this. And they have every right to do this under
the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. An attack, particularly by the Israelis,
would completely transform the situation in way that would actually be counter
to current Israeli and American strategic interests (as such interests are
now perceived); and, more importantly, as noted in your column, it risks an
explosion in the Middle East that could lead to World War III (or World
War IV, in neoconese). An attack by the Israelis or the U.S. almost would
certainly challenge the widely accepted Iranian view that nuclear weapons as
well as weapons of mass destruction in general are against the teachings of
Islam. It might lead to a withdrawal from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
It could lead to Chernobyl-style death and destruction, which might not be
forgotten for a very long time. It certainly would spur other nations in the
Middle East to develop deterrents. Egypt and Saudi Arabia could probably build
the bomb with little difficulty if the will were there.
dear! So the attack on Iran is a dead certain for next week yet again! As it
has been for several years now! What reason is there to believe that the Dutch
story is true? None! And if an attack were imminent, I hardly think that the
U.S. would want it in the papers! Or that the Dutch intelligence service is
so incompetent that its agents' movements are public knowledge! As a matter
of common sense, therefore, this story is most likely a plant. Part of the
ongoing saber-rattling and, at this point, probably an attempt to refocus opinion
on the Middle East in the wake of the Georgia debacle, which, as Mr. Raimondo
points out, has turned attention toward Russia as the current "bogeyman." As
a matter of common sense, if ever the U.S. attacks Iran, it will be done in
stealth, at a moment when nobody is expecting it.
Also as a matter
of common sense, the moment to attack would be in late October, when it will
impact the election. An earlier attack would give people time to think, realize
that the whole thing has been counterproductive, weigh the implications, and
start to have doubts, as has happened with the Georgia attack. Indeed, precisely
because of Georgia, an attack on Iran will be all the more difficult to "sell"
The other fly
in the ointment is the report of Israel using Georgia bases to attack Iran.
That is double nonsense, essentially because of international air law. Aircraft
cannot just fly over countries without their permission! Not even civilian
aircraft. Commercial civil aviation operates under international conventions
providing for over-flights. Military aircraft require permission and failure
to obtain it is an act of war against the country over-flown. The "main problem"
for Israel is thus not the distance to be covered but the fact that it has
no common border with Iran. That was the logic of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan
and Iraq. The next step was to have been a ground attack on Iran from both
sides. Israel cannot attack Iran from Georgia without violating Azerbaijan's
airspace. I can't see Azerbaijan allowing that, and I doubt if its government
would survive if it did. Azerbaijan is a Muslim country, and the population
of northwest Iran is mainly Azeri. Also, how would the Israelis get their planes
to Georgia in the first place? They would have to fly over, at very least,
Turkey, and even that is the long way round! I doubt if the Turkish government
would allow them to fly out, and it certainly would not allow them to fly back
after the attack! Essentially, the only place from which Iran can be attacked
by land-planes is the British base on Diego Garcia, and I doubt if the British
would give permission for that either.
At a guess, I
would say that the "Israel attacks Iran from Georgia" story is a plant
designed to scupper Georgia's bid for NATO membership. Clearly, if Georgia is
planning to allow Israel to violate half a dozen rules of public international
law from its territory, then Europe cannot be expected to give Georgia any sort
of security guarantee! The story probably originates in Europe, possibly from
Russia, possibly from one of the European members of NATO (the French, in particular,
are fond of this sort of stunt!).
~ Kenny Michael
more likely explanation is that the U.S. has been leaking stories of imminent
attacks on Iran since at least February 2006, when Scott Ritter says he was
leaked to by the usual "unnamed military official" about the certainty of war
by June that year. If you were the U.S. military preparing an attack on Iran,
would you leak to Scott Ritter or the NYT? Only if you wanted to see
it on the front page.
Since then there
have been numerous stories of an Iranian attack planted in Eastern European
countries, Dubai, Pakistan, you name it. Now the Dutch – and you are still
buying into it. Wake up.
The reality is
the Iranians probably have supersonic (Mach 2.9) swerving anti-ship cruise
missiles – either Russian 3M-54E or Indian BrahMos or Chinese C-80x
and the U.S. still hasn't even got a suitable imitation target to practice
firing its Aegis defensive system at. They have only just signed a contract
to build such targets ("Threat Representative D"), and they
won't be ready until at least 2012.
In the meantime,
the best the Aegis system has done is to hit one subsonic ballistic missile
and one subsonic cruise missile simultaneously (according to Jane's
Navy International, April 30, 2007). So the U.S. fleet is wide open
to retaliatory attack in the Persian Gulf. They might get lucky and intercept
one ASCM, but not if the Iranians fire a whole volley of them at an aircraft
carrier. And do you reckon it easier to mine the Straits of Hormuz, or to keep
it clear of mines?
The Iranians would
be mad to start anything against the U.S. fleet, and these saber-rattling leaked
threats are simply designed to keep them on full alert for year after year,
costing them money and nervous energy.
Move along, please.
Nothing to interest you here.
~ Dave Kimble,
Peak Oil Australia
I am a fan of
your reports and agree with your strong stands on U.S./Israel relations and
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, in my opinion the Dutch newspaper
article, which states that the U.S. will attack Iran in weeks, has no credibility.
It has been widely
reported in the Israeli press and publicly acknowledged by Israeli Defense
Minister Ehud Barak that the U.S. has told Israel that it is against any attack
on Iran at the present time. Israel had requested that the U.S. supply it with
tanker planes that would have been used for midair refueling in Israel's planned
attack, but the request was turned down.
view of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that at present an attack on
Iran would not be in America's best interests is now administration policy.
It looks as if the neocon dream of bombing Iran before the end of the Bush term
is now dead.
The present Israeli
position was revealed by (leaked to) Ma'ariv reporter Ben Caspit and
reported on the front page of that paper at the end of August. The Israelis
will give the U.S. and the international community until 2010 to resolve the
Iran nuclear question to its satisfaction. If it is not resolved by then, Israel
claims it will act militarily and unilaterally.
The Dutch article
states that the U.S. attack on Iran will be accomplished with unmanned aircraft
only. Unmanned aircraft are not capable of inflicting the serious damage to
the Iranian nuclear installations or military facilities that would be required
in any American assault. This fact alone leads one to wonder about the reliability
of the Dutch article.
I do not think
that this unsourced information from a newspaper known for its sensationalism
is credible given what is known about the American and Israeli positions. It
will be up to the next president to decide if America will attack Iran or will
support an Israeli bombing. This in itself is a rather disturbing reality.
~ Ira Glunts
government recognized these two breakaway regions for the same reason that NATO
attacked Serbia in 1999: feel-good politics. In postmodern democracies, the
focus of policy is not strategic advantage or national security. It is all about
making the folks back home feel good about themselves.
Russia's invasion of Georgia allowed Russians to feel like heroic rescuers
of the Ossetians. U.S. and other Western powers threaten retaliation, so their
people can feel like the rescuers of the poor little Georgians. I believe this
also explains Israel's all-out air war on Lebanon after Hezbollah captured
two IDF soldiers: Israelis needed to feel strong. Never mind that the war did
nothing for Israel strategically.
If only the peoples of Russia, Israel, and the West had some real self-respect.
~ Tikhon Gilson
politics is all about perception management, indeed. However, I'm not sure
if Putin and Medvedev need wars near or far to feel good about themselves;
they seem pretty confident folk in their own right, and they enjoy overwhelming
popular support – something that can't be said for the leaders in Washington,
or Tel Aviv, for that matter.
Worry About Dependence on Foreign Oil
wrote a very nice column about dependence on foreign oil but left out a key
component: what happened after the U.S. helped Israel during the 1973 War? Didn't
the Arabs get angry and apply oil as a tool to hurt the U.S. economy?
~ Anthony LoBaido
Arab oil embargo was largely an illusion, as Sheik Yamani, the Saudi oil minister,
later admitted. If OPEC sanctions any one country, the worldwide market for
oil merely adjusts. At the time, the U.S. merely bought oil from other nations
that hadn't imposed an embargo. These nations' regular customers were serviced
by OPEC. The stagflation occurring in the 1970s in the United States had little
to do with oil. Many economists think it was caused by poor government monetary
and fiscal policies and the war in Vietnam.
the best, Mr. Reese. Being a foreigner, whenever I hear someone express dislike
of Americans, I point out the vast difference between current U.S. policymakers
and real Americans, those who admire their country's values and Constitution.
Your columns have always been sterling examples of that!
~ Thip, Denmark
You have been
a voice of reason when reason was in short supply. I have always enjoyed your
views and admired your power of reason, which has always been clear, plain
and, well, very reasonable. (Thanks to Antiwar.com for creating such an amazing
I only wish that
men like you were running U.S. foreign policy. There is always hope.
Thank you, and
may your days be blessed with joy, good health, and happiness.
Thank God for
Americans like you.
~ Ahmed Asgher,