Sarah Baxter / The Sunday Times – 2007-09-03 22:08:37
WASHINGTON (September 2, 2007) — The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.
Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus.”
President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran “before it is too late.”
One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week reported “significant” cooperation with Iran over its nuclear programme and said that uranium enrichment had slowed. Tehran has promised to answer most questions from the agency by November, but Washington fears it is stalling to prevent further sanctions. Iran continues to maintain it is merely developing civilian nuclear power.
Bush is committed for now to the diplomatic route but thinks Iran is moving towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. According to one well placed source, Washington believes it would be prudent to use rapid, overwhelming force, should military action become necessary.
Israel, which has warned it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, has made its own preparations for airstrikes and is said to be ready to attack if the Americans back down.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which uncovered the existence of Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, said the IAEA was being strung along. “A number of nuclear sites have not even been visited by the IAEA,” he said. “They’re giving a clean bill of health to a regime that is known to have practised deception.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, irritated the Bush administration last week by vowing to fill a “power vacuum” in Iraq. But Washington believes Iran is already fighting a proxy war with the Americans in Iraq.
The Institute for the Study of War last week released a report by Kimberly Kagan that explicitly uses the term “proxy war” and claims that with the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda in Iraq “increasingly under control”, Iranian intervention is the “next major problem the coalition must tackle.”
Bush noted that the number of attacks on US bases and troops by Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months — “despite pledges by Iran to help stabilise the security situation in Iraq”.
It explains, in part, his lack of faith in diplomacy with the Iranians. But Debat believes the Pentagon’s plans for military action involve the use of so much force that they are unlikely to be used and would seriously stretch resources in Afghanistan and Iraq.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The Bush bashing continues, however, we have not been attacked on this shore since 9/11. Bush’s predecessor did nothing for 8 years when we were attacked no less than 6 times, one on our shores with the first WTC bombing in 1993. Obviously, ignoring the threat of madmen like Bin Laden and Amidinejad does not work. We did that for 8 years under Clinton and that culminated in the attack on 9/11. I agree war is not the answer, annihilation is. Let Amidinejad rule over the largest parking lot in the world. Get rid of Iran then head to Venezuela and do the same thing. That should fix the problem. However, who would Nancy Pelosi visit and Hillary Clinton visit? They have never met a terrorist they didn’t like, nor a despot they didn’t like. It seems the only place the democrats hate is America.
— DJM, Coral Springs, FL USA
Yeah, “Bush this, Bush that”, ts about time to look at the REALITY. The Bush administration knew that Iran was going to be a major problem years ago. Saddam was a genocidal maniac (and yes he did have biological and chemical weapons— only takes a few test tubes to produce enough to take out a small country; very easy to hide and then dispose of). Once we took out Saddam and gained some alliance with Iraq (yes, there are still terrorists there, but they are not the Iraqi government) we were perfectly stationed within striking distance of Iran if they decided to make problems for the Middle East or elsewhere.
It’s like this: you have 2 homes that are dealing in crime. Pick the weaker, sloppier one and move in, take control. Now you are next door to the bigger problem. Now you have next door access to what is going on and can move in much quicker and precise — beat them in their backyard. Mark my words, this will go down in history as one of the best military strategies ever.
— Alec, Baltimore, U.S.A.
I am a woman of Persian ancestry. My family came to the U.S.A. in from Iran in 1980, when I was 11. We are are United States citizens. We all fully support President Bush. We all voted for him in 2000 and in 2004. We still support him now.
Members of my extended family in Iran have expressed to me that they welcome any help — including military intervention — to help overthrow the Mullahs. The Iranian people, for the most part, love the West and Western culture. They don’t like Ahmadinejad or any of the hardline Islamists (i.e. the Mullahs and Ayatollahs) any more than any in the West do.
• My family and I are so very grateful to have had the opportunity to come to the U.S.A. when we did and to become citizens and to prosper in the businesses that we have opened here. We find that some people who were born in this country do not appreciate its greatness to the degree that they should, as they have never known anything else. This is a shame.
— Nargress Bandari, Lafayette, California