Before the United States headed into Iraq in its most recent campaign, there were many hints that war was becoming the most popular choice and diplomacy was riding shotgun. Some very interesting events have taken place lately regarding Iran, and the possibility of a military strike against its nuclear facilities are eerily similar to the events that led up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In an exclusive CNN interview last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey said, "My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve," in reference to Iran building a nuclear weapon. Dempsey went on to say that he is “satisfied that the options that we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable if necessary," in reference to a military intervention. These statements are similar to those made in 2001 by President Bush and others inside his administration about Iraq and other nations being held accountable for developing WMD. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a similar statement last week that a nuclear Iran would not be tolerated and that the U.S. would take "whatever steps necessary to stop it."
Iran has also been found liable for helping Al-Qaeda carry out the 9/11 attacks by a federal judge in Manhattan. Saudi Arabia, which was also a defendant in the case, was dropped from the judgment. Iraq was also accused of being complicit with 9/11 plans and harboring Al-Qaeda operatives before the U.S. invasion in 2003. The most suspect part of this case is that Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 hijackers originated, was simply let off the hook. However if the U.S. is preparing for war, it makes perfect sense since Saudi Arabia is an adversary of Iran, terrified of the nuclear threat (and has threatened to start its own nuclear program), and a vital U.S. ally.
As of late, Israel has shown an increasing uneasiness about the Iranian “threat,” and the U.S. has been listening. Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a rather astute statement that war with Iran would embroil the region in conflict. This prompted a harsh Israeli response, which led to the U.S. reassuring Israel that there are certain “red triggers” that will push the U.S. to act forcefully.
Additionally, high-level Israeli diplomats, military, and intelligence officials traveled to the U.S. earlier this month for the yearly strategic dialogue meeting, in which Israel presented evidence that Iran was progressing further in its nuclear program than U.S. officials thought. Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israel gave plenty of “evidence” that Iraq was an imminent threat and Ariel Sharon said that Iraq was, "the greatest danger facing Israel." Israel only did this after the Bush administration assured them that Iraq was the first to go on a list that included Iran (who Israel truly believed to be their “biggest threat” if they were being honest).
If the U.S. is planning to go to war, it isn’t holding its cards very close to its chest. Iran senses that something very tangible is behind the rhetoric, and has begun its preparations for armed conflict. Iran is holding war games in the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the world’s oil travels to market. While closing the strait indefinitely is impossible, it may cause oil prices to skyrocket for an extended period while leading to war. Spokeswoman of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth fleet, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich said that the U.S. is ready to “counter malevolent actions” that would interfere with navigation in response to an Iranian blockade of the strait.
Further, the regime suspects that the judgment made against it pertaining to 9/11 is rhetoric to help justify war. It also seems likely that Iran will seek the death penalty against CIA agents recently caught spying for the U.S., a stern warning that espionage will not be tolerated and Iran will act with forceful resolve against its enemies.
Things are only getting worse between the U.S. and its Persian adversary. The pattern of aggressive rhetoric that was used by the U.S. and Israel before the war in Iraq in 2003 is being used again. It may be early in the process, but as diplomatic means of solving problems are either failing or not being used to their full potential, the default tactic of armed conflict is making its way to the front of the line.
Photo Credit: AZRainman