U.S. Military: One Up, One Down
An interesting article by Seymour Hersh in last week's New Yorker, Last Stand: The Military's problem with the President's Iran Policy. Overall it was heartening to me to read that the military, of which I was a part for 22 years of my life, isn't solely populated with right wing ideologues who are foaming at the mouth to do the bidding of this administration. No, indeed, it seems that there are people populating the ranks who are trying to realistically assess what we should or shouldn't do with regard to an exercise of military power, and who are also a bit fed up with how this administration misuses those it gets information from.
Hersh reports that military leaders in the Pentagon are sending signals to Bush that they're not in favor of military action in Iran. The reasons are many, but they boil down to first not being sure where the targets are, and given that this would have to be an air campaign, i.e. we'd be bombing the country, it's pretty certain that any such bombing campaign would result in Iran entering into Iraq in a significant way with the result being many American and Iraqi deaths and God only knows what end result, but whichever one you can think of isn't pretty.
The military brass is also put out by the fact that the "nuclear" option was put on the table, which made it into the press some weeks ago. The idea was to us nuclear "bunker busters" to get to the buried Iranian nuclear facilities. Of course where those facilities are exactly isn't known, but the Bush administration was indirectly trumping the possibility of using nukes to get to Iranian nuclear materials. It turns out that the military was asked to provide all possible options, which in this situation included the possibility of using bunker busting nukes. Apparently that wasn't intended to mean that this was an option the military seriously considered, though that didn't stop the Bushies from putting it out there as if it were, and this ticked off the Pentagon brass.
An interesting twist on this for me is that the military’s stand on Iran is not unanimous. Indeed, the Air Force feels it can do the job well enough and is all for dropping bombs. In this case it’s not what’s good for the services, i.e. ALL service members regardless of whatever uniform they wear, but what’s likely good for the Air Force, though in what context the Air Force could see this as good, other than sucking up to bomb/invasion crazy neocons I have no clue. When you’re dropping bombs from 35,000 feet you’re not too concerned about losing your pilots, planes, or what it looks like after you’re done. Soldiers and Marines have to get in close and personal, clearly putting their own lives on the line, and they get to take home the visions of what they’ve done. In the case of the Navy, while that service doesn’t play as much of a role on the ground (medics with the Marines do, as do support personnel such as medical types in general), but if it has to sail its ships into the Persian Gulf, which it would surely need to do if it were to launch aircraft into Iran, then the vision of martyr aspiring Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen coming at aircraft carriers and destroyers in explosives laden 50 + knot cigarette boats just doesn’t settle well with a lot of folks when the return on what’s expected is so up in question.
However you cut it, we have enough problems in the world without inviting more by going after Iran. Here’s the deal: If the Iranians want the bomb they’re going to get it, period. There’s not a whole hell of a lot that can be done about it by force or threat of force. If we try it’s almost a sure bet that the Iranians will dump even more time and money into going after the bomb when we’re through as there’s no chance in hell that we’re going to be able to occupy the country like we are Iraq.
The Bush administration’s policy on Iran has been unrealistic and dramatically lacking in imagination and original thinking. Yes, Iran’s a problem, one the Iranian people themselves are trying to figure out and deal with, but it’s theirs to deal with, not ours. We don’t like it, in many cases understandably, but trying to bully the Iranians into doing our bidding when so much of what we ask for is hypocritical is ridiculous. If the American people allow this administration to get away with the same misdirection and saber rattling that it used to get us into Iraq, then God help us and Iran.