Leaders of Iran

Monday, January 31, 2005

War with Iran

I received a nice note from a reader asking about the coming war with Iran. My feeling is that the war started with the overthrow of Mossadeq in 1953 and the puppet dictatorship of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. I have no objection to a Shah but if there is to be a Shah it must be up to the Persian people not the Americans. So rather than review the whole history of American cold war against Iran let me start with the current situation.

Israel is putting great pressure on the US to stop the Iranian nuclear bomb project. Iran denies a bomb project and the UN's IAEA finds no evidence of a bomb project. American Neocons are anxious to do Israel's bidding. The US Military is over extended with the war in Iraq and cannot wage a land war on Iran without recalling the inactive reserve and resuming the draft. This would not be popular with the US people. The Neocons counter with a plan to bomb Iran into submission without using troops. The plan counts on massive air superiority and the use of indigenous rebels to over thrown the Islamic Republic. The only candidates for the rebels are the Mojahedin-e Khalq - MKO. The US State Department lists the MKO as a terrorist group and it is currently illegal for the US Government to give them money.

The question then becomes can the US overthrow the Islamic Republic with a bombing campaign? There is intense pressure to rehabilitate the image of the MKO so that they can be funded to wage war in Iran. Even a small voice such as my own is under intense pressure to silence my voice on the MKO issue. I have received threats demanding that I stop publishing many of my pages. Unfortunately the IRI is not willing to furnish detailed information to show the evil that the MKO has done. If the IRI remains silent there is a good chance that the US will recognize the MKO and fund them. A sustained bombing campaign even if unsuccessful will be bad for the people of Iran.

What can the IRI do? Obviously anything that they can do to block the MKO is important. However more important is the speech that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei made Monday, July 5th 2004 in Hamadan. Ayatollah Khamenei said, "The Iranian people will cut off its hand without hesitation and endanger the interests of the aggressor everywhere in the world". What then can the Ayatollah Khamenei do to impact the US? A handful of thoughts come to mind. First of all closing or interdicting the Straights of Hormuz would block more than half of the worlds oil supply. The US Military is over extended in Iraq so raising a revolt among the Shia, against the US in Iraq would cause massive pressure. Afghanistan is quiet but vulnerable. A massacre of Americans would be easy to start. In 1978 then Afghan Army Captain Ismail Khan started a massacre in Herat that started the war that destroyed the Russians. President Kharzai controls only that part of the country that America guarantees him so a revolt is possible. A separate country taking in non-Pashtun Afghanistan is plausible. To the south the Baluch of Pakistani occupied Baluchistan are a bomb waiting to be ignited. Already there is growing agitation among the Marri and the Bugti Baluch against the Pakistani Government. Pakistan seeks to be all things to all people and treads a dangerous course betweens the demands of the US and the demands of Islam.

Does the US really want war? The Neocon faction does but there are changes in the second term. Doug Feith has resigned and Wolfowitz has reached the peak of his power and is receding. Rumsfeld is besieged. Rice as Secretary of State is steering an independent course. She was under pressure to make John Bolton her deputy but she declined. Rice is a voice of moderation and she has the President’s ear in a way Powell never did. At this point the US seems inclined to threaten but not start a shooting war.

What will Iran do? Clearly Ayatollah Khamenei is in control and what he wishes will come to pass. The upcoming Presidential race is problematic. As of now it seems clear that Rafsanjani will win unless Ayatollah Khamenei decides to stop him. The reformists are split and ineffectual. The movement is split into two parts, those who support Velayat-e Fiqh who have no public support and those who seek to overthrow the Government who are frozen out of politics by the Judiciary. The Conservatives seek to embrace a dangerous foreign policy. If Rafsanjani is out then I suspect that Velayati is a safe choice for the Islamic Republic. However Larijani seems to have the advantage unless of course Ayatollah Khamenei supports one over the other. If a reformist wins it would be 4 more wasted years like the last 8. If a Conservative wins then it could pressure the US to do something foolish. If Rafsanjani wins then he engineers a deal to normalize trade in exchange for verification of no bomb project.

At this point all I can do is sit back and watch the moves since it is in play now. I only hope that no more US servicemen have to die in foreign adventures that can be avoided and that no Iranians have to die for a bomb project that does not exist.
Barry O’Connell


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