Getting serious about Iran

By

Arthur Herman, who wrote (among other books) the superb To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World has written an article "Getting Serious About Iran" for Commentary magazine that contemplates the potential of military action against the Iranian regime.

The regime has continued its program to develop nuclear weapons (violating its obligations under the Nuclear Non—Proliferation Treaty), ignoring blandishments offered it during years of futile negotiations with key European nations. The regime is also the power behind the increasing radicalization of the Shiite populations in the Middle East (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiites in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain) that threatens the stability of a region that controls much of the world's oil supply.

Herman foresees the increasing likelihood of the need to confront Iran militarily  before Iran has a nuclear weapon. Iran has threatened to cut its own oil exports and to blockade the Persian Gulf to prevent other nations from exporting their oil, Herman believes these threats can be dealt with by America.

How?

* The US should make it clear that we will tolerate no action that endangers the flow of oil from the region and deploy forces to reflect this stance;

* We would halt, on our own, shipments of Iranian oil. Herman believes that supplies can be found elsewhere as oil production worldwide has been increasing. Iran, on the other hand, depends on oil for 85% of its exports and 65% of its state budget;

* Air attacks would begin against Iran's air defense systems, air force bases, and communication systems— then nuclear sites would be attacked;

* Iran's oil refineries would then be subject to aerial bombardment. While Iran might export large amounts of oil, it imports 40% of its gasoline from foreign sources. With its refineries in ruins, Iran would find its military hardware (let alone cars, buses and planes) soon running on empty;

* Iran's offshore oil platforms would be seized and occupied; a key terminus for its oil exports, Kargh Island, would be occupied—thus rendering Iran's oil fields virtually useless.

Herman answers skeptics by pointing out that some of this scenario has already been accomplished—back in 1988. During the height of the Iran—Iraq War, Iran began to attack oil tankers in the Gulf. US forces successfully countered Iranian attacks and seized key Iranian oil platforms. Iran was forced to retreat and entered into "peace" negotiations with Iraq. They backed down in the face of the military might of America.

Herman thinks this strategy has more potential than relying on air attacks alone against Iran's nuclear sites since it would deny Iran of the oil exports that the theocracy relies upon to stay in power. He feels the regime is weaker and more unstable than many perceive. Iran is rent by ethnic divisions, for example, itching to throw off the yoke of Persian domination.

Herman is a historian and he points out that the failure to confront Hitler early on during his aggression—when success against him was probable—led to the horrors of World war Two. He thinks that lopping off the head of the theocrats who rule Iran would bring about the collapse of the radical Shiism that is threatening the stability of this vital oil—exporting region.

History does not have to be repeated if foresight and courage can be relied upon. Let us hope there is some of those qualities left among world leaders.

It is pleasing to see thar our own frequent contributor J.R. Dunn is acknowledged at the end of the article for his help, along with Chet Nagle.

Ed Lasky  11 4 06

Arthur Herman, who wrote (among other books) the superb To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World has written an article "Getting Serious About Iran" for Commentary magazine that contemplates the potential of military action against the Iranian regime.

The regime has continued its program to develop nuclear weapons (violating its obligations under the Nuclear Non—Proliferation Treaty), ignoring blandishments offered it during years of futile negotiations with key European nations. The regime is also the power behind the increasing radicalization of the Shiite populations in the Middle East (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiites in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain) that threatens the stability of a region that controls much of the world's oil supply.

Herman foresees the increasing likelihood of the need to confront Iran militarily  before Iran has a nuclear weapon. Iran has threatened to cut its own oil exports and to blockade the Persian Gulf to prevent other nations from exporting their oil, Herman believes these threats can be dealt with by America.

How?

* The US should make it clear that we will tolerate no action that endangers the flow of oil from the region and deploy forces to reflect this stance;

* We would halt, on our own, shipments of Iranian oil. Herman believes that supplies can be found elsewhere as oil production worldwide has been increasing. Iran, on the other hand, depends on oil for 85% of its exports and 65% of its state budget;

* Air attacks would begin against Iran's air defense systems, air force bases, and communication systems— then nuclear sites would be attacked;

* Iran's oil refineries would then be subject to aerial bombardment. While Iran might export large amounts of oil, it imports 40% of its gasoline from foreign sources. With its refineries in ruins, Iran would find its military hardware (let alone cars, buses and planes) soon running on empty;

* Iran's offshore oil platforms would be seized and occupied; a key terminus for its oil exports, Kargh Island, would be occupied—thus rendering Iran's oil fields virtually useless.

Herman answers skeptics by pointing out that some of this scenario has already been accomplished—back in 1988. During the height of the Iran—Iraq War, Iran began to attack oil tankers in the Gulf. US forces successfully countered Iranian attacks and seized key Iranian oil platforms. Iran was forced to retreat and entered into "peace" negotiations with Iraq. They backed down in the face of the military might of America.

Herman thinks this strategy has more potential than relying on air attacks alone against Iran's nuclear sites since it would deny Iran of the oil exports that the theocracy relies upon to stay in power. He feels the regime is weaker and more unstable than many perceive. Iran is rent by ethnic divisions, for example, itching to throw off the yoke of Persian domination.

Herman is a historian and he points out that the failure to confront Hitler early on during his aggression—when success against him was probable—led to the horrors of World war Two. He thinks that lopping off the head of the theocrats who rule Iran would bring about the collapse of the radical Shiism that is threatening the stability of this vital oil—exporting region.

History does not have to be repeated if foresight and courage can be relied upon. Let us hope there is some of those qualities left among world leaders.

It is pleasing to see thar our own frequent contributor J.R. Dunn is acknowledged at the end of the article for his help, along with Chet Nagle.

Ed Lasky  11 4 06