Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Proposed Course of Action Against Iran

Jules Crittenden gives a thorough and sound analysis of the Iran problem and, in light of their abduction of the 15 British sailors, recommends an entirely appropriate course of action:

Typically in the past, in cases such as the Chinese detention of American naval aviators forced down in a collision with a Chinese fighter in 2000, and the seizure of British soldiers by Iran in 2004, the aggrieved party puts up with some public humiliation and plays it low key in order to get its people back alive.

The case here is different. The extent of Iranian interference in Iraq has become clear since 2004. The state of cold war that has existed between the United States and Iran since 1979 has turned into a hot proxy war as Iran floods weapons and cash into Iraq, training terrorists to fight there and even sending its own special forces in to support militias and insurgents. It is on the verge of turning into a direct military confrontation, though arguably with this act against an American ally and other acts against Americans, it already has.

Iran is a party to the intentional murder of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. There is also evidence that Iran is heavily involved in southern Iraq, and may well be responsible for the murder of British soldiers there. The British are our allies in this fight. The seizure of Britons is no different than a seizure of Americans. The Iranians have chosen to pick on them as the weaker party, calculating that Blair as a lame duck, with anti-war sentiment high, will do nothing. Iran calculates that new British leadership will want less to do with the United States in Iraq and may be more willing to deal on terms favorable to Iran. Iran’s timing is impeccable.

The question now is whether Iran has miscalculated, and if our leadership has the will to present a strong, united front against Iran in the interest of peace in the Middle East. The United States, conscious of political weakness at home, has been slowly building the case against Iran and acting in a measured fashion with the seizure of Iranian agents well inside Iraq. It has not attacked the supply lines and terrorist training camps in Iran. But it is increasingly clear that security in Iraq relies in large part on Iran’s respect for Iraq’s borders. But Iran has shown no desire to stop meddling violently in Iraq, and it is time for the next step in a measured response to Iran’s aggression.

The British crisis is a provocation that provides an opportunity to send a big-stick message to Iran. It is precisely the message Jimmy Carter should have quietly conveyed 28 years ago. You’ve had your fun. If they are not free in two days, we will blockade your country. Nothing gets in or out. Two days after that, we will destroy your oil-producing infrastructure. We then have a very long list of your military, political and civilian infrastructure that supports your terrorist and nuclear ambitions that we will begin destroying. We do not intend to invade you. We have no need nor interest in doing so.

When the ships and aircraft are in place and the cruise missiles have been launched, George Bush and Tony Blair can announce that in defense of Allied and Iraqi lives, to prevent further incursions and terrorist acts that are destabilizing Iraq, it has become necessary to reduce Iran’s capacity for causing further mayhem in the Middle East.

There may be a perception that Bush and Blair as lame ducks are incapable for forceful action. Bush has already shown that not to be the case, and in wartime, aggressive leadership in defiance of domestic political weakness is often called for. It should not be a political calculation … both leaders are increasingly immune from that concern. It is a military calculation. Do we have the capacity to reduce and contain Iran militarily? If that answer to that is no, then we need to develop it. Quickly.

There may be a public impression that precipitous action will endanger the lives of the British sailors and Marines and risk open warfare with Iran, at a time when the public is weary of war. This needs to be countered with the clear illustration that lack of action by the United States, Britain and the rest of the free world against Iran has cost, and continues to cost, thousands of lives, in open warfare from Lebanon to Iraq.

Iran can forestall this by releasing the prisoners. They may couch their magnanimous action in any face-saving terms they care to.

Should Iran see reason and release the British prisoners, an additional message needs to be quietly conveyed.

Any and all incursions into Iraqi territory henceforth will be met with overwhelming force, to include hot pursuit across the border and targeting of terrorist infrastructure there. We might finally then see a formal end to the Carter era of U.S.-Iranian relations and let the mullahs know: The party’s over.
Read the entire post here.

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