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U.S., Israel may attack Iran, Syria

By David Storobin, Esq.                                                                             1/19/2005

In an article for the New Yorker Magazine that was deemed as “riddled with errors” by the U.S. Department of Defense, Seymour Hersh alleged that the George W. Bush administration is planning a military strike against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone…Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah-we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism," an official was quoted.

According to the report, American military and intelligence are already conducting reconnaissance and other spying missions to find the proper targets for the anti-nuclear strike. While the Pentagon may be denying the report, it did not deny that a military strike may be in the offing. President Bush also refused to eliminate the military option as one of his choices.

While some in the American media have described the attack against Iran as “Bush’s Cambodia”, comparing it to American excursions in countries around Vietnam during the war there, others – including editorials for the NY Post and NY Sun – have unequivocally endorsed such strikes as necessary to prevent a terror-sponsoring regime from gaining potentially nation-destroying weapons.

During the recent campaign for President, both George Bush and his Democratic Party opponent John Kerry agreed that Iran’s nuclear build-up is the greatest foreign challenge faced by the United States. Many Democrats have condemned Bush for attacking Iraq, rather than dealing with a more dangerous Iran that has a known nuclear program and openly sponsors organizations listed as terrorist by the United States Department of State.

Tehran continues to deny that its nuclear program is meant for any military purposes, claiming that it is merely developing nuclear energy for civilian purposes to provide the country with another form of energy that Iran’s economy requires. The claim has been attacked by some as ridiculous because Iran is one of the world’s leading suppliers of oil and gas, so a civilian nuclear energy program would just be a huge waste of the country’s resources. It also did not help Tehran that the country’s former President threatened to destroy Israel once nuclear weapons are developed, claiming that the Jewish state will be destroyed in one shot, while the Islamic world will be able to tolerate a nuclear response from Jerusalem.

In recent months, Europeans have been leading diplomatic efforts to thwart the Islamic Republic’s WMD program, hoping that financial incentives would lead it to choose money over weapons. Washington seemed to have embraced the European efforts, but many believe this is only due to the Bush Administration’s conviction that diplomatic efforts will fail. Once non-military methods are exhausted, America will likely push for military threats against Iran in the U.N. Security Council, or it may even decide to unilaterally strike the country. The Pentagon may not be keen on this strategy because many military leaders believe Tehran will use the new gains from Europe to not only build a nuclear program, but also re-build its tremendously outdated Air Force and air defenses.

Some reports also suggested that Iraq was chosen as the second step in the War on Terror to surround Iran, with American troops to the east of the Islamic Republic in Afghanistan and to the west of it in Iraq. While such claims remain unsubstantiated, having well over 100,000 American soldiers stationed right next to Iran certainly does help Washington and should keep the Ayatollahs in Iran awake on many nights to come.

Recent rumors have also been heard about a potential strike against Syria, a close ally of Iran and known for its support of anti-American insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, as well as for the Hizballah and various Palestinian terrorist organizations. A recent
Global Politician Report quoted an American official as saying that Syria should worry about an attack by the United States, unless it stops supporting terrorist organizations and turns over wanted Iraqis who are living within the country’s borders. Syria denies allegations of anti-American terror-sponsorship.

Israel, too, threatened Damascus in the recent months, even flying its Air Force jets over the residence of President Bashir Assad. It has also expanded into Syria its policy of assassinating terrorists.

Some have contemplated that Israel may attack Syria, while the United States will attack Iran.

Others reject this as a bluff because the U.S. is currently tied down in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, in Afghanistan, so it may not have the means to invade either Syria or Iran, much less both, even with Israel’s help. Proponents of this theory believe that Washington is merely trying to play “bad cop” to Europe’s “good cop”, so as to persuade the Iranian leadership to cooperate with Europe’s diplomatic efforts in order to avoid the wrath of America.

This theory has been challenged by those claiming that the United States would not need as much military in Iraq if Iran and Syria did not aid terrorists and insurgents. As such, an invasion and destruction of terror-sponsoring regimes in Iran and Syria would immediately lead to a peaceful Iraq, with Iraqi insurgents quickly running out of weapons, money and intelligence information.

At this point, it is impossible to confirm which, if any, of the above theories are accurate and whether the Pentagon’s denial of the report in the New Yorker is merely an attempt to avoid disclosure of national secrets. However, United States, Israel, Europe and even many Arab countries remain very concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and terror sponsorship. Even if the Bush Administration is merely bluffing, war threats often have a way of spinning out of control, leading to hostilities. Furthermore, based on the available information, it certainly does not seem like George Bush and his people would be adverse to attacking the fundamentalist regime in Iran if such war would be winnable according to American Generals. Whether a coalition of nations can be built for such operation remains to be seen.

David Storobin is a New York lawyer who received Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law. His Master's Thesis (M.A. - Comparative Politics) deals with Extremist Movements in the Middle East and the historical causes for the rise of fundamentalism. Mr. Storobin's book "The Root Cause: The Rise of Fundamentalist Islam and its Threat to the World" will be published in 2005.

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