Ignoring for a moment the total lack of any hard evidence that Iran actually has a nuclear weapons program, various commentators have noted over the years, that a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will not stop Iran from eventually building a bomb but merely delay it – assuming there’s one to delay.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said quite categorically in December last year that such a strike would only delay Iran from obtaining a bomb by a year or two “at best”. Panetta also told his audience at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC that ‘such an attack could disrupt the already fragile economies of Europe and the United States, trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces, and ultimately spark a popular backlash in Iran that would bolster its rulers’.
Panetta and the White House are sticking to the line that a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities will only delay Iran from getting a bomb. However, if all a strike will do is delay the inevitable, how often are the US and Israel prepared to strike Iran in order to continue ‘delaying’ Iran from getting a bomb? Every couple of years? Very unlikely.
So, what’s the alternative? Well, if the regime really was dead set on getting a bomb and the US/Israel equally dead set on stopping them then, clearly, regime change is the only way to solve the ‘problem’.
But, that’s assuming that this is what it’s really all about.
I have said for some time that the ‘Iranians have a nuclear weapons program’ rhetoric has been merely to set up background scenery with which to influence Western public opinion to support a regime-changing attack.
I have further stated that it is not just about regime change in Iran but also about providing an opportunity for Israel to attack and wipe out it’s enemies closer to home; Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
At the moment the White House and Leon Panetta are content simply to continue with the propaganda about ‘a strike against Iran’s facilities will merely delay them eventually getting the bomb’, but avoid for the time being saying that the only way to ensure Iran doesn’t get the bomb is to attack them by hitting not just their nuclear facilities, but also their defences and governmental institutions and attack them so hard that the existing regime will capitulate and a new regime acceptable to the US/Israelis is installed.
The game is on. Panetta and the White House, while it suits them, will keep saying that hitting the nuke plants in Iran is useless – right up until they are ready to strike with devastating regime changing force that will also provide the opportunity for Israel to strike its enemies. Their forces are gathering and they are getting ready.
Like everything the Americans and the Israelis do, they think that their plan will go like clockwork; but, like it did for the US in Iraq and as it has in Afghanistan and as it did for the Israelis in Lebanon in 2006, it will end in disaster. And this time, who knows where it will end.
Finally, it may seem like a strange thing for a historian/analyst to say but I really hope I’m wrong about this because, if I’m right… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.