By Boris Volkhonsky
As has been reported by Israeli “Haaretz” daily, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey said that a U.S. military operation against Iran would be “executable if necessary”.
He also reiterated the U.S. long-standing position, stating that the Obama administration is “examining a range of options” on the possibility of a nuclear Iran.
This statement came only one day after the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year, if not less.
General Dempsey also added that there are no guarantees that Israel would give the U.S. a warning should it decide to attack Iran. However, he claimed that America recognizes Israel’s concerns and is collaborating with it in order to “establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis.”
The two statements by the Pentagon chief and the U.S. topmost military commander come at a point when Obama administration is trying to determine its future strategic line in the “Great Middle East”.
The recent total withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq has resulted in immediate clashes among Iraqi top authorities and is doomed to lead to sectarian and communal violence at least between Sunnis and Shiites with a possible involvement of Iraqi Kurds.
These developments have already prompted some Republicans including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to call on President Obama in order to return at least part of the U.S. troops to Iraq. One of the main fears of the U.S. establishment is that the vacuum left after the U.S. pullout is sure to be filled by Iran which would instigate its Shiite agents in Iraq. The option of nuclear Iran widening its influence in the “renovated” Iraq is probably the scariest option for both the U.S. and its ally Israel.
At the same time, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan General John R. Allen suggested on Tuesday that American troops should stay in that country after the announced deadline of their pullout, that is after 2014. While insisting that there is “no daylight” between him and President Obama about policy for continued troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, General Allen nevertheless called for prolonging the stay of the troops beyond 2014.
It should be remembered that putting an end to the two wars launched by the previous administration was by far the topmost foreign policy task set forward in Obama’s election campaign in 2008. Now that the troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, it may be one of the few things Obama can boast of in his 2012 campaign. In this context, staying true to his promise to end the Afghan war (at least in wording) must be one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy program at least until November next year.
The Iraqi campaign has caused enormous losses both among Americans and Iraqis. Almost 4.5 thousand U.S. soldiers lost their lives. The number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of the U.S. invasion cannot be calculated – according to most cautious estimates it exceeds 100,000. Four million Iraqis have become refugees. The total cost of the war has reached $3 trillion.
Despite all these losses and expenditures, the only aim of the war that has been achieved is the removal and consequent hanging of Saddam Hussein. Likewise in Afghanistan, the only purpose really achieved by the U.S. is the elimination of Osama bin Laden. One should not be a fortune-teller to say that after the U.S. withdrawal the country will be plunged into total chaos with ultimate triumph of the forces the U.S. is fighting against now.
Still, having the two puzzles unresolved, the U.S. is ready to create a new problem for itself and for the region. It should be noted that Iran’s potential (including military and possibly nuclear) by far exceeds that of Iraq (to say nothing of Afghanistan). The consequences are virtually unpredictable.
This was pointed out about a week ago even by such a “hawk” of American foreign policy as former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński who warned that the consequences of a possible war with Iran would be disastrous for the U.S.
Some time ago Leon Panetta himself also spoke of “unintended consequences” of an action against Iran, and warned that such a strike could only serve in delaying Tehran’s nuclear efforts only by about three years “not really deterring Iran from what they want to do.”
Still, the issue is raised again and again. It hardly signals that the U.S. is really ready to wage a new war. But this is definitely targeted at supporting the militant spirit in the U.S. society at least until the Election Day. That is, the militant lingo is mostly meant for local consumption.