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Iran: We are exactly where I feared we would be.

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January 13, 2006 8:30pm

I feel like I am developing the bona fides for a new nickname, 'Steve the Promethean.' Most people know that in Greek Mythology, Prometheus was the Titan who stole fire from the Gods and gave it to humans to use. But what most people forget is that Prometheus got his name because in the war between the Titans and the Gods, Prometheus correctly deduced ahead of time that the Gods would win and he turned against his fellow Titans and sided with the Gods, avoiding the punishment many of the Titans suffered in their defeat (i.e. Atlas' punishment was being forced to hold up the world on his shoulders for all eternity). This ability to see the future earned Prometheus his name. Prometheus means "forethought" in Greek. Contrast this with his brother, Epimetheus (afterthought) cursed with seeing exactly the right course of action in a situation after it was too late to do anything about it.

Now that I have gone way too far to explain my thoughts on developing a new nickname, let me explain what relevance this has. Almost a month ago, I wrote an article, "New Cost of Iraq War - We cannot conventionally deal with Iran" which can be seen at where I said what everyone is now talking about since Iran has restarted their nuclear program. With our troops bogged down in Iraq, we do not have the manpower to mount a conventional invasion of Iran if Iran does not turn away from its current course. Among the people now saying this is a recently retired four star general and former deputy National Security Advisor who appeared as the military analyst on MSNBC's hardball this evening.

Any conventional attack on Iran would have to depend mightily on the troops of our traditional European allies, including Germany, France and Spain. Since the Bush administration has all but cut off the administrations of both France and Spain from any political contact, reestablishing these relationships enough to have us lead a coalition of the willing against Iran will be difficult. The alternatives are almost too frightful to even contemplate. If neither the US nor the Europeans act, eventually, Israel will be forced to preemptively attack Iran with nuclear weapons. If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, that is what I would be forced to do. Iran's President has on two occasions as much as said Israel should be wiped from the map. There is no way Israel can allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. If either the US or Israel attack Iran with nuclear weapons, the shockwaves around the Islamic world would be monumental. Al Qaeda would see another massive upsurge in recruitment. Islamic fundamentalist groups would likely overthrow governments in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and a nuclear armed Pakistan. The Pakistani military, already replete with Islamic fundamentalists, would likely overthrow Pakistani President Musharraf and since Al Qaeda is close to the fundamentalists in the Pakistani military, this would result in Al Qaeda and bin Laden obtaining access to Pakistani nuclear weapons. Even if this new Islamic Pakistani government did not give nuclear secrets to bin Laden, it would likely attempt to attack Israel in retaliation for the attack on Iran. Israel has had a close relationship with India on strategic matters including nuclear weapons, for a number of years. Without any of these new issues, India and Pakistan have come very close to using nuclear weapons against each other several times in recent years. If the overthrow of Musharraf by Islamic fundamentalists didn't cause India to preemptively attack Pakistan out of fear, the attack by Pakistan on Israel would definitely cause a nuclear attack by India on Pakistan, and of course, nuclear retaliation by Israel on Pakistan as well. After this, what might happen is anyone's guess, but I would expect a larger regional and nuclear conflict with India and Israel on one side, and a newly re-Talibanized Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and whatever other countries might join them on the other. Assuming no larger regional powers such as Russia and China become involved, and that is a big 'if', India and Israel would probably 'win' such a conflict, but how many mushroom clouds would the region see before this final result? Would anything be left of Tel Aviv, Teheran, Bombay, New Delhi, Karachi, Islamabad, Kabul and other large cities by the time this was over? Pakistan and India have some of the most densely populated cities in the world. Such a conflict could see 50 million people killed just in India and Pakistan in the first two weeks. If Syria joined the conflict against Israel, there might be nothing left of Israel once all was said and done. Syria has claimed that they have enough chemical weapons to kill almost everyone in Israel and would do just that if Israel attacked them with nuclear weapons. If such a conflict erupts, expect a near total loss of Israel, Iran, Syria and Pakistan. Israel and India each have approximately 100 nuclear weapons, and Pakistan has between 30 and 60. India, due to their large size in both geography and population would probably 'survive' the best, but in terms of the amount of dead would still experience a catastrophe of unspeakable proportions.

The easiest way to avoid all of this would be if somehow Iran could once again be persuaded to forgo their nuclear ambitions. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a political career out of being stridently anti-American and said during his campaign that he would "not allow the United States to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear program". Europe is clearly tired of offering carrots to Iran to stop its nuclear program and such carrots may not yield any results anyway. The second best course of action would be if Europe and NATO invade conventionally with minimal assistance from the United States. If we had not engaged in this unnecessary war in Iraq, we would have the full American military to bring to bear against Iran and this would be a strong deterrent to their engaging in their current course. I've said and written it before and I will say it again, we continue to pay a heavy price in a variety of ways for this mistaken Iraqi policy. Now, we are exactly where I feared we would be. Now what, Mr. Bush?
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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