Possible U.S. Talks With Iran: Is this A set-up?
Negotiations -- or War With Iran?
By Pat Buchanan
23, 2012 "Information
would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven't had such
discussions," said Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state in
the Bush administration, of reports the Obama White House has
agreed to one-on-one talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.
Sen. Lindsey Graham dissented Sunday: "I think the time for
talking is over. ... We talk, they enrich. It needs to stop. We
need to have red lines coordinated with Israel and end this
before it gets out of hand."
Clearly, Graham believes an ultimatum, followed by an attack if
Iran denies us "access to their nuclear program," is the way to
What kind of attack?
According to David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy magazine,
U.S. and Israeli military authorities are discussing a joint
attack, and the idea getting the most traction is "a
U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment
"The strike might take only 'a couple of hours' in the best case
and only would involve 'a day or two' overall, the source said,
and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone
Smashing the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, writes
Rothkopf, would mean "setting the Iranian nuclear program back
many years, and doing so without civilian casualties."
This would have "region-wide benefits," writes Rothkopf.
"One advocate asserts it would be a 'transformative outcome:
saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process,
securing the (Persian) Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to
Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region
for a decade to come.'"
Thus, according to Rothkopf and his source, a U.S. attack on
Iran's enrichment facilities would produce the same glorious
benefits we were promised if only we would invade and occupy
Iraq in 2003.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has another view. "The
results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could
... prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part
of the world." What consequences might Gates have in mind?
Iran might mine the Persian Gulf, sending ships to the bottom,
halting traffic, doubling the price of oil and plunging Europe
into the economic abyss on the edge of which the continent
U.S. ships might face swarm attacks from Iranian speedboats,
forcing us to sink the Iranian Navy's surface ships and destroy
the hundreds of fast missile boats in the gulf and Iranian
Iran could send its submarines out and fire its anti-ship
missiles to sink a U.S. warship. Iranian missile attacks on U.S.
bases in Bahrain and the gulf region could ignite an all-out air
and sea war, with the U.S. having to destroy Iranian air fields,
antiaircraft and missile sites, and Iran's remaining nuclear
The U.S. could face the kind of attacks across the region that
Ronald Reagan confronted when he put Marines in Beirut, with the
U.S. embassy blown up and 241 Marines massacred by a suicide
And if after months we had smashed Iran as we did Iraq in Desert
Storm, would the regime give way to a pro-Western democracy? Or
would the result in Iran look like what exists today in Libya,
Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan?
Syria is breaking apart into Sunni and Alawite, Arab, Kurd and
Druze, Christian and Muslim, Islamist and secular. Afghanistan
is dissolving into Tajik and Uzbek in the north, Hazara in the
center, and Pashtun in the south and east. Iraq is losing
Kurdistan and reverting to civil-sectarian war.
A U.S. defeat of Iran could bring to power revanchists bent on
payback through terrorism and propel that half of the population
that is Arab, Baluch, Kurd and Azeri to try to break away.
Who would benefit from a breakup of Iran, other than jihadists?
Iran would surely stir up Hezbollah to rain down rockets on
Israel and incite the Shia in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to rise
against the regimes there.
Would Shia in Iraq attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad? We cannot
know, but Gates is surely right that the consequences could be
Which raises the question. Why are we even talking about war?
Sen. Graham notwithstanding, the sanctions are working. The
Iranian economy is sinking into recession, oil revenues have
fallen, and hard currency reserves are being depleted. And what
is the grave threat that justifies a war?
While Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent, it has not
enriched to weapons grade. Should they do so, we would know it.
Ayatollah Khamenei has called nuclear weapons anti-Islamic, and
the U.S. intelligence community says Iran has no nuclear bomb
America's position as of today is: We do not want war with Iran,
but will tolerate no Iranian bomb. Iran's official position is:
We want no bomb, and we are willing to negotiate, but we have a
right to have a peaceful nuclear program.
Can we find no common ground here?
Gates and Burns are right. Before we go to war, let us find out,
in face-to-face talks if need be, if we really have to go to
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower:
Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick
Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers
and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at
Scroll down to add / read comments
Support Information Clearing House
Search Information Clearing House