September 20, 2007

Iran- the idea of airstrikes

Much ink is being and has been spilt on what to do about Iran and its possible development of nuclear weapons. As yet the IAEA have declared that they do not have the evidence to say that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and yet the world's major powers seem in bodies like the UN security council to be justly nervous about Tehran's intentions. Its often been argued that, given events in Iraq, it is folly to contemplate at this moment another occupation or invasion and some argue for a set of airstrikes to pulverise the Iranian system and destroy any possible nuclear sites. Given that we don't actually know where the sites are, it would probably be a set of airstrikes which would take in say one or two hundred possible sites. Its worth in this context assessing what the impact on a country is of vast bombing raids- particularly when that country sits right beside an area of global instability.

Thankfully we have such a historical example- in Cambodia. During the early 1970s the United States dropped vast ammounts of bombs upon Cambodia in pursuit of Vietcong bases in the Jungle there. The consequences were profound for Cambodian society- with Khmer Rouge officers explaining to journalists that their success was built upon the bombing raids. There can be no guarentee obviously that Iran would end up like Cambodia- but its worth pondering what the consequences might be. It might for example strengthen conservative elements within Iran or even reactionary elements, that might make us look back with nostalgia to the days of liberal Ahmenidijad. The effects of such bombing raids on Iran need to be part of any calculation before you made them- at the moment such extensive bombing is viewed almost surgically, in truth unless it is very limited (and given what we don't know about the nuclear sites I don't think it could be) it would have an impact and that might rebound to the disadvantage of ordinary Iranians.

Its something worth keeping in mind at least as discussions are held throughout the world about the prospect of an Iranian-American war. Air strikes are not neccessarily a costless way through the struggle and shouldn't be viewed as such.

3 comments:

Vino S said...

Yes, I agree with your sentiments/concerns. A US or NATO attack on Iran would cause people to 'rally around the flag'. Iran is just like any society - if it feels it is under external attack, then they will tend to rally behind their leadership. That is the last thing I would want to see. It would weaken the position of liberal and socialist forces in the country.

Gracchi said...

Exactly.

We often think of airstrikes as painless- they aren't adn we shouldn't think of them that way.

dreadnought said...

An attack on Iran will be exploited by the regime to mobilize their population, and will be problematic to say the least. The West’s intrinsic vulnerabilities, and fear of the consequences of any attack is why the regime is as bold as it is. A state sponsor of terrorism such as Iran has a worldwide reach and will no doubt also threaten the middle east oilfields, gulf shipping and Israel. But what is the alternative? A nuclear armed Iran? Sanctions alone will not stop them from pressing on with their nuclear program. As Sarkozy said, it will be catastrophic to bomb Iran, but catastrophic if Iran has the bomb. A true dilemma. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decisions on what to do next.