Five Reasons Not to Attack Iran (Page 2 of 2)

Unlike Iraq, Iran’s regular Army and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps won’t lay down their arms at the first sight of U.S. ground troops. They, more than any other element of the regime, watched Afghanistan and Iraq for lessons on how to defeat the Americans.

Second, the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS), Iran’s espionage service, is among the most competent in the world. Over the past thirty years, MOIS agents have successfully hunted down and assassinated dissidents, former officials of the Shah's government, and real or perceived threats to the regime. MOIS is still capable of carrying out assassinations, espionage, and other kinetic attacks against government and civilian targets. The spy service is also likely to have covert agents in the United States.

While information is incomplete, there’s reason to believe that Manssor Arbabsiar, the Iranian who allegedly attempted to hire the Zeta drug cartel to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on American soil, was tied to MOIS. While the effort failed, it demonstrates the lengths to which MOIS will likely go.

MOIS has also been known to target Iranian expatriates, imprisoning their family members and causing bodily harm. A small number of the 1-1.5 million Iranian-Americans may very well become targets of such tactics.

Third, Iranian-backed Hezbollah is more capable of conducting terrorist attacks than al-Qaeda ever was. With three decades of experience fighting the Israelis in Lebanon and northern Israel, suspected ties to Latin American drug cartels, and a global network, Hezbollah is an international network that is able to conduct large-scale attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

In fact, Hezbollah cells are believed to be active in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere, making the organization more than a hypothetical threat. With the U.S. Marine Barracks bombing (Beirut,1983), Argentine Israelite Mutual Association bombing (Buenos Aires,1994), Khobar Towers bombing (Saudi Arabia,1996), and many other attacks under their belts, Hezbollah has a history of global terrorism. Should the U.S. military attack Iran, Hezbollah is likely to launch a series of terrorist counter-attacks that will not be as readily thwarted as those of al-Qaeda.

Fourth, Iran’s cyber capabilities are impressive and growing. An attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is likely to prompt a sustained cyber-attack unlike any we have seen. It will likely target critical data in the public and private sector and seek to wreak havoc, shut down systems, and destroy data.

Fifth, after a decade of intense combat operations, the United States military deserves a rest from war. Afghanistan and Iraq have taken their toll on America's fighting men and women, their families, and the equipment they rely on. A “limited attack” on Iran will likely escalate into a wider war, making it difficult for the military to rest and refit.

When considering whether to use military force against Iran it’s important to understand that there is an asymmetry of interests at stake. The Iranian regime sees itself as fighting for its very survival. The stakes are considerably lower for the United States.

Even a focused strike against Iran's nuclear facilities will elicit a response well in excess of the United States' “limited” objectives. While a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and troop reductions in Afghanistan – Iran’s western and northern neighbors – may cause the Iranian leadership to slow the development of a “Shi’a bomb,” a strategic attack by the United States will only strengthen their resolve and solidify the regime’s worst fears.

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bellicose statements make good political theatre, there is rarely much behind them. To suggest that Ahmadinejad is all bark and no bite is not far from the truth. The fact is that the Iranian regime is more risk averse than many give it credit for. Regime survival is of paramount concern and greatly explains why the regime acts as it does. Pushing the regime to the edge may turn empty threats into reality and will certainly undermine any effort by President Barack Obama to save defense dollars.

In the end, Iran may prove less capable than I’ve described, and a military conflict with Iran may be less costly in blood and treasure than suspected. However, weighing all options before resorting to military conflict is critical to reaching the best solution.

For the United States, determining what a nuclear weapons-free Iran is worth is critical. Had the American people understood the costs of Iraq before the war began, it’s unlikely they would have given their consent. Given the current economic woes of the country, that cannot happen again.              

Dr. Adam B. Lowther is a member of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force's Air University. The views expressed are those of the author.

Comments
94
Roclan
August 25, 2013 at 23:10

Iran and nuclear weapons… anyone using this as an excuse to attack Iran is a lame brainwashed worth-nothing maggot. Keep your terrorists home and stop murdering in the name of WMD-lies!!!

April 30, 2013 at 18:23

Perhaps the article over estimates Iran’s capabilities. For one thing they were in a stalemate with Saddam’s Iraqi army for about 8 years. The US army did what Iran could not do and smashed the Iraqi military in 72 hours during the gulf war. Iran’s navy is more like a coast guard. And finally our troops (US) are better equiped, better trained far better logistics and are highly experienced and battle hardened after a decade of continous warfare.

Jean
November 30, 2013 at 22:00

And it shouldn’t be underestimated by truncated hence inappropriate comparisons either. The Iranian military actually destroyed much of the Iraqi army in less than 1 year after the war started and pushed them back to their border soon after taking the strategic city of Khorramshahr back, reverting the siege in the process. Notably during Operation Morvarid after which 90% of the Iraqi navy was sunk, or Kaman 99 that materialized 24 hours after the initial Iraqi assault, and resulted in a 55% reduction in the IrAF efficiency for a year to come. If it wasn’t for the complicity of almost every neighoring arab state sheltering its airforce, it would have been a remake of the ’67 debacle. Also, read about the brilliant and renowned IRIAF strike on Saddam’s remote H3 bomber base. in fact, It was only after the war dragged on because of Khomeini’s stubbornness that the embargo imposed by the same countries arming Saddam to the teeth started to have its toll on Iranian forces.

1991 Iraq absolutely hadn’t recovered from 8 years of deadly fight with Iran and was crippled by an abysmal war debt (which originally influenced the dictator into attacking Kuwait). A coalition of the world’s most powerful militaries PLUS a massive Pan-Arabic contingent (notably Egyptian, with tens of thousands of troops directly engaged) contributed to the rapid fall of Iraq’s poorly led, trained and motivated conscripts.

Shannon
April 11, 2013 at 00:53

Your credibility is hurt by your claim that Hezbullah is responsible for "the U.S. Marine Barracks bombing (Beirut,1983), Argentine Israelite Mutual Association bombing (Buenos Aires,1994), Khobar Towers bombing (Saudi Arabia,1996)".  The marine barracks bombing occurred before the founding of Hezb — maybe some of those responsible went on to join Hezb, but that's only speculation.  Khobar Towers is generally believed to have been done by an early incarnation of Al Qaeda, not Hezb.  Although Saudi Arabia blamed Iran, in those days they went to great lengths to deny they had home-grown terrorism.  And there's no smoking gun to prove the AIMA bombing was by Hezb.  In fact, Argentine law authorities are pursuing the theory that it was Iran, although even that is fairly weak.

Hence your claim that "Hezbollah has a history of global terrorism" is weak, weak, weak.

major lowen gil marquez, phil army
August 10, 2012 at 20:35

The five reasons not to attack Iran is not a hard reason if Iran would choose to continue to be a nuclear warhead possession, if the Iran military hardware was came from USSR and China, they can be defeated even without using Intellectual Quotient… Chinese communist were expert in fake and low quality products with that culture they have it is a disaster in the long term…if the Chinese communist continue to intrude the Scarborough shoal in the Western Philippine which is an island of the Philippine province… in the long run Chinese communist will meet its self destruction..

major lowen gil marquez, phil army
August 10, 2012 at 20:31

The five reasons not to attack Iran is not a hard reason if Iran would choose to continue to be a nuclear warhead possession, if the Iran military hardware was came from USSR and China, they can be defeated even without using Intellectual Quotient… Ch

John
February 16, 2012 at 02:00

Both comments easy to say from a computer.

However both incredibly myopic. Irans leaders cannot possess a nuclear weapon..PERIOD. suitcase nukes alone are reason to hold no other opinion than destroying their capability.

These nutjobs want apocalypse. Ascribing anything logical to people who think they have a destiny to go down in flames is ludicrous. A surgical strike is the key here. People imagining an all out war dont understand the situation. You set this evil regime back and keep setting them back until they’re out.

ScrambleScramble
January 25, 2012 at 06:40

What is rather disconcerting is that many of the people leaving comments behind here are completely missing the point of the article. They are also trumpeting their own precious, uneducated and uninformed opinions as the Godly truth, as opposed to the opinions of a man who has spent countless hours actually studying the issue. The rest of you watch “The O’Reilly Factor” and take the word of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as gospel.

BenMo
January 19, 2012 at 11:36

Well as long as our currency is saved, what’s a couple ten’s of thousands of innocent lives eh?

BpSitRep
January 18, 2012 at 12:32

Very credible article with sound reasoning. But to allow Iran and Hezbollah to continue to go unchecked, will in the end, bring only more damage to the World overall. This is like having two bullies run over an entire neighborhood as the men do nothing. A few very big bombs, at the right places, will take care of most of the fighting forces of Iran. The U.S. knows that any long protracted conventional conflict with Iran will be too costly, so if any fight comes, technology will lead the way.

Doug J
January 16, 2012 at 03:13

A war with Iran is a requirement. The US has printed so much money that it cannot control inflation through ordinary means. An extraordinary means is required. If the price of oil triples then inflation is contained as the petrodollar is in much higher demand.

If the Iranians were able to produce a nuclear device, the use of it would cause the destruction of the whole country in the form of western nuclear retaliation. This is a stupid way to commit sovereign suicide.

The strait will be closed, prices will triple, the initial attack will fail and a much larger coalition force will be amassed. Iran will be destroyed, the US dollar will be saved.

Arthur Askey
January 15, 2012 at 09:49

“Iran was defeated by Iraq in 10 years fight in eighties.”

Wrong!

wxman
January 15, 2012 at 09:41

Very true in all regards. Other than doing Israels wishes to break up and destabilize the Middle East, we have no good reason to attack them, other than hyped up lies about them pursuing nukes. All 27 alphabet agencies of the US concluded, for the second time, that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons and the inspectors that are routinely inspecting their plants concur: no missing fissiles, no enrichment beyond 20% for medical uses (you need over 90% pure for nukes) and so on. We were lied to about Iraq and Lybia, can’t you see we are being lied to again by corporate media talking heads? BOTH Russia and China have warned us at least twice recently that any attack on Iran will be considered an attack on them. Don’t let the neocon think-tank dual citizens who lied us into the recent wars, lie us into another, just to cause more war-profiteering and misery.

Iran has purchased the best torpedoes and anti ship missiles in the world from Russia recently, weapons good enough to be hard to defend against by our forces. Some of their own missiles would be hard to stop. Iran has not invaded any country for 300 years. By the way, another coinky-dink: there used to be seven nations without a Rothschild controlled central bank; Iraq and Libya were on that list, (and now are not) and so is Iran. Food for thought.

wxman
January 15, 2012 at 09:15

Iran has purchased the best torpedoes and anti ship missiles in the world from Russia recently, weapons good enough to be hard to defend against by our forces. Some of their own missiles would be hard to stop. Iran has not invaded any country for 300 years. Other than doing Israels wishes to break up and destabilize the Middle East, we have no good reason to attack them, other than hyped up lies about them pursuing nukes. All 27 alphabet agencies of the US concluded, for the second time, that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons and the inspectors that are routinely inspecting their plants concur: no missing fissiles, no enrichment beyond 20% for medical uses (you need over 90% pure for nukes) and so on. We were lied to about Iraq and Lybia, can’t you see we are being lied to again by corporate media talking heads? BOTH Russia and China have warned us at least twice recently that any attack on Iran will be considered an attack on them. Don’t let the neocon think-tank dual citizens who lied us into the recent wars, lie us into another, just to cause more war-profiteering and misery. By the way, another coinky-dink: there used to be seven nations without a Rothschild controlled central bank; Iraq and Libya were on that list, (and now are not) and so is Iran. Food for thought.

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