Arthur Herman: We’re Already at War with Iran

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Arthur Herman grew up in Wisconsin and received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota in 1978. He went on to earn his Masters and Ph.D. with the Johns Hopkins University History Department. He taught at several universities in the Washington DC area, including Georgetown and George Mason University, before becoming Coordinator of the Western Heritage Program for the Smithsonian’s Campus on the Mall from 2000 to 2005.]

The multitude of proposals regarding what to do about Iran and its nuclear ambitions fall into two main groups. The first group, which grows daily, sees some sort of military option as inevitably necessary. The other group still insists that the United States going to war with Iran would be a major mistake. Its proponents hold out for some more moderate solution involving either negotiations with the mullahs in Tehran or international sanctions, or both.

Unfortunately, this second group is out of touch with events. The truth is: we are already at war with Iran, although until now it has been a one-sided conflict, with Iranians doing the killing and Americans doing the dying. Since 2004 Iran’s proxies in Iraq, including Muqtada Al Sadr’s Madhi militia, have been routinely attacking American soldiers in Baghdad and elsewhere. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ clandestine Quds Force has been supplying both Shia and Sunni insurgents with increasingly sophisticated Improvised Explosive Devices or IED’s that have killed or maimed thousands of American soldiers in Iraq.

In February 2007 forensic evidence directly linked the deaths of at least 170 American soldiers to Iran-manufactured or supplied weapons. That number continues to climb as Iran’s bankroll of terrorist operations in Iraq has grown to $3 million a month. In July this year, Senator Joseph Lieberman told Face the Nation that Iran is operating three training camps near Tehran giving mortar, rocket propelled grenade, and IED instruction to Iraqi recruits sixty at a time, “training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.” Just this week General David Petraeus blasted Iran as one of the main contributors to the reign of death taking place in Iraq and accusing Iran’s own ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi (above), of being a Quds Force terrorist.

So there should be no mis-perception of whom is using the “military option” against whom. The Americans killed by Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan by an Iran-funded Taliban resurgence, need to be added to the list of 240 Marines who died in the Beirut barracks bombs in October 1983, and to the victims of the Kobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 17 American air force personnel and wounded 372. Both attacks were planned and executed by Iran and its overseas agents, including Hezbollah.

Nor is it just the United States in the line of fire. Moments after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing, another bomb killed sixty in a similar French compound.

Iranian agents planned and carried out bombings of Jewish centers in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 that killed 29 and 85 people respectively. Even the fiercest opponents of taking military action have to take note of Iran’s arming of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon for attacks against Israel; its encouragement and financial support for Hamas (left) as it wages a civil war against the Palestinian Authority; and Iran’s supplying of Syria with money and missiles in order to dominate Lebanon and thwart democratic forces there–just as Iran is the leading enemy of democratic forces in Iraq.

In short, Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power forms part of a larger pattern of global terrorism and murder, violation of international law, and building Iran’s power by destabilizing its neighbors, even as that nuclear ambition has raised the stakes involved. And it is no longer the Bush administration, or wild-eyed neoconservatives, who raise the alarm. Even one of the fiercest critics of Bush’s Iran policy, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (right), admits that a conventional war on Iran can no longer be ruled out. Last month France’s president Sarkozy told the United Nations that a nuclear-armed Iran is “an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world.” Sarkozy has gone on record as supporting bombing Iran’s nuclear development sites as a last resort, rather than let the most radical theocratic regime in the Middle East acquire the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

The issue therefore ceases to be whether the United States fights a war with Iran – the Iranians have already started that conflict– but how the United States best brings that conflict to a safe and decisive resolution. No one wants military action that would cause great loss of life or trigger a larger regional conflict–or forces Iran’s key supporters, Russia and China, into the arena. For that reason, some argue that the best solution is to encourage regime change within Iran itself, even though the world has been waiting for Iran’s democratic and pro-Western forces to make their stand against a deeply corrupt and unpopular regime for more than a decade, in vain.

Others like Senator John McCain argue that the time to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites may be now, ignoring the fact that such an attack by itself can only retard, not halt, the regime’s relentless search for regional hegemony and would trigger a public-relations backlash with Iranian officials displaying the inevitable “collateral damage” on CNN, Al Jazeera, and other international media outlets. This option allow leaves the Tehran regime in place and free to plan retaliation through its terror networks across the Middle East and around the world.

Is there a military option against Iran that goes beyond bombing but does not require a Iraq-style invasion and occupation – in other words that avoids another “quagmire” in the Middle East? In fact, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, a realistic war scenario with Iran would involve an extensive air and naval campaign without a single American soldier having to set foot on Iranian soil:

1. The first step would be a United States naval blockade of the Straits of Hormuz backed by anti-missile Aegis class cruisers and destroyers, together with a guarantee of free passage for all non-Iranian oil shipping (thus reassuring the world that energy supplies will continue to flow).

2. At the same time, American Stealth fighters and bombers would target Iran’s air defense and anti-ship missile sites scattered around the Gulf, followed by what military analysts call an “Effects Based Operation,” as Air Force and Navy warplanes took out Iran’s extremely vulnerable military and economic infrastructure, including its electrical grid, transportation links, gasoline refineries, port facilities, as well as suspected nuclear sites.

3. Finally, American Special Ops and airborne forces would seize Iran’s main oil pumping station at Kargh Island and capture or neutralize its offshore oil facilities.

Far fetched?

Although the American public never noticed, the United States Navy managed to accomplish much the same thing during the so-called Tanker War in 1987-8, when Iran tried to widen its war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by attacking foreign oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Our navy managed both to destroy the Iranian navy and protect shipping through the Hormuz Straits in order to keep the world economy stable, while Navy Seal teams blew up and neutralized key Iranian oil platforms in the Gulf....

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30.OCTOBER.2007 2am or so, PDT

TO: Mr.Arthur Herman, and his friends
Re: We're Already at War with Iran

What could possibly be more scary and truly threatening to the well-being of the civilized world everywhere, (without the slightest degree of hyperbole), than the prospect of Dick Cheney having his war-profiteering and sociopathic hands on nuclear-tipped bunker buster bombs, conjoined with his having obtained the "Green Light" from his "poodle-puppet" Georgie Bush, and engaged in a full flight forward in initiating yet another Self-serving war, with a nuclear pre-emptive attack against the sovereign nation of IRAN.

This war against Iran is NOT in the least-- INEVITABLE-- rather is it being promoted, through PROPAGANDA, of which your unworthy article is, regretably, representative.
And it is being promoted by YOUR most loathsome propaganda--FOR the benefit of the financial OLIGARCHY-the really BIG MONEY--- from the U.S., Britain, and parts of Europe. We know you.

"Armageddon" uber alles....
"Das Krieg Macht Frei" .... NOT !

What an ironic and depraved twist, by the Right Wing Israelis and the Neo-Cons, and ultimately by the financial Oligarchs, on the Holocaust and all the killing of the many millions of Jews, among whom were some of my distant relatives.

So are we now required to believe that it is JUSTIFIED to KILL MILLIONS of IRANIANs, or any other peoples, using nuclear bombs, since at some future time, these same, or other Iranians MIGHT decide to attack Israel ??? Or the U.S.A. ???

Pre-emptive Holocaust by AMERICAN and Israeli Forces ? This is O.K. now ?

Or are the U.S. American forces, Israelis, and British, led by Dick Cheney, Bush, and their Neo-Con allies, just allowed, in the "Name" of" the unspeakable Holocaust against the Jews, to commit EQUIVALENT ethnic hate crimes against the Persian and Muslim Iranians, and against the Palestinians, Syrians and other Muslims. ?

Is America falling back into the ancient barbaric law: "an EYE for an EYE, and a TOOTH for a TOOTH" ?

Can we continue to be a Constitutional Democratic Republic if we do this ? Of course not.
SO that would explain why Cheney keeps attacking the fundamentals of the Constitution.... ?

Most Germans, most Jews, and most human beings LEARNED THE LESSON.
BUT, somehow, you and your "friends" DID NOT LEARN THE LESSON....

PLEASE WAKE UP and re-JOIN the human race. I AM NOT KIDDING.

Mr. Herman, your comments are hardcore partyline views shared by Dick Cheney, the Neo-Cons, PNAC members, and the British financial oligarchy, and of course, the Likud Party and the small political parties even more right wing, in Israel.
Unfortunately for everyone else in the world-- -- the LAST thing that Dick Cheney, the Neo-Cons, and the Israeli Right Wing wants to have happen, now, or anytime soon, in the MIDDLE EAST, is for there to be genuine PEACE.

Would to God that the Israeli Left Wing would come back to power in the immediate future....
Also, now we know why Yitzhak Rabin was murdered--- by the Right Wing fanatics.

Who do you want for Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Herman ? Would it be wrong of me in supposing that
you favor, above all others, that worst of Israeli politicians, the dishonorable Benyamin Bibi Netanyahu?

But 'Good luck' in fomenting your evil, Earth-destroying pre-emptive war against IRAN, and by intentional consequence-- against China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Japan, the Koreas, and all mankind.
We know and understand that George W's reference to World War 3, while incompetently expressed, did in fact state the desired and intended consequences of his "Superiors"..... Again, NOT kidding.

Because we intend to defeat you.
We do not believe in your great strength, your great money, and least of all in your Great Game.
We know who you are and what evil lurks in your darkened hearts.

We, the People, do not dismiss the strength of your Intent... but nonetheless, we do not fear you either.....

The American People, with our morally appropriate belief in the sacred reality and significance of each person, each individual human being-- coupled with our superior form of Constitutional government, flawed though it is, fully INTEND and WILL DEFEAT your evil and malevolent "GREAT GAME".

We intend to prevent the goal of your abject selfishness, wicked lies, and utter Madness...

There are those whose Well of dreams is poisoned early in life...and these poisoned dreams later develop into great nodes of ignorant energy, which impel these poisoned drinkers to grasp for the absurdity of wielding "power" over others, against their will, and to their detriment.
This is the spiritual failure of those who, like our Wicked Tyrant, Dick Cheney, seek for their fulfillment
in odious machinations and larcenous deeds committed against innocent persons.

The poison begins to steal their humanity, and after a certain period, it is virtually irreversible.
It is like going over to the dark side, freely; but then you cannot get back. That is Cheney.

Meanwhile, you and your ilk, Mr. Herman, whether continuing in great wealth or otherwise, find yourselves ensnared and captured by your own unimaginative and spurious beliefs in your own superiority to other human beings-- seeing yourselves as above other people, and justifiably deserving of privilege and high station-- actually spend your time acting out your lives, in a different form of poverty, indulging yourselves in low fantasies of ignorant aggrandizement and plunder-- of land, and goods, and peoples' destinies.

GUERNICA 2 ? How About IRAN ?

preemptive Holocaust, by Israel and U.S. ?

Sounds like your kind of party, Arthur.........

Food for thought...., eh, Arthur ?

Yours truly,

Richard Battersea

Arnold Shcherban - 10/29/2007

This is another aria from the old
mistuned opera: the enemies are attacking us or about to attack us... while in reality we have been
attacking them for decades (causing
major human and economic disasters).

Following Mr. Herman's logic the Soviet Union should have attacked
Pakistan, that provided its territory for Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist camps (and their US coaches) the habitants of which were killing thousands of Soviet troops.
At least, the Soviets has a formal (and real) excuse for the Afghan invasion, since they had been asked to bring their troops in by the Kabul's government to protect it from the terrorist guerillas within and coming from abroad many times (and rejected) before decided to do so.
The USA is the one who did "invade",
in the main meaning of the term "agression", Afghanistan and Iraq to impose its rule (through the subservient governments) on
those sovereign countries - the UN members - the countries which never
agress against the USA.

Iran, in its turn, has been trembling with fear for years, facing the overwhelming power of the imperialistic bully. It is the only reason it did not interfere, as any neigboring and relative to the neighbor's majority country would have done to help when so much was and still is at stake for it in the region.
The truth about Shiite's death squads
will be revealed to the wide public some day. It is the same truth as it
is with the Honduran death squads, those that murdered dozens of thousands of civilians.
We know now who sponsored, trained and armed them, don't we?

Louis N Proyect - 10/29/2007

So Arthur Herman asks at the end of his article.

Yes, it is.