According to Stratfor, a routine rotation of American aircraft carriers could place three carrier strike groups in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf; a fourth carrier strike group in Japan is within a week’s sailing distance.
This suspicious-looking placement of about thirty-six percent of America’s carriers coincides with a letter the United States sent Tehran last week. The letter purportedly warned Iran that any attempt to shut down the Strait of Hormuz would constitute a red line for the United States.
Despite this official explanation, there is a chance the letter conveyed a more deliberate and pointed message to the Iranians that may have read something like this:
“America’s only issue with Iran is its nuclear weapons program. If Iran does not cease and desist from pursing the development of nuclear weapons, the United States will deny it from acquiring this capability. If, in the process of disrupting Iran’s uranium enrichment pathway, Iran retaliates against the United States and its interests, it should be a proportionate response. If Iran decides to act disproportionately, it will face the full might and fury of the United States military.”
Another interesting data point is the sudden delay of a “massive joint anti-missile exercise” between the United States and Israel. American and Israeli officials confirmed off the record the “Iran factored into the decision.” However, neither country would specify how exactly Iran played into the decision. Instead, both countries noted that “the overriding factor had to do with preparedness for the exercise and Israeli budgetary concerns.” Lastly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also scheduled to meet with senior Israeli officials next week.
While the probability of an imminent attack on Iran is likely low, one might view all of these signals as a prelude to a precision airstrike on Iran’s nuclear weapons program over the next several months. Three carriers in the region with a fourth only a week away, are red flags that the United States may be gearing up for possible military action.
Aircraft carriers typically remain at sea for between six and nine months. It seems that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could end some time during that period via negotiation or violence. Unfortunately, I fear it will be the latter rather than the former.
I sure hope so! It does not really help to keep delaying this until it’s too late. Because Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to 20% or more in underground facilities deeply buried in and around Qom (a city someways south of Tehran, the capital). That’s pretty alarming, since it is a development that builds on what the IAEA report already put out recently.
It’s really hard to gauge what’s going on diplomatically behind the scenes. I have a theory that Israel has some plans on how/when to respond to Iran and that this may be ‘pushing’ or influencing US response to Iran — as Israel is much more concerned about Iran’s nukes than Obama is.
I think it either happens this year or never.
By the way I co-authored an article with Aymenn on Iran for AS, if you are interested: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/16/the-dead-man-and-his-long-shad
Congratulations! This is fantastic!
At some point I would love to get your advice on how you pitched this article to the American Spectator. I’ve been meaning to publish something in a magazine with wider distribution, I have just gotten bogged down generating content here.
I agree with Sean – this is a very good piece indeed. Puts things nicely into perspective.
We will never work together ipso facto so we have to do the best for our nation and all free peoples. That includes attacking other countries it seems.
What I wonder what would we be saying if the position was the other way around and it was Iran denying us the right to have nuclear weapons? I ask this as it seems to me the assassination and disruption of nuclear scientists by US and Israeli provided agenda would not be tolerated the other way around – or would it? This so reminds me of the start of the First World War when all hell broke lose over the assignation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by the Serbian Black Hand terrorists in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. Of course there had been minor instances leading up to the flash point, same as in the US Iran conflict. What do you think Sean the outcome of an attack on Iran would be? How would you expect the US to react under similar circumstances?
“What I wonder what would we be saying if the position was the other way around and it was Iran denying us the right to have nuclear weapons? I ask this as it seems to me the assassination and disruption of nuclear scientists by US and Israeli provided agenda would not be tolerated the other way around – or would it?”
If Iran tried to deny us this right, we similarly would develop them anyway, much like the Iranians are today. The Iranians actually plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador in a crowded Washington restaurant populated by Senators and other national politicians. Fortunately, the FBI disrupted the plot before it happened. So, essence, the Iranians have been up to similar mischief. They just haven’t been as successful. Furthermore, they can not prove the United States or the Israelis are behind these assassinations. For all we know, they could be due to internal dissidents. It’s doubtful, but possible.
“What do you think Sean the outcome of an attack on Iran would be?”
It would be similar to our decade long no fly zone in Iraq, only more intense at the beginning. We would target Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities by bombing them. Every time Iran tried to reconstitute them, we would bomb again. The severity of the conflict would be of Iran’s choosing. If they responded via attacks on US allies in the region, that would likely be considered by the US a proportional response. If, however, they conducted terrorist attacks in the United States, the mission would likely change from denying Iran nuclear capability to regime change via a massive and comprehensive bombing campaign targeting every military and leadership asset the Iranians have.
“How would you expect the US to react under similar circumstances?”
I would expect the US to respond in the same way the Iranians are.
If the argument is that there is a symmetry between the US/Israel/West side and the Iran side then that would be where I would dispute it. For one thing, Iran does not have international law on its side. Second, Iran threatened the West and Israel in particular with annihilation, while Israel/West did not make threats to wipe Iran off the map. There are other such differences. These, coupled with Iran’s intransigence to IAEA calls to stop nuclear enrichment, make for quite an asymmetric, and dangerous, situation — one which responsible nations should and must act upon.
I agree in principle – as long as International Law is fair minded and not skewed towards one side. International Law did not stop other countries from committing genocide or abusing human rights and or working towards nuclear weapon deployment; nor was there Western outcry against such actions. The history of the West’s coercion of resources from countries in the Middle East has always been a point of contention between those in power in the Middle East and those who want to control the resources in the Middle East.
Israel has always been a threat to Iran – how could it not be? The political and mainly religious nuances are the cognitive dividing points between Israel and Iran.
Yes indeed these are very dangerous times.
Israel did not threaten Iran with annihilation, while Iran made that threat to Israel in a number of different pronouncements.
Don’t forget that it was the West that helped many middle eastern nations find and develop the resources that they have. The latter needed the West’s technological and scientific know-how. So it only stands to reason that the one who helped, in some measure at least, become a sharing partner in that resource. The situation can and will be messy when political conflicts ensue, as probably so anywhere else.
International law is no guarantee to stopping bad events. It’s about a will of nations. If binding, they could act. If there is no wide enough agreement, they may not act to enforce a law. Probably not unlike how the police cannot stop crimes even though they’re job is to enforce the law and do their best to “stop” crime — without expecting guarantees of any kind. (That’s an analogy that only goes so far, however.)
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