Bush's Farewell to the Nation: Iran War?
(The following is excerpted from a recent 'solemn column' by Patrick Buchanan).
Of the Axis-of-Evil nations named in his State of the Union in 2002, President Bush has often said, "The United States will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
He failed with North Korea. Will he accept failure in Iran, though there is no hard evidence Iran has an active nuclear weapons program?
Yet Israel is even today pushing Bush into a pre-emptive war wit h a naked threat to attack Iran itself should Bush refuse the cup.
In April, Israel held a five-day civil defense drill. In June, Israel sent 100 F-15s and F-16s, with refueling tankers and helicopters to pick up downed pilots, toward Greece in a simulated attack, a dress rehearsal for war. The planes flew 1,400 kilometers, the distance to Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
Ehud Olmert came home from a June meeting with Bush to tell Israelis: "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Ir anian threat. ... I left with a lot less question marks regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness. ...
If Bush is discussing war on Iran with Ehud Olmert, why is he not discussing it with Congress or the nation?
Is Israel bluffing -- or planning to attack Iran if America balks?
Previous air strikes on the PLO command in Tunis, on the Osirak reactor in Iraq and on the presumed nuclear reactor site in Syria last September give Israel a high degree of credibility.
Still, attacking Iran would be no piece of cake.
Israel lacks the stealth and cruise-missile capacity to degrade Iran's air defenses systematically and no longer has the element of surprise. Israeli planes and pilots would likely be lost.
Israel also lacks the ability to stay over the target or conduct follow-up strikes. The U.S. Air Force bombed Iraq for five weeks with hundreds of daily runs in 1991 be fore Gen. Schwarzkopf moved .
Moreover, if Iran has achieved the capacity to enrich uranium, she has surely moved centrifuges to parts of the country that Israel cannot reach -- and can probably replicate anything lost.
Israel would also have to over-fly Turkey, or Syria and U.S.-occupied Iraq, or Saudi Arabia to reach Natanz. Turks, Syrians and Saudis would deny Israel permission and might resist. For the U.S. military to let Israel over-fly Iraq would make us an accomplice. How would that sit with the Europeans who are supporting our sanctions on Iran and want the nuclear issue settled diplomatically?
And who can predict with certitude how Iran would respond?
Would Iran attack Israel with rockets, inviting retaliation with Jericho and cruise missiles from Israeli submarines? Would she close the Gulf with suicide-boat attacks on tankers and U.S. warships?
With oil at $135 a barrel, Israeli air strikes on Iran would seem to ensure a 2,000-poin t drop in the Dow and a wo r ld recession.
What would Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria do? All three are now in indirect negotiations with Israel. U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq could be made by Iran to pay a high price in blood that could force the United States to initiate its own air war in retaliation, and to finish a war Israel had begun. But a U.S. war on Iran is not a decision Bush can outsource to Ehud Olmert.