During the 67 years of the nuclear age, the United States has remained the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons in warfare. Since their use in 1945, nuclear weapons have remained the ultimate deterrent. The idea that Iranians would view such weapons in any other way is nothing more than a crude piece of Zionist propaganda designed to terrify anyone gullible enough to believe it. On the other hand, the risks involved in going to war to preempt what in many ways is an imaginary threat, are very real. Eric Margolis spells out some of the consequences.
Destroying Iran’s many reactors and processing facilities could release large amounts of radiation and create radioactive dust storms. Winds would carry this toxic miasma over Afghanistan and its large U.S. military garrison. Dangerous radiation would also extend to Pakistan, western India, Iraq, Kuwait and to the Gulf, where large numbers of U.S. military personnel are based. Equally ominous, radioactive dust could blanket oil fields in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. High-altitude winds would spread radioactivity around the globe, as occurred at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, but at a factor of twenty times or more.
Israeli attacks by air and commando units could damage or delay development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but the Jewish state lacks the power to permanently destroy it. Israel also fears some of its pilots will be captured and put on show trial. So Israel is straining every sinew to get Washington to do the job. The Pentagon has estimated it will need to strike at least 3,200 targets in Iran, including nuclear facilities, air and naval bases, military production plants, headquarters, communications hubs, missile bases, Gulf ports, and that reliable catchall, “command-and-control facilities.” And this is just in the first wave of strikes.
Air and missile strikes as well as special forces raids would have to continue for weeks, perhaps months. Air wars generate their own “mission creep” as new targets are discovered or old ones moved around. Power stations and high voltage lines, civilian airports, truck plants, radio and TV stations, intelligence headquarters — all will be added to the hit list.
During the first Iraq war, U.S. forces even destroyed many of Iraq’s sewage-treatment and water-purification plants, leading to epidemics of water-borne diseases. Iran could expect the same punitive treatment.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a war hero and highly decorated officer of Iran’s special forces during the Iran-Iraq War. He was credited with many successful missions deep behind Iraqi lines. Iran’s tough special forces will launch ground attacks on U.S. units and bases in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kuwait and down the Gulf to Oman. Such raids may force the United States to send Marines, then regular ground troops into Iran to forestall attacks.