By Der Tagesspiegel
[This article published in: Der Tagesspiegel, 12/28/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/.]
Many signs now indicate that the latency phase of theoretically weighing military strikes to disarm Iran is over. For several months, the US according to European security circles has worked out very concrete military options against Iran. In the past months, high-ranking representatives of the pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) visited the neighboring states of Iran whose cooperation in the emergency would be necessary or at least useful. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and above all Turkey are precedent goals of the American emissaries.
An invasion, conquest and settlement as in the case of Iraq are not included in the catalogue of options to be examined on their feasibility according to information of “Tagesspiegel.” As desirable as a “regime change” would be from Washington’s view, t his is not a goal that could be attained militarily. Such plans are regarded as completely unrealistic. Too many Iranians, too many mountains, too many potential guerilla-fighters and too many possible entanglements outside Iran, says Kenneth M. Pollack, a leading American Iran expert who during the Clinton years was responsible for the Gulf region in the National Security Council. This is the consensus of the strategic establishment in Washington.
Rumor has it that the Americans are presently giving a thorough review to disarming operations as to whether the Iranian potential of mass destruction could be destroyed if the worst comes to the worst through missile- and air-attacks. The concrete goals must be defined here as well as the corresponding militarily effective means. Coordination with American allies as operation bases against Iran would be necessary.
Iran is militarily weak apart from the possible nuclear future. While the United States is skeptical concerning the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the dispute around the armament of Iran with weapons of mass destruction, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a military operation is difficult. If the worst comes to the worst, a military operation will be unavoidable since Israel will not accept a nuclear armament of the Mullahs. In case of doubt, the US and not Israel should do the dirty work, it is said. Even a narrowly demarcated air operation would involve enormous trickery, deceit and imponderability. First of all, there are the political incalculabilities. Relations to the Islamic world would become even more precarious. Latent crises in states that are still friendly like Saudi Arabia could erupt in an open disaster. People in Washington are not honest about the effect of a military action in Iran on Islamic-fundamentalist terrorism.
The military side itself is everything but transparent. The targets that are considered – nuclear research centers and nuclear reactors, production sites for missiles and so forth – are not visible. Rather they are well-protected installations that can hardly be attacked with conventional weapons.