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War games

Surgical operations
The possible United States' military attack on Iran



H. David Ramezani
February 8, 2006

This is just a preliminary draft on discussing some of the current crisis between the Islamic Republic and the United States. This is a work in progress and it is not a completed essay. The purpose of this write-up is to initiate a healthy discussion among our friends and colleagues trying to learn and educate each other about the unfolding events.

As the hostilities are escalating between the Islamic Republic and the United States people are wondering how to react or adjust to the new circumstances. This is mostly visible within the Iranian community. Everybody is trying to find out who is supporting which side and the rationale behind it. People are wondering what would be the right course of action. On a situation like this what one must do and how to react to the current relationship between the two sides?

I personally believe nobody in the world likes war. Even the military personnel who have committed their lives for this purpose do not like war. So wee must understand how a war gets started or how two nations or the public officials of two countries reach that state of hostilities and then decide that it is time go wage a war with a perceive enemy.

So how did we end up in this situation? Within the 27 years history of Islamic Republic, we have already had one devastating war which lasted for 8 years with Iraq and we are about to face with the second one now. So on average IR has spent about 30% of its time in the war and now they are going to start another one. The entire 27 years life history of IR has been spent on Cold War with United States and Israel. In addition to that for the past 27 years there has been a slow motion of Civil War in Iran. So there is some thing wrong with this picture.

The question is if the Iranian opposition was in a better position and was able to be a formidable force in the Iranian political landscape could this situation been prevented? Unfortunately the Iranian political opposition has been weak and very ineffective in its mission. (Mr. Jahangir Arshid will present this next week to us. This is a very important presentation.)

Some people try to present this situation in order to see who is in which side and then turn around and question your patriotism if they find you in the opposite side. This war should not be used in order to take sides. This is not a test of loyalty. In order for United States to attack Iran, it does not need our permission to do so. It is the only Superpower in the world and has all the means to conduct a full scale war against any country, if it is deemed to be a legitimate war and is considered a thread to the National Interest. So we need to understand what preventive actions we could have taken in order to not let things to get to this point.

If we would have projected the trajectory of Islamic Republic on the day it was born, we would have realized that at some point this situation would have surfaced in the trajectory path that Islamic Republic has taken. This was inevitable. It was a war in its making. We should have known that this was coming. It was only matter of time.

During the Cold War, since there were two Superpowers in the world, so any time one country was threatened, it would try to form an alliance with one of the Superpowers and try to hide behind it in order to stay safe. However that is no longer the case. Now the global bipolar politics is replaced by the unipolar international politics, so there is no place to hide any more, but to face the consequences of the war. The Globalization would not tolerate any obstacles on its path.

Through out history usually the root causes of the wars for the most part have been based on the control and domination over the available resources. Each country would try to gain control or maintain its domination on the limited resources. Some of the reasons for war have been territorial claims or border dispute or control over the natural resources such as water, irrigation or access to the mining of natural products.

The argument used by the proponents of the war usually has been to protect the National Interest of that country. I provide the definition and a brief description of National Interest here.

National Interest: The concept of the security and well-being of the state, used in making foreign policy. A national interest approach to foreign policy demands "realistic" handling of international problems, based on the use of power divorced from moral principles and values. Conflicts of national interest in the state system are resolved through diplomacy, international law, international institutions, or, ultimately, through war. Historically, national interest evolved as raison d' etat (reason of state), a doctrine developed in the sixteenth century by Niccolo Machiavelli, which holds that security and national advantage are paramount considerations in state action.

Significance: The concept of national interest is hazy and subjective in its application. Exponents of a realistic approach argue that it reduces utopian expectations, recognizes the existence of power politics, produces a steady and sober involvement in world affairs, and limits a state to attainable objectives. Opponents argue that the strongest foreign policy is one built on a firm moral base, and that reliance on unilateral policies of national interest fails to provide for reconciliation of international interests. The doctrine of national interest dictates that moral principles and commitments and agreements should be disregarded if they conflict with state policies or actions.

However the dispute between Islamic Republic and US is not based on territorial dispute like the one during the eight-year war of Iran and Iraq. In that war, because of the chaos in the Iranian military establishment and the lack of military experience of the Mullahs was the primary reason that Saddam Hussein seized the opportunity and renewed his claims on the Arabic speaking province of Khuzestan. Also the primary reason which Mullahs used to attack Iraq was to export the Islamic Revolution and help the Iraqi Shiite majority Moslems to gain control over the Iraqi political establishment and to install an Islamic government in Iraq which would be an ally to Islamic Republic.

The reason for the hostilities over the nuclear programs in Iran with the Western world in general and United States in particular is primarily as a result of lack of trust which exists between the two sides. The International community does not trust the leaders of the Fundamentalist Islam. The Free world is not convinced that the Fundamentalist Islam is ready to coexist with the rest of the world. The Fundamentalist Mullahs in Iran have not been able to gain confidence of the Western world. This has been one of the biggest challenges that Islamic Republic has faced ever since its inception. The United States Sate Department for the past few years out sourced the negotiation with IR to the three European countries of Germany, Great Britain and France. As a result it sat back and monitored the situation from distance. The end result was defiance and the birch of confidence on the part of Islamic Republic.

Because of the violent nature of Fundamentalist Islam and because of the lack of respect to the primary principle of Separation of Religion and Politics and also lack of tolerance toward non Moslems such as the Israelis the Western world is not prepared to allow the Islamic Republic to have Nuclear power facilities and Nuclear weapon programs. Islamism is using and unconventional form of war such as terrorism to pursue its own cause. This is counter productive to the Moslem world.

Islamism: A political ideology which is base on the religion of Islam. This Ideology has laid its foundation in the religion of Islam. It is a hybrid political system. It uses the Islamic Sharia laws which are pre determined sets of laws in nature and in turn refuses the formation of Legislative branch of the government in order to legislating the laws of land.

I am not very familiar with the Islamic Republic Constitution, so I don't know how they declare war in Iran. I understand the Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei is also the Commander in Chief in Iran. So he makes the decision on how and when to wage a war on whom. However in the United States there are laws on how to and when to wage a war. We need to understand how this system works. The better we understand it, the better we can prevent war. The law has empowered certain branches of the government to declare and conduct the war for what duration. I provide some of the definitions and the descriptions for the people who are responsible for war and also have the power to declare state of war between two countries.

Commander in Chief: The role of President, as provided in Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, as supreme commander of the military forces of the United States and of the state National Guard units when they are called into federal service. As commander in chief, the President exercises a vast array of "war powers." During periods of war or threat of war, he exercises both military and civilian powers related to defense.

Significance: Under his war powers, the President can deploy American forces anywhere in the world and, as has happened many times in American history, order them into action against a foreign foe without a declaration of war by Congress. American military interventions ˆ in Korea in 1950, in Indochina during the 1960s, and in the Dominican Republic in 1965 ˆ without congressional declarations of war illustrate the extent to which a President can commit the nation to a course of military action under his powers as commander in chief. In a reaction against presidents' taking foreign military initiatives, the Senate in 1969 passed a "national commitments" resolution requiring congressional approval for any commitment to use American troops abroad. In the War Powers Act of 1973, Congress declared its intent to participate with the President in making decisions to use American armed forces abroad.

Limited War: Any war that is fought without the employment of all major weapons and for objectives other than the complete defeat of the enemy. Limited war involves the use of conventional military forces rather than of nuclear super-weapons in the pursuit of specific political objectives.

Significance: In the Korean conflict of the early 1950s and the Vietnam War of the 1960s, the United States and other nations fought limited wars with conventional military forces. Fear that limited wars may spread into a general worldwide conflagration makes decisive victories impossible to achieve. Many critics opposed American defense policies in the 1950s on the ground that too much emphasis was placed upon weapons of mass destruction at the expense of mobile tactical forces of the type needed to fight limited wars. This opposition was based on the belief that since neither the Soviet Union nor the United States would employ nuclear weapons; the United States was in an inferior position to combat localized aggressions.

The Kennedy and Johnson administrations sough to achieve a "balanced force" of conventional and nuclear weapons. The Nixon administration, reacting to the Vietnam War experience, enunciated the Nixon Doctrine, by which it sought to avoid direct limited war involvements by insisting that each ally assume primary responsibility for its own defense, rather than depending on intervention by American forces. The Regan administration has sought to strengthen American strategic and tactical forces, particularly conventional forces in NATO.

Declaration of War: A formal announcement by a nation that a state of hostilities exists with another nation. Constitutionally, only Congress can declare war. Under the usual procedures, the President requests a declaration of war, the Congress adopts it by joint resolution, and the President signs it. In over 200 years of United States history, Congress has declared war only five times ˆ the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.

Under conditions of modern war, Congress has lost most of its discretionary power to determine when and if war should be declared. Congress may merely recognize that a state of hostilities already exists, as in its declaration of war against the Axis powers following the attack upon Pearl Harbor in 1941. Moreover, the President, as commander in chief, may commit American forces to action without congressional declaration of war, as when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered a naval convoy for merchant ships prior to America's actual entry into World War II. In the Korean War, American troops ordered into action by President Harry Truman fought from 1950 to 1953 under the United Nations banner without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

In South Vietnam, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon committed large numbers of American troops to action, and Presidents Johnson and Nixon ordered massive bombing of North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, all without a congressional declaration of war. Today, with missiles and hydrogen bombs poised for attack, the decision to launch or repel an attack may be made by the President or, conceivably in an emergency situation, by a military commander in the field, with Congress having little to do with the decision. Currently, the United States is the only nuclear weapons' state in which one individual ˆ the President acting as commander in chief of the armed forces ˆ can act alone to order a nuclear attack anywhere in the world.

Islamic Republic has been identified as a terrorist entity. The International community is not willing to recognize, cooperate or to be identified with a terrorist entity. As a result the Western civilization is destined to deprive this terrorist entity of any respect, prominence and legitimacy. Since Islamic Republic lacks the conventional military power for a classical war, as a result has chosen the Terrorism its main military strategy to pursue its objectives. The following is a definition and a brief description of terrorism:

The foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. IR has terrorized the internal opposition groups and IR has applied the very same policy toward the International community. It financed and trained the Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon. It trained and financed some of the Palestinian terrorist groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. It murdered the 241 US marines in Beirut Lebanon during President Ronald Reagan. IR gave refuge and trained terrorists like Imad Maghnuyeh of Lebanese Hezbollah leader and the son of Bin Laden.

Terrorism: Actions undertaken by governments, individuals, or groups using violence or threats of violence for political purposes. International terrorism has included aircraft high-jackings, political kidnappings, assassinations, bombing arson, sabotage, and the holdings of hostages. Most terrorism is practiced by groups representing extremist political parties or positions. Typically, terrorism of the Left is aimed at promoting revolution against the established order, and terrorism of the Right is used to preserve and protect a privileged group or class.

Significance: Terrorism has been used increasingly in recent years by Third World movements seeking to gain political and economic independence and to call attention to their cause. Terrorism has also been used to maintain positions of power, once secured. Citizens and officials of the United States, including diplomatic personnel, military officials, airline personnel, corporation executives, and tourists, have increasingly become the victims of terrorism. The United States government has been directly affected by terrorist actions.

For example, American diplomatic and military hostages were seized by Iranian militants in 1980 and held for 444 days, with the connivance of the Iranian revolutionary government, before being released. Terrorism is difficult to combat, since innocent lives are often in jeopardy, and the terrorists appear willing to sacrifice their own.

Basically, the problem of dealing with terrorists resolves itself into the following question: Should counter violence be used against terrorists, or should an effort be made to placate them through political compromises? Although most countries have agreed through the United Nations not to give sanctuary to terrorists and hijackers, the problem continues. The use of military force by national armies to achieve political objectives constitutes a form of terrorism used especially in the Middle East in recent years.

Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.
It has been used throughout history by political organizations of both the left and the right, by nationalist and ethnic groups, and by revolutionaries. Although usually thought of as a means of destabilizing or overthrowing existing political institutions, terror also has been employed by governments against their own people to suppress dissent; examples include the reigns of certain Roman emperors, the French Revolution (see Reign of Terror), Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Argentina during the "dirty war" of the 1970s.

Terrorism's impact has been magnified by the deadliness and technological sophistication of modern-day weapons and the capability of the media to disseminate news of such attacks instantaneously throughout the world. The deadliest terrorist attack ever occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 (see September 11 attacks), when members of al-Qaeda terrorist network hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center complex and one into the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C.; the fourth plane crashed near Pittsburgh, Pa. The crashes resulted in the collapse of much of the World Trade Center complex, the destruction of part of the southwest side of the Pentagon, and the deaths of some 3,000 people.

Israel the Bogeyman: One of the strategies that IR has used with respect to the opposition groups trying to use Israel as a bogeyman. This has been the cornerstone of the Islamic Republic's foreign policy. The entire Islamic foreign policy is revolves around the issue of Israel being the bogeyman in the region. Islamic Republic has used this issue in order to further its own cause. As far as the Islamic Republic is concerned every thing hinges on this issue. This is what they have been using for the past 27 years in order to cause distraction from their own internal mismanagement and crisis. They have used the Israeli issue as a cause of all of their shortcomings and ailment.

Despite the fact that Israel never had any territorial claim on Iran or never showed any hostile attitude toward Iran. IR exploited the Israeli-Palestinian issue to its fullest potential in order to justify its own sheer incompetence.

The Guilt factor: Some people feel guilty to show sympathy toward the International community to take action on Islamic Republic. They feel their loyalty or their patriotism would be damaged if they do so. This was the feeling with the German expatriate and the Japanese expatriate during the World War II living in the United States. They felt guilty when they became sympathetic toward the Americans or British forces at that time. Although they knew that Hitler was an evil force and it was a threat to humanity, but yet the guilt factor remained with them and it hindered their outlook to the future of the war. It was a source of distraction and skewed their vision and hope. Many of the Iranian expatriate display the same feeling and are faced with the same painful dilemma.

It's like a young man who is responsible for his elderly parents and is the only source of care and well being of his parents. AT the same time his country is being invaded by the neighboring country. He must decide to go to join the military and fight for his country or should he stay home and care for his elderly and sick parents. How do you resolve this dilemma? It is complicated and it is very emotional. It is not easy to deal with emotions. It is a complex issue. These are some of the issues that Islamic Republic tries to capitalize on them.

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H. David Ramezani


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