Iranian Punctuation

Some statements move from ending with a question mark to a period to an exclamation point. We used to say, “War with Iran?” Now it’s time to say “War with Iran.” The exclamation point will come into usage once the actual attacks begin.

Iran has no allies that aren’t using it as a bargaining chip. If the USA makes the right concessions, Iran can be diplomatically isolated. Therefore, a war can happen. I’m not going to get in too deep about what the US would have to do to get Russia and China to step away from Iran, but the US would do what it takes to make that happen.

The communiques from Washington are increasingly stern: the ones from Israel non-existent. When official statements become blunter, fewer in number, and more like ultimatums, war is imminent. It’s a fact of diplomacy: any student of history can see how communications deteriorate in the buildup to war. When both sides anticipate conflict, both sides shut down the presses as they gear up for conflict. When only one side makes ready for war, the other carries on with florid prose. Iran expects war: witness their recent statement that the products of their enrichment plant “will blind the eyes of their enemies.” Hardly florid prose. That kind of talk constitutes fightin’ words.

With neither side offering hope of a diplomatic solution, war will come to Iran. Israel makes no secret of its desire to bomb Iran’s facilities and needs say nothing about how it can use a nuclear option – it has from 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. To be sure, if Israel uses a nuclear option, it’ll have to overcome a few legislative hurdles to continue receiving US military aid. With the current administration and tensions, those hurdles would be overcome. However, the more serious impact would be that Israel would open itself up to justifiable nuclear retaliation. The US contemplated a nuclear option against Vietnam, but decided against it because of that consideration. Our forces in Vietnam were concentrated and therefore vulnerable to a strike. Israel is even more concentrated and even more vulnerable to a single nuclear weapon. A detonation in Tel Aviv could create a firestorm that would engulf everything from Ashdod to Netanya on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. A strike on Haifa would destroy the rest of Israel’s coastal strip and a little bit of Lebanon. That would wipe out most of Israel’s population in an instantaneous holocaust. Israel would have to move very carefully so as not to trigger something like that happening.

But Israel also doesn’t want to see an unprovoked nuclear attacked wiping out their nation: that’s why Israel doesn’t want Iran to have nuclear capabilities. Frankly, I don’t want to see Israel or any nation face a nuclear attack. My opinion on disarmament, however, will have to wait for another article. Would war with Iran end the threat to Israel?

No, it won’t. It’ll end the threat from Iran, but not from the rest of Israel’s enemies, which it would have to deal with in turn. But for the short run, war with Iran would leave it like Iraq: broken and desperate to build back up.

For its own defense, Iran would have to fight asymmetrically. That means more than just terrorists and suicide bombers. Iran would have to mine the Straits of Hormuz, where one-third of all the world’s oil passes. Shutting down the Straits of Hormuz would devastate the global economy more than a few bombed-out cities. A huge chunk of the USA’s oil passes by Hormuz, so the USA must take that into account when planning a war with Iran. It would have to secure the Persian Gulf before Iran had a chance to disrupt shipping severely. We’d still see a huge spike in oil prices, no matter what, as there’s no way for the Gulf to escape completely unscathed in a war with Iran. US forces could move in to secure the Gulf and clear mines, but prolonged conflict would keep a risk premium on crude oil from the region.

Which then begs the question of what the war’s impact on the US economy would be. If the intention is to avoid deflation, then a war will work very tidily to boost demand. We’ll just have to go deeper in debt to do so, and therein lies the rub. We’re already worried about where the money to fund everything else will come from: how will be borrow for another war on top of all that? If we just print money to pay for everything, we’d be doing what Serbia did in its war with Bosnia and wind up courting inflation rates approaching Zimbabwe levels. That’s one way of avoiding deflation, I suppose…

But we’re heading for war. I’m pretty sure about that. Israel may act unilaterally to draw us in or we may go in first to keep the heat off Israel, but war will happen. Iran has to decide between mining Hormuz early and drawing the attack or receiving the attack first and possibly losing the opportunity to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. My guess is that Iran would draw the foul so that it can preserve world support for the long haul. Shipping would be messed up enough as is with a war in the region, but if it’s due to the US action, then the US would have to take the blame for wrecking the world economy.

We’re done with the question mark and we’re at the period. It’s a matter of time before we get to the exclamation point.

31 thoughts on “Iranian Punctuation

  1. David Liou

    Wouldn’t going to war with Iran, increase the worldwide disapproval of US foreign policies?

  2. deanwebb Post author

    Yes and no. This is not the same thing as Iraq: we’re pretty dang sure Iran is making nuclear weapons and so is the rest of the world. However, it would not win us any new friends among the downtrodden of the various Persian Gulf states. We’d also have to buy off China and Russia in order to pull this off, and that would further erode our influence in the world, if not our credibility.

  3. Ali Aenehzodaee

    The site is nothing new. Intel has known about it since the Bush administration, the reason its in the news now is that Iran is required to reveal the site publicly 6 months before operation. Ahmadinejad has agreed to allow UN to investigate the site. Now the question is, will this be a repeat of the UN investigations of Iraq 8-9 years ago?

  4. deanwebb Post author

    No. Israel is pushing hard for action. After the 1st of October, I expect sparks to soon fly.

  5. Diane Stout

    But if history has taught us anything, things don’t repeat in exactly the same way. I don’t know much about the situation, but the dice might not fall in the same way as before. Hopefully, I don’t sound too stupid…

  6. David Liou

    True, but based on indication thus far, the Iran war/crisis will be an upgrade from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    If war with Iran really occurs, will this be the crusades all over again, with US/Israel/allies vs Islamic countries in the Middle East?

  7. Ali Aenehzodaee

    Historically, Iran has not been an ally of other Islamic countries (it has only been officially Islamic since 79). Other Islamic countries also happen to be Arabic, which culturally clashes with Iran.

    For some 60(?) years U.S. has backed Israel completely. I think the only way U.S. would be involved militarily in Iran is if it was dragged in by Israel. Media hype about nuclear programs isn’t anything new and ultimatums have been thrown around before.

  8. Ali Aenehzodaee

    Unless this time, its different and US follows through with the UN investigation and declares that war with Iran is really worth the third front. If this happens, there will be no doubt that people will call shenanigans and foul play. It will be too similar to the invasion of Iraq whose investigation turned out to be nothing more than accusations without solid proof.

  9. Katie Wilson

    it seems to me that we’re going to be in big trouble on all levels- economically, politically, etc.- if we go to war with Iran. Would it just be the U.S. and Israel going to war against Iran, or would other countries join us? And does Iran want war with us, or is it just Israel that wants war?

  10. David Liou

    While it is true that we will be economically worse off if we go to war with Iran. But on the flip side if we don’t side with Israel, our economy may be even more screwed because Jews basically own Federal Reverse Bank. So the lesser of the two evils and for the better interest of the economy would actually be to go to war with Iran.

    If we do go to war with Iran soon, where are we going to find the funds, resources, and troops to support the war effort?

  11. deanwebb Post author

    Israel would draw in the USA, one way or the other. Something big is happening here. The case for Iran having an active nuclear weapons program is very credible – more so than the case to go into Iraq. Because of that, the case for war can be better made to the world court.

    The potential exists, however, for other states to intervene on behalf of Iran for their own purposes. That could lead to consequences we absolutely do not anticipate at this moment.

    I daresay I have the feeling that what we absolutely do not expect right now is precisely what is going to happen.

  12. Ali Aenehzodaee

    Where does the US draw the line and sever ties with Israel? It certainly hasn’t helped lately, and it has instigated most of the violence there anyway..

    Israel probably wouldn’t push as hard if it knew that it didn’t have allies. Sure they have their wmds but when Iran retaliates (i’m not ruling out iran provoking it) and sends one to Tel Aviv, it’ll be too late for the US to jump in.

    I don’t think it will ever get to this point.

  13. deanwebb Post author

    The US doesn’t sever ties with Israel. We’d lose credibility if we did – it’s been one of our closest allies over the years, even if it’s been troublesome in the extreme and spied on us repeatedly.

  14. Hugo Espiritu

    It was kind of expected for Israel to do this since it has been protected from hostile countries from being invaded. It’s unfortunate that the US will be pulled into a conflict it shouldn’t be in just for being a protector of Israel

  15. Katie Wilson

    Why didn’t we just listen to George Washington when he said not to get involved in “permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world”?? seriously…

  16. Ali Aenehzodaee

    What do you mean by “credibility”? We still have that stuff? How retro.

  17. David Liou

    Katie: We would be where we are now if we listened to Washington.

    Matthew: We’re not at war yet.

    Why would NATO want to support a country of having nuclear weapons illegally (Israel) that is accusing a country developing nuclear energy that hey have not right to do so?

  18. Harrison Thomas

    I can see what Katie is saying referencing Washington’s Farewell Speech, but if the U.S. didn’t support Israel then there is nothing stopping the Islamic countries from ganging up on the Israelis and kicking them out of the Middle East. As America helped to create the Jewish state following World War II, aren’t we at least a little responsible for its well being?

  19. Ali Aenehzodaee

    I agree with David’s point about NATO, except i would change the word “would” to “should”. I don’t think that the US should be responsible for Israel if Israel instigates war.

  20. Hugo Espiritu

    I agree with Ali that the US should be responsible if Israel instigates a war because the US put itself in that situation. The US top honchos need to be careful with meddling in the war zone that is the Middle East.

  21. Katie Wilson

    We may have helped Israel to become what it is now, but Israel is independent. If they want to get themselves into a war, we should leave them to take matters into their own hands and get themselves back out again. I don’t think we shouldn’t be responsible for them.

  22. David Liou

    On the flip side, you have to consider how much of our country is influenced by Israel and Jews. Of the many things the most important is the economy. They could always threaten to screw us over economically and we would be really screwed. I agree that we shouldn’t help the Israelis but we may not end up having a choice.

  23. Hugo Espiritu

    Israel is an independent nation but with the US as an ally they are going to expect the US to help them out.

  24. David Liou

    Despite that, Israel has to consider that the US already has its hands full. And Obama just got the noble PEACE prize, so he won’t go to war unless he has too.

  25. Emily S.

    How much will winning the Noble Peace Prize effect Obama’s plans on possible war?

  26. Hugo D. Espiritu

    I guess it depends on what kind of war it is. If the war sounds heroic like a “war on terrorism” then I don’t think he’d have a problem with the public if he got involved in one. But then again Bush overdid it with his war so maybe the euphemism won’t work.

  27. Alyssa Anderson

    A nation needs a certain amount of public support in order to go to war. However, at the moment it seems that the majority of American people would be reluctant to enter into a risky war without any catalyst to prompt their enthusiasm. There would need to be some kind of significant event/events to make the people feel that war is the only option. Any future war would need its own sinking of the USS Maine, Zimmermann note, Pearl Harbor or 9/11 in order to earn support. The attitude towards war in America right now is a pretty averse one, particularly after decades of unofficial ‘wars’ which were never actually declared by Congress. I’m not saying that future war is an impossibility, but something would have to trigger a major turn around in public opinion for that to happen.

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