If and when Bush ‘Iraqs’ Iran

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Mr. Gardiner reminds us air planners almost always fall short of promises — e.g., World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more recently Israeli air attacks on Hezbollah. “No serious expert on Iran believes the argument about enabling a regime change,” he says, and “it is far more likely such strikes would strengthen the clerical leadership and turn the U.S. into Iran’s permanent enemy.” Which is what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prays for five times a day.

Iran’s retaliatory capabilities are both regional and global. Hezbollah is the primary line of counterattack with terrorist assets in Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Latin America. Iraqi militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has said publicly U.S. forces would be targeted if Iran were attacked. Sheik al-Sadr also controls the large 140,000-strong Facilities Protection Service forces that guard oil pipelines and other strategic objectives.

No sooner does the first U.S. bomb impact in Iran, mines will be sown in the Strait of Hormuz through which 40 percent of the world’s oil consumption passes daily. Iran also has sleeper cells among Shi’ite workers in Saudi Arabia’s eastern oil fields. Oil would quickly skyrocket to $200 a barrel. With prices surging to this level, concludes Mr. Gardiner, a “global synchronized recession, intensified by the existing U.S. trade and fiscal imbalances” would soon follow.

Syria and Iran signed a mutual defense agreement June 15 under which Syrian forces would be involved if Iran were attacked. Such a crisis could quickly escalate into a regional war.

Unlike the six months’ preparations for Operation Desert Field and the deployments that preceded Iraqi Freedom, the Iran buildup will “not be a major CNN event.” They will take place below the media’s radar screen, such as moving Air Force tankers to staging bases and additional Navy assets to the region. “We can expect the number of administration references to Iran to significantly increase,” Mr. Gardiner wrote, with three principal themes — Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, the threat to Israel’s existence, and the Iran-al Qaeda link.

Congressional approval? When Democratic members of Congress offered an amendment to the Defense bill in June that would have required the president to get authorization before taking military action, the amendment failed. A strike on Iran, as seen by the White House, has already been authorized. It’s part of the global war on terrorism. So the strike on Iran could be ordered any time in the next two years.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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