- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The recent revelation of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’ January memorandum to senior White House officials apparently outlining a range of options for dealing with Iran’s persistent drive to achieve nuclear-weapons capability is most timely. On April 19, hard-line Iranian authorities banned the country’s two remaining official “opposition” parties - the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Mujaheddin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. Neither of these organizations was a pillar of democracy or threatened Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “religious” dictatorial control of the country. Nonetheless, the elimination of these two parties shows the paranoid mentality of the Ahmadinejad regime.

The leaders of both of these outlawed parties were among the young militants who seized our embassy in Tehran in November 1979, and they have been sentenced to six years in prison. By these actions, it should be clear to all that there is no way for any type of “green movement” to bring about regime change and democracy in Iran without outside support. As an aside, the green movement was never a recognized party and never had official permission to operate.

It is often stated that no responsible American leader wants a conflict with Iran. Unfortunately,the mullahs and Iran’s illegitimate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have counted on exactly that. Since the Carter administration, the Iranian leadership has proved to be right. Successive U.S. administrations have embraced economic sanctions as the primary response to Iran’s repeated acts of aggression against the United States. Suffice to say, economic sanctions have been a dismal failure.

Only last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton implied to the Financial Times that perhaps the process of imposing sanctions could lead to good-faith negotiations with Iran that President Obama has sought. What nonsense. The administration just cannot seem to accept the fact that the illegitimate Khamenei regime is not interested in negotiating with the United States unless it is on Iran’s terms. Translated, that means our capitulation, and that’s not going to happen.

After all of this administration’s overtures, Mr. Obama’s outreach to the Iranian rogue regime has been met with nothing but contempt. Anything less, I would have been disappointed in President Ahmadinejad.

I think Mr. Gates’ memo to the White House is on the mark. However, the concern is more than just the nuclear-weapons issue. Iran has been directly involved in the loss of thousands of U.S. military and civilian lives over the past 30 years. The regime founded by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has declared war on the United States multiple times since the 1979 embassy seizure - from the bombing of our U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, continuing today through support for the militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Recent comments by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen at Columbia University indicate that he worries about striking Iran and the potential for “unintended consequences” and further destabilization. To that I would add that I can only hope his statements are some clever perception-management ruse to keep the Iranians off guard. When dealing with an enemy, you always want to retain the initiative and keep the enemy confused. Based on the administration’s actions over the past 15 months, I am sure we have accomplished that.

The administration’s current efforts to impose new sanctions in Iran will most likely meet with no more success than previous efforts, particularly with China and Russia, which may soon sell Iran a very effective S-300-class anti-aircraft missile. During its April 16 Army Day Parade, Iran revealed an apparent mock-up of an indigenous S-300 class missile, which may indicate China or Russia is selling Tehran advanced technology.

Because it is our stated commitment to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear-weapon capability, the military option must be brought to the forefront. In the Gulf tanker war of 1986-88, we developed a strike plan that would have shut down Iran. That plan, appropriately updated, would be effective today and can be carried out while we are still engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the full plan were implemented, the Iranian economy would be ground to a halt. Iran’s current customers, China, Japan, Russia, et al., would feel the full impact.

As implied in Mr. Gates’ memo, phase one of a strategic strike plan would be limited to striking key facilities of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Iran is a target-rich country. Through various economic, security and diplomatic channels, Iran should be advised that we will target its strategic oil-exporting and energy-related facilities, its key industrial and government control centers, as well as its military installations should it elect to strike the facilities of our friends and allies or interfere with the oil flow.

With Iran as the recognized leader of state-sponsored terrorism, and considering Mr. Ahmadinejad’s messiah mentality, a containment strategy is not a viable option. At the end of the day, even if Iran accepts a negotiated agreement, what would it really mean? The only real solution is the elimination of the Khamenei regime. Therefore, we must exploit current unrest and give the supporters of the green movement an opportunity to take back their country using any military option we have, including false-flag covert operations similar to those former CIA Director William Casey successfully used against the Soviets in Eastern Europe in the 1980s.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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