Better to say the United States and Israel cannot live with the reality of a nuclear Iran; while it is not untrue to conclude Iran is taking advantage of the weakness of the international community and the continuing struggle over hegemony in the Middle East which so far, has turned Russia and China against the United States, the idea of a possible U.S. attack on Tehran if initiated, will fail to achieve the goal of crippling Iran’s aspirations for a nuclear arsenal.
The past few months, American Conservatives and advocates for the defense of Israel have called on the Obama administration to make a proactive move by attacking the nuclear sites in Tehran, to prevent Iran from furthering its desire to build a nuclear weapon. However, war advocates have failed to realize the possible economic and political consequences of such an attack on the United States and the global effort to prevent the development of nuclear weapon by the so-called rogue states.
Currently, the entire world is barely recovering from the severe economic and financial crisis, that led to the collapse of the likes of Lehman Brothers and other giant financial institutions that caused a recession and a huge rise in unemployment; the United States is yet to recover from the loss of lives in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the economic loss that has put the nation in debt to the tune of 15 Trillion dollars and the ongoing fight in the U.S. Congress over budget cut and limitation on the size of government.
With all these in mind, the question is whether an attack on Iran is what the United States need at this time. What are the consequences of such an attack? And if initiated will such intervention ever be successful in curbing Iran’s desire to possess a nuclear weapon? What consequences will an attack have on the nation of Israel? And is there any possibility the United States will continue to fund an Israeli war if the U.S. decides Israel should carry out the attack on Iran?
First, it is fair and accurate to say any attack on Iran at this time, will do nothing but only help delay Iran’s ability to finally acquire a nuclear weapon. One thing is sure; Iran has the scientific knowledge to produce one. An attack by the United States will not destroy Iran’s nuclear capability but rather, delay when a nuclear weapon is finally manufactured by the Islamic nation.
While the United States did not attack North Korea, years of economic sanctions and isolation was viewed by North Korea as an act of war; a major reason why the country decided to go ahead with its nuclear program and the eventual manufacture of nuclear weapons. So far, North Korea has carried out many nuclear tests and both the United States and the West have not been able to do anything about it.
Any attack on Iran would be considered an act of war and a reason for the country to do everything within its power to defend itself, even if it means building a nuclear weapon. While it is true the current regime headed by Ahmadinejad has political oppositions, the opposition in Iran may turn against the West in support of the regime if a U.S. attack is viewed as supporting Israel.
Second, an attack by the United States will help to empower the government in Tehran; other nations in the Middle East including strong allies of the United States will turn against the U.S. in support of Iran, such an attack would be seen as yet another Western attempt to wage war against an Islamic state in support of the Jewish state of Israel. The past decade has seen a number of Western intrusions in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; another attack on Iran may backfire as a move against the Middle East.
Third, the economic consequences of such a move would be devastating not only for the United States but also for global economy. If the U.S. attacks nuclear facilities in Iran, oil is likely to catapult to about $140 a barrel in a matter of days after the attack. History will testify to the fact that whenever there is a conflict in the Middle East, oil prices go up dramatically. For example, in 2006 during Israel’s war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, there was both direct and indirect impact on the supply of oil which led to a jump in price to $66 a barrel.
Other examples are the Yom Kippur war of 1973, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Iraq-Iran war of the early 80s, the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the Second Intifada in 2000 during which the price of crude oil soared and in some cases more than doubled in price. An attack on Iran would cause a repetition of the past and a global increase in the price of oil; a war will close the Strait of Hormuz a crucial passage for the transportation of oil from the Middle East to the West, resulting in a dramatic reduction in the production of oil worldwide.
A reduction in production means an increase in price not only at the pump but also other consumer goods including food which must be transported from manufacturing to the markets before getting to the consumer, who must pay a hefty price to acquire such goods. Americans and others around the world will not agree to a $6 per gallon at the pump, the result would be protests worldwide, political turmoil and eventual declaration of such war as unpopular.
A war on Tehran would lead to a Chaotic Middle East; with the Arab uprising still ongoing and the possibility of a civil war in Syria, attacking Iran would make the region totally unstable. So far, the United States is fighting a diplomatic war with both Russia and China over the issue of Syria; Russia and China still disagree with the United States and NATO over how Libya was resolved, an attack will further turn both nations against the United States and make it impossible to resolve outstanding issues of the Middle East at the United Nations.
Attacking Iran without giving diplomacy a chance to work would completely isolate Israel in the region; such a move might trigger more resentment against Israel by nations like Egypt and Turkey that currently have some relations with Israel. Also, Lebanon and Hezbollah may choose to reignite the fight against Israel; such move would make it impossible to resolve the Palestinian question and Iran would most likely do everything possible to derail the peace process in the Middle East, by giving both military and financial support to an uprising against Israel.
Countries who fear Iranian hegemony from both political and economic standpoint such as; Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are likely to suffer the effects of an attack; the effects on such third states would trigger both financial and economic tsunami if Iran decides to respond by seizing oil production and imposing a global embargo on oil exports. Nations who depend on oil revenue for economic growth, would lack access to the Strait of Hormuz, the result might be both financial and political catastrophe.
If the United States decides Israel should carry out the attack alone, such a support is likely to be ephemeral; Israel will definitely need some financial support and aid in ammunitions from the United States but it is unlikely the United States will continue to fund an Israeli war in perpetuity. The U.S. is currently dealing with the war in Afghanistan, the debts of both Iraq and Libya continues to have a devastating effect on U.S. economy and it is possible that Americans won’t support funding another war.
Such attack would trigger a new wave of terror. The last thing the United States want is to have a nation like Iran give its support to terror; crippled terror cells may reemerge if given funding, a chaotic Middle East and a troubled Iran would give Al Qaeda the opportunity to recruit again leading to a new terror movement and a circle of terrorist attacks against Western targets.
Resolving Iranian nuclear imbroglio will require more than a plan of attack. It is unlikely Tehran will go ahead with a nuclear production, knowing the consequences both economic and political such move would bring. The United States must desist from any attack on Tehran, an attack on the Islamic nation will fail to achieve its goal and it is doubtful the regime will give up its aspirations after an attack. The U.S. must work with the United Nations to resolve the nuclear issue through diplomacy, it must find a way to get the support of both China and Russia to end Iran’s nuclear aspirations; dragging the U.S. to another war would have adverse effect, a war on Iran is not necessary at this time.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is a writer and published author; an expert in general law, foreign relations, and the United Nations.
Categories: Foreign Affairs