Should Iran Beware The Ides Of March ?
Top flight foreign correspondent and acclaimed defence analyist, Eric Margolis is a master of his art.
He writes well, he knows his specialist subjects backwards and he's rarely wrong in his readings of and reporting on, international affairs.
So when Margolis makes a particular point of flagging certain signals, we would all do well to sit up straight and listen to what he's saying.
To something like the following for example.
NEW YORK - According to US and European intelligence sources, the US and Israel are getting ready to attack Iran if the current round of diplomacy designed to stop Iran from advancing its nuclear program fails.He sounds somewhat sure of a certain scenario, wouldn't you say ?
And how about this?
President George Bush, with his usual bombastic exaggeration, claims Iran's limited but growing nuclear program poses `a grave threat to the security of the world'.Equaly certainly, we'd say that sounds just about right. As does what follows.
What he really means is that Iran could one day challenge Israel's Mideast nuclear monopoly and pose a threat to the Jewish state.
These are the same kind of falsehoods we heard before the US invasion of Iraq - another nation that posed no threat to anyone save its own wretched people. Like Iraq, Iran has almost no ability to project military power beyond its borders.
It certainly has no means of threatening the US.
Today, Iran's handful of inaccurate, 1,200km range Shahab-3 missiles can barely reach Israel, and have only non-nuclear conventional warheads. To say Iran somehow threatens the world is a gross lie.(snip)
Even if Iran did have nuclear warheads, it has no means of delivering them. Nuclear weapons without delivery systems are useless.
Many of Israel's estimated 200 nuclear warheads are targeted on Iran, including Jericho II missiles and new, nuclear armed US-supplied Tomahawk land-attack missiles on its Dolphin-class submarines in the Indian Ocean off Iran.(and snip again)
No one should be surprised that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. It is surrounded by states armed with nuclear weapons: Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia and, most lately, US forces based in the Mideast and Central Asia.Oh, really ? Well surprise, suprise -- and we don't think.
US and British special forces, and US drones, have been probing Iran's defenses for a year, and setting up ground beacons to vector air attacks on Iranian nuclear sites.
But we do believe this. Every worrying word of it.
The US and Israel would likely use air and missile strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear industry and cripple its military. The US has supplied Israel with 2,500-km ranged F-16C/Ds and F-15Is, and 500 GBU-28 deep penetrating bombs. These new bombs may contain depleted uranium. Much of Iran's critical nuclear facilities are far underground or dug into hillsides.As we also acknowledge absolutely, all of the following.
Israel's hawkish defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, while calling for diplomacy, warned last weekend his nation `would not tolerate' a nuclear-armed Iran. Israel's Mossad has been claiming this March is the absolute deadline to stop Iran's nuclear program.
On cue, Israel's many supporters in the US Congress are loudly calling for war against Iran.
German intelligence leaks claim last December CIA chief Porter Goss briefed Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan about US plans to attack Iraq.
Israeli warplanes would overfly Jordan and Iraq to strike central and southern Iran. US air and missile strikes could come from Diego Garcia, Qatar, Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and from carriers, surface warships and subs in the Indian Ocean. B-2 Stealth bombers and F-117s would lead the attack.
And just in case anyone anywhere wasn't aware -- or was 'slow' enough not to even surmise. ( As if, eh? )
Iran is the world's fourth largest oil exporter;
Starting to sound familar? Remember a rather recent, similar scenario ?
The beleaguered Bush administration may try to escapes mounting woes by launching an air campaign against Iran to whip up war fever among Americans before mid-term elections, thus boosting Republican fortunes.Hmmm. This Old Brit and Richard would rather not comment -- well, not right now
They'd like to leave that, along with the very last word[s] to Mr Margolis. After all, he is a master in these matters.
* Read the full fact packed piece, right here.
But this is a dangerous business because, like the supposed jolly little colonial adventure in Iraq, a war with Iran could be dangerously unpredictable and go terribly wrong.