Iranian general threatens pre-emptive strike against Israel, American bases

posted at 2:01 pm on September 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Hey, don’t worry about a “senior commander” of the Revolutionary Guard threatening to start a war with Israel and the US.  It’s just noise, after all:

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made the comments to Iran’s state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television.

“Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it,” Al-Alam said, paraphrasing the military commander.

Hajizadeh said any attack on Iranian soil could trigger “World War Three”.

“We can not imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America’s support. Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them and we will certainly get into a conflict with American bases,” he said.

“In that case, unpredictable and unmanageable things would happen and it could turn into a World War Three.”

For those unfamiliar with the Iranian mullahcracy’s theology, a World War Three would be a feature, not a bug.  It’s unlikely to unfold in that manner, however.  Few nations will be encouraged to join in a shooting war against the US in the Persian Gulf on behalf of Iran.  None came to Saddam Hussein’s aid despite his long client relationship with Russia and China, as well as with certain European friends of ours who enriched Saddam while enriching themselves through massive corruption in the UN’s Oil for Food program, n’est-ce pas?  They’ll stand on the sidelines and cluck their tongues, but they’ll see their national interests best addressed by having American power tied up in a fight with the IRGC and the mullahs instead of in Europe and the western Pacific.

However, National Journal believes we’re definitely on a glide path to war with Iran, as the Obama administration has rejected “containment” as an option:

In an endless campaign season filled with forgettable speeches and debates, few Americans will recall March 4, 2012 as particularly noteworthy. On that Sunday afternoon President Barack Obama appeared before the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, where he was expected to give a boilerplate talk about close U.S.-Israeli ties. Instead Obama announced a new policy that put the United States and Iran on a collision course from which neither side has veered.

Declaring that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be intolerable to Israel and run counter to U.S. security, Obama offered Tehran a stark choice: the regime could abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program and “choose a path that brings them back into the community of nations, or they can continue down a dead end,” said Obama, who then went further than any previous president in describing what lay at the end of that road. “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

In a stroke, Obama took off the table the policy of “containment” and deterrence of a new nuclear power that the United States adopted in response to the Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea all crossing the nuclear threshold.  Either Tehran would have to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program, or the president was all but pledging a preventive war to destroy it. Seemingly disparate headlines of recent weeks – increasingly frenetic shuttle diplomacy to try and restart stalled talks with Iran over its nuclear program; an unusually public spat between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over “red lines”; the deployment of the largest U.S. naval armada to the Persian Gulf in years, to include two aircraft carrier battle groups – are all indications that Iran continues to hurtle down that dead end.

Be sure to read it all; Dennis Ross thinks Obama is serious about this, but color me skeptical.  It’s one thing to give a speech to a group that clearly wanted to hear that, but it’s quite another to put that policy in place.  Obama ran in 2008 declaring containment to be his preferred option, comparing Iran today to the Soviet Union during the Cold War in reference to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, which has the oh-so-perfect acronym of MAD.  The problem with applying MAD in this instance is that the Iranians aren’t pursuing rational objectives; they are clearly pursuing non-rational objectives (the return of the Mahdi) in a rational manner (provoking the worldwide conflict that leads to their theological outcome).

Perhaps Obama has learned this after taking office.  However, his policy of appeasing the mullahs during the ill-fated 2009 Green Revolution and his refusal to specify any red lines on Iranian action suggest less of a commitment to prevention over containment and more of a policy of hedging one’s bets.  That may not be a bad policy to pursue, but it has the major defect of giving the initiative to one’s potential enemy — and it sounds as though Iran won’t be shy about using it when the time comes.


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