Iran’s military warnings: what does history tell us?

July 9, 2008

iran.jpg    It can be an unnerving experience wandering among the graves of Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, just outside Tehran.
    Photographs of the dead from the 1980-88 war with Iraq, “martyrs” as they are called here, stare out in seemingly unending rows. Often horrifyingly young. Many tombs are tended as if the dead died yesterday. Flowers are fresh. Small Korans are tucked into neat glass cabinets that serve as headstones.
    For a nation which still weeps for Hussein, one of the 12 Shi’ite Imams and who died in a hopeless battle at Kerbala in the 7th century, family heroes killed in a war that ended just two decades ago are still caught in a close embrace.
    So why are they relevant now? Because these dead have become caught up in a war of words that is escalating around the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme.
    Israel has vowed never to let Iran build an atomic bomb, which Tehran insists it doesn’t want. Washington says force is a last resort — but it remains an option.
    To that, Iran’s leaders say, remember our brave boys.
    Our “martyrdom-seekers”, like the men (and teenagers) who lined up in human waves against Iraq, will be ranged against you. The Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the Gulf’s vital oil wells, will be shut down by those who spurn death. And these courageous individuals are only part of our armoury: missiles, ships and planes, even allies in the region, stand ready.
    The message is clear: Attack at your peril, Iran’s retaliation will be decisive, wide-ranging and devastating.
    But will it? Military experts accept Iran could cause havoc in the area. But what kind of match will it really be for the world’s only superpower when some of Iran’s weapons pre-date the 1979 revolution while others are modified Chinese and North Korean designs? Iran speaks proudly of its “martyrs”. But what use are rows of soldiers if strikes are carried out by U.S. and Israeli warplanes or guided missiles fired from afar?
    And then there is a bigger question: Iran may hark back to its all-out defence against the Iraqi assault in 1980 but does that really tell us about a future response?
    A study by two senior Washington-based researchers, Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt ( suggests not.
    Their study, called The Last Resort, aims to explain the consequences of what they call “preventive military action” against Iran, should Israel or the United States choose to act. Context, they write, matters. Whether Israel or America carried out the strike will matter. The kind of case Washington has made before staging any attack may determine whether it wins international backing or not. These kind of issues could help determine how Iran reacts — which is far from clear.
    “The Islamic Republic’s track record of responding to military provocations is decidedly mixed,” they write before listing seven such “provocations” with reaction. Three of these times Iran engaged in “no significant retaliatory action”.
    For example, when Iraq started targetting Iranian cities and oil facilities late in the 1980s war, Iran replied by sending its own missiles against Iraqi civilian population centres, striking international shipping and trying to destabilise nearby Arab governments. (The tactic backfired by strengthening international resolve against Iran, they write.)
    But when, in the closing stages of that war with Iraq when the ship USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner — an action Iran to this day insists was intentional — Iran never apparently retaliated, they write. Instead, Tehran seemed to view it as showing U.S. readiness to close ranks with Iraq and Iran shortly after agreed a ceasefire. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the later revolutionary leader, said it was like drinking poison. (Washington says the airliner was hit by accident and agreed to pay compensation.)
    “Tehran recognizes that at times its interests are best served by restraint, although it will react when circumstances permit,” the researchers write. “Tehran has not always reacted swiftly to foreign attacks to assuage nationalist passions — and it has sometimes not responded at all.”
    Those fallen men, and the youths who never grew up to have more than wispy beards, are testimony to admirable bravery. They died in defence of their country and cause. But whether this tells you how Iran would handle any future conflict is more open to discussion.


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The sign that indicate Iran is serious is the recent declaration of the iraqi leaders who asked time table of US withdrawal. I Think the US has made historical mistake by placing the Chiites peoples as Iraq Leaders who are following just the orders of the terrorist Moqtada sadr.

US have to understand that when concerning the religion Iraqi leaders are very close to Iran and the History will show us that. They were all refugees in Iran.

If the US were clever enough, they could let Saddam Hussein arrange all this problems with Iran. Where was Iran and it’s threat when Saddam was in power ? and where was Moqtada sadr also ?

Bush and his advisors have made “tactical mistake”. Tey should bring back immediately the Followers of saddam in power if they want really to stop Iran.

Posted by AT | Report as abusive

One can’t decipher the tea leaves, Mr. & Mrs. Reader. That’s why this article reaches indecisive, inconclusive conclusions.

One can never tell what is going to happen at the center of ancient Persia, i.e., the modern-day Bush/Cheney/McCain/Olmert nemesis of Shi’a Islam Iran.

The same indecisive inconclusiveness can be applied to the center of ancient Mesopotamia, i.e., Shi’a Islam/Sunni Islam/multi-religion Kurd Iraq, where just recently:
1) Mr. Bush says that as a betting man, he thinks there will be an agreement with Mr. al-Maliki, a Shi’a Muslim, before the U.N. mandate expires on New Year’s Eve…Mr. al-Maliki demanding a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal).
2) Lieutenant General Dubik says that U.S. ground troops can be withdrawn from Iraq in 2009.
3) Mr. Obama says that it will be after the congressional election of 2010, i.e., January 2011 (instead of May 2010) before the Our Best & Finest can finally come home from Iraq. The latter of course leaves Our Sons & Daughters in Afghanistan where the Russians (Soviets) were mired in a similar unwinnable counterinsurgency and occupation for some eleven years (1979-89). Said another way, Mr. Obama has “slipped” from “16 months” to “2 years” in his latest remarks.

As a matter of fact, the entire southwest corner of the continent of Asia is more or less a mysterious morass of indecisive inconclusiveness insofar as the West is concerned.

Naturally, the preceding includes ancient Canaan, i.e., present-day Palestine (as voted by the U.N. in 1947 & as acquired by Israel since 1948); Israel (as voted by the U.N. in 1947 & as expanded by force since 1948); Lebanon; and portions of present-day Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

I refer you to the map at ice_Agreement.

From what I’ve read, the Jews look upon ancient Canaan as a geographic area sanctified when the Hebrews conquered its indigenous peoples. Blood has been flowing more or less nonstop ever since. One such nasty indigenous bloodbath occurred when the Israelites reportedly conquered the city of Jericho. Another perhaps equally violent indigenous bloodbath occurred when the French Christian Crusaders conquered the city of Jerusalem on July 15, 1099.

Notably absent of indigenous bloodletting was the recapture of Jerusalem by the forces of Muslim Kurd, Salah al-Din, on October 2, 1187. History tells us that this relatively peaceful post-siege reoccupation of Jerusalem was the result of Salah al-Din reportedly parleying with Christian Crusader, Balian of Ibelin, to avoid further bloodshed & destruction, i.e., to avoid Christian destruction of Islamic holy shrines and a Christian massacre of Jerusalem’s remaining Muslim inhabitants.

The bottom line of the preceding is that 21st Century bombing of Tehran and other perhaps high value Persian targets (prior to directly engaging the Iranian government in diplomatic talks) doesn’t seem to be within the letter or even the spirit of say, the 1945 Preamble to the U.N. Charter (that all member nations say that they subscribe to), to wit:

…to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
…to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
…to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
…to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
…to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
…to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
…to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

The preceding are lofty aims to be sure. However, does the world want to engage in widening violence before giving nonviolence a chance? Well…if we can put religious differences aside for a moment, perhaps that might be possible.

Of course, it’s not easy dealing among theocracies…whether they be Muslim, Jewish or Christian. The latter refers to the United States, of course, if its 545 temporarily elected and appointed legislative, executive & judicial branch politicians don’t get their act together and start complying with the Second Amendment to “this Constitution for the United States of America” (otherwise known as the second of the ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights).

Separation of religion and government does not imply atheism. However, one must admit that while killing and maiming are routine daily events among Muslims, Jews & Christians…there is little if anything in the news about atheistic killing & maiming.

OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

I meant to say “first amendment” in my previous remarks (not “second amendment”).

OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

new missile reaches tel aviv. wow, and to think the iranians didnt have it in them. taking iraq was easy because everybosy hates saddam. im afraid thats not the case here. the brave iranians will come out in great numebrs to defend their nation against the illegal preemptive strike that bush and his Zionist friends use. Having said that, i really hope this war doesn’t occur, or all hell will break lose, this will be third world war for sure. Lets hope the Evangelicals’ prayers are not answered for another war on innocent people.

Posted by shaikh rahman | Report as abusive

I dont think That USA will ever attack on iran in current satuation When israil is so vurnerable including US Bases in middel east, Once us attacked on Iran, The Iran Will respond aggressively and Iam sure USA never wanna lose another war since they saw catastropic defeat and failure in IRAQ and Afganistan.

All USA and Western Lobby trying to do is stop iran to making nukes but I dont think they will succed, Iran will ultimately manufacture Nukes, However Israil will lose its great influence once Iran declare its self a Nuclear weapon owned state.


Posted by Danish | Report as abusive

Please let me know before Israel or US attack, as I live in Saudi and if either of the above happen, say goodbye to the whole region

Posted by simon | Report as abusive

I beg to differ from OK Jack’s opinion that the article reaches “indecisive, inconclusive conclusions”.

This article is trying to say that Iran is willing (or at least threatening) to use military force so as to continue with their nuclear enrichment programme.

Iran’s testing of their missiles that are claimed to have the ability to hit U.S bases in the region and Israel did not come about as an annunal exercise but an “action” response to a threat.

Just over a few weeks ago, Israel held a large-scale military excercise reported to simulate an actual strike to Iran. This military maneuver also came with the warning that a incursion strike would be executed if Iran does not respond positively to demands to halt its nuclear enrichment programme.

We must understand that Israel is the only state in the world that promotes a Jewish national identity; they will fight hard to preserve their existance. For thousands of years, Jews have been targets of discrimination. When there is a potential grave threat to their country, Israel will definitely commit herself to extinguish that threat.

Israel have also long stated that they do not any malicious intent towards their Arab neighbours, and is willing to coexist with them peacefully. However, it is countries that wish to see Israel wiped off the map that undermines stability in the region.

Though the UN charter that member states agree to save future generations from the scourge of war, there are people who misuse this charter to pursue programmes that threaten countless of lives and this definitely does not help in promoting stability in the world.

I’m not saying Iran should be denied access to nuclear technology. But having enrichment facilities in which this technology could go either way of aiding mankind, by producing power, and destroying mankind, through a nuclear explosive, will definitely raise objections from all over the world.

Posted by Maurice | Report as abusive

Whatever either candidate does, the United States needs to leave Iran with an honorable path of retreat (Colin Powell, The Craft of Diplomacy, 2004). The United States and the Bush administration have been threatening Iran for years with its foreign policy and its rhetoric.

“I believe President Bush is going to order air strikes (on Iran) before he leaves office”
-Norman Podhoretz (Lyons, 2007).

Bush and his cronies say they want peace and diplomacy, but the problem with the members of Bush administration is that you can’t trust them. You can’t take what they at face value. As former Nixon aide John W. Dean wrote, “George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have created the most secretive presidency of my lifetime. Their secrecy is far worse than during Watergate” (quoted in Wittkopf and Jones, 2008, 329).
The administration secretly planned and prepared for war with Iraq without disclosing it to the general public. Planning began in November of 2001 and included upgrading airfields in various Gulf countries, moving supplies to the region and the construction of necessary facilities. By April 2002, the planning and preparation for war was also being hidden from Congress. Bush had instructed General Tommy Franks not to make financial requests through Washington. “Anything you need, you’ll have.” The money would no longer be appropriated through congress. By the end of July 2002, Bush had approved more than thirty projects totaling over $700 million. Congress had no knowledge or involvement (Woodward, 2004, 122).
In December of 2002, Bush and Rumsfeld agreed to start secretly deploying troops into the theatre so as not to attract the attention of the press or the rest of the world. The first deployment order went out on December 6, 2002 and deployments continued every two weeks or so thereafter. Troops were given less than a week’s notice at times. In January 2003, the Bush administration arranged for much of its humanitarian relief to be disguised as general contributions to conceal its war planning from the NGO recipients. Yet, when asked about Iraq, Bush’s favorite response was “I have no war plans on my desk.” At one point or another after the planning began, nearly every member of the administration publicly denied any plans to go to war with Iraq (Woodward, 2004, 129).

A better approach to Iran would be negotiations. While Fareed Zakaria agrees that there is no reason not to use sanctions and embargoes against states such as Iran, he suggests that we also need to “allow a viable way out.” That is to say, we need to negotiate and not merely mandate.

Posted by John Maszka | Report as abusive

Well, I think there is much more politicizing than what is really going on. For one, I don’t believe (and hope) that neither Israel, or the US are stupid enough to attack. The truth is Iran can’t cause nearly as much damage as the US is capable of making, and its military power doesn’t compare, even under the current circumstances. However, it will make life a living hell, and will cripple the US for decades, perhaps centuries to come. An attack on Iran is officially the beginning of World War III.
Now Israel is a different scenario. Without US support, they’re nothing. They’re making a huge deal out of things that have been said, just to irritate America to attack. They know if they attack Iran, US will not sit quietly either. But one thing the Israelis fail to acknowledge is that had it not been for Cyrus the Great, the greater king to have ever existed, their generation would have been extinct by now. For the illiterate ones, please go and read some more, and learn who it is that the Jews owe their existence to.
Now the whole world knows Iran will never attack Israel. All this nonsense is about preventing Iran to become an influential power, not about attacking anyone. The second Iran attempts to throw a nuke at Israel, the world around her will, as Hillary Clinton put it, obliterate Iran. I just have a hard time believing how childish some people think.

Posted by Hooman | Report as abusive

Just to change tack a bit, has anyone put any thought into how the middle-east situation might be resolved peacefully?
I would like to suggest a “trade zone”, not dis-similar to the EU, which would encompass the non-European Mediterranean countries of North African, Arabic, Jewish and Turkish etc., nations and reaching out possibly as far the Chinese frontier.
Through this “trade zone” the inhabitants of the area will be encouraged to talk to each other in a more positive manner, hopefully for the benefit of the population as a whole.
This “trade zone” would enable a dialogue to be had with the EU “trade zone” and others in the hopes of bringing the east and the west closer together, without broaching ticklish subjects such as divergent religious beliefs, and ethnic and cultural differences. (It might also add impetus to the African “trade zone” which from time to time gets mooted).
In the opinion of this writer the Jews are important to both the western “Christian” culture, and likewise to the eastern “Muslim” cultures. Their tragic history of pograms and the like must not be repeated in the future, and to this end I would encourage Israel to look for ways to live with their neighbours. Relying on the USA to “reach over” a large portion of the globe to come to their defense might be similar to the Poles relying on France or Britain to defend them during the latter part of the nineteenth and earlier part of the twentieth centuries, i.e. not a particularly good solution.
Attempts to remove the Jews might be seen as similar to taking a portion out of a knitted jumper, and expecting the rest of it to stay in one piece.
My personal belief (as an agnostic nobody) is that the religious arguments are there purely to motivate the foot-soldiers. The “leaders” are looking for power and loot.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

i hope the war will never break out. Otherwise there surely will be the third world war. And i believe none of us innocent people would ever like to see it. Bush and your allies, please repect people all over the world. The world doesn’t belong to you alone. It is a world for all human beings and every living creature. So bush please don’t do silly things just for the interest of your own country. Please give us a peaceful world…

Posted by we don’t want wars | Report as abusive

I refer you to the following Reuters article out of Baghdad today, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, without interjecting too much of my own opinion one way or the other.

I will simply say that there are 116 days until either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain becomes president-elect of the U.S….and 192-1/2 days until either one of the preceding is sworn in as the U.S. best & finest’s commander-in-chief. A lot can happen in that space of roughly 6-1/2 months, especially when there are proven trigger fingers at the White House as well as in Jerusalem. The last chance for the present U.S. administration to open a new front in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) is ticking away…and likewise the last chance for Mr. Olmert to exercise the Bush doctrine of preemption across international borders while someone is in the White House to unconditionally support him, albeit briefly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Olmert makes some attempt at politically (militarily perhaps?) making amends for what he exposed Israel’s best & finest to in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah shortly after he became prime minister some two years ago. The most recent conflict in Lebanon began two years ago tomorrow.

OK Jack

“Iraq dismisses report on Israeli air drills
Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:10pm EDT
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s Defence Ministry on Friday denied any Israeli air force drills had taken place in its airspace after a report that the Israelis were preparing there for a possible strike on Iran.

An Israeli military spokesman also described the report, carried on the website of the Jerusalem Post as “utterly baseless”. In Washington, the Pentagon dismissed the report.

Major-General Mohammad al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi Defence Ministry, said: “As the Ministry of Defence, we haven’t observed any IAF warplanes practising in Iraqi airspace.”

Any reports which suggested Iraq had no knowledge of what was happening in its airspace were false, Iraq said.

The Jerusalem Post report, citing sources in the Iraqi Defence Ministry telling a local news network, said Israel Air Force (IAF) war planes were practising in Iraqi airspace and landing on U.S. airbases in the country as a preparation for a potential strike on Iran.

It said it could not confirm the veracity of the report.

Issuing an official denial, the Israeli military spokesman said: “Reports about putative Israeli air force (IAF) activities in Iraq are utterly baseless.”

The Pentagon also dismissed the report.

“I find that report inconceivable, and clearly someone is either misinformed or intentionally trying to create mischief,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

Iran this week test-fired several missiles it said were capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The United States has reminded Tehran it was ready to defend its allies.

The escalating tension helped to push oil prices to a new record high of near $147 a barrel on Friday. Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter and there are fears of supply disruptions in the event of conflict.

The report referred to an airbase in western Anbar province near the town of Haditha. The airbase is controlled by the U.S. military.

Security for Anbar is still formally in the hands of the U.S. military, although control is expected to be transferred to Iraqi security forces soon. Iraq has security control over nine of its 18 provinces.

While Iraq has a large army and police force, its airforce is still very small.

(Reporting by Khalid al-Ansary and Dean Yates in Baghad, Alastair MacDonald in Jerusalem and David Morgan in Washington; editing by Alison Williams)”

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

I predict armageddon and much of the middle east destroyed or dying.

It is not thta it is written, but that it is a clear and present danger.

That is my view!

Posted by The Truth Is… | Report as abusive

Propaganda at its best, oil prices has sky rocked one hundred dollars a barrel since this mess began; and all this rhetoric only keep it going up-ward.
The fact is that nothing has really happened for this rise.
But the story is about Iran and it ambitions for a strong defense. Some will say nuclear,
And will it use it against Israel, I would say no due to its relations with the Jordan, Syrian the Palestinians and Lebanon.

Posted by William | Report as abusive