Attack on Iran Would Spell Disaster for US Naval Forces

Article Summary
In the United States, supporters of a war against Iran are starting to drown out those opposed to a potential military conflict in the Persian Gulf. Not only would an attack on Iran be an unjustified violation of international law; it would also spell disaster for the US Navy, as demonstrated by numerous Pentagon simulations. US and Israeli attempts to subdue Iran will only encourage solidarity among those opposed to foreign intervention in the Middle East, writes Samir Karam.

In the United States, the voices calling for a war on Iran have begun to drown out those trying to prevent such a war. [Those opposed] include [observers] who warn that such a war could logically only result in a serious American defeat. American opponents of a US war on Iran are doing an excellent job [of advocating their view]. This highlights a level of neglect - dereliction even - by those in the Arab world who have a national duty and direct interest in opposing a US war on Iran.

Some say that Iran is acting in a provocative manner, and that it is pushing the United States and Israel to attack it. The objective response to these claims comes from those Americans who are opposed to war. They have shed light on Iran's reasons for challenging the world’s number one imperialist power and its [Israeli] ally. The anti-war voices in America have risen to an unprecedented level. But it seems that so far this has not sufficed in dissuading American leaders from pursuing their objectives. Even American democracy seems incapable of preventing war. The constant beating of the war drum by the official American media is deadening the voices of those who call for an end to American wars and defeats.

Certain loud voices in America have boldly warned American leaders against pushing their country toward a new war. Their arguments include facts that may have been ignored by Middle Eastern - and especially Gulf - leaders. One of the arguments put forth by Carl Herman, an American political commentator on the Global Research website, is that "American leaders have caused through the practice of violence the death of 230 million human beings worldwide in one century." [sic. The actual quotation reads: "We were all born into a century of total deaths from government violence of over 230 million human beings"]. That same commentator advocates for the "US military and/or law enforcement [to] arrest the current war criminals and end this history of murder. If not, it will be repeated by mass-murdering Iranians..." It should be noted that Herman is not a radical leftist, communist or a radical Islamist as some observers in our region may think. All American commentators campaigning to prevent an American and Israeli war on Iran share his opinion.

After listing nine instances in which American leaders have waged unjust wars against the will of the American people in the last century, Herman asserts that the current US administration is mainly relying on two falsehoods to launch a military attack on Iran. George W. Bush used the same two reasons as justification to attack Iraq [in 2003]. The first is that [Iran] is directly threatening Israel, something that it has not done. The second is that [Iran] has weapons of mass destruction, and all evidence so far indicates that Iran is only seeking nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Therefore, Barack Obama support for an attack on Iran - with or without Israeli participation - would be tantamount to an American denial of fundamental human rights: The right to life and the right to freedom.

More than one American commentator shares [Herman’s point of view]. Francis Boyle, a renowned professor of international law, contends:

"Waging war against Iran is a criminal act and a violation of international law...[It is a violation of] Article 2 (3) of the United Nations Charter [which] requires the pacific settlement of theinternational dispute between the United States and Iran. To the same effect are Article 33 and the entirety of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, which mandate numerous procedures for the pacific settlement of the international dispute between the United States and Iran."

Professor Boyle adds that the United States and Iran are signatories to the Hague Convention of 1899 which provides for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

The Global Research website also notes:

"Maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz has always been in contact with Iranian naval forces... In fact, Iranian naval forces monitor and police the Strait of Hormuz along with the Sultanate of Oman... More importantly, to transit through the Strait of Hormuz all maritime traffic, including the US Navy, must sail through Iranian territorial waters. Almost all entrances into the Persian Gulf are made through Iranian waters and most exits are through Omani waters. Iran allows foreign ships to use its territorial waters in good faith and on the basis of Part III of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea’s maritime transit passage provisions, which stipulate that vessels are free to sail through the Strait of Hormuz and similar bodies of water on the basis of speedy and continuous navigation between an open port and the high seas."

So, does the United States have the military power to control traffic in the Strait of Hormuz against the Islamic Republic of Iran's wishes?

The answer is that any realistic scenario for a military conflict with Iran would likely require the support of American aircraft carriers from outside the Gulf on the southern side of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. The US Navy is the best in the world, but this superiority does not mean that it is immune from harm. The US Navy in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf can be defeated because geographic factors would not favor its engagement there. According to military analysts opposed to a war with Iran, Iran has superior advanced missile capabilities there. It was for this reason that United States has recently set up a missile shield in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In addition, these military analysts believe that "even the small Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, which appear pitiable and insignificant against a US aircraft carrier or destroyer, can threaten warships. Looks can be deceiving. these Iranian patrol boats can easily launch a barrage of missiles that could significantly damage and effectively sink large US warships. Iranian small patrol boats are also hardly detectable and hard to target." [Quote from Global Research]

What is also certain is that the Iranians can launch rocket attacks on US naval forces from bases in northern Iran. [According to the Global Research website]:

"Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. One key example is the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) war game in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24, 2002 to August 15, 2002 after almost two years of preparation. This mammoth drill was amongst the largest and most expensive war games ever conducted by the Pentagon. Millennium Challenge 2002 was held shortly after the Pentagon decided that it would preserve the momentum of the war in Afghanistan by targeting Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria and finish off with the big prize of Iran in a broad military campaign to ensure US primacy in the new millennium. After Millennium Challenge 2002 was finished, the war game was 'officially' presented as a simulation of a war against Iraq under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, but in reality these war games were related to Iran...The war simulation took place because Washington was planning to attack Iran soon after invading Iraq in 2003."

After repeating this scenario in 2007, the United States realized that a full missile response from Iran can cause massive US losses that could be as high as 16 large US warships: One aircraft carrier, 10 cruisers and five amphibious warships.

This information, which may come as a surprise to Arab or Middle Eastern, but not to American - especially military - observers, indicates that an American defeat in a war against Iran is not only possible, but likely. This has been the main reason behind American hesitation in spite its beating its war drums, which has peaked in the past few weeks without affecting either Iranian morale or that of its supporters in the region.

Is anyone in the region supporting Iran in the current standoff?

Here, too, a distinction should be drawn between the ruling regimes and the people of the region. Despite, or perhaps because of, changes in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, the ruling regimes - principally Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the kingdoms that joined the US/NATO invasion of Libya and directed its revolution toward imperial aims - have grown increasingly closer to the US, and this has made the people of the region more supportive of Iran in its confrontation with the US. From historical experience, they know that US attempts to subjugate Iran are aimed at consolidating American influence in the region. This is something that is opposed by the popular forces that triggered the Arab revolts, which the United States managed to contain either through direct intervention as happened in Libya - and which might be repeated in Syria and Yemen - or through maneuvers similar to what happened in Egypt and Tunisia.

The current situation in our region makes supporting Iran a key national objective. They are no different than those which compelled the [Arab] people to support Egypt's [Gamal Abdel] Nasser and his revolution in the face of the tripartite aggression on the Suez Canal and Egyptian sovereignty in 1956. Here, we must bear in mind that regional support allowed Egypt to inflict a political defeat on the imperialist West and Israel, at a time when inflicting a military defeat was not possible.

Now, it is Iran that represents the true front of resistance against the US-led imperialist West. [It is the only entity] able to confront American-Israeli aggression and defeat it.

Supporting Iran in the current circumstances could alter the state of affairs in the region and mean a real “spring” [for the region]: A spring of liberation from American and Israeli domination. But the region’s ruling regimes seem to have pinned their hopes for broader peace with Israel on the United States against the will of their people. [It was these people] whose revolts - before they were set back - revealed that they refuse to sign a peace deal under American pressure.

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