Dan Plesch, Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, and international security consultant Martin Butcher have recently authored and released “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East.” The pre-publication paper was embargoed until August 28 and is dated September 2007. Here is the central finding:
The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days, if not hours, of President George Bush giving the order
In other words, given what the US has already been doing for some time, Plesch and Butcher do not think that a major attack on Iran will require much new US preparation for war.
It may not require much public debate either:
The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely.
The ongoing resource quagmire that is the war in Iraq does not preclude American attack. Indeed, the authors conclude that the prospect of war basically depends upon the whim of Bush, Dick Cheney and their White House colleagues:
The United States retains the ability – despite difficulties in Iraq – to undertake major military operations against Iran. Whether the political will exists to follow such a course of action is known only to a few senior figures in the Bush administration.
The authors then offer three conclusions about international life before and after such an attack — and none are particularly optimistic.
First, the reaction in the region:
it is unimaginable that it would not cause far greater spurs to anger than already exist in the region.
Second, such a war would greatly increase the likelihood of regional instability and escalated war.
Their third and final conclusion is that all the parties to the ongoing dispute need to pursue negotiated outcomes — and perhaps a WMD free zone in the Middle East. Virtually no attention is given over to this prospect.