By Dennis Lamb
I agree with the Republicans on many issues. Mitt Romney’s selection of a team of military-industrial complex-connected Dick Cheney-it’s for guidance in foreign affairs, several of whom led the charge into Iraq, causes me concern, however.
Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency at different times, has publicly warned about the consequences of a strike on Iran. He could be a voice for reason among Romney’s advisers.
But Dan Senor, Eliot Cohen, Max Boot, Eric Edelman, William Kristol and Walid Phares are all unapologetic war hawks. John Bolton, who criticized the Bush administration for not being hawkish enough on Iran, expressed support for an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran in 2009. And with Bolton leading this flock of hawks, it appears likely Romney would launch a “pre-emptive” attack against Iran if elected president as he essentially promised while in Israel and during his campaign in an attempt to win Jewish voters over from Obama.
But no war in history has ever gone according to plan. Wars — easy to get into, hard to get out of — by their nature tend to get out of control.
We may have a powerful navy, but we could be in trouble in the Gulf of Hormuz because the Iranians could apply asymmetrical warfare against us using large numbers of cheap speedboats. A military war game exercise conducted by our Defense Department in 2002 and reassessed in 2008 resulted in a U.S. aircraft carrier and 15 other major warships sunk in 15 minutes.
Iran also has an advanced cyber warfare capability that might be able to shut down our power grids as well as target government websites and infrastructure.
Though it seems highly unlikely they would do so, the Iranians might also attack the 68,000 troops we have left in Afghanistan. Caught between just half of the 523,000 men in Iran’s active army attacking from the West and the Taliban in the East, our troops there could be in trouble if they did.
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr almost certainly would attack the personnel we have left in Iraq with his supporters as he once said he would do if we attacked Iran.
And a strike on Iran could give rise to a new source of terrorism in the United States. A young Iranian working as a waiter in a restaurant told me last spring that if war broke out between the U.S. and Iran, we would see terrorist attacks on American schools. True or not, provoking new acts of domestic terrorism should at least be entered into our calculations in considering all the possible consequences of starting a war with Iran.
In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Erich Remarque’s 1929 novel about World War I, he has several German soldiers observing that the only ones with an interest in war are the industrialists and politicians. “I think it is more like a kind of fever,” says one. “No one in particular wants it and then all at once there it is. We didn’t want the war, the others say the same thing — and yet half the world is in it all the same.”
All is quiet on the Iranian front today. Let’s keep it that way.
(The thoughts outlined above represent my personal views and not the views of my former employer.)
Dennis Lamb, from Chelsea, Iowa, and now residing out of the state, retired from the CIA in 2002 after serving 30 years in its Directorate of Operations as a case officer and intelligence analyst. Comments: email@example.com