An air-attack on Iran’s nuclear sites would likely lead to a Shiite uprising in the South of Iraq — that’s why the Brits are trying to get out of there as quickly as possible — and mass casualties across the country. It would align the new Shiite ‘government’ in Baghdad much more closely with Iran, and force the US into a hideous alliance with Sunni dictators and Sunni tribes. We would have no other global allies. We would still have insufficient troops to win. And we would not just have created a regional civil war in the Middle East; we would have taken sides in it. Such a development could unleash a wave of Islamist terror across the West far more lethal than anything we have yet seen — and even bring the Sunni-Shiite conflict to the streets of Western cities. Such warfare would likely lead to an intensification of the imperial presidency at home, with all the consequences for the Constitution that would entail. There is a disconnect right now, I fear, between the enormous stakes we are deciding and the awareness of most Americans of what may be about to engulf them.”
— Andrew Sullivan, 12 September 2007
Writing in The Nation, Alexander Cockburn is skeptical: “Despite the unending stream of stories across the months announcing that an attack on Iran is on the way, I’ve had my doubts. … China has a big stake in Iran. It’s also Uncle Sam’s banker. The Chinese don’t have to destroy the dollar, merely squeeze its windpipe or revalue their currency enough to double retail prices at Wal-Mart. The Republicans and the presidential candidates wouldn’t want that.
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff know the Iraq War has almost broken the US Army,” he adds; it is worth noting that it has been reported that several military commanders have vowed to resign should war with Iran commence. “Wouldn’t they adamantly oppose the notion of an attack on Iran, which would see Shiite resistance groups in Iraq cut US supply convoys from Kuwait…? [Sullivan’s point, I believe] Wouldn’t Shiite forces as a whole finally commence a campaign of eviction of the American occupier?” These are reasonable critiques, although I disagree that “the Israel lobby calls the shots in US foreign policy,” as Cockburn believes. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
NOTE (Sept. 15): Debat vigorously denied the allegations brought against him yesterday, and the examination has been extended to his reporting of the Jundullah affair in Pakistan, the reported US arming of the militant organization in an effort to spur regime change in Iran. The New York Times reports that ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross, “the correspondent who worked most closely with Mr. Debat, said the Jundullah story had many sources. ‘We’re only worried about the things Debat supplied, not about the substance of that story,’ he said. … So far, ABC has found nothing that would undermine the stories Mr. Debat worked on, Mr. Ross said last night. But he acknowledged that as the stories of fabrications continue to roll in, the network ‘at some point has to question whether anything he said can be believed.’”