Bombing Iran: What would Happen if the Hawks got their Way?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Some of those who believe that Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program is inevitably dual use (that it can be used to produce a nuclear weapon) are alarmed at the prospect of a diplomatic deal between Washington and Tehran that will allow Iran to continue enriching under inspections. After ten years, it is rumored, Iran would come to be treated by the UN Security Council like other signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, such as Japan. The more suspicious-minded can’t believe Iran would not take advantage of this situation to produce a nuclear bomb (even though Japan, e.g., has not).

I wrote in 2012 that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had given a speech in which he said:

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

He might be lying, but you can’t ignore that this is publicly stated Iran policy.

Some want to stop the Kerry-Zarif negotiations and ratchet up already severe sanctions on Iran as a way of forcing them to accept a deal even less favorable to themselves.

I wouldn’t assume that the sanctions are very important. Iran’s economy grew 4% in the last two quarters of 2014 and inflation fell to 17% from 40%. Although elements of the middle classes and the state tied to petroleum income have suffered, pistachio farmers and light manufacturers have made out like bandits because of a reverse Dutch disease The reduction of oil exports as a proportion of the country’s international trade has softened the riyal and made Iranian agricultural and manufactured goods more attractive to large Asian markets like India. The sanctions may in fact be doing Iranians a favor, reducing the oil curse.

I underline that the sanctions are bothersome, and maybe even a brake on growth over-all, but their impact is sectorial and not obviously a serious constraint on state action.

Another solution hawks such as former Representative Michele Bachmann put forward is a U.S. bombing raid on Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, and if necessary, continued such raids as needed.

What would happen if the US bombed Natanz, Fordow and Arak? (And did that regularly — yearly?– for a decade or two?)

Before I turn to the region, I want to say that my reading of John Mearsheimer’s Tragedy of Great Power Politics is that a scenario of regular air strikes on Iran without slipping into war isn’t plausible politically. Presidents and generals in the US are not there to contain a supposed threat with minimal intervention, they are there to win. Desultory bombing raids that go nowhere are bad for careers. We saw this in Libya, where the initial strategy was a no fly zone, but by August there was enormous public pressure on NATO to show a victory or go home. Moreover, Iran is not Gaza. It is a country nearly as populous as Germany and has among the bigger gross domestic products in the Middle East and an extensive scientific establishment. It wouldn’t want a direct confrontation but it would find ways to take revenge. But revenge would be intolerable to the US Establishment. Bombing Iran leads to war.

As for regional impact, let’s just take Iraq and Afghanistan. To the extent that US policy in those two countries works, it works because it is possible for major ethnic and political groups to be allied uneasily with both the US and Iran. I think a US bombing raid on Iran would destroy that possibility and ‘pitch the question.’

US Iraq policy as it is now constituted would completely fall apart. A US bombing raid on Iran would essentially be a rescue of ISIL in Iraq.

The Shiite militias in Iraq have had an ambiguous relationship with the US. The Badr Corps, an arm of Ammar al-Hakim’s Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, more or less allied with the US after 2003 against the Baath Sunni cells and budding al-Qaeda/ Islamic State. ISCI and Badr would certainly turn vehemently against the US in the aftermath of such a bombing. Badr has close relations with the IRGC and was once more or less a brigade of it.

Some 3,000 US officers and special ops troops are embedded with the Iraqi army, many of the officers and fighters of which have a Badr background.

So I’d expect significant green on blue attacks and perhaps much worse (suicide bombings at the new command HQ done by insiders).

Muqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades (formerly Mahdi Army) have had a checkered history in recent years. But they are gradually being mobilized against ISIL, despite a pause announced by Sadr in mid-February because Shiite militiamen went wild and killed Sunni leader Qasim al-Janabi. They now want to join the planned Mosul offensive.

The Mosul offensive will require US air support. (With it, the Peshmerga took Sinjar and the YPG defended Kobane. Without it, thousands of Iraqi troops and militiamen are presently stalled outside the small city of Tikrit; the latter may fall, but it didn’t fall easily).

In short, bombing Iran would likely break up the uneasy alliance of convenience that now exists, and probably cause some US troops to be massacred in Baghdad and the rest to have to be withdrawn. The Iraqi army would not get rebuilt, at least not by the US. Baghdad and the south would be decisively pushed into Iran’s arms,.

Without US close air support, the weak Iraqi army and Shiite militias would not likely prevail against a big Sunni city like Mosul (pop. 2 mn. last year this time), even with Iranian help– at least for a long time. ISIL would likely survive in Mosul for years, with deleterious security implications for Europe. It is important that ISIL be dealt some significant defeats sooner rather than later, so as to nip its growing popularity in the bud.

The Hazaras and Tajiks in the Afghanistan officer corps might well choose Iran over the US, with green on blue violence and a forced withdrawal of American troops. Hazaras are Shiites tied to Iran, and Tajiks share a language with Iran and have been close to Tehran politically since the 1990s, as an alternative to Pakistan which they don’t forgive for supporting the Taliban int he 1990s. Hazaras and Tajiks predominate in the current Afghanistan officer corps and in the ranks. Only 2% of the Afghanistan National Army is from the Sunni Pashtun provinces of Helmand and Qandahar. Without the US, however, it is unclear whether the ANA can stand by itself against the neo-Taliban.

Leaving behind a relatively stable Afghanistan, forestalling a second march of Taliban into Kabul, and ousting ISIL from Sunni Iraq and trying to put the country back together are stated US military and foreign policy goals. They are profoundly imperiled by an Iran strike.

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Related video:

TheLipTV from last Dec.: “Michele Bachmann Tells Obama to Bomb Iran”

44 Responses

  1. It is frightening that our leaders who make such drastic decisions, like pre-emptive wars, do not think through the consequences of such actions, and do not have the foresight to realize most times it backfires on us. Afghanistan is still controlled by the Taliban (we were supposed to go in there to get Bin Laden, not fight the Taliban) and Iraq has become a nightmare. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but he was able to prevent exactly what is going on right now. It seems the neocons and zionists who keep pushing for US to bomb Muslim nations, do not care how their arrogant plans for war finally ends up, because their kids will not be fighting any. We should be ashamed of what we have done to Afghanistan and Iraq, and looking at the miserable results of these attacks, are they not intelligent enough to realize doing the same thing and expecting different results, is the most stupidest thing to do?
    Iran is not like Iraq, and will respond in ways that will make Bibi’s head spin in Tel Aviv, and Americans will be in more danger around the world. It is strange that they only have War in their one track minds, no thought of any alternatives, or talk of peace.

  2. The “hawks” are for the most part believers in the so-called Rapture or in Dominionism. The greatest danger to our constitution…when their agenda is to bring about a theocracy. They certainly believe that the end justifies the means to accomplish their plans for “the rest of us”. When our foreign policy for the Middle East has been built on the shaky platform of the Rapture for most of the existence of Israel…and with that comes the desire to destroy all of Islam so Jesus can come… the US has no ground to stand on when it makes deals. Those T-baggers in Congress one and all have this agenda for this country. To destroy “we the people” and replace it with a religious dictatorship. Give them time and they will work out the details!
    Thank you for truth telling!

  3. “…is that a scenario of regular air strikes on Iran without slipping into war isn’t plausible politically. ”

    Do you realize how insane that sounds? How is regular bombing of a country not war? Imagine what it would be called if Iran bombed USA in the same way.

    • I think Cole meant slipping into full-scale, ground-force war in distinction to ‘just’ bombing.

      • I understood what Cole meant, but words have meaning. If you think bombing isn’t really war then it’s a lot easier to start bombing (and act surprised and outraged if the other country strikes back).

  4. The political demonetization of Iran continues. Netanyahu is allowed to present a case for more sanctions without allowing Iran to defend their position, resembling a kangaroo court or vigilante justice.

    Republican senators are sending a letter to the Iranian leadership telling them any agreement reached with Obama will be abandoned after Obama leaves office. The senator from Wisconsin is already calling for war with Iran as fellow warmonger Lindsey Graham continues to praise his president, Netanyahu.

    All are ominous signs of another needless neocon inspired war pushed on a war weary public. If history does repeat itself we can look for Condi Rice to resurrect her mushroom cloud warning.

    • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the organizer of the letter warning Iran, openly advocates for “regime change” in Iran.

      He apparently is an Iraq war vet that has not yet learned the lessons of the Iraq war or any wars in the Mideast.

      HINT: any time the US tries to change the regimes in the Mideast, it ends up with a new government that hates the USA even more than the previous one. But only after the USA wastes huge amounts of American lives and USA wealth.

      Just like Cotton would fiercely resist any nation that invaded the USA, Iranians will do the same and contrary to popular belief, the USA does have very strict economic and manpower limits on its ability to fight wars. Eventually the USA runs out of cannon fodder, war toys and wealth and has to stop the war. Just like Russia was a “bridge too far” for the Nazis, Iran could prove to be just as bad for the USA (much to China’s joy).

      • Just like Cotton would fiercely resist any nation that invaded the USA,

        I wouldn’t bet on that. He is probably what Bob Altemeyer (link to home.cc.umanitoba.ca) calls an “authoritarian follower” and I wouldn’t put it past him or our leading neocons to switch to whatever might become the prevailing authoritarian regime.

  5. Great analysis Prof. Cole. The problem is that most US politicians, and the US government, don’t think things through in such detail. Look at the Iraq war. Look at Libya. Look at Syria. Look at the Ukraine. The US has turned into the Fred Flintstone of modern diplomacy. A bumbling, simple country whose leadership acts as if they are in the stone age.

  6. gosh, the war mongers are really in a fix. caught between sunni iraq and iran. sounds like not much has changed since the 1980s.

    my solution. walk away. stop picking at the zit. actually zit is not right. open wound is more accurate. stop operating on the open wound with a dirty kitchen knife. wrap it up and hope for the best.

    bombing the hell out of mosul…no good will come of it. bombing anything in iran. beyond beyond crazy. crazy, crazy.

  7. Any attack on Iran would have to be preceded by a leadership change in Iraq. Ayad Allawi, a former PM of Iraqi with American intelligence ties currently heads the largest parliamentary bloc, the Iraqi National List.

    Advantages:

    As head of the largest parliamentary bloc it’d be possible to argue that he should be PM; he’s Shia, so it’d be possible to argue the Shi’ites should support him; his coalition had Sunni members, so it’d be possible to argue that he’s best positioned to bring about reconciliation; he’s a former Iraqi PM, so it’d be possible to argue he has the necessary skills; he has previously decried Iranian influence, so it’d be possible to argue he has sufficient anti-Iran credentials.

    He’s managed to keep his coalition together, now, for 10 years. Given he has no obvious source of revenue, one could speculate he’s still on the CIA payroll, and maintains a large patronage network.

    Risks:

    Clearly, such a move would require massive US covert efforts and even more massive bribes.

    Given that Badr has traditionally gone with the winner, I suspect they could be bought off with particular ministries. But, would they stand still if the US subsequently attacked Iran? The same Iran that has such close ties to Badr? That seems to be a long shot. The Sadr army, however, has traditionally been averse towards any overt cooperation with the US or any collaboration with Allawi. Muqtada al Sadr would have to be assassinated and the organization would have to be violently suppressed. The Sadr army has grass roots support and suppressing it, while at the same time dealing with Daesh would be the major difficulty.

    It would be a risky move, but if successful, it would pave the way for a sustained bombing campaign of Iran. To be successful, Allawi would have to maintain proper lip service in support of US goals, and Allawi would have to use the necessary means to establish firm control of non-Daesh regions.

    The long-term consequences would likely be an ever more violent environment for the people living in the region and an increase in the possibility of another 911-style attack against the US. On the other hand, the US would have more control of world-wide oil production.

      • True. I’ll amend my comment:

        “currently heads the largest parliamentary bloc” –> “lead the largest parliamentary bloc after the last parliamentary election, though it was Maliki that ultimately that formed the government”.

  8. Neocons love the idea of an ISIL-dominated northern & central Iraq and Shiite Iran and southern Iraq going to war against one another. Why wouldn’t they? They fomented, supplied, and coordinated the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The Middle East is much more of a tinderbox now than it was then, so the consequences would be far worse, of course, as described above. Juan doesn’t mention Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Turkey, and the Gulf States, but they would be affected too, if not directly involved. Obama and the sane party realize all this and are doing the right thing by trying to defuse the situation, while the insane GOP wants to explode it like they did with Iraq in 2003. The neocons and GOP and Likud are all sadistic opportunistic nihilists who think they’ll profit from the absolute misery and destruction of an all-out war in the Middle East.

    • If you hate and fear Islam as much as the neocons do, mightn’t a massive Sunni-Shi’a war be exactly what you want? The objective would be to do to Islam what the Thirty Years’ War did to Christianity.

      • I see this as more a post-colonial power restructuring than a religious war.

        Eventually the restructuring will be finished, THEN they will turn their anger on the countries that oppressed them for over 200 years (primarily UK, France USA and Israel – I think Turkey will escape major retribution).

        Basically the “religious war” will not last very long because the younger generations want to live good lives and are only marginally religious. The religious zealots will die off quickly and the “moderates” will settle things with negotiation. I can easily see a younger Saudi leadership and an Iranian leadership coming up with a power sharing agreement that benefits both societies in a competitive world with large economic blocks.

        The bif losers in the ME, just as in the USA and EU will be the religious conservatives that will be marginalized at best and severely persecuted at worst. In EVERY country on earth religion is declining as part of everyday life.

  9. We are no longer living in an age of iron warships. If the US initiated hostilities they would, in the first half hour, find whatever vessels they had in the Persian Gulf sunk by missiles. That would be a wake-up for the public.

    • Any USA ships in the Persian gulf are sitting ducks.

      Iranian subs are equipped with supercavitating torpedoes that give any ship in the gulf less than 30 seconds to say their prayers.

      Then there are all the anti-ship missiles on portable launchers that line the coast of Iran. While the USAF might get a few of the anti-ship systems, most will be missed.

      Then there is the high probability that Iran has at least one DF-21D “carrier killer” with a range of over 800 miles. This means that USA carriers have to stay at least 800 miles from Iran and means that every USA attack aircraft has to be refueled before it reaches the Iranian coast and after any bombing run, all while hoping Iran does not fire a long range S-400 antiaircraft missile at it.

      Note the US navy has NO defense against supercavitating torpedoes, anti-ship missile swarms or the DF21D “carrier killer.”

      So basically the US navy would be the fish in a barrel shoot.

      • We just need to start procuring the weapons technology to defeat the supercav torps and DF21s. Right away!

        • While there are lots of people that would be willing to waste huge amounts of US tax dollars trying to defy physics, the laws of physics are pretty strict.

          Supercav torpedoes go over 200 MPH meaning in the narrow parts of the Persian gulf, it takes very little time to get from a sub to a target, giving counter measures very little reaction time. And remember that Iranian subs are designed specifically to function very well in the Persian gulf, especially the shallow sections.

          The DF21D drops nearly straight down on a carrier at mach 10 and the precision of anti-missile systems is not that good.

          But the bottom line that Iran has figured out is a redesign of the old Nazi sub “wolf pack” concept. defense system on ships are naturally limited as to how much they can defend against and all Iran has to do is overload the USN defense systems and the n+1 attack will be very successful. The Iranians call this a “swarm,” and it is very effective. All Iran has to do is make lots of inexpensive devices and overload the USA. BTW – this is the same thing the USA did with “liberty ships” during WW2. only a portion of the ships had to get through the Nazis wolf packs to be successful.

        • sg, I was of course snarking about the money-futility inequality in our MIC and war planning. Even readers of Popular Mechanics ought to know about the specs of supercav torps and “anti-carrier” weapons and the idiotic vulnerabilities of our Great White Fleet. Thanks for expanding on them for other readers here. The calculus of our rulers in activities like the WW II North Atlantic convoys, “flood the zone and some of the tanks and munitions and food ought to get through un-torpedoed or un-shelled,” recurs in the themes of “Dr. Strangelove.” Continuity of “government” is all that counts, right? And expenditures?

  10. Antony Goddard

    It’s hard for people outside USA to understand any of this. Some may just hope Obama exerts quasi-dictatorial powers to sort GOP.

  11. As I noted in other comments about Iran, the USA is not even capable of a sustain bombing of Iran, let alone putting “boot on the ground.”

    A large number of any USA or Israeli aircraft sent to bomb Iran would not survive the encounter because Iran has very substantial anti-aircraft capability. Sure the USA could easily blow up a bunch of stuff (but not the nuclear facilities that are hardened against all but a nuclear bomb) and kill lots of Iranians, but the cost to the USA woudl be very high.

    A substantial number of the world’s oil terminals are within easy distance of Iran and once they are destroyed, it literally takes years to replace them, during which very little energy flows to the world. The USA is NOT self sufficient with oil and Canada woudl get much better prices for their oil from the rest of the world than the USA.

    As for “boots on the ground” keep the numbers, 25 to 30 million in mind. This is how many military capable people has (basically 75 million minus the too young and too old). Even if each one only killed one US soldier while being killed, that would destroy the US military, but the reality is each Iranian woudl probably kill more than one American. As CJ Chivers has noted in his excellent book “The Gun” there are over 100 million AK-47 (and equivalent weapons) on this earth at this moment with thousands being made each and every day, including in Iran.

    Iran has more than enough “war toys” to make Americans deeply regret attacking Iran. When the dust settles, the USA will have lots of dead and mangled people, huge debts and possibly a destroyed economy. Iran will also have lots of dead and destroyed economy, but it will also have nuclear weapons.

  12. So, Iran gets a nuclear bomb. What on earth can they do with it other than a highly unlikely option of committing suicide?

    • Iran could act like America, and make threats to nuke others…and actually nuke somebody. America is the only country to nuke anybody. That is why America is so afraid of Iran. America fears that Iran will act like America.

    • From a practical point of view, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it will checkmate the USA and Israeli power. Israelis will know that any aggression against Iran will ensure the end of Israel. Since Israelis are no more suicidal than Iranians, it would force Israel to re-think their belligerence. In other words the Israelis egos would be deflated a lot. Israelis have a big fear about losing power.

      The basic reality about nukes that no seems capable of understanding is they are only good for two things . . . committing suicide or keeping the USA from attacking you.

      The thing I find amusing about the whole demonetization of Iran by Israel and the USA is Israel has much more deadly opponents that they ignore.

      – Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and the ability to build or purchase missiles to deliver them to Israel and AQ Khan is selling nukes to many countries, including Saudi Arabia.

      – Saudi Arabia already has very accurate, nuclear capable, solid fuel (instant launch) DF-21C MRBM. Sure some are pointed at Iran, but the rest are pointed at . . . Israel. I wonder where that nuke is that the Saudis paid for?

      • Doubt Saudi Arabia, despite their recent tantrum or financing to fundamentalists, would risk their ties with the US by pointing nukes at Israel (even the thought that KSA or Iran would is ridiculous considering that the Palestinians, besides Jerusalem, still exist there).

        There’s that mutual destruction, since Israel is a nuclear state, which isn’t the case with Iran that can be attacked with no nuclear retaliation, and who KSA immensely hate. The animosity against Israel isn’t even close to that level. They probably have better understanding and civil relations than most think, such as suspected intelligence sharing.

        KSA’s even supporting Netanyahu’s crazy war mongering speech against Iran, delivered to Congress earlier. So KSA’s hardly an opponent that Israel needs to worry about compared relative to other surrounding Arab states and especially Iran (who support militant resistance to Israel), hence why they don’t publicly harp much on KSA’s deal with Pakistan, though still a worrisome development to Israeli hegemony.

  13. The other consideration about “yearly bombing runs” is that it assumes that Iran remains defenceless against those attacks, which is very highly unlikely.

    Take the Vietnam War: the first US bombing sorties faces heavy machinegun fire aims by hand. The last US bombing runs faces SAM missiles, MIG-21 fighter jets, radar-directed heavy AA guns, etc. etc.

    I mean, get real: the first USAF raids will be a cake-walk, but by the time the US had marked off more than a few return visits the Iranians will be given the very, very latest S-500 missiles and, in all likelihood, Russian “volunteers” to man them.

    • Unfortunately, the very first USA or IDF jets that approach the Iranian border will be dealing with the Iran clone of the Russian S-400 and the Iran clone of the Russian BUK. Then there are all the short range anti-aircraft missiles that back up the S-400 and BUK.

      Iran has been extremely paranoid about a USA attack for over 35 years and has had the wealth to invest in world class defense weapons, so attacking Iran is a very losing proposition.

      One byproduct of Saddam’s attack on Iran is Iran became determined to be self sufficient in production and deployment of the most deadly defense weapons the world has to offer. So, now Iran has a huge stockpile of very deadly defense weapons.

      Iran has also very carefully analyzed the US military (especially after the show the USA put on for them in Iraq and Afghanistan) and designed defense systems that hit the USA in all its weak points. For example, Iran realized that the USA had no way to defend against a swarm of incoming weapons. Sure, the USA might get one of the incoming munitions, but the second one will score. Also Iran figured out that thousands of very inexpensive, reasonably accurate missiles easily destroy a few hundred multi-million dollar aircraft (aircraft carriers only have about 60-80 operational aircraft).

      All in all, flying toward Iran should scare the brown stuff out of any USA pilot.

      • I doubt that very much. Iran’s current military is “low-tech but reliable”, and it is unlikely to be able to take a huge toll of USAF bombers.

        But regardless of how good (or, more likely, how hopeless) Iran’s air defences are today, the assumption that the USAF can just keep revisiting Iranian airspace year after year and **not** face ever-better air defences is the very definition of “tunnel vision”.

        Think about it: suppose the USAF does know how to neuter Iran’s current air defence systems.

        Hellooooo. The Iranians will surely notice, and they will take whatever steps are necessary to plug those holes.

        The first air raids will be the easiest.
        Every subsequent raid will be harder and harder.
        Eventually the airspace over Iran will simply be too hot.

        The question: what does the USA do then?

        • Like many, you discount Iran’s engineering and manufacturing abilities far, far too much.

          Both Iran and China got Russian S-300 systems through “alternative channels,” then promptly reverse engineered them and vastly improved them. Then China and Iran swapped improvements so now the systems each country manufactures is equal to or possible better than the Russian S-400 system (maybe even on par with the prototype S-500 systems).

          Look up the specs for the S-400 and then tell me that US aircraft will have a nice day. The S-400 can easily knock down both fighter bombers and high altitude strategic bombers like the B2 and B52. Remember that Russia designed the S-300/400/500 to specifically destroy ALL US aircraft.

          Note also that in addition to the S-400 long range systme, Iran has two more layers of defense. Medium range BUK system (the ones that are knocking aircraft from the sky in Ukraine) and many different short range systems. Iran is bristling with anti-aircraft capability, such that American pilots will not have a good chance of surviving.

          As for the Iranian subs, I have seen pictures – they are not as high tech as American subs but are very well designed for the area they operate in. They are more than a match for any US ships in the Persian gulf.

          Any US aircraft or ships that get too close to Iran will be in mortal danger from day one and Iran’s defenses will only improve over time as Russia and China use it as a test bed for anti-American weapons.

    • The neocons probably want to deal with the “crisis” in Ukraine before Iran. After all, Putin is not only challenging the neos coup, he has taken over a lot of territory. That’s a hot conflict and the situation between Iran, Iraq and Daesh is complicated.

    • The P5+1 group isn’t much different than the E.U. to the neocons and diplomats like Victoria (Fuck the E.U.) Nuland. What happened in Ukraine is just a taste of what might happen in Iran.

      “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” and we don’t need no stinkin’ laws. The war in Iraq proved that international laws are just for the little countries. The United States can start any war, anytime with anybody and nobody can do anything about it.

  14. Why oh why oh why is it that Israel and the United States have designated Iran as world public enemy 1? Iran has not attacked anybody in literally centuries.
    What does America and Israel have to gain by punking Iran? I honestly don’t get the purpose of the strategy.

    • Perhaps because Iran has a functional and explicitly Islamic government along with a reasonably functional economy (ie not an oil monoculture like Saudi Arabia)?

      • Does the Iranian legal system and financial sector operate under (sharp intake of breath) “Sharia Law?”

  15. Indeed, the US is well aware of the high cost of a strike on Iran. Reversing ISIS and keeping Afghanistan quiet are far more germane to US interests. Bumbling US efforts at managing dialogue prompt Israel and Iran to push other buttons in public. US, Israel, and Iran throw monologues at their own people when dialogue could have made a P5+1 deal by now: link to goo.gl

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