War, historically speaking, never goes the way the American public senses it will. Everyone on both sides of the War Of Northern Aggression thought the war would last three or four months and it would all be over quite quickly in fact. General William Tecumseh Sherman issued a very grim report before the war started stating it might take nine hundred thousand soldiers to fight the war, and win it. He was censured, laughed at, and more or less shipped off to nowhere before it became very clear the war was not going to end either soon or bloodlessly. Here in The South, most consider Sherman to be a war criminal but I consider him to be someone who understood how to fight a war in an effort not just to be victorious in battle, but to destroy his opponent’s ways, means, and most importantly, their will to fight.
Militarily speaking, we have neither the ways nor the means, to eliminate Iran’s will to wage war against the United States or Israel. More importantly the moral imperative to dictate who should or should not develop a nuclear weapon does not belong to a nation who cannot explain why it invaded Iraq. America’s failed and confusing foreign polices from the Bush II years invites a vacuum to be filled. If we continue to lack clear leadership, cohesive vision, and a stable economy we will continue to be ignored, and rightfully so, by the minor players of the world who seek to gain from our losses. When it becomes clear to the rest of the world the United States is nothing more than a squabbling cesspool of politicians who can and will be counted on serving the interest of private defense contractors over the fate of the nation they can also rightly assume we cannot and will not take any role of leadership in our alliances and treaties.
With America in more debt that at any other time in history even a war in which we might in some way claim victory would still be a defeat. We can no longer afford to fight, even in those times, should they arrive, we cannot afford not to. Whether or not Iran has the will to force the issue is subject to debate or time, but clearly Iran can afford to start a war in the Middle East much more readily than we can afford to fight it. In an all-out, set piece battle, Iran would likely lose much of their hard earned infrastructure, but just as surely as America invests in replacing those assets used and lost in that war, we too would lose even more. Every dime spent trying to keep Iran from expanding their military doesn’t keep Iran from doing anything at all, yet it is tax money not spent on America’s already crumbling bridges and roads. As we lose the ability to fund education in the name of an arms race with Iran that we cannot win, we lose the education race with developing nations who are at peace with their neighbors and the world.
In a worst case scenario, an American backed air raid on Iran goes terribly wrong resulting in the loss of Israeli aircraft and the capture of pilots. The resulting missile duel between the two nations causes massive amounts of damage to both countries. An American carrier is sunk after a swarm attack of small attack boats and missiles in the Gulf of Hormuz. An American president who is politically vulnerable and a Congress that is morally bereft cannot come to terms on what war means and what victory ought to look like. An American populace who is divided along partisan push button yet ultimately senseless issues does not have the will to back any plan that is forwarded. Gasoline skyrockets to ten dollars a gallon. Interstate trucking dies. Air flight becomes a very rare commodity. School buses grind to a stop. Cities have food riots as farmers cannot afford the fuel to harvest or ship food. America becomes the Soviet Union, 1990, a superpower with all the right toys, but with none of the supporting networks of technology or infrastructure or education to sustain or maintain the status of a Superpower.
Iran, ultimately, wins this war. With fuel prices higher than ever they can rebuild more quickly and they are more self-sufficient than America. America cannot afford to pay for fuel that is not only scarce but has the added weight of speculators driving the prices higher and higher. With Israel in ruins, there are billions upon billion needed there for defense and rebuilding, but how? The European countries are still in recession. Russia sees allies in our enemies. China and India both see a vacuum.
This is a bleak but accurate assessment of the future based on over thirty-five years in study of both history and American foreign policy. War cannot be avoided when both sides see victory as inevitable. War cannot be avoided when peace is not a goal pursued actively by all parties. War cannot be avoided when violence has become the preferred and accepted form of foreign policy even at the determent of the nation.
When all the answers end in war then it is only a matter of time before the question is asked.
The future of this nation, the existence of Israel, the political map of the Middle East, and the global economy at this very moment hangs in the balance of a nation that cannot balance its budget, support its fuel consumption, rein in special interest groups during elections, or for that matter, educate its children.
Iran has but to fight the war for we have already lost it.