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Published on August 4th, 2010 | by Eli Clifton


Patrick Disney Describes The Day After the US Bombs Iran

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Patrick Disney, the former Assistant Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council, has written a great piece responding to Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon’s Washington Post op-ed, which Tony Karon described as “a ‘how-to-bomb Iran’ manual.”

(Ali discussed the increasingly hawkish rhetoric coming out of the Council on Foreign Relations in his blog post Monday.)

Disney’s critical analysis of Takeyh and Simon’s article concludes that a bombing campaign of the type proposed by the CFR scholars would have disastrous effects.

Disney writes:

First, there is no military option short of a full-blown invasion and occupation. Even if all of Iran’s nuclear facilities can be located, and even if they can all be destroyed with surgical air strikes, the ruling hardliners will just rebuild them — only this time without the contraints of the IAEA.

Indeed, no proposed air strike would permanently destroy Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions and would probably exacerbate already tense U.S.-Iran and Iran-Israel relations.

He continues:

Secondly, and most disappointingly, Takeyh and Simon’s analysis totally ignores the devastating impact an attack would have on the long-term prospect of democracy in Iran. Iranians last summer took to the streets in the most passionate outbreak of popular dissatisfaction since the 1979 revolution. Those who know their history viewed the events of last year as the latest step in Iran’s democratic evolution — a process that began over 100 years ago with the constitutional revolution of 1906. Although the street protests have died down and the democracy movement is in some disarray, it is clearly still a factor in Iran. Unfortunately, dropping bombs on Iran now is the surest way to uproot any hope for peaceful democratic change in the country. The hardliners will most likely use an act of foreign aggression as justification for a brutal crackdown, and the focus of political discourse will shift away from questions of internal reforms and regime legitimacy toward external threats and the need to rally the nation’s defenses.

While Takeyh and Simon may have the luxury of discussing their hypothetical best-case scenarios for bombing Iran, Disney draws a believably dismal picture of what a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities might bring.

An Iranian regime which has quit the IAEA, crushed its domestic opposition and turned its nuclear program into a symbol of avenging the countless deaths from an Israeli or American air strike is a frightening thought, but one which — no thanks to alarmists such as Takeyh and Simon — could become a reality.

Disney concludes:

With the anti-Iran rhetoric at a fever pitch in Washington, it’s easy to forget sometimes just how remote of a threat Iran’s nuclear program actually is. According to numerous unclassified assessments by the U.S. Intelligence Community, Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear bomb, and the US and international community still has time to convince them not to. The three to five years an attack would gain now will most certainly not be worth the cost it would incur: a non-democratic Iran with an overt nuclear weapons program and a vendetta against Western powers who attacked it.

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About the Author


Eli Clifton is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute who focuses on money in politics and US foreign policy. He previously reported for the American Independent New Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.

44 Responses to Patrick Disney Describes The Day After the US Bombs Iran

  1. Pingback: Costs of Sanctions Could Trigger ‘Military Option’ « Antiwar.com Blog

  2. avatar l sweet says:

    Show Iran who’s boss….period.

  3. I was for nearly 20 years a US NRC nuclear inspector (concentrating on non-proliferation and terrorist attacks, security,etc…), and for 2.5 years an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards inspector, responsible for Chernobyl and the plants in Kazakhstan.
    Having stated my background, it’s my opinion that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, they don’t have one now, and at any rate, any country with 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium or plutonium AND with access to the unclassified internet in theory has a weapons program. It’s not rocket science folks, just slam 2 chunks of HEU together like the Hiroshima bomb. You probably don’t even need high explosives to accomplish a nuclear explosion…
    But the main thing is, why does the US consider Iran its enemy after all the numerous overtures by Iran to re-establish diplomatic and cordial relations?
    Non-proliferation really has no military solution, and if someone wants to point at Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear research site for an example of success…well the Iraqi site Israel bombed was unsuitable to produce fissile materials, and the Israeli attack only encouraged the Iraqis to develop a clandestine nuclear program.

  4. avatar John Ellis says:

    Gutless wonder that we be, this is the first time our Empire has created a state of war with a world-class military. Reflect on what Hezbollah did to our client state Israel, and grasp the reality that such a humility could happen to us.

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