British academics warn US is preparing “shock and awe” attack on Iran

An 80-page study written by two British security analysts and released on August 28 makes a chilling estimation of the overwhelming force that the US would use in the event of any attack on Iran. “The US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days, if not hours, of President George W. Bush giving the order,” the paper declared.

The authors, Dr Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher, concluded on the basis of publicly available sources that “US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets within Iran in a few hours. US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.”

(continuing)
Both Plesch and Butcher have written extensively on security and international relations. Plesch is director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies. The study, entitled “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” made no estimate of Iran’s nuclear programs—the nominal pretext for a US war—and reached no definitive conclusion as to the likelihood of an attack. But it did outline the Pentagon’s extensive preparations and examined probable US military strategies.

Plesch and Butcher assessed that any US military attack would not be limited to Iran’s nuclear facilities, but would aim to eliminate its ability to strike back by destroying its military capacities and economic infrastructure. “Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focussed on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact,” they stated.

The paper examined the Pentagon’s Global Strike plans developed under the Bush administration to enable the US military to strike anywhere around the world at short notice. Since 2001 in particular, the role of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), previously a nuclear deterrent against the Soviet Union, has been modified to “enable the seamless delivery of tailored effects, anywhere and anytime, across the globe…. The US has strategic forces prepared to launch massive strikes on Iran within hours of the order being given.”

Plesch and Butcher analyzed the available types of US bombers and conventional bombs and calculated that 100 strategic bombers, each with 100 “smart” bombs, would be enough to hit 10,000 individual targets. “This strike power alone is sufficient to destroy all major Iranian political, military, economic and transport capabilities,” the authors conclude. “Such a strike would take ‘shock and awe’ to a new level and leave Iran with few if any conventional military capabilities to block the straits of Hormuz or provide conventional military support to insurgents in Iraq.”

The study all but ruled out the US use of nuclear weapons, declaring that “the human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.” But the authors did acknowledge “clear evidence that nuclear weapons use [against Iran] is being given serious political consideration” in the US. And while stating that a US or British nuclear attack on Iran was “most unlikely,” Plesch and Butcher did not think it impossible. They calculated that nearly three million “prompt deaths” would occur in the event that 300 kiloton nuclear bombs were dropped on just 11 suspected Iranian WMD sites.

A substantial portion of the paper dealt with the various US options, using military forces already in place within the region, to counter Iranian responses to a US attack. “Iran has a weak air force and anti-aircraft capability, almost all of it is 20-30 years old and it lacks modern integrated communications. Not only will these forces be rapidly destroyed by US air power, but Iranian ground and air forces will have to fight without protection from air attack,” the authors stated.

The paper noted the existence of standing US war plans to counter any blockade of the strategic straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, and to seize the western Iranian province of Khurzestan, where the bulk of the country’s oil production occurs. It detailed the ability of the US military in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan to devastate forces and bases inside Iran hundreds of kilometers from the border without a ground invasion. It cited a variety of sources pointing to covert US operations already taking place inside Iran to identify targets and foment armed rebellion among ethnic and religious minorities.

Considering the question “how likely is an attack?” the authors pointed out: “The [US] administration has steadfastly refused to remove the military option from the table, and has continued to prepare to go to war. Congress rejected a proposal to require the president to consult it before going to war with Iran.” The study cited a number of menacing comments by senior Bush officials this year, as well as belligerent anti-Iranian statements by Republican and Democrat presidential candidates. It also noted Congressional moves for tougher measures against Tehran.

The authors rebutted many of the arguments commonly advanced as reasons why the US would not launch an attack on Iran. They assessed the likelihood of a compromise over Iran’s nuclear programs as “extremely remote” as “the United States refuses to offer any form of security guarantee to Iran, and indeed is actively engaged in attempts to undermine Iranian authorities.” As to the European Union’s attempts to broker a deal, “privately, and not so privately, senior US officials … deride the EU’s efforts as futile.”

Responding to those who point out the US military is bogged down in Iraq and lacks troops, the study stated: “Army overstretch from long-term deployments in Iraq is a significant problem, but providing forces for a short duration war (following the pattern of the initial invasion of Iraq) would be much less of a problem. Iran has little ability for conventional military attack outside its own territory, allowing the US considerable scope to sit back and await internal developments after the type of attacks described in this paper.”

The paper also considers Iran’s capacity to retaliate in other ways, either directly against US allies like Israel and US bases or indirectly by encouraging unrest among Iraqi Shiites. The authors regarded such arguments as strengthening the military case for an overwhelming, rather than limited, US attack. They pointed out that Iran retained some options for counter-missile strikes and had closely observed US military operations around its borders. “At the same time, the US armed forces have been preparing for this contingency for many years and it would be hard to be the military commander telling President Bush that Iran is just not ‘doable.’”

Plesch and Butcher did not make any predictions about a war, but they did note that the lack of publicity surrounding US military preparations was no guarantee against a US attack. “US military, if not political, readiness for a war using minimum ground forces indicates that the current seeming inaction surrounding Iran is misleading. The United States retains the ability—despite difficulties in Iraq—to undertake major military operations against Iran. Whether the political will exists to follow such a course of action is known only to a few senior figures in the Bush administration.”

Plesch and Butcher made no attempt to analyze the underlying economic and strategic reasons for a US attack on Iran or to consider in detail the potential for it triggering a broader war. Their study in no way challenged the escalating US propaganda campaign concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programs. The real motivation for a reckless, new US war on Iran lies in the Bush administration’s attempts to establish unfettered American dominance in the resource-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia. Any outcome that allows America’s European and Asian rivals to strengthen their influence in these key regions is simply intolerable to the US ruling elite.

The rather limited scope of the study only makes its conclusion all the more disturbing: the military preparations that would allow the Bush administration to reduce much of Iran to rubble at short notice have already been completed.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed.
© Copyright Peter Symonds, wsws.org, 2007

17 thoughts on “British academics warn US is preparing “shock and awe” attack on Iran

  1. nwmuse, thank you very much for posting this. Can anyone imagine what this would do to the Iranian people to innocent civilians? This has to be stopped.

  2. I can tell you who can’t imagine what it would do to innocent Iranians or care for that matter, Bush and his cronies could care less.

  3. Like I posted on Willy’s site in regards to all the permanent bases going up not only in Iraq, but in central Asia as well: When does protecting foreign interests turn into imperial expansionism?

  4. When does protecting foreign interests turn into imperial expansionism?

    Its all in the PNAC plan, as I have posted on BBSs and blogs since that website went up in 1997.

    These people planned this, from within the Government, Corporate Media, and the Reich Wing of the Republican Party.
    The same faction that planned treason in WWII to over throw theUS from within.
    Grandpa Bush was a Nazi sympathizer.

  5. Our automated spam filter doesn’t like comments with links but no text. Perhaps you could add an explanation to where the link is going the next time. Thanks for the tip. – Admin.
    Sorry ZOOEY

  6. In case you are wondering, most modern “shock and awe” attacks are carried out on the eve’s morning of a new moon. That provides a minimum of ambient light as well as a three day window. Here are the full/new moon cycles extending into 2012: http://www.ewpnet.com/full-moon.htm . The next open date is October 10th.
    That being said, as a courtesy to any incoming administration, Bill Clinton suspended all international incidents from October 2000 to the end of his term. In direct contrast, GWB is purposely leaving his own mess for the next administration to clean up. I only pray that he does not screw it up even more by attacking Iran.

  7. Who First Discovered Nuclear Power?
    Nuclear radiation?
    Nuclear Anything?
    what the h*ll is Nuclear?
    oh well, kill kill kill kill kill.
    there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD,
    Sorry Admin, Just trying to Brainwash myself.
    (even though I Know there is A God.).
    (freedumb on the other hand is nothing more than the Separation of Us From God).
    there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, there is no GOD, …

  8. WaltTheMan
    September 16th, 2007 at 3:58 pm
    modern “shock and awe” attacks are carried out on the eve’s morning of a new moon.
    That being said, Most is not All.
    modern “shock and awe” attacks CAN & WILL BE carried out ANYTIME.
    Sorry Walt.
    once freedumbs have been given , they cannot be taken away.
    America is Armageddon.
    read here.
    http://www.audio-bible.com/bible/revelation_16.html
    16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

  9. gotfreedumb,
    The three most rercent shock and awe incidents were started on the eve’s morning of a new moon.They were Clinton in Bosnia, and the two Bushes in Iraq. The six days war was carried out under a full moon as one could see the exhausts of jets and turbos best at that point in history when the sky was darkest and the Arabs left the lights on at their air bases at night.

  10. I Know that Walt.
    All I was trying to say is that Tactics can be Changed.
    I think the war with Iran will Start in Oct or Nov.
    Time is not on Repugs Side.
    They,ll try ANYthing.

  11. gotfreedumb,
    At that point in time it would be a daylight raid or a bright moonlit evening depending on the time base. But then what are two or three Stealth Bombers as a sacrifice? That is merely 6-9 airmen and $10,000,000,000-$15,000,000,ooo worth of hardware for a purely symbolic gesture.

  12. Walt,, Thats all Bushcos Want. A FRICKEN symbolic gesture.
    Stupid if you ask me.
    This is exactly why My name is GoTFreedumb.
    Jesus said”Let He(or,she) Who is without Sin(Freeof Sin) Cast the first stone.
    America is not free of sin.
    we,re in trouble.
    Peace Walt. Thats what Jesus wanted.

  13. Also Walt, At that point in time it would be a daylight raid or a bright moonlit evening depending on the time base.
    Perfect for the News Cameras.

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