The United States cannot take any military action against Iran. This is a result of Bush's incompetent leadership, which has left our military demoralized and over-extended, our people war-weary, and our country diplomatically compromised. I will explain why this is an obvious fact shortly, but before I do, I want to say that discussion that action against Iran is a possibility plays directly into the neo-con's hands. This is the theory of pre-emptive war: it only has to happen one time. After a nation proves that it will causally declare war, weaker nations will quake in fear at the threat of war. It may have worked if the invasion of Iraq had gone well, but it didn't, and the rest of the world knows it.
Is anybody suprised by the sabre-rattling? I am not, but I am suprised that few people can see through it. War is against Iran is impossible. Suggestions that it is possible advance a neocon narrative.
Why is it impossible to take military action against Iran?
First: Too many political risks. Many people blogging these days talk about how unstable Bush is, and how he will declare war at the drop of a hat. Were any of you people living in the US in 2003? Bush was not some maverick war-mad renegade, but rather, because the Democrats refused to engage in any kind of critical debate prior to the invasion, Bush took no short-term political risks in starting the Iraq war. I have been opposed to any action against Iraq since September 11, 2001. When the issue was first raised after the attacks, it just made me laugh, thinking how confused people can get. Now, seeing how things have unfolded since then has made me ashamed of this fickle people, but in March 2003, 2/3 of the US population supported the invasion of Iraq.
Today, consequences of declaring war against Iran are huge, in the short-term, and the neo-con cabal that run this government have proven themselves to be pandering political cowards. They don't have the courage to take real, short-term political risks.
Second: To paraphrase the '92 Clinton campaign, "It's Iraq, stupid." The only coherent military and diplomatic goal of this administration is to stabilize Iraq, and to limit US casualties. The Bush government cannot afford a major destabilization of Iraq, especially at this time. Bombing Iran may slow the Iranian development of nuclear weapons. Doubtful, but possible. But what would this do to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan? Iran, bordering both countries, is in a position to seriously fuck with US occupation forces, and that is one thing that Bush cannot risk politically. More dangerous, it would lead to popular revolts against US occupation in both countries. This is obvious and inevitable.
Third: "It's gas prices, stupid." Any military action against Iran would lead to huge increases in the price of oil. This would be speculative. The US would control the waters of the gulf, including the Strait, and its airspace, within hours of an attack on Iran, and oil would still easily flow from SA and the emirates. But the markets would react violently, and this could threaten the global economy.
A more immediate risk to US energy interests is Venezuela. Oil from Venezuela accounts for almost 20% of US imports, and Chavez, the president of Venezuela has stated emphatically that if the US bombs Iran, all oil to the US would be cut off. It takes 3 days to get a tanker from Venezuela to the US. It takes weeks from Saudi Arabia. The neocons know that we cannot risk losing Venezuelan oil.
There are a lot of other reasons why no military action against Iran can be taken. The cartoon riots throughout the Muslim world come to mind. All this Iran war sabre-rattling is neo-con ego, and empty posturing, sound and fury signifying nothing.