‘Strike may halt Iran's nuke program’

American-Israeli sociologist calls for a “different military option.”

May 30, 2010 04:39
2 minute read.
Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A military strike on Iranian military bases, airports, bridges, railroad stations and other key infrastructure could lead Iran to suspend its nuclear arms program, according to a paper that came out last week in a US Army publication.

Titled “Can a Nuclear-Armed Iran Be Deterred?” the article, which appeared in the current edition of Military Review, was written by American-Israeli sociologist and George Washington University professor Amitai Etzioni.

Attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities might not be effective, the Palmach veteran and Hebrew University alumnus writes, since, as opponents of such a strike argue, the location of key facilities may not be known, the facilities are well protected, and some are in heavily populated areas and bombing them would cause a great number of civilian casualties.

As a result, he calls for a “different military option.”

“The basic approach seeks not to degrade Iran’s nuclear capacities (the aim of bombing) but to compel the regime to change its behavior, by causing ever-higher levels of ‘pain,’” Etzioni writes.

Neither Israel nor the United States has ever publicly spoken about the targets that they would bomb if they decide to attack Iran. Most military thinkers have spoken about only targeting nuclear facilities and military sites that could be used by Teheran to retaliate.

Such a strike would come after Iran fails to live
up to its international obligations and open up its nuclear facilities to inspections. The next step, Etzioni recommends, would be to bomb non-nuclear military assets such as the headquarters and encampments of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as air defense installations, radar sites, missile sites and navy vessels that could be used to stop the flow of oil to the West.

If this campaign fails, Etzioni recommends bombing dual-use assets such as bridges and railroad stations. If a further tightening of screws is needed, then the attacker could declare Iran a no-fly zone like part of Iraq was even before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in 2003.

“This kind of military action is akin to sanctions – causing ‘pain’ in order to change behavior, albeit by much more powerful means,” the sociologist writes.

Etzioni shoots down those who say that any military action against Iran will help the regime in Iran suppress opposition and solidify its rule. “A weakening of the regime, following the military strikes, may provide an opening for the opposition,” he wrote.

Etzioni warns that time is running out and that “we cannot delay action much longer if we are to prevent Iran from crossing a threshold after which a military option will become much more dangerous to implement – for us and for them.”

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