Summary

Recent events suggest that the United States may be making preparations to attack Iran.

Analysis
With the likely transfer of power in the November 2008 Presidential election this could be the last opportunity for hawkish elements in the US establishment to successfully implement their foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.

The National Intelligence Estimate put out in December 2007 stating that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003 suggests that there is a divide between those who influence American foreign policy. Some hold that an attack against Iran would further American dominance in the region while others see such a move as tying the country’s hands to Russian and South American political assertion.

Although there have been rumblings about attacking Iran for some time, the US has not been able to act due a lack of military capacity, Iranian military strength and Russian and Chinese diplomatic and military support for Iran.

Because troops are stretched thin any attack can be expected to be limited to targeted aerial strikes and cross border ‘in and out’ raids by ground troops.

A full on military assault and occupation is beyond the ability of the US military, which is currently occupied in Iraq and Afghanistan. Targeted strikes coupled with sanctions and global financial isolation could significantly weaken the country leaving it open to US influence, containment and future attacks, however.

Timeline of Events

The following events in recent weeks suggest that the US may be making preparations for an action against Iran:

  1. Iran announces that Russia will be providing it with a sophisticated air defense system that could counter a US air.
    http://geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/news/2008-03-03/iran-gets-quantum-boost-from-russian-missiles
  2. General William Fallon, an opponent of invading Iran described by Esquire Magazine as ‘The Man Between War and Peace’ abruptly resigns.
    http://geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/news/2008-03-12/us-emergency-regarding-iran-extended
  3. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Koffi Annan make separate statements that an invasion of Iran would be a ‘disaster’.
    http://geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/news/2008-03-20/military-action-in-iran-would-be-disaster-anna
    http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/news/2008-03-20/russia-warns-against-us-military-action-on-iran
  4. The US deploys a nuclear sub to the Persian Gulf
    http://geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/news/2008-03-24/us-deploys-nuclear-sub-to-persian-gulf

Marsha Reid is a contributor to Geopoliticalmonitor.com