The answer of course is that nobody knows for sure how Iran will retaliate if its nuclear sites are bombed.
There are many speculations, ranging from all out missile attacks at American bases and Israel, to no response at all, but instead a race to build a nuclear bomb.
Below the possible context of the regime's worldview is outlined in order to raise the issue that Iran may retaliate on a level that the State Department and the Pentagon may have not war gamed for.
We are all aware of the constant war drums that have been beating since September 11, 2001 and which have now reached a level on par with the lead up to the attack on Iraq. Below are just some of the headlines over the past couple of weeks followed by short excerpts.
"At the Precipice of War: U.S. Military Build-Up Accelerates in the Persian Gulf"
Iran already finds itself under siege from a lethal trifecta comprised of U.S.-led cyber attacks, Israeli-led assassinations, and oppressive Western economic sanctions. The latter of which has left ordinary Iranians to confront a toxic mix of ballooning inflation and rampant unemployment. In short, as Conn Hallinan writes at Counterpunch, the West is “already at war with Iran.”
But much like the attempted torpedoing of Japan’s economy prior to the Second World War, the current attempt to bring Iran to its knees via economic sanctions may very well be designed to draw an attack from Iran–thus creating a justification for a full-fledged U.S. military campaign to impose “regime change.”
A defeated and placated Iran able to be enveloped more fully into the U.S.-dominated capitalist system thus holds great potential for global capitalism’s needed regeneration. Of course, in seizing control over Iran’s energy resources, the U.S. and its allies would also come to possess a monopoly over the Middle East’s energy resources–a strategic key in any future conflict with rivals Russia and China.
"Tightening the Noose on Iran"
The drive to demonize Iran might well be considered little more than Washington theater of the absurd in an election year, but it is deadly serious. War with Iran might unleash forces best left undisturbed, and the consequences for U.S. forces in the Middle East could be grave. And then there is the frail global economy, which hardly needs an oil shock.
But the beat goes on about the threat posed by Iran, orchestrated by groups like AIPAC and repeated verbatim by politicians and the mainstream media. Evidently the half-truths and out-and-out lies have convinced a lot of people that Iran is rightfully the enemy.
To go to war a second time in ten years over nothing would be shameful, but it is clear that no one in Washington who matters is resisting the stampede.
"Persian Gulf Primed to Explode"
From Tehran's vantage point, it scored big points in recent drills that convinced the West of its vastly improved missile capability, contrary to various US expert studies that have painted a different picture, citing the Iranian missiles' lack of precision and relatively low payload. Confronted by a more lethal adversary than previously thought, the US is now treading a fine line by relying on its military muscle to deter any Iranian "asymmetrical" provocation that could see oil prices soar.
"Iranians Should Be ‘Very Fearful For Next 12 Weeks: Ex-Mossad Chief"
Asked whether he believed the Israeli government wanted a diplomatic solution, he answered: “I’m not sure every Israeli wants a diplomatic solution… I’m not sure that the government is entirely behind this support for a diplomatic solution.”
"The Power of War Propaganda on Iran, and How It Works: 80% of Americans think Iran’s nuclear program threatens the US"
This is a monumental success of war propaganda.
The threat from Iran is manufactured.
So can the politicians and the media still be blamed for spreading falsehoods about Iran? In a word, yes. Former CIA officer Paul Pillar, when writing about the misinformation campaign to sell the Iraq war, explained it was “less a matter of instilling any specific mistaken belief than of instilling a mood and momentum.” It was “at least as much a matter of rhetorical themes as of manipulated evidence. The belief was cultivated by repeatedly uttering ‘Iraq,’ ’9/11′ and ‘war on terror’ in the same breath.” Despite the official position that Iran has no weapons program and has not demonstrated an intention to build one, the whole of the political, military, and media elite are constantly regurgitating lines about blocking “Iran” from obtaining “nuclear weapons.”
"In Hiroshima's Shadow"
The war against Iran is already well underway, including assassination of scientists and economic pressures that have reached the level of, "undeclared war," in the judgment of the Iran specialist Gary Sick.
The current escalation of the, "undeclared war," against Iran increases the threat of accidental large-scale war. Some of the dangers were illustrated last month when a U.S. naval vessel, part of the huge deployment in the Gulf, fired on a small fishing boat, killing one Indian crew member and wounding at least three others. It would not take much to set off a major war.
Now let us assume the advisors that Khamenie has gathered around him to form a war cabinet have all received translations of the above articles along with the two articles below.
"The Project for the New American Century"
The fundamental essence of PNAC's ideology can be found in a White Paper produced in September of 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." In it, PNAC outlines what is required of America to create the global empire they envision.
"Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq"
One way to understand the effect of 9/11, in most general terms, is to see that it allowed the agenda developed in the 1990s by neoconservatives—-often called simply “neocons”--- to be implemented.
What was this agenda? It was, in essence, that the United States should use its military supremacy to establish an empire that includes the whole world--a global Pax Americana. Three major means to this end were suggested. One of these was to make U.S. military supremacy over other nations even greater, so that it would be completely beyond challenge. This goal was to be achieved by increasing the money devoted to military purposes, then using this money to complete the “revolution in military affairs” made possible by the emergence of the information age. The second major way to achieve a global Pax Americana was to announce and implement a doctrine of preventive-preemptive war, usually for the sake of bringing about “regime change” in countries regarded as hostile to U.S. interests and values. The third means toward the goal of universal empire was to use this new doctrine to gain control of the world’s oil, especially in the Middle East, most immediately Iraq.
How would Khamenie's war cabinet explain what is going on based on the above articles, all of which have been written by Americans?
Reading the above articles – especially the last article -- it is impossible not to reach the conclusion that what is planned for Iran is exactly what was done to Iraq.
In the United States a very tiny minority read such articles but in Iran a very broad segment of the population has the worldview that there is a direct connection between 9-11 being an inside job, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many Iranians point out that Bin Laden was trained by the CIA and if he had anything to do with 9-11 then so did the CIA.
And when the following article is added to the mix the regime's position regarding Israel falls into place nicely.
"Demystifying 9/11: Israel and the Tactics Of Mistake"
There is a mountain of physical, technical, analytical and circumstantial evidence, far more than any unprejudiced person needs to understand far beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever, that (1) the U.S. Governments case is fatally flawed, and (2) this was a Mossad-directed operation orchestrated at the highest levels of the Israeli government (because of the target) with local support within the US and elements of the US Government itself.
So if we were to assume the above articles constituted the general outline of the worldview of regime decision makers – and most likely a significant portion of Iranians given that the media is state controlled -- the question is how will Iran retaliate if its nuclear sites are bombed?
Mining the Stait of Hormuz will be one option but this would trigger an overwhelming response that most likely will result in Iran losing control of strategic land along the Strait and also give the perfect excuse to do to Iran what was done to Iraq.
Firing missiles at American bases will also trigger an overwhelming response and again play into the hands of those itching for regime change.
If the current march to war on Iran continues along the same trajectory it is almost certain that advisors to Khamenie will point to Iraq and say that is what they will do to Iran. And then they will wait for orders.
One possible scenario is that Khamenie (with the strong support of the Revolutionary Guard) will order that all of Iran's missiles be aimed at oil and gas installations of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea, with the objective of halting production and distribution of 50% of the world's supply of fossil fuels. And with Iran's inventory of missiles and improved accuracy such an outcome may be within Iran's ability.
The reasoning would be that if Iran is going to be destroyed then Iran will take down the world economy with it.
This is a deterrent comparable to a couple of dozen nuclear bombs, and one that would cause worldwide catastrophe on a scale unimaginable. Price of gasoline worldwide will triple overnight. Stock exchanges will lose 50% of their value within 24 hours. Unemployment will reach beyond Great Depression levels, for all countries, and not just America.
So the question is why is Iran steadily being pushed into the corner when it has the ability to tie a knot in the world's umbilical energy cord?
Here is one final link to ponder before the lights go out:
Iranian Leader Says War May Happen Within Weeks
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