By Eli Clifton
Retired Air Force General Charles “Chuck” Wald’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal is worth a read for followers of LobeLog and the neocon ‘’echo chamber’’. Wald was one of the invited speakers at the ‘’Confronting The Iranian Threat: The Way Forward’’ event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in 2007.
We broke the story (here on LobeLog) about the off-the-record conference and got mentioned (although not by name) by Bret Stephens in his Wall Street Journal column as ”internet sleuths’’ who, ”…might have been disappointed to find that nothing by way of bombing coordinates for the pending attack on Iran’s nuclear installations were presented.’’
The event did include a panel discussion, “Meet FDD’s Experts Beachside” reception; to wit:
o “Military Response
o What policy options are on the table for slowing Iran’s nuclear development?
o Is there a military option that would end the development of the nuclear program?
o What type of response capabilities does the U.S. and its allies have if Iran were to employ the use of a nuclear weapon?”
”Charles “Chuck” Wald, who is listed on the program as a “speaker” on this panel did not actually make it to the conference, and he was the only person listed on the program with real military expertise. Wald, former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), was the air component commander based at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia in charge of planning and deploying U.S. air power in the run-up to and during the U.S. military campaign that ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, according to the Washington Post’s Bill Arkin. Although Wald is now much more interested in the national-security aspects of global warming and climate change, his views on air power and precision strikes against possible nuclear and military targets in Iran would obviously be relevant to the session’s agenda.’’
Wald’s article—”There Is a Military Option on Iran: U.S. Air Force and Naval forces could do serious damage to Tehran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fail’’—yesterday certainly suggests that he is actively picking out military targets and strategizing contingency plans for an attack on Iran.
His strategy for attacking Iran includes such incites as, “expand strategic partnerships with countries such as Azerbaijan and Georgia to pressure Iran from all directions.’’
Allies such as Azerbaijan and Georgia would be useful for basing bombers in a large-scale attack on Iran but it’s overstating to suggest that expanded alliances with Azerbaijan and Georgia would ‘’pressure Iran from all directions.’’
Wald does acknowledge that the Iranians could play a destabilizing role in Iraq especially if antagonized by an attack on their nuclear facilities and that a destruction of their enrichment capabilities wouldn’t kill the Iranian’s desire to make a nuclear weapon.
‘’Of course, there are huge risks to military action: U.S. and allied casualties; rallying Iranians around an unstable and oppressive regime; Iranian reprisals be they direct or by proxy against us and our allies; and Iranian-instigated unrest in the Persian Gulf states, first and foremost in Iraq.
Furthermore, while a successful bombing campaign would set back Iranian nuclear development, Iran would undoubtedly retain its nuclear knowhow. An attack would also necessitate years of continued vigilance, both to retain the ability to strike previously undiscovered sites and to ensure that Iran does not revive its nuclear program.’’
So a surgical attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities wouldn’t be a one-shot-deal. It would require years of ‘’vigilance’’ and potentially further strikes inside Iran. This, along with Iran’s ability to cause considerable difficulty for American and Iraqi forces in Iraq makes Wald’s proposal sound increasingly expensive both financially as well as in American, Iranian and Iraqi human lives.
Wald—much like his colleagues at the FDD conference in the Bahamas—believes that a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear program would, ”be the best possible outcome’’ but it’s difficult to see the Iranians coming to the table with someone who describes them as, ”an existential threat to Israel,’’ as he did in his article. Then again, he does give lip-service to the idea that a military attack on Iranian should only be a “Plan B”.
That’s a “Plan B” that a number of people were talking about back in 2007 in the Bahamas.