Editor's Note:Dennis Lamb retired from the CIA?in 2002 after serving 30 years in its Directorate of Operations as a Case Officer and as an Intelligence Analyst. He is a native of Chelsea. This opinion piece was orignally written for publication prior to the Nov. 6 General Election. Space considerations delayed its inclusion.
I agree with the Republicans on many issues. Romney's selection of a team of military-industrial complex connected Cheney-ites for guidance in foreign affairs, several of whom led the charge into Iraq, causes me concern, however. To borrow a line from Tevye in the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, "God, --- can't you choose someone else for a change!"
John (Yosemite Sam) Bolton, who turned on President Bush for not being hawkish enough on Iran, expressed support for an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran in 2009. Another, Dan Senor, has suggested the consequences of a strike should not be discussed openly. Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA at different times, has publicly warned about the consequences of a strike on Iran. He could be a voice for reason among Romney's advisors. But Eliot Cohen, Max Boot, Eric Edelman, William Kristol and Walid Phares are also all unapologetic war hawks. And with Bolton leading this flock of hawks and Romney's statements about exerting military influence abroad, to include an increase in defense spending by 2.1 trillion dollars over the next decade, it appears likely Romney will indeed launch a "preemptive" attack against Iran if elected president as he essentially promised while in Israel and during his campaign in an attempt to win Jewish voters over from Obama.
But no war in history has ever gone according to plan. Wars - easy to get into, hard to get out of - by their nature tend to get out of control.
We may have a powerful navy, but we could be in trouble in the Gulf of Hormuz because the Iranians could apply asymmetrical warfare against us using large numbers of cheap speedboats. A military war game exercise conducted by our Defense Department in 2002 and reassessed in 2008 resulted in a US warship and 15 others sunk in 15 minutes.
Iran's also has an advanced cyber warfare capability that might be able to shut down our power grids as well as target government web sites and infrastructure.
Though it seems unlikely, the Iranians might also attack the 68,000 troops we have left in Afghanistan. Caught between just half of Iran's 1,195,000 man army attacking from the West and the Taliban in the East, our troops there could be in serious trouble.
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Sadrist militia almost certainly would attack the essentially defenseless 16,200 US nationals we have left there as he said he would if we attacked Iran.
And we could see terrorism on a massive scale in the United States. In 2010, the number of self-identified Iranian Americans in the US was 448,722. In discussing these numbers, a young Iranian working as a waiter in a restaurant told me last spring that if war broke out between the U.S. and Iran, we would see terrorist attacks on American schools. That seems possible. Ahmad Batebi is a young Iranian dissident who made his way to America in 2008 after nine years of beatings, physical and mental torture and mock hangings in Iran's notorious Evin prison. He now works in radio for Voice of America and is a leading advocate for human rights in Iran. He wants peaceful change in Iran. In telling his tale to CBN News of suffering and escape from Iran through mountain passes with the help of Kurdish guides, however, he recoiled when asked about the possibility of American military action against Iran and said that if the United States attacked Iran, "I might go back and fight for my country myself."
We tend to forget that people in/from other countries are patriotic also. The vast majority of Iranians in America today is loyal to America, hates the Mullahs and wants democracy for Iran. But it does not take many to carry out acts of terrorism.
In Erich Remarque's 1930 novel about WWI, Remarque has several German soldiers observing that the only ones with an interest in war are the industrialists and politicians. "I think it is more like a kind of fever," says one. "No one in particular wants it and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing and yet half the world is in it all the same."
All is quiet on the Iranian front today. Let's keep it that way.
The thoughts outlined above represent my personal views and not the views of my former employer.