Throughout the past several months there have been several war scares between the United States and Iran. On Sept. 16 and 17, Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels attacked Saudi Arabian oil fields. The attack was met with condemnation from the world, and the world turned to the Trump administration for its reaction. The Trump administration has taken criticism for its support of the Saudi regime after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This made many people concerned that the attack on Saudi Arabia would be met with U.S. military force on Iran. Yet, despite what many have said, a war with Iran would not be quick or easy. The war would likely be the bloodiest U.S. war since the Vietnam War, and it could be even worse.
Ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the United States has been determined to destroy the Tehran regime by any means necessary. In the past 20 years, this desire gained momentum with the presence of neo-conservatives in the George W. Bush administration. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration launched the War on Terror. On Jan. 29, 2002, President Bush gave what has become known as the “Axis of Evil” speech. In it, he named Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the three biggest threats to America’s hegemony in the modern world. This hostility toward Iran continued with operation Millennium Challenge. This was a military simulation/exercise conducted by the U.S. against an unnamed Middle Eastern nation, likely Iran. The simulation was designed to be in favor of the U.S., likely in order to gain public support for a war. The results of the simulation were disastrous. Iranian anti-ship missiles combined with explosive-loaded kamikaze speed boats were able to sink several U.S. ships, including one carrier. Around 20,000 American troops were killed before even reaching the shore. Yet, there are more reasons not to go to war with Iran.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Iraqi army was defeated in a matter of weeks. This meant that for most of the war, the U.S. was fighting an unconventional counter-insurgency campaign. While the war was very bloody, a war with Iran would be much worse. Iran’s army is the eighth largest army in the world, far bigger than Iraq’s army in 2003. This means a conventional war would likely take far longer than it did in Iraq. Iran is also the 14th wealthiest nation in the world, despite all of the western sanctions. The Iranian nation is about four times as large as Iraq, and has about twice the population. Despite what western media portrays, the Iranian people do not support the government. Yet, this is not new. When Iran was invaded by Iraq in 1980, the new government was unpopular. Yet, the people rallied around Khomenei after the invasion. If this happened again, the insurgency could have far more people and far more places to hide than in Iraq. There is also the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. There is no way to be certain Iran does not possess at least one nuclear weapon. The possibility is ever-present that the war could become nuclear. Another issue is that the war would not be limited to Iran. Iran’s proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Hezbollah and other groups would be called into the fray. This would make the war regional and thus increase destruction. Possibly worst of all is Iran’s economic allies. Iran trades its oil to India and China. There is a chance these nations would want to protect their oil access and they would get involved directly or indirectly. This would undoubtedly pull the world close to a Third World War, or actually cause one.
Many have discussed war with Iran in the past 40 years, yet it will not be a smooth endeavor. Millions will likely die, and a vacuum will be created without Iran’s Shiism to counter Saudi Arabia’s Sunnism. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others will fill the vacuum left over. A war with Iran would cost many American lives and possibly start a world war or wreck the global economy. It will not end with a peaceful world but with one more divided than ever.
Ben Sagal-Morris is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.