McGill Report 3/16/03
I asked him whether he fears that if the war in Iraq is over quickly with relatively few casualties, that Iran might be next on the U.S. military hit list.
"If the goal is to knock out the Iranian government’s nuclear weapons development program, I have no problem with that," he said. "The only question is at what cost? I don't want the government of Iran to have nuclear weapons. But I don't want an American military occupation of Iran and of Teheran, either.
“The power struggle between the conservatives and the reformers and student movements is a healthy struggle,” he said. “I’d love to see it speeded up. But again, I wouldn’t want see that struggle replaced with an invasion.”
A big difference between Iran and Iraq, he said, was
that easily 10% of Iranians strongly support the
conservative clerics who run the country. “These
people would be willing to walk across mine fields and
die for their religious beliefs,” he said. In Iraq, he
guessed that Saddam Hussein doesn’t enjoy anywhere
near that level of support, because Iraqis are loyal
to him purely out of fear as opposed to their
In his 2002 State of the Union speech, President Bush
named Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as one of
three countries comprising an “Axis of Evil” whose
regimes pose a direct threat to the
and the free world. Iran is also classified by the
as a “state sponsor of terrorism” because its
government has supported terrorist groups including
the Hizbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Jihad; and
because the U.S. believes Iran was directly involved
in incidents such as the 1996 bombing of the Khobar
Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans.
The amount of support the U.S. military would get from reformers within Iran, should the U.S. try to destroy the potential nuclear weapons facilities, was hard to estimate, my friend said.
But any support could only occur, he said, if the
U.S. approached Iran with respect as well as power,
and showed a nuanced understanding of Iranian society.