US President George W Bush has refused to rule out a military attack on Iran should diplomatic efforts fail to reach an agreement over Teheran's nuclear program.There is a point of view, that given its support for Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, as well as its hostility towards Israel, this is what Iran probably deserves.
Experts however sincerely hope that the US will consider the costs of any such misadventure before embarking on this course of action.The cost of Iraq and Afghanistan has already crossed $600 billion and the conflicts are expected to cost $2.4 trillion in all till 2017. This is half of what it would cost to keep Social Security solvent for 75 years.In a conventional war Iran is expected to be less of a pushover than Iraq, which would translate into higher costs and a larger number of US troops in combat over and above the 200,000 at present. It is argued that the present level of expenditure on Iraq and Afghanistan is only about 0.5% of GDP and therefore the US can sustain it almost indefinitely, unlike the Vietnam conflict during which it had risen to almost 12% of GDP and had threatened to derail the US economy.But this reasoning is seriously flawed in as much it does not take into account the likely impact of a conflict with Iran on the price of oil.The Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Turki Al-Faisal has said that such an event could triple the price of oil. Not only is Iran OPEC's number two oil producer, any conflict involving Iran would threaten the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Middle East nations export their oil.Tankers carry an estimated 17 million barrels of oil through the channel every day.Although the US does have an emergency stockpile of almost 700 million barrels of crude, a prolonged conflict with Iran, like in Iraq would certainly have a devastating impact on the US as well as the world economy.Given the extensive common border that Iran shares with Russia and several former Soviet Republics the US may find it difficult to cut off its supply routes.It is a foregone conclusion that all these countries are going to support Iran because of religious or economic considerations or just to keep the US out of the area.Any lengthy campaign in Iran would only wear down US troops and equipment further.It will have to be remembered that Iran is not the only country that has the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.How many countries would the US be able to discipline alone. If it wanted to discipline Iran it should have done so thirty years back.That chance has been missed.Now the only hope is to build sufficient international pressure on Iran to persuade it to accept international safeguards.The role of Russia in any such arrangement will be crucial and they will expect due credit for it.Ideally an international machinery will come into existence to sort out all such problems in the future.
More on Interesting Life