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Argument: Military strikes on Iran would invite painful retaliation

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Joseph Kirschke. "A Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Facilities: Assessing Potential Retaliation". Global Geopolitics. December 6, 2007 - In September of 1998, Iran massed more than 200,000 troops along its eastern border with Afghanistan. Some 70,000 Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s elite military force, were part of the ominous military formation, which also included hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, mobile missile batteries and artillery pieces.

Across the Islamic Republic, passions were running high: protests erupted with thousands swarming the streets chanting slogans like “Death to the Taliban!” Igniting the furor were reports that, on August 8th, Taliban insurgents stormed an Iranian consulate in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and massacred ten diplomats and an Iranian journalist in cold blood.

For a time, war looked all but inevitable. Negotiations by the United Nations stalled (1.) while public funerals for the slain men – in all likelihood, intelligence agents under diplomatic cover – only fueled popular outrage. But in the end cooler heads prevailed. Iran had just emerged from an eight-year-long war with Saddam Hussein, costing more than a million lives: the torchbearers of the revolution simply couldn’t afford another quagmire.

Though forgotten by the American public as their lawmakers ratchet up the rhetoric against an Iran apparently determined to acquire nuclear weapons, this event presents a barometer of the response Tehran may – or may not – offer should the U.S. strike its uranium-enrichment facilities. It also belies the serious consequences America will face – from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Persian Gulf and beyond – should the Bush Administration continue its relentless drive to disarm Iran militarily at the expense of serious diplomacy.

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