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By Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
April 15, 2013

The first week of April, former CIA director Michael Hayden said regarding Iran building nuclear weapons: "I am doubtful, and pessimistic, that we're going to be able to solve this without someone taking some sort of kinetic action against the Iranians." The other day, someone asked me if I thought Israel would attack Iran. I said I didn't think so because of the disastrous consequences that would result from an Iranian response. I will explain 3 levels of response the Iranians could give, and then explain how if none of them occurs, one should consider that this is all one big play being acted out on a global scale.

If the Israeli attack is limited in the hope of simply delaying Iran's nuclear capabilities, the Iranian response would also probably be limited, though costly. Their tactic would be "martyrdom." By martyrdom, I mean they would release "martyrs" into Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranians have boasted of having 100,000 martyrs ready to die for their country. Let's say they actually have only 1% of that. Still, can you imagine 1000 Iranian Shiite suicide bombers attacking Iraqi Sunnis? The Sunnis would respond, and the majority Iraqi Shiites would respond to them. Civil War would ensue and Iraq would be in chaos. President Obama would be on the phone asking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if that was worth a small delay in the Iranian nuclear weapons capability! Secondly, the Iranians could block the Strait of Hormuz, not by Iranian military ships or gunboats attacking American naval vessels, but simply sinking their own and playing the "martyr." For example, a small Iranian vessel appearing simply to carry produce to market approaches an American ship. The U.S. ship can't allow this because the Iranian boat may have a bomb to blow up the U.S. ship if it gets near enough.

The U.S. fires warning shots to no avail and then either blows the Iranian boat out of the water, thus appeaaring to slaughter innocent Iranians, or it attempts to board the vessel and take it over. The Iranians have cell phones recording this and beaming the image around the world (like when the terrorists attacked the hotel in Mumbai, India). Out of sight of the cell phones the Iranians fire some shots into their own boat, claim the Americans are attacking, and then fire on the Americans who return fire and that is beamed around the world---innocent Iranians being attacked by Americans. This inflames the 1 billion Muslims around the world, who then burn U.S. Embassies, etc., etc. Then the Iranian vessels which are destroyed by the Americans (or blown up by the Iranians themselves) sink and clog the Strait of Hormuz. By the way, guess how quickly an Iranian ship can lay mines in the Strait of Hormuz by night? This would immediately decrease the world's oil supply by about 20%, and the global economic consequences would be dramatic (gasoline prices would skyrocket, etc.).

The next possibility is that an Israeli attack on Iran would be a major one, hoping indefinitely to cripple Iranian nuclear capability. The Iranian response to this would be a major reaction, but again using the tactic of "martyrdom." For example, the Iranians probably have already given an ultimatum to a nation like Saudi Arabia that they are either with them or against them if the Israelis attack. Though the Saudis will try to claim neutrality, the Iranians will make known to the Saudi people that their royal family has chosen not to help their fellow Muslims who have been attacked by the Israelis. There could even be an uprising of the Saudi people against the royal family if that occurred. Then an Iranian fighter plane would take off at night from southern Iran, claiming to be headed to Israel but actually be headed to critical Saudi oil facilities to destroy them. If the Saudis shoot the plane down, the Iranians will tell the Saudi people their royal family just shot down a fighter plane headed to Israel in defense against the aggression toward the Islamic nation of Iran. Again, this could lead to an uprising against the Saudi royal family. However, if the Saudis don't shoot down the plane and it destroys the important Saudi oil facility, the global economic consequences again would be devastating.

Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza could also be instructed to launch missile attacks against Israel. And various other terrorist groups in the region could be told to shoot down civilian airliners with shoulder-launched missiles reportedly given them by Iran.

The next possible Iranian response to a major Israeli attack would be to say that such a major attack would not have occurred without at least the tacit acceptance of Israeli allies like the U.S. Thus, the Iranians would release their wrath against Americans inside the U.S. There are almost 500,000 Iranians in this country. They will resent an Israeli attack upon Iran, in which they will view the U.S. as at least partially complicit/supportive. Let's say just 1000 of these Iranians are willing agents of the Iranian government. The U.S. can't pre-emptively round them all up like it did the Japanese in the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, so these Iranians will be able to attempt to carry out their prearranged "assignments." These could include the following activities, most being carried out at night: setting fires to forests, apartment complexes, etc., around the U.S.; derailing trains; contaminating foods in grocery stores, fast food establishments, etc.; from motorcycles, throwing incendiary devices into small, crowded stores and restaurants, etc., in cities across the land.

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Iran also has chemical weapons, and sarin gas, for example, placed by Iranian agents in crowded locations around the U.S. would cause panic and death. In addition, a well-trained/armed team of Iranian agents could probably take over a lightly guarded nuclear facility here and cause a core meltdown with all the widespread horror that would result. You get the idea.

The forest fires alone, easily set by night, would be so numerous and widespread that they couldn't be put out, and therefore would blanket the nation with smoke, indefinitely halting traffic and making it difficult to breathe. This could bring America to its knees economically, not to mention the sheer terror with which it would strike Americans because everyone would think day after day that they personally or their town could be the next hit.

� 2013 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved

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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.

Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.

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The next possibility is that an Israeli attack on Iran would be a major one, hoping indefinitely to cripple Iranian nuclear capability. The Iranian response to this would be a major reaction, but again using the tactic of "martyrdom."