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Iran-Another Vietnam?

By David B. Mccosker

The first time I became concerned about our involvement in Iran was last August 9th, upon reading an article in The Christian Science Monitor entitled: U.S., IRAN DRAW UP GIANT DEAL. Nuclear Technology, Oil, Weapons Linked in Talks." This report detailed the lengthy communication between the Shah of Iran and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger '50 in the three controversial areas of U.S. relations in Iran--arms sales, transfer of nuclear technology, and the price of oil. The article reads in part as follows:

"Most critical of the three is military sales, with Iran--according to a U.S.-Iranian announcement in Tehran--planning to buy another $10 billion worth of American weaponry by 1980."

"Shah Muhammad Reza, disputing a recent Senate study, claims Iranian soldiers and airmen can master their new U.S. weapons systems and that American technicians--more than 20,000 are now in Iran--would not become embroiled in a future Iranian war."

"The Senate study, citing the complexity of Iran's delivered and ordered weaponry, claims 50,000 Americans may be needed by 1980 to operate the equipment on a day-to-day basis."

"After months of stalemate, the way appears to have been cleared for Iran to buy eight nuclear power reactors from American manufacturers. Delivery would not begin until after 1980 since it takes up to eight years to build such a plant."

Upon reading this I immediately wrote to some of my representatives in Congress, concluding that "This smacks me as another Vietnam in the making." Sen. Alan Cranston (D.-Calif.) wrote back on November 9th:

"I, too, share your grave concern about the level of U.S. arms and technicians in Iran. Continued sales of sophisticated U.S. weapons will require an even larger commitment of U.S. advisers over the next few years. As the Senate Subcommittee report points out, these men could easily be drawn into a conflict in that troubled area--with the implicit support of the U.S. government."

Included with Cranston's letter was a copy of this report: "U.S. MILITARY SALES TO IRAN, A Staff Report to the Subcommittee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate," dated July 1976.

This report is available upon request. I urge any concerned citizen to obtain a copy by writing to his Congressman, and read what Cranston states: "report which details the implications of U.S. policy in Iran with alarming insight."

Cranston continues in this letter: "Both the Subcommittee study and the revelation that former President Nixon gave Iran a blank check for U.S. weapons orders, have generated real concern in Congress. Recently, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee insisted that no further sales be authorized to the Persian Gulf States until a thorough review of U.S. arms policy is reported to the Committee. Congress has also asked the President to negotiate multilateral arms export controls. I plan to make this entire question a top priority when the 95th Congress convenes."

After reading this Senate Subcommittee Staff Report of Military Sales to Iran, the one thing that came through so forcefully is that neither the President, nor any person or group of officials should ever again be able to make such fundamental decisions as supplying arms and ammunition to any country that will commit the involvement of the U.S.A., without the prior approval of Congress! We have these safeguards written into our Constitution. We must use them if we wish our system to work effectively and survive.

We ARE committed in Iran. I really do not believe most of our countrymen are aware of this or the consequences. Excerpts from the above mentioned Senate report leave an indelible imprint:

"Iran has purchased large quantities of some of the most sophisticated equipment in the U.S. inventory including the F-14 Tom Cat Fighter and the DD993 modified Spruance Class Destroyer. The F-14 system is so complicated that the United States Navy is having major difficulty keeping it operational. Iran's Spruance Class Destroyer will be even more sophisticated than those being procured by the U.S. Navy."

Why is it necessary for America to deliver such complex military arms to Iran? It is obvious that if we are encountering difficulties in maintaining our own equipment that Iran will be unable to service and operate what we deliver to them. So, by 1980, just four years from now, we will of necessity have approximately 50,000 American "technicians" in Iran, which this report states is already the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf area.

Did not we call our men in Vietnam "technicians" and "advisors," and imply that they would not become embroiled in combat operations? Then, as we became more involved in the quagmire of tragic warfare, the "technicians" of necessity participated in day-to-day combat which escalated into full scale confrontation. Does my memory fail me, or does this sound like the broken record, repeating itself again and again?

To continue some of the findings of this Senate report:

"Most informed observers feel that Iran will not be able to absorb and operate within the next five to ten years a large portion of the sophisticated military systems purchased from the U.S. unless increasing numbers of American personnel go to Iran in a support capacity.

"The presence of large and growing numbers of Americans in Iran has already given rise to socio-economic problems. Although many of these have proven to be manageable, they could become worse should there be a major change in U.S.-Iranian relations."

Then, The Christian Science Monitor "Inside The News--Briefly" of November 29th, highlights "Iran tied to torture, political jailings. Indeed, this makes me wonder even more why we are becoming so deeply committed in quicksand in this part of planet earth?

True, we have the usual comments that Iran's long frontiers with the Soviet Union require protection as a part of our Western defense system, and that we require the oil that Iran has available. The question is whether or not we are proceeding to obtain these objectives in the correct manner?

In conclusion, read the above mentioned Senate report about the turn of events in Iran. These facts will help you to recall why we protested our involvement in Vietnam--after many thousands of American lives were lost and billions of dollars mis-spent. Now is the time to protest what we are doing in Iran!

David B. McCosker works at the Graduate School of Design.

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