Former Vice President Dick Cheney called for the immediate invasion of Iran today, arguing the time had come to stop the Iranian nuclear program with American boots on the ground.
In a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, the 72-year-old Republican criticized the Obama administration for its "appeasement" of Tehran's rulers and outlined a "fool-proof" plan to occupy the Islamic republic of 75 million people.
Cheney's plan suggests the United States lead a multinational coalition of 200,000 troops in a multi-pronged invasion from land, sea, and air with the goal of regime change.
"The objective will be to overwhelm the enemy with air strikes," Cheney said. "Our superior firepower will shock and awe the regime into complete and permanent submission, making larger numbers of troops unnecessary."
Still A Dick
Cheney, the éminence grise of the discredited neoconservative movement, has been widely blamed for his role in the intelligence, planning and operational failures of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, in calling for a new war in the Middle East, the grizzled Washington insider appears not to have learned the lessons of the last decade.
"Our allies will certainly want to pitch in," Cheney claimed. "The Europeans are only a few thousand miles from Tehran, in full range of their latest missiles.
"We can expect significant troop contributions from the U.K., Poland, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Romania. I imagine the Japanese, Koreans, and maybe the Indians will want to get involved too.
"There's nothing other countries love more than helping us fight our wars."
Cheney also expressed his belief that the coalition forces will face minimal resistance from the Iranian army and its populace.
"I have no doubt we will be welcomed as liberators. The Iranian people are some of the most pro-American folks in the entire Muslim world. Their citizens will greet our solders with open arms.
"The Clerics in Tehran are so unpopular we should even see ordinary Iranians joining in the fight. We might get upwards of 100,000 Iranian volunteers to join our army."
Cheney also said that despite the astronomical cost of the Bush administration's wars, an occupation of Iran will be different.
"The best part about invading Iran is that it won't cost us a thing!" Cheney said. "It has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. All we have to do is capture the oil fields and sell the oil. We could actually turn a nice profit on this one."
Cuiusvis Hominis Est Errare...
In a question and answer session following the speech, Cheney was asked about planning for a post-war Iran.
"I think the best course of action would be to reestablish the Shah," he said, referring to the despotic monarch deposed in the 1979 revolution. "We had a very good working relationship when I was at the Department of Defense in the 1970s. I think the Iranian people are really desperate for his return."
Cheney was also asked to estimate the length of the war and project the number of coalition casualties.
"As you know it's difficult to estimate things like this," Cheney said. "But I can say with complete confidence that the total length of any Iranian operation will be measured in weeks, maybe months. But certainly not years.
"And as far as casualties are concerned, I have a very hard time believing we'll lose more than 15 solders. 25 tops."
Nearly 7,000 U.S. solders have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over 50,000 have been wounded. The total cost of those wars is estimated to be $3.7 trillion, which represents almost a quarter of all U.S. debt outstanding.
"Overall, the invasion and occupation of Iran is a no-brainer," Cheney concluded. "It would be nearly costless to the United States in terms of talent and treasure. And it would eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat once and for all.
"President Obama, the time for action is now."