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21 April 2006

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zanzibar

"We will only be able to talk about sanctions after we have concrete facts confirming that Iran is not exclusively involved in peaceful nuclear activities," Tass quoted spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying.

A Russian national security official said separately that sanctions did not figure on Russia's agenda at this stage.

snip

Spassky also rejected a call made this week by a senior State Department official for Russia to cancel the planned sale of its Tor tactical surface-to-air missile systems to Iran.

"There are no circumstances which would get in the way of us carrying out our commitments in the field of military cooperation with Iran," Tass quoted Spassky as saying.

"That includes ... our commitment to supply Tor systems to Iran," he said.

Erasmus

There is little to no chance that the Turks would take part in this adventure. It would poison Iranian Turkish relations for decades to come and it would never be accepted by the Turkish people. I suspect that not only won't they take part, they won't allow their airspace to be used by anyone to attack Iran nor would they collude in any way that might become apparent to Iran.
There is also some nonsense in the media about using Azerbaijan as a base for a ground assault to take Teheran. Maps left around where reporters can see them and off the record mutterings from anonymous NATO sources. All I can say is “GOOD LUCK” with that. 25% of the population of Iran are Azeri Turks, devoutly religious Shia Azeri Turks who fought ferociously against Iraq and can be expected to meet us with flowers and candy and RPGS, IEDS, mortars, machine guns, and wire guided anti-tank missiles. Nothing happens in Azerbaijan that the Iranians don’t know about and this project would need the active collusion of Azerbaijan, naturally, and some combination of Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey. Not very likely and impossible to keep quiet. The Iranians would have a warm reception waiting for one and all.
Our conquest of Iraq happened so easily, not because we’re the greatest army that ever marched, but because most of the Iraqi Army, ground down by years of sanctions and filled with contempt for Saddam’s idiotic incompetence, went home with their weapons and without fighting. A few months later, as our plans to pillage and loot Iraq under the guise of privatization and marginalize the Sunni community became apparent, the Iraqi Sunni officer & NCO corps dug up their weapons and began shooting. Without Saddam to screw everything up, as he also did in the war against Iran, the Iraqis have been able to fight us to a standstill and, if things don’t change real soon, we will lose this war. The Iranians are highly motivated, reasonably well armed and decently trained. If their generals are competent, and there is no reason to think that they aren’t, any attempt to invade Iran out of Azerbaijan will end up as a bloody disaster for us.
The Jordanian government would have to give us access through the port of Aquaba. They have no choice. In a region with a host of obsequious American puppets, Jordan is almost the weakest and most servile. (The Jordanian King is said to speak Arabic poorly with a thick American accent.) The Jordanian people, are a mixture of Palestinian refugees and native Bedu tribesman. The tribesmen are closely related by ties of blood and marriage to the tribesmen (they often belong to the same tribes) in Al Anbar, and this could prove to be a problem for us. The Iranians have excellent ties to Hamas- the Palistinian chapter of The Muslim Brotherhood- and Hamas has lots of friends in Jordan. The convoys driving up from the port of al Aquaba could be under guerilla attack long before they hit the Iraqi border and enter Al Anbar province where the fun will really begin.
Syria. Not a chance. If we get in real trouble in Iraq there is a distinct possibility that the Syrians, who are closely allied with the Iranians, will send fighters swarming into northern Iraq. Assad knows that if Iran is defeated, Syria is next on the list. There is also the certainty that Hezbollah, if it is not tied down raining rockets on Northern Israel, would be allowed to transit Syria and bring their unique blend of ferocity and finesse to bear on our forces in Northern Iraq.
Saudi Arabia will be caught between a rock and a hard place. The Saudi family runs the country as a thinly disguised kleptocracy with a façade of Salafi piety that is beginning to wear very thin for many of their subjects. The Saudi oil producing region on the Gulf is heavily Shiite and is said to be riddled with Iranian intelligence operatives. If they support us too overtly there is an excellent chance that very bad things will happen to their oil infrastructure and, if things get completely out of hand, they may face a rebellion from Sunni tribesmen who have finally had enough of the house of Saud. We should all bear in mind that the largest single source of volunteers for Jihadi suicide bombings in Iraq is Saudi Arabia. The Saudi people just love us to pieces or perhaps its they’d love see us in pieces.
Our supply line now runs from America /Europe by ship to the port of Kuwait and then by, more often than not, privatized trucker up the roads into Iraq. If the Straights are closed, the roads we would be using in Saudi stretch back to the Red Sea and that’s a huge lengthening of the supply line. This means we’d need a lot more trucks, a lot more drivers, and, if we’re being shot at, even intermittently in Saudi Arabia, the convoys would have to be manned and guarded every inch of the way by the Saudis. No Infidel American troops would be allowed in Saudi Arabia without a violent reaction from some elements Saudi society. This means the Saudis, Bin Laden’s folks for those with short memories, will have their hand around the American army’s windpipe. Lets hope they stay friendly. Just one other thing, where are they going to get all the tucks, drivers, spare parts, dispatchers etc.etc. to operate this supply line on practically no notice? The Red Ball Express in WWII, which kept Patton’s offensive across France somewhat supplied at a time when an American division needed a lot fewer supplies, needed hundreds of thousands of supply troops to run.


The Red Ball Express operated over much shorter distances, in a much gentler climate, and, even though it was France, through a much friendlier country than we’d be facing in Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, we’d need the same trucks, drivers, guards, spare parts,etc.etc. if we draw our supplies out of Aquaba.
This whole privatization business. Leasing out our supply lines to private contractors is a really bad and criminally stupid idea. A great many well-trained supply troops with standardized equipment and good leaders were able, barely, to support Patton’s breakout across France in 1944. If we’re forced to try and replicate this feat, under fire, literally, on the fly, with for profit military industrial contractors we face the potential for an epic disaster. This administration worships at the false idols of the market and capitalism. The purpose of a business corporation is to make money. If the only way to do this means delivering high quality goods on time at a decent price they’ll do it. If they can get away with delivering a defective product, late, at an obscene markup they’ll do that to. (See the performance of any and all American corporations in Iraq since January of 2003.) The United States Army developed its supply troops as a direct result of its bitter experience with “suttlers” in the Civil War with their weavily flour, cardboard boots, and defective gunpowder. Well, what’s old is new again. We don’t make new mistakes, just the old ones with new names.
The Kuwaiti government, which is the weakest and most servile of our satraps, has no choice but to support us with slavish devotion. If we get driven out of the Persian Gulf, their life expectancy will be measured in months. They are despised by Iraqi Sunnis and Shias and the Persians don’t like them much either.
I suspect that the Persians will be able to close the Gulf to us for a while. The supply ships we need to take through the straights are big, slow, unarmed, and loaded with fuel and ammunition. Sitting ducks in other words or floating bombs if you prefer. The Iranians have hundreds of mobile, truck born, anti-ship missiles deployed on their coastline, which would subject any convoy to a gauntlet of fire several hundred miles long. The Iranian coast rises very steeply from the sea and the mountainous coast offers plenty of cover and concealment along with excellent observation points. Who needs radar when you can deploy lots of young kids with 20/20 vision and good artillery binoculars?
The convoy escorts’ weapons systems are optimized to defend themselves, not supply ships. Our tactics would be to place a screen of armed vessels between the convoy and the Iranian coastline to act as a radar picket/defensive shield. That’s a very tough way to make a living. Before we do that we would attempt to degrade the Iranian defenses with airpower. In theory our air assets would destroy the Iranians forces before we ran the Straits. Right.
In Kosovo the Nato airforces, which means the USAF and the American Navy with a smattering of Brits, French, and Germans, bombed the heck out of the Serbian Forces and made all sorts of lavish claims of hundreds of tanks, APCs, artillery pieces, and SAM systems destroyed. After the Serbs agreed to quit Kosovo we were able to observe them leaving and discovered that they were withdrawing very little damaged equipment and when we searched Kosovo we discovered very few abandoned/destroyed Serbian weapons systems. We did find lots of really cool Chinese made inflatable decoys that looked just like tanks, APCs, artillery pieces and SAM systems which the Serbians had used to very successfully decoy us away from their real assets and as bait in various AAA and SAM traps. Now, what’s the chance of some industrious Chinese arms salesman having brought this to the attention of the Iranian military? What’s the chance that the Iranians have hundreds of neat, Chinese made inflatable decoys that look just like Iranian mobile anti-ship missiles which, come to think of it, they bought from the Chinese in the first place?
In the first Gulf War, the second Gulf War, and the Tanker war we waged against the Iranians, it is said that we failed to destroy even one of the Iraqi or Iranian land based missile systems. If we send our airmen in, flying low and slow to have a real chance of finding the missile systems we’ll run out of airmen before they run out missiles. Its possible that we could use Predator drones for this mission but we better have thousands of them in reserve (we don’t) since the Iranians have lots of light and highly mobile, you can mount them in the back of a pickup truck, Soviet designed 23mm AAA guns to shoot them down with. There seems to be little doubt that the Iranians could close the Straits for some amount of time. Not as much as they’d like but, I suspect, much longer than we can tolerate.
Some fools will bring up, if they haven’t already, the idea of landing the Marines to seize the Iranian coastline and the Marines could easily do so, if the active duty strength of the Corps was several million. We’re talking about seizing close to 100 miles, minimal, of mountainous coastline. Not a chance. Whatever Marines we have in the Straights will be occupied trying to neutralize the heavily fortified Iranian garrisons on various islands that dot the area just West of the Straights.
When the Bush administration attacks Iran, our troops in Iraq will be in desperate trouble unless Rumsfeld’s DOD stockpiles enormous amounts of food, fuel, ammunition, and medical supplies (we’re going to need them all, particularly the medical supplies) well in advance and in country. Of course, if we build up supplies in country the Iranians will know we’re coming and plan accordingly and we’ll still be in real trouble but somewhat less than if we don’t prepare. If Rumsfeld et al fails to prepare for this contingency and everything goes wrong in our Iran adventure- we should always keep in mind that these people have a genius for disaster- we could suffer the greatest defeat in our history. A 21st Century version of Varus in the Teutonburger Wald though Varus in defeat, to give him his due, had the good taste to literally fall on his sword as a good Roman should. I doubt very much that anyone in this crew would do the right thing. They’d probably just berate the press for failing to report the good news from Iraq.

angela

Saudi Arabia has publicly come out against an attack. Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have come close to being public.

jonst

Erasmus,

Just want to be clear. You wrote "When the Bush administration attacks Iran". Have you conclude, as I have, that the planned attack is 'done deal'? Thank you for your excellent summary by the way.

Erasmus

Jonst,

Yes I think they'll attack.Its that or face the truth of the strategic disaster they've inflicted on the United State and they'll never do that. This administration has a demonstrated ability to pick the course of action out of a plethora of choices that is the most harmfull to our true national interests. Its like perfect pitch or the ability to hit the curve ball. It can't be taught.

ali

A strategic reverse of this magnitude cannot be swallowed easily. The Persian Gulf has been an American lake since Suez. Now after considerable sacrifice of American blood and treasure Tehran is ascendant. Even if by an extraordinary turn of fortune DC's stated goals are achieved and Iraq emerges as a stable, unified democracy it looks like Iran will take the spoils. This might have been swept under the carpet but Tehran has, very unwisely, been taunting DC with the old anti-semitic rhetoric of the Islamic Revolution. Such foolish grandstanding further demonstrates America's military limitations.

As failure in Iraq becomes more evident the urge to throw one of the little guys up against the wall builds. Unfortunately this malign little guy is well prepared, devious and not even that little.

jonst

Erasmus,

Yes, I think they have that special ability to do precisely the wrong thing, at precisely the wrong time, for precisely the wrong reasons.

I think they will attack. I think they think it will galvanize their base. I think this is especially so if, as we must logically assume, Iran hits us back in some manner. Then its Katie bar the door, the fight is on, and at that point i think the Admin will indeed have about 45-50% of the nation on board. So long that is, as you don't request the kids of the people 'on board'. Or raise their taxes. Or ask them to drive small cars. Or ask them to live in smaller houses as to cut down on fuel needs. Or anything much else that resembles sacrifice.

jonst

Readers,

Please allow me to clarify my last comment. I think there is a small minority of the Admin's base that will give their all. Their spouses, their siblings, their children and their parents. And they will serve, as they have already served, proudly and to the best of their ability. But they will be a small percentage of the supporting base.

Norbert Schulz

Many people assume that Bush, among other follies, prefers military action to achieve domestic policy goals. The rhetoric, designed for domestic consumption at times suggest that.

But that latter bit is IMO largely irrelevant as the Bushies are not talking to anyone else but their domestic audience anyway, and that for years now. Who cares about this 'ROW'* thing anyway?

My take on Iran is that dear leader and his chancellor Darth Cheney are indeed keen on war with Iran. Maybe Cheney misses these great nightmares he had during the cold war. Maybe dear leader hears god speaking to him, or is on a quest for greatness and his place in the history books. For what twisted and deluded reason, I don't really care. It doesn't really matter anyway.

The decision on military action is IMO made, the question is merely when. The point is the proper timing. That is where Rove comes in, and he might suggest optimising the timing for maximum political benefit for the mid-term elections. Loss of majority in one or both houses will be crippling for dear leader, and he and Rove and Cheney know that full well. The recent re-shuffling of deck chairs was just because of that.
Loss of majority in both houses would mean that impeachment calls would be no longer empty (and cheap) rhetoric. It could become reality. In face of unitary executive power doctrine it would be about time to clarify a few things about checks and ballances and limits on executive power.

I read an interesting article about this so-called 'diversionary' theory of war, that discusses wether leaders start bombing small countries to boost their approaval ratings at home. It's interesting, but has only ambiguous findings in it's summary, except for the evergreen that reality is always more complex than theory. Oh really.

http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2004/may/bakerMay04.asp

* an interesting acronym I found to refer to the 'rest of the World'

zanzibar

Erasmus, thanks for the excellent post. It really helps to understand better what the possibilities maybe. OK, it seems that folks here are convinced that Bush/Cheney have already made the decision. I just find it hard to accept that after the debacle in Iraq that the American people and the media will let them execute such an asinine plan. Does not Congress have to authorize military action? Of course I realize we have a Republican majority Congress and so far they have rubber-stamped but I would hope this next time there will be a sizeable number of our elected representatives who oppose such a dangerous escalation of conflict without any rational basis. I am a bit more optimistic that sanity will prevail and Sen.Reid's recent statement that we need to engage in direct diplomacy and that the military option is not viable adds more hope.

Norbert Schulz

Point is dear leader claims, lemantably without much audible dissent, that congress has implied him with all the powers he could possibly imagine. If you asked him, he'd say he doesn't need to ask congress, as he has carte blance for the duration of the GWOT.

The adress to the nation is perhaps already written. It might sound eerily familiar.

'My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to prevent Iran from aquiring nuclear weapons. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign.
(...)
We come to Iran with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iran, except to remove a grave and gathering threat to the region and restore control of that country to its own people.
(...)
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities*.'

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030319-17.html

*That much as for dear leader never having implied any connection between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq ...

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