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05 May 2006

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angela

Currently supply is so tight that the withdrawal of Iran's oil alone would send prices surging. Southern Iraq would probably join.

Venezuala and others might too. Who knows?

Iran has said it will not use oil as a weapon and since it is vying for moral leadership in the region may attack others, but the fear will raise prices probably over a hundred.

This will hit stock markets and quite possibly collapse economies. The US with it's high debt and declining real estate market is vulnerable. Comments of Volkner, Buffet and others indicate a fragility exceeding that of the seventies.

Just based on cycles stock market declines and a recession ending this anemic keynesian driven recovery are due.

MarcLord

Angela:

US stock markets are not reflecting escalating risk, and the Fed is manipulating the indices via derivative purchases. Here's a good primer on how they're doing it:

http://www.sprott.com/pdf/pressrelease/TheVisibleHand.pdf

ali

http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/documentos/226.asp
"The experience of recent years and the forecasts for the coming years have created a sense of strategic vulnerability among Chinese leaders. China’s reaction over the past decade has consisted, first of all, in trying to increase the security and reliability of oil imports by searching for new supply sources, and to control imports and transport routes, while also boosting national oil production at any cost."

With that in mind I can't see Bejing being very happy if the Mullahs close the Strait Of Hormuz. It's not just Iran's oil they've got their mits on; Saudi is now Chinas biggest source of oil imports.
http://www.quayc.com/China/chinasite/reports/china0305.pdf
The Mullahs could find their increasingly powerful friend ruthlessly seeking their destruction and that could be the end of them.

This is a frightening weapon with great potential to deter an attack by a global power but it will probably only to be used if the regime is under existential threat. Bombing their nuclear program will probably revive the flagging Islamic Revolution.

Other means offer a more satisfying revenge with fewer risks: Iran has formidable terrorist assets and as Riverbend wrote recently, there are 150,000 potential US hostages in Iraq.

MarcLord

Col. Lang,

I don't think it likely that Iran would seek to close the Straits, nor that it could successfully project the necessary sustained force to do so. However I don't understand why in this article you seemed tactically optimistic about being able to keep the Straits open past a 1-2 month disruption. The terrain and intelligence capability would seem to greatly favor Iran if they chose to employ terrorist-style low-tech ops to sabotage and sink tankers.

It would be foolhardy of them to lift a military finger against our fleet, and the more I learn about them, the less they strike me as foolhardy. So is tanker terrorism not a viable or sustainable threat? I don't know enough about the vulnerabilities in the chain, but to me tankers look to be about the fattest, juiciest targets on earth. If nothing else, you gotta park 'em to fill 'em, and there's only so many tankers to go around.

It would seem like they could achieve selectively disruptive effects without closing the Straits, similar to the 1979 oil embargo, when taking 4% of supply off-tap caused a 150% price increase at US pumps before supply could be re-routed to the US through Europe. As for selectivity, I presume they would easily know which tanker was bound where, but again my operational ignorance in this area knows no bounds.

ckrantz

The problem as I see it is not a potential nuclear Iran in even in a year or two but Iraq. It doesn't seem sensible to attack from such a weak position strategically in the Middle East. United States has the far superior military but that is the only card it has to play. Why not open negotiations on all issues including Iraq? It would mean recognizing the islamic republic but that is the cost of the current folly.

Brad

Some <photos">http://www.navybook.com/nohigherhonor/pic-prayingmantis">photos and video from the last time U.S. and Iranian forces clashed.

brad

...can be found at http://www.nohigherhonor.com.

taters

Thanks Brad.

W. Patrick Lang

All

Damage to one frigate does not mean you lost the campaign. pl

zanzibar

Assuming our military can bomb the crap out of Iran with non-stop air and naval attacks, what would be the end game? What is the objective that we can know when it has been achieved?

This is what I don't seem to get. Of course I am no geopolitical strategist.

Babak Makkinejad

zanzibar:
I agree with you.

I do not believe US will achieve any geopolitical gains in case of a war of choice against Iran; US cannot win (cannot dictate the terms of peace) and Iran will not loose (the Iranian State will not capitulate.)

To win decisively against Iran, US has to kill between 5 to 7 percent of the Iranian population. This is between 3 to 5 million people. Without using nuclear weapons against civilian targets, that is not possible.

I think, in case of such a war, US government will state that "We taught Iran a lesson!" and the Iranian government will say:, "We resisted a superpower successfully!". In my opinion, this will be a repeat of the short China-Vietnam War of 1979 with very similar geopolitical consequences (Vietnam is now quite happy to have US engaged in South-East Asia as a counter-weight to China.)

In my opinion, besides the obvious consequential gains that such a war bestows on Russia, China, India, Israel, and a few others, there is also this huge loss to US: namely that the United States will have declared itself to be at war will all of Islam.

jonst

On a slightly different note...I think this latest disaster, the downed Brit copter, is going to spell doom to our entire efforts there. Given the vivid photos ops, and the background of the story, lessons drawn from it, it will turn out to be a mini-Black Hawk down episode. I believe this will be the tipping point. The few Americans left that don't want us out now will throw up their hands and say "screw it".

ckrantz

Something no one seems to mention is if a bombing campaign would be effective in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Equipment to quick start a nuclear program could have been stored elsewhere out of the country. The only way to be sure would be regime change which I suspect is not politically possible today.

Babak Makkinejad

ckrantz:

I agree with you.

But states go to war for emotional reasons as well as for ostensibly rational ones.

W. Patrick Lang

ckrantz

Far too cute. you don't run programs like this with some old crap stored in a cave. pl

ckrantz

Col:
How about in Sudan?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4943782.stm

jonst

Am I to take it that our govt will completly dismiss the first 'offical contact' from the govt of Iran, as 'nothing new'?

jonst

Clarification please. First 'offical contact' from the Pres of Iran's office to the American president.

Curious

US stock markets are not reflecting escalating risk, and the Fed is manipulating the indices via derivative purchases. Here's a good primer on how they're doing it:

Posted by: MarcLord | 05 May 2006 at 01:53 PM

Dude, The stock market is being pumped. that thing is gonna pop if the big money bails out.

It's that simple.

(dow didn't go anywhere for years, and suddenly it perks up in the last several weeks? why? lol.)

It's free money. cash in, then get out before the party is over. It's that simple.

Curious

Condi eff up. (highly predictable. Back at european table? This after Rice acting as if, with last european effort before transfering it to Russia? ...and now back to europe... we all gonna die because of these dumb asses. Iran is playing for time!)

So now, we gonna have high oil price for at least another 3-4 weeks. Summer is already here, poll are at 31%.

Things are gonna blow for sure.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/09/AR2006050901495.html

The initiative announced Tuesday -- and the fact that it was backed by the United States -- reflected the Bush administration's inability to persuade Security Council members Russia and China to back a United Nations resolution that takes a tougher line with Iran, including an implicit threat of sanctions.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a dinner meeting Monday night with Security Council members in another attempt to gain agreement on a more forceful approach. But diplomats said Moscow remains strenuously opposed on grounds that such a resolution could lead to military action.

Curious

To win decisively against Iran, US has to kill between 5 to 7 percent of the Iranian population. This is between 3 to 5 million people. Without using nuclear weapons against civilian targets, that is not possible.

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 06 May 2006 at 11:07 AM

no, the very problem is defining "what is winning"

if winning is defined ast stopping 'Iran' period. That's no problem. we just bomb the whole thing. But then what? we have some 40million pissed off people, plus a region that flip on us, not to mention global opinion. that on top of us, not getting the Iranian oil since we bomb all the facilities.

If we define winning as 'compliance' there is no need for militar force. Deal with Israel plus promise to turn Iran into radioactive glass if they mess the deal. That's one viable and real solution.
without war. But we have neocon in the office. no sane diplomats will take Condi's words. She has no credibility.

So... hence we are in LImbo. There are solution, but the cost is expensive. And doing nothing is easier.

My conclusion, Iran win, they play for time and they got their time. By Christmas they should have their nuke.

And the game will be different from then on.

Curious

In case everybody is still thinking the war with Iran is about lobing balistic missile.

This is the frontline.

dollar purchasing power
http://photobucket.com/albums/f53/midtowng/dollardecline.gif

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/10/105553/804

(note: must check all number)

Curious

whoa, somebody is really thinking hard how to whack Iran with ballistic missiles. Except it will also blurr the ability to differentiate nuclear launch or conventional.

yep, we are right back at cold war again. The conflict in Iraq has now spread all the way up to world powers.

(so it all begin with 9/11, then Iraq, recently escalating diplomatic row with Iran, now we pick a fight with Russia/China over Iran.

hey, let's start WWIII, why don't we. launch those SLBM see what China and Russia will do.)


http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060511/ts_nm/russia_arms_dc_1

Kremlin expresses alarm at US missile plans

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top Kremlin aide said on Thursday that reported moves by the United States to equip some strategic rockets with non-nuclear warheads were "irresponsible" and "extraordinarily dangerous" for Russia.

Curious

The diplomatic effort has collapsed. Rice completely eff it up. (bigger than I thought)

At least we are not in complete confrontational mode with the Russian. With the way things are going, we will soon enough. Russia will overtly start supplying massive amount of technology and lit up that nuclear reactor so Iran can start building Plutonium nuke. (ie. they can mount it on their missile)

8 more years to armageddon people. start your contdown.

my latest amateur take:

1. Iran will have their nuke soon. (very soon, less than 18 months)
2. We don't get anything out of it, not even a small deal. (increase stability in the region, or oil supply stability)


implication unknown yet.

--------
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/05/14/wrice14.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/05/14/ixnews.html

Bushehr nuclear plant. Already frustrated, Ms Rice, a Russia expert, took exception to his remarks about Mr Burns and curtly told her guest: "This meeting isn't going anywhere." The gathering in Ms Rice's suite had been intended as a 30-minute chat before dinner but turned into a two-hour session. By the time the foreign ministers sat down to eat at 10.30pm, their sea bass was shrivelled and, to Mrs Beckett's surprise, the bickering continued in front of senior officials.

BadTux

Some thoughts:

1. Iranian industry is clearly better now than it was in the 1980's. They even have some of their F-14's flying again, through purchase of some usable spare parts on the open market (generally dual-use things like bearings and such) and via manufacturing themselves most of the rest.

2. That said, the notion that they are going to put together enough centrifuges to make uranium bombs anytime soon is wishful thinking. That's a lot of freakin' centrifuges. They'd have to acquire a whole lot of bearings on the open market for that many centrifuges. Because there is only a half dozen manufacturers of appropriate bearings in the entire world, it's easy to track such purchases. The quickest way to a nuclear weapon is a nuclear reactor. Especially a heavy water reactor or a Chernobyl-style graphite-moderated reactor. I knew Pakistan was going for a nuclear weapon the moment they started construction of their heavy water reactor. But Iran's reactor is a light water reactor of a design that requires shutting down the entire reactor to insert and remove fuel rods. For weapons purpose, you must short-cycle the fuel rods so that the nice weapons-grade Pu-239 doesn't get irradiated up to more inert grades of plutonium not usable for weapons, because otherwise you are back to centrifuges again (ick!). Heavy water reactors can have rods inserted and extracted while the reactor is running, and make more Pu-239 in the first place because their rods contain more U-238 to irradiate into Pu-239. That makes them the preferred choice of nuclear proliferators. A light water reactor can be used too, but is far from ideal for the purpose.

3. Which brings up an even scarier thought: That Iran really *IS* building this reactor for electrical generation purposes. Why would they do so, you ask, if Iran is afloat in oil and natural gas? But what if they are NOT afloat in oil and natural gas? What if they've done the calculations, and the stated "known reserves" are fictitious lies and that they're actually going to start running dry within the next ten years? And what happens when their taps start drying up? All of the "peak oil" alarmists will suddenly look like the sane ones, as the world falls into chaos and the Oil Wars commence in earnest. If the invasion of Iraq wasn't already a first shot in the Oil Wars, that is...

-BT

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