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11 February 2007

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Gerard

Pat, have you seen the latest Newsweek report that a 3rd carrier group is being prepped for the Gulf? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17086418/site/newsweek/

Its kind of buried as an aside in the 4th paragraph, but you mentioned before that a 3rd group is an important milestone. Is this a disturbing sign or just some saber-rattling?

jr786

Col.,
Since it looks as if the administration got a 'pop no kick' instead of a 'smoking gun' out of its disclosures about Iranian weaponeering, do you think we are in for another Feith-based intelligence estimate?
Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I get the sense that Bushco knows the game is up, have sent Petraeus out there to do a little cosmetic surgery, and are setting up the Iranians as the blamed, but not attacked, culprits.

Rider

"...all of a sudden, things which have probably been going on for months and months and months..."

Excellent point and well-said, Colonel. The Pentagon says that the EFP's are taking more American lives now. But according to the NYT article this weekend, it sounds like the number goes up and down. There was a quote from a Lt. Col. Danna to the effect that there were not a lot of EFP's out there, and that they came out whenever there was a crackdown on Shiite militias. He called it "a political weapon." Bush of course sees his own purposes in them. Do you think the Iranians wanted the origin of these deadly weapons to be found out? Might that have a connection to their diplomatic overtures in Munich?

arbogast

The apparent difference between South Lebanon and Iraq is that US troops seem to be able to enter Shia areas whose support comes, in part, from Iran, whereas the IDF was not able to enter South Lebanon successfully, despite saturation bombing including the use of cluster bombs, whose use had been banned by the US, directed specifically against the civilian population.

The US is even able to "lock down" parts of Iraq to search for Shia extremists (cf. The Battle of Algiers):

Well, "lock down" is the correct metaphor. Iraq is a poorly administered prison (cf. Abu Ghraib) created by the US working as a surrogate for the IDF (cf. the parallel drawn by Colonel Lang).

Question: if saturation bombing and invasion, with little regard for the civilian population, didn't work in South Lebanon, where, today, few stones have been left standing on another, how will it work in Iraq?

Answer: the answer is not to be found within the borders of the US, only the administrative apparatus to carry out this folly.

arbogast

When Col. Lang speaks of the "discard pile" of national intelligence (a superb phrase, which I pray gets wider use), he is talking about the Office of the Vice President.

And I believe that "The Man from Wyoming", in the adulatory words of the Wall Street Journal, believes that he is channeling Ronald Reagan.

All of which makes the following column, astoundingly written by George Will, must reading. Must reading.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020901931.html

David E. Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I watched the interview moments ago.

Thanks for the great, sane analysis.

Please keep up the good work.

Maybe, all will not be lost to the lunacy of the "decider".

Regards,

David

R.L.

Very sorry I missed the show.From the transcript I can tell that this program was the first in several years where both guests were intelligent,reasonable,level headed thinkers.I bet Blitzer's mouth was open the whole time.Good thoughts well spoken Col. Lang.

confusedponderer

Laura Rozen made a good point on the 'Iranian supplied arms':

"... it's worth pointing out that 170 coalition forces killed by materiel allegedly made in Iran means almost 3,000 US soldiers -- almost 20 times that, or about 95% -- killed by something else."

http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/005635.html

The US would then, according to the US Administration argument, go to war with Iran over their contribution to 5% of the violent opposition in Iraq. Of course that is just 'outrage stuff'. It is in fact about the Bushite pipedream of finding a Shiite who is stupid enough to be with the US, secular - and against Iran, Sadr and the Sunni and at least indifferent to the Kurds. Ambitious people of that sort are a rare breed with a short lifespan.

Considering the Shia majority it can be expected that at attack on Iran would boost the Shia contribution to US casualties. But can be easily spun that way: It would be be used as a post-factum justification and presented (with Powerpoint, no doubt) as proof of evil Iranian intent right from the start.

Arun

Even if it turns out to be overwhelmingly in the national interest to attack Iran, it is NOT in the national interest to attack Iran with Bush, Cheney & Co in charge.

Leigh

I saw a magnificent four-color picture of the "supplied munitions". What struck me as interesting is that the labeling done on the sample was in English not Arabic nor Farsi.

taters

I was fortunate to catch you on Late Edition, Col. Lang. Like I've stated before, you really bring out the best in Wolf Blitzer. It was excellent. Between what you stated, Ray Takeyh and the Milt Bearden piece that you posted - we really get an excellent appraisal of what is going on. Thank you.

meletius

Let's not forget that in the insane moral calculus of today's world leaders and media folks, it was completely reasonable and justifiable for Israel to bomb Lebanon back to the iron age because a single unwary patrol of Israeli soldiers was attacked by Hezbollah.

So under this precedent, the "proven" killing of a single American by an "Iranian agent" will certainly be enough of an act of war for Washington to level Iran's infrastucture.

The next time one of these things goes off and kills a soldier, that could be declared the causus belli.

chew2

Colonel,

Question sspecifically about the shaped charged IED's that Iran has allegedly supplied to the Shia militia since 2004.

1. Has there been any evidence of IED use by the Shia as opposed to the Sunni. They are alleging 170 killed specifically by these devices since 2004.

2. Why couldn't these shaped charges be fabricated by former regime elements in Iraq (in auto machine shops or elsewhere)? The shaped charges reportedly involve pvc pipe and copper war heads. Isn't copper a pretty soft metal and easily machined?

3. Is there any prior reporting detailing that these type of devices were used or possessed by Hezbollah or other guerillas over the years?

Brent Wiggans

Cast in the best possible light, that they were just getting a “second opinion”, the administration still must answer for consistently choosing the wrong analysis. They can choose their poison: incompetence or fraud. Denial has finally been rendered ridiculous by relentless reality. The mess in Iraq has overwhelmed the propaganda. The misdirection being created around Iran is a desperate and reflexive response that will not garner the hoped for support at home. Time for lots of smoke, personal exit strategies and, of course, “looking to the future”.

Nancy Kimberlin

re comment by Arun, I cannot imagine it being in the national interest of the US to attack Iran, whether the President is Bush, Clinton, Obama or Guiliani or McCain. We are not doing so well in Iraq, and Iran is another story all togather. It would be too reminiscent of Vietnam, where we had to destroy the villages to save them. I cannot imagine the rest of the world sitting back and watching us destroy Iran.

dan of steele

If this thread is still alive, I would like to know why the date on the mortar represents the Gregorian calendar whereas the Iranians use a different calendar? The date shown on that mortar round occurs almost 500 years in the future.

also, some munitions have "Lot" numbers. Is there no such word in Farsi?

much has been made of none of the military wanting to go on record for any of this. why would that be? If these are true facts, what would anyone fear?

thanks

Sgt.York

RE: "Iranians... are providing the most sophisticated explosives that can take out an Abrams battle tank."

Jebus! You mean the Iranians are supplying RPG29s, SPG-9s, and M19 anti-tank mines?

Nevermind, apparently we still talking about Iraqi Sunnis building "MacGyver Bombs" in the local machine shop. A pipe bomb with a concave brass cap (EFP) isn't sophisticated.

=================

ali

I'm very suspicious about this, the administration has always greatly exagerated the role foriegners play in the insurgency.

This is far too flimsy to provide a justification for an attack on Iran but it does not look like the usual pack of lies. I'm a worried it's about being able to say I told you so as they retailiate and the flag drapped coffins get replaced with body bags.

There's evidence that some Iranian light weapons are finding their way to Shiite militias, credible I think, but there is really no sign of something like China arming the ARVN.

The militias are closely linked to the ruling Shi'a parties they all have very good connections in Iran. Badr in particular is trained by the IRGC. Weapons prices have been soaring in Iraq as the nation prepares itself for a bloodbath. Iraqi Army weapons are being sold to the insurgents. You just need one Iranian quartermaster with an eye on the main chance to explain this.

It's not impossible that Qods Force are handing out munitions to the Sunni insurgents who are the main threat to US forces. The Iranians are subtle chaps; they'll arm them and happily slaughter them later.

But if the Iranians move it will be mainly in Maysan, Basra not the peripheral Sunni KZ of al Anbar. It would be logical to prepare their retaliation in the South. Arms dumps would be part of that and we may have some seepage getting onto the market.

There is no real evidence this ace in the hole is in play yet; there would be an awful lot of dead Squadies if it was. Just over 132 have died in Iraq. The IRA killed 80 or so British soldiers in 72 alone. If anything the Iranians are biding their time and holding the militias back.

But its the EFPs that are the core of the story and the weakest part. A well equipped light machine shop can make an EFP. They are practically admitting they are being assembled in Iraq. Iraq is full of trained military engineers. The insurgency has always been entrepreneurial in nature and has demonstrated in the past a ability to innovate rapidly in technical matters. Just Email them the blueprints and leave them to it, a very deniable way of "disseminating the technology". That's about how thin this is; it is so deniable could just as well be the Saudis.

This isn't even a great topic for the administration to bring up. The big IEDs that occasionally kill a squad of Marines are mostly constructed from munitions looted from arms dumps we left unsecured.

meletius

Assume the Military's super-IED story is true to some degree:

1. Why didn't we just bring it to the attention of the sovereign government of Iraq to bring up with their neighbor Iran?

2. If we presented Maliki with these super-IED "facts", and he downplays them, dismisses them or doesn't care, then how committed is his government to disarming shi'ite militias, which supposedly both the US and his government wish to accomplish? What should that tell us?

Do we need to demand that independent, sovereign Iraq "elect" yet another prime minister?

Chris Marlowe

I'm convinced that Cheney just has bloodlust, and wants to kill, kill and kill. He doesn't really care who American forces are killing, as long as he doesn't have to admit that Iraq and the PNAC plan was a debacle from the beginning.

How else can you expect a ME foreign policy which is completely incoherent without clear friends and enemies, without any clear goals and any chance, or even definition, of victory?

And what does congress do? Nothing! What kind of democracy is this?

This article explains how the US has prevented Israel from negotiating with Syria:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IB13Ak05.html

The following article explains how Tehran is using American forces in Iraq to kill anti-Iranian Shi'ite Iraqis.

The Americans may be dumber than shit, but they have very nice weapons which should be used against their enemies, according to the view from Tehran. Can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if I were in their position.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IB13Ak04.html

John Shreffler

The "Iranian" munitions pictured in the PowerPoint are from a U.S. Army field manual, according to Jeff Huber.

http://zenhuber.blogspot.com/2007/02/iran-nyt-repeats-history-wapo-rewrites.html

walrus

An excellent interview Col. Lang, and a measured response to the hysteria sellers.

Considering the Iran/Iraq war and subsequent events, I'm sure that there is a more than adequate supply of just about every type and nationality of weapon and munition in Iraq.

I support you conclusion that Iranian weaponry must be filtering across the border, after all smuggling has been stock in trade throughout the entire middle
East for centuries. Whether it is official Iranian Government policy, or unofficial "looking the other way" I wouldn't know.

As for the "sophisticated" shaped charge, and the allegation that "parts" (presumably the liner) are coming from Iran, I think its possible, but in any case, so what, unless of course we are going to have a repeat of the war of Jenkins ear?

It would be interesting, to me at least, to track down the source of the copper used in the liner. Is sheet copper easily available in Iraq? What sort of explosive is used and who makes it?

As for its production, unless it was chemically milled and perhaps tapered (and I can't think why you would do that), it could be produced by anyone with access to an old lathe and a press, or a metal spinning machine, or even by a patient man with a hammer and a block of wood.

John Howley

Thanks, Col. If we manage to avoid the worst, you will deserve some of the credit.

Today's WaPo has an article by the inestimable Shadid; he wanders around Cairo chatting to folks about the Sunni-Shia thang. Linked to the article is an online chat transcript on the same topic.

His feeling is that while sectarian differences are real, they don't run very deep. (Outside of Iraq madness, of course.) Hence, the transnational confrontation seems artificial and concocted.

So, if the US attacks Iran, who is to say that the Sunni street wouldn't line up with their Muslim brothers in Iran, creating even more problems for our "moderate" friends in the region?

Alex Mackenzie

Good points Ali. However, I doubt very much that China armed ARVN.

johnf

chew2

>. Has there been any evidence of IED use by the Shia as opposed to the Sunni. They are alleging 170 killed specifically by these devices since 2004.

I think the British have been hit by these devices on several occasions around Basra, but senior British officers deny vehemently that they were of Iranian origin.

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