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29 August 2007

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Robert Stormer

Thank you all for answering my post (typos included). Like I said I am no military authority, but I just needed to have someone flag me to see if I was running aground or on course.

Yes its not rocket science and yes if we do attack Iran they do have the capability to inflict some losses especially in the Gulf. Three Carrier battle Groups make nice targets. If one plays the odds the Iranians will get at least one ship and its crew.

On my last visit to the region the squawk on the Gulf was indeed preparing for some kind of assault. Yeah it will keep me and others in my biz employed but thats not the way we want to be employed.

Its one thing if we were at war with Iran its another to start one at this point.

I have no doubt that we can inflict the greater damage but its not worth the cost of another American life or United States Ship.

Just not worth it. This is one fight that we are very late in the game playing with....

I can only hope that the American people will not stand for it, though I have my doubts.

Thanks


Edward Merkle

"So what will Russia do when Cheney attacks Iran?"

Supply Iran.


"But to gain what? 12% of OPEC oil will be taken off the market."

So let's look at the result for oil investors after the Iraq invasion:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/oil/story/0,11319,1402979,00.html

"Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly quoted oil and gas firm, yesterday said it made $25bn (£13bn) in 2004, the highest profits in the company's history."

"The record profits were achieved on the back of the surge in oil and gas prices last year due to high demand and instability in some of the biggest producing nations."

And then there's the "Ex-President's Club" The Carlyle Group, read it and try to hold your cynicism in check:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/wtccrash/story/0,1300,583869,00.html

kim

at some point it might be a good thing for someone to consider the peeople.

i used to chat with iranian people. all i chatted with expressed positive, friendly feeling toward the american people. this matched what i was reading in world newspapers, about the "westernization tendencies" (best i can come up with at the moment, ok?) of the iranian people, especially the younger ones. you know, western type dress, western type music, western type obsession with communication gadgets and the open communication and social life that follows from that obsession.

even in oppressive states, the people are powerful, 'cause there are an awful lot of them. we saw that in the soviet union and its satellite states. just takes a little time sometimes.

ok, so what i'm saying is, american government, by word and deed, encouraged the iranian people to elect their current president. attacking iran would encourage them to actually strongly support him, and also to support the ayatollahs.

my unsupported, but confidently held guess: with real diplomacy (including re the mess in iraq) the iranian people will evolve iran beyond the islamic republic within ten years.

or maybe i'm just an uninformed goofball, in which case i should run for some public office or other.

but, really, i think that we the people should remember that the names in the news are not the only players, and there are different games.

Montag

Nazi Armaments Minister Albert Speer learned the true value of the promises by Air Power enthusiasts when he instigated the formation of a special bomber squadron to bomb Soviet production plants. After the first bombing raid on a plant he was looking at the aerial photographs of the damage with some Luftwaffe officers and the general consensus was that the plant was permanently kaput. Then he brought in the German manager of a similar plant that had been repeatedly bombed by the Allies. The man proceeded to circle vital areas of the plant that had escaped serious damage. His assessment? "Back in production in two weeks."

jonst

I believe we, the US, are at a Ft Sumpter moment. It is not my intention to pass judgment on what happened that day in SC. Rather, to say; we are at a crossroads of that magnitude. If we are lulled/propagandized into attacking Iran we will not come out it as the same nation we are now. So, who in DC is going to stand up to Bush? It is going to be any interesting Fall to say the least.

Cold War Zoomie

Col Lang-

Your experience seems to be a common theme with CAS.

For my fellow commenters...

The article below is interesting. It showcases how dangerous Close Air Support is while also proving, merely by its existence (it was published right before we invaded Iraq), how flawed the "shock and awe" mentality was going into Iraq.

Global Security Article

The Lounsbury

Makkinjad
I take strong exception to your characterization: ""Iran is a vile, repressive state run by loathsome people"


What the bloody hell are you on about? I didn't write that. Read more carefully.

And I suppose US is the New Jerusalem, the City on the Hill, run by saints that are right there doing Christ's work.

Leaving aside that what you're objecting to was written by someone else, let me point out that the Iranian regime's repressiveness can exist at the same time as say American idiocy or provincialism. Not an either or proposition.

Binh

Col, you write: "The current IO campaign against Iran makes it seem more and more plausible that such an onslaught will be attempted."

Sorry if this is a stupid question: what's IO?

Also, people may have missed this, but the Senate has already signed off on the "Iran is killing our troops with EFPs" story the Cheney administration will cite as causus belli:

http://prisonerofstarvation.blogspot.com/2007/07/senate-dems-vote-for-war-with-iran.html

William R. Cumming

A recent book (2006) entitled "House of War" by James Carroll looks at strategic bombing as well as nuclear strike policy from the Truman era to the Present. Its worth recalling the differences between strategic attack and tactical attack. What would an attack on Iran really be "strategic" or "tactical." There is substantial evidence published and publically available that the Iranians have not just been posturing but working hard since 1979. See Mark Bowen's fine book "Guests of the Ayatollah" for background. They have invested heavily and contracted extensively to build key underground facilities, prompted in part by fear of another Iraqi war and WMD. The Germans have helped enormously in this effort.
Suggest that if the US Air Force and Navy want to demonstrate their complete irrelvancy to diplomacy, energy availability even to DOD, and the globalized world, they attack Iran pushed by President Bush. Rumsfeld knew the world had changed but the military did not. In a way his support of the Iraqui invasion and occupation demonstrates his concerns. He failed at reform and now the flag rank officers having won that battle continue to waste the valuable lives of Junior Officers, and capable long-service enlisted lives in futility. We need a capable military that can think and fight in a globalized world. Do we have the brain power we need to protect US security over the next 50 years. The Iranians have read "Fire in The East" by Paul Bracken (1969) also and what will be the impact of a sunken US city (carrier) or the tactical nuking of a deployed military city like Quatar?
Time for bluff and posturing is over and now we really need good poker players because we are up against the best and the hole card of cheap energy and ready access is 25 years in the past. What is Congress thinking about? What are the defense chieftans thinking about? What are the American people thinking about? If there are allies, what are they thinking? The American tradition is coalitions not unilateralism. Why is that?
Been successful perhaps?

João Carlos

Juan Cole don't have good news from the iranian's front. If the information he provide is correct, we will have some interesting times after the labour day. You know, there is an ancient chinese curse: "that you have interesting times".

Maybe be time for general Pat Lang start some posts about what can happen if the Iran War start. For example?
1. how much time they can mantain closed the strait?
2. their sunburn and other weapons are a problem for US fleet? They can really sink any ship?
3. their land-land missiles, they will burn Saudi oil production or they will use them for burn US bases?
4. the iraq shia, we know they are fragmented polliticall and that the Mahdi and the Badr are fighting over the power at the souht, but can they join for defend Iran?
5. Iran have some kind of missile defence system for hit the bombers, can they defend themselves efficiently aginst the US air force?
6. Iran can send their Revolutionay Guards for fight the US soldiers at iraq?
7. Are we going down a fall inside a casket?
8. It is time for panic?
9. Bush just made Putin, well, in portuguese is "puto da vida", you know, that missile defence system at east europe, so... what the chinese and the russian will do?

João Carlos
sorry the bad english

linda

ugh, i've been wondering for a while what your opinion was on this possibility. this really isn't what i'd hoped to read.

it is unfrigginbelieveable that this is even under consideration -- from the intitial ramp-up when the teevee chattermonkeys made the concept of the use of 'tactical nukes' an acceptable part of the discussion, to the cowardice of the democrats who removed language requiring congressional support for an attack from the appropriations bill.

it's amazing to me that the 'rationale' for such a strike is to prevent iran's nuclear ambitions. if that's your deepest fears, by all means attack iran, and watch your nightmares be realized within days in pakistan.

i've wondered for a long while if cheney isn't actually an agent of the iranians, since every damned thing he's done has been to their benefit.

Nicholas Weaver

IO: Information Operations.

Aka Propaganda.

Curious

The war with Iran is on, it seems. All the usual domestic political move is being executed.

in the next 2 months, all usual TV channel will talk nothing but attacking Iran.

Iran logical option:

- Make US logistic line as long as possible,
-destroy all oil supply point,
-create a condition where burn rate is high and expensive. (destroy all small support ships, nearby military bases, create chaos in major gulf city to suck up gas because of population movement, etc.)
- Make the entire persian gulf into whack a mole, search and hunt arena.

It's use it or lose it for all Iranian "visible" military installation.

1. Destroy Suez canal
2. Destroy Kuwait (port, oil facility, create chaos so Kuwait cannot provide support)
3. destroy Iraq's only seaport. (create situation where troop in Iraq will need even more supplies)
4. destroy all oil port in the gulf (Saudi, Yemen, Qatar, economic war.)
5. They will attack all large fuel depots in gulf region) This is the easiest and most obvious move.
6. All major city in gulf coast is a target, create population panic to soak up gas and drive up price.
7. after that it's persian gulf war (tanker and pipeline war.)

----

Result, oil price will go up approaching $150 within a month, near $200 after 3 month. More if there is domestic supply damage.

The first US bombing will last about 3 weeks (the length of domestic political support)

After that the real war begins. If Iran survives the initial 3 weeks bombing, all hell breaks lose.

It's battle of attrition after that.

The craziest guy wins.

Clifford Kiracofe

1.The constitutional issue:

The power to declare war was vested in Congress under the Constitution.
Congress duly declared war in WWI and WWII. Since then, we have been in a constitutional crisis per War Powers: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq...and Iran next.

The traditional Republican perspective of "Mr. Republican", US Senator Bob Taft:

"If in the great field of foreign policy the President has the arbitrary and unlimited powers he now claims, then there is an end to freedom in the United States and not only in the foreign field but in the great realm of domestic activity which necessarily follows any foreign commitments...a document was submitted to Congress...this document contains the most unbridled claims for the authority of the President that I have ever seen in cold print. In effect, the document asserts that whenever in his opinion American foreign policy requires he may send troops to any point whatsoever in the world, no matter what the war in which the action may involve us....That certainly is a complete misrepresentation of the discussion of these constitutional powers which has taken place since the foundation of the nation." (US Senator Robert Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans, NY: Doubleday, 1951, pp. 24-25).

So just what has happened to the Republican Party since the Taft and Eisenhower Era?


2. We get to Nixon with George Shultz lurking at OMB and all the rest. For which see,
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Imperial Presidency (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973).

Congress attempts to remedy the Imperial side with the War Powers Act the effect of which was a millisecond if that.


Congress rubber stamps Iraq War but is too morally corrupt and cowardly to actually declare war. There were NO serious hearings in ANY Congressional committee in EITHER the House or Senate...just rubber stamp for those who recall that era with precision. Three quarters of the Senate and three quarters of the House vote to "authorize" President to use force.

Same for Iran as we see today.

3. Bearing in mind the federal, state, and local emergency response to the Katrina event, what if Iran, adopting an asymmetric strategy, runs simultaneous attacks against say 3 or so major American cities....they won't use the nukes they don't have but they could be creative nonetheless....anthrax, easy to cook up could be a favorite, who knows?..lots of scenarios...but merely responding in Iraq or Lebanon, while likely, is still not really bringing war to their enemy's homeland. It would seem prudent to assume they would retain some residual capability for such asymmetric action against the US homeland despite Beltway delusions about some apocalyptic destruction of "Babylon's"
neighbor.

4. The other major powers stand aside and let the US continue with its strategic blunders and with its downward spiral. When the dust settles, they can reassess the situation and make the necessary adjustments to protect their national interests.

I agree with the Pogo Theory.

David W

I doubt that Hugo Chavez would look kindly on a US attack on Iran, and obviously, he's 'off the reservation' as far as US influence is concerned. In the best case scenario, Venezuela makes billions more off its oil, further solidifying its position of influence in Central America, killing off the previous generations of attempted US influence in the region.

Ironically, the Cheney/Bush regime is pursuing a Dinosaur strategy to the bitter end.

dan

Joao

The Iranians don't have to "close" the Straits of Hormuz for there to be severe consequences, and it is doubtful that they would even bother trying that hard to do so. That doesn't mean that they won't play some games that force the US into doing it for them, thereby shooting itself square in the forehead.

Given that some 14mpbd plus of oil transits the Straits on a daily basis, it only takes a minor disruption ( say 10-20% ) for crude prices to go skyrocketing upwards. This level of disruption extending beyond a week is going to result in the US administration being involved in some very interesting shouting matches with its "friends", and every US congressperson and senator fielding irate calls from their non-energy/non-defense financial contributors about how they can forget any campaign monies this cycle if they don't stop the madness. The Iranian goal, in this theatre, would be to extend disruption for as long as possible and to goad the USN/USAF into making mistakes.

At any rate, the Iranians have MUCH better, more achievable, options at their disposal anyway - the Kuwaiti pipeline/loading infrastructure, for example, is well within range of their missiles/special forces and, as an added bonus, may even be considered lawful targets due to the inability of Kuwait to claim neutrality ( given its pivotal status to the US military in the region ) in a US-Iran conflict.

The simple fact of a shooting war in the area is going to deter commercial shipping - particularly as Lloyds will likely invoke war risks exemptions to marine insurance policies. Minimal requirements to get around this will be naval escorts from competent neutral third parties - I wonder how long it would take the Indian and Russian navies to turn up?

Considering that Iran controls a number of islands ( Abu Musa, Sirri, Keshm, Jazireh etc ) in very close proximity to the shipping lanes, they constitute a "threat" that will have to be neutralised, particularly as the Iranians thought it might be a good idea to locate some anti-ship/anti-aircraft missile batteries at these locations. It's also worth noting that Keshm is a large island, a couple of KM from the Iranian coast, and its area is similar to that of Lebanon South of the Litani. I don't know how "militarised" it is - but its utility for maritime interdiction operations is obvious.

Countering the threat is the killer problem as it is hard to see the USN/marines being able to take the islands and/or deal with Iranian retaliation along the length of their Persian Gulf littoral without effectively turning key pieces of maritime real estate into a shooting gallery for, at the very least, a few days ( and that's assuming the usual heroic narrative of rapid US military success ).

In reality, the party closing the Straits will be the US navy/airforce, not the Iranians - which is an awkward position for Washington to be in, as it emphasises the moral recklessness of what they're doing.

Babak Makkinejad

The Lounsbury:

I apologize for mis-directing my missive at you - the target was Nicholas Weaver.

William R. Cumming

Correction: Paul Bracken's book "Fire In The East" is dated 1999 not 1969.

pw

I have no doubt that the US can accurately service 10,000 odd DMPIs in an impressively short period of time. Thing is, so what ? If the Iranians disperse, camouflage and decoy even half as well as the Serbs did they will still have more then enough hardware intact to raise all sorts of merry hell.

What will happen though is that the average Iranian civilian will suffer. A lot. For that is what happens when infrastructure - fixed targets, ones that can be found and pre-targeted - are hit. And - funny old thing - they will blame the US for this, not the current regime.

The result will be an adequately equipped and very motivated Iranian force that wishes nothing more than to kill the Americans just over the border from them. Unless of course they've already infiltrated Iraq (some of the 1 million or so pilgrims perhaps ?) and are poised to cut the supply lines as soon as the first bombs fall.

And another question for you - how many of the "Iraqi" Army will die on behalf of the US when all they see on the news is endless footage of civilians slaughtered by faceless cowards (*) flying out of sight of the ground just over the border ?

(*) Not my view - but I'm damn sure it will be the average Middle East viewer's opinion.

Then again, the endless discussions of high tech old school naval warfare vs swarms in the littoral will get some juicy data points. We might not like the results though.

And what do Iran's other oil customers do if the US shuts their supplies down by bombing Iranian oil plants ? India won't be happy, China has a large amount of leverage over US financial interests - and remind me again what the Japanese reaction was the last time the US interfered with their access to oil ?

Finally, the US does not look credible as a real threat to the Iranian regime (leaving nukes aside). All they can do is bomb, and bombs will do nothing but unite the Iranians against the US. Kill enough Iranians and they will be ready for a long, long war (as Saddam found out). The US though does not appear to be. Will the US people support significant tax increases to fund genuine increases in troop numbers just as the economy gets worse ? From this side of the pond, it doesn't look like it but I'd be happy for any US nationals to tell me I'm wrong.

Ian

Hezbollah demonstrated that well fortified troops can survive and keep fighting despite a protracted bombing campaign by a modern, American equipped air force. Presumably their Iranian patrons have a similar skill set, with the added advantage of having some good SAMs. If Hezbollah's lobbing missiles at Israel could not be stopped, it seems likely that Iran's capability to fire anti-ship missiles into the Gulf likewise can't be bombed away.

I don't know how to assess how effective a swarm of the latest generation of missiles would be against the American navy, but I can't imagine the Gulf will be a fun place to captain an oil tanker if worst comes to worst.

If the administration hopes to bomb Iran's civilian infrastructure with the aim of toppling the government, well, good luck with that. As ever, strategic bombing will prove both ineffective and monstrous.

It's a pity that your country is currently ruled by madmen.

isl

My prediction is that China would use its "nuclear option" (stop funding the US economy, dump T-Bills) as they would be quite unhappy with the US long-term interdiction of one of their main sources of oil. Absent Chinese/Asian funding, the US could either emergency raise taxes (not likely) by circa 50%, or kick off inflation - US Account Deficit is pushing a trillion ($856 billion in 2006!!) which can only be financed externally plus a domestic deficit of $600 billion plus (real, not on budget).

Consider that oil is nearing $100 bbl based on supply and demand, and a decent Gulf hurricane easily would blow past $100. Thus, $200 bbl likely is low for the scenarios discussed above.

Oil in the range $200-$500 is not in the interest of anyone in the world, and IMHO, would be final straw that would convince the rest of the world the US is too dangerous to tolerate - we would be left to get our economy in order on our own. Imagine economic shock therapy applied during a shooting war by the most unpopular administration in modern history.

No one wins, but the US loses much more. Having a variable mortgage, my hope is that key foreign leaders can communicate via major CEOs not to take a lose-lose big approach to inside the bubble where the Bush admin resides.

Moralist

Attack Iran? Would this be a moral war or an evil war?Unleashed by men seeking to preserve a future they know nothing of? How many dead Iranians to make you Americans feel good about yourselves?
Is there really no other way for your politicians to serve you than to attack a unified Nation which has a history which goes back Millenia and has made no move to attack you? Why not provide free health care in your ghettos instead of killing people who hold no ill will nor pose any threat?
If you do attack without cause and use (Horror of horrors) nuclear weapons in a first-strike... would not Mankind be justified in holding the USA to be the most vile Nation ever to have existed?
Which innocents would you target next to "secure resources" for your tiny elite?
How should your "allies" respond?
How will your allies respond?
What will they think of you?
What will you think of yourselves?
Or will the truth be forever repressed... that if the Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Strike in the face of imminent threat has any validity 'twas Saddam who was most justified to exercise such and not GWB/USA as events have shown.
Similarly for Iran. The Americans are now the bully boys and the killers .

Charles

10,000 targets from 200 bombers (plus cruise missiles) is possible if you simply assume that every bomb hits "a target." With smart bomb technology, it's theoretically possible, but experience shows that air war always overpromises and underperforms. Also, smart bombs are expensive, so dumb bombs continue to predominate.

The main fault with Plesch&Martin is that there is reason to believe we have no reliable intelligence from within Iran. If correct, that means that all targeting has to be done by image analysis. Presumably the Iranians are not unaware of this, and are taking countermeasures. I would bet we end up bombing a lot of empty sites.

There is also absolutely no reason to believe that so-called Robust Earth Penetrators are able to take out hardened sites. However, even using conventional weapons, we could succeed in spilling nuclear and toxic waste over civilian populations in a manner that would unify just about the entire world--especially key nations like Pakistan and Turkey-- against us.

Plesch and Martin note that this scenario was war gamed a few years ago.

The US lost.

The sheer stupidity of this plan makes it plausible that it will be used.

TR Stone

"The craziest guy wins."
OMG, is this what the 21st century has wrought!
It makes one wish our guy was the crazy one-not the STUPID ONE!

Clifford Kiracofe

Iran and Groupthink per Jim Lobe column:

"On the heels of President George W. Bush’s latest threats against Iran for its “murderous activities” in Iraq, the Weekly Standard has obligingly published a 30-page report by Kimberly Kagan, spouse of Surge co-architect and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Frederick Kagan and director of an entity called The Institute for the Study of War, entitled “Iran’s Proxy War Against the United States and the Iraqi Government” ....
K. Kagan, who has accompanied her husband on some of his guided tours of Iraq (and indeed helped escort Bill Kristol on his trip there last month), is, like her husband, a military historian who, according to her bio, has taught at the U.S. Military Academy....
Kimberley’s doctorate from Yale University was in Ancient History, which must gladden the heart of her father-in-law, Yale classicist (and neo-conservative) who also specializes in military history, Donald Kagan, under whom I presume she studied. Of course, her brother-in-law is Robert Kagan, one of neo-conservatism’s leading thinkers. Which once again helps illustrate just how small and incestuous the neo-conservative elite is, what with the Kristol-Himmelfarbs, the Podhoretz-Decter-Abrams, the Kagans, the Gaffneys (Frank and Devon) siblings, and the Ledeens (Michael, Barbara, and Simone), to the most prominent. It’s no wonder that they are so susceptible to groupthink."

http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/?p=60

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