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29 August 2007


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Nicholas Weaver

Whats so unfrigginbelievably stupid, putting the Foxtrot in Charlie-Foxtrot, is that any random person with an active imagination or first-year West Point cadet could detail all the ways Iran could and would make our lives totally miserable if we were foolish enough to start bombing.

Iran is a vile, repressive state run by loathsome people, but they got us by the short-and-curlies right now.

The Lounsbury

Just like risk pricing models for highly complex structured finance, eh mate?

Robert Stormer

Colonel Lang

I have been an avid reader of your blog and I am not going to pretend that I am someone who has any great depth of knowledge of military tactics especially in the ME region.

I am impressed though with the knowledge many of your readers espouse.

However I have spent a great deal of time in that region including being contracted to the US Navy SUPSALV during the Gulf War as a Master Salvor for the company I was working with at the time.

My last visit in the Persian Gulf was last July during a ship collision. It was an interesting visit to say the least.

Though I have to be honest with you. I just do not get it.

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

What am i missing here? The Shia in Baghdad as very much aligned with Tehran. The MOIS and the QUDS Force have been operational in that theater for sometime now.

There is a sectarian fight going on between the Sunni and Shia and if that is not bad enough we are contemplating doing what? Bombing Iran?

Let see if this old seaweed picker gets this. We have some 160,000 service members in theater, with the ratio of support to trigger pullers (last I heard Army 5 to 1 and Marines 3 to 1) we have what? Some 17,000 actual triggers pullers caught in the middle of a quazi civil war?

And we are going to attack Iran and potentially turn what ever Shia support we have against us, placing our guys and gals really in harms way?

Why? Has everyone in DC last there minds?

I am really having a very hard time understanding this strategy. Can you really break it down for me? Or is my thinking off the wall?



Sadly Col. Lang, I've read the article and I have to agree with you.

I also believe an attack is going to happen sooner rather than later after reading the "Fact Sheet" (sic) about the Iraq war and reading the text of the President's speech to the American Legion a few days ago on the Whitehouse website.

My guess is also that the Air Force are the great cheerleaders for an attack on Iran. There are rumblings one can hear at places like Smallwarsjournal.com from Airforce Officers who are miffed at their comparative irrelevance in Counterinsurgency matters. Likewise I would expect they would also be miffed at the way the military budget pie is being divided these days. An attack on Iran, mainly from the air, would salve their fragile egos a little.

I also believe that Bush, in his total wooden headed folly, will interpret the slow progress in Iraq to be a result of deliberate action by Iran. The "Fact Sheet" calls on Iran to stop helping the Shia militias "at once".

This suggests to me that the final wooden headed folly has been committed - interpreting negative information (Can't show that Iran's Government are supporting the attacks on U.S. Forces) as positive (Ergo, Iran's Government are using proxies to hide their involvement).

My guess is that the Petraeus status report will pave the way for the issue of an ultimatum to Iran, and like most ultimatums issued in the twentieth century, will be carefully crafted to insure there is no possibility that Iran will comply.

The wild cards in such a situation are Russia and China.

God help us all.

frank durkee

The paper brings to mind the report of an exercise run before the '03 invasion. It focused on an atttack, as I recall, on the Iranian areas along the Persian Gulf. the "enemy" forces were led by a retired Marin Corps General who managed to maintain effective command and control and to inflict significant damage on the allied naval forces through a variety of ruses. thes, as I recall, included, using bycycles as the means of relaying orders and small boat swarms to inflict naval damage. His tactics were effective enough that the exercise was stopped. He was told to play differently and he walked. Obviously lessons were learned, by both sides as a result of the publicity.
there is probably little question that we could inflict massive damage to the iranian infrastructure and thus to the society. whether that would produce the results we anticipate is entirely a different question. perhaps yes and perhaps no. My own sense is that it would tend to create a significant alliance against us among some Islamic states, Russia, China and other states. I doubt that any of the supporters of bombing iran are soing 'worst case analysis'.
If we do bomb Iran without Congressional debate and approval it is clear to me that we will have lost our Republic, perhaps irremedially.


I am no big defender of Iran, but are the leaders of Iran any more "vile and loathsome" than say the leaders of Saudia Arabia, Egypt, pick any central Asian state, China...many of whom our are allies?

Everybody keeps talking about why we should NOT attack Iran. Can someone please tell me why we should attack Iran? Oh yeah, and for meddling in Iraq...well if that is causis belli, then we should attack Saudia Arabia.


Hello Rob,
No, you're not being stupid. The USA recovered from the Great Depression of the 1930's by obtaining unbridled access to Saudi oil (as well as home sources) after WWII. The dollar's current value is tied inextricably to the sum total of all policies since then. I myself have a hard time seeing the "inherent" value we have increasingly been attaching to a non-renewable resource.
It's not rocket science, but it allows rocket science to exist. It's not great humour, but it describes human folly. Plus it's not a given that the oil will be ours.

Has everyone in DC lost their minds?

to your list of Charlatans...sorry, proponents of exclusive Air Power, allow me to suggest a palliative (since no cure is apparently available); General Joseph Stilwell.
In Tuchman's biography, the contrtemps between him and Chenault over the primacy of offensive air assets, form one of the most interesting parts of the narrative.
He would know this is wrong (mainly because the underlying assumptions can charitably be described as batshit insane) and that it sure ain't no way to plan or fight a war.
But, I guess it keeps the Rand Corp. types in moccasins.

John Shreffler


In response to your question, "Why? Has everyone in DC last there minds?" the answer is just 2 of them: Cheney and Bush. Everything else you say about the illogic of it all is spot on. A bad remake of Fort Apache is upon us.


Hello Rob,
No, you're not being stupid. The USA recovered from the Great Depression of the 1930's by obtaining unbridled access to Saudi oil (as well as home sources) after WWII. The dollar's current value is tied inextricably to the sum total of all policies since then. I myself have a hard time seeing the "inherent" value we have increasingly been attaching to a non-renewable resource.
It's not rocket science, but it allows rocket science to exist. It's not great humour, but it describes human folly. Plus it's not a given that the oil will be ours.


Rob: And we are going to attack Iran and potentially turn what ever Shia support we have against us, placing our guys and gals really in harms way?

Re: Shia support

If I may, what Shias support the US?

I think that a sort of `Who's Who in Iraq' is a great desideratum.

I think that if the histories of
al-Maliki, al-Hakim, Bayn Jabr, et al become more public it would become extremely clear why the US is fuct and has been fuct since it deposed SH in 2003.

With the help of Iran and Syria, Al-Maliki has spent the last twenty plus years of his life trying to Islamicize Iraq and now the US is expecting him to plunge daggers in the backs of his former hosts and sponsors?

Check out this exchange btw al-Maliki and Sect Cheney:

Bush warns Iraq on chemical arms U.S. fears use of weapons against rebels. Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1991 [snip]

Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party said in Damascus, Syria, that mustard gas was used against protesters in al-Haleh, al-Kifil, Najaf and some areas of Basra, in southeastern Iraq.

Precisely what is going on inside Iraq is difficult to determine since Western reporters have been expelled.

Most information is coming from refugees and opposition leaders in Iran and Syria.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney described the situation as "volatile" but said it appears Hussein will be able to keep the unrest in check for

The Iraqi leader is using his loyal Republican Guard to quell the rebellion.

Sidney O. Smith III

The US may find itself hurtling towards an extremely dangerous and rare historical circumstance. By that I mean the following: to protect America, our best and perhaps only hope is for the USM to stand up to the Bush administration and refuse to attack Iran in a pre-emptive strike. In other words, to borrow from an earlier heading: attacking Iran -- last hurrah of a special relationship.

Such a path is narrow and fraught with risks. Maybe General Zinni and other members of the military will go public again and voice their opposition in no uncertain terms. Surely, this go-round, if someone calls General Zinni a “traitor”, some people in the Pentagon will rally around the general.

For the record, Sun Tzu sayeth: “if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight, even at the ruler’s bidding.”

The consensus, at least outside the think tank crowd, is that launching a pre-emptive strike against Iran will not lead to an ultimate victory for the US and the world. Far from it. Total disaster.


It appears that King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia and Dick Cheney have finally decided on their Iraq strategy. Arm a Sunni neo-Baath movement allied with Saudi Arabia, actively rally US politicians against the Shiite central government, and begin the war with Iran.

Cheney seems to have invented his own version of Galbraith's division of Iraq. He also seems to have come to the same conclusion as the British in the 1920s that only by giving the Sunnis power can an invader hope to secure the country.

The major new arms deal with Saudi Arabia allows for forward positioning of lots of hardware for the long war against the Shia.

So what will Russia do when Cheney attacks Iran?

Cold War Zoomie

One acronym fits:



"Why? Has everyone in DC last there minds?"

Well, did invading Iraq make any sense? There's your precedent for bombing Iran.

And God, I hope I'm wrong....


You will never go broke by betting on the lack of interest in facts held by your President. bstr


Why are we taking an article in "The Weekly Standard" seriously?

Hasn't that magazine been discredited enough?

Is the author related to the Kagans of the "Project for the New American Century"?

If she is, just look how good the PNAC is going...lol



Thanks for your comments on “Considering a war with Iran”. The paper is of interest if for no other reason than making one think about the unthinkable and the delusional ideology advocating the attack

A conventional bombing campaign may well succeed in destroying Iranian military, media and infrastructure. The USA may still command the high seas.

But to gain what? 12% of OPEC oil will be taken off the market. Oil shipping will be disrupted for months. The global economy will freeze. Islamic radicals will cement their control in a broad swath of “failed states” from Lebanon straight through to Afghanistan.

An air attack on Iran would signal that the USA is out of control. America would lose support of the world and like all earlier Imperial Regimes based on force, collapse.

A nuclear attack on Iran killing millions would assure the Apocalypse in my lifetime.

Babak Makkinejad

The Lounsbury:

I take strong exception to your characterization: ""Iran is a vile, repressive state run by loathsome people" - And I suppose US is the New Jerusalem, the City on the Hill, run by saints that are right there doing Christ's work.


The Klingons have a saying that, "Only a fool fights in a burning house." Iraq is the burning house and Bush's solution is to pick a fight with the neighbors?

It does make sense in a way, though. Ever since the occupation of Afghanistan the Busheviks have been going after the enemies of Al Qaeda by putting a lot of different nuts in the same bag and calling them all the same kind of nuts. It's kind of like the Mexican Hat Dance, where the object is to dance everywhere BUT on the hat.

Remember that only six months after 9/11 Bush said that he was no longer concerned about Bin Laden and that he no longer poses a serious threat! As Hank Hill would say, "That boy ain't right."

Cold War Zoomie

I've got this inkling that someone isn't impressed with air power and high tech gizmos.

W. Patrick Lang


I was saved several times by intrepid USAF guys (AC-47)

I was damned near killed a couple of times by other guys. One was an f-4 pilot who made a CAS pass from behind us and his 20 mm. casings came down at what 200+ knots?

On the good side it broke up what was in front. pl


The ideas expressed by those advocating a massive strike are in effect a carbon copy of the ideas expressed about Iraq in the run up to the war.

It is always supposing the best case scenarios.

We know how poorly it worked in Iraq. Knowing the same depraved and myopic strategists are working on this third and final front must give a lot of people at least a modicum of pause.

If the US attacks Iran, the American people will be the ones shocked and awed.



Do you hear any Democrats besides Kucinich raising red flags? No, they're all shareholders in the enterprise. Either they're firm believers in Bush's agenda (whatever that is) or they don't want to get blindsided by a wave of hyper-patriotism before the next election. Either way, they are total scum and thoroughly deserve their 14% approval rating. And they should never be allowed to ever live down their complicity in the Iran venture, when it turns sour.

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