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03 September 2007

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H.G.

Col.-

You have often described how shrewd you believe the Iranians are, I'm not as sure. The current consensus is that the Bush/Cheney regime is intent on using any excuse to bomb Iran "into the stone age". If this is something Iran wants to avoid (and unless they are more constrained in their options than I think), wouldn't it be far more prudent for them to be seen as "caving" to us in the short term? After Bush/Cheney are gone there is no provocation Iran could do which would create a response, and they would be completely free to pursue all of their goals in Iraq (or restart a nuclear program) without regard to our protests. Is their hold on power so tenuous that they can't take a serious short-term tactical retreat to achieve a complete long-term advantage? Aren't they also over-reaching right now? I sense Cheney knows the neocons are vulnerable to this gambit, hence "the train has left the station" and their determination to start a war before they leave office, but that doesn't mean that it would not actually be a successful tactic for the Iranians.

On a related note, knowing that the likelyhood of a gloves-off U.S. bombing camaign is a near lock, what is Iran's likely strategy both in an attempt to avoid it and, should it happen, their likely response? I think it is time for that debate to be central.

H.G.

Col.-

I first took your meaning "Counsel of War" to refer to planning war with Iran. Perhaps that was subliminal for me since it obviously mainly refers to war with the Congress.

But perhaps it is both....

Homer

If I may, I'd like to point out that like the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI, now SIIC), Dawa was also on the side of Iran during Iran-Iraq War.

See:

1) War Seems to Bolster Khomeini's Appeal to the People Across the Arab
World. By YOUSSEF M. IBRAHIM. NYT, Oct 26, 1980 [snip]

Baath Socialist Party officers in Iraq and Iraqi Embassies abroad have been targets of bombings, all of them the work of the Daawa party, the
religious-political organization of the Shiite opposition in Iraq.

It is financed and helped by the clerical ruling establishment of Iran.

The Daawa, which means The Call, is a bigger threat to Iraq's Baath party than the Kurds, the Communists or the Arab nationalists, all of
whom have been in the opposition for years.

Its potent appeal, enhanced
by fiery broadcasts from Tehran, touched religious sentiments of Iraqi
Shiites, paricularly in the south, where they are concentrated.

2) KUWAIT ROUNDS UP BOMBING SUSPECTS. Chicago Tribune. Jul 13, 1985.

The outlawed Iraqi Al-Daawa Party, which professes allegiance to Iranian
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was blamed for bomb attacks on the
U.S. and French Embassies and on four economic targets in Kuwait in December, 1983. Five people were killed and 86 injured.

3) 'Walk Free' Prediction Gets Puzzled Reaction. San Francisco Chronicle.
Jul 15, 1987.

State Department officials indicated yesterday they were perplexed by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North's assertion that 17 men convicted in Kuwait of bomb attacks on the U.S. and French embassies will eventually
"walk free." .... The 17 are mainly Iraqi Shiites identified as members of the underground Al-Daawa Party, which is pro-Iranian.

4) Warships in Gulf Convoy. LAT, Oct 1, 1987.

Three pro-Iranian Shia Muslim organizations in Lebanon warned Tunisia against executing seven fundamentalists convicted earlier this week of trying to overthrow the government of President Habib Bourguiba.

The groups-Hezbollah (Party of God), the umbrella organization for those
holding Western hostages in Lebanon; the Daawa Party, a Hezbollah ally, and the Islamic Coalition-warned of a confrontation and a "sweeping storm" if the "unjust death sentences" are carried out.

5) Iraq's Hussein; Arab who smote the Persians is riding high on the victory. By ALAN COWELL. The Gazette. Oct 9, 1988. [snip]

When Iraq's Shiites showed signs of restiveness at the beginning of the war with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolutionary Shia state,
President Hussein moved quickly and brutally to deal with them. He responded to an assassination attempt on Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz by executing Mohammad Bakr al-Sadr, one of the nation's most prominent Shiite clerics and the leader of the pro-Khomeini Al Daawa Party, and his sister Amina bint al-Huda.

"Membership of the Shiite-based Al Daawa Party was made retroactively
punishable by death," wrote two experts on the region, Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, in their recent book, Iran and Iraq at War (Westview). "Thousands of Shia in Najaf, Karbala and Al-Thawra township in Baghdad were arrested; and a campaign was initiated to expel from Iraq any Iraqi who had even the remotest connection with Iran, by birth, marriage or name."

pbrownlee

When I heard the phrase "council of war" my heart sank a little more -- nothing more dangerous and sad than a wimp trying to show everyone he's a tough guy.

geos

Isn't this how we used to speculate about the USSR:

who is standing next to whom on the May Day parade platform?

I don't understand the 'War Czar' position, but I would have assumed that if they were planning a war, Lute would be cut out of the process, things being what they are... His presence suggests to me that this is more about coordinating Congressional testimony but I don't pretend to be a Kremlinologist.

zanzibar

I keep getting confused with what Bush/Cheney and their war council want. On the one hand they now want to bet on Hakim in Iraq on the other they want to attempt to bomb Tehran to its knees. Yet Hakim fought with the IRGC against Iraq. I could understand if they wanted to get back Allawi and the Baathists backed by the Saudis but getting an Iranian proxy in Iraq while they demonstrate the futility of another "shock & awe" air campaign on Tehran boggles my small mind. What gives?

blowback

Who else could the British hand Basra Palace to, the Swiss? There is no point in the British hanging on in Basra Palace, they were only targets for the Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army and the Fadhila militia and withdrawing from Basra Palace will have little impact on Main Supply Route Tampa.

So why are the neo-cons so upset? Could it be that if the British withdraw from Basra Palace and there is no great increase in either fighting between the militias for turf or deaths among the civilians, then the great American public is finally going to ask why the US Army has to remain in Iraq to keep dying but serving little purpose. In that case, it is a shame the British didn't pull out of Basra Palace a few months ago.

BTW, I have seen little mention of this Australian article. The ex-PM of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, suggests that "no Australian government should ever again commit troops to a major war as an ally of the United States unless it could place a senior minister in Washington to closely examine US policy and strategy".

He then contines:

That was how Canberra was kept well informed by the British during World War II.

"The Vietnam War made me believe that we should never again be an ally of the US in a significant war unless we've got somebody in the war councils in Washington when that war is being discussed and strategy is being determined.

"You know what you're getting into. If we're a real ally the Americans aren't going to have any trouble with that."

Another reason George W Bush isn't like Winston Churchill?


Paul

Let's get him a whip so we can call him Lash LaRue.

Jim Oberly

Unrelated to Iraq, but intrigued by the photo of General Meade's Council-of- War....The manuscript containing the minutes of the Council-of-War was located in 1864 (See *Official Records, Series I, Vol. 29, p.73, available online at http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/

Meade presided and posed three questions for his fellow generals. The minutes show the following men spoke in response to Meade:

Gibbon
Williams
Birney
Sykes
Newton
Howard
Hancock
Sedgwick
Slocum (aka, General "Stay and fight it out")

The artist's impression shows thirteen men at the Council. Presumably that is Meade standing, the one who looks like a "goggle-eyed turtle." But who were the three men who stayed silent at the Council?


walrus

Let's go beyond an attack on Iran at the moment and think what the desired NeoCon/Israeli outcome might be, because that informs us on how Bush is going to be played. It's obvious that he is totally clueless and a creature at the mercy of his handlers.

First Israel. Do we want functioning free, prosperous democratic states in Iraq and Iran? Definitely not, because they could eventually have enough international and regional political clout to force a solution to the Palestinian question.

No, we want a Balkanised, chaotic, poor and corrupt middle east run by thugs and dictators. Preferably as many failed mini states as possible - Kurdistan, baluchistan, khuzustan and so on. Divide and conquer, no possibility of nuclear programs or concerted action. No threat to Israel.

Package this as "self determination", "Freedom", "Liberty" for consumption by Bush.

Now the Neocons. First ensure enduring defence spending through acquiring the perpetual hatred of the entire Islamic world.

In addition, the ongoing "Global war on terror" that results encases the status quo in concrete. Forget about any domestic political, social or economic reform that threatens the Neocon elites. (Orwell's "1984")

Secure access to remaining Middle east oil and gas supplies to the exclusion of the Chinese and Russians. Saudi peak oil has passed. The Saudis want to get rid of it as fast as they can so that we leave them alone and they can go back to the desert and their old ways.


Strategy to achieve their objectives:

1. Destroy Iraq's political, social, economic and physical infrastructure as comprehensively as possible (its no accident that Baghdad gets an hour a day of electricity) - task pretty much completed, keep changing favourites every few months to ensure political turmoil.

2. Do #1 to Iran as well. You just watch when we start hitting their water, sewerage and electricity supplies as well as their transport infrastructure and hospitals - its not going to be accidental.

3. Support the emergence of mini states by judicious use of military aid, money and downright espionage.

4. Make deals with local strong men to gain access to oil and gas infrastructure. Protect this with contractors and bribes at the expense of the American taxpayer.

If you assume what I have assumed, then the destruction of Iraqs infrastructure makes sense as does destabilising the Maliki government as much as possible and preventing the emergence of any charismatic leader.

Translation: Our goals are the exact opposite of what's officially stated.

W. Patrick Lang

H.G.

You assume that Iranian values and priorities are congruent with yours.

JO

Buford, Hunt and ?

HG

The term is ironic here since the participants will not be asked to vote on anything. pl

George

There's something in the American psyche that says:
If they don't love us, they're not worthy of us.

Cloned Poster

Cheney is not there PL, Rice and Gates are ISG members. There is no train.

W. Patrick Lang

CP

cheney? Get a grip. He and Bush can't go to Iraq together.

Gates and Rice? They are just employees until they quit. They have been working for im in the knowledge that he rejected the ISG recommendations. pl

Happy Jack

Rumor has it that Crocker's on site supervisor (the comely Megan) says that the Badr/ISCI guys are the hope of the future.

There's nothing quite like backing a winner. If I recall correctly, when Sadr tried to take over Najaf, and when that cult appeared in Najaf, and when the recent ruckus in Karbala occurred, outside help was required in each instance.
The security services are in good hands.

PeterE

If you think of the Bush Administration as akin to the management of a large multinational corporation with interests in energy, defense, pharmaceuticals, etc, and some vociferous shareholders (right-wing Israelis, conservative Christians et alia), bombing Iraq is a promising investment decision. Oil prices will soar, demand for weapons will be brisk, the shareholders (wrapped in their respective flags) will cheer. Iran's influence will most likely increase, but that will happen anyway. Other advantages: U.S. government securities will sell at a low yield (because of the flight to quality) reducing the pressure to increase taxes on the wealthy. The Iranian government will probably be grateful. The bombing will produce martyrs, taking Iranian minds off the shortcomings of their government, and possibly increase Iranian energy profits flowing to the government that it can use to continue mismanaging the Iranian economy.

George

Quoting from:
Is the economy part of the planet—or the planet part of the economy?
http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/2001

“More recently, the last 130 years has yielded an oil-based surge of far more rapid growth—a unique period in the history of civilization and one which will not be repeated when the oil runs down…..

Back in 1966, in his famous essay The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth, pioneer ecological economist Kenneth Boulding argued that a transition had begun: from the ‘open’ to the ‘closed’ earth, from the ‘empty’ world with ever more frontiers for exploitation to the ‘full’ world, where it is no longer possible to go somewhere else when resources fail or pollution destroys. The ‘illimitable plains’ of the endless frontier no longer stretched into the unknown. There were no more ‘unlimited reservoirs’ of anything. Daly, arguing along the same lines, has described ‘globalisation’ as the “last-gasp attempt to re-establish conditions of empty-world economy by growing into the economic and ecological space of other countries and into the remaining global commons” (Ecological Economics, p. 21).”

Babak Makkinejad

All:

US is convinced that she has to be the hegemon of the Middle East. She will go to great lengths to maintain that - for all its worth. And I also think that mainstream US population agrees with that position.

I personally do not think the being the hegemon is all that its is purported to be; "see Iraq and weep" as Col. Lang would say.

I do not believe that the United States - at this moment in history - has the power to bring strategic change to the Middle East through the force of arms unless she uses nuclear weapons against Middle Eastern cities.

The United States, on the other hand, has the dipolomatc, economic, and political power to affect such changes. But that requires negogiations which does not seem to be going anywhere; not in Palestine, not in Iraq, and not with Iran.

IT seems to me that for some reason, USG seems to think that war is cost-free while other tools of inter-state intercourse have costs associated with them; go figure that.

Whether the train has left or not we can be certain of the follwoing:

- There will be no Iranian surrender - the Russians and the Chinese are going to see to that.

- The war will go on for a long time - it will be a war of Islam with Islam's enemies. US would characterize it as a war of Freedom against Terrorism: the Western godess Freedom against the Almight Allah; just what we needed in 21-Century - a religious war of Light against the Powers of Darkness.

- Iraq as a state will not see the light of day until and unless the hostilities cease - it would be decades.

- US will be forced to pressure Israel to settle with Palestinians since the cost of defending Israel will be too heavy for US to carry after the attack on Iran.

- Lebanon will revert back to Syrian control, one way or another.

- Iran will become even more entrenched in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

I think the oil and financial markets will bear the situation and adjust; I do expect spikes in oil prices and so on but I think the world economy will go on; leaving US and Iran in the dust - so to speak.

- I think it is fairly certain that we will not see a US-Iran reapproachment until after the Hillary-Obama administration; probably in 2020.

So, as teh computer said: "How about a nice game of chess?" in lieu of all this?

blowback

The mission to shore up support for the war was shared with only a small circle of White House staffers and members of the media, who were told that if news of his trip leaked early, it would be scrapped.

Couldn't one of the members of the press accompanying Bush please blow the whistle next time so that we don't have to put up with such photo ops. My guess, this one was designed to divert attention from the British pullout from Basra City.

DanaJone

H.G. I posted this on the "Train" comments, but it applies here as well:
As I see it, there are three main options on the table for the US, and just as few Iranian responses.
1. Limited US strike against the nuclear targets with an immediate warning to the Iranians not to retaliate or face a more severe attack.
The Iranians have just a few responses.
A: None. Let it blow over and make a big deal in the int'l court of the press of how they have been wronged.
B: Limited strikes against US Navy & Airbases in the ME. This of course leads to more US strikes, Iranian responses, etc.
C: "Use 'em or Lose 'em" response with a massive retaliatory strike with all they have against US airbases, naval, and ground forces in ME, along with hits on Saudi, etc oil terminals.
2. Limited US strike against Iranian nuke facilities along with any med & long range missiles, naval and air forces that could retaliate, with stern warning not to try to retaliate.
The Iranians have just a few responses.
A: None. They might not be able to.
B: "Use 'em or Lose 'em" response with a massive retaliatory strike with all they have against US airbases, naval, and ground forces in ME, along with hits on Saudi, etc oil terminals.
3. Massive US air strikes targeting all Iranian military with the plan to eliminate any possibility of retaliation and eliminating them as a military force in the ME forever.
The Iranians have just a few responses.
A: None. They might not be able to.
B: "Use 'em or Lose 'em" response with a massive retaliatory strike with all they have against US airbases, naval, and ground forces in ME, along with hits on Saudi, etc oil terminals.
The Iranians are not stupid, they read the US and Israeli news and threats, and have planned accordingly. They also know that we cannot hit ALL of their missiles. What do you think they will do? I'd bet on the last option in ALL of the above, they don't have much choice, if they let the US bomb them, they know that we will try to make sure that they can't strike back, so I'd bet that their missile, naval and air forces are on short notice alert. It's what I'd do in the same situation. I'd hate to be on a carrier in the gulf. This is just my best informed guess though, but what would you do if you were Iran?
DanaJ

Will

The unsung hero of Gettysburg, George Armstrong Custer, may not yet have gotten his promotion from Captain to general in time for any Councils of War.

The 23 year old brigadier defied death repeatedly during the Civil war. He had no shortage of luck then. He had used it all up and had none left for the Lakota and Chief Sitting Bull.

from Wikipedia

"Possibly Custer's finest hour in the Civil War was just east of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. In conjunction with Pickett's Charge to the west, Robert E. Lee dispatched Stuart's cavalry on a mission into the rear of the Union Army. Custer encountered the Union cavalry division of David McM. Gregg, directly in the path of Stuart's horsemen. He convinced Gregg to allow him to stay and fight, while his own division was stationed to the south out of the action. At East Cavalry Field, hours of charges and hand-to-hand combat ensued. Custer led a mounted charge of the 1st Michigan Cavalry, breaking the back of the Confederate assault, foiling Lee's plan. Custer's brigade lost 257 men at Gettysburg, the highest loss of any Union cavalry brigade "

Arun

Concentrating on the wrong country.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article2368174.ece

How the West summoned up a nuclear nightmare in Pakistan

J.O.

To H.G.--on Gettysburg, not Iraq.

Thanks for your suggestion that Buford & Hunt were two of the missing three federal generals in Kelley's painting of Meade's Council-of-War. The invited that night of July 2nd were a select group limited to corps commanders in the Army of the Potomac. So, here's how I work out the identities of the silent three:

1) I agree about General Henry Hunt. He was commander of the Artillery of the Army of the Potomac.

2) Instead of Buford, I think the cavalryman was his superior, Gen. Alfred Pleasanton, commander of the Cavalry Corps in the Army of the Potomac.

3) And for the third man, I propose Gen'l Alpheus Williams, temporary commander of XII Corps on July 2nd when Slocum was put in command of the right wing of the army. Williams
and his men held Culp's Hill that long day.

--J.O.

pseudonymous in nc

"If this is something Iran wants to avoid (and unless they are more constrained in their options than I think), wouldn't it be far more prudent for them to be seen as "caving" to us in the short term?"

The prudent Iranian strategy, I'd suggest, is to take whatever the US (overtly) throws at it, then ask the international community to repudiate the Americans under Nuremberg Principle VI (a).

The big unknown here is the extent to which Iran can tolerate the instablility on its eastern border.Aerial bombardment is the least of its worries.

W. Patrick Lang

JO

The suggestion about Hunt and Buford was mine. I now know that Hunt, Patrick and Warren were not there. None of the staff generals were there evidently. I think both Pleasanton and Buford were.

In re Lute, he is bush's military chief of staff, not a congressional liaison, something like Leahy in WW 2. pl

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