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02 September 2007


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Edward Merkle

Is the "war fighting capability" to "intimidate and dominate its neighbors" or a "bargaining chip in a larger diplomatic game" ?

How about a third option? Self protection against a regional hostile state and international power both armed to the teeth with nukes.

Mad Dogs

No fair PL! You're just a tease. *g*

Since it seems we'll have to provide our own estimate of the train's arrival, here's mine:

My estimate is March 08. Reasoning?

The primary primaries are over and Prez candidates are locked in. The Republicans will want to do their 2 normal things:

1. Run their candidate under cover of their self-generated "patriotic fever". Light the same old "fear fire" and the Republican's willingness to save the free world from Iran's mushroom cloud (real or imagined).

2. Corner the Democrats as unpatriotic "in time of war". Can't trust 'em to protect our "homeland" against those pesky Iranians.

The Administration will use the time (again) to ratchet up both the IO (domestic and foreign), as well as dragging the "red cape" closer and closer to the Iranian "Bull". Eventually the Bull will charge, and voila, casus belli .

Lastly, it seems that the US Military leadership kinda likes those first few months of a new year to start the ball rolling in the ME.

Or is it merely "gee-whizz" coincidence that both wars with Iraq began in the first few months of a new year?

W. Patrick Lang




thanks for the edits.


in re "tease," as montag observed "you have to think for yourselves." pl

Cloned Poster

It all comes down to where the carrier groups are and via YR.

In the light of renewed War! War! War! fears, it's clearly time to check out the indicators; currently, there is one US Navy carrier group in the Middle East (Enterprise and Co). This is down from two for most of this year, and is the lowest for some time - although not quite, as there were a couple of days in early August with no carrier. Stennis left the Gulf heading east on the 11th of July and was due in Bremerton on the 31st August; Nimitz left on the 23rd of July and is making a leisurely passage back to San Diego. On the other side of the balance, Enterprise sailed on the 7th of July and made a notably quick passage (less than two weeks) to her only port call en-route, Cannes, and then took not much less time to reach her station. So, there was a gap from the 23rd of July to the 12th of August.

As before, Vinson, Roosevelt, and Washington are all in dockyard hands. Lincoln is in the early stages of workup, having done flight deck and carrier qualifications in July. Eisenhower took part in a JTFEX during July, but please note that as she only returned from deployment in May, she probably has significant yard time in her future. The next ship in the cycle is therefore Harry S. Truman, whose JTFEX it was, and who has also recently done her COMPTUEX.

Kitty Hawk is on her way back to Japan from the Valiant Shield exercise off Guam with the two returning carriers. Note that she is due to return to the US and head for the breakers' yard at the end of the year, to be replaced by Washington. Note also that the Reagan had to dash off to Japan in the spring to cover her beat, breaking off her own maintenance and training schedules because Kitty was inoperable; presumably her joints are no less creaky than three months ago, so there is a possible commitment to replace her at any time.

That gap, now. I recall reading (possibly at Pat Lang's) that some of the GCC states had expressed much concern at this maritime no-bicycle; if there is a crackerjack indicator for a war with Iran, I reckon it would be the movement of Patriot/Arrow/whatever SAMs/ABMs to the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Not only are they allies, and extremely vulnerable, Qatar is the seat of CENTCOM and various air bases, Bahrain of the US 5th Fleet's Middle Eastern logistic support, and Dubai is both the general political-economic centre, a hugely important port, and the seat of the only shipyard in the region with the hope of taking in a major warship (and, as in the Iran-Iraq war, making a fortune patching up tankers). Saudi oil installations need no introduction, but they (like Israel and Kuwait) have their own.

I recall a minor blogfroth about this two Iran scares ago (ie January 2007 - the rate is a little higher than Friedman units.) As far as I can make out they went to Qatar, but I am not at all sure; the unit was the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery. Here's a photo of one of this outfit's soldiers being annoyed with stupid questions, by "business leaders" flown in for a look-see. It's given as "Southwest Asia", but the matching press release makes it clear that it's a huge great airbase, the location of a Combined Air Operations Centre; realistically it's got to be Al-Udeid in Qatar. So no new information in that. An alternative would be to deploy Aegis cruisers.

Babak Makkinejad

One may recall also China's war against Vietnam in 1979 - "teaching Vietnam a lesson" and Israel's war against Lebanon in 2006. In both cases, the fundamental strategic situation remained the same. In case of Vietnam, they remained in Cambodia and it took years of negogiations to reach a settlement there - in spite of combined US, EU, China, ASEAN sanctions against Vietnam.

The second case has already been discussed else where by many other; another case of foolish escalation to nowhere.

It seems to me that just as every generation has to discover sex on its own, every generation of political leaders also has to discover the limits of power on its own as well.

John Shreffler

Cloned Poster,

The Nimitz and Kitty Hawk are heading for an exercise of Sri Lanka with the Indian Navy, Malabar 07-02 to start on Sept. 7th. Both groups would be on station on Sept. 11th when Petraeus. Given that the Reagan and the Enterprise had been in port for the same short time when they each last deployed, I'd reckon the Eisenhower is also on call. Why would it need dockwork? The intervals between deployment are for the crews, who take a lot more of a beating tn the carriers do. I'd guess that the Malabar carriers will go home but you never know.

John Shreffler

BTW, the work on the Kittyhawk was scheduled work. The carrier scheduled to cover for it was the Stennis and the rush was because the Stennis got pulled on short notice for the 5th Fleet and the brand new 2 carrier force in the Gulf. I gather the Kittyhawk has had that kind of work every year for some time past. Old but not out. Besides, you're forgetting all the cruise missiles on the escorts.

James Pratt

At the risk of being completely wrong, I think the threat is the thing rather than a real plan to make an even bigger mess of the oil gulf than it is now. To be credible a threat has to fool everyone,including the home audience. What upside there may be to a permanent threat posture is known only to a few in the White House and Pentagon. The principals are unlikely to tell us what Iranian behavior has been deterred or changed because this administration's MO is depiction of every Islamic foe as extremists who wreak havoc with no regard to consequences and are too irrational to negotiate with.
The possible downsides to bombing Iran are quite a few. 1) political. Whatever emerges from the fog of war is not likely to be pretty.
It is sure that images of dead Iranian civilians will appear everwhere outside the US. If airpower fails to destroy the Iranian missile capacity Gulf oil supplies could be disrupted for weeks. Part of the world could slide into economic recession. Using tactical nukes to knock out underground missile factories may be a political disaster.
2)military. The Shi'a blowback in Iraq would be expensive in lives and equipment. How much so is impossible to estimate, but I will guess now that it would be a long term problem from more professional types than Moqtada al-Sadr's group.



if only the jcs for once would act like a jcs instead of bucket-headed prez stick figures. they could stop the iran war train, as they have their hands nearby the break switch.

Cold War Zoomie

"I fear that a similar train has left the same station."

We'll see.

I don't have cable television so my chatter-o-meter is what my coworkers are talking about. Just about all of them are vets from different branches. We work inside DoD in the DC metro area.

Attacking Iran hasn't seeped into the the daily BS session, yet.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. The Telegraph (London) reports on Washington's war with Iran and a Heritage Foundation war game per same:


And for the bottom line?

"In the meantime, administration officials are studying the lessons of the recent war game, which was set up to devise a way of weathering an economic storm created by war with Iran. Computer modelling found that if Iran closed the Straits of Hormuz, it would nearly double the world price of oil, knock $161 billion off American GDP in a single quarter, cost one million jobs and slash disposable income by $260 billion a quarter.

The war gamers advocated deploying American oil reserves - good for 60 days - using military force to break the blockade (two US aircraft carrier groups and half of America's 277 warships are already stationed close to Iran), opening up oil development in Alaska, and ending import tariffs on ethanol fuel. If the government also subsidised fuel for poorer Americans, the war-gamers concluded, it would mitigate the financial consequences of a conflict.

The Heritage report concludes: "The results were impressive. The policy recommendations eliminated virtually all of the negative outcomes from the blockade."

2. For comparison, The Defence Academy of the UK has some interesting papers on Iran and the Middle East here:


3. Many forget W's brother Jeb was an original co-signer of the Neocon PNAC (Project for a New American Century)foreign policy strategy statement. Bush41 also supported his son's war in public statements here and abroad, for example, once in Denmark as I recall (??). So it is not just W in the Bush family.


Its amazing that after $1 trillion in debt-based spending in Iraq and a PR campaign of lies and misinformation that created the political climate for the Iraq occupation there are no lessons learned for our country.

I no longer believe that what we have is a rogue administration with a warped sense of reality with their hands on the trigger. Its larger than Cheney. Both political parties, institutional leadership of key government agencies like the military/intelligence apparatus, the corporate media and the DC elites want more violence and debt-based spending on destruction. And it also seems odd that there is no vigorous opposition to all this destruction from other players on the world stage. I feel forced to conclude that there is a systemic bias towards the use of military force for any or no reason. What I don't get is what is the calculation of the elites? What are they betting on?



I am constantly reading about the U.S. plans to attack and destroy the Iranian military but no one is talking about what the Iranian generals may be planning to do while this attack is going on.

If they take a use em or lose em view of their offensive weapons they could salvo their entire anti ship capability against one or more of our carriers and overwhelm the Aegis defense. They could launch all the medium range missles at Kuwait logistic bases, Iraqi airbases, the Green Zone, and Israel. They could quickly put a couple of divisions into southern Iraq and cut American supply lines. They could do all this and more.

The Iranian generals are all veterans of a brutal war against Iraq and will react in their own way. I hope our leadership is thinking about this.


I have to agree with Edward Merkle on this one.

Even if you ignore any interests Iran my have in the eventual makeup of the Iraqi power balance, national self interest would lead it to meddle.
Were I in their – the Iranian’s – shoes I would be watching the US ramping up anti Iranian propaganda, as they did before attacking Iraq, and US domestic concerns at the military’s ability to initiate, and sustain, a third concurrent war. My conclusions would be firstly in the short & medium term to tie down as many US troops as possible in Afghanistan & Iraq by aiding any side engaging them to reduce US operational options and harden domestic opposition to further adventures. In the longer term I would consider the development of nuclear weapons a necessity, even if I had no regional aspirations, as the only realistically affordable deterrent to a vastly superior belligerent power. These are the lessons I would take from observing US ‘foreign policy’ in action. As pl observes in ‘Iran’s complex game’ they are not stupid, they are being backed into a corner with limited options.



As I read your post I kept getting visions of President Eisenhower’s farewell address on the dangers on an unchecked military-industrial complex. To paraphrase ‘God help any American President, in dealing with them, who does not have my military experience’.


b: "Is there any way we can stop this?"

Why do you want to? I thought the aim was to hand back Iraq to the Iraqi's. What do you want the troops in the south to do exactly?

They can patrol and be attacked as an occupying power or they can train the military and police and hope the training is used to bring stability in the long term but the reality is that the trained will use their new found knowledge in the service of which ever power block they owe their allegiance to. Or they can leave and do no further damage.


One must assume that the "calculus" supporting the attack is based on the belief that overwhelming air power from without would cause the collapse of the Iranian regime and that from within Iran, pro-US forces would seize the apparatus of the state. Aside from any consideration whether such an unprovoked assault on a sovereign state is moral or even a wise precedent for a foreign policy which must deal with more powerful sovereign states in decades to come, it seems to be predicated on best case scenarios, and expectations about internal political developments. Experience should have told us by now this kind of planning makes for very bad surprises.

At the risk of sounding too much like an "oily", of course the ultimate goal may not require the eventual stability of any the attacked regimes but only their elimination as a threat to American interests and those of its one or two client states in the region.


I am constantly reading about the U.S. plans to attack and destroy the Iranian military but no one is talking about what the Iranian generals may be planning to do while this attack is going on.

if they're smart they will do nothing.

the U.S. military has no ability to threaten the internal power of the Iranian state.

if the Iranians do nothing, you can watch 60 years of cooperation across the Atlantic vanish on TV in a matter of days.



You may have made the political comment of the century here:

"It seems to me that just as every generation has to discover sex on its own, every generation of political leaders also has to discover the limits of power on its own as well."

Would that they learn it more quickly than those previous generations to which most of us belong.....?


"What I don't get is what is the calculation of the elites? What are they betting on?"

My dear friend, they are betting on a never ending un-winnable war being sufficient to keep themselves rich, and in perpetual power.

Please, please read "1984", you are in the early stages of living that novel.

Kaiser Wilhelm tried it and failed, killing 20 million in the process.

Stalin likewise, killing over thirty million.

Then Hitler......

Then Mao....

Now Bush.

To put it another way, it's about preserving the status quo, and in doing so, the priviledged position of said elites.

No electoral reform, no healthcare reform, no tax reform, no death penalty reform, no welfare reform, no pollution control, no trade reform, no infrastructure spending, forget global warming, forget education reform.




And of course, the risk in winding up the rhetoric against Iran to fever pitch is that somebody on either side might just flinch and pull the trigger.

Then both sides have to make good their threats.

Ian Welsh

CK. Don't know if they can re-open the straits, but if they can, hitting the facilities in a couple major ports (within missile strike distance) will make sure there's no oil to load, period.

I also doub they can open the straits, since they can't take out the missile launchers (see Israel/Hezbollah war) and most commercial ships are just not going to risk it, since they won't be able to get insurnace.

Cold War Zoomie

My first comment here was meant to show that any marketing campaign by this administration hasn't penetrated to the "average Joe" yet. Plus, since my coworkers and I are working in DoD inside the Beltway, we tend to have a heightened awareness for any sign pointing towards military action. Granted, we're supporting strategic networks and don't notice when tactical systems start plugging into our networks - that's all done in the operations side of the house. Yes, there are problems with my barometer but I think it's important to remember that public support for this attack must come from average folks thinking it's a good idea. If my coworkers aren't even talking about it yet, how much more marketing penetration is required to get the American people to jump aboard?

So, the decision may have been made by Bush to start softening up the American people and that train has left the station. But there is no guarantee this time that it will actually arrive at its destination. Here's why I think it won't make it:

1. The GOP congress-critters up for re-election aren't going to be happy with a "35-40%" support for a war. If some of the political analysis I'm reading is true, they are already very worried about how Bush's unpopularity and Iraq are going to hurt them in 2008.

2. The GOP rank and file is turning against Bush. They already see him as a liability. I'm watching die-hard Republicans turn against him. Sure, the neocons are still on the news channels' rolodexes, but I think that's more a sign of a broken news media that doesn't have the time to find new "experts" to fill their 24/7 schedule.

3. The Democratic Party's base will mobilize to challenge any Dem Congress-critter who does not fight Bush tooth and nail. So it just won't be the Republicans paying the price in 2008. There is a lot of talk in Lefty Blogosphere about mounting primary challenges to any Dem who does not oppose Bush's plans strong enough.

4. Finally, and probably most importantly, those old-timer GOPers from the Iraq Study Group who threw Bush a lifeline before the surge haven't gone into complete hibernation. I suspect they are exerting maximum pressure on Junior to stop the madness and get a grip on reality. Yeah, that's pure speculation on my part for whatever its worth.

Bush may want to raise both his hands, give us all the middle fingers and sign the orders but that doesn't mean he will. It depends on Republicans caring more about their political survival than continuing their support for Bush.
I think the majority of GOPers will put themselves and their careers first.


Re: Ian's, Tim's comments:

The Israel/Hez. war is a lesson for a U.S./Iran conflict, but, Hez. was PREPARED, as described in the Col's Miller Center talk. So, is Iran prepared?

Some of the comments by the informed contributors here make the Air Force planners seem like idiots. I have trouble believing this, but Israel put too much trust in its air force too, I guess.

After a U.S. attack on Iran, would it really not be possible to:
* Protect oil facilities and shipping in the gulf;
* Protect our supply lines?
(Leaving aside Iran's response in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the moment.)


Definitely the train has left the station, take a look at the famous of Axis of Evil nations from the view of a NeoCon.

Axis of Evil (NeoCon's Hit-list)

Iraq - Invaded and now a Democracy.
North Korea - Gave up nukes and off the terrorist/rougue nation's list.
Iran - ? and ?

Think of it, by the time W (and Cheney) leave office the Axis of Evil will have been defeated and the world safe for Democracy. Wouldn't that be a great legacy (and great for the history books too) ?

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