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03 August 2008

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Cold War Zoomie

To take loose inspiration from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Israelis can't get there with enough.

You just knew I would respond.

"to git thar fust with the most men."

Lysander

Colonel Lang,

Let me make 2 not so bold predictions; 1)Iran will continue to pursue its nuclear program and 2)no one is going to attack them for it. Not Bush not Obama not even McCain. As you said yourself, a hard evaluation of U.S. interests doesn't support it. This was the case when oil was 40$ a barrel and its still the case at 120, or even a hundred.

Once Iran obtains nuclear capability...that does *NOT* mean actual weapons...the game will change into cajoling Iran to remain within the NPT. Threats of war would not help as they would only be an excuse for Iran to withdraw from the treaty and nuke up.

Thanks,
Lysander

Clifford Kiracofe

John Duke Anthony makes some good points here:

http://www.ncusar.org/publications/Publications/2008-06-20-War-with-Iran-Reactions-and-Requirements.pdf

Also,

1. Do the Israelis really want to burn their "Cyrus Option" for the coming few decades?

2. What about the Jewish community in Iran? Will Israeli "smart bombs" avoid collateral damage to Iranian Jews? Or would that just be to spur them to migrate to Israel to offset Palestinian demographics?

3. What would we expect from Russia, China, India all of whom have interests per Iran?

Mad Dogs

"Bush is the "wild card" on Iran"

Yes, Junya is a wild card on Iran.

But unfortunately, I would suggest that there is more than one wild card left in the deck.

If Olmert resigns in September as he's said he is going to do, that means Israeli elections could soon be forthcoming.

Additional wild cards are the elections and the winner of the elections.

Kadima is likely to go with Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, instead of the more hawkish Shaul Mofaz, the transport minister, but either may find their electioneering framed and dominated by a "Strike Iran before they can strike us" meme.

Such a meme will surely be the centerpiece of Likud's likely candidate rightwinger Bibi Netanyahu, and Bibi is in the forefront of those demanding an attack on Iran.

Worryingly, Bibi is also the odds-on favorite today to win the election.

If that Israeli election is decided upon one's Iran stance, as is quite likely, both Likud and Kadima are going to battle on who will pull the trigger quicker; not on who will holster their piece.

I agree with Pat that with the M&M's admonitions to Israel, an Israeli strike has become that much harder.

But, I don't think the Israelis are in a rational frame of mind any longer with regard to Iran.

And therefore, I also totally agree with Pat's warning to Iran.

Better get while the getting is good because I think the Israelis are past the point of no return.

John Shreffler

How do the Israelis pull off any kind of strike on Iran with 7 KC-135-type tankers? Even overflying Iraq, that doesn't seem nearly enough refueling to get F-16s and F-15s over Tehran and Natanz with any kind of payload.

b

I agree with the analysis - an attack on Iran is unlikely.

I agree that Iran should tone down its rhetoric, though I think most of that is simply local political grandstanding and is over-reported.


should give the Iranians something to think about if they intend to continue to make useless comments about their "rights."


But should the Iranians should shut up at all?

I wonder why the Colonel writes "rights" in quotes. The NPT is clear about enrichment. Pat, will you write "2nd amendment" in quotes when they want to take away your "right" to bear arms?

their "theater" of anti- Westernism to an end before a bad result brings this piece of history to a final curtain.

The "theater" is not theater to Iranians. They have endured quite a lot from "Westernism" and their position was not that of spectators but as victims.

What is suggested to them? Give up energy independence? And then? What are they to give up next?

Finally: Is there a final curtain in history?

Patrick Lang

b

Sometimes rights are excessivly expensive. If the cost of my gun rights was to be the destruction of my community, then I would forget about my gun rights.

Yes. The Iranians have a right to enrich Uranium to levels that do not reaxch weapons grade, but is that right worth what the cost may be? pl

mo

One thing intrigues me,
"the US will not accept Israeli overflight of Iraq"

If the Israelis were to go ahead and fly over Iraq despite the warnings, what exactly would happen?

Is there really a possibility of US ordinance being fired at Israeli war planes? Why do I find that scenario so difficult to believe? Why do I find it so much more likely that this "bit of information" is just a way for the administration to say "look we told them they couldn't" right after they do?

Walrus

I have read everyone's comments with great interest and also Dr. Anthony's excellent overview of the situation. Opinions presented are all well researched and based on what I guess to be irrefutable logic and common sense.

What concerns me is that my limited knowledge of history suggests that despite all of our careful calculations, there is such a thing as the unexpected, and there is such a thing as stupidity.

I agree that it appears that it would not be in America's interests to attack Iran, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

However, I don't think we will have to wait too long to find out. Once Irans first power reactor is up and running, I think the game is over.

Karim

Colonel lang,

As for "regime change" in Iran, is there a difference between Obama and McCain?

Don't you think that if The U.S. gives up it, Iran would give up its program of enrichment ?

Thank you

TomB

Clifford Kiracofe wrote:

"Do the Israelis really want to burn their "Cyrus Option"...."

What's a "Cyrus" Option? Drop Billie Ray on 'em singing Achy Braky Heart? That's cold man....

I've heard of the Samson O, but never the Cyrus.

Cheers,


Jose

Since we are quoting Nathan Forrest Bedford, let me add:

"No damn man kills me and lives."

I hope the Israelis and Dumbya understand that quote.

Cieran

Colonel:

The Iranians have a right to enrich Uranium to levels that do not reach weapons grade, but is that right worth what the cost may be?

Now that's a darned good question!

If the cost is an air assault on Iran, then perhaps not, but along with that benefit/cost calculation comes the unraveling of the entire treaty apparatus of the NPT, since it's the NPT that permits Iran to perform low levels of Uranium enrichment. Thus if we violate Iran's rights under the NPT, what will other signatories see as the benefits of adherence?

But leaving aside the issue of near-term costs to Iran, it's obvious that the long-term costs to the U.S. of losing the guarantees of the NPT are enormous, as that would involve removing any effective foundations for controlling the proliferation of nuclear WMD. Nonproliferation can't be based on the U.S. bombing every country that can build a centrifuge, especially given ongoing progress in enrichment technologies.

There are other costs to Iran inherent in their enrichment activities, but one unfortunate by-product of our current policy is that we are working to negate many of those costs. For example, if Iran were to withdraw from the NPT, then appropriate action by the rest of the world would be to impose economic sanctions on Tehran. But since we are already working to impose similar sanctions, in essence the U.S. is making Iran's withdrawal from the NPT a much more reasonable course of action for the Iranian government.

Is this a deliberate strategy, or just more bungling in neocon foreign-affairs?

It increasingly seems to me that a complete dismantling of non-proliferation treaties is actually one of the goals of the Bush administration (e.g., how else can one explain the employment of John Bolton as the Bush administration non-proliferation czar?).

There was speculation in the nuclear weapons complex back in 2001 (right after Bush was elected, as his NNSA budget priorities emerged) that the sudden dismantling of otherwise-successful non-proliferation programs was a deliberate attempt by the new administration to make the world a more dangerous place, perhaps to better sell less cost-effective measures such as the ballistic missile defense. I didn't believe the talk then, but based on more recent developments, I'm more inclined to believe it now.

jdledell

Pat - The IDF practice run only involved 150 planes. That is not enough to carry the kind of payload that will seriously damage Iran's far flung nuclear program. Since there is a major nuclear research facility under Tehran University there will be significant collateral damage and lives lost in an Israeli strike.

At that point Iran will lob 100 missles at Tel Aviv and Dimona. Probably half will get thru to their targets and there will be significant collateral damage and lives lost.

After a day or so of hot war with oil at $300/b, the EU, China, India, the UN will demand a cease fire and the US, Israel and Iran probably will reluctantly agree. In other words a lot of sound and fury for no material gain. If no cease fire, the mideast will probably go up in flames, especially if the US jumps in aggressively on Israel's side.

I can see 100,000 Hezballah, Hamas and Fatah supporters rushing Israel's borders and getting into Israeli towns with significant civilian carnage. I can see segments of Egyptian and Lebanese army abandoning their units to fight Israel, guerrila style. I can see a shite uprising in south Iraq which will put heavy pressure on our supply lines as well as shut down oil. Not to be forgotten, what a few Iranian missles will do to SA oil facilities and to any tankers willing to transverse the Staits. Frankly, the worst thing that could happen to the US is if the Iranian war had an Israeli face.

Pat, with all due respect I think you are looking at the cost/benefit issues in this standoff thru Western eyes. From an Iranian standpoint, I believe they look at this as an acceptable risk of limited damage compared with the prestige and security results of nuclear capability.

They know we have no capacity to ensure regime change or complete negation of their nuclear program which would require an occupation. I believe they understand the ONLY effective way out of the corner the west has painted itself into is thru negotiation and that is going to require carrots - a lot of them vs the trillion dollar cost in economic terms of an Iranian war.

Clifford Kiracofe

Does war with Iran seems consistent with Gates' newest national strategy iteration?

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/2008%20National%20Defense%20Strategy.pdf

Nice to know we are fighting "on behalf of the world." Sounds rather old hat Wilsonian...

J

Colonel,

would you not also say that the 'wild card TO the wild card bush' is unfortunately the 'wild card' cheney? after all, cheney has been trying to become prez ever since he became vice=prez some 7 years ago. to cheney, bush is HIS stick figurine complete with mouth and puppet strings attached.


also see:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080803/pl_afp/usvotevp

From insignificance to influence: the US vice presidency - Yahoo! News

Cold War Zoomie

This stuck out to me from the article:

Though the administration has often been portrayed as divided over military options against Iran, an official denied there are now any sharp rifts. "There is uniformity across the U.S. government about the way to proceed with Iran," the official said. "Everyone from this White House, including the vice president's office, is in agreement that the military option is not the best option at this point, and we should pursue diplomatic and economic pressures."

Funny that they made the effort to make that clear.

My prediction is that we still will not see an attack.

Believe it or not, after reading through some of our laws and reports, I'm not seeing Bush as a wild card. Don't ask me to defend it, yet. That sense is just now germinating.

J

Colonel,

notice how the mainstream media has deliberately ignored the cheney fratricide article by journalist seymour hersh where hersh exposes details of a plan considered by cheney on how to provoke war with iran.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slgBrbNXrbs

Mad Dogs

John Shreffler wrote:

"How do the Israelis pull off any kind of strike on Iran with 7 KC-135-type tankers? Even overflying Iraq, that doesn't seem nearly enough refueling to get F-16s and F-15s over Tehran and Natanz with any kind of payload."

The following is from an MIT Security Studies Conference April 2006 working paper entitled "Osirak Redux? Assessing Israeli Capabilities to Destroy Iranian Nuclear Facilities" by Whitney Raas and Austin Long:

Israeli tanker assets are not well documented, but appear to consist of 5-7 KC-707s and 4-5 KC-130Hs.66 The KC-130s, due to their drogue refueling design, would be unable to refuel F-16s and F-15s. However, the KC-707s probably have the capability to deliver roughly 120,000 lbs of jet fuel each at a range of 1000 nautical miles. For a strike package of 50 aircraft, this would be about 12,000 to 16,000 lbs of fuel per aircraft.

Though I might disagree with parts of this 34 page analysis (and I do quibble here and there *g*), I do heartily recommend that Pat's readers here at SST should take a gander at the entire study. It covers a whole lot of ground including an analysis of the targets, the weaponry, the defenses, the routing options and likelihood of success (where I disagree/quibble the most).

Curious

Weekend musing, back envelop calculation, how big Israel can deliver with all their airforce asset.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Air_Force

Israel has about 300 F-16 (3,900 km)and 100 F-15 (5,550 km)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-16_Fighting_Falcon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_F-15_Eagle


Iran has 75 F-5, 35 mig-29, 30 F-40
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Republic_of_Iran_Air_Force


-----

obviously Israel has the range. And they can try to use turkish air space. They won't try Syrian air space ever again. Not after updated radar in Lebanon and Syria)

Worst case scenario a downed pilot can try to reach the persian gulf and hopefully picked up by friendly force. (or just swim to Kuwait)

Iran can attempt dog fight, but I doubt they can do much. They are outnumbered and out paced.

So it all come down to air defense, radar, and saturating the air with missiles.

(Of course the Iranian can develop drone, similar like Harpy. basically air to air missile/propeller drone hybrid.)

Iranian best defense is still their mountain. There is no way Israel can know where all their caves are, let alone drop a bomb accurately. (and don't give me that "we just need to shake the building a little, to screw up the centrifuge" I seriously doubt the Iranian doesn't know a thing or two about earth quake proving underground facility. They live in earth quake prone area.)

bunch of map on Iranian air defense
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread338399/pg
http://forums.obsidianent.com/lofiversion/index.php?t38586.html

Iranian best trick probably fly those small propeller drone and saturate the air with cheap long range air to air missile. (It doesn't have to hit, just make sure fighter target makes a very complicated evasive maneuvers. Combined with good radar, those thing can be miserably annoying.)

------------


WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has authorized the sale of as many as 100 large bunker-buster bombs to Israel. One expert said the move should serve as a warning to Iranians with nuclear ambitions.

The proposed deal, worth as much as $30 million, would provide Israel with the capability to drop 5,000-pound bombs that can penetrate bunkers and other buried structures. The GBU-28 bombs can be dropped from Israel’s American-made F-15 fighters.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release.


------
arak (don't the iranian have brown paint to cover those white roof on brown landscape? lol. seriously. that's pretty obvious right? I for one would paint those road brown too, if not cover it up with brown canvas.)

http://static.flickr.com/62/225155085_436ebdbc3d_o.jpg
http://japanfocus.org/_M_K_Bhadrakumar-Shanghai_Cooperation_Organization_Primed_and_Ready_to_Fire__Toward_a_Regional_and_Global_Realignment_

Curious

Weekend musing, back envelop calculation, how big Israel can deliver with all their airforce asset.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Air_Force

Israel has about 300 F-16 (3,900 km)and 100 F-15 (5,550 km)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-16_Fighting_Falcon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_F-15_Eagle


Iran has 75 F-5, 35 mig-29, 30 F-40
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Republic_of_Iran_Air_Force


-----

obviously Israel has the range. And they can try to use turkish air space. They won't try Syrian air space ever again. Not after updated radar in Lebanon and Syria)

Worst case scenario a downed pilot can try to reach the persian gulf and hopefully picked up by friendly force. (or just swim to Kuwait)

Iran can attempt dog fight, but I doubt they can do much. They are outnumbered and out paced.

So it all come down to air defense, radar, and saturating the air with missiles.

(Of course the Iranian can develop drone, similar like Harpy. basically air to air missile/propeller drone hybrid.)

Iranian best defense is still their mountain. There is no way Israel can know where all their caves are, let alone drop a bomb accurately. (and don't give me that "we just need to shake the building a little, to screw up the centrifuge" I seriously doubt the Iranian doesn't know a thing or two about earth quake proving underground facility. They live in earth quake prone area.)

bunch of map on Iranian air defense
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread338399/pg
http://forums.obsidianent.com/lofiversion/index.php?t38586.html

Iranian best trick probably fly those small propeller drone and saturate the air with cheap long range air to air missile. (It doesn't have to hit, just make sure fighter target makes a very complicated evasive maneuvers. Combined with good radar, those thing can be miserably annoying.)

------------


WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has authorized the sale of as many as 100 large bunker-buster bombs to Israel. One expert said the move should serve as a warning to Iranians with nuclear ambitions.

The proposed deal, worth as much as $30 million, would provide Israel with the capability to drop 5,000-pound bombs that can penetrate bunkers and other buried structures. The GBU-28 bombs can be dropped from Israel’s American-made F-15 fighters.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release.


------
arak (don't the iranian have brown paint to cover those white roof on brown landscape? lol. seriously. that's pretty obvious right? I for one would paint those road brown too, if not cover it up with brown canvas.)

http://static.flickr.com/62/225155085_436ebdbc3d_o.jpg
http://japanfocus.org/_M_K_Bhadrakumar-Shanghai_Cooperation_Organization_Primed_and_Ready_to_Fire__Toward_a_Regional_and_Global_Realignment_

Curious

Yes. The Iranians have a right to enrich Uranium to levels that do not reaxch weapons grade, but is that right worth what the cost may be?
Posted by:Patrick Lang | 03 August 2008 at 04:08 PM

Looking around latest Iranian statistic. Practically almost nothing. 6.5% growth and climbing slightly. They are not growing faster mostly because of corruption and rigid social structure.

But their economy is big enough to be self sustaining, and their natural resource is needed by Asia. They got money and they all have their own banking centers.

So essentially, what we see is the limit of US financial reach. Give it several more months, the Iranian will develop their own financial center. China and Russia couldn't care less.

There are plenty of people in the world who wants to do transaction outside the US financial system surveillance.

If Iran figures that one out, they'll be rich beyond believe without even trying. They don't even need oil anymore.

Patrick Lang

All

I presume that the 150 aircraft in the Israeli rehearsal included SAR, tankers, AWACS types, etc. How many strike aircraft in the package?

New Subject: I know the Iranians may decide that the damage is acceptable. I am trying to make the argument that they should not do so. pl

Mad Dogs

Pat wrote: "New Subject: I know the Iranians may decide that the damage is acceptable. I am trying to make the argument that they should not do so. pl"

I couldn't agree more!

Starting a wee campfire to roast a few marshmellows (an Israeli attack) in a tinder-dry forest (Iran and the Straits of Homuz - By the way, readers of SST should check out Caitlin Talmadge's Closing Time: Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz in the Harvard University Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security) next to an ammunition dump (the Mideast generally) could start a raging wildfire that consumes all.

No one in their right mind (a non sequitur for some of these leaders involved) should think that doing a simple lil' "Osirak" on Iran will stop there. I think it is a given that such an attack will expand many fold. There isn't enough water in the entire Persian Gulf to stop the escalation.

And from Iran's point of view, they probably should understand that once the fire is lit, everything they hold dear is going to get burned. When, not if, the US gets dragged into this shooting war, the gloves come off.

different clue

TomB, I believe the Cyrus
Option is a referrence to Cyrus The Great, (Founding?)
Emperor of the Persian Empire, who permitted all the "internally exiled" peoples within the smaller empires he conquered to go back to their homelands. So
the Israelis would hope for restoration of some kind of okay relations with Iran based upon that old historical memory. And bombing Iran would kill that option for centuries or
even millenia to come.

Aren't there too few Iranian
Jews in existence to make any kind of demographic difference to Israel? And isn't the Iranian Jewish community 2,500 years old at
least? Does one really walk
away from that much historical and cultural memory?

If Israel tried flying planes over Iraq, would we have to shoot them down to stop them? Do we have the kind of electric/electronic weapons which can disable electronic systems aboard planes? What if American planes were just to play chicken-lite with Israeli flyers to delay them till their fuel ran short? Or other inconveniencing and delaying methods?

The problem indeed comes from the irrationalists. Israel has rationalists but they are not in power. Bush
and Cheney seem irrational and evil. Does Ahmadinejad seem rational and can the Iranian power structure contain him?

By the way, I remember during the last Iranian national election that Ahmadinejad was running against Rafsanjani, who was presented in the media as being the "relative moderate, considering". His
chances were presented as "pretty good." It was at
that moment that Bush made a
bellicose nasty-warning type
of speech about how Iran had
better not elect Ahmadinejad. I believe Bush did that on purpose precisely in order to offend
the Iranian electorate into electing Ahmadinejad, because Bush felt he could portray Ahmadinejad as a dangerous enemy etc., in need of bombing.
http://www.binladensplan.com/Bush%20Elected%20Ahmadinejad.htm
(This article goes further than I remember events themselves going, and I am not sure if all its claims are credible. But I can't find milder articles strictly about Bush's cynical reverse-psychology advice to the Iranian voters).

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