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03 August 2008


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I find this discussion quite bizarre. Iran has never threatened anybody - the only threats are in the mistranslations and spin put out by the United States and Israel. I am still waiting for any genuine evidence at all that Iran is building nuclear weapons. (I suppose they might be, but there are also little green Martians in my garden, and I have a laptop with pictures that prove it).

So what precisely are the Iranians supposed to back down from, PL?

It is now nearly 300 years since Iran attacked anyone else. It was Nadir Shah (1736-1747)(look up Wiki, if you don't know who he was), who was admittedly an unreconstructed hegemonist of the US style.


You remember the missle Hezbollah used against the "state of the art" Israel naval boat, what happened there chaps, it was an Iranian "rubbish" missle. Do not always relie on technology superiority, Iran has some very clever scientist and are extremly innovative, especially after all these years of embargoes.

Clifford Kiracofe


Never heard of Billy Ray as I don't follow current "pop culture" and the "entertainment" world. It's hard enough just to keep up with international news. I do collect older jazz and classical on vinyl and have some older audio equipment around the house in different systems from Thorens, Perreaux, Electrocompaniet, Bryston, McIntosh, Revox, Tandberg and others.

The reference, of course, is to the past close Israeli-Iranian relationship of the 20th century and to the mythology of the Esther thing etc. during the reign Cyrus.

Israeli foreign policy has emphasized relationships with non Arab states such as Turkey and Iran and the Kurds... In recent years since Truman, American presidents like to play Cyrus...especially Bush. Etc.


jdledell: I can see 100,000 Hezballah, Hamas and Fatah supporters rushing Israel's borders and getting into Israeli towns with significant civilian carnage.

I am wondering what would happen in Iraq if Israel attacked Iran, since Iraq's two main political parties, viz., Al-Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (properly speaking!) were cut from the same religio-political cloth as Hizbollah, etc. at the behest of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Remember ...

Iraq's Risk In Its War. By ERIC DAVIS. NYT, Aug 7, 1981. [snip]

The major Shiite organizations are Al Dawa al Islamiya and the the [sic]
Mujahedeen. Al Dawa, which was formed in the late 1960's, is estimated
to have 5000 members. This estimate came just before the execution of Al
Dawa's titular leader, Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr, his sister and eight
leading Shiite clergy on April 19, 1980 ....

Al Dawa is large given the Government's repression of Shiite movements, the execution of Ayatollah as-sadr and his followers was a serious blow. Al Dawa was always tarnished in the eyes of many Iraqis by its links to the Shah of Iran.

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.

HIJACK ATTEMPT. Seattle Times. Dec 26, 1986. [snip]

Another caller, saying he represented the Islamic Jihad terrorist group,
said his group worked with the pro-Iranian outlawed Iraqi Al Daawa Party
in staging the airplane hijacking.

The mysterious Islamic Jihad holds at least two French and two American hostages in Lebanon. Al Daawa seeks to overthrow the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which has been at war with Iran for six years.

'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.

5 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.

Patrick Lang


I don't know where the word "rubbish" comes from. That was an effective anti-ship missile.

If your implication is that the Iranans could hold Hormuz closed against the US Navy for more than a short time, then you know not whereof you speak.

Now, the futures price of crude in that period would be a wonder to behold. pl

Patrick Lang


Alors, mon vieux lapin, "justice" is on your side. If only the world was about justice...

No, I am concerned with how many dead and otherwise used people there will be if this quarrel comes to war. pl



'If your implication is that the Iranans could hold Hormuz closed against the US Navy for more than a short time, then you know not whereof you speak.'

I don't really understand you. We all know that the only force in the world that can stop the US Navy is the US Air Force, but surely the issue is civillian tanker movements, not the Navy? Who is going to provide cover? Insurance cover I mean, not air cover.


Clifford Kiracofe


Yes, Cyrus the Great was my reference. Don't have numbers on Jewish Iranians in Iran but there is a community. A number of Israeli leaders are from the Jewish Iranian community which is interesting.

Shaul Mofaz שאול מופז or

شائول موفاز

for one:

I had the same thought about Bush "helping" Ahmadinejad and this would tie into the "axis of evil" speech (Jan. 2002) and rejection of the 2003 Iranian initiative via the Swiss...Neocon sabotage/active measures/dezinformatsia?

Patrick Lang


You are right. You don't get it.

The navy and marines will scour the Iranian coast like the inside of a dirty pot. That's what they do best. All this COIN business is not their cup of tea. Yes, as you remind, the USAF will have some thing to do with this as well. Don't kid yourself, these targets will not be hard to find, and if the launchers can't be found, then other retaliatory targets will be chosen.

Insurance rates, crude futures prices? They will be through the roof until Iran is a pile of smoking rubble and the bloackage is removed. pl

Cold War Zoomie

We've done it before, we can do it again:

Another US Military Action Everyone Has Forgotten

Seems like I'm posting this one every 9-12 months!


Colonel, of course you are right that in pure humanitarian terms, the cost, were this to come to blows, would be large and relatively pointless and entirely avoidble.

But has the game become too big for that to be a consideration now?

Both sides have placed themselves in a corner whereby backing down would be political suicide.

The Iranians will not be willing to set any kind of precedent where they are seen to back down over Israeli threats. That is never going to happen.

The Israelis will not allow anyone to threaten their regional hegemony (irrespective of whether they actually believe the Iranians can build and would actually use a nuke).

But how likely is a fight really?

The US is too militarily confined and economically vulnerable to start a war with Iran, especially with the effect that will have on the barrel of oil, I think

What of the Israelis?

Military consideratons and "getting there with enough" aside, has Israeli society recovered enough from the 2006 war for the Israeli military to prosecute this?

The 60 year old myth of Israeli battlefield prowess was shaken if not demolished 2 years ago. And the missiles that rained on Israel for most of the 34 day war were small fry and relatively discriminate.

What will happen to Israeli society if less discriminate missiles with much lager payloads bombard Tel aviv?

Israelis stay in Israel as long as they feel "relatively" safe. The demographic cannot handle a mass exodus of people.

But then can the Israelis afford to be back down to Iranian pride?

Are the Iranians banking on this being an Israeli bluff?

The "theater" of anti- Westernism is, and I think we mostly agree on this, aimed at the locals rather than the "Great Satan" himself.

As long as the war drums are beating, the Iranians will continue their bullishness.

This should be put back into the hands of the IAEA. It should be taken out of the political arena (publically at least).

The formula cannot be based on the Iranians being supplied anything. That would go against their energy independence agenda.

The only solution that I can see that can stop this reaching any kind of aggression is one whereby IAEA inspectors are placed permanently for a period of a number of years on the ground, with the abilty to monitor without restriction, all the enrichment going on in order to make sure that it is never weapons grade.

A compromise as always is the only alternative to war.


Clifford Kiracofe wrote re his prior reference to an Israeli "Cyrus Option":

"The reference, of course, is to the past close Israeli-Iranian relationship of the 20th century and to the mythology of the Esther thing etc. during the reign Cyrus."

Ah, so in other words what you meant was that by attacking Iran, Israel would be hurting it's ability to have good relations with same. Glad you noticed my question and responded. I speed googled it and didn't notice anyone else ever having used that so, of course, was in the dark.

Notice that you didn't make a prediction either way regarding such an attack. Still too close to call for you even now and even in light of this Ignatius' report?



"That was an effective anti-ship missile.If your implication is that the Iranans could hold Hormuz closed against the US Navy for more than a short time, then you know not whereof you speak."

Sir, I acknowledge your superior knowledge in the field, but they would be pretty stupid to mobilize all their ground-to-sea assets at once, wouldnt they? If I was playing the Iranian side, I would have teams with mobile platforms waiting for the first shock & awe to roll over and then start piecemeal hitting shipping both in the Hormuz and in the whole indian ocean theatre, using civilian crafts and whatnot. As well as barraging the neighbours, of course.

I dont think the Iranians can close the Hormus, but they sure can make it a risky place to be for a long time, no? While we are all busy studying COIN, I guess a lot of the others are studying just the IN part as well as having workshops on assymetrical warfare from the underdogs perspective. European economical installations, our precious northsea rigs, pipelines and infrastructure, thats what I would hit if I was the Red Hats...


By Col Lang; "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 would submit the Iran needs to strike while the Iron is hot. I wrote earlier that there is no attack on Iran in the offing. But that is because of high oil, and an American quagmire in Iraq/Afghanistan. Not to mention a global banking and real estate crisis. Those may not be permanent situations and when they change, Iran will still have a hostile U.S./Israel to deal with.

There will likely never be a time of greater advantage for Iran and they will accomplish as much as possible during that time; arm Hizbullah to the teeth, strengthen their influence over Iraq and gain a nuclear capability.

Again, capability does not mean actual weapons. Just the ability to make them in short order. That will be their insurance policy when things turn against them as over time they surely must.

Frankly, any Iranian government that doesn't carpe the diem now would be grossly negligent. Because if as Col Lang says, the U.S. is willing to attack Iran now, they will certainly be willing to attack Iran if the situation is much more favorable in the future.

Dana Jones

"If your implication is that the Iranans could hold Hormuz closed against the US Navy for more than a short time, then you know not whereof you speak." PL

Pat, I'm sure you know that the Iranians have studied our options, and have also learned a lesson from the GW1. The Iraqi army & AF knew that we'd target thier planes & tanks, so they buried them and built plywood targets. After the war we found out that a lot of the 'kills' were dummies.
I would presume that the Iranians will do pretty much the same with their Sunburns, etc.


I don't think the purpose of an attack by Israel on Iran would have as it's true purpose, a true destruction of Nuclear sites. It's purpose would be to provoke Iran into striking in counterattack against US forces maybe in the Persian Gulf, there with the declared purpose of keeping the straits of Hormuz open(who would argue with that). After this "slap in the face attack" by Israel, how easy would it be for some US commander to pick a fight with a hopping mad Iran? Then the conventional attack by the US, like we did to Serbia, would be begin, and that, many weeks long, could push back Iran's industrial stature for a decade. This would require Iran to "believe" this bitch-slap by Israel was sanctioned by the US.(easy) - and a US commander who was willing to pick the fight in the Persian gulf. So ahmadinejad could stand there with no electricity,no air conditioning, no elevator, no water, sewer system broken, highways broken, Refinery capacity kaput, rail line broken, airports closed, TV and media taken out- and decide if he want Iran to be a part of the industrialized world or not, and like Milosevic, he may decide to kneel. Then maybe not. So payload over Terran/Nantez is not an issue for Israel. Only the ability to trigger an Iranian response, - and a US commander, just one, willing to pick the fight.

Patrick Lang


I was in on the kill in GW1 and know all about that one. Yes. The Iraqis built a lot of dummies and moved their mobile launchers around a lot. Actually, the study that established that was written under my supervision. The Iraqis still lost the war. They did not bury their planes and tanks. We destroyed them by the hundreds. both from the air and on the ground. You academics suffer from talking to each other too much.

The Iranians would be similarly defeated.

The futures traders would be the real winners. pl


Mad Dogs says: "When, not if, the US gets dragged into this shooting war, the gloves come off."

The yanks, like the Israelis, depend on the nuclear threat.

"Everything they hold dear is going to get burned"

And hey, haven't the Japanese behaved ever since!

Believe me, thinking doesn't get any more short term than the apocalyptic nonsense this represents.


Mo said,

The only solution that I can see that can stop this reaching any kind of aggression is one whereby IAEA inspectors are placed permanently for a period of a number of years on the ground, with the abilty to monitor without restriction, all the enrichment going on in order to make sure that it is never weapons grade.

Mo, that's is pretty much what was in place from 2003 to late 2005. Iranian lack of cooperation with the IAEA after that resulted in several unanimous IAEA board votes and elevation of the issue to the UNSC. I'm all for putting it all back in the hands of the IAEA, but Iran either doesn't want that or it's wants some kind of quid-pro-quo in order to fully meet its obligations, much less agree to something like the Additional Protocol. We won't know either way until the US and Iran sit down and play "let's make a deal."


Col. Lang is absolutely correct about a US naval/air war with Iran. I did some contingency planning in the Gulf back in the early 1990's after the Gulf War. Both the US and Iran have been preparing for a naval war since before that. Despite gains in Iranian capabilities, they will still lose. The only question is how long it would take.

Bill W, NH, USA

Iran isn't backing down and is ratcheting things up:



If government scientist(s) from government laboratories are responsible for the anthrax attacks of 2001, then why is hypothetical Iranian WMD more of a threat to the US than existing US WMD?

Are the controls in place strong enough that no person or small group of persons can set off WMD from the US inventory?

Clifford Kiracofe

TomB, All,

Don't have a prediction yet other than some type of use of force is a possibility to which I attach no percentages. Not enough data for me to make a judgment, only lots of rumors.

For example, I heard a rumor among the zillions flying about inside the Beltway, the other day in DC that Pentagon planners were looking at the concept of a major "raid" say at the level of 15,000-20,000 troops or some such. A "raid" would not be billed as an "attack" I was told...and we would be just seeking evidence of an illegal nuclear program....well, well...

If a war does take place, perhaps it will be catastrophic enough for both sides that it will be a "learning experience" which alters policy in some fundamental ways in the future.

On the other hand, it seems our foreign policy elite and Congress haven't learned much from Iraq and Afghanistan given Gates' new (Jacobin) National Defense Strategy, and Obama's and McCain's and sundry politicians' statements. What level of pain does it take here at home in terms of blood and treasure to arrive at a reality-based foreign policy? We shall, indeed, see.

What I am most interested in, however, is how Russia, China, India, the EU, and Japan would take advantage of a US attack on Iran. That is to say, how does it/would it affect the multipolar strategic environment and relative US power?


Bill W,

the brit telegraph article
is a showcase in 'propaganda' trying to portray iran as the bad guy, complete with a carefully chosen photo of an iranian spokesperson caught in a smirk.

the facts remain................
--iran signed the npt, has a legal right to build nuclear power stations and to construct fuel rods for those civilian power stations.

--no one to date has produced any evidence that iran is doing anything else with its nuclear research other than building civlian power stations. just look at the 16 u.s. intel agencies assessment in the iran nie.

--george w bush has decided to ignore all 16 u.s. intel agencies and rely on israel for all intel regarding iran's plans. this despite the facts on the ground that continually dispute israel's kooked intel assertions. remember that israel is trying to bully u.s. into doing their dirty work for them and they could care less how many americans die in the process to achieve that israeli objective.

let's look back in history -- israel made the same accusations against iraq, then bombed the power station at osirik claiming it concealed a clandestine weapons factory. examination of the ruins following our u.s. invasion of iraq failed to produce any evidence to support israel's claims.

--israel through their neocon operation they had set up inside the pentagon provided much of the now discredited claims that saddam had nuke and bio weapons in the run up to the 03 invasion.

--only one nation of all the nations of the mideast is known to have a (formerly) clandestine weapons factory under a supposedly peaceful reactor and that is israel itself.

what iran has actually said is that they anticipate a u.s. attack on iran since iran does not actually have nuclear weapons and is therefore an easy target. if you were iran, watching israel whip the u.s. into a pit-bull frenzy to send in after you, what would you do?


Clifford Kiracofe wrote:

"What I am most interested in, however, is how Russia, China, India, the EU, and Japan would take advantage of a US attack on Iran. That is to say, how does it/would it affect the multipolar strategic environment and relative US power?"

Interesting indeed, except the fish are running and I'm obliged to go chase 'em which means I couldn't follow your replies if I asked for your thoughts regarding same right now. I'll definitely try to remember to ask when I get back though, for sure.


Clifford Kiracofe

What would be visible early/advance indicators of the US initiating an attack of some kind? In what time frame and sequence? (Beltway rumors don't count, IMO.)

Here is a list of foreign embassies in Tehran which would be caught up in the mess. Presumably they have an interest in all this.

Perhaps we can tabulate indicators and then observe what happens.

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