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10 February 2010

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wsam

Iran is going to attack Alberta!??!!? [Insert tasteless and infuriating-for-the-locals joke about downtown Edmonton here].

Pirouz

Well Colonel, sir, are you telling us to ignore the 2007 NIE on Iran regarding an active nuclear weapon program? Or that it is wrong? What are you basing this opinion on- articles from biased journalistic hacks in the WSJ, AP and NYT?

And the strategic balance you refer to, regarding US acceptance of a change. Turn that around, and realize that Iran does not accept this US perspective of regional hegemony. (Really, this is what has always miffed the hawks in the US political establishment.)

So the Iranians have announced efforts to enrich to 20% under IAEA supervision. Big deal. So the Iranians have yet to accept the Geneva deal, and instead have offered many counter=propsals the West has refused. Again, big deal. This does not reflect a massive shift in terms of strategic calculation.

Bottom line, in terms of this post's relevance, all of this comes down to whether or not the US will turn belligerent and initiate a war upon Iran. Well, if GW was smart enough to figure out that's a big mistake, there's a far smarter fellow in the WH today I'm sure is able draw the very same conclusion.

J

Colonel,

While the Persians are good chess players, in this latest they have become consumed with their own incense. Just one of our subs without even a yawn could make Iran green glass in an instant. Tehran forgets that 24 empty missile tubes, a mushroom cloud (Iran), and it's Miller Time.

We the U.S. CAN, and that applies to world wide theater. Tehran needs to re-assess their nuke wannabe toys checkmate moves, and so does Israel and their screw-up nuke inventory.

harper

Two additional thoughts.

First, the claims that Iran can destroy Kuwait and Saudi oil fields: This reminds me of some commentators who were musing about Iraq's formidable military capability, that would defeat the invading American and British armies in conventional confrontation. It was all incompetent babble, coming from people with no background or comprehension of warfare.

Second, it is my very strong understanding, from discussions with a number of current U.S. government officials that there is an "institutional consensus" that this Iranian government cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. Whether that is a legitimate viewpoint or not is of no consequence. This is a U.S. policy that will not change, no matter who is in the White House. And Europe and Russia are in full agreement on this. China is torn, because they, along with Japan, have longterm economic agreements with the current Iranian regime, especially through the IRGC. So they are not so excited about shooting their commercial interests down by cooperating on an international consensus on Iran nuclear weapons. But ultimately, I suspect the Chinese will come around, because their prestige as a responsible global power, which they covet, is on the line in Iran, even more than in North Korea, where they have already been a responsible player.

Clifford Kiracofe

Moscow, Beijing, and Tokyo may come to perceive Tehran as 'adventurist', provocative, and destabilizing. This is notwithstanding any perception of the US being a proverbial bull in a China shop.

Thus, they might well be inclined to take a pass should the US launch. It seems to me that each of these three powers wants to avoid serious problems with the US for as long as may be possible. Each of these states has its own internal problems to deal with and a serious breech with the US could complicate matters for them.

It has been quite a number of months now that the US has tried to "engage" Iran seemingly without great success. As Dennis Ross etal. have put forward, once we have shown the world we tried to engage Iran but were rebuffed, then we have the "moral high ground" (for propaganda purposes for the masses) to cover our "justifiable" attack (for perceived strategic-geopolitical reasons).

While the Iranians could do some asymmetric stuff, it is well within our present power to vaporize whatever we please out that way, when we please.

I well remember the eery sycophantic and totalitarian atmosphere in Baghdad when I visited Iraq in the Spring of 1990. The delusional and murderous regime there thought it was so clever...so very clever.

McGee

Hi Pat,

I really don't have a dog in this hunt, but isn't the root problem here Israel's nuclear capability?

Patrick Lang

Pirouz

You are behind the times. evidence has mounted and the position of the IC is different now. pl

Patrick Lang

McGee

I would prefer that Israel's nuclear capability not exist , but it does. Does that mean that we will accept an Iranian nuclear capability? pl

All

I asve decided that JohnH is a propagandist of some kind ans so he is banned.

Pirouz is likely to be next. More Iranian cleverness. pl

N. M. Salamon

The real wild card in this effort to drum up war is that the greatest creditors of the USA [china and japan]are tied to Iranian oil supplies, and there is no way to replace such supplies with the depletion/net export aspects of world oil production.

Whereas neiher Japan nor China has any interest in Israel commensurate with most NATO members AIPAC / Neocon propaganda is of minor effect.

The destruction of oil fields is not the problem, the destruction of oil ports/ or major damage thereto, could be of significance, the difficulty is intentional or unintentional destruction and or debasement of the USD.

The USA Armed Forces are capable of many things, but defence of the USD is not within the purview of their ability.

Mary

Colonel

I have felt for a while that you are signaling that there will be an attack on Iran. Hopefully, over time you will reveal a little more about how this would unfold and what the blowback might be, both to the region and the US.

I am deeply saddened by all of this.

Patrick Lang

mary

I am not signalling an attack on Iran. what i am saying is that the logic of "strategery" says that the existing power balance is faced by the Iranians with a dilemma that can either be resolved by acceptance of a new order or war. pl

BillWade,NH

From AFP:

"The Iranian nation, with its unity and God's grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned," Khamenei, who is also Iran's commander-in-chief, told a gathering of air force personnel."

So, we're hours away now from learning what this "stunning" news will be, anybody have any clue, I sure don't.

I really don't expect we'll attack them although were we to, Iran would get bloodied badly and would likely be too busy putting out fires to pose much of a threat to surrounding infrastructure. If we did attack, what would we do afterwards concerns me - just what would we do then?

Equuleus

CL. I wanted to get this out of my system, but don't want to be giving out helpful suggestions to the enemy. Don't publish this.


Whether or not the Iranians have missiles to deliver nuclear weapons is somewhat irrelevant. Likely a 50 ft yacht will be the preferred delivery vehicle - for reasons that are pretty obvious. We mustn't mistake them for an adversary who is not clever.

jdledell

Pat - I'm not very optomistic about the effectiveness of going to war with Iran versus the negative fallout to us and the rest of the world. First there is no question we could decimate their known nuclear facilities and put a real hurt on the IRGC resources along with transportation, communication and manufacturing capabilities.

However, I do not see us putting boots on the ground to control the larger land mass. Thus we would have to deal with Iran's asymetric capabilities. Here is how I see it playing out.

I believe Putin would love to see us embroiled in a war with Iran. The price of oil would skyrocket and that would line Russia's pockets nicely. Furthermore, I could see Putin covertly supplying some nice asymetric war toys to Iran, like Sunburn missles, portable anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship mines etc. That would keep the war hot and running for a lengthy period.

I simply do not see commercial tankers running the gauntlet of the Strait even with Aegis escorts in face of these missles and mines. This would take about 25% of the world oil off the market making Russia VERY rich.

This is a gamble I can see Putin taking and aside from our and Europe's outrage, I don't see us taking on a war with Russia over this. This could even evolve into a Russian alliance with China, Japan and the rest of Asia by supplying oil directly to them.

I may be paranoid but this is a scenerio I can see happening.

Norm

Let's think differently. Iran will start a war. A war that tests the response of an American President who has a problem making decisions; a war using well armed Iranian proxies; a war of sufficient length to exhaust the population of Israel. The Iranians can start a war on their field with their ball defining its weapons and tactics. Why does everyone only look at the possibility of an American attack ? Let's see what the big announcement will be on Thursday.

curious

oh gawd, is it january already? The annual war with Iran talk is on. oh wait it's feb. Must be late this year. Hey, this is like Mardi Gras without the sorority girls.

Periodicity

Iran - 8-12 months
Israel/Lebanon - 10 months small/2 years big.
Israel peace talk restarted - Every 4 years.
Israel - bombing palestinian - Every 8-12 weeks. (or whenever they want something to show.)
Palestinian rocketing Israel - Every 4-6 months.
US-China - every 3-4 months/another jab

----------

I guess I am going to do my broken record jibe. (and I know the Colonel doesn't agree and already thinking delete button.)

There is NO WAY the navy can keep the gulf open for oil supply in the event of war with iran.

The Hormuz shallow water is navy's version of urban combat. Almost all ships equipments are designed for fighting another ships not scanning shallow water for small threats. They are heavy, noisy, chunky target. It's about as brilliant as bringing T-80 into downtown Grozny.

Give me several hundred thousand metric tons of cement, underwater explosives, kerosene, hydrogen, natural gas, an army of civil engineers, construction crews, explosives experts, several hundred of rotten junk ships. I'll close that gulf as long as I want and sink all ship including aircraft carriers that come nears it. Pure crude brute force works. All those ships are not designed to sustain big underwater explosion, specially tankers. extra large underwater explosion will do nicely. It's a bit like blowing bubble using straw inside a cereal bowl. Except this is 100+ feet cement tube filled with oxygen, aluminum powder and LNG. Or better yet, run underwater gas pipes into underwater combustion chamber. The bubble generated will be several hundred feet in diameter and will destroy ship buoyancy and stability. No ship will stay afloat. It's a little like artificial bermuda triangle. Except instead of naturally occurring methane sinkhole, it's man made gas generator.

all those are low tech, easy to manufacture and doesn't take fancy science to do. I am sure they can spare few million cubic of natural gas for the special occasion.

Combined with iran understanding of world energy trade and their proximity to the skirmish site, they are all set. They don't need exocets, silk worm, kilo, or whatever... Just a lot of brain and sweats. Even if 95% of Iranian arm force is destroyed, the gulf will still be closed, since the whole thing doesn't take too much skill to set up the rig.

So what if a ship has fancy this and that guided missile and radar gear. It still has to obey law of physic and gravity.

Can we have sexier annual topic pretty please ...?

Kolya

What might be worth considering is what will Iran's behavior be once it has nuclear weapons or the ability to make them very quickly. What does Iran want? To what degree will it be a "rational actor". How rational has Iran been in the past?

It seems that the USA has calculated that ignoring Israel we could probably live with a nuclear Iran - we would not like it but the negatives of using military force to try to prevent this from happening outweigh the benefits of buying some amount of time. The wild card is Israel - their calculus is different. I'd imagine the USA has given them some assurances - with some ambiguity.

Iran clearly knows all this - it might well figure that an attack on it by Israel alone might help it both internally and externally. But for this to work Iran cannot blame the US if it does not directly participate and dare not use military force against US interests.

Israels attack would only set back Iran's program a bit. It would give Iran much of the world's sympathy and make it harder for concerted sanctions regimes to be implemented against Iran.

So maybe the rational thing for Iran to do is to provoke an Israeli attack but not one from the USA.

Patrick Lang

curious

No. You and that other fellow remind me of the radio man in Boise who decided before we invaded Iraq that I was a creepy oldie for insisting that it had already been decided.

You are right. I am a time traveler. pl

PirateLaddie

Col. I kinda figure the die has been cast and it's a little late to call "fait vous jeux." The besieged rulers of Iran benefit from some kind of dustup, we serve the interests of Israel and the Zionist crowd at home, and there are enough guys in the USAF who believe we can actually DO SOMETHING from the air that will put the kaibosh on the nuke program. Sounds like an all around winner -- just like Iraq.

Mark Gaughan

ALCON,
Here is an interesting analysis of some Iranian public opinion polls: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb10/IranElection_Feb10_rpt.pdf
Mark

JMH

If the U.S. does strike Iran, the Palestinians should declare a state within the context of the 67 borders which the Obama administration should recognize at once. International relations are about trade offs, no exemptions to this rule.

Cold War Zoomie

I found this interesting the other day:

"Iranian authorities may be trying to get ahead of the news cycle and build populist support since this year's revolution celebrations will likely include a continuation of anti-government demonstrations that have occurred sporadically since the disputed June election that ended in Ahmadinejad getting a second term as president."

UPI Article

And today we see...

Huge Rally & Protests Mark Iran Revolution

It seems to be getting clearer that the current leadership's future is getting shakier by the year. Its own freedom of movement is getting smaller. We can tackle this from three directions:

1. In the very short term, remind Iran that we are the big dawg in the nuclear power game (The Stick);
2. In the short and medium term, let the HUMINT folks work their magic in the domestic unrest sandbox;
3. And for the long term, use incentives to recruit Iranian underlings who are watching and waiting to see what power base emerges over the next 5-10 years, and are concerned about their own ambitions. These would include the top scientists on the nuclear programs. (The Carrot)

My guess we're already doing some of this but need to hone our skills and gain more access for numbers 2 and 3.

jr786

I still don't see the Iranians as irrational actors; meaning that their actions are less provocation of Western power and more instigation to Islamic-centric thinking amongst Muslims.

How much would Iran actually lose in a strike against its nuclear facilities? U.S. fears over a world-wide Muslim backlash, rightly guided imo, would require as 'surgical' a strike as possible. Benefits would far outweigh costs to an Iranian leadership bent on assuming moral and, possibly, spiritual position in a Muslim world absolutely crying for some sign of it.

I was in Cairo recently, hanging in and around Hussein Mosque. Lots of increased religiosity there, at least.

PirateLaddie

"Sunni don't like Shia; Arabs don't like Persians; Arab rulers don't much like Palestinians. That's been the dynamic during our lifetimes and it's unlikely to change any time soon. Given our unwitting (?) support of the Shia in Iraq, it's unlikely there'll be a robust response, even from the Arab street, to a low-grade, 'strategic' housecleaning by the US."

How's this for an optimistic take on "how things have to break our way"?

zanzibar

US policy is to support Israel unconditionally. Israel policy is to dominate its neighbors and use force as its primary tool. The Christian zionists believe that joining Israel in its war against its enemies is required by their faith. The Likudniks and neocons believe that the use of American force can cause opponents of Israel's regional hegemony to fall in line and create a "new ME" that would be subservient to Israel's interest. Financial irresponsibility and national debt growth continues to accelerate in the US with monetization the only politically palatable choice remaining which could lead to the destruction of the dollar as the world reserve currency.

Is our policy to support Israel unconditionally leading to the destruction of our constitutional republic? Do the American people care? Are there any possibilities for a change in our policy?

Dr. Kiracofe has been suggesting the possibility of a new fascism in the US. That seems as a very credible threat considering the "shock and anger" of the American people when they realize we have been bankrupted by our political and financial elites. An environment where demagogues can thrive!

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