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09 December 2011

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GregB

Col. Lang,

That is probably the most incisive and in depth analysis I have read about this growing drumbeat to bring war against Iran.

The closing lines are quite stark in pointing out that war, once undertaken is no longer an abstraction but a concrete set of horrors that can grow and spiral into utter chaos.

I am reminded of the magic thinking in the run up to the Iraq war with all of the media chin strokers telling us that war with Iraq would be a cakewalk with flowers and candy and shiny happy people thanking us by instilling a democratic rule that would make all things right in the world.

As was witnessed in the Second Lebanon War, Israel is not invincible, just as a bunch of disaffected Iraqis showed the largest and most well equipped military in the world that life can be made quite difficult with 40 year old weapons caches and a little co-ordination via up to date technology.

If the war mongers win the day and launch an attack on Iran, I fear that it will be the beginning of the end of the world as we know it. The possibility of a spiral in to world war seems almost pre-ordained.

Sadly, that is what many of the apocalypticos in Israel, America and Iran would take as vindication.

I think that the danger will arise when enough of the mover and shakers from all parties involved feel there is nothing to lose by making war.

For the superstitious among us, this does make for a compelling narrative on the lead up to 2012.

Thanks for this forum and Merry Christmas.

kao_hsien_chih

Would Iranian allies in Syria (and to a lesser extent Lebanon) be able to do much in retaliation if Israel does strike Iran? Given that the Syrian regime is barely hanging on, can it take (or support) any military action (of their own or by allies/proxies) against Israel? Without support through Syria, would Hizbullah risk its military assets in a big fight with Israel? While I doubt the goings on in Syria have much to do with Israel in their origins (the Assad regime has way too many enemies anyways), continuing chaos in that country does seem to make it easier for Israel to do something against Iran. (in addition to US no longer being responsible for Iraqi airspace)

Byron Raum

I don't think it is any humanitarian consideration that has prevented Israel from attacking Iran, or perhaps even a low chance of success. Given the bellicose state of mind of some Israelis, I can readily see them dropping futile bombs on Iran just to prove a point.

No; I'd suggest that the reason it hasn't happened is that everyone, including the loonies, realize that the US economy is incapable of dealing with $10/gallon gas. The American pubic doesn't care, or if it cares, only so far as it is worried about the imminent savage Iranian hordes about to destroy civilization as an abstract far-off threat. But this worry and the good will towards Israel doesn't extend as far as not having a job.

For as long as the US economy is weak and/or dependent on oil, there will be no war.

Andy

Interesting article, but some of your sources are uniformed on a few things:

First of all, the Jehrico III cannot be launched from a submarine. It is a land-based system.

Secondly:

There, the strike planes would top off, then fly east over southern Turkey, infuriating the Turks, who nonetheless probably would not hoot the planes down.

If the Israeli's plan correctly and practice good EMCON the Turks won't even know they are there. Israel is not going to assume that the Turks will not shoot the planes down - Israel would plan to avoid the Turks altogether and remain undetected.

Thanks to US pressure, the Iraqis would not engage the aircraft either,

Iraq doesn't have the capability to engage the aircraft, so US pressure is irrelevant.

"Neutron bombs" are mentioned in the article. There's no credible evidence Israel has such weapons and, for technical reasons, they'd be very difficult to develop absent a testing program. I think the idea that Israel has operational neutron bombs began about 15 years ago with an unattributed claim in a Seymour Hersch article.

In the section on the Israeli reaction, no mention is made of Iran's silo-based ballistic missile force in the Tabriz area. These would be Iran's main option for a direct response and given its limited retaliatory options, they'd likely be used.

But if Israel used an FAE weapon in an attack, Iran and its allies in Lebanon would fire thousands upon thousands of scud missiles armed with high explosive (HE) warheads "at every Israeli population center down as far as Tel Aviv," according to one former DoD intelligence official.

That's interesting because there were reports last year that Syria transferred SCUD's to Hizballah. I believe PL did a couple of posts on that topic which challenged the credibility of those reports. I haven't heard anything more on the topic since that time.

I think your sources are correct with regard to Israel's capability to pull off a strike like this. It's a very dicey, very risky operation and even if goes perfectly the effects will be transitory. Israel's program is too diverse and too hardened.

The part about danger to US forces is also good, but I would hope that Iran isn't stupid enough to try to attack the US in response.

At the end of the day destroying Iran's nuclear program cannot be accomplish militarily except through a US invasion which is certainly not going to happen. Even a US air campaign would only delay the Iranians so IMO attacking Iran is simply stupid.

WP

In 1860, the good people of Charleston, SC and other parts of the South believed they would defeat the Yankees in just a few weeks. They viewed Fort Sumpter as a stain on their honor after South Carolina seceeded. The South took the fort, but lost the war and destroyed their civilization.

Somehow, the Iranian nuclear facilities remind me of the lessons of Ft. Sumpter. Ft. Sumpter fell while it was intact, but after it was bombed to rubble, the rubble itself proved fully defensible because it simply absorbed bombardment.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Flag-raising_Fort_Sumter_Charleston_Harbor_1865.jpg

Iran will prove to be a rockpile like Ft. Sumpter came to be that can absorb all of the punishment delivered and still be defensible.

No attack on Iran will succeed and the attacker will suffer ignominy. The only route to any security for Israel is for Israel to begin to render justice and fairness to all humans in the region. Israel is on the wrong track now and if it remains on the current track, it will destroy itself and, perhaps, US too.


Norbert M Salamon

I believe your analysis is mostly correct but:

There is USA military presence in Israel, so it is unconceivable that the USA would not know of the planes taking off.

There is the 5th fleet [or is it 6th?] in the Persian Gulf totally capable of repelling any attack on Iran by Israel [the USA can shoot at Israeli F series planes, the Israelis can not shoot at USA planes - I believe the Colonel implied in past that that software secret is still in operation]

Ergo, the IRanians will believe [logically so] that the attack is due to USA green light, whereupon any USA asset is fair in war.

I do not believe that any of the Gulf nations will take part in such an attack, for then their oil installations are fair target.

For the above reasons I am convinced that your analysis that there will be NO WAR is probably valid with a high level of confidence.

The possibility of WWIII is also present - as you stated - if Russia or China analyse the situation and come to the conclusion that their national safety is in jeopardy, especially so it Mr. Putin is the Russian President.

turcopolier

NMS

Oh, we will be blamed but the fact is that we have no ability to stop an Israeli first strike. If you think the Israelis are going to notify us of an impending attack you have not been paying attention. Aircraft take off on those bases all the time. Nobody tells the US where they are going and they would not this time. Do you imagine we have access to their planning process? Well, we do not. There might be a US carrier in the Gulf at the time of an attack but it certainly will NOT attack Israeli aircraft and the Israelis know that. The conclusion that there will be no war rests on the assumption of present Israeli government rationality. You feel sure about that? Well, why not? Canada will stand on the sidelines. pl

walrus

The rational response to an Israeli attack by Iran is to do nothing........and, mobilize a PR campaign to isolate Israel as an aggressor nation and appeal to the U.N..

This course would ultimately strain the bonds between Europe and America, perhaps to breaking point. As it is, the strain is building and David Cameron just did his bit by stating that Britain is refusing to be part of a renegotiated Eurozone treaty.

The battle between Europe and the U.S. is starting to play out in public. An Israeli attack will stretch things tighter, especially if Iran plays to Europe.

Fred

"neutron bomb" is another type of thermonuclear weapon. What will the rest of the governments on Earth do if Isreal launches a nuclear war? Wait for Mr. "Hope and Change" to make a speech, or perhaps the wait for the Neocons to ask them to join the band-wagon while they have chance?

How many of them will ever trust the United States of America again?

arbogast

This is all, all, all about shlepping and shleppers.

The IDF, Israeli soldiers, have been in exactly one fight recently against non-civilians who shot back. They lost really badly (cf. the birth pangs of a new Middle East).

On the other hand, the American presence in Afghanistan is the longest war in American history and our war in Iraq lasted over 10 years with appalling losses on both sides (killed and wounded, civilian and military).

Israel is not going to do a damned thing without American shleppers carrying their water for them.

All the brouhaha is intended to whip up support for an American invasion of Iran among the American people. I do not hold out much hope for the success of that project.

JohnShreffler

Col. that bit about Gens. Mattis and Dempsey being told that Obama wasn't on for reining in the Israelis was chilling, if chillingly plausible. If that's true, a war is just around the corner. Is that why Gen. Dempsey has been saying that we have no way of knowing if or when the Israelis are going to launch a strike? Doesn't Obama realize that an Israeli strike is almost certain to suck us in, one way or the other?

turcopolier

arbogast

"with appalling losses" Really? You don't know appalling losses. pl

Robert C.

Agree 100%. We lean on sovereign nations all the time, cajolling them to make decisions that are in OUR best interests. Yet, when a client state may potentially make a move that would be highly destructive to the US, silence. BO seems incapable of making tough decisions. He has no spine.

RC

PS

Weren't we told 8 years ago by Wolfowitz, et al., that the road to Arab-Israeli peace went through Baghdad? How can we be sure the road doesn't actually go through Topeka, Rio de Janeiro, or Bangkok?

jdledell

I will leave the military aspects of an Israeli attack on Iran to the military gurus here. I am in Israel every spring and fall for the Holidays. I can tell you that ever since Netanyahu and his right wing coalition came to power, the internal hasbara in Israel has been, in effect, "the world is dissing us". "They neither understand or respect us".

Israel has an outsized opinion of itself and this has led to a majority of Israelis supporting an attack on Israel. In March of this year it was only 41%. There is almost a feeling of military invincibility, not subdued by recent experience in Lebanon and Gaza. This past fall I listened to speeches made by Danon, Begin, Ayalon and other Knesset members firing up the crowds on the importance of taking care of the Iranian threat.

I have relatives in the Israeli military. One is an F-16 jockey in the IAF and the other is a captain in the Golani. While not privy to any war plans they are very vocal about the scuttlebutt they hear. Essentially, without the specific assurance of US participation, an Israeli attack will fail utterly to do more than moderate damage to Iran's nuclear plants.

They have great confidence in their ability to get in and out of the initial sorties with minimal casualties but the war gaming they have done leads to a conclusion that:
1 - Hezballah and Hamas will fire thousands of rockets almost immediately. Acceptable levels of property damage and human life are expected.
2 - Iran will use a Sunburn anti-ship missile on the first tanker showing up in the Straits. This will effectively stop all oil shipments in the area. Speculators will immediately double oil prices and Europe, China and others will be howling at Israel to immediately stop ALL aggression. Israel will be forced to back down in the face of enormous political pressure. Thus Israel has to stop with only a small time set back in Iran's nuclear schedule and before they could massively retaliate against Hamas and Hezballah.

In short, without the active US participation Iran is a no go. I suspect that Israel has put the bug in the ear of US neocons to start pumping up the American public's appetite for attacking Iran. They have been out in full force recently and I'm sure will use this election season under the cover of political debate to see if they can change public opinion, as they have done in Israel. You sure can see it in the current crop of Republican candidates.

Obama remains an enigma to Israelis. They have zero confidence that he would agree to participate in an Iran attack. They were stunned by GW Bush's refusal to let them attack Iran and they doubt a new Republican President would agree unless public opinion got behind the idea.

Norbert M Salamon

knowing our neocon PM, he will back Israel, as the Canadian national press is owned by jewish intersts -with constant reporduction[s] of WP's neocon warmongering editorial rantings.

Yes, President Obama's statements indicate that the 5th fleet will stand by [which will be interpreted as green light by Iran, Russia and China among others].

The 6th fleet is off Syria, they can keep track [if they want to] of all air traffic in the area.

The US AirForce has great many planes made for surveyance and the capability to refuel same [if they want to].

I am aware that the Israeli govenrment's recent statements do not indicate rational analysis. Propaganda is a great force in estabilishing TRUTH [see Iraqi WMD-s].

I still hope that we don not have to count the WAR dead in Iran or Israel [or any other nation which gets swept up due to this war] in the near future

Jackie

PS - I live in Kansas and the road to peace doesn't run through Topeka. I'm positive of that. I-70 runs through Topeka.

Roy G.

It isn't surprising to note that the main threats to Israel, Hamas and Hezb, are largely their own creations, from previous gambits to break the Pals and conquer Lebanon. I suspect Iran's role is to be the 'bridge too far,' and a useful diversion, except too many Israelis are now drunk on the koolaid of righteous religious nationalism, which is hell on thinking clearly.

John Kirkman

I’m out of date with planning in the military, but in my day there were plans for every conceivable war on the horizon. Any retired military officer with access to the stag bar at the Officers Club could find out rather easily what plans are afoot. Not specific of course, but generally who is building something and what for.
Of course, the ninnies in Congress assume the military is ready to go at a moment’s notice, but then not many of them have been on the receiving end of hostile fire. My wife is in a position to be familiar with G.I.’s returning from military duty and attending college. There are many, many, cases of fatigue and unresolved stress from the ongoing hostilities in the Middle East.
When I was in the military I did not welcome the sight of a Politician on Base, but the fear might now be of politicians generally. With the weapons available today, there will not be time to build a military machine capable of world war; it will be short, savage, and civilization ending. Our country is sadly lacking the leadership to handle the problems at hand, and an erroneous assumption by Israel could be the end of us all.

klaa

Getting an external enemy does wonders with internal strife. Syria would love a limited shooting war with Israel

turcopolier

John Kirkman

"the stag bar at the Officers Club" Wow! Did you have your riding britches tailor made? pl

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

We assuredly have the ability to stop an Israeli attack on Iran. The problem is that we don't have the will.

The "Snakepit" at the Ft. Knox O.O.M., we might have had to remove our spurs before entering.

I watched "Farewell to the King" on DVD last night and was amazed that I'd not heard of it until it was mentioned here. What a film!

WPFIII

turcopolier

WPFIII

"Farewell to the King" is all about what TTG and I are selling. I don't know why Farrell doesn't like it. Unless we are willing to crater their runways and shoot down their airplanes we have no way to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Since no American president is going to accept the enmity of the Zionist community our physical ability to prevent such an attack is meaningless. pl

bth

First that Iran's demonstrated ability to take down drones with electronic counter measures certainly increases the risk for Israel of successfully using drones on a one way attack mission.

Second, why fly through Turkey when Iraq has no meaningful air force at the end of this month?

Third, the most efficient and effective means for Israel to attack Iran is to entangle the US into the conflict early on.

Fourth, it is astonishing how willing the Republican presidential candidates are to talk about war with Iran.

Charles I

Canada will stand on the sidelines. pl

It bloody well better.

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