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19 April 2012


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Hmmm, perhaps we are wasting our efforts writing science fiction with space aliens, interstellar craft, and weird creatures.

Looks to me as if there is a lucrative market in writing science fiction about the forthcoming "inevitable war." I read the references and I particularly like this one:

French intelligence sources said Iran just tested a “neuron initiator at the Fordo site near Qom.

Would that someone actually had a "neuron generator," we could definitely use some more neurons.

Babak Makkinejad

This is plainly silly.

What about next day of the war, the next week, the next month, and the next year?



Faustian wankers don't ask What then?


Colonel, Mr. Sale,

We need a Googoosh break to realign our headlights after all of Israel's incessant lets-boom-boom-Iran BS, oh boy, Googoosh sure looks a heap sight better (and is easier on one's high-beams) than the ugly Israel wouldn't you agree?


Destroying the electrical grid is to ensure that the next year(s) Iran is not an industrialized nation. The next day question would be what are the members of the UN going to do with an outright act of war against a member state; one made without declaration and with little cause other than paranoia. Who's next on Israel's hit list Turkey perhaps?


Lets not forget that only the 'good' guys learn from past wars.


The 1996 blackout shouldn't be confused with the one in 2003. The FERC report has significant details.




Short circuiting the generators ".. by using low passes of aircraft to disgorge tiny spools of carbon filament that unravel as they fall. These filaments would drape themselves over the power lines, knocking them out." will not only incapacitate the grid but the entire country.

Doesn't anyone realize that even Iran's military probably has a back-up generator or a separate electrical system at a key research facility - one that has been the in the news for months as a potential bombing target? Or does the IF think that their potential opponents can't learn from the US air campaign in the Iraq War? (Not to mention all of Israel's wars).


And then the word Holocaust will be turned against the belligerent "chosen." The outcome of the jolly aggression could be a wave of anti-Jewish sentiments worldwide. Notice the assiduous blindness of Israel-firsters towards the multitude of former Soviets making Israeli policies in ensemble with the racist Jewish fundies.
Tribalism in irrational and the Jewish tribalists in the UK and US will continue promoting the rabid ethnocentricity-fired designs until their own families start feeling the pain.


At a psychological level, Mr. Sale appears to want to spook Iran into belligerency.

At a humanitarian level, how many deaths - collateral damage, will "denying electrical power" cause?

The one thing that is sure is that Iran will have a nuclear weapons program Ten seconds after the bombs begin to fall, and they will get one to Tel Aviv even if it takes them a hundred years.


Mr. Sale,

It seems to me some of your sources are not very well informed or are passing you propaganda. For example:

The chief question after the raid was why the failure of Syrian radar – supposedly state-of-the-art – hadn’t warned the Syrian military of the incoming assault. It wasn’t long before military and technology bloggers concluded this was an incident of electronic warfare – and not just any kind.

First of all, I'm not sure how anyone could describe Syria's radar systems as "state of the art" since they are primarily composed of 40 year old Soviet systems. It's not exactly rocket science to spoof very old radars with known vulnerabilities - the US did it twice in Iraq and again in Serbia and Libya. The Israelis were flying against some of these same systems in the 1973 war!

Additionally, radar coverage wasn't all that great to begin with given the location of al kibar in eastern Syria, which is not very well defended. Perhaps Israel used all the electronic warfare techniques described, but it seems to me they were mostly unnecessary. The descriptions of this strike as some sort of great feat of technical prowess and daring are without merit, especially compared with the 2003 airstrike against a Palestinian camp outside of Damascus. In that operation Israeli aircraft penetrated the heart of Syria's air defenses to include the super-MEZ around Damascus. It was, from a tactical standpoint, a much more dangerous and impressive operation than al kibar. The discussion of "hacking" Syria's air defense network brings up images of the Matrix, but no one should be particularly impressed that a 21st century air force can defeat a mid-20th century air defense system.

Another major problem with the article is these supposed attacks on Iran's electrical grid. The article describes more than two-dozen sites which could be attacked with spools of carbon fiber to short-circuit the grid. The article also says Israel got this idea from a 1996 US blackout. I doubt that's true considering the US used spooled carbon-fiber to attack Iraq's electrical grid in 1991. Such obvious oversights regarding elementary points-of-fact doesn't speak well for the credibility of whatever source(s) provided you this information.

Additionally, according to several credible open-source analyses on Israeli attack options, Israel barely has enough aircraft to attack the primary facilities in Iran's nuclear program. If this plan to attack more than two-dozen points in Iran's electrical grid is true then where will Israel get a few dozen (at least) more aircraft to conduct these attacks? I could see, perhaps, attacks on a couple of critical nodes in the grid to isolate specific portions, but the Israelis are stretched thin as it is and they do not have the forces for what's described in the article.

All-in-all much of what's described strains credulity.


Back and forth like the tide you folks


And in contrast, during the entirety of the war on Lebanon and despite its determined efforts (including bringing down the entire broadcast hq), Israel could only knock Al Manar Television off air for on short 5 minute period


An Israeli source in Barak's office recently told me that Barak and Netanyahu have demanded of their cyberwarriors: "Give us eight hours of quiet" meaning a jamming up of all their communications systems.



On Being Infantile - Richard Sale

I love remarks made off the top of the head. I am fascinated by sweeping, dismissive remarks made from the top of the head. I truly am. But I would urge the facile scoffers not to confine themselves to remarks made off the top of their heads, but drill down to the middle of their heads, where the remnants of their brains are.

But I understand you. You are slices cut from the red heart of humanity. You stand on established fact. You abhor the fanciful and unproven. You are much too intelligent to believe in anything other than what you already heard or seen. You are composed of harshness. You won’t be taken in. Anything new to your brain has no grounds to exist much less to be observed and noted. No, you are slices cut from the red heart of humanity. Anything that deviates from your sphere of life has no claim your respect, even though your sphere of life is perhaps a bit meager and made of lumps.

You are skeptical of anything other than the common because you suspect it is fraudulent. The idea that computers are the front line of the Next World War and that they are silent, deadly and invisible -- that they can be used in surgical strikes on air control systems, electrical grids, communications and computer networks, or command centers of our enemies is to you the rankest nonsense. Never mind the proven reports of the three Iranian planes that crashed because of computer failure. Or the unexplained power outages. You are slices cut from the red heart of life. You are confident that any figment fired at your enormously dense brains of will flatten like a dime and fall to the floor. You are slices cut from the red heart of humanity. And I respect that. I really do.

In the end, I would like to quote Cardinal Richelieu’s reply to King Louis, “As long as you honor me with your consideration, I will always serve you with dignity.”

Richard Sale


Mr. Sale,

First of all, to make it clear, I am questioning the knowledge of some of your sources and did not intend to impugn you as a journalist. I hope that much is clear.

Secondly, I used to be an air defense analyst in the US Navy. I supported real-world and contingency planning of air campaigns against Iraq's air defense system as well as others. I'm very familiar with how these systems operate and what their capabilities and vulnerabilities are. Indeed these system have been well understood by air defense analysts and have been defeated for decades without the need for any modern advanced hacking or computer intrusion. The units I supported were spoofing these systems before the raid on Syria's al kibar reactor. I realize that's an appeal to authority argument, but I think it's important to note where I'm coming from. But one doesn't have to be an expert to understand that anyone who suggests Syrian radars or Syrian SAMs are "state of the art" simply doesn't know what they are talking about. Pointing that out doesn't make one an infantile and "facile scoffer."

Secondly, I never suggested that computer attacks, hacking, etc. is "the rankest nonsense." Indeed many of the items mentioned in your article are at least plausible. But the specific claims I pointed out strain credibility for the reasons I've already stated. I also think it's both strange and suspicious that so much is written about how technically sophisticated the al kibar attack was while the 2003 strike on the outskirts of Damascus goes unmentioned. You can look at the SAM and radar coverage for yourself in the link I provided, compare Damascus with al kibar and decide for yourself.

Finally, I do not dismiss as nonsense everything in the article. Much of what's presented is either completely credible or at least plausible. Perhaps I should have pointed that out at the outset. Regardless, exercising a little bit of skepticism and critical thinking and pointing out obviously incorrect facts made my anonymous sources in press reporting is not, in my view, at all equivalent to making sweeping, dismissive remarks off the top of one's head.


Actually, Basilisk, Israel is just Stark Industries writ large. Can't wait for Bibi's breathless announcement: "I am Iron Man."

JT Cornpone

It was the planes unreeling carbon filaments which stopped me, but I have to provide some context to explain why.

The first northeast power outage occurred sometime between 1962 and 1966 when I was an undergrad EE student and it was well covered in the IEEE Spectrum publication at that time. There were three such events over my career, one of which was caused by a geomagnetic storm and one of which was caused by failure to maintain right-of-ways (trees) and I can't remember the third. I could research this but this is a comment and not a technical paper so my 50 year old memories will have to suffice. Look up "Northeast Power Outages" on Google. I'll just say I have been interested in transmission grid reliability since then, although my further studies to include a D.Sc in EE had nothing to do with power transmission.

To the point, when I graduated and went to work for Bell Labs in Columbus, Ohio, I bought a farm which included a right-of-way and one tower for the 760 KV Muskingum transmission line on the back of the property. "My" tower was in a remote area of the property, accessible from a county park to anyone who cared, but I regularly walked and cross country skied under the crackling and buzzing monster and even in the days before the terror hysteria contemplated the outage that could be caused by miscreants bringing down this tower with 4 lumps of plastic explosive, especially if they found other similarly vulnerable towers along the grid for an orchastrated event. Such an attack would go far beyond an outage caused by some transient as described above. This tower was major infrastructure--a base square maybe 40x40 feet, around 100 feet tall, three phases, four conductors each, maybe 1 or 2 inches in diameter separated by 40 feet or so, five foot insulator stacks etc. Not something you have in stock--a major construction project to rebuild. Then you have to splice these massive conductors, haul them back up, and then go through the phased in reloading of the line which was the biggest part of restoring service in the incidents mentioned in my second paragraph which in itself took several days. I was it's sole guardian for 18 years.

This gets us to the carbon fibers. If you are going to war with someone in a serious way why invent a new complex system to carry on a modern fighter jet which would simulate a fault which would only cause a common outage, propagating effect of blowing fuses, breakers and maybe wrecking a transformer or two (probably stock items) without damage to the structural system thus easily restorable when the same jet could just knock down a tower or two with practically any old on-board missile system thus causing damage that could not be restored by the plans in place for common outages. It just didn't make sense to me if your objective was to cause maximum harm with minimum effort. The carbon fiber attack would only make sense to me if your objective was to have the enemy grid back up again in a few days or a week. I'm open to instruction on why one would want this outcome in a war starting scenario.

As to cyber attack, this is even further from my obsolete and irrelevant former telecommunications experience but I will say this in general: Cyber warfare expertise seems to me to potentially be the most equally distributed capability for misbehavior on the planet. No huge industrial infrastructure required. Programmers and hackers are being turned out by educational institutions and informal social structures world wide in quantity. Such expertise is the heart of our current consumer tech. revolution and the heart of major new criminal and military enterprises. It's not clear to me that any country has an absolute cyberwarfare advantage. The Stuxnet incident (as well as the Y2K to do) was a warning to everyone and to be fore-warned is to be fore-armed. Any country which is paying attention should be able to play in this game. I would not underestimate the Iranians or anyone else (including the Israelis).

(Dr.) JT

Babak Makkinejad

A war initiated by Israel against Iran will go on for years.

It will make Israel the object of hatred of Shia Muslims and Iranians.

It will not end, in my judgement, by carbon fibers and computer viruses.

The technological fetishism expressed will not win such a war.

Anyone who does not cosider - seriosuly - decades of warfare between Irsael & Iran is indulging in infantilism.


I'm open to instruction on why one would want this outcome in a war starting scenario.

I do not really have instructions but suggestions. Take two factors, a) public opinion and b) the word "precision" in military technology, they are slightly related.

Public opinion doesn't react too favorable to large scale destruction. Remember, the most televised war, was also the most censored. I'll never forget the black and green nights sight imagery. We were never given imagery of large scale destruction. It all looked like some odd computer game.


Israel already has the image of trying to bomb back it's enemies into the "stone age", if you allow me to exaggerate. Look at Lebanon 2006, or Gaza 2009, but you can go further back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasser_Arafat_International_Airport>Yasser Arafat International Airport ...

From this perspective it would make sense to look for a short-time-interruption solution, especially if you think you can achieve your aim in a very, very short time. (Which US experts contradict) But would you really make it public?

Precision seems to be the most important word in the latest military complex technologies. Precision is somehow connected with the idea above, only as much destruction as necessary to achieve one's aims, more "humanitarian" since reducing of collateral damage. Precision and it's use in the field gives the high-tech states an edge over it's "imprecise" tool using "savage" enemies.

I am not saying, I am impressed by the latest saber-rattling or breast-beating from Israel in all it's different modes, tones and fields. It reminds me of the sentence Max Blumenthal picked up in Israel, when Obama went to Kairo but dared to not visit Israel: What are we, chopped liver? It feels like naughty little chit, that demands to constantly be heard.

But if Pat is correct, maybe we should expect a summer surprise. Since at one point you have to stop bragging and act, otherwise no one will believe you anymore--or more importantly from Israel's point of view, fear you. Iran would definitively be a huge step out of the Iron Wall. too huge maybe.


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