Saturday, September 08, 2007


Daniel Drezner has a long post examining whether the Bush Administration is planning to "to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day". Drezner quotes Barnett Rubin as saying:

Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is also quoted as saying:

After a brief interruption of his New Hampshire vacation to meet President Bush in the family compound at Kenebunkport, Maine, French President Nicolas Sarkozy came away convinced his U.S. counterpart is serious about bombing Iran's secret nuclear facilities. That's the reading as it filtered back to Europe's foreign ministries.

Readers of Pajamas Media probably know that I'm engaged in a low-key debate with Michael Ledeen over whether it is desirable to push for regime change in Iran now. For the record, Ledeen does not advocate using primarily military means to overthrow the Ayatollahs. He argues that Iran has had a long record of belligerence against the US and "it’s time for us to fight back … using political and economic weapons, not military power."

Neither Drezner, Rubin, Packer nor de Borchgrave assert that the administration is actually going to war with Iran after Labor Day. What they charge is that a serious effort to make it a serious policy option (e.g. "sell the war") is going to be made by the Administration and its neoconservative allies after Labor Day. The distinction may seem pedantic, but going to war with Iran and embarking on a political campaign to convince the American public that Iran is a clear and present danger are two fundamentally different things. Going to war after Labor Day is probably ill-advised, but asking the question of whether America should eventually respond forcefully to Iran is probably not.

Overthrowing Iran is likely to prove a tough challenge and it should not be undertaken without sufficient consideration, preparation and without building a broad bipartisan consensus over its desirability. My disagreement with Michael Ledeen really centers on this: I am not entirely sure, as he seems to think that Iran is self-evidently in a "pre-revolutionary situation" which a comparatively slight effort can push into a full-blown uprising against the Ayatollahs. Taking on Iran will be hard and will therefore require preparation before irrevocably committing to it.

It is entirely appropriate for the Administration to remind the public of all the warlike acts the Islamic Republic has inflicted on the United States and entirely legitimate to ask whether they should be paid in their own coin. If nothing else, raising the subject will provide an chance for all those opposed to point out the reasons against it. And their arguments will be considerable because many potential questions about initiating regime change in Iran are currently unanswered. Some of these questions are: does the US have adequate unconventional and conventional forces? Who exactly will constitute the core of the new Iranian successor regime, assuming the current one is deposed? How will minorities, who comprise nearly half the population, be kept within the Iranian successor state? Will Iran break up and collapse into civil war if the existing regime is overthrown? What is the likelihood that neighboring countries will counter-intervene in the same way that they have done in Iraq? And so forth.

I am not so sure it is correct to say, as Daniel Drezner says in another post, "please, I beg you, just stop worrying about Iran. Worry about other things instead." Iran is not something you can just wish away because not only does it have a long history of attacking the US, it is currently engaged in combat operations against the US and Western interests in Iraq and Lebanon. And unlike Saddam's Iraq there is no serious question that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons and indeed, is on the verge of building them. This does not necessarily mean the appropriate response to the Islamic Republic's actions is war. Or even an immediate campaign of destabilization as Michael Ledeen suggests. But surely if even Barack Obama can say that Iran constitutes:

the greatest strategic challenge to U.S. interests in the Middle East in a generation. Iran supports violent groups and sectarian politics in Iraq, fuels terror and extremism across the Middle East and continues to make progress on its nuclear program in defiance of the international community. Meanwhile, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that Israel must be 'wiped off the map'

then it is not rational say 'let's not bring up that subject again.' Because if there is any lesson to be derived from the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom it is that all too many subjects were not brought up at all.

It may actually be useful to let Iran know that one major American political party is thinking about responding forcefully to the Ayatollah's challenges. That may have a deterrent effect and actually make war less likely. Attacking Iran may be the wrong response. But clearly it is a legitimate subject for public policy debate, one that should presumably give its opponents an opportunity to put forward their own alternative policy.

One of the worst things about the current War on Terror is that no broad bipartisan consensus exists on what strategy to follow. Six years after 9/11 there seems no agreement on who the enemy is and where his center of gravity lies. Is it in bringing Osama bin Laden to trial? In persuading Israel to make concessions to Palestine? In bringing Democracy to the Middle East? Should America even be at war at all or is it better to treat terrorism as simply another form of organized crime?

The question of Iran is better dealt with in public debate than in closed councils. As long as only a debate over possible war, and not war on Iran itself breaks out after Labor Day it will probably be a good thing.


Blogger NahnCee said...

I really don't care if the Mullah's are overthrown or not. I think we have the capability to take out their nuclear building test facilities, and that's what I think needs to be done. Now.

If the Iranians want to overthrow their government, fine. Let them. We tried bringing a better life to Iraq but evidently Muslims and Arabs enjoy being sat upon and tortured, so I'm not in favor of trying to overthrow an evil government in Iran, on the assmption that the Iranians will be any better at being normal human beings than the Iraqi's have been.

But good - yes, bomb their nuclear facilities, and the bigger a bomb the better. I suppose they'll need to use some sort of burrowing underground explosive, but it's been a while since humanity has seen a full-blown mushroom cloud, so maybe we need to trot one of them out again, just to remind jihadists, "You think that IED is a bomb? THIS is a bomb."

9/08/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Manny C said...

Thomas P.M. Barnett is going to go ape-shit upon reading this.

9/08/2007 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Yeah, no kidding he'll go nuts.

Eh, I'm afraid it would rapidly escalate from bombing nuke facilities into strategic bombing of civilian targets (a la Kosovo). That's the only thing that'll really hurt them. Hit the oil production facilities, refineries, and pipelines. Knock out all the power plants. Blow up bridges and sewage plants. Then it's just a matter of whether they quit and give up the nukes.

There's a lot we can do short of an full invasion, like perhaps poking around in Khuzistan (where most of their oil is) next to Iraq. Again, it's a matter of when they decide to quit.

They may not. The problem is wars is that they're easy to start but hard to end. There's no reason to think that Iran, which endured a much worse war with Iraq for eight years, would give up under some bombing. I just don't know.

9/08/2007 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

One of the problems, it seems to me, is that among the foreign policy chattering classes -- a group I am happy to define expansively to include many of the sharpest commenters on this blog and my own -- there is no unified vision of Iranian motivations. "Doves" tend to view Iran as weak, surrounded, and aggressive largely because so many threats are arrayed against it. In this view, Iran is reacting to a security dilemma, and if we signal and then entreat that we are not a threat Iran will feel greater security and in turn become less threatening. When doves want the United States to renounce the possibility of using military force against Iran, it is not only because they believe George W. Bush is "incompetent." It is because they believe that we have become substantially more threatening to Iran in the last five years, and that is at the root of much Iranian aggression.

Hawks, on the other hand, believe that Iran is motivated by revolutionary ambition. If I understand Michael Ledeen's position (not having yet read his current book, but having read his previous book and many of his articles and blog posts), the Islamic Republic is expansionist because it is a revolutionary Islamist regime, still filled with the ambition that has fired many other revolutionary movements in the past (from the French revolution to international Communism). Under this view, Iran wants to win, so the mullahs will take any Western concession as captured ground.

There is, no doubt, some truth to both of these conceptions. This should not surprise us -- during the Cold War we in the West had similar internal arguments about the nature of international Communism in general and Soviet expansionism in particular. The question is, which conception is sufficiently close to the truth that it should drive policy? My own view is closer to Ledeen's, but I have read enough of the thoughtful dove literature to know that there is more than a little evidence for that school of thought as well.

Finally, it seems to me that any American presidential candidate should have a developed conception of Iran, and the voters and press should demand that they articulate it. Do you, Mr.-Ms. Obama-Thompson-Edwards-Romney-Clinton believe that Iran is an inherently revolutionary state fired by an ideological compulsion to transform the world beyond its borders, or do you believe that it is substantially motivated by concerns for its own security -- legitimate or otherwise -- and that it would largely keep to itself if it felt less threatened?

Once Iran is "conceived," to use my terminology, the viable policy options become much clearer.

9/08/2007 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I wish there was some way to judge the quality of the information about Iran's nuclear program. If the Iranians do indeed have enough isotope separation centrifuges to make weapon's grade material then destroying them is morally obligatory even if it means plunging the world economy into recession. Unfortunatley, the only way to know for sure would be to have people there counting the centrifuges.

Maybe we do?

However our intelligence was totally wrong with the Iraqi WMDs. How can we trust it with the Iranians?

What a monster foulup it would be if we hosed the world's economy simply to destroy an empty bunker that the Iranians tricked us into believing was a nuclear munitions factory.

I'm glad I don't have to make this decision.

9/09/2007 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Manny C said...

John Lynch

I was thinking the same setup re Iranian persistence vs Iraq. That was a brutal war. Hundreds of thousands killed, chemical/biological weapons used. No real victor.

I doubt the US is considering a ground war, but the Iranians determined response against Iraq indicates that they would unleash hell on the US: the FBI have been looking for Hez'ballah cells on CONUS; the Iranians will turn Iraq into a bloodbath.

Will it be worth it? Are there other options? As Richard notes in his post, these sort of questions will be answered by the public debate that will ensue, if this is all legit.

Incidentally, this makes diary entry by a purported sailor on a US aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf on the Daily Kos site claiming they were ramping up for military missions, less implausible.

9/09/2007 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Manny C said...


There is also ample evidence that one of Saddam's lasting strategems in the lead up to Gulf War II is that he tricked the US intelligence agencies into believing he held vast stores of WMD. There were also credible reports of him shipping some of the weapons he did have via emptied out 747s to Syria prior to the war.

The Iranian strategy you identify (deception) has been used successfully against the US before. After all, why should the Iranians lie about weapons they don't have only to get nailed in a bombing raid. Not rational is it? But then again, rationality is something the Iranians have shown a distinct lack of.

9/09/2007 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The thought must precede the deed. As Tigerhawk says we need a "conception" of Iran. Now Michael Ledeen says he has no confidence in our intelligence agencies. On the face of it, that's something that needs to be fixed before anyone can consider a campaign against Iraq. Otherwise we will have no "conception" or Iran. How can we even think of successfully achieving regime change if our intel agencies are broken? Or are they? All questions fit for the debate.

I don't have any confidence in our intelligence agencies, and moreover I think they are viscerally opposed to any support for Iranians against the regime.

This is something a debate should surface. Otherways there will be no way to focus on the important points and we will more or less either slide into war when we should remain at a distance or equally bad, slide into passivity when we should be doing something. But which?

9/09/2007 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Thomas Barnett reviews Ledeen's book favorably at his site.

9/09/2007 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Wretchard,

I wanted to note that it is probably wise to separate the Sarkozy issue from the frantically hysterical Barnett Rubin post on Juan Cole's Informed Comment. Norman Podhoretz has a book due out this fall on "the fourth world war" that is basically a prescription for war against Iran. Podhoretz is on the Giuliani foreign policy team; what are their two major concerns? Terrorism and Iran. That is, they assume Bush will not deal with Tehran and it will be at the top of the pile in the next administration's in-box.

The idea that the White House has stirred the founder of Commentary, as well as WSJ, TWS, AEI, etc. into a frenzy to beat the drums for their war against Iran is laughable. As is evident to anyone who has read almost anything published out of these outfits in the last several years, this group has basically begged the Bush administration to do Iran.

So, now we have gone from Juan Cole et al saying the White House is in thrall to the Israel Lobby to Cole publishing friends who have friends with friends who know people in Washington think-tanks saying that the White House is actually running the "Lobby" as an asset. This ought to indicate how degraded the level of thinking is with these guys - Cole, Rubin, Packer, et al can't even read.

9/09/2007 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

I appreciate Wretchard’s intellectual honesty. I think he has made his case.

Ledeen seems to be directly equating the cold war to the un-discussed war with Iran that is now occurring.

During that time we walked quietly but carried a big stick. That stick was Gen. Lemay’s powerful Strategic Air Command. There was a huge amount of fire power constantly in the sky.

I believe that most wars start before and complete analysis of all the individual pieces of data are available.

In fact, a number of wars occur because of a sneak attack from another country. Basically, war is forced upon a country.

To simply this discussion I will use Ayn Rand's philosophy in her book The Virtue of Selfishness but at a national level.

Her philosophy principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds that man's life, the life proper to a rational being, as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with man's nature, with the creative requirements of his survival, and with a free society.

Hence, the USA should primarily do whatever promotes its own interests and secondary worry about the welfare of a brutal nation with psychotic leaders.

Given the evidence and outward pledges of war by Iran’s puppet President who is governed by a group of power hungry Ayatollahs, the USA should always do whatever promotes what is valuable for her troops and civilians.

In the present case, the USA should take any and all actions to halt the flow of men and weapons that are killing our troops in Iraq.

The same goes for Iran’s A-bomb program.

It’s far too dangerous to let’s these psychotic Iranian leaders have such a powerful weapon. They have made their intent to use it clear.

Thus, I feel the US government has a legal and moral obligating to halt the supply of weapons and “advisors” to Iraq - the actual means is of secondary consequence.

If it requires massive bombing raids and ground troops so be it.

The same goes for Iran’s A-bomb project. If it requires large scale military operations then so be it.

As for grand images of “rehabilitated” country, that will probably not fully happen.

It’s is possible that Iran could turn out like Germany or Japan but I doubt it. Each war is different.

Further, the wrap-up of each war is different.

And, to think that Iran with its vast oil wealth will soon crumble is wishful thinking.

It will take a much more than talk, consumption of taqiyya by our negotiators, and “economic sanctions” to modify Iran's behavior.

I have a feeling that the cancer is spreading and military action is the only feasible cure.

9/09/2007 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Whether or not the US attempts to change the regime in Iran through non-military means (what Barnett calls the "soft kill") tells us nothing about how Iran will respond. Any sufficiently effective regime change effort, even if it involved bombarding Iran with stuffed toys, would represent an existential threat not only to the Ayatollahs but to the Islamic Revolution. We might forswear military action, but that doesn't bind Hezbollah, or Qods or the leadership in Iran to the same restraint.

Therefore one shouldn't take false comfort in the idea that, "oh we're going to bring down the regime nonviolently" because while it may wind up being one of those Velvet Revolutions, it would be foolish to bet on it. Once we are serious about ending the regime in Teheran it will literally be a fight to the finish.

Both the "let's not think about Iran" position of Drezner and the idea that Iran is rotten fruit just ready to fall contain hidden dangers. Whether we choose to ignore Iran or choose to regard it as being in a pre-revolutionary situation doesn't reliably predict what could in fact, occur. We should be ready for anything from Iran. Even if we don't go for regime change, but especially if we do.

9/09/2007 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/09/2007 03:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

What is war against Iran exactly supposed to achieve?

Regime change?

Notwithstanding the supposed "pre-revolutionary situation” the Iranians find themselves in, the only way regime change is going to be guaranteed is through a large-scale ground invasion and occupation. Anything less will lead to certain defeat. But of course that defeat will be blamed not on the architects of the faulty strategy but on the critics of it. So as a result, the architects feel free to throw any bullshit that can get to stick on a wall since they will not ever be blamed for the resulting disaster. And attempts at regime change through “peaceful means” in a country sitting on as much oil as Iran is a waste of time at best and will be counter-productive at worst

Nuclear weapons?

Martin Van Creveld has stated that the Iranians would be “crazy” if the weren’t building nuclear weapons. If this is true then either the geopolitical situation that is driving them towards joining the nuclear club will have to change or their means to create these weapons will have to be destroyed by force. The nature of the Middle East is obviously not going to change over night so this means that if the US (or more likley Israel) decides that they cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran then military force is the only way to achieve this goal. But will a few bombing runs do the trick? Most likely not since Iran is not stupid and would have probably placed dummy nuclear installations within the crosshairs of any expected US attack. And surely with all their oil wealth they can simply purchase enough material to construct a small arsenal. If the elimination of any potential Iranian nuclear programs is such a critical element of US security then surely relying on after-the-fact damage reports is going to fall just a bit short in insuring the future of the free world. Again only a full scale invasion and occupation will give the West the certainty that no Iranian nuclear programs exist and that no program will reemerge. Bombing runs alone will again only lead to defeat.

Stopping attacks in Iraq?

Iran was a huge and enthusiastic supporter of the idea of the US taking down their enemy Saddam and the Iranian puppet political groups are the most unabashedly pro-American in Iraq. Nevertheless the Iranians (along with Russians and Chinese intelligence) have undoubtedly been using the Iraqi battlefield as a testing ground for weapons against US hardware. Unfortunately this is a murky world. Would US air strikes dissuade the Iranians from testing weapons in Iraq? Perhaps. The Iranians largest strategic goal is to keep the US firmly ensconced in the Iraqi quagmire and they could certainly live without the intelligence bonanza they are currently garnering in Iraq if forced to. The problem is that the success of any air campaign to punish the Iranians would be hard to quantify and could possibly lead to a wider war again requiring full-scale invasion and occupation.

Without the ability to fully defeat the Iranians, any attempt to launch a limited war against them is foolish in the extreme. To the Likudnick neo-cons all this talk of bombing Iran is just the thin edge of the wedge and the resulting specter of defeat that will result in any half-baked attacks on Iran will allow them to either slam the rest of the wedge home by calling for a full-scale invasion or blame their critics for the loss.

On the other hand, I have always thought that in the Machiavellian world that US and Israeli policy makers live in that talk about Iran was just a diversion and that the real target of any US/Israeli invasion would be Syria. With Basra soon following into Iranian hands and the Persian Gulf slowly becoming an enemy pond, the only way the US troops are going to leave Iraq is by way of Syria’s Mediterranean ports. Iran is just too powerful for direct confrontation and the only way to break the Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Hezbollah dagger aimed straight at Israel is to hit the weak link of Syria.

9/09/2007 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Barnett deserves credit for conceptualizing the Core and the Gap and how and why future conflicts will evolve around conectivity and the resistance to it, but his argument that it's no big deal if Iran gets nuclear weapons because Israel already has them makes no sense to me. Why is being "fair" to a regime that openly vows to destroy Israel, regardless of the consequences, a good thing?

Perhaps Iran would be as belligerent if it were not Islamic but what we now know about Islam makes that kind of parsing impossible. Islam has always divided the world into us and them with the amount of blood spilt a function only of Islam's minions' capability to do so.

Whether the mullah see themselvs as the progeny of Muhammed or Cyrus makes little difference in the long run. The implications of a nuclear armed Iran are unacceptable. Sometimes there are no good choices. If we have to spend the next few generations playing whack-a-mole with Islamists then let's at least keep the nukes aways from the moles.

I hope the Europeans can get on board with us. The Brussels city council is now majority Islamic and absent a radical change in attitude among native Europeans this unwholesome trend is going to continue across the continent. Time is of the essence. For all his insights into connectivity Barnett never seems to have envisioned the Core becoming subverted with the Gap's value system.

9/09/2007 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Is Israel Looking for Korean Weapons in Syria?

9/09/2007 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Professor Landis does not address the Iraqi connection mentioned by Manny C @ 9/09/2007 12:12:00 AM,
but that went through my mind, also.

9/09/2007 05:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Islam has always divided the world into us and them with the amount of blood spilt a function only of Islam's minions' capability to do so."
Well said!

9/09/2007 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Replace "Machiavellian" with "Bozo," and recalculate the probability that we will take action against Syria!

9/09/2007 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

We might substitute DVD's of this video for the bombardment of Iran with stuffed toys.

9/09/2007 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger eatyourbeans said...

My two ignorant man's cents:

Barring the use of nukes , which given that Russia and China live nearby is pretty damn reckless, is it even possible to destroy their bomb factories? So maybe we had better face the inevitable, which may not exactly be what we think.

Iran might use its nukes the way a porcupine uses its quills. It protects from attack while it goes about its business. In Iran's case, their "business" is terrorism and the eventual control of the mid east oil reserves, which is the real strategic weapon they're after.

Russia is playing that game too, gently so far. Does anybody else have this nightmare?: A new Iron-Koran curtain around most of the world's energy supplies. leaving us literally and figuratively out in the cold? And how ironic that the violent thugs of the world could do us in non-violently.

Of course, that coin has two sides. How insane that a couple of whack-job loon regimes can hold the rest of the world hostage to their whims because they have a monopoly on the energy supplies.

If that's not grounds for a grand coalition of the needing, what is?

9/09/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The technology of regime change is changing very rapidly. Armed drones that are indistinguishable from flying hornets should make decapitation strikes routine. Self-assembling nanotech weapons that fly into a palace or assembly, disguise themselves as part of the furniture, then move in for the attack with perfect stealth--these weapons change the calculus.

Not to mention changes in energy technology that could take the wind out of the sails of the great petroleum powers as quickly as within the next ten years. Iran is a stone-age civilisation. It cannot adapt to the rapid changes that are coming.

9/09/2007 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

The target selections have already been done. 1,200 targets in all.

A single wave of 100% of the US bomber fleet can deliver in excess of 4,000 two thousand pound bombs.

The campaign plan calls for 72 hours of bombing. Then calling a truce.

9/09/2007 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Eatyourbeans's (?!) mention of Russia and China is to the point. Since no good deed goes unpunished, I see us bombing key facilities and bunkers and removing the threat that a nuclear bellicose, terror-exporting or oil flow interrupting Iran poses for Russia and China (and us), and then, post our aerial aggression, those two countries moving into Iran more effectively than ever to "help" the Iranians- rebuild, insinuate themselves more strongly as vital strategic partners, and reshape the Iranian regime to their needs and interests. How to prevent this?

Heh- this Russo-Iranian joint venture must be about Unitedstates Flying Objects.

9/09/2007 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

When the Panama oil pipeline is destroyed, requring six to twelve months of repairs, the Alaskan crude will not be available to Gulf Coast refineries.

When Mexican oil infrastrucutre burns, it's petroleum products will not be available for export to the US.

The US defends neither of those assets, two close to home choke points. The other choke points, around the globe, just as vunerable to war.

Fretting about Hezzbollah cells in the US, while ignoring those south of the frontier. How US-centic and blind.

Global recession, what a rosy scenario you paint. Recession would be the best case. Depression and greater conflagation much more likely, more likely than containing WWIV to the sandbox.

9/09/2007 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

This is wishful thinking nonsense. We're light years from attacking Iran. There is next to no political movement in that direction because without wide support it would be as self destructive as ignoring them.

We break it, we buy it.

Europe, Russia and China who’re largely responsible for Iran’s nuclear "containment", or lack of it, would just walk away and leave us with a mess far more expensive than the one in Iraq. A massive attack would turn the Iranians against us for decades without destroying their bio capabilities.

With Iraq tying up our resources and without the political will to finish the job, it’s much better to work with Europe for now, especially considering they’d be the first target of Iranian nukes, after Israel.

9/09/2007 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Desert Rat makes a good point about the many other points of susceptibility around the world.

Everybody gets one free shot at the US (e.g. Japan, Islamists). The question is -- when will the Iranians take their free shot?

The Bush Administration would love for Iran to take its free shot soon, so that the US could respond forcefully. Bomb & forget, no occupation; repeat as required. It may be that some US actions, like putting all those aircraft carriers in the Gulf a few months back, were deliberate attempts to provoke an Iranian first shot.

There is probably one group among the Iranians urging no undeniable aggressive act until President Mrs. Rodham-Clinton is installed. Then they will celebrate her election with a good bitch-slapping, expecting that our poor Democrat will simply collapse into plantive self-recrimination.

But is this a safe bet for the Iranians?

There are probably other Iranians pointing out Bill Clinton's war crime bombing of civilian targets in Serbia -- which to this day has attracted zero condemnation from the Chomsky's of this world. They may point out that a Democrat is the only person ever to have used nuclear weapons against human beings - twice! This group of Iranians may be arguing that it is better to strike now against a President who is paralyzed by partisan opposition.

Decisions! Decisions! And then Chavez does something stupid on the other side of the world while all parties are still engaged in their internal debates. Expect the unexpected!

9/09/2007 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

If you're really determined to kill us, and we truly do come to believe and finally to know this: What do you think a prudent nation ought to do?

Saying that Iran gives weapons, etc. for those fighting the Americans in Iraq is somewhat like saying the Americans gave the Afghans weapons to fight the Russians...err Soviets. So what?

We could develop all manner of arguments for this need to attack Iran, going back to those hostages that were released right after President Reagen was sworn into office (Is Billy Beer worth anything?).

My hunch, good 'ole Pres Bush bombs them nasty boys--those Iranians, while foot tapping his way out of office, leaving the problem for the next President.

It's time for the Israelis to have some military fun; hell, isn't it time for that whole place to just blow up? Don't we have enough stupid people (who think they are really smart,kinda stupid-smart when you think about it) in power who are closer to the buttons of war than ever before? Just how many of these countries are itching for a fight, err need a fight so that these stupid-smart types can stay in power?

Those spiritual leaders from that great "religion of peace" (angry little boys aren't they?)... Left out intellectuals who found a home in the make believe storyworld of what is good and evil.

Remember when western nations were making fun of the new Pope? Seems to me he is an intellectual, but one who doesn't go around inciting murder, jihad or whatever.

Time to get the Christ and Yahweh lovers united against those Mohammad lovers so we can see who is the toughest and best...find a winner so the rest of us can get back to being good consumers and citizens.

Hell, Russia will sell us the oil if the Middle East fields become literly too hot for export or habitation (read radiation hot).

I think our real problem rests with having bad salesmen/saleswomen in government.

I just don't want to buy anything from these people anymore.

Maybe our enemies will get stupid again and really hurt us so I can remember why we're fighting them.

I'm going to watch for something really stupid to happen, while constructing my bomb/fallout shelter.

9/09/2007 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Dawnfire82 said...

When trying to solve conundrums like this it is sometimes helpful to reduce the question to its basic points.

Are we willing to allow Iran to develop nuclear capability? Yes or no?

That fundamental question determines our eventual level of response. i.e. how far are we willing to go. If we are willing to use economic and political pressure, but not military force, (one of the 'nuances' answers I more often hear) then our answer is apparently 'yes' because Iran will not stop because of economic or political punishment. Iraq never did, and epic-scale isolation did not prevent the North Koreans from their nuclear program; why would anyone think that it would prevent the Iranians, with relatively more resources?

Something else to take into consideration when pondering the question, especially for those who assume the Iranians are only interested in self-protection. Egypt, Saudi, and company have lived for decades with a nuclear capable Israel. But almost as soon as it becomes known that Iran is trying to go nuclear, they start talking about doing it themselves, for defensive reasons.

Hmmm. These hard line Arab regimes bitched for years and years about Israeli atomic arms, but never actually did anything about it. But months into a known Iranian project, and suddenly they want them to to protect themselves. Meaning they are more afraid of Iran than they are of Israel. That ought to be a sobering thought for a dove. Be certain that Iran's regional neighbors know them better than you do.

9/09/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger SERENDIP said...

Two intriguing developments have unfolded in Iran over the past week: the election of a new Assembly of Experts Speaker on September 4 and the appointment of a new Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in chief on September 1. Both suggest the growing power of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a powerful politician who is openly critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and his policies

Ahmadinezhad's Power Slipping in Iran

By Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji
September 6, 2007

Mehdi Khalaji is a Next Generation fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on the role of politics in contemporary Shiite clericalism in Iran and Iraq. A Shiite theologian by training, Mr. Khalaji has also served on the editorial boards of two prominent Iranian periodicals and produced for the U.S. government's Persian news service.
From 1986 to 2000, Mr. Khalaji trained in the seminaries of Qom, the traditional center of Iran's clerical establishment. There he studied theology and jurisprudence, earning a doctorate and researching widely on modern intellectual and philosophical developments in Iran and the wider Islamic and Western worlds. In Qom, and later in Tehran, Mr. Khalaji embarked on a career in journalism, first serving on the editorial board of a theological journal and then, after 1995, the intellectual monthly Kyan and the daily Entekhab. In addition to his own writing, he has translated the works of the humanist Islamic scholar Muhammad Arkoun.

9/09/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


Re: vulnerable choke points.

Yes, it would be a real shame if China’s cheap labor costs were to be offset by not so cheap energy costs. But it would not be a disaster, at least not to the US.

9/09/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Not to mention changes in energy technology that could take the wind out of the sails of the great petroleum powers as quickly as within the next ten years

When America does develop these new energy technologies, are we gonna share them with Russia and China? Or make them grovel a little bit?

9/09/2007 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

When America does develop these new energy technologies, are we gonna share them with Russia and China? Or make them grovel a little bit?

People have been talking about Magnetic Levitation trains for decades, but there is only one place in the world that you can buy a ticket & get on a MagLev -- China. People love their high-tech US-designed i-Phones -- made in China.

China is slapping up nuclear power plants in a hurry, while the West plays around with tax-subsidized windmills and energy-consuming ethanol. Heard recently about a US entrepreneur who has invested years developing revolutionary improvements in solar power; just signed his first major contract to build a full-scale deployment -- in Indonesia.

The US may lead the world in developing technology -- but the US also leads the world in erecting political barriers to ever using the technology. A betting man would probably gamble that China will be energy independent through advanced technology long before the US.

9/09/2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Drezner quotes Barnett Rubin as saying: Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington"

Reminds me of a verse from Tom Leher's song "Lobachevsky":

I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

9/09/2007 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

What if they got "bombed" and they couldn't tell what, much less who, bombed them?

What if there were no bombs, their stuff just stopped working?

Peace through the electromagnetic spectrum, wouldn't that be grand?

9/09/2007 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Our Cold War strategy depended on MAD.

That's gone: Iran can as a nuclear power use Hezbollah, Qods, AQ, etc. as a deniable cut-out to nuke America.

The Iranian leadership is insane, from Ahmadnutjob (green light rays, no blinking for hours, hinting he's the Mahdi, etc.) to the Mullahs. The Iranians have launched aggressive acts of war since 1979 unanswered except by US surrender, appeasement, and groveling.

I see no prospect for change, to fight any military action against Iran would be to put PC-religion to the torch.

Look at Kevin's arguments: Iran is too "powerful" and we should surrender the Gulf to them, "defeat is good for America" and "Israel should be destroyed" and most of all, since we have nukes Iran should too.

Kevin seems to live in the old Cold War world where stopping worldwide nuclear war depended on restraining aggressive actions by both sides. As noted, MAD no longer works.

Iran is convinced (and should be after 30 years) that anything they do will result in the US surrender. We can't even get Osama as he shelters in Pakistan's nuclear umbrella. With nukes they can nuke our cities with impunity.

And Iran is right: there are too many people like Kevin who don't understand that nuclear proliferation is reality, the tech is old and Russia, China, Pakistan, North Korea, and the Europeans will sell to anyone. That non-state proxies can shield along with PC, self-loathing, fetishized weakness and victimhood any response to nuclear attacks by insane nations and leaders.

[Let's be honest -- the Iranian people are our enemies -- they engage in loathesome acts such as public hangings for "adultery" when they don't stone people to death, they are enthusiastic supporters of Jihad. A few students might not fit that mode but most of Iran is peasants from the countryside who would celebrate any nuking of America.]

The idea that GWB or anyone would be willing to even discuss Iran as our enemy and major threat (because they cannot be deterred) is laughable. Too many are invested in PC, Multiculturalism, defeat-as-morally-good, and outright hatred of America (too much wealthy comfort). To openly discuss Iran's unanswered 30 year aggression against the US would be to demand to DO SOMETHING about it.

And DOING SOMETHING, ANYTHING, would put PC-Multi-Culti-Liberal hatred of America at risk.

9/09/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Iranian leadership is not insane in my opinion.

From an economic standpoint, Iranian imperialism (Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian territories) is understandable; it has to maintain subsidies for a rural population that is no longer viable. Oil and natural gas earn $1,300 a year for each Iranian, roughly a fifth of per-capita GDP. The Islamic republic dispenses this wealth to keep alive a moribund economy. Government spending has risen by four-and-a-half times during the past four years, financed via the central bank's printing press, pushing inflation up to 15% pa [per annum], while unemployment remains at 11% or more."

Iran's ultra-Islamist government has no hope of ameliorating the crisis through productivity growth. Instead it proposes totalitarian methods. In programs made public on August 15, 2005, Ahmadinejad revealed a response to the inevitable unraveling of Iran's traditional society. He proposes to reduce the number of villages from 66,000 to only 10,000, relocating 30 million Iranians. That is a preemptive response to the inevitable depopulation of rural Iran, in keeping with a totalitarian program for all aspects of Iranian society.

As Amir Taheri wrote in Arab News on August 20,2006 "He [Ahmadinejad] wants the state to play a central role in all aspects of people's lives and emphasizes the importance of central planning. The state would follow the citizens from birth to death, ensuring their health, education, well-being and leisure. It will guide them as to what to read and write and what 'cultural products' to consume so as not to be contaminated by Western ideas."

Reengineering the shape of Iran's population, the central plank of the new government's domestic program, should be understood as the flip side of Iran's nuclear coin. Aggressive relocation of Iranians and an aggressive foreign policy both constitute a response to the coming crisis.

Iran claims that it must develop nuclear power to replace diminishing oil exports. It seems clear that Iranian exports will fall sharply, perhaps to zero by 2020, according to Iranian estimates. But Iran's motives for acquiring nuclear power are not only economic but strategic. Like Hitler and Stalin, Ahmadinejad looks to IMPERIAL expansion as a solution for economic crisis at home.

Just outside Iran's present frontiers lie the oil resources of Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and not far away are the oil concentrations of eastern Saudi Arabia. Its neighbors are quite as alarmed as Washington about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and privately quite happy for Washington to wipe out this capability.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have the most to lose from a nuclear-equipped Iran. No one can predict when the Saudi kingdom might become unstable, but whenever it does, Iran will stand ready to support its Shi'ite co-religionists, who make up a majority in the kingdom's oil-producing east.

At some point the United States will reduce or eliminate its presence in Iraq, and the result will be civil war. Under conditions of chaos Iran will have a pretext to expand its already substantial presence on the ground in Iraq, perhaps even to intervene militarily on behalf of its Shi'ite co-religionists.

What now is Azerbaijan had been for centuries the northern provinces of the Persian Empire, and a nuclear-armed Iran could revive Persian claims on southern Azerbaijan. Iran continues to lay claim to a share of Caspian Sea energy resources under the Iranian-Soviet treaties of 1921 and 1940. As Iran's oil production dwindles over the next two decades, though, its historic claims on the Caspian are likely to re-emerge.

9/09/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

Given the war weariness in the general population (whether war weariness is justified is another matter, but it's there) ordering a preemptive bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities would gaurantee a Republican defeat in 2008. Is Bush willing to take that action knowing that outcome? I doubt it.

9/09/2007 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Outside the box thinking: Issue a phoney Osama bin Laden videotape calling for all good little jihadis out there to attack the apostate mullahs of Iran who are corrupting the True Faith.

Hey, al Quada is out there and wants to kill people: let's use them!

9/09/2007 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger patrick neid said...

Lets see, Iran is a terror state currently sending men and arms into Iraq killing us at their leisure. Whenever they have been bored these last thirty years they look for us or our interests and kill us for sport and headlines.

Lately they have decided to go nuclear--peacefully of course! But then in the next breath they talk about terminating Israel.

So my question is, if the above cliff notes on Iran as a threat are reasonably accurate why is the leadership of Iran still alive? I doubt very seriously that the average Iranian in the streets has any clue what the leadership is doing. Why all this talk about bombing campaigns or waiting for the country to collapse forcing a leadership change. (it won't)

My thoughts remain the same. We need to personalize this war by starting at the top and working down. These hate mongers need to be vanquished, as in made dead. That is a message that would quickly resonate in Syria, Sudan etc.

Iranian leaders are some of the world's foremost terrorists. The President has said as much. We pursue bin Laden and would kill him in a heartbeat if we could. But I put it to you--who is more dangerous, bin laden or the top 100 leaders of Iran.

Please save the BS about assassinating leaders. Reagan settled that issue when he put a cruise missile down Qaddafi's chimney for being a terrorist. But if you persist in that dodge then bin laden should get himself elected to president of a small country. Then he could join his fellow monsters from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Sudan etc on their semi annual shopping treks to New York to be feted by the UN and local Democrat losers.

Until we are prepared to fight this war like a war, we are doomed. The problem now is no one thinks we could possibly lose. Hubris.......

9/09/2007 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Anybody here believe that the average Iranian loves the Iranian government? At NRO, Anne Bayefsky reports:

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, traveled to Iran this week to take a front row seat and listen attentively to Holocaust-denier Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The occasion was billed as a human-rights meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), currently chaired by Cuba.

While Arbour was hobnobbing with anti-Semites, butchers, and anti-democratic forces from around the world, Iranians were being prepared for public hangings.

The day after Arbour left Iran the government felt sufficiently buoyed by their U.N. stamp of approval, that they executed 21 prisoners. People are executed in Iran for charges like “enmity against God” or “being corrupt on earth.”

9/09/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

"We break it, we buy it. "

I like Sherman's dicta better:

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.”

"Owning it" has been fatally corrupted from the very beginning. "Owning" shouldn't automatically be understood as us being required to leave strip malls and theme parks whereever we pass.

I don't see us merely bombing Iran's nuke facilities. If that was all we were going to do it would have been done already. I think we'll put people (or at least sensors)on the ground at some of the nuke targets for surveillence and intelligence gathering.

If the Brit press can be taken seriously (LARGE grain of salt) it sounds more like a decapitations strike is in the offing. Zorch the leadership, command and control nexi, take out their ability to project, and then explore options from there. Leave the lights on for the most part, don't mess with water plants, maybe even leave the oil pumps alone.

I definitely wouldn't want to be a mullah, a nuke worker, or a Qods gomer working the FEP/training effort within a hundred K of the Iraqi border, though.

9/09/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If they've been pinpointed, I wouldn't mind zorching the hostage-takers from the embassay take-over either, beginning with President Ahmadwhoosit.

9/09/2007 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Who needs regime change?

I thinks its better to let the Mullahs exhaust Iran and their credibility by setting up straw men for them to flail at for years while demographics catches up with them.

Until the population turns against them 100% like the Sunnis did in Anbar, the time is not right to do anything and even then the US should use proxies like the EU Intelligence services to do the work while we provide containment and deniable dirty tricks.

The need now is to goad the mullahs into escalation while enraging them as best we can at every turn. We also need consistent memes about the mullahs - corruption, lavish lifestyles, overseas bank accounts, homosexuality, cynicism, jingoism, exploitation of children, stupidity, radioactive contamination, squandering of wealth.

What has to be discredited is the idea that a return to Islam is the saving grace for Muslims. Its not and Iran has to be shown as a shining example.

9/09/2007 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


Look at Kevin's arguments: Iran is too "powerful" and we should surrender the Gulf to them, "defeat is good for America" and "Israel should be destroyed" and most of all, since we have nukes Iran should too.

If you are going to shoot down my arguments please be kind enough to actually quote what I say and not what the voices in your head are saying. To paraphrase, I basically said that Iran is too powerful for a pathetic replay of Operation Linebacker II to have much of an effect on them. While I think your pronouncements of the death of MAD are a bit premature (gee if Hezbollah launch a nuclear missile at them are the leaders of Israel really going to waste five seconds thinking about it before they incinerate Tehran along with south Lebanon?) then at least have the courage of your convictions and call for a WW2-style full scale invasion and occupation of Iran to prevent them from becoming a nuclear power. Instead you call for any action, no matter how weak, in order to teach the perceived multi-culti enemies floating in your head a lesson.

Of course you are loath to admit that the less than brilliant idea to overthrow Saddam Hussein has now resulted in a major increase in Iranian power and influence along with a decrease in US military potential due to the huge commitment in Iraq. The only tool the US has in its box, thanks to Iraq, is a replay of Linebacker. So all you can call for are dangerous half-measures that will lead either to defeat, or even worse, stalemate. But who cares about the future of your country or the region, those half-measures would make you feel real good for a couple of weeks so let’s roll!

And if you don’t think the Persian Gulf is becoming an enemy pond look at this article [}


It looked like things were heating up in Syria yesterday with partial mobilizations on both sides but today it looks like things are claming down. I still think that Iran will not be hit but Syria will be a few months down the line.

9/10/2007 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

Kevin did say,

So all you can call for are dangerous half-measures that will lead either to defeat, or even worse, stalemate.

An interesting set of values that prefers defeat to stalemate. I suppose victory would come in at #3?

9/10/2007 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Dawnfire82 said...

"Of course you are loath to admit that the less than brilliant idea to overthrow Saddam Hussein has now resulted in a major increase in Iranian power and influence"

Logical impossibility. At best, Iran's power and influence seems greater relative to their neighbors. Of course, given that they are now neighbors with the US Army and Marine Corps, I'd happily dispute that idea also.

"along with a decrease in US military potential due to the huge commitment in Iraq. The only tool the US has in its box, thanks to Iraq, is a replay of Linebacker."

You act like our forces in Iraq are immobile or something. There is absolutely nothing physically preventing us from mounting up and rolling across the border into Iran, or to any place in Iraq to counter Iran.

And Linebacker was an operation from Vietnam. About 40 years ago. That used carpet bombing. We don't even have the capability to do those kinds of operations anymore, because it's obsolete warfare.

"So all you can call for are dangerous half-measures that will lead either to defeat, or even worse, stalemate. But who cares about the future of your country or the region, those half-measures would make you feel real good for a couple of weeks so let’s roll!"

This is just about the definition of 'defeatist.' We can't win, so why bother? And any argument to the contrary is stupid and unworthy of serious consideration. Let em do what they want.

"And if you don’t think the Persian Gulf is becoming an enemy pond look at this article [}"

1st of all, you're linking Debka, world renowned for being full of crap. Aren't they the ones who claim to use psychic powers in preparing their articles?

2ndly, I think we have two carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf right now, with all of their aircraft and missiles, and the hypothetical ability to deploy about 10 more. Not to mention numerous USAF assets throughout the Gulf States. The Iranians don't even have a capital ship. One, single capital ship.

3rdly, the last time Iran's navy challenged our navy, it was sunk.

9/10/2007 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger eatyourbeans said...

Nervous civilian's question:

Isn't it true that the US ground forces are supplied by one highway running north from Kuwait? If Iran were to cut it, what then? Another Stalingrad?

Maybe the aircraft carriers are there in case Iran tries something, but can airpower stop an army in its tracks?

9/10/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...


If you are not defending your homeland, often the wise commander of a great power’s forces will prefer a quick defeat after which he regains the ability to manoeuvre strategically to a stalemate where he is tied down for a long period of time. With the US Army already in a stalemate in Iraq, it would be catastrophic for the US Navy to then also get stuck in a second stalemate against Iran. Defeat is not necessarily a long-term condition, a year or so later an army or navy can come back and gain a decisive victory. Stalemate is long-term by definition and typically decisive victories, the true goal of all military action, don’t flow from stalemates. This is different if you are defending your homeland from an invading army where a stalemate is better than a defeat.


If it is defeatist to say anything less than a full invasion and occupation will ensure victory in Iran then so be it.

9/10/2007 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/10/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

9/10/2007 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well, the back pressure is already building.
In Mexico the oil infrastucture suffered from six coordinated explosive attacks on four natural gas pipelines.

These particular lines serving Mexico Citiy's needs.

Both sides of the ideological divide have sabers to rattle.

WWIV will not be contained to the sandbox. Just read the papers.
All Will Rogers had to do.

Just have to connect the dots.

9/10/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger deepinjuncountry said...

Kevin please stop being so disingenuous. Withdraw and go back in a year? Surely, you jest. Stalemate in Iraq? According to whom? The Navy in a stalemate? With what, the mighty naval and air forces forces of the hidden Imam. It starts with the taking out of training camps in hinterland Iran. I can only guess what is done in Syria, what with the Israelis and all, but that regime will either fold or be neutralized. Stop iranian meddling in Iraq and the Shi'ia fall in line. Iran is as stretched and strained as we are. Ultimately, it's the game of chicken, the incremental escalation unnerving everyone. Iran has yet to feel one quintillionth of the wrath we are capable of, and when they do, we will simply see how eager their leaders arte to meet the hidden Imam in hell.

9/10/2007 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

The Options if Diplomacy Fails

Tehran has several retaliatory options if attacked; the first of which should be of great concern in light of porous U.S. national borders

• Attack the US homeland with suicide bombs by proxy groups or deliver CBR weapons to al-Qa’ida to use against the US

• Retaliate against US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan overtly using Shahab-3 missiles armed with CBR warheads

• Use proxy groups including al-Zarqawi and Sadr in Iraq to intensify the insurgency and escalate the attacks against US forces and Iraqi Security Forces

• Turn the Shi’ite majority in Iraq against the US presence and demand US forces to leave

• Use its asymmetric capabilities to attack US interests in the region including soft targets: e.g. embassies, commercial centers, and American citizens

• Attack US naval forces stationed in the Gulf with anti-ship missiles, asymmetric warfare, and mines

• Attack Israel with missile attacks possibly with CBR warheads

• Retaliate against energy targets in the Gulf and temporarily shut off the flow of oil from the Strait of Hormuz

• Stop all of its oil and gas shipments to increase the price of oil, inflict damage on the global and US economies

9/10/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

ricpic said...

"Given the war weariness in the general population (whether war weariness is justified is another matter, but it's there) ordering a preemptive bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities would gaurantee a Republican defeat in 2008. Is Bush willing to take that action knowing that outcome?"

What if the President has already determined that the 2008 election is lost? For presidental elections, the economy trumps all other considerations, i.e. "It's the economy stupid!". It doesn't take an economic genius to see that we're on the very verge of a major recession. President Bush may have already concluded that Hillary has won the election. Bush's job approval rating is currently at 32.7%. He maybe thinking, "After me, the deluge".

p.s. I don't think the "war weariness is justified". This is a "long war" and we should not be fooled by the MSM into thinking otherwise.

9/10/2007 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


Let us not forget that asymmetrical warfare is carried out by the side that is too weak to confront the other directly. It appears that whoever wrote your list is trying to make asymmetrical tactics the superior. Bad idea.

The other side always has options. Terrorists and guerrillas can always attack soft and undefended targets. Iran has always had those capabilities. Nothing new here.

The mullahs surely realize that raising the stakes by disrupting oil flow is an end game proposition for them. Either the hidden dude comes out of the well and saves their asses or they are done and gone.

9/10/2007 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Tigerhawk - I know this is not necessarily your opinion but, I wonder how anyone can characterize Iran's activities in Lebanon and Gaza (support of Hamas) as defensive? How about blowing up a building in Argentina, supporting Hizbollah operatives in Venezuela, blowing up a housing complex in Saudi Arabia? None of these actions can be explained as an effort to defend itself. Indeed, such activities should only greatly increase the risk that are deemed a menace that must be crushed.

I don't think there is any doubt that their goals are expansionist. They have taken huge risks (including attacking and killing the troops of the most powerful nation on earth by proxy) that only make sense if their goal is expansionist.

9/10/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Kevin --

What will Iran do if we hit back at them? Sink the Navy? They tried that and were destroyed in the late 80's. Their subs have many well-known weaknesses, they don't train with them, and guerilla tactics DON'T WORK AT SEA.

In all cases you counsel surrender and weakness in response for Iran's aggression. It is pathetic.

Yes MAD is dead -- who will we nuke out of existence if we lose cities to an unknown or non-state actor? We don't even have the cross-party will to nuke in response to attacks -- see Obama's "hug responders" and ruling out (as did Hillary) of nuclear weapons.

Linebacker WAS successful -- the only problem was that too many places were off-limits. Reduce Iran to no brick upon another and Iran's ability to project power vanishes. Other options are such as sponsoring separatist movements (terror against terror for payback) or blockades or simply attacking the power lines/generators can produce plenty of pain and Iranian submission.

Iran has been attacking us since 1979 -- we are defacto in a state of war with them. Of course the Moveon and Code Pink (which is really, the Democratic Party) wishes to surrender rather than fight. They believe in much of the same things bin Laden does -- they read the same people (Chomsky) and say the same things and convict the US of "crimes against humanity" for existing.

You counsel defeat and surrender rather than victory. You don't think America can achieve victory over Iran (a weak state and dangerous because it is weak) which itself is compelling evidence.

9/10/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Posted elsewhere in January 2007, no less relevant today; an interesting perspective.

For the Indian general Vinod Saighal, President Ahmadinejad’s provocations will not succeed in dissuading the United States to destroy Iran. The war is programmed in Washington, to conquer oil fields, to strengthen Bush presidency and to satisfy Israel at the same time. Nothing can stop it, and Teheran is wrong to believe in its friends’ protection, whether they are Muslims, Russians or Chineses. In such circumstances, the wisdom would be the discretion.

Long after the Americans would have left Iraq, and long after world would have discovered alternate energy sources, and well after the hydrocarbon reserves of the Middle East would have been depleted, the consequences of the US intervention in Iraq in March 2003 will continue to haunt the region. The Sykes-Picot agreements of an earlier period shaped the post-World War I history and geography of the Middle East. Its effects continue to linger to this day. In like fashion the effects of the US policies in the region in the first decade of the 21st Century are likely to be felt till the end of the century. The turmoil in Iraq will spill over to engulf the Arab world from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. There is a tendency to focus on the immediate consequences of a cataclysmic event, whereas the long-term effects can often assume a configuration scarcely imagined at the birth of the climactic.

And so it is with Iraq 2006. It has sucked in Iran, Israel and the USA into the quagmire that was created in a manner that each of these countries will find it difficult to bring about major changes in their national and regional policies without affecting the other countries. With the ground offensive by the United States to displace the regime in Iran no longer being a feasible proposition, given the US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, air strikes seem to have become the other viable alternative.

It has been said that an air attack by Israeli or US forces involving the systematic destruction of research, development, support and training centres for nuclear and missile programmes and other military facilities would set back Iran’s nuclear programme by several years. A US attack would also involve comprehensive destruction of Iranian retaliatory capabilities. Most analysts believe that Iran would retaliate in a big way with whatever means that it could muster to cause maximum damage to US interests and major disruption to Middle Eastern oil supplies.

Geo-Strategic Churning Has the United States declared a new cold war on Russia is the question that is being asked by Russian politicians and analysts after hearing about the scathing anti-Russian speech that the U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney made recently at a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania? Washington’s change of heart towards Russia since the initial bonhomie between Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin during their first meeting six years ago might have been provoked to an extent by Moscow’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. Moscow has defied Washington on Iran, rejecting its call for sanctions against Teheran, going ahead with the construction of Iran’s first nuclear power station, and refusing to back down on a $700-million deal to sell anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.

With the soaring global demand for oil and gas, Russia is boldly using energy resources as a political weapon to tighten its grip on former Soviet states and win a bigger foothold in European energy markets, firmly rejecting the West’s demand to relinquish government monopoly on energy transit pipelines and open its energy resources to foreign companies. Keeping Iran in its fold would be a key Russian endeavour. Russia has reportedly finalized a US $700 million deal to sell Tor M1 air defense missiles systems to Iran.

Although the Bush administration has not been overly critical of the missile sale, it would have been taken note of by the Pentagon planners and the US CENTCOM. Notwithstanding international pressure over their nuclear programme the Iranians have shown increasing bellicosity – almost entirely verbal - against Israel and the US. Although both China and Russia have kept their options open while the US inexorably prepares for the final showdown with Iran, it is the Russians who are involved in a complex double game. Undoubtedly, the deployment of the Tor M1 air defense missiles system will considerably enhance the defensibility of Iranian nuclear facilities.

The transportation of the Caspian Basin oil resources to the United States, Israel and Western European markets was clearly aimed to reduce dependence on OPEC oil producers in the Middle East. Because the region is sandwiched between two of the world’s major energy providers – OPEC Iran and non-OPEC Russia – and the fact that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline passes through regions of heightened political instability have led to broader U.S. military presence in the region. This, in turn, has increased the sense of vulnerability in both Iran and Russia. Washington’s policies have met with criticism on the ground that they have encouraged polarization of regional politics.

The growing U.S. engagement in the Caspian region and the geo-political importance attributed to the Baku-Ceyhan project has led to a rapprochement between Russia, Iran and Armenia; solidifying at the same time a strategic alliance among Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and the United States. For the latter the question was less about the commercial viability of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route. The idea was to make an east-west transport corridor, which in the future could be expanded to include rail lines, communication networks and highways, leading over a period of time to the connection of the economies of some of the former Soviet Republics in the south with the markets of the world. Because the Baku-Ceyhan project from Washington’s perspective was a matter of greater geo-strategic significance rather than an economic one Turkey benefited at the cost of Iran, despite the fact that Iran offered the shortest and cheapest route to global markets for oil from the Caspian republics.

Before the US invasion of Iraq, Iran’s ambitions in the Gulf were kept in check by the surrounding Arab countries. Now Tehran and Washington remain the only real players, because Iraq has ceased to be the traditional counter-balance to Iran. Axiomatically, the Arab countries feel obliged to place greater reliance on the West. They fear that in rejecting the West, Iran could be gaining the admiration of many countries that are against American policies. In addition to the Shia communities of the Middle East, Iran could start enjoying the sympathy of the common people in Arab countries, on account of its defiance of the US and its western allies. The Iranian leadership continues to adhere to Ayatollah Khomeini’s legacy of supremacy of the Shiite priesthood through the exercise of power - velayat-e-mutlaqhe faqih - and to the strongly anti-American and anti-Israel line. Khomeini had spoken – perhaps presciently - about the inevitability of a confrontation between the West and Islam.

The American military presence in the region could affect, if it has not already done so, the safety of future energy supply routes. It has also brought in a new element into the power projection calculus: from Afghanistan into Central Asia and from Caucasus into the northern Middle East. Iran remains the country in the region that in Washington’s perception has the maximum potential for the spread of radical Islam and nuclear armaments . It is for this reason that in spite of the growing pressure from U.S. oil companies earlier on to lift the embargo upon Tehran, which wants to be the main export corridor for Central Asian oil and gas, the U.S. administration showed reluctance to soften its stance towards any Iranian role in the region. The construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline for oil exports from Azerbaijan and Central Asia was aimed mainly at excluding Iran and at making Turkey a major actor in the region.

Tehran is worried that a prosperous, independent Azerbaijan would be an unwelcome role model for the large Azeri community in Iran. The conflict over the legal status of the Caspian, and the fact that Iran joined Russia in support of Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh are also reasons for the breakdown in relations. Consequently Iran failed to secure a share of Azerbaijan’s oil. It helped Turkey’s campaign to build the connecting line from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan. Moscow and Tehran seem to have forged a strategic alliance to resist the perceived American hegemony in the Caspian.

Russia’s huge military sales to Iran are part of the growing military and strategic cooperation between the two countries. Both Iran and the USA have painted themselves into a corner. The common ground that could have been the basis of negotiation is fast disappearing. The irreconcilables are increasingly coming to the fore. Personalities of the key decision- makers in both nations have a lot to do in exacerbating the differences. President Ahmadinejad - albeit he can be overruled by the supreme leader Ayatollah Khameni, the velayat-i-faqih - has nevertheless displayed a tendency to raise the rhetoric to near fever pitch. Whether he was misreported, or whether his statements were distorted in translation, the fact remains that he had called for the annihilation of Israel. Although his letter to President George W. Bush is an interesting call for introspection, and could be construed by some as a serious attempt at narrowing the differences, it does not offer the type of concrete proposals that the US government could bite on. Taken together his statements suggest that he is deliberately going from one provocation to the next, often making exaggerated claims of Iranian capabilities.

Then again, he could be trying to strengthen his own position as the unchallenged future leader of Iran or attempting to project an Iranian fait accompli in the nuclear domain. A third possibility could be that the Iranian president is actually spoiling for a fight by goading the Americans and the Israelis into attacking Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad would certainly not be unaware that in an outright military exchange Iran would be easily worsted and it’s nuclear and war-fighting capabilities put back by several years, if not decades. President Ahmadinejad might be willing to accept a major reverse for Iran with the hope that in the process he would not only be able to unify all Iranians behind him, but that he would also emerge as the undisputed leader of the Muslim world in its fight against America. He would thereby have supplanted the tall Arab leaders before him – all Sunnis - who were seeking to don the mantle of leadership of the entire Arab world, notably leaders like Gemal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein. To a considerable extent, Baghdad is already under Iranian influence although the Iranians would be hesitant to prematurely disclose their hand by openly calling the shots. With the possibility of the Iraqi capital Baghdad soon falling into their lap, the Iranians, and specially Mr. Ahmadinejad could be dreaming of establishing a moral ascendancy over all Muslims by re-establishing the grand Caliphate of Baghdad, in the manner of Haroun al Rashid of the days of yore. Thereafter, it would only be a matter of time before Mecca too fell into their lap. A grand strategy or a grand illusion! Only time will tell.

On the other side of the Iran – US divide, at the helm of affairs stands George W. Bush. The Iranians have clearly miscalculated by underestimating the US President and the forces that brought him to the White House in January 2001 and for the second time in January 2005. In pushing the crisis to the point of eruption in 2006 they would have clearly been influenced by the perceived US setbacks in Iraq and the increasing difficulties in the face of the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, the US tiger may have been mauled to an extent in Iraq in so far as they have not been able to consolidate their gains in the country. However, as mentioned at another forum in November 2005 , the American failures have been exaggerated by opponents of the US President. As a matter of fact, taking the longer-term view of their geo-strategic enterprise in the Middle East, the Americans may have succeeded admirably in some respects. At the very least, the principal backers of the second invasion of Iraq in March 2003 have benefited handsomely from the venture and may continue to do so for a long time to come.

In earlier writings it had been mentioned that the US invasion of Iraq had been decided soon after George W. Bush’s occupation of the White House. At about the same time Iran was included in the countries forming the ‘axis of evil’. Iran had to be taken out then. Iran will in all probability be taken out. The US was looking for a plausible casus belli. The Iranians have given one, almost on a platter, to George W. Bush. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his backers would be making a grave mistake in presuming that the low rating of the US President will force him to change course. The US President and his team, notably the Vice President, Dick Cheney and the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld have been accused of messing up the intervention in Iraq. They are said to have won the war, only to lose the peace. Their opponents have read the US presidential hierarchy wrong.

George W. Bush is not a quitter. He has already spoken about World War III and the long drawn out war on global terrorism. Before his second term comes to a close George W.Bush will knock out Iran. Unless there is a political earthquake in the US at the end of the year the US attack on Iran is a near certainty. This time round George W. Bush and his team aim to get it right. They would have learnt from the mistakes made in Iraq. This time round they aim to come out clear winners. The Iranian nation will be pulverized in the process, so that there is no doubt left in anyone’s mind about the outcome.

Against all the advice coming in from various directions, should the US President still decide to hit Iran his own party the Republicans as well as the Democrats will once again rally around him as they did after 9/11. So will the American nation. At that point in time the US President’s ratings could again go past the 50 percent approval mark. George W. Bush is aiming to quit the White House a winner. He can only salvage his diminished glory by a successful outcome in Iran. The Iranians must not give him that opportunity. For the sake of the survival of the nation the Iranian leaders must back down in the face of the US determination to not let them get away with overt or covert nuclearisation.

Backing down is not too steep a price to pay at this point in Iranian history, more so after the mortal blow that has been dealt to the Babylonian civilization of which they too were a part in historical times. The Iranian civilization is a precious heritage of mankind. It is up to the Iranian leadership to save it from the brute force that can be unleashed against them by the US hegemons. Iran’s well wishers must advise the Iranian leadership accordingly. China and Russia would be doing their friend of the day Iran a great disservice if they were to artificially boost Iran’s self-confidence and if they do not join the US led clamor for Iran to terminate its nuclear capability. Iran does not have the type of friends who can stand up to the Americans and the West in a military showdown. Encouraging Iranian intractability at this point in time would be extremely unwise.
Israel no longer has the overwhelming military superiority over its neighbours as it did at the height of the cold war and possibly up to the turn of the century. It no longer has the capacity to act individually against a country the size of Iran. Leaving aside the nuclear equation Iran would be able to give back as good as it gets, in one form or another. In fact, while Ahmadinejad has been raising the decibel level against Israel, the latter has been uncharacteristically restrained in its rhetoric. Iran now has a much greater influence on both flanks of Israel, through Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. This influence is bound to grow and could lead to a larger inflow of sophisticated weaponry for the enemies of Israel. With increasing oil revenues Iran would wish to bolster Syria’s military capability as well. Meanwhile, the Israeli planning for the neutralisation of the Iranian capability would be proceeding apace, silently but surely. Although the Americans have a much better intelligence capability against Iran than they had before, Israeli help in this regard would be critical. Israel has had enough time to strengthen the Kurdish militias in northern Iraq as also their intelligence capabilities in Iran, especially in the northwest. At the end of the day Israel knows that if Iran has to be dealt with, the sooner the action takes place the better for Israel. Time, in this regard, were action to be postponed, would be on the side of the Iranians and not Israel. Therefore, should military action against Iran take place during George W. Bush’s watch, Israel would have had a big hand in that decision.

Concluding remarks

In spite of the welter of opinions expressed about the options available to both sides the Iranians may be making a mistake by pushing the US to take the extreme step. Should the Americans decide to hit Iran, they would go for a knockout blow. It would not be a question of pushing the Iranian nuclear programme back by several years. The Americans, should they decide to go all out, have the technological means to finish Iran as a civilized nation for decades to come. Sabre-rattling by the Iranian President – actually designed to deter the US from attacking by highlighting Iran’s retaliatory potential – will only ensure that the Americans do go all out. There will be no holds barred. Neither the arms deals with the Russians nor any clandestine help extended by the Chinese would be able to save the Iranians. The Arabs or the Sunni Muslim nations are not going to lose any sleep should Iran go under, really go under. The Iranians would be well advised to back down. Ten or twenty years down the line it would not make very much of a difference to successor Iranian regimes whether they got the nuclear weapons capability or not. The world itself would have changed beyond recognition, wracked by environmental cataclysms whose effects though staring humanity in the face are not yet being addressed with the urgency that they deserve. It is still dog eats dog, each nation for itself, till the time that the planetary decline becomes irreversible.

At this juncture in its troubled history Iran needs a Khatami and not an Ahmedinejad at its head to lead it out of the confrontation with the US and its Western allies. The latter have infinite resources compared to Iran and the support – tacit or collusive - of several countries. Iran is virtually friendless. When the chips are down nobody is going to come to its aid. At this point in time, discretion for the Iranians is definitely the better part of valour.

General Vinod Saighal Major-General Vinod Saighal is a former general director of the Indian army’s military training. He was an embassy military attaché in France and Benelux, and commander-in-chief of the peacekeeping forces in the Near East. Today he is the founder of the Movement for Restoration of Good Government (MRGG) and head of Eco Monitors Society (EMS). He is the author of numerous works on strategy and political analysis, and has recently published Dealing with Global Terrorism: The Way Forward. He is member of the anti-imperialist conference Axis for Peace.

9/10/2007 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Elijah -- thansk for posting Gen Sighal's ruminations.

WWII offered two models -- invade & fight your way to Berlin, or bomb them so hard & so long that eventually Tokyo throws in the towel without being invaded. Both worked.

As the General indicates, the smart thing for the US to do with Iran would be to use the Japanese option. Nukes don't kill people, madmen with nukes kill people. It is more important to eliminate the regime than the weapons development sites. And that can be done from afar -- no Russian-supplied air defence system can stop an incoming ICBM.

All this points to the huge cost the human race will have to pay for the stupidity of today's Congressional Democrats. Even if their intentions are good, those people are going to have more blood on their hands than Stalin.

By raising the hope that the US will unilaterally cut & run, those Congressional Democrats are working against the internal forces promoting realism in Iran. Democrat weakness feeds Iranian bragadoccio -- and will eventually lead to the needless deaths of many Iranians. Tragic.

9/10/2007 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Darryl said...

How does the fact that Iranian operatives are killing American Soldiers and Marines in Iraq effect the equation?

9/10/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

How will minorities, who comprise nearly half the population, be kept within the Iranian successor state? Will Iran break up and collapse into civil war if the existing regime is overthrown?

That is really the scenario I would hope events will follow, for Iraq, for Iran, for Turkey, for Syria, for Jordan, for Egypt, Sudan, Saudia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. That is the only way to untangle the whole Jihadi ethnic cultural mess, and start to be rid of it.

9/10/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Iran's actions in Iraq have met the definition of Act of War against the US, Coalition and Iraqi National forces.

For this reason alone, even without the threat of impending nuke development, Iran is due absolute and total destruction.

Tolerance of such acts and/or actions by any foreign body invites constant and continual acts and actions of the same kind from any foreign body.

The only traditional, legal and rational answer to the problem that Iran has chosen to make of itself is for Iran to be destroyed and remade into something of our choosing.

Some say that there are decent folk in Iran, and for that reason, we should go gently. Bullcrap. There are always decent folk in any belligerent nation. That is never an excuse to allow the belligerence to pass unpunished.

The proper, traditional and customary treatment is to crush the belligerent nation and stomp on it's neck until its spine is snapped and the will to fight is bled out.

Ask the Germans and the Japanese how effective such applications are.

9/10/2007 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Iran's oil output (i.e. its main source of income) is declining.

They will have zero net income from oil in 4 to 5 years.

The question is can we hold them for that long?

9/10/2007 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Hmm Gen Sighal is a bit out there. Destroying Iran as a civilized nation? How on earth would that happen? Is he implying that we're going to nuke them? I do think that a war would rapidly escalate into strategic bombing of civilian targets, but that's not civilization- ending.

Looking at alternatives to bombing Iran, it seems to me that the only one is to do nothing at all. Fooling with international organizations or sanctions without force amount to the same thing. Let's look at it.

OK, so no bombing. What happens? Does Iran use the nukes? What are the consequences of merely possessing them? Are they worse than the unknown consequences of a war with Iran?

Let's look at that really hard.

MAD could work again. It was possible for Russia or China to smuggle a nuke into the US (Robert A Heinlein wrote a short story about that back in 1947). They didn't.

Why should Iran be different? Would it really be that hard to figure out who nuked us? If it was, wouldn't we simply retaliate against Iran anyway, in the same way that the PRC was a target of the SIOP until the 1970s? That's a hell of a deterrant, maybe enough to get them to rethink the whole thing.

If the entire US leadership is decapitated in a nuclear attack (pretty likely) then the military may very well simply destroy all likely culprits. NK, Iran, maybe Pakistan. Syria? I don't know. Why be on that list?

Look, if we get nuked does anyone think we'll hesitate at all in destroying Iran? Whether they did it or not? Don't they know that? Maybe we should tell them?

Nukes seem unfathomable right now, but so was invading middle eastern countries. A nuclear attack will utterly change US foreign policy forever, and the reaction of the public will be beyond the current bounds of political debate. I doubt that there will be many tears shed for the Iranians if we have hundreds of thousands of incinerated, blinded, burned and fatally radiated citizens.

It seems to me that the unknowns inherant in a new war are great, and there's no guarantee that we'll win. Bombing does not compell surrender the way that an invasion does. We might have to bomb them for a long time. If something is left up to the enemy, then you can't predict what they'll do. Surrendering will be up to them.

And if bombing fails, do we escalate to an invasion? Some sort of limited attack is possible, even if we d not occupy the whole country. The whole thing could rapidly get out of hand.

It will also kill a lot of people who don't need to die. Given the record of strategic bombing this last century there isn't much hope that it will succeed in its objectives. It tends to escalate. Let's look at the worst case really hard, and assess how likely it is, before dropping the bombs.

9/10/2007 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

The US Navy is working on a serious energy alternative:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

It has been funded:

Bussard Reactor Funded

I have inside info that is very reliable and multiply confirmed that validates the above story. I am not at liberty to say more. Expect a public announcement from the Navy in the coming weeks.

The above reactor can burn Deuterium which is very abundant and produces lots of neutrons or it can burn a mixture of Hydrogen and Boron 11 which does not

The implication of it is that we will know in 6 to 9 months if the small reactors of that design are feasible.

If they are we could have fusion plants generating electricity in 10 years or less depending on how much we want to spend to compress the time frame.

BTW Bussard is not the only thing going on in IEC. There are a few government programs at the University of Wisconsin and at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana among others.

If this works out the oil producers will become just another bunch of minor mineral exporting nations.

I see a Manhattan project in our future.

If the Bussard Reactor works it could be copied in less than 4 years. With or without the plans.

9/10/2007 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

M. Simon said...

"The US Navy is working on a serious energy alternative: Bussard Fusion Reactor ... It has been funded"

I'm glad that it has been funded. However I'm skeptical that it'll work. R.W. Bussard is one of the brightest guys who ever lived. However he's quite elderly (79 years old). Many guys in the same league as Bussard have wasted their careers on nuclear fusion with very little to show for their efforts. Flip through the pages of "Physics of Fluids" from the 1970-1980s and you'll find reams of reports concerning fusion concepts that didn't work. The ITER project in particular is a momument to failed dreams.

Hoping for sucess......

9/10/2007 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Speller said...

>John Lynch
"It was possible for Russia or China to smuggle a nuke into the US. They didn't.

Why should Iran be different?"

Perhaps you aren't a man of religious convictions, Mr. Lynch?

Communists are materialists.
This world, this life, is all there is for them. They do not believe there is a God who will intervene in their total destruction.

The Iranians are Muslims.
Not only do their leaders believe that if they die they will go straight to heaven as martyrs, they can even believe Allah may intervene on their behalf for acting out of faith.

This difference is crucial.
It is also a difference that the irreligious cannot fathom or factor into their decision making or the decision making of others.

9/11/2007 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Zalotocky said...

I doubt that Iran is currently in a pre-revolutionary situation because the regime still retains a strong core of fanatical supporters, in the form of the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards, who will fight to the death to defend it.

This means that any popular uprising is certain to be a bloodbath, and is unlikely to succeed without the backing of the regular army. The Iranian people must know that, so it's unlikely that they would be willing to take that risk unless they were really desperate.

So what would make them desperate enough?

Firstly, the kind of remorseless bombing of civilian targets described by John Lynch above. But that is almost certainly politically impossible. It is very unlikely that the American public would accept anything that was brutal enough to be effective.

Secondly, the threat of annihilation, e.g. the imminent threat of nuclear war with Israel. But that kind of threat is unlikely to emerge unless Iran gets nukes and prepares to use them.

Thirdly, economic collapse. The regime is spending a fortune on the nuclear programme, weapons to defend the nuclear programme, Hezbollah, Hamas, and its proxies in Iraq. The rumoured Iranian purchase of 250 SU-30s suggests a regime that is acutely aware of the vulnerability of its nuclear facilities and is desperate to secure them at any cost.

Therefore one strategy for the US would be to pressure the Iranian government into bleeding its own economy dry. Make them believe that they have to spend everything they have on underground facilities and air defences, until something breaks. If the Russians cease to believe that they will ever be paid, the nuclear programme comes to a halt. If the regime stops supplying the public with heavily-subsidised gasoline the economy comes to a halt. The people might then be desperate enough to revolt, even if it starts spontaneously with angry protests escalating into riots rather than any general sentiment that the government must be overthrown. Regime loyalists fire on rioters, rioters fight back, and suddenly the Rubicon has been crossed.

The behaviour of the Bush administration to date would seem to be consistent with that approach. Talking up the possibility of military action is a way to pile on the pressure. There would also be a historical parallel, in the way that Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative exploited the economic weakness of the Soviet Union by threatening it with an arms race it couldn't afford to compete in.

Does any of that sound plausible?

9/11/2007 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

A tipping point - when Ayatollah Khameni claimed Iran would readily share its nuclear secrets with unstable regimes like Sudan.

Think about that.

The discreet charm of US diplomacy
By Spengler

France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, probably deserves the credit for the first serious setback to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Hashemi Rafsanjani, Adhmadinejad's opponent in the 2006 presidential elections, was chosen last Tuesday to head the country's Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that supervises Iran's "supreme leader", currently Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

This event does not interrupt Tehran's supposed efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, but it places a more accommodative figure at the center of Iranian politics. European foreign ministries believe that Rafsanjani offers the last hope to avoid the use of force to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Only a week earlier, Sarkozy brought French policy into alignment with the United States, warning, "Iran with a nuclear weapon is not acceptable to me. I want to underline France's total determination on the current plan linked to increasing sanctions, but also being open to talks if Iran chooses to respect its obligations. This initiative is the only one that can allow us to escape an alternative that I can only call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

America's miserable performance in Iraq should not obscure the success of Washington's efforts to align the West against Tehran. Sarkozy has shifted French policy in a way that leaves Iran no wiggle room. Although Berlin has been very quiet in recent months, Rafsanjani's main ties to the West run through Germany, and it can be assumed that US President George W Bush is working closely with Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as with Sarkozy.

It seems quite probable that the prospect of a West united in its resolve to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and resigned to enforcing this by military means, shifted the balance within Iran's clerical assembly to the former president. To be sure, Rafsanjani's return to a position of influence, if not yet power, embarrasses Ahmadinejad but does not yet restrain him.

On the contrary, the volatile Iranian leader warned on Saturday that countries that oppose his nuclear program are "racing to hell". But the possibility of a negotiated solution cannot be excluded. Even messianic megalomaniacs take notice when they run head-first into a brick wall. Historians believe that the German General Staff would have removed Adolf Hitler from power in 1938 had Britain and France refused to give him the Sudetenland.

I have long predicted that nothing short of violence would dissuade Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal, and that the West eventually will use force. This remains the most likely outcome. Apart from Sarkozy's shift toward the US stance, several events during the past week suggest that matters are coming to a head.

1. Israeli warplanes appear to have tested Syrian air defenses in a brief incursion into Syrian airspace last week. The Turkish press has published photos of fuel tanks supposedly jettisoned by Israeli planes, and asked Jerusalem for an explanation. News accounts suggest that the incursion might have involved a dry run for an overflight of Syria en route to Iran.

2. Russian air-defense technology employed by Syria failed to stop the Israeli intruders, according to the Israeli-intelligence-linked site ("world renowned for being full of crap" perhaps, i wonder if reports about 3 U.S. aircraft carriers in region are accurate?; and what about that Trans-Arabian pipeline?), indicating the vulnerability of Syria and Iran to an Israeli air attack. The Russians have sold sophisticated systems to Tehran, to be sure, but the Iranians are in no position to verify independently their functionality.

3. Israeli leaders are warning of a military strike against Iran, eg, former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit, who warned on Thursday that nothing but military force would stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

4. Washington has withdrawn its confidence from Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after ElBaradei said it was too late to ask Iran to stop uranium enrichment (which is precisely what the US demands that it do).

Iran is dying a slow demographic death, I have shown in earlier essays, and the rapid exhaustion of its oil-exporting capacity threatens to plunge the country into profound crisis during the next five years. That is why I believe that Iran will roll the dice on nuclear-arms acquisition, choosing flight forward rather than surrender to Western demands. If a united West (with at least the tacit support of Russia) puts a knife to Tehran's throat, however, it is still possible that someone like Rafsanjani might emerge as Iran's Mikhail Gorbachev, and give up the country's nuclear ambitions.

As I wrote on May 30:
Broadly speaking, the choices are two. In the most benign scenario, Iran's clerical establishment will emulate the Soviet Union of 1987, when then-prime minister Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged that communism had led Russia to the brink of ruin in the face of vibrant economic growth among the United States and its allies. Russia no longer had the resources to sustain an arms race with the US, and broke down under the pressure of America's military buildup.

The second choice is an imperial adventure. In fact, Iran is engaged in such an adventure, funding and arming Shi'ite allies from Basra to Beirut, and creating clients selectively among such Sunnis as Hamas in Palestine.
Very few analysts predict war because they like the idea of war (the prophet Jonah, who was sent to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh, was one of the exceptions). The chances of avoiding war with Iran are slim. It is evident from the past week's developments, though, that a West united around US leadership has a far greater chance of enforcing a peaceful solution than a gang of European spoilers.

9/11/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

We might want to look at Big Lizards archive, particularly the "Herman option".

The Mullahs are rational, but they do not view the world through anything like a Western perspective. The muscle that keeps them in power is composed of people who are also ideologically motivated and (i believe) they aren't Iranian themselves. They will have no compunctions in slaughtering as many Iranians as keeping the Mullahcracy going requires.

9/11/2007 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

andrew zalotocky, I think what you said is plausible. In fact, I think that is what the administration is doing - letting them spend beyond their means to support their proxies, while occasionally culling their proxy's supplies and forcing Iran to rearm them (last summer's war in Lebanon as an example, or the reported air strike in Syria as another). I think the problem with this is that it is too passive - it is what you do with a power you cannot confront militarily (like the USSR). It requires your opponent to overreach without realizing it - so they can become vulnerable. That may be very unlikely to happen with Iran at a time of high oil prices. It also cedes all initiative to Iran. We do not have many years for this to work. They could have nukes in a couple of years.

What would help would be to pair it with an aggressive sabotage effort.

9/11/2007 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Three points:

1. Air attacks would be continuous over six months or more, and would be devastating to many military facilities before the nuclear facilities would be taken out. Collateral casualties would be large because of the co-location with civilian population centers. In this period, better and better intelligence would be gathered on targets.

2. The Iranian reaction would be to attack the US both at home and around the world where they could.

3. These Iranian attacks would inflame the US population to demand terrible destruction in Iran, regardless of the fact that we hit first. The target list would be extended further, preparation for an invasion would be started, and a draft would be proposed.

I still guess that February, 08, is the date. Hang me for a hawk, but this is what I see from my vantage point.

9/11/2007 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Hope Muntz said...

Congratulations Kevin: the term 'likudnik Neo-Con' was first coined by none other than... And Elijah: the only writer more often dead wrong than DebkaFile about events in the Middle East is none other than...'Spengler' in the AsiaTimes. You two must think no one else knows how to read.

As for administration objectives in bombing Iran--a policy all but inevitable for any future US administration, Republican or Democrat, I think we'll end up with the same ones we had in Yugoslavia and Iraq for over a decade prior to the invasion--to render the country helpless through a relentless degreadation of assets through airpower. Despite all dire predictions, this worked in both cases, afforded protection to breakaway minorities and enforced peace with their neighbors--as well as denying them the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Sounds good to me!

Yet I can't help but notice that no one has pointed this out. Maybe because they were both so successful. And the real war seems to be here at home--at least the one worth blogging about.

9/13/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

"You two must think no one else knows how to read."

"I think we'll end up with the same ones we had in Yugoslavia and Iraq for over a decade prior to the invasion--to render the country helpless through a relentless degreadation of assets through airpower."

Pot, meet kettle.

The approach you describe - EBO

see John Robb

Effcts Based Operations

Do you think know one else knows how to read?

btw, you're a cutie

9/13/2007 10:21:00 PM  

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