Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ir** vs Ir**

Robert Burns at the Associated Press reports that the US has provided the Iraqi government with a report of the extent of Iranian subversion. In cases where secret briefings are publicly announced the news is the announcement, not the briefing. The ballyhoo is normally intended to send a signal to a third party, or to prepare the public for further action.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraqi leaders have been given the latest U.S. evidence of Iranian support for militias inside Iraq, and Baghdad will decide what to do about it, two senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler, director of strategy, plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki possesses the evidence, which other officials said contradicts Tehran's stated commitment to stop providing arms, weapons technology and training to Shiite militias inside Iraq.

"It's in Prime Minister al-Maliki's hands right now, the evidence as to whether or not he's been lied to — bald-faced lied to — by the Iranian government," Sattler told a Pentagon news conference.

"The evidence inside Baghdad has been shared with the Iraqi leadership, and that's where it stands right now," he added.

The US has been complaining about Iranian subversion for some time now. What's different this time is an implied attempt to get Iraq to explicitly denounce Teheran. In trying to get Baghdad to nail its colors to the mast, the US is building pieces of a coalition against Teheran.

The role of the Iraqis, especially the Shi'ites, against Iran is probably going to be confined to pressure on Iranian cells within its borders. CPT Justin Gorkowski at the Small Wars Journal explains how the major Iraqi contribution to the war has been non-kinetic: intelligence, policing, stabilization and information operations. These are the millstones which ultimately grind out underground cells.

But the US will continue to hold the threat of direct action against Iran, whether or not it will actually be used. This will be used to keep Teheran guessing. The AP story continues:

The U.S. briefly had two Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf this week — a move that Gates said Tuesday could be seen as a "reminder" to Iran. The Pentagon has routinely said that moving ships to the Gulf is a way of showing countries there that the U.S. remains committed to the region.

And besides, who knows?




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13 Comments:

Blogger Teresita said...

The U.S. briefly had two Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf this week — a move that Gates said Tuesday could be seen as a "reminder" to Iran. The Pentagon has routinely said that moving ships to the Gulf is a way of showing countries there that the U.S. remains committed to the region.

Typically, there is an overlap of two or three weeks when one carrier battlegroup is relieved by another one. Right now there are ongoing combat operations at Basra, involving air support, which requires the carrier being relieved to perform her passdown inside the Gulf. Normally the birdfarms steam around in circles in the North Arabian Sea near the island of al-Masirah, Oman, which receives cargo by air.

4/30/2008 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

It might be that Iran chooses to attack a carrier group. They might even sink a carrier. They're not invulnerable. Particularly in the confined space of the Gulf, modern missiles and quiet subs and swarming/disengage/swarming again speedboats. Ala Alexander marching his Army to the Indus every day at noon for two weeks. Until he attacked.

It could be that Iran would figure sinking a US Carrier would cause us to withdraw. Given their past success in using truck bombs to blow up soldiers/marines and chase America out of places.

4/30/2008 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

A carrier on deployment has about 5000 men and women. If Iran sinks one, it would be an act as deadly as Pearl Harbor and 9-11 combined. If Iran sinks one without a declaration of war it would be a day of infamy. The US went to war with Spain over the destruction of the USS Mainewhich cost only 266 lives. No President would withdraw from such a provocation without invoking an immediate impeachment hearing, followed by conviction in the Senate.

4/30/2008 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Maybe, and maybe not. Certainly Iran has no reason to think that.

Iran has gotten away with: invading our Embassy, holding our diplomats hostage, torturing them, threatening them with execution, and for their troubles receiving a payoff in the billions.

Bombing the US Embassy and Marine barracks chased the US out of Lebanon. Iran was rewarded with Reagan begging for help with other hostages.

Bombing Khobar Towers resulted in Clinton blocking indictment of Iran and apologizing to Iran.

Killing our troops in Iraq directly by Iranian forces inside Iraq is an act of war. Which has resulted in ... Obama's desire to hug Ahmadinejad.

At no time have four separate acts of war resulted in anything but abject appeasement by the US.

So Iran has every reason to think such an act would simply repeat what has been their experience since 1979. Making such an attack likely.

Japan thought simply crippling the US at Pearl Harbor would cause "negotiations" keeping the US to the Eastern Pacific, possibly even ceding Hawaii. They had solid reasons to think so. Including the Peace Movement of the time.

Under a Democratic Administration, any such sinking of an Aircraft Carrier would probably result in nothing less than complete withdrawal from the Gulf. With an apology to Iran. Dems have ruled out any and all military action whatsoever. That's what happens when Code Pink, Moveon, ANSWER control the Party as Hillary noted. Moveon opposed even Afghanistan and they control the Party.

4/30/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger putnam said...

I don't think the overlapping aircraft carriers are relevant to Iraq confronting Iran.

I think all would agree that it takes time to build a democracy, and the approach has to be gently, gently.

Pushing too hard for Maliki to confront Iran might be counterproductive. Far better to present the case and let the Iraqi's handle the nature and timing of it.

Well done Petreaus.

5/01/2008 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I don't think it's gently gently as much as it is a measured step-by-step leadup to nuking Iran the day after the elections next November. There will be a steady drip-drip-drip of information pointing to what unholy bad guys the Persians are up until then. The news about how close Syria was to producing their own nukes is part of that drip-drip-drip in a "see what we avoided - whew!" sort of way.

The thing I'm not understanding, though, is why Iraq and its leaders are so close to Iran right now, seemingly refusing to let go of their embrace. These are two countries which have been killing each other with great glee for decades now. I can see why Sadr keeps skittering back there for solace and solitude but what on earth does Maliki see in them that he refuses to lower the boom on them, and allows them to play their little back-stabbing games. Is Tehran where he's got his secret bank account to stash the money he skims off of American contracts?

5/01/2008 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Insight said...

Let us assume that Obama is the the Democrat nominee. I believe that if the Iranians hit a carrier or even a support ship in the Gulf the reaction from the DC political establishment will be 1) see Bush screwed up by taking down Saddam who was an "enemy" of Iran and 2) we should pull back and allow Iran to be a regional power in the Middle East with whom we deal with. If Iran then follows up with an appeal to lower oil prices for a bit then since we have not seen the face of Islamic purifiers for a while the pressure to pull the Navy out of the Gulf will be hard to resists especially if the Saudis support the Iranians. Middle East politics is driven by family clan and other local convoluted games. The ME conspiracy theories make our look like the stories kids make up.

5/01/2008 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"No President would withdraw from such a provocation without invoking an immediate impeachment hearing, followed by conviction in the Senate."

I absolutely personally guarantee that if Obama is president and the house is Dem, there will be no impeachment. Rather, there would be cheering and I-told-you-sos all around the Dem party. If the house was Repub and the senate was Dem, there may be impeachment with an acquittal, probably after a single-day trial.

The ONLY thing I could see getting the Dems exercised enough to actually fight would be if there were MULTIPLE attacks on domestic American soil, and then probably only if they all occurred in blue-state territory.

5/01/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger lurker said...

NahnCee said...

"The thing I'm not understanding, though, is why Iraq and its leaders are so close to Iran right now, seemingly refusing to let go of their embrace. These are two countries which have been killing each other with great glee for decades now."

perhaps you are forgetting the sunni/shia part of the equation. its true that an iraq politically dominated by sunnis (under sadam) fought with shia iran. meanwhile the shia opposition to sadam logically went to exile in iran (where they wouldnt be butchered). now sadam is gone and iraq, having a majority shia population, has elected shia leaders/parties in its government now that those leaders/parties have returned from exile in iran... hence the connection.

the trouble is of course the meddling americans... if they would just topple sadam and leave then iran could have its way... un fortunately for them we have other ideas.

The anology that comes to mind to represent the contest between iran and the US in iraq is the japanese game of shogi, where captured enemy pieces are returned into play as ally pieces.

this concept is lost on some posters here (ie. Coyotl).

note: unlike chess, which is often used as a metaphor for strategic contests, shogi is not of persian origin. ;)

@ Insight said...

"... especially if the Saudis support the Iranians [in becoming the dominant regional power]."

your scenario was plausible till you got to this part.

never gonna happen... never... not ever.

5/01/2008 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger lewy14 said...

I cannot resist the urge to be utterly and tediously pedantic.

Ir** vs Ir** would match "Irrr vs Irrrrrrr", etc, which cannot be what you meant.

Wretchard, I think you meant "Ira[nq] vs Ira[nq]".

Also, the "**" isn't portable anyway; classically it would be interpreted as two consecutive Kleene closures, where one would suffice.

In Java, the second '*' would modify the first to make it "possessive", also redundant semantically in the expression.

5/01/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Well, *that* comment brought absolutely nothing to the party.

Tell me, 14 (your age or your IQ?) -- if you were sitting around the pickle barrel with a bunch of real people at the old country store, would you have the nerve to say that out loud to them?

And if you did, do you think their reaction would be to take you by the ankles and jam you headfirst into said pickle barrel in response?

5/01/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

I find it hard to believe that some actually think that a Democratic president would back down if one of our vessels was sunk by a surprise attack by Iran. I know the Tonkin Gulf incident might make one think that a president might hesitate because of the past problems that cropped up. But if hundreds of Americans were lost and our president did nothing, that just might cause a march on Washington or worse. I can tell you this, even if it is a march of one, this navy veteran will be leading it. I’m torqued enough that Iran kills our soldiers and Marines and the factories that produce the weapons are still standing.

5/01/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

I regard this as a hard-cut overhand serve into Hakim's feet; "Who ya gonna support?" The Iraqi excuse-makers for Iran are being forced to take sides.

5/01/2008 08:11:00 PM  

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