Sunday, September 02, 2007

US strike on Iran in the works?

The drums keep getting pounded, the crescendo continues apace:
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. ...

One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.
(More than any other subject matter entertained, international politics focusing on the Middle East has me stumbling around in the dark. I offer a take that is more a display of my inclinations than an attempt at positive assertion.)

Britain and Russia are at odds over the high-profile poisoning of Litvinenko while the US and Russia are tense over missile shield equipment in neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic. More broadly, the West's advocation of Kosovo independence pits it against Russia as well. Meanwhile, much of Iran's conventional military is old Soviet in design, and much of the indigenous weaponry is part Russian-brainchild. China, busy doing business in Africa and selling military aircraft to Iran on the side, has no reason to antagonize Iran, either. The UN avenue will provide little more than an attempt at multilateralism that (of course) failed, forcing military action as a last resort. And so history will repeat itself.

Does the Iranian war machine threaten US vital interests? The Tosan, an agile lightweight tank and Iran's various surface-to-surface missiles could cause trouble in Iraq, but the threat of an attack on the US is absurd. It is difficult to see how a debilitating simultaneous set of strikes on Iranian military capabilities in place of broadly supported sanctions would deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Such an attack would boost the domestic popularity of Ahmadenijad and his conservative allies while making nuclear weapons seem more necessary than ever before.

Israel pledges to do the dirty work if the US will not:
Israel, which has warned it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, has made its own preparations for airstrikes and is said to be ready to attack if the Americans back down.
Despite a population one-tenth the size, Israel's military total military expenditures are almost the same Iran's are. Israel has four times as many battle tanks as Iran does, and they're in good repair. While the IDF's air force is cutting edge, much of what Iran's is purported to have has never seen combat. Israel would be able to clean house, with real(ly old) soft targets to hit, as opposed to the frustratingly modest effectiveness of the civilian shanty-town bombings directed at Hezbollah last summer. Oh, and Israel has nuclear weapons. Why, if someone just must attack Iran, should it not be Israel?

The Saudis have to be relieved to see us now playing the other side of the table so recklessly. We remove Shia Iran's primary antagonists, the Baathists, and hand the country over to their co-religionists. Saudi Arabia naturally becomes fearful of Shiite disturbances in its oil-rich eastern coast with a new Iranian-allied Iraq on the same doorstep, while Iraq's minority Sunnis get pummeled.

So the kingdom, forced into a corner, bites back in an uncharacteristically clear way, threatening to aid Sunni fighters in Iraq with cash and weapons and dilute Iranian oil earning power. How nice would it be for the US, or better still, Israel, to smash Iran? Weaken the encroacher and inflame the ever-useful hatred of the Jewish state/Zionist West among the hordes of idle young Saudi men?

Where is the Democratic party as this rhetorical build-up blazes on? On the sidelines, echoing the same platitudes about 'diplomacy first but all options remain on the table' that is coming from the President himself. Can't look soft on terror. Better to let the neocons blunder catastrophically yet again. It makes for easy political pickings afterwards.

Our involvement in the Middle East is set to get even more prodigious when it needs to be reduced as much as possible.


John said...

If Israel does this, it will just be a bombing raid. If America goes in though, there would be some kind of occupation, offering opportunity for nation-building, egalitarian, 'anti-racist' blundering on a mass scale. Can we trust this administration to even acknowledge that Iran will be an Islamic country regardless, and certainly for the lifetimes of current generations? Will they even admit that this means no possibilities of making an ideal society, or even a normal one, may be entertained on this timescale for such a nation?

Anonymous said...

The US has been about to invade/attack Iran for the last year or so. I'm not saying it won't happen and I wouldn't be surprised if it did, but this story has been batted around for a while.
Invading/attacking Iran is probably a bad idea, but for personal reasons, I would be very happy if the US launched an assault. If Israel does so, then fine by me to. In my opinion, Iran richly deserves it.

Gary said...

If we are foolish enough to get further involved in the ME, specifically acting against Iran, there will be consequences close to home.

Contrary to what Bush says, for example, Mexico is not our "friend." In fact, you can bet that Mexico will side against us in the UN, and far from de-fanging the Iranians, a strike against them makes it practically a given that we will see terrorist activities on our own soil, launched from bases in Mexico. The drug cartels and the Mexican military are "open for business" as they say, and for the right price will be happy to provide manpower and logistical support to the terrorists. The only reason this has not already happened, IMO, is because so far the Mexican government has been able to out-bid the terrorists, primarily by acting to facilitate the smuggling of contraband. When the day arrives that the narcotraficantes feel as though the Iranians (or whoever else may come along) are offering a better deal, game over.

FuturePundit said...

gary, We can (and should) build a barrier along the entire US border with Mexico and institute more thorough checking of identities of people crossing that border.

As for how Mexico votes in the UN: If that is the worst they can do to us I'm feeling pretty indifferent.

Audacious Epigone said...

Can we trust this administration to even acknowledge that Iran will be an Islamic country regardless, and certainly for the lifetimes of current generations?

Yes! A pluralistic, liberal, peace-oriented nation of the True Islamic faith, to be specific.


Right. But it has become progressively less distant and less ambiguous in rhetoric. These are concrete military battle plans we're apparently talking about.


I'm constantly amazed that, in light of the rampant corruption (which is a loaded term--it is simply the way to do things in Latin America) in Mexico, it is seriously argued that the Mexican government's police power can be counted on where US security is concerned. More than one-third of Mexican families report having paid a bribe in the last year (one of the highest rates in the world).

al fin said...

I was opposed to the Iraq invasion for a number of years and am still not convinced that another way might not have worked. There is always another way, although not necessarily a better, less bitter way.

As far as Iran, there is an inevitability of violence here. The shape and extent of the violence will be determined by discussions occurring now.

Low-IQ groups such as jihadis dwell less on the logic of a situation than on the possibility for making a big splash. What is the soft target? Which is the weak horse? In terms of epic historical and religious effect, what strike will have the greater impact?

The UK will be no safer from violence for leaving Iraq. Jihadis have long memories. The threat of violence to the homeland may actually grow much worse for the UK.

War is always a bloody blunder, but even so, war is not always the worst option. Facilitating the ominous slip into nuclear jihad and apocalyptic political religion is not smart either. Stepping out of the way for religon-mad or nationalist-mad politicians to acquire great powers of violence (appeasement to insanity) is not particularly wise.

Violence from an unstable nuclear Iran is inevitable, and not necessarily Bush's, the US'
, the UK's, France's, fault.

Anonymous said...

Hit the above link. That is what muslims are doing to Buddhists in Thailand, a nation which has thousands of soldiers in the Middle East and supports Israel. But as we know, Thaliand has/does neither. But muslims are murdering and mutialiating Buddhists just the same and working to establish a muslims state.
Re AlFin's point, maybe war isn't the worst option when it comes to Iran. Allah only knows what muslims have in store for us.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al and Anon,

I'd much prefer no war and the end of Islamic immigration into Europe. The two terrorist plots, unveiled almost simultaneously in Denmark and Germany, reveal where the real danger lies.

Yes, most of the suspects were born in those two countries, but all are of ME or Central Asian descent. They're not 'assimilatilating' or liberalizing, even given an entire life to do so.

If bombing is to be done, why not have Israel do the dirty work? Certainly Iran is a greater concern to its vital interests than to our own.

al fin said...

First of all let me say that I am a natural anarchist, an enemy of the state. Working on military bases caused me to understand military thinking much more clearly. 9/11 led me to modify my view of the uses of state power in emergencies.

I applaud our host Audacious Epigone's efforts to restrict Islamic immigration to the west. His logic is impeccable in that regard. Unfortunately, the likelihood of world governments heeding his excellent advice is not high.

Given the stupidity of politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, and educators, it is likely that the next great war will be fought on at least two fronts--overseas and at home.

Most of the intelligent younger western people that I know, at least the ones raised in western nations, do not seem to grasp the "missionary zeal" of the modern muslim jihadi, whether living in the west or in his muslim state. It is quite deadly serious. It is not something one should turn his back on.

More bright young people in the west need to study military history and tactics. Better sooner than later. Instead, there is a widespread revulsion toward all things military--an attitude which has proven suicidal to many societies over time.

The media, politicians, and academics/intellectual classes are not giving western populations an honest look at what is happening behind the scenes inside muslim countries and inside muslim enclaves in the west.

9/11 was a classic multi-pronged ambush, and only flight 93 passengers were prepared. They rushed the ambush rather than cowering from it. They may have saved thousands of lives.

The larger ambush is on a global scale, may turn nuclear, and can be either rushed or cowered from. Either way, the ambush will occur--but rushing the ambush gives the ambushed better odds in most cases.

Put yourself on flight 93 and decide how you are going to face your ambush.

Audacious Epigone said...


The bastards wouldn't have ever boarded my plane in the first place.

The tendency among young Westerners to think that everyone, everywhere, really thinks like a liberalized Westerner, with the differences no deeper than those between the average American and the average German or Frenchman, is a bane. The zeal of a Raymond of Toulouse or an Urban II is dead among the Euro-descended. But it's alive and well in the Islamic world.

The revulsion to all things military is similarly harmful. Yet many 'activists' my age do support military action in Sudan and even against Serbia in Kosovo. There is a hardened anti-military segment, but for many it's more how it's used than if it should be used at all.