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April 02, 2006

Comments

This whole war-with-Iran scenario seems so misguided, ill-informed, insane and downright stupid it is hard to credit, except that it is led by the certifiable Dick, Cheney.

You neglected to mention the great financial leverage China has over the US dollar in the form of their holdings of US T bills and bonds. Considering the vacancies at the Treasury Dept (including the one at the top), it is not surprising that BushCo seems not to have taken this into acount.

Part of me would almost (but really not quite) like to see then try something, and then deal with $4-a-gallon gas and rising import prices just before the midterms. Iraq couldn't retaliate, but the far bigger, richer and smarter Iran certainly could, and it is hard to believe that a majority of the public (all non-Bushbots) wouldn't see the connection between an attack on iran and a falling dollar and rising oil price.

Yeah, I didn't mention the reserve currency problem, mostly because I didn't want to cover Senatorial bloviating about exchange rates.

mr. emptywheel, who is usually loathe to discuss these kinds of issues, did some wargaming with me this morning. And we decided this was a plausible response to a US strike in Iran:

Iran makes Iraq living hell
Iran conducts a strike somewhere (the UK?) that attacks competency rather than civilians, perhaps the dreaded strike on Saudi oil fields
China moves first 5%, then another 5% of its currency into Euros

The likely response would be greatly incrased calls for us to withdraw in Iraq (and perhaps the necessity to do so), increased oil prices, and much higher interest rates in the US, which will lead to increased foreclosures and bankruptcies. It also might spark a smaller Asian country (we picked Thailand) to precipitously move all its currency into Euro, in an attempt to beat China to that step. Which might lead to a panic on the dollar. A certainly could lead to the bankruptcy of the US.

Hey EW,

Good post.

Here is a link that talks about fourth generation war.

http://www.d-n-i.net/second_level/fourth_generation_warfare.htm

=

I suspect that a big part of the problem is that no one really has a clue as to what the Iranians have up their sleeves as countermeasures - they do seem to have an awful lot of options at their disposal, and these extend into the political, diplomatic and economic spheres as well. I'd pay very close attention to the price of oil as the ultimate arbiter of this for 2006 - I suspect if there is another major hurricane that hits GoM oil production then the military option will rapidly disappear.

This current round of military exercises is at least the third in the past 6 months - and they keep unveiling some nifty military hardware designed to make oppo operational planners baulk. My own assessment is that Iran's conventional military is seriously underestimated, and that they have aces up their sleeves that will come as big surprises if the Bush administration pushes the button on this.

It's hard to see any positive political outcomes in the wider Islamic world from another attack on flimsy pretexts - and the potential for political destabilization in Gulf states that are important US military bases ( Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait for example ) should not be underestimated. Obviously there will be some kind of kickback in Southern Iraq that would put severe pressure on the US military, and would be potentially fatal for the UK and assorted allies whose presence in the key areas around Basra, Nasariyah and up to Karbala/Najaf is vital for the US logistics chain from Kuwait. It will only take the introduction of MANPADS and some stand-off anti-armour weaponry to re-shape the battlefield there; the Iranians probably have these pre-deployed in the south, along with sufficient personnel to make life really unpleasant for those supply convoys; and I wouldn't rule out the option of the Iranians taking Nasariyah - which is a pivotal location.

I suspect that one of the reasons that Jack Straw regularly shouts "there is no military solution" at the top of his voice is because UK military commanders have intimated that an attack on Iran will lead to the elimination of the British military presence in Basra.

Iran's biggest asset will, of course, be the fact that as things stand any attack on them will be an unambiguous act of aggression that has no legal warrant.

I'd take issue with the notion that they will undertake "terrorist" attacks against civilian targets in the West or elsewhere - they will be more likely to employ classic "commando" or "special forces" tactics against "state", "infrastructure" or "military" targets. They won't be targetting rush-hour commuters - but they might well attack key electrical or petroleum infrastructure or industrial targets. There's nothing like knocking out the power supply to 50 million Americans for an extended period to get people very grouchy.

Incidentally, my reading of the Telegraph article, which cites an unnamed FO official as, quite literally, the only source for the piece, is that it is bluff - there may well be a high-level meeting set for this week, but I suspect that the MoD brass is just as likely to be telling the government that they'll be handing in their resignations if there's any UK participation in such an ill-advised and illegal venture; it's all part of the psychological games that are being played to try to convince the Iranians that there is a genuine chance of military action - so just fucking watch it and play nicer.

Brilliant post ew, as usual. Wrt your comment, our status as a debtor nation provides some limited security. Our creditors don't want us to go bankrupt and neither do the people who cash our checks paying for their oil.
Another very small thing that may cause Bush to hesitate is the Strait of Hormuz. IIRC, it's 100m deep and two-miles wide wrt navigable water. Just sinking a couple of ocean going vessels in such shallow water quickly makes it unnavigable. Bush's support of the Dubai Ports signals that he at least appears to understand the importance of this very narrow channel.
Would you care to guess what the chances are that Bush would launch against Iran?
I am going to be optimistic and say 25% for an attack, 75% against it. History may record that the Administration didn't launch primarily because DeadEye shot Harry in the face. (BTW, Taylor Marsh called Dick "DeadEye" this morning on CSPAN's Washington Journal.)
Is there anything FDL's "netroots" could do in your opinion, to pressure Congress, to try to pressure Bush not to launch?

ew, one thing you don't want to do at the moment is check out the rightwing blogs. They're all puffing themselves up as if they were going to be in the vanguard of whatever attack is undertaken on Iran. God, gold and glory, as the conquistadors used to say. Scary stuff.

There has been plenty of looking into the possibilities of what Iran might do in response to any attack. Jeffrey White, for instance, back in May 2003:

Long-term Reaction. In the long-term, Iran would attempt to take steps that would insure itself against another attack on its nuclear program or a broader attack on the regime. Tehran would almost certainly rebuild the program, reflecting its status as a high-value national asset. Unless significant numbers of scientists and technicians were killed in the strikes, there is no reason why Tehran could not restart the program; as long as it possesses the necessary knowledge and skills, Iran will have the basis for such a program. Indeed, Iran would likely accelerate both its nuclear and long-range-missile efforts in order to achieve a measure of deterrence as quickly as possible. The regime would also increase security for the program by instituting or increasing hardening, dispersal, redundancy, and active defense measures.

In addition, Tehran would likely plan and then implement asymmetric attacks on high-value U.S. and allied targets. A number of such possibilities exist, including using Hizballah to attack Israel with long-range rockets from southern Lebanon; launching asymmetric attacks on allied forces or on the transitional government in Iraq; attacking U.S. allies in the Gulf; or sponsoring terrorist operations against U.S. interests abroad or on U.S. soil. By using proxy elements, Tehran probably has a better chance of successfully arguing for plausible denial (at least with some audiences) than Washington would for any attack on Iran. Finally, the regime would attempt to use the U.S. attack as a means of rallying domestic political support. Any political forces seeking accommodation with Washington would be put on the defensive, if not written off completely.

And The Oxford Research Group came out this February with Iran: Consequences of a War.

The consequences described above relate to the immediate responses from within Iran or from associates in Lebanon. Probably the most difficult response to predict would be the effect of a military confrontation with Iran on the attitudes and reactions from within wider Islamic communities. Although there is an uneasy relationship between Iran and the al-Qaida movement, and between Iran and the Arab world, any attack on such a significant Islamic republic would inevitably increase the anti-American mood in the region and beyond, giving greater impetus to a movement that is already a global phenomenon.

One of the most significant developments of the past four years has been the ability of the al-Qaida movement and its associates to survive and thrive in an intensely antagonistic environment. Since 9/11, the movement has experienced the loss of many key leadership elements, either killed or detained, has lost its main operating areas in Afghanistan and has seen over 70,000 people detained for lengthy periods. Even so, the level of activity in those past four years has actually been substantially higher than in the four years prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Of particular significance has been the evolution of suicide bombing. Historically, this phenomenon has been widespread and has not been restricted to radical Islamist groups, but individual campaigns involving suicide bombing have been narrow in their geographical focus. These have included the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, Kurdish separatists in Turkey, Hezbollah supporters in Southern Lebanon and Palestinian radicals in Israel/Palestine. These have all been directed at responding to occupation and perceived oppression in a localised region.

For the first time, at least on a substantial scale, suicide bombing has gone transnational, often involving well-educated individuals who are motivated to respond not to their known immediate circumstances but to the wider circumstances of co-religionists. They are aided by the huge increase in information now available through satellite TV news channels and the internet, and may be prepared to travel substantial distances to undertake their actions.

If the United States is prepared to extend its current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran, this trend should be expected to get a substantial further boost, with consequences that are difficult to predict. It will certainly be yet another example of a reaction that will serve to damage US security interests in the region and beyond.

I have to disagree with you, dan, regarding the range of likely Iranian targets. Certainly, soft industrial targets would be among their choices, but fourth-generation warfare tries to avoid hard military targets both because they are hard and because taking them out can be so very, very costly to the attacker. I'd be less concerned about embassies and air bases and more concerned about chemical plants and shopping malls.

Isn't there a clear possibility, based on previous Bush administration "errors" that a counter-attack by Iran on US civilians is *exactly* what Bush wants? Not that it'd work, but BushCo could be hoping for a rally-around-the-flag effect and the chance to impose martial law.

Bushco may be very well aware of the potential side effects of an attack on Iran, including 4th generation warfare carried to our shores. But who says that's a downside for Bush? He got huge approval ratings and carte blanche to throw away the Constitution the last time that happened, and he could sure use some of the same now. As for Iran, they are, as you say, very smart, and have learned the lessons of recent US belligerance very well. Specifically, 1) if you want to forestall a US attack, get yourself some nuclear weapons (see: North Korea); and 2) it doesn't do you any good to cooperate with a UN inspection regime if you're hoping to keep Bush at bay (see: Iraq).

Re: counter-attacks.

I think I'm at a middle ground here--I imagine, if Iran were to strike in the UK or the US, it would strike something that wouldn't kill civilians, would do some damage to the war effort, but would be recognizably an Iranian strike. Perhaps something creative to the air bases we borrow in the UK? Not a direct attack, but an annoyance.

But I think the larger underlying counter-attack--the oil weapon--will not have the effects BushCo desires. This country is more dependent on oil than any other, everything from food prices to commute prices to production prices would skyrocket if Iran were able to interrupt supplies of oil (particularly if you're talking either cutting traffic through Hormuz or a joint Iranian/Venezuelan/Iraqi withdraw). That kind of counter-attack isn't going to raise BUsh's approval ratings. And Iran knows this.

All Iran has to do to become the regional power it wants to be is to outlast us in Iraq (and make sure the Shiites retain control), which should be a cinch for them. Step one in outlasting us is getting rid of Bush and driving down his popularity.

Good to discuss the Iranian response to military attack issue while there is still time to analyze it and before it is too late.

Iran is not Iraq. They do have some conventional military capability and have spent some serious money on beefing up that capability with arms from Russia and China. They have recently test fired long range missiles and just last week test fired a radar evading missile that can carry multiple warheads.

Taking out Iranian nuclear facilities will not be that easy. As Col. Lang has posted on his blog, it will require thousands of air attack sorties in waves. So it can't be a total surprise attack as positioning all the aircraft will be noticeable. Israel can't do it on its own. Only the US can and will have to be the backbone of the attack. Iranian nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and many are hardened. Additionally US intelligence on Iran is poor so its unlikely US intelligence knows all the nuclear and missile sites.

Iran will also not necessarily sit back and wait for the attack to respond. They could act pre-emptively before their military assets are destroyed and launch their missiles at US air bases in the Gulf region (Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq) and also into Israel and Afghanistan. They can sink a few large oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz and shut out oil tanker movement. They could incite Shiite's in the south of Iraq and make it difficult for US and UK ground forces moving into Iran. Shiite's in the larger Gulf region could also be incited which could cause domestic upheavals from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Probably the most troubling would be the potential destabilization of Pakistan with the jihadis there going nuts and their decent size sympathizers in the religious political parties and intelligence and military agencies providing support to domestic protests and riots. If they were able to pick up momentum against Musharraf's acquiescence there could potentially be a coup with Islamist hardliners in the military taking over and that would be a worst case scenario. The AQ Khan nuclear proliferation network there would be nothing compared to what could potentially happen with dispersal of Pakistani nuclear weapons and nuclear tipped missiles.

Even not considering the launch of 4th Generation warfare by Iran the Middle East could be in flames and so destabilized that the economic and geopolitical consequences could not be fully anticipated. There is also no certainty that the public in the West would be passive. Western media also may not follow the Iraq script and only push the pro-war propaganda. There could be massive protests in Europe and the US that western governments will have their hands more than full not only fighting an escalating war but domestic public opinion.

The reality is that the US today as compared to before the Iraqi invasion is in a relatively weakened position and cannot undertake another major military confrontation that could have unpredictable economic and geopolitical results. Iran and the rest of the world know that. Hopefully saner heads prevail and a political understanding is reached with Iran.

The US is building bases in Iraq measured in tens of sq miles of concrete. Gilliard and many think we are just going to abandon the bases. I think Bush is going to create conditions that make it possible to station 100k troops in Iraq for a generation,i.e., hell in the Middle East. He is going to change the world, and be remembered for a millenium.

I also think y'all are wrong about domestic implications. If Bush can make conditions bad enough, there will not be a "rally around the flag" effect but "desperately clinging to a liferaft" effect. If Bush causes a depression and World War, I am not even sure I would want to add a civil war to the equation.
Mississippi and Utah will go to a shooting war if you push back too hard. Bush has made it known that dictatorship is an option.

The only question is before or after the midterms.

I was at a Capitol Hill round table the other day with Jim Zogby of the Arab-American institute and the embassadors of Egypt and Qatar. The Egyptian ambassadors was very impressive, and he left a few people who know him well and are attuned to his approach wondering if he was sending a veiled message. I wish I had taken notes, but in a very subtle way he almost seemed to be suggesting that if the US doesn't "grow up" about the Middle East, we could lose out influence over the pro-western governments and liberal modernizers--who both he and the Qatari ambassador said were the international business classes in their countries--to other countries, presumably the Chineese. He was fairly stern, and he in fact told this group of mostly upper-level Congressional staffers that the US needed to "grow up." It was very un-diplomatese, especially considering that he's apparently the epitome of the smooth diplomate with a soft-spoken approach.

After the event, at lunch with a couple people who know the Ambassador well, I thought of EW's repeated refrains, in person, on email, and here on TNH, that Hu Jintao is very shrewdly taking advantage of animosity toward the US to reach out across the globe to enhance China's standing as a counterweight to the US. There's little reason to think the Chinese aren't doing the same with some of our past stalwart allies like Egypt.

Iran may see China as a double counterweight to both the US and Russia.

DH

Very interesting speculation. You see China reaching out to the pariahs, like Sudan. But that's only because they're the exception, the only ones who can get away with it (though we've been known to do the same in the past). But they're almost certainly doing the same with some of our best allies.

And meanwhile, Bush can't even manage dignity at a meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Meteor Blades has it just about right in my opinion. I think there are those who would expect Iran to act through resources or assets and actually launch attacks in the U.S. which could then be used as a justification for doing things like going to conidtion Red, suppressing free speech, even cancelling the elections. Remember that this group has had 5 years to try to replace the command structure with people they believe will be compliant.

And at the first attack all of a sudden we will begin to here how Iran sheltered key leaders of Al Qaeda, with some reference to the son of Bin Laden who was apparently under house arrest in Iran. With critical voices shut down because of condition red, the administration could have complete freedom to do whatever it wants.

And if Iran does not launch such attacks, it will be spun that the naysayer who predicted it were wrong, that the show of strength has intimidated Iran.

I have slight acquaintance with a few people on the edges of neocon circles, largely from the time more than decade ago when I regularly attended th synagogue at which Joe Lieberman can be found on Satrudays when he is in DC. While I have had little contact with these folks in the past few years, from what I remember of their thinking, this would be about par for them.

Meteor Blades has it just about right in my opinion. I think there are those who would expect Iran to act through resources or assets and actually launch attacks in the U.S. which could then be used as a justification for doing things like going to conidtion Red, suppressing free speech, even cancelling the elections. Remember that this group has had 5 years to try to replace the command structure with people they believe will be compliant.

And at the first attack all of a sudden we will begin to here how Iran sheltered key leaders of Al Qaeda, with some reference to the son of Bin Laden who was apparently under house arrest in Iran. With critical voices shut down because of condition red, the administration could have complete freedom to do whatever it wants.

And if Iran does not launch such attacks, it will be spun that the naysayer who predicted it were wrong, that the show of strength has intimidated Iran.

I have slight acquaintance with a few people on the edges of neocon circles, largely from the time more than decade ago when I regularly attended th synagogue at which Joe Lieberman can be found on Satrudays when he is in DC. While I have had little contact with these folks in the past few years, from what I remember of their thinking, this would be about par for them.

The Telegraph is widely known as an MI5/6 mouthpiece. Their story and graphics are aimed at the punters, presumably to give them the idea that Iran will be easy to defeat.

Dana Priest's article is about linking Hezbolah in Lebanon with Iran in the public's mind.
My guess is that the shooting match will start with Israel premptively attacking Hezbolah in Lebanon. They want the water resources in Lebanon and would be hoping to provoke Syria. If Syria responds then an air attack from Israel and US ensues.
US will be hoping that Iran honours it's treaty with Syria and comes to it's aid. This triggers the US bombardment of Iran.

However the attack on Iran comes about, it will be military targets that get hit first long before the nuclear facilities.
As for Iran's reponse, they will be at war and there are far more pressing targets to take out before US chemical plants or shopping malls.

All efforts will be to combat the air raids. They know the US can only win by bombing Iran back into the Stone Age and that that is exactly what US wants to do for multiple reasons
Iran is a way different scenario to Emmanuel Bin Laden.

Please remember that the corporate press advance the Industrial Complex's agenda and that the target audience is the US and British public. It's one big psy-op to them.

Siun over at FDL posted this link to an informative article. I don't know about the authors speculations but the facts in the first half are worth pondering at least.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article12593.htm

One other thought

if the US were to attack Iran and the Brits were shown to have anything to do with it, my guess is that Blair would quickly lose a vote of no confidence and be forced from office. I'd be interested in how others might read that situation.

Great analysis and comments. This is what happens when a boy tinkers a complex world.

I agree with teacherken's scenario except it is far more likely that the terrorism on US soil will be perpetrated by Mossad with or without CIA help.
That's their MO

From zanzibar's comment:

"Iran will also not necessarily sit back and wait for the attack to respond. They could act pre-emptively before their military assets are destroyed... They could incite Shiite's in the south of Iraq and make it difficult for US and UK ground forces moving into Iran."

Wildly speculative question from the uninformed:

I never have known what to make of the fact that the security guards at the Golden Mosque were captured and tied up unharmed. Maybe there's a practical reason, such as that gunshots would have attracted too much attention to allow enough time for the bomb-rigging. It sort of looks like humanitarian concern, which one surely wouldn't credit to a Zarqawi type.

Is there any chance that the Iranians blew up the Mosque?

The Sadr and Badr militias have never looked back. For Iraqi Shiites, it's become a chance to flex their military superiority over the Sunnis. And to show the Americans they're neither needed nor especially wanted, and that they can take their demands for a unity government (and the associated concessions) elsewhere. They already proved themselves in an election; since that wasn't enough, they'll assert their rights again by force.

The Iranians get to drive a wedge between the Badr/Sadr boys and the Americans. Shiite control over the country is established, and in the process, America realizes it doesn't have a leg to stand on in southern Iraq.

If you were trying to defend your own country from attack, then undermining your attacker's position in this way would be a cheap and effective card to play. It helps your pals in SCIRI too. Essentially, you're just giving a pretext for a strong military move by the Iraqi Shiites.

Stories that sound good when you possess 15% of the facts usually are wrong on their face when you possess 30%. So I'm not wedded to this. But given that funny thing about tying up the guards, I have to wonder.

So, do we know for sure who pulled that operation?

Also, the most workable scenario in terms of domestic politics only would be to have the Israelis bomb Iran, have Iran retaliate against us, say by sinking a ship, and then have some Day of Infamy bluster on every channel, alongside some "we will stand by Israel, we must counterattack, etc." In terms of American public opinion that would work frighteningly well. If done right, it would even be enough to keep European and Japanese publics in line.

The facts that make this impossible are apparently that 1) the Israelis couldn't mount the type of strike that would be needed, and 2) the Iranians are smart enough to respond with an oil crunch rather than dead American sailors.

Even that's not very reassuring. I can imagine seeing an Israeli pinprick strike, something completely inadequate to the real task of destroying Iranian nuclear capacity, but big enough to provide the necessary spark anyway. The Iranians respond with something (they've got domestic opinion to think about too), and as long as they kill 100+ US military, it's on. The fact that the first two moves were symbols of an attack rather than the real thing wouldn't matter a damn bit.

texas dem, reposted from FDL "The Next Iraqi Occupation"

See here:

Clueless in Baghdad
WPB | Homepage | 04.02.06 - 9:45 am | #

Thanks for the link WPB.
From the author -

"Lynch’s answer is total bullshit. The rise in casualties is not the result of insurgent violence. It is the result of government-backed Shiite death squads and government-backed Shiite militias."

Too true. British and US personnel have also been sprung with explosives. So they are pro active as well. One would expect Mossad to be indulging in all sorts of mayhem, too. It's their style and has been for 50 years.
The chief beneficiaries of the internecine violence are the Israelis and Americans and General Lynch's own chart shows this dramatically. This alone should tell everyone who's stoking the fire.
Griffon | 04.02.06 - 3:30 pm | #

The chart I refer to (worth a look) shows the Iraqi casualties(SP?) rising as US casualties falling - cause and effect?!

texas dem

check this out -
http://anewerworld.org/?p=372
You'll have to copy and paste it into your browser - sorry

reposted from Fdl "Iraq The Next Occupation"-

Thanks for the link WPB.
From the author -

"Lynch’s answer is total bullshit. The rise in casualties is not the result of insurgent violence. It is the result of government-backed Shiite death squads and government-backed Shiite militias."

Too true. British and US personnel have also been sprung with explosives. So they are pro active as well. One would expect Mossad to be indulging in all sorts of mayhem, too. It's their style and has been for 50 years.
The chief beneficiaries of the internecine violence are the Israelis and Americans and General Lynch's own chart shows this dramatically. This alone should tell everyone who's stoking the fire.
Griffon | 04.02.06 - 3:30 pm | #

Google 'Salvador(e)an option" if you are not familiar with it

A propos of this discussion, I note a news story via Bloomberg that Iran's navy says it successfully test-fired a 223 miles per hour torpedo. This weapon supposedly can be fired from a small boat, by air, or from shore. It could turn the Strait of Hormuz into a killing zone--if they have enough of them.

I was pretty sure there were no good options for us before this latest development.

The Bloomberg link is here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=alsKhANHek1w

EW, I've been sitting around thinking of a response for this good post. Your image of Iran normalizing terror as a method of international conflict is compelling.

I've decided to be a contrarian. I'll suggest that the US is aware of, and can contain, any threats presented by Iran (assuming we have the necessary focus for this eventuality -- granted, a Big If).

Suppose we attack Iran's nuclear sites in some rational way, and (this time) neutralize their terrorist response? This would be a huge victory for the western public and a huge defeat for wannabe bad guys everywhere.

Is it possible? As an outsider, and judging from recent events, focus and follow through by the US agencies seem to be the big hurdles.

What a victory it would be though!

kim

It's an interesting thought. But I don't even think it'd be a good victory. Put the Bush crowd in charge of the remaining oil reserves and you're looking at a very ugly world. Very ugly.

But I just don't buy it. At every step in Iraq they have bungled their understanding of Iran. They have played into Iran's hands with remarkable naivete. There is nothing that indicates they've gotten shrewder in recent days.

Why won't the US productively engage Iran? I'd say they've worked around this problem for decades and, meanwhile, florished militarily in Iran's neighbors.

Maybe the CIA stuff in the 50s is a big issue? The US has been much more willing to influence Afghanistan and Iraq than Iran.

Iran does seem to be that annoying dog on the block where crossing the street is just the easier choice.

One would think Iran could wait less than 3 years for our incompetent WH Admin to leave. With that in mind, as ridiculously counter-intuitive as it sounds, perhaps someone in Iran views the Bush presidency as a rare opportunity to induce a colossal aggressive bungle by the US. A trap that could rearrange the economic scales of oil and send US economic prosperity into the twilight.

Disrupting the secure flow of Persian Gulf Oil could be far more damaging than any Iranian effected body count. While it amounts to a pipe dream for a group like Al Qaeda, Iran is positioned and capable of doing just that if we misstep.

Emptywheel,
go here for links to "Iran: Consequences of War" by the Oxford Research Group.
A must read
http://gorillasguides.blogspot.com/2006/04/iran-consequences-of-war.html#links

``They can sink a few large oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz and shut out oil tanker movement.''

Ahem. All they have to do is to sink or damage one oil tanker. Do you really think that the others will try to run the gauntlet? Even with U.S. navy ships by their sides? I read somewhere that Iran has a lot of anti-ship missles, not only exocets but more sophisticated, faster, and longer range Russian models.

Terrorist attacks inside the United States?

Plays right into BushCo's agenda.

This way, they can further control the people by fear, and get Americans to further acquiesce as the Bushies continue their destruction of civil liberties and their construction of a fascist/militarist police state.

The Bushies would WELCOME terrorist attacks against Americans, both abroad and at home. So long as they themselves and their rich allies are safely esconced in in their bunkers and protected by private security forces, what do they give a shit about the rest of us?

The "little people" among the American population are expendable to them. Hell, 9-11 and Katrina proved that. They'd been warned many times something was going to happen in both situations, but did NOTHING to protect the "little people."

Terrorist attacks inside the United States is PRECISELY what the Bushies would LOVE to see happen.

so if Iran destroys the Saudi oil docks, the Kuwaiti oil docks, and the Iraqi oil docks, and Venezuala refuses to sell us oil, what happens to America's economy ???

Iran doesn't have to launch 4th generation warfare

good old fashioned "economic warfare" will be enough to finish us off

If/when China and Russia decide against us, we're finished

Iran just has to wait for the rest of the world to pull the plug on the US economy

game, set, match

Freepatriot,
Yep! I think tough that US/Israel think they can bully everyone with their nuclear threats and tantrums.
They're getting desperate because they are running out of time economically. It's now or never!

Did you know that Turkey has nuclear weapons? Same for Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.

Did you know that US war theatre commanders have discretionary power to use nukes?

Red here:-

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20060217&articleId=1988

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20060217&articleId=1988

Sorry about the copy and paste thing. Onew day I'll work out the link business!

Preview is my friend!

I don't think we can discount the effect of the recent Israeli election. Israel is weak economically because of the high defense costs, and the parties that did well in the election (other than Kadima) emphasized domestic issues--and Kadima's platform was peace, not an attack on Iran that would further destabilize the ME and deplete Israeli resources. I don't think an Israeli attack is in the cards now.

That leaves us, and if Iran is smart, which we know they are, the retaliation would be inside Iraq and economic. They may begin to flex their and their allies' economic resources in advance of any attack, because long term an attack is destabilizing for them too.

DH's comment about the Egyptian ambassador telling the US to "grow up" is perfect. I doubt it will happen short of Bush being neutered by a landslide in the midterms.

emptywheel,

Connect this post to your last one. Nation-states attempt to influence others in many different ways. Lobbying can work well in oligarchic democracies (the U.S. does it all the time). Iran has been pretty effective in the last 30 years in influencing U.S. policy (in areas where it mattered to them). They know that we have no effective military options (all chance of that went out the window when we attacked Iraq).

Muzzy (upthread) has it right, but should be using the past tense. Iran's already done it by suckering us into the Iraq war.

Mimikatz,
I hope you are right but you may be assuming that the new Govt will control Mossad and the military and also that it will do a 180 degree turn on Israeli history. That's a lot of inertia to overcome.

Iran, Russia and China are on the way to overcoming the dominant position of the US in the world anyway. They don't need or want a war. Only the US wants and NEEDS a war to defend and advance their position. The US and Israeli economies are headed for the toilet and everyone knows it.

Iran is not about to use itself as bait in it's own bear trap. That doesn't make sense. But Russia and China would be happy to take advantage of that situation given that the US is committed to ongoing warfare.

I think the US is about to stick it's head in that bear trap and then get itself kicked out of central asia and the Mid-East and an awful lot of people are going to die.

I could then imagine the US becoming a lock-down martial dictatorship and being left to stew in it's own economic mess by the rest of the world.

There's been a lot of talk about karma being a bitch lately by people who need to look over their own shoulder.

grubs 'n twigs will be the new meat and potatoes...

Griffon, what's the name of that rule about the first person to invoke Hitler ???

I think the rule about person to use nuclear weapons is more hard and real

conside what it would say about America if we had to use nuclear weapons against a country the size of Iran ???

can you say PARIAH on the world stage ???

North Korea could justifiably shun us

Sudan ??? Libia ??? Syria ???

is there a criminal state that couldn't justifiably look down on us

Hitler and Stalin must be laughing their asses off in hell right now

Downing Street and the White House may still pull this one out. But, they are relying on the hope that Iran is so stupid as to actually read the little cartoon pictures in the Telegraph and Condi's furrowed brow to mean that the western powers truly has gone insane.

This is a variation of "Crazy Nixon", the ploy that kept the Russians wondering while Dick drank himself into a stupor in the Final Daze before he was whisked away by Marine Corps One. An opportunity of true Superpower befuddlement doesn't present itself too often, so Israel jumped and expanded its borders, again.

Maybe then, the hope goes, Tehran will be bamboozled by the brilliance of it all, and will do something silly. Maybe they will be the first to go berzerk and set off World War Three (or is it Four? No matter). That will spare Washington and London the trouble of confronting that moment when reality must be faced.

At that moment after the last staged shots of Bolton's mustache at the UN, reality will appear. If Iran doesn't take the bait, are we really going to stick out our tongues and flick, go for that cheese before the steel wire trap falls, and the missiles fly back and forth, blasting Natanz and Dimona?

It's not the little black profiles of Iranian frigates and fighter planes in the cartoon that scare the Pentagon. It's the awful certainty of the Israeli counterstrike against the cities of Iran, and what follows.

Are we really going to do that, or are we just supposed to be scared out of our wits one more election cycle?

I vote the latter.

Leveymg, the Iranians really need do nothing to achieve their goals. Why should they attack any US or US ally asset at this juncture? They need time to establish their strength. They don't need haste. Only Dubya needs haste, just like he did with Iraq. The image of the lies dissipate if they are allowed to hang in the air too long, so they need to move quickly while the lies still linger. Without the attacks as you postulate, no legitimate rationale exists for either US or Israeli attacks.

Could someone please explain to me why the troops in Iraq wouldn't be a target?

AFAIK, around half our combat-ready army is in these bases in Iraq now; Their locations must be fairly well known (I bet anyone can find them with google earth considering how large they are). All of these troops are also in range of Iranian missles, and most of them are fairly removed from civilians in Iraq, so collateral damage would be limited. Sure we have patriot missles galore, but it seems to me a large missile strike, even if only 20% effective, would kill tens of thousands of U.S. troops in a single sweep, paralyze our ability to do anything (even moreso) in Iraq, and; if done in concert with blocking the gulf, make it all but impossible for us to do anything except bomb the hell out of them.

That superfast Iranian torpedo is old tech... to the Russians! Remember the Kursk? Remember why the Russians let it sink after the US sub baited it into a shallow area? If the Russians gave the technology to Iran, it just might appeal to their notion of payback.

Meanwhile, Boykin the fanatic is set to start making more speeches about the Muslim God being Satan and how the Christian God is about to whup-ass, now that he has been promoted. Bush's advisors really, really, really want Armageddon to start, even if they have to start it themselves. (If they were truly religious, they would understand the blasphemy of usurping their God's perogatives.) Why are they calling the new weapons and plans by religious code-names?

The new Christian flag, the new pledge of allegiance to THAT flag, the new songs celebrating the End Times are all set... ready for the marching crusaders to take into battle.

If the Mid-East explodes, the bloodshed will indeed be on Bush's hands. But will he feel the slightest bit of remorse? Nope! He'll be too busy planning the Commander-in-Chief Ball and the President-for-Life Ceremony.

If Iran doesn't cooperate and give him the excuse for war, Bush is quite capable of dragging out the plans for provoking Iraq and setting up a false trigger. Rove would shit himself to be given the task.


Carolly

Damn good question, Telephasic. I'll take a shot at it - sorry about the pun!

There's no way to make sense of it if you think Rumsfeld et al think like you (and most people) do.
They don't. As evidence I point out that of the 500,000 troops who saw service in Iraq in Gulf War 1, HALF are on at least partial disability benefits. As of last year 11000 (that they acknowledge) have died. It's radiation poisoning from Depleted Uranium. It is so deadly because the radioactive particles enter the body through being breathed in. So the exposure continues after you leave the affected area.

I don't have the figures handy but from memory the amount of DU sprayed all over Iraq is in the order of multiples of thousands compared with '91. Almost all of the troops there will have shortened and painful lives and likely so will their wives and their offspring will have deformed DNA. This also applies, of course, to the Iraqi population as a whole and is nothing short of genocide.

So to get back to your question, if the commanders and politicians are happy to condemn their soldiers to an early grave, what's the difference in risking them as sitting ducks?

I am guessing that the troops will be withdrawn to large bases in the north and west of the country before they press the button and take a chance that their Patriot (and it's replacement) missiles will do their job of interception. The war on Iran doesn't require boots on the ground to achieve their goal of bombing it back to the stone age. The purpose is to stop the Iranian Euro dollar Oil Bourse and to prevent China from getting Iranian oil. The US is not dependent on Iranian oil. Most of it comes from Saudi Arabia.
The price of oil will skyrocket and with it so will the demand for US dollars as that's the only way anyone can buy oil on the international market. This saves the US economy (or more accurately, the US banks) from meltdown, never mind the windfall profits for the oil majors.

In my view, the US leaders are desperate. Things are not going well domestically and internationally and they are running out of time. Retreating is not an option because they must stay in control to avoid war crimes prosecutions.

I guess it all boils down to whether you think there is such a thing as evil thinking and, if you do, whether you know what it looks and sounds like.
I believe I do and I believe it (evil) is pathological in nature. In short, it is a form of madness because it believes it can create reality to be whatever it wants it to be. It's delusional and therefore must crash sooner or later. It is the fate of all empires. The trouble is that the bastards take a lot of people with them.

The Iranian oil bourse is an urban legend. Ain't gonna happen. Iran doesn't have the finance and legal infrastructure for such a market to be more than a small thing. Besides, currencies are more fungible than the "bourse" theory understands.

Preventing China from getting Iranian oil is another matter, but as we have discussed, war with Iran that seriously impacts China will result in economic retaliation. The US is being marginalized. I don't think BushCo can prevent that. War only makes it worse.

Telephasic, something on bases to understand the thinking if you're still reading here:-

" That, commonly, Fortresses do much more Harm than Good

"I say that when princes or republics are afraid of their subjects and in fear lest they rebel, this must proceed from knowing that their subjects hate them, which hatred in its turn results from their own ill conduct, and that again from their thinking themselves able to rule their subjects by mere force, or from their governing with little prudence. Now one of the causes which lead them to suppose that they can rule by mere force, is this very circumstance of their people having these fortresses on their backs So that the conduct which breeds hatred is itself mainly occasioned by these princes or republics being possessed of fortresses, which, if this be true, are really far more hurtful than useful First, because, as has been said already, they render a ruler bolder and more violent in his bearing towards his subjects, and, next, because they do not in reality afford him that security which he believes them to give For all those methods of violence and coercion which may be used to keep a people under, resolve themselves into two; since either like the Romans you must always have it in your power to bring a strong army into the field, or else you must dissipate, destroy, and disunite the subject people, and so divide and scatter them that they can never again combine to injure you For should you merely strip them of their wealth, _spoliatis arma supersunt_, arms still remain to them, or if you deprive them of their weapons, _furor arma ministrat_, rage will supply them, if you put their chiefs to death and continue to maltreat the rest, heads will renew themselves like those Hydra; while, if you build fortresses, these may serve in time of peace to make you bolder in outraging your subjects, but in time of war they will prove wholly useless, since they will be attacked at once by foes both foreign and domestic, whom together it will be impossible for you to resist."

Map showing US camps/bases in Iraq

The title and the quote are both from Chapter XXIV of "The Prince" by NiccolÒ Machiavelli. Of course he was the real article not some cheapjack "Mayberry" Machiavelli.

posted by Mark from Ireland at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 "

http://gorillasguides.blogspot.com/2006/04/that-commonly-fortresses-do-much-more_04.html#links

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