Abedin: The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran

Mahan Abedin writes in a guest editorial for Informed Comment:

The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran

The frank admission by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s highest ranking officer, that the U.S. has plans to attack Iran to prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons, is being treated with the utmost seriousness in political, intelligence and military circles in Tehran.

This is the first time that a high-ranking U.S. official has spoken about the existence of military plans to prevent the Islamic Republic from crossing the nuclear threshold. There is considerable evidence that Mullen’s frank statement, coupled with the Obama Administration’s increasingly hostile and dismissive attitude towards Iran, and reinforced by the fourth round of United Nations sanctions imposed in June (followed by even harsher unilateral sanctions imposed by both the European Union and the United States), has radically altered the Tehran regime’s strategic calculations on the possibility of a military confrontation with the United States.

Hitherto the conventional wisdom amongst strategic policy makers in the Islamic Republic was that the U.S. would adhere to the ‘no war no peace’ policy, irrespective of the bellicose rhetoric of American leaders and officials. The policy of ‘no war no peace’ has characterized Iranian-American relations since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.

The basic premise of this policy is that at different stages Iran and America edge towards war or peace – depending on the prevailing strategic scenario in the region – but never quite actually achieve either. The result is that most of the time the two states are somewhere in the middle conducting a Cold War, in which leaders and officials from both sides trade insults and engage in ideological and political grandstanding, but stop well short of the point where further escalation of tensions might trigger a hot war.

For the past thirty-one years this policy has benefited most of the key stakeholders, including hardline political factions in both countries, the regional Arab states, Turkey, Pakistan and Israel. All have benefited from this Iranian-American Cold War, insofar as the paucity of diplomatic and political relations between Iran and America has continuously opened up a wide range of strategic, political and economic benefits. By the same token, these stake holders would have much to lose if Iran and America actually engaged in real fighting. While this argument has manifold shortcomings, nonetheless it does capture a large part of the reality of Iranian-American relations since 1979. In any case it is what key Iranian strategic policy makers have believed all along. Until now that is.

Despite the fact that a few days before Mullen’s statement, the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC—Sepah-e-Pasdaran in Persian), Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari, dismissed U.S. threats, claiming that America “would not dare to attack Iran”, other IRGC leaders have in recent months continuously warned of the immediate and long-term fallout of any military confrontation. The head of the IRGC’s political-ideological unit recently warned of “dire” threats to regional security in the event of an American military attack. Meanwhile Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s defence minister and a former commander of the IRGC’s elite Qods Force (responsible for special foreign operations), has pledged a “robust” response to any American military aggression against Iran.

It has been clear for months that the mood of IRGC commanders has been changing and Mullen’s statement appears to lend credence to the strategic calculations of the Revolutionary Guard commanders. This development is of the utmost significance, since in the event of an Iranian-American military confrontation, the IRGC is expected to be at the forefront of containing the American assault and retaliating with military measures of its own.

In fact, in the event of a military confrontation Iranian leaders are likely to relieve the regular Iranian military from fighting, so as to keep them out of harm’s way and maintain the integrity and fighting strength of the regular armed forces. There is another reason for this decision and that has to do with the depleted capabilities of the national military; in the past thirty years the national armed forces have insidiously lost power and prestige to the IRGC. It is worth noting that Iran is the only country in the world that operates two completely independent military commands; one centred on the regular armed forces, and the other on the IRGC, which operates its own ground forces, navy and air force, as well as a myriad of intelligence and security services. Moreover, the IRGC controls all of Iran’s strategic military assets, including mid-range ballistic missile capability.

It has become fashionable to paint the IRGC as an economic conglomerate more interested in making money than fighting for the values of the Islamic Revolution. Much of the reporting on IRGC economic activity is inaccurate and disingenuous and is indicative of the faux-naif style of analysis often employed by Western journalists and analysts.

The truth is that whilst the IRGC has a sizeable economic wing centred on the Khatam ol-Anbia complex (Qarargah-e Khatam ol-Anbia), its economic and financial activities are kept strictly separate from its fighting units. In any case, the IRGC is foremost an ideological army that is totally and unequivocally committed to the survival of the Islamic Revolution, and the political-religious system that emerged from that revolution. Even former reformist president (and now opposition leader) Mohammad Khatami referred to the IRGC as the “most ideological armed force in the world.”

American political and military leaders would be mistaken if they believed they could get away with a “limited” military strike on Iran, designed to destroy that country’s nuclear infrastructure. Any military strike on Iran by the United States will be interpreted by Iran’s rulers, and their IRGC enforcers, as a direct assault on the integrity and the very existence of the Islamic Republic. From a strategic point of view, IRGC commanders will interpret any American strike as the beginning of an existential conflict, and will respond appropriately.

A top priority for the IRGC high command is to respond so harshly and decisively so as to deter the Americans from a second set of strikes at a future point. The idea here is to avoid what happened to Iraq in the period 1991-2003, when the former Baathist regime was so weakened by sanctions and repeated small-scale military attacks that it quickly collapsed in the face of American and British invading armies.

The range of predictable responses available to the IRGC high command include dramatic hit ad run attacks against military and commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf, the use of mid-range ballistic missiles against American bases in the region and Israel and a direct assault on American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. All these options are likely to be used within 48 hours of the start of hostilities.

What is less predictable is the response of the IRGC Qods Force, which is likely to be at the forefront of the Pasdaran’s counter-attack. One possible response by the Qods force is spectacular terrorist-style attacks against American intelligence bases and assets throughout the region. The IRGC Qods Force is believed to have identified every key component of the American intelligence apparatus in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are likely to put this information to good use, especially since the Qods Force suspects that the CIA had a hand in last October’s Jundullah-organised suicide bombing targeting IRGC commanders in Iran’s volatile Sistan va Baluchistan province.

The IRGC navy will also play a key asymmetrical role in the conflict by organising maritime suicide bombings on an industrial scale. By manning its fleet of speedboats with suicide bombers and ramming them into American warships and even neutral commercial shipping, the Pasdaran will hope to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 40 percent of world crude oil supplies pass.

The combination of these asymmetrical forms of warfare with more conventional style missile and even ground force attacks on American bases in the region will likely result in thousands of American military casualties in the space of a few weeks. The IRGC has both the will and wherewithal to inflict a level of casualties on American armed forces not seen since the Second World War.

Even if the United States manages to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and much of the country’s military assets, the IRGC can still claim victory by claiming to have given the Americans a bloody nose and producing an outcome not dissimilar from the Israeli-Hezbollah military engagement in the summer of 2006.

The political effect of this will likely be even more explosive than the actual fighting. Not only will it awaken the sleeping giant of Iranian nationalism, thus aligning the broad mass of the people with the regime, it will also shore up Iran’s image in the region and prove once and for all that the Islamic Republic is prepared to fight to the death to uphold its principles. Suddenly Iran’s allies in the region – particularly non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas – would stand ten feet tall.

Ironically U.S. military aggression will likely accelerate the actualisation of the very scenario that American political and military leaders insist they are determined to prevent, i.e. a nuclear armed Iran. Even if we accept the contentious proposition that Iran’s nuclear programme has a military dimension, the immediate reaction of Iran’s rulers to military aggression would be to start a crash programme to produce a nuclear weapon, as a means of deterring future aggression.

Contrary to what Mike Mullen and other American military commanders appear to believe, a military attack on Iran really is the very worst option. Its consequences for Iran, the region and the United States are dangerously unpredictable, to the extent that any decision to attack would be nothing less than stunningly reckless and quite possibly the worst strategic mistake in American military history. Responsible actors in the international system should exert the maximum effort to avoid an Iranian-American War.

Mahan Abedin is a Middle East analyst.

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Responses | Print |

46 Responses

  1. Mr. Abedin is over-reacting. Of course the US military has plans for an attack on Iran. It develops plans for a wide range of eventualities. It has plans to stop a tank advance across the northern European plains which hasn’t been a realistic prospect since the 1940s. Having plans does not mean the US has any particular desire for another war in the ME.

    • it also developed, far in advance, plans to invade both iraq and afghanistan…

    • The difference between having a plan hidden somewhere in a desk drawer and talking publicly to journalists about it is huge! So no, I don’t think Mr. Abedin is over-reacting. Wearing a gun in a holster (so that everybody will see I’m armed) and carrying it with me hidden under my clothes (“just in case”) is a totally different thing…

  2. I think Abedin’s analysis holds true so long as the United States can be expected to refrain from a nuclear first strike, but the demonstrated contempt of the Americans for the lives of anybody but Americans and perhaps Europeans makes this a dicey bet.

    Consider the hysteria over the deaths of 3000 Americans on 9/11/2001, in contrast to the total indifference to the deaths of the same number of Panamanians in Chorillo in 1989, or the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children acknowledged on Sixty Minutes by Madeleine Albright in 1996. Who cares about any of that?

    The hopeful thing is that mass murder by nuclear bombs is less sneaky than other ways, such as the disease and starvation employed against the children of Iraq. The PR considerations have had some deterrent value, and will to some degree going forward. But if the Americans become truly desperate, the United States has not refused for 65 years to forswear first use of nuclear weapons for a reason. Hence Iran must calibrate its response in such a way that strategic retreat remains more tolerable to the United States than nuking Iranian cities.

    I wonder what Mr. Abedin’s thoughts may be on this question.

  3. I am glad for the clarity of this article.

    I am appalled that rather than dealing with the current war crimes against Gaza, the reality of the ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Jerusalem against Palestinians, as well as against Bedouins in the Negev… we magnify the ‘problems’ of Iran.

    We have real and on-going crimes that need international intervention. They are in Israel.

  4. Very insightful article and very much needed in this times. While the Islamic Republic’s regime is not as popular as it used to be among its population, we can predict Iranians will stand together if a war starts, just like during the Iran-Iraq war. Nevertheless, I feel the regionalist, and sometimes separatist, movements inside Iran (Balochi, Azeri, Kurdish…) are not properly adressed anywhere, and dismissed as “minoritariy”. What is the role these movements are going to play in Iran’s future, and particularly in case of conflict?

  5. I agree with the above analysis.

    I’m not sure, however, that Iran will use a US attack as the justification for building nuclear weapons. The reason is the calculus that Iran is using now to NOT build nuclear weapons – that it will only hurt it regional influence and be unable to really deter either the US or Israel – will continue to hold true even if Iran develops one or a dozen nuclear weapons.

    The issue of nuclear weapons efficacy depends on either having the ability to deliver city busters to your primary enemies, or the ability to conduct a second-strike. The US has the former, and both Israel and the US have the latter. Iran is unlikely to have either for at least ten years, and even more so if it is under continual air bombardment for much of that time.

    So I believe Iran will continue to view Fourth Gen asymmetric warfare as its primary mode of retaliation rather than expend its limited resources on a complicated plan to develop nuclear weapons.

    However, there is one possibility that must be considered: if either the US or Israel USES nuclear weapons on Iran, whether tactical or strategic level weapons, Iran may indeed be forced to try to develop a covert nuclear weapon which could be delivered into Israel or the US by covert means. Iran will not deliver this weapon by missiles or aircraft, but by smuggling. So if Tehran is destroyed by a nuclear weapon, I think we can count on Iran somehow managing to produce a nuke and using it to destroy Tel Aviv or Washington.

    A nuclear weapons program is not in Iran’s best interests whether or not it is attacked by the US. But if a country attacks Iran with nuclear weapons, nuclear TERRORISM would be an appropriate response.

    The easiest way to do that would be to procure a nuke from Russian stocks, or Pakistani stocks, or Chinese stocks – or even Israeli stocks. Military security is an oxymoron, and it would be quite possible to do this, by stealth or bribery.

  6. To say that the lasting standoff with Iran “…has continuously opened up a wide range of… economic benefits” is absurd.

  7. .
    I admit that I don’t know much about maritime warfare, whether littoral or blue water.

    But I do not believe that US Navy vessels are really vulnerable to speedboat suicide bombers. There’s a layered defense around any US Navy vessel in the Hormuz Straits, from AWACS down to the Aegis mini-gun.

    I’m pretty sure that the only ways that the Guards of the Revolution can strike these vessels are either with missiles, which can be made hard to shoot down, or command-detonated mines on the seabed. The US Navy can detect almost any mine floating between the seabed and the surface.
    Problem for the Pasdaran maritime forces is that ships can sail in and out of the Gulf and never come within 250 feet of the seabed. I don’t know of any mine that can damage a ship 250 feet above, and some distance to the side.

    IF they’re thinking of suicide mini-subs, those can be detected from the air pretty easily.

    So they are pretty much limited to attacking commercial vessels, it seems to me.

    p.s.: I thought that only US Intelligence Agencies referred to them as the “IRGC.” That acronym stands for “Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps,” which is not that similar to their name.

    • In WWII the USA deployed its submarines exclusively against Japanese merchant shipping, and the results were devastating to Japan’s economy. Concerted attacks, or even sporadic attacks, against oil tankers passing through the Straits of Hormuz could cut off 40% of the world’s flow of oil.

      If Iran can accomplish that, why does it need to attack naval vessels?

      And I suspect that you, like the US admirals, are severely over-estimating the efficacy of the US Navy against small high-speed surface threats. Expensive high-tech weapons have a history of looking great at the manufacturer’s demonstration, and then failing miserably in the field. Particularly when employed against threats other than those which such weapons were designed to deal with. For example, that mini-gun you are touting was originally named CIWS for Close-In Weapon System. Except the sailors said that acronym stood for Captain, It Won’t Shoot.

  8. and once again, should there be another bloodbath war, in which the US military is brought in to do the air and ground fighting, young mens names, such as Kristol, Krauthammer, Fox, Goldberg, Cohen, Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz will not be showing up on the list of KIA.
    No, every night the sons and daughters of the above mentioned will be slipping in between those cool, clean white sheets in mom and dads home,dreaming of the day when they can influence a nation to fight a proxy war for Israel.

  9. The article fails to point out that this horrific scenario involving
    thousands of casualties, many American, is exactly what is
    desired by the neo-conservatives, who will then argue, probably successfully
    that there is “no alternative” to all out war with Iran.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers…” but what can be said about people actively
    working to start a major conflict?

    • Nick you ask, “what can be said about people actively working to start a major conflict?”

      How about, “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” ?

  10. But what would such a war do to the balance of power in US domestic politics? I think it would complete both the emasculation of the Obama presidency and the shift towards an openly authoritarian system centred on the familiar military-industrial-security interests. If the US body count is as you say, the post 9-11 madness would be nothing by comparison.

  11. Three additional points. The large oil refining and shipping facilities along the Persian Gulf are ready targets for Iranian missile strikes. While there are political considerations affecting attacks on these one could imagine strikes intended to disrupt access to oil. Second, large sectors of the the population across the Middle East will note that it is Islamic Iran which stands up to the US, not their own compromised rulers. The entire region will become increasingly hostile not only to the US but toward their own governments. Third, Iran does not really need nuclear weapons that go “BOOM” to create a major challenge to the US and Israel. Load rockets with radioactive particulates and simply dump them on US military bases and Israeli urban centers. No physical destruction but a horrific health challenge.

  12. I am completely puzzled by this analysis. I assume that the entire idea of a limited attack on Iran is to provoke Iranian attacks on American forces and assets. Then, bloody shirt in hand we will be free to massively attack from the air Tehran and other cities with spill over into unrestrained attacks and violence against any Muslim ‘enemy’ anywhere in the world.

    If America cannot ‘win’ in Afghanistan or Iraq then American politics demands that somebody pay. The Iranians without any friends anywhere in the world will take the brunt of the punishment. By having a state actor instead of stateless terrorists as the enemy a victory of sorts can be crafted by massively damaging a nation, Iran.

    A number of American deaths at the hands of Iran would provide backward justification for the previous wars and the torture and everything else that has gone under the rubic of the war on terror.

    A sudden oil price spike would provide political cover for continued economic weakness and motivation for massive monetary stimulus.

  13. Limited War has a strange and rather short history,as it was actually practiced. It requires the consent of all co-belligerents. No such consensus exists between the U.S. and Iran. Once started the violence will spiral out of control. If that happens, history will condemn the mad fools on the Potomac.

  14. We are at once giving Iran a plausible rationale for a Manhattan Project, while at the same time daring (and hoping for) them to start one.

    With the counter insurgency tactics and paraphernalia faltering in Afghanistan, and Iraq’s disappearing demand for US war fighting activities, attacking and warring with Iran gives the military-industrial-complex justification for new hardware, more planes, bigger bombs, and, of course, more inflation of the intelligence community.

    War, as far as the US is concerned, is no longer “hell” – it’s now “swell”. Just like sharks have to keep swimming for their gill to work, the MIC must keep warring to maintain its health. I’m sure the plans for North Korea are in their umpteenth revision.

    The Nobel Peace Prize committee members must be so embarrassed that they wear burkas whenever they leave home. Its becoming clear that Obama’s comfort zone is within the Pentagon, and any expectation of humanistic tendencies are for naught.

  15. It’s well known that the Pentagon has plans for war with probably every country and definitely every region on earth. What’s important is that someone of Mullin’s position said it out loud. But how much was his saber rattling aimed at Iran? No doubt some, but the current Administration isn’t totally whacko like the last; they know that ‘limited war’ could quickly become unlimited in ways they can’t predict or control. I wonder if Mullin’s comments weren’t more for Israel’s leadership, to say to them, “we’re in charge here.” Israel’s right-wing leadership has been itching to pull the trigger. Part of letting them know that’s not acceptable is by preempting them, doing one’s own saber rattling.

    In any case, there’s a lot to be said for the Iranian leadership to put aside its religious qualms and actually develop nuclear weapons. It’s worked for the North Koreans, among others.

  16. Well his statement isn’t at all shocking. He would be derelict in his duties if he didn’t have a plan. The Pentagon has hundreds of plans for all sorts of likely or unlikely scenarios on the shelf.

  17. Here we go again….

    Mr. Abedin immediately acknowledges the conventional wisdom, but brushes by the reality that is occassionally correct. Certainly it is foolish to believe the course of events have ever been maintained by rationality for any extended period, but for a war scenario to emerge along these lines implies a world that is far scarier than the prospect of a lot of people getting killed, the price of oil skyrocketing, and America having once again stepped in deep poo-poo.

    There was plenty of skepticism about WMD in Iraq or whether our attack was in our national interest, but it was stampeded by yet to be discredited neo-cons who were able to make the ultimately unbeatable argrument that Iraq not having them was a risk we could not afford to take.

    The neo-cons had a larger agenda, but we’re talking here about gaining the support to do the deed. And for that rather lame case to stick it took serious and deliberate deceit, a president who was a empty suit, and the fact the US could not conceive being hamstrung by two failing wars a few years later. We are now in a different world.

    The “conventional wisdom”, as derided, is sound. These latest pronouncements are simple, easy and cheap posturing. Through them everyone gets what they want, even Israel. Nothing would be gained by Israel, even if they did have the power to manipulate the US into participating in some hair-brained some plot to (having now won in Iraq) move on to “defang” Iran.

    The bad news is these things don’t seem to always happen for rational reasons. But there is too much hard-won experience and better wisdom now in place to stop it from happening as it did in 2002/2003. If the US does manufacture some excuse, or Tonkin gulf event, or Israel somehow drags us into it as an indirect response to some act Israel takes against Hezbollah, it will be a proof that the US has lost control of its own foreign policy.

    The author is staking out a prospect that is ultimately rather breathtaking.

  18. Interesting post, but I wonder if the IRGC has any kind of understanding of how brutal the assault will be if and when it comes. The US and Israel will have complete air superiority, they will have access to an unlimited number of the very latest cruise missiles, bunker busters etc. They can see every square millimieter of Iranian territory and everything that moves anywhere in Iran.

    The US will be vulnerable in Afghanistan to be sure, but the cost to Iran will truly be astronomical. I assume that the US would target the regime and I think that it is quite possible that the regime may end up in a cave somewhere, not unlike Mulla Omar in Afghanistan.

    So yes, a US attack would be costly for the US and the world, but it could very well topple the regime. I don’t think we can assume that today’s well-educated Iranians are automatically ready to die for the mullas.

    At least that is probably the view from Washington.

    • The US had that kind of air superiority over Kosovo in 1999. The Serbs had over 100 tanks in Kosovo that were targeted by NATO. After the bombing campaign, the final estimate is that the Serbs did not lose a single functional tank, they were all successfully hidden. Also the Israelis had total air superiority in 2006, S. Lebanon. Airpower was totally ineffective against trained combatants.

  19. Contrary to what Mike Mullen and other American military commanders appear to believe, a military attack on Iran really is the very worst option.

    But Gwynne Dyer concludes:

    The end would be an embarrassing retreat by the US, and the definitive establishment of Iran as the dominant power of the Gulf region.

    That was the outcome of every war-game the Pentagon played, and Mike Mullen knows it. So there is a plan for an attack on Iran, but he would probably rather resign than put it into action. It is all bluff. It always was.

  20. Any military assault by either of the Washington/Tel Aviv axis of evil upon Iran will have far reaching and self-inflicted consequences upon the attackers. The most far reaching consequence will be the uniting of all powers against the power of the US; any agreement similar to the attack on one being an attack on all as provided by NATO (OTAN) treaties assures that the end of US military hegemony is occurring. The next consequence will be the exploration and analysis of every weakness the US presents, utilizing those weaknesses to undermine and negate the remaining power of the US. Every economic weakness will be used to deplete and drain US power. Great care will be taken to see that there is no recovery of any economic basis from which the US is able to exercise power again. The Gulliver effect will relegate the US to third world status if not dismember the country into regional states incapable of doing great harm. The ambition to empire by Washington will be destroyed, one way or another, the factotum in Tel Aviv, having alienated all surrounding entities will disappear from, as the saying goes, the pages of history. The price of enmity created by belief in foolish lies.

  21. The US has contingency plans for everything–probably including an invasion of Canada. The existence of these plans does not imply any intent to use them.

  22. You are right. The American leadership would never have studied and prepared a counter to the Iranian moves. Your biased reporting aside, how about evaluating the American preparedness against the Iranian plans? Your article has little depth and shows a complete lack of objectivity.

    Other than that, it’s a great article.

  23. There’s nothing particularly unusual about the US having a contingency plan to attack Iran. The Pentagon has contingency plans to do just about anything. There’s probably a contingency plan for invading Mexico. There’s certainly one for invading Cuba.

    Talking in public about this kind of plan, however, is another matter.

  24. Even today it remains unlikely that the US will attack Iran, Obama has decided he doesn’t want to do that. However, being unlikely, just means that the odds of it happening are less than .5. I think any serious game theory player would have to estimate that the chances for war are uncomfortably high, at least at .1 or so. There is the very real danger that events will spin out of control and, irrespective of what Obama desires, war will break out. Every verbal threat and enhanced sanctions and especially bluffs by us to the Iranians that we really are ready to attack have the unfortunate outcome of creating a scenario where events do spin out of control.

    Our government might just be playing games here, but it is playing a very dangerous one.

  25. The real effects of US/Obama foreign policy:
    Aug 6, 2010 Christian Science Monitor excerpt:
    A new poll of Arab opinion finds that for the first time a majority of the public across the region – including a sizable minority in Saudi Arabia – believes a nuclear-armed Iran would be a positive development in the Middle East.
    The portion of the Arab population thinking that way has doubled since a similar survey a year ago, in part because of huge majorities this year in Egypt and Morocco. Egypt, which makes up a quarter of the Arab world, was not in last year’s survey.
    The findings, however, say less about a change in Arab opinions of Iran than they do about a change in opinions about another country, say the organizers of the 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll: Arabs have soured on the United States of Barack Obama.
    The poll finds that Arabs have traded in last year’s “wait-and-see” attitude toward the new American president in favor of something much more negative, and the support for Iran is, in many ways, being seen as one part of that anger.
    “What this poll reveals is a backlash against the United States, reflecting the loss of hope that people had in what they thought were to be the policies of the new President Obama,” says Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland Middle East expert, who conducted the poll with the polling firm Zogby International. “It’s really people venting by supporting ‘the enemy of my enemy.’”

  26. You are going to see real terrorism inside America, if Iran is attacked.

    Sorry, but that is a reality people hav e to face.

  27. Of course the U.S. has plans for an attack on Iran. Let’s hope that they are realistic, as well. We need them, just for the small chance that Iran goes utterly crazy and forces us to attack them. You only need look at the Israeli-Lebanon war to see the folly of having either no plans or bad plans in the case of war (I don’t know which was the case, but it is clear the IDF did not have good plans).

    The real question is: why it was announced that we have these plans?

  28. I’d hate to see war come to Iran, and I agree the Iranians won’t set idle why their nuke facilities are blasted from the air.

    There is a real easy way to avoid all this, Iranian full cooperation with UN weapon inspections. Nothing to hide, no games.

    If they don’t, the Israeli’s, regardless of the American’s are either going to pop Iran directly, or pop Syria/Lebanon or both.

    I think the author also misjudges the American response if thousands of American servicemen are killed. Every NASCAR/NRA fan would be screaming for blood. Jihad, meet Crusade. Crusade, meet tactical nuclear weapons. World, meet Armageddon (or at least Psalm 81 and Ezekiel 38).

    “It’s a giant sh*t sandwich, and we are all gonna have to take a bite.” – Full Metal Jacket

  29. Those who dismiss Mullen’s statement about having a plan to attack Iran are completely missing the point.

    EVERYBODY KNOWS the US has “contingency plans”. There is a DIFFERENCE between a “contingency plan” and an “operational plan”. What Mullen was saying is they have an OPERATIONAL PLAN – i.e., a specific plan to attack Iran which they are continually updating and from which they are moving assets around the world to places like Diego Garcia in preparation for initiating that plan as soon as the President gives the green light.

    People need to read this article:

    Focus U.S.A. / Will Israel really attack Iran within a year?
    link to haaretz.com


    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told New York Times reporters this week: “Based on my conversations with allies, it’s not so much the timing of when or how the Iranians might pursue the nuclear weapons, it’s whether they do so. ”

    End Quote

    In other words, the US doesn’t care when or how Iranians might have a “breakout capability”, it’s about the US has already DECIDED that Iran DOES have a nuclear weapons program and therefore military action WILL be taken if Iran does not stop doing something IT IS NOT DOING!

    The article also states:


    Israel is trying to convey the message not only through the official channels – Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin visited Chicago recently to meet with the billionaire Lester Crown, one of Obama’s supporters, and asked to him to convey Israel’s concerns to the American President, Goldberg reports.

    End Quote

    No where has the Israeli control over the US government been more blatantly presented than in this sentence! An Israeli intelligence officer goes DIRECTLY to one of the men who pulls Obama’s strings!

    And then there’s this:


    David Sanger, the New York Times reporter, heard from the White House sources that during his latest visit to Washington Netanyahu didn’t list Iran as one of his top agenda items “whereas at the previous meetings when he has come here, [Iran] was the number one, two, and three issue,” on the agenda, which might indicate that Netanyahu got some clear reassurances from the U.S. administration.

    End Quote

    Which means Obama told Netanyahu that, yes, the US WILL attack Iran, just be patient until Obama can finagle a way to start the war.

    People who don’t understand that the entire Iran “crisis” is bogus from the get-go, just like Iraq’s “WMDs”, just don’t get that the US has already decided to start a war with Iran, it’s just a matter of ginning up the justification, then ramping up the sanctions, then declaring “gee, we don’t have any choice”.

    And with over fifty percent of the US electorate convinced Iran does have a nuclear weapons program, and believing that Israel would be justified in attacking Iran, it won’t be hard to get one started., either by Israel or the US.

  30. Israel and USA have to dominate the region and the world, but if they really attack Iran, when they cannot pretend there is a threat to them, then let us hope this article is right. USA and Israel do not provide a sound basis for running the whole world, and if they would try diplomacy, fairness and democracy for a change, wht a different world it would be.

  31. The American people are sick of these wars. If US leadership decides to start yet another fruitless, expensive war during this time of economic hardship, there will certainly be wide spread riots and maybe even a revolution.

  32. The best thing on here is the link to Gwynne Dyer’s article Gwynne Dyer concludes: which shows that the US military has wargamed this over and over, and we always lose.

    The reason is simple; Iran can inflict more damage on the US than vice versa (assuming the US does not go to nuclear war).

    Iran can stop half of all global oil exports, and stop it for an indefinite period of time. Remember, if they have provided Hezbollah with 45,000 rockets in Lebanon, imagine what they have hidden in caves along their long coastline along the Persian Gulf.

    Furthermore, Iran could pre-position suicide speedboats along the various chokepoints, along the South Asian coast, and all around the African continent, including North Africa, facing the Mediterranean. And why not a few in the Caribbean, to intercept tankers from Venezuela?

    The world’s economy would crash, and as the US strategic petroleum reserve depleted, we’d be cringing as the vaunted “American way of life” came closer to complete collapse.

    This is not to say war is unthinkable. It might be inevitable — as were the events of August 1914 which destroyed the European way of life.

    And if Israel launches a strike instead of the US, Iran may consider it to be a distinction without a difference, and the resulting war may well be the same.

    You might consider learning to grow your own food, no matter where you live ….

  33. W.B Yeats

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  34. Dear Dr. Cole:

    Scarce can believe fetishits for force in Israel and/or US would consider armed attack against Iran because of possible negative strategic consequences and huge tactical disadvantages. <a href="link to tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com;

    While US miltary doctrine embraces asymmetrical warfare, few realize it cuts both ways, witness insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Iran has low tech options to stop shipment of oil through Straits of Hormuz and might even have cruise missiles that could threaten US capital ships.

    “You need a busload of faith to get by.” Lou Reed


    Dan Hill

  35. Reality check: In ww2 the Japanese tried purpose-built suicide speedboats, etc. without significant success. Suicide aircraft were effective, but are unlikely to work now. E.g., good luck in even getting airborn.

    Antiship GM’s and guided torpedos seem to be the greatest threat to US forces in narrow persian gulf waters. But these can be minimized by taking out installations, wrecking command and control, etc.. Likewise, it will prove extremely difficult for Iran to defend its Persian gulf coast against amphibious assault. First thing to go would be all those islands, etc. at the mouth of the gulf and anywhere else that might provide a base for attack.

    Simply keep naval forces out of the Gulf until all threats are neutralized, which probably would not be long. Even if you get lucky, modern supercarriers are much more damage resistant than were ww2 carriers.

  36. Given that all this is hypothetical at the moment, I think one thing should be pointed out to any red-blooded patriotic support-the-troops American – an attack on a fueled nuclear reactor is likely to spill radioactive uranium dust on US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, or along the western shores of the Persian Gulf, depending on the wind’s direction.

    In soccer terms, an own goal.

    Quite apart from that, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons tends to accelerate the additions to the nuclear club. During the East Pakistan/Bangladeshi War of Independence, the USS Enterprise aka the USS Corporate Welfare and its task group were sent to patrol the Bay of Bengal as a “message” to India; a nuclear message to India, an existential threat.

    Various parties in the Indian Federal Parliament took exception to that, and used it as a major reason why India should join the nuclear club.

    So, on one hand, we have the Israelis threatening the lives of US troops with radioactive nuclear waste they are threatening to disperse upon US deployments – and believe you me, the Israelis are not dumb-f***ks, they know that is a major consequence; on the other hand, the Israelis and the dumb-f***ks pushing for war with Iran know quite well this will bring the accession of Iran, probably Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey, to the nuclear club – thus violating the US Constitution concerning treaties – such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty – being the supreme law of the land.

  37. […] There is no room for ‘ambivalence’ here, especially of the Pollack sort that actually leads straight to war. The stupidity of an air raid on Iran is easy for the clear-eyed to see. There is no evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons program as opposed to a civilian nuclear energy program. The centrifuge technology being used can be dispersed and an air strike is likely to be only a minor setback in the program. And, Iran is a major country of 70 million with extensive petroleum and gas resources. It has means of replying to any attack that can be subtle and effective. Mahan Abedin showed here recently how there can be no ‘limited war’ against Iran. […]

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