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Gnomemoot 0: how bad could Iran get?

by Colman Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:17:44 AM EST

Let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that we accept that the Bush Administration has decided that military action in Iran is necessary to achieve aims of the power groups in the ascendant in the US.

How bad could the situation get? In Iraq it seemed that the worst case was a descent into civil war and break-up into several states with maybe some side conflicts. In Iran, I'm afraid the worst case could be much worse.

Three questions:

  1. Who would be involved in military action? What action could be taken? Where would it be based from?
  2. What would the responses be?
  3. What would the wider geo-political consequences be? How far would they spread?


Display:
. on his visit to Iraq with Condi, called today for "a strong leader who can unite Iraq"

Like Saddam, Jack?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:39:52 AM EST
I don't even want to talk about the Iraq clusterfuck any more.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:41:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you want to imagine the Iran clusterfuck? I just want to clawl under a rock, man.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:44:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least in that case it's still fictional.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I want to discuss fiction, I prefer things like these.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:16:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Channeling...

Daniel Pipes: A Strongman for Iraq? (New York Post April 28, 2003)

Democratically-minded autocrats can guide the country to full democracy better than snap elections.

Therefore: Iraq needs - and I write these words with some trepidation - a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:43:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worked so well then, too.

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 08:39:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US stepped on a bear-trap in Iraq. If they invade Iran (and I agree the neo-cons are stupid enough to be thinking of it) the iraqi shia will surely rise up in insurrection against the occupation. I doubt Sistani could hold Al-Sadr back, even if he wanted to.

With potentially millions of combatants on the street, 10s of 1000s of American troops would be effectively captured and disarmed within hours. That would be a hostage crisis to end all hostage crises.

Such an action would effectively end the US military presence in the Middle East and would spell BIG trouble for Israel.

The overall geo-political consequences of that are impossible to calculate.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:46:25 AM EST
The US stepped into their own bear trap, then got mauled by the bear.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How bad can Iran get? Multiply Iraq by three.

Re 1: Palau and Mikronesia would support the US. I am not sure about Britain. How long will Tony Blair still be PM?

Re 2: The Wash Post speculates about terrorism as a response.

Re 3: The US does not have the capacities for regime change. Air strikes will only delay the Iranian nuclear program.
Unfortunately nobody seems to notice that Saudi Arabia has been working on nukes since the mid nineties: Saudis, with Pakistani help, working on nuclear programme.


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 06:54:05 AM EST
Only three times worse? You're the first optimist I've seen all day.

  1. I imagine Tony will support them but not with direct forces. Maybe some  support units or something.

  2. I'm more interested in what happens if the Iranians aren't bluffing about their anti-ship capabilities. What happens if the US loses a carrier and/or some other big ships?

  3. Regime change could happen: it might just not be the change the US would like. Part of the point of the rhetoric in Iran is that everyones favourite President is campaigning to get his allies onto the council that elects the Supreme Leader (more or less).
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. How about Diego Garcia?
  2. Terrorism is a bogeyman. Just sink a derelict tanker in the Hormuz Straits, and sit back.
  3. (sigh)


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that there are no existing chapter 7 resolutions against Iran, that there is no prospect of the UNSC authorising military action and that the Iranians are not stupid enough to pre-empt, then any US attack on Iran will be an unambiguous act of aggression that constitutes a war crime under all current IL definitions. There is no possibility of an AG fudge based on prior UN resolutions on this - and any and all UK politicians, military officials and bureaucrats who assist would be in legal jeapordy - and there are plenty of hot-shot IL lawyers who would be itching to take them to court ( given current UK legislation, this is possible ). Politically, I suspect that it would be the downfall of Blair - whether he was complicit or not - as there are 8,000 British troops in Southern Iraq who would disappear into the sands in the aftermath of this; MoD field commanders are known to be worried about this scenario, and they are no doubt making some pretty serious threats in private.

The UK will not be in a position to lift a finger to help - this means that use of Diego Garcia and Fairford would be denied.

Put bluntly, the US will be doing this solo - and it will be undertaken from wholly-owned US territory or naval units in international waters. They cannot advise their allies in the region of specifics, as the Iranians will know within 5 minutes of the notification. There will be serious internal political pressure on all the US's Gulf allies to come out in condemnation - and this probably will not be enough to forestall the likelihood of some serious civil disturbances in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The Iranians will retaliate - rapidly. Their best chance of "winning" is in making the problem larger as quickly as possible. So there will be missile attacks against every US military installation in the Gulf region, followed up by special forces actions, and there will be a concerted attempt to sink as many US naval assets as they can. Considering that they're probably capable of mounting coordinated air-sea-land missile attacks using exocets, silkworms and sunburns launched in packages, then they pose a credible threat to US naval platforms.

The moment that a "hot" war erupts all tanker traffic through the Straits will cease - no shipping owner is going to risk a vessel knowing that his insurers will invoke war risks exemption clauses in the event of it being sunk in crossfire. This alone will have the Europeans and the Asians twisting arms to get the US and Iran to call a cease-fire and start negotiating.

If the Iranians have the guts to go for it, they will take Basra ( 10 mullahs and a sound truck )and use it as a launching point for an attack on the US logistics platform in Kuwait; their proxies and allies in Baghdad, Diyala and the Shia south will put the US military in Iraq under enough pressure to ensure that the "Kuwait" gambit is achievable. The introduction of MANPADS and stand-off anti-armour weaponry into the Iraqi theatre ( and the Iranians have loads of this kind of kit ) should tip the military balance in their favour. They're also quite likely to start lobbing missiles into US bases in Iraq - and if the US were to use a nuclear device they would use chemical warheads in retaliation.

Considering that the US was unable to effect regime change in Iraq, in spite of a decisive military victory in 1991, fomenting a large-scale uprising, no-fly zones and punitive sanctions, it is unlikely to provoke regime change in Iran, which, whilst authoritarian and unpopular, has a far greater degree of popular legitimacy than Iraq ever had.

by londanium on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 10:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds about right to me. Sadly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 11:14:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. US airstrikes + missile strikes, probably with UK participation and Israel support. France's position at this point is a real mystery to me. I still expect France not to support military strikes. Violent reaction from Russia and China (in fact, the only thing that I think can prevent attacks is backchannel diplomacy of the most vigorous kind by the Chinese telling the Americans that they will dump dollars on the market if they attack).

  2. Iranian reaction: (i) a call for jihad agaisnt all American intersts everywhere (ii) an oil embargo (excluding, in all likelihood, China) and (iii) some form of blockade of Hormuz Straits (or the sinking of a supertanker, possibly disguised as an accident)

  3. Cataclysmic. Oil at several hundred dollars per barrel. Market meltdown. Rationing to start within a few days. And depending on how the war rhetoric plays in the US, an escalation of the war, or a constitutional crisis (an actual impeachment of Bush).


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:06:31 AM EST
If the question is HOW BAD COULD IT GET?  Then you're being way to gentle, Jerome, I think.  If the question is WHAT IS MOST LIKELY, then I think you're about right.  But . . . how bad COULD it get?  It could get this bad:

(1)   U.S. bunker-buster missles.  Tactical nukes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

(2)  Total disaster.  Russia responds, along with China.  India retaliates against Russia.  Russia launches at U.S.  U.S. responds.

(3)  Bye, bye life.  Bye, bye happiness.  Hello, loneliness.  I think I'm gonna die.

Do I think that scenario is likely?  No, I don't.  But if the question is how bad COULD it get . . . welcome to the Doomsday Clock.

by RadiumSoda on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:24:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is that: I've been trying to avoid the end-of-the-world scenario but it's certainly lurking in the wings as a possibility.

Welcome to EuroTrib.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:26:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Over at Dailykos I use the s/n "LithiumCola," in case that rings a bell.  I appreciate the welcome.
by RadiumSoda on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent! Good to see you around these parts.
And nice names you have...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 02:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And here's a bottle for your radium soda, link courtesy of the Great Radium Spring Water Co, Inc, Pittsfield, Mass. Well, it was for nice, healthful radium water, actually.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 06:34:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...of Bush possibility makes me almost welcome an attack on Iran. But isn't there anyway besides waiting another 1020 days to get of Bush besides killing thousands or tens of thousands of Iranians?
by Meteor Blades (Meteor Blades) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 03:36:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. US with cosmetic UK support forces and covert Israeli support. Assorted air-strikes, first peeling away air and sea defence then hitting the nuclear sites, other military sites and "centres of regime power".

  2. If Iran is going to mount a conventional military response it has to do so immediately: strikes against US forces in the gulf and in Iraq. If they wait any length of time their ability to strike will be degraded beyond usefulness. They either use all their toys right away or they lose them over a week or so. If they're successful the US loses a couple of ships, possibly big ships. How will the US react to hundreds or thousands of military casualties overnight? Tactical nuclear strikes? Carpet bombing?

The non-conventional responses could also be entertaining: Iraq goes up in flames, Israel is in for a rough ride and US and other Western targets could be attacked anywhere.

3. This one is fun. Regionally it's hard to say: could range from Islamist revolutions in multiple places to not much. The Iranians are Shia and non-Arab on one hand, on the other they're fellow Muslims. Even the Iraqi Shia didn't like the Iranians much until recently as far as I understand it.

The US reactions range from standing behind the President in a time of war to investigation and impeachment. Who can tell? Bush and co would be betting on the former and if they have one skill it's getting elected by hook or by crook.

An interesting consequence of Iran burning down Iraq in retaliation is that Bush then gets to blame Iran for the failure in Iraq - "I'd have got away with it too if it weren't for those pesky kids".

It might be the last straw for some European governments as well: the use of Irish facilities by US forces is already an issue and if there was a reaction against another war that sort of low-level support might well be withdrawn: there's an election coming up.

How would Europe's Muslim and anti-War populations react? If the UK supports a war against general EU feeling what affect does that have?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:23:50 AM EST
We're pretty close. But you don't mention the economic fallout, which I cannot help seeing as the single most important thing.

The iranians sinking an aircraft carrier would actualyl be good news, because it would give a pretext for the anti-war forces in the US to push for an end to insanity at home before the economic costs hits for real.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With their brand new supercavitating torpedo, sinking a couple of US ships is not out of the question.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And even before, it was quite possible.

The US military likes to try out stuff before doing them:

It all comes out of the "Millenium Challenge '02" war games we staged in the Persian Gulf this summer.
...
The scenario was a US invasion of an unnamed Persian Gulf country (either Iraq or Iran).

But sometimes they don't get the results they want:

With nothing more than a few "small boats and aircraft," van Ripen managed to sink most of the US fleet in the Persian Gulf.

Exile's war nerd tells the story

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 02:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
was a killer link.  

Thanks.  

That the American fleet could, not merely be attacked and fought, but, possibly, sent straight to the bottom, had not crossed my mind.  

I had been focussing merely on the blocking of the strait of Homuz.  

Clearly the Bush team is bluffing, but one imagined it was bluffing with a pair of kings, or at worst two jacks.  

What have they got--two twos and ace high?  They don't have a good enough hand to ante in the game.  

Their only hope is to go nuclear right away.  Is this the plan?  They are crazy enough, and evil enough, but is it?  Or are they merely dumb enough to send the American fleet to the bottom, followed shortly by the remnants of the American economy under the weight of $100/bbl oil?  

Much rethinking to  be done.  The US has no reasonable expectation of surviving this.  

The Bush plan looks more and more like murder/suicide.


The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 08:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To give a context to the 2002 War Games and how they are less straightforward and more emotional than one tends to imagine, he opens:  'When kids play war, they end up spending less time shooting than arguing: "You're dead!" "Am not! You missed!" It just gets worse the bigger the kids. I remember a D & D'er crying when his character got killed -- wouldn't talk to the rest of us for years, still grieving for his dead elf.'

I remember the first time I lost a D & D character.  It was surprisingly upsetting--an emotion I hadn't expected at all.  The backstory is a little complicated.  In a previous adventure, my character, a skilled magician (and an elf, no less) had accidently acquired some magical powers that were . . . delusional. Inevitably, a situation arose where these new powers were just the thing for dealing with a particularly fierce and dangerous giant.  I saw what was coming, and it was only inevitable that she would walk out in front of the giant to use her new powers, with the inevitable result . . .  

Waste of time though it be, I never doubted that D & D could be educational.  


The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 09:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You think that story is OT?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 09:46:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yo should have seen the recruitment ads they made for the US Marines a few years ago. It started with D&D-like scenes, complete with fighting a dragon with a flaming sword, and then the fighter and the sword morphed into a US Marine in dress uniform.

I thought whoa, if that's the kind of psychology they want in their recruits, we're screwed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 09:49:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Iranians sinking an aircraft carrier would be relatively positive if and only if it didn't lead to a "proportional" response from the US. I really wouldn't rule out the "measured" use of nuclear weapons in that scenario.

At that point everything goes to hell. How would the Turks react? Nuking muslims? How would Germany react? Could they continue to host US bases? As ThatBritGuy thinks, that sort of thing could lead to interesting power shifts all over the place.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:43:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US attacks another country on dodgy premises, loses an aircraft carrier and drops a nuke, all geopolitical hell breaks loose.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just wish it was a completely unimaginable scenario.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuking first would be risky.  There are still a lot of missiles on alert in Russia, and Iran was an ally in the cold war days.  And there's always the chance that Iran already has nukes, having bought them from somebody.  I frankly don't see Bush as having enough balls to try that.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:29:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...only reasonable use of nukes is to take out underground facilities. By "reasonable," I mean logical, not moral. What possible military gain other than smashing a bunker or two does hitting Iran with a few nukes serve that conventional weapons wouldn't be as good a job at?
by Meteor Blades (Meteor Blades) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 03:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shock and awe, and mushroom clouds look will look really impressive on CNN.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 05:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The effect of the economic fallout is also unpredictable: it tends to provide fuel for the most populist elements in the various states.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:45:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The iranians sinking an aircraft carrier would actualyl be good news,"

It would be good news for the military-industrial complex since they would get money for a new aircraft carrier.

It would be bad news for everybody else, especially the families of all the servicemen and women killed.

The families of all those who will suffer in the retaliation.


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:13:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course; I did not mean to be flippant. But it would be an opportunity to step back from the brink, a last chance to realize that it's about to switch ireemediably to all-out war.

Or it could of course be the last sting that provokes a massive righteous reaction.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 02:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you think the US is able to step back from all-out war after having an aircraft carrier sunk, I have a bridge to sell you.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 04:43:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2. The non-conventional responses could also be entertaining: Iraq goes up in flames, Israel is in for a rough ride and US and other Western targets could be attacked anywhere.
There is no need for Iran to respond in this way. That "independent actors" would trigger these things is a foregone conclusion IMHO.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:29:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the local political fallout would highlight the fact that Western democracies aren't really democracies now. My take on it is that there's a lot of resentment about this bubbling under the surface on the mainland, and simmering a little less fervently in the UK where people are mostly too debt-happy to care.

But organised action - general strikes, which in an interesting twist might not necessarily be union-led - would have an impact. So ironically if things got messy enough it would mean that the current wingers like Blair and Berlusconi and Chirac would all find themselves out a job.

Unfortunately, this could easily be wishful thinking. It depends how angry and frightened people get, and how easily the politicians could blame outsiders - terror attacks would help them immeasurably - as opposed to having nowhere to hide.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:38:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, since you broach the issue of wishful thinking, and people are proposing all kinds of geopolitical meltdown models, here's mine:

The US joint chiefs of staff refuse Bush's orders.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The repeatedly purged joint chiefs of staff? I fear you'd have to look a level or two down the command structure for help.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:51:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm hoping there is at least one sane, no-nonsense institution left in the US. And the US military is not happy about Iraq.

But, you know, when our best hope is a military coup in the US, we're fucked.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Iranians are Shia and non-Arab on one hand, on the other they're fellow Muslims.

Actually no.

From the ODCI World Fact Book: Iran

Religions:
Shi'a Muslim 89%
Sunni Muslim 9%
Others 2% (Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i)

Languages:
Persian and Persian dialects 58%
Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%
Kurdish 9%
Luri 2%
Balochi 1%
Arabic 1%
Turkish 1%
Other 2%

Ethnic groups:
Persian 51%
Azeri 24%
Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%
Kurd 7%
Arab 3%
Lur 2%
Baloch 2%
Turkmen 2%
Other 1%

There is a small but significant Sunni minority but more importantly, the linguistic and ethnic make-up of Iran is far from uniform.

Now check this article and, if you are a NYT Select subscriber, this one.

I'd tend to think that Americans would try to play on Iran's internal divisions and try to establish a "balance of civil war" between Iran and Iraq: threaten Iran by arming and financing its minorities against the central Persian power if it tries to one up the situation in Iraq. I have no idea if those internal divisions are serious enough to make it work but that wouldn't deter the US from trying, don't you think?
by Francois in Paris on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you: that was lazy of me.

Given the US ability to predict the way the situation in Iraq would work I don't know how well they'd do.

And they're already at the threatening to fund dissidents. Recall that 85M. Think it was for buying tea?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the $85M are mostly for sugar, the main ingredient of tea east of the Bosphorus and west of the Indus :>
by Francois in Paris on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Iranians are Shia and non-Arab on one hand, on the other they're fellow Muslims.
Actually no.
What do you call a country with 89% Shia, 98% Muslim, and 1% Arabic speakers if not "Shia, non-Arab, muslim"?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:37:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touché, Migeru.

I should have written "Actually, much more complex."

Funny how one (I) can get categorical to debunk someone else's categorical statement :S
by Francois in Paris on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:12:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good plan. But I think although Iran has it factions, they seem more unified in their hatred of the US than Iraq ever was. So I'm not sure how deeply the divisions can be exploited.

Also, I don't think the US leadership is bright enough to think of something like this. In the US we're dealing with not so very thoughtful cowboys who prefer killing people and blowing things up. A more subtle destabilisation doesn't seem to fit the house style. The UK could maybe manage it more successfully, but probably doesn't have the resources to do more than foment a few relatively minor incidents.

An easily overlooked motive for Iraq was simply to let Bush strut around pretending to be a warrrr president - and give his dad a poke in the eye. That means obvious war with bombs and fighting and death. Subtle diplomacy that could take a few years to pay off doesn't really fit with that picture.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, dear Briton, you know way more than I do about Iran if you know the relative anti-American and anti-Persian feelings of Iran's minorities.

But I personally know a handful of non-Shia / non-Persian Iranian exiles and, God, how much do they hate the ayatollahs. I've heard some stuff, it's unbelievable. Well, of course, they are exiles so it's a very biased sampling, but it would be the same type of people American politicos would speak to, to get advice on Iran.
by Francois in Paris on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be counting on the Iraq effect.

For some reason collecting up body parts of friends and relatives often seems to turn people into rabid patriots and haters-of-the-enemy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of any way to game this all the way through and leave the US ahead.

I can think of plenty of options which vary from destructive to cataclysmic for the US and - optionally - for the other players too.

I wouldn't be surprised if Russia is playing a subtle game and trying to persuade the US to overreach. A weak US and a weak Iran is a possible win for Russia because Russia's own reserves become a lot more valuable and significant.

Meanwhile there's a point at which IranWar would be a bad thing even for Halliburton, Carlyle and the rest. Bush would likely not survive - possibly literally - beyond that point.  

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:31:54 AM EST
Donning the tinfoil for a minute, is Iran's spanking new torpedo the result of Russian technology transfer?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does seem like it. Most likely simply bought from the Russians.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if they simply bought it, that means that actually have a number of working units, which is bad news for the US Navy.

If it is a home-built prototype, it would be less reliable.

Can I say Exocet?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:44:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The risk from an Exocet is apparently much smaller against modern defence systems. I'm not sure what the simultaneous firing of multiples would do though: might overwhelm defences.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, I mean Exocet as a symbol. The British were hurt very badly by a French state-of-the-art export to what had so far seemed like a "friendly dictatorship".

In this case, the US would be hurt very badly from a Russian export.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Russian Moskit, a sea-skimming, Mach-3, ramjet cruise missile, was designed to defeat modern defense systems. I don't know whether the Russians have been selling them....

Ooops -- "SS-N-22 Sunburn" is another name for the Moskit, and yes, Iran has them. Way more dangerous than Exocets.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 06:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Further searching finds claims that the new US SeaRAM (an anti-missile missile system, developed as a replacement for the Phalanx anti-missile gun system) can defeat the Sunburn. Highly ranked results from Google[ moskit OR sunburn searam] include FreeRepublic and DailyKos, solidly supported by comments posted on several other blogs. I am forced to conclude that the US Navy is safe.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 07:19:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only I cannot think of a scenario where the US ahead, but I cannot even think of scenarios where the high oligarchy is ahead - and that seems to be the only thing these people care about. So I hope that the rational members of the high oligarchy (à la James Baker) will stop the craziest elements.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"High oligarchy". That's a nice phrase.

I agree: I can't see any benefit in this for anyone.

Except ... the Bush administration has a track record of overriding reality based advice in favour of their own plans and schemes.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:54:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
James Baker is papa Bush's consigliere.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:55:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, papa Bush and Baker are exactly who I have in mind when I speak of the rational part of the high oligarchy - those that know that you don't need to go to Baghdad to loot.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The influence of Poppy Bush, Baker, Scowcroft, etc, though several times touted over the past few years, has never come to much. Cheney-Rumsfeld-Dubya call the shots. Not good.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran's capabilities reveal that the country could be a very powerful enemy if it is invaded:
Iran says it has test fired the world's fastest underwater missile during a week of war games in the Gulf, according to reports.
...On Friday, Iran's armed forces said they had successfully test fired a domestically produced missile from land which could evade radar.

Iran's claims

The main question, according to me is, if Iran would lead guerilla warfare like Iraq, or, if it would try to oppose US invasion directly. The outcome, as most of the comments on this diary conclude, will be detrimental for the oil prices'margins, the US reputation, the interrelation between major players, and the status quo in the Middle East.

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel

by Chris on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:07:25 AM EST
We haven't even contemplated invasion. What would they invade with?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:23:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Several scenarios above concern Iran's reaction in case of air strikes (I'm discounting invasion for the moment because there isn't an invasion force ready and because no one is going to join the US in that kind of adventure).

It seems to me we need to know who will actually make the decisions in the Iranian power structure. If it's Ahmadinejad on his own, there's much more chance of all hell breaking loose -- by means, for example, of missiles being used on US Navy vessels, triggering a possible nuke response from America. If it's not Ahmadinejad, or if his influence is curtailed, it might be smarter of Iran to simply block the Straits with an "accidental" tanker sinking and sit back and watch the mess. Especially if they get China onside with promises of oil supplies.

The Iranians could start an economic crisis while painting themselves pure victim colour. (Which, in this case, would be green).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:39:16 AM EST
Who would be involved in military action? What action could be taken?  Where would it be based from?

I'm not sure about who would be involved.  I don't see Blair getting involved without Chirac and Merkel.

Iraq and Afghanistan would seem the logical bases.

What would the responses be?

Iran is probably much more capable of fighting a war than Iraq was under Hussein.  We would be talking about a much more serious conflict, at least in the initial war.  I have no doubt about the US's ability to defeat Iran, but, as with Iraq, it's the aftermath that would be catastrophic.  Our soldiers are not trained to rebuild countries and political systems.  They're trained to win wars.  I think that has been a major issue in Iraq, from the beginning of the invasion in 2003.

What would the wider geo-political consequences be? How far would they spread?

The biggest consequence would be the end of any hope for the US in the cause of winning support from "moderates" -- who they are, I don't know.  That hope is already bordering on the nonexistent, though.  The consequences would be spread worldwide.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:44:08 AM EST
The UK military is reportedly preparing "contingency plans" in the event of a strike on Iran. I don't know whether that means plans for UK intervention, or shit-proof umbrellas.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 08:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or finding a tall building near Basra and trying to thumb a lift from a passing chopper...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:02:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no doubt about the US's ability to defeat Iran,

No doubt, in a sense. But right now, with whose army?

And one look at Iraq should lead you to think twice about the meaning of "defeat"...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on what the meaning of "defeat" is. The US may not have the manpower to occupy the country, but if they want to carpet-bomb, or nuke, it into the stone age, thay certainly can.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...subject to international censure.

And a few choice words from their Saudi allies, who will be wading through fall-out.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:57:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What international censure?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the Chinese would respond with 'Sure, whatever.' Especially considering their own interests.

Russia would likely throw its weight around as well.

But I think there would also be huge demonstrations around the West after a pre-emptive nuclear strike. They might die down after a while, but they might also snowball into something more effective than our beloved leaders have been used to so far.

So... a lot of interests will use pre-emptive nukes as an excuse to kick the US while it seems to be down to promote their own interests. I'm not naive enough to think censure would be for moral reasons. That doesn't mean it wouldn't happen for other reasons.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:16:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So we're depending on Russia and China to do the right thing for the wrong reason. I feel much better now.

Come to think of it, Labour has provided the British people with a very powerful civil disobedience tool:


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:25:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to link to an explanation.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:27:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The meaning of "defeat" was exactly the question I was putting.

Has America "defeated" Iraq? Would carpet-bombing Iran mean "defeating" Iran? It might leave a mess behind, but what would America get out of it?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the goal of the US in Iraq was to install a friendly puppet regime, the US was the one that was defeated.

If, as others have suggested, the goal was to deny Iraqi oil to others, then the US won in Iraq.

If the goal of an attack on Iran is to stop Iran's nuclear program, without regard to the subsequent state of the country or the region, then I don't think "defeat" is a foregone conclusion. If the US does not try to invade, they may not be "defeated".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:21:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're interpreting this in a narrow, Kissinger realpolitik sense. If, after the Iraq clusterfuck, the US goes on to flatten Iran beneath a hail of bombs, I see, in the wider picture (US position in the world and evolution of that position over coming decade or so), only defeat for the US.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I am not so sanguine. I wish after flattening Iran the rest of the not to uncivilised world turns the US into a pariah. An ultimatum not unlike the one about Poland being off-limits after the Sudetenland wouldn't be out of order. A "constitutional" crisis at the UN would also not be out of place:
Article 6
A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
But I think the west will just cower in awe. Who will be the mouse to bell the cat?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's true at government level. I don't know what will happen at the level of the general public.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"would happen", not "will happen".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After 2003 I don't think we matter.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:41:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we still do.

I'm just not sure we've realised how much yet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:24:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we don't matter, let US corporations withdraw to the US. Let American-inspired globalisation give us a break. Let's see how long the US economy spins in the high-debt zone without support from the outside.

You know, Friedman's "Flat Earth" would take on a very different signification after the events we're imagining.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't matter to our own political leaders, and there doesn't seem to be an alternative.

Unless the whole bourgeois democracy we live in is swept away in the geopolitical maelstrom to follow the Iran adventure, I don't see how we matter. And even then, I expect authoritarian navel-gazing to be the order of the day.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:52:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conventional carpet bombing never defeated North Vietnam.  And throwing dozens of nukes around with Pakistan and China downwind seems a bit risky for Bush the chickenshit.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:40:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure about who would be involved.  I don't see Blair getting involved without Chirac and Merkel.

That i think would be the least of Blairs troubles. Before the Iraq adventure, there were protest marches which had in the region of two million people involved. If it was suggested that there was action against Iran without at least one Mullah turning up with a very big bomb, the uk government would be in trouble, regardless of French and German involvement.

Iraq and Afganistan would seem the logical bases.

In what way? to run the Logistical tail of large scale military operations, you need deep water ports to run in large quantities of supplies. Afganistan has no seaports, is mostly at high altitude, and is an ideal place to degrade the combat effectiveness of frontline troops through constant access to high quality drugs. It is also hardly describable as a secure base where troops can retreat to for rest from combat.

Iraq is similar. To access its major deepwater port you have  to run the gauntlet through the narrow chanels of the straights of Hormuz, In theory the best approach for the Iranians here would be to allow a large pert of the US forces in to their Iraqui bases, then blockade the straghts, so that the US army can't retrieve them without a retreat across either Turkey or Saudi.

Iraq really, really isn't a secure place to be running major combat operations from.

Iran is probably much more capable of fighting a war than Iraq was under Hussein.  We would be talking about a much more serious conflict, at least in the initial war.  I have no doubt about the US's ability to defeat Iran, but, as with Iraq, it's the aftermath that would be catastrophic.  Our soldiers are not trained to rebuild countries and political systems.  They're trained to win wars.  I think that has been a major issue in Iraq, from the beginning of the invasion in 2003.

All of the figures that I have seen seem to suggest that the US went into Iraq with about a third of the necessary troops needed to create the necessary levels of security to have succeeded in the initial phases in Iraq. Now Iran has about three times the population, so you would reasonably consider that you would need three times those numbers to effectively hold the country. That's a figure that would require over a million men to be successful.

What would the wider geo-political consequences be? How far would they spread?

How about, Having chosen to use tactical neuclear weapons in cleaning out the Iranian neuclear facilities, the USA is declared a pariah nation by the UN, and an economic embargo is put in place, much of the US economic system colapses as its export market dries up.

rather than firing missiles at Israel, The Iranians, decide that their best option is to use large quantities of missiles to Flatten the  Refining Facilities on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. World oil supplies are cut by 20% for several years.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 07:52:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. (As I have predicted) the military action will involve a pre-emptive nuclear strike (possibly sea-launched or air-launched cruise missiles) against selected nuclear facilities. The effect of the strike will effectively eliminate any research/production capability of Iran, while leaving population centers intact. US will go alone. Israel will never join (they are not stupid).

  2. Iran will angrily talk about the jihad, but their options are limited. The world will be outraged, but their reaction will be surprisingly timid. Increasingly right-leaning Japan will even welcome the attack as demonstration of deterrent against China and DPRK. The Security Council deeply deplores the incident, and calls on all sides to engage in a constructive dialogue toward a peaceful settlement of the matter. Tony and Kofi Anan jointly announce their willingness to get over the past and work together to address the challenge of nuclear proliferation, and call for a new international conference. Condi Rice expresses the sorrow that America was forced to take a military action but is delighted to accept the invitation. After the initial shock, CNN soon begins talking about its positive impact on the ME peace and the oil price now that Iran has been deprived of potential nuclear capabilities.

  3. Somewhere in Pakistan, AQ is debating what should be the target of their nuclear-armed missiles, just purchased from Pakistani army officials....


I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 09:52:51 AM EST
...and now someone's stealing my thunder with all kinds of gloomy forecasts - admiral well-thought and much better than anything I could have laid out.

I feel humbled.

In an effort to regain my title as European Tribune's #1 Cassandra, I have only two thoughts to add:

One, there is the possibility that the US might be goaded into some kind of genocidal retaliation, no matter how illogical and counter-productive. Logic and common sense militates against it but then since when has that applied to madmen?

Two: the elephant in the room that no one seems eager to discuss is retaliation. As I often wrote on Kos' and Gilliard's blogs: you shouldn't think this is over just because WE (or rather the US) say so.

Mark my words: there will be more blood in US streets to come -- this crisis will unfold not unlike the Israel/Palestine conflict, now transplanted in the days of the global village. I trust Osama's promises in this matter far more than I trust Bush's. Give it, I think, another two or three years...

by Lupin on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:21:13 AM EST
Hey, Lupin, if you want more gloom, try this:
Steve Clemons: Feinstein Provision Undermines American Interests
How did America become great? Some would argue that it was indeed great before restless explorers, settlers seeking economic opportunity, and persecuted religious victims and others migrated here -- and I get that point.

But in the last couple of centuries, America became great because it was the single biggest "brain drain" problem for the rest of the world. The smartest and most talented people in the world came to the U.S. to pursue a higher education, escape persecution, or to chase other opportunities -- and where smart, talented people go, so goes wealth creation, social advancement, and the like.

...

A communication from Senator Feinstein's office about this provision reads:

The immigration bill creates a new student visa category for foreign students who will pursue an education here in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology -- fields in great need of graduates in this country.

Senator Feinstein's amendment doubles the application fee from $1,000 to $2,000 and the additional money will be pumped into scholarships and job training for Americans; as well as to combat fraud in the student visa program.

Frankly, we should be doing the opposite of what Feinstein suggests by doubling the application cost for foreign students. America should be promoting foreign student enrollment in public and private U.S. universities to keep America on the positive side of global brain drain realities.
I was under the impression that, when back in 2001 my least favourite Democratic Senator put her foot in her mouth
"I believe that we need a temporary 6-month moratorium on the student visa program to give the INS time to remedy the many problems in the system," said Feinstein. "This may be controversial, but there has to be recognition that this is an unprecedented time in the country and our national security depends on our system functioning to ensure that terrorists do not take advantage of the vulnerabilities in the student visa program."
American universities, including the University of California, her State, had actually made her understand why that was a bad idea. $2000 is enough to price the majority of applicants out of US universities, just as bad as the 6-month moratorium that she was forced to backtrack on.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 10:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good grief! That is really a stupid, stupid, stupid thing to do. Few people remember L'IL ABNER these days, but sometimes when I read about the US, I feel I'm reading about Dogpatch.
by Lupin on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been at DailyKos for about year.  I'm not sure I should be here?  I'm from the U.S., so just tell me to shut up, if it's innappropriate for me to be here.

I've been trying to tell people this for few weeks, but I still sound like a nutcase . . . maybe I am.  But . . .

I absolutely guarentee to you that Bush is going to attack Iran.  If you're asking the question, "Why would Bush attack Iran?"  THEN YOU ARE ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION.  

The correct question is, why would Bush NOT attack Iran?  And the answer is: no reason at all.

Of course, when I say "Bush" I mean "Bushco".  Bush himself is a cut-out for whoever is really doing the work.  Cheney, I guess.  The whole PNAC thing.

I know, I know, this sounds silly.  Just watch.

by RadiumSoda on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:01:06 AM EST
It's not inappropriate for Americans to be here, not at all.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you like what you see here and you feel you can join in, you're in the right place. Welcome.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 11:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is one of the bestest places to haunt; welcome!
by Lupin on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rice is quoted in the Daily Telegraph:Mssile a warning to the West
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "The President doesn't take his options off the table. We are committed to a diplomatic course because we very much believe that a diplomatic course can work."
There is not much question though that the level of concern about Iran is rising rapidly in the US, and comments are beginning to cross party lines:
"I think we have to recognise that this Iranian issue does represent a real threat to the United States," Senator Chuck Hagel said.

Senator Evan Bayh warned Iran would also retaliate against an attack by cutting the oil flow from the Persian Gulf.

"There are all sorts of practical and adverse consequences to using military force," he said.

"But the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran, the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world, are just as, if not more, grave."

I wonder if any of us would have projected Iran's high level of provocation when we started Gnomemoot 0?  
It was the second provocative test in three days in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Iran claimed its new torpedo, dubbed the "whale" or "hoot," can travel at 360km/h, evade radar and destroy large ships and submarines.

"It has a very powerful warhead designed to hit big submarines," Iranian General Ali Fadavi said. "Even if enemy warship sensors identify the missile, no warship can escape from this missile because of its high speed."

Iran released a video of the missile a day after successfully testing a radar-ducking missile that carries multiple warheads and can easily reach Israel.

The military display comes a week after Iran refused a UN demand that it cease enriching uranium, a key step in building a nuclear bomb.

Iran's actions raised new alarm in the US after a news report claiming Iran would respond to any pre-emptive strike with global attacks on Americans by terror squads.

It's almost as though they are pushing for a showdown now.  These threats seem to strongly challenge the logic of "it's safe for Iran to have nuclear weapons".  The only real issue is if diplomacy fails, which of the two alternatives is worse: 1) military attack with all of the consequences, or 2) Iran with nukes.

It will be interesting to see how the world community under the auspices of the UN Security Council can handle a real problem.

by wchurchill on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:10:40 PM EST
It will be interesting to see how the world community under the auspices of the UN Security Council can handle a real problem

It would be interesting to see if the world community under the auspices of the UN Security Council can possibly dissuade the world's greatest military power from going to war if it decides to. That's the real problem.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:25:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
why wouldn't the world community first try to decide as a group, at least the Security Council, what should be done?  Your comment seems presumptive in that it assumes
  1.  The Security Council can't agree on an action. (probably likely based on history)
  2.  The US and other coutries decide a nuclear Iran would be the worst possible of the bad choices.
  3.  There is some kind of majority coalition on the SC that thinks a nuclear Iran is the best choice.

I'd rather see the scenario play out.  Who knows, maybe the UN concept can show some success.
by wchurchill on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:40:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran is not going nuclear for another 5 years (even the US acknowledges that), so why the urgency?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:51:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
5 years?

I thought in August 2005 the US changed their national intelligence estimate from 5 years to 10 years?
http://atlanticreview.org/archives/109-War-against-Iran-Populism-against-the-US.html

Why are they down to 5 years now?
Got a source?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 09:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we took 5 years as a conservative minimum. 10 years is around as well. The point is that there is a certain lack of urgency to things.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 09:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure,

I just would like to know who said Iran just needs 5 years!

Sure, some beat the war drum, but what are they saying exactly about the new national intelligence estimate?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 11:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I seem to recall seeing that recently in a Breakfast or something.

Of course, now the threat is that they could acquire "the know-how" before the end of this year.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 10:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got a source?
Or an idea where I could find it? How is the highest ranking offical making such a statement?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni
by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 11:58:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the UK's anguished claim that Iran will get "the know-how" within the year.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 12:14:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like bad journalism.

At a time when certain folks beat the war drums, we need sane journalism.

IMHO your "The UK's anguised claim" and the Guardian's
"Britain claimed" suggest that the Queen, Blair or Straw made an official statement.

All the Guardian produces is "A senior Foreign Office official said that while it could take Iran several years to build a serviceable nuclear weapon, it might gain the technical knowhow within months."

a) that source is anonymous and therefore does not speak for Britain.
b) It does not sound anguished at all to me, but some haphazard speculation, which was probalby motivated by the journalist's eager questions. He wanted to something shocking in his report.

The media played the war mongering scare game in 2003. They should not do so again.

Has Straw, Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice ever explicitely stated that the National Intelligence Estimated from August 2005 isn't correct and that either the US or the UK believes that Iran will aquire nuclear bombs within less than 10 years?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 12:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's more bad journalism:
BBC: New 'cold war' looms with Iran (13 March 2006)
Timetable uncertain

Nobody really knows how soon Iran might be able to acquire the technology needed for building nuclear weapons.

The Israelis have been talking of about a year before Iran reaches the "point of no return", which they define as an Iranian enrichment capability.

A senior British official also said recently that a year might give Iran time to become skilled in enrichment, but that an actual bomb could be five years away. However, the official offered no technical justification for these statements.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London issued a report in September 2005 which also said that Iran could, if it went all out, build a bomb by about 2010.

But the IISS was at the forefront of those saying that Iraq might have weapons of mass destruction, so it has a credibility problem.

And that assumes that Iran would go for a bomb, which it says it will not.


LA Times: Iran's Nuclear Steps Quicken, Diplomats Say (March 25, 2006)
The U.S. and its British, French and German allies believe Iran intends to build nuclear weapons, and must be stopped before learning how to enrich uranium. They view the ability to operate a series of centrifuges as a technological tipping point.

"If you can do one centrifuge, you can do 164," said Emyr Jones Parry, British envoy to the U.N. "If you can do 164, you probably can do many more. That means you have the potential to do full-scale enrichment. If you can do enrichment up to 7%, you can do 80%. If you can do 80%, you can produce a bomb."

Policymakers watching Iran's program are making two separate assessments: a technical one based on Iran's ability to enrich uranium and a political judgment on whether Iran is attempting to make a bomb or merely trying to enrich uranium to a low level for civilian purposes, as Iranian officials insist.

The three-year time frame for Iran to produce a bomb cited by diplomats is the same as an estimate by former nuclear weapons inspector David Albright.

In a paper that will be released Monday by the Institute for Science and International Security, which Albright founded, he and a colleague give a detailed description of how, under a best-case scenario, Iran would be able to manufacture enough highly enriched uranium for a crude nuclear device in three years. Albright cautioned, however, that Iran faces many technical hurdles it might find difficult to overcome.

Gary S. Samore, a former nonproliferation expert at the National Security Council, now at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, also said it was far more likely that the Iranians would encounter problems and that it could take them four to five years.


CBS News: Iran's Nuke Test Success Sparks Worry (March 31, 2006)
Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert at Jane's Information Group, said the missile test could be an indication that Iran has MIRV capability. MIRV refers to multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, which are intercontinental ballistic missiles with several warheads, each of which could be directed to a different target.

"From the description, it could be a MIRV. If you are saying that from a single missile, separate warheads can be independently targeted then yes, this is significant," he said.

"But we don't know how accurate the Iranians are able to make their missiles yet, and this is a crucial point," Oppenheimer said. "If the missile is adaptable for nuclear warheads, then they are well on the way. But they have not made a nuclear warhead yet. The current estimates are it could take five years."



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 01:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

Is it fair to say that media has been more scaremongering than the governments when it comes to timetables?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 02:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but if you can't trust the Guardian, BBC, LA Times or CBS...

Also, there is no shortage of government officials (including an "envoy to the UN"), former officials and "experts" willing to go on the record on this. Some of their statements are actually rididulously worded, which only makes matters worse.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 04:41:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you think of any way that effective military action to stop a nuclear Iran wouldn't be worse than a nuclear Iran? Assuming of course that Iran is even trying to build nuclear weapons.

Which if they weren't they damn well will be. I would.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 01:39:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I'm willing to let the diplomatic process play out.  I'm sure options are being laid out by all parties, based on various scenarios.  But why not let this play out--and then take actions appropriate to the play of the hand?

Are you suggesting an alternative?

by wchurchill on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 02:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wchurchill, this is an honest question. What would it take for you to accept the possibility that the US administration is not being honest regarding Iran. There has to be something. State it here and we'll see how long it takes for US "diplomacy" to cross your line in the sand.

I wonder what you would have said had I asked you the same question about Iraq in the summer of 2002.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 09:48:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The alternative is that the US actually participates in the multi-lateral diplomatic tracks that already exist, and also starts bilateral negotiations with Iran. The problem is that the Bush administration is still unprepared to actually "do diplomacy", as it conflicts with its stated objectives of enforcing regime change. The diplomatic process cannot play out whilst one of the key actors remains on the sidelines.

I think most people recognise the externally imposed regime-change objective as unworkable and that the military option is off-the-charts unpalatable, which leaves a direct diplomatic demarche as the only realistic alternative; one of the reasons that there is so much sound and fury these days is that this reality has dawned on some parts of the Bush administration, and the hawks are desperately trying to stymie this.

by londanium on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 10:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's clear that I found your comment presumptive in that it posited Iran's nuclear aims as the real problem. I'm not saying those aims don't constitute any problem at all, just that the Bush administration is hyping them increasingly as justification for military action. After the series of falsehoods the world was fed during the build-up to the Iraq invasion, and the appalling mess created by this, I have a job not seeing US Middle East policy as the real real problem.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 02:41:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran's actions raised new alarm in the US after a news report claiming Iran would respond to any pre-emptive strike with global attacks on Americans by terror squads.
A is alarmed that B will respond to an unprovoked attack by A? Interesting thinking, that of A.

Plus, these are news reports? Was there an Iranian press conference about it, os some intelligence report?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 12:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is testing new military hardware a provocation? What do you call the US operating - as claimed by "sources" to the US media - special forces within Iran? A friendly visit? What do you call Bush's "keeping all options open"? What do you call "axis of evil"? What do you call invading next door on cooked up premises?

You could call it provocation or you could call it displaying a credible deterrent because the Iranians don't know if they're going to get bombed either.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 3rd, 2006 at 01:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is testing new military hardware a provocation?
It seems that most governments and news stories are interpretting it this way--note Telegraph story above.  You're of course free to interpet it differently.
What do you call the US operating - as claimed by "sources" to the US media - special forces within Iran? A friendly visit?
I'm unaware of these stories.  perhaps you could provide your sources.  Note testing military hardware is a fact, not a theory, and the interpretation can be challenged.  What you're alleging here is not a fact, to my knowledge.  perhaps you can provide data to the contrary.  Then I could try to interpret the circumstance and interpret it.
What do you call Bush's "keeping all options open"?
Common sense coupled with honesty.  A US leader that said something different in this situation would be lying.
What do you call "axis of evil"?
A gratuitous statement.
What do you call invading next door on cooked up premises?
Likely a mistake.
by wchurchill on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 02:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A mistake.

Lucky it wasn't a provocative mistake, eh?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 02:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that most governments and news stories are interpretting it this way-

Is that supposed to confer some kind of legitimacy? That governments echoed by the media are calling this provocation simply means that's the angle they want to take. I have spoken here, several times, of Ahmadinejad's deliberate provocation. But this missile firing doesn't seem to me to fall clearly under that heading -- it can just as fairly be seen as a protective gesture (be warned that we have this to defend ourselves with if attacked)

Common sense coupled with honesty.

So Bush is common-sensical and honest? How come the major act of his presidency to date is that total wipe-out in Iraq? Did that show common sense? Did the chain of full-blown deliberate lies told to the American people and the world in justification for that war witness to Bush's honesty?

A gratuitous statement.

What? Common-sense, honest George makes a major policy statement characterizing the world situation as he sees it -- in a speech in which he declares his nation to be in a state of war -- and you call that gratuitous? Tell the dead, the injured, and the suffering in Iraq that it was gratuitous!

Likely a mistake.

"Likely"? I guess the jury's still out? "A mistake"? That's all it is? Well, I'm inviting you to do the same as with "gratuitous" : go tell the Iraqis that's all it was.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 4th, 2006 at 05:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you call the US operating - as claimed by "sources" to the US media - special forces within Iran? A friendly visit?

I'm unaware of these stories.  perhaps you could provide your sources.  Note testing military hardware is a fact, not a theory, and the interpretation can be challenged.  What you're alleging here is not a fact, to my knowledge.  perhaps you can provide data to the contrary.  Then I could try to interpret the circumstance and interpret it.

http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/000635.html

Also, not sure if anyone has backed up Hersh's claims, but here is what he wrote in the New Yorker early last year in a piece called THE COMING WARS What the Pentagon can now do in secret (January 24, 2005):

The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran a  least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids. "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of th  military infrastructure as possible," the government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me.


Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 11:19:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you call the US operating - as claimed by "sources" to the US media - special forces within Iran? A friendly visit?

I'm unaware of these stories.  perhaps you could provide your sources.

Also, in December, the BBC reported that:

Cross-border operations and signal intelligence from a base established by the Israelis in northern Iraq are said to have identified a number of Iranian uranium enrichment sites unknown to the the IAEA.

...

If a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran's nuclear programme for years, according to Israeli military sources.



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 05:58:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran's nuclear programme for years, according to Israeli military sources.

If you were looking for an absolutely worst case scenario, this would be it. All the possible approaches run through airspace nominally controlled by US forces. I assume that to carry out this range of attacks, the Israeli Airforce will need to stage Tankers into Iraqui airspace, or ewffective attacks will not be able to take place on the more distant Iranian targets.

Evevn if this was pulled off as a total surprise to the US forces, it would be difficult to argue that the US government had not at the very least given Tacit suport to the attacks.

If this was the case, then the majority if not all arab countries would have to remove all support to the US forces. This would just make the whole Iraq situation that much more difficult, that is if the arab nations don't push world oil prices up to unprecedented levels.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 06:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 11:11:09 AM EST
Buckle up.  We're going to war.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 11:10:20 PM EST
Holy crap... (Watch the video in the "Henny Penny" story.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 23rd, 2006 at 10:45:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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