Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Cuban missile crisis vs. Iran: making an opponent blink

This blog isn't really becoming an "all Iran, all the time" zone. But at the moment, the conundrum we face over Iran is particularly pressing, involving some very basic ethical and tactical questions that interest me. So, here we go again--

The situation reminds me (in several different ways) of an image I recall from the end of the movie "On the Beach" (stuff of nightmares), a banner reading:

There is still time, brothers.

Yes, there is still time. But how much time we have left is not at all certain, although it's fairly clear that all of those speculating on that question do not know the answer.

In today's Washington Post, David Ignatius has written this column on the subject of Iran (via Austin Bay, whose analysis of the Ignatious column appears here). Ignatius's piece illustrates the strange propensity of many writers to make assumptions that they believe are obviously valid--no need to argue the points; enough to merely to state them as though they are tautologies. But are they?

For example, Ignatius writes the following:

The administration insists that it wants diplomacy to do the preemption, even as its military planners are studying how to take out Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomacy should fail. Iran, meanwhile, is pursuing its own version of preemption, announcing yesterday that it has begun enriching uranium -- a crucial first step toward making a bomb. Neither side wants war -- who in his right mind would? -- but both frame choices in ways that make war increasingly likely.

There are two things I notice right away about that paragraph. The first is the tendency of Ignatious to "frame" the situation in terms of symmetry: both sides are thought to be doing what they are doing in order to effect "preemption." But the assumption on the part of Ignatius that preemption is Iran's goal--rather than a first strike on, for example, Israel--is mere speculation, although he bases his argument on it.

But the even more serious speculation in which Ignatius engages is in the last sentence of that paragraph: Neither side wants war--who in his right mind would?

The unfounded assumption in that sentence probably leapt out at any sentient reader. Ignatious's wishful thinking--that Iran's leaders do not want war, because they must be in their right minds--is understandable, but only as wishful thinking, rather than being based on the evidence (not that Ignatious presents any evidence). After all, who among us in his/her right mind would want to believe that the leaders of a large country developing a nuclear strike capacity and in league with global terrorists are not in their right minds?

But, understandable though this wish is--just like Neville Chamberlain's similar hope that Hitler was a gentleman with whom he could do diplomatic business--taking it on faith and believing it is a dangerous idea that could (to use Ignatius's very own words) "frame choices in ways that make war increasingly likely," as a similar notion arguably did in Hitler's day.

After all, even Seymour Hersh's article (which Ignatius has obviously read, since he quotes it in his very next paragraph) indicated that many consider the Iranian leaders to be "nutcases--one hundred percent totally certified nuts." But Ignatius manages to write an entire piece ignoring that elephant in the room by simply dismissing it without discussion in one quick sentence--"who in his right mind," indeed!

Ignatius briefly compares the current Iranian situation to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. He writes that Kennedy came up with what he calls a "creative" solution to that one [emphasis mine]:

[Kennedy] issued a deadline but privately delayed it; he answered a first, flexible message from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev but not a second unyielding one; he said he would never take U.S. missiles out of Turkey, as the Soviets were demanding, and then secretly did precisely that. Disaster was avoided because Khrushchev believed Kennedy was willing to risk war -- but wanted to avoid it.

I would suggest to Ignatius that, although that is true as far as it goes, he is missing the point. Disaster was avoided for a combination of reasons, and the one he states would not have mattered in the least had not there been an answering echo on the part of Khrushchev who, likewise, was willing to risk war but wanted to avoid it.

And that's not "wanted to avoid it" in the sense of "would have vaguely preferred not to." It means very deeply wished to avoid it, because Khrushchev was a rational actor and believed nuclear war between the superpowers would wreak havoc on the world, as well as his own country and people.

Khrushchev was many things, but he was not a sadistic butcher like his predecessor, Stalin. He believed the Soviet system would triumph, but he wanted the Soviet people to actually survive long enough to do so. He was a practical man, focused quite clearly on this world rather than rewards in the next, and as such, he was indeed a rational actor in the political sense. That meant that he was, in a very real way, a "partner for peace"--or, at least, a partner for cold war rather than hot.

And that was the real reason Khrushchev blinked when confronted with Kennedy's "creative" solutions.

I've written elsewhere that I believe the best course of action right now vis a vis Iran would be to work for regime change though clandestine operations within that country. I also believe we need to have a plan in place to take out Iran's nuclear facilities if need be. I have no idea whether we still have the time, the resources, the expertise, and the will to succeed in either of those endeavors. But I do know that, so far, there has been no evidence that the current Iranian administration qualifies as a rational actor with self-protective instincts towards its own people, and that would preclude us from relying on a particular subset of possible solutions (creative or otherwise) that assume that the Iranian leaders are indeed in their right minds.

The need to protect one's own people in this world--rather than to secure them a place in the world to come--seems to be a prerequisite for traditional deterrence to work. After all, blinking is a self-protective function.

[ADDENDUM: Shrinkwrapped weighs in on the state of mind of the Iranian leaders. And Shrinkwrapped, unlike David Ignatius, is in the business of being able to predict future violent behavior.]

[ADDENDUM II: Unless some important news breaks on the Iran front, I plan to take at least a short break from posts about Iran, starting tomorrow. Promise.]

[ADDENDUM III: Vital Perspectives sums it up rather nicely, I think: ...the pundits tend to fall back on the old models of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. Yet Iran is not the Soviet Union and represents a threat on a completely different level. Simply put, the world has never seen an Islamic extremist terrorist state armed with nuclear weapons.]

52 Comments:

At 1:20 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Pancho said...

Truly amazing that anyone, after watching zealots drive airplanes into buildings, could be so naive in stating "who in his right mind".

 
At 1:47 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

The article by Ignatius (sic!) was followed by another one by Anatol Lieven which was superior and which I recommend.

Comments on Bay:

I think the Cuban Missile crisis comparisons are somewhat apt. It is certainly true that the USSR threatened us with annihilation. Iran is not yet such a threat to anyone.

Saying that the 1914 analogy is brittle because "Iran has already said it intends to eradicate Israel" is vacuous because all Muslim politicians say "Israel delenda est" or the equivalent with great regularity. It means nothing in terms of a specific military agenda, and any non-hysteric would know this.

The reason the 1914 analogy works is because all sides were in an "either/or" frame of mind where just mobilization was sufficient to get the war-gears turning. (In the present mind-set, harnessing nuclear power is the equivalent to "mobilization.")

The World War One analogy need not be pessimistic, it's just that Britain fought two wars to prevent Germany from dominating Europe and Germany ended up dominating anyway; that was Ferguson's point.

If America is going to decline it's going to be because we are incapable of running an economy that doesn't depend on the semi-slavery of illegal aliens, our political class is unwilling to establish any borders to our country, and we are incapable of controlling spending, not whether or not we nuke Iran.

I actually concur that we should be working for regime change in Iran. Neo: I do think you over-estimate the self-destructiveness of the Iranian regime.

Just set fire to a paper bag containing leavened goods. Happy Holidays to all.

 
At 2:05 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Neither side wants war -- who in his right mind would?

Roosevelt wanted war. Americans on 9/11 wanted war. Americans after Pearl harbor wanted war. Who in his right mind believes nobody wants war, has never wanted war, nor will ever want war? Only ignoramuses and morons believe that only people insane wanted war.

The first is the tendency of Ignatious to "frame" the situation in terms of symmetry: both sides are thought to be doing what they are doing in order to effect "preemption.

As Nitty pointed out, announcing your nuclear ambitions before you have a testable bomb is making yourself more vulnerable, not less vulnerable to "preemption". You pre-empt a war by developing a defense in silent secrecy. Telling someone you're going to have a nuke, and that they have 30 days to do something about it, doesn't really preempt anything except peace. perhaps that is why you Neo, wrote about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy and his spies saw the nuclear launch sites being constructed and he had to do something about them before they were active and a military operation non-effective. Building nuke sites in Cuba is not what is known as "an attempt to prevent war".

Diplomats have killed more people in the history of man than any army has or ever will, Neo. That's just the facts.

What would you do, Neo, if Iran blew up a school that was built ontop of a nuclear enrichment facility, and said that an American bomb had destroyed it? What would you do, Neo, if thousands of innocent Iranians were shown on television because of American bombs?

Cause that's probably going to happen. More than 50/50 chances.

Neo, what do you think Iran's real global strategy is, vis a vis their diplomacy about the nukes and Iraq?

It means nothing in terms of a specific military agenda, and any non-hysteric would know this.

Any non-hysteric understands that actions don't require specifics, only power is required.

 
At 2:36 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Neo: I don't know why you keep mispelling Ignatius Ignatious. True, you might be trying to telegraph something but it reminds me of the guy who refers to Frances Fukyomama. I.e., not very adult.

I appreciate the fact that Shrinkwrapped started right off by admitting that psychiatry has no theory of action.

 
At 3:00 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger nowhere girl said...

I really have trouble with the whole "regime change" issue. There is no organized resistance, and the IRGC has proven itself very capable and willing to destroy any attempt to organize dissent or resistance.

Placing our bets on the Iranian public overthrowing the mullahs, even if we do (and we should) provide as much assistance and support as possible, is giving Iran a blank check in terms of time.

Ignatius' assumption that both sides are working towards the same thing ("pre-emption") is another unwarranted and unexamined simplification. Yeah, both sides are working towards total victory without the cost of going to war. Yes, we do have that in common. Isn't it wonderful?

 
At 3:07 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

That's cause Shrinkwrapped's psychiatry is orientated around helping a person, other disciplines of psychology has little to do with "helping" anyone.

to Nowhere, clandestine operations would work. If Neo was willing to authorize targeted assassination of Iranians and various other things. The armament supplies would have to go straight up to nuclear materials. And the ability to recruit, would be regular guerrila warfare tactics. Kill a bunch of Iranian guards, and when the guards slaughter a bunch of villagers in retaliation, recruit more guerrilas.

If you're willing to do all those things, then clandestine operations will work. If you're not, might as well not bother.

Since Bush ain't willing to do even 1/2 of the required actions, I say don't even bother with clandestine insurgency production. It would just be a waste of American and Iranian lives. For absolutely no return.

Neo, why don't you summarize your thoughts on that post that got deleted, back in the abortion wars thing?

 
At 3:49 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Alexandra said...

All Things Beautiful TrackBack What Does Iran Really Want

 
At 4:15 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger David said...

Ralph Peters: "One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason. We suffer under layers of intellectual asymmetries that hinder us from an intuititive recognition of our enemies."

 
At 4:23 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

The leaders are not the country; are not the people. Not in Iran, not in the USA.

All decision makers have their own agendas -- and no "country" makes any decision. Only individuals do.

Clandestine ops = buy out military for a coup, mostly. (The Pinochet model?)
Too late; new, radical Rev Guards are at the top (I think I read).

The USA can't realistically do an assasination / terrorism strategy against the regime; honest missile & bomb strikes against primarily military and gov't institutions seem more feasible.

But invasion/ occupation is almost certainly required for regime change, if that's the political goal.

 
At 5:05 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Steve: I find your comment, here, exceedingly odd.

You write: Neo: I don't know why you keep mispelling Ignatius Ignatious. True, you might be trying to telegraph something but it reminds me of the guy who refers to Frances Fukyomama. I.e., not very adult.

What a very strange assumption (that is, if you're not making some sort of a joke yourself). Why assume that, instead of making a simple (and consistent) spelling error, I'm trying to mock David Ignatius in some sort of juvenile fashion? That's not even remotely my style.

And what do you mean "keep misspelling?" Once a person makes a spelling error, unless it's a typo, the person is ordinarily quite consistent about the error.

I believe the error came from what might be called an overgeneralization of a rule: in English, the "ious" ending is the common one, not "ius." But of course, the name comes from the Latin, not the English. Mea culpa.

Haste makes waste, especially with spelling. And spellcheck can't do everything--although it helps an awful lot.

 
At 5:06 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Oh, forgot to mention--error corrected.

 
At 5:51 PM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous TomTom said...

There are no "Innocents" in Iran. Neither were the Germans in Dresden innocents; noncombatants are not innocent merely because they're not shooting at us. It's real simple: if you're of the enemy, you are the enemy. That Iranian civilians are suppressed and impotent to effect internal change does not make them "innocent".

I don't want to see more die than the needed minimum, in any violent conflict. But innocence is an inoperative concept here, as it implies juridical guilt vs. innocence. This isn't a trial and we are not in a courtroom.

Just letting the rotten eggs talk about their wish for a 2nd holocaust is sharing in their evil.

 
At 6:39 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

There are no "Innocents" in Iran. Neither were the Germans in Dresden innocents; noncombatants are not innocent merely because they're not shooting at us.


Thank you, Ward Churchill.

Neo: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be odd, But first you had the misspelling, and I followed with a correct spelling, even drawing attention to it thus (sic!), and then you persisted in the misspelling, and I thought you were trying to telegraph something here.

Actually you strike me as very bright, well read, and not likely to misspell (nor likely to telegraph). But since I considered the likelihood of misspelling even more remote, I thought that there was an attempt here to turn Mr Ignatius into an adjective.

Also, you strike me as very level headed. That is why I'm a little surprised that you seem to be rather uptight about this Iran thing. I mean, I realize a lot of the blogosphere is freaking out, well, OK. But that doesn't seem to be you. One reason I post here rather than hither and yon is because of the qualities of the hostess.

All the best!

 
At 6:54 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Followup on Vital Perspectives:

Well, after announcing the need to "drive a stake" into opposing arguments, I saw no such argument.

If the consensus -- and all of this assumes of course that Russia and China won't do anything in response to this, but maybe they are just irrelevant -- is that Iran must not develop nuclear weapons, then I will assume we will have a large coalition with us to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and if that happens, so be it.

I am however fairly certain that we will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons by just bombing it, with or without tactical nukes, and no matter how many Iranians are killed.

That means that the need, now, for those who are gung ho for stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, is to call for a fullscale mobilization of the United States for a war footing, which means, among other things, a draft, preferably followed by the development of a coalition, and then by a declaration of war.

If we have to act unilaterally on this, we cannot do it with current ground resources. And, if we have to act unilaterally on this, that sort of deflates the notion that a nuclear Iran is a threat to world peace.

 
At 8:34 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger David said...

Steve--"And, if we have to act unilaterally on this, that sort of deflates the notion that a nuclear Iran is a threat to world peace."

Well, one reason France chose not to act militarily following the Rhineland incursion of 1936 was that Britain was reluctant to participate, and France didn't want to act unilaterally. Surely you wouldn't argue that this deflated the notion that Germany was a threat to world peace?

 
At 9:48 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Thank you, Ward Churchill.

This is steve's exemplarous showing of what a "non-hysterical" position looks like.

But that doesn't seem to be you.

Non-hysterical positions may seem like they should not be similar to hysterical positions, but that is only because people made the wrong judgement in labeling certain things hysterical and not hysterical.


That means that the need, now, for those who are gung ho for stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, is to call for a fullscale mobilization of the United States for a war footing, which means, among other things, a draft, preferably followed by the development of a coalition, and then by a declaration of war.

If we have to act unilaterally on this, we cannot do it with current ground resources. And, if we have to act unilaterally on this, that sort of deflates the notion that a nuclear Iran is a threat to world peace.


There really is no non-hysterical position steve will countenance. The only options he has are the hysterical ones of full out invasion. The alternatives are totally unacceptable to steve, apparently.

As for France, I don't think France and America is the same things in steve's mind. So, yes, he might probably argue that it would.

In the end, the only people calling for full out invasions or nuking Iran, is people like steve. Period.

 
At 11:33 PM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous tom said...

Steve: Thank you for condescending to share your sometimes tarnished brilliance with us peasants here.

 
At 3:54 AM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous Rob said...

To base our foreign policy on the hope that the Iranian people will rise up in revolution against the Islamo-fascist regime and replace it with a more pro-american one is a rather thin reed, it seems to me. We can't expect religious fanatics to be reasonable from our point of view. Even a slight miscalculation can bring us war. If a war indeed does come, it will most likely come from the passive aggresive tactics of Ahmanajad. The good will of the Iranian people will have to be put on the shelf, and a full scale air offensive of overwhelming dimensions be instituted. Bomb them relentlessly. Bomb their ports, their air bases, industrial centers and their power generating capabilities, and knock them back to the dark ages. The moslem mentality is either overbearing arrogance when they have power over others, and sullen resentment when they don't. I would rather have them in the second state than the first.

 
At 9:02 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

I would not back down for a second if I were Iran. They are not capable of it but secondly, why would I? I have China in my corner. Talk about having a big brother to call on when getting bullied! Regime change? How? The security forces and Basijjis are the only ones armed remember. Dissenting newspaper editors and student leaders simply disappear and they hang young men in Public for being homosexuals. That's the mentality faced when considering regime change. Let's get real, folks - maybe in 40-50 years, but certainly not in this decade or the next. Prior to the Shah being deposed, his military advisors told him the dissent could only be ended by killing thousands and thousands of people and he declined to go down that road. The Mullahs have already been going down that road and it is working quite well for them.

When mad, snapping, rabid, frothing dogs come onto the property threatening people and livestock, they are quickly shot in the head and buried deeply. That's how farmers handle these types of threats. We have 3 flanks on Iran. At about the time our stealth bombers and cruise missles enter Iranian air space to destroy their nuclear capability, air assets in Iraq, Afghanistan and from our carriers go airborne and move towards Iran, flooding their radar screens like lethal locusts with one purpose in mind: to eradicate their military infrastructure and cripple them for many years to come, then the next move is theirs to make. If they want to launch missles and come up in the air to fight, then indeed there will be a regime change via lethal,quick and vicious force the like of which has not been seen since WW2. Don't think for a second the plush neighborhoods where the power elite and their families live won't be carpet bombed either. A consistent fact and major weakness of the Arab military mind is their inability to understand and respect our history and Western history in general. This is a fatal flaw. To use an old military expression, Iran is about to enter "a world of shit" - make no mistake about it.

 
At 10:11 AM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

We're all assuming that Iran doesn't already have some nukes--didn't some go missing from the Ukraine for example? If so, you must give the mullanomas their due, concealing the present nukes under the someday nukes isn't dumb.
In this case, an attack must paralyze the whole country, instantly. No slow but thorough dismantling, as it was with the Saddam regime. This time it won't be like picking apart a boiled lobster. On the other hand, maybe they don't have working nukes yet. Who knows?

Does anybody know whether under international law a government can be declared unfit by reason of insanity? Perhaps Iran itself could be declared a legal guardian of Washington, Moscow, Bejing and New Delhi, who would duly manage its affairs (ie, all that oil) until it became competent to do on its own.

This is nothing but a cynical bribe to Russia, China, and India to go along with the violent elimination of the whole problem.

 
At 10:34 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

Neo . . .

Please don't apologize for creating an "all Iran all the time zone." (which you haven't done, BTW)

I find it EXTREMELY bizarre that it's impossible to get any people I know to discuss what's going on. The level of denial and lack-of-interest is amazing. Dan Simmon's "Time Traveler" story that circulated recently around the blogosphere well describes the state of people's thinking in these prewar times.

Don't apologize for providing a forum to discuss Iran and the various actions we can take. This subject should be out there where people can talk about it.

 
At 10:48 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I don't think it matters one way or another whether Iran has a working bomb or not, given that it really does not expand their options all that much. A working bomb is only one bomb, and once used is gone. This reduces its deterent value and its psychological value to near zero, and therefore it cannot be used for political purposes in the long run. As you hear it on Fox News, Iran is an expert at psychological warfare and intimidation tactics. I could have told you that a long time ago, but still.

If they got the nuke from Ukraine, it is very likely it is falling apart and they can't maintain the warhead. Which makes it not very useful.

 
At 11:52 AM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

That means that the need, now, for those who are gung ho for stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, is to call for a fullscale mobilization of the United States for a war footing, which means, among other things, a draft, preferably followed by the development of a coalition, and then by a declaration of war.

Iran has waged war on the US & US allies through its proxies for years with nary a declaration from Iran but anti-warriors always seem to want to extend courtesies to the enemy that the enemy never allots to the US, thus Steve’s insistence on a declaration of war, draft, coalition, etc. before the US makes any move. Anti-warriors seem always to insist on stringent conditions for any counter-terrorist measures proposed to be undertaken by the US. US actions are always held to higher standards than the enemy by the anti-warriors, sometimes so high as to preclude any effective action to counter the enemy. If it was a footrace, the anti-warriors would want to hang a stone yoke on the US runner.

I am however fairly certain that we will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons by just bombing it, with or without tactical nukes, and no matter how many Iranians are killed.

No “full scale mobilization” is required for the US to set Iran back fifty years, rendering them quite harmless as far as any heavily technological project(such as a nuclear weapons program) is concerned. It could be done with zero boots on the ground. Steve, even though an ex-Marine Corps officer, must not have been apprised of the potential lethality of the USN’s submarine fleet. Such strikes, conducted in several waves over a period of time, which could also use stealth aircraft, would easily do the trick. Sorry Steve, no draft necessary & this time after a regime change perhaps the US should let the assholes rebuild themselves. It wouldn’t matter much just what type of Iranian regime might arise from those ashes, it would not be threatening much of anybody for quite a few years to come.

All this is possible but alas, not probable.

So, ending Iran’s nuclear ambition could be done but probably won’t be done because the anti-warriors will no doubt have their way. My guess is that the US probably won’t be able to halt Iran’s nuclear program. As goes Iran’s nuclear program, so goes the nuclear ambitions of the rest of the Middle Eastern despots. They are all waiting to see if Iran can pull it off.

But the anti-warriors don’t believe a thoroughly nuclear Middle East would be a problem. They believe, against all evidence, that a nuked-up Middle East can be managed. They insist that Israel would be in no danger even though Israel is attacked almost daily by Iran’s proxies & has been officially warred upon in the past by a variety of Islamic countries. They insist the US would be in no danger in the face of actual & devastating attacks on the WTC & foiled attacks elsewhere. In light of Iran’s recent testing of missiles, Steve might want to peruse the following link:

http://www.missilethreat.com/news/emp.html

Here’s some quotes from the site:

The May edition of Jane’s Missiles and Rockets reports that recent missile tests by Iran may have been part of the development of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) warhead.

Lowell Wood is quoted as having testified to the subcommittee that such an attack upon the United States could keep off most electrical functions for a time period of a few hours or decades, depending on how it was executed. Wood also warned the subcommittee that such an EMP warhead could be delivered against the United States by “a Scud missile launched from a freighter off the Atlantic coast.


Here’s another chilling quote:

Few if any people would die right away. But the loss of power would have a cascading effect on all aspects of U.S. society. Communication would be largely impossible. Lack of refrigeration would leave food rotting in warehouses, exacerbated by a lack of transportation as those vehicles still working simply ran out of gas (which is pumped with electricity). The inability to sanitize and distribute water would quickly threaten public health, not to mention the safety of anyone in the path of the inevitable fires, which would rage unchecked. And as we have seen in areas of natural and other disasters, such circumstances often result in a fairly rapid breakdown of social order.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57774-2005Apr15.html

Just a couple of scud missiles armed with a couple of warheads launched by a couple of freighters off a couple of US coasts & all electrical functions are destroyed “for decades”!! No SUV’s, no internet, no computers, no TV, no telephones, no running water, no heat or ac. Just decades of stone age existence for the survivors. And it doesn’t take numerous warheads or sophisticated weaponry, only a couple of relatively primitive Scuds & launched from a couple of scows. Please, anti-warriors, get frightened, get frightened enough to forget your Bush-hatred, your cynicism about America & your partisan political maneuvers. The clock is ticking.

 
At 12:17 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Do we have any of those EMP thingys?

 
At 12:42 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Narges said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:51 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Do we have any of those EMP thingys?

I’m guessing that we do. It would seem that minor modifications to our existing stockpiles & delivery systems would be all that’s needed. Surely if we can deliver warheads to targets on the ground with pinpoint precision, adjusting missiles to detonate hundreds of miles above the target instead would be a simple thing to do.

 
At 1:06 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Grackle:

The vast majority of intelligent and informed commentary on the subject, from both sides, is that bombing Iran would not be effective in stopping its quest for nuclear power (or nuclear arms.) It's not like I am making this stuff up.

When I talk about full-scale mobilization, I am not kidding around, or trying to defeat the prosecution of war as such. I am saying that if you want to have a war, do it right; and that fantasies about doing it -- from our end -- in an antiseptic way with minimal casualties and manpower requirements is just that: a fantasy. Exhibit A is Iraq: concerning which there is a large consensus including several past commanders in the Armed Services that we did not have enough boots on the ground (Duh: and the reason we didn't have enough boots on the ground is that frankly our All Volunteer Armed Services does have enough boots to begin with.)

I have long advocated universal conscription, and I would like to see it implemented. It would succeed in mobilizing the country in what will (clearly) be several decades jockeying for control in the Persian Gulf region, even if not often in hot war.

I am surprised that so many of those who fantasize about bombing our enemies into submission are not with me on mobilization, a draft, increasing the size of the AFUSA, and so on. Well, at least Mark Helprin (a notorious hawk) agrees with me.

Narges: Hi, I hope you survive the hell bent for leather bombing of your country that will take place if and when the Blogosphere takes control of the White House, but if you don't, well, what can I say? It was nice knowing you.

 
At 1:27 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

We are struggling to get them down from the throne of power they suddenly found themselves on! We really do.

It would be nice if a regime change could be affected by progressive Iranian elements but I don’t see much hope for successful native opposition to the present Iranian regime. Despite Narge’s charming & touching comment the typical Iranian seems to prefer despot over progressive when push comes to shove. The US can’t take a chance waiting around to see if the mullahs are somehow overthrown. Besides, if the mullahs develop a nuke, the nukes wouldn’t go away just because the mullahs are overthrown. Sorry, but I wouldn’t trust any Islamic state, even a relatively progressive Islamic state, with nukes. That includes Pakistan, especially if Musharraf is assassinated. It is a fanatical religious war that is being waged, not an ordinary war.

 
At 1:45 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

The vast majority of intelligent and informed commentary on the subject, from both sides, is that bombing Iran would not be effective in stopping its quest for nuclear power (or nuclear arms.) It's not like I am making this stuff up.

Steve, is that the same “intelligent and informed commentary” that were clueless about 9/11?

I am surprised that so many of those who fantasize about bombing our enemies into submission are not with me on mobilization, a draft, increasing the size of the AFUSA, and so on. Well, at least Mark Helprin (a notorious hawk) agrees with me.

Steve, I would be very much with you on increasing our military forces, but you anti-warriors have made that politically impossible. The MSM, with lots of help from anti-warriors like you, have convinced the public that patriotism is passe & made a draft politically untenable. If Bush tried to call for conscription he would be impeached. Anti-warriors in Congress have been very effective in slashing military appropriations bills in the years since Vietnam & US forces have shrunk accordingly. That’s largely why the Pentagon has had to go for a smaller, more specialized & mobile military in the first place. It was a strategy of necessity, not choice.

You say Helprin agrees with you. I’ll quote from the linked article & let the readers judge for themselves:

The obvious option is an aerial campaign to divest Iran of its nuclear potential: i.e., clear the Persian Gulf of Iranian naval forces, scrub anti-ship missiles from the shore and lay open antiaircraft-free corridors to each target. With the furious capacity of its new weapons, the United States can accomplish this readily. Were the targets effectively hidden or buried, Iran could be shut down, coerced and perhaps revolutionized by the simple and rapid destruction of its oil production and transport.

 
At 2:01 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Grackle:

Why didn't you quote the final sentence of that para?

The Iranians know their obvious vulnerabilities, but are we aware of ours?


Or the later para towards the end.



In trying to push the Iraqi snake by its tail, we have lost sight of the larger strategic picture, of which such events, though very unlikely, may become a part. But because the Iranian drive for deployable nuclear weapons will take years, we have a period of grace. In that time, we would do well to strengthen -- in numbers and mass as well as quality -- the means with which we fight, to reinforce the fleet train with which to supply the fighting lines, and to plan for a land route from the Mediterranean across Israel and Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates. And even if we cannot extricate ourselves from nation-building and counterinsurgency in Iraq, we must have a plan for remounting the army there so that it can fight and maneuver as it was born to do.



I think the meaning is clear enough.

I don't think Bush would be impeached if he tried to implement a draft. I think that's a defeatist attitude. The American people, and American society, has to be prepared for sacrifice, real sacrifice, and a real call to duty. That's a fact; but, that fact is not synonymous with advocating the carrying out of half-assed military campaigns.

It is the job of the political leadership to galvanize the American people. if our political leadership cannot do this, then it should be replaced.

 
At 2:02 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger kevin said...

And thus the concept that won John Nash ("A Beautiful Mind") the Nobel Prize in Economics--specifically the application of game theory and the concept of the Nash Equilibrium. The necessary and sufficient conditions to be met by the players are:

1) Each player believes all other participants are rational.
2) The game correctly describes the utility payoff of all players.
3) The players are flawless in execution.
4) The players have sufficient intelligence to deduce the solution.
5) Each player is rational.

I, unlike Ignatius, would not bet our security on condition one and I'm hoping our elected leaders do not either. (I also have some doubt about Iran's ability to meet conditions 4 or 5 either.)

 
At 2:23 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger rafinlay said...

Back to the original Cuban Missle Crisis analogy: Don't forget that Castro was urging Kruschev to launch a nuclear strike against the US. The Iranian president seems to me a better fit as Castro, than as Kruschev. Imagine what might have happened if Castro had had his own nukes.

 
At 2:38 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Why didn't you quote the final sentence of that para?

Because your debate point was about an Iranian nuclear program’s invulnerability to tactical bombing, not whether the US was vulnerable.

The rest of Helprin’s conclusions are based on an Iranian conventional nuclear weaponry system & the considerable time it would take Iran to put such a system in place – not on a couple of freighters(which Iran has in abundance) with a couple of Scuds(which Iran has in abundance) fitted with a couple of warheads(which you seem to want to let them develop). Wake up & smell the EMP.

Steve, neither Bush nor any other President could institute a draft in the present US political climate. The Dems & the MSM have been waiting for just such a move from the administration like wolves wait for lambs, teeth bared & mouths drooling with anticipation. That’s not defeatist, that’s reality.

 
At 3:00 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

No, my debate point was about the need to seriously augment our conventional forces.

And the missing sentence from that para introduced two other paras showing that any attempt to "divest Iran of its nuclear potential" (which was not about bombing its reactor sites, at all, but rather with dealing with any potential delivery systems/protection systems)would leave us open to all kinds of consequences, hence, the need to augment our forces.

I repeat: we are not going to win the WOT with various aerial assaults, or by bombing dozens of sites in Iran. And, not surprisingly, most military gamers agree with me.

 
At 3:24 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous Stephen said...

It is of vital importance that Iran be dealt with in a serious manner. As many of the previous posts have mentioned, the Iranian regime is likely irrational and yet bent on fulfilling a very long range plan to spread Islam throughout the world. Mark Steyn's column has some tremendous points that must be considered carefully. I for one have passed the text around to everyone I care about!

For myself, the worst-case scenario that I envision goes something like this:

1. Iran builds several nukes
2. Iran attacks Israel without warning; Iranian agents around the world lauch simultaneous, low-grade terror attacks against US, UK, and Australian interests
3. Israel responds in kind by nuking Tehran, Riyadh, Damascus, Amman, and Cairo (and maybe Beirut)
4. The Eurabian Dhimmis condemn and impose sanctions on Israel, while also condemning the tacit US "approval" of such a "horrible response" to the Iranian attack.

5. The Final Stroke - A truly Global Jihad is launched by sleeper cells all over the world. This type of attack upon the Great Satan and those Zionists would be just the signal for as-yet uncoordinated Islamist terrorists and sympathizers create havoc through more low-grade attacks, labor strikes, and rioting.

Admittedly, this is pretty dark and gruesome, but I do not think that it is too far-fetched. And the more that I think about it, the more the antics of Reid, Murtha, Kerry, et al, terrify me.

Dan Simmons has been thinking about this too, check out his April message: www.dansimmons.com/news/message.htm
A very scary piece of short fiction that I pray is not prescient.

God Bless

 
At 3:44 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

No, my debate point was about the need to seriously augment our conventional forces.

Readers, here’s the first paragraph in Steve’s comment that I was referencing:

The vast majority of intelligent and informed commentary on the subject, from both sides, is that bombing Iran would not be effective in stopping its quest for nuclear power (or nuclear arms.) It's not like I am making this stuff up.

Are these not your words, Steve?

For the readers, here’s the conclusion of the study that Steve sets such high hopes on:

The United States was too late. Iran’s leaders had learned from what happened to Saddam Hussein in 1981, when Israeli F-16s destroyed a facility at Osirak where most of his nuclear projects were concentrated. Iran spread its research to at least a dozen sites—exactly how many, and where, the U.S. government could not be sure.

Steve, we wouldn’t have to hit all their sites. Just a few would be enough, which by the participants’ own reckoning would “slow Iranian nuclear projects by a few years.” If you bomb the Ford carburetor factory none of the other factories will be able to produce an Escort that will run. You don’t have to hit all the factories. Anything to slow Iranian nuclear progress is fine with me.

The United States was too vulnerable. Iran, until now relatively restrained in using its influence among the Iraqi Shiites, “could make Iraq hell,” in the words of one of our experts, Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution. It could use its influence on the world’s oil markets to shock Western economies—most of all, that of the world’s largest oil importer, the United States.

Steve, Iran couldn’t “make Iraq hell” if the US gave Iran a thorough missile/aircraft attack. Iran would be too busy searching for its ass. On the contrary, it would probably help our efforts in Iraq. Also, this line of thinking assumes that Iran is not already doing everything they can to screw the US in Iraq, that Iran is holding back! Pardon me while I attempt to stifle my laughter.

The plan was likely to backfire, in a grand-strategy sense. At best, it would slow Iranian nuclear projects by a few years. But the cost of buying that time would likely be a redoubling of Iran’s determination to get a bomb—and an increase in its bitterness toward the United States.

Increased bitterness? I don’t see how Iran could exhibit more rage than it already acts out almost daily on the world’s stage. Iran is already the largest sponsor of terrorism(according to even the wimps in our State Department), they could hardly do more in that area. More determined to get a bomb? Where have these people been living? On Mars?

 
At 4:04 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Grackle, the post you were responding to contained many points, but the point that you (initially) responded to was my call for mobilizing the country for a real war, and in that context I referenced Helprin. So then we talked about that.

NOW we are talking about the ability to knock out Iran's nuclear potential via aerial bombardment. There are actually several sources saying the same thing here, but I only referenced the one I read last.

Actually, the conclusion to the latest thing I read was this:


The United States can’t keep troops in Iraq indefinitely, for obvious reasons. It can’t withdraw them, because of the chaos that would ensue. The United States can’t keep prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (and other overseas facilities) indefinitely, because of international and domestic challenges. But it can’t hastily release them, since many were and more have become terrorists. And it can’t even bring them to trial, because of procedural abuses that have already occurred. Similarly, the United States can’t accept Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, but it cannot prevent this through military means—unless it is willing to commit itself to all-out war. The central flaw of American foreign policy these last few years has been the triumph of hope, wishful thinking, and self-delusion over realism and practicality. Realism about Iran starts with throwing out any plans to bomb.

 
At 5:16 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Actually, the conclusion to the latest thing I read was this:

Steve is correct - “conclusion” was definitely the wrong word – I should have used the word, “problems.” In the interest of clearing up confusion I point out that my quotes from the article were the so-called problems found by the study from which the article drew its conclusion – as quoted by Steve from the same article. However, my opinion of the problems found by the study remains that they are fatally flawed & of course, for that reason, the conclusion quoted by Steve is wrong.

The study presupposes a ponderous, massive & technologically difficult nuclear build-up by Iran when Iran is more likely to use all that as a smokescreen while they patch together the much simpler freighter/Scud/warhead EMP solution to their fanaticism. That’s what I would do if I were them. If I were them I would even have a ceremony, replete with opening dancers, where I would announce & display each long step toward the conventional weaponry “build-up,” beginning with the first enriched uranium & let the foolish infidels watch & be diverted while I secretly worked out the more elegant freighter/Scud/warhead EMP solution.

 
At 5:32 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As an intro, most of the steve/grackle stuff is at the end. Comments were written in chronological order as I read from top to bottom here. The 3 problems steve's article brought up, was particularly problematic.

It's amazing people still believe in the need for more conventional forces in the 21st century. It's like people are stuck in the Dark Ages and want more knights, even when the longbowmen shoot them down like mice. It's rather ridiculous when you think about it. Because if a conventional army can only take over two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, before getting broken, then asking for "more" conventional units is sorta unwise and ridiculous, if not criminally incompetent.

The best way to not do something is to say that your only option is full scale invasion, in which he thinks you aren't capable of. It's a stupid policy, to limit the options in any project. It's even more saboteur orientated to limit somebody else's options cause your project is suffering from internally created problems.

For people who can't think outside the box, stopping Iran is a non-sequitor. They are far more interested in a negotiated settlement, like Europe and Spank. It would seem that if you've lived through one negotiated settlement in the Cold War, it now doesn't seem to matter what else happens, negotiated settlment must be the only option. So people complain about nuking Iran, yes, but not because it is an extreme one of two binary sets of solutions, but rather because it increases the choices. The more choices you have, the less likely a negotiated settlement looks beneficial. Or any other unworkable choice, like full out invasion. And that, to various people for various reasons, is unacceptable that their pet policy won't get implemented.

The EMP scenario is not as dangerous as people think it is. If you study the underlying physics, it would take a huge bomb and thus huge uranium or plutonium stock piles, to make an EMP burst at high alt that would burn out civilian infrastructure long enough and far enough. Simply because if you blow it up at low alt, the radiation will be more severe but the damage will be localized. Higher, and the damage will be broader, but lesser in severity. This doesn't mean that an industrial city isn't a weak point, but it does mean that the Flyover Country is pretty much safe all things considered. Probably a 10X 9/11 attack, depending on the yield of the nuke and early warning systems.

Do we have any of those EMP thingys?

Environmentalists and the UN banned them. Bush might have the plans in secret installations though. Any nuke can be configured for EMP, you just need a 100 megaton nuke. Instead of the piddly 5 kiloton tacticals.

Most Americans don't think nor care about how many Iranians support Amadinejad. In issues of nation vs nation, the leaders make the choices and the rest suffer what they may. One of the benefits of the War on Terror, ex post facto the War on Islamic head choppers, is that America is far less the flightly kitey little adolescent dreaming of admiration and love in the world. We've toughened up, given all the criticism and abuse the world has heaped on us. We might have cared what other nations might have thought of us a few decades ago, but in today's world the only Americans that do care are the elitists, the guilty rich, and the pundits. The American heart land usually doesn't. They never did in fact.

As was mentioned before, America's job is not to wait for other nations to get their house in order. We don't do it for Afghanistan, we don't do it for Mexico, and we sure didn't do it for Iraq. Other nations might slide like venezuella, but not in the Middle East. In historical geo political terms, what the populations on either side thought of a conflict didn't really matter squat. It didn't matter in WWI when Germanic descended Americans faced their Germanic cousins across the trench lines, it didn't matter in WWII when American GIs realized that the no good French they sacrificed thousands to save were less similar to Americans than the clean, orderly, and disciplined Germans that they had come to fight. These things, these popular affinities, have never mattered and perhaps they will never matter so long as there is a war ongoing. In a state of peace, much can be done to solidify relationships, look at Japan and America for example. We have Dragon Ball Z and Japanese anime, the Japanese mandate everyone learn English. If that's not cultural affinity, I don't know what is. But it would never have existed had the war not ended. Wars first, get togethers afterwards is the rule.

There is no "right way to do war" as steve claims. Wars change as politics change. When the strategic scenario changes, so must the war strategy. There is no right way to wage war. Al Qaeda's guerrila strategy is as much war as Apache helicopters data linked and firing in pinpoint computer controlled salvoes at targets beyond human vision. The more war is mutable while flowing and not limited by artificial constraints, the more effective the war becomes at resolving conflicts and the lesser the casualties accrued in the fighting.

The more options that are sought and planned for, which doesn't just contain draft, declare war, invade or appease, bribe, and stall, the higher the chances for ultimate victory. These choices don't come out of the blue, they result from other actions take in the past, leading irrevocably to current options today. Just as a man who must take one road in his life, will be at a different end point than if he had taken another road early on in his life. These things must be done before the actual conflict, and it involves choosing, the wisdom of choice, and the judgement of action.

The fantasy that you should artificially restrict the options in an armed conflict to international rules and man made political restraints, is a dangerous fantasy. Sometimes it can work, but most of the time it backfires if the other guy doesn't play by your fantastical rules.

As was argued in military circles, universal conscription is the real life product of fortification in the universe of gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Volunteer armies are more motivated, more highly trained, less prone to casualties and cluster pock ups compared to univeral conscription forces which are demoralized, less mobile, less motivated, and less well trained.

It is a political solution to manpower and war, universal conscription is not a military solution at all. Because no military person would voluntarily become less well trained, less motivated, more prone to casualties, less mobile, and less aggressive. Unless he was a military lawyer, of course. Those breeds are independent of civilian or military backgrounds.

Narges: Hi, I hope you survive the hell bent for leather bombing of your country that will take place if and when the Blogosphere takes control of the White House, but if you don't, well, what can I say? It was nice knowing you.

It is this dangerous fantastical fantasy, as quoted here, that is the real problem. Psychological attack vectors in war relying upon well trained and motivated shock and assault forces like the Special Forces operators, Seals, Marines, Marine Recon are the solution to terrorism, whether of the lone wolf variety or the state sponsored upgrade.

Many people in the blogosphere don't really understand nor prefer regular armed column warfare as was the case for the Cold War enthusiasts. Neo here, probably missed out on the whole argument for the M1A1 Abrams tank to protect against Russian tank assault lanes in Europe. But that's okay, in a sense, because what you need in a war to the knife against guerrila forces is not more tanks and garrison troops, but in fact more mobility, more precision, and more well trained troops. The one thing the blogosphere understands beyond anything else a regular military person would, is the power of the word in peace and conflict.

The binary solution set advocated here, of full scale nuclear/conv bombing or full scale invasion, is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Not because it is based upon ignorance, but because it is based upon artificial limits and constraints. While clandestine and psychological operations cannot solve everything, it can solve more than nuclear bombardment or full invasions can.

Steve, for example, does not prefer bombing or full scale nuclearization of Iran. He does favor full scale mobilization of a bunch of garrison troops that are good for nothing but cannon fodder. Because steve sees the universe through the binary eyes of Truth and Falsity, he is surprised the opposition would favor air strikes. But the real fact is that the opposition does not favor air strikes, the opposition favors what works. As demonstrated by Talkin's honest demand for real solutions. A military commander who will not ask for better solutions in the face of criticism, is a retarded commander and should be relieved of his command and responsibilities.

People who ask "Why don't you support universal conscription" instead of asking "If you don't like uni conscript, do you got anything better that'll work", is not a person with the wisest of judgements here.

The fact is that the volunteer military allows the government to committ the military to more wars. This is due to the politics of the matter. Many Americans don't give a damn so long as the draft isn't in effect. Having 3 simultaneous wars, Afghanistan Iraq Iran, going on is very feasible and do able. That would not be feasible with a draft, which is why the Democrats instituted attempts at getting the draft back. It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a republican or an Indepent or someone like steve who is right of center, it only matters what your policies are and who your allies are and how your policies will work.

The volunteer military is a lot more mobile than a bunch of garrison frackers newly leased from California the land of the free medicare or the People's Republic of Mass. It takes years to blood a conscripted force, and casualties are usually horrendous in the process. The more troops you have, the more they will be placed on garrison duty. Soldiers that are not career, that are not professional, that are not trained in urbant combat, will be eaten up by the Iranians and will surrender in Droves ala Najaf. Militarily, that's not a problem, troops get better through fighting. Politically and psychologically, any American defeats or unprofessionalism costs the war effort boat loads of support and momentum.

The univeral conscription advocates do not see the consequences of their policies because their policies are geared towards a Cold War mentality. If it is not the "Deal" of Spank, it is the "Full out WWII scenario" of Steve. Neither works.

in numbers and mass as well as quality -- the means with which we fight,

For people blinded by Cold War mentalities and meat grinder military campaigns, this means more troops and conscripts. To those who focus on the Art of War, and winning without a fight, the quote simply advocates that if you increase your selection of weapons and their mass and quality, this will enable you to fight a better war by better means.

I think the meaning is clear enough.

Things can mean whatever people decide it means. People see the Golden Shrine blowing up, and understand it to an attempt to cause chaos in Iraq. Iranians see the Golden Shrine, and believe it is a op done by Americans to get more Muslims killed.

Things mean whatever I decide they mean, so long as I can convince enough people of the fact. In the age of the Cold War and nuclear weapons, that might not have been so effective because the stakes were laid out on the table, but in the 21st century the bluff has come back in full.

The American people, and American society, has to be prepared for sacrifice, real sacrifice, and a real call to duty.

Duty comes from choosing it, for death is lighter than a feather while duty is heavier than mountains. There is no duty nor honor nor patriotism when forced by law and decree. There is no justice in the Rule of Judges deciding what people should or should not die for, who or whose property this really is, or whether punishment is a valid societal function for rapists.

Most military gamers agree that you won't win through aerial assaults because you need to take ground territory with the grunts and the tanks, and physically occupy it. To do so, you need highly motivated troops prepared for urban combat, not conscripts taken from a pool of civilians with more brain power than guts. But Iran isn't conducting a war with their nukes, they are conducting a psychological operation, and that is rather different from a war which requires victory through occupation of land and territory.

The bureacracy can't separate talent from incompetence or merit from insanity, with a draft. Trusting the government to do the right thing, is the wrong thing to do.

For example, these people are so incompetent they will list 3 problems and can't even provide the solutions. Something even I could do concerning these.

* The United States was too late. Iran’s leaders had learned from what happened to Saddam Hussein in 1981, when Israeli F-16s destroyed a facility at Osirak where most of his nuclear projects were concentrated. Iran spread its research to at least a dozen sites—exactly how many, and where, the U.S. government could not be sure.
[If you can't use air power to destroy the target, use air power to effect a political resolution through terror and intimidation. If you can't get the target through regular means, use deception, if you can't use deception, go around and come at the problem from another direction. Restricting yourself to air strikes is pretty dumb, and obvious.]
* The United States was too vulnerable. Iran, until now relatively restrained in using its influence among the Iraqi Shiites, “could make Iraq hell,” in the words of one of our experts, Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution. It could use its influence on the world’s oil markets to shock Western economies—most of all, that of the world’s largest oil importer, the United States.
[I'm pretty sure Iran isn't restraining themselves in Iraq for our benefit. In other words, Pollack would prefer that Iran keep their goodies in the bag, thereby allowing Iran the decision when to open up murder and destruction in Iraq, instead of giving the initiative to America. Not very patriotic nor aggressive enough to win. Maybe people haven't realized this, but "Iraq is hell". Go ahead and make it worse, it's not going to matter in the end because if you could have overthrown our strategy there, you would already have done so. I'm also pretty sure America can make Iran vulnerable through annexation of territory and aerial bombardment of roads and transport. We could use our influence to shock the economy of the West, thereby driving up oil prices for everyone, including China and Russia. Maybe Kenneth should have realized what the "asy" meant in asymmetrical.
* The plan was likely to backfire, in a grand-strategy sense. At best, it would slow Iranian nuclear projects by a few years. But the cost of buying that time would likely be a redoubling of Iran’s determination to get a bomb—and an increase in its bitterness toward the United States.

[Right, sure, maybe Iran will get so bitter they'll actually blow up or take hostage one of our embassies. Who are these talking "experts" kidding here? That's like saying, it is a detriment to piss off Al Qaeda cause they will execute American citizens that they capture... Hello, peaceful idiots, haven't they already been doing that? How do you redouble Iran's determination, is that like getting someone to die twice for jihad? 2X 72 Virgins in heaven now, is that it? We'll get people to stop killing, cause we'll just give them TWO, call it TWO, life sentences instead of one... ha. Right, we'll improve their love of women, with get this, TWO, TWO I say, pardons for rape. That'll "redouble" their love for peace.]

What's scary is that these people seem to be serious. They just don't get what asymmetrical warfare in the 21st century really means. It's not tank columns, it's not UN diplomacy, it is not international arms treaties or agreements, and it really isn't about who gets pissed off about who did what to whom.

Similarly, the United States can’t accept Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, but it cannot prevent this through military means—unless it is willing to commit itself to all-out war.

I think that's the real argument summarized. Some people believe the US can't prevent Iranian nuclear ambitions unless it is willing to commit itself to all out war. I don't believe that's the right analysis of the problem, but people like steve really do. And that's the problem. Those who limit their options, are not doing their fellow Americans a service by tieing one hand behind our backs cause of their say so.

The reality is, of course, that if the only way to stop Iranian ambitions is to invade, then that is the opposite of pragmatism and realism. Realism understands that asymmetrical wars in the 21st century is not like wars of the 20th. Pragmatists understand that there is more than one binary solution set, of 1 wrong and 1 right answer. Pragmatists understand that there are many good and many bad decisions.

The only wishful thinking involved here, is the emphasis that all out war through full scale invasion is the only thing that can stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and technology.

Sometimes you really need to stick that sword in the scabbard and not cut off people's heads. Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, a Bigger Hammer Approach, is the absolute wrong thing to do. Not often, but the Asymmetrical Warfare of the 21st century has given the United States unfettered capability and freedom to Wage War without Waging War.

We can sanction a nation, we can take his air space away from him, and people think we are not at war. There are many many other things we can do. The only variable is whether Bush has the guts to do them against the criticism of Both the Right and the Left. Whether that be Murtha of the Marines on the Left or Steve of the Marines on the Right.

 
At 10:39 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen up Neocons:

There is not going to be a war with Iran and the day of U.S. playing world police is coming to an end.

Its clear the world doesn't want Iran to have nukes but by now it should be clear to ALL that no one can stop them. Yes you may bomb them day and night but people get antzy when they have to caugh up a $4 a gallon for oil LOL. Maybe even more.

But like the London blitz, Iranian people will reunite under this little roach. They may not like him or his politics but they'll be damned if an outside force will muscle their weight around that country. Cheerios!

 
At 11:53 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger TmjUtah said...

We go in, air and ground (won't be any "where are the WMD's?" this time around)before fall is too far along.

Killing or capturing the mullahs, capturing or destroying the infrastructure necessary to produce fission weapons, and obliterating Iran's navy and air assets will leave a big, unstable void what's left of state support for international terror.

If there are pro-democracy factions in numbers large enough, and dedicated enough, they'll have their moment to act.

If the Iranian people choose to go with nationalism and Persian pride even if it means lining up with the jihadi corporate heads, they can do that, too. But they won't have nukes. And we'll continue to support the rise of democracy in Iraq, except that there won't be any more hesitation about pursuing fugitives across the Iranian border, nor destroying save havens when identitified.

We aren't the world's policeman.

But we are damn well done being the West's babysitter and garbage man.

 
At 3:13 AM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous Gary Rosen said...

Steve:
"I'm a little surprised that you seem to be rather uptight about this Iran thing."

I don't mean to sound sexist, but you know how these women are, Steve. They get all antsy and nervous when genocidal psychopaths are on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. Can't stay serene and composed like the men.

 
At 3:52 AM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

I'm surprised that Nargess post was so little commented on. Living in L.A., it's tough not to have a few Persian friends. One friend of my wife's used to tell her that the Iranians who want change and a more western governmentwon't rise up because they're waiting for us to go in to do it for them, or at least smack down the govt so they can have a better opportunity. Pretty smart if you ask me. We should keep that in mind.
As for your atlantic article, Steve- since they only name one 'planner', I find it pretty weak, especially given how well it's been torn up in these posts by Grackle.
Perhaps you should go here: http://mysandmen.blogspot.com/2006/04/responding-to-hugh-hewitts-arguments.html
Much better 'planning' than your atlantic article.
Oh, and as for oil, who does shutting down the Iranian oil pruduction infrastructure hurt more, the world who gets its gas prices raised a little, or the Mullahs who get their entire economy shut down? Bueller? Bueller?
But stock in whoever is poised to get oil from canadian oil sands...what was once too expensive to extract may become a real bargain soon.

 
At 4:18 AM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

Another thought about those who tell us that attacking Iran isn't doable... D-day wasn't possible. Inchon wasn't possible. Winning the Cold War wasn't possible. Bush getting re-elected wasn't possible. The Afghan winter and terrain would defeat us as it had the British and Soviets. Getting the picture?

 
At 12:45 PM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

AS recommended by Steve, I read the article by Anatol Lieven. Below is the technique Lieven would use to prevent a nuclear Iran:

The way out of this particular trap is to accept limited Iranian uranium enrichment under strict supervision and focus instead on creating really tough and effective barriers to armament. We need to verifiably freeze Iranian enrichment and other nuclear capabilities at least 18 months short of weapons capacity. This time lag should be sufficient for the U.S. and the international community to receive sufficient warning of Iran's moves and to respond accordingly.

There’s talk of “strict supervision,” as if the Iranians would ever let anyone supervise them. If the Iranians did somehow allow outside supervisors inside their country, don’t the anti-warriors realize that honest supervisors would just be jacked around like Saddam did with his “supervisors?”

What the anti-warriors really want & what they’re really looking forward to is another 13 year period of an intractable regime mooning the West like Saddam did. They seem to enjoy having a defiant Middle Eastern despot giving the finger to the hapless West – such displays, especially if a pro-warrior is in the Whitehouse, seems to satisfy something deep inside their psyche. They’ll continue making excuses for Iran just like they’re making excuses for Saddam now.

It disappointed the anti-warriors when a submissive, unshaven & disheveled Saddam was pulled from his hole because they were well on their way to bestowing cult hero status on the butcher, just like they’ve given to bin Laden. I was watching CNN the first time Saddam appeared in court, clean shaven, neatly clothed & defiant. When the courtroom segment was over, Aaron Brown looked straight into the camera & said, “He doesn’t look so subdued now, does he,” with a sickening tone of admiration in his voice. It was one of those small moments in life which are quickly over but are defining. It was only then that I realized that the anti-warriors had actually been enjoying Saddam’s 13-year defiance, had been looking forward to a nuked-up Saddam & were hurt & disappointed when Bush stopped him.

Anti-warriors don’t like the idea of surgical strikes on Iran because such an action would produce no American casualties. They would much prefer a casualty-rich all out invasion even though they are always talking about the tragedy of casualties – you know, that garbage they come up with about keeping our ‘boys’ out of harm’s way & the anxiety they profess over collateral civilian deaths. That’s why anti-warrior pundits, without any military expertise, are currently painting any air/missile strike as useless. What they really fear is that surgical strikes would be successful & the idea of a successful Bush administration sends them into deep depression.

 
At 1:44 PM, April 14, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I'd really like to see the wages the US gets from being the world's policemen. Even police need to eat, you know, contrary to the fascistic and communistic propaganda.

Like the London blitz, once Churchill's use was over, they will also sack him. Unlike Britain, Islamic rulers only abdicate power if they are dead. Which is a Good Thing tm.

 
At 3:26 PM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

After reading over my last comment it occurred to me that some readers might easily think I was including Steve in my characterization of anti-warrior behavior & motives, re: pressing for all-out instead of surgical. Let me assure Steve & all readers that was not my intent. My contempt is for anti-warrior pundits & the MSM in general.

Although I may sharply criticize I also respect Steve’s beliefs about the war. I came to know some Marines when I was in the Navy. I served with them, got drunk with them & got a taste of Marine Corps culture. Marines are special & are entitled to be mistaken once in awhile. Steve always gets a pass on my scorn, if not my criticism.

 
At 5:53 PM, April 14, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

More juxtapositions of common sense layered over the reality matrix, that is steve's arguments.

They, as all Americans, are entitled to their opinions but they are not entitled to endangering American forces based upon bad strategy and even worse policies.

Murtha has quite proven how far you can go, at this game.

The close mindedness in steve calling any alternatives that doesn't fit into his pre-conceived notions of adequate force projection, hysterical, is indicative of a greater problem. The problem to adapt, and not go by the "Book".

This is represented by van, in an earlier comment thread here, when he said neo is being dishonest for saying things that van can't argue against. In any other circumstance, that might have been termed "convincing" on Neo's part, but people of various political spectrums are rather parochial in their outlooks.

For example, the belief that the Arabs are operating from a position of weakness, is a belief with obvious consequences because steve's strategies drastically under-estimate the Arabs and their "position".

In any war, there are the right people, the wrong people, and the people who second guess decisions made after the fact.

The ability to think outside the box is a critically important trait required in the leaders of the 21st century, if they are to conduct affairs with a modicum of success.

The symmetrical warfare of full scale invasion has already been demonstrated in Iraq as something that cannot win the war, in the theater. The demands for more troops, more logistics, and more drafted technicians and etc, is not a mobile assault mentality but a siege one. Where numbers matter, but initiative does not.

There are two indicators of bad judgement. Steve's conclusion, without evidence or quotations or logic, that Steyn advocated the nuclear bombardment of Iran. The other indication is a lack of self-honesty, in van's case for example, in considering that other people may be dishonest but that people like van are the puritans of honesty and virtue. Meaning, they consider that anyone else may deceive themselves and others, but they assume for the sake of existence that they themselves are not prone to dishonesty and deception.

These two pillars, if you will, of behavior indicates very bad judgement. Knee jerk reactionism and stubborn parochialism.

It would indeed not be fair to say that steve is calling for full draft and invasion because he wants to see more Americans die and the war a failure. Just as it is unfair for steve to say that Steyn doesn't care how many brown people die of radiation poisoning in Iran, because Steyn wants to get back at them for the hostage situation...

The difference is, I can see and admit such unfairness. Steve can't or won't, and literally has not. He gave his accussations, and now he'd rather banter with grackle than state the record clean.

steve: I actually concur that we should be working for regime change in Iran. Neo: I do think you over-estimate the self-destructiveness of the Iranian regime.

Such is the judgement of steve. To evaluate this judgement, requires some perspective as listed above.

Steve himself said that he favors "regime change". And the moment he quotes steyn calling for regime change, steve attacks steyn's position as calling for war in retaliation for a bunch of jews killed and americans taken hostage. You call this fair, you call this honorable?

Without honesty, namely self-honesty, there is no possibility for honor. Steve will call for regime change, drafts, and full scale mobilization (which he admitted he favors), and he dares to call steyn on how many his "war" will kill. How many will your war kill, steve, as opposed to the retaliation of steyn? And can any self-honest person really believe that if a retaliation attack works to stop Iran, that they would NOT prefer it? Can they have the deaths of thousands on their conscience, if they choose NOT to take it? Perhaps they can. But Steyn and I, would not go down on that path.

Right. Go for it. Don't worry about burying the bodies, or cleaning up the mess, afterwards. That's someone else's problem.

It's the basic irresponsibility of people like steve that is the problem. They favor regime change, but they don't feel it is their responsibility to come up with solutions that work with the least amount of costs. It seems these people either favor the biggest hammer in the world, or they favor no hammer at all like Murtha. The possibility of any "middle ground", the possibility of any alternative solutions don't even cross their mind. Steve said he was grateful Steyn does not hold a government position. I'm grateful there are people in government who will consider the alternatives steve dismisses, if only to limit American and Iranian casualties.

The fact remains that Steyn has essentially called for the destruction of the State of Iran: without mercy to its inhabitants, without regard to any consequences, simply to address past wrongs not commensurable to the proposed solution, and to prevent Israel from being nuked, for which he provides a very flimsy proof.

This is just hysterical rhetoric. The Cold War, which lasted over 40 years, would have lasted ten minutes if people like Steyn were in charge.


This is steve's judgement and conclusion. I suppose his standard of fairness is to be fair to nobody but himself. This is the judgement of people who are wrong, and the wrong decisions will always cause war and destruction. Instead of self-honestly correcting their prejudiced and incorrect judgements, steve will strike back.-

I would just like to say that I am sorry, but I did not realize that giving my frank opinion about Mark Steyn's bloodthirsty -- but witty -- call for the destruction of Iran was "getting in someone's way" and keeping anyone from engaging in the kind of righteous mass killing that is apparently absolutely-necessary-before-it's-too-late. My bad.

-In a rather gratuitous and dishonest fashion. The honor of the Corps should never concern itself with mass killings, so long as they are mass killings for the right reasons. Obviously some people can't spend the time to have good reason for their judgements, let alone say them on the internet in little itty bitty words.People will learn far more from Steyn's writings in the link, then they ever would from reading steve's criticisms and outlines of his own position.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_2_iran.html

Grackle will retract things that he think might be wrong, about steve. But steve won't retract things he wrongly said about Steyn. I wish people were more curious, but that's out of anyone's hands atm. Neo is curious, but not a lot of people are.

And that, perhaps, is the one lesson people need to learn about the asymmetrical conditions with Iran.

 
At 4:23 AM, April 15, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

Steve wants the draft back- he should read this:
http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/07/on_an_army_of_m.php
(some day I'll learn how to do a proper link, sorry).

 
At 11:09 AM, April 15, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Interesting and persuasive article, douglas.

some of steve's comments reminded me of Hanson's spoken words about the Peloponessian War. That prompted me to write an comparison and rendition on my blog. In some ways, Dan Simmon's analogy of the Sicily Invasion is incorrect.

 
At 9:39 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

Too bad Steve never checks in to a a string past about day three...

 
At 11:50 AM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It's called a tactical withdrawal. Otherwise known as advancing in the other direction.

 

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