Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Guns of 88 
A reader sends in this excellent article from The American Thinker on the Tanker Wars - a series of sharp battles he calls "the largest naval engagement since World War II."

(Bigger than the Falklands War?)

Anyway, here's an excerpt:

The ayatollahs’ behavior is not a product of confidence. There’s no way it could be. The Iranians are in worse shape today than in 1988. Their navy has suffered extreme neglect. Its major vessels are twenty-five to fifty years old, its personnel untrained and inexperienced. The army, with “armored” and “mechanized” divisions with more men than vehicles, is scarcely worth mentioning. So the leadership responds out of fear: shouting to overcome their own misgivings, claiming weapons they have no way of developing, and making premature announcements of “joining the nuclear club.”

Agreed. A conventional, direct engagement of any kind with the Iran will be quickly and decisively resolved in our favor. The only card Tehran can play - and they are masters at it, as we saw in the recent festivities in Lebanon - are indirect. They threaten to reactivate Hezbollah. But we cannot count on them not to do that anyway, so it's a false threat. Plus, if Hezbollah attacks Israel again, the kid gloves will truly come off - and any Israeli excesses will be drowned out by the news of Iran's navy, air force, and critical infrastructures getting torn to shreds by a U.S. Navy and Air Force more capable than ever, having processed a number of procedural, intelligence processing, and targeting lessons learned from the Iraq war.

Iran can try to manipulate oil production. But it's a lot harder for them to do so now, when a friendly Iraq won't follow suit. (Don't count on Iraq to surge production, though - Iraq has cranked up to max throughput - one of several reasons the price of oil is falling. (Incidentally, I'm quite confident that the real reason oil prices are falling is because of an expected production slowdown - maybe because China's economy is easing to a more manageable level, reducing demand. But it's so early in the cycle that the slowdown is invisible so far in other economic data. (And looking at employment data is like looking in the rear view mirror)).

Iran can also try to retaliate via terror strikes on the U.S. itself. Well, can we really be so assured that they aren't plotting these attacks already?

And if the threat of terror attacks on the U.S. is really restraining our freedom of action, then how much more so would the threat of terror attacks sponsored by a nuclear Iran?

If Iran's terror threat is credible, that is all the more reason to strike now, when they do not have the capability to mount a commensurate response.

Lastly, Iran can also try to make trouble for us in Iraq. Again, though, I think their capacity to do so is limited - especially if the Mullahs do not survive a conflict with the United States.

We should be taking steps in advance to counter, mitigate, or neutralize these actions. Iran can pack a nasty sting. But we should not be taking counsel of our fears. Iran has far, far more to lose in a confrontation with the U.S. than we do.

All they can do is inconvenience us. All they can do is cause an oil price spike in the short run (bankrupting themselves in the process).

We've survived oil price spikes before. We just did. Further, I would posit that oil price futures already contain a substantial risk premium BECAUSE of the possibility that Iran will become a nuclear power.

If the US is strong now, that risk premium will disappear. It will be, theoretically, replaced by another risk premium. But after Iran is put down, I would argue that oil prices, in the long term, would be lower than they would be with Ahmadenijad and his Merry Band of Mullahs left in power to roil oil and capital markets, threaten shipping in the Persian Gulf, and threaten Kuwait, Oman, Riyadh, and the UAE with nuclear annihilation if they don't get their way.

Much less Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Splash, out


I agree, but it'd be a hard sell to most of the country, let alone the rest of the world. Most people cannot, or will not, look at it in the long term.
My question...is our military capable of sustaining that front? I know we have the capapbility to initiate the fight, but can we maintain it afterwards? I see no reason that it'll be very different than Iraq in terms of the time and effort we'd have to put into it, to make sure that the people control their own destiny not another cut-throat mullah. Although I have no issue with the need to strike at Iran, I just worry that we won't be able to sustain the fight. As you've mentioned (and recently a NG General has been crying about on MSM) the NG has been stretched about as far as it can go. Almost 100% of the units have had their max of 2 deployments in 5 years. Not to mention, what equipment they brought back is failing with no budget for major improvements or replacements.
What are your thoughts on whether or not we could sustain any real action against Iran?
"Iran can also try to retaliate via terror strikes on the U.S. itself. Well, can we really be so assured that they aren't plotting these attacks already?"

You know that if there is another terrorist attack on American soil, the moonbats will scream, "See, if we weren't in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of this would have happened!"

Like it took us being in Iraq for terrorists to go after us.
I don't think a long-term occupation of Iran is seriously in the cards.

Don't underestimate the reserve of power the U.S. holds, though. The equipment is a bit banged up, and there will be shortages of certain things initially - particularly in units that loaned gear to units in contact in Iraq.

The problem isn't in staffing or resourcing the fight. Remember, the US military is designed to fight two major regional conflicts simultaneously.

The real problem is that once we do take on a second conflict, then we are drawn off balance when it comes to a third threat. Say, if North Korea takes the opportunity to attakc South Korea, or China takes the opportunity to attack or seriously threaten Taiwan - what then?

Well, then we run into a resourcing problem.

Remember, the U.S. has millions under arms. Only 148,000 are committed in Iraq - and many logistics troops can support both fights anyway.

Nevertheless, I don't see this being an Army war. The Navy will be the lead service vis. Iran, if it comes to blows.

And the Navy's got some punch.

Not a decisive punch (unless we go nuclear). Only the Army can go in for the knockout. But in a war of limited objective, the Navy and Air Force are more than capable of putting a hurting on a nation with a one-trick-pony oil economy, such as Iran.

Splash, out

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