Friday, September 22, 2006

The Nation on Prospects of War with Iran 
The Nation, which never met a dictator it didn't love since Ronald Reagan took office, is taking a look at the looming confrontation with Iran - a confrontation I regard as inevitable, barring an Allah Ex Machina sort of intervention.

Note that there's already a blurb stating that the article was updated on September 27th, five days from now. Hey, these guys are fast!

As reports circulate of a sharp debate within the White House over possible US military action against Iran and its nuclear enrichment facilities, The Nation has learned that the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have moved up the deployment of a major "strike group" of ships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine escort and supply ship, to head for the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast. This information follows a report in the current issue of Time magazine, both online and in print, that a group of ships capable of mining harbors has received orders to be ready to sail for the Persian Gulf by October 1.

As Time writes in its cover story, "What Would War Look Like?," evidence of the forward deployment of minesweepers and word that the chief of naval operations had asked for a reworking of old plans for mining Iranian harbors "suggest that a much discussed--but until now largely theoretical--prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran."

I would bloody well hope so!!!! You can never start lining up your rooks too early.

But check this out:

First word of the early dispatch of the "Ike Strike" group to the Persian Gulf region came from several angry officers on the ships involved, who contacted antiwar critics like retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner and complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress.

Dang we got some dumb people out there in the fleet. The President doesn't need a congressional authorization to engage in the time-honored practice of gunboat diplomacy. He just needs officers to execute his orders.

Gardiner's notion that it is against US law to attack Iranian nuclear facilities seems like a bit of a stretch to me, although it might be against Iranian law.

If it is illegal for Bush to attack nuclear sites in Iran, it was equally illegal for Clinton to bomb chemical factories in Sudan - a fact that seems to have escaped the editors of The Nation.

Gardiner says that while the United States has the capability to hit those sites with its cruise missiles, "the Iranians have many more options than we do: They can activate Hezbollah; they can organize riots all over the Islamic world, including Pakistan, which could bring down the Musharraf government, putting nuclear weapons into terrorist hands; they can encourage the Shia militias in Iraq to attack US troops; they can blow up oil pipelines and shut the Persian Gulf."

Maybe. But they can't sustain it - especially if they're losing. And if we hit them now, they won't be able to slip these yahoos a few nukes and have their proxies set them off in New York, Los Angeles, and Tel Aviv.

Most of the major oil-producing states in the Middle East have substantial Shiite populations, which has long been a concern of their own Sunni leaders and of Washington policy-makers, given the sometimes close connection of Shiite populations to Iran's religious rulers.

Most of those Shiites are Arabs. There is no love lost between Arab Shiites and Iran. And in the long run, the moderate Arab states don't want Iran to have the bomb any more than they wanted it for Saddam.

Iran can make some trouble. I wouldn't overstate it, though. After all, not even the overthrow of a Sunni Arab leader like Saddam caused excessive instability in the rest of the middle east. Well, it prompted Qaddaffi to abandon his nukes, led to reforms in Egypt, and caused Syria to get kicked out of Lebanon (mostly). If that's instability, more like that, please!

Of course, Gardiner agrees, recent ship movements and other signs of military preparedness could be simply a bluff designed to show toughness in the bargaining with Iran over its nuclear program. But with the Iranian coast reportedly armed to the teeth with Chinese Silkworm antiship missiles, and possibly even more sophisticated Russian antiship weapons, against which the Navy has little reliable defenses, it seems unlikely the Navy would risk high-value assets like aircraft carriers or cruisers with such a tactic. Nor has bluffing been a Bush MO to date.

Damn, this guy's a pussy. Yes, Iran is dangerous. But how about some ideas on how to kick their ass? Hmmmm?

I mean, you can fret all day long about what the enemy MIGHT do to you. But no officer worth his salt is going to let that define the action, when he can concentrate on what we WILL do to the enemy.

Why not force THEM to do the worrying for a change?

At any rate, I don't think we should overstate the significance of bumping up the deployment. I mean, these guys only do six month floats. Well, you're warriors, gents. I know it's been a while since the Navy was involved in a serious fight, but get with the program.

The military isn't all deck ceremonies and commissary priviledges. So you had to leave a month early.


It is possible, though, that Israel has picked a date for a crippling strike of their own, and informed the U.S. In which case, the Secretary of Defense will want to preserve the President's options. It does not neccessarily mean that the US is planning a unilateral strike. But if Iran strikes at US forces in Kuwait in retaliation for an Israeli strike, we're gonna want to be able to put a world of hurt on those bastards.

And no SECDEF is going to want to have to apologize to the President for having a carrier battlegroup weeks out of position.

Splash, out


Lets put it this way. Iran will not have a merry Christmas in 2006. The fireworks will come too early.
Two things.

First, the author is taking this Gardiner dude's word for it that he really has reliable sources in TF Ike who are willing to violate their security clearances by communicating future operations with him. Highly unlikely.

Second, you vastly understate the desires of the Arab muslim countries' desire for Iran not to have the bomb. Too damn many people think of Iran as an Arab country. It's not, and the Arabs know it and loathe it. They fear a nuclear armed Iran more than they do us because there are no nuclear Arab countries. Iran has the money, the educated populace, and the military might to cause Arabs real trouble all the way to Mecca if they get the 'bomb'. Add to the argument the fact that Iran is supporting the Palestinians and other non-Arab terrorist-oriented minoritites in the region. The Arabs aren't going to publicly oppose Islamo-theocratic-extremist Iran, but they'll work like dogs (or is it camels?) behind the scenes to keep Iran from getting the bomb.
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