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The Case for Invading Iran

| 248 Comments | 33 TrackBacks

by Thomas Holsinger

America has come to another turning point � whether our inaction will again engulf the world and us in a nightmare comparable to World War Two. This will entail loss of our freedom as the price of domestic security measures against terrorist weapons of mass destruction, though we might suffer nuclear attack before implementing those measures. The only effective alternative is American use of pre-emptive military force against an imminent threat � Iranian nuclear weapons, which requires that we invade Iran and overthrow its mullah regime as we did to Iraq�s Baathist regime.

All the reasons for invading Iraq apply doubly to Iran, and with far greater urgency. Iran right now poses the imminent threat to America which Iraq did not in 2003. Iran may already have some nuclear weapons, purchased from North Korea or made with materials acquired from North Korea, which would increase its threat to us from imminent to direct and immediate.

Iran�s mullahs are about to produce their first home-built nuclear weapons this year. If we permit that, many other countries, some of whose governments are dangerously unstable, will build their own nuclear weapons to deter Iran and each other from nuclear attack as our inaction will have demonstrated our unwillingness to keep the peace. This rapid and widespread proliferation will inevitably lead to use of nuclear weapons in anger, both by terrorists and by fearful and unstable third world regimes, at which point the existing world order will break down and we will suffer every Hobbesian nightmare of nuclear proliferation.

Iran has dramatically shortened the time required to acquire the necessary weapons-grade fissionable materials by purchase abroad of pre-enriched, but not yet weapons-grade, fissionable materials (not just from North Korea). Iran�s technicians already have the expertise to fabricate functional nuclear weapons. The latter opinion is held by, among others, Mohamed El Baradei, director-general of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, who said that Iran can produce nuclear weapons in a few months if it has the requisite weapons-grade fissionables: "And if they have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponization program along the way, they are really not very far�a few months�from a weapon."

It normally takes years to produce the highly purified fissionables required for nuclear weapons � that is the only obstacle after Pakistan let its nuclear weapons program director sell the knowledge of weapons fabrication to anyone with enough money. All estimates alleging that it will take Iran years to produce nuclear weapons assume that they will do so from scratch, but that is not the case. Iran purchased pre-enriched fissionables with the intent of �breaking out� in a short period to a fully stocked production �pipeline� of fissionables under enrichment at all stages of the process, from �yellowcake� at the low end to almost ready at the high end.

It is possible, and in my opinion has already happened, that Iran has purchased enough nuclear materials from North Korea to fabricate a few nuclear weapons and facilitate the following strategy. Iran could minimize the duration of a �window� of vulnerability to pre-emptive American or Israeli attack between their first nuclear tests (or announcement that they have nuclear weapons), and possession of enough nukes to deter attack, by postponing the announcement and/or first tests until they have a full-speed production line going � everything from enriching fissionables to weapons-grade and fabricating those into nuclear weapons, to stocks of finished nuclear weapons. At that point most or all of the latter will likely be of North Korean origin, but those will be quickly outnumbered by made-in-Iran ones under final assembly at the time of the announcement. I believe this is the plan Iran is following, and that the announcement will come late this year.

The recent spike in world oil prices gave Iran�s mullahs billions of dollars more in hard currency for use in acquiring material for their nuclear weapons program. The timing of their ongoing breakout to public nuclear weapons capability, and the public threats of Iran�s president, indicate that some recent event has given them additional confidence here. I feel this was their purchase of enough nuclear weapons materials from North Korea to fabricate a few nuclear weapons. They might have bought fully operational North Korean nukes. Such North Korean complicity carries other implications.

Whatever the reason, Iran�s mullahs no longer seem to feel a need to wait for final processing of fissionables, and fabrication of those into nuclear weapons, before their nuclear deterrent against the United States is ready. They act like they presently have that deterrent, and are proceeding to backfill their fissionable processing and weapons fabrication line before announcing that they have nuclear weapons. America�s election cycle plus the Bush administration�s fictitious budget estimates might also have a role in the timing of this announcement.

Those who have considered the consequences of Iran�s open possession of nuclear weapons (as opposed to covert possession) have generally focused on its avowed threats against Israel and the United States. Those are certainly enough grounds for pre-emptive attack by both � Iran�s mullah regime is the one government in the entire world whose possession of nuclear weapons would most pose a direct and immediate threat to America and Israel.

Iran�s mullahs will use nuclear weapons as a shield against foreign attack while they more openly support terrorism elsewhere. American acquiescence in Iranian nuclear weapons will lose the war on terror by ceding terrorists a �privileged sanctuary� in Iran. We�ll have let terrorists have in Iran what we invaded Iraq to stop. The invasion of Iraq will have been a complete waste of effort, and our dead in Iraq will have died in vain.

The chief threat of Iranian nukes, however, is what they will lead to elsewhere � something which will make all of the above trivial by comparison, something which will go on and on long after Iran�s mullah regime is overthrown by the Iranian people.

If the United States does not forcibly prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons, every country in the area will know to a moral certainty that they cannot rely on the United States for protection against Iranian nuclear attack, or Iranian nuclear blackmail in support of domestic opposition to the generally shaky regimes of the Middle East. American prestige and influence there will collapse. If we won�t protect ourselves by pre-emption, we can�t be relied on to protect anyone else.

So every country within reach of Iranian nuclear weapons will have enormous strategic pressure to develop their own nuclear weapons to deter Iranian nuclear threats. As a recent strategic survey noted, Syria has many times the per capita and absolute GDP of North Korea, and Egypt several times the per capita and absolute GDP of Pakistan. If North Korea and Pakistan can develop nuclear weapons, so can Syria and Egypt, and also Saudi Arabia, all three of whose regimes are shaky. And they won�t be the only countries to develop nuclear weapons after Iran does - many more will join the nuclear �club� within a few years, some within months.

All of those countries having nuclear weapons will create a security nightmare � at some point terrorists will be able to buy or steal some (assuming that Iran doesn�t first give a few to favored terrorist groups). It is likely that at least some will use their nuclear weapons on each other, or in a domestic coup or factional fight. The latter might first happen in Iran.

Few have any idea of the degree to which international trade and prosperity relies on free movement of goods between countries. Container cargo is an ideal means of covertly transporting terrorist nuclear weapons. Once the first terrorist nuke is used, international trade will be enormously curtailed for at least several months for security reasons, and the entire world will suffer a simultaneous recession.

It won�t stop there, though. These same security precautions, once implemented, will significantly impede future economic growth � a ballpark estimate of reducing worldwide growth by 20-30% is reasonable. Consider the worldwide and domestic effects over a twenty-year period of a one-quarter across the board reduction in economic growth.

This will be just from security precautions against terrorist nukes �not physical destruction from such use nor, more importantly, the consequences of nuclear wars between or within third world states. Physical destruction from these will be bad enough, but that pales compared with the social and consequent economic effects � enormous tides of refugees, economic collapse and outright anarchy over wide areas.

We cannot avoid that washing over us from abroad even if we manage to avoid terrorist nuclear attack at home, and we are unlikely to be so lucky. Scores if not hundreds of thousands of Americans will likely be killed, and many more injured, from terrorist nuclear devices used in America when so many politically unstable countries possess hundreds of the things.

We better than most can economically afford the thoroughly intrusive security measures required to protect against terrorist nukes when the threat can come from anywhere, as opposed to Islamic extremists alone.

But the price of domestic security, when foreign security fails due to a failure of leadership and will by President Bush, will be something much more precious � our freedom.

Freedom everywhere will suffer due to those same security precautions. The greatest loss of freedom will come in those countries which are freest, i.e., especially America. Especially us.

THIS is what is really at stake � the freedom which makes us Americans.

It is obvious that Iran�s leaders cannot be deterred from developing nuclear weapons. The U.N. won�t stop them. Diplomatic solutions won�t � the mullahs� bad faith is obvious. Their diplomacy serves the same purpose as Japan�s with us in late 1941 after their carrier attack fleet had sailed for Pearl Harbor - to distract us from the coming attack. We are at that same point now, only we know the Kido Butai is coming and have no excuse for surprise. Iran�s President has openly stated their real intentions. Iranian diplomacy merely lets the willing deceive themselves.

There isn�t time to overthrow Iran�s mullah regime through subversion before the end of this year, and President Bush�s toleration of factional disputes in our national security apparatus means that we lack the capability to do so, period.

Iran seems to be in a pre-revolutionary state such that its mullah regime will collapse from purely domestic reasons within a few years even if we do nothing, but by then it will have openly had nuclear weapons for several years, possibly used them against Israel and/or been pre-emptively nuked by Israel, and widespread nuclear proliferation will have started with all the horrors that will bring.

Only military force THIS YEAR can prevent this nightmare. Bombing alone won�t do it � it will only postpone things, and Iran�s mullahs won�t just sit there while we�re bombing them. War is a two-way street. They have spent years preparing for this conflict, and will try to stop Persian Gulf oil exports. There will also be an instant massive uprising by Iranian-led Shiite militias in southern Iraq.

Half-measures in war only make things worse. If we really want to find out how much Iran�s mullah regime can hurt us, and relearn the lessons of Vietnam, we need only bomb without invading. That will maximize our losses. Those who advocate mere bombing have not considered that Iran might already have some nuclear weapons.

Israel does not have the military capability we do. Israeli air attack against Iran�s dispersed and hardened nuclear facilities will at most postpone Iranian production by a few months. The United States Air Force can postpone it for as long as we keep up the attacks, but the mullahs will counterattack such that we�ll be at war whether we want to be or not, only with no chance of victory while we�re afraid to win.

The only effective way to stop the mullahs from building nukes, while minimizing our losses from their counter-attacks, is to overthrow their regime by invasion and conquest as we did against Saddam Hussein�s regime in Iraq.

Democratic military experts agreed in a recent Atlantic Monthly article that eliminating Iran's mullah regime with a ground invasion is feasible - they were more optimistic about it than I am (my emphasis:
"In all their variety, these and other regime-change plans he described had two factors in common. One is that they minimized "stability" efforts�everything that would happen after the capital fell. "We want to take out of this operation what has caused us problems in Iraq," Gardiner of CentCom said, referring to the postwar morass. "The idea is to give the President an option that he can execute that will involve about twenty days of buildup that will probably not be seen by the world. Thirty days of operation to regime change and taking down the nuclear system, and little or no stability operations. Our objective is to be on the outskirts of Tehran in about two weeks. The notion is we will not have a Battle of Tehran; we don't want to do that. We want to have a battle around the city. We want to bring our combat power to the vicinity of Tehran and use Special Operations to take the targets inside the capital. We have no intention of getting bogged down in stability operations in Iran afterwards. Go in quickly, change the regime, find a replacement, and get out quickly after having destroyed�rendered inoperative�the nuclear facilities."
I believe the durations mentioned in the Atlantic article should be at least doubled � it won�t take us only 7-10 more days to overthrow Iran�s regime than it did Iraq�s, not to mention locating and destroying the known and secret nuclear facilities scattered over a wide area. I feel the Atlantic panel significantly underestimated logistic problems. Our forces must pass through mountains to get to Iran�s capital of Teheran, while getting to Baghdad required passage only through deserts and broad river valleys. Iran is much bigger than Iraq, so our ground forces will have a greater distance to travel, while even minor resistance in mountain passes will cause significant delays.

The Atlantic article concluded that eliminating the mullah regime was feasible � we agree that Iranian ground resistance will be minor, especially compared to our forces� extreme effectiveness - but the Atlantic panelists felt that the consequences had too high a price. I agree that the occupation campaign afterwards will be much worse for us, in terms of intensity and required manpower, than the occupation campaign in Iraq � they felt the necessary manpower required for several years� occupation duty would be prohibitive. They did not, however, even attempt to weigh that against the consequences of letting Iran have nuclear weapons, the effects of it already having some, and the probable duration of an occupation campaign. I do. The tradeoffs between the cost of an extended occupation in Iran, and its desirability, change dramatically if we must search for easily concealed, ready-to-use nuclear weapons, as opposed to merely destroying the physical ability to produce them.

I also feel the occupation campaign in Iran will take much less time than the one in Iraq for the following reasons:

(1) Iran has a functioning civil society and democratic tradition while Iraq didn't. The mullahs veto candidates they don't like, more in the past few years than earlier, but the systems and mindset for a functioning democratic society are present.

(2) We can use many of the Iranian army's junior officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel as a cadre for the new democratic regime's security forces. We couldn't do that with Iraq's army as the officers and non-coms were almost exclusively Sunni Arabs aka Baathist regime loyalists, and the mostly Shiite conscripts had almost all gone home.

3) Iran has at least one order of magnitude, and probably several orders of magnitude, less loose explosives than were present in Iraq, for possible use in improvised explosive devices. The mullah regime die-hards will die much faster than the Baathist die-hards in Iraq, because the ones in Iran will be attacking our forces mostly with direct-fire weapons. That is suicidal against American forces.

4) Language and ethnicity differences mean that Al Qaeda's purely Sunni foreign terrorists won't be able to operate much in Iran. The latter operated only briefly in Shiite areas of Iraq - those that didn't leave quickly died horribly at Shiite hands. While there are a lot of Sunnis in Iran, few of those are Arabs - they're Kurds, Azeris, etc.

My rough estimate of American casualties in the conquest and occupation campaigns for Iran, assuming that the mullahs don't nuke us, or use chemical weapons, is that we'd take about 50% more casualties in the first 18-24 months in Iran than in three years in Iraq, mostly in the twelve month period after the initial conquest.

I agree with the Atlantic panelists that the conquest campaign in Iran would, in terms of casualties, cost little more than Iraq�s - several hundred allied KIA. I just think it would take longer.

Everyone I know of with opinions on the subject agrees that the occupation campaign in Iran would be more intense than Iraq's, but Iraq's has seen only about 1700 KIA (or is it total fatalities including accidents?) during the 33 months of the occupation to date. That is about 50 fatalities per month for an average of about 120,000 troops (1 fatality per month per 2400 troops).

If Iran's occupation entails 200,000 men and is twice as intense as Iraq's in terms of casualties, we're looking at 1 fatality per 1200 men per month. 200k x 12 months = 2400k divided by 1200 = 2000 fatalities per year. This is certainly a lot compared to Iraq�s occupation campaign, but it also indicates that American casualties in Iran will be acceptable by any reasonable standard.

In my opinion the occupation campaign in Iran will be awful only for the first year, and then conditions will improve much faster than in Iraq for reasons mentioned above in this post. My guesstimate at this point is about 3000 American fatalities over two years for both the conquest and occupation campaigns in Iran, though the first year would be ghastly.

That Iran may already have some nuclear weapons (IMO this is likely) complicates a prospective invasion. We�d had a plan for several years to destroy Iran�s nuclear weapons capability (i.e., the launchers as well as the warheads) � it is called variously �Global Strike� and CONPLAN 8022. The United States Air Force excels at blowing things up.

Consider also, that, if small numbers of Iranian nuclear weapons are enough of a threat to seriously menace an American invasion, they are enough of a threat to merit pre-emptive attack with American nuclear weapons. Get real - our nukes are bigger than theirs, and we have lots more than they do. And if Iranian nuclear weapons aren�t enough of a threat to merit pre-emptive use of our own, they�re not a reason to avoid invading. It is not likely, however, that the USAF will need nuclear weapons to keep the mullahs from getting any off.

Did I mention the bribes? Now is the time for some breathtaking bribes � say a billion dollars per Iranian nuke delivered to us, which would be cheap given the alternative. Once we demonstrate the will to invade and eliminate the mullah regime, such bribes would be more effective than most think. Psychological warfare was wildly successful in the invasion of Iraq.

Fear of possible Iranian nuclear weapons use against an American invasion is not a valid reason for doing nothing. A thousand more American civilians have been killed by enemy action at home in this war than American servicemen killed at home and abroad. Not invading Iran will increase this disparity by several orders of magnitude. We have armed forces to protect our civilians from the enemy, not vice versa � soldiers die so civilians don�t. We will invade Iran to protect the American people from nuclear attack. That is worth the risk posed by Iranian nuclear weapons to American soldiers, and the burden of deploying 200,000 troops there for several years. Our reserves knew when they enlisted that they�d be called up for the duration of a major war. Invasion of Iran to protect America from nuclear attack, and preserve our freedom, counts as a major war.

This would, however, make absolute hash of the Bush administration's quite fictitious future budget estimates, which are the reason why it refused to significantly expand our ground forces after 9/11 though such was obviously necessary. Those phony budget estimates are arguably the biggest obstacle to our invasion of Iran this year. Iran�s mullahs might even have counted on this in timing their breakout to public nuclear weapons possession.

And if we don't invade this year, it won't matter much after that. We'll be in the worst case scenario. And President Bush will be reviled as America�s worst President � the one who through inaction cost us our freedom.

UPDATE: Joe responds here on Winds with "Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War". It begins with Chesterton:

"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"

33 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 19, 2006 3:40 PM
Excerpt: I strongly suggest that you read this very important post on Winds of Change. Guest blogger Tom Holsinger explains why he believes that it’s necessary for the United States to invade Iran, what might be expected in such an invasion, and what mi...
Tracked: January 19, 2006 6:45 PM
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Tracked: January 19, 2006 7:56 PM
Excerpt: Dean's not alone anymore. Tom Holsinger makes the case for invading Iran on Winds of Change. Be sure t...
Tracked: January 19, 2006 8:42 PM
political will from Dean's World
Excerpt: Suffice it to say that I am deeply skeptical of the competence of the Administration in any attempt to replace the regime in Iran; I have however reasonable confidence that we could destroy the regime in Iran.
Tracked: January 20, 2006 3:09 AM
Excerpt: . . . rapid and widespread proliferation will inevitably lead to use of nuclear weapons in anger, both by terrorists and by fearful and unstable third world regimes, at which point the existing world order will break down and we
Tracked: January 20, 2006 7:36 AM
Iran: Should We Invade? from The Bernoulli Effect
Excerpt: I wrote the other day about my concept of life as a statistical continuum--the idea that the natural laws of statistical probability give results that are sometimes counterintuitive to everyday life. A good example is the recent hurricane season in...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 3:52 PM
Why Iran Must Be Invaded from GOP Bloggers
Excerpt: In spite of the refusal of the "international community" to do anything about it, Iran's nuclear threat is the world's primary security peril. This article argues for an invasion of Iran to defuse that threat. It may or may not...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 5:44 PM
PRE-EMPTING IRAN from Peaktalk
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Tracked: January 20, 2006 7:49 PM
Excerpt: Leading the (rhetorical) charge against Tehran at The Corner, Stanley Kurtz points us to this amazing agitprop: All the reasons for invading Iraq apply doubly to Iran, and with far greater urgency. Iran right now poses the imminent threat to...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 7:50 PM
Excerpt: Via Regime Change Iran: Tehran plans nuclear weapon test b...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:25 PM
Typhoons of Change from The Jawa Report
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Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:36 PM
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Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:42 PM
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Excerpt: A reader/commentor asked where I stand on the Iran/nuclear weapons creation issue. For the record, I do not post on issues because someone demands to know where I stand, but this is an issue that, as a concerned citizen of the world, I cannot ignore, ...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 12:04 AM
The Case for Invading Iran from Outside The Beltway | OTB
Excerpt: Thomas Holsinger has a long essay on “The Case for Invading Iran” over at Winds of Change. All the reasons for invading Iraq apply doubly to Iran, and with far greater urgency. Iran right now poses the imminent threat to America which Iraq ...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 1:51 AM
Excerpt: The blogospheric chatter on Iran and its looming nuclear weapons capability is rising to a high-rolling boil of late. NRO: President Bush has said repeatedly that the United States will accept no such thing. We take him at his word. For Iran ...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 3:17 PM
Good article from exvigilare
Excerpt: Thomas Holsinger is guest blogging over at Winds of Change. He has a can't-miss article on the war in Iraq. No, really - don't miss it....
Tracked: January 21, 2006 3:56 PM
The debate on Iran from The Glittering Eye
Excerpt: The debate on the situation with respect to Iran continues at Winds of Change with three lengthy posts by three different people with three different prescriptions in as many days. In a comment to one these posts the always-thoughtful Jeff Medcalf of...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 9:15 PM
Excerpt: Stanley Kurtz continues to thump his belligerent tub for an Iran invasion, approvingly citing Fred Kaplan's lack of an answer as a kind of endorsement of his preferred lunatic solution. But there is a bigger problem with Mr. Kaplan's Iran...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 10:53 PM
Invade Iran? from justbarkingmad.com
Excerpt: At Winds of Change Tom Holsinger makes a great case for invading Iran…if one ignores the reality of domestic and global politics. Clearly Iran is the center of a coming conflict, nor is there any doubt that Iran is building nuclear weapons. A p...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 2:44 AM
Excerpt: Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz walks out from a news conference in Tel Aviv December 11, 2005. Mofaz warned the people of Iran on Saturday that their president would bring disaster and suffering upon them if he continued to call for the destruct...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 3:08 AM
Excerpt: Cross-posted from Random Fate. --- For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong.    -H. L. Mencken...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 8:07 AM
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Excerpt: Thomas Holsinger makes the case for invading Iran. And don't miss the discussion in the comments. Stuff like this is why "Winds of Change" is a "must read" site whatever your political orientation. Winds of Change.NET: The Case for Invading...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 2:54 PM
Excerpt: What is the primary evidence for the assertion that Iran will have a bomb soon if not already? The words of the Iranian President, for one, and the deliberate kabuki ...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 6:00 PM
IRAN WATCH from Michelle Malkin
Excerpt: Link Mecca has the latest on Iran's plans for nuclear testing. Israel is watching. Winds of Change weighs in with the case for invading Iran. Rhetoric round-up at RWV. More at Regime Change Iran....
Tracked: January 22, 2006 7:31 PM
Excerpt: The Officers’ Club (again) finds a goodie. In short, the President and SecDef have, since 2002, had the Armed Forces continually refining plans for unwarned strikes against Iran and North Korea in order to defang these cruds. You can read the ...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 7:59 PM
Iraq, Iran... I married. from AngryWhitey
Excerpt: Must read. If you've ever wondered why we have to strike Iran right now, there's every reason you'll need. The hows, whys, and what fors are all laid out there for you to read. It's definitely...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 11:14 PM
The Case for Invading Iran from Rocket's Brain Trust
Excerpt: HT Winds of Change and Stratfro via Chicago Boyz Here are four essays from the last several days re the case for a premptive strike or other actions against Iran. The Case for Invading Iran by Guest Author ...
Tracked: January 23, 2006 1:28 AM
Wingnuts never learn from The Liberal Avenger
Excerpt: Michelle and Jesse Malkin link favorably to another wingnut blogger “weighing in with the case for invading Iran.”: America has come to another turning point whether our inaction will again engulf the world and us in a nightmare compara...
Tracked: January 23, 2006 11:16 AM
Worrying about Iran from George Junior
Excerpt: When I talk to people over here about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran they seem quite sanguine about it. I think theyve all pretty much absorbed the BBC line, most succinctly put by John Simpson in his Global...
Tracked: January 24, 2006 8:40 PM
The Latest on Iran from The RCP Blog
Excerpt: In recent weeks much has been written on the growing threat of Iran.  There is a wide range of opinion on the subject, so it can be difficult to keep up with the opposing camps.  One point on which everyone...
Tracked: February 14, 2006 5:18 AM
Excerpt: For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong.    -H. L. Mencken From James Joyner at Outside the Beltway: The problem with a pre-emptive war to avoid a possible war at the time of the enemy’s ch...
Tracked: June 2, 2006 2:57 PM
Excerpt: There are many good reasons why war with Iran should be an absolute last resort, and a ghastly one at that (more here from an advocate of invasion); while I continue to believe that the Iranian regime is a serious...
Tracked: June 16, 2006 8:00 AM
Strange Bedfellows from Flynn Files
Excerpt: According to documents obtained in Iraq, al Qaeda wants America to attack Iran. According to documents obtained in America, so do many uber-patriots. Jingoes of the world, unite!...

248 Comments

Iraq's pool-table flat terrain (most everywhere but the Kurdish north, where we could expect popular support anyway) and emaciated armed forces were highly inviting to an invasion. Iran, in contrast, is far more rugged and has armed forces that weren't just crushed ten years ago. Also, the Iranian military and political command structure doesn't begin and end with one man as Iraq's did. I'm not sure that simply siezing Tehran would collapse organized defense. Qom and Isfahan come to mind as other likely centers of resistance.

An invasion would be far more costly to pull off, and guerilla resistance would have a far more rugged country to hide in. There may be less loose ordnance in Iran than there is in Iraq, but the Revolutionary Guards have been in existance for far longer, and have had far longer to plan and prepare for a guerilla campaign in Iran, than the Fedayeen did in Iraq (not that the Fedayeen have much to do with the current Iraqi insurgency, but they got it off the ground).

I'm undecided about the broader political arguments for an invasion of Iran, but I think the greater costs make it very unlikely to happen in any event.

Umbriel,

The military resistance of the Iranian Army and regime security forces are the last thing we have to worry about.

The nature of 3rd world militaries guarentees they are push overs.

I gave the template for them in my post "The Myth of Chinese Air Power"

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/003628.php

All 3rd World States, including China, are a thin veneer of modernity stretched over a sea of abject poverty. This means they are literally one person deep in any given technological or organizational skill. The end result of this is that the average 3rd world regime looks something like this:

1. The dictator/ruling faction is in the capitol and is protected by the REGIME SECURITY FORCES from the Army.

2. The Army is located away from the capitol in the provinces chasing/producing rebels. The REGIME SECURITY FORCE have informers in the Army and visible political officers that watch units for disloyalty. The political officers also function to reduce the military effectiveness of Army units because militarily effective Army units are a threat to the regime.

3. The Air Force is split in two. There are the ground support aircraft in the provinces to chase rebels and there is a unit of air superiority jet fighters in the capitol with zero air-to ground attack capability. The pilots of the capitol protection jets are the best paid and pampered people in the military. They and their families live in grandly built government housing guarded by the REGIME SECURITY FORCES.

4. The air force headquarters is built in a huge high rise building in the center of the capitol city. Meanwhile the Army and REGIME SECURITY FORCE headquarters are built in bomb proof bunkers.

This is a great simplification. For example, there are always many seperate REGIME SECURITY FORCES, meant to watch each other, as well as the Army and air force. Saddam Hussein's regime was a prime example of this.

However, the point of the template is this. The majority of successful 3rd world coup attempts are launched from inside the air force. The reason is simple. The Army can be maintained at a much lower level of professional competence and still be intimidating bully boys. The air force must have a higher minimum level of organizational competence simply to fly its aircraft. Organizational competence of any kind concentrated in one place lends itself strongly to the organizational skill necessary to launch a sucessful coup.

Iran, in contrast, is far more rugged and has armed forces that weren't just crushed ten years ago.

Iran's armed forces today are less powerful in every measurable category of major weapons systems than Iraq's were in 1991...and they were beaten by Iraq on the battle field.

Also, the Iranian military and political command structure doesn't begin and end with one man as Iraq's did. I'm not sure that simply siezing Tehran would collapse organized defense. Qom and Isfahan come to mind as other likely centers of resistance.

The same was true with the Fedayeen Saddam.

All they wound up doing during the invasion was greasing the treads of our Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

An invasion would be far more costly to pull off, and guerilla resistance would have a far more rugged country to hide in. There may be less loose ordnance in Iran than there is in Iraq, but the Revolutionary Guards have been in existance for far longer, and have had far longer to plan and prepare for a guerilla campaign in Iran, than the Fedayeen did in Iraq (not that the Fedayeen have much to do with the current Iraqi insurgency, but they got it off the ground).

I believe Tom covered that in his post here:

(2) We can use many of the Iranian army's junior officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel as a cadre for the new democratic regime's security forces. We couldn't do that with Iraq's army as the officers and non-coms were almost exclusively Sunni Arabs aka Baathist regime loyalists, and the mostly Shiite conscripts had almost all gone home.

3) Iran has at least one order of magnitude, and probably several orders of magnitude, less loose explosives than were present in Iraq, for possible use in improvised explosive devices. The mullah regime die-hards will die much faster than the Baathist die-hards in Iraq, because the ones in Iran will be attacking our forces mostly with direct-fire weapons. That is suicidal against American forces.

In my opinion the American people will not support an invasion of Iran. The Democrats and the Left would crucify the President and tear the country apart if he tries.

No, I am very much afraid that the American people, and the people of the world for that matter, are not be ready to look the thing in the face, see it for what it is, and pay the price.

They will wait until much later when the cost will be ever so much higher. Then they will relearn the lessons of their grandfathers.

I agree with both Tom's and Michael's assessments: an invasion in force of Iran, removing the current regime, and occupying the country is militarily doable but politically impossible.

It begins.

If we let Iran have nukes, everyone will get them. I'm not the only one who suspects Iran has some already.

"France defends right to nuclear reply to terrorism

By Elizabeth Pineau

France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent.

Deflecting criticism of France's costly nuclear arms program, President Jacques Chirac said security came at a price and France must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state's centers of power and its "capacity to act."

He said there was no change in France's overall policy, which rules out the use of nuclear weapons in a military conflict. But his speech pointed to a change of emphasis to underline the growing threat France perceives from terrorism.

"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part," Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in northwestern France.

"This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind."

Chirac, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said all of France's nuclear forces had been configured with the new strategy in mind and the number of nuclear warheads on French nuclear submarines had been reduced to allow targeted strikes.

It was the first time he had so clearly linked the threat of a nuclear response to a terrorist attack.

Chirac, 73, did not say whether France would be prepared to use pre-emptive strikes against a country it saw as a threat.

SECURITY TIGHT

France has had nuclear weapons since the 1960s and experts believe it has some 300 nuclear warheads.

"Against a regional power, our choice would not be between inaction or annihilation," Chirac said in his first major speech on France's nuclear arms strategy since 2001.

"The flexibility and reactivity of our strategic forces would enable us to exercise our response directly against its centers of power and its capacity to act."

France has tightened security since Islamist suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in attacks on London transport last July, and following the Madrid bomb blasts which killed more than 190 people in March 2004.

Despite its strong opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, France remains a target for Islamist militants because of its intelligence links with the United States and Britain.

Last July, national police service chief Michel Gaudin said a radical Algerian Islamist group, the GSPC, had been in contact with al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, about launching attacks in France.

Since the end of the Cold War, questions have been raised about the usefulness of the nuclear program, which makes up some 10 percent of the overall defense budget.

Chirac's government is under pressure to cut spending as it struggles to bring its public deficit below the European Union's deficit limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product.

"Our country's security and its independence have their price," Chirac said."

It's too late. If Bush lacks the will, he's already failed and no amount of commentary will change that now.

If he has the will -- and he's shown no sign of it so far -- then alia iacta est.

It's something of an academic argument. America doesn't have the will to fight Iran.

Iraq has shown that even after a decade of failed santions politics, proven agression, and in the context of a historic domestic attack, Americans still have little patience for wars of prevention.

Even if it was possible to rally the people into Iran, after the public affairs disaster of faling to find stockpiles makes any new argument about WMD the boy who cried wolf, our tolerance for casualties is exceptionally low. Credible members of governemnt started the call for throwing in the towel after a mere two thousand dead, less than a third of the loss of life it cost to secure the single airfield on Iwo in the pacific war. That's a lot better than the couple hundred it took to make us give up on Lebanon, or Somalia, but nevertheless denies a country that is extremely casualty adverse.

And, unlike Iraq where the vast majority of the country was at least neutral to our intervention, with an army that surrendered en masse, where we only had to really worry about a tiny minority of hardcore resistors, Iran is a country filled with nationalistic pride. There's every reason to believe they will resist us to the same degree they resisted Saddam in the 80's. They also have experience in how to fight us by watching and participating in the Iraqi insurgency. There's no way even techological advantage, even as great as it is, can overcome such a huge disparity in our reletive wills to fight, especially such a prophilactic war as you describe. If we even tried, it's our country that would suffer regeim change, the public clamoring for impeachment sometime after the death toll topped 5 thousand, and we would only end up withdrawing in shame just as the Mutha's and Sheehans would have us do today. And worse, everyone knows it.

It's probably better to start talking about what other options there are to protect Israel and our interests in Iraq and the rest of the gulf, in the context of an Iran that has a nuclear deterrent. When it comes to pre-empting that reality, at this point you might as well be arguing why the EU should invade Iran.

Seth,

The mullahs are HATED in Iran. Show us your evidence of "nationalistic pride" - cite some links. NAME ONE! Show us how this isn't something you just made up.

We heard the same bull about Iraq in 1990.

The mullahs have nothing to stop us with but our own lack of will.

Micheal said:

In my opinion the American people will not support an invasion of Iran. The Democrats and the Left would crucify the President and tear the country apart if he tries.

You assume that tomorrow's events are a straight line projection from today.

The political situation in the USA after an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is much different and far more favorable to the conquest of Iran than today.

Seth,

America's heavy bomber force alone can deliver over 5000 JDAM bombs in a single sortie.

America has over 20,000 JDAMS.

Any 3rd world military that takes the American military on in a stand up fight is committing suicide.

Nevermind this talk of invasion. Don't forget how effective quiet men can be and I would hope they are on the ground now starting to gather in more detail what we need to know.

In our favor, there is a larger Iranian expatriate community in the US with better contacts back in their homeland than we had with Iraq.

Some informed speculation on the political reliability of Iranian Armed Forces.

"But the price of domestic security, when foreign security fails due to a failure of leadership and will by President Bush, will be something much more precious our freedom."

Pure rhetoric. Imagine a world where growth rates were reduced by 20-30% (because extra security involved in scanning/inspecting shipping, because of more difficulty in traveling overseas, because
of more difficulty in even engaging in international trade, etc etc). Well, you don't have to imagine it-it existed, throughout most of American history.

Our grandparents didn't enjoy the same international goods that we do. Our grandparents could neither afford to, or had the freedom to, travel overseas that we do (how many of our grandparents had been to Europe-excluding WWII vets? How many of us have?). 'Average' citizens from the 3rd world couldn't travel to the US the way they can today. But it would be inaccurate to say that they were living 'unfree.' And it would be inaccurate to say that we would live 'unfree' with the same restrictions. There is no absolute, or Constitutional, right to cheap foreign-made consumer goods. This remarkably easy/cheap/free ability to travel and trade is an historical accident-it may or may not continue, but it would be inaccurate to say that its loss is akin to the loss of precious American freedom.

I think that the possibly of responding defensively to the coming nuclear threat (via greater controls on goods and personnel travel, greater spending on security, etc etc) is being underlooked-the alternative to major war with Iran may be less, more expensive oil, fewer, more expensive trade goods, and an economic change to our way of life, rather than WAR NOW OR GLOBAL WAR LATER. Don't discount the possibility of just changing the legal environment for the movement of goods and people as a solution.

Steve

I agree with Seth about Iranian nationalism being a major factor missing from this post. Nationalism is not equated with liking ones government, as you are absolutely correct in saying that the majority or Iranians hate the mullahs. But the idea of a foreign invader is absolutely out of the question for them and they would rally around the regime temporarily in order to drive out the invaders. That's a major reason the invasion option doesn't get much play. We wouldn't just have the Iranian military to deal with, but an entire population. Iraq and Iran are very, very different places, so drawing a comparison to them is not a good idea when formulating policy.

Good points, but one clarification: We're not looking at a 25% drop in economic growth, we're looking at a 25% drop in economic output. That's comparable to the Great Depression (though in real terms we'd still be far better off due to 70 years of productivity gains). This is like the Smoot-Hawley tariff, but far far worse.

Tom, the Iranian president is a pretty good indicator of where the collective Iranian head is at. Yea, there's a lot of people who want reform, a lot that don't like the mullas, but it's nothing like Iraq, which had constant often open rebellion against Hussein. If the mullas are that hated, you post me one instance of an attempted assassination, or foiled coup. Converesly, and unlike Iraq, American flag burning parties are a national passtime over there. Yes, the people who said we'd be spit on by everyone if we went into Iraq were full of it (and still are), but saying iranians won't resist to the hilt Israel's ally, the Shah's supporter, the Great Satan America, is just inaccurate. It's an entirly differnt situation from Iraq, and we could only bearly tolerate Iraq.

As far as JDAMS, of course it should be obnserved that without land invasion that's just talking about Deasert Fox all over again. We bomb, they rebuild. With the added bonus of giving them a political excuse to retaliate.

But talking about land invasion, the Iranains aren't idiots. They aren't going to allow things to be descided in a stand up fight. That's why they're testing various kinds of guerilla tactics against us in Iraq, creating 'martyrs brigades', and the like. They know insurgency is how you beat the US, and if we invade Iran that's what we'll face. Except not a fragmented, ideologically bankrupt, rag tag comgomeration of a few criminals and cultists, it'll be a specially equiped, trained and orgainzed resistance numbering hundreds of thousands. All JDAMS are good for in that context is making headlines about civilian casualties.

To win Iran, without an Irainian civil war to come in on, without an actual attack to avenge, we're in a situation were America would have to be willing to sacrifice tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of men, over the course of years, to prevent a hypothetical worse fate and maybe make the world a better place. Iraq has telegraphed the limits of our will to do such work at such cost.

I'm not so sure a purely air attack couldn't do the trick IF it targeted the entire top echelon of the mullahs' leadership. In effect, targeted assassination en masse. Then, when the 2nd echelon steps up, annihilate them too.
We hit their WMD too, of course, but the essential target is the individuals who make up the regime. We might even seize an oil-rich enclave or two in Iranian Kurdistan or Azerbaijan and hunker down defensively in it & let the Iranian military batter itself to pieces against us.
All this without an actual ground invasion of Qom, Tehran, or any of those places.

As a last resort, MAYBE an "in-and-out" land invasion to wreck their military and WMD capability. NO occupation of the population centers--which means the mullahs would likely come back to power once we'd left, but their destructive capability would have been reduced to almost nil.

We have not forgotten 1979- some democrats and leftists fools may have forgotten - but most Americans have not forgotten, there is payback. If the President and his team actually get out in front, America will follow. Bush is made of sterned stuff than most realize - Tehran sometime in the fall of 2006 - I think its strong possibility. Remember we still owe Hezbellah for Beirut - We are not done meting out punishment.

I'm glad to see someone echoing some of the arguments I've been making for the past three years: a reference to my views prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom can be found in A walk down memory lane; some discussion of the "moral" argument in favor of preemption in Preemptive war against Iran; some discussion of a FOX news special report on Iran in FOX news on the Iranian threat; Iranian missile development in Remaining Axis members develop missile technology and Iran tests new missile; game theory in Playing Chicken: how Iran might win a nuclear war; and, how the forces stack up in U.S. versus Iran: the tale of the tape.

What it all boils down to is that there is really no viable alternative to regime change in Iran and only an invasion will accomplish that. There is no alternative because either (1) Iran is not deterrable or (2) Iran will become an essentially invulnerable sanctuary for terrorism, with the possibility that it will support "proxy" WMD attacks.

Here is an assination attempt on Iran's president

http://kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2005/12/18/4306.shtml

to quote:

Gunmen ambushed the motorcade of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leaving his driver and one of his bodyguards dead, however the hard-line leader escaped injury because he was not in the car at the time.


Iran denied it of course....

Or one could consider the various Worker strikes in Iran:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/04/opinion/edacker.php

This&That

"At 6:50 pm on Thursday, the lead car in the presidential motorcade confronted armed bandits and trouble-makers on the Zabol-Saravan highway," the semi-official Jomhouri Islami reported today. "In the ensuing armed clash, the driver of the vehicle, who was an indigenous member of the security services, and one of the president's bodyguards died, while another bodyguard was wounded."

Shortly after our initial success in Iraq, a number of Iranian bloggers wondered why America didn't invade Iran.

They were willing to accept a small number of Iranian casualties (in the thousands) for regime change.

It is not clear that an invasion would provoke a nationalistic counter reaction. The Nazi invasion of Ukraine and the initial Ukrainian reaction is instructive.

Never take council with your fears.

Why would we even need to occupy Iran? We're not planning on rebuilding the Iranian army and police from the ground up, nor should we. Iran's civil society functions pretty well.

All we really need to do is decapitate the leadership, and remove the secret police and the generals loyal to the mullahs. A 12-week ground/air campaign aimed at the regime and its loyalists should accomplish that handily. After that, we step aside and let the Iranian democrats and their loyalists take care of things. Casualties could be kept under 1,000.

Additionally, a substantial number of Iranian pro-democracy exiles/dissidents could be trained in southern Iraq and accompany our forces.

We stand at a point akin to the Remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 or, even worse, to Hitler's threat to invade Czechoslovakia in 1938. Or as Thomas Holsiger puts it, we are at a turning point - whether our inaction will again engulf the world and us in a nightmare comparable to World War Two.

Starkly put, we have the choice of fighting now without being full prepared politically or militarily, or fighting later when we or Israel have been attacked. Given the domestic and international opposition, it must be overwhelmingly tempting to avoid the necessity to fight now. After all, if the Iranians do nuke someone, the political will for retaliation will be widespread, as it was after 9-11.

The Iranians know -- as most politicians and intellectuals in the West either don't know or are unwilling to admit -- that if they use nuclear weapons, even against Israel, they will have opened a Vernichtungskrieg - a war of extermination in which the Israeli's and the West's overwhelming nuclear superiority will really make most of Iran a radioactive glass parking lot.

The key question, of course, is do they care? Given the history of Iranian behavior over the past three decades, I don't think the answer can be said to be yes with sufficient certainty to be the safety of our entire civilization on the answer.

The broader questions, in a way, is do the mass of the Iranian people -- who are not by and large fond of the ruling mullahs -- understand that they are on the verge of being exterminated if the mullahs are not removed? I doubt that as well.

I suspect that if the reality of their almost complete annihilation in the event of a nuclear war truly took hold in the mind of the average Iranian, the Iranian military might well overthrow the regime.

I'm not sanguine, however, of our ability to make the point clear without a pretty overwhelming demonstration of both adequate force and will.

We should fight now, but like the British and the French between 1936 and the invasion of Poland, even hawks would rather not fight, and we are surrounded by the same leftist fifth columnists and defeatism which opposed the use of force against Hitler.

The good news is that at difficult as a war would be, the Iranian military is at least as hollow as the Germans were in 1936. Our forces are smaller than they need to be, but they have recent combat experience and are superbly equipped, trained and led at the actual fighting levels.

All things considered, we are infinitely better off fighting now than later.

There's every reason to believe they will resist us to the same degree they resisted Saddam in the 80's.
I don't think Saddam was bringing them democracy.

They know insurgency is how you beat the US
Yeah, those Iraqi insurgents are going to end their 1,000-long losing streak and finally win a battle any day now. And they've done a great job derailing the democratic process and preventing elections. And the Iraqi Security Forces get smaller and less capable every day. Oops, wait, no, exactly the opposite of all those things is true.

#18 Michael Reynolds,

The Iranian center of gravity is their security services - which are in the main foreign fighters, because the locals were found to be mostly unreliable.

To make use of the Iranian people we will need warmer weather. Spring or fall. Given the rate at which diplomacy has been picking up I'd bet spring. Funny thing is that France and Germany seem to be coming around rather quickly.

Also note Chenney's recent junket to the relevant capitals to discuss Iraq. Sure. Iraq.

Did I mention that the Iranians seem to have trouble keeping planes full of military leaders in the air? An internal purge? American Special forces? ???

What it means is that the Iranian Armed Forces are weakened on the eve of battle by internal dissent or external action.

Some one is preping the battlefield.

One thing we could do is break apart Iran, or as it could be called - The Persian Empire. There are unhappy Baluchis in the east and the western fifth of the country is occupied territory with Arabs, Lurs, Azeris and Kurds actually living there. And the Arabs (as usual) live in the oil-producing area. Breaking off the Arabs alone would financially cripple the regime. They could go it alone or join Iraq. Whatever. I know this is a quick and loose suggestion, but as long as we're talking about war with Iran, let's put it all on the table.

p.s. I have an ethnographic map of Iran I'd be happy to email anybody.

I agree with the earlier comments: this dog won't hunt politically, either within the US or internationally. All that political capital got used up in Iraq (not to imply that Iraq should not have been done). There is no doubt in my mind that it will take a nuclear attack, and not just one in Israel or Europe (bad enough), but one in the US for political conditions to shift enough here. And even with that there will be many holdouts on the incorrigible left. As for international political conditions, Europe lacks the will and would just prefer to have us take care of it. I'm not sure what will wake them up. We've been nursing them along for the last 60 years.

I think Rep. Murtha is right. We will be leaving Iraq before the end of the year.

He may be part of the deception plan. In fact he voted against his own idea.

Curious.

Also it was a political test of the American people. The answer? "Not until the job is done."

Also he is discouraging recruiting. Now why would you want to do that? Take trainers and make them fighters.

Think of our recent clean up in Pakistan. Think of the attacks on the Northern Alliance pre-9/11.

Some one is shaping the battle field.

JoeP,

The recent change in attitude of the Germans and French contradicts your assertion. Note the Brits have been quiet. Curious.

As to America - do not confuse loudness with depth.

Listening to the way some of you talk about an invasion of Iran, it's as if the Iraq war never happened. I continue to support it but it's pretty clear we systematically understated the difficulties the insurgency would cause.

There's no way we could do anything but a smash-and-grab in Iran without a major scale-up in ground troop levels that would almost surely require a draft, and that alone makes it a non-starter. And if we did a smash-and-grab odds are whatever follows this pack of mullahs will make the Taliban look like your local PTA.

There's just no way we come out ahead in an invasion unless everybody (meaning China or Russia too) agree that the mullahs have gone too far, and the odds are greater that Angelina Jolie will dump Brad Pitt and marry me than that will happen.

My opinion is that we need to focus on countering the Iranian nuclear threat. What we need to do is to make the threat of massive nuclear retaliation as credible as possible. My suggestion would be to resume underground nuclear tests. Yes, this would unsettle the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese, but that's precisely the point. We need them to be saying to the Iranians, "Guys, you don't get it, these cowboys might just do it."

oy.

Yes many Iranians, possibly a majority hate the mullahs. Which is a reason, as Ledeen has said, to support them in doing so, NOT to invade. Invade and you DO arouse nationalism. After 3 years, and 2000 combat deaths, and with 138,000 troops, we're only finally winning the war against the insurgents in Iraq. Iran is over twice as large as Iraq. Estimate you will need at least 300,000 troops to win in Iran.

And as for bloggers, I have personally met people whove been to Iran who say Iranians want us to invade. Unfortunately their contacts are all in the middle classes parts of Teheran. I assume the bloggers are as well.

Simon:

Point well taken about America, but even a vocal minority can be highly disruptive. As to the Europeans, similar advice: don't confuse loudness with willingness to act. Maybe they would, but history wouldn't lead one to conclude that.

Seth, I wonder did you say the same thing about Iraq back in the day?

"Afghanistan had no real armed forces, there is no way Iraq will go under like Afghanistan. Iraq has the 3rd largest army in the world. Battle tested and will not make the same mistakes they made in 91. Saddam has complete control, taking Baghdad alone could cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of our soldiers."

I wonder because before Afghanistan, the left said, it will be another vietnam. Then with Iraq, the left said it will be another vietnam, or stalingrad, they will not be pushed over like Afghanistan.

And now you tell us the same thing, but for an effective fighting force to be effective it has to be either a unit that can adapt well(America, Israel for example), or a centrally controlled army that can keep its head from being cut off. Well as an old artillery man from the cold war, I know America is all about cutting the head off the command and control structure. Do the Mullahs trust their armed soldiers enough to allow them to practice initiative? I highly doubt it, cause then all it takes is a highly motivated General to have a coup.

Personally I think double the number of deaths from Iraq is probably about right.

One thing I disagree with :

Everyone is so worried about Iran getting Nuclear weapons. What about Pakistan?

1) Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and long-range missiles
2) Osama bin Laden and other top Al-Qaeda leaders are already hiding in Pakistan among a sympathetic population.
3) AQ Khan was selling nuclear secrets.

Given these 3 things in combination, how can we be more worried about Iran than Pakistan? Sure, Musharaff may be cooperating, but he doesn't conrtol many elements of Pakistani society, and does only the minimum we ask of him.

I am more worried about Pakistan than Iran. The reason the media is scaring everyone about Iran is because Iran is threatening Israel, while Pakistan is not (only because it is too far away).

Seth, until you can explain why the supposedly popular mullahs have been importing foreigner mercenaries to work in their security service, your comments will lack credibility to me.

Someone in the comments above said, "Never take council with your fears." Good idea...

Another good idea is not to start with a desired outcome "we must invade Iran", and work backward to find the arguments in support of it.

The post is just too darn long to criticize point by point... but there was one sentence in here I thought would be worth a reply, because the reply to that sentence is the reply to the whole "invade Iran" meme... In fact, the reply actually only applies to an offhand side-clause. The sentence was this:
"Iran seems to be in a pre-revolutionary state such that its mullah regime will collapse from purely domestic reasons within a few years even if we do nothing, but by then it will have openly had nuclear weapons for several years, possibly used them against Israel and/or been pre-emptively nuked by Israel, and widespread nuclear proliferation will have started with all the horrors that will bring."

And my mind wandered to 1981, when Israel felt threatened by Iraqi nuclear ambitions... Know what they did? Did they pre-emptively nuke Iraq? Nope... They pre-emptively bombed Iraq's nuclear facilities.
With a conventional sortee, they put Iraq out of the nuclear business. What hope Iraq had left for nukes was crushed in 1991, as you may remember, also without the necessity for invasion.

It always pays to remember history when trying to think of ways to solve problems like the Iranian nuclear ambition.

GK, we are worried about Pakistan and have been for decades. However, there are immense differences. First, Pakistan's leaders have shown a history of responding to deterence. Pakistan is arrayed against India which provides a lot of that deterence. Second, we have access to Pakistan as a nominal and historic ally. We have a better idea of what is going on there and have direct methods of influence.

SPQR,

But everything you said only matters in terms of Pakistan's government. Remember that the majority of Pakistan's population is anti-US and sympathetic to Al-Qaeda.

Is Musharaff the only real reason to be less worried about Pakistan than Iran? He is just one man..

Is there any reason to believe AQ Khan didn't sell nuclear secrets to Ayman Al-Zawahiri and his cronies? All 3 exist in Pakistan : Nukes, Al-Qaeda leadership, and people from the Pak government who are willing to sell nuclear technology.

The existence of a semi-cooperating Musharaff is hardly going to prevent this.

Seth,

I suspect I am far more familiar with Iranian politics than you are. I predicted the fall of the Shah in 1974. And you have carefully ignored this part of my article:
"Iran seems to be in a pre-revolutionary state state such that its mullah regime will collapse from purely domestic reasons within a few years even if we do nothing ..."
You might try clicking on the link.

And I note that you still haven't cited any sources supporting your contention. There is a reason for that.

What's your point, smijer? Israel is not going to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. It would take a sustained bombing campaign, not a raid. At least not using conventional weapons. Any such raid would need a by-your-leave from the U. S. and, if we gave it, we'd have the same domestic political repercussions as if we'd done the bombing ourselves.

Consequently, if anyone bomb's Iran's nuclear facilities, it will be us. Iran's nuclear development facilities are dispersed, some we know are in cities, suburban areas, and sensitive oil-producing areas. I know that Tom and Trent disagree with me on this but I think that any bombing campaign sufficient to take out Iran's nuclear development capability would entail enough collateral damage that there would be hell to pay on the homefront political scene.

GK:

The difference between Iran and Pakistan is that the leaders in Pakistan haven't been doing their damnedest to convince us that they're nuts. To the best of my knowledge Pakistan has never threated any other country with destruction via preemptive nuclear strike; Iran has openly mused about such an attack.

GK,

Re: Pakistan.

I think you may recall a contingent of Marines sent to that country to protect its nuclear weapons in the Afghanistan stage of the war.

I have heard nothing about their withdrawal.

Pakistan may be of small worry re:nukes because we in effect already "guard" them.

"Is there any reason to believe AQ Khan didn't sell nuclear secrets to Ayman Al-Zawahiri and his cronies? "

There are in fact some very good reasons. It is a mistake to regard Pakistan as a solid block of Islamacists. Musharaff and his clique control the army and come from a caste well educated and influenced heavily by the English of old. That is the biggest reason Pakistan having nukes is a tolerable risk, the people that run the country are reasonably progressive and western. And i'm not talking about a small group of people like the Sauds, this is an entire strata of society. In order for them to be thrown down a full scale civil war would be necessary, and Musharaff controls the army (not completely, and the intelligence service especially is said to be infiltrated with extremists).

I am surprised at the dearth of comments concerning my opinion that Iran already has nuclear weapons, and that France's President Chirac seems to share this opinion.

I am curious to know how many troops you believe will be necessary to defeat Iran's military and hold the country and where they will come from.

Also, how do you keep them supplied? Where is your logistical base?

It took 6 months to launch desert storm and I believe about as long to launch OIF. Why do you think we can be ready to launch a full scale attack into Iran in 20 days?

Thank you for clarifying these issues.
nc

GK:

Pakistan is a country of some 160 million people. An invasion of Pakistan to prevent Pakistan's already-extant nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists will do little except get a bunch of Pakistanis and Americans killed.

The only practical alternative we have is to make sure that Musharraf's government doesn't fall.

Not so an invasion of Iran to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. I think that Tom's military analysis is probably about right: it's doable. And, if we invade soon, by all accounts we can prevent them from building any nuclear weapons of their own although as Tom correctly points out they may have already bought a small number from outside.

Tom, the Iranian president is a pretty good indicator of where the collective Iranian head is at.

Oh please. The Iranian President is the indicator of the most wigged out, 'true believer' nutball mullah faction in Iran.

Nothing more.

Yea, there's a lot of people who want reform, a lot that don't like the mullas, but it's nothing like Iraq, which had constant often open rebellion against Hussein. If the mullas are that hated, you post me one instance of an attempted assassination, or foiled coup.

#21 from This&That shot that one down with authority.

As far as JDAMS, of course it should be obnserved that without land invasion that's just talking about Deasert Fox all over again. We bomb, they rebuild. With the added bonus of giving them a political excuse to retaliate.

Desert Fox was a Clinton Administration P.R. campaign with High Explosive, not war.

What is being talking about here is a combined land air campaign. You can ask the Taliban all about how "ineffective" JDAMs are in that context...assuming you can get the survivors out from under the rocks they are hiding under in the Pakistani Tribal areas.

But talking about land invasion, the Iranains aren't idiots. They aren't going to allow things to be descided in a stand up fight.

Then America will have won the moment it crosses the border.

Consider for a moment that major conventional war is a "Asymetrical tactic" against a 3rd World Tyranny.

That's why they're testing various kinds of guerilla tactics against us in Iraq, creating 'martyrs brigades', and the like. They know insurgency is how you beat the US, and if we invade Iran that's what we'll face.

That happens only when Democrats are in charge.

America happens to have a Republican President, albeit a weak one, and a Republican majority Congress.

Except not a fragmented, ideologically bankrupt, rag tag comgomeration of a few criminals and cultists, it'll be a specially equiped, trained and orgainzed resistance numbering hundreds of thousands. All JDAMS are good for in that context is making headlines about civilian casualties.

Without the huge depots of conventional munitions to make IEDs, the Iranian Mullah's bully boys are as much grease for American tank treads as the Fedayeen Saddam.

bq Consequently, if anyone bomb's Iran's nuclear facilities, it will be us. Iran's nuclear development facilities are dispersed, some we know are in cities, suburban areas, and sensitive oil-producing areas. I know that Tom and Trent disagree with me on this but I think that any bombing campaign sufficient to take out Iran's nuclear development capability would entail enough collateral damage that there would be hell to pay on the homefront political scene.

Agreed it would be us to do the bombing (unless the Euros decided they didn't want nukes that close)... And agreed that it might entail some collateral damage.. maybe a lot. Agreed there would be hell to pay on the homefront political scene...

Do you think there would be less collateral damage than with wholesale invasion?

Do you think there would be less hell to pay on the homefront political scene?

I'm a Democrat... I talk to a lot of Democrats... there are a lot of us that wouldn't bat an eye at a few carefully aimed bombs against the nuke facilities. Especially, but not necessarily only, if it were done with UN approval. And most especially if it done with proper ultimatums, and consistent with a defense policy of counter-proliferation. There would be some lefties screaming, but the nation as a whole would be far less inclined to scream about it than they would a ham-handed approach like full-scale invasion and occupation.

Dave Schuler,

You still don't get it.

Who cares about the upper strata of Pakistan, and if Musharaff is 'not doing his damnedest to look crazy'?

If top Al-Qaeda leadership are harbored in a country that HAS nuclear weapons, and HAS had someone like AQ Khan selling nuclear secrets (do we know who he was selling them to?), that is the biggest worry.

Seriously, if a nuclear weapon is used in an act of terrorism in a US city, which is the one country in the world where the investigation will lead to?

Whether Musharaff complies with us does not matter, AQ Khan still may have sold nuclear secrets to bin Laden/Zawahiri (who are being sheltered in Pakistan).

Grasp that Musharaff can't prevent that.

I am surprised at the dearth of comments concerning my opinion that Iran already has nuclear weapons, and that France's President Chirac seems to share this opinion.

Tom,

You are putting out too much "nuclear weapons are a real threat" reality for people to even go near that one.

The Left hand of the ideological spectrum either ignores nukes of has its emotional �EEEK a nuke!� reaction.

The Right side of the ideological spectrum is dominated by between the �Iranian nationalism = Vietnam� and �Iranian Revolution can do it� factions that oppose an invasion.

None of these factions wants to face up to the over riding imperative of massive nuclear proliferation.

#44 Tom,

I'm with you on that one. It is amazing how being in the crosshairs concentrates the mind. i.e. France.

The odds are that at this time they only have a few.

A tolerable risk if the delivery systems are not ready for mating.

BTW note Egypt, and Saudi objections to a nuke empowered Iran. Just after Chenney's visit. No doubt they came up with the Iran idea on their own.

Some one is preping the battle field.

I expect this will go fast. It will be a come as you are party. We have experienced troops. Always an advantage. And three years of logistical buildup.

I think the War Powers gives the President 30 days without need of a Congressional approval. So expect the plan to be for 20 days of action. With 10 days reserve.

NC,

It was the Democratic military experts on the Atlantic Monthly panel who felt an invasion of Iran could be ramped up in 20 days. They even think this could be done secretly. They also think our forces could push to the outskirts of Tehran in two weeks.

I think these opinions are optimistic, and said so. IMO it will take at least eight weeks for fully prepared ground forces to get to Tehran, and lack the expertise to even make a wild-assed guess as to how long the build-up would take.

The logistical base is called Kuwait. It is fully prepared. We need only move in additional forces and some additional supplies. A great deal is already in the theater. This would markedly shorten the build-up time.

My personal opinion is that our campaign should be done on a "come as you are basis", i.e., bomb first and do the build-up after the bombing starts. The USAF is quite capable of keeping the mullahs from building more nukes while we move additional forces and supplies to the Gulf.

My desire for a "come as you are" attack is to maximize the effects of our surprise bombing attack on Iran's nuclear capability. That's right, I favor a surprise attack. No UN motion, no prior request to Congress for an authorization to use force (get it after the fact if such is even deemed necessary), just go straight at them.

IMO the mullahs have nukes and we should not give them any chance whatever to use those. This means a massive surprise air attack. Only then should we even start preparing an invasion.

Those who violate international law cannot claim its protection. The mullahs violated international law when they seized our embassy.

This will be a no-quarter fight against an enemy who ignores all the rules. So should we. They've got nukes! I'd use our own on them, in a suprise nuclear attack, if the USAF thinks such is necessary to keep Iran's mullahs from using theirs on us. The USAF doesn't seem to think it necessary that we nuke Iran.

"The only rule is that there are no rules."

As for the conquest campaign, IMO we should use about five division equivalents, and feel the occupation campaign would require about 200,000 troops inside Iran. The 200,000 estimate is given in my article.

If you read my article more carefully, you might find the answers to your questions already there.

Tom, Trent -

As interesting a war-game exercize as this may be - and I don't necessarily disagree with your purely military analysis - I think you're deluding yourself if you believe the geopolitical consequences would be sustainable.

We'd lose Europe, the Russians, and the Chinese. We'd be diplomatic pariahs, and the Saudis and Venezuelans would cut off our oil. In Iran, while we might be able to maintain control of the country, it is highly unlikely that we'd be able to maintain the oil infrastructure in the face of guerilla warfare.

I won't even talk about the domestic political consequences, given the Bush Administrations poor record in maintaining the public case for the war.

Welcome to autarky, or real empire, in which we expend blood to demand resources from foreign countries.

Saddam was easy - no one liked him, even in the Arab world.

The needle that has to be threaded with Iran is far narrower, and in fact I think that Bush is doing a more than credible job so far.

Saber-rattling has a role - note the French speech yesterday - but I'd certainly think it's going to stay sheathed for the near future.

That's not a cost-free decision. But the alternative cost is far higher.

A.L.

A.L.,

I take it you have no objection to living in the ruthless tyranny necessary for security against terrorist nukes which can come from anywhere.

And that you are tired of being either American or liberal.

NC,

The troops will come from Iraq. I do believe the Iraqi forces are sufficient to hold Iraq for a month or two with American Air Support.

Sun Tzu says when near appear to be far. When strong appear to be weak.

Sun Tzu is on the American Military reading list.

It is possible that Iran like Saddam thinks they have capabilities which are fiction.

Note that the "insurgents" think the center of gravity in Iraq - militarily - are the Iraqi Armed Forces. And yet recruits keep coming.

So yeah. America is over stretched. The troops are busy. The American will is weak. Dissention on the home front. etc.

The key for a conventional attack will be air mobility and bridging trains. We know the bridging trains are in pretty good shape from their use in the River War. Plus now their crews are battle tested.

Tom wrote:

This will be a no-quarter fight against an enemy who ignores all the rules. So should we. They've got nukes! I'd use our own on them, in a suprise nuclear attack, if the USAF thinks such is necessary to keep Iran's mullahs from using theirs on us. The USAF doesn't seem to think it necessary that we nuke Iran.

"The only rule is that there are no rules."

Or, as Schiller put it in Der Prinz von Homburg: Im Staub mit alle Feinden Brandenburgs!

I think you have the essence of the matter straight here: this is the time to do what we believe we must, and the rest of the world can cluck all it wants to in public while thanking us in private. Whatever we do must be done as soon as we're ready and believe the timing is optimal.

I would rather countenance the death of tens of thousands of Iranians to end the mullahs regime and its nuclear ambitions, than end up exterminating the Iranians after they have killed hundreds of thousands or more in the West.

It's a risk, but assessing risks is what statesmen and general are paid to do. And I'd much rather we help the enemy die for his country than wait while more of our citizens die for ours at the enemy's hand.

I think Mr. Holsinger's essay is a bit over the top. It's great as polemics, but it's not going to convince the unconvinced, because of its hysterical tone. The world is doomed!

On the other hand, I think that the essential underlying fact of the matter is that Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons would assuredly lead to at least one genocide , if not more, so it's a fair case to make. But the tone in which it is made is hardly useful.

If we don't take a "we broke it, we own it" position on Iran — that is, if we state our goal as destruction of the theocracy and elimination of Iran's nuclear program and the terrorists and terror training and control facilities in Iran, while assuring world oil supplies; rather than attempting to build a new government and security forces, which would require an occupation — then we have options . I fully expect that the anti's will be saying the same things they did before we attacked Iraq: why aren't we attacking N. Korea instead (except before Iraq, it was Iran that was the "better target"). Pakistan is a new one on me. Pakistan is a long-term, not a short-term, problem. Saudi Arabia is a long-term and Syria a medium-term problem, but those could likely be solved by example, as can (I believe) Pakistan, rather than by invasion.

I don't think American political will is a problem. Yes, the anti's will demagogue the issue, and it will be contentious, but Americans en masse, and I believe will support us doing the right thing once it is explained to them and they are asked to support it. You can't just expect Americans to jump into a big war without telling them what is involved. Similarly, looking at polls and political will (as measured by conventional wild guessing) prior to the debate is not very predictive of American will. After all, most Americans of my age or older very clearly remember the hostages.

I don't think Congress is a real problem either. Arguably, the President already has authority to act under the AUMF passed after 9/11 — and given what is already known about al Qaeda agents in Iran, Khobar Towers and the Beirut Marine barracks and embassy attacks, I doubt there would be much argument other than on technicalities that Iran is a major supporter of terror against the US — and I do not doubt he would use it if he felt it necessary.

Could the Europeans interfere? No. Could they help? Yes. Would they help? Not likely, at least not significantly, though I would settle for not going whole hog on the anti-American rhetoric as "helping".

Could the Russians interfere? Yes. Could they hurt us if they did? No. Would they interfere? No, at least significantly.

Could the Chinese interfere? No. Could they help? No.

All in all, attacking Iran is both doable and necessary, and I hope our political class gets it together before it becomes a crisis, because Israel would act, forcefully, to prevent Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons. As Dave noted, a conventional Israeli attack on Iran is not an option. As Dave did not note, the Israelis could launch a nuclear attack, which would not have to be sustained to be effective.

Let's try and avoid that, shall we?

A.L.,

Saudi and Egypt - the centers of mass in the Islamic world are against Iranian nukes.

France and Germany have turned so quickly on the issue it is enough to give you whiplash.

It is '36 either we take them out when it is difficult but possible or we wait until the final issue is in doubt i.e. a much bigger war.

The way this is going to be played is going to be quite surprising to all of us.

Israel has been publicly threatened to be wiped off the map. The Europeans are scrambling because they have no argument to stop Israel from a pre-emptive strike to protect itself. The strike will be nuclear to ensure that the target is destroyed and if carried off properly it may be seen as an accident of Irans in the production of their own weapon. A less populated area with a smaller size bomb should hold down human loss of life while waking up Iran's population to take action.

This will be the tipping point for the populace to overthrow the mullahs. Israel could never occupy Iran and we lack the will. We have no need fear Pakistan for it is clear by their actions over these past several years that they understand the horrible consequences that would have befallen them if they had thrown themselves in with al qeada.

Folks a mad man is about to get weapons that he fully intends to use. It wont be allowed to happen and the Europeans know it, thats the only reason they are finally stirring their stumps. The Iranians know it, and that is why they are enlisting Syrias help (How pathetic is that.)

Oh by the way -- Watch out Gaza you're starting to look like a bombing range to me.

Jeff:

Sure I did:
Israel is not going to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. It would take a sustained bombing campaign, not a raid. At least not using conventional weapons.
Emphasis added.

I generally agree with AL's assessment about the domestic political impossibility of such an invasion. I think he's underestimating the ability of most of the world to overlook their principles when there's a dollar at stake. We'd be able to buy what oil we needed somewhere.

Let me offer another alternative that's not mentioned very often: blockade.

Dave wrote:

Let me offer another alternative that's not mentioned very often: blockade.

That's just another word for sanctions, albeit with military teeth. A blockade is only as good as its enforcement. With a significant border with the old Soviet Union, no blockade can be remotely effective without enthusiastic Russian support.

The time for a blockade was several years ago. And, even then it would have been seen as a provocation, much as the US embargo on iron and steel exports to Japan moved the Japanese to action against us in 1941.

No, unfortunately, we do know the nature of our enemies, and that they at least are in deadly earnest.

I wish we had the luxury of a "do-over" with Iran going back to the Cartoon administration, but we don't. We have to deal with the reality on the ground.

The time has come to put paid to Islamic dreams of a reconquista.

After every terrible human-caused calamity people always remark how much the warning signs were telegraphed by those responsible. Rwanda, the Nazi's etc. etc. They then wonder how stupid the people at the time must have been to ignore the blatently obvious signs!

Iran has been telegraphing their intentions for years - they have been telling us what they want to do but we just don't want to believe them.

They want to remove the "cancerous tumor" of Israel. They want to go to paradise at the highest level as a martyr. "DEATH TO ISRAEL!" - "DEATH TO AMERICA!" "DEATH TO THOSE WHO REJECT THE JUDESPRUDENCE!" (of Islamic law). How plain can you get? And yet people are more upset when the president denies that the holocaust happened! It's as if we just don't take them seriously because we can't comprehend that they might actually mean what they are saying! They have only had the power over one of these three death threats - those who reject the judesprudece inside Iran - and to these people Iran makes good it's threats - For example, since the revelution Iran has executed over 9000 people for suspected homosexuality.

Martyrdom is glorified at the highest levels in Iran. Are the government leaders, the mullahs, simply manipulating the "word of Allah" for political gain? Can you use God in this way and still believe in him? I don't think so - Their leaders are not born out of the same political process that ours are. They are not cynics but passionate and brave just like Hitler was - They really believe in their twisted logic.

Iran will develop nuclear weapons and then use them against Israel in a "glorious martyrdom operation". And their leaders believe paradise will be their reward. They simply need to delay the west until they are ready.

Now you may not be convinced as I am that this is what the Iranian government intends. So maybe I could show you the quotes or video of these threats being made - how many would convince you - one, two a hundred, a thousand! Or maybe you would point out that to do anything the case beyond all resonable doubt has to be made be action is taken.

Well I don't think "all reasonable doubt" is appropiate here. Would you be satisfied to fly on a plane if you knew it would only be stopped for safety reasons if there was evidence beyond all resonable doubt that the plane was going to crash? What percentage of risk are you willing to put up with on a flight? 90% probability that it will crash (10% of resonable doubt) - 50%, 10% or even 1% - I think even one percent would be far to high to contemplate. Just image an airline that lost one out of every hundred passengers!

If I'm right and we do nothing - millions upon millons of people will die - It will make WWII look like a joke let alone the Iraqi "war". And that's not counting any retaliation from Israel - would it nuke Iran in retaliation for it's destruction or maybe all of the hostile countries that refuse to scknowledge it's existence - The estimate is that Israel has over 200 warheads - that accounts for most of the population in the middle east easily.

If I'm wrong and we stand up firm to Iran now - two things can happen - Iran can back down and not produce nuclear power (maybe a 'right' it looses by threatening "DEATH" to all these people) or it can choose to try and fight an invasion with maybe several thousand casualties.
Now I'm sure that all of these casualties would be souly blamed on the invader but sometimes thats the price you pay for doing the right thing. It's a nasty decision to make but I think the only wrong thing would be to ignore it and not speak out plainly and bluntly now. "DEATH" chants and all the other violent words are as unaceptable from Iran as they are from America - and this is why Iran has no right to any nuclear technology. And why not ask them what they would do if we started to chant "DEATH TO IRAN" and were building technology that could destroy them.

A.L. Said:

>I think you're deluding yourself if you believe the geopolitical consequences would be sustainable.

Right, we will face what, UN sanctions?

Bwa ha!

>We'd lose Europe, the Russians, and the Chinese.

How is that any different from the way France, German Russia and China have treated the USA over Iraq?

>We'd be diplomatic pariahs, and the Saudis and Venezuelans would cut off our oil.

The Saudis? NFW!

The Venezuelans would find middle men to sell their oil to the USA.

>In Iran, while we might be able to maintain control of the country, it is highly unlikely that we'd be able to maintain the oil infrastructure in the face of guerilla warfare.

Yep. We would face $100 a barrel oil for six-nine months with it trailing off as Pax Americana settles across the Middle East.

>I won't even talk about the domestic political consequences, given the Bush Administrations poor record in maintaining the public case for the war.

A.L., Why do you keep pretending Bush needs Democrats?

He does not.

The American public�s list of foreign enemies starts with the Iranian Mullahs as #1.

>Welcome to autarky, or real empire, in which we expend blood to demand resources from foreign countries.

A.L., quite reading Moveon.org press releases!

We are in this to remove the Iranian nuclear threat via regime change.

That isn�t empire.

It is self-defense.

Surprise preemptive first strike is the only sane military course of action when nukes are involved.

That's just another word for sanctions, albeit with military teeth.
Not quite. We don't need help to do it. As to the Russian-Iranian border you probably need to to check a topographical map. The pipeline from the Iranian oil-producing areas through the Caucasus isn't in operation yet, IIRC. They're not going to transport appreciable amounts of oil through those mountains on those non-roads by tanker truck.

RE #9

Tom,

I hate to put my two cents in here since I cant make any claim to the kind of knowledge that you and WoC posters have, but I have to say to your comment that I stopped believing a long time ago that the mullahs are so hated that Iran is just the right spark away from revolution. I dont know how many times I read essays by VDH predicting their imminent demise and none of it has come to pass. Whats worse is that after years of such predictions as this, the Iranians go ahead and elect the kook thats in office now. This also runs absolutely contrary to all predictions that Iran was becoming more moderate through the democratic process. The truth is that we dont know half as much as we think we do about Iran.

Even if we assume that the popular vote that brought the madman into power were the result of massive fraud, what better flashpoint for revolution could there be than such massive fraud which supposedly runs so contrary to so called massive popular sentiment against the mullahs? But what happened? Nothing. And nothing will happen. I am convinced that the Iranians dont hate their government nearly as much as some would have us believe. I for one do not believe that only liberals exagerate to get their way. People of all political stripes will do so if they feel that the end justifys the means. In this case there is a group of hawks that have long been convinced that the US will have to take out Iran. They have been building their case bit by bit for years now. What we are seeing now is an escalation to the next step in this type of rhetoric.

All this is not to say that I think Iran isnt a problem that urgently needs to be dealt with, but I would be categorically against invading Iran which I believe would make Iraq look like a cake walk. Its not that I am afraid of casualties. Its because I see no way that we could possibly succeed in such an endeavor to the great hurt of our economy, our political clout and worst of all to our military. Our military is not an inexhaustable resource. Its is already strained. An invasion of Iran against the will of its people would break us. If we intervene militarily I feel it must be from a distance even if that means the nuclear option. I cant tell you how hard it is for this old flower-sniffing liberal to say it but yes, even the use of nukes would be preferable to the military debacle that we seem certain to meet in any invasion of Iran.

We once nuked cities to avoid another such debacle in order to stop another terrible opponent in war. Its looking like we may be forced to do so again. I think that its inevitable that we will have to threaten Tehran with nukes if the mullahs dont abandon their plans and destroy their capabilities and we will have to mean it.

We once nuked cities to avoid another such debacle in order to stop another terrible opponent in war. Its looking like we may be forced to do so again. I think that its inevitable that we will have to threaten Tehran with nukes if the mullahs dont abandon their plans and destroy their capabilities and we will have to mean it.

Threatening the mullahs won't do it. We'll have to do it before they will believe us.

Maybe we should demonstrate this with ultimate arrogance: get the Enola Gay airworthy again and send her over a juicy Iranian target with enough ECW and fighter cover to make sure the Iranians can only watch helplessly as they cannot stop even a 60 year-old American piston-engined bomber come to drop a replica of Fat Boy on their prize nuke facility.

That would be a demonstration!

PS.

Let me modify that last statement just a bit. I think it sounds a bit more harsh that I intended.

If we cant take out their nuke facilities with our Air Force then we will have to take out what they cant hide. Their cities. I dont recommend going straight to the nuke option if conventional weaponry would do the trick. I'm just saying that we have to be prepared to go that route if conventional means fail. I would also say that any nuclear threat would have to be tied to any announcement by the regime that they have this capability and or if they test one. That act should be mean the immediate and firey end of the mullahs and they should know that we mean it.

peggy, I think you're giving to much credit to the political process in Iran today. When you imprison, execute, make illegal, and drive out of the country your political opposition how democratic is the subsequent election?

And I would urge you to re-think your idea of first-strike use of nuclear weapons by us in Iran. Do you really believe that killing hundreds of thousands (or more) Iranians is worth a few GDP points? Or a few hundred (or even thousand) casualties taken by our forces?

Well, Trent, as is often the case we disagree.

First, and foremost, the Iranians aren't going to be the last edge state to develop or have access to nukes. We're approaching a crossroads, where the First World is either going to work together to deal with this, or not ... and "not" looks pretty ugly.

$100 barrel oil for 6 - 9 months and then "Pax Americana"?? WTF, are you kidding me? We're in a decade-long war in Iraq; unilaterally invading Iran would spread that war, and tip many of the Muslims who are currently leaning our way into the battle - because we'd be proving that what we're about is invading Islamic countries.

Bush needs Democrats to put the country on a war footing. If he seriously proposed your plan, he wouldn't even keep the GOP.

I don't disagree that the mullocracy is our primary enemy - and that part of the reason to invade Iraq was to shock them. They're in shock now, and overplaying their hand. What's needed is steadiness and resolve. It may come to military action; but I'd say we have a couple hands of cards to play out first.

Yeah, right, I'm a moveon tool...sell me another one.

Guys, this is going to be a brutal year; and while there's arguably some value in being Abbie Hoffman's "nigger with a Molotov cocktail" (who persuades people to negotiate with Martin Luther King), I'd say that an "Invade Ian Now" movement in this country will deflate support for the war, not inflate it.

A.L.

Trent --

I didn't mean to imply that the US couldn't beat Iran. Only that it would be a signficantly more costly fight (as the essay acknowledges in passing) and occupation than Iraq has been. Given that, and the wobbliness of support for the Iraq operation, I really can't see an invasion of Iran coming to pass.

"Given these 3 things in combination, how can we be more worried about Iran than Pakistan?"

Simple. It's too late to worry about Pakistan. They've already got the bomb, and that alone might be the reason that Osama bin Laden is still above ground.

While it's too late to stop Pakistan from getting the bomb, and we can at least be thankful that they're not in the batshit crazy column, that's hardly a reason to let the undeniably batshit crazy Iranian leaders get a bomb as well.

I am surprised at the dearth of comments concerning my opinion that Iran already has nuclear weapons, and that France's President Chirac seems to share this opinion.

Its really the most important question. I disagree with the above commentators that believe that the Democrats, the public and the international community will never agree to a military attack on Iraq. Democrats like Obama have already indicated support. The two issues for Democrats will be whether all alternatives have been exhausted and a preference for missile strikes. In time, I think the usual Democrats would support military operations.

I also think the international community understands the threat -- its not specific to America. In time, I think most of the neighboring countries and the major powers (with the exception of China) would pass the necessary resolutions, and China would be unlikely to veto in that situation.

An important difference between Iraq and Iran is that opponents of the invasion argued that the sanctions had crippled Iraq's ability to develop WMD. So the debate centered a lot on the effectiveness and sustainability of the sanction regime. What is the alternative here? Under Tom's timeline, there is no time for an alternative. I hope he's wrong.

Here is further evidence supporting my opinion that Iran already has North Korean nukes, and that its leaders are confident they already have a deterrent against American and Israeli pre-emption.

http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2006/01/purchase_of_nor.html

"January 18, 2006

Purchase of North Korean Missiles Extends Iran's Force Projection Capability

A little-noticed story from late 2005 could prove quite significant as conflict with Iran draws closer. On December 16, the German newspaper Bild reported on the German secret services' claim that Iran had bought 18 disassembled BM-25 missiles from North Korea.

The BM-25 missile is based on the Soviet SS-N-6 (R-27) submarine-launched ballistic missile. Although Bild said that the missiles Iran purchased have a range of 2,500 kilometers, Jane's Defense Weekly reported that North Korea, with the help of Russian specialists, has developed two new versions of the R-27 with extended ranges. Analysts believe that the land-based version has a range of 2,500 to 4,000 kilometers. Consistent with this report, Bild reported that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to have the missiles' range "extended to 3,500 kilometers." The German secret service report warned that "with a longer range, and the probability that (Tehran) would try to equip the missiles with nuclear warheads, there is the risk that Iran could strike at Israel and parts of central Europe."

Reader Timothy Thompson, who is always able to provide keen insight into weapons systems, comments on the missile purchase:

[The BM-25 missiles that Iran purchased] can easily be launched from [a] freighter modified with launch tubes and blast channels. They give Iran a projection of force capability far beyond the 2000-3000 km range of the missiles. It is possible -- though not confirmed -- that Iran may not use the BM-25's but only bought them to get the R-27 rocket motors for a missile of their own design.

The countries most concerned about these developments are Israel and Turkey. Israel's concern is obvious: Anytime a country whose president has vowed to wipe you off the map improves its ability to strike, that is a worrisome development. Turkey's concern stems from three major factors. First, it shares a large border with Iran. Second, Iranian missiles can reach vital Turkish military and industrial targets. Third, the NATO treaty obligates Turkey to treat any attack on another NATO country as an attack on its own territory. In the event this were to occur, we may see the use of Turkish ground forces.

Iran's ability to strike at longer range makes military options against that country increasingly perilous.

Posted by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at 11:35 PM"

I wish I could agree with you on the domestic political analysis, PD Shaw. I think there are enough Democrats for “all alternatives have been exhausted” means “until the end of time” that Bush's approval rating, now hovering in the low 40's, would dip into the 20's. I don't think his presidency could survive it. We don't have until the end of time on Iran. Months. A year. Maybe two.

I do think that, internationally, China is the key. Too bad our track record in negotiating with China is so lousy. This might be a good time to learn.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda DIDN"T!
The United States and Israel are embarked on a policy of taking the first blow, for Israel this means the death blow.
No one is going to invade anybody or Pre-Empt anyone at this stage.
It's not politically viable. the current climate with the opposition and left is not healthy enough to simply go to war again.
What We are going to do is wait for that Pearl Harbor moment, wait for another bloodier 9/11 then when feelings are right We will justifiably strike back.

I don't agree with this but that's the way it's going to be.

Dave,

I believe that if you re-read my post you will see that you misjudge me.

I addressed the issue of Iranian politics by acknowleding that the kook's election was likely fradulent on a massive scale. I brought this up in order to ask why such massive fraud was not met with revolution if the mullahs are so close to being tossed out. The people would know who they voted for. I would think that such a massive step backwards would be the best possibility for revolt yet seen in recent times and yet nothing happened. It seems that nothing that the mullahs do to alienate the Iranian people is enough for them to take them out. I think the answer is that they arent nearly as unpopular as some would have us believe. If we were to invade it seems very likely that the people would side with the devil that they know.

As for my reasons for striking from a distance, I believe that I already said that my reasons for saying so is not about some causalties or even some harm to our economy. I think an invasion wouldnt just harm us, it could easily break us economically, politically and militarily and make us vulnerable to our other enemies and competitors in the world. If we could avoid that through conventional air power and if that fails by using our nuclear capability then that is what we should do if it means our survival as opposed to our fall.

I dont mean that we should carpet nuke Iran into oblivion. But striking the capital or an industrial center may be called for at some point. As I said, this option should be on the table and the mullahs should know it. They wont be able to destroy Israel or hold the world hostage if they get taken out first.

Is it permissable for the Bene Gesserit to weigh in now?
Whatever the reason, Irans mullahs no longer seem to feel a need to wait for final processing of fissionables, and fabrication of those into nuclear weapons, before their nuclear deterrent against the United States is ready. They act like they presently have that deterrent, and are proceeding to backfill their fissionable processing and weapons fabrication line before announcing that they have nuclear weapons. Americas election cycle plus the Bush administrations fictitious budget estimates might also have a role in the timing of this announcement.
We think there is another reason for the timing. We believe it is attributable to the success of the Iraqi elections and OIF. Iran is a theocracy. Ahmadinejad must answer to the Ayatollah.
The Shi'ia population of both Iraq and Iran is composed nearly totally of twelvers, believers in the twelfth Imam. But the Iranians are persian, not arab, and cannot claim the legacy of Mohammed. The Mahdi will be an arab, descended from the line of Ali, whose shrine is in Najaf. That is what all the meddling with al-Sadr is about, an attempt to depose Sistani, the true Imam.
Najaf is the holiest city of the Shi'ia, like Mecca to the Sunni.
Iranian Shi'ia on pilgrimage will go to Najaf, and become exposed to the evil virus of democracy.
So Tom is right when he gives the mullahs only a few more years of power, in normal circumstances.
At STRATFOR, Friedman says--
There is yet another dimension to this. In 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran, Iran was the center of revolutionary Islamism. It both stood against the United States and positioned itself as the standard-bearer for radical Islamist youth. It was Iran, through its creation, Hezbollah, that pioneered suicide bombings. It championed the principle of revolutionary Islamism against both collaborationist states like Saudi Arabia and secular revolutionaries like Yasser Arafat. It positioned Shi'ism as the protector of the faith and the hope of the future.

In having to defend against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s, and the resulting containment battle, Iran became ensnared in a range of necessary but compromising relationships. Recall, if you will, that the Iran-Contra affair revealed not only that the United States used Israel to send weapons to Iran, but also that Iran accepted weapons from Israel. Iran did what it had to in order to survive, but the complexity of its operations led to serious compromises. By the late 1990s, Iran had lost any pretense of revolutionary primacy in the Islamic world. It had been flanked by the Sunni Wahhabi movement, al Qaeda.

The Iranians always saw al Qaeda as an outgrowth of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and therefore, through Shiite and Iranian eyes, never trusted it. Iran certainly didn't want al Qaeda to usurp the position of primary challenger to the West. Under any circumstances, it did not want al Qaeda to flourish. It was caught in a challenge. First, it had to reduce al Qaeda's influence, or concede that the Sunnis had taken the banner from Khomeini's revolution. Second, Iran had to reclaim its place. Third, it had to do this without undermining its geopolitical interests.

Tehran spent the time from 2003 through 2005 maximizing what it could from the Iraq situation. It also quietly participated in the reduction of al Qaeda's network and global reach. In doing so, it appeared to much of the Islamic world as clever and capable, but not particularly principled. Tehran's clear willingness to collaborate on some level with the United States in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in the war on al Qaeda made it appear as collaborationist as it had accused the Kuwaitis or Saudis of being in the past. By the end of 2005, Iran had secured its western frontier as well as it could, had achieved what influence it could in Baghdad, had seen al Qaeda weakened. It was time for the next phase. It had to reclaim its position as the leader of the Islamic revolutionary movement for itself and for Shi'ism.

Thus, the selection of the new president was, in retrospect, carefully engineered. After President Mohammed Khatami's term, all moderates were excluded from the electoral process by decree, and the election came down to a struggle between former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- an heir to Khomeini's tradition, but also an heir to the tactical pragmatism of the 1980s and 1990s -- and Ahmadinejad, the clearest descendent of the Khomeini revolution that there was in Iran, and someone who in many ways had avoided the worst taints of compromise.

Ahmadinejad was set loose to reclaim Iran's position in the Muslim world. Since Iran had collaborated with Israel during the 1980s, and since Iranian money in Lebanon had mingled with Israeli money, the first thing he had to do was to reassert Iran's anti-Zionist credentials. He did that by threatening Israel's existence and denying the Holocaust. Whether he believed what he was saying is immaterial. Ahmadinejad used the Holocaust issue to do two things: First, he established himself as intellectually both anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish, taking the far flank among Islamic leaders; and second, he signaled a massive breach with Khatami's approach.
apolos for the long comment (subscription) and props to Karmi in Dafydd's comments.

Peggy,

The counter to your opinion is to consider the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine. Ukranians did not have the power to resist Stalin yet they were receptive to Hitler's invasion when they thought it would relieve them of Stalin's yoke.

Many in Hitler's military said his treatment of the Ukranians was stupid militarily.

We will not make that mistake. It is not in our nature.

Dave,

Just who will blockade who? Will the Iranians blockade us, or we the Iranians? How about both at the same time? I think the mullahs plan for "both at the same time", only they'll close the Straits of Hormuz against everybody.

IMO President Bush will choose half-measures, as in:
"Half-measures in war only make things worse. If we really want to find out how much Irans mullah regime can hurt us, and relearn the lessons of Vietnam, we need only bomb without invading. That will maximize our losses. Those who advocate mere bombing have not considered that Iran might already have some nuclear weapons."

I have long been of the opinion that the USAF is going to paint some jets to look like the IAF and join Israeli pilots in a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Of course, I base this on nothing but my own opinion.

I think it's a win-win, though. Israel can't be hated anymore than she already is, and the US gets deniability.

And the rest of us get the end of Iranian nukes.

I don't buy that Iran already has them. The French president discussing a nuclear strike isn't enough evidence for me.

#39 GK

Is Musharaff the only real reason to be less worried about Pakistan than Iran? He is just one man..

Check out today's Winds of War - Musharaff knew seven years ago that Pakistan was giving Iran the bomb.

#53 A.L.

We'd lose Europe, the Russians, and the Chinese. We'd be diplomatic pariahs, and the Saudis and Venezuelans would cut off our oil.

'Europe' has all sorts of connotations, many of which are correct, but the fact is that Europe is still governed by self-interest. Is Germany going to stop exporting to the U.S.? Not if they don't want their economy to collapse. Are the French going to force the issue with Germany? Not if they want a partner for the European Union. We can't expect any help from these guys, and they may even try to stand in the way. If we were to attack, they won't actually do anything after the fact.

Of course the Russians would be angry. Here they are selling Iran heavy water facilities, nuclear reactors and advanced weapons that are being or soon will be used against the West, and we go and take out their source of cash. What will we lose, exactly? Russia still needs to trade, and will do even more so if they are to lose such a significant source of income.

And so on. Post-mullahs, everyone will still need to trade and recieve gas and oil. Life will go on.

Barry,
I fear you are right, given the Left's current position and strength in the US and Europe. And, when it does happen that way, all of them will scream to the Heavens we should have stood up and taken the Iranians out sooner, just as the left did during and after WWII.

I say those of us who are advocating preemption should not let them get away with it but make it very clear that it is the leftists who don't want to go to war now who will have the blood of tens, if not hundreds of millions on their hands.

to continue, Ahmadinejad is not the unstable blowhard that many think him, including Wretchard and VDH.
In order for Iran to reclaim primacy in the ME as the leader of the Islamic states, Iraq must fail or become a satellite state of Iran. Otherwise the mullahs will lose their religious authority to Sistani, the true heir of Mohammed.

Also, bombing or invading negates one of our only weapons, the good will of the citizens and the students. Iran ranks fourth in the number of bloggers. That is amazing. Can we use that?

I see we have two weapons--Sistani is the true leader of the Shi'ia and Najaf is the holiest site. And the pro-western attitudes of the citizenry and students. Iran ranks fourth in the number of bloggers. That is amazing. Can we use that?

Is there a way to use these weapons to cause regime change?

Invade Iran and we could end up with tens of thousands of dead Americans, a nuclear exchange and the blood of millions of innocents on our conscience. But the real reason not to invade is this: we might lose. My thoughts are expounded at www.samjaffe.com.

peggy, if I've misjudged your comment, I'm sorry. I notice your second comment (which came after my response) backpedals a bit.

The problem in Iran isn't “election fraud” any more than that was the problem with Iraq under Saddam. It's that the entire system is profoundly undemocratic and you can't draw any conclusions whatsoever about the will of the Iranian people from “elections” there.

As to the extent of bombing that would be required take a look at this map of Iranian nuclear development facilities. The facilities are widely-dispersed and located in major cities, populated suburban areas, and oil-producing areas. A little strategic bombing won't eliminate their capability and, without casualties, won't deter them.

Invade Iran and we could end up with tens of thousands of dead Americans, a nuclear exchange and the blood of millions of innocents on our conscience. But the real reason not to invade is this: we might lose. My expanded thoughts are at www.samjaffe.com.

M Simon,

My whole argument rests on the premise that the Iranians are more than capable of a popular uprising since they proved to be so as much as 20 years ago. Popular resistance has had too many unlikely successes for me to believe that the Iranians are simply powerless to revolt. They have already suffered more than enough misery, set backs and dissappointment to have already done so particularly after the election of the kook. They are ethnically far more unified than the Iraqis and they live in a different world entirely from the days of Hitler and Stalin. Whatsmore their culture and current political situation could not be more different. They are not ruled by foreign invaders. As Shia Muslims, they cant not be expected to side against their own in favor of America. The revolution hasnt happened because its isnt going to happen. If we invade we will find that they will not side with us against their own homegrown co-religionist rulers. I think its a huge mistake to think otherwise.

I can't believe there's more than 70 comments on this thread and no one has seriously addressed the question of where the troops are supposed to come from.

Iraq?

If that's the case, what, we quickly run across the border, smack the mullahs, break the nukes and sneak home? ...And hope that Iraq holds together in the meantime?

Ignoring the whole "Congresional approval" thing, this plan is untenable on just that one issue alone.

Peggy,

You project your experience as an American onto foreigners. Foreigners Are Not Just Like Us. They're, well, foreign.

You should also consider that the same claims were made for Iraqi nationalism in 1990, for Yugoslav nationalism in 1994 and Serb nationalism in 1999. Perhaps the concerns about Iranian nationalism have every bit as much merit, i.e., none.

Those who oppose American military action always, always, claim that the other side's nationalism makes them invincible. They have generally been wrong.

Look at who is making those claims for Iranian nationalism now and find out their opinions at the time concerning Iraqi nationalism in 1990, for Yugoslav nationalism in 1994 and Serb nationalism in 1999.

When a person's opinions are generally FOS, they should be given less weight.

You are correct in noting "Needs must when the Devil drives." We'll do what we have to in order to win. The problem is that so many are afraid to win, starting with President Bush.

If nuclear genocide is necessary for us to preserve our freedom at home, than I'm for nulcear genocide. I don't think that it is necessary.

But if you are already willing to go that far, why are you so worried? Don't we have superior force to go with our superior nationalism?

If it comes to straight force, we win.

What will Bush do?

Any one remember the Axis of Evil speech?

One down, two to go.

Sam Jaffe,

Couldnt agree with you more. I think we will lose. Striking from a distance at targets the mullahs cant hide seems to be the best option.

Noone in the world can even touch the quality of our Air Force. It has worked wonders for us before and it should be called on again to save the day in this case. IF it comes to it, they are also more than capable of flawlessly delivering the ultimate end of the mullahs.

I think we must separate our analysis of "will" into separate categories. The will to continue what appears to the average American to be an interminable, and bloody, stability operation in a foreign country is entirely different from the will to attack and kill those who want to harm us.

The first is largely seen as altruism, and therefore the tolerance level for it is lower. It is instructive, however, that Bush was returned to office even though his tying nation building to our national security was tepid at best. Of course I believe that stabilizing Iraq is necessary to our national security, but for the average American the argument is too esoteric.

The second category of will is as American as apple pie. The gut reaction of most Americans upon seeing Palestinians dance in the street after 9/11 was, I kid you not, bomb them. Play some soundbites from an Iranian parliamentary session, and you will find your will.

Lets see. The plan apparantly is to have Bush tell the country that Iraq has or will soon have nuclear weapons, cooperates with terrorists, and is a imminent threat to the United States.

I suppose mentioning that he's already blown that wad is a waste of time eh?

And, as I argued at the time and WOC commenters ignored, you can only cry wolf once.

And yet amazingly, after insisting I was a fool, Iraq was a serious threat, and we had to invade, you guys have the balls to post this tripe?

Infreakincredible. Are you planning to claim Iraq was just an unfortunate typo?

The temporary solution: EMP. PacRim Jim discusses this at http://www.japanorama.com/prj.html

P.D. Shaw,

It is necessary to be ever vigilant in not typing "Iraq" while intending to refer to Iran, and vice versa. I can only hope that I have and will catch all the mistakes I've made that way before hitting the "Post" button.

#89,

I did seriously address where the troops will come from.

BTW you get the prize for saying the magic word.

Iraq.

I do not wish to engage in the debate over logistics, morals or justice of such a conflict - i would just like to point out a device I've noticed used a lot lately--using military death count as a yardstick to measure hurt to the United States. Due to superior medical, transportation, and armament technology, many, many severe battlefield injuries of today would have been deaths thirty years ago. As per this page , our fighting men and women have suffered 2,222 deaths and 16,420 injuries - many of which I suspect are crippling-lost soldiers but for medical science, and soldiers removed from the field of battle anyway. Thus I think that while technically accurate, it's a bit disingenuous to use language like "A thousand more American civilians have been killed by enemy action at home in this war than American servicemen killed at home and abroad."

Guys, just for the record, yes check the other stuff I've posted. I've always been in favor of the invasion of Iraq.

What I'm saying is realise A) We've been bearly able to muster enough will to see Iraq though, and B) Iran is a tougher nut to crack than Iraq was (is).

Compare Iran and Iraq: It took the WMD argument to even start the ball rolling with Iraq, but that argument's been used up so won't sell for Iran. As far as internal Iranian support, there's no rebel group openly opposing the government in Iran, like the Kurds or the Shia in Iraq (Or the northern alliance in Afghanistan, for that matter). And as far as resistence to us, if we've had enough trouble in Iraq to put the polls where they are with an insurgency that represents only a small fraction of a 20% minority of a population of 27 million, it's not defeatist crazy talk to say the problem of finding & maintaining public support will be much harder if the numbers are much bigger. And with Iran, they are.

Iran's population is about three times the size of Iraq's. They're not as opposed to their government as the Iraqis were. The last election wasn't that fixed, so that loonie Amadinijad actually does represent vast numbers of Iranians. There is a greater sense of national unity and identity compaired to Iraq, and a higher prevelence of anti-american sentiment. All of that adds up much more resistance and a lot less local support.

But the bottom line is: The problem isn't Iran. It's America. A military is only as strong as the will of the people to use it, and right now the lesson of Iraq is America's will to fight a purly preventative war tops off at about maybe 5,000 dead, if that. If Iran is likly to cost more, which seems fair, then there's no point even starting down that road because we won't see it though.

As for bombs: Bombs alone never work, they just piss people off. It didn't work when Clinton tried it on Hussein. It didn't work when Clinton tried it on Bin Laden in Afghanistan. And it didn't work on us when Bin Laden tried it on us. If we bomb Iran and just leave it at that, the people will rush to support their leadership agains the attacker, just like we did, just like everyone does. Bombing is an act of war. There's no point in starting a war unless we plan on finishing it. And, unfortunatly we just simply don't have the will right now to fight to the finish an Iraqwarx2 or x3, which is what Iran would be.

The hell of it is, if we did have the will, if we were cheering the Iraq war for being about a 100th less costly as the Korean war for being far more successful (which it is), rather than pissing and moaning like we've been doing, we wouldn't even be in this position. If we, as a nation, expressed a will to fight comperable to our capacity to fight, it'd be the Mullas who'd be crapping their pants tring to apease us, rather than building a nuclear deterrent and demanding consessions, and we wouldn't even have to consider starting another war.

But that's all wouldda-coulda-shoulda. The fact is, America in 2005 is casualty adverse. And as a tragic irony, because of that, casualties may be exactly what we're gonna get.

"And, as I argued at the time and WOC commenters ignored, you can only cry wolf once."

Remember what happens at the end of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? The wolf comes.

Emilio Cerra,

It will be necessary to call up almost all our Army and National Guard reserves for the duration. This is mentioned towards the end of my article.

EVERYBODY,

I repeat, if you read my article carefully, you will find the answers to most of your questions already in it. I tried be thorough in anticipating questions, which is why the article is so long. Please read it carefully before asking questions.

"As for bombs: Bombs alone never work, they just piss people off."

Depends on what you plan on using bombs for. To coerce behavior, no they probably dont work very well. To blow things up? They do a marvelous job. What is our #1 goal in Iran? To see some nasty things blown up. I dont see why we need to reinvent the wheel on this one.

Davebo, Iraq wasn't exactly harmless. Among other things, they were financing terrorism and training thousands of terrorists.

I'm not sure on what firm basis anyone is claiming Iran would be more difficult to effect regime change in than Iraq. Iranians are not Iraqis; they are plugged into the outside world in a way Iraq was not, and so they would understand why we're coming and what we're planning when we get there, and there is not an ethnic minority loyal to the leadership that will resist us to the bitter end. I don't know if we'd be greeted with flowers, but cautious optimism on the part of 95% of the population probably isn't too much to hope for. Some Iranians are in fact begging the US to liberate them.

Remember, the Kurds did greet us with flowers. The Shia put up very little resistance. We didn't stir up any nationalism there.

Why would we even need to occupy Iran? We're not planning on rebuilding the Iranian army and police from the ground up, nor should we. Iran's civil society functions pretty well.

All we really need to do is decapitate the leadership, and remove the secret police and the generals loyal to the mullahs. A 12-week ground/air campaign aimed at the regime and its loyalists should accomplish that handily. After that, we step aside and let the Iranian democrats and their loyalists take care of things. Casualties could be kept under 1,000.

Additionally, a substantial number of Iranian pro-democracy exiles/dissidents could be trained in southern Iraq and accompany our forces as militia, perhaps as many as 100,000.

'kay, Tom, I'll bite.
What if attack/invasion is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants us to do?
I didn't see that question answered in your quite beautiful and thorough postings.

I don't know where you get the idea that Americans are casualty averse. There are those who have tried to use the casualty issue to gain political power, sure, but how far did that get them? I think you are thinking about segments of the country, like the media, not about the majority.

The vast majority of Americans take their cues from those who put their lives on the line. Only if our soldiers say we are wasting lives will we become casualty averse. And they haven't.

A lot of numbers keep popping up. 1000 ... 10.000 ... 100.000 casualties ... two-week campaign - no, 6 weeks ... make that 12 weeks ... and so on.

What are your sources? Are those figures pulled out of thin air?

I'm being serious. Please cite your sources. (Unless you're relying on classified information, which I doubt.)

Same goes for various projections concerning the (un-)willingness of millions of Iranians in dealing with the Mullahs. Where does the confidence in either outcome stem from? A friend of an acquaintance of mine knows someone who read a piece in some blog - is it that?

Where's the meat? Where is the hard data?

I was and still am a supporter of the Bush Doctrine. But this time around we better provide some really hard data to those who are willing to follow this administration.

I'm confident that the hard data is somewhere in the wild. So far the factual reports on it have been scarce in this thread.

What if attack/invasion is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants us to do?

I remember hearing the same theories regarding Saddam, right up to Dec 2004.

Then we pulled him out of a spider-hole dirty, smelly, and badly needing a shave, and put him in prison and on trial. Suddenly we stopped hearing how this was all his master plan.

TallDave

You are totally discounting Iraqi Nationalism and, quite frankly, showing a vast ignorance of the Iraqi populace in your claim that 95% of Iraqis would be "cautiously optimistic" after a US invasion occupation.

It was precisely this type of uninformed, shall I say intentionally uninformed opinion making that created the mess we currently have which, by the way, makes an Iran invasion absolutely impossible.

It's like you guys not only never learn, but actually take pride in your ignorance.

And the rest of us are left to shake our heads and wonder why any fool paid attention.

Seth,

Tell that to the Japanese.
"Bombs alone never work, they just piss people off.
It depends on what else is happening.

Here I am concerned about minimizing American losses, so I favor invasion as the fastest means of removing the threat. When the only choices are who dies,

better them than us;
better less than more;
better soldiers than civilians
"Ask me for anything but TIME" - Napoleon Bonaparte

P.D. Shaw, It is necessary to be ever vigilant in not typing "Iraq" while intending to refer to Iran, and vice versa.

Oops.

And I should have also found a softer word than "support" to characterize Obama's views on Iran. In 2004, he identified the scope of the problem, the likely recalcitrance of the Mullahs and the probable need for force.

Davebo,

The whole substance of your post was "you're ignorant." Also, you seem to have confused Iran and Iraq. Is that the best you can do?

You are totally discounting Iraqi Nationalism
I assume you mean Iranian.

As I said, we didn't see any Iraqi nationalism. We saw some Sunni tribalism, but the Kurds greeted us with flowers and U.S flags, and the Shias were mostly receptive to our presence, contrary to predictions Iraqis would rise up en masse. You seem to be the one not learning.

talldave, untrue.
Shall I bring in a truthsayer for you?
;)
Actually, Saddam thought we would never attack, his cronies the french, russians and chinese had promised him they would take care of it.

Ahmadinejad is very clever, very crafty. I do not think he is a true believer, but he uses it. He is modelling the karim, an islamic legendery folk hero. I would not be at all surprised if he fancies himself an embryo hitler, of sorts.

Tom,

While I agree with your last post's priority list on who dies when it's clear someone will, I think you should be careful about dismissing those of us who are uncomfortable relying in airpower, especially by citing the Japanese example.

It was only the fact of the atomic attacks and their sheer change in the amount of destruction by orders of magnitude that caused them to destroy the Japanese will. Our conventional bombing, including the firebombing of Tokyo which was almost as destructive as the atomic attacks, had not come close to breaking the Japanese will.

I think the only way to ensure destruction of Iran's nuclear capability with air alone would be the systematic use of national strategic means - nuclear fires liberally applied. I don't think that will happen.

But, act we must, and soon!

What if attack/invasion is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants us to do?

An interesting question, but the answer is not obvious. Just because he wants us to does not mean we should not. It may mean he is better prepared than we might like, and it may mean we must fing ways to attack other than the obvious. Or, it may simply mean we must give him what he wants so overwhelmingly he cannot stop us.

While we must always use our utmost endeavors to understand the enemy's intentions, and to understand how he views the situation, that does not mean he is necessarily right in his assessment of either our capabilities or the probable outcome of engagement.

We must fight our war on our terms, subject to the check of reality, not allow the enemy to dictate when or how we fight.

"Depends on what you plan on using bombs for. To coerce behavior, no they probably dont work very well. To blow things up? They do a marvelous job. What is our #1 goal in Iran? To see some nasty things blown up. I dont see why we need to reinvent the wheel on this one."

yea, but that assumes just blowing up stuff will bring a descisive conclusion. If we can identify the right locations, and if we can hit them hard enough to cause relevant damage, and if we can do that enough to overcome any redundancy they may have which we don't know about, or can't get too.... then we merely gain a delay in their physical ability to proceed, at the cost of giving them a number of political benefits as the first attacked.

Just like deasert fox didn't make sense, because it didn't yeald a descisive result. Bombing Iran would make sense if it was a way to desicivly end their program, but if it's just to maybe possible delay it, when they finally do get the bomb, it'd put us in a worse position, as already at war with them and in the position of the agressor.

flursn,

Go here - www.strategypage.com and here - http://www.defenselink.mil/ - the latter has links up the wazoo.

American casualties and forces levels in Iraq are a matter of public record. I used them as a basis for comparison.

I encourage you to read the Atlantic Monthly article I linked and email the participants concerning the parameters of their exercise.

But if all you want to do is perform a drive-by sneer, here is some additional ammmunition.

25 years ago Jim Dunnigan asked me to design a remake of his 1977 board wargame, Oil War, published in his Strategy & Tactics magazine. I studied the subject and gave up, as the Persian Gulf was then an unimproved theater such that any game set there - particularly one depicting an American invasion of Iran and encounter with Soviet forces doing a de facto partition of the place a la 1939 Poland - would be boring as hell.

It would effectively have been a "spreadsheet" exercise (spreadsheets had not then been invented) emphasizing logistic issues. Jim and Austin Bay had the same problem ten years later, after much work had been done on improving the theater's logistics, in writing their "Arabian Nightmare - Kuwait War" game on Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Try playing that game with all its logistic rules - you'll find it frustrating as well as boring.

Mark Herman got around the issue, sort of, in his Gulf Strike game by enlarging the game concept to include sea and air power, as well as greatly extending its scope. But even his logistics rules are a problem.

I encourage you to improve your career prospects by putting down wargames in general, with particular reference to James F. Dunnigan and I. You sound dumb enough to actually try this.

I believe that Aristides and Seth speak truth, and since they have already said the things I would have said (and said them very well I might add), I won't repeat those arguments, except to say listen to thier words, and note that Mark is right about one thing - if we start bombing Iran, it won't be (or better not be) with the intention to intimidate anyone.

#106 flursyn,

I hate to break it to you but the military field is considered an art not a science.

All a person can do is give their best estimate.

No plan survives contact with the enemy.

Three weeks or twelve. What I take from that is that most estimates predict a short campaign.

You want more certainty - go into a more certain line of work. Tickling electrons (which I do) for instance. Even there only the simplest and shortest of plans have any chance of reliable predictability.

Cato, indeed, what you say is true.
But everywhere on the Web i see Ahmadinejad decried as a buffoon--he is not. There may be wheels within wheels we have not considered.
What if, say, he has signed secret mutual defense treaties with other islamic states?
What if there is an embargo planned and ready to roll?
There is purpose in his rants.
He is shaping a battlefield of his own.

Re #90

Tom,

I think its just as big a mistake to think that everyone that we try to invade is going to behave according to past models.

Odds are that we will run into some kind of situation like Vietnam or Afghanistan (for the Soviets) eventually. This has an uncanny way of happening just when we are at our most confident. I think we are dealing with a whole new situation here. I have seen people refer to past situations from the Ukrainian situation in the 1940's and to Iraq today. But none of these situations apply to the Iranian one.

It is precisely because I dont expect the Iranians to act according to our American script, that I am so concerned. They havent acted according to the predictions of many Iranian experts. Why do you think that all of a sudden, they are just going to welcome us with flowers now? If you recall, that prediction was also wrong for Iraq. It hasnt been as bad there as it could have been but neither can we possibly claim that our welcome went according to plan or prediction. In my opinion, we got lucky in Afghanistan with a population bone weary of war and willing to side with anyone who promised them decent treatment. We got less lucky in Iraq. I think its a huge mistake to assume that all future invasions will go as well. We cant rely on the past to predict the future when the situation is always changing on the ground moving forward.

The best way to deal with this problem is from a distance. We will have to be tougher and harder than we really want to be but I dont see where we have another choice.

There is however a bright side to making threats including the nuclear option to their cities and infrastructure. Could that be the thing that does finally get the people to knock out the mullahs? Its one thing to be willing to die a martyr in conventional war, but I wonder about the uniquely terrifying psychological effect of the threat of a nuclear bomb being dropped on your lands. Most people can imagine surviving a conventional war and rebuilding again. But few people will enter willingly into a situation that isnt survivable and where rebuilding after isnt an option. few but the most crazy people are are willing to die only to have all that they are willing to die for be destroyed. I wonder if faced with the ruin of their cities, if the Iranians will be so willing to stand with the mullahs who by their policies bring Iran under that kind of a threat?

Tom Holsinger:

Sorry I missed your response to my blockade comment a little earlier. It was buried in the flurry of responses.

I don't think it makes a great deal of difference. Like many of the oil-producing countries of the Middle East Iran's main employer is the government and the government's main source of revenue is oil. No oil shipments, no oil revenues, no pay for a lot of people. It would be an enforced sanctions system.

I just bring up the idea to put another ball in the air.

Hey, this comment is so far down it probably won't get much attention but I feel the need to comment.

Invasion; No way politically. Militarally, it would be possible but more difficult than Iraq as noted by virtually everyone in the thread.

Given the recent examples of Afghanistan and Iraq, why would we choose to emulate Iraq? The way to go is to work things like was done in Afghanistan. Get Spec Ops into every group that wants the mullahs gone, feed them guns, bombs, etc and on the count of three get massive American airpower to distribute bombs on targets set by our spec ops and iranian allies.

I also suggest playing a little dirty. We should acknowledge that in war sometimes killing is the best way ... therefore we should be trying to kill every engineer and scientist with enough education to work in their nuclear program. The human capital is very difficult to replace.

It think it is rather obvious that we should go after the mullahs as well.

Another idea: send in special ops to steal actual WMD evidence. We really don't need to any more ambiguous wars.

Re #90

Tom,

I think its just as big a mistake to think that everyone that we try to invade is going to behave according to past models.

Odds are that we will run into some kind of situation like Vietnam or Afghanistan (for the Soviets) eventually. This has an uncanny way of happening just when we are at our most confident. I think we are dealing with a whole new situation here. I have seen people refer to past situations from the Ukrainian situation in the 1940's and to Iraq today. But none of these situations apply to the Iranian one.

It is precisely because I dont expect the Iranians to act according to our American script, that I am so concerned. They havent acted according to the predictions of many Iranian experts. Why do you think that all of a sudden, they are just going to welcome us with flowers now? If you recall, that prediction was also wrong for Iraq. It hasnt been as bad there as it could have been but neither can we possibly claim that our welcome went according to plan or prediction. In my opinion, we got lucky in Afghanistan with a population bone weary of war and willing to side with anyone who promised them decent treatment. We got less lucky in Iraq. I think its a huge mistake to assume that all future invasions will go as well. We cant rely on the past to predict the future when the situation is always changing on the ground moving forward.

The best way to deal with this problem is from a distance. We will have to be tougher and harder than we really want to be but I dont see where we have another choice.

There is however a bright side to making threats including the nuclear option to their cities and infrastructure. Could that be the thing that does finally get the people to knock out the mullahs? Its one thing to be willing to die a martyr in conventional war, but I wonder about the uniquely terrifying psychological effect of the threat of a nuclear bomb being dropped on your lands. Most people can imagine surviving a conventional war and rebuilding again. But few people will enter willingly into a situation that isnt survivable and where rebuilding after isnt an option. few but the most crazy people are are willing to die only to have all that they are willing to die for be destroyed. I wonder if faced with the ruin of their cities, if the Iranians will be so willing to stand with the mullahs who by their policies bring Iran under that kind of a threat?

"I don't know where you get the idea that Americans are casualty averse."

We're been reacting to Iraq that like it's Korea's 50k dead, and of course Vietnam's 60k. As Victor Hanson once put it, Okanawa cost over 15 thousand lives over two months and the response of that generations was 'on to tokyo'. Iwo cost over 6 thousand lives and that was for an airfield.

The whole Iraq war's only cost about 2k deaths and like 20k in serious wounded.

Today, in response to those numbers, we actually have to have a serious public debate about whether it's worth continuing to prosecute a war against irregular forces fighting with munitions scavanged off the battlefield, that's cost a fraction of the casualties than we should rightly expect from a single battle.

I don't doubt that the army has the will to fight, but it's the civilian populace that ultimatly determines if they will or not. And oh, just look at the polls. They're casualty adverse alright.

Dave,

My point about blockade is that those always take time to be effective, and war is a two-way street. Reliance on blockade to bring down the mullah regime gives them time to strike back, and they have nuclear weapons.

Even without nuclear weapons, they will close the Straits of Hormuz for at least a few weeks. We don't have the luxury of time. This is why the only military options the Bush administration is cosidering are a series of massive air raids over a period of no more than a week, and invasion. IMO they'll choose the former.

But Iranian possession of nuclear weapons changes everything. We have to take down their regime as fast as possible because not doing so gives them the opportunity to hurt us too badly.

There are only two means of elinminating the mullahs' regime quickly - massive strategic nuclear attack aka genocide, and invasion. I advocate the latter.

And I fear that Bush's choice will result in their making a later EMP attack on us as described by Frank Gaffney in his Washington Times article linked in my article. Here's the bare link:

http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20060116-100037-9847r.htm

Peggy,

You said, "I think its just as big a mistake to think that everyone that we try to invade is going to behave according to past models."

We're not talking about "everyone". We are talking about specific countries with specifically known military and cultural histories.

From Anthony Cordesman's Lessons of Modern War: The Iran Iraq War (Lessons of Modern War Vol. II), from memory. Iraqi officers explained Iranian methods of war to Mr. Cordesman thusly:
"Iranian mine warfare technology - a boot.
Advanced Iranian mine warfare technology - a stick to hit the mines with."
And they weren't kidding.

Consider what we did to the Iraqis twice. Then consider their opinion of Iranian military prowess.

I've been studying this for a long time. Consider that I might really know what I am talking about.

I realize that taking anyone's statements on faith is an issue. This is why it is necessary to participate in on-line communities for a while - to distinguish those whose judgment on certain matters can be trusted from those who shouldn't.

My opinions on the law of California Civil Procedure are excellent, and I am a true expert in summary judgment procedure - this is my day job. When someone says a given use of a firearm in the line of duty by a California police officer was unjustified, and I say it was justified, side with me. Ditto for land use and environmental disputes.

Military and foreign affairs are not my day job, though I did get an interesting career opportunity offer my senior year in college, which I turned down as I wanted to be a lawyer. I know a fair amount about electoral politics and mechanics too - there I have experience.

But my on-line participation since 1990 can be Googled. You can also stick around here and form your own opinion of my judgments in matters.

Peggy,

A lot of warfare is based on how people behave.

For instance - start shooting at most people and they will at least duck. Most will run in the opposite direction, especially unarmed.

Professioinal militarys know the safest thing to do is to charge into the attack.

Thus you have two women MPs taking out a trench line. That is training.

To think you can change human nature without extensive training is probably unwise.

People who feel under the yoke of an unjust government welcome invaders. The Ukraine example I give is not the first time it has happened.

However you do have a point. How hard will the deposed fight to get back their lost privledges? That is the unpredictable variable.

I'm convinced, but then I already was: " ... " [Read the whole thing here. It's long but it's worth it.]

I don't doubt that the army has the will to fight, but it's the civilian populace that ultimatly determines if they will or not. And oh, just look at the polls. They're casualty adverse alright.

Which polls? The one from November 2004?

I agree that the rising casualty figures have led to debates in the media and among politicians, even though they (the casualties) are historically low for an invasion.

But how much do these "debates" affect the average American? If you poll whether 2000 dead is bad, of course you will get an overwhelming response that it is. I have seen nothing, however, to indicate that the casualty figures from Iraq have been determinative in forming opinion for or against the war. Anti-warriors use the numbers cynically; they were always against the war. And on the flip side, hawks understand that to advocate war is to advocate sacrifice.

It is normal to be casualty averse, in the sense that one never likes to pay the butcher's bill. However, we are still the same people who took Meatgrinder Hill, who stormed the beaches of Normandy, and who recaptured Hue City.

Which leads us back to the question of will, and belief in the necessity of the mission. I think it is there. I think the noise made by interested parties over the casualty figures of Iraq belie their actual number. I think being a loud movement can sometimes resemble being a popular movement, and I think our politicians and our media get fooled by this all the time, and the subsequent debates then inflate the issue beyond its actual significance.

Imagine the following scenario. Bush launches a preemptive strike on Iran that looks largely like what Tom has written. Liberal Democrats then go on the offensive, led astray, once again, by the tenacity of their base.

Bush's defense will be the facts. He will have years of Iranian perfidy to work with. He will have Iranian parliamentary statements to work with (Death to America, etc.). He will have statements of concern from the international community to work with. He will say that he saw an imminent threat, and would not stand by while American interests were threatened by a mad regime.

What is the rebuttal? That he should have waited until Iran had nukes? That we shouldn't really believe what those provincials in Iran say to each other? That we should have listened to the UN, and let China and Russia determine our foreign policy? That we should have passed a global test?

Bush can meet each point offered by his opponents with brutally effective counterpoints, supported by hard facts and videotaped statements, while Dems would paint themselves, once again, as unwilling or unable to make hard decisions for the security of America.

In the movie Three Kings, Clooney explains that when you do something you are afraid of, you only get the courage after you have done it. I think the same applies to our political will. Do it, then have the debate, then let the voters decide who has the right of it.

heh

Not a single mention of the tens of thousands of suicide bombers Iran will use. You'll have suicide bombers ranging from 12-70 yrs of age from both sexes.

As soon as US troops land on the ground you'll see almost the entire population of Iran snap into crazed Islamic fighters. Anyone with any knowledge of modern Iran knows this.

Bob is right, of course. Worse, there are probably sleepers here in the US waiting for things to get kinetic.

But that is not an argument against the war. That is an argument of cost, which, as Tom has stated, must be balanced against the cost of allowing Iran to get nukes.

If Iran gets nukes, these costs of war will only be delayed, not eliminated. Worse, they will only be a small subset of the overall cost, which will be enormous. If you think suicide bombings and latent terrorists are bad news, wait until the patron has a nuclear deterrent and launch capability.

Such a world would be as unrecognizable as it is unacceptable. We have the power to avoid this future. For God's sake, and for ours, let's use it before it's too late.

Bob,

You seem unfamiliar with the terrorist infrastructure required for a suicide bombing campaign. It is not in place in Iran yet. The infrastructure costs money and needs nearby targets just to be set up. Until our troops get there, the infrastructure won't and can't be created. That will happen only after we invade.

You also don't seem to realize that such attacks were figured into my casualty estimates.

As for the "entire population", you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I suggest you do further study into the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-89 and its aftermath. The Cordesman book I cited above would be a good place to start.

The great mass of the Iranian people will not merely refuse to participate in this, but will actively oppose it. They were hurt too badly by the Iraqis and buried too many of their children who had been suckered by the mullahs.

While I expect there to be a suicide-bombing camapign against American forces after the conquest of Iran, one of greater magnitude than in Iraq, it will also be of shorter duration because it will lack outside support.

Seth - sometimes bombs alone DO work. That's how we halted and then got rid of the execrable Milosevic.

oog, I just reread the article and noticed that someone adding headings that were not present in the file I sent for publication. And the headings contain mis-spellings.

"adding headings" - gah. I did it too.

Iranian Nationalism

This is an important point, and I'm glad Tom addresses it a few posts above.

I would go a bit further than Tom, though, and suggest those opposing the action are essentially arguing the Iranian people are morons, stupider and less morally aware than we Westerners.

Consider if we were in their shoes:

I love America. If America was being ruled by anti-democratic illiberal theocrats who openly rigged elections, brutalized and imprisoned dissidents, impoverished the country, grossly violated my civil rights, and were about to get us into a war we can only lose over their WMD lust, I would not be happily goose-stepping for "my leader" just because it's "my country." Given the chance to be liberated and given real democracy by a well-intentioned superpower who could accomplish the feat with minimal casualties, I would roll out the red carpet for the invaders (hell, I'd be emailing them GPS targeting coordinates). And if you have any sense of right and wrong, so would you.

Tom,

Sorry about that. I did that when I switched the article over to Guest Author status.... it becomes necessary in long blog articles because otherwise they don't read well online, but that isn't something you could be expected to know.

I'll fix the spellings, and can remove them entirely if you wish.

Joe,

Please remove all the headings.

I think that Americans act confusingly on casualties, but I also think I can predict it. Here is how things appear to work:

Americans will support just about any military action that does not cause a single US combat casualty.

Americans will support any campaign with only a few dozen or a few hundred casualties, but will complain because we should have been able to do it with fewer casualties.

Americans will support any campaign that directly impacts national security, as they perceive it, regardless of casualties. The level of bitching in such a case will be less the higher the casualties get, because higher casualties indicate a harder fight and thus a greater threat. Americans are less willing to sacrifice for a perceived small threat than for a perceived large threat. Ironically, if the US had taken several thousand casualties in capturing Baghdad, as even war supporters generally thought likely, there probably would have been less concern about the casualty figures.

Americans will not support an extended campaign without clear evidence of success or clear evidence of threat. In an extended campaign, more casualties result in more opposition domestically, unless there is clear evidence of a threat. Korea kept popular support both because of its proximity to WWII and because of its short duration. Viet Nam lost popular support because of the long duration, high casualties, and perceived low level of threat to the US per se.

Americans other than anti-war activists don't tend to tie one campaign to another very closely, even if they are close in time.

So as far as public opinion on Iran goes, if the public is convinced that Iran is a threat, they would be willing to support high casualties to end that threat, and would not look at Iraq as a reason to undertake or not to undertake an attack on Iran. The anti-war types would try, and fail, to tie the two together. But if the public cannot be convinced that Iran is a threat, then only if the campaign can be waged with essentially no casualties (not possible in Iran even for just an air campaign, because Iran will strike back aggressively) would the public support a campaign against Iran.

So the key to American will to fight Iran is understanding the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, and the likelihood of Iran getting nuclear weapons.

Tom, thanks so much for your summary. I have several comments and questions.

1. U bomb v. Pu bomb. Are your estimates of Iranian warhead quantities based on Uranuim bombs?

Yellowcake enrichment is laborious, but construction of a "gun-type" U bomb isn't too terribly complex. A plutonium implosion bomb, on the other hand, requires technical proficiency in the fuel cycle, in the placement of the high explosive, and especially in the wiring of that explosive, in order to ensure simultaneous detonation.

Are the current Iranian missles, or well as the reported BM-25, able to lift a Uranium "gun"-bomb payload, or do they require a plutomium implosion warhead? To put it another way, do the Iranians need to finish the fuel cycle in order to have a viable MRBM nuke? I suspect the more optimistic estimates of Iranian nuclear capability are predicated on Pu bombs, not U bombs.

2. Iranian Air Defence and USAF SEAD. Russia is about to deliver SA-15 Grumble systems to Iran. This, in addition to Iran's "pre-existing"http://www.defense-update.com/2005/12/irans-point-defense-upgraded.html SA-2, SA-5, SA-6, and SA-10 and Hawk systems. While some of these systems are long in the tooth, it ought to be pointed out that a competent Serb SA-3 battery gave the USAF fits during the Kosovo campaign. Trent Telenko has previously commented on the USAF's deficiencies in this area, and the Afghan and Iraq campaigns didn't do much to focus the USAF's attention here. Possibly complicating the USAF's problems in Iran is the rumored Russian plasma stealth capability. If the Russians are selling SA-15s to Iran, one cannot rule out a sale of this system, if it exists.

3. Bekaa. Iran and probably Syria are in control of a large rocket force in S. Lebanon, pointed at Israel. These rockets might be written off as a nuisance, like Iraq's SCUD force during the 1991 war. Unless, of course, the idea of non-conventional warheads is introduced. Then the rocket force becomes non-trivial, like Iraq's SCUD force during the 1991 war. I assume that the current de-stabiliztion operations in Syria have the ultimate goal of access to the Bekaa. How much notice will the Israelis need to deal with this threat? Will they confine themselves to conventional weapons here?

4. Port Acess and Supply Tom wrote above, "The logistical base is called Kuwait." In the event of an Iranian invasion, I don't think that any supply line running through S. Iraq would be reliable. British policy in S. Iraq has been to allow the Sadrists to run wild, and the IRGC is Sadr's sugar daddy. It's more likely, IMO, that any sustained supply line must run through Western Iraq, either starting at Haifa, Aqaba, or Jeddah. Such a supply line would require increased Sunni cooperation.

5. The Iraq engame

The Sunnis may find it expedient to cooperate. Certainly, they're now suffering some of the depredations of arbitrary state power through Iraq's Iranian-penetrated Interior Ministry. In addition, their Syrian
monetary sanctuary is under threat.

However, Sunni cooperation may hinge on the reason for the Iraq war in the first place. To the close observer, the anthrax unveiled in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was the result of a professional, state-run operation, not a nefarious rogue scientist. The chief suspect in a biological warfare attack is and was Iraq.

We've already released Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax, yet the insurgency is not yet defeated. What else might the Sunnis get out of us before all is done?

It appears that the Iraqi baathists retain an effective deterrent.

Might the Iranians have followed Saddam's example? Despite the maintenence burdens of nuclear weapons, could there be an Iranian nuke pre-positioned on US soil even now?

Tom,
Brilliant post!
I agree with you completely on the over estimation of Iranian nationalism.

Once the American troops are in Tehran, the middle class will secretly cheer and count the days that Tehran becomes more like Paris (provided they have security and no car bombings every morning), the poor will still be struggling to put food on the table and hope that the war ends quickly and things normalize so that they can go back to their jobs, while the secular, democratic elites will be working with the US to form a new pluralistic democratic Iran.

However, there are two causes of concern that I have:

(1) 80's revolutionaries and the under age 25 male revolutionaries.
I am talking about the under age 25 poor, lowly educated males full of the revolutionary spirit who these days practice their vigilantism on the protesting university students.
Will the 80's revolutionaries still have the organizational capabilities and logistics to mobilize these young men into guerilla groups.

Trust me, Iran still has a sizeable population of poor lowly educated under 25 aged men who do still believe in the revolution. I fear them and I think the only way they could be tamed would be when they get no organization support and direction from the 80's revolutionaries.
The 80's revolutionaries (current leaders of Iran) will have to be made completely ineffective so that they can provide no support system to the young foot soldiers. If we cant neutralize their organizational capabilities, there are enough young revolutionaries in Iran to put up an insurgency atleast 20 times the ferocity/magnitude of the insurgents in the Sunni triangle.

(2) Foreign Jihadists: Will religious Iraqi Shiites from Southern Iraq heed the call of the Iranian Ayotullahs to defend Iran against the US occupation? I dont believe that there will be a mass movement of Sunni Jihadists into Iran either from Afghanistan/Pakistan or from the Arab nations.
I do fear that
(a) The Iraqi Shiites will rise up en masse against the US forces either at the behest of the Grand Ayotullah Sistani or a bigwig like Hakim or at the behest of smaller mischief makers like Sadr which will turn the public opinion so much against the US forces that the senior Iraqi Shiite clergy will have no option but to affirm the rebellion
(2) Will the Iraqi Shiites from the South actually cross the Iraq-Iran border to fight the American occupation? Will they team up with the Sunni insurgents and the foreign jihadists in Iraq? The foreign jihadists already in Iraq will love to get a piece of the action in Iran though I dont believe that arab jihadists will necessarily move into Iran from Saudi Arabia or Syria.
Cross border replenishments will make it very difficult to control the Iranian insurgency especially if they keep getting a fresh supply of Shiite fighters from Iraq.

i don't understand all the discussion. if we were less concerned about collateral damage, we would lose a lot fewer of our own people. turn tehran into hiroshima. do it before the democrats and the press can sabotage any attempt we might make. i would rather lose 100,000 of THEIR civilians than 2,000 of OUR military.

I was always under the impression that our efforts to transform Iraq into Disneyland were primarily aimed at an Iranian audience. Supposedly, we were going to create a model of freedom, democracy and prosperity in the Middle East (all paid for with Iraq's oil, no less), thus instigating (or at least hastening) a revolution in Iran.

The distance between the predictions and the reality in Iraq might give one pause about an invasion of Iran.

I guess my comment went into the sinktrap... :(

Guys,

Most of you are continually ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Chirac just admitted yesterday that a loose nuke might just be in Paris at this moment (or else he lamely decided to prepare the French public to allow the Iranians to get nukes and deter them only via MAD). At the very least, we can all be very sure that, should anyone invade Iran or even foment a significant revolution from outside...another 9-11 will happen with radioactivity involved.

But better now than later.

The idea that the US would "unilaterally invade" Iran and that we would become "pariahs" and the support for Bush would go into the "20s"...assumes that Iran will play the trick Al Qaeda played regarding Iraq...which was to act like the victim and not attack American civilians outside Iraq.

Remember, Chirac announced at the beginning of the Iraq War that France would be quasi against the USA as long as the battle remained in Iraq. France, 6 weeks later, OK'd the US occupation in Iraq by the way.

We could only HOPE that the Iranian regime would just play the victim and, like Saddam's forces and Zarqawi, try to fight the USA in Iran to get the US to get a "black eye" and to "look bad" and to get the American Republicans to "lose the Midterm elections."

We can fervently WISH for that rosy scenario. Because rosy it would be. Bush has no further political aspirations and also knows that the future of Iraq depends on a non-nuclear friendly Iran. Bush's legacy requires that he liberate Iran or push it into revolution before he leaves office.

More likely, is that another 9-11 will happen as soon as the war starts and Hezbollah will cause several radioactive if not nuclear incidents that will infuriate westerners and especially Americans and cause tremendous blowback, carte blanche, for more destructive action against our enemies everywhere.

America is a sleeping giant right now. It was lulled back to sleep after 9-11. Give it another 9-11, even if that results from an American invasion, and the public will be saying "Finish off those suckers, NOW".

So what I am saying is that, for Bush, the only real political troubles the party he is retiring from might have...would be the number of dead American civilians resulting from Hezbollah or Al Qaeda finally pressing the button on a nuke that is already inside an American city or near an American nuclear power plant.

That is the only consideration.

If our enemies are planning on making Iran another "quagmire like Iraq"...then that would be fantastic! Because the outcome couldn't possibly be anything other than the slaughter of the "insurgents" more quickly.

Remember as well...the US troops still in Iraq are seemingly only there to keep our enemies from getting slaughtered by the Shiite controlled Iraqi Army. We are preventing civil war that the Sunnis could not win.

But IMHO the real reason our troops are still there must be that they still have a serious job to do regarding Iran and Syria. US troops have to remain in Iraq as long as Iran can assassinate Iraqi officials and basically acquire a puppet state.

We cannot win in the liberation of Iraq unless we liberate Iran as well. It is that simple.

The reason I say that tneeds to have is the number of dead US civilians resulting from a Hezbollah or Al Qaeda attack, is because superpowers or countries are most ignored or disliked when they seemingly don't control the world's resources or the majority of that. When a nation does control massive resources, it gets friends fast.

America was hated a lot more when Iran and Iraq hated us and the Saudis were obviously supporting 9-11 actions against us. Europeans were basically saying that since we'd clearly lost control of the resources, what gave us the right to take them by force. They were showing disrespect because we didn't seem to have control anymore and they placed their money on other forces, perhaps their own diplomatic efforts, gaining power over world resources.

But, as it is getting clearer and clearer that Iraq will be a major pro-American oil producing state...attitudes in Europe really are shifting. Give us all 3 major oil producing countries as pro-American, and you will notice financial support for the left wing will drop heavily and normal people in Europe and everywhere else will respect the USA a lot more. It has always been that way.

But with Iran about to get nukes after which it could easily assassinate pro-American officials in Iraq...we risk losing everything. We need to precipitate an Iranian Revolution at least by this summer if now now in order to achieve the effect of popularity that comes with controlling 2/3rds of the Middle East's oil plus the Saudi oil which we still control as well.

Militarily: Cakewalk. Iran can be taken by a Northern Alliance/Afghan type action. When you think of an Iran War...think Afghanistan War with major Al Qaeda terror in the west. There will be no insurgency afterwards because the game will be all over. The Iraq Insurgency was in the interest of Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia as a way of preventing the USA from going to the next regime and the next, etc. But if it becomes obvious that 1) the game is over and 2) Americans cannot be dissuaded from the Bush Doctrine even if the terrorists do not make American liberals angry at them by attacking US civilians...then our enemies will only have the option of throwing everything they have to destroy us (20 nukes?) or ending the war.

And if we control Iranian and Iraqi oil via friendships and security arrangements with the new regimes...and members of the Saudi Royal Family continue to support Al Qaeda (and Al Qaeda remains anti-American instead of secretly coopted)...then we consider the idea of letting the Shiites talk about taking Mekka and the Saudi oil fields (where the majority of people are Shia by the way)...and let the Sunnis realize that they really do have to be friends with the USA in order for the USA to keep the Shiites in check.

History shows that, if the USA ends up in control of all of the Middle East's resources, the left wing anti-Americanism in this world will go down instead of up (and lose funding). Some would say the opposite: that the resentment would rise. But history shows the opposite. Resentment is mainly there to stop a superpower from taking power, not keeping it.

There are several imperatives here:

1) Russia has to find an alternative to the present situation of profiting from turmoil in the Middle East. High oil prices keep the Russian bear happy...but not China and the USA and Europe. Angela Merkel and even Schroeder in Germany is great to have on our side regarding this.

2) Saudi Arabia must be kept in a position where they fear a superpower other than the USA and rely on the USA for military protection, not Saudi nukes.

3) The Iranian regime needs to be removed or we will lose in Iraq.

#140 AM,

Your point #1 is contradicted by the Iranian need to hire Arab mercenaries as security police.

This is as sick as it gets and shows clearly the snowballing of our invasion of Iraq. No one will be better for it. What kind of drugs are you all on?

The other Alan,

What is so sick about it? We are discussing the several drastic options in response to the prospect of religious lunatics getting the bomb. This is not only a grave threat to our national security but it could also lead to a nuclear arms race in the worlds most insane region bar none.

People are going to die in this situation and they are going to die in great numbers one way or the other. The only questions are as follows: will they die quickly or in a trickle? What action will most effeciently and effectively contain what will inevitably be massive casualties among the civilian population of the ME? Which possible strategies have the greatest chance of success and which ones are more likely to result in dramatic harm not only to our interests as a nation but the interests of all the people in the world?

The nuclear bomb is a uniquely terrifying weapon capable of killing on a massive scale in a moment. But long drawn out wars can result in just as many casualties. Women and children, the sick and the elderly are not spared any more in conventional war than they are in a nuclear attack. They die just the same. While nuclear attack should always be the very last and most desparate action, the resolute threat of such an attack can be very effective and the nuke option should never be off the table. As sad as it certainly is, one nuke make the difference between hundreds of thousands and millions of deaths.

Some folks are sickos and way too quick to say, just nuke em. I'm not one of them and I thank God that none of these people are in power. However, the nuclear option is an option that cannot be abandoned by any responsible government. It isnt sick for citizens to discuss all the options, including this one, which our government may be tragically forced to undertake.

Tom,

You say that I should trust you because you know what you are talking about. Why should I defer to your expertise after so many other expert predictions have failed to come true regarding Iran? I thought that I made it pretty clear that I take the opinion of the experts with a grain of salt because nothing that I am seeing seems to square up with what they so confidently predict. All predictions are a crap shoot. It doesnt matter if the predictor uses a crystal ball or advanced analysis of past conflicts. Its all hoodoo.

I do not buy the line that the people are ever powerless. If enough people are pissed off enough revolution will take place. If the Iranians are not pissed off enough at their mullahs to revolt then that is a bad sign. Its says to me that they are a x-factor that looms large enough to doom any attempt to invade and occupy Iran. In that case the long range option seems the better option with the greater chances of success since the x factor of the people of Iran is largely deleted from the equation.

You talk about the choice between invasion and genocide. I dont see that choice as true at all. We are not talking about either turning all of Iran into a sea of glass or invading. The two options we are discussing are conventional air campaign with a credible and resolute threat of limited surgical nuclear strikes behind it or an invasion which could stretch our resources to the breaking point and by this I dont just mean militarily or economically but also psychologically in harm and stress to a national morale which is already so strained.

I dont think we can afford another invasion and I do not trust anyone anymore who says that we shouldnt be concerned about invading another country. I just dont believe that we can handle two Iraqs at the same time. We should use our other options.

Or, as my co-workers often recommend, turn the arabian penninsula into a plain of black glass and slant drill under it.

They could be nuked instead. But would that really be more humanitarian than an invasion?

You talk about the choice between invasion and genocide. I dont see that choice as true at all. We are not talking about either turning all of Iran into a sea of glass or invading. The two options we are discussing are conventional air campaign with a credible and resolute threat of limited surgical nuclear strikes behind it or an invasion which could stretch our resources to the breaking point and by this I dont just mean militarily or economically but also psychologically in harm and stress to a national morale which is already so strained.

Peggy,

We are talking about what needs to be done to prevent a nuclear war with a state run by irrational religous fanatics.

Tom's starting point is that Iran is a nuclear armed state. You avoid that point like the plague.

The choices here are either a bolt from the blue preemptive invasion or nuclear genocide after we get hit.

There are no other options.

As for this:

I do not buy the line that the people are ever powerless. If enough people are pissed off enough revolution will take place. If the Iranians are not pissed off enough at their mullahs to revolt then that is a bad sign. Its says to me that they are a x-factor that looms large enough to doom any attempt to invade and occupy Iran. In that case the long range option seems the better option with the greater chances of success since the x factor of the people of Iran is largely deleted from the equation.

This is the situation on the ground in Iran via strategypage.com:

Oil and Nuclear Threats

January 20, 2006: The government is playing hardball with the rest of the world over the issue of their nuclear weapons program. Attempts to impose economic sanctions, or military attack, on Iran would, the government now threatens, result in Iran withholding its oil. Iran is selling about $40 billion worth of oil a year. If Iran's oil were pulled from the market, the cost of oil would probably rise 20-50 percent. Iran believes this would hurt the rest of the world, than it would Iran (which would still have its unshipped oil). The rising price of oil over the last few years has enabled Iran to create a reserve of some $50 billion. Iran also knows that embargos don't work, and a determined government, especially if they have a lot of money, can find ways around it.


bq. The basic situation in Iran is that the Islamic conservative minority (about 20 percent of the population) benefits from a constitution that gives the senior clergy a veto over government actions. The Islamic conservatives control the police and military, and maintain their own separate army of armed men, to protect that control. The majority of Iranians are not willing to fight a civil war to break the Islamic conservative control. That control was obtained during the 1980s, after Iraq invaded Iran (hoping to grab some oil wells while Iran was distracted with overthrowing the monarchy.) In all the chaos of that war, the Islamic conservatives got the new constitution modified to favor themselves. The Islamic conservatives are now using nationalism ("Iran must have nukes!") to help maintain power, and popular support for the nuclear weapons program. But the Iranian clergy also supports world conquest by Islam, the destruction of Israel and the United States, and terrorism in general. Thus they are seen as far more dangerous with nukes.

Peggy, the Iranian people are not a player in this discussion. To pretend otehrwise is a game of avoidance and reality denial.

Tom, last I heard, it was estimated that NK had 4-6 bombs. Do you seriously think they'd give/sell any to anyone else at that stage? This was maybe a year ago, so they may have more now. Also, if reports can be believed, Iran is frantically trying to buy/produce bomb-quality fissile materials. Add the not inconsiderable problem of marriage to delivery systems. I'm not a pollyanna, just skeptical of their having nukes coupled with delivery capability right this minute. I wish I had cites, but I don't. If I find some, I'll be back.

As to our military being bent or overstretched, approximately 10% of our active duty are on the ground in Iraq. The logistics train is practically in place for an Iran invasion. The faster we train Iraqis to take care of their own, the more rapid the buildup for invasion next door. The "rough men" really don't give 2 hoots in hell if they are greeted with flowers. We have for nearly a century had the most capable armed forces the world has ever seen and today's volunteer warriors may be the best of the best. Anyone who worries whether we will win a shooting war is seriously deluded.....or stupid....or actively anti-war. Not to say cake walk, just don't be silly.

In 26 years active duty USAF, I learned a couple things. One is that a lot of accurate information is available in the public realm (Can you say Janes? Can you say CSI? Can you say Aviation Week?) that, for whatever reason, is "classified". Example: I took a masters poli sci course in the mid-'70's where we simulated the SALT negotiations. The active military were the Soviets and the civvies were USA. We anticipated the results TO THE MISSILE, using entirely public information. The prof was dumbfounded, sent the results to his mentors at Stanford and numerous gummint sites, to what effect I never found out. Another is that in our (necessary) tendency to "worst case" every scenario, we frequently, if inadvertantly, overestimate the bad guys' capability.

To make my position clear, I'm all for kicking ass and taking dog tags. I'm pretty sure there is some preparation afoot. (Haven't seen any follow up as to where the 3 F-16 squadrons wound up?) I think GWB will do what's necessary.

Peggy,
Larry's got the point: "I'm all for kicking ass and taking dog tags." That's what this is about. A good dose of oil, Zionism, and kicking some Muslim or Arab butt. At some point it will bring in China and India. This is like an addict who keeps on mugging to get his fix. Get some help. We'll be building our separation fence soon enough.

One more thing: If Jimmah (His successors are complicit, too.) had had any balls, the ACT OF WAR when the Iranians took our embassy would have been met with immediate and decisive retribution. We've waited 26 years, during which we've already been at war. Who needs more justification? We were at war with Iraq for 12 years before we invaded, during which they broke most of the cease-fire agreements. Who the heck needed any further justification? Much of our troubles have been of our own making. Specifically, I mean we have let our enemies walk over us to the point where they are confident they can get away with it. Way past time to put quit to that idea.

Larry's got it wrong. We've been at war with Iran since we helped oust Mossadegh in 1953. Iran was a gameboard for US-USSR tension. It was a source of oil. We left it with the Shah, that great liberal democrat. We could care less for the Iranian people then or now. If you think you're going to solve any of this with guns, bombs and bombast, forget it.

I'm not sure how many people took note of Chirac's statement in a serious manner. I for one did. The simple fact of "who" and from "where" the statement was made was the reason.

As a citizen who considers herself to be center/right, I am not in denial. Full invasion does not scare me. What does scare me is the state that our own country has gotten into.

The fact that our government and President needs to even contemplate about waiting for a nuclear bomb to hit us before taking action, is a frightening condition. The fact that an evil, sick, wacko can use our "condition" to blackmail us is very telling indeed. We have a situation in this country that has become a standoff between those who's eyes are open and those that refuse to acknowledge anything beyond their nose. I don't like politics anymore. Not when it could get me and many of us here killed.

Larry said:

Tom, last I heard, it was estimated that NK had 4-6 bombs. Do you seriously think they'd give/sell any to anyone else at that stage? This was maybe a year ago, so they may have more now. Also, if reports can be believed, Iran is frantically trying to buy/produce bomb-quality fissile materials. Add the not inconsiderable problem of marriage to delivery systems. I'm not a pollyanna, just skeptical of their having nukes coupled with delivery capability right this minute. I wish I had cites, but I don't. If I find some, I'll be back.

Libya showed the IAEA a Chinese nuclear weapon design of Pakistani origin when it turned states evidence two years ago.

A.J. Khan also sold that design to the Iranians. We know this from this Pakistanis.

The Iranians have test-launched Scuds from freighters.

The Iranians have purchased Russian submarine launched ballistic missiles via North Korean cut outs. (See comment #74 )

All Tom has added to that mix is his opinion that recent statements by the nutball Iranian President that the recent oil price spike funded the purchase of North Korean nuclear fission triggers for a thermonuclear device.

This means we can expect to take an Iranian freighter launched EMP missile attack from 1200 km off our coastline if we screw around with less than a regime change bolt-from-the-blue invasion or a nuclear decapitation attack on Iran. (See comment #125)

Stopping Iran the sooner the better. Yes. Thanks, Trent, for pointing me at those comments, but I'm still missing something. Designs, Scuds, missiles, triggers, SLBM's, freighters, etc. What about yewrayneeyum? Do they have it?

Alan: They're coming after appeaseniks, too. The "we've done bad stuff" argument is so......um, STOOPID!

Stopping Iran the sooner the better. Yes. Thanks, Trent, for pointing me at those comments, but I'm still missing something. Designs, Scuds, missiles, triggers, SLBM's (complete with atomic warheads?), freighters, etc. What about uranium? That seems to be the (public) question. Do they have it? I'm not trying to be difficult. Guess I just need things spelled out for me.

Alan: They're coming after appeaseniks, too. The "we've done bad stuff, too" argument is so......um, STUPID!

Stopping Iran the sooner the better. Yes. Thanks, Trent, for pointing me at those comments, but I'm still missing something. Designs, Scuds, missiles, triggers, SLBM's (complete with atomic warheads?), freighters, etc. What about uranium? That seems to be the (public) question. Do they have it? I'm not trying to be difficult. Guess I just need things spelled out for me.

Alan: They're coming after appeaseniks, too. Death or dhimmitude for infidels. Do you prefer they have nukes to aid establishing the Caliphate? The "we've done bad stuff, too" argument is so......um, STUPID!

Sorry the multi-posts. The first 2 were previews!

Sorry about the multi-posts. The first 2 were previews!

Trent,

I dont know where you get your ideas about my opinions. Do you actually think that I am counseling doing nothing?

You said,

"The choices here are either a bolt from the blue preemptive invasion or nuclear genocide after we get hit."

And seem to completely ignore that I have been advocating all along for a third option

I said,

"The two options we are discussing are conventional air campaign with a credible and resolute threat of limited surgical nuclear strikes behind it or an invasion which could stretch our resources to the breaking point."

I am the one arguing for the conventional air campaign backed by a credible and resolute threat to use nuclear weapons in a strictly limited way.

Tom seems to think that the choices are wiping out the Iranian people under a barrage of nukes or invading Iran. I say that we target with conventional weaponry all the vital structures that Iran can't hide ie cities and oil industry infrastructure and so on. That will be the warning that we are serious. Maybe what you dont understand is that I want an attack on Iran as quickly as anyone else here. The difference is in the means of attack.

If an immediate and devastating air attack doesnt change their minds about coming out as a nuclear power and cause them to agree to dismantle their program and their bombs, then they should be made to clearly understand that the next step, the loss of a city or two will commence. I honestly dont think they are as suicidal as they are made out by some to be. They are counting on tying the hands of the West and the West doing nothing to stop it. Right now they are thinking that they can get away with it and still have their base left intact from which to conquer the world. If we show them that continuing to produce and cache nuclear weapons will result in more destruction than they can handle, they will back down. The success of their revolution means more to them than anything else. Iran has to survive for that to happen.

As for the people not being a factor. Where do you get this idea? You can see perfectly into the future and see that they will not join the resistance in great numbers? You actually think that they can be ruled out? I wish I had your powers to predict the future. The iranian people are a major x-factor against the invasion after it takes place. If you paid careful attention to my argument you would see that I count them out of the picture as regards any regime change before an invasion but not because of the absolute power of the state but because they dont really mind it that much. My argument is that they could very likley be a major factor after the invasion.

And no, I havent avoided the premise that Iran already has nukes like the plague. I havent said anything because I assume that to be a plausible premise. However, Iran still hasnt formally revealed themselves which as I said above indicates that their plans arent ready yet. I think the most likely motive for their program is to become the power player in the ME and to protect themselves (they think) from attack. They may be religious fanatics but they are fanatics with a mission. That mission isnt to destroy either themselves or the ME (although that's unfortunately not the case with Israel) but to become a great power so they can better spread Islam and prove to the world that an Islamic theocracy is the best form of government. They are fanatics but they are self interested ones. Yes, they are not above suicide on an individual scale or as a tactical weapon, but mass suicide and the end of their dream is not in the cards for them. Thats why I feel there is still time. They havent got to the top of the pile yet. They are still manuvering. Swift devastating action now can cause havoc with those plans. A credible threat of destruction if they continue in spite of the first stike could be the gaurantee that they will not attempt to keep on.

Also, if you will read my other posts on the subject, you will see that I would count on the Iranian people for one thing. That they would finally revolt, if they are ever going to, when they realize that their crazy mullahs have led them into a situation where they are at risk of a nuclear attack. I would hope anyway, that then the mullahs would cease to be something that can be endured and become unendurable at last.

So please get this clear. I am arguing for a third option that is just as rapid in response as is necessary. I am just against an invasion.

Sorry about the multi-posts. The first 2 were previews! Got failure messages, too.

AM,

The under-25 aka cannon-fodder rural youth you mention come with certain liabilities. The mullahs have used those as their shock troops often enough, notably in the Iraq war, that even those guys have learned a bit. Second, they are potentially dangerous to the mullahs once armed, which is why the mullahs are switching their reliance to Shiite Arabs from Iraq and Lebanon (Hezbollah) for internal security work.

When the Baseji aren't deemed sufficiently reliable anymore, the mullahs got problems.

I'm not saying that the under-25's won't be a problem for us, but rather that this won't become a significant issue until after our invasion has overthrown the mullah regime. At that point the mullahs' stay-behind teams will start organizing the cannon-fodder. Then it will become a major problem. See my response No. 132 to Bob.

Iran's own Shiite Arabs are arguably their biggest security threat at the moment. Their area is turning into a "no-go" zone for the mullahs. I suspect our Special Forces are involved in that.

Iraq's Shiites will be a problem in the British zone of occupation, but not in Iran. The domestic political issues of Britain's Labor government have forced wholly incompetent policies on the British occupation forces.

Critical supply lines to the rest of Iraq run through the British zone, so IMO we won't be able to initiate a significant ground invasion of Iran until we have suppressed the Iranian-controlled Shiite militias in the British zone, some of which will move into our occupation zone. This is another reason why I am so dubious about the rosy projections of the Atlantic Monthly panel.

Iran's security problems in its Shiite Arab southwest province are such that I doubt that Shiite Arabs from Iraq will be able to operate there safely.

There's no evidence Iran even has a nuclear weapons program, though given all the sabre-rattling from the U.S. and Israel I wouldn't blame them for thinking about it. If you really want to get the nukes out of the Middle East then put the screws to ISRAEL. Israel is a hostile foreign occupier, an aggressor state and a nuclear scofflaw already secretly in possession of nukes and other WMDs which pose a grave danger to all their neighbors and the world at large.

Iran, by contrast, is not a foreign occupier and there's no evidence that its nuclear program is anything but peaceful. Unlike the nuclear outlaw state of Israel, Iran is a signatory to the Non-proliferation Treaty and allows its nuclear facilities to be fully inspected. So far, the inspections have not found anything amiss.

If you really want peace in the Middle East then bring Israel to heel.

Tom,

One thing that seems to be underconsidered, unless I missed it in the large number of posts, is what would become of any nukes the Iranians might already posses should we invade them. We could hardly count on the mullahs to go quietly into that good night while the noose tightens around Tehran could we? Mightent Tel Aviv, Baghdad, a large troop concentration or maybe New York city via freighter be the recipient of one or more of any NK nukes they might have acquired? Saying there would be three thousand casulties should we invade kind of assumes that if they do have some nuclear weapons they're just going to sit on them until we show up and put them under lock and key doesn't it?

Larry Said:

What about uranium? That seems to be the (public) question. Do they have it? I'm not trying to be difficult. Guess I just need things spelled out for me.

Tom Holsinger spelled it out for all of us where the Iranians are getting the uranium from in his piece here:

Iran has dramatically shortened the time required to acquire the necessary weapons-grade fissionable materials by purchase abroad of pre-enriched, but not yet weapons-grade, fissionable materials (not just from North Korea). Irans technicians already have the expertise to fabricate functional nuclear weapons. The latter opinion is held by, among others, Mohamed El Baradei, director-general of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, who said that Iran can produce nuclear weapons in a few months if it has the requisite weapons-grade fissionables: "And if they have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponization program along the way, they are really not very fara few monthsfrom a weapon."

It normally takes years to produce the highly purified fissionables required for nuclear weapons that is the only obstacle after Pakistan let its nuclear weapons program director sell the knowledge of weapons fabrication to anyone with enough money. All estimates alleging that it will take Iran years to produce nuclear weapons assume that they will do so from scratch, but that is not the case. Iran purchased pre-enriched fissionables with the intent of breaking out in a short period to a fully stocked production pipeline of fissionables under enrichment at all stages of the process, from yellowcake at the low end to almost ready at the high end.

In short, they have the uranium now. They got it the old fashioned way. They bought it.

Peggy,

I said you should stick around here a while to obtain the experience required to determine whether to trust me, and for the moment to consider the possibility that I might know what I am talking about.

If you read things hastily, you will often get the wrong impression. Put up posts based on those wrong impressions often enough, and others may form an opinion of you.

Larry - # 156,

4-6 was the last you heard. Furthermore I said I was not certain whether Iran has purchased weapons-grade fissionables alone plus some critical components, or complete fissionable triggers (there is more to nuclear weapons than the trigger), or ready-to-use nuclear weapons.

IMO Iran, whichever of these is true, has several working nuclear weapons. I hope I'm wrong, but we can't take that chance at this point and must plan based on an assumption that Iran has nukes.

In addition to the delivery system issue (my major hope that they don't have the ability yet to make an EMP attack on us), we can only hope those are North Korean knock-offs of Soviet designs. IMO NK and Iran are using Chinese designs, though probably with Pakistani modifications.

A lot can be done with public record information. When I was a college freshman in the spring of 1968, I predicted the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, its reasons & timing, the timing and sequence of publically known events to occur over the summer indicating that it was coming, and even a reasonably close OB. That was one of the reasons someone from Virginia visited me my senior year (naturally he knew my father well).

An article containing information from a group opposed to the regime, stating that Iran is planning a nuclear weapon test by March.

UPI

Barney - # 176:

That is why I am talking speed here. Anything less than invasion increases their chances of getting nukes off at us.

And the major nightmare is a multiple-burst high-altitude EMP attack over the U.S. The cost of that to us - several million Americans dead (me included - I am dependent on medication), the economy wrecked, and the American people demanding immediate genocidal nuclear attack on many Arab states plus probably Pakistan with probable hundreds of millions of dead - is such that any lesser price is preferable.

So we have to go now and count on the USAF coming through with CONPLAN 8022.
"The tradeoffs between the cost of an extended occupation in Iran, and its desirability, change dramatically if we must search for easily concealed, ready-to-use nuclear weapons, as opposed to merely destroying the physical ability to produce them."

Christine,

Thank you very much. Note the timing of this in relation to Chirac's speech. The UPI article says the Iranian missile launchers were orded on January 16 to stay mobile, while Chirac's speech threatening nuclear retaliation was made on either January 18 or January 19.

Everyone, here's the UPI article Christine linked. Compare it to the paragraph after that with the timing scenario from my article above.
"Tehran plans nuclear weapon test by March

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Tehran is planning a nuclear weapons test before the Iranian New Year on March 20, 2006 says a group opposed to the regime in Tehran.

The Foundation for Democracy citing sources in the U.S and Iran offered no further information.

The FDI quotes sources in Iran that the high command of the Revolutionary Guards Air Force have issued new orders to Shahab-3 missile units, ordering them to move mobile missile launchers every 24 hours in view of a potential pre-emptive strike by the U.S. or Israel. The order was issued Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The group says the launchers move only at night, and have been instructed to change their positions "in a radius of 30 to 35 kilometers." Prior to the new orders the Shahab-3 units changed position on a weekly basis. Advance Shahab-3 units have been positioned in Kermanshah and Hamadan province, within striking distance of Israel. Reserve mobile launchers have been moved to Esfahan and Fars province."
My article's prediction:
"It is possible, and in my opinion has already happened, that Iran has purchased enough nuclear materials from North Korea to fabricate a few nuclear weapons and facilitate the following strategy. Iran could minimize the duration of a window of vulnerability to pre-emptive American or Israeli attack between their first nuclear tests (or announcement that they have nuclear weapons), and possession of enough nukes to deter attack, by postponing the announcement and/or first tests until they have a full-speed production line going everything from enriching fissionables to weapons-grade and fabricating those into nuclear weapons, to stocks of finished nuclear weapons. At that point most or all of the latter will likely be of North Korean origin, but those will be quickly outnumbered by made-in-Iran ones under final assembly at the time of the announcement. I believe this is the plan Iran is following, and that the announcement will come late this year."
It may be that I underestimated the time we have before the mullahs officially go nuclear.

Wouldn't it be more likely that Iran would use nukes to bomb the Saudi oil fields? Similar to a high altitude EMP attack, but spread out over decades.

Patrick said in #170

There's no evidence Iran even has a nuclear weapons program, though given all the sabre-rattling from the U.S. and Israel I wouldn't blame them for thinking about it.

I take it you haven't bothered to read Tom's post or any of the comments.

To reitereate what Tom posted and I reported in the comments ection

Irans technicians already have the expertise to fabricate functional nuclear weapons. The latter opinion is held by, among others, Mohamed El Baradei, director-general of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, who said that Iran can produce nuclear weapons in a few months if it has the requisite weapons-grade fissionables: "And if they have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponization program along the way, they are really not very fara few monthsfrom a weapon."

Interesting Post! I DO NOT agree with Holsinger's obvious anti-Bush bias, but I have some reason not to since I have returned from my second tour in Iraq.

Iran... yes, they aredangerous, but NOT yet for American cities. They are more dangerous for their neighbors.

Tom,

I do not doubt that you are a well informed, well educated and intelligent person. I also do not doubt that you believe strongly in your analysis. But any analysis, no matter how well informed is just another guess just another opinion. I have have come to take even VDH with a grain of salt or whoever it is that is always saying faster please. Just about everyone who has published opinions on Iran tend to be proven wrong. I know they know a lot more than me. I know that you know a lot more than me. But I have eyes. I see how often things do not pan out the way the experts say they will.

My disagreement is not a question of your judegment or anything else personal. I am going on experience here. My gut tells me stay the hell out of Iran and bomb 'em into submission. I figure I have just as much odds of being right as anyone.

BTW I have been around this forum for a while, though I tend not to post unless I get real passionate about something as you can well see.

PS What I still dont know is why you are so against an aerial intervention to do the job. Could you please directly address why our air power paired with a resolute threat of a limited nuclear strike could not do the job? Why do you think that the mullahs would stay in power once we bombed Iran's unhidden assets and once the people realize that taking them out is a matter of survival vs destruction?

If every armchair-warrior signs up to actually fight, then MAYBE it's a feasible option. Even then, I have my doubts.

Patrick (#170):

Read my post, Options on Iran (kindly linked by Joe in his post today). There are links confirming the credibility of an Iranian nuclear weapons development program beyond reasonable doubt there from credible sources.

Not metaphysical certitude, however, if that's what you require.

We can't just dismiss the program out-of-hand or presume it's years away and kick the can down the road.

This is completely insane. I keep wondering who kidnapped the GOP membership.

The author doesn't even address the consequences in places like Pakistan, Jordon, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt -- hell, Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey will probably erupt as well./

There are 1.6 billion Muslims! WE can't kill them all!

We are embroiled in this because of a few million disaffected Jews who want Palestine to themselves.

This is insanity.

The Islamophobes who crafted this strategy exploit Red State racism and redirect it toward Arabs.

check the stats on jewish war dead - there aren't any but for the 'contractors' in Iraq.

Wake up wake up! This is not Americas WAR!!

Oh, and BTW, FWIW Gen. Wesley Clark believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. I heard him say as much in an interview the other day.

karen -

I know of 3,000 Americans (New Yorkers and resident of the District of Columbia) who might disagree with you, if they were alive.

And you've got to be kidding me re Jewish war dead.

And yes, we can kill 1.6 billion Muslims. I'm trying hard to see that it doesn't happen, and have been saying so for a long time.

A.L.

With enemies like Karen Ladik, Tom, who needs friends?

karen ladik said:

There are 1.6 billion Muslims! WE can't kill them all!

The problem, Ms. Ladik, is that the existance of nuclear weapons does make it possible.

Difficult, but possible.

The question at hand is will events make it necessary.

I pray to God that it is not, but the choice is not in my hands.

check the stats on jewish war dead - there aren't any but for the 'contractors' in Iraq.

Ah, so you are ignorant as well as an anti-semitic bigot.

To bad.

It is convenient that the anti-semites are so good at telegraphing their presence.

Great stuff here. We need a wargaming co. to translate all this into a Game and let us play it for a month or two. Or better yet, let our Generals in the Puzzle Palace play it.

Everybody has good ideas and a good idea of the problems. Like one or two said, this should all be happening several years ago. It would not be near as complex with anything like the possibility of nukes already being in Iran's hands.

I look at this way.

Wait, Try and threaten them, endure the unknown with unknown results, hoping the moderates and sane people will take over Iran. They will still want the bomb btw. Dangerous choice,but unknown results.

Bomb, stop and let them decide if they want to pay more or play by our rules. Unknown results.

Bomb, invade and occupy. We all know this is the worse choice. But really the only way to have the months, years to dig out all of the people and materials that have been built, purchased and hidden in the last 15 years or so. Very Dangerous choice. Big job, but a better chance of finding everything. Still unknown results.

Bomb, invade and only stay a few months, until we can find and destroy most of what they have. Then leave (no rebuilding). Unknown results.

Bomb, American Troops invade, leave after a couple of months. Let NATO troops take over and international bodies handle the destruction of war materials. Offer rebuilding for cooperation.
Dangerous, unknown results.

Most everyone is agreed that any of these actions will most likely increase terroist activity against the Infidels. Well, they want to kill us anyway, maybe this will give us the chance to kill them too. Dangerous choice, unknown results.

By the way, It has appeared that Americans have become woosies. The American Military and other countries military, are what they are. Military.
Military personel die in wars. We are going to be at war a long, long time.

Get used to it.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Instapundit has a exceptionally informative interview of Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay right here:

http://instapundit.com/archives/028141.php

Jim feels the Iranian weaponization process is nowhere near far enough to produce a missile-ready warhead. He and Austin Bay agree the most likely means of delivering the nuclear devices the mullahs are capable of building are in container cargo, ships used as suicide bombs, and passenger aircraft used as suicide bombs (most likely flying out of Africa where schedules often don't exist).

Which means our invading troops would be safe save from nuclear "mines", and that the EMP threat to the U.S. is small. Provided Jim's sources are correct.

Public Iranian possession of nuclear devices, even of such big and clumsy ones as Jim described, would still bring about the speedy massive proliferation I described in my article.

Jim and Austin also said a great deal about Iranian politics which is worth listening to all by itself.

So by all means, go to that URL and listen to the MP3 of the interview. I hope Glenn Reynolds does more of them.

"Whats worse is that after years of such predictions as this, the Iranians go ahead and elect the kook thats in office now. This also runs absolutely contrary to all predictions that Iran was becoming more moderate through the democratic process. The truth is that we dont know half as much as we think we do about Iran."

Peggy, with all due respect, you are a bit information deprived. It seems that you might be projecting a tad when you speak of not knowing "half as much" about Iran.

Mr. AhKKKmedniJihad was hardly "elected," in the Western sense, by the Iranian people. Thousands of reform minded candidates were disqualified from the Persian ballot by the Mullah's "Guardian Council." The remainders were the looniest of the loons - and the "elections" were pretty much a choice between a Stalin here and a Beria there.

Some 30% of Iran bothered to turn out choose between Crackpot A and Crackpot B. Hardly an indicator of the Iranian mind of things.

That you give the inevitable result any creedence at all, well, there are therapies for such things.

BTW, I am not a proponent of invasion. Nor am I an antagonist.

But your analysis sheds no light, because it is, well, so ill informed.

Tom, Trent, Jim and Austin ... feels like I'm back on GEnie Military forum in 1990.

"The Democrats and the Left would crucify the President and tear the country apart if he tries."

And that is different from today how?

(Well, let's wait till after the midterms anyway. If we can afford to.)

Patrick: "Israel is a hostile foreign occupier, an aggressor state and a nuclear scofflaw already secretly in possession of nukes and other WMDs which pose a grave danger to all their neighbors and the world at large."

Hostile foreign occupier of land they took when they were attacked. BTW, whose land is it? I assume you know there is no such nation as Palestine, nor do they Palis have legitimate claim to what your ilk call Palestine. Not too dadgum secret if we all know they have nukes. Pull your dress down, Patrick. Your anti-semite slip is showing.

Thanks all for (mostly) well-informed or at least thoughtful commentary. I'll shut my pie hole now.

Well Tom... Let's see. You sure do write in a persuasive manner. I'm sure you're quite intelligent.

But you base all this tripe on an article in the Atlantic Monthly Journal that you could not have misread any more badly if you tried.

Your claim of "Democratic military experts" saying that Iran can be invaded in 50 days is false. That was simply Sam Gardiner, a retired AF colonel who specializes in making up war game sims postulating this option as his ROLE as a CENTCOM general. It was summarily debunked:

--"Gardiner remained at the podium to answer questions as the CentCom commander, and the discussion began. The panelists skipped immediately to the regime-change option(Mr. Holsinger's silver bullet plan), and about it there was unanimity: the plan had been modeled carefully on the real assault on Iraq, and all five advisers were appalled by it.

"You need to take this back to Tampa," David Kay said, to open the discussion. Tampa, of course, is the headquarters for CentCom units operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Or put it someplace else I'd suggest, but we're in public." What was remarkable about the briefing, he said, was all the charts that were not there. "What were the countermoves?" he asked. "The military countermovesnot the political ones you offloaded to my Secretaries of State but the obvious military countermoves that the Iranians have? A very easy military counter is to raise the cost of your military operation inside Iraq. Are you prepared to do that?"

The deeper problem, Kay said, lay with the request for money to "keep options open." "That, quite frankly, is a bunch of bullshit," he said. "Approval of the further planning process forecloses a number of options immediately. I would love to see a strategic communications plan that would allow us to continue diplomatic and other options immediately with our European allies when this leaks; inevitably this will leak."

The next twenty minutes of discussion was to the same effect. Who, exactly, would succeed the mullahs in command? How on earth would U.S. troops get out as quickly as they had come in? "Speaking as the President's chief of staff, I think you are doing the President an enormous disservice," Kenneth Bacon said. "One, it will leak. Two, it will be politically and diplomatically disastrous when it leaks I think your invasion plan is a dangerous plan even to have on the table in the position of being leaked I would throw it in Tampa Bay and hope the sharks would eat it."

"This is a paranoid regime," Kenneth Pollack said of Iran. "Even if the development of the Caucasus airfields even if it weren't about them, they would assume it was about them. So that in and of itself will likely provoke a response. The Iranians are not inert targets! If they started to think we were moving in the direction of a military move against them, they would start fighting us right away."...

Even the hardest-liner, Reuel Gerecht, was critical. "I would agree that our problems with the Islamic republic will not be over until the regime is changed," he said. If the United States could launch a genuine surprise attacksuddenly, from aircraft carriers, rather than after a months-long buildup of surrounding airfieldshe would look at it favorably. But on practical grounds, he said, "I would vote against the regime-change options displayed here."

Further unhappy back-and-forth ensued, with the CentCom commander defending the importance of keeping all options open, and the principals warning of trouble when news of the plan got out."--

OK, Holsinger? Did you get all that? Mr. Gardiner is PLAYING his ROLE as a Centcom commander in this simulation to promote an invasion option. And even the resident neocon ex-CIA blowhard from AEI, Marc Reuel Gerecht, is against it.

Geez! 193 posts and no one actually read the warsim article?... Or understood that it ACTUALLY debunks Mr Holsinger's kooky escapade?

So... your kooky 20...40...60 day warplan has no real military expert backing to mention. Does it? I mean, it's not as if you're claiming to be one.. is it? Oh boy.

So what are we down to? Your worst option, according to "exspurt" Holsinger, simple bombing campaign. Unless you're still gung ho for invasion staging while Iran is bring holy hell down around your ears in Iraq and Persian Gulf.

Multiply your est KIA x10 then x2(Iran and Iraq). Mr Expert. Then rethink how urgent this all is.

First see how far the UN will take us, but move quickly.
Then blockade. Iran imports a large % of their gasoline, strange to say.
Remove Assad in Syria, he is clearly one of their allies and supports. He allows them to threaten Israel using Hezbola and thus provide a distracting crisis whenever needed.
Buy off Russia.
Tell China to butt out.
Hope that the Germans and French don't stab us in the back again.
Squeeze hard.
Terrorism is the Iranian answer, using Hezbola agents even in the US. But this is better than nukes. If they do respond we respond by targetting all their nuke facilities.

You are doing everything to separate the Mullas from the voters in Iran, and reduce their power before going after the nukes.
Give the UN one last chance.
If no result,
Try to capture the Al Qaeda ledership that is hiding in Iran. Including Bin Ladins son.
And Peel off the Arab areas, which also contain a large part of the oil production.
Oil will be at $100/barrel, but the West will be taking this all seriously and the major economic impacts will already have happened, and to an extent been delt with.
I assume that this was what the recent Iranian trip to Venezuela and Chavez was all about, making a blockade more costly.

If more is needed,
Clear the points of leverage, of Iranian weapons (silkworm anti-ship missiles), like the area around the straits of Hormuse and the Beka Valley.
Eliminate the Iranian airforce and navy (that has been pretty much done once before.
Terror and army ground power will be all that Iran has left.

Then go after the nukes and the leadership.
If the government has not changed.
Ignore everything but the nukes and leadership.
It they want to fight fight, otherwise ignore.

Assess nuke situation. Repeat as necessary.
Get oil flowing to keep China happy.

Notice no radioactive glass, no mass killing of civilians. That always seems stupid, when mass killing seems to sometimes to be just what the Mulla's want. They seem to draw power from the deaths of their countrymen.

It may well be that Iran will back down at some point. They have seen no real resistance to their terror attacks so far, this would mark a change. But if not we go for the leadership and the nukes. It is the best we can do.

ok then what would be the casualties when iran gets nuclear capabilities and some loon decides to use it then what!?

Let me guess???

bush blew it and should have done something.

you think iran has leverage now conserning oil and US intrest. wait till they get nuclear power.

know this quote

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it"

With Iraq There were some questions about if we should have a regime change.

With Iran there is little doubt what their intensions are. We know for A fact that they want Nuclear power and it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks. Their intensions are to use it as a way to get what they want from the USA and the rest of the Western World.

Then throw Isreal into the mix and it really becomes quite a pickel, caught between a rock and a hard place.

People who say it's not our war, let me remind you of someone called hitler and you know what happened because we waited to long to do something. It became a very costly mistake and I am talking about the loss of life.

Longer we wait, and I am talking about months and years, the body count will jump exponentialy along with what is at stake as well.

You'll go from the prospects of iran wanting nuclear power to having it and possibly using it on our troops and isreal or selling it to terroists.

We are not dealing with rational people here.

there is a reason why no one has used nuclear weapons in actual combat and it is what they will do to the environmnet.

You take into account the way they think and you really have to doubt wheather or not they will show the same restraint.

The way they see it is, if alla allows it then it was his will.

I don't know about anyone else, but that is a scary scenareo.

Great article. Let's do it. Herding all the Yellow Elephants who thought Invading Iraq was the answer to Osama Bin Laden, and all the other neo-cons and their sons and daughters, and everyone else who wants to invade Iran--go right ahead in.

When the dust clears, the rest of us can enjoy America's return to peace and prosperity.

Medi # 197:

Look at my #169:
"Iraq's Shiites will be a problem in the British zone of occupation, but not in Iran. The domestic political issues of Britain's Labor government have forced wholly incompetent policies on the British occupation forces. Critical supply lines to the rest of Iraq run through the British zone, so IMO we won't be able to initiate a significant ground invasion of Iran until we have suppressed the Iranian-controlled Shiite militias in the British zone, some of which will move into our occupation zone. This is another reason why I am so dubious about the rosy projections of the Atlantic Monthly panel."

AFAIK, that is the only part of the Atlantic article attacking Gardiner's timing predictions. I went after it more, notably on logistic grounds as I have some knowledge concerning the terrain and transportation infrastructure along the likely routes for a US invasion. I am unfamiliar with current ground force logistic requirements, but those haven't decreased since 1980 when my knowledge was current.

Otherwise the Atlantic panelists attacked Gardiner's plan on other grounds, and I mentioned the lead one - the force requirement for extended occupation.

And note that I favor a "come as you are" attack, from a standing start, to maximize surprise.

You might try reading the comments here.

Your knowledge of military casualty projections is non-existent. I suggest you read Jim Dunnigan's How to Make War - that alone will do wonders for you in these matters.

I see the polemic echo chamber of Holsinger-Telenko is full swing here. Has anyone proven beyond a doubt that they are really two separate people?

Who's going to crush the rebellion in Basra? Not the Brits, they've handed the place over in exchange for relative safety.

The ground logistics have decreased for ground forces. They are now mainly in the Reserves or belong to Haliburton. Getting the support troops in place will shoot any pretense of secrecy in the butt.

The military invasion will not be quick because it will not be secret and it will turn putative supporters against us. Echoes of placing the Shah in power for BP's interests still ring, Tom-Trent.

I say bomb the facilities, increase support..._openly_...for the pro-democracy forces (you know, the ones who's fathers we helped SAVAK kill) and admit Israel into NATO.

Now it may be that Ahmadinejad seeks to create a dire situation for Iran specifically to bring the coming of the 12th Imam. Why else the blatant statements of nuclear aggression by him? In which case he will have other options at hand to cause an Endworld type situation. Invasion just plays into his hand then.

Your case starts with fear of Iranian Q-Ships secretly approaching the coast of the US and bombing it and ends with rejection of the concept that the leaders of Iran, theocratic nutbars that they are, are incapable of long term stategery. Both of which are reason enough to look at your essay with a wary eye.

Very interesting; hopeful, even, in a scary sort of way. I've written (under another name) that Iran is our enemy (as will Pakistan be once Pervez is gone); that Bush & Co. made a mistake of world-historic dimensions by invading Iraq, a harmless (to us) state of no particular consequence apart from oil. Even more, with Saddam we had a possible ally (we've had worse: Stalin). But for whatever weird, nutty reason, Bush decided to squander our very limited military might on a useless and doomed venture, leaving our biggest enemy, Iran, a free, even emboldened hand as the regional power. Could we invade? I'm not a military analyst, so I don't know, but the arguments presented here and in the Atlantic Monthly seem cogent enough. So, we could. But we won't. Basically, Bush shot his wad in Iraq and doesn't have it anymore. Whatever weird, quasi-religious promise he thought he had from God hasn't panned out. Iraq has left us weak, isolated, and in a much much worse diplomatic position; much worse than I think anyone could have ever imagined.

"AFAIK, that is the only part of the Atlantic article attacking Gardiner's timing predictions. I went after it more, notably on logistic grounds as I have some knowledge concerning the terrain and transportation infrastructure along the likely routes for a US invasion. I am unfamiliar with current ground force logistic requirements, but those haven't decreased since 1980 when my knowledge was current." Holsinger

Well you're obviously unfamiliar with the article you so highly tout as backing this foolish adventure. Again, PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE.

They, to a man, agree the biggest problem is that the Iranians, being ultra-jumpy, will take any detected movements as a marker for war. Not your tertiary concern of Iraqi Shi'a becoming troublesome. PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE. Or at least he relevant section I posted.

Your initial estimates on the order of battle are now immediately invalid. You will be invading under heavy fire, pre-emptive fire, and shi'a insurgency in Iraq. They will take the initiative on the slightest pretext. Even clearing U.S. warships out of the Persian Gulf to avoid being sunk by the thousands of ASMs lining the Iranian coast might be taken as a signal for war.

You make the mistake that the panelists point out in the invasion plan. A failure to assess the Iranian options truthfully. They are not static, stupid, or passive. Your casualty estimates are out of whack.

Again multiply your laughable estimates x10 ×2 and then decide whether the U.S. can accept a nuclear Iran.

And that's not even taking into account that they may have weaponized nukes that they will use in the face of existential defeat.

I find your types of websites to be amusing. It's interesting to read how delusional wanna-be mass murderers think. Does the propect of 1 million dead Iranians even make you blink? Does it even flash across a few synapses that illegally and amorally attacking people makes them want to strike back? If my country was attacked and demolished by an aggressor, it would drive me to join any effort to strike back in the ultimate terms.

I never lost a fight I didn't start. The moral equation is prime in whether you can attack and get away with it.

MediHutt # 206,

You are not thinking. If the mullahs pre-empt us, it's a causus belli letting us do whatever we want. Their hitting us first, especially if our buildup is secret, would be sucidal - it would mute the Europeans and Democrats.

We win if it is straight force. Now if you believe we can't beat the mullahs in a straight up fight, please say so now so we can ignore everything else you say.

It doesn't matter if we kick the mullahs out in two weeks or twenty as long as we do it.

They can stall our invasion in its tracks by setting off their wholly owned Shiite militias in the British zone a day after we go in - that would put revolt right on our supply lines into Iraq as well as Iran, and require that our forces stop, or about face, until we control that LOS again.

The mullahs don't need to set those guys off in advance, as long as they set it up in advance. And they have.

I'm sure they have other things planned for The Day, but pre-empting us is something we can only hope the mullahs do.

Because they're not that dumb.

You evidently are.

Their hitting us first, especially if our buildup is secret, would be sucidal - it would mute the Europeans and Democrats.

Build up another 200,000 in secret? The four W's want to know. Who, what, when, where? I'm boggled...you can't be serious, can you?

It is nice to know that you now see the situation in Basra a little clearer. Yet you still haven't addressed the issue of how an American invasion is going to really play to the Iranian masses.

Lysenko,

We'll free Iran. President Bush would make a televised speech to the Iranian people, carried on the satellite television stations in Los Angeles they love so much (I really like the mullah infilitrator sent to Hollywood who keeps inventing excuses why his bosses in Tehran should let him stay) saying:

"You will be free."

Freedom means a lot.

Now if you think the Iranian people love the mullahs, please say so.

Now if you think the Iranian people love the mullahs, please say so.

Now that's a very poor rhetorical device. I think its been banned in quite a few schoolyards as has its Big Brother "Have you stopped beating your wife?".

Why do you and Trent seem so fond of it? Perhaps because it is an easy crutch with which to club those you disagree with?

I think that a good percentage of the Iranian People do love the mullahs, a sizeable percentage hate them and the rest, like the rest of humanity, don't give a crap as long as they are left alone. The trick is not to piss off the 60-70% of the population that fall into the latter two positions.

Which I think your invasion will do. Iran isn't like Occupied France.

Well, at least we're making progress. You no longer claim the AMJ article as friendly territory.

And of course the U.S. could defeat Iran but your COSTS are way off. They would pre-empt any build up leading to a bloody protracted ground war. And they would have the moral high ground on that score.

And they're still not going to fight you straight up. They'll open up the Iraqis. Shut down the Straits. Maybe launch their few nukes(I would at that point). When your forces finally do get into Iranian territory, it'll be guerilla all the way to Tehran with weapons that can take on the armor.

How about targeting Israel's Dimona plant with Shahab-3s or possibly even more accurate X-55 cruise missiles? How about opening up all the terror sleeper cells in the U.S., possibly with WMD?(I would.) Combined with $200/bbl oil, that would plunge us right into Great Depression 2.

Do any of these highly probable costs make to your bottom line calculator? Then what?

And to horn in on another conversation.

Of course they hate the mullahs... but they hate you worse. Just like Saddam.

Dr. Lysenko's last comment strikes me as a reasonable position, and the line re: "do you think the Iranian people love the mullahs" struck me as a crude and irrelevant rhetorical club too.

Iraq has shown that this stuff is difficult to exactly predict, and treading stuff from the folks on the ground paints a picture of many overlapping motivations at work among those participating in Islamist death squad activities (note that I didn't say "members of" - a guy paid or threatened to conduct an IED attack counts too).

I personnally suspect the "love the mullahs" percentage in Iran below 15%, the "hate them" percentage is pretty big, and the middle is much smaller than 60-70%. That may not get you anywhere, however, because a dictatorship prepared to use force to prevent revolution requires people to go beyond "hate them" into "will risk one's life to be free" (however that is defined by the revolutionary group).

Iraq has, ironically, had a lot of that process happen AFTER major hostilities ended. And I am referring to the Iraqi army and police here, not the terrorists.

That's a jump rather fewer Iranians seem interested in, however, nor do the pre-revolutionary conditions look good in the short term. That may be changeable, but we'd have to see concrete effort and concrete progress to believe it.

I'll add that with US troops on the ground, the love-hate-act dynamics in Iran would shift into other gradations, as we've seen in Iraq. Some of which will be hostile to varying degrees. Trying to predict all that in advance is chancy at best.

I personally believe any invasion will play poorly with a notable segment of Iran society, not even close to a majority but more than enough to fuel an insurgency backed by more money, quiet support in enough of the populace to conceal them, and a larger, more professional cadre than we have in Iraq. They'd be working in a larger population, over a larger area, with poorer supply lines for the Americans. I believe that this would materialize in a broader base than just the former elements of the fascist regime within a couple months of an American presence, once the shock factor wears off.

But you'd see something that sort of looked like it in the early days, too. I'd expect terrorists and regime crazies in Iran to press-gang many Iranians with threats to their families and order them to play terrorist cannon fodder roles, thus widening their reach. Wouldn't change much going in, but those people would then be used as recruitment examples for others (possibly even on nationalist rather than religious grounds), and their families (who were on the edge of poverty to begin with, in many cases) would have it made clear to them that supporting this line would be the price of financial aid that would keep them going. It's a transmission belt they've honed excellently in Israel, run by many of the same people in the background, and I expect it would be employed again.

My overall point: do not minimize what would be required to pull off a long term presence in Iran. you may argue that it's necessary, but be very candid re: what the "it" actually is.

Tom...

Meanwhile, your comments in #176 re: the existence of ready-to-go, concealable nukes changing the dynamics re: occupation are sort of true.

Sort of true in that if they really are fairly concealable, it's reasonable to assume that they can be smuggled out within 2 months or so anyway. So the utility of occupation, if that's the justification for it, dwindles in sharp inverse propotion to time anyway.

In fact, Iran already has nukes of this nature, then any attack on Iran must assume retaliatory nuclear terrorist attempts aimed at the USA some time afterward - and no length of presence or existence of presence would change that unless you [a] were sure how many there were, and [b] were sure you had got them all.

In effect, if we believe Iran has nukes, then the only possible response following an invasion and anything less than 100% success recoving the suspected nukes (note: even if they didn't in fact exist) would be almost the same measures you discuss for commercial shipping et. al. following an actual nuclear attack in the USA. Things grind to a halt in the immediate term, everything inspected offshore, long "lines" to do that, container tagging and tracking standards radically changed, etc. With corresponding economic effects as you describe.

Again, one may still argue that this is necessary anyway. And one may still argue about whether the political will is there.

But the cost of what is proposed must be faced honestly.

Joe K: I believe a comment of mine for this post was caught in the spam filter a couple of days ago. If you could liberate it I'd be very happy. Thanks.

Lysenko,

It's called elections. We KNOW how unpopular the mullahs are. They have the support of about 20% of the population. Most hate them. The mullahs gave up on free elections because they lost the last one 80% to 20%.

So it is more like Iraq. About 20-30% love us, about 20% hate us, and about 50-60% will like us as long as we do the hard work of getting them rid of the mullahhs.

Anyone who says the Iranian people like the mullahs is a fool.

MDH,

You know nothing of war. Conquering Iran won't be difficult once we put down the militias British incompetence let them set up in the British zone. It's just a question of logistics in getting across the Zagros Mountains. Minor opposition there can hold things up a fair amount.

Recent history shows how effective American ground forces are, and how ineffective third world ground forces are. They have no chance whatever in stand-up fighting. It will be wholesale slaughter for the duration of the conquest campaign, and that will be quick. We've seen that before and we'll see it again.

It will take the mullahs' die-hards a while to get organized after the conquest campaign. This is not something which can be turned on like a flashlight - it takes them a while to set up once the conquest camapign is over. They have to become familiar with what starts as an unfamiliar environment immediately after American forces crush organized resistance. This means setting up secure communications, safe houses, training bases, etc.

Look at what happened in Iraq - the Baathists planned their insurgency in advance - they distributed & cached money, weapons and ammunition weeks and even months before we invaded, and it still took them months after organized resistance stopped before they got their insurgency rolling.

Once the mullahs die-hards have set up their insurgency, they'll give us unshirted hell for a few months until our intelligence types have gotten familiar with the human environment our occupation forces are operating in. Then things will stablize, start to swing our way, and then flip fast as the new Iranian government's security forces are trained and deployed.

At this point we know the drill so this process will go faster than in Iraq and, as I said, there are other factors for a shorter occupation campaign. But it will be nasty while it lasts.

The conquest campaign will be easy, other than the logistic issues. There is a fair chance that most of the real fighting will come in cleaning up the British occupation zone in Iraq.

When do we do something about the Norks who've been proliferating?

Joe,

Letting Iran's mullah regime openly hold nukes will create the worst case scenario for proliferation.

AND some of the mullahs' nukes will go to terrorists anyway when their regime goes down in a few years. Not all of them, but they'll have a lot more by then so a small proportion of the ones they have in 2010 will, in terms of absolute numbers, exceed the total they have now.

You want a rosy ending. Grow up. There aren't any here. Our only choices are between bad and worse.

We can do something effective now, at a high price, or do something ineffective (bomb Iran rather that freeing it) and pay a higher price, or do nothing and pay the highest price - loss of our freedom.

Damage control is not a good thing because you still take damage. But it's preferable to worse damage.

Write fairy tales if you want a happy ending. The rest of us live in the real world. This will hurt no matter what we do.

On you go, it would be interesting to say the least.

Bye Bye American empire.

Peggy,

I long ago started to suspect that the Iranian Mullahs are using this fabricated hope of a liberal revolution in Iran as a clever ruse to buy themselves time. That's not to say that the Iranians are not extremely vulnerable to a militarily ground attack. They are. I also believe that if the US makes it expensive enough for the Iranian Mullahs to pursue their current policy, they will break. And so will their political support. There's no need for a costly ground attack to achieve this. 85% of the Iranian economy consists of their oil and natural gas industry. You put that industry out of commission and you put the Mullahs out of commission.

Joe's assessment (#213) seems appropriate to me. One factor potentially distinguishing Iran from Iraq though is that in Iraq, the concentration of the hostile views was in one region of the country from which the insurgency could could count on degrees of support from active to passive. Other than possibly in Qod, it would appear more likely that Iran would not have such a concentrated base.

Tom (#218), the difficulty you're having reading, understanding, and engaging people's actual arguments here isn't reflecting well on you. Let me know when you wish to address what I actually wrote.

PD Shaw (#221), this is a valid point. Islamist support would be more diffuse in Iran, likely more about patchworks of neighbourhoods than whole regions. That could be a plus or a minus from an invader's point of view, depending on how it shook out. The one thing we do know is that the apparatus behind it would be far more sophisticated, better resourced, and better trained than Iraq's. That's objectively proven, in that the Iraqi Islamist death squads have seen a lot of their increased effectiveness come from adopting the tactics, methods, et. al. of Iran and its proxies under tutelage.

One should also expect differential support in the ethnic regions of Iran (Azeri, Kurd, Baluchi, et. al.). That, too, may be positive (less opposition in those areas, Iran breakup option) and/or negative (External tangles - e.g. Pakistan may demand US control of, say, the Balochis to prevent separation, lest their own go too; possibility of multiple ethnic-based insurgencies arising with their own set of motivations and goals; etc.)

Of course, all this becomes somewhat moot if the USA doesn't stick around for very long...

Joe,

I apologize I took offense at the last sentence of #213 - My overall point: do not minimize what would be required to pull off a long term presence in Iran. you may argue that it's necessary, but be very candid re: what the "it" actually is.

I gave an estimate of our casualties for both the occupation and conquest campaigns, using a broad but standard military methodology - casualties per x thousand men per time period. My comments afterwards showed I have some knowledge in this field.

It would have been proper to question my methodology, and to ask me to expand it for better understanding. But you didn't. Instead you implied to the non-professional audience here that I was blowing smoke. That was improper, but my response was intemperate.

The rest of your #213 focused on matters concerning our military casualties, which you seem to think is the real cost what the it actually is. If so, you have missed the real cost burnout of our reserves from overuse and their not re-enlisting. That and other issues might be the subject of another guest blog.

Furthermore you completely err in thinking that not invading Iran will somehow mean those military casualties wont be incurred. And, for that matter, the reserves will be burnt out anyway.

If we let the mullahs use Iran as a privileged sanctuary for terrorism, we lose the war on terror. The war in Iraq will go on and on and on. It won't end for as long as the enemy has Iran as a base. Our forces will be required there for as long as the mullahs rule Iran, and they'll take casualties the whole time. And the reserves will be deployed there the whole time.

And it won't just be in Iraq. The mullahs' terror state will try, and succeed to a significant extent, in destabilizing the entire region. So our force commitments will expand, and not merely stay the same. Taking casualties the while. With reserves called up the while.

Iran's mullah regime declared war on America more than twenty years ago. Usually it's been less war rather than more, but it's always been war for them, even though we haven't fought back.

Only with nukes they will act more openly. We'll have more war then.

Those who won't use their swords can still die upon the swords of others. We'll take more military casualties in the Middle East from not invading Iran than we will from invading it.

But we've already lost 3000 dead in a day from terror, and few of those had volunteered for military service. All of those prices combined will pale by comparison with ONE terrorist nuke detonated in the U.S.

And all of those plus the nuke will mean little compared to the loss of our freedom.

As for your comments about mullah die-hards, IMO they've got nothing compared to Iraq's Baathists. The latter had actual experience reconquering their country after Desert Storm (read Austin Bay's The Wrong Side of Brightness) and a lot more weapons, explosives and money cached in 2003 than the mullahs' idiots will. The Baathists had, and have, sanctuaries in Syria - friendly banks, friendly secret police and the lot.

Furthermore Iraqs Baathists had a unitary ethnic base the Sunni Arab minority, which in turn had a largely geographic base. That created critical inside the country sanctuaries for Baathist terrorism. I am not aware of Irans mullahs having a similar geographic base for their support. It does make a difference.

Now if you are familiar with Irans political demography, say so. We all can learn from you. But if you dont, what is the basis of your contention that the mullahs insurgency will have "a larger, more professional cadre than we [sic] have in Iraq."

My rough estimate of American casualties in the conquest and occupation campaigns for Iran, assuming that the mullahs don't nuke us, or use chemical weapons, is that we'd take about 50% more casualties in the first 18-24 months in Iran than in three years in Iraq, mostly in the twelve month period after the initial conquest.

That seems a bit pessimistic to me. I think we could probably effect regime change in a few months with casualties in the 400-600 range. Remember, Iran is a notriously pro-western middle eastern country and it is unlikely the population would fight to support the mullahs.

In any event, it's all pretty small potatos compared to the millions of Americans that would be killed by "suitcase nuclear bomb" which Iran is rumored to be developing. Better to fight them over there with conventional weapons than over here with nukes.

Let's see,
If Iran had the capability to destabilize Iraq it would have done so already. Basra is not going to pose a problem any more than it has so far. If Hizbullah starts an exchange with Israel, and the US does not hold Israel back, Hizbullah will be no more. If Iran sets off their terror cells in the US and Europe, I can easily foresee the US and Europe making good on Chirac's promise. Starving the Mullahs of cash and electricity should slow their weaponization program. It would also break the regime. The only unknown as far as I'm concerned is Iraqi oil production. Is Iraq's oil industry rehabilitated enough to compensate for shortages from Iran. I would expect an announcement regarding this issue shortly before bombing begins.

Mika, Iran has been a major player working to destabilize Iraq from the beginning. They have also worked to cause substantial trouble in Afghanistan. My article Iran's Great Game explains the whys and wherefores.

I believe that Iran has the potential to cause significantly more trouble in Iraq if its worries about Iraq's ethnic fragmentation (which would blow back into Iran's ethnicities became secondary. I do not believe, on the other hand, that Iran's control over Iraq's Shi'ite south is at anything near the level some (most notably "Professor" Juan Cole) believe.

Joe,
I have no doubt Iran has been trying very hard destabilize Iraq. I'm just pointing out that should they have had the capability to actually achieve that goal, they would have achieved it by now. They don't. And there's no reason to believe any future attempt by Iran to destabilize Iraq will encompass such a capability.

Just to add a bit to the remainder of the debate, Muqtada al-Sadr will throw his Mahdi Army in to support Iran if it is invaded.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060123/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_iraq_sadr

al-Sadr has backed off his militia in order to play politics. But make no mistake that the second we cross into Iran 10,000 men will be attacking our lines of supply. OTOH, this same force begins to wither if Iran becomes a democracy.

On the gripping hand Limbacher is saying that the US and Israel are planning a joint air strike. And this from the AP seems to support it:
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/1/21/215128.shtml?s=lh
Which would then push forward the destabilization to democracy agenda.

Marianna #224,

Casualties and killed are not the same. There are generally 7-8 American wounded for every fatality. My vague recollection is about 300 Allied killed in action during the conquest of Iraq. Iran is bigger, the invasion force would certainly be larger, and its conquest will take longer, so a rough estimate of at least 500 Americans killed is reasonable.

My estimate of 3000 KIA was a very rough one for the first two years, not just the conquest period, and was intended only to show that a close to worst case ballpark scenario, absent WMD use, is still reasonable. Trent Telenko had, in an earlier, thread, speculated on as many as 10,000 KIA in three years, so I crunched the numbers and came up with something plausible, then used it again for the post above.

Furthermore I suspect that some to much of the real fighting will take place in the British occupation zone in Iraq, as described above, and so be "off the books" as casualties in the Iran conquest campaign. Iran's mullahs have the not unreasonable attitude that the best place to have a war is in someone else's country.

Terrorist nukes are not likely to have a significant yield - probably no more than 4-10 kilotons. A reasonable estimate per incident (average for several scenarios) is about 40,000 - 50,000 dead, several times that number seriously injured, and many more than that moderately or lightly injured.

Mika 225,

Joe is right that Iran has been trying to destabilize Iraq from the moment its Baathist regime fled. They have generally been careful not to be overt about it. They certainly have contingency plans to do a lot more if necessary, which absolutely includes setting off a rebellion of Shiite militias in the British occupation zone. They've put considerable effort into that one.

Keep in mind that their first objective is staying in power. They risk both provoking us and eliminating effective American and European opposition to us invading them if they go too far. From my post # 207: "If the mullahs pre-empt us, it's a causus belli letting us do whatever we want. Their hitting us first, especially if our buildup is secret, would be sucidal - it would mute the Europeans and Democrats."

I suggest you check out StrategyPage.com once a week to stay in touch with events there. Here is what it recently said concerning the effect of sanctions:
"January 20, 2006: The government is playing hardball with the rest of the world over the issue of their nuclear weapons program. Attempts to impose economic sanctions, or military attack, on Iran would, the government now threatens, result in Iran withholding its oil. Iran is selling about $40 billion worth of oil a year. If Iran's oil were pulled from the market, the cost of oil would probably rise 20-50 percent. Iran believes this would hurt the rest of the world, than it would Iran (which would still have its unshipped oil). The rising price of oil over the last few years has enabled Iran to create a reserve of some $50 billion. Iran also knows that embargos don't work, and a determined government, especially if they have a lot of money, can find ways around it."

I don't Want to see any country go to war especially the USA.

At what point, (and I am talking to the people who are against regime change or invading and bombing iran), Will you agree, something Military has to be done??

I Understand That we should try every option first. Look at every aspect and work with other countries to resolve the Iran conflict about nukes.

I want you to refer back to my 2 statement and at least try to answer it With reasonable thinking.

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php#c200

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php#c201

Nobody Likes war, no one person except for terrorists would prefer war over piece.

Iran Will destroy Israel, and , It would have no hesitation selling enriched uranium
to terroists.


Terrorists!!, Who would love nothing more but to see the U.S.A. Fall from grace.

I just get the feeling that there is really no reason to ever justify war unless something like 9/11 happens again.

And what was their,(terrorists), Reason then for 9/11??!!

No matter what we do or how much we try to apease them they will always have an excuse to destroy the infadells.

In short they don't want us to exist.

What would you want or better yet how would you protect fellow Americans from the terroists.

You Critisise our President for the F.I.S.A., wire tapping.

I mean any Reasonable and rational thinking person would say we need to know what is going
between U.S.A. and Terrorists countries.
He has kept congress and the Intelligence commity informed. What do you people want!

I know Your arguement is going to be our freedom.
Well!, If the terrorists get their way well KISS YOUR FREEDOM GOOD BYE.

The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Washington Post, 9/11-2005

Could this be applicable to Iran at some point in the near future? I don't know if that option even exists, but would the use of small nukes against their weapons sites be effective?

This would in my view be the best option: quick, cheap, devastatingly effective as a deterrent. Maybe as a part of the bombing campaign ahead of an invasion? Would that be realistic?

All this talk about invading Iran is nothing more than an arm-chair general exercise. The reality is that the American public will NOT even consider the THOUGHT of such an invasion especially without the successful progress of the autonomy of Iraq and its respective military forces. This is not expected to happen in the near or immediate future. That's a hard cold fact of life. PERIOD Furthermore, congress will be very hesitant to authorize military force for such an invasion in an expedient fashion. To add more reality to this fantasy, the American public will REVOLT at such a notion of invasion if a natural disaster occurs, or the economy tanks in the US. If we were to invade Iran, we would be expect to rebuild it and we will have to pay for it in two ways: In budget deficits and in sky-rocketing gas prices. It is common knowledge that the public does not have the appetite for this. Oh I am afraid the cries of the neocons fall upon death ears. The hour grows late as their pitiful case sees its twilight.

Let's see what Bush says on Jan. 31, in his State of the Union Address.

I sampled a dozen comments about different plans you proposed for dealing with Iran. It looks like many people believe invasion or bombing is a good option. Well! I don't know who you are (a journalist? a politician?), but I also don't beleive that it is good (ethical?!) to suggest killing other people for solving this political dilema - even if only a few thousand would be killed as suggested by a reader (hey! how many people have been killed in your two towers?! More than a few thousands?!)
Before shooting me your answers, please read the followings:
1-I am an Iranian who hate Mullah, our president, and etc.
2-I am not sure whether Iran has any plan to build atomic bombs or not. If you know, please let me know. But please be more certain than your previous guess in Iraq before giving any answer. However, I think it is better to negotiate with the world in a better and safer way. IMO, the way Iran's government has dealt with this problem was incorrect.
3-I don't like Mullahs (mentioned before, yeah?), but I don't like invaders too. I have not killed a bug in my life (well! I used pif-paf a few times - a mass destruction weapon?), but I would happily resist any invader. If an invasion happens, I will not defend Mullahs, but I will defend my family, my friends, women, and places of my country. I guess most of you are the same. And I think many other Iranians think similarly. So, don't think it is easy to conquer Iran. I am not a military expert, but I think Iran is not comparable with Iraq.
4-Many Iranians like having trade with US and even Israel. Don't be fooled by media or Mullahs.
5-A very big question. Please help me as my history is not that good and I cannot find the reasons. Why USA believes that they must interfere in all parts of the world? Who gave them the permission to invade wherever they want to? So, what is the difference between USA and UN? Are they the same united thing?!
6-Please pronounce Iran correctly! It is not I-ran, it is eee-run. (;

Irans decisions are collective. They are reasoned; radical not mindless.

The only game plan that would make any sense for them is as Tom presents here.

To break out of the NPT they purchased working nukes or fissile material, more likely the latter.

Ahmadi-nejad has leaked the news to Tehran publishers.

The Europeans take this as a given, hence the no-war pitch from Straw, et. al. They consider themselves to be in range.

The nexus is now. Either we strike this winter or the situation gets totally out of hand: requires nuclear exchange.

Figure the Iranians to have a token nuclear deterrent already: F-4 aircraft with a bomb or a missile with warhead.

Acting as if the Iranian bomb is some distant prospect is not warranted by the facts. It is certainly not how the Iranians are playing their cards.

What we have is limited capability now that is breaking into mass production.

There is absolutely no requirement for U-235 based enrichment except to produce tritium. They are not on the path to the A bomb. Iran is going for the H bomb. THATS their scheme.

They are certainly not attempting to reproduce Little Boy. We only built the one, too heavy and expensive.

Constructing Fat Man requires no U-235 enrichment.

No, the whole Iranian project is oriented to mass production of the magic trigger isotopes used in very advanced weapons.

All of the extended timelines pitched here and there are totally absurd disinformation. Waiting for the fall elections: the Iranians are counting on it. Theyll be quite ready for us then.

Blert! Are you Sci-Fi writer?! What are you talking about?! A Bomb and H bomb?! :D Come on!

God help the Democrats if there ever is a nuclear attack by Iran or its minions. I know I couldn't live with that on my conscience.

SoloGen,

What gives America not just the right but the duty to exercise as much hegemony as possible is the world's need of an empire to keep order, whether it's the Romans, the British, or us. See Niall Ferguson, Deepak Lal, and others whose names escape me at the moment.

After reading the very interesting comments & thoughts above. Several questions came to mind.

#1. How soon we all forget. Where are the weapons of mass destruction in IRAQ??
#1a. Isn't that why the U.S. invaded IRAQ in the first place??
#2. Can you trust this administration's true objectives & agenda for that area of the world??
#2a. Can you trust anything this administration presents as evidence??
#2b. Has any one here read "The Grand Chessboard"? or The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership??
#3. Where did Israel get 200 nuclear warheads from??
#3a. Is this why soo many rising third world nations want WMD also??
#4. Is nuclear weapons a deterrent for invaders??
Look at N. Korea - hardly a word about their WMD's anymore.
#5. It seems as though the whole world has gone MAD, and Iran, Israel and the U.S. are the triggers used to bring us all to the brink.

Just think, a few years ago, war was something to be feared & shunned. Now, it is a welcome addition to modern life in the name of National Security..

Are we all going insane?? Or is it just, a sign of the times??

Thank You, Mr. Bush for opening up Pandora's Box, and personally ushering in Armaggedon.

007 bond watcher:

After reading the very interesting comments & thoughts above. Several questions came to mind.

#1. How soon we all forget. Where are the weapons of mass destruction in IRAQ??

Apparently off to Syria. Announcement comes this week. Saddam flew his Air Force off to Iran in 1991. So it stands to reason hed fly his WMD off to Syria, their ally in 2003.

#1a. Isn't that why the U.S. invaded IRAQ in the first place??

Actually, no. There were Congressional resolutions demanding regime change in the late nineties. Endless violations of the armistice signed in 1991. Active support for terrorism. The Congress listed a catalog of reasons for giving the President war powers against Saddam. The WMD was merely the MSM propaganda line. It was the lede.

#2. Can you trust this administration's true objectives & agenda for that area of the world??

Why not. Bush will be out of office in 2009. American presidents never have the world grand schemes so favored by dictators and paranoiacs. They muddle along with the crowd in charge, always.

#2a. Can you trust anything this administration presents as evidence??

I leave it to the boundless skeptics to vet the Administrations proofs.

#2b. Has any one here read "The Grand Chessboard"? or The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership??

Are you paranoid?

#3. Where did Israel get 200 nuclear warheads from??

Her own CANDU reactor complex. BTW the figure is now probably too low.

#3a. Is this why soo many rising third world nations want WMD also??

Nuclear weapons have there attractions without Israel. Look at North Korea, China, India.

#4. Is nuclear weapons a deterrent for invaders??
Look at N. Korea - hardly a word about their WMD's anymore.

Endless ink all over the place on North Korea. Answer unknown: token nuke powers will likely just get flattened in a first strike. No invasion. Just obliteration.

#5. It seems as though the whole world has gone MAD, and Iran, Israel and the U.S. are the triggers used to bring us all to the brink.

The US and Israel are status quo powers. Iran is the provocateur. Israel is not calling for the liquidation of Iran. Quite the opposite is what were hearing. Iran is an aggressor. It has its teeth in Iraq. It is terrifying its gulf neighbors.

Just think, a few years ago, war was something to be feared & shunned. Now, it is a welcome addition to modern life in the name of National Security..

Only in your head. What a revealing comment. Nuf said.

Are we all going insane?? Or is it just, a sign of the times??

Seems to be just you.

"Thank You, Mr. Bush for opening up Pandora's Box, and personally ushering in Armaggedon.

You don't sound very heart felt here.

hopefully Iran will get their nukes. so we wont have any moron such as this author barking louder, in a laughable way.

US imperialism and terrorism will be crushed.

Interesting discussion. When OUR one person dies then we will go and kill rest of the world. When their die in hundreds of thousands then it is collateral damage and price worth paying. No wonder USA is on top of the list of most dangerous country (Poll by its own ally countries).

I agree: IRAN does possess the nukes (and has every right to do so) and is following the same policy of ambiguity of Isreal.

My thinking is that they will never admit that they have (like Isreal) and cause maximum damage by surprise retalliation. Then this ARM-CHAIR writer of the article will be found nowhere. Neither will be those who are jumping at the thought of attacking Iran.

Guess what if they expose the possession. The world won't believe them anymore (they always say we don't need nukes), World will expect same kind of no-strike etc. assurances so it will be hard to use.

World is changing fast and learning the same tricks which west has tried on poor and helpless countries. No longer is the case. Table is turning now.

Thanks for reading

The idea of another "invasion" with resultant "occupation" would not find much acceptance among Americans. Serious and continuous "wounding" of Iran's military capabilities, without "boots on the ground" that draw IEDs, RPGs, and mujahadis from all over would be preferable.

The best follow-up to surgical disruption of Iran's grandiose war plans would be putting Saudi "boots on the ground" into Iran (fat chance of that; Saudis want us (US) to die for them, not the other way around).

Brilliant analysis. We need a ground invasion now. Iran has anti-ship missiles. We should pull our ships back, and go down the Persian Gulf north shore from Iraq and clear out Iran's naval, air and missile capability to the Pakistan border.

Battle phase deaths in Iraq were 200. In 10 or more years, we will lose back to the 50,000 American dead Vietnam Korea level, if not more.

200 dead killed per war is an abnormal low in history over thousands of years. We must seize the chance and fight all our wars now while this is true.

The British are already making headway on invading Iran.

http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/03/27/british-sailors-070327.html

-Cheerio!

The intention of invading Iran at this point is not out of any need for security. How many countries has Iran invaded in the last 20 years? None. How many has the United States. 5. In addition we have bases in over 130 nations around the world.

This seeming paranoia is born out of a desire to apply boogie man status to leaders of nations that do not walk lock step with our foreign policy. This is nothing new, infact if you look at our history, especially over the past 60 years. Justifying a continuation, indeed expansion, of our military industrial complex, has followed very striking patterns. Establish a boogie man, propagandize the situation, make the arms industry (a key element to political parties) that much stonger. It is about hegemony of thought and economic policy. Not the desire to rid the world of dictators.

Finally, if the true aim is to "liberate" countries from tyranny, why in the world are we using destruction as a means to get ordinary people in these countries to adopt our ways. I suggest your readers learn about who is affected by war, the dangers of destroying infrastructure, and the unacceptable notion that democracy can be achieved by displacing and killing civilians. 90 percent of people killed in war now are non-combatants.

I am not suggesting there is never a reason for war. War can be beneficial to outcomes. However, I think our country is wielding our power without regard for the future.

Who are these continuing warmongers? While I agree we can probably defeat the Iranian military, that's not exactly the point is it? Iraq is a breeding ground for Terrorists, Iran will become the same. Comments like 'I wouldn't want an Iranian nuclear attack on my concience' are nuts. A state with nuclear weapons can be deterred. 100,000 fanatical terrorists created by the invasion of their country cannot be. If the US was invaded, what steps would you take to fight the enemy? I would do anything I could. Can our leaders be seriously thinking about invading Iran? I consider myself a conservative, but a rational person. Cut taxes? Yes. Get the government out of our day-to-day lives? Yes. Spend the money on an endless, unwinnable war? No way.

Reading the belief that we must invade Iran is deeply disturbing and comes from a profound lack of understanding about history, world politics and the dynamics of societies and cultures.

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