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February 03, 2005

Comments

fling93

I think a much better Atlantic Monthly piece on Iran was James Fallows's Will Iran Be Next (subscription required). Here's some of its sobering conclusion:

But for the purposes most likely to interest the next American President—that is, as a tool to slow or stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weaponry—the available military options are likely to fail in the long term. A full-scale "regime change" operation has both obvious and hidden risks. The obvious ones are that the United States lacks enough manpower and equipment to take on Iran while still tied down in Iraq, and that domestic and international objections would be enormous. The most important hidden problem, exposed in the war-game discussions, was that a full assault would require such drawn-out preparations that the Iranian government would know months in advance what was coming. Its leaders would have every incentive to strike pre-emptively in their own defense. Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests. Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States....

What about a pre-emptive strike of our own, like the Osirak raid? The problem is that Iran's nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq's was at the time of the raid. Already the U.S. government has no way of knowing exactly how many sites Iran has, or how many it would be able to destroy, or how much time it would buy in doing so. Worse, it would have no way of predicting the long-term strategic impact of such a strike. A strike might delay by three years Iran's attainment of its goal—but at the cost of further embittering the regime and its people. Iran's intentions when it did get the bomb would be all the more hostile.

This is the lesson of opportunity cost. We do not have a military capable of sustaining two simultaneous occupations, which means you need to prioritize your targets carefully.

chad

That assumes that we are still occupied in Iraq. The iraqi interior minister has stated twice now he expects american troops to withdraw within 18 months. Further if we did decide to go to Iran, I doubt we would experience the buildup that was in place for Iraq. The speed with which the American military can move if it needs to is really mind boggling. Of course that incurs costs in follow on support but if it came down to it we could have at least 3 divisions in place as a beach head in less tha 2 weeks.

pubcrawler

And now we get word from the NCRI that Iran is developing nuclear triggers.
http://www.reuters.com/printerFriendlyPopup.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=7529216

Point 1: The NCRI are a very, very, bad bunch of people. Think Hussein Goon Squad and you've pretty much got these guys. We could do the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' thing but with these guys, I don't know. They are more trouble than they are worth.
Point 2: The mad mullahs in Iran are just as bad, if not worse. The idea of these blokes with nukes should make you hair turn white.
Point 3: The UN is on the case. That roughly translate into nothing is being done.
Point 4: If we screw this up then there is a very good possiblity that millions will die from it. I wouldn't put it past the mad mullahs to set off a nuke just for grins.

So Steve at ThoughtsOnline is right. The longer we ingore this the more perilous it becomes.

James Leroy Wilson

Excellent points. Whenever the Authorities, whoever they are, tell us that Iran is a Threat, they must be right. Consider their amazing accuracy about Iraq being our Greatest Threat, and Saddam's WMD's, links to Al Qaeda, and whatnot. Believing whatever it is Authority tells us to believe is the proper, libertarian thing to do. Even if Authority says that living in the USA is the same as living in Israel, and that any possible threat to Israel, is the same as a threat to Arizona or Nebraska.

To question such logic, however ungrounded from facts, is, of course, to appease the Mullahs.

I'll be sure to raise a glass in gleeful triumph when I found out how many hundreds of thousands of Iranians we killed in our Crusade to Make the World Safe From Iran. A wholly just, righteous cause, to be sure.

America! Fuck yeah!

fling93

chad: That assumes that we are still occupied in Iraq. The iraqi interior minister has stated twice now he expects american troops to withdraw within 18 months.

Yes, but they may have the nuke by the end of this year.

And 18 months seems a bit optimistic. When the issue about insufficient occupation troops levels comes up, a common partisan defense-of-Bush-and-Rumsfeld response I've seen is, where the heck would we get the troops? How long do you think it would take? There aren't any insta-soldiers where you add water, and presto! Enough forces to ensure security in Iraq. No, it doesn't work that way. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of time for training.

Well then, why the hell would you expect Iraq be able to build up a military force to stabilize the country any quicker than we could? Germany didn't take three years (we still have troops there, for that matter). And heck, we're still in Bosnia. Arguably, the ethnic and religious tensions in Iraq are a lot pricklier than either of those places. Make no mistake. This is going to be long, and anybody who downplayed the length and difficulty and cost of the occupation was trying to pull a fast one on you.

chad

First the Germany issue is not an apt comparison. Troops are not in Germany for an internal security purpose. Bosnia I have not paid much attention too. Your point about insta-troops is true there is however the flip side that has been brought up over and over by various Democratic Presidential candidates during the campaign. There are hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers that were dismissed by the CPA that can be brought back into service by the Iraqi government if they wish. (BTW I thought it was a mistake for the CPA to dismiss them, but I understand the reasoning at the time). That would free up a lot of American troops. Also consider that the hold up on the American side is not the number of troops available, we can make the troops, it is a debate about authorized force levels. Back in the 90's when the military was being cut to the bone and the 2 regional war concept was floated a lot of us who had been around for a while tried to point out that the cuts were to deep. We lost and the military reconfigured into its present form. Now we have inertia and no one wants to change force structure, but it could be done. The simplest way and the way that i would use is for lake of a better term force cloning I don't have time right now but I could explain the concept later if you like.

Mexigogue

By the rationale that if a country is ideologically opposed to yours and has weapons that it will not give up then it is ok to attack them. . . well by that rationale then Al Qaeda was justified in attacking the US right? When the twin towers were bombed did you stand up and say hey it made perfect sense for them to attack us because we're different and we have weapons.

??

Outlaw3

Wilson... Clarke... yep, had them confused. Clarke was the one who worked counter-terror, yet had the most terrorist attacks in history that were completely unpredicted, then tried to cover his failures with that whining book.

Actually, tactical nukes in bunker busters are a logical development that has been under way a long time (more than just a bright idea during this Bush administration). Previous nuke bunker busters took out the city, so getting it small enough and making it survive penetrating yards of reinforced concrete or granite, then explode, takes time to figure out.

Besides, you might not have to hit the underground bunker to ruin the program. You could seal the entrance and air vents long enough to set the program back 6 months. That brings them out in the open and you can track it all being reconstructed as they work and talk about it.

Mexigogue

It is not ethical to attack someone simply based on the fact that there is a hypothetical possibility that they might use their weapon against you one day. Or else if I were to have reason to believe that Libertarian Girl had a gun in her purse and I knew she didn't like me, would that make it ethical to come up from behind her and slit her throat? No, not unless I was some kind of sociopath. There is something very wrong with people who advocate committing violence against people based on hypothetical situations.

markm

Mexigogue: You aren't taking into account the person who is wielding the weapon. In our society, someone with a history of acting anything like the Irani regime would be locked up in either a maximum security prison or the most secure ward of a mental institution. OTOH, I wouldn't be worried at all about LG misusing a gun.

But if you're going to let insane mass murderers run the asylum (and I really can't think of a more apt way to describe the present situation in Iran), then you do need to watch for what they might hypothetically do - because they'll do it if they can.

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