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USAF playing cat and mouse game over Iran
January 29, 2005 9:22 AM   Subscribe

USAF playing cat and mouse game over Iran and yes: there is no hard evidence that this is taking place. But we do recall what Bush had earlier said about the axis of evil and his warnings to Iran about nuke capability. "The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said. "We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.
posted by Postroad (72 comments total)

 
Seymour Hersh's excellent article The Coming Wars details the Neocons' plans for Iran.

True, Hersh is a wildly liberal journalist. He also broke the Abu Ghraib debacle. So, it's likely we need to get ready for the Iran conflict...sheesh.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:03 AM on January 29, 2005


Are some fears self-fulfilling? I wonder if Bush would invade Iran just because thats what everyone thinks he is going to do.

On the other hand the American military is wildly overstreched and probably not capable of dealing with the kind of "insurgency" that Iran would produce.
posted by kuatto at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2005


The "World Peace Herald"? Where do they come up with these paper names?
posted by smackfu at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2005


The "World Peace Herald"? Where do they come up with these paper names?

It is part of the News World Communicationsposted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2005


Jeez, you guys are going to get the shit bombed out of a major city if you allow Bush to continue behave aggressively in the mid-East.

Are you ordinary citizens so committed to your government that you'll willfully allow it to put your own lives at risk? 'cause that's effectively what's you're doing. Bush attacks Iran, and terrorists aplenty will strike major American cities.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on January 29, 2005


The stuff about the MEK is pretty interesting too.
Even if our wars are justified, even if our action in Iran is justified, America should've learned that enlisting people who use the tactic of terrorism as 'freedom fighters' is not only hypocritical, but tends to bite us in the ass. If terrorism is bad, and a reason for incredible expense and paranoia on our part, then ALL terrorism should be bad.
To say "it's ok to do something unethical, because it's for the greater good" is to, for the most part, justify both sides of every war in history.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:38 AM on January 29, 2005


Fish, what's so scary is that if major cities got bombed, his approval ratings would go back up.
Bush's PR and image cash in whether we prevent attacks or allow them. Woo.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2005


Couldn't they just use mobile radar instalations?
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on January 29, 2005


Even if our wars are justified, even if our action in Iran is justified, America should've learned that enlisting people who use the tactic of terrorism as 'freedom fighters' is not only hypocritical, but tends to bite us in the ass.

It's morning again in America.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2005


Jeez, you guys are going to get the shit bombed out of a major city if you allow Bush to continue behave aggressively in the mid-East.

Yes, but do you have a better plan to ensure a third term? Time's a-wasting!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2005


Ah, the Moonies.

I can't figure out if the source being owned by a cult makes this less believable or, given the Moonies' ties to the Administration, more believable.

It's almost like watching a car accident in slow motion. You know what's coming, but you can't do anything to get out of the way.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:57 AM on January 29, 2005


I just don't understand the neocon's. And I really don't think that the neocon's understand Iran. The Iranian's are not stupid. They are not Arabs. They have more women with college level degree's than any other nonwestern country. They have had an independent highly developed civilization pretty continuously since before Alexander the Great.

They have never forgiven the British and the U.S. for fucking them in the ass with the Shah. Frankly much of the shit that went down in the 70's was even-steven for the CIA's antics.

Much of the population may not be a big fan of the Mullah's in control, but its their broken system. Without us mucking things up, I think that the system was going to self correct itself pretty quickly. Before Bush started chimping in their direction, it was looking pretty good for a liberalization of the hardline religious government.

So, now really remember that they are not stupid. These are highly educated, very proud people. And they have watched us come in a step on Iraq, just absolutely step on it, without a care of the consequences.

What would you do if that happened to you? You would do something to make sure that you didn't get stepped on. You would make the consequences so great of the stepper that it wasn't even an option.

So know you hear about the Iranian's accelerating their nuclear capability. And you know that the CIA really has no idea of where they are in the development of the device, because they CIA couldn't find its head in its ass, and that was before Bush's man in charge fired everyone who didn't toe the party line.

Iran is going to be the anti-Iraq. In Iraq, Bush and co. convinced themselves that Saddam was building WMD's. In reality, nothing was going on.

In Iran, we'll be convinced that they haven't got anywhere with them, right up until the first battlefield nuke goes off right over the Marines massed at the border.

Why are these people so stupid? The world just looks more and more dangerous everyday.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 11:01 AM on January 29, 2005


humph, I guess the short version of that tirade is that Bush is thinking about invading Iran because they may be developing WMD's - and Iran may be developing WMD's to stop Bush from invading.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 11:03 AM on January 29, 2005


Thankfully we really don't have the capability to proceed with another invasion at this time.
posted by Captaintripps at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2005


On the other hand the American military is wildly overstreched and probably not capable of dealing with the kind of "insurgency" that Iran would produce.

While its true that our military is a bit stretched, overstretched is propaganda imo. Put in a historical context, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a case where a country went to war and its military came out as strong as ours has with as few casualties. There are a few, but they likely killed and raped all the women and children along the way.

Our military hasn't had to go into an "emergency mode" or overall "general quarters"; the supply lines are filled, the manpower is available, and for the most part there is no bottom line. And this is all to the point where it's easy for your average american to forget that we are fighting a war at all. When they notice, when they see a serious impact that detriments their quality of life in a serious way, then our military is overstretched. If anything, a bit of a stretch is a healthy thing in the long run.

Numbers:
~295 million citizens [1]
~2 million army, navy, air force, marine, coast guard, national guard, reservist personnel [2] (+ non-active duty not listed)
~2 million detention, jail, prison inmates [3]
~1.4 milllion walmart employees [4]
posted by reflection at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2005


Iran's partners -- North Korea and Pakistan -- present contrasting studies in clandestine facilities. It appears that US intelligence has incomplete intelligence concerning some aspects of North Korea's plutonium program [mainly relating to whether there are undetected reprocessing facilities], and almost complete ignorance of the whereabouts of the DPRK's uranium program. The missing facilities are presumably at hidden underground locations. It is generally believed that Pakistan's major nuclear material production facilities are above ground and reasonably well characterized.

Iran appears to have a complete copy of Pakistan's fissile material production complex -- uranium conversion, uranium enrichment, heavy water production, and a heavy water plutonium production reactor. Elements of these facilities have been hardened against attack, notably the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, which has been buried under a thick layer of earth. All of these facilities are heavily defended by anti-aircraft missiles and guns.

One cannot exclude the possibility, however, that some or all of the visible nuclear weapons complex is simply a decoy, designed to draw attention. It is possible that Iran, like North Korea and unlike Pakistan, has buried nuclear weapons production capabilities that have escaped detection, and would continue in operation even if the visible facilities were destroyed. There are persistent rumors of such hidden facilities, but little in the way of circumstantial evidence to give credence to these rumors.

Amrom Katz, a shrewd arms control analyst at Rand Corporation many years ago, said, "We have never found anything that the Soviets have successfully hidden" [ Verification and SALT: The Challenge of Strategic Deception, W.C. Potter, Ed. (Westview, Boulder, CO, 1980), p 212). The issue for attack planners is how many undetected facilities have been successfully hidden in Iran.

Assessing the probability of the existence of a parallel clandestine program must take into account probable Iranian strategies for successful completion of their weapons acquisition effort. There has been essentially no detectable discussion of this question in the open literature, which is something of a puzzle in itself. That is to say, is everything unfolding as they had foreseen, or have things gone badly off track?


GlobalSecurity.Org: Target Iran - Air Strikes
posted by y2karl at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2005


remember kids, according to Bush, sovereign means sovereign. It doesn't have any other definition.
posted by MrLint at 11:15 AM on January 29, 2005


And for good measure, don't forget to read the Selective Service website's answering of the question, "What happens in a draft?"

None of this reflects my opinion; I just don't find it fair to say in any way shape or form that we are incapable of or stretched to thin to go into Iran next and North Korea after.

http://www.sss.gov/WHHAP.HTM
posted by reflection at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2005


Another unpleasant prospect is that the Israelis might not let Iran get away with developing nukes. It's hard to imagine another Osirak-type airstrike, but maybe this "templating" of AA assets is a precursor to just that -- the US military is gathering tactical intel to help the IAF with mission planning.
posted by alumshubby at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2005


Ok, everyone here is calculating the logistics and feasibility of a land invansion--but what does this have to do with an airstrike? The Israeli army in '81 was much smaller than Iraq's, and that didn't stand in the way of an effective sting operation.

Seems to me that the two things the US would need are:

1. Good Intel (which i'm sure the US is actively gathering--and so is Israel, and I have a feeling they're sharing.)
2. Technologically superior airforce. (Check.)

It's merely an added bonus that there's a massive military presence in the area.
posted by ori at 11:41 AM on January 29, 2005


The exile's war nerd has an article about the prospect of war with Iran. It's both highly amusing and rather accurate.
Iran is scarier than Iraq in every way you can name. First of all, it's physically way bigger, three times the size of Iraq. The population is 65 million, nearly three times as many as Iraq. The Iranians are young, too. Their birthrate is way down now, around 2 kids per woman, but back in the Khomeini years it was one of the highest in the world. So right now, the Iranian population has a demographic profile that's a military planner's dream: not too many little kids to take care of, but a huge pool of fighting-age men -- about 18 million.

"Go War!" Bush the Yale cheerleader

And it won't be just young, fit men fighting us. Thanks to the invention of the suicide car bomb, guerrilla commanders will have someplace to send 70 year old volunteers: down to the garage to pick up a Plymouth packed full of fertilizer bomb. You don't have to be young to put the pedal to the metal...

...imagine what the Iranians, the original Islamic suicide squads, will do when we invade. There'll be traffic jams, ten-mile backups, outside every US base, thousands of car bombers honking and changing lanes trying to get to the front of the line and make that final commute to Paradise. It'll be like the San Diego freeway on a Monday morning, except the fenderbenders will be a little more serious.

The Iranians, unlike the Iraqis, have always been willing to die for their country. In the Iran-Iraq War (1980-89) thousands of Iranians volunteered to charge across Iraqi minefields, knowing they were going to die. It scared the Hell out of the Iraqis. They threw everything at those crazy Persian suicide charges, even poison gas. And the Iranians just kept coming.
posted by talos at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2005


ori: you forget that Iran learned from the 81 strike on Osirak, and as a result has supposedly scattered their resources more widely about rather than having them concentrated, and have buried their production equipment deep beneath the earth in fortified bunkers.
posted by furtive at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2005


alumshubby, my guess would be just the opposite. Israel's public image internationally is already incredibly frail, and even Arab governments friendly to Israel (Egypt, Jordan) are struggling to reign in anti-Israel sentiment. An attack on Iran would stir up a lot of anger. Besides, Israel (despite what everyone here seems to believe) is genuine interested in an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, albeit on its own obstinate and brusk terms, and--tho it's still premature to say anything definite--some marked improvement is definitely on the horizon of that front. In short: why upset so much when the US seems perfectly willing? My guess is that Israel will provide massive intel on Iran to the US and quietly cheer on the effort.

On preview: talos, see my earlier post, and also remember that whereas there was popular support against Iraq in Iran, the current regime is growing increasingly unpopular, with a lot of hushed support on the streets, especially by the intelligentsia, for a land invasion. My (Persian) friend was just there last September--people were holding vigils in solidarity with the US on 9/11, and the police came and were beating people up, etc. Recall the latest elections and how the Mullahs had to remove a whole bunch of candidates from the ballots. But again: why is a landed invasion even a question here?
posted by ori at 12:02 PM on January 29, 2005


more on Osiraq

hey, you wanna run with the big dogs...
ya gotta get off that porch.

but thats not fitting is it?
posted by clavdivs at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2005


Yeah it's pretty mess all right. And a lot of this stuff is reminiscent of the series of events that lead to WWI.

Not justifying, but to understand the mentality involved you have to realize the thinking process from the neocon/US end. It goes like this as far as I can tell:

- a war was started against the US, on 9/11, the US is reacting to a mortal threat, not starting anything; further there is nothing to lose except the final outcome, the country has already been threatened with the worst and the worst will happen if nothing is done about it; note btw that no one from the 'evil zone' is telling them to relax, they hear on a daily basis that they will be killed, that they have enemies whose purpose is to kill them

- attacking Iraq or Iran or wherever else is not a beginning but a necessary continuation, this is not a choice and certainly not a proactive initiative based on religious belief, but a necessary evil being done in the face of death-obsessed evil

So I don't know, where does it end. Perhaps when countries all round stop looking like mortal threats to each other, but can that only happen thru war?

OT, testing a potential enemies defenses is standard operating procedure, I'm sure the pentagon has plans for just about any eventuality, no doubt they've long since figured out the logistics for occupying Canada and Mexico.

And clearly, anyone who thinks the US is reaching the limits of it's warmaking capacity is kidding themselves. It could be that the limits of the appearance of normalcy are being reached but that 's all. There's a whole lot of capacity beyond that.

The world was already an armed camp when a mental case by the name of Bin Laden got a lucky shot in. Is it possible this will prove to be the Archduke assassination of our times?
posted by scheptech at 12:06 PM on January 29, 2005


furtive, all that means is that the airstrike would have to be on a much larger scale. I don't think their nuclear program is invulnerable to airstrikes. They've just made it tougher.

(And also, irony of ironies: recall that Iran and Israel cooperated closely on the Osirak strike).
posted by ori at 12:08 PM on January 29, 2005


The world was already an armed camp when a mental case by the name of Bin Laden got a lucky shot in. Is it possible this will prove to be the Archduke assassination of our times?

SEE SEE, IT TOLD YOU ALL ABOUT THE ROYAL CONNECTION TO THIS THING.

not sorry but dAH-mannn
- a war was started against the US, on 9/11,
it started long before that.
posted by clavdivs at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2005


Without any evidence, it seems verbal attacks (or in this case aggressive peering) unite Iranian hard-liners and moderates, thereby resulting in fewer moderate reforms and increased acceptance of hard-line policies by moderates.

A nation under consideration for an attack may be more willing to sacrifice (or not gain) individual liberties.
posted by quam at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2005


eat sleep and be merry for tomorrow we die.
posted by nola at 12:26 PM on January 29, 2005


eat drink and be merry* :P
posted by nola at 12:26 PM on January 29, 2005


Revelation 8

6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

posted by orange clock at 12:46 PM on January 29, 2005


A nation under consideration for an attack may be more willing to sacrifice (or not gain) individual liberties.

A nation that even just thinks it's under attack *will definitely* be willing to sacrifice individual liberties. For an extreme case of national paranoia check North Korea.

I suppose the best we can hope for is no more killing-involved attacks on US interests, and that the current administration just concerns itself with cleaning up the mess in Iraq without expanding the scope of things any time in the next 3 1/2 years, and that a new admin gets elected with a different approach.

Nah, probably too much to ask.
posted by scheptech at 12:56 PM on January 29, 2005


When is North Korea scheduled again?
posted by sninky-chan at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2005


reflection: you seem to be greatly misunderstanding the meaning of the term 'over-stretched.' It does not mean like the German army in 1945, getting its ass kicked on several fronts, or the Iraqi army in 1991, supremely outmaneuvered and out-gunned.

It means the simple and obvious thing -- it is stretched more than it is intended to be. Which is precisely true, and nothing you provide gives any indication otherwise. While our deaths are blessedly low in Iraq (thanks entirely to body army and good field medicine), our causaualties are not that low at all, especially when you begin to look at our ability to replace casualties. (And understand I am using the term casualty in its correct sense: removed from service, not its incorrect one, death). More importantly, if you get beyond the fetishiziation of casualties, and get to the meat of the issue, our Army is over-stretched, beyond any shadow of a doubt. That is, can the Army currently obtain its objective of securing Iraq, with its current levels? Answer: not really. In can sort of contain a serious shit-storm, but it can not secure the country completely, because of a simple lack of man power. Providing uncontested security for an election is something that should be easily within the power of an occupying army: we can't do it. Why? We are a couple hundred thousand troops short of what we should have. Hence, over-stretched.

So, to Iran: we can launch an air-strike. We can not do anything else. Unless the people in charge are willing to leave America's own borders nearly completely undefended, at let our current Army twist in the wind on the border of Iran while a draft takes a year or two to gear up.
posted by teece at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2005


I would guess that if we performed airstrikes against Iran they would immediately declare official war on the US. Would congress then respond in kind? What would stop Iran from overrunning their borders and taking large chunks of Iraq? I don't belive that we have the strength in the area to prevent it.
posted by Justin Case at 1:23 PM on January 29, 2005


ori,

An Israel that forbears to let a country that has repeatedly called for its extinction come up with the means to achieve that end, simply for the sake of looking better to the Palestinians and the Arab world in general, would be something to see. If they don't pull an Osirak, it'll most likely be because they let the US do it for them. I'm kinda hoping that Iran sets off a test nuke and everybody sits back and chills out, realizing that hostilities are in nobody's interest.

Justin,

Iran wouldn't do diddly squat against US-occupied Iraq. They'd risk hostilities with other countries' military assets in the area too, and they don't have any reason to overtly agress in Iraq anyway. Attacking a Bush-led US military would be counterproductive, to say the least. They want to avoid war with the US, not pursue it.
posted by alumshubby at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2005


Providing uncontested security for an election is something that should be easily within the power of an occupying army: we can't do it. Why? We are a couple hundred thousand troops short of what we should have. Hence, over-stretched.

No, this is NOT overstretched. If your point is valid, it is only in the sense that the troops are in the wrong place. Not that we don't have them or aren't capable of providing them.

PS: how can I know for certain we're not overstretched? because i'm sitting in my bedroom and not getting called back to duty.

There are plenty of Americans to go around.
posted by reflection at 1:52 PM on January 29, 2005


alumshubby, but if they are under attack already can you predict what they will do? We haven't exactly been on good terms with Syria either, an Iran invasion from the east and a Syria invasion from the west would be hard to contain. The Arab world is not exactly cheering on the current US actions, what would happen if those actions expand?

What is most sickening is the inability of American citizens to do anything about this.

Why should we believe anything the Bush admin says about the threat of another country?

There are plenty of Americans to go around. scarry comment
posted by edgeways at 1:56 PM on January 29, 2005


Was there not a pretty strong secular movement in Iran prior to Bush's Axis of Evil speach? I might be wrong, but it seems as though we just don't care anymore about keeping to the high moral ground. As Bush might say, "We're just gonna kick some ass and teach those heathen bastards a lesson."

It seems though that as the most powerful nation on the planet we could just twist some arms and get whatever we want. If we created strong allegiances with middle eastern countries they would gladly hand over terrorists like Bin-Laden because it would be of mutual benefit.

Alas that is not the case and more will perish.
posted by snsranch at 2:01 PM on January 29, 2005


And Syria would invade...why?

Nobody needs to invade Iraq. We're overextending our miltary enough without additional conventional warfare on anybody else's part. I think that Bush, Rumsfeld & Co. are more likely to yell "Ski Tabriz!" and go invading Iran than the Iranis wanting to fight an offensive war.

Either way, Bush is nuts to even rattle a saber at Iran. Read the War Nerd link...he explains it a lot more entertaingly than I can.
posted by alumshubby at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2005


Meanwhile . . . the lead story on the evening National Public Radio broadcast is cheerful hype about tomorrow's "historic" elections in Iraq!

Go team.

That Hersch article is extremely depressing. God I hope NPR is right and Sy is wrong.
posted by bukvich at 2:07 PM on January 29, 2005


Predicting that somebody will quickly point out that there will be no unity between Persians and Arabs, Shia and Sunni, etc...

All identities -- ethnic, religious, civic, national -- are constructions of particular moments and circumstance which made it sensible for a members of a group to begin to understand themselves primarily as members of an imagined community of a particular scale. Usually groups reimagine themselves when a) there are threats to traditional markers of social identity and b) there is an apparent enemy-other in opposition to whom it is possible to draw the lines of a new social identity.

For this reason i believe that -- while it is the fairly explicit purpose of the neocons to keep the area in chaos -- what we are actually doing is creating exactly the kind of environment in which a 'pan-muslim' militancy might actually begin to grow.

The day that Syria and Iran coordinate attacks on the borders of American-occupied Iraq, I believe that such an identity will be firmly planted in the imaginations of all those in the region who already understand the US primarily as a hegemon and a threat. And then we will really be looking at a war.
posted by milkman at 2:09 PM on January 29, 2005


Iran wouldn't do diddly squat against US-occupied Iraq.
Right. Isn't Iran better off with Taliban out of Afghanistan and Saddam out of power in Iraq? The new Afghan government is friendly to Iran. It would be surprising, to me at least, to not see an Iraqi government friendly to Iran in the near future.

Of any nation to benefit from U.S. military activity in the Middle East, it may be Iran more than any other. Surely government analysts foresaw this.
posted by quam at 2:14 PM on January 29, 2005


Me either, quam -- the country's majority Shia, even if they are Arabs.
posted by alumshubby at 2:19 PM on January 29, 2005


PS: how can I know for certain we're not overstretched? because i'm sitting in my bedroom and not getting called back to duty.

Completely, utterly wrong. The fact that you are sitting in your bedroom indicates a failure of courage on the part of those in charge. Nothing more. Serious military analysis (as opposed to the crap you get from sycophant politicians and generals that would lose their job if they spoke truthfully) shows that we are noticeably understaffed in Iraq, with no appealing options for mustering the troops.

No, this is NOT overstretched. If your point is valid, it is only in the sense that the troops are in the wrong place. Not that we don't have them or aren't capable of providing them.

Um, nonsense. Our troops are where they need to be. To staff Iraq correctly, we would have to completely remove almost all troops from Europe and Asia, as well as a healthy contingent of the troops meant to guard America itself -- the repercussions for that are serious, and unwanted. In other words, current military strategy is to fight in Iraq while maintaining the ability to defend America from potential attackers AND maintain large troop deployments in Europe and Asia.

We can't do all three. Hence, over-stretched, because nobody has had the courage to eliminate any of the three from the list or expand the military.

Your logic is circular -- the definition of over-stretched you are using is self-serving. We are not talking about some hypothetical American ability and some hypothetical scenario -- we are talking about today's reality.

Our Army can not do all of the things it is currently being asked to do, at least not effectively. If that is not the very definition of over-stretched, the term has no meaning.

And none of this touches on the fact that we are months away from bumping into a much more serious problem: a real difficulty replacing people removed from the field of battle in Iraq.

(Food for thought: we had ~700,000 troops available for Gulf War I, a war with a much more modest long-term objective. Think about that for a while before you blithely assume the ~140,000 currently trying to accomplish a much more aggressive objective in Iraq is "enough," especially in light of the fact that GWI was over quickly, had broad international support to help supply troops, and had a US army that was much larger. GWI is lacking in all of those respects).

Current objectives are too much for the US military -- adding anything to the plate in Iran seems monumentally stupid to me.
posted by teece at 2:25 PM on January 29, 2005


There are plenty of Americans to go around.

Plenty of American children, most of them not fortunate enough to be a president's or senator's son or daughter, that's for sure.

Like my younger brother, for one.

If there's the slightest whiff of an attack on Iran, we had all better get out in the streets right then and there.

Because our children and brothers and sisters will once again die for no good reason, just like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:27 PM on January 29, 2005


Sy Hersh's article linked above is scary as hell. They didn't learn anything other than "supress internal dissent and bring the CIA to heel." Geez, that's nuts.
posted by alumshubby at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2005


Hersh may seem ultra-liberal but he's on the ball.
posted by snsranch at 2:48 PM on January 29, 2005


The fact that you are sitting in your bedroom indicates a failure of courage on the part of those in charge

What the hell kind of a circular argument is that? The fact that i'm sitting in my bedroom means that our tacticians and logistical planners have decided that they don't need me there. There are a lot more like me.

Further, you seem to be unaware of the fact that the Coalition of the Willing is not even directly providing election security. The Iraqi police force is doing it, and we are on call.
posted by reflection at 3:37 PM on January 29, 2005


US or Israeli attack on Iran, Iran (and Syria) attack against US force in Iraq, possibly stretched too thin American military, all bad news. The scariest comment in this thread to me, far topping all the rest, is alumshubby's suggesting Iran should just set off a test nuke so "everybody sits back and chills out, realizing that hostilities are in nobody's interest." Iran does that and you can count the number of seconds before Bush releases the US launch codes for some small number of warheads targeted at wherever our government believes the mullahs are hiding. Especially if Iran were to do this without advance, although possibly covert, notice. Talk about fan meeting overwhelming amount of waste product! Chill out? I DON'T THINK SO, BUDDY!
posted by billsaysthis at 3:48 PM on January 29, 2005


What the hell kind of a circular argument is that? The fact that i'm sitting in my bedroom means that our tacticians and logistical planners have decided that they don't need me there. There are a lot more like me.

Getting way off-topic reflection, but think about what you are saying. You are saying that those in charge have perfect judgment, and basing your argument on it entirely. Thus, the fact that there is no draft is also proof that a draft is not needed. This is sophistry. I contend those in charge are in error in not finding more troops for their military plans -- you are going to need to actually contest that if you want to rise above sophistry.

Further, you seem to be unaware of the fact that the Coalition of the Willing is not even directly providing election security. The Iraqi police force is doing it, and we are on call.

This is complete, propaganda nonsense. If that were actually the case, we would be going home on 31 Jan 2005, as our job would be done. The actual reality in Iraq is that there is no damn police force actually capable of providing civil order.
posted by teece at 3:56 PM on January 29, 2005


Chill out? I DON'T THINK SO, BUDDY!

Heh, yeah I don't think so either.

alumshubby - Perhaps if you consider the US national character to be analogous to that of a 'bully' type of personality then the suggestion to set off a nuke to get their attention might almost make sense.

But, they are as far away from that sort of self-image as it's possible to be. If Iran were to do that, you'd find Bush's approval rating going through the roof. He'd be seen to be unequivocally correct and justified in stamping out the evil doers. I'd go so far as to suggest he would have a reasonable level of support for using nukes himself in response.
posted by scheptech at 4:09 PM on January 29, 2005


I've been to Tehran. It's quite a nice place, and the people are lovely. I was there on the day of the Axis of Evil speech, which I heard on the BBC World Service in my hotel room: by the time I had dared to go downstairs and onto the street everyone had heard about it. The general reaction was one of complete amusement. There was a lot of giggling, I remember.

Anyway, two things. First off, if I was in the Iranian leadership, and was considering the way that of the six countries bordering me, five of them - Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan - are holding troops ostensibly hostile to me, I'd be building all the WMD I could put my hands on. Not to use, but just to get that mad bloke to leave me the hell alone. It's really the only politically acceptable response. Hence, this isn't going to end well.

Second, and more a point of trivia that I found really interesting, it turns out that the famous Farsi line of America being the "Great Satan" is misunderstood. Satan in Islam isn't the embodiment of evil as he is in Christianity, but, rather, a trickster figure. Calling the US "the Great Satan" is actually saying that the US is "the Big Liar". It comes from the whole Engineering-A-Coup-Against-Their-Democratic-President-And-Installing-The-Shah-As-A-Favour-To-The-British thing. Given that, it's quite a fair statement, really.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 4:19 PM on January 29, 2005


How much do you wanna bet that in the next few months, the Fox network dusts off the awful Sally Field vehicle Not Without my Daughter in order to inflame 'Murkin passions toward Iran? /OT
posted by psmealey at 4:39 PM on January 29, 2005


Hersh may seem ultra-liberal but he's on the ball.

I sometimes get the idea he's ultra-liberal BECAUSE he's on the ball...
posted by kgasmart at 4:49 PM on January 29, 2005


Since we're ragging on Hersh a little, let's let him have his say...

There are many who believe George Bush is a liar, a President who knowingly and deliberately twists facts for political gain. But lying would indicate an understanding of what is desired, what is possible, and how best to get there. A more plausible explanation is that words have no meaning for this President beyond the immediate moment, and so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real. It is a terrifying possibility. -- Seymour Hersh, from the epilogue to Chain of Command
posted by alumshubby at 4:57 PM on January 29, 2005


I think one big problem in US America -- and, I do not doubt, in many other Western nations -- is a perception of Iran as a backwaters, dust-filled, tent-dwelling third-world country.

At least, that's how it is for me. When I think "Iran," I don't think "big cities with skyscrapers, universities, research programs, malls, movie theatres." I don't get a mental picture of a city like Calgary, Seattle, Dallas.

This makes it very easy to "misunderestimate" the country.

Further, when I do imagine them as ordinary folk in a big city, it makes the prospect of war all that much more horrifying. One just doesn't imagine warfare in a city like San Francisco, Chicago, or even Denver.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:16 PM on January 29, 2005


Flickr Tag: Tehran.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:19 PM on January 29, 2005


I heartily agree, five fresh fish. I also think that is part of the ease with which Americans can accept the fighting we are currently doing in Iraq. I think the Fallujah operation is something like the equivalent of emptying (and to a large degree destroying) a city like Colorado Springs or Ft. Collins, CO. And there is significant fighting and unrest in Baghdad, a pretty damn large city. But the mental picture people draw for themselves is a camel and a yurt and some brown people in turbans and robes.

It is easier to think Iraq and Iran are similar. We really understimate Iraq. And Iran isn't really anything like Iraq, and a underestimation there is going to hurt a lot more.
posted by teece at 5:31 PM on January 29, 2005


Getting way off-topic reflection, but think about what you are saying. You are saying that those in charge have perfect judgment, and basing your argument on it entirely. Thus, the fact that there is no draft is also proof that a draft is not needed. This is sophistry. I contend those in charge are in error in not finding more troops for their military plans -- you are going to need to actually contest that if you want to rise above sophistry.

I am not commenting on the validity of their judgement. I am simply saying we are not "overstretched". I personally feel that I should be in Iraq right now. I dont have a choice in the matter. This does not make us overstretched. You are letting your personal views about the situation get in the way of the facts. We have a lot of resources left and we are not going to run out any time soon. Just because you dont like the way its being handled changes nothing.

This is complete, propaganda nonsense. If that were actually the case, we would be going home on 31 Jan 2005, as our job would be done. The actual reality in Iraq is that there is no damn police force actually capable of providing civil order.

You are full of it. When you walk up to a polling station all you see is the Iraqi police force. I never said our job was done, I never said we were going home. I simply said we are obviously NOT overstretched.

Who the hell are you, by the way, to restate someone elses argument in your own words, in an extreme context that they never insinuated, and then accuse them of sophistry?

Let me make this clear. All I have said is that we have plenty of people, plenty of money, and plenty of bombs left to do whatever we have to in Iran and North Korea. I DIDNT SAY ANYTHING ELSE. I hope that's clear.
posted by reflection at 5:37 PM on January 29, 2005


the supply lines are filled, the manpower is available. . .

HUH?

reflection - where are you coming from?

Supply lines are filled? Convoy security has been inadequate since the first week of the war and the Pentagon civilians ordered 1st Cav to leave 5 out of every 6 of their tanks @ Ft. Hood when they deployed to Iraq in April 2004 contributing to the deadly lack of armor for US troops.

The Pentagon is doing the old robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul thing to boost total troop strength temporarily to 150,000 for the coming Iraq elections.

The Pentagon had to send the 11th Armored Cav to Iraq b/c there was no one else - that was the equivalent of taking "Top Gun" and "Red Flag" instructors, shutting down their programs, and sending them to Iraq.

You deserve respect and admiration for your service to our country in the military but you should also realize that every 4-star and officer (plenty of retired and active duty generals have been quoted) that cares about "the men" knows that this war has been fought on the cheap and badly damaged the preparedness of our military.
posted by mlis at 6:01 PM on January 29, 2005


We have a lot of resources left and we are not going to run out any time soon. Just because you dont like the way its being handled changes nothing.

You are making no sense, reflection, so this is my last post to you. What the hell are you trying to say, then? I say we are over-stretched. Your only counter is that we have plenty of resources available. Well, your provably wrong if you are talking about what we have at our disposal, RIGHT NOW, and you are making empty, pointless comments if you mean in some hyphothetical sense. Sure, America could commit much more to Iraq. But to do it, we would need to expand our military. We aren't. Thus, our too-small military is over-stretched. It's that simple.

I am not commenting on the validity of their judgement.

Well, yes you did, whether you meant to or not. You said the lack of any desire/ability to draft/enlist you from your bedroom to Iraq was proof that we are not over-stretched. I take this to mean, quite reasonably, that since there is no mass mobilization to get folks over to Iraq, that is proof of us not being over-stretched in Iraq. Unless you posit that our leaders are flawless, that logic is completely circular.

Why the sophistry comment? Because you have made the statement that we are not "over-stretched" and then either a) completely avoided any meaningful justification (i.e. justify that assets in play right now are enough to accomplish our goals for the forseeable future), or you've b) made up empty, circular arguments to back your statement up, or c) talk about some hypothetical army that does not currently exist.

As for your polling station remark -- that's a deliberate choice on the part of the Iraqi/American governments. You see Iraqi police because it is good PR. Don't fool yourself for a second into believing that those Iraqi police could provide peace and order without the American military. Your statement that it is not even up to the Americans to provide election day security is completely detached from reality, even if it's the official propaganda line. There would be no election security without Americans -- indeed, there would probably be only civil war if we weren't still trying to put a lid on things. You're just scoring cheap, empty rhetorical points by pretending that Americans have nothing to do with election security. It's nonsense on the face of it. The Iraqis have a barely functioning police force, and no standing army outside of Kurdistan. ALL aspects of their security are American responsibilities.

Let me make this clear. All I have said is that we have plenty of people, plenty of money, and plenty of bombs left to do whatever we have to in Iran and North Korea. I DIDNT SAY ANYTHING ELSE. I hope that's clear.

Again, it's clear that you are provably wrong unless you mean mobilizing a draft over the next year to invade Iran, and tooling up for a war-time economy, complete with rationing of key supplies and such. We do not have enough people in the military to embark on a campaign in Iran. You're fooling yourself you think otherwise. If you think we have enough after a draft, then you're still wrong in thinking that the current Army, the ONE WE HAVE NOW, is not over-stretched.

But this all has nothing to do with Iran, so have a good weekend. (Most of my thinking on being over-stretched comes directly from statements by the military, btw).
posted by teece at 6:14 PM on January 29, 2005


This is the part of the thread where someone says: You're a lying SOB. Fuck off.

Thereby acheiving an active discourse.
posted by casu marzu at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2005


I'm worried that the architect of this cheaper/faster/don't wait for the big buildup "Transformation" force philosophy is none other than SecDef Rumsfeld. If the US military has to go into Iran, under Rumsfeld's direction it would again emphasize air power and special-operations forces. You can do a lot with air power, but you can't hold ground with it; that's the job of the nineteen-year-old kid with the rifle. And special ops is like a surgeon with a scalpel; you use them selectively in given situations, and they can pull off amazing things, but you don't rely on them as shock troops -- they're high-value assets. It's sobering to ponder that Rumsfeld could effectively set the Army (and however reluctantly, the Marines too) up to fail, trying to shock and awe a much bigger and likely more determined military than what it faced in Iraq.

I wonder if there's anybody left in the Pentagon to stand up to Rummy and say, "Hey, look, there just isn't the force structure to do this, regardless of what the TO&E says." I get a sense that Rumsfeld is a lot like his predecessor McNamara anymore, listening only to the yes-men.
posted by alumshubby at 6:23 PM on January 29, 2005


I'm probably oversimplifying things but there are only so many outcomes that can come out of attacking Iran. Either

1. It does what the neocons say it will and the government collapses. I doubt this would happen and there is no evidence that it would.

2. They do nothing and ignore the attacks and try to rebuild their operations as best they can. This is assuming that we do not engage in a full scale invasion.

3. They fight back in some way. Fighting back could take different forms but they are limited in what would be affective. Mobilizing a massive army or using nukes are about all they have, or instead of meeting us head on there army disband and take up terroristic activities like what's happening in Iraq. Either way the US is going to have a very difficult time.
posted by Justin Case at 6:36 PM on January 29, 2005


the Coalition of the Willing is not even directly providing election security. The Iraqi police force is doing it, and we are on call.

And by on call, he means things like:

American combat engineers and infantrymen occupied dozens of polling stations throughout Iraq early Thursday morning so they could fortify them with concrete barriers, search for bombs and prepare them for possible insurgent attacks in the run up to Sunday’s elections. ...150,000 U.S. troops will help provide security throughout the country on election day.

In Ramadi, U.S. forces said they have established 10 polling stations throughout the city — five manned by U.S. Marines and five by Army troops of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Security inside the polls will be provided by Iraqi troops.

The soldiers are part of a contingent of more than 4000 army special force members and commandos sent from Baghdad to help secure the elections in Mosul. ... [Iraqi election workers] will be directly inside the polling sites and at the entrances searching all voters walking in as US soldiers in armoured vehicles and tanks stand guard close by.

Similarly, store security guards are not really providing direct security. The cashiers are doing it and the security guard is on call near by to help out if needed.
posted by Bort at 7:08 PM on January 29, 2005


So uhm, is it just me, or does bombing nuclear development sites sound like an incredibly bad idea? Even if they are highly fortified and underground, you are ultimately vaporizing stocks of highly radioactive materials, which have to go somewhere...

We have a hard enough time cleaning up the nuclear development sites in our own country, not to mention those left behind by the USSR, so why on earth would we want to make it worse by destroying Iran's sites making it that many times harder? We would be the ones ultimately responsible for cleanup....
posted by gren at 12:55 AM on January 30, 2005


so why on earth would we want to make it worse

never stopped us before.
posted by lazymonster at 1:24 AM on January 30, 2005


I hold country music responsible for this whole mess.

The enemy has hurt us, violence knocked us to the ground
An emptiness surrounds us, pain of loss is all around
This threat to our freedom has renewed our will to fight
Our battle cry is victory, we know we'll do what's right

-The Oak Ridge Boys "This is America"
posted by lazymonster at 2:07 AM on January 30, 2005


There isn't a Coalition of the Willing any more. The White House scrapped the list "sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2005


this is telling: Halliburton to pull out of Iran

(only to come back in with our invading forces?)
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on January 30, 2005


I wish this surprised me.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:43 AM on January 31, 2005


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