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A bridge too Farsi?!
January 24, 2006 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Moqtada Sadr promises to help defend Iran. The Iraqi Shi'ite leader promised to defend Iran -- presumably in Iraq -- if Iran is attacked by the US. Moqtada Sadr is the commander of the Mahdi Army, which fought US troops for weeks in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, threatening to unite poor, discontented Iraqi Shi'ites in common cause with Sunni insurgents. Sadr and his followers are known to have close ideological and logistical links to clerics inside Iran. In the event of a conflict with Iraq, their assistance to the Iranians could greatly increase instability within Iraq, possibly assisting elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force in infiltrating Iraq, and orchestrating attacks upon American interests.
posted by insomnia_lj (72 comments total)

 
we are going to get fucking pwned in a real war, at the rate Bush keeps wasting our troops fighting fake ones. since 9/11, he, in his seemingly boundless idiocy, has made this country somehow less safe.
posted by wakko at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2006


Why do you hate America? You whining loony leftys... blah blah blah... Arabs want to rape your sister... blah blah blah... hate us for our liberty... blah blah blah...

Oh - look - Weapons of Mass Destruction!

Back when I lived in the backwoods O' New England, the locals had a dumb winter sport they called bear-baiting. You'd hear the lawnmower whine of a snowmobile in the woods, in search of wildlife to pester. Once they found a bear, they'd essentially do doughnuts around it to piss it off, then go a hellin' onto the ice of the lake to escape the charging beast.

The bear, not fond of the unsteady footing on the ice, would give up the chase, and lumber back into the woods. The game would begin again.

I remember one time some yokel buzzed out of the woods, hit the middle of the lake, and KRAAAAACK! went the ice. The driver and rider went over the highside while the snowmobile did a slow Titanic into what would have been the deepest part of the lake.

I laughed myself silly all morning. Dumb hicks. If only the bear had come out to finish 'em off.

The Chimp has been bear baiting for a term and a half; eventually the ice will crack.
posted by Perigee at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2006


we are going to get fucking pwned in a real war, at the rate Bush keeps wasting our troops fighting fake ones. since 9/11, he, in his seemingly boundless idiocy, has made this country somehow less safe.

Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

Occupying a country is impossible. Erasing all signs of the industrial age? Still very doable for the U.S.
posted by srboisvert at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2006


Bringing stability and democracy to the Middle East one evil axle at a time.
Good thing we invaded Iraq so's the new government can defend Iran!
posted by nofundy at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2006


Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

You mistake superior firepower for strength. Vietnam should have taught us better. Hell our own revolution should have taught us better.
posted by anonpeon at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2006


Interesting development. Muqtada al-Sadr is a genuine loose cannon, but he's certainly expressing the feelings of a lot of Iraqi Shi'ites here. I would think the possibility of even further disruption of Iraq might give pause to the maniacs in Washington who are trying to bring about hostilities with Iran.

Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

Yeah! Like those Vietnamese!

Of course, as a Brit you may simply be egging on the US in order to enjoy the Schadenfreude when we wind up flat on our face.
posted by languagehat at 10:35 AM on January 24, 2006


Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

Not without a draft. I'd like to see if Pres. Bring 'em On (latest approval rating: 37%) sell that one.
posted by Chrischris at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2006


I would say this is why the Iranians (presumably) want nukes... not to attack with, but to defend with. In a world with one major superpower nuclear threat is a major deterrent to being attacked. We went after Iraq after all, not N. Korea. Of course the policy of the US actually encourages this attitude in other countries. This is not, wholly, a Bush problem but a US problem. Although Bush has escalated the problem to worrying conditions. Like throwing gas on a fire, he may not have started the fire, but has made it exponentially worse.
posted by edgeways at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2006


quite a Mission Accomplished we've achieved, huh? Iran and Iraq will be one country soon, i'm betting.
posted by amberglow at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2006


The Chimp has been bear baiting for a term and a half; eventually the ice will crack.

WTF? We've mismanaged our military and squandered the bulk of the good will the world once had for us; but in Iran, we have not been bear-baiting. Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons, contrary to its treaty obligations and the approaches of the IAEA and UN. Was invading Iraq bear-baiting vis-a-vis Iran?
posted by ibmcginty at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2006


I have the presz approval at
CNN/USA Today/Gallup 1/20-22/06 43% + 54% -

link
posted by edgeways at 10:50 AM on January 24, 2006


Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

Occupying a country is impossible. Erasing all signs of the industrial age? Still very doable for the U.S.
posted by srboisvert


Yeah! Like those Vietnamese!

You mistake superior firepower for strength. Vietnam should have taught us better.


Jesus, do you guys read the comment before getting snarky? You're arguing against something he never said.
posted by justgary at 10:52 AM on January 24, 2006


perhaps ibmcginty, the bear baiting analogy applies to invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (near neighbors, and referring to Iran as evil and such actions. To be sure Iran is not all innocent, but there has been some (deliberate?) provoking going on.
posted by edgeways at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2006


"We've mismanaged our military and squandered the bulk of the good will the world once had for us"

So where exactly does your "WTF" come from?

When a country already viewed as a bully in the Muslim world comes down, wipes out one country for breakfast and scarfs a second one down for lunch, Burns Muslim bodies in a manner guaranteed by the religion to keep them out of heaven, tortures, etcetera etcetera and lefty-lefty so on, you don't think that's not baiting the Middle East Muslim states?

With all that exciting cowboy action, you don't think it's not only possible, but reasonable and almost predictable that we are going to suddenly find ourselves overextended and surrounded by little hornets that have figured out that a squadron of tiny airplanes were capable of pestering King Kong off the top of the Empire State Building?

How you gonna keep them down on the farm, after your National Guard is all shot up or overextended beyond all reason? Somebody's got to wear the GI Joe suits - who ya gonna get, without a draft, if the situation escalates further? How are you going to explain to the American people that we've gone from "Getting Bin Laden" to swatting at an amorphous barrage of snipers on another fifty fronts?

Yep. Bear Baiting. Ice Cracking. Ass over Tincups.
posted by Perigee at 11:07 AM on January 24, 2006


We don't have a military option against Iran -- at least not if "success" of some kind in Iraq is at all important. Even small air strikes in Iran carry a significant risk to our already failing mission in Iraq.

So we either find a diplomatic way to persuade Iraq to not get nukes, or they go ahead and get 'em.

Welcome to the bed you made, America. Now sleep in it.
posted by teece at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2006


srboisvert writes "Erasing all signs of the industrial age? Still very doable for the U.S."

Is this even an option in the modern era? Are you suggesting the preemptive use of nuclear weapons?

I don't think war can be fought like that anymore. GWB has proved me wrong before, though!
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on January 24, 2006


Even small air strikes in Iran carry a significant risk to our already failing mission in Iraq.

What risk? Iran is already doing their utmost to prevent Iraq from stabilizing, letting arms and insurgents trickle across the border. Don't flatter yourself: your government is not the only one capable of sanctimony, deception and misanthropy on a massive scale.
posted by ori at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2006


Welcome to the bed you made, America. Now sleep in it.

Hey, I didn't vote for this fucking bullshit administration. I'm convinced a majority of Americans didn't, either time.
posted by wakko at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2006


“we are going to get fucking pwned in a real war” - wakko.
“You mistake superior firepower for strength” - anonpeon

“Don't be so proud of this technological terror you've constructed... the ability to destroy a country is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - Darth Vader

It’s not the tool, it’s the workman. The U.S. military is unsurpassed in combat power.

But using finely crafted automotive tools to drive nails into hardwood isn’t the best use of the materials at hand.

There seems to be agreement that the administration is screwing the pooch regularly (yeah, Iraqi ‘insurgents’ teaming up with Iran - who could have seen that coming? Hurricane in New Orleans doing damage? These aren’t the droids you’re looking for) - so where’s the argument?

The issue isn’t how good the U.S. military is or whether we can/should/will get men to fight.
The issue is whether the administrations’ policies are self-defeating.
In this case, I think it’s rather obvious.
Whether it’s by design is another issue.
In either case I don’t think there is any doubt the U.S. would not be able to shoulder an Iranian campaign alone. It looks as though we might not have to. Which makes the initial premise - that we should use military action in Iran - look more viable.

Not that I agree with that premise. Not only for practical and (some) ethical reasons, but for strategic reasons.
I mean China is still a serious factor. What happens if they raise a serious beef with Taiwan, start backing North Korea strongly - etc. and all our muscle is stuck in a land war in Asia?
No thanks.

Great title by the way insomnia_lj
posted by Smedleyman at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2006


Indeed - considering the the movie, very evocative of the situation: poor intelligence, heavier than expected resistance, etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2006


So bears don’t hibernate in the backwoods O' New England?
posted by Tenuki at 11:55 AM on January 24, 2006


What risk? Iran is already doing their utmost to prevent Iraq from stabilizing, letting arms and insurgents trickle across the border. Don't flatter yourself: your government is not the only one capable of sanctimony, deception and misanthropy on a massive scale.

Do you have proof of that or are you just mimicking Scott MacClellan?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2006


Yahoo Answers:

"Relatively speaking, bears don't hibernate very deeply. They need to keep their body temperatures up in order to care for cubs, which are born during winter and suckled by a slumbering mother. Be warned -- if you disturb a hibernating bear, it will wake up."

Hibernating bear =/ Buck Rogers
posted by Perigee at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2006


Gimmie a break. Fighting a war with U.S. ? Whomever tries it will get knocked flat.

Tell that to China.
posted by Balisong at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2006


Wait? What? A Shi'ite leader supporting Iran?

Damn. Damn. Not that anyone needed any proof things aren't going as planned over there, but damn, this really, really good evidence the US has seriously fucked up.
posted by schroedinger at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2006


schroedinger writes "Wait? What? A Shi'ite leader supporting Iran?"

Sarcasm, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2006


Schroedinger, while I detect a bit od sarcasm in your tone, I'd also like to point out to you that Sadr is an Arab Shi'ite leader.

Sometimes Shia/Sunni rivalry trumps Arab/Persian rivalry, sometimes it doesn't.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2006


Looks like a mandate!
posted by Balisong at 12:17 PM on January 24, 2006


Sound like the fundamentalists there and here have got a great plan for the future. Yet somehow I think I've heard it all before . . .
posted by washburn at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2006


I have the presz approval at
CNN/USA Today/Gallup 1/20-22/06 43% + 54% -


ARG Poll: ... Among Americans registered to vote, 37% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 35% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 60% disapprove. ...
posted by amberglow at 12:44 PM on January 24, 2006


mr_roboto and Pallomacho, I wish I could say I was being sarcastic, but I am actually an idiot who forgot the Iranian majority was Shi'a, not Sunni, and a major cause of Iran-Iraq tensions was Hussein's Iraq.

Move along! Move along!
posted by schroedinger at 1:02 PM on January 24, 2006


and meanwhile, we're voting WITH Iran when it comes to us gays: The United States joined with four of the world's most repressive regimes to reject an application by two international LGBT groups seeking to join a UN agency that advises the world body on economics and social issues.
The application by the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians was dismissed without a hearing. The groups had sought inclusion on the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a think tank made up of non governmental agencies from around the world.
The United States voted with Iran, Zimbabwe, China, Cameroon against granting a hearing for the application.
...

posted by amberglow at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2006


Perigee: When a country already viewed as a bully in the Muslim world comes down, wipes out one country for breakfast and scarfs a second one down for lunch... you don't think that's not baiting the Middle East Muslim states?

Except Iran's nuclear program was concealed from the IAEA for nearly two decades. It's not a response to Afghanistan and Iraq. And as to Afghanistan, its pre-invasion off-the-charts bad behavior had drawn the US and Iran closer together, at least in that one area.

So, it is false to say that Iran's nuclear program is a response to US bear-bating.

The US invasion of Iraq is not the root of all evil.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2006


Except Iran's nuclear program was concealed from the IAEA for nearly two decades.

Wait, time out, it wasn't concealed, it just wasn't being undertaken with American teachers in their classrooms or American architects, engineers and contractors designing and building their facilities any more.

So, it is false to say that Iran's nuclear program is a response to US bear-bating.

So, yes, given that we started their nuclear program under the Shah, then it's true that it wasn't a bear-bait that started it. Unless, of course you were talking about the Russian bear...

Recently, the revolutionaries have been seeking to renew their program in a way that hasn't been seen since the Nixon/Shah era. This renewed interest is because of what? Iranian bear baiting.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2006


By the way, the Iranian Nuke story is down the page, this one's about Sadr.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:39 PM on January 24, 2006


Wait, time out, it wasn't concealed

Yes, it was. I didn't realize that Iran started its program when it was a US ally; do you have a link for that? Wish I could hang around, but I'm done posting for the day now.

Iran says its nuclear work aims only to generate civilian electricity. But it concealed atomic development activities from the IAEA for 18 years until 2003, raising Western suspicions.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2006


Iran is the new Germany

Syria is the new Italy

and North Korea is the new Japan

The UN is the new league of nations

Sadr is the new ... I don't have a parallel for him - anyone?

You're going to say I'm just taking the Bush Bait. I'm going to say that I'm just listening to what the leaders of each of the countries sworn to destroy the US say. You're going to say I'm a neocon. I'm going to point out that being unpopular in my positions doesn't make me wrong. You're going to make say something about America bringing it on herself by funding the Iranians and giving them WMDs (wasn't that the Soviets?) and on and on and nothing will be solved. I'm going to stop putting words in your mouth. You're going to say nasty things about me, if you have anything to say at all.

Metafilter: one big internet group hug with nuclear arms.

/long day
posted by swerdloff at 2:54 PM on January 24, 2006


What risk? Iran is already doing their utmost to prevent Iraq from stabilizing, letting arms and insurgents trickle across the border. Don't flatter yourself: your government is not the only one capable of sanctimony, deception and misanthropy on a massive scale.

I won't flatter myself if you promise not to try and read my mind (as you suck at it).

If we bomb Iran, that "trickle" that you claim exists between Iran and Iraq will become a flood. We can barely hang on in Iraq right now. Throw in some new arms, and safe haven in Iran, and it's enough to end up forcing America out of Iraq stat.

Do a little research on the actual sustaining power of the US military. At our current casualty rates, we are going home in a few months whether we like it or not (probably leaving a few 10k behind). Increase the casualty rates even a bit, and America has no choice but to turn tail and run, in the here and now.

We don't have the man power to sustain what we are doing in Iraq right now. We sure as hell can't sustain an even more infuriated Iraqi populace, and an Iran with little to lose by lending a helping hand.

It's a simple fact of the all volunteer army: you either win quick, or you don't win. Rational humans don't sign up to fight and die in a war of choice for which they have no passion.
posted by teece at 3:18 PM on January 24, 2006


Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons, contrary to its treaty obligations

That same treaty also places obligations on nuclear powers to work towards disarmament. Which I don't see the USA, France or the UK doing very much of.
posted by wilful at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2006


"Iran is already doing their utmost to prevent Iraq from stabilizing, letting arms and insurgents trickle across the border."

That's their utmost? Hah. Iran isn't doing dick, compared to what they could do. As for "letting" arms and insurgents trickle across the border, I'm sure that their puny western border would be really easy to secure through conventional means, without the help of massive fences, motion detectors, cameras, etc.

That's a 910 mile border, btw. 650% longer than the border between California and Mexico... and we all know how hard it is for people to cross there.

You bomb Iran, and we won't be dealing with a people trickling across the border. We'll be dealing with a deluge. Hell, the Iranian government might not have to do a thing to provoke such a response, but odds are they will.

"Rational humans don't sign up to fight and die in a war of choice for which they have no passion."

But what if they're irrational? Hell... what if they're as dumb as a post?

... not even if they get free iTunes?! ;-)
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:01 PM on January 24, 2006


Incidentally, those that point to a trickle of arms into Iraq turning into a flood, should also look to Iran's eastern border where we also have vulnerable troops, Afghanistan. Dari, one of the main languages of Afghanistan is just street Farsi so there won't even be translation problems when they haggle prices.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:02 PM on January 24, 2006


If I were an Iranian who was bombed by the US, I would seriously think of visiting both Mecca *AND* Najaf on my upcoming pilgrimage... and culturally, it's hard for any follower of Islam to say no to pilgrims.

Tightly restricted, closed borders are just not traditionally a part of Islamic countries. Ask any Bedoin!
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:13 PM on January 24, 2006


I would say this is why the Iranians (presumably) want nukes... not to attack with, but to defend with. In a world with one major superpower nuclear threat is a major deterrent to being attacked.

I daresay having a nuke is the only viable deterrent against US attack.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:14 PM on January 24, 2006


Tightly restricted, closed borders are just not traditionally a part of Islamic countries. Ask any Bedouin!

You are getting Arabs and Persians mixed up again. Persians have been an Imperial Nation State since they were bothering the Athenians. There is an Iranian saying I've probably written before on MeFi that goes:

"While the dogs of Isfahan are lapping ice water, the Arabs in the desert are dying of thirst."
posted by Pollomacho at 4:22 PM on January 24, 2006


"I would say this is why the Iranians (presumably) want nukes... not to attack with, but to defend with."

And if your country lacks rich deposits of uranium, and those you do have produce materiel of such poor quality that they could actually damage the centrifuges if you try to refine it, and if you only had enough existing materiel to make maybe a single crude nuclear weapon -- think Fat Man, not suitcase nukes -- you're going to give your sole deterrent away to Hezbollah, and face certain death through nuclear retaliation, because...?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:36 PM on January 24, 2006


"You are getting Arabs and Persians mixed up again."

Yes, but the Iraqis aren't Iranians and do have Bedoins. They also have Iranian pilgrims crossing the border and visiting their holy sites, or going on to the holy sites of Saudi Arabia, even in times of war.

Its the relative weakness of the Iraqi border that matters, and from what I hear, the border isn't particularly secure anywhere, and bribing (or being asked for a bribe...) by the border guards is still a common occurance.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:48 PM on January 24, 2006


From the above link:

"Iranian officials have introduced experimental legal crossings in a bid to stem a massive tide of pilgrims making perilous illegal journeys. . . At least 200 have been killed during the crossing, mainly by bandits, unscrupulous smugglers or land mines."

The question is, 200 died out of how many? 20,000? 200,000?! That's a lot of Iranians.

Just 2000 well-trained, well-armed, well-funded Iranians could cause an awful lot of ruckus inside of Iraq, training, arming, and hiring others, organizing resistance cells of desperate, unemployed, all-too-willing Iraqis.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:57 PM on January 24, 2006


What about the nuclear material we gave them for research in the 60's. Also, our geographical information about the mineral resources are from about the same time.

Iran is largely breccia and sandstone. Much of the world's uranium deposits are found in breccia and sandstone, usually in conjunction with other minerals (like iron, copper, lead, gold, tungsten), the same other minerals in fact extracted from Iran's mines. Would it be too big a stretch to believe they may have found more and/or better stuff and didn't tell us?
posted by Pollomacho at 4:59 PM on January 24, 2006


Bribery at borders? Never.

The US/Mexico border isn't particularly secure and you don't see smuggling and bribery going on there do you?

Seriously though, there are a lot of Iranians inside Iraq now, but more importantly, and the main importance of the story, there are a LOT of Arab Shia in the SW of Iran. You are right that Iranian citizens (whatever their ethnicity) are most certainly going on pilgrimages to holy sites, most of which are in Iraq. I would say there's probably well over 2000 decently armed, decently trained Iranian citizens (whatever their ethnicity) already in Iraq causing bringing all sorts of ruckus to us mother-fuckus.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:06 PM on January 24, 2006


"What about the nuclear material we gave them for research in the 60's."

Nuclear material? Are you talking about that stuff that you put on watch hands which makes them glow in the dark, or do you have any evidence that we give them a considerable amount of uranium suitable to be turned into a nuclear weapon? Don't you think the recent IAEA investigation would've mentioned something about this?

"Also, our geographical information about the mineral resources are from about the same time."

The IAEA investigated them quite recently for some amount of time, and presumably insisted on access to the latest records on Iran's uranium mining efforts and mineral resources. Globalsecurity cites geological information and monitoring around 1980 or so, but presumably the IAEA have data that is even more recent, yet they seem to think that there's no imminent danger.

"Would it be too big a stretch to believe they may have found more and/or better stuff and didn't tell us?"

As the article said, "the quality of UF6 produced at Isfahan was so poor that it could not be used at Iran's massive enrichment site at Natanz."

So, why were the Iranians caught covertly trying to produce and enrich shite?!

This isn't to say that they don't have some resources and information that we aren't aware of, but based on what we know, I'm not all that impressed.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:19 PM on January 24, 2006


swerdloff WINS!

Manufacturing has been taking a shit in the U.S. for decades. That is very dangerous in the big economic picture. Ford is dying not to mention GM etc. The best thing for us, just like it was in the late '30s is to have such an exspansive war as to rebuild the manufacturing sector.
posted by snsranch at 5:41 PM on January 24, 2006


We built them a research reactor, I'd assume we gave them something to research with, no? Maybe it was a cup full of plutonium or something, but it was something.

The article doesn't necessarily state that it is the quality of Uranium that is at fault, but that the manufactured UF6 is of poor quality. Perhaps it is the Isfahan plant that needs improvement rather than the raw materials?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:51 PM on January 24, 2006


Incidentally, this is all my ass talking, IANaNS (I am not a nuclear scientist).
posted by Pollomacho at 5:54 PM on January 24, 2006


Are you suggesting the preemptive use of nuclear weapons?

I am not suggesting anything! I am just stating that the U.S. military isn't even close to incapacitated. Ground troops are tied up in the tar pit for sure but who cares about occupying Iran? The U.S. can easily rain bombs on them and dismantle their nuke capacity. It would be easy. Political fallout is another story altogether - that munition was spent long ago...


Tell that to China.


I was thinking more about wars that would actually happen. China or even Russia are things I don't want to even imagine.
posted by srboisvert at 6:02 PM on January 24, 2006


The U.S. can easily rain bombs on them and dismantle their nuke capacity. It would be easy.

Oh, yeah, because that's all you have to do to totally incapacitate 70 million angry people (and that's just the Iranians in Iran).

Momentary Derail: On a lighter and only very, VERY slightly related note. (wmv)
posted by Pollomacho at 6:08 PM on January 24, 2006


Pollomacho - can you please try and read what is actually in my message? Dampen partisan emotion and engage forebrain.

I said - dismantle their nuke capacity. Not occupy their country. To repeat. Dismantle nuke capacity. Not occupy country.

BTW - I am NOT in favour of this (Canadian peacenik and all) . I just think it is disingenuous to pretend that the capacity for it doesn't exist when the U.S. could quite easily fly thousands of sorties into Iran.

I recently read a quote from an Israeli general (was it posted here perhaps?) where he was asked how far Israel would go to stop Iran's nuke program.

He responded "About 2000 miles".

I also read that Iran had a dispersed nuke program of about 1000 sites. During the Gulf War I the air forced averaged ~ 2400 sorties a day. So in a couple of days they should be able to disable a large portion of the infrastructure needed for bomb building.
posted by srboisvert at 6:25 PM on January 24, 2006


Yes, logic is such partisan rhetoric.

I know you didn't say anything about occupation, but you imply that the Iranians aren't going to start flooding into the region and the rest of the world and fight us by any means at their disposal if we just fly sorties? It's so simple.

Additionally, if you looked at the original link, a large faction of Iraqis have just pledged to assist Iran if we tried just that. No, we wouldn't have to occupy Iran, but do you think that it's some kind of cake walk. What happens on the ground in Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Los Angeles (aka Tehrangeles)?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:42 PM on January 24, 2006



Yes, the airstrikes would be an absolute cakewalk.

Would there be fallout? Sure. More heat in Iraq courtesy of Iran? Maybe - I don't how much Iran is contributing to Iraq's trouble now but probably they could step it up (though they don't need to - Iran is the big winner in the Iraqi occupation). Would this be a deterrent in deciding whether to go after Iran's nuke capability? Personally, I doubt it. Those risks are rightly perceived as much more manageable than a nuclear Iran would be.

As for Los Angeles, who in the current administration cares? People get killed in urban centers everyday in the U.S. Just ask Rumsfeld.

The real deterrent will be geopolitics - Russian, Chinese and European pressure will stop the U.S. from attacking a key oil supplier and trading partner and the lack of 1000 sortie air power will stop or limit Israel.

Considering that at the start I was only arguing that the capability for airstrikes existed, rather than trying to make the case for them, I am not sure how we even ended up here.
posted by srboisvert at 7:11 PM on January 24, 2006


"I said - dismantle their nuke capacity. Not occupy their country. To repeat. Dismantle nuke capacity. Not occupy country."

Nobody is saying that any potential Iranian nuclear weapons program can't be slowed by blowing up those things we know they have, such as their known nuclear facilities, their known mines, their known places where they could manufacture centrifuges, etc. That's quite a few air strikes over a very big area, but it could be done.

The whole premise of the post, however, is that if the US does this, the conflict will be taken to us in Iraq... and in Afghanistan too, I suspect.

Let me shoot a quick hypothetical at you.

The buildup: The world knows an attack is on the way, Iran threatens oil supplies. Price of oil hits $85 a barrel. British government, fearing for its soldiers in southern Iraq, tries to intervene through backchannels, but is armtwisted by the US to make strong statements that make the threat to Iran credible should they not comply fully. They try desperately to purge militia influence from the reins of power in Basra and other southern Iraqi cities, leading many in SCIRI and the Badr Brigades to demand action from their leaders to stop such purges. SCIRI leaders demur.

The attack: US strikes over a dozen different targets in Iran. They do satellite recon on their targets to verify their destruction, but given that the attacks are on hardened facilities and were initially done against the most dangerous targets using somewhat less accurate missiles rather than stealth bombers, etc., additional attacks are launched over the next few days. These continued attacks further anger an already infuriated Islam.

Week one: Moqtada al-Sadr's forces organize large protests in Baghdad, attracting surprisingly large turnout. Some violence occurs. Iraqi Shi'ite politicians seek to maintain the support of their followers, denouncing the attacks, but not acting directly against the US or the status quo that keeps them at the top of the heap. This is not enough for many Shi'ites, who feel betrayed by previous purges. SCIRI, the Badr Brigades, and other Shi'ites begin to form splinter groups violently opposed to the US occupation. A movement starts to form attempting to unite Sunni and Shi'ite opposition against the occupation, while still being against indiscriminate violence a la Zarqawi.

Week two: Protests and violence grow in the Shi'ite south, leading to conflicts between protesters and British forces. The British public is alarmed. Articles come out linking the violence to possible Iranian infiltration. Iran officially denies involvement, but an increased number of Iranians are caught trying to infiltrate into Iraq. Violence escalates in Baghdad, as US troops raid mosques and arrest minor religious leaders in the Sadr movement, drawing further violent protests. A greatly increased number of Iranian citizens are captured by US forces during insurgency missions. Bush threatens Iranian leadership with an expansion of airstrikes if they don't stop spreading violence in Iraq.

Week three: A terrorist bomb attack occurs near Iran's oil facilities. Iranian leaders call for attacks upon gulf shipping. Iranians see pictures of dead women and children on TV, huge anti-US protests occur in Tehran, as a hundred thousand Iranians chant "death to America" and volunteer to martyr themselves in large numbers. Some begin to march towards Iraq. Oil prices top $100 a barrel. US citizens complain loudly as gas prices close in on $4 a gallon. Coalition allies such as Japan, Poland, Italy, etc. suddenly face much stronger opposition at home for continued involvement in an environment that has suddenly become much more dangerous. US soldiers are forced to rely on MREs and stay confined to base under most circumstances, as unrest disrupts the supply chain for several of their bases. US satellites notice disturbing troop movements on the Iranian / Iraqi border. AP news reports a small boat packed with explosives has blown itself up next to an oil tanker. Insurers institute considerable price raises on all tanker cargo that goes into the Persian Gulf.

Now, here we have a situation where two nations are on the brink of fullscale war, each in fear of what the other will do next, and things are royally, unsustainably screwed.

The scary part of this theoretical, however, is that all of these things could easily happen without any intent of either the US or Iran to go to war at all.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2006


So, let's say the US bombed Canada, repeatedly and took out all it's nuclear sites. The Canadians are not going to get pissed at all and do anything? No troops? No shooting? No maple syrup embargo?

We're talking a nation of 70 million people sitting on the entire Persian Gulf, including controlling it's choke point the Strait of Hormuz the only means of accessing 3/5 of the world's oil supply and half it's natural gas. Yes, cakewalk.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:36 PM on January 24, 2006


If the USA invades Iran, it will go badly. It would be exceptionally difficult for any nation to maintain friendly political terms with the USA, and it would be difficult for that to not result in economic consequences.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2006


Even if the US only threatens Iran with air strikes, we get screwed royally.

Iraq is a war of hearts and minds. If the Iraqi populace is feeling that the US is beating up Iran, yet the official Iraqi government line is that the US bombings are A-OK, that alone is probably enough to heat things up in Iraq to really fuck over the troops there.

But that would only be the beginning of it. We are now near peak oil -- we need Iran more than they need us. They can shut down their oil spigots if they feel truly threatened. The economists that I've heard talk about this speak in doomsday terms. The oil flowed freely during the embargo of the '70s. Not so much today. There simply is no slack today -- Iran can cripple Western economies with oil shortages if they feel threatened enough.

The incredibly unstable situation on two of Iran's borders, created by US military blundering, make a really nasty situation much, much worse.

It amazes me how so many people still haven't wrapped their minds around what an amazing blunderer Bush is. The US's air-strike capability is not important here -- a military is constrained by political reality.

Right now, a nuclear armed Iran is the best scenario on the table, not the worst, amazingly.
posted by teece at 10:13 PM on January 24, 2006


"Right now, a nuclear armed Iran is the best scenario on the table, not the worst, amazingly."

I wouldn't say it's the best scenario. The best scenario is if the US made a statement acknowledging Iran's legal and soveriegn right to refine their uranium, but also clearly stating that Iran does not have the right to develop nuclear weapons, and indicating their willingness to deal with Iran along those lines.

That said, a nuclear armed Iran is not the worst possible scenario unless it really is Iran's intention to commit a highly illogical and improbable act of national suicide.

The worst possible scenario is if we get locked in combat with Iran, either inside of Iraq, or, worse still, inside Iran, and are forced through either political or military necessity to leave. Either we would give Iraq over to Iranians, or we would overreach and overextend our supply lines, watch them get whittled away at when they stretch the nearly 1000 hostile miles to Tehran, and most likely there, face a Stalingrad, a Little Big Horn, or, quite possibly, a scenario like Napoleon in Moscow, where we might win all the battles, but are forced into a costly and embarassing retreat.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:11 PM on January 24, 2006


Oops. Wrong about distance from Kuwait to Tehran... it's about a third less, I believe. That said, there are parts of Iran that are even more remote, and I think it might be wishful thinking to expect to supply any invasion overland from Afghanistan, as the UN might frown on that. The US don't have nearly as many troops there anyways.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:03 AM on January 25, 2006


Why even pretend this is a discussion? I surrender.
posted by srboisvert at 2:14 AM on January 25, 2006


ibmcginty , your thinking, and the thinking of the yodies I saw up in the backwoods is similar, insofar as you're concentrating so hard on your main objective, you're not paying attention to your wider environment.

Now, understand this, for it is fair and vital that it be understood: Nobody in the world cares anymore if our cause is just. They don't care. Perception is reality - maybe that skank was that Iraqi's Dominatrix, and he was paying her off in cigarettes; maybe you have proof; maybe you could trot him up on stage and have him sing love songs to her with a ukelele. They don't care. They don't believe you.

You could have all the "righteous" and "just" reasons in the world for playing with Iran - none of them matter to the folks in the Middle East who have perceived America as murderers, torturers and usurpers. To them, you will say anything- to them, you couldn't tell a truth without it burning your mouth. Where are our troops in Saudi Arabia? Not there. And they won't be invited back. Afghanistan is still a free-fire zone. Iraq... well that's still obvious enough from the evening news.

Where is your fall-back position, if things (inevitably) go wrong? Who can you trust? How strong is the ice,when the bears turn on you?
posted by Perigee at 6:44 AM on January 25, 2006


Perigree, I am at a loss for which of my points you are trying to refute.

The beginning, middle, and end of what I have said is that Iran's nuclear program is long-standing, so it cannot be viewed as a reaction to the US invasion of Iraq.

I have said nothing as to the wisdom or desirability of a US invasion of Iran. Are you arguing that an invasion of Iran would result in a backlash in the Middle East?

Please refrain from similes and metaphors in your response in order to enhance the chances that readers can find it comprehendible.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:32 AM on January 25, 2006


My point is that you're seeing the Iran problem and the Iraq problem as two separate problems is not neccessarily the way the Middle Eastern countries see it - because simply they may choose not to see it that way, because we're devils, or demons or whatever our going dogmatic epithet is. It can be viewed any way any cleric wants to spin it, no matter how well-grounded your arguments might be. Truth and perception. WMDs in Iraq. Muslims hate us our way of life. Any number of rediculous rationalizations can be beat into a froth and served up hot.

Is the Iran problem long-standing? Hell yeah. Can some crazed, flag-burning crowd in Syria, SA, Palistine, Iraq, Iran, what have you ignore that completely and sell it to a crowd as just another imperial move by the US who hates them for their way of life?

Of course. To think otherwise is foolish to a suicidal degree. It's not hearing the ice cracking.

Please refrain from believing that your thinking is so crystaline and inarguable that the whole universe will instantly want to fall in line with your line of thinking.
posted by Perigee at 8:26 AM on January 25, 2006


OK! Now I get it-- your point is, it doesn't matter when Iran began its nuclear program, you think that the Middle East will rally around Iran's program out of dislike for the US.

That's true to an extent. Many Iraqis won't be pleased to see an Iranian bomb, though.

Also, I don't think it will affect the UN's decision of how to handle the situation.

Are you arguing that, because the US is unpopular in the Middle East, the Security Council should refrain from taking any action such as the imposition of sanctions on Iran?
posted by ibmcginty at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2006


The security council should do whatever it is capable of doing - the one thing the US has to do is stay as far back from the fixins as possible, in order not to further hostilize (if such a word exists) the region against us.

And, of course, as The Chimp pointed out a couple of years ago, the UN is essentially a toothless agency that will try to talk a problem into submission - that's why he went all Lone Ranger on Iraq with his silly "coalition of the willing."

In any case, we're there, and now we're expecting the UN to do something proactive when we've already dismissed the UN as an active force for positive change politically. I wouldn't expect the UN to come up with a solution we're going to find acceptable... or even slightly effective. But they're now all we've got, and we need to leave them do their thing without bullying them - at which point the UN will be seen as an extension of American will, and here we go 'round again.

I guess what I'm arguing is that the US has reached the limits of their reasonable extention of military action in the region without having the sides of the hole collapse on us - vastly increasing insurgents, shadow support for them in Muslim governments, pressure in those countries to squeeze us from the oil taps, etc. We could have dealt with the thrat of Iran if we didn't immerse ourselves with the non-threat of Iraq, but ces't la guerre.

Now, we have to be smart for a change, and not pull more damage down upon our limited military assets than they can handle by expanding new fronts and making a whole new batch of patriots pop out of the sand.
posted by Perigee at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2006


Whether or not the mid-East likes the USA is not important. The USA is already up shit-creek when it comes to relationships with the mid-East.

What is important is the reaction your trading partners have to any military actions you take. I'm pretty damn convinced that most of your economic partners are deeply distrustful of your nation. Invading Iran would tip the balance.

The USA can not afford to have its partners call in its debts, can not afford to have its partners reject the FTAs, can not afford to see a devaluation of its dollar, can not afford to see us start focusing on global trade instead of US trade.

War with Iran is economic suicide.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 AM on January 25, 2006


From the same statement Sadr made, offering to defend Iran.

"America said that if the elected government were to ask it to withdraw its forces from Iraq, it would do so. That's what they said. When the government is established, the faithful believers in this government will demand that the occupation forces leave Iraq. If the forces leave - this is our goal. If America does not withdraw its forces, it will be exposed, and its plots in Iraq and the Middle East will be exposed."
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:51 PM on January 25, 2006


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