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September 20, 2006 3:55 PM   Subscribe

The End of The "Summer of Diplomacy": Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran (PDF). "In a new report for The Century Foundation, Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner warns that powerful voices in the Bush administration are making the case for air strikes aimed not only at setting back Iran’s nuclear program, but also at toppling the country’s government. He says that these officials are undeterred by the concerns of military leaders about whether such attacks would be effective." [Via The Agonist and FDL.]
posted by homunculus (63 comments total)

 
Oh good, they aren't even trying to rile up public support this time. Very prudent (golf clap).
posted by Laugh_track at 4:02 PM on September 20, 2006


Well it will certainly save them valuable time. Well done sirs.
posted by lekvar at 4:07 PM on September 20, 2006


What a shock. No mention of Iran's proposed oil bourse, which would trade on the Euro instead of the dollar (the real reason the U.S. will invade Iran).
posted by wfc123 at 4:20 PM on September 20, 2006


I'm just going on memory here, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Israelis bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities a few years ago forcing them to relocate their operations deep underground?

If that is the case, anything we use to bomb them is going to leave a lot of collateral damage. Especially if we don't have pin-point intel as to their location. Which, from what I've been reading, we don't.

How could this possibly be a good idea?
posted by quin at 4:21 PM on September 20, 2006


Once an empire starts "conquering," it has to keep trying to do so, whether it works or not. It's all psychological or something.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:22 PM on September 20, 2006


Argh! [from the 'Making the case' link]

"It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq," said one U.S. counterterrorism official


So Iran is being controled by a secular despot whom we have to overthrow so that we can spread Democracy? Let me make a wild guess, we will be greeted as liberators and the war will pay for itself. Also, reconstruction efforts will cost less that $1.5b. Right?

Right?

Chickenhawk Pigfuckers.
posted by quin at 4:26 PM on September 20, 2006


quin: I'm just going on memory here, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Israelis bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities a few years ago forcing them to relocate their operations deep underground?

You're thinking of Iraq. That was back in 1981.
posted by russilwvong at 4:32 PM on September 20, 2006


But that worked, russil. There were no nuclear facilities in Iraq when we invaded!

So IT WILL WORK AGAIN, YAY!!!111!!!!OMGWTFBBQ!!11!!!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:34 PM on September 20, 2006


You're thinking of Iraq. That was back in 1981.

And not so much "forced deep underground" as completely destroyed.
posted by dreamsign at 4:38 PM on September 20, 2006


They're going to do it. They're going to kill millions of innocent Iranians, put every single one of the 150,000 US troops in Iraq directly in the line of fire of every Iraqi Shiite (many of who are now armed and trained by said US troops, although not nearly as many as Rumsfeld fantasizes about), and send gasoline to 8$/gallon.

All because they've been wrong every fucking step of the way, with regards to everything they've laid a hand on (they even managed to fuck up rebuilding Afghanistan, the one objectively good effort after 9/11), and now it's time for the Hail Mary.

A Dem-controlled House, Senate, or both would be a bit of a speed bump, but expect a Winter/Spring "Surprise" in the form of some kind of staged border intervention between Iran and Iraq (I dunno -- maybe a truckload of weapons marked "FOR HAMAS, LUV IRAN" found on the roads to Basra and Baghdad. Tonkin Gulf didn't take much either.). And then the bombing starts, including low-yield nuclear.

Honestly, it was less than a decade ago when writing the above would have been the height of tinfoildom. Now, it's obvious to anyone with eyes.

Fuck Republicans. Even the ones who're now meekly rising to oppose Bush just a wee little bit (Powell, McCain, Graham, et al.), where the fuck were you when anyone who questioned Bush or Cheney was asked "Why do you hate America?"
posted by bardic at 4:43 PM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Its getting to the point where the only rational, and its hardly that, explanation I can find for any of this behavior is that they really do want to bring about some sort of Apocalypse.

"dance with the one that brung ya'" can be a drag when the ones that brung W are hankerin' for the end times.
posted by hwestiii at 4:45 PM on September 20, 2006


Not just an Apocalypse though, but one that's very good for (typically Republican) businesses like energy and arms.
posted by bardic at 4:48 PM on September 20, 2006


Thanks russilwvong, I think I may have been conflating two different events. It seems the Iranian response to Osirak was to move their bunkers underground and not operate from a centralized location. The Israelis didn't attack them, but the Iranians learned a lesson from it nevertheless.

Either way, I think it's safe to say that their nuclear program is not based at any kind of soft target which can be easily gotten.
posted by quin at 4:48 PM on September 20, 2006


Also, much is made of the fact that the Iranian people don't really like their government, and some in DC think that an invasion of some sort might embolden them to overthrow the mullahs.

This is another thing I find almost impossible to believe. Here is our President who at worst was granted his office by judicial fiat, and at best won it by the tiniest margin in U.S history, who se strength in the past 5 years derives primarily from the countries spontaneous unification around him following 9/11. And they think that the Iranian people won't behave in precisely the same manner towards Ahmadinejad in the face of a U.S. attack on Iran?

How completely dettached from reality can our leaders really be? I don't know what's more frightening, that they might actually do it, or that they really are nuts enough to believe it will work.
posted by hwestiii at 4:56 PM on September 20, 2006


From Time Magazine's cover story "What Would War Look Like?" posted Sunday, September 17:
"The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. ..."
We've got to get this going soon, if we're going to have a full blown war crisis by Election Day.
posted by paulsc at 5:17 PM on September 20, 2006


I... yeah. I just don't get it. I'll just copy and paste hwestiii:

How completely dettached from reality can our leaders really be? I don't know what's more frightening, that they might actually do it, or that they really are nuts enough to believe it will work.
posted by brundlefly at 5:25 PM on September 20, 2006


Look at a map of Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan. Think back to your old Risk boardgame days. Work backwards. Is it a coincidence there are troops in Afghanistan? How did they get there?
posted by Osmanthus at 5:33 PM on September 20, 2006


The old "could we" debate, instead of the more relevant "should we" debate. I believe this is called framing the argument.

The most important element of the Time story is that the Navy is getting ready to deploy. Some speculate that this illegal action, A naval presence in a foreign port, is meant to provoke Iran into military action. Our leaders as will claim this as unprovoked aggression, and we will be compelled to defend ourselves with air strikes &t. If this happens, the context-free American public will back a war. Benefits: October surprise, more oil, more corporate redistribution of our tax dollars, and, heck, maybe they can revoke some more of our hard-won rights too.
posted by luckypozzo at 5:39 PM on September 20, 2006


Fuck Republicans. Even the ones who're now meekly rising to oppose Bush just a wee little bit (Powell, McCain, Graham, et al.), where the fuck were you when anyone who questioned Bush or Cheney was asked "Why do you hate America?"

I wouldn't say fuck republicans exactly, but you're right that this is down to more than the actions of a handful of men. This and more is the end result of a completely unworkable political philosophy shared on some level by every member of that party. The left may be moribund is the country, but the right is just plain wrong.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:39 PM on September 20, 2006


I keep thinking I'm going to wake up from this horrible dream that began in November 2000, but it's just not happening.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 5:57 PM on September 20, 2006


Btw, at what point does the Bush/Hitler comparison start seeming not so ridiculous? I'm just curious.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 5:59 PM on September 20, 2006


Probably at the point where large numbers of Americans are rounded up and put into "relocation facilities."

That's probably what it will take to get all this noticed. Of course, if it's not on mainstream television even that won't work.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:09 PM on September 20, 2006


Of course, I should add that as long as there *is* mainstream television, there's probably no need to "relocate" anyone.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:09 PM on September 20, 2006


My money's not on October for bombing Iran. There will be some sort of domestically significant surprise though -- ObL being pronounced dead (although he's probably been dead for years) would be an obvious choice, or some sort of major Democratic scandal, although the latter would be tough to pull off (and if they did, it would have to be a doozy to compete with the Abramoff-Reed-Norquist-Cunningham-Ney-Burns saga). Gasoline prices are falling a bit, no doubt due to some string pulling on the part of Cheney, and Republicans are plannning on taking their lumps this November. The bombing of Iran will come in 2007, right around the time when CNN anchors breathlessly ask themselves, "Is George W. Bush now a lame-duck President?"

So fuck useful idiots like Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews as well.
posted by bardic at 6:25 PM on September 20, 2006


Funny how much of this thread (and zoogleplex's & bardic's post in particular) sounds just like the threads in the run-up to the 2004 election: "They've got Osama, they're just waiting to spring him on us", "we're invading Iran", "they'll start rounding us up and putting us in camps".

Believe me, I hate George W. Bush with the fire of a million burning suns, but at what point do you guys stop with this incredible bullshit?
posted by briank at 7:00 PM on September 20, 2006


Of course it all makes sense when viewed through the lens of the Didion pieced linked to earlier today.

There doesn't have to be a reason. Its simply what Bush/Cheney '04 want, and they're in charge, and they're going to do it.

There's a real heavy air of "fool me once...fool me twice..." to this for me, going all the way back to the last election. American can almost be forgiven for the 2000 election. After all, it was close and it wasn't really decided by the people, so our guilt over Iraq can be diminished a little. But after four years of these yahoos we went ahead and actually re-elected them in their own right with clear indications that their behavior in a second term will be no improvement over the first. Don't bring Ohio into it. As Hugh Hewitt said "if its not close, they can't cheat". It was close and it shouldn't have been.

Americans like to think that we have some sort of special national character that elevates us above the rest of the world. Maybe its the "pioneer spirit" or the whole "melting pot" thing. We think we're different. But I've been wondering about that for a while. I'm starting to wonder if we've just been lucky enough to have a good run of virtuous leaders in the right places or the right times for the last couple hundred years. Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, others. We think the Constitution is special, but its really only a procedural document, and it has no value if, as today, our leaders simply choose to ignore. It can't enforce itself, and those with responsibility to enforce it seem entirely disinclined.

Perhaps W and Dick are simply America's historical reality check. Yes, Sinclair, it can happen here. Torture? Yep. Authoritarianism? Yep. Secret police? Yep. Our president can say with a straight face that the term "outrages against human dignity" is hopelessly vague? And people don't laugh in his face. That's the part that gets me. Tons of outrage over a blowjob, none for torture. Perhaps we're getting what we deserve.
posted by hwestiii at 7:01 PM on September 20, 2006


Simple. An invasion of Iran was unthinkable in 2004. It's not any longer.

Or did you RTFA?
posted by bardic at 7:05 PM on September 20, 2006


NPR on Iran Intel
posted by homunculus at 7:05 PM on September 20, 2006


And I didn't say they've got ObL. I said that it's likely that he's already dead, and they're waiting to spring pics of his corpse for a November boost.

Or did you RTFT?
posted by bardic at 7:06 PM on September 20, 2006


If we're going to make the Bush/Hitler comparison, I'd say Iran is very similar to Poland. Hitler and his civilian administration were arguing to invade against the objections of most of his generals. The generals were torn between knowing that it would likely be the downfall of Germany (because England and France would defend Poland), and being a good soldier and getting to enjoy the added prestige of the military if they were successful. The generals, as we know, went ahead anyway, despite their grave doubts.

This is the downfall of American hegemony, and these adventures in the Middle East are like when a wounded, stricken animal lashes out helplessly one last time.

I'm reminded of a Mandelstam poem...


"My century, my beast, who will be able to look into the pupils of your eyes and stick together the vertebrae of two centuries with his blood? The blood that builds gushes out of earthly things; the parasite only trembles on the threshold of the new days.

The creature, so long as it has enough life left, must carry the backbone to the end; and a wave plays upon the invisible spine...

And the buds will swell again, and the green shoots will sprout. But your spine has been smashed, my beautiful, pitiful age. And you look back, cruel and weak, with an inane smile, like a beast that has once been supple, at the tracks left by your own paws."


posted by bukharin at 7:08 PM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


And I didn't say they've got ObL. I said that it's likely that he's already dead, and they're waiting to spring pics of his corpse for a November boost.

Oh, well that makes all the difference. I stand corrected.

(Pardon me for a moment, I seem to have dripped some excess sarcasm on the blue carpet)
posted by briank at 7:24 PM on September 20, 2006


Do you honestly think that's an outrageous proposition? That the Republican party *gasp* would use some aspect of the GWOT to score political points domestically? If so, there's a bridge I'd like to show you.

As I mentioned, much of what was generally thought to be unthinkable mere years ago is now very much possible. A decades-long occupation of Iraq? Secret prisons where torture takes place? Citizens of sovereign nations, America and otherwise, being held captive with no charges filed against them and with no access to legal counsel?

But your tactic is a tried and true one briank -- anyone who questions Dear Leader must be one of those MichaelMooreNoamChomskyCindySheehan types.

But 2003 called. They want their viable meme back.
posted by bardic at 7:48 PM on September 20, 2006


Yes, removing a country's government with no plan for what will happen after worked out so well in Iraq. But then what the f*ck do Bush and Cheney care? They're not running in 2008, and it's frankly too late to impeach anyway.
posted by clevershark at 8:06 PM on September 20, 2006


Here's my napkin, bardic, wipe the spittle off your mouth.

Don't flatter yourself lumping yourself in with people like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, it doesn't wash. Talk about tired comebacks: "Ooh, you criticized me so I will brand you a right-wing-propaganda-spewing-automaton".

There's a lot to be worried about the serious abuses of the Bush Administration. Looney-tune ranting about producing Osama just in time for the election or arresting half the population of the U.S. just makes you and everyone who buys into that look pathetic. You're just as loathsome as the LGF whack-jobs.
posted by briank at 8:06 PM on September 20, 2006


arresting half the population of the U.S

Never said that champ, but thanks for playing.
posted by bardic at 8:12 PM on September 20, 2006


I think briank may have forgotten how OBL did put in a last-minute surprise appearance in the 2004 elections. One couldn't have asked for better timing. There's some saying out there about those who ignore history...
posted by clevershark at 8:12 PM on September 20, 2006


The simple reason the above scenario will not happen (part from it being a terrible ideza on so many levels) is that Bush and co are oilmenboys, who know what this would do to the cost of oil, and hence to their domestic popularity and the economy. A strike on Iran would put a Democratic lock on the 2008 election. Heck, even Hillary could win!
posted by wilful at 8:19 PM on September 20, 2006


Do you honestly think that's an outrageous proposition? That the Republican party *gasp* would use some aspect of the GWOT to score political points domestically?

That's unpossible!
posted by homunculus at 8:24 PM on September 20, 2006


wilful writes "The simple reason the above scenario will not happen (part from it being a terrible ideza on so many levels) is that Bush and co are oilmenboys, who know what this would do to the cost of oil"

Actually oil companies are raking in record profits thanks to the high price of oil. Oil execs are in a pretty good mood these days.

The dirty little secret is that a war for oil isn't a war for cheap oil.
posted by clevershark at 8:29 PM on September 20, 2006


But if it does happen, it won't be Bush who's responsible. It will be, yet again, the terruhists, this time Iranian ones. It'll be something of a tough sell, but far from impossible. Again, Tonkin Gulf -- you start a war with the intelligence that you can create and disseminate. Convincing Americans that Iran is responsible for a future terrorist attack? Not that hard -- most Americans still think Saddamn did 9/11.

And since when do high gasoline costs hurt American energy companies? They like it that way, for obvious reasons.

I should have linked this recent piece by Charles Krauthammer sooner. The Bush machine is getting their ducks in a row with regards to their latest theme -- that confronting Iran, unlike Iraq, won't be easy, but it has to be done now.

But obviously, I'm the crazy anti-Freeper conspiracy theorist. When a PNAC signer guarantees we're going to war with Iran, I'm the shrill one.
posted by bardic at 8:32 PM on September 20, 2006


*responsible for high gas prices, that is.* Or what clevershark just said.
posted by bardic at 8:33 PM on September 20, 2006




Shorter Krauthammer
posted by homunculus at 8:54 PM on September 20, 2006


homunculus - this is just occurring to you? This is what these guys are all about. Its not just a war, its a wedge issue. Compare this to W's daddy who could easily have done the same but honorably elected not to and had the real debate on the first Gulf War after the mid-terms in 1990.

This is also why there's the sudden rush to get something through Congress regarding the treatment of the Guanatomo detainess. For Christ sake, these guys have been in some form of custody or another for nearly five years iin some cases, but now, because he has an opportunity to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11 again and play gotcha with the Dems, its an emergency. How can the Geneva Conventions or American moral authority compare to 51% in the House?

These guys have no principles or values that any regular American would recognize aside from the accumulation and exercise of power.
posted by hwestiii at 9:07 PM on September 20, 2006


homunculus - this is just occurring to you?

Uh, no.
posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on September 20, 2006


It's a war for cheap oil when you consider that we the public paid for it, and they the oil companies did not. From their point of view, it’s the cheapest oil there is.
posted by luckypozzo at 9:21 PM on September 20, 2006


Breaking news: AP reporting Iranian gunboats attacked US Navy vessels USS Maddox and the USS C. Turner Joy in the Gulf of Tonkin!!!!

(No word on the radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Silesia.)
posted by orthogonality at 11:53 PM on September 20, 2006


Umm, there's this country called China. Seems they pal around with Iran. I don't understand why the admin thinks they're just going to sit back while we cold cock their buddy.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 6:06 AM on September 21, 2006


I was cold-cocked once while my buddy was standing there. Attacking me was just this psycho's way of getting at my buddy, actually. I'd never seen the man before. There was no reason for him to be hostile toward me.
posted by dreamsign at 6:23 AM on September 21, 2006


My aunt, her husband, and their two girls just visited us in California (from Iran) for two weeks, and when I asked them if they were worried about US airstrikes I got a resounding "no". They said they've heard it all for years, and if they freaked out every time someone rattled a saber, they'd never get anything done. I said, "But...but...all these smart people are absolutely convinced it's going to happen!", which only elicited a dismissive head shake from my aunt and her husband.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:33 AM on September 21, 2006


From homunculus' linked article, this sentence fairly leaped off the screen at me:

And the intellectual support of Thomas Friedman, widely considered to be the most influential foreign-policy columnist in the world, was also key.

WTF, OMFG, LOL, as the kids say.
posted by pax digita at 6:39 AM on September 21, 2006


wilful writes "The simple reason the above scenario will not happen (part from it being a terrible ideza on so many levels) is that Bush and co are oilmenboys, who know what this would do to the cost of oil"

You should rent Syriana.
posted by NationalKato at 7:18 AM on September 21, 2006


We have to close the doomsday gap.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:38 AM on September 21, 2006


They are serious about this: Look at this. The headline reads "Iranian President: We Do Need The Bomb" but if you actually read the article, Ahmadinejad says exactly the opposite--that Iran doesn't need the bomb. They're back up to their old tricks. The headline will probably be changed back soon, now that attention's been called to it. But I made a screenshot, which I'll post once I find a place to host it, if anyone misses this.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2006



posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on September 21, 2006


The word "not" has been reinserted into the headline now.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:49 AM on September 21, 2006


They are serious about this: Look at this.

I point this out only because I noticed exactly the same kind of peculiar manipulation of information during the run-up to Iraq-- misleading headlines (headlines being all many people read) that seem to support the admin's positions that are later revised or that continue to evolve over time became common in those days, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2006


ABC always tells the truth, so the original headline must have been right.
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2006


"arresting half the population of the U.S"

briank thinks I said that one, bardic, but I didn't.

Note that I also said there's probably no reason to do so as long as people are kept entertained. These guys have read up on the Romans, they're pretty good at that part. And those posts were largely tongue-in-cheek anyway, so don't be so snotty, brian.

Meanwhile, I'm just hanging out waiting to see what will happen. There are many possibilities. I hope we won't attack Iran, because it would be phenomenally stupid to do so, IMO.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2006


Just fucking ridiculious. It's like their incompetence leads to greater and greater danger and Bullshit. Iran is now a major player in the Middle East thanks to the unholy mess of the Iraq war so now they're obviously the greatest threat to "democracy" (American control) in the world. What happens when Iran turns into an unholy mess and this country's moral credibility will be zero and we'll have to sell most of it to the Chinese just to pay the interest on the national debt. Will we attack China??
posted by Skygazer at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2006


I point this out only because I noticed exactly the same kind of peculiar manipulation of information during the run-up to Iraq-- misleading headlines (headlines being all many people read) that seem to support the admin's positions that are later revised or that continue to evolve over time became common in those days, too.

Exactly.

Look, if a disastrous military confrontation with Iran never happens, good. Thank fucking God. I'm a foreign policy realist who, about two years ago, felt strongly that a bombing of Iran could never happen because of what others have pointed out in this thread -- the price of gasoline would go too high, and Russia and China would send troops to Iran, along with equipment and intel.

But look at the signs, as saulgoodman points out. Look at the Krauthammer piece ("It will be messy and difficult and hard, but we've got to kill more brown people, now!"). We're in the midst of a massive propoganda effort to point out that an asshole holocaust denier who wants Iran to become a major world power (which it is, in economic terms, but not so much in political clout) is actually someone who will nuke Israel the second they get a nuke (which won't happen for at least 10 years according the credible sources, but will happen next week according to "Shooter" Dick Cheney).

The grand irony being, Iran is precisely in this position of growing power because of the US's actions. We took out their enemies to the east (Taliban), and their enemies to the west (Saddam's Iraq). In addition, he came to power because the hard-liners were afraid of US encroachment.

So I agree that China and Russia are signicant issues here. And it would be utterly assinine to get involved in military conflict with them by proxy.

Kind of like an unwinnable, permanent occuptation of Iraq, no? But our current regime does not think rationally, or even in the crudest, most venal terms of Realpolitik. I honestly think Bush is currently taking his cues from Jesus Christ and a Veep who wants to see just how much damage he can wreak before his aorta explodes or he has to leave office. Honestly, they're utter sociopaths, and their values system is currently unrecognizable.
posted by bardic at 2:12 PM on September 21, 2006


"And it would be utterly assinine to get involved in military conflict with them by proxy."

Agreed. However that didn't stop us the last, what was it, three times? More? We've been proxy-fighting both of them since 1946.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:32 PM on September 21, 2006


The October Surprise?
posted by homunculus at 9:44 AM on September 24, 2006


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