July 17, 2004

Ready To Be A Suicide Bomber?

There's a Daily Kos entry on the administration plans, should they get another term in office, to start a new war front with Iran.

Thanks to TBogg, I went trolling for opposition idiocy. The first hit came up gold. Could a person have a more ignorant opinion on the subject than that of Adam Yoshida? Well, yes. But only if you were a member of the idle Republican pundit class. He begins:

With the situation in Iraq coming under control, itís well past time to begin to consider our next target: Iran. ...

He goes on to list some reasons why we should be worried about them. Those could be debated at some other time, but the real question is whether any of the charges that aren't a load of bull should be responded to with an act of war. Iran is not Panama. And, for love of Mike, we're bogged down in two conflicts that are each progressing miserably while boosting our unfavorables in every corner of the world.

...If the Phillipines can be persuaded to withdraw from Iraq by the threat of a single beheading (and the Spaniards by one bombing), how do you think the limp-wristed democracies will respond to the actual live threat of nuclear terror? ...

Well, at least he came out and said it. This is what neocons really think about democracy. It's 'limp-wristed,' and easily subject to falling prey to the wishes of a majority of it's citizens to end participation in conflicts which could cost the lives of their fellows. Unlike the strongman form of government, or democracies whose leaders boldly blow off the wishes of their constituents to go adventuring. The American people are now beginning to think we shouldn't have even gone to war in Iraq, what do you want to bet it would take a 'real' strong-wristed guy with thews of steel and the pigheadedness of a jackhammer to start another boneheaded war.

...So what, then, is to be done? Frankly, an invasion of Iran is probably out of the question for the time being. ...This does not mean, however, that the United States is incapable of action short of an invasion. ...

Yes, and yes, but not in the way you suggest. This particular land war in Asia wouldn't pass the laugh test at the Pentagon. But what we definitely seem to be incapable of is engaging with the country diplomatically, and figuring out something better to offer them than a future full of suspicion and waste.

Colin Powell said yesterday on the Charlie Rose show that Iran should realize that building weapons wouldn't help their people because you "can't eat fissile material." Tell it to Rumsfeld. Seriously, modern day Iran has peaceful and productive trade relationships with all of its neighbors, Europe, China, and most of Asia. The sticking point is the mutual hostility with nuclear-armed Israel, which will be made worse, and not better, by open war. But clearly, this isn't a barely rational hermitage like North Korea.

...We would do well to recall that the real rulers of Iran are not its puppet Parliament and President. The Ayatollahs still run the country and, upon the whole, they are hated by the people. Massive protests against the regime have been stopped only with the use of extreme force. The moment the first American bomb falls upon Iran, youíre going to have massive civil unrest in that country. Iím not saying that the people will overthrow their oppressors overnight. However, with the right sort of incentive they just might. ...

Yes there are protests, and the mullahs are unpopular. But whose picture do the protestors carry, when they want a sloganless way (any such slogan would be forbidden) of saying that they're campaigning for real democracy? It isn't a picture of the Shah, but of Mohammed Mossadeq. The moment the first American bomb falls, people will remember that it was the U.S. who ousted Iran's much beloved first democratic leader, setting the country on a path of dictatorship and bloodshed for 50 years. We don't want to go there.

Secondly, this is the same mistake Saddam Hussein made when he attacked Iran. He only planned to take the Arab region of the country, the adjoining province of Khozestan (kWHO-zes-tan), figuring that they'd rather be part of an Arab country. He guessed wrong. They fought back like mad, and the already unpopular government by Ayatollah stopped being a foundering, nascent regime, fully consolidating their power as the whole country pulled together to fight off the invasion. When their weaponry proved insufficient, they overwhelmed the Iraqis with fearless human wave attacks.

...Whatís needed is something like this. Park two or three heavy divisions somewhere near Iraqís border with Iran (just in case Iran tries to respond to any attack with an incursion into Iraq) and then use the US Air Force and Navy to hammer every Iranian target of any worth while, at the same time, US Special Forces move about the country distributing cash and weapons. If necessary, send the Corps in Eastern Iraq across the border into Iran in order to secure Iraq against rocket attack and the like. Do not advance into the heart of Iran, however. Let the Iranian Army come and meet the United States Army and Marine Corps in fortified positions.

Sink the entire Iranian Navy and blow up every other site of military significance. After the first few days of heavy fighting the Iranian Air Force will be effectively destroyed and the United States ought to possess near-total air supremacy over the entire nation. Commence heavy bombing and keep it up for weeks or even, if necessary, months. Specifically target clerics and other leaders of the regime for assassination. Simply keep up the pressure until the regime cracks up. ...

Yes, that's right, you can't advance into the heart of Iran by land. Because there are big damn mountains in the way. But here's the thing, you'll never get that far because the minute a full attack is begun, Iran will take the 'nuclear' option. Not in terms of fissile material carried in rockets, but in terms of hurting us so badly that we won't be able to afford to stay in the Gulf. Or drive cars here at home.

The country has more Persian Gulf (hint, there's a reason it's called the Persian Gulf) waterfront than any other country. And if they think they're going down, they'll resort to the classic technology of underwater mines. It won't hurt the military directly, but the thousands of mines they'd be capable of laying will put a hasty end to tanker transport in the Persian Gulf. As the above linked editorial notes, "Ninety percent of Japan's oil and sixty percent of Europe's oil pass through the strategic region." Can you say 'shortage'? I knew you could.

The country also has relatively advanced conventional missile technology that lives very close to other regional capitals. Do you want to take the bet that we can destroy it all before they can create more chaos elsewhere than we can manage? I don't. That editorial was published in a US Air Force journal in 1996, and I'm guessing they've progressed a skosh since then.

...Until the Libyans handed the materials over to us, we had no idea that they had anything more than a small program in the earliest stage. It turned out that they were probably no more than a year or so from finished weapons. This is an intelligence failure which ought to be considered far more alarming than that in Iraq. After all, weíre far more likely to be hurt by underestimation than overestimation. In one case, a dangerous regime turned out to be (perhaps) slightly less dangerous than thought. In the other a seemingly benign regime turned out to be a deadly threat of which we were almost totally unaware. ...

This is where Libya was really at:

...Libyan officials had told the agency their nuclear programme "was at an initial stage and that no production facilities were developed nor has there been any enrichment of uranium," al-Baradai added. ...

Unlike Iran, they would have to import virtually everything. Iran actually has it's own heavy industry base and and the intellectual capital necessary to complete such a project on its own. What Libya did, in fact, was to give up a nothing program that was more dangerous to have than to eventually use, in return for getting exactly what they wanted:

...Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelrahman Chalgam stoked oil companies' hopes of a return to Libya when he told reporters in Algiers, Algeria, on Monday that Libya hoped to attract oil investment by American companies. Chalgam said that American companies could help Libya eventually double its oil output.

...It is too early to say whether American companies might return to their prominent role in Libya's oil industry. The assets held by the Oasis Group, formed by ConocoPhillips, Amerada Hess and Marathon, have remained frozen since 1986, although Libya's national oil company has continued to operate in the concession area where they had worked.

Representatives of the three companies have been given permission by the U.S. government in recent months to negotiate with Libyan authorities and to try to renew their oil leases, which are set to expire in 2005.

Well, how conveeeeeenient. Yoshida continues:

...To me the lessons of the aftermath of the intelligence failures in regard to both 9-11 and Iraq are perfectly clear. First of all, intelligence is unreliable and cannot be reasonably expected to predict the unpredictable. Second, that itís far better to act against perceived threats than it is to await them. ...

Translated Yoshida: There are known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, which remain unknowable because our intelligence gathering is piss poor. Therefore, our best course of action is to shoot wildly about at every country that frightens us. This will work because our recent history clearly shows that we can trust in good outcomes from using naked force and the diplomatic equivalent of kicking people in the shins and then asking them if can borrow a fiver for lunch because we forgot our wallets at home.

I'm not strapping that bomb to my chest voluntarily. This limp-wristed lifenik is keen on dying in bed at an extreme age, surrounded by prosperous grandkids who can travel safely to any part of the world. And I'd wish that same fate for everyone else in America.

Posted by natasha at July 17, 2004 09:32 PM | International | TrackBack(3) | Technorati links |

Excellent Fisk of Yoshida, natasha. I wonder what planet these warmongers inhabit. Perhaps we can ask them to take their games to Mars and leave the Earth to us.

Posted by: Mary at July 17, 2004 11:01 PM