Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Iran, Panic and the “Nuclear Option”

Well I’ve read Col. Gardiner’s report that claims US Special Forces have been in Iran for a while in preparation for possible military action.
Whilst they may indeed have been there, are they really there now? Gardiner writes very coherently but he doesn’t provide any kind of corroboration the public can use.

If it’s true, isn’t he tipping the Iranians off and putting SOF and CIA in danger?
Or is he sufficiently convinced the Bush plans to launch a military campaign he thinks would be so disastrous that blowing the whistle now is the lesser of two evils?
Or, is he perhaps the witting or unwitting agent of psy-ops campaign? I have no idea.

Gardiner provides some depressingly clear-eyed reasons why attacking Iran would be a monumentally stupid idea—far, far more disastrous than the Iraq misadventure—and is seeing signs that the Bush administration is keen to stay the course by not listening to sense but to some higher power located between their ass-cheeks. Gardiner hears the same aggressive rhetoric and confused claims from Bush and his supporters in the “think-tanks” and the media that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, being applied to Ahmedinejad and Iran. Combined with whatever scuttlebutt he hears from his military sources he’s probably got some pretty good reasons to be concerned.

But however much the neo-cons and their idiot lackeys in the GOP and the press might want to attack Iran, it doesn’t mean they can or will.

The war-mongers ideal would be to destroy the entire Iranian nuclear program—they can’t just whack one or two “key” sites.
According to Gardiner the target list runs to around 400 and some of those are hardened, naturally.
To get the job done, the attacks would have to be quick and massive—requiring a combination of cruise-missiles launched from stand-off positions and over-the-target attacks from fighter-bombers which would need protection from the Improved Hawk (and other) SAM systems Ronald “we are not trading arms for hostages” Reagan so generously sold to the Ayatollah. That would require a bunch of F-111 Wild Weasels and EA6-B Prowlers for radar suppression and F-117 Nighthawks to knock out the SAM sites. It’s easier and quicker to commit the Air Force and the Navy than it is the Army to military action but it would still take some evident preparation.

On the political front, Bush won’t have any military support from the UK, or from anyone else—except Israel, which has been receiving shiny new F-16I fighter-bombers (I think they have about 50 out of the 102 ordered) fitted with custom, long range fuel tanks ideal for getting them from Israel to Iran and back.
Some Israeli minister today (I forget who) was shouting about Iran being a major threat but then Israel has been embarrassed by the Lebanon screw-up, is being pressed hard on it’s use of cluster-bombs and the Israeli public is none too happy and I suspect he's just trying to divert attention.
The American public isn’t too happy either. The Congress is up for grabs and most importantly there’s already a lot of public pushback from the military to the suggestion that force should be use against Iran.

I may be wrong but apart from the usual suspects, there doesn’t seem to be as much cheerleading for action in the media against Iran as there was for Iraq and less acquiescence to the White House noise-machine amongst the more moderate press this time around. Most of the fear-mongering seemed to occur in the first quarter of this year and with all the other very public misfortunes Bush and his pals have visited upon us and themselves they aren’t getting the traction they need to prosecute this issue.
Gardiner may be sounding the alarm but he seems to be fear-mongering in his own way—but a “good” way.

The only trouble with all this is that this administration (meaning Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez and the most rabid members of the GOP) don’t operate on reason and don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and their own fantasies of certitude and superiority. Desperate to justify themselves in the face of criticism and opposition they could be tempted to forget the preamble, the propaganda and the pretense and just go for broke and order an attack anyway.

But you know what? If it came to that I think the military would say no. It would be the military’s “nuclear option”, one that wouldn’t destroy anything for once.

I really think there’s no need to panic. Unless I’m wrong in which case panic won’t do you any good any how—it’ll be too late.

Have a nice day--tomorrow could be your last. Enjoy!


sumo said...

I hope you are right when it comes to the military stepping down on this one...but I persoanlly don't see it. The military types LIVE for getting to's what they practice and do maneuvers for...they want that day of the trigger to dawn.

And it would be nice if this guy is blowing the proverbial whistle on them. I can't see that Iran would not know that troops or ops are there. I would think they would be loudly screaming about it. Well...I guess we have something to look forward to in October besides snotty little kids banging on our doors for candy. If I had a choice...

5th Estate said...

I hope I'm right too.
Though "military types" raison d'etre is indeed to engage in war, the majority prefer to do so with a viable plan, clear objectives and a reasonable chance of quantifiable victory. The key in this scenario would be the inherent conflict in the military code of conduct--to follow orders or reject illegal orders handed down by civilian leadership and transmitted through the ranks.
I'd argue that the majority of officers are necessarily pragmatists, historians and intellectuals and the armed forces devotes a good deal of time and effort examining its own performanace and testing its suppositions through debriefeings and war-gaming. Whether they get to assert their findings and effect caution or change in the hierarchy and the decision making is another matter of course.

I am heartened that high-level ex-military voices are already protesting now, rather than functioing as apparatchik's discussing the finer points of inevitable military operations, appearing as dispassionate experts discussing the mundane aspects of a predertmined war as so many did regarding Iraq.

As to Halloween, being British I have an entirely different perspective to that of the US--it is a sensible celebration of the spirits of our ancestors and has nothing to do with candy which is an illogical US invention!

sumo said...

Yeah...Americans make any occasion for an excuse to have candy...hence the blobs bumping around our countryside!

Anonymous said...

hey - i resemble that remark!