Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wat with Iran? Not yet.

* Laura:
"Are the amassing air power in the (IraN) region and sanctions signs of looming war? Not yet.

Interviews with U.S. officials and knowledgeable Iran watchers indicate the stepped up measures are meant for now as a message to Iran to step back from an alleged up-tick in its recent efforts to destabilize Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and to prevent Iran from taking retaliatory actions against the anticipated sanctions like, for instance, closing off the Straits of Hormuz.

“The idea is definitely to keep the Iranians aware that there is a price to pay for their policies and the U.S. is not rolling over,” said a U.S. official Thursday, speaking on background. “The Iranians are being unhelpful in funding and supporting people blowing coalition forces up in Iraq… [The announced US actions] are to say, ‘We have teeth, we have force. You shouldn’t think we’re some paper tiger. You are challenging us and we have a lot of strength and ability in the Security Council and the international community and diplomatically. Just because we screwed up in Iraq, doesn’t mean we’re screwed.’”

“This is all about preparing options … rather than the reflection of a decision to attack,” an Iranian American with close ties to the administration told the Prospect. “From small stuff, like backing up boats that interdict ships suspected of moving munitions into Iraq, to the more serious, such as interdictions of nuclear and missile related equipment bound for Iran."

Should the United States bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, this Iranian observer added, it “must be prepared to defend the targets of a probable counterattack, such as supertankers, oil facilities of the southern Gulf, and, most importantly, the Straits of Hormuz. Although you may have to sink more than 10 supertankers to block the Straits, the oil markets would have a brutal reaction to far fewer.”
[]
A U.S. official indicated that one reason for the perceived need to demonstrate a show of force towards Iran now is to counter the perception in the region, generated in part from coverage of the Iraq Study Group report, that the Bush administration was coming under increased domestic pressure to offer concessions to Iran and Syria. “People in the region read the ISG report and thought the Americans are surrendering,” this official said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Contrary to other U.S. officials interviewed, retired Colonel Sam Gardiner said in an interview this week that he sees several signs that the United States is in fact moving on a warpath to Iran. He suggested that the talk of sending additional troops to Iraq could actually be about Iran, and said he is also seeing signs that the administration “is beginning to develop the strategic communications message. It is about Iran more and more that you hear people talking …The evidence suggests the White House put an embargo on talking about Iran beginning the second week in October…” That embargo now appears to have been lifted, Gardiner says. “A story” -- an Iran narrative -- “is being put together.” But the knowledgeable Iranian observer says that narrative and show of force could be interpreted another way. “Given the weak position of the US in Iraq, and on the nuclear issue,” he says, Washington “needs all the demonstration of strength she could muster, should she decide to start talks with Iran.”"

19 comments:

steven andresen said...

I wonder,

Is there any evidence that the Iranians are, in fact, supplying the various militias in Iraq. I thought there was a story saying that the Iraqi militias, even those of the same religious group, resist such influence.

The United States has a number of pricey targets sitting in the Persian Gulf. If there was an attack on Iran, why would the Iranians waste their time and ammunition on oil tankers? If I were gaming this, I'd fire the Russian anti ship missles at the carriers. Bush has lined them up pretty well.

I thought the carriers were vulnerable to missle attack.

Again, why should the Iranians think small? If they see themselves facing an attack from the american navy, and possible invasion by ground troops, leading to the dismemberment and destruction of their country on the order of Iraq, why would they think to sink a tanker?

I'd buy a sub and sit off Virginia.

The above discussion about cutting off the straight of Hormuz, although you'd think about it, would not put the Iranians in a position to stop the United States from doing what it wanted in the short term.

What's making a dent in the economy when they are looking at the horror of Iraq?

profmarcus said...

if iran did indeed attack a u.s. ship, that would be precisely what the u.s. wants... what more excuse would they need to launch all-out war on iran and fulfill every neo-con's wet dream...? i don't believe iran is that stupid...

steven andresen said...

I saw the remark, somewhere here, about the purpose of the build up of American forces being to get the Iranians to jump offside.

My thoughts were just about what the Iranians would be thinking in response to an American attack.

Yes, the Iranians would not want to be stupid. They would not want to provoke an American response. I'm sure the Vietnamese didn't want to provoke the United States in the Gulf of Tonkin.

My issue wasn't about what started any conflagration, but what the Iranians might be thinking as their goals. Would they want to send messages about their ability to dampen the economy as the United States was bombing the shit out of them, or would they want to stop the U.S. militarily as best as they could? I think the latter.

Simon said...

I don't see Iran making any moves at all for the time being, they plainly see GWB for what he is, and know full well how to avoid playing into his hands. On Steve A's points, Iran knows exactly how the markets will react to any disruption of oil supply. Remember '73? So far, because of Iraq, it's already been to around the $70/barrel mark, it isn't hard to see it going well over $100/barrel if supply through the Straits of Hormuz were to be disrupted, and $150-$200/barrel in the short term if the Straits were blocked completely. This is just a bit more than "a dent in the economy". How would the average American feel about paying close to double to fill up their car/SUV/truck etc? American industry etc etc? The pressure on the White House would be enormous, and if it was seen as more blatant warmongering (as it almost certainly would be) they (the Republican party in general and the Bush clan in particular) can kiss the White House goodbye for a long time to come. On the other hand GWB might, in the time he's got left, go nuclear against more than just Iran's nuclear (supposedly (ha-ha) bomb) facilities which will guarantee the start of something akin to WWIII. If that happens then the Shia will rise against the American Iraqi occupation and they will have a hell of a job to fight their way out of that one, especially being as they are having quite a problem trying to quell what's happening now with only the Sunni part of the population shooting back at them. In short any American action against Iran is of the very highest risk potential. They will have zero support across the region and have a conflict on their hands far exceding the seriousness of Vietnam and Korea combined to contend with. The Russians and Chinese will be only too happy to have the extra income this war will generate. There's no way that these nations can lose out. Their potential gain? No substantive dollar to compete against anymore? Don't forget that the US kept Britain very poor for many years paying back what it owed the US from before and during WWII. China (especially) is now today in the exact same position that the US occupied back then.

steven andresen said...

Simon,

I appreciate these insights. I am very pessimistic about what's going on. I am impressed by several things that Iran has done in responding to Bush. Number one, I think they are trying to get out of dollars. Two, I think they are buying up well made missles systems. Three, they are making agreements with Russia and China to get them to invest in Iran's healthy future. Four, maybe they're digging bomb shelters.

I am pessimistic about what Bush is doing because I think he is not one of the "reality-based community." I see evidence that he thinks he's working on God's plan. I just wrote some things about this after reading Rosen's article. I suspect that Bush has enough support to have his war on Iran, despite objections from the "reality-based" community. The problem is, I think people who understand the world as being about God's plan, are not effected by the arguments of people who appeal to reality. They are motivated by a conviction that they are righteous.

I think you believe an effect on the economy, or the threat of such an effect, is a pretty strong hand to hold. My thought is that it would not take long for the U.S. Navy et al to bomb the place and drop in teams to take out what Bush thinks are the reviled Iranian leaders. I just don't see the Iranians wanting to wait for political pressure from a bad economy to build against Bush. They would not want to wait around for that.

Could they do anything significant against the United States to keep our Navy from laying waste to their country? I don't know what they could do. But, if I were them, I would not be content with sending messages.

Simon said...

Steve A,

Could they do anything significant against the United States to keep our Navy from laying waste to their country?

On your prime question here, I think the answer is no, they couldn't do anything ahead of anything GWB might or might not order at some point in the future.

But why would they? It isn't Iran spoiling for a fight here, it's the US (not in general you obviously understand).

Currently the rhetoric from upon high, and that's what it is, is fairly evenly balanced. 'Axis of Evil' Vs "Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear".

Actually, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, sent you ("The American People") an open letter explaining things just under a month ago. Your administration dismissed it out of hand. You might not even know about it. I wonder what you think of it?

(Begins)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.

Noble Americans,

Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;

And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;

Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.

Noble Americans,

Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world.

Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.

As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.

No day goes by without a new crime.

Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?

For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.

You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.

Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?

Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Let's take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.

Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.

In Iraq, about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.

Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.

I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.

Noble Americans,

You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.

You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed "war on terror." But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.

The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of "the war on terror," civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.

I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it.

The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.

The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.

Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.

My questions are the following:

Is there not a better approach to governance?

Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?

We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent.

But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?

If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?

The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all.

What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?

I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.

Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:

The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.

Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.

To sum up:

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.

What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:

"But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him." (28:67-68)

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

29 November 2006

steven andresen said...

Simon,

Thankyou for making this letter available. I had heard of it, but did not look for it to read.

The Iranian President is a smart man. He does here what I would have wanted GWB do, but know will not.

During the discussion going on about the Holocaust conference held in Tehran recently, I spent over an hour looking up citations on maybe 20 Google pages, looking at articles and editorials about it. Just about all condemned the thing. I found a lot of the same mentions, the fact that David Duke a known nazi attended, that the Orthodox anti-zionist rabbi's were mentioned but not discussed, and that the Iranian President has said he wants to destroy Israel. There was maybe two pieces that found any sympathy at all for the effort.

My reaction was that this conference was a good opportunity to have people knowledgeable about the holocaust to go and discuss their positions with those at the conference, and engage the Iranians in a dialogue on that issue. I came up with a cute argument that I hoped would have made such an effort appealing even to those immediately dubious.

I had you imagine that there was a gang of hoodlums announcing they were going to hold a conference to discuss various issues related to their favorite crimes. I mentioned such issues as, why beat up and rob old ladies when what's in their purses couldn't pay for your time and effort? The conference would be open to everyone and everyone would be heard. I thought that the immediate reaction, from law and order types, would be to condemn such an event because it would merely encourage crime. But, I thought that people should go to this conference and argue with the hoodlums. Take them up on their offer and see whether you could point out the error of their ways, or give them some ideas on how to make a more honest and less risky income. I thought such a conference, whether held by hoodlums, or by the Iranians, should be attended so that change could occur from the dialogue.

I don't think anyone agreed or was much impressed.

I got the impression that there was some kind of agreement amongst the writers to avoid discussing the conference in any fair or curious way. I get the impression that there's the same kind of agreement with respect to these letters from the Iranian President.

Maybe there is no agreement to talk about it fairly, or attend it. That might suggest that they think that if one attended some mutual understanding and agreement would be possible. Actually, I think the pundits and politicians believe arguing and negotiating about the issues that confront us is futile.

The President discusses Zionism. I think what he said was pretty careful, but I can also see that what he said will add more evidence to the defenders of Israel that he doesn't get it, and that he is one of their enemies. That is, he thinks the Israelis are at fault for hurting the Palestineans, and not the other way around.

He talks about the United States commiting illegal and immoral actions. Again, this will not appeal to a large number of Americans who believe that Bush and the U.S. can do no wrong.

The problem with the letter, unfortunately, is that it will be treated like the Holocaust conference, as another sign he is a raving lunatic bent on hurting us and those we love and should be ignored. The letter has been ignored.

I guess I want to say that the President of Iran assumes that the people of the United States care about what happens to the world, and that they are in a position to do something about it. But these assumptions are unwarranted. There are small numbers of people who might care. There are even smaller numbers of them who might be in a position to do something constructive. One thing might be to discuss these things. This blog presents one of the country's good opportunities to do that. There are other blogs which do similar stellar work.

I work in a place where it is considered innappropriate to discuss politics during work. I suspect most places of business are the same. When people are at work most of the time they are awake and can't talk about the direction of the country, whether we will be nuking another country, or whether the economy will bottom out, and why. There are just few other opportunities for such a discussion to happen. Where else? At bars? At church? During one's shopping?

The letter was a good attempt to start a conversation which this country is in no position to carry on.

lukery said...

great discussion guys. thnx.

just quickly - if i was iran, i'd be looking for a way to change the playing the field. i don't exactly know how their war-gaming might be proceeding - but my first objective would be trying to avoid a war, rather than planning on how to retailiate in the eventuality (ie - sinking an tanker or having a sub sitting off virginia)

'retaliation' per se - doesnt do them much good. they either need to effectively use the *threat* of retaliation or some other mechanism to change the ground rules. we all seem to agree that it would be silly of them to be 'provoked' into starting a new war - so they need to find some other mechanism. i dont know what their options are at this point - but if i was them, i'd consider (for example) trying to drive the oil price as high as possible in the near term (i.e. pre-new-war) in an attempt to freak out the american population about even higher prices to come, and try to topple the egadministration domestically. of course, the neocons will try to frame 'iran wont sell us oil' as an act of war - will they be able to sell that story? i don't know.

how else can the iranians change the playing field? i'm sure theyve been asking themselves this very question for 3 years. my guess is that they've war-gamed it better than the americans.

Simon said...

Steve A,

...and that the Iranian President has said he wants to destroy Israel.

I suppose that is the real problem here, that much is said and no-one reads the actual words to determine the truth(s) of the matter.

Here is a selection of quotes from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as presented by the Anti-Defamation League, obviously a strong supporter of Israel (so you can guarantee that these are in fact the choicest quotes).

Nowhere does Iran's President actually say that he or Iran will destroy Israel, sure he speaks of its destruction, but then what else would you expect from an implacable enemy? To the majority of moslems the theft of Palestine remains the most contentious of issues and isn't going to go away. But words like these have been spoken regularly since 1947, it's only the current administration that have made as much of them as they have. The words themselves as delivered were mainly meant for domestic consumption in any case, and as such are just propagandistic rhetoric, not intended to stir up international pressures.

Some issues, like Zionism and child pornography, are almost impossible to discuss openly without inflaming emotional responses from those with contrary viewpoints. Is it actually WRONG to view an image of a naked young human being? Others will say that the viewer MUST have a secret (and therefore perverted) motive for viewing such an image. This is not always the case. There can be beauty in innocence. But this will carry no sway with the detractors who may or may not be in denial themselves.

Same with the Holocaust. The supposed truth is written and no-one must contend this. If they do they will be viewed as anti-semitic, irrespective of whether they themselves have biological semitic origins or even a better version of history.

...whether we will be nuking another country...

It is so easy to say these words with absolutely no idealisation/realisation of what the true effects of this would be on other human beings. Americans in particular have become immune to the sensation of the suffering of others, mainly due to the effects of Hollywood overdose throughout, for many, their entire lives. They see a nuclear attack as nothing more than a punch in the face. Just do it, turn, and walk away.

There is a tendancy for powerful people to believe that they are above humanistic concerns. 'Hard' people think they can get away with anything. Often they have no sense of a conscience of their own, which would be the natural mitigator in these circumstances.

My fear too, is that GWB does not have this emotional response within himself. If he indeed has sociopathic tendancies, then he will never heed the advice of others with perhaps more tempered opinion.

If he does attack (or even invade) Iran, he may bite off far more than he (and the US) can chew upon. Iran was not significantly weakened by the Iran-Iraq war, as Iraq was. This made Desert Storm, and thereafter the invasion to remove Saddam, relatively easy. Iran spent only 12% of its GDP on the war during that war, against Iraq's 57%. Iran paid off its debts DURING the war, whilst Iraq went hopelessly bankrupt. Iran maintained a 15% unemployment rate throughout the war despite the controlled need for troops at the front-line. Both sides put up aggregate forces of about 1.6 million troops. Iran now has a population of about 69 million, against Iraq's 27 million, and Iran also has 24 million males aged 15-64. It wouldn't have any trouble putting say 4 to 5 million under arms. Just how many 'spare' troops has the US got just now?

Simon said...

Luke,

Just read your latest post here, I can't see the Iranians taking any pre-emptive action at all, they will simply wait and see how it all pans out first, perhaps viewing it as just political (standoff) gesturing until GWB is out of office in any case. If the US does say bomb their nuclear facilities, they probably won't retaliate immediately, but they WILL be knocking on the door of the UN the following morning. They will play it diplomatically first and foremost, rather than rushing into any military action. They will not wish to attack their neighbours assets (tankers etc) directly but they are in a position to heavily mine the Straits of Hormuz to enforce an oil blockade to generate world public outcry. Their territorial advantage here is with their control of the various islands in the approaches to Hormuz. The US would obviously deploy all its counter-mine assets immediately, but obviously a crisis would ensue. The Iranians will focus their efforts from Qeshm Island, which the US may be forced to occupy, at which point the Iranians will be legitimately be able to respond militarily. A Shia uprising (already planned?) in Iraq would then put immense, probably unbearable pressure on them to withdraw from that country as the planned 30-40,000 troop 'surge' will be drawn into a widespread bloodbath. The oil price will escalate as I have outlined above. The US will become isolated on the world stage. There isn't any way they can win anything here in the long run. Why even try?

steven andresen said...

If the question is, what can the Iranians do to get the United States to back off, then there are a few things I would consider.

One, I said that I thought Iran was getting out of dollars. We live in a country that needs to borrow money to keep paying our bills. We need to be the money supplier for the oil economy because it makes our economy work, such as it is. If oil is no longer traded in dollars, but in the Euro, for instance, then we have a big prop taken out from under us. I do not see the rest of the world supporting us in an attempt to maintain our position of power over them on this issue.

Given the deficit spending economy, how long can the U.S. pay for so much war machine before those who pay the bills tell us to stop?

Two, given it is the United States that has troops in middle east countries, bombing and throwing its weight around, we are the one's who are the bully, and who are the danger to others. If I were the Iranians, I would push the argument that it is the Americans under Bush, or under some like minded Democrat, who is causing suffering in the world.

Will China, Russia, Germany, France, the EU, Latin America, or even Britain, want to go with the bully, or with the aggrieved victims? If the American economy were an issue, then wouldn't they go with Iran, who has oil to sell?

Three, I've heard that one strategy for the U.S. to get out of Iraq, was to have Syria and Iran help out. In response, I heard an argument that we were in Iraq mainly to help out the Saudis who have something against the Iranians. The Bush planners may want to see some kind of fight break out between the Saudi's and the Iranians so that they can continue to sell their services to one or the other. Sort of the Samurai for hire gambit.

The Iranians should be working on inter Moslem unity at all costs. They should give no reason for the Saudi's or the Pakistani's or anyone to fear them, or to have a reason to rely on American military protection. I would send Iranian negotiators to India to try to make a deal with the Indian government which has recently accepted American nuclear technology transfer deals.

Four, The Iranians must understand that their government stands on a unified people. They have to deal with conflicts going on in the country. But they have to do this so that the end result is everyone being on the same page. They, therefore, can't just put Kurdish minorities in prison until the dispute with the United States is over. I suspect the letter from the Iranian President reflects an effort to unify Iran behind their good intentions and their faith.

There's probably more they could do. I would expect them to look at non-military avenues, such as these mentioned. After thinking about it, I don't think they need rely on merely sending messages.

starroute said...

I wonder ...

I've been reading things this week saying that the "surge" approach is fatally flawed because it has a presumed objective of putting those additional 30,000 troops in Baghdad to take out the Shi'ite militias -- when, in fact, 80% of insurgent attacks come from Sunnis. So according to these analysts, a surge would only stir up the Shi'ites against us and add to our problems in Iraq.

I've also read things in the past suggesting that the Iraqi Shi'ites are one of Iran's trump cards -- that if the US did attack Iran, it would find itself with a Shi'ite insurgency on its hands in Iraq, putting the US military there greatly at risk.

So, putting two and two together, is it possible that the White House is hoping to take out the Iraqi Shi'ite militias preemptively over the winter, in order to enable it to attack Iran with a free hand next spring?

Just askin'...

steven andresen said...

What's the point of the "surge." I am no expert. But I read here,

"If it's for a surge -- that is, for two or three months -- and it's part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I'll go along with it," Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on ABC's "This Week."

However, other Democrats and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said such an increase in troop levels would not make much of a difference.

"Over this summer, the United States and Iraqi forces launched Operation Forward Together. It began in June, and then phase two began in August with thousands of American troops going into Baghdad to try to stabilize the situation," Mr. Powell said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"They haven't stabilized the situation. So we have tried this surge of troops over the summer. I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work," he said..."

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20061217-113520-7549r.htm

So, a surge has already been tried, according to Gen. Powell, and he thinks it didn't do anything helpful then. He thinks another wouldn't do any more.

The pessimism expressed by Powell seems to be that, well, they haven't been able to do anything about these Iraqi squabbles. Maybe more police on the ground would be more effective. However, if the reason that there is the violence on the street is that, first, the United States invaded their country and the Iraqi's want us out, then more American police on the street will only provoke more violence.

Then I read here,

"...Remember the dead-enders argument against timetables? That a timetable would give "the enemy" a reason to hide out until the troops come home to unleash their power on an unwitting Iraq? Why wouldn't a short-term "surge" suffer from the same problem? Do the people proposing this solution think that there are some fixed number of insurgents out there that just need a mopping-up so we can solve the problem?"

http://honestpartisan.blogspot.com/2006/12/surge-in-iraq.html

I think this writer makes a good point. If there are more police on the street, but it would be common knowledge that they have budgetary restrictions, then wouldn't the smart thing to do be wait until they go off shift?

I read another writer that the surge troops would be in Iraq available for their push into Iran. If they want them in Iran, I would think they wouldn't wamt them tired out from confronting militias in Iraq.

I don't know how to sort this out...

lukery said...

simon: "The US will become isolated on the world stage. There isn't any way they can win anything here in the long run. Why even try?"

we don't even know what they are itchin for - so 'why even try?' is a difficult question. (mind you, the same goes for the iraq invasion)

lukery said...

steveA: "If oil is no longer traded in dollars... then wouldn't they go with Iran, who has oil to sell?"

this (these?) might be a long term argument - but both are only at the margin, and both are longer term arguments - compared to, say, an invasion in a month or 6.

lukery said...

steve: "I would send Iranian negotiators to India to try to make a deal with the Indian government which has recently accepted American nuclear technology transfer deals."

the iranians already have the pakistan nuclear technology. Barlow tells me he is *sure* that the Iranians have a nuke weapons program.

lukery said...

starroute - that sounds far-fetched to me - if only because it's difficult to see how effective 30k troops could possibly be.

similarly/further, if the US attacked iran, then iran's 'obvious' response would be to send a big chunk of their army (and/or missiles etc) across the border into iraq to hurt the US troops - so 'quelling' the shiite militia in iraq isn't likely to help too much on that front (as best as i can tell).

in this context, it'd be interesting to know what the original plan (per larisa, bamford et al) was to move immediately from iraq in 03 to iran - and how much of that is still operational.

Simon said...

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think this idea of a 'surge' is cover for something else. And I don't think it's an invasion of Iran. I think the US has come to realise that the longer they stay there, the more likely it is that there will be a complete uprising against them. And what are they going to need then? Reinforcements big time. I think they see this as more than just on the horizon. They know that if the whole thing goes tits-up against them they are in big big trouble. But no-one is willing to acknowledge this possibility. It's the Little Bighorn scenario all over again, about being outnumbered and simultaneously lost/stuck in unfamiliar territory.

Re the new sanctions thing, I think that the rest of the world is trying to please the US in order to take away it's motive to attack. Obviously the Iranians see it differently, viewing it as an infringement of its right to peaceful nuclear technology. Once again the world has fallen between stools with an inferior solution.

On Luke's point about the 'obvious' Iranian response, I don't quite see it that way. Iran doesn't want to be or want to be seen as the aggressor in any way.

On starroute's point:

So, putting two and two together, is it possible that the White House is hoping to take out the Iraqi Shi'ite militias preemptively over the winter, in order to enable it to attack Iran with a free hand next spring?

Don't think so. It's not two and two, it's 140,000 and 40,000. Still not enough.

On Steve A's point:

The Bush planners may want to see some kind of fight break out between the Saudi's and the Iranians so that they can continue to sell their services to one or the other.

Neither of these nations will fall for this one. Both understand how more war will harm them rather than help them. They both see the anarchy in Iraq. You think they want that on their plates?

steven andresen said...

Simon, I want to add another comment to this:

"On Steve A's point:

"...The Bush planners may want to see some kind of fight break out between the Saudi's and the Iranians so that they can continue to sell their services to one or the other."

Neither of these nations will fall for this one. Both understand how more war will harm them rather than help them. They both see the anarchy in Iraq. You think they want that on their plates?"

I found this discussion:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/dec2006/iraq-d22.shtml

...where Peter Symonds at the WWWS site tries to explain what the Saudis and the Iranians have against each other. I think he demonstrates that there is a tension between the Saudis and the Iranians, or could be, and that it would be in the U.S.'s or the Israeli's interest to see these two Islamic countries duking it out amongst themselves, rather than supporting organizations fighting the Israeli occupation of Palestine or their incursions into Lebanon.

Symonds ends by suggesting that any conflict beginning between the Saudi Sunnis and the Iranian Shiites would easily draw in the involvement of others, i.e., Russia, China, who have been supplying Iran, the U.S., the Europeans, and conceivably more.

I would hope that the Saudis and the Iranians would see through the provocations put together by the U.S., as I have suspected of them, but didn't we also say the same thing about the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq when we found British troops had disguised themselves as Iraqis in order to set off bombs that would have been blamed on real Iraqis.

I've thought that if the invasion of Iraq was about oil, then eventually they would want to quiet the place down so drilling and deals and some money could be made. However, as the conflict gets more and more violent and the factions are more and more after each others throats, the idea it's about oil becomes less plausible. Or, at least, the end result won't be about oil.

I'm more drawn to the idea it's about divide and conquer.