Sunday, January 14, 2007

don't create a trigger event

steven andresen in the comments:
"clemens said this,
"...I suspect that we will soon see more collisions between US military squads and Special Force operations against suspected Syrian and Iranian convoys and personnel -- civilian and military -- inside Iraq as well as more border interdiction..."
Is there any evidence that the Iranians are providing weapons or any other kind of material support to the Shiite militias in Iraq?

I thought there was an argument that they are not because, if they were, the Shiites would be better armed. I also was under the impression that although the Shiite militias and Iran are of the same sect, the Iraqis are not eager to have ties to Iran.

I wonder whether American forces could do very much to stand between the Shiite militias and any Iranian supply effort? Are the Shiites or the Iranians completely powerless against American special forces in any pitched battle? Does the terrain in that part of Iraq give the American military any advantage?

clemens goes on,
"...At some point, these units will go into Syria and Iran to accomplish their "disruption" missions.

At that point, Syria and Iran will make a calculation as to whether they should respond with proportionate military force against US military assets -- or whether they respond in lateral ways against other players in the region --..."
What did the Israelis do to provoke Hezbolla? I thought they sent Israeli DF soldiers over the border and waited for them to get snatched. Doesn't this sound like a possible way to provoke an incident? The Americans don't have to be going over the border to pursue anyone...They could be just minding their business at someplace Bush will call "inside Iraq."

I guess I want to say it doesn't matter what the Iranians do unless they are willing to let American special forces hang out in Iranian farm fields.

clemons again,
"...Iran will probably be craftier than that and will respond in fuzzy, indirect, but highly disruptive ways -- through Hezbollah, Shiite militia, and other agents."
If American special forces are crossing the Iranian border, why couldn't Iran first respond by going to the U.N. or the World Court to expose these provocations? Wouldn't they have a case that the United States has shown itself to be a rogue state which has a history of invading countries in the region without adequate justification under the U.N. charter.

Second, wouldn't it still be able to change its oil production and sales policy to hurt the United States as best it could? There has been discussion of this here.

Aren't the Iranians still in the process of buying missle defense systems from the Russians and wouldn't these be in a position to take the fight to the U.S. Navy sitting in the Gulf?

clemons on the Iranians,
"...Ahmadinejad wants an attack on Iran nearly as much as Cheney does. An American or Israeli bombing of its nuclear facilities and the killing of 6,000 of its top engineering talent (and the many tens of thousands who happen to be near them at the time of the bombing) will consolidate his power inside the country -- something he is no where close to at this point."
Does Clemons have any evidence to support this assessment of the Iranian President? I thought this kind of muddying was useful to make it seem there was a great danger from the Iranian military and government, but that the rhetoric was never given much support.

How does Clemons know that their President would be happy if 6,000 or more of their engineers would be killed in an attack just so he could gain a firmer grip on their government.

Sounds like something Bush might think of, but I think I understand Bush better than I do the Iranian President.

I would think he would get better support in Iran if he somehow prevented hostilities with the United States while maintaining Iranian sense of self respect. This is why I think he would take evidence of American troop incursions to a world body to make the case that it's the United States that's the criminal.

His case against Israel is based on the argument that it has been the criminal in its treatment of the Palestinean population.

Clemons on the possibility of more foolishness from Iran,
"...The nightmare scenario -- as if this was not bad enough -- is that Iranian-backed agents in the region roll out disruption plans across moderate Sunni regimes -- particularly Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt."
Why would the Iranians waste their time creating bad feelings for themselves with the Jordanians, the Saudis, and Egypt? Why would they think that creating disruptions in these countries gets back at the United States? Again, this sounds like another variation on the Iranian boogeyman story. Better watch out or the Iranian boogeyman will cause disruptions...hehehe.

Clemons says,
"...worry about well-disguised yet successful assassination attempts against Saudi or Jordanian leaders"
So, are we to remember the Lebanese political figures that were assassinated last year and blamed on Syria? I thought there was evidence, or at least suspicion, that these were carried out by Israel. The reason the Israelis were suspected, I thought, was that the people who would benefit the least from these killings were the Syrians, and those the most were the Israelis.

Why would anyone think that assassination of various leaders in American client states would benefit Iran? Saddam Hussein was the leader of an American client state. Murdering him didn't benefit the Iranians. Blowing up some Secretary of Education or the guy in charge of social services in Egypt is not going to make the United States redeploy its precious battalions out of Iraq. However, the death of some expendable politician could be used against the Iranians.

Again, we have no evidence offered in any of Clemons discussion to support the way he wants us to think of the Iranian President or Iranian character.

So, let's just file this piece away where we can think about it later...
steven andresen always poses great questions... and i think that he's largely correct in taking apart clemons' piece here. one (of many) things that the neocons are good at is portraying someone (Saddam, Ahmadinejad, kim jong il ) as crazy and dangerous, and then advocating war against them - in the most part, it's difficult for anyone to argue against the 'crazy and dangerous' part, in which case they make it difficult to argue against the 'let's bomb them and their population to smithereens' part of the equation - and so you get people like clemons falling into that trap.

I love Clemons, and think he is very smart - but I struggle to see how "well-disguised yet successful assassination attempts against Saudi or Jordanian leaders" - for example, are a useful/smart/effective way of dealing with being attacked by the leading military super-power. Mind you, I've no idea what any iranian wargame exercises might 'suggest' - other than whenever I try to run through them in my feeble brain, I always seem to end up at some point that says "don't create a trigger event - but don't get caught 'reacting' to a situation either" - i have no idea how that plan would play out - but a "well-disguised yet successful assassination attempt" against an SAO would probably be on my list of options in terms of deterrence.


Kathleen said...

I think we can all go to the bank on this one. I don't have one speck of a doubt about it. In fact, while Dems were whining about No Exit Strategy, I've known in my bones that what they had was a strategy to stay and widen the war to Iraq's neighbors.

W stands for Wall to Wall War and you better not forget it. What I do not understand is why it wasn't plain as the nose on Dopey's grinchy face to all the so called "Pundits". I've been saying this for years now and it drives me plumb crazy that Dems are so fucking feeble all they can muster is a "diet" version of the same crap the Repugnicans dish out.

Enough, already. Impeach the bloodthirsty bastards.

Mizgîn said...

I posted something last week about Iran pulling its oil off the market and selling exclusively to SCO countries, particularly China. I'm still wondering about the effect of that on the West, especially the US, because of something that appeared in a related LA Times article:

If Iran were to suddenly stop exporting its 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, such as in the event of a military strike, world oil prices probably would skyrocket. But a gradual decline might be offset by other OPEC members, analysts say, particularly as Iraq increases its oil production and Saudi Arabia carries out plans for significant increases in its production capacity.

If world oil prices would skyrocket as a result of Iran stopping exportation due to a military strike, why wouldn't it have the same effect if it pulled its oil off the Western market and sold to a select clientele? Much of that oil, and Iran's natural gas, goes to Europe, so what if the spigot were suddenly turned off? China needs energy resources to fuel its production and economy. Iran is already an observer state of the SCO . Plus, how much of the dollar's value is based on the price of oil? How would this affect the currency market and economies that are based on the dollar?

I'm not an economist, but I have the gut feeling that this strategy would be far more effective against the US and the West, than assassinations of politicians.

lukery said...

Mizgin - the problem with the logic about taking the oil 'off-the'market' and selling it to, say, the Chinese, is that it doesn't really take it 'off-the'market' - at least in theory anyway.

every barrel that the chinese buy directly from Iran means that they don't buy it elsewhere - so the decline in supply (by the iranians) is met by an equal and equivalent decline in the 'world' market in demand (from the chinese) - and therefore shouldnt have any impact on the price in the open market.

Mizgîn said...

Man . . . I don't know. China could soak up Iran's oil and gas like a sponge and still thirst for more. What if they are still buying from others? I'm not talking about China purchasing exclusively from Iran; I'm talking about Iran selling exclusively to China. All of China's other purchases would remain the same.

Given the way the Chinese economy is expected to go in the next decade . . . they're dependent on 58% of the ME's oil now and projected to be dependent on 70%?

I don't see it balancing unless there's a massive increase in production in other oil-producing states.

lukery said...

mizgin - ok - if you're talking about in the medium-term future with long-term fixed-price contracts in place, that's a different matter.