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« Nice PR for Wikistrat's North American Energy Export Boom simulation | Main | WPR's The New Rules: The Coming War With Iran »
11:29AM

Follow-on comment to my WPR piece on war with Iran

 
 

 

Per Maduka's comment that he was shocked to see this analysis from me (presumably he knows something of my years [roughly 8] of writing to different effect on this subject), I penned the following comment that I felt was important enough of a statement to post in full:

I was somewhat shocked to write the piece myself, but I found myself talking to people on the phone regarding this and I kept coming back to this sense of determinism, when all the dynamics are considered.

In the end, I do think the logic is very compelling for Israel - given the Arab Spring. Then we turn next to Obama, and given his drone use and desire to appear strong (hell, after all these years, let's just say the guy is strong on defense and leave it at that). Then we turn to the Pentagon, and I see a group of AirSea Battle Concept advocates who would love to test it out on Iran (limited scope) and, by doing so, signal VERY STRONGLY to China.

What I don't spot on any of these lines is a countervailing pressure of great strength.

Don't be confused, and I think I made this point decidedly in the piece (and you need to read it all to know this, so if all you scan is the opening . . . then please beg off further comment): this will be an air/SOF-only strike/war. This will be a "reducing" war, or what the Israelies call "mowing the grass." There is little sense of getting the job done with one effort.  

All you can hold out hope for is triggering the conditions for regime change (least likely from below; much more likely as result of regime infighting).  But that's at best a nice-to-get. You don't do it for that, even as I argue in the piece that you might as well - given the larger logic - target to encourage that (why not if you've making the effort already?).

And I think that's the macro lesson the US seems to be learning from the "war on terror," and it's making us more like Israel over time: we simply mow the grass now, and eschew the follow-on work.

Reader Comments (2)

There are some interesting "unknowns" in the war with Iran.

Does the MRBM tech they have gotten, largely from Russia, include the tech for terminal phase guidance which gives the Iskander such amazing accuracy. The recently launched satellites, may be a part of that tech. This is what the Chinese are using for their carrier buster missiles. If they have this they will hit what they are aiming at.

Is the fascinating Chinese suitcase anti anti air device on hand in large numbers? Wild Weasel stuff will not work if there are thousands of SAM radar spoofers in play.

Is the extremely cool Russian very high speed torpedo in Iran's hands? They did have some at one time. It will make the gulf uninhabitable for the US navy if they have a lot of them.

I'm sure there is stuff I don't know about but even what I do understand makes this little military exercise just fascinating.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPenGun

Dr. Barnett,

Apart from Tunisia and probably, Morocco, Iran is the most progressive nation in the Middle East and the nation that shows the most promise for a transition to genuine democracy. Iranians have done the Islamic Republic thing and the younger generation is tired for it.

Their demographic profile is more European than Middle Eastern, their women are extremely well educated. They've got everything in place for a real democracy.

Does the US want to set the clock back?

The wider world is not the West Bank or Gaza and what works there will not work in Iran. You could "mow the grass" and have a great outcome or you could "mow the grass" and reap a whirlwind. The most important thing is that the US is in uncharted territory here and discretion is the better part of valour.

I don't claim to be an expert on Iran, but I have interacted with enough Iranians to know that (a) the nuclear program is very popular and (b) a US strike on Iran will unite the Iranians against the US like nothing else.

Think about it, when has a US intervention (coup, peace-keeping mission, invasion, air strike) resulted in a positive outcome in the Middle East? Very rarely.

I still don't think it is a good idea.

(PS: China knows the America has the best military in the World, they are perfectly fine with America dissipating precious economic and diplomatic resources fighting wars of choice around the World. Whether you teach Iran a lesson or not, China will still be in business and bidding its time).

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaduka

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