“How Bad Could It Get?”

I have received this worst case scenario from our beother Erasmus.  I thank him for it spares me the necessity of posting my own worst case.


Pat Lang

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79 Responses to “How Bad Could It Get?”

  1. zanzibar says:

    Worst case looks pretty bad for us. A major quagmire with terrible loss of life and limbs of our kids. I hope our leaders ponder it. What does a realistic best case look like? And for those of us not schooled in the art of war – what is a manpad?
    Where in the spectrum of competence and motivation do the Iranian land forces fall into? Chinese or Eastern European or Indian/Pakistani or African or pre/post-Gulf War I Iraqi?

  2. tim fong says:

    What’s your take on the recent surge of generals calling for Rumsfeld to step down or be replaced?

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A MANPAD is a “Man Poratable Air Defense” whatever, normally a heat srrking missile. pl

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iran is not a problem to be solved. Iran is a pricky state that must be managed.
    Iran is not a threat to the United States. Iran is a threat to the strategies that US is pursuing in the Middle East for the better or for worse.
    Also, please take a look at “Common Sense on Iran”
    by Stirling Newberry @ http://www.bopnews.com/archives/006258.html#6258

  5. Glen says:

    That is just grim. I’m hoping this is not an in Iraq, on the ground assestment, because if I was over there now, and I’m watching the chickenhawks get all puffed up about Iran, and I’m reading how bad it could get according to the Intel guys, then I’m starting to get just a little worried and just a little bit pissed off.

  6. Mac Nayeri says:

    “I thank him for it spares me the necessity of posting my own worst case.”
    Are u endorsing this version of events?
    The author flatters the military prowess of Iran – it reads as if written by a bright-eyed, comic book collecting, adolescent Iranian teenager.
    I think the expression is “let’s keep it real.”

  7. b says:

    That worst is only Iraq. What is missing is the scenario for the Marines who will have to seize the Iranian oil fields in Korramshahr.
    There is also this critical sea route that needs to be kept open and this stupid fluid we use to run our cars on. It tends to get more expensive when it gets scarse.
    No wonder the Generals are in mutiny.

  8. hk says:

    Not quite Indian Mutiny. Sounds more like Kabul in 1841.

  9. hk says:

    PS: Saddam Hussein as Dost Mohammed II?

  10. Norbert Schulz says:

    Seizure of the oilfields in Korramshahr has the political cost of seriously undermining the U.S. claim that oil played no role in threir schemes for the Middle East. Seizure of oilfields in Iraq, and now in Iran, too? That’d be water on Bin Laden’s mills, a boon for enemy propaganda.
    Mac Nayeri, as for keeping it real. I guess that Iran is no match for the U.S. in a ‘fair’ fight. But sadly there is no such thing. Just as the U.S. like to play out their tech advantage and butcher from afar or at night, the Iranians will try to avoid just this sort of ‘fairness’.
    Their intelligence is no amateur outfit, and they are also no amateurs in light infantry combat. They have gathered an impressive amount of expertise in both fields in Lebanon, and can be counted on to have their lessons learned from the wars with and on Iraq.
    Iran has shown in the first gulf war that they are willing to make at times massive sacrifices. The people in power today fought then, and remember the time. When they can beat a U.S. army of 150.000 by sacrificing 500.000, 600.000 Iraqis and Iranians, they might find it worth the cost.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I am saying that I would have written a somewhat different but also depressing version.
    I agree that the Iranian forces could not do this much damage against US forces which are well supplied but his scenario posits the opposite.
    My pessimism focuses more on a general rising of the Shia population that attacks our logistics.
    Erasmus’ analysis posits a certain universe and comments on what would happen in that universe. That is normal procedure for both case studies of possible intelligence scenarios and for contingency planning. pl

  12. Sam says:

    OK guys – I’m the dumbest guy lurking on this page but I can read a map. Say we “pop” Iran (high tech zoomie stuff). They go after us IAW the worst case scenario BUT what about our allies in the area. The CIA World Factbook shows the following bordering countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km. While we are tied up (12 divisions fighting a 15 division war) how could we assist Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and any other allies who assist us with logistical and combat support should the nasties decide that we are preoccupied and strike?
    Just a thought from the lowest common denominator.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As a logistician, how do you assess the LOC threat? Pat

  14. rpe says:

    We don’t have any real allies in the region. Turkey has a large, tough, and well armed army that can handle any likely attacker but we are deeply unpopular with the Turkish people and the generals are furious with us over our Kurdistan policy. No help is likely to be forthcoming. Pakistan has a large and credible military, most of which is tied down on their border with India, and the Pakistanis despise us. Any attempt to assist us by Musharaff would almost certainly result in his prompt overthrow. Afghanistan is full of armed men full of holy zeal to defend their country and they are mostly fighting us. Various rag tag narco warlords who support us are well aware of the fact that Imperial countries like America, Britain, and Russia come and go, but Iran is forever. They will want no part of this. Iran also has many friends in Afghanistan who are not shooting at us now but will be if we attack Iran.
    Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are run by corrupt kleptocracies with weak militaries and a real desire to continue robbing their countries blind. Picking a fight with Iran would be a very bad idea. As for Armenia it is militarily weak and there is a large and prosperous Armenian population in Iran that would be put at risk, it is also a traditional Iranian ally against the Turks. No help there. As for the Iraqis, they’d all be shooting at us except for the Kurds and the Shia Kurds will probably be shooting at us too.
    As for us helping them ward off an Iranian strike, the Iranians will be flooding into Iraq and Afghanistan to fight Americans and our puppets with the aid of the many local allies Iran has in both countries. They will have neither the time, assets, nor inclination to go after anyone else

  15. rpe says:

    Mac Nayeri,
    The Iranians need no special military prowess to accomplish their goals in this scenario. They just need large numbers of reasonably well trained, decently led, light infantry with high morale and the willingness to take very heavy casualties. Based upon their performance in the Iran Iraq war, they have that in spades.

  16. lina says:

    Who cares if the retired generals mutiny? When are the active duty generals going to mutiny?

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The use of the term “mutiny” in referring to the remarks of these retired officers is silly. Mutiny is a rebellon against legal authority. These officers, although still members of the armed forces, are not obliged by law to keep silent once they are no longer on active duty. The same is true of me.
    You will not see a mutiny or criticism of the administration from active duty officers. To do so other than before Congress is simply illegal. Read the UCMJ.
    In any event you should not want to see that unless you want to see an end to civilian control of the United States. pl

  18. Lina says:

    I understand the legal definition of mutiny.
    I’m wondering if we will see upper echelon resignations from the Pentagon when some disasterous Iran strategy/policy is put into play by the same people who sent 140,000 U.S. troops to occupy a country of 25 million people.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t know. As you know there is really no precedent for that in American military history. Perhaps there should be. pl

  20. Lina says:

    I’m not an expert on U.S. military history, but I suspect there is no precedent for starting two preemptive wars in the same presidency.

  21. Eric says:

    I enjoyed reading Erasmus’ thoughts.
    Thing is, the Iranians and shia only have to accomplish about 20% of what E outlined to create a real mess.
    Meanwhile back at the Green Zone they’re down to their last latte and MRE
    But you need to work a bit on your culinary analysis, E.
    The Last Supper sounds revolting. Maybe James Beard has a book on MREs.
    Good analysis.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    An interesting point. It would be possible to look at all the various expeditions carried out in Latin America and other places by the Wilson administration. pl

  23. ali says:

    That’s pretty comprehensive.
    The Iranians have been building up assets in the South since the Iran-Iraq war, they’ve had 20 years to figure out how to stage a Shi’a rising and the breadth and depth of their intelligence network in Iraq could be a decisive factor and they are masters of asymmetric war.
    It didn’t help when the Shi’a rose in 92; Saddam applied the required Syrian solution, that’s the way the Brit’s quashed the Indian Mutiny, after years of war-lite I doubt we’d have the stomach for it.
    I also doubt Iran would seek to eject the US totally. A vengeful US with it’s full land army available would be far more dangerous to the Mullahs; they have the prize fish hooked they’ll play it to exhaustion rather than reel it in. The Persians are a subtle people, raising the temperature a few degrees in the South would cause us trouble enough. Ideological indoctrination, command and control, training arms, these boys have read their Mao and won’t jump the gun like Giap. As we seek to secure our threatened supply lines with firepower Iranian backed forces would gain legitimacy just as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. Our desperation would ensure the Pasdaran are greeted with flowers as liberators rather than what they are: the brutal old blood enemy opportunistically pocketing the Basra mega-oilfield.
    Given the dire political situation though it may not be the Iranians that take the initiative. As the ethnic carnage deepens we look set to betray all the hopes of democratically attained dominance we kindled in the Shi’a majority. Push them too hard and they may choose secession and rise as they did against the Brits in the 20s and we don’t have 100,000 hard bitten Sepoys to send against them.

  24. Lina says:

    Did the Wilson administration commit these kinds of troop levels?
    On the futility scale, the current thinking in our Defense Dept. reminds me more of the people who brought us Gallipoli.

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The Battle of Gettysburg and a skirmish in Mexico are the same thing if you are in the fight. pl

  26. lina says:

    Ha! You’d know better than I would Colonel.
    But if you’re going to live to fight another day, it probably makes a difference if you lose 600,000 or 60.

  27. Curious says:

    My worst case scenario. And I think Pentagon analysts will pee in their pants reading this. Because they know they can’t answer my scenario.
    1. unlimited amount of small packaged high explosive. Iran certainly has the industrial knowledge to do this. Make them cheap, as cheap as hand granades. Distribute it inside Iraq and afghanistan. (this will topple and assasinate ALL functioning government facilities/personels and reduce that two countries into nothing more than Lebanon) Ports, roads, civilian offices, power generators, the entire thing will be gone in less than two weeks. Basically, start weaponizing those guerillas in Iraq with serious amount of high explosive.
    2. Launch those ballistic missiles against ALL oil facilities in gulf region. Kuwait, Saudi, Iraq, Emirats. The whole things. No sense sparing any of them. The objective: drive oil price in the range of $200-250/barrel within 2 weeks. The US economy will collapse within 3 months. The military machine (economic support) will collapse within 2 years.
    3. attack all tankers passing through the gulf. All of them. Use their subs to start sinking all super tankers near gulf regions.
    4. Flood the entire gulf water with empty oil barrels, barrel filled with explossive, mines, chemical weapons, concrete pantoon booby trap, old ships, anything that floats. How much does it cost to shoot an empty oil barrel just making sure it is not a mine? How many man hours does it need to inspect each of those floating garbage?
    5. Jet skies. The Iranian will do their combat in persian gulf to pinch the supply line. 5000-6000 navy troops in jet skies will force us flying those expensive heli’s to hunt. (how many gallons of fuel is sued to hunt one guy on a jet skies?)
    (and we cannot station anybody near the gulf either since the Iranian will blow all those camps with chemical weapons.)
    The overall objective?
    Go light and all over, make those gas guzzling vehicles move across the vast expanse of desert and mountain passage. Stretch the supply lines. Use nature to fight those heavy equipments.
    No border and frontlines. It’s war of attritions against supply lines in wide areas…
    Extent the entire battle area into Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, …
    Cascade the whole things.
    Go mad man opening, then rope a dope attrition.
    If Iran can play out their cards in 2-3 years. They win. It’s that simple.
    We’ll have to nuke every buildings in their land to win the battle. But that still means we lost the oil supply.

  28. Curious says:

    My random comments:
    “If we launch an attack on Iran with absolutely no warning at all we would achieve tactical surprise in Iran at the cost of exposing a lot of Americans to capture or death. We will have small detachments of Americans with Iraqi Army and police units all over the country and these Badr and Dawa officered units would turn on us in a second. Don’t think Tet, think the Indian Mutiny. ”
    No international support. That will cause a whole lot of pain only after several months. Sure we got to blow up some Iranian buidings and destroy heavy equipments. So what. If they are half smart, they already have a plan fighting in low supply/light infantry mode. What’s more We will lost the entire region for next 20 years if we strike first. Think domestic economic collapse and high crime rate as a result. $6/gallon gas and $15 McDonald dinner?
    “The Green Zone would come under immediate siege from the Iraqi army and police units in Baghdad while the Mahdi Army would come boiling out of Sadr City to cut all of our supply routes into the city”
    Why would anybody defend the green zone is beyond me. There is nothing in there except simply because we set up bases there. There is no Iraq government in there if you ask me. We might as well put a basketball in some random section of Baghdad and defend it. What’s the difference?
    “Of course we can recapture the bridging sites and put pontoon bridges up as replacements- ”
    what good does it do? We are trying to cure the symptoms instead of the cause. We don’t have a legit Iraq leader/government as a center to all our strategy. We are not protecting the bridge supported by the people. We are just guarding some bridge that nobody else care about. Yes there are facilities/strategic requirement to sustain military operation in Iraq. but WHY are we there? just because to protect some bridges or because we know the political process is worth protecting. Are we trying to prop up sand castle?
    “The war heads of the Iraqi RPGs are first generation and have trouble penetrating the armor of our Bradley Fighting vehicles and only seem to do a somewhat better job with the Stryker.”
    Those Stryker and Bradleys are just cute parading toys. Think about it. What good do they do? Does it stop the growth of light infantry/guerilla? Does it stop people from blowing up mosques to incite civil war? Okay so we shot a couple of brown people while parading those toys… so what? It changes nothing in the big picture. They are just another element in the ensuing chaos.
    We cannot answer the very core of Iraq mission. What are we doing in there? what exactly are we protecting?
    Answer: political process. The thing that will create sustainable stable government. But we don’t know what “political process” means in Iraq. We try to fake it with that election and install bunch of schmos and other bullshit…
    but Iraqis are not buying it… the whole thing goes to hell as we can see.

  29. ckrantz says:

    A question. Is this not a case for the so called powell doctrine? To solve the problem of Iraq and the vulnerability there we need a massive number of troops and heavy armour on the ground. Basically do a repeat of the first gulf war and use superior force to take control over the region.
    A a civilian i don’t know fast the pentagon could move troops into the region or if those troops exist but that is the only way I can see to securly go to war with iran in the current situation. I can’t see how any army could operate without a secure base area. If necessary make the political deals in Iraq that we need or can do to work with locals to find the Iranian networks operating. Set out a clear Middle East roadmap that includes a nuclear free zone and force israel to comply. Make it a bipartisan issue if possible and pledge the rest of the Bush Presidency to work for this goal.
    I guess what I’m saying is the administration needs to stop trying to do things on the cheap and get serious.
    And by the way can the all the kurds be assumed to be friendly? The kurdish areas on the map are marked as stable. I seem to recall they have good Iranian contacts going back to the 60s

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    From Yahoo News today:
    “You can start a war but it won’t be you who finishes it,” said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards and among the regime’s most powerful figures.
    “The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable. I would advise them not to commit such a strategic error,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran.
    I would advise them to first get out of their quagmire in Iraq before getting into an even bigger one,” General Safavi said with a grin.
    “We have American forces in the region under total surveillance. For the past two years, we have been ready for any scenario, whether sanctions or an attack.”

  31. zanzibar says:

    “We cannot answer the very core of Iraq mission. What are we doing in there? what exactly are we protecting?” – Curious
    I remember reading somewhere excerpts from an interview with Prince Faisal the Saudi Foreign Minister. He had asked Cheney why do you want to invade Iraq and the answer was “it’s doable”.
    The simple rationale for invasion was two fold – a) Bush’s ego – he became convinced that a “war president” was the hero and the way to be remembered b) Cheney and the neocons wanted to show the world who was boss and their machismo led them to find a “doable” target and enter the easily villained Saddam.
    I am convinced after witnessing their performance and competence there was no grand stratagery. It seems pretty clear that these guys are just a bunch of chest-thumping chickenhawks out to prove their “manliness” after having ducked as cowards when they had an opportunity to show real valor in Vietnam.

  32. rpe says:

    To do all that we’d need at least a million troops and be willing to take tens of thousands of casualties a year for decades. We’d also need the Chinese to lend us 10 trillion dollars or so. Not that victory is a sure thing even in this case.Not gonna happen. They’ll try and do it on the cheap with the new Revolution in Military affairs which is nothing but 1950s era, {like Rumsfeld}, “Victory Through Airpower” in a shiny new package. We’ll shock and awe em. It worked so well last time.

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think that Polk was a great president. pl

  34. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “We have American forces in the region under total surveillance. For the past two years.”
    Do you live in Iran? pl

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:

  36. Bob says:

    We seem not to have thought of Iranian special forces entering the US through Mexico and Canada.

  37. Eric says:

    Wellington is being interviewd tonight on Hardball by Edward R. Murrow.
    Actually, it might be Tommy Franks and Chris Matthews.
    Unfortunate all the way around.

  38. irene says:

    I believe there was another rationale for the war, related to your point:
    a) Bush’s ego – he became convinced that a “war president” was the hero and the way to be remembered
    They thought a victorious war President was a sure winner in 2004 and that this ‘doable’ war would provide them with plenty of stirring footage for Bush’s re-election campaign. Photo-op on top of photo-op on top of photo-op. ‘Mission Accomplished’ was just the opening salvo. no pun intended. They didn’t quite get the shots they were expecting. oh what the heck…. pun intended.

  39. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ok, although I assume you are a Persian. pl

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    Of course.

  41. lina says:

    “Unfortunate all the way around.” Posted by: Eric | 14 April 2006 at 06:54 PM
    You can say that again. Although finding a Rummy apologist to interview seems to be getting harder and harder. But not asking “who is accountable for the situation we find ourselves in?” seems amazing even for Chris M.
    And if I heard correctly, I believe Franks said there was zero planning for a post-Saddam insurgency. I guess we could figure that out. Thanks General. He also took a moment to dis Gen. Newbold.
    He did his shock & awe show, retired, wrote his book, and now it’s all someone else’s problem.
    “To solve the problem of Iraq and the vulnerability there we need a massive number of troops and heavy armour on the ground.” (ckrantz)
    Didn’t Gen. Westmoreland have 500,000 troops at one time? How’d that work out?

  42. lina says:

    Re Iran: Interesting thoughts on where we are with Ahmadinejad posted here

  43. James Pratt says:

    I think the American people had better be wary of electing another POTUS from Texas of either party. The risks taken and facts ignored for the sake of Big Oil by LBJ and GWB show what a career spent in the political culture of Houston can do. Extractive industries do not doom anyone to obsessive greed and callousness, but they tend to attract those of that bent.

  44. zanzibar says:

    PL, James Polk was a great President not only for his successul negotiation of the Oregon territory but the execution of the Mexican-American war. As my wiki refreshed history suggests he requested and obtained a congressional declaration of war prior to the campaign. From wiki, “Polk set four clearly defined goals for his administration: the re-establishment of the independent treasury, the reduction of tariffs, the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute, and the acquisition of California from Mexico.”
    Unfortunately GWB is no James Polk! There are no clearly defined objectives. And we have runaway deficits and debt and a war of choice in a quagmire. But what gets my goat is that Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, et al used every trick in the book to avoid the draft and now want to prove to the world their manly warrior nature at the expense of the lives of many people and a drain on our financial resources.

  45. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I have always admired Polk. pl

  46. Mac Nayeri says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but, yes, naturally we’d have to expect some reaction from elements of the Iraqi Shia populace that heretofore have remained on the fence, onlookers to our efforts in Iraq. But that is a far cry from suggesting that Iran would make war against Kuwait as the author suggested, or lay seige to the Green Zone.
    What is lost on many in the West is that Iraqi Shia are Arab, first and foremost; again, I know this will clash with the often presented face of the Iraqi Shia, but as evidence of this one only has to look to the 8 year Iran/Iraq war wherein the Iraqi Shia, for the most part remained loyal to Baghdad – did some take refuge in Iran? sure…but the lionshare saw themselves as Iraqi Arabs and fought their Shia ‘brethen’ tooth and nail. Of course, that was sometime ago, but I suspect it rings true today.
    One last thing – when I worked at VOA one of my duties was to scan the wires each day for content that was appropriate for our audience, namely Iran, while at the same time, listen in on what the state broadcasting agency was feeding people and then assist the senior journalist in crafting stories that up-ended the official line coming out of Tehran. The Erasmus piece was so slanted that it smacked of something I used to hear from the controlled, hardline press loyal to the clerical establishment.

  47. angela says:

    Is it true that the Iranians could bring in superior anti armor weapons? It would seem plausible that at a minimum these could seriously threaten the Bradley’s and Strykers.

  48. ali says:

    “Where in the spectrum of competence and motivation do the Iranian land forces fall into? Chinese or Eastern European or Indian/Pakistani or African or pre/post-Gulf War I Iraqi?”
    That’ll all depend on the kind of war.
    In a regular war the Iranians aren’t particularly competent or threatening, some elements of their forces are well trained and highly motivated but their kit is mostly old. Though from what I hear the demoralized continental European troops in Iraq are no match for Iraqi militia let alone the Iranians. The Iranians would face the US with the finest battlefield Army on the planet and the British whose soldiers and NCOs if not kit and officers are of gold standard Israeli quality. They’d be bloody fools to try it.
    In an irregular war the stories a little different, the Iranians have both experience, talent and a record of fighting them by proxy. You’d also have to consider this sort of war is not something most of the US Army was built to do.
    The US Army has a logistical genius but as Pat points out is also heavily reliant on these very logistics. Their line of supply seems a rather obvious target for the Iranians and this could create conditions far more threatening than the skirmishes in Al Anbar.
    On this topic I was reading:
    Which has the interesting notion of the US as not just an ahistorical but astrategic nation. That would explain a lot.

  49. dan says:

    A few other points to consider. There are 6000 Iranians travelling legally to Najaf as pilgrims every day, and there are probably the same number again crossing for other purposes. The capacity for the Iranians to surge large numbers of personnel is indisputable. The Iranians have “normalised” relations with all of their neighbours and Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan et al are permissive environments for Iranian operatives.
    With the exception of a contingent in Diyala province, there are no US forces stationed on the border with Iran – the only substantial coalition presence on the border is the MoD, with 8,000 troops in Basra and Maysan. UK commanders have intimated that they cannot hold their position if the Iranians/Iraqi Shia go postal on them.
    Whilst the scenario outlined concentrates on the Iraqi theatre, there are numerous other planning options that sit at the Iranians disposal.
    These range from the straightforward military options of “feinting” into Diyala, or the Kuwait gambit to knock out the US logistics platform, to leveraging the “political” chaos that unrest in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can offer, to missile/special forces attacks on US installations in the gulf ( all of which are subject to routine surveillance and, possibly, penetration by Iranian agents ), to the oil card, whereby they convince tanker owners that the war risks exemption clauses in their marine policies are about to be invoked, thereby halting all tanker traffic and 14 mbpd of oil transiting the Straits.
    Mac: what percentage of Iraqi Shia have to “sign up” to the scenario for it to be workable? 10%? Considering that the UIA polled nearly 50% of the Iraqi electorate, it’s fair to say that if there is a “clerical mandate” for this then the US military is, er, toast.

  50. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As it happens I know a good bit about the Iran-Iraq war from first hand experience.
    As I believe I said before the Iraqi Shia were badly divided by that war. It is true that the great majority were quite willing to fight Iran and did so, mant of them willingly, but there were also many who did not want to fight Iran and who constituted the “fifth column” who rose against the Iraqi Government at the end of the Gulf War when they thought Saddam was weak enough to be a good target. In that effort they had the active support of the Iranian Government. pl

  51. James Pratt says:

    The rosy scenario of a bombing campaign inciting an internal revolt in Iran smacks of the same wishful thinking by the
    Big Oil political friends, Israel lobby and shady expatriates that brought us the officially unpredicted ‘long war’ in Iraq.
    Iran has a population that overwhelmingly resents US support for the Shah and Israel. They know the US has held India and Israel to a much lower standard of nuclear compliance than they demand of Iran. This is not a regime that has been risking its people in military adventures provoking an American air war as Nazi Germany, militarist Japan and Serbia did. What will the options be for a future administration be if an enraged Iran puts nuclear facilities under a kilometer of granite in the mountains? Another quagmire?

  52. Curious says:

    Is it true that the Iranians could bring in superior anti armor weapons? It would seem plausible that at a minimum these could seriously threaten the Bradley’s and Strykers.
    Posted by: angela | 15 April 2006 at 05:27 AM
    During the opening of Iraq invasion, we lost an A1M1 Abrams via some new Russian anti tanks weapons. (search the net for news)
    I think armored vehicles role in major war is over. Any sufficiently advance nation can drop an anti tank weapon from a robotic plane easy.

  53. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t know about the future of armored vehicles but I recall that my dear old mom said much the same thing to me almost fifty years ago when I was considering taking a comission in Armor. pl

  54. Erasmus says:

    Mr. Mac Nayeri,
    That horse you keep beating is, indeed, quite dead. As dead as the parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch. Its time to bury it. “ How Bad Could it Get?” isn’t quite a worse case scenario, things actually could get worse than this, but it is pretty, damn, close. The scenario I outlined is not a probable outcome it is simply a possible outcome.
    The Shia of southern Iraq have been divided at times in the past but anyone thinking there wouldn’t be a profound reaction against us if we bomb Iran is clearly delusional. There are credible reports that the Shia community is already calling our, so far, failed efforts to bring a secular government into being “ The Second Betrayal”. We are neither loved nor liked by most of the Shia in Iraq and are on the verge of being barely tolerated. If their religious leadership, the Marja, issues fatwas calling for Jihad against us, the Shia will rise en masse. Under Shia practice, people are free to pick any Ayatollah as their spiritual guide and some Iraqi Shia follow Iranian Ayatollahs who, rest assured, will declare Jihad against America. When these people are combined with Sadr’s boys, Dawas followers, and Sciri’s thugs we would find ourselves in, to use a phrase from my youth, “ a world of Hurt”. It would be good to keep in mind that Ayatollah Sistani is an Iranian who has refused to accept Iraqi citizenship. He might take umbrage at us bombing his native country and killing his kith and kin.
    As for making war on Kuwait, as long as Kuwait plays host to any American forces it is a legitimate military target for the Iranians, if America attacks Iran. Any country in the world hosting American forces becomes a legitimate target.
    As for your remarks about the Iranian broadcasting service and your previous remarks about Iranian teenagers it smacks of the sort of vicious, unprovoked, and deeply, childish ad hominem attacks that have been the hallmark of so much of what passes for chickenhawk/neocon thought. Shooting the messenger adds nothing to the debate.

  55. Freeman says:

    Erasmus is right to point out that there is a worst case analysis. However, it’s the task of our armed forces to insure that such an outcome can never materialise, and I’m confident that they and their weapons are up to the job — okay not without some unpleasant losses. Remember that the Brits lost 20,000 dead before breakfast on the first day of the battle of the Somme.
    If the end is worth fighting for you have to be prepared to take losses, else you have to walk away from conflict. The political decisision is yours, but please don’t change your mind half way through.
    Many of the negative factors identified by Erasmus could have applied equally to the defense that Sadam might have set up. During our invasion of Iraq we were similarly vulnerable to interdiction of our supply lines and the whole thrust could have been blunted by Iraqi blowing up of bridges and by suicide attacks by troops with light machine gun against fuel tanker vehicles.
    But the worst case didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen in the future if we are forced to take out an Iranian nuclear threat — though there will, unfortunately, price to pay.

  56. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Inspiring. Thanks. Ever done any of this?

  57. Mac Nayeri says:

    My remarks are in rebuttal to your article – and are from the point of view that Iran would not react in the ways u suggested (attacking Kuwait/laying seige to the Greeen Zone).
    As to my own words, I’m quite sure you’d understand them not to be taken literally, that is to say, I have no doubt that you’re not a “a bright-eyed, comic book collecting, adolescent Iranian teenager.” Needless to say, I was writing metaphorically. In common parlance the word ‘metaphor’ describes a figure of speech used to paint one concept with the attributes normally associated with another. I hope this speaks for itself.
    While it is easy to support freedom of speech for those one agrees with, one’s true commitment to the principle is in how one respects the right of free speech for those they do not agree with. Clearly, we have fundamentally different perspectives on this subject. From your response, it’s clear you believe my remarks impugned on your right to those opinions. Nothing could he further from the purpose of my remarks and I unreservedly support your right to your own opinions. Indeed, I am glad that they are on the record. As for my own thoughts, I second PL’s analysis to the extent that attacking Iran by air will trigger SOME backlash amongst Shia Iraqi’s but nothing close to the catastrophic picture you painted.
    I look forward to reading more of your expert analysis.

  58. erasmus says:

    Mac Naveri,
    It is not your opinions I object to. Its your manners.

  59. Charlie Green says:

    Two more opinions on this subject.
    First, I think one of Curious’s premises is wrong. We don’t want Iran’s oil; we just don’t want China to get it. Which means China isn’t likely to bankroll this adventure.
    And I have a sneaking suspicion that our Wild Weasel radar smacking aircraft may have a higher mortality rate this go round. This will make those bombing runs much riskier.
    But I could be wrong. This may be a cakewalk, just like last time.

  60. RJJ says:

    Freely associating by way of war porn woodys, am I wrong about Victor Davis Hanson: is he a decent historian?

  61. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “I look forward to reading more of your expert analysis.”
    We don’t mock each other here. pl

  62. round says:

    Mac –
    The Iraqi Shia may have fought their Iranian coreligionists fiercely – and with regret – but this time the enemy wouldn’t be Arab or even Muslim. It’s doubtful their nationalist sentiment is strong enough for them to side with the US against Tehran. First get rid of the interlopers, then sort out the details after they’re gone.

  63. J says:

    the new fangled embassy rat hole that the bush crowd are pouring a ton-o-cash on/into, needs to be addressed.
    iraq isn’t post-wwii germany, nor anything close to it. and it seems that the bush crowd is looking at the mideast thru such a viewing prism – european, instead of mideastern. the sands of mideast time have poured their grains upon previous ‘invaders’, soooz….the embassy rat hole is a chunk-o-change that could be better spent — elsewhere.

  64. Mac Nayeri says:

    Having read the article, I’d be the first to bow to the fact Erasmus IS an expert in military affairs. That was sincerely offered.

  65. Curious says:

    the new fangled embassy rat hole that the bush crowd are pouring a ton-o-cash on/into, needs to be addressed.
    Posted by: J | 15 April 2006 at 11:24 PM
    What I want to know, who is the genius with the bright idea putting multibillion dolar facility in the middle of war zone.
    Is it some sort of exercise of absudity? Amazing.
    They could have at least build in Kuwait. (but then again, not even the Kuwaitis are that stupid wanting such problematic facility in their area)

  66. Curious says:

    I don’t know about the future of armored vehicles but I recall that my dear old mom said much the same thing to me almost fifty years ago when I was considering taking a comission in Armor. pl
    Posted by: W. Patrick Lang | 15 April 2006 at 10:47 AM
    well, think about it. Look at the trend of armored vehicles.
    It answers the “armored” part by going ever bigger. It means far more complicated logistic. The next generation armored vehicles will need a specialized new transporter to move it anywhere. Remembr how we got into trouble with Turkey and had to route the tanks around? Tanks has become costlier, more expensive to move around and give diminishing return.
    In the meantime, armor penetrating weaponry has become smaller and cheaper. Combined with small UAV any semi advance country can create cheap and effective anti tank strategy.
    Maybe the answer is going robotic tank. Just toss out all those useless armor, get rid of personel, and make the tank extremely cheap/disposable, go really fast and light.. but that is too futuristic.
    The biggest problem with tank of course. It lites up sattelite imagery like a nintendo screen. Everybody has sattelite nowadays. ya might as well give the opponent the entire battle plan. They can count how many tanks, how they move, where, time, location, trajectory, back calculate the supply line, attack pattern, the whole thing…
    If I have to say why Iranian is developing the sahab with specific black box dimension, it’s to fit their homemade micro sattelite. It’s not for nuke head.

  67. W. Patrick Lang says:


  68. Erasmus says:

    No. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He wrote one amusing and even somewhat useful book about Greek Phalanx warfare and then ruined it with his idiotic conclusion that the Greeks invented face to face combat with edged weapons, which then spread to the other “Western” (read that as White) peoples. Now my Irish, English, and Iroquois ancestors, along with a lot of other peoples, had been killing each other in face to face combat for thousands of years before the Dorians immigrated into Greece and ruined the place. Much of his writing since then has been a breathtaking ill-informed advocacy of various neo con projects to civilize the “lesser breeds that know not the Law”. Hanson was trained as a scholar of Classical Greece and has absorbed the classical Greek hatred and fear of the Persians. For him, it’s always a good day to march on Persepolis. Xerxes, Darius, Ahmadinejad – what’s the difference? Once a Mede, always a Mede. A very entertaining writer who calls himself “the War Nerd” wrote a vicious piece on Hanson for an online magazine called The Exile. You might find it interesting.

  69. canuck says:

    Sy Hersh has written a second article at the The New Yorker
    Lord help the coalition forces in Iraq, if what he strongly suspects becomes a reality. Sadly, I do believe what Hersh has written.
    This administration isolates itself and doesn’t listen to experts that don’t agree with their opinions. They have now convinced themselves they have the powers to declare war without the sanction of Congress. I expect they will give little or no notice to Congress before they launch their plans.

  70. canuck says:

    I predict if nuclear weapons are used against Iran by the United States, there will be very few allies in this mission.

  71. canuck says:

    What I should have said was Hersh’s article was confirmed by:
    William M. Arkin

  72. Curious says:

    It’s over.
    $70/barrel oil? Hold it another 2 weeks, we gonna have deep recession instead of shallow recession.
    By summer people will go rioting on the street because there is no job/economy hard landing.

  73. John Howley says:

    Editorial in The Forward, leading U.S. Jewish paper, points to disastrous consequences of Iran attack:
    The Risks of War.

  74. Tom Griffin says:

    I was interested that you discounted the threat to the US navy in the gulf in the previous LOC thread, as I’ve seen a number of reports that Iran possesses supersonic ‘sunburn’ missiles against which the navy has no effective defence. Is it just hype?

  75. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I am not a Navy person but from watching the US Navy operate in those waters before, I would think that the Iranians could probably get in one good hit in the transition from peace to wat (always difficutlt) but that after that they would lose their —. pl

  76. Curious says:

    This has Al qaeda finger prints all over. They start eating away the civilian infrastructure.
    Teachers beheaded in Baghdad in front of students
    Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.

  77. Curious says:

    So somebody what’s so different between us and Al qaeda in the middle east? Same tactic, same goal.
    Al qaeda is winning in that, we in the end can’t create stable regime. (in Iraq) And chaos persist and spread.
    If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. As of early winter, I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops “are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,” the consultant said. One goal is to get “eyes on the ground”—quoting a line from “Othello,” he said, “Give me the ocular proof.” The broader aim, the consultant said, is to “encourage ethnic tensions” and undermine the regime.

  78. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I suspect that a lot of that is BS fed to Sy as IO material pl

  79. rpe says:

    Col Lang,
    I’m not a Navy person either, but since the Iranians have had 18 years to digest the sharp lessons the USN taught them at the end of “the Tanker War” and acquire a large number of relatively modern antiship missiles, I’m not as sanguine as I used to be. The main target for the Iranians would be our Kuwait-bound transports and, I suspect, tankers carrying Kuwaiti oil. These are big, slow targets and Iranians with good binoculars, in conjunction with mobile land-based missiles, could be a lethal combination. I have read that in both the Tanker War and Gulf Wars I&II we were not able to locate and destroy a single Iraqi or Iranian mobile launcher. I have every confidence that the USN would eventually triumph — it always has — but I fear that the cost could be steep.
    If there are any retired Naval officers with expertise in these matters, I would love to hear from them.

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