"The Washington Post said the House of Representatives’ intelligence committee report backed the White House position that Tehran was developing a nuclear weapons program that posed a significant danger to the US, but it chided the intelligence community for not providing enough direct evidence to support that assertion.
"American intelligence agencies do not know nearly enough about Iran’s nuclear weapons program" to help policy-makers at a critical time, the report said.
Information "regarding potential Iranian chemical weapons and biological weapons programs is neither voluminous nor conclusive", and little evidence had been gathered to tie Iran to al-Qa’ida and the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, it said. The report warns the US intelligence community to avoid the mistakes made regarding weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war, noting that Iran could easily be engaged in "a denial and deception campaign to exaggerate progress on its nuclear program as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs". " Washpost
Out of sight!
The last quotation is the best. "as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs." Right!! SH sought to "deceive" the world by not admitting that he no longer had any such capability." Yup. He fooled the US government and made us believe he still had capabilities that he did not have. No? Where is the evidence that he had such capabilities? The pitiful 20 year old stocks of artillery shells that someone has dug up and that the desperate (like Santorum) want you to believe were a threat to the US armed forces or the United States itself. By the way, I think Santorum is probably going to be elected, a commentary on Pennsylvania.
This 29 page retort from the House Intelligence Committee is so obvious a "stage setter" for another attack on the credibility of the Intelligence Community that this is just absurd.
The intelligence products that were used to justify the Iraq War were truly an intelligence failure as were the failed policy decisions and pressure that led to those documents.
What went wrong in the Intelligence Community?
1-Rotten leadership at the top that was both political and self-serving. (Tenet and Jacoby)
2-Unremitting neocon pressure on analysts and intelligence managers to "support policy" by finding evidence, however flimsy, to support PR campaigns against the American citizenry.
This kind of pressure against the analysts, which never demands a re-write, but always demands a re-consideration of unfavored views inevitably leads to the desired result if intelligence and policy leadership do not halt it.
By the way, the emphasis on "media management " and internal propaganda has continued unabated. Today, even formerly respectable military officers accept the concept of "information operations" directed at the American people. Such operations continue apace with the eager cooperation of the corporate media.
The various committees, boards, etc., who declared that no one had been pressured? Give me a break.. The Republicans like Roberts and those who wanted to curry favor were careful to interview officers in such a way as to make it clear that one could not entrust one’s fate to such people. In some cases the witnesses had been reminded by senior leadership before their testimony that they had not been "pressured."
So, now it has come again, the "beast that walks." The principal author of this report was John Bolton’s assistant in the State Department when the first "snow job" was underway. What new discoveries about Iran will be the product of such pressure?
I have been asked to write something off-line about military lessons learned from the Lebanon War.
Anyone who wishes to send me material as comment is asked to do so.
I probably won’t publish much of it on the site. pl
Dear Col. Lang,
I am of the opinion that Hoekstra is not that far removed from Curt “Able Danger” Weldon -land. Thank you as always, sir.
Few news items are as depressing as your post today. I feel like Private Upham when his platoon was about to execute the captured German soldier: “What is happening to us?”
Interesting view from the “other side of the hill”
Is there something strange about supporting a position without facts to back up that support? We are talking about another conflict that will further cripple our military and the economy.
It must be that intuitive, gut level knowledge, the kind of knowledge only given to those elected, that has led us to the Olympian heights of success with our foreign policy.
If the intelligence community analysis had stuck with their pre-Bush pre-neo-cooked estimates on Iraq, in hindsight, how wrong were they?
What are the current intelligence estimates on Iran (assuming these are also pre-neo-cooked)?
Pat Lang >”…What new discoveries about Iran will be the product of such pressure?”
I think we ALREADY KNOW what they will be & what sort of action they will support
Round 2 is upon us
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken
When you write that the principal author was Bolton’s assistant at State – do you mean Fred Fleitz? And if you do – Wow!
Might as well have had John Bolton write the report himself, with footnotes by Dick Cheney and Bibi Netanyahu….
“What new discoveries about Iran will be the product of such pressure?”
Good question. Where’s Curveball these days? Maybe he’ll know.
Has Negroponte gotten the Medal of Freedom yet? Perhaps they should speed up that process to get things flowing faster.
What difference in Lebanon would US “Bunker Busters’ have made? Re; military lessons from the Lebanon War.
Ever since the Fred Fleitz neo-con intelligence report came out trying to frame the case against Iran with the usual bogus claims and to pressure our professional intelligence analysts to come up with the “goods” on Iran, I having been wondering why now and in this public manner. What was the calculation that Cheney made?
In the Iraq scenario Cheney pressured CIA analysts privately to “fix the intel” and he wove fabrications generated by Doug Feith into the media narrative running an effective information ops on Americans. Now that his modus operandi is out in the open despite the stonewall from Roberts and his Senate colleagues, I am perplexed why they think they will be able to bamboozle the American public again in such an obvious manner. Corporate media shills like Judy Miller are exposed. Cheney himself is discredited and below Nixon Watergate approval level in the polls. Fleitz may yet get implicated in the outing of Valerie Plame. Bush is not coasting on a wave of credibility. But Gingrich, Lieberman, et al are providing the media backdrop of the WWIII guns. Although there are some sane voices yet speaking out like Hagel.
Is the American public that inattentive that they can be snowed twice in exactly the same manner or have the neo-cons lost their touch with subterfuge or is their unfolding domestic information operations another “winner” with tragic consequences for us and the people in the ME??
PL, I am not sure about Santorum winning – his negatives in the polls are pretty high for an incumbent. I’ll be shocked if he does. Of course, Casey is not much of a contrast.
Newt Gingrich’s 1996 GOPAC memo “Language : A Key Mechanism of Control” listing powerful positive words to use for the GOP: “courage,freedom,liberty,protect, pro-flag and family vs negative words for opponents: cheat,destroy, radical, anti- flag or family,liberal,traitors” has morphed now into “information operations” which foster a distorted prism of thought that many do not recognise. Any further comments that would help the uninitiated to recoginse the “propaganda” would be appreciated.
I am still wondering why the mainstream media has refused to find and interview the authors at the US Army War College International Strategic Studies (ISS) group who issued a recommendation that seems to envision a nuclear-capable Iran. Their report, GETTING READY FOR A NUCLEAR-READY IRAN, suggests ways to channel this capability in responsible ways that benefit Iran and the mideast region itself, and would calm some of the US’ fears.
Could it be bcause of the following recommendation that the report makes concerning Israel’s nuclear stockpile? According to this report, the US should remedy this perecption of favoritism towards Israel by:
From an Iranian persepctive, it must seem to be the height of US hypocrisy to demand that it not have nclear weapons while the US turns a blind eye to Israel’s own weapons.
The Army War College report’s recommendations would not only go a long way in heading off nuclear confrontation in the Mideast but also provide goodwill with Iran that can stabilize the region.
I do not get why they now openly pressure the Intelligence Community.
Anything that will be produced on Iran from now on will be seen as pressed for propaganda.
It will be as believable as these older predictions:
“Late 1991: In congressional reports and CIA assessments, the United States estimates that there is a ‘high degree of certainty that the government of Iran has acquired all or virtually all of the components required for the construction of two to three nuclear weapons.’ A February 1992 report by the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that these two or three nuclear weapons will be operational between February and April 1992.”
“February 24, 1993: CIA director James Woolsey says that Iran is still 8 to 10 years away from being able to produce its own nuclear weapon, but with assistance from abroad it could become a nuclear power earlier.”
“January 1995: The director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, testifies that Iran could have the bomb by 2003.”
“January 5, 1995: U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry says that Iran may be less than five years from building an atomic bomb, although ‘how soon…depends how they go about getting it.’”
/unquote/ – more at:
Dear Col. Lang,
I happen to be of the opinion that Hoekstra resides in a world that closely resembles Weldon – land. He just might have slightly better table manners…
Not intended as a comment on the article but as lessons learned:
Just going by publicly available soruces here are some lessons about tactics.
1: Western armies can no longer count on their infantry having qualitatively superior equiment to guerillas. Body armor, night vision, sophisticated comms have all become cheap enough and ubiquitous enough that guerillas can equip their troops with them.
2: Air power is only as effective as your intellegence on the ground.
The IAF was able to ‘shut down’ Lebanon quite effectively, but did not put a dent in Hezbollah’s ability to fight back or launch rockets.
Unless you can tell your pilots where to hit and when, air power is limited to attacks on things that can be seen on satelite images or on recon flights.
Which brings me to point 3
3: Underground fortifications are effective against air power.
Hezbollah’s tunnels and hardend bunkers allowed them to withstand israeli airstrikes, aritllery and armor, and continue to fight.
I’d also say that this proves you should never go to war unless the civilian leadership and population are prepared for it to go badly. Otherwise unexpected developments on the battlefield can lead to panic at home. And panicking civilian leaders (and generals worried about their jobs) don’t seem to behave intellegenlty. Witness the calls in Israel for a push to the Litani, or an even more massive air campaign, or attacking Syria or Iran.
Couldn’t agree more Pat. Not only in the CIA but Australian analysts were asked to fall into line with the WMDs in Iraq policy direction.
Even ex spooks without access could see this abortion of the intelligence process happening.
But for Isreal’s will the world could probably live with a nuclear Iran. We’re living with Pakistan and that country is potentially unstable as well.
As Justin Raimondo points out in his screed today, the two main reasons US intelligence is blind on Iran are:
a/. Neo-con ally Ahmed Chalabi informed the Iranian government that America was reading all its top secret traffic, and
b/. Valerie Plame, who headed the CIA’s efforts to uncover Iran’s nuclear programme was, with her entire outfit, outted by Libby and his other neo-con chums.
I think its fairly obvious that we are being set up to bomb Iran. We are demonizing them at present.
If you actually read the report (its on the web) you will find its “self referential”. By that I mean look at the source of the conclusions.
“Iran likely has an offensive chemical weapons research and development capability.7”
“• Iran probably has an offensive biological weapons program.8”
The sources are:
“7 U.S. Department of State, Adherence and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament
Agreements, August 2005, pp. 55-56.
8 U.S. Department of State, Adherence and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament
Agreements, August 2005, pp. 20-21.”
When you actually go and look at the specified sources, you find language like
“The Iranian BW program has been embedded within Iran’s extensive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries so as to obscure its activities.”
There is no evidence that it has a program, merely the assertion that because it has a biotech industry it could have a BW program. It sops short of saying they posess weapons, merely that they have a capability or a “program”.
What will happen now is that the vague assertions of the State department have been amplified by the House Intelligence Committee, and in due course Foxnews and other right wing pundits will announce that Iran posesses CW and Bio weapons, deployable in 45 minutes against Israel, Iraq, Europe and the United States as facts.
As I said, we are being dragged into war.
re.”as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs”
This is possibly reffering to a point that is often made to me by proponents of the Iraq war which is if Saddam had nothing to hide, why was he placing the limitations, impediments and obstructions on weapons inspector activity in Iraq.
The argument is of course flawed in many ways. First, to believe that the sum knowledge of the intelligence community was based on Saddams prevarcations is juvenile, especially since Hans Blix was reporting that he was coming to the firm conclusion that there were no WMD’s (and hence the need to rush to invade before the final report was made to the security council).
Second, the belief that he had WMD’s meant sanctions. And Sanctions were a god send to Saddam. He could spin the sanctions as proof that the west were against all Iraqis and bolster his support. Futhermore a population that is too hungry, too ill and too weak, is population easily managed.
Thirdly, we all know, especially from recent events, the importance of perception of power in the ME. A Saddam that allowed the inspectors to go where and when they pleased would have shown him to be emasculated and weak….A position that has terminal effect in the ME.
All of the above have absolutely no relevance to Iran. It gains nothing from pretending to be any further developed in its nuclear capabilities. Unless they were actually pretending to have developed the technology, built the warheads and the delivery system, pretending to further advanced would not be a deterent but a red rag to the bull of White House policy.
I was more intruiged by the line “backed the White House position that Tehran was developing a nuclear weapons program that posed a significant danger to the US, but it chided the intelligence community for not providing enough direct evidence to support that assertion.”
What? We believe you even though you can’t prove it?
Saddam would be proud.
Re. Comment on military lessons learned in Lebanon. My military knowledge is far too basic to contribute anything worthwile but I wish you luck and hope you can let us know where the article will be published
Comments regarding leadership at the top of the IC are right on! Suggest not just the very top are guilty but you need to go down a few echelons and examine the motives of those people – I am sure they all saw promotions in their future, and many of them, at least in your old organization got them.
The facts did not change…just the forced relooks and analysis until the result was what the policy makers wanted. As far as I am aware, the only news facts were those developed by DIA which in the end all turned out to be INC manipulations.
“What difference in Lebanon would US “Bunker Busters’ have made? Re; military lessons from the Lebanon War.”
Not much,assuming that they were not actually employed.The problem was finding the bunkers in first place.
“Western armies can no longer count on their infantry having qualitatively superior equiment to guerillas. Body armor, night vision, sophisticated comms have all become cheap enough and ubiquitous enough that guerillas can equip their troops with them.”
A very questionable assesment.Hizballah has decent funding, the chechens had soviet depots.
But in general it is almost always a diet of RPG-7s with first generation rounds (which current western MBTs can shrug off at least for the most part), AKMs with standard bullets (which can be stopped by western body armor), old soviet mortars,ZPUs,Grad, recoilless and the occasional Strela.That is what is available to standard guerrilla group because that is what is cheap and abundant, albeit not too much effective.
The un-neoconned opinions of the IC relative to Iraq were heavily caveated as to what was not known.
The level of uncertainty felt at that time would have made it much more difficult to sell the war.
Tne neocons and their academic acolytes are still pushing the idea that the collective judgment of the IC is valueless and that the function of intelligence is to provide justification for policy decisions already reached on the basis of God knows what. pl
Estimating market price of modern weapons systems is a bit tricky.But AFAIK for a Milan missile, which has been mass produced by the hundreds of thousands, I hear price tags in excess of the ten thousands of dollars.A Reflecks (a russian tank gun barrell fired ATGM) was said to cost as much as a car to make.In the third world that’s serious money.
Re:Your Lebanese Lessons Learned paper.
Saw this analysis at European Tribune. Best internet analysis I have seen, except here, and very good maps.
Might help some.
America will attack Iran because God told President Bush to do it – he has admitted to daily conversation with the deity. If God has ordered it, it will happen. Period. Thus, intelligience becomes irrelevant. How can some analysts or committee over-rule God?
Fortunately, all Iran needs to do moving forward to avoid war is to continue providing responses which split the international community, not responses which actually addresses the “concerns” of the US and/or UK.
Lessons were not learned in the Iraq War and so we have the coming Iran War. In the same way, the lessons that were not learned in Operation Litani in 1978 lead to Israel trying almost the exact same thing in 2006, with entirely predictable results.
Other, more basic lessons such as killing civilians does not endear you to a population and that strategic bombing is less than useless should have been learned 80 years ago.
Like many, I find these deceitful and duplicitous milestones along the route to war riveting and am grateful they’re prominently featured. However, if war’s to be avoided, the adverse consequences must be so broadly and viscerally comprehended that even its promoters are deterred. That said, I offer the following:
1. 130K US/UK soldiers in desert redux of Chosin/Dien Bien Phu.
2. Collapse of the apostate regimes of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and (nuclear armed) Pakistan.
3. US/UK aircraft carriers & warships in Persian Gulf/Hormuz Straits/Oman Gulf redux of INS Hanit.
4. China & other creditors call in US debt.
5. Hormuz Straits close to commercial traffic.
6. By others….
Re: Lessons Learned TPAjax2, Act 1 (Liban)
Restated in modern terms, the eternal verities revalidated:
4. Although you can, in fact, dig coal and pump oil with bayonets, albeit inefficiently, you must never ever sit on them. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/009501.php
3. When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the US on “disproportionate force”
LG Dan Halutz, IDF COS on military means & political objectives
2. In war, the moral is to the material as three is to one.
1. Don’t fight the war for which you are prepared. Prepare for the war you will fight. No mere “terrorist organization” could prepare for and conduct this war
0. All of which affirms the late Col. Boyd, “Machines don’t fight wars. People do, and they use their mind. People, ideas and hardware. In that order”
P.S. With this shameful act of primitive, brutal and inept aggression, Israel’s Herut/Likud/Kadima faction and its Labor enablers can count Diaspora Jewry’s rank and file among the collateral damage.
Thank you for your succint explanation of “what went wrong in the intelligence community.” Your explanation better summarizes the situation in the intel community better than the 9/11 Commission and the WMD Commission.
Yesterday, I was watching Amb. James Dobbins on C-Span talk about his experience in Afghanistan, and how the Iranians were pretty cooperative in our efforts to oust the Taliban and start the Karzai government there in 2001-2. Video and discussion is here. Dobbins said that proposals by the Iranians on security issues were met with silence from Washington. A friend who was SF in Afghanistan has also told me about the way that US and Iranian special forces were pretty friendly on the local level during the campaign.
Ahmedinajad is crazy, but he’s under control by the Council of Guardians and will pass. The links between and common interests of Iran and the USA should lead to friendly relations. Iran is more democratic than most of the Middle East countries we are allied with. They’ve been willing to talk to us, but we keep insisting on obeisance as a prerequisite for talking. Maybe if they sent Bush a chocolate cake . . . .
This whole campaign against Iran seems insane in the way Pearl Harbor was insane for the Japanese, Barbarossa for the Nazis, or the Somme for the British.
Attacking Iran will lead to a disaster for the US in Iraq and probably throughout the Gulf.
So they want to bomb Iran. When US and UK bases in southern Iraq are overrun and missiles are landing on the US Navy base on Bahrain, on bases in Qatar, Kuwait, and Masiryah, and tankers and US Navy ships are sunk, what will they do then?
“Tne neocons and their academic acolytes are still pushing the idea that the collective judgment of the IC is valueless and that the function of intelligence is to provide justification for policy decisions already reached” – PL
Can the professional career officers in the IC push back without having to resign and worry about paying the bills?
Based on the experience with the lead up to Iraq we know that the Cheney led neo-cons and GWB with support from the Republican-controlled Congress will manipulate the American public through an information operations campaign. This campaign will be extensive and will include many channels from private corporations like the Rendon Group that receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of taxpayer funded contracts as well as the co-opted corporate media. Lest we forget, the Rendon Group in conjunction with corporate media shills laundered several stories including the bogus uranium claim as well as the Chalabi-Curveball fabrications.
Since there is no effective political opposition in the country or organized counter to the neo-con propaganda campaign, would the professionals in the IC schooled in the art of the “shadows” use their skills to expose the bamboozlement? There seems to be a precedent with professionals in the NSA concerned about the warantless spying on Americans. This has now resulted in a court declaring that the President broke the law and such warantless spying is unconstitutional. Of course, there is a long road in the legal process in this case but the fact that this information is out in the open allowed the court to discount the state secrets argument provided by the DoJ attorneys.
What went wrong in the Intelligence Community? It is now the Department of Propaganda.
My DOD contacts express great displeasure at their treatment in Iraq. A phony political predicate; an ill-defined mission; inadequate force levels…and then, to top it off, Condoleeza and other priceless nitwits blaming them (DOD officers and men) for “tactical errors”
Disgusted is too soft a word.
Col. Lang: Cd you give some assessment of how realistic an assault on Iran might be, assuming that the NeoCons/AIPAC get Congress to roll over?
When I look at the map — well, it’s five times the size of California! Population +- 70 million! What could we possibly do, other than blowing up their electrical/telecom grid?
And wouldn’t they respond with an all-out assault on the (Sunni Arab) oil facilities across the Gulf?
My Wall St. colleagues tell me that would effectively shut down the US, European and Asian industrial economies and throw global economic growth into reverse for an unknowable period of time
RE: “Ahmedinajad is crazy”
How so? He’s a good speaker, well-educated, and very popular. Other than the general condemnation of Isreal that the entire Middle East shares (i.e., European Jews brutalizing the native Palestinians) how is he crazy? Or is this simply FOX NEWS time?
“Is the American public that inattentive that they can be snowed twice in exactly the same manner”
I mean, of course they are….
The Neocons are just like the Japanese militarists in their world view save one thing. The Japanese were willing to put themselves on the front line for their beliefs whereas the Neocons are willing to put everyone else on front line excluding themselves.
Taki Theodoracopulos has them pegged correctly– “sofa samuris”.
Something is always easy as long as it is someone else who is having to do it.
Have you read the Tony Cordesman piece that I gave a link to several weeks ago? I found it unsparing.
Is the military going to be capable of dissuading this administration from attacking Iran?
Where is the evidence…?
Col, apparently , it now depends on what the meaning of “evidence” is.
Good Day, Col Lang,
I have a question for you and other posters with an understanding of military matters.
There are extended war games going on in many provinces throughout Iran. Are they just sabre rattling or are they reshaping Iranian defences from things learned in Lebanon? If they are reshaping Iran as a defensive battlefield,what exactly does that mean? Would they be building fortifications or moving the position of troops, or what? If Iran does have one or two thousand agents in Iraq and certainly has divisions on the border, could they hold off the American Army, if they took say 1,000 American soldiers prisoner and retreated into a Fortress Iran? Or, are the Israelis just temporarily out of shape?
I guess that is my basic question, knowing what you know now, how would the United States Army do if we have war with Iran? Is Lebanon a message for all large armies or a special case?
Thank you as always, Col Lang and thanks to anyone with the knowledge or ideas on my questions. I’d really like to know if there was any big military lesson in Lebanon, or was that a one shot deal against unprepared Israeli troops?
Thanks, Hal Carpenter
The tired efforts at demonizing opponents and the overt attempts to suborn the intelligence community yet again may be most significant for the fact that all this stuff is perfectly obvious. They don’t care. They are on the brink of losing one or both houses of Congress and it doesn’t really matter. They will have two more years to wield supreme executive power and they have made it very clear that their definition of that is just about anything they can think up to do. If they get us into another war, what is a Democratic Congress going to do, cut of funds for the military? They long ago severed their connection with earthly, secular institutions of legitimacy and patched into higher levels of moral authority. Democracy is for the rubes. To them we are just gesticulating figures on the other side of the glass. They don’t even bother anymore to act like they can’t hear us.
“When US and UK bases in southern Iraq are overrun” – Green Zone Cafe
Its already happening!
BRITISH troops yesterday pulled out of a camp in southern Iraq where a soldier was wounded in a mortar attack on Wednesday, and handed the position over to local forces.
Abu Naji has come under frequent attack, suffering a barrage of 17 mortar rounds the day before the pull-out, leaving one soldier in hospital. He is described as in a “stable condition”.
Hat tip Juan Cole
GZC, Ahmadinejad as a crazy man is definitely a meme in the US. But it seems his comment on the zionists being eliminated may not be an accurate translation of his farsi comment.
The Iranians have been running a series of large-scale and complex military exercises for a number of years now. Each time they do so, they unveil at least one new weapons system which US military planners have to factor in to their calculations.
Lebanon was a good live-fire demonstration of a minimal set of options that Iran has at its disposal – particularly the capacity of medium range artillery and missile systems to tie a lot of aerial resources down and successfully disrupt port operations ( Haifa was shut down for the conflict ). These can easily be adapted for use against gulf shipping, some US bases in Iraq, the port of Kuwait and the US logistics platform in the Kuwaiti desert.
The purpose of these exercises is to, hopefully, deter the US militarily and to maintain a high degree of Iranian readiness to respond.
The US army is not going to enter Iran – forces in Iraq are already fully deployed as is and cannot undertake two missions simultaneously – the best that they can do is plan for the possibility of Iranian retaliation and how to respond to Iranian incursions into Iraq. The performance of IDF special forces was less than stellar, and it remains to be seen whether their US counterparts would be more successful.
Furthermore, the disposition of US forces in Iraq is such that they are largely positioned in the centre and west of the country. They’re even further away in Afghanistan, where Iran already has achieved some strategic depth in the west of the country.
The only exception in the Iraqi region is Diyala – and the question here would be whether the Iranians attacked US installations there ( battlefield artillery, air assault, ground attack are all options available to Iran and they are probably capable of being integrated ) and whether the US has a sufficiently large force in place to defend the area before reserves can be deployed.
The question that is as yet unanswered is the extent to which the Iranians may have already prepared an Iraqi battlefield. Do they have agreements with the Shia clerical authorities regarding a response to a US attack? Who knows – but we do know that the Iranians have permanent representation in Karbala and Najaf, whilst US officials are, to be blunt, unwelcome. It’s also unclear to what extent Iran has already pre-deployed personnel and materiel in Iraq, and whether it could surge personnel on short notice ( IIRC, the Iraqi government allows 6000 Iranians to travel to Najaf daily – and that’s before we factor in the numbers who enter unofficially ).
If the US does attack Iran, the only way that the Iranians can shape a satisfactory outcome for themselves is to go on the offensive in Iraq where the US military is in a vulnerable position. If they remain passive in the face of an assault, it will simply lead to further attacks.
Sorry for my facetious comment, I get nervous when I see a man on TV who says he “Talks to God daily”. Especially when he has an aide carrying the “nuclear football” beside him. I just hope God doesn’t tell him to launch.
If you view the Lebanon skirmish as a learning exercise for both sides, then it leads me to wonder what lessons will be drawn for the next round in Iran.
I find it interesting Hizbullah only fired less than 5 of their long range missiles. Testing their accuracy without wasting too many? Monitored by IRG troops and Iranian intelligience? Lesson learned – they work ok, but are not as accurate as they want them to be? They only fired 1 anti-ship misile which hit the target – reputed to be an older Silkworm. Lesson learned – works good, newer “Sunburn” missiles are even better! Fired many Saggers and some Milans and newer Soviet missiles. Lesson learned – most any anti-tank missile can be effective when used properly (fired at side/rear of the AFV from ambush), the newer ones are even better but in a pinch a Sagger is still good. I have read that Iran manufactures their own domestic versions of these Soviet/Chinese designed weapons. It seems Iran’s weapons manufacturing is capable, and they probably pay much less per unit than any western army – modern warfare on a budget. I bet the IRG are busily digging bunkers everywhere in Iran.
On the Israeli side, with USAF officers no doubt observing – the air campaign was a failure, many bombs were dropped but no real objectives were achieved, and the populace was inflamed against Israel, a classic “blowback”. Lesson (incorrectly) learned for Iran – “we have to hit them harder with bigger bombs!”.
I bet the nuclear bunker busters are back on the planning table – except the “blowback” will be 100 times worse if they are used. It seems clear a US/Israel attack on Iran (I don’t see any other western or Gulf nations joining in, they are wisely going to stand aside IMHO) will be a “Shock’n’Awe” campaign, with predictable results – infrastructure destroyed, populace aroused, patriotic support for Iranian hardliners soaring. I have read neocons babbling about how bombing Iran will cause the government to fall – much more likely to cause millions to volunteer for “martyrdom operations”.
This post is getting long, will post more later. For a timely analysis of recent neocon activity, try:
Sgt. York, zanzibar, Ahmedinajad is crazy in that he feeds our crazies with material. I know that some of his speeches are mistranslated for effect, but no doubt he’s said things which violate the “speak softly . . ” rule.
Green Zone Cafe:
Mr. Ahmadinejad is not crazy.
He has wrapped himself in the mantle of Islam. He effectively has raised the stakes by conflating Iran & Islam-an attack on Iran is the same as an attack on Islam.
Furthermore, in my opinion, large majorities of Muslims are in agreement with his statement on Israel & the Holocaust.
On the Holocaust and Israel, the so-called West has clearly “lost” the Muslim people.
Even the heads of Muslim states and governments are in general agreement with him; they just do not think it “politic” to make their views known.
Iran’s government may look crazy to western neocons, but I fail to believe they are too stupid to understand the principle of MAD. Israel now has 5 ICBM capable “Dolphin” class submarines bought from West Germany (and one third paid for by taxpayers in Germany – guilt over WWII fuels WWIII). These subs can launch nuclear ICBM’s from underwater, and have been armed with Israeli and American misiles, both cruise and ballistic. I am sure Iran is well aware of these subs existence, and also the Israeli hardened ICBM silos desigend to withstand a first strike and then launch. Logically, since Israel is reputed to have well over 300 nuclear and hydrogen warheads, any Iranian attack would be met with Israel retaliation which would make Iran into a radioactive parking lot.
So the “threat” from any Iranian nuke is vastly over-stated, given the predictable retaliation which looms over their heads.
A quick look at a map shows Iran is surrounded by nuclear powers on all sides: Pakistan, Russia, USA (bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, other ‘Stans, Bahrain, Kuwait etc.) and Israel and India just beyond. If you were Iranian, wouldn’t you think you need a nuclear deterrent? I never see anyone mention this in the MSM, though it is obvious. I don’t support Iran, but you need to understand what motivates someone before you can decide on a response.
IMHO North Korea will supply Iran with working nuclear weapons at some point soon, rendering the debate about “heavy water” plants in Iran redundant.
Got A Watch:
Under NPT provisions a state may obtain a functioning nuclear weapon from another state (as far as I know).
Thanks for the post. It cleared a lot of things up. I didn’t know Iran was conducting regular large field problems, but it makes sense when they are under such intense observation. The sense of your whole piece chills things down a bit. They are more orderly than I was seeing, and not quite as dangerous at the moment.
I sense a lull in violence in the Mid-East.(of course, the governments are all taking credit for a downturn, not a lull.), and I thought that it was because of Lebanon and Nasrallahs ascent. I wondered if all the players talking and shifting alliances, but that the Muslim movement was still getting ready to punish America and Israel.
Maybe not,Dan, your post limits a lot of options for both sides. It gives me a sense of more structure than I knew existed there.
And President Alphabet from Iran made a truly consilliatory speach, according to the invaluable Juan Cole at Informed Comment… http://www.juancole.com ..
The Press was more than happy to print the mistaken translation about “wiping Israel off the map”. I hope they find space for himsaying that the only changes Iran wants to make in Israel are through free elections.
Thanks again Dan, and thanks for the forum ,Col Lang, maybe the war drums do sound a bit quieter today and chaos isn’t howling quite so loud.
Got A Watch, just a minor correction, the Dolphin class are not ballistic missile submarines. If used as a nuclear delivery system, they’d be launching cruise missiles through their torpedo tubes, rather than vertical launch ballsitic missiles like the Typhoon or Ohio class subs.
I discussed Iraq with a spectrum of Iraqi exiles last week. They represented a pretty broad confessional mix, including Christians.
One person said he thought that there were 1-2 million Iranians in Iraq. This wasn’t disputed by the others.
I do not know what our intel assessment is, but I would think that Iran has excellent intel about our forces in Iraq and some pretty serious capability in place to deniably disrupt logistics.
So: an attack on Iran would require some re-posturing in Iraq. Watch for redeployment of our own troops, that would be a sign of serious commitment.
“1-2 million Iranians in Iraq”; just another lie.
How about “new Iraqis?”
Any thoughts on the Ramsey farce as evidence of “Dusk in America?” pl
Farce it was.
As you are probably aware, the Muslim historian referred to pre-Islamic period (specially in Arabia) as the Darkness (Jahiliyya). (Before them, Rabbis rejected Rome as essentially anti-God.)
When a Muslim is confronted by the contemporary American scene, one of the things that will no doubt strike him is this drift towards Darkness.
A case in point is that in the United States there is serious debate re-defining marriage to include homosexuals. At the same time, US has made polygamy illegal. Large numbers of Muslim people (in hundreds of millions) find this incomprehensible.
Other examples are stem-cell research, assisted suicide, and surrogate motherhood.
Vast areas of Earth are in Darkness (China, Japan, Korea, parts of Africa,). EU seems to be crowing about its direction towrds Darkness.
US, one could argue, is also on that path, but since it started long after EU, it has not gone as far towards Darkness.
Morality is tricky. What is Darkness to some is Light to others.
Social mores have varied over time and under different contexts. There seems always to be conflicts between acceptable and unacceptable. And consistency does not seem to be a human trait.
I have traveled extensively in India where religious traditions and rituals are very much at the surface and the dissonance between rational and spiritual very apparent. Yet notions of morality never consistent.
Morality is a method for reaching an aim.
Darkness is the denial of the existence of an aim, or alternatively, the identification of the aim with the collective powers of mankind.
Got A Watch,
“Dolphin” class submarines bought from West Germany (and one third paid for by taxpayers in Germany – guilt over WWII fuels WWIII). These subs can launch nuclear ICBM’s from underwater, and have been armed with Israeli and American misiles, both cruise and ballistic.”
You’re bringing up a myth I’m happy to rebuke:
#1 – Guilt:
Yes, to an extent. It has also to be understood as a hidden subsidy to the German shipyards involved, in the tradition of US ‘Military Aid’. Low risk too, because it is unlikely the Israelis will ever provide something as embarassing as footage of Israel using a Dolphin class sub against stone throwing Palestinians.
#2 – The boats:
The boats have 6x 533mm and 4x 650mm calibre torpedo tubes, that means they can launch cruise missiles and torpedoes. They can launch Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles. They never received ‘the real thing’, Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US.
#3 – Size matters:
Then there is the question of size. Both are too large to fit. Israel is frankly incapable of modifying the Dolphins themselves, by adding sections needed to hold ICBM or IRBM launchers. They don’t have the know-how. If they did, the changes would be clearly visible, like on a Boa snake that ate a sheep.
An ICBM, like the American Trident has a length of 13m, the older polaris has a length of 10m. Israel’s Jericho-1 and 2 missile both have a length of 14m. The hull diameter of the approx 1600ts Dolphin boats is 6.2 m. They are too small for missiles.
#4 – Possible alternatives:
* Germany has built external ‘mine belts’ for their tiny Type-206 A submarines, which can be fitted when needed, and then allow to carry mines without sacrificing torpedo load. It effectively doubled their warload. It is possible that a missile carrying belt could be developed. Yet nothing like that has ever been spotted or reported to have been developed for or by Israel.
* Also, Israel could perhaps modify something smaller, perhaps a field artillery rocked like their MAR-350, for sub launch, but it would probably be too unprecise, and offer less throw weight to range than a cruise missile. They’d rather invest in a cruise missile.
#5 – Bottom line:
I hold Israel to be perfectly capable of modifying a missile, like their drone Delilah, to have a long range and carry a nuclear warhead, and to be fired from a torpedo tube.
Cruise missiles – yes, ballistic missiles – impossible.