Friday, September 20, 2019

Iran, We Got to Do Something?

By Larry C. Johnson - September 20, 2019 at 09:28AM

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Like a Japanese Kabuki dance Washington is in the grasp of War theater. Many pundits and members of Congress are filling the airwaves and offering up quotes demanding action. Demanding retaliation. We have to stand up to Iran. Only one little problem, the intel on the attack on the Saudi oil installations remains sketchy and hidden.

If the missiles were fired from Iranian territory then our intel collection certainly captured the launch or tracked the origin of the drones or missiles used in the attack. So where is it? I have heard from reliable sources that the info is being kept behind a highly classified wall and only those with access to this particular compartmented info can see it.

I only see four possibilities:

1. The missiles/drones were launched from Iran.

2. The missiles/drones were launched from Yemen.

3. The missiles/drones were launched from a maritime platform in the Persian Gulf

4. The missiles/drones were landed from a country that borders Saudi Arabia, such as Iraq.

Hmmm. I do not believe that if we had solid proof the attack came from Iranian territory that the United States would keep that info behind a Top Secret wall. I also doubt that we would try to hide the fact that the missiles/drones came from Yemen.

What if the missiles/drones came out of Iraq? That is something we would try to keep quiet. Having to admit that our "ally" (Iraq) was the origin of the attack brings with it a whole host of foreign policy problems. 

Meanwhile, with scant evidence before the public the drumbeat of hitting Iran remains strong. If this were not so damn dangerous I would be amused by the irony that Trump, who was portrayed by critics as deranged madman who will launch us into a war, is the one trying to exercise caution and restraint.

Colonel Lang's earlier piece warned the President that war with Iran will ensure he is only a one term President. He knows what he is talking about. Unless we are committed to a full war with Iran and defeating the Islamic Republic on the battlefield (set aside a trillion dollars and send 500,000 troops for that effort) we should not launch any kind of air strike--e.g., fixed wing, drones or cruise missiles. The amount of force we would deliver would not cripple Iran's capabilities.

This much is certain: Iran has the weaponry to strike decisively against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies of the Saudis and could severely damage Saudi Arabia's ability to pump oil and purify water. Taking out the Saudi water supply would be more deadly and damaging than anything Iran could do to the Saudi oil infrastructure. 

Then what? The political pressure in the United States to really hit back at Iran would escalate. Are you ready to pay that price? A military strike on Iran also raises the specter of the war spinning out of control and dragging in other countries. It is highly likely that oil exports from the Persian Gulf would be shutdown. That would likely touch off a global economic collapse.

We need to step back and try to define what it is that we are trying to do. Regime change in Iran? Destroy their nuclear program? Weaken Iran's influence in the Middle East? I do not see how US or Saudi airstrikes on a limited number of sensitive Iranian targets would advance any US interest or objective. I am open to your suggestions and analysis.

I have said nothing about cyberwarfare. I have heard some pundits suggest we should hit Iran on that front. Ok. Answer me this--whose economic system is more vulnerable to a cyber attack? The US or Iran? I believe the US has more to lose in such an encounter. Our economic sanctions on Iran have not made them more dependent on computer networks.

And how will Russia, China, Japan, Western Europe and India react. All but Russia rely on oil coming out of the Persian Gulf. What is the worst case for oil disruption? A responsible planner must take that into account in order to ensure the President understands the potential and long lasting ramifications of any "feel" good military strike.

Ever since the Korean War the United States public has been sold the lie that we can fight foreign wars and not have to make any sacrifices or incur any costs at home. What did our 1991 war to oust Iraq from Kuwait accomplish? We got the Iraqis back across the border and then became bogged down in trying to police Iraq for the next decade. How about the 2003 invasion of Iraq? We got rid of Saddam, ignited the ISIS threat and installed Iraqi Shias, who are beholden to Iran, in positions of power. And now we wonder how Iranian influence was able to spread throughout the region. We did that, not the mullahs.

And Afghanistan? I used to wonder how the Brits and the French fought the Hundred Years War. No longer. We seem hell bent on trying to match that record of futile conflict.

Can we defeat Iran and take out the mullahs? Sure, but at what cost? The cost would be enormous and I do not believe the American public are ready to pay the price.

Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis.

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