The Consequences Of Attacking Iran

An attack on Iran is likely to unleash consequences that we are unprepared to deal with.

The New York Times reports this afternoon on the results of a war game conducted earlier this month that attempted to play out what might happen if Israel struck Iranian nuclear facilities, as many have speculated they might end up doing this year:

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation exercise held this month to assess the American military’s capabilities to respond to an Israeli attack on Iran forecast that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict. But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policymakers over the consequences of any possible Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those within the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.

The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first-strike would likely have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.

The two-week war game, called “Internal Look,” played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by launching its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.

The exercise was designed specifically to test internal military communications and coordination among battle staffs in the Pentagon, Tampa, where the headquarters of the Central Command is located, and in the Persian Gulf in the aftermath of an Israeli strike. But the exercise was written to assess a pressing, potential, real-world situation.

In the end, the war game reinforced to military officials the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of a strike by Israel, and a counterstrike by Iran, the officials said.

For example, we don’t know how the Iranians would react to an Israeli attack. Direct retaliation against Israel would seem to be the most likely response, but there’s also the possibility that they’ll engage in unconventional means of response. In fact, the posited outcome in this war game, a direct Iranian attack on an American warship strikes me as the least likely possibility of all. Say what you might about the Iranians, but they aren’t stupid, and a direct attack on an American ship in the Persian Gulf or the Straits of Hormuz would likely bring down a rain of fire upon their heads, not just bombing attacks on nuclear facilities, but on other elements of the Iranian military and political infrastructure. It would be, arguably, the only thing that any American President could do and still maintain their own political credibility. Of course, there’s always the unknown factor:

Many experts have predicted that Iran would try to carefully manage the escalation after an Israeli first-strike in order to avoid giving the United States a rationale for attacking with its far superior forces. Thus, it might use proxies to set off car bombs in world capitals or funnel high explosives to insurgents in Afghanistan to attack American and NATO troops. While using surrogates might, in the end, not be enough to hide Iran’s instigation of these attacks, the government in Tehran could at least publicly deny all responsibility.

Some military specialists in the United States and in Israel who have assessed the potential ramifications of an Israeli attack believe that the last thing Iran would want is a full-scale war on its territory. Thus, they argue that Iran would not directly strike American military targets, whether warships in the Persian Gulf or bases in the region.

Their analysis, however, also includes the broad caveat that it is impossible to know the internal thinking of the senior Iranian leadership, and is informed by the awareness that even the most detailed war games cannot predict how nations and their leaders will react in the heat of conflict.

This is always a problem, of course, but it strikes me as a bigger one with respect to Iran since it seems pretty clear that our intelligence regarding the internal operations of the Islamic Republic is pretty thin. At least during the Cold War we had agents in place that were supported to be providing us with intelligence about what the Soviet leadership was thinking and doing, although even in that case it was clear that we didn’t really quite understand how the men in Moscow viewed the world. For example, in 1983 NATO undertook a ten day military exercise called Able Archer that was designed to play out a war game scenario that envisioned escalating tensions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, ground war, and eventual nuclear exchanges. What nobody what was participating in the exercise seemed to realize, though, was how the game was being interpreted in Moscow. According to some versions of the events published later, the Soviet leadership was taking the increased communications between military officials in Europe and the United States as signs that a first strike was being planned, despite continued assurances from their own agents on the ground that there were absolutely no signs of increased military activity in Europe. According to some versions of this event, including this report the CIA  makes available on their website, preparations were being made for a possible pre-emptive strike before assurances were finally received and believed. Whatever actually happened, though, the point is that even in a situation where we thought we knew our enemy, we really didn’t know how they were reacting to our actions. What makes us think we have any real idea how the Iranians are going to react in the event of an Israeli (or American) attack?

With every new development, we seem to be finding ourselves pushed closer and closer to military conflict with Iran. Given the ongoing civil war in Syria and the presence of about 100,000 of our own troops in neighboring Afghanistan, it strikes me that we’re taking quite a risk without fully thinking through the consequences of what we’re doing. The last time we did that, we ended up fighting two wars for ten years.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics, World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug this story could well be a calculated leak. I agree an attack on Iran by Israel would be a disaster of major proportions for them and us and that’s why it’s probably not going to happen. I certainly don’t see Obama allowing the US to be sucked into a war with Iran although Romney might given that Republican foreign policy formulation is dominated by neocons and the pro Israeli lobby.

  2. @Brummagem Joe:

    The possibility of a calculated leak had not escaped my mind.

    And I’m not sure I share your assurance regarding the unlikelihood of war. First of all, the United States cannot control Israel’s actions. Second, regardless of who the President is we will, in the end, fall in line behind them regardless of who the President happens to be. Third, the possibility of being dragged into a conflict by circumstances beyond the control of either us or Israel remains high.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Mmm, I’m not too sure about this one, Chief. The bravo sierra detector is on full alert.

    Didn’t the liberal media say the same thing about the 2003 Iraq war? Hell, didn’t the far left say the same thing about the 1st Iraq War??

    A potential conflagration that would devour the entire Middle East? A potential spike in oil prices that would destroy the entire global economy? A potential refugee problem unseen in scale since the end of WWII? A potential 2nd Vietnam with 50,000 U.S. servicemen dead and millions of civilian casualties?

    None of those things actually happened. None of them came within the ballpark of happening. None of them got to within the same city of the same ballpark of happening.

    Granted, it goes without saying there are potentially unforeseen consequences of any prospective war. The opposite also is true, Chief, a fact that’s lost on the likes of the New York Times and their patent and hackneyed agendas.

    War never is an easy proposition. Not engaging in war when war is necessary, however, often can be a far worse proposition. Merely by way of example, ask Neville Chamberlain and the 50 million souls who were slaughtered in WWII. Taking on Hitler in 1938 almost certainly would have saved nearly 50 million of those souls.

    Exactly how much in the way of appeasement risks are you willing to take? Actually, the more germane question is this: Exactly how much in the way of appeasement risks for people other than yourself are you willing to take?

  4. @Tsar Nicholas:

    We lost some 4700 service members in Iraq and spent eight years fighting a war that never should have been fought, I’d hardly call that without consequences. In the meantime, our war against iraq had the ultimate effect of strengthening the strategic position of Iran in the region.

    As for “appeasement,” and your references to World War II, I didn’t realize it would only take three comments before Godwin’s law was violated.

  5. anjin-san says:

    when war is necessary

    Have you been to your local recruiting station yet? I am sure you will want to be suited up and ready to rock when the action stats…

  6. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Exactly how much in the way of appeasement risks are you willing to take? Actually, the more germane question is this: Exactly how much in the way of appeasement risks for people other than yourself are you willing to take? ”

    The question is how much in risk for yourself are you willing to take, Tsar Chickenhawk. You’re real good at agitating for other people to die in a war you fantasize about. You willing to sign up and fight yourself?

    Of course not. Just another armchair soldier.

  7. Eric Florack says:

    I suppose the larger issue here that your post attempts to dance around, is the consequences of NOT attacking Iran.

    History, after all is full of examples of waiting for the aggressor to make their move and thinking that meaningless gestures of peace are going to forestall such consequences. Ask Nevile Chamberlain.

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Second, regardless of who the President is we will, in the end, fall in line behind them regardless of who the President happens to be.

    I think this is absolutely off the table if Obama is president (would Al Gore have invaded Iraq?) and possible but not very likely if Romney were president.

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Ask Nevile Chamberlain.

    Oh boy…Eric runs true to form…the Iranians are Nazi Germany with the most powerful army and airforce in the world and the fourth most powerful navy. It’s springtime for Hitler all over again.

  10. Eric Florack says:

    Your point about force size is correct but irrelevant given the nukes Iran is trying to build.
    The concerns about what attacking Iran will bring, vis a vie an entire region at war, is most certainly true not if but when Iran chucks a nuke at Israel.

  11. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Taking on Hitler in 1938 almost certainly would have saved nearly 50 million of those souls.

    The British Empire and France taking on Germany in 1938 would have averted a world war? I know you’re fairly brainless Nick but this is a stretch even for you. Germany would have defeated the Czechs at least as quickly as they defeated the poles. And Britain would have possessed only a handful of Spitfires an undeveloped radar system. And the French were in even worse shape.

  12. anjin-san says:

    not if but when Iran chucks a nuke at Israel

    Because they simply can’t wait to have their culture, which has existed for thousands of years, pretty much as a rational actor, end in a radioactive hell on earth…

  13. @anjin-san:

    That’s the part of the equation that the warmongers can’t rationalize. They also conveniently forget that Ahmedinejad is not the ultimate power in Iran and, based on recent events, may not have any power at all (or a job) in the near future.

  14. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Eric Florack:

    not if but when Iran chucks a nuke at Israel

    .

    Eric…..er…..you do know Israel has an estimated 200 nuclear warheads to chuck back which makes the chances of nuclear exchange just about zero.

  15. Eric Florack says:

    That’s the part of the equation that the warmongers can’t rationalize. They also conveniently forget that Ahmedinejad is not the ultimate power in Iran and, based on recent events, may not have any power at all (or a job) in the near future.

    Actually, Doug, I am hollering that at the top of my lungs, here.
    And when the Imams get control of the nukes, what do you suppose will happen?
    They don’t give a damn what happens, past bringing about a world dominated by Sharia. Such people are more likely not less, to use those weapons.

  16. @Brummagem Joe:

    People like Eric believe that Iran would be willing to commit national suicide just for the chance to send one nuke toward Israel

  17. Eric Florack says:

    Eric…..er…..you do know Israel has an estimated 200 nuclear warheads to chuck back which makes the chances of nuclear exchange just about zero.

    First, Anjin, one will be sufficient to put the whole region into more chaos than they have now.
    Secondly, you’re attributing logic to the Iranians…. something the case history on both Islam in general and the Iranians Imams in particular does not support.

  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    A potential conflagration that would devour the entire Middle East? A potential spike in oil prices that would destroy the entire global economy? A potential refugee problem unseen in scale since the end of WWII? A potential 2nd Vietnam with 50,000 U.S. servicemen dead and millions of civilian casualties?

    To start with these are all strawmen. No responsible authority ever said any of this and certainly not the NYT. So you’re a liar but that’s the least of it. You also obviously don’t give a shit that about 30,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed or maimed for life. After all why should you be concerned because you’re sitting comfortably behind your computer uttering mindless inanities and all these folks are dispensable in your grand theory of life. What a prat.

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    I doubt that Iran would lob nukes at Israel. It would indeed be suicidal. Secondly it would not be really healthy for the rest of the region including their soon to be client state of Iraq. Fission bombs are really dirty. And there is also the fact that Israel could be destroyed by conventional weapons.

  20. Eric Florack says:

    People like Eric believe that Iran would be willing to commit national suicide just for the chance to send one nuke toward Israel

    Don’t take MY word for it….

    FACT

    Arab leaders have repeatedly made clear their animosity toward Jews and Judaism. For example, on November 23, 1937, Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud told British Colonel H.R.P. Dickson: “Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus) and their subsequent rejection of His chosen Prophet.” He added “that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.”4

    …..

    According to a study of Syrian textbooks, “the Syrian educational system expands hatred of Israel and Zionism to anti-Semitism directed at all Jews. That anti-Semitism evokes ancient Islamic motifs to describe the unchangeable and treacherous nature of the Jews. Its inevitable conclusion is that all Jews must be annihilated.”8

    ….
    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder Jews.

    Sahih Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 52, Number 176: Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, ‘O ‘Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.'” Sahih Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177: Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder non-Muslims.

    Qur’an 2:191: And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder people who left Islam.

    Qur’an 4:089: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder people they did not trust.

    Qur’an 4:091: You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority.

    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder people they thought to be idolaters.

    Qur’an 9:005: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    Note: Mo-ham-mad taught Muslims to murder people if they thought it was a just cause.

    Qur’an 17:033: And do not kill any one whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.

    You keep saying it wouldn’t be logical for them to attack Israel, Doug and you’re right. But logic doesn’t apply, to the Islamic mindless.

  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    People like Eric believe that Iran would be willing to commit national suicide just for the chance to send one nuke toward Israel

    But then Eric and Nicholas are completely mindless idiots

  22. Eric Florack says:

    I doubt that Iran would lob nukes at Israel. It would indeed be suicidal.

    So, despite what we’ve seen over the past several decades, you consider a collective suicide bombing to be unlikely?

    Such belief is itself illogical.

  23. @Eric Florack:

    There is a massive difference between an individual suicide bomber and an entire nation consigning itself to oblivion, which is what would happen.

  24. @Eric Florack:

    People said the same things about the Soviets, the Chinese, the Pakistanis, the North Koreans. And yet, it has been 67 years since a nuclear weapon was used in anger.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    The real irrationality can be found in the minds of TN and Erik. Thank God they are not in charge of any counties. Of course their heros, the neo-cons were in charge for several years and look what that got us.

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, despite what we’ve seen over the past several decades, you consider a collective suicide bombing to be unlikely?

    So because about once every two weeks some loon runs amok and guns down a bunch of people the entire population of the US is about to commit mass murder?

  27. @Brummagem Joe:

    I think Nicholas is confusing the Iraq War with some of the more hyperbolic statements that were made by people in the run up to the Persian Gulf War. Indeed, there were people back then who said that it would lead to a wider regional conflict. They were wrong, mostly because Iraq having the “4th Largest Army in the world,” which it did at the time, means nothing if the Army isn’t willing to fight.

    I recall no reasonable analyst making similar claims in the runup to 2003. There were, however, people like General Eric Shinseki who were warning that the US was vastly underestimating the number of troops that would be needed to pacify a post-Saddam Iraq. As it turned out, they were absolutely right.

  28. anjin-san says:

    And yet, it has been 67 years since a nuclear weapon was used in anger.

    And not one was used by nations we often characterize as evil, irrational, crazy, etc…

  29. @anjin-san:

    Fair point, although I will defend against all arguments Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Japan.

  30. anjin-san says:

    They don’t give a damn what happens, past bringing about a world dominated by Sharia.

    I’m curious. In your estimation, how do Iran’s leaders plan on moving Sharia forward when their country is a radioactive sheet of glass?

    Do you really not see that you are every bit the fanatic you claim them to be?

  31. anjin-san says:

    I will defend against all arguments Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Japan.

    No argument there. It was the right call.

  32. Dave Schuler says:

    I’ve mentioned the Rubicon theory of war here. In summary, when people switch from a deliberative to an implemental mindset it triggers a number of biases. Those include overconfidence.

    Iran is as subject to that process as we are. As is Israel. Don’t discount the possibility that one or all of the countries involved will do something stupid. Israel may attack Iran. Iran may attack Israel.

    Possible examples of the overconfidence-borne stupidity I’m talking about include Israel deciding it can eliminate (or materially postpone) Iran’s nuclear development program or Iran deciding it could use nuclear weapons against Israel or against American forces without it resulting in its destruction. People do stupid things all of the time. Even smart people. Even rational people.

    I’ve been arguing against war with Iran for some years now not because Iran’s regime is benign or because I’m absolutely convinced that Iran isn’t developing nuclear weapons. Along with the IAEA, France, and Germany I think they probably are.

    But I don’t believe that a war of limited objectives is possible with Iran. Iran is not Iraq. It’s bigger, richer, tougher, and more motivated. I don’t believe the American people are ready for war with Iran, particularly in the absence of a direct threat from Iran.

  33. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think Nicholas is confusing the Iraq War with some of the more hyperbolic statements that were made by people in the run up to the Persian Gulf War. Indeed, there were people back then who said that it would lead to a wider regional conflict. They were wrong, mostly because Iraq having the “4th Largest Army in the world,” which it did at the time, means nothing if the Army isn’t willing to fight.

    You mean he was lying? And I don’t remember any serious person or institution making such claims in the run up to the Gulf War. Bush senior put together a global coalition to kick a 4th rate power out of Kuwait. It was a minor colonial war in terms of the balance of forces as anyone with a dimes worth of military knowledge understood….. Although I realise this may not have included Andrea Mitchell.

  34. Delmar says:

    I would approve of President Obama meeting with the president of Iran. I certainly think that there is nothing wrong with that. What he needs to do is “make him a deal that he can’t refuse”. That would do wonders for his attitude. Then some of the other countries over there would straighten up: Egypt, Syria, Libya. Peace, stability, and the price of oil drops. Now who can argue with that?

  35. @Brummagem Joe:

    You don’t remember the panicked (and false) reports about the Pentagon shipping 50,000 body bags to the Middle East? I do

  36. Herb says:

    @Eric Florack:

    “And when the Imams get control of the nukes, what do you suppose will happen?”

    Maybe use them to deter attacks from perennial aggressors? (That’s kind of the only use for nukes these days….)

  37. grumpy realist says:

    Looking at how Iran has conducted itself since the mullahs got in power, Iran has been incredibly sane, by comparison to how it could have conducted itself–say, like Cambodia under its fanatics. Ol’ Dinner Jacket may be blowing off steam and thumping the podium, but I get the sneaky suspicion that the rest of the Iranian powers are keeping a pretty firm grip on his coattails at present.

    What we really don’t want to do is push Iran into a corner so they decide what the heck, they’re going to get bombed into smithereens anyway, might as well take everyone else out first as much as possible.

    I also predict that if Israel does anything involving nukes, you’re going to see a real nuclear arms race start in the Mideast. And the Saudis have more $$$….

  38. An Interested Party says:

    Second, regardless of who the President is we will, in the end, fall in line behind them regardless of who the President happens to be.

    Oh really? So if Israel decides to attack Iran, there is now way we can tell the Israeli leadership that they are on their own?

    Third, the possibility of being dragged into a conflict by circumstances beyond the control of either us or Israel remains high.

    How’s that?

    The really scary thing is that the views of Tsar Nicholas and Eric Florack seem to be shared by the neocons, some of whom are already involved in the Romney campaign and are the obvious people he would use to fill positions within his potential administration…

  39. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You don’t remember the panicked (and false) reports about the Pentagon shipping 50,000 body bags to the Middle East? I do

    No I don’t. And who made this report? Drudge? And anyway it’s not remotely comparable with the catalogue of issues mentioned earlier. Do you make any distinction between hysterical reports by god knows who and serious comment by qualified people? Stormin Norman and the Iraqis were literally in terms preponderance of force like Kitchener and the Dervishes.

    Whatever happens,
    we have got,
    the Maxim guns,
    and they have not.

  40. Robert C. says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Give one example of Iran behaving irrationally.
    I can give several for the US and Israel
    -invading Irag despite no 9/11 hijackers being from Iraq, and no good e/o WMDs, and believing we would be greater with flowers.
    -invading S. Lebanon in 2006 after a single IDF soldier was kidnapped, and grassy underestimating Hezbollah.

    RC.

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    Attacking Iran would be thoroughly counterproductive when the state of its domestic politics is in flux. There is a power struggle between the Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmedinejad, with Khamenei acting as the brake on Doing Something Stupid. Bombing the country would only force Khamenei to cease doing so and become a belligerent.

  42. dennis says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I normally agree with nothing you say, Ben. But this here . . .

    I wish someone would listen.

  43. @Brummagem Joe:

    Umm Drudge didn’t exist in 1990. Then again, neither did the World Wide Web. This is stuff that I remember being discussed on broadcast television (which is all this poor-law-student-at-the-time could afford) and in newspapers.

  44. anjin-san says:

    Give one example of Iran behaving irrationally.

    Or name the last time Iran started a war…

  45. KariQ says:

    War with Iran. Because Iraq and Afghanistan have worked out so well.

  46. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think you can make a point for the first one but the second one was only necessary as a message to Stalin and the world. A message that cost several thousand their lives.

  47. anjin-san says:

    War with Iran. Because Iraq and Afghanistan have worked out so well.

    Well, that and it won’t be bithead getting his ass shot off…

  48. @Doug Mataconis:

    They also conveniently forget that Ahmedinejad is not the ultimate power in Iran and, based on recent events, may not have any power at all (or a job) in the near future.

    Ahmendinejad may be lucky if he still has a HEAD in the near future.

  49. @Ron Beasley:

    I think you can make a point for the first one but the second one was only necessary as a message to Stalin and the world. A message that cost several thousand their lives.

    Even the first wasn’t justifiable. Japan had agreed to surrender with the single condition that they be allowed to keep the emperor–which we ended up letting them keep anyways. Was a completely unconditional surrender vs. a nearly completely unconditional surrender over a point we didn’t actually care about REALLY worth thousands of lives? Not to mention there were trapped on an island with minimal resources. Why not just wait them out?

  50. Procopius says:

    @Eric Florack: I was thinking a more apt example would be Crassus deciding to attack Persia in 54BC. An unnecessary war, incompetently managed. With horrendous results for The Republic.

  51. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    So you think Iran holding our embassy citizens hostage for many months was not foolish and irrational? Rationalize it if you can. A weak president?

  52. Procopius says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Stormin Norman and the Iraqis were literally in terms preponderance of force like Kitchener and the Dervishes.

    Whatever happens,
    we have got,
    the Maxim guns,
    and they have not.

    Errrmmm, yes. Do you recall what happened to Chinese Gordon and his boys in the meantime? Also, recall from Iraq and Afghanistan that they DO have the equivalent of the Maxim gun now, although luckily for us they seem to have run out of Stinger missiles. And I have been hearing since I was a child how air power is going to solve all the problems and win the war without having to put any boots on the ground.

    However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program

    Yeah, sure, dropping tons of bombs on jungle trails (in Laos and Vietnam) is going to prevent any amount of supplies reaching the enemy forces. They never let a little thing like evidence turn their heads.

  53. anjin-san says:

    With horrendous results for The Republic.

    Horrendous results for Crassus as well.

  54. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    I think you have your comments confused. I asked when was the last time Iran started a war.

  55. Carson says:

    “Release the Kraken”

  56. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Procopius:

    Errrmmm, yes. Do you recall what happened to Chinese Gordon and his boys in the meantime?

    In the meantime? Gordon (who was essentially alone and commanded a rag tag Soudanese force) was besieged and killed in Khartoum in 1885 while the battle of Omdurman took place 13 years later in 1898 and resulted in some 20,000 Dervish casualties against a handful of British (most of which were sustained in a cavalry charge in which Churchill participated).

  57. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Umm Drudge didn’t exist in 1990

    Lighten up Doug it’s a joke ..of course Drudge and the net didn’t exist in 1991….he’s just an example of a source of fantastical rumors. I can see in future I’m going to have to append JOKE to every minor witticism.

  58. Carson says:

    “Go ahead. Make my day” (“Dirty Harry”

  59. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning:

    So you think Iran holding our embassy citizens hostage for many months was not foolish and irrational? Rationalize it if you can. A weak president?

    Of course it was rational. President Spineless gave the Iranians weapons in exchange, didn’t he?

  60. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    You are right, it was Robert C. that asked the question whether Iran had even behaved irrationally, to which you added …”or started a war?” Although they didn’t actually start the Iraq-Iran war, they did perform provocations to Iraq of various sorts, including occupying disputed territories and formenting sectarian conflicts, that led up to the war.

    More recently, Iran supplied many of the IEDs that were used in Iraq and Afghanistan that caused a hell of a percentage of our casualties over there. So I cannot say that they are lilly white in their actions in the region. They are more like agents provocateurs, and have been for centuries. That action of supplying IEDs could have led, in other eras, to war with the US, just as their imprisonment of our citizens could have also.

  61. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    As I said above, it could have led to war in other eras, but it was a calculated risk the Iranian government took with Carter-the-witless, that I believe was not the most rational of acts in the larger scheme of things. They backed down soon enough when a forceful president was elected.

  62. Robert C. says:

    @mannning:
    Holding hostages was quite rational. None were killed. It was payback for backing a coup against a democratically elected government, and then we (the US) propped up a despot for 30 years.
    An irrational act would have been to behead the hostages, or immediately trust the US.

    RC

  63. Robert C. says:

    @mannning:
    It is not clear that the Iranian gov’5 was involved in providing the IEDs. In fact the US Army was going to a press conference two years ago in Iraq, but the brass cancelled because the evidence that the Iranian gov’t was behind these acts was flimsy.
    RC

  64. JohnMcC says:

    The Atlantic magazine in the issue of 12/04 reports on a war game exercise they conducted with participants who were all former Pentagon planners and war-game-participants. Anyone seriously thinking about this problem should read it.

  65. mannning says:

    If Obama is another Carter, we may be heading for yet another significant loss of men and equipment due to surrogate attacks on our ME facilities, or anywhere, for that matter, spurred on by an Israeli attack on Iran. We, the Great Satin, will be targetted if Israel does attack, and it matters not at all that the top minds in Iran are, or could be, “rational actors.” Iran cannot control fully their own weirdos nor the weirdos in Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, or even in Syria and some in Jordan, if not also in Egypt.

    A Carter would probably take the hits and order that our people merely defend themselves agains immediate attacks, and not go to the source to retaliate. One wonders just how many of our lives Obama would stand to be lost through “terrorist attacks” before acting forcefully to stop the attacks with a full military response against Iran?

    If Israel employs their EMP weapons against Iran when they attack, it would be most likely multiple substratospheric bursts sufficiently high to avoid excess civilian casualties over key military installations and weapon sites, and low enough to confine the effects largely to Iranian space.–yes, plural weapons in phases to ensure the necessary immobilization of Iran’s military. The IAF would then proceed with the destruction of anything military in Iran.

    One hopes there is sufficient coordination with us that we can avoid the EMP effects in the Gulf. Some bank on the use of effectively Faraday cages in vehicles and electronics equipment. Hence the probable use of multiple bursts to seek out the defective holes in the cages with multiple high power pulses and thus disable the equipment despite the protection.

    This idea of Israel sacrificing a large percentage of their air force to effect a year or two delay in the Iranian nuclear effort is ludicrous. Repeat every two years or so? Their survival logic would dictate that they use their weapons at hand to largely knock out Iran’s military retaliation capability. And, yes, we used the bombs 67 years ago and none since: the Israeli calculus would seem to be similar–to save their citizens and their nation from extinction, while, in this instance, not exacting a horrific toll on the Iranian population.

    Further to this line of attack, the Israelis must fear exactly the same scenario followed by Iran, once Iran achieves a sufficient number of EMP bombs, if not a full nuclear bombing as a followup. That Iran hasn’t started a war in recent history means nothing at all; it most certainly it isn’t a thought to hang the existence of the nation of Israel and its 6 million people upon.

  66. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: The Iranians didn’t hand the hostages over because of their non-existent fear of Ronald Reagan. They handed them over at that time because the Mullahs hated Jimmy Carter and wanted to embarrass him. As for the failure of the rescue operation, it never had any chance of succeeding no matter what resources were devoted to it. Iran isn’t some sub-saharan backwater.

  67. anjin-san says:

    If Obama is another Carter

    Why don’t you have a chat with Bin Laden and Gadhafi and see what they think?

  68. anjin-san says:

    That Iran hasn’t started a war in recent history means nothing at all

    History means nothing. More words of wisdom from the right wing nut fringe.

  69. Rob in CT says:

    The “Iran is irrational” claim just doesn’t hold water. Indeed, you can build a case for irrationality of any country if you really want to build that case, excluding anything that doesn’t help. The US and Israel have done stupid, self-destructive things. Politicians – sometimes high-ranking ones – have used hyperbolic, aggressive language. Millions of Americans watch “Jersey Shore.” Or Faux News, for that matter 😉

    Ergo, we’re irrational!

    Or perhaps it’s not so simple as that. Iran poses no credible threat to the national security of the United States. Further, the threat it poses Israel is something that can be dealt with without fighting a war. Israel is a nuclear power. The USA, Israel’s friend and protector (though not formally an ally?), is not only a nuclear power but the #1 conventional military power in the world, by a longshot. An Iranian nuke strike on Israel wouldn’t just be irrational. It would be utter lunacy: it would be suicide on a national scale.

    But hey, nevermind that, let’s listen to the same f*cking people who pushed the Iraq War! That’s the ticket!

    THIS IS MADNESS.

  70. Rob in CT says:

    It’s amazing:

    As I said above, it could have led to war in other eras, but it was a calculated risk the Iranian government took with Carter-the-witless, that I believe was not the most rational of acts in the larger scheme of things. They backed down soon enough when a forceful president was elected.

    Even if we grant this narrative (which, as far as I can tell, is myth), it shows that the leadership of Iran acted… *drumroll*… rationally. Weak, witless POTUS? Hold the hostages, demand concessions. Forceful POTUS? Bring the situation to a close w/o hostilities.

    Is there some Right-Wing definition of “rational” that I’m not aware of? Does it simply mean “whatever I think is good policy?”

  71. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mannning:

    That Iran hasn’t started a war in recent history means nothing at all; it most certainly it isn’t a thought to hang the existence of the nation of Israel and its 6 million people upon.

    How many wars has Israel started and how many has Iran started?

  72. mannning says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The question is totally irrational, and coming from someone that poses to be bright, makes it more difficult to swallow. Iran with nuclear bombs is not the same as Iran without nuclear bombs, and the equation shifts then instantly to the possible complete elimination of Israel because it IS possible, and history need not get in the way, or, perhaps, the history of hatred of Jews may well top the history of non-aggression, for the same reason.

    The one thing in the way is the Israeli nuclear deterrent missiles, both on land and at sea. If the guidance systems of the land versions can be neutralized using EMP and true bombs long enough for the IRAF to root them out more fully, that leaves the several submarine versions to worry about, plus surface ship launches of the Israeli rough equivalent to the Tomahawk. This is where the “rational actors” of Iran come into play, or not. In this future engagement scenario, can they stop the majority of Israel’s missiles, or are they willing to take major destruction in Iran to eliminate Israel? Perhaps they will be instructed by the Mahdi, or their religious leaders.

    http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/March/Iranian-Regime-Video-Says-Mahdi-is-Near-/

    Just how rational are they?

  73. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: As rational as american christians who think the rapture is near and Jesus rose from the dead, or Jews who think Moses parted the Red Sea, I should think.

  74. Rob in CT says:

    If only all those folks could go fight it out somewhere and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

    But it doesn’t work that way, and never has. So the rational among us must keep the lunatics out of power. We only intermittantly succeed.

    No one is perfectly rational, of course. Which is another point that perhaps needs to be made. The question isn’t really rational/irrational. It’s “are they really crazy enough to trigger MAD?”

    That’s a very high bar to clear.

  75. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mannning:

    The question is totally irrational, and coming from someone that poses to be bright, makes it more difficult to swallow.

    In fact it’s entirely rational as a guide to conduct. What’s being talked about here is Israel starting a war of aggression against Iran….not an Iranian attack on Israel. And Israel has 200 nuclear warheads, how many has Iran got?

  76. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Then we are in for it, because there are enough crazies, irrationals, or what have you, that believe in Mahdis, manifest destiny of Islam, and vestal virgins, to swamp Israel and really hurt the US. And, certainly enough of the other side, ours, to retaliate in kind.

    There may be something to the MAD End of Days idea…

    The rest of the world seems to have lost control over their fate, and have placed it in the hands of Mad Mullahs and fearful Israelites.

    There seem to be enough idiots around still that think sanctions will work on a totalitarian or Islamic nation. Didn’t we sanction the hell out of Cuba some 50 or so years ago? Didn’t we sanction Iraq rather well, only to find that the government did nicely and the people suffered?

  77. the Q says:

    A couple of things…first, “I will defend against all arguments Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Japan.”

    I would support the first one on Hiroshima, the second was gratuitous porn violence to warn the russians…a complete atrocity and war crime, but since we won, its ok.

    Second, how many here have actually been to Israel? Do you ponces (manning etc) realize that the west bank is 17 miles from Tel Aviv? That Palestinians aren’t immune to radioactive isotopes, that thousand will be poisoned and die.

    If the Iranians love Hamas and a Palestinian state as so many here believe, do you think they would incinerate many of their supporters along with the hated jew?

  78. mannning says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Pay attention. I most clearly said that what Israel feared in a future scenario was an Iranian nuclear attack, with no time mentioned. Isn’t it obvious that Iran needs to put it all together before executing their scenario? How long? A few years, perhaps.

    Once they have the bomb, and have it all securely under their mountains, and have the delivery systems in profusion, however, an attack to stop them would probably not succeed. Then Iran goes for the next phase and is able to pose a truly serious existence threat to Israel. This is why the subject came up in the first place. To the Israelis, it is now, 2012-2013, or never to attack and thoroughly stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

  79. mannning says:

    @the Q:

    Yes

  80. mannning says:

    I was three times a consultant to the Israeli military over missile defense and other things, but since I was also consulting with Kuwait and possibly Egypt in the offing at the same time, I could not travel to Israel, so they came to me. Their geography and their determination to defend their nation was made quite clear to me.

  81. mannning says:

    I was twice a consultant to the Israeli military over missile defense and other things, but since I was also consulting with Kuwait (and possibly Egypt in the offing at the same time), I could not travel to Israel, so they came to me. Their crazy geography and their iron determination to defend their nation was made quite clear to me.

    The Israelis were rather interested in how my team in my then company had managed to hit 76mm shells in flight two shells in succession from a GAU-8 Gattling Gun with our multichannel fire control system. We demonstrated this hit capability successfully better than 86% of the time, as a frigate fired its 76mm cannon from various crossing angles. We did hit one shell nose-on one time in the tests. (Yes, we recovered the shells to prove we hit them.)

  82. mannning says:

    The third time was back in the states, when an Israeli colonel visited us to ask our support for a patrol boat comprehensive system for comm, fire control, ships data, and ESM/ECM. We wrote him a proposal which in the end would have cost more than they wanted to spend outside of Israel, so the contract went to ISI.

  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mannning:

    Pay attention.

    Okay you ill mannered little twerp, so Israel has 200 nuclear warheads and Iran has none but might get five or six in a few years time; and Israel is planning to launch a war of aggression against Iran; but Israel is the victim in all this????? Yep for anyone paying attention that makes entire sense.

  84. the Q says:

    So according to Manning, the Iranians will have to incinerate Palestinians in order to help them
    get their own nation state. So helping Hamas and Hezbollah is a clever ruse by the Iranians to make the Israeli’s think that they support the Palestinian cause, just before they burn them to death while killing Jews.

    Manning,you are friggin’ Brilliant….or did you already tell yourself that this morning.

  85. An Interested Party says:

    Oh great, so now we have mannning, another alleged expert, to go along with the supposed financial genius known as Drew…why we don’t just shut up and listen to these brilliant minds I’ll never know…

  86. mannning says:

    @the Q:

    Every hour when I read your stuff. I really don’t like people that can dish it out but can’t take it, and there are lots of them on here.

    You got a short answer because you were trying to do a setup job. Isn’t it plain, simple and obvious that the iranians would figure out how to save as many as they can by setting their weapons off perhaps to the north and west a bit? But in that calculus, the entire population of Israel would still be in grave jeopardy, including the Muslims that live there. That is, unless they told them to hightail it out, which would be a grand tipoff to Israel. In the end, however, I do not think they would make any large scale special provisions for Gaza, Palestine, the West Bank, or Syria, beyond trying to confine their blasts as best possible.

  87. mannning says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Yes, you do need to pay attention, because you are too busy trying to find something to criticize to read carefully. You want me to show you some of your ill mannered comments here? It seems to be a habit of many here such as you to use derogatory terms to vent their rath, so you got some of yours back. Live with it, wannabe- wannabe!

  88. mannning says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Pay closer attention.

    1. If left alone, Iran is expected to have enough weapons to execute an attack on Israel that would negate much of Israel’s defensive, 200 warhead and nuclear counterstrike capability, and using EMP weapons, perhaps in several years. This is Israel’s great fear, and it is only stoked by the flood of Mahdi predictions coming from the Irianian government. Read the link I gave above for the gist of the Mahdi stuff. They believe that Iran is quite capable of attacking Israel and accepting that there will be deadly counterstrikes.

    2. The only way to stop Iran is to get them to give up their nuclear weaponeering, either by negotiation or by force. Negotiations will not work, and haven’t for 10 years now. Sanctions will not work. Israel seems to have voted a reported 8 to 7 to strike soon. (according to Haaretz)

    3. Iran is building deep underground facilities that would be virtually impossible to strike, and they are moving their weaponeering and poroduction efforts into these facilities beginning now or very soon. Israel sees that the chance to do great damage to Iran’s weaponeering effort is slipping by rapidly.

    4. It appears, then, that Israel will strike Iran as hard as possible and soon and wants to avoid attrition of their forces and heavy counterstrikes from Iran.

    5. Use of their nuclear EMP capabilities would give Israel a far better chance to throttle Iran and destroy every military item the IAF could find, and with far less losses and far less civilian casualties also. The attack would take at least a solid week if not more, and more than one phase of multiple EMP bombings.

    6. Iran’s responses are expected to be through their surrogates—Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and perhaps others, and these bomb attacks are not as controllable. If any attacks hit US personnel or facilities we would more than likely to be dragged into the conflict. If any attacks were deliberate in our opinion and costly to us, we would join the fight

    This is the scenario I have heard spoken about in rather oblique terms. It appears to be credible and and fits the Israelis well.

  89. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    And miss all the fun?

    So now you tag me as an expert! I am so very flattered that some total unknown wants to give me such an exhalted tag on the basis of a few words! But, you didn’t say exactly what I am supposed to be expert in, besides what I merely implied about my fire control systems, and Israeli weapon efforts.

    Well, FYI, I did spend 43 years in the profession of military electronics and weapons systems engineering, 33 in the US and 10 in many NATO countries (mainly the UK, Holland, Belgium,
    Germany, Italy, and Denmark), plus many months-long forays into Switzerland, Kuwait, Nigeria,Turkey, and Sweden over the years. I was either program manager or chief engineer on several aircraft electronics programs, two ships electronics programs, an air defense program for NATO (an element of NADGE), and several standalone weapons systems developments for missile defense, one of which I discussed briefly here earlier, which was bought by 30 nations and had 83 system installations.

    So, I suppose I do “alledge some direct expertise” in defense requirements and systems for a number of nation’s efforts.

  90. An Interested Party says:

    So now you tag me as an expert!

    Alleged, sweetie, alleged…

  91. Rob in CT says:

    There seem to be enough idiots around still that think sanctions will work on a totalitarian or Islamic nation. Didn’t we sanction the hell out of Cuba some 50 or so years ago? Didn’t we sanction Iraq rather well, only to find that the government did nicely and the people suffered?

    This is about the only sensible thing you’ve said. Yes, sanctions basically don’t work. The one example I can think of that worked was South Africa: and that was basically about a government being shunned by its peer group.

    If left alone, Iran is expected to have enough weapons to execute an attack on Israel that would negate much of Israel’s defensive, 200 warhead and nuclear counterstrike capability, and using EMP weapons

    Even if this rather fanciful scenario is plausible, there is still the small matter of the United States’ response to this.

    Iran – including an nuclear-armed Iran – can be contained. Sadly, our entire foreign policy establishment disagrees. Obama has repeatedly rejected containment as an option, and the GOP has staked out an even more aggressive stance. And so our nation trudges toward another unnecessary, counter-productive war.

    What lesson do you think the Iranians will take away if Israel and/or the United States attacks them? That they were wrong to pursue nuclear arms? Hah! They will double-down.

  92. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    As I said…alledged…by you. I alledge expertise in military systems, etc., based on experience. Of course, you couldn’t recognize such; it is far from your fields of endeavor, and way beyond your IQ.

  93. mannning says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Even if this rather fanciful scenario is plausible, there is still the small matter of the United States’ response to this.

    With Obama in the saddle? He recently talked a tough game, but I have grave doubts that he would follow up on it. But, we will see, perhaps fairly soon now.

    Iran – including an nuclear-armed Iran – can be contained.

    OK, how?

  94. Rob in CT says:

    Did you miss the Cold War?

    First and foremost, MAD. Second, working with allies and others to constrain hostile Iranian acts, including opposition to their proxy efforts. Of course, these things already exist. Containment would result in Iran not starting any wars and a reduction (or at least no increase) in activity by Hezbollah or other proxies/clients.

    Unless, of course, you’re once again using your own special definitions of words.

    This definition, from Wikipedia, seems reasonably good:

    Containment was a United States policy using numerous strategies to prevent the spread of communism abroad. A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet Union to enlarge communist influence in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, and Vietnam. It represented a middle-ground position between détente and rollback.

    What is the objective here, Mannning? Is the objective peace? Or is is Victory (and, if so, please define victory)?

  95. Rob in CT says:

    He recently talked a tough game

    I guess you didn’t see the interview from back in 2004 where Obama was anti-containment and, albeit reluctantly, in favor of using military force to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. He’s actually been consistent here. There is no basis whatsoever for viewing him as weak-kneed on this.

    Of course, I disagree with him, but that’s another matter.

  96. An Interested Party says:

    I alledge expertise in military systems, etc., based on experience. Of course, you couldn’t recognize such; it is far from your fields of endeavor, and way beyond your IQ.

    Oh please…it doesn’t require expertise or experience to anonymously post drivel and make unsubstantiated claims…any idiot can do that, including you, apparently…

  97. mannning says:

    I do believe that all of the thinking about what Iran will respond to is predicated on the assumption that they are “rational actors.” On this point I have serious doubts, so long as they appear to sign up to the Twelveth Imam/Mahdi belief, which we have been told by a former insider that they all do in the government, implicitly and fanatically. An Israeli would not be all that likely to bet their nation on the assumption that Iran will act rationally over time, given their acquisition of the nuclear bomb, regardless of any history supporting that assumption. I hope someone can show exactly how Iran can be “contained” with the looming Mahdi belief in the way.

  98. mannning says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Firstly, there is the Israeli position here, which is clearly survival in the face of their belief in a hostile Iran with nukes, and a serious Mahdi complex to heighten the stakes enormously. That is what I have been writing about; the most likely Israeli scenario against Iran.

    Secondly, there is my own position in the matter, which is to try to find a way to avoid a war in which no one will win. This goal is seemingly receeding very rapidly because of the strong Israeli attack position that has developed, and little belief in a strong US approach or effective support without major hostile action by Iran against the US.

    Sanctions won’t work, negotiations haven’t worked, Iran continues to develop their nuclear capability rather rapidly, and deciding to live with a nuclear Iran has been firmly rejected by Israel. In fact, it is reported that they voted 8 to 7 to attack when their “red line” is crossed (their red line, not ours!). There is no complete definition of the Israeli Red Line available to my knowledge.

    The vague definition of “containment” given mentions “multiple strategies” to hold the line, without delienating exactly what those strategies are, and why they would be effective against Iran at this time. Without a fuller definition of this containment approach, there is no way to make a rational assessment, and I seriously doubt that such an approach could be sold neither to the Israelis nor our government now anyway. Thus, I believe that the time for a containment approach has passed in the night as far as Israel and the US are concerned.

  99. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    On that I fully agree, particularly when reading your nonesense. You seem to have appointed yourself as the keeper of sanity here without qualifications for the job.

  100. An Interested Party says:

    You seem to have appointed yourself as the keeper of sanity here…

    Not at all….you are the one with all the alleged expertise arguing why Iran needs to be attacked now…I guess you are the keeper of insanity around here…

  101. mannning says:

    @Rob in CT:

    OK, granted that Obama has been consistently stating strong things in public about this Iranian situation. He has done that sort of posturing across lots of situations, only to flip behind the scenes as it suits. It would be somewhat irrational for him to do otherwise than look tough publically in the Iranian matter, never mind what he would actually do when the balloon goes up–caused by Israel. Two things he lacks on my side: my trust and faith, that I freely concede. Unfortunately, the real decision here will be made by Israel, not the US, and Obama will become the dog wagged by the Israeli tail.

  102. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Shows just how well you can read.

    As stated several times, the arguments are Israeli positions, not mine. I merely put them together. No, I have no proof of 200 Israeli nuclear weapons, and few do. My one conjecture is the use of EMP by Israel, which has quite a scientific and feasible basis around the weapons world, some of it well-classified and not possible to write about in any detail. The open literature is, understandably, behind the times on the subject, which is rather limiting. So be it!

    As I commented above, my own position on the matter is to make all attempts possible to avoid a war that would be devastating to the entire region and to millions of people. But, with the passage of time this has become a forlorn hope, in my opinion. So I look hard at a probable path of events and where it may lead us. So get nasty!

  103. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Ben Laden, is that you? Why are you calling yourself angin?

  104. mannning says:

    Regarding command post war simulations, the outcome is not considered to be very important. It is the proper actions of the men manning the command and staff positions that are the main thrust. They could have picked any number of starting points to kick off the action, and the one picked is perhaps reasonable, but not necessarliy the most important trigger. That they released just one alternative starting point out of a large set argues that it was sent out for a reason.

    It is hard to judge just how realistic the simulation was from the information published. What disposition of our forces was assumed: what disposition of Iranian and Israeli forces was assumed, and what weapons capabilities and hit probabilities did they grant the US, Iranian or Israeli forces? and on and on…all necessary assumptions simply to get the ball rolling. What was the ROE in effect, and how rapidly was it changed? It is all in the details that are not visible. Change the commanders and the staffs and you will most likely get a different conclusion.

    The real lesson to gain here is that we are at least honing our possible responses and training command and staff personnel to react and decide appropriately, and not much more.

  105. An Interested Party says:

    Shows just how well you can read.

    Indeed…

    The only way to stop Iran is to get them to give up their nuclear weaponeering, either by negotiation or by force. Negotiations will not work, and haven’t for 10 years now. Sanctions will not work. Israel seems to have voted a reported 8 to 7 to strike soon. (according to Haaretz)

    Thus, I believe that the time for a containment approach has passed in the night as far as Israel and the US are concerned.

    Very well, thank you…

  106. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Thanks for the quotes.

    In the first one, I was following the Israeli line that led up to their recent vote to attack.

    The second quote was with reference to Rob’s containment thought and definition, where he indicated that no one in government now believes in it, which I happen to agree with, because it is far too late, in that Israel is, in my opinion, going to attack when they think the timing is best.

    I am not an advocate for war. In this case I do not see the way out of it, because of Israel and timing. What do you have to offer?

  107. Rob in CT says:

    Yes, I am aware that my position is “outside the box,” which I find absolutely appalling. My position is basically this: we got through the Cold War. Iran <<< The USSR. From the perspective of Israel, though, Iran ~ USSR. If this were simply Israel v. Iran, the threat is huge and scary and all that – just like the Cold War was for us (though as mentioned, we got through it mostly via containment). I also obviously hold that the Iranian leadership is not so irrational as to start a nuclear war.

    But Israel *does not* stand alone, and the pretense that they how no choice but to execute a 1st strike because no one will defend poor whittle Israel is absurd.

    The United States (regardless of who the POTUS is) has Israel's back. The current Israeli leadership either doubts this (I doubt it), or knows it all too well (as in they know that if they go and start a war, we'll back them up as you suggest we must). Probably a mixture of both ("the Americans won't do what's needed unless we force the issue, but if we start it they'll come around"). Which is basically your diagnosis too.

    I'm getting the vibe that the Israeli leadership may be paranoid to such an extent that there is nothing we can do to prevent war (absent, of course, unexpected Iranian capitulation – I also agree this seems unlikely).

    Only time will tell how this all shakes out. But I see a push for a stupid war based on a bunch of shoddy assumptions and confirmation bias. It seems somehow familiar…

  108. mannning says:

    I also obviously hold that the Iranian leadership is not so irrational as to start a nuclear war.

    As I said earlier, this assumption is at the nub of the argument, and lies between the sanity of some and the religious ferver of others in Iran’s government. Were I to set odds on the religious fanatics to carry out an audacious attack, it might rise to about 1 in 3. Were the Israelis to set the odds, I conjecture that it would rise to at least 2 in 3, based on their continuing antagonistic posture towards Iran, and their 8 to 7 vote for attack. (This is highly dependent upon the supply of modern missile systems to Iran from Russia over the next few years.)

    There are a number of unknown unknowns here, among which is the possibility that Iran is not totally crazy in contemplating nuclear war against Israel, in that they have (or are developing) one or more weapons and one or more tactics that they feel confident can defeat the Israeli counter missile threat for the most part. So I will look at some of these possibilities as best I can, modeling my projections on current weapon developments in Russia in particular, since the Russians have supplied Iran with weapons.

    1) Nuclear EMP weapons as an extension of their basic nuke capability. If you have nukes, you have the principal weapon basis for EMP. A few warheads and missiles would be needed, which could take a year or two.

    2) A mobile missile system capable of a range of up to 175 km and 85,000 ft at Mach 3, with a homing infrared and laser guidance system. This is based on what the Russians have in service now in the S-300 ABM system and four S-300PMU missiles on a tracked vehicle. They are launched vertically, and guided until acquisition by their homing infrared systems.

    The idea of using this ABM weapon is to shoot down the Israeli nuclear missiles during the launch phase from positions just outside of Israel’s borders. We know that Iran has been requesting these advanced missiles for a while now from the Russians. If these tracked systems were to be deployed in Gaza, the Palestinian West Bank, Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps in both Jordan and Egypt, they could cover just about all of the expected Israeli launch sites. Iran could well force this positioning in some cases.

    Other S-300 missile systems could be deployed around key Iranian areas to defend against incoming missiles in their terminal phase, just as the Russians have done around Moscow. These missiles would catch the leakers from the ECM and launch phase shots.

    3) The naval version is the S-300FM, and it can be vertically launched from destroyers and perhaps frigates, which Iran would have to purchase, which would take a few years to complete. It is unclear whether the S-300 can be or has been adapted to the two existing Iranian frigates, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason that they cannot be. A flotilla of 6 to 8 frigates could possibly carry 8 missiles each for a total of possibly 64 missiles. It is also possible to mount two of the S-300 launchers on much smaller vessels, to swarm around in the Gulf. The idea here is to cover as much as possible of the launch areas of the two or three Israeli nuclear missile submarines, again to shoot the missiles down just after launch. (The tactic of shooting these types of missiles in pairs has long been the usual practice, and hit probabilities of .7 to .8 have been achieved against mach 3 missiles.)

    4) Continued development of Russian S-300 and S-400 series of missile systems may well show significant improvements in the next few years. Perhaps Iran would share in these developments.

    The Iranian scenario, which is easily 3 to 5 years away, would be to lay down an EMP field on Israel, and especially the probable nuclear missile sites, to disrupt the missile guidance systems, then to use the S-300s to hit any missiles that managed to launch anyway, followed by interception of incoming leakers. They would have to accept that some missiles would likely get through and cause massive damage. If the fanatics are in charge, this might well indeed be accepted. Meanwhile, at the proper timing, they launch both nukes and conventional weapons to destroy Israel.

    The main conclusion I draw here is that if the Russians actually do supply Iran with large quantities of the S-300 ABM systems and training, say about 500 to 1,000 in some variation, over the next few years, not only does an Israeli air or missile attack on Iran become highly difficult and very costly, the same systems can be used to largely blunt an Israeli missile strike/counterstrike. (This possible procurement unfortunately raises the stakes for Israel once again in the direction of: attack now.)

    Then, the way would be clear for the fanatics to proceed.

  109. mannning says:

    A correction: The S-300 attains Mach 6, not Mach 3 as was written above.