Friday, December 30, 2005

Decisive action + no casualties= Sure thing.

Raw Story, who you should all check all the time, has been linking to the interesting developments in the German press regarding the U.S. striking at Iran. The latest in Der Speigel (english), is very specific. Airstrikes soon, because of recent anti-Isreali rhetoric.

This "reason why" has the ring of truth to it. From der Speigel:
The DDP report attributes the possible escalation to the recent anti-Semitic rants by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose belligerent verbal attacks on Israel (he described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map") have strengthened the view of the American government that, in the case of the nuclear dispute, there's little likelihood Tehran will back down and that the mullahs are just attempting to buy time by continuing talks with the Europeans.
George seems like the kind of guy who would think that talking tough is serious business. This kind of thing might be enough to get his dander up. If he feels like going on the offensive is a good way to reclaim the initiative in the domestic political debate, this would be one way to do it.

Another factor weighing in favor of W. taking this step is the looming State of the Union Address. The man has to talk about something, you know? What good news does he have?

So, lets just say it looks like 5:4 in favor, since it's still a very drastic step. If they take it, what would this mean?

Well, for starters it would hugely affect the domestic political equation in Isreal, where the last I read, Sharon is not really doing well after his stroke. Regardless of how coherent Sharon is, however, the military is certainly quite ready to go after Iran. The polis in Isreal has, of course, been finally easing a bit to the left. Bad news for W. and the neocons. If they can start something with Iran, it's a lot more likely that the yahoo Netanyahu will end up back in power.

The wider gulf states would probably stand to benefit in the short run, depending on how the strike goes. Shi'a populations in the Gulf have of course been very attentive to the goings on in southern Iraq. If the media in the Middle East can play it right, the Gulf State Shi'a will be both somewhat chastened and more loyal to their own governments. This would likely involve some combination of loudly declaiming the U.S. action (what I think of as 'diplomatic outrage') while also finding some way to criticize Iran for destabilizing the region. So far so good. The appearance of these opportunities might be enough to earn tacit approval (read: encouragement) from some of the Gulf States named in the der Speigel article.

The problem, of course, is that Iran would not be incapacitated and would probably strike back. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard are a higly independent, initiative oriented elite force. I would look for something really nasty to go down in Iraq, probably in the Green Zone. The U.S. troops have likely gotten used to being able to somewhat trust Shi'a Iraqis. Typical of any Bantustan, the locals are needed to staff basic amenities. My guess is that there are several Iranian intelligence assets working in the Green Zone. If our guys weren't constrained by ideological blinders, they would take this into account. Of course, if that were true, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Furthermore, I would not expect the general populace of Shi'a Iraq to be very happy with a U.S. airstrike in Iran. Many Iraqi Shi'a have family living in Iran, after all.

Also, there is a huge potential for bizarre nastiness with the Iran/Turkey/Kurdistan situation, should this strike take place.

At the very least, it would really complicate things. At worst we would be looking at the wider regional conflict that we have all been dreading (except the Christian "End Times" fanatics, of course, they would be thrilled). No matter what, it would make a smooth withdrawal of U.S. troops all but impossible.

Basically, this would be an idiotic move certain to lead to terrible developments; in other words, par for the course.


At 9:43 PM, December 31, 2005, Blogger mikevotes said...

I read what you said here, and I still think it's posturing. Mainly because the collapse of Iraq in the event this went down, would tarnish Bush's legacy, and that seems to be his going concern at this point. I don't see how bombing Iran works for him at this point.

Also, I don't think five intel services in the region all leak about these Goss meetings unless Goss wanted it that way.

It is possible that they could be working a coordinated operation to out the US's plans to try and get world opinion against it early, but that would needlessly piss off the US and there are better ways to do that.

Bottom line, I still think it's a negotiating ploy.

But that's as much a guess as anything else.

Thanks for the comments over at my site.


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