Jun 11, 2007

U.S. Playing Chicken with Iran: Do Deployments and Rhetoric Point to a Strike?

Deployment Near Iran

U.S. aircraft carriers are stationed in the Persian Gulf. "Minesweepers, too, and Patriot missiles. The U.S. Air Force is outlining 'forceful patrols' on Iran's border." (Tom Ashbrook on On Point, NPR)

Joe Hawk Lieberman of just-barely-made-it-to-the-Senate Connecticut is a talking head spouting the Bush hard-line, "I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."

Sounds like a military resolve, a buildup to . . . something. Is it a loud reminder to Iran to behave or a bluff? Is it preparation for an invasion or a threat-heavy distraction from the horrible daily news of Iraq? No information has been released about the purpose of this recent increased military might in the region of Iran. Robert Gates said “nobody is planning for a war with Iran,” but who believes the Secretary of State, anyway? Perhaps the U.S. is not planning an all-out invasion but a strike against Iran's nuclear facility.

What Is Iran Up To?

Meanwhile, Iran has been blatantly working on their pre-nuclear program lately. Two cascades of 164 centrifuges each are ready at their nuclear facility (in preparation for uranium enrichment, in preparation for nuclear capability). There has been speculation that the actual enrichment of their uranium might begin on the upcoming Anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, on Feb 11~12.

The War of Rhetoric

On the rhetoric war, U.S. think tanks and lobbying groups (the Hoover Institution, the Iran-Syria Operations group led by Liz Cheney, and the Iran Policy Committee, among others) are working round-the-clock to promote and build outrage against Iran.

What Happens If the U.S. Strikes Iran?

If the U.S does strike Iran, it's a completely different animal than Iraq. Iran is much mightier along all dimensions, with three military forces: the regular armed forces of about 425,000; the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp of about 125,000; and the Basij, the "Million Man" militia, with 90,000 active troops and up to 11 million people who could be ready to fight—clearly the numbers are staggering. And the U.S doesn't have the spare troops while forces are so overstretched in Iraq (much less, of course, the right to attack). If the U.S. is planning an attack—what are they thinking? Do they desire catastrophe? Let's hope this deployment and rhetoric escalation against Iran are part of a bluff, but somehow it feels like a pre-Iraq deja vu.

Comments on this Story

Dear Tumerica,

I certainly agree that we should not strike at Iran, but the US is not over stretched as far as armed forces go. Out of a combined force of ~1.4 million active service member, roughly 152,000 are in the Middle East (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_military)

The only way Iran could withstand a US assault is to hide all its military assets and blend its armies into the civilian populace, hoping for an occupation so that it could engage in guerilla warfare.
The Iranians are not capable of sustained 24/7 warfare, nor have they every faced something as hellish as what would be brought to bear on them.

There is too much killing going on already, lets not bring more onto the scene.
Dear Concerned,

Thank you for your comment. I agree about not attacking Iran. Whew! But my friend who is in the military ASSURES me that troop resources are stretched as thinly as can be imagined. Morality is horrible and the number of injured soldiers defies belief (and still, we don't get much media coverage of these sad truths). My friend also reports that the word on the streets--the military word--is that those deployments are a display of bravado and that by no means is there any thought of an attack on Iran. Thank God! Glad to get the inside info on this.

Dear Tumerica,

ahh, I am sorry. I misread the context of your post.
I agree that our troops in Iraq are stretched thin, but that is due to the US doctorine of our military being able to sustain a multi-front war.

We could easily put more than 500,000 soldiers on the ground in Iraq, but the cost would be staggering.

I sometimes wonder if our current administration is baiting Iran with the thought that the US military as a whole is over-stretched, so that perhaps it emboldens Iran into doing something to give the US an excuse to attack.

who knows...

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