Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Second Iran-Iraq war

In the early 80s, Saddam "planned" to dash to a mountain pass and take a large chunk of Iran for his own. He thought it was that simple. Pick a spot on the map. Saddam was never very good at planning. Now, if the amateur generals get their keyboard divisions rolling, we'll get to see a conflict of about the same length (1980 - 1988).

Andrew Sullivan blogs (Yes, this is the entire entry):
There's a definite uptick in reports suggesting that the Bush administration is planning for one.
It's great that there is a definite uptick. I'd be none-too-pleased with an indefinite uptick.

Take a wild guess which member of the Dual Executive is pushing for war. From that report:
Key players in the Bush administration think a military confrontation with Iran is an unavoidable, leading to stepped up military planning for such a prospect, according to several experts and recently departed senior government officials.

Some of these observers stressed that military strikes against Iran are not imminent and speculated that the escalated war chatter could be a deliberate ploy to ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Still, they made clear, the tone in Washington has changed drastically.

"In recent months I have grown increasingly concerned that the administration has been giving thought to a heavy dose of air strikes against Iran's nuclear sector without giving enough weight to the possible ramifications of such action," said Wayne White, a former deputy director at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. White, who worked in the bureau's Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia, left government in early 2005 and is now an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.

Several experts and former officials interviewed by the Forward pointed to Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the key figures who has concluded that the ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council and eventually slap the Islamic regime with sanctions will come to naught, forcing Washington to resort to force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
Fortunately, bloggers like The Cunning Realist are willing to write somewhat more thoughtful accounts from more balanced (mentally balanced, i.e. not Cheney) sources:
OSLO, Norway Apr 3, 2006 (AP)— Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday that Iran is a least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement.

Blix, attending an energy conference in western Norway, said he doubted the U.S. would resort to invading Iran.

"But there is a chance that the U.S. will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB as saying. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism."
We are also fortunate that James Fallows has reviewed the war game that the Atlantic conducted against Iran two years ago:
That was the situation nearly two years ago. Everything that has changed since then increases the pressure on the United States to choose the “military option” of a pre-emptive strike—and makes that option more ruinously self-defeating.

About Iran’s intention to build a bomb, there is no serious disagreement among Russia, China, France, and the United States. Iran has dropped its pretense of benign intent. It refused the compromise that Russia formally proposed late in 2005 (though a new round of negotiations was announced early in March). Last year’s elections, the most democratic in that nation’s history, transformed the leadership—by making it more anti-Western and harder-edged. The attainment of an Iranian bomb might provoke Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other neighboring countries to begin nuclear programs of their own, and might make the terrorist groups Iran supports throughout the region feel they can attack with greater impunity. Dealing with Iran is now considered an international crisis.As it has watched Iran’s evolution, the United States has delivered more and more studied warnings that “all options remain open”—code to the Iranians that they should worry about an attack. In different ways, George W. Bush and two aspiring successors, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, have expressed this view. Government officials in Israel have been more explicit still, with the defense minister saying that Israel “will not accept” Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Intellectuals, activists, and out-of-power politicians from Newt Gingrich to Benjamin Netanyahu have all urged their leaders to stand firm.

The biggest change has been in what Soviet strategists used to call the “correlation of forces.” Every tool at Iran’s disposal is now more powerful, and every complication for the United States worse, than when our war-gamers determined that a pre-emptive strike could not succeed. Iran has used the passing time to disperse, diversify, conceal, and protect its nuclear centers. Instead of a dozen or so potential sites that would have to be destroyed, it now has at least twice that many. The Shiite dominance of Iraq’s new government and military has consolidated, and the ties between the Shiites of Iran and those of Iraq have grown more intense. Early this year, the Iraqi Shiite warlord Muqtada al-Sadr suggested that he would turn his Mahdi Army against Americans if they attacked Iran.

Economically, Iran also has far greater leverage than before. Through 2004, the price of a barrel of oil averaged less than $40. In 2006, it has been above $60, an increase of more than 50 percent. Rising demand from China, India, and, yes, the United States has left virtually no slack in the world’s oil markets. OPEC’s “spare” production capacity—the amount it could quickly supply beyond current demand—is about 1 million barrels a day. Iran now supplies about 4 million barrels a day. If it chose to, or had to, remove much of its oil from the market, a bidding war could send the price of a barrel of oil above $100. Eventually, everyone would adjust. Eventually, the Great Depression ended.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The time for ground war is over. Iran wants nukes, I say give them some from 32,000 feet. Hand me my sunglasses this is gonna be bright!

12:14 AM  

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