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New Game Show: How Stupid is Attacking Iran?

Today our contestant is Scott Ritter. Unlike the frightening Lord Stirling, who predicted all-out nuclear war and horrific bio-weapons attacks throughout the world, Scott is going to keep it to things we can all easily imagine. Let's just say this is the 'best-case scenario.' Nothing too scary for the kids watching at home.

Scott, what will happen if the US tries to secure the Strait of Hormuz?
The moment the United States makes a move to secure the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will unleash a massive bombardment of the military and industrial facilities of the United States and its allies, including the oil fields in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. American military bases in Iraq and Kuwait, large—fixed and well known— would be smothered by rockets and missiles carrying deadly cluster bombs. The damage done would run into the hundreds of millions, if not into billions, of dollars, and hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. military personnel would be killed and wounded.
Oooh, that sounds really bad. But don't we have an amazing Navy that can secure the Strait?
There is virtually no chance the U.S. Navy would be able to prevent Iran from interfering with shipping through the strait. There is every chance the Navy would take significant casualties, in both ships lost and personnel killed or wounded, as it struggled to secure the strait. There would be a need for a significant commitment of ground forces to guarantee safe passage for all shipping, civilian and military alike. The longer ground forces could operate on Iranian soil, the better the chances Iranian missiles would not be able to effectively interdict shipping. Conversely, the longer ground forces operated on Iranian soil, the greater likelihood there would be of decisive ground engagement. With U.S. air power expected to be fully committed to the missile interdiction mission, any large-scale ground engagement would create a situation in which air power would have to be redirected into tactical support, and away from missile interdiction, creating a window of vulnerability which the Iranians would very likely exploit.
Wow. This sound really dangerous. It seems like we could lose an awful lot of military people in this endeavor. I don't think the American people realize that. Well, what if our 'good friends' the Israelis attacked Iran? Wouldn't that restrict the conflict somewhat?
Iran has promised to strike targets in Israel as well, especially if Israel is a participant in any military action. Such Israeli involvement is highly unlikely, since to do so in any meaningful fashion Israel would need to fly in Iraqi air space, a violation of sovereignty the Iraqi government will never tolerate. The anti-American backlash that would be generated in Iraq would be immediate and severe. In short, virtually every operation involving the training of Iraqi forces would be terminated as the U.S. military trainers would need to be withdrawn to the safety of the fortified U.S. bases to protect them from attack. U.S. civilian contractors would likewise need to be either withdrawn completely from Iraq or restricted to the fortified bases. All gains alleged to have been made in the “surge” would be wiped away instantly. Worse, the Iraqi countryside would become a seething mass of anti-American activity, which would require a huge effort to reverse, if it ever could be. Iraq as we now know it would be lost, and what would emerge in its stead would not only be unsympathetic to the United States but actually a breeding ground for anti-American action that could very well expand beyond the boundaries of Iraq and the Middle East.
Well, that would make a mockery of all the sacrifices made in Iraq to date.

Hmm. We seem to be a little boxed in here.

Well what about the economy? Don't we need to protect our oil-supply from those dangerous Iranians?
Neither the Israeli nor the American (and for that reason, European and Asian) economy would emerge intact from a U.S. attack on Iran. Oil would almost instantly break the $300-per-barrel mark, and because the resulting conflict would more than likely be longer and more violent that most are predicting, there is a good chance oil would top $500 or even more within days or weeks. Hyperinflation would almost certainly strike every market-based economy, and the markets themselves would collapse under the strain.
I see. So you're saying that this isn't going to be a cake-walk, and thousands of US service-people would be killed, and the world economy would collapse, and everything gained in Iraq would be irretrievably lost? Is that correct?

How can you be so sure? Maybe you are overstating the case. Perhaps the Iranians are just bluffing, and they want everyone to be afraid of them, but they don't actually have the capacity to withstand the awesome military might of the USA.
The decision by Iran to show its hand on how it would respond to any American aggression has cleared the air, so to speak, about what is actually being discussed when one speaks of military action against Iran. In many ways, the Iranian missile tests have made it less likely that there will be a war with Iran, simply because the stakes of any such action are so plainly obvious to all parties involved.
But...but...but....what about Israel?!?! Don't you care what Israel wants??!!??

The reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is here to stay. Iran has every right under international law to pursue this program, and regional and global tensions would be greatly reduced (along with the price of oil) if American policies, and in related fashion U.N. Security Council mandates, were adjusted accordingly. Israeli paranoia—derived not so much from any genuine Iranian threat but rather an affront to Israeli nuclear hegemony in the Middle East—must in turn be subdued. This can be done through a mixture of international pressure designed to punish Israel diplomatically and economically for any failure to adhere to international norms when it comes to peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and international assurances that Israel’s sovereignty and viability as a nation-state will forever be respected and defended.

But Israel is SPECIAL, Scott!! Everybody knows that. They shouldn't have to adhere to any rules that they don't like, such as peacefully coexisting with their neighbors. That's why Americans must worry about all of this business with Iran -- so Israel can strut around the Middle East all day long flipping the bird to their Arab neighbors and chanting "We have nukes and you don't, neener neener neener!"
Of course, there can be no meaningful international pressure brought to bear on Israel without American participation, and herein lies the crux of the problem. Until the U.S. Congress segregates legitimate national security concerns from narrow Israeli-only issues, the pro-Israel lobby will have considerable control over American national security policy. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s continued push for congressional action concerning the implementation of what is tantamount to a naval blockade of Iran (and as such, an act of war) by pushing House Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580 is mind-boggling given the reality of the situation. Congress must stop talking blockade, and start discussing stability and confidence-building measures.
WHAT?!? Scott, you are just no fun. You are such a....what's the word....ADULT! Who wants to play this stupid game anyway. It's a stupid game. Let's get out of here. (screen door slams, hitting them on the ass...)


Lord Stirling said…
This is the frightening Lord Stirling. Thanks for the link to my site. Actually as scary as my article, War on Iran: The Perfect Storm from Hell, was, I was being conservative. Many war games indicate that the death levels from ABW (advanced biological warfare) will be MUCH HIGHER than what I claimed.

A. Peasant said…
Well, hello there! Thanks for visiting. You're most welcome for the link. I linked to it in full a few posts ago because it is so compelling. Naturally, I called that post "The Scariest Scenario Yet." It is blood-curdling to think about.

I do believe stopping this war is THE most pressing issue facing the world, and most unfortunately, many people do not seem to realize that. The ignorance about the consequences and blithe disregard for the casualties are both breathtaking.

Thanks for your work. I hope it will be a bucket of ice cold water over the head for many.