1. Anonymous says:

    That’s as frighteningly close as we are likely to get to the Boy King’s â€Bring it on!â€.

    Payback’s a bitch.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As per usual, a brilliant, unbelieveably brief, integration of the salient, military, energy, and monetary decision points. Iran has no missle capable of delivering a nuke anywhere outside the Middle East that I am aware of. WH would rather invest in â€bunker busters†than in securing our ports. Thanks for the long list of leverage points that Iran has. By smashing the Sunni and ousting Saddam, we had an unbelieveably rare chance to â€improve†relations with Iran. We were also making progress wrt to the two-state solution. I agree we never should have occupied in the first place, but the WH continued to screw it up even worse, once we were â€occupiers.â€
    IMHO, any conflict between the U.S. and Iran dramatically increases Russian influence in the Middle East. It also increases Russian influence in Europe. Conventional US capability to honor NATO committments has been seriously undermined by the Iraq occupation. This has got to make former Soviet Republics, very nervous. Time to start dusting off Dwight Eisenhower’s â€military-industrial complex.†Little point in putting a tax on gasoline if the revenue will simply go to Haliburton instead of paying down the debt, which you so accurately described.

  3. Anonymous says:

    excuseme: that is exactly what I was about to write. I think the questions emptywheel raises about what motivation, what audience, and what strategy underlie this message may be as devoid of answers as if one asked the same questions of Bush’s famous line. Or of the half-intelligible challenge of a drunk in a barfight for that matter.

  4. Anonymous says:


    I don’t consider what Iran would do if it allied with AQ and I do consider what it would do if it allied with Venezuela. That’s not to say I don’t think Iran and AQ might join forces.

    But I do think it likely that Iran has lined up some allies (like Venezuela) that we’re not exactly anticipating jumping in here.

    Given how the NYT and WaPo consistenly present completely contradictory presentations of China’s and Russia’s response to our warmongering, how accurate is our assessment of who Iran might ally with in the case of war? Do we even know?

  5. Anonymous says:

    That’s because drunken, effete, and privileged frat boys never have to think about consequences; someone else always cleans up the vomit.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dour consequences from our initiating a hot war with Iran seem so likely to me that I can’t help but think that Condi and the gang are engaging in nothing more than brinksmanly saber rattling – but then I thought the same thing back in 2002 wrt Iraq . . .

    And yet I do not see how the BushCos can believe that a war on another major oil supplier – this one with a lot more formidable military-industrial capability – could gain them additional political power in the US. That leaves the possibility that they are simply preparing to go for broke, that all bets are off, that there will be no additional electoral accountability.

    Thoughts like that take me back to a day in September of 2001. maybe they had the bloodymindedness to do that too . . .

    . . . reaching for the tin-foil fedora here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The fedora looks nice, Semiot.

    Seriously, I feel like I’m getting repetitive. But we’ve got to move the debate away from nukes (they’re a problem, but that’s not why we’re attacking Iran) and we’ve got to start asking why we went to war in Iraq and why we’re threatening to do so in Iran.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Right. And thanks to you for working to advance that debate.

    I had it out with my father-in-law a few weeks ago. He’s convinced that if we don’t attack Iran then Israel will. I suggested that that is crazy talk. Israel can’t do it without our assistance – and since then, of course, some decidedly mixed signals have come out of Tel Aviv. In any case, my FIL doesn’t believe anything until he reads it in the print edition of the Washington Post. He was quite the political guy in his day – now, not so much.

  9. Anonymous says:

    emptywheel’s first question is the correct one. Who is the audience? We shouldn’t overlook the obvious answer, the people in the room when he made the statement, the IAEA board. As you can see from the change in ElBaradei’s tone, the Iranian message (refusal to give into threats) has been received there. On a broader level, the audience is not particularly the U.S. leadership, but the rest of the industrialized world. Iran knows that our leaders are fools, but is counting on Europe, the other former British colonies, Russia, and China to restrain us. Those countries realize that most of the things that will hurt us will inevitably hurt them as well.

    To answer emptywheel’s other questions, one need only examine the tactics of the enemies of the Roman and British Empires (in their respective heydays). When faced with an overwhelming military power, your only choice is unconventional warfare. Although our military dominance is probably even greater than either of those empires, our grip on world political dominance is far more tenuous. The dependence of the modern world economy on a single commodity (oil) is the reason.

    There is no doubt that Iran can create all sorts of havoc in Iraq, if they need to, but it is really Sistani that we need to worry about. At this point, there are a whole range of things he could say that would cause Iraq to erupt. I shudder to think what would happen if he were assassinated. As to Iranian influence in Iraq, that is simply a given. And it is fairly clear that they are planning to use their influence to undermine the connection between the dollar and oil (petrodollars will become petroeuros).

    Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities are incredibly vulnerable to sabotage. For now, the fortunate reality is that almost everyone with the capability to disrupt them has an interest in keeping them operating. The tricky thing for the Iranians in a confrontation with the U.S. is that it’s more beneficial to temporarily disrupt the Saudi capacity rather than put them out of action more or less permanently.

    I think the reason the Israelis won’t move against the Iranian nuclear facilities is exactly because they really can’t afford the escalation of local hostilities that the Iranians certainly could engender.

    While there is no doubt we can militarily control the straits of Hormuz, all the Iranians have to achieve is uncertainty (who wants to risk being the one whose tanker hits the mine we missed in our sweep).

    Nobody can keep the oil flowing if an all-out war erupts. Our strategic reserve would last for weeks, not months. We would have an almost immediate and largely irreversible decline in our standard of living. China and Russia (and everybody else in the world) desperately need to stop this scenario before it starts.

    China can precipitate a dollar crisis any time they want. We can only work to ensure it doesn’t become a viable strategy for them.

    Finally, it’s not a question of who can hold out longer. If we choose to make the sacrifices, we have enough oil here at home to power our military machine. It just doesn’t make any sense to do that.

    On a related topic, by now it should be clear to everyone that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been much better for Iran than for us. They got rid of their most hated enemy and replaced him with a Shi’ite controlled majority government deeply indebted to Iran. In their struggle with us, they multipled their options while severely limiting ours. If they didn’t deliberately trick us into invading Iraq, they certainly must be very happy we did.

  10. Anonymous says:

    ew, wrt to your feeling â€repetitive,†maybe you’re lapping the field? If DeadEye is the metaphor for the WH, maybe Enron is the metaphor for the GOP.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing, nothing on the record and nothing even remotely to be assumed, that would indicate to any sentient being that this group in power thinks about results and consequences (for others) much less learns from them.

    As in the quote, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. At which point do we acknowledge, to our horror, that logic and expertise have not ever been and will not ever be the foundation of the actions of this administration? Indeed, the actions or inaction of Congress, as well? Have we already reached that point and we, for sanity’s sake, expect – no, hope – for a different result?

    Most of us are hanging by a string saved only by the blogs. Blogs! This is where we learn, this is where the issues are debated, this is where the expertise lies, and this is where we turn for comfort and joy.


    (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know what I mean)

    Joe six-pack may never get it. They’d rather have a beer with the Boy King.

    Us, we’re concerned about the fate of the world, lots of other people never give it a thought and when the Boy King fucks up they figure, cool, he’s just a regular guy like us that fucks up like we do.

    Excuse the hyperbole.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You know what bugs me? What bugs me is that you have written an analysis that I have seen NOWHERE else in the close to 7500 pages of stuff – no exaggeration – I’ve read in the past several weeks on Iran. Analyses by officials and consultants who are PAID good money to, presumably, come up with what you have done. Obviously, I don’t have a security clearance, which also bugs me – Rove gets one and I don’t? – so maybe the classified stuff includes all this. But in all the popular press and from the rightwing, nuke-’em-now blogs to the most leftist Iran-should-have-nukes blog, nothing comes close.

    One thing you didn’t raise, however, is the â€harm and pain†to Iran. I talked about that here in a speculation about the results if the U.S. were to use nukes to take out underground facilities. But that’s highly unlikely, while a more conventional aerial and sabotage attack is not.

    The Oxford Research Group recently published Iran: Consequences of a War.†Thousands of civilians and soldiers would be killed, although the full extent of this would not be known for months.

    Retaliation possibilities include many of those you suggest, and this:

    The consequences described above relate to the immediate responses from within Iran or from associates in Lebanon. Probably the most difficult response to predict would be the effect of a military confrontation with Iran on the attitudes and reactions from within wider Islamic communities. Although there is an uneasy relationship between Iran and the al-Qaida movement, and between Iran and the Arab world, any attack on such a significant Islamic republic would inevitably increase the anti-American mood in the region and beyond, giving greater impetus to a movement that is already a global phenomenon.

    One of the most significant developments of the past four years has been the ability of the al-Qaida movement and its associates to survive and thrive in an intensely antagonistic environment. Since 9/11, the movement has experienced the loss of many key leadership elements, either killed or detained, has lost its main operating areas in Afghanistan and has seen over 70,000 people detained for lengthy periods. Even so, the level of activity in those past four years has actually been substantially higher than in the four years prior to the 9/11 attacks.

    Of particular significance has been the evolution of suicide bombing. Historically, this phenomenon has been widespread and has not been restricted to radical Islamist groups, but individual campaigns involving suicide bombing have been narrow in their geographical focus. These have included the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, Kurdish separatists in Turkey, Hezbollah supporters in Southern Lebanon and Palestinian radicals in Israel/Palestine. These have all been directed at responding to occupation and perceived oppression in a localised region.

    For the first time, at least on a substantial scale, suicide bombing has gone transnational, often involving well-educated individuals who are motivated to respond not to their known immediate circumstances but to the wider circumstances of co-religionists. They are aided by the huge increase in information now available through satellite TV news channels and the internet, and may be prepared to travel substantial distances to undertake their actions.

    If the United States is prepared to extend its current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran, this trend should be expected to get a substantial further boost, with consequences that are difficult to predict. It will certainly be yet another example of a reaction that will serve to damage US security interests in the region and beyond.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think one of the most telling points in your exellent piece is â€If Halliburton et al. haven’t been able to get Iraq’s oil production back to pre-war levels, why should we think they could manage Iran, Saudi etc production in case of war?†(paraphrase).

    And I question why we should believe they really hae the intelligence and assets on and in Iran that Arkin claims? They said that about Iraq, and they were so spectacularly wrong.

    Iraq is costing us 4-5 billion a mnth that we don’t have, and is losing support. I can’t see how they would attack iran until troops had been drawn down from Iraq, even if they don’t intend another ground war. Absent an attack, i can’t see the public signing on for one more war until there is some resolution with Iraq. Listening to Bush in his Q&A today was frightening. He just rambled on about why we were going to â€win†in Iraq because people â€love freedom,†without seeing any contradiction.

    Or maybe this is the secret plan to get Americans to reduce consumption and save more.

  14. Anonymous says:

    John Casper–

    I think you’ve got it dead on. Enron is the appropriate metaphor. It also explains why no one in Congress or in big bidness will stand up to this administration even when it is in their best interest to do so. I recently read â€Conspiracy of Fools†a great reconstructive narrative from primary sources putting together the events at Enron. I was struck as to the stupidity of Skilling and Lay, and how they let Fastow get away with what he did. Moreover, I was absolutely baffled as to how Fastow could strongarm big banks and Arthur Andersen into going along with his schemes, when they were clearly idiotic, money-losing propositions, and possibly illegal.

    The answer is that Fastow leveraged Enron’s market MIGHT and made others capitulate to his foolish demands. No one wanted to be left out of the gravy train, if banks didn’t play along with Fastow, they lost Enron’s business. In essence, they were scared.

    I see the same thing playing out on a much bigger scale with Naked Chimperor and his Fastow, Dick Cheney. Nobody wants to speak truth to power, EVEN IF they know it’s in their best interest to do so. Even the EU is intimidated, as they stand to lose economically if they don’t go along with the admin’s game.

    In essence, the inmates are running the asylum. It will take a strong coalition of movers and shakers to stop this train. Unfortunately, they’re too busy looting the country and their corporations to care.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wow superb comments, folks. Thanks, especially MB and William for some answers to my questions.

    Mimikatz, I should specify–Arkin is speaking hypothetically. His column yesterday basically pointed out that we don’t have the intelligence. Here’s an excerpt:

    It would be better for the news media to stop speculating about an imminent strike and stop providing expert warnings of the difficulties associated with such a strike. It should focus instead on the administration’s and the military’s thinking on the subject. The reason is because even if the administration’s â€triggers†appeared tomorrow for â€global strike†to be implemented, that is, if Iran announced it possessed a nuclear weapon, it would still a terrible and dangerous course of action for the United States to immediately attack.

    I’d hate to have the experts still saying â€but we didn’t even have good intelligence!â€

    The passage above was him basically saying that, even in the very best case scenario, striking Iran is still nuts!

  16. Anonymous says:

    wow, excellent thread (and post of course).

    the possibility that they are simply preparing to go for broke

    Of course the reason for this push to invade Iran is not nuclear weapons; it’s to ’fix’ the Iraq problem we’ve created – to continue ’fixing’ the reigon, really. These people always raise the stakes – double or nothing, bet the farm, etc. ’It’s risky, but it just might work!’. Madness.

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a great post, what a great thread. Emptywheel has laid out most of the possibles. A battle for the Straits of Hormuz would probably be accompanied by an extensive mining campaign, which would be very easy to launch from the Iranian coast. We’re naked to that. Anti-mine equipment was, the last time I checked, not a strong point of the US Navy. We’ve left that to our Nato allies, who aren’t on station in the Gulf just right now. Don’t know if mines would interdict the flow of tankers or not but it would bug the bejeezsus out of their insurers. I’ve been reading an excellent book by Geoffrey Parker, The Grand Strategy of Philip II, and it’s very similar to now. Both Philip and Bush believe that â€God will provide†is a plan, given that God is on their side. Let’s hope that Iran isn’t our version of the â€Enterprise of England,†which led to the Armada.

  18. Anonymous says:

    But if Halliburton isn’t getting the oil fields productive, then no one ELSE is getting the oil either, right? Isn’t it sortof like keeping it in a bank–neither China, not India nor anyone else is getting so much as a teaspoonful. It’s like that â€inability†to secure the oil production is part of the plan to save it all for the US to use later. Maybe..

  19. Anonymous says:

    John Shreffler,

    Funny you should mention the parallel with Philip II. I’ve made the same connection myself. I do think Philip was inherently more suited to command than Bush is.

  20. Anonymous says:

    EW, I did read both Arkin posts, but I’m afraid that I didn;t read it clearly enough–as I’ve said, the prospect of another war upsets me.

    Philip II was the king in â€Don Carlos†by Schiller and Verdi’s great opera, no? A much more sympathetic treatment than those of us with English backgrounds usually get. It was the wind, not English sailing, as I understand it, that did in the Armada, so I guess God wasn’t on his side. You’d think strategic thinking would have advanced beyond blind faith in 420 years.

  21. Anonymous says:

    this si a great analysis of the possible outcomes of an attack on Iran

    but you forget that this isn’t about Iran presenting a threat to America. This isn’t about America. It’s about george w bush

    attacking Iran is the secret political strategy that karl rove has up his sleeve for September of 2006

    know the enemy

  22. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone out there think it’s an accident that the threat ends suspiciously like â€Let’s Rollâ€(famous last words before Cheney had the plane shot down). Do you think the party that keeps me â€safe and secure†can figure out when to shut up and back off?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Really good post-n-thread! (I heart blogs.)

    Just a couple of observations.

    Some of the speculation upthread seems to move a little too far away from the basic fact that, absent a draft (which is politically untenable), we CAN’T do anything more than some bombing and maybe some unconventional warfare, both of which are logistically harder, and usually have less lasting â€beneficial†effects, than romantic images would have it. Bombing is also very public, and highly outrageous. IMHO, even Tony Blair would have to distance himself from it. (Recall that, while the US actually gets very little of its imported oil from the Mideast, including Iran, Europe gets most of its.)

    This therefore suggests that any bombers, if they’re launched, will have the Star of David on their tails, if the US and Europe have anything to say about it. The US would be supporting it strongly, of course, because Israel only barely has the technical capacity to conduct raids into Iran even with the approval of the countries controlling the airspace in between (one of which is us), and because the technical intelligence provided by the US probably would be essential to success. The Arab world would naturally assume the US was behind it, so the only effect of the smokescreen would be to blunt domestic reaction. That might work, but the effect on longer-term Arab-Israeli politics would be catastrophic. Israel would know this, of course, but $2 billion a year, and a lot of price discounts on military hardware, speaks very loud in Tel Aviv.

    One therefore is led to the conclusion that the upthread comments about ulterior motives are correct. And one is inevitably drawn back to the fact that this administration is tied in ways too numerous to count to OIL. And in case anybody hadn’t noticed, the general price rise in oil (which has been somewhat obscured by the more heavily covered but very transient spikes) has been FANTASTICALLY LUCRATIVE for the oil industry. World-record lucrative.

    Of course, a serious oil shock will crash the economy. But if they play the fear card hard enough, enough people might suck it up anyway and stick with the manly men who will keep us safe from Muslim fanatics.

    So the question I have is, would they be that irresponsible? Would they crash the economy of the West, set back the cause of peace in the Mideast by fifty years, and pour gasoline on a smoldering but yet controllable culture war between Islam and the West, all just to enrich their buddies in the oil industry and maybe (only maybe) keep themselves in power a little longer?

    I guess I gotta say, yes they would. But that’s pretty harsh…

  24. Anonymous says:

    great post again EW.

    i’m reminded of the ex-poste rationalization for the fuck-up in iraq that the pundits now wisely spout – that ’no military plan survives first contact with the enemy’ – i guess that’s why they dont even bother having one.

  25. Anonymous says:

    â€But if Halliburton isn’t getting the oil fields productive, then no one ELSE is getting the oil either, right? Isn’t it sortof like keeping it in a bank–neither China, not India nor anyone else is getting so much as a teaspoonful.â€

    Posted by: Old Sow | March 10, 2006 at 18:53

    This is definitely part of it. It’s all about oil in the immediate future.
    Nuclear weapons are a problem for Israel’s (Likudites) expansion plans but that’s a little into the future.

    EW, here a some additional facts to add to the mixture:_
    Iran is due to hold talks with Pakistan and India in Teheran(sp?) THIS MONTH to conclude a deal to pipe natural gas to these two countries. India is negotiating to on-pipe it to China and Russia wants to build the pipeline. That ties FOUR nuclear nations to Iran economically.
    It also screws up the Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan pipeline which is the reason the US went to war against the Taliban in the first place (they wouldn’t agree to it)
    Iran’s gas field is huge and will be the fuel of the future.

    The US is desperate to scuttle this deal and this should be bourne in mind when considering the recent US-India nuke deal.

    The Straits will be closed for the duration of the war and for some time after. Forget about any oil going through there. Read this –
    The US fleet will have to be out of the Gulf before they start hostilities. However, if Iran starts it then anything floating in the Persian Gulf won’t be floating very long.

    So how will oil get out? There is a pipeline being built westwards from the north of Iraq to Haifa. There is an old existing pipeline in place but it is small (8â€). The three huge permanent bases being built by the US (H1, H2 & H3) are situated along this pipeline and not far from the Syrian border.
    There is also a large new US base in Israel and presumably this would be used to re-supply the US forces.

    The US are making what looks like preparatory moves to withdraw to these bases. (The reappearance of C130 helicopter gunships in Iraq and the handing over of Abu Ghraib to Iraqis plus all the news talk of withdrawal) This could presage the fostering of an all out civil war in Iraq and/or an aerial bombardment of Iran.

    Iran and Syria signed a formal military alliance a year or so ago requiring each to go to the aid of the other in case of attack.
    Russia has missiles stationed in Syria and manned by Russian crews. Nuclear warheads? – who knows!

    That last bit is the big unknown in my book. What will the Russians do.

    If oil is scarce then this gives enormous power to those that can still supply it – Israel & US?
    The price will go through the roof and this is good for the future of the US dollar as now there is greatly added demand for US dollars because that is the only way you can buy oil.

    If Israel wanted start things off, they might move against Hizbollah in Lebanon. They didn’t push Syria out of there for nothing. There’s lots of water in Lebanon.

    So, some info and some speculation. But really NOBODY can tell what will happen. Except the loonies, if you were to believe them.

  26. Anonymous says:

    The military option is far more dangerous than most of us know. Iran will likely sink substantially all of the 5th Fleet within an hour or so after we launch an attack. If/when that happens, Dubya will get a fix of blind jingoism from the rubes, giving him an excuse to go scorched earth and render Iran as uninhabitable as Chernobyl.

    Read the linked article. Make everyone you know read it. And be very, very afraid.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting the link, John. Mine didn’t come through.

    Reading Bleh’s comment reminds me that Israel has planes stationed in Turkey. So they don’t have to fly over Jordan and Iraq to get to Iran.

    I don’t think the US administration has any intention of invading Iran except the northern bit that is part of â€Kurdistanâ€. US objectives are achieved by bombing Iran back into the â€Stone Ageâ€.

    The US is the country that destroyed Dresden as a â€message†to be found by advancing Russian troops in WW11. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were similar messages to Russia (and the world). I doubt the mentality has changed

  28. Anonymous says:

    Just a few stray thoughts.

    The quality of the Iranian leadership as exemplified by Ahmadinejad is awful, even worse than Bush and company. A lot of Ahmadinejad’s choices for ministers, especially for oil, were rejected by the parliament because they were incompetent ideologues with no experience even by their standards. Ahmadinejad himself is something of a thug. The goofiness of Iranian leadership makes an already dangerous situation much more so whether we act or not.

    Iran probably can mess things up for us even more than they already are in Iraq. But don’t push this â€We’re all Shi’ites†thing too far. Arab-Persian tensions are longstanding. Persian Iran has lousy relations with the Arab Shi’ites who live in their oil rich province of Khuzestan. In the long run, these ethnic animosities are likely to resurface and will do so that much faster if Iranians try to play too big a part in Iraq’s affairs.

    It should be remembered as well that Arab Iranians did not side with Saddam when he invaded but neither did Iraqi Shia refuse to fight their Iranian co-religionists in the Iraq-Iran War. Similarly, it is far from clear that Saudi Shia would rise up or engage in sabotage in protest of an attack on Iran. What has Iran done for them lately?

    As for oil, the sharp rise in price has bailed Ahmadinejad out of a disastrous economic situation (for the time being). If he were to embargo or withhold oil from the market, he could wreak some havoc abroad but very likely at the cost of destroying his own economy. With nearly 70 million people, Iran needs the oil to flow, which is not to say they are not capable of doing something really stupid (again think of our own Administration).

    The oil card is a dangerous one for all concerned. Instability would not be welcomed by any of the large oil producers or consumers and there would likely be considerable pushback against Iran if it went this route. Also if the world economy was thrown into recession by any of this, there would be decreased demand for oil, prices would fall, and this would again be disastrous for the Iranian economy.

    Terrorism and some interference in both Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon are what Iran is most capable of and most likely to do. Military action in the Gulf is also a possibility but would prove costly both politically and militarily.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Here’s another question.

    How many oil tankers would you have to sink to make the Straits unusuable? Seems to me those things are so big, you could begin to clog up the shipping lane. Add in the environmental damage and it might interrupt shipping in a way the Americans haven’t really considered.

    The Straits is the big unknown in any attack on Iran. But are we thinking too narrowly in thinking about how Iran would hit our naval ships, rather than the tankers themselves?

  30. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what Vaeidi was thinking of with his ill-considered â€harm and pain†remark, but think I do know the context in which he said it.

    Does anyone here remember the enormous harm and pain the US-inspired sanctions caused Iraq? Sanctions are what the US is now offering the world as the â€soft, peaceful, responsible†option on Iran.

    I think this was in part a reaction to the unfair fact that the US wields tremendous arbitrary power. We sometimes use this to damage others with very little thought of what we are doing. Many Muslims see the their differences with the US as a conflict between justice and injustice. I have to say that I see their point. Unfortunately, in the big picture there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans on this.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Not to get too bogged down in minutia, but the Straits of Hormuz were never closed during the Iran-Iraq war, even though the US and its Persian Gulf Arab allies were helping Iraq with the war of aggression Iraq started against Iran. A pretty good short history of that war is available at http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..n-iraq.htm which I’d post as a link if I knew how.

    Both Iraq and Iran attacked tankers in the Gulf. Iran fired silkworm missiles at tankers and the US responded by blowing up Iranian oil platforms. Neither country was able to shut down the oil export capacity of it’s enemies.

    Granted, this happened at a time of vast oil surplus, which is certainly not the case today.

    An interesting side note on the Iran-Iraq war: One reason the U.S. got involved on the side of Iraq was because the U.S. and its Gulf Arab allies feared that Iranian capture of Basra might result in an expansion of Iranian influence into the Shiite areas of Iraq.

    I guess Bush mucked that one up good.

  32. Anonymous says:


    I don’t know how many sunken tankers it would take to physically block the shipping lane(s) but it would be effectively blocked with mines.
    I have always assumed the tankers would be targets for missiles.
    Markfromireland has pointed out that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Destroyer escorts (and presumably any other naval craft) is to â€hide†from missiles behind the nearest merchant ship.

    A few differences between now and the Iran/Iraq war is that –
    Iran has much more deadly missiles now.
    It was not at war with the US.
    It was not facing annihilation as it would see the case now.

    What I perceive is that US citizens are very largely unaware that a lot of people around the world see the US now as a Rogue State threatening EVERYONES existence and I can only think that the governments of Russia and China view it this way, too. Hence all the economic and military alliances being formed against the US. Survival and dominance is unquestionably dependent on oil

    I don’t think US will really go for long time sanctions a la Iraq because time is not on their side. The US and Israeli economies are sliding backwards and headed for the toilet while the economies of Russia, China, Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, India are forging ahead AND EVERYONE OF THESE GOVERNMENTS KNOWS THIS.
    The US is â€going for broke†and it is not only it’s big chance but, more importantly, it’s last chance.

    I think what we are facing is brinkmanship the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Cuban Crisis. But then, JFK and Kruschev were able to see each other as reasonable men and neither of them was facing defeat economically or militarily if they backed down. That no longer applies.

    There’s no way Bush (and his cabal) can be seen as reasonable and rational by Putin or anybody else for that matter. I have read that during the Reagan years it was seriously considered that behaving irrationally towards Russia would give the US an advantage. Russia could no longer rely on the US backing away from Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD!) and so would have to back down first and see that as it’s only option.

    It would seem that this doctine has been put into place and is now reality and, ironically, that DOESN’T give Russia and China the option of backing down, (in my opinion) because backing down has a huge downside now.

    My fervant hope is that Americans can see the danger they are in in letting this administration continue and unseat them somehow and quick!

  33. Anonymous says:


    Brilliant points, all of them. (I’ve got to thank everyone, once again, for some phenomenal comments on this thread.)

    But I’d make one point:

    Survival and dominance is unquestionably dependent on oil

    For the US and China, absolutely.

    But Europe–at least significant parts of it–are angling for option C, survival without dependence on oil. Me, I’m putting my money on that square right now. Because there simply is not enough oil in the world for either the US or China, much less both of them.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Great diary EW…as always?imho.
    The John Steinberg comment at 23:30 3/10/6 has the link to the 2004 article about soviet cruise missles, and nobody seemed to speak directly to that, only ’tankers and mines in the Hormuz straits’. egad as if that wasn’t bad enough…Anybody have any 2006 update about it?
    I guess I could try google , but if there’s edumacated opinion that that’s crackpot tin foil stuff I’d like to frakkin know!
    Regarding soviet tech, there was a story back 3 mos from a diarist-who-shant-be-named-here about the missle and aircraft defense systems the Iranians bought from the soviets, or whoever-they-are-calling themselves now. These sound really effective also, and are cruise missle and F-15 effective in particular.
    According to the diary they were going to be two years in the installing, from last fall iirc. I’ll dig up a link if anybody asks, but they’ve probably all gone to bed the big fat babies.
    Also, the response from the media, (especially Air America Radio news!) is that the Iranian president made this comment you referred to in your diary, but did not mention the context(!) and the fact of the threatening chat from Bolton etc during the two appearances at AIPAC and other speeches during the last couple of weeks.
    In addition to that threatening language from the WH, there was plenty of similiar â€big lie†type propaganda going on in the Congressional hearings. Sen Lantos (Cal-DEM!) was in particular bad on the committee chaired amusingly by the senile yet still wise ass Henry Hyde. Even more interestingly was that the testimony of several, including the dishonorable Michael Ledeen, seemed to mostly all agreed that diplomacy and engagement was the key to success with Iran and they were not calling for any military attack! WTFrak? That was very interesting…(new tinfoil custom fitted hat arrived today) does Ledeen know something about to happen, and also knows what a disaster it will be, and his giving himself plausible deniability before the fact? Or is he just more or less correct about this…weird is what it is! Cspan would have it on their website, about wed or thursday last. Well, enough for now, gotta go to bed, thanks again.

  35. Anonymous says:

    via Siun, Fox News is banging the war drum pretty loud. I think this is getting very serious.

    Murtha is apparently saying not to worry ’cause we don’t have the ground troops but he must know it’s not going to be about ground troops. It strikes me as disinformation, which is a worry to me (along with everything else!).

    Any ideas about making some noise in opposition?

  36. Anonymous says:

    I read the piece about the Russian anti-ship missles that Iran owns. I found it very interesting. It suggests a reversal of military strength like that seen in the success of anti-tank missles in the Yom Kipper war of 1973. FWIW I suspect that U.S. military intelligence has a pretty good idea of where many of those missles are, and the first move, in any attack on Iran, would be to attempt take them out. Whether such an attempt would succeed is another matter, however. In any case, I can’t imagine that the U.S. Navy has not tried to work out counter-measures to this new anti-ship missle technology. Again, whether they have succeeded in devising adequate counter-measures is another matter.

    On a related matter, there is a very interesting article on the NYT’s site today about the failures of the Iraq military defense to the U.S. and British attack in 2003:


    There was, recall, a U.S. war game a couple of months before the invasion in which the U.S. officer playing the Iraqi side managed a impressive low tech attack on the U.S. fleet using means, such as desiel electric subs, available to the Iraqis. I wondered at the time why Iraqi military planners did not try to devise and execute a similar plan: surely they had read the newspaper accounts of the war game? But this article suggests that Saddam’s restrictions on his military prevented them for being effective in the war, and perhaps also prevented the Iraqi military from trying something like the attack the U.S. officer in the war game devised. Just a thought, anyway