“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The insanity in going to war with Iran - Thesis: Iran has several options--from the traditional to the unconventional--to respond to an American or Israeli air strike. Based on my analysis, I believe Iran easily has the capability to make war more costly in terms of American lives than either of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Costs of War with Iran: An Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

Journal Article | August 31, 2012 - 4:30am

This paper describes the possible Iranian responses to American or Israeli air strikes. Using the U.S. Army’s analytical tool, “Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield,” it will define the operational environment of a war with Iran, and describe Iran’s terrain broadly. The paper describes how Iran’s military has adopted asymmetric tactics to defeat conventionally superior enemies, like America. Using this background, I will lay out the “courses of action” available to Iran at sea, air, ground, in other countries and by conducting terrorism around the globe.
(Portions of this article appeared in individual posts on my website, On Violence, but have been significantly rewritten for this paper.)
When it comes to war with Iran--whether a limited air strike or a full-on invasion--proponents for war tend to exaggerate the benefits (preventing a nuclear Armageddon for Israel) while obscuring the costs (the number of dead U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines). For example, Matthew Kroenig defended his Foreign Affairs article “Time to Attack Iran” by saying:
“As other readers of the article know, I fully engage with the many negative consequences of military action, including possible Iranian missile and terror attacks against U.S. bases, ships, and allies in the region.”
Or Charles Krauthammer describing the U.S. Navy breaking an Iranian blockade of the Straits of Hormuz:
“We will succeed, but at considerable cost.”
I understand why pundits use ambiguous language like “negative consequences” or “considerable cost.” When proponents for war with Iran put numbers to their predictions, support for military action against Iran plummets. When asked “if attacking Iran started a war similar in length and costs to war in Iraq” only 37% of Americans still supported war, according to a Reason-Rupe poll.
But war with Iran might not even resemble another Iraq or Afghanistan; it could be worse. Iran could fire ballistic missiles at population centers, supply the Taliban with guided missiles, or fire anti-ship missiles at U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. Unfortunately, most reporting on Iran revolves around whether Iran has nuclear weapons, not the costs of starting another war in the Middle East
With this paper, I hope to explain those costs. I will use my experience and training as a U.S. Army military intelligence officer to describe the options available to Iran. Specifically, I will answer the question, “What courses of action could Iran pursue immediately after an American or Israeli initiated air war?” To answer this question, I will use the traditional method of analysis of the U.S. Army, the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).
First, a few caveats. This will not be a strictly doctrinal IPB. Such an IPB uses maps, rulers and weapon capability charts to define the exact capabilities of an opponent. Since I do not have an intelligence staff, and since readers don’t want to read a document several hundred pages long (the likely length of the CENTCOM IPB for this scenario), my IPB will only sketch out Iran’s broad capabilities and options. Further, an IPB is traditionally a tactical tool. My IPB will venture into Iran’s strategic and operational approaches, a topic much more relevant to the debate than Iran’s specific tactical plans.
Second, I believe America will avoid a ground invasion of Iran. Since America hasn’t made the logistical moves to support a ground invasion, to destroy Iran’s nuclear program America or Israel must launch a coordinated air and naval bombing campaign. As such, my IPB will focus on an Iranian response to that likely attack.           
Third, I will not predict how Iran will respond. They could use all of the options at their disposal. Or none of them. I will merely lay out their options and the possible costs. For papers predicting how Iran could respond, please see my bibliography at the end.         
Finally, I used no classified material while making this IPB. Because of this hindrance, some of my analysis will miss the mark simply because of Iranian or American deception, exaggeration or confusion.
Many military analysts and think tanks have described the general military options available to Iran in previous papers. However, I believe the Army’s method of intelligence analysis--summarized for this paper--will provide readers with a guide to an Iranian response to an American military attack. It will also give Americans an idea of the possible costs of starting yet another war in the Middle East.           
Thesis: Iran has several options--from the traditional to the unconventional--to respond to an American or Israeli air strike. Based on my analysis, I believe Iran easily has the capability to make war more costly in terms of American lives than either of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.


  1. The fools and villains that want to get us into another ME war will not tell you this, but a US or Israeli instigated war with Iran will be ruinous to the average American and an utter unmitigated disaster for the country.

    The so called threat is based on a bedrock of lies and exaggerations and an ongoing campaign of disinformation by the US Neocons and their foreign agents.

    This study should sober all but the radical Israeli firsters.

    1. The nation that defeated the Nazis? The Soviets is scared to take on a two bit little nation like Iran?

      Can you say "chicken shits"?

    2. America is not capable of fighting a war. It has no will to win. To destroy the enemy.

      Currently the mood in America is that of being a pussy. We are a defeated nation.

      Might as well learn Farsi and Arabic since you are acting like dhimmis already.

      Embrace your cowardly side.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) released a poll last week showing that a clear majority of Israelis (65 percent) believe a strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities would be preferable to accepting an Islamic Republic which has a military nuclear capability. Sixty percent said that only an attack could stop Iran's nuclear ambitions, while 37 percent believed that there are other ways of averting an Iranian bomb.

    A similar majority - 64 percent - are confident that the IDF can significantly damage the Iranian nuclear installations, while 63 percent assume that retaliation against Israel's civilian front will take place regardless of who carried out the attack – Israel or the U.S.

    This last statistic is particularly interesting, because the very pollster who carried out the poll for JCPA is Prof. Camil Fuchs, Haaretz' regular pollster. A couple of weeks ago, in a poll for Haaretz, he found that 58 percent of Israelis oppose an attack on Iran without American support. This would seem to indicate that while Israelis are very worried about the Iranian threat and have little faith in diplomacy and sanctions, many of them are ambiguous over the wisdom of such attack, especially one that is carried out without U.S. support.

    Naturally, there is some overlap between the majorities in either of Fuchs' polls, and polling is always largely a reflection of the question's wording by the organizations commissioning the surveys.

    Other polls carried out by different organizations paint an even more bewildering picture. At the end of February, the Saban Center at the Brookings Institute published a survey of Israeli public opinion carried out by the Deaf Company, which showed major reservations among the public.

    According to the poll, only 19 percent of Israelis would support a strike without American backing, 42 percent would be in favor of attacking only if the U.S. is on board, and 34 percent were against striking in any case. This is by far the most detailed of polls to come out recently, and it reveals that Israelis are divided on a wide range of questions such as the support that the U.S. will ultimately give Israel if it attacks, the duration of a conflict, and whether such a move would seriously delay the Iranian nuclear project. It does seem, though, that most Israelis believe an attack on Iran would almost certainly lead to a wider conflict which will include Hezbollah in Lebanon and would last for at least a few months.

  3. ABOVE From:

    Do Israelis support a war on Iran?

    Recent polls, though varying in results, show that Netanyahu must win over at least a third of the Israeli public ahead of a strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.
    By Anshel Pfeffer | Apr.01, 2012 | 5:41 PM |

    1. Israelis support not being erased from the planet.

      Iran has proved it's goal is the erasing of Israel and then America

    2. Maybe Israel should just nuke Iran with those 150 nukes you claim they have.

      Problem solved.

  4. Step 3: Evaluating the Threat

    On the surface, one can easily dismiss Iran’s military. While Iran does invest heavily in its armed forces, it barely approaches Western spending levels. Take Stephen Walt’s description:

    Iran is not a very powerful country at present, though it does have considerable potential...But its defense budget is perhaps 1/50th the size of U.S. defense spending, and it has no meaningful power-projection capabilities. It could not mount a serious invasion of any of its neighbors, and could not block the Strait of Hormuz for long, if at all....

    On the one hand, I agree with Stephen Walt: Iran does not have the capability to strike the U.S. or project power conventionally in the Middle East for long, if at all. It cannot deploy troops or control surrounding bodies of water with its navy. It lacks an air force capable of defeating its neighbors in an extended campaign. Western arms embargoes have atrophied Iran’s advanced weapons capabilities, especially in air defense, conventional ships and manned aircraft. Iran has tried to develop an internal defense industry in response, but it still has a long, long way to go before its domestic arms production resembles anything close the Western arms manufacturing. (Cordesman and Wilner 2011, 6)

    However, Iran makes up for its resource and technology shortcomings through wit, cleverness, experience and initiative. Unlike previous U.S. opponents, Iran plans to fight the U.S. unconventionally. The most well-funded and trusted branch of the Iranian military--the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)--specializes in asymmetric warfare. The Ayatollahs hold the IRGC in the highest esteem and shower them (relatively) with money. (Cordesman and Wilner 2011, 7)

    The IRGC’s most trusted unit, the Quds Force (The closest thing Iran has to JSOC or CIA Operations branch, if the CIA or JSOC supported terrorism.) has operated for the last 30 years in countless countries around the Middle East, gaining experience fighting insurgencies, waging asymmetrical war, and studying the United States and Israeli militaries. The Quds Force and its relationships around the Middle East and world give Iran the ability to project unconventional power in terror attacks.

    This strategy could work better than either Iraq’s conventional response during the U.S. invasion or the irregular responses of the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents. Unlike insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, who use low technology weapons because they lack the funds for anything better, Iran could marry high-tech weapons like anti-ship cruise missiles with irregular strategies.

    With this mindset and preparation, Iran might have the best strategy of any opponent the U.S. has faced since 9/11. Afghanistan barely had a military. Al Qaeda hides in caves in Pakistan. Saddam never trusted his military, viewing it as a threat to his power. As a result, the Iraqi Army never embraced irregular warfare. The Ayatollahs--comparatively--love the IRGC; its name literally means “the guardians of the revolution.” Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worked in the IRGC in the 1980s and under his leadership the IRGC has “expanded their power base.”

    While Iran could be the best opponent the U.S. has faced since 9/11, they still cannot “beat” the U.S. war machine in a fight. They literally don’t have enough planes, boats, soldiers or tanks to invade America, or even stop a conventional U.S. military attack. But Iran doesn’t need to. Iran simply needs the capability to make war too costly in terms of American lives for U.S. politicians to continue to support the war. Iran will try do that in several domains of warfare, which I will discuss in the next section.

  5. Hagel was pilloried for being cautious about the US going to war with Iran.

    American professor of international affairs at Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government, Stephen Walt, explained the rationale behind this.

    “If someone displays the slightest degree of independent thought on the subject of US-Israel relations, they’ll get falsely smeared,” he said. Ii happens on this blog and several others that I visit. Israeli and AIPAC trolls monitor all the blogs and attack any dissent from their Israeli minders.

    The real victims of the war in Iraq were the American and Iraqi casualties and the money that was wasted. Those responsible go on defending their decisions and acting as though this war was just a pardonable mistake or glitch in decision making. The verdict of history even if condemnatory, will do nothing to right a wrong or to assuage the grief and helplessness of the victims.

    1. A war with Iran will cost us more.

    2. Like it or not real war with Iran is here.

      Has been since 1978.

      You just dont want to admit it.

  6. In a little-noticed exchange Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee, a top US general said he had no doubt Israel would attack Iran if the Islamic Republic reached a critical point in its nuclear weapons drive. Furthermore, said General James Mattis, Israel could so without the assistance of the United States.

    Mattis, who is retiring this month as head of the US army’s Central Command, which includes the Middle East and North Africa, was responding to questions from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who asked him whether he believed Israel would strike at Iran if the regime “reached a critical point in terms of nuclear capability.”

    Responded Mattis: “The Israelis have said so; I take them at their word.”

    Graham followed up by asking whether Israel would need US assistance to carry out such an attack. Said Mattis, “They could conduct a strike without our help.”

    Asked next whether the US should assist in such an Israeli attack, Mattis said, “That would depend on what the objective of the strike is. Is it to stop them, is it to delay them, is it how long do you want to delay them, is there a broader effort…?”

    Last summer, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he would not want to be “complicit” in an Israeli strike on Iran, which could undo US-led international pressure on Iran if carried out prematurely.

    Graham then asked the general what kind of US attack he would recommend — a limited strike or one that targeted Iran’s navy, air force and Revolutionary Guard. Mattis said that “I owe confidentiality to the president” on that question.

    Finally, Graham asked him whether a nuclear Iran would lead other regional states to seek similar nuclear capabilities. Mattis said he had been told by “the leadership” of at least one Sunni state that they would indeed pursue a nuclear capability in such a case, and he believed other states would too.

    In the same session, Mattis said flatly that sanctions were not preventing Iran’s nuclear progress, adding that he had prepared a military option for the president.

    1. Hmmm so Iran is making a bomb? Who would have thunk it...

      Obama has positioned America to be a defeated nation and this blog's leader Deuce has swallowed the cuckold position hook, line and sinker.

  7. We Invade, Conquer, and OCCUPY Iran, FOREVER,


    They get Nukes.

    1. Or.

      Destroy them.

      Your choices are that of one who doesnt understand how to win a war.

      take out their electric grid, their refineries, thier nuke sites.

      IF America is at war with Iran?

      Arrest every Iranian national in America and fight.

      But you and yours will be happy 2nd class citizens in a dhimmi world...

      Kinda fits ya

  8. Let them. Think they will any different than any other nuclear power?

    1. Iran with the bomb?

      America's security is over.

      But that's Obama's plan. And you support it.

      Now that's entertainment

    2. Iran with a bomb?

      Will start out a nuke arms race in the middle east.

      It will only be a matter of time when some middle eastern nation loses a city or oil depot.

  9. For all those posts that you said that Iran was nothing to be scared about....



    All those Pat Buchanan parroted posts...


    Now you are worried????

  10. Now let's discuss an Iran after it's been nuked.

    That would be interesting.

    1. But if Israel attacks Iran, they will also have to destroy the 100,000 rockets in Southern Lebanon as well.

      And let's not forget Hamas, Iran's other army of fools. To close to Israel to nuke, but maybe a nice attack could drive the 1.2 million Gazans into the Sinai.

  11. Heck, America killed more Iraqis and Afgahnis in those two wars than Israel would kill in destroying Lebanon and Gaza. And if they nuke Iran in precision hits? maybe only a few hundred thousand would die, still far less than America killed in Japan.

  12. But I guess Deuce and your crowd will come to the conclusion the only way to have peace with Iran?

    Have the USA bomb Israel

    Like that?

  13. So Iran is now the threat the Jews claim it is.

    Let Iran get the nuke, so what if they nuke a city?

    After all who cares if the nuke the Jews or the Sunni.

  14. "The so called threat is based on a bedrock of lies and exaggerations and an ongoing campaign of disinformation by the US Neocons and their foreign agents.

    This study should sober all but the radical Israeli firsters. "

    Not the same words but close to what was written in Mein Kampt.

    It's the Jews that stir up war, they are not to be trusted, if you want a great society? get rid of them

  15. ALL of THEM!
    die Endlösung der Judenfrage

    1. Yep, that will give us peace!!!!

      Liquidate the Jewish Problem NOW!

  16. The industrialized mass slaughter of Jews was the most outstanding acheivement of the 20th Century!

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Those who voted for The One will be at the head of the line.

  18. If we can confiscate their guns and drone them at will, what are they going to do about it?

  19. David Mamet should be the First civilian Droned in Defense of the Homeland.

    He's a twofer plus:

    Hollywood Joo gone bad. Simon.

  20. OTOH,

    Any Drone Strike in Hollywood would probly have so many collateral useful liberal drones vaporized to render the effort counterproductive.

  21. I love this...

    "This study should sober all but the radical Israeli firsters. "

    Israel firsters...

    Like saying... Have you stopped beating your wife?


  22. Uh, yeah:

    She's Dead.

    Final Solution, indeed!

  23. Hollywood targets should be addressed by more surgical approaches:

    Exploding Cigars or Dildos, subject to their predilections.

  24. I remember the new improved blog was not to permit personal attacks....

    "The so called threat is based on a bedrock of lies and exaggerations and an ongoing campaign of disinformation by the US Neocons and their foreign agents.

    This study should sober all but the radical Israeli firsters."

    If this aint one, I dont know what one is...

    1. It ain't personal if it's the whole GD Race, Religion, or whateverthef... you want to call it!

  25. Nothing like a little Galgenhumor to brace the spirits!

  26. Good to know that Seth MacFarlane's work is ethanol-fueled.

    Who's to say lighting can't strike twice?

  27. "lightning"

    ...that's probly proof right there.

    Although lighting IS a big thing in Hollywood.

  28. What if there were a handgun ban, but "Assault Rifles" were legal?

    ...since the vast majority of victims of "gun violence" are killed by handguns?

    I must sheepishly admit I love living in a neighborhood, nay a State (almost) where I never lock the door.

    Just like where I grew up, which no longer exists.

  29. ...and the kid next door owns an arsenal worthy of an LA Swat Team.

    If shit comes to shove, he better give me that modified AK-12 Gauge!