Monday, May 5, 2008

Where's The Red Line?

We here at Low & Left have -on occasion- been dubious over claims that this Administration will invade or bomb the snacks out of Iran. Does Bush, Rice and Co. have it in for Iran? Hell, yeah. But would they have the gall to attempt direct force on the country, considering we're tied up and our military is stretched thin on 2 of their borders in Iraq and Afghanistan?

After an interview by Scott Ritter on Democracy Now, action against Iran is again being hauled out. And as the election season is in full-swing, it's being forwarded as a possible October Surprise against likely Democratic gains, and possibly massive gains if the will of the electorate continues its 2006 mood and if it's not tempered by malfeasance or illegality. (Insert laughter as you see fit)

I like Ritter. I really do. He's been a consistent watchdog on this issue and part of the world for years. And he's been speaking against administration aims and goals since 2004 against Iran. I have no doubt that Ritter sees a consistent desire by this administration to stomp on Iran. I just argue with his timetable claims.

Time is running out for the Bushies. If they're serious, they're going to have to shit or get off the pot. Either they're using rhetoric against Iran as saber-rattling in place of actual diplomacy and opportunistically also using same against 'weak-defense' Democrats. Or they're cooking up a longer term strategic goal of severely damaging Iran's threat potential and infrastructure, and the timing of such force will either be designed to shake up the domestic election or will be a lame-duck gesture.

We're fairly certain that force will mean bombing Iran, not invasion. The US military couldn't invade - it simply doesn't have the soldiers or equipment. Not without a draft of manpower and years-long massive buildup of infantry and ground armor that would be a nova-like signal of intention. The Iranians have been propagandized to hate Americans since 1978, and the Iraq invasion hasn't helped our public opinion image there or anywhere in the Middle East whatsoever. Invading, even if we had the power and people, would be a horrendous, bloody event for both sides.

So what's the real sign that the U.S. will bomb, and not just might bomb? Well, this analysis is at least a start. American air power has significant presence already in the area. And then add the two aircraft carrier groups in the region that have been stationed there since 2007 when Washington has been verbally harassing the Iranians.

The Pentagon dislikes losing pilots or aircraft - its expensive in materials and in trained men and women, and the media goes into a feeding frenzy under the certain 'lost pilot' circumstances. It's logical to assume that a U.S. bombing plan will be comfortably similar to prior raids - stealth assets will be used to knock out radar, early warning installations, and command and control information centers. That means cruise missiles & numerous increased sorties from Diego Garcia, other air stations from where the F-22 is based, and maybe from Whiteman air base in Missouri where the majority of the B-2 Spirit bomber fleet is stationed. (the infamous F-117 Nighthawk was retired and placed out of service just 2 weeks ago - theoretically replaced by F-22s in a ground attack role)

Then both land-based and sea-based non-stealth air groups would come in at will and bomb the living fuck out of anything deemed a target. Military press briefings would stress the 'accuracy of the munitions used', showing the all too familiar video footage of JDAM and other guided and semi-guided weapons destroying anything they hit. What won't be mentioned is the use of conventional unguided munitions will be the greater majority of weapons dropped.

So a sign might be increased munitions & materiel shipments to all of the air staging areas, both domestically and in the theater.

With one carrier group in the Persian Gulf, I think it's arguable that we don't necessarily need three in the Gulf to telegraph that bombing Iran is nigh. Here's the public information on all of the battle groups:
* Kitty Hawk is in the process of decommissioning,
* Enterprise is docked for refurbishment in Newport News
* Nimitz is in the Pacfic getting harrassed by the Russians.
* Eisenhower has no current operation listing.
* Vinson is in nuclear overhaul
* T. Roosevelt is in Newport supposedly and ready for action.
* Lincoln is on station in Persian Gulf
* Washingoton was in Brazil for a joint force excercise and will replace Kitty Hawk
* Stennis is in Washington state after maintenance replacements.
* Truman is in the Mediterranean coming up on the end of it's deployment.
* Reagan is in San Diego after exercises
* Bush is on shakedown

Iran has significant anti-aircraft and anti-ship defenses. The entire length of the Gulf is supposed to have ferocious sea missile installations that are well-protected. The implied balance of power is that while the U.S. could bomb at will, the Iranians would certainly commit to attacking the battle group(s) in retribution. Unless the Navy is confident of their defensive anti-missile systems, I can't imagine the military would want to place a larger commitment of forces within shooting range of Iran. The military could use land-based assets with less exposure and with a less noticeable buildup of aircraft and arms. But this would come at a cost of Navy prestige, something which the Navy has been sensitive to in the past.

Lastly, the Bush administration is known for the grace it executes military buildups - or more like its lack thereof. I can't imagine them doing the increases needed to do a sustained bombing campaign without press releases, briefings, copious threats, domestic scare campaigns & attempts to gain international support more serious than what's been presented so far. If the Bushies try anything, their heralds will certainly make us quite sure of what's about to happen.

So there it is - the best I can figure. If it happens, considering the current mood and state of the country, I can't imagine that the electorate would support the administration without a significant event on national soil, and one that couldn't be undeniably traced back to Iran. The administration wanted to do this to Iraq in 2001, but couldn't manage it because of leaks out of it's own intelligence services clearly indicating an Al Queada based in Afghanistan. Instead, it had to build up a cause and coast in on the post-2001 attitudes to get Iraq.

With no motive, an electorate would completely vote every politician endorsing an attack out of office. Chances are that an already weak economy would worsen. The 'October Surprise' would be a blowback of incredible proportions. And in the case of an attack in the lame-duck twilight . . what's the modern equivalent of crowds bearing pitchforks and torches?


Seven of Six said...

You know Id, I've been on and off, on and off, the Iran charade for awhile.

Did they switch to the Euro for Oil yet?

I guess bu$h/cheney are that stupid. They'll use the Israel deterrent and everything you mentioned.
Another thing in their twisted logic is that they will say they are combining the GWT and making it one huge front instead of 3 actual wars.

If we bomb, I think the backlash will too great from the Dems. Not to mention Russia and China.
It will force Iran to send ground troops against us in Iraq, maybe through Northern Kurdish territory. Pulling in Turkey.
Fuck it... basically starting WWIII!

They can try their luck against us in the Persian Gulf and our Aircraft carriers but that will be tough on them.

I don't know, I think (and pray) snark is right on this one. Cooler heads will prevail.

Sorry to step on you, I'll move mine down.

Seven of Six said...

Hey Id, Col. Pat Lang has some insightful thoughts on this.

His comment section is always one of the best.

idiosynchronic said...

Oh, no problems. I just saw that diary at the Orange Satan and knew that even I could work the topic over.

On the democrats - I originally wrote 'every Republican' instead of 'every politician endorsing', and for obvious reasons. There's enough limp war noodles in the Democratic Party, the Blue Dogs for one, who'd get their jollies from seeing American forces kick the shit from yet another foreign country.

I'd forgotten about Col. Lang, thanks for bringing him up again.

Anonymous said...

So, I've been away from TLC for a while. Came by today to catch up. What the hell is up with this "Turkana" person?

~ dj moonbat

idiosynchronic said...


Steve took a break to write a book, and invited Turkana to sub for him. I think a or the major qualification was that she be a Hillary supporter. Then Steve has come back at a semirandom rate, and first thing he did was drop his support of Clinton.

It's all been Komedy, in the finest tradition.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily disapprove of the Hillary support per se. But Turkana's just WILDLY dissmissive, AND runs the comment threads with a heavy hand. Makes eriposte look positively laid back.

~ dj moonbat

iamcoyote said...

Actually, it was paradox who found and foisted Turkana on TLC. I didn't know she was a she, though. Anyhow, Steve had planned a hiatus, but Steve kept putting it off and paradox installed Turkana, a dKos, buddy, to kinda make Soto take a break. I don't think there was a requirement to be pro-HRC, since Dinelli was signed on for that one. I forgive Turk for being in the threads; from what I understand, at dKos, it's bad form not to engage the commentors on your diaries. At TLC, we're not really used to the posters chatting. But to engage Bagley, that's just dum. She's way better when she's not trying to snark on the campaigns. She's a good researcher on environmental and domestic stories.

Seven of Six said...

DJ, I didn't know she was a she either. I know she commented at Kos and communicates with Meteor Blades. She has since stopped posting at Kos because of the negative Hillary treatment. She had her own small blog and continues to post at Docudharma.
I like her 'cause she gives a fair shake to Vets.

Seven of Six said...

I think a or the major qualification was that she be a Hillary supporter.

I know I made a comment in the threads about Cal Pol Junkie being a good counter balance in favor of Obama and a day or two later Steve asked CAPJ to come back as a front pager.

Seven of Six said...

Naw... if I remember right Turkana is male.