For weeks the Establishment press and media has been loudly proclaiming the dangers of US military moves as unduly provocative and edging toward war with an Iran trying innocently to maintain its sovereignty. What sort of war are we talking about here? Most of the main stream media readers, few of whom have any idea about military affairs or warfare in general, immediately would think of the two wars with Iraq: tanks, artillery, divisions maneuvering in the vast deserts of Iran with air power hitting targets all over Iran. Of course given the ideological orientation of the Establishment press, this is the picture of a war with Iran that they would like to portray. They will ruminate about the low intensity warfare capability of Iran but always in the sense of a “war.”
Iran has a feeble land force capability. Its regular army, poorly equipped and trained, offers very little in offensive capability, and in terms of tactical or strategic mobility even less. It has no real capability to cross the Persian Gulf to attack its adversarial Arab neighbors. While some may point to Shi’a dominated Iraq as offering a land bridge through southern Iraq are seriously lacking understanding of the Arab-Persian rivalry going back centuries. The strong Iranian influence of Iran in Iraq, especially southern Iraq, is real but the welcomed presence of Iranian IRGC trainers for Shi’a militia is a far different matter than hordes of Persian troops moving through Iraq to fight fellow Arabs.
After so many years of death and destruction, the last thing the Iraqis want is another divisive struggle in which the Sunni Arabs (and Kurds as well) would violently resist massive Iranian presence in Iraq. Moreover the Jordanian, Syrian. and Turkish regimes would be put on alert, already fearful of the “Shi’a arc.'”
On the other hand, It is difficult to seriously believe the timorous political class of America would venture to become involved in another land war in southwest Asia. Not with “shock and awe” or incrementally. The “Military Intellectuals” who hover around the Washington think tanks and the Pentagon would bring strong influence to bear to desist from such a venture. Their eyes are on Russia and especially China. China with its huge conventional force is a more agreeable and comfortable military to deal with. Being roundly and soundly skewered for “losing” the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the military knowledge class is hoping these low intensity wars, especially in the Middle East go away. The high technology and expansive military force required for conventional war is more amenable to the military leadership. Not that they want these wars, but preparing for them is what military leaders dote on. Recommended reading in this regard, Sean McFate,.Goliath, Why the West Doesn’t Win Wars and What we Need to do about it
So what kind of war are we likely to see? The kind of war Iran has always excelled at; a low intensity, war of disinformation, low intensity attacks, infiltrating elitist groups in the States, influencing the media and press of the United States with their well oiled and funded lobby. Useful fools in Washington, who abound in academia and the media. have shown a rather sickening susceptibility to their messages.
The Iranian mullah leadership, originally created the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ( IRGC) to counter balance the regular army, which the leadership does not trust, but now they have fashioned the IRGC and components of it such as the Al Quds organization into a very effective Low Intensity Conflict( LIC) offensive unit, combining all the elements of hybrid warfare.
They would also use surrogate terrorist groups to carry out plausible deniability attacks, for example using various Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian militia groups, in the pay of the Iranians, to carry out continual pinprick attacks, just enough not to arouse popular American opinion, but enough to induce a “is it worth it” mentality among American public opinion makers. It is the kind of war at which we are woefully unskilled and despite the acclaimed DOD Counterinsurgency manual 3-24, years of fighting COIN wars, and dozens of “military intellectuals” weighing in and writing tomes on counterinsurgency, we are not really much better off. Perhaps, Colonel Harry Summers was right when he told my class the American soldier is culturally incapable of fighting a successful COIN war.
So it would seem that Iran holds all the cards……..But not quite, as they have two major vulnerabilities. One of course is the vast number of people within Iran who are not Persian and would happily undermine it if given a chance.. The Arabs, Baluchis, and a host of others are fifth columns lying in wait for the right opportunity. Unfortunately Americans have never been much good at the type of operations required to stir up sectarian strife.Inevitably the “save the world but trash America” types who infest the media, journalism, and Academia will salve their consciences by exposing the programs.
We went through this in the 70’s with the Church investigations. Recently the State Department ended a program aimed at counteracting the Iranian propaganda the supporters in the U.S. dish out every day on American media. The reason, as similarly in the Church affair, was due to revealing the backgrounds of the more vociferous Washington supporters of the irredentist Iranian regime.
. Secondly, the Iranian regime is vulnerable to economic warfare. They have a population with rising expectations of a higher living standard and are dependent on oil and gas, probably around 80%. Trying to limit their export through sanctions and pleading with “allies” and enemies to shun import of Iranian oil is a non-starter.
In response to the continuation of Iranian “pin prick” attacks we must retaliate, not proportionally, but rather exponentially. and attack their oil exporting infrastructure, refineries, and pipeline pumping stations, port loading facilities. Their ports and terminals must be first to be hit. And in a reprise of the “Tanker wars” of the 80’s we should sink their navy again.We cannot allow ourselves to play the tit for tat game.
Iranian attempts to close down the Hormuz straits must be met with overwhelming force which renders the Iranian regime militarily and economically impotent.
If this seems extreme and we lack the courage to do so at the right time then we should pack up and come home now to avoid any further humiliation We will have given up our role as a world leader ,which would make many here and abroad temporarily giddy with happiness, but the world and its people who strive for a light on the hill would suffer. The last hope for millions is intervention to stop genocide by a world power.
I remember very well the period in the 70’s when our hostages in Iran were undergoing psychological torture and we seemed to be a tiger without teeth., Thugs and tin horn dictators saw an opportunity to kill our diplomats, our soldiers and tourists with seeming impunity, The Russians taunted our airmen and sailors in the air and high seas. Weakness perceived or real, engenders aggression as there will always be the Saddam Hussein’s, Putins, ISIS and al Qaeda thugs to test for weakness and exploit it
Of course there will be complications and blowback, and the media will be there to film it and turn the aggressors into innocent victims …..such as the infamous milk factory in Baghdad. Yes, as there always is, there will be innocent victims and the “Just War” advocates will be on home screens every night exhibiting their erudition. But as any one who has carefully analyzed the Just War concept, strict adherence to the criteria for offensive war gives enemies such as the Iranians clearance to do as they please They do not abide by such rules and have only contempt for those who do. The Iranian military and intelligence operatives are a very intelligent and cunning enemy and totally without any moral or political check on their ambitions.
So as I see it , we do the right thing, or like the Brits in the late 70’s, we retrench and hand the globe over to the Chinese and Russians. They are happy to seize the mantle of leadership. But you won’t see people lining up at the Russian and Chinese consulates for visas.