Friday, February 03, 2006

Iran between steel jaws of a trap?

I found this very interesting, albeit disturbing article in Asia Times Online through Lucianne. The article is titled Iran and the jaws of a trap. It was written by a Paul Levian who is identified as a former German intelligence officer. Interestingly, a Google search for Paul Levian turns up exactly zip, zilch, nada. A search of Google News turns up the same article, but this time on a UK news site called, subscription 2.95 pounds Sterling per month. Hmmm.

Mr. Levian, whomever he might be, is of the opinion that the United States
has not only handled its Iran dossier much more skillfully than Iraq, but also managed to set up Iran for a war it can neither win nor fight to a draw.
He says that the Iranians are in for a shock.
If the Iranian leaders think they can deter an attack because the US is bogged down in Iraq they are already between the jaws of a well-set trap. Though a Western war against Iran will be a big geopolitical defeat for Russia and China, they cannot but resign themselves to this outcome if they are unable to convince the Iranians to accept the Russian proposal - ie uranium enrichment in Russia.
Levian believes that China and Russia have been forced by the US, UK and France to bail out on their support for Iran. If Iran refuses to allow the enrichment of uranium in Russia, then Levian says we're on.

Levian claims that Iran is basing its intransigence and belligerence on four fallacies.
1. Iran is much stronger militarily than was Iraq, a much larger state, much tougher terrain and much more difficult to attack, defeat, occupy and pacify.
2. Iran is counting on the threat of world-wide condemnation of any attack to forestall just such an attack.
3. The interruption of the flow of Iranian oil would be devastating to the world's economy.
4. The US and UK forces are too busy in Iraq to constitute a threat to the Mullahs.

Levian then sets about to debunk all 4 of the Iranian misconceptions.
1. The US has no intention of occupying and pacifying Iran as it is trying to do in Iraq (more on that later).
2. With all of the big 5 (US, UK, France, Russia, China) on board, who cares about world-wide condemnation?
3. The attacking coalition would go right for the oil fields. Any interruption is assumed to be minimal.
4. The US and UK forces can be quickly re-deployed, especially under the cover of the first few days of an allied air assault. Levian doesn't say so, but he seems to hint that this has been planned for a long time. Also, Levian claims that the US has more than adequate forces already in position along the Iran/Iraq border to contain the expected initial surge of Iranian forces. Levian adds, almost as an afterthought, that any widespread uprising against US and UK forces in Iraq would be viewed as a nuisance and would simply be met with overwhelming firepower.

Levian says that, based on Russian and Chinese war games, this is how the Iran war will go.
An initial Israeli air attack against some Iranian nuclear targets, command and control targets and Shahab missile sites. Iran retaliates with its remaining missiles, tries to close the Gulf, attacks US naval assets and American and British forces in Iraq. If Iranian missiles have chemical warheads (in fact or presumed), the US will immediately use nuclear weapons to destroy the Iranian military and industrial infrastructure. If not, an air campaign of up to two weeks will prepare the ground campaign for the occupation of the Iranian oil and gas fields.
And Israel will use the opportunity to deal with Syria and South Lebanon, and possibly with its Palestinian problem.
That should be a bit disconcerting to Hamas, Hezbollah and Assad. Then Levian makes a somewhat astonishing statement and one that's a bit chilling, too.
The character of this war will be completely different from the Iraq war. No show-casing of democracy, no "nation-building", no journalists, no Red Cross - but the kind of war the United States would have fought in North Vietnam if it had not had to reckon with the Soviet Union and China.
In other words, a real "shock and awe" war, reminiscent of the first Gulf War.

Well, I don't know what to think about all this. It would help if some background on Paul Levian were available. I can't find anything. That makes it impossible to determine if he has any idea what he is talking about. There is no doubt that we are planning a military strike on Iran. That's not news. We constantly plan and re-plan military strikes on everybody, even Canada and Massachusetts. That's what planners do. It's their job to make us as ready as we can possibly be to strike anywhere at anytime against anybody.

But are we truly prepared to strike at Iran? I dunno. It would probably be a lot easier job if the Iranians did, in fact, lash out with chemical weapons. Levian says the US would then retaliate with nuclear weapons. End of war. Wow! I just don't like the sound of that at all. I don't even like the thought of it. I can, however, imagine President Bush issuing the orders and giving assurances to his military commanders as well as those of the UK and Israel that he would use nuclear weapons in such a scenario. If we have learned anything about George Bush, he doesn't back down. If Iran hit us or UK forces or Israel with chemical weapons, Bush would not cancel his previously issued orders. We'd strike.

The nuclear weapons we would use would be nothing like those used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those were strategic nuclear weapons, designed and used to kill as many people as possible. Our strategic nuclear arsenal still exists but it exists for the doomsday scenario, or the "mutually assured destruction" strategy. That is aimed primarily at the Russians and the Chinese. The nuclear weapons that we would use against Iran would be tactical nuclear weapons. They are designed and would be used only against military and possibly manufacturing infrastructure. Still, hundreds of thousands of Iranian troops and people would die.

C'mon diplomacy. I just became a big cheerleader for Chinese and Russian diplomats.

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