Friday, September 07, 2007

War with Iran? Relax

To read many of the Washington pundits these days you would think that a massive attack on Iran is imminent. The White House, it is said, is in the middle of laying the PR groundwork for an attack that has already been decided. I don’t believe it.

When I was in air force intelligence years ago, I learned an axiom that I think is valid today: no country goes to war from a standing start. In other words there are many tell-tale signs of preparation that are hard to conceal.

I remember spending a cold couple weeks at Osan AFB, South Korea, back in the late 1960s because the North Korean Air Force decided to stop flying. This is known as a “stand down” and is one indicator of a pending attack (the idea is that if you’re planning an attack you want your force to be 100 percent operational.)

In the lead up to both the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the signs of a pending attack were obvious. And while the battle plan may have been a secret, there was no effort to conceal the buildup. The same could have been said of the 1944 Normandy invasion.

Strategic bombers of the US Air Force moved to the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, in striking distance of Iraq. Four aircraft carriers moved into position in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, tanks were loaded on railroad cars and trucked to German ports for shipment to Saudi Arabia.

When the US moved armored divisions from Europe to Saudi Arabia, it was clear that Washington was not just planning defensive moves but would push the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Much the same can be said of the lead up to the Iraq invasion too.

But is there anything close to this happening now? I suppose we could all be surprised to wake up and learn that a couple submarines have popped up in the Persian Gulf and let loose a few cruise missiles at some Iranian targets, perhaps accompanied by some air strikes.

But from what I read, the Bush administration has something much more elaborate in mind. The Times of London reports that the US envisions a heavy bombing campaign against more than 1,000 targets in Iran.

If this is the case, there must be some evidence of preparation. The US Navy has a dozen aircraft carriers. Where are they? (Hint: two are in the Bay of Bengal exercising with the Indian Navy!) One would think that a campaign of this magnitude would require at least four to six carriers positioned within striking distance.

Have any leaves been cancelled? Have orders gone out to replenish stocks of precision bombs depleted through four years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are any strategic bombers being moved closer to Iran? Are any minesweepers being deployed to keep Persian Gulf sealanes clear?

Would we seriously contemplate war with Iran with our own troops heavily concentrated in central Iraq with virtually nothing between them and their supply base in Kuwait but 5,000 British troops hunkered down in Basra Airport?

The answers to such questions would not be found in Washington. They would be found in places like Tacoma, Wash., Johnson County, Missouri, Jacksonville, Fla. Fort Cambell, Ky. Just to name a few. How many of the pundits so confident that war is about to have nosed around those places?

The answer would undoubtedly be not many. But I’d bet that Iranian intelligence services are keeping close watch on such places. And they message they may be sending back to Tehran is this: relax.


Post a Comment

<< Home