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2006 April 16 Sunday
Neocons Want To Use Afghan Model In Iran

Been wondering how the neoconservatives intend to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Writing in the neoconservative's biggest platform, The Weekly Standard, retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former assistant vice chief of staff in the USAF, proposes a massive bombing campaign against Iran combined with a covert operation modelled in Afghanistan to overthrow the Iranian regime using non-Persian minority groups in Iran.

The destruction of Iran's military force structure would create the opportunity for regime change as well, since it would eliminate some or all of Ahmadinejad's and the mullahs' ability to control the population. Simultaneously or prior to the attack, a major covert operation could be launched, utilizing Iranian exiles and dissident forces trained during the period of diplomacy. This effort would be based on the Afghan model that led to the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Not only would the overt and covert attacks weaken the ability of Iran's leaders to carry out offensive operations in retaliation, they would cripple the leaders' power to control their own people.

Iran's diverse population should be fertile ground for a covert operation. Iran is only 51 percent Persian. Azerbaijanis and Kurds comprise nearly 35 percent of the population. Seventy percent are under 30, and the jobless rate hovers near 20 percent.

Can this work? Afghanistan was already in a civil war with Mahsood hanging onto a Tajik area in the north and the country had been at war for decades. Plus, the living standards in Afghanistan were much lower and the central government rather simpler in character. Iran seems less amenable to externally funded civil war.

The neocons absolutely have to propose a cheaper and less manpower intensive way to overthrow the Iranian government if they are to have any chance at all of carrying out their next phase. The US military is too small to handle Iraq, let alone Iran which has about 2 hand a half times more people. Iraq has 26.8 million people. Whereas Iran has 68.8 million people.

There are interesting angles here to the idea of using non-Persian ethnics to overthrow Iran's government. Consider:

  • If people of different ethnicities can be expected to have vastly different levels of loyalty useful for overthrow of governments then it follows that the "Invade the world, Invite the world" neocons want to subject the US to an influx of ethnic and racial groups which willl have vastly different kinds of political loyalties.
  • If the US overthrows the Iranian government using non-Persians the inevitable result will be deep distrust by Persians toward non-Persians within the current boundaries of Iran. The split between Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds in Iraq with ethnic cleansing will be a likely outcome of the strategy proposed by McInerney above.
  • Partition of Iran seems a likely result. A merged Kurdistan that carves out pieces of Iran and Iraq becomes plausible.
  • An extended period of insurgency and civil war in Iran also seems a likely result.
  • Iranian oil production will then suffer from disruptions similar to the disruptions we currently see in Iraq. Oil prices will rise. Prices above $100 a barrel seem quite plausible. Global recession could result.

Bush should have made a huge push for increased energy efficiency in the United States before destabilizing multiple big oil producing countries.

Also see at The Weekly Standard other articles on Iran: To Bomb, or Not to Bomb: That is the Iran question by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Unacceptable? Is the America of 2006 more willing to thwart the unacceptable than the France of 1936? by William Kristol. They are laying it on thick.

I've been paying more attention to the immigration debate than to the Bush Administration's preparations for war against Iran. Bad immigration policy is causing more long term damage to America than bad foreign policy. But the war drums are starting to beat louder on Iran and we've got to start paying more attention to it.

William M. Arkin has an article in the Washington Post on war planning against Iran in the Pentagon.

Various scenarios involving Iran's missile force have also been examined in another study, initiated in 2004 and known as BMD-I (ballistic missile defense -- Iran). In this study, the Center for Army Analysis modeled the performance of U.S. and Iranian weapons systems to determine the number of Iranian missiles expected to leak through a coalition defense.

The day-to-day planning for dealing with Iran's missile force falls to the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha. In June 2004, Rumsfeld alerted the command to be prepared to implement CONPLAN 8022, a global strike plan that includes Iran. CONPLAN 8022 calls for bombers and missiles to be able to act within 12 hours of a presidential order. The new task force, sources have told me, mostly worries that if it were called upon to deliver "prompt" global strikes against certain targets in Iran under some emergency circumstances, the president might have to be told that the only option is a nuclear one.

Here's what I wonder: If Bush is going to attack Iran will he do it before, during, or after the fall 2006 elections?

Also, what is your guess? Will Bush attack Iran? If so, will he succeed in overthrowing the Iranian goverment?

Update: In the comments Razib says the Azeris are highly integrated and prominent in the elite. So peeling off the Azeris to find against the Persians looks like a losing strategy.

Also, to repeat myself: Very high oil prices with reductions in production for an extended period would likely follow from a move on Iran. It sure looks to me like the world is peaking in production of conventional oil. A picture is worth a thousand words. So we already have very constrained oil supplies.

For the price of the Iraq war we could fund both a lot of energy research and the retrofitting of all public buildings for greater energy efficiency. For the cost of an attack on Iran (especially when factoring in the resulting oil price rise) we could build hundreds or thousands of nuclear reactors and insulate lots of houses.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 16 09:15 PM  MidEast Iran


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at April 16, 2006 9:52 PM:

According to various articles, just before Bush attacked Iraq in 2003, the Russian undercover commandos were instrumental in transferring Mr. Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to other countries such as Syria and Lebanon. This made Bush look incompetent.

Right now, the popularity of Bush is rather low, and if things do not improve for Bush before the new presidential elections in 2008 (I mean if his popularity does not increase dramatically before the elections), then the Democrats will probably win in 2008. This is something the oil companies will not like, because even though the Democrats are also very corrupt and equally incompetent, the Democrats are more likely to launch an energy independence crusade (exotic batteries, coal to gasoline, advanced photovoltaic cells, new generation nuclear reactors like the molten salt reactor, etc) than the Republicans who are more influenced by the oil lobby. It is thus in the interest of the oil companies to do whatever it takes for the Republicans to win the elections in 2008.

So according to this calculus, Bush will have several alternatives before 2008. If the stock market does not go down and the unemployment situation keeps improving, it is very possible that he will be forgiven for the Iraq debacle if he starts evacuating Iraq, and so the Republicans can win the elections in 2008. But if, on the other hand, the economy enters a new recession after 2007, then the Republicans will lose the elections for sure. This is because there is a statistical correlation between the state of the financial markets and the economy, and the popularity of the incumbent party. Consider the impeachment of Clinton when both the economy and the stock market were improving, and so he was forgiven despite the scandal. But if the economy and/or the stock market are in bad shape before the 2008 elections, it is possible that the Republicans will favor a new war to boost their popularity.

John S Bolton said at April 16, 2006 10:40 PM:

I think that Iran will be attacked, if for no other reason than because it makes the Iraq offensive look more sensible, planful and preparatory. Iran is a great target for a war on terrorist nations; or are they saying that the real target is extremist individuals? If so, at least we have assurance that 'we don't have to fight them here'. If Iran is unveiled as the real target, Iraq can become a source of troops; and Iraqis can be allowed to fight each other for power, ethnic cleansing and a favorable partition. Oil fields can be secured, and when you have this large a share of world production under occupation, it becomes harder to say that no national interest of great magnitude is involved.

gcochran said at April 16, 2006 11:00 PM:


Iraqi WMD is getting more and more like the Seven Cities of Cibola. We spent almost a billion dollars investigating the story in Iraq: we know that that was no nuclear program and that lesser stuff hsa all been destroyed years ago. if the Administration had evidence of anything else, they'd say so - either that, or Bush _enjoys_ having the public think he's a liar and fool.

We haven't managed to secure oil fields and pipelines in Iraq. Exports are below pre-invasion levels and dropping. Have you noticed?? Do you think it'd get easier if we had to secure fields and pipeliens in both Iraq and Iran?

Wolf-Dog said at April 16, 2006 11:27 PM:

Another consideration is that the oil reserves of Iran will start running out by 2020. This means that Iran will be powerless after 2025, unless Iran becomes militarily superior and creates an empire in the region. Iran has no choice but to become more aggressive because otherwise it will collapse after 2025. But if Iran can be prevented from building more than a few dozen small nukes before 2025, then Iran will not be dangerous enough or powerful enough to choose the imperial solution, and in this case it will be said that "Iran was contained." But if, on the other hand, Iran manages to build 500 hydrogen bombs by 2025, then Iran will be powerful enough to bargain for imperial expansion. Basically, perhaps Bush just wants to create enough difficulty for Iran to accumulate too much military power before Iran runs out of oil.

John S Bolton said at April 17, 2006 12:22 AM:

Iran has more offshore, which is much easier to secure with no good moslems around; while Iraqi fields are inland.

Rollory said at April 17, 2006 6:56 AM:

I expect there will be an attack before the elections, and it will not (in the short term, anyway) remove the Iranian government. Not the best result, but better than letting them have nukes without objection.

I'm not sure how big a downside cutting off Iranian oil is. It makes oil more expensive on the world market, making exploitation of alternative oil sources (shales etc) more likely, as well as pushing people back toward nuclear (I am seeing growing rumblings on the environmentalist side of things that nuclear is a feasible path away from fossil fuels). Gas goes up in the short term but in the long term it might help push things in the right direction.

Ned said at April 17, 2006 8:34 AM:

Dick Morris has a perceptive article on Bush as the Republican Jimmy Carter. Sad but true.(http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/62512.htm).

I have no idea if Bush is really going to attack Iran, but if he does, oil is sure to go over $100 per barrel. The shock to the world economy will probably be severe enough to cause a fairly nasty recession. Yes, the high price will spur searches for alternative fuels, but none of them will be readily available. Ethanol and methanol are probably the best short-term alternatives, but it would take years to ramp up production to replace the imported oil we now use. Same for oil sands/shale. Abundant new oil exists in Alaska and offshore, but, even if we started today, it would take at least a decade before the fuels appeared. Refineries and new nuclear power plants also take a decade or so to build because of all the environmental regulations. Eventually something will come along to replace fossil fuel (hydrogen? fuel cells? new batteries?), but that's probably several decades down the line.

razib said at April 17, 2006 10:42 AM:

Can this work?

re: ethnic divisions, thinking that azeris will revolt because of "oppression" with the persian majority is idiotic. turkic speakers are well represented in the elite, and especially the military. ayatollah khamenei is from an azeri family which settled in eastern iran, president khatami had azeri ancestry, in the 19th century the iranian royal dynasty was turkic in origin, etc. etc. there are more azeris in iran than in azerbaijan, and they do not seem inclined to join their co-ethnics to the north, they are fully integrated and well represented in iranian national culture.

anyway, i rambled a bit, but i wanted to make it clear that it is idiotic to think tha we can use ethnic divisions re: the azeris. the kurds might work because they are the only semi-numerous sunni group in iran aside from the balouch, but they aren't nearly as numerous as in iraq.

Jorge D.C. said at April 17, 2006 6:16 PM:

Writing in the neoconservative's biggest platform...

Yes and the platform is completely a topdown operation from the wallet of Israel's greatest booster Rupert Murdoch. It's the opposite of Vdare.com which is nothing but grassroots.

The Weekly Standard is essentially a mouthpiece for AIPAC. The article is credited to Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney - but you can be sure it was requisitioned and edited for content by William Kristol.

They are laying it on thick.

Diaspora Jewish conservatism ie neoconservatism is all about conserving the state of Israel. The neocon network from Drudge to Super Zionist Murdoch is trying to work the masses into a frenzy.

Kristol derides those who would secure the US borders as "yahoos". The only borders he gives a damn about are Israel's.

The Weekly Standard cover with the photo of Uncle Sam scratching his chin and holding a bomb is missing the marionette strings.

The Iran Plan is another war for Israel. Let them fight it.

Jorge D.C. said at April 17, 2006 6:35 PM:

If people of different ethnicities can be expected to have vastly different levels of loyalty useful for overthrow of governments to a national government then it follows that the "Invade the world, Invite the world" neocons to want to subject the US to an influx of ethnic and racial groups which willl have vastly different kinds of political loyalties.

Yes, that is the most interesting part. Open Border advocate William Kristol and his Weekly Standard are going on the record saying that societies without a dominant majority are inherently unstable - and at the same time they are working feverishly to preserve the Open Borders that will make the USA a nation without a dominant majority.

This would seem to plainly demonstrate intellectual incoherence. But it all makes sense if your concern is "Is it good for the Jews?"

If any readers have got a problem with what I've said then please - instead of name calling - make the argument that Willam Kristol is an American patriot working in our national interest.

Wolf-Dog said at April 17, 2006 6:37 PM:

I was under the impression that the oil company people that have some influence in the government, do have something to gain from this policy against Iran, it is not just the Jewish interests of preserving Israel. If Vatican were in danger of being wiped out by an extremist group, then probably all the Catholics would also put pressure on the government to defend the little city state in Italy.

gcochran said at April 17, 2006 7:25 PM:


Yeah, that's what I hear too. Iran just isn't that ethnically fragile: the Persians and Azeris together account for 75% of the population.

Jorge D.C. said at April 17, 2006 7:47 PM:

If Vatican were in danger of being wiped out by an extremist group...

If the Vatican were on the receiving end of the same amount of military aid provided Israel by the USA over that past decades then the Vatican would not be "in danger of being wiped out" by anyone.

Israel is not "in danger of being wiped out". You are drinking the koolaid and being played like a fiddle.

And by the way, next time webmaster posts a thread on the oil industry's influence on US foreign policy - I'll wait for you to remind the readers that the Israeli Lobby has "some influence in the government" also. Because even when a thread is about a specific lobbying group, we must never forget the big picture.

Jorge D.C. said at April 17, 2006 7:58 PM:

Unacceptable? Is the America of 2006 more willing to thwart the unacceptable than the France of 1936?

Yes this Kristol column headline is really provocative. I clicked on the link and was hoping to read a strong condemnation of La Raza and the growing danger of La Reconquista by brown nazis in the American southwest.

Oh well maybe next time.

Wolf-Dog said at April 17, 2006 8:02 PM:

Ok, but it still appears that you claim that the influence of Israel is greater than the influence of the oil companies, and this is what I disagree.

Also, the military balance of power involves not only the present picture, but also the future picture in 20 years. What many people are saying is that although Iran is currently weak, if it manages to build 500 hydrogen bombs in the year 2025, then the equations will change. Then the Vatican I am talking about will indeed be in danger of being conquered, and with good reason, since the Muslims hate the crusaders a lot more than the Israelis.

Ned said at April 18, 2006 9:08 AM:

Good article by the very well connected Richard Holbrooke on an impending "revolt of the generals" against the failing US policy in Iraq and its chief sponsor, Donald Rumsfeld. Read the whole thing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/14/AR2006041401451.html).

Bob Badour said at April 18, 2006 5:25 PM:

Wolf-Dog,

Your protestations come off sounding like: "Ignore the small man behind the curtain" to me. The neocons seem to have at least as much if not greater influence over the current regime than big oil. Even if one has greater influence than the other, the difference in influence is relatively small.

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