Monday, August 14, 2006

Lebanon was practice for Iran

Seymour Hersh is reporting that the Bush Administration encouraged Israel to strike out against Lebanon as a way to put into practice US Air Force theories about the best way to attack Iranian bunkers and infrastructure.

Hersch writes:
The Bush Administration...was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground....

“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? ... the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” ...

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”|New Yorker|(emphasis added)

The entire article is worth reading, but this explanation makes Bush's whole low-key demeanor and opposition to a cease-fire intelligible. He didn't want the experiment to end early.

Marc Champion and Guy Chazan report that the US has lost face in the Middle East because of its unwillingness to step in when Israel started dismantling Lebanon.
"The way the U.S. has handled this so far, in failing to seize a moment a few weeks ago when a cease-fire might have been managed, has actually united Shia and Sunni sentiment in the streets against the U.S.," said Steven Simon, a former U.S. National Security Council official and now senior analyst at the Rand Corp. in Washington. By uniting Muslim opinion against it as never before, the U.S. has become less effective in the region, he said. |WSJ| (sub'n req'd)

Hopefully this will make the Administration think more strategically about the fallout from military action against Iran. The difficulties of invading Iran are obvious even to a hard-boiled neo-con like Richard Armitage: “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. |New Yorker|

Juan Cole suggests that US and British forces in Iraq would come under fierce attack and could be overrun in the event of attacks against Iran.
Any US attack on Iran could well lead to the US and British troops in Iraq being cut off from fuel and massacred by enraged Shiites. Shiite irregulars could easily engage in pipeline and fuel convoy sabotage of the sort deployed by the Sunni guerrillas in the north. Without fuel, US troops would be sitting ducks for rocket and mortar attacks that US air power could not hope completely to stop (as the experience of Israel with Hizbullah in Lebanon demonstrates). A pan-Islamic alliance of furious Shiites and Sunni guerrillas might well be the result, spelling the decisive end of Americastan in Iraq. Shiite Iraqis are already at the boiling point over Israel's assault on their coreligionists in Lebanon. An attack on Iran could well push them over the edge. People like Cheney and Bush don't understand people's movements or how they can win. They don't understand the Islamic revolution in Iran of 1978-79. They don't understand that they are playing George III in the eyes of most Middle Eastern Muslims, and that lots of people want to play George Washington. |Informed Comment| (emphasis in original)
One of my former roommates had a degree in Middle Eastern history and once explained to me that the reason Persia lasted so long was that it was mountainous and was very difficult to attack using ground forces. Looking at an atlas showing topography, his analysis is quickly borne out.

I'm not thrilled about Iran or North Korea having the bomb, but I'm also not convinced that military force is the best (or only) answer.

1 comment:

gkn said...

Good analysis....this is dumb that we didn't think Israel-Hezbollah conflict through. But then W is a dumbass anyways. I am worried about America becoming weaker every year this administration stays in power.