What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Iran Question

There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments here in the US over the election in Iran. People on all sides of the issues have gotten themselves in a titter.

There are people dead on the ground over it. Much of the crackdown is happening behind the wall of secrecy the Supreme Leader has tried to draw down. President Wacky-eyes has trotted out the usual suspects for Iranian persecution, the West, the US, the media.

The conservatives in this country (who, strangely enough also blame the West, the US, and the media) are using this issue as an attack on our President. It's an excuse to point and say, "Not one of us," all because the current president has a brain and knows if he comes out with a strong message in support of the opposition (which, as Stephen Colbert so rightly said, doesn't outright hate us, just really, really, really doesn't like us) more people will die and the forces of oppression will win another political coup of saying the US was all behind the troubles. It's just another reminder that the conservatives 1) do not play well with others, and 2) are willing for others to die in support of their causes.

Because of the mismanagement and over-stretching of the previous administration, including the breaking of the economy and straddling the government with a debt burden previously unimaginable (both of which then forced us to add to that debt burden to fix the problems inherent in their philosophy) the US is not in the position to offer aid and support to a revolution in Iran.

Or do I need to remind anybody that war is economy and we already have two wars going on, an increasing belligerent N. Korea which is suffering from a convergence of a military that believes nuclear weapons are the solution they've been looking for and a dying leader who will mask his failures (of politics and body) by going on the offensive, and a resurgent Russia that has pretensions and a seriously longing for the easy days of the Soviet Union.

There are things we can do, however. We can keep focused on the issue, we can help the opposition get their message out, we can keep the Revolutionary Guard from focusing internally by exploiting their over reaching across the middle east, we can make sure that the current leadership of Iran doesn't gain a measure of credibility for cracking down on the opposition by inserting ourselves overtly and loudly in the argument.

The ones shouting loudly that the president should shout loudly like them are the ones who believed the nuclear option to end Iran's nuclear program is a viable plan. It isn't. To breach the hardened, buried facilities would require two direct strikes by some of our most powerful warheads. There are (IIRC) three facilities. That's at least six warheads from two ICBMs. And Iran owes lots of money to Russia and China for those facilities. They might not be so happy that we destroyed their investment. While the Iranian air force and special forces are laughable, their tanks forces aren't and they have more up to date equipment than the Iraqi's, because they weren't stunted in their growth by a decade of an arms embargo. They aren't demoralized and haven't had their officer corps decimated by purges. They aren't a match for us, but we don't really have the troops to spare.

Also, for Israel to strike for us, using two of their three devices, they would have to fly over Iraq, which would put us in a difficult situation.

So, to engage in empty saber rattling would merely bee a pissing contest with people using rifles. It may make us feel manlier, but it'll kill people on the ground and give the government currently grasping at the straws of power some legitimacy in their attempted crack down. Or, in other words, it would only make us feel big and strong and do nothing to actually help us towards our goals. It's an empty act of machismo.


Todd Wheeler said...

Iran has over the decades seemed to be a diplomatic puzzle that no one can solve, neither Democrat or Republican.

The Iranian government is repressive, yet open in ways that some of our 'friends' (e.g. Saudi Arabia, UAE) are not. The government seems to want respect from the West, particularly the U.S., yet somehow the opportunities are missed or fail.

Bombs and troops won't work. Diplomacy isn't working, at least from the U.S. What are the chances Russia and China can provide pressure to move the situation in a positive direction?

Nathan said...

Whether or not the opposition in Iran is our enemy is open to question. OTOH, there's not much question that they don't rise to the level of being our friend.

Platitudes about "supporting democracy" are the limit of what we should be doing in Iran, at least overtly. I have no doubt whatsoever that there is action taking place behind the scenes.

Steve Buchheit said...

Todd, yep, it's a conundrum. The Persia Question is nearly as old as the "Never get involved in a land war in Asia (Afghanistan)." We did have Russia making overtures (of providing the nuclear fuel, so that the Iranians didn't develop the technology themselves). We didn't support that idea, and neither did the Iranians. China is nearly inscrutable in their desires here.

Nathan, oh yeah, I expect there's plenty going on behind the scenes.