Monday, December 26, 2011

Iran's War Games: 'An Important Message..Especially To The Colonialist Powers'

The Iranian navy is in the process of staging Velayat 90, a ten day military 'exercise' covering an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden,the entrance to the Indian Ocean.

The regime's official PRESS-TV quotes member of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Zohreh Elahian as saying: “The [Iranian] Navy's military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman indicate the power and dominance of Iran's Navy in regional waters. The exercises send an important message to the whole world, especially the colonialist powers…and also show the power of [Iran's] armed forces, particularly [the country's] Navy.”

Elahian also added that 'foreign media' have admitted that Iran and its Navy are so powerful that if threatened, the country can take control of the Strait of Hormuz as the global economic and energy conduit.

The last one, of course, is the kicker and the real purpose of this display.

In an actual brawl with, say, the US Navy, Iran's navy would find itself overpowered in a hurry. Their line ships consist of three destroyers over 50 years old and a mere handful of light frigates and corvettes. Some of these ships date from the 1970's but sport more modern anti-ship missiles like Chinese C-802's, most of which date from the mid-1990's. They also have two of what they call 'missile boats', essentially large patrol boats with extra missile launchers.They're both Iranian built, with all that implies.

The main emphasis of Iran's navy is submarines and patrol boats designed for coastal defense.The best of the subs are 3 Russian SSK Kilo class, with most of the rest being mini-subs or 'midget' class, like the Tareq and Qadir types mentioned in the PRESS TV article.Again, except for the SSK's, most of them are Iranian manufactured.

None of them would hold up for very long against a carrier group, especially since Iran's air force is, shall we say, marginal.

That's exactly why the second part of Zohreh Elahian's official statement is the important one.

The main mission of Iran's navy in the event of hostilities with be to lay mines and otherwise obstruct the Persian Gulf oil flow through the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway only thirty four miles (54 kilometers) at its narrowest point.

Nearly 25% of the world's oil supply flows through the Strait on a daily basis,and since the Strait, like most of the Persian Gulf is essentially a shallow basin, the actual shipping area consists of two 2-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile wide buffer zone.

What the Iranians are actually doing here is sending a message to President Barack Obama, as well as to the new Shi'ite government of Iran and other Arab governments in the Gulf.

Iran undoubtedly has its suspicions that President Obama might just try to pull off an October Surprise in 2012 to bolster his re-election campaign by attacking Iran. They also want him and surrogates like Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton to keep the Israelis from taking out Iran's nuclear sites. The current naval exercises and accompanying threats are Iran's way of reminding President Obama that such an attack might just result in blocking the Strait and a spike in oil prices that would damage the American economy. The fact that Iran would also suffer, since its oil resources sit on the Gulf is secondary, and they're hoping that a threat to a weak and ineffectual president is going to be enough to buy time. Once Iran has nuclear weapons, they figure they'll be as untouchable as North Korea.

The other message being sent is to Iraq and the other Arab Gulf states. Simply put. it reads: "The Americans are leaving with their tails between their legs, and they won't protect you.We're the new power in the region, we can bankrupt you at our whim and you'd be unwise not acknowledge that and behave accordingly."

I'm reminded of how President Reagan acted to similar Iranian provocation back in the 1980's, but then he was a very different president.

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UCSPanther said...

I wager that if the Iranian Navy tangles with the US or Israeli navy, they will be sleeping with the fishes in a hurry. Their bluster somewhat reminds me of the propaganda that North Korea spews, and they would just as weak in a stand-up slugfest.

The only concern will be clearing the mines.

B.Poster said...

"The only concern will be clearing the mines." Actually that's not true. The biggest problem we would have to worry about would be an Iranian attack on the US mainland. That could be carried out by Iranian proxies or Iranian forces likely already in the country. Thousands and possibly millions of Americans could die in this attack.

We are in no way prepared to handle this. At least in Israel they distibute gas masks to their citizens and train them in how to use these things. We don't even have basic training programs like this, let alone something like nuclear fall out shelters.

Another problem that is perhaps bigger than clearing the mines is Russia and China are likely to intervene. Talking head pundits generally assume that Russia and China are opposed to US actions because they are big trading partners wtih Iran and don't want their trade jepordized.

While this could be a factor in their decision making, what if it does not explain their actions? What if this is ideological in nature? Russia lost the Cold War to America. Unfortunately American leaders failed to complete the job and now Russia is back. They feel they have a score to settle with us.

Perhaps I'm wrong. At the very least, policy makers should consider something less simple than trade relations being behind the Russian and Chinese actions. To do so would mean asking some unpleasant questions and would likely mean having to take actions that are not very pleasent in order to deal with this problem.

Also, when Iran says "death to America" we should take the Iranians at their word. They really do intend to carry genocide against us. We should act accordingly. We have the right to defend our nation and our people and we should asser that right.

That does not neccesarily mean attack Iran but it does mean basic defense steps should be taken. Minimizing the threat, as the media does, and working tirleessly to undercut any military option, as the media does, is NOT HELPFUL.

American defense and intellegence officials tend to present a Pollyannish view of the threats that our country faces. Time permitting I will post on why I think this is so.

Tantric Logic said...

C'mon!The chances of an Iranian attack on the US mainland at this time are nil.This is just sloppy thinking on your part.

Iran has no ballistic missiles capable of reaching America, no air force worth mentioning and no midair refueling tankers.In a war with us they'd be halal toast.Kaboom!

Russia and China are not going to go to war with America over Iran. You think they want to get into a nuclear war over Iran? Where do you get this stuff from?

Especially Russia, who can produce its own oil.Among other things, both Russia and China have major internal problems to deal with, and neither one especially trusts the other.

You also seem to be all over the map - in the beginning of your post, you're saying that attacking Iran is too dangerous because they could attack America, at the end, you're saying we should!

Which is it? Hmmm?

B.Poster said...

"This is just sloppy thinking on your part." Actually it really isn't. Part of the failure to detect and preven the attacks of 911 was due to a failure to think creatively, as the 911 commission pointed out. Essentially a failure to think outside the box. A few dozen Iranian special forces or less or perhaps other Islamic terrorists working on behalf of Iran could do serious damage to the US. Poison gas could be used, suitcase nuclear weapons could be used, some type of "dirty bomb", or other types of chemical or biological weapons could be used.

If the 911 attacks had been conducted with WMD. the results would have been far worse. An Iranian attack could make the 911 attacks seem like mere child's play. To dismiss such things is where "sloppy thinking" comes in.

Given America's lax border secure and f'ed up immigration policies, the types of weapons you mention really aren't needed. To assume they are is yet another example of the kind of sloppy thinking you accuse me of.

Much interesting information can be found regarding the Russian and Chinese at Suffice it to say the alleged differences between Russia and China may be a ruse designed to get us to lower our guard. Serious policy analyists would do well to consider this possibility. Unfortunately such things are generally dismissed out of hand. Essentially you want to keep your high paying job along with the fat pension you best not rock the boat!! So people are told.

While Russia and China do have major internal issues they will need to work out, the issues faced by America are far more severe than what either of those countries face. In fact, the leaders of Russia and China wake up every day thinking what ever God they believe in that the problems their nations face are no where near as severe as what America faces.

I don't think any nation really "trusts" another. At least they shouldn't. There are no permanent alliances just permanent itnerests.

I'm not saying don't attack Iran. If necessary, this should be an option to be considered. All I'm saying is understand the risks and what it will entail. Given our current policies and the ones we have pursued for a number of years, an Iranian attack on America of some type is a virtual certainty. This is what policy makers need to be worrying about not breathlessly doing all they can to undercut a US military option against Iran.

Our best approach here would be to get out of Israel's way and allow them to deal with this. They are in a much better position to do it than we are. In fact, had we gotten out of their way years ago Israel likely would have handled this a long time ago befor the problem got as big as it is now.

Finally, the tendency of US strategic decision makers to overestimate their own capabilities while underestimating the capabilities of adversaries and potential adversaries is a structural one. It does not lend itself to easy explanation in a blog post. It has to do with the desire to get along with the boss in a team environment. Essentially no one wants to defy the boss and they don't want to make the boss look bad. This is bad for career advancement. In the private sector, the need to make a profit holds this tendency in check. Within the government there is no such check. Furthermore big business likes stability. This further leads to an attitude of "nothing to see here. Move along."

Tantric Logic said...

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to transport poison gas secretly? Especially in quantities you'd need?And what about those suitcase nukes Poster? Got any evidence the Iranians have them?

As for differences between Russia and China, read a little history for crissakes. The Russians took land from China and they've actually come to shooting a few times. Russia also is worried about the fact that a lot of its Siberian population's Asian and they don't know which way they'd go. The relationship is dicey.

Aside from that, Russia would love it if we took out Iran, they'd get higher prices for their oil and gas. And China isn't going to kiss off $800 billion and nuke it's biggest customer.

I also love the way you're trying to walk back your confused statements on taking out Iran,but I will let you slide on that one.

B.Poster said...

Yes I know how difficult it is to transport poison gas. While difficult, its not likely to be insurmountable. Some of that difficulty could probably be overcome by having their people already in America make the stuff.

As for suitcase nukes, it is well known or at least was well known that some of Russia's are missing. The safe assumptions are that an enemy has them or can get them. Also, Russia has the best intellegence services in the world. As such, it is not credible that Russia is just going to lose them. Even if Iran does not have them they have access to some of the world's top experties and could very likely manufacture their own, if they have not already.

I'm aware of the history betwen Russia and China. In fact, there's a good chance they'll fight again some day. Right now they have a common enemy in America and that's where the focus likely is. Enemies and alliances between the tribes of earth are never permanent only interests are.

Now if we could exploit those differences and drive a wedge between them that would be nice, however, I would not adivse such a thing because it risks war with Russia. Our best approach for our national security interests is and remains a redeployment to defensible positions along our borders.

I think you may be on to something about Russia loving it if we take out Iran. Whether we do or don't they win!! Oil prices go up and they get to further modernize their military so they can come after us even harder. This alone should convince policy makers that our foreign policy needs to be significantly changed.

Its true the loss of trade with US would harm China, however, it would hurt America worse to lose access to Chinese manufactured goods. The audden loss of this arrangement would be like a broken neck for Aemrica and a broken leg for China. One can recover from a broken leg. One does not readily recover from a broken neck!!

It would be prudent for us to wean ourselves off of chinese imports, however, a sudden attempt to do so would be devastating to us. With the proper investments in infrastructure and a more favorable regulatory environment this could be done in about 10 years. Perhaps in about 5 years of the proper investments in this we could have some leverage against China.

I think I've always been consistent on Iran. We should have a military option. Unfortunately we don't really have a very good one right now. The chances of being able to launch a successful military attack against Iran if you consider success delaying the nuclear program 2 years is, at best, 50% and probably much less. The chances of us being able to completely eliminate the program are less than 1%.

Israel has the technical savy and their pilots have the skills to be able to pull off a mission to eliminate Iran's nuclear program. Our best approach is to get out of their way and stop interfering. In the unlikely event that the Israelis fail, by redeploying to defensible positions we would have a fighting chance to defend our country.

Hibrn yhsy Iran may be about to shut down the strait of Hormuz, it would be nice to have a good military option. On the positive side, such a move by Iran may result in us FINALLY being able to get the kind of international support we'd need to confront Iran in a meaningful way.

Tantric Logic said...

Ok Poster..

"As for suitcase nukes, it is well known or at least was well known that some of Russia's are missing." Proof of that, Poster? And proof Iran has 'em?

As for Russia and China, I gave you two good reasons why they wouldn't go to war with us over Iran. Your lack of response shows me you got nuthin' there. You think China would have no probs recovering from massive unemployment, famine and social unrest if they couldn't export to America and lost the $800 billion they loaned us? Dream on.We can feed ourselves, They can't.

BTW, how do you know we couldn't knockout Iran's nuclear program? Proof,Poster? Facts and figures? I think we could turn Iran into an ash tray if we wanted to.And we could do it with a couple of nuclear subs. And maybe a flight of B-1's.Heck, if we blew up their oil fields, the whole country would have live off what they make selling rugs, their women and pistachio nuts

Instead, you want us to run and hide behind our borders. I smell the stink of a Ron Paul groupie.

B.Poster said...

The missing suitcase nukes were reported shortly after the 911 attacks. Granted it did not get much coverage in the meida. As such, its not surprising that alot of people don't know about it.

At a minimum, more of an effort should be made to find out what happened to them. A safe assumption would be they are in the hands of enemies. Even if Iran does not have them, they have access to the kind of expertise needed to make them and it is likely they already have. We should prepare for the worst. Given Iran's desire to acquire such things and given the desire of many to supply Iran with such things, its highly likely Iran has them or can get them quickly. Unfortnately given the sorry state of America's intellegence services I'm not sure any thing can be prven defintively. I think prudence would be to require policy makers to prove they don't them.

I rhink I addressed your reasons given, however, I'll try again. In the case of China, we need their manufactured goods more than they need to sell them to us. To suddenly lose access to these would be the economic equivelent of a broken neck for America. To lose access to the American market would be the economic equivelent of a broken leg foo China.

Recovery from a broken leg is much less problematic than recovery from a broken neck is. Depending on China's calculations they might be willing to risk it. In any event, its more costly for us than for them. China would be able to transition to other markets even without America. The sudden loss of that market may be a bit rougher than they'd like but its not a serious problem for them. As for food, they can likely make up any thing they get from us from other sources. Again, perhaps a bit rougher than they'd like but not something they can't readily handle.

As for us, we should be working to wean ourselves off of Chinese imports but a sudden loss of these items is something we will want to avoid. With a more favorable regultory environment this can be accomplished in about 10 years. In 5 years, we may actualy have some leverage with them in the event that disputes should arise between us and them.

As for Russia, they win regardless. We go to war with Iran, oil prices rise. We don't go to war, oil prices rise because of the tensions. Either way we get hurt and Russia gets to stick it to their old Cold War adversary. They aren't scared of us. There's no reason for them to be. Europe is in the bag due to their control of the oil supplies and their nuclear arsenal prevents them from being threatened by anyone.

Iran's nuclear facilities are well guarded by one of the top air defense systems in the world and their war ships are armed with the latest in "sunburn" anti-ship missles from Russi and China. This info is available to anyone wishing to do the research. Any attempt to take these sites out will be VERU difficult. Turn Iran into an ash tray or attempt it and we would incurr the enimity of the entire world. The term "pyriac victory" comes to mind, asuming we are successful.

"Instead you want us to run and hide behind our borders. I smell the stink of Ron Paul groupie." First of all I'm told a "groupie" is someone who travels with the band and f'ks the band members. I don't have that kind of support for Dr. Paul. Specifically there are a number of problems with his foreign policy. To often he takes the side of America's enemies.

What I want and expect is a realignment of our forces to better facilitate our national defense interests and an adjustment to our regulatory and tax system to better facilitate the growth of our economy and the paying down of our national debt. We do these things and good outcomes for our country are still possible.