Sunday, January 07, 2007

Third Bush War

The appointment of a Navy Admiral to head CENTCOM is leading to speculation about an iminent attack on Iran.

Just for the record this would be yet another crass blunder by an administration that has shown no competence for winning wars to date. Afghanistan started well but the US pulled resources out too soon because Bush was more interested in starting a war of choice against Iraq. Now it appears that the solution being considered to the two separate unfinished wars either side of Iran is to launch a third war in the middle so that from now on there is only one war to worry about.

This is a very very bad idea. The Iranians control the Straits of Hormuz. Without the oil that flows through the straits the economy of the West grinds to a halt. Last time Iran closed the straits the West quickly told Saddam to offer peace terms.

This time is unlikely to be different. A supertanker is a slow, fragile beast that is not designed for military combat. The Iranians have surface to ship missiles. They have the means to retaliate. Any attempt to bonb Iran would be met in kind, Iran has the capability to take reprisals against civilians in Israel.

The rapid (initial) success of the Afghan and two gulf wars are probably unrepresentative of the cost of a campaign against Iran. In the first gulf war Iraq was fighting for territory it had only held for a few months. In the second the Iraqi army had been bled by a decade of sanctions. The Afghan campaign was won through politics and large sums of money rather than boots on the ground. A campaign against Iran would be very different, not least because the US land army is now the one that is stretched to the limit.

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