That First International Crisis May Be Happening Now

This is really a place holder until Cheryl and/or Adam show up, but if you don’t count Qatar-follies, we’ve got a situation brewing in Syria that could truly end up being double-plus ungood:

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it launched missiles into eastern Syria targeting Islamic State militants in response to an attack on Iran’s parliament and a shrine in Tehran, warning that it would similarly retaliate on anyone else carrying out attacks in Iran.

The launch of surface-to-surface medium range missiles into Syria’s Deir el-Zour province comes as Islamic State militants fleeing a U.S.-led coalition onslaught increasingly try to fortify their positions there.

Meanwhile:

A U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet downed a Syrian SU-22 plane on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, said the U.S. military, the first time since the civil war broke out.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/1.796428

I’m not going to even to pretend to offer meaningful analysis, given the availability here of folks who actually know about such matters.  I’ll just point out the scorecard as context for what I’m sure will be more sophisticated thinking to come.

First:  Iran strikes ISIS at bases in Syria.

Second:  the US knocks down a jet flown by the armed forces of Iran’s ally/client, the Assad government of Syria.

Third: …that’s what I’m afraid of.

Over to you folks.

Image:  Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, Charge of the 2nd Lancers at El Afuli – in the Valley of Armageddon, 5 am, Friday 20th September 19181918.






143 replies
  1. 1
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Junior G-Man) 🗳 🌷 says:

    This is going to be Trump’s Vietnam. I can feel it

  2. 2
    Dread says:

    I think it’s fair to say that we’ll be going to war with Iran eventually. We have a president that is compromised, but is a lapdog of the house of Saud, backed by a generation of hawks that have had a hard-on to go do regime change in Iran for decades now.

    Our war against ISIS will have little effect on Sunni extremism once we’ve removed all of Saudi Arabia’s Shia rivals in the region and they are free to dominate the remaining Gulf States and empower a new generation of jihadi terrorists.

  3. 3
    D58826 says:

    and fourth a USAF F15 took down an Iranian drone last week. It seems that the Marines feel left out so they will be gunning for someting:-)
    And despite all his bluster over Qatar the US just signed a multi-billion dollar contract to sell F15’s to Qatar.

    Even with a score card its is hard to tell the players.

  4. 4
    BBA says:

    @Dread: The Russia-Iran alliance might make Trump hold off. Pence is definitely going to invade, though.

  5. 5
    sukabi says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Junior G-Man) 🗳 🌷: Thought drumpfs Vietnam was dodging VD in college…too bad it seems like he lost his battle with syphillus…

  6. 6
    Lit3Bolt says:

    Don’t worry, gang, we have a fully staffed and competent State Dept. that is ON THE CASE.

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Take a deep breath and back away from the keyboard.

    The real concern has to be over Tanf. Tanf is a border and crossroads town that US Special Forces are using as their in theater training site for Syrian (mostly Kurdish, but some Arab and Yazidis too) anti-ISIS and anti-Syrian government rebel forces. The Iranians and their proxies in Syria would like to control Tanf as it gives them border control over and furthers Iran’s longstanding desire for an unimpeded land corridor from Iran, through Iraq into Syria, and through Syria into Lebanon. US forces, specifically air assets, have had to target and strike encroaching Iranian/Iranian proxies that were moving on Tanf in the past several weeks.

    Here’s a good rundown of the problem:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World.....is-brewing

    Additionally the real strategic issue is that because we don’t have a new policy in place for dealing with the Syrian Civil War, ISIL, Iraq, and/or Iran (let alone the rest of the Levant and the Middle East and Central Asia), and we don’t have a properly staffed DOD or Services (for instance we have an Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict/ASDSOLIC), we don’t have a strategy. As a result the CJTF OIR Commander and his Combined Joint Force Land, Sea, and Air Force Component Commanders are making theater strategic, theater operational, and theater tactical decisions in real time because they have to. What this means is that we’re seeing tremendous problem developing: the attempt to pull tactics up and use them as strategy because we don’t have a strategy. This never works. And it always leads to bad results.

    And it doesn’t help that two Flynn holdovers on the National Security Staff, the Senior Director for Intelligence Policy and the Senior Director for Iraq, are trying to manipulate the Interagency into going after Iran.
    https://www.justsecurity.org/42230/trump-administration-weighs-confronting-irans-proxies-syria/

  8. 8
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You’re no fun.

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: I’m not paid to be fun.

  10. 10
    efgoldman says:

    @Dread:

    I think it’s fair to say that we’ll be going to war with Iran eventually.

    Which every war planner in the Pentagon with stars on his/her shoulder boards HAS to know, will make Iraq (from our point of view) look like a minor exercise, and won’t take the regime down in any case.
    Fuckity fuck fuck

  11. 11
    raven says:

    @efgoldman: Yea cuz those fucking generals are swoooft.

  12. 12
    Barbara says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And thank God somebody is not paid to be fun.

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    I’m still not seeing a reason for the U.S. to shoot down a Syrian jet.

  14. 14
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m not paid to be fun.

    Wait! Cole PAYS you?
    In what? Pet fur? Mustard?

    (And it’s STILL scary.)

    ETA: Some of us remember Gulf of Tonkin (waves at raven) and certainly whatever lies W and his merry band told.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Barbara: I’m gonna work that out as a compliment.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: He doesn’t pay me a thing.

  18. 18
    sdhays says:

    @sukabi: +10000

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    I just can’t picture war with Iran being anything but an insane clusterfuck that we end up losing very, very badly. Whether we like it or not, they have a very stable society, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, plus a much larger population, plus a standing army that’s loyal to their country, not a dictator. And the terrain is hellish because it’s so mountainous.

  20. 20
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    Beats me.

    Tom has laid out about what I would be able to say about this right now. Maybe we will get more information later. Or scratch that. We will get more information later, but whether it will tell us anything besides technical data of missiles used, where they were launched from, exactly where the US shot down the Syrian jet, is doubtful.

    I have some questions, though.

    First: Iran strikes ISIS at bases in Syria.

    One of the seeming assumptions of the administration is that Iran and ISIS are working together. With this strike, not so much.

    Iran used medium-range missiles for the strike, launched from Iran. They’ve been developing missiles, so like the long-range cruise missile strike by Russia a few months back, this is about showing off equipment and making a statement to the other, um, participants in the strife in Syria. Iran could hit the big US base in Qatar. They had other ways of doing that, but this is perhaps an underlining of that. But Qatar is kinda sorta an ally of Iran, now being pushed further in that direction by Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia’s animus toward Qatar. Or maybe not, according to Rex Tillerson.

    A message to Russia? Certainly these missiles could be aimed north, but Iran and Russia seem to be at least tolerating each other these days. Maybe just a message in general: “Don’t mess with us.”

    I tweeted to ask whether Iran got permission from Iraq for those missiles to overfly on their way to Syria. I haven’t seen an answer to that yet, but if I were one of the remaining Middle East experts in the State Department, I would be doing my best to find out. If the answer is yes, that’s an Iraqi tilt toward Iran, or perhaps just a desire to smash the common enemy, as Trump would like to join up with Russia to do. If there is no permission and Iraqi silence, the Iraqi stance is less Iran-tilted.

    I think there was another hit on a Syrian Air Force plane the other day? I don’t follow every detail of what is going on in Syria because there is just too much going on, period. There were a couple of articles this week about how that hyphenated-name Flynn leftover at the National Security Council and a friend of his have been pushing toward war with Iran. It’s possible they think that direct hits on Assad’s property are a way to ramp up the action. Or it could have been an incidental encounter, something of an accident on both sides and the Americans felt that they had to shoot.

    Third: We don’t know. There is no indication that Trump has thought anything beyond ISIS bad, Iran bad in terms of developing a strategy for Syria. The Obama administration had a hard time working through a strategy and at least they all were talking to each other and generally working together. We can’t rely on that for this administration. What I’ve seen of that Tillerson fellow in no way inclines me to believe he has any strategy beyond sucking up to the boss. McMasters and Mattis might have some ability there, but they strike me as more operational types, fine on the battlefield. That’s why you need civilians capable of thinking out strategy in the mix.

    Then there is the question mark that is Trump. Will he see the Iranian strike as good because it was against ISIS or bad because it demonstrates Iran’s strength? It’s up to his gut. I have to thank whomever managed to wrassle him down to Camp David this weekend and take away his phone. It’s been very restful. My guess is that he won’t do much. We are seeing the bluster-to-action ratio increasing with his time in office. Or so it seems to me.

    So let’s see what happens next and then when Trump returns to the White House. That’s all we can do.

  21. 21
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Backing away now. (My Father’s Day steak won’t buy or cook itself.)

    Anyway, my work here is done: smoked you out, even if with mistargeted trepidation. The idea that theater commanders can decision-tree us into war while the chain of command wonders where all its bits are is not hugely more comforting than the thought that random small-scale aerial combat won’t Jenkins’ Ear or USS Maddox us into trouble.

  22. 22
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Mnemosyne has the bottom line.

    I just can’t picture war with Iran being anything but an insane clusterfuck that we end up losing very, very badly. Whether we like it or not, they have a very stable society, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, plus a much larger population, plus a standing army that’s loyal to their country, not a dictator. And the terrain is hellish because it’s so mountainous.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I have to thank whomever managed to wrassle him down to Camp David this weekend and take away his phone.

    My completely unsourced and pulled-out-of-my-ass speculation is that it’s marriage counseling for him and Melania now that she’s moved into the White House. They need to negotiate exactly how they’re going to live together and what she is and is not willing to do.

    I’m guessing they will have separate bedrooms, and that it will be a closely-guarded secret.

  24. 24
    efgoldman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    There is no indication that Trump has thought….

    Well, that was pretty much assumed.
    I still maintain that, on his own, he can’t find any of those countries on a map.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Plus the got these cool ass camy’s that make em look like scarecrows!

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix.....34x344.jpg

  26. 26
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: And now my work truly is done. With both of you on the case, I can turn my attn. to what glass of wine to pour w. my smoky ribeye, which is what I should be doing today, dammit.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    efgoldman says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    They need to negotiate exactly how they’re going to live together and what she is and is not willing to do.

    Did the lawyer, Kasowitz, go to Camp David? That would be a tell.

  29. 29
    Another Scott says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    What this means is that we’re seeing tremendous problem developing: the attempt to pull tactics up and use them as strategy because we don’t have a strategy. This never works. And it always leads to bad results.

    QFT.

    But even beyond the lack of strategy problem, there’s this: There are too many players with too many interests much, much more important to them than our interests there are to us. It’s a quagmire and we’ve got no business there other than our very limited aims in things like “defeating Daesh” (whatever that means) in Iraq (and maybe, maybe Syria), keeping the Kurds from being crushed by Erdogan and others, and minimizing the chance of another destabilizing wave of refugees flooding the EU.

    I’m no expert, but this Charles Lister guy seems to be watching things in Syria reasonably closely.

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (“Who hopes Donnie doesn’t go on some counter-productive rant about what is happening…”)

  30. 30
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Another Scott: You’ve hit on the central point.

    There are too many players with too many interests much, much more important to them than our interests there are to us.

    That’s classic strategy and all too true in Syria. All we can do is on the margins, and sometimes not even that. Probably worth keeping some involvement, but we’re never going to “win.” Probably nobody else will either, but they will reach, or come close to, some of their goals. All we can do is keep things from being utterly horrible in small spots.

  31. 31
    sukabi says:

    @Another Scott: wishing and hoping…my dad used to say “Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up faster.”

    Pretty sure short of his aids putting him in a straitjacket and shooting him up with thorazine all your hoping will be for naught.

  32. 32
    Baud says:

    @Mnemosyne: Anyone can criticize, but I don’t see you proposing a better country to go to war with.

  33. 33
    Mike in NC says:

    Everybody relax, Jared’s got this.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    If you thought Charlie was bad, wait until we try to go up against those guys on their own turf where they’re protecting their homes and families from the Great Satan.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Baud:

    Freedonia?

    ETA: Maybe Grenada’s medical students need to be evacuated again.

  36. 36
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Where the fuck do you think mr charles was and what do you think they were doing?

  37. 37
    HeleninEire says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Here’s kinda a funny story. My Dad is 83 years old. He has been through the Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate, WWII, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, and I just dunno what else. He is freaking about all that is going on now. He actually said to me recently “I am glad I am not going to be here to see how this all comes out”

    OMG, right? But here’s what I say to him “My friend Adam, who knows this shit says……” And then I quote you. And it calms him. I got my Masters at Columbia. Daddy doesn’t need to know that you are my virtual friend. He thinks I actually know you.

    So all that to say Thanks Adam,your expertise is greatly appreciated.

  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @HeleninEire: Glad to be of some use.

  39. 39
    Gravenstone says:

    @raven: The spats seem to clash with the ghillie suits.

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    And the Iranians are about a hundred times better-armed and better-trained than Mr. Charles.

  41. 41
    D58826 says:

    @HeleninEire:

    I am glad I am not going to be here to see how this all comes out”

    I’m 71 and would feel the same way if it weren’t for my 30 something nieces and their kids. They are the ones that are going to have to deal with the mess. Hopefully it will not get to the level of Dec. 1941.

  42. 42
    debbie says:

    @efgoldman:

    Her parents are there too. Maybe Melania’s dad is putting him in his place.

  43. 43
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Take a deep breath and back away from the keyboard.

    Good advice but after reading the post and the links I’m not sure I can back far enough away from the key board as not to be in at least mini-panic mode. I realize Der Fuhrer never learns but I’m sure their are a few folks around him that are beginning to realized that it is a lot easier to throw grenades over the WH fence than it is to catch them

  44. 44
    p.a. says:

    I know a DoD contractor who says they’re doing more C&C work worldwide than anytime since before GWar 1. Maybe it’s just time for an upgrade? They wouldn’t say more (couldn’t) but they implied this was outside the norm.

  45. 45
    D58826 says:

    @efgoldman:

    stars on his/her shoulder boards

    I suspect every buck private with two brain cells to rub together know that as well.

  46. 46
    Feebog says:

    Mnemosyne is right on the mark about war with Iran. It is completely unwinnable. Billions, perhaps trillion s of dollars and how many lives lost? I frankly think the American public would not get behind it from the getgo.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The saddest part is, I am by no means an expert here. I really am an administrative assistant with a couple of film degrees. I only know this stuff from looking at Wikipedia and articles on the Internet.

    So if even I can look at this and see it’s going to be a disaster, WTF is wrong with the conservatives who think this is a good idea?

  48. 48
    zach says:

    Who would’ve guessed that relinquishing civilian control and putting the generals in charge would lead to military escalation. Shocking!

  49. 49
    amygdala says:

    @HeleninEire: What a great story. Happy Father’s Day to your Dad. If he asks where you know Adam, you could always say, “You know, Dad, I’d tell ya, but then I’d have to kill ya.”

  50. 50
    zach says:

    @Mnemosyne: The US is flat-out invading Syria the next time a chemical attack is alleged. I bet Russia is on board as well with the caveat that they get a veto over who fills the power vacuum; Assad is an inconvenient ally. In Trump’s logic, this will put his critics in a pickle because a whole lot of them have spent years demanding escalation against Assad… and unlike with the put-solar-panels-on-the-wall idiocy he might be right.

  51. 51

    @Mnemosyne: You don’t have ideological blinkers and are sane. Two things they are not.

  52. 52
    D58826 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Mr. Charles

    ? Since your replying to raven I assume you are just referring to The VC in a more formal way. But it is a good reference point. We could have saved a mountain load of grief and 58k dead if we had learned some Vietnamese history before committing American troops. We looked at S. Vietnam as a bulwark against N. Vietnamese /Red Chinese aggression. A bit of reading a history book should have told the policy makers that at that point the only people the Vietnamese hated more than the French were/are the Chinese. They used the same tactics that defeated the US effort for 3000 years against the Chinese.
    Iran is not a country that was beamed down by the Enterprise in 1979 just fore the purpose of kidnapping American diplomats. Perisa is the name of the country that has come down thru history. The ancient Greeks in Athens and Sparta were quite familiar with fighting Persia. So where the Romans. You might get a clue that they have been one of the big kids on the block from the name of the stretch of ocean that all of that oil flows thru – the Persian Gulf.

    In the meantime Gen Mattis wants to send 5k more troops to Afghanistan. For what earthly reason does he think that after 16 years and numerous surges, 5k more troops are going to make a difference is beyond me. Last week 10 Americans were murdered or wounded by our Afghan allies. There is a reason that part of the world is known as the graveyard of empires. THe only one who had any luck there was Alexander the Great and that was because he was smart enough not to stick around.

  53. 53
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Mnemosyne: Your analysis was spot on. Bigger country, larger population, more difficult terrain, better military. And look how Iraq turned out.

    WTF is wrong with the conservatives who think this is a good idea?

    Just a guess: The US was militarily unopposed during the 1990s. The idea grew then that we can beat anyone anywhere anytime. Also, diplomacy is just talking and not as masculine as dropping bombs and shedding blood. The US spends more on military than the next ten (or whatever large number) countries, so we should be able to beat anyone.

    It’s not just conservatives. There is a general tilt toward military force throughout the foreign policy community. I think that a big factor is the gendering of international discourse. Masculine force good, feminine words (and peace?) bad. It’s very hard to say these things within that community though. In the past year, I’ve had two very similar experiences with editors who simply can’t get the concept that the tilt toward military force has something to do with potency, masculinity, and being in charge. And I’m not the only one. Some of us are working on it. Here’s a piece that was solicited for a bigger publication and ran into editorial trouble.

  54. 54
    Seth Owen says:

    @Mnemosyne: They engage in magical thinking, not analysis. We saw that on display with Iraq. Actual strategists, such as the Army War College, raised red flags but were ignored.

    Even I, lowly field grade Army reservist, knew instantly that Bremer’s disbanding of the Iraqi army was an enormous blunder because I knew some history.

    They have learned nothing in the interim. Indeed, they are more invested in magic than ever before.

    It’s clear to anyone who cares to look that we cannot win a war with Iran at any price Americans would be willing to accept. A land invasion is simply out of the question. This is no simple ‘march up’ to Tehran like Baghdad. The Iranians are patriots and would fight tooth and nail against us.

    Sure we could launch air strikes but history shows those are not decisive unless followed up on land. Likewise a naval blockade would be limited in effect. Iran can only be wounded, not defeated by sea.

    It’s bad, bad bad.

    “The only way to win is to not play.”

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @D58826:

    I was just imitating raven, since he was there before I was born, IIRC.

  56. 56
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Remind me to check in with you for information about military matters.

  57. 57
    D58826 says:

    @Another Scott: From what I’ve read you are making a good point. Every one of our ‘allies’ in the region has a long list of national interests that they are fighting to protect. But we are lucky if ‘helping the US defeat Daesh become some fools in DC think they are an existential threat to the US’ makes the bottom of those lists.

  58. 58
    Tom Levenson says:

    @zach: I think that’s at least somewhat wrong. Armed service officers have a pretty good sense of what war does and how much it costs in human as well as material terms. (My prejudice is that Air Force types are the least attuned to such thinking. See this.)

    The problem is that — as I once saw an army field-grade officer say in a televised round table — the military’s tools are basically destructive. As that major said, (I paraphrase), if you want something blown up, they can do it. Other tasks are trickier. So while I don’t think there’s a “we must blow shit up” compulsion amongst most post LeMay officers, I do think that when they’re tasked with an amorphous job and equipped with planes and missiles and artillery and ordnance and so on, they’ll face situations where it seems necessary to do stuff, and the stuff they have to do it with leaves large holes in the ground, the local social fabric, and human bodies. Which can indeed escalate.

  59. 59
    D58826 says:

    @Mnemosyne: I didn’t serve because of bad eyesight but did live through it and the term Victor Charlie or just Charlie was on the evening news all of the time. Just not sure if I ever heard the reference with the formal Mr. Charles.

  60. 60
    raven says:

    @D58826: You had to be there.

  61. 61
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    C’mon, you don’t actually think the Iranians wouldn’t kick our asses, do you?

  62. 62
    raven says:

    Glossary of Military Terms & Slang from the Vietnam War K-P

    Mr. Charles
    the Viet Cong; the enemy

    Any more questions?

  63. 63
    D58826 says:

    @Tom Levenson: shorter version – when you only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail. Maybe once back in the good old days we could roll over the ‘nail’ with our superior fire sticks. Today they have fire sticks as good as our so they don’t roll over..

  64. 64
    Kathleen says:

    @raven: My prayers to you and your sister and brother in law. So sorry to read that on previous thread.

  65. 65
    D58826 says:

    @raven: I’m sure. It was the ‘MR. CHARLES’ part that I don’t remember hearing being used, at least not back in the states by us dumb civilians.
    Either way it doesn’t change the outcome in Vietnam and won’t change the fact that we will get our butts kicked in Iran. All else aside we simply do not haves enough manpower to mount that kind of an invasion

  66. 66
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: What’s the point of this? Upwards of 3 million people were killed in the “Vietnam War” most of them Vietnamese. We lost but they paid a horrible toll. They fought us with what they had and with incredible determination because it was their country.

    So you think we’d try to fight Iran on the ground in Iran and you think they would “kick our asses”?

  67. 67
    Chet Murthy says:

    @D58826: ISTR that reference in _Full Metal Jacket_ in the latter half of the movie. Could be misremembering.

  68. 68
    raven says:

    @Kathleen: That has been an interesting part of the struggle that three of my close friends are going through (one of them died about a month ago). I want to share just a part of what the wife of my friend just wrote. She kept a support group page on Facebook for almost 5 years and she’s writing to say thanks and shut it down:

    I’ve also learned that people forget that we don’t all share the same belief system, the same religion or no religion at all, or the same view of what is beyond what we can see. I will always be sensitive to that fact and try to recognize that all that is necessary is to say you’re sorry for the pain. And to listen if someone wants to share a feeling about the loved one who died. Our versions of what comes after are all vastly different. No assumptions have value to the grieving. All that’s required is acknowledgement. Tolerance for diversity is as important in death as it is in life.
    Right now, I’m at sea about my future. For many years my focus has been being Michael’s advocate and living as well as we could under the weight of his orphan disease. I’m going to let myself be buffeted around by life for awhile and go with whatever happens. I’m very physically tired from the challenges of the past 6 months. In time, I’ll figure out what structures I’ll need in my life.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    @Chet Murthy: It’s in the movie and that’s because Michael Herr author of “Dispatches” wrote the screenplay and it was very accurately based on the language of Americans in Vietnam. Read it sometime, he has a great reference to Rushdi’s “Imaginary Homelands” when talking about the same.

  70. 70
    The Lodger says:

    @raven: Desert, Arctic and Midnight Wookies!

  71. 71
    raven says:

    @The Lodger: No shit, I’d hate to see them coming through the wire!

  72. 72
    Chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Iran has been planning for an Iraq/Afghanistan style asymmetrical war for almost two decades, too. And with the front row seat they had to those wars, they’re fucking ready.

    The only way I can imagine us “winning” that kind of guerrilla war with Iran is if we go all out on arming ethnic and sectarian militias from groups other than the Persian/Shi’a dominant group, ultimately resulting in a Yugoslavia or Iraq style race war that breaks the country so badly that the Khomeini crowd can never regain its former status. That would, of course, have horrific consequences for the Iranian people, for the entire region, and for our troops.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    What’s the point of this? Upwards of 3 million people were killed in the “Vietnam War” most of them Vietnamese. We lost but they paid a horrible toll. They fought us with what they had and with incredible determination because it was their country.

    So you think we’d try to fight Iran on the ground in Iran and you think they would “kick our asses”?

    The point is that the Vietnamese fought us to a standstill with far fewer resources than the Iranians had, and yet there are morons within the Trump administration who think we could win a war with Iran.

    The Viet Cong kicked our asses, and the Iranians would, too, but worse. It’s a no-win fight, and I know this even though I have close to zero knowledge about military matters.

  74. 74
    Raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: And you decided to tell me all this why?

  75. 75
    D58826 says:

    @Chris: And it worked so well in Iraq and Afghanistan. It took some time but it didn’t go so well in the Balkans either after Tito died and the USSR collapsed. I think there are still NATO peace keepers in the region and we still have to lean on the Albanians to prevent them from overtly declaring independence from Serbia. IIRC the Greeks are pissed off because one group is referred to as Macedonia but it is not the same region made famous in Greek history.

  76. 76
    El Caganer says:

    Is there any authority under which US forces are operating in Syria? Wouldn’t shooting down a Syrian Air Force plane – in Syrian airspace – be an act of ‘aggressive war,’ which (IIRC)is a war crime?

  77. 77
    raven says:

    Sergeant: If they kill more Russians, they win. If we kill more Frenchmen, we win.
    Boris Grushenko: What do we win?

  78. 78
  79. 79
    D58826 says:

    @raven: Can’t imagine her pain; but. I remember how I felt/still feel after losing my wife to end stage MS. After being her 24 hour support system for 20 years there was this sudden void. My mind is drawing a blank on her name right now but she is the CEO of a tech company. Her husband, another tech CEO, died unexpectedly on a Mexican vacation. She has written a book that describes her feelings that sound a lot like that of your friend’s. I think she also started a support group. Might be of some value to your friend to get on her journey. It’s one step at a time and every one takes different steps at different speeds. I think the key for you is just be there and listen when she needs it

  80. 80
    raven says:

    @D58826: Actually this was part of a post to announce she was ending the support group. She may write a book as well. My sister is just at the end with her husband .

  81. 81
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @D58826:

    My mind is drawing a blank on her name right now but she is the CEO of a tech company. Her husband, another tech CEO, died unexpectedly on a Mexican vacation.

    Sheryl Sandberg.

  82. 82
    D58826 says:

    @El Caganer: . One of the Obama ‘abuses of power’ according to the GOP involved his stretching the AUMF from 2001/2002 to cover Syria. Well in spite of all the loud talk by the GOP hawks in Congress, when it came time to give Obama an AUMF to cover Syria there was a mad dash for the doors

  83. 83
    D58826 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That’s her. The one little brain cell knew there was a ‘sand’ in there somewhere

  84. 84
    D58826 says:

    @raven: all I can say is good luck and god bless to her

  85. 85
    raven says:

    @D58826: Thanks

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Raven:

    Because this is a whole thread about whether or not the US is going to pick a fight with Iran? Did you even read Tom’s post?

  87. 87
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Yeah, she’s COO of Facebook. Her late husband (Dave Goldberg) was CEO of SurveyMonkey. Many people I respect have recommended her first book, Lean In. Haven’t read it, and at this stage of my life may not, but if I were still working I expect I would. Don’t know much about her book on widowhood and sudden death and coping with grief, but I imagine there’s something in there for everyone who’s had to deal with loss — which is just about all of us sooner or later.

  88. 88
    eclare says:

    @raven: I’m sorry to hear about your brother in law.

  89. 89
    OGLiberal says:

    @Mnemosyne: We’d beat Iran if we re-initiated the draft and used nukes. Otherwise, stalemate, at best. And we’d be blowing up a bunch of folks who want to like us. We align ousrselves with backwaters like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and seemingly “innocent” monarchies like Jordan but Iran probably has the most Western friendly general populace in the region and the most stable sense of “nation”. (Persia has been Persia forever…all other nations in the region are fake countries white people created after WWI and after GB left their colonies)

  90. 90
    D58826 says:

    only somewhat OT. Has Der Fuhrer made any comment about the loss of of the Fitzgerald crewman? He did tweet that Camp David is really really nice and the military does a good job keeping it spic an span. I knew that FDR called it Shangri La, and Ike renamed it to Camp David in honor of his grandson. What I read yesterday and was a bit surprised about is that it is a Navy facility. Odd since it is buried in the mountains but….. whatever.

    Here is the list.
    The deceased are:

    – Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia

    – Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California

    – Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut

    – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas

    – Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California

    – Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland

    – Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

    Looks like under the Trump wall approach more than half (or their families)would not have been allowed into the country

  91. 91
    burnspbesq says:

    @Baud:

    I don’t see you proposing a better country to go to war with.

    How about Costa Rica? They don’t have a military, so we can probably do OK against them.

  92. 92
    Chris says:

    @OGLiberal:

    Iran might be the single biggest missed opportunity in our foreign policy history. When it comes to alliances, anyway.

  93. 93
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @Chris: Elections have consequences. (sigh)

  94. 94
    D58826 says:

    @OGLiberal:

    fake countries white people created after WWI and after GB left their colonies)

    Churchill, who was part of that process said that in hiccuping Iraq it was like sitting on an ungrateful volcano and paying 8 million pounds a year for the privilege. Given that the Brits were, among other things, using poison gas on the locals I guess the term ‘ungrateful volcano’ is a good example of British understatement.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    I think you and if have bonded before over the stupidly of the Bush administration’s decision to spit in Iran’s face post-9/11 after Iran made their first official diplomatic gesture towards us since their revolution.

    I’m still livid over that idiocy.

  96. 96
    D58826 says:

    @burnspbesq: Well it did take a week of heavy ‘fighting’ to rescue the medical students in Granada. St Ronulus the Unready was big on beating up on undefended countries. When the locals could bit back (see Beirut marine compound) he ran like a scalded chicken.

  97. 97
    D58826 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep and if the current version of the GOP sinks the nuclear deal it will be just as big a mistake. Maybe bigger since we are talking nukes at this point.

  98. 98
    raven says:

    @eclare: He just died.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    Ugh. I’m sorry. I hope your sister and nieces are able to find some peace.

  100. 100
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: My condolences.

  101. 101
    James Powell says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The idea grew then that we can beat anyone anywhere anytime.

    I don’t think the idea grew then, in the 90s. It was around for a long time before. The idea came out of the Big Win WWII and became a central tenet of the American Creed, repeated in every political campaign since. In fact, according to the American Creed, the only thing that ever defeated Our Brave Troops was betrayal by Democrats, hippies, Jane Fonda, John Kerry, and the liberal media.

  102. 102
    James Powell says:

    @raven:

    Sorry for your loss.

  103. 103
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That sounds like me.

    I was going for Mossadegh, but there’s definitely more than one missed opportunity there.

  104. 104
    Chris says:

    @James Powell:

    I think Vietnam injected a huge dose of insecurity into our American Exceptionalism. And a huge amount of our foreign policy since then has been about compensating for it.

  105. 105
    D58826 says:

    CNN is reporting London police are responding to a report of a vehicle accident with pedestrians. a number of casualties. While one hopes the pedestrians are ok, one hope even more that it was just some drink driver and not terrorism.

  106. 106
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: Condolences. Good thoughts to your sister and you.

  107. 107
    D58826 says:

    @Chris: Yep. The first Gulf War was supposed to have buried the Vietnam Syndrome. If that ‘syndrome’ was a reluctance to get in a land war in a far off country then maybe we can hoope that the Syndrome comes back from the grave.

  108. 108
    Chris T. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And here I thought TANF was Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

  109. 109
    eclare says:

    @raven: Oh, I’m so sorry.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @D58826:

    The first Gulf War created what I like to call “Kuwait Syndrome,” and can best be summarized as “YES! I am INVINCIBLE!”

  111. 111
    raven says:

    @eclare: It was time, he wasn’t going to get better.

    thanks

  112. 112
    raven says:

    @James Powell: We did our best.

  113. 113
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @raven: I’m sorry. Comforting thoughts to you and your relatives.

  114. 114
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    Agreeing with Chris on that. Once the neocons could convince themselves that the US defeated the Soviet Union, and then the first Gulf War was successful, Vietnam Syndrome was banished. The 1990s were the decade of the Project for the New American Century.

  115. 115
    raven says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks.

  116. 116
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven:

    I’m extremely sorry for your sister’s loss (and everyone else in the family), but must be relieved that he’s out of that devastating pain.

    Are you heading out to CA to be with your sister and nieces?

  117. 117
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yea, waiting to see what the arrangements are. I think the Mrs. is going to have to stay here for this one. I think it will be easier on everyone if I go myself.

  118. 118
    Another Scott says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: It was really easy to learn the wrong lesson about the Kuwait war. Namely: It’s a much, much easier job to defeat an invading army than it is one that is fighting for its own territory. It’s also much “easier” to “win” a war when you’re demanding unconditional surrender and are willing to incinerate millions of people than when you’re fighting under the international rules of modern warfare – rules that exist for sensible reasons learned from very, very painful experience.

    Although it doesn’t get talked about much, we should remember that many, many people wanted us to use nuclear arms in Korea and in Vietnam to “win” those wars. Our national policy, rightly, was that those weapons shouldn’t be used there, even if it meant that we would lose.

    A truism is that “the military’s job is to kill people and break things”. Yes, by some measures (body count, square miles destroyed), we could impose our will upon Kim and the mullahs and Assad. But in the real world, where AK-47s and cheap explosives are everywhere, and our military relies on supply routes that are tens of thousands of miles long, and countries have mutual defense treaties with strong neighbors, the idea that we can simply blow up some stuff and then march as victors to an enemy capitol and welcome our troops home 3 months later leaving behind a friendly stable country – well that idea is fantasy. It’s been a fantasy for coming up on 67 years.

    One of these days we’ll learn that we can no longer conquer people that we disagree with. We can make things very painful for them and their governments, but putting American soldiers as an invading force anywhere in the world is not going to advance our interests.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  119. 119
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Mnemosyne: The Viet Cong kicked our asses,

    No, we gutted the Viet Cong. it was the North Vietnamese that wore us down. They had to do more of the fighting after Tet.

  120. 120
    weaselone says:

    @Chris:

    Yup. Compared to the strongmen, monarchs and dictators that dominate the region, a Republic with Theocratic overlords was (and is)probably a reasonable target for engagement. Iran as a Shia majority nation is also at a numeric and power disadvantage relative to the Sunni nations, it’s looking for allies and support. That’s part of the reason for it’s aggressive foreign policy and support of Shia movements and governments throughout the middle east. With direct engagement, we probably could have eventually established relatively close ties, limited Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism in the region and catalyzed government reforms that limited the power of the clerics and bolstered the power of the elected government.

  121. 121
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Mnemosyne: Same here, what a hell of a missed opportunity!

  122. 122
    raven says:

    @Woodrowfan: They were gutted because their leadership used them as the shock troops at Tet. There is plenty of information that suggest the North Vietnamese were threatened by the VC and it was a good way to get them out of the way.

  123. 123

    @James Powell: Since WWII it has all been “picking up crappy little countries and throwing them against the wall.” The subtext of this, which I don’t recall having seen pointed out anywhere, is that that is the kind of thing that you only do if it is all you can do.

    Iran is not a “crappy little country” within the meaning of the source and I quite agree with numerous others that conventional operations in-country would be met with swift, outright and overwhelming defeat. But that is not what we would do (in the age of Trump). What we would do is drop the very biggest bunker-buster nuke that we have, right in the middle of Tehran. Ground burst.

  124. 124
    Vhh says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: And remember, unlike the Iraq hodgepodge, Iran/Persia has centuries of identit as an empire and is a theocratic quasi democracy (like what American Talibangelists want the US to become). They have a middle class, some of it US educated, some limited tolerance of religious minorites, and a real military. Russian aid, probably. And a huge home team advantage with 80 M people. Probably Iraq squared in difficultY to make war on.

  125. 125
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Another Scott: That sounds about right. Plus you have to think about what happens after your army leaves. See Iraq, Afghanistan.

  126. 126
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    C’mon, you don’t actually think the Iranians wouldn’t kick our asses, do you?

    I think we could bomb Iran but Iran is VERY unlikely to ever bomb us.

    So they cannot actually harm the US mainland, while we could inflict a great deal f damage to Iran. The question is how do we stop, and what happens when we stop bombing Iran. Which leads to the question: Why would we start bombing Iran?

  127. 127
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @catclub: We can’t invade. As Adam has pointed out several times, we don’t have the troops available.

  128. 128
    Achrachno says:

    @Frank Wilhoit: ” What we would do is drop the very biggest bunker-buster nuke that we have, right in the middle of Tehran. Ground burst.”

    That seems to be a real possibility with Trump: he’s more open to the use of nukes than any of our sane leaders have been. He asked approximately “What’s the point of having them of you’re not going to use them?” And of course, people like him (Fox & Limbaugh fans, etc.) often want to turn the Middle East to glass, etc.

  129. 129
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    Good analysis here from Julian Borger, who is a reliable reporter. Not too different from what Adam and I said, but in a more polished form.

  130. 130
    J R in WV says:

    @D58826:

    My Granddad was boss of a family owned business with several employees, most of whom called him Mr Charlie… So that took me back a long while.

    I agree with all that others have said about Iran – there’s a good reason we never started a war with them before now, it would be a terrible mess. We would not win in a cake walk, and when it got down to brass tacks, Trump would do something catastrophic.

    I’m old, no kids, have nephews who want to serve, may already be enlisted. One was applying to Navy OCS, wants to be a nuke… not a safe occupation now. Interesting times, in many ways.

  131. 131
    Chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Hey, I know the CNAS guy who’s quoted in there. Fellow AU SIS grad, couple years ahead of me.

  132. 132
    NotMax says:

    Haven’t read entire thread, but certainly smacks of coordinatiion and cooperation between Iran and Russia re: Deir el-Zour, which Russia has been bombing of late, using drones for targeting.

  133. 133
    J R in WV says:

    @raven:

    I’m so sorry for you sister’s loss… and glad for his relief.

    Thunder – I’ll lose my link soon, Best wishes on you trip west!

  134. 134
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Chris: Ilan Goldenberg? He’s a good commenter. I follow him on Twitter.

  135. 135
    fuckwit says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: They also have ass-kicking land-to-sea missiles they bought from China, and can take out anything sailing into or out of the Persian Gulf.

    It’s a fool’s errand to fuck with them.

  136. 136
    fuckwit says:

    @D58826: I looked at that list, and I thought “THOSE are the people who make up the America I am proud of”. Those names! Those kids and/or their families came from all over the world to be here, and they gave their lives for it. Such a tragedy.

  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @fuckwit: With whom would we invade? Name the divisions. We don’t have them.

  138. 138
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Junior G-Man) 🗳 🌷:Worse. This is going to be his Iraq and Lebanon. Only with a thousand times the casualties.

  139. 139
    TenguPhule says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: National Guard to make up the warm bodies. Yes, I think he’s that fucking stupid. And I have zero confidence that any General is going to tell him he can’t do it.

  140. 140
    TenguPhule says:

    @catclub:

    The question is how do we stop, and what happens when we stop bombing Iran. Which leads to the question: Why would we start bombing Iran?

    Iran shuts down the Persian gulf to tanker trafffic, world economy blows up. That would be just one of the many many ways Iran can respond to an attack.

    They’ve had decades to prepare for this. Every analyst fully expects them punch well above their weight against any attacker.

  141. 141
    Chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    No, Nicholas Heras. Quoted towards the end.

  142. 142
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @fuckwit: I am late to this thread, but I am going to take a contrarian position. I certainly agree that it would be a terrible idea for Trump to attack Iran, and I agree that any such invasion would go badly for the US, but it’s not because of the rugged terrain or the difficult logistics or the capabilities of the armed forces of Iran or even the determination of the Iranian people to resist.

    The US was also at the end of a long logistics train, facing a motivated enemy dug in on defensible terrain badly suited to armored mobile warfare and supported by a fanatical populace in 1945. Historians disagree about just how many American casualties there would have been, but I’ve never seen anybody suggest Japan could have held out indefinitely against a conventional invasion.

    For that matter, take out the word “armored” and you’ve got a pretty good description of the situation Sherman was facing south of Chattanooga in 1864. The disparity in economic power and population is just as great in an Iran vs US conflict as in either of those.

    The reason the US can’t beat Iran is that the American people would not be willing to accept the sacrifices of lives and resources the war would require. That is, of course, to the credit of the American people, since such a war would be pointless and stupid, in addition to criminal.

    To a first approximation, unless fighting an “equal” (these days, that means China or the EU and maybe Russia), I just assume the US military is invincible in a straight up fight. It is true that you probably couldn’t occupy Iran, but I think you probably could conquer it.

  143. 143
    TenguPhule says:

    @Lurking Canadian:

    The US was also at the end of a long logistics train, facing a motivated enemy dug in on defensible terrain badly suited to armored mobile warfare and supported by a fanatical populace in 1945.

    A lot has changed since we were last on a full war mobilization.

    The disparity in economic power and population is just as great in an Iran vs US conflict as in either of those.

    Iran is not Japan 1945. By that time almost all of the Imperial navy and airforce were destroyed, so our logistics for any invasion were long but unthreatened. The country was already crippled by lack of fuel and the years of bombing had wiped out huge chunks of their industrial infrastructure.

    Iran has been sanctioned so its technological base is primitive compared to ours, but its had decades to prepare and unlike our previous exercises in folly, they can hurt us badly simply by playing by their own rulebook.

    The Persian Gulf is not the place our Navy ever wants to come under fire in. Supporting Airbases in the neighboring countries can and will come under attack in the event of hostilities breaking out.

    As for ground troops, we don’t have the numbers to make it work on our own. We simply don’t.

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