War With Iran: A Campaign Of Catastrophe

Cheryl has been covering the bad faith and disingenuousness of the JCPOA critics and their bad faith arguments against the agreement. I want to focus on the actual strategic issue of what war with Iran would actually entail given the people that are advocating against the JCPOA seem to think that a military solution would bring about a better resolution.

Strategic air strikes won’t achieve our objectives.

Let’s look at three maps. The first details Iran’s nuclear sites:

(Map 1: Iranian Nuclear Sites)

Map 2 is of Iran’s military bases:

(Map 2: Iranian Military Bases as of 2002)

The third map is of Iran’s population centers and population density.

(Map 3: Iranian Population Centers with Population Density)

The Iranians aren’t stupid. All of their nuclear research sites, nuclear energy sites, labs, military bases, etc are either built near heritage sites, near cities and towns, and/or close enough to the borders and the ground and sea lines of commerce and communication (GLOCCs and SLOCCs), that attempting to blow them up will cause not just significant collateral damage, but that damage will include damage to heritage sites (a war crime), as well as potentially release enough toxic material that will necessitate undertaking an immediate humanitarian assistance, disaster management and mitigation, and emergency response mission alongside offensive military operations. Iran’s placement of their nuclear sites and military bases complicates use of strategic air strikes. Moreover, these sites are hardened, meaning that Landpower will have to be used to actually go in and finish the job after the initial air campaign is concluded.

The Iranians will pursue an asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional warfare strategy against the US.

The Iranians have the ability to close the Shat al Arab waterway  and the Straits of Hormuz in order to spike global petroleum prices. They also have the ability to sink a US aircraft carrierSuch actions would be part of the overall Iranian strategy to fight the US on an asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional warfare strategy. If they do this, it will spike global oil prices and crash the economy, which would itself be part of the asymmetric and irregular strategy.

This strategy goes beyond asymmetric naval warfare. Iranians are incredibly patriotic. Even a majority of those unhappy with the current government and who would like to see some changes. The minute we attack, those folks are going to rally to the national cause and defense. As such the Iranians allowed their war planning to leak back in the mid aughts when they were worried that the US would use Iraq as a launching pad to attack Iran. The planning basically called for emptying all the population centers, moving everyone into the mountains, and creating civilian cadres assigned to military units to conduct asymmetric and irregular warfare against the American invaders. The Iranians have specifically developed a layered or mosaic defense.

In 2005, the IRGC announced that it was incorporating a flexible, layered defense —referred to as a mosaic defense—into its doctrine. The lead author of this plan was General Mohammad Jafari, then director of the IRGC’s Center for Strategy, who was later appointed commander of the IRGC.

As part of the mosaic defense, the IRGC has restructured its command and control architecture into a system of 31 separate commands—one for the city of Tehran and 30 for each of Iran’s provinces. The primary goal of restructuring has been to strengthen unit cohesion at the local level and give commanders more latitude to respond to potential threats—both foreign and domestic. But the new structure would also make it difficult for hostile forces to degrade Iranian command and control, a lesson the Iranian military has learned by analyzing U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

The mosaic defense plan allows Iran to take advantage of its strategic depth and formidable geography to mount an insurgency against invading forces. Most of Iran’s population centers and major lines of communication are spread out within the interior of the country. Iran’s borders are ringed by rugged mountain ranges that serve as natural barriers to invasion. As enemy supply lines stretched into Iran’s interior, they would be vulnerable to interdiction by special stay-behind cells, which the IRGC has formed to harass enemy rear operations.

The Artesh, a mix of armored, infantry and mechanized units, would constitute Iran’s initial line of defense against invading forces. IRGC troops would support this effort, but they would also form the core of popular resistance, the bulk of which would be supplied by the Basij, the IRGC’s paramilitary volunteer force. The IRGC has developed a wartime mobilization plan for the Basij, called the Mo’in Plan, according to which Basij personnel would augment regular IRGC units in an invasion scenario.

IRGC and Basij exercises have featured simulated ambushes on enemy armored columns and helicopters. Much of this training has been conducted in an urban environment, suggesting that Iran intends to lure enemy forces into cities where they would be deprived of mobility and close air support. Iran has emphasized passive defense measures—techniques used to enhance the battlefield survivability —including camouflage, concealment and deception.

This strategy is one of attrition. Leveraging the human geography of Iran – Iran’s people, places, and things – to bog the US military down and inflict such high casualties as quickly as possible in order to destroy support for the war in the US and severely damage the morale of the troops fighting it on the ground. Basically the Iranians, who invented the game of chess, have opted to prepare to play go and to play it for massive psychological effects against the US.  This means the US would be fighting a war among the people. Something we are particularly bad at. Those US military units that are actually good at it, do not have enough personnel to actually conduct this type of campaign at the national level.

The US military has a readiness problem!

As GEN Thomas, the SOCOM Commander testified to Congress back in May 2017:

The head of U.S. Special Forces told Congress Thursday that constant deployments and unrealistic mission expectations were taking a major toll on his troops.

 Army General Raymond Thomas, top commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee, saying his elite forces had been engaged in “continuous combat over the past 15 and half years.”

During Thursday’s testimony, Thomas also criticized “media circles” for promoting the idea that Special Forces could solve any issue around the world. Special Forces, about 8,000 of which are currently active in an estimated 80 nations, are not a “panacea” to remedy all global conflicts, he argued.

We don’t have enough of the specialized personnel to cover down on all of SOCOM’s missions right now, we certainly don’t have enough of them to fight an asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional war against Iran. Not only that, but US conventional forces are also overstretched and barely able to conduct the missions they already have.

The US Air Force, as well as US Navy aviators, have been in almost constant combat operations since Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. As Lt. Gen. (ret) David Deptula, the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies has stated:

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has been at war not just since 9/11, but since 1991.  After 25 years of continuous combat operations, coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned top lines, have made the USAF the oldest, smallest, and least ready it has ever been in its history. The average USAF aircraft age is 27 years—the youngest B-52 is over 50 years old. Going into Operation Desert Storm, the USAF had over 530,000 active duty personnel, today that number is 320,000—40 percent less, and the USAF has almost 60 percent fewer combat fighter squadrons today (55) than it did during the first Gulf War in 1991 (134).  Today, over 50 percent of USAF forces are not sufficiently ready for a high-end fight against near-peer capabilities posed by China or Russia.

LTG Deptula’s analysis can be seen in the increase in crashes, like the one last week, of US military aircraft.

In March of 2017, the US Army notified Congress, through the official testimony of three 3 star general officers, that it was also faces a conventional force readiness problem. We now know this is even worse than we thought as the Army is way off – by 12,000 recruits – its recruiting targets to this point in 2018.

The Trump Doctrine and a campaign of maximum pressure will not work with Iran.

The Iranians do not actually care if they treat the President fairly or else. They’re not interested in currying favor with him personally, with his family and associates in regard to business, nor with the United States. That isn’t to say that they want a direct confrontation. Rather, unlike Kim in the DPRK, they aren’t seeking a summit to elevate their status in the international system or as a way to get out from under crippling sanctions. Iran has survived under such sanctions since the early 80s. Any attempts by the President and his surrogates to try to replicate what they think was a successful strategy against the DPRK that brought Kim to the table, will not work with Iran. Moreover, the Iranians know that two of the President’s most prominent surrogates in regard to Iran – his National Security Advisor Ambassador Bolton and his personal attorney Mayor Giuliani – are actually paid surrogates for the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK), which is a quasi-religious/quasi-political cult that was on the US’s terrorist list until a few years ago and not thought highly of in Iran. This reduces two of the President’s key surrogates on this issue effectiveness within the region. The President’s approach to applying maximum pressure, including weaponizing twitter through the use of incendiary and insulting tweets, is the wrong strategy to achieve results with Iran. It is not clear if it was even a major factor, despite administration assertions, in Kim’s decision making. Even if it becomes clear that the maximum pressure campaign was a major contributing factor in Kim’s decision making, Ayutalluh Uzma Khameini is not Kim Jong Un and Iran is not the DPRK.

War with Iran would be so catastrophic to the US it shouldn’t even be contemplated. The actual physical terrain, as well as the human geography, is disadvantageous to the US. ISIS is not done and has either dug into its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria or reconstituted itself as a purely guerrilla force. Arguably the region’s best strategist is MG Suleimani, the Quds Force Commander, who turned around Assad’s flailing military campaign in the Syrian Civil War. Given Iran’s asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional war planning, if the US attacks Iran it will be like placing one’s hand in a wood chipper and pulling out a stump.

Open thread.

(I previously wrote about this issue here).

195 replies
  1. 1
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Would Trump risk using tactical nuclear weapons?

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    Iranian society is thousands of years old. They’re one of the oldest civilisations on the planet. They’re well experienced in warfare, and they have a very strong sense of identity and culture. Invasion of Iran would be beyond foolish. It’s almost impossible. And no one can convince me that Dolt45 would have any solid plan for follow-up. Iraq would look simple next to that.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: They’d do no good and a lot of harm. Both to the Iranians and to what’s left of the US’s reputation. I doubt that Mattis would allow them to be part of any recommendations pushed across to the White House for consideration.

  4. 4

    @Adam L Silverman: Why do you think The Atlantic is shilling for this war? And will our beloved Grey Lady don her cheerleader outfit, like it did for W’s Iraq war?

  5. 5
    germy says:

    The Week Magazine-May 6, 2018

    President Trump’s new personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told reporters Saturday his client is “committed to regime change” in Iran, which Giuliani cast as a way to make Tehran a U.S. and Israeli ally.

  6. 6
    Joe Falco says:

    What took the Roman Empire centuries to collapse completely, Trump is trying to accomplish in a few years. #MakeAmericaWeakAgain

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: I wrote, as a by subject matter request, the cultural operations report on Iran and Hezbullah for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy back in 2013 as a follow up to my report on the Syrian Civil War.

    From the unclassified introduction (and I’m not copying and pasting the footnotes/citations:

    As the Syrian Civil War continues, and the proxy conflict that it masks between several regional actors vying for regional hegemony – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey – it is important to understand one of the major dynamics in the Levant, Arab and Persian Gulf, and Central Asia: the cold war between Sunni and Twelver Shi’a actors for control of what they perceive as their near abroad . Iran, diplomatically isolated and economically sanctioned since 1979, not only perceives itself as a victim – punished for organizing its national politics and society according to the velyati al ulema (rule by the clerics), but also as the inheritor of an ancient, continents spanning civilization that has played a major role in the Levant, the Arab and Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and the South Caspian throughout history. Moreover, Iran, the only majority Twelver Shi’a nation-state to organize itself around a specific understanding of Twelver Shi’ism, sees itself as the advocate, if not the protector, of the interests of Twelver Shi’a throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

    Iran’s location, which spans into and bridges across the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as the Arab and Persian Gulf and the South Caspian places it in a unique geo-strategic space. And this geo-strategic placement provides Iran with a great deal of both theater and geo-strategic leverage should it choose to utilize it. Iran could, without much difficulty, close the Straits of Hormuz, which is the southern Sea Line of Commerce and Communication (SLOCC) for the transshipment of oil, as well as do significant damage to the petroleum processing facilities on the Arab side of the Gulf . At the same time, should Iran decide to flex its geo-strategic muscles, it could also strike at the northern Ground line of Commerce and Communication (GLOCC) for the transshipment of Petroleum: the Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan Pipeline. Moreover, the maintenance of a Twelver Shi’a Strategic corridor through the now Twelver Shi’a dominated Iraq, Alawite controlled Syria, and into Hezbullah controlled South Lebanon further increases the potential regional reach and impact of Iran creating an almost Shi’a near abroad phenomenon.

    The human geography of Iran’s geo-spatial location also has its downsides. It is neighbors to the east, India and Pakistan, are both nuclear weapons states and in involved in their own cold to lukewarm war. Russia, a historic antagonist to the north, though not immediate neighbor, also possesses the remnants of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal. To the west, Israel, a regional rival, also has its own nuclear weapons and an ever more bellicose political leadership when it comes to Iran.

    Additionally from Iran’s point of view it is surrounded; specifically by the United States and its regional allies and partners. Finally, like so much of the Middle East and Central Asia, Iran, and the states with the highest levels of Twelver Shi’a populations within the region have significant youth bulges. This socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural time bomb will only increase pressure on leaders, both Twelver Shi’a and Sunni, throughout the Twelver Shi’a near abroad. In fact the pressures of the youth bulge have already been felt within the various socio-political uprisings referred to as the Arab Spring and may play an even larger role than religious sectarianism, as has been considered in regards to what appeared to be a Twelver Shi’a uprising against the minority Sunni leadership of Bahrain in 2011. This important societal cleavage, between those under 25 and those over, is going to continue to be a driver of discord and upheaval throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. In regards to Iran, as well as the Twelver Shi’a near abroad, it will lead to two major socio-political issues. In the case of Iran, how long will young/younger Iranians be willing to participate in what is, essentially, the façade of democracy that runs in the foreground of the velyati al ulema. In regard to the Shi’a near abroad, at issue will be both the political access and economic opportunities of young/younger Twelver Shi’a majorities or pluralities in states long dominated by Sunni minorities, such as Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and to some extent Syria.

    Iran is the modern inheritor of an ancient culture. It also retains the historical memory of being a Middle Eastern and Central Asian imperial power and is the only Twelver Shi’a theocracy in the world. As a result, much of Iranian identity, at the societal level, revolves around their inheritance of the ancient Persian Empires of the past, being a bridge between East and West, and being the only place that a Twelver Shi’a majority is fully empowered through all aspects of the government. Iran aspires to once more be a great power and to fully live up to its regional and cultural inheritance. It is these aspirations, as well as the desire to show a Western and global community that has largely isolated it since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, that it can compete on the global stage, be a regional power, and develop a nuclear energy capability. The Iranian attempts to demonstrate Iranian (Persian) capability, especially in regard to the strained to hostile relationship with the US and many of its European allies, also demonstrates an additional Iranian identity: the victim. At the societal level, specifically at the elite level of Iran’s leadership they have demonstrated that from the Iranian perspective Iran has been victimized because of the events of and in the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s form of government since then. This is an important identity component to keep in focus when attempting to understand and deal with Iran and its actions.

    A major driver of Iranian identity is the unique nature of its socio-political system. When the Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the Iranian monarchy and established an extreme version of rule by the clerics, a completely new form of government and governance was established . In the foreground of the Iranian government is a representative democratic system with regularly scheduled elections, a legislative assembly, and an executive. Running in the background, and largely opaque to outside observation, is a theocracy controlled by a supreme religious leader, his eleven closest and most senior religious advisors, and a council of experts. Additionally, there is a larger council of clerics that reports to the supreme religious leader and oversees the democratically elected and representative portions of the government. Basically the real Iranian government, the people with the real power and control, are found in the theocratic government, which controls the military, the courts, law enforcement, the media, and even determines who gets to run for office.

    Another unique aspect of Iranian institutions, that itself grows out of and in turn influences Iranian identity, is that Iran’s government and civil society are organized around an ageing revolutionary ethos. Iran has a revolutionary regime that is in between its second and third generation. This is similar to the states that experienced loosely related and somewhat parallel referred to as the Arab Spring.

    The power centers that Iranian government and governance are organized around are directly tied to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. These include the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force, the revolutionary cadre, largely made up of former students that were mobilized on behalf of the Revolution and that took the hostages at the American Embassy, and the clerical establishment based at Qom. And it is here at the intersection of national and societal level identity, unique and hybrid form of governance and government, and the various stakeholders from the 1979 revolution collide. With the next national level elections imminent

    and set to take place on 14 JUN 2013, the seams within the aging revolutionary society and system that is modern Iran are beginning to show.

    During the last set of elections in 2009, a mass societal movement backing a reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, engaged in public protest, civil disobedience, and garnered a great deal of interest outside of Iran; especially in the US. To many it appeared that liberal democratic change had finally begun to take root in Iran. The official outcome of the election followed by charges of ballot rigging and botched counting led to no change in the elected leadership of the country. Mr. Mousavi lost and Mr. Ahmedinijad retained the presidency. While much has been made of the role of social media in Iran’s Green Revolution, as well as in other uprisings across the region, analyses of actual events indicate that social media’s power and efficacy may have been oversold in the initial reporting. Beyond this, what was also missed in all the hype of social media and its role, as well as the hope that a reformer might be elected to the Iranian presidency, was that reformer in regards to Iranian politics and society is a relative concept.

    Mr. Mousavi’s real political profile was far more complicated. He played a critical role in the 1979 revolution by helping to fund the Islamic Party, served as the Iranian Prime Minister in the 1980s, and while he has often been in opposition to the current Supreme Religious Authority, Ayatullah Khamenei, being on the left side of a reactionary revolutionary cadre, movement, and government simply makes one a more moderate, reasonable reactionary. And this oft forgotten and/or ignored reality of Mr. Mousavi’s political, social, and religious history points to the reality behind the Iranian political system: it is a rigged game. Mr. Mousavi, the hoped for reformer of 2009 had to be approved to be on the ballot by those appointed by and loyal to his longstanding political nemesis Ayatullah Khamenei. The democratic system that is running in the Iranian foreground, is completely controlled and dominated by the absolute theocracy that runs in the background. As a result the potential for meaningful political and social change occurring through and because of Iran’s existing political system are highly unlikely.

    In the upcoming election, the Supreme Religious Authority has managed to tamp down a seeming attempt by the current Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, to manipulate the system and produce a Putinesque outcome of installing his handpicked successor and factotum to replace him. In doing so he may have finally insured that his own handpicked choice Ayatullah Velayati, long blocked from the Iranian presidency by other Iranian factions, will finally become president. Should this happen, this will allow for a further consolidation of Iranian political power within the Supreme Religious Leader. And this appears to be the point. As Iran’s system of governance ages, and as the Islamic Republic of Iran moves into the middle of its third decade, tensions have emerged between revolutionary elements that would like to see power shift from the Supreme Religious Authority to themselves and their allies. Despite articles, reports, and analyses that focus on when real change will come to Iran, using the 2009 Green Revolution as the potential exemplar, the real socio-political struggle is between two different factions within the existing socio-political structures of the Islamic Republic.

    This struggle between the establishmentarians represented by the exceedingly conservative Ayatullah Khamenei and the revolutionaries, represented by the even more reactionary Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, is over where power should be vested domestically and just how antagonistic Iran should be within the global system. It is within this context that the pursuit of Iran’s nuclear program needs to be considered. For instance, at one level the ability to refine uranium, process and harness it for domestic energy consumption is intended to demonstrate an Iranian resilience rooted in its historic identity as continent spanning civilization. At another level it is intended to demonstrate that America and her allies can surround, isolate, and sanction Iran and they can still develop this capability. The real question becomes what it means for Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry. At one level Iran’s leadership is rational in the sense that we use the term in International Relations theory – making decisions that will bring the nation and state the greatest rewards. From this perspective, the pursuit of a nuclear energy program allows Iran to get out from under the petroleum race and OPEC’s thumb. Another view is that from Iran’s perspective it is surrounded by America, her allies, and her clients. Two of her immediate neighbors to the east are nuclear weapons states, a neighbor to the west is one as well, and certain American and Israeli politicians and pundits are increasingly bellicose towards Iran.

    As such it would be perfectly rational, from a deterrence perspective, for Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Especially, as Iran pursues its interests in the region in an attempt to assert power against its rivals.

    The wild card in all of this is the Iranian youth bulge. There were three revolutions in Iran in the 20th Century. In all of them three groups had to come together in order to bring about socio-political change: the clerics, the merchants/business class, and young educated intelligentsia. While the aging revolutionary government, cadre, and factions are engaged in their own high stakes game of chess, the young, educated and not so educated, Iranians are perpetually locked out of the game. If actual socio-political change is to occur in Iran at some point the youth bulge that seemed so important and integral to the 2009 Green Movement will have to come together in a meaningful way and organize around the futility of participatory democracy and governance that is a façade.

  8. 8
    Yutsano says:

    @germy: Oh STFU Rudi. We blew that chance by deposing the Mossadegh government way back in 1953. Iranians do not appreciate foreign meddling in their affairs, especially from blowhard led declining superpowers.

  9. 9
    syphonblue says:

    So, what you’re saying is Trump is DEFINITELY going to start a war with Iran?

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: The Atlantic’s editor is an American whose military service was as a prison guard in the Israeli Defense Forces.

    Any other questions?

  11. 11
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: And he made those remarks to a MEK front group.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Jeffro says:

    @germy: Trumpov’s committed to regime change only to a) shore up his base and b) try to save himself as a ‘wartime president’. I’m committed to regime change here at home – preferably by stroke or heart attack.

  14. 14
    piratedan says:

    I’ll counter with this, if you think that logic, reason, planning, logistics and adherence to the law are going to influence this Russian patsy.. then I would kindly ask you to review the last 18 months and recheck your set of assumptions.

    he does not answer to America, the concept of America or adhere to its guidelines of governance.

  15. 15
    TenguPhule says:

    as well as potentially release enough toxic material that will necessitate undertaking an immediate humanitarian assistance, disaster management and mitigation, and emergency response mission alongside offensive military operations.

    Adam, what makes you think Trump or the GOP would give a shit about this?

    I don’t see how any operations commander in the field would bother with humanitarian concerns since following orders to attack Iran would indicate they haven’t got any humanity left.

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    @germy:
    Who the hell is Rudy to be pontificating on foreign policy? His job is to keep President Donald Mundungus Soprano Beeblebrox Rufus T. Trump out of jail.

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lowtechcyclist: These are largely ceremonial appointments. LaPierre is actually in charge regardless of who is the NRA president.

  18. 18
    TenguPhule says:

    @lowtechcyclist:

    Oliver North is going to be the NRA’s next president.

    Irony is fucking dead.

  19. 19
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I doubt that Mattis would allow them to be part of any recommendations pushed across to the White House for consideration.

    If Trump attacks Iran, figure that Mattis will not be in any position of command.

  20. 20
    TenguPhule says:

    @Yutsano:

    Invasion of Iran would be beyond foolish. It’s almost impossible. And no one can convince me that Dolt45 would have any solid plan for follow-up.

    So Trump will attack them before the year is out, is what you’re saying?

  21. 21
    D58826 says:

    Well starting with old bone spurs and working their way thru the entire Trump family as well as Pompeo and Bolton they should strap each one on the first cruse missiles/drones launched in the war.

  22. 22
    TenguPhule says:

    We don’t have enough of the specialized personnel to cover down on all of SOCOM’s missions right now, we certainly don’t have enough of them to fight an asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional war against Iran. Not only that, but US conventional forces are also overstretched and barely able to conduct the missions they already have.

    And none of this matters to Trump or the GOP controlling Congress. They command and the troops must obey.

    This strategy is one of attrition. Leveraging the human geography of Iran – Iran’s people, places, and things – to bog the US military down and inflict such high casualties as quickly as possible in order to destroy support for the war in the US and severely damage the morale of the troops fighting it on the ground. Basically the Iranians, who invented the game of chess, have opted to prepare to play go and to play it for massive psychological effects against the US.

    Unfortunately I can see this does have one flaw. They haven’t gamed out what happens when a complete monster is the one ordering the invasion and who has no problems with war crime level ROE. And given the unenviable choice between war crimes or death, I have little doubt what tired, upset, worn out troops in the field would choose.

  23. 23
    TenguPhule says:

    War with Iran would be so catastrophic to the US it shouldn’t even be contemplated.

    Naturally Trump and the GOP are contemplating it.

    Its the “Who would be stupid enough to” problem.

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s interesting how much of that dynamic is still in play even with the election of a more moderate president like Rouhani. What I really find fascinating is the open defiance of the Sharia law going around, especially with hijab. It’s going to be tougher for the Revolution to keep going under those circumstances. And the worst thing we could do is invade and muck all that up.

  25. 25
    Amir Khalid says:

    A comment of mine appears to have disappeared. Or maybe I forgot to post it. Anyway:
    It seems to me that everyone telling Trump it’s obviously crazy to seek war with Iran is itself one of the things driving him to seek war with Iran. He believes he now has the power to decide what the facts on the ground are, and anyone who tells him different is defying his presidential authority.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: I’ve now briefed these issues to commanding generals, their command groups, and their senior staffs at all 3 Army corps since 2012. All of three of the commanding generals and their people were concerned about these issues should a lawful order be given in regard to military operations in Iran.

  27. 27

    @Adam L Silverman: I have heard that before. What is the significance of being a prison guard. Are we saying that makes him sadistic? Is he a Bibi sympathizer?
    What is NYT’s excuse? IIRC even the PBS Snooze Hour always had many more anti-Iran deal “experts” than pro when the deal was being hashed out.

  28. 28

    two of the President’s most prominent surrogates in regard to Iran – his National Security Advisor Ambassador Bolton and his personal attorney Mayor Giuliani – are actually paid surrogates for the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK)

    This is quite a claim. Do you mean literally paid? Like, with money? And if so, is this legal?

  29. 29
    Jay says:

    The JPCOA is a treaty signed by Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain, agreed to by the US, with Iran, through the offices of the UNSC.

    Just because the US withdraws in a fit of petulent anger, doesn’t mean the Treaty is dead.

  30. 30
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Like I said, I don’t think a general concerned about “lawful orders” is gonna be the one in charge of the attack. I think that Trump’s minions are trying to shop around for those officers willing to piss on the military’s honor in favor of personal “glory”.

  31. 31
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @germy: Good luck with that. Iran is a much stronger military power than Iraq was.

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    Mess with the Persians if you want to.
    It’s a losing prospect.

  33. 33
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I was looking at the op-ed piece by Joshua Muravchik. He is advocating air strikes, not an invasion, to eliminate Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons. He also advocates repeated air strikes to get the job done. He doesn’t appear to mention anything about regime change.

    Of course, his proposal does not detail how the US could ever confirm Iranian compliance with demands that they abandon nukes. He also believes that the US should just suck it up and expect terrorist attacks as a response to US military action.

    Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb.

    Strangely, it doesn’t matter to him whether the casualties are civilian or military.

    These people seem to believe that military action is necessary, even desirable no matter the cost.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: Yep. And I deal with those other issues in other parts of the report. A lot of Iranians, especially the better educated and urban Iranians, want some reforms. What I don’t see is widespread interest in scrapping the whole thing and starting over. And remember there were back in 1979, and still are now, other versions of the concept of rule by the clerics.

  35. 35
    Fair Economist says:

    @lowtechcyclist:

    Oliver North is going to be the NRA’s next president.

    So the NRA will be led by a traitor. Figures.

  36. 36
    Jay says:

    @John Revolta:

    Paid, Bolton’s PAC, and both Bolton and Rudy have been paid large amounts to give short speeches, attend confrences and make video’s.

    It’s sort of legal, at a certain point in time, if what they are doing extends into lobbying or activism, they are supposed to register as Agents of a Foreign Government, like Manifort didn’t.

  37. 37
    trollhattan says:

    Who said the neocons wouldn’t find a place in the Trump admin? They seem well-represented and back to their fixation on getting wars with those two other evil axes.

  38. 38

    Trump is not going to go to war with Iran. If there is anyone with less credibility to tell us what Trump is actually going to do than Rudy Giuliani, I can’t think of them. Actually being in contact with Trump makes him less reliable, because now they’re bullshitting things they don’t mean at each other directly, THEN Rudy goes out to say whatever he thinks sounds good rather than what they discussed. Trump’s cowardice has been overwhelming since he got burned on the Yemen raid. All that angry talk about North Korea? He lied about every action he took. Syria bombings? One turned out to be a total smoke and mirrors show that he got permission from Putin for first. The other was France’s thing and he followed along like the pathetic weak baby he is. MOAB? Military was already doing it. He wasn’t involved. He totally might pull out of the JCPOA, although even that isn’t certain because he’s so incredibly chickenshit. He’s not starting a war.

  39. 39
    Immanentize says:

    Thing is, who would join us? Israel can’t because they have always said it would be bad for the Jewish State to start an open war with an Islamic State. Saudi Arabia? I don’t think internal politics and their own Shia population will allow that. Not NATO.

    We would be going it alone.

  40. 40
    The Moar You Know says:

    Would Trump risk using tactical nuclear weapons?

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Yes, not that it would matter. (He also won’t be allowed to). We can’t win a war against Iran, full stop. Just as much as they could not win a war against us.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: When he decided he needed to seek national service, rather than seek it in the US, he sought it with the Israeli military. And the assignment he was given was in one of the most ethically contentious areas – the prisons that held Palestinians accused of terrorism and similar issues. My understanding is he’s very close to a number of senior Likud officials. How close he is to Netanyahu, I have no idea.

  42. 42
    D58826 says:

    @rikyrah: Maybe Der Fuhrer should start shopping around for 300 good Spartans:-)_

  43. 43
    VeniceRiley says:

    Next to Kurds, Iranians are my favorite middle easterners. Did I ever tell you about the time a guy in Rasht grabbed my ass? No? I almost caught him.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @John Revolta: Yes, paid. That’s why I provided the links. Here’s another one about how MEK operates.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/mek-lobbying_n_913233.html

    It is legal if they stop paying them when they go back into government service. So in Bolton’s case about three weeks ago or so. Given Giuliani isn’t in government service, they can keep paying him. I sure he collected five figures for his appearance over the weekend. Now these former elected and appointed officials, including some Democrats, need to have their Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) ducks in a row. Failure to do that would be a crime.

  45. 45

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks, I didn’t know the details, that helps paint a clearer picture.

  46. 46
    trollhattan says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    And because they’re located where they can easily shut down shipping in the Gulf, can you imagine what they can do to awhl prices? They’re already spiking based on speculation of Trump reimposing sanctions and cutting Iran’s exports.

  47. 47

    Oh, and despite my certainty a war isn’t happening… thank you, Adam, for this post and those like it! It is a very good thing to understand the technical issues involved. You, Cheryl, and Adam are treasures I am glad were brought to this blog.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: Correct. It also goes to the singularly American issue about how the Constitution defines a treaty. Which is an agreement between the US and one or more other states and/or non state actors that is then ratified by the US Senate. This is not how a treaty is defined within international law or by any other country. Everyone else defines a treaty as an agreement between two or more states and/or non state actors.

  49. 49
    rikyrah says:

    Whoopi calls BS on Trump doing anything for the African American community: ‘No one in in their right mind’ #TheView https://t.co/UYwk8FSWJ4

    — Sarah Burris (@SarahBurris) May 7, 2018

  50. 50
    trollhattan says:

    O/T FFS guy who’s not Steve Doocy, knock off the tough-guy act and at least pretend you’re all grown up.

    Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade says Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to become Director of the CIA, should be “proud” of the waterboarding and torture that she oversaw while running a secret prison in Thailand.

    Rather than trying to run away from her record or to conceal the actions, many still classified, of the CIA in the Bush years, Kilmeade and his co-hosts Monday morning encouraged Haspel to put it all on the table and stand by with pride, as The Hill reports.

    Haspel’s confirmation hearing before the Senate on Wednesday is “all going to be about what happened regarding the waterboarding,” co-host Steve Doocy said (video below.) “Just keep in mind, whatever she did when she was in power at that point, she was doing it as a directive and it was all within the law.”

    While it was a directive, that does not make it legal.

    The Fox News co-hosts insisted on calling waterboarding, which is considered torture and is illegal under U.S. and international law, “enhanced interrogation,” a term used by the George W. Bush administration.

    “I believe she should double down and say, ‘I’m proud of what I accomplished, whether it was black sites, enhanced interrogation, and I dare anyone to sit in my shoes and accomplish as much as I’ve done,’” Kilmeade told Haspel to tell Senators. Kilmeade also pointed to two books that he says claim terror attacks were stopped because of CIA torture. That flies in the face of the CIA’s own admissions.

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    #Starbucks to give the two men arrested full-ride scholarships to college… They better had 🙄 https://t.co/7jAA9VRKbc pic.twitter.com/b3k48WzzI0

    — Blavity (@Blavity) May 7, 2018

  52. 52
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Brachiator:

    Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb.

    Is he willing to be one of the casualties when an angry mob shows up to rip his limbs off following the sinking of a carrier battle group and $10/gallon gasoline?

  53. 53
    Chip Daniels says:

    Also too, the Iranians would be fighting for their lives, while the average American doesn’t give a crap about Iran, at least, not enough to tolerate a stream of bodybags and crazy gas prices.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: The problem with his argument is it is made in ignorance, that there is no way to reduce Iran’s nuclear capability without the application of large amounts of Landpower. And even then I’m not sure we have the capability to do it.

  55. 55
    rikyrah says:

    “For 8 years Barack Obama walked on ice and never fell.”

    — Ta-Nehisi Coates pic.twitter.com/QH51yEbeaW

    — Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) May 7, 2018

  56. 56
    Peale says:

    @Brachiator: Jesus. Its always some form of “if not war today, we’ll have war tomorrow. So why not today before it’s too late.” Like its a Columbus Day sale and we’re worried that there won’t be any more sales in the future. Time is running out on this overstocked crap that no one wanted, so come and get it now before you lose your chance.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: We would be going it alone. Even is Saudi wanted to contribute, they don’t have the capability. They can barely hold their own against the Houthis in Yemen.

  58. 58
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The problem with his argument is it is made in ignorance, that there is no way to reduce Iran’s nuclear capability without the application of large amounts of Landpower. And even then I’m not sure we have the capability to do it.

    We could probably do it with nuclear weapons.

    Is he arguing from a place of ignorance or just dishonesty?

  59. 59
    Shell says:

    Hmmm, almost two whole days without any pet pictures? Pleez….we need them, like an innoculation.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The terrain alone is reason to avoid war with Iran. Not to mention all the other things Adam has pointed out.

    Donald Trump has less military experience than a private with a week of boot camp under his or her belt.

    This is fucking madness.

  61. 61

    @Peale:
    They believe only cruelty solves any problem. That’s all of conservatism, and what unites all the Republican branches.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: For some reason I thought I had added my two sentences about that in the post, but hadn’t. I’ve gone back in and added it. Good catch!

  63. 63
    jl says:

    ” it will be like placing one’s hand in a wood chipper and pulling out a stump. ”
    During the Iraq invasion and occupation, the GOPers in the executive and legislative branch didn’t see a problem with that.
    Those enlisted military chumps signed a contract, and the government owned them, they could what they damned well pleased with the troops.
    Like a cheap garden implement you could use and abuse until the handle broke and you threw it away.

    One hope is that the Iran war talk is just a cheap and dangerous political tactic for domestic purposes. Keep the people riled up with scary war talk and international death zombie invaders until after the next election.

    If the NK talks start off well enough to make continued progress this summer and fall, I think many voters will wonder why we can’t do the same thing with Iran, and why the big fuss. Not the die-hard Trumpsters, but sane voters. So, the trick might not work nearly as well here as it would for Likud in Israel.

  64. 64
  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: I believe that a qualified SERE instructor, such as Senior Chief Nance, should be brought in and demonstrate the waterboard on Kilmeade on air tomorrow morning.

    Here’s Nance doing a demo for the BBC:
    https://youtu.be/CCze9AMPRLc

    And here’s Christopher Hitchens being waterboarded:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPubUCJv58

  66. 66
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: CSU is up next for the two Native American brothers from New Mexico.

  67. 67
    jl says:

    @rikyrah Fact that Obama was a very good to great president will be continuing problem. White racists won’t be able to get over it. I tell people Obama will go down in history at a top 10 or 15 president. Definitely above the Grover Cleveland line (my line that divides presidents whose names are commonly recognized versus those whose aren’t). And that will be purely due to his accomplishments, Fact he was first African-American president will be just extra bonus points stuff. Won’t look the same after we have a woman, and a few more minority race/ethnicity, presidents.
    That will be source of continuing irritation to about 25% of the white population, mostly older ones.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Chip Daniels: Those considerations are built into the Iranian’s mosaic strategy.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @But her emails!!!: I’m not even sure nukes would do it. To the point that we’d kill immediately or kill eventually the majority of Iranians because of the strike, it would sort of work. But a lot of these sites are buried deep and hardened.

  70. 70
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Iran looks like it would be Vietnam on growth hormone. And those of us remember how contentious Vietnam was back when America had warm bodies to spare and a draft. Now?

    By the way, Trump would have to draw the young bodies needed for this from the brown and black Americans who he don’t even think deserve respect. White America simply doesn’t have enough Roscoes and Jeffreys to spare with a near-replacement at best birth rate. Nobody is going to volunteer, and a draft would lead to about 60-70 Democratic seats in the Senate, and a lock on the House.

    And nothing Iran could do, short of a terrorist act here, would move Americans to care enough. And Iran is no doubt savvy enough to avoid doing something like that. Instead asymmetrical warfare would be directed towards troops in Iraq and elsewhere.

  71. 71
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Shell: My responsibilities here are war, national security, and recipes. You’ll have to check with some other front pager.

  72. 72
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I would like to think that a war between the US and Iran is not going to happen, but I have zero confidence in the current US administration this score. There are a lot of Republican chickenhawks that will welcome a war and all the potential benefits that this war might bring…..to them and their cronies. All the benefits are pretty much all very short term [patriotic fervor and all], and once the initial hoopla passes they will probably be glad to be relieved of the responsibility of extricating the US from a shooting war. It will be much easier to sit back and snipe and tell the electorate that the Dems made a bad deal.

  73. 73
    Thoughtful David says:

    In addition to the damage to the US caused directly, if we started bombing or invaded Iran without UN and ally approval, which they will never give, the rest of the world will put economic sanctions on us. It will leave our economy a smoking ruin, and we will never recover. The Chinese will pick up the pieces.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The problem with his argument is it is made in ignorance, that there is no way to reduce Iran’s nuclear capability without the application of large amounts of Landpower.

    Makes sense. But I get the impression that Netanyahu believes in the power of air strikes, and hints that if the US doesn’t do it, Israel will.

    I also agree with you, if I understand correctly, that even large amounts of landpower would be a tremendous challenge Here, the people who talk this seem to believe in a fantasy of regime change in which the country magically throws off their current government and embraces whoever the US backs.

  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: All Millard Filmore presidencies matter!!!!

  77. 77
    Mandalay says:

    @trollhattan: Kilmeade saying “I believe she should double down and say, ‘I’m proud of what I accomplished…”, while carefully avoiding the use of the term “waterboarding”.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  78. 78
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m not even sure nukes would do it. To the point that we’d kill immediately or kill eventually the majority of Iranians because of the strike, it would sort of work. But a lot of these sites are buried deep and hardened.

    Aren’t nuclear weapons capable of collapsing even extremely hardened structures, deep under the ground?

  79. 79
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I can’t believe we’re relitigating torture a decade later. This is their “fix” for eight, okay, nine years of telling us Obama was weak. For some reason I’m also reminded of Mitt’s double-Guantanamo promise. Probably because he’s riding a magic carpet to the Senate where he can finagle some sweet committee assignments and begin making policy.

  80. 80
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Clearly, Adam, you’re too sissy to throw the unquestioned military might of these here Yewnited States of ‘Murka up agin’ them atheistical muslin fanatics in EYE-ran. John Wayne movies and Ronnie Reagan done showed us the way on beatin’ up on countries that get too big fer their britches.

    I’m sure that nuthin’ bad will come of israel’s 7 million pickin’ a fight with the 80 million Iranians that border the Straights of Hormuz, ‘cuz they got us ‘Murkans backin’ them up…

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: Israel has a similar problem to the US, the Israeli Air Force leadership continually oversells what it can accomplish with air strikes. They claimed victory during the last foray into south Lebanon to clear out Hezbullah. Sure, they blew up a lot of stuff, including the same apartment building they blow up every single time. But they did absolutely nothing to effectively degrade, attrit, and/or reduce Hezbullah and its capabilities.

  82. 82
    Jay says:

    @Thoughtful David:

    I doubt it. China and Russia might propose and vote for UNSC Sanctions, but nobody else will.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @But her emails!!!: Yes, but…

    You’ll have to ask Cheryl, this is really her area.

  84. 84
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    My responsibilities here are war, national security, and recipes.

    Floriduh man madness too.

  85. 85
    TenguPhule says:

    @But her emails!!!:

    Aren’t nuclear weapons capable of collapsing even extremely hardened structures, deep under the ground?

    Yes and no.

    After a certain point they’re better at collapsing all access to a hardened structure then destroying the structure itself when its deep and hard enough.

  86. 86
    Elie says:

    War with Iran only makes sense if you are trying to destroy the United States. I have been convinced that this is the goal for over a year and each day new evidence of that can be observed. I hope that he and this administration and its cronies can be stopped, but I am not sure Its seems things keep getting worse and worse and nothing is happening to stop it. So yes, we are through the looking glass!

  87. 87
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Teamwork! I feel like the kid who found a missing puzzle piece between the sofa cushions. :-)

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    These people seem to believe that military action is necessary, even desirable no matter the cost.

    These are the same people who want to ban abortion and birth control in the name of “morality” and don’t care how many thousands of Americans will die or be injured because of it. As far as they’re concerned, it’s Right and Good for them to demand that other people die for their “moral values.”

  89. 89
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: That’s covered under the first two and occasionally the third one too!

  90. 90
    trollhattan says:

    Florida man. That Florida man.

    George Zimmermann, the man who gained infamy in 2012 for the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, has been charged with allegedly stalking a private investigator — a misdemeanor in the state of Florida.

    Honestly surprised he hasn’t gotten himself killed by now.

  91. 91
    Immanentize says:

    @trollhattan:
    I just want to hear one of these pro-waterboarding asses say out loud that it is OK for American citizens to be waterboarded by other countries.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: I had pulled some stuff from a comment I wrote on this the other day, then reworked it. Apparently I deleted more than I should have and thought I had.

    So I appreciate the assist.

  93. 93
    Gravenstone says:

    @Yutsano: We blew another potential chance when W rebuffed Iran’s tentative rapprochement following 9/11.

  94. 94
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan:

    Honestly surprised he hasn’t gotten himself killed by now.

    Unfortunately, it is likely to happen. He’s going to eventually pull his stupid, hyper aggressive crap on the wrong person and either that person will terminally perforate him, the cops who respond will, or he’ll terminally perforate someone in a way that he can’t get out of, and the state will eventually execute him.

  95. 95
    Mandalay says:

    So when Trump attacked Syria without asking Congress for a permission slip Ryan was very quick to insist that no permission slip was needed; it was all covered by the 2001 AUMF.

    IANAL but that argument seemed really weak, and arguing that an attack on Iran under AUMF would be justified would seem to be absurd. But I don’t see anyone in Congress saying Trump better not try attacking Iran without a permission slip.

    And the situation with Iran is qualitatively different to that with Syria: no terrorists, no civil war, no chemical weapons, no mass killings, no violation of borders.

    What would be the Administration’s legal justification for an attack on Iran now?

  96. 96
    VeniceRiley says:

    I bet we can keep the Iran agreement intact if the Mullahs off a TRUMP TOWER: Tehran
    That’s all it would take for Bolton and Bibi to be shown the door with Trump’s crew.

  97. 97
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gravenstone: Correct. The same geniuses also kept us from flipping the tribes for several more years, which increased the casualties among US forces, coalition forces, and among the Iraqis.
    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/05/iraqi-insurgents200905

  98. 98
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I imagine North will dive into being the public face of the NRA with gusto, though. Gives him a chance to relive his ‘gung ho’ glory days (such as they were in his mind). Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he didn’t also break out the old Class A’s and fruit salad, for effect.

  99. 99
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I try not to police what other people wear, especially women, but for Deity’s sake, someone please get Ms. Haspell some appropriate business attire for her meetings with members of the Senate!

  100. 100
    Jay says:

    @But her emails!!!:

    Nope. Most nukes are airburst weapons, creating a massive but quickly dissapating surface shockwave and fireball. This minimizes, compared to a groundburst, radioactive contamination.

    The US retired it’s old early Cold War Nuclear Bunker Busters, abandoned the repacement program to create a new one due to costs and other issues, and is currently exploring the ability to modify the B-61 into a new model with limited bunker busting abilities.

    The reality is, Iran hasn’t had a nuclear weapons program since 2003, but within 6 months to a year of a US Strike on Iran, they would have functional nuclear weapons.

  101. 101
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay:

    What would be the Administration’s legal justification for an attack on Iran now?

    I have no idea. But it won’t be covered under the 2001 AUMF.

  102. 102
    arrieve says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Coming to this thread late as usual, but I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Iran in 2015 (at the time when it looked like the sanctions were finally going to be lifted) and my admittedly unprofessional opinion based on that limited experience is that it would be beyond idiotic to go to war with them. Invading Iraq turned out to be a colossal blunder; going to war with a nation with a 2500-year history and a very very strong sense of national identity would be so much worse. The average Iranian thinks — or did think, pre-Trump — very highly of the United States. People were very excited to meet Americans, and told us over and over, “We love America! We love Obama!” They have a young, highly educated population eager to engage with the rest of the world. I know — let’s make them our enemies!

  103. 103
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gravenstone: I got this from one of my USMC friends an hour or so ago:

    …and now we will have a liar as the next pres of the NRA…good grief! I can’t stand North.

  104. 104
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @arrieve: No arguments here.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    efgoldman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Would Trump risk using tactical nuclear weapons?

    He might. But it won’t accomplish what he or the mustache of evil says/thinks/hopes it will

  107. 107
    But her emails!!! says:

    @efgoldman:

    He might. But it won’t accomplish what he or the mustache of evil says/thinks/hopes it will

    Are we certain that their goal isn’t to make the US an international pariah state?

  108. 108
    VeniceRiley says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I try not to police what other people wear, especially women, but for Deity’s sake, someone please get Ms. Haspell some appropriate business attire for her meetings with members of the Senate!

    I’m fem and co-sign. That ill-fitting pink blazer is a disaster! But hey, I saw on the Twitter @nadabakos is saying if Haspell fails, Sue Gordon could be the nominee for CIA. What do you think?

  109. 109
    efgoldman says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    President Donald Mundungus Soprano Beeblebrox Rufus T. Trump out of jail.

    What’s the fare for sending the intartoobz winnings to Malaysia?

  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mandalay:

    What would be the Administration’s legal justification for an attack on Iran now?

    “Because we say so.”

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @arrieve:

    People were very excited to meet Americans, and told us over and over, “We love America! We love Obama!”

    Unfortunately, this is not something that Trump wants to hear.

  112. 112
    J R in WV says:

    @Jay:

    The JPCOA is a treaty signed by Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain, agreed to by the US, with Iran, through the offices of the UNSC.

    You left out one important signatory member of the JPCOA ::: The European Union !! All of ’em.

  113. 113
    TenguPhule says:

    Trump calls on Congress to pull back $15 billion in spending, including on Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    Speaking of stupid self-inflicted catastrophes….

    Trump is sending a plan to Congress that calls for stripping back more than $15 billion in previously approved spending, with the hope that it will temper conservative angst over ballooning budget deficits.

    Almost half of the proposed cuts would come from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that White House officials said expired last year or are not expected to be drawn upon. An additional $800 million in cuts would come from money created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to test innovative payment and service delivery models.

    Those are just a handful of the more than 30 programs the White House is proposing to Congress for “rescission,” a process of culling back money that was previously authorized. Once the White House sends the request to Congress, lawmakers have 45 days to vote on the plan or a scaled-back version of it through a simple majority vote.

  114. 114
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    All Millard Filmore presidencies matter!!!!

    Eh? Someone call my name? The real President Millard is spelled with 2 Ls … Fillmore.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millard_Fillmore

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @VeniceRiley: I don’t know either one. My understanding is that Gordon is Senior Analytical Service, not ops. That would be a good and interesting choice, but I’m not sure how it would play at Langley.

  116. 116
    Gravenstone says:

    @But her emails!!!: Only if they themselves are underground. As with all explosions, if it’s not contained in some fashion, the vast majority of energy is expended upward and outward.

  117. 117
    rikyrah says:

    @TenguPhule:

    KAY,

    did you see this?

    Trump is sending a plan to Congress that calls for stripping back more than $15 billion in previously approved spending, with the hope that it will temper conservative angst over ballooning budget deficits.

    Almost half of the proposed cuts would come from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that White House officials said expired last year or are not expected to be drawn upon. An additional $800 million in cuts would come from money created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to test innovative payment and service delivery models.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @J R in WV:

    All of ’em.

    That’s: “All of them Katie” to you!

  119. 119
    Archon says:

    The Iranians response to Trump abrogating our treaty with them depends on how they view U.S political trend lines. If the Iranians view this current Trump regime as a reactionary but unpopular right-wing government not long for this world then my guess is Iran will try to de-escalate. That in concrete terms would be for Iran to still agree to the terms of the treaty even without U.S participation. If they believe Americans have gone down a darker path and have truly cast aside the Obama vision for America’s role in the world and that Trump represents the “true America”, of a callous, untrustworthy, aggressive nation, then war is inevitable and their best bet is to restart their nuclear program in haste.

  120. 120
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Millard Filmore:

    The real President Millard is spelled with 2 Ls … Fillmore.

    His presidency matters too!

  121. 121
    Gravenstone says:

    @trollhattan: Give him time. Just hope he can minimize the collateral damage until entropy claims him.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    They would rather be “right” than actually succeed. In fact, failure only increases their desire to double down and prove that their way is morally right. They literally don’t care if their way works as long as it fits their ideology.

  123. 123

    @Mandalay:
    Always remember that Syria bombing was France’s idea. Trump went along with it so he wouldn’t look weak, and so he could warn Putin.

  124. 124
    J R in WV says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    My responsibilities here are war, national security, and recipes. You’ll have to check with some other front pager.

    Oh, come on! We know you have dogs!!! Give it up, show us how cute they are!!!!

  125. 125
    germy says:

    I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018

    Trump did not need to make this decision tomorrow. The deadline for action won’t come until May 12, when the president will need to renew a waiver on America’s nuclear sanctions against Iran — or else, violate the terms of the Obama-era agreement that froze Tehran’s atomic weapons program.

    The first option has much to recommend it: The agreement has successfully halted Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, according to international inspectors; America’s European allies insist that they will continue to honor the deal even if the U.S. pulls out (and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has vowed to return the favor); and the White House is currently trying to persuade North Korea to denuclearize, a task that requires convincing Pyongyang that the U.S. can be trusted to uphold its promises to rogue states.
    On the other hand, the Iran deal was a “win” for Barack Obama; Israel doesn’t like it; and Trump promised on the campaign trail to tear it up.

  126. 126
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Immanentize:

    I just want to hear one of these pro-waterboarding asses say out loud that it is OK for American citizens to be waterboarded by other countries.

    In case you encounter a comment that waterboarding is not torture, after WW2 the US government executed at leats 1 Japanese soldier for only that crime …
    http://www.politifact.com/virg.....se-war-cr/
    https://www.google.com/search?ei=Ea_wWp_vIKzIjwTf762IDg&q=waterboarding+japan&oq=japan+water+board

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @J R in WV: I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations at this time.

  128. 128
    chris says:

    @Elie:

    War with Iran only makes sense if you are trying to destroy the United States.

    I thought of that, too. Go to war, lose and return home to lick wounds and get on with creating a utopian white homeland. War with Iran also gives an excuse for withdrawing troops from all those places that “aren’t paying their fair share.” Two birds, etc.

    And don’t forget all the lovely money. Crude oil is up about 65% in the last year so people are already making bank and the sky’s the limit if war happens.

  129. 129
    Adam L Silverman says:

  130. 130
    Tokyokie says:

    Here’s a real simple question to pose to those wanting to go to war with Iran: If airstrikes alone are not sufficient to degrade Iran’s nuclear capabilities (and as Adman and others have pointed out, they aren’t) and a land invasion is required, just where would such an invasion originate? The best option would be Iraq; do you think the Shi’a in Iraq would permit such an operation? Do you think it could be mounted from southern Afghanistan, given that it’s landlocked and resupply would be challenging and the country is largely hostile to the U.S.? Southeastern Pakistan, when high-ranking U.S. officials have already loudly voiced their lack of faith in Pakistani leadership in GWOT? Armenia? Turkmenistan? Figure out how to move several thousand pieces of armor and artillery into Iran and keep them resupplied and get back to me.

  131. 131
    J R in WV says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    OK with me, Katie!

  132. 132

    @Tokyokie: That’s why the Orange One wants to create a space force. He is going to beam the troops there, directly. They will be all wearing red shirts.

  133. 133
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That has “Hilarity Ensues” written all over it.

  134. 134
    TenguPhule says:

    @Tokyokie:

    If airstrikes alone are not sufficient to degrade Iran’s nuclear capabilities (and as Adman and others have pointed out, they aren’t) and a land invasion is required, just where would such an invasion originate?

    By sea.

    Normandy II, the brown water version. //

  135. 135
    Spanky says:

    Just remember that Trump is the corporeal embodiment* of Cleek’s Law. He’ll shitcan the JCPOA and head for war if it fires up his base. If it freaks out the libtards it’ll fire up his base.

    QE f’n D

    (* – Is that redundant?)

  136. 136
    Jay says:

    @Archon:

    The US Fed has since day one of the agreement, winkled new financial sanctions against Iran, greatly limiting the economic effects, ( mostly with the EU), of the sanctions lifted by the JPCOA. Russia and China not so much.

    Iran has already responded to the US being a less than honest signatory, by using it for domestic propaganda purposes to undermine reformers and rally the Public.

    From the US, under the JPCOA, Iran has gotten the release of sanctioned and embargoed funds, held in the US, plus interest, dating back to the Revolution. The US has made it pretty clear that’s all they are going to get.

    For Iran, it doesn’t make much difference if Treason Twitler stays in, or bails.

    The two biggest problems caused if the US bails are:

    – the isolation of the US on all Iranian matters at the UNSC,

    – how the EU will react to the US’s “bad faith” moves, most importantly, on the intersection of US Fed financial santions agreements with the EU Financial sector,

  137. 137
    TenguPhule says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    He is going to beam the troops there, directly. They will be all wearing red shirts.

    Space Marine Drop Pods dropped by Battle Barges.

  138. 138
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I got this from one of my USMC friends

    And a convicted felon, also too.
    (Overturned on a technicality. What the RWNJs at the time called “coddling criminals”)

  139. 139
  140. 140
    Sloane Ranger says:

    While I think that Trump will pull out of the deal I don’t believe that he will go to war with Iran or use nukes.He’s all piss and wind.

    He will probably put in place tough sanctions and tell the mouth breathing morons that starvation will bring the evil Muslims to their knees. Then move on to fuck up something else.

    Even if history supported him in this idea,
    the other signatories have all said they want to keep the Treaty going, so, providing Iran agrees, while sanctions will certainly have an effect, they will be mitigated by trade with other countries.

    Later, if any one remembers to bring up the subject he will announce that it is the winninest policy that has ever won and Iran’s total collapse is only days away…oh look nice new shiny object.

  141. 141
    germy says:

    Onion headline:

    Lindsey Graham Vows To Uphold John McCain’s Legacy By Blindly Supporting GOP Agenda After Grumbling For A Few Minutes

  142. 142
    J R in WV says:

    Am I the only person that suspects the Iranian military and political/religious leadership has studied and restudied the Millennium Challenge 2002 war games and everything ever published about those strategic war games? Including Lt Gen (Retired) Paul Van Ripper’s opinion, not to mention his strategies that resulted in a resounding defeat of the Blue Team (American) forces in the first days of the war!

    Probly not, huh…

    Will Trump be able to resist sending Iran a demand that they surrender immediately? Probly not, whut… Which would be a legitimate reason for Iran to attack all American forces, and forces allied with America, within reach of their military.

    Probably including all the Petro-Ports in the Persian Gulf, also, too. Which would send petroleum crude prices into low earth orbit, if not higher than that.

    I’m sure there are economists who can tell us what removing the Persian Gulf related crude supply from the world economy will do to the real world price of fuel and feed stocks using well defined modeling tools. I’m happy to go with astronomically high. Right now in Europe gasoline prices run from $4.50 to $8.00, lots higher than here. After this kind of shock, I wouldn’t be surprised to see regular gas in the US costing $12 or more immediately, and much higher once hoarding starts.

    What will that do to the auto industry? How many SUVs and F-150s will Ford sell at that price level??? Around zero except for military purchases would be my bet. How happy will CEOs be with Drumpf at that point? Not at all…

  143. 143
    trollhattan says:

    @efgoldman:
    AND had ACLU help in the process. Yeah, Ollie is a poster child, lucky duck division, who will never acknowledge just how lucky he is, nor thank those responsible.

  144. 144
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @J R in WV: Of course they have. It’s why they’ve developed the strategy they have.

  145. 145
    trollhattan says:

    @J R in WV:
    To think Ford just declared themselves basically out of the car bidnez to concentrate on sweet high-margin trucks and SUVs. Timing, people.

  146. 146
    Yutsano says:

    @efgoldman: Ahem.
    Walrus of Doom plz.
    With apologies to all walrii out there.

  147. 147

    I keep thinking back to that war game https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002 where we staged a planned attack on “Red” (cough Iran cough) and the general in charge of Red used that asymmetrical warfare method to subvert U.S. tech advantage and even sank a significant portion of our fleet within 24 hours (!!!), forcing the game planners to “reset” the game and ordered the Red general to play “by the rules.”

    We’re going to go in without enough troops, with aging planes and ships – Jesus Christ where did all that trillions of dollars go the last 20 years??? – and relying on a gameplan the Iranians will NEVER abide by. If this war happens it’s going to be the biggest fiasco since the Battle of Bladensburg.

  148. 148
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I’ve now seen it all:

  149. 149
    MomSense says:

    If Trump and Bibi do get this war they want so badly, it is going to be a disaster for both our countries.

  150. 150
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Melania must think we’re all crazy and don’t see that it is her husband who has been abusive online. How is she going to promote civility when her own husband is a bully?

  151. 151
    Weaselone says:

    @PaulWartenberg:
    I believe we spent it developing new equipment that in many cases underperforms existing equipment. I’m sure we developed lots of new and interesting tech for the Russians and Chinese to steal and use in effective designs, so we have that going for us.

  152. 152
    Jay says:

    @J R in WV:

    The Persian Gulf supply’s roughly 27% of the global oil supply, 33% of the Natural Gas and contains 66% of the reserves.

    When just Iraq’s production was constrained by Chimpy McStagger’s Dubya Dubya Me Too, oil spiked past $150 a barrel, so about 60% more than current prices.

  153. 153
    Peale says:

    @Sloane Ranger: Yeah that’s what I think, too. My guess is that he’ll run around giving “bills” to the other signatories for past military services to embarrass them like he does Merkel. And then they’ll ignore him. If the trade “negotiations” that just ended with the Chinese are any indication, its simply not worth wasting a month or two sitting across from administration negotiators and get handed some kind of list of demands afterwards that waste everyone’s time and are insulting (seriously, they might as well demand that the Chinese start importing vast quantities of opium).

  154. 154

    It’s all and only about regime change, because it’s all and only about revenge for 1979. (The Israelis may have their own concerns, but no one in DC is listening to them. This one has a self-sufficient momentum all its own that has been locked in rock for 39 years.)

  155. 155
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ah, that takes me back. We used to go to Bournemouth every year and we’d visit both of those attractions. Happy days!

  156. 156
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The UAE has long relied on Foreign Generals in it’s Military and Security Forces. Used to be exclusively Brits, but about a decade ago they started hiring Ozzies as well.

  157. 157
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: I’m aware. There’s an Ozzie referenced in the article as well. He commands the Presidential Guard.

  158. 158
    TenguPhule says:

    @PaulWartenberg:

    Jesus Christ where did all that trillions of dollars go the last 20 years???

    Bullets, missiles, bodybags.

    Wars are fucking expensive.

  159. 159
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Pack it up Onion, you’ll never top this.

  160. 160
    wjs says:

    These details are great. We should not go to war against Iran! We should do whatever we can to encourage a velvet revolution as the old guard dies off.

    That being said, Trump doesn’t do “details.” His PDB consists of pictures and simplified grammar.

    I expect we’ll be at war soon. This is how we live now! Yay for the economic anxiety of a bunch of hicks.

  161. 161
    wjs says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I just read that article. He seems like an ass clown. Used to make money offering breast enhancements of some kind or another. Probably no risk to his O-5 pension being a potentate in a foreign land, amirite? What does he do when someone decides to reactivate him to active duty?

  162. 162
    TenguPhule says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    While I think that Trump will pull out of the deal I don’t believe that he will go to war with Iran or use nukes.He’s all piss and wind.

    I’m afraid that he’s only been wind because some of the assholes under him threw up roadblocks.

    Unfortunately, he’s gotten rid of most of them or is listening to them less and less.

    I think his desire to prove he’s not the chickenshit we and everyone else are calling him is going to make him do something really stupid.

  163. 163
    Mary G says:

    My personal knowledge of Iranians is pretty much limited to college 1972-1976. Since BillinGlendale is probably asleep, I can disclose that it was the hated University of Southern California.

    (I hated it too, because I went off planning to be a hippie Berkeley-style radical, only to find a bunch of rich Republican brats hanging Hanoi Jane Fonda in effigy. A full scholarship for four years except one $800 loan that ended up being forgiven made that a moot point.)

    But there were a ton of rich Iranians enrolled, all mostly from families aligned with the Shah that saw the writing on the wall and wanted their kids to be able to navigate the US if needed. After some cultural clashes involving their concept of free love, we got along great. My junior year, everyone but my roommate and myself on the floor of our apartment was an Iranian man. I’ve run into a few of them here and there and even after the revolution, they were still patriotic Persians. They may hate the ayatollahs, but the love their country and its traditions. I have no doubt that if Trump is stupid enough to start a war, they will be on the other side despite being naturalized Americans.

    It seems so insane, and I am sure Matthis is holding strong, but he’s getting pretty outnumbered in the cabinet. I am much more worried since Bolton and Giuliani came in. I hope more of the military brass will hold out, but the culture of Republicans is so authoritarian it’s alarming.

  164. 164
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    It’s quite an interesting dynamic. UAE doesn’t lack for the money or Officers to promote from with in,

  165. 165
    Jay says:

    @wjs:

    “We should do whatever we can to encourage a velvet revolution as the old guard dies off.”

    Iranian’s should choose how they want to be governed, all on their own. The Western track record of “assisting, aiding and encouraging” others in Governmental change isn’t great.

  166. 166
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: I’ve dealt with a number of their senior officers when I was assigned at USAWC. So it is a weird thing. Especially given how a lot of the more senior folks are related to members of the royal family.

  167. 167
    frosty fred says:

    I had Iranian visitors in 2007 who described a new tourist venture in the country; when others of us responded with polite interest, as one does, we were cautioned that visiting the Iranian countryside was not advisable for Americans. Flash forward to 2013 and after I gave a talk in Doha I was invited to repeat it in Iran, “it’s perfectly safe!” I wonder where we stand on that spectrum now. (I realize the second invitation was not to the countryside, but still, the impression is different).

  168. 168
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Yup, can’t tell if the UAE’s buying loyalty, buying Combat Command Staff experience, or buying continued networking to Western Militaries given Yemen, or all three.

  169. 169
    efgoldman says:

    @Yutsano:

    Walrus of Doom plz.

    His mustache is big enough to handle multiple derogatory names.

  170. 170
  171. 171
    Yutsano says:

    @efgoldman: Duly noted and accepted. I just wish he had been shamed from his last go in DC too badly. Here’s hoping he mouths off enough to get all the attention. Then he’s out like Flynn*

    *Or however that goes.

  172. 172
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: There’s a huge push on, whether it is driven by actual need or by big US contractors pushing it, to try to professionalize the militaries in Saudi and the Gulf states. Specifically to make them joint. Booz has the contract for this for Saudi, as well as to run the Saudi war college equivalent. And I know that actual US military personnel have been sent to work on this too. In Saudi it is done through the Office of the Program Manager for Saudi Arabia. Back in 2015 I was pinged by a 2 star I’ve known for years who had a bunch of his kiddies being pulled to go and run some training for Saudi police forces. He asked me to build a paper on how Saudis learn. Which I did.

    Lack of that kind of knowledge is often the biggest issue with these programs. We send trainers and educators down – either currently serving or contractors – and they treat the classroom just like they would for a group of American students. That won’t work at all. Saudis, as well as all other Arabs, are high context communicators. They are polychronic in their understanding of time. In the case of the Saudis and a lot of the Arabs in the Gulf States, they’re tribal – so near relationships are important. All sorts of things that have to be accounted for if a training mission is going to be a success. And all too often these things have been ignored.

  173. 173
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @frosty fred: From what I’ve been given to understand from a couple of Arabs I knew who had spent time in Iran (not themselves Persians though) the population in the countryside and rural areas generally in Iran are quite conservative/religious and a lot more supportive of the “regime” in Teheran than the urban dwellers in the bigger cities. The Green Revolution of a few years ago that brought the American “regime changers” to orgasm was almost all concentrated in the cities, the rural majority were not supportive of the calls for change. The world press was based in the big cities and never mentioned the support the clerics had from those people.

    Iran, like a lot of such countries is urbanising as the younger people move to the big cities for work and education and other opportunities and the balance will shift as the countryside depopulates but right now, I think, the conservatives are in charge if the majority have any say in it (unlike America, rocks and trees in Iran don’t get to vote).

  174. 174
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Jay:

    When just Iraq’s production was constrained by Chimpy McStagger’s Dubya Dubya Me Too, oil spiked past $150 a barrel, so about 60% more than current prices.

    And who benefits from sharply higher oil prices?

  175. 175
    Yutsano says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s my understanding part of the reason why the Saudi military is so ineffective has to do with how inflexible their command structure is. It’s getting better, but doesn’t it usually a scout will make a report which then has to go through several layers of command. It’s supposed to keep the soldiers from making too many decisions outside the upper military command structure but it also hampers their ability to respond to situations.

  176. 176
    Jay says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    US Frackers, Russians, Tar Sands, Nigerians, and a few others.

    Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi, Qatar, etc will have a hard time exporting.

  177. 177
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: Best parade and demonstration army that money could buy and equip!

  178. 178
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    How dare you suggest that Americans will go to other countries and assume that everyone lives, acts, thinks the same as they do and not only won’t mind but rejoice at a visit from what could only be described as…..

    Ugly Americans.
    ETA and no that’s not a band name. I saw the same people when in the navy, they expected everything to be like they wanted it.

  179. 179
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    polychronic

    I did not realize this was a thing. Now it’s making me wonder if I’m naturally polychronic and stuck in a monochronic society. 🤔

  180. 180

    Thanks, Adam. I’ve just gotten home from being out most of the day. I used that first map in a presentation I gave a couple of weeks ago. Good one.

    It’s important to go through what it would actually take to bomb Iran. Policy people who have never actually made something happen by their direct supervision tend to think that words are enough. They aren’t.

  181. 181
    Tokyokie says:

    I thought a few years back when the deal with Iran was reached that relations between Iran and the U.S. would thaw, leading to more bilateral trade. But der fucking Trumpenführer had to go and fuck things up and keep those wonderful Iranian pistachios from U.S. grocery shelves. I may hate him for this more than everything else.

  182. 182
    frosty fred says:

    @frosty fred: (In the interests of delayed accuracy: 2004, not 2007.)

  183. 183
    Weaselone says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I assume that bombing Iran would involve Trump going “bomb Iran next Tuesday and the military would have to do the best it could on the fly.”

  184. 184
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You’re welcome. I’ve been using that first map in briefings and reports and assessments on this issue since 2012. At the 3 star and higher level. I live by the rule that if I can find a graphic and validate it, then it saves me the time to create it, which I can put to better use.

    And complete agreement on these policy people you reference. Though some of them really should be called “policy” people.

  185. 185
    Jay says:

    @Tokyokie:

    It wasn’t just Treason Tribble. The Iranians continued to modernize their missile forces and the Ususal Suspects and their Lobbiests yelled, and yelled, and yelled about something that wasn’t in the JPOCA or ever would be.

    There’s a ton of offshore money on K Street to make sure Iran get’s yelled about.

  186. 186

    @But her emails!!!: It depends on how hardened and how big a nuclear bomb. My guess is that we could close down the entries and shake up the contents, but the Iranians could mine back in and wouldn’t have to start from zero.

    Of course, all that would convince them that they really did need nuclear weapons.

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Israel as a hostage, much the same role that Seoul plays for North Korea.

  187. 187
    Jay says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    There’s also that pesky little problem that some of the best Iranian research takes place in downtown Tehran, at the University.

  188. 188
    Chris says:

    @Gravenstone:

    @Yutsano: We blew another potential chance when W rebuffed Iran’s tentative rapprochement following 9/11.

    This. It’s kind of an obscenity that relations with Iran weren’t restored right after 9/11. Common enemies and all that.

  189. 189
    Chris says:

    @arrieve:

    People were very excited to meet Americans, and told us over and over, “We love America! We love Obama!” They have a young, highly educated population eager to engage with the rest of the world. I know — let’s make them our enemies!

    Pissing away the potential for friendship with Iran no matter how favorable the conditions is an American tradition that goes all the way back to 1953.

  190. 190
    Chris says:

    @Archon:

    The Iranians response to Trump abrogating our treaty with them depends on how they view U.S political trend lines. If the Iranians view this current Trump regime as a reactionary but unpopular right-wing government not long for this world then my guess is Iran will try to de-escalate.

    Here’s the problem: Trump, in isolation, is one thing, Trump, this soon after Bush, is another. It’s a sign that he isn’t an aberration, that there’s something in the water of the American governing class, and that it’s impossible to make deals with the U.S. because in a few short years, a president’s going to roll around who’ll nullify whatever you just did.

  191. 191
    Gvg says:

    We have sanctioned and frozen assets of specific Russians. Could other countries do something like that to Trump and company if say they were actually committing war crimes? How about his trade war actions? His taking bribes…he supposedly has a lot of foreign assets that make him vulnerable though now we are seeing hints he’s just a front for Russian mobsters…those Scottish and Irish golf courses….
    If any of his money laundering gets proved, seems like other countries would be justified in confiscating or freezing when we are kind of frozen because of the politics of it.
    It’s not like they don’t know it’s not all Americans.

  192. 192
    wjs says:

    @Jay: Which is why a “Velvet Revolution” would be preferable to anything Trump can come up with. Google it!

  193. 193
    The Pale Scot says:

    I have zero optimism that the morons running this government are going to avoid this. Simply because the only part of the “Base” that can organize and exert influence are the Dominionist Xtians who see WW3 as a positive thing to look forward to (Jeebus is Coming!!) + (White is Right!). I always expected that I’d be revealed and mocked as a doomsday nutter in my twilight years, Now I’m getting flashes of me being Capt. Jack Harkness kissing Ianto and Gwen goodbye

    As the commenter on uTube posted;

    You know you’re screwed when the guy who is physically unable to die says the words “We’re dead.”

    The rot is so deep, cultivated as to one third third thinks that they’re going to meet Christ before they die, and another third’s life philosophy is “Fuck Your Feelings”. I’ve lived a crazy life, known people that were enforcers for criminal operations, and I’m sure some of those guys would listen to the thought processes of these people sit back and call them sickos.

    Eight months ago I gave up internet to get some distance from the news. Then my landlord surprised me and did a short sale of my house so where I’m currently staying has internet. I’m too much a news junkie I can’t stop myself from looking.

    Where exactly was Ted Kazinsky living?

  194. 194
    Procopius says:

    @TenguPhule:

    If Trump attacks Iran, figure that Mattis will not be in any position of command.

    It’s a little ambiguous. The Secretary of is in the chain of command, and by law exercises operational control over the armed forces of the U.S. second only to the President. In the past, though, at least since 1947, Secretaries of Defense have not actually exercised any direct operational control of units in combat. I don’t think Mattis would be in any position to overrule the President if Trump decided to directly order the use of tactical nuclear weapons. This is a worrisome situation, because I have seen estimates, and I believe them, that twenty “tactical” nuclear weapons would be enough to create a “nuclear winter.” Of course, apart from that there’s the danger that other players would take it as a signal that they were free to use their own nuclear weapons.

  195. 195
    Procopius says:

    @Mandalay:

    What would be the Administration’s legal justification for an attack on Iran now?

    Support of our allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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