Military Force May be Necessary, but
Cleaver Strategy is Sufficient
Much has been said about immanent
US attack on
Iran, while the leadership in
confidant that such an attack would not take place, others have been offering
scenarios on possible and form of Iranian response. There seem to be a common
thread in almost all of these suggestions on possibility and extent of Iranian
response. In general, most of these reports assume that from such a conflict
Iran will emerge damaged and
sufficiently weakened to stop its' unfriendly posture toward west and
particularly the United
States. I happen to believe that this is not
entirely true; damaged maybe but not weak enough to abandon its position. Why?
Because history has persistently proven two important points that a) no military
undertaking can be planed carefully enough to bring about the exact intended
outcome, b) in any military confrontation there are two parties involved and
therefore no matter how weak one of them is, still can influence the outcome to
a degree. Furthermore I believe that from such a military confrontation
Iran will emerge with considerable
success although seriously damaged.
In other words US will not achieve what it wants militarily, mostly
because the cards are stacked in favor of Iran.
I believe no one has paid much
attention to a theory called 'Sotoon.' What? You haven't heard of it; well that
is because I just made it up. But still I think it is worth reading about it.
I call this 'the Sotoon (as in
column) theory' after an Iranian proverb that states 'az in sutoon beh oun
sutoon frajj-eh' or there are still possibilities and hope from one column
to another. Let me explain.
During the reign of Muawyaih,
a Persian man was arrested and accused of being the Persian prince who was
instigating revolt against Arab occupation in Iran. He was put on trial and sentenced to
death. He was then tied to one of six columns in a Mosque to read him his
sentencing statement. But before they go ahead to read the statement and carry
the punishment he was given a chance to make his last wish. 'Tell us your last
wish before you die, oh and it can't be letting you go, and no we have no
cigarettes here, so what would it be?' 'Simple' the Persian said "tie me to the
column of my own choice before you read me my sentence and execute me." Well, as
strange as his request was, it didn't seem to be harmful. So they began untying him from one
column and tying him to another. The Persian waited until they were done moving
him and then he said; 'no this is not the one. I don't like it; take me to the
other column.' So they did what he
had asked for. And again before they finished tying him to the other column he
had chosen another. This went on
until they were about to tie him to the last column. Meanwhile someone rushed in
and told the judge that the man is not whom they thought to be and Emir had
ordered him to be released.
The moral of story is this; victory
is possible as long as defeat is delayed, and that is what Americans are doing
in Iraq. After an embarrassing premature
claim to victory by President Bush on board USS Abraham Lincoln, the United
State learned its' lesson. From then on, they delayed their pronouncement of
success pending to outcome of another event. From transferring the power to
Iraqis, to numerous elections in Iraq, and ill-fated 'surge' the
US has been telling people of the
light at the end of tunnel. The latest US transitional column of choice is formation of
Iraq's security forces. 'Once the
'Iraqis stand up, they would stand down.' In other words, they would be able to
build an Iraqi army that would take orders from them and do their dirty work.
Only then they would be able to pull red-blooded blue-eyed American 'boys' out
of Iraq and live happily ever after. Fat
chance, and Bush administration knows this. That is why they are already asking
to be moved to another column which is Iran. Once Iran, this new
source of trouble is eliminated or at least forced to silence, they would be
done and will wait for the eagle of victory to land on their shoulder. In other words they are buying time and
hope that at some point they will have the initiative. The problem is that
Iranians also have their own columns. And boy, I tell you, mullahs are excellent
at playing the column game. Look at what they are doing on nuclear issue.
So, how is this related to a
US attack on
Iran? The issue is 'time' time favor
Iran the most. But bush
administration still does not get it; they don't know whom they are dealing
with. Have you heard of the Mullah who fell into the river? Someone tried to
help him 'give me your hand, give me your hand' yelled the man, rushing after
Mullah who was rolling and screaming in the water. 'That is the wrong thing to
say' said a bystander; 'they don't give, they take, say take my hand.'
So let me take this opportunity to
offer a useful advice to Ms. Condi Rice. If she wants to know whom she is
dealing with, she should take a trip to Tehran and buy a carpet from an Iranian rug
merchant in Bazaar (who are as close as they come to Mullahs.) Before she notices, she will be driving
away with a fine Persian rug in the trunk of her car, not knowing how much it
has cost her. The rug merchant on the other hand, knows what and for what price
he has sold her. Don't believe me talk to Europeans who have been negotiating
with Mullahs for years.
Now back to attacking
Iran. In their analysis of attack on
Iran and possible Iranian response
there are several possibilities that have been mentioned.
Iran would retaliate by having Hezbollah
attack Israel. Not likely at all, I would
say. Anyone who forwards such a proposition knows nothing of true nature of
relation between Iran and Hezbollah. The Islamic
Republic and Hezbollah view each other as brothers in arm. Hezbollah certainly
does not see itself as sacrificial lamb for Iran. The
history of this relation goes back to before Iranian Revolution when Hezbollah
was still Amal and ran by Immam Mussa Sadr. Amal was in fact the revolutionary
school for Iranians. The relation between Iranian Islamic Revolutionaries and
would be Hezbollah (which at that time was Part of Amal) was forged long before
Islamic Republic or Hezbollah had been established. In fact some of worries of
Islamic revolution received their military training from Amal. People like
Muhammad Chamran who became Iran's first post-revolution Defense Minister had
been trained and lived in Lebanon for many years. The Hezbollah/Iran relation is not
modeled after master/proxy relation that was common during cold war between
Soviet Union and the United State. Their relation is not one of
strategic military alliance that would obligate one to jeopardize its own
existence to defend the other. It wouldn't make sense for Hezbollah to sacrifice
its own political stand and future among Lebanese people by dragging them into
military adventure that has no strategic and tactical value for
Lebanon and just to please
Iran. Any such an attempt by
Hezbollah to defend Iran at
the expense Lebanon will be foolish and suicidal.
No, certainly Hezbollah is not an obedient proxy of Iran, not by any
stretch of imagination. The same goes also to Hamas, a movement far older than
Iran would use 'its terrorist agents'
around the world to attack US interest around 'Middle
East.' Nonsense, this too, seem to one of those theories that is
forwarded by people at 'Project for New American Century who' have proven their
limited ability to understand Middle East.
Iran has far more effective means in
her toolbox than aimless and useless terrorist actions that can only benefit her
enemy. The most effective political weapon on Iran's position, after a US attack, would be world-wide sympathy that
could be directed to counter US's global effort to isolate and restrain
Iran economically and politically.
Believe me I know mullahs; they are not that stupid.
Iran would close strait of Hormuz. Not
so; it would not be necessary. Why turn the world against yourself by causing
them hardship. Especially when it is more likely to cause yourself economic
harm. If the intention is to push the oil prices up, it can be achieved in a way
that US is blamed for not Iran. It is true that at least in
short run higher oil prices favors Iran, and cause US difficulties, but
in the long run nobody will benefit from it. Plus, that will happen by itself
anyway. As it is the price of a
barrel of oil is hovering over $80. Slightest indication of supply instability
will push prices possibly as high as $200 a barrel.
Iran would retaliate by lunching
missiles against US bases in Iraq and around Middle
East. Perhaps, but don't expect them to rush and unload everything
they have on US. From previous US operation in Bosnia, Iraq and other places Iranians have
learned that a short war favors US but a longer war helps the other side.
Therefore, it is only logical to husband your resources and use them sparingly.
So what would Iran do?
The most important weapon in
Iran's arsenal is 'Time. That is
By opening another front in addition
to Iraq and Afghanistan US
will have to deal with an expanded theater of operation that extends from
Mediterranean to Indian subcontinent (assuming the Syria and Lebanon offer logistical support to
US foe by granting them right of
passage.) Furthermore it is likely that Turkey and some of Arab countries of Persian Gulf
will limit US use of their territory. Taking all
this into account, US will face a costly logistical nightmare that can not
maintain for long time.
A prolonged war will have
devastating economic consequences for US. In addition, higher oil prices affect
all sectors of US economy from finance to
transportation, distribution even service sector. Under these conditions,
US economic performance already faced
with oversized deficit and falling value of dollar would be far more vulnerable
to political instability. It is not clear how long US dollar can stand this kind
of pressure, especially when Euro is becoming a viable alternative
currency. It is not clear if other
countries, fearful of loss of their assets and revenue dump dollar and hence
contributing to dollar's free fall. Under such a scenario, cost of foreign
military operation especially in such wide theater of operation will skyrocket
A prolonged war would be
domestically unpopular and politically dangerous, especially if US is forced to
I still haven't told you what would
Iran do. Here is when 'Sotoon' theory
comes handy. In other words all Iran have to do is keep the war going
by changing the drama from day to day.
That is offering different twists in war and maintaining initiative. This
is where the concept of Asymmetric War becomes useful. You would get the point
once I've explained what asymmetric war means. It is not what Fox News has been
telling us; it has nothing to do with terrorism. These are some of the concepts
in an asymmetric war.
Keep them safe, your military assets
that is; they can not destroy what you don't have or they don't see. In other
words; you don't need expensive hardware to fight a war. Smaller less expensive hardware are
better because they could be easily hidden or replaced, do not require massive
infrastructure to operate, are more difficult to detect, give higher mobility,
more flexibility and destroying them cost the enemy far more than they are
worth. Have you seen reports on Iran's military purchases? When was
the last time Iran bought large battleships,
destroyers or squadrons of advance fighter jests? Instead the first thing they
did after the war with Iraq was to buy submarines that fits
perfectly their defense doctrine. Then they went ahead and built about 200 mini
subs that because of their size and limited depth of waters in Persian Gulf are very difficult to detect. All you hear
from them is missiles, missiles, missiles. Missiles don't need runways which are
difficult to maintain; they are operated by ground crew and are easier to hide.
For more than a decade, Iran has been working to expand its
vast underground network of fiber optics. That began in mid-1980s in the middle
of Iran-Iraq with a thinly stretched financial recourses when
Iran built a factory to produce fiber
Maintain initiative. In a world when
eye in sky can report everything, you can't's surprise enemy when all your tools
are exposed. In fact you can't maintain initiative if you are engaged in day to
Fight expensive sophisticated
hardware with cheap simple weapons
Fight an incremental war, allow
yourself to recover and plan your attacks in your own
Coordinate your military moves with
your political goals at a micro level.
Do not respond to the events. Make
events that serve you