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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:04 AM
Original message
Iran's alleged belligerancy...
I'm curious if anyone actually thinks that Iran, a nation with:

A population of 65 million
A GDP of $600 billion
129 airports with paved airstrips (1 with runways longer than 3000m)
A merchant marine of 131 ships, displacing 8 million tons
15 million men fit for military service
A navy with 70 ships, none larger than a frigate, 2600 Marines, and no significant naval aviation component

would ever, in even a crazy dictator's wildest dreams, attack a nation with:

A population of 300 million
A GDP of $13 trillion
5143 airports with paved airstrips (191 with runways longer than 3000m)
A merchant marine of 446 ships, displacing 12 million tons
54 million men fit for military service (and something like 1/4 of the world's civilian-owned firearms)
A navy with 280 ships, including 9 Nimitz-class carriers, 220,000 Marines, and a naval aviation component that outguns the Air Forces of most countries

?

* all statistics from the CIA World Factbook, except naval statistics which are from Haze Gray

I'm interested in military logistics (odd hobbies we all get) so this may bore you much much more than it bores me, but I'm pointing this out as Yet Another example of how divorced from reality our country's discourse has become.

Serious, non-insane candidates for President are actually talking about Iran being a threat to the US.

For those of you who aren't into military logistics, I will just summarize by saying that the matchup I describe is so uneven as to be absurd. I don't know of any nation that ever began a war with a country that so hopelessly outmatched it. Iran is not a threat to us. Calling them a threat is ignoring the numbers that are staring us in the face. They won't attack us. They don't have the naval or air power to even get close enough to attack us in the first place. Why aren't the candidates who say Iran is a threat being hauled off in straitjackets?

When I was a kid, the Soviets had enough missles pointed at us (and we at them) to destroy life on earth 50 times over, a crack navy, and one of the largest armies the world had ever seen. That was a threat. But not even Raygun ran on that threat alone. WTF happened that one terrorist attack turned grown men and women into sniveling, unreasoning cowards?
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Justitia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:07 AM
Response to Original message
1. excellent presentation! And I totally agree. -eom
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lovuian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:10 AM
Response to Original message
2. Its about Iran going to the Petro Euro rather than the Petro dollar
thats the real reason
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. See, I was all down with that idea for a while
But two things happened:

1. Every predicted date kept passing, like with Great Awakening messiahs

2. I contemplated our current fiasco in Iraq. And I realized there is no "plan" to attack Iran -- and there was no "plan" to attack Iraq, more's the pity -- because these morons don't have a "plan" for anything. They bounce from one utter catastrophe to another trying to stay just far enough ahead of the wreckage that they aren't totally swallowed up by it. I'm starting to think the problem is not a cabal of secretive rich old white oligarchs (who, in all honestly, could probably at least have staved off the economic collapse we seem to be facing); the problem is a cohort of pusillanimous, petty, small, incompetent, vengeful, pig-ignorant, philistine, privileged frat boys who seem to think that running a country requires the same level of seriousness and concentration as planning the next kegger at the ranch.

Aristotle divided character flaws into incompetence and immorality. Someone might have the right moral direction, but lack the abilities to carry it out. Or, he might have those abilities, but use them to bad ends. In class we posited the question of what the effect of an incompetent immoral man would be: would he be worse than the other two, or would they cancel each other out? If this administration has taught me anything, it is that incompetent evil is somehow worse than competent evil.
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
4. so nothing Iran would or could do would be a threat to the US or the west?
no attacking neighboring countries to screw with their oil industries or blockading the Persian Straits?

how about Iran's new best friends-China and Russia

would they be a threat?


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yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:05 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. their friends would only be a threat if we attacked Iran
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:12 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Not really
You raise several points, so this may take a few paragraphs.

I'm not sure who "the West" is anymore. That used to mean, broadly, non-communist industrialized countries. Hell, at one point Iran was part of "the West" in that sense.

They could blockade the straits, yes. Our energy policy has made us bend over and drop our trousers enough that they could shove that boot up our asses. If they would be willing to face the whole world's anger for that (because it wouldn't just be us that would be screwed, and China and India especially would get pinched), it's a different ballgame.

Calling China and India Iran's "best friends" seems problematic to me. First off, in that region you're pretty much with one or the other (and IMO expect that to get uglier over the next few decades). That said, yes, both China and India could pose fairly significant threats to the US in coming years if they chose to move against us, though it's still a long time before either would have close to the naval power to really affect us. However, either one would have to move to a wartime economy to do so. If they do, ask me then. However much India and China may like Iran, they seem to like Wal-Mart more; China's whole economy seems to be based on the idea of propping us up as long as possible to squeeze every dollar they can. As far as India, while it's tempting to be glib about outsourcing that's not a big part of their economy all told -- what is important is the stable technology sector and retail market we still have.

I reiterate, based on the numbers I supplied above, that Iran is physically incapable of attacking us.

Any economic warfare Iran engaged (eg, blocking the strait) would have fallout over the entire world.

China and India do not currently have the capacity to attack us, though they could develop it given time and motivation, but motivation is what they lack. And I'm not talking about a causus belli, I'm talking about any possible gain they could get from attacking us vs. the cost. Does India want Diego Garcia? Does China want Guam? Could either of them want them enough to go to war with us for them?

For that matter, what would Iran gain by attacking us? Forget the gain/loss ratio, what's the gain in the first place?
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kineneb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:03 AM
Response to Original message
7. of course it poses no real threat
Iran is simply on the PNAC list of countries... to overthrow, install puppet governments, and then suck dry of all natural resources (mostly oil). The war mongering by the US is all about that element stressed in real estate: location, location, location. In this case, on top of lots of oil.

The insiders have never recovered from the overthrow of their previous puppet, the Shah. Never mind most of the political problems in the country are results of the US, as proxy for the UK, messing with the legitimately elected Iranian government in 1953. Chalmers Johnson rightly calls this "blowback".


Iran is not even a threat to Israel, despite the blather. The country might help fund Hezbollah, but I seriously doubt Iran would be stupid enough to attack Israel. Their argument is with the fanatic Zionists, not the average Israeli.

How do I know this? Because half of my family is from Iran.

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Behind the Aegis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:34 AM
Response to Original message
8. Interesting.
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 04:37 AM by Behind the Aegis
One person says: "Iran is not even a threat to Israel, despite the blather. The country might help fund Hezbollah, but I seriously doubt Iran would be stupid enough to attack Israel. Their argument is with the fanatic Zionists, not the average Israeli."

Yet, let's look at your post....

"I'm curious if anyone actually thinks that Iran, a nation with:

A population of 65 million
A GDP of $600 billion
129 airports with paved airstrips (1 with runways longer than 3000m)
A merchant marine of 131 ships, displacing 8 million tons
15 million men fit for military service
"

(me)could be a serious threat to Israel?

A population of 6.5 million
A GDP of $170.3 billion
30 airports with paved airstrips (2 with runways longer than 3047m)
A merchant marine of 18 ships,
2.5 million men and women fit for military service

((I don't know enough to translate the other info you provided (please do so...it makes no sense to me).)

What say you to this information? Who is the bigger threat? Do you honestly think the US would engage Iran if she attacked Israel? I don't! I think the anti-Semites and anti-Israeli bigots think so, but I have seen nothing to indicate the US would do anything to help Israel unless they saw something which would benefit the US.

ETA: I forgot a parentheses and wanted to add, I don't think Iran is a threat to the US. I don't think it is even a threat to Israel at this point in time. I see no need for military action whatsoever, but I do see a need to discourage the production of nuclear weapons.
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Chulanowa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. That's sort of like arguing that China is a threat to Suriname, really...
You can run numbers all you like - feel free, even the actual "middle east experts" are basically playing fantasy football - but the problem remains... Why would they want to? What, exactly, would attacking Israel benefit Iran?

And you don't think the US would jump in? Well, it would be a pleasant change from the history of US - Israel - Other relations...
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Behind the Aegis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Perhaps you should read more.
A false analogy such as China and Suriname really doesn't prove your case. I was presenting the topic the same way the OP did.

"Why would they want to?" I think that is pretty obvious, even for the oblivious.

Where has the US jumped in to "save" Israel from past aggression? Make stuff up all you want, the propaganda doesn't change the reality the US has never put troops on the ground in order to defend Israel.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. It's not obvious to me at all
I think that is pretty obvious, even for the oblivious.

Then help me out. It's pretty clear Ahmadinajad doesn't like Israel's having been founded there, and that he thinks the regime will fall, but we have to consider the (less rabble-rousing) ayatollahs (I suppose, "ayaatollah", to be pedantic) who actually have the power to engage in military action.

States don't act without a perceived gain. What is the perceived gain in their attacking Israel? Have they threatened to attack Israel (no, saying he hopes the regime is erased from history doesn't count; we say the same thing about China, which we certainly aren't going to attack).
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Behind the Aegis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #13
28. It is still obvious.
Just as the US takes down a variety of places without direct action, so does Iran. The gain from an outright attack? Dead Jews, retaking Muslim holy sites (now under Iranian control, much to the chagrin of the majority of the rest of the Muslim world), and a Palestinian homeland (therefore allowing all the Arab nations currently with refugee camps to purge them). They could be the big man on the block. Who would oppose them? The US? We are stretched so thin we would have little effect, if any! And would anyone else in the world would come to Israel's aid? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! :rofl: There would be US Security Council sanctions passed against ISRAEL for being attacked!

I still think an attack is very slight, from either country. However, to pretend that Iran is some innocent bystander is just fucking ludicrous!
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 05:45 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. If it's so obvious, then tell me
What would Iran gain by attacking Israel? I don't see it.
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Chulanowa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #12
26. I forgot who I was speaking to
First off, the China / Suriname thing is in regards to the whole "Here's a big country. Here's a little country. it's a threat!" thing you did right there.

Pretty obvious, huh? Why not explain to all our friends here in General Discussion how exactly it's "pretty obvious" to you? You have no problem doing so loudly, over in the I/P forum. Please, do show the general population of DU exactly what you mean when you say that it's "pretty obvious" why Iran would want to attack Israel. Despite you know, logic.

No, no troops. Just lots and lots and lots of money and weaponry and technical expertise and political support... Iran would be a special case because we're already striving to go to war with Iran thanks to the careful work of all the people who think it's "pretty obvious" why Iran is a threat *wink wink nudge nuge*
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Deleted message
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-16-07 04:56 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. Deleted message
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
17. per request, Israel's military numbers
Israel's Navy numbers 9 ships*, though some of their boats* are more powerful than most Navy's ships and they have about 80 of those plus a few hundred "normal" boats

* "ships" are longer than 65'; Israel has several excellent lines of missile vessels that are slightly shorter and so must be called "boats", to the vexation of their captains.

I'm not sure what good Israel's navy would be if Iran attacked them; Iran would have to find a land route to pass through; the only plausible one I can think of is southern Iraq, swing around the triangle and then northwest to Syria, while somehow avoiding angry Sunnis, angry Kurds, and a quarter of a million American troops and mercs. So, "plausible" is a relative term. Once we withdraw from Iraq, depending on how the situation shakes out there, the path becomes at least more imaginable, though that supply line is pretty tenuous.
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Douglas Carpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 07:06 AM
Response to Original message
9. thank you -- excellent post
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 08:56 AM
Response to Original message
10. Actually, Iran is a threat in a sense
It's a threat to the US imperial domination of the rest of the world by military force.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
14. I thought that Chavez was the Bogeyman of the week?
It's so hard keeping all the "threats" to us in some kind of order of menace.
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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
15. That thinking is, ironically, a skew of the triumphalism that led to Vietnam.
Back then, it was "Of course we'll win. They're nobodies."
Now, it's apparently "Of course they won't challenge us. They know we'll win. They're nobodies."

Both are ignorant of the concept of asymmetrical warfare. The weapons of the 21st century are not the JDAM and the Nimitz-class; they are the AK-47 and the television screen. Our wars are fought in the ballots, parliaments, and militias of Palestine; in the streets of Baghdad; on the Internet and on CNN. Iran is a regional expansionist power. America is a global expansionist power. And while we hold an overwhelming conventional-arms advantage, we have repeatedly proven, from the Philippine-American War to Iraq, that (with the notable exception of air power) we are slow to adapt to shifting paradigms of warfare. Should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, our conventional advantage becomes largely moot, and any power struggle would have to occur entirely by proxy.

Cause for cowardice? Cause for airstrikes? Certainly not. But suggesting "Iran is helpless against us" is fundamentally flawed, even if done in honesty.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Game theory
Even "symmetrical" warfare isn't really.

The weapons of the 21st century ... are the AK-47 and the television screen.

I 100% agree.

But the weakness of the "weak" side in asymmetric warfare ("the insurgent") is that he cannot force their engagement against the enemy if the enemy does not choose to engage first on the weak side's ground.

Can you think of a way Iran could use those weapons against us if we did not invade them?

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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Absolutely I can.
See: Al-Sadr, Muqtada (specifically Mahdi Army.)
See: Hezbollah (specifically Israel-Lebanon war of 2006)
See: Hamas (specifically 2007 Battle of Gaza)

Are any of those Iran proper, or are any of those (excepting, at times, Mr. al-Sadr) attacking America proper? Not as such, no. But America is more than just a pack of buildings flying a striped flag and speaking English, and Iran is more than just a pack of buildings flying a tricolor flag and speaking Farsi.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. And how would any of those translate?
Where's a large body of people sympathetic to Iran and near the US?

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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Like I said,
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 05:15 PM by Occam Bandage
"America" is not just America. America is fundamentally dependent on a multinational network of open trade and political alliances to the end of defending that network of trade. Preserving that network was the primary purpose of the British Empire at its height, was the primary reason for American involvement in the two World Wars, was the driving factor behind the Cold War*, and is the primary purpose of the American military at the moment.

The large body of people potentially sympathetic to Iran and near the US would be the entire Middle East. At the moment, that body of people is Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. The problem with hegemony is that you're everywhere.

*It is interesting to note that all major enemies of the British Empire (Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, The Third Reich) and the American (Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, the Islamist backlash) are unified by only one common thread: the desire to remake the world's (or at least a significant region's) economy.

Edit for clarity: There's no translation. Those three instances are my examples.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Ah, my bad; we're mostly in agreement
I was taking it as a given that our phase of the Great Game is lost and we know longer have anything remotely hegemonic in southwest asia. If you still see that as a viable interest for us to defend, then you're right.
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NeedleCast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
16. A Threat doesn't have to be based on military figures
The North Koreans are mostly in the same position you describe above, but they "test the waters" all the time to see what the US response will be.

You're correct that when it comes to conventional military forces, Iran would be insane to make an overt attack against US forces. However, that doesn't mean they don't pose a threat in other areas. They are probably supplying arms and tactical/technical support to Iraqi and Afghani resistance forces. Why wouldn't they? They (unlike our president) are smart enough to realize the longer they keep us tied up in Iraq, the weaker we'll become. They are also a theocratic nation despite the role of their president (which is essentially a puppet for it's religious leadership), so I wouldn't put much of anything past them in terms of general nuttyness (just need to look at the religious nutters in our country to see that).

Please understand I'm not making this argument as any sort of support of an attack on Iran. It's the opposite in fact; it's just another damn good reason to get the hell out of Iraq. We've basically put ourselves in a position to have our soldiers in Iraq become threatened by Iran. If our soldiers were not in Iraq, Iran wouldn't pose a threat to them.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:17 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. Ah, I just realized where I wasn't clear
Let me be 100% clear:

Iran can be (and already is) a fairly large threat to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though I'm starting to think they're getting buyer's remorse about the civil war just as much as we are.

Military forces sent forward are exposed to unexpected threats. Those threats are not threats to the countries of those forces.

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NeedleCast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Then I'd agree completly
that Iran is of no true military offensive threat to the US other than cases where we put ourselves in a position to be threatened.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 06:04 PM
Response to Original message
25. Well, Iran is certainly not a realistic military threat.
That's why we have to pretend they are crazy in order to pretend that they might take a serious whack at us. They would have to be stupider than Bush to attack us. All the evidence lately has been that they play their cards quite well.
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