Why The Neutralist? The term Isolationist implies a narrow Fortress America outlook and is used as an epithet. The term Neutralist does not indicate someone hiding out from the world. No one calls the Swiss isolationists. The Wilsonian world view is old, tired and wrong. Our interventions have been less and less successful and now the failure can no longer be covered up.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Stratfor on Iran
A possible U.S. attack against Iran has been a hot topic in the news for many months now. In some quarters it has become an article of faith that the Bush administration intends to order such an attack before it leaves office. It remains a mystery whether the administration plans an actual attack or whether it is using the threat of attack to try to intimidate Iran -- and thus shape its behavior in Iraq and elsewhere
So the well informed (after all it is his business to be in the know) Mr. Friedman is not certain that the attack is going to happen. This, pour moi, is cause for some optimism.
Most of his piece is a discussion of what the shape of an attack could take and the drawbacks. There is no dearth of negatives and Mr. Friedman takes the time to point them out. It is starting to get cold up here in Nova Anglia so he is at his most scary when he states,
consider the Iranian response. Iran does not expect to defeat the U.S. Air Force or Navy, although the use of mine warfare and anti-ship cruise missiles against tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should not be dismissed.
So heating the old homestead should increase in cost if the Persians get some mines out and a few lucky hits, eh. Actually, they don't even have to do that, according to George,
A campaign against economic infrastructure would take some 4 million barrels per day off of the global oil market at a time when oil prices already are closing in on $100 a barrel.
Which means that all those wishful thinkers who believe that the Iranian people are just waiting to see the regime end and will be grateful to the Great Satan should think about Mr. Friedman's follow up,
Such a campaign is more likely to drive a wedge between the American people and the American government than between the Iranians and their government.
Tellingly, he says,
The United States is stretched thin, and everyone knows it.
Especially the Iranians. They have not budged and they don't appear scared. My guess is (and George seems to agree) they've done their homework and when they hear us huff and puff and threaten to blow the house down, their reaction could be something like, "yeah, you and what army?"*
George ends with this,
The United States could have defeated North Vietnam with a greater mobilization of forces. However, Washington determined that the defeat of North Vietnam and the defense of Indochina were not worth the level of effort required. Instead, it tried to achieve its ends with the resources it was prepared to devote to the mission. As a result, resources were squandered and the North Vietnamese flag flies over what was Saigon.
The danger of war is that politicians and generals, desiring a particular end, fantasize that they can achieve that end with insufficient resources. This lesson is applicable to Iran.
What is unsaid is the level of commitment we would have to make. Massive increase in defense spending (really, offense spending) and a draft. That is not on. From a neutralist point of view, this is a stupid idea. Truly, to anybody with an intelligence above minimally conscious, it should be a bad idea.
Mr. Friedman's article is well worth your time.
*I know, I've used this before.