Iran

Again, Clausewitz’ model fails us in Syria

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We’re stuck in 18th century military thinking and we barely do that as well as Napoleon or Sherman.

Clausewitz’ theorem, that all war is extension of politics (or policy) by other means, simply does not hold in the majority of the wars America has been involved in in the last 15 years. War as politics is the brood of RealPolitic , that is that wars have a logical purpose which in the end makes for a better peace.

As Ralph Peters states, modern warfare has largely reverted back to its default setting, before the state became all-powerful. It is now, “Wars of Blood and Faith”, as Peters terms it. Clausewitz assumed that people, army, and government were separate entities in a war. Current engagements involve people fighting that do not represent governments, are not an organized army per se. This is one reason that when we see dead “civilians”, many in America want to do something to stop war crimes, as civilians are not lawful targets in war. But in the case of Iraq II, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria, civilians were in fact the enemy. They wore no uniform and held few conventions that modern armies hold to. A US soldier can shoot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and someone can protest: “You shot a farmer!”–and they’d be right. Current laws of war are wholly inadequate in this type of war. The outrage many express at the slaughter in Syria is merely what war always was before the last 200 years. In fact, Qaddafi and Assad are fighting in the only way they can win. Assad cannot throw down his arms, build a school, and quell the insurgency. Historically, this is how insurgencies were stopped: Remorselessly hunt down the insurgents and kill them until they quit. Because of the nature of a “people’s war” the combatants become so marbled with noncombatants, that innocents inevitably die. It’s why America will not win another “small war” in our lifetime.

Our confusion on this matter is clouding the analysis of Syria. It ruined our analysis of Libya and Egypt. If the exact same people fighting against those governments wore uniforms, America would not have sided with them. It was merely our instinct to protect civilians that resulted in US intervention. In both countries, chaos now reigns. In Syria, the most powerful forces of blood and faith are now at work–those of the Sunni/Shia schism. Little talked about, perhaps because Americans do not properly understand the intensity of hatreds that can arise between sects, is the fact that the Syrian conflict is boiling down, just as the Iran/Iraq War, and Iraq II’s insurgency did, to Shia vs Sunni Islam. In the case of Iraq, when the minority Sunni Baathist regime fell, and was replaced by Shia, disavowed Sunni Baathists, desperate to retain power, joined al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). In Syria, a Shia minority, led by Assad, rules a Sunni majority. Iran, a majority Shia nation, backs Assad. If Assad falls, the civil war will rage on. This is not about the despot Assad, it is about Sunnis coalescing power in the form of al-Qaeda, against Shia Assad, backed by Hezbollah irregulars.

Deepening American involvement in Syria threatens to bring much more chaos. Iran is already threatening retaliation, Russia, more intervention. Better to let Hezbollah and al-Qaeda hammer each other.

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Hezbollah sleeper cells and imminent war in the Middle East

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The Israeli Minister of Defense recently stated that Israel is prepared for 30 days of war with Iran. In fact, a shadow war, but a very real war never the less, has been ongoing between the two countries for months, with real people being killed by very real government-backed means.

Within the last year, at least 3 Iranian scientists who were working on Iran’s nuclear power program were assassinated.  Bombs exploded in their cars, killing them.  And there was the massively powerful cyberweapon, known as STUXNET, deployed against Iranian nuclear research facilities.  In what appears to be reprisals, terrorists targeted Israelis around the world in places like India, Georgia, and most recently in Bulgaria.  In this case, a suicide bomber walked onto a bus full of Israeli tourists and parked near an airport terminal , then detonated, killing 5 Israelis.  The bombing occurred in a popular Israeli vacation resort near the Black Sea.   Bulgarian domestic security released a video which shows the suspected suicide bomber walking inside the airport.  He is dressed in very casual western style clothing and has a light complexion.  I posted a video of the suspected bomber, below.

As a former law enforcement officer and current intelligence analyst I find the video and the overall bombing very disturbing for several reasons.  First, the bomber’s body language is staggeringly deceptive, offering no clues as to his true intent.  The man obviously received professional training, most probably from Iranian Quds Force and/or Hezbollah.  The man’s gait, posture and clothing are carefully crafted so as to defeat most attempts at profiling.  Secondly, the complexity of this operation was quite extensive.  The bomber had to penetrate an Eastern European country’s domestic security, most likely constructing the bomb there.  The bomber also looks very Western in complexion and mannerism.  Thirdly, a group of Israeli tourists had to be targeted and stalked.  This is different from an operation in which a high profile individual is targeted for assassination.  In that case it is quite simple to know where the high profile person will be, since he or she will be preceded by media reports, has a well known face, and may have an attached security detail.  This operation required extensive surveillance and testing of the existing security systems.  Also, the bomber possessed a fake Michigan driver’s license. 

Fake Michigan driver’s license found at bomb scene
Sketch of suspected suicide bomber in Bulgaria

All of this raises the question as to what Hezbollah has in store for Israel and America should Israel preemptively strike.  Readers should have no doubt that Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, has placed sleeper cells around the world that are ready to “wake up” should they be called to action.  Though some of them already struck in response to the deaths of Iranian scientists and the STUXNET cyberweapon, it is logical to assume that Iran is holding back a considerable number of suicide bombers and saboteurs so as to control the political aspects of a future war.  It is an established fact that Hezbollah operates an organised crime ring in America, with million of dollars having been funneled to groups in Lebanon.[1]  Iran is the world’s foremost practitioner of 4th Generation Warfare.  Anyone who believes that this type of warfare is ineffective should consider the fact that Iran remained the number one state supporter of terrorism for decades without, until recently, sanctions leveled against it.  Iran has continued on the path of nuclear weapons without a single shot fired against it by the United States.  Iran has held hostage British sailors while parading them on camera against international law.  The Iranian government plotted the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, without any repercussions, not even a strongly worded letter.  Iran provided fighters, bomb makers and Explosively Formed Projectiles  (EFPs) capable of slicing through the toughest of American armor, to insurgents in the Iraq war.  The American government willfully took no action against Iran despite knowing its government was killing American Soldiers. In some cases, American intelligence networks were told to avoid collecting information that proved Iranian complicity in American deaths.[2]  Iran also continues to sow chaos and discord in Iraq, forcing Iraqi prime minister Maliki to form an alliance with the Iranian regime.

There is simply no other way to interpret the lack of assertive action against Iran by the United States other than that the US government  is afraid of Iran.  The fact that the most powerful nation in history is scared of a country like Iran shows the effectiveness of 4G Warfare.  Iran knows it cannot win in a stand up fight against America.  It doesn’t need to, because the American government has little real idea of how to deal with 4th Generation fighters.  American politicians are far more concerned with polls and elections than the lives of American servicemen, otherwise the Iranians would have been taken care of years ago.  Terrorism targets public opinion and every terrorist loves a polling booth.  The proliferation of useful idiots who think that America can negotiate its way out of every bad situation has done nothing but empower Iran’s 4G warriors.

The Middle East is teetering on the edge of war.  The new Egyptian government openly states it is considering violating its peace treaty with Israel, Lebanon and Syria are in chaos, and Iran rushes toward obtaining the ultimate weapon while promising the destruction of Israel.  But perhaps most troubling is the lack of commitment from America as to which side it is on.  Our collapsing culture and post-modern morals  blind our government at a time when moral clarity is imperative

[1] Emerson, Steven, Jihad Incorporated”, pages 219-227, Prometheus Books, 2006

[2] O’hern, Steven, K. “The Intelligence Wars”, Chapter 4: Iran’s Shadow Falls Over Iraq, Prometheus Books, 2008

The Shaming of American Defense Intelligence

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Some in the  American Defense Intelligence community and Apparatchiks at the State Department have reduced themselves and their trade to a criminal activity.  Not by upholding their oaths and performing the expected duties of true US Intelligence Professionals, but by ignoring the oaths they swore, the creeds they were forced to memorize, with little to fear from the system that granted them the right to see secrets that protect people’s lives.

The Military Intelligence Corp’s Creed states, in portion, the following:

To find, know, and never lose the enemy.
With a sense of urgency and of tenacity, professional and physical fitness,
and above all, INTEGRITY, for in truth lies victory.

The last few years have seen a deluge of intelligence leaks, many from senior sources.  The Bradley Mannings of the world sit in solitary confinement for breaching America’s trust and breaking the law.  And so it should be.  But as the saying goes, Privates get into more trouble for losing their rifles than Generals do for losing wars.  A series of leaks from the Pentagon and State Department regarding the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities likely has purely political motivations: The current administration does not want to be drawn into another war before the next US election.

Whatever the motivation for the leaks, Americans should be concerned.  Not about black helicopters, CIA assassins, and 9-11 conspiracies, but because many in the intelligence community don’t care about their oaths or the lives of Americans or their allies.  For votes and political sway, secrets are sold–and no one goes to jail but the Army Private with a lot of personal and psychological problems.  I want to see the GS-15 analyst from the Pentagon, or Colonel, hauled off in chains for giving away secrets.  I’m not even sure there’s an investigation to try to weed out these creeps.  But if they were E3s who inserted a thumb drive into a government computer–to the gallows!

If these people will give secrets to the media, either just to get a thrill of seeing their deeds in the news or to ensure the success of their man in the upcoming elections, imagine what they’d do for a large chunk of change offered by a foreign spy.

What if Israel attacks Iran?

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Rumors are flying that the recent Israeli swap of over a 1000 Palestinians in exchange for one Israeli soldier is a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran.  The hypothesis states that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to ensure the safety of the captive soldier before taking aggressive steps against Hamas’s sponsor, Iran.

What we can probably be certain of is that Israel wants to attack Iran’s growing nuclear facilities.  After all, Israel already destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.    Interestingly, Syria didn’t protest the destruction, most probably because doing so would have been an acknowledgement of nuclear ambitions.  But there are a couple of key differences between the problem with Iran, and the growing Syrian problem in 2007.

First, America has a different president in the White House who has made it clear that he does not want Israel to preemptively strike Iran without an international mandate.  The relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is reportedly frosty.  What would Obama do should Israel strike Iran?  Suppose America actually withdrew its diplomats in protest, or significantly reduced aid.  This could encourage Israel’s enemies to attack, sensing a weakening relationship between Israel and her American protectorate.  Egypt presents a worrisome problem.  Things are getting so bad there that some Egyptians are demanding the military hand over power to civilian leadership.  The Egyptian military may feel that war with Israel would serve as a distraction from growing internal unrest.  The Egyptian government could use an attack on Iran as an excuse for Egyptian aggression.  This is a truly frightening thought as the future of much of the Arab world remains liquid after the Arab spring, and war against Israel could serve to unify a fractured Arabia.

Secondly, Iran, obviously, is not Syria.  Iran’s tendrils run distant and deep through the Middle East and Central Asia.  Iran has meddled in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Bahrain, among other places.  They have promoted terrorism throughout the world, and even planned the assassination of the Saudi diplomat to the US, most likely in response to the Saudi’s helping crush unrest in Bahrain.  Iran has oil and lots of it.  They have the ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, at least temporarily, which would skyrocket oil prices all over the world.  The announcement that America will withdraw all of its troops from  Shia dominated Iraq will give Iran even more leverage in that country; US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta even warned Iran against meddling in Iraq, though his warning seemed to carry the assumption that America would have a long-term presence in the country.  This turned out not to be true.

In other words, Iran has real power and Syria does not and did not in 2007.

Israel finds itself in a very difficult position.  No one really knows the American position on Iran’s nuclear research. Would President Obama really endorse a cooperative military strike on Iran should Iran reach the zero-hour of nuclear weapons’ development?  Or is he merely using populist rhetoric in demanding Israel wait for a coalition of the willing?  Since Israel cannot know Obama’s true intentions, it has no way of forming a deterministic model.  Perhaps Netanyahu wants to wait until the results of the 2012 American presidential elections are in, hoping that a president more sympathetic to Israeli interests sits in the White House.  An attack on Iran would be a huge gamble, but so would allowing Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

We can blame ourselves for this

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The Iranians are sending escorts for new aid ships to Gaza.

We can blame ourselves. Our weak response in backing the Israelis two weeks ago may actually initiate a war.

The Inevitability of Armageddon

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Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”~The Book of Revelations

The recent incident involving the aid-for-Gaza ship illustrates the inevitability of a catastrophic war in the Middle East. Israel can only fight a defensive war, fending off attack after attack, responding to past damages. Israel’s enemies on the other hand, can repeatedly attack Israel and than scream bloody-murder when Israel responds. And the media cooperates.

Israel cannot, for political reasons, preemptively attack, with the intent to eliminate, its enemies. To do so would risk losing America as an ally. Should America disown Israel, Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state; her enemies are too numerous.  The Israeli government is forced to rely on retributive and defensive operations which do not root out the enemy’s hive, but only swat at individual wasps in a swarm. While the hive exists, there will always be more swarms.

Various Islamic nations call for the destruction of Israel, all the while attacking her through proxy terror organizations such as Hezbollah. And yet, the call now is for Israel to rid itself of nuclear weapons. Iran, it is now believed, has enough fissile material to produce two nuclear weapons. Given the nature of suicide attacks, even the threat of a massive nuclear retaliatory strike against Iran may not be enough to stave off an initial nuclear attack on Israeli soil. Though many reports focus on Iran’s nuclear delivery systems, those systems are not nearly as important to Islamic fundamentalists as the weapons themselves. A suicide bomber is the ultimate smart weapon. In addition, an atomic suicide bomber presents a greater chance of plausible deniability. A missile launch would be easily traceable as to its origin. A man annihilated in a nuclear blast passes into oblivion.

So because Israel cannot destroy her enemies before they build an ultimate weapon, Israel can only wait until the ultimate weapon is used. Her enemies repeatedly remind us that the destruction of Israel is at the top of their wish list. Not world peace, not that their hungry are fed, not education of the masses, but the death of millions of Jews. The calls for the destruction of Israel occur so frequently that the threats seem to mean nothing. Many assume that the promises of this destruction are only rants or calls for attention. The Arab-Israeli Wars, the thousands of rocket attacks and suicide bombings, the incessant political posturing, all of that means nothing to the cynics. Too many believe that Israel merely wishes to make Palestinians suffer for no real reason. So much so, that the reports of suffering have become hyperbolic and the aid and concessions given to Palestinians are all but unreported.

And it is clear what Israel will do if her existential fears materialize. They will use their own ultimate weapons, just as we would. And then we shall see the prophecy recorded in the Book of Revelations become reality. Some will say it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, that religious zealots read the prophecy and did what they could to make it happen. I’ll say a self-fulfilling prophecy is nonetheless a prophecy fulfilled.

Fair play with the bomb?

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Do you want a convicted murderer, recently released from prison, to be able to carry a firearm at his discretion? Probably not. How much less do we want criminal states with deployable nuclear weaponry?

There’s a fad argument afoot. It states that we should allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, because anything else would prove us to be hippocrits. Though intellectuals use this argument often, it is actually incredibly shallow and short sighted. It is quite clear to most, that if an American city is incinerated by a nuclear bomb, the last thing anyone watching the horror on the news will think is: “At least we were fair and allowed them to have nukes.”

Do we worry about Britain dropping The Bomb on us? France? Clearly this is not just about us having nukes and no one else. It’s about abiding by a realist’s outlook: That those who state their emnity with you and ignore the most basic of human rights should not be allowed to have such powerful weapons.

Most likely, even the fairness argument is just a facet of the fashionable (for about the last 50 years) habit of criticizing America but ignoring mass murder in the rest of the world. Ask the cursed people of Darfur what a rabid anti-neocon ever did for them.