After Iraq--Iran?

Given that we will be keeping bases in Afghanistan for a long time to come, that the US is starting to imply that Iran aided the Taliban and al Qaida in Afghanistan, and that Afghanistan and Iraq each lie on either side of Iran–I am starting to wonder whether the White House intends to employ a sort of pincer movement against Iran over the longer term–either through cold-war style containment, or as an active extension of the current war.

If America does go on to actively pursue “regime change” in Iran as well, it might end up with three allies or at least client states in the region. In doing so, the US will not only remove the major sources of terrorist threats at one blow, but also set up a strong strategic position in Central Asia. This in turn would yield strong influence over the region’s oil reserves as well a significant position on China’s flank.

But of course, Bush & Co. couldn’t come right out and say that. Could they?

What do you think? Do you have any alternative theories about what’s really going on?

Definitely they are those in Washington who would like to take out the Ayatollahs after Saddam; more likely through subversion than through a direct war. The US certainly has no love of Iran and has 1979 fresh in mind. But unless the majority of policy-makers have been having a major change of mind after 9/11, the plan with Iran will continue to be containment. Iran does sponsor anti-Israeli terrorists and does continue to build WMD, but unlike Saddam’s Iraq does not seem to be expansionistic. Overall the Iranians have mellowed out relatively since Khomenei died, and the US pursuing a renewed confrontation with them would reverse this improvement. It would be a gift to the hardliners in Tehran. So, IMHO, the US will continue to pressure them over aid to Palestinian movements, over WMD proliferation and general arms build-up, but regime change is too ambitious and risky for the foreseeable future.

I guess what really scares me is Bush labeling Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “Axis of Evil”. Remember the original “Axis of Evil” were literally attacked in WWII.

Bush needs to get a new writer, for starters, that doesn’t steer him into such a position. Secondly, I hope to God that he doesn’t try to go after Iran and North Korea after he goes after Iraq. Our military isn’t really built for this. The only reason we could be all over the world in WWII was, obviously, the draft. And, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again, either.

Hopefully, Bush will listen to the more “logical” voices of the White House and Washington “Inner Circle”, (e.g.-Colin Powell and the JCS.) and doesn’t rely so hevily on Condy Rice and Dick, and stay away from such anxious military actions. Diplomatic, Economic, and Military (if only used in a containment type of policy) pressure against Iran and North Korea. He’s moving around too quick to get things done in a successful and resourceful manner.

So, as a recap, my read on the situation is that, Bush will become more methodical and thoughtful about what he does, and won’t be so quick for “Regime Change” in the future. At least, I hope not…:smiley:

Iran is a special case. For one thing, the public is becoming neutral-to-pro American. One of the most underreported stories of the last few weeks was the amount of unrest in Iran among the population, which is young, wants to move towards the west, and is being thwarted by the Mullahs who exert de-facto control.

There is no reason to seek ‘regime change’ in Iran, because the regime isn’t really the problem. Absent the power of the mullahs, the Iranian government would be quite moderate.

And you can’t go in and ‘overthrow’ the mullahs. For one thing, killing religious leaders is not going to win you any friends, and in Iran the proper strategy is to win the hearts and minds of the people, not to destroy the government.

I think the model the U.S. will follow against Iran will be more like the model they used against the Soviet Union - continued pressure until something cracks from within. Trade as a carrot. Offers of new trade negotians tied to economic and political liberalization.

I think Iran could still wind up being the model for type of country we would like to see in the Middle East. Ten years from now, it could be a strategic asset.

I am sure you have cites to back up these assertions. Pray provide them forthwith.

Cites? I would have thought it fairly obvious that the US military does not currently have the manpower or munitions to take on three countries. Even if you could defeat each one in succession, the amount of resources expended and the need to garrison some troops in each would surely be too much for an overstretched logistics tail, and would reduce the numbers available for actual combat to a degree that a massive call-up would be required.

Sorry, but if you make the assertion, I want to see the numbers. A year ago it was “fairly obvious” that the US had no hope of ousting the Taliban, what with Afghanistan being the graveyard of empires back to Alexander and yadda yadda yadda. It seems to me that source of America’s strength in this 21st war is the same as it was back in the 1940s–economic might, industrial output, and innovation. NOT the ability to draft men to act as cannon fodder.

Furthermore, don’t we still have a policy of maintaining enough military power to fight two Gulf-style wars simultaniously? Or has this policy changed?

As for the “overstretched logistics tail” and other pseudo-military-speak, check out my OP. If (and its a big if, of course) we do slap down the house of cards that is Saddam’s current regime, then we will have a major military presence on either side of Iran. Isn’t that rather favorable from a logistical (not to mention strategic) perspective?

I don’t think that any invasion of Iraq will automatically keep on rolling into Iran, but I do suspect that the US intends to position itself such that a military strike against Iran is definitely possible (e.g., in the event that Tehran develops WMD) while also containing the regime and possibly fomenting rebellion from within.

It’s a bit difficult to provide figures on what kind of force it would take to knock out various countries because there are so many unknown factors. What’s the overall objective? What’s the current state of that country’s armed forces? Who’s likely to support the attack, and who will oppose it? What size of garrison force will be needed? Will there be resistance post-victory?

There is no honest, objective way of answering that. Apologies, and I understand if you’re not at all convinced, but I stand by what I wrote even if it’s only an opinion. While I don’t doubt the US could take on and beat any of those countries individually, I think the strain of preparing to fight all three (assuming even that it would be sequential rather than simultaneous) would massively drain military resources and the means of transporting them.

As for the logistics tail, I was thinking more of the tail from the US to these countries – the sea and air freight needs, the supply of munitions like Tomahawks or those ‘bunker busting’ bombs. I do recall reading that the US was very low on supplies of the latter during the peak of the bombing raids on Afghanistan; I suppose I was wondering how fighting three states would be possible and whether production could meet demand.

The more I read through these posts the less likely a direct attempt at regime change in Iran seems. At 100% capacity (and I mean 100% ) I am sure the US could take on its Afghan campaign, Iraq and Iran in quick succession, but would it want to? Consider the potential for running three Vietnams similtaneously. That’s military disasterous, terrible for US international image, and most importantly, it’s a second term-killer for the president that does it.

As I see it, the regimes that the US needs to compel into obidience or else remove as part of its war on terrorism stand like this:
Taleban in Afghanistan: already removed from power.

Iraqi Ba’athists: the next target. There is zero room for US-Iraq conciliation on either side and a new war will come, though probably not as soon as people think. This war has the potential to be a bloody mess. Saddam will lose, but his reprisals against Israel, US troops and his own people before he goes down do not bear thinking about. Occupation after the war will be indefinite and dangerous for America and will turn domestic and international opinion against any futher adventures, such as…

Iran under the Ayatollahs: Does fund terrorism and produce WMDs, and may build atomic weapons one of these days. But to change the regime would be a whole new Iraqi scenerio; indeed it would be worse, as Iran is a larger and more populous nation, and potentially more militant too. Fancy occupying a nation of cheesed-off, would-be suicide bombers? The West Bank on a massive scale. Furthermore, in all logic Iran should have no truck with al-Qaeda at all. Al-Qaeda and the Taleban hate Shi’ites and spent lots of of time in Afghanistan killing them off (not to mention smuggling massive amounts of opium/heroin into Iran). The way forward here is what we pocney political scientists have been known to call “congagement” (dreadful word) ie a containment coupled with engagement- dialogue and incentives for co-operation. Should somehow US-Iran relations seriously decline, I coul imagine the US launching a series of “behave yourself” airstrike son Iran, but that is, I think, an extreme scenario.

North Korean Communists: Tricky one this. North Korea is like the weird kid at school everyone keeps a safe distance from. Some say the regime cannot last, but I could imagine it continuing to muddle through its self-created mess of famine and terror for a very long time. The problem: North Korea has a naughty sideline in heroin, and worse still in WMD technology which it sells off to Iran, Iraq and others for badly needed cash. A plausible scenario would be a US strike to take out its WMD facilities in one go, followed up by no further action. No warning, maybe even in one single night. And probably a good idea too.

Last- and least- Sudan’s military regime: In the mid-1990s Sudan was public enemy number two after Saddam, and landlord to Osama bin Laden. However, the army has elbowed out the Islamist extremists and its now running its own show as far as I can tell. They seem to have cut back (but not eliminated) their aid to terrorists, presumably cos they fear US action otherwise. As long as Sudan continues this policy, the US will keep a watchful eye on it but not make serious attemts at intervention.

Phew… that was a lot of writing. Let me know what you all think…

Would China just sit back and watch us attack North Korea? I seriously doubt we will do anything to NK, except maybe tell some SK intelligence officers a particular plant we want to have an “accident.”

From the news reports recently it looks like we may be just financing groups in Iraq that want to oust Hussein and letting them fight. Does anyone know enough about Iran to know if those groups exists there as well? The CIA World Factbook list these as Ethnic Groups in Iran:

Anyone displeased over the Iranian regime that Bush might be courting soon? I’d be against action in Iran myself as they seem to be slowing becoming more moderate, forcing action would reverse that trend.

My hypothesis for a US strike to destroy North Korean WMD facilities is a sudden, deadly one-off, thus presenting China and the world with a fait accompli. If the Chinese, Russians or anyone else don’t like it, tough. Besides, they may be secretly glad about the attack as it is no fun having a crazy next-door neighbour with WMDs. (I’m sure the Iranians must have secret all-night parties whenever the US bombs Iraq, and then come out hungover next day and denounce it for the cameras).

Iranian opposition groups are not a viable alternative to the present Iranian regime. They lack the muscle and would not be eligable or US support. Off the top of my head, the is the Mujahadeen al-Khalq, who are Iranian exiles based in Iraq and supported by you-know-who, and the Iranian Kurds. Both are a thorn in the side of Iran but no more. Overthrow of the hardline Islamists by military coup might be fine by the Yanks, but the the Ayatollahs have their own big paramilitary force (the Revolutionary Guards) to contend any coup. An army coup would either fail or end in civil war.

Honestly i think ticking off Russia and China is a bad idea. Russia would probably issue a statement denouncing the attack, but China would issue more strongly worded denouncements and probably move some troops (possibly threatening Taiwan) which might make us posture some more. Building big powderkegs is not a good idea. But covert Ops would make it hard to prove we did anything. (granted, i’m not a politcal stratigist in the Asian region, so my theories could be way off base and it could be that China could care less what we do, as they are trying to look cool for the olympics…)

I would be leary of trying to pull a fait accompli on China. Sure, there could easily be a back room deal, and a lot of public rhetoric but to just have a whack at N. Korea without getting tacit agreement from China would be folly.

Maybe you don’t remember that the Chinese warned the US (via India, who wasn’t the appropriate go between) that they would attack in their traditional sphere of control was encroached upon, and the UN learned that lesson to their dismay during the Korean war.

I don’t think Russia would do or say much in this scenario, other than probably frowning thoughtfully at us. China, though, is the crazy next-door neighbor with WMD’s. Whether or not they like NK, an attack against them would be seen as an attack Eastern communism. NK is basically China-lite. If we attacked NK, I would expect China to attack Taiwan in retalliation. And if China got really antsy, they would probably go after Japan, as well. I agree that NK is a big problem on the terrorism front, but attacking them is just too risky. We should limit our military action to an oust of Saddam, and use that as leverage for the rest of the middle east. “Saddam pissed us off, and look what happened to him. You wanna be next?” That, coupled with the addition of Iraq as a US ally, should give us what we need to force a change of tone in the Middle East and provide us with what we need to effectively combat terrorism worldwide, at least for the time being.