Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Numbed into Passivity

After four years of thinking that Iran is the biggest threat we face, I've thought on several occasions that war was imminent. I don't think we can afford to live with Iranian nuclear weapons controlled by unstable mullahs.

I'd prefer a course of action that overthrows the mullahs on the theory that it is the regime that is the problem. But I'll settle for an aerial campaign that sets back the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons some unknown number of years. And it isn't either/or, I imagine.

But after several rounds of seeing and connecting dots that may or may not be related, I've gotten numb to the point of almost despairing that we will attempt to defeat the mullah regime.

Almost. My latest theory is that America and Britain will take action before Blair leaves office. This coincides with the completion of the surge that leaves five more American brigades in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. It also coincides with a carrier rotation in the Gulf. Depending on the movement of that third departing carrier, it might remain in a position to make a dash back to the Gulf to leave us with three carriers able to strike Iran.

But maybe if I'm numb, the Iranians are too. Thinking they have us on the defensive because of Iranian hostage seizing, support for violence in Iraq and Lebanon, and the failure of the international community to unite around stopping Iran's nuclear program, the mullahs may be numb to our military moves.

Neutralizing Sadr with the surge? Just a temporary setback, the mullahs think.

More US troops on their borders? They're just in quagmires the mullahs may think.

Carriers nearby exercising?

The U.S. Navy staged its latest show of military force off the Iranian coastline on Wednesday, sending two aircraft carriers and landing ships packed with 17,000 U.S. Marines and sailors to carry out unannounced exercises in the Persian Gulf.

The carrier strike groups led by the USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz were joined by the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and its own strike group, which includes landing ships carrying members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Just exercises. Don't worry about them, the mullahs may say.

Yet there is this report (tip to Instapundit):

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

As if we haven't been doing this for some time? The article says this finding is all about pressuring Iran over the nuclear question. What if this isn't really the start of preparations to destabilize the Iranian regime? What if this is the culmination of that effort as it reaches the point it can't avoid being publicized? The Iranians must notice something up. If the cover story is that we are applying pressure over the nuclear program, the mullahs will laught and go on their merry way.

We also know that we can't hide the movement of significant forces to the region. We can only hide the purpose (as I note here) and make the Iranians believe they have nothing to do with Iran. Or at least, nothing to do with taking decisive action against Iran.

So what if the additional troops in Iraq are really about insurance against an Iranian attack?

What if our carriers are rotating in such a way to keep three in the region at this point in time?

What if we acted against Sadr to take away an Iranian counter-attack option?

What if the visits to the region by Cheney, Rice, and Blair are about nailing down support for action?

And the anti-Iranian vibes from Arab states reflect at least a feeling that we will deal with Iran soon?

What if President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are determined not to leave office without defeating the Iranian mullahs?

What if there are other dots to be connected?

And what if our president really doesn't like small ball?

I've been wrong many times (like here) that we will soon support a revolt to end the mullah regime, possibley going after regime supports and the nuclear infrastructure while we back the revolt.

Doesn't mean I'm always going to be wrong. Iran isn't any less of a threat, after all this time. And consider that if I'm far less sure of our taking action after false alarms, surely the mullahs of Iran--who appear to be getting ready for a victory lap--are numbed into passivity by the long crisis with no seeming end.

UPDATE: Those things do move fast. Eisenhower is back in home port, so no third carrier on call.

UPDATE: Ahmadinejad certainly seems numbed to our actions in his headlong rush to acquire nukes:

"If Iran's right to nuclear technology is confirmed, all nations of the world will gather under Iran's political banner. Enemies of Islamic Iran know this, and for this reason they have mobilized," Ahmadinejad said.

The leader said Iran doesn't fear its foes' attempts to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

"The enemy is applying its ultimate capabilities against Islamic Iran, which will be useless," Ahmadinejad said. "With the support of the Iranian nation, we do not fear the enemy's hyperbole and psychological warfare. We are nearing our final goals."

The comments appeared to be a reference to U.S. military exercises that began this week in the Gulf. The U.S. has brought two aircraft carrier groups and other ships off Iran's shores in a show of strength directed toward Tehran.

The Iranians have learned to discount any move as anything more than hyperbole and psychological warfare. If we strike, we will achieve a significant amount of surprise. He is so focused on getting to their final goals that they may be quite blinded to what we are doing in plain sight.

Oh, and does anyone really think the Iranians aspire to lead the nations of the world under their banner of clean, non-polluting nuclear-generated electricity?

UPDATE: Via The Tank, somebody thinks action is coming:

Today, Iran is primed for overthrow. Its economy is a shambles, with unemployment at 25% or more, inflation at 20% and 40% of its people living below poverty. Fully a quarter of its population is 15 years or younger, and they've grown angry at the repression and lack of opportunity that Iran's mullahs represent.

We seem to be edging ever closer to making it our official goal to get rid of Ahmadinejad and his pals. That may be the next logical step, after economic sanctions fail — as they're likely to do.

Though their timeline, which requires some more time on sanctions, seems a bit too long. But as I've been compelled to admit numerous times now, I could be wrong.