Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hopefully Plan A

Striking Iran to damage (hopefully decisively) Iran's nuclear programs is hardly ideal. Even a successful American-led strike that damages Iranian assets enough to prevent effective counter-attacks would leave a hostile regime in place ready to continue waging war on us through non-nuclear means. That regime would continue trying to build, steal, or buy a nuclear weapon.

Yet letting Iran get nuclear weapons would be a disaster even if Iran never uses a nuclear weapon. Behind a shield of nuclear arms, Iran may well be emboldened to conduct terror and aggression on a grander scale. Sanctions may crumble as nations participating fear an Iranian nuclear strike or terror offensive for not trading with Iran.

I've long assumed (as I wrote in November 2004) that we plan a revolution to take advantage of the polls that show a majority of Iranians don't like their government and admire America:

Do you really think we’ve done nothing? Was the Axis of Evil speech meaningless in directing our efforts?

I’m betting on a student revolt and armed uprising by elements of the Iranian military to be supported by US special forces, air power, and a handful of brigades (like up to five) to provide support to hammer any military units that remain loyal to Tehran. And to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, of course.

So using the same arrows, we have US operations in the south and east as above. And the major thrust lines are spearheaded by revolting Iranian units that open the way for US troops to march with them on Tehran. The prospect of US troops, air power, and money will help the Iranians move with us. And will terrify units not absolutely loyal to the mullahs.

With Iranian military units on our side, the post-conflict stabilization mission will be taken care of by Iranians. We’ll have those MEK guys with our units for translators and liaison. We’ll pound the Iranian nuke facilities from the air.

I don’t believe we’d risk containing Iran as we will with North Korea. I don’t believe we’d subcontract the hit to the Israelis. I don’t believe we’d carry out an air campaign because even with our much greater power, we couldn’t be sure of getting everything from the air.

If we can't engineer a revolt in these circumstances, there should be no raises at the CIA this year.

Seymour Hersh says we are a year into a major effort to destabilize Iran:

Funding for the covert escalation, for which Bush requested up to $400 million, was approved by congressional leaders, according to the article, citing current and former military, intelligence and congressional sources.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. U.S. Special Operations Forces have been conducting crossborder operations from southern Iraq since last year, the article said.

These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of "high-value targets" in Bush's war on terrorism, who may be captured or killed, according to the article.

But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which include the Central Intelligence Agency, have now been significantly expanded, the article said, citing current and former officials.

Although this is Hersh and so suspect in details, broadly speaking I assume we are doing something like this. And I've assumed it for far more than a year.

It would be nice to have extra units in Iraq and Afghanistan not needed for fighting the counter-insurgency campaigns to intervene to support an Iranian army revolt against the mullah regime. Are we adding troops to Afghanistan and holding off on reducing combat troops in Iraq below what the attack statistics suggest to me are necessary with an eye to Iran?

But I'm just guessing, of course.