Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The War on Iran: Phase I

   In case you didn't notice, the War on Iran has already begun.

   You won't hear that said on TV yet though. At least not on US news networks. Those corporate shills need major fireworks before it becomes profitable to switch from diversions to 24hr news coverage of burning nuke sites and Iranian radiation warnings interspersed with commercial breaks for Viagra and Wal Mart. Right now, the biggest military operation of the decade is still in Phase I. And the corporate media and all the sleazy oligarchy that stand to profit know it's probably best to instead run 24hr news coverage of the Republican primaries where the US gets to choose which corporate spokesman the Republicans are going to run against Democratic corporate spokesman Obama. That's democracy these days folks. You know, that thing the US brought to Iraq via heavy armor.

   Next up, Iran. All for WMD nukes they don't even have yet. Reruns of bullshit wars like Iraq would be really boring if the Iran attack wasn't so goddam scary in the first place. But, no matter, 2012 is an election year and nothing gets presidents re elected and clears the streets of protesters like a brand spanking new war. This war is becoming viable to the US and only one Republican presidential candidate of nine is even against the idea.

   Sure, I've written before of the possible repercussions of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuke sites and theorized why Israel wants this Iranian strike beyond preventing the Persians from achieving "theater parity" with the Israelis on the nuke front. I've said before the US have been trying to keep the Israelis reined in as far as launching the Iranian air strike solo goes but, it seems, with developments last month and with the way things are panning out in the region, it looks like the Israelis are going to be able to get the US to do the job for them. Or, at the very least, with them.

   In the wider context of the whole region, it's not just the Israelis who fear a rising Iran. The Saudis too and Sunni Arabs in general fear the growing power and influence of the Shia. They're sitting on the fourth largest oil deposit on the planet and have an ocean of natural gas on tap too. Their support of the Bahrainis versus the Saudis last year (when the Saudis began to fear a homegrown Arab Spring in their shitty Orwellian police state petro kingdom) had crown Prince Abdullah begging the US to bomb Iran for them. Just last week, the Saudis inked a deal for another 30 billion of US military tech. Also, Iranian support and arms sales to Shia terrorist organisation Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon pisses off the Israelis and they want that whole region neutralized. A war with Iran will pull an IDF tank rush into Southern Lebanon under a perfectly legit umbrella when pulled under the context of a wider regional war. As a fun side note, you know things are heating up in the region when you have a potential war that makes the Saudis and Israelis allies against a common enemy.

Note the ring of US bases and total encirclement of Iran

   Phase I:

   Phase I of any war is the infiltration phase. The recon phase. The phase where you do precision strategic damage and eliminate those targets you can't hit from the air. Special forces stuff. Assassination squads and the like. That's why five Iranian scientists and physicists have died in mysterious explosions since November 2007. The latest death of a scientist came on January 11. Next up, you break out the cyber warfare and deploy the Stuxnet computer worm that delays Iran's centrifuges and disrupts their uranium enrichment at Natanz. This extended Phase I bought time last year to bulk up Western defensive assets in 'theater'. Also, Phase I involved the deployment of drones and ever present spy satellites over the target area and bought more time to gather more intel. The recent Iranian grounding of a classified US RQ-17 stealth drone sure had the CIA and Western military think tanks scratching their heads on the state of Iranian jamming technology.

   Hence the targeted killings of Iranian 'brainy' people. Holy shit, that sounds a lot like "terrorism". I'd sure be terrified if I were an Iranian scientist right now. Of course, you won't hear that in Western media. "Targeted assassination" these days has become a less terrifying euphemism for the media to report in the West. Is not language itself amazing? You can hide any intention in there. But let's face it, if a foreign entity blows up people on the streets of New York or Jerusalem, it's automatic terrorism as far as the media is concerned.

   The interesting thing about Phase I is that it is reaching its conclusion. The final stage began in October when Western countries began running psy-ops against their own public and preparing them  for a shooting war in Iran by way of the corporate controlled media. It began with some elaborate media story about Iranian agents plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington but it didn't exactly fly with the public. Even the plebs are getting wise to the machinations of the plutocracy and the whole scheme just sounded like more WMD bullshit. The media then ran stories throughout November 2011 alluding to some amorphous fact that Iran has a bunch of ICBMs ready to rain down mega death on Western capitals. As if that is ever an option for Iran; launching nukes and inviting the West to glass 4000 years of Persian history back to the Stone Age.

   Of course, the Iranians are aware of Phase I and have indulged in some blustering sabre rattling of their own. This came to a crux over the holiday period when targeted Western sanctions against Iran's central bank caused a 10% drop in their currency in a single day. That kind of action hurts but the real question on the table is if the West is prepared to go through with its threat of an oil embargo on Iran. Since 70% of the Iranian economy is based on oil exports, that's the kind of action that would really hurt. Sure, Russia and China would veto any such action if it came to a vote at the UN but that might not matter. The USS Stennis carrier group offshore right now could easily enforce the blockade. The real question is if the West hates Iran enough to take their oil off the market thus causing a spike in oil prices and inhibiting the 'recovery' in fragile Western economies. Yes, the Saudis claim they could make up the shortfall but that is most likely bullshit considering the dirty little secret of the Middle East is that Saudi oil fields are past peak output and getting pumped full of seawater to keep the spice flowing to the top of their wells.

   What has been holding Phase II of this war back (the actual US/Israeli air strike on Iran's 15 nuke sites) so far has been the spider tree of Iranian response strategies. Sure, Iran has no air force capable of retaliating against the encircling US bases in the region or against Israeli population centers. Iran has so many options though, it makes Western war planners shit bricks. However, most of these are asymmetrical and involve proxy armies in Southern Lebanon or disruption of oil traffic in the narrow Straits of Hormuz. (I'll talk about those next week). More interesting right now is Iran's long and medium range missile technology (Shabab 3's and 4's) that are within range of Tel Aviv.

   Israel has always been pretty touchy about civilian casualties (given their small population and tight geography which makes targeting easier) so limiting the damage of an Iranian missile strike is key. Sure, the idea that bringing Tel Aviv under an impenetrable missile defence would be nice but, realistically, that's impossible. Even the latest advances in anti missile tech really only inhibit enemy war planners; that is, they force the enemy to put more missiles and decoys on any given target to assure destruction. They never bring you under a safety umbrella.

   Israel has not completed the formation of its four-echelon missile defense system yet. It will adopt counter-missiles of its (exo-atmospheric) echelon, which allow a second attempt to intercept a ballistic missile warhead, no sooner than 2013. The defense's third echelon - David's Sling - is still in the R&D phase. This reduces the efficacy of Israel's national missile defense, even if it is potentially strengthened by American ground-based THAAD and sea-based Aegis systems. But by 2013, Iran may have a viable war head and once that happens, theater parity is achieved on the nuke front and Iran becomes another North Korea.

   That is, non attackable.

   This is abhorrent to Western military planners and why Phase II, the actual air assault, could come this year. One interesting but quiet development was this week's deployment of US Air Force personnel to Israel ostensibly to run exercises that "simulate the interception of missile salvos against Israel. The American systems will work in conjunction with Israel’s missile defense systems – the Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome." That right there is Phase II planning aimed at mitigating the possible Iranian response to a large scale joint US and Israeli strike against Iran.

   I've written about the Israeli strike before but next week I'll talk about Phase II and how that analysis changes with the US fully engaged. Stay tuned, deploy popcorn.

   2012 could get interesting fast.