But, aren’t we all a little war weary? It was outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates who last year said, “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as Gen. [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it”. (MacArthur’s advice was provided to JFK at the onset of the American military build-up in Vietnam.)
Maybe that’s why many American’s think the easy way to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat is let Israel take them out through an air or missile attack. If that’s the way to go, it won’t be easy. US involvement will be an essential part of the Israeli plan.
There’s been news coverage describing the number of countries whose airspace Israel would have to violate to successfully attack Iran. Less covered is the degree of US participation that would be necessary.
Aside from the permission the US would have to provide to allow the Israelis to fly over Iraq (a problem in and of itself), there is the challenge of the dealing with the Iranian Navy in the Persian Gulf. Not much of a challenge, you say? Well, you would be correct. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to deal with it.
Any plan to mount an attack on Iran would have to include pre-emptive strikes on Iran’s Navy or risk disruption of oil tanker traffic.
It was with great fanfare that the US Fifth Fleet sent a carrier group through the Strait of Hormuz into the gulf the last week of December. It was done on the heels of Iran's sabre rattling over how they would use their naval base in the strait to close shipping lanes in the event of an attack by Israel or the US.
But, what would an attack by Iran’s navy look like. It wouldn’t be a traditional naval battle with large ships lobbing shells at one another or using fighter jets to take out the enemy. It’s Iran’s asymmetrical attack capability we should worry about. In military parlance, asymmetrical means they will use small boats and submarines to covertly attack our Navy ships or oil tankers. Much as a small rubber raft loaded with a bomb blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole in 2000, they would seek to use small victories for propaganda effect with a view toward shutting down the shipping lanes that carry about 30% of the world’s oil cargo to market.
So, before Israel could mount an air or missile strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the US Navy would have to take out as many of the small bases that house small craft as possible.
The US sanction regime on financial transactions with Iran is starting to take hold. Once Iran cannot get its oil to market, they have little to lose financially by shutting down the strait. However, an attack on the US Navy would give us an excuse to attack their Navy. So, I don’t think it is likely unless they are provoked. No, the most likely cause of military conflict would be the desire on the part of the Israeli’s to take out Iran’s nukes.
|Vice Admiral Mark Fox|
Are we ready for a war with Iran? Setting aside the incredible financial and human cost of the wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is noteworthy that Iran is three times the size of Iraq and has five times the population.
Are we ready to take them on? Maybe we should ask Robert Gates.
WHO WILL LEAD?