It is always a mistake to read ZeroHedge before finishing your first cup of coffee. I made that mistake today and came across this article Jerusalem Post: U.S. Bombing Of Iran “Will Be Massive But Will Be Limited To A Specific Target”.
The article outlines all the ways that this approach to war with Iran would be folly and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the points made, the general point that massive force however strategically deployed will almost certainly produce results that the US and the rest of the world will not like one little bit. While you can bomb the Hell out of Iran, Iran has a number of retaliatory options rangine from the possibility of an EMP hit (they may have a rudimentary nuke) to closing the Strait of Hormuz to using Hezbollah sleeper cells in the US to hit critical infrastructure. While I have no doubt the US could beat Iran in a straight war, it would be long, bloody, politically suicidal for Trump and nasty for ordinary Americans.
Worse, it would be a strategic error. If the US leaves its current sanctions in place the Iranian economy will grind to something of a halt. Support for the current Iranian regime, already shakey, will decline. Yes, the current regime will continue with its provocations – I have no doubt it was Iranians who put holes in the sides of two tankers. But, so what?
Exciting as a hot war with Iran would be for assorted policy wonks, it would be an expensive exercise in futility compared to a longer term cold war with some clever extras.
First off, the Americans should make it very clear to the Iranians and the world that while they are committed to freedom of navigation, they are not interested in massive responses to minor incidents. If there is to be any response at all to the tanker mines (if that is what they were) it should be very local indeed. Find the boat in the video and sink it (or one very much like it – no need to be too picky).
Second, using US cyber assets – such as they are – it is time to see just how effectively infrastructure can be disrupted rather than destroyed. A sense of humour would be a huge asset here. Being able to cut into TV broadcasts is one thing, telling jokes at the Ayatollah’s expense is another.
Third, the Israelis did a very good business in the selective assasination of Iran’s nuclear scientists. A similar tactic against Iranian civil and military officials engaged in terrorism or attacks on shipping would be throughly demoralizing for the Iranian regime.
Fourth, use US, Arab, Iranian and Israeli inteligence assets to mount a serious campaign of exposure against the corruption of the clerics and Revolutionary Guard. There is a lot of evidence that a great deal of the wealth in Iran since the Islamic Revolution has flowed to these two groups. Expose that and conduct a campaign world wide to freeze and seize those assets.
Fifth, roll up Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard operating outside Iran. Again, this need not be a shock and awe operation. Just the relentless raiding of rocket storehouses, arms depots, command and control infrastructure where ever it is located. Yes, there will be some unexplained explosions in southern Lebannon and in Syria. But there may be raids in South America and in the US and Canada. This would have the double effect of blunting Iran’s capacity to attack outside its borders and would, consequently, improve the safety of various civilian populations.
Sixth, and this should be done in any event, get to work hardening and creating redundancies in key infrastructure. A few years ago someone, who was never caught, was shooting up transformers at remote electrical substations in the US. The fact is that the grid in the US remains open to cyber attack, EMP attack, a guy with a 50 cal sniper rifle and a Carrington Event: how quickly it can recover is a matter of preparation.
President Trump has suggested that the Iraq and Afghani wars were expensive wastes of time. A war with Iran would be much more expensive and just as much a waste of time. The US and its allies have plenty of tools to fight a cool war of attrition which would be relatively cheap, have clearly defined goals and which, over time, would neuter the hardliners in Iran.
If Trump wants more people to think he is indeed “a stable genius” he’ll resist the temptation to get into an overt shooting war with Iran. Instead, he and his allies will fight from the shadows and beat the Iranian hardliners without dropping a single, traceable, bomb. (There maybe some Hellfires here and there.)