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Here’s how you’ll know we’re about to go to war with Iran — right now, we’re not – Washington Examiner

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National security adviser John Bolton might be open to war with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might also. But not so much President Trump, who has distanced himself from these top two advisers.

There is no good evidence that the Trump administration is preparing for war with Iran. Recent actions over the past two weeks to reduce the U.S. vulnerability to Iranian attacks are justified by intelligence reporting, Iran’s ideology and track record, and the standing threat. But were the United States about to go to war with Iran we would see the following:

First, we would have to stage an extremely large air and naval force buildup in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf, for strike operations inside Iran and defeat of Iran’s naval forces. We’d also have to do it in the Mediterranean Sea, to help defend Israel against Iranian ballistic missile attacks and to complicate Russian action via its Black Sea fleet.

At present, the U.S. has only one carrier strike group near Iran. The Trump administration has not altered the course of another strike group that could have been sent back toward the Persian Gulf. And the only other deployed U.S. carrier group is conducting Russia-minded naval exercises in the Arctic.

The Iranian navy and air force are far bigger than the Iraqi forces were in March 2003, and so war against Iran would almost certainly entail at least five concurrently deployed carrier strike groups. On the Air Force side of things we would also see multiple fighter and bomber squadrons deployed to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. We are seeing instead a limited B-52 deployment, which would be largely useless in the opening stages of any campaign (first stage strike operations would focus on achieving air superiority, and involve B-2 bombers and electronic warfare aircraft).

Second, we would see a massive ground force deployment in Saudi Arabia (none of Iran’s neighbors would likely allow U.S. invasion forces access). Iran is three times the size of Iraq, with a far more powerful regular and irregular military. Those factors alone would require U.S. ground deployment in the region of at least 500,000 ground assault forces. Note, here, that the 120,000 forces mentioned in reporting this week are very likely related to contingency planning. And they aren’t even deployed!

Third, if we were headed to war with Iran, we would also see the White House engaged in a domestic political sales pitch for war. Overthrowing Iran’s regime would be incredibly complicated and bloody. The Iranian revolutionaries would not yield to U.S. forces in the manner of Iraq’s military. Instead, they would fight and thousands of American military personnel would likely die before Iran had transitioned to post-regime stability.

Regardless of moral concerns, to fail to prepare the American people for such a sacrifice would invite catastrophic political damage onto the Trump administration. Even if you accept, which I certainly do not, that the Trump administration’s current activities on Iran are designed to provide cover for war, would you not think that the administration would be a little more alarmist? I mean, the current warnings of possible attacks in the Strait of Hormuz or on U.S. forces in Iraq are hardly sufficient casus belli.

Until you see the above developments, don’t worry that war with Iran is imminent.

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