Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Get'cher Other War On

Here we go again?

I already don't trust the intelligence and I haven't even seen it. That's what happens when the president cries 'wolf' one (or ten or a hundred) times too many.

On the other hand, if Iran really did do it...then is there any alternative to knocking the hell out of them? Or are we in such dire straights that we have to ignore even attacks this serious?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iran in all likelyhood has done exactly what the admintration claims, and I doubt that Iran will even bother to issue more than pro forma, PDRK-style denials. Iran is well aware that there really is very little we can do against them right now, and still more aware that the more effort they put into sowing choas through their proxies in Iraq the less we can do. The model they are clearly using is the Lebanese civil war, with themselves cast as Syria and the US cast as Israel. It's a good strategy for them too: 20 years of civil war has served to give Syria a way of tying up the Isreali army, striking Israel indirectly whenever they please, and keeping their own people inflamed at ever fresh foreign outrages and off the streets of Damascus. Iran can make use of the same strategy at very little cost.

This comparison should depress you.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, how about strategic bombing, but no boots on the ground?

Not that I'm advocating that, mind you.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the bombing would only count as 'strategic' - more than a just a way to look to be doing *something* - if it either: a) destroyed their ability to carry on with the policies that annoy us, or b) softened them up for invasion. Now, unless the DOD has a bomb that can seek out every sheet metal stamping machine and stack of cash in Iran, then bombing cannot hope to reduce Iran's ability to increase strife in Iraq whenever they feel like. As for the latter, well c'mon...

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Josh Marshall over at TPM for his take on this, I think it is good.

We can't hit these guys. Rather, we can, but we shouldn't. It would be bad, bad, bad.

Plus, who in their right mind believes anything the administration says? Parce the article, look at the sources (none), and the premise (Iraqis are too dumb to have done this) and even accept it as true (Iran is no fan of us and is trying and succeeding in harming us). What's the result? People are killing us because they don't like us or our policies. So how do we respond to this?

And for what it's worth, I am somewhat opposed to your question, WS (it is a good question, but it is loaded). The idea that we smack back at people who cause us harm to prove a point (which would be, we can smack back) is not all that smart. We can bomb people, we can certainly inflict casualites on those that are exponentially higher than they did on us.

In the what. It doesn't make us safer, it kills people, and the military porn types get a boner, it fades, and then they start talking about Syria or whatever.

Having a sound diplomatic policy that does not involve "showing" people that we can in fact (and often in deed) kill them in huge numbers is what is needed. Cripes, is the only response we have to someone harming us to invade? (not your answer, but it appears that a military response is de facto a serious response). That is silly, dumb, and dangerous (again, not your position, but the position of many).

As evidence, witness Europe in the 80s, which was subject to many awful terrorist attacks. Uh, who did they invade? Who did they bomb? What is life like there now? Who won that war on terror?

I wish so mightily that proble-solving as opposed to dick-measuring was the standard by which foreign policiy was measured. Why can't the USA declare "I am an adult" and stop trying to prove it through violence? We should be past this, but we are moving backwards at a rapid rate. There is a reason that our moral authority is lacking...we abused it, and for the dumbest of all reasons. We had brains, but we felt the need to prove we had balls.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Actually, if I'm not mistaken, strategic bombing is any bombing with a bigger-than-tactical goal. So, e.g., degrading infrastructure or manufacturing capacity.

Um...wait, you're opposed to *the question*?, we can't even ask it?

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As it is currently phrased, the first part assumes we should knock the hell out of them, but appears to be open to other ideas. However, "if" there is in fact an alternative, the second part of your question equates any such alternative with ignoring the situation. That is why I said it is loaded.

There are alternatives to knocking the hell out of them, and they don't necessarily mean that we are ignoring the situation.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose any bombing can count as strategic as long as it's part of some kind of plan, however ill-conceived, at least on your reckoning of strategy. But if what you want is to use bombing as a method of stopping Iran from sponsoring its proxies in Iraq to prolong the civil war, then either: The bombs have to somehow make it very difficult for Iran to distribute small arms, bomb parts, and bribes, or they have to be do so much damage to Iran itself that its goverment will do as we say in order to stop it. The first option is a practical impossibility. It's not as though there were a few factories that make weapons, or a few bridges to Iraq. The second option is not impossible I suppose, but would be difficult (this is the country that absorbed, what, 3 million casualties in its war with Iraq?) and very evil at the level of distruction you would require. That's why there is no strategic bombing option, if what that is implies a hope for success.

Strategic bombing really is one of the worst ideas of the 20th century. Maybe responsible for more deliberate, pointless death than any idea that wasn't a political idealogy. It enjoyed some very limited success during the second world war, when Germany - before it wised up - had maybe one ball bearing plant. But once you take bombing and try to use it to replace boots on the ground when fighting, say, the distribution of arms and cash to insurgents, you end up destroying whole regions (and, um, killing people) to little strategic effect. Or do you think burning and defoliating half of Laos was a good strategy against the Viet Cong?

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to pile on, but I think Anonymous gets to the nub of the issue.

Any tactical strike can easily acheive strategic status if it is included in "the big picture" of a war.

This is a bad definition.

On the other side, strategic bombing is never a reaction to a particular event, instead, it is a pre-defined plan to demolish certain resources in a methodical way in order to achieve long-term goals.

As a result, any attempt to link an event or "cause for action" to a strategic bombing campaign falls flat. It is either a reaction (tactical), or a fig leaf. If strategy demands a bombing do it. You don't wait for a reason (or, in this case, an excuse). You do it because it is an effective way to fight a war and bring that war to an end sooner rather than later.

In short, you must be at war (in all senses of the word) for the idea of strategic bombing to have any type of coherence. Otherwise, you are just bombing shit for tactical (at best) reasons. The more likely underlying cause is political.

I actually think that is a term (political bombing) that should be adopted in this context. It may have been applicable in Kosovo and other places as well. The use of force to project force without any articulable rationale in the terms of recognizable military goals.

The term strategic bombing only makes sense if the overall, long-term goal is to bring hostilities to an end by destroying the enemy's ability to function in the ways that are necessary to continue a war. Air strikes against Iran woefully fail to satisfy this requirement, as such, they are at best tactical, at least political, and most likely...fucking stupid.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention that the entire predicate for all this talk is, shall we say, less than valid (as is the talk about prospects for the surge):

1:09 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I'm not exactly sure where A and A-funk are coming from here...maybe I should read their comments more carefully...


1. Everybody knows that the strategic/tactical distinction is a fuzzy one, right? So all those points can be swept off the table.

2. I'm familiar with the history of strategic bombing, in particular in WWII, but I don't see how that's relevant since

3. The munitions available to us today are vastly more precise than what was available in WWII.


4. I wasn't talking about anything other than punitive strikes here. Not talking about stopping their nuke program or any such thing. Knocking out some bridges are whatever seems like a legitimate option lying between (a) do nothing and (b) invade. Nothing said above shows this to be wrong, though I have no commitment to this option.


5. OF COURSE we can't believe the administration's claims about this. Not given the info currently available and not without LOTS more actually real, uncooked evidence. But that's, yet again, beside the point. This is a hypothetical.

1:16 PM  

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