Sunday, April 09, 2006

# Posted 6:50 PM by Patrick Porter  

BOMBING FOR REVOLUTION: Seymour Hersh alleges from inside sources that there is a plan afoot for air strikes on Iran.

If this is true, and if his sources have accurately reported on the outlines of the plan's objectives, it is highly problematic. It would be difficult enough to succeed in bombing if its only purpose was to degrade Iran's military capabilities by destroying its underground (possible) nuclear facilities. According to war-gaming reported by the Atlantic, the strategic risks and logistical difficulties would be considerable.

But the supposed plan seems doubly ill-conceived, because it comes with a highly ambitious expectation. Namely, that the bombing would trigger a political revolution inside Iran:

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that 'a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.'
This gives a sharper edge to the phrase 'revolution from above.' Thousands of feet above. But what if air strikes had the opposite effect? What if they
united and rallied lots of wavering Iranians around the government? What if that situation stifled internal dissent even further? What if it weakened internal liberal opposition?

While bombing can have valuable effects, the psychological and political effects of bombing are slippery to measure, and hard to predict. To expect that airstrikes alone would politically neutralise the Iranian threat seems highly cavalier.

But, only if that is what they are thinking.
(18) opinions -- Add your opinion

But the supposed plan seems doubly ill-conceived, because it comes with a highly ambitious expectation. Namely, that the bombing would trigger a political revolution inside Iran

I agree, Patrick, butit wouldn't be the first gross miscalculation the administration has made in SW Asia, would it?

Sorry, I'm crossing over from snarky to cheeky.

Congrats on the new position by the way. Best of luck.
The Sunday Times corroberates Hersh's account via a 'senior White House official'.
Like Atlantics wargamers weren't a bunch of pansy liberals.

Sounds like Oxbolg is siding with Ahmadinejad against the liberation of Iran...
Come on, stress, you can do better than that. How about: "OxBlog's secret agenda is to keep Ahmedinejad in power so that it can hector and bully dovish liberals about their failure to endorse democracy promotion at the point of a bayonet?"
First: I'm not surprised that the US has a variety of options on the planning table that depend on events as they unfold, and I'm sure the simplistic way only one of them is being described is false.

Second: Sy Hersh? C'mon, his stuff hasn't been worth getting one's panties in a bunch over for decades, if even back then.
It's bullshit. They don't think that they will start a revolution in Iran by dropping bombs. Does anyone else remember this converstation from a few months ago when Hersh wrote the first article about bombing Iran or when he wrote the same article about Pakistan?

I would like to point out that if you bomb anything enough you will eventually destroy it. Nobody wants to see a military solution to this problem, but if you had to get rid of it you could.
Seymour Hersch gave us the over-hyped Abu Ghraib story of alleged 'torture' of prisoners, as well as the first GITMO story raising questions of torture there. Hersch's stock-in-trade is to get the kernel of a story and then speculate beyond all reason till he has a story, and answers questions later...much later.
Even the military objectives of bombing strike me as unlikely to be completely achieved. Surely Iran has learned something from the Osirak strike, and plenty of people other than Hersh have pointed out the technical assistance on fortified underground structures that Iran has received from Russia.
This makes little sense. If we accept that the Administration is prepared to use extreme measures, why would they use a nuclear strike. The world reaction would be catastrophic for us. I think it much more likely that a covert operation to engineer a failure of one of their plants would be used. A release of radioactivity would be detectable by third parties, and cause internal rejection of the entire nuclear program.
It would be highly irresponsible of the Government not to have contingency plans to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities. So Hersh is certainly correct if he asserts that such plans exist. Anything else Hersh says is just a figment of his very active imagination.
old seymour is at it again. yellow journalism is his stock and trade. this time he brings out the real bogeyman—tactical nuclear bombs, as the crowds duck and cover. there’s his article and then there’s this


it is some version of that or a newer big brother that will be doing the heavy lifting if that day comes. seymour is no dummy. these weapons are so huge that they leave a mushroom cloud if detonated on the surface. his next story will be, screaming at the pentagon to prove that the mushroom clouds that everybody saw weren’t nuclear. of course iran will say they were and all the world’s double digit IQ’ers will believe them until years later when the truth comes out. the damage will have been done—seymour’s original intent!

oj was innocent, no wmd’s and of course there were no conections between saddam and terrorists……..
Gosh, Porter, just when I thought you were getting smart. I know you weasely, lamb loving Aussies don't understand about nuclear war, but isn't the point to have an effective, credible, threat when you go in and sit down? Maybe you should spend some more time in history classes than out with the sheep. Go home.
Hersh wrote essentially the same article in January of 05, except the knicker-twister in that story was SOF incursions into Iran instead of radioactive bunker-busters.

Given that 95% of any Hersh story is unnamed "sources", I refuse to get too excited about this, but I will boldly predict that the left side of the blogoshere will add an extra set of horns on Bush over it.
Hey all,

some quick points:

I agree it would be irresponsible for the Administration not to contemplate the use of force, or the threat of it, at some point.

Secondly, I did not oppose the 'liberation of Iran' or the
need for a 'credible threat.' I would like to see the theocracy
overthrown and its arms program halted. And Patrick, I happen to believe there was a strong connection between Saddam and terrorists.

I am concerned, however,
about how the Iranian liberation can be done. Call me old mr cautious, but I'm not
sure a full-scale war will be
politically possible, and I'm not
sure air strikes alone will do the job.

My post was quite specific: I questioned whether air strikes will have a certain desired political effect. To question
the logic behind a certain military action is not to side with Ahmadinejad.

To those of you who agree that this distinction is obvious, sorry to labour the point.
Its great to see Anonymous back, missing the point with panache. Anonymous, its come to my attention that you are insane.
Porter, you old lampskin, you know I am only writing in jest because the sheep are missing you. But why pick the name gorillaz to reply? A tad, hmm, I don't, racist? in a mysterious jar-jar sort of way? Bah-bah black sheep.
diplomatic approaches are the only choice here. all our political capital has been spent in Iraq.
The point, as James Fallows has it in the Atlantic, is that there is no good option here. If Iran is hell bent on the bomb, we can't stop them without unleashing a possible all out war. We can point fingers over past follies and missed opportunities, but it seems that the real issue we need to come to grips with is that there are some problems--great big ones--that we can't resolve in any acceptable manner. That strikes me as the lesson to learn here: the beginning of the end of US world dominance.
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