Worry that a

Ξ March 22nd, 2007 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Misc |

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Worry that a US and/or Israeli attack is in the works has spread beyond the usual suspects of left and right, and has seeped into the mainstream. Some even see it as imminent. By next month there will be two carrier groups in the Gulf. The Israeli air force is practicing bombing runs to Gibraltar and back. Bush blames Iran for instability in Iraq. The pieces are moving into place. You'll find lots of links to details of troubling recent developments here (As you can see from Jorge Hirsch's sidebar, he's cried wolf about an imminent attack before, but it's a useful collection of links.)

Very likely there will be no US or Israeli attack on Iran. No, what's far more probable is what will be presented as an Iranian attack on the US. As conservative pundit William S. Lind puts it:

It now looks as if the Bush administration may have realized that an out-of-the-blue, Pearl Harbor-style air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is politically infeasible. Instead, the White House will order a series of small "border incidents," pinpricks similar to last week's raid on an Iranian mission in Kurdistan, intended to provoke Iranian retaliation. That retaliation will then be presented as an Iranian attack on [US] forces, with the air raids on Iranian nuclear targets called "retaliation."

A Humvee blasted by an IED with Revolutionary Guard fingerprints on the circuitry, some luckless patrol-boat drawing fire, whatever. No matter how minor the skirmish, that's how it could be spun. And then, purely in self-defence, the stealth bombers and cruise missiles and who knows what else would be on their way to turn Iran's defences and nuclear facilities into 10 000 points of light.

It would be a mistake to predict immediate and inevitable disaster ensuing. The mullahs might sit and take it, even tactical nukes, refraining from retaliation for fear of worse. (This assumes, interestingly, that the 'mad mullahs' are in fact rational and deterrable, as well as cowardly.) The Strait of Hormuz might stay unblocked, thanks to Iranian caution or US boldness

Iran's supposedly unstoppable sea-skimming cruise missiles might be all destroyed in the first strike, or held in reserve, or turn out not to be unstoppable after all. Russian or Chinese technicians might not be killed, or if they are, Putin might be content to let communists and nationalists rage in Red Square until it all blows over; modulo Beijing. After a brief spike in the oil price the markets might settle their nerves and resume their upward trend. The Chinese banks might decide not to dump dollars.


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