Tuesday, February 21, 2012

War with Iran? What an insane idea

I try to stay on the topic of the real economy.  It's not that I am uninterested in other facets of public policy, but once I wander off into the deep weeds, what's to distinguish this blog from all the others with a political / public policy bent.

The topic of war and peace, however, becomes an economic topic when it involves the unprovoked attack on a country that exports oil and has the power to remove a LOT of crude from the market.  To say that an attack on Iran will trigger a global economic meltdown is probably the easiest prediction I can think of.  Just TALK about attacking Iran is already leading to speculation of $6-7 / gallon gasoline in a USA economy that is just staggering along now.  I am sure that the folks who have exhausted the last of their unemployment benefits with be thrilled to pay more for energy.

But none of that seems to matter to the warmongers.  When it comes to that crowd, they are already set to go with canned propaganda that only requires them to change one letter on the name of new official enemy.  Iran—Iraq?  Who cares?  There are wars to start, civilians to kill, and vital infrastructure to destroy. So if you think you have heard all these lies before, it's probably because you have.

Another March to War?
Matt Taibbi
POSTED: February 17, 9:40 AM ET

As a journalist, there’s a buzz you can detect once the normal restraints in your business have been loosened, a smell of fresh chum in the waters, urging us down the road to war. Many years removed from the Iraq disaster, that smell is back, this time with Iran.

You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. CNN’s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam’s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002. Here’s how the excellent Glenn Greenwald described Burnett’s rant:
It’s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn’t dare go this far because you’d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable. She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran’s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.
Like Greenwald, I was particularly struck by Burnett’s freak-out about Iran’s nuclear program, about which she said, “No one buys Iran’s claim that [it is] for peaceful purposes.” She then cited remarks by Director of Intelligence James Clapper, which, she said, “drove that message home.” But then she ran a clip with Clapper’s quote, which read as follows:
Iran’s technical advances . . . strengthen our assessment that Iran is more than capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders, specifically the Supreme Leader himself, choose to do so.
In other words, “If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons.” Unless I'm missing something, that’s a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn't it?

Virtually all of the Iran stories of late have contained some version of this sort of rhetorical sophistry. The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.” more
Glenn Greenwald takes down some of the latest media warmongering.

Some folks think the conflict is about oil.  Well if it is, Iran has set herself up for major gains against those who would harm her.
The West Is Losing The Chess Game With Iran
Russ Winter, The Wall Street Examiner | 20 FEB 12

The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events. - John Kenneth Galbraith

The western embargo against Iran’s oil seems to be running into a buzz saw. The success of any embargo will be conditioned on two variables: 1) whether Saudi Arabia can quickly ramp up production to meet European demand, and 2) whether China and Japan will cooperate.

Now, after a two-week delay, Iran is making its own chess move by cutting off supplies to French and British oil companies. With a full European embargo now in effect, the final blow will be delivered by Iran itself. AP reports that Asia has given Europe and the U.S. a “polite” bush off, with China going so far as to increase Iranian imports.

It should be pointed out that when Libya shut down production, the Saudis took it as an opportunity to game the market and little else. Forcing higher production also comes with costs, namely it harms the oil fields. Added production would also involve heavy crude, which the market doesn’t really want. Furthermore, Saudi production is already near full capacity. Finally, shipping 0.6 Mb/d more per day to Europe will involve passage through the Strait of Hormuz, and that would be a direct affront to Iran and something Saudi Arabia might wish to avoid.

One of the many under-reported stories in the West is that the Saudis have already made special arrangements to send 100% of their contracted oil to Japan and China. So it appears that the argument that Saudi Arabia will simply ramp up output to meet European demand is nothing more than cheap talk by spin doctors. more
But over the weekend, a USA general announced we really don't want to go to war with Iran.

Now it is possible that there has suddenly been an outbreak of enlightenment within the ranks of the USA military.  Possible, but highly unlikely.  What seems to be the case, according to the War Nerd, is that Iran is not as likely to be a pushover as some of the other countries we have bullied around.  In fact, Iran could lay down a world of hurt on the USA Navy.
U Sank My Carrier!
By Gary Brecher   December 11, 2002

When kids play war, they end up spending less time shooting than arguing: "You're dead!" "Am not! You missed!" It just gets worse the bigger the kids. I remember a D & D'er crying when his character got killed -- wouldn't talk to the rest of us for years, still grieving for his dead elf.

The US military has been having exactly this kind of argument, played out in the world press, since last August. They're even whinier and more of a pain about it than D&Ders, if you can believe that, with leaks and counter-leaks, planted stories, and plenty of good ol' character assassination.

It all comes out of the "Millenium Challenge '02" war games we staged in the Persian Gulf this summer. The big scandal was that the Opposing Force Commander, Gen. Paul van Ripen, quit mid-game because the games were rigged for the US forces to win. The scenario was a US invasion of an unnamed Persian Gulf country (either Iraq or Iran). The US was testing a new hi-tech joint force doctrine, so naturally van Riper used every lo-tech trick he could think of to mess things up. When the Americans jammed his CCC network, he sent messages by motorbike.

But that was just playing around. They wouldn't have minded that. Might've even congratulated van Ripen, bought him a drink for his smarts, at the post-games party.

The truth is that van Ripen did something so important that I still can't believe the mainstream press hasn't made anything of it. With nothing more than a few "small boats and aircraft," van Ripen managed to sink most of the US fleet in the Persian Gulf.

What this means is as simple and plain as a skull: every US Navy battle group, every one of those big fancy aircraft carriers we love, won't last one single day in combat against a serious enemy.

The Navy brass tried to bluff it out, but they were pretty lame about it. They just declared the sunken ships "refloated" so the game could go on as planned. This is the kind of word-game that makes the military look so damn dumb. Too bad Bonaparte never thought of that after Trafalgar. Too bad Phillip didn't demand a refloat after the Armada went down.  more
And there are are all those Chinese surface-to-ship missiles that have been bought over the years with some petro-dollars.

By Gary Brecher

I’ve been saying for a long time that aircraft carriers are just history’s most expensive floating targets, and that they were doomed.

But now I can tell you exactly how they’re going to die. I’ve just read one of the most shocking stories in years. It comes from the US Naval Institute, not exactly an alarmist or anti-Navy source. And what it says is that the US carrier group is scrap metal.

The Chinese military has developed a ballistic missile, Dong Feng 21, specifically designed to kill US aircraft carriers: “Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.” That’s the US Naval Institute talking, remember. They’re understating the case when they say that, with speed, satellite guidance and maneuverability like that, “the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased.”

You know why that’s an understatement? Because of a short little sentence I found farther on in the article—and before you read that sentence, I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you’ll think hard about what it implies. Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

That’s right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I’ve argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they’re Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.

So it doesn’t matter one god damn whether the people in the operations room of a targeted carrier could track the Dong Feng 21 as it lobbed itself at them. They might do a real hall-of-fame job of tracking it as it goes up and comes down. But so what? Let me repeat the key sentence here: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack. more

1 comment:

  1. Vai a link at C & L is the story that Iran has a banking crisis and scandle. http://mugsysrapsheet.com/2012/02/20/iranian-banking-scandal-currently-threatening-leadership-war-would-be-gift-from-gop-to-tehran/

    The story links to a Radio Free Europe article: http://www.rferl.org/content/politics_lurks_behind_iran_embezzlement_banking_scandal/24334346.html

    "“Thirty-two people suspected of involvement in a multi-billion dollar banking fraud with alleged links to the government of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have gone on trial in Tehran, the Iranian state news agency reported.

    The record embezzlement case revolves around forged documents allegedly used by the directors of the Amir Mansour Arya Investment Company to secure loans totaling $2.6 billion dollars to buy state-owned companies under the government’s privatization scheme."

    The article suggests that this is important in that we don't screw up what looks to be the natual take down of the current Iran government.

    If true, then attacking Iran would be Custer's last stand writ large. The US being Custer.