Friday, January 3, 2020

Perturbed About Persia

The killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani has me a bit perturbed. Sure, Soleimani was, as the current occupant of the White House would put it, a 'bad hombre', but he was a major player in a region characterized by shifting allegiances and conflicts of a tribal and sectarian nature that most Americans, and certainly not the current occupant of the White House, do not understand. Soleimani supported Iraqi Shiite militias that were participants in the anti-U.S. insurgency, but he also supported war efforts against the Sunni fundamentalist ISIS. Soleimani was a bad guy in a region full of bad guys, including some of the supposed good guys. In true Middle Eastern fashion, he was the supporter of our enemies and of the enemies of our enemies. I'm not mourning his death, but I have serious misgivings about what it portends.

The Iranian government has sworn revenge, as they always do, and although they can't stand toe-to-toe with the U.S. military, they have a lot of options for creating havoc. The could strike oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which would create a recession. They could strike oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. They could launch missiles into Israel. They could ramp up their support for Shiite militias in Iraq. They could launch cyberattacks on U.S. computer systems. While they are no match for the United States, they are perfectly capable of initiating a broad spectrum of attacks on U.S. interests.

Looking at the Wiki page (which is never wrong) for Iran, it has a population of approximately eighty-two million, which would make an invasion of the country a harrowing endeavor. It is also less subject to factionalism than Iraq, which has three large demographic divisions. I doubt that any of our allies would join in with the U.S. on yet another war of choice... though the Saudis would cheer from the sidelines as Americans died to advance their Sunni fundamentalist cause in the Middle East. I don't think that even Trump is dumb enough to start yet another land war in Asia, but I have a suspicion that he doesn't have any plan for a follow up on Soleimani's death, that he is just spiking the football and thinks that he's won. Meanwhile, we're not in the runup to war, we're now in one- one doesn't just kill a high ranking military commander of another country and claim that it wasn't an act of war.

Perhaps my greatest misgiving is a sinking feeling that the American media will gloss over the costs, human and otherwise, of the wars that we have been engaged in since 2001, and will end up cheerleading for a yet another war. Already, a campaign of misinformation is being waged on the American public by administration officials, with Mike Pence attempting, poorly, to attach blame for the 9/11 attacks on the Iranians:

Not only does he get the number of terrorists wrong, but he completely ignores the Saudi complicity in the attacks.

As far as Trump himself goes, there's a tweet for everything, and the idea that he killed Soleimani to distract the public from his ongoing legal problems is not far-fetched.

I just have the feeling that the news media will screw this up again, and that we are entering yet another quagmire that will end up in more dead Americans. I also suspect that Trump and his cronies have invested in arms manufacturers' stocks, and stand to make a killing on the killing. I also believe that this misadventure could spell the end of NATO- to use a Yonkers-appropriate analogy, if your drinking buddy keeps starting barfights, you stop drinking with him.

Whatever happens, it looks to me like there's a supreme shitstorm a-brewin'. There's no doubt that Iran will escalate the conflict, and there will be, at minimum, the sort of asymmetric warfare that will disrupt the world economy. I haven't even looked at the price of gasoline today, and gasoline is far less precious than blood.


Grung_e_Gene said...

The Pence lies about 9/11 were floated under the W(orst) Maladministration to tie in Iran during the Axis of Evil days.

mikey said...

Yes. There's ZERO chance of an actual ground war - an invasion of Iran would be impossible. There's just no place to safely stage the 100-200,000 troops and equipment that it would require, and if you COULD stage (in, say, Iraq) the march across hundreds of kilometers of mountainous terrain would be a bloodbath.

Nope - Iran will respond in two ways - drive up the cost in American lives and starve the western nations of oil supplies. The US will respond to that retaliation by bombing nuclear and oil production facilities. The Iranians will respond by mining the strait of hormuz. The US will respond with cruise missile strikes against Tehran. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The genie is out of the bottle - I can't see any way this ends...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It's depressing to see the media feature the opinions of people who should have been sent to the Hague after the Iraq invasion.

Yeah, this isn't going to end anytime soon. It'll be interesting to see how Russia and China react.