Iran Has Been Waging War Against the United States for Thirty Years

Seeing as how one of our own has been reporting on Iran’s latest act of war against the United States, it seemed to me that a short history might be in order.

I originally wrote the piece below (in blockquotes) for SayAnything, but the old posts did not survive the most recent upgrade there.  Fortunately, I say fortunately, I keep copies of my draft posts in safe locations (much as Foghorn Leghorn numbered all his feathers) against just such contingencies…

The timeline below is new.

 

1979 Nov 04     Iranian “student activists” [including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is the current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran] storm and seize the United States Embassy in Tehran.  As all embassies are considered the sovereign territory of the Nation they represent, this is an act of war.

1980 Apr 24     President James Earl “Dhimmy” Carter launches operation Eagle Claw from the White House Operations Center.  The raid, intended to liberate and extract the 55 hostages being held by Iran, fails after a ground collision resulting in the loss of eight U. S. Service members and one Iranian and the destruction of two aircraft.

1980 Sep 22     Iraq launches an invasion of Iran, subsequently receiving intelligence support (targeting information) from the United States

1981 Jan 20     Minutes after Ronald Reagan is sworn in as President of the United States (and 444 days after being imprisoned), Iran releases the hostages to U. S.  control per an agreement signed on 19 April.

1983 Oct 23     Islamic Jihad (a client of Hezbulluh and thus Iran, via instructions relayed from Tehran to the Iranian Ambassador to Syria [also a client of Iran]) detonate a truck bomb at the compound of the U. S. Marines (1st of the 8th) in Beirut, Lebannon.  241 U. S. personnel are KIA.

1987 Sep 21     U. S. Forces detect the motor vessel Iran Ajar (Iranian registry and crew) laying mines in international waters.  The vessel is attacked by U. S. Army Helicopters operating from the USS Jarrett (FFG-33).  The vessel is subsequently seized by Navy SEALS who document all  the remaining mines.

1987 Oct 19    MV Seal Isle City, then anchored in Kuwaiti waters (having been escorted by U. S. forces under Operation Ernest Will to Kuwaiti waters) was struck by a Silkworm missile fired from the Iranian occupied Al Faw peninsula.  Later that day U. S. forces attack, and effectively destroy, two oil platforms in Iran’s Rostam (now Rashadat) oil fields which had been used to track neutral shipping and provide targeting information for small craft and SSM’s.

1988 Feb 17    LtCol William R. “Rich” Higgins, USMC, while serving with UN Peacekeeping forces in Lebannon, is captured by hezbulluh, and subsequently tortured and eventually murdered.

1988 Apr 14    USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG-58) strikes an Iranian Mine previously laid by the Iran Ajar in international waters.

1988 Apr 18     In retaliation for the mining of USS Samuel B Roberts, U. S. Armed Forces launch Operation Praying Mantis.  Two Iranian oil rigs (Sassan and Sirri) are effectively destroyed by U. S. Forces.  Two Iranian warships (Joshan and Sahand) are sunk and a third (Sabalan) damaged such that it had to be towed back into port.  Various Iranian small combatants (speed boats) and Aircraft were damaged or destroyed.  U. S. losses were two Marine Aviators in a  operational incident (crash).

1988 Jul 03     While engaged against Iranian surface forces in the Strait of Hormuz, USS Vincennes (CG-49) engages and destroys Iranian Air flight 655 taking off from the dual use (Military and Civil) airfield at Bandar Abbas.

1988 Aug 20    Iran/Iraq war ends in a cease fire.

1996 Jun 25     Khobar Towers.  Iranian supplied and trained terrorists (hezbolluh al hejaz) bomb Khobar Towers where U. S. Air Force personnel are quartered.  19 U. S. Servicemen KIA.

2007                  Iran provides arms and IED’s to anti-US forces in Iraq and anti-NATO forces in Afghanistan.

2008 Oct 20     Iraqi forces capture 7 Iranian Quods agents operating in Iraq.

2010 ??? ??        Western Intelligence agencies launch the stuxnet virus against Iranian nuclear program.

2011 Oct 11     Indictments unsealed in NYC naming Iran as agent provocateur for planned embassy bombings (Saudi Arabia and Israel) and assasination (Saudi Ambassador) attempts in the United States.

 

Iran as sponsor of  Terrorists

IRGC (Pasdaran)    The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is the ONLY military formation in Iran that has been kept up to date in terms of equipment and training since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Quods                      A semi independent formation under the Pasdaran charged with supporting islamic revolutionary forces outside of Iran.  Quods are the primary conduit for support to Syria, hezbulluh, and other Iranian clients.

hezbolluh (the party of allah)     The Quods force proxy of Iran in Lebannon.

 

Quare Persia Delenda Est

“Why Persia Must Be Destroyed”

…Wars are inherently bad things; innocents are killed, property is destroyed, human suffering is increased.  Yet wars are sometimes both necessary and the less evil option.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

I will thus grant the point: Attacking Iran would indeed be a bad thing.

But — would it be better or worse in terms of foreseeable consequences than tolerating the status quo?

Iran as terrorism central

While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is correctly viewed as the wellspring of Wahabbism and thus the spread of radical Islam [as well as a key funder of radical mohammedeans globally], they are not the primary sponsor of Islamist terrorism.  That distinction belongs to Iran.

The Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) are the mullahs primary tool for directing, funding, and equipping Islamist terrorism world wide.  They are the paymasters behind Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Mahdi Army, and the Taliban.  They have links to virtually every Islamic terrorist organization at some level.

Iran is also a principal supplier of arms and explosives to foreign fighters operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Iran’s War on the United States

Iran has both technically and actively been making war on the United States for more than thirty years.  The revolution which brought the mad mullahs to power began with the seizure of a United States Embassy and the imprisonment of our mission to Iran.  They have remained active against the United States by attacking the Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon via their Hezbollah proxies, and continue their hostilities via proxy to this day by arming and supporting various insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Ignoring the Problem has not improved the situation

Despite an unending string of provocations, the United States has not waged war against Iran.  The closest we have come to directly engaging was a limited naval campaign, and we have otherwise limited ourselves to containment (limited support of Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war), diplomacy, and economic sanctions.  Demonstrably these lesser measures have not succeeded in altering the behavior of the mad mullahs.

 

Ramifications of conflict with Iran

The downside has been stated thus:

The worst-case downside is appallingly bad. It could rally the Iranian population behind that mullahs – a population that right now is very unhappy with their leadership, and somewhat pro-American. That would all be swept away, and even worse, it could rally the majority Sunni muslims behind the minority Shi’ites in Iran in a way no other event possibly could. It would be the polarization of the West versus Islam that Osama bin Laden has long been seeking. It could end the disunity in the Muslim world that thus far has worked to the West’s advantage.

It could rally the Iranian population.  But then again Iran’s population is far from heterogeneous.  It is not even majority Persian, and only barely majority Shia.  The odds are at least as good that a disabling attack would instead result in a shattering of national unity and civil war.

It could indeed cause Shia and Sunni to join in common cause.  Or not.  Much the same was claimed with regard to invading Iraq.  What resulted was an increase in sectarian violence, not its remission or redirection towards the “Crusaders”.

As regards being a polarizing event, almost certainly not.  There is no love to lose between the Arabs and the Persians, and scarcely any more between Shia and Sunni.

It has been further argued that “Anti-Zionism” is the one tie that binds Muslim states.  At a rhetorical level, this is certainly true.  In practice, it is a rhetorical point.  Every Arab nation which has made war upon the state of Israel has drawn back a bleeding stump.

As regards Iran stepping up it’s activities in Iraq, their ability to do so would depend on the resources they have left after the cessation of military operations by the United States.  I would argue that a well planned and executed limited campaign would leave Iran with few resources and fewer options when it comes to stirring the pot in Iraq, and everywhere else its Qods force operates.

One truly laughable assertion is that Iranian overt military operations would result in anything other than disaster for the Iranians.  Iran and Iraq engaged in a decade long war which was a bloody stalemate.  In the aftermath of that stalemate the United States twice went through the experienced and re-armed Iraqi Army like shit through a goose.  Iran has not been able to re-arm to the extent that Iraq was able to and has not consistently trained it’s armed forces in the intervening decades.  To suggest they would be as credible a force, or more credible than the Iraqi’s were, is asinine.  A conventional war between Iran and the American Forces currently in Iraq and Afghanistan would effectively gut the Iranian ability to wage war, and would likely end with the occupation of Tehran.

 

Iran’s push for Nuclear Weapons

One of the most important, if not The driving factor for military operations against Iran, is their nuclear weapons program.  Israeli intelligence now holds that Iran will have working nuclear weapons by 2009 [A software viral attach by one or more of the Western Powers has deferred this to 2012 or later]. The nuclear histories of South Africa and Pakistan lend credence to this assessment. The wild card here of course is the Mad Mullahs who actually run Iran. It is no stretch of the imagination to posit a first Iranian nuclear test occurring over Tel Aviv. The consequences of such a use would make all of the above worst case scenarios pale in comparison.

 

Given a choice between all of the above worst case scenarios, and the specter of the Mad Mullahs armed with nuclear weapons, military action remains the far lesser of the potential evils.

Conclusion

Were it not for the demonstrated incompetence and lack of resolve of the current (P)resident, it would seem to be  time and long past time that this particular serpent had its head crushed. As it stands, waiting for a competent administration would seem prudent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P. S.

The U. S. Attorney for New York should be more than capable of prosecuting the case against the Iranian agents operating within the United States.  The “professional assistance” of Attorney General Eric Holder, who is long overdue for a criminal prosecution himself, is extraneous.

RE: Mormonism
Why I Call Myself Conservative
  • Anonymous

    WAR!!!

    Funny how y’all fall into line when the likes of Obama, Holder and Clinton blow the right dog whistle.  Especially the armchair generals.  You (or I) wouldn’t believe Holder if he told you the sun will set today, but you’ll believe him when he’s pimping for an exciting war you can watch other Americans fight on cable news. 

    Some Persians might say the US was waging war against them since 1953, when the CIA overthrew the elected PM Mossadegh.  Mossadegh was a secular democrat who demanded 50% of Iran’s oil revenues for Iran.  For that chutzpah, he was overthrown and replaced with the megalomaniac tyrant, Shah.  The Shah terrorized his subjects for 25 years until he was overthrown by Khomani.

    Of course, we helped out Saddam in his attacks on Iran, even though that was naked aggression, and got a lot of Iranians (and Iraqis) killed, too.  

    • Anonymous

      You get an uptick for highlighting the significant past history left out by Rodney.
      I also agree that, as previously stated, you can be highly skeptical of all O administration statements until they are disproven, and thereafter you can call them lies.  
      I would point out you left out the horribly distorted and racist depictions of Persian Aggression in “300″ which undoubtedly inflamed the mullahs to plot to send the US-based diplomats from Saudi and Israel down the deep dark pit within the beltway.

      • Anonymous

        I was just reading yesterday how Alexander cut through the Persian king’s army “with its camp followers” easily.   “300″ was a bit over the top, too bad they didn’t make the movie from the novel Gates of Fire instead of a comic book.    I suppose it was unfair to the Persians to leave out how the Spartans were big on pederasty, too.

        • retired.military

          Acutally Chico, (I had to look up pederasty to see what it meant).

          and yes I know Wiki has its problems but at least it lists seperate sources. (it acutally says yes and no on your statement ref Sparta).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederasty_in_ancient_Greece

          Sparta
          Sparta, a Dorian polis, is thought to be the first city to practice athletic nudity, and one of the first to formalize pederasty.[72] The Spartans believed that the love of an older, accomplished aristocrat for an adolescent was essential to his formation as a free citizen. The agoge, the education of the ruling class, was thus founded on pederastic relationships required of each citizen.[73] The lover was responsible for the boy’s training. Pederasty and military training were intimately connected in Sparta, as in many other cities. The Spartans, claims Athenaeus[74] sacrificed to Eros before every battle.
          The nature of this relationship is in dispute. Xenophon in his Constitution of the Lacedaimonians says that the relationship among Spartan man and boys “were opposed to” pederasty, that man should make “ideal friends” out of boys, and if that the man was sexually attracted to the boy, it was considered “an abomination” tantamount to incest.[75] Plutarch also describes the relationships as chaste, and states that it was as unthinkable for a lover to sexually consummate a relationship with his beloved as for a father to do so with his own son.[76] Aelian relates that in Sparta, for a man to not have a youth for a lover was considered a deficiency in character, and he was punished for not making another as good as he was himself, despite his excellence.[77] But Aelian also says that if any couple succumbed to temptation and indulged in carnal relations, they would have to redeem the affront to the honor of Sparta by either going into exile or taking their own lives.[78]

          • Anonymous

            Well, it sounds pretty creepy, doesn’t it?  But the Spartans were at least semi-cool with it.  Shows how things have changed.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            Most of what you write sounds creepy.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        @DocEpador:disqus , I trust your tongue was planted firmly in your cheek when you wrote:

        the horribly distorted and racist depictions of Persian Aggression in
        “300″ which undoubtedly inflamed the mullahs to plot to send the
        US-based diplomats from Saudi and Israel down the deep dark pit within
        the beltway.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        @DocEpador:disqus Not germane to my thesis.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        @DocEpador:disqus Not germane to my thesis.

    • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

      Thanks for highlighting the fact that the histories between the US and Iran did not start in 1979.  Rodney’s timeline leaves out some key events (and decades).  If we’re gonna look at history, then it probably makes sense to look at more than just the starting date for the revolution in ’79.

      • jim_m

        Not necessarily.  While you might say that the current regime gets its animus against the US from events that occurred before the revolution, that is not important when one is presenting an argument that Iran has been at war with the US ever since then.  It may serve to explain why Iran has chosen to effectively be at war with the US but it doesn’t do anything to support the claim that they are.

        Besides that, I would argue that Iran’s reasons for their belligerent stance toward the US have less to do with what happened pre-revolution than it does with their religious ideology.

        • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

          “Not necessarily.  While you might say that the current regime gets its
          animus against the US from events that occurred before the revolution,
          that is not important when one is presenting an argument that Iran has
          been at war with the US ever since then.”

          I am not saying that the current regime gets its animus from the histories that took place before 1979.  I’m sure they do draw from those histories, but they also have all sorts of rationalizations for their actions (ideological, etc).  What I am saying is that if we’re going to look at history, then we should look at history.  Rodney’s timeline starts with the moment when the proverbial shit hit the fan, and focuses on the conflicts over the last three decades.  But it also omits the relationships and conflicts that existed before that.  Rodney’s timeline of conflicts provides a limited frame for looking at things, since it only looks at the moment when everything really exploded.  My overall argument is that in order to understand the extremist regime that’s in power in Iran today, it makes sense to look back to what precipitated the events in 1979.  Selective history doesn’t do anyone any good.

          “Besides that, I would argue that Iran’s reasons for their belligerent
          stance toward the US have less to do with what happened pre-revolution
          than it does with their religious ideology.”

          That’s precisely because you’re only looking at events from 1979 forward.  Yes, the current regime is extremist, and a bunch of autocratic, power hungry religious zealots.  But the “belligerent stance” of Iran toward the US has deeper roots than the extremists who took over following ’79.  The rule of the Shah, which was repressive and corrupt, set the stage for the extremist takeover that happened in the late 1970s.  And then things got worse–for US/Iran relations and for the Iranian people themselves.  Boiling everything down to a matter of religious ideology completely sidesteps all of the other factors that have created the current situation.  The current regime didn’t just magically appear and start changing things.  Yes, the ideology of the current regime is absolutely a factor, but its definitely NOT the sole factor that explains what led us to this point.  That’s why Chico’s point about the events before 1979 matter.  The repressive government of the Shah was a breeding ground for inequality and, eventually revolution.  The lack of a strong civil society (due to political assassinations etc) set the stage for the extremist takeover, which has been firmly entrenched for thirty plus years.

          • jim_m

            Let me be more blunt:  What do any actions of the US have to do with an argument for the idea that Iran has been at war with the US for the last 30 years?

            The only facts that are important to support that thesis are the actions and words of Iran since then.  Whether or not there is any argument for what their cause of action might be is not relevant. 

            My point is that bringing up their casus belli is simply taking an opportunity to gratuitously bash the US.  Are we the same government as we were in 1979?  I think not. Should we be held to account for actions that took place 30-50+ years ago.  NO.  The only reason to bring up the US relationship with the Shah is to distract from the argument that Rodney makes and the point of it is to place the blame for Iran’s actions on the US.  The blame for their actions lies upon themselves and no one else.

            If Iran wants to pursue and escalate a war with the US it is not for reasons that are half a century old.  At least such reasons are not legitimate today.

          • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            Iran is indeed responsible for its actions, I am in total agreement with you there.  And I am not arguing otherwise.  History doesn’t absolve anyone from their actions.  My point is that Rodney’s timeline is limited, and it kind of gives a skewed view of the relationships and conflicts between the US and Iran.  It’s pretty fair to say that the tensions and conflicts started at least as far back as the post WWII years.

            “My point is that bringing up their casus belli is simply taking an opportunity to gratuitously bash the US.”

            I don’t think that’s the case at all.  Taking time to look at deeper histories here just makes sense to me, especially if we want to understand this longstanding conflict.  I think that just looking at the post-revolutionary years makes things seem more simple than they really are.  The US-Iran conflicts are not just about religion and ideology.

            “The only reason to bring up the US relationship with the Shah is to
            distract from the argument that Rodney makes and the point of it is to
            place the blame for Iran’s actions on the US.  The blame for their
            actions lies upon themselves and no one else.”

            Absolutely not.  The current regime is responsible for its own actions, and the people of Iran are the ones who probably pay the biggest price.  I don’t see how trying to understand the histories the relationship between the US and Iran in any way places blame, and I certainly don’t think that any of this absolves the current regime of its actions.  Not in the least.  They came into power on the heels of a revolution, basically eliminated all opposition, and created a deeply entrenched autocratic, repressive regime.

          • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            Iran is indeed responsible for its actions, I am in total agreement with you there.  And I am not arguing otherwise.  History doesn’t absolve anyone from their actions.  My point is that Rodney’s timeline is limited, and it kind of gives a skewed view of the relationships and conflicts between the US and Iran.  It’s pretty fair to say that the tensions and conflicts started at least as far back as the post WWII years.

            “My point is that bringing up their casus belli is simply taking an opportunity to gratuitously bash the US.”

            I don’t think that’s the case at all.  Taking time to look at deeper histories here just makes sense to me, especially if we want to understand this longstanding conflict.  I think that just looking at the post-revolutionary years makes things seem more simple than they really are.  The US-Iran conflicts are not just about religion and ideology.

            “The only reason to bring up the US relationship with the Shah is to
            distract from the argument that Rodney makes and the point of it is to
            place the blame for Iran’s actions on the US.  The blame for their
            actions lies upon themselves and no one else.”

            Absolutely not.  The current regime is responsible for its own actions, and the people of Iran are the ones who probably pay the biggest price.  I don’t see how trying to understand the histories the relationship between the US and Iran in any way places blame, and I certainly don’t think that any of this absolves the current regime of its actions.  Not in the least.  They came into power on the heels of a revolution, basically eliminated all opposition, and created a deeply entrenched autocratic, repressive regime.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            “Rodney’s timeline of conflicts provides a limited frame for looking at things, since it only looks at the moment when everything really exploded.  My overall argument is that in order to understand the extremist regime that’s in power in Iran today, it makes sense to look back to what precipitated the events in 1979.  Selective history doesn’t do anyone any good.”

            You’re right, there are facts omitted.  Such as the October Surprise incident that allowed Reagan to be elected in the first place.  Link

            It also omits parts such as the Iran-Contra affair which should be on that list.  Instead, it seems to be hand picked examples in making war against Iran.  Granted, they have some pretty fucked up laws based on religion.  But someone making an effort to get the US into *another* war?  Come on…

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            I did indeed leave off the fictional non-events, as well as skipping Iran’s numerous warlike acts against other nations which did not impinge on the United States and policy squabbles

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            And by all means, what makes them “fictional”?

            Further, with the recent Iran – Saudi flare up (which makes no sense on closer inspection) it would do well to look at Iran’s “warlike acts against other nations”.

            By limiting yourself, you are also limiting your audience in the scope of understanding how certain nations think or act.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            Knock
            Yourself
            Out
            .

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            “Rodney’s timeline of conflicts provides a limited frame for looking at things, since it only looks at the moment when everything really exploded.  My overall argument is that in order to understand the extremist regime that’s in power in Iran today, it makes sense to look back to what precipitated the events in 1979.  Selective history doesn’t do anyone any good.”

            You’re right, there are facts omitted.  Such as the October Surprise incident that allowed Reagan to be elected in the first place.  Link

            It also omits parts such as the Iran-Contra affair which should be on that list.  Instead, it seems to be hand picked examples in making war against Iran.  Granted, they have some pretty fucked up laws based on religion.  But someone making an effort to get the US into *another* war?  Come on…

      • Anonymous

        Don’cha know, history always starts with the blowback and omits the reason for the blowback.

        Poor wittle us, why do they hate us so?

        • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

          Because there’s no statute of limitations on grudges.

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          There’s a lot that you “know” that we don’t, mainly because it appears that most of what you know just ain’t so.

    • jim_m

      That’s right Chica, the oppression was horrible in Iran before the revolution:
      http://www.pagef30.com/2009/04/iran-in-1970s-before-islamic-revolution.html

      Women especially have suffered after the revolution.  Yes, Iran is not as oppressive of women as other muslim countries, but dismissing the oppression there just highlights how for many the notion of equality and equal rights is just a tool to be used to get their way and not really an ideal to be striven for. 

      Was the Shah an oppressive dictator?  Yes, especially in the last few years.  Was he worse than what they have now?  No. From an objective standard of whether the people and country are better off the answer is an emphatic no.  Carter was wrong to cut him loose the way he did.  The US and the Iranian people would have been better served by pressuring the Shah to reverse the creation of a one party state in 1975 and to allow real political opposition.  Allowing that would have likely avoided the revolution and would have opened a path for change and further reform.

      • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

        “Was the Shah an oppressive dictator?  Yes, especially in the last few
        years.  Was he worse than what they have now?  No. From an objective
        standard of whether the people and country are better off the answer is
        an emphatic no.”

        Things are definitely worse these days, but that doesn’t mean that we should get all nostalgic about the Shah.  It doesn’t mean that it would have been the right call to keep supporting some oppressive dictator.  The Shah’s regime is what led to the revolution.  Repression breeds revolution, and it can easily lead to extremism (especially when there is no real political opposition left in a country).  Iran is the poster child for that.  Things went from bad to worse, and the rule of the Shah was step one in that process.  If the US learns anything from the lessons of Iran, Egypt, and even countries like Nicaragua, hopefully we learn that placating repressive regimes only breeds problems that will erupt–eventually.

        • jim_m

          I agree that the Shah should have been “persuaded” to get rid of the one party government he created in 75 and to allow for a political outlet for reformists.  Instead he oppressed that and it resulted in the revolution. 

          We did do too much in the past of coddling dictators, which in the long term has not accrued to our benefit.

      • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

        “Was the Shah an oppressive dictator?  Yes, especially in the last few
        years.  Was he worse than what they have now?  No. From an objective
        standard of whether the people and country are better off the answer is
        an emphatic no.”

        Things are definitely worse these days, but that doesn’t mean that we should get all nostalgic about the Shah.  It doesn’t mean that it would have been the right call to keep supporting some oppressive dictator.  The Shah’s regime is what led to the revolution.  Repression breeds revolution, and it can easily lead to extremism (especially when there is no real political opposition left in a country).  Iran is the poster child for that.  Things went from bad to worse, and the rule of the Shah was step one in that process.  If the US learns anything from the lessons of Iran, Egypt, and even countries like Nicaragua, hopefully we learn that placating repressive regimes only breeds problems that will erupt–eventually.

      • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

        “The US and the Iranian people would have been better served by
        pressuring the Shah to reverse the creation of a one party state in 1975
        and to allow real political opposition.”

        By the way, jim, that’s a really good point.  It definitely would have been a lot more effective to support political freedom–and this is probably something that we should have decided to support years earlier.  That’s the whole problem in cases like this.  We often side with dictators like the Shah who completely drain their countries of wealth, and who effectively eliminate political freedom.  This ALWAYS leads to serious problems.

        • jim_m

          I think the other thing we need to recognize is the political situation of the times and how the US was desperate to have a bulwark against Soviet expansion in the region.  When Carter came to power he was not interested in blocking the Soviets (being a closet supporter of their way of life) and swiftly abandoned the Shah.

          It was short sighted to back oppressive regimes without putting pressure on them to reform.  I’m not sure that we have learned that lesson yet.

        • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

          Hindsight’s usally 20-20, isn’t it?  It’s hard to tell what Leader X will do as opposed to Leader Y, until you’ve got him in office, and even then he needs time to develop a track record.

          You pays your money, you gets your revolution, and then you cross your fingers and hope for the best.

          • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

            “Hindsight’s usally 20-20, isn’t it?  It’s hard to tell what Leader X
            will do as opposed to Leader Y, until you’ve got him in office, and even
            then he needs time to develop a track record.”

            Ya, it’s all a dicey political game.  Still, when the chips are down it makes sense–to me–to be on the side of political freedom rather than autocracy.  That might not bring immediate benefits, but might play out better in the long run.  We supported the Shah, Mubarak, and lots of others because of immediate political needs, and many of these relationships came back to haunt us later.  But yes, I realize all of this is way easier said than done.
             

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        @jim_m723:disqus

        Don’t it always seem to go
        That you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone

    • retired.military

      Chico

      Stuff a sock in it.  We would have liked to have seen Bush go into Iran much less Obama.
      Though not to occupy, just bomb its bases and nuclear sites.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

    Chico -

    We’ve been in a state of war with Iran since ’79 – but it’s been a case of “Well, what the hell could they really do to harm us?”  Proxy wars (Iraq-Iran) were the norm, and seen as better than actually going into an active war footing.  And yes – there’s a lot of history and grudges. So?

    As long as they were a regional problem – they weren’t a concern. 9/11 changed the pardigm a bit – but they still didn’t have much of a way to reach past their borders in a way that’d cause a war.  With no strategic air force or missile force, they were reduced to beating on their neighbors… or beating on whoever their IEDs supplied to various groups could be targeted against.  Their missle force has ‘improved’, but they’re much more of a threat to Europe than the US.

    And now they’re close to posession of nuclear weaponry. (That’s if they don’t have it already.) That’s a game-changer, not a ‘dog whistle’.  Sometimes the development of the big toys is enough to make a country’s leadership ‘grow the fuck up’ – look at how relations between Pakistan and India have settled down since both developed nukes, and the destruction possibilities changed from what a howitzer shell could do to a border outpost to losing a city.

    I hope like hell war can be avoided.  But it takes two to make peace, and only one to make war.  And if the idiots in Tehran decide that war’s a good idea, it’s not going to much matter  whether it’s politically correct to think about it or not, whether Holder, Obama and Clinton are talking about it or not.

    Re their status re nukes, technologically I’d say they’re about at the point we were in the mid-50′s.  They can refine uranium.  They’ve got working reactors.  The physics of critical masses are known - and a uranium gun-type bomb is much simpler to make than a plutonium implosion type. (The folks at Los Alamos were so certain that the design would work they didn’t even bother to test it before dropping the first one on Hiroshima.)

    Put one in the keel of a freighter – sail it into NY harbor.  Imagine the hilarity that would ensue.

    I’d like to think they’re sane enough to NOT do anything like that.  I’d really like to think their sense of national (and rational) self-preservation would override the religious imperatives of the leadership – but it’s not a sure bet at all.

    • Anonymous

      What’s the max yield of a gun type bomb?  30 KT?    Compared to the US arsenal, nothing.

      It would create a balance of terror in Israel because of their small size, but Israel has a survivable deterrent.   Did Israel expect that it would have the only nuclear capability in the region forever?

      The intelligence analysis has been that Iran’s not pursuing a weapons program.  I’m skeptical, because it does make sense for them to have nukes, given that they had US armies on both borders for a long time and were called part of the “Axis of Evil.”  

      As far as the “religious imperatives” go, I understand that there is a body of Shia’a clerical opinion which considers nuclear weapons haram, because they kill so indiscriminately.

      • jim_m

        What’s the max yield of a gun type bomb?  30 KT?    Compared to the US arsenal, nothing.

        Then consider yourself invited to stand at ground zero when they set one off.

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          I second the motion and call for the vote!

      • herddog505

        Oh, only 30kT.  Pfft!  Nothing to worry about at all. 

        / sarc

        Check out the damage to a couple of little-known places in Japan from weapons with about half that yield.  Then, for larks, goodle “Operation Crossroads”, especially the “Baker” test.  Now, imagine that it’s New York habor and not a lagoon in the middle of the Pacific.

        Are our strategic weapons more powerful?  Sure.  Somehow, though, I’m not especially comforted by the idea that, after they (perhaps) destroy NYC or Boston with a 30kT nuke, we’ll level Tehran with a 300kT nuke of our own.

        Commander_ChicoI understand that there is a body of Shia’a clerical opinion which considers nuclear weapons haram, because they kill so indiscriminately. [emphasis original: hd505]

        How do these clerics feel about truck bombs and suicide vests?

      • herddog505

        Oh, only 30kT.  Pfft!  Nothing to worry about at all. 

        / sarc

        Check out the damage to a couple of little-known places in Japan from weapons with about half that yield.  Then, for larks, goodle “Operation Crossroads”, especially the “Baker” test.  Now, imagine that it’s New York habor and not a lagoon in the middle of the Pacific.

        Are our strategic weapons more powerful?  Sure.  Somehow, though, I’m not especially comforted by the idea that, after they (perhaps) destroy NYC or Boston with a 30kT nuke, we’ll level Tehran with a 300kT nuke of our own.

        Commander_ChicoI understand that there is a body of Shia’a clerical opinion which considers nuclear weapons haram, because they kill so indiscriminately. [emphasis original: hd505]

        How do these clerics feel about truck bombs and suicide vests?

      • herddog505

        Oh, only 30kT.  Pfft!  Nothing to worry about at all. 

        / sarc

        Check out the damage to a couple of little-known places in Japan from weapons with about half that yield.  Then, for larks, goodle “Operation Crossroads”, especially the “Baker” test.  Now, imagine that it’s New York habor and not a lagoon in the middle of the Pacific.

        Are our strategic weapons more powerful?  Sure.  Somehow, though, I’m not especially comforted by the idea that, after they (perhaps) destroy NYC or Boston with a 30kT nuke, we’ll level Tehran with a 300kT nuke of our own.

        Commander_ChicoI understand that there is a body of Shia’a clerical opinion which considers nuclear weapons haram, because they kill so indiscriminately. [emphasis original: hd505]

        How do these clerics feel about truck bombs and suicide vests?

      • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

        “Compared to the US arsenal, nothing.”

        30KT ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.  Hiroshima was destroyed through a 17kt blast, after all.
         
        And as the real estate saying goes, it’s “Location, Location, Location”.  Sail it up the Potomac to within 5 miles of DC and touch it off, and the wreckage would be spectacular.  Get up to the yacht basin between the Pentagon and the Mall – and get them both.  Add in the fires, if the weather was right you’d end up with a firestorm. 

        You thought 9/11 was a kick in the nuts?

        Have the freighter go to the tip of Manhattan.  Set it off there.  What do you think it’d look like?

        Sail into Miami.  Or Galveston.  Take out the refinery terminals in the Gulf of Mexico – or hit the port of San Diego or LA. What would significant damage to THOSE do to the country?

        As far as what we’ve got, the nominal yeild of a standard Minuteman warhead’s about 90-100kt, and that’d be in an airburst configuration which would give more blast effect but much less fallout.  A ground level burst – that’d be dirty as hell, and you’d still end up with a lot of blast and heat, so you could (if you site it properly) end up with a city-destroying firestorm.

        A van full of ANFO took out a building in Oklahoma City.  Figure about a thousand pounds of the stuff.  Double that, multiply by a thousand to get to a kiloton.  Then by 17.

        (Of course, blast damage doesn’t quite scale up like that – but what you had within a mile radius would be gone, buildings blown down for about 3-6 miles depending on terrain, significant damage beyond that, not to mention the fires.)

        ‘Nothing’ is so… relative, isn’t it?

        • Anonymous

          Well, in the Dr. Strangelove / Herman Kahn sense, 30Kt is nothing when you’re waging nuclear combat.  You don’t do that to have your own country totally destroyed.

          Remember, we lived with Mao threatening the USA will nukes all of the time, not to mention the USSR with SSBNs and ICBMs up the ying-yang.  Iran will not be shit to the USA.

          By the way, the Oklahoma City bombing was estimated at about 10 tons TNT, (.01KT), which is about the smallest nuclear yield.
           

          • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

            Yeah, if you’re looking to cause megadeaths and nationwide destruction – 30kt’s kind of puny.  However, I guarantee the residents of NY wouldn’t think so, if set off in the harbor.

            Re der Wiki Re OK City…  

            “The effects of the blast were equivalent to over 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) of TNT,[57][68] and could be heard and felt up to 55 miles (89 km) away.”

            On April 17–18, 1995, McVeigh and Nichols removed their supplies from their storage unit in Herington, Kansas, where Nichols lived. They loaded 108 bags of high-grade ammonium nitrate fertilizer weighing 50 pounds (23 kg) each, three 55-U.S.-gallon (46 imp gal; 210 l) drums of liquidnitromethane, several crates of explosive Tovex, seventeen bags of ANFO, and spools of shock tube and cannon fuse into a Ryder rental truck.[53] The two then drove to Geary County State Lake, where they nailed boards onto the floor of the truck to hold the thirteen barrels in place and mixed the chemicals using plastic buckets and a bathroom scale.[54] Each filled barrel weighed nearly 500 pounds (230 kg).[55] McVeigh added more explosives to the driver’s side of the cargo bay, which he could ignite (killing himself in the process) at close range with his Glock 21 pistol in case the primary fuses failed.[56] During McVeigh’s trial, Lori Fortier (the wife of Michael Fortier) stated that McVeigh claimed to have arranged the barrels in order to form a shaped charge.[43] This was achieved by tamping the aluminum side panel of the truck with bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to direct the blast laterally towards the building.[57] Specifically, McVeigh arranged the barrels in the shape of a backwards J; he later said that for pure destructive power, he would have put the barrels on the side of the cargo bay closest to the Murrah Building; however, such an unevenly distributed 7,000-pound (3,200 kg) load might have broken an axle, flipped the truck over, or at least caused it to lean to one side, which could have drawn attention.[55]

            So – 5000 lb TNT equivalent yield, from 7000 lbs of ANFO based happiness.

            Yow.

            I don’t care HOW puny a nuke is – I don’t want to be in the vicinity if one’s set off.

          • retired.military

            Chico

            The thing is if a 30kt nuke went off it is extremely doubtful that the govt would respond in kind.  Can you imagine the press hollering about the innocent people who would die if we did (never mind the thousands of US citizens would would die in the attack on us.).  Look at 911 and see how the response was 6 months after the attacks on the trade center. Much less talking about using a nuke in the middle east.  As I said.  with Obama he would not use a nuclear response to a 30kt attack no matter it was. 
            martial law – yes
            confiscate weapons – he would try really really really hard
            suspend elections – I wouldnt put it past him to try.

            Respond with nuclear weapons – not a chance.

          • Anonymous

            “Remember, we lived with Mao threatening the USA will nukes all of the time, not to mention the USSR with SSBNs and ICBMs up the ying-yang.  Iran will not be shit to the USA.”
            I beg to differ.  The Chinese and Russians wanted to LIVE.  The Iranians believe that dying for the cause is the highest honor.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

            Some do, at any rate.  I think a lot of their population wouldn’t subscribe to the “If we die because our Leaders kicked the Great Satan in the yarbles it’s all good!” theory.  But then – they don’t matter.

      • retired.military

        “30 KT? Compared to the US arsenal, nothing”

        Well since I live outside what could be considered a priority one target I dont like the idea of 1KT much less 30.    As to the US arsenal do you think Obama would actually use even a small nuke in the area?  Extremely doubtful.  He would most likely apologize to Iran for them having to use it to get our attention to their demands.

    • jim_m

      I’d like to think they’re sane enough to NOT do anything like that.

      I think it more likely that they would supply some third party terrorist org with the bomb and let them take the blame/credit.  Even more likely is for them to use it on Israel.

      • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

        Probably right on that…  And Israel, if kicked, will not be gentle…

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          @JLawson:disqus wins the Understatement of the Week Prize for:

          Israel, if kicked, will not be gentle…

          • retired.military

            which is why they will go for the US and bemoan the environmental damage till the cows come home.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            I do believe the vast majority of the population would have blood in their eye at that point and little tolerance for politicians attempting to mute their fury.

          • retired.military

            Rodney,.  True but remember the clowns are currently in charge of the circus.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            I am painfully reminded that the clowns are running the circus every time the SCoaMF (or his minions) opens his mouth.

          • retired.military

            Rodney,.  True but remember the clowns are currently in charge of the circus.

      • retired.military

        “I’d like to think they’re sane enough to NOT do anything like that. ”

        Yeah umm.  If they had say a medical condition and thought they were going to see Allah soon then dont count on it.

    • jim_m

      I’d like to think they’re sane enough to NOT do anything like that.

      I think it more likely that they would supply some third party terrorist org with the bomb and let them take the blame/credit.  Even more likely is for them to use it on Israel.

    • jim_m

      I’d like to think they’re sane enough to NOT do anything like that.

      I think it more likely that they would supply some third party terrorist org with the bomb and let them take the blame/credit.  Even more likely is for them to use it on Israel.

  • herddog505

    As is often the case, any action against the ayatollahs will hurt common Iranians, who are also their victims and with whom I don’t think we have a particular quarrel.

    Too bad Barry missed – ignored – the opportunity to destabilize and perhaps topple the ayatollahs a couple of years ago when Iranians were marching against their regime.  But he was too busy promising “negotiations without preconditions” and f*cking with the friendly governments of Honduras and Egypt.

    • Anonymous

      The real opportunity was lost after the toppling of the Taliban in 2002 and of Saddam in 2003. 

      Ambassdor James Dobbins has written about how helpful the Iranians were in Afghanistan in 2002 and for awhile thereafter, when he was Special Envoy to Afghanistan.

      The Iranians, then led by the now-”Green” reformist president Khatami, reached out and offered negotiations “to resolve all differences” through the Swiss after the invasion of Iraq, according to Flint Leverett, who was on the NSC staff at the time.  They may have been motivated by fear, true, but they were motivated to make peace.

      The Bushies, full of hubris and arrogance, gave Khatami the finger.  Khatami, having achieved no abatement of the “Axis of Evil” rhetoric or sanctions from the USA, lost his bid for re-election to Ahmedinejad.  After that, the Iranians decided to do what they could on the margins to degrade American efforts in Iraq and literally bleed Americans.

      • jim_m

        It wasn’t the Bush admin’s failure to support Khatami, it was the ultra conservative Guardian Council that banned most of the reformist parties from the election that doomed Khatami. Khatami lost because the religious nut jobs wanted it that way and they rigged the election to put Ahmadinejad in power.  Many of the reformist parties boycotted the election because they felt the rigging was unfair and that only magnified the government’s veering toward radical islam.

        You speak about Iranian politics as though it were driven purely by public opinion when it is controlled very tightly by a bunch of islamic religious lunatics.  It was the religious Guardian Council that didn’t like the reforms that Khatami was enacting and moved to get rid of him and to stifle his movement.  The US had nothing to do with that.

        Khatami’s removal from power probably had more to do with the fact that he was from a Jewish family and shook hands with the President of Israel.

        • Anonymous

          Well, it’s indisputible that the USA isolated and weakened Khatami’s hand.  If the USA had taken that offer to negotiate, who knows where Khatami would have been relative to the hard-liners.  Remember that even members of the Council of Guardians supported the Greens a couple of years ago.  If you had ended your country’s isolation and produced a state of peace with the powerful USA, you would have enhanced your political power.  But Bush gave Khatami the back of his hand, so we’ll never know.

          • jim_m

            I disagree.  I think that the opposition was not that his reforms failed but that his reforms were succeeding.  The idea that he would shake hands with the President of Israel was political suicide. The lunatics in the Guardian Council don’t want relations with Israel and like any oppressive government require an external enemy to demonize to keep the public focused elsewhere so they don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how crappy and repressive their own government is.

        • herddog505

          jim_mIt wasn’t the Bush admin’s failure to support Khatami, it was the ultra conservative Guardian Council that banned most of the reformist parties from the election that doomed Khatami. Khatami lost because the religious nut jobs wanted it that way and they rigged the election to put Ahmadinejad in power. 

          Yep.  Wiki has this:

          In February 2004 Parliament elections, the Guardian Council banned thousands of candidates, including most of the reformist members of the parliament and all the candidates of the Islamic Iran Participation Front party from running. This led to a win by the conservatives of at least 70% of the seats. Approximately 60% of the eligible voting population participated in the elections.*

          MIGHT relations between the US and Iran have improved had the US rushed to embrace proposals for a confidential dialogue with a country that had spent the previous twenty-odd years describing us as “the Great Satan”, holding our people hostage, sponsoring terrorists who murdered scores (if not hundreds) of Americans, and threatening the extinction of a close ally in the region?  Maybe.  I am reminded of the minor thaw in US / Soviet relations at the end of the Eisenhower presidency: PERHAPS if the U-2 incident had not occured, PERHAPS if the Paris summit had occured, then PERHAPS the history of the ’60s would have unfolded a bit differently.  Who knows?  O’ course, it would have been helpful had the Soviets NOT invaded Hungary in ’56, had they NOT made a show of their efforts at nuclear armament, had they NOT sponsored Castro, etc.

          What we DO know is that Iran wasn’t exactly persistent: within a year or two after their overtures to Washington fell flat, they were supplying IEDs to terrorists in Iraq that killed our men.  Not exactly the sort of people that can be trusted to negotiate in good faith, are they?

          Personally, I’m not a big fan of “peaceful coexistence”: the bad guys love to yap about talks and summits and dialogue (Munich, anyone?), but only as a dodge while they are getting their armies ready.

          (*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khatami#cite_note-25

          • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

            “Personally, I’m not a big fan of “peaceful coexistence”: the bad guys love to yap about talks and summits and dialogue (Munich, anyone?), but only as a dodge while they are getting their armies ready.”

            Yeah, usually the longer the diplomatic manuvering, the higher the body count…

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            @JLawson:disqus discovers one of the oft overlooked lessons of history:

            … the longer the diplomatic manuvering, the higher the body count…

          • retired.military

            “Personally, I’m not a big fan of “peaceful coexistence”:

            Actually I am .  We live peacefully while they coexist the graveyard.  The meek shall inherit the earth,  after the strong have conquered it.

            The US needs to take the stand of dont bark with the big dogs if you are going to pee with the puppies. Dont poke a stick at the big dog or you will get bit.

      • retired.military

        Come on Chico.  Bush had enough trouble getting folks to say yes to go into Iraq much less Iran.  The libs would have howled at even the mere suggestion.

    • retired.military

      “- the opportunity to destabilize and perhaps topple the ayatollahs a couple of years ago when Iranians were marching against their regime”

      He was too busy bowing to them and apologizing..

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