13 April 2006
Thoughts on Iran
If ever there was a country that you did not want to attack it's Iran. Just look at the figures - the land area alone is over 1.5 million kilometres. The population is about 68 million with a median age of 25. Over a quarter of them are under 14. Put another way, Iran is three times the size of Iraq in terms of both land area and population. The Iranians not only have the manpower to defend their country, but that median age means that they have plenty of young men who would be only to willing to march off to the sound of the guns. Young men are like that - hand shandyists for war excepted - and in spite of fantasies to the contrary, there is little evidence to suggest that they will not rally to their country's call as the men of my grandfathers' generation did in the Europe of 1914.
To make matters even worse for the Americans, Iran has not been worn down by over a decade of sanctions and her population are well-fed. To make matters even worse for the invaders, Iraq has demonstrated the way forward and all the Iranians have to do is copy that example. The regular army stands as well as any Third World force should be expected to stand. That is to say they will probably fold after a month or so. Then the Iranians will switch to guerrillas war, using the weapons that have no doubt already been hidden away. After that it is really just a matter of letting former junior officers and senior NCOs from the old army have their way. The Third World may be lousy at regular warfare, but it tends to be rather good at the guerrilla kind. To make matter even sweeter, Iran is just as urbanised as Iraq, so the Americans will be fighting in the vast concrete canyons that make up the Iranian cities. This war would be Iraq write large and very bloody.
The Iranians, not being stupid, would probably sign some deal with the Iraqis and the two wars could merge into one. At the same time they could encourage Hezbollah in Lebanon to make life as unpleasant as possible for the Israelis. As a final kicker, they could block the narrow Straights of Hormuz which is how most of the Middle-East's oil gets out.
So why are the Americans now claiming that Iran could make a nuclear bomb in 16 days when all reasoned analysis puts them over a decade away? Inventing pretexts for a war that America could lose and lose badly makes no sense at all. The only possible motive that even begins to make sense - and that only in the dark, twisted corridors of the neocon mind - is that the political numbers in the USA could ensure that Bush ends up a lame-duck after November's mid-term elections. It's a gamble in other words that the American voters can be scared into supporting yet another war, and a further gamble that it can be won within the just over two years that this fool still has in office. Either that, or it's a gamble that his successor will not have the courage to call it a day and will be forced to keep on fighting.