I wrote on Israel Outlook just a few minutes ago, that I believed that Israel cannot sit and do nothing about Iran. Doing nothing has never been an option for Israelis when survival was at stake, and doing nothing just cannot be an option now.
But, when Israel attacks Iran, what happens next?
Well, Iran will begin raining missiles down on Israel and try to kill as many Israelis as possible. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza will do the same. Terrorist groups will also attack every Jewish and Israeli target that they can reach.
However, it won’t end there. And, this is where my analogy to World War I comes in.
The next thing that Iran will do is close the Strait of Hormuz, and the US will respond by attempting to reopen it.
The US will fail – at least over the first couple of weeks, at least.
The problem is that the US can only succeed in keeping the Strait of Hormuz open by setting up a 100 mile exclusion zone around the waterway, and bomb anything that looks military inside that zone. That will work for a little while. But, Iranians aren’t stupid. They know what the US is capable of, and they know what the US needs to do. They know that there is a limit to what the US can accomplish in mountainous terrain. And let’s not forget suicide bombers.
The cost to the US will be enormous, and the cost to the world will be enormous. The US will spend billions of dollars to take out rusty pickup trucks and suicide speedboats. Oil prices will shoot through the roof, and a fragile global financial system will collapse – if the conflict goes long enough.
Iran knows this, and knows that she doesn’t need to sink every tanker that transits the Strait of Hormuz – sinking one tanker in twenty would be enough. And, it could do this for a very, very long time. And, it is perfectly happy to do so.
But wait, I haven’t gotten to my WWI analogy.
So, why do I think that this ‘smells like World War I’?
Well, World War I sounds (or smells) a bit like the situation that we have today. We have world and regional powers eyeing one another and ready to pull the trigger at the first sign of aggression. We have communications back and forth that may (or may not) be misinterpreted. We have an enemy (Iran) that may turn out to be impossible to dislodge without some really incredible bit of new technology. We also have revolutionary movements with money behind them, ready to take advantage of any and every opportunity. We also have insanely dangerous optimism on the part of the US and Iran over who will win this war, and how long it will take. We also have little nations with big allies – ‘big allies’ that could find themselves dragged into something that they didn’t want.
But, let’s not stop there. Just for fun, let’s add a desperately fragile financial system, reeling from years of global recession.
Does anyone think that this is NOT a recipe for disaster?
Here’s the article that touched off my thoughts on this.
By Warda Al-Jawahiry, Sun Feb 12, 2012, Reuters
(Reuters) – Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the U.S. Navy can prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region said on Sunday.
Iran has made a series of threats in recent weeks to disrupt shipping in the Gulf or strike U.S. forces in retaliation if its oil trade is shut down by sanctions, or if its disputed nuclear program comes under attack.
“They have increased the number of submarines … they increased the number of fast attack craft,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. “Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory.”
“We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course … the development of their nuclear program,” Fox, who heads the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet’s base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.
Military experts say the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf – which always has at least one giant supercarrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers – is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran’s navy.
But ever since al Qaeda suicide bombers in a small boat killed 17 sailors on board the destroyer U.S.S. Cole in a port in Yemen in 1996, Washington has been wary of the vulnerability of its huge battleships to bomb attacks by small enemy craft.