Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Iran's Options

There are three possible routes Iran can take in a possible confrontation with the US. As things stand today, anti-aircraft defense is not one of them - American and Israeli aircraft would be too much for the very rudimentary (relatively speaking) surface-to-air technology that Iran possesses.

The first option would be to attack American military bases in bordering and close by countries (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia). The strategic benefit of such a campaign would be unclear, and it would give the US an excuse and a chance to gather a stronger coalition against Iran by perhaps including one or two European and/or Arab countries (presently, the only country in the world prepared to aid the US in a military strike against Iran is Israel).

The second option for Iran would be to increase funding and support for insurgents in Iraq. This would have the strategic benefit of ensuring a sphere of influence for Iran, costing American lives and money, making political reconciliation harder within Iraq, and would afford the Iranians plausible deniability (plausible deniability, for those that do not know, means exactly what it sounds like: the ability to plausibly deny something that you are responsible for. If I have a 5 year-old brother, but break a vase myself, I have plausible deniability when my mother comes home. The Americans should be well aware of what the phrase means - after all, it was plausible deniability that pushed the U.S. to use the ISI in the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s instead of the CIA directly, allowing them to legally wipe their fingerprints clear off the murder weapon). Increasing support for insurgents in Iraq is also a relatively inexpensive option. Its only drawback, from an Iranian point of view, is that its repercussions are only regional. Attacking American military bases in the Middle East won't actually hurt the U.S. in any significant way.

The third option for Iran is to simply take its oil off the market for a few weeks, maybe months. Such a move would push oil prices above $90 a barrel, maybe even above $100 a barrel. The strategic benefits of such a move are obvious. Also obvious is the fact that Russia wouldn't really mind such a move, seeing as how it is one of the biggest oil exporters in the world, and so Iran would have the acquiescence, if not the outright support, of a major power. An embargo could cause significant damage to the global economy and especially to major oil importers like the U.S. and China. The only thing Iranian leadership might have to think about is oil exporting American allies, like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, temporarily making up the shortfall and thus rendering ineffective Iran's move.


Anonymous said...

u don't know what the fuck u r talking about.

Keep reading Ishtiaq Ahmed stories of Inspector Jamshed

Ahsan said...

congratulations, anonymous 439! you are the proud winner of this year's "most retarded and useless thing said on rs.5" award. your t-shirt is on its way!

Asad said...

shit! i really wanted that t-shirt!

Moss J said...

I think your 3 options are wrong on one point. Very wrong.

I dont think at all Iran will do option one, which is premptively attack American military bases in there region. That would be too bold and ambitious a move. I probably have not taken the politics courses you have but I am sure no Middle Eastern country has ever taken such direct action against America interests.
Maybe they might just ask rebel militia to attack these outpots but i doubt it. These bases themselves are very well fortified and not like a bunch of tents. I think u seriously underestimate the defensive capability of even the most isolated American base. Im sure the Irani are well aware and wouldnt do that.

Your other 2 options make much more sense.

Ahsan said...

moss j: i never said anything about preemptive attacks. i said attacking american military bases is an option if the US declares war on iran or bombs it. i think both you and i agree its not a particularly viable or useful option, but it is an option nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

option two is obvious and is occurring as we speak... in terms of direct action in the past, iran-backed hezbollah carried out the largest ever single attack on us forces when they killed 250-odd in the famous beirut truck bombing.

although these attacks may seem insignificant, deaths of americans in any numbers really matter because it is hard for their society to digest (as opposed to muslim societies where death isnt really a big hoohaa)

like i mentioned before, american bases with the most soldiers in that arena are in iraq, afghanistan and kuwait - these would all be attacked by iran because they have no ability to strike back and have little political leverage (as long as iran concentrated only on american bases - there would be no real adverse side effects)