03 April 2007

Iran, Hooah, Good God Y'all, What is it good for?

Absolutely nothin' . . .

Iran is out of their ever-lovin' tiny rabid minds.

I'mafrootloop, the all-around wuuuunderful guy who runs that ramshackle little country is in what we Astute Observers of international affairs like to call "One hell of a pickle."

The UN dropped a new Sanctions resolution on them.

This doesn't mean much in and of itself, but what I find interesting are the comments from the Russian ambassador afterwards.

VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said he had voted in favour of the resolution, which had been the result of protracted negotiation and complicated tradeoffs. He was happy to note that the resolution was more balanced and coherent than the initial text. The constraints introduced by the resolution were aimed at eliminating IAEA’s concerns, and were in no way aimed at punishing Iran. The context of resolution 1747 was unambiguous, in that it left open the door to negotiation. Of key significance was the provision that, if Iran suspended all of its enrichment activities, the resolution’s measures would also be suspended.

The resolution’s measures were also imposed in accordance with Article 41 of the United Nations Charter and precluded the possibility of the use of force, he said. Any further steps would also be exclusively peaceful ones. A solution could only be achieved through diplomatic efforts. Also, the resolution did not alter the provisions of paragraph 15 of resolution 1737. In other words, the activity authorized by the Council in the area of trade could continue.

Noting that he fully supported the statement by the ministers of the group of six, he said it was clear that much would depend on Iran’s actions. He hoped the Government would take into account the Council’s unanimous adoption of the resolution, analyse the positive content of the group’s statement and chose to cooperate with IAEA on the basis of dialogue and mutual respect on any other outstanding issues. Such an approach would make it possible for the Council to put unresolved problems behind it, and create a situation in which Iran, as it developed a peaceful nuclear programme, would be viewed as any other party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Now, you or I would view that as a pretty bland statement. But you must remember that we are talking the language of diplomats, and that the Russian Ambassador had just voted against his nation's erstwhile. . . 'ally' implies mutual cooperation and I think that's a bit much. But the relations between Iran and Russia had been extremely friendly for a while now. That's the next best thing to a public insult that would be offered in the halls of the UN.

What I read is, "Thanks for paying cash for the reactor parts, but if you don't stop picking a fight with the Americans and the IAEA, we aren't going to stick our necks out to protect you."

Meanwhile, the drama with the British sailors enters another week, and I still don't know what crack I'manutjob was smoking to let things get this far. At least they have decided not to hold show trials. One theory is that the Iranians think they could be swapped for the Irbil Five.

Personally, I'm not sure of that theory. The Iranians have been losing ground in Iran since al-Sadr decided to flee Iraq and the Mahdi Militia has been largely suppressed. While it still exists, it no longer controls territory and neighborhoods. The so-called 'Irbil Five' are merely the best known Iranian agents who have been killed or captured--and good luck actually tracking those numbers down. Conducting a high-risk operation in order to secure the release of those five sounds stupid on the face of it. And make no mistake, this was a stupidly high-risk operation. If Tony Blair had found his Inner Winston Churchill (or Margret Thatcher) Iran could have found itself staring down the spectre of combined US/UK retaliation raids trashing the IRGC naval assets such as happened during the 1980s (linked to in previous posting on this topic). That's something to keep in mind--this was extremely dangerous to the Iranian government, which already has a lot of irons in the fire. Iran is fighting a proxy war in Lebanon, another in Iraq, there are a number of US carriers parked within striking distance of their southern coast, and the Iranian military cannot effectively prevent naval or air attacks on their homeland. There's even a rumor that the Israelis are killing Iranian nuclear scientists.

Using British sailors for a hostage swap hasn't even been suggested by the Iranian government yet. Personally, I feel that avenue should be pursued by the British government from a different angle--to wit, that the British government should scoop up a dozen or so Iranians (diplomats or whatever), accuse them of spying for the Iranian government, and offer to trade them for the sailors. But then again, I'm an asshole.

Mario Loyola is convinced that the United States is preparing for air strikes against Iran over the whole nuclear program thing. He thinks the mullahs grabbed the sailors to protect against this contingency, which they see coming as a direct result of their effective repudiation of the NPT. I personally am unconvinced of this theory. For one thing, the Iranians can't be that stupid. It just doesn't make sense, and I am not sure that the mullahs actually want to provoke a war which would endanger their rule of Iran.

They thrive on crisis, which allows them to effectively silence domestic dissent. A war like the one with Iran, with lots of heroic martyrs to eulogize and and no real danger that the Iraqi military would ever do anything to push through the trench lines and end the war was fine with them.

But a war with America? A war where we would be dropping bombs on ministry buildings in Tehran? That didn't work out so well for Milosevic, not because the bombing destroyed his government, but because his people were sick of being bombed and being international pariahs.

That is one reason why the United States Navy has not had any sailors kidnapped by the Iranian government. Another is that the United States Navy still has an ethos of 'roaring in and sinking everything in sight' which the Royal Navy does not.

Tigerhawk gives some interesting speculations on the seizure. With him, I can agree that the stated issue, that of British sailors in alleged Iranian water, is obviously a smokescreen. I tend to agree that in as much as it does make any sense, then the seizure was quite possibly an attempt to derail any chance of compromise in the near term and possibly longer. The IRGC is not, do remember, a military organization. It is fundamentally a paramilitary force of religious fanatics and terrorists who don't really understand how a real military operates. It is, to me, telling that the IRGC naval corps, not the Iranian Navy, was engaging in this adventurism. They think like terrorists and thugs, and act accordingly. It probably didn't occur to the IRGC folks who authorized the operation what sort of hell the USN/USAF/RN/RAF could drop on their heads because they operate with a terrorist's fixed belief in the restraint of his enemy. Terrorists believe their enemies will use restraint, or they could not operate. We do, thanks to a legacy of basic fundamental decency, operate with restraint. Whether we should do so is not a topic for this essay.

But whether I'mapottedplant was in on the planning stages or not, the Iranian government has run with the ball the IRGC has handed them. Not sure what their objectives are at this point. I'm also a bit unsure as to what we really ought to do about it at this moment as well. What I'd be amused to see would be an op to go get those guys back, with some cooperation between Delta and SAS. I'd also like to see the SAS take the (public) lead on this. It would do the relationship between the US and UK some good for some Limeys to take the lead on shooting bad guys and taking their own guys home. It also wouldn't hurt the British position in the world for them to demonstrate that even if they are a has-been power, you don't kidnap their sailors.


Anonymous Sgt. Eric Jensen said...


I came across your blog today while looking for posts about al-Sadr with Google Blog Search. Your latest post about Iran caught my eye.

I am with CENTCOM Public Affairs on a blogging team. We search through the blogsphere to find bloggers to establish relationships and share information about the CENTCOM area of responsibility with. One way we do this is by offering our CENTCOM Newsletter in a .pdf format every week. The newsletter contains stories about the humanitarian, reconstruction and security efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. Sometimes these stories don't get picked up by the mass media. Would you care to recevie our newsletter?

I also encourage you to take a look at our Web site at www.centcom.mil. The site has many features from audio and video clips to our new weekly CENTCOM news podcast. All the information is free to use on your blog if you would like to post anything. Thanks for your time.


Sgt. Eric Jensen
CENTCOM Public Affairs
Electronic Media Engagement Team

5:45 PM  
Anonymous auxdarastrix said...

I fear that our current Congress and their fellow travelers have done too much to embolden Iran.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Bryan Wicks said...

I can't help but agree with the sentiment of this post. :)

I also think that Iran's sole oil refinery should be among the first targets of opportunity should the Iranians elect to keep the Brits in detention for more than a month.

It may not be directly our fight, but the Brits are our allies, and we should support them anyway we can.

6:04 AM  

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