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Occupation of Iran

  1. Jan 24, 2006 #1
    People keep saying that Iran is not Iraq, and this is technically true in that one name ends in an 'n', whereas the other name ends in a 'q'. But militarily, Iran without nukes and a means to deliver them is a paper tiger. True, they aren't as battered as the Iraqis were before OIF--but they haven't suffered 40 days and 40 nights of bombing either--yet. If the Iranians are so powerful, why couldn't their army do in 8 years to the Iraqians that the Americans did in 3 days during the Gulf War. Also, note that the vast majority of the Iran-Iraq war took place on Iranian soil--not to mention they were reduced to using human wave attacks by children.

    An interesting article that wargamed the Iran problem actually proposed a plan similar to the one I proposed where we skip the occupation. The plan was rejected by the other participants not for forgoing the occupation, but because they thought the attack plan wasn't thought through. In particular, they noted the plan didn't take into account possible counterattacks by Iranian forces. The "general" in the simulation, however, failed to point out that once the battle started, Iranian forces would be incapable of significant mobility because of the constant threat from the air. The plan did estimate that Tehran would be surrounded within two weeks, which I can believe since the trip to Tehran is shorter than the trip to Baghdad was.

    As you can see from this CIA map there is a fairly broad river valley that leads from Khordestan province through Zanjan and then Qazin provinces straight through to Tehran, with no big population centers in between. So the advance would be less hard logistically at least compared to the advance on Baghdad.

    On Sunday, Senator McCain said that a war with Iran is preferable to a nuclear Iran. He's got my vote. And given that merely bombing is a short term solution at best, the only thing to discuss at this point is whether we help clean up the mess with an occupation or not. The best case scenario on the hit-and-run model would be that democratic elements and the NCRI take over, sign a treaty with us, and the regular Iranian army takes over security after the Revolutionary Guards are disarmed. The worst case, scenario is, of course, that the country descends into anarchy and a Taliban-like regime takes over, and we're back in there 10 years down the road doing it all over again.

    So, what about the occupation option? People typically assume that just because Iran is geographically larger and more populous than Iran, occupying Iran would be proportionately more difficult than the occupation in Iraq. However, this is not necessarily the case. In a recent must-read article "The Case For Invading Iran" Thomas Holsinger argued that an occupation of Iran would probably take less time than the occupation of Iraq:

    I would add that the oft-repeated point that the Iranian mullahs enjoy broad popular support is overstated. Arguably, the election was stolen. Many Iranian parliment members were banned from running for office and the election was boycotted by a large part of the electorate. Nepotism also runs rampant in the current administration, which is bound to exacerbate resentments. And estimates that the insurgents will field 100,000 to 1,000,000 men doesn't seem likely. For one thing, who is going to supply them? In Iraq, insurgents get supplies from both Syria and Iran. But once Iran is taken over, there are no friendly nations neighboring Iran, except maybe Turkmenistan, that would be a major source of supplies and funding for an Iranian insurgency. In addition, most Iranian military personnel will be content to go home as soon as they have a chance. Recent research on differences between motivational factors affecting American and Iraqi soldiers revealed stark differences. American soldiers are motivated to protect each other and are also motivated by the ideology of liberation and freedom. Iraqi troops, in constrast, reported poor social cohesion within their military units, and that they were motivated primarily by coercion, especially the fear that they would be shot if they attempted to desert. Given that the Iranian army consists mainly of young, poorly trained, unwilling conscripts, there is little reason to suppose that they will be more motivated to resist the Americans than their Iraqi counterparts were.

    Bottom line: Holsinger has changed my mind. We must invade Iran, and we must be prepared to stay the course for as long as it takes to restore a true democracy to Iran that is not a threat to world peace.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2006 #2
    Looks like President Bush agrees with Senator McCain that a nuclear Iran is "intolerable". Read more here.
  4. Jan 24, 2006 #3
    A democracy is not a silver bullet to every possible problem. In fact, a democracy may be more troublesome than a dictatorship. You can't simply waltz into a country, change its entire political system, and walk out thinking you've done God a service. If the U.S. invades Iran, it will be the beginning of its downfall.
  5. Jan 24, 2006 #4


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    The substance of all your posts so far is "occupying Iran is (or should be) a viable option."

    The Pres. said as much and everyone knows that this is an Executive option that the Administration has carefully avoided taking off the table.

    Its realism may be debated, but I personally think that it is a little more likely than the U.S. starting a scorched-earth war in the Middle East. However, the administration will have to weigh costs vs. benefits and then "sell" it to the public; and it will be a much tougher sell than Iraq.
  6. Jan 24, 2006 #5
    Exactly. The problem is most people overestimate the risk of war and underestimate the risk of a nuclear Iran. I respectfully disagree, however, that the President has a responsibility to "sell" the military option to the public. It's his job to make these kinds of difficult decisions for us. That's why we elected him.
  7. Jan 24, 2006 #6
    I would say just the opposite: if the U.S.A. shirks its leadership responsibilities especially regarding nuclear proliferation amongst rogue nations, that will be the beginning of the end.
  8. Jan 24, 2006 #7
    History will be the judge of that.

    "Lisa, we elect offcials so we don't have to think!" -- Homer Simpson
  9. Jan 24, 2006 #8


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    How much easier and how much less time - not just to complete the invasion, but for the occupation until things stabilize? Would this be after our troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan or concurrently?

    Compare the manpower of the US military today to the manpower it had at the time of the first Gulf War. We've been reaping the peace dividend by reducing military strength since the end of the cold war 15 years ago. The US can't occupy three countries simultaneously.

    Traditionally, the Reserves and National Guard step in to fill short term gaps in manning due to special circumstances. Neither were really prepared at the start of the Iraq invasion to fulfill what's become a nearly three year commitment with no end yet in sight. Troops, both active duty and Guard & Reserves, are already serving multiple tours in Iraq with less than a year break between tours. The Iraq invasion has already caused some long term problems for the Guard & Reserve (plus reduced their capability to respond to local disasters, such as Katrina).

    To concurrently occupy Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan today, you're basically suggesting that troops permanently be stationed in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan with no break for however long it takes. I think that will stretch way beyond the limits of what a volunteer military will be willing to endure. I guess you could implement "stop loss" to prevent anyone in the military from getting out, as has been implemented in the past. But, in the past, "stop loss" has been a very short term measure. Implementing "stop loss" for several years sets a precedent that would devastate recruiting for years to come.

    You're betting more than Iran being easy to occupy. You're betting that there will be no threats to US interests anywhere in the world not only while we're occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, but for at least a decade afterward as the military tries to rebuild its credibility in the promises it made to the people who volunteered to join.
  10. Jan 24, 2006 #9


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    Hogwash !
    This is the most childish argument I've read on this matter. Both Iran's and Iraq's military capabilities have changed vastly since the 70's and 80's.

    Much of what I'd say in response, I've said about a year back. (post #26)

  11. Jan 24, 2006 #10


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    It is a political reality because the body count is a reality. And he has to convince the military, who are currently challenged to find new recruits. (I am putting aside the argument that probably one-half of the voting public thinks he was not elected fairly. But arguments do add up.)
  12. Jan 24, 2006 #11
    Am i right in thinking that Israel has nuclear weapons? If so do you think it would be better for the US and possibly the UK to go to war with Iran or for Israel and Iran to go to war?
  13. Jan 24, 2006 #12


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    Is there a reason why new threads continue to be created on the same topic of Iran? As for a draft, if Warren isn't already in the military, may he be the first to go to the front line.

    Please, let’s stop with the fear mongering and talk about the deficit, debt held by China, U.S. dependency on foreign oil, etc. Stop ignoring these very real and urgent issues. At least address the criteria for non-proliferation and why Iran is any more of a threat than N. Korea, Pakistan, etc. The discussion is worthless otherwise.

    If you want to blog, I believe there is an appropriate section for that. This section is not for repeatedly showcasing your own narrow views.
  14. Jan 24, 2006 #13


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    That really is a key dealbreaker issue for the time being - we simply cannot have a significant number of troops in 3 places at once. Now, by the end of this year, our troop levels in Iraq may fall significantly, but even if they fall by 90%, our military will really need a year to catch its breath before we even consider going into Iran.

    That is, unless Iran does something really stupid, a la Iraq, 1990. In that case, it would be important enough to divert troops and we'd get more international assistance than we did for the current Iraq war.

    Iran probably knows we are stretched thin and is just flexing it's muscles. The schoolyard bully analogy really is apt - eventually, the teacher will be back and Iran will have to go see the principal. But while the teacher's back is turned, Iran will act (but not actually be) tough.

    Anyway, due to Iran's religous fanaticism, I don't think an occupation would be any easier than in Iraq, so if Iran does become a problem, the solution would be bombings, only - ie, Yugoslavia. Prior to Yugoslavia, the prevaling notion was air power alone couln't accomplish much. That notion was wrong.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2006
  15. Jan 24, 2006 #14


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    Israel is a stable democracy, with a powerful conventional military. There is no reason to think Israel would be first to use nukes. If Israel really felt threatened, they'd send airstrikes.
  16. Jan 24, 2006 #15


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    New news...?
    Unless I missed it, no one has mentioned a draft. The draft is not something that is/will be seriously considered unless there is a major threat to the US's existence. The only reason it is ever brought up is as a democratic PR ploy.
    Are you talking about the issue of nuclear proliferation in general? You don't think nuclear proliferation is a significant foreign policy issue?
    I don't think bringing up some issues constitutes ignoring others.
    Pakistan already has the bomb and is a US ally. N. Korea and Iran are relatively similar proliferation problems, but as always, each has its unique issues. The new news on Iran is why Iran is on the front-burner at the moment - N. Korea hasn't done much lately to change their status. Also, Iran's geopolitical/economic position makes it much more significant of an issue than N. Korea.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2006
  17. Jan 24, 2006 #16
    Are you serious?

    I wouldnt call a state where they have rocket propelled missiles launched at them from there neighbor as a stable situation.

    A place where they have to bull dozer over homes to remove illegal settlements, and shoot reporters for helping children in demilitarized zones.

    A place where the neighbors dont recognize your state..

    Stable I think not, powerful yes
  18. Jan 24, 2006 #17


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    Being stable and living in an unstable environment are two different things. Israel is a stable country in that you can expect them to react in a relatively rational manner (relatively, because they do live in an unstable enough environment that it's hard to determine the 'best' action, let alone predict what action Israel will take - but it's easy to know their overall goals).

    Stable is a relative term, anyway. The Soviet Union was more stable than Russia's current government. If you understood what shaped the Soviet psyche (it's history, WWII, it's rise to power post WWII) you could depend on the Soviet Union acting in accordance with that psyche and almost predict their future actions. Russia experiences enough internal stress that they are very hard to predict - they're as likely to react to something strictly internal as they are to external events.

    In the same vein, I think it would be an exaggeration to say Iran has an unstable government. Their government may be repressive to opposing points of view, but it's not hard to figure out what's important to them. There's also no serious threat of their government being overthrown or swept out of power through elections. The only way you could consider them irrational is if you consider pursuit of nuclear technology and/or weapons irrational in itself. Their timing certainly isn't irrational since they picked a tough time for the US to do anything about it. (Of course, stable and safe are two different things as well - Iran may be stable, but Iran with nuclear weapons is somewhat dangerous).
  19. Jan 24, 2006 #18
    We do not have the man power to do it this decade. Also, the pro democracy folks in Iran are not pro US help.

    People who want to invade these countries need to think how they would feel if some other country invaded us in order to "help".
  20. Jan 24, 2006 #19
    Even with WWII when there was a very real, immediate, and serious threat the president was unable to get the US involved in the war with out popular support.
    The role of the President is to represent the people of his/her country, not to tell them how it's going to be.
  21. Jan 24, 2006 #20


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    The remark about the draft was in view of the post by BobG regarding U.S. inability to occupy an additional country without a draft.

    The author of this thread has started at least three threads on the topic of Iran within a week’s time. Maybe you have not had time to read all of this thread or earlier threads, but I disagree. I feel new threads are being created to advertise a personal position of military invasion and antagonism rather than sincerely and intelligently debating the big picture in regard to Iran. Earlier discussions regarding proliferation/rights of sovereign countries, U.S. military over-extension, economic repercussions, etc. are thus being ignored.

    Where is the troll patrol when we need it?
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