Occupation of Iran

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Main Question or Discussion Point

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" http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php" argued that an occupation of Iran would probably take less time than the occupation of Iraq:

Thomas Holsinger said:
I also feel the occupation campaign in Iran will take much less time than the one in Iraq for the following reasons:

(1) Iran has a functioning civil society and democratic tradition while Iraq didn't. The mullahs veto candidates they don't like, more in the past few years than earlier, but the systems and mindset for a functioning democratic society are present.

(2) We can use many of the Iranian army's junior officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel as a cadre for the new democratic regime's security forces. We couldn't do that with Iraq's army as the officers and non-coms were almost exclusively Sunni Arabs aka Baathist regime loyalists, and the mostly Shiite conscripts had almost all gone home.

3) Iran has at least one order of magnitude, and probably several orders of magnitude, less loose explosives than were present in Iraq, for possible use in improvised explosive devices. The mullah regime die-hards will die much faster than the Baathist die-hards in Iraq, because the ones in Iran will be attacking our forces mostly with direct-fire weapons. That is suicidal against American forces.

4) Language and ethnicity differences mean that Al Qaeda's purely Sunni foreign terrorists won't be able to operate much in Iran. The latter operated only briefly in Shiite areas of Iraq - those that didn't leave quickly died horribly at Shiite hands. While there are a lot of Sunnis in Iran, few of those are Arabs - they're Kurds, Azeris, etc.
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 http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB179.pdf" [Broken] 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.
 
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Answers and Replies

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Looks like President Bush agrees with Senator McCain that a nuclear Iran is "intolerable". Read more http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1137605900030&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull" [Broken].
 
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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.
 
EnumaElish
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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.
 
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EnumaElish said:
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.
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.
 
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Treadstone said:
If the U.S. invades Iran, it will be the beginning of its downfall.
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.
 
WarrenPlatts said:
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.
History will be the judge of that.

WarrenPlatts said:
It's his job to make these kinds of difficult decisions for us. That's why we elected him.
"Lisa, we elect offcials so we don't have to think!" -- Homer Simpson
 
BobG
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WarrenPlatts said:
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" http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php" argued that an occupation of Iran would probably take less time than the occupation of Iraq:
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.
 
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Gokul43201
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WarrenPlatts said:
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.
Hogwash !
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.
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)

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=448132&highlight=iran#post448132
 
EnumaElish
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WarrenPlatts said:
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.
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.)
 
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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?
 
SOS2008
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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.
 
russ_watters
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BobG said:
Would this be after our troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan or concurrently?
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.
 
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russ_watters
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Andy said:
Am i right in thinking that Israel has nuclear weapons?
Yes.
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?
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.
 
russ_watters
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SOS2008 said:
Is there a reason why new threads continue to be created on the same topic of Iran?
New news...?
As for a draft, if Warren isn't already in the military, may he be the first to go to the front line.
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.
Please, let’s stop with the fear mongering and talk about the deficit, debt held by China, U.S. dependency on foreign oil, etc.
Are you talking about the issue of nuclear proliferation in general? You don't think nuclear proliferation is a significant foreign policy issue?
Stop ignoring these very real and urgent issues.
I don't think bringing up some issues constitutes ignoring others.
At least address the criteria for non-proliferation and why Iran is any more of a threat than N. Korea, Pakistan, etc.
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.
 
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Israel is a stable democracy
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
 
BobG
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Anttech said:
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
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).
 
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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".
 
WarrenPlatts said:
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.
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.
 
SOS2008
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russ_watters said:
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.
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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SOS2008 said:
Where is the troll patrol when we need it?
Invading Grenada with the last two American tanks that are still running??:smile:

Seriously a ground invasion of Iran is not even plausible. We have worn out a lot of equipment in Iraq and there have been no significant expenditures propsed to replace it. Add to that the significant lag time before equipment could be manufactured and we have a no go for the foreseeable future.

No pun intended but any action we take against Iran will have our oil supply over a barrel.
 
russ_watters
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BobG said:
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).
Yes, I meant that, but also the political situation in Israel is relatively stable. Ie, they aren't in any danger of a military coup, civil war, or falling to outside influence.... like pretty much every surrounding country/government.
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.
I'm not entirely sure that's true. A few years ago, anyway, it seemed there was a strong pro-democracy movement. And there is a constant push-pull between the "government" and the clerics who actually run things.
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).
Well, you're forgetting one thing: words. Iran's words and threats are irrational. The timing is rational, but the stated goals, motivations, the overt threats - all of that is irrational. The're starting an inquiry into whether the Holocaust happened, for god's sake! The irrationality of their rhetoric is something they have in common with our boy Kim.

And while timing it when the US is otherwise engaged is rational, poking a tiger with a pointy stick - much less two at once - is not a rational act.
 
russ_watters
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SOS2008 said:
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.
Bob didn't say that. He didn't mention a draft.
Where is the troll patrol when we need it?
Posting topics a person is interested in and engaging in serious discussion is not trolling. Trolling involves the intent to start a fight or sling insults. That last thread got closed because people started insulting him, but he really didn't do anything to start it. So it is reasonable to start a new thread and attempt, again, to have a reasonable discussion. If you don't want to discuss it, or can't without being insulting - don't.
 
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Xenophon
Alright, this thread seems about wrapped up. Here's an interesting link on the Army's abilities and stamina though, for those who might be interested.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11009829

Looks like any potential invasion will have to wait.

-Xenophon
 
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gokul said:
Iraq's military comprised of virtually no air force or navy, and an army that surrendered at the first sign of US troops.
Iran, on the other hand has a serious air force comprising hundreds of fixed wing and rotary craft as well as a bunch of UAVs (yes Iran really has these). Their navy includes a couple each of subs and frigates, but several each of missile, amphibious, minelaying and support craft. Their army has about 300,000 tropps, but more importantly, they actually have serious tank batallions and amored cav and mobile artillery units. Invading Iran will not be the (military) walk-in-the-park that Iraq was.
You are mistaken on at least two points: (1) Iran's equipment is mostly older stuff that Americans would be embarrased to use, and the Iranian pilots that try to fly the few F-4's they have left will be merely committing suicide--they'd be better off with a dynamite belt--they'd do more damage; and (2) it is incorrect to suggest that OIF was a cake-walk--we kicked ***, but it wasn't easy--and Iran won't be easy, but it is as doable as Iraq ever was.
TSA said:
The role of the President is to represent the people of his/her country, not to tell them how it's going to be.
I think that's what I said. We elect a president, and he or she represents us. He's not a dictator.


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SOS said:
I feel new threads . . . Where is the troll patrol when we need it?
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Edward said:
We have worn out a lot of equipment in Iraq and there have been no significant expenditures propsed to replace it. Add to that the significant lag time before equipment could be manufactured and we have a no go for the foreseeable future.
I agree that we need to spend more money on the military. However, we have enough armored humvees and Strykers to handle Iran.
Russ Waters said:
Well, you're forgetting one thing: words. Iran's words and threats are irrational. The timing is rational, but the stated goals, motivations, the overt threats - all of that is irrational. The're starting an inquiry into whether the Holocaust happened, for god's sake! The irrationality of their rhetoric is something they have in common with our boy Kim.
Yes! Except that Kim doesn't suggest that Israel be wiped off the map and that the holocaust didn't happen and that the Jews need to go back to Europe.
computergeek said:
We do not have the man power to do it this decade.
Would it be too much to ask for an argument that would justify your proposition?

And regarding the argument that we shouldn't invade Iran because China will take advantage and invade Taiwan: that's what the US Navy is for.

Xenophon said:
Alright, this thread seems about wrapped up. Here's an interesting link on the Army's abilities and stamina though, for those who might be interested. Rapid troop rotations threaten institution, Pentagon-sponsored study says

Looks like any potential invasion will have to wait.

-Xenophon
1-year+ deployments are not overly rapid. When I was in the Navy, I used to think that 6 month deployments were a long time. Really, if we doubled the pay of the rank and file--which would still be less than the starting salary for a new cop--there wouldn't be recruiting shortfalls.
 
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