What War with Iran Might Look Like

Note: Most Englishmen who comment on American politics fit themselves into the world view of either the Republican or Democrat Parties. Therefore, most English comment on Mr Obama proceeds on the assumption that what he has done to America is supremely good or supremely bad. But I am not pro-American. I judge American politics purely by their impact on England.

For this reason, I regard Mr Obama as an excellent American President, and very much hope he wins the next election. He may have turned America into more of a police state than his opponents would have done. He may simply have turned it into a different sort of police state from the one his opponents had in mind. I don’t care. I’m not an American. I don’t live in America. What happens there is, in itself, of no more consequence to me than what happens in Ecuador or Nigeria. What I do like about Mr Obama, however, is that he is the first American President in over 30 years who has not started any wars. Doubtless, he has not made the world a safer place. But he has done little to make it even more dangerous than he found it.

Since Ron Paul will not be the Republican candidate this year, the American presidential election will be a contest between a man who has started no wars, and whatever unwrapped mummy has bellowed the loudest that he will go to war with Iran/North Korea/Russia/China/Somalia/Cuba, etc, etc. Unless you really want the world to be blown up because “Jesus would have done it,” I suggest it isn’t much of a contest.

Sooner or later, the dollar will collapse, and America will complete its long transition from barbarism to decadence. We shall all then be able to forget the nightmare of its hegemony, except as a threat to naughty children – “Eat up your greens, or the Americans will come and bomb you!” For the moment, Mr Obama is easily the safest pair of hands in Washington. I may even donate £25 to his re-election fund. SIG

Article by Philip Giraldi.

Back in September 2007 I wrote an article for Antiwar.com called “What World War III May Look Like.” The article, which presumed that an incident involving U.S. troops on the border between Iraq and Iran could easily escalate into what would eventually become a global conflict, was widely replayed in the alternative media and even in the mainstream. Well, I am pleased to report that no such war has yet started, though there has been a disturbing expansion of U.S. military activity through the deployment of drones to hit targets in assorted countries without having to worry about American casualties or niceties like declarations of war. Other geopolitical elements that figured in my 2007 analysis have also changed, so I believe that the time has come for an update.

Iran is clearly the target of choice, just as it was in 2007. Despite President Barack Obama’s assertion that he would open up avenues to talk to the Iranians, he has failed to do so, he has rejected Iranian initiatives to start a dialogue, and he is showing every sign of unwillingness to negotiate on any level. Congress has even moved to block any contact between American and Iranian diplomats. The sanctions that recently took effect against the Iranian banking system can be construed as an act of war, particularly as Iran has not provided any casus belli. Further sanctions that will restrict energy imports are impending and will bring the country’s economy to a halt. There are already signs that the Iranian government feels itself compelled to demonstrate to its people that it is doing something about the situation. That “something” might well be a confrontation with the U.S. Navy that will have unfortunate results. In light of all that, it might be useful to imagine just how war with Iran could play out if the Iranians don’t roll over and surrender at the first whiff of grapeshot.

It might start with a minor incident, possibly involving an Iranian armed small craft manned by the Revolutionary Guard. Though the Strait of Hormuz is generally considered an international waterway, the Iranians claim that half of the strait is within their territorial waters. Tehran, in response to intensified sanctions, declares that it can determine who can use the strait and says that it will take steps to keep American warships from entering. The frigate USS Ingraham, patrolling off of Bushehr, is confronted by the small craft and ordered to heave to, an order it rejects. The Iranian commander, ignoring instructions to back off when confronted directly by the U.S. Navy, opens fire with rocket-propelled grenades. The frigate’s Phalanx rapid-fire battery immediately responds by blasting the Iranian boat, killing the entire Revolutionary Guard crew, but two American sailors are also killed in the exchange and four are wounded.

Fighters from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis are immediately launched under standing orders, and they devastate the naval base that the Iranian boat departed from. President Obama holds a press conference and calls the incident an act of war and vows to do everything necessary to support U.S. forces in the region, but he stops short of a commitment to stage a full-scale attack on Iran. A hastily called meeting of the U.N. Security Council results in a 17–1 vote urging the United States to exercise restraint, with only Washington voting “no.” In the General Assembly, only the United States, Israel, Micronesia, and Costa Rica support possible military action.

The United States is effectively alone, but Israel takes advantage of the growing war fervor in the United States to launch an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities. The recently completed nuclear reactor at Bushehr is destroyed, killing 13 Russian technicians working on the site, and the aboveground buildings at the Natanz nuclear research facility are leveled. Russian-supplied Iranian air defenses shoot down six Israeli aircraft. Washington receives no prior warning of the Israeli attack, though it does pick up the signal traffic that precedes it and knows something is coming. It makes no effort to stop the Israelis as they fly over undefended Iraqi airspace.

Congress and the media rally behind the Israelis and demand war. A bill in the House of Representatives calling on the White House to take military action in support of Israel passes 431–4. A similar bill in the Senate receives only two nays. President Obama hesitates but then approves a limited offensive, directed against Iran’s military, its nuclear sites, and, most particularly, its Revolutionary Guard installations. In the first few days, overwhelming American air and naval superiority destroys Iran’s principal air, naval, and army bases. Iranian Revolutionary Guard facilities are obliterated, as are the known Iranian nuclear research and development sites. The limited offensive soon becomes anything but that, with strategic bombers dropping 30,000-pound Big BLU bunker-buster bombs to strike underground labs and processing centers. Population centers are avoided, though smart weapons are used to destroy communications centers and command and control facilities. There are nevertheless large numbers of civilian casualties as many of the targeted nuclear sites are close to or within cities and large towns. Infrastructure is also hit, particularly bridges, roads, and power-generation stations close to known nuclear research centers and military sites.

There is a pause in the attacks, and Iran strikes back. With nearly 10 years to prepare, Tehran has successfully hidden and hardened many of its military and nuclear facilities, a large percentage of which are undamaged. The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis operating in the Gulf of Oman is hit by a lucky strike by a Chinese Silkworm cruise missile that comes in low and successfully evades countermeasures. The Stennis retires to port in Bahrain. Three other support vessels are also hit and severely damaged when they are attacked by waves of small craft manned by suicidal Revolutionary Guards, not unlike the kamikaze attacks in the Second World War. The Iranian attackers are annihilated, but the Pentagon refuses to say how many American sailors have been killed in the exchange.

Pro-Iranian riots break out in Beirut. In the south of Lebanon, Hezbollah fires salvos of rockets into Israel, striking Tel Aviv and killing several hundred Israelis. Israel responds by bombing Lebanon and Syria, which it blames for supporting the attacks. Upgraded Iranian Shahab-3 missiles also strike Israel, killing more civilians. The Israeli Defense Forces are fully mobilized, and troops are sent to the northern border. Syria and Lebanon also mobilize their forces. Rioters in Baghdad attack the American embassy, which demands that the Iraqi government “do something” to protect it, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shrugs and says that the situation is out of his control. Large public demonstrations demand that Iraq support Iran in a fraternal struggle against the United States.

Shi’ites sympathetic to Iran sabotage Saudi Arabian eastern oil fields. Hundreds of alleged saboteurs are shot dead by Saudi security forces. An oil tanker out of Kuwait is hit by a Silkworm and runs aground to keep from sinking. Another hits a mine. Insurers at Lloyd’s of London refuse to cover any tankers transiting the Persian Gulf, claiming that damage incurred during a state of war is not covered by the policies. Oil shipments from the region, one quarter of the world’s supply, stop completely, and oil goes up to $300 a barrel. Wall Street suffers its biggest loss in 20 years, with the Dow Jones index plummeting more than 900 points.

The United States offers Iran a cease-fire, which Tehran rejects. Two days later, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is assassinated by a Shi’ite bodyguard under orders from Tehran. Pakistan declares that it is neutral in the conflict and orders the U.S. embassy to reduce its staff by 50%, including the CIA station chief and his deputy. Order breaks down in both countries, and the Pakistani army declares a state of emergency, closing the border with Afghanistan. NATO calls an emergency meeting and decides to begin the evacuation by air of the multinational force trapped in Afghanistan, leaving many weapons and heavy equipment behind.

In the power vacuum, NATO troops withdraw to their bases while Taliban-backed militias take over much of Kabul and Kandahar. Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif, which is largely Shi’ite, declares itself a part of Iran. The government resigns in Beirut, and Hezbollah forms a new one. A salvo of Iranian Silkworm missiles sets the Saudi Arabian eastern oil fields ablaze. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates send an urgent diplomatic message to Tehran declaring that they will be “neutral” in the fighting and will not assist the United States in any way. Kuwait sends the same message, while Egyptian volunteers gather along the border with Israel in Sinai, demanding that Cairo take steps in support of their Arab brothers in Lebanon. Kuwait refuses to allow the United States to use its men and supplies at Camp Doha against Iran. In Bahrain, rampaging Shi’ite crowds depose Sheikh Khalifa al-Khalifa and set up an Islamic Republic, forcing the U.S. Fifth Fleet to abandon its only secure base in the region. The Dow Jones index loses another 1,000 points.

The United States attempts to get China and Russia to mediate with Iran to end the fighting, but they refuse to do Washington any favors, noting that they had opposed the attack in the first place and also citing their countrymen killed in the U.S. attacks. Suicide bombers attack in London, Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. The attacks are poorly planned and inflict only a few casualties, but panic sets in and the public demands that the respective governments do something. The United States tells the Iranian government that unless resistance ceases, nuclear weapons will be used on select targets. India and Pakistan are alarmed by the U.S. threat and put their own nuclear forces on high alert, as does Israel. Russia and China also increase their readiness levels to respond to the crisis.

Iran refuses to concede defeat, and the Iranian people rally around the government. The U.S. public is clamoring for action. Oil prices continue to surge, and the long-term viability of petroleum supplies is in question as the Strait of Hormuz continues to be closed. Another U.S. ship is badly damaged by suicide attackers in the Persian Gulf. American embassies throughout the region are attacked. Anti-American rioting takes place in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Mindanao, and in Dhaka. The United States consulate general in Karachi, Pakistan, is sacked and burned. Forty Americans die along with scores of Pakistanis when the Marine guards open fire.

There are frequent terrorism scares in a number of American cities, which are under red-alert security lockdown, though there are no new attacks. Domestic air travel declines by more than 50%. As a preventive measure, there are mass arrests of American Muslim leaders. Some antiwar activists are detained at military prisons, including Guantanamo, under the provisions of the Military Commissions Act and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Israel continues to be bombarded from inside Lebanon. Its air attacks inflict massive damage on civilians but are unsuccessful in stopping the rockets. Its government falls and is replaced by a hard-right regime headed by former Foreign Secretary Avigdor Lieberman. Rioting rocks the West Bank and Gaza, forcing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resign and flee to Paris. Hamas forms a provisional government. India threatens to attack Pakistan if there is any question about the security of Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal.

The United States uses a neutron-type bomb against the main Iranian nuclear research center at Natanz, which both Washington and Israel had already bombed conventionally and destroyed. It vows to bomb again if Iran continues to resist. Iran is defiant and fires another wave of Silkworms at U.S. ships, hitting one. Russia and China place their nuclear forces on high alert. Pakistani militants assume control of the government, aided by radical elements in the army and the intelligence service. India launches a preemptive strike against the main Pakistani nuclear centers at Wah and Multan, where the country’s arsenal is believed to be concentrated. Pakistan has some of its nukes moving around on trucks to avoid such a scenario, however, and is able to strike back by bombing New Delhi.

A minor engagement between American and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf has ignited World War III.

Read more by Philip Giraldi

28 responses to “What War with Iran Might Look Like

  1. Sean has known of course for years that I don’t view his analysis of the modern USA quite as positively as he would like! However, as long as the USA continues to elect Presidents (under otherwise prevailing domestic US electoral conditions that maximize the influence of socialist leftists and other Nazis in the State and Federal governments) who can’t get a grip of liberal classical analyses of these situations that they get faced with such as a nuclear Iran, and why we have got to the state of affairs where a nuclear Iran is seem to matter at all, then there could be a disaster.

    It wouyld not matter, in a libertarian world, or indeed one which is trending that way, if Iran got nuclear weapons. Just as it would not matter if anyone else did, since in such a world there would be no such thing as a Stalinist North Korea for example. Russia, to name a case, would be a somewhat roughly-carapaced but essentially western liberal country. In it, nearly all men drink too much vodka before 9am but nobody gives a stuff as it does no harn to others or them, a lot of creative things are done by a rather few people, perhaps under a million out of the 300-million-odd it should support, like grand music, astonishing science and very readable books, and a healthy disdain for FabiaNazi leftist neo-western-pre-capitalist-pastoralist-greeNazi beliefs and fads affected by Anglosphere metropolitan types is widespread. But they’d still eat MacDonalds and drink Pepsi, to show their essential Russian-ness. The fact that the Russian State Forces had nukes would not matter, as nobody there or here would begin to conceive of using them against (us.)

    The only problem with Iran, therefore, is the strategic view of the world held by its Political EnemyClass. If I was an Israeli General Staff Officer, such as Moshe Dayan (is he still alive? I do not know) then I would aim tactically to decapitate this EnemyClass of persons in Iran. It would be of no concern to me what the USA or even NATO, let alone the EU, thought. They would be quite irrelevant, for I would know that the Iranian people are (a) innocent and (b) don’t want to die and (c) ought to be our friends. They would welcome a wholesale and complete removal of their EnemyClass, after which we could talk about opening borders and letting Israeli students go and study in Teheran and wherever their other place is (they must have one) and Iranian ones coming to Haifa and Tel Aviv. If Iran has nukes at that time, it is quite unimportant. Who for example cares if France has some, in its “atomic-sumbarines”, which might be off Devonport or Bootle?

    The Iran thing can be solved by removing its EnemyClass. Simples.

  2. However, I did give it a “5”star, because it’s an interestingly scary scenario whcih could easily play out. This is since Western Political EnemyClasses have to cause as much death and disaster as possible, so as to comply with their strategic objectives as laid down by their GramscoFabiaNazi philosophers. It does justify their existence, in their own eyes.

  3. Obama has started no wars?

    Lets see.

    – The US was heavily involved in the bombing of Libya, a new war.
    – He has invaded Uganda, a new war.
    – He has started drone attacks on Somalia, an escalation of a war.
    – he has spread the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan, very dangerous escalation!
    – He is currently helping preparing a war against Iran, is supporting CIA terrorist attacks there, even flying some drones over Iran. And now new sanctions against Iran, which is an act of war. And of course he is guilty in spreading the lie that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons, although his own CIA tells him that they are not.

    No, Obama has contributed his fair share in making the world a much less save place and of course destroying an enormous mount of innocent lives. He is definitely worse than Bush on this. I agree he may be the a lesser evil to everything that is coming out of the republican party at the moment except for Ron Paul.

  4. Oh dear, I’d forgotten all about Libya – though that was surely in the main a Mr Dave/Head Froggy co-production. I take your point re Iran, and was ignorant about the invasion of Uganda. This being granted, Mr Obama still strikes me as less demented than anything else on real offer.

    Applying the Lift Test, I’d rather be stuck in a lift with Mr O than any of his likely opponents. The worst he might do is throw a tantrum and sit in a corner. The others would start ravishing their fellow passengers, or breaking wind, or would insist on squeezing themselves through the ceiling exit for a possibly dangerous impersonation of Bruce Willis.

  5. I wonder whether Cameron will send both of the British Navy?

  6. Would the ships break down before or after surrendering to the Iranians?

  7. I didn’t know we still had two ships.

  8. “What are you doing Captain?”

    “I’m just texting the Prime Minister to ask if we can afford to fire our missile”.

  9. Oh, and are there more Admirals still than we had in 1805?

  10. That’s one of Parkinson’s Laws: the more irrelevant and useless a bureaucracy becomes, the larger it becomes.

  11. On a serious note, I think it is naive to say “I don’t care what happens inside America”. The problem with that is American ideological hegemony. The political discourse throughout the Anglosphere, the West and increasingly the World is the American discourse, as I have bored for England about in previous comments. So what happens in their culture wars directly affects us. It used to be said that, “If America sneezes the rest of the world gets a cold”. It is more useful to consider that “if America gets a hysteria about, for example racism, it is the rest of the world that has to fall over itself being anti-racist.”

    The American cultural struggle is central to our struggle for liberty. Our discourse is their discourse. If Ron Paul is the start of an American libertarian revival, that will help us. If a Democrat president is elected, our own rate of GramscoFabiaNazi conversion will acclerate, and only the vanquisihing of that ideology within America will free us from it.

    Well, unless my forthcoming book, “America: STFU!” is a success on a par with Keynes’s General Theory, of course :)

  12. I wish you would write a book. I wish you would even write a few connected essays for the LA. Your brilliance, though much appreciated, is wasted on a blog.

  13. I keep meaning to Sean, but every time I start it turns into “Ian B’s Theory Of Everything” because everything I think needs saying is connected to everything else I think needs saying, and the bits make no sense by themselves. I’ve even abandoned trying to blog over at Cats, because nothing I start writing as a blog post seems to make sense to me unless I can reference it to the TOE, which obvioously I can’t because I haven’t written that. And also probably because I’m talking absolute cobblers.

    This writing thing, I wish I knew how it was done. I really do.

    So I pass the time taking potshots at Kevin Carson, and annoying Tim Worstall and his readers by writing barely hinged comments about bankers, guillotines and tumbrels. Oh, and the ants. Maybe I’ll write a book about ants, and work outwards from there.

  14. Ian:

    Writing must say something and cannot say everything.

    The important thing is to get (some of) your thoughts “out there.”

    Karl Popper delineates thre realms:

    World One: The world of objectively-existing matter and energy.

    World Two: The world of our experience and thoughts.

    World Three: The world of independently existing Objective Knowledge.

    Just get your thoughts into World Three where I and others can read them.


    EDIT by blogmeister…#
    Tony is dead right on the button here. At least just keep on doing what you’re already doing.

  15. It’s probably heretical, but I’ve always thought KP was a boring old windbag.

  16. I always thought he was nuts.

  17. With respect, the whole fantasy of an evil USA attacking a peaceloving Iran which has been trying to diplomatically reach out is complete nonsense.

    The Iranian regime is highly aggressive and dangerously fanatical. It’s aggression, pursuit of nuclear weapons combined with its leaders open rejoicing in his belief that the apocalypse is imminent all combine to make it a massive risk to world peace.

    It’s fun to blame the Americans for everything but in this instance it is wrong, the danger is from the insane Iranian regime not from American aggression.

    Blogmeister edit#
    That’s kind of what I was implying in my first comment.

  18. CH,

    I think you’re in the territorial waters surrounding a straw man there. I’m against the inevitable coming war. I don’t believe that Iran is “peaceloving” or innocent. Neither however do I believe the narrative that the Iranian leadership actually want an apocalypse. America is full of people who are just as apocalyptic; who believe that armageddon will induce the return of their God. So, it’s a long way from that to literally destroying themselves.

    Iran has started not a single war since the revolution. America has started many. The Iranians have supported terrorism. So have the Americans. And the Russians. And us. Indeed, a major reason for the current Islamist situation was the “clever” idea of surrounding the USSR with muslim fanatics to end Communism. Well thanks USA, that worked out well for everyone, didn’t it? Who can forget Sandy Gall with a tea towel on his head, with the “noble” mujahadeen? Seems a long time ago now, doesn’t it?

    I do not believe there is a rational reason for this coming war. I honestly believe that it is more deranged war-as-foreign-policy. Dominant nations have a tendency to try to make the rest of the world into the image they desire. None of them seem to realise that, if planning one’s own country leads to unintended consequences and systemic failure, the desire to plan other countries is even more unrealistic and doomed.

    The Americans simply have a hard-on for war. They are out of control. They are pushing Iran into a corner, and that is because the only outcome of this pre-war period they want is a war. Just as the buffoonish posturing before the Iraq war was designed with the sole purpose of producing war.

    There is simply no reason to have a war with Iran. They have no serious military capability, and no nuclear weapons, and no means to deploy nuclear weapons. If they do get those things, they will still only have achieved military par with many other countries. Israel has nuclear weapons it does not even honestly admit to, and if you are worried about deranged religious ideas, the only reason Israel exists is that its inhabitants believe that God gave them the land 4000 years ago, in defiance of all sense and reason, and they are apparently prepared to do anything and everything to hold onto that land. The general rule of the Middle East appears to be that they’re all as mad as a box of frogs.

    The best thing we can do is leave them all to it and, if they want to apocalyptically shit on their own doorstep, that’s their problem. Not ours.

  19. Karl Popper’s work leads the world in the philosophy of science. If you find his work ‘boring’ you’re saying rather a lot about yourself…


  20. Good stuff, Ian B – sane and balanced in ways I don’t feel inclined to match.

    Tony, I just can’t get excited about KP. His falsification stuff is fair enough, so long as you accept that its acceptance itself rests on a traditional inductive argument. As for all that World One to Three, it leaves me cold. The only certain reality I know is the contents of my mind. All sensory impressions and reflections on these are based on an act of faith.

    Needless to say, I don’t like Ayn Rand either.

  21. The human experience of reality is subjective. Hume and Kuhn, not Rand and Popper.

  22. That’s why Popper assigns subjective experience to World Two.
    Those interested in Popper’s ideas might start with “Conjectures and Refutations” or Bryan Magee’s excellent introduction “Popper.”

    Kuhn makes the selection of scientific theories a matter of mass psychology. Is that what you want?

    Rand’s work is axiomatized deduction from axioms derived from “experience.” Any conflict with reality runs back up the deductive chains to wreck the axioms.


  23. Ian B, I don’t think i’m near to a strawman. Dr Gabb mentioned Iran ‘reaching out’ to the US, severely implying that Iran wants peace while it is the US which is looking for confrontation, which is why I mocked the idea of the Iranian regime being ‘peaceloving’.

    The danger is from Iran, not from the US. To compare Iranian nuclear weapons with Israeli weapons is a false equivalence, Iran and Israel are very different in all manner of pertinent ways. Drawing a moral equivalance between Iranian support of terrorism with the behaviour of countries such as US and UK is a failure of reason.

    Minimising the effect of Iran gaining nuclear weapons is remarkably insouciant. The idea that it wouldn’t be a problem as they have no ‘delivery system’ does not make me feel at all safe.

    I don’t want a war with Iran at all, If there is a war, I don’t want Britain to be involved, but I’m certainly not goibng to fall into the knee jerk response of blaming America or the cop out of drawing moral equivalence with the Iranian regime and countries such as Israel, US and the UK.

  24. All sensory perceptions are acts of faith?

    How do you know this, Dr Gabb?

  25. One of the greatest virtues of Popper’s approach is that he _strengthens_ the opposing argument(s) before dwemolishing them. The opposing argument is demolished beyond repair. You also get to learn about the opposing arguments in depth.

    I learned Logic and Scientific Method from my good friend and guide Jeremy Shearmur, who was Popper’s researcher for eight years.
    I published an essay by him in ‘Free Life’ February 1983.