On Monday I touched on the impracticality and infeasibility of the alleged Iranian plan to initiate war with Israel, specifically with a nuclear strike. There simply is no way to spin this in Iran. Even a conventional weapon strike on Israel would trigger a massive military response from Israel, NATO, and Uncle Sam. A nuclear strike against Israel would result in Iran resembling the surface of Mercury within 24 hours. Whether nuclear or conventional, American or multinational, the response would reduce Iran to the Stone Age and doubtlessly involve many thousands of deaths.
It doesn't sound like something sane people would do, and I despise the neocon "(Insert tinpot dictator here) is a Hitler! He is bent on national suicide!" rhetoric. But disregarding that argument leaves me at a loss to explain their recent missile tests. From the earliest days of the Cold War, missile and warhead tests have been nothing but an exercise in dick-waving and saber-rattling. You do it to give your enemy second thoughts, to instill fear, to give evidence of a "credible deterrent." And what kind of idiot would believe that Western Europe and the U.S. are going to be impressed by short- and medium-range ballistic missiles of primitive design and minimal accuracy? Iran isn't rattling a saber so much as they are rattling a wet noodle. Their current missile technology roughly approximates America's in 1955.
So they're not trying to intimidate us. They are showing off an offensive capability. It could not be considered a deterrent unless the leaders of Iran are literally retarded. So, like North Korea, I am convinced that the government in Iran is composed entirely of unstable, unpredictable morons who now have effective delivery vehicles for a variety of weapons. Since a diplomatic solution is unlikely, I think we're on the path to another military one (with both of those countries, but let's focus on Iran for now). Sure, maybe we'll get lucky and Iran will undergo internal upheaval. The current government barely made it through an election a few months ago. But of course we can't bank on that happening.
Here we see the ultimate folly of our misadventure in Iraq. We simply don't have the manpower, the resources, or the national will to engage in another military escapade in the Middle East. We pissed all of those things away in Iraq while legitimate threats festered in other countries. So what can we do? The answer is simple: we can do the only thing we're any good at doing. We will bomb the everloving shit out of Iran, cripple it, and walk away. Think Gulf War I instead of Gulf War II.
I think that at some point in the next two or three years Iran's belligerence will get to the point that policymakers will decide to act. But rather than get engaged in another ground war, they will punt on "regime change" and simply reduce Iran to smoking rubble. They will provide years and years worth of footage for new series on The Military Channel: bombs laser-guided down chimneys, unmanned Predator drones swooping in to level villages, and night-vision footage of smoldering weapon stashes. They will decide that their only concern is disarmament. They will be more than happy to let the current batch of lunatics stay in power so long as they're neutered. Every inch of Iran's nuclear and military infrastructure is already pre-targeted. It makes too much sense, especially given the depletion of our ground forces, for spineless American politicians to choose any other option.
Think about it. What are we good at anymore? We positively suck at "spreading democracy" and all that horseshit. We've failed at regime change for 100 years. We haven't had a meaningful diplomatic success in decades. We are good at sending our aircraft carriers (of which we have about 95% of the total global supply) to the shores of some unworthy opponent and bombing the sweet holy fuck out of them. Anything that comes before or after that is beyond us. We have military technology, especially of the aeronautical and blowuppable kind, that is light years beyond what the rest of the globe can field. Applying it is our only talent nowadays.
Civilian casualties will be horrific (after all, every video of a bomb surgically flying into a window hides a hundred other videos of bombs missing by half a mile) but we'll do what we usually do and lay the moral culpability for them on Iran's leaders. Look what you made us do! Look at how little they care for the lives of their people! The only silver lining is that I fundamentally believe that Iranians are decent, reasonable, and pragmatic people, and as soon as they realize they are all about to be used for USAF target practice it could spur a change in the country's political system. But if I had to put my life's savings on it, I'd call Vegas right now and say "$53.12 on air strikes in Iran by 2011."