Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Dissecting The Unfathomable American-Iranian War

By Ghassan Kadi | The Saker Blog | May 21, 2019

As the American military build-up continues around the Strait of Hormuz, and as a potential American-Iranian war looms, many analysts are convinced that war is imminent. I beg to differ.

Ever since the “War on Syria” started, I kept reiterating that America would never launch a full-on attack on Syria, and for very good reasons, and not long ago, I finally felt compelled to write a series of articles explaining that in as much as America would love to be able to pillage Syria, it is unable to do so.

Those predictions, which stood the test of time, were made long before the Russian involvement in Syria, and now, after Syria’s triumph, the chances of a decisive victory that America is able to score by way of a military gamble anywhere in the Middle East have been shrinking and reduced to the level of zero chance. If anything, the “War on Syria” was the surrogate war that America could not launch directly either on Syria or on Iran, and even by turning its war into a war by proxy, America was still unable to win.

To recap briefly, some obstacles that stood against an all-out American NATO-led assault on Syria back in 2013, I argued that America would never risk a retaliatory attack against Israel by both Syria and Hezbollah.

An American attack on Iran will not eliminate the risk of a Hezbollah retaliatory attack on Israel, and if anything, it will bring in a new risk; the risk of a retaliatory Iranian attack on Saudi soil.

Whether or not an American-Iranian show down will directly involve Saudi troops, given that Saudi Arabia is still unable to win in its war against Yemen, even though it has the third largest military budget after the USA and China, a direct Saudi role will have little in effecting any significant input. However, with or without a direct Saudi intervention, an American attack on Iran will immediately put American interests in Saudi Arabia under the Iranian target list.

In the event of such an attack, the first thing that Iran will do is close marine traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. As a result, the whole world will be affected and the price of a barrel of oil may jump to $200 and beyond, but the relevant issue here is the impact on the feasibility of American military success.

An American attack on Iran cannot be seen as an event that is independent from the wars on Syria and Yemen. It will be seen as an upscaling that directly involves Iran. Any such turning point will sooner or later involve Saudi Arabia directly. And given that Iran will more than likely close the Strait of Hormuz and thereby putting all Saudi oil exports to halt, whether or not Iran intended to intimidate America alone, the Saudis will see it as an act of war; and they will be “forced” to retaliate.

But the moment the Iranians see that Saudi forces are involved in military action against them, they will have a huge array of critical soft Saudi targets to hit; all the way from oil wells, ports, and more importantly perhaps, water desalination plants that are all scattered on the east coast of Saudi Arabia; ie across the gulf from Iran.

Those sites are undoubtedly protected by ground to air defence shields, but in the face of thousands, tens of thousands of cheap rockets fired from Iran, much more expensive and harder-to-come-by Patriot missiles will not be able to totally stop waves and waves of Iranian rockets.

The Saudi desalination plants feed all cities in the east; including the capital Riyadh. Without them, Saudi citizens will have no water. And without oil exports, they will also lose their income.

Power stations are also in the east, if they get hit, eastern Saudi Arabia will plunge into darkness, and as summer approaches, without air-conditioning, today’s Saudis who are not any longer attuned to the harsh climate of the desert, will suffer greatly from heat exhaustion; especially without water and fuel.

America may not give a damn about Saudis, but it cannot afford to lose Saudi revenue.

But this is only on the eastern front.

On the southern front, a weaker Saudi Arabia will have to relent in its attack on Yemen. Where will this leave the battle front?

On the western front however, an all-out American attack on Iran will be seen as a bigger existential threat to Hezbollah than the “War on Syria”. Hezbollah will retaliate by hitting back at Israel; not only using its rocket power in a retaliatory manner, but also for leverage and the ability to trade-off a cease fire against Israel by an American one against Iran. A scenario like this can become a game of playing chicken and seeing who blinks first; and more than likely, faced by potential civilian casualties, Israel will be the party to relent.

An onslaught of Hezbollah rockets on Israel has been something that the USA has thus far managed to avoid; despite its deep role in the “War on Syria”. But if the carnage eventuates, America will be “forced” to supply Israel with a massive number of Patriot missiles. But these cost more than a million dollars each at least. Such figures are easy to estimate even according to sources such as Wikipedia. But the question is, who is going to fork out the cost? Furthermore, Hezbollah is estimated to have over 150 thousand rockets poised at Israel. Does America have enough Patriots to intercept them? And if THAAD missiles are to be used here and there, the economy becomes more daunting with batteries costing over a billion dollars each, according to Wikipedia again.

This of course brings in the bigger question of economy; ie the economic front. If the invasion of Iraq has cost the American treasury something between 2 and 4 trillion dollars, how much will a war with Iran cost? With the American economy on the brink, can America financially afford a new war with an enemy that it hasn’t tested the fighting prowess of?

Trump was quoted saying that a war with Iran will be the official end of Iran. But the United States of America has thus far lost all of its post WWII wars, even though they were all launched against foes of seemingly much less military readiness than Iran. As a matter of fact, if one looks at the regional strategic risks, the military risks, plus the economic risks, an American war against Iran could well become the straw that breaks America’s back.

The above analysis does not even take into account the economic impact of such war on the EU and/or the possibility of Russian, Chinese and Indian roles.

As an energy exporter, Russia may gain from inflated petrol and gas prices, but strategically, it is not going to sit idle as America wreaks havoc and imposes superiority in an area that is of high interest to Russia. But China and India, and the EU, are highly dependent on fuel that has no way out of its origin to their ports other than via the Strait of Hormuz. Some EU nations may give America some grace if convinced by big brother that the attack will only last a matter of days, but what if it takes weeks, months, or years? What if the norm becomes a $200 oil barrel? Which world economy can survive such a calamity?

The only logical scenario here is that not unless America is able to incinerate Iran in a single knockout blow, any attack on Iran will result in a series of independent repercussions that have the potential of turning the attack into a nightmare for America.

The days of bottomless pockets that allowed America to launch wars on Korea and Vietnam under the guise of fighting Communism are no more.

The days of the so-called “New World Order” of the post-USSR period and which gave America a carte-blanche to attack Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again and Libya was put on hold in Syria, and Russia has marked her redlines for any such future offensives.

Without international impunity, without a successful military track record, without the risk of retaliation against Israel, with the prospect of losing EU support, with the prospect of turning the Saudi war on Yemen in favour of the Houthis, destroying the Saudi economy and leaving Saudis without power and water, and above all, without enough funds to fight a war that can last a very, very long time, and finally, without being able to hit Iran with a single knockout blow that can avoid all of the above, how can America enter this venture?

Hawks like Bolton may think that any military action is a walk in the park, but the top brass in the American military know better. Love him or hate him, Trump is a pragmatic man, financially pragmatic perhaps, but this is alone enough reason for him not to take stupid financial decisions; and any war against Iran will be judged by Trump on its financial merits.

On paper, Trump will see that this war is impossible to win, and just like his White House predecessors who have eyed Syria in the hope of being able to attack it, he will be the chicken who will blink first and find a face-saving exit. At the end of the day, if on the scale of one to ten, America’s decision to not attack Syria scored eight, the decision not to attack Iran will score ten.

May 21, 2019 - Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. That’s a quite convincing summary of the reality on the ground, but warmongering lunatics like Bolton wouldn’t be interested in listening to that argument. If Trump has any REAL power at all, he will boot Bolton’s Bum(“Ass” to Americans) out the door and into ignominy. And then he should tell Mr “Yahoo” to pull his head in, and keep his mouth shut. And of course, tell him he is unwelcome in the USA(Yeah, I know…..It won’t happen, because Mr Yahoo tells the USA what to do, and he does it with contempt)

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | May 21, 2019 | Reply

  2. It’s essential to beware of wishful thinking, of course, but there’s reason to suspect that Mr. Kadi may be right. Let us hope so.

    Comment by traducteur | May 21, 2019 | Reply

  3. A sober article and Mr Ghassan Kadi was bang on about Syria. The main issue is the use of sanctions which themselves are an act of war. Secondly, in my view, the nodule is the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has international legal status, and not a direct attack on Iran. The target in the end is China and imperialist control of the sea lanes. Connect the dots: Hormuz, Diego Garcia and the issue of the Chagos Islanders; Maldives and the Saudis trying to purchase an island there; Sri Lanka which has signed a SOSA agreement with the US; India involved in US exercises in the Malacca Straits; and so on. Do not be easily diverted by individuals, e.g., Bolton. The Chief of US Naval Staff, Admiral Richardson, visited India 12-14 May as part of Washington’s prodding of China which in this case had the aim to “further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two navies by emphasizing the importance of information sharing and exchange.” In turn, as the Diplomat reports, India recently decided “to join the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines in sailing through and conducting a naval exercise in the South China Sea.” Such is the provocative “freedom of navigation” aimed to provoke China to act against warships that deliberately sail within 12 nautical miles of islands that China, with good or no good reason, considers to be its territory.

    Comment by Tony Seed | June 1, 2019 | Reply

  4. One thing we forget is that Saudi Arabi is a massive police state. They are terrified by their own people. The majority of Saudis would love to take a bone saw to the royal family. If they go to far afield they risk waking up from a suiciding – their own. The US ,similarly, is raising internal surveillance to an art form. More data than they can use. Data that points to a pissed off population that is about ready to lean out their windows and scream “I wont take it anymore!”.

    Comment by GGH | September 15, 2019 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.