I’ve speculated about the possibility of it happening at some point in 2007 but there are rumors that point towards something occuring quite soon:
Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.
The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
Again, while there are signs that point towards a more aggressive stance (the handling of Iranian nationals in Iraq, troop movements, and comments by Bush and Rice) there’s no officially acknowledged policy change. Confirmation can only be expected in the form of journalists phoning in breaking news reports of explosions in Tehran. I’d be amazed if that happened in the first quarter of this year but what better way to let the folks in the region know that we’re kicking off a new way forward?
Herschel Smith is pretty much on target with his initial take on what military action might look like:
The objective is not total war, but rather:
* regime destabilization
* denial of safe haven for insurgents, and ultimately
* fomenting of regime change
A large scale land war is neither necessary nor even possible. Given the healthy skepticism by officers concerning the proposed troop “surge,” it is doubtful that such a thing is being planned, and even more doubtful that it could succeed.
But what can succeed is the use of air and naval power, along with incursions by ground forces to accomplish the four points discussed above. Are there enough infantry to pull this off?
I’m not even sure that even limited numbers of ground forces are required. The strikes, if they come, would be mostly punitive and destabilizing in nature and we don’t have to put troops on the ground to achieve those objectives. My concerns are:
Russia – Just how damaging to U.S./Russian relations would military be?
Oil – This is Iran’s primary weapon. They can’t afford to sit on their oil forver but what kind of instability can they create in the near term and can our oil producing allies offset any of that damage?
Regime Change – I’m also worried that any military action against Iran will actually impair out ability to reach out to moderate Iranians. They’re proud and nationalistic, even when opposed to the current regime, and I fear that an attack will lead even moderate Iranians to rally around the current regime.
The only certainty is that the Iranians have intentionally, and quite cleverly, worked to leave us with an array of incredibly difficult choices – the way forward is not very clear.