Are Strikes Against Iran and Syria Imminent?

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:

* intimidation
* 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.

Another Blog Contest

VA Mortgage Center, a regular sponsor of Blogs of War, has launched their own blog and is kicking things off with a $5,000 military blog contest:

VA Mortgage is proud to announce our new blog. In our continued efforts of educating veterans and those currently on active duty, we have decided to keep our visitors better informed with updates to their benefits and changes in the industry via a blog.

Since the mortgage industry is only so exciting and changes in your benefits only happen periodically we would like to feature guest bloggers from some of the most popular military blogs on the internet. This will allow us to provide a variety of other interesting posts related veterans. In order to find out what type of content our users like and to find the best bloggers, we are running a contest to find the best military blogs online. As a bonus to the bloggers, we are offering prizes as well as the opportunity to be a guest blogger on our site.

We are awarding $250 to the top 10 military related blogs, according to votes from our users. And the top military blog will receive a total of $3,000.

They aren’t paying for this announcement. But of course I’d like to get my grubby paws on $3,000 so I’m asking you to click here and cast your vote for Blogs of War. My ego doesn’t need stroking but my checking account does.

Rocket Attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens

These low level terrorist attacks are not all that unusual in Greece:

The U.S. Embassy in Athens has been hit by a rocket in an attack that anonymous callers claimed was staged by militant left-wing group, authorities said.

U.S. Ambassador in Greece Charles Ries said no one was injured in the explosion on Friday morning. Damage was minimal but it was still being treated as a “very serious attack.” (Watch as Charles Ries discusses the embassy blast Video)

Greek Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said Greece “strongly condemns” the attack at about 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on the fortified building, The Associated Press reported. (Map)

“We believe it is a symbolic act,” he said. “It is an attempt to disrupt our country’s international relations.”

Of course the incident isn’t going to result in anything except perhaps tighter security. The embassy has released a warden message:

Unknown persons fired an missile at the U.S. Embassy at 5:55 this morning. There were no casualties and minor damage. The Embassy and the Consulate General in Thessaloniki will be closed to the public today, Friday January 12. It will also be closed for a U.S. public holiday on Monday, January 15. The Embassy advises Americans to exercise normal caution and prudence and to monitor the Embassy website for further information.

Embassy of the United States in Athens, Greece