Bill Lind on an American Syracuse:
Amazingly, Colin Powell already has launched a
repeat of the same strategy that led us to war in Iraq. Based on a
single, unvetted intelligence source, he last week accused Iran of
attempting to weaponize nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles.
It is improbable Iran has any nuclear devises to weaponize (though it
is certainly trying to get them, for obvious reasons). But apparently
just an accusation is enough to justify preemption. And we recently
sold Israel several hundred deep-earth penetrator bombs. It is safe to
bet they are not for destroying tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza
We may, of course, officially deny any role in
a strike on Iran, leaving Mr. Sharon to take full credit. But Iran,
which expects such an attack and has prepared for it, already has said
it will hold the US as accountable as Israel.
Knowing nothing about war, the neo-cons
probably expect any Iranian response to be symmetrical: an air and
missile counterstrike. But Iran cannot do much that way, and surely
knows it. Why shoot a few ineffective missiles at Israel when you have
two juicy targets right next door, in the form of American troops in
Afghanistan and Iraq?
An Iranian riposte in Afghanistan probably
would come slowly, in the form of a guerilla war in that countrys
Shiite regions. That might also be Irans response in Iraq, where it
already has Revolutionary Guard troops in Shiite areas. But there is
another possibility. Under the cover of bad weather, which winter often
provides, Iran could strike suddenly into Iraq with several armored
divisions. Our forces are scattered throughout Iraq, and they cannot
mass rapidly because Iraqi guerillas control the roads. With skill that
is not beyond what Iran might manage (the Iranian Army is better than
Saddams was) and a bit of luck, they could roll us up before American
airpower could get the clear weather it needs to be effective. America would not only lose a war in Iraq; it would lose an army.
At that point the analogy I have suggested from
the outset would have come to full fruition: Athens Syracuse
Expedition. Like the Syracuse Expedition, a victory in Iraq would have
given America little in the war against its real enemies, Islamic
non-state forces. But a defeat that resulted in loss of an entire army
would be a catastrophe.
Unfortunately, the only Syracuse Expedition
most neo-cons will know about was a college road-trip to some school in
upstate New York. Take it from me, guys; the hangover this time could
be a whole lot worse.