BY JOHN BATCHELOR
July 18, 2006
American observers have long anticipated the strategic offensive by the Islamic Republic of Iran that began with Iranian proxies in Gaza and Lebanon provoking Israel. The next weeks will see Iran maneuver for the global crisis it wants to create by winter. The confrontation at the United Nations Security Council over Iran’s refusal to suspend nuclear fuel cycle processing will be the presenting issue; however, the contest is decades in the making and is best understood as Iran’s aim to defeat the United States and to establish itself as the pre-ordained hegemon of the Persian Gulf and ummah.
War planning by all sides is well advanced. Israeli strategic plans are now on display. Iran’s strategic plans are discernible because Iran has twice in the last months conducted war games that describe what is ahead.
Last winter, Iran tested its strategic air defenses. Ahmadinejad was out of view for about ten days as he participated in his role as president along with his war cabinet and the mullahs. American observers watched DOD signals traffic on the games and reached several conclusions: 1. Iran expects America to launch air attacks against Iranian command and control, air defenses and nuclear weapons-making and ballistic missile sites by winter, perhaps as early as October 2006. 2. Iran has constructed deep and hard sites in which its command and control will ride out American attacks through the winter months, when American tactical strikes will struggle with the heavy cloud cover over Tehran. 3. Iran’s national command leadership is prepared to approve offensive strikes against American and coalition assets in the Gulf, in the Iraq theater, in the Arabian Sea. 4. Iran believes the U.N. Security Council will work to broker a ceasefire; when it does, Iran will emerge triumphant and the remaining American strategic options will be minimal.
Last spring, Iran accelerated its war planning during naval war games in the Persian Gulf. Again, Iran was demonstrating its capabilities knowing that American signals intelligence was watching and recording.
What the Iranians demonstrated was that in the event of the expected American air strikes, Iran will respond with weapons and forces in the Persian Gulf. They also showed that they have a navy with surface and submarine warships that are capable of crippling civilian shipping indefinitely.
The Chinese-designed Silkworm missile C-802 that struck an Israeli warship last week was launched by Iranian agents in Lebanon, and Iran possesses weaponry that is capable of striking at American warships in the Persian Gulf. Iran’s major strategic goal in a sea battle is to cripple an American strategic asset, a supercarrier.
Iran is also prepared to launch an amphibious assault against the Gulf States. The Islamic Republic has the weaponry to strike at the depots, pipelines, refineries and oilfields of the Arabian peninsula as well as the Caspian Sea basin.
In the event that American air strikes become unbearable, the Iranian national security apparatus is prepared to launch a strategic ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead: accordingly, as part of the 2006 naval war game, Iran conducted a practice of national command and control procedures for the launch of a nuclear warhead. The range of the Iranian ballistic missile is up to 1200 miles, which puts Jerusalem in range.
Iran’s war games plan looks to be on schedule and well suited to the paralysis of the Europeans and the U.N. Security Council. Stare at burning Haifa and Beirut and (eventually) Damascus and know that Iran is on the march. The Teheran regime is supremely confident. It believes that Allah has prepared its victory over the American demon it calls “World Arrogance.” It believes that the ruin that follows this conflict will prepare the entry of the Twelfth (Invisible) Imam and the delivery of the faithful to Paradise. The Tehran regime believes unshakably in what it calls the “Day of Judgment.”
What is to be done? A Wall Street trader who lives on risk converted his assets entirely to cash on Thursday July 13 and yet then, that night, while reasonably buffered from the panic in worldwide markets, found he felt sick to his stomach. My own recommendation is to read over a towering American hymn from the age of the American Revolution: “Jerusalem, my happy home, when shall I come to thee?” asks the opening stanza. “When shall my sorrows have an end? Thy joys, when shall I see?”