Friday, September 28, 2012

Attacking Persia: Cost And Benefits!

Unto nigh any cal cal calculations - ideally - a bennie/price analysis should be applied - even in the heat of combat. Essentially what shall i gain and what all am i gon haffa pay?

Even more truer for diplopolititary calculations - including doing Persia from the air.

While the world considers Little Satan"s IAF doing a Persian Panty Raid, sev of the most biggest brains in the biz do a cost/bennie thing for Great Satan if she were to ascertain Preacher Command stepped over the red line and rained her righteous high teching wrath down on certain elements and their pointy little heads.

Got a hat? Better hang on to it! A fully crunk PDF - yours truly was allowed to share some of the money shots
II.1. Great Satan Military Action. 

A preemptive Great Satan military action could delay for up to four years Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon. Such a delay would be the result of damage to Iran’s existing nuclear facilities, the weakening of Iran’s ability to rebuild such facilities, and damage to Iran’s military capabilities. In addition to these impacts on Iran’s nuclear program, the decision to take military action could have broader geopolitical benefits for Great Satan.

II.1.1 Damage to nuclear facilities.

 Sustained attacks could damage or destroy Iran’s major enrichment facility at Natanz, plus the conversion facilities in Esfahan and Tehran (where the potential for civilian casualties would exist); the still incomplete heavy water reactor and production plant in Arak; and some centrifuge production installations.

While there is some debate about the capacity of a single large bunker-buster bomb to destroy Fordow, repeated sorties could result in significant damage to the facility and to the portion of Iran’s stockpile of 20% enriched uranium that is stored there—without taking the site permanently out of commission. The Iranian nuclear program would have to re-excavate the site to recover enriched material (if such recovery is even possible) or build new enrichment facilities. This would be time consuming under the best of circumstances.

Iran’s work at Fordow was first detected in 2007, but it was not until two years later that the facility was advanced enough to be identified as an enrichment facility. Another two years passed before Iran began installing centrifuges at Fordow, suggesting a timeline for recovery of up to four years. While this may not represent the maximum speed with which Iran could build an enrichment facility, it does indicate that the process cannot be completed in a few months.

II.1.2 Weakened ability to rebuild nuclear facilities. 

Iran’s ability to reconstruct its nuclear program could be impaired by attacks on sites where centrifuge components are produced or stored. One assessment notes that, since some critical components cannot be produced domestically and current sanctions severely restrict Iran’s ability to import those components, Iran would only be able to replace 2,000 of the centrifuges that are likely to be destroyed or damaged through attacks on the Fordow and Natanz enrichment facilities (which currently house 10,000–11,000 centrifuges).

 Other assessments indicate that Iran’s supplies may be less constrained and that Iran might have the capability to begin producing significant numbers of centrifuges again within a few months of an attack. Thus, while destroying some critical components might delay recovery for a very substantial period, the delay could potentially be shorter. This uncertainty is one reason it is difficult to predict the impact of an attack. If Iran were to decide to replace a severely damaged or destroyed Fordow facility, it would have to build again deeper underground and perhaps place smaller facilities in more remote areas, all of which would be time consuming.

II.1.3 Damage to military capabilities. 

Great Satan would also be able to destroy or damage many of Iran’s air defenses, its air force, its military communications networks and command and control centers, and some of Iran’s retaliatory capabilities such as the main military bases and missile and rocket-launching sites. In addition, damage could be done to the facilities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); as well as those of Iran’s air force, army, and navy. She could also damage some sites suspected to be involved in work on nuclear weapons, such as Parchin. (PDF via CSIS)

II.1.4 Deterrence of nuclear weapons proliferation. 

Great Satan"s military action against Iran’s nuclear program may also reduce the odds that other countries in the region will seek nuclear weapons. First, it might provide assurance to regional allies, who would see that Great Satan will act to protect their security and that Washington’s promises to its friends are credible. Moreover, if Iran’s nuclear program were set back, key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt would feel less pressure to pursue their own nuclear programs. Second, military action might also deter others—inside and outside the region—from pursuing their nuclear ambitions, fearing that if they do, it might invite a similar Great Satanresponse.

II.1.5 Broader geopolitical benefits for Great Satan

Military action would demonstrate to the Iranian government America’s determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It could disrupt government control, deplete the Iran treasury, raise internal tensions, and, some maintain, weaken the regime. (PSF via Brookings) This last is a highly contested assumption, and we join other experts in believing that an attack would strengthen the Iranian regime instead of weakening it (as mentioned in the consideration of “Costs,” below. The use of force would also reassure those American allies and potential allies in the greater Middle East that are concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions.


Hold up - what will be the price for such unbridled hyperpuissace? 

Funintended consequences for American military action would be realized immediately. (Talking here about the costs of Iranian retaliation, not the financial costs of conducting an offensive military campaign)  Attacking Iran would also have important longer-term regional and global consequences for Great Satan

The long-term and even the near-term costs of military action are difficult to estimate, because of uncertainties about Iran’s reactions and the reactions of other nations, and because of the high likelihood of unanticipated and unintended consequences.
III.1. Costs of Direct Iranian Retaliation.

Some argue that Iran would be inclined to hold back in its response to an attack, so as not to provoke an even larger conflict with Great Satan. However, Iran may certainly retaliate, costing lives and causing damage to  property and assets in the region. Iran could engage in at least token missile/rocket strikes against the attacker, targeting sites in Israel or Great Satan facilities in the region. Iran’s ballistic missile program has developed in parallel to its nuclear program, with both making substantial progress in the past several years (although sanctions have slowed development in both programs).
According to unclassified estimates, Iran probably has at least two dozen and possibly more than 100 conventionally armed ballistic missiles capable of striking most of the region, including Little Satan —although this capability may be blunted by ballistic missile defense systems that Great Satan is reportedly in the process of deploying in the region.

It's possible that the Iranians might limit the scope of their retaliation, in order to develop support and sympathy from key regional states and the broader international community, gauging that they would gain politically from being perceived as the victim.

III.1.1 Retaliation against Great Satan

In response to a Great Satan military campaign, Iran would have less incentive to exercise restraint in retaliation than if the attack came just from Little Satan (in which case Iran might wish to avoid triggering Great Satan involvement); but Iran would still be mindful of America’s power and readiness to respond. Retaliation would most likely involve Iran’s asymmetrical conventional force capability. Iran would want to avoid direct military confrontation, to the extent possible, so targets would include Great Satan facilities in the region, Little Satan facilities (since Iran would view Little Satan as partly responsible for a Great Satan attack), or some combination thereof. 

While Iran’s ability to retaliate in this way is likely to have been degraded by American attacks on Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles, Iranian strikes over time could still potentially kill American and Little Satan citizens, as well as citizens of those countries where Great Satan has allies and bases. 

Iran could also use its naval or other assets to attack ships, both civilian and military, in the region. Iran has built up her naval capabilities over the past two decades, particularly in the Persian Gulf. While Iran’s asymmetrical naval capability—consisting of anti-ship missiles, small submarines, fast attack boats, and mines—would ultimately be overmatched by the American Navy, Iran could take advantage of the constrained geography of the Persian Gulf to inflict meaningful damage on allied ships. The IRGC Navy would carry the burden of attacks inside the Gulf. The regular Navy operates generally outside the Gulf and has larger vessels that are more easily targeted.

In addition to retaliation involving conventional forces, Iran could kidnap military personnel, businessmen, and/or civilians and leverage hostages for political bargaining.

III.1.2 Retaliation against
Little Satan

In response to a Little Satan strike, Iran could launch missiles at Little Satan's cities. While Iran’s missiles are highly inaccurate and Little Satan’s missile defenses (which would likely be supported by American systems) could intercept many of these weapons, some could get through. Although Little Satan could anticipate some of Iran’s likely targets and direct most of the affected civilians to bomb shelters, there would inevitably be casualties and property damage.

Since earlier Little Satan surprise attacks on Iraq’s Osirak and Syria’s Deir ez-Zor reactors provoked no retaliation from either country, Iran also might not retaliate. This seems unlikely.

 While retaliation against Israel would risk drawing Great Satan into the conflict, it might be necessary for domestic Iranian political reasons, and it would be understandable to many in the international community who would condemn Little Satan"s military action. Iran could target IAF airbases where aircraft used in the strike are located, or the new clear complex at Dimona. 
Iran might even estimate that such a proportional response might not draw Great Satan into the conflict.

III.1.3 Closing the Strait of Hormuz.

 Iran could attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for an attack. Nearly 20% of world exports of petroleum—including Iran’s own exports—pass through the Strait of Hormuz. Any effort to block the Strait could disrupt the global oil and natural gas markets (in addition to blocking the main artery for export of Iran’s own oil), resulting in a large increase in petroleum prices and potentially alienating important nations, such as China, which otherwise would likely be sympathetic to an Iran that has been attacked seemingly without clear provocation. Nonetheless, Iran might calculate that threats to close the Strait could galvanize international pressure on the Great Satan to de-escalate.

Despite the overmatch enjoyed by America's Navy and possible coalition partners, Iran might succeed in closing the Strait for days or even weeks by deploying a substantial number of mines and then using its naval forces and land-based anti-ship missiles to hinder efforts at clearance. Such an outcome obviously would drive oil prices higher

Even if Iran did not seek to close the Strait, an attack on Iran would likely produce an anticipatory spike in oil prices—in fact, mounting tensions with Iran have already contributed to a price increase. Escalating tensions and naval skirmishes could further rattle markets and produce additional price spikes. There is also the possibility that defensive measures taken by the Iranians could be misinterpreted, or that rogue actions by elements of the IRGC Navy could create incidents in the Persian Gulf, creating an inadvertent naval escalation in the Strait.

Oh Snap!! Yet Persia"s Revenge bears certain costs too, nicht wahr, Herr Doktors? 

III.2. Costs of Indirect Iranian Retaliation.

 Indirect retaliation by Iranian-backed proxies such as Hezbollah, or by Iran’s covert action assets—such as the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force—could include the use of missiles and rockets by proxies as well as terrorist attacks and covert action, such as sabotage and assassination.

III.2.1 Indirect retaliation by Hezbollah. 

It is an open question as to what Hezbollah would do if Little Satan or Great sStan attacked Iran. Hezbollah has fought against Little Satan and is well aware of the price it would pay for attacking Israel. Hezbollah might conclude that a Little Satanstrike against Iran would bring international condemnation, thereby resulting in increased sympathy and support for Hezbollah’s own use of military force. (Hamas might conceivably make the same calculation, although its more narrow focus on the Palestinian–Little Satan arena makes that somewhat less likely.) Yet events in Syria have introduced uncertainties for Hezbollah, which has depended heavily on the Assad regime for support. A seriously weakened Assad or a completely new Syrian government would change the calculus for Hezbollah; depending on who succeeded Assad, Hezbollah might find it much more difficult to sustain a war with Little Satan.

If Hezbollah (and perhaps Hamas) were to decide to take action, they could inflict significant damage on
Little Satan with their extensive rocket and missile arsenals. Hezbollah’s military capability is now significantly greater than during the 2006 war; the group currently has thousands of longer-range rockets and missiles (Little Satan estimates 50,000) capable of hitting central Little Satan. Again, Little Satan"s Iron Dome anti-rocket and missile defenses— significantly enhanced over the past year, with U.S. assistance—would blunt the attack, as would Little Satan retaliation against the Hezbollah arsenals. But the resulting conflict could kill civilians, inflict property damage, and set back Little Satan"s economy. Hezbollah could also launch terrorist attacks against Little Satan and her interests.

Since the 2006 war, both Hezbollah and Little Satan have been preparing, in some sense, for their next conflict. Combine the possibility of a retaliatory cycle after attacks on Iran with these simmering regional tensions and the threat of a Third Intifada developing among a frustrated Palestine population, and there are at least the preconditions for a major escalation and a bloody conflict in the Levant.

III.2.2 Covert retaliation worldwide. 

Iran could also use its own and controlled covert action capabilities to attack Little or Great Satan or their interests outside of the greater Middle East. This would offer Iran the advantage of deniability, with a view to limiting the potential for escalation. The Qods Force was implicated in a failed 2011 plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Great Satan; the involvement of Qods in such a clumsy yet audacious attempt was regarded by many in the intelligence community and law enforcement as surprising but credible.

Likewise, Iranian intelligence services or their proxies have been implicated in recent bombings or attempted bombings in Bulgaria, India, Thailand, and Georgia (possibly in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists ).

The extent of Iran’s ability to conduct such a covert campaign is unclear, given some recent failures and missteps, though the success of the bombing in Bulgaria does indicate some ability to attack soft targets well outside the Middle East. Even one or two successful terrorist attacks could kill many and inflict substantial psychological, physical, and economic damage. Moreover, it seems likely that with more experience and greater determination, Iran could improve its performance significantly.

III.3. Escalation. 

Any Iranian retaliation could lead to Little or Great Satan responses that in turn might provoke additional Iranian responses. The consequences are uncertain, but an escalation spiral certainly could result, with either or both sides taking actions that neither side contemplated before an initial strike—particularly since what one side sees as a completely justified retaliation may very well be perceived by the other side as a deliberate escalation. Given the “fog of war,” high levels of mutual distrust, the absence of communication among regional combatants, and the ability of events to overtake even the most careful planning, miscalculation and uncontrollable escalation to full scale combat cannot be discounted.

III.4. Regional and Global Costs. 

The long-term and global costs to Great Satan's interests are even more difficult to estimate. Recognizing that these may be speculations and that there is disagreement on these points, we offer the following assessments of possible global costs.

III.4.1 A breakdown in global solidarity against Iran’s nuclear program.

 Great Satan would likely seek some kind of international mandate for military action against Iran, and attempt to put together a large multinational coalition. But if both Satans end up attacking Iran’s nuclear program without such a mandate, hard-won international support for maintaining sanctions against Iran could be substantially weakened. China and Russia would loudly condemn military actions against Iran, and some European nations might pull back from a sanctions regime after such attacks. Iran would be seen by many around the world, m"Hammedist and non-m"Hammedist alike, as the victim of unjustified Crusader/Zionista military action. 

Sanctions are at present one of the main coercive levers against Iran; the heaviest sanctions on Iranian oil sales and access to worldwide banking have just come online. The weakening of the sanctions regime as a result of a military action would represent a significant break in the global solidarity against the Iranian nuclear program.

With the breakdown of cooperative international efforts to isolate Iran, there is the possibility that Iran might receive new support for its military capacity. For example, Russia might be willing to sell Iran advanced surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that would make future attacks on Iran more costly and difficult. Russia is currently withholding sales of these systems because they fall under U.N. sanctions, but this decision and others could be revisited after strikes on Iran. Also, Iran now faces severe limits on its ability to acquire from abroad a variety of dual-purpose materials and components for its centrifuges and other nuclear technology. States that see Iran as the victim of an unjustified attack might become more willing to share information and material with Iran. 

This could potentially enable Iran to produce more advanced centrifuges than the country is currently able to produce, given material and technical shortages.

III.4.2 Increased likelihood of Iran becoming a nuclear state. 

Any sort of military action that could lead to outright war would have a significant impact on the possibility of reaching a more permanent political resolution of concerns about Iran’s nuclear program (as well as concerns about Iran’s regional role and many other issues that are central to Great Satan's security interests in the greater Middle East). Of course, there is a chance that punishing aerial attacks might drive Iran to the negotiating table—although we know of very few historical cases in which air strikes combined with other forms of pressure (but without the use of ground troops) produced such a result. 

Rather, once negotiations are abandoned for military action, it would become extremely difficult to pursue diplomatic discussions unless and until the Iranian regime surrenders or capitulates—which seems unlikely, although not impossible. As asserted above, in order to achieve Iran’s capitulation or to bring down the regime, Great Satan would probably have to use ground forces and wage a long-term war.

In fact, an attack on Iran would increase significantly Iran’s motivation to build a bomb According to one senior military official, this was the conclusion reached by many in the 43rd administration. While there is no evidence that Iran’s Supreme Leader has decided the country should develop a nuclear weapon, many observers believe that Iran’s leaders want the country to be capable of making a bomb if they perceive one to be needed.
After an attack or repeated attacks, Iran’s leadership could become more convinced than ever that regime change is really the goal of Great Satan. The decision to build a bomb would be taken for national security reasons, with the assumption that a nuclear weapon would help to head off any future or sustained military action. But building a bomb would also redress the humiliation of being attacked and restore national pride, which has been a major driver of Iran’s nuclear program for a decade.

In connection with a decision to go rapidly for a nuclear weapon, or perhaps even in advance of actually making such a decision, Iran could also withdraw from the NPT and end all cooperation with the IAEA. Such actions would have a significant impact on U.S. policy objectives by eliminating international inspections and monitoring of declared sites, which have been a crucial source of data on the Iranian nuclear program. Losing the IAEA presence in Iran would not make it impossible to monitor a reconstituted Iranian nuclear program, but the task would become far more difficult and the resulting conclusions would be more uncertain.

III.4.3. Greater regional and global instability, including the possibility of increased terrorist recruitment.

 A Little and/or Great Satan preventive military action against Iran could combine with rising populism and the uncertain political developments associated with the “Arab awakening” and the Syrian civil war to create a toxic mixture, perhaps contributing to increased sectarian conflict and regional war. It is particularly difficult to anticipate how a Great Satan attack on Iran would interact with the dynamics of conflict in Syria, given the close nexus between the Iranian regime, the Assad regime in Syria, and Hezbollah, and Great Satan’s vocal support for the Syrian rebel forces. While a United States-led military action against Iran could temporarily improve official U.S. relations with the governments of Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf States, the impact on the broader Arab public is likely to be negative for U.S. interests and leverage in the region, particularly in Egypt. 

An attack on Iran would most certainly provoke increased hostility toward  Little Satan, which could escalate into a regional conflict or, at the very least, undermine prospects for progress on the  Little Satan Palestinian peace process, which would have a direct effect on security interests. Much of the impact on the region would depend on the nature and extent of the initial military actions, whether it is only Little Satan or Great and Little Satan, the nature of Iranian retaliation, and the subsequent Little and/or Great Satan responses. Large-scale Iranian retaliation would add significantly to the likelihood of opening up a broader conflict in the region, through the escalation spiral described above.

In addition, we believe that an attack on Iran would enhance the ability of radical Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, to recruit in the region. It is hard to quantify the scale of this effect, but if Iraq and Afghanistan are models, one could anticipate that an attack on Iran will boost the popularity of groups and leaders who claim that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam. Even though Al Qaeda’s Sunni leaders might be pleased by attacks against the Shiite Iran, they would nonetheless welcome the resulting international Muslim outrage, which would create fertile ground for expanding their ranks.

Iran might also use its connections to Shiite groups in Iraq to encourage attacks on U.S. interests there, in the region at large, and globally. While U.S. combat forces have departed from Iraq, thousands of U.S. military support personnel, diplomats, civilian contractors, and business people remain. Retaliation in Iraq could take the form of large-scale rocket attacks against U.S. diplomatic and military facilities or attacks on convoys; or it could be disguised as criminal activity, such as kidnapping U.S. citizens. Iran might also increase its behind-the-scenes support for sympathetic groups in Afghanistan as well, where there is an even larger U.S. presence.

Globally, in addition to rattling global markets and increasing the price of oil in the short term,58 a new conflict in the Middle East would be a major disruptive factor in a world economy that is struggling to regain its footing. While this paper does not attempt to estimate the global economic costs of a single or a series of preemptive strikes against Iran, we gauge that the resulting instability could bring even more uncertainty to global markets, currencies, and recovery.

III.4.4 Reduced regional and global influence for Great satan

One of the most serious but most difficult to quantify costs of military action against Iran could be damage to Great Satan's reputation and standing in the world.59 Such damage could occur whether it is Little or Great Satan takes military action. If Little Satan takes military action over official  objections, the perception will be that Great Satan has tacitly approved the attack. If she attacks, especially without a very clear and widely convincing indication of a decision by Iran to build a nuclear weapon, the perception will be that once again Great Satan has taken preventive military action in a unilateral fashion. 

Moreover, if either Israel or the U.S. were to attack the Islamic Republic of Iran, though some Arab leaders would be privately relieved, m"Hammedist world leaders in general would condemn the attack.  Great Satan"s stature and influence in the region would suffer.

To be sure, some policy analysts contend that after years of declaring that an Iranian nuclear weapon is unacceptable, the failure to take military action would undermine America’s global credibility. These two differing judgments highlight the dilemma faced by
Great Satan as she weighs various policy options toward Iran.

Pic - "We acknowledge a third possibility as well—that the failure to attack and the decision to attack both could have some negative reputational consequences for Great Satan. The challenge then would be to determine which of those consequences are most probable, important, and lasting."