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Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Dogs Of War?

This apparently is what Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has done following a series of mysterious and extremely damaging explosions at Iran’s most sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile sites.

According to the Telegraph, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been placed on a war footing, fighter planes are practicing intercept missions, and strategic materials are being dispersed to secure sites around the country.  The Supreme Leader apparently believes that the various mishaps taking place in his country are an orchestrated Israeli or American led campaign intended to soften Iran up for the final strike.

To the degree that the US is involved in these events, the ayatollah is almost surely barking up the wrong tree.  The Obama administration is pursuing a policy of sanctions, diplomatic pressure and perhaps more dramatic actions in the hope of avoiding rather than provoking a conflict with the Islamic Republic. This President genuinely does not want a war in Iran, but he also does not want Iran to get a bomb and he thinks our present policy mix is his best hope of avoiding that choice.  The Israelis of course are a wild card, but it seems unlikely that anyone planning massive military strikes against Iran would begin by smaller, ground based attacks calculated to set the country on edge and to put its defenders on high alert.

It is also possible that the Supreme Guide, rattled by evidence that his security establishment is riddled with double agents and secret enemies, feels that to do nothing following humiliatingly successful attacks is not possible. He must do something, and being unable or unwilling to attack Israel directly or through proxies, and fearing the response of the US to armed provocations, he is simply trying to look busy, effective and prepared.

But the Supreme Leader is supremely right about one thing: Iran’s current relations with the US look much more like war than like peace.  A miscalculation by either side could set off a conflict that both may think is inevitable, but that neither wants right now.

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  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I think almost everything the Mullacracy does is for internal consumption. They are much more worried about their own people stringing them up from the lamp poles, than some foreign invasion or attack. In fact I think they would welcome an overt attack as an opportunity to get public opinion back on their side.
    I am pretty sure all these cloak and dagger attacks are by the Israelis, and are just to buy time. I doubt the Israelis want to make an air attack on Iran, it is too far away, they would have to over fly Syria and Iraq, and they have no heavy long range bombers. Not to mention the missiles that would be fired back at them, from both Iran and Lebanon, in response.

  • Luke Lea

    “To the degree that the US is involved in these events, the ayatollah is almost surely barking up the wrong tree. ”


  • Toni

    Is it just barely possible that this is an internal matter — that some impatient Iranians are trying to accelerate the Iran v. West confrontation?

    I have no idea. But sometimes the right explanation turns out to be what you least expect.

  • Haim

    In fact, when you’re planning an attack, you’d want to create first a threat level so credible that your enemy will go to high alert, which means lighting up all his communications networks, radar installations, and also exposing his own war plans by moving troops to battle stations. If your own SigInt is on a much higher level (and Iran’s enemies enjoy this leverage), you can gather the intel you need for successful electronic warfare, then de-escalate. Keep this up, and after some time the enemy will get tired and conclude that you’re bluffing. That’s when you strike. If the first strike succeeds in making the enemy deaf and blind, than the actual bombing runs can be commenced at leisure.

  • Mike Anderson

    Looks like some kind of Phoney War going on. Somebody has decided to give the Iranians a dose of their own terroristic medicine, and they don’t seem to like it.

  • Michael C.

    #4: Tom Clancy called; he wants his next novel back. 😀

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