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No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack – 2 – “Asymmetrical Warfare”

January 4, 2020

Saudi oil field destroyed by Yemeni drone attack in September, 2019

Part One

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My first impression was that the assassination was yet another U.S. (and/or Israeli) provocation made to incite an Iranian response that would provide the pretext for a major U.S.-Israeli-Saudi bombing campaign of Iran and that Iran would not take the bait and respond militarily and I have written along those lines already publicly.

Unfortunately, more and more this does not appear to be the case.

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What a dangerous mess…as the United States and Iran head towards war. We in the United States have a responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent our government from – once again – lurking towards a regional Middle East war. In an effort to redirect the nation’s attention from his impeachment, Donald Trump has, in ok-ing the assassination of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani, dangerously ratcheted up the stakes for war.

Should it break out, it will be an “asymmetrical” conflict. The term “asymmetrical warfare” will be thrown around by the media to describe the growing likelihood of a Middle East war between the United States and Iran in the near future.

1.

What is “asymmetrical warfare?

Asymmetrical warfare is war between two (or more) nations in which one of the two is richer, more powerful economically and militarily, but that the weaker party finds the ways and means to fight back and in many cases, win. On the surface it appears that the materially weaker party (national liberation movement, Third World country) doesn’t stand a chance against the more militarily, economically and powerful core country (like the U.S., U.K., France). But the materially weaker party develops tactics that give it advantages over its much stronger adversary. Key, is the support the underdog has among the broader population, its base.

Some examples…

– The American Revolution 1776-1782. The British army was by far superior to the American revolutionary forces in numbers, military prowess and military technology of the times. The rebels resorted to what today we would refer to as guerrilla warfare much of the time, avoiding for the most part, major battles, engaging in hit-and-run actions and tiring out the British forces making London spend far more money and spend far more time dealing with the outbreak than they wanted. Eventually there was a major battle, Britain lost and out of frustration ended the war and agreed to grant independence to the thirteen states

– In more recent times, essentially all of the Third World national liberation wars opposing colonial and imperialist domination were asymmetrical. Two examples suffice: the Algerian war of independence against France and the Vietnamese war of independence against the United States.

In both cases, a modern core state of the global economy with a strong world class military using the most sophisticated and deadly weapons at the time were defeated by national liberation movements in the global periphery who engaged in much the same tactics (somewhat modified) as the American revolutionaries 200 years before. Few decisive battles, many guerrilla skirmishes however those major battles that did take place (the February 1968 Tet offensive in the case of Vietnam shook the very foundation of the dominant power’s political system and forced a withdrawal.

It needs to be pointed out and emphasized that France in Algeria  was defeated militarily and politically and the United States in Vietnam likewise.

But independence came at a heavy price.

In both cases, the number of dead, wounded traumatized on the side of anti-colonial victors was horrific – numbers that we’ll never know. The aggressors, France and the United States, downplay the casualties among their opponents, the victors claim vastly greater numbers. The Algerians repeatedly claim that in a country that then had a population of 8 million that there were more than a million casualties. Although in the United States, we hear frequently of the 58,220 who died (not counting those who committed suicide afterwards), the number of Vietnamese victims by some accounts was somewhere between three-to-four million.

Still, the notion that powerful countries like France, the United States (or the USSR in Afghanistan) were “invincible” was shattered.

In the Middle East today, what is shaping up between the United States and Iran is another example of what more and more looks to be asymmetrical warfare. But there are other, related examples that I want to point out before commenting on the military confrontation between the United States and Iran that looks more and more likely.

The 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon is one example – and in many ways a classic example of asymmetrical warfare as is the current Yemeni resistance against the Saudi-Emirate aggression against Yemen.

In 2006 in Lebanon, Israel suffered what was to date, its biggest military defeat. After about a month of fighting it was forced to withdraw having suffered a great loss of both men and material. The Israeli goal in that war was the complete defeat of Hezbollah – and the likely ethnic cleansing of Lebanese Shi’ites from the south of Lebanon. In traditional military terms, there was no comparison: Israel was (and remains) the dominant player. However Hezbollah had learned how to fight Israel, most especially on Lebanese soil.

There was also the fact that Hezbollah had developed its own missile and communication technology and was able to hurt the Israelis by conducting missile attacks into northern Israel. At the time several hundred thousand Israelis were temporarily displaced by these attacks. Hezbollah might not have had the missile technology available to the Israelis but its’ was good enough to literally split an Israeli naval vessel off of coast of southern Lebanon, which resulted in the withdrawal of the Israeli naval fleet from that area.

Since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its main ally, the United Arab Emirates (largely with U.S. arms and based on U.S. satellite intelligence) launched what amounts to a genocidal war against Yemeni Houthis and their national allies. it looked like a military cake walk for Riyadh. But it has turned into nothing like that, despite horrific civilian casualties, a near total naval blockade preventing shipments of food and medical supplies.

But on September 14, 2019, the Houthis launched a drone attack against the Saudi oil fields temporarily putting out of commission half of Saudi oil production overnight and revealing, once again, how deft the Yemeni forces remained and how much they, in every way the weaker partner, could hurt Saudi interests. With the hint of more to come, the Saudis began to put out peace feelers that might lead to a political solution to this conflict.

2. Which leads us to the current balance of power between the United States and Iran in what is shaping up more and more to be a likely confrontation between the two.

This is not the place to review the history of U.S.-Iranian relations since the victory of the Islamic Revolution over the corrupt and repressive government of the Shah of Iran other than to note that since then one of the main goals of U.S. Middle East policy has been to overthrow that the Iranian government. That policy continues. In spite of that, and due largely to the hubris and stupidity of U.S. Middle East policy, Iranian influence has grown while U.S. prestige in the region has, in a word, plummeted.

The United States and Iran have played a kind of military cat and mouse game, but keep in mind that the cat is no longer so dominant and the “mouse” has grown far stronger. But there has been a military tit for tat within certain limits. The assassination of Qassim Suleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis a few days ago (January 2, 2019), changes the regional chemistry and heightens the likelihood for an all out military confrontation.

My first impression was that the assassination was yet another U.S. (and/or Israeli) provocation made to incite an Iranian response that would provide the pretext for a major U.S.-Israeli-Saudi bombing campaign of Iran and that Iran would not take the bait and respond militarily and I have written along those lines already publicly.

Unfortunately, more and more this does not appear to be the case. Far more dangerous waters lay ahead

This latest targeted assassination – otherwise known as cold blooded murder – of someone revered in Iran – and frankly far beyond – has changed the situation. As some commentators have rightly noted, killing Qassim Suleimani was, on the part of the United States, an act of war and Iran will treat it as such. The call from the Iranian leadership of the complete withdrawal of U.S. military, bases and all, from the Middle East should not be taken lightly. My experience with the Iranian leadership is that they mean what they say and that this time, they have had enough.

Getting back to the theme of asymmetrical warfare – and this situation is exactly that – no doubt from a technological-military point of view, the United States has the upper hand, whether it has to do with firepower, communication and satellite technology, its many known and secret bases in the region, its unending attempts – Gene Sharp like tactics – to cause domestic chaos in Iran (as it did in the most recent round of protests in that country.)

Attacking Iran will be no military cake walk. And as Qassim Suleimani once noted to Washington:

“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready … If you begin the war, we will end the war,” Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying. “You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”

Finally, keep in mind, that rather than “reacting” to the Suleimani assassination that Iran will choose the time and place for its response and will do so with some care and concern. My sense is that it is Iran – and not Washington – that will define the terms of conflict.

Iran’s military might is no match for Washington’s, but then it doesn’t have to be.

– It’s missile technology might not be on par with Washington’s but it was good enough to bring down a highly sophisticated U.S. drone.

– U.S. bases and naval presence will undoubtedly become targets in any war

– It doesn’t take that much, frankly, for Iran to entirely close down the Hormuz Straits where 1/3 of the world’s natural gas and 1/4 of the world’s petroleum passes through, the very threat of which could trigger a global recession.

– Finally it would naive not to understand that should war break out on a regional scale that both Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates would become targets as well.

So while from a purely logistical and technical point of view the United States has the upper hand, in fact, Iran has some military levers to pull and it is only a fool or an arrogant U.S. administration that doesn’t understand that Iran has every intention of using them.

Attacking Iran will be no military cake walk. And as Qassim Suleimani once noted to Washington:

“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready … If you begin the war, we will end the war,” Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying. “You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”

Finally, keep in mind, that rather than “reacting” to the Suleimani assassination that Iran will choose the time and place for its response and will do so with some care and concern. My sense is that it is Iran – and not Washington – that will define the terms of conflict.

 

 

 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2020 1:18 pm

    What is killing me is, this was alleged preemptive strike because there was a danger to U.S. Embassy, etc.. However, just weeks before a Saudi pilot shot up a U.S. Naval Base on U.S. soil. Trump blew it off and swept under rug. No attack on Saudi Barbaria.

    • January 4, 2020 1:32 pm

      well to note all this…

      Was thinking about what has been the turning point both the Iranians and the U.S… For the Iranians the assassination of Suleimani the importance of which Trump underestimated. My hunch is that for Washington it was the attack on the embassy – a symbol of U.S. power. This could not be written off, at least that is what Trump’s neo-con advisers argued (I do believe) and Trump accepted the logic. Granted, just my speculation…

      As for not making a big deal about the Saudi airman’s attack at the U.S. naval base… not complicated, Washington simply defending a strategic ally, no matter what… at least that is how I understand it. Some administration that swept Saudi 9-11 killers under the rug and poo-pooed the Khaghossi ghastly murder

      • January 4, 2020 2:06 pm

        The attack on embassy came after strike on PMU fighters prior to. Trump attacked Iraq and Syria targeting PMU fighters who are part of Iraqi military. Not only were PMU forces killed but also civilians and other Iraqi military factions. Soleimani was attending funeral and murdered upon arrival. He has no authorization or right to attack Iraqi military who are fighting U.S. ISIS. That’s the key to all of this, USA protecting their terrorist proxies.

  2. William Conklin permalink
    January 4, 2020 4:27 pm

    This reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: Two guys are walking in the woods and the first guy says to the second guy: “Can you outrun a bear?” The second guy says “No, but I can outrun you!” Now let’s take a look at who is running the United States. Our president is an orange clown, put in place by a bunch of racist jerks called Republicans. They are supported by the filthy rich, the people who think women who have abortions should be killed by the state, and the Evangelicals who believe that when Israel goes down in flames, the Evangelicals will go to Heaven and the Jews will be sent to Diablo’s cave. There is a good chance the guys running Iran can run faster than the Imbeciles with Nukes running the United States.

  3. January 4, 2020 4:48 pm

    Rob, yes Trump trying to “busy giddy minds with foreign wars,” but might he in his idiotic hubris be achieving the opposite when so many in this country (do I overestimate?) are tired of foreign wars and especially of “the whole dammed Middle East”? He will play both cards. And what make you of the generals who are well aware of the history of A-symmetric warfare? John

    • January 4, 2020 7:51 pm

      I don’t know John but…

      he’s polarized the country but has enough bipartisan support to continue on his path to war… The fact that Americans ARE tired of foreign wars and that support for a war against Iran is thin … is hopeful…

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  1. No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack. | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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