Why That Article About Iran Is So Disturbing
I discussed this story with my National Security Law professor, an ex-Air Force JAG who knows a lot of top military brass, and he basically confirmed it. He added that, while the military develops broad contingency plans for combat games and training, this kind of detailed planning is unusual. It does not bode well. Either Bush is actually planning to invade Iran, or he wants everybody to think he is. Either way is stupid.
My professor explained that the New Yorker article is basically correct in saying that a lot of the top military brass are urging against these plans, especially against the use of nuclear weapons as a contingency plan....and are basically being ignored by the civilian leadership. The brass are worried that, if we invade or bomb Iran, it will be a tactical nightmare. We are already stretched dangerously thin because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran hasn't exactly bunched all their military and nuclear targets together for us to easily bomb. There are so many diffuse sites that need to be taken out that it will take a massive bombing and invasion.....and we probably don't have the resources to pull one off.
In addition to being a military nightmare, an attack will be a diplomatic catastrophe. It will alienate the international community and further convince the Muslim world that we are against them as a civilization, making the War on Terror unwinnable. (It has always depended on convincing the Muslim world to turn against its most radical elements, not on beating it into submission.)
Even if we're just rattling our saber for show, it's counterproductive. The Administration has been hyping "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy." To now suddenly do these war plans and exercises will only convince Iran that we don't really mean it...and lead them to pursue nukes with even greater speed.
The military leaders recognize all this. They are telling the Administration. And, apparently, the Administration isn't listening. With each bone-headed, single-minded decision, the Administration is getting more and more dangerous.
[Update:] ThinkProgress has a compilation of experts from across the political spectrum, including even the Heritage Foundation (!), saying that there are no good military options in Iran.