by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research:
In this article, we examine America’s war strategies, including its ability to launch an all out theater war against the Islamic Republic on Iran.
A follow-up article will focus on the History of US War Plans against Iran as well as the complexities underlying the Structure of Military Alliances.
Under present conditions, an Iraq style all out Blitzkrieg involving the simultaneous deployment of ground, air and naval forces is an impossibility.
For several reasons. US hegemony in the Middle East has been weakened largely as a result of the evolving structure of military alliances.
The US does not have the ability to carry out such a project.
There are two main factors which determine America’s military agenda in relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
1. Iran’s Military
There is the issue of Iran’s military capabilities (ground forces, navy, air force, missile defense), namely its ability to effectively resist and respond to an all out conventional war involving the deployment of US and Allied forces. Within the realm of conventional warfare, Iran has sizeable military capabilities. Iran is to acquire Russia’s S400 state of the art air defense system.
Iran is ranked as “a major military power” in the Middle East, with an estimated 534,000 active personnel in the army, navy, air force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It has advanced ballistic missile capabilities as well as a national defense industry. In the case of a US air attack, Iran would target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf.
2. Evolving Structure of Military Alliances
The second consideration has to do with the evolving structure of military alliances (2003-2019) which is largely to the detriment of the United States.
Several of America’s staunchest allies are sleeping with the enemy.
Countries which have borders with Iran including Turkey and Pakistan have military cooperation agreements with Iran. While this in itself excludes the possibility of a ground war, it also affects the planning of US and allied naval and air operations.
Until recently both Turkey (NATO heavyweight) and Pakistan were among America’s faithful allies, hosting US military bases.
From a broader military standpoint, Turkey is actively cooperating with both Iran and Russia. Moreover, Ankara will be acquiring in 2020 Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defense system while de facto opting out from the integrated US-NATO-Israel air defense system.
Needless to say the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is in crisis. Turkey’s exit from NATO is almost de facto. America can no longer rely on its staunchest allies. Moreover, US and Turkish supported militia are fighting one another in Syria.
Iraq has also indicated that it will not cooperate with the US in the case of a ground war against Iran.
Under present conditions, none of Iran’s neigbouring states including Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia would allow US-Allied ground forces to transit through their territory.
In recent developments, Azerbaijan which in the wake of the Cold War became a US ally as well as a member of NATO’s partnership for peace has changed sides. The earlier US-Azeri military cooperation agreements are virtually defunct including the post-Soviet GUAM military alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova).
Bilateral military and intelligence agreements between Iran and Azerbaijan were signed in December 2018. In turn, Iran collaborates extensively with Turkmenistan. With regard to Afghanistan, the internal situation with the Taliban controlling a large part of Afghan territory, would not favor a large scale deployment of US and allied ground forces on the Iran-Afghan border.
Visibly, the policy of strategic encirclement against Iran formulated in the wake of the Iraq war (2003) is no longer functional. Iran has friendly relations with neighbouring countries, which previously were within the US sphere of influence.
Under these conditions, a major conventional theater war by the US involving the deployment of ground forces would be suicide.
This does not mean, however, that war will not take place. In some regards, with the advances in military technologies, an Iraq-style war is obsolete.
We are nonetheless at a dangerous crossroads. Other diabolical forms of military intervention directed against Iran are currently on the drawing board of the Pentagon. These include:
- various forms of “limited warfare”, ie. targeted missile attacks,
- US and Allied support of terrorist paramilitary groups
- so-called “bloody nose operations” (including the use of tactical nuclear weapons),
- acts of political destabilization and color revolutions
- false flag attacks and military threats,
- sabotage, confiscation of financial assets, extensive economic sanctions,
- electromagnetic and climatic warfare, environmental modification techniques (ENMOD)
- chemical and biological warfare.
US Central Command Forward Headquarters Located in Enemy Territory
Another consideration has to do with the crisis within the US Command structure.
USCENTCOM is the theater-level Combatant Command for all operations in the broader Middle East region extending from Afghanistan to North Africa. It is the most important Combat Command of the Unified Command structure. It has led and coordinated several major Middle East war theaters including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). It is also involved in Syria.
In the case of a war with Iran, operations in the Middle East would be coordinated by US Central Command with headquarters in Tampa, Florida in permanent liaison with its forward command headquarters in Qatar.
In late June 2019, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone President Trump “called off the swiftly planned military strikes on Iran” while intimating in his tweet that “any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.”