The NY Times reports that the Pentagon has drawn up plans to beef up its forces in the Persian Gulf region after its withdrawal from Iraq. One of the primary reasons is to counter any supposed Iranian military threat to the region. It is coordinating the plans with other Gulf states who presumably feel under some threat from the Iranian regime:
The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran…
With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense…
Iran, as it has been for more than three decades, remains the most worrisome threat to many of those nations…
Domestically, this military move is motivated in part by the right-wing Republican group which advocates a hawkish, confrontational approach to Iran:
Twelve Senators demanded hearings on the administration’s ending of negotiations with the Iraqis — for now at least — on the continuation of American training and on counterterrorism efforts in Iraq.
“As you know, the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq is likely to be viewed as a strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime,” the senators wrote Wednesday in a letter to the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
Of most concern to me, is that such a force, now or in the future, could and likely would serve as a threat to any Iranian response to an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. If Israel strikes, it will do so with U.S. supplied weapons such as F-16s and bunker buster bombs used to penetrate the protective defenses erected around the plants. In addition, Iran would have to calculate that if it responds directly to such a strike with a massive counter-attack, the U.S. would be able to join in any military response.
Any such U.S. action would create the type of regional conflagration that Israel and U.S. intelligence analysts like former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Anthony Cordesman have warned of. I believe that virtually any Iranian response causing serious Israeli casualties would cause almost unstoppable political momentum for the U.S. to intervene on Israel’s side. Doing so would be a disaster, as it would turn all of the Gulf States who we’re supposedly trying to protect, along with most Arab and Muslim states ever farther against us than they already are.
John Shreffler says
A unilateral IDF strike would necessarily involve the US. The Iranians have made it clear that they would regard it as having been blessed by the US and would retaliate against both countries. That’s what the build-up described above is about.
Col. Sam Gardner, a very credible retired USAF war-gamer who’s been a specialist on Iran strikes since he war-gamed a US strike Iran in 2004 for The Atlantic, had a paper out about this last year, in which he plausibly made the case that Obama would be advised by the US Joint Chiefs not to wait on Iranian response to an Israeli strike but to launch US follow-on strikes regardless.
I can’t see how anything’s changed in a year. The NYT story is more evidence that something’s up.
John Shreffler says
Amended link to Col. Gardner’s report:
Or Israel could stop making threats against Iran, defuse the situation, and American taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay to protect their snarling little pit bull.