With the increasingly belligerent talk out of Iran, I’ve been thinking more and more about a possible conflict with them. So much, I think I better break my thoughts into two parts.
Iran, it seems, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons — and sees the possibility of a fight with the US as an acceptable admission price for joining the nuclear club. They are playing the “cheat and retreat” game that Saddam ran for a dozen years with the UN, while talking out of several sides of their mouth: they have no interest in nuclear WEAPONS, only nuclear POWER, but they have every RIGHT to develop them and we had just better TRUST them that they won’t develop them or they will unleash the fires of hell. It’s like the former Iraqi Information Minister hopped on a plane with Joe Isuzu, flew to Massachusetts, got married, and through the miracle of modern medicine had a child, who promptly became the spokesmen for the Islamic Republic.
The US has repeatedly and publicly stated that Will Not Happen. We’ve applied pressure in other ways, mostly quietly, but like the discovery of the planet Neptune, we can estimate where the US is acting by the reactions of others. (metaphor shamelessly stolen from last Friday’s episode of “Numb3rs.”)
Iran’s strategy for preventing the confrontation seems best summed up by what I once heard described as “the polecat principle: “we’re more trouble than we’re worth.” Their recent announcements of various and sundry fantastic superweapons are all aimed at giving the US pause (or, at least, the anti-war and anti-Bush elements, who tend to be ignorant about military matters, and more likely to take their claims at face value) in attacking. Hence the announcement that Iran now possesses The Ultra Mega Torpedo Of Death, which can “fly” through water at several hundred miles and sink any ship with one hit; the Mighty Morphin’ Stealth Flying Boat, which can sneak up on anyone and blow them to tiny pieces; and the Islamic ICBM, the missile which can carry one of their non-existent nuclear warheads thousands of miles and send a couple million heretics to face Allah’s judgment.
Perhaps a good metaphor for Iran might be the pufferfish; when they feel threatened, they blow themselves up to look bigger and scarier, but if’s all a huge bluff and a couple sharp pokes will shred their bluff. If they lose, though, they can at least console themselves in the hopes that their innate toxins will bring about a measure of revenge on their enemy.
Anyway, that’s just the pre-game show. That’s just the trash talk that goes on before the actual conflict begins. In the next part, I’ll look at how such a conflict might unfold.