Another wonderful 'strategy paper' from the friendly folks who brought you Iraq, Libya, and Syria — this time via the Brookings Institute.
With the streets of Iran heating up in recent days and the Trump Administration's threats hanging over the nation, a look back at an analysis paper by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute gives us a strong sense of what is driving Washington and the Deep State's agenda in the former Persian Empire.
The paper, entitled "Which Path to Persia," looks at the options available to the United States as it deals with Iran and its supposed threat to Middle East stability, peace and tranquility. The paper looks at two broad types of options; the persuasion approach, the engagement approach and the military approach.
In this posting, I will take a look at what the authors of the study recommend for the military options given that they believe that Iran will be less than willing to co-operate with either the persuasion or engagement options. Obviously, as was the case in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a military invasion is the recommended course of action. Let's look at the authors' recommendations for an invasion.
The authors suggest that the only way to eliminate all of the problems that Washington has with the current Iranian regime (i.e. support for terrorism, nuclearization, creating instability across the region) is to use the military invasion option. The goal of invasion would be to remove the current government, curse the military and put an end to its nuclear program.
While all of those goals are interesting, as the lessons of both Afghanistan and Iraq have taught Washington, the invasion option has to ensure that a stable and pro-American government assumes power once the U.S. military forces leave the nation. That said, there are some significant differences:
1.) Iran is nearly 4 times the size of Iraq - 1.648 million square kilometers compared to 437.1 thousand square miles
2.) Iran has population that is more than twice the size of Iraq - 80.28 million people compared to 37.2 million people
3.) Iran's military is far more advanced and well equipped than Iraq's was at the time of the invasion in 2003. There were roughly 400,000 to 500,000 members of Iraq's armed forces in 2003 compared to 934,000 in Iran's armed forces.
The authors note that the most compelling reason to invade Iran sooner rather than later is that Iran's agenda could become much more difficult to deter once it has the capability to develop a nuclear weapon. As well, the nation's wealth of both oil and natural gas mean that the United States and any partner invasion forces would have to ensure that the country does not slide into post-invasion chaos.
If the invasion option was the option of choice, it would take at least several months to move sufficient forces into the theatre and from one to six months to conduct the invasion. Given Iran's larger geographic area, larger population and better military preparedness, the United States can pretty much assure itself that the invasion of Iran would be a far larger project than the Iraq invasion of 2003. As well, the American bases throughout the Persian Gulf region in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar that were key during the Iraq operations may well not be available unless Iran were to provoke hostilities.
To mount an invasion, the authors suggest that an initial invasion force of roughly the same size as the force used to invade Iraq in 2003; four U.S. divisions plus a British division. The Americans added a fifth division later in the invasion for a total of around 200,000 military personnel. An invading force would face two issues:
1.) Insurgent fighters
2.) Mountainous terrain
The initial invasion would require a significant contingent of Marines, requiring the use of two to four regimental combat teams or between 15,000 and 30,000 Marines to seize a beachhead and major port along the Iranian coastline to defeat Iran's defensive positions. The challenges of terrain would require large numbers of air mobile forces including the brigades of the 101st Air Assault Division, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
For an attack on Tehran (population 8.8 million and 15 million in the metropolitan area compared to 8.765 million in Baghdad), one to three heavy armored divisions would be required. The biggest difference from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 would be the need for a large naval commitment, particularly to prevent the Iranians from closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key bottleneck to the flow of oil from the Middle East. By way of comparison, Iraq has a coastline of 36 miles on the Persian Gulf compared to Iran's 1520 miles as shown on this map:
As the United States discovered during the War on Terror, once the invasion phase was over, the hard work begins. The authors note the following:
"As in both Iraq and Afghanistan, post-invasion reconstruction would be the longest (and possibly the bloodiest) part of the whole endeavor. if it were handled very well, applying all of the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, it might require only a few years of major military and financial commitments, followed by a significant diminution of U.S. presence and aid thereafter.
If the reconstruction were to go badly, either because of American mistakes or forces beyond U.S. control, it could take many more years to produce an acceptable end state."
What would it take to provoke an invasion and would the United States require provocation to justify an invasion of Iran? If the Iranians provoke an attack, it will make it far easier for the Americans to justify invading to the international and domestic communities.
Given the history between the United States and Iran, it is seen to be unlikely that Iran would be responsible for or take credit for an Iranian version of the 9/11 attack. Most European, Asian and Middle Eastern nations and their people are against any American-led military invasion of Iran, save two important American allies in the region; Saudi Arabia and Israel.
While this invasion scenario is mere conjecture, it is interesting to see that one of Washington's largest and most influential think tanks, the Brookings Institution, has provided the Trump Administration with a roadmap to a military solution to the "Iranian problem" — a solution that must have the military-industrial-intelligence community rubbing their collective hands with glee.
It is also interesting to note that the report that was used as the source material for this posting was generated in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. In case you've forgotten, Haim Saban, the founding funder of the Saban Center back in 2002, was also a massive donor to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election as shown here:
With his total donations of $13.78 million during the 2016 cycle (all to the liberal side of the political spectrum), he and his wife came in 14th place overall as shown here:
Keeping in mind that the United States is largely responsible for the current situation in Iran given its involvement in removing the democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh back in 1953 and the installation of his replacement, the west-leaning Mohammad Reza Shah who ended up being turfed out of Iran by his own countrymen, one might almost be able to draw a straight line between Washington and the current unrest in Iran and the nation's strong anti-American stance.
In another posting, I will further examine this interesting report from the Brookings Institution which provides us with a glimpse into what may lie ahead for Iran.
Source: Viable Opposition