I don’t think that there is any mystery why Iran would thump its chest these days:
Iran said Sunday that it had test-fired what it described as a sonar-evading underwater missile just two days after it announced that it had fired a new missile that could carry multiple warheads and evade radar systems.
The new missile is among the world’s fastest and can outpace an enemy warship, Gen. Ali Fadavi of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards told state television.
General Fadavi said only one other country, Russia, had a missile that moved underwater as fast as the Iranian one, which he said had a speed of about 225 miles per hour. State television showed what it described as the missile being fired.
“The missile carries a very powerful warhead that enables it to operate against groups of warships and big submarines,” he said.
In other words – keep your distance, yanks, ’cause we sting. The sunburn antiship missile is a pretty vicious piece of work and I have no doubt that Russia and Iran have shared that and more, and rumors about super-torpedoes have floated around for a while now, but stuff like this sounds like gilding the lily:
He contended that the boats that would launch the missile were able to evade detection systems but that “even if an enemy’s warship sonar can detect the missile, no warship can escape from this missile because of its high speed.”
They have cloaking devices? Persian stealth? The only way that sort of thing might work is if they put the missiles inside an oil tanker, or fired them from shore. I would venture a guess that there is not much floating in or on the Persian Gulf that we cannot detect, meaning that as soon as hostilities break out whatever subs or ships Iran might field against us will swiftly become expensive artificial reefs. We built our military around meeting a similarly-equipped enemy on the open field of battle (Russian tanks on the plains of Germany and Russian fleets in the open ocean) and after the last few years I am sure that our army would absolutely love for Iran to give us that sort of fight.
Of course Iran won’t do that, because they don’t have to. If we bomb Iran the Shiite population of Iraq will become one big, Persian-equipped guerilla movement. We might as well pull out now and save the blood on the sand that it would cost us to pull out after bombing Iran. But why bomb at all if Iran just rebuilds underground? We would need boots on Iranian soil in order to seriosuly wanted to enforce our will there, an option also known as invading. Not going to happen.
Here comes the inevitably-frustrating paragraph where I offer solutions. Maybe I can think of a thing or two but what is the point of having a wonkish policy discussion when the people in charge a) don’t care about policy, and b) couldn’t toast bread without assistance. Greg Djerejian has latched onto the idea that Runsfeld must go, and there’s merit to that, but I don’t think that he goes far enough. A too-large number of DC decisionmakers still inhabit a fantasy world where the idea of America spreading its freedom seed through a Trotskyite wave of military interventions still has credibility.
Given the resources that we have to work with I think that a broad multinational consensus has a chance of persuading Iran. Russia and China won’t be easy to keep in line but if a nuclear-armed Iran is important enough an issue to go to war over then we can spend the time and capital managing allies. Maybe it’s starry-eyed idealism to even think that might work, and maybe it is insane to think that the executive branch could even handle that sort of task, but the other options range from unavailable to mind-numbingly stupid. We might as well figure out how to play the pair of jacks in our hand as wish for three aces and in wishing begin to convince ourselves that’s what we have.