Thursday, August 10, 2006

Iranian Overstretch?

In past we have heard remarks to the effect that the US military is overstretched, "broken" and the like. Below is a fair display of where the Army is deployed.

Are we overdoing it?



Now the Iranians have been busy over the last few years too. Fighting via proxy, or with their own personnel in Iraq and Lebanon, and supporting occassional attacks in Saudi Arabi. All the while, a nuclear weapons program is in high gear. Can the Iranians afford this?



A brief comparison of economic strength would seem to be relevant:

The GNP of Iran (World Bank figure; 2004) is about US$155,329 million, or US$2,320 per capita.

US GNP (in 2000 dollars) was $11,433.6 billion (U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Economic Analysis 6/1/2006).

How about Population? US ~ 300,000,000. Iran ~ 67,500,000.

Crude overall measures of strength, to be sure. But why is it a persistent meme that the US is wearing itself out while Iran never even gets a passing glance? Iran is a theocratic despotism with substantial minority (Azeri, Arab) unrest, a young population that knows nothing of the "Revolution", and is a one-trick pony in economics - oil. She has extended herself into proxy (and direct intervention) in Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabi. Her lack of domestic defense capabilities has made her a huge customer of Russia and China, and a partner with North Korea.

How long can Iran keep it up? Why isn't it that we are over-extending them, and they are wobbling? I posit this more as a series of questions - this will take me much more work to illustrate any points I hope to make. Perhaps a rainy weekend in the future...

6 Comments:

Blogger Subsunk said...

Major J,

I believe a significant portion of the US military is not heavily burdened with Iraq at this point. (That doesn't mean they aren't busy, just that they are doing other things which may not be as important as all out war). While you and the Marine Corps are definitely fully engaged in Iraq, the US Navy (and parts of the Air Force) is somewhat less engaged. I believe there are news stories indicating the refining capacity in Iran is lagging, and that, as you say, they are a one trick pony. A one trick pony which has to move their oil through the oceans of the world to get it to market.

Although I am sure that there are pipelines which could carry a significant portion of their revenue to Russia for further sale, I am equally sure that the loss of seaborne transport, through an embargo or other naval measures, would seriously affect their ability to fund military or terrorist ventures over the globe. Additionally, lots of Iranian funds go through US banks and could be leveraged to hurt them pretty badly. If you want to buy oil, the money goes through a market somewhere in the US or where we can touch it and can be tagged. (That causes quite a loss of confidence in the fairness of US banking methods, but once a shooting war starts, who cares -- it's expected).

Naval aviation could do a lot to keep Iran honest. The point is to give them something like survival to think about instead of terrorist acts. Offense is always the best Defense, as I'm sure you are aware.

Your Navy could do a good job keeping Iran too busy to hurt us much without actually requiring you gents to do more than keep your guns pointed at them while you patrol.

Would it lead to regime change? No. But at this point the Two MRC strategy says "hold" while you guys are winning Iraq and Afghanistan, and so "hold" the Navy would do. Not a perfect strategy, but one which could definitiely suffice until things change in Iraq.

And if we truly decided to go to war, we could always draft folks, turn on the WWII charm, and truly eliminate them as a threat forever. Would it be bloody? Yes. World Wars usually are. But it took a World War to get rid of the last person who wanted to exterminate the Jewish race, .... and the Poles, the Slavs, the Czechs, the Russians, etc....

When John Paul Jones told the Captain of HMS Serapis after being asked if he had struck his colors (surrendered) that "I have not yet begun to fight", a gunner down in the bowels of the USS Bon Homme Richard had replied, "Yeah, don't you know there's always somebody who didn't get the word?"

We know how that turned out, and I can assure you, the Navy (and I suspect the Air Force as well) will handle what we can while you gents pacify the natives where you are. Not a perfect solution, but it is gonna leave a mark in Iran.

Subsunk

10:26 AM  
Blogger Major John said...

Subsunk,

My father (former Navy petty in 1945 and a doc in the mid 1950s) always put it as "some sh&tbirds never get the word". I am sure that's what the gunner meant, right? I appreciate you keeping it G-rated here, heh heh.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Subsunk said...

Well Major J,

I would never disagree with your father. He sounds like my father (a SGT in Burma, 1st SGT before he left Burma, at Columbia for ROTC before the war ended, banker for the rest of his life).

Their generation certainly had a clear picture of what was important in Life, didn't they?

Subsunk

2:59 PM  
Blogger haji-o-matic said...

JUST REMEBER...wherever we've been (Korea,Japan,Europe,Cuba,Kosovo etc)...we're STILL THERE ...


Except maybe Viet Nam.....

12:25 AM  
Blogger Inner Prop said...

The one trick pony may lose even that trick if we start squeezing oil from Rocky Mountain Shale:

http://www.Stansberry & Associates - Matt Badiali's Oil Report.mht

5:45 PM  
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