You know I use Krylov's immortal fables in my writing. Just recall Russia as a Cat by me, based on Krylov's The Cat and the Cook fable.
A new necessity, however, arose to use Krylov's Aesopian language from his The Pike and the Cat fable. Here is an English interpretation of this fable.
A CONCEITED Pike took it into its head to exercise the functions of a cat. I do not know whether the Evil One had plagued it with envy, or whether, perhaps, it had grown tired of fishy fare; but, at all events, it thought fit to ask the Cat to take it out to the chase, with the intention of catching a few mice in the warehouse. But, my dear friend," Vaska (the cat) says to the Pike, " do you understand that kind of work? Take care, gossip, that you don't incur disgrace. It isn't without reason that they say, 'The work ought to be in the master's power.' " "Why really, gossip, what a tremendous affair it is! Mice, indeed ! Why, I have been in the habit of catching perches! "
" Oh, very well. Come along!"
They went; they lay each in ambush.
The Cat thoroughly enjoyed itself; made a hearty meal; then went to look after its comrade.
Alas! the Pike, almost destitute of life, lay there gasping, its tail nibbled away by the mice.
So the Cat, seeing that its comrade had undertaken a task quite beyond its strength, dragged it back, half dead, to its pond.
In Russian, the fable starts with this intro:
It is difficult to convey artfully for me the meaning of it, but the point is simple--to each his own, if not--expect the trouble, as pike learned the hard way. Cobblers do not bake pies, bakers do not fix boots. Everyone has to do what they are good at and have a professional background in. So, who is this pike then? The pike is Peter Van Buren, as his biography states, a 24 year veteran of US Foreign Service, who decided to become a military strategists, operations planner and geopolitical analyst, among other things, wrapped in one. All this, while engaging, very unprofessionally, in the damage control (under the definition of "realism and restrain") after Iran's strikes on US bases in Iraq. He starts his piece in TAC with an astoundingly ignorant claim:
I am, honestly, really getting tired from people who have no background whatsoever in military, and especially military-technological-analytical field, waxing all knowing when in reality even the title to Van Buren's piece is an exhibit A of a pike going hunting for mice together with the cat.
What Status Quo Van Buren is talking about? There is NO any status quo in the Middle East since the United States, under totally made up excuses, destroyed Iraq and unleashed chaos in the region, not least through being directly responsible for support of primarily Sunni jihadists and terrorists, simultaneously supporting officially strangely delisted from the list of terrorist organizations by Obama Admin MEK, which is still listed as "associated with terrorist activities" by UN. Since then, since 2003, there was NO status quo for Iran, which went from strength to strength even in the face of an all out American economic and terrorist warfare on her. Iran got prepared for war with the US. So Van Buren's statement that Iran knows that "it will get crushed militarily" is a statement of an ignorant person who still cannot come to terms with the fact that everything he knows about the region was wrong and went down the drain with the first salvos of Iranian missiles at US bases in Iraq two days ago.
Van Buren, obviously, has no recognition of the fact that NOT wanting, while avoiding, a war and knowing that one "will be crushed militarily" is false equivalency and, in fact, describes two completely different military issues. E.g. Russia can literally wipe the United States off the map but she doesn't want a war for a number of the "reasons of the state" (Clausewitz), among which survival of the nation is a prime objective. Russia avoids war with the United States for this reason. Iran avoids the war for the same reason. But here is the main point of which Van Buren is not informed and, possibly, is not even ready to face: the United States CAN NOT crush Iran militarily because the United States has NO resources to do so, unless she uses nuclear weapons. Only a person who does not possess a required level knowledge of modern warfare can come up with this utter sheer idiocy which can only be explained by a massive, unbearable butt-hurt:
This was all to be expected. Iranian leaders know their country can be destroyed from the air. As only a regional power, it suffers from a massive technological disadvantage in any direct conflict with the U.S. It is far beyond the days in which Marines were driven from Somalia after “Black Hawk Down” in 1993, or out of Lebanon after the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks by Iranian proxy Hezbollah. Unlike years past, America is willing to take a punch to throw back two. Iran’s political leaders are aware of the limits of asymmetric warfare in this world, especially because America’s lack of dependence on Persian Gulf oil means 2020 is not 1991. Iran, under sanctions, is near totally dependent on what oil it can export. Oil requires massive infrastructure, all of which can be bombed. Iran’s military operates in large part out of fixed sites. Its navy is small and its bases can be destroyed from the air, its harbors mined from above and below the water. Iran’s military strength is ranked 14th globally below Brazil and Italy; the U.S. is ranked first.
I will deconstruct this military strategic delirium by a US Foreign Service "officer" below.
1. America cannot "throw back" any serious punches because:
a) Iran WILL fight if she needed to;
b) The United States lacks military and economic resources to fight REAL war in the region, she also lacks political will;
c) Mr. Van Buren never heard (of course he didn't) of such thing that the best air defense in the world is a destruction of enemy's airbases and assets on them, before actual AD gets into action.
2. Van Buren, obviously, missed a massive significance of Iran's high-precision strikes on US bases--the fact which didn't get lost on military professionals around the globe. Here is one high ranking true American professional citing Defense Intelligence Agency's (get it, not US Foreign Service's) assessment from the last year:
“The use of improved guidance technology and maneuverability during the terminal phase of flight enables these missiles to be used more effectively against smaller targets, including specific military facilities and ships at sea,” the Defense Intelligence Agency said in its most recent assessment of Iran’s military. “These enhancements could reduce the miss-distance of some Iranian missiles to as little as tens of meters, potentially requiring fewer missiles to damage or destroy an intended target and broadening Iran’s options for missile use.”
And here are the ramifications. Let me get into the mode I hate with all soul but am forced to, in order to respond to pikes who are trying to catch mice.
I) Even the air war, including deployment of couple of CBGs, against Iran will require a massive concentration of aircraft on bases around Iran. Those bases will be attacked and heavily damaged incurring massive losses in aircraft and personnel. Before any first wave of US aircraft will be able to get airborne, they will have to deal with the issue of damage control. Iran is NOT Iraq--she reaches every single base in the region at which USAF assets could be deployed, including those aircraft which will carry stand off weapons.
II) US Air Defense is mostly for show. Here is The Twisted Genius with his thoughts:
I was shocked that not one Iranian missile was intercepted. It appears CENTCOM did not even have a capability to intercept missiles at the Ayn al-Assad Air Base. That is military incompetence. A slew of officers should be relieved for that egregious incompetence including the CINC CENTCOM. No wonder the neocon wonder boys in the Pentagon and White House decided not to join the dance in the wee hours after the Iranian strike. Talk about scared straight.
I state it non-stop, NO Western AD system is capable to intercept very high speed ballistic maneuvering warheads. None. Iran's missile (aerospace) force operates a vast number of such missiles. That means only ONE thing:
III) Even if to imagine that the United States decides to commit suicide and begins preparation for the actual massive invasion, it would immediately become obvious that it is IMPOSSIBLE, because:
a) All ports, approaches, bases and infrastructure required for logistics for such an invasion will be bombed into oblivion, including sinking of the transports, before anything will be delivered or resupplied for such a suicidal mission;
b) Invasion and "militarily crushing" Iran will require very roughly up to a year of massive mobilization efforts, including but not limited to, assembly of the force of roughly one million troops, ability to move of roughly 4 to 5 million tons of cargo and, yes, it will require introduction of the draft. All this, while Russia and China, in a view of such preparations will be making sure that Iran has what she needs to inflict losses which the United States didn't experience since WW II.
c) Who is going to pay? Saudis? Qatar? They will be first to be burned to the ground by Iranians. Invasion, or even air campaign against Iran will sink US Dollar and will turn global economy into one huge mess.
The main question thus is this: WHO will be realistically "militarily crushed"? Iran DOESN'T want war but she will fight if she needs to. The United States WANTS war, but she CANNOT fight it for a million reasons, some of which, by far not all, I already listed above. Including the main one that US cannot "crush Iran militarily" for the reasons of sustaining gigantic losses in blood, treasure and losing her reputation as a superpower completely. At this stage it becomes really unbearable to read ignorant (tactically, operationally, strategically and technologically) delirium of grieving US "exceptionalist" who still cannot come to grips with a geopolitical reality of which I am warning for years--US Armed Forces are not designed to fight with competent near-peer without sustaining losses which will destabilize the United States internally to the point of outbreak of Civil Disobedience campaign, if not Civil War 2.0. If Mr. Van Buren thinks that I am exaggerating, he may want to look at latest from Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, which is nothing more than an epitaph to the American views on naval warfare, of which the United States has glorious and rich and proud history:
Naval surface warfare is undergoing a period of rapid technological and operational change. During the nearly 30 years since the end of the Cold War, navies encountered relatively permissive environments, and the threats they did face could largely be defeated by improved defensive systems. A new generation of challenges has emerged, however, including ubiquitous passive sensors, quiet submarines, supersonic and hypersonic anti-ship missiles (ASM), “smart” mines, and the increasing use of paramilitary forces in naval operations.1 As a result, many fleets are revising their concepts and capabilities for traditional surface missions such as air defense, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), maritime and land strike, and mine warfare (MIW).The U.S. Navy has been slow to address the changing threat environment. As a result, today’s surface force lacks the size, resilience, and offensive capacity to effectively support the U.S. National Defense Strategy’s approach of deterring aggression by degrading, delaying, or defeating enemy attacks. The surface fleet is weighted toward large combatants that are too expensive and manpower-intensive to achieve the numbers needed for distributed operations. They also rely on sensors that will likely be unavailable or create unacceptable vulnerabilities during combat against a great power like China. Perhaps of most concern is the fact that the current fleet is fiscally unsustainable due to the escalating costs to crew, operate, and maintain today’s highly integrated manned surface combatants.
This is the story of the American "way of war" which time after time failed to recognize massive geopolitical and technological shifts in warfare and failed time after time to deliver a real victory. It failed to do so in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and thinking that the United States can fight and win in Iran is an absolute madness propagated by people who are like that proverbial pike from Krylov's fable think that they can catch mice on the ground. There is nothing more dangerous than diplomat, political scientist or philosopher waxing militaristic pretending to know anything about how wars are fought--the modern US military history is just that, an incessant march of conceited pikes towards ambushes on the dry land from which, they think, they can catch mice. Peter Van Buren's thoughts are an exhibit A of that.
Per Status Quo, we will comprehend a full scale of what happened two day ago only with the passage of sufficient time with more information becoming available. As The Twisted Genius points out:
Iran is not done. As General Hajizadeh said in today’s briefing, the strike “was the starting point of a great operation.” The Iranians and their regional allies are controlling the tempo of operations to their advantage. They will now fight us on their terms to pursue their immediate goal of removing our forces and influence from Iraq and Syria. As Colonel Lang said, we should get out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and not stop there. We need to leave Israel, Jordan Saudi Arabia and Lebanon as well.
I subscribe to every word in this American real military professional's assessment and, in general, reiterate my point--let real professionals do their job. In the end, I never post on Gastroenterological, Gynecological, Quantum Mechanical and... Diplomatic forums--I simply have no qualifications.
P.S. I am going for Jack on the Rocks and REAL good cigar today.
UPDATE: Somewhat tendentious (purely civilian or old military history) review of Iran's geography, but still is worth watching.
UPDATE: Somewhat tendentious (purely civilian or old military history) review of Iran's geography, but still is worth watching.