When American "diplomats" begin to wax all strategic and come up with bizarre statements like Doug Bandow's last one in his piece in TAC re: Iran.
The U.S. would win any full-scale conflict, but Tehran has demonstrated its ability to wage asymmetric warfare, including rocket attacks on American bases, proxy assaults on personnel stationed in Iraq and Syria, drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and missile and small ship threats against U.S. vessels. The Islamic Republic also could increase aid to the Taliban, which Tehran originally opposed before Washington laid economic siege to Iran.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. He also is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a member of the California and D.C. bars. While Bandow's background speaks volumes I still am interested in how he views such "full-scale" conflict with Tehran. What does he even mean by this "full-scale conflict." This is one of those cases where one is forced to dissect every word in context to even begin to grasp what was meant to be said. What is, in the end, "asymmetric warfare" in the context of "full scale conflict" between the United States and Iran.
Behind this Bandow's errand statement loaded with exceptionalist fervor one can see the ghost of Desert Storm, which took a half-year to prepare under the most favorable political, geographic and military conditions, which saw a demolition of the weak badly trained Iraqi Army by a dramatically superior force. As Anthony Cordesman noted:
Future enemies are not likely to wait for the U.S. and other states to deploy their power projection forces, and there is a clear need to develop better forms of strategic mobility, prepositioning, and interoperability. Iraq did not exploit the limits in Western capability to rapidly deploy power projection forces, but there is no question that several months elapsed before the U.S. could deploy sufficient heavy land forces to ensure the forward defense of Saudi Arabia, and several more months elapsed before the U.S. could deploy large enough land forces to liberate Kuwait.
But Bandow, obviously, is not interested in those puny operational details such as Iran, unlike Iraq, preparing for the conflict with the United States for decades and developing military stand-off capability which allows not only to keep every single US base in the region in the cross-hair but also dramatically interrupt any deployment of "projection force" into the region. To fight Iran and "win", that is toppling Tehran regime by means of taking Tehran and disabling Iran's Armed Forces, requires a force which must be capable of dealing with this beaten to death cliche of "asymmetry" and here we all run into a slight problem, politely speaking. Or, rather, problems.
1. Colonel Wilkerson was pretty explicit in admitting that the only viable, and disastrous, military option is to "bomb Iran" and try to stay the hell away from any land operation. Considering Iran's terrain and size one can only speculate what level of losses US Army would sustain in trying to take Tehran in a combined arms operation;
2. I already singled out this factor before, I will reiterate: as rumor has it, Iran's ballistic missiles, not just a variety of anti-shipping missiles, have a capability to hit moving targets and that changes logistics completely for any invading force;
3. Finally, the number of land attack missiles in US arsenal is finite to "repeat" an impact of SEAD against one of the four countries in the world which actually produces own versions of long-range AD complexes. Yes, Russia, US, China and... Iran.
I, of course, omit here the issue of counter-insurgency in case we assume (hard to do) that somehow US is able to assemble and properly deploy force capable of "defeating" Iran. In the country with mostly young population of 80+ million--good luck with that. Mountains of Mazandaran, Ardabil or East Azerbaijan are so lovely in the spring. But beyond these few points, I still have a question which eclipses all of them--can Mr. Bandow present to anyone at least SOME record of successful US operations against determined and even mildly competent opposition on land? Grenada? Sure. There is a famous proverb in Caucasus--no matter how many times one repeats the word halva, it is not going to get sweeter in one's mouth. Non stop mantras, about US military power, by people who never served a day in the armed forces nor faced tactical and operational realities in any battle "domain", in my opinion, are psychological defense mechanisms against grim reality of a numerous US military failures in the last two decades. It is especially true for people who have "humanities" civilian background and have no business expressing their opinions on modern warfare, which requires a little bit more to grasp than degree in law or media career, as an example.