Many in the Western World will claim that we should take threats made by Iran with a large measure of salt. Their reasoning is that no sane leader would risk such destruction upon their nation, its infrastructure and especially its people. We could not argue with this reasoning as no sane leader would risk such destruction. There are two slight problems with this reasoning as it has been applied to Iran. First is that the Ayatollahs, especially the most important Ayatollah, the Supreme Leader, do not believe that the United States would risk war with Iran because they believe they hold the same belief that President Trump is bluffing and would not risk the destruction Iran believes they could inflict upon the United States. This brings us to something which is necessary for going any further in this standoff review.
First, we will look at the United States and what they might be capable of inflicting upon Iran. The United States has replaced the aircraft carrier group in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, as the former group had been rotated to their home port, plus another carrier group in the eastern Mediterranean in addition to the fleet normally in the Mediterranean. Further, the United States has repositioned an entire B-52 Wing stationed in the region in the American base in Qatar. The aircraft carrier group was already scheduled for positioning and is not an additional deployment and as thus is merely part of the rotation of naval forces. The main additional threat is the B-52 Wing which provides some heavy bombers which are nuclear capable and can also carry the MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) nicknamed the Mother of all Bombs due to its size. This ordinance is a supersized Daisey Cutter and has an equivalence of eleven tons TNT forming a blast radius of one mile in every direction from the detonation point. Even using normative bombs, the B-52 specialty is performing what is called carpet bombing destroying large swaths of a region the plane overflies. The additional item is the B-52’s fly in formations in which one of the aircraft is what is called an electronics plane which specializes in jamming radars, giving false radar returns of additional B-52 Wings miles away from the actual group, diverting anti-aircraft missiles of numerous varieties and other electronic means for defending the wing. The naval forces America has within range of Iran includes a number of missile cruisers and frigates which have numerous varieties of missiles and warheads including nuclear warheads. But all of these are items the Iranians are fully aware but one has to wonder what the United States has in the region which Iran does not have when forming their equation. With any naval fleet there are some selection of submarines stationed within range of the fleet and even within the fleet to augment their abilities. There could be attack submarines which could assist with intercepting ships, including fast ships, and also could pass discreetly into the Persian Gulf. Then there is a possibility of submarines carrying missiles including what are called Boomers which carry nuclear missiles. Between the numerous assets the United States has advertised they have placed in the regions around Iran are sufficient to eradicate targets throughout Iran from specific targets to entire metropolitan regions and do so with conventional weapons. We are taking it on faith that the United States would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons except under the most serious of provocations.
Now, for the Iranian side of the equation which is less well defined. There is one wild card in the Iranian equation which is totally dependent upon the current location of the fleet they claimed to have deployed for stationing in the western region of the North Atlantic Ocean specifically to situate itself along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Of course, Iran has not stated that they intend to attack the United States mainland but has threatened the American naval assets in their region. The main threat coming from the Iranians is that should they come under attack, any attack by any country, they will completely destroy Israel immediately thereafter. Their threats have included the intent to use nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction such as biological or chemical weapons. Iran would not need to launch a single missile, launch aircraft to bomb Israel, they simply can send the order to their terror forces in the region to launch all-out attacks on Israel and sit back and watch. So, what are the forces and what are their weapons they might use. The one many people are already familiar with are Islamic Jihad, a direct arm of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as Hamas to attack Israel with various rockets which are capable of striking near Jerusalem and the entirety of the Tel Aviv metropolitan region all the way to Haifa in the north and possibly bring down some of the skyscrapers in the center of Tel Aviv all from Gaza. That would likely be the Iranian opening strike in order to entangle Israel and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) in Gaza in the south. Then, after two or three days waiting for the IDF to be forced to become fully involved with the Iranian terror extension in Gaza. Then Iran would unleash their main force in the region out of Syria and Lebanon backed by whatever IRGC forces they might have stationed in Syria, that being Hezballah. Hezballah has approximately one-hundred-fifty-thousand rockets and missiles of varying sizes and ranges. Their largest can strike all of Israel and beyond with very large warheads including biological and chemical warheads and, if they have them, nuclear warheads (see map below).
Hezballah also has access to the entirety of the Lebanese military weapons. These weapons include numerous Russian tanks, armored vehicles and anti-tank missiles as well as American Abrams Main Battle Tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters as well as whatever Iran has been capable of smuggling to the Hezballah terrorist army, and it is an army, make no mistake about that. Additionally, Hezballah has dug an unknown number of tunnels under the Israeli border to use as an intricate part of their invasion plans in addition to the tunnels and bunkers they have spread over southern Lebanon across the entirety of Lebanon below the Litany River. Any assault by Hezballah would initially be a massive firing of rockets with the hope that when Israeli Air Force arrives to end the barrage that they will be able to use the anti-aircraft missiles they probably possess. There have been rumors that Hezballah has been equipped with the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems as well as shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles such as MANPADS and Stinger Missiles. At some point the Hezballah Army and the IDF would engage. The plan from Iran is that after forcing the IDF to engage with Islamic Jihad and Hamas and other terrorist groups operating in Gaza, then Israel would not have top-line elite forces left to engage their main force from in Lebanon supported out of Syria. Their thinking may or may not be valid. That may be mistaken as Israel could alter their normal division of forces and use weapons which Israel has normally deployed. Then again, Israel has not been required to engage with Gaza and Hezballah at the same time. There is one means to which Israel could resort which she normally does not use. No, we are not talking about nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction. Israel also has missiles, very accurate missiles with various warheads. What kinds of warheads? The normal answer to this question is, if we told you we would have to kill you, but that is too trite. Israel has the normal range of warheads of any first-world nations which include EMP (both nuclear and conventional), high explosive, incendiary, fuel-air (thermobaric) and various others including nuclear should such an exchange become necessary.
But what else would such an attack cause? Israel has stated that should Hezballah attack that Iran would not be spared. Iran definitely has S-300 and potentially has S-400 Russian anti-aircraft and missile systems. How sophisticated are the Israeli missiles? We know they are accurate and that they include advanced cruise missiles but the cruise missiles would require being launched from aircraft or naval vessels closer to Iran to be within their range. Israeli aircraft are almost exclusively fighter jets whose range would not permit any extended time over targets in order to reach Iran unless they were granted landing rights from a nation between Israel and Iran. Releasing the name of any Arab or Islamic nation which might have agreed to give Israeli fighters landing rights if necessary was the method by which President Obama kept Israel from inhibiting the Iranian production of nuclear weapons. Things have changed, or so we are led to believe. That will remain to be seen as time reveals what will become history.
What is frightening for Israelis, Iranians and potentially far beyond even to the United States is what follows a war between the United States and Iran in the Middle East. Such a war would immediately escalate to include Israel almost immediately. The entirety of the Israeli anti-missile systems would be tested to or beyond its ability, we can merely pray that it is up to the task as Iran has intimated that she would launch as many nuclear tipped missiles as it would take to get at least two of them through the Israeli defenses as they believe that would be sufficient to completely wipe Israel from the map. This begs the question as to exactly what it would take to prove that Iran had launched a nuclear tipped missile at Israel simply from the remains of the successful interception of such a missile. Would sufficient crucial pieces remain which could be used to prove such a case? Would anybody actually believe any proof Israel provided? What would result from such an exchange?
Well, the answer is that nothing would change and Iran would not be decimated while Israel might remain. So, for argument’s sake we will assume Israel also survives any such conflict. The very first thing would be the condemnation of the United Nations General Assembly of Israel demanding that Israel cease their hostile and unprovoked attacks. Then would come the various agencies of the United Nations followed by a litany of nations largely from the Group of 77, the coalition of one-hundred-thirty-four developing nations which have mostly followed the Arab and Muslim worlds blindly and thus will gleefully condemn Israel and exonerate Iran and turn on the United States if given any chance to do so. The chance that such a conflict would widen into a greater conflagration is actually small. There exists a possible path should Russia get involved and side with Iran. First thing is that Russia and Iran (Persia) have a long and violent history of ill wills. Russia is favorable to Israel as first, there are a large number of Russians in Israel, second, they admire what Israel has accomplished and third, Russia wants no part of a conflict with any nuclear capable nation with advanced missiles and pinpoint guidance systems. Fortunately, the majority of the Arab world being Sunni Muslims and untrusting of Persian, especially when they are Shiite, will simply wait any war involving Iran out unless attacked by Iran. We can assume that any nation which may end up fighting Iran will not be concerned with engaging the Arabs world as well. So, as long as Russia stands aside there will be little chance of this war widening beyond Iran, the United States and Israel. Nobody else wishes to have a dog in this fight and to be honest, Israel would love nothing more than to sit any and all future wars out.
The best solution to this would be the United States and Iran talking and making a new deal, but there has been some bad blood from the United States withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) and demanding a renegotiation in which the terms would be far less advantageous for Iran. The Ayatollahs, specifically Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei who is the one who believes he got sand kicked into his face by President Donald Trump. This is something that Supreme Leaders, Kings, Emperors and other dictators take very badly and tend to react violently. We may find the answer as to whether the Supreme Leader Khamenei was serious about sacrificing the people and nation of Iran in order to destroy Israel and the United States or was he blowing smoke to try and appear more powerful. Iran is rated as the fourteenth most powerful military with Israel two spaces behind at sixteenth. Of course, Russia is rates second, China third and the United States was first, of course. The pivotal individual in this entire imbroglio is the Iranian Supreme Leader and those with influence in his decision-making processes. This includes the Council of Experts, a group of senior Imams, Ayatollahs, who are responsible for appointing Supreme Leaders and advising them, the Iranian President and their Parliament, though the elected individuals have far less input than the Ayatollahs as they are merely elected by the people, even though the Assembly of Experts also decide who is permitted to run for office. In the end, it will be the top Ayatollahs who will be more likely to simply agree with whatever the Supreme Leader decides. The problem is he is the one who likely feels he has been insulted directly by President Trump. There may be an attack upon the United States naval forces which will lead to a serious conflagration which we can only hope never does include nuclear weapons, no matter whose weapons they may be. In the end, it will be what Iran desires, peace or war.
Beyond the Cusp