Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 31, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PARANOIA WATCH....This is not really news, but a couple of days ago the Navy announced the sailing date for that third carrier group heading to the gulf:

The Nimitz carrier strike group will sail from San Diego for the gulf on Monday, a navy spokesman said. It will replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower...."You are looking at the early part of May that you would have the transition. It would be without any overlap. There is no plan to overlap them at all," Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said by telephone from naval headquarters in Washington.

"No overlap." OK. Though that's what they'd say whether they were planning some overlap or not, right? There was also this odd report coming out of Russia a few days ago:

Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.

"The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran," the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.

It's probably nothing, and God knows I don't want to go all grassy knoll on you. Just passing along the latest rumors. One way or the other, though, we're sure putting a lot of naval firepower into a very small area where there are currently no particular naval threats.

Kevin Drum 12:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

At least you aren`t willing to believe anything they say. That is progress.

"The future will be a struggle between huge competing systems of psychopathology." - J. G. Ballard

Posted by: daCascadian on March 31, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've just read there's two small British carriers in the Gulf and a French carrier as well.

Posted by: cld on March 31, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't get it.
There will be no support for this, will there?
It's mind boggling.

Posted by: Todd on March 31, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Additionally wasn't there some story about reconstructing the harbor at UAE or Bahrain so that it could fully service US aircraft carriers?

So the Eisenhower might not have to un-deploy itself so far away.

Posted by: cld on March 31, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK


Two more dots in the picture..

1. Additional US troops in Baghdad...

2. Muqtada al-Sadr suddenly pops up after 90 days of silence to condemn the US occupation two days ago.

But, militarily there is little chance of "winning' a war in Iran. I think our CinC is playing a high-stakes game of trying to push Iran to some sort of deal so that he gets some "victory" in the middle east, before his reign of error ends.

Kari

Posted by: Kari on March 31, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders (truly venturing out on a limb here) what Iran's leaders might do if they found out or were alerted to an impending attack- could obtaining and holding some Western hostages (without giving the US a direct causus belli) provide some disincentive to, say, a cruise missile assault against which you have little defense otherwise?

Posted by: pdq on March 31, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Probably looking at stage 2 of the Neocon invasion plans.

Stage 3 is Syria, followed by Stage 4, Egypt.

According to the grand Neocon/Fundie plan, as we throttle off the oil flow to China, the final conflict will be played out on the plains of Armageddon, an ochre calf will be slaughtered on the steps of the third temple in Jerusalem and there will be a big, bright light in the sky.

(Likely it will not be jesus, but the detonation of nuclear warheads high in the atmosphere).

Posted by: Buford on March 31, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

On Wikinews today,
"Israeli website reports speculation over U.S. attack on Iran in April"

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Israeli_website_reports_speculation_over_U.S._attack_on_Iran_in_April

Posted by: Don on March 31, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow, I can't get the thought out of my head that the administration is also trying to maneuver us nto a "Remember the Alamo/Maine/Pearl Harbor" moment with a bit of Gulf of Tonkin for seasoning.

I think the purpose for all the sabre rattling is to push Iran into doing something regrettable which in turn will piss off the American populace into supporting on an attack on Iran. Average Joe won't know or care how he was maneuvered into it... he'll just know that Bush must have been right all along and back him up.

Meanwhile the Islamic world does the one thing it has never been able to do in modern times, and that is to unite against the clear and present danger to themselves... which is why Iran may possibly decide to play along.

Just one Count's opinion.

Posted by: The Count on March 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the horse racing just ended in Dubai...hope they let ship 2007 Horse of the Year Invasor, and winner of the Dubai Cup, and all the other American horses out first...

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 31, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"I think our CinC is playing a high-stakes game of trying to push Iran to some sort of deal so that he gets some "victory" in the middle east, before his reign of error ends."

That may be. Or he might be playing a high-stakes game of trying to push Iran to do something stupid like take Western hostages, so that he can out-stupid them by actually using those aircraft carriers he's got floating out there.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 31, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Which reminds me- did anyone hear Newt Gingrich's plan for dealing with the British hostage situation? This is for real- Newtie says what he would do is bomb the one gasoline refinery in Iran, and then run a naval blockade to keep them from importing any more.

I am not making this up.

Or we could impose a cat food moritorium on Iran, and then what could they do? They'd have to let the Brits go to save all their kitties.

That one I did make up, but I think it has a roughly equal chance of resulting in the safe release of the held British sailors. Honestly, Newt reminds me of Carl in Caddyshack, or (if you disn't see that movie) the weird kid in your grade school who claimed to know the "secret hold" that would render anyone unconscious in three seconds. Yeaaahhh...good idea, and I'll call you if I ever need that.

And some people would like to see this guy as our president. Eek!

Posted by: pdq on March 31, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, if you think I was kidding about Gingrich, the interview (with Hugh Hewitt, who obviously appreciated Newt's wisdom and secret-plan-making abilities):

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1808386/posts

-----------
NG: I think there are two very simple steps that should be taken. The first is to use a covert operation, or a special forces operation to knock out the only gasoline producing refinery in Iran. There’s only one. And the second is to simply intercede by Naval force, and block any tankers from bringing gasoline to Iran…

HH: Would you do, would you urge them…

NG: And say to the Iranians, you know, you can keep the sailors as long as you want, but in about 30 days, everybody in your country will be walking.

HH: So how long would you give them, to give them that ultimatum, the Iranians?

NG: I would literally do that. I would say to them, I would right now say to them privately, within the next week, your refinery will no longer work. And within the following week, there will be no tankers arriving. Now if you would like to avoid being humiliated publicly, we recommend you calmly and quietly give them back now. But frankly, if you’d prefer to show the planet that you’re tiny and we’re not, we’re prepared to simply cut off your economy, and allow you to go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts, because you will have no gasoline left.

HH: I agree with that 100%.

Posted by: pdq on March 31, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as they talk about a land attack on Iran they loose all credibility in my book. I'll accept the possibility of the US or its allies lobbing a few TLAMs, standoff airstrikes, or penetrating airstrikes but come on, land attack? Where's 5th Group or 10th Group at this time? Anybody live near Campbell? I know 10th just left for a normal Iraq rotation.

Posted by: 1SG on March 31, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This report is much more detailed

April 6 is the expected date for the attach

http://www.inteldaily.com/?c=166&a=1478

This will have us yearning for the good old days of the Iraq fiasco

Posted by: keith on March 31, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

One would expect special operations forces inserted into Iran from Iraq and Afghanistan to laze targets for PGMs dropped by naval strike aircraft, some direct action operations by SF and SEAL types, and an increased presence of CIA paramilitaries, possibly working with the Mujahadeen-e-Khalk to destabilize the "ethnic" parts of Iran, particularly in the Kurdish regions. Frankly, I'd be surprised if this didn't happen. At this point, BushCo's got nothing to lose.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on March 31, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

That may be. Or he might be playing a high-stakes game of trying to push Iran to do something stupid like take Western hostages, so that he can out-stupid them by actually using those aircraft carriers he's got floating out there.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 31, 2007 at 2:36 PM

Eureka! He's finally found something he can do adequately. Out-stupid. Love that. You should claim copy-rights to that, Chauncey.

Posted by: FitterDon on March 31, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Naval power isn't the issue, it is all about air power. We need lots of reliable air power if we are going into Iran and there is zero possibility of providing the secure bases we need in any of Iran's neighbors territories. Iraq? Don't make me laugh. Afghanistan? LOL.

The fact that the Persian Gulf will soon be swarming with US Naval carrier groups is no big surprise. Admiral William Fallon, the new top dog at Centcom is a former Naval aviator whose operational experience is entirely with carrier tactics. Duh?

Posted by: majun on March 31, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Just a note on tactics.

Nothing says, from an operational view, that those carriers & their support ships have to move into the Persian Gulf to operate. They can certainly sit outside the Straits of Hormuz in the Arabian Sea and do their job, particularly if Pakistan were to have a "change" in government &/or Afgahnistan were to be brought into the action. Yes, it would restrict some types of operations but starting in the SE and working towards Tehran wouldn`t be the dumbest strategy.

Just thinking aloud

"...playin with matches in a pool of gasoline..." - Swamp Mama Johnson

Posted by: daCascadian on March 31, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, BushCo's got nothing to lose.

I think that is the functional point.

Posted by: cld on March 31, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine all 4 carriers trapped in the gulf?

Posted by: sinbad on March 31, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine all 4 carriers trapped in the gulf?

Posted by: sinbad on March 31, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Just because the CinC is an idiot doesn't make the Navy one.

Not yet, I hope!

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

God knows I don't want to go all grassy knoll on you. Just passing along the latest rumors.

A little late for that, if we're seizing on anonymous Russian officials for information.

What happened to the Attack on Iran as the Great October Surprise last year? If there is no invasion of Iran by 2009, will all this speculation go into the same memory hole as the impending Plame indictments of Rove and Cheney?

The only remotely plausible thing that might happen is some sort of shipping blockade, while leaving Iran itself alone.

Posted by: bart on March 31, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I would prefer the aircraft carriers never were built. Before they launch any attack I would prefer they be decommissioned. I would prefer the sailors on these vessels not risk their lives, but I have a higher preference those sailors not kill anyone. The best I can hope for is mutiny and the ships are scuttled. The reality is probably not going to meet any of my expectations except the ones I fear most.

Posted by: Brojo on March 31, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I too would prefer a world where military armament was not necessary. Perhaps we will colonize one some day. Unfortunately, as long as there are people in the equation, there will be a need for a military. That is just reality.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 31, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bomb the brown-skinned black-bearded assholes.

Maybe that will help get these white liberal racists off my case and trying instead to protect the terrorists...

Posted by: Alberto Gonzales on March 31, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

bart, try this for a memory hole:

Why Plame matters!

BGRS, if we engineered a real United Nations we wouldn't need national forces. Of course, the control-freakery, paranoia-driven neo-cons wouldn't allow that.

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Sinbad said, "Can you imagine all 4 carriers trapped in the gulf?" to which notthere replied "Just because the CinC is an idiot doesn't make the Navy one."

Sure it does! Do you remember Hurricane Katrina, a few years back? A US Navy hospital ship took immediate action, sailing right behind the hurricane, so they were offshore of New Orleans after Katrina passed by.

Then the ship just sat there, for day after day after day after day, awaiting orders from Bush.

Only the Coast Guard, which has a standing mission of saving folks, and did so, came out of it looking good.

Posted by: Zandru on March 31, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I read this morning that April 17th might be a likely attack date against Iran--because of the New Moon. Doesn't sound impossible, and it would serve the function of stopping the Gonzales and Rice "visits" with Congress. I think the link was through Andrew Sullivan's blog at New Atlantic, but I can't remember...

Posted by: QuakerLiz on March 31, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders (truly venturing out on a limb here) what Iran's leaders might do if they found out or were alerted to an impending attack- could obtaining and holding some Western hostages (without giving the US a direct causus belli) provide some disincentive to, say, a cruise missile assault against which you have little defense otherwise?
Posted by: pdq on March 31, 2007 at 1:49 PM

Here we go- "human shields" again? It also would be likely to throw off any cadence in an attack plan. We would have to take time to rethink the impact of the new development which could significantly delay any plan- which would buy the Persians (oops- Iranians) more time.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 31, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, the New Moon angle was written by Steve Soto at www.leftcoaster.com under a post entitled "The Week of April 16th Will Be Momentous."

Posted by: QuakerLiz on March 31, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

www.theleftcoaster.com
I'll shut up now....

Posted by: QuakerLiz on March 31, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we will colonize one some day.

Funny.

Posted by: Brojo on March 31, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Zandru, I guess I missed that about the hospital ship. Of course federal military have to be cleared to act domestically. Why weren't they?

Posted by: notthere on March 31, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders (truly venturing out on a limb here) what Iran's leaders might do if they found out or were alerted to an impending attack- could obtaining and holding some Western hostages (without giving the US a direct causus belli) provide some disincentive to, say, a cruise missile assault against which you have little defense otherwise?

Iran already has Western hostages, to wit the 150,000 American troops stationed next door in Iraq in the middle of a hostile and heavily armed Shiite population.

Posted by: Stefan on March 31, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, like George W. Bush would do something as stupid as to attack Iran!

Man, what grassy-knoll paranoia you suffer from!

Posted by: chuck on March 31, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Notthere - Because Bush hates black people; and, now that he doesn't drink (supposedly any way), he no use for New Orleans. In all honesty, I don't think Bush hates black people per se, I think he just doesn't give a shit about poor people and that is what the Katrina refugees were to him.

Posted by: bmaz on March 31, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Pentagon does not decide when to attack.
I agree with the Newt plan - People need to pay for their sins.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on March 31, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Start a war with Iran and for sure we cannot leave Iraq. That will teach the Democrats to mess with GWB.

Posted by: Carl on March 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Great, dickheads, line 'em up like bowling pins.

Posted by: rout on March 31, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Walter E. Wallis: People need to pay for their sins.

But only those whom Walter doesn't like.

Posted by: anonymous on March 31, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

actually, the invasion of iran started over a year ago. blackwater, aegis, dyncorp et alia have operating in iran. that is why jack murtha shut marcy kaptur up about usg contracts with these merc outfits.

so, there may be as many as 100,000 mercs[see jeremy scahill's latest investigation BLACKWATER] operating in iran as we speak. and they, of course, have been training and arming such indigenous iranian terror groups such as the MEK.

commonwealth[canada, australia, newzealand] special forces[SAS et alia] have been operating in iran for over 2 years.

what kicks off more overt hostilities is that iran has made the same decision that iraq made before our invasion - to uncouple its hydrocarbon sales from the dollar and demand payment in euros. that is a decision that must be reversed. come hell or high water, no matter what the cost. if the usdollar ceases to be the world's sole reserve currency, the sole arbiter of hydrocarbon pricing, then the amerikan empire is dead. and amerika becomes officially a second-tier power.

the bushits, the reptillians[also the demtillians] cannot countenance that eventuality.

so,they all will let the aerial destruction of iran commence. it will be as bipartisan conspiratorial a destruction of another country as it was when the drunkard, psychopath - richard nixon - commenced the B52 carpet bombing of Cambodia.

the B52's will launch from guam and diego garcia. the carrier's will launch sustained air attacks indiscriminately. that operation will resemble lbj's rolling thunder. the objective will resurrect curt lemay's sociopathic tactic, bomb 'em back to the stone age.

i don't think that the invasion will overtly commence on 6/4/07. i think it more likely, 16-17/4/07.

martial law will be renewed. abu and cunti will not be appearing to testify before the congress. wartime exigencies and all that jazz.

the saudis will be very happy. as will the house of hanover. as will be all of the oilies.

Posted by: albertchampion on March 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, the question is whether Bush is totally out of his mind, preserve our bodiliy fluids insane; and it appears most people think, Yeah, he's probably that crazy...

Posted by: Gary Sugar on March 31, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

There was also this odd report coming out of Russia a few days ago...

He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran "that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost."
That should be no surprise.
Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said last week that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran's military infrastructure in the near future.
Much of this "report" seems to be sourced to Ivashov. He is a rabid Russian nationalist and a certifieable kook who believes 9/11 is the product of Western intelligence agencies (although he generally couches his accusations carefully).

That said, the buildup of US naval forces in the gulf is of concern. It's enough of a tinderbox without throwing a few carrier battle groups and associated firestarter into the mix.

Posted by: has407 on March 31, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

"we're sure putting a lot of naval firepower into a very small area where there are currently no particular naval threats."

Isn't that Bush's MO--doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time??????

Posted by: Mazurka on March 31, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Just want to again say "thanks" to all you "moderate" Republicans and "totally unprejudiced" independents who say fit to re-elect George W. Bush because it was your sincere and considered judgement that he was the best candidate to protect our interests and make us proud. Thanks.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on March 31, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

little old jim is right.

If Kerry had been elected, we'd have blown out of Iraq two years ago, that entire country would now be under Iran's control, and the British wouldn't have been there to get in trouble in the first place.

Posted by: dnc on March 31, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like foreign policy right out of TR's book. If I were one of those Mullahs, I'd be getting nervous given that three power-projecting carriers are within striking distance.

Posted by: Bird Dog on March 31, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

PARANOIA WATCH

I'd call it just being alert.

Is the Congress going to wait until next year, or mid-2009 before cutting off funds to the war against Iran {sic}? Are they that committed to living in the past?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 31, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, Nimizt carier strike group leaves San Diego on April 2nd, with a projected transit time to the Persian Gulf of about 14 days, which makes - what, lemme calculate that - damn, April 16th. Just in time for the new moon in mid-April. What do you know?

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on March 31, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Which reminds me- did anyone hear Newt Gingrich's plan for dealing with the British hostage situation? This is for real- Newtie says what he would do is bomb the one gasoline refinery in Iran, and then run a naval blockade to keep them from importing any more.

The U.N.S.C. is working toward extensive trade sanctions. That could be a part of it. Iran can not even repair its own refinery.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 31, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

A good way to start is to put US sailors right where the Brits were attacked. Let the whole world know they are there, and let Iran make its move.

Posted by: Bob M on March 31, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

There will be no invasion of Iran. If there were, it would mean the Bush neocons were principled. But they're not, so we're not gonna see an invasion of Iran.

Posted by: Andy on April 1, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

we've already invaded iran, idiot.

our mercs are all over the country.

as to an invasion of the nature of iraq, that won't be happening.

what will be happening is a bombing of iran similar to nixon's bombing of cambodia. a war from afar.

much like the clinton/blair war on iraq from 1992 - 2000.

Posted by: albertchampion on April 1, 2007 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Congress isn't going to do anything to defund Iran operations. AIPAC ordered them not to, remember?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 1, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The new commander of CENTCOM is a Navy guy. So it's not surprising that he'd like to have a couple carrier groups around "just in case."

Posted by: TW Andrews on April 2, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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