HUMINT: Cold War to Terror

Thoughts on Cold War logic and the American led War on Terrorism in the Middle East

HUMINT: Cold war calculus doesn't work well against Iranian aggression. Asymmetric warfare requires an ideological undercurrent, virulently intolerant of the perceived enemy and favors the use of violence. When attacks occur, they typically strike soft targets - mostly with off the shelf technology married to rudimentary explosives. If you are interested in comparing - I ask, why should a nation that openly advocates asymmetric warfare like Iran buy (or build) carrier battle groups when they intend to capitalize on their asymmetric successes? Iran's economy does not resemble the former Soviet Union's economy. The West cannot out produce the Iranian industrial machine because increases in rates of production here favor their petroleum based economy.

An alternative point; the Soviets experienced WWII and were planning to fight that kind of war with the United States. The mutual arms race between the Americans and the Soviets required top secret discretion. The Iranians didn't experience WWII and do not carry the impressions of WWII. Their most vivid memories are of the Iran-Iraq war. A war where Tehran's sickeningly overt tactics wasted an unprecedented amount their country's own flesh and blood. Human waves consisting mostly of untrained men and boys were flesh fodder for Iraqi machine guns - and the Iranians still managed to push their Iraqi enemies to retreat.

The rules of the West's long war in the Middle East are very different than the rules of the Cold War. Iran is an important example to discuss but certainly not the only enemy to America's global ambitions. For sustained growth of the global economy, prerequisites are peace and stability in the Middle East. The most logical approach to such an ideal, from an American perspective, is through the propagation of democracy across the region. Within the region there are a great number of asymmetric obstacles to such an ambition. Iran is just one enemy of the US vision. Other states and non-state actor operate with similar behavioral traits.

How many small craft did it require to disable and nearly sink the USS Cole? How many truck bombs did it take to hasten our retreat from Lebanon? The 9/11 hijackers didn't use their own vehicles to strike the World Trade Center, so the question changes; who trained the hijackers in engineering and aviation?

When you consider confronting Iran, put away your Axis and Allies board game and ask yourself why Iran announces their nuclear defiance, blatantly threatens Israel, suppresses internal dissent and clings closely to Islamic dogma? They are building support across the region to redefine the global balance of power. The new empire of their desires will be geared to their favor. Their identity is predicated on the notion that the US and her allies around the world represent a hegemonic empire. The fact is, American management of the global march toward democracy is anything but imperialist. The inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for liberty inherent in American culture is an existential threat to ideological segregationists like the Iranian regime. To thwart the march of democracy, Iranian leadership will continue to lash out at the pillars of the West.

Their intent is to render international diplomacy and Western military tactics impotent. The ace up their sleeve is ideology. Machiavelli once said that the power of the state could be measured in terms of the willingness of its men to die for the state. If he was correct, how many suicide bombers equal one conventional tank? Our only hope is that my version of Machiavelli's maxim is correct - the power of any state can be measured by the willingness of its people to live for the state. My version only works when government is established for the people, by the people. Without a guarantee of liberty, my version is just another definition of slavery. Anyway, I digress...

Make no mistake, Americans have a deadly serious, regional fight on their hands that goes beyond the insurgency facing them in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's an ideological fight, it's an asymmetric fight and it's a fight the West cannot afford to lose.




  • HUMINT: Cold War to Terror

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