Sunday, December 4, 2011

How To Blunder Into A Pointless War.

Drone 'shot down' in Iran may belong to US.

A surveillance drone flying over western Afghanistan had gone out of control late last week and may be the one Iran said it had shot down over its own airspace, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has said.

"The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a US unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," an ISAF statement said on Sunday.

The statement was issued in Kabul and released to reporters covering an international conference on Afghanistan in the German city Bonn.

Fars reported that the drone had been brought down through a combined effort by Iran's armed forces, air defence forces and its electronic warfare unit after the plane briefly violated the country's airspace at its eastern border.

The drone "was downed with slight damage. It is now under the control of our forces," Fars reported, quoting an unnamed military source.

The source warned that Iran's armed response would "not be limited to our country's borders" for the "blatant territorial violation".

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, told Al Jazeera that Iran has made similar claims even as recently as July.

"It could be quite feasible but we don’t know yet. What we do know is that in the absence of any diplomatic channels incidents like this can have tremendous repercussions, far greater then when there were some de-escalatory mechanisms in place between the United States and Iran."

In January, Iran also announced that its forces had downed two US drones after they violated Iranian-controlled airspace.


Even if you take the US explanation at face value, which may not be a very bright idea, this is exactly the kind of cock-up that can get you in a war you do not want. 

The Iranians are already paranoid as it is, an incident like this could easily drive them right off the cliff.  There is no public way, or even a standard back channel way, for the US to calm Iranian frazzled nerves. Maybe some there are some ad hoc mechanisms that can be used, some friend of a friend telegraphing that can occur; but nothing official.  The Iranians could easily misconstrue what was an honest error by the US military.

But this is the Near East boys and girls; and I have my doubts the US was entirely innocent. While the main mission of the drones is to gather intelligence in Afghanistan, it is not all that hard to believe that a little moonlighting might be going on. Perhaps a whole bunch of moonlighting is going on. The US could be deliberately sending up these drones to test Iranian Air Defenses. The US could have been attempting to do other cloak and dagger nonsense when the drone did actually go haywire.

I just do not trust the NeoCon lite Administration of Barack Hussain Obama to show any restraint in this regard. As Team Obama has continued and expanded the interventionist policies  of the Bushite regime, it is entirely possible that Obama and friends are playing servant to the fevered dreams of Bibi Netanyahu. The Israeli tail may be wagging the dog of US policy yet again.

Iran has a pretty good idea where a conventional attack from the US or Israel may come. The easiest route, the one that needs no mother-may-I from Syria or Jordan, is from the sea. The US could aid this via the aircraft carriers it possesses, and maybe a look away from Saudi Arabia. ( Gee we did not know those B-52s, B1Bs, B2s, and fighter jets were going to Iran, boy were we fooled; honest.) What Iran may not be as prepared for is a sucker punch from Afghanistan. It is not like Afghanistan can do anything to prevent such an action. Sovereignty is a cruel joke for the Afghanis. The US could stockpile all sorts of fun things that go boom in the night, and there is nothing the fictitious central government of Afghanistan could do about it.

Pakistan might be a problem, but Asif Ali Zardari,the leader of Pakistan, is not above a bribe the way the ocean is not above the sky. The recent killing of 24 Pakistani troops by the US air forces has made this a delicate negotiation, and thereby raised the price of Pakistani compliance. Still, down the road, “Mr. Ten Per Cent” can be brought into the fold. With Iran out of the picture Pakistan can gain even more sub rosa control of Afghanistan. That would be fine by both Pakistan and China as the Pashtuns can be used as cats paws against their fellow adversary, India.

A US strike at Iran via Afghanistan is possible. The US is publicly keeping all its options open and Iran is well aware of what that means. They would be careless fools if they did not consider the Afghanistan option. One things the theocrats in Tehran are not, is careless fools. Maybe they are being overly paranoid about US intentions, but then again maybe not. It would be nice if we could discuss this with them in a rational manner, but US policy viz. Iran has not been rational since at least Carter, if not before. And with the US election cycle upon us, there will be no opening to Iran until perhaps this time next year at best. That is whole year for the US to get further in trouble; October surprise anyone?
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