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US wages war from within Iran
By Richard M Bennett

With commendable stupidity usually only reserved for the most powerful and isolated from reality, President George W Bush has managed to go some way towards repeating the catastrophic mistakes of Lyndon Johnson and ensnare the United States in an increasingly unpopular and probably unwinnable foreign military involvement. Just two months after the sudden collapse of organized Iraqi resistance to the US-led invasion, US troops are back in a Vietnam-scenario with the ambushing of military convoys, the regular use of grenades and rocket launchers against isolated American targets and indeed suicide bombers.

It has always been a truism that if you cannot avoid wars, then at least learn the lessons of previous conflicts. This, however, the US has signally failed to do. Not content with the ultimate failures of the campaigns in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, of Somalia, and indeed even Afghanistan, to achieve the stated aims and the supposed improvement in the state of the inhabitants of those nations, the US has blindly embarked on a dangerous and unsound course of action. US forces are already launching operations suspiciously similar to the "search-and-destroy" tactics of 40 years ago and with a similar response from an increasingly hostile civilian population.

Using a marked degree of devious propaganda about the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction and largely in the dark about the true allegiance and likely response of the majority of Iraqis, the US has now succeeded in alienating much of both the developed and Third World, and indeed signaled to both Russia and China that Washington's new-found military belligerence and diplomatic toughness are a profound threat to their influence and future powerbase. Not content with expending much of America's wealth and the lives of its young service personnel in largely fruitless campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington is now clearly preparing the ground for an attack on Iran.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been in contact with senior Iranian military personnel for several years and are believed to have developed a number of highly valuable operations to undermine Iran's defenses. However, and crucially, they have so far failed in similar attempts with the Islamic Republican Guards or Pasdaran. Aware of the US intelligence agency's success in "turning" large numbers of key Iraqi commanders, the Iranian government has quietly contemplated a mass purge of the possibly "infected" army high command and senior field commanders. This would of course still suit the Pentagon as it would severely disrupt Iranian war planning, the command structure and the likely performance of its combat units in battle.

The course that the mullahs have apparently decided on is to ensure a higher degree of integration between Pasdaran and regular army formations in conflict situations and to increase both the penetration of the army by the internal security branch of the intelligence service, SAVAMA, and vastly increase the numbers of trusted Pasdaran officers positioned at brigade and divisional-level headquarters to watch for any signs of treachery by regular officers, much in the manner of commissars or political officers that the Soviets used to deploy.

The Iranian government has moved hundreds, if not thousands, of trusted Islamic officers and Pasdaran fighters into the Shi'ite areas of Iraq in order to create a massive subversive campaign in the event of a US attack on their country. However, Washington has more than paid back this action in kind. CIA officers and dissident Iranian agents have expended millions of dollars in recent weeks to foment trouble throughout Iran, and indeed have had some success in Tehran and a number of other cities. In a re-run of the classic campaign that successfully overthrew the regime of prime minister Mohammed Musadeqq in 1953 and which resulted in the return of the Shah, American intelligence operations have been focused mainly on the protesting students, the police and those troops used for internal security.

While not expecting the Tehran regime to be toppled easily or quickly, the CIA operations are the beginning of a determined effort to subvert the armed forces of Iran and significantly undermine the ability of the government in Tehran to resist increasing diplomatic pressure to disarm or to organize successfully to resist a US military invasion, perhaps as early as 2004.

However, judging by the failure to complete the victories won on the battlefield in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the portents for the coming war with Iran are ominous. Both Afghanistan and Iraq now have developing major insurgencies with which US forces are showing few signs of coming to terms, and without doubt Iran will be a much harder nut to crack. The drain on US resources and lives will almost certainly be that much greater. Any one of these campaigns may indeed be winnable, two are a serious problem, however three may well prove to be just one war too far, even for the world's only superpower.

(AFI Research, a leading source of specialist intelligence, defense, terrorism, conflict and political analysis. (C) Richard Bennett Media 2003,
Jun 20, 2003

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