The Bush administration have been catapulting propaganda about Iran being the real enemy in Iraq for well over a year now. The propaganda has become the received wisdom for many despite the evidence being flimsy, often spuriously founded and changing every time independent experts point out how much rubbish is contained in the latest assessment. Now it's reached the point where serving Air Force officers can write idiocy like this:
Of course, direct action against Iran to stop such activities is an option that to date the U.S. has foresworn. Nevertheless, military strategists ought to be thinking about how best to coerce such adversaries if called upon to do so.The author isn't an active-duty airman though, he's Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, the Air Force Deputy Judge Advocate General and a career lawyer-in-uniform. Can someone in Congress now instigate hearings into how the JAGs became as politicized as US Attorneys, please? For the antecedents of this idea are firmly in the neocon belief that "real men go to Teheran" rather than in any form of reality.
Obviously, it is ideal to strike the actual funding, arming, training and command-and-control elements described by Gen. Petraeus. The problem is reliably identifying them and, as is so important today, striking them without excessive collateral damage.
Another approach may be, however, to hold at risk the supporting logistics. What does every war-fighting effort require? Fuel. In this instance, Iran has real vulnerabilities that the “overwhelming application of the air instrument” can exploit.
Specifically, despite huge reserves of crude oil, Iran nevertheless must import about half of its gasoline, largely because of a shortage of domestic refinery capacity. Targeting what refinery capacity Iran possesses could directly and concretely erode its ability to support Iraqi insurgents.
Oil refineries are ideal targets for air and missile attack. They are large, relatively “soft” facilities that are difficult for even the most modern air defense to protect. At the same time, they represent wholly lawful targets generally subject to attack with a minimal risk of collateral damage.
Besides reducing the fuel available to support insurgent activities in Iraq, the further cutback in refinery capacity could influence Iranian leadership, as the nation has already seen civil disturbances as a result of gasoline rationing.
Over at American Footprints, the Armchair Generalist is certain it's a bad idea.
this idea is beyond lunacy. As much as Dunlap protests that there are no current plans to attack Iran, the idea that he puts forward - to attack the oil refineries in the second largest oil-producing state in the Middle East - is not "creative thinking." The shock waves that would hit the economic markets would be profound (there probably was a reason why the US military didn't ever hit Iraq's oil production sites when Saddam was there). The screams for "jihad" by what could be a moderate Iranian population would be overwhelming (hordes of Saudi sucide bombers aren't enough?).
I am somehow shocked that the Air Force leadership and the Air Force public affairs office (which, I assume, does understand the intent of strategic communication) lets this guy publish insane ideas like this. These ideas do not promote the advancement of military theory or support an eventual conclusion to hostilities in the Middle East; they are alien to the aims of counterinsurgency theory.