Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iranian Admiral And Generals Voice Threats Against U.S. Navy

One of my son-in-law's best arguments against the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been that, in fact, it operated not so much to our benefit as to Iran's. Iran, it is known, has major influence over the Shiite militias that are now almost as much of a danger to U.S. forces as the Sunni insurgents. And, it has become well established, the Iranians have been supplying many of the improvised explosive devices that have killed so many American soldiers.

Yes, Iran is a menace, and that was made even clearer on Monday when the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published the transcripts of interviews on Iranian television with Iranian military leaders who directly threatened the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the northern Indian ocean.

In the interviews with an admiral and two generals, the Iranian military suggested it was building submarines and installing air missile systems on Persian Gulf islands that would, in case of open conflict with the U.S., be able to chase our Navy from the Persian Gulf. That, or sink many U.S. ships. Missile boats, they said, could fire on the U.S. Navy from 100 miles away.

Already, it was claimed, an Iranian submarine has passed under ships of the U.S. fleet, and photographed them from under the water.

In another part of the interviews, the Iranian military leaders said their attacks would, in case of war, be so massive that all the defensive measures of the U.S. Navy would not be able to destroy every incoming torpedo or missile. Some would get through, they claimed.

The interviews with Admiral Sajjad Kouchaki and Generals Ja'fari and Klomars Heidari also said Iran is developing a new air defense system that would prove effective in shooting down airplanes attempting to bomb Iran.

Although the interviews were quite specific, it is certainly the case that Islamic fundamentalists often are wild in their exaggerations and outright lies. Braggadocio is as common to Muslim extremists as their discrimination against women and extolling of barbaric decapitations and other techniques of the jihad.

In the Shah's regime, it might be remembered, the U.S. provided Phoenix missiles to the Iranians. But by the time the Iranian-Iraqi war began, we were no longer providing special parts and, so far as is known, none of the Phoenix missiles were usable by the Khomeini regime which had replaced the Shah.

Still, the recent Israel-Hezbollah war showed that Iranian and Syrian missiles were quite effective when employed against Israel, and we have to assume they would also be used in a war with us. The Israelis managed to shoot down the only Zilgal long-range Iranian missile known to have been fired in the war, but presumably the Iranians have many more inside Iran and might be able to fire them effectively against us or our Persian Gulf allies in Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait, not to mention Saudi Arabia.

All this is proof of aggressive Iranian potentialities. We have to assume that, in addition to Iranian terrorism which has been threatened against American forces throughout the world, the Iranian military would be capable of much more severe blows than any ever delivered by Saddam Hussein's Iraq in case open war to erupt between the U.S. and Iran.

That is why it is so important to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and to prevent North Korea from supplying any, a distinct possibility. At the present, the U.S. has a nuclear capability that would trump, in a war emergency, anything Iran could put up. But even that advantage could well no longer apply to such a great extent in the years ahead.

One other note: Time magazine has an article this week by its excellent correspondent in Iran, Azadeh Moaveni, reporting an internal crackdown by religious fanatics in the Iranian government. Women are being segregated from men in a host of educational classes, bans have been implemented of smoking by women but not by men in cafes, and satellite television dishes are being seized all over Tehran. So, the fundamentalists discredit themselves, and Islam is made to seem a more and more tyrannical religion.

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