What We Should Be Doing Instead

First and foremost I think we are too involved in the Middle East rather than not involved enough. The reasons that we have farflung outposts in Syria and Iraq like the one in which a drone killed three American soldiers are unclear to me. They seem far too risky. I honestly don’t understand how you can blame Israel for the Hamas attack that took place on 10/7 and not blame the U. S. for that drone attack but I’ve seen accounts that do just that.

That said and if you believe we should be responding to these militia attacks with military force I think that Frank Sobchak’s advice at the Modern War Institute at West Point is pretty good. He recommends

  • targeting senior IRGC Quds Force leaders outside of Iran and linked to its violent proxies
  • warning the Iranians and then sinking the Iranian spy ship off Yemen
  • telling Iran that submarines and craft capable of laying mines will not be allowed to leave their bases until this crisis is over or they will be destroyed

If there is legitimate fear that Iran has nuclear breakout capability, I would have other recommendations.

9 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    We have done the first many, many times. It is SOP for both the CIA and Mossad. And the murders have achieved nothing.

    The second is a clear violation of international law. If you like it, you should bear in mind that that policy would justify the RF shooting down all US/NATO reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic and Black Seas. Sauce for the goose

    The third is a blockade and an overt act of war.

    In general, the people at the Modern War Institute and the Institute for the Study of War, et al., are charlatans without any military or strategic skills or knowledge. Sobchack is a good example of the problem.

    One also needs to point out that our military academies, once good quality engineering schools and sources of competent, dedicated, loyal leaders (Marshall, King…) are now miserable diploma mills turning corrupt rabble. The honor codes are a joke, the curricula and faculty are jokes, and we get clowns like Austin and Miley running the show. There are actual Marxists (!!!) on the West Point faculty, and they have produced communist 2Lt’s dedicated to the overthrow of the US. (The student went public [stupid, stupid, stupid and typical] was cashiered, but facultly are still there.)There are good reasons we have a military that cannot fight and win, and they start at the military academies.

    PS. Over the weekend and Monday, the US spent at least $200 million pounding sand and achieving nothing. Some of our Kurdish allies were killed in counter attacks.

  • Over the weekend and Monday, the US spent at least $200 million pounding sand and achieving nothing.

    To my eye that’s the key point. I presume that steve’s retort would be that we are degrading their capabilities. I wonder how that is measured?

  • Andy Link

    Iran is smart in playing the game in the ME by supporting proxies. We have not been good at that for a very long time, if ever. We don’t have an equivalent of the Quds force. The Army Special Forces used to be the go-to units for foreign-internal-defense and unconventional warfare, but it seems they are much less specialized in those tasks now.

    We can’t avoid being involved in the Middle East, but we need to play to our strengths. And our strengths don’t, IMO, involve replicating the Afghanistan model in Syria were we have outposts of conventional forces supporting locals of varying degrees of capability and reliability.

    And what is the strategic long game here? We support the SDF, but what do we expect them to become? Turkey hates them, the Assad government hates them, most of the Arabs in Syria don’t like them. The idea that they will one day democratically rule Syria is far-fetched at best. Secession? Turkey won’t accept that, and it’s contrary to our nominal principles on the sanctity of established borders. So basically we’re just there to make sure the SDF doesn’t get slaughtered and to keep ISIS from coming back – a forever mission it seems.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Accessing the situation, the US situation is complicated that the administration has no political capital to do anything except muddle through.

    Every one of those options listed are forms of escalation, and a President with 40% approval and trailing his opponent in the polls doesn’t have the pull to threaten Iran that a low level war will become a big hot war. Is Biden going to get an AUMF through Congress if it came to it?

  • It’s even worse than you’re paining it, CuriousOnlooker. The administration is unlikely to take any action that might raise the price of oil. With such a low approval rating increased gas prices would not help Biden’s re-election chances.

    And your question might be rephrased: will there be a political price in NOT supporting an AUMF? I don’t think so.

  • And what is the strategic long game here?

    That’s the question I’ve been raising. And why the heck are we supporting the SDF? Why have they become a U. S. interest?

  • steve Link

    I am having a hard time being convinced that the troops we have left in Syria, Iraq, whatever, are adding much value but they certainly make good targets. My bet would be they are still because if ISIS does re-emerge whoever pulled the troops out will take the heat ie its about domestic politics. Hence we dont really have along term plan for troops there, its just a long term game of chicken.

    I agree with Andy that we arent as good as Iran with proxies, but then it’s in their backyard. If we had a proxy war in Canada I bet we would do much better than Iran.

    We have nothing to show for it? If our intel is correct they lost radar, supply dumps and other infrastructure. It will take a while to degrade their capabilities enough that they really slow down. Of course the alternatives generally being offered if they lead to escalation and would cost much more in terms of lives and money. There just arent especially good answers. If we were fighting over land we could occupy it and win. It’s not that kind of fight. I think we should expect this to continue until Israel stops its current fighting in Gaza.


  • I agree with Andy that we arent as good as Iran with proxies

    Just why that is is complicated but I suspect that one of the factors is that U. S. general officers tend to be deeply distrustful of effective militaries anywhere except here.

  • steve Link

    That’s an underlying part of it I think. Also, as Andy noted the Army spec ops guys used to be devoted to working closely with the militaries and paramilitaries of our groups/nations we favored. They learned the languages and customs of those groups so they could work with them, at least enough to do so. My sense is that is not so much a priority anymore and the special ops guys are now trained to be the super soldiers who work behind the lines. I think it’s also harder to have proxies when no one likes you very much which I think is true in the ME. SA depends upon us for arms and they are glad to have us oppose Iran but they make a piss poor proxy as their militaries kind fo suck.


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