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Why The U.S. Would be Ill-Advised to Go to War with Iran

The following quotes come from the website, “What is Happening in America?” at http://www.freewebs.com/truthseeker22. They give perhaps the most compelling reasons why the United States would suffer greatly, perhaps irrecoverably, if it went to war with Iran.

Allegation: The U.S. is Imperilled by the Sunburn Cruise Missile

Still, Yahya Rahim Safavi of the Revolutionary Guard said Wednesday that Iranian missiles can hit warships anywhere in the Persian Gulf, where the United States has a carrier battle group. (Robin Wright, “Allies Fear U.S. Stance on Iran,” Global Research, 16 Aug. 2007; originally published in the Washington Post, downloaded from http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6574, 14 Sept. 2007.)

It is Iran’s missile armaments that pose the greatest concern for American forces in the Gulf, especially for the US Navy. Iran’s coast facing the Persian Gulf is a looming wall of mountains that look down upon any naval forces arrayed in those waters. The Gulf itself only has one exit, the Strait of Hormuz, which is also dominated by the mountainous Iranian coastline. In essence, Iran holds the high ground in the Gulf. Missile batteries arrayed in those mountains could raise bloody havoc with any fleet deployed below.

Of all the missiles in Iran’s armament, the most dangerous is the Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn. These missiles are, simply, the fastest anti-ship weapons on the planet. The Sunburn can reach Mach 3 at high altitude. Its maximum low-altitude speed is Mach 2.2, some three times faster than the American-made Harpoon. The Sunburn takes two short minutes to cover its full range. The missile’s manufacturers state that one or two missiles could cripple a destroyer, and five missiles could sink a 20,000 ton ship. The Sunburn is also superior to the Exocet missile. Recall that it was two Exocets that ripped the USS Stark to shreds in 1987, killing 37 sailors. The Stark could not see them to stop them.

The US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf, with some 7,000 souls aboard. Sailing with the Roosevelt is the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Force, which includes the USS Tarawa, the USS Austin, and the USS Pearl Harbor. The USS Austin is likewise deployed in the Gulf. The Sunburn missile, with its incredible speed and ability to avoid radar detection, would do terrible damage these ships if Iran chooses to retaliate in the Gulf after an American attack within its borders. (William Rivers Pitts, “Attack on Iran: A Looming Folly,” Truthout.org, 9 Jan. 2006., downloaded from http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/48/16812, 11 Sept. 2007.)

Last July, they dubbed it operation Summer Pulse: a simultaneous mustering of US Naval forces, world wide, that was unprecedented. According to the Navy, it was the first exercise of its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP), the purpose of which was to enable the Navy to respond quickly to an international crisis. The Navy wanted to show its increased force readiness, that is, its capacity to rapidly move combat power to any global hot spot. Never in the history of the US Navy had so many carrier battle groups been involved in a single operation. …

Summer Pulse amounted to a tacit acknowledgement, obvious to anyone paying attention, that the United States has been eclipsed in an important area of military technology, and that this qualitative edge is now being wielded by others, including the Chinese; because those otherwise very ordinary destroyers were, in fact, launching platforms for Russian-made 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship cruise missiles (NATO designation: SS-N-22 Sunburn), a weapon for which the US Navy currently has no defense. Here I am not suggesting that the US status of lone world Superpower has been surpassed. I am simply saying that a new global balance of power is emerging, in which other individual states may, on occasion, achieve “an asymmetric advantage” over the US. And this, in my view, explains the immense scale of Summer Pulse. The US show last summer of overwhelming strength was calculated to send a message. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded fromhttp://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

The SS-N-22 Sunburn … has been called “the most lethal missile in the world today.” (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded fromhttp://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

In the late1990s Moscow awakened to the under-utilized potential of its missile technology to generate desperately needed foreign exchange. A decision was made to resuscitate selected programs, and, very soon, Russian missile technology became a hot export commodity. Today, Russian missiles are a growth industry generating much-needed cash for Russia, with many billions in combined sales to India, China, Viet Nam, Cuba, and also Iran. In the near future this dissemination of advanced technology is likely to present serious challenges to the US. Some have even warned that the US Navy’s largest ships, the massive carriers, have now become floating death traps, and should for this reason be mothballed. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

The 1987 surprise attack on the Stark exemplifies the dangers posed by anti-ship cruise missiles. And the dangers are much more serious in the case of the Sunburn, whose specs leave the sub-sonic Exocet in the dust. Not only is the Sunburn much larger and faster, it has far greater range and a superior guidance system. Those who have witnessed its performance trials invariably come away stunned. According to one report, when the Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani visited Moscow in October 2001 he requested a test firing of the Sunburn, which the Russians were only too happy to arrange. So impressed was Ali Shamkhani that he placed an order for an undisclosed number of the missiles. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes “violent end maneuvers” to elude enemy defenses. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

Let us pray that the US sailors who are unlucky enough to be on duty in the Persian Gulf when the shooting starts can escape the fate of the Roman army at Cannae. The odds will be heavily against them, however, because they will face the same type of danger, tantamount to envelopment. The US ships in the Gulf will already have come within range of the Sunburn missiles and the even more-advanced SS-NX-26 Yakhonts missiles, also Russian-made (speed: Mach 2.9; range: 180 miles) deployed by the Iranians along the Gulf’s northern shore. Every US ship will be exposed and vulnerable. When the Iranians spring the trap, the entire lake will become a killing field. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

Try and imagine it if you can: barrage after barrage of Exocet-class missiles, which the Iranians are known to possess in the hundreds, as well as the unstoppable Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles. The questions that our purblind government leaders should be asking themselves, today, if they value what historians will one day write about them, are two: how many of the Russian anti-ship missiles has Putin already supplied to Iran? And: How many more are currently in the pipeline?

In 2001, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that Iran was attempting to acquire anti-ship missiles from Russia. Ominously, the same report also mentioned that the more advanced Yakhonts missile was “optimized for attacks against carrier task forces.” Apparently its guidance system is “able to distinguish an aircraft carrier from its escorts.” The numbers were not disclosed.

The US Navy will come under fire even if the US does not participate in the first so-called surgical raids on Iran’s nuclear sites, that is, even if Israel goes it alone. Israel’s brand-new fleet of 25 F-15s (paid for by American taxpayers) has sufficient range to target Iran, but the Israelis cannot mount an attack without crossing US-occupied Iraqi air space. It will hardly matter if Washington gives the green light, or is dragged into the conflict by a recalcitrant Israel.

Either way, the result will be the same. The Iranians will interpret US acquiescence as complicity, and, in any event, they will understand that the real fight is with the Americans. The Iranians will be entirely within their rights to counter-attack in self-defense. Most of the world will see it this way, and will support them, not America. The US and Israel will be viewed as the aggressors, even as the unfortunate US sailors in harm’s way become cannon fodder. In the Gulf’s shallow and confined waters evasive maneuvers will be difficult, at best, and escape impossible. Even if US planes control of the skies over the battlefield, the sailors caught in the net below will be hard-pressed to survive. The Gulf will run red with American blood.

From here, it only gets worse. Armed with their Russian-supplied cruise missiles, the Iranians will close the lake’s only outlet, the strategic Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the trapped and dying Americans from help and rescue. The US fleet massing in the Indian Ocean will stand by helplessly, unable to enter the Gulf to assist the survivors or bring logistical support to the other US forces on duty in Iraq. Couple this with a major new ground offensive by the Iraqi insurgents, and, quite suddenly, the tables could turn against the Americans in Baghdad. As supplies and ammunition begin to run out, the status of US forces in the region will become precarious. The occupiers will become the besieged.

With enough anti-ship missiles, the Iranians can halt tanker traffic through Hormuz for weeks, even months. With the flow of oil from the Gulf curtailed, the price of a barrel of crude will skyrocket on the world market. Within days the global economy will begin to grind to a halt. Tempers at an emergency round-the-clock session of the UN Security Council will flare and likely explode into shouting and recriminations as French, German, Chinese and even British ambassadors angrily accuse the US of allowing Israel to threaten world order. But, as always, because of the US veto the world body will be powerless to act… America will stand alone, completely isolated. (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

The attack is possible because of these missiles, as well as the location. The US Fifth fleet sits in the Persian Gulf – which is a small bay surrounded by rugged mountains and a 20-mile-wide entrance. These missiles are unstoppable, and the 5th fleet is in range of Iran’s land facilities. …

Specs

The Raduga Moskit anti-ship missile is perhaps the most lethal anti-ship missile in the world. The MOSKIT is designed to fly as low as 9 feet at over 1,500 miles per hour, faster than a rifle bullet. The missile uses a violent pop-up maneuver for its terminal approach to throw off Phalanx and other anti-missile defense.

Warhead – 200 KILOTON NUCLEAR

Range – 90 MILES

Size – 31.9 FEET

Speed – MACH 2.5 AT SEA LEVEL …

The attack is possible because of these missiles, as well as the location. The US Fifth fleet sits in the Persian Gulf – which is a small bay surrounded by rugged mountains and a 20-mile-wide entrance. These missiles are unstoppable, and the 5th fleet is in range of Iran’s land facilities.

Sunburn Missile

Specs

The Raduga Moskit anti-ship missile is perhaps the most lethal anti-ship missile in the world. The MOSKIT is designed to fly as low as 9 feet at over 1,500 miles per hour, faster than a rifle bullet. The missile uses a violent pop-up maneuver for its terminal approach to throw off Phalanx and other anti-missile defense.

Warhead – 200 KILOTON NUCLEAR

Range – 90 MILES

Size – 31.9 FEET

Speed – MACH 2.5 AT SEA LEVEL

The Yahont, Yakhont, or Yakhonts Missile

SS-NX-26 Yakhonts

The Yakhonts 26 replaces the Sunburn 22. There is absolutely no way to avoid the missile. …

Iran has already calculated their response, and they realize their only option is a massive attack. Iran is sitting on a stockpile of Exocet, Sunburn 22 and SS-NX-26 Yakhonts missiles. The Fifth Fleet sits at Qatar, and it is within range of the Sunburn-22 and Yakhonts. Iran is said to have commercial freighters equipped with Exocets that will be in port at the time. Once Israel hits the US carrier (similar to the USS Liberty) then Iran will have no choice but to defend itself.

The 5th Fleet sits in a lake surrounded by Iran’s rugged mountains, and will be decimated by the missiles. The US fleet will arrive in the Indian Ocean, but will be helpless because the straits of Hormuz will be showered by a Phalanx of hundreds of Exocets. …

Straits Of Hormuz

The occupiers will become the besieged The US will be cornered – if they try to escape, they will be slaughtered in the Straits of Hormuz. With Iran’s enormous missile capability, the US will have two choices – either go to the UN for peace, or escalate to an all-out nuclear attack on Iran.

Flow Of Oil Stops

With enough anti-ship missiles, the Iranians can halt tanker traffic through Hormuz for weeks, even months. With the flow of oil from the Gulf curtailed, the price of a barrel of crude will skyrocket on the world market. Within days, the global economy will begin to grind to a halt. (“Iran has Nuclear Ambitions and Israel says “No. downloaded from http://judicial-inc.biz/Sunburn_Missile.htm, 10 Sept. 2007. Also see “The Coming Showdown with Iran” at http://72.52.208.92/~gbpprorg/judicial-inc/Sunburn_Missile.htm.)

[Ed. Imaginary second day of war with Iran:] By the second day, the message became clearer: Iran was no longer the pushover of years past. The combined effect of Sunburn, Exocet and Yakhonts missiles striking several US Navy ships fleeing the fishbowl of the Persian Gulf was an unforgettable sight. So unforgettable that CNN and Fox chose not to show them. (Douglas Hermann, “ Aftermath: Day 2 of the War With Iran,” Strike the Root, downloaded from http://www.strike-the-root.com/71/herman/herman2.html, 10 Sept. 2007.)

We saw the Hizbollah Chinese silkworm missile take out that Israeli destroyer off the coast of Lebanon last summer. Well imagine Iran doing that to an aircraft carrier in the Gulf? (Francis A. Boyle in“Francis A. Boyle on US Press re Iran and Potential US Attack on Iran,” 14 Sept. 2007, AfterDowningStreet,org, originally www.talknationradio.com, downloaded from http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/26741, 14 Sept. 2007.)

Allegation: The U.S. Phalanx Defence System Cannot Stop an Incoming Sunburn Missile

The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise coordinates to destroy an intruder “just in time.” (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn – Iran’s Awesome Nuclear Anti-Ship Missile. The Weapon that Could Defeat the US in the Gulf,” Rense.com, 2 November 2004, downloaded from http://www.rense.com/general59/theSunburniransawesome.htm, 10 Sept. 2007.)

In May 2007, Fallon Nixes an Invasion of Iran

WASHINGTON – Admiral William Fallon, then President George W. Bush’s nominee to head the Central Command (CENTCOM), expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking.

Fallon’s resistance to the proposed deployment of a third aircraft carrier was followed by a shift in the Bush administration’s Iran policy in February and March away from increased military threats and toward diplomatic engagement with Iran. That shift, for which no credible explanation has been offered by administration officials, suggests that Fallon’s resistance to a crucial deployment was a major factor in the intra-administration struggle over policy toward Iran.

The plan to add a third carrier strike group in the Gulf had been a key element in a broader strategy discussed at high levels to intimidate Iran by a series of military moves suggesting preparations for a military strike.

Admiral Fallon’s resistance to a further buildup of naval striking power in the Gulf apparently took the Bush administration by surprise. Fallon, then Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, had been associated with naval aviation throughout his career, and last January, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates publicly encouraged the idea that the appointment presaged greater emphasis on the military option in regard to the U.S. conflict with Iran. ….

Fallon’s refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”.

Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.” …

CENTCOM commander Fallon’s refusal to request the deployment of a third carrier strike group meant that proceeding with that option would carry political risks. The administration chose not to go ahead with the plan. Two days before the Nimitz sailed out of San Diego for the Gulf on Apr. 1, a Navy spokesman confirmed that it would replace the Eisenhower, adding, “There is no plan to overlap them at all.”

The defeat of the plan for a third carrier task group in the Gulf appears to have weakened the position of Cheney and other hawks in the administration who had succeeded in selling Bush on the idea of a strategy of coercive threat against Iran.

Within two weeks, the administration’s stance had already begun to shift dramatically. On Jan. 12, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had dismissed direct talks with Iran in the absence of Tehran’s suspension of its uranium enrichment programme as “extortion”. But by the end of February, Rice had gotten authorisation for high level diplomatic contacts with Iran in the context of a regional meeting on Iraq in Baghdad.

The explanation for the shift offered by administration officials to the New York Times was that the administration now felt that it “had leverage” on Iran. But that now appears to have been a cover for a retreat from the more aggressive strategy previously planned.

Throughout March and April, the Bush administration avoided aggressive language and the State Department openly sought diplomatic engagement with Iran, culminating in the agreement confirmed by U.S. officials last weekend that bilateral talks will begin with Iran on Iraq.

Despite Vice President Dick Cheney’s invocation of the military option from the deck of the USS John C. Stennis in the Persian Gulf last week, the strategy of escalating a threat of war to influence Iran has been put on the shelf, at least for now. (Gareth Porter, “CENTCOM Commander’s Veto Sank Bush’s Threatening Gulf Buildup,” Commondreams, 15 May 2007, downloaded from http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/15/1212/, 11 Sept. 2007.)

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  1. Too many outright errors in this post to even begin to counter them … but one that is obvious is the idea that the Phalanx require “precise coordinates” to engage a missile … that is nonsense on stilts to say the least …

    The assumption that these missiles get to sneak up of US ships is pure nonsense … they have to be launched and that launch can easily be detected by AWACS or HawkEyes even if it is “skimming” …

    ECM measures can make the missile’s ability to find a target very, very difficult …

    Any sort of high-altitude approach allows for very long range detection … and its own seeker can allow for detection at ranges greater than 50 miles …