Irrational War Games

U.S. Simulation Forecasts Perils of an Israeli Strike at Iran – NYTimes.com.

While reading about the results of the recent war games test I kept thinking of how the idea of Iran striking the U.S. Navy ship first seemed highly unlikely.  The article describes the scenario of an Iranian fighter chasing an Israeli fighter to the Persian Gulf then, I assume, breaking off to strike at the Navy ship stationed in the sea before that ship could strike Iran.  On the surface, the idea seems very plausible but would the Iranian leadership actually give this type of order for their troops to strike anything in sight without regard to the consequences?

I have to believe the answer is a very likely no.  We’ve seen plenty of headlines from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his questionable relationship with facts and reality.  But let’s remember one key point: he isn’t really in charge of Iran and we should not let our decision making get distorted by this fact.

Iran is clearly not delusional about the likelihood of a lopsided defeat in a war with Israel and the U.S.  Think about it.  If they were delusional, they would have invaded Israel already and would not even be in the conversation of countries potentially pursuing nuclear arms (something we still don’t know to be true because of a serious lack of intelligence as reported Sunday by the NY Times).

If you are Iran and you are basing your decision on recent history, would you intentionally pull the U.S. into a war started by Israel?  Iran watched its enemy, Iraq, unilaterally invade Kuwait then saw that government slowly get dismantled over the next fifteen years through two wars and sanctions by the U.S.  Keeping this in mind, Iran has to assume its only hope for surviving a war with the West would be sympathy from other world powers who then exert some influence over the U.S. to end the war early.

And the best way to get that type of sympathy?  Get invaded by Israel and then have the U.S. also strike Iran first.  At that point they look like the victim and countries like Russia and China have a reason to pressure the U.S. into a ceasefire.  Let’s not forget Iran looks even more like a victim if Israel does strike and finds no evidence of the nuclear material Iran has being used for military weaponry.

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