My Cardboard Box

Diamond Cutter Warfare

with 6 comments

Senator Joe Lieberman was on the right track when he said the United States should consider a military strike against Iran. The problem is, such a strike may end up resembling President Clinton’s ‘Tomahawks’ against Tents’ attack. A nice, symbolic smack, but doing nothing substantive. What may be needed is something larger and more complex.

No- not nukes against Tehran and Qom, like certain wannabe Clauswitzes advocate. More like a campaign of overt and covert warfare, and even encompassing Governor Richardson’s fetish for sanctions. The objective? Inflict enough pain at the right points to make the two major power-factions in Iran recoil, and perhaps even knock them off their respective thrones if struck correctly. Call it Diamond Cutter Warfare.

The Background

The two power factions in Iran are the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC or Pasdaran) and the ruling clerics. According to the Iranian constitution, the former was intended to protect and preserve the Revolution and to assist the latter in the enforcing Islamic codes and morality. It also has the duties of exporting and advancing the objectives of the Revolution. It also functions as the political-officer force in the Iranian military.

What has happened over the years is that the IRGC has become an independent force of its own and considers itself to be the rightful inheritors of the Revolutionary-crown due to the corruption of the theocracy. Corruption is a way of life in the Middle East. In my limited experience, the Iranians are no slouches in seeing an ethically-doubtful economic advantage and making full use of it. The mullahs, until perhaps recently, largely controlled Iran’s economy and wealth.

But the IRGC seeing the beam in the mullahs’ eyes, has somehow decided that a similar one in their own would be a nice fashion accessory. Journalist Amir Teheri has reported that the Revolutionary Guards may now be the economic and monetary elite. They are the ones who’ve essentially placed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power. And it is their earnings (minus a percentage for personal use, of course) that funds the IRGC’s efforts,

The mullahs, in return, have established a domestic counter-force drawn from ‘loyal’ Pasdaran and the Baseej, or volunteers. Like the IRGC, the Baseej are drawn from the rural parts of Iran. But there are also ‘Islamic volunteers’ such as Chechens, Afghanis, Palestinians, Pakistanis, and those of the Balkan regions. The mullah’s counter-force functions as an Interior police force, enforcing Islamic law (previously the sole domain of the IRGC) and shutting down internal unrest. The Baseej (or Basij) are headed by a civilian appointed by the clerics, not by a member of the IRGC. In essence, the clerics have attempted to circumvent the IRGC’s power domestically.

This intra-mural conflict has also extended to the economic sector as well. The Iranian Parliament may pass laws, but they are vetted by a Guardians Council, which if I interpret correctly, is essentially controlled by the clerics. If that’s the case, then passing rationing over the IRGC-backed President’s objections was partly based on intra-mural politics as well as economic factors.

So with this Heaven-On-Earth briefly explained, how does a Diamond Cutter approach fit in?

The Approach – Financial Strangulation

The first set of objectives are to get the IRGC to stop their endeavors in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. To do that, the IRGC needs to be crippled militarily, politically, and economically – and all at the same time. Basically it’s using the IRGC’s preferred method of low-intensity operations and proxy wars against them, combined with denying them the funds to carry out their activities and causing them to lose popular support, and taking additional action that make the IRGC politically weak .

We’ve already seen the start of the latter portion. The expulsion of Afghani refugees from rural, eastern Iran (some who have been in Iran for years) is partly due to Iran’s claim of economic problems. While this might be an excuse, it may be a valid enough one. Iran has had rows with Russia over the Bushehr reactor. Iranian companies are having trouble getting funding and letters of credit (needed for the import and export of goods) because banks are leery of getting in trouble with the U.S. Treasury. This, combined with an aging petroleum industry and already high unemployment, is already having an effect. The recent decision to introduce gasoline rationing (instead of boosting the price) may be a multi-reasoned decision, but it certainly will put the brakes on the Iranian economy.

Iran has long had financial problems. Again, the rural areas are where both the IRGC and the mullahs have their base of support. If the IRGC and the mullahs cannot take care of their base, they’ll lose that support.

Next time, The Chisel.


Written by PappyBro

July 1, 2007 at 10:12

Posted in Politix, Uncategorized, WoT

6 Responses

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  1. While a combination of overt and warfare may be a good idea anyway against the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism, I doubt unless we maintain a high tempo of operation, that too will only wind up being like one of Clinton’s “hit a camel in the butt with a missile” strike.

    I can’t nor can this author name one instance of a regime change or a change of behavior that resulted in a complete regime change from such secondary measures. Most people in a dictatorship are cowed and scared and unlikely to participate in toppling a fascist government regardless of whether they have concluded they too can have a say in how their nation is run.

    Unless our national policy is invasion for the purposes of regime change, most of this will wind up being target practice for our own military, not a bad training idea, but obviously not enough power to invoke a regime change.

    No, I do not advocate a nuke strike, but I do advocate a limited air campiagn with the express purpose of degrading or destroying Iran’s ability to wage nuclear war against the non-Muslim world. The nuke reactors, the fuel processing plants, as well as the rest of the alpha and omega of having a nuclear force, all of it must go, regime change or not, clearly stated as policy, and before Iranian missiles start to fly.


    July 1, 2007 at 10:32

  2. Nice opening, Pappy 😉

    Financial operations won’t be enough but it’s a good start. What’s needed are operations ala Bill Casey (there’s a man who knew how to keep his mouth shut). Quiet, effective, deniable work to exacerbate the financial operations will help bring the Mad Mullahs™ down.

    Example: while financial pressure keeps Iran from expanding its oil fields and pumping capacity, an ‘unfortunate accident’ in the single domestic gasoline refinery would worsen the already bad problem with gasoline rationing. That could help destabilize the country more. A sufficient ‘accident’ wouldn’t be reparable, at least not quickly, given the financial pressure that keeps the Iranians from getting spare parts on the open market.

    One strategy thus complements the other. Just a thought.

    Steve White

    July 1, 2007 at 11:32

  3. Very good background, Pappy — well worth waiting for. Lots of meat, for which I thank you. I’ll be back to re-read this a few more times to make sure I absorb all the details.

    trailing wife

    July 1, 2007 at 13:26

  4. hey Pappy. Nice work!

    Frank G

    July 2, 2007 at 15:41

  5. Did the Baseej have any part in the II War?


    July 2, 2007 at 15:50

  6. You mean the Iran-Iraq War? Yes, but as cannon-fodder and mine-clearers. Many of the Baseej were older children and young teens. Essentially they were human shields for the advancing Iranian troops.

    As for mine clearing – I’ve a story somewhere about a young Baseej survivor saying his group was handed plastic keys (the ‘Key to Paradise’) to hang around their necks before they marched across a minefield.


    July 3, 2007 at 23:17

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