My Cardboard Box

An Open Letter to the Rantburg Generals

with one comment

stooge-rifles.jpgYou say you want a few Iranian mullahs assassinated. “Wipe out the mullahcracy – democracy will spring forth”. Sounds nice and simple, doesn’t it?

To do that, you’ll need to know who the mullahs are, where the mullahs are, what their pattern of travel is, how important in the grand Iranian scheme of things they are, and a logistics system for whomever or whatever you use to assassinate the mullahs.

The first bit of reality is – you aren’t going to get all the mullahs at once. Even if there was an event that required them to all gather together, some are going to be ill, some are not going to attend due to situations beyond their control, and some will be told to ‘stay home’. That leaves only getting some of them. Coming right on the heels of this is reality bit number two: some mullahs are more important than others. A mullah who is senile and drooling in his beard isn’t as high value a target as, say, a mullah directly involved with the Baseej. If you kill the senile one, the other will go into hiding.

So you need intelligence. Some of it can be data mining and various types of analysis. That’s a U.S. strong point. But it’s also limited; Iran is a closed-mouthed country. For example, no is really sure what percentage of the population is unemployed, or addicted, or can be counted upon during the early stages of a nation-wide revolution. In the same vein, you can’t be sure that Mullah Understani (who gets all the headlines) isn’t merely a figurehead of the Ministry to Get Nuclear Stuff from the DPRK and that Mullah Daddyola (who’s in charge of Custodians) isn’t the real boss. So you also need an in-country network to determine who’s really important and what maximum damage can be created by the death of a particular black-turban.

Is there an in-country network? The U.S. doesn’t have an official presence in Iran to set up a Cold-War style network. The Swiss (who more or less are the ‘interest section’) aren’t going to help. Likely any network existing before the revolution is dead or dismantled. It’s logical to assume that any intelligence network within Iran is likely, at this point, small in size and limited in trusted assets. And it will already have several and conflicting objectives. Little things like gathering information on Iran’s nuke program, support of the Iraqi Shiites and the Talibani, whether Russia is giving them more than lip-service, etc.

The third bit of reality is: your assets available to assassinate any designated mullahs will be limited. Regardless if it’s snipers, Hellfire-equipped UAVs, guided bombs from a B-52 – any support base for what assets you do have will also be limited and possibly dubious. You have to designate who and what agency or agencies will be responsible. You have to guard against rivalries, uncertain allies, in-country support that will be looking out for its own interests, and the very good possibility that your operation will be blown before the first memo leaves the printer. Iran is a good-sized country; mullahs are scattered all over it. The areas more likely to shelter them are also the ones that will have higher security. The idea of a high-value target in a remote villa is the stuff of movies.

This isn’t to say that such a thing as assassination isn’t desirable or un-doable. It just has to be weighed against what you have and what other items may have priority. Hell of a lot different than demanding it happen in a blog-comment.


Written by PappyBro

September 27, 2007 at 19:08

Posted in WoT

One Response

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  1. Iran is a very complex place with a spy system with long tentacles.

    I knew quite a few Iranians in the early 70s and I tried to tell “watchers of international house” at the university that I really looked to me like a revolution would happen.

    I was brushed off. In the mean time they used to come to me for help with little things they didn’t understand in our society. After the hostage event happened I remember telling them to cool it and laughing when they went to a bar on the wrong side of the tracks to yell about the Shah and got the shit kicked out of them….

    All that said, in the years since, when I have run into colorful Iranians they would always asked me questions that seemed like the mullahs were trying to figure out how Americans thought. The scary thing about it to me was that it implied their networks were huge in our technical infrastructure. These guys always worked their ways into key research or as world support guys that spent far to much career time in places like south America or Japan.

    I think we underestimate them too much!

    After OIF started (and just before my layoff) an Iranian from corporate research (in Schaumburg not AH) showed up at my cube one day to ask where I thought the end-game of the mid-east wars would end up. Argued with me about a lot of points then started explaining how a Shite could make deals with God. Very strange but I was busy with my own battles then. Looking back on it I surmise he was coached to ask me those questions. I had never talked politics with him before. Only business.

    The Iranians trouble me in the long term and the Pakis/Saudis in the short term. I have a feeling they pay very longterm games.


    September 27, 2007 at 21:01

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