A great Prussian general, Helmuth von Moltke, wrote in 1880 that & # 39; no plan survives the first contact with the enemy & # 39 ;.
This has not stopped America's warlike National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and prepared an extraordinary blueprint for war with Iran – apparently behind the back of his boss, Donald Trump.
The president has repeatedly made clear how little taste he has for foreign intervention, even though he is only to blame for the current fragile confrontation with the mullahs.
National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, has made a blueprint for the war against Iran – apparently behind the back of the president, Donald Trump, left
According to the plan, air strikes would be conducted from US bases and aircraft carriers such as the USS Abraham Lincoln, currently at the station in the Arabian Sea
Yet Bolton, an ultra-hawk, has long been pushed for war with Iran – and concerned Pentagon sources have revealed that Bolton worked behind closed doors to cause this catastrophe.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that Bolton has prepared a campaign with enormous firepower, armed uprising and a military blockade to leave Iran in chaos.
US air strikes and naval cruise missiles would destroy Iranian air-to-air batteries, Pentagon sources say, while the US Navy would block all cargo.
The Iranian oil-producing infrastructure and transportation would be destroyed and oil exports – already severely restricted due to US sanctions – would virtually disappear.
Bolton can be a loose cannon, but his freelance combat plans are not a whim. A power vacuum in the Pentagon has enabled him to help senior advisors from the US Department of Defense come up with it. The war blueprint is indeed very serious. And in the current feverish climate it wouldn't cost much to implement it – with all the terrible consequences that entails.
The plan has seen planes such as these Air Force F-22 Raptors first deployed in Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
There would be no invasion of Iran, no US troops on the ground. Pentagon sources say the immediate target does not & # 39; regime change & # 39; but & # 39; chaos regime & # 39; would be. Bolton wants Iran to become unmanageable, not pose a threat to its neighbors and be ready for a popular uprising.
He foresees that, in addition to launching the missiles, US agents would incite Arab and Kurdish resistance groups and provide them with weapons, training and intelligence. Resistance groups would tie up regular Iranian forces and leave government forces open for some euphemistic & # 39; precision strike & # 39; is called.
These armed groups would include The People's Mujahideen, an Islamo-Marxist terrorist sect who has repeatedly murdered regime officials in Iran. Bolton's relationship with the Mujahideen was lucrative – he paid $ 40,000 per speech to tackle their demonstrations.
According to Bolton, the speed of the US attack would make any effective response impossible and the Iranian regime would be completely focused on maintaining itself in the midst of confusion.
Bolton's plan depends on the US Air Force and on encouraging opposition rebellions in Iran. He doesn't want to put American troops on the ground
State repression would increase and that would in turn fuel the unrest among the population. Of course, Bolton – who has not served his own country in Vietnam – thinks that the US could easily dictate the course of a conflict and its outcome.
He is optimistic. The enemy always gets a say – and Iran has been preparing for such a war for years.
There is no indication that the Iranian regime is willing to swing or that it will neutralize its entire foreign policy, as America demands. In fact, Iran has been sending out signals for months that it has the capacity to hit back. When it recently shot a Global Hawk surveillance drone, the largest in the US arsenal, it was able to do this with one of its own nationally produced Khordad 3 rockets.
Iran has unmanned drones and has also adopted counter-drone technology, probably from China.
The Iranians have recently shot down an American surveillance drone with the help of their locally produced Khordad 3 rockets
Although the US has much more firepower than Iran, the Iranians are experts in what is called asymmetrical warfare, where the regime tries to hurt America and its allies and avoid a simple fight. It has important cyber warfare capabilities that it has sometimes used to disable Saudi Aramco's main operating computers, the national oil company of its enemy, Saudi Arabia.
The Iranian Navy and the Revolutionary Guards have purchased fast, light ships that they want to use against enemy ships or maybe even commercial shipping, either by firing rockets or constructing limpet mines.
They could easily stop traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, where the canal narrows to a & # 39; lane & # 39; two miles wide. Two recent occasions have blamed Iranian commands for attaching mines to tankers in the Gulf – a reminder that much of the world's oil supply could be turned off like a tap.
Iran can rely on a number of client militias and proxy forces in the wider Middle East.
These include Shia militia in Iraq and the mighty Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has fought alongside the Revolutionary Guard in Syria. Then there is the Yemeni Houthi, who are waging a guerrilla war against Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners (armed by the US and Great Britain).
Iran has a large number of light, fast attack boats that can cause chaos in the Strait of Hormuz – the bottleneck in the Persian Gulf where much of the world's oil is transported on large tankers
While Hezbollah would be reluctant to start another war with neighboring Israel, the Houthi can easily fire ballistic missiles into America's ally, Saudi Arabia. This month, the Houthi said they were planning to hit 300 Saudi targets and have attacked a commercial airport and a desalination plant so far. Saudi oil pumping stations are main goals.
Iran will not be a blow to all of John Bolton's aggression. And it has had enough time to prepare.
Few wise people want a war in the Persian Gulf, but it can break out at any time due to design or miscalculation, and Bolton's war piety makes such a catastrophe all the more likely.
So what can be done to stop it?
First of all, European governments must be much more active in defending the nuclear deal that Iran has signed with the leading world powers and that America has abolished on behalf of its Israeli, Emirati and Saudi allies. China and Russia should be encouraged to make a common cause and face Trump in the interests of peace and stability.
Britain and Europe must continue to relieve economic pressure on Iran, which last week decided not to increase the production of enriched uranium – a small sign of success.
But the biggest threat to the security of the region and the lives of thousands – not to mention the global economy – lies in the person of John Bolton, a man who convinced Trump that Iran should be punished, even while America was being punished. the Saudi & # 39; s snuggles. Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, a man who literally escaped murder in the case of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
That is why it is time for Bolton to be fired – for exceeding his advice as nothing else. The way would be clear for Trump to talk to the Iranians, who, unlike Kim Jong Un, do not have dozens of warheads in their arsenal.
There are already diplomatic channels in Oman that can be used to initiate such talks as they were before the nuclear deal.
Trump knows very well that he was elected in 2016 to prevent America wasting blood and treasures on endless wars in the Middle East. His voters feel strongly about that. Faced with next year's re-election, Trump would do well to recall the words of Helmuth von Moltke.
Moreover, what greater achievement could he make than put an end to decades of useless confrontation with Iran? Rejecting an advisor trying to stir up a war that nobody wants – and that America cannot win – seems to be a small prize.
- Michael Burleigh is Engelsberg president of History and International Affairs, LSE Ideas.
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