The Pas de Calais Factor
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor
"In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory." Sun Tzu - "The Art of War."
It is a generally-accepted principle of war, going all the way back to Sun Tzu, that says it is never a good idea to telegraph your intentions to the enemy.
During the Second World War, the Allies launched an elaborate campaign to convince the Germans that the Allied landing in Europe would take place at Pas de Calais, rather than Normandy.
The Germans knew the invasion was coming. All of England had been converted into a giant military staging area.
What the Germans didn't know was exactly where, or exactly when. That information was critical to the success or failure of the invasion.
So the idea was to trick the Germans into reinforcing Pas de Calais, which would divert forces away from the Normandy landing zone.
The Allies even set up a phantom 'army' of rubber blowup tanks and trucks in northern England across from Calais.
They leaked a report that General George Patton would be commanding the invasion force, which the Germans expected would launch sometime in September.
Patton was dispatched to northern England, where his speeches and appearances were widely covered by the English press.
The Germans were ultimately so convinced that the real landing would take place up the coast, hundreds of miles from Normandy, that when the Normandy landings began, Hitler ordered his reserves away from the landing zone to reinforce Pas de Calais and wait for Patton.
Like Hitler in early June, 1944, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows that an attack is coming. He knows that the Israelis cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
He knows what his intentions are, and Ahmadinejad knows how he would react if the shoe were on the other foot and it was Iran facing the prospect of nuclear annihilation.
But Ahmadinejad doesn't know when. He doesn't know where. And he doesn't know who. Not for sure. As in 1944, that information is critical to the success or failure of any attack against Iran's facilities.
And the genius of locating Iran's nuclear facilities in sites spread all across Iran is also Iran's Achilles' Heel. Israel needn't destroy every single facility to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, has to protect them all.
US Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen just returned from a fact-finding mission to Israel. The 'fact' he was looking for was whether or not Israel intended to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
But whether or not he found that missing fact is not something he was prepared to share with the public.
"I won't discuss the details of the concerns they expressed nor will I comment one way or another about the speculation surrounding Israeli intentions," he said upon his return.
That could mean almost anything, but Mullen made no secret of the Pentagon's preferred scenario.
"Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us," Mullen acknowledged during a Pentagon news conference. He added moments later, "This is a very unstable part of the world, and I don't need it to be more unstable."
Madman Imadinnerjacket has repeatedly promised to retaliate against the United States in the event of an Israeli attack.
So, in the event Israel does sent its air force after Iran's nuclear sites, it will open up the third front Admiral Mullen is worried about, whether the US is involved in the attack or not.
Reluctant warrior or no, Admiral Mullen did endorse comments made Wednesday by Admiral Kevin Cosgriff about the US response should Iran attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz.
If Iran closes the Straits, the US will reopen them again under new management.
According to a report in Bill Gertz' World Tribune, Israel has signaled that it will not attack Iran in 2008.
An (unnamed) Israeli official told Gertz that; "There will not be any operation in 2008," the official said. "An operation such as this must be coordinated ó at least with the United States."
Unnamed official or not, Bill Gertz has an impressive track record of getting it right. And, it makes strategic sense. Particularly in light of Admiral Mullen's unprecedented announcement that the US will stand down because it can't sustain a third front.
If true, then Mullen has just given Iran a 'green light'. Ahmadinejad's threat to treat an attack by Israel as an attack by the United States will draw the US into the war -- and Mullen has just said America can't afford that scenario.
It is therefore logical for Ahmadinejad to assume that Washington will restrain Jerusalem from attacking by blocking Israel from overflying Iraqi airspace and refusing military cooperation.
It appears that Iran also sees Mullen's comments as an admission the US has been running a bluff. Iran's foreign minister said in an AP interview published today that the prospect of an attack against Iran is 'craziness'.
"We do not foresee such a possibility at the moment. The Israeli government is facing a political breakdown within itself and within the region, so we do not foresee such a possibility for that regime to resort to such craziness," he said.
Referencing Admiral Mullen's remarks, he added, "The United States, too, is not in a position where it can engage in, take another risk in the region."
Iran clearly believes that it is sitting in the cat bird's seat on this one. The United States is in the midst of a general election. Israel's government is on the verge of collapse under the weight of multiple criminal investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
And the Iranians have been listening closely to Barack Obama, whom they clearly believe will be the next occupant of the Oval Office.
"Of course, there are people in the United States who are interested in that. But we think that the rational thinkers in the United States will prevent from that action being taken, and will prevent the imposition of another adventuresome act that would put pressure on the American taxpayers," concludes Iran's foreign minister.
There is rampant speculation that Israel will wait until the November elections before launching an airstrike to keep from influencing the US general election.
If McCain wins, the thinking goes, Israel will stand down and let the US take the lead. So if McCain wins in November, then the Iranians can relax, at least for the few months necessary to get their SA-22 anti-aircraft missile batteries operational and their crews trained.
If Obama wins, Israel will strike before Obama takes the oath of office on January 20th. So, if Obama wins, the Iranians believe they have the answers to at least two of the three critical questions; who (the Israelis) and when (a slim window of time between November 5 and January 20th)
I don't necessarily believe that an Obama victory will give Iran the security it is anticipating. There are two ways to look at how an Obama presidency would handle Iran.
The first is to listen to Obama's rhetoric and believe he really means it. In that case, if Israel doesn't take out Iran's nuke sites, it's doomed. Obama has spent the last three years establishing his credentials as an anti-warrior.
The second is to look at Obama through the prism of history. When Bill Clinton was running against the elder George Bush, he also ran against a war time president on a platform of replacing war with diplomacy.
And, like Obama, Clinton was pilloried by the Right as just another '60's antiwarrior. Add to that the fact that Obama has proved as adept at changing his core values to fit the opinion polls as Bill Clinton ever was.
Once in office, Clinton set out to rehabilitate his reputation as a draft-dodging Lefty Liberal, particularly in the wake of the Somalia debacle. Within a year, Clinton ordered a Tomahawk strike against Saddam Hussein. His approval rating soared.
If Barack Obama takes the oath of office in 2009, he will be still be the guy whose first name rhymes with Osama, whose middle name is 'Hussein' and whose father and step-father were Muslims.
Obama will have a lot to prove, just like Clinton did. And nothing establishes a presidential legacy like a righteous war and a swift victory.
There is at least a better-than-even chance that an Obama administration would be even more aggressive than a McCain presidency.
As to the overall Big Picture, I would again refer to history as our guide. All the signs seem to point toward a stand-down with Iran.
Admiral Mullen's comments that the US can't sustain a third front suggest there will be no third front this year.
Israel's assurances that it won't attack Iran in 2008 suggest that Israel is going to wait until after the new administration, whoever it may be, has settled in to office.
If Iran's foreign minister is to be believed, then Iran is convinced that both the US and Israel are too fractured and politically divided at the moment to either launch or sustain a war with Iran.
Added together, it sounds a lot like Patton's Sixth Army is making preparations to invade Pas de Calais.
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