“War Is The Unfolding of Miscalculations”
That quote, attributed to author Barbara Tuchman, is generally ascribed to the events that ran up to the First World War. However, it, along with other illuminating principles such as the Rule of Unintended Consequences find a wider, and sadly, more common range of applications including those events presently underway. We offer this observation in light of the following items:

From the 08 Jun 2008 edition of Middle Eastern Times:

“Ahmadinejad is a former member of Al Quds, the revolutionary guards special forces that have been smuggling mortars, rockets and components for EFPs — explosively formed projectiles — that fire a slug of molten metal that penetrates armored vehicles.

Alarming, too, was last week’s deal that followed the Syrian defense minister’s visit to Tehran. Syria’s missile units are to be integrated under Al Quds’ missile section.” (emphasis added)

This, of course, from the same leader who that same week declared:

“I must announce that the Zionist regime (Israel), with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion, and betrayal, is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene. Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started.” (via the Mehr News Agency, affiliated with the Islamic Propagation Organization)

Following soon afterwards was the Israeli exercise over the Mediterranean, consisting of some 100-plus long-range strike F-15’s (the F-15I, a variation of the F-15E Strike Eagle), F-16’s (used in the Osiraq reactor strike) and SAR helos. The public details of the exercise, released by the US late in June, would seem to describe a practice or “mirror image” strike into Iran.

As these things are wont to do, each action has spurred a corresponding reaction – this past week the top IRGC commander, Mohammad-Ali Jafari, told the Iranian daily,Jam-e Jam, in an interview that “Israel is located entirely within the reach of our missiles. Our missile power is such that the Zionist regime, despite all its capabilities, would not be able to confront us.” In the same inteview he mentioned Iran’s intent to shutdown the Straits of Hormuz, cutting off the flow of oil out of the Gulf. On its part, the US has responded both verbally and via capabilities demonstrations.

Today comes word of a new round of major exercises, ‘Noble Prophet III’ (aka ‘Great Prophet Manoeuvres III’) under the auspicies of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, began yesterday. It is worth noting that the last such round of exercises saw a substantial play of SR- and MRBM firings, including an updated variant of the SHAHAB III.

This all, of course, centers mostly on Iran’s dogged pursuit of its domestic nuclear development program – for energy independence and/or to obtain a nuclear weapons capability. And while the NIE released late last year appeared to point in a different direction, recently the trend both in the US intelligence community and overseas seems to point to continued pursuit.

Which brings us back to the quote by Tuchman. When JFK assumed the Presidency, he read Tuchman’s book on WWI and encouraged his cabninet officers to read it to provide context to the emerging crisis in Cuba. Now, although recent research is starting to peel back the mythos surrounding the performance of the EXCOM during the crisis (and should be instructive as to the ability to manage crises), it still strikes us that the historical lesson from that enormous tragedy at the opening of the previous century would still find application today. However, as the author also ruefully noted elsewhere -“Learning from experience is a faculty almost never practiced.” Let us hope that is not the case as we head into a summer that, global warming claims aside, promises to be significantly hotter.

Updated – 9 July 08: Well, here we go again…and again.


  1. b2

    Read “Freeze for Freeze”


    The clock ticks. It’ll will be a real OT for our stuff and the IS stuff.


  2. JoeC

    Ahhh that pesky history…. It ALWAYS gets in the way of a good tale. As will ours get in the way of the tales in the future (I hope).

  3. dc

    Do we still have those Pershing Intermediate Range missiles?
    Maybe they are in mothballs, somewhere. I propose we dust ’em off and do a Lend Lease for a couple of years.

  4. Steeljawscribe

    Nope – long gone, along with the GLCM, SS-20 and the rest of the IRBM-class, insofar as the US and Russia/FSU are concerned. All part of the INF Treaty. The few examples left are museum pieces that were training aids (e.g., the SS-20 & Pershing II in the NASM on the Mall in DC).
    – SJS

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