The world according to John Bolton...
The world according to John Bolton... KREMLLgettyimages.com

Right after the National Security Advisor and hawk of hawks John Bolton failed in Venezuela, he turned Trump's attention back to Iran. He is now pushing hard for a war with that country. He has always wanted war with Iran. One suspects that the fall of American-supported dictator the Shah of Iran in 1979 was a traumatic experience for Bolton. At least, that is my theory. On January 16, 1979, Iran's Imperial Guardsmen wept as they watched the Shah board a plane and leave the country forever. It is not impossible imagine a young John Bolton—he was 30 at the time (mustache not white yet)—also shedding a tear or two upon learning of the Shah's final departure from power. It was the end of an era. A period when the US's foreign policy actively connected corporate interests with dictators around the Cold War world.

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The Shah was the last bright star in a sphere of US geopolitics that had John Foster Dulles as its prime mover. Bolton (a member of the old gang—Bush, Cheney, Rummy) came from that order, and one can see the project of his whole political life has been to restore it by war. Trump, on the other hand, hates his predecessor more than Iran. And so, all he wanted, upon becoming president, was to turn Obama's major diplomatic moment in world history (the Iran deal) into dust. He did just that and may not be that interested in doing much more.

Also, and this is the point of this post, Trump knows the numbers concerning a war with Iran do not add up; 120,000 troops is way too small of a force. To win a conventional war against that huge Shiite-ruled nation would defiantly require more boots on the ground than the Pentagon can presently provide. The draft would have to be restored.

In the light of current events, Bolton's brazen drumming for all-out war with Iran, it is worth reading a piece by Juan Cole called "Top Ten differences between the Iraq War and Trump’s Proposed Iran War." It's key piece of information is this:

Iraq’s population when invaded was 26 million. Iran’s population today is 81 million.

General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress prior to Bush’s invasion that based on the US military’s experience in the Balkans, 800,000 troops would be needed to provide security to Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted on 100,000 troops, wrongly believing he could pull them out in 6 months. Bush’s viceroy in Iraq, Paul Bremer, later admitted that “we never had enough troops” in Iraq.

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Since Iran is 3 times as populous as Iraq, by Shinseki’s correct calculation, the US would need 2.4 million troops to occupy Iran.


Why is that rough estimate bad news for the US? Because the US doesn't have 2.4 million troops. Its total "military personnel count is about 2,141,900, of whom 1, 281,900 are active duty and the rest reservists." And so, in a conventional war with Iran, the US's army would face an enemy with 500,000 active duty members and a mobilization power of 1.5 million soldiers. This kind of war would be long and require an enormous amount of blood from young American civilians. There is no way to go into the conflict without a draft. Recall that Rummy tried to break Iraq's back with hi-tech weaponry, and only wanted 100,000 troops. But Shock and Awe (rapid dominance) failed. The US only stabilized Iraq with a huge surge of boots on the ground. Rummy never recovered from that failure.

The other way to win the war would be totally nuke the country. The only problem with this option is it would be deeply unpopular with the rest of the world, and also the countries that share airspace with Iran, some of which are close US allies. Saudi Arabia for sure wants a war with Iran, but certainly does not want it to involve nuclear weapons. There is no such thing as a smart-nuke. But how else could the US win? The draft would freak-out voters even in Red States. An effective nuclear strike would also poison the entire region or trigger World War III.

There is one other option that a competent top policy advisor in the State Department should take very seriously. Return Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the power. He is the kind of nutty character that Trump is attracted to. Ahmadinejad could never form a friendship with a Clinton or an Obama. He is not moderate like the present president, Hassan Rouhani. Ahmadinejad crushed the intellectual Second Wave of Iranian cinema. He prefers popular culture. He is a Serena Williams fan. He would meet Trump's loony tweets with equally loony tweets. And I'm almost certain this would impress Trump. A bond between Trump and Ahmadinejad would certainly result in Bolton's booting from the White House.