Empire: In Another Man’s Shoes, With Another Man’s Eyes

(A near copy from my post in the other blog, with a few sci-fi bits snipped off)

From Quora, we get an Iranian view of the Persian Gulf War
(now the Iran-Iraq War: interesting shift in terminology, there…)

—[quote begins]—

How was Israel able to defeat five Arab countries in the past, but Iran was only able to stalemate Iraq after a long and intense war?

Abbas Nderi, lived in Iran

Good question. Lets dissect the factors:

  1. Iran just had a revolution. It executed most military leaders, and the rest fled/exiled.
  2. Iraq, with the green light from some other worried neighboring dictatorships, thought it’s a great time to invade and get himself a chunk.

    The chunk it wanted was Khuzestan, the only non-mountainous region in Iran, ripe for agriculture and with plenty of oil ( just like the rest of Iraq itself).

    The plan was to conquer Khuzestan in 3 days and solidify in 3 months, consider lots of native population were Arabs.
  3. Iraq was the military rival of the Shah of Iran (prior to revolution), with both of them being 4th and 5th military powers of the world, thanks to lots of oil money.
  4. Invasion was started, but halted on the first few cities/villages. The people were fighting the invading forces with bare hands.
  5. Iran quickly formed a paramilitary force, called Basij, while its official army was in peril.
  6. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers, ranging from 15 years old to 85 years old joined the Basij, received 2 weeks of military training, and went to the front lines.
  7. The situation continued for a couple years. Iraq was losing ground and Iran was gaining ground.
  8. In one sudden, unexpected move, sophisticated move, Iran launched the First Battle of al-Faw – Wikipedia and captured the first Iraqi city.
  9. The International community as well as the regional dictatorships entered full panic mode. Billions of dollars of funding, equipment, military intelligence, and military personnel were poured into Iraq to stop Iran.
  10. Iran kept pushing into Iraq. At this point, Iran had prisoners of wars from reportedly 140 countries of the world. Iran was sanctioned by every single country in the world, and not even cotton was sold to Iran to make bags for the war.

    The average Iranian soldier had 3 bullets of ammo to use in the war.

    Yet Iran kept pushing in.
  11. US warships entered the Persian gulf, started sinking Iranian trade ships, oil tankers, etc.

    Iran retaliated by sinking Iraqi ships.

    US didn’t like it and shot down an Iranian civilian plane as warning.
  12. Iran was about to occupy Baghdad and Basra, capital and the largest port of Iraq, effectively winning the war.
  13. Ronald Reagan gave Iraq the green light to procure and use chemical weapons.
  14. Saddam started a scorched Earth policy on all lands between Iranian forces and Baghdad/Basra; effectively killing thousands of his own people. He also used thousands of chemical warheads on Iranian troops (more than 300,000 Iranian troops were affected by chemical weapons).

    Then he threatened to use chemical missiles to hit all Iranian cities.
  15. The International community seized the opportunity to shove a ceasefire down Iran’s throat, returning to effective borders, and not recognizing Iraq as the aggressor. This was the carrot, while chemical missiles and US warships were the stick.
  16. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, in a public speech accepted the peace treaty but worded it as a “Chalice of Poison”. He never had any other public appearances after that, and died within 2 years.
  17. Iraq used the MEK (an Iranian exile communist terrorist organization) as a paramilitary force to invade Iran again, this time from the Kurdistan region.

    MEK did several atrocities and warcrimes, effectively genociding several cities and towns in Iraq and Iran.

    They were again pushed out of Iran and defeated.
  18. By this point, Iraq had more than 2500 tanks and armored vehicles and more than 600 warplanes.

    Iraq started the war with 1200 tanks and 300 airplanes, and lost 5000 during the war. It was supplied with some 10,000 tanks and 1000 airplanes throughout the war by foreign countries.
  19. Saddam didn’t like the ugly defeat, so he used his shiny new military to invade Kuwait, where US forces had to get involved. Saddam’s army killed thousands of US/Kuwaiti soldiers, burned thousands of oil wells, and did a lot of damage before it was stopped.

I think that explains everything. No need to get into the Arabs wars with Israel now.

—[quote ends]—

And an additional comment:

—[quote begins]—

Aimen Halim

To add to this, please read the book ‘Saddam’s War’. In the 1970s, there was a tremendous fear from both the US and Israel that had the Iraqi military joined a future conflict against Israel (not just by sending a few divisions, but much of their military), Israeli defenses would have been completely overrun.

Israel fought very quick wars against its neighbors. The Iran-Iraq war lasted for eight years. Israel does not nor will it ever have the resources or population to fight a war for longer than a few months, and neither do its immediate neighbors.

Iran and Iraq both had the resources and manpower to do just this, hence the war dragged on for nearly a decade. Iraq also enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the Western world to continue fighting. Had there been no Western support, the war would have ended much sooner

—[quote ends]—


So, quite a number of interesting lessons for the military-minded Traveller to pick up on.

  1. A large nation may well be temporarily weak, due to a recent regime change & military purges. Such weaknesses are real, but temporary. Don’t launch an invasion just because of a ‘golden opportunity’. Invading during a civil war has a larger chance of success, but you still need to play your cards right.
  2. Traveller, like real life, places a heavy emphasis on tribal allegiances of race. But — despite Party propaganda — there are more important things than blood! Arab Iraq invades an Arab part of Iran… and the Arabic locals hated and fought against the Arab invader, and for Persian Iran, despite the shared blood.
  3. A large nation, enjoying American & international (translate to: Imperial and interstellar) support, can still lose to another large nation that is denied such backing.
    1. Counter-example: the US & British Empire backed the Soviet Union vs Nazi Germany, and such support made a genuine difference in the Eastern Front.
  4. Banning trade does not mean the inevitable economic collapse of a government. A determined population and government may well hold out for far longer than you expect!
    1. Hindering trade may be motivated by racial, religious, ideological or historical hostility – maybe even dynastic/household politics. But it’s most likely that they are driven by envy and money, much like Cato the Elder, a Roman Noble who pounded endlessly Carthago delenda est. “They have more money than us, and that’s why they must be destroyed!”
  5. “Iran had prisoners of wars from reportedly 140 countries of the world. Iran was sanctioned by every single country in the world, and not even cotton was sold to Iran to make bags for the war.” — some POW camps are more interesting than others.
  6. The average Iranian soldier had 3 bullets of ammo to use in the war.” — there are always freelance traders, willing to help fix such problems… at the right price.
  7. “US warships entered the Persian gulf, started sinking Iranian trade ships, oil tankers, etc. Iran retaliated by sinking Iraqi ships.”
    1. Challenging a large Navy directly isn’t wise. But there are other ways to send a message.
    2. “US didn’t like it and shot down an Iranian civilian plane as warning.” Well, perhaps.
    3. For more on the tanker (Naval) war, see Tanker War and U.S. military involvement
  8. Iran was about to occupy Baghdad and Basra, capital and the largest port of Iraq, effectively winning the war.” — this is where I am most doubtful of the Iranian narrative posted here. Last I heard, the people of Tehran were fleeing the city in 1988 due to rocket attack, and the Iraq chemical and armoured columns were pushing back the Iranians.
  9. Ronald Reagan gave Iraq the green light to procure and use chemical weapons.” Empires does not enforce the Imperial Rules of War on her own forces… but you already knew that.
  10. “Iraq used the MEK (an Iranian exile communist terrorist organization) as a paramilitary force to invade Iran again, this time from the Kurdistan region. MEK did several atrocities and warcrimes, effectively genociding several cities and towns in Iraq and Iran.” Paramilitary forces are not known for observing the Laws of War.
  11. Saddam didn’t like the ugly defeat, so he used his shiny new military to invade Kuwait…”
    1. Calvinists who know their history dislike standing militaries (or police, or law-creating legislators, or executive branches of government): if you give the government a tool, they will find a reason to use it!
    2. “Imperial Client States should know their place.”
    3. Imperial support can vanish in a flash. Noble money in your pocket can be replaced with an Noble sword at your throat faster than it takes to say it.
      1. Bow before the Noble. Honour the Noble. Respect Noble Authority. But do not trust the Noble, and watch your mouth!

And from the other quote:

Israel fought very quick wars against its neighbors. The Iran-Iraq war lasted for eight years. Israel does not nor will it ever have the resources or population to fight a war for longer than a few months, and neither do its immediate neighbors.

Three sentences are needed to understand why between 100,000 – 200,000 people died, 1980-1988.

(But see North’s Nuclear Agates in a Marbles World. There’s more than one way that a short, nasty war can end.)

Not including the Kuwaiti War, the Iraq War, the ISIS War, or any future Iran-US war, or death by sanctions, or economic losses. Or the unseen but enormous cost inflicted on the Islamic World — Arabic and Persian alike — for this long and ugly series of costly & bloody conflicts.

Iran and Iraq both had the resources and manpower to do just this, hence the war dragged on for nearly a decade. Iraq also enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the Western world to continue fighting. Had there been no Western support, the war would have ended much sooner

Empires are costly things.


Postscript

From Gary North’s Teaching American History

I would deal with the post-1765 era in two parts: the creation of a national republic and its evolution into an empire. This of course would guarantee a commercial failure. The public school establishment will not consider the word “empire” in relation to the United States, except as something America battles internationally. The Christian school establishment agrees entirely with the public school establishment on this issue.

It is the central political issue, and both establishments get it wrong. Self-realization is the most expensive realization of all.

So, being a marketer, I would follow the example of state-history textbook author William Marina. I would use the word “centralization” in place of “empire.”

Smooth.

I will put in my two cents in, and recommend that American Christians break with the Public School Establishment when it comes to backing the American Empire.

The Establishment hates you anyways, Christian, regardless of what you say and what you do. Since this will always be true for every Western Christian alive today (in 2019), why not stand with the Prince of Peace (who is also the Prince of Truth!) in all ways. Not just when it comes to pious God-talk, but in real-deal godly action?

Stop fearing powerful men.

Speak the truth… even when it reflects well on Muslims — even *gasp* Iranians! — and badly on our Secularist masters (and their insipid Christian cheerleaders).

Yes, yes, the Establishment will hate you even more than it does now… but what else is new?

Obedience to God comes with real (even lifelong) short term costs, but with real (and massive!) long-term gains.

And by “long-term”, I mean multi-generational, even multi-century!

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