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Why won't the US and its allies crush Iran?

17 April, 2024 Wednesday
11:35

In fact, what is surprising about Iran's attack on Israel "in response to the assassination of several senior IRGC officers" is not only the impudence of Iran itself or the fact that the lion's share of missiles and drones were shot down by the French, British and Americans instead of Israel

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It is the fact that the option of "destroying the ayatollahs' regime by force" is not even in theoretical discussion. Although the potential threat is greater than that of Hussein in his time. But in fact, the explanations are very simple.

The first factor is the damned oil and its price. At every stage of aggravation and during the war, oil prices will hurt everyone - China, the United States, India, and the EU. 

Any major war in the region poses a threat to the energy security of China (which buys almost all Iranian oil and a significant portion of Saudi oil), India (for which Iraq and the UAE are key suppliers in the region), and Europe (which still relies on Middle Eastern oil on its way to abandoning Russian oil). 

All maritime exports from the region (40% of global oil exports) go through the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. If the region is plunged into a major war, global energy markets will face, at best, a price shock, and, at worst, a physical shortage of oil in certain regions

China, which is experiencing the biggest crisis in 30 years, could experience a very hard strike. But not a fatal one. And the confrontation with it will reach a new level. And in the struggle for oil, China's policy in the South China Sea, where it is in constant confrontation with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan over control of the shelf, may become more aggressive. This will make the region another explosive point. Therefore, China continues to insist on a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Biden administration is afraid of an oil market shock. We can see how the Democrats are getting tense over the attacks on Russian refineries, although the impact of these attacks on the oil market is not even close to being comparable to the Middle East factor

That is why the United States will be happy to shoot down missiles flying at Israel, but it is unlikely to attack Iran. Although, for example, at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, it attacked Iranian oil platforms to force the country to make a peace acceptable to Hussein. It was 3 years before Desert Storm. 

The second factor is that a major military operation against Iran (let alone an invasion of Iran) remains an idea that requires too much effort.

Yes, there is no reason to fear the Islamic Republic like Russia, because it cannot attack NATO countries. And NATO itself has not yet decided what to do in the event of an attack on NATO countries. It still does not have nuclear weapons, and its air defense systems are outdated. Although if we wait until Iran officially acquires nuclear weapons, a Pandora's box will be opened in the region.

But a war against Iran, in order to win it quickly, will require much more forces than were used against Saddam in 1991 and 2003. Let me remind you that both times the coalition forces against Saddam exceeded 400,000 troops. Iran is 4 times larger than Iraq. Its population is now 2 times larger than Iraq's. Its army is disproportionately more powerful than Saddam's. 

Preparing an operation of this magnitude will require tremendous unity within the American establishment, a common position of all allies, and complete control over Iraq, as it is the only foothold that can be used for a land invasion.  And now, even with Iraq's consent to be such a foothold, there are big problems, because the country is collapsing.

Plus, the idea of a big war scares almost all other countries in the region. They may both suffer physically and face the risk of political aggravation due to the intensification of radical movements. Moreover, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and their subsequent occupation did not help make these countries stable democracies or even autocracies. Quite the opposite

That is why Israel will be helped. The missiles are shot down (because they are not afraid of retaliation, as in the case of Russia). But it is useless to wait for decisive action against Iran. Perhaps someday an invasion will be the only way out, but now there is no strength and will to do so

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About the author. Yuriy Bohdanov, publicist, specialist in strategic communications in business, public administration and politics.

The editorial board does not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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