What Would War Look
By Michael Duffy
Sunday 17 September 2006
A flurry of military maneuvers in the Middle East increases speculation that conflict with Iran is no longer quite so unthinkable. Here's how the US would fight such a war - and the huge price it would have to pay to win it.
The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.
What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed - but until now largely theoretical - prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: A Date With a
By Scott MacLeod
Monday 18 September 2006
Face to face with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man whose swagger is stirring fears of war with the US.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't one for ceremony. We are waiting in a villa outside Havana when Ahmadinejad strides in without notice, taking even his aides by surprise. He is wearing blue-gray trousers, black loafers and the trademark tan jacket that even he calls his "Ahmadinejad jacket." He mutters something to himself as he settles into an aging leather chair with bad springs. For a moment, he seems irked by the chair, perhaps because it makes him seem even smaller than his 5 ft. 4 in., but soon he's smiling, prodding, leaning forward to make his points. "We are living our own lives," he says, when asked about his differences with the Bush Administration. He jabs the back of my hand for emphasis. "The U.S. government should not interfere in our affairs. They should live their own lives."
When he made his first trip to the U.S. last year for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad was still a curiosity - a diminutive, plainly dressed man who had come out of nowhere to win Iran's presidential election. But in New York City this week, he won't have trouble being recognized. His incendiary statements - he has declared the Holocaust a "myth," has said Israel should be "wiped away" and has called the Jewish state "a stain of disgrace" - have made him the most polarizing head of state in the Muslim world. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran has built up its influence in Lebanon and Iraq and made clear its intention to become the dominant power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. He has also accelerated work on Iran's civilian nuclear program, which the U.S. believes is geared toward producing a nuclear bomb. Though pictures of the Iranian President often show him flashing a peace sign, his actions could well be leading the world closer to war.