Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Military hardware wonks counter anti-Iran propaganda

Continuing Internal Monologue's quest to offer at least some resistance to the tide of warmongering propaganda coming out of the Bush administration ("Those Iranians are backing some Shiites in Iraq, therefore bombing them would be a smart thing to do.") and dutifully scribed by The New York Times, we offer some links and analysis from our resident military hardware geek, Maniak. Maniak recommends this story from NewsHog:
And as expected, it falls far short of a "slam dunk" case. The anonymous briefing at which no recording devices were allowed involved a lot of claims and not a whole lot of actual evidence.
And this follow-up on NewsHog:
...you will notice that, after spending so much time explaining why the tail-fin on the mortar round proves it is Iranian the picture the reporters were given to take away is positioned and composed in such a way that the tail-fin is the very bit not shown...
And adds some commentary:
I have to agree that those look like Iranian mortar shells... Which of course also look pretty much like Pakistani, Israeli, British and American shells, etc. Yes, it's possible to narrow down the country of manufacture with an indepth analysis of the manufacture techniques, metallurgy, etc. But not with 6 photos on a CD, which is the point of those articles. I do disagree with some of the deeper links on those articles. Specifically the claim that Iran uses Russian 82-mm shells exclusively is dead wrong. Iran's main artillery supplier up to 1979 was Israel, and they've kept the 81-mm design that Israel and most European militaries use. The Farsi marking thing is a bit of a red herring too. English markings are very widespread even in militaries of non-English-speaking countries. It's not impossible that these are Iranian, but it's not anywhere near proven. This smells like the "biological weapons vans".
I don't doubt that at some level Iran is backing somebody in Iraq. And that somebody probably has weapons, because everyone there has weapons: disarming Iraqis means limiting them to one AK-47 per family. But none of this means that bombing Iran is anything other than stupidity. It is unlikely that we could do much lasting damage to any secret weapons programs they might have, and it is an absolute certainty that it will radicalize the nation against us. It's not enought to demonstrate, however feebly, that Iran's government is doing bad things. To justify bombing, you have to show how it would make things better, not worse. And I haven't seen one lick of evidence backing that idea.


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