tv [untitled] CSPAN June 8, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT
around the region. and one thing that is very important to note here is that a major part of their defense strategy and doctrine is not really tuned toward attaining territorial gains. is mainly toward projecting influence into the region. well, this defense strategy is based on a number of factors, and a doctrine that they have developed is well-timed and well-suited to their defense strategy. they have had experience of course in the iran-iraq war which is a dramatic extremes for them and gave them a lot of lessons. i also had experience against the united states and the tanker
war during the late 1980s. and have been impressed by u.s. air and naval superiority, know that they cannot possibly stand up to the u.s. naval and air capability. and have watched in lebanon and then in iraq and afghanistan as insurgent groups and terrorist groups have been able to make inroads against more superior conventional power. and they have gained a lot of lessons from those kinds of observations. the key focus for them, especially given they look at the united states as their main adversary. a key focus is defending their regime and countering what is a superior adversary in the united states. so deterrence is a great
importance. it is a matter in public statements and exercises, those are all geared towards threatening a very high cost if they are attacked. they have a peripheral defense which they look at, we could call it a forward defense, whereby they use proxies and militias and other types of kind of to project their power. and as a defense, a forward defense against invasion. and in case of invasion, a mosaic sense whereby they want to conduct hit-and-run and guerrilla tactics and also use their institute of strategic patients to wear down any invader. underlined these issues that i've just gone through, are four
types of components. one is self-reliance. it's a very, very important part of iran's self-image as well as its defense strategy that it become self-sufficient in its development of its capabilities as well as defense of its borders. ideological fortitude in the ranks, the iran's to emphasize indoctrination and those kind of things. joint force integration, they are very at least in their statements very much emphasized the idea of integrating air and ground and the different components of national power to meet an enemy head-on. and then encouraging captains initiatives, meaning they look at the potential for an invasion, for example, an invasion of iran, they look at initiative at lower levels of command being very important part of their doctrine.
so before i get into whether their capabilities are meeting this doctrine, want to give just a sense of the force structure in iran. it is a bifurcated force structure. sitting at the top is the commander-in-chief, which is a supreme leader. the supreme leader has both direct control over the armed forces and over national security generally, but also in direct control through informal ties through representatives throughout the force structure. but the main issue here is that there are two main forces in iran. one is the islamic revolutionary guard corps, the irgc, as well as the regular army. the our cash and the irgc both have an army, navy and air
force. they have overlapping missions there are other parts of the force structure, the intelligence services, the law enforcement forces and then within the islamic revolutionary guard corps, the code force which is used mainly for training and advising militias overseas. and then the militia which is also part of the irgc but is part of the 5 million are sometime it's only 10 million man army which will take up arms in case of invasion. but the main point here is that there are a number of overlapping missions. while this works very well as a way of coup proofing, it's definitely difficult as far as integration of the forces. and the different components are
often competitive with one another especially over resources. so the question is what are these things being incorporated in the capabilities that one sees in iran? in some ways definitely yes certainly in the exercises and officiathe official statements o with that, and statements that go on all the time there is an effort to showcase chiron's capabilities, and showcase its regional power. and in some cases making statements about capabilities heretofore unknown by the outside world. this is a major part, the exaggeration of its capabilities is a major part of its deterrent. ballistic cruise missiles are certainly becoming more capable.
they have a capability of reaching throughout much of the region, including israel but also closer in where the united states might have a number of bases and forces. the quds force, and along without the ministry ministry of intelligence services and security, the mo i asked, is very active, both are very active outside the borders. guerrilla warfare has been incorporated in some areas and in particular in the navel area which i will discuss in a second. passive defenses, air defenses, things like that that seem to be a key part of their defense, especially of keypoint such as in the capital and their nuclear assets and that kind of thing. they seem to be putting a great deal of emphasis on those kinds of things. and finally, the defense industry appears to be
expanding. they are putting out equipment in almost every area of the military capability. however, there are some areas, some key areas where they do fall short in their ability to meet the doctrine. iranian forces, despite the exercises that are supposed to show integration, are really not integrated. these are set piece oftentimes. the exercises are. their readiness for suspect. logistics, they really don't have the capability of supporting, for example, major incursions into neighboring countries. because of their poor logistic system. support of four groups doesn't mean control which i think fred will really go into in detail. the components that are cast to
execute a lot of the so-called guerrilla warfare and asymmetric tactics are not necessarily seriously trained in it. there is on the ideological front a great deal of cynicism that we found, including india by siege and in the sea, especially among different generations. there is some ambivalence about indoctrination that goes on there. and a key point, the force structure is very large and it's old and it's very difficult for them to modernize it especially given the last point, which is despite this industry, this defense industry that is supposed to make iran self-sufficient, it cannot put out either the technologically sophisticated types of capabilities or to put out enough of the capabilities to recapitalize their very large structurally weak force.
however, there are specific areas where our research has shown that could make a difference as far as giving us complications and problems and others projecting power to the region. one of them is on their use of ballistic missiles, in particular. while right now when we look at their ballistic missile capabilities, many of them are more for -- they could be used as kind of terror weapons or weapons to scare our allies into not allowing us to operate out of their countries and that kind of thing. but in the future as guidance systems, payload capabilities get better and better over the next five to 10 years they could
actually have an operational meaningful set on our power projection capabilities. meaning they could affect the use of our bases in the region. the second thing is, as i mentioned before, their naval capabilities in the gold and especially in the straits of hormuz or something to worry about, we think. regardless of putting aside the idea of whether they would want to necessarily close or try to close the straits of hormuz, their capabilities are swarming tactics, the use of multiple components both maritime and air as well as undersea capabilities could pose a threat to shipping generally, but even to the u.s. navy. especially prior to or right at the beginning of a shooting war. and then finally, what is on many people's minds is the
nuclear issue, which is that iran has a bit of rationale for developing nuclear weapons. and it's not clear that the iranian leadership has decided that that's what they want to do is deploy nuclear weapons. however, in the event that they did, our research has shown that this would greatly complicate our power projection capabilities, of course, but also make it more difficult to manage a conflict with what is a weaker conventional power. and if it believes its regime survival is at risk at sometime in the future, may be more willing to manage nuclear weapons in that case. bottom line, i went through these key points its military doctrine does align very well with iran's defense strategy. it does try to exploit its adversaries weaknesses, the
adversary mainly being the united states. however, its operational capabilities do fall short in a number of areas. and what's interesting is that despite this and despite the fact that they have a large and weaker conventional force, generally, they will continue to try to upgrade and improve it. and much of that may be because of bureaucratic inertia and vested interest in the maintenance of this large defense industry and the development of conventional capabilities like tanks, aircraft, large naval vessels, that kind of thing. and finally, as i said, iran does have some military operations and is likely they will get more and more capable in these areas in the next five years, five to 10 years. and it's something that the united states needs to take into account. as it is projecting power into the region. thank you. [applause]
>> okay. we'll hear from fred now on how the region will respond. >> thank you. my talk today is not necessarily going to focus on chiron's power projection and regional influence in the middle east, but rather the diverse and varied regional responses to that power. and i think the key question is whether these topics are actually two sides of the same coin. in other words, to what degree has iran's regional influence been enabled and facilitated by his unity, disarray and chaos in the arab system. now no less today than priss of saudi arabi asked this question in april. they blame the u.s. on iran's rise, but in an interesting twist, prince turki noted that it was arab disunity and
specifically tension between the so-called moderate and radical axis in the arab world that was responsible for enabling and expanding iran's reach in the arab world giving quotes laws of steel to what would otherwise be a paper tiger. of course, cynics and critics of the saudi regime would argue that this plea for unity of the arab ranks that actually a thinly disguised attempt at saudi dominance of arab affairs. user to see this among the smaller gulf states states like oman and gutter out long accused them of hyping, ron two facilitate control and when recognition from washington. in 2006, and oman and a list told us that the greatest threat from iraq nuclear ambitions was not necessarily the bomb itself but rather what he called saudi arabia's overreaction to the threat. close observers of the gulf will argue that this friction is nothing new. they have always march to a
different tune. but even if we look farther west to the so-called block a moderate sunni arab states, cairo and riyadh that are supposedly leading the charge against iran we find significant disagreement about the nature of that threat and about arab leadership and hierarchy. much of this cooperation i'm going to argue should be seen as tactical and instrumental. in early 2008, a former egyptian diplomat told us that cairo was worried about the new saudi activism. he said the saudi's are everywhere with initiatives against iran, and this worries us. the saving grace for us is that these initiatives never amount to anything. we consider them an annoying fact of life. added to this tension between states about what to do about iran, their diversions between public and official thinking. we service all this in the aftermath of the 2006 lebanon war went off and energized enjoyed acclaim industry. this was a dissipated but it was a stark reminder to arab regimes
of ironic provocative ability of a one upmanship over arab regimes on the palestine front and on the nuclear issue. is reemerge in the wake of the gaza crisis. i think this dynamic really speaks to the underlying problems of governance and legitimacy in the arab societies and how that impacts the threats of ironic and in both the public and official realms. and editorial captured as dynamic noting that the gap between arab societies and governments is the bleeding wound, that iran has been able to exploit, and that is wound has bush chiron in foreign policy toward bravado and brinkmanship. taken in sum, i think this lack of consensus, this diversity of opinion about the nature of the iranian threat has important invocations for u.s. treasury. especially if we try to forward some kind of sick consensus on the region in the hopes of solidifying a container block in terms of isolating iran, not
only does this approach flatten the multidimensional landscape of middle east politics, but i'm going to argue it incurs certain trade-offs and other u.s. policy interest. namely, the promotion of domestic reform. so in my remaining time i'm going to highlight some regional diagnoses of the iranian challenges illustrate the similarity's and divergences of u.s. objectives. and then focus on the prognoses for that challenge, which frequently varies wildly. and i will do some drawbacks and opportunity costs that may result from trying to forge an artificial consensus on the region. just by way of background, much of this analysis comes from field work we did in the region looking at regional perceptions of a nuclear iran and also local views of the spillover of the iraq war, the strategic impact of the iraq war. and the findings are in the studies that you have in your folder, but they're also going to appear in an article that i co-authored with my co-author dalia dassa kaye entitled containing iran question mark
avoiding a two-dimensional strategy in a four dimensional region. so starting out, how then has the arab world diagnosed the challenge of iran? i think on the surface, arab regimes alarm me suggest and align it with similar u.s. concerns. from the u.s. perspective it can be argued that one of the silver linings of the toppling of saddam hussein and then later on the 2006 lebanon war is that it laid bare ironic long-standing malevolence toward the region and its bird arab states toward greater activism toward the ironic and. without a great deal of hindering by arab actors that they failed to anticipate this challenge, they failed to anticipate iran's regional rise especially in iraq. a jordanian analyst told us you have to hand it to the ironic, they had a plan for iraq prior to the invasion and they got beige '80s are of the influence that they have. in light of this regional recognition, which should come that the u.s. is try to harness
this activism through arms sales, to attempt to forge a very visible coalition of the moderate partners, the so-called gcc plus two. but we argue in our studies that such an approach this reads the very local and parochial motives of arab regimes in facing the threats. arab leaders have always played a very delicate game of four dimensional just in the region balancing, competing demands of the domestic constituents, their peers on the arab stage, external patrons like the u.s., and the non- arab states iran. there is nothing specifically or uniquely arab about this dynamic. politics has always been informed by the need to appeal to different constituents. but what we argue is that the peculiar nature of the arab political system where a number of regimes faced challenges to their legitimacy, internal dissent, problems of government, make this dynamic especially azalea. what we find in arab perception is that a particular concern with iran's ability to meddle in
the domestic affairs of arab states, to speak over the heads of arab leaders in a fashion, mobilize populations against these rulers. what you find in the rhetoric is iran is often attributed with a fantastic power to bypass state to state channels and to mobilize a range of opposition groups, ranging from these i 80s in yemen, unrest in egypt, the sin against those in saudi arabia, reports of conversion. even when we look at the fear of a nuclear capable iran, the biggest year is not so much that iran will use this capability against arab states, but that it will provide top cover for iran to continue this policy of meddling in the internal affairs of states. two dynamics may be at work here. the first is that arab leaders may in fact actually believe their populations are susceptible to the mobilizing appeal of iran. particularly, it's rejectionism on the israeli front.
they remain sensitive to the fact that the islamic publics hyperactive isn't on the palestine issue exposes their own deficiency especially their dependence on the u.s. and their paralysis to domestic and regional audiences. certainly iran does have a number of important links with nonstate actors in these societies. the second dynamic is that these regimes may actually be benefiting from threat and inflation. the artist in chile stamping a return and dress on problems that are fundamentally internal and homegrown. in saudi arabia and discussions with a normal of informants and acted as we found that the criticism of the ironic threat especially the fear of spillover from iraq provided a convenient pretext for deferring on internal reforms, the logic here was that the threats in the saudi press better focus on the persian, means the less space that can be devoted like women's rights and reforms are what this means is that the tone and style
of the policy matters, and this is currently a matter of debate in the presidential elections. at least some observers have argued that the best thing for some arab regimes would be the reelection of aqua data job because he is such a convenient bogeyman. because this ironic threat in the minds of many arab leaders as a symbolic and an ideological one, because of this disagreement, disarray, arab result has not materialized according to u.s. designs. this ambivalence has been worsened by what many arab states perceived as conflicting signals about u.s. policies toward iran. according to one analyst, the gulf states in particular that will have a clear and defined policy toward iran only when u.s. diplomacy solidifies, because they find that u.s. diplomacy is vacillating between payment and cooperation. so what we find is a strong inclination toward hedging and
accommodating with iran is sort of an insurance policy against it and swings in u.s. policy. deliberations about a u.s. withdrawal from iraq have only accelerated this trend. of sort of insurgencinsurgency and ambivalenambivalence. it's interesting to note that toward the gulf states iran has attempted to exploit this sense of u.s. transcends and temporality playing the drum part of a proximity and permanent. one gulf official noted to us that iran has told us repeatedly we are your neighbor, the u.s. is simply a passing visitor. if these arab states are ambivalent allies against iran neither should we consider them willing interlocutors. they have little interest in helping the u.s. completely fix its iran problem. many have arguably benefited enormously from america's decades long and strange but and signs of easing this estrangement are met with howls of criticism. if you look at the u.s. iraq and iranian talks in baghdad in
2007, this was termed by some commentators the new yoga. we have seen increasing criticism of the recent outrage of obama. we see one editorial id editor-in-chief proclaiming that dialogue with iran, u.s. dialogue with iran was dead on arrival. tackling a similar op-ed in "the new york times." taken in sum, this opposition, this suggest that arab states reject an either or approach toward iran. the best course of action for many can be described as a sort of managed bases of confrontation and coexistence, no peace, no war. why, because this is how they benefited for so long and relegates domestic concerns to the back burner. and i think this raises my third point which is the opportunity cost in terms of u.s. policy interest in pursuing a competitive balancing paradigm against iran and pursuing a containment approach. there are a number of factors that may work against a radical
shift in our policy toward iran, not least of which are the domestic politics inside the islamic republic. but a reversion to a pure containment paradigm carries a number of risks to u.s. policy interest, namely the neglect of domestic reform and possible increase tension resulting from an arab i run in cold war. the sidelining of the u.s. democratization and reform agenda is a trade off it became apparent to many observers in the region. particularly after the sale of the u.s. arms package to the gulf. an editorial in the daily star noted that with the announcement of the arms deal, it's become apparent that washington's democracy agenda has becom becoe or less abandoned. instead, the u.s. now seems to favor a policy constructed around a fictitious storyline that betrays the world as a battleground between the forces of moderation and extremism. the resulting fear of iran, what we found in our interviews in the region, is here in iran is
the extra emergency has provided a useful pretext for opponents of reform to batten down the hatches and if her on any domestic -- domestic experiences. it's not really clear if this coalescence of state power is cause for celebration from the u.s. perspective. there are a number of worries internal trends in the region that predate the iraq war, that we get our policy concerns with iran. they are related to misgovernance, lack of civil society, problems of legitimacy. many were identified after the wake of the september 11, 2001 attacks as being the wellspring of radicalization in terrorism. and their persistence today argues that the domestic reform should not be sacrificed at the expense of a containment strategy. so i will leave it to our next closing speaker to discuss the way forward and a new regional approach, but what i hope the survey of diverse or diverging threat perceptions and responses
to ironic has shown is that the question of iranian power is intimately tied to a number of local agendas and parochial interest in the region's. these revolve around long-standing question of arab hierarchy, governance and legitimacy. it can be argued that the ironic threat has a certain utility in certain quarters. it's important to recognize these identities and to avoid trying to impose an artificial consensus on the region to isolate iran. not only does this approach flattened the multidimensional landscape of regional politics, it misread the nature of the iranian challenge. but it also carries unintentional trade-offs in terms of other u.s. interests. holding out for some illusory purpose in the arab world will not only fail to remove the iron claws of iran to return to prince turki's metaphor, but it could actually unleash a whole host of other unintended consequences. so with that i'll close and take questions. [applause]
thanks, fred. i just want to start with one quick question to both of you and that i will open it up to the audience. david, you mentioned a number of retaliatory capabilities they all. in the specific instance of an attack on its nuclear capabilities from israel or the united states which seems unlikely right now, but the israel option certainly is still talked about, what do you think would be their preferred choice of retaliation, and where do you think it might take place? and, fred, and the saints and mario, how do you think the arab side will react to such an attack? . .