There Is No Winning a War against Iran

Let’s dispense with humanitarian concerns and just talk about cold, hard, military strategy here.

It doesn’t matter that Trump commands what is clearly the world’s most powerful military. Well, that does matter, but it won’t matter from the point of winning any war against Iran: despite its military strength, the USA would clearly lose. This a function of a number of factors:

  1. Iran’s size and capability. Iran has 80 million people and one of the most capable militaries in the region. That’s way more people than Iraq has. Unlike Iraq on the eve of the US invasion, Iran hasn’t been weakened by decades of crippling sanctions. (And the USA came closer than many realize to losing the war in Iraq.)
  2. Distance, motivation, and local knowledge. Any war would be fought primarily in Iran. The USA would have to badly extend itself with long supply lines. Iran’s forces would be right there. In the USA, it would be a war fought half a world away, for questionable purposes, by an unpopular leader, and with significant domestic opposition. In Iran, it would be fought right there, for national survival. The Iranians would know their local terrain far better than the USA does.
  3. Goal asymmetry. In order to win, the USA must defeat and conquer Iran. In order for Iran to win, it must prevent the USA from defeating and conquering it; it is not necessary for Iran to defeat and conquer the USA in order to win.

It would be far harder for the USA to subdue and conquer Iran than it was for the British to subdue and conquer their 13 rebellious colonies in North America, and we all know how that attempt on Britain’s part went.

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