A few days ago I argued that a U.S. strike against Iran would be a more reckless step than any modern President has taken, and therefore is unlikely -- and that the threatened Israeli strike would be so self-destructive of Israel's long-term interests that "even" PM Netanyahu was likely to hold back. One reader replied that a "psychological inversion" may have already occurred within the Israeli government, biasing policy toward attack; and the veteran war-gamer Sam Gardiner likened the situation to the irrational-but-nearly-irresistible drift toward disaster before World War I.
Now, readers on the evidence pro and con. First, a reader who studies the naval deployments:
It smells like rain to me. The Enterprise Strike Group has sailed, which will make 3 carrier groups on station with the 5th Fleet. Back in 2006-2007, Col. Gardiner repeatedly said that 3 carriers meant war... These deployments speak more loudly to me than anything else.
When the 3rd Army HQ deployed to Kuwait in early 2002, I knew war with Iraq was coming, as an Army HQ would only forward deploy if a big troop movement was planned. Carriers are more ambiguous but right now it looks like the Vinson, Lincoln, and Enterprise will be on station together from early April till mid to late June. Could be insurance against an Israeli strike but if so there's more in motion than is visible....
While I hope you're right, my gut says no. Hope it's wrong.
For years I've dismissed the topic of war with Iran. I just never thought it would happen....
Today [March 15], mentioned in passing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee - without a word or question on the topic from any supposedly well informed Senators - Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert told the Senate committee that the US Navy is going to deploy 4 minesweepers to the Persian Gulf (which will double the number of US Navy Minesweepers in the Persian Gulf) and also send additional mine hunting helicopters to the region....
In other words, the Chief of Naval Operations announced to the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning specific details about preparations for war with Iran, and in response the Senators drooled on themselves in silent capitulation. The only thing missing from that scene from this mornings Twilight Zone moment in the Senate was the CNO knocking on the microphone asking "is this thing on" for dramatic effect.
Emphasis in original. For the record, one comment on that site offers another explanation:
This may not be a 'prelude to war' per se, but perhaps a response to a (perceived) Iranian mine threat; it's too easy for Iran to just claim it laid mines to rattle merchants and the (oil) market. Remember that it's election time in Iran.
We have to look for more signs besides those minesweepers if a strike (against nuclear facilities?) is on the horizon; additional USN escorts for protection against small boats and of course Iranian (midget) subs. Never mind additional (carrier) aviation assets to - if needed - destroy shore based anti-ship missiles.
[UPDATE: Another informed reader cautions against reading too much into the deployments:
I really like the Information Dissemination blog [source of the cites above]... Just be aware that carrier deployments -- actually carrier strike group deployments, are planned months or years in advance. No one gets on the phone and says, 'get ENTERPRISE underway tomorrow.'
Also, LINCOLN won't be out there long. She's running out of fuel and needs to get to the shipyard in Hampton Roads ASAP. Yes, nuclear powered ships run out of fuel every 25 years or so. Plenty of stuff out there open source on her scheduled homeport change.
The 5th Fleet carrier schedule is a mess, maybe due to maintenance more than anything else. Some people haven't noticed that we've had at least one or two of them running live combat missions over IRQ and/or AFG every day for over 20 years now.]
Another reader cites this Haaretz report on Netanyahu's attempts to mobilize the Israeli public in support of an attack: "What looks like a preparation for war, acts like a preparation for war, and quacks like a preparation for war, is a preparation for war."