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Apr 13 28 tweets 9 min read Read on X
"WW III is starting" discourse is going to ramp up in the next few hours, so here's how things will REALLY work.

Iranian policy since 2020, after the Trump admin whacked Soleimani, has been strategic patience — ie, Iran's unique set of challenges can't be immediately won...

...and thus require perseverance until more favorable conditions are present.

More specifically, Tehran knows it cannot outright beat the United States and Israel in a straight-up war if it came down to it.

Yes, it could (and would!) do horrible damage, probably taking down the US empire in the process.

But the Iranian regime probably wouldn't make out either given the requisite costs, opportunities for dissent, intentions of other actors/ethnic groups, etc etc.

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This is why a lot of the game for the past few years has instead been using various regional agents and proxies to distract and probe its opponents. Fuck around and inflict cuts as often as possible, which are sometimes retaliated, but try not to escalate things too much.

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But wait, why should things be escalated?

The issue is the Middle East is *THE* region in the world where deterrence matters the most.

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It's a neighborhood where actors whack each other with sticks.

If one of them whacks you, you *need* to come back with a bigger stick and whack them back (and harder) to show you're serious, or else other people might start *getting ideas* about you.

The issue is that if you whack someone in this region TOO hard/with too big of a stick... they start believing that you *actually* intend to kill them this time.

In this case, they come back with a gun instead of a bigger stick.

See what's happening to Gaza as an example.

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That's why there's an observable tendency of actors to engage in a lot of chest-thumping and promises of THOUSANDFOLD DESTRUCTION but not that much action.

It's about *publicly* communicating strength and establishing deterrence. Action must be reciprocal.


Yeah, they are. But why are they doing this again?

Right, because Israel attacked Iran's consulate in Damascus last week, which killed seven senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), incl. a senior general.

Hitting a country's diplomatic mission in a third country is generally seen as a BIG NO-NO.

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Now, to be fair, when you have a lot of IRGC figures (including a top figure) in a consulate building, it's very very very likely weren't just sitting around having tea. They were probably planning/coordinating military-related stuff.

ie, you can see why Israel did this.

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That doesn't change the fact the Israelis crossed A BIG LINE by attacking a consulate/diplomatic building (plus killing a senior figure).

This is a pretty big stick whack. Iran HAS to respond with its own whack to reestablish deterrence. They've signaled as much for days.


Thus the current strikes.

Now, where do things go from here?

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Really, there are two scenarios.

Scenario 1: Iran gets hits in and shows strength, reestablishing deterrence. Things de-escalate a bit after some face-saving back-and-forth.

The fact that this attack was basically telegraphed ahead of time (and is even now) hints at this.


There is, however, the more troubling possibility of Scenario 2: *ACTUAL ESCALATION*.

The problem here is that Israel and its leadership is — interestingly — the more "irrational" actor in this situation.

Iran doesn't want a war: it can afford to wait for the Israelis and Americans to grow weaker, especially the latter.

The Biden admin doesn't want a war: it's facing a HARD election year, its military is already overstretched as fuck, and it can't handle another front.

PARTS — (though not all!) — of Israel's leadership though is cognizant that time is NOT on its side.

America is growing relatively weaker and less supportive for a variety of reasons (generational views, competing demands, bad economy, etc).

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i.e., whatever Israel gets out of the US *now* is the most that it'll be getting. Israel will be left isolated in the Middle East surrounded by enemies.

So parts of the leadership can't help but think: "Lets set this thing off now + weaken our enemies before its too late."

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So the key thing to watch in the coming hours is:

1) *EXACTLY* how Israel responds to these attacks.


2) How much support, IF ANY, the Biden Admin is willing to give. Israel can't go ALL IN MIDDLE EAST WAR NOW w/o US backing.

Expect DC neocons + the Israel lobby to hype up the war narrative like CRAZY for the next few hours/days.

In my view, odds are that the Biden admin communicates "this is your shitshow" and tries to stay out of it.

In this case, we get scenario 1.

@K_DCWard2 - theres general agreement, quietly and sometimes overtly, that the military and industrial base is not in a position to sustain a peer conflict (delicate supply chains, ammunition production times, weak shipbuilding capacity, low recruitment numbers, falling standards, etc)

@K_DCWard2 - Despite a public narrative of "the economy is fine," it isn't: inflation isn't controlled, higher interest rates would put banks at risk, credit card/loan delinquency is going up, the non-cooked unemployment figures are bad, banks hinting they don't trust US debt, etc.

@K_DCWard2 - US is nonetheless committed its empire to the narrative of "if push comes to shove, we can defend ALL of our democratic allies".
- *THIS IS THE PERCEPTION THAT MATTERS* because if people *stop* believing that then they'll start bandwagoning.

@K_DCWard2 ("Hello, Chinese embassy? Yes, we also saw that the US lost an aircraft carrier in that missile attack and can't sustain two wars (Ukraine and Iran) at the same time. Yes, we *are* calling about doing a side deal. Yes, we'll hold for the ambassador.")

@K_DCWard2 - economic and diplomatic consequences of war w/ Iran would be bad: higher energy prices (in a fragile economy + already upset voters), regional partners saying "I want nothing to do with this" with no consequences, damage/deaths to already limited US manpower and hardware..

@K_DCWard2 - Basically, another war and its consequences could easily push the US (and thus its empire) over the edge because its system is already overwhelmed with challenges/threats/problems and it doesn't have the material resources/political capital to handle all of them.


@K_DCWard2 It's a genuine "there would be no winners" situation.


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More from @Smug_editing

Apr 14
Short Afternoon update.

Scenario 1 *seems* to be fulfilled.

Israelis are presently indicating that they're "satisfied" with hitting a Hezbollah facility and stating that being able to hold off the Iranian attack is, in itself, a (face-saving) victory.


It's indicated that the Israelis had decided on attacking back late last night/early this morning, but Biden impressed upon Bibi the importance of restraint.

(i.e., "STFU you got away with scratches, don't escalate this further bro have you seen the economy?")

Obviously, we gotta keep watch to see if anything reverses in the next few hours, maybe the next day or two.Bbut for now it looks like things are calming down.

(Israeli War Minister) Gantz's statement was probably the big tell: put revenge aside for now and instead...

3/6 Image
Read 6 tweets
Apr 14
Morning after follow-up on Iran v. Israel.

Short version: Scenario 1 playing out.

Iranians whacked Israelis hard enough to reestablish deterrence, while the White House is telling the Israelis that "if you want a war, get out of my house".

Longer explanation below.

So now that it's morning in Israel, whats happened?

We have the Israelis claiming like 99% of the drones/missiles/etc were intercepted.

Damage assessments are still coming in, but honestly, news reports indicate relatively minimal damage.

That said, the Iranians DID get hits in and the failure of some interception systems to stop some missiles is going to give Israel/Western defense analysts some very restless nights in the weeks to come.

So did Iran's attack achieve nothing?

Well... not quite.

3/x Image
Read 16 tweets
Feb 15
So I have *particular* insight into this issue — for reasons that shall remain unspecified — but can provide a summary as to why this is.

First, Armenia DOES have a powerful lobby, mainly in the United States and *ESPECIALLY* in France. Punches are definitely being thrown.

This is happening not just in the obvious political realm, but also in the intellectual/foreign policy/narrative realm.

Articles and think tank commentary on this are constant, from articles by .@mrubin1971 to whatever Armenian National Committee of America interns write.

(You also learn the tells of who is on which side. Calling Nagorno-Karbakh "Artsakh"? Armenian. Calling it just "Karabakh", emphasizing international law and thus that this was "occupied territory"? Azerbaijani. etc etc.)

Read 25 tweets
Feb 15
I watch my alma mater, Georgetown Uni., 'cause its a factory of the elite — i.e., a hypercompetitive, careerist, neolib environment overexposed to political trends.

But what happens when progressive demands hit THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE TOUCHED?

A short 🧵…
Right off the bat, one needs to understand that top uni's like Georgetown grant their students disproportionate advantages to their students.

Not just through the classes/professors, mind you, but via resources and connections facilitated by campus clubs.

One example: the Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association. This club can literally bring C-suite executives of fashion brands to speak on campus, and then benefit from these connections.


Read 20 tweets
Feb 12
You see a headline like this and think its out-of-touch young people with unrealistic expectations of wealth (thanks social media) who can't cope with the reality of being average.

Thats partially true. But the real issue is they can sense their impending doom.

Short 🧵

Over a decade ago, as a college student, I read this article in the Atlantic. Contrary to the title, it was more concerned with the impact of unfolding socio-economic and technological trends.

Short answer: the middle class was doomed.

Longer answer:

The article elaborated on three trends:
1) high-skill workers vs. low-skill workers (honestly, replace skill with "education")
2) Superstars vs. Everyone Else (ie, the superstar effect)
3) Capital vs. Labor (ie, returns on capital > returns on labor)

Read 15 tweets
Feb 4
But this recognizes that there is a *SIGNIFICANT* distinction between the private sphere in the public sphere.

The latter is entirely political at all levels. Apoloitical engineer brain and design has *problems* handling this reality.

In the public sphere, you HAVE to deal with other people.

Going back to the turnstile example: suppose an engineer designs a system that — somehow — CANNOT be cheated or skipped. You HAVE to pay to use it.

What would happen?

You'd get a legion of lib activist harpies, academics, journalists, and sympathetic government officials/bureaucrats SCREAMING that this system is discriminatory against Blacks/the poor/the disabled/whatever.

The now ~RACIST~ engineered solution would be dismantled ASAP.

Read 18 tweets

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