by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker blog
“Hitting, succeeding, and capturing, all these things, if they are not with a spiritually sacred dimension, they are nothing but defeat.”
– Imam Khomeini
Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, a response to a larger compound war that had percolated for several years, has been the subject of much quasi analyses. A vast majority of the compositions involves ad hoc cursory descriptions that concentrate on the “mechanics” of sub-operations within the operation, laical aims beneath the goal, secularly-defined methods & means, and varied temporal aftereffects discharged into a future material outcome that is concealed for now. In all these though, the critical “quintessence” has gone AWOL.
By critical “quintessence”, I mean careful and calculated use of a different kind of compass to navigate and approach the analyses and evaluation of methods, means, and outcomes. The sort of compass that actively and willfully transforms the nature of an exploration into relevant questions. Questions like: How do you measure “success” in a war, or in a battle, or in a military operation? What are the indicators by which you measure that success? Is success defined by the tangible and measureable superiority in domains of land, sea, air, inner space, outer space, and cyberspace? Is it measured by the square kilometers of land that is acquired and brought under control? Or, is it calculated by the number of hearts and minds captured, the number of injured produced, or the number of dead bodies accumulated? Is it in the number prisoners you take? Or, is it, perhaps, measured in Euro, Pound, Dollar, Rial, Yuan, Ruble, gold, silver, bitcoin, cubic feet of oil and gas, fluctuations in stock prices, and the like? Or, is it defined by how fast you announce “Mission Accomplished” while attired in a body gear that has been engineered to cause artificial ‘inflation’ in order to deflect attention from severe defects and shortcomings?
Source: Stephen Jaffe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. The guy in the middle is George W. Bush Jr. on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln where he delivered his “Mission Accomplished” speech regarding the illegal war of aggression against Iraq on May 1, 2003.
The author of an article titled, “is Putin’s goody two shoes behavior with his limited operation blowing up in his face?” had perhaps some sort of US American definition for “success” in mind when he wrote:
“It was doomed from the beginning by the Kremlin’s ridiculous assumption that Washington would permit the operation to be limited. The widening of the war was guaranteed. The fact that the war has widened is now understood by Russian TV hosts who say the proxy war in Ukraine between the US and Russia is over and Russia now faces a real direct war with the US and its NATO puppets. For Russia to continue in Ukraine, the Kremlin must fight a real war and knock out the government in Kiev and the governmental and civilian infrastructure that permits Ukraine to conduct war without Russian interference and which permits supply avenues for ever more dangerous Western weapons to be acquired by Ukraine. It is stunning that Putin thought he could drive Ukrainian troops out of Donbas and then sign an agreement ending the conflict.”
It appears what the author is essentially suggesting that Russia should have invoked a Russian version of ‘shock and awe’ operation, perhaps similar to what the US executed in Iraq three weeks after which it announced its mission as ‘accomplished’. How did that sort of “real war”, the sort that “knocked out the government and destroyed the governmental and civilian infrastructure” in Iraq worked out for you? How did it work for you in Afghanistan? How has it worked out for your parasitic Zionist regime in West Asia?
At any rate, I am referring to type of exploration that questions the questions and detonates their underlying usual and customary assumptions. To put all that into cognitively more accessible terms to fit my purpose, I may say, anybody can wage a war – that is easy. But to wage a war with the right adversary and to the right proportion and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy (adapting a rhetorical prose attributed to Aristotle).
But who is the right adversary? What is the right proportion? When is the right time? What is the right purpose? And most important of all, how is the right way determined?
The short answer is it depends. A bit longer answer is that it depends on your worldview, belief system, and ethical and moral framework based on which you are engaged in a war and the criteria according to which those belief systems and worldviews define success, and measure and evaluate its key indicators.
Here, I would like to focus on two major competing worldviews (from among several) that define and determine what that “right” is. One of the two worldviews belongs to Estekbar Jahani, or Global Arrogance, represented by US-Anglo-Zionist-West. The other worldview is that of Moghavemat, or the Resistance, represented by the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the nations and groups that are in this camp.
The rationale for examining the first worldview, belonging to the Global Arrogance, is quite obvious. For the most part, this worldview has wreaked havoc on our entire plant and has championed indiscriminate death and destruction anywhere it had been allowed to penetrate. We examine the second worldview, that of the Resistance, for two specific reasons. Firstly, it is the worldview that has been solidly standing up to the first worldview and limiting its spread for some time now. Secondly, it is the worldview that has currently formed a strategic partnership with Russia in her war against US-NATO (which is a segment of US-Anglo-Zionist-West).
I would also like to limit the focus of the essay regarding the indicators of ‘success’ in a war or military operations, on three specific indicators: the right purpose, the right method & tools, and the right proportion.
On with it. We have ample evidence that the first group, the Global Arrogance, believes itself to be the owner of the entire planet and everyone and everything in it. Thus, it arrogates to itself the right to consider anyone, anytime, and anywhere to be the right person, the right time, and right place to attack to get anything it wants if it can do so by getting away at minimum socio-political and economic cost to its clique. They prefer a hit and run sort of approach and pave their paths with blood and tears.
The report card, for the past few decades, of the representatives of the Global Arrogant worldview (US-Anglo-Zionist-West) is colorfully marked by illegal and aggressive wars and military operations against Lebanon (1982-1984), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), Islamic Republic of Iran, Persian Gulf (1987-1988), Panama (1989-1990), Iraq Persian Gulf (1990-1991), Iraq (1991-2003), Somali (1992-1995), Serbia (1992-1995), Haiti (1994-1995), Yugoslavia (1992-1995), Afghanistan (2001-Present), Yemen (2002-Present), Iraq (2003-Present), Pakistan (2004-Present), Somalia (2007-Present), Libya (2011-Present), Uganda (2011-Present), Sudan (2011-Present), and Syria (2014-Present), just to be brief.
For this camp, the right purpose has been $, Power, Oil; the right Methods & Means has been wholesale killing, stealing, lying, cheating, sanctions, torture –pardon me, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’—of prisoners, terror, chemical, biological, nuclear, and you name it; any means and methods, in short. The most savage, the better. As far as the right proportion is concerned, the limits appear quite limitless:
Leslie Stahl: “We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
So, this is another definition of “success” for the Global Arrogance:
Source: Images are a selection from a study titled “Living near an active U.S. military base in Iraq is associated with significantly higher hair thorium and increased likelihood of congenital anomalies in infants and children,” (2019). The study was conducted by a team of independent medical researchers. This photo was extracted from the Intercept, available online at: https://theintercept.com/2019/11/25/iraq-children-birth-defects-military/
The more one stirs up the US wars and operations, the worse it stinks. So, let’s move on.
I have better access to evidence regarding the indicators I mentioned with respect to the worldview of the Moghavemat, the Resistance, which is, as stated, represented by the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the nations and groups that are aligned in it. I will therefore draw on field evidence and demonstrate how we might determine the right purpose, the right method & tools, and the right proportion as well as how we evaluate and measure success in various operational domains, within the specific framework rooted in our belief system.
The Sacred Defense (Iraq-Iran war 1980-1988). Saddam of then Iraq, encouraged, fully supported, equipped to his teeth, and financed to no end by the West, the East, and the Middle, attacked the newly constituted Islamic Republic of Iran on Shahrivar 31, 1359 [September 22, 1980]. The attack was illegal, unjustified, and unprovoked. It was a coordinated attack along a 1,280 Kilometer Iran-Iraq border from the north most borderline to the south most shorelines plus the Persian Gulf and several major inner cities’ important infrastructures. The West provided him with the chemical and biological weapons for use and he did not say no.
Naturally, Iran had to defend itself. Let me add here that any religion, school of thought, charter, moral and ethical framework that does not recognize self-defense as an obligation (and not merely as a legitimate right) is not worth the paper on which it is written. Why? Because, people, when they view something as a right, they have this propensity to give up their legitimate and God-given rights easily, willingly, and rather foolishly. However, if they are taught to think of something as a duty and obligation, then they cannot easily let go of their obligation without expecting severe consequences. That expectation of severe consequence has great deterrent value—so we are taught by the Quran:
“Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and intended to expel the Messenger, and they were the first to begin their attack on you? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are true believers.” [Tawbah (Chapter 9, Verse 13]
From this verse, we understand that there are at least three types of people with whom we must fight: 1) People who willfully break their oaths, contracts, and any agreement they have made with us. 2) People who attempt to expel us from our land and dislocate us. 3) People who initiate an attack and aggress against us.
In our Sacred Defense against Saddam of Iraq, not just one but all three conditions were met. He tore up the 1975 Algiers agreement; he attacked our land and killed and displaced millions of our people; and he began to actually occupy segments of our land. In response, we had the duty to: 1) Fight him and his army and his allies. 2) Don’t fear any them. 3) Fear only God. So, the motivation, or the purpose for this war, on this end, for the people of Iran was, first and foremost, to fulfill their duties and defend their nation against the aggressors.
With respect to defense, Ayatullah Khamenei has a very interesting elucidation that I’d like to quote here. He says:
“Defense is a part of the identity of a nation that is alive. Any nation that cannot defend itself is not alive. Any nation that does not recognize the importance of defense is not alive, in a manner of speaking, it is not alive. We cannot have eyes and power of analysis to see deep and hostile plot of the Arrogance against Islam, the Revolution, and the Islamic System, yet not think about defending ourselves. God forbid the day this nation and its elected officials to neglect wretched and hostile aggression of Global Arrogance headed by the United States of America.”
As far as material “how,” or material methods & means were concerned, in the Sacred Defense, we did not have the luxury of choosing from among many ways and means. We had inherited a nation that had been entirely dependent on the Global Arrogance headed by the US-West, LLC for its military equipment and training. Billions of dollars sent by Shah to purchase military crafts and the like were blocked by the same entity. After the Revolution, even nails and barbed wires had been put on the list of sanctions. Quite amusingly, it was the only war over which the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist US-West had come together and had formed a perfect and united alliance against Iran. So, the Iranians did the best they could with what they had. And they succeeded. Iran’s territorial integrity remained intact.
What stands out the most for us, what is most valuable for us, however, is that the Islamic Republic of Iran did not use just any means. Weapons of mass destruction were out of question. Chemical and biological weapons were out of question. Hitting cities, towns, and people was out of question. When the Iranian cities and towns were being bombarded and innocent civilians were being killed, some voices from within Iran were asking for exact retaliation. Top officials went to visit Imam Khomeini to ask permission to respond in kind. Imam Khomeini, however, outright refused and said,
“You must take great care not to ever get angry and, due to the fact that they are bombing your cities and killing your loved ones, become inclined to respond in kind. But this way, you are not taking revenge from him [Saddam]. You must take your revenge from Saddam and the Baath regime, and you are doing that. Be careful though that not even a bullet is shot toward their cities. These are cities that are oppressed just like our Behbahan [a city in Iran] is oppressed. Basra, too, is oppressed. So is Mandali. All of them are under oppression. We must protect the human aspect of this to the end. We must protect the human aspects until our martyrdom or death and don’t submit to this anger that since he is doing this, we, too, must hit one of their cities. No, it’s not like this. The principles are Islam’s principles. This is Islamic Republic. Here, Islam rules. So, be mindful of yourself, of those who have power, of the government that has power, of the Guard that has power, of the military that has power, of Basij that has power, those who have power must, more than others, protect the human aspects, the Islamic aspects. They must spend this power in the right place and never violate its boundaries.”
We prostrate before God and thank Him for Imam Khomeini who helped protect and keep the soul of our nation unblemished. When he is talking about spending the power in the right place, he is in fact talking about the quintessential right method & means and the right proportion based on our beliefs. Thank God that this spirit manifested itself in the battlefields during the Sacred Defense.
Eight year of Iraq-Iran war also taught the Iranians to be self-sufficient in everything and taught the US-West, LLC a valuable lesson. It taught them that a war with Iran would not be a walk in the park. And the Iranians learned to become quite self-sufficient in bi**h-slapping the United States of America when the opportunities have presented themselves.
Source: Khabar Online News Agency. The arrest of US navy personnel near Farsi Island in Persian Gulf within the Iranian territorial water by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard on January 12, 2016. Photo was accessed online at: khabaronline.ir/x6fSc
Source: IRNA. Remains of the United States RQ-4A Global Hawk BAMS-D surveillance drone that had violated the Iranian air space over the Strait of Hormuz by IRGC on June 20, 2019.
Source: Image from Ayn al-Asad US airbase in Iraq after Operation Martyr Soleimani on Jan. 8, 2020 @ 1:20 am. Transcript and translation of a CBS interview by Bashgah Khabarnegaran Javan News Agency. Accessed online at: https://www.yjc.news/00WwDI
These are noteworthy events if we also note that in 2020, the military expenditure for the United States was 801 billion dollars (38% of the world total on military expenditure) and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s was 24.6 billion dollars (1.2% of World’s total). That is, the US spent 33 times more on all things military than Iran, yet, when slapped by Iran in Ayn al-Asad while the whole world was watching, the Commander in Chief of the United States of America’s most significant response was: “it didn’t hurt.” Well, that’s not exactly what we heard.
It perhaps is an opportune moment here to hear directly from Sardar Hajizadeh, the IRGC Commander who gave the order for Ayn al-Asad’s strike, about exactly how that event on January 8, 2020 proceeded. I have translated for you segments of an interview he gave on this topic last year. The full video in Persian could be accessed here.
Interviewer: We would like to re-visit that day when you heard he [Martyr Soleimani] had been martyred. What happened? Did you form a meeting? If you could, please talk about any of them that is not classified or is not a security issue.
Sardar Hajizadeh: There were discussions. At that point, we gave the highest probability for a direct fire exchange with [the United States of] America, hit some of their bases and they in turn to react to it. That high probability was expected among all groups, the political figures and the military figures. We considered all aspects. But it was impossible for us not to give a direct respond. Also, the honorable people of Iran must pay attention to this matter that [the US] America, after the World War II, after 75 years, during all these times, no nation had ever had any direct battle with them, or hit them. No one had done that. That is, no one had dared to do that.
After that operation, too, when I would meet with top military commanders from many countries, all of them would ask at the very beginning of the meeting, their first question of me would be this, ‘how did you possibly made this decision?!’
Sardar Hajizadeh: So, [US] Americans realized that Iran intends to do something and they began to issue threats.
Interviewer: The Americans?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Yes. It was the second day, the day after their terror act, Trump came and issued a direct threat. He said, ‘If Iran responds, we will hit 52 locations in Iran. So, it is under these circumstances that you are deciding to hit [US] America. And many people from many places [foreign officials & international organizations] were sending messages to us not to escalate, to cool down, or to do something later, and so on and so forth…
Interviewer: So, what happened next? They said they’ll hit 52 locations but the decision here did not change?
Sardar Hajizadeh: No, it did not. They would say quite solidly that they would absolutely hit 52 locations and we, too, made the solid decision to absolutely hit. Until the night before the operation, our decision was to hit Taji Camp. It is near Baghdad, near Kazmain. But the night before we changed our decision and decided to hit Ayn al-Asad.
Interviewer: Who had information that you were going to target Ayn al-Asad?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Very limited number of people had it. Just a few commanders of the Revolutionary Guard, for example, and the head of the Command Center, Major General Bagheri. Very limited number of people knew, we and only seven or eight other high commanders.
Interviewer: Did you inform Iraq? How long before the operation did you notify them?
Sardar Hajizadeh: See, there has been this ambiguity about this and they said something like…
Interviewer: …people say they [the US Americans] knew, they evacuated the location, they left….
Sardar Hajizadeh: Well, we will show you photographs and you will broadcast them. Almost in all US bases, they were on high alert and they did not know where exactly we were going to hit. But they were anxious. From Persian Gulf to Strait of Hormuz to Kuwait, from there to Iraq and to Jordan…everywhere they were giving high probability that we would respond. That day, after Hajj Qasem’s martyrdom, they distanced themselves about 500 kilometers from Makron shores. That is, they went outside of Hormuz Strait.
Interviewer: They were giving a high probability you hit, and they left.
Sardar Hajizadeh: Yes. So, all these talks that the Americans knew and all that, no, [the US] America did not know where we were going to hit. Decidedly they did not know.
[Videos and films were shown by Sardar Hajizadeh in the program that clearly showed the US forces had evacuated the Persian Gulf and had dispersed their planes to different locations in their various bases.]
Sardar Hajizadeh: Now you see the photographs of Al-Hodaid and A-Zahrra, when you look, before they martyred him [Martyr Soleimani], these fighter jets [pointing to photos] have their regular arrangements. The fighters are all lined up together. But after they martyred him [pointing to other photos], as they were worried about attacks from Iran, they spread them all over the taxiway, in different disparate locations. They spread it around. That means they adopted a full defensive posture. You see these navy ships here [pointing to Persian Gulf], these are from before their terror act. Now you see after the martyrdom, all of them are gathered up here. You see here is fully evacuated. This shows that they are worried they might be attacked. The same situation applies to their air bases.
Interviewer: When did we let the Iraqi’s know?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Half an hour before firing the missiles. Either through Quds Force or the Foreign Ministry, they informed the Iraqi Prime Minister that we intend to hit an airbase in Iraq.
Interviewer: Half an hour?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Half an hour. However, they did not know which base.
Interviewer: They did not even know which base?
Sardar Hajizadeh: No they didn’t. This half-an-hour notice, too, was only out of respect for the Iraqis since it was their land, they had decided to let them know half an hour before the strikes.
Interviewer: Had the number of missiles been determined, too?
Sardar Hajizadeh: We fired and hit them with 13 missiles.
[A video of the exact moment Sardar Hajizadeh is giving the go ahead for the strikes by phone is shown. I took a screenshot of the video [images below] at two separate moments. The first image is the moment Sardar Hajizadeh is giving the go ahead for the strike by phone and the second image is moments after that.]
The moment Sardear Hajizadeh is giving the order for the strikes on Ayn al-Asad: “Hit. Hit baba, Bismillah.”
Sardar Hajizadeh, having just ordered them by phone to fire the missiles, is explaining to those present in the command room: “You see we are firing one at a time [with pause] so that their people would have time to escape because we are not after mass killing. But that evil Trump committed such crime. Even at the time they were striking Haji’s vehicle with their missiles, the strikes on the two cars were done within a second from one another. He had not given them any opportunity [to get away].”
The fine point Sardar Hajizadeh is raising here is noteworthy because he is referring to a code in the rules of combat among the Iranian fighters and commanders. When striking a place where there are a lot of low-ranking soldiers, you fire in a way they would have an opportunity to run if you are able to provide them that opportunity, like Ayn al-Asad strikes. However, Trump had ordered striking Sardar Soleimani and Abu Mohandis Al-Mahdi and their companions while they were not even in a battlefield, or in a military base, or on high alert.
The interview continues…
Interviewer: Was Ayn al-Asad Operation complete success?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Yes. All missiles hit precisely where they were directed to hit. Precisely where they were meant to hit.
[Here, the interview has incorporated videos reports from Persian-language stations like BBC and the like about the strikes.]
Interviewer: One thing they say is this, ‘there was nothing at Ayn al-Asad when we hit it. What was the use of hitting Ayn al-Asad? The damage to [the US] Americans was not that significant.’ Could you expand on this a bit more?
Sardar Hajizadeh: You see, they could have killed Sardar Soleimani without admitting they did this. Why did they claim responsibility? Why? Because they wanted to say, ‘We have power. We hit and you cannot do anything.’ That was the whole story. And we RESPONDED, we HIT to say, ‘It is not like you can hit and run. If you hit, you will definitely be hit.’
[The interview is moved to a different location.]
Sardar Hajizadeh: You see, all of these have been destroyed. Here is the control center for UAVs. It’s destroyed.
Interviewer: Did they have any people who were killed?
Sardar Hajizadeh: Yes, they had people who were killed. The Iraqi people who were there they reported to us about the dead bodies they [the US Americans] were putting into bags. And they managed to kick out all of them [the Iraqis] within the first hours. Even when they were pulling out the dead bodies from underneath the rubbles. First they kicked out the Iraqis, then, they pulled the dead bodies out.
Sardar Hajizadeh: Yes, themselves.
[Toward the end of the interview, the interviewer asks, “Was this the retaliation/revenge?”]
Sardar Hajizadeh: This was the beginning of the revenge. I believe it was an important beginning and it demolished [the US] American’s grandiosity. But it is not yet finished.
Interviewer: Once we hit them, what happened next? What else were we ready for?
Sardar Hajizadeh: We were ready, in the event they responded, to start hitting the US bases. The beginning was Ayn al-Asad but the continuation was to be all bases in the region. That is, we had to hit all of them. We had prepared 400 missiles for the initial moments. We had prepared ourselves to escalate and continue the fight. But, well, the [US] Americans did not decide on continuing.
Interviewer: Did they even try to destroy any of our incoming missiles?
Sardar Hajizadeh: No. You see, these people have some capabilities. But we, too, know how to fight. We have learned a thing or two in these few years. We hit both their shield and themselves. All the bases they have in the region, you can do simultaneous strikes with 500 missiles, you can completely decommission them and hit them rather hard in a manner that would be hard for them to rehabilitate.
Sardar Hajizadeh: One day, I had a meeting with high commander of the Russian aerospace division, who had come to Iran. I showed him the videos of the Persian Gulf and was explaining to him how with drones we fly right overhead the US navy ships. He asked, “Don’t they hit? Don’t they see you? Aren’t you afraid?” I said [smiling], “General, test them!” He flew [the drone] over the US navy ship. I told him not to worry. You see, others are learning these moves. The head of Russian aerospace asked, “how come they don’t hit you?” I answered, “if they hit, we’ll hit back.”
Sardar Hajizadeh: At any rate, hitting Ayn al-Asad was not some small task. Some claim we coordinated things with them. If we were the sort to coordinate [chuckle] things with them, then, we wouldn’t have been having all these battles!
This article will continue, Inshallah.
 Imam Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye Noor, Vol. 19, Page 23, 1378.
 Ayatullah Khamenei. “Speech during a visit at IRGC Central Command: Jang Salari,” on Aban 29, 1368 [Nov. 20, 1989]. Accessed online at https://farsi.khamenei.ir/newspart-print?id=11062&nt=2&year=1368
 Imam Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye Imam. Center for Collection and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Work; 2nd Edition, Vol. 18, Pages 211-212. Tehran, 1379.
 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). “Trends in World Military Expenditure – 2021.” SIPRI Fact Sheet, April 2022. Accessed online at: https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2022-04/fs_2204_milex_2021_0.pdf