This is not something the MSM has been talking about, but after doing some research I think the resounding answer is YES.
Yes, we kicked Saddam's butt easily. Twice. Saddam may have been the worst military tactician the world has ever known. Both times he let us build up a huge force on his borders, and he let us attack first with our overwhelming airpower, and he tried to fight with us on our own terms.
Airplane against airplane, ship against ship, infantry man against infranty man, we can crush anything in the Middle East. But if the people running Iran's military have any sense, they will not let us attack first with overwhelming airpower, and they will fight asymmetrically against us.
Iran's biggest military buildup has been in the acquisition of missiles. Missiles are asymmetric weapons. They don't have to be as good as our missiles. They just have to be better than our defenses. Two Exocet missiles knocked out the USS Stark in the 1980s, and one Exocet missile (out of two fired) sunk the HMS Sheffield in the Falkland Islands war. Iran has hundreds of Exocet and Chinese anti-ship missiles.
If the U.S. has a naval fleet in the Perian Gulf, it could be a sitting duck for Iranian missiles. For our defense we have one or more Aegis cruisers that are supposed to be able to shoot down incoming missiles and protect the aircraft carrier. But who knows if this will really work in combat? If Iran launches a big attack with dozens of missiles simultaneously coming at our fleet, can the defense systems really shoot all of them down?
Iran has a lot of the latest Chinese missiles, and sure it's easy to say "ha, Chinese missiles must be crap," but Chinese engineers are pretty smart (visit the engineering department at any American college and count how many white American engineering students you see there) and if they can make DVD players and computer chips, they can also make effective missiles capable of shooting down our ships and planes. Once again, the Chinese missiles don't have to be as good as the best American missiles (but who says they aren't?), they just have to be better than our anti-missile defenses.
If Iran attacks first, there is the serious possiblity that the U.S. could suffer the worst naval defeat since Pearl Harbor.