Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Coming of the Bomb

Readers may want to download and read Getting Ready For A Nuclear-Ready Iran, from the US Army War College. It's a wide ranging discussion of the entire Iranian nuclear weapons issue set within the larger context of nonproliferation strategy. The basic premise is that it probably impossible for the US to stop an Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of a full-scale invasion. And once Iran acquires nuclear weapons it will simply be a matter of time before Arab states follow.

Yet, the truth is that Iran soon can and will get a bomb option. All Iranian engineers need is a bit more time 1 to 4 years at most. No other major gaps remain: Iran has the requisite equipment to make the weapons fuel, the know-how to assemble the bombs, and the missile and naval systems necessary to deliver them beyond its borders. ... As for eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities militarily, the United States and Israel lack sufficient targeting intelligence to do this. In fact, Iran long has had considerable success in concealing its nuclear activities from U.S. intelligence analysts and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. (The latter recently warned against assuming the IAEA could find all of Iran’s illicit uranium enrichment activities). As it is, Iran already could have hidden all it needs to reconstitute a bomb program, assuming its known declared nuclear plants were hit. ...

What should we expect when, in the next 12 to 48 months, Iran secures such a breakout option? If the United States and its allies do no more than they have already done, two things. First, many of Iran’s neighbors will do their best to follow its “peaceful” example. Egypt, Algeria, Syria, and Saudi Arabia will all claim that they too need to pursue nuclear research and development to the point of having nuclear weapons options and, as a further slap in Washington’s face (and Tel Aviv’s), will point to Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program and Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal to help justify their own “civil” nuclear activities. Second, an ever more nuclear-ready Iran will try to lead the revolutionary Islamic vanguard throughout the Islamic world by becoming the main support for terrorist organizations aimed against Washington’s key regional ally, Israel; America’s key energy source, Saudi Arabia; and Washington’s prospective democratic ally, Iraq.

Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon may have more than regional significance. It could mark the final end of efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and provide Islamic terrorism with a nuclear deterrent. Islamic terrorism will literally be a Great Power. The study comes to the conclusion that only a regime change will remove the sinister edge from these developments.

Ultimately, nothing less than creating moderate self-government in Iraq, Iran, and other states in the region will bring lasting peace and nonproliferation. This, however, will take time. Meanwhile, the United States and its friends must do much more than they are currently to frustrate Iran’s efforts to divide the United States, Israel, and Europe from one another and from other friends in the Middle East and Asia; and to defeat Tehran’s efforts to use its nuclear capabilities to deter others from taking firm action against Iranian misbehavior.


An earlier post argued that only a regime change could keep Teheran from getting a nuclear weapon. Since the US Army War College paper cannot envision that happening in the short term, what we are left with then, is a new Cold War with an ideology as strong -- and probably much stronger than -- Marxism in its prime. It's hard to remember, now that the Berlin wall is a relic whose fragments have literally been sold for souvenirs, how perilous a time the Cold War was. It took more than 100,000 American lives on the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam. On at least once occasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US and the Soviet Union came close to the nuclear brink. The difference between the Cold War and the new prospective struggle is that the former was between nations while the latter is between nations and secret societies bound together only by a common hatred.

Diplomats and statesmen since the Treaty of Westphalia had grown accustomed to seeing nothing smaller than nation-states. This conceptual blindness prevented foreign ministries, academics or the United Nations -- the very name a testament to the limits of its sensibility -- from understanding that sub-national units under the banner of a world religion could arise to challenge the established international order. It was simply impossible, and yet it was. In retrospect all the signs were there. Though globalized business, unprecendented mobility, worldwide communications long weakened the prerogative of nations, they were still regarded as supreme. The world grew accustomed to the growing influence of transnational corporations without realizing that the same factors would empower other forms of transnational organization. H.G. Wells described how complacent men could be in the presence of unseen but growing danger.

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

With a few changes Wells' paragraph could describe the mixture of smug amusement with which the Western intellectual elite watched the growing number of Wahabist mosques, the photography of landmarks, the application for flying lessons and the attendance at courses of nuclear physics by students from older worlds. They laughed, for nothing could threaten the dominion of Western Man, supreme in his socialized state at the End of History. Even after September 11 the only question for many was how soon history would return to normal after a temporary inconvenience. Little did they imagine that the expansion of the European Union, the Kyoto Agreements and Reproductive Rights -- all the preoccupations of their unshakable world -- might be the least of humanity's concerns in the coming years.


Blogger sammy small said...

The words of J. Robert Oppenheimer seem very prescient at the moment. The current situation is a turning point towards fulfilling this scenario, or taking the necessary action to keep things in check a little longer.

1/17/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The one problem with comparisons to the Cold War is that it doesn't convey the sense of campaign. The struggle to preserve the West will be a long one, requiring patience, global strategy and internal reform. Survival will go to the side that proves most adaptable. It would be a mistake to think Islam is so rooted in the past that it cannot change to meet the circumstances. The Western left is as ossified a thing as can be imagined and impractical to boot.

1/17/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


You write:

It would be a mistake to think Islam is so rooted in the past that it cannot change to meet the circumstances...

Would you agree that Iraq is really a major test of this assertion? So far, the Iraqis have seemed to me ready to adapt to the modern world far more readily than I would have imagined a few years ago. But the reactionary forces of Islam seem to be in the ascendancy virtually everywhere else.

Jamie Irons

1/17/2006 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

It is unfortunate that the Democrats, and those further to the left, are playing the pacifist role played by the parties of the left in the 1930s in France and England. We now stand at a moment rather like the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 - though we are not really militarily or psychologically prepared for an all-out war with Iran, we have a choice of fighting a nasty war now, or a truly horrific one later.

A war now will face significant opposition at home and abroad, but at least the opposition will be alive to bitch. Should the Iranians and/or other Islamic fanatics get nuclear weapons tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Europeans and Americans will almost certainly die, and in response, tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of Iranians and Arabs will have to die, because it will be a war to the death.

This pleases me not at all. Especially as the fecklessness of the Europeans and the left in America is the root of a lack of Western will just as it was in the 1930's. What could have been done with a few battalions of special forces in 1979 -- or even with arms to the Shah in 1978 -- will now take divisions and result in a major war. Eight years of Clinton's fecklessness, and the current treason of the left, only make it harder for America to defend the West.

I only hope that President Bush will soberly analyze the situation, mobilize the country fully for a major war, and do what needs to be done.

1/17/2006 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Jamie Irons,

Perhaps I should say that the greatest weakness has been the unwonted assumption of superiority that first prevented the West from seeing the rising danger or taking it seriously, then misled it into thinking that a few trinkets administered through traditional diplomatic channels would win the day. What did one European diplomat say about Iran? 'What else do they want?' And now it's 'stop or we'll report you to the United Nations.'

So it seems to me that part of the solution should be for the West to acquire a real respect for their adversary. Military forces acquire this quickly. But I think that many Western intellectuals still think that in Islam they are dealing with gomers in picturesque clothes, not serious rivals to their own ideas.

1/17/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...


I for one am not ready for a nuclear Iran. It will mean the end of all existing regimes of both deterrence and proliferation.

I advise all who are concerned to write your elected officials and tell them.

And as far as capability, it'll be ugly, dirty, and Iraq will look like a Sunday school picnic, but we can invade Iran if we must.

1/17/2006 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...

. . . above should read "nonproliferation" not "proliferation" . . .

1/17/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


I don't know what the right course is. But just now I was reading up on Napoleon's campaign of 1812. Initially, he planned to advance only as far as Minsk and consolidate his rear. If necessary he would reopen the campaign against the Tsar in 1813. As it happened, Napoleon went for Moscow in 1812 and lost everything. Had he gone for Minsk ... Who knows?

My own sense is that a great deal of preparation is necessary to sustain the campaign against the ayatollahs. Some of it is political. Some operational, by which I mean improvements to intelligence. Has it really been more than four years since September 11? And how far have our spy agencies come since then?

The Iraq campaign, I think, was an absolutely necessary preliminary to the endeavor ahead because it enabled us to identify the weaknesses in our human infrastructure and knowledge, but most important of all, to discover which of our assumptions was valid.

Personally I think the policy towards Iran will be decided by Iran itself; in how it reacts over the next months and what that tells us about the available options.

1/17/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

What the wast does not understand is that the Iranians hate hindus & christians and other moslems MORE than they hate jews...

trust me, if every jew were dead, would still have a world issue with iran and nukes...

why wait til they are loaded and armed?

why wait for a traditional "fair" fight?

they are all are screaming death to america and death to israel...

they are funding hezbollah & hamas (dont forget the saudis)

time to start arming iranians to rebel

time to start paying iraqi merc's to blow up iranian pipelines

time to start smuggling porn and drugs into iran

time to start general chaos in iran

or, wait and fight a nuke exchange

1/17/2006 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Would Iran hesitate to send nuclear missiles into Israel, knowing that they would suffer a retaliatory strike in return?

I believe not. The old Sting song lyric comes to mind: "I hope the Russians love their children too." This was meant to be a sly dig; of course the Russians love their children.

The Iranian mullahs do not. They await the coming of the messiah from the well and their ticket to his return is the destruction of the Jews.

Israel has to know this. They are going to have to strike Iran even if we don't help them. They are going to have to strike even if they are not going to be completely successful in removing all the Iranian nuclear sites.

I hope America lends them all the planes, fuel, ammo, and quiet support they need. I believe that Israel has no other choice.

Or do you think they can let Iran get nuclear weapons and hope that they won't use them?

1/17/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

Sadly I must comment that the West has all but lost. If Iran is allowed to acquire the “bomb” in defiance to the West and as the path finder for other Muslim nations the death throws will have only begun for us.
Looking at the past 100 yrs, or at least since the end of the Ottoman Empire one sees how Islam was spread, not thru traditional conquering as in the past but by eating a county piece by piece until they control enough to outright suppress or convert and then kill the remain indigenous population, one need only look at what’s happening in Asia and Europe to see it! But what has or will change is with its radical core safe with ability to stare down any western government with the threat of up front nuclear war while being able to threaten if not use those devices thru proxy, time is all that remains for the complete submission of the world and its decent into ages darker then ever known by man since the flood!
I for one, a father want not what it will take to stop this evil which has snuck like a thief in the night and now holds a sword to the throat of freedom and liberty. There is so much to lose in this short period of time.

1/17/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I don't think Iran will be a significant regular military threat inside of five years. At most they'll have a score of nukes. The real peril is the tide of destabilization they can unleash if they support terrorism with WMDs or start a regional arms race. To stop that the West will need capabilities of which those developed for OIF represent only a beginning. Large numbers of local language speakers; intelligence; familiarity with the region, etc. On the domestic front, I think the West needs to discover a sense of mission born of real danger because realistically speaking the crisis cannot be met in the current political climate.

1/17/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger anonymouscoameq said...

"Diplomats and statesmen since the Treaty of Westphalia had grown accustomed to seeing nothing smaller than nation-states. This conceptual blindness prevented foreign ministries, academics or the United Nations -- the very name a testament to the limits of its sensibility -- from understanding that sub-national units under the banner of a world religion could arise to challenge the established international order."

The terrorists aren't getting the bomb unless Iran or another nation gives it to them.

If Bush is consistent he will apply the same preemption doctrine to Iran that he did to Iraq and take military to neutralize the mullahs. Iran is quickly becoming a nation with wmd and it already supports international terrorism.

1/17/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard: Once more I call for someone to revisit Herman Kahn's work and "Rethink the Unthinkable". I think you and others are getting there, but it is time to assemble it all into a competantly edited package.

The world certainly spins, does it not? Following the collapse of the USSR, the 90's seemed to teach us that future challenges would be Somaila-like rather than Pershings versus SS-22's. While I was at the Pentagon the argument was being advanced - albeit slowly - that all of this missiles and outer space stuff would no longer be needed. Close air support and small unit ground actions would be the order of the day. This was summed up by an Army Ranger who said "Space is not important to me. As long as my M-16 and this GPS unit works, I am fine." The fact that he could make such an absurd statement sounded fine to some people, too.

As for the "gomers in colorful costumes" attitude, let me repeat
my observation that a key but understated element of the Anti-Vietnam War movement was racist contempt. Those little people in the silly coolie hats could do us no harm, and who cared about the gooks anyway? The fact that such an attitude was presented as a righteous attack on a "racist war" - and still is, is all the more remarkable.

1/17/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mister Ghost said...

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine...

So, nothing short of a Regime Change will prevent Iran from developing Nuclear Weapons (and
don't forget they already have a ballistic capability).

So, initiate a Regime Change.

Why the squeamishness in getting rid of a collection of Messianic Hitler-Wannabees who want to bring
chaos and destruction to the planet so the Twelfth Mahdi will return in all his glory from his well or cave, wherever he occulted himself to, and return to usher forth a milieu of
Islamic Peace and Justice with Jesus by his side (Wonder if Jesus will be there willingly)?

Ronald Reagan had no problem squashing everyone's favorite stylin' Dictator Moammar when he was misbehaving, so why shouldn't Bush do the same with the Iranian leadership and the Mullahs?

Isn't this after all a War of Prevention?

And there's certainly a lot to prevent, when we all know if the Iranians get the bomb, the Saudis are going to go Ape-Khakha crazy and get their own Nuclear program revved up - Do you really want the compromised Saudi Government producing weapons, a goodly chance that some of them will end up in Al Qaeda's hands? And never mind the thought of all these half-baked regimes in the Mideast tossing Nukes at each other and taking out oil production and issuing a major global financial collapse.

1/17/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

your comment posted at 7:44 illustrates my point about our being at a 1936 type cross-roads. Of course we do not have the capabilities we need and should be trying to get them post haste. And, we clearly do not have the domestic or international Western consensus we would like to have for action.

But, as our capabilities can grow, so can those of Iran and its myrmidons the Islamists. You suggest we have a 5-year window. I think that if we wait those 5 years the number of dead in the ensuing war will be at least an order of magnitude, perhaps two orders of magnitude greater than if we strike now while our superiority in 'national strategic means' remains overwhelming.

I know this sounds overly dramatic, but I honestly believe that to avoid the fight before the Iranians acquire nuclear weapons is to ensure the fight with Islam turns into a Vernichtigungskrieg - a war of extermination.

1/17/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

This is as I have suspected, that while the US could kill people and break things and really throw a wet blanket over the efforts of the Mullahs, it can not stifle the ambitions of the regime. There is enough critical mass in infrastructure and distributed facilities that air strikes alone would not completely denude the Iranian program. It is very likely that the mullahs have a Plan B as well. Such a plan would likely be a nasty form of retaliation using there vast network of terrorist agents and affiliates. Think dirty bombs.

Various reactor products in the form of enriched uranium and plutonium have specific spectral signatures. The raw, natural isotopes have specific regional characteristics, i.e. it is possible to analyze the isotopic products from a blast and definitively say that this was a Russian bomb. No doubt such signatures from Iranian materials exist.

Saud’s Rule out Nuclear Parity
“Prince Saud told the BBC that the West was partly responsible for the current stand-off with Iran over its nuclear policy because, he said, it had helped Israel develop its own nuclear arsenal.
But when asked how Saudi Arabia would respond if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, he ruled out joining the nuclear arms race.
He said nuclear weapons benefited no-one and that if Iran were ever to use them against Israel, it would end up killing Palestinians.”

1/17/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One wonders if other options short of actual ground invasion, may suffice. For instance, air power advocates might suggest a sustained bombing campaign, targeting not just the nuclear program, but other elements of the ruling regime's power base as well.

The problem with such campaigns, is that the adversary retains the option to escalate, so we had better be prepared both physically and psychologically for a ground war if we take such action, even if we don't want one.

1/17/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

The tone of recent press reports, and even the tone on this blog, is that the west has lost and Iran will get a bomb.

I am not convinced that Iran will get a bomb. I am not convinced that international political efforts backed by US power will fail to deter Iran. I am not convinced that the US and Israel lack sufficient targeting information to militarily preempt Iran’s plans. I am not convinced that the US military is too weak to unilaterally invade and cause regime change.

I believe the coalition to prevent Iranian nuclear ambitions, if it may be called that at this stage, holds the upper hand in almost every aspect that can be brought to bear. On the political side Iran is largely isolated. Each speech by Ahmadinejad (sp?) further exacerbates the isolation. Iran’s European trading partners already express a willingness to apply economic sanctions. Russia and China are problem states, but American pressure on China including economic sticks and carrots can be persuasive. If Russia cannot be persuaded, the US should form a coalition of the willing outside of the UN to apply and enforce economic sanctions. Sanctions should be backed by American led blockade of sea, land, and air trade routes. I believe a combination of sanctions and blockade can cripple the Iranian economy and cause widespread internal discontent in a fairly short period of time, 6 to 18 months.

On the military side the issue is not Iranian strength; the issue is Western will. I believe that American military strength, possibly combined with Great Britain, is sufficient for full-scale invasion and lesser operations. I believe that a comprehensive operation with the objective of destroying or damaging all known Iranian nuclear facilities and that included targeted bombing and Special Forces raids could significantly slow down Iranian bomb making activities, even lacking perfect intelligence and targeting data. Combined with sanctions and blockade, the operation just described could buy significant time for external political pressure and internal discontent to change Iranian minds.

On the issue of intelligence and targeting, we do not need perfect information. We need good information. Disruption of a significant percent of Iranian bomb facilities is good enough in the scenario just described. Western press reports that indicate we lack sufficient data for military strikes are just that, Western press reports. I am inclined to believe that US and Israeli information is better than reported.

All is not lost; not even close. Prepare yourself for a nasty confrontation. What we need is the will to win.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

1/17/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

Destabilization is an understatement. Once armed with nukes, there can be no retaliation for aggression on the part of Iran. Nukes and massive energy contracts with the next world's superpower China - what more could the mullahs want? How easy would it be to destabalize small European nations visa via their muslim populations? It would be even easier to destablize nations like Jordan, even Egypt. The recent burning in France was just a feint, a probe. As the Caliphate expands, those on the edge can and will live in marginal existence while the center stays strong. This is the real turning point for Western civilization. there is no return if Iran attains nuclear weapons.

1/17/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Bigger Diggler said...

I think it is time that we adopt Moshe Dayan's strategy, when the early going in the Yom Kippur wasn't going well for Israel.

Dayan gave a press conference, and the main topic of discussion was whether Israel would resort to the use of nukes. Dayan announced "It is the policy of Israel to never be the first to use nuclear weapons."

That was the last question and answer, so Dayan steps away from the mike, thinking that it was turned off at the close of the press conference.

He mutters "And we won't be the second ones, either."

1/17/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...


I think you are absolutely correct. Bomber advocates have been claiming they could do the job alone ever since Billy Mitchell sank the Ostfriesland with Keystone bombers in the 1920s. And, with the sole exception of the most recent Balkan war against the Serbs, they have been proven wrong. Air power can neutralize the enemies defenses and smash it's infrastructure and industries (to the extent they are insufficiently dispersed and hardened), but cannot destroy an enemy's will to fight or render it's entire military capicity hors d'combat. That requires boots on the ground. And, boots on the ground will require a ruthlessness inversely proportional to the number of troops available: fewer troops can take fewer risks and must be prepared to accept a higher amount of enemy military and civilian casualties than a larger force, as they must completely eliminate any possibility of resistance.

This is likely to get very ugly, and require half-a-million men on the ground in the Middle East before we're through.

1/17/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger DSmith said...

The most serious problem we face is our lack of will. All the other issues could be overcome, with effort. But there will be no effort while there is no will.

Unfortunately, given the political realities in the West today, the only thing that could possibly cause us to develop the will would be a massive attack on us. Therefore I think that we will continue to fiddle until Rome is well-burning, and then we'll get serious. Pray it is not too late by then. But I think we might as well just resign ourselves to the fact that a city of the West is going to die. The fantasies of the Left make it a requirement.

Katrina's New Orleans is only a foretaste.

1/17/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

There seems to be a tendency in this blog to harken unto historical precedents, speculation as to the intentions of Islamofascists with a nuclear weapon, and exploration of remote options to allowing Iran to produce nuclear weapons.

Recently, however, several posters have reached the same conclusion: that there is really only one way to solve this problem, and that is by invading Iran and displacing the current government.

There is no other power balance point, and even if there was one, it would be unstable, since it would be driven by the fanatics in Iran.

We should be preparing for all out war with regimes and groups that follow radical Islamic objectives.

1/17/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

If I were an Iranian Mullah intent on getting the bomb, I might decide the best way to get there would be through a bit of misdirection. I might put up a nutjob like Ahmadinejad to see how far I could push things, and then, if and when things got too hot, eliminate him, replacing him with a much more "moderate" Islamic ruler who would make soothing, cooing sounds about peace and co-operation and, yes, even nuclear non-proliferation. And of course the world would sigh with relief and not care to push too hard to make sure Iran was not still pursuing a nuclear-tipped weapon because, well, after all the Iranians are now saying more or less the right things and, besides, they are now letting inspectors look at some of the facilities we know about, at least.

Of course, there would still be the intransigent voices of those who would remain unconvinced, but they would easily be dismissed now as Neanderthal warmongerers.

And the world would go on about its happy way until, one day, out of the blue, it wouldn't.

1/17/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

A bombing campiagn if it distributes radioactive material can become a humanitarian crisis as well. A sustained bombing campaign could create multiple dirty bomb scenarios in Iran in populated areas.

The use of Nukes in the ME would be a vast crisis due to fallout issues. In a region with little water and regional interdependence for food and water, dense and young populations, there is no place to run - geographically or in time. The Mediterranean connects all of Europe and much of Africa to the ME as well. Air patterns could push fallout in many directions. This threatens all sane nations and people from Europe to Central Africa all the way to central Asia.

Thus, the only valid military scenario is a ground and airborne invasion with air strikes used to facilitate ground combat and operational manuever. You would want to close the entrances to the sites and keep them closed but not destroy them.

1/17/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

DSmith said...

"The most serious problem we face is our lack of will. All the other issues could be overcome, with effort. But there will be no effort while there is no will. Unfortunately, given the political realities in the West today, the only thing that could possibly cause us to develop the will would be a massive attack on us... ...I think we might as well just resign ourselves to the fact that a city of the West is going to die. The fantasies of the Left make it a requirement."

DSmith has stated the ugly truth about our current situation. I believe the root of our problem is in having been culturally damaged by decades of skillful agitation and propaganda from the Soviet Union. Our western culture swallowed so much poison from that conflict that it will take decades to completely heal. Unfortunatley the islamic fascists are not going to allow us that luxury (perhaps they sense our weakness). I suspect the Iranians will get their bomb and our conflict with the islamic fascists will involve nuclear warfare. After we have lost one or two major cities and a hundred million people have died in the Middle East, we need to put our own leftists under a magnifying glass and ask ourselves: "Why are we still tolerating this nonsense?"

1/17/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Well, the next Gun Show in my area is the last weekend in January... I guess I can finally justify putting semi-automatic rifles and cases of bullets on the credit card. Sometimes I've just gotta find the bright side of things.

When the dirty bombs hit Isreal, India, Europe, or the US, I only ask that all those fools who made the "Bush Lied Over WMD" arguments be forced to work the rescue operations without protective gear.

1/17/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

The paper is very interesting.

The authors home in on Iran's oil infrastructure and fields which are concentrated in the SW corner of Iran. They call it the Achilles Heel. They also single out the Straight of Hormuz as the Achilles Heel of the West. They ignore the conventional SRBM/MRBM threat, but mention the terrorist threat overseas and in the region.

I can also see where Iran could strike at oil facilities outside of the ME - say Nigeria or Russia or Venezuela as well. Pipelines criss cross Europe, too. The Alaskan Pipeline...

1/17/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Wretchard said in a comment above:

"I don't think Iran will be a significant regular military threat inside of five years. At most they'll have a score of nukes. The real peril is the tide of destabilization they can unleash if they support terrorism with WMDs or start a regional arms race."

If you are right, and I believe you are, then I think GWB has created a priceless asset for us by showing that we have the will to summarily destroy regimes which sponsor terror. I think he did this quite deliberately, thinking seriously about the sort of time frame and the very same issues you are addressing here.

1/17/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...


I noticed something similar:
"Assuming the worst―a complete closure of the
Straits of Hormuz―this bypass system is estimated to be capable of reducing the economic impact to the United States to a loss of only
1 percent of gross domestic product."

This is describing a $600M upgrade to pipelines across Iraq and Saudi to the Red Sea that has not yet even started. I shudder to think what a complete closure would look like tomorrow.

Note to Self: Add Army Surplus gas cans to list. That little 4G lawnmower one ain't gonna cut it.

1/17/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...


I concur with you. Ahmadinejad almost got taken out in mid-December - followed by a number of Revolutionary Guard commanders not walking away from a rather hard landing in January. Coincidences occur so it may have been one. Or it may be politics as usual in the ME.

I do not see Ahmadinejad remaining on the scene for any length of time but his demise will not assuage my concerns. I also do not forsee the winners of a civil war in Iraq turning over the keys to the nuclear program to IAEA no matter which side wins.

I would favor a rather leisurely bombing campaign that reduced all known and guessed nuclear sites while also reducing all identifiable military assets to scrap. I would also strongly favor letting the Iranians pay for their own rebuilding.

Invading Iran would be a waste of time and effort. Reducing it through a thorough bombing campaign which would not stop short of complete surrender and full access for reconaissance teams is worth consideration. We left most of Iraq's infrastructure intact - there is noo reason to do so in Iran and no reason to make an idiotic statement such as Powell's 'Pottery Barn Rules' before or after.

Let them spend the next thirty years rebuilding bridges, power stations, the entire communications grid etc. They've got the money to do it and its a good use of their time.

1/17/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Filbert said...

Here we go, lurching into a civilization-threatening crisis about eighty years after the last one began in earnest, right on time for Strauss & Howe's Fourth Turning.

I agree with those who've pointed out that we do have the technical capability to deal decisively with this challenge, but I do not see the political will to do so--not right now, with feckless Europeans, and the American opposition more seriously discussing Bush's impeachment than what to do about a nuclear Iran.

History does not guarantee that western liberal democracy will prevail.

1/17/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

wretchard said...
I don't think Iran will be a significant regular military threat inside of five years.

So losing tel aviv would be ok?

what's a insignificate military threat? 400,000 israelis dead?

personally i am quite tired of the world telling the jews to sit quitely while mass murder is planned, organized and paid for inadvance (how long has iran been lieing to the west about nukes? 17 YEARS) (how long has iran been telling the world it wants america and israel destroyed?) 1978?

After seeing the 1100 yrs of murder from the christian west apexing with the nazis and now seeing 700 yrs of islamic treatment of jews coming to a head after ethnic cleansing the 21 nations they now control (forget the other 85 islamic turd-like countries that are just jew haters without jews) What PROOF do we need more than their own words?

No wretchard, this is one of the few points i take issue with...

Have you seen what these morons can do with car bombs?

Why wait? Start removing all traces of post 1492 technology from iran now, anything in iran at this point in time that needs batteries should be destroyed. They DONT DESERVE RUNNING WATER. Let the people of Iran worry about growing FOOD.

If these assholes HAD nukes now, would they NOT already have massed murdered MORE? Have you watched their military parades with long range missles with messages written on them?

It's a shame that the place of the JEWISH Queen Esther of Iran at this point in time the people of Haman have been brought back to life...

Choice is simple.. defend yourself or die...

sorry to be so black and white, but i have seen irainian love expressed thru bus bombs, nothing like seeing your friends and cousins (en mass) turned into human hamburger, simply for eatting a pizza, taking a bus, or attending a seder..

so yes, any country that bases it's exisitance on the turning my kids into bloody pulp should be PREEMPTIVELY erased...

no more excuses...

1/17/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger ed said...


I don't want to poison what little reputation I have here, if any, but this entire scenario has a bit of a deja vu component to it.

About 15+ years ago I was watching some television after a particularly grueling day at the office. The tv show on was one of those narrated docu-drama things about Nostradamus. In this show they discuss about a coming apocalypse where the Middle East, possibly Persia, allies with Russia and instigates a nuclear war with America and the West.

I realise that this is rather absurd. But this show was on almost twenty years ago when nobody was predicting this sort of scenario.

Frankly I don't know what else to say.

1/17/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

This is a sobering and disturbing thread. Clearly, the Iranian President feels invulnerable behind his oil spigot, and destruction of that spigot is one of the greatest dangers of war in this region.

Bush committed us to this larger war, and I feel it was the right thing to do and should have been done sooner to prevent the attacks of 9/11 (not just Iraq or Afghanistan, but the overall confrontation with our declared enemies). All those who mocked his "Axis of Evil" statement are crowing no longer.

One can not but consider that the Bush-hating Dems have been an encouragement to our enemies, perhaps encouraging them to over-play their hand. Putin's statement recently that he is coming to join the Western point of view may be a result of this over-play by Iran. If so, the Dems may have done us a favor by duping Iranians to re-believe the myth of the Paper Tiger.

1/17/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

Do not misunderestimate George Bush (though he rather likes it when you do).

He knows very well that there is only one country, and indeed, only one man, who can do anything real about Iran.

He is also a man who fights one major battle at a time. (Iraq isn’t -- quite -- over). And he doesn’t foolishly “telegraph his next punch” (as fools always wish him to do).

Partly, he is waiting for the world’s self-declared “intellectual elites” (at least such of them as have any brains) to finally recognize the nature of the Iranian regime -- and then get good and scared about a new cold war with suicidal religious fanatics that have nukes. (That’s happening -- sloooowly.)

Then at least some of them will stop their “helpful” carping and “stfu” out of relief when he finally moves.

And yes, I’m talking about folks like Michael Ledeen and other loose cannons, who have long seen the dangers, but have never heard of the concepts of “one step at a time – in the proper order”; and “don’t bite off more than you can chew”.

Do not misunderestimate George Bush.

“Old King Log lay in the river day after day letting all the twittering little birds walk (and crap) all over him – while the currents slowly took him down close to the big bird. And then they all found out: That’s Not a Log.”

Do not misunderestimate George Bush.

1/17/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Comments from an ex US Colonel on Iran military options. He is supposedly a ME expert.


He ignores the Iranian options at the straight of Hormuz, SRBM/MRBM strikes, and regional or international terrorism and what the Coalition will need to do to mitigate these.

The MSM and the talking heads are 3-4 weeks behind the blogosphere.

1/17/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Siezing the oil fields, straight of Hormuz, and the bank accounts may be the easiest option.

This would deprive Iran of money and the means to make it while totally destabilizing the regime.

As for oil contracts - China will get its oil regardless of who has the oil or who is heading up Iran. They understand this as well.

1/17/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Russia is not coming around. The statement from their ambassador was, to put it mildly, ridiculous:

"We agree that the United Nations should discuss the Iranian issue, but we disagree that we should actually do anything about it. Sanctions don't work, as we've seen in Iraq, where the very presence of sanctions forced us to violate them, which then, of course, made them ineffectual, which then, of course, led us to this war.

Sanctions, when they are violated, become ineffective. Ineffective sanctions either lead back to the status quo--once they crumble--or they lead to war. We don't want war, now do we?

Chorus Line: Iraq...Iraq...Iraq

By all means, let us talk. However, let's not upset the careful balance we have built in the meantime. After all, the only way Russia won't violate sanctions is if we don't have any. Worse, were our perfidy once again allowed, it could very well lead to a new war. QED."

I quote from memory.

1/17/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

And who can now say meme creation is not consequential. The singular meme that Iraq is a failure rather than a success--a small, measureless, and largely arbitrary characterization--may now determine whether the Iran War of 2006-2007 happens, or whether the Great War of 2010-2020 happens.

History balances on the edge of a knife, while our perceptions determine our future reality.

1/17/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger ajveros said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger ajveros said...

Some people just don't get it that Iran is not omnipotent - they claim oil, they claim that Ahmadinejad doesn't care about sanctions, they claim everything under the sun as to why we can't stop Iran... as for the oil claim, when did oil become the deciding factor in who should be allowed WMD?

1/17/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Aristides, while your memory of the Russian ambassador's statement may be somewhat suspect, your characterization seems to me entirely accurate.

1/17/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

Much of the population of the West is in much need of a cold slap of reality. After 911, and even after the Iraq War, we have been lulled into a false dream sleep. The typical American is completely divorced from the reality of the GWT and is, at most, only peripherally concerned with the GWT. After the cold slap in the night comes (and however hard it comes is to be determined) I hope like hell team Bush-Blair have a dandy of strategic and tactical plan. Otherwise, we could be in for a long "Planet of the Apes" moment.

1/17/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Eleanor © said...

Iran is only one tree is this huge Islamic forest. The Islamist movement is dropping seedlings all over, and any one of them is convinced of the righteousness of their cause. They won't hesitate to use wmds acquired from the unscrupulous that can be found in all corners of the world. My concern is that they and their weapons are among us now.

1/17/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Russia, China Won't Bring Iran Before U.N.
Russia and China affirmed Monday that Iran must resume its freeze on certain nuclear activities, but refused a call by the Americans and the Europeans for the issue to be put before the U.N. Security Council. [Houston Chronicle]

1/17/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

It is possible to Imagine the USAF and IDF "dealing with" Iran.
Your scenario defies immagination.

1/17/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aristedes, 11:31 AM
Ya got me.
(In the sense that I am compelled to agree, MeMe hatred notwithstanding.)
But it took our friends the lefties to do it, didn't it?
Maybe memes didn't used to be WMDs.

1/17/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rosenbergs’ Granddaughter Sues NSA Over Spying
You’d never know it from our one party media’s coverage of this story, but the "plaintiff" in the trumped-up New York lawsuit is none other than the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg — Rachel Meeropol.
The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 for helping to pass US atom bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. Julius’s KGB nom de guerre was "Liberal."
Rachel is a Communist in her own right. She is a Vice President of the New York City chapter of the communist National Lawyers Guild.
Ms Meerpol is also a fixture in some of the most ultra left organizations out there, such as The Children Of Resistance.
But none of this is considered newsworthy by our watchdog media, such as the DNC’s DNC’s Associated Press
Nagin Explains Chocolate Comment (VIDEO)

1/17/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Wretchard is correct to state that the current political climate is not favorable for setting in motion a process of destroying Iran’s nuclear weapons’ programs and for a regime change in Tehran. This is the dark cloud that hangs over us all and truly is a threat equal to or greater than what the Mullahs can do at present. This crisis of cognitive dissonance has come upon us with terribly destructive timing. Those who have played a part in eroding the nation’s confidence in its own government stand indicted of putting us in peril, all for the sake of their petty political ends or corrosive hatred of an elected leader. Therefore, an essential step towards enabling the nation to be capable of meeting this deadly challenge from the Mullahs entails an all-out ideological, philosophical, and journalistic offensive against those who have brought us to this condition of enervation. The leadership for this very important challenge has to come from the top, right from the desk of the Commander in Chief. THEIR political and ideological credibility must come under justifiable assault that is every bit as unrelenting as what they turned on us. The case has to be made that these people, either through good intentions or through malice, have made the entire civilized world more vulnerable to this totalitarian enemy we have to come to battle with. Millions of lives are at stake and they have put civilization into the hazard for petty purposes.

I agree with the earlier poster who stated that the farther into the future we push this problem the bigger the butcher’s bill. There will certainly be the devil to pay for this procrastination due to our enervation or small mindedness. Moreover, this threat was always there, but more than three hundred years of relative somnolence on the part of Islam has precipitated the mindset that regards these characters as poseurs in funny attire. They took the long view and bided their time, while we fast-forwarded into a mindset that thought this eccentric religion of the desert to be something that would shrivel up and die of natural causes. Nearly every person I know, in real life – not just in the blogs – who could be considered Left of Center regards the Islamic threat much the same way that the “gooks” in the jungle of Vietnam were regarded, which is to say that they think the rest of us are being paranoid about these people (as they regarded us as paranoid about the Communists as well!). When drawn into conversation about the specifics of why they think we are paranoid, our ideological opponents truly lack substantive knowledge of the applicable history of Islam and its religious texts. Yet, THEY KNOW that this is just a matter of our policies of the past, say, fifty years that have “stirred up the hornets’ nest.”

Anyone who is familiar with the views I have expressed here on this forum in the past knows that I still regard our lack of a solid grounding in such history and theology as the root of our failure to appreciate this threat being far more formidable than Communism every could be.

If we can win the war of perception and ideas on the home front, we will have a national mandate to deal with the problem aggressively. This is really the heart of the matter. Our options all depend upon this formidable hurdle.

1/17/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

If that predictions in the study hold true, Israel is not going to be able to survive. It won't be long before one of the many Muslim nutcases in power decides to fulfill his duties.

1/17/2006 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

"It would be a mistake to think Islam is so rooted in the past that it cannot change to meet the circumstances."

But is Islam flexible enough to change soon enough (as in the next 5-10 years)? I don't think so. The "moderate" Muslims are too weak, or too unwilling/scared, to do anything significant.

1/17/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

"I think the West needs to discover a sense of mission born of real danger "

At this point, that is almost completely up to the Democrats. If they regain the White House and/or the Senate, we'll have to see now the Republicans do. But for now the Democrats have to grow up in a hurry, or we'll be paying the price for decades.

1/17/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Pork rinds,

I think Israel will be the last place a nuke will go off because the very next day, Mecca, Islamabad, Cairo, Damascus, Teheran will take ten each.

The power of the Teheran's bomb is not in it's use but in it's threatened use. Behind this deterrent can shelter a wide array of terrorist organizations. Blackmail, bribery, intimidation -- all of this can be organized beyond the power of conventional military power to interfere with. And, as other Islamic nations acquire their weapons in short order, the process will expand. That's the power of the Bomb.

Of course it's possible that the Iranian President, in a less than lucid moment, may actually attack someone openly with a nuke. In that event he has twenty and we have twenty thousand. He might do it, but the odds are that he will opt for the terror weapon under his nuclear umbrella.

1/17/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Red River,
Current nuclear weapons (at least those of the more sophisticated militaries) have drastically less radiation than previous ones. Fallout is not nearly the problem it once was. That would apply to nuclear weapons used on Iran; the same would probably not be true of those used by Iran.

1/17/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...


>>I believe not. The old Sting song lyric comes to mind: "I hope the Russians love their children too." This was meant to be a sly dig; of course the Russians love their children.<<

But the unspoken assumption was that the average Russian on the street was able to control what the Russian elite were doing, and that the Russian elite would not be confident that they (and their children) could survive a nuclear exchange in their hardened bunkers

A similar dynamic may exist for the Iranian mullahs. For deterrence to work, they must feel vulnerable to a fate that scares them

1/17/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Wretchard --

You are speaking logic about those who defy it. If Iran were to send nuclear missiles to Israel, they would kill many more Muslims than Jews -- but they would kill the Jews. Right now the terrorists in Iraq have scored a bit more than 2,000 coalition deaths to about 30,000 Muslim ones. And they continue. They don't care if they slaughter their own kind, in fact they glory in it.

Most importantly, the nuclear bombs that would rain down on Iran in retaliation for the destruction of Israel would have to come from America or elsewhere. The distance from launch to impact is too short to respond even if you're on a hair-trigger alert status. Israel would be gone, and America would have it's finger on the button -- but would we respond? If so, where?

This is a bet that a person who is awaiting the 12th Imam from the well might consider a good bet. And Israel cannot allow that to happen.

1/17/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...


The emergency services infrastructure is built around the assumption that bad things happen infrequently enough and on a small enough scale that a small group of police/fire/EMS people can handle a large area

In a world where a major event (be it a riot, major hurricane, or terrorist attack) can overwhelm the emergency services infrastructure, it is not prudent to continue this assumption.

Anyone who does not maintain an emergency supply of food and water, plus firearms and a crate of ammo, is a fool

1/17/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

RWE says, (and Wretchard and fred and others do also, in their way.)
"As for the "gomers in colorful costumes" attitude, let me repeat
my observation that a key but understated element of the Anti-Vietnam War movement was racist contempt. Those little people in the silly coolie hats could do us no harm, and who cared about the gooks anyway? The fact that such an attitude was presented as a righteous attack on a "racist war" - and still is, is all the more remarkable.
Funny how this undergirds EVERYTHING about the left for a very long time.
Also there was/is the paternalistic and destructive attitude toward "minorities," conservatives, and the religious.

The self-righteous lynching of Justice Thomas.
The Catholic Bashing of Roberts.
Watts, New Orleans, on and on:

"With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.
It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.

So it seems to me that part of the solution should be for the West to acquire a real respect for their adversary. Military forces acquire this quickly. But I think that many Western intellectuals still think that in Islam they are dealing with gomers in picturesque clothes, not serious rivals to their own ideas.

1/17/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Exhelodrvr -

It depends on how the Nukes are used and how efficient the reaction is. Even US weapons deteriorate. And a ground burst is a very dirty thing.

I doubt if Iran's weapons would be so good. And they may take shortcuts to make the bombs work which increase the fallout. And they would probably choose a ground burst to maximize damage.

If one plots fallout patterns from Tel-Aviv in any direction, the end result is some nasty contamination of the Med, of fresh water, of millions of homes.

Wretchard -

If Isreal is struck by a multiple warhead suprise strike, then how can they respond? They have no strategic depth.

Flight time from Iran is 8 minutes - Iran could launch fifteen missiles at one target with just two carrying nukes. A ship or truck bomb would not have any warning at all.

1/17/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

I have to agree with Papa Bear -

During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iran sent many teenagers to the front to serve in human wave attacks.

Any nation that would do that does not care about their children.

1/17/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"If Isreal is struck by a multiple warhead suprise strike, then how can they respond? They have no strategic depth. "
Flight Time?
Not worth mentioning.

1/17/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Oh what the hell, bomb Iran. It would be the most efficient investment in mass transportation that could be made in the United States and would put us well into the limits of the Kyoto treaty. I mean honestly. The US is the second largest oil producer in the world; certainly we could ration enough resources for transportation and industry. How else can the average American make a reasonable contribution to the war effort? It is a war is it not?

1/17/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

" It is a war is it not? "
To the left among us?

1/17/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


If Teheran were to do the hate thing and nuke the Jews, sad though it may be, the problem would be over. I wrote a post long ago called the Three Conjectures which posited that if nuke got loose through carelessness or insanity, the sad sums would be totalled up as each side exercised its nuclear arsenals, an exercise which could only have one tragic ending.

If that happens it would be the equivalent of an asteroid striking earth. Once radical Islam has the bomb you can only hope the asteroid doesn't strike. It's far more likely that, like North Korea and Pakistan, they won't use the Bomb. We can infer from those actual examples that Iran, then Syria and whoever else comes next, will use the Bomb to get their neighbors to feed them them, arm them, defer to them.

An Iranian nuke would mean that Western conventional depth would vanish overnight. Example: if the Palestinians had a nuke, it would mean that Israel could no longer fire artillery back. They could shoot Al Qassam after Al Qassam into Israel and the IDF's F-16s would be as useless as so many iron weights. The killing blow? Demography. With the West deprived of its conventional flexibility and depth, two generations of reproduction is all that stands between Islam and world domination.

In any Cold War the decisive weapon is the dynamism of the competing societies. There was never a clash of arms between Communism and the West. But there was clash of systems. One side collapsed, and by the rules, Last Man Standing wins.

But Islam is far more dynamic than cheap, tawdry Marxism, which only managed a hundred-year run. Islam has been going for more than a thousand years. And the West, if the last Cold War is any gauge, at least in its European branch was prepared to grovel as low as you pleased, to renounce anything, if only to continue its socialized existence just a little longer.

What did Bertrand Russell say? "Better Red than Dead?" He saw Communism as the wave the of the future and convinced himself that it was pointless to fight the future. If much of the West were offered the quietus of the ending to Soylent Green movie -- a night of pampering and soothing music in exchange for voluntary suicide -- there would be many takers. George Galloway, the Leftist Legend, is on Big Brother, pretending to be a cat and parading in a Dracula costume. Yet how many of our academics and celebrities would rather be seen with him than Samuel Alito? In the fight between the Liberal West and Islam the odds are more even than one would think.

1/17/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Jewish state cannot allow Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

From CNN, who has now been banned from Iran.

I think the choice is between an Israeli assault, or a US led assault, or a desperate hail mary regime change in the next several months (still possible).

It is not a choice between negotiations and war; unfortunately, war is inevitable. The biggest question for us is who will be the first aggressor.

The time for waiting, and hoping, is over. Freedom and security are not free. Somebody, in the next several months, is going to have to pay the bill.

There will be no peace in our time. It never existed, anyway.

1/17/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nuclear Weapons and Oil Concerns
Iran sells 2.4 million barrels per day of crude to the world, and an independent oil consultant Geoff Pyne believes this puts Iran in a position of bargaining power over the West with its nuclear program.
"Iran is in a very strong position and Ahmadinejad knows it.
It's a sellers' market," Pyne said.
"And the West doesn't have a choice -- it needs the oil."

Thankfully, oil concerns do not dictate U.S. policy on terrorist regimes aiming to obtain nuclear weapons.
The U.S. is prepared to pay the price to keep Iran nuclear free.
"If the price of oil has to go up then that's a consequence we would have to suffer," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
(That's an amazing statement at this time.)
Vital Perspective

1/17/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Martin Luther King's letter from Birmingham jail is a snapshot of a vanished world. King argued for equality; to be able to take his daughter to an amusement park, to be able to take family vacation cross-country; to have his wife and mother called "Mrs". What liberal man today would call another man's partner "Mrs"? Who would not picket an amusement park? Who would not belligerently ask what was meant by "family"? Go tell it on the mountain. Which mountain? Brokeback Mountain. We are arrived at a point where the only thing worth fighting for is the right to kill our own children in the name of Womyn's Rights. There may be a filibuster against Alito. Was there ever a filibuster against Osama? Radical Islam is liberalism looking in the mirror; it is the Portrait of Dorian Gray.

1/17/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Army War College Preps for Iran
Hat tip to The Belmont Club which brought to light a report by the U.S. Army War College called "Getting Ready for a Nuclear Ready Iran" (pdf).
According to The Belmont Club it's a wide ranging discussion of the entire Iranian nuclear weapons issue set within the larger context of nonproliferation strategy.

1/17/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger david bennett said...

A second member of the axis of evil is quite possibly set to acquire nuclear weapons.

For those of you (the majority) who try to define everything in terms of partisan domestic politics, it behooves you to understand that this means the Bush doctrine in regards to N. korea and Iran has been no more effective (so far) than the Clinton doctrine.

These are hard cold facts.

They do not represent a rhetorical game. They represent a danger.

Preparations to respond to this danger must include a military option. Contrary to wishful thinking a quick Israeli or even Us strike will not be enough. The ground forces are not sufficient for large scale occupation though they might seize some territory.

A long and sustained (months or years) campaign of destruction of key points could bring the regime to it's knees or into serious negotiations.

Note the success of this depends very much on the reactions of other parts of the ecology of nations. So as frustrating to rightists as it may be the beginnings of due process through international agencies and other preparations are a first step.

A second step is preparation to introduce stringent conservation measures, things like the return of the 55 mph speed limit and a war tax on gas. The removal of the Iranian supply alone (and southern Iraq and other places could also be cut off or reduced) would take out 2.5 million barrels per day or an amount larger than current surplus capacity.

This second measure is likely to be opposed by many on the right who think the way to respond to crisis is to cut taxes and encourage spending. Conservatin seems so Jimmy Carterish, but a 12% reduction in US suage could compensate for the loss of Iranian oil which could be out of world markets for a year or more if violent measures are taken.

Another necessary preparation is to reinforce and rearrange troops in Iraq to prepare for attacks by Shiite militias. The insurgency could multiply in size with the new parts at strategic points including supply lines.

1/17/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Biden's Hope: Let Network Anchors Grill SCOTUS Nominees, Not Senators
Posted by Tim Graham on January 17, 2006 - 15:10.
Up front in the "Periscope" section of Newsweek, it's reported that Sen. Joe Biden, stung by all the arrows about his blah-blah-blah at the Alito confirmation hearings, suggested that perhaps Supreme Court nominees should face a murder board of liberal media inquiries instead.
He suggested confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee should just be junked:
Critics point out that such a plan deprives nominees like Alito the chance to speak in their own behalf. But Biden, who notes that Judiciary Committee hearings haven't always been part of the confirmation process, says ditching hearings would leave nominees to make their cases in the media, where holding back and being boring won't necessarily fly. "Then [the press] would actually write about how they're not answering the questions," Biden says. "You people might get some answers out of them."
That's just what we need, SCOTUS pre-screenings from the people who think Ginsburg is a "moderate" and Bushies are extremists.

1/17/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Kinda OT, except it's about enemy activity.
(The enemies within, of course)
AJ Strata's Masterpiece

What the NSA cannot do, without the FBI going to FISA for a warrant, is make the person in the US the TARGET of a surveillance effort and thus monitor ALL their calls. The calls to the NSA target are fair game without a warrant.

And no one has yet claimed the NSA targeted a person in the US without FISA approval - not one! They all point to the legitimate and legal monitoring of calls caught up in the surveillance of the overseas target. So many supposed lawyers keep missing this simple but key point. All the people in contact with a target of surveillance are being monitored without a warrant specifying their name.

But a vast number of legal experts from all over the government have reviewed this arrangement and accepted it as legal.
NSA watches the terrorists overseas, and all communications with them.
FBI monitors the terrorists here with help from the NSA for overseas contacts under FISA warrant.

1/17/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger summignumi said...

Why can't we Nuke IRAN? If radiation is so bad then why are there people in the two Japanese cities, how come the 3.5 million people haven't gotten sick from Chernobyl? I think it would cause a massive Economic shock but not the dark days that a nuke armed ISLAM will bring.

1/17/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: holding oil hostage

We (the first world) can certainly do without Iran's supply. Energy is a small fraction of our GDP and double a small fraction is still a small fraction. Call it the smallest sacrifice we've been asked to make in the interest of our own national security. It's the countries in economic distress and the poor that will be hardest hit. The EC will feel the pinch much harder than either Japan or the US.

So what's important is speed of action that leads to an internal revolution and regime change to minimize the impact on the poorer countries. We'll need a multi-pronged effort, rubbling the nuke factories and related infrastructure, freezing international commerce and bank accounts, while maintaining an armed embargo of all large (truck, ship and pipeline) traffic in and out of Iran (that will damage the oligarchy's pocketbook, power and prestige).

The average Iranian won't be badly hurt (unless the mullah's have built a factory under their home) as the country is largely self-sufficient in food and other necessities. However, if the current government doesn't abdicate and hold a monitored free election quickly, we should also take out their refineries to deny their army mobility (which will also be a motivation for the populace to demand a change).

1/17/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Threat Has Changed
In the Daily Telegraph today Con Coughlin has an interview with Henry Crumpton, head of counter-terrorism at the US State Department. Here's a taste:
"This threat has changed the way we will fight wars in the future," he [Crumpton] said.
"We are talking about micro targets such as al-Qa'eda which, when combined with WMD, have a macro impact. I rate the probability of terror groups using WMD [to attack Western targets] as very high. It is simply a question of time.
"And it is not just the nuclear threat that bothers me. I think, if anything, the biological threat is going to grow.
"As catastrophic as a nuclear attack would be, it would be self-contained. But if you look at a worst-case scenario for a biological attack, it would be difficult to determine whether or not it was a terrorist attack, and it would be far more difficult to contain."

After the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, Mr Crumpton, who was then a senior CIA officer, played a leading role in the campaign to overthrow the Taliban and destroy al-Qa'eda's operational infrastructure in Afghanistan, which relied heavily on covert operations.

After the war, allied forces found that al-Qa'eda had been working on anthrax programmes that it intended to use on western targets.
"They had hired a very experienced biologist to work on this. They were very serious about it and there is no reason to believe they have given up on their interest."
Crumpton also says bin Laden is probably still alive, military options for Iran are on the table, and Syria continues to support terrorist organizations including the former Baathist leadership from Iraq.
Read the whole thing.

1/17/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"For those of you (the majority) who try to define everything in terms of partisan domestic politics, it behooves you to understand that this means the Bush doctrine in regards to N. korea and Iran has been no more effective (so far) than the Clinton doctrine."
Clinton PAID them, FED them, and gave them equipment:
How could anyone top that, much less match it?

1/17/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


I don't think it is possible to nuke a country pre-emptively. Especially when the majority of the population in that country are probably personally friendly to the US. Nuking a country which acquires atomic technology going into the indefinite future to maintain a kind of scientific monopoly seems doomed to failure. The world will not be kept in stasis.

What's needed, rather, is a way to help certain cultures live with advances in technology. Even if the US, the West and every Jew were somehow removed from the planet, a nuke in Al Qaeda hands would sooner get used for some insane reason. And if not nukes then biological weapons or something else.

The multiculturalists have got it wrong. Technology is nothing. Culture is everything. The world can more easily be indifferent to technology than to culture. Australia can build a nuclear weapon. Japan can build a nuclear weapon. New Zealand can build a nuclear weapon. And no one will care. It is the culture that bears the threat.

1/17/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

I'll just second Wretchard's comments in the fact that a nuclear-tipped missile is the best worst-case scenario when Iran goes nuclear. Also, no one has yet been able to offer evidence of any high-level Islamists participating in suicide attacks.

As with ever twisted ideology, the shepherd and the flock have different roles. The mullahs will NOT launch a nuclear missile from Iranian soil or Iranian assets because it guarantees their doom.

Much more terrifying is Tehran declaring a nuke "missing" 12 hours before (or after) a nuclear/dirty bomb terrorist attack. That will be the end of the UN and possibly a shooting war w/ the US/Anglosphere/Israel and Russia and/or China/Iran.

So, your choice: Are we willing to pay $100+/barrel and stay in the driver's seat, or wait 4 years to pay $100+/barrel and relive the impotency of the Carter Administration? The bittersweet part is that once America is out of the way, the Chinese will whack the crap out of the Iranians. For me, that's cold comfort.

papa bear:
Yes, there's no excuse for having only a little lawn-mower can for emergencies. My only defense is that I've been busy buying shotgun ammo. Hellooo credit card debt. I'm so gonna get a call from the Feebs if they really are datamining the CC companies.

1/17/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

Has any intelligence agency yet produced a solid psychological profile of the Iranian president indicating that he is anything other than what he appears to be? Are there any signs of rational thought? If the CD spinning in his head is playing the same dark tune that is amplified in the heads of all the other Islamic fanatics, our choices seem limited.

1/17/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Unbelievable Murtha Story - Malkin
Author: malkin
Mudville Gazette has the details on an Army soldier who confronted Dem Reps. John Murtha and Jim Moran at a town hall meeting in Arlington, Va. Greyhawk transcribed the confrontation:

1/17/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...


About a week ago, an old Army friend sent me the video clip of the soldier taking on Murtha and Moran in a press conference of some sort. It is a thing of beauty.

1/17/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have, since 9/11, had the most radical and expansive view of the conflict of anyone I know of, except possibly Mark Helprin.

I have advocated the occupation and reconstruction of Arabia, Persia, and Pakistan not because I wanted to pay the price, but because I thought, and still do think, that the price for not doing this will be unbearable.

There is no military solution to this problem that does not involve an army of 50-80 divisions to invade Iran, displace the government, capturing and executing the leadership, and occupying the country for long enough to reeducate the children and grandchildren.

Does anyone believe that Congress will declare war on Iran and raise an army and a navy sufficient to this task?

I sure don't.

1/17/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

United Nations Is Not The Solution:

If, in addition, deliberations take time or are filled with requirements that must be met before moving forward, like in Iraq, Iran will work to keep dividing the members of the international community in order to draw out the debate about what to do while it speeds up its attempt to acquire nuclear capability as soon as possible.

The truth is that taking this matter to the United Nations is a waste of time. For Europeans, so scared of using force, it means gaining time to do nothing.

United Nations

1/17/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...


Would it be fair to say that what you are asking for in Iran is some kind of cultural transplant or large-scale behavior modification program instead of a pre-emptive nuclear strike? If it can be done successfully, I'm all for it.

Will democracy in Iraq be contagious and spread to Iran and Syria? How long will it take? Is there enough time on the game clock?

1/17/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

The thing about nukes is that they might not be decisive if used in a conflict. Let one nuclear weapon hit one US city during a crisis, and you have already crossed the Rubicon. If you have not defeated US combat power, conventional or nuclear, options are now on the table that never were there before. Remember: We effectively destroyed European cities by the bushel and killed millions of people, but it took raw combat power to overthrow the old orders.

I fear with nuclear weapons, we might have a 'Spanish' precedent. They seem effective only because it took only two of them to win a great war against a great power. But that was at the end of it. Like the Spanish election, those bombs evidently flipped the course of history, but only because the nation was in crisis.

Those two together, opening the floodgates for retribution and the likelihood that no single exchange would be decisive, will have restarted history in the most tragic way possible.

1/17/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ken Stethem's description of Merkel's actions and motives are ugly beyond belief.
Hopefully it will be on Radioblogger.com.
What "Allies" we have, here and abroad!

1/17/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

BTW, Wretchard, an admirer has noticed your use of HG Wells, approvedly. Jeff Goldstein also suggests the Time Machine

1/17/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Deep Thoughts: Senator Kennedy .
Kennedy said, "I joined when I . . . 52 years ago, I was a member of the Owl Club, which was basically a fraternal organization."

Asked by Hiller whether he is still a member, Kennedy said,
"I'm not a member; I continue to pay about $100."

He then said of being a member in a club that discriminates against women,
"I shouldn't be and I'm going to get out of it as fast as I can."

Meanwhile, Kennedy admitted to Hiller that he himself probably couldn't pass Judiciary Committee muster.

"Probably not . . . probably not," Kennedy said.
- Hewitt

1/17/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...

exhelodrvr said...

"If that predictions in the study hold true, Israel is not going to be able to survive".

Read Revelation. According to the Bible, Israel is NOT HARMED by the surrounding enemies.... at least with Nuclear Weapons from Iran.

There ARE other trials for the Jews and the world during the Tribulation period that I will not be here to see. How about you?

1/17/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Red River: I am not aware of our provisions for calling up Israel to report the launching of missiles from Iran as seen by our DSP missile early warning satellites, but I am sure that such plans exist. So Israel will have ample warning time to fire their Jherico ballistic missiles and perhaps activate other responses as well. It's not hard to imagine Israel flying F-15's toward Iranian targets on a daily basis under Cold War style orders, e.g., "If you are not told to return when you reach your X-points, then proceed to your targets."

However, the small size of Israel and the short flight times involved will mean that "Launch on Warning" rules will apply. That means you shoot if you even THINK the other guy has fired.

And what will the Israeli response be? Counter value (cities) or counter force (military targets) - (Okay, here I go with Hermann Kahn again!) Or a mixture of both?
I won't bore you with a classic discussion of counter value or counter force and I have no idea which one applies to this situation - but it is just possible that BOTH applies. In other words, the nuclear spasm type of war that everyone feared but was never really contemplated by the U.S. and USSR.

The bottom line is that "Gen Moshe Turgeson" at Burbleson Israeli Air Force Base jumping the gun is what the Iranians have to worry about. And that is something they really should worry about, a lot. Early warning satellites can see all kinds of things, including ones that look scary but are not.

Dr. Strangelove probably will be speaking Hebrew.

1/17/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What Today's New York Times NSA Story Reveals about Intelligence Collection and F.B.I. Reform

...Although observers blame the failure of both prior reform efforts on several complex factors, they put the FBI's deeply-ingrained law enforcement mentality at the top of the list. As one observer described it, efforts to integrate intelligence at the FBI were substantially hampered because resources dedicated to intelligence were gradually siphoned back to the FBI's traditional counter crime programs. Moreover, there was also little sustained senior level support for an intelligence function that was integrated with the Intelligence Community.

Post 9/11, we can't afford more intelligence reform failures.

1/17/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"However, the small size of Israel and the short flight times involved will mean that
"Launch on Warning" rules will apply.
That means you shoot if you even THINK the other guy has fired.
Gee, just like the old days, but no time, and no apparent rationality on the other side.
"Dr. Strangelove probably will be speaking Hebrew. "

1/17/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

I don't think it is possible to nuke a country pre-emptively.

i agree, Sir.
MAD worked for us with the sovs--let's try it again.
the US and Israel's nukes are an insufficient deterrent--let's give Sistani and the iraqi goverment nukes.
then we'll see if the twelfth Imam is going to be a persian or an arab.

btw, the iranians have two warheads that they boosted from kazikstan at the fall of the sovs--but they may not be operational. if they are functional, they would be insufficient to wipe out israel, however.

do you notice Ahmadinejad's miami vice buzz? no full beard, no turban? appeal to the youth.

1/17/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

let me elaborate--Ahmadinejad is the karim, the generous hero of islamic legend, noble, hot-headed, strong and forceful, fiercely devoted to his tribe. He is playing off a cultural icon.

1/17/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

I don't think it is possible to nuke a country pre-emptively.

Israel can.

Iran has dispersed its nuclear research & production facilities making them very difficult to attack by any country except a large power, so Israel cannot successfully strike using its conventional weapons and a commando raid. Israel can however use satellite launch rockets and submarine launched cruise missiles to hit Iranian targets. Targetting Iranian nuclear facilities and research sites (univerites, goverment labs, etc.) with nukes will probably prevent Iran getting the bomb. This might be Israels last chance option.

1/17/2006 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Dave Shock said...

Options & Real Constraints:

I totally agree with Summignumi who said "Sadly I must comment that the West has all but lost. If Iran is allowed to acquire the “bomb” in defiance to the West and as the path finder for other Muslim nations the death throws will have only begun for us."

And Wretchard on this one I must disagree with your assertion that number of nukes does not matter, "I don't think Iran will be a significant regular military threat inside of five years. At most they'll have a score of nukes."

This is a zero sum type of game, 1 nuke with any form of high probability of successful delivery capability is essentially the same as many. One should also remember that while the source of the radicalism in the Islamic world may have many reasons in differnet places, the flashpoint for the modern era was the '79 revolution in Iran, and Iran has since been the proponent of the sub-national paramilitary groups.

What can be done?

1. Western intelligence has proven itself incapable at preventing nuclear technology from being disseminated. It has shown that while it "sometimes" gets the story right, it is usually after the fact and long after the bad guys have gotten away with the exchange.

2. I will not even bother discussing the merits of the IAEA or the UN. And economic sanctions have historically proven to be ineffective in the short and medium terms. Such things would prove useless against Iran who has been not part of the mainstream global trade pattern for 30 years anyway.

3. Air campaigns alone have never been enough to subdue either a conventional or unconventional enemy. It surely will not be enough alone in this case.

4. Unlike blackboard problems time is a real constraint. I do agree with those who have posted a similarity to the late 1930s.

5. It is rather unfortunate in some sense that the US has shot its pre-emptive strike prerogative at Iraq when Iran should have been the real politick target if the intelligence for what it was worth had been assessed properly.

6. If the long term strategy was to clean the total ME house by occupying the center of gravity, then someone has failed to properly estimate the required resources.

7. Currently it would appear that the US-UK military ground forces are fatigued. Even Air Reserve forces are being asked to expand their usual duties and responsbilities. Questions of a new US draft are not being seriously entertained by policy makers or the public, and anyway the timely amount of such appropriately trained forces required for an Iranian campaign would be after the fact.

8. Homefront suport? The peoples of the West are more divided in their resolve than before, even those is in traditionally strong Anglo-Saxon alliance of UK-USA-Canada-Australia-NZ are not certain of the direction for the next steps. In this sense the post 9-11 initiative has been lost and the long term strategy, if there was one, has been muddled.

9. Iran is showing some signs of internal strife, with increasing numbers of dis-satisified educated youth, increasing number of drug addicts and HIV infection rates, but can we wait for internal change like the USSR, I think not. Not the same type of situation. Not the same usual suspects.

10. A dirty brutal ground campaign is required, but how can it be planned and executed in such a constrained environment? How to make the peoples of the West realize that the costs of undertaking such an exercise would be much less than allowing Iran to have such capabilities? Are our liberal democratic structures entombed in reactive response? Must we wait for the enemy to commit another 9-11 or Pearl Harbor event and endure such additional costs?

To me these are the questions that need to be answered quickly.

Although this battle to be is geographically in the ME, it is not a crusade, it is a battle for Vienna or Tours.

1/17/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

A dirty brutal ground campaign is required, but how can it be planned and executed in such a constrained environment?

I am not so sure, but I would love to hear anybody advocate this point.

Why couldn't we instead leapfrog rapid reaction forces to specific locations inside Iran until the entire country was effectively disassembled?

Dealing with the population? Put out ads telling the population that they are responsible for governing themselves, and if anybody has any complaints they can find us here, and here. Then send in SF's for recon and target aquisition.

Rumsfeld has fashioned our armed forces to be quick and punitive. Our strategic doctrine has evolved from deter, to preempt, and now to prevent, which fits perfectly with the constabulary paradigm. Everything that I read about our armed forces leads me to believe that the Iranian mission is doable, and that we are doctrinally prepared for it.

If we can ensure the integrity of airborn logistics, why couldn't we put lilly-pad bases in remote locations from which to launch precise raids and get intelligence from the local populace? This would obviate the need for a massive occupation, and it would play to our strengths.

1/17/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

"The multiculturalists have got it wrong. Technology is nothing. Culture is everything. The world can more easily be indifferent to technology than to culture. Australia can build a nuclear weapon. Japan can build a nuclear weapon. New Zealand can build a nuclear weapon. And no one will care. It is the culture that bears the threat." Wretchard

I agree. What is more, it has been our habit to neglect culture, which really is nothing more than those habits of the mind that we all share in common, so that our symbols communicate values and bind us together in a common purpose. While rotten as it is, Islamic culture has been more vigorous in propagating a culture of violence and contempt for life and liberty. In a necrophilic way, it is a most vigorous culture, one which brooks no dissent and such dissent is rendered explicit measures from ahadith and Qur'an.

While there is much vitality within our culture, we have been fragmented in our purpose. The strengths of each respective side in this clash have been opposite of each other, which buys Islam more time to overcome our current technological advantage. They can find ways to catch up if we stay still, but we are always moving forward technologically. They catch up by copying, pirating, stealing - those qualities which they have always excelled at.

Our way out of this bind is not going to be a short, quick campaign. Anyone who thinks that is so is delusional. The way out of our dilemma is the renewal of the best of our traditions and culture. Yes, folks, those very things that the secular socialists want to denigrate, historically-revise, and send away to the outhouse. Once we cherish what is best in us, we will not surrender it to the threat of jihad. We would never accept dhimmitude as an honorable way to live.

1/17/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

If the main objective is to SIGNIFICANTLY degrade their nuclear capability, we don't need to worry about ground troops at all, other than those needed for targetting. Air power would be able to do that.

Realistically, our military is not capable of doing in Iran what we are doing in Iraq now; fighting an insurgency while providing security for a new government. Especially with the other commitments we currently have. And I think that the Iranians would fight back. If the military option that is chosen includes significant ground forces, they are going to have to come from somewhere else. And no one else would be willing to.

1/17/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I don't think we can "just" degrade their nuclear capability, however. The lessons of Bush I loom large here, where punitive action without regime change creates life-long enemies, regional pathologies, and attempted presidential assassinations. Plus, if everybody agrees that such a limited strike would only degrade their nuclear industry and not eliminate it, what guarantee is there that three, four, five years from now we will find the political will for another round of "limited strikes", assuming the regime is still there?

I don't think Bush II will take the chance of re-iterative strikes until our will runs out or the regime changes. If we go in, we will eliminate the mullahs.

I also suspect that Bush will use the UN to solidify "legislative intent", then take it upon himself to be the "reasonable interpreter and enforcer." The key is to be seen as just reasonable enough by Europe, China and Russia, so they won't freak out about an out of control power and do something rash.

This is why Bolton is there. He is there to produce language (to be distinguished from resolutions, though it can be that too), under which Bush can act with relative international immunity (by relative I mean the area between being liked, and being attacked).

1/17/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Bush Seeks His Enemies' Help In Iraq (www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HA18Ak01.html)


Last autumn, Khalilzad pushed for significant adjustments in US Iraq strategy on both Iranian and Sunni insurgent fronts, with partial success. He revealed in an interview with Newsweek magazine in late November that he had been authorized by the White House to "engage the Iranians", and described it as "an adjustment" in policy.


Despite the fact he has nothing to offer the Iranians, Khalilzad continues to seek Tehran's help in stabilizing Iraq. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted both Iranian and Iraqi sources on January 4 as saying that Khalilzad had sent a letter to Iran with an Iraqi Defense Ministry delegation proposing that the two countries coordinate policy with regard to Iraq.

The implication of the present US diplomatic policy is that the White House feels it can still coerce the Iranians to do their bidding on Iraq. The Iranian government, however, clearly believes it holds the stronger bargaining chips in dealing with the United States, despite continuing US military threats, because of the seriousness of the situation in Iraq.

On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad declared that the United States deals with Iran "in a very harsh and illegal language, but ultimately they need us more than we need them". This was apparently a reference to the US need for Iran to help stabilize Iraq.

The Iranian statement, coming a few days after Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim decisively rejected any possibility of changes in the Iraqi constitution, suggests that Iran may have gotten its Iraqi Shi'ite allies to support its effort to pressure Washington into serious negotiations with Tehran. Such negotiations would cover both Iraq and a more fundamental bargain over the nuclear fuel cycle issue and the US policy of regime change.


Despite its need for the cooperation of Sunni insurgents and Iran, the White House has not yet accepted the reality that it cannot simply command such cooperation. Given this contradiction, further "adjustments" in US strategy must eventually be forthcoming.

A few days later, Khalilzad told ABC News that he would talk to any insurgent groups except for the Zarqawi group and those who were still loyal to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Two months later, an Iraqi delegation to Tehran carried a letter from Khalilzad proposing US-Iranian cooperation on Iraq.

But Khalilzad was not allowed to negotiate with Tehran. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack pointed out to reporters that the ambassador had "a very narrow mandate ... and it deals specifically with issues related to Iraq".

Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki immediately said Iran had no intention of negotiating with the United States. However, it is clear that Iran is willing to reach agreement on ways of stabilizing Iraq, provided a broader range of issues is also on the table.

On May 4, 2003, according to a Financial Times story 10 months later, a Swiss diplomat conveyed to the US State Department an Iranian proposal for a "grand bargain" that would result in coordination of Iranian and US policy toward Iraq, support for a two-state Palestinian-Israeli solution and an end to Iran's nuclear-enrichment program in return for US normalization of relations and dropping "regime change" from US policy.

1/17/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Misplaced paragraph.

This is the conclusion of the ATimes piece:

Despite its need for the cooperation of Sunni insurgents and Iran, the White House has not yet accepted the reality that it cannot simply command such cooperation. Given this contradiction, further "adjustments" in US strategy must eventually be forthcoming.

1/17/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

The following is a comment lifted from John Robb's Weblog, in response to another report of another sqadron deployment to Iraq:

I think that the key part of the excerpt is "four-month rotation".

Basically, air force units have been rotating in and out of theatre for the past 4 years now without there being a sniff of an airstrike against Iran. If anything, the US is now in a worse position than at any time in the past for taking military action in that the downside risks of blowback in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider Gulf region are unpalatably high. I would also take into consideration a couple of other issues that militate very heavily against this.

Firstly, the US is about to hit the federal debt ceiling again, which means that it is perilously close to running out of cash; I'm not sure that it would be helpful to have to issue debt when your principal foreign customers ( China, Japan ) are having to pay new record prices for their oil imports, and might be very pissed off with you over this. This will also be taking place in the new post-Greenspan era, when markets are likely to throw a few spanners at the feet of Bernanke and his army of printing presses.

Secondly, there is considerable domestic political risk for the Republican party to go into an election campaign with sustained record high petrol prices; and corporate donors withholding funds in a fit of pique because their stock options just went underwater ain't going to help none either.

Considering that there is no consensus regarding a "hidden" component with regards to Iran's nuclear programme ( which would make airstrikes redundant ), and the civilian programme has not yet even reached the stage of LEU production, then there is no objective change in circumstances that would provide a realistic diplomatic cover for military action.

I suspect that the logic of the situation is actually spiralling towards a different destination - direct negotiations between Iran and the US.

1/17/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Even if you could assassinate the Mullahs and the government of Iran, in part or in total, you still will not affect the outcome of the situation's dynamics to any significant degree. The power behind the throne in Iran is the Revolutionary Guards. Leave them mostly intact and they will just cobble together another cabal of clerics and civilian lackeys who will continue the policy of the nation.

1/17/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

1. the 26 sites are hardened against bombing campaigns. at least half are under university campuses and population centers. by "degrading" the iranian nuclear capability, we alienate our potential support base, the civilian population and the youth.
2. even the university students are proud of the iranian nuclear research capabilities. partial hits against selected targets will most likely create national solidarity against the agressor US.

what exactly is Ahmadinejad doing with his inflamatory rhetoric? Don't make the mistake you accuse the left of and think he's a gomer in silly clothes. Ahmadinejad is extraordinarily clever. witness his modelling of an islamic cultural hero-theme, the karim. His psyops are better than ours, his actions are calculated and deliberate i assure you.

he may be hoping for an attack by the US or Israel to widen his base of support, both amoung the general population and the other arab states.

1/17/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The key is to be seen as just reasonable enough by Europe, China and Russia, so they won't freak out about an out of control power and do something rash.

...under which Bush can act with relative international immunity (by relative I mean the area between being liked, and being attacked).
I really don't think that's realistic at all, Aristedes.
Whatever Bolton is, he's not a magician.
Whatever language he might get through would provide no significant cover, imo.
We're talking Russia and China here, in addition to our Euro Buddies, about IRAN.

Every day that goes by the Russians become less cooperative, imo.

1/17/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

also note Ahmadinejad's style of dress-- western.
think about why that may be. he is preparing to beat us at our own game. the rest of the ME will snicker behind their hands while publically deploring iran's pursuit of nukes.
also, he is wooing the west-loving iranian students.

1/17/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

Doug, the sovs are still our adversaries. they do not like the US being a unipolar power.
they are perfectly willing to let iran give us a nuclear set-down while making some fundage in the bargain.

1/17/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

It seems clear that there are 2 stages to worry about:

1. Iran achieving nuclear weapons

2. Iran using nuclear weapons

Note that if the second nearly immediately follows the first, this is a less bad scenario than a NK style game of "Nuclear Chicken". It ain't easy to ignore 2.4 Mbpd of oil, whether it's being delivered or withheld.

Let's say that the bad scenarios - from bad to worse look like this:

1. Iran gives a nuclear bomb to a terrorist group and the group is caught before setting it off, with evidence that the Iranian gov.t was complicit.

2. The Iranians really are dumb enough to mount a nuke on a missile and fire it. The world cracks down.

3. The Iranians detonate a bomb to prove they've got it, hold the Straits of Hormuz hostage. Much worse if China becomes a sponsor.

4. We find out the Iranians have the bomb when a terrorist group detonates a bomb with an Iranian isotope signature. Extra bad if China and Russia act to appease/deal. Doubleplusungood if said explosion takes place in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or another Persian Gulf state. Iran becomes a regional power, and while they would be 15-20 years in developing sufficient force for power projection outside of the ME, the US has hands tied.

I'm sure there are worse projections, but that's my basic outline.

Anyone here know if we could effectively destroy the Straits of Hormuz defenses using naval and air assets without completely destabilizing world oil supply? That would at least limit Iran's oil bargaining chips to the Iranian oil supply only.

1/17/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Major powers dismiss Iran call for nuclear talks:

Major powers dismissed Iran's call for the European Union to resume talks on Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West on Tuesday.

Britain, France and Germany called off the talks after Tehran removed UN seals on uranium enrichment equipment, deepening Western suspicions that it is seeking nuclear arms. Iran insists it seeks only a peaceful energy program.

The chances of Security Council referral have rattled oil markets because of worries about either an eventual embargo or the prospect Iran could retaliate by removing all or part of its daily crude oil sales of 2.4 million barrels amid stretched global supplies.

Major Powers

1/17/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

So, the recent strike WAS a SQUADRON of 3 Predators, or was it these guys?

Isn't it logical we can expect rapid, unforeseen leaps in new technologies? New technologies that changed the paradigm of threat and power have saved the West in the past, as free thinkers and productive souls have gotten "lucky" for a long time now.

1/17/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Spag-oz said...

I think the West needs to discover a sense of mission born of real danger ...Wretchard

Unfortunately I think it will take another catastrophic "wake up call" similar to or possibly worse than 9/11 before that happens. It seems that to those on the left, the attack on the WTC was only a slight slumber disturbance rather than revelle.

Right now I get the impression many in the west are going through a "Phony war " mentality similar to WW2. It wasn't until the Fall of France and the Dunkirk evacuation that the real implications of total war hit home.

Europe for its part seems to lack another Churchill type statesman to prod the sleepers. Reminds me somewhat of sheep in a bush fire. They will still lazily eat on the grass while a raging fire is only inches away.

1/17/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Ed quoted a 15 year old tv special on Nostradamus predicting a war between Middle Eastern nations,Persia and Russia on one hand and tiny Israel on the other.I don't know what the seer saw,but it is predicted in the bible as I have noted before in Ezekial 38-39.Interestingly it follows a prophecy concerning the Jews returning to the land after their exile.
Ezekial 37:11-12 :Then he said unto me ,Son of man,these bones are the whole house of Israel,behold they say Our bones are dried and our hope is lost;we are cut off from our parts"
Therefore prophesy and say unto them ,Thus saith the Lord God ,Behold O my people I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel.
The passage continues on that line of thought.Could the graves be Bergen-Belsen and Treblinka and Auchwitz?
In 38-39 there is an invasion of Israel,horrible devastation and the ushering in the end of time.
Commentators believe Ezekial 39:6 may refer to the west when it says
"I will send fire on Magog(Russia) and they that dwell carelessly in the Isles (America,EU?)and they will know that I am the Lord"
How about this passage for a description of nuclear war?Zechariah 14:12"And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord shall smite all the people that have fought again Jerusalem.Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet and their eyes shall consume away in their holes and their tongue shall consume away in their mouths"
Suggested reading,"The novel "The Ezekial Option" by Joel Rosenberg based on this prophecy.Its like reading the news.

1/17/2006 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

New technologies that changed the paradigm of threat and power have saved the West in the past,

tony, first one out of the gate in nanowarfare will rule the world. think about blowing a tailormade grey goo into your enemy's country, while engineering a goo-killer antidote for your own country.
think about "smart dust" and nanomanufacturing weapons in realtime out of any handy matter.
nukes are baby steps compared to nanotech.

1/17/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

or...you could put microscopic explosive nanocytes (like stephenson's "cookie-cutters" in diamond age) in a country's drinking water and turn almost every citizen into radndom bags of gore while leaving the infrastructure of the country intact.

1/17/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Most posters have covered a great deal of ground on the subject. I will try to add just a little more.

Since there is a consensus that Iran will aquire the Bomb there must be efforts at all levels to blunt this very dangerous situation.

Sure, all diplomatic efforts should be made - but with the realization that they will probably fail.

I will focus five areas that should be discussed with the pending aqusition of the Atomic Bomb by Iran.

1. Consider the possiblity of a surgical strike at the "head" or Ahmadinejad's group (The guy is a terrorists and a head case - justification for eliminating him are very apparent). One could guess that it Is possible to liquidate him. But, the US would have to modify Executive Order 12,333 which prevent assination of foreign leaders[Note 1]

2. Deplete Iran of financial resources to build the Bomb. This could take many forms as have been mentioned by other posters. Some have advocated giving weapons to Ahmadinejad's foes and start a revolt - it's an idea but, I would guess we would have to back them to the hilt to keep it from becoming a "bay of pigs."

I do think cutting Iraq's inflow of hard currency would require America to drastically reduce it's dependency on foreign sources of oil. This could include, exploring for oil in Alaska and both coastal regions. It could also include mandated conservation programs at various levels (mention by other posters). It could including using more nuclear power and using more coal fired electrical generation stations. And, many other options.

3. The ramp-up of some variant of the Missile Defense Shield and a ramp-up of a Retaliatory Strike Force akin to Gen. Lemay's Strategic Air Command (naturally, it would be much different from it predecessor but the end result would be deterrence, well imtimidation, and the goal of winning an arms race against clearly belligerent nations).

4. A major ramp-up in intelligence assets and the use of covert field operations to prevent unstable heads of governments from attacking America. This I will discuss later.

5. Lastly, Form some Cohesive Alliance with other nations which would include the men, weapons and the will to operate said weapons - including atomic weapons, in this heighten climate of state sponsored terrorism.

To the covert action program: After studying the Committee-X operation by Israel to liquidate terrorists who were involved in the Munich Olympic Massacre, it's nowlooks techinically feasible to use such operations against unstable heads of states and their top people [note 2].

Given our learning in Afghanistan and Iraq, it appears that with the right people such a unit could be fielded for both conventional counter terrorism and/or adjusted for other operations with reasonable degree of success. Do not under estimate the Special Ops!

I will leave it you guys to look into the operation and decide if it's feasible in the case of Iran. Or, such an Special Operation combined with military force.

Here is a little back ground on two key points: 1) The Munich operation and 2) a discussion of Executive Order 12,333.

Note 1 & 2:

by Alexander B. Calahan
Thesis submitted to the Faculty
of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College

[this is a must read]

In 1972, the Israeli Mossad initiated one of the most ambitious covert counterterrorist campaigns in history. Golda Meir and the Israeli cabinet's top secret 'Committee-X' devised a campaign in retaliation for the massacre of eleven Israeli's during the Munich Olympic games. Black September's (BSO) assault on the Olympic Village apartments on September 5, 1972, set in motion a chain of events unparalleled in the history of terrorism and antiterrorism tactics...

[legal obsticals]

Executive Order 12,333
Although similarities may be drawn between U.S. and Israeli operations, it is important to note that the U.S. operates under much more stringent legal guidelines. The use of assassination is not a legal option in U.S. directed counterterrorist operations. The guidelines on assassination are somewhat complex in the United States, and every president since Gerald Ford has attempted to address the issue through the enactment of executive orders. According to Neil C. Livingston, The Cult of Counterterrorism, !989, "there are no statutory prohibitions against assassination, and the United States clearly possesses the capability to carry out so-called 'wet' operations." 5 However, President Gerald Ford felt it necessary to address the issue and subsequently enacted Executive Order No. 11,905 which banned "political assassinations." President Carter expanded the concept under Executive Order No. 12,036. In this order, President Carter removed the word "political," and added the phrase, "no person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." 6 President Reagan signed Executive Order No. 12,333, which maintained the same language as President Carter's E.O. 12,036. 7 To date, President Clinton has not enacted a new executive order and E.O. 12,333 remains in effect.

The United States clearly does not promote the use of assassination in its counterterrorist programs. However, the issue has become somewhat muddled in terms of how E.O. 12,333 applies to military operations. On December 9, 1984, in a speech at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, stated that the United States should be prepared to conduct "retaliatory operations" 8 against terrorists. Shultz was echoing President Reagan's sentiments that "swift and effective retribution could be expected" against those terrorists who harm Americans.
After a failed coup attempt in Panama in 1989, DCI William Webster, addressed the limitations of E.O. 12,333 in an interview with the New York Times. Webster "called upon Congress to give the CIA 'greater latitude' to support coups." 9 Webster specifically addressed the limitations and the confused interpretation of E.O. 12,333. Webster stated, "if you want us to deal with the likes of Noriega, then the law should be changed to allow the CIA to do so." 10 "He told the New York Times that the Congress and President needed to address the ambiguities in the executive order. 'When you have deliberate blurring, it puts a terrible, and I think unacceptable pressure on the people who have to do the work'." 11

The author recognizes the inherent differences between Israeli and U.S. political realities. Israel, surrounded by hostile borders, must take extraordinary precautions to protect itself. The U.S. does not find itself in the same geo-political spectrum as Israel. What may be an unacceptable response in a certain situation can, and does, become not only acceptable but morally right, under other circumstances.

See: Executive Order 12,333

1/17/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Дdαm Ŧhε Mαd said...

I like to further Wretch's comments. I don't see any large-scale military option at this point. We don't have the political capital or forces to spare.

Move any more forces to the Mid-East and the Asia phone rings. On the other end is a Chinese translator, who tells Bush "You move and Taiwan is ours."

More importantly, and I'm not trying to be obtuse here, Amena-wackjob says a lot of things that sound bizarre to us, but that doesn't make him and the Ayatollahs psychopathic. The difficult thing for many of us in the West is that the idea of the annilation of Israel isn't the sole province of the insane. There are a lot of sane, evil people in the world.

The Iranians are not psychopathic, as evil as they may be. They are not a bunch of foaming-at-the-mouth spastics flailing about trying to slash and kill everyone.

The Iranians are trying to extract concessions out of the UN and put on a big crazy act for the West to, at least, make the US think twice. Why make a big fuss if you're intending on using the nukes outright? If they had kept it to themselves, they would have had plausible deniability in handing a nuke over to a Salafist group.

Plus, what is the advantage in unleashing nuclear warfare for the Iranians? Sorry, fulfillment of religious beliefs doesn't cut it here. It's a non-explanation; a truncation of the line of logic that is needed when trying to understand an enemy. Simply coming up with, "Well, they are deeply religious and they say weird things, so they must be wetting their pantaloons to nuke us," doesn't cut it. I'm sure the EUnuchs say the same thing about Bush. I don't see any gain for the Iranians starting a nuclear conflict.

I hope that the West is working its newly acquired assets in Iraq and Iran day and night in order to destabilize the Iranians. I have a feeling that the roads between Iraq & Iran can carry a lot of weapons in and out of Iran. The stark contrast between Afghanistan and Iraq should be the guiding principle here. It's is easier to destroy a government when you have a large portion of the population armed and pissed off.

"Warfare is the Way of deception. Therefore, if able, appear unable, if active, appear not active, if near, appear far, if far, appear near."
- Sun Tzu:

1/17/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Grey goo has some inherent limitations: the primary one is appetite. Killer dust can't have an omnivorous appetite. Either it eats hydrocarbons, or silicate, or metals.

Problem 2: You couldn't get that stuff inside a clean room. It wouldn't make it inside an Intel chip fab room, and nuclear bomb fabrication is going to have similar standards.

Problem 3: Metabolism - these are high energy machines...how do they gain energy to do work?

That said, I can think of all kinds of EM/RF interference tricks that nano can do. I can think of a couple of nasty nanobugs that might act as non-lethal nerve agents. But grey goo is a fairly unrealistic Bill Joy/Michael Crichton construct. Which is kind of funny to those of us who read The Andromeda Strain, seeing as a nanomachine the size of a virus has as many environmental, reproductive, and metabolic limitations as a virus. One of those unavoidable truths, you can either have specification or flexibility, but both limit out the possibilities of a true "grey goo".

1/17/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

no,no, brett!
the classic grey goo scenario is a nanomachine that evolves.

1/17/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I don't know, Doug.

What keeps the king on top of the hill are two things: 1) sufficient power to take on any one or two challengers, and 2)sufficiently reasonable ethics of interaction to keep dissatisfaction withjn the system at a minimum, so there won't be mass defection.

There is a vast difference between pissing the Russians and Chinese off, and straining the system to the point of critical mass. Acting unilaterally is, to them, not unreasonable, because they would surely seek to mold the world in their image if they were on top. To them it is the number one perk of success. They may envy us our power, but they do not fault us for exercising it (and won't so long as their interests are served). They would do the same in our place. This ability is what they compete for.

The trick is to keep them competing, and trusting in, the system (non-violent economic competition/interaction between states). The UN, while being ineffective, is still a good forum to find what, if any, consensus exists among various powers. All you have to do is, as Wretchard noted before, find their utility function, and find their limits.

We must remember that, in addition to classical national self-interest, we now have a global system to protect, and manage.

Context determines reasonableness, so it is important we find the right language to define the context. If we can have agreement on the context, we will have all but won the battle of reasonableness. This building of consensus on context is one half of Bolton's job (the other is to identify contradictions).

So long as the benefits accrue to cooperation, and as long as we act beneath the veil of reasonableness, neither Russia nor China will defect and become an outright enemy.

1/17/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Good luck with that. God bless ya if it comes through in 12 to 48 months. I've resolved to worry about nuclear jihadists until 2011, at which time I'll re-evaluate militarizing grey goo.

BTW, if you figure out how to derive the same type of energy out of copper wire, stainless steel, and/or concrete that we see on the cellular level from carbohydrates, I do b'lieve you'll be the world's first trillionaire. Elsewise, you see the limitations of the goo.

1/17/2006 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"and turn almost every citizen into radndom bags of gore while leaving the infrastructure of the country intact."
Intact and in TOTAL Chaos:
Think of millions of those sad sacks.
All running for President.

1/17/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

One of those predictions I'd be happy to be wrong on, especially the Israel one...

But I fear for humanity in the coming century. Technology combined with our own innate flaws just might do us in.

1/17/2006 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"(and won't so long as their interests are served)."
But getting the Russians to Trust Us seems to be getting harder and harder as those in power become ever more like the soviets of old.
...and ever more paranoid of us since they cannot even pretend to balance our power as they once did.

1/17/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I'm not worried about the Iranians, or ICBMS. They can at least be deterred, or at least responded to. Possibly Saudi/Egyptian nukes [read Sunni], and everyone else that follows once the NPT is shown to be a bluff... They're going to be lost through incompetence, regime dislocation (North Korea's also a possility here), they might be sold (lesser threat). You get enough countries on the threshold and you'll have little to no way of knowing where they came from or who to threat or retaliate against. I don't trust Tom Clancy on that one.

Insofar as Al Qaeda is concered - potential targets for nukes: US, Russia, India, Israel... ?

If I was Al Qaeda, out of those, who is the most likely not to respond to a nuclear attack whose origins are unclear? Us, no matter what we've done in the past, much of which we've nullified by our apparent mindsets in the present. We're the prime target for the first bomb, besides possibly the Israelis since they're such a flimsy target.

1/17/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Promethea said...

rwe, 5:07 . . .

"The bottom line is that "Gen Moshe Turgeson" at Burbleson Israeli Air Force Base jumping the gun is what the Iranians have to worry about. And that is something they really should worry about, a lot. Early warning satellites can see all kinds of things, including ones that look scary but are not."

Excellent point! One of the grreatest weaknesses of Jews is that they are too "rational," (except for self-hating Jews who pretend to be rational but are just foolish).

Iran should worry about crazy Jews who are willing to abandon the whole point of Judaism--justice and mercy--and demand "revenge" (an Islamic thing).

The Iranians should not count on Jews remaining reasonable and merciful. I hope they do wargaming. How much of their thinking--and that of other Muslims--depends on Jewish rationality and dislike of violence? I wonder.

1/17/2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"The most serious problem we face is our lack of will.."

I think the real problem is one of perception. And the real solution is one that would affect that perception. I suppose will is an important ingredient in that transformation, but it only takes a few willful persons to affect change. It would take a few more to affect perception.

1/17/2006 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Tony, thanks for the defensetech link. I like this part:

For the last several years, Pentagon fringe-science arm Darpa has been working on a program somewhat along these lines. The Falcon, or Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States, project aims to fire a bunker-busting bomb into near-space, and then send it crashing into a target more than 3,000 miles away, at four times the speed of sound.

1/17/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Sounds like a meteor a strike.

1/17/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


That is true, but then again, they never trusted us.

It is more a matter of trusting the system. So long as they believe their interests are better served by not invading, blackmailing, etc., they will not do so. Sometimes they will be able to judge it rationally, sometimes they will try defection for an iteration or two, then retreat to cooperation when the costs accrue.

The recent four day blackmail of the Ukraine was instructive. The Russians violated the emergent ethics of the international system, and recoiled immediately.

Another interesting thing is that these iterations are shortened in the age of information. The system evolves, and error-corrects, at an incredible pace.

And this is the danger of Iran. If Iran's behavior does not lead to huge costs for the regime, that behavior will be absorbed into the system as a feature. What comes after will be a paradigmatic crisis, and then a system crash.

1/17/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Promethea said...

aristides, 7:55 PM . . .

"I don't think Bush II will take the chance of re-iterative strikes until our will runs out or the regime changes. If we go in, we WILL eliminate the mullahs."

I just had a thought--maybe we should work up a plan with the Russians and the Chinese to agree to divide up the Iranian oilfields if they help us.

Maybe it's time to introduce a new idea: "Neo-Imperialism."

Why not? Let's think "outside the box." (Or, if that term is "so five minutes ago," let's just use some creative thinking to dominate and crush Iran.")

I don't like the way the leaders of Iran threaten me and mine. I want them to be put down like the mad dogs that they are.

1/17/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here's how I perceive things as they are today. In terms of intellectual contribution to the world, a billion muslims are the equal of a class of Israeli kindergarden kids. Since the Jihadis already managed to murder way in excess of that limit, I have little reservation in exacting an equal measure in retribution.

Doug, they say snake eyes don't perceive reality all that well. What do you think?

1/17/2006 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

brett, maybe 30 years out, the Singularity, y'know. i just mean we can't afford not to be a nanotech power.
as for energy sourcing, i jus' only started my nanotribology text--you'll have to wait a bit for the cliff's notes. ;-)

1/17/2006 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - So it seems to me that part of the solution should be for the West to acquire a real respect for their adversary. Military forces acquire this quickly. But I think that many Western intellectuals still think that in Islam they are dealing with gomers in picturesque clothes, not serious rivals to their own ideas.

As you mention later, Richard, real respect means doing far more than the Bushies have done so far. We must have crash language programs in Farsi, Arabic, Urdu. We must do a far better job enlisting pro-democracy Iranian -American citizens than we did in in the case of Iraqis here in America.

I would add that Bush has done nothing - worse than nothing - with Fleet size, bomber force size, warplanes available, tanks available. All have decreased on his watch from what he got from Clinton, despite his massive spending on "heroes". Instead - We have tax cuts for the wealthy, mega senior citizen pandering with more bennies, pork in Congress running unchecked, no oil conservation programs, and demand to drill in one place.

As you said, regime change in Iran will require massive preparation. Especially after the Iraq Fiasco and the loss of domestic and international trust Bush suffered.

Would Bush dare to end his tax cuts for the wealthy? Dare to raise the gas tax to get gas guzzlers out of circulation, fight to drill off Jeb's "forbidden coast", introduce odd-even rationing, push coal to oil plants and refineries, end mass illegal immigration that his Owner Class donors insist must continue though every 3 million illegals and illegal spawn and "reunification" adds another % of petro imports? All steps needed to avert an energy crisis Depression and another botched war - but how important does the Admin think it is compared to subsidized drugs for the rich or pork for the politically connected "doer folk"?

If this can wait 3 years, great! Better we wait for a new President and Iraq to wrap up.

Wretchard - The killing blow? Demography. With the West deprived of its conventional flexibility and depth, two generations of reproduction is all that stands between Islam and world domination.

Only if you think the Western concepts of immutable citizenship and immutable refugee rights will persist in the West. One man, one vote could vanish overnight for an existential enemy and those native Quislings aligned with the enemy. The idea of the right of a refugee fleeing a shithole to make it's parasiting another host and transforming it into a comfortable shithole is suicidal.

The Euroweenies may well indeed be suicidal, or when their capitals burn - may "revert" to survival and chuck the Islamoid enemy out. Even if the multiculti and absolute human rights dream ends with Islamoid and Islamoid sympathizers tossed back into an Ummah teeming with "wretched refuse on their teeming shore" begging to once again have a shot at Jersey City, Paris, or the fine little blonde Aussie and Swedish sluts of Melbourne and Stockholm.

Doug - Thankfully, oil concerns do not dictate U.S. policy on terrorist regimes aiming to obtain nuclear weapons.
The U.S. is prepared to pay the price to keep Iran nuclear free.
"If the price of oil has to go up then that's a consequence we would have to suffer," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
(That's an amazing statement at this time.)

Not when the Manchurian Candidate is a multimillionaire that gets all his transportation for free. Like his "dear special friend" John Kerry. What do you think John Kerry cares if he heads his Theresa gift "Scaramouche" to the pier and dockside gas is 5.58 a gallon, and sucks up 350 gallons into his poweryacht's immense tanks? "'Tis but a pittance except to the working rabble, who must accept the pain, though I feel their pain, so deeply, dear Mrs Heinz..."

Wretchard - I don't think it is possible to nuke a country pre-emptively. Especially when the majority of the population in that country are probably personally friendly to the US. Nuking a country which acquires atomic technology going into the indefinite future to maintain a kind of scientific monopoly seems doomed to failure. The world will not be kept in stasis.

Israel has always suffered a twin pipe dream. That "intellectually superior" Jews would maintain a WMD edge over it's rivals, all while as it was obstinate over Zion's final borders, it's tool the USA was "morally obligated for all eternity" on "past Jewish suffering" to perpetuate Israel's WMD monopoly, even at a massive American cost of trillions in taxpayer treasure so far for just Iraq, and a less massive loss of American lives. By, of course, invading any nation threatening Israels WMD monopoly. The cost of preserving the Jewish State's ME nuke, biowar, and chem monopolies will be far higher if we have to be Zion's willing tools in quashing Iran, KSA, or Egypt.

Bennett - A second step is preparation to introduce stringent conservation measures, things like the return of the 55 mph speed limit and a war tax on gas. The removal of the Iranian supply alone (and southern Iraq and other places could also be cut off or reduced) would take out 2.5 million barrels per day or an amount larger than current surplus capacity.

This second measure is likely to be opposed by many on the right who think the way to respond to crisis is to cut taxes and encourage spending.

Indeed, the supply side solution is a built-in-China starter land castle amassing 23 tons on wheels that gets 1/3rd of a mile per gallon but gives America's elites the option of investing their subsidized billions in a Chinese aircraft industry to reap profits from the transferrance of 3 million American jobs to the Han Race - or, help lesser Americans struggling with 180.00 a gallon oil to help Israel or America's ruling rich. Duhaaah! What will the plutocrats choose?

I think two of Bennett's ideas should be enacted tomorrow despite the rich Bush Boys. 55 mph speed limit. 75 cents a gallon war and energy independence tax. And maybe add a third - Final Borders and the ME WMD free - or America ends all tax cuts for the wealthy and starts a China payback plan and a military Draft.

1/17/2006 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Mika - Here's how I perceive things as they are today. In terms of intellectual contribution to the world, a billion muslims are the equal of a class of Israeli kindergarden kids.

Well, great! Deal with Iran then, and deal with your subsequent Pakistani avengement nukes for the 6 million plus Muslims you kill in a preemptive nuke attack to keep your secret WMD monopoly, plus the Muslim oil embargo and the billion-point-2 remaining sub- kindergardners you face.

It will be interesting to see Zionist-Jewish technology, arrogance, and smugness set against a billion plus Muslims and all without their use of American blood and treasure.

Go to it, Mika!

1/17/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cederfard,where's the secret? Where's the monopoly? Muslim oil embargo? LOL! Talk about smugness and arrogance!

1/17/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

U-S wants Iran referred to Security Council:

America's U-N Ambassador John Bolton says, under the U-N Charter, the Security Council is responsible for dealing with threats to peace and security. Bolton calls Iran's international's nuclear weapons program a "classic threat" to international peace and security.

Russia and China have joined the U-S and Western European powers in criticizing Iran for restarting its nuclear enrichment program. But they're opposed to sanctions and are urging negotiations instead of confrontation.

Iran Referral

1/18/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony, here's a great Vietnam Aviation Tale,
complete with Pictures .
Nice anhedral effect on that 130 wing, right?
Wonder if RWE knows this one.
No doubt.

1/18/2006 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mika, 10:38 PM
Didn't C-4 provide the answer for you?

1/18/2006 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Mika - Here's how I perceive things as they are today. In terms of intellectual contribution to the world, a billion muslims are the equal of a class of Israeli kindergarden kids.

Okay, but we are talking about everybody in Israel and the better part of the Middle East - all kindergarden classes included.

The Iranians will likely deploy a 2 person command structure to fire the nukes, probably President (who denies Israel has a right to exist) and Supreme Leader (who believes God denies Israel the right to exist). This command structure will need to be able to launch a counterstrike within about 10 min of detecting an Israeli surprise attack. Iran may have a nuke 1 year from now. If so all Israelis are 1 year + 10 mins + "x" away from being killed. "x" is the amount of time before an anomaly, deficiency, false positive occurs with the Iranian missile dectection system or "x" is the time before mahdi arrival preparations commence. There will be no hotline from Jerusalem to Tehran, because both sides view the other as standing blocking the path to God.

C-4, Pakistan has not intervened previously, so Israels choice is between an oil embargo and certain death plus 10 minutes.

1/18/2006 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wait a minute, Doug, I'm confused. I thought I was the cold blooded reptile.

1/18/2006 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/18/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You ain't seen cold 'til you seen into C-4's Black Heart.

1/18/2006 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Diplomacy, Russian Style .

Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia's liberal and Democratic party attributed that "coarse anti-Russian statement" to Rice being "a single woman who has no children."
"If she has no man by her side at her age, he will never appear," Zhirinovsky ranted on.
"Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers. She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied.

"Condoleezza Rice is a very cruel, offended woman who lacks men's attention," he added.
"Such women are very rough. … They can be happy only when they are talked and written about everywhere:
'Oh, Condoleezza, what a remarkable woman, what a charming Afro-American lady!
How well she can play the piano and speak Russian!'

"Complex-prone women are especially dangerous.
They are like malicious mothers-in-law, women that evoke hatred and irritation with everyone.
Everybody tries to part with such women as soon as possible.

A mother-in-law is better than a single and childless political persona, though."

1/18/2006 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

You did not answer the question. Why not? True from what little the outside “Western” world knows many in IRAN are favorable to the “WESTERN” way of life but that does not make them like our “CULTURE” in fact if you examine closely most “Middle Eastern” people love our freedoms and Opportunities but they still consider out “Culture” the great Satan.
I think nearly all can agree that the world sits at the cross road of time much like the 1930’s, where had a strong response been applied to Hitler then millions would most likely not have perished, Today, we are not dealing with “a” madman but a absolute “mad” following, I for one know it is not just the “radicals”, it is the teaching that produces the “Homicide” bombers, So it is this time in history before ISLAM becomes overwhelming that the civilizations, cultures that this vile teaching willfully wants to murder and not just the “adults” but our children, not in a merciful way but in the most gruesome and horrid manners needs to declare the limit to this maddening venture which will end in all falling into the dark abyss.
The only answer that causes me pause to using the instruments that they seek on them first is the president it will set for future engagements, But reasoning now already suggest that if we do not they will, so the only difference is who pays the price in lives first? us or them!

1/18/2006 03:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Will democracy in Iraq be contagious and spread to Iran and Syria?"

Will Rayford, they already have democracy in Iran.

That's why they are going to nuke Israel.

1/18/2006 03:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why couldn't we instead leapfrog rapid reaction forces to specific locations inside Iran until the entire country was effectively disassembled?"

Enter the whole Rumsfeld debate. Is nothing sacred?

Yes, I concur that "doing Iran" would definitively test Rumsfeldian strategy and tactics, however, I think it would be a catastrophe.

These small SOF/USMC groups would be easily isolated and overrun by large conventional forces. This is not Iraq, with an "army" of brutalized slaves under the control of a small tribe led by a satyr.

Iran is much more like Japan - the whole place is a tribe, their family code is their religion, death in the struggle is no big deal, and although their leader is a little out of the "mainstream", where he wants to go and where the people outside of the internet cafes are willing to be led is not so far apart.

Donald Rumsfeld faced two enemies after 9/11 - Al Qaeda and the pentagon bureaucracy. His career-long post-Vietnam "transformation" obsession was at risk if a heavy-war strategy ever was allowed to come into being.

Therefore, "you go to war with the army you have" became the order of the day. In one sense, that's a tautology.

OTOH, the army in 1944 looked nothing like the army in 1941. Part of the reason that Hitler and Tojo lost the gamble was that the army we had in 1941 did NOTHING to determine the outcome, except to buy time to mobilize.

The decision not to mobilize after 9/11 was political, and not even strategically political, but rather a tactical choice in the longstanding war between the pentagon brass and the civilians who would control them.

How much better off would we be now if 80-100 divisions had completed training and were shipping out to forward bases in Afghanistan, Qatar, somalia, and Free Arabia?

There is a tide in the affairs of men which when taken at the flood leads on to fortune. It is now probably too late.

1/18/2006 03:27:00 AM  
Blogger John F. Opie said...

Hi -

Glad to see that there is an emerging awareness on this.

I've posted several screeds on my blog:



and to a comparison to the re-occupation of the Saar (1936):


and why the Europeans are failing to get anyone's attention:


Just thought I'd put my two cents' in and I'll simply point out that there is a short description of events:

We're all f*cked.

1/18/2006 04:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Richard Pearl will be on Bill Bennet Show in 15 min discussing Iran.

1/18/2006 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Well said.
And it was not just Rumsfeld:
The sad fact is the country as a whole chooses to spend money on welfare programs for many who could afford to pay their own way instead of funding the military at a level appropriate to the threats we face.
We should have Rumsfeld's dream AS WELL AS increased conventional forces.
Instead, we face a nightmare.
...and most don't even realize it.

1/18/2006 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Summignumi: Jill Carol and the Religion of Peace

1/18/2006 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Gokart-Mozart -

Thanks for a laugh.

I got to study the Iran-Iraq war in detail when I was an intel analyst in the US Army.

Iran got its butt kicked in 1987-88 and the regime nearly collapsed. Iraqi Republican Guard divisions penetrated over a hundred miles in six locations into Iran over a period of 8 months and the Iranians could do nothing to stop it. Iran never matured beyond human wave attacks and the rolling barrage.

Since then Iran has done little to upgrade its armor and mechanized infantry capabilities. They have built up a few fixed defensive sites, but have poured most of their money into AD and missiles with some left over for Naval coastal capability.

What this means is that the US has a huge overmatch capability when it comes to combined arms operations that Iran cannot match. It would be a Turkey shoot.

A US Mech Infantry Battalion of today is four times more lethal than that same unit from four years ago - EVERY soldier has access to a radio and can do call for fire. It has organic fixed wing UAVs and can request BDE and higher levels including National Assets. Give that same unit dedicated support from a Carrier Air wing and it will stomp its way across Iran.

Iran has much more interesting terrain than Iraq - opportunities exist for confounding and trapping Iranian units with manuver, deception, and time. The size or Iran is a great detriment to the Irananians and a great opportunity to the US.

I am not saying it will be easy, but it won't be the disaster you portend.

1/18/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But once you beat them in the battle, what to do with the Country?
The Iraqi experience gives example to the limits of a Mech Inf Bn when it comes to Civil Administration and an Insurgent population. The Mech Inf suck at it.

As long as the US maintains the Powell Doctrine of "You break it, you own it" Iran will remain a Bridge to Far.

1/18/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

RAT- Iraq taught us what to do after the major combat is over. the difference being with IRAQ is we had nasty IRAN next door, With US in IRAN there ain't nobody quite as nasty next door as IRAN was with IRAQ and if you think the Syrians and SA would cuase the same amount of trouble I think other wise, I think they would get a very clear picture that UNCLE SAM ain't running no more so the thought of Veitnam should be completely wiped from their sweet memories.
I am still for a nuke or two just to get the word out that we ain't frick'n playing no more!

1/18/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


You let the young'ings have a go at ruling the roost. A hundred lashes for men caught in a dulband. Fifty lashes for woman caught with unshaved mustache, armpits, or hairy ass.

1/18/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Hairy Ass Trueman Doctrine returns.

1/18/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

If first use of a Nuke is immoral, what is waiting for someone to use it on your own?

1/18/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


Yeah, we find Iraqis to fight the Iraqis.
Same as in our Indian Wars. We are not prepared for that, by Doctrine or Practice. It took years to reach that conclusion after Major Combat in Iraq was completed.

In Iran we had better know who we would hand the Country to, before we cross the 1st Phase line.

There are better options than Air strikes and Invasions, at this stage anyway.

As Mark Steyn writes

" ... To neutralise them all would require a sustained bombing campaign lasting several weeks, and with the usual collateral damage at schools, hospitals, etc, plastered all over CNN and the BBC. Meanwhile, Iraq's Shia south would turn into another Sunni Triangle for coalition forces. Every challenge to the West begins as a contest of wills - and for the Iranians recent history, from the Shah and the embassy siege to the Iraqi "insurgency" and Mr Straw's soundbites, tells them the West can't muster the strength of will needed to force them to back down. ..."

He goes on to say

" ... As the foreign terrorists have demonstrated in Iraq, you don't need a lot of local support to give the impression (at least to Tariq Ali and John Pilger) of a popular insurgency. Would it not be feasible to turn the tables and upgrade Iran's somewhat lethargic dissidents into something a little livelier? A Teheran preoccupied by internal suppression will find it harder to pull off its pretensions to regional superpower status. ... "

Let's give Iran some of its own medicine

Better to empower the younger Iraqnians now, than later.

1/18/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Red River's post concurs with my understanding of our military capabilities. We may have lost weight, but we are more effective by an order of magnitude. Our Navy, for instance, may have fewer pieces, but they have much more firepower. It is the same wherever you look.

A mass attack on any US base during a shooting war would be suicidal. Since OEF and OIF our force protection has become extraordinary. When things get hot, and our attention is focused, it is unbeatable.

Terrorism seems effective against us because it is the only option left, not because it is so clever. Mass troop movements are no longer possible for our enemy under the watchful eyes of the networked battlefield. They must wait for the US to bring the battle to them, and when we do, we have all the advantages.

Isolated bases in unpopulated places would be impossible to hit, and they would be almost impervious to terrorism. Therefore, once we get in country, time is largely on our side, as we raid nuclear installations and government offices and coordinate with the locals. A one week mass air assault and forty day insertion seems very doable.

The real issue, then, is DR's question of what, if any, nation building we do. My knowledge on this is as expansive and as limited as most here, but I don't see much problem with in country arbitration instead of total country occupation. We have one man in Mongolia doing better diplomacy than 15,000 in Afghanistan, after all.

Of course, this sounds vaguely like colonial studies. Small reaction force, superior firepower, limited interaction with the locals, etc. And why not? The goals have changed, it does not mean the tools should.

As to Steyn's suggestion, I'm sure it is on the table, and might even be our first option (I think we discussed this in the last Iran thread). We may destabilize, observe, and then decide whether to invade, etc.

I still don't find the assertion that the US has no military options credible. There is a vast space between occupation and limited air strikes, a space that has, come to think of it, been filled up by Rumsfeld.

1/18/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Iranians DO NOT have a nuclear weapon, yet.

There is still time for none Overt means, if we were not afraid to use them. But in a Country that is more afraid of it's own Govenment than of the Enemy that solution seems to be off the table.

There is some smoke, but no fire, today.

1/18/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Of course, this sounds vaguely like colonial studies. Small reaction force, superior firepower, limited interaction with the locals, etc.
And why not
Could we say Iran is Carter's Legacy and Pakistan is Ghandi's?

1/18/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

I am with ya aristides on red river!

RAT (said)- "The Iranians DO NOT have a nuclear weapon, yet" not so, for the last several years it has been reported that the Ukrain or Kygstan (I could never spell those counties names right) sold between 3 to 12 nukes to the IRANIANs and it was confirmed after the pro-russain government got the boot that they (UKRAIN) did sell the IRAINIANS the very sophisticated earth hug'n Russain version of the TOMAHAWK, 12 at least, that is why they think the IRANIANS could have up to 12 nukes , the only unaswered question was if the Russain nukes were useable or disabled?

1/18/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

Oh ya! I would still like to see a nuke or two go off, of course there instead of here.

1/18/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

A nuclear weapon that does not function is not a nuclear weapon. It may be a device, source for a dirty bomb, etc. but not a weapon that is a real threat to World Peace & Security.

If they have two to a dozen operating Weapons, it proves the Iranians are not insane, in as much as the weapons have not been used. Proof enough they could well be trusted with another dozen.

A MAD Policy could and would be effective, if they really have had nuclear weapons for the past decade or so.

Again, prove we have time for Covert methods to deal with the Iranians.

1/18/2006 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

" ... As the foreign terrorists have demonstrated in Iraq, you don't need a lot of local support to give the impression (at least to Tariq Ali and John Pilger) of a popular insurgency. Would it not be feasible to turn the tables and upgrade Iran's somewhat lethargic dissidents into something a little livelier? A Teheran preoccupied by internal suppression will find it harder to pull off its pretensions to regional superpower status. ... "

History shows that today's friends are tomorrow's enemies. Unless the weapons have a self-destruct mechanism, it's a dumb idea.

Ledeen, and now possibly Steyn, will ride that hobby horse to their graves, poor guys.

1/18/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Kyda Sylvester said...

...only a regime change could keep Teheran from getting a nuclear weapon.

As a long time visitor to Iranian blogs, I was struck early on by how even those Iranians who yearn for freedom, democracy and a more secular government see no reason why Iran should not become a nuclear power. My sense was (is) that regime change might result in keeping the nuclear war hounds at bay (at least temporarily), but will not necessarily prevent development of the weapons themselves nor the means to deliver them.

Sometimes it seems we have but two choices: hit them now at targets specifically selected to destroy their capabilities or hit them later in retaliation with the intent to destroy utterly. And it will matter not a whit whether that nuclear strike comes by order of the Iranian mullahs or by the terrorists they have supplied.

Preventing nuclear proliferation seems a losing game at this point; however, we Americans are not inclined to become the ultimate losers in this game. The rest of the world should think twice about pushing us into that next generation of weaponry while never forgetting the extreem measures we've seen fit to take in the past.

1/18/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red River:

I certainly defer to your experience and expertise.


I still fear that a lot of the "good press" that the RMA gets is a little like the 36 000 Dow - it's going to be that way because it HAS to be that way, and the reason it HAS to be that way is because we are not prepared for it to be any other way, so if it ISN'T that way, we're just screwed, and so on and so on.

A small position can be overrun by superior forces. That's always been true and it always will be true.

Now, technology changes the equation, so the small position can "fight bigger" - but it still is what it is.

When the small position is threatened unacceptably, you still need to be able to send up the reserve - if there is one.

The reality is that our present force structure is all that the President and SecDef believe the political system would tolerate. And they are probably right.

1/18/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Another advantage, possibly - probably, of forcing the situation now with long range air and naval operations and whatever spec ops had to do (and a comprehensive, simultaneous strike against the Revolutionary Guard) is that Iran's retaliation would largely be a one-shot deal, and moreover expose its agents in the field. That, I think, is exactly what needs to happen anyway, and will come sooner or later.

Really, Iran has played this quite well, but it is passed time to hit them like a pinata. Yes, someone always gets whacked a little.

It would also conclusively test the supposed democratic or pro-Western yearnings of the Persians themselves. Admittedly, that would occur under duress and so alienate some proportion of them, but the strikes themselves would not require civilian casualties in any significant numbers (or so it would seem from these reports), and it provide the perfect opportunity to rebel and do the job for us.

Because who can contemplate the barbarian petrol-station nations all arming with nuclear weapons more or less simultaneously? Not only would it raise the threat and stakes of a regional war because of their mere existence, it would simultaneously render use of them as less extraordinary, partly because of the owners and partly because of their ubiquity. One serious restraint on their use is the fact of their possession by few powers, which increases their aura even beyond their destructive power. This is never mentioned when Iran yaps about its "right" to nuclear "fuel." Good god we need to abandon this diplomatic etiquette of equivocation. Iran and the Arab powers are indulged when they say their Quran-inspired fatwas and whatnot are "merely for domestic consumption." Well, ours are just meant for the consumption of governments and their proxies who play at such sucker distinctions.

Enough. Obliterate them. I think the "let's break it open and see what happens" strategy is the only cogent one in a badly incoherent, downward-spiraling region.

1/18/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It is not the geographic position of Iran that causes the US to disapprove of Iranian nuclear capacity. When the Shah was in power we were going to sell them up to 20, as I recall, reactors for electrical generation.

At that time they had enormous oil reserves and were burning natural gas at the well heads. All reasons I've read here why the Iranians do not need electricity from nuclear plants, now.

If it was ok for Iran under the Shah to acquire nuclear technology, it could be ok, as well, for Iran post Mullahs.

Or is it only ok if General Electric sells them the nuclear plants?

1/18/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger summignumi said...

RAT- that’s bunk! I didn't say "non-functioning" it was "disabled" and nobody but possibly the very few Intel folks and the Iranians know the real status and what man disables man, man can enable specially with much green backs in the bank.
Also anything put together by man can be disassembled and reassembled in a very working condition. I don’t think it proves anything except that the mullahs aren’t ready to use there ace’s yet.

1/18/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If I was an Iranian reading the gist of these threads, I certainly would feel free to advocate a preemptive strike on the US in an attempt to stave off the destruction of my Homeland.
If my President did not premptively strike Israel after their Commanding General said the Israelis would strike Iran in March, well he should be impeached.

Good for the goose, good for the gander. Preemption is a two way street, is it not?

1/18/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

A preemptive strike by Iran would be a gift.


I'm not sure you addressed my point at all. Superior numbers mean nothing in a networked battlefield. If they move, they are dead.

Unless you think they will tunnel to our remote bases?

1/18/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I have read, summignumi, though not from you, that the Iranians cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. That if they had them, Israel would be attacked or the weapons would quickly find their way to terrorist hands.
If the Iranians have had 2 to a dozen Soviet era weapons for over a decade, which is the timeline, it proves they can be detered. They have been detered. They can continue to be detered.
The Soviet weapons could not even be traced, scientificly, back to Iran. The blame would lie with the Russians as the signature of the weapons would be theirs.
So if it is true the Iranians are already 'armed up' the enhancement of their arsenal is of little concern.
It is only the 'Mad Mullah' scenario that makes Iran so potentially dangerous, not the weapons themselves. If the Mullahs are not 'Mad', then a MAD policy could contain them.

1/18/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

they have been striking US for over 20 years. From our Embassey to Beirut to the streets of Iraq.

I am not all that fond of our past responses, I have no faith that our future response will be any more productive.

If it is true that the Iraqi experience has streeeeched our Military Force to the 'breaking point' then multiple outposts within Iran would not be viable.
If it is not true that our Force is streched to the limits of our capacity, we should have cleared the Iraqi Insurgents years ago.

1/18/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rat, 2:48 PM :
Because we screwed up before, we MUST screw up again?

"Good for the goose, good for the gander. Preemption is a two way street, is it not? "
What's this, the
Moral Equivalency Hour?

1/18/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

DR said:

If it is true that the Iraqi experience has streeeeched our Military Force to the 'breaking point' then multiple outposts within Iran would not be viable.
If it is not true that our Force is streched to the limits of our capacity, we should have cleared the Iraqi Insurgents years ago.

3:26 PM

Here I offer for consideration a few of someone else's thoughts on the matter. Bonus: The word 'stretch' is nowhere to be found within:

The Historian as Soldier


1/18/2006 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Nuke them until they glow.

1/18/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Geography, political ideology, the Arab/Persian rivalry, struggle for Most Islamic Nation - all these will combine to break the last lineament of taboo should Iran arm itself.

Moreover, if you think the Iraqi insurgency is a problem now, wait until virtually Iran immunizes itself from interference: "We hev place nucleer bomb in tree US city..." So, our government, unwilling to endure three dead cities, nor certain the US could withstand the everlasting international approbrium for having killed 50% of the Persian people, agrees to withdraw from Iraq while the Iranian Revolution cannablizes its Iraqi surrogates and makes it a surrogate. In the vacuum created by the US, the Sunni launch a full scale insurgency. Iran busily foments difficulties for Saudi Arabia around the northern oil fields. All this can be blamed on the US - or, if blamed on Iran, will be relegated to the diplomatic circuit. Iran increases aid to al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other proxies. Perhpas Afghan warlords previously sheltered in Iran openly sympathize with the mullahs and cause problems for Karzai, threatening the delicate government there. At home, "blowback" is a successful Democratic campaign theme, gaining them the Presidency and the House or Senate or both. The USA is hit again, larger than 9/11; war with Iran. The US image and its ops capability demystified, the actors in the regioin shift alliances, resulting in a rearguard terrorist threat to forces engaged against Iran. Draft commences. Iran's people are now completely disillusioned with their former American hope. Terrorists proliferate against the new Crusade. Israel loses its mind. Palestinians pour into it. Oil prices hit $100 a barrel. 4 more South American governments go Socialist. Kevin Federline and Brittney Spears separate; Cameron Diaz starts her own talk show. John Stewart elected Senator. The success of the Strokes' new album finally ushers in age of happy male bisexuality the West had rid itself of with twhe fall of Rome. The moon drips blood. Gog and Magog roam the earth. O woe!

In any case, Iran's nuclearization is a destabilizing force, even if it doesn't result in worst-case scenarios, and it will press for our removal from the region to an extent consistent with its new deterrent capability and international commercial realities.

This IS Iran's pre-emption.

1/18/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Iran's nuclearization is a destabilizing force"

Are we back already to George H. W. Bush's obsession with ephermeral 'stability'? That was quick.

1/18/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

You left out Brokeback Mountain, the Sequel.

1/18/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gottlob Frege said...

Here are a few military options I have been wondering about. What do you think of them?

1. Bomb the nuclear facilities AND broader strategic targets, including their oil infrastructure—continually, albeit intermittently in order to destroy what we can of Iran’s nuke program, weaken its economy significantly, and sow instability. Destroying their oil infrastructure would hurt us but many think oil prices would only rise in the short term and the market would adjust. In the long run, destroying Iran’s oil infrastructure would hurt Iran far more than us. Combined with attacks on other important strategic targets we could really hurt their economy. Perhaps we could weaken their economy so much that they cannot afford to rebuild expensive nuclear facilities. Even if they can the economic pain and suffering might destabilize the Mullahs. Even if that doesn’t happen, it may make acquiring a nuke too expensive for the Iran. We might convince them that it is not worth it. Further we could continue to bomb them from time to time in order to “contain” them and to keep them in this weak economic state.

Even if we didn’t bomb Iran in a broad and sustained bombing campaign, perhaps the subtle threat of doing so would gives us leverage with the Chinese. We could say something like “We really want robust sanctions on Iran. We worry that if Israel or some other nation bombs Iran that they might damage Iran’s oil infrastructure.” That hint might take away one of China’s main reason for opposing tough sanctions. If they are going to lose Iranian oil either way, at least China has some say in any sanction regime.

(2) Use bombing to take out the targets we can from the air and drop large airborne units on other targets. Surround and hold these sites. Defend them from the air and then use ground forces and tactical air support to enter the sites. We could exploit the findings for intel, propaganda that proves Iran was working on a bomb, and then destroy the sites and leave. Perhaps any intel would help us locate unknown sites. We could continue to do this periodically and perhaps in combination with a broader, sustained air campaign.

(3) Bomb the nuclear sites and invade a portion of the country. Hold a defensible portion as a psychological threat and begin to train an army of dissidents to take the offensive with American air support from that territory. Perhaps the shock of having to defend their own territory combined with a threat of fighting an externally supplied and trained army would worry and distract them enough to stall their nuclear program.

What do you guys think about these possibilities?

1/18/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

No - just to say it's destablizing either way, and the US-less way suggests a nuclear-interested and probably -capable Middle East perhaps by the time China has deployed its blue water navy & whatnot.

Trish - you obviously know what's happening here, so I don't get why you don't seem to propose alternative affirmative steps. Or maybe you have and I missed it. Either way, what do you think we should do?

1/18/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

desert rat,

Suppose the "weakness" of our troops in Iraq was a feint to draw Iran into the war?

No way to tell of course. Sorry it hasn't worked. So far.

We won't know what happened for 10 or 20 years.

Being a Desert Rat you ought to know about feint, distraction, misdirection, etc.

1/19/2006 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

trish says todays friends will be tomorrows enemy.

Does that mean we can nuke France?

1/19/2006 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

desert rat,

Should we treat the pronouncements of the Iranian government with the same contempt we treated similar pronouncements by a certain Austrian corporal?

1/19/2006 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

m simon

No, but the little Austrian could have been dealt with early and from my reading of history if correct, he could have been detered or contained. Failure on the Allied side, early on, to confront him led to the Germans continued territorial expansion.

The Iranians are still years from weapons capability, there are still options short of the genocide of Persians.

That option is as objectionable as 'wiping Israel off the map'

1/19/2006 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger milsimmer said...

wretchard said:

"So it seems to me that part of the solution should be for the West to acquire a real respect for their adversary. Military forces acquire this quickly. But I think that many Western intellectuals still think that in Islam they are dealing with gomers in picturesque clothes, not serious rivals to their own ideas."

This is very true and very dangerous. How is it possible that our so called Western elites imagine the peoples that -invented- civilization are suc fops they cannot present a serious challenge to the west -even-when-it-is-happenning-before there-very eyes-.

1/19/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger milsimmer said...

One comment on the 'weakness; of our forces in Iraq. They have been strong enough to give the Iraqi's a chance to form their own government, albeit along lines we approve. had we gone in with overwhelming force, would the resultant government been anything other than just another -imposed- government? As it is, iraqi's re doing so much of teh fighting and dieing, this will without doubt be -their- government.

1/19/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nuclear weapons are a double edged sword; they require responsibility on the part of the owner to keep them in place. If Iran lets these weapons be used for terrorism then the only outcome is that they would become a nuclear wasteland. The original cold war doctrine still applies of mutually assured destruction except that Iran would be vaporized within a few hours of a single nuclear terrorist action.

Terrorism is about fear while nuclear weapons are about strategy, there is a mismatch. I can't imagine the concept of a suicide bomber country, the psychological profile does not extend. Iran wants nuclear weapons for two logical reasons: 1) to increase its power in the region and 2) protect itself from invasion. They also help its current President who is in a political problem due to his own extremisms from a conservative Islamic religious factions.

Though Uranium based bomb is easy to construct but it is impractical for two reasons. The effort to produce enough weapons grade Uranium is very hard. The very size of the weapon is large (remember the Hiroshima weapon was called “Fat Man” for good reason). For Critical mass requires a large amount of material is required many tons. So a Uranium based weapon is simple to make but hard to manufacture the required about of material. It took the entire US WW2 weapons program to build a single bomb.

A plutonium based bomb is more achievable but difficult to manufacture, it requires a good bomb design, which is not easily available. It was revealed last month that the US had placed many fake bomb designs to thwart this angle.

I'm at a loss to understand why Russia is helping with a nuclear program since they have their own problems with Islamic terrorism. I think they see Iran with less ideological demonized viewpoint than the US or Israel. This is more about their own strategic alliance to balance increased power from the US in the region since they don’t see nuclear terrorism as practical.

We may see the clerics with a viewpoint of reactionary ideology but they very much like their position of power and its benefits just as the communists did during the cold war. Stalin was a much more insane than the current Iranian political structure.
We may have more to worry about a regime change once they have the weapon since in the vacuum that would follow, nuclear weapons are much more likely to fall into the hands of terrorists.

1/19/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Karen A Wyle said...

FWIW, I sent this email to the White House:

Dear Mr. President:

I write urging you, in the strongest terms, to take whatever military action is necessary to stop Iran from becoming the first – but hardly the last – Islamic jihadist nuclear power.

Invading Iraq was good long-term strategy. Invading Iran – and it will take full-scale invasion – is far more critical. Once Iran has nuclear weapons, other Islamic regimes and terrorist organizations will follow. We will have a far more dangerous situation than the Cold War, because these religious fanatics will not all, always, be deterred by the possibility of nuclear retaliation.

God helps those that help themselves. If we sit back and allow the Islamic jihadist movement to acquire nuclear weapons, what will prevent them from pursuing and quite possibly realizing their dreams of a resurgent Islamic theocratic empire in Europe and beyond? The survival of Western democracy, and of the United States, is not inevitable – but it is still achievable.

If you have a destiny, if you are President at this time for a reason, that destiny and that reason is to stop the Islamic jihadists from becoming a nuclear juggernaut. And time is short. Nor will half measures suffice. This is the most important battle – no, war – for this country since World War II at least. If we do not use all the force necessary, even if that is every soldier and bit of armament we can spare, we will only reduce our strength without reducing the threat.

I hope that this email is unnecessary, and that you have been preparing for just such action as I am urging. God be with you as you steer our course.


Karen A. Wyle

1/19/2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Baldy said...

Isn't the necessary ingredient the political will? I know nothing about the military, except the media get it wrong, frequently. The answer may be in telling the Iranian People that they will be the first victims of Iranian nuclear ambitions - the Mullahs will feel even freer to persecute them. If it is assumed (& I do) that the only option is military, than maybe "softening" the locals is a start.

1/19/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Brett Blatchley said...


The uranium bomb you were referring to was actually "Little Boy" ("Fat Man" was the much larger, by about 1400lbs, device and it used plutonium fuel).

Little Boy used 64.1 kilograms of enriched uranium 235 (which is about 3 critical masses worth, made subcritical only by the air-gap separating pits).

As I understand the construction of nuclear bombs, a uranium fueled one is quite doable -- much simpler than a plutonium based device. However, the main difficuly lies in enriching enough uranium to the point where a critical mass (super-critical, actually) can be achieved.

As for "Little Boy's" 8900lb weight, it was not the fuel that made it so heavy, but the over-engineering of the device with lots of lead (sheilding), steel for the "gun" assembly, and about 4400lbs of tungsten/carbide/steel ("tamper," which slows down the nuclear reaction, allowing more fuel to react).


here, and

here are some interesting links.

Hope this helps...

1/22/2006 12:41:00 AM  

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