Thursday, February 16, 2006

What Will Iran Do?


Earlier this week, I suggested that the United States might do well to remind Iran and it’s Jihadist puppetmasters, that the US possesses both the means and the will to totally eradicate their nation from the planet, and to destroy every “holy” site known to Islam. But in actual fact, that is not really necessary; it only needs saying that Israel also has that same capacity.

Somewhere after the Six-Day War in 1967, acquiring nuclear weapons became a top priority for Israel, as the government believed the survival of their nation depended on that ability to deter invasion. And it’s worked; despite continuing rabid hatred against Jews and many acts of violence, no nation has attempted to invade Israel, because of Israel’s nuclear capability. This needs to be understood, because Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons stands as both a motivation for an Islamic nation to also acquire nukes, and as an effective restraint on Jihadist actions.

A lot of people seem to have this mental image of those nations with nuclear weapons as some kind of exclusive club; the press has often mentioned the “Nuclear Club”, as if the US and the old USSR sent officers to play golf together and discuss polo scores, instead of practicing the immolation of their enemy. But in fact, a prime reason for many members of the “club” for joining, was the fear or hatred of an enemy which had or was pursuing a nuclear bomb. And nations have discovered that acquiring nuclear capability was not, in fact, the peace of mind they hoped to find. In Israel’s case, for instance, the desire of so many Islamist regimes to destroy them has hardly abated because Israel has nukes. And the ability to destroy large cities has not prevented individuals and small groups from committing terrorist acts within Israel’s borders. Also, as a nation equipped with nuclear weapons and significant delivery systems, Israel finds that every other nuclear-armed nation has an eye on their actions – and quite possibly a few missiles aimed at them. I imagine that Iran is likely to be quite surprised by the reality of having nuclear weapons, as opposed to what they imagine. But I also imagine that allowing Iran to actually achieve that level of capacity is quite out of the question.

I also mentioned, earlier this week, that Ahmadinejad has probably considered the tactics of Saddam Hussein in his calculations. Certainly the mullahs who put him in office have done so, but quite possibly they have neglected to look far enough back in history to consider the matter in proper context. I am referring not only to the resolve of Ronald Reagan, whom the Jihadists still do not understand, but the 1981 raid on Osirak.

To this day, the official version of the air raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak is suspiciously thin on detail and curiously coincidental in its assumptions. More than a few writers have speculated, though with little corroboration from American and Soviet authorities, that the situation constituted a sufficient provocation that collaboration between arch-enemies was the most prudent course. The most reasonable theory which I have heard, is that the Soviet Union provided HUMINT, the US provided satellite data, and the Israelis did the heavy lifting, sending in a squadron of specially-equipped F-16s to attack the Osirak Nuclear reactor. An interesting situation existed – a militant Middle East leader, speaking in angry tones, attempting to quickly gain access to a nuclear bomb. Sound familiar?

Of course, the likelihood that Israel would run another mission, this time to attack Iran, is on a low level of probability, for a number of reasons. My personal favorite method, if I had to choose and I thought most options were equally feasible, would be the ‘accidental’ meltdown of a major Iranian reactor. This could be accomplished in a number of ways, and if done right could not only cause concern within the Iranian regime about the feasibility of the enrichment program, but bring serious public pressure against the militarization of the nuclear reactors. Never forget, the 1979 Revolution against the Shah was fueled by a popular uprising, and every Mullah since Khomeini has found it necessary to continue the appearance of listening to the people, so a sudden discontent among the average Farsi speaker is something the Mullahs would have to deal with. Kind of a secret weapon, that. Look what happened in Lebanon when Syria suddenly had tens of thousands of angry protestors, just a wee bit upset because someone in Assad’s family had their leader killed. It can happen anywhere, and oligarchies are singularly ill-equipped to address such things; they will almost necessarily have to retreat, unless they put down the uprising brutally, in which case the possibility of counter-revolution goes way, way up in the long run.

Another problem for Iran is one thing I mentioned very early on – not everyone in the military or among the young, approves of what the Mullahs in Teheran are doing. This means that, however unlikely it seems, the possibility that a finished nuclear bomb could be hijacked by forces hostile to the regime. If that happens, all bets are off and the stakes go up very quickly. The possibility of military intervention, to prevent something far worse, is a real contingency, and I suspect a game or two has already been played out to see how to handle such a scenario.

But skip ahead to the meat of the question: Suppose Iran actually gets a nuke, or has one? What do they do with it? Ahmadinejad is a very angry man in his speeches, but does he really believe he can destroy the United States or Israel? Certainly not with one nuke, or even a small stockpile. If Ahmadinajad wanted, for example, to destroy Israel with a nuclear attack, he would need at least ten nuclear weapons of better than 100kt potency, and a dependable delivery system. At the moment, Iran lacks even one of the three traditional arms of a nuclear strike capability; missiles, bombers, subs. Oh yes, Iran has all those things, but ‘dependable’ they are not. The missiles Iran has are either short-range, or they are effectively Scud variants, with CEP far beyond even the ball-park accuracy needed for nukes. The Iranian idea of a bomber is little better than target practice for the IDF (the story of Iran’s desperate attempt to maintain and repair the F-14s left after the Americans fled Iran is very funny, but also speaks volumes about the complete lack of support for any sort of high-technology air force), and Iran’s subs are noisy and slow, with effectively no confidence that they could be made missile platforms. That leaves Iran with an old favorite – the terrorist infiltration bomb. The problem there is, Iran cannot coordinate the kinds of simultaneous strikes necessary to decapitate the Israeli response – and unlike most nations, Israel has never wavered about what it would do in response to a nuclear attack, no matter who was in office.

So, maybe the U.S.? Certainly Iran has reason to hope for good results if it strikes while a Clinton, a Gore, or a Kerry is in the White House. But that would amount to short-term political gain, and a general feel-good condition for terrorists everywhere, such as the period from 1994 to 1999 offered. But it is difficult to imagine a terrorist nuclear bomb not getting the response it earns, especially given the improved ability of the US to sort out the culprit. While Ahmadinejad may hope for it, I don’t see the “destruction” of the United States by Iran.

This explains the stance taken by the French, because the more I look at it, the more likely Iran is to strike Paris. The Jihadists clearly would like to make gains in Europe, and the best way to do that (they believe) would be to destabilize a major European government. Russia is out of the question; too big to topple, and the Russian Mafia would become a dangerous enemy. Poland and Italy and England have shown far too much resolve and spirit for the Jihadists to believe they could win there, but France? A much different story, and with a long history of capitulation to back up the impressions given by the current Franco regime. I am not trying to insult France; any serious examination of France shows the prowess and courage of the Resistance and the French Foreign Legion, but must also reveal the complete lack of principles in international responsibility. This is a weakness at the core of the French identity, which the Jihadists have certainly identified and are targeting, as the recent riots demonstrate. France is now forced to come to some difficult terms, or face a long and difficult conflict with a merciless enemy. In either case the public confidence will be tested, and in such a condition a devastating blow from a terrorist group using a nuclear bomb provided by Iran could lead to a complete dissolution of the French infrastructure. In the ensuing chaos one of two conditions is extremely likely – either France would fail to respond with sufficient military force, or would over-react, using its own nuclear arsenal in an attack which would set off a conflict they could not well survive. The invasion of France itself by an Iran/Syria alliance is not unlikely in such a situation, and this would provoke some hard decisions in Washington and Tel Aviv.

But back to Israel. Israel remains the key to everything, because Iran fears Israel, as they should. Because Israel is close enough to Iran, that on the one hand it will take no action without careful consideration of the consequences, but on the other hand Israel will allow no adventures which endanger its survival. If Iran knows this, they will not move to a more active role in their campaign against Central and Western Europe until they are satisfied they will not be attacked by Israel. If they do not, then there is a war coming, which will be between the proxies of Iran and Israel. America and China will essentially broker that war, if it falls that way.

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