President Bush lying in a hospital bed at an unknown site, Cheney in command of the armed forces, two American cities hit with nuclear attacks, a Middel East nation utterly destroyed, Russia and China with their fingers on the nuclear button... and this was a “Best-Case” scenario?
According to a program called REALTIME, yes. Of course, REALTIME was written more than fifteen years ago and when it was, it was not written as a military scenario simulator or designed to micro-manage crises. Even so, when I applied the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the United States and Iran, I found the playout interesting. I tried to apply the best information on the general overall capabilities of the United States and Iran, as well as the other major players, both militarily and politically. I also tried to leave the parameters of the conflict as wide open as possible, with the most likely results produced where one existed above 40.0%, and left the 40.0 and under chances to a randomizer. I realize that too much of an examination would bore most folks to tears, but I did find certain points fascinating:
1. REALTIME gave no chance to a first strike by the United States on Iran. Even when I tweaked conditions to suggest an imminent strike by Iran, the program waited for an actual attack.
2. Every nuclear attack by Iran included a nuclear attack on the U.S. If Iran had just one bomb, it hit an American target. If it had two, it had two U.S. targets. Only when Iran possessed three or more nuclear weapons, did it hit another country. The second country attacked ws always Israel, though if Iran possessed eight or more weapons it also attacked Saudi Arabia.
3. Every alternative featured an attempt on the President. Some were successful, most were not. Bomb attempts were common, but never succeeded. In this scenario, terrorists were sent to Washington D.C. to attack the same day as the bombs were to be detonated, the closest thing to simultaneous action that Iran could manage under signal silence. In this case, Iranian assassins listened to network news radio transmissions in the clear, and set up at the location of an impromptu press conference. They were able to attack the President because the Secret Service had less time than usual to clear the area in detail, and because of human nature; it is a common mistake to believe you are safer in an area where you are familiar, and so to assume that your enemy is less likely to try something on your home turf.
4. In every alternative where Iran attacked Israel, the bomb was delivered in a different manner than in the United States.
5. In no alternative did every Iranian bomb detonate.
6. In no alternative did the Russians or Chinese react to American nuclear strikes on Iran, although the scenario always ended within 24 hours of the attack on the President, so that long-term reaction (say, to things like fallout floating over their country) is not addressed in the scenario. Even so, the fact that no alternative included a nuclear escalation after the American strikes is interesting and frightening at the same time.
7. In no alternative was Iran attacked by a nation besides the United States or Israel.
8. Every alternative where a nuclear weapon detonated on American soil, the United States used nuclear weapons on Iran, and always in a measure which destroyed Iran’s military at all levels and killed more than a million people.
9. The various attempts to fool American sensors (like masking the Iranian material with Russian nuclear waste) failed to provoke a U.S. attack on Russia or any country except Iran.
This scenario, while interesting, was no more scientific than my preference for Beagles over Pit Bulls. While the program was interesting, it should not be considered an accurate predictor of American capabilities or intentions. That said, I wish someone would make clear to President Ahmadinejad and his Mullah masters, that the only way to avoid turning his nation into a glowing puddle, along with setting Islam back by an incalculable distance, is to re-evaluate his threats and plans in the light of real capabilities.
An interesting exercise, enough to make me wonder how the pros’ games are playing out?