Sunday, March 28, 2010
It is worth reading David Sanger's summary in Sunday's New York Times of a war game simulation that was run at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. In the game, the Israelis decide that Iran is too close to going nuclear and want to delay that moment for several years by launching a series of air strikes. Sanger's conclusion:
No one won, and the United States and Israel measured success differently. In Washington, officials believed setting the Iranian program back only a few years was not worth the huge cost. In Israel, even a few years delay seemed worth the cost, and the Israelis argued that it could further undercut a fragile regime and perhaps speed its demise. Most of the Americans thought that was a pipe dream.The Iranian regime seemed pretty close to a tipping point last year, and it is hard to say whether an Israeli strike would rally nationalistic fervor in favor of the regime or (if damage from the strikes was widespread), undercut the regime by showing that it could offer up little in the way of a competent defense against the long-anticipated aggression of the hated Israelis. I suppose if you are an Israeli, simply buying more time makes the gamble worthwhile, whereas U.S. officials might prefer to continue down the path of negotiations. The least worst option can be different, depending upon one's immediate neighborhood.
I suppose it boils down to whether you try to undercut the regime by targeting Iranian infrastructure, including nuclear weapons factories wherever they are, or you do it much more simply and target the regime itself
After all, infrastructure is something that the Iranian people will need if and when the mullocracy departs the scene by whatever method chosen
It seems a better use of the aircraft, weapons, and skill of the pilots concerned to knock off the leaders of the clergy, parliamentarians, the secret police,and the leaders of the basij who are riding roughshod over the will of the Iranian people. Sounds a bit like Obama, and the Democrats, doesn't it?
Good luck to the Hebrews - they need it and deserve it, given the shit they are getting from the mediocre eurpoeans,and the even more mediocre curent U.S. administration
If we had had UAV's in 1940, how long would Hitler have lasted?
Cheers for now
Iran wants nuclear weapons so they can use them. Nothing else. They'll attack Israel with them, and they'll give them to terrorists who will attack the US with them.
When national survival is at stake, as it is for Israel, buying a few years is invaluable. As to American negotiations, when did we start? So far, all Obama has had the courage to do is to shake his finger very firmly at Iran. He's surrendered all else vis-a-vis Iran to the Russians and Chinese, who also want Iran to have nuclear weapons, if only because that's a stick in the eye of the US. Some will say that Bush was no better in this regard. Yeah, and? How is this justification for Obama's decision to fail on Iran?
Short term goal: Keep Iran from nuking us for a few years
Long term goal: String a bunch of short term goals together
Iran and Israel have been at "War By Other Means" for many years now, ever since it's birth during the Carter administration. Iran's side of the war consists of unrestrained verbiage and as much action as they think they can get away with. Israel's side consists of carefully constrained verbiage and only the minimum actions that they can do to avoid full conflict (i.e. real war). You will know the war between them has gone to a new level when a sudden burst of "accidental" deaths occur in the most pro-nuclear of the mullahs.
The nuts in Iran want to provoke Israel into attacking. That's their real objective. If they do, Israel will be no safer and will likely find itself in a worse position. An Israeli-attack won't topple the Iranian regime -- quite the opposite.
Israel needs to make it clear that if ever attacked by Iran by anything like a nuke, Israel will use its nukes to level Tehran and wherever the head mullahs might be hiding out at the time. MAD worked once, it can work again. Nukes aren't the best weapons for terrorism, except on "24" or unless you're a true rogue state like North Korea. We of a certain age in the USA grew up with the risk of nuclear war; the Israelis already live with the higher daily risk of routine terrorism.
An Israeli attack on Iran brings the risk of a 1970s-like oil crisis. Given everything else right now -- the USA could go through something more like the 1930s than the 1970s ... or worse. Israel should be mindful of this. They need us, even with an Obama as President.
Some time ago it seemed the Israeli path was to assassinate nuclear scientists, or for some unnamed government to kidnap them if possible. Obviously that hasn't been enough, and so now I would go for electricity generating stations. At a guess, since I'm ignorant on the subject, I would assume enrichment requires steady supplies of high quality electricity. So disrupting those supplies would be a good path. Encouraging social unrest is another path, and anything we can do to along those lines would be good.
Failing all that we must destroy key facilities. President Obama seems to accept a nuclear Iran, perhaps because he cannot imagine anyone actually using a bomb in this modern age. In pursuing this policy, he isn't listening to the Iranians. If he were listening to the Iranians Obama's naivete would give way.
They've been absolutely clear that they intend on destroying Israel and the Untied States, and bring on their "hidden imam". They intend to use their weapons just as soon as they have them available, and are perfectly willing--even eager--to sacrifice their entire population to a retribution attack (should the administration ever decide to launch one, which it won't).
A weak, Israeli bashing foreign policy does us no good. It unites the countries that could be a coalition against Iran, into a force against Israel. And Iran joins in. How upside down is that?
It is appeasement of Iran.
The small size and destructiveness of nuclear weapons present a unique danger. A one megaton thermonuclear warhead, is conically shaped, about 5.5 feet tall and about 18" in diameter at the base. It weighs about 750 pounds. You could put one in a rubber raft. You could carry two in a Toyota pick up. One can killed just about everybody in a city the size of San Francisco, or Tel Aviv.
Even if you discount the destructiveness of less sophisticated weapons designs, their transportability, the potential for anonymous delivery, and the terrorizing effects of sudden death for 50,000 people, will make normal economic activity untenable. I think.
Israel is in a strategic bind. It has been described as a one bomb country. Thanks to President Obama, it is united as it has not been in many years. They seem to have an extraordinary leader, something we lack.
I don't think most of us have forgotten who our friends are. At some point, irony of ironies, a new leader is going to have to apologize for our foolish and destructive behavior under the Obama Presidency. We should do all we can to ensure it lasts but one term.
"They've been absolutely clear that they intend on destroying Israel and the Untied States, and bring on their "hidden imam"."
How about bombing the well this imam hides in? I think its location is known.
> A one megaton thermonuclear warhead [...]
I agree with everything you've written, especially about the dangerousness of Iran. But it's doubtful that Iran can produce a 1 MT warhead, because yields that high generally require fusion bombs, not fission bombs. Iran is enriching fissile material, and putting together a basic "gun" style fission bomb is (on the scale of these things) pretty easy. Putting together an implosion-style fission bomb is a bit more difficult, has a higher yield, and is probably also within Iran's reach within the next decade.
But putting together a fusion bomb (i.e. a hydrodgen bomb, a thermonuclear bomb) is considerably more difficult. It requires resources and knowledge that are probably beyond Iran, and requires testing.
None of this is any comfort for Israel, of course. A crude fission bomb would be extremely destructive in a small nation. It's doubtful that Iran would target Jerusalem, since the Palestinians and Muslims in general want it, but they would probably target Haifa or Tel Aviv.