Winds of Change.NET: Liberty. Discovery. Humanity. Victory.

Formal Affiliations
  • Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto
  • Euston Democratic Progressive Manifesto
  • Real Democracy for Iran!
  • Support Denamrk
  • Million Voices for Darfur
  • milblogs
Syndication
 Subscribe in a reader

Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War

| 115 Comments | 24 TrackBacks
Parthenon ruins

"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"
  -- G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse

In the wake of Tom Holsinger's article "The Case For Invading Iran," I was going to enter a comment, but it became long enough to deserve a full post. To begin with, it's time to lay my own cards on the table.

I personally believe that we're very likely to see at least 10 million dead in the Middle East within the next two decades, with an upper limit near 100 million. I do not believe pre-emptive action will be taken against Iran. I do, however, believe the extremist mullahs in Iran mean exactly what they say. They are steeped in an ideology that believes suicide/murder to be the holiest and most moral act possible. They have been diligent in laying strategic plans for an offensive Islamic War against Israel, America and the West. Plans backed by 25 years of action, and stated no less clearly than Mein Kampf. I believe that Ahmedinajad's talk of 12th Imam end-times and halos around his head at the UN aren't the ravings of an isolated nut, simply an unusually public (and unusually noticed) expression of beliefs that are close to mainstream within their ruling class. That class of "true believer" imams and revolutionary guard types have been quietly consolidating their control over all sectors of Iranian society over the last few months, and I do not believe anyone in the world today has both the will and the capability to stop them. A key pillar of The Bush Doctrine is about to fail.

At some point within the next decade, therefore, I believe that they will not only have nuclear weapons, but that they will act to make good on their stated beliefs and plans. With eventual "3 Conjectures" level results as noted above. I hope you're all invested in solar, folks, and have some panels up on your houses.

It gets worse.

Truth And Consequences

The proliferation spike among other middle eastern regimes, which Winds of Change.NET has discussed before, will add a complementary and additive risk factor. Especially given the ah... "unstable" nature of the region's regimes and the broad-based Islamist movements and sympathy for terrorism within it. This combination of Iran's direct war plans and the secondary poliferation spinouts means that with a nuclear Iran, the probability of Islamist terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons within the next 2 decades begins to approach 1.0. Welcome to Fibonacci's nukes.

Choices have consequences. Belmont Club:

"The Three Conjectures further argued that this kind of power, once set loose, would consume Islam itself. Either the terrorist weapons would provoke a catastrophic response against the Muslim world or they would be used in the internecine struggles of the Islam, making the huge bomb detonated outside the Najaf mosque seem like a firecracker by comparison. The appearance of an Islamic WMD capability would hang like a comet of doom over the whole Muslim world.

It would not be the first time that the inner contradictions of a civilization, taken to their limit, have killed it. Something in the expansionist and militant hubris of 19th century Europe led the continent to the mindless mud and trenches of the Great War. The Lost Generation died by Europe's own hand. Now it is Islam coming face to face with a challenge of how to handle the true divine fire. And the real dilemma is that the power behind the light of the stars is incompatible with the framework bequeathed by Mohammed. It may be the turn of the Faithful to die by Islam's own hand unless it can listen to the word that speaks from the very heart of the flame."

Indeed. So let us turn for a moment to the (somewhat pro-American, and widely anti-mullah) Iranian populace, whose struggle for freedom has long had my support and that of this blog. Unfortunately, at this late hour we must be clear-eyed and honest - and if so, we must admit that whatever hopes we may have had on that score have proven chimerical.

Let's get real. Whatever they may think of the mullahs, the Iranian people, and such civil society as they have built in the shadows, have no stomach to seriously oppose them. The mullahs have proven that they are quite willing to kill, with their Basij hitler youth corps and al-Qaeda mercenaries, as many Iranians as necessary. Nonviolent measures like the commendable struggle of decent people like Akbar Ganji or even Ayatollah Montazeri are, in this situation, useless.

Despite the scattered attacks etc. noted by This & That in the comments to Tom's article, and the bravery and sacrifice of some Iranian democrats, there is no pre-revolutionary situation in Iran. Its people as a whole have proven that they will be a non-factor in all of this until the die is cast, at which point it will be too late. What I see from them, and much of the exile community as well, is helplessness, a lack of leadership inside or out, a shirking of responsibility for the current situation, and the middle eastern disease of alternately blaming and beseeching others rather than working to acknowledge the situation and committing to solve it. For many reasons of circumstances, culture, and history (see the excellent comment from "Anonymous"), their widespread resentment of the mullahs is a quiescent one. Nor does there appear to be any serious appreciation for the potential consequences of the mullahs' insane atomic adventure.

When your political leadership is made of end-times advocates who preach suicide-murder as a paramount value, plan war, and want nukes, that ain't gonna cut it.

"We mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour?" Not a chance in hell. Unfortunately, history is not kind to those who just drift in its tides. They have their fate shaped by the dreams and fantasies of others - and so hell is probably the climate in store. One can only weep for this... and the greatest tragedy is that one can only weep.

Perhaps if we had acted with greater firmness earlier, the situation might be different. There was, and is, wisdom to waging the war in an order dictated by the situation's logic - but not in abandoning the Iranian front entirely. Perhaps if we had backed the Iranian dissidents to the hilt with a relentless campaign of rhetoric and material support, and worked hard to create a pre-revolutionary situation as a strategic state-level priority in the USA and/or Europe, things might be different. But Europe values riches over rights (and will, in time, have neither), while American action would only happen over the State Department's dead body. Regardless of the obstacles, however, the cold hard fact is that we consistently refused to act - and so we'll never really know.

I tell you naught for your comfort, here, and naught for your desire.

It's 2006, and here we stand. "Faith without a hope" is now all that is left to us. Faith that someone will step up with a successful Hail Mary play, executed against all odds. That they will somehow avert the nightmare we in the West have so diligently allowed, with our endless appeasement, inaction, and miscalculations, to build on our watch over the last 25 years. Perhaps.

Save that the sky grows darker yet. And the sea rises higher.

Who Will Bell The Cat?

"I bring not boast or railing,"
Spake Alfred not in ire,
"I bring of Our Lady a lesson set,
This - that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."

Then Colan of the Sacred Tree
Tossed his black mane on high,
And cried, as rigidly he rose,
"And if the sea and sky be foes,
We will tame the sea and sky."

Who will act? Who will move decisively now, even if it means trying to tame the sea and sky?

Tom, Trent, and others believe Israel has the capability to act against Iran. I don't. Iran's facilities are at the extreme ends of Israel's range, too dispersed to guarantee anything but minor setbacks to its program, and in many cases too buried to be affected by Israeli conventional weapons (see Dave Schuler's excellent article for a map of some required routes). As the Federation of American Scientists notes, even nukes offer no guarantees. Worse, even limited nuclear attacks would create a deadly enemy among Iranians at large, one bent on future reply even if the mullahs were to fall.

One might recall the ancient Persian proverb: "one does not wound a king."

Which leaves ending Iran as Israel's only real option. As I've stated before, a broad Israeli nuclear attack on Iran would essentially end Israel anyway by leaving it in an unsustainable and untenable global position, its alliance with America damaged terribly and its important economic markets in Europe closed to it. That is a recipe for defeat in the medium term, let alone the long term. As such, I strongly believe that a nuclear strike will not be conducted pre-emptively. Instead, it will be saved as part of a "Samson Option" response.

I'll add that if the Israelis ever do decide they're finished and proceed to pull down the temple, Iran won't die alone. To restrict the retaliation to Iran would be to make Rasfanjani's boast - that the heart of Islam would live on while Israel would not - true. It would, with a stroke, legitimize Iran's entire end-times calculus. It would also fly in the face of long-stated Israeli policy that vows to leave the entire Middle East in nuclear ashes. Got solar?

Just so everyone understands the stakes, here. And as I've pointed out before, this whole thing could easily be set off by something as simple as a software glitch.

Tom, Trent, and others also believe the USA has the will to act. I don't. Perhaps a united America with strong and persuasive leadership, resolute in war and without an internal fifth column, could do it. But, to borrow a phrase, you go to war with the country you have. Not the one you wish you had. Dave Schuler does a great job outlining the present "options," none of which are likely to be effective. Force, of whatever kind (N.B. armed subversion is also force) is the only thing that will stop the mullahs now.

Despite recent brave talk of American capacity from the Secretary of the Army, the brute fact is that the US does not have this on anything resembling a sustainable basis. The failure to decalre war and mobilize after 9/11, in order to make the stakes clear and create a strategic reserve for action, has become the defining strategic mistake of the Global War on Terror phase. It is likely too late to reverse that mistake in time. Should the USA act now, therefore, it will have to be with every scrap of the reserve forces it has left for other contingencies, and then some - and everyone in the world will know it. With predictable consequences.

Will the US act anyway, to tame the sea and sky if need be? Perhaps. One can never rule anything out. W., whatever his failings, has always been willing to at least attempt the things he says he'll do. He also displays a consistent tendency to hesitate at critical moments after having begun, but that's another story.

So let's assume America does what Tom recommends, drawing its terrible swift sword to cut the gordian knots of Iran's Great Game.

What's in store then?

Attacking the Mullahs: My Choice

My preferred option for a strike would be to end Iran's oil and gas distribution capabilities, destroy its power infrastructure (critical for nuclear efforts), keep those things down, and hit what targets one can among the weapons programs. Let their economy collapse, let the Europeans and Chinese feel the price of their inaction and encouragement as oil spikes, and promise the Iranians massive reconstruction aid and help if they'll only overthrow the mullahs and renounce their pursuit of nuclear weapons. I'd do this shortly after the 2006 mid-terms, of course - I've read my Machiavelli.

In response to a Hobbesian choice forced on me, I would offer one of my own to the Iranians. Starve in the dark (already closer than one would think for many there, hence prostitution through the roof and other indicators), lose all you have earned (hits the critical Bazaari class), or take the risk and be free and we'll help you. Your call. Meanwhile, lack of power and oil makes it kind of hard to run a weapons program.

There is no one in the world who can stop America if it chooses to do this.

Not Russia, pure opportunists who will not even impair their commercial relations, let alone go to war over this.

Not China, who lacks any meaningful capacity to act here and can't afford to lose face with a very public failure, can't slow the economic growth it needs to keep its population happy (to which US trade is the #1 contributor), and may see investment and influence opportunities in the aftermath.

Not the hollow men of Europe, who have no real chips to bargain with either of cooperation or sanction. Even a trade war is not a wise thing for any politician who wants to remain elected, given Europe's already-high unemployment and low-growth economies.

Not the Saudis and oil producers, who need the currency flow to keep their own populations in line and pay debt and who must, therefore, keep sales into the (non-divisible) global market high. Yes, even El Caudillo Chavez - why do you think he's the USA's #5 oil supplier now?

As for any terrorist attacks elsewhere, they're unfortunate but acceptable wartime casualties against a mad and unprincipled enemy who refuses to fight in the manner of men. The the price of inaction, after all, is the likelihood of much larger future casualties at a level that truly is unacceptable.

Attacking the Mullahs: Evaluating Tom's Choice

Tom chooses invasion, though I suspect his "standing start" option includes most of what I have above. Likewise, I expect that his escalation would halt if the warm-up approach worked. The thing is, if my kind of outline doesn't work, then his kind of plan is necessary. There can be no stopping half-way once this starts.

So it's in for a penny, in for a pound. Action against Iran would have to plan and prepare for Tom's option, even if one believed lesser measures like the ones mentioned above would work.

In terms of Tom & Trent's assessment, therefore...

I think it's a fantasy to expect anything other than a sustained terrorist campaign from the moment US forces cross the border. There are far, far too many of them in place. Legions have trained there and lived for quite some time, with a level of infrastructure and state support that Saddam never came close to matching. Iran can also rely on reliable proxies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Anarchy... and, in the judgment of a number of counter-terror experts, the United States.

In terms of the immediate military operation, this will be costly. Likely bearable, but the mountainous areas of Iran could create real trouble and holdups, and one must expect that. Ultimately, however, I concur with Trent and Tom that it would not stave off the defeat of the Iranian regime. Iran has two of every military branch, with one made up entirely of zealots (including even its air force), but they cannot stop the Americans if the US goal is to strike rather than occupy. Meanwhile, the regular Iranian Army would be very likely to pull a Saddam's Army Act by disintegrating and going home.

The trained terrorist factor does have one important corollary, however: if the US does move to invade Iran, an occupation or reconstruction would border on insanity. To believe anything else is, in my opinion, delusional. The US would face a security situation whose size and intensity would far outstrip Iraq. It does not have the forces required for that, and may not be able to get them in time even on a declaration of war/ full war footing.

Therefore, it must not play that game.

Instead, the game is fast, full-on war. The USA's stated goals should be to kill as many members of the Iranian regime and governing apparatus as possible (yes, their deaths are a secondary war goal - one does not leave such people alive to try again), terminate the regime, head straight for the locations relevant to the program, clean them out, stay about a month or two to gather intelligence and make sure, then go home. I'd even recommend announcing this shortly after operations begin, since the explicit purpose of this war and situation on the ground are very different from Iraq.

The state of Iranian society is ultimately their problem, not the USA's. The US made Iraq its problem because it chose to as part of a larger strategy, not because it had to. If one believes that was a mistake, then the USA must not repeat it. If one believes that it wasn't, then the facts on the ground remain and replicating it in Iran is not possible. Finally, one may note Iran could not possibly become a worse terrorist haven and base of support than it already is. As such, no possible end-state outcome is worse from America's perspective.

Absent either the capability or a compelling rationale, America needs to be absent from any long post-war phases in Iran.

This would sharply limit the costs and commitment involved in US action, while making the global lesson to others loud and clear. Indeed, this would be far scarier than the invasion of Iraq - because if the USA is happy to just kick down your door, break you, and leave, there really is no Third World tyrant's response that works.

Reality Bites: Armageddon Calling

Do I believe any of this will happen? No.

We are not now that strength which in the old days moved earth and heaven. That which we are, we are. And nothing short of repeated, mega-scale tragedy is likely to change that.

Can we avoid war, then? No.

It takes only one to fight, and Iran made its choice long ago. As a Middle Eastern Forum article notes: "Political problems can be resolved through diplomacy, but the ideological underpinnings of a hostile regime cannot." That has not changed, indeed has intensified, and so there will be war. The only question remaining is when, of what nature, and on whose terms.

Whether we like it or not. Indeed, whether we acknowledge it or not. The Forever War is not about us. The only part that is about us is our choice: do we choose victory, or commence our civilization's end at whatever pace fortune exacts? As regards Islamofascism and the current parlous state of our civilization, there exists no middle ground.

The key question of our time is not whether we wish to be at war with the Islamic world. It is whether the Islamic world, or large elements within it, wish to be at war with us. As they have chosen to be at war with so many others. Belmont Club:

"And that message, surprisingly, is that we must love one another or die. J. Robert Oppenheimer thought, as he beheld the fireball of the first atomic test at Alamogordo, that he heard the Hindu god Shiva whisper "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds". He understood at that moment that mankind's moral capacity would have to expand to match its technical prowess or it would perish. If Islam desires the secret of the stars it must embrace the kuffar [JK: unbeliever] as its brother -- or die."

Are there enough of their Muslim compatriots who are prepared to stand up and avert the Grand War, judging the risk of inaction to be greater? Are there enough of us, on this side of the war, to act in time? Or do we all face The Islamic War - either now, or soon, or in an even worse future where a nuclear shield for Islamofascism enables something even more troubling?

I do not know.

As regards Iran, however, I do know this: the sword will be drawn. The only questions left as whose, and when, and where.

As things now stand, I do not believe the answers to these questions will be to our advantage.

"And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world's desire
'No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.' "

Then silence sank. And slowly
Arose the sea-land lord,
Like some vast beast for mystery,
He filled the room and porch and sky,
And from a cobwebbed nail on high
Unhooked his heavy sword."

----
UPDATES:

  • Did I mention Dave Schuler's excellent Jan 15/06 summation "Options on Iran II"? Yes? Well, I'm mentioning it again.
  • Chester has a sinking feeling, and senses a gathering storm. See esp. his link to Mark Helprin's essay, which argues that strikes followed by "civilization denial" i.e. the effective end of Iran's economy could well suffice.
  • See also Belmont Club's "In Contact," which notes the intelligence benefits of having a ground presence next door and looks at the options.
  • Looks like we're right on time for the early 21st century Fourth Turning Crisis predicted by William Strauss & Neil Howe's book (1, 2 & 3 were the American Revolution, Civil War, and Depression/WW2). "Winter is coming," indeed...
  • APRIL 2006 UPDATE: Note that Arms Control Wonk's forecast is based on assumptions. A recent Bloomberg report re: Natanz casts some of those assumptions into question; indeed, the timeline may be under a year.
  • Dadmanly, back from his tour in Iraq, has a fine post with his thoughts: The Problem of Iran.
  • All Things Beautiful has a picture you have to see to believe. She then adds some solid coverage of the Euro angle, and says: "European-style appeasement, partly motivated by a desire to pull faces at Washington, has encouraged the most radical faction in Tehran and helped bring Ahmadinejad to power. All the diplomatic gesticulations that are likely to follow will only compound that effect...."

24 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 20, 2006 5:44 PM
PRE-EMPTING IRAN from Peaktalk
Excerpt: My memory about the Reagan anniversary was actually jogged by the fact that today it also twenty-five years ago that the US hostage crisis in Iran ended. A doubly sad mark in the sand as today, a quarter of a...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 5:46 PM
The Problem of Iran from Dadmanly
Excerpt: Like the question posed by Scrooge, confronting the visions of Christmases future. Are these the visions of what will be, or what might be without an altered course for the present? Must we be condemned to an inevitable future, or is there time to chan...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 7:19 PM
Non-Violence vs. The Shameless from Game the World
Excerpt: The idea of Ghandi-like passive resistance makes a major assumption regarding those who are being protested against. Namely, that the protested possess a sense of shame.
Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:25 PM
Typhoons of Change from The Jawa Report
Excerpt: As a rule I don't usually drop Instapundit-like references to another blog. Nothing wrong with that, but I tend to think of myself as a short-winded essayist. However Winds of Change has two extremely provocative posts about the Iran dilemma,...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:27 PM
the coming expansion of the war to iran from kansas city independent comics: parrish baker's "sparrow's fall"
Excerpt: winds of change has sobering analysis. his preferred option, that we obliterate iran's oil-producing capacity, smacks of complete genius. you'd have $4 a gallon plus gas forever more, but the iranians, short of the russians, europeans, or chinese handi...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:49 PM
Excerpt: Joe Katzman has a great post at Winds of Change: Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War ...I personally believe that we're very likely to see at least 10 million dead in the Middle East within the next two decades,...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 8:53 PM
The First Terrorist War from AMERICAN DIGEST
Excerpt: [First published: October, 2003 -- A fascinating and deeply reseached essay by Joe Katzman today @ Winds of Change.NET: Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War cites and brings this essay back to mind as Iran postures and prepares in concert with the lates...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 9:06 PM
The First Terrorist War from AMERICAN DIGEST
Excerpt: The Flag of Saudi Arabia [First published: October, 2003 -- A fascinating and deeply reseached essay by Joe Katzman today @ Winds of Change.NET: Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War cites and brings this essay back to mind as Iran postures and prepares...
Tracked: January 20, 2006 10:51 PM
Check your six from Ann's Fuse Box
Excerpt: I think he misses one factor. If we end up with a war against Iran, what will North Korea do? Tehran and Pyonyang may be closely allied here. An attack on Iran could well provoke an attack on Seoul.
Tracked: January 21, 2006 1:52 AM
Excerpt: The blogospheric chatter on Iran and its looming nuclear weapons capability is rising to a high-rolling boil of late. NRO: President Bush has said repeatedly that the United States will accept no such thing. We take him at his word. For Iran — ...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 7:49 AM
It's gut-check time from Bird's Eye View
Excerpt: Joe Katzman's essay on the dark cloud that is Iran is getting a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It's a powerful piece that ought to send a shiver up ones spine. I hate to say it but I buy
Tracked: January 21, 2006 1:58 PM
Dealing With Iran’s Nukes: More Evaluations from Outside The Beltway | OTB
Excerpt: A mere three weeks ago, Der Spiegel reported that the United States is seriously considering military action against Iran’s nuclear programs. Reactions trickled in at first but now there is a flood. David Ignatius contends that the National Secu...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 3:45 PM
Excerpt: Some sanity to calm the nerves. LOL....Gotcha! Just kidding, but do read Joe Katzman's great post. Keep those blood pressure pills close by in these troubled times of war posing as peace, you'll need them.
Tracked: January 21, 2006 3:56 PM
The debate on Iran from The Glittering Eye
Excerpt: The debate on the situation with respect to Iran continues at Winds of Change with three lengthy posts by three different people with three different prescriptions in as many days. In a comment to one these posts the always-thoughtful Jeff Medcalf of...
Tracked: January 21, 2006 5:29 PM
Iran analysis from Kevin Parkin's Weblog
Excerpt: The blogosphere is self-organizing to provide analysis on the Iran nuclear situation. The emerging picture is dark indeed: Jeff Lewis - Iran & the Bomb 1: How Close Is Iran? Joe Katzman - Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 2:44 AM
Excerpt: Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz walks out from a news conference in Tel Aviv December 11, 2005. Mofaz warned the people of Iran on Saturday that their president would bring disaster and suffering upon them if he continued to call for the destruct...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 3:43 AM
Excerpt: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's new president, "could be the most dangerous foreign leader we have faced," according to Steve Schippert at ThreatsWatch. Why? Because Ahmadinejad is a fanatical true believer in an Islamic "End Times" scenario that correspon...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 8:59 AM
What Now? from Just Some Poor Schmuck
Excerpt: Thomas Holsinger makes the case for invading Iran. And don't miss the discussion in the comments. Stuff like this is why "Winds of Change" is a "must read" site whatever your political orientation. Winds of Change.NET: The Case for Invading...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 2:54 PM
Excerpt: What is the primary evidence for the assertion that Iran will have a bomb soon if not already? The words of the Iranian President, for one, and the deliberate kabuki ...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 9:23 PM
Excerpt: He has studied the recent Western postmodern mind, nursed on its holy trinity of multiculturalism, moral equivalence and relativism. As a third-world populist, Ahmadinejad expects that his own fascism will escape scrutiny if he just recites enough the ...
Tracked: January 22, 2006 9:26 PM
Excerpt: Treating the issue of Iran's alleged nuclear ambition as a hot potato, the European trio of Britain, Germany and France, has decided to pass it on to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and thence to the United Nations' Security Council.
Tracked: January 22, 2006 11:14 PM
The Case for Invading Iran from Rocket's Brain Trust
Excerpt: HT Winds of Change and Stratfro via Chicago Boyz Here are four essays from the last several days re the case for a premptive strike or other actions against Iran. The Case for Invading Iran by Guest Author ...
Tracked: January 23, 2006 11:15 AM
Worrying about Iran from George Junior
Excerpt: When I talk to people over here about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran they seem quite sanguine about it. I think they’ve all pretty much absorbed the BBC line, most succinctly put by John Simpson in his Global...
Tracked: June 2, 2006 2:57 PM
Excerpt: There are many good reasons why war with Iran should be an absolute last resort, and a ghastly one at that (more here from an advocate of invasion); while I continue to believe that the Iranian regime is a serious...

115 Comments

If Iran tries to destroy Israel, you can count on Israel to strike back all over the region, not just in Iran. Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Cairo, Damascus, and other Muslim cities will be destroyed. Remember, Israel has thermonuclear weapons (H-bombs), which are orders of magnitude more powerful than anything Iran is working on. Lots of Muslims could be meeting lots of virgins, real soon now.

The scenario you paint certainly looks rather scary, increasingly possible, and perhaps even probable. However, while not discounting the value of honestly understanding the worst case scenarios let's look at some other options.

The threat has two distinct facets:
1) The Iranian leadership's seeming zest for war
2) The Iranian capability to make war

Point 1 could be undermined in several ways short of open US military actions.
* Covert ops to support any/all forms of internal Iranian opposition
* Covert ops aimed at regime change
* Covert assassination

Point 2 can be eroded in covert ways as well. Some involving violence, but theft, bribery and other nefarious techniques are also possible.

I've speculated that the recent plane crashes in Iran may be covert ops directed toward one of the points above. I'd be very surprized if we were not taking actions already.

We have evidence that our gov't is acting semi-covertly: see the predator attacks against targets in Pakistan and Yemen. (speculation alert) Libya's strange capitulation of nuclear ambitions strikes me as possible evidence of some very high stakes, secret, ultimatums from the US

Based upon the high stakes, why not use all the resources that the US can bring to bear? Out right war doesn't seem like the correct tool for this job. As you pointed out in your post, Iraq was, in part intended to be a very public demonstration of our collective will as well as a chance to setup a middle eastern democracy. Our task with Iran needn't include those requirements.

Iran is willing to destroy Palestinians to destroy Israel, and no Arab regime would lift a finger, despite their supposed support of the Palestinian struggle. But if Israel directly threatened Mecca, would the Saudis let the Iranians continue to threaten Israel?

While I'm tempted to fret about the necessity of action, I'd also have to say that the situation in Iran is many times less grave than the situation in the Soviet Union some 50 years ago.

Would anyone have believed in the possibility of a peaceful denouement to the Cold War? How many people advocated war as the only viable method of preserving the United States at that time?

If history has taught us anything, it's the impossibility of predicting the future accurately. The only way to prevent the possibility of being a "Neville Chamberlain" is to go to war at every threat guaranteeing you'll spend millions of lives. The only way to guarantee you won't needlessly spend millions of lives is to always do nothing, which guarantees you'll spend tens of millions of lives.

Personally, I think that Bush has expended the political capital necessary to attack Iran on Iraq. But the non-war approach is no more guaranteed of failure than was the same tactic in the Cold War. Of course, no guarantee of success, either.

Although I differ with you on some particulars, I agree completely with your assessment of what we're likely to do, as I wrote in my Options on Iran post last week.

What in President Bush's history suggests to anyone that he'll attack Iran over the objections of the leaders of his own party? The midterm elections are coming up and, with Bush's already low approval ratings, another unpopular front is the last thing they want.

Also, consider Churchill's observation: “The Americans always do the right thing…when all other alternatives have been exhausted.”

Joe, do you mean Hobson's choice? If not, it's an interesting play on words, anyway.

A very disturbing aspect in regards to dealing with Iran is brought up in an article written by Charlie Cook of Real Clear Politics, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-1_20_06_CC.html. These days, even looking at covert actions as a possibility doesn't give the same feeling of security. Who can we trust anymore?
I am not a Republican,(not a Democrat either anymore) but I do trust that President Bush at least has our safety and security as an important agenda. The problems arise when his hands are tied. And for many reasons, by the actions of those with a broad spectrum of purposes, his hands are now tightly bound.

It is very difficult at this time to not feel pessimistic about the future.

I would say that a telling sign of the times, is that France stood up and threatened the use of nuclear weapons.

Talk about tied hands. Over at AFOE one of the posters has characterized Chirac's statement as “barbaric”.

Yehudit raises an interesting question: "But if Israel directly threatened Mecca, would the Saudis let the Iranians continue to threaten Israel?"

There are two separate points here, both worth giving more thought to.

1) Would any useful leverage accrue to Israel if it announced a policy of last-ditch retaliation against the Islamic holy sites? Is there any real deterrent value in holding Mecca and Medina hostage? And if there is, what is the probability that doing so would encourage other Muslim states to act as a brake on Iranian 'first strike' intentions?

2) How, exactly, would the Saudis be able to make Iran cease and desist from pursuing a nuclear attack capability? Saudi military capabilities are modest, and the Iranians have their own oil supply. Would it matter if the Saudis denied Iranian muslim access to the holy sites? Could the Saudis even pose such a restriction w/o undermining their own stewardship of the sites?

I was pretty optimistic in the run up to the Iraq operation. I'm fairly well satisfied at the current state of affairs. Iraq is coming around.

I feel nothing but pessimism over the situation re: Iran.

We are seconds from midnite (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Clock).

So many opportunities lost.

I think we are about to enter the Second Atomic War.

lol, Joe, you're wrong!
the bene gesserit wuvved it.

but...Yehudit, the Iranians are shi'ia --they care far more about Najaf than Mecca and Medina.

and our quiver is not empty, Joe.
pre-2006 elections, do what we can.
some options.
1. Use Sistani. He owes us. Have him point out that Iran can't produce the Mahdi--they're persian.
2. translate tom's post and yours to Farsi. and any other relevent posts. put them out on the Iranian blogs. Iran is a nation of bloggers, let them understand the consequences.
3. carpet bomb Iran with HEAPs. ;-)
4. exploit the sunni/shi'ia fault line in the ME. ditto the arab/persian fault line.
5. give Iraq a nuke or two to protect themselves form Iran. change the dynamics.

I'm sure there are tons more options. be-lieve me, the bright boys in the think-tanks are working full time on this. Don't judge the rest of our our covert agencies by the example of the corrupt and depraved CIA. they've gone tharn--they have the democrats' disease.
well, CIA/ORD is still clean. i hope.

but anyways, tough times. M. Simon is correct, the Club of Rome is predicting disaster, the doomsday clock is running down.

I'm sure there is more stuff i haven't thought of. But we shouldn't lose hope.

America is a beacon of hope to opressed peoples everywhere. We have new tools to spread the virus of democracy. Let's be opportunistic. Let's be subversive.

Chirac's statement as “barbaric”?

They have got to be kidding!
With France having a history of being the butt of a lot of people's jokes about their appeasement and unwillingness to use force. That statement simply does not make any sense.

The fact that France of all countries have stood up and made this statement, tells me that these are some serious times.

"but...Yehudit, the Iranians are shi'ia --they care far more about Najaf than Mecca and Medina."

The point here is not what the Iranians care about, but what the Saudis care about. They care about Mecca, because it is in their country and they are the official guardians of the holy sites. Would they fly their fighter planes paid for by America over Iran's nuclear sites if Israel threatened to nuke Mecca if they didn't?

Would they fly their fighter planes paid for by America over Iran's nuclear sites if Israel threatened to nuke Mecca if they didn't?

i don't think so, yehudit.
the shi'ia and sunni hate each other. arabs and persians hate each other. one of my persian friends likened arabs to "dirty niggers" once. they are only united in their much greater hatred of jews.

race trumps ethnicity.

"the shi'ia and sunni hate each other."

The Iraqi shi'ia are not fond of the Iranian shi'ia.

But the issue is still whether Mecca is blackmail material. And if the Saudis and Iranians hate each other, then one more reason the Saudis would be willing to nuke Iran if Mecca was threatened.

What finger have the Saudis to lift? It's an idea, Yehudit... but if we are vacillating and indecisive, playing all sides of the fence until it's too late, then with that comparison, what adjective can we use for the House of Saud?

Who's in charge of the clattering train?
The axles creak and the couplings strain
And the pace is hot and the points are near
And Sleep has deadened the driver's ear
And the signals flash through the night in vain
For Death is in charge of the clattering train

Peter nails it.

Such is the times in which we live. Death is conducting history.

Yehudit, you missed my point--they all hate the jews far more. the sauds would never take direction from jews.
ever.

Death has conducted history before. Its insatiable appetite makes it move ever faster -- or are we just slowing down, bogged down by our bounty?

Whatever the case, whatever the perils, and whatever the shortcomings of this Administration -- of which I am no fan -- this is the only bunch of bureaucrats I've seen in my lifetime who'd have the nerve to push this through. What will likely stop them, and be our collective downfall: domestic political constraints.

"the shi'ia and sunni hate each other."

Saudi King Abdullah met with Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr on the last day of the Haj - they were probably chatting over mint tea as the ambulances carried dead pilgrims away. Iran supports al Qaeda, which terrorism experts classify as a Saudi operation. It's primarily Saudi funded. Many Iranians classify the current Islamist regime as "Arab" because it is so Wahhabi-influenced. The current Persian/Arab rulers are destroying Persian relics, just as the Saudis are destroying graves and relics in Mecca. These Shiites and Sunni/Wahhabis share the goal of gaining power by establishing a Talibanesque caliphate under Sharia law. They work together when they have to, and they are hated, but tolerated by Muslims.

The majority of Muslims don't want to live under a Taliban-style regime and the majority of Muslims object to the Saudi destruction of holy relics but, like Europe in the 1930's, they're very passive in the face of totalitarianism. Or, they think it can give them power, so they support it. Threatening the Saudis in an effort to affect the Iranians is a great idea, but a threat against Mecca is one of the few things that could enrage these passive followers.

On the other hand, threatening Riyadh, Jeddah and Saudi bank accounts in Switzerland would probably bring quiet cheers from Muslims, while scaring the Saudis more.

The threat would also be an acknowledgement that Israel is at war with the KSA, in addition to Iran and the Syria..and, oh, yes, the Palestinians.

Since the issue has been raised by several commenters, I'll note as a factual point that the Saudis have 4 squadrons (about 96) Tornado IDS long range strike fighters all based at Dhahran, across the Arabian Gulf/ Persian Gulf from Iran and just NW of Qatar. See this DID article

Given the history of Saudi-Iranian rivalry and dislike, and the deep Muslim belief that G-d protects Mecca and Medina hence making them invulnerable (talk to some), Israel's actions or threats may not mean as much as one might expect here. Consider, too (for the Saudis will), the large number of Shi'ites on its oil-producing east coast, for that may well figure into any Iranian retaliation for airstrikes.

The Saudis are not known for taking chances.

Still, an Iranian bomb implicitly threatens the Saudis as much as it threatens Israel, and past Winds articles have noted Saudi small steps toward a capability of their own and involvement in Pakistan's program. Indeed, the Saudis would be likely to be one of the first "secondary proliferations" to spin out of an Iranian bomb. If so, this would have 2 consequences:

[1] Neatly occupy the pole position slot in Belmont's "3 conjectures" scenario re: intra-Islamic nuclear war.

[2] Given the deep instability of the Saudi regime, and the high level of sympathy with al-Qaeda in the kingdom, a Saudi regime with the bomb could justifiably be painted as al Qaeda owned nukes just waiting to happen.

And the clattering train rolls on...

I knew it was only a matter of time before this happened.

The Islamic regime literally threatened U.S. forces in

Iraq

mary, your relevency?
al-Sadr is an Iranian sock puppet.
within the shi'ia sect, the iranian(persian) shi'ia hate the arab shi'ia, the twelvers hate the seveners, etc., etc.
They are united in their supreme hatred of jews.
i repeat, race trumps ethnicity.

Dave (#5) - yes, "Hobbesian choice" was deliberate on my part. As in, choices forced in the absence of any viable enforcing authority, in an environment characterized by all against all, and where life will be "nasty, brutish, and short" absent the capability to personally enforce otherwise. Not to mention a situation that also threatens to return us to Hobbes' State of Nature in other ways.

But yes, one could use "Hobson's choice" here as well. I just liked the deeper allusions and play on words.

Although I am critical of the opposition forces to the mullahs, but I dont believe that struggle of the Iranian people like Ganji is useless.

See my input here

http://thespiritofman.blogspot.com/2006/01/opposition.html

Indeed, it helped every one of us see the real face of a brutal and corrupt regime when it comes to dealing with its own people.

FREEDOM FOR IRAN

Joe, I think this is a much more realistic evaluation of the "likely worst case" than Tom's; but I do also think that there are an array of better likely cases out there.

I'll take some time this weekend and see if I can at minimum enumerate them.

A.L.

also, may i remind everyone, least you forget--kurds and arabs hate each other, and they are both sunni.

mary, your relevency?
al-Sadr is an Iranian sock puppet.
within the shi'ia sect, the iranian(persian) shi'ia hate the arab shi'ia, the twelvers hate the seveners, etc., etc.
They are united in their supreme hatred of jews.

The relevancy is, we need to rethink the problem. There's overwhelming evidence that Saudis and Iranians are working together. They're united by their goals and by their desire for the destruction of Jews, Buddhists, Christians, atheists, the United States, Russia, etc.

It's also a fact that the suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudi, sent by the Saudi government. They're working with al Qaeda and with al Sadr to turn Iraq into a Taliban Style regime. These terrorists do not have the support of the majority of the people, but they do have the financial support of the Saudis, and they've turned Iraq into a finacial and social mess. We were able to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam, but he wasn't the only fascist in the area. We ignored the Islamist fascists in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, etc. and they sent their fighters in to kill Iraqis and Americans, despite the will of the majority of Iraqis.

So, if we invade Iran, and if we successfully overthrow the Mullahs, what do you think will happen next?

Winston,

I don't think they're entirely useless, either. They are part of the Enlightenment struggle for the Dignity of Man, and that is no small thing.

But in terms of helping to avert the present situation in a meaningful way, or protect the Iranian people - in that instrumental sense, yes I think they're useless. The true face of the Iranian regime is on display in far more prominet ways, and the world will not act. Nor will the Iranian people. As your comments in this post acknowledge.

At this late date, those are the only bottom lines that matter now.

Mary, i don't we have the sand to invade.
i think we can either work for regime change from the bottom up, or bomb them back into the stone age. which will cause a lot of resentment.

Out of this discussion, one thing would clarify the situation. This crisis isn't about a country called 'Iran' obtaining nuclear weapons; indeed, it it were, the Iranians could be counted on as being responsible actors in the nuclear club, as was the case with the Soviet Union.

This crisis is about a globalized, transnational death cult acquiring the means to achieve its messianic ends, that as Mr. Katzman put it, "believes suicide/murder to be the holiest and most moral act possible." That death cult happens to run a country right now. Nukes in the hands of messianic mullahs would be like hand grenades, fit for passing out to the faithful, true believers. It simply doesn't get any worse than that.

The 9/11 era's hallmark is that great powers need not be nations any longer -- not in the sense of sovereignty as we have known it. Some guy named bin Laden -- who's probably dead -- regularly makes headlines, speaking directly to governments, usually with threats, such as his little diatribe on Al Jazeera yesterday.

I believe that we're in a closing window of affecting change in the current tragectory right now -- one last chance to at least stave-off the ultimate proliferation of malignant cancer cells in the world as we know it. But I also believe that whether or not we strike, react or remain unresolved, the Oil Age is coming to a close. The other big story out of all this will be about energy, or lack thereof. We will learn precisely how cheap, abundant energy fueled the miracle we call modern living, that we take so for granted.

A simplistic anecdote that might have some application here. Back in late fifties Los Angeles a couple of my friends and I were being harassed by a gang (yes, there were gangs back then). We finally cornered their leader and informed him that if anything happened to any of us he would personally pay the price - him and no one else. It would not matter what the circumstances or if he could prove he was not directly involved. He would take the baseball bat from out of nowhere to the face. No further problems arose after that.

It puzzles me why Iran would take such an overt approach. State built Nukes, holocaust denying, “we’ll bury you” rhetoric, etc. If they really mean to damage us why not just smile while supplying terrorists? If they really are such a death cult and are willing to suffer any consequence I guess it makes some twisted sense but it strikes me a major tactical blunder. Once they go Statist with their war plans doesn’t this leave them open to just the scenario I outlined above? The gang leader figured his gang was badder than ours so we had no choice but to bow. He didn’t count on a completely new universe to operate in. It is not just terrorists that can play asymmetrical warfare against an entrenched State.

i think we can either work for regime change from the bottom up, or bomb them back into the stone age. which will cause a lot of resentment.

There are more choices. We could bomb them carefully, focusing on the leaders to minimize resentment.

Or we can threaten to bomb their Islamist (temporary) allies in Saudi Arabia.

Or we could work out a Mutually Assured Destruction pact with nuclear armed Islamist Pakistan, which has been (apparently) working to help Iran build nukes. Or we could ally with everyone who is threatened by the Islamists - five sixths of the world's population including Russia, China, India - to invade and dismember all Islamist states and assasinate all Islamist/terrorist leaders living within their borders simultaneously.

Or we could ally with everyone who is threatened by the Islamists to go cold turkey from Middle East oil, slap trade sanctions on the entire area, pour money into alternative resources and technology and threaten that any terrorist attack will result in the bombing of specific cities or sites.

Or we could offer all Iranian & Saudi women free passage and citizenship to the United States, with job training and housing, sort of an underground railroad that would undermine their society. As with all peaceful methods, we would have to plan to circumvent the inevitable terrorist response.

There are probably a lot more choices that we haven't even thought of..

Ultimately, some major changes will be needed in regard to all of the regimes. I don't see this merry go round that we have been on for years ending, without it.

re: options, something entirely different.

Have the U.N. declare Iran a Chinese protectorate for a decade, and have the Afghans provide the Chinese army safe passage to the Iran border, with U.S. air support for their occupation for up to ten years (with a right to harvest Iranian oil for at least that period of time) or until there has been no organized radical islamic terrorist activity for 3 years, whichever comes first (at which time a (UN or its successor body of democratic states) would supervise free elections).

NATO no longer exists as an armed force. The Turkish army isn't large enough to do the job. We made common cause with Stalin and communism at a time when their behaviors were far worse than the current Chinese. The Chinese want to earn their place at the table.

Hmmm.

sigh
mary, just bombing them a little is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants.
bombing saud would be just as good for him.
iran is positioning itself to lead the caliphate.
your other suggestions are patently non-viable and surely must have been made in jest.

It puzzles me why Iran would take such an overt approach.

boyd, he is not talking to us.
think who this rhetoric is really for.

Tehran is planning a nuclear weapons test before the Iranian New Year on March 20, 2006 says a group opposed to the regime in Tehran.

Since it has not cropped up in over three dozen comments I am passing on a few excerpts from a much longer report out of Stratfor.;

======
[big snip]
Tehran spent the time from 2003 through 2005 maximizing what it could from the Iraq situation. It also quietly participated in the reduction of al Qaeda's network and global reach. In doing so, it appeared to much of the Islamic world as clever and capable, but not particularly principled. Tehran's clear willingness to collaborate on some level with the United States in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in the war on al Qaeda made it appear as collaborationist as it had accused the Kuwaitis or Saudis of being in the past. By the end of 2005, Iran had secured its western frontier as well as it could, had achieved what influence it could in Baghdad, had seen al Qaeda weakened. It was time for the next phase. It had to reclaim its position as the leader of the Islamic revolutionary movement for itself and for Shi'ism.

Thus, the selection of the new president was, in retrospect, carefully engineered. After President Mohammed Khatami's term, all moderates were excluded from the electoral process by decree, and the election came down to a struggle between former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- an heir to Khomeini's tradition, but also an heir to the tactical pragmatism of the 1980s and 1990s -- and Ahmadinejad, the clearest descendent of the Khomeini revolution that there was in Iran, and someone who in many ways had avoided the worst taints of compromise.

Ahmadinejad was set loose to reclaim Iran's position in the Muslim world. Since Iran had collaborated with Israel during the 1980s, and since Iranian money in Lebanon had mingled with Israeli money, the first thing he had to do was to reassert Iran's anti-Zionist credentials. He did that by threatening Israel's existence and denying the Holocaust. Whether he believed what he was saying is immaterial. Ahmadinejad used the Holocaust issue to do two things: First, he established himself as intellectually both anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish, taking the far flank among Islamic leaders; and second, he signaled a massive breach with Khatami's approach. [snip]

The second phase was for Iran to very publicly resume -- or very publicly claim to be resuming -- development of a nuclear weapon. This signaled three things:

1. Iran's policy of accommodation with the West was over.
2. Iran intended to get a nuclear weapon in order to become the only real challenge to Israel and, not incidentally, a regional power that Sunni states would have to deal with.
3. Iran was prepared to take risks that no other Muslim actor was prepared to take. Al Qaeda was a piker.

The fundamental fact is that Ahmadinejad knows that, except in the case of extreme luck, Iran will not be able to get nuclear weapons. First, building a nuclear device is not the same thing as building a nuclear weapon. A nuclear weapon must be sufficiently small, robust and reliable to deliver to a target. A nuclear device has to sit there and go boom. The key technologies here are not the ones that build a device but the ones that turn a device into a weapon -- and then there is the delivery system to worry about: range, reliability, payload, accuracy. Iran has a way to go.

A lot of countries don't want an Iranian bomb. Israel is one. The United States is another. Throw Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and most of the 'Stans into this, and there are not a lot of supporters for an Iranian bomb. However, there are only two countries that can do something about it. [snip]

In the past, our view was that the Iranians would move carefully in using the nukes to gain leverage against the United States. That is no longer clear. Their focus now seems to be not on their traditional diplomacy, but on a more radical, intra-Islamic diplomacy. That means that they might welcome a (survivable) attack by Israel or the United States. It would burnish Iran's credentials as the true martyr and fighter of Islam.

Meanwhile, the Iranians appear to be reaching out to the Sunnis on a number of levels. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a radical Shiite group in Iraq with ties to Iran, visited Saudi Arabia recently. There are contacts between radical Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon as well. The Iranians appear to be engaged in an attempt to create the kind of coalition in the Muslim world that al Qaeda failed to create. From Tehran's point of view, if they get a deliverable nuclear device, that's great -- but if they are attacked by Israel or the United States, that's not a bad outcome either.

In short, the diplomacy that Iran practiced from the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war until after the U.S. invasion of Iraq appears to be ended. Iran is making a play for ownership of revolutionary Islamism on behalf of itself and the Shia. Thus, Tehran will continue to make provocative moves, while hoping to avoid counterstrikes. On the other hand, if there are counterstrikes, the Iranians will probably be able to live with that as well. [end]

mary, just bombing them a little is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants.

Bombing them precisely, and targeting Ahmadinejad is probably not what he wants. Although they prattle about not fearing death, these leaders are famous for running when their lives are threatened.

bombing saud would be just as good for him

Saudi money is important for their cause so that's not clear. The idea was to threaten to bomb saud.

iran is positioning itself to lead the caliphate

that could be true, which might be a good thing, as he's so incompetent. Unlike the diplomatic and fairly clever Sauds who are very good at playing the divide and conquer game, Ahmadinejad is managing to unite the world against the idea of Islamism and the caliphate. He's sort of like bin Laden, but an easier target.

your other suggestions are patently non-viable and surely must have been made in jest.

sigh. spitting out random ideas encourages some people to think - others, not.

Mary, bombing Iran is right now what Ahmadinejad and his thugs want the US or Israelis to do!

Although I am for a surgical air strike against their facilities and government structure, but no one can predict how it will play out.

Iran's death-cult shows all the markings of a Ghost Dance cult. Ghost Dance cults invariably disappear over time; mostly, they just need to be humiliated in some fashion, showing their beliefs to be false.

What's the best way to do that? Invasion seems off the table at the moment. Can it be done other ways?

Winston,
That phrase has always bothered me: 'surgical strike'.

One does not perform surgery with high explosives.

"Let's get real. Whatever they may think of the mullahs, the Iranian people, and such civil society as they have built in the shadows, have no stomach to seriously oppose them."

seeing as some have died to oppose them, I think we need to quantify this generalization.

" The mullahs have proven that they are quite willing to kill, with their Basij hitler youth corps and al-Qaeda mercenaries, as many Iranians as necessary."

At some point increasing the numbers you kill becomes self defeating. Thats the logic of revolutionary situations, and why dictators go to such extremes to prevent them.

"Nonviolent measures like the commendable struggle of decent people like Akbar Ganji or even Ayatollah Montazeri are, in this situation, useless. " which situation? the status quo of Jan 19, 2006?

"Despite the scattered attacks etc. noted by This & That in the comments to Tom's article, there is no pre-revolutionary situation in Iran.
Its people have proven that they will be a non-factor in all of this until the die is cast, at whic point it will be too late. What I see from them, and much of the exile community as well, is helplessness, a lack of leadership inside or out, a shirking of responsibility for the current situation, and the middle eastern disease of alternately blaming and beseeching others rather than working to acknowledge the situation and committing to solve it. For many reasons of circumstances, culture, and history (see the excellent comment from "Anonymous"), their widespread resentment of the mullahs is a quiescent one. Nor does there appear to be any serious appreciation for the potential consequences of the mullahs' insane atomic adventure."

words from reporters inside Iran indicate quite some concern for the security and economic consequences, and concern that Ahmadinegad has gone to far. This even seeps through the MSM, which wouldnt be inclined to report this.

Today Iran faces historically high oil prices. It has a president who has pledged to relieve the stress of the poor, and who could be expected to have the resources to do it. I have little doubt that a massive surge in unemployment and fall in living standards would bring Iranians to the streets in large numbers. I have little doubt that the revolutionary guards would provide the necessary match. That, plus the existing hostility to the regime of the affluent, and the genuinely prerevolutionary situation among the national minorities (azeris, baluchis, kurds and arabs) presents a real possibility of internal regime change.

Now it may be that you are right, and what i project will not happen. But is it not worthwhile to pursue it, which means continuing to work with the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, etc? Is it worth discussing worst case scenarios that may make the pursuit of a desirable outcome less likely?

i also note that the anonymous you point to, as to why the opposition cant win, follows up with a more optimistic comment.

i also note that he is discussing the present situation, NOT the situation after large scale economic sanctions.

Having been in the region during their Shahab missile tests in 2004, the Iranians are very capable of delivering a "device". Whether it will work or not is open to debate. They are not a stupid people, simply on the wrong path.

What is their real goal? The elimination of Israel? A couple of nukes delivered against that nation may suffice in their minds. Likely Tel Aviv vice Jerusalem would be the target. The delivery would also likely be conventional, smuggled aboard an airliner or cargo plane. I expect the Mossad to have considered this eventuality and is working VERY hard to deal with this.

What I would like to see is a concerted effort by the world to unseat the present Iranian regime. Iran does not consider itslef "Arab" in the truest sense of the word. They are Persians and thus inheritors to the splendors of their very long history.

PS - Pick up All the Shah's Men for a nice summary of Iranian game playing and perspective

I think the threat analysis is correct.

I anticipate that among the range of options are...

1. To the extent this is possible, seize control of the electronically based accounts the Iranian regime holds.

2. Control the Iranian oil pumping stations that are in the Persian Gulf. See an atlas. Offer China the opportunity to purchase as much of its production as they care to have, and hold the proceeds in escrow for an Iranian government that satisfies our demands.

3. Arm the ethnic minorities (see the map in UT's Perry-Castaneda library) that would be likely to resist their Persian emperors.

4. To the extent possible, offer neighboring countries an opportunity to protect "their" ethnic minorities currently within Iran's political borders. Iran thereby loses most of their oil producing areas and maritime access.

5. If military action becomes necessary, be prepared to refuel Israeli aircraft over the western desert of Iraq. (I am assuming their F-16's / 15's have air-to-air refueling capability). If not, we could "reflag" some of ours that DO have refueling ability.

6. Execute whatever OPLAN exists to take down the enforcers of the Iranian state. This includes kinetic (i.e. explosives) and non-kinetic means.

7. Disrupt telecommunications that source from inside Iran -- no need to allow outsiders to get state-sponsored visuals of portrayals of conditions inside Iran.

8. Reflag all oil tanker traffic in the Gulf to US.

9. Raids do not REQUIRE seizing every mile of road along the way. The US has a well-developed capability to deliver with precision logistics packages from the air. Once we own the air, we can go to any spot in Iran without needing ground lines of communication. NOTE: Yes, this is a substantial risk to the units we send in. That is why I call this a RAID, not a ground campaign.

Just a few thoughts on options short of all-out inferno.

Liberalhawk (#47) - First, good to see you here.

I follow these reports from Iran as well. By all means, we should try the approaches you have mentioned (and which we have advocated here for years).

What we cannot and must not do, is depend on them.

  • First, note how many things, even in your comment, need to come together. Each jump from A-B may fail, and there is room for very few failures.
  • One thing about revolutions that isn't commonly discussed, but which is generally true: revolutions don't generally succeed without substantial outside help. Unfortunately, the primary instruments by which we might deliver this approach (US State Department and CIA) cannot be depended on to do it - indeed, have opposed such an approach consistently and worked to undermine it.
  • Finally, I stick to my assessment that the Iranian people themselves are, at present, a long way from revolution - even the minorities. Perhaps the folks with security clearances are seeing a different picture, or coming to different conclusions. But that's mine. This doesn't detract one iota from the nobility of the sacrifices being made by Iranian democratic activists. But the issue has gone beyond Iran, now, and the bottom line is now effectiveness.

This is not to say that all of these situations are set in stone. Of course they are changeable, and February 20, 2006 could look different. To the extent that we can, we should try to change them.

But it's a long-odds card hand, and we have to be honest enough to acknowledge that, too.

Mr. Katzman, I share your bleak outlook not because I believe we will not take action against Iran. I think we will. My concern is that Americans keep looking at this war as one defined by borders. It needs to be thought of in terms of regions and populace unencumbered by borders.

Let's say we take action against Iran and do what you suggest. I would think the likely outcome is that radicals overthrow Musharraf in Pakistan. You are then faced again w/ crazies with nukes.

My concerns come not from taking step one, it's that we have no solution for step two.

Chirac now has made clear that Europe doesn't only talks nicely, but does also carry a big stick. A clear warning towards Tehran.
That makes the situation look different. Until now, Teheran was assured that Europe has no will neither the means to deter Tehran. But in fact Paris as well as Berlin are extremly concerned.
There is still the chance to mount the pressure. Until now, Teheran saw itself in the position of the challenger, in a position of strength. To pursue the nuclear program had no costs, only benefits: more respect, more carots. If the pressure mounts, Teheran might begin to make a different calculation. The mullahs are not suicide bombers, they love the life as we in the West do.
So it's crucial to offer them a clear alternative. The Europeans are on board, this time. The Russians are half on board. The Chinese might stay neutral.

Sure the world is about to engage in WWIII (or 4?) but most importantly I was CITED in the blog post by Joe!!!! That is the line that starts with "Despite the scattered attacks..."

That was the first time....oooooo felt so good!.

I need a cig.

8^)

This&That

(nothing to add to the thread except maybe we can use some of our special forces with the various rebel wannabes like we did in Afganistan.)

Chris (#52), provocative contribution.

Not sure why this would necessarily be the outcome, esp. given the long fighting in Afghanistan that touches many Pakistanis far more directly (largely because they personally know people who have gone there to fight/die). Yet Musharraf stays. The USA invaded Iraq. Yet Musharraf stays. If the crazies could get him - and they've tried - they would. They may get lucky tomorrow, but that's true whatever we do.

Having said that, the revelations, legitimate fears, et. al. as a result of Pakistan's (note, considered a relatively stable state by Arab/Islamic standards) nuclear adventure speak strongly to the depth of the Iranian problem. Not only is Iran a much less stable regime (to put it mildly), but so are many of the other Middle Eastern regimes who would be the "secondary proliferation" wave. So really, if Iran succeeds you have to imagine the Pakistani situation but only about 1/10 as secure and/or controllable - and that's just the secondary effects.

Back to the main subject of your comment, however.

There are, so I understand, plans in place to "secure" Pakistan's weapons should events require. So that's Plan A for your "Step Two". Which may, we must acknowledge, fail.

As for a Plan B, I think the word we're looking for is "India" - who realizes full well that they would be the #1 target of crazed Pakistanis with nukes, even above the USA. Here on Winds, we've discussed what that situation could look like before. It's bleak, and sad, but does largely solve the problem. And if Pakistan doesn't get its problem with Islamist death-cults and hate under control, it's pretty close to inevitable in the long term.

Historical evolution has always been unkind, but the nuclear/biological age takes that to a whole new level.

"If Islam desires the secret of the stars it must embrace the kuffar as its brother -- or die."

The truest and most succinct summation of Islam's situation I have yet seen, anywhere. My strong belief at the moment is that this will not sink in until we get a major demonstration. Which is in the nature of Islamofascism to force, imbued as it is with the classic fascist death wish as well as Islam's tradditional imperalism and supremacism.

I had once hoped we could avert this. I still do, and we should continue to try. But I am finding it harder and harder to believe that we will succeed.

What is the possibility that Ahmedinajad is in the position of Khrushchev -- he has the support of the mullahs until he doesn't?

And Cicero (#31) is right when he says:

"But I also believe that whether or not we strike, react or remain unresolved, the Oil Age is coming to a close. The other big story out of all this will be about energy, or lack thereof. We will learn precisely how cheap, abundant energy fueled the miracle we call modern living, that we take so for granted."

Good thing Winds just beefed up its New Energy Currents briefings. Not a coincidence.

Got solar?

#10,

Tharn?

Marvelous...how many here caught the Watership Down reference? The perfect word to describe the condition, too.

Mr Katzman.

I certainly cant guarantee a revolutionary outcome, and yes there are many intermediate steps, but i think there are as many steps on the path to armageddon as well. 1. Its possible that the rest of the regime is NOT as crazy as ahmadinejad (and yes ive looked at your links, ans while they indicate at least some other than ahmadinejad are serious about the 12th imam business, they DONT indicate it for all the players - and even for the individuals quoted, its not impossible this is just rhetoric) - this could imply that sanctions could deter them EVEN in the absence of immediate revolution 2. Its possible weaponizing will take them longer than expected, and meanwhile things change 3. Its possible the MAD works. Now dont get me wrong. Ive just been on a site where ive argued with a pro-Mad dogmatist someone who excludes the possibility of MAD failing. Be clear, I dont trust in MAD. But I am also not so pessimistic as to be 100% sure it will fail. That possibility must be allowed for. Indeed, looking at the behavior of the Mullahs over the last 25 years, they show an inclination to send OTHERS to commit suicide, but little inclination themselves. Now again, that doesnt make me feel safe and warm - once theyve got nukes theyve got them, and it only takes one moment when genuine loons control all the levers of power to result in the nukes being used (and of course theres the real possibility of accidental use as well) BUT it means that we dont necessarily have armageddon the first day Iran has a working weapon. And then theres the possiblity that we will develop a very effective missile defense that we can share with Israel.

Now that said we've got to balance things. The prospects that we DO have time. The possibillity that a revolutionary narrative will work. The likelihood that any other path will fail. Should we be doing things to prepare for war with Iran - sure we should. I should hope we are working on better bunker busters, etc. I would like us to increase the size of the Army. I would like us to more fully mobilize our society (but youve heard that from me before) And yes, we need to IMPROVE our relations with allies we will need IF we go to war, as well as for the present course. But we should NOT take steps that weaken the diplomatic-economic-revolutionary course.

As for State and CIA opposing revolution, lets review that. They opposed it in the past, when Iran did not present an imminent nuclear threat. And that may well have been a rational approach - certainly its better if the revolutionaries develop on their own, develop their own leadership, etc. But now is different. Indeed, I would be surprised if we arent already working some of those angles. And I should hope,if we are doing so, that we are not publicizing it. I would suspect the problem at the CIA would be more one of capability than of desire.

I would also suggest that if we can work on that together with our allies, and with some states that arent our allies, like Russia (and some that fall in between, like KSA) we will do much better. Lets recall - the goal in Iran is NOT necessarily an ideal democratic regime, or a pro-American regime. Its a regime that can be trusted to be sane wrt to nuclear weapons. And with that goal in mind, it may be reasonable to compromise with French, Russian and even Chinese goals in the region. Surely it is, if we are as close to armageddon as you suggest. If we are really concerned about the marginal increase of Chinese power, or about a setback to the democratization program, then I would suggest we dont really take imminent armageddon all that seriously.

Islamists have been threatening to destroy the world and kill us all for decades. We listened to them for a few months after 9/11, then we went back to playing realpolitic games (see Iraq). The Sauds, maybe with Libyan help, have been quietly destabilizing governments around the world and sponsoring thousands of terrorist attacks. But we didn't seem to care about these constant attacks and crimes until someone was dumb enough to say the word 'nukes'.

The Saudis see themselves as the leaders of the Ummah, and they may have a nuclear arsenal:
In the mid-1980s, they clandestinely negotiated the purchase of about 50 to 60 Chinese CSS-2 missiles. The Chinese and Saudis were able to complete the deal before American intelligence was wise to the relationship. The Saudis paid handsomely, with about $3 billion to $3.5 billion dollars for the Chinese missiles capable of reaching up to about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles). The CSS-2s had been armed with nuclear warheads when they were operational in the Chinese force structure, but Riyadh and Beijing claim that the missiles delivered to Saudi Arabia were armed with conventional warheads and rebuffed U.S. requests to inspect the missiles. The CSS-2 missiles, however, are too inaccurate to be militarily effective with conventional munitions, but more than accurate enough for the delivery of nuclear weapons.
...but they're smart enough not to talk about it. Ahmedinajad isn't.

Like Ahmedinajad, bin Laden wants to be in charge of everything, and he also openly threatens the west. But he's smart enough to hide.

If Ahmedinajad's goals are exactly what he says they are, then we couldn't ask for a better potential head-of-the Caliphate. If this idiot is really in charge, their movement is doomed. If his goals are what he says they are, we should be (quietly) encouraging his leadership, for a short time.

Scientist Amory Lovins said:
End-use/least cost analysis begins with a simple question: What are you really trying to do? If you go to the hardware store looking for a drill, chances are what you really want is not a drill but a hole. And then there's the reason you want the hole. If you ask enough layers of "Why" --as Taiichi Ohno, the inventor of the Toyota production system told us — you typically get to the root of the problem
If we do go through the trouble and expense of going to war, the "why" should be to destroy the political movement of Islamism, not just Ahmedinajad.

I might have seriously underestimated the time we have before the mullahs announce they have nuclear weapons.

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php#c177

Joe,

So we have to go now and count on the USAF coming through with CONPLAN 8022.

"The tradeoffs between the cost of an extended occupation in Iran, and its desirability, change dramatically if we must search for easily concealed, ready-to-use nuclear weapons, as opposed to merely destroying the physical ability to produce them."

"Tharn?

Marvelous...how many here caught the Watership Down reference? The perfect word to describe the condition, too."

LoL. Me. I did. I did. How many points do we get?

darwi odrade : fyi

Persians don't hate Jews. The Arabized regime does, but the Persian in the street does not.

It all seems a little too gloomy to me.

I have not looked for one but I think it's entirely possible that Reagan or Bush have some quote referring to the "end of days" that could be taken by a Iranians to mean that he is willing to use nuclear weapons to bring about the second coming. I think we are doing the same thing to the Iranian president.

I have a hard time believing Iran is going to start an unprovoked nuclear war on Israel, knowing that this will mean their own destruction.

A collapsing North Korea worries me more.

I know Joe has already seen this Stratfor piece on Iran It comes pretty close to concluding that Iran doesn't necessarily want nukes, it wants the world to think it has nukes and doesn't care about the consequences of that belief.

Mary, we've covered the CSS-2s before. Saudi-focused military digression time...

The general consensus (and it's a strong consensus) is that the CSS-2s are conventional, but that this woud change if the Saudis acquired or received nukes.

The PRC has pretty good relations with the Israelis in the mid-80s, recall, when the USA was encouraging Israel to cooperate with China's defense industry. And the USA would have effective ways of checking something that fundamental given its access to Saudi Arabia, with or without Saudi permission.

The CSS-2s aren't useless, though. SCUDs and even FROGs after all, are also totally inaccurate. That hasn't stopped them from being very popular world-wide. CSS-2s do allow the Saudis to threaten many more Iranian & Israeli cities than Al Quwwat al Jawwiya as Sa'udiya (the RSAF) could alone - and with cities, close is good enough for retaliation purposes. I'll also note that the CSS-2s could also be given chemical warheads, which are much easier to make and conceal than nukes. Libya was quietly much further along that path than anyone had suspected, for instance... No idea where the Saudis are at with that, but it's a possibility.

Sadly, I see the clock ticking down also; and that Mr. Katzman's projections have a high probability of coming true. I would like to point out one thing that has struck me as being "off" in this discussion. Yes, Chirac did make a speech saying that France reserved the right to use their Force de Frappe against terrorist states or movements "who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction". This is taken by most observers to be a threat to Teheran. Given France's past actions, given its past overt support for Iraq's nuclear ambitions, given its economic ties and technical support for the current Iranian regime, given its denunciations of the United States in this war as being "terrorist", and given their abject fear of an uprising by their Muslim minority; France's position is far more ambiguous. It is not reasonable to definitely regard France [ or the EU ] as being either a friendly or potent actor on our side. They have decades of regarding opposition to the United States as the normal and highest motive for their foreign policy. They for years allowed terrorist groups to operate freely on their soil so long as their targets were the US or Israel. One cannot rule out that they will attempt to appease and collaborate with the Mullah's, believing that will buy them safety at the expense of the rest of Western Civilization.

Liberal Hawk #47 & #59

If the article Tom Holsinger posted a link to in his comment #61 is correct, we have until March 2006 until Iran tests a nuke.

No internal revolution in Iran can be fomented and bring down the regime quickly enough o prevent that.

American Force of Arms must decide the issue and anything less then a regime changing ground invasion will allow the Mullahs to get off a nuke at us.

Time has run out for any other option.

Choose.

Either we invade or we have a world where nuclear armed 3rd world states that 1) throw nukes at each other 2) use them within their borders and 3) lose them to terrorists who ISO container deliver them to major Western cities.

There are no other choices.

Mike (#63): "I have a hard time believing Iran is going to start an unprovoked nuclear war on Israel, knowing that this will mean their own destruction."

This is known in technical terms as 'mirror imaging.' Mike can't imagine doing this himself, therefore no-one else would do it. Unfortunately, everything in the Iranian mullahs' religious beliefs, ideology of suicide bombing, and regime ideology re: war with the west and 12th imam says that yes, indeed, they'll do it.

This is like the CIA Natonal Intelligence Estimate that said the Russians wouldn't put missiles in Cuba. Their 1962 NIE... and when pressed later, it came out that they issued that opinion because it wasn't how they would have played it if they were the Soviets. I mean, it's comical really, but not on so serious a subject.

PD Shaw (#64) Thank you for posting the full link to the STRATFOR piece. I think they have one good insight they've made a bit much of, which is that Iran is making a play for leadership of global Islamism. Well, their own writings tell us that.

I think STRATFOR tie themselves in a knot when they then go on to look at Iran's program and say "they don't mean it, or seriously believe they'll get there, it's all theater and they're just reckless." Uh, they ARE reckless, but it isn't theater.

Liberalhawk (#59): Take out all the "possible" words, "could," and other estimates of probability from the comment, and put in more precise estimates of probability like "highly possible," or "remotely possible," or "vanishingly unlikely," or what have you. At that point 2 things will become clearer:

[1] The true strength of your belief in happy outcome possibilities.

[2] The a priori assumptions behind that, so we can have a better chat about those.

For instance, I'd personally rephrase the following:

"...this could imply that sanctions could deter them EVEN in the absence of immediate revolution.

as:

"...there is a vanishingly tiny possibility that a sanctions program could deter them EVEN in the absence of immediate revolution."

And then, of course, one could explain why (Iran is too lucrative so sanctions will be circumvented, China & Russia are already bought, past US sanctions on Iran ineffective, Saddam's history with sanctions, consistent declarations by Iran on this subject, the nature of fanatics, etc.)

well, unfortunately the the doomsday duo (Tom & Trent) is correct per usual.
the bad thing is i think we don't have the sand or the logistics to invade.

so we bomb them back to the stone age?

and i think the theocracy has some nukes already.
but to lead the caliphate, they need the capacity to make infinitely many.
i think Ahmadinejad's posturing has more to do with Iraq than anything else, even after reading Tom's link.

PD Shaw #56, Joe

"What is the possibility that Ahmedinajad is in the position of Khrushchev -- he has the support of the mullahs until he doesn't?"

There's a very good possibility of that. But it's meaningless. He doesn't run the show, Khamenei does. And he isn't doing anything right now that Khamenei isn't permitting him to do.

As for the March testing date....the info came from MEK. They're not reliable. They hit the bullseye once, and have had trouble even hitting the dartboard since.
But time will tell.......

I don't expect the mullahs to attack Israel with nukes directly. More likely, they will smuggle a nasty package to their Lebanese Hezbollah allies. Israel should retaliate against Tehran (at least) regardless.

I feel as apprehensive as the dark days of the Cold War, though at least then, we could count on the Soviets sanity.

#58,

I chuckled when I read it. I've been describing Democrats as the Tharn Party for years. Everyone just stares - especially Democrats. They assume I meant the Thorn Party....

For those that haven't read Watership Down - the Rabbits went Tharn with fear. They couldn't move or function, just let circumstances unfold

#69,71:

re: Iran having nukes and more importantly having weaponized them - this is a much more complex problem than simply having a device which will explode. Their program appears, AFAIK, to be based on HEU (centrifuge enrichment?) which means any device would be HEU cored - which, in turn, imposes lower mass and size limits on the device. The engineering challenges on miniaturizing a HEU device to the point of being able to deliver it on a packaged warhead or especially in something that can be 'smuggled' are non-trivial, and most especially without testing.

I don't bring this up to cast doubt on your conclusions, but to note a trend as these comments continue of 'compressing timeframe' assumptions...akin to 'groupthink.' A sense that the loop is closing and that things must be getting worse and worse. This form of behavior pattern is absolutely anathema to any form of analysis in which a) you can't rely absolutely on your input information (which we sure can't) and b) you really don't want to get the output wrong (which we sure don't).

"The USA's stated goals should be to kill as many members of the Iranian regime and governing apparatus as possible (yes, their deaths are a secondary war goal - one does not leave such people alive to try again)"

I think this should be the first goal. Terrorise their lidership would have even the benefit of whole world next would be nuke despot to see.

Just as a note, it might be only a erroneous sign but some media guys here in Europe are much more pro-attack Iran that their past behaviour (pro- palestinian and anti-USA) would led to believe.
Some of them say clearely they wish a repeat Osirak V2...

Mary, we've covered the CSS-2s before. Saudi-focused military digression time...

The Saudis may or may not have some form of WMD, but that's not why we should attack them. Iran may or may not have some form of WMD, but that's not why we should attack them. In Rwanda, the Hutus were able to massacre hundreds of thousands of people with machetes and a few guns. If a group is explicity genocidal, they're dangerous. Wahhabi-influenced Islamists, including the puritanical Iranian mullahs, are, in the words of R. James Woolsey, genocidal, whether they have the bomb or not. They've always been willing to slaughter thousands of people and they've been dangerous for decades.

Since we've managed to live with these genocidal Islamists for years, and since they may or may not have always had WMDs, I just question the need to rush into a barely planned invasion. We know that it will probably be just like Iraq, only more so.

We know that the leaders of these weak states run whenever they think their lives are threatened. They have suicidal followers, but they aren't suicidal themselves. If they launch a nuclear weapon, they know that their own lives will be in danger. They will never be ready to face that.

#68

I realize not all human beings are alike, but there is a lot that we have in common. Love of family, friends and a connection to our homeland are things we all share. There are a lot of things I can imagine Iranians doing that I wouldn't. However, causing the destruction of their entire nation with the loss of the above is not one of them.

The Iranians have other reasons for wanting nuclear weapons. They live in an unstable region. They were attacked 20 years ago by Iraq and fought a devastating war for the best part of a decade. More recently, they have seen a neighbouring country invaded, with a breakdown in civil society as a result. I do not believe you have to demonize them as crazed religious zealots, to wonder why they might feel more secure with nuclear weapons.

I think STRATFOR tie themselves in a knot when they then go on to look at Iran's program and say "they don't mean it, or seriously believe they'll get there, it's all theater and they're just reckless." Uh, they ARE reckless, but it isn't theater.
Joe, part is theater.

I believe the ultimate goal of the theocracy is not to manufacture suitcase bombs for terrorism, but to demostrate capability to build an infinite supply of nuke warheads.

I actually find Friedman's analysis infinitely more depressing than yours or Wretchards.
>:-(

Mike, you seem to work very hard to ignore the justifications that Iran's own leader has made for having nuclear weapons.

'kay, this will be snore-city for some of you, feel free to scroll.
About the "only part being theater..."
In Mohammed's time, the bedouin were looked upon as the authentic bearers of culture and the personification of arab values. Mohammed himself was sent out to live with the family of his wet nurse to be educated in bedouin cultural values. Those values are encoded in the Qu'ran, and admired by muslims to this day.
Part of bedouin tribal warfare was a formal "boast", delvered from one tribe to another on the plain of jizziya combat. The "boast" became part of the formal style of the arabian ode, so we can see today what form those "boasts" often took.
There definitely is an element of hyperbole and exaggeration. And also a bluff.
Ahmadinejad is essentially executing a "boast", traditionally designed to sap the enemies' will before combat.
The mullahs are not crazed suicidal fanatics, Ahmadinejad is not "bellicose and unstable" (wretchard) or a "lunatic" (VDH), but acting according to cultural values. Because they are different from us, does not mean they are stupid or insane. Btw, this does not mean that they are not basically evil killers who plan to destroy us either. It just worries me that we have so little understanding of Islamic culture.
here is a sample boast from one of my favorites, Bid Hurayrah Farewell,
Try us. You won't find us after the battle
from the tribe's blood-right
turning away.

They called for a mounted attack. We said we can do that.
They prepared to fight on foot.
We're a tribe that fights unmounted.

Mike You're in denial.

The Iranian regime glorifies martyrdom, suicide bombing, denies the Holocaust, hangs gays and rape victims, and believes that destruction of Iran will be a victory for Islam over Israel (their President said so). His latest, a "demand" that Europe accept Jews "back" so Israel will be "Jew-free."

Just like Hitler laid it all out in Mein Kampf, so has this guy. He is NOT LIKE YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW. He is not Western. He doesn't have kids. Death of children in martyrdom anyway is something celebrated and to be desired. The Nuke program dates to 1979 and the Revolution and makes no sense (Iran could have made deal after deal with the US and Israel who shared a common set of enemies, Saddam and Osama). That Iran continues to go on about Jews and Israel despite there being no threat from Israel absent Iran nuking them should tell you something. When someone acts like a racist monster when it's costly, it means they really believe it.

Mary -- Iran's leaders believe what they see on Hardball or CNN International. Ahmadinejad's only exposure to Westerners was torturing Americans seized from our Embassy. OF COURSE they believe a nuke or two will cause us to collapse. Are we not wicked? Infidels?

in summer of 1978, CIA believed that Iran is not in a pre-revolutionary status... 6 months later the late Shah was gone. (Feb 79)!

This can happen again but right now Iranian people do not want to lose more. They have already lost too many in the past 26 yrs and I have no idea if any one here knows what losing beloved ones means.

I heard people talking about losing 1/4th of their family in 25 yrs, of course these people wouldnt risk more. it is very usual!

A must-read article on the subject of nuclear proliferation is William Langewiesche's "The Point of No Return" in the Atlantic Monthly. Part two is here, unfortunately behind a subscription wall.

Langewiesche describes the AQ Kahn operation, and walks through the events that prove the complicity of the Pakistani government and elite, including Musharraf. Western governments have been aware of this for a long time, but have had other priorities.

Iran was one of many customers of AQ Kahn, Pakistan, and for that matter, North Korea. The sales of these materials and technologies haven't ended--they've just taken on new forms.

I'll type in this excerpt from a 2001 report published by the Kahn Research Laboratories:

Keeping pace with the emerging demands of the competitive international defense products market, KRL ventured to offer its expertise, in the shape of services and products, not only to the domestic consumers but also to an international audience of friendly countries... Although a fresh entrant, the participation of KRL from Pakistan was warmly welcomed. KRL has earned credibility not only in South East Asia, but also in the Middle East and West Asia. Its regular participation... has enabled the Laboratories to set up and maintain close cooperation in this vital sector in many countries. [Jan. 2006 Atlantic, pg. 110].

"I realize not all human beings are alike, but there is a lot that we have in common. Love of family, friends and a connection to our homeland are things we all share."

You don't know how much I hate this niave multiculturalism.

'Love', and the obligations of responcibility that it engenders, can mean very very different things to different people depending on the culture that they come from. 'Love' can lead a man to murder his own daughter. 'Love' can lead a man to celebrate his own sons suicide.

I detest when under the pretence of respecting other people, people go through backflips to contort someone's else culture to be a mirror of thier own. Afterall, noone could possibly think differently than I do, right? Bah!! Culture is not the style of food and clothes you wear. It goes much much deeper. For example, I detest how suicide bombers are always presented as disillusioned people who turn to the idea as a result of oppression and poverty. That isn't it at all. Suicide bombers (at least the willing ones) are the best and brightest of a culture designed to produce suicide bombers as its highest cultural manifestation. Suicide bombers generally are bright well educateed people who've made what they believe to be the rational decision to make a sacrifice for the good of preserving thier culture. This is fact, and anything else is just childish rationalizations people make when they encounter the uncomfortable fact that not everyone thinks like they do.

Not only might the Iranians we are worried about think that sending 95% of the country into glorious martyrdom might be worth it (what a wonderful gift to give to thier people), but by their own admission, the Iranians believe that they as a nation would survive a retaliatory nuclear strike by the Israeli's. Among other rational reasons for believing this, you are ignoring the fact that the Iranian leadership might well believe - and in fact some cases appears to believe - that Allah would miraculously intervene to save them from such a strike. Besides, although it isn't the only possibility, we do have to consider the possibility that Ahmadinejad has 'Emporer Cartagia syndrome', and believes that he needs some sort of mass murder or martyrdom to usher in the 12th imman.

And the thing you have to understand is that even if that sounds insane to us, it wouldn't necessarily mean that Ahmadinejad is insane. He would simply be a product of his culture.

I've been reading all the scenerios lately about who could do what to whom, however all of them have flaws which have been pointed out by others. My own feelings are that there is not the political will among the American public or the world at large to support a nuke attack in the present state of affairs vis a vis Iran. Considering the number of troops that went into Iraq and the physical size of Iran it will take more (2X - 3X) troops to overrun Iran. We don't have that amount availabe to maintain commitments, train the replacements, and have enough to cover our back. It's just "A Bridge too Far". As far as us moblizing to do it now, it isn't happening. If you don't believe that I suggest you go set by the railroad tracks for a day or two.

Until there is an atomic detonation in the U. S. we, as a population, will never get mad enough to do what is necessary to truly pursue the war to a conclusion. So from that standpoint I am with the State Department at the present. Maybe not for the same reasons, but reaching the same conclusion.

JK: The thing that struck me about the StratFor peice, is that it assumes that the Iranians believe that they can resume leadership of the Islamic revolution by an act of theater alone. This seems to be a view that would be difficult to rationally hold. Afterall, the Iranians took center stage in the Islamic world by an act of more than theater. Sure, there was alot of theater in the Iranian revolution and the resulting 'hostage drama', but there were concrete actions of defiance and not just words. Likewise, the Wahhabist Sunni's took back center stage in the Islamic world by more than mere theater, but by an action. It beggers belief to imagine that the Iranians think that they can restore thier credibility with mere words and boasting, or even that the Iranians think that they can restore thier credibility by getting the tar bombed out of them on TV. By this point, I would think that the 'Islamic Street' is getting really tired of boastful people that do no more than get the crap bombed out of them. If they aren't planning for action, the Iranians risk looking as impotent and foolish as the Iraqi Information minister, and that is the last thing they would desire.

It stands to reason that the Iranians that if StratFor has correctly divined the Iranian mentality, that Iranians ARE going to engage in some sort of show of strength and influence. The really interesting question is whether they plan to act before or after a US strike. The really interesting question is not what the Iranians are going to do - I think we KNOW what in general they are going to do - the really interesting question is, "What do the Iranians think that we are going to do?"

I noted Tom's post with interest and would have blogged my own response, but, alas, I can't get to my own site (it's filtered at BIAP, though I can get to Winds. RANDOM!)

There are no good options, and the least-worst options are not very good. I agree with Joe, that Israel can't resolve this. It will not be resolved by bombing, like Iraq's OChirac reactor - the Mullahs, for all their fanaticism, are not insensate, and have learned.

Even several weeks of bombing by America to try and eliminate all possible sites would not likely eliminate the problem. All either of those things would do is what the regime wants - solidify it, and create a patriotic "Rally-round-the-Mullah" affect. Indeed, arguably this is the reason for much of the saber-rattling now (as Jonah Goldberg mentioned in a recent column) - the Iranian people may hate the Mullahcracy, but most of them also apparently believe their country ought to have the bomb. So the regime is using this crisis to two ends - the imediate one of creating an international conflict to shore themselves up at home, and the future one, which is dire.

Bombing will not work. And we do not currently have the forces available to really conduct a serious "regime-change" mission in Iraq. Why is that? Well, folks may remember the posts and comments that took place here and elsewhere (including my Blog) two years or so ago on whether to increase the force structure or not. We did not. Indeed, Bush & Rumsfeld are back to talking about cutting the force structure, so they can continue to fund such programs as the F-22. That displays their priorities - or, at least, a shift back to "Sept 10th" thinking on at least that front.

This leaves diplomacy, hope, and potential sanctions. WHich the IRanian Mullahs are doing all they can to avert, and which are likely to be of negligable effectiveness regardless (especially since we know that Our Dear Friends in the International Community[sup]tm[/sup] will avidly violate any that are put into place, even assuming they can get together and agree to even mild sanctions). Most likely it will end in the proverbial Strongly Worded Statement of Condemnation (watered down compromise version), and hand-wringing dithering, along with self-rationalization by many ("what's the big deal if they get the bomb? Pakistan has it, and the U.S. doesn't seem to care. So why make the fuss over Iran?") - head in the sand behavior because, well, the heads on the chopping block aren't in the areas of the International Community[sup]tm[/sup] that the enlightened, concerned internationalists are really concerned with - it won't affect them (directly). Or anyhow they will delude themselves into thinking it won't.

I sincerely hope that it won't end as badly as Joe projects. I held out and still to some extent hold out hope in the good sense of the Iranian people and that they will do something before it gets so far. Noting that the Mullahs hire non-Iranian mercenaries both for their domestic and international dirty-business, so thin on the ground are Iranians who have that in them, have that mindset. But we'll see. We can also hope for a sort of "spread-effect" from Iraq. Really it is a race to the finish line between two possible endings.

Too bad we don't have anything more to put on the scales to tip the balance in the favor of a positive ending than we do. Would that we did. But alas our current leadership did not mobilize the resources when they could have, and the alternative leadership we were offered in the range of choices we faced in the election would not have done it better.

We go to war with the army we have, not the army we might wish to have (I think someone once said that, someone who has had some bit of time to influence what sort of army we have today).

To all who are sitting fron of your computers and deciding what should happen to Iran.
You're forgetting one thing. The Iranian people and its orgenize resistance. US does not need to attack Iran. The only thing they should be doing is to leave our resistance alone. They have enough support on the ground to get rid of Mullahs. I'm sure you're familiar with the NCRI
National Council resistance of Iran. NCRI chose a president 10 years ago. She was in the EU Parliament on December 2004 and gave a speech on the Third Option. Mrs. Rajavi explained that the world should stop the appeasement policy, and the talk of war with Iran. There is a third option. The Iranian people and their resistance can and will overthrow the regime in Iran.
You know, the appeasement policy has been the main reason that the mullahs are getting closer and closer to the atomic technology and their goal, the atomic bomb. The whistle was blown by the NCRI in 2003 and now the west is begining to realize the time they waisted. The Iranian people kicked SHAH out of Iran, they can and they will kick the MUllahs out too. EU and US must recognize the power of the people and the first thing they have to do is to take the name of the main opposition organization(NCRI & Mojahedin) off their terrorist list. This act was and is part of the appeasment policy. The people of Iran are suffering. Politically and financially. Enough is enough. If the Mullahs get their hands on atamic bomb, be sure that the whole world is in danger. They're going to use their new power to their advantage and no body can touch them. Is this the kind of world we want to live in?? The Mullahs newclear file must be reffered to the UN's Security Council now.
visit this website to get to know the NCRI better. http://www.maryamrajavi.com/
Thanks for your time

I might be just too Zionist or just naive, but I do not believe that Israel will allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel is target #1 for Iran and don't think any half-normal Israeli leader will wait around to see whether Iran can achieve their goals.

Michael -KIC
Text to display

it assumes that the Iranians believe that they can resume leadership of the Islamic revolution by an act of theater alone.
celebrim, i don't think so.
you argued we should evaluate Ahmadenejad's performance within culture, didn't you? I don't think it is theater.
If Iran's goal is to lead to lead the Caliphate, and triumph in a global campaign, what do they need?
Parity with West in nuke tech.
They need to be able to manufacture as many nukes as they need to stand us off while they solidify the ME under Islam and spread onward. 'Member, they believe the caliphate is righteous and inevitable.
I think, like the democrats, the mullahs believed Iraq would fail. Success in Iraq is accelerating their timetable. They took the seals off to demonstrate to the muslim world that they will manufacture nukes.
I thought the Stratfor article was much scarier than Tom's or Joe's.
It demonstrates more capacity for planning.
I think they will play us for more time, and continue with their research program.
remember, we only know of the seals they admit to breaking.
There may be mirror facilities where research has never stopped. Our HUMINT is imperfect in Iran.
Again, it is not just theater, it is planning and manipulation towards a long term goal. Much scarier.

via Dr. Yes, this excellent analysis.
This would support Stratfor's and my arguments.
The statements of Ahmadinejad are for consumption by dar al-Islam , not dar al-Harb.

This is not going to end well. All I can see is hundreds of millions dead and basically 5/6 of humanity finally destroying the 1/6 of humanity that bows down towards Mecca 5 times a day just to save itself from an religion/ideology that is all consuming such as Islam. This will happen the moment a "family atomics" goes off in Israel or USA or Europe or Mecca or Baghdad.

The pieces are on the board....

The battlefield is set and the clock is ticking....

Nothing will stop it now.....

#90 from darwi odrade says:

The statements of Ahmadinejad are for consumption by dar al-Islam , not dar al-Harb.

A lot of people had similar opinions about a certain Austrian corporal.

You might be right. What is the cost of being wrong?

Joe,

re:your "got solar?" comment.

Our problem is not the electrical grid. It is transportation fuel.

If it was electrical a crash program (wich I do not advocate) to install wind could do the job in less than a decade. Throw in some solar and storage and the problem is licked. Hell, a few nukes for transitional supplies would do fine. However, electricity is not the problem (coal is still abundant in America).

There is no obvious path for transportation that can be implimented in a decade. Two or three decades maybe. Seven or eight for sure.

I said it about a week ago in Rantburg and will say it again here.

If the Iranian leadership is not totally mad..
then..

They will not test a weapon until they have about 20 sitting on rocket pads waiting to launch.

Why? Because, after a test and before a weaponized inventory is their most dangerous time.

So... Test.
If it works .. instantly attack Israel, US forces and others.

In a strange way its their best card in the deck.

Something else to lose sleep over.

M. Simon
i am not wrong. Tom and Trent believe that Iran's actions imply that they have achieved enough nukes to back an opening gambit against Israel. I argue that that is not their goal, and incorrect to boot.
They wish to consolidate the ME under the caliphate, and to do that, they need as many nukes as the US and Israel combined. They need to manufacture nukes.

Allah weighs in on the Iranian people and nuclear technology.
The problem is that the mullahs do not oppresss the people ENOUGH to cause fervent wish for change.

darwi:

You're absolutely right. The Iranian regime is not going to risk destroying the Al-Aqsa mosque or the Dome of the Rock (where Mohammad ascended to heaven) in Jeuresalem (21 miles from Tel-Aviv), their holiest city after Mecca. The long term goal of IRI is to become a vanguard of militant Islam in the region under one Islamic nation. Amir Taheri's (Iranian journalist) "Iran's agenda for the world", and The Europeans are not ready to acknowledge that the problem is not about uranium enrichment but about the nature of the present Iranian regime. More than 20 countries, from Argentina to Japan, and passing by Germany and Ukraine, enrich uranium without anyone making a fuss. The Iranian case is causing concern because few are prepared to trust the present leadership in Teheran not to embark upon some tragic mischief in the name of its Khomeinist ideology" are MUST READS.

And yes, you're right about the fact that For Iran The Nuclear Issue Is A Point Of National Pride. But it doesn't have anything to do with how religous they are or their loyalty or support for the mullahs. However, I don't agree with you that they don't oppress their citizen enough. Quite the contrary, it's because they have been oppressed so much that they have developed a higher oppression threshold.

The problem is this. Iran is run by Islamic fundamentalist extremists. The President of Iran has excited much interest by declaring the Holocaust to be a myth He is not big-noting himself. He is accurately reflecting the views of those who run the country. He is trying to create a Holocust-free world by exploiting peoples racist and anti-semitic tendencis. However, The country with most to lose from a nuclear Iran is Israel, whose undeclared arsenal has for the past 40 years or so given it a monopoly on Armageddon in the Middle East. In 2001, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran's supposed moderates, mused that a single nuclear weapon could obliterate Israel, whereas Israel could “only damage” the world of Islam. Even so, a nuclear-armed Iran would indeed have to be irrational to strike Israel with such weapons. Barring tragic miscalculation, the main threat a nuclear-armed Iran would pose is not the direct use of those weapons but two second-order dangers. One is that an Iran with a nuclear deterrent might feel emboldened to pursue a more adventurous foreign policy. The other danger, related to the first, is that if Iran were to go nuclear many other countries in this uniquely combustible region—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey, to name just four—will be sorely tempted to follow.

Iran finances and intimately works with a multitude of terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and globally. A nuclear Iran could quickly be a nuclear Hezbollah and a nuclear Hamas. The doctrine of containment assumes that the leadership of the country to be contained has an interest in their personal survival, not a glorification of death, including suicide, and puts national preservation before ideology or religion. None of this applies to Iran.

All in all, a terrifying mess.

This is no surprise.

Washington Times
January 23, 2006
Pg. 12

Al-Sadr Says Militia Will Support Iran

IRAN -- Firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has assured Iran that his Shi'ite Muslim militiamen will support Tehran if it comes under attack, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Although the United States and Israel have said they prefer diplomacy as a means to solve a dispute over Iran's atomic program, they have not ruled out military options.

"If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, should come under attack, then the Mahdi Army will support them," Sheik al-Sadr said on a visit to Tehran. His Mahdi Army militia rose up against U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004.

Joe, thanks very much for the link and nice compliment. I very much appreciate your analysis, even if it scares the crap out of me!

Keep your eyes fixed on the target, we can't afford to lose focus now.

Re #87

NCRI is not wanted in Iran! And they should always stay on the terrorist list and remain under watch.

MEK/NCRI is a marxist-islamist personality cult which hides behind a democratic face while in fact is a big abuser of its own members and has a very dark history.

LINK on MEK

Re: #95 darwi odrade,

Enough nukes to match Israel and America combined?

That would be around 3,000 to 5,000.

Unlikely. Such estimates of Iranian abilities let alone intent call the rest of your analysis into question.

===========================

Say for the sake of argument you are correct. What happens when domestic concerns cause them to start lobbing bombs? Remember they have already promised their supporters they will.

Both you and they have painted yourselves into a corner.

oh, M. Simon, we have not.
the mullahs want the capacity to manufacture unlimited nuclear weapons. sho, they cannot match us at first....think proliferation.
A.Q. Khan seeded nuke tech to several nations, and Ahmadinejad plans to seed all Islam if he is allowed to proceed.
i made a comment on joe's terrorist thread you should look at.
I think nuke-tech is the Iranian version of Wovoka's steam locomotive full of winchesters.
The mullahs are not insane, they have plans and long term goals. but they may be susceptable to the ghost dance cultural mindset.

I don't Want to see any country go to war especially the USA.

At what point, (and I am talking to the people who are against regime change or invading and bombing iran), Will you agree, something Military has to be done??

I Understand That we should try every option first. Look at every aspect and work with other countries to resolve the Iran conflict about nukes.

I want you to refer back to my 2 statement and at least try to answer it With reasonable thinking.

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php#c200

http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007981.php#c201

Nobody Likes war, no one person except for terrorists would prefer war over piece.

Iran Will destroy Israel, and , It would have no hesitation selling enriched uranium
to terroists.

Terrorists!!, Who would love nothing more but to see the U.S.A. Fall from grace.

I just get the feeling that there is really no reason to ever justify war unless something like 9/11 happens again.

And what was their,(terrorists), Reason then for 9/11??!!

No matter what we do or how much we try to apease them they will always have an excuse to destroy the infadells.

In short they don't want us to exist.

What would you want or better yet how would you protect fellow Americans from the terroists.

You Critisise our President for the F.I.S.A., wire tapping.

I mean any Reasonable and rational thinking person would say we need to know what is going
between U.S.A. and Terrorists countries.
He has kept congress and the Intelligence commity informed. What do you people want!

I know Your arguement is going to be our freedom.
Well!, If the terrorists get their way well KISS YOUR FREEDOM GOOD BYE.

what are you talking about Mel?!What members?:0
The ones who say they were torture in Ashraf city and yet go to Iran with the Iran's members of inteligent services and are sent to Eu countries?! The same ones who are spying on the Iranian dissident in EU,US&...?!
NCRI is the only organization who can get rid of the mullahs in Iran.
You can say all you want but the reality is that eventhough the NCRI is in the terrorist list, they hold demonstrations,confrences&... this shows how meaningless the list really is.I asure you their name will come out of the list soon. The world has seen who the real terrorists are and it's the mullah's regime in Iran and their supporters.
Long live freedom :):):):)

#103,

All the more reason for America to do the job.

I no more want godless communists controlling Iran than I want the mullahs. Odds ae the Iranian people feel the same.

Communists can do nothing about the shambles the economy is in.

With Iraq There were some questions about if we should have a regime change.

With Iran there is little doubt what their intensions are. We know for A fact that they want Nuclear power and it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks. Their intensions are to use it as a way to get what they want from the USA and the rest of the Western World.

Then throw Isreal into the mix and it really becomes quite a pickel, caught between a rock and a hard place.

People who say it's not our war, let me remind you of someone called hitler and you know what happened because we waited to long to do something. It became a very costly mistake and I am talking about the loss of life.

Longer we wait, and I am talking about months and years, the body count will jump exponentialy along with what is at stake as well.

You'll go from the prospects of iran wanting nuclear power to having it and possibly using it on our troops and isreal or selling it to terroists.

We are not dealing with rational people here.

there is a reason why no one has used nuclear weapons in actual combat and it is what they will do to the environmnet.

You take into account the way they think and you really have to doubt wheather or not they will show the same restraint.

The way they see it is, if alla allows it then it was his will.

I don't know about anyone else, but that is a scary scenareo.

#67

the linked article is sourced to an Iranian opposition group. With all due respect for such people, who I hope will soon be ruling Iran, I can't accept their statements on the Iranian nuclear program as "gospel".

ok then what would be the casualties when iran gets nuclear capabilities and some loon decides to use it then what!?

Let me guess???

bush blew it and should have done something.

you think iran has leverage now conserning oil and US intrest. wait till they get nuclear power.

know this quote

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it"

Joe proposes to bomb Iran back into the Stone Age. Not just once, but indefinitely. So millions of starving unhappy Iranian refugees will flee into Iraq.

Joe, please tell us how this will make things better.

Why not just nuke them into oblivion? Why leave them alive and mighty unhappy with us? Or do you propose to have Americans machine-gun them all on the border, because the Iraqis sure won't.

There is a science-fiction term for such thinking, from the Pournelle & Niven novel, A Mote in God's Eye: Crazy Eddie. You've gone Crazy Eddie on us.

Oh, Tom Holzinger, there is a lot you don't understand about the crazy eddie legend of the moties. Crazy Eddie always tries to do what is right , against impossible odds. Crazy Eddie is gallant. Crazy Eddie is quioxtic.
The moties admire and honor Crazy Eddie in their mythos.

And Joe has been crazy eddie as long as i've known him. He tries to work for the Good against impossible odds.

Crazy eddie is a compliment.

Joe: Very intriguing post covering a lot of avenues for discussion, but I'd like to comment on a few.

1. The question of Will.

America has always had the Will to act (when absolutely necessary), however we don't usually act in a timely manner (WWII case in point). Unfortunately, the real tragedy in this mess is the lack of creative thinking in the Executive Branch on how to solve it. If the adminstration actually had a plan, I don't expect they would hesitate to use it, so the fact that they are glomming onto the EU approach indicates their intellectual deficiency. Of course the current atmosphere of intellectual dishonesty evoked by both Reps and Dems certainly isn't helping (minus the rare few Congressional leaders who know history and its warnings).

2. ME nuclear arms race.

Definitely unacceptable in its current state, and if it means destroying tens to hundreds of thousands of people to make this point, it may come to that. Depending on how cumbersome or creative we are in the process of making said point. Even though this I agree completely this is not about us, unfortunately we might have to settle it once and for all.

3. IslamoFascism.

What America needs to do is separate the Fascism from Islam. This will probably require applied force and devious political tactics, just as it took the same to separate Roman Christain Fascism from Christianity centuries ago. If Bush or anyone thinks we can do this by slipping payments to reporters and promoting moderate Clerics they must have skipped European history class. As Napolean did, sometimes you have to take the head of the Church hostage to thwart a religion's power and knock its leaders into different perspectives on their authority. Study the history of Roman Churchs political power in depth and the parallels are there. Again, more proof the true problem is within Islam itself as you stated, the corollary problem is that this isn't 1300 AD where power plays are made using swords. Let's just be glad Christians got that mess out of the way before nukes were invented.

4. Pre-Revolution/Revolution in Iran.

I agree, not going to happen. Whoever thinks this an indigenous revolution is about to take place is obivously smoking Mexican Ice. They miss the fact that as military capabilities and hardware have ramped up over the decades, revolution is increasingly unlikely anywhere in the globe so long as a regime has a committed force. Iran has this in their Rev. Guards and boot-stomping brigades. The Northen Alliance didn't stand a prayer against Taliban without our support and Iran doesn't have anyone close to even the NAs capabilities. This route is a dead end, and we shouldn't bother going there unless we're going all in.

5. Israel solving the Iran problem their way.

Also agree, not going to happen. This would be politically worse for centuries (Israel, ME, us) than us taking out the whole country, Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels. That's before you even consider their lack of capabilities in that regard. Our best interest is to stay Israel's hand until we can figure out a solution. If Israel does act before we think of something, we might as well pack it in and go home. Since an Israeli attack would almost certainly justify a unconventional reponse, your probably looking at nuclear reprisals from Israel. A good article on a Democrat stategy game referenced by Tom explores this and correctly, IMHO, deduces that Israel doesn't really want to act, they want to force us to act.

6. Preparedness of our Forces.

That's true that it limits our options. But, it just means we have to think a bit harder. If people want to dwell on this, just look at the guys at the top. They put us in that position. But, there's really no point in crying over spilled milk. Besides, it's not necessaily brute force, clumsily applied (hello, Iraq) that wins these thing. As physics teaches us, it all about where and how we apply the force.

7. What Will W. Do (WWWD)?

Ah, here's the joker in the deck. We don't know exactly what we are dealing with, but suffice it to say I think he amounted to about a 4 of diamonds on the last draw in Iraq. Let's hope next time we get an Ace of Spades (not that I would put money on it). Given Bush's lack of history planning for the future (Iraq, energy, healthcare) I'm not naive enough to bet on that horse.

8. Attacking the Mullahs, Joe's choice

Here's a bright idea. Or should I say not bright once the power goes out. If the can't hit the program, hit the support infrastucture. Then you've oestensibly bought all the time in the world to strike at the program components. I agree, no major player is going to go to war over this. I don't know whether I agree the lesson is utimately for the Europeans, Chinese, and Russians. The Europeans are still scarred from their messes finally getting straightened out (who can blame them). The Chinese don't really have the foreign experience to call it like it is, and the Russians are still not recovering from Communism (whether we could help them better notwithstanding). As a result, we shouldn't necessarily see that as anything, but a remote side lesson. The primary lesson is to be learned by IslamoFacism and its tacit and complicit supporters.

9. Attacking the Mullahs, Tom's choice

Tom takes a rather rosy view of the invasion outcome I think. It's true that Iran can't match us force to force. But, given the Iraq experience, most people make the mistake of thinking Iran won't pull the trigger first if they think invasion is imminent. The targets from which they'd have to choose is nice and thick. Israel, Our forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. This means any attack would have to happen with very little warning, and very little. The Democrats strategy game discussion covered the fact that while we might have forces in the region, we do not have the equipment in theater to equip a serious invasion. Worse, we can't really move the equipment in theater without tipping our hand. As far as nation-building, if we've learned we fairly stink at it, or at least translating our big ideals to real live implementations.

10. Hmmm, what to do...

From a political perspective, delay, delay, delay... if we can stretch this drama out until 08 without serious consequences, McCain can potentially take office, and then we might have a better shot at taking the necessary steps. If by chance Iran's willing to draw their sword way before then, what W. does is anybody's guess. He's turned very well into The Spider King and if we are going to accept a king, the sooner a warrior-king rises, the better it'll be for all.

From a military perspective, we've already "shot our load" so to speak in Iraq. Had we rethought this whole little adventure from the beginning we might be looking at a much rosier picture. One interesting strategy would have been feign the Iraq invasion only to turn just over the border and head straight into Iran to Tehran, cathing them completely by surprise. This could have bought us a new regime in Iran and showed Saddam that we were'nt "playing" anymore. Of course, we had Saddam in our pocket before, we could have put him back in it again. But that's here nor there, and I don't expect much creative strategy like that from this ruling group (even the military given their emphasis on overwhelming their enemy). The key is to turn our enemy's efforts against himself is a style reminiscent to martial arts. Attacking the infrastucture, the implied threat being centuries of technological advancement wiped gone in mere weeks is a big chip in the game. Of course, to prove your willing to do it, you've got to start somewhere. Iran's obiviously thinks they sit in an advantageous spot given our poor strategy in Iraq, but that doesn't mean we have to keep playing the same game. The key to being the chip leader is that you can force the action in your favor, but you have to be smart about it. The problem is, when we trade away our smarts for everything else (money, fame, causes, ideologies), what are we but a neighborhood bully just waiting for the wily foe to outwit us.

Scott

Spengler has a different view. Iran is running out of oil.

His final word? The baloon is rising. The mullahs are dead men walking.

BTW I like what #110 Scott has to say. He says we are not ready. Not enough equipment in the field. I hope the Iranians heard that. I hope it makes them complacent.

darwi odrade,

I guess based on my #111 I'd have to say we are in some measure of agreement.

OTOH Debka says that Ambasador Bolton at a conference in Israel emphasized the Iran atomic threat to Israel.

Re#103

Hired Hecklers

Great Article on MEK

Michael Rubin on MEK terrorists

NCRI is and will remain a terror group.

Regards

RE: #110 above [Scott] point 10-

With all due respect, delay does nothing to improve our position, and allows the enemy to make any strike subject to immediate nuclear retaliation. Further, we do have a deadline approaching that I have not seen other comments on. The Russians have signed an agreement to furnish Iran with military equipment [ advanced SAM's and radars, etc.] to defend just those specific nuclear sites we would be targeting. They, and their equipment, will be arriving in early April according to the contracts. I do not think that it will be Iranians who have the technical expertise to operate these defenses. Indeed, having heard stories from a family member who tried to instruct Iranian Air Force enlisted personnel under the Shah, I rather doubt that after a couple of decades of twisting their educational system away from the West; that they will have a pool of military talent trainable to that level for several years. That implies that it will be Russians defending the Iranian nuclear sites; with the concommitant risk of involving Russia directly in any attempts to defang Iran.

It is not a matter of coincidence that after that contract was signed, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon directed ZAHAL [the Israeli Defense Forces] to prepare an attack plan to take out Iran's nukes no later than the end of March. The Chief of Staff of ZAHAL has made public statements to the effect that they are ready. IF Iran is going to be pre-emptively struck in any fashion, it is likely to be before the Russians take up residence. tick, tick, tick.

Imagine the complications if Russian military personnel are killed by either Israel or the US in any disarming attack on Iran. Given both the return to a dictatorial government inside Russia, and their return to a hostile foreign policy outside Russia, we could be involved in another stand off a'la Cuba. Not what one would call a "good thing" given our limited resources and the new families of ICBM's that they are deploying.

With further due respect ...... placing one's hopes on the possibility that if we delay long enough, John McCain will be president and fix things? That deserves an entirely different thread that would be much longer.

Whatever we do and however we do it there is one thing that matters. Leaving the earth
habitable afterwards. So if in all of the above posts I had to pick one that I think would work
it would be a grand alliance of Europe, Russia, China and the United States simultaneously carving up the middle east conventionally.

Now all we need is a magic wand for that to happen.

Lacking the grand alliance the second approach would be to do what I affectionately call the "Brooks 100 Megaton solution".

Simultaneously 100 Megaton tamperproof boxcar size bombs float down over all mideastern capitals, flashing lights, spouting greetings in the national dialects, hunter orange happy faces
painted on the sides etc. Anyways you get the picture. There they are just sitting there kind of like in the old sci-fi story...The bomb in the bathtub. Simultaneously greetings are sent to all nations who recieve this gift, along with instructions of not to tamper with them or they go off. The beauty of this plan is that now we have their undivided attention.

Unlike the terrorists who want to place a bomb in our territory and blow it up..we get to keep the moral high ground by putting a bomb in their territory, and not wanting to blow it up. Unless of course they tamper with it or do not listen carefully when told what to do next. We can first make simple demands, like
hummis for everyone in the U.S. for 25 years free of charge. We will tip them for delivery though to be fair. Then we can get to the serious demands like disband your military, reduce oil prices so its fair for everyone..whatever we want. For those of you who are anal out there, I know you will begin to question how to get the bombs there, bypass air defense etc. etc. just go with me for a moment will ya?

What could be better? In a few microseconds
if we wanted to we could put enough deuterium and tritium on target to make a greeting carpet of beautiful green glass for the Mahdi to return to. Or we could make reasonable demands and not shed a single drop of blood. It is kind of fun thinking about the Mullahs standing around the bomb having to play ..Simon Says.. or we detonate (the bombs would have cameras etc. of course to check for compliance).

Okay, although impractical it is an alternate solution though. What do you think?

All this talk about invading Iran is nothing more than an arm-chair general exercise. The reality is that the American public will NOT even consider the THOUGHT of such an invasion especially without the successful progress of the autonomy of Iraq and its respective military forces. This is not expected to happen in the near or immediate future. That's a hard cold fact of life. PERIOD Furthermore, congress will be very hesitant to authorize military force for such an invasion in an expedient fashion. To add more reality to this fantasy, the American public will REVOLT at such a notion of invasion if a natural disaster occurs, or the economy tanks in the US. If we were to invade Iran, we would be expect to rebuild it and we will have to pay for it in two ways: In budget deficits and in sky-rocketing gas prices. It is common knowledge that the public does not have the appetite for this. Oh I am afraid the cries of the neocons fall upon death ears. The hour grows late as their pitiful case sees its twilight.

We should stop the excalation of war in the middle east. Why should we do this? Because of the possibility of humongous human losses that in the end result and final analysis will do nothing except pad pockets of the war industry. My prediction, if we go into Iran after the fall of Pakistan is a general draft in the United States, tens of thousands of losses and perhaps millions of losses of innocent citizens, men, women and children that dont know anything about war and are trying to secure their own small lives...now what can we have to say about war escalation? A Global war? I predict that the wars of the 20th century will seem small in comparison to this next one...if started in late 2007, it will be the escalation upon escalation and a tragedy to the entire world of human beings and will propel this tragedy to the economic systems, leaving great nations in ruin. We should stop this tragedy before it propels itself to Global Circumstance and heal the wounds with real diplomatic means to produce long standing strong and not artificial democracies.

Leave a comment

Here are some quick tips for adding simple Textile formatting to your comments, though you can also use proper HTML tags:

*This* puts text in bold.

_This_ puts text in italics.

bq. This "bq." at the beginning of a paragraph, flush with the left hand side and with a space after it, is the code to indent one paragraph of text as a block quote.

To add a live URL, "Text to display":http://windsofchange.net/ (no spaces between) will show up as Text to display. Always use this for links - otherwise you will screw up the columns on our main blog page.




Recent Comments
  • TM Lutas: Jobs' formula was simple enough. Passionately care about your users, read more
  • sabinesgreenp.myopenid.com: Just seeing the green community in action makes me confident read more
  • Glen Wishard: Jobs was on the losing end of competition many times, read more
  • Chris M: Thanks for the great post, Joe ... linked it on read more
  • Joe Katzman: Collect them all! Though the French would be upset about read more
  • Glen Wishard: Now all the Saudis need is a division's worth of read more
  • mark buehner: Its one thing to accept the Iranians as an ally read more
  • J Aguilar: Saudis were around here (Spain) a year ago trying the read more
  • Fred: Good point, brutality didn't work terribly well for the Russians read more
  • mark buehner: Certainly plausible but there are plenty of examples of that read more
  • Fred: They have no need to project power but have the read more
  • mark buehner: Good stuff here. The only caveat is that a nuclear read more
  • Ian C.: OK... Here's the problem. Perceived relevance. When it was 'Weapons read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Chris, If there were some way to do all these read more
  • Chris M: Marcus Vitruvius, I'm surprised by your comments. You're quite right, read more
The Winds Crew
Town Founder: Left-Hand Man: Other Winds Marshals
  • 'AMac', aka. Marshal Festus (AMac@...)
  • Robin "Straight Shooter" Burk
  • 'Cicero', aka. The Quiet Man (cicero@...)
  • David Blue (david.blue@...)
  • 'Lewy14', aka. Marshal Leroy (lewy14@...)
  • 'Nortius Maximus', aka. Big Tuna (nortius.maximus@...)
Other Regulars Semi-Active: Posting Affiliates Emeritus:
Winds Blogroll
Author Archives
Categories
Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en