What To Do About Iran, Indeed.

Greg D. over at Belgravia Dispatch has a long post on ‘What To Do About Iran?’ In it, he lays out a solid case for negotiation.

Go on over and read it (and admire the picture of the happy Greg and Mrs. D dancing).

Back?

So what do I think about it? I think that he’s 1/3 right. I think that the path of negotiation he lays out is something we ought to be doing, and it should be front-and-center in the attention of everyone, because if it works, it’ll be the least-bad outcome in an array of bad outcomes. And God knows, it could work.

So what’s the other 2/3, you ask?Well, we need to be in a better position to militarily remove their capability to build nuclear weapons than we are today. That involves a bunch of things; human intelligence from within Iran, technical means intelligence, more planes and ships close by, more men and women who are combat-ready and available. All of those things take time – which we’ve pissed away over the last two years as this crisis has developed.

We should probably have a ‘snap’ plan ready to execute, in the event we get strong intelligence they are preparing a test or to export a weapon to test or use.

We should take the position that any smuggled nuclear weapon used against Israel, Western Europe, or the United States will be presumed to have come from Iran and North Korea, and that we will react appropriately – and massively.

Note that all of these things ought to help the Iranian leadership feel like they also have something to lose if the negotiations go badly.

So that’s two of three.

What’s next?

We keep doing what we’re doing, We keep destroying Al Quieda, keep supporting the nascent political institutions in Iraq, keep pressuring Syria, keep supporting Jordan, and make it clear that if this is going to be a long, slow conflict, we’re prepared to be patient as well.

That goes against the impulses of those who don’t see us as having anything at stake, and who see our foreign policy through the beer goggles of electoral advantage and desire. Too bad for them. And too bad for us all if they manage to win an election.

99 thoughts on “What To Do About Iran, Indeed.”

  1. A.L.,

    The problem for us is not Iran with nukes, but that Iran with nukes will lead to many other countries having them too. Iran with nukes is mortal threat to Israel, but IMO the chances of any Iranian nukes being used on us before the mullahs lose power, including Iranian nukes obtained by terrorists with or with the consent of some mullah faction or other, are slim.

    I rate the possibility of Iranian nukes being used on us as being much higher during, or more likely after, the period when the mullahs lose power.

    I believe it almost certain that somebody’s nukes will be used on us at home as a consequence of the rampant nuclear proliferation following the mullahs’ announcement that they have nukes. Once they say they have nukes, we will have a very limited time window to conquer Iran before that proliferation becomes irrevocable even if we do conquer Iran eventually.

    Diplomacy means nothing now. IMO you are deluding yourself, and continuing to demonstrate how Democrats and liberals will only get us killed.

    You guys simply won’t use force until it is too late to preserve our freedom from the really draconian security measures necessary for protection from smuggled nukes from somewhere.

  2. And Tom, do you really think that having dented Iran’s capability with a half-assed strike (about all we can do today without going nuclear) that everyone else is going to lie down and promise ot be good? As opposed to thinking “Wow, Pakistan and North Korea have a bomb and Uncle Sam can’t touch them…”

    The whole point of the need to build coalitions and strengthen our capabilities is to be able to do something more meaningful – and to talk while we’re doing that isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of sanity.

    A.L.

  3. I agree with Tom on the futility of negotiating. Clinton tried it, Bush tried it, the Euros tried it, nothing has worked?

    Why?

    Because Iran wants their nukes. To nuke Israel (they’ve said it over and over and over again) and the US. The Dawa / Call to Islam that Ahmadinejad sent to Bush was the last step before Iran nukes us.

    Of COURSE Iran will nuke us (and here I disagree with Tom). It’s the central part of their strategy. They want the US Navy out of the Gulf, and the only way to do that is nuke the US (cities can’t move around like naval vessels) to force us out.

    This was essentially the same strategy Yamamoto pursued, based on the same reading of the US.

    We will get Dems waving a piece of paper and declaring “peace in our time” and then, a nuke going off in NYC and DC, or perhaps LA. Iran making their demands (withdrawal of the US Navy, etc). Iranian leaders believe that a first strike against the US with lots of loss of life will cause the US to surrender.

  4. A.L.,

    $100 says we”ll conquer Iran before election day 2008 – Joe to hold the stakes. I say nothing about whether that will be in time to prevent rampant nuclear proliferation.

    I agree with you about the half-assed strike – my next WOC article will be titled, “How the Bush Administration Will Screw Up on Iran”, subtitled, “President Bush is a Manager, Not a Leader”, But our military action won’t stop there. We’ll back into invasion.

    North Korea is not the problem. China is.

  5. First we don’t need to conquer Iran…they import 40% of the gasoline supplies and have 9 refineries which can readily be destroyed. Blow up the pump stations on pipelines, if any, and shoot anything that looks like a high volume fuel carrier on the roads. [After all that’s why we took Iraq isn’t it? To have convenient basing against Iran?]

    A few days of interdiction and the country is horsedrawn, and really pissed off with us, but relatively harmless. The 70% of the population that doesn’t like the mullahs can then fish or cut bait as far as getting rid of them.

    I imagine Iran’s electricity supply system is equally fragile and can be announced as step two if problems persist.

    Previous articles indicate that the Iranians want a ‘magic solution’ in the form of “can’t the Americans come in and depose the mullahs and then leave over night?” No we can’t, but we can provide real motivation to get rid of them…

  6. A.L.,

    Tell me more about Soldier’s Angels. And I’d like to amend the bet a bit to head off disagreements about “conquer”. Change that to invasion, defined as the first American grouond force unit with an embedded reporter (i.e., Special Forces don’t count) crossing the border into Iran without the permission of the Iranian government before election day 2008. As a practical matter, there will be material winter weather problems in the Zagros Mountains if the invasion does not start until November, so IMO any invasion will start no later than middle or late October.

    Once we invade, we will conquer, but the invasion might kick off in early October with Teheran not being occupied by American forces until six to eight weeks later.

  7. What To Do About Iran?

    [Snip 812 words of snark.]

    Quotes report: Despite…widespread alienation from the prevailing political order, Iran does not appear to be in a prerevolutionary situation. Iranians are protesting the political system by witholding their participation from any form of organized politics, including involvement with the opposition. People are frustrated with the Islamic Republic, but they have also demonstrated that they are not prepared to take that frustration to the streets. This disengagement from politics is a direct product of Iran’s recent history. Having endured the dissapointment of their last democratic experiment gone awry, Iranians are weary of political turmoil and skeptical that they can positively change their political circumstances through mass mobilization.

    That looks like the cold truth.

    And, unfortunately, the same report goes on to report: “no organization or potential leader has emerged with the apparent discipline or stamina to sustain a major confrontation with the government’s conservative forces.”

    So does that.

    [Snip another 213 words of snark.]

    [John F. Kerry style paragraph: First (non-Kerry style) asks self: “You condescend. You wail. You bitch. What would you do about Iran?” And then in Kerry style substitutes more negativity and “I am smart” posing for answering the question, ending with: “In short, I’d get real.”

    Jeez.

    “Getting real means talking with the Iranians.”

    No, it doesn’t. The opposite.

    In negotiations, the Iranians are not even “real” to the extent of respecting U.S. diplomats, property and territory. They have contempt for every convention that would make negotiation with them “real”. They openly gloat about lying to their negotiation partners while going ahead with their intentions. They have already called our bluffs many times, and they are proceeding on the observation that they have done so with success, and apparently on the assumption that Allah has softened our spines. They treat us as people who can be bluffed, bullied and BSd, and it’s decades too late to convince them that that’s not so.

    The Iranians also have their own diplomatic style, of which the 18 page letter was an example. It corresponds to their continued intention to carry out actions called for by their religious ideology, as defined by the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in spite of all resistance.

    “Diplomacy” that ignores this, negotiations in the absence of a real negotiating partner and confidence-building concessions in return for the Iranian routine of bluster, lies, walkouts and so on is (I’m sorry, I can’t think of a decent paraphrase for Dr. Martin Indyk’s phrase) “diplomatic masturbation.” It may make you feel good, or relieve tensions you may have about the lack of a real diplomatic relationship, but you’re doing it alone.

    To prepare for such discussions, we need to approach the Euro-3. We need to say, listen: we’ll open up a U.S.-Iranian bilateral track, in tandem with the multilateral one, but if it fails, you (yes even Dominique de Villepin’s government and such camembert-munching appeasers) have to promise you’ll vote for sanctions if we fail in extracting concessions from the Iranians after pursuing a good faith dialogue with them.

    To say you’ll “get real” and then say this is ridiculous.

    [Snarky fantasies of successful negotiations with a non-partner follow at pointless length.]

    Is it possible to imagine the Iranians doing this that we want, and this, and this, and this, asks Gregory? Yes, he says.

    Imaginary lovers Never turn you down If all the others turn you away They’re around

    It’s my private pleasure With my fantasy Someone to share my wildest dreams With me

    Imaginary lover, You’re mine, anytime, Imaginary lover, Ooh yeah

    When ordinary lovers Don’t feel what you feel And real-life situations Lose their thrill

    Imagination’s unreal Imaginary lover Imaginary lover, You’re mine, anytime

    (Instrumental)

    Imaginary lovers Never disagree They always care, they’re always there When you need

    Satisfaction guaranteed Imaginary lover Imaginary lover, You’re mine, all the time My imaginary lover, You’re mine, all the time

    – Imaginary Lover lyrics:
    atlanta.rhythm.section/imaginary.lover

    For the rest of George W. Bush’s presidency, it doesn’t matter very much what we need to do, it only matters what we can do, because George W. Bush is a lame duck, and that he could only get two (2) Senate votes on the ports deal shows what that means. The maximum that he can do is press on firmly in Iraq for two more years, and this I’m sure he will do.

    The next U.S. president has to believe that American military action, up to and including regime change, is a lesser evil than the worst that Iran is likely to do with a nuclear weapons production line. To me this means John McCain, but insert your preferred American president of choice.

    If the crisis strikes before then, while we are paralysed with a legislature that doesn’t support the president and an electorate that has little confidence in either the legislature or the president, we’re out of luck. The bad guys will have the initiative, and what might happen will have more to do with them than us. (The immense costs that that might have should make us think that any forces – including “fighting keyboardists” – trying to end or reduce that political paralysis are good news touching on the critical point.)

    Is there anything else to be done but trying to get the right man elected, preferably with a legislature that would support him, and hoping we have time? Yes. Anything that puts the next president in a strong position to act quickly, either militarily or if events should take some happy unforseeable turn diplomatically is good.

    Armed Liberal: “We should probably have a ‘snap’ plan ready to execute, in the event we get strong intelligence they are preparing a test or to export a weapon to test or use.”

    I don’t understand this “probably” but apart from that I fully agree. All actions that build up and enable such a ‘snap” plan are good, and this is apart from preparing to invade Iran as a game-ending planned move.

    By the way, I should say this clearly: things have gone so far that I am for regime change in Iran no matter what the Iranian government says. So even though the Iranians did not set forth for nuclear jihad because of a hostile American policy (on the contrary, they were exploiting our false diplomacy of defining our Muslim enemies as our actual or potential friends and allies and treating them as such), to extent that the policies I favour are preferred, they are faced with a real regime-ending threat now. It doesn’t matter to them because they’re committed to jihad anyway, but if it did it would be rational (in my terms) for them to defend themselves. Given the course that they can’t be deflected from, we need them gone. Given that we need them gone, they need our ability to act destroyed. Barring some great and unexpected good fortune, I see no way out of this clash.

  8. I like AL’s extra little addition, because it’s the one thing that the US can do to discourage Iran from getting a nuclear weapon immediately. “Want to be a nuclear power? ‘kay, but if a nuke goes off ANYWHERE and we don’t know where it came from, we’re assuming it came from all of you and hitting -all of you-. If you don’t want to be on that list, we’ll introduce you to some nice inspectors…”

  9. I’ll hold the bet (#4) – and endorse every word David Blue offers (#8) as he deconstructs [as in tears apart] Greg’s masturbation/posturing post.

    I expect Tom to lose his bet, by the way… for precisely the reasons hinted at in Tom’s next article titles. W. has a long history by now of doing what needs to be done, then drawing back, with results that spell major hardship and even disaster later. I expect him to be true to form.

  10. That goes against the impulses of those who don’t see us as having anything at stake, and who see our foreign policy through the beer goggles of electoral advantage and desire. Too bad for them. And too bad for us all if they manage to win an election.

    Ah, this is phrased in a way that might lead people to think you believe that such people have not already won a series of elections. Be careful how you write so people don’t misread and think you’re the sort of idiot who believes Bush ocasionally does things for reasons other than electoral advantage or desire.

  11. Occasional Winds commenter Robert McDougall has weighed in on A.L.’s “May 12 post ‘Well it looks like that’s getting cleared up'”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/008605.php with his thoughts (#5, 20, 23, 26). He’s a sharp debater who sees the problem as the U.S.’s limitless appetite for hegemony, and our consequent squandering of opportunities to have arrived at a negotiated settlement with the Mullahs (my words, not his).

    I remarked on that thread that his view is probably close to the consensus of elite European, Canadian, and Third World opinion.

    Robert will probably find me to be an unsatisfying sparring partner this week (I have off-line commitments). Perhaps he will offer his perspective on this thread.

  12. The bigger fear I have of an Iran interdiction is the resulting issues with China and Russia, both of whom have put considerable stakes into Iranian oil production. China has pumped in close to 100 billion into Iran, does anyone think that they are going to be all that happy if we start hitting their funded assets there?

    China currently imports close to 17% of their oil directly from Iran and given China’s massive growth in petroleum consumption, at 17% drop in capacity would be devastating to its economy and that ripple would shake the world economy as well, and primarily the US.

    While I believe that it is imperative to knock out the Mullahs control and their ability to manufacture nuclear devices, the result in the short term could be far too difficult for most Americans to swallow. If you think that people are pissed at $3.50 gas, wait till Irans oil comes off the market and the China has to move elsewhere to import.

    At this stage in the game, targeted military strikes at solely military targets are far more prudent than interruption in the Iranian oil production and transport facilities. There is a much larger picture here than many are looking at.

  13. > The whole point of the need to build coalitions

    With whom and to what end?

    We may “need” reliable and capable partners to help with Iran, but that “need” doesn’t make them available.

    So, who is going to be in this coalition and what are they bringing to the table?

    With the exception of the Brits, no one in the UK has significant force projection capabilities, and the UK doesn’t have much.

    Both Russia and China have significant capabilities, but ….

  14. “At this stage in the game, targeted military strikes at solely military targets are far more prudent than interruption in the Iranian oil production and transport facilities. There is a much larger picture here than many are looking at.”

    I think holding oil facilities hostage is the best solution of all. In other words if we end up in a bombing campaign the Mullahs should be warned that any escalation against shipping in the Gulf etc will be met with attacks on their oil infastructure (pipelines etc). This has the advantage of minimizng civilian casualties while striking at the lifeblood of the Iranian regime. The Iranians think we are so adicted to oil we will never risk upsetting the world market. That is our advantage- doing what they believe we will not do.

  15. The Iranians think we are so adicted to oil we will never risk upsetting the world market. That is our advantage- doing what they believe we will not do.

    Uh.

    [picture a couple of addicts talking together in their corner of a run-down slum.]

    Addict 1: You know, I’m pretty sure that one of the dealers is getting a gun. You know the one, Ira. And you know if he gets it he’s gonna use it.

    Addict 2: Woah. Heavy.

    Addict 1: We gotta take him out. He’s dangerous. He’s got a lot of money from all those sales.

    Addict 2: Woah.

    Addict 1: Nobody’s gonna go after us if we take him out. Fer one thing they’ll all be jonesing.

    Addict 2: Woah.

    Addict 1: And — I got it! We take him hostage, and if they do anything they’ll never get a fix from him! Hey, we can do anything we want!

    Addict 2: Woah.

    Addict 1: So what do you think? You in?

    Addict 2: Woah. Risky.

    Addict 1: Sure it’s risky, but look at the risk of letting Ira have a gun! That would be intolerable. So come on, we gotta do it right now.

    Addict 2: Wow, man. What are you on? Can I have some?

  16. An analogy of the US as a fellow crack head with Iran, great. And moral equivalency reaches a new low. Of course if we really were serious we’d just grab Iran’s oil fields and ignore them, but of course that would make too much sense for all the conspiracy minded oil obsessors.

  17. For the “oil junkie” crowd:

    It’s not that WE are addicted to oil. It is that the WORLD is addicted to oil. Oil means crazy people can dig in the ground and out comes money.

    WE can end our oil dependency tomorrow, and we’d still be in the middle east, with the same durn problems we have now. You cannot give religious freaks in Iran billions of dollars a year and expect things to take care of themselves.

  18. bq. I expect Tom to lose his bet, by the way… for precisely the reasons hinted at in Tom’s next article titles. W. has a long history by now of doing what needs to be done, then drawing back, with results that spell major hardship and even disaster later. I expect him to be true to form.

    Joe,

    Bush will invade.

    He will be in front of a “consensus train” of Republican upper level political appointees who don’t want to be treated like Carter’s politcal appointees in the Clinton Administration for doing nothing about a nuclear armed Iran.

    The “consensus train” in turn will be listening to Congressmen and activist Republicans screaming at them for “losing Iran” a’la Nixon’s “losing China.”

    Panic attacks are like that.

  19. I honestly do not think that Bush will invade Iran, I base this primarily upon his spent political capital and the Iraq WMD problem.

    Regardless of the fault with WMD intelligence, I do not see this administration in its current form being capable of rallying the needed support for an Iran invasion.

    Secondly I don’t think the GOP will have the lock on Congress come 06, at least if they continue down the current path of self implosion. The only possible factor I may have overlooked in this regard is the gerrymander factor, which has pretty much created the 98% incumbency lock for most seats. Given the GOP’s track record as of late, Conservatives have little benefit from keeping them in office, and I foresee a large swath sitting 06 out if things dont change in a meaningful and tangible way (I place little faith in this occurring).

    With the Dems either holding the House or Senate, an invasion of Iran is a major non-starter, because the funding won’t be there. The current crop of Dem leadership is beholden to the Kos-Sheehan wing and those are the people they want to appease. National Security will be an afterthought, and the kind of Kerry-Albright diplomacy will be the rule. Look for more Carter-Clinton diplomacy much in the same vein as the DPRK deals were done.

    I’d put odds on an Iranian invasion at 100 to 1.

  20. I think we need to be engaging in serious talks but not with the Iranians. As Gabriel Chapman noted above we need to convince the Chinese and the Russians that the most certain way to preserve their investments and (for the Chinese) to preserve their supply of Iranian oil is regime change. A new, non-nuclear and, hopefully, more liberal Iranian regime will be as happy to do business with them as the present regime is. An Iran with its oil infrastructure destroyed isn’t of much use to them at all.

    I also agree with David Blue’s observation on the fancifulness of considering the current Iranian regime a suitable negotiating partner. These are the same people who considered attacking our embassy and holding our diplomats hostage a perfectly acceptable approach to diplomacy.

  21. Gabriel,

    A Democratic Congress will not get into power until Jan 2007.

    There will be American air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities before October 2006.

    After that, it is all on automatic pilot.

    Dave,

    The use of American force does not require the approval of Russia or China or anyone else. However much they, the UN, and some Democrats want to pretend otherwise.

  22. Trent:

    6 1/2 months remain before your prediction can be proven true or false. The Iranian Mullahs are fully aware of our fractured electorate, and fully aware of the better barganing position they will get under Democratic controlled congress. Ahmininjad may be bonkers, but the Mullahs are not (it is really they who hold the power) and they know full well that a Democrat Congress will roll over or continue the “diplomacy” game and therefor, they won’t allow a provacative action to occur prior to the Nov election. A nuclear test almost gurantees GOP dominance in congress, and the continued harder line in regards to Foreign Policy that comes with it.

    I’m sorry but your case just isn’t very pursasive, and I don’t for an instant underestimate the Mullahs grasp of American politics and the ability of our 5th Column to shape public opinion in their favor.

  23. “Diplomacy means nothing now. IMO you are deluding yourself, and continuing to demonstrate how Democrats and liberals will only get us killed”

    And yet BD is neither a Dem, nor a liberal. And I, who am both, am the only one taking issue with him in his blog. Dave (#8) do you think you could make those same points in more restrained language, to Greg himself?

  24. Don’t look at the invasion issue based on the status quo. Consider it from the perspective of events after the mullahs’ retaliation for our airstrikes. How will the American people react to the following:

    a) More terrorist attacks at home, though none on the WTC attack (this is the big one);

    b) $6+ a gallon gasoline prices due to temporary closure of the Straits of Hormuz;

    c) Small-scale chemical weapons attacks on allied forces in Iraq by Iranian Revolutionary Guards masquerading as Iraqi Shiite militias.;

    d) Small-scale chemical weapons attacks on Israeli cities from Gaza and southern Lebanon, plus really major conventional explosive attacks on Israeli cities with unguided rockets from Lebanon.

    And finally, no one here but me has considered how a publically announced Iranian nuclear weapons test will affect American public opinion. We can’t stop them from testing the nukes they have now – air attack can only hit known manufacturing capabilities, not easily concealed nulcear weapons.

    Air attack alone is futile. I repeat, Iran and North Korea should be considered as sharing a joint nuclear weapons program. North Korea produces the nukes and Iran tests them. NK nukes can be, and IMO have been, flown to Iran over China and Pakistan.

    You people look only at things as they are. I perceive them as they will be.

  25. I left out uprisings by Iranian-controlled Shiite militias in much of Iraq, notably the south and Baghdad.

    Iran is at war with us whether or not we fight back.

  26. Tom:

    While I can appreciate forward thinking and “out of the box” thinking when it comes to possible attacks, Iran playing the Chemical Weapon card will turn the world against them in a heartbeat. Even the Eurotrash in Brussels will look negatively upon that. But the bigger problem of course with your statement is how exactly does the American public/world at large come to understand with certainty that Iran is behind said attacks. Remember our “word” has been tarnished considerably because of Iraq and the claims made about WMD’s. Fool me once…we don’t get fooled again (that one was too good to pass up).

    Closure of the straights of Hormuz will bring enough weight to bear from Europe as well, and don’t expect OPEC to sit idly by while their tankers sit languishing in the Gulf unable to turn a profit. Having spent time in the gulf during the 90’s and seeing first hand bits of the Iranian Navy, I doubt Iran has the ability to keep the straight closed for a period greater than 48 hours if at all. Yes the preparation for closure of the straight may play up well with the Newsmax crowd, but those of us with a firmer grasp on reality know full well Irans military doesn’t have the staying power to take on much if any of the US Navy. Barring a nuclear attack on a CAG, Iran won’t touch us. Know this as well, that area has been hydro-reconed extensively and the claims of “ground tethered mines” are bogus. Looking back, the mine attacks that did take place in the 80’s were with 1920’s technology, sure Iran has come a long way since then, but so has the US Navy counter-mine groups.

    Iran gains nothing from fomenting an attack on US Soil, especially one that can be tied back to them. Nothing will turn American public opinion into that of the week post 9/11 than finding out that Iran is behind a wave of terrorist attacks on US soil. Barring the 10% of the American public who believes every word out of Michael Moores mouth, the full support of a US attack (and I don’t mean petty aerial bombardment) will come to bear if anything close to 9/11 occurs again and it can be traced to a host nation like Iran/North Korea/Syria etc.

    Like I said, Amininjahd may be crazy, but the Mullahs are not. They know full well that saber rattling will garner no real serious threat to their nuclear ambitions, that the UN will do nothing regardless of their further enrichment operations and that China, France, and Russia all have their backs. Now if they were to really attack us, all of those things in their favor dissolve, and I just don’t think that they would risk their entire nation over nuking Israel or a US fleet.

  27. As to the uprising:

    Read the latest letters from Zarqawi and company, I don’t think they have the manpower to effect a formidable uprising in Iraq. Their only tactic is hit and run, IED, sniping. Open warfare would decimate their numbers in days.

  28. I think we need to be engaging in serious talks but not with the Iranians. As Gabriel Chapman noted above we need to convince the Chinese and the Russians that the most certain way to preserve their investments and (for the Chinese) to preserve their supply of Iranian oil is regime change. A new, non-nuclear and, hopefully, more liberal Iranian regime will be as happy to do business with them as the present regime is. An Iran with its oil infrastructure destroyed isn’t of much use to them at all.

    I agree. We trade with Russia and China, and some of goals are the same. We’re all threatened by the Islamist states in the Middle East and we all freak out when another country hints about developing nukes.

    Islamist states are militarily, economically and intellectually weak, they threaten most of the world’s population, yet they manage to survive. Why?

    We in the west have used divide and conquer tactics against the regimes in the Middle East, it’s no surprise that they’re using the same tactics on us. Iran, the Sudan and Saudi Arabia use their relationship with Russia and China to manipulate us. They use their relationship with us to manipulate the Russians and the Chinese. Their ability to turn the against each other is the only reason these incompetent, terror-supporting Islamist kleptocracies survive.

    If we continue to negotiate with and ally with Islamist regimes, the only people who benefit will be the Islamists.

    There is no logical reason for us to ally with or negotiate with any Islamist state. There is every reason to abandon our ossified cold-war attitudes and develop friendlier relationships with our trading partners in Russia and China. We’re not fighting the cold war anymore. The commies didn’t bomb the world trade towers. It’s time to realize that we’re fighting an entirely new problem, and new alliances are needed.

  29. Gabriel,

    Think like a mullah, not like an American.

    The chemical attacks won’t be directly connected to Iran – they’ll nominally be by cutouts (Iraqi Shiite, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian). I’m talking about small numbers of chemical warheads (5-10 total) mixed in with hundreds or thousands of conventional warheads, as a “desensitization strategy”. Wait for my next article.

    Hormuz – you underestimate Iranian capability, overestimate our minesweeping capability, and most importantly you ignore pyschological factors and market manipulation, including manipulation by Iran’s friends and allies. Again, wait for my next article (“Once the mullahs have the market trained, they’ll be able to briefly spike oil prices $25 a barrel by floating a barge into the Straits carrying a huge poster of an irate Ayatollah Khomeni bopping a cowering President Bush on the head with a stick”).

    I certainly agree that terrorist attacks in America will be suicidal for the mullahs, and will make that point (“They’ll have proven themselves too stupid to live”) but their audience for this are the other mullahs – scoring political points in domestic power battles is far more important than anything else. The outside world is not real to them. Read Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology, by Lee Harris, here:

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110002122

    Additionally the attacks in the U.S. will nominally be by Lebanese Hezbollah.

  30. bq. And finally, *no one here but me* has considered how a publically announced Iranian nuclear weapons test will affect American public opinion.

    Tom,

    Care to revise and extend your remarks?

  31. Just for my personal edification, is there anything conceivable that could falsify the two of you’s assumptions on Iran’s current nuclear status? I believe there was a prediction of a nuclear test on April 1 which seems not to have materialized. Are there any other indications we might look for. A declaration for instance?

  32. Trent,

    You’ve always danced around that subject in conversation, and AFAIK haven’t mentioned it once on WOC. Hit it head on and we’ll talk.

  33. Gabriel,

    Iran’s irregular forces will be a bigger threat to the oil tanker traffic in the Straits and the deep draft sea channels of the Persian Gulf than its subs or regular navy surface ships.

    Iran has hundreds of Revolutionary Guard speed boats than can carry 1-4 sea mines and an unknown but large number of Dhows that can carry more naval mines it can use to seed the deep draft oil tanker channel with mines. More importantly, Iran also has a number of North Korean mini-subs that can fill the same mine laying role.

    I view the “Diesal Sub Bastions” concept that many in the US Navy have locked on to as “The Threat” from Iran in the Gulf as an Iranian decoy for its real threat to Persian Gulf oil tanker traffic.

    Given that the US Navy is again trying to gut its naval mine clearing forces to prevent a new naval “Union” from burrowing into the US Navy service bureaucracy to contest for budget with the the CVA “airdales,” Surface Ship and Submarine unions. It is the perfect “asymetrical warfare” strategy to face the American navy with.

    It is the naval warfare strategy equivalent of the Iraqi irregular IED war complete with a civilian naval traffic “population” to hide behind.

    America will win any such contest, but it will take longer and cost more than the Admirals in charge of the USN will admit even to themselves.

  34. “Greg’s masturbation/posturing post”

    I’ve noticed that as the country turns against your wild eyed notions of foreign policy a lot of the “come on guys, let’s have a substantial discussion here” flies right out the window Joe.

    mastrubation/posturing??? You should be embarrassed.

    Greg’s mad, mad as hell. I happen to think he has good reason.

    But you’ll never see him refer to a post of yours with such 5th grade silliness.

    Then again maybe he just doesn’t bother reading them.

  35. Tom,

    These are *your words* regards my analysis of UN Amb. Bolton’s statements on Iran.

    Please note, I got there before you:

    *Holsinger: The United States Will Attack Iran*
    by Guest Author at March 17, 2006 06:12 AM

    http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/008288.php#c18

    bq. #18 from Tom Holsinger on March 17, 2006 04:32 PM

    bq. Trent is correct that Bolton’s statement is an irrevocable commmitment to the GOP base – something which they will use to effectively destroy the Bush administration and the careers of its appointed officials in the event the Bush administration does nothing when Iran officially goes nuclear.

    bq. Those who deny this also deny all the other evidence pointing the same way. Bolton’s statement should be read in the context of everything else the Bush administration is saying about Iran’s nuclear threat.

  36. Tom,

    I take it this constitutes “dancing around the subject” of the political consequences to Republicans of an Iranian nuclear test in your book.

    bq. The Bolton statement was a promisary note to the Republican conservative base.

    bq. No politician on the Republican side will get in the way of that base when it demands that it be cashed in.

    and

    bq. Several points:

    bq. 1) Bolton represents a specific Conservative, Republican supporting, demographic.

    bq. 2) Bolton’s statement was aimed at that demographic like a laser and was meant to be a hostage to the Bush Administration’s future conduct.

    bq. 3) The Bush Administration’s constant in behavior is appeasement of its political base. When it gets sufficiently enraged, Bush does something to throw them a bone. After the Dubai port deal, this was is.

    bq. 4) Bolton’s statement was also a message to that demographic that said “Get off our backs, we are doing something.”

    bq. Of course, as Tom Holsinger mentioned up thread, those who don’t want to see this, won’t.

  37. Trent:

    There is a pretty good discussion about the Sub Bastion concept at Austin Bay, and I tend to agree with most of my bubblehead friends that the concept while “cool” has far more drawbacks than positives. When you’re dealing with a Navy that only has 3 subs to begin with, are you really going to gamble all of them for the off chance of a PR victory?

    As for the attack speedboats:

    limited range
    limited payload
    easy to track and spot
    flimsy

    the speedboat attack or swarm depends on the US Navy parking a CAG within range to be effective.

    There is no need for the USN to be within 100 miles of the strait to be an effective combat force against Irans navy and coastal defenses.

    This isn’t Midway. And our Navy is the best trained in the World. I’m not being overconfident, but you can damn well bet every skipper has war gamed this type of conflict since 1988, and even more so after the Cole.

    I’d say our ASW is top notch, while our minesweeping is probably a little lacking in number of ships but not in quality of crew and equipment. Then again, in order to get hit by a mine you have to be within the theatre and our ships primarily don’t have to enter within range to be effective.

  38. Trent,

    “Doing something” and “invading” are not the same. Bombing is not invading.

    I’ve said for some time that certain events are, borrowing your phrase, “inflection points”, and that Iran officially going nuclear is one of those. The world changes when inflection points occur. 9/11 was an inflection point – suddenly certain things which had been politically impossible became possible.

    Mark,

    I’ve said beginning in January that IMO Iran’s first nuclear test will likely take place this fall, and have more recently said that a lot of things seem to be converging on the September-October period. With explanations of my reasoning.

    I also said that Iran can do a nuclear test anytime because they’ve had nuclear devices for the past 10-12 years, starting with the nuclear weapons they acquired from the xUSSR.

    Trent said years ago that Iran would have its first home-built nuclear weapons this spring. He and Michael Ledeen suspected that some ominous statements by mullah motormouths last fall about events coming in April heralded a nuclear test. They were wrong – it wasn’t a nuclear test, just the official start of a U-235 gas centrifuge enrichment run.

    I’ve stuck to my previous opinion – no earlier than this fall. IMO they’ll do it when they have three or more missile-ready U-235 gun-type warheads, which will require at least 80-100 kg of U-235. They might wait longer, but that is IMO the minimum.

  39. Davebo,

    Greg should be embarassed. Just because he’s mad as hell doesn’t mean that he’s making sense, and David Blue evsicerated him. To quote:

    bq. “”Diplomacy” that ignores this, negotiations in the absence of a real negotiating partner and confidence-building concessions in return for the Iranian routine of bluster, lies, walkouts and so on is (I’m sorry, I can’t think of a decent paraphrase for Dr. Martin Indyk’s phrase) “diplomatic masturbation.” It may make you feel good, or relieve tensions you may have about the lack of a real diplomatic relationship, but you’re doing it alone.”

    The facts are on David Blue’s side, at imbalance levels that approach the ridiculous. And serving this up with empty posturing about “getting real,” when in fact that is precisely what he is NOT doing, opens Greg to valid criticism.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn how angry Greg is. It’s not a relevant consideration for an adult discussion. I do give a damn about whether he’s substantive, or correct. In this case, he’s neither – and without speaking to his intentions, his substance deserves EXACTLY the label I gave it: Masturbatory. Posturing.

    Unless, perhaps, you’d care to advance an argument for why you believe Iran’s history is an indication that they can be negotiated with in good faith.

    Meanwhile, if you’re looking for intelligent comments re: diplomacy, I commend you to Dave Schuler’s comment in #22. I’m not sure it would work, but unlike Greg’s blathering it is at least plausible. Largely because it’s based on the kind of “getting real” that Greg talks about but does not deliver.

  40. For purposes of the bet, I’ll note that we’ll use the definition set forth by Tom in #7 as the base yes/no condition:

    bq. “…invasion, defined as the first American grouond force unit with an embedded reporter (i.e., Special Forces don’t count) crossing the border into Iran without the permission of the Iranian government before election day 2008.”

    Befotre you both assent to the full bet, consider whether the embedded reporter is necessary, and also whether this has to be about crossing the border and staying for X amount of time on the Iranian side thereafter. I recommend 1-2 weeks as the required “stay time”. Otherwise, developments in Iraq could result in border corssings that don’t last, which to me does not amount to “invasion.”

    Talk among yourselves and let me know re: any changes.

  41. Joe, I’ll side slightly with Davebo on this, for the same simple reason that I keep criticizing Tom and Trent. Chestbeating denunciations don’t build coalitions, and we don’t have a strong enough coalition inside the U.S. to do the more-moderate things I think are necessary, much less the more extreme things you, Tom & Trent are advocating.

    A more moderate tone would do some serious good here.

    And Tom, you asked about “Soldier’s Angels”:http://soldiersangels.org/ They have an urgent request up for adopters – anyone reading here ought to sign up.

    A.L.

  42. Thanks, A.L, I’ll sign up. I’ve asked Joe where to send, or drop off, the check. I have two children near where he lives.

    Joe,

    I stuck the “embedded” reporter in as a quick & dirty means of defining the intent to conquer, as opposed to harass. Special ops types skulking about don’t count and neither do incursions. IMO if there is an embed, we’re going all the way to Teheran. Embeds won’t be in line units doing incursions, and IMO there won’t be incursions – it’s invasion or just special ops.

    Bear in mind that we probably have special ops guys in there now identifying fiber optic communications booster nodes, and they are planting sensors to monitor the traffic through those nodes. That is necessary to intercept signals indicating mulitple simultaneous launches are being set up to overload ABM defenses in the Gulf. They’re probably putting sensors in other places of interest too, but real-time monitoring of enemy nuclear strike C3I has priority.

  43. I am often troubled when I see comments about building consensus within the United States for action against Iran that don’t concede that the Democratic leadership has intentionally emphasized attacks on the administration for silly psuedo-issues like Guantanamo Bay, NSA surveillance and misrepresentations of pre-Iraq intelligence. The “Opposition” is pretending that the issue does not exist at all because it is now captured by a partisan position that actually prevents it from even considering a rational approach to Iran.

  44. #25 from liberalhawk: “Dave (#8) do you think you could make those same points in more restrained language, to Greg himself?”

    I’m inclined to be helpful to you, you seem a reasonable person.

    So I looked at your posts:
    May 15, 2006 04:56 PM
    May 15, 2006 05:12 PM
    May 15, 2006 05:27 PM

    I thought: “My thinking is the same on many points, different on some, but liberalhawk is giving his opinion politely and reasonably. Let’s see if this gets a response.”

    It did, instantly. Gregory’s reply May 15, 2006 05:39 PM began: “rather often, i must say, i think liberal hawk is purposefully being disingenuous when he reads my posts.”

    I stopped reading. I’m not even going to bother with this.

    Gregory can get more good posters if he treats the ones he’s already got with respect and courtesy. He can improve his work if he takes heed of good advice such as your point six. (“6. Its your blog, and you may do with it what you want. But it would be far easier to read you more closely, and not just skim, as I admit ive done, if you kept to the point, and didnt sprinkle it with ad hominems and irrelevancies.”) But Gregory is going in the opposite direction, and I’m not making that my problem.

  45. Gabriel, I don’t think that Tom Holsinger truly knows what he’s talking about, but _he could be right_. He’s trying to think ahead, which cannot be reliable. But supposing that the war will follow the common wisdom is almost certainly wrong.

    So sure, that various sorts of attacks on the USA would be counterproductive for the iranians. But in a war that they appear to be losing, they’d want to try any sort of attack that might look like it was effective to improve their own morale. Consider the first Tokyo raids that we made on japan. Insignificant for damaging japan, but they cheered us up a lot. They were different from a terrorist attack on japanese civilians because our guys wore uniforms while they flew bombers with US markings, and also theoretically they might have intended to hit military targets. But the results are the same — insignificant damage to the enemy military, civilians killed, and the home team gets to feel that at least some kind of attack has been made against the enemy.

    Iranians might act that way too. For that matter, if they don’t we could fake it and say they did.

    I’m no expert on naval things, but people have claimed that one tanker sunk at the right place could block the Gulf. It would take us time to clear it away. So if iran could do one good hit they could blockade the Gulf for awhile, even if they couldn’t maintain the strength to do it a second time. We might prevent that by closing the Gulf ourselves until we were sure iranian capability was degraded enough to be safe — say 2 to 4 weeks depending on how thorough we wanted to be. Every vessel that doesn’t move through the Gulf is one more vessel that can’t be sunk at the wrong place.

    And remember, for Tom’s idea that we’ll get sucked into an invasion to come true, it isn’t necessary that all of the events he predicts happen. Maybe one of them is enough. Like, say we’ve bombed iran, and it’s made them mad and they’ve declared war. They talk a lot about how they’re still strong and they give sophisticated help to whichever iraqis look like they’ll attack us. Like we did against the russians in afghanistan. Anti-helicopter stuff wouldn’t be much use against other iraqis, who mostly don’t have aircraft. Antitank missiles might knock down walls and such, but iraqis are more likely to save them for armor — and no iraqis have much armor. Anything iran gives to iraqis might be saved and used against iran, which was an issue with our own weapons in afghanistan and which we considered an acceptable risk at the time. Would we accept a 3-fold increase in US casualties in iraq, or would we try to do something about it? We could bomb concentrations of iranian troops or revolutionary guards, but they could disperse those enough to reduce casualties a lot, if they were expecting it. Given time and money we could lay intelligent minefields that would catch iranian arms shipments. But that would be slow and expensive. The default would be to escalate ground fighting which would inevitably lead to fullscale invasion.

    The only ways an attack on iran doesn’t lead to invasion, are:

    1. If the attack succeeds beyond any sane expectation. Iranians rise up against their government despite foreign attack. They set up a liberal democracy that promises never to mine uranium except to sell the ore to friends of the USA, and iranians all give up islam to become christians or atheists.

    2. If the attack fails. Russia and china persuade us to call it off and pay reparations. Something like that.

    3. If US leaders show uncommon wisdom despite the fact it would hurt them in their domestic political battles. We could attack them and ignore them for awhile, maybe bomb them again at some point, talk about sanctions, talk about ways to end the war and be friends, ignore them some more, manufacture some new crisis to get US citizens to forget about iran, try to keep their annoying attacks out of the news, and generally do whatever it takes to avoid invading iran. Extremely unlikely.

    4. If we just don’t have the capability and we know it.

    All of the ways an initial bombing can avoid an invasion look unlikely to me, except for #4 which I’m not competent to judge. For #4 it might be we’re capable of running a theoretically successful invasion, and we might somehow rationalise that the invasion is useful even without an occupation.

    I think bombing is likely in, say, September 2006, for domestic political purposes. Say there’s no bombing. Then what do we have to influence the November election? The war in iraq. The deficit. Voters’ jobs. The immigration mess. Abortion? Gay marriage? A bunch of congressional scandals. No scandals with Democrats to speak of. (Not because they’re wonderful statesmen. It’s more, who would bother to bribe them when they can’t deliver legislation?) Nothing there to encourage a lot of votes for incumbents. We might get a whole lot of votes for Libertarians this time around. BUT. If we do a six-week bombing campaign going into the elections and iran has declared war on us, then we have a completely different discussion. Was the attack the right thing to do? The wrong thing? What could have been better? How will it turn out, will it turn out to be the least-bad choice? Are we winning? How do we tell whether we’re winning or losing when the news is classified? Ooooh, the iranians shot down a B2. Make that 2 B2s. Maybe 3. Is that bad or are we doing better than can be expected considering the mission? A far better discussion for incumbents than scandals. A lot of voters might decide that the most important thing is keeping democrats out of office. Sure, corruption is bad but if the Democrats get in they’ll lose the war and throw away the sacrifice of our brave B2 pilots. Better not vote libertarian this time around.

    Attacking iran is insane on the face of it. No sane person would suggest it, based on the nonclassified information. And yet more-or-less sane bloggers are already discussing it at length and trying to figure out ways to make it work, or arguing that we have to act like we’re going to do it so we have some basis for negotiation, etc. I personally have spent hours on it, when it doesn’t pass the laugh test and rightfully wouldn’t be worth more than a 5 minute joke. By changing the subject from a bunch of topics where they look real bad to something that’s utterly batguano insane, they’re likely to do better in the elections.

  46. AL

    Sadly, any coalition built at WOC will not be relevent to the overall discussian, should one even occur.

    We’ve seen enough blog vitriol to realize that. And that’s not just limited to Kossites or LGF types, but to what were once reasonable blogs, such as this one. A sad state of the medium I guess, and one I’m not immune to.

    In the end it isn’t so much a case of rational discussion being tossed aside for vitriol. It’s a plain case of the oft overused term “cognitave dissonance”.

    It’s time that some face the facts. An alpha strike on Iran right now would be seen, as it should be, as a desperate political move just like tonights speech was.

    And the continued support by folks like Joe for people like Rumsfeld is driven by a real need to believe, regardless of facts, that it was all a swell idea and all the sugar plum predictions will surely come to pass.

    Greg isn’t being derided because he’s some moonbat Micheal Moore type. He’s being trashed by Joe because he “went off the plantation”.

    Pure and simple.

  47. When you’re dealing with a Navy that only has 3 subs to begin with, are you really going to gamble all of them for the off chance of a PR victory?

    Gabriel, what are the alternatives?

    Unless they’re extremely cocky they have to figure they’ll lose their 3 subs regardless. They can’t stay in port, the ports will get bombed. They can’t stay at sea, they’ll be found and destroyed. They can’t hide for long, they have to come up for air. What better choice is there than to attack with them and hope they can do some good before they’re lost? It isn’t gambling them, it’s a chance to get some value from them before they’re lost.

    But if the iranians think they’re survivable then they might come up with a slower plan.

  48. #36 from Davebo: “Greg’s mad, mad as hell.”

    I think so too.

    I have a policy on that (link), because angry/negative people can be bad for your brain (link).

    Is it going to be useful if I go over to The Belgravia Dispatch and repeat the same sorts of sensible things liberalhawk is already being slapped down for? Obviously not.

    I thought it was better to try and give a few reasons or preferably the key reason why this post was un-serious, and on to the next topic.

    Re: #44 from Armed Liberal: no offence intended, but I stand by what I said, give or take proofreading.

    Which said, that’s all from me on this, except thanks to those who have said friendly things. (smile)

  49. Greg is wrong because his assumption is wrong.

    Greg believes Iran wants things that are compatible with the fundamental interests of the United States. The same foolishness and short-sighted behavior led FDR’s State Dept. (again, the folly of diplomats) to negotiate with the Empire of Japan right up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    We’ll get that AGAIN, only nuclear, and aimed at one or more of our cities, (likely San Diego) as sure as the calendar. Dithering and dallying and waving a piece of paper declaring peace in our time is a fool’s game.

    Because you can’t negotiate with someone who wants to kill you.

    You can fight or surrender completely and beg for mercy.

    Greg is unable to comprehend the fight has already begun just as it began in September 1941 when Yamamoto’s plans were finalized.

  50. J.Thomas,

    A demon tells me things.

    We’re at the top of a slippery slope to hell.

    We’ll be on that slope when we bomb Iran.

    There is a real good chance that Iran will become a nuclear battleground.

  51. Henry Kissinger in Tuesday’s Washington Post (May 16):

    “… The world is faced with the nightmarish prospect that nuclear weapons will become a standard part of national armament and wind up in terrorist hands. The negotiations on Korean and Iranian nuclear proliferation mark a watershed. A failed diplomacy would leave us with a choice between the use of force or a world where restraint has been eroded by the inability or unwillingness of countries that have the most to lose to restrain defiant fanatics. One need only imagine what would have happened had any of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Istanbul or Bali involved even the crudest nuclear weapon.


    … An indefinite continuation of the stalemate would amount to a de facto acquiescence by the international community in letting new entrants into the nuclear club. In Asia, it would spell the near-certain addition of South Korea and Japan; in the Middle East, countries such as Turkey, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia could enter the field. In such a world, all significant industrial countries would consider nuclear weapons an indispensable status symbol. Radical elements throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere would gain strength from the successful defiance of the major nuclear powers.

    The management of a nuclear-armed world would be infinitely more complex than maintaining the deterrent balance of two Cold War superpowers. The various nuclear countries would not only have to maintain deterrent balances with their own adversaries, a process that would not necessarily follow the principles and practices evolved over decades among the existing nuclear states. They would also have the ability and incentives to declare themselves as interested parties in general confrontations. Especially Iran, and eventually other countries of similar orientation, would be able to use nuclear arsenals to protect their revolutionary activities around the world.

    … The issue before the nations involved is similar to what the world faced in 1938 and at the beginning of the Cold War: whether to overcome fears and hesitancy about undertaking the difficult path demanded by necessity. The failure of that test in 1938 produced a catastrophic war; the ability to master it in the immediate aftermath of World War II led to victory without war …

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051501200.html

    Naturally I quoted only the apocalyptic parts. Kissinger still wants diplomacy. We’re out of time for that.

  52. Tom Holsinger, I notice I tend to agree with you about the likely course of the war and its likely consequences. Many of the details depend on things I don’t know and some of them depend on what initiatives the iranians, russians, chinese etc take, so I’m not at all willing to say there’s only one way it can go. But most of the likely results I see look rather unpleasant.

    I’d like to ask, if you were in position to make meaningful choices about it, what would you choose? Does attacking iran in the near future look like the best choice to you? Is there any alternative that seems to you likely to give a better result on average, after you weight the results to your satisfaction?

  53. THE PERILS OF ENGAGEMENT

    Short of giving the Regime Security guarantees (no invasion) a la Cuba/Kennedy where Castro was doubly rewarded for undoing what they shouldn’t have done in the first place–via the U.S. agreeing never to take or assist hostile action against Castro (offering his regime life insurance instead of being punished), the military faction led by Ahmadinejad will not halt their uranium enrichment. Are we going to trust this regime who repeatedly has asserted “”Islam is an alternative to the current global system, not a candidate for becoming a small part of it?

  54. J.Thomas,

    Iran is manageable with conventional weapons if it has only a few nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missile. The purpose of its first few nuclear tests will be to proof its many implosion-type plutonium warheads so those can be modified as necessary to work reliably when delivered by ballistic missile.

    IMO the window between Iran’s first nuclear test and such modification of its existing stock of plutonium warheads might be as little as 90 days. They’ve had a reliable Chinese design for this for years. The issue is local manufacturing/engineering standards, both for the warheads and Iran’s ballistic missiles. 90 days might be an overestimate. It is less likely that it is an underestimate.

    Once Iran has several dozen missile-ready fission warheads, the need for the United States to commence any military action against Iran with a surprise strategic nuclear attack (by us on them)goes way, way up.

    I don’t want that to happen. We need to go ASAP. There just isn’t time for diplomacy or covert fomentation of rebellion. The suggestion of blockade in today’s Wall Street Journal assumes that the mullahs won’t fight back and worse, that Iran does not already have nuclear weapons.

    Sometimes you have to fight. We certainly need a long-term diplomatic solution to the nuclear proliferation peril, but there is not time for that concerning Iran.

    There are no good solutions. At the moment we must seek the least bad one. It will be messy and very, very ugly. There are degrees of ugliness. I’ll settle for nuclear weapons not being used by anyone. I fear they will be used.

  55. Pay careful attention to my distinction between the numbers of nuclear weapons presently possessed by Iran alone, and the numbers it will have after its testing of those with implosion-type plutonium triggers.

    I repeat, My personal opinion is that Iran and North Korea have an alliance such that their nuclear weapons capabilities should be viewed as a single unit.

    The degree of cooperation between Iran and North Korea in guided missile and nuclear weapon matters, together with China’s complicity, is such that the total numbers of missile-ready nuclear weapons Iran and NK possess should be deemed a single pool for purposes of miitary planning.

    Estimate enemy capabilities rather than intentions. We must assume when attacking Iran that we’ll face the nuclear weapons held by North Korea as well as Iran.

    My personal opinion is that Iran right now has at least 2-3 implosion-type plutonium warheads courtesy of North Korea, and is in the process of cooking its own plutonium. Those are not suitable for delivery by missile absent testing, and I believe that testing will take place this year – my money is on September or October.

    North Korea probably has more than ten such weapons. I repeat, those are at the moment suitable for delivery only by aircraft, ship, or as container cargo.

    I believe North Korea already has sufficient U-235 for several gun-type warheads, and that Iran is rapidly cooking its own U-235.

    If Iran’s first test of a plutonium implosion-type warhead is in September, Iran will likely have four or more U-235 gun-type missile-ready warheads, not just one (because Iran will have produced one and North Korea has several now), and will have more than a dozen missile-ready plutonium implosion-type warheads by December (several made in Iran and 10-12 in North Korea).

    And in 2005 North Korea had enough plutonium for at least six implosion-type warheads. That was last year.

    This is called “breakout”. That is what we are up against, and that is why there is not time for a diplomatic solution.

    Either we attack Iran this year or we’ll be into the full Hobbesian nightmare of rampant nuclear proliferation by late 2007. Look again at the post quoting Henry Kissinger above.

  56. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS AND DON’T MESS WITH TEXANS!.

    #61 Tom

    I agree the window of opportunity is rapidly closing on Iran. Dr. Zin and RBT have been harping on this until we’re both blue in the face since last summer.

    Unfortunately the optimal solution of regime change may not now be possible before the Mullahs’ nuclear clock ticks down.

    We must destroy the Mullahs’ nuclear capability while we still can.

    To Hell with the UN, the EU, the Russians, the Chinese, and our friends the French.

    This is no time for multiculturism. It’s time to call a spade a spade. There is no moral equivalency with Islamofascism.

    At some point we must realize that Islamofascism is truly Good vs. Evil.

    In the vain of VDH and Krauthammer do we have to relive 1938 all over again?

    While I disagree with President Bush on the border and the illegal immigration issue, now’s not the time to have some whoosh as the Commander and Chief.

    The Mullahs are playing a losing hand of Texas Hold’em. And the old saying, “Don’t mess with Texans and “don’t mess with Texas” is now more truer than ever.

    The Mad Mullahs will not be detered from their Armageddon.

    LET’S ROLE!

  57. How to Stop Iran (Without Firing a Shot)

    To All

    This just popped up over at Dr. Zin’s site Regime Change Iran and is definitely worth a read in light of the discussions here.

    RBT

    *****

    How to Stop Iran (Without Firing a Shot)

    Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal:

    What can the Bush administration do to persuade Iran’s leaders that their bid to develop nuclear weapons will exact an unacceptable price on their regime? What can it do, that is, short of launching air strikes?

    Begin by shelving the current approach. For three years, the administration has deferred to European and U.N. diplomacy while seeking to build consensus around the idea that a nuclear-armed Iran poses unacceptable risks to global security. The result: Seven leading Muslim states, including Pakistan and Indonesia, have joined hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to affirm his right to develop “peaceful” nuclear technology. China and Russia have again rejected calls for U.N. sanctions. The Europeans are again seeking to sweeten the package of technical, commercial and security incentives the mullahs rejected last year. And that’s just last week’s news.

    Today, the international community is less intent on stopping Tehran from getting the bomb than it is on stopping Washington from stopping Tehran. That’s something the administration may not be able to change. But there are steps it can take independently to alter Iran’s calculations. Here are four.

    […]

    Read More

  58. Looks like Greg gives a shout out to Joe and others here…

    Now, I’m not going to name names and get all mean over here, but I’ve seen a lot of people poo-pooing engagement with Iran whose collective foreign policy experience isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit as compared to the people above. They’d be blown to the proverbial smithereens (and then some), going mano to mano with this gang debating Iran policy–especially post the Iraq imbroglio. Just saying.

    link

  59. Looks like Greg continues to evade the issue here… the issue being – “and THEN what?” Because Iran’s open and long-standing hostility is not in question, the character of its regime is not in qurestion, its nuclear ambitions are not in question by any serious observer, its long policy of IAEA cheating (and being caught) is public record, and its steady rebuff of any option that stood in the least way between it and its goals is evident.

    Relevant, too, given the excerpts from these figures that Greg chose NOT to quote, which explain the magnitude of the danger.

    If the only agreement Iran will accept is one that legitimizes its nuclear ambitions, what substantive result will talks accomplish? An argument from authority is a non-answer to that question. A highly relevant question, too, post the Clinton/Carter North Korea fiasco which has helped land us in the present mess.

    Talks with Iran have intelligence value, and may be justifiable on that basis. And then what? Anyone making bilious claims about “getting real” especially needs to answer that question intelligently. Greg hasn’t.

  60. Joe – but the “Attack Iran Now” people have the same then what? problem.

    I still haven’t heard anyone who’s on the pro-attack now side suggesting what happens after we bomb/invade, and what the other proto-nuclear forces will be thinking – and more, important, doing.

    A.L.

  61. I’ll take A.L. one step further. Iran’s belligerence has in itself caused some to believe (fervantly) that the regime already has one or more working nuclear weapons. Another interpretation of their stance is that they dont have a weapon yet but have a long term strategy for their program that involves the probability of weathering an air attack at some point, and they are in fact provoking us in order to get it over with sooner rather than later.

    Look at it from the Mullahs POV. Bush’s track record (not to mention Israel’s) should make them at least cogniscent of the likelihood of a US or Israeli air attack on their program. To me that seems the odds on most likely ultimate response (i wont say conclusion) to the current crisis. They probably accept that. We know from what limited intelligence is available the Iran has chosen redundency and deep hiding places as its method of defying air attack. I suggest they may be goading us into a preemptive air attack in order to get it over with, let the US reap the diplmoatic whirlwind around the world, and then assumedly get their program back on track with the likelihood of the US mustering the political and diplmatic will to engage in follow up attacks greatly reduced. In other words the Mullahs are tempting us to empty our clip now assuming we wont have the time or energy to reload and finish the job months or years in the future.

    Clearly playing along with that game isnt in our best interest, which is why i think the bombing with the sole intention of setting back the nuclear program physically is a nonstarter (seems to have fallen out of favor around here as well). The invasion option would put a halt to their strategy, but would buy us a hornets nest full of other problems as we’ve been arguing about.

    If i’m right, keeping up the dilomacy game will force the Iranians to grow more and more belligerant- costing them defenders and gaining us supporters. To a point. Whenever that point is reached we’re still going to have to spend our diplomatic chips and put the hurt on the regime, either via blockaid or shooting war (if there can be a difference). I still think there is a way to do this via waiting out the diplomacy until we’ve wrung out of it what we can and then hitting Irans weapons infastructure while threatening its oil infastructure if they refuse to lower their flag and follow our long term demands on inspections. But we will have to bite the gasoline price bullet, which is something no-one expects us to do. Bush should be out there preparing us for just that instead of wagging his tongue about immigration ‘reform’.

  62. Tom Holsinger, let me see if I got your meaning right.

    You figure that iran already has nukes, and will use them. Our bombing attack will not make us feel secure enough so we will wind up invading iran. You call this “a slippery slope to hell”. There’s a chance that our invasion of iran will wind up with iran as a nuclear battlefield. I haven’t noticed you continue with further consequences, and particularly I haven’t noticed you hint at how we might get a victory or a successful exit strategy.

    As I understand it, you figure that the longer we put off the invasion the more nukes iran will have. And the longer we put off the invasion the more likely that when we do invade we’ll have to nuke iran as part of it. So you figure the least bad alternative is to invade iran ASAP.

    Since a nuclear iran is unacceptable, and since the only possible way to avoid a nuclear iran is invasion, it doesn’t matter what the results of invasion are. Every alternative to invasion is worse by definition. And it doesn’t matter how likely we are to “succeed” with our invasion. Since any alternative to invasion is unacceptable, we have nothing to lose by invasion whatever the odds.

    Do I understand you right?

  63. J.Thomas,

    Yes, except that there is a 100% chance that the invasion will succeed quickly and easily, saving what would happen if the mullahs successfully pop a nuke on us. I believe there is an even chance that they will use chemical and biological weapons against an invasion even if they don’t get a nuke off, and that we would then use about 40-50 tactical nuclear weapons to immediately terminate organized resistance. This is why I said there was a real good chance that Iran will become a nuclear battlefield – we’ll nuke ‘em if the mullahs use WMD.

    I don’t believe the mullahs will even try to use nukes on us unless they have more than a few, as in more than 3-4 missile-ready ones. And there is a difference between “trying” and “succeeding”. The orders to fire might not get through, the nuclear units might not obey, our air attacks might prevent them from launching, the launchers might not work (always a problem with SCUD-derivatives – their fuel might dissolve the fueling crew, the missiles might just sit there when the button is pushed, they might blow up on or just after launch, veer wildly off course, etc.) and the warheads simply might not detonate even if everything else works (which is likely absent testing – that’s the reason for testing nuclear weapons), and they might be intercepted by a Patriot or Standard-3 ABM. Add all of the above and the odds of any one missile working are so low that even the mullahs know the things must be used en masse to make certain one gets through.

    Assuming no WMD use during the invasion, I believe the conquest phase would last 6-12 weeks and that our fatalities would be under 500. Our ground forces are just too lethal while Iran’s are a joke even by Saddam-era Iraqi standards.

    Our real military problems will come during the occupation phase after conquest. That sort of resistance will take several months to ramp up and then we’ll be in something which will make Iraq look like a walk in park for at least another twelve months.

    We’ll have to call up almost all the Army and Marine reserves, and the National Guard, for the duration, which IMO will be 30-36 months. This is the real obstacle to invasion.

  64. U-235 gun-type missile warheads should always work. It is those using implosion-type triggers which must be tested.

    If Iran tests a plutonium implosion-type warhead in September or October, we will have a very small time window to commence an invasion before winter weather in Iran’s Zagros Mountains greatly complicates invasion logistics, etc. That would give the opponents of an invasion inside the Bush administration, especially the military ones, another argument to use for delaying invasion. Which President Bush will cave into.

    And by the time spring rolls around, when the weather is more suited to invasion, Iran’s nuclear testing will have resulted in all the plutonium implosion-type warheads held by Iran and North Korea being missile-ready. I.e., we’ll face at least a dozen effective Iranian nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in the spring. Maybe more.

    This is called “breakout”.

  65. A.L. Said:

    bq. I still haven’t heard anyone who’s on the pro-attack now side suggesting what happens after we bomb/invade, and what the other proto-nuclear forces will be thinking – and more, important, doing.

    I believe Tom Holsinger has been saying variants of the following for months in the posts and comments sections here on Winds:

    bq. Assuming no WMD use during the invasion, I believe the conquest phase would last 6-12 weeks and that our fatalities would be under 500. Our ground forces are just too lethal while Iran’s are a joke even by Saddam-era Iraqi standards.

    bq. Our real military problems will come during the occupation phase after conquest. That sort of resistance will take several months to ramp up and then we’ll be in something which will make Iraq look like a walk in park for at least another twelve months.

    bq. We’ll have to call up almost all the Army and Marine reserves, and the National Guard, for the duration, which IMO will be 30-36 months. This is the real obstacle to invasion.

  66. Senate Panel Calls for direct US-Iran negotiations

    Dr. Robert Einhorn, a Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Dr. David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, emphasized that despite the Iranian government’s announcements to the contrary, Tehran is still years away from developing nuclear weapons.

    “Iran’s claim that it has mastered enrichment technology is premature,” explained Einhorn, as he declared that even with great luck and skill, Iran could not develop a nuclear bomb in less than 3 years.

    “There is plenty of time for diplomatic action,” stated Albright as he concurred with Einhorn’s estimates and called for the United States to receive more information from United Nations’ inspections.

    “A critical incentive for Iran would be a prospect of a less threatening and more normal relationship with the US,” explained Einhorn as he declared that the US “should be prepared to have face to face negotiations with Iran.”

    Einhorn added that the negotiations should be held in a multilateral framework and should include “all range of issues.”

    Senators Biden and Lugar appeared to be in sync with the panelists’ call for negotiations between Iran and the US. In his opening statement, Senator Biden posed several rhetorical questions about the willingness of the US administration to abandon its call for regime change in Iran as part of a larger security package.

  67. Tom, I think we’re mostly agreed about whast’s likely to happen in the next couple of years.

    I think the details might vary some. Like, given the iraqi example the iranians might be ready to do significant resistance from the beginning. But it’s all little details.

    As for what ought to happen — this is insane.

    Based on our fantasy that iran will someday nuke us, we’re going to do a naked-aggression invasion? And maybe nuke them 40-50 times? Commit our entire ground forces for at least 2.5 years, leaving nothing for any other threat? This will cost at least a trillion dollars, right? And we’ll get absolutely no support from anybody. Especially if we use nukes.

    People say 9/11 changed everything. This will make 9/11 look minor. It will change *everything* for us. And officially we’re doing it because we *think* that iran is different from every previous nuclear power and will actually use their nukes and be destroyed. Just plain crazy.

    This is much more than a trillion dollar bet. It looks crazy to the rest of the world, we’re risking whatever is left of our reputation. We’re risking our remaining civil liberties. We’re even risking getting nuked. All on the supposition that the iranians are even crazier than we are.

    Would china invade taiwan while we’re busy? I’m guessing no. China wants taiwan as a functioning province, not as a smoking ruin. They’d negotiate foc consessions but they wouldn’t invade.

    Would north korea invade south korea? I don’t know. Maybe. If we still had a few troops there to act as tripline I guess we’d lose them. Nothing much we could do about it except make threats about what we’d do later when we’d finished liberating iran. Except we could nuke north korea.

    Are we deterring anybody else at the moment? I can’t think of anybody else we’re influencing by threat of ground troops. Latin america I guess. Maybe a bunch of countries that want nukes. Would a significant number of them start nuclear progrms thinking that with a three year headstart they might have nukes before they reach the top of our list?

    And yet you don’t seem like a crazy person. I’ve been reading your stuff for twelve years or so off and on, and usually you seem quite rational. Sometimes your goals are different from mine but you propose sensible ways to get them.

    So I imagine what might lead you to propose that we willfully initiate this catastrophe. Could you have fallen victim to the groupthink? A bunch of guys all passing around every little factoid they can find that points to the desired conclusion, and they talk about how convinced they are, and after awhile they actually convince themselves….

    That doesn’t sound right. How about this. We’re rapidly heading toward being an ex-superpower. We’ve had repeated depreciations of our money and it’s only asian (and middle eastern) central banks that prop it up now. We have a highly-trained professional army that’s good at using expensive hi-tech tools. Is the pendulum about to swing back to mass citizen armies? If so we wouldn’t do so well. Our former allies needed us to balance the communist threat; that’s gone now. Nobody needs us now the way NATo used to need us. Except maybe genocide victims who can’t begin to take care of themselves much less help us anywhere else. How can we stay a superpower?

    If we can control all the middle east oil, that would be a start. We could cut off oil to china. (They could import some from russia, though.) We could cut off oil to europe, if they decided to act up. (They have no reason to build military forces to act under our command. We’ll do that for them. If they decide we’re a criminally-insane rogue nation they might build a military to oppose us. But not if we control their oil.) Controlling the oil from the middle east and venezuela etc would go a long way to keeping us a superpower. Also, we’d have as much oil as we need. As it is we’re competing for the last of the oil with the rest of the world, with every third-world nation that aspires to be first-world.

    And we need a lot of oil if we’re going to run an offensive military. An uparmored Humvee gets about 2 mpg, a main battle tank 0.5 mpg. And a B2 bomber has two 15,000 gallon gas tanks with the option for more. We’re the only nation in the world that can effectively project power. We use 25% of the world’s oil production. Those factoids might be linked….

    So we need to invade iran. And if we’re going to invade iran at all, we definitely want to do it before they have nukes.

    Does this alternative make more sense? Well, no. It could happen. The top guys say “Do whatever it takes to maintain US superpower status.” The technical experts say “Here’s what it takes. It could be a big ugly.”. But they aren’t making policy. Then the policy guys fail to understand the risks and say “Make it so.”.

    But that doesn’t fit Ton Holsinger. He wouldn’t advocate sliding down the slippery slope to hell unless the alternatives were all worse. Just losing US superpower status isn’t all that bad. Sure, bad things would happen in the world without US intervention, but they do anyway. We’d be less of a target. We could focus more of our efforts on peaceful projects for awhile, until we get backed into a war. Not so terrible.

    No, he must have gotten caught by the group-think. He really believes that the iranians are suicidal maniacs who truly intend to kill themselves off by making a nuclear attack on the USA.

  68. J.Thomas,

    I disagree with your statement that we’ll invade because our “bombing attack will not make us feel secure enough”” save in the instance of us bombing for a week or three and, afterwards, Iran then testing a nuke it’s had all along. I agree that is not merely a distinct possibility, but certain if we haven’t invaded Iran before the test, for other reasons.

    Such a test would for sure make the U.S. and many other countries feel mighty insecure, and I expect Israel would then make a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran if we don’t invade. But we will invade at that point.

    I make a different point though – that Iranian non-nuclear retaliation for our bombing will hurt us so much that we’ll invade before the bombing stops. This is the slippery slope I’ve been talking about – escalation. War is a two-way street. I regard this as more likely than a mutual cessation of hostilities followed a few months later (at most a year) by Iran’s first nuclear test.

    I disagree with everything after your second paragraph. My very first post in this thread specifically stated that I don’t think Iran will attack us with its nuclear weapons if we leave them alone.

    Consider that you are so appalled by the absence of viable non-military options here, and the awful prospect of nuclear weapons use, that you aren’t thinking straight – that your horror has so disconnected your ability to reason that you accuse me of believing things that I specifically said I didn’t.

    You are in good company in this. Notice that in Armed Liberal’s No. 67, posted on May 17 at 5:37 pm, he said (my emphasis: “I still haven’t heard anyone who’s on the pro-attack now side suggesting what happens after we bomb/invade, and what the other proto-nuclear forces will be thinking – and more, important, doing.

    This ignores what he said on the day before – May 16 at 3:33 pm:

    How Libya Stopped Loving The Bomb by Armed Liberal on May 16, 2006 03:33 PM

    Speaking of Iran, check out this article in Opinion Journal which analyzes Libya’s surrender of it’s nuclear weapons program.

    How and why did Col. Gadhafi, the despotic, still dangerously capricious leader, decide to abandon a lifetime of revolution and terrorism and abandon the WMD programs he had pursued since seizing power in a coup in 1969? What role did American intelligence play in that decision? And how much change can Col. Gadhafi tolerate and still retain power? …”

    You and Armed Liberal are shining examples of how otherwise reasonable Democrats, liberals and lefties absolutely lose it where nuclear weapons are concerned. As I said of Armed Liberal on this point in a long-vanished thread:

    must turn brain … OFF!

  69. I disagree with your statement that we’ll invade because our “bombing attack will not make us feel secure enough”” …. I make a different point though – that Iranian non-nuclear retaliation for our bombing will hurt us so much that we’ll invade before the bombing stops.

    I don’t consider those incompatible. Their nonnuclear retaliation can make us feel insecure. As long as they retaliate we’ll want to retaliate too, and it naturally proceeds to invasion provided we feel up to invasion. Presumably our military guys understand this and are already planning the invasion and occupation. Their public claims that the airstrikes will be easy and decisive are of course only intended for public consumption. Then when the iranians do their counterattacks the military will claim that the invasion will be easy and decisive. And after that we’ll be stuck with occupation.

    Your prediction is that if we don’t invade after an iranian nuclear test, the israelis will stage a nuclear strike. As I understand it, we both think the US will probably invade before a nuclear test and so the prediction won’t be tested. But my prediction is that in that case israel wouldn’t stage a nuclear strike because their leaders aren’t stupid and they aren’t crazy. Israel will threaten a nuclear strike, and iran will threaten a nuclear strike, and they’ll get the diplomats shuttling back and forth making both sides feel important. And eventually the israelis will get a bunch of big concessions from the USA for not doing something they never had any intention of doing, and the iranians will get some concessions from somebody-or-other for not nuking israel (which they’d be barely capable of if at all), and then the whole thing blows over. Like the india/pakistan nuclear squabble. It’s a rite of passage. Both sides prove that they’re important nuclear powers and the world applauds them both for being responsible and not committing mutual suicide and dumping fallout on the rest of us, and they get presents from third parties for it. Kind of like a bar mitzvah.

    My very first post in this thread specifically stated that I don’t think Iran will attack us with its nuclear weapons if we leave them alone.

    Yes! Thank you! I’d forgotten that post.

    So I completely misunderstood why you approve of the invasion and occupation. Let ne see if I have it now.

    You approve of a unilateral invasion that will cost a trillion dollars plus and immobilise our land forces for several years, that may leave us using nukes and possibly having nukes used on us — because you think it will promote nuclear nonproliferation. Not iran specifically, but everybody else that’s likely to get nukes unless we invade iran.

    So I have to wonder, why do you think other nations will be less likely to get nukes because we occupy iran? We’ll be tied down for 30-36 months, that’s a window for others to get started when we can’t much threaten to invade them. And if enough countries start then, we won’t have the chance to invade and occupy more than a couple of them before the others get their nukes. Why would you think that our invading iran would advance nonproliferation, beyond stopping iran from getting nukes for as long as we occupy them?

    And most of the nations that will get their own nukes won’t even be our enemies — yet. Some of them will turn into US enemies sometime in the future, after they already have their nukes. Pakistan is an example we can all agree on. India? We tend to think of india as a useful balance against china, but at some time in the future their apparent interests may conflict with ours. Israel? At present we are israel’s only friend in the world, but usually nations don’t have friends, they have interests. When israel finds it in their interests to side with a US enemy then we’ll have another nuclear enemy. France? When france got their nukes they were kind of our ally. That keeps getting less obvious….

    Face it, in the last few years the USA has given up on nonproliferation. Now we only try to keep nukes from our enemies-of-the-moment. How would occupying iran promote nonproliferation?

  70. I’m still with Tom Holsinger on Iran.

    As I’ve said many times before in threads here, the Islamofascist cultists, President MAD and his religious mentor Imam Yazdi, will nuke Israel in heartbeat as soon as they have the capability. This is in fulfillment of their religious prophesy. This is truly rational and logical from their perverted frame of reference and reality.

    The little Satan, Israel, will strike in self-defense once their level of confidence in Iran nuke capability passes a certain point. We the Great Satan will take the blame whether we are actively involved in the strike or not. So we might as well ensure the job is done right.

    Also in the other thread that Tom refers to see my comment re Saddam and Col Gadhafi may have been collaberating with China and the NORKs to develop nuke weapons in the tunnels in Libya all under the noses of the EU and the IAEA.

    See my comment above at #63. Not that I was around in 1938, things are looking very similar.

    Also for other options not involving a preemptive strike see my comments here and here. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch would probably agrue that Islam unlike Christianity is not a likely candidate for reform. A reform movement would have to reject many core beliefs central to the faith.

    To win the GWOT we must first win the war of information. The ideology Islamofascism must be thoroughly discredited as a viable means of meeting the needs and desires of its followers in the modern world.

    Central to its failure like other failed ones, Communism, Nazism, Maoism, and Fascisim, is the recognition of the universal truth – the free will of men and women.

    RBT

  71. I’m still with Tom Holsinger on Iran.

    Rockets-B-Rain, what do you think Tom Holsinger says that you agree with? It looks to me like he’s saying some things that look plausible but which few people are saying. This is such a low-bandwidth medium that it’s easy to miss pieces of a complex coherent pattern of thought.

    So what do you think he’s saying?

    Incidentally, christianity has rejected most core beliefs of the faith and doesn’t seem much weaker by it. But that wasn’t in direct response to military force.

  72. This thread had scrolled off when I finished dinner so this will be my last post in it.

    IMO you underestimate the capacity of politicians and military leaders for self-delusion. Here it is “bomb Iran a bit and that will magically solve all our problems.”

    IMO it is more likely than not that we will bomb Iran before its first nuclear test and, separately, it is more likely than not that if we bomb Iran things will escalate to invasion without the bombing ever stopping.

    Consider though, that if both are 60/40 chances, the two together are only a 36% chance. I.e., the odds are really 64% that Iran will test a nuclear weapon before we invade. So IMO it is really more likely than not that we will commence ANY attack on Iran knowing that it already has nuclear weapons, because the mullahs will have tested one.

    Now you can see why Trent and I are so worried about nuclear weapons use by somebody during the course of our invasion of Iran.

    IMO, and that of most people with some knowledge of the mullahs, they absolutely, positively, WILL nuke Israel as soon as they think they can destroy Israel by doing so, regardless of Israeli retaliation or the threat of American retaliation. The mullah regime can’t be deterred. The only thing holding them back is lack of means. IMO they won’t try it until they have thermonuclear warheads on their missiles, but it is possible that they’ll go for it if they have more than a hundred fission-only missile warheads.

    You say you disagree. Tell us how many times you’ve been right in matters like this. Tell us why Israel should risk its existence based on your judgment.

    Israel won’t wait to be destroyed. They’ll hit Iran first with most of their nuclear stocks unless we invade.

    I stated my reasons for invading Iran in January. Those were deemed convincing by a lot of people. Check out the similarities between my January 19 article, The Case For Invading Iran, Gerald Baker’s op-ed in the London Times a week later and Henry Kissinger’s op-ed in the Washington Post quoted above. Here is what I said:

    “America has come to another turning point – whether our inaction will again engulf the world and us in a nightmare comparable to World War Two. This will entail loss of our freedom as the price of domestic security measures against terrorist weapons of mass destruction, though we might suffer nuclear attack before implementing those measures. The only effective alternative is American use of pre-emptive military force against an imminent threat …

    …Iran’s mullahs are about to produce their first home-built nuclear weapons this year. If we permit that, many other countries, some of whose governments are dangerously unstable, will build their own nuclear weapons to deter Iran and each other from nuclear attack as our inaction will have demonstrated our unwillingness to keep the peace. This rapid and widespread proliferation will inevitably lead to use of nuclear weapons in anger, both by terrorists and by fearful and unstable third world regimes, at which point the existing world order will break down and we will suffer every Hobbesian nightmare of nuclear proliferation.

    … The chief threat of Iranian nukes, however, is what they will lead to elsewhere – something which will make all of the above trivial by comparison, something which will go on and on long after Iran’s mullah regime is overthrown by the Iranian people.

    If the United States does not forcibly prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons, every country in the area will know to a moral certainty that they cannot rely on the United States for protection against Iranian nuclear attack, or Iranian nuclear blackmail in support of domestic opposition to the generally shaky regimes of the Middle East. American prestige and influence there will collapse. If we won’t protect ourselves by pre-emption, we can’t be relied on to protect anyone else.

    So every country within reach of Iranian nuclear weapons will have enormous strategic pressure to develop their own nuclear weapons to deter Iranian nuclear threats. As a recent strategic survey noted, Syria has many times the per capita and absolute GDP of North Korea, and Egypt several times the per capita and absolute GDP of Pakistan. If North Korea and Pakistan can develop nuclear weapons, so can Syria and Egypt, and also Saudi Arabia, all three of whose regimes are shaky. And they won’t be the only countries to develop nuclear weapons after Iran does – many more will join the nuclear “club” within a few years, some within months.

    All of those countries having nuclear weapons will create a security nightmare – at some point terrorists will be able to buy or steal some …

    … We better than most can economically afford the thoroughly intrusive security measures required to protect against terrorist nukes when the threat can come from anywhere, as opposed to Islamic extremists alone.

    But the price of domestic security, when foreign security fails due to a failure of leadership and will by President Bush, will be something much more precious – our freedom.

    Freedom everywhere will suffer due to those same security precautions. The greatest loss of freedom will come in those countries which are freest …”

    I would invade Iran to protect America’s freedom.

    You don’t see how the mullahs having nuclear weapons is a significant threat to our freedom.

    You never will.

    Just as it doesn’t matter to you that Libya gave up its nuclear program and turned everything over to us, including both the proof that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program was hidden in Libya, plus all the documents incriminating the Chinese and Pakistani governments. It doesn’t matter to you that Libya did this because it decided that having nuclear weapons wouldn’t protect it from us.

    Because you believe. Evidence, facts, reason and logic cannot shake your faith.

  73. #79 J. Thomas

    I’ll let Tom Holsinger do the heavy sledding on the cost benefit analysis of destroying the Mad Mullahs’ nuclear weapons capacity before they can launch an attack.

    It comes down to this as I said above in this thread or one of the others, “call a spade a spade.” Recognize the Evil starring us in the face for what it is as Hitler and Nazism were in 1938. The world’s hesitancy and equivacation then escallated the total costs of removing the Hitler’s Third Reich in WWII.

    Our relunctance to steer clear and give great deference to the religion of Islam is likely to bite us in the butt. Please read Robert Spencer’s deconstruction of Dean Esmay (who I like BTW of Dean’s Way) in the link above. Spencer literally thrashed Dean on this point of a reformation of Islam like Christianity underwent.

  74. Tom, just as it’s taken me a couple of times around the feedback loop to see just what you’re saying, you have not at all understood what I’m saying.

    I agree about the capacity for self-delusion. We saw it already in iraq. Now we’re seeing it about iran. But I want to point out that it’s as possible to have gloomy depressing self-delusion as the other kind, that’s just rarer.

    I disagree with you about iran nuking israel — they won’t do it. And I disagree about israel pre-emptively nuking iran — they won’t do that either. You ask how often I’ve been right about such things. So far, I’ve been right every time. But in some of those predictions if I’d been wrong we wouldn’t be here to discuss it so maybe those shouldn’t count.

    Israel and iran won’t nuke each other because their leaders don’t think the way you do. They haven’t learned the same things you have, and they don’t reach the same conclusions.

    You argue that our invasion of iran will promote nonproliferation. I argue that it won’t, that nonproliferation is dead. I guess we’ll find out which of us is right on that one. Since it looks like we’re going to invade iran regardless, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. We’d be far better off in the short run if nonproliferation turns out not to be dead.

  75. Rocky, very often people misunderstand each other even when they think they agree. This is what led to the claim that many successful marriages are basicly “happy misunderstandings”. You can get some idea whether you understand Holsinger’s claims by repeating them in your own words and seeing whether he says that’s what he meant. So long as he’s willing to explain.

    Our relunctance to steer clear and give great deference to the religion of Islam is likely to bite us in the butt.

    Given other things you’ve written I suspect that the natural way to read this line is not what you intended.

  76. J Thomas makes his case well.

    The point about self-delusion being possible on the gloomy side too is apt (Club of Rome, anyone?), and worth keeping in mind even as we contemplate all of the evidence that says we really are about 5 minutes to midnght here.

    I do lean toward his view re: Israel not pre-emptively nuking Iran (though I’m not as completely certain as he is). On the other hand, I’m much less certain about his belief that Iran won’t use the weapons it has. Precisely because they do NOT think as we do, and the patterns of their belief system are public and well-demonstrated.

    I come closer to J Thomas again on the “nonproliferation is dead” theme, a subject i’ve covered before on Winds. Barring a truly horrific example being made of someone within the next decade, that is. Which may yet happen.

  77. Joe,

    You continue to underestimate the effects of The Case for Invading Iran. Maybe I was only helping the dead hand of Hari Seldon, and maybe I’m successfully playing a much deeper game than you suspect.

    Consider that this sentence in my WOC article, and a critical phrase within it:

    This rapid and widespread proliferation will inevitably lead to use of nuclear weapons in anger, both by terrorists and by fearful and unstable third world regimes, at which point the existing world order will break down and we will suffer every Hobbesian nightmare of nuclear proliferation.

    was specifically intended to get Henry Kissinger involved, and elicted this statement in his Washington Post column:

    The management of a nuclear-armed world would be infinitely more complex than maintaining the deterrent balance of two Cold War superpowers. The various nuclear countries would not only have to maintain deterrent balances with their own adversaries, a process that would not necessarily follow the principles and practices evolved over decades among the existing nuclear states. They would also have the ability and incentives to declare themselves as interested parties in general confrontations.

    Kissinger was only one of my target audiences. IMO I either achieved my objective or helped Hari Seldon do it.

    We’re going. It is unfortunate that we’ll back into the invasion of Iran in an exceptionally ugly and messy way, and particularly that this may entail the otherwise avoidable use of nuclear weapons, but the force disparity guarantees the outcome.

  78. Sorry, Tom, I forgot that your firm hand is on the wheel of history. I feel so much better now, really, I do.

    Tom, let me be blunt: you’re effing delusional when you make statements like this, which causes me no small amount of concern about taking anything else you say seriously. When henry the K sends you a note asking for your views – or even something along the lines of “attaboy”, please let us all know.

    A.L.

  79. A.L.,

    Thank you for continuing your fine work as a straight man. I set you up and you came in exactly as planned. “Dr. Pavlov, your hot dogs are ready! Ding-ding!”

    You assume that my articles can only be read directly by the intended recipients. They don’t. This is the beauty of the blogopshere – we can put things out there for the more connected to repeat as their own ideas. Compare the following quote from Gerald Baker’s January 27 op-ed in the Times of London to those portions of my January 19 Case for Invading Iran in my post # 81 above – Baker clearly borrowed chunks of my article with only minor rewriting:

    “… But this threat is only, incredibly, a relatively small part of the problem.

    If Iran goes nuclear, it will demonstrate conclusively that even the world’s greatest superpower, unrivalled militarily, under a leadership of proven willingness to take bold military steps, could not stop a country as destabilising as Iran from achieving its nuclear ambitions.

    No country in a region that is so riven by religious and ethnic hatreds will feel safe from the new regional superpower. No country in the region will be confident that the US and its allies will be able or willing to protect them from a nuclear strike by Iran. Nor will any regional power fear that the US and its allies will act to prevent them from emulating Iran. Say hello to a nuclear Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia.

    Iran, of course, secure now behind its nuclear wall, will surely step up its campaign of terror around the world. It will become even more of a magnet and haven for terrorists. The terror training grounds of Afghanistan were always vulnerable if the West had the resolve. Protected by a nuclear-missile-owning state, Iranian camps will become impregnable.

    And the kind of society we live in and cherish in the West, a long way from Tehran or Damascus, will change beyond recognition. We balk now at intrusive government measures to tap our phones or stop us saying incendiary things in mosques. Imagine how much more our freedoms will be curtailed if our governments fear we are just one telephone call or e-mail, one plane journey or truckload away from another Hiroshima …”

    I mentioned and linked Baker’s column in my post No. 81 last night because I was setting you up then for this exchange today. I’m inside your head and your OODA loop. You are SO predictable.

    Some of my pieces here (notably The Case for Invading Iran, as with some on Strategy Page) were written with the intent that my ideas be stolen with a glad heart. And they were. I quoted Baker’s op-ed here as a perfect example of this happening.

    Sometimes I intend to get points to the attention of particular people. Kissinger was one, and the phrase I used to get a memo on his desk with some of my ideas was: “… at which point the existing world order will break down …”. It is not necessary to plan the exact route in advance. In Kissinger’s case it was necessary to be familiar with his works and his “hot-button” phrases so his staff would eventually spot what I said, almost certainly via secondary sources such as Baker’s column, and bring it to his attention.

    As an example of this feeding chain at work, I expect Charles Krauthammer’s March 27 Time Magazine column was based on Baker’s January 27 Times of London column rather than my January 19 Case for Invading Iran.

    I told Joe at the time that the timing of the publication of The Case for Invading Iran was intended to insert my ideas at a particular point in the paperwork processing cycle of the NSC. Maybe I did and maybe I’m loony. I don’t care. Get the stuff out there and let the blogosphere take care of the rest.

    Ronald Reagan used to have a sign that said, “It’s amazing what you can get done in this city if you don’t worry about who takes the credit.”

    The blogosphere makes this possible in spades. See Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, by Hugh Hewitt, and An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths, by Glenn Reynolds.

    Thanks again, Marc, for providing this opportunity to explain to others how they can do it too.

  80. I don’t disagree one iota with anything in the quoted sentences from your article or Henry the K’s. Anyone who is truly paying attention shoud be able to see this… hell, I did back in 2003, when I wrote about it. Hence, also, the last sentences of my comment:

    bq. “Barring a truly horrific example being made of someone within the next decade, that is. Which may yet happen.”

    My beliefs in these realities are largely independent of my views re: what Iran or Israel will do before this comes to pass.

    Or my acknowledgment of the fact that J Thomas had a good point when he noted that gloom could be self-delusional or flat wrong as well – even if the underlying analysis is correct. For exhibit A, see JF Revel’s “How Democracies Perish,” which remains on target and incredibly relevant in many respects today – even though the West did not (happily for us, and for JFR too) end up losing to the USSR. The gloomy view could also be CORRECT, fo course… all he asks is that we acknowledge the possibility as we discuss this stuff.

    P.S. Good job playing your role in psychohistory. That’s what we’re all doing here. But Hari did stress the “large numbers/ crowd dynamics” aspect of it all quite firmly, so it’s good to remember that at best, we’re character actors in this play (more likely: extras).

  81. “…it’s good to remember that at best, we’re character actors in this play (more likely: extras)…”

    Lately I’ve been feeling more like the guy who cleans up the stage after the show.

    I’m glad somebody got the Asimov reference. I was afraid that A.L. had missed it.

  82. #84 J. Thoms

    Your pencil is sharp. Chock it up to keyboard fatigue. You are correct in your assumption. Thanks for the tip.

    Probably better said:

    Our political correctness, penchant to steer clear, and to give great deference to the religion of Islam is likely to bite us in the butt.

    More in line with my recent thinking there is no moral equivalency with Islamofascism. I would encourage all to read Robert Spencer’s reply to Dean Esmay regarding the Religion of Peace.

    RBT

  83. Joe, thank you for the kind words.

    I’d like to propose a concept from statistics. When you make a statistical estimate of something, it’s also possible to estimate a “confidence interval” that shows how good the estimate is. (Sometimes you can go farther and provide a probability distribution in place of just a single number estimate. And there’s the question how well your probability distribution matches the hypothetical real distribution….) For questions like how likely is it that iran would nuke israel, we can’t get data to do statistics — either they won’t get the opportunity, or they’ll have the opportunity and do it, or they’ll have the opportunity and not do it. One data point.But we can still guess how likely it would be, and we can make up a confidence interval on the guess.

    My own estimate for that particular question is about 1%. But I’m not at all confident about it. In my mind there’s a 1% chance that the reality is it’s above 99%. I think it’s real unlikely but I could be wrong, maybe really it’s very likely. I just don’t know enough.

    I see people who claim it’s 100%, and who say that every expert they respect agrees with them. But we’re talking about something unprecedented. I look at precedents like the maoist chinese (who were at least as fanatical and who got accused of the same things) and the pakistanis against india, and those make it look unlikely to me. Particularly they make it look unlikely that the experts who say they know it will happen are actually competent to say. But those precedents might not apply. And they look at things like muslim scripture and history, more precedents that probably don’t apply.

    So I’d suggest that an expert who is certain that iran would attack israel, who won’t concede that the chance might actually be as low as 20%, is probably fooling himself. We don’t have much data that’s clearly relevant — practically none. But experts pass opinions back and forth and fortify each other’s certainty, and that’s how so often we get a conventional wisdom that’s wrong.

    It’s important to notice how many men and dollars we’re ready to spend to prevent something that might be only 20% likely anyway.

  84. J.Thomas,

    Your posts in A.L.’s Libya thread above do not inspire confidence in your reasoning. Name-calling is not a subsitute for argument supported by citations to evidence.

    While you and Joe are correct that gloom can be delusional too, Damon Runyon’s comment is more convincing.

    “The race is not always to the swift, nor victory to the strong. But that’s the way to bet.”

  85. Tom –

    I’m really restraining myself here – but I’ll point out that your “I’m just getting a rise out of A.L.” is as predictable as my annoyance at having taken you seriously and watching my reputation get tainted by co-blogging with someone who says:

    “Sometimes I intend to get points to the attention of particular people. Kissinger was one, and the phrase I used to get a memo on his desk with some of my ideas was: “… at which point the existing world order will break down …”. It is not necessary to plan the exact route in advance. In Kissinger’s case it was necessary to be familiar with his works and his “hot-button” phrases so his staff would eventually spot what I said, almost certainly via secondary sources such as Baker’s column, and bring it to his attention.”

    Because, y’know Kissinger hadn’t spent a moment thinking about geopolitics, proliferation and Iran until his staff – who have been instructed carefully look for your words every day – brought your pellucid words to his attention.

    These are interesting and serious issues, and while you’ve got one thing right – the trend towards proliferation, and the fact that right now Iran is the horse most likely to try and break out ofthe barn first – it hasn’t exactly been a super-secret to anyone with a subscription to a major newspaper.

    And the notion that military force might be needed has been on the table since we invaded Iraq.

    But when you conflate yourself with characters from juvenile science fiction – and while Asimov is an admirable writer, his work is best appreciated before you’re 18 or 20 – you’re acting more like the Mule than like Seldon.

    I do have to keep from taking your stuff seriously – but hey, when you’ve got Kissenger who needs me or any of our other readers?

    A.L.

  86. J Thomas, Gartner Group already does this for many of their IT-related predictions – and it’s a very good model.

    To use it in geopolitics, one would say something like “A nuclear Iran is likely to use its capabilities against Israel within 5 years (60% confidence).” This puts forward the assertion, and flags the approximate confidence level in a way that will indeed lead to much more productive debates.

    I’m going to start using this more. Thanks for the reminder.

    For this debate, I’ll pick 3 key assertions and pair them with my personal confidence levels:

    95% – Acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran will spark a strong secondary proliferation spike and breakdown of global non-proliferation generally, as states in the Mideast and beyond rush to obtain such weapons as well.
    50% – Iran will use nuclear weapons within 5 years of acquiring them.
    80% – … within 15 years.
    25% – Israel will use nuclear weapons pre-emptively to prevent Iran from obtaining same. Note that the bit with Jews & Christians wearing designated symbols has upped this figure since the thread began.

    “I’d like to propose a concept from statistics. When you make a statistical estimate of something, it’s also possible to estimate a “confidence interval” that shows how good the estimate is. (Sometimes you can go farther and provide a probability distribution in place of just a single number estimate. And there’s the question how well your probability distribution matches the hypothetical real distribution….)”

  87. Re #94:

    AL, Andrew J Lazarus and even Tony Foresta have also had Guest Blog spots here, among many others. If you’re a co-blogger with Tom, then you and I are also co-bloggers with Tony Foresta.

    That piece of perspective will either restore your day, or ruin it.

  88. Your posts in A.L.’s Libya thread above do not inspire confidence in your reasoning. Name-calling is not a subsitute for argument supported by citations to evidence.

    Tom Holsinger, the thing about reasoning is that it’s transparent and visible. Make mistakes in reasoning and they show through real fast. It’s the assumptions that people reason from that are sometimes hidden.

    I didn’t do any namecalling in the libya thread. I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I have no idea why you’re bringing it up here instead of there, particularly since you claimed that you would not post anything else here including answers to my reasonable questions about your claims.

    Incidentally, I quoted some of your creative ideas elsewhere without attributing them to you. I apologise, and I’ll go back and say where they came from. I was in the middle of thinking about the topic. I just didn’t think about giving you credit for them then. I wasn’t trying to steal your stuff.

  89. Could it be in China’s interest for the US to attack Iran?

    Perhaps they have strategic goals of weakening the US militarily and financially and diplomatically, and perhaps another US launched invasion will further progress towards several of those goals?

    I hope I’m not being patronizing by pointing out the obvious, but it is beneficial to arrange for, or encourage, or cheer, when two enemies weaken each other by fighting, and one sits safely on the sideline watching for advantages to be played.

  90. Frank, I can expand on the conventional wisdom (CW a little about china.

    It would be very bad in the short run for china if the flow of oil from iran got interrupted. They don’t want that, and a war might easily have that result.

    It would be even worse in the medium run for china if the USA wound up controlling iran’s oil the way we control iraq’s oil. And that’s a guaranteed result of US victory.

    So china shouldn’t want a war. And if there is a war they should do what they can to prevent a US victory provided it doesn’t get them nuked.

    The obvious role for them is to somehow step in at the last minute and appear to prevent us from attacking iran. They come out looking to the world like the good guys who prevented the bloodthirsty crazy americans from another unilateral war of aggression. But how could they do that?

    They could perhaps get an agreement with iran to host chinese military bases in iran in strategic locations. So we can’t attack iran without attacking the chinese tripwire troops and starting a war with china. Like our troops in south korea. China has been utterly unable to project power outside of china, and that would be a first step in that direction. But it would take time to get set up, and we would probably attack first.

    China could announce a mutual defense pact with iran. Would china threaten to nuke us if we invade iran? The CW says no. They can’t stand getting nuked, they wouldn’t do it. On the other hand we can’t stand getting nuked either, would we back down or would we dog-double-dare them to go ahead and nuke us? The CW is that the chinese are sane sensible people who’d never do anything as stupid as get themselves nuked, while we’re Texas Hold*m cowboys who’ll always win by outbluffing the other guy. I don’t know what would happen. My guess is we’d back down even though it would hurt our international prestige. Because there’s something perverse about having a nuclear war with china to protect our right to invade iran to prevent a nuclear war with iran in 2 to 20 years. When if Tom is right the iran invasion itself might turn nuclear before October.

    The third thing I can see china possibly doing is to dump their dollars. We get instant depreciation of 30% to 90%, depending on how much panic it causes. (If you’re holding euros or something and the dollar gets a 90% depreciation, that’s a great time to buy dollars. Unless you think we’ll get nuked.) With 30% depreciation oil could go to $100/bbl. With 90%, for a little while that could be $700/bbl. But all that needn’t affect our war plans. Our foreign bases would get close to 50% more expensive (maybe 1000% for a short time). Our troops wouldn’t be buying much coffee in the airport in Brussels. But the plans for the air attack followed by invasion are already set in concrete and we might just go ahead and follow them. The various problems would take awhile to work through the world economy. The CW is that china wouldn’t do anything like that because it would hurt their economy. It’s a scam — as long as the world hasn’t agreed about how little our dollars are worth, the dollars the chinese have are officially worth a whole lot. But if they try to unload them then everybody will see they’re unloading and the scam fails, and they have to admit their dollars aren’t worth that much. They have to play along with the scam or else admit how much they’ve been taken for. Opposed to the CW, I figure that if the chinese are looking for an alternative to a game of nuclear chicken, writing off their investment in dollars might look real attractive. It might not save iran but it could easily eliminate our pretensions to superpower status.

    The CW is that china will stay backed off and not do anything at all to annoy us, except probably fail to accept UN Security Council resolutions against iran. Maybe the CW is right. The chinese might figure they can sit back and watch us self-destruct without having to do anything themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>