Sunday, September 02, 2007

Two Dimensional

Much like North Korea has decided to rely on nuclear weapons to deter foreign attack and spies to keep the population under control, Iran is seeking the same capabilities. The reason North Korea chose this route is because their armed forces have atrophied since their loss of Soviet support (This basic strategy to survive is why I doubt Pyongyang is serious about disarming. But I'm happy enough if talks drag on to allow North Korea to collapse). Iran's armed forces have deteriorated after 30 years of Western embargoes and 8 years of war with Iraq (1980-1988).

Despite scary press releases, Iran's military is duct-taped together:

For decades, Iran has continually boasted of new, Iranian designed and manufactured weapons, only to have the rather more somber truth leak out later. Iran's weapons design capabilities are primitive, but the government has some excellent publicists, who always manage to grab some headlines initially, before anyone can question the basic facts behind these amazing new weapons.

But the difference between the two is that while North Korea truly is striving for regime survival, Iran is seeking offensive capabilities. Iran wants to spread their influence within Shia Islam and ultimately dominate the Moslem world. Ahmadinejad himself may want to spark the end of the world, but others traveling along with him surely aren't that insane--they'll settle for supreme power in the Moslem world.

Even though Iran's armed forces are inadequate for offensive action, Iran has stepped up terror against Iraqis and our forces inside Iraq:

In a late interview Saturday night, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said that during recent talks with the Iranians in Baghdad, the U.S. and Iraqi sides had demanded an end to Tehran's alleged support for the militias.

"We want an end to Iranian support to some fanatical militias that are fighting coalition and Iraqi forces. We also want an end to the shelling of the Green Zone, we want an end to training those militias. This is what we and the Iraqi government want and until now there has been no positive response on the ground," he said in the interview on state television, speaking in Arabic.

He added that it was "important for everyone to understand" that the U.S. was trying to solve its differences with Iran and its ally Syria through political and diplomatic means.

But Iran knows that supporting terror can bring down America's full military power. Bin Laden enjoying his cave condo somewhere in Pakistan and Saddam's execution are reminders of that possible future for the mullahs of Iran. Iranians can't afford to discount this outcome no matter what they read in the papers about our Congressional debates.

So the shield of nuclear weapons--even if never used to satisfy that deep urge among the whackiest of the wacko mullahs to nuke Israel and bring back that Twelfth Imam--could keep America from responding with conventional weapons no matter how high the run-of-the-mill whackjob Iranian mullahs escalate terrorism.

And the Iranians are moving forward on this front no matter how many times the IAEA praises Iran for promises to cooperate and no matter that the UN threatens even more sanctions. The latest:

"The West thought the Iranian nation would give in after just a resolution, but now we have taken another step in the nuclear progress and launched more than 3,000 centrifuge machines, installing a new cascade every week," the state television Web site quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

Nukes, spooks, and kooks.

Not that Iran's hollow military is anything that helps us practically speaking by itself. This only means that if Iran attacks with conventional forces to try and stop our accumulating victory in Iraq, we'd smash their forces in the field, at sea, or in the air. But a nation of Iran's size cannot be occupied by our military if their people resist us. Iran's lack of conventional military power to defend their territory is moot for now (once Iraq recovers, Iran's vulnerability will be real--another reason that Iran doesn't actually want stability in Iraq as so many here insist).

In the end, we must spark a revolt of Iranians that overthrow the regime. Without the kooks, there will be no nukes or spooks threatening us. Actually, this is another avenue that Iran's military weakness could be exploited. If the Iranian people (or just important elements of the miltiary) revolt, we could use our military power to help keep the regime from using their remnant military power against the people of Iran.

Is our CIA so hobbled by politics that it couldn't in the last four years have given us the capability of supporting a real revolt in Iran?

Unfortunately, as even the French now recognize, an aerial campaign to knock back Iran's nuclear programs could be our only choice if Iran appears to go nuclear.