Saturday, August 25, 2012

And These Are Significant ... How?

Those who say attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would be counter-productive amuse me--in a we're so screwed if our so-called best and brightest believe this rot sort of way. They simultaneously dismiss the problem of Iran's nukes and inflate the ability of Iran to counter-attack. All while denying that Iran has any nuclear ambitions that are really dangerous, anyway. These arguments are, to use a technical term, "stupid."

We have another contestant in the genre. This time from Britain:

First and foremost, war with Iran would be a terrible option for Israel. The Iranian people would probably respond to outside attack by rallying behind their leaders and strengthening a deeply unpopular regime.

Iran would hit back through Hizbollah in Lebanon and by trying to close the Strait of Hormuz, imposing civilian casualties on Israel and a grave burden on the global economy. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad would have the opportunity to pose alongside Iran as a dual victim of a Zionist plot.

The best that Israel’s air force could achieve would be to delay – not derail – Iran’s nuclear ambitions. ...

In fact, the military option might well be wholly counterproductive. The American, British and Israeli governments all share the same assessment of Iran’s intentions: they believe the country’s leaders want the ability to build a nuclear weapon, but have not yet decided whether to actually go ahead and exercise the option.

Let's address the significance of the objections--folly-wise.

Let's see, somehow having an Iran with people who love their Israel-hating rulers would be more dangerous than having an Iran with people who hate their Israel-hating rulers. Why? In what way would Iran's rulers behave differently toward Israel if Iran's people rallied around the flag? The key is the question of whether Iran's rulers hate Israel and whether they have nukes. Would it really be comforting for Israelis to know that the majority of Iran's people really feel really, really awful about how their government nuked Israel?

Plus, I don't accept the premise. Perhaps in the short run there will be some rally around the flag effect. But in time, the people will resume their dislike for all the things they hate about the regime that impoverishes them and oppresses them and kills them. Remember, we had a rally-around-the-flag effect here after 9/11. But by 2004, the Democratic Party no longer rallied around the president; by 2008, a majority of the voters no longer rallied around the president and his party; and by 2012, a majority of the people no longer rally around the war in Afghanistan begun in the aftermath of 9/11.

Second, looking at ways Iran might fight back isn't a reason not to attack Iran--it's a reason to prepare for overt war. Remember, Iran has already killed lots of Americans in Iraq (and British troops, too, who held the Basra region for so long), in Afghanistan, in Lebanon (in the 1980s), and that whole embassy invasion thing. Iran has been at war with the West since they took power.

But what of those counter-attacks?

Hezbollah doesn't seem so eager to fight at Iran's side when Iran is not physically at their side. Hezbollah will be all by themselves if they attack Israel since Assad is busy, Iran is far away, and Hamas is weak. If Hezbollah does fight, Israel will defeat them and Iran will lose another tool.

Will Iran try to close the Strait of Hormuz? Maybe. But closing it hurts them, too. They might not try to close it and simply try to survive and rebuild without further damage. But they might try to close Hormuz. And we will try to keep it open. The last time Iran tried to interfere with traffic in the Persian Gulf, we kept the waterway open. I imagine we can do it again. I imagine that lots of Europeans who didn't care if Iran nukes Israel will care that oil no longer flows to them. Like in the 1980s, European ships will join our fleet.

Don't forget that Iran's military is very weak in the air and at sea, where sanctions have a bigger effect than on ground troops. If Iran's screeching and fling poo don't scare us off, we will prevail and smash Iran's attempts to close the strait.

And so what if Iran and Syria pose as victims of a Zionist plot? Don't they do that every day? Assad tried that early in the crisis and the people didn't respond by rallying around the flag.

You do recall that Israel in 2007 bombed Syria's reactor under construction with North Korean assistance, right? Yet in 2011, that horrible memory of being under Israeli attack didn't stop Syrians from revolting against their rulers. Huh.

Further, so what if the attack only buys time? Of course it only buys time! Who in the world ever claimed that it would be the perfect solution that solved the problem of nuts with nukes for the rest of eternity?

But we need that time! Heck, maybe in a few years, after that rally-around-the-flag effect has worn off, Iranians will revolt and we might actually support that revolt rather than reach out to the dangerous mullahs who rule Iran.

The last objection, that Iran hasn't actually made the decision to possess a nuclear bomb rather than just the ability to rapidly build a nuclear bomb is just idiotic.

One, if the decision is real rather than subterfuge to keep us from attacking until Iran can build a bomb, doesn't that undermine the idea that Iran wants nukes to deter us? After all, nukes only deter an American attack if the nukes exist. Having "the ability to build a nuclear weapon" rather than having an actual nuclear weapon arguably reduces deterrence rather than strengthens it, no?

And if Iran doesn't really worry that we will complete our decades-long preparations to invade them and have a go at them, but wants nukes for other reasons, what is the difference between having the capability to build nukes quickly and having some nukes?

Iran will still have the prestige of being a nuclear power that will intimidate enemies and either inspire those neighbors to slowly slide into Iran's orbit or seek nuclear weapons on their own. Welcome to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. How counter-productive is failing to stop Iran when you consider that?

Then there is the problem of whether or not having a nuke or two will lead Iran to make good on their rulers' vision of a world without Israel, who they famously believe is a "one-nuke state" vulnerable to destruction by only a single well-placed nuclear explosion.

In the end, the objections are just an excuse to do nothing.

Oh, the writer has one last attempt to appear non-idiotic. He says that if we detect Iran making an effort to turn capabilities into hardware, our calculations would change and he implies we would have the option of attacking.

Right. Our record on that isn't very good. And gathering the will and assets to do the job would take time--perhaps too much time to stop that decision to build hardware. Or does the British author think America should keep sufficient military forces poised around Iran in perpetuity in order to keep that option alive?

In the end, I'd bet that we would fail to detect Iran's crossing of the nuclear threshold in time to stop them. And once Iran has nukes, you can bet the calculations will change again--sorry, chaps, it is too late to do anything at all about Iran's nukes. Blood shame.

Iran under the mullahs with nukes is a problem the world should not try to justify, explain, or blow up into a problem too great to be solved. We should destroy the Iranian regime and if we can't do that, we must delay their possession of nuclear weapons capabilities for as long as possible.