Iran: If Diplomacy Fails
July 9, 2008
▪ Iran is well down the path to producing nuclear weapons.
▪ Diplomatic efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program have produced no tangible results.
▪ Iran believes it can continue to play the "shape of the table” and "hide the neutron” games until its nuclear weapons production facilities are operational.
▪ When Iran has manufactured a stockpile of nuclear weapons it will act on its pledge to "Wipe Israel off the map.”
▪ Iran created Hezbollah, which it sponsors along with other terrorist groups, and may provide one or more of them nuclear devices to be detonated in a Western city or cites.
▪ Israel believes Iran is serious and must stop Iran’s nuclear program if the U.S. doesn’t.
▪ If attacked by the U.S. or Israel, Iran says it will close the Strait of Hormuz, and launch missiles at Israel and U.S. bases within reach of its missiles.
▪ If Israel bombs Iranian facilities, it will be attacked by Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran, and possibly Egypt and Pakistan.
In light of the above, what should the U.S. do? What can the U.S. do? The following examines realistic possibilities and their consequences.
Israel Bombs Iranian Nuclear Facilities
Iran’s known nuclear facilities are spread over a very large geographical area, and Iran has surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and fighter aircraft. Iran purchased twenty-nine Tor-M1 SAM system from Russia, and is attempting to purchase the upgraded S-300PMU SAM system also know as the SA-10 Grumble. To have any chance of success, Israel would have to launch a surprise attack before the new S-300PMU is operational, and even so Israel would lose most, if not all, of its attack aircraft.
Israel is capable of taking out one, two, or possibly three of Iran’s nuclear facilities. An Israeli attack, if successful, would delay Iran’s nuclear program a few months, or at the most a couple of years.
U.S. Blockades Iran
U.S. Congressional Resolution 362 and U.S. Senate Resolution 580 have been introduced and fast tracked for passage. The resolutions effectively require a naval blockade on Iran which some experts say amounts to an act of war. Resolution 362 calls on the president to stop all shipments of refined petroleum products from reaching Iran. It also "demands" that the President impose "stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran."
U.S. Bombs Iranian Nuclear Facilities
The U.S. has the capability of simultaneously striking know Iranian nuclear facilities; however, many additional sorties would be required to ensure total destruction. As discussed above, Iran has SAMs and fighters, which they will use to defend against U.S. aircraft. Thus, these threats must be neutralized before bombers enter Iranian air space. In other words, the U.S. would have to launch a surprise attack on Iran—or declare its intentions before the actual attack. Either would be an act of war.
Iran’s Response to an Attack on Its Nuclear Facilities or a Blockade
If Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran, backed by most or all of the regional governments, will retaliate and then invade Israel. Unless the U.S. intervenes, Israel will be destroyed. Intervention would place U.S. troops in combat with Syrian, Iranian, and other Muslim troops.
If the U.S. fails to immediately defend Israel, will Israel go quietly into the history books?
On the other hand, if the U.S. does the bombing, Iran will probably respond by letting loose their terrorist cells located in the U.S. homeland, Palestine, and Lebanon. Iran will also launch their missiles at Israel and U.S. bases within range. Next, Iran would make good on its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. An assumption backed up by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who said in an interview with NBC’s Richard Engle on July 2nd, "If the Jewish state were to attack, they ‘will regret’ such a move...Tehran would not show any distinction between an attack by Israel and the U.S.” A clear indication of Iran’s intent to retaliate against both the U.S. and Israel.
Iran will hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and American interests around the world if it is attacked over its disputed nuclear activities, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader was quoted as saying on Tuesday, July 8th.
The Strait of Hormuz is the choke point for a major portion of Middle Eastern oil shipped by supertankers. "The US Navy and its Gulf allies will not allow Iran to seal off the strategic Strait of Hormuz,” said Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the 5th Fleet on July 2nd. The author assumes, based upon the words "seal off” the admiral means he will not allow Iran’s navy to blockade in the Strait, something Iran would probably not attempt. Instead, Iran can effectively block the narrow strait by sinking several super tankers in it. Iran has in place land-based anti-ship cruise missiles that place all ships in the Persian Gulf in danger, including the 5th Fleet. Blocking—not blockading—the Strait of Hormuz will impact the world’s oil supply, and could start WWIII.
Continuing to have talks offering juicy carrots while threatening with small sticks will have the same results as similar diplomacy had in 1939. An Islamic fanatic, a self-styled Hitler, will start a regional war that can quickly flash into WWIII. Iran’s most recent reply was to consider having more talks.
A Combined Force Declaration—A Big Stick
Western nations band together and tell Iran to either stop its nuclear weapons program, or face destruction by Western militaries. Iran will either completely meet Western demands for unfettered inspections throughout the country or face immediate destruction of a major asset.
Power is the currency of respect in the Middle East, and a demonstration of power will be required before Iran takes a combined force declaration seriously. What type of demonstration? One that would not only demonstrate the West’s power, but one that demonstrates the West’s willingness to use that power.
Does anyone think such a plan can be formulated and executed in the next year?
So, what’s left?
The Nuclear Option
The first possibility discussed—Israel bombs Iranian nuclear facilities—concluded with the question: If the U.S. fails to immediately defend Israel, will Israel go quietly into the history books?
It’s time to consider the answer.
Israel has a nuclear option. If one assumes Israel makes the same calculations discussed above, they may reach the following conclusions:
▪ A conventional attack will accomplish little and could well result in Israel’s destruction.
▪ If the U.S. has not acted by a date certain, Israel must, or be destroyed.
▪ If Israel must act alone, the only viable option that provides a chance for survival is a nuclear strike on Iran.
▪ A nuclear strike, an annihilation strike, will prevent any retaliation by Iran.
▪ Power is a measure of respect, and absolute power equates to absolute respect.
Are There Alternatives?
By now some readers are shocked, some outraged, and some will immediately present many different options. Others will discount the assumptions, and for them this discussion is meaningless. But in the cold hard light of day, the options will finally boil down to the ones presented.
In the past the West has dealt with what some have called evil men controlling evil empires. Those evil men had one thing in common; they did not want to die. Hitler did not become suicidal until he realized Soviet troops would soon be knocking on his bunker’s door. Being a dead dictator is no fun. Thus, the evil men of the last century responded to the logic of mutually assured destruction, MAD. If you kill me, I will kill you and we all die. Not an attractive future for dictators.
Entering the 21st Century, the West faces the emergence of an old enemy, a 1,400 year old enemy, who’s fundamental component still believes it is their duty to implement Allah’s commandment that all must bow down to Him. These fundamentalists, some call them fanatics, dream of reestablishing the Islamic Empire, the Caliphate, and then expanding it to govern new lands and finally the world. This component of Islam is know by several names: Islamofascists, radical Islamic fundamentalists, jihadists, to name a few—but, as Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name will still smell as sweet. Today Shakespeare might say, a fanatic by any other name is still a fanatic.
Fueled by oil revenues, radical Islam is expanding out of the Middle East. It is well established in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is growing in several African nations, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey. Whether the leaders, the Ahmadinejads, ayatollahs, mullahs, and imams really believe that dying doing God’s work guarantees a first class ticket to Paradise is unimportant, because their followers do believe it and will gladly die for their religion. Some of the fanatics believe a war is necessary to bring back the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi or the "Guided One,” a mythical savior who will lead victorious Islamic armies to victory for Allah
The dilemma we find ourselves in is one of our own creation. The longer we wait to act, the more horrendous the options become.
Of course there is another possibility—we can all recite "There is no God by Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger” three times, and then bow down to Allah.