IRAN - WHO WILL BELL THE CAT & AT WHAT COST?
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“But sometime, fairly soon, we will run out of words. POTUS will be forced to bell the cat or forever be condemned by history. Who wants to be remembered as the leader who blew the last best chance to prevent the nuclear exchange that destroyed Jerusalem and Teheran and allowed the A-bombs to get in the hands of the terrorists who destroyed New York and Washington, DC?”
THE IRAN CHALLENGE
“Nuclear Proliferation” is a weasel phrase. Its overuse obscures the stark gravity of our peril.
Try this one: “CHEAP A-BOMBS FOR TERRORISTS”
Or this one: “THE NUKES FOR THUGS PROGRAM”
Or this one: “THE PRESIDENT LOSES THE NEW YORK VOTE BY LOSING MANHATTAN”
There is no middle ground.
Either we quickly contract the number of A-bomb triggers to a small circle of highly prudent and responsible agencies or that deadly trigger access will swiftly break out of all civilized control. With shocking speed, access to A-bombs will expand to include terrorists, thugs, loosely wrapped fanatics and irresponsible idiots. In that grim scenario (it is unfolding before our very eyes), we won’t just be talking about an accidental first use of these brutally efficient city busters. In the next few YEARS, we’ll be talking (if we are among the survivors) about the first second, third, fourth & umpteenth...intentional use - about atomic bomb genocidal detonation.
The trouble with mass murder is that the sheer scale of its evil clouds the mind and (for some) generates paralyzing denial. In 1935 almost no one foresaw the sheer horrific scale of the looming Nazi holocaust. But it happened. Yet there are still deniers. Such are our species’ misplaced powers of denial.
So I invite you to look at this issue at a more manageable scale.
Surely there at least ten innocent people about whom you care enough to stand up to a real, immanent threat to their safety (I think of ten laughing children I know and love).
Imagine them together in a park. It is a warm, pleasant day, a mild breeze stirs leaves. They hear the susurrant sounds of a nearby brook, the music of birds. Suddenly an actinic flash from a couple of miles away; they scream in fear; cry for help.
Where are YOU? You are far away in complete safety while a tide of fire and flying debris buries them - all of them...and 750,000 more.
NOTE: This was done on purpose. It was an Evil act. NOTE: It will happen again...and again...
Through your horror, anguish, grief and guilt, a tide on anger arises. Who allowed this to happen! Why didn’t somebody DO something?
DOING SOMETHING PRACTICAL ABOUT THE UNTHINKABLE
There is no substitute for moral and practical realism: Here are two truisms: The world’s predators will pounce on irresolute pacifists. Warmongers will bring about war.
But faced with these two blurry fence posts, politicians tend to muddle about in the ineffectual middle. The stakes are too high for confused, muddling politicans
When a single nation or group of nations acting in concert, embark on a careful, but ruthlessly practical eradication program to separate thugs, terrorists, loosely wrapped fanatics and irresponsible idiots from access to atomic bombs, it is manifestly NOT ‘warmongering’.
When the same nation or alliance unilaterally disables its own capacity and will to employ appropriate force, as necessary, against the irresponsible idiots, thugs, terrorists and loosely wrapped fanatics who are determined to embrace atomic bombs, an old story replays itself: The irresolute pacifists who have been repeatedly flattened by ruthless authoritarian aggression are flattened once again.
We have arrived, as a nation and as a people, at a decision fork with profound significance.
The Iranian theocracy, a militant regime fully capable of mass murder, actively promoting deadly terrorist attacks, ruthlessly suppressing internal dissent, has refined enough uranium to quickly produce up to a dozen A-bombs. It has simultaneously upgraded its missile delivery system. It now has the capability to achieve quick ‘breakout’ -- the swift fabrication of REAL atomic bombs and target delivery capabilities.
Intelligence agencies argue about WHEN this will take place but not WHETHER.
Many suspect that there are additional, covert facilities that are part of the breakout strategy.
From the frame of reference of Iran’s ruling theocracy, all of the incentives favor pressing forward...and none militate in favor of abandoning the effort. A fait accompli will – at least as the ruling clique sees it - confer instant superpower status and cause the intervention paralysis of the USA and West.
If allowed to happen this will break the proliferation dam. A lesson will ripple throughout the world. IT CAN BE DONE. The first incinerated city of the 21st century will just be a matter of time.
On the other hand, if Iran is brought sharply into line, by using sufficient means – including judicious military force as needed - a different lesson will ripple throughout the world. IT JUST ISN’T WORTH IT.
If Mr. Obama’s apparent irresolution continues (we can only hope that it is a feint) and Iran succeeds in its ‘breakout plan’, the last liberal democrat for two generations will have poisoned the well for all those who would have followed. If a nuclear Iran “acts out” - or another terrorist ‘event’ touches the USA in the next few years - Mr. Obama’s party will be effectively banned from power for 25 years.
For once the political stakes match the moral stakes.
APPENDIX & LINKS:
2-20-09 - LA Times: “Iran steadfastly denies that it hopes to build an atomic bomb, which the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says violates the principles of Islam. It insists its nuclear program is intended solely to produce energy for Iran's growing population. But the U.S., Europe and Israel suspect Iran is trying to attain a nuclear weapons capacity that could have strategic implications for the Middle East.
By crossing the 2,205-pound threshold, experts say, Iran has improved its "breakout" capacity, the ability to renege on treaty obligations, kick out inspectors and quickly build a bomb.” LINK: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/20/world/fg-iran-nuclear20
3 9-09 “In a chilling indication that Iran's arms program is advancing steadily, Israel acknowledged for the first time that Teheran had mastered the technology to make a nuclear bomb on the same day that the Iranians announced they had successfully tested a new air-to-surface missile. Iran has ‘crossed the technological threshold,’ and its attainment of nuclear military capability is now a matter of ‘incorporating the goal of producing an atomic bomb into its strategy,’ OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet on Sunday. LINK: http://israelinsider.ning.com/profiles/blogs/israeli-intelligence-chief
9-15-09 The Wall Street Journal: “Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail ... it is an abdication of a superpower's responsibility to outsource matters of war and peace to another state, however closely allied. President Obama has now ceded the driver's seat on Iran policy to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would do better to take the wheel again, keeping in mind that Iran is beyond the reach of his eloquence...”
9-10-09 New York Times: “American intelligence agencies have concluded in recent months that Iran has created enough nuclear fuel to make a rapid, if risky, sprint for a nuclear weapon. LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/world/middleeast/10intel.html
My Post, Hillary’s Trial Balloon – “The administration already knows that diplomacy will fail to deter Iran and Hillary knows that the current national security team has no stomach for the necessary military action to prevent the preeminent Middle East terror sponsoring regime from getting the A-bomb. The pending question has been answered: Who will bell the cat? No one. We apparently will be relying on the catnip/blind mice defense.” LINK: http://jaygaskill.com/blog3/2009/07/hillarys_trial_baloon_stopping.html
My Post, A Letter to Rahm Emanuel – “...any attack by the IDF on Iran will bring retaliation on Israel. The estimates of the retaliatory casualties inflicted on the Israeli population are about 100,000, unless and until defenses are hardened, in which case the estimates fall to a “mere” 10,000 or so. So the timing issue is complicated by intelligence uncertainties and defense preparedness logistics. All Americans need to understand the scale of the threat to the Israelis, as I’m sure you do. The US population is about 305 million while Israel has only 7.5 m. The multiplier is 40.666, which means that 100,000 dead Israelis is the equivalent of 4.666 million dead Americans, a “symbolic” holocaust to be sure and the cause for great rejoicing in Tehran.LINK:
9-16-09 -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated his country’s intelligence community has learned without a doubt that Tehran’s nuclear program is motivated by military goals, to build a nuclear bomb, and not medical, educational and research as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have the world believe. LINK: http://theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/39499/France+Expresses+Increasing+Concern+Over+Iranian+Nuclear+Program.html
My Post, Mr. Obama, the “Nuke Whisperer”? Don’t bet your life on it....
I was not thrilled with the President Bush’s approach to the Korean problem (though no one consulted me or shared covert Intel) and I have no particular reason to expect our current president will improve that situation with adroit diplomacy. Iran remains as intractable as ever to diplomacy and “soft power”.
I recommend a wonderful comic riff on this, by Andy Borowitz (LINK http://www.borowitzreport.com/article.aspx?ID=7029 ).
It begins with “One day after North Korea launched a successful test of a nuclear weapon, President Obama said that the United States was prepared to respond to the threat with "the strongest possible adjectives."
But sometime, fairly soon, we will run out of adjectives and will be forced to use verbs.
POTUS will be forced to bell the cat or forever be condemned by history. Who wants to be remembered as the leader who blew the last best chance to prevent the nuclear exchange that destroyed Jerusalem and Teheran, Seoul and Pyongyang, and allowed the A-bombs to get in the hands of the terrorists who destroyed New York and Washington, DC?
Three presidents have kicked the can down the road. Sometime soon, POTUS will stub a toe....