Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The Iranian Problem
Which way forward?
Most commenters seem to think Israel would perform a surgical strike targeting Iran's nuclear facilities. My own belief is that they would attack everything military in Iran, from RG barracks and motor pools, to airfields and aircraft revetments, to missile sites, and command centers, along with any nuclear sites known. They would be particularly careful to hit all of the anti--air capabilities they could find, because they must have a sustained attack over Iran for days, if not for weeks, to hit all they can. I believe they would fly missions against the Gulf missile sites as well in the course of the week or weeks. Instead of simply trying to delay the nuclear program, they would go for denuding Iran of all the military hardware they could, and then, at more leisure go for the nuclear sites.
It is obvoius really, that any attack on Iran is cause for a declaration of war by Iran against Israel. Therefore, Israel wants to take out Iran's air defense capabilities and retaliatory capabilities up front, insofar as possible from the air. Their dig-em-out missions may well be performed by C-130 transport planes carrying the Israeli version of MOABs, just as we have done with our MOABS. You need air superiority for that to happen.
Thus, it is not at all surprising that Israel would want a lot of time to prepare this air offensive, since many items would need to be produced and stockpiled in advance, including the MOABs. If, as one has suggested, the Israelis plan to use tactical or larger nuclear weapons, that too would require preparation time, right up to the limit. Their home defenses would have to be prepared against Hesbollah and Hamas retaliatory actions as well, which takes even more time. I fear that time is running out now.
How does one deal with "nuclear Iran?" Since there would be an ever present threat of nuclear engagement between Iran and Israel, the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction rears its head as the only practical approach. MAD makes the assumption of two rational actors in the set, whereas in this case, I seriously question the rationality of the Iranian leaders that hold the trigger. If one examines their public statements over the past years, their religious ferver just might be more than bluster and connivance. Then too, there is the question of their stability in power and how to maintain it.
In any event, should the Israelis gamble with the lives of their people on a bet that the Iranian leadership would or would not pull the trigger? There have been over six years of negotiations with Iran to stop their program. Talk has not worked and will not work.
I could also believe that with their currently-thought-to-be nuclear superiority, the Israelis might sooner or later decide to try for a silicon-fused and electronically- fried Iran to eliminate the threat, and the agonizing fears of virtually total annihilation of the Israeli people, once and for all. In fact, that approach might best be undertaken very soon now, if ever, before the retaliatory capabilities of Iran grow. Of all the surprises, this one appears to me to be the greatest that the Israelis might employ, since it condemns many Iranians to a nuclear holocaust, something Israelis would not decide to do lightly.
As for continuing to live with that nuclear sword over their heads for years, and with zero faith in MAD, I seriously doubt it would last for very long. The greater the pressure from Iran or its minions Hesbollah, Hamas and Syria on matters of land, water, trade, blockades, fences or other concessions, the more likely the ultimate response from Israel. Any lesser response might then be fatal to Israel as well.
From the US viewpoint, and from a stability of the ME view, a nuclear Iran is quite unacceptable. We must not allow the Iranians the option of holding our population centers hostage to their atomic threats while they pursue a lesser aggression in the ME, nor can we sit back and allow Iran to pass a nuclear device to a terrorist group. Thus, we have vital interest in stopping the Iranian nuclear program.