Thursday, August 7, 2008

Iran and Military Options

There is a flurry of new reports this week that Israel is considering its military options against Iran and its nuclear program. Links to some reports and a good general discussion are set out by Spook at In from the Cold.
Count me a skeptic about the Israelis pursuing a military option. The ranges are long, the targets too dispersed and probably hardened. Absent the use of nuclear weapons (unthinkable without an actual Iranian attack on Israel) I'm not sure the Israelis have the weight to do enough damage to Iran or its program (much less killing the scientists and the institutions that give the Persians the capability) to justify the political problems created by such an action.
I think similar considerations (politically at least) would hobble a US effort.
The Iranians have essentially won this hand. If Iran wants nuclear devices, there is not a usable military option available to stop them at the moment. The only way they can lose at this point is by being over-truculent and forcing the outside world's hand. However, the regime is sailing very close to the wind, and there is a strong possibility that the Mullahs and "Mad Jad" Ahmadinejad could bluster themselves into a real war by mistake.
The mullahs' weakness is that they need political confrontation with America and the west (at least on this issue) for much the same reasons that Chavez in Venezuela does. The mullahs have made such a hopeless mess, economically, spiritually and politically, of Iran that a foreign threat is imperative to keep the regime out of serious trouble. For the mullahs (and us) the problem is that the consequences of the confrontation ever becoming violent cannot adequately be predicted: a few raids would no doubt unite the public behind the regime; but if the world becomes afraid enough, a real war could destroy both them and their country.
The desire for nuclear power and nuclear weapons unites both the regime and its enemies. Halting Iranian nuclear programs politically is simply unlikely to occur. The Iranian nuclear program is dangerous not for itself, but because the mullah regime is dangerous, and wants to overturn the political order of the Gulf region, and beyond.
Change the issue a little. The Iranian nuclear program is the wrong target. The Iranian regime, which is both unpopular and criminal -- and more vulnerable politically than the nuclear program -- is the right one.


louielouie said...

i pretty much agree with EJM I about the outside military options not happening.
i am one of those, however, whose natural dislike of all things persian, would prevent the persians from getting the bomb, just because we can. it has something to do with an individual i'm sure EJM I is not very fond of, william tecumseh sherman, being cloned by the thousands and turned loose in persia and given free reign.
i digress.
where i deviate somewhat from EJM I is that he implies that the only way to change iran is from within. you know, sort of like electing a marxist/leninist president of the US.
i digress.
now how does the question go?
how many million persians will the mullahs instruct the stopngo clerk to kill to keep them in power, or is it, the little stopngo clerk would kill how many million persians to carry out the wishes of the mullahs? heck, i wouldn't even kill near that many.
no, there will be no popular, or unpopular uprising in iran. not for a couple hundred years at least.
my former boss used to tell me much the same thing like EJM I.
he take good picture, no?
the greater and more imminent threat to israel is hamass and the hezzys, iranian proxies of course. this will occur after the kadima elections, and especially if livni can put together a gov't thus preventing general elections. with bibi locked out for the present, it will be game on for iran.
the stopngo clerk will sacrifice every manwomanchild in gaza, lebanon, and syria to drain and/or bankrupt the joooos.
i think the long term threat from iran to the US will be when they give their nuclear technology people to chavez.
so to my way of thinking do you kill 'em now to prevent having to kill a stronger enemy down the road?
that will be for the heir to blog about.
it may start something like this, WHAT IN THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING????
i digress.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I did not mean to imply that I'm for tamely sitting back and letting the Mullahs call the tune, or banking too much on "change from within."

The middle east is full of people who don't like the Persians, and who have old and new gripes with them. The Saudis, among others, are scared to death, and Iraq is full of Sunnis who, however much they don't like us, like the Persians a good deal less. Then there are Kurds, Azeris, various kinds of Afghans, Marsh Arabs, Qashqai, Baluchis, a few Gulf statelets with fears and grudges...

Then there's a galaxy of exiles, two or three different kinds of monarchists, disgruntled Islamic Republicans, plain Republicans, Baha'is, communists.

The Iranians are already running a covert war on us and our allies in Iraq. Their weapons are killing and wounding our soldiers both there and in Afghanistan.

They're staking Hezbollah -- which is practically the Iranian foreign legion; and Hamas. Maybe the Mullahs would curb their mayhem making a little if there was a little more pushback ?

The Iranian-Iraqi border is long, and with lots of rough terrain. Other borders are similar, and the place has a long sea frontier. Smuggling trouble as the Iranians are and have been doing can work two ways.

Wouldn't be it good to pay the Mullahs for the trouble they're making for us in their own coin? There's all kinds of mischief we can stir up. If we haven't got counterfitters and facilities that can turn out thousands of millions of world-beating copies of the Iranian rial, I'll eat any hat you care to name. We have plenty of good beer and liquor, the world's best porn and plenty of banned items to smuggle buyers in Iran who'd pay good money that'd drive the Iranian police, the mullahs and Revolutionary Guard absolutely crazy and that they'd have to make efforts to run down. We have access to ample munitions, and there are thousands of willing hands who would be pleased to use them where they'd do the most damage to the regime.

Actually, I'm sure we're already doing plenty in this line. But there's room for more -- ramping this us to an industrial scale. We could make the Iranian regime pay a much bigger price than it seems to be for messing with us.

louielouie said...

i stumbled onto this tonight.

you could call it, fun with ted and ronnie; or, can ted and ronnie come out and play?

El Jefe Maximo said...

I saw is interesting, isn't it?