How “imminent” is the Iranian nuclear threat?

Chess "Israel and its chief ally the United States charge that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop atomic weapons — claims that Tehran flatly denies.Senior Israeli army intelligence officer Yossi Beidetz told parliament’s foreign affairs and defence ministry that Iran could acquire the bomb by 2009."Assuming Iran is not faced with difficulties, the most severe scenario is that Iran could have a nuclear bomb by the end of 2009," Beidetz was quoted by committee members as saying.Israel, which belongs to the IAEA but has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole — if undeclared — nuclear-armed nation.It considers Iran its chief enemy after repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be wiped off the map.Last month, on a tour of UN Security Council members to push for tougher sanctions against Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also criticised the IAEA chief."If ElBaradei thinks that an Iranian bomb in three years time does not bother him, it certainly worries me, even extremely," Olmert said in France."It would be better if ElBaradei made an effort to prevent them from obtaining a bomb."ElBaradei said in an interview with France’s Le Monde newspaper that Iran would need "between three and eight years" to develop a nuclear bomb and that there were was no immediate threat."I want to get people away from the idea that Iran represents a clear and present danger and that we’re now facing the decision whether to bombard Iran or let them have the bomb. We’re not in that situation at all," he said. "  Yahoo News


It is increasingly clear that Israel’s fear of an annihilating Iranian "first strike" on its handful of cities is driving the world towards the possibility of another war in the Middle East. 

Israeli government strategic thinking does not include a reliance on MAD (mutual assured destruction) as a basis for nuclear deterrence.   The Israelis reason that their population would not survive a nuclear first strike.  The list of targeted cities would be small and the same cities might be targeted several times,  The gamble that anti-missile defenses would defeat such an attack is not acceptable to the Israelis. The idea that a retaliatory second strike (by them or the Americans) would destroy the attacker means little to them since their population would be gone.

Several key questions arise because of that expressed Israeli belief:

– What are the actual time lines of the putative Iranian nuclear and missile programs?  The basic question is; "How long until the Iranians could have a sufficient force of DELIVERABLE nuclear weapons?"  The Israelis talk about Iranian nuclear weapons in 2009.  Do they really mean that or are they talking about an experimental detonation?

– Do the Iranians really possess the industrial capacity to manufacture miniaturized nuclear weapons and to "mate" them to ballistic missiles?

– Are the Iranians "rational actors" in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?

– Is Israel’s principal concern fear of an actual Iranian strike at some time in the future or is the main worry  the loss of strategic influence and "clout" that would follow upon the possession of such weapons by the Iranians?

These are the kinds of question that should be considered.  Instead, the world is subjected to propaganda and information operations designed to push public opinion toward another war.  pl

This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to How “imminent” is the Iranian nuclear threat?

  1. JM says:

    Here’s where I get to demonstrate how much of a babe in the woods I am:
    Another question that might be considered: is a nuclear warhead on a missile the only way of delivering a nuclear payload in the Middle East? (I’m thinking of a shipping container, for example.)
    (For the record, I don’t think the Iranians would ever attempt to nuke Israel.)
    Re information operations: I’m assuming that it is likely that there are competing information operations underway, initiated by various opposing factions within and without the Bush Administration.

  2. Abu Sinan says:

    I think one thing is missing here. As long as the Israelis have the bomb, with tacit US support, there will always be a drive by other nations in the area to have the bomb.
    Sooner or later, someone in the Middle East will get the bomb besides the Israelis. The only way to defuse this is for the Israelis to give up theirs. If they dont, they must accept the fact that they will, someday, not be the only nuclear power in the area.
    A few years ago Syria proposed at the UN that the Middle East be declared a “Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone”, of course the US and Israel were against the idea.
    However, in this Syrian proposal lays the only rational way to keep the Middle East from eventually having more countries with nuclear weapons.
    As long as one country has it, all of them are going to want it.

  3. Walrus says:

    Col. Lang,
    I have repeatedly stated (as have others)that the nuclear crisis is an excuse. The real threat of “annihilation” for Israel is demographic, economic and political.
    When Israel talks about the “200 million Arabs” that surrounds it, it’s not really joking, but the nightmare for Israel is if these 200 million Arabs were living in relatively prosperous, economically and politically advanced (for the middle east)countries.
    Guess which Middle East countries have the most advanced populations and economies? Guess who gets bombed? Thats right Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.
    Why are advanced Islamic countries such a threat? Because they will have economic clout, that means they have political clout, that means that Americans will want to do business with them, that means that Arabs will have more influence in Washington, that means that Israel will be forced to be more accommodating to its own muslim/Palestinian population – which is growing faster – demographics – than the Israeli population and in a democratic country would eventually out vote Jewish Israelis.
    It was no accident that when Lebanon was bombed that the first target was the airport. It was no accident that it happened just as Lebanon was engaged in a major tourist drive to attract western tourists. It was no accident that they bombed major infrastructure that had nothing to do with Hezbollah. Lebanon was in the process of engaging with the West, and Israel had to put a stop to that.
    To put it another way, Israel’s worst nightmare is not an Iranian nuclear weapon, it’s Iran and Syria having secular governments, educated populations and fast growing open economies that attract western investment, and with it international political clout. Israel wants to be surrounded by tribal ignorant mud hut dwellers that they, and the West, treat with contempt.
    To put it yet another way, follow the money.
    If you want further proof, then I suggest it is no accident that in our “Global war on terror” there are no massive outreach programs to the muslim world like we had in the cold war. By this I mean the dozens of front organisations, Islamic – american friendship societies, leagues of democratic muslim youth, scholarships for Islamic academics, etc. etc. – you know what I mean. We have deliberately excluded what was our biggest and most necessary weapon in the cold war, engaging in the battle of ideas with Islam, and this omission means that the war cannot ever be won.
    The name of the game is to demonise America in the hearts of every muslim in the entire world – so that we cleave only unto Israel.

  4. Rob says:

    The basic question is; “How long until the Iranians could have a sufficient force of DELIVERABLE nuclear weapons?” The Israelis talk about Iranian nuclear weapons in 2009. Do they really mean that or are they talking about an experimental detonation?”
    I’d say five to eight years to a actual nuke including testing. Like the Hiroshima type of bomb maybe a little more powerful. Another 5 years for warhead minimization and maybe another two to couple and or dock to the Shihab 3 or another launch vehicle (IRBM). Total eh…. 15 years….maybe

  5. Cieran says:

    The term “propaganda” is exactly correct.
    In the United States, all informed discourse (public or private) on the topic of design and production of nuclear weapons lies in the province of S/RD (Secret/Restricted Data), one of the most highly-classified and well-compartmentalized categories of technical information.
    Disseminating SRD information is a serious federal crime (whether one holds the appropriate clearances or not), with extremely harsh penalties — the details of such penalties came to light during the Wen Ho Lee debacle, so at least this information can be found in the public sphere.
    Thus we can trust the accuracy of the bloviating nonsense that comes from useful idiots like Bolton and Kristol only after we have been treated to the spectacle of the FBI carting them off for their public violations of the information security provisions of the Atomic Energy Act.
    Since they are still free and yet-unjailed, it’s completely reasonable to deduce that they are totally misinformed about answers to the important questions the Colonel raises here… and hence this is all just propaganda intended to confuse our citizenry.
    Act accordingly!

  6. QUOTE:
    Are the Iranians “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?
    And in if so, which way do the messianic impulses point them?

  7. Binh says:

    Iran turned over blueprints to build nuclear weapons to the IAEA today:
    Prediction: this will strengthen Cheney and his neocon allies and weaken the “realists” in the Iran debate. Looks like they already have the knowledge to build nukes and we are T-minus 10 seconds to WWIII, at least according to the Decider.

  8. VietnamVet says:

    You are exactly right. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works because the USA would not survive a Russian or Chinese second strike. No country would strike Israel with nuclear weapons because they have a second strike capability and would destroy any nation that attacks them.
    Ideologues hate this but that is the way it works. Even Saint Reagan realized the consequences of MAD and in the end worked to reduce tensions between the Soviet Union and America. The Middle East oil and land grab increases the odds for a nuclear exchange. In a MAD world, reducing tensions and energy independence would be a saner course.

  9. Mad Dogs says:

    Pat asked:
    Question 1 – “What are the actual time lines of the putative Iranian nuclear and missile programs? The basic question is; “How long until the Iranians could have a sufficient force of DELIVERABLE nuclear weapons?” The Israelis talk about Iranian nuclear weapons in 2009. Do they really mean that or are they talking about an experimental detonation?”
    My SWAG (with no actual science involved at all *g*), is that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in 3-5 years. Deliverable? My SWAG again is that within 3 years, Iran could have a crude nuclear weapon that was deliverable by means of truck or within the hold of a ship or plane. It would not be sufficiently miniaturized to be mountable on a cruise or even a ballistic-type missile. Probably more in line with our “Little Boy” weapon that was the first one dropped on Japan.
    Question 2 – “Do the Iranians really possess the industrial capacity to manufacture miniaturized nuclear weapons and to “mate” them to ballistic missiles?”
    While my SWAG is that Iran could acquire/build such industrial capacity within a 3-5 year timespan, I’m not so sure that they have themselves or could acquire the necessary intellectual design capacity in the same timeframe. Miniaturization is no small task, and it is made far more difficult by the necessity to “test” one’s design.
    Could they acquire the designs from a 3rd party? Yes, but from who? North Korea? Based on existing reporting, NK has only produced a nuclear “fizzle”, and wouldn’t be very reassuring to an Iranian first strike plan when retaliation would be sure and massive.
    It is my SWAG that the only existing Islamic country with a nuclear weapon capacity, Pakistan, is not necessarily very far down the “miniaturization” path itself, so that would mean a more advanced nuclear “partner” (willing or unwilling).
    I don’t see any “willing” partners in the existing nuclear weapon club, so that would mean an “unwilling” partner so-to-speak. The most likely “unwilling source” for miniaturization design expertise is from dissaffected or simply greedy scientists from the rump parts which composed the old Soviet Union. It is probably far easier to remove “design plans” from the former component countries of the Soviet Union than it is to steal their nuclear weaponry, which may not be all that difficult either.
    In the end, testing of an actual nuclear weapon seems to be mandatory. Too much would be at stake for the Iranians to draw their weapon, only to fire a blank.
    Question 3 – “Are the Iranians “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?”
    The Israelis either believe or want others to believe that the Iranian regime is not composed of rational actors. If the Israelis believed otherwise, then an ME MAD would still be a viable Israeli strategic option. I believe the Israelis are paranoically wrong, but I’m not the one living at a putative ground-zero.
    Question 4 – “Is Israel’s principal concern fear of an actual Iranian strike at some time in the future or is the main worry the loss of strategic influence and “clout” that would follow upon the possession of such weapons by the Iranians?”
    My take is that the principal Israeli concern is the latter; fear of loss of influence and clout within the ME region. My take also is that Israel is using the former concern of an actual Iranian nuclear strike to roil the Israeli and US public waters. Opponents are always demonized to the extreme for public consumption; even if strategic leadership knows or believes otherwise.

  10. Andy says:

    Iran could have sufficient material for a single nuclear device in 2009, but they could not have such material covertly. IOW, if Iran decided to push for a weapon in 2009, everyone would know about it.
    One thing Israel may be concerned about is “creeping normalcy” and when certain lines are crossed. If Iran is allowed to master the fuel cycle, giving it the technical capability to produce weapons material, and Israel does nothing, then Israel’s other enemies (and Iran’s too) might consider that a green light to develop their own capabilities. WRT creeping normalcy, if Israel does not attack when Iran reaches the technical capability to produce a weapon – perhaps the time such an attack would be most justified – then it becomes progressively more difficult to justify an attack later on. Where would Israel draw the line if not at a single nuke? 5 nukes? 10? Even assuming there is sufficient intelligence available to judge Iran’s progress in such an area.
    So, assuming Israel believes Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons program, ISTM that the key Israeli calculation is not if, but when, the most opportune time to attack is – the time that would provide the biggest reward at the least cost. In my view that time is before Iran has the technical capability to produce a weapon. Once that capability is acheived, Israel will have no reliable way of knowing how many nukes (if any) Iran has, etc. In short, once Iran achieves the capability it gains a modicum of nuclear deterrence.
    Abu Sinan,
    Israel is perfectly willing to sign and implement a middle-east nuclear-weapons free zone, but it has been very clear that it is only willing to do so after, or as part of, a larger peace in which Israel is recognized and peace treaties are signed. The Syrian proposal is quite different and would basically have the effect of gutting Israel’s deterrent with no real benefit to Israel.

  11. I have addressed most of these questions numerous times. Even well-informed Israelis find the cant coming from washington via Israel to be nothing but half-truths, if not outright lies.
    Most recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was reported as saying:

    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published Friday.
    Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran. …

    This follows upon the heels of eminent Israeli war historian Martin van Creveld saying the world can live with a nuclear Iran. Though couched in tougher terms, even retired Gen Abizaid said the world can live with an Iranian bomb.
    Unfortunately, much of the present paarnoic visions of doomsday are powered by the image of the wild-eyed fanatics bent on self-immolation. Though many seem willing to believe that ALL Moslems are nihilists, a moment’s reflection should bring forth the idea that these are rational men.
    Let’s imagine for an instance that the worst nightmare were to come true: Iran somehow cobbles together a few nuke delivering missles on top of Israel. Don’t you think anyone would know that the response to this would be assured annihiulation for the Iranians? Do people really believe that Ahmedinajad hates Jews so much he’d kill himself and his children’s children for the privilege of having killed a few million Jews?
    I personally don’t see it. Whatever you might think of the suicide bomber, they do believe that their kind will survive. They do not think that their action will bring total annihilation to either their cause of their families. Such bombings are tactics in a startegy taht’s meant to ensure victory of the cause they espouse, not assured death.
    I will repeat over and over, I guess, one assessment by a few eggheads at the US Army War College: if Israel is so concerned about nukes in the Mideast, they should then give up their own.
    ISS writes:

    Encourage Israel to initiate a Middle East nuclear restraint effort that would help isolate Iran as a regional producer of fissile materials. [emphasis in original] Israel should announce that it will unilaterally mothball (but not yet dismantle) Dimona, and place the reactor’s mothballing under IAEA monitoring. At the same time, Israel should announce that it is prepared to dismantle Dimona and place the special nuclear material it has produced in “escrow” in Israel with a third trusted declared nuclear state, e.g., the United States. It should make clear, however, that Israel will only take this additional step when at least two of three Middle Eastern nations (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, or Iran) follow Israel’s lead by mothballing their own declared nuclear facilities that are capable of producing at least one bomb’s worth of plutonium or highly enriched uranium in 1 to 3 years. Israel should further announce that it will take the additional step of handing over control of its weapons usable fissile material to the IAEA when:
    a. All states in the Middle East (i.e., the three mentioned above)dismantle their fissile producing facilities (large research and power reactors, hexafluoride, enrichment plants, and all reprocessing capabilities).
    b. All nuclear weapons states (including Pakistan) formally agree not to redeploy nuclear weapons onto any Middle Eastern nation’s soil in time of peace. Such arms restraint by deed rather than negotiation should avoid the awkwardness of current Middle Eastern arms control proposals that would have Israel enter into nuclear arms talks with states that do not recognize it and have it admit that it has nuclear weapons―a declaration that would force Israel’s neighbors immediately to justify some security reaction including getting bombs of their own.

    Why doesn’t this report get some airplay. Where are the guys who wrote this piece? Were they politely (or not so politely) asked to leave their posts?

  12. Jose says:

    Walrus, I have never been able to figure out how we have arrived at this madness with Iran, your analysis points to a greater agenda than simply defeating al-Qaeda.
    Let me also add that the more chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more aid is given to Israel.
    Kind of self-serving to simply “follow the money”.
    Let me add a Spanish idiom:
    El dinero es el camino de la perdición. (Money is the root of all evil.)
    And we are fighting evil after all, aren’t we?
    My humble opinion is that we (Americans) will not hit Iran nor will we let Israel.
    1. I don’t think Israel can do it by itself without our aid (geography).
    2. I don’t think even Dumya is dumb enough to believe we can pacify a nation of Shia by air strikes alone (Hezbollah).
    3. The consequences of a war will hurt America more than Iran or Israel (Dollar, Debt, Oil, “where are my legions”, Shia Iraqis, did I mention Hezbollah, Kurds, Turks, Balochis, Pashtoon, Pakistan, demographics of the Saudi Eastern province, and many more but most important are al-Qaeda’s number 1 and number 2 still on the loose and looking for recruits).
    In closing another Spanish idiom:
    Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer. (Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.)

  13. J. Rega says:

    Addressing the last two questions. First, as to Iran’s status as a rational actor, I haven’t seen anything to indicate that they are not. They seem to be playing their hand as a regional power fairly well. Similarly, from what I know of Shia eschatology, I don’t quite see how nuking Israel and getting themselves nuked in the process will pave the way for the dajjal or the Mahdi. Furthermore, they are often accused, by Sunnis, at least, of desiring regional hegemony and maneuvering for Shia expansionism. How does that project accommodate a messianic impulse to self-destruction? Besides, couldn’t they achieve the same end with chem/bio weapons, more easily delivered than an as yet only theorized nuclear weapon? Where in the messianic argument does it stipulate the need for explosions?
    As to the last question Part of the Israeli coyness about its won nuclear weapons has to do, I think, with the possible decrease in admiration for ‘plucky little Israel against the Saracens invader’ script that disclosure of such weapons would bring. Iran in possession of nukes changes the entire strategic balance of the region, like Cuba did in ’62, and will force real diplomacy and negotiation, unlike the upcoming Annapolis nonsense.
    My own guess is that in the end the Iranians will allow inspectors in if Israel does. It would be the only fair solution to a stalemate. Would be interesting to see the reaction to that request.

  14. robt willmann says:

    Assume, for the sake of discussion, that tonight God finally had enough of all the political jabbering about Iran and a nuclear program, and through Divine Power gave Iran 200 hydrogen bombs and 200 missiles to deliver them of sufficient sophistication to circle the equator twice before homing in precisely on their targets.
    We all wake up tomorrow morning to that reality. Would Iran launch a nuclear first strike on Israel, or vice versa?
    All that would happen would be what could have been happening already: negotiations without preconditions.
    The only one of the Colonel’s points above that matters is the one that asks: Are the Iranians “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?
    I haven’t seen any evidence that since the revolution in 1979 the Iranian government has made strategic decisions driven by messianic religious impulses. Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, and not the other way around, if I understand that tragic war correctly.
    If you read the papers filed by Iran with the International Atomic Energy Agency about their nuclear program since 2003, the Iranian lawyers are legally correct.
    Of course, “rational actors” in Iran would try to get (if they don’t already have) nuclear weapons to counter the foreign aggression in their area over the last 15 years.
    Ehud Olmert and other promoters trying to get the U.S. to launch another Middle East war for Israel’s benefit know full well that there are around 25,000 Jews in Iran who have not been the subject of massacres and are not going to be under the present Iranian regime.
    If “we”–the U.S.A.–will stay out of it, neither Israel nor Iran will initiate an attack against the other, even if Iran comes up with nuclear weapons.

  15. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Aside from the Israeli-American info war lies, just how would one target Israel in a major way and avoid killing Muslim Palestinians as collateral damage? Would such Muslims be just “martyrs” to the cause of whatever? Are Palestinians interested in such a role?
    I am certainly no specialist but after a briefing some years ago out there by Israeli military specialists on chemical warfare threats, I concluded a lot of Israelis would be quite dead in short order from a fairly rudimentary attack.
    So why would an enemy bother with a nuclear attack if it wanted to eliminate Israelis per se? Instead of vaporizing them, wouldn’t CBW be a less complicated and time consuming way to go? Anthrax is simple enough to cook up, for example, and asymmetrical warfare scenarios can be imagined. It’s not really rocket science but more chemistry and microbiology, IMO.
    The infowar “nuclear” hysteria is a reprise of same used to “prepare” US (and world) public opinion pre-Iraq War 2003, IMO. We have moved from Clinton’s Neocon- inspired “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq to Bush’s Neocon-inspired “dual containment” via war. The dual containment objective includes the “regime change” element. And we may well have same after 2008 and 2012 as the main candidates in both parties today seem to be flush with Neocon, or similar, advisors.
    Perhaps the catastrophic consequences of what we have already set in motion may have a restraining effect on policy circles suffering acute geopolitical narcissism. But it’s a long shot.

  16. ISL says:

    Walrus: IMHO Israeli’s will regret getting what their government wishes for them. The same could apply here, too.

  17. David W says:

    The Iranian first-strike seems like a conservative fever dream, where absolute power is sought, ostensibly for countering a national threat, but really it is sought as an end in itself–for both the Israelis and Ahmadinejad.
    First-strike does not seem to be a likely strategy for Iran. Indeed, MAD is not a ‘faith-based’ club that one chooses to join, Tehran and many other Iranian cities (not to mention other targets around the region) would be targeted for destruction by Israeli nukes, so the only rational reason would be that they are indeed stupid and simple religious fanatics bent on the destruction of not only their enemies, but themselves. While this scenario may be true of some low-level operatives, I don’t believe that Ahmadinejad, or Assad for that matter, could ever possibly be motivated to start a nuclear exchange for Israel, as nothing crimps the ruling lifestyle like a real war.
    Reading between the lines, I find it interesting how the Arab threat to Israel has now morphed into a separate people, the Persians; as if one threat weren’t enough! While there is no doubt that Tehran has influence in Syria, Lebanon and within the Palestinian organizations, I think it is far from the monolithic, unthinking horde that is supposedly moving against Israel. Perhaps it is a function of needing an external enemy to divert the collective attention from internal (and more ethically problematic) strife?
    The nuclear farce is really revealed by Pakistan–why worry about some future possibility, when another country who fits your threat profile already has plenty of nukes? Perhaps because they can’t be messed with?
    Rational voices have long been marginalized (or outed) from this subject, almost as if the carpenter has slowly been ‘losing’ his tools, until all he has left is a hammer…or so his ‘assistant’ hopes.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The only way that Israel can be safe is for the war between Judaism and Islam in Palestine to end.
    I personally do not see that in the cards; right now Peace is expensive and awar is cheap.
    The war will contine with or without any Iranian involvement.
    But I want to pose a question to you who obviously care about this topic:
    Israel is not US, she is not your country nor has she been relevant to the American Experience as such/ Why do you care so much a bout her?

  19. Walrus says:

    This is an excellent discussion, but one poit has not been examined. Everyone asks the question “Is Iran a rational actor?”.
    Shouldn’t we be asking “Are Israel and the USA rational actors?”
    Every time I look at Fox News, I think not.

  20. Abu Sinan says:

    That is utter nonsense. Israel has done everything it could to STOP full peace with it’s neighbors.
    The Saudis, through the Arab League, offered full peace with Israel, political, military, ecnomic. All Israel had to do was withdraw to the 1967 borders.
    Israel said no. Israel does not want peace for the very reasons Walrus points out. Stable and prosperous Arab neighbors are it’s biggest threats.

  21. Steve says:

    Nadezda Mandlestam, the wife of the Russian poet Osip, made the comment that life under Stalin had caused the citizens to lose their sense of awe at the unthinkable.
    I’m not trying to make some cheap shot that Bush is Stalin, yet I do have a similar feeling regarding Bush’s middle eastern policies.
    I certainly thought that two or three years ago, after the fiasco in Iraq had become too obvious to ignore, the only silver lining would be that absolutely no one would fall for military action against Iran.
    I am now no longer in awe of the unthinkable.

  22. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    “Are the Iranians “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?”
    In keeping with Tzu’s axiom that to win you have to know yourself as well as a potential enemy, I’d like to offer the following about ourselves to help determine intent:
    Are the Israelis “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?
    Are the Americans “rational actors” in making strategic decisions or are they driven by messianic religious impulses?

  23. Andy says:

    Abu Sinan,
    I wasn’t talking about abortive peace efforts, but your inaccurate statement that Israel and the US are against a ME NWFZ. They are not. They are against what would amount to a unilateral disarmament of Israel’s deterrent for almost nothing in return from nations that are still at war with it and do not even recognize its right to exist.
    I won’t comment on the Saudi proposal so as not to derail the thread.

  24. Abu Sinan says:

    Babak: “The only way that Israel can be safe is for the war between Judaism and Islam in Palestine to end.”
    Rarely have I heard such rubbish except from Neo-Cons.
    For decades the Palestinian side was lead by people who were decidedly secular, and in many cases, even Christian. PFLP, Fatah/PLO anyone? These were decided secular, often anti-religious cases. And with PFLP, it was founded by a Christian.
    The religious issue only masks, what is at it’s base, a purely secular/political issue.
    The real religious element in the Palestinian fight has only cropped up the last few years. For 50 years before that it was a secular fight, and when Islamism dies down, it will go back to that if there is no solution.
    To answer your question, I am an American, and I could care less about Israel.
    I think there is far less support for Israel in the USA than you might think. However, it has a lot of support from the most vocal and the most well funded of the people and groups.
    I think the problem is more about lack of education and lazyness.
    Besides, the average Israeli supporter here in the USA knows sweet F/A about the Israel.
    I dont know how many times I have debated with co-workers and other Americans who support Israel. 90% of the time they do not even have the absolute basics in knowledge about the situation.
    They dont know the name of Israeli political parties, the names of most Israeli political leaders, they cannot even give you the name of the lawmaking body in Israel, let alone talk about various aspects of the history.
    What they know is that they support Israel “Because God tells me to” or the old cannard “they are the only democracy in the Middle East”. Never mind the fact that they are completely unaware of just how different Israeli “democracy” is to Western notions.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Abu Sinan:
    You are entitled.
    But you, just like another commentator called “Mo”, are in denial, in my opinion.
    May be two or three generations ago you could have put a framework of land/power etc. around that war. But that war has evolved and has changed and its character no longer can be delimited by reference to the secular categories of contemporary Western political theory [They are eternally looking for “rational” causes of war.]; in my opinion.
    Judaism, represented by the State of Israel, is now fighting the Party of God and Hamas. It is confronting a Syrian government that is itself religiously constructed (Allawaite). Next it faces the Islamic republici of Iran – a Shia State for a Shia Polity. Also, I would like to point out that almost all of the member states of the organization of the Islamic Conference have no formal relations with Israel – excepting Egypt, Jordan, and the anti-Muslim Turkey.
    No my friend, if this war were about land and power it would not have resonated so much with Jews and Muslims alike all over the world.
    “When you hear the men of heart speak,
    Do not call it faulty,
    You do not comprehend the speech,
    There lies the Fault.”

  26. Abu Sinan says:

    You miss the idea that all of the main goals here are secular in nature. If you think Muslims sign up to go and fight for some pipe dream of a caliphate you are just plain wrong.
    If you look at all of the goals put out by any of the groups you have talked about 90% of them are non-religious in nature.
    In this case, as in so many others, religion is just a cover for what are political issues.
    By your name you sound Iranian, but I wonder what sort of associations you have with the Muslim community?
    The struggles now underway were there before the religion became an issue and will be there after.
    I have been involved with Muslims all around the world, from the Middle East and North Africa, to Europe and the USA. Almost never were any of these issues approached from a religious angle.
    When they were it was only in a superficial manner.
    Your talk sounds a lot like the neo-con/conservative Christian talk here in the USA of a clash of cultures, a war of religion. I dont buy it from them and I dont buy it from you.
    As a person who has the ability to look at these things from both an American Christian standpoint as well as a Muslim standpoint, I can tell you that your plane just doesnt fly.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Abu Sinan:
    You are entitled.

Comments are closed.