IAEA inspectors will have a look at the Qom enrichment site this weekend. Good. The surrepticious construction of this site badly undermined the position of those in the West who wish to find some way other than war to deal with Iran's nuclear program. The site is the wrong size to be useful in enriching fuel for an electricity program. It was hardened and placed inside a defended military base of the IRGC. The simplest explanation for all that is that it part of a system for acquisition of weapons grade uranium.
At the same time the Iranian government seems to be struggling with an internal decision as to whether or not to ship its present stock of low enrichment uranium to some foreign country for fabrication into fuel rods for electric plants. Why is there an internal struggle? Is it because there are two parties; 1- The party that wants eventually to produce nuclear weapons and 2- The party that wants cheap electric power and better relations with the rest of the world (us).
The clock is running. All options are still on the table. This is not about justice. It is about life and death for many. pl
as was stated by Iran, France’s involvement in the production of 20% U for the medical reactor is unacceptable, for France has broken previous nuclear undertakings with IRan [and also provided Israel with nuclear bomb capacity].
I do wonder about your closing statement, Sir, whose life and death are on the line? the warmongers in Israel? USA? or the intended victims of the warmongers? If memory serves right all members of the famous 5+1 were warmongers in the last 100 years, while Iran had only tried to repel attacks by various members of the 5, and or their proxies. We know that Israel has had armed incursions to various countries, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and who knows were else.
One has to wonder if the Israeli Likudniks and their Iranian hardliner counterparts aren’t sharing talking-points. Both are like a bull in a china closet, and they sit on their brains more than they use them. And in the end both ordinary ‘we-just-want-to-get-on-with-our-lives’ Iranians and Israelis are the cannon fodder for the Israeli-Iranian nutjobs.
Next week is indeed important.
If these negotiations break down and Iran announces that it will enrich its own medical uranium to 20%, do you believe that will trigger a military response?
Question PL? There seems to be some open source evidence that the Quom site has been known about for several years? Is there a timeline on this and when did INTEL or IAEA conclude the site was a problem? Or did it just await Iran’s announcement and disclosure? Offhand my guess is that at least 30 non-disclosed largely underground sites are actively working on Iranian WMD, but htis is just a guess, not even an educated guess. Iran is a large and largely mountainess country! Does the German government know of all the German contractors that have done work since 1979 for Iranian government and what those contracts were for? Do we (US) know what the Germans know?
Colonel, you’re trying to interpret Iranian decision making through an American threat narrative. That just doesn’t work.
For the Iranians, the international community has failed them many times in the field of nuclear technology. For example, they accuse ElBaradei of lying to them in the past, and they do have evidence to back up the claim. Previously, France has failed to live up to its nuclear agreements with Iran. And for well over a decade now, the Russians have failed to live up to their word on completing the Bushehr nuclear facility. Finally, earlier in the decade, the Europeans induced the Iranians to suspend enrichment, and contrary to popular Western conceptions, were quite content to drag out the negotiations indefinitely, effectively stalling Iran’s nuclear program.
Based on previous experience alone, certain Iranian skepticism is well founded. And no, this does not necessarily include any military dimension into the Iranian decision making.
For some, purchasing without the complication of a LEU transfer (which down the road could be made hostage during negotiations) is preferable. For others, concentrating on MEU enrichment domestically is the way to go, there being no substitute for self-sufficiency. And finally, there are some who are arguing to accept the deal.
Hopefully soon, we’ll know the result of their deliberations. But keep in mind, Colonel, no amount of American bullying will produce a Western desired outcome. So the “do this or else” mentality does not apply. The Iranians are mentally prepared for ramifications brought on by any military attack on its facilities. Are US interests in Afpak/Iraq and the global economy as well prepared, mentally or physically?
“Western threat narrative?” You must be an academic. Do you understand bombs? Do you understand dead kids buried under rubble that bounced twice? I am trying to warn you. pl
Some phenomena are watched for decades. pl
If the Iranians continue to enjoy their resistance to the “Western Threat Narrative,” war is probable. pl
No the USA and or EU and or OECD and or the rest of the world sans net oil producers are ill prepared to face a military blowback in case of Iranian war. One more oil shock and it is end of USA economy. The present price [$80/barrel] is on the knife edge of bringing on another recession [as did other oil s [IF total oil costs exceed 4-5% of USA GDP] shocks, last being 2008]. Marginal production costs of deep sea oil, oil sands etc exceed the present oil price, the required oil price is more than the USA economy can stand, especially as it is wasting untold energy resources [fuel, ammunition, logistics, etc] on her present [un]successful wars.
Please peruse article, and observe graph correlationg oil price and USA recession:
I believe Quom is also the center of Persian Islam but not sure.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: ”…. Let me tell you that they are not able to do anything against the Iranian nation. “;
The President of Iran needs better advice.
Colonel, I don’t know if you understood me correctly. By western threat narrative, I am referring to your attempt at perceiving Iranian intentions, by which you apparently seem heavily influenced by the current rhetoric that’s now flowing unabated in the Western media. Simply put, from the Iranian perspective, it is not a question of acquiring a bomb versus not acquiring a bomb; rather, it’s a question of fully protecting their nuclear rights under the NPT or giving up those rights.
Bullying will not work on the Iranians. All it does is make ’em stand their ground that much firmer. Surely the Bush years (post-Khatami) have demonstrated that.
So while it may comfort you to think that there is a real potential for the US-Israel entity to heap a nuclear holocaust upon the people of Iran, so be it. But may I suggest you’re simply getting too caught up in the moment’s rhetoric.
One more important item I neglected to state in my previous post. For Iran to receive its previous supply of MEU (from Argentina) for the Tehran research reactor, it took a whopping five years after IAEA approval for it to make its way to Iran. And you wonder why certain Iranians are skeptical of this latest offer?
In a fair and just world the IAEA would also be in Israel checking their sites. This wink wink double standard stinks to high Heaven.
“you apparently seem heavily influenced by the current rhetoric” You don’t know me or you would understand that I am little influenced by anyone’s rhetoric, including yours. pl
I undersdtand war, seen it, not as much as you, and am opposed to it.
I am aware that there are insane voices in USA, such as mr. Bolton, ex UN rep of USA, who propose N-bomb treatement for IRan, all for being protective of Israel. It is possible that the likes of Mr. Cheney et al, all without militarty and or war experience might want to save the world from Nuclear Iran, by sending her back to the stone age [as re IRaq, afganistan, Somalia, and maybe Pakistan] with the help of brave pilots flying at 10 000 meters and dropping bombs, but the blow back might be too much to bear for Uncle Sam. One fire, and no more oil, especially not for the creditors of Uncle Sam, then the SH*T hits the fan! The bloddy french revolution, or the USA Civil War will look like a tea parties respectively [300 million guns in civil hands].
Your patriotism to the well being of USA is unquestionable. The only q form my point is whether your belief in the invincibility of USa power in attacking IRan is realistic enough with respect to possible outcomes. No one, but the Chinese leadership knows their reaction, which no doubt was already discussed without any input by any other sovereign nation, after all China has long history with many ups and downs, spanning over 3000 years.
I agree it is not a Question of Justice, except in the sense how China and Japan view it – as they control the short leash of USA finances.
Some public previewers of the near future clearly questioned whetehr the USA will go down peacefully, as did USSR in the 1990-s, or will, like a mad dog, take world down with themselves.
I trust the present admionistration, but not necessarely all the high ranking USA officers – only time [3-10 years at most] will tell.
Someday’s your the bug; someday’s your the windshield.
You must be a fascinating dinner guest.
Robert in SB
Another way to say that is that “some days you eat the bear, some days he eats you.” pl
We would destroy Iran if we wished. What would happen to us after that is another question. That does not mean that some of us are not mad enough to do it. pl
There are ways for Iran to protect it’s NPT rights that don’t give others at least the impression that Iran wants nuclear weapons. Iran’s conduct and lack of transparency is feeding the likes of Bolton and bolstering his and the neocon’s position.
I’m sensing a taughtness in your post (and your comments to your commentors) on this subject. it’s as if there’s something afoot, something in the wind, something that’s really troubling you about the current situation – whether seen or unseen.
perhaps i’m wrong, but if not that’s a concern to me and perhaps others who follow you, as your perspective on this matter has typically been a refuge from msm (there’s concern….but, saner, more rational heads will prevail…and all that).
it’s an unusual tone so i’m asking you if is there’s something you can address publicly that’s brought this stark “life and death” observation forward?
are there sufficient mad men running around the corridors (of the capitals most ready) to go???
Yes, there are enough mad men, and the Iranians are enabling them. p
You guys best calm down and take a deep breath.
No one is going to war over a few thousand pounds of raw uranium.
The moment for war is passed – the most likely time for that was in 2006.
US-Iran strategic option is to settle the Cold War with each other or to continue with the cold war.
This is not an entirely Iranian decision.
IMHO, the problem I see is that certain Iranian factions benefit from open confrontation with the “Western Powers” versus others.
If we strike, we lose Iran and the Islamic World forever and we will have to live with the consequences of our actions.
If Dumbya was smart enough not to strike, I doubt Follbama will authorize an attack.
Only ones that would win would be the radical Muslims we are trying to defeat/contain and those who stand to gain from our mistakes.
With all due respect we’ve already gone to war over uranium or plutonium which didn’t even exist.
My guess is that there will be pre-emptive wars under President Obama, especially if he serves a full eight years. But not in Iran!
And by the way the structure of the Administration IMO has moved Pre-emptive Warfar up not down from the Bush Adminstration. Too long an explanation for this blog and comment. Iran’s focus will be on S.Asia and E. Asia within a very short time. It’s love affair with thwarting and dueling with the “Great Satan” is about to be overtaken by events elsewhere. The domestic US energy picture looks now as if it might be revolutionized by large natural gas discoveries and their development.The US culture, society, and political system was build on “cheap” energy and it is looking now like that may gone on the rest of this century. So much for the “Green Revolution” which still makes sense but not on costs.
Babak wrote: “No one is going to war over a few thousand pounds of raw uranium”.
Yes, I think you are correct there. In fact I think people rarely go to war of material things. (I can hear the economic determinants sighing at my nativity, and perhaps they are correct)
I think it more likely people go to war over misjudgments.
“So while it may comfort you to think that there is a real potential for the US-Israel entity to heap a nuclear holocaust upon the people of Iran, so be it.”.
With all due respect (but no more), if you really believe that, you have been wasting your time reading this blog, and the comments.
If there is war with IRan, then it becomes self-e3vident that the USA is a second rate power doing the bidding of the boss, Isreal.
Colonel, you, Sir, stated:
We would destroy Iran if we wished. What would happen to us after that is another question. That does not mean that some of us are not mad enough to do it.
Tis was the attitude of Bush and Co, and the children will [or are ] pqaying the price. At my age, if the economic end comes, ce la vie; EXCEPT I CARE ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION, be they my grandchildren, or the grandchildren of USA, or IRan.
I am fed up with grandstanding politicians, who are constantly selling their second and third generation’s future for their own EGO TRIPS!.
Some of you persist in thinking that countries act in a rational pursuit of their real interests rather than in pursuit of the fantasms of popular opinion often fueled by skilled manipulation.
We won’t attack Iran because we can’t afford to do so economically? On what planet would that be true? pl
We the U.S. are still the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and many other nations hate it. If we get a banana itch to thump Iran, then there is nothing short of complete global annihilation that would stop us.
Babak, Pirouz, I think you’d better listen to the Colonel as he is trying to ‘warn’ Iran they’re treading on the edge of an H Hour and don’t even know it. Think of all the dead Iranian women and children that such a strike will entail. And do you really think that Russia and China would intervene on behalf of Iran? Maybe China as their oil interests drive their actions, but what could China do? Neither Russia or China wants a thermonuclear confrontation with U.S. over any third country. Now if the blunder heads Israel decided to pull their usual stupid and attack Russia or China directly that would be another matter.
It may very well be that Iran’s leadership has decided their best bet for long term security is to develop nukes or at least the capability for ‘rapid breakout.’
They may have calculated that they will never have a better chance than now (price of oil, U.S. in to COIN wars, etc) They probably understand that these conditions are not permanent. Once resolved, the U.S. will be free to do whatever it wants to Iran. And it almost certainly will.
So, they may figure best nuke up now while we have the best chance we ever will.
OTOH, if they back down now who could guarantee that, in better circumstances, the U.S. will not attack them?
Now, maybe they misjudged how much pain the U.S. is willing to endure, or how much slack the world will give Israel WRT a nuclear first strike on Iran.
But I can’t blame them for trying.
When Hitler’s Germany went to war against France, France was Germany’s greatest trading partner. It was decidedly economically not a ‘rational choice’ to do that.
We have misjudged countries in the past. Iran’s behavior might well be explained if they already posessed some small amount of nuclear weapons.
Between the US and the USSR, some 80,000 nuclear weapons were produced from 1945 onwards. From my own experience with military(although not nuclear) supply systems, the probability of some going missing is high.
Cordesman in his CSIS review of Iranian armaments last year mentions the rumor of several weapons brought into Iran in his timeline.
Colonel Patrick – You are a Stoic, the the best sense of that Roman Philosophy – focused, problem solving, and eliminating the “emotional” from one’s decision-making. And, it’s not easy to do, at least for many, many people- including those who hold power in this Country. Our foriegn and defense policies are heavily influenced by what are emotional, irrational people. As you call them Colonel, madmen. And, while these “madmen” originally deserved our sympathy, support and protection, they’ve now been given something else – license. And, license to genocide survivors can take the form of ugly cruelty and unfocused revenge. Just look at my Armenian relatives in Western Azerbijan in the early 1990s. I’m ashamed. But in this Country, few have had the moral courage (is this an oxymoron, almost?) to challenge the madmen who can’t or won’t distinguish mad license from rights or equity. Maybe, just maybe, with time and a new generational focus, we can step back from this abyss. But right now, quacks and madmen hold very dangerous sway. Their license has morphed into delusion, which is bankrupting and killing the rest of us!!
As a cadet at VMI I was taught the difference between Stoicism and Epicureanism.
I decided that Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus were to my taste. pl
As was the USSR when Barbarossa began. pl
jonst, Babak Makkinejad
jonst writes: ‘I think it more likely people go to war over misjudgments.’
I think this is absolutely right. Misperception is endemic in the relations between states — as between individuals.
In some cases, the problem is rooted in the inherent ambiguity of the kind of signals being sent in order to influence the behavior of other actors. And this is particularly liable to be so, when in a state is pursuing a strategy of ‘compellence’ based upon threats whose implementation is deeply problematic — as is the case with U.S. policy with regard to Iran.
One perfectly plausible interpretation, in such a situation, is that the state doing this is bluffing, and will not in the end be foolish enough actually to implement its threats. This seems to me the conclusion that Babak Makkinejad is drawing.
I confess to being slightly puzzled by his confidence that the U.S. will not go to war, because from remarks on other threads I had understood him to share the Colonel’s scepticism about the notion that individuals are primarily motivated by ‘rational’ considerations of interest.
Also relevant is the fact that the practitioners of the ‘skilled manipulation’ of the ‘fantasms of popular opinion’, to which the Colonel refers, may unleash forces beyond their own control. They may come to believe their own propaganda — Hitler being a notable example. They may also box themselves in, creating situations where — even looking at the matter from the perspective of purely ‘rational’ considerations — they have no good options.
And this is what I think Netanyahu and his American fellow-travellers have done. They have made the exploitation of the ‘secular cult of the Holocaust’ in the West — another phrase from BM — a keystone of their bid to get others to sort out Israel’s Iranian problem.
But to portray the Iranian regime as the latter-day equivalent of the German National Socialist one is also to provide a compelling argument for Israelis to look for safety in less dangerous regions: in other words, to bolt. Having gone down this road, Netanyahu and his U.S. fellow-travellers cannot afford to fail.
As to the U.S., one is dealing with that confidence ‘there is a way to prevail and accomplish our objectives in every situation if only we are clever enough, hard enough and willing to pay any price’ to the dangers of which jedermann pointed in an incisive comment on an earlier thread.’
In fact, I do not think that the Obama Administration has ever had very good options with regard to Iran. But there is an immense danger that, having assumed that the U.S. ought to be able to get its way, the Administration ends up having to implement the threats it makes — for fear of its looking ‘soft’ both abroad and at home: something which, once again, there are perfectly ‘rational’ reasons not to want to do.
IMO there are plenty of irrational decisionmakers in high positions in the current Administration. There are supposedly some “adults” there but have the adults done anything serious about the Middle East peace process, about Israel, about Afghanistan, about counterterrorism, about counternarcotics, about counterintelligence, about the border security situation with Mexico, about the various criminal gangs from Latin America causing havoc in the US, etc.? No, obviously as the world sees. Who is kidding whom???
It seems to me that a decision to use force against Iran could well be possible.
Look at the irrational decision to use force against Iraq. There was NO threat from aluminum tubes, yellowcake, or AQ yet the public was lied to and Congress enthusiastically went along with about 75 percent of the House and Senate voting to allow the President to use military force.
We have already used nuclear weapons years ago and the Iranians can consult the Japanese on that or for conventional approaches they can consult the Germans on Dresden, for example. Were these “rational” decisions?????????
Look at Suez: Euros plus Israel. Nasser is a Hitler, Egypt is an existential threat…blah blah. So here we are again with Iran. Same formula with the twist that the US might be pushed into it via the Israel Lobby, particularly if Israel launches the first strike and the US steps in to protect Israel and whack Iran.
Of course Congress will vote for this. Of course the “pro-Israel” US media will continue to beat the drums for this and endorse it.
On the Iranian side, I can see that some circles may well be recalling the situation in the early 1960s in which the the “international community” sought to deny Iran a modern steelmaking industry. The Shah then responded by opting for relations with the Soviet Union in this industrial area, etc. Iran today has a “Look East” approach and thus seeks better relations with China, etc. Should this surprise?
Did someone say Barbarossa?
There is argument that the Soviets were forward deployed in June, 1941 for their own offense planned for June 16. But the surprise flight to Scotland of Rudolf Hess May 10th spooked them and left them dithering. This left their forward deployed forces sitting ducks for the double envelopment pincer bag of Barbarossa of June 22nd.
On a related note, it is a common misconception that Lebensraum, or the ethnic cleansing of the east, was Hitler’s idea. It turns out that it was an official German war aim of World War I. In fact, they had conquered Poland & Ukraine b/ had to give them back.
There are political constraints on the United States actions.
As far as I can tell, based on the public sources, Iranian leaders are willing to endure a war with the United States. They care not countring on support from any other state, not China and not Russia.
And I believe that their decision was communicated to the leaders of the United States back in 2006 as well as to assorted osetenisbly friendly broitherly Muslim Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
While non-rational action permeates all human activity, at this moment in time, I do not see a US-Iran War. This is my opinion and I suppose future will tell.
If Israel uses a nuclear weapons, against any state, it will be her last act as a sovereign state.
‘As was the USSR when Barbarossa began.’
Indeed. And the last German ambassador to the Soviet Union, Friedrich Werner Count von der Schulenberg, fought a long rearguard action to try and prevent Hitler from destroying Germany by attacking the Soviet Union.
The alternative solution for Germany’s strategic problems put forward by Schulenberg was for a ‘Continental bloc’, which would bring together the original signatories of the Anti-Comintern Pact — Germany, Italy and Japan — with the power against whom that pact had been directed, the Soviet Union.
In economic terms this was premised on a belief in the likelihood of a continued German superiority in high technology — so that there was no realistic danger that the expansion of economic ties with the resource-rich Soviet Union would end by creating a superpower which would dominate Germany.
The strategy that Schulenberg and his fellow ‘Ostlers’ in the German Foreign Office put forward was very coherently thought out — there is I think a lot to be said for George Kennan’s judgement that the German Moscow Embassy of the Thirties was ‘at all times excellent.’
But then Hitler — as an adept at the ‘skilled manipulation’ of the ‘fantasms of public opinion’ — tended to exaggerate both what Germany had to fear, and what it could realistically hope to achieve. So while the ‘Ostlers’ had a — relatively — sanguine view of the dangers to Germany from the Soviet Union, Hitler portrayed these in apocalyptic terms.
And while they were sceptical of the idea that the Soviets could be decisively defeated militarily — or indeed, that such a defeat would necessarily benefit Germany — Hitler persuaded others and himself that Germany military power was adequate to secure the permanent destruction not simply of Soviet Communism but of Russian power.
And so, in place of the combination of ‘deterrence’, ‘compellence’ and ‘appeasement’ that the ‘Ostlers’ would have preferred, Hitler attempted to destroy the Soviet Union — and ended up destroying Germany.
A combination of an exaggeration of real threats with an exaggeration of what one can do about them is one of the most frightening aspects of much U.S. — and British — foreign policy thinking in recent years. Unfortunately, as German experience illustrates, sophisticated and hard-headed analysts often lose out to demagogues.
The actions of US against Iraq may be explained as a rational decisions to puruse expansion of power by a world power.
1. Support for UN sanctions against Iraq was eroding and the Ba’athist state was poised to resume regaining her strength. This would have left US with 2 anti-US states in the Persian Gulf, Iran & Iraq.
2. The idea, it seems, was to destroy the Ba’athist state and replace it with a malleable client state as a basis for power projection in the Persian Gulf and Levant; maintaining a choke hold on energy supplies to China, India, Japan, and others.
3. US reliance on Israel would thus be eliminated, reducing her strategic importance to US.
4. US, together with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iraq could then, under exceptional circumstance, manipulate the price of oil thus bankrupting another great power’s major revenue stream; Russia’s Oil & Gas.
US strategic community, in 2002, took advantage of the anger in US for the 9/11/2001 attacks, the weakness of Russia, and China to make a bold and brave attempt at gaining (geo)-strategic heights of the international system. They understood that such a moment in time rather rare and thus took the opportunity.
On a theoretical level, their reasons were sound and other states, no matter how repugnant they might have found US policies, would have had to live with it. In this estimation they were correct.
The flaw, as far as I could tell, was in the misunderstanding of Iraq as a polity and the regional context. It is here that one could criticize the US leaders – that they chose to ignore the opinions and knowledge of subject-matter experts in the Near East.
I also think that the US leaders misjudged the difficulty of their Iraq project and the powers of the United States. Per chance, they had been warned about the daunting task of nation-building in Iraq (and elsewhere) but assumed themselves so powerful that could bulldoze their way into it.
In my opinion, a more limited and modest US war against the Ba’athist state – a limited war with limited aims – could have well succeeded. But for that US leaders essentially would have had to cut in the local states – Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait. But rather than cutting deals with them, from 2003 onwards, they assumed a posture that threatened the security of all these states. Thus every single state in the Persian Gulf and the Levant had reasons for wanting the US projects in Iraq and in the region to fail. And likewise for Russia and China.
The support for the Iraq War among US population might have been a form of catharsis but not for the US Strategic leaders – not in my opinion.
“..her last act as a sovereign state.”
Your comment implies what?
Your statements about the “political constraints” on the US refers to what?
In 2006 Cheney lost an argument over war with Iran. That decision can be reversed. pl
H-hour for Barbarossa along the line of the river Bug had to be delayed to let a Soviet goods train pass through the border headed for the Reich. pl
Israel does not have an Iran problem; she has an Islam problem. She has chosen to be at war with Islam and to the extent that US & EU support her in her actions they are also co-belligerents with her in that war. – in my opinion.
War with Iran, by US, certainly will harm US. I suspect that regardless of the gyrations of the oil prices and resultant harm to US economy, the cost of defending Israel after the Iran-US War will be beyond the means of the United States. That war, if it ever occurs, will have the paradoxical consequence of forcing a settlement of the war in Palestine on terms acceptable to the Muslim world. And you heard that first from me here.
The great option of Mr. Obama via-a-vis Iran is to end US cold war against Iran. I hope that he has communicated his willingness to do so in his 2 letters to Mr. Khamenei and in various other channels.
As you may have noticed, neither Mr. Khamenie nor Mr. Ahmadinejad have said anything against the proposed IAEA-sponsored nuclear fuel deal. That deal, publicly proposed by Mr. Ahmadinejad, is devoid of strategic consequence – it is a small confidence-building measure. Many more will be needed.
In regards to your first question: I believe that Israel will be occupied by a collation-of-the-willing under a UN mandate.
In regards to your second question – US has obligations to other states, she does not have absolute freedom of action.
William R. Cumming:
Yes, a single gas well in the Mobile Bay can power US for 300 years. And there are many many such wells in that region.
While absolutely hope you are right-and probably you are-I can’t rule out the possibility of Israel daring to resort to nukes.
While no one can predict the consequences, Israel has had such freedom of action and gotten away with being an apartheid state built on ethnic cleansing, that they may believe they can get a way with this as well.
I can’t say for sure they would be wrong. They will have an official story that a conventional attack set off an Iranian nuke in the making. Officially, the U.S. will pretend to believe. Other countries may holler for a while, but after a while, life moves on.
I do not believe that is likely, but the chances are more than zero.
That does not mean Iran has to back down, but it does have to access the risks.
“sophisticated and hard-headed analysts often lose out to demagogues.” – David Habakkuk
Tragic but so true! We see so much of it in the “dumbing down” of our media dialog and propaganda. The American people are primed to be manipulated. As the economic situation on Main Street continues to deteriorate and with a “weak” President influenced by powerful interests the opportunity for misjudgment escalates.
Does anyone know why Iran has not run a concerted PR campaign stating that they will accept whatever rules that the international community wants with respect to its nuclear program as long as the same rules apply to Israel?
‘In regards to your first question: I believe that Israel will be occupied by a collation-of-the-willing under a UN mandate.’
I think you are optimistic.
‘Did someone say Barbarossa?
There is argument that the Soviets were forward deployed in June, 1941 for their own offense planned for June 16. But the surprise flight to Scotland of Rudolf Hess May 10th spooked them and left them dithering. This left their forward deployed forces sitting ducks for the double envelopment pincer bag of Barbarossa of June 22nd.
Meltyukhov, as the Wikipedia entry makes clear, is elaborating the arguments of ‘Viktor Suvorov’ in the study published in English in 1990 under the title ‘Icebreaker’. The arguments of ‘Suvorov’ have been dealt with, definitely in my view, by Colonel David Glantz, the preeminent Western expert on the war in the East, and also I think a VMI alumni, in his 1998 study Stumbling Colossus, and by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky, in his 1999 study Grand Illusion.
1. Since Tukhachevsky won out over Aleksandr Svechin the arguments of the Twenties, Soviet contingency planning for war had been highly offensively-oriented. The nature of contingency planning says little, if anything, about the intentions of those who have to decide whether to implement the plans — or indeed, about how they will actually act in a crisis.
2. A problem with this planning was that Stalin left himself in a quandary, in the crisis that came. One possibility — which was that which Zhukov embraced in his draft directive of 15 May 1941 — was to accept that war was inevitable, and go for a preemptive strike. But Stalin was reluctant to accept that war was inevitable. Accordingly, he turned down the proposal — and was also reluctant to implement mobilisation plans for fear that the effect would be to make a war which could still be avoided unavoidable. (In so doing, he was following what was close to being a general reading, in Britain as well as Russia, of the events of the summer of 1914).
3. The real and relevant argument about Stalin’s policy has not been about what he would have done in the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht was at the height of its strength. There is no serious reason to doubt the judgment of Schulenberg at the time — that Stalin had not concluded that war with Germany was inevitable at that point, and would have done everything possible to avert a war with Germany at a stage when the military balance was far less favourable than it was likely to be in 1942 and even more 1943.
4. The real and relevant argument is about whether Stalin had or had not been pursuing a strategy of divide-and-rule, aimed at finessing Germany and the Western powers into a rerun of 1914-18 — only this time with Russia standing aside, playing tertius gaudens, as the Latin phrase goes. According to classic exponents of this view — see for example George Kennan’s study 1960 Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin — Stalin had assumed that the war in the West would become a stalemate, as it had in 1914. Accordingly, he was caught on the hop by the — almost universally unexpected — collapse of France in the summer of 1940. This view obviously provides a partial vindication of ‘Barbarossa’, as the account given in Kennan’s memoirs illustrates, in that it implies that Hitler was countering a real threat — but one which would have become manifest, not when military aggression involved serious risks, but when it was against adversaries who had exhausted themselves.
5. An alternative view is that Stalin had no particular long-term strategy, but was simply an opportunist — and was much too frightened of Germany to have attacked, unless Germany had exhausted itself in fighting the Western powers. This was the view of Schulenberg, and also of the American diplomat Charles Bohlen — in my view a much better analyst than Kennan. Unsurprisingly, one finds that the view of ‘Barbarossa’ taken in Bohlen’s memoirs is quite different to that of Kennan — according to Bohlen, Hitler’s attack was ‘madness’, while for Kennan it represented ‘brutal realism’.
Yes, I knew David Glantz at VMI was well as at the Army War College.
I think he was a “rat” in my cadet company when I was a 1st Classman. pl
Accordingly, he was caught on the hop by the — almost universally unexpected — collapse of France in the summer of 1940.
That is the key to unravelling the motivations of the various players in the lead-up to Barbarossa. Except for some panzer generals, such as Guderian, no one really understood or expected the likely impact of the new armoured blitzkrieg that these generals had prepared.
I think Schulenberg and Bohlen are correct in their assessment that Stalin was petrified by the rapid German victory over France. His strategy of sitting out a prolonged stalemate a la 1914 (until the right moment) was in tatters, and he did not know what to do ‒ except play for time by placating Hitler.
Hitler knew that he had to destroy the Soviet Union ultimately to realize his dream of a Third Reich embracing all of Europe. His initial plan was to first deal with Britain, but when his invasion plans fell through, he decided to secure Germany’s ‘rear’ before the expected much longer struggle to subdue Britain. This decision was made easier by his heady expectation that his panzers would repeat on the Russian plain the miracle of their lightning advances in France and the Lowlands; he refused to let the army plan or prepare for a winter campaign to follow. It was certainly not “madness” ‒ except in retrospect. After all, he nearly pulled it off; there is a good case to be made that if he had allowed Guderian to keep going for Moscow, the Soviets may have collapsed before the winter set in.
I am late to the table on this one but I did not want to react instinctively because when all is said done, the lives of Iranian children should be foremost on the Iranian leaderships mind.
However, this is a pretty major crossroads and the Iranians must also make a decision that is in their long term national interests. And I think the Western worlds mistrust blinds it to the fact that the Iranian mistrust of the West is equally deep (and for the record I think both sides have a mistrust of the other that far exceeds the reality of the situation).
You say that the surrepticious construction of this site badly undermined the position of those in the West who wish to find some way other than war to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.
Considering Israels (and aspects of the US leadership) favoured method of dealing with Irans nuclear program, if you were Iran, were else would you build a new reactor, regardless of its usage? It would be ridiculous for the Iranians to build a reactor out in the open without defense knowing that at any time the Israelis will be flying in.
In this light that fact that it was hardened and placed inside a defended military base of the IRGC makes perfect sense and is in my opinion an even more simple explanation.
The existence of a debate within the Iranian leadership over the agreement is clear but the reasons for doing so cannot simply be measured in a black and white manner surely? There are nuances of differences; There are those that will want better relations but not at the expense of national sovreignty;
The clock is ticking yes and most likely the Iranians will, as is the tradition of us Middle Easterners, come back with their own offer based on th plan.
Like you, I hope that they do enough to forestall any military action, but I doubt they will surrender it all. And I don’t think anything short of that will be enough for the Western govts.
I recently read Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red, a novel set in 16th Century Istanbul. I was struck repeatedly by the subtle and utterly alien internal logic of the culture he portrays. We are privy to the thinking of numerous characters and their interpretations of the meaning of events, some of them being the ambiguous contacts between Ottoman and European cultures, and how they determine their own responses are simply not the logic of the European Enlightenment. The Iranians are not the Ottomans but the value to me, and to others who might not get out much, of a book like this is the reminder that regardless of what we intend and how clearly we think we are communicating that intent, all our signals and actions are subject to the perceptions and interpretations of people who are not like us at all in their experience of reality. We would do well to remember that even our ally, Israel, though largely controlled by Western Zionists and their descendants, is not purely European or Western. Our understanding of them may not be nearly rich enough. Imagine Iranian leaders interpreting the posturings of our politicians and diplomats (even we refer to it as Kabuki) filtered through their experience and understanding of human behavior, conditioned by their own culture.
The colonel’s warning that, given Iranian actions that appear to our eyes to be provocations, we may not be able to control our own madmen, may be interpreted as simply another threat from the undifferentiated mass of Western enmity toward the aspirations of Islamic societies. It would be a shame if they failed to recognize the voice of someone with understanding of and respect for their ways. Another one of those fatal misjudgements.
“Support for UN sanctions against Iraq was eroding and the Ba’athist state was poised to resume regaining her strength”
Some Israelis and Neocons argued this but Iraq was a shambles in 1990 when I visited there and degraded over the following decade. It was “contained” and weak in 2002 and the regional Arab states understood this.
“US reliance on Israel would thus be eliminated, reducing her strategic importance to US.”
While the Israel Lobby has always feared this scenario, they have been a “strategic ally” of the US since 1967 at least. Given the pro-Israel Lobby influence in the Bush Administration this is not a realistic contention.
“US strategic community” “US Strategic leaders”
Who do mean by this? US government officials? Neocon think tanks?
“to make a bold and brave attempt at gaining (geo)-strategic heights of the international system. They understood that such a moment in time rather rare and thus took the opportunity.” “On a theoretical level, their reasons were sound”
So you agree with the Neocon concept of a “unipolar world” and endorse the US war against Iraq?
“In my opinion, a more limited and modest US war against the Ba’athist state – a limited war with limited aims – could have well succeeded.”
Could you explain this a bit more? I do not understand your point.
It’s too bad our elected U.S. leadership doesn’t understand this simple concept — http://www.bia2.com/video/Arian-Band/Noori-ta-abadiat-(Ft-Chris-De-Burgh)/
Instead they open their mouths and let Israel feed them crap and more crap, lie after lie. How many have to die before the Israel mad-hatter is satisfied? Iraq was/is all about Israel’s security, and nothing to do with U.S. interests. Our U.S. leadership knew that Saddam had no WMDs, but they chose (and still choose) to listen to the lies of the Israelis instead of the intel/experience of the Pentagon. Rumsfeld and his band of maggots really hurt our U.S. in many ways creating blinder after blinder to prevent or attempt to prevent the truth from being revealed — that Iraq was all about Israel, and had nothing to do with U.S. interests. Alas, we see the same pablum today regarding Iran. I say let Iran build all the nuclear toys they want, it won’t do them any good as the first time they tried to use them either themselves or through proxies, they would be turned to green glass before they knew what hit them.
Too many Americans have died because of Israel and its lies, too many American and other’s deaths because of Israeli lies and on-purpose deceptions. It’s time the deaths stopped, the Israeli state just isn’t worth it.
There are human beings (mostly men) in every country that decide policy. They are not necessarily members of the government of that country.
The Spanish-American War, Mr. Wilson who got elected on a peace platform but joined WWI, or Bernard Baruch and his cohorts who were planning on a pre-emptive war with USSR in 1948.
I do not know the membership of these cliques but they are there nevertheless.
In regards to the “bold & brave attempt” – I was not endorsing that attempt but rather I was suggesting the possibility that there was a sound rationale for that strategy if one considered the zero-sum game nature of the international politics as well as the logic of the interaction among a few great powers on this planet.
In regards to the uni-polar moment etc.; the uni-polar moment began in 1945 and ended in 2005. That is, a period of time that the interaction among the states on this planet was predominantly characterized by their relationship with the United States. Speaking of a Bipolar world during the Cold War was like speaking of GM vs. Chrysler (in their better days) – one was a colossus, the other a wannabe.
In regards to a limited war with limited aims: excepting Jordan, no neighboring state of Iraq was satisfied with the Ba’athist State and Saddam Hussein’s leadership. US could have established a limited war aim – ousting of Mr. Hussein (who had no friends) or the replacement of the Ba’athist State with a new dispensation and she could have cut in the Arab states, Iran, and Turkey to decide the shape of the future Iraq. She would have conceded power to these states but given the empirical evidence that US power was not sufficient to the task at hand in Iraq, the ceding of (that non-existent) power would have been a non-issue.
US chose, instead, to turn Iraq into a US-only project excluding regional actors who perceived their interests in jeopardy. US leaders chose the same approach in Afghanistan with analogous results; in my opinion.
A foreign minister of Japan once observed that as long as the Japanese were concentrating on their fine arts (with its melancholic beauty) they were barbarians. But once they started building dreadnaughts and defeated Imperial Russia in 1905 they became civilized.
Concentrating on Philosophy, Religion, Science, and the Fine Arts will get you destroyed.
In regards to the US-Israel relationship at the state level, I am sticking with the Dom Amerigo thesis. It explains so much, in my opinion. That so many protestants all over the world seems to have a special place for the State of Israel only makes the implementation of the Dom Amerigo’s racket that much easier.
I often wonder if there is a place one could go and find sober statesmen like Bismarck, Marshall, Stolypin, and others.
I seem to remember that Japan ended up being rather thoroughly destroyed: it is the only nation, so far, to have had atomic weapons used against it.
Another version of the story you tell is related in the memoirs of Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary in the period leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914:
Recalling the British response to the Japanese victory over Russia in the war of 1904-05, he wrote:
‘After the war Japan was extremely popular. The smaller nation had beaten the giant; British sporting instincts were gratified; we admired the efficiency to which the Japanese had attained and the rapidity with which they had learnt what we had to teach of naval construction and equipment, and the handling of things so complicated as modern ships of war. This feeling seemed to us natural, reasonable, and right. Not long afterwards I was told a story that put it in another light. The story ran that a Japanese in England, finding himself and his nation thus to be objects of admiration, reflected thus upon the course of events: “Yes,” he said, “we used to be a nation of artists; our art was really very good; you calls us barbarians then. Now art is not so good as it was, but we have learned how to kill, and you say we are civilized.”
‘The story was familiar to me long before the Great War; whether it is a true story I never knew, but here was a truth in it that gave me a feeling of discomfort, of question. What was the answer to such an observation? Was there something very wrong about our civilization and the virtues of which we felt so sure? The Great War has given us a terrible answer.’
I should perhaps add that pride of place in my living room is occupied by a triptych depicting the death of Admiral Makaroff, whose flagship was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in the early stages of the Russo-Japanese war. The style is similar to those in the pictures on this website:
They are indeed greatly inferior to the work of the artists such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, or Utamaro.
Li Yu & Shah Sultan Hussein were both interested in the fine arts and poetry. They were also the last of their respective dynasties.
In regards to the Japanese defeat – they miscalculated in assuming that a war with the United States was going to be short.
Japan was defeated in WWII, however thier culture was not destroyed. They are one of the few non-nuclear countries that could quite quickly become so – and the have the missile technology available to build ICBMs in short order; which would definitely change the view the rest of the world has of them.
You have to ask why the Japanese miscalculated. The short answer is that they committed themselves to a vision of national autonomy, achieved through the creation of an autarkic economic space — following familiar European models. The ultimate consequence was that, when their imperial project was decisively opposed by the Roosevelt Administration, the Japanese discovered they had backed themselves into a corner.
Either they had to abandon the imperial project, or face a war against a power whose war potential — according to their own estimates — was between seven and eight times larger than their own, and was effectively immune from attack.
It is questionable whether it is helpful to see their choice of the latter alternative as a kind of simple miscalculation. As Roberta Wohlstetter puts it in her study of U.S. intelligence failures before Pearl Harbor, war with the United States was not really chosen; the decision for war was ‘rather forced by the desire to avoid the more terrible alternative of losing status or abandoning the national objectives’ — that is, the whole imperial project.
Where Mrs Wohlstetter’s analysis however falls down is that she simply assumes that this kind of response was due to the fact that the weird Japanese did not live to ‘Western’ canons of ‘rationality’ — without asking how far we act according to these canons ourselves.
In relation to nuclear weapons, incidentally, I think the importance of considerations of status is commonly underestimated. There is an interesting treatment of the matter, in relation to India and Pakistan, in the lecture which the economist Amartya Sen gave to the Pugwash organisation back in 2000.
Also interesting in the lecture is Sen’s discussion of the reflections by Rabindranath Tagore on Japan, made in lectures delivered in 1917, when Europe was tearing itself apart in nationalist war:
‘Whether, or to what extent, powerful weapons empower a nation is not a new question. Indeed, well before the age of nuclear armament began, Rabindranath Tagore had expressed a general doubt about the fortifying effects of military strength, If “in his eagerness for power”, Tagore had argued in 1917, a nation “multiplies his weapons at the cost of his soul, then it is he who is in much greater danger than his enemies.”3 Tagore was not as uncompromisingly a pacifist as Mahatma Gandhi was, and his warning against the dangers of alleged strength through more and bigger weapons related to the need for ethically scrutinising the functions of these weapons and the exact uses to which they are to be put as well as the practical importance of the reactions and counteractions of others. The “soul” to which Tagore referred includes, as he explained, the need for humanity and understanding in international relations.
‘Tagore was not merely making a moral point, but also one of pragmatic importance, taking into account the responses from others that would be generated by one’s pursuit of military might. His immediate concern in the quoted statement was with Japan before the Second World War. Tagore was a great admirer of Japan and the Japanese, but felt very disturbed by its shift from economic and social development to aggressive militarisation. The heavy sacrifices that were forced on Japan later on, through military defeat and nuclear devastation, Tagore did not live to see (he died in 1941), but they would have only added to Tagore’s intense sorrow.’
On the central question of how nuclear weapons ’empower’ and, at what cost, Mrs Wohlstetter’s book is instructive — if not quite in the ways she thinks. Having remarked that ‘it gives one pause to contemplate how slightly the future acted as a curb on this particular aggressor’, she went on to remark that:
‘The future should hold even less of a threat today for the industrially inferior power. For it feasible with contemporary weapons for a series of opening clashes with forces-in-being to decide the outcome of war.’
The very real truth underlying this was that the imbalance in war potential between the United States and the Soviet Union after 1945 was comparable to that between the United States and Japan in 1941: in 1950, the U.S. was estimated to be producing more than ten times as many motor vehicles as the U.S.S.R. Accordingly, in a world without nuclear weapons, an immediate superiority in forces-in-being would have been as unlikely to guarantee eventual victory for the Soviets as it had been for the Japanese.
The effect of the introduction of nuclear — and even more thermonuclear — weapons into the equation was however to make it conceivable that a devastating preemptive — or indeed preventive — attack could do lethal damage to this potential before there was any chance of turning it into actual power. As one sees in the work of Roberta Wohlstetter and her husband, this real concern became the basis of absurd threat inflation, the legacy of which is still with us.
If one reflects seriously on their work in the light of what we now know about the development of Soviet military strategy, ironically, one finds very good grounds for thinking that the conventional wisdom according to which nuclear weapons stabilised the Cold War confrontation is likely to be the precise reverse of the truth.
Babak Makkinejad & David Habakkuk:
Thanks for the enlightened discourse, gentlemen. Least now I know more about Japanese art & sober statesmen.
You have been consistently holding the position that questions the entire edifice of the nuclear deterrence doctrine.
Your arguments, if I may paraphrase them, fall into 2 categories: the technical infeasibility of the requirements of such doctrines as MAD; and the inaccurate portrayal and often willful mis-representation of the other side’s intentions and capabilities (USSR) during the Cold War.
However, to what extend are your arguments relevant to the world we have entered after the collapse of the Peace of Yalta?
How are smaller non-aligned states to defend themselves against perceived threats of larger states?
How can Vietnam protect herself against China? Or Russian against China? Or Australia against any number of numerically superior potential enemies?
In the 1950, the US military strategy in a number of allied states was to use tactical nuclear weapons to prevent those states from being overrun by the Soviet Armies.
Has that changed? Will US or UK sustain the casualty rate of 7000 dead & wounded a day for years and not use (tactical) nuclear weapons?
Moreover, I once read that in order to bring about state collapse, between 5 to 7 percent of the population of that state have to be killed. How else is one going to reach that goal but with an assortment of weapons based on the application of nuclear physics?
Many world powers have used the policy of scaring other states so as to extract concessions from them. With the collapse of the Peace of Yalta and the absence of alternative military-political alliances under which one could seek protection many such sates may decide to do something besides being scared.
The regional context is an important consideration:
“During his visit to Tehran this week, Erdogan met with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — a rare honor for a foreign leader. (In 2007, Russia’s then-President Vladimir Putin was also accorded a meeting with Khamenei.) Turkey’s expanding ties to the Islamic republic — including gas supply contracts and preliminary agreements for major upstream and pipeline investment projects — are essential to consolidating Turkey’s role as the leading transit “hub” for oil and gas supplies to Europe. While in Iran, Erdogan said that he hopes Turkish-Iranian trade — currently valued at roughly $10 billion — will double by 2011 and strongly supported Iranian participation in the Nabucco gas pipeline. Meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Erdogan criticized international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear activities as “unjust and unfair” while other states maintain nuclear weapons.
“These statements signal that Turkey may well move ahead and conclude significant upstream and pipeline contracts in Iran despite U.S. opposition. The U.S. position on this issue is detached from economic reality. However much the Obama administration resists admitting it, the Nabucco pipeline will almost certainly not be commercially viable in the long run without Iranian gas volumes. In the end, Turkey’s approach to Iran does more for Western interests than does the U.S. approach. Under the Erdogan government, Ankara is increasingly confident that it can pursue its interests in the Middle East without either succumbing to U.S. pressure or fundamentally sacrificing its relationship with Washington….
“There is an important lesson here for the Obama administration. America no longer has the economic and political wherewithal to dictate strategic outcomes in the Middle East. Increasingly, if Washington wants to promote and protect U.S. interests in this critical region, it will have to do so through serious diplomacy — by respecting evolving balances of power and accommodating the legitimate interests of others so that U.S. interests will be respected. Turkey’s Middle East policy provides a valuable model of what that kind of diplomacy looks like.”
Interesting read via Haaretz. “Analysis: How Israel’s war with Iran will be fought”.
Except for a couple of sentences, the analysis looks highly flawed, imo, as it goes out of the way to reject the historical pattern that has existed to date. In fact, it goes so far out of the way to reject the obvious (massive US response vs. Iran is the GOI goal, a.k.a. the Cheney-Wurmser option from 07) that one can assume that the intent of the publication is to mask Israel’s true strategy as well as conceal how a war with Iran will really unfold.
The analysis,imo, intentionally disregards several salient points a couple of which are worth mentioning. An Israeli attack on Iran will endanger USM in Afghanistan and Iran, not to mention national security and economic interests worldwide, dictating a US response. Plus, historically, Israel has always known it cannot sustain a long term conflict, hence its pre-emptive strategy as well as its desire — particularly among Likud Zionist who worship the State with religious fervor — to create a scenario where it can legitimate turning the launch keys at Dimona, so to speak.