Monday, January 16, 2006

A Game of Chicken


It appears that Iran has or is going to have nuclear weapons shortly. Which is one thing, to take the President of Iran seriously, he intends to use them. That is something else. As Wretchard of the Belmont Club noted in the his comments section, the evidence is much stronger than for Iraq, but every one now has a much healthier respect for the limitations of any intelligence estimate.

John Keegan (HR:Belmont club) has an article reviewing the difficulties of military action to close down Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

America and the EU3 must therefore consider other, harsher methods to restrain Iran. The fact that the United States at present deploys a large army in Iraq is a factor that must give the ayatollahs pause. To stage a second war in the Middle East would not be a desirable initiative at present for America and would certainly be highly unpopular at home and among its allies. Moreover, Iran, as the possessor of the second largest oil reserves in the world and occupier of a strategic position athwart the sea routes delivering oil to most of the consuming world, has its own means of retaliation ready to hand.

Nevertheless, the West cannot simply let things drift. Military action by whatever agency cannot be written out, but will be a last resort. ... For if the West is considering military action, so are the ayatollahs. ... Moreover, while Iran has its own armoury of medium-range missiles suitable for nuclear delivery, the ayatollahs are also known to favour the placing of nuclear warheads in target cities by terrorists travelling by car or public transport. This is a bad and worrying time in world affairs.

Niall Ferguson has a look at the world war of 2007.

So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.

Victor David Hanson (HT: Dignified Rant) also discusses the possibilies.

Experts warn that we are not talking about a Clintonian one-day cruise-missile hit, or even something akin to General Zinni’s 1998 extended Operation Desert Fox campaign. Rather, the challenges call for something far more sustained and comprehensive — perhaps a week or two of bombing at every imaginable facility, many of them hidden in suburbs or populated areas. Commando raids might need to augment air sorties, especially for mountain redoubts deep in solid rock

We have a nice little game of chicken.

Allowing a regime like Iran’s to have Nukes is dangerous.

-More so to Iran’s neighbors than to the US. If Iran’s leaders are willing to use nukes against the Israel they are probably willing to use them to solve disputes with other neighbors.

-They probably do not yet have the ability to insure that a nuke is an airburst rather than a ground burst, and even it they do they would be very likely to choose a ground burst against Israel to make the destruction more complete. Ground bursts pick up large amounts of surface material as dust, make it radio active, this is what “falls out.” A ground burst could create radioactive fallout that would impact a large area outside Israel, depending on many variables Chernobyl could be a minor comparison.)

Most every country in the area has a strong desire to see that Iran never uses nukes. The theoretical possibility of fallout patterns covering Western Europe probably explains why the EU3 started their negotiation process and why it is a major issue to them. Except for Europe collectively, probably Israel, maybe Russia depending on what still works, and the US, no country has the ability to take out the nukes unilaterally. But many countries from India to the EU member’s individually have the ability to make a notable contribution.

Neither the US nor Israel wants to go it alone. The other countries do not want to contribute if they can avoid it. So it is a game of chicken, will the US or Israel will jump and go it alone. Or will other counties turn aside from their previous course and sign on to a cooperative effort.

Which makes this snippet of an interview of from the German magazine Spiegel interesting. (HT: David’s Medienkritik

SPIEGEL: How concerned are you about Iran?

Rumsfeld: All of us have to be concerned when a country that important, large and wealthy is disconnected from the normal interactions with the rest of the world. They obviously have certain ambitions, powers and military capabilities ...

SPIEGEL: ...and nuclear ambitions...

Rumsfeld: That's apparently what France, Germany, the UK and the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded. Everyone wants to have the Iranians as part of the world community, but they aren't yet. Therefore there's less predictability and more danger.

SPIEGEL: The US is trying to make the case in the United Nations Security Council.

Rumsfeld: I would not say that. I thought France, Germany and the UK were working on that problem.

SPIEGEL: What kind of sanctions are we talking about?

Rumsfeld: I'm not talking about sanctions. I thought you, and the U.K. and France were.

SPIEGEL: You aren't?

Rumsfeld: I'm not talking about sanctions. You've got the lead. Well, lead!

SPIEGEL: You mean the Europeans.

Rumsfeld: Sure. My Goodness, Iran is your neighbour. We don't have to do everything!


For the tyrants must come down an' dictators frown
When our Uncle named Sam says "Stop"!
(Poor beggars! -- we're sent to say "Stop"!)

I know responsibilities, wanted or not, come with being the worlds only super power, but IMHO it is someone else’s turn to say “STOP”!.


Zek said...

Iran's leader has stated that he wants Israel wiped off the map, but many people on the left do not believe him. It sometimes feels that it is 1938 all over again.

The EU3 is very worried about their oil imports from other Arab countries. The 1973 oil embargo had a serious effect on the European mentality to adequately stand up for themselves.

Although Iran's nuke would not have a huge range. Israel is the canary in the mine, like Czechoslovakia was in 38.

hank_F_M said...

Hi Christopher


Feel free to poke around. You might like the Maothought post in the Best Of section.

The European Nations are actually very hard headed on items of their choice. Our differences with them are the choice of items to be hard headed about.

Yes they are concerned about oil, but a missile that can hit Israel from West Central Iran can hit major parts of the EU from North West Iran. They are worried about Iran in a way they were never worried about Iraq. And Saddam was probably easier to “buy” than the Iran’s President.

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