"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, April 17, 2006

Danger in Iran

The highly insightful political analyst Ilana Mercer has an excellent article about the situation in Iran, in WorldNetDaily. Mercer, who is a libertarian who opposed the United States' incursion into Iraq, points out that the current sanguine attitude in the American media and policy communities toward Iran is dangerously misguided, for in Mercer's view, Iran is much more dangerous than Iraq was. She notes that conforming one's opinion of the situation in Iraq according to what policy one would prefer to pursue, as opposed to basing one's preferred policy on the reality of the situation, is ideological and stupid.

She is perfectly correct. Mercer notes, referring in particular to those who oppose President Bush's policy toward Iraq (as she herself has done from the start):

That Bush has made the world safer for aggression and bears a great deal of responsibility for the recent escalation ... does nothing to diminish the threat from Iran.

While continuing to adhere to her opposition to Bush's Iraq policy, Mercer takes an objective look at Iran and its intentions and refuses to ignore what should be evident to all. To wit:

[B]esides the last letters of their names, Iran and the pre-invasion, hobbled, Third-World country we pulverized differ vastly on the menace scale. Iran is jihad central – it's a gaily open supporter of terrorism across the Islamic world. It finances Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and Syria and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority; its tentacles innervate Iraq, Bosnia and Croatia – and beyond.

Iran is also the last nation on Earth that needs nuclear power, and the first to have solemnly promised to atomically annihilate a regional neighbor.

Mercer is right. Iran is a serious danger. We should certainly discuss all options in considering what to do about it, including doing nothing at all. But we should not hide our heads in the sand and pretend the danger does not exist.

12 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"Mercer is right. Iran is a serious danger. We should certainly discuss all options in considering what to do about it, including doing nothing at all. But we should not hide our heads in the sand and pretend the danger does not exist."

Certainly Iran is a danger. They are a fanatical thoecratic state that hates us thoroughly and possesses a fair amount of power.

They are not however an imminent threat except to our already catastrophic undertaking in Iraq. They are not projected to have a nuclear weapon for close to a decade. Nor do they have a delivery system for said bomb that is a threat to the US (Europe is another matter).

But more importantly, if you want to talk options they boil down to this: none. We have no leverage. Our military is bogged down and cracking under the pressure of its current demands. Our foothold in Iraq is tenuous at best. Our ability to negotiate with them is nil due to our own saber rattling and their knowledge of our weakness.

Precisely what kind of options is it you want to discuss?

tbmbuzz said...

The U.S. military is NOT cracking and is fully capable of putting a serious hurt on Iran via air and missile strikes. This is precisely the leverage the U.S. has on Iran.

Iran's calculation of "our" weakness is merely their knowledge that the world's weenies have no will to do anything against Iran and that the U.S. most likely would have to go it alone. The saber rattling backed by concrete action of the Bush administration has put the world on notice. In other words, the world's scumbags are uncertain as to how the U.S. will react to a given situation, especially now that the pre-emption option is on the table as new U.S. policy. This is strength, not weakness.

James Elliott said...

So, in other words, Mercer validates the prevailing Democrat and liberal critique of the Iraq misadventure: Namely that it distracted attention and pulled resources from far greater threats. Glad to hear you're on-board with the rest of us, Sam.

Tlaloc said...

"The U.S. military is NOT cracking"

Read many pentagon reports recently?




"and is fully capable of putting a serious hurt on Iran via air and missile strikes. This is precisely the leverage the U.S. has on Iran"

Can the US hurt Iran? Sure. Can we take them out? No probably not. We can certainly lob tomahawks at them all at the low low price of three quarters of a milion dollars each. And the moment we do start lobbing bombs at them Iraq is history for us. Sadr has openly called for his militia to attack the US troops if we attack Iran.

Our forces aren't capable of handling the insurgency currently underway. Having a major Shiite militia (even if Sadr's was the only one which it might not be) start attacking us would be game over. Iraq would become a US rout instead of merely a quagmire.



"In other words, the world's scumbags are uncertain as to how the U.S. will react to a given situation, especially now that the pre-emption option is on the table as new U.S. policy. This is strength, not weakness. "

Pre-emption is not on the table because we siomply do not have the force to carry it out. We cannot accomplish a bombing campaign that will disarm Iran. We've admitted this. Too many targets and too well hardened. We do not have anywhere near the foot soldiers on hand to sustain a ground assault. And if we try our forward operating base in Iraq is toast. The one in Pakistan wouldn't be very trustworthy either (remember Pakistan? The country that already has nukes and is 15 minutes away from a hardline islamic takeover?).

Look, dude, when even Israel is telling us to chill out you know we've gone way past the point of any sense.

Tlaloc said...

by the way in case you missed the story look here for some details on how the military is in fact stretched to the breaking point by its' current deployment:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0126/dailyUpdate.html?s=rel

Not real hard top see that any plan that involves Iraq going from bad to worse and trying to march into Tehran is a non-starter.

Tom Van Dyke said...

A conventional military intervention in Iran was never in the cards. It is mountainous like Afghanistan, and has more than twice the population of Iraq. Geez. Even if Rumsfeld and Bush are incompetent, they're not stupid.

The US is just doing its moral duty in trying to wake up the EUers, and Russia, for that matter. It is they who will suffer.

We know they will not hear, just as they would not hear about Hitler.

But we try, anyway, even though they are corrupt, and weak, because it would be immoral not to. The result of an Iranian/Islamic bomb will probably not even be the explosion of one. Instead, it will be the subjugation of secularism and the Enlightenment to dhimmitude: Islamic law and Balkanization will creep into the polity. Family matters will get their separate Islamic courts, as is already happening in Canada. Freedom of the press slits its wrists in the face of a palpable threat to home and family. Cracking down on "street" protests will become impossible, as if France's nightly, brightly aflame automobiles hasn't already proven that it is.

Jihad is but a crude, unnuanced form of Islamism. Like the man said, it'll go down not with a bang but a whimper. Since Hiroshima, the efficacy of nuclear weapons lies not in their unspeakable but measurable reality as weapons, but in their threat.

The threat of violence has more power than violence itself. That's what this is all about.

Tlaloc said...

Like I said what options are you really suggestiong? It seems you think our choice boils down to threatening others with a course of action we dare not take.

Where I come from it's considered pretty trashy to talk big when you can't back it up. Even in politics.

Devang said...

Sanctions on Investment, rather than full fleged sanctions were argued for by Fred Kaplan in Slate. Aren't both measures likely to take oil to $100/barrel?

This might, nay, will probably give moderates in Iran more time to reform the country.

Another good article by Kaplan.

And as for reality, covered by the alternative media... it's more of the same, covert ops, and more politics.

tbmbuzz said...

Like I said what options are you really suggestiong? It seems you think our choice boils down to threatening others with a course of action we dare not take.

Where I come from it's considered pretty trashy to talk big when you can't back it up. Even in politics.



Seems to me you have it exactly backward, Tlaloc. The ones who are talking big without being able to back it up are the Iranian mullahs via their puppet Ahmadinejad. It is Iran that has consistently been threatening to wipe Israel off the map for the past year and talking about how the world would be a better place without the U.S. Can you imagine the reaction of the UN pricks if Israel or the U.S. threatened to annihilate some country? Iran should just try! If they lob just one missile at Israel, Iran is toast, courtesy of a combined massive US/Israeli strike.

No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran by U.S. forces. Air strikes against their nuclear facilities, military assets, and infrastructure would more than suffice to set them back by decades, should it come to that.

But time and a pro-Western young populace in Iran may be our strongest allies there. The key is to maintain pressure on the REGIME and make it clear we are doing so.

Tlaloc said...

"The ones who are talking big without being able to back it up are the Iranian mullahs via their puppet Ahmadinejad."

Oh yeah they do a lot of that. Although how much Ahmadinejad represents the mullahs is a point of debate. Obviously the Supreme leader has the real power and that isn't going to change anytime soon. The various presidents however often do not represent the mullahs for the very simple reason that they don't have to since they are pretty impotent.

Anyway I certainly find Iran's blusters to be trashy as well.



"No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran by U.S. forces."

Except of course the whitehouse.



"Air strikes against their nuclear facilities, military assets, and infrastructure would more than suffice to set them back by decades, should it come to that."

Not according to the pentagon, the Israelis, and anybody who has studied the situation. The feeling is unanimous among them that airstrikes cannot succeed. Too many targets, targets too hardened, too good air defense, too unstable a platform to launch from. The air campaign is a loser. It'll generate all the trouble with no hope of victor.

Naturally that's why we'll do it.



"But time and a pro-Western young populace in Iran may be our strongest allies there."

They would be if we would just back off and let it work. The populace will become more pro-mullah as we ratchet up the war talk. Nobody likes being threatened by a bully. The tech savy Iranian younger generation can read red state talking about turning Tehran into glass just as easily as you or me. And their reaction is the same as yours when Al Qaeda talks about killing Americans indiscriminately.

Much like Iraq we keep insist on manufacturing crisis after crisis by doing the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way.

tbmbuzz said...

"No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran by U.S. forces."

Except of course the whitehouse.



Horsepucky. The White House's official position is that all options are on the table.


Not according to the pentagon, the Israelis, and anybody who has studied the situation. The feeling is unanimous among them that airstrikes cannot succeed. Too many targets, targets too hardened, too good air defense, too unstable a platform to launch from. The air campaign is a loser. It'll generate all the trouble with no hope of victor.

Where do you get this "unanimous" fiction from? (Other than left wing websites, of course). You're making Iran out to be some kind of nation of supermen. Keep in mind this is the same military that was held to a stalemate by Saddam's "superman" military. Maybe one or two of their sites may be hardened and deep enough underground to survive our bunker busters, but it is a certainty that most of them are not. The goal of airstrikes against Iran would not only be the limited goal of destroying or setting back their nuclear program, but also to knock out their military assets such as their missile launchers, air force, naval facilities, etc, as well as to decapitate the regime. The non-nuclear ordnance and weaponry we possess would be more than sufficient to do the job.

You see, the civilized world now has only two choices with regard to Iran - a very bad choice and a worst choice. The worst choice is to do nothing.

Iran is the face of aggressive Islamisism. Iran IS an imminent threat, contrary to your statement, because they have exported terror and carried out attacks worldwide since 1979, the year they declared de facto war on the U.S. and seized U.S. territory. A world with a nuclear-armed Iran would be absolutely terrifying. Why naive pacifists prefer a world such as this is beyond me.

This IS a war between civilizations, i.e. Islam against everyone else. The final conflict was inevitable ever since Mohammed won a few battles and consolidated his power and perverse ideology forever.

Tlaloc said...

"Horsepucky. The White House's official position is that all options are on the table."

What part of "all options" precludes a ground war? Thank you for proving my point.




"Where do you get this "unanimous" fiction from?"

From precisely the sources mentioned: Israel, the pentagon, war games undertaken to simulate an Iran attack using high placed government figures, etc.



"You're making Iran out to be some kind of nation of supermen."

No not at all. Their airforce is nothing spectacular. They are reported to have a very good anti-air system. We can certainly neutralize that given time but it will be costly. On top of that they have some of the most advanced drilling technology in the world and have had decades in which to dig tunnels for use in exactly this kind of thing. Our best bunker busters can't penetrate more than a couple hundred feet of rock. Their tunnels can easily be 10x that deep.

Furthermore unlike Iraq we know their nuclear program is spread out over at least a dozen and quite possible hundreds of sites.

Given that a few days after we start attacking Iran Iraq is going to explode (and Pakistan may as well) we simply aren't going to have the time to conduct the campaign.



"Maybe one or two of their sites may be hardened and deep enough underground to survive our bunker busters, but it is a certainty that most of them are not."

Based on what? Where do you get that?




"The non-nuclear ordnance and weaponry we possess would be more than sufficient to do the job."

You vastly oversetimate the effectiveness of bombing. Look Iraq was a mess. It had been thoroughly abused over a dozen years of sanctions and airstrikes and yet when we decided to depose saddam did bombing do it? No. We had to put troops on the ground. That was Iraq.

Iran is twice as large has a much larger population. Hasn't been starved fro money or subject to constant harrassing attacks, and yet you think we can all of a sudden rely on some magic super bomb?



"Iran IS an imminent threat, contrary to your statement, because they have exported terror and carried out attacks worldwide since 1979, the year they declared de facto war on the U.S. and seized U.S. territory. A world with a nuclear-armed Iran would be absolutely terrifying. Why naive pacifists prefer a world such as this is beyond me."

Preference isn't a factor. Iran will have a bomb if they want one. Nothing short of genocide on our part will stop that. You can bluff and bluster all you like but the US is impotent in this matter and Tehran knows it. The world knows it. There is a reason Chavez (Venezuela) has gotten away with so much: because we can't do anything about it.