Saturday, March 24, 2012

MAD and Constriction

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and Bruce Riedel , a senior fellow at Brookings, have come up with a new new policy to handle Iran  -   constriction.

To contain Iran, or to preempt? That is, at present, the question. President Obama’s recent dismissal of containment as an option would seem to stack the deck. Unless Iran pauses its uranium enrichment activities, an Israeli or U.S. strike against its nuclear facilities looks likely by next year.

Containment always looks better in theory, or in retrospect, than it works in practice. Our four-decade containment of the Soviet Union included several near misses, including the Berlin crisis and the Cuban missile crisis. And given the Iranian regime’s willingness to resort to terror tactics — even on U.S. soil — and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s purported remarks about wiping Israel off the map, there are clear downsides to relying on Iranian rationality that the regime can be deterred.

On the other hand, preemption doesn’t look great either. The Iranian regime, while dangerous, does not have suicidal tendencies. And the consequences of any airstrike against Iran’s enrichment facilities at Qom and Natanz would probably not be limited to direct counterattacks by Iranian agents and proxies against U.S. or Israeli forces in the region: International economic sanctions and arms bans against Iran are likely to be weakened and International Atomic Energy Agency monitors ejected from the Islamic republic. And for what? A one- to three-year delay, not destruction, of the Iranian bomb program — as well as greater consensus within Iran to pursue the nuclear option.

The good news is that there is a third approach: constriction. Essentially, we would continue to delay and minimize the scale of Iran’s nuclear program as we have been doing through sanctions and other means. We would keep doing this indefinitely, even if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.

Force would not be categorically ruled out under such a policy. But it would have to pass a cost-benefit test. Near-term strikes against the uranium-enrichment centrifuge installations fail that test. But in the future, factors might be different. Large reactors that are able to produce bomb-grade plutonium could be reasonable targets down the line. They are easy to see and virtually impossible to place underground.

Under a constriction policy, we would continue to do our utmost to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. But we would recognize that even if Iran had a handful of bombs, the balance of power in the Middle East in both nuclear and conventional terms would still tilt overwhelmingly toward Israel.

If Iran continues to inch toward the bomb, our policy should take a page from how the international community has handled North Korea the past two decades. The first Bush administration believed that Pyongyang probably had one or two bombs, yet neither President George H.W. Bush nor President Bill Clinton threatened war over that capability. In 1994, however, when North Korea threatened to reprocess plutonium for more bombs and build large reactors that could create the material for several dozen a year, Defense Secretary William Perry was emphatic that a North Korean nuclear arsenal could not be tolerated. His warning was heard loud and clear in Pyongyang, and the agreed framework resulted. After the George W. Bush administration mishandled the North Korean nuclear problem in 2002 and 2003, Pyongyang reprocessed enough plutonium for six to eight weapons. Yet two decades into its own nuclear age, North Korea remains a minimal nuclear power with, at best, a small deterrent of last resort.

 I had to read the article several times to understand what the authors meant to say.  The authors do realize that containment cannot work since  “there are clear downsides to relying on Iranian rationality that the regime can be deterred “.   But they mean that Iran cannot be deterred  from attacking  Israel and  resorting to “terror tactics — even on U.S. soil”, but nothing is mentioned about deterring Iran from starting a global conflagration with the aim or bringing about the return of the Mahdi. True, for us in Israel this hardly matters, since we would be attacked in both cases, but it does matter in the context of their constriction policy scenario.

When it comes to preemption the authors state  “ The Iranian regime, while dangerous, does not have suicidal tendencies.  What I think they meant to say is that Iranians want to preserve their regime and their reaction to the preemption attack by Israel or the US would be severe. However, if we were to take Iranian intentions in the context of Shia eschatology, something that for the authors seems to be an unknown unknown ( Rumsfeld), this statement is clearly wrong since the Iranian regime in their zest to bring about the return of the Mahid  would very much  have suicidal tendencies.   
The authors proudly  present the third way - constriction,  under which  Iran would ,in the worst case scenario, be permitted to get the bomb but, the authors “recognize that even if Iran had a handful of bombs, the balance of power in the Middle East in both nuclear and conventional terms would still tilt overwhelmingly toward Israel”.

The rest of the article compares Iran to North Korea as if the North Korean priviligentia who does not believe in an afterlife is comparable to the Iranian mullahs who are willing to sacrifice 2/3 of the world population to get their Mahdi back.  

To me the whole article is mind-boggling in that these two scholars have come up with a new policy   on how to counter the Iranian threat without even mentioning the key Iranian motivations, their Shia eschatology and the Mahdi!  Once this is factored in the whole Constriction doctrine falls apart.  For someone seeking a global conflagration a handful of bombs placed in the US, Europe and Israel would  be quite enough.  

In the media of the West writing about Shia eschatology and the Mahdi in the context of Iranian regime’s motives has become a taboo.  Ibn Warraq in his new book  Why the West is Best  quotes John Stuart Mill on the freedom of expression:

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.   

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Containment Won't Work Against Iran - True, but not for the reasons mentioned in the article

When I received  Daniel Schwammenthal’s article Containment Won't Work Against Iran  I was enthusiastic . Finally someone, I thought, to elaborate what Bernard Lewis has been saying for years.   But having read it I was quite disappointed and frustrated.   It turned out to be an exercise in circumventing the truth.  How can anyone write an article about the Iranian threat and the inapplicability of the MAD doctrine without mentioning the Mahdi  and Shia eschatology? Alas, this seems to be the norm these days.   

Daniel Schwammenthal writes:

This is not just because mutually assured destruction might be more of an incentive than a deterrent for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those around him. Even assuming Tehran will act "rationally," MAD would still be too dangerous to contemplate. 

But nowhere does the author explain what is the reason why MAD might to the Iranians be “"more of an incentive than a deterrent".   The author paraphrases  Bernard Lewis’s famous quote  mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent—it's an inducement"  without giving Bernard Lewis’s explanation  “the mullahs are religious fanatics with an apocalyptic mindset. In Islam, as in Christianity and Judaism, there is an end-of-times scenario—and they think it's beginning or has already begun.

Writing about the Mahdi in the media of the West seems to be such a strong taboo that writers would rather make their articles inconsistent, fuzzy and unclear than tell the truth.   Political correctness kills clarity.

Daniel Schwammenthal continues

"Crucially, a nuclear standoff with Iran would lack a key component that     helped keep the Cold War from turning hot: a modicum of mutual trust." 

Wrong again. The key component that helped keep the Cold War from turning hot  was not a modicum of mutual trust but the facts that both sides wanted to live and did not have an eschatology which motivated them to sacrifice 2/3 of the human race to fulfill it .

This article is a scary reminder that the West out of political correctness has completely lost its ability to analyze the truth.  In addition, the article could only be published because so few people understand the core issue that most do not even see the glaring inconsistencies in Daniel Schwammenthal’s piece . And they understand so little because everybody has been avoiding to write about it for years.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Neville Chamberlain

>> i don't think as we stand today that military action by israel would be justified. i don't think the israelis should take that action now. we told them they shouldn't and said we wouldn't support it if they did. we've been very clear. i'm a friend of israel .israel has a right to exist as a democratic state . it's very, very important it knows it has strong allies like america, like the united kingdom , but i don't support action now because, frankly, we've got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path. they can have civil nuclear power , if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power , they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world . we need to keep up the pressure to encourage them to make the right choice.

Of course, David Cameron must have read Winston Churchill’s The Gathering Storm and  Lynn Olson’s Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England.     But he has learned absolutely nothing from history. He is repeating the same mistakes.  Fortunately, Israel has not forgotten.

On May 7, 1940 Leo Amery spoke in the Commons, attacking Neville Chamberlain's government, quoting Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" 

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. 

There is nobody to play Leo Amery's role today. But it is obvious that Netanyahu is destined to play Churchill's and become the leader of the Free World

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Nuclear Duck

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?

That’s right, it's a duck.  But this duck is a nuclear duck.  And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight, I'd like to talk to you about a subject that no one has been talking about recently…: Iran. 

Every day, I open the newspapers and read about these redlines and these timelines.  I read about what Israel has supposedly decided to do, or what Israel might do.   

Well, I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do,  I never talk about that.  But I do want to talk to you about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran.  I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.  

President Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent that from happening.  He stated clearly that all options are on the table,   and that American policy is not containment.   

Well, Israel has exactly the same policy -- We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option.

The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. 

A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped. 

Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons.  You see, Iran claims to do everything it's doing, that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes. 
Yeah, that's  right.

A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions,  is doing all that in order to advance…medical research.
So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  It’s only carrying medical isotopes.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?

That’s right, it's a duck.  But this duck is a nuclear duck.  And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Fortunately, President Obama and most world leaders understand that the claim that Iran's goal is not to develop nuclear weapons is simply ridiculous. 

Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs. 

Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it's not crazy.   It’s detestable but it’s deterrable.

My friends, 
Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons.

And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.

From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm.  It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats.  It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports Assad's brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism: it sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America. 

Iran's proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and they fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians. 

Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans. 

In 1983, Iran's proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 US Marines.  In the last decade, it's been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in a restaurant just a few blocks from here.  The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and  Congressmen would have been murdered in the process. 

Now this is real chutzpa: Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that's as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and they do…

Iran calls for Israel's destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day, relentlessly.  

I say all his to make one point clear -- This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons.  Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons.  Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.

There's been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran.  I think it's time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran. 

A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella.

It means that Iran's terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic bombs.  So the terrorism could grow tenfold.

A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and could make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz.
If you're worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.  

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.  The world's most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off.  And here's the worst nightmare of all, with nuclear weapons, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism. 

It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city, anywhere in the world.

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." 

When you think about that m you'll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons! 

Of course, the best outcome would be if Iran decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program peacefully.  No one would be happier than me and the people of Israel if Iran dismantled its program.  

But so far, that hasn't happened.  For fifteen years, I've been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world.  

For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy.  It hasn't worked. 

For six years, the international community has applied sanctions.  That hasn't worked either. 

I appreciate President Obama's recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran.  These sanctions are hurting Iran's economy, but unfortunately, Iran's nuclear program continues to march forward.

Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue.  We've waited for diplomacy to work.  We've waited for sanctions to work.  None of us can afford to wait much longer. 

As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb.  They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran.

I’ve heard these arguments before.  In fact, I've read them before -- In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department.  

Here are the letters:

The year was 1944.  The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz.  The reply came five days later.  I want to read it to you.  

"Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…

and in any case, it  would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources…"

And, my friends, here’s the most remarkable sentence of all, and I quote:
"Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans."

Think about that – "even more vindictive action" -- than the Holocaust.

 My Friends,

2012 is not 1944.  The American government today is different.  You heard it in President Obama's speech yesterday.  

But here's my point:  

The Jewish people are also different.  Today we have a state of our own.  And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. 

Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again.

That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.  

My Friends, 

We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries.  But when it comes to Israel's survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel's fate is to continue to be the forward position of freedom in the Middle East.  The only place in the Middle East where minorities enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith; the only place in the Middle East where real judges protect the rule of law.

And as Prime Minister of Israel, I will always protect Israel's democracy – always.  I will never allow anything to threaten Israel's democratic way of life.  and most especially, I will never tolerate any discrimination against women.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history.  

In Synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim.  We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people.

And we will read how that plot was foiled by one courageous woman – Esther.

In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people.

In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.  

And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself.  

So as I leave you tonight I thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state. 

Thank you all and happy Purim.

On May 7, 1940 Leo Amery spoke in the Commons, attacking Neville Chamberlain's government, quoting Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" 

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. 

There is nobody to play Leo Amery's role today. But it is obvious that Netanyahu is destined to play Churchill's role and become the leader of the Free World, and with that happening Obama does not stand a chance on Nov 7