Monday, April 29, 2013

Douglas Murray and Kate Hudson on Nuclear Deterrence

Douglas Murray understands that MAD is still  applicable only to those nuclear states which can be deterred, but that everything should be done to prevent rogue states like Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  Kate Hudson apparently lives in a parallel universe of wishful thinking. So much so that she believes that Winston Churchill would back her arguments on disarmament, which is not supported by this speech  Winston Churchill gave in  the House of Commons in 1955. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daniel Pipes: Iran deadline is not just the matter of months, but even weeks

Center for Security Policy, April 16, 2013

20 min 24 seconds into the video Daniel Pipes said: 

Fifth. Talking about Iran, four more years have gone by, and now I can’t say nothing has happened, I do not know enough to say that, and there could be all sorts of things going on below the surface, behind the screen, but we are very close to a deadline. From what I understand from informed sources – if we haven’t not done anything, or if the Israelis haven’t done anything by September, the Iranians will have reached the point, crossed the red line, reached the point of breakout, so it’s not just the matter of months, but even weeks before the two governments face the choice of bomb or get the bomb.

Iran has crossed the nuclear red line set by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin announced on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Tel Aviv conference held by the Institute for National Security Studies, which he heads, Yadlin later clarified the remarks, saying, “If Iran continues to enrich uranium at its current rate, toward the end of the year it will cross the red line in a clear manner.”
Earlier, the former army intelligence head said, “Despite all of the attempts made to stop the nuclear program, no one is able to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.”
Tuesday’s comments are in line with an assessment made by Yadlin in February, when he said that, at its current rate of uranium enrichment, the Islamic Republic would reach nuclear breakout capacity between June and August.

Netanyahu has defined Israel’s red line regarding Iran as the possession of 250 kg. of uranium enriched to the 20 percent level, known as medium-enriched uranium.
According to an International Atomic Energy Agency report released in February, Tehran has not crossed that point, but has already amassed 167 kg. of uranium enriched to that level.
“By the summer, Iran will be a month or two away from a decision about the bomb,” Yadlin said at the INSS conference, adding that the decision whether to advance beyond that will be made after Iran’s presidential elections in June.
Once Iran amasses sufficient enriched uranium, “it will be very hard to stop,” Yadlin said. “If the US, Iran and Israel all stand behind their announcements, then we are on a collision course toward the end of the year.”
According to the former Military Intelligence head, Tehran already has enough low-enriched uranium for six bombs, and nearly enough medium-enriched uranium for one bomb.
“They have no problem converting back what they allegedly turned to nuclear fuel. Within a week, it could be turned into nuclear material for a bomb,” he warned, referring to Iran’s decision in 2012 to reduce international tensions by converting some of its enriched uranium to fuel rods.
In reality, Yadlin told Channel 2, the uranium was not converted to fuel rods, but rather, to uranium oxide, which is easy to turn back to nuclear material, a process that can be completed within a week, he said.
In London last week, Netanyahu told the BBC that Iran has crept up to the red line for the production of a nuclear weapon – which he dramatically referenced when he held up a diagram of a bomb as he spoke at the United Nations General Assembly opening session in the fall – but has not crossed it. He explained that Iran was 80 kg.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is there a limit to human stupidity?

Thomas Pickering, Lee Hamilton, General Michael Hayden among former top officials who back report claiming US policies 'may have narrowed the options for dealing with Iran by hardening the regime's resistance to pressure'
Yitzhak Benhorin
04.19.13, 08:12 / Israel News
WASHINGTON - A panel of former senior American officials and outside experts expressed their support on Thursday for a document which calls on President Barack Obama to reconsider the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran.

The report, published by a panel called the Iran Project, said US policies "may have slowed but they have not stopped the advancement of Iran's nuclear program. They have not led to a breakthrough in nuclear talks (sanctions have weakened Iran's economy but not yet led to changed policies or actions); nor have they improved Iran's human rights practices."

According to the paper, titled "Strategic options for Iran: Balancing pressure with diplomacy," US policies "may have narrowed the options for dealing with Iran by hardening the regime's resistance to pressure… After 30 years of sanctioning and trying to isolate Iran, it seems doubtful that pressure alone will change the decision of Iran's leaders… A strengthened diplomatic track that includes the promise of sanctions relief in exchange for verifiable cooperation could help to end the standoff and produce a nuclear deal."

'Balance has been misaligned.' Military procession in Iran (Photo: AFP)

The former officials, including several who recently left the Obama administration, said in the letter of support that they "applaud the drafters of this paper and their goal of contributing an objective, nonpartisan analysis to a complex and important policy discussion." However, they stressed they "do not necessarily agree with every word in this properly detailed and balanced report."

Among those who signed the letter of support are Thomas Pickering, one of the most revered ambassadors in the history of US diplomacy; former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission; General Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA during George W. Bush's presidency; and former Republican senator Richard Lugar.

Pickering, who served as ambassador to Israel, among other countries, told the New York Times "I fundamentally believe that the balance between sanctions and diplomacy has been misaligned," and urged Obama to review the covert program against Iran – which has included computer sabotage of its nuclear facilities – to "stop anything that is peripheral, that is not buying us much time" in slowing Iran’s progress.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the administration was sticking with its approach.

"We just completed a series of diplomatic talks" with America's allies in dealing with Tehran, she said, "including three recent rounds of meetings that included Iran." She added that a "dual track approach of rigorous sanctions and serious negotiations is the right approach. However, the onus is on Iran to take the next steps and move the process forward."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ya'alon: Israel may have to defend itself from Iran alone

When both the defense minister and the IDF chief of staff are talking about attacking the Iranian nuclear facilities, it seems that my analysis from 2008 Facing Iran, Alone might  becoming reality

During an Independence Day speech in Herzliya, defense minister says that Israel must prepare for he possibility of striking the Iranian nuclear program on its own, warns Tehran's drive for nukes could end in disaster.

Iran is unimpressed with the West's steps against the Islamic Republic's nuclear program so far, and Israel must prepare for the possibility of striking the Iranian nuclear program on its own, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned Tuesday, during an Independence Day speech he delivered to guests at Herzliya.
Describing the Iranian nuclear program as "the most significant" threat not only to Israel, but to the Middle East and the "modern world," Ya'alon said Tehran's drive for nuclear capabilities could end in disaster.
"It could spark an arms race in the Middle East, and cause nuclear weapons to spread to terror organizations. This situation could be a nightmare for the Western world," he warned.
"The world's response to the Iranian nuclear program was delayed. The fact that centrifuges in Iran are continuing to spin, and that enriched uranium has already been collected, proves that the regime in Tehran is not impressed by these steps taken so far. Even more so, the regime in Tehran does not identify determination in the Western world to stop its nuclear project, and it therefore allows itself to continue to develop it," the defense minister continued.
"Only by placing the Iranian regime before the dilemma of having a bomb or [risking its] survival will lead to the project being stopped.," he said.
"Only a significant increase in sanctions, international isolation, assistance, as well as moral support to the repressed citizens of Iran, and a credible military option, will convince the regime in Tehran that its survival is preferable to the military nuclear project," he added.
Israel should not lead the campaign against Iran, Ya'alon said, but Israel is the first target of the Ayatollah regime, he added, citing threats by Iranian rulers to destroy Israel.
"The world must lead the campaign against Iran, but Israel must prepare for the possibility that it will have to defend itself with its own powers," he said.
"As someone who experienced wars and lost friends, subordinates, commanders, and brothers in arms, I'm convinced that using military power is the last resort. As the defense minister of Israel, I must do all I can in my decisions to avoid sorrow and bereavement... But we must be prepared to use military power if we must, and to overcome our enemies sharply, clearly, and quickly." During his speech, Ya'alon said that ins ome senses, "the War of Independence hasn't ended yet. Security forces are facing, and will continue to face in the coming years, challenges on various fronts, from near to far, along our borders, and in states that are not close to us." Conventional military threats have decreased, but terrorist organizations, rockets, missiles, and Iran remain a threat, he said.
"The threats have only changed, taken on a different form, [they're] evasive, slippery, uncurbed, and can surprise and cause damages to Israel and its citizens." Hezbollah and Hamas are armed with tens of thousands of rockets of different types, and on the day they receive the order, "they'll fire them at our cities and civilians. Although Hezbollah is busy these months with combat on behalf of the regime of Basher al-Assad in Syria, it is ready for a conflict with Israel, with Iranian and Syrian assistance," he added.
"Lebanese citizens and their leaders must understand that for every Hezbollah attack on us, the organization and Lebanon itself will be considered responsible and will pay the price," Ya'alon said.
The brutal Syrian civil war presents security risks, but also opportunities, he added.
"The fact that Arab states are busy with themselves and their survival... prevents them from focusing on us," Ya'lon said.

Gantz: IDF can attack Iran nuke sites on its own

In interview with Israel Radio, IDF chief of staff says Israel is ready for escalation on all fronts, including Syria, Lebanon.

The IDF has the ability to attack the Iranian nuclear sites without help from other nations, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told Israel Radio in a lengthy interview aired Tuesday.
When asked if the IDF has the capabilities to attack alone in Iran, Gantz answered "unequivocally, yes."
The Iranian challenge is a meaningful one. We must look at it strategically long-term. We will do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done," he said.
Gantz told Israel Radio that the top political and military officials discussed a possible strike in Iran, but denied reports that there were arguments on the topic. "There are long, continuous discussions, and I presume we'll have more of those in the future."
On the northern front, Gantz assured that the IDF is ready for a possible military confrontation with Syria and with Lebanon. "We are ready, at any given time, and in an immediate manner, for a war with Syria, both on the defense and on the offense. I don't see it happening tomorrow morning, but despite that we are ready."
On the southern front, Gantz discussed the achievements of Operation Pillar of Defense last November, saying the relative quiet that has been maintained since the ceasefire agreement with Hamas at the end of the Operation is a testament to the deterrence Israel established.
"There were several isolated incidents lately that were made to appear more prominent because of the relative quiet, and rightfully so. We have no intention to go back to the situation that was before Pillar of Defense. If this quiet continues [and no rockets are fired], there will be quiet in the Gaza Strip. If the quiet does not continue, there will be no quiet in the Gaza Strip and it will be very painful [for the Hamas leadership] and we will not be afraid to resume our operations in the Strip and even extend them," he said.
"We must not forget that the Hamas holds full and direct responsibility to everything that happens in the Gaza Strip. If rockets are fired from [the Strip], it's either because Hamas allows it or because it doesn't control the Strip. It is [Hamas'] responsibility and we will demand that of it," he added.
The chief of staff also said the situation in the West Bank is not as grave as it was prior to the outburst of the first and second intifada, and asserted he does not think a third intifada is currently on the horizon. Regardless, Gantz assured that the IDF is ready for any possible escalation.
Gantz also spoke at length about the enlistment of haredim into army service, asserting that "in principle, any citizen needs to serve their country" and promising the process will be "gradually, evolving."
The chief of staff also stressed that the IDF needs any offered manpower to maintain the level of preparedness of its soldiers and its reserve soldiers.
"There are more fronts, more challenges. We need to be able to perform operational duty, as well as be in the required level of readiness for any possible escalation. We also need to allow our reserve soldiers to drill as required and not just do operational duties. The more manpower we have, our response on a day-to-day basis will be better," he explained

update, April 17, 2013

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have adopted a resolution according to which the US will support Israel in case it is compelled to take military action and actualize its right to self defense in the face of an Iranian threat. The resolution stipules Israel will enjoy diplomatic, economic and military aid.

According to the resolution, the US's policy is to halt Iranian nuclear ambitions. The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and it successfully gained the support of 70 of the 100 senators. (Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington

It is not clear what the impact of the above resolution will be since foreign policy is in the hands of the President 

Monday, April 8, 2013

We will never entrust others with our fate, not even the best of our friends

 --- Translation --

Recently, we have witnessed horrific acts of violence against the elderly, including elderly Holocaust survivors. There is nothing that contradicts Jewish heritage, the values of our country and basic human morality more than this. We will not tolerate it, and I consider it my duty to apply the full weight of the State and Government of Israel to make sure that the culprits are severely punished.  This was what I instructed.  We are committed to maintaining the dignity and safety of our elderly citizens in general, and we have a special commitment to the welfare of Holocaust survivors in particular. Today, the Government added resources for care, welfare and medications for Holocaust survivors, and we will add as much as needed, with an open heart. 

Holocaust survivors are the symbol of our revival. They, who witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, deserve to spend their remaining days in peace and tranquility.  In the words of the Prophet Zachary: "Old men and old women will once again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with his staff in his hand in advanced age". In advanced age – in safety, comfort and dignity.

Citizens of Israel,

In every generation, they rise up to destroy us. In every generation, we must see ourselves as if we have survived the Holocaust and founded this country. In every generation, we are committed to ensuring that there will not be another Holocaust.  During the time of the Holocaust, we were unable to prevent the annihilation. Many failed to identify the danger in time, and once they did, it was already too late.  The trap was set; the trap was sprung.  The gates of this land were shut to Jewish refugees, as were the gates of most countries, although not all, including those of the most enlightened ones.

From that point, the path to eradicating our six million brothers and sisters was easy.  The hatred against Jews, which culminated in Nazi Germany, the weakness of the Jews in exile and the impotence of the world's nations – the combination of these three elements resulted in the tragedy of the Holocaust. However, from the depths of darkness, the Jewish fate underwent a major transformation.  In the death camps and ghettos, in the Warsaw ghetto – after which this square is named – Jewish history changed.  There, Jewish resistance was revived and the spirit of the Maccabees was rediscovered.  The flag of rebellion was raised once again.  From lows not known to man, Jewish youth mobilized their power of resistance and their Jewish courage to fight back against the Nazi oppressor. The fact that they were defeated does not diminish the magnitude of their heroism and the major transformation they generated in the history of our people.

From defenseless victims, the protectors of the ghetto transformed into valiant fighters, valiant fighters who paralyzed the German military for nearly a month.  Few against many, guns against tanks – for nearly a month.  The actual spirit of the Maccabees. Five years later, with that same spirit – few against many – IDF soldiers, among them many Holocaust survivors, defeated the Arab armies that had arrived to wipe out the fledgling State of Israel and the remaining survivors of the Holocaust.  The Jewish revival is inextricably linked to the willingness and ability of the Jews to wage an uncompromising battle against those who sought to destroy them. Our ability and willingness to defend ourselves is what enabled the establishment of the Zionist enterprise and what guarantees our continued existence and future.

Several days ago I bid farewell to a young Lieutenant-Colonel who served in the military secretariat of the Prime Minister's Bureau.  He is going to the Negev to train future IDF commanders at the officers' academy.  I was very moved when, at the farewell ceremony, he told the story of his grandmother Hanna. Hanna is a survivor of Auschwitz.  The Nazis carved a number on Hanna's arm that ended with the digits 78.  As fate would have it, Hanna's ID card in the State of Israel also ends with the digits 78.  The death number which Hanna received at the Auschwitz death camp was her life number in the State of Israel.  Hanna, who is watching us now, survived the Nazi inferno, immigrated to the Land of Israel. Her husband fought in the War of Independence, and today, her grandson, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, is training our future commanders whose mission is to ensure that we will live here forever.

Six million Jews perished in the valley of death of the Holocaust. Today, for the first time since the establishment of the State, more than six million Jews live in the State of Israel.  You, the citizens of Israel, are the testament to our victory.  From the abyss of the Holocaust, we climbed to the peak of Zion.  From a deep pit, we rose to a pinnacle. 

This is our victory.  It is our comfort and our pride – our pride in the State of Israel, which is a beacon of enlightenment, progress and freedom in the darkness which blights so much of our surroundings.  One needs only to look around. We see people fighting for the very right to live and for the most basic human rights.  One needs only to look around us to understand the enormity of the achievement of the State of Israel. 

We are proud of the amazing things we have created here in 65 years of independence.  We are proud of the great light emanating from Zion, a light unto the people of Israel, a light unto the nations; a light of progress, a light of prosperity, a light of a peace-seeking nation.  I am proud to be Prime Minister of this nation.  However, there are those who seek to extinguish this light of ours.  Iran openly declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel and employs all means to achieve this end.

"The Zionists", I am now quoting Iranian religious leaders, "are germs and bacteria", "the Jews are filthy people who spread disease".  These statements were not only made then, they are made now. "Israel", says the leader of Iran today, "is a cancerous tumor which must be excised from the Middle East".  The murderous hatred for the Jewish people, which has accompanied our nation since its inception, did not disappear from the world.  It was simply replaced by a murderous hatred for the Jewish state. What has changed since the Holocaust is our determination and ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. 

We value the international community's efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program, but we will never entrust others with our fate, not even the best of our friends.

I have confidence in the strength of the State of Israel; I have confidence in the Israel Defense Forces. I believe in you, Israel's citizens.  We are stronger now than we have ever been, and we can meet the challenges ahead, as difficult as they may be.  We have great strength
Two weeks ago, our friend, Rabbi Lau, spoke on this mountain.  As a child, he survived the death camps.  He told the story of a touching meeting he had last year with a retired American general. The American general, who was one of the soldiers who liberated the death camps, told Rabbi Lau with tears in his eyes: "I ask for your forgiveness. We arrived too late".  The most profound meaning of the establishment of the State of Israel is this: we will never again be in a situation where it is too late.  We will never stand helpless against those who seek our destruction.

Sixty five years ago, the Declaration of Independence granted us a State and granted us the sovereign ability to make the necessary decisions that will guarantee our future here.  We will know how to act to defend ourselves.  In this place, on this day, I pledge: there will never be another Holocaust. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Netanyahu may have to attack anyway. He may have no other choice.

James Woolsey now confirms what this blog has been saying all along...

Joel C. Rosenberg interviews former CIA Director James Woolsey

On Monday, I met with James Woolsey, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I’ve long been impressed with Woolsey’s analysis of global trends, but had not previously had the honor of meeting him. We spent about an hour in his Washington, D.C. office, discussing the growing threats posed by Iran, Syria and North Korea and how the U.S. should be handling them. I gave him a signed copy of Damascus Countdown, and we spent some time discussing the book and then various “worst case scenarios” I may write about in future novels.
Most of our conversation was off-the-record. But I took careful notes and Woolsey graciously agreed to allow me to make some of his comments public. His analysis was particularly interesting to me in light of yesterday’s headline in the Times of Israel: “UN nuke chief fears Iran secretly working on a bomb: Intelligence shows Tehran was and is involved in nuclear weapons project, says International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano.” 

Woolsey was appointed CIA Director by President Clinton and served from 1993 to 1995. Previously he had served as Under Secretary of the Navy and as Ambassador and U.S. Representative to the negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Since leaving the CIA, Woolsey has continued to write and speak extensively on national security and energy security issues. A self-described “Scoop Jackson” Democrat — more conservative on foreign policy and military issues than traditional liberals — he endorsed Senator John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008 and served as a foreign policy advisor to McCain.
Excerpts of our conversation:

Q: Do you think Israel will use military force, and if so, how soon?

James Woolsey: The problem is that the Israeli air force is one of the two best in the world, but they are not big. We have the capacity to launch a sustained bombing campaign — multiple sorties over many days or weeks — and really damage or completely destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. But a brief Israeli air strike won’t suffice. It’s not like hitting the Osirik reactor in Iraq in 1981. It’s not like the hitting the Syrian reactor that the North Koreans built in 2007.
This is what the U.S. should be doing:
·         Put four or five carriers in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean region.
·         Send B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers to Diego Garcia
·         Stockpile our most effective conventional earth-penetrating weapons in the Western Pacific or Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia, Guam)
·         Start running military exercises in the Indian Ocean
·         Don’t say anything publicly, officially about what we’re doing – but let it be known through a well-timed leak that what these forces are doing is preparing for is a sustained bombing campaign to destroy everything they can reach that is related to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, everything they’ve got. Let it be known that, at much as possible, we won’t target the Iranian people, their civilian infrastructure, or their regular army. But we are going to destroy anything and everything related to the Revolutionary Guards, starting with the nuclear facilities, but also the factories they own, and their headquarters, and their bases, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
·         And then wait for a little bit and see if the Iranian regime gives some ground.
 I laid this out in an op-ed with Bud McFarlane a couple of years ago. Of course, maybe it’s too late for that now. It’s definitely getting late.

Q: What if President Obama won’t do this? He’s sending B-52s and Stealth bombers and others military assets to South Korea and the Pacific to send a strong message to North Korea. But he’s doing just the opposite with regards to Iran — pulling carrier battle groups out of the Persian Gulf area, and so forth. So this brings us back to Israel. Are you saying the Israelis don’t have the military capabilities to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat?

Woolsey: I’m concerned because I don’t think Israel can take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities using air strikes – some yes, but all? I don’t think so.

Q: Then what does Netanyahu do? I ask that because my impression is that Netanyahu brought in Ehud Barak, a long-time political rival, to serve as his Defense Minister for the past four years precisely to lead the IDF into devising and practicing and be preparing to execute a decisive plan to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. And my impression is that Barak feels like he accomplished that objective and stepped down feeling confident that he gave Netanyahu a viable plan, should it become necessary to use.

Woolsey: You may be right. Israel’s air assets are limited in numbers, but Netanyahu may have to attack anyway. He may have no other choice. He can’t just sit there and do nothing. The one thing that gives me a little bit of optimism is that Bibi and Barak are the two most experienced men in the art of unconventional warfare serving in the leadership of any country anywhere in the world. No other country has one Bibi, or one Barak – much less both. These are men who understand how to defeat an enemy using every trick in the book. And they may have something up their sleeve, a plan that doesn’t simply involve attacking from the air. These two guys are used to thinking about the art of war the way Sun Tzu told us to. I don’t think they’d limit themselves to an airstrike or two.