...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

January 09, 2006

Don't Make Me Laugh

Here's a good one:

Each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has told Iran to drop plans for new nuclear activities or risk being hauled before the body for possible sanctions, the Bush administration said Monday.

Although the United States and European allies have been sending that message for weeks, China and Russia are now doing the same, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

'We are working very closely with Russia, China and France and Britain on sending a clear message to the Iranians,' McCormack said.

[pause for laughter to die down]

This is exactly what the Iranians want us to do. They have no intention of negotiating away their nuclear ambition. Despite their double-talk, they've been very clear about that. I can't be the only one who gets this.

The Iranians have been very clear about another thing too:

Iran with the bomb = nuclear war.

Given that fact, nothing else in the news matters these days. Alito don't matter. Spielberg don't matter. DeLay don't matter. Kobe don't matter. Brokenback Mountain don't matter. Pink and Carey don't matter. O'Reilly and Letterman don't matter. Stern on Sirius don't matter. Pat Robertson's latest brain-fart don't matter. Schwarzenegger's fifteen stitches don't matter. etc. etc. etc.

Commentators all seem to be standing around, watching as this ship goes over the cliff. Or whatever. It's infuriating. I'd like to hear some intelligent discussion about what we should do about this big problem.

Update: More detail may be found at Arms Control Wonk.

Posted by annika, Jan. 9, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


There have been massive demonstrations against the Iranian goverment during the past two summers by people under the age of 40. They are greatly encouraged by Bush's speeches over the last 3 years. Plus the nuclear war talk of the government has the people scared to death.

The Iranian government is at a tipping point. The US should help the rebel groups in Iran with money, weapons and material to overthrow the government.

Posted by: Jake on Jan. 9, 2006

Who on this site thinkgs the Mossad does not know each and every site location and all specs?

Who thinks the Israeli's are going to sit on their hands while Iran arms itself?

Who thinks the Israelis will not be able to deliver the blows due to observance of airspace restrictions?

I rest my case. Sleep well.

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 9, 2006

Data from U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration @ www.msha.gov

United States mining fatalities in the last four years of the Clinton administration and the first four years of Bush's administration.

year 2004 - 54 fatalities
2003 - 56
2002 - 67
2001 - 72
Bush's administration
2000 - 85
1999 - 90
1998 - 87
1997 - 91
Clinton's administration

Liberals are trying to blame the Bush administration for the deaths of the 12 coal miners in West Virginia because they say Pres. Bush relax safety regulations but look at the numbers. Despite the fact that coal production is up in the mining industry now over 4 years ago (result of the boom in the energy sector) less people are dying.

I guess less regulation equal less deaths in mines.

Posted by: Myron on Jan. 9, 2006

Right wing spam c0mments? Now i have seen everything.

Posted by: annika on Jan. 9, 2006

I believe that Mossad/CIA have a handle on where everything is. I know that the Israeli's don't have a strategic capability to do anything about it, nor do we want them to. That would only give legitimacy to the arab nutballs. This situation is best handled by a subtle course of direct action.

Posted by: Casca on Jan. 9, 2006


I remember reading a year or so ago that the US had transferred its technology for those "bunker-busters" to Israel. Additionally, Israel does have the bomb. They have the delivery systems. I think you may be wrong about their cabability.

I agree that it is best to try to move them by diplomacy, but what do you do when that doesn't work? Let them arm? I doubt that Israel will do so.

A very wise man once told me that you can't deal logically with someone who is irrational.

If this guy isn't, who is?

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 10, 2006

"Direct Action" is a euphemism in "the trade" for more, ahem, discrete methods of influencing private opinions of decision makers.

The Israeli's have a lot of technology, and I'm sure that they have "devices", but the ability to haul massive weight to a ten meter grid square in Iran is problematic. Heh, we're GOOD at this shit, and sometimes WE fuck up. Israeli military capability is over-rated. As an erudite general whom I know used to say, "We're the NFL. The Israelis are a good high school team, and the Arabs collectively are pop warner."

There are people who make things happen.
There are people who watch things happen.
There are people who wonder what happend.
There are people who don't know that anything happened at all. Our desired endgame is about a 10/90% split of the last two groups in re this subj.

Posted by: Casca on Jan. 10, 2006

There are very few Arabs in Iran, nonetheless, point taken.

Shelly, the situation is not the same as in 1981 when Israel bombed Iraq. Israeli air forces would face a far longer and better defended route of attack than they did in the Osiraq strike. A manned aircraft strike would require massive refueling support and prior suppression of air defenses (reducing surprise potential), while the long-range missile strike capabilities of Israel submarines remain uncertain. These facts alone reduce the scope of an attack to a few targets in western Iran. Given the dispersion and complexities of the program elements, a preemptive strike against Iran could become a substantial operation with at best the outcome of delaying the program, not halting it.

Plus, intervention by Israel serves as one of the few unifying forces in the region. The rise of predominantly Shia Iran given the situation in Iraq shifts the power balance in the region. The majority of other states have Sunni regimes, though most also have marginalized Shia communities. The provocative statements by the Iranian president, especially about "wiping Israel off the map" scares those states caught in between Iran and Israel, offering another source of pressure.

It is laughable to assume Iran would give up the program, but it is not clear whether the intention is defensive-deterrent or offensive-coercive. I think leaders in Iran and North Korea are fairly rational from a national security perspective, but they do try to foster the "irrational" perspective externally. Sometimes they overplay their hand and we have to use those opportunities to play the game too with the UN and EU here. Just keep isolating and marginalizing them. Save "direct action" for those external folks who are covertly providing resources to the program.

Posted by: Col Steve on Jan. 10, 2006

I take it you refer to our "friends" the French, Germans, and Russians.

Who needs enemies?

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 10, 2006

The Iranians have been very clear about another thing too: Iran with the bomb = nuclear war.

How do you figure that? In their public statements they repeatedly say it's not about a bomb, the Supreme Leader made a fatwa against WMDs, etc. OK, you say that's all dissimulation, look at what they do, not what they say. But then how do you make the immediate leap to nuclear war? Indeed, what exactly does your equation mean - that once they have a bomb, they'll use it immediately? Evidence, please.

Posted by: mitchell porter on Jan. 10, 2006

"There are very few Arabs in Iran, nonetheless, point taken."

Oh I don't know, old boy. I'm given to understand that the mountains are FULL of the rascals. Living in CAVES don't you know. Certainly the Persians would be the current pop warner champ. It's worth noting that we had no trouble at all with these buggers until that Lawrence fellow discovered their existance.

Posted by: Casca on Jan. 11, 2006

That's a fair question Mitchell. I'll admit that I was making a leap based on the Iranian leadership's irrational rhetoric towards Israel. I don't think you can look at Iran's nuclear ambitions the same way you might look at North Korea's or Pakistan's or India's. The usual motivation for wanting the bomb is for it's effect as a deterrent. I think Iran wants it because they plan to use it. If I'm wrong, fine. But you got to admit that the risk of nuclear war when Iran gets the bomb will be much higher than ever before. I have heard that, among themselves, Iranian radicals say they would easily absorb an Israeli counter-strike if it meant they could destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.

Posted by: annika on Jan. 11, 2006

I am sure that the Iranian strategic leadership recognize that the use of nuclear weapons in any way would be extremely dangerous for them. Their plan for victory would be more sophisticated than

1. Make a nuke
2. Use it

Their rhetoric is all about defeating Israel through intifada and political isolation. Even in the notorious speech (made just after the fall of the Taliban) where Rafsanjani talked about the asymmetric consequences of a nuclear exchange between Israel and the Islamic world, he also talks about how "millions of Jews who have moved there will be homeless again" after Israel is defeated. Despite Ahmadinejad's hosannahs in praise of martyrdom, they must hope to win without it, at least on a national scale.

Posted by: mitchell porter on Jan. 11, 2006

You make good points Mitchell, but I'd hate to see Iran in a position to test your theory. Just because it would be foolish for the Iranian leaders to attack Israel doesn't mean they won't act foolishly. Or self destructively. It was foolish for the Arab states to attack Israel all those times in the 50's, 60's and 70's, too.

Iran has reason to think America's role as a gaurantor of Israeli security is currently weakened. They might think they'd become instant heroes if they destroyed Israel once and for all and that the U.S. couldn't or wouldn't retaliate. They already have reason to believe that the Europeans would do nothing, although I think even Europe would not stand by if Israel were nuked.

The point is that there is a perception in the world, especially by those who get their news from al jazeera, that the U.S. is isolated and weak, and that everybody else would cheer if Israel ceased to exist. And don't forget, Iran is run by clerics who preach martyrdom.

Posted by: annika on Jan. 12, 2006

In 1967, the Isrealis launched the preemptive strike against Egypt after Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran. While perhaps foolish for them to act so provocatively, recall Egypt got back lost territory after the 1956 war.

In 1973, the desire to get back the territory (Sinai/Gaza for Egypt, Golan Heights for Syria, West Bank for Jordan) was a powerful incentive. The Egyptians had learned from the 1967 war and kept forces within their SAM coverage belt to neutralize the major advantage Israel had in previous wars from air dominance. Plus, the Egyptians and Syrians were probably confident the USSR would not let the situation spiral out of control if the Arab nations lost their gamble (which turned out to be true).

What's the motivation for Iran other than the possible destruction of Israel? The beneficaries of that event, assuming one could even contain the effects of nuclear weapons, are Sunni arabs. The leadership may preach martyrdom, but that doesn't apply to them. Martyrdom is for the people Iranian leaders use (support for terrorists in Iraq/Syria or even an entire group of people - Palestinians) to carry out their desires.

I'd worry more once Iran has nuclear weapons about a different scenario. Claiming the need to protect oppressed Shia in Southern Iraq and NE Saudi Arabia (where lots of the oil wells are), the Iranians launch limited armed attacks in the south and generally cause a mess in the Persian gulf. The attacks are enough to negotiate some gains without escalating the conflict but not enough for the Europeans to support intervention, especially if Iran has nukes.

Posted by: Col Steve on Jan. 14, 2006