Skip to comments.The Coming of the Bomb [good read]
Posted on 01/17/2006 7:10:28 AM PST by 68skylark
Readers may want to download and read Getting Ready For A Nuclear-Ready Iran, from the US Army War College. It's a wide ranging discussion of the entire Iranian nuclear weapons issue set within the larger context of nonproliferation strategy. The basic premise is that it probably impossible for the US to stop an Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of a full-scale invasion. And once Iran acquires nuclear weapons it will simply be a matter of time before Arab states follow.
Yet, the truth is that Iran soon can and will get a bomb option. All Iranian engineers need is a bit more time 1 to 4 years at most. No other major gaps remain: Iran has the requisite equipment to make the weapons fuel, the know-how to assemble the bombs, and the missile and naval systems necessary to deliver them beyond its borders. ... As for eliminating Irans nuclear capabilities militarily, the United States and Israel lack sufficient targeting intelligence to do this. In fact, Iran long has had considerable success in concealing its nuclear activities from U.S. intelligence analysts and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. (The latter recently warned against assuming the IAEA could find all of Irans illicit uranium enrichment activities). As it is, Iran already could have hidden all it needs to reconstitute a bomb program, assuming its known declared nuclear plants were hit. ...
What should we expect when, in the next 12 to 48 months, Iran secures such a breakout option? If the United States and its allies do no more than they have already done, two things. First, many of Irans neighbors will do their best to follow its peaceful example. Egypt, Algeria, Syria, and Saudi Arabia will all claim that they too need to pursue nuclear research and development to the point of having nuclear weapons options and, as a further slap in Washingtons face (and Tel Avivs), will point to Irans peaceful nuclear program and Israels undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal to help justify their own civil nuclear activities. Second, an ever more nuclear-ready Iran will try to lead the revolutionary Islamic vanguard throughout the Islamic world by becoming the main support for terrorist organizations aimed against Washingtons key regional ally, Israel; Americas key energy source, Saudi Arabia; and Washingtons prospective democratic ally, Iraq.
Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon may have more than regional significance. It could mark the final end of efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and provide Islamic terrorism with a nuclear deterrent. Islamic terrorism will literally be a Great Power. The study comes to the conclusion that only a regime change will remove the sinister edge from these developments.
Ultimately, nothing less than creating moderate self-government in Iraq, Iran, and other states in the region will bring lasting peace and nonproliferation. This, however, will take time. Meanwhile, the United States and its friends must do much more than they are currently to frustrate Irans efforts to divide the United States, Israel, and Europe from one another and from other friends in the Middle East and Asia; and to defeat Tehrans efforts to use its nuclear capabilities to deter others from taking firm action against Iranian misbehavior.
An earlier post argued that only a regime change could keep Teheran from getting a nuclear weapon. Since the US Army War College paper cannot envision that happening in the short term, what we are left with then, is a new Cold War with an ideology as strong -- and probably much stronger than -- Marxism in its prime. It's hard to remember, now that the Berlin wall is a relic whose fragments have literally been sold for souvenirs, how perilous a time the Cold War was. It took more than 100,000 American lives on the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam. On at least once occasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US and the Soviet Union came close to the nuclear brink. The difference between the Cold War and the new prospective struggle is that the former was between nations while the latter is between nations and secret societies bound together only by a common hatred.
Diplomats and statesmen since the Treaty of Westphalia had grown accustomed to seeing nothing smaller than nation-states. This conceptual blindness prevented foreign ministries, academics or the United Nations -- the very name a testament to the limits of its sensibility -- from understanding that sub-national units under the banner of a world religion could arise to challenge the established international order. It was simply impossible, and yet it was. In retrospect all the signs were there. Though globalized business, unprecendented mobility, worldwide communications long weakened the prerogative of nations, they were still regarded as supreme. The world grew accustomed to the growing influence of transnational corporations without realizing that the same factors would empower other forms of transnational organization. H.G. Wells described how complacent men could be in the presence of unseen but growing danger.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
With a few changes Wells' paragraph could describe the mixture of smug amusement with which the Western intellectual elite watched the growing number of Wahabist mosques, the photography of landmarks, the application for flying lessons and the attendance at courses of nuclear physics by students from older worlds. They laughed, for nothing could threaten the dominion of Western Man, supreme in his socialized state at the End of History. Even after September 11 the only question for many was how soon history would return to normal after a temporary inconvenience. Little did they imagine that the expansion of the European Union, the Kyoto Agreements and Reproductive Rights -- all the preoccupations of their unshakable world -- might be the least of humanity's concerns in the coming years.
It looks like the future may be bumpy. Military affairs may play a larger and larger role in our future -- our Global War on Terrorism may be just a small, opening prelude compared to the conflicts in front of us.
The Dark Ages are looking to make a comeback.
To paraphrase a very smart man many FReepers know and love:
The graveyard is full of people who make linear assumptions in a non-linear world.
Actually, nothing less than the discrediting of Islam, on a massive scale, followed up by successful evangelization of the former muslims, will suffice. I suspect that this may happen after Mecca becomes a glowing crater.
> The basic premise is that it probably impossible for
> the US to stop an Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,
> short of a full-scale invasion.
That might be a useful premise for some war game, but
I disagree with it as a broad conclusion.
If we act soon.
It's my understanding that the Iranian nuclear ficilities are so numerous and so deeply dug in, that nothing short of occupying the country will be sufficient. I don't think Israel can pull that off.
This isni't like bombing a single Iraqi plant.
Maybe, but Israel might feel that to do nothing is simply too dangerous. At some point, by doing nothing, Iran will have a bomb and soon. To do something, even take out a few critical components, might give them time.
Iran plays a game in which they either hope no one will call their bluff, or they do want someone to try and stop them.
In either case, if you were Sharon's successor, and had to decide now, what would you do?
Meant to add:
Either way, it's win/win for the Mullahs. If no one stops them, they have their bomb. If Israel/USA attack, they can crack down domestically and use that as the "I told you so! See why we need a nuke!" moment.
I'm not raising all these kids and grandkids so some lunatic can blow them up twenty years from now. We need to get on the stick.
As I have noted many times - we are in a war for our very survival.
This just further delineates the what and the where.
bump to read later
Excellent article, as usual.
However, he himself fails if he believes that Islam will be content with another Cold War or stalemate situation. Either we attack them - represented by Iran - or they attack us, sooner rather than later. Anybody who believes Islam will simply hang out and wait doesn't know the history of Islam, which only retreats to its hole when it gets its teeth kicked down its throat.
Wretchard has written about this very extensively (and persuasively).
He says there's no way the Islamic world will be content with a cold war-type stalemate. If he doesn't make that point clear in this particular essay, it's probably only because he's made that point so often in his other writing. (I could provide you with links if you're really interested in this.)
Thanks, I thought he was being uncharacteristically optimistic on this point. Yes, do send links.
There's a, pardon, third way.
Through military action you hasten or enable or cause regime change.
He argues that if radical Muslims have nuclear weapons, the situation will be far different from the cold war. He argues that if Islamic terrorists get nukes, it will be the end of Islam -- either at our hands, or (more likely) from their own errors and internal nuclear warfare.
It is supremely ironic that the survival of the Islamic world should hinge on an American victory in the War on Terror, the last chance to prevent that terrible day in which all the decisions will have already been made for us.
If you like this article, I can also recommend Postscript to the Three Conjectures.
Now it is Islam coming face to face with a challenge of how to handle the true divine fire. And the real dilemma is that the power behind the light of the stars is incompatible with the framework bequeathed by Mohammed. It may be the turn of the Faithful to die by Islam's own hand unless it can listen to the word that speaks from the very heart of the flame.
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