Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going All The Way

Well see, doing Persia's super not so secret tender, sensitive portions of Preacher Command's new clear drive, with an airborne enrichmentus interruptus as indicted in the closing bits of uber snarky chiz aimed at a recent delish "Doing Persia" piece
An attack on Iran is almost certain to unify the Iranian people around the mullahs and provoke the supreme leader to redouble Iran’s nuclear pursuits, only deeper underground this time, and without international inspectors around. Over at the Pentagon, you sometimes hear it put this way: Bombing Iran is the best way to guarantee exactly what we are trying to prevent.
Well, the bit about a society suffering under a illegit somewhat unhinged Barbi hating Regime has an effective counter - tuff to think cats would get to crushing on the preachers, Secret Police and Control Freaks even more "thus making regime change hard to accomplish, if not impossible."

Attacking the new clear stuff may actually be a smokescreen. As darling Amir once fessed up in exclusive commentary: "Why not focus on the man holding the gun Courtney instead of the gun itself" 

An air campaign aimed at the new clear sites for starters would be intense - far beyond last millennium's Big Week und Blitz Week action that starting clawing Luftwaffe out of the sky. Even if Great and Little Satan hooked up with RAF and Royal Saudi Air Force for a menage a quad l'guerre d'l' air  no guarantees it would nail everything.

Consider instead:

"Given the likely fallout from even a limited military strike, the question Great Satan should ask her hotself is, Why not take the next step? After all, Iran's nuclear program is a symptom of a larger illness-- the revolutionary fundamentalist regime in Tehran."

If associated sites are not targeted for humanitarian reasons, Iran could still have a nuclear future. More troubling are, in the words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the "known unknowns." There is no question that covert elements of Iran's nuclear program exist. 

After devoting so many resources to its nuclear program and suffering years of increasingly tough sanctions, it is entirely reasonable to believe that Tehran maintains at least a small pilot enrichment facility far away from the scrutiny of the international community. After all, hiding one from the world's eyes would not be difficult; the IAEA has very limited access to the workshops where Iran produces the components for and assembles its centrifuges and thus cannot precisely track the size and scope of Iran's enrichment activities.  

Further, Iran's capability to enrich uranium is a technical skill that cannot be bombed out of existence. Nor can the progress it has made on weaponization. Those aspects of the program would likely survive a limited bombing campaign along the lines advocated by Kroenig.  

To be sure, a limited strike is not pointless. Kroenig's support seems in part an effort to avoid the consequences skeptics of military action often highlight, such as Iran responding militarily or with operations via its terrorist proxies. He argues that the United States "could first make clear that it is interested only in destroying Iran's nuclear program, not in overthrowing the government" to moderate the Iranian response. But there, too, he is wrong. Iran has been in confrontation with the international community over its nuclear program for years. 

Whether a limited military strike or regime destabilization operation, Iran's leaders would almost certainly believe they would have to respond to such a challenge to maintain their credibility in the region, employing missiles, proxies, and/or their own terrorist operatives.

After all, Iran has been killing Americans for years -- most recently, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, as the Iranian plot last year to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on American soil revealed, Tehran seems to be in no mood to modulate its behavior. It is dubious that the Iran's supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guard Corps would, or even could, accept a limited strike without retaliating. 

Given the likely fallout from even a limited military strike, the question the United States should ask itself is, Why not take the next step? After all, Iran's nuclear program is a symptom of a larger illness -- the revolutionary fundamentalist regime in Tehran. 

Thanks to internal political developments and sanctions, the regime is at its weakest point in decades. But the international community is slowly exhausting the universe of palatable sanctions, and even the pressure brought to bear on Iran thus far has not caused it to halt its program. A limited strike against nuclear facilities would not lead to regime change. But a broader operation might. It would not even need to be a ground invasion aimed specifically at toppling the government. 

But the United States would need to expand its list of targets beyond the nuclear program to key command and control elements of the Republican Guard and the intelligence ministry, and facilities associated with other key government officials. The goal would be to compromise severely the government's ability to control the Iranian population. This would require an extended campaign, but since even a limited strike would take days and Iran would strike back, it would be far better to design a military operation that has a greater chance of producing a satisfactory outcome.

Of course, there is no assurance that the Iranian regime would immediately crumble under such an onslaught. 

But once the cost to the country and the weakness of the current regime became clear, the door would open for renewed opposition to Iran's current rulers. It is sometimes said that a strike would lead the population to rally around the regime. But given the current unpopularity of the government, it seems more likely that the population would see the regime's inability to forestall the attacks as evidence that the emperor has no clothes and is leading the country into needlessly desperate straits. If anything, Iranian nationalism and pride would stoke even more anger at the current regime.  

At a minimum, it would be far better for Iran's rulers to be distracted by domestic unrest after a massive strike than totally free to strike out at enemies after a limited one.  

Some would argue that if the regime does fall, any subsequent leader would value the nuclear program just as much, especially considering Iranian nationalism and citizens' supposed pride in the nuclear program. But as the economic costs of the program have grown, so, too, has disillusionment with Iran's isolation. As the Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi told The Wall Street Journal in April 2011, "Ahmadinejad talks about nuclear energy as national pride . . . but that's not true. People don't care." The United States, in concert with its allies, would thus be in a strong position to make clear to Iran's new leaders that the path to prosperity is predicated upon giving up the nuclear program. 

The 44th administration has avoided the choice between a military operation and a nuclear Iran by relying on conclusions by the U.S. intelligence community that Iran has not made the final decision to develop a weapon. But its faith in receiving that intelligence in a timely and unambiguous way is, if history is any guide, misplaced. It is correct then to argue that a military strike should be in the cards.It is wrong to suggest that a limited strike is the one option that should be on the table.  

If strikes are chosen, it would be far better to put the regime at risk than to leave it wounded but still nuclear capable and ready to fight another day.

Pic - "Between the future and the past tense - Lies the present in the distance... Scoring points for passionate resistence. Between the lines and the highway - Lies the danger and the safety"


Michal said...

Does the "massive unrest after a military strike" part ever work? Honestly, can you remember a time when a country bombed by a foreign force has been wrecked by domestic disorders? I can't. Pressure from outside always solidifies regimes.

Look at the previous cases. You could see it in Libya, where the regime instantly received a boost in support the moment it could point at an alien force, which was claimed to be destroying the country all along. Suddenly a lot more people were willing to defend the status quo.

But bombs are, in fact, exploding in Iran right now. Does this make the people any more willing to speak up against the regime? No, you have funerals with Muslim martyrs who died for their country by the hand of Zionist agents. That sort of stuff hardly makes anyone willing to come out in opposition to the regime. And it will hardly be the stuff to cheer for even in the aftermath of such attacks for a long time to come.


Remember 9/11? That was one of those times when a regime failed to forestall an attack. It did not soften the government line, it reinforced it. I figure neoconservatives might feel vulnerable about all the critcism of George Bush, but if you remember, the government was also very effective at putting out any of that critcism by - drum roll - appealing to patriotism! That very force which Fly and Schmitt want to use to undermine the regime!

If real opposition dissent is doubtful in reaction to military defeat (remember, there's civilian casualties, sacrifice breeds attachment) generally speaking, then consider the cultural specifics of Iran. Iranian (and shiite culture in general) is one that is heavily supportive, even welcoming of martyrdom. In this culture, the failure to forestall in attack is not a failure at all. It is a mark of decisiveness, adherence to a common cause.

And the idea that any bombing could compromise state security apparatus is laughable. Whether it was Hitler's Germany or Communist Cambodia, numerous tyrranical regimes managed to operate excellently working repressive organs under the direst circumstances.