Thursday, December 24, 2009

Iran must believe an attack is possible

John Vinocur's New York Times article contains an idea that I see somewhat often in articles about Iran's nuclear program. The idea is that Iran must be convinced that an attack is a real possibility. The reason Iran must believe this is independent of whether or not it is true.
Last week, I asked Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies here, and a former State Department expert on nuclear issues, about where he saw the difficulties converging next year.

He said sanctions by the United States and European Union affecting Iran’s imports of gasoline (the mullahs have oil, but small refining capacities) could be enacted, but he doubted their effectiveness in stopping the Iranian drive towards nukes.

If that is the case, Mr. Fitzpatrick has said “threatening military force” may be the way forward. He told me, “Iran has to know it’s a real possibility.”
Military force is a possibility, just supply lines for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan being nearly closed off with Iranian assistance is a possibility. But we can be pretty confident we will not see either.

What is interesting is the idea that if it would take a credible military threat to prevent Iran from keeping its nuclear weapons capability, and Israel really really wants to prevent Iran from keeping that capability, then there must be a credible military threat. The credibility of the threat is not dependent upon how much any country wants it or feels it needs it. The tangible factors that led Bush to deny an attack continue to lead Obama to deny an attack.

The idea that seems strangely common, that Iran believing an attack is possible whether an attack is actually possible or not leads us to see more and more about a possible US or Israeli attack in the Western press.

1 comment:

Mark Pyruz said...

What most pundits in the US are blind to or refuse to acknowledge is that Iran has pretty much been (mentally) prepared for a US/Israel attack since at least the earliest days of 2007, when the US positioned a second USN carrier group pointed straight at it.

You're right, Arnold. What's changed since then other than the fact that Iran has now had three years to plan and prepare?

If anything, some in Iran may even see the plus side of opportunity in war, in bringing about social conditions reminiscent of the Imposed War.