Friday, December 25, 2009

A military attack would be to the detriment of everyone but the Iranian regime

They keep doing these war games, they keep coming up with the result that sanctions fail, just as military attacks fail at preventing Iran from reaching a nuclear weapons capability.

But then they keep insisting that sanctions are imminent and a military attack is a real possibility. The logic is that only if Iran believes there is a real threat will it stop its nuclear program.

Friday Lunch Club points me to two more simulations. One conducted in Israel, another conducted in the US. They draw the same conclusion that's been obvious for years to close observers, but that Washington refuses to acknowledge. Laura Rozen at Politico reports on both of them.
It was a very interesting and useful exercise, another participant in the game said.


"For a variety of reasons, among them because it showed a military attack would be to the detriment of everyone but the Iranian regime," he said.
Listen. Iran does not believe there is a real military threat, and Iran will not stop its nuclear program. Iran is doing its own war games, has good information about US aerial capabilities since it saw the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan up close for a long time, and is coming to the same conclusions US war gamers are coming to.

I've never done a war game, but since 2007, it has been obvious just from what is publicly known about the efficacy of aerial bombing as well as what is known about the US vulnerabilities in the region, that the US cannot attack, or credibly threaten to attack Iran. Here is a Washington Post article from Michael Gerson in July 2007.
Beyond Iraq's borders, the options become difficult: engaging in hot pursuit against weapon supply lines over the Iranian border or striking explosives factories and staging areas within Iran. This sort of escalation is opposed by the Iraqi government and American military leaders. The Defense Department fears what is called "escalation dominance" -- meaning that in a broadened conflict, the Iranians could complicate our lives in Iraq and the region more than we complicate theirs.
If x is necessary to prevent Iran's nuclear program, and x is not true, that does not mean x must really be true. It means Iran's nuclear program will not be prevented. It is not true that Iran believes there is a credible threat of attack by the US on Iranian installations.

If it was true (it actually isn't) that a credible military threat was necessary and/or sufficient to cause Iran to stop its program, then that is enough to give the idea of stopping the program up. We are not going to stop Iran's nuclear program. So now it is time to decide under what terms Iran's nuclear program will go forward. Will it be in an environment of increasing, possibly spiralling hostilities, or will it be in an environment of negotiation?

And in this light, Alan Kuperman from the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin claims that an attack on Iran is the only US option.
Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.
Once again, I'll try to do this slowly. Air strikes are not a plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Of course we're careful enough not to be mislead by Kuperman's conflating "nuclear weapons" with the capability to build a weapon in an emergency in theory these are legally and morally very different concepts. The conflict with the US is over the question of Iran having the option, if Iran perceives an emergency, of building a weapon if it leaves the NPT.

Kuperman says there is no other plausible option to prevent Iran from reaching the capability that Japan, among many other nations, has. He's right about that. Now we add the war games and see that attacks also are not a plausible option to prevent Iran from reaching that point. Then that's it. We're done. There is no plausible option to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability.

Now Obama has to decide does he want Iran to reach that point under expanding sanctions or under negotiations. This is a no-brainer decision, but there are parties that have the ear of his administration that 1) generally like seeing as many sanctions applied to Iran as possible and 2) are not able, or at least pretend to be unable to accept reality - as long as the US is the country expending the resources.

1 comment:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Government policies of intervention and occupation have created the vast majority of extemist enemies. The only just endeavor undertaken in the last 30 years was the liberation of Kuwait. It was accomplished using the best weapons in the world and a policy of occupation was abandoned once the country was returned to its rightful owner.

Occupation forces remain in the Middle East and "Stationed" around the world in numbers the average citizen does not even know about.

This policy must cease. It does not work. It did not work in Vietnam (I saw that first hand during two tours), nor has it worked in the Middle East or anywhere else it has been tried by the US or other countries (Russia for example)

Our leaders should have learned the facts by now through hard experience, but they are driven by money, politics and the military industrial complex to continue the same mistakes over and over.

When the policy goes totally broke, bankrupt and unsupportable it will cease by default. Until then, the evolving security threats will increase exponentially because of our denial of the root causes for them.