Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Day After We Bomb Iran

Every week rumors fly around the blogosphere that the US and/or Israel is preparing to bomb Iran in order to stop their nuclear weapons program. So let’s play a game of Best Case Scenario.

Under the Best Case Scenario the US bombs all 300 or so sites involved in the program. Let’s go so far as to say that there are no civilian casualties, that the Iranians can’t display a bunch of dead women and children for the international media. Let’s forget about the world-wide outrage at the US bombing (which is tantamount to a declaration of war). Let’s assume no planes are shot down and no US pilots are captured. Let’s even forget about any possible Iranian terrorism to exact revenge. In the Best Case Scenario we flawlessly eliminate all the physical facilities we think are part of the program and fly home safely. Victory is ours! Or is it?

What exactly would we have accomplished? The Iranians will have lost the hardware, equipment and tools needed to construct the Bomb. However, unless we also kill all the scientists and technicians and destroy all their documentation the Iranians will still have the knowledge and skills needed to design the Bomb. The Iranian regime will still have the motivation. Indeed they will in all likelihood be even more motivated to build nukes to prevent future attacks. Without removing the mullahs or fundamentally altering the nature of their regime, we will not change their desire for the Bomb.

Does anyone think that Iran, flush with petrodollars, run by mystics obsessed with the apocalyptic return of the Mahdi, and motivated by a political religion of suffering and martyrdom, will not make every effort to re-equip their scientists with the tools and infrastructure they need? Iranian scientists have years of experience working with centrifuges, cascades and the various components of advanced nuclear weapons development. How long will the world be able to keep Iran from buying what it needs? How long will it take the regime to re-assemble the program?

Granted, destroying Iran’s facilities buys us time, but time for what? For domestic regime change? For a popular revolution that installs a government less aggressive and less hostile to the West? That’s a nice hope but hope is not a strategy.

Striking Iran cannot be a one-off event. After crippling their nuclear program we will have to work to prevent them from rebuilding it.

After we bomb the Iranian facilities we will have to impose some sort of sanctions to prevent the mullahs from reconstituting their nuclear program. How long do you expect those sanctions will last? Will we restrict Iranian oil sales? Even if we can manage a political miracle and keep every other country in line and on board with sanctions, how long will Americans support keeping Iranian oil off the market when gas is $4 a gallon? $7? Are we going to monitor every piece of equipment Iran imports? Why not, it worked so well with Iraq …

Bombing Iran can defer the problem and delay their program but we cannot stop the Bomb as long as Iran is motivated, technically capable and wealthy enough to acquire what they need. Destroying the enrichment plant and other infrastructure is necessary but not sufficient. To actually stop the Iranian Bomb we must also either destroy their political will to build it or their technical expertise to design and construct it. But how? Will killing Ahmadinejad, Khomeini and the Council of Guardians extinguish the regime’s desire for a nuke? Or will this play directly into the Shi’ite mythological dynamic of martyrdom and oppression and make them ever more desperate for it?

Even if this would politically demotivate the theocracy, how do we do it? Regime Decapitation is a risky, unproven theory and extremely difficult in practice. Or alternately, how do we eliminate their scientific and technical knowledge? Can we even kill most of the lead scientists involved in the program? Can we knock off the top few layers of expertise and leadership? How? Do we even know who these people are? Where they live? What they look like?

And my infidel friends, this is the Best Case Scenario. It’s all downhill from here.

But hey, I’m no military expert. I wouldn’t know an enrichment plant or a P2 centrifuge if I saw one. I could be wrong about everything. I invite those who disagree to tell me how we stop, not delay or defer, but stop Iran from building the Bomb. I agree that bombing the plant at Natanz would feel good but without a plan for the aftermath it will be an emotional, not a strategic, action.

What do we do the Day After We Bomb Iran?
[This is an abreviated version of the full post at Thomas the Wraith.]


Krishna109 said...

It would seem to matter that this is a situation where there are no good alternatives. (I think that VDH article you linked to earlier here explains that very well).

I have thought of another aspect to this that isn't mentioned much. Israel is a tiny country, about the size of New Jersey. At the narrowest point in that center strip, its only about 9 or 10 miles wide. A nuke anywhere in the country would not be far from an Arab border. If Israel were attacked, nuclear fallout would probably kill lots of "Palestinians". Would Iran want to be responsible for nuking the Palis-- when even the "Zionist entity" didn't go that far!

In addition to the West Bank & Gaza, At the very least, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria would suffer from fallout.

(In fact, Egpt has just come out against Iraq have nukes for mikitary purposes (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/670595.html)-- of course they may not actually do anything about this...

Pastorius said...

Iran has made it clear that they would not mind killing some Palestinians and other members of the Muslim world, if it meant doing away with Israel:

"Mr. Rafsanjani has followed in the footsteps of the late Ayatollah Khomeini in many ways - for example, marking World Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day by supporting Palestinian Arabs. This holiday is celebrated on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan. During the official sermon on December 14, 2001, at Tehran University, Rafsanjani stated that Muslims must surround colonialism (i.e., America and Britian) and force the colonialists to see whether Israel is beneficial to them. If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons (nuclear ones) currently in Israel's possession, this global arrogance would come to an end. The use of a nuclear bomb in Israel would leave nothing on the ground, he said."

Krishna109 said...

Well, actually that seems to be in character. Even if the UN acts, he won't listen to them, nor will he be effected by the US or other Western powers. Perhaps if Moslem nations get together as a block & pressure him..?

They actually may want to do this, as the countries in the area would have much to lose by a nuclear war.

Epaminondas said...

We either have regime change, or we make up our minds to re apply strikes REPEATEDLY.

We cannot invade Iran unless we have a draft and a WW2 size effort. Moreover, personally knowing so many iranians in research I know that their families still there ask 'where are the marines?'. But as we see even if 97% want us there, all it takes is a few with dynamite to create a NYT anarchichal annointment parade.

Never the less we can't do nothing. Sanctions will do nothing (think of Iraq, it killed more people than the war and did nothing).

The best answer is to incite a popular revolt. Do we have the intelligence assets? Frankly, based on puiblic materials my juidgement has to be the CIA is not competent to this level. They might be ok for a strongman (Mossadegh), but a real blood red, died in the wool revolution? No.

If we must act, then, bomb and rebomb with Yassin style decapitation as well. There HAS to be regime change. We are going to alienate a lot of people, and everyplace we bomb will suddenly be a wedding. We also better make up our minds that we are going to be attacked HERE, by pasdaran elements and hizb'allah. Which might lead to the draft and the final result.

All this is based on the idea that these guys CANNOT be deterred. If their children wree anything other than a martyr supply to them, I would be 100% against such actions (rigid containment would work), but that's just not the case.

The president has a lot of work to do, and I don't see anything to indicate that this is going on. 1000 cruise missiles aren't going to work unless we do it 3x/year.

Pastorius said...

Your opinion on what we need to do is the same thing I've been hammering on for a couple years now.

We have to deal our enemies a humiliating defeat. And when we have defeated them, we have to remake their societies by declaring their anti-human rights ideologies illegal.

We have waged three very successful wars;

1) The American Civil War
2) Germany WWII
3) Japan WWII

In each of the three cases we beat them and beat them and beat them some more, and when they were ready to quit, we delivered the death blow.

If that's how you win a war, then that's how you fight a war.

However, the problem in Iran, is we don't have the political will to send our troops in, so I agree with Mr. Epa that we just have to bomb repeatedly, everytime they start to rebuild.

Jason Pappas said...

Don't dismiss buying time. After the Gulf War we were surprised to find that Iraq was close to having a nuke and we pushed that off for another decade. The Arab nuke program was moved to Libya and we have pushed that off again.

Why is buying time important? Because: we have to educate the American public about the dangers of Islam. Most still don’t get it or they believe it is just a few, i.e. Al Qaeda. To mobilize a country for a major war you have to have a propaganda campaign, in the proper sense of the phrase, to focus the country’s attention on the evil ideology that drives the enemy and the danger that it creates. No public figure has done that nor can they.

Thus, buying time is all we can do, for now. In that time, we have much that we have to accomplish to educate our fellow citizens.