The Czar received an absolutely awesome email from ER today that is so good, he opted to quote it in its entirety. Some excellent analysis here on what an Israeli strike would mean, and ultimately what it might not achieve. ER puts all of the Czars recent posts into perspective, but fine tunes some details that make a lot of sense.
Excellent continuing series. I sent the link to the Cordesman article to my friends, along with this commentary. Hope it fits in with what you are seeing. I fear that it will. Pretty good article by an inside the Beltway kind of guy.
I dont think the Israelis can realistically hope to destroy Irans nuclear weapons program with selective conventional weapon airstrikes. Yes, they can get there: reportedly they already have the Saudis permission to overfly Saudi Arabia on their way to Iran and Egypts permission to run subs through the Suez canal, likewise. They could probably land their planes in India or Turkey after hitting Iranian targets in the South and North, respectively. (They might not get their planes back, but they would probably get their pilots back.) But, if they do anything less than destroy the ability of the Iranians to build nukes, they have merely delayed the inevitable. And, such a strike does nothing to remove the possibility the Iran will simply buy nukes from someone else.
The fact that Israel has nukes (reportedly about 200 of them) is not a big deal because Israel just doesnt haven enough people to threaten its neighbors with conquest. They couldnt even hold the territory they took in Lebanon. Pakistan has not been a nuclear threat, in the sense that their enemy is India, but they have no realistic ability to engage in a war of conquest in Kashmir or other border areas. Pakistan cant even rule its own territory. India has the capability, but not the political will to be expansionist. (Long term, this could change, but not with their present badly fragmented political system.)
A nuclear Iran is a problem not because they would be nuclear, but because they are an Islamic Republic with a leadership that thinks it is their duty to bring on the return of the 13th Mahdi, a belief which does not appear in the Koran. Are they really nuts or are they just pretending to be nuts to keep their perceived enemies off guard? (Nixon defined MAD as convincing your adversary that you really were crazy to blow his brains out if he didnt let you have the last piece of toast. Nixon was a deeply flawed president and person, but a hell of a poker player.) The problem with pretending to be nuts is the same problem Saddam Hussein encountered in re: his WMD program. He convinced everyone, including his generals that he had them. Lot of disappointment at the front when they didnt show up. If the Iranians convince everyone that they want nukes not for defense but to trigger Armageddon, they may get what they say they want.
Which is my point: Israel cannot surgically destroy the Iranian Nuke program. (And, the US probably cant either.) But neither can destroy the Iranian economy and major population centers, which is exactly what the US and the Soviets threatened one another with during the Cold War. This is the dangerously seductive thing about nukes: you literally can bomb someone back to the Stone Age. They are cheaper than conventional weapons in this regard. And, like in all things, the perpetrator has the advantage. (First strike.) This is the Devils equation. The US and the Soviets managed to get down off their high horses and the Peoples Republic pulled in their horns. Nuclear weapons are a greater threat to smaller nations than to large ones. China, Russia, US all have the land area to survive a nuclear strike and struggle back after retaliating. Israel does not have that luxury: they would have to launch on word of a threat, because if they didnt they probably wouldnt have the chance later. (Use it or lose it.) Sampson in the temple. And if they didnt think they were going to survive as a nation, they would have no reason to hold anything back, since there wouldnt be a second strike. This is the strategy of the Dead Mans switch: if the man on the switch dies, his hand relaxes and the magazine goes Boom! “Youll never take me alive, copper!”
I said several years ago that I thought that Amadhi-Nezad was going to get a lot of Iranians killed, which I think would be a vast tragedy. (Odd that I agree with Medvedev in this.) I think thats still is a strong possibility. A regime change in Iran could prevent this, but will it happen and will it be soon enough? Do the Iranian people see the handwriting on the wall? And, realistically, what can they do? Hell of a mess.
Best wishes. I enjoy your website greatly.
Thanks! And great insights! The Czar is quite impressed!
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.