Multilateral solutions and Diplomatic contusions.
Engagement! Containment! The Straight of Hormuz!! they cried. All of it sounded wonderful over pate in Ivy League circles. In fact, just before Obama took office shelving the military solution became high fashion, put it in a drawer they said. Engagement became the order of the day. But now, strange winds are afoot.
A last resort military solution to prevent nuclear armed mad mullahs depends on a number of critical components. The exhaustion of other options, the willingness to use force, and technical ability. These three factors are now coming into alignment and the Strike Option is not only back in play, its got top shelf billing.
1 – Exhaustion
The toughest sanctions we are going to see, after over a year and a half of delay and failed engagement are now law in the USA. The Europeans may soon follow suit. Either way the card is in play. No one believes sanctions can prevent a nuclear Iran. At best they are a delaying tactic. This latest final round of sanctions may represent the exhaustion of all other options, knocking requirement one off the list in short order, as Iran’s nuclear & ballistic missile programs advance.
2 – Willingness to use force.
Israel, long believed to be the military option wildcard has always been willing to use force. The Israeli public by overwhelming majority in polling has shown it is fully prepared to strike, even if it means going against the wishes of President Obama. Equally, it’s far from a secret that Israel’s political & military establishment is unified over the need to prevent a nuclear Iran. No shocker there, the Israel chapter is closed.
Things get interesting when we look outside of Israel..
The White House has been stressing that bi-lateral discussions in the security & military echelon between America & Israel have never been closer. That dialog is focused in many ways on the Iranian threat.
We’ve seen over the past year large joint military exercises involving US & Israeli forces, gaming missile defense & regional war scenarios. The intent is to buttress the new interlink between Israel & America, tying the IDF into the US/European central command regarding missile threats.
Of greater note, much of the dialog seems to involve joint planning of theoretical strike options. Either by Israel alone or perhaps involving US assets themselves should the need arise. A far cry from the American position of just a year ago when military options were shelved, and US official after official landed here in Israel to warn us not to strike..
Since the US pushed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council last month, Jerusalem has increased diplomatic efforts to convince the White House that for the sanctions to work, a credible military option needs to be on the table to scare Iran to reconsider its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
An indication that this might have happened came in the latest issue of Time magazine, in an article titled “An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table.”
Written by Joe Klein, the article claims that in recent months, the US military’s Central Command has made significant progress in planning targeted air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, some of which were deemed impossible to penetrate just two years ago.
According to the report, the progress was made possible by the “vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region.”
Israel has reportedly been “brought into the planning process.” [...]
Winds of Change
Could US military planning, and intelligence views have changed so drastically?
According to former CIA director Michael Hayden, that just maybe the case..
A US military strike on Iran has become more likely and could be justifiable in the future, former CIA chief Michael Hayden said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“My personal view is that Iran left to its own devices will get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon,” said Hayden, “and frankly that will be as destabilizing as their actually having a weapon.”
The former CIA director stated that an attack on Iran had not originally been a serious option, but in light of Iran’s intensified pursuit of nuclear materials, the military option “may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.” [...]
We know that the 2007 NIE which discounted the Iranian nuclear threat publicly, has now itself been discounted by US intelligence. The Pentagon has drastically changed time-lines for an Iranian nuclear capable ICBM maturing, possibly as soon as 2015.
These events suggest a new acknowledgment that the threat to the US is real. The Washington Obama engagement track has failed spectacularly, while prominent voices in the US House & Senate continue to imply the military option was never shelved at all..
A Nuclear Iran could shatter the Obama legacy
Others have now begun suggesting that President Obama, a leftwing ideologue without parallel, may be forced to strike just in order to keep his ideological dreams alive. The notion put forth being that a nuclear Iran will utterly destroy key aspects of Obama’s core foreign policy visions. Non-Proliferation, and a non-nuclear new world order. Issues which any novice following events could immediately recognize as near & dear to his heart.
Taken as a whole, it might seem as if the Political, Military, and Intelligence wings of the US Govt apparatus have all swung round, up to & possibly including the President himself. If that were indeed the case it would knock off the 2nd requirement – The willingness to use force.
It is worth noting that international polling has shown majorities in favor of the whatever it takes to stop Iran school of thought..
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a gathering of ambassadors in Moscow on Monday conceded that “Iran is moving closer to possessing the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of nuclear weapons.”
Moscow’s admission comes at a time when much of the world is beginning to recognize the magnitude of the threat of an Islamofascist state possessing weapons of mass destruction. In a Pew Research poll of 22 countries last month, a majority in 16 of the states preferred a military strike over tolerating a nuclear Iran. In the U.S., 66% preferred a strike, while 24% objected to it.
In Egypt, 55% supported a military strike on Iran, while 16% opposed it. In Jordan, the figures were 53% to 20% in favor.
So even Mideast Muslims understand the danger to themselves — and they understand that their supposed great enemy, Israel, is likely to be the power to rid the region of that grave danger.
So do Americans. IBD/TIPP polls have consistently favored Israeli military action, and did so again by a 56% to 30% margin in last week’s survey (see chart)
These consistent views internationally, combined with rumors of Muslim states willing to even quietly assist Israel should the need arise all point to military force as a credible option.
3- Technical Ability
The last requirement on the list is the great unknown. Clearly America could level the Iranian nuclear program, the top tier of the regime, and even the bulk of the IRGC itself if it so chooses. That is not speculation. America is an unstoppable military juggernaut which could from a distance cut through Iran like a hot knife through butter.
We are not in the same league as the Americans, but Israel might be able to do hefty damage to the program, as well as Iranian Ballistic Missile production facilities should it be backed into a corner. If we could with international assistance, open a corridor for 2-3 days of sustained strikes utilizing air power, sea based assets, and Jericho missiles it is likely Israel could do some major damage to Iran’s illicit abilities, and knock the program back years if not a decade or two.
The notion put forward by detractors that a serious strike would only delay Iran 2 or so years seems frankly comical. Iran is teetering economically, and its programs have taken 20 years to put together at a cost of endless billions. Any serious blow could be a fatal one. Leaving in its wake an already near collapse and stagnant economy ravaged by 30%+ unemployment, combined with a sanctioned regime starved of capital or ability to regenerate nuclear programs or options.
In any event the Iranians may not leave Israel, America or the Gulf region much choice.
As public opinion solidifies, options exhaust, and political opinions change in Washington. The last remaining hurdle, technical ability may well fall into place.. If it already hasn’t.
In the 48 hours since this was posted a number of events directly related to the analysis above have taken place. The EU has indeed followed suit. Both the EU & Canada have announced wide ranging strict fuel & energy sector sanctions on Iran, effectively closing the current sanctions effort chapter.
The top US Department of State official on Iran, and a point man in the Obama Administration engagement effort at the end of this week is resigning. Is this the most potent signal yet that the failed engagement effort is over? Or that the military strike option has indeed gone top shelf? Perhaps both?
This post has been nominated this week as a Non-Council submission to the Watcher’s Council. Woot! My thanks to the Watcher and the Council for their reading and consideration. Update July 31st – I got shellacked!! Congrats to this week’s winners!
Hide the Women & Children, run for the hills..
The Obama administration and the entire American hard left may have a full conniption, General Wald – You are NOT ALLOWED to talk about these things. The talking points all state clearly that any military option will fail even though it won’t. The official line is a softening on Iran, a legitimization of the illegitimate Iranian regime and appeasement of the Mullahs. All leading to accepting what has been termed by US administrations both past & present as unacceptable: A nuclear bomb armed Iran.
As such the views of this enlightened US Air Force Four Star General need to be totally discounted immediately, everything he says is absolutely true but someone needs to tear him up a little, get some character assassination revved up or something. Eeegads I mean look at some of this stuff printed in the WSJ..
In a policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of Iran, “We cannot be afraid or unwilling to engage.” But the Iranian government has yet to accept President Obama’s outstretched hand. Even if Tehran suddenly acceded to talks, U.S. policy makers must prepare for the eventuality that diplomacy fails. While there has been much discussion of economic sanctions, we cannot neglect the military’s role in a Plan B.
There has been a lack of serious public discussion of the military tools available to us. Any mention of them is either met with accusations of warmongering or hushed with concerns over sharing sensitive information. It is important to discuss, within legal limits, such a serious issue as openly as possible. Discussion strengthens our democracy and dispels misinformation.
The military can play an important role in solving this complex problem without firing a single shot. Publicly signaling serious preparation for a military strike might obviate the need for one if deployments force Tehran to recognize the costs of its nuclear defiance. Mr. Obama might consider, for example, the deployment of additional carrier battle groups and minesweepers to the waters off Iran, and the conduct of military exercises with allies.
If such pressure fails to impress Iranian leadership, the U.S. Navy could move to blockade Iranian ports. A blockade—which is an act of war—would effectively cut off Iran’s gasoline imports, which constitute about one-third of its consumption. Especially in the aftermath of post-election protests, the Iranian leadership must worry about the economic dislocations and political impact of such action.
Should these measures not compel Tehran to reverse course on its nuclear program, and only after all other diplomatic avenues and economic pressures have been exhausted, the U.S. military is capable of launching a devastating attack on Iranian nuclear and military facilities.
Many policy makers and journalists dismiss the military option on the basis of a false sense of futility. They assume that the U.S. military is already overstretched, that we lack adequate intelligence about the location of covert nuclear sites, and that known sites are too heavily fortified.
Such assumptions are false. [...]
Mein Got! I say again, Shhhhhh!
There is no military option. None for Israel, none for the USA. We need to appease Iran at all costs anything less is simply uncivilized. Read the whole thing, it is frankly alarming that there are Generals retired or not still willing to speak of defending American interests with every tool in the arsenal available, diplomatic, economic or military. Off to the gallows with him. You simply are not allowed to be more Presidential than the President himself – It’s heresy.
This calls for a few goons..
Someone call Organized American Labor, rough him up a bit or something otherwise it may lead to ‘Mobs’ & ‘Townhalls’ and concerned American citizens drinking ‘Tea’ or something. Can’t have ANY of that in the era of American Hope & Short Change.
Gd Bless America, or what’s left of her for now.
Hat Tip to RealClearWorld
There appears to be some contrast between American voters & positions of the new Administration
With the screws ever tightening between Washington & Jerusalem and Obama looking to seemingly squeeze the Jewish nation, Americans polled show increasing support numbers for their ally Israel facing an Iranian threat. Rasmussen reports a fairly dramatic 7% poll lift for Israel since last summer on the question of military force, and the USA coming to assist Israel should we be forced to strike..
Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that if Israel launches an attack against Iran, the United States should help Israel. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 37% believe the United States should do nothing while just 2% believe the U.S. should help Iran.
Last summer, just 42% said the United States should help Israel while 46% said the nation should do nothing.
Sixty-four percent (64%) of Republicans say that the U.S. should help Israel as do 50% of those not affiliated with either major political party. A plurality of Democrats (44%) say that the U.S. should do nothing. [...]
These are fairly astounding numbers, when one considers the USA’s current difficulties economically, and engagements in Iraq & Afghanistan. The numbers are heartening & a testament to the nations’ eternal friendship. Up until recently Israel seemingly enjoyed special status with our American friends, that status is being tested by the new Democratic administration. The numbers below are no less enlightening. Rasmussen also polled about what poses the biggest national security threat to the USA: Iran topped both North Korea, Pakistan & Afghanistan with voters.
Support explodes upward in further surveys..
Sixty-six percent (66%) of all voters now say that preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is more important than preventing war between Iran and Israel. That’s up fourteen percentage points from 52% last July.
Just 23% now say preventing war between Iran and Israel is more important than stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. [...]
One notices nowhere are the words Quid Pro Quo, or ‘Concessions to the Palestinians’ mentioned as conditional for the American public’s generous support, positions the new administration now seemingly intends to hold over Israel in return for ‘aid to the Jewish State’ regarding Iran.
In fact, just the opposite is the case. The polls go on to reveal that the vast majority of Americans put the blame regarding the conflict two months ago with Hamas, squarely on the Palestinians. Obama during his transition refused to comment on the issue.
A full 82% of Americans are impressively informed on events as well, stating they are following recent news on the Iranian issue. One begins to wonder just how popular the seemingly anti-Israel positions of the new White House may be with the American public going forward. It may take a lot of teleprompters to convince Americans leaving Israel hanging out to dry is a good idea if tensions rise higher..
The Few, The Proud, The Weak..
The Left Wing in Israel is looking feeble indeed. Jewish Israelis polled strongly support military action to cripple the Iranian nuclear drive, and when asked how they feel if the USA were to oppose such action, a full 75% of those in support maintained they were more than ready to go ahead in any case.
These kinds of numbers in domestic support are devastating to Obama’s intents to pressure the Jewish State to the contrary, and represent a dagger through the heart regarding any notions of ‘living with the Iranian bomb’ here in Israel.
A full 66% Of Israelis are ready to engage today, another 20% currently don’t know, which means if push comes to shove over 80% of Israel will support halting the program by any means necessary.. (Haaretz)
A large majority of Israeli Jews support military action aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to a survey sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the poll, co-sponsored by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, a large majority of those who support a move by the army said they would maintain their support even if the Obama administration opposed it.
An overwhelming majority also said they believed close relations with the United States were essential for ensuring Israel’s security. [...]
Sixty percent of the respondents said they had a “positive” or “very positive’ attitude toward President Obama. However, only 38 percent said they thought his attitude to Israel was friendly – in contrast to 73 percent of respondents in a 2007 poll, who defined the attitude of the previous president, George W. Bush, as friendly.
Asked whether reconciliation with the Arab and Muslim world would come at the expense of Israel’s interests, 63 percent said they believed it would; 71 percent, however, said the interests of the United States and Israel were “similar” or “complemented each other.” [...]
38% – Whoa.
The President of the United States may have American Jewry wrapped around his fingers and eating out of his palm, but here in the homeland few are impressed thus far with his willingness to play footsie with the world’s worst dictators, and President Obama is suffering major trust issues with his key strategic ally in the world’s most critical region currently. Maybe it has something to do with the absurd statements from the US administration that the Palestinians are the ‘key to halting Iran’ – A notion that is laughable to most Israelis, who don’t have the luxury of living in the current fantasy-land known as the White House.
Ronen Bergman a local terrorism expert and author in Israel has a brief interview translated over at YNET. In typical gruff Sabra style he lays out some of his opinions on the Iranian nuclear issue, though none of it is groundbreaking stuff. Some of the key points of his opinion include;
- Israel has the means to hit Iran’s programs
- Israel would seek to delay those programs not destroy them utterly
- Israel believes that S300 Russian anti aircraft missile systems are already in Iran
- Israel would benefit greatly from some American assistance in striking these programs
On the issue of the S300, Jpost is also carrying a report that the willy Croats have already themselves sold off their now no longer in use S300 systems to the Iranians. What is interesting about the S300 issue is that Israeli intel has quietly hinted this is indeed the case and that the missiles are already probably deployed, what makes this issue interesting is the divergence between this opinion and that of the USA.
Sec Def Gates himself adamantly opposed to striking Iran, has issued statements to the effect that no S300 systems have been sold / delivered to Iran. When Israel raised eyebrows about such definitive statements the Pentagon became slightly more mild on the topic, to the effect that the s300 issue was being ‘monitored’ by the US in an ongoing manner, and they have again reaffirmed on the issue. Frankly, US intelligence has been lacking – unaware of the Syrian nuclear program and a great many other developments and things going on around the world.
I’d say they are unaware because they have chosen to be, in order to avoid the inconvenience of coping with realities in direct contravention to long standing US national security policy. Worse, any Russian assurances given previously regarding issues like the S300 or nuclear fuel and assistance to Iran are now moot in light of the Georgian rift and new cold war developing between Russia & the USA. The Americans under Secretary Rice & Sec. Def. Gates have been outplayed on every single front across the Middle East, Asia and now Europe in a most embarrassing way. Aside from General Petraeus’ serious heroics rallying US strategy and forces in Iraq, American policy everywhere else has pretty much collapsed.
Endless stalling, dithering
The unstable political climate in both the US & Israel due to elections and government changeovers has not helped. One gets the feeling everyone is waiting around for someone else to deal with these matters, in Israel but most especially in the US despite the fact there is no one else. The only people not waiting around are the Iranians. Aided by the Russians they are spinning centrifuges for Uranium enrichment, and now are preparing to send the Bushehr Plutonium reactor online. That is a full dual track, two full nuclear programs Uranium & Plutonium based that are speeding ahead with no one in sight to stop them. The IAEA, who’s task it is to ensure the multilateral negotiation based efforts and monitoring systems to prevent strikes, as well as theoretically prevent Iranian weaponization has fallen nearly totally silent.
The Sanctions efforts for the diplomacy push also appear to be quite ineffective. It’s quite a mess, the kind of mess you make when leaders stop leading. Olmert & Bush are both fairly guilty in this regard, both of them stopped leading a long time ago and it has nothing to do with upcoming elections in either country. The notion that lightweights like Barack Obama or Tzipi Livni can roll back these realities with their good looks and comforting words is comical. One hopes that the IAF and the US Navy / Air Force have been somewhat more responsible in these matters until now in preparation, as the Iranians have been preparing, running military exercises and speeding their missile programs ahead at breakneck pace.