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09 July 2008

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different clue

I wonder if Iran ever would nuke Israel, even if/when it has sufficient bombs for its missiles. Wouldn't it be more likely that Iran would use its nuclear capability as a screen or umbrella behind/under which it could move various non-nuclear means of pressure forward against Israel? I remember talking once with a Palestinian co-worker where I work about how, if Iran were to nuke Israel, the fallout would likely drift back over East Jerusalem and
the West Bank. If the Iranian ruling elites really
care about the Palestinian cause, they won't drop a load of radioactive fallout on it. If, that is, they do
really care.
Israel, as I understand it, was concieved of as a rescue state for Jews in need of rescue. It could still revert to being that if it were to negotiate a retreat to the borders of May 1967, leaving zero presence behind in any of the territories taken since then. In return for being left alone within those borders.
But the Likudiform half of Israeli society would have to be weakened and the Center-Leftiform half would have to be strengthened in order to bring Israel in that direction. And the Likudiform half has shown how far it will go to keep power. Assassinating a Prime Minister (Rabin) is going pretty far.
The broader American society supports Israel because the broader American
society cares about Israel. And AIPAC has somehow convinced people that it is some kind of neutral expert on what Israel needs and should have. The recent emergence of the J Street Project, which Mr. Sidney Smith referrenced a few threads ago, may help break the hold AIPAC has over the minds of men. With that hold broken, we could then go on to think about things like: de-coupling "occupation" from colonial settlement; and forcing Israel to dismantle and remove all its settlements and settlers from the Occupied Territories and downgrading the Occupation to a lowest-possible-profile security-only strictly-temporary Occupation to be ended once all sides agreed to a Peace Treaty agreeable to all sides. If the State of Israel agreed that it would be playing the triangle or the piccolo in Colonel Lang's Middle East Concert; would the Arab States then agree that it would be the State of Israel playing its triangle or piccolo? Leaving the kettledrums, heavy brass, and singing strings to the Arab States, Turkey, and Iran?
In the shortest run, is there a single thing we can do to prevent Shadow President Cheney from ordering air attacks against
Iran? And if Cheney orders it, can the "let's don't" parts of the Armed Forces restrain the "let's do it" parts? Given Congress's firm
support for Cheney's subversive destabilization
projects inside Iran; I don't think Congress would care one bit if Cheney ordered massive bombing. (And the fact that Cheney would make that decision is symptom of a festering Constitutional abscess right
there...)
Since neither Congress nor
the Administration shares the belief of most Americans
or most non-Air Force Armed Forces people that peace with Iran is in America's interest; is there some kind
of legal non-violent mass obstruction which a mobilized American public can exert against the government to slow it down and gum it up and make it wade through hip-deep molasses in its march to War with Iran?

(And about oil: it is in the whole world's long term interest to get civilization
off the coal and oil standard if that is possible. We can only push Global Boiling so far before
we really begin to feel it the way the High Arctic is beginning to feel it now.)

Ali Mostofi

Please remember that Iranians put Iran first. Seyyeds have their own cause which is second to none.

Kieran

Thanks to the Col. for an excellent post and excellent response to greywolf re: "sept. 10 thinking".

Still, I would appreciate it if someone with a little time on their hands and knowledge of such things would explain to me why there is such a big difference regarding the threat to Israel's cities between a couple of Iranian nukes and a huge Syrian CW arsenal based on rockets and missiles.

To me it still sounds like the nuclear thing is only being used as an excuse to justify a strike that will cement this whole imperial project, not that it is a logical, legitimate fear genuinely held by Israel's decisionmakers.

I think the whole 'irrational actor' stuff is nonsense. The Iranians are more rational than us in their conduct of foreign policy. Ahmedinejad looks scary but Khamenei is in charge.

Andrew

'You haven't lived until you have seen a friendly rifle company destroyed in a day's fighting. Destroyed attacking. pl'

I'm glad to say that I have never lived and don't intend to start!

jonst

Kolya,

That is what I thought you meant. I respectfully challenge your premise that they are an "existential threat" in that they are any more of threat to Israel than Russia is to the US, and to the rest of the world. Or, for that matter, the US is to the rest of the world.

'Wordsmithing'and arguments over translations are easy to become frustrated with. And to ultimately dismiss. And to ultimately reply 'well, that may be true but I can't agonize over the meaning of words forever...I'm going with the worst case meaning'. But where, one might ask, are you going? To what end?

First, I am not clear on who, and what, are/is defined as 'leaders' in national security decisions in Iran. But I think a case can be made that said leadership does not reside with Ahmadinejad. This is not to dismiss all, or some, of what he says. But it is worth noting, and reminding one's self what Ahmadinejad role is, and is not, in Iran.

I suggest a better argument can be made, and IS made daily, and quickly dismissed in the West, as too complex and inconvenient, that the leadership we should be paying attention to resides with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for now. And while he is not a fellow I 'wish to have a beer with', nor a fellow I would play poker with, while I am distracted, his language on the use of nuclear weapons, particularly the first use of them, has been reassuring. Now, one can easily dismiss the SINCERITY behind the words. But in the West we seemed to have dismissed the words themselves, as if they have never been uttered. And uttered by the man who controls the power.

But back to words of Ahmadinejad, himself. I'm not going to drill down on the textual interpretations of his frequent rambling pronouncements. Life is too short for me to attempt to do so and I lack the skills anyway. But it seems worth noting that there is a real controversy over what he has said and meant by his 'outbursts'. But we don't do nuance in the neocon world. However, before I would start, or risk starting, WWW III over his language I would like our leaders to have a bit more clarity about what it is he is saying, and what he is not saying. And before we start/engage WWW III, I would like to see discussions about the internal difficulties Ahmadinejad is encountering in Iran, perhaps, caused, or, rather, somewhat, caused, by his words about Israel, and Iran's nuclear program, in general. Because IF Iran is an existential threat, as that term is often employed in the West, to Israel, it is, as well then, an "existential threat to ALL, or the vast majority, of Iranians, as well. The Iranians have to know that. They have to know what is coming if they strike.

Let us be patient. Keep our powder dry and out mouths shut, and let events work themselves out in Iran. And not automatically see the Iranians as mad dogs ready to fire the first nuclear weapon they get their hands on (I want to make clear Koya that I do not mean that I think you embrace this vision of Iran, but I think the terms you employ--as the term is presently understood today in the West) encourages it)

In the past the Iranian nation and Israel have shared certain security interests, as strange as that may sound, these days. The geopolitical conditions that led to such an anomoly, still, to some extent, anyway, exist. In other words, there is at least a plausible argument to be made that the 'grand conference' or grand agreement' my words, that Col Lang has long called for, has a viable chance at something resembling success. We should push to that end and you cannot push toward that end if we see Iranians as the mad dogs, they are being perceived as now.

For, I argue, there is nothing but death and disaster if the only parties talking, or, the only words being reported, anyway, are those between neocons, and their slavish imitators, the Democratic party leadership, including Obama, and Ahmadinejad et al.

J

Colonel,

this morning, our glorious sec-o-state flapped her gums at iran. it's a wonder her dentures didn't fall out. pun intended. it is sad how gleefully both bush and rice are so quick to offer up the lives of u.s. military personnel all for the benefit of a 'foreign' country named israel. i don't recall anywhere in our nation's founding bill of rights or our Constitution where is recommends to a sitting president or sec-o-state offering up the lives of american military personnel on a 'foreign' country's altar of security. since when did american mom's and dad's sign away the lives of those children whom they raised and nurtured so they could be 'sacrificed' on the 'altar of security' for a 'foreign' nation called israel, since when? we as a nation are 'still waiting' for some accountability regarding israel's brutal cold-blooded murder of american military personnel when israelis tried to sink the uss liberty, for starters.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/10/AR2008071000024.html

Iran Launches More Test Missiles, Draws Rebuke From Rice - washingtonpost.com

Curious

Well, this is highly predictable. Russia want Georgia and chechnya back. (just like Ukraine)

Gerogia, btw is the only out route to get the Kazakstan oil. (unless somebody want to guard afghanistan pipe from bullet holes)

I think Russia and Iran will lock in azerbaijan in a short time. They have to. It is in Russia's interest to keep caspian and black sea under control. Turkey is not happy with armenia / kurdistan either.

Basically, neocon effort to find a route for Kazakstan pipe is falling apart.

This is going to get violent very quickly soon. Specially when the Russian start pumping weapon into afghanistan. It's pay back time for them. (Ukraine, georgia, Chechnya, the 5 stans)

see map here:
http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/texts/carrie_books/paksoy-1/central_asia.gif

jonst

Curious,

What does this phrase, that you wrote, mean?

"Iran on the other hand can start spreading nuclear technology to all allies. (The entire arab world wants nuke now.)"

Who are Iran's "allies" that you refer too? Does the second sentence connect back to the first? Are you intimating that "Arabs" are allies of Iran? Historians would find that assertion interesting and in some respects, astounding. Such buddies that Iran will give them nuclear technology (which, I assume you mean nuclear weapons)? Do you REALLY think Iran will give non govt actors in the Arab world nuclear weapons? Because if you do....there does seem much to talk about. Or, rather, if one does.

I don't mean to jump on you but this is the kind of mixing and matching thinking that drives me nuts. Personally.

zanzibar

I'm glad that Pat has raised this discussion which seems like a rail that none of the corporate media and our bought & paid for politicians want to get on. What are US national interests vis a vis Israel and the Middle East?

Jim Cavan

Let us hope that this has added momentum towards a re-evaluation of our nations blind support of Israel. Fully respecting the great value and contributions of the Jewish faith, our nation was not founded on the ideals that another nation will direct our policy, actions or fears.

Thank you.

Curious

Who are Iran's "allies" that you refer too? Does the second sentence connect back to the first? Are you intimating that "Arabs" are allies of Iran? Historians would find that assertion interesting and in some respects, astounding. Such buddies that Iran will give them nuclear technology (which, I assume you mean nuclear weapons)? Do you REALLY think Iran will give non govt actors in the Arab world nuclear weapons?

Posted by: jonst | 10 July 2008 at 11:59 AM

I suspect. The base of middle east politics is the same as everywhere. (long term strategic thinking, self preservation, practical alliances) Alliances will be made based on what each party get out of the deal.

- Syria (would be an easy country, to go nuclear very quickly. From Iran side) And by extension Hezbollah)
- Egypt (Again, the only hope they get nuclear is from Iran. They have tons of reason to go nuclear. electric generation, containing Israel. arab world prestige)

-Saudi. (this country is definitely will go nuclear in short time once Iran and Syria go nuclear)
-Kuwait. (It's a given that Kuwait is very insecure.)

after that comes
- Iraq (after second independence war.)

non arab. who definitely look for nuclear tech.
- Turkey
- Malaysia
- Libya
- Indonesia
- Brazil

hass

We are the dog and they are the tail? Really? Since when? They bombed the USS Liberty and during the Lavon Affair were responsible for bombing US assets in Egypt and tried to blame it on the Egyptians. What happened? Nothing.

Charles I

"Can it really be true that Israel's government and intelligence services don't believe in deterrence?"

Well, no. If you believe your targets, er, interlocutors, are fundamentally irrational animals worthy only of the sole of your shoe, led by hopelessly corrupt hypocrites too incompetent to field a proper military or foster the economy to buy one, AND you believe your military dominance amounts to virtual omnipotence - omnipotence required to avoid international imposition of 1967 or the NPT (Let's bomb Dimona!), and to hold onto one's booty and captives -, why, condescending to deterrence would be an absurd deference to foreign devils and an intolerable restraint on royal prerogative.

Plus, its just easier to squash 'em like bugs at will than treat them as human, negotiate. Worse yet, to have acknowledge to yourself, never mind the enemy and the peanut gallery, that your pathetic subhuman opponents are well armed enough to demand realistic circumspection rather than daily announcements that a attack, possibly nuclear, is imperative and imminent - crikey, that'd have to be harram, no?

Or you've come to realize that the threats you face are so disparate and from so many dispersed and varied quarters, that one can't determine who to deter. After all, its now trite inerrancy(new word, Colbert!) that "we have no one to negotiate with".

Deterrence requires a quite well institutionalized security infrastructure exposed to the other side's formal or informal "technical means of verification"

Spider Rider

Tom,


We are on different pages.

And we will have to leave it at that, no offense intended.

Spider Rider

"What happened? Nothing."


Diplomacy, constructive long term strategy is restraint.

It is welcoming to again see a US in control, a US which doesnt snap at the slightest provocation is the most powerful US of all.

Should we behave as rival gangs in Los Angeles?

I realize it is a break from what we've been used to, from Reagan on, but the overuse of military force means one isn't smart enough to craft alternative strategy, and sooner rather than later, no one will respond to your threats, and use, of force.

Israel's defense is a joke in it's current incarnation, isn't it, particularly after the failure of Sharon. Same could be said of the US, under the Republicans, since Reagan, the utter failure of the neocon.

Where to next, how do we prepare for the future?

DW

Must read sources on the history of Political Zionism:

http://www.douglasreed.co.uk/

Exercpt Far and Wide:

"The thing is aged, many-headed, many-coiled and has many lairs. What does it all amount to now? The dream of ruling the world from Jerusalem cannot seem too audacious today to men who have already achieved so much. The Zionist State has been formed. It has about as many inhabitants as Albania or Honduras and less than Haiti, yet Napoleon in all his glory was not treated much more deferentially. Clearly its size and might cannot make the world quail, yet no politician in any English-speaking country seems willing to take office or mount the hustings without salaaming towards it and, by symbolically washing his hands of 'racial discrimination', undertaking to obey its will. Some now even openly confess themselves 'Zionists'. The strength of this new State, so tiny in size, plainly lies in the English-speaking countries themselves, which are still the strongest in the world; in the power of the purse, which it wields in them; and in the ability to control masses through the control of politicians and parties. In peace this new State fills the people with unease and in war, begun no matter where, it will clearly form the core of conflict."

frank durkee

If I understasnd correctly Isreal's defense doctrine as set ou by the Col. rejects MAD due to facts on the ground in Isreal, rejects the auisition of such weapons by any one else in the ME as an "existientia" threat to its existence, and seeks by whatever means to preempt the deve;p[ment of such weapons by any one else in the neighborhood. That seems to eliminate nuclear 'deterrence' except by Isreal on the rest of the lovcal players.
Based on the above the question would seem to be not "if" an attack on Iran, but when, with what force and follow up , if possible. Unless the US can somehow head that off. Given the 'facts on the ground in isreal' our deterrent seem of limited value to them save as a memorial gesture to their demise. Put anothere way I'm not sure we would destroy all or most of iran after the fact as revenge and if we did we would be in deep trouble with every one else.
The Col.'s analysis seems to point to the likelihood of an Isrealistrike , if the Iranians do not back down.

J

Colonel, All,

now that we are 'airing' the ugly picture of israel sacrificing american military personnel on their altar of israeli safety and security, another 'third rail' part of your thesis needs to also be aired and discussed by our american religious bodies, something that 'zionists' do not want under any circumstances discussed or even brought up -- a growing number of jews see zionism is an antithesis to judaism, and zionism is in violation of both torah/bible and the talmud. that the zionist state of israel as it currently exists is presumptuous before God (a slap in God's face), that the 'state' of israel is supposed to be brought about by divine hand, not by the hand of zionist corrupted men, and that as long as the zionist created state of israel exists, such delays the coming of the messiah rather than hastens it.

there are documented pictures and videos of 'orthodox' ultra religious jews protesting the state of israel's existence, protests in front of the israeli consulate in nyc, and elsewhere around the nation. such 'protests' do not get into the 6pm news as those who finance zionism make sure that such is not seen by the american public, for fear such a picture would start a american public and global discussion much feared by zionists, that the current state of israel very existence is in fact unfriendly to all of mankind and should therefore be dismantled. religious orthodox jews protesting the zionist state of israel's ugly policies in dealing with their fellow man (palestinan arabs), the zionist state of israel's unquenchible thirst for power/domination over all and death to all who dare oppose it's mad power quest. such jewish protests the american public at large never sees or hears about. a state that was created by lies, theft, and murder cannot exist for long before divine powers intervene to erase such 'errors of mankind'.

see:

True Torah Jews Against Zionism
http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/index.cfm

TomB

Spider Rider wrote:

"Tom,
We are on different pages.
And we will have to leave it at that, no offense intended."

None taken because none given, and likewise, absolutely.

Cheers,

Marcus

Doesn't it seem kinda dumb in the age of nuclear missiles to assemble your peculiarly persecuted tribe into a few large city centers?

No wonder there's paranoia.

PeterE

Suppose that the U.S. has the power of Germany or is more powerful but has no would-be Teddy Roosevelt leaders. What would happen? I suspect that Israel would reach a reasonable agreement with its neighbors, the U.S. would seek reasonable treaties with Iran and other Middle East countries and reduce its dependence on oil. No wars; just commerce.

But that is not the case. The U.S. is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look on its works, Ye Mighty, and despair!

mo

Kolya,
Iran's leaders have made many promises to the wider Muslim world about Israel?

Such as? I recall no promises but the promise to aid those fighting Israel.

The leadership of Iran has on several occasions talked about the complete destruction of Israel?

This has been discussed on numerous sites ad nauseam. You should, for the sake of rational argument, get translations from sites less biased than memri or tv less bought than Fox.

Spider Rider,

You seem sincere in your support of Israel and I respect your choice in which side you take but your arguments should not be so confused.

"But it should always be remembered the Jews, and therefore the Israelis"

No sir, do not mix the two in a Political debate. A Jew is a person who adheres to a set religious doctrince, a choice no person on the planet has the right to deny, oppose or persecute.

An Israeli is a person living on a land taken by the forceful removal of its previous owner, adhering to a political doctrine which said former owner and every opponent of colonialism on the planet has every right to oppose.

The fact that they are mostly Jewish is completely irrelevant to those opposed to Israel.

"are a population at risk". Jews, outside of Israel, are thankfully less at risk now than any time in history (except, ironically, under the Islamic Empire). People in Israel are at risk because they put themselves at risk by living on stolen land, and repeatedly electing hawks who take them into one military adventure after and another and persecute and treat like animals an entire people who they barely acknowledge and who dare fight back.

They have been persecuted from day one? That is a very emotinally charged statement but of course not entirely true. They weren't being persecuted when they slaughtred the people of Jericho in the Old Testament, they weren't being persecuted when they slaughtered the people of Deir Yassin, they weren't being persecuted when the led and protected the Christian militias in Sabra and Shatilla, they weren't being persecuted when they purposefully destroyed a UN compound in Qana where 111 men, women and children were taking shelter and they aren't being persecuted or even prosecuted for the crimes against humanity they are perpetrating against the Palestinians in Gaza.

It is ironic that you should use the lines
"men who would constantly create war, seeking empire that doesn't belong to them"

and

"persecution of another based on religion or ethnicity is morally repugnant"

in defense of Israel. Arent these sins Israel is itself very much guilty of?

And if the "US has a moral obligation to protect" do you believe it has as much a duty to protect those who suffer at Israels hands as much as it does to protect Israel?

ISL

All this assumes the continuous patronage of the US, which assumes a healthy economy that can afford to maintain the current staggering costs. perhaps one can argue that the current hyperpower situation can be sustained despite a lack of actually making anything in the country. But history is full of examples where conditions that cannot continue do not (running 7% account deficits).

By its actions, Israel is unlikely to find a different patron, yet absent such patronage would rapidly descend into insignificance.

IMHO

J

Mo,

there are documented video after video available on the web showing 'zionist' israelis kicking, spitting on, hitting, beating, shooting innocent unarmed palestinan arab women, elderly men, and children, all because they are arab and muslim. before the zionist came to the mideast, jews and muslims lived side by side in peace as each looked upon the other as cousins/brothers of the book. when the zionist came to the area, they stole, looted, murdered, in a quest for land and territory, thereby creating a climate of fear, hatred, and hostility towards their zionist aspirations. it is such behavior that anti-zionist jews have been protesting against for years, and which the zionist seeks to make sure that is not brought to the american public's attention. the israeli govt. slams iran, yet at the same time under-the-table they import iranian sweet crude. the israeli govt.'s nuke weapons program is a mixture of stolen u.s. tech and ignorant u.s. politicos being taken in by their lies. israel is not a 52nd state, nor is the u.s. israel's second state, but one wouldn't believe it if one listened to the israeli, and u.s. zionists.

why should americans be expected to financially support such a state?

Andy

This has been an interesting discussion and I'll jump in here with a few points of my own.

First, there is a difference of opinion as to why Israel and the US are allied which underly arguments as to what extend (if any) they should be allied. While I do think Israel and the US have many shared interests, there is also an underlying cultural component that is powerful, IMO. First, the history of the US and Israel have been linked since Israel's creation, so there's a certain amount of historical inertia in the relationship. Such inertia is not undone overnight. And secondly, and more importantly, Israel and the US have a common cultural background rooted in Europe and both are democracies. One might even suggest that Israel is essentially a culturally European nation in the ME which I think is a major source of commonality with the US.

The second point I would like to make is that I think people need to understand that there is one principle that underlies all Israeli strategic decision making: Israel's lack of strategic depth. Understanding this principle goes a long way toward explaining why Israel acts the way it does.

A good way to illustrate the concept of strategic depth is to contrast Israel with Russia. Israel has very little strategic depth - Russia has it in spades. Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and Germany's in WWII are examples where Russia's strategic depth was the difference between victory and defeat. Russia could afford to be unprepared at the beginning of hostilities, it could afford make major mistake after mistake, and it could afford to give up people and territory in exchange for time - time to attrit the enemy force and time to build and strengthen its own forces for counterattack.

For Israel, none of that is possible because it lacks strategic depth. It cannot afford to be unprepared at the beginning of hostilities, it cannot afford to make any major operational mistakes, and it cannot fight a war of attrition nor can it trade people and land for time in any conflict. As Col. Lang noted above, the lack of strategic depth even applies to nuclear war.

So how does this play out in Israel's strategic thinking and decision-making?

1. Israel has to have a strong military force to defeat its enemies before the initiation of hostilities because it will have no opportunity to build such a force once the war begins. This is why Israel believes it must be the dominant military power in the region.

2. Israel developed nuclear weapons to make up for its lack of strategic depth. The weapons are meant not only to deter conventional attack, but also to guarantee Israel's existence should its conventional force be defeated. After 1967 and 1973 Israel decided it could not depend on conventional force alone to guarantee the existence of the Israeli state. (And TomB - Israel has, since at least 1980, been amenable to a middle-east nuclear-weapons free zone, but Israel's position has been that recognition of Isreal and peace with its neighbors (including Iran) is a precondition for Israel to join such an agreement.)

3. Initiative. For nations with no strategic depth, letting adversaries take the initiative is dangerous. So Israel takes the initiative to fight on its terms and initiative often translates into preemption. Israel preempted in 1967 and wanted to preempt in 1973 (Kissinger said the US would not support Israel if it preempted, so they didn't - though this version of events is disputed by some).

As a corollary, since 1973, a foundation of Israeli strategic thinking is that the Israeli state cannot withstand military defeat and it cannot ultimately influence the intentions of its neighbors - only the ability for them to carry out those intentions. This ties into leadership. The current crop of Israeli leaders are those who fought or lived through the 1967 and 1973 wars and so they are firm believers in current doctrine. So when they hear the Iranian President they tend to take his rhetoric very seriously because it reminds them of what Nassar promised and tried to do. The problem with this thinking is that it's not 1973 anymore and the situation has changed.

I think I've said before here that I believe its time for Israel to reexamine its strategic doctrine and that it no longer works for today's realities. Unfortunately, I think this will require a new generation of Israeli leaders - a generation that came of age after Yom Kippur and are not tied to the concept that Arab and regional leaders are first and foremost committed to the destruction of Israel.

Interestingly, Bashar Assad on the Syrian side represents that new generation - my generation actually. At first I did not think much of him, but over time I think that he, more than any other ME leader, has the potential to break the ME stalemate with Israel. If Israel's leaders can break themselves out of their 1973 mindset, then I think Bashar is a man that can be dealt with.

Anyway, the takeaway from this long and meandering comment is this: Isreal's strategic thinking must be understood in the context - there are reasons why it is what is that need to be examined and understood. Some of those reasons have, in my view, been "overtaken by events" yet Israeli thinking has not yet adjusted. Such an adjustment will probably take a new generation of leaders.

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