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16 March 2012


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Professor Bolan, your sound common sense is refreshing. However aren't you making the assumption that "American and Israeli policy makers" are both rational and honest in their intentions towards Iran?

To my untutored eye, it appears that the nuclear matter is simply an excuse and that the main objective is to neutralise Iranian influence permanently.

If this is the case, then no level of Iranian compliance will satisfy Israel.

This proposal may shortly be tested if a report about the possibility of an Iranian overture on the subject of a Grand Bargain" (the agonist.org) are to be believed.

My belief is that nothing but the destruction of Irans infrastructure, a la Iraq, will satisfy Israel.


Meh... The sanctions against Iraq prevented Saddam from developing his WMDs, but at a huge cost to the population. Would it take the same to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear "capabilities"? Is it worth it?



Colonel (Ret.) Bolan was my student at USMA long ago. pl

FB Ali


I agree with you. The aim is, at a minimum, to effect regime change, otherwise to destroy the country as an effective power in the region. (I would suggest we not use such 'neutral' words as "neutralise" to describe the destruction of a country with the attendant killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of its people!).


From the Asia Times... Photos of Iran's Parchin site lack credibility

And, the IAEA has already inspected Parchin and took soil samples...! All after the infamous 'Nuke Laptop' was handed to the IAEA...!


The Seeds of War on Syria and/or Iran...?

U.S. pilots plant SEAD with Turkish counterparts


I am not sure that "regime change" as such would be useful from Israel's point of view - nearly any successor to the current group in power that I can envision would be just as interested in instantiating an Iranian hegemony over the Middle East as the current government appears to be.

IMO the central issue here is that 'Iran' (by which I mean the Iranian society probably more than any single government} feels that Iran should have a significantly greater influence on the Middle East and South Asia than it currently does. Israel feels differently. (I would imagine that Turkey and Egypt might have their own opinions as well.)

What we are seeing here may be analogous to the wars that that Dutch fought to try and preserve their place in the international order back in the 17th and 18th centuries - wars that were ultimately doomed to fail. The Netherlands was fundamentally not able to compete with France and England, and I think Israel is similarly not able to match Turkey and Iran (don't know about Egypt).

Israel's intolerance of Iran has nothing to do (really) with whether or not they have a nuclear bomb, and everything to do with the fact that they are a functional society with a vastly greater resource base, and a relatively educated population that is ten times as large. The 'existential threat' that Israel sees in Iran is precisely that...and they are currently engaged in a rather sophisticated program to see if they can sucker the United States into pushing the inflection point in their relationship with Iran out into the future 15 or 20 years.


A preemptive attack on Iran in the near future is ridiculous!!!!!


"The risks of war are real. Recent reports that Secretary of State Clinton has urged her Russian counterparts to tell Iran that upcoming talks are the ‘last chance’ before military attacks and President Obama’s warning yesterday that “the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking” only demonstrate just how perilously close to war we are."
If we really are perilously close to war then we are heading down the trail toward another wasteful, meaningless operation - it can easily backfire on us. We must not waste our precious resources on another operational "disaster". Let's cut the nonsense, get a life and straighten out or own twisted economic mess!


When are we going to apply the same inspection mandates to Israel? How about Japan and Brazil? Or don't they matter...yet?


So which country would be next for Israel to destroy as an effective power in the region, Turkey, Saudi Arabia?

Chris Bolan

My hope is that American policymakers will be rational, however, I don't discount the role of 'primordial violence, hatred, and enmity' in war as Clausewitz reminds us. Unfortunately, nuclear weapons play easily to this aspect of fear in a way that might well overcome better rational judgement. Hence the importance of discussions like this on Pat's excellent blog and the need to push back against unfounded 'assumptions' that Iran is developing nuclear weapons -- in particular when the considered opinion of the US intelligence community that Iran abandoned a formalized program for nuclear weapons development in 2003.

Chris Bolan

If we go to war, regime change will undoubtedly be one of the strategic objectives considered. However, it not likely be enthusiastically embraced by either the American public, the US intelligence community or senior uniformed leaders who have witnessed firsthand the difficulties and costs of such overreach in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this important issue, it will matter greatly who is president at the time. Indeed, it is this latter point which is an important factor in Prime Minister Netanyahu's calculations. cjb


Professor Bolan-

I would perhaps put the emphasis in this case on one of the other elements of Clausewitz's remarkable trinity, that being "the play of chance and probability" or simply "uncertainty". The Israelis supported the Iraq war in 2003 for similar reasons as their desire to cripple Iran today. Is not this current rush to arms the direct result of Iran coming up the strategic winner of our misadventure in Iraq? What reason should we have to believe that this concocted venture in organized violence will end up any more successfully for the aggressors than the last one did?

FB Ali


I agree with the points you make. I don't think Israel has any interest in a regime change in Iran. However, it seems to me that, in the rather confused US policy-making on the issue, one option being hoped for is a more friendly (or at least cooperative) regime coming into power.


I doubt if Israel is worried about Saudi Arabia; they know that the Saudi royals are not a threat. Yes, Turkey is a problem for them, but the only way they can take them on is to get the US to do it for them. That doesn't look doable for now.



I am with Walrus on this matter. I don't believe US politicians are rational actors when it comes to the ME, acting in the best national interests of the US. They are unfortunately driven by domestic political considerations and in some cases plain hubris.

Unlike the Cold War, where the Soviets had significant retaliatory capabilities forcing rational thinking on both sides, we saw in the case of Iraq that both the Clinton and George W Bush administrations took military actions on the basis of a nonexistent WMD threat. As Cheney is reported to have said when asked why the invasion of Iraq - because it's doable. There is nothing Saddam could have done to prevent that invasion, including attempting to prove a negative. There was a political decision to invade and then rationales were developed. We do not know if it was for ideological reasons or hubris or some other calculus. But it is clear that it was not based on rational, objective assessments of US national interests.

In the case of Iran, it is even worse, precisely because of the Iraq fiasco. Since many observers will rightfully conclude that a decision by the US to attack Iran is purely for domestic political considerations - by the need to satisfy the politically powerful Ziocon lobby and not to further US national interests.


Dr. Bolan, in your judgment how deep is the satisfaction with the level of monitoring from the IAEA on both sides? In other words, is there a legitimate scenario in which both the US and Iran allow for continued monitoring while the media frenzy dies out?

"The International Atomic Energy Agency is actively monitoring Iranian facilities."

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