Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Iran, Middle East — Rick Moran @ 1:56 pm

While attention in Washington has been riveted on the Foley mess, a significant development was occurring outside of the Capitol that makes the back and forth between the two parties seem very small indeed.

At a meeting of what is described as our “senior operatives and outside experts from the intelligence community,” it seems that a decision of sorts has been reached regarding stopping the Iranians from getting nuclear weapons; it can’t be done:

Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities was rejected on the grounds that the intelligence needed for successful air strikes was lacking. “We only have an imperfect understanding of the extent and location of the Iranian programme,” said one source with knowledge of the meeting. “Even if we got the order to blow it up, we wouldn’t know how to.”

The White House’s earlier enthusiasm for military strikes if all else failed has cooled after warnings from the Pentagon and intelligence analysts that the risk to reward ratio of taking action was too high. At best 80% of the targets are mapped out and then only sketchily. The “collateral damage” to civilians could be considerable, sources say.

“Unless you can be 100% effective and set the programme back by two decades, you’ll just get a short-term delay and you may not produce a result that is better than the current one,” an intelligence analyst said.

General John Abizaid, commander of US forces in the Middle East, has warned that striking Iran could cripple oil supplies, unleash a “surrogate” terrorist army and lead to missile attacks on America’s regional allies. The army is particularly concerned about Iran’s ability to destabilise an already chaotic Iraq.

Whether or not this is a case of “cooler heads prevailing” with regards to military action against Iran it certainly is welcome news. Even if you support bombing the Iranians, what the intelligence community has been trying to impress on the President and his men is that we have time yet to deal with Iran via diplomacy:

John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, has told President George W Bush that there is no rush to use force as Iran’s nuclear programme is beset with technical errors. “He has been saying, ‘Slow down, it’s not an immediate problem’,” said Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, has staked her reputation on achieving a negotiated settlement with the help of the “EU3” nations of Britain, France and Germany.

“President Bush is not going to take military action against the advice of the secretary of state, US generals and the director of national intelligence,” Clawson said.

Actually, Clawson may be talking through his hat about Bush. I have no doubt that if George Bush feels it is in the best interest of the United States to bomb Iran, he will do so regardless of who tells him otherwise. This is one of Bush’s greatest faults as well as one of his greatest strengths. Certainly not Carteresque in his decision making as the ex-President would agonize for days, sometimes weeks, over minor matters that were best left to subordinates in the first place. Once Bush decides on a course of action, it is near impossible to deflect him until the goal is achieved. One sees immediately the strengths and weaknesses such a personality trait brings to the table.

Having said that, it would seem improbable that Bush could ignore the entire military/diplomatic establishment’s advice on such an important issue. The bombing option was always going to be a temporary solution anyway since the liklihood of degrading the Iranian program significantly has always been doubted. The most optimistic estimates were that it could delay their program by as many as 5 years. And that would be after weeks of sorties and probably many thousands of civilian casualties.

In other words, our intel professionals as well as most professional soldiers have come to pretty much the same conclusion; the costs of such a campaign would significantly outweigh the benefits. The sad fact is, we just don’t have much we can offer the Iranians or threaten them with:

Intelligence analysts concluded at last week’s meeting that there were no negotiating carrots or sticks, such as sanctions, capable of persuading Iran to halt its pursuit of nuclear know-how — which it maintains is for peaceful energy purposes.

“The sobering view is that even if there is a deal, the Iranians would cheat,” another source said.

“The conclusion is that America is going to have to live with the bomb unless there’s some miracle, such as a major accident, a major defector or an orange revolution,” the source added, referring to the people’s protests that brought reformers to power in Ukraine. None of these scenarios is considered likely.

Ted Koppel comes to the right conclusion but, like a typical lefty, for the wrong reasons:

If Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it.

The elimination of American opposition on this issue would open the way to genuine normalization between our two nations. It might even convince the Iranians that their country can flourish without nuclear weapons.

But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear “accident,” Iran should understand that the U.S. government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.

Is it really too difficult for a liberal to understand that if a nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita (much more likely Washington or New York) that BY THAT TIME IT IS TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? Retaliation is meaningless. And, as Allah points out, Koppel would be one of the first to say so:

If a dirty bomb went off in Milwaukee and Bush answered with a nuke on Tehran, the left would start shrieking instantly about genocide, disproportionality, and the lack of evidence of culpability. Same playbook as their carping about “collective punishment” of Palestinians by Israel, only writ much, much larger. And they’d have a point: a dirty bomb could just as well come from AQ using material obtained from North Korean or Russian agents, with no assistance from Iran. It wouldn’t bother me if we held them responsible anyway. But I bet it’d bother Ted Koppel.

Nightline might even run a special two-hour episode where they read the names of some of the Iranian dead.

There has never been a country that pursued nuclear weapons and was deterred from getting them by anything but force or the threat of force. Only the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor prevented Saddam from getting a nuke back in the 1980’s. And our invasion of Iraq along with the toppling of Saddam convinced Qadaffi to give up on his nuclear ambitions (we also interecepted nuclear hardware on its way to Libya which the frightened Libyan strongman believed gave the US an excuse to invade).

Israel, South Africa, and North Korea ignored international conventions, pressure, and pleadings on their way to building their own nukes. And now apparently Iran will get its chance to impoverish its people even further and try its hand at pulling the nuclear rabbit out of a hat.

Fortunately, the technical challenges are such that they are still at least 3 and more likely 5 years from having the ultimate defense against slanderous Muhammed cartoons. While diplomacy will probably be futile, the mullahs have more immediate concerns; the Israelis are most likely not going to be deterred as they see Iranian nukes as a threat to their national existence:

The biggest deterrent might come from the Israelis, not the Americans. Israeli defence sources are increasingly convinced that it will fall to them to stop a nuclear Iran. In their view Iran should not be allowed to get to the “point of no return” where it has the know-how to build a bomb.

“The Israelis are going to have to make a decision earlier than we do,” Clawson said. “That’s a real problem for us.”

Indeed. The tiny nation of Israel going up against a regional power with hundreds of missiles capable of reaching their vulnerable cities not to mention enemies who would strike at her back while she was engaged in the life and death struggle with Iran would almost certainly draw the US into the conflict in some meaningful way. And the fact is Iran is getting stronger every year, their conventional arms are being modernized thanks to their friends in Russia and China. Israel’s overwhelming material superiority is diminishing. The Jewish state is very aware of this and will almost certainly strike sooner rather than later.

And when that happens, will the American President, whoever it may be, stand behind Israel?


  1. I don’t beleive Bush will go after Iran now but if the dems have their way we never will and if they get into office of Presidency the dem president won’t, that for sure.
    I fear a dirty bomb is going to occur in our country soon and it seems nobody cares … what I also fear is an attack on our schools similar to what the terrorists in Russia did, out schools have so many open doors and the ones here in Ala. have only (1) resource office, with a gun, but he is always being called down to the other end of the hall for an incident. I know these things as I am a sub teacher. The open door(s) are at every school I have subbed in …. parents, beware, your kids are not safe in our schools.

    Comment by Drewsmom — 10/3/2006 @ 2:20 pm

  2. Easy on the Wichita reference. It’s hot enough here already.

    Comment by kreiz — 10/3/2006 @ 2:55 pm

  3. This is as good as political commentary gets. Rick, when you connect, you not only hit it out of the park, you hit it past the parking lot! We have never dealt effectively with the actual and potential proliferation of nuclear weapons, particularly since the fall of the Soviet Union. I have yet to read anything convincing that the location of all Soviet suitcase bombs is known to either U.S. or Russian authorities. The same may also be said for their full-sized nuclear armaments as well. Most members of the nuclear club are responsible, but some are quite questionable. The former Soviet Union has too many rogues, thieves and desperate people to trust that their weapons will not end up in terrorist hands (or states that sponsor them). Pakistan? I cannot articulate the solid reasons for trusting that they would not transfer nuclear technology or even weapons to terrorists. North Korea? A bigger mightmare in my mind than even Iran with nukes. If Saddam was a dangerous dictator (and he was), then what is Kim Jong Il? Brutal AND nuts.

    I have no idea what to do about either above the table and below the table nuclear proliferation. It will happen in Iran, and we can expect other states that are not pro-Western to follow suit. Walk loudly and carry a big nuke, I guess.

    The United Nations can and will do nothing to prevent more rogue states from going nuclear. The United States is limited in what we can do. You gave the great examples of stopping Saddam from getting his weapons program completed, but can such strikes occur now?

    Even refusing to buy Iranian and all Middle Eastern oil, a move that would surely devastate our economy, would be of no avail to cut off their money supply to acquire nuclear weapons. China and Russia, among others, would keep the money flowing without us. However jingoist it sounds, we must make it abundantly clear that a nuclear strike on Israel will make the Fifth Pillar of Islam unnecessary. There will be no Mecca to go to. Thanks again for the thought-provoking, if dark message.

    Comment by ed — 10/3/2006 @ 2:56 pm

  4. [...] MORE: Ted Koppel joins stampede; OK with Iran bomb:Hot Air Khomeini’s Nuke Vision for Iran Confederate Yankee, Right Wing Nut House [...]

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  5. Times Online reported:

    Intelligence analysts concluded at last week’s meeting that there were no negotiating carrots or sticks, such as sanctions, capable of persuading Iran to halt its pursuit of nuclear know-how — which it maintains is for peaceful energy purposes.

    “The sobering view is that even if there is a deal, the Iranians would cheat,” another source said.

    Why on earth would Iran make any kind of “deal” when a main point of the article states essentially that we have no position for any negotiations on the matter short of Israel ultimately dealing with the problem?

    I thought Rick’s blog was well written, but I want to know how Pakistan and India figure into all of this. From Iran’s point of view, they are surrounded on practically all sides by “opposing” forces with nuclear capability, whether it be us in Iraq, or any of the other “sovereign” nuke-equipped nations with close ties to us in the region. Faced with these realities and the constant drumbeat of “evil Iran must be dealt with” from the West, I can understand why the Iranians feel left out.

    Personally, I long for the days of the “Speak softly and carry a big stick” approach to diplomacy. From reading Israeli newspapers during the Lebanese War, it became clear that many Israelis felt that the common wisdom of the IDF’s steadfast infalibilty were severely compromised in the wake of sustained rocket retaliation’s from Hezbollah. I fear that our sustained casualty rate in Iraq could prove to be a similar message about our own armed forces to our enemies.

    When did using a crane to crush a fly become a logical argument, anyway?

    Comment by Nexus — 10/3/2006 @ 5:28 pm

  6. This is a huge mistake, if that’s actually what was decided.

    We will pay in blood later for what we defer now.

    I hate to shill my own work (well, no I don’t,but I try to avoid it on other people’s sites)but I suggest interested parties read this to find out (a) why we’re not going to be able to live with Iranian nukes and (b) how to REALLY deal with the problem of Iran, which is both to prevent it becoming a nuclear power and to curtail its leadership of global terrrosim and jihad against the West:

    J O S H U A P U N D I T: Time to do the mullah dance

    Comment by Freedom Fighter — 10/3/2006 @ 6:03 pm

  7. This situation as you describe may or may not be a problem. One problem that is clearly obvious, however, is that fear of brown people is being used as a propaganda tool. Another obvious problem is that eventually people notice that there have been lots of “boy crying wolf”, but no actual wolf has bombed or killed anybody on american soil since 9/11.

    Either have one of your republican agents bomb some ugly american in the name of allah so that everyone can go back to hiding under their beds again, or dump the fear mongering.

    I’m gotten quite bored with brown-people-fear and would appreciate it if you repubs could add some variety to your menu. How about fear of cars? After all, you are 390 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist.

    Source: http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/6/332

    Think about that the next time you fill your tank. While you’re at it, think about where your gas comes from. Think about all the countries in the world who could benefit from a good invasion in the name of democracy, and consider the amount of oil those countries *don’t* have.

    I’m sure it’s all just coincidence.

    ps - kudos for having the conjones to enable unregistered comments, most people don’t. I turned mine off, since there’s nothing there yet.

    Comment by Johanna — 10/3/2006 @ 6:46 pm

  8. Speaking of looking under the bed, just what the hell are you talking about? Where do you see anything in this post except a reasoned discussion of the bleak options facing this country regarding what even the American hating IAEA believes is an Iranian effort to get make nuclear weapons.

    Kind of forgot about ElBaradei didn’t ya? Or…maybe you were so entranced with his brown skin you didn’t listen to what he had to say about Iranian nukes?

    And btw - Iranians = brown skin? How ignorant are you? The Iranians are indo-Europeans - which makes them as white as me.

    So much for the world revolving around your racist fantasies…

    Comment by Rick Moran — 10/3/2006 @ 6:51 pm

  9. Rick,
    In response to your remarks criticizing Johanna commenting on hiding under beds. Maybe she got that impression from your first commenter, Drewsmom, the substitute teacher from Alabama that thinks that as soon as Democrat becomes president, a dirty bomb is going to be detonated in her school because there is only one resource office(r)with a gun and he’s usually down the hall for one incident or another. Oh My God! Here is proof positive that republicans are getting their message out - if you elect the democrats, you will die. I’m all for taking precautions, but what does she want -the National Guard at the doors of her school.

    Comment by zeus — 10/4/2006 @ 2:05 am

  10. First time commenter here.

    A few observations.

    Negotiations generally go better when one can negotiate from a position of strength. I’m hard pressed to determine what strength we have outside of military action. Clearly, world opinion is not on our side nor are many of our old “allies”. Forget anything serious from the U.N. I doubt the American people have the will for a strike in Iran.

    But any strikes on Iran would seem to further weaken our political position internationally and would most certainly cause Iran to retaliate using Israel as their target.

    This is a very tight spot.

    Let me add to the emphasis that any strength that is overused becomes a weakness. Bush is going to have to concede on nuclear development for energy use and try to get agreement that inspections take place to confirm intent and development. Frankly, he has no other viable options.

    Please don’t peg me a liberal. Totally opposite. However, I am realistic though, but not entirely optimistic. I fully expect Iran to engage Israel or vice versa in the not too distant future. When that happens all hell breaks loose.

    Comment by Bob — 10/4/2006 @ 8:49 am

  11. Oh gee, I guess when Iran nukes and kills 6 million Jews the ‘world” can make a collective gasp and bemoan ” well we were helpless to stop it” BS ! Fact is no one has the b*lls to stop it.

    Comment by bondservant — 10/5/2006 @ 12:00 pm

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