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November 20, 2006

Bomb Iran Redux

Great bit from Jules Crittendon of the Boston Herald:

What we have to do to influence Iran is explain that if Iran does not begin to cooperate with the international community, we will substantially isolate Iran and destroy its means of supporting terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons. This can be done incrementally, to give the Iranians an opportunity to reconsider their policy. Our Navy, not hyper-extended in Iraq, can blockade their ports. Our Air Force, also not hyper-extended in Iraq, can begin reducing their terrorist-support infrastructure. Things like oil fields, refineries and roads leading toward Syria and suspected nuclear sites. This can continue ... pretty much as long as the Iranians want it too.

If in fact we find an actual nuclear weapon, or one explodes anywhere in the world, the Iranians -- and the North Koreans as well -- need to know that we will assume it was theirs, and act accordingly. This may encourage them to turn their intelligence agencies and terrorist networks to better use.

If we are going to sit down and talk to the Iranians as the Iraq Study Group is expected to recommend, then this is the message that needs to be signalled loud and clear.

It's a policy I call Assured Destruction, because unlike the Cold War, there doesn't have to be anything mutual about it.

At any point along this path, if it turns out that they were just kidding, and it was all a big mistake, that will be too bad. For them.

Crittendon notes that we do not need to invade Iran. (Except, perhaps, to send in a large column of rapidly-moving mechanized forces with one and only one goal: secure and destroy Iran's nuclear materials and equpment, then quickly move out and move on. NO NATION BUILDING.)

We can't invade Iran; Iraq has one-third it's population, and that's been, as Tony Blair said, a disaster (or at least disaster-ish). So that's off the table.

But an invasion -- with the attendant "stabilizing" and "nation building" -- is actually a "compassionate conservative" method of warfare. It is far less costly to us to merely smash the means of state control and let the chaos fluourish and sort itself out.

It's not that nation building isn't an admirable goal, or that, were it less costly, we would prefer to honor Colin Powell's claim that "You break it, you bought it." But Iraq has taught us this is simply too costly -- even if it would be nice to rebuild Iran as the state the Iranian people deserve, we know it's not possible, at least not possible in terms of any price we're willing (or even capable) of paying, given that so much of our military is bogged down in Iraq.

Colin Powell should go hang. The new mantra should be "You own it, so if you want to keep it in fair working condition, you ought to not provoke us into breaking it."

And we do need to be deadly serious about announcing our nuclear intentions -- that any rogue nuclear state is automatically a potential target for nuclear strikes should a bomb blow be blown up anywhere by any non-state or unknown actor. This is just common sense. We have been proactive about announcing our policy in the past; why are we now squeamish about telling these people, up-front, precisely what the costs will be should a nuke be detonated in a city of America or an American ally?

One thing that bothers me -- and this goes back to the Balkans. America has become rather childish about arming potential rebels against enemy states. The idea always seems to be that we cannot arm rebels or revolutionaries, because they might engage in terrorism themselves from time to time, or that it exacerbates the infamous "cycle of violence."

This is nonesense, and it's time to get back to an eighties/Cold War frame of mind on this. America seems to have the idea that only America, or other Western states, can be trusted to make war on tyrants; rebels and revolutionaries are prone to doing terrible, criminal things on occasion. Whereas American (and Western) troops are far more disciplined about war crimes.

But this leaves us with an unsatisfying binary choice -- either do the war yourself, or don't do it at all.

The hell with that. Sympathetic proxies served us well throughout our history. True, they will on occasion be every bit as thuggish and terroristic as the terrorist regimes we oppose. But such evils can be countennanced in order to destroy a greater evil.

At some point we may want to consider simply air-dropping in crates of guns, ammo, radios, and explosives into Iran. We hardly have to fear the government seizing such caches of weapons; they've already got all the guns they might want. But if there truly is a nascent movement that could possibly oppose the Iranian government, isn't it time we started giving them the tools to do so?

If the truism that the citizens fear a government with guns, but a government fears as citizenry with guns holds for America, why not Iran, or North Korea, or any of these other basket-case countries out there? Why should they be the exporters of destabilizing violence and chaos and not have a bit of that imported into their own countries?

Crittendon's piece, by the way, opens with a useful discussion of reporter/toadies like Seymore Hirsh "fighting the last media war" -- that is, now believing they were "duped" into thinking Saddam had WMD's (as everyone, including Saddam himself, seems to have believed), many are now determined to ignore the rather obvious evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and claim there's nothing at all to fear from Ahmadinejad.

Apparently such reporters believe that, having gotten the story wrong in Iraq, they can correct their mistake by getting it even more wrong in Iran.

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posted by Ace at 03:47 PM

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