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Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Times' Hypocritical, Hawkish Stance

Yes, I'm beating on The New York Times again. (Hey, the day isn't complete unless the Times racks up at least one black eye.) Anyway, Capt. Ed brought this to my attention today. Yes, it seems the doves at the Times have become quite hawkish.

DIPLOMATS around the world keep repeating the mantra: There is no military option when it comes to slowing, much less stopping, Iran's presumed ambitions to get the Bomb. The Europeans say so. The Chinese, who need Iran's oil, and the Russians, who make billions supplying Iran's civilian nuclear business, say so emphatically.

Stop! The last time we watched this much resistance to such talk, we suspected that nations had been helping on dictator, so it stands to reason that beyond Russia and China, other nations--like those in Western Europe--might have had a hand in helping the Iranians, too. And in addition to that point the Europeans have never been much help recently as it stands, aside from Great Britain. I know Angela Merkel talks tough, but can she walk the walk needed to secure freedom in the world, or will she dawdle like Schroeder did?

Even the hawks in the Bush administration make no threats. When Vice President
Dick Cheney was asked Thursday, in a television interview, if the United States might ever resort to force to stop Iran, he handled the question as if it, too, were radioactive.

Ha. Ha. Very Funny, Mr. Sanger. Congratulations at achieving the heights that only Michael Hiltzik had achieved until now. The military option has never been off the table. Dr. Rice has reiterated this to our allies in her recent trips abroad. The president stated it earlier this past week. And Cheney has stated that the military option isn't off the table. Had Mr. Sanger done his homework before putting this piece to bed, he might've found this. It's an interview conducted by Hugh Hewitt with Vice President Cheney on Friday morning. I cite from that interview for the record:

HH: Does America keep a military option on the table, Mr. Vice President?

DC: No president should ever take the military table off the table, if I can put it in those terms, and I think it's important that all options are on the table. And that's not a predictor of anything, it's just as a general proposition, when you're dealing with important issues like this, you don't want to take any options off the table.

Can it be any clearer for Mr. Sanger and the New York Times?

"No president should ever take the military option off the table," he said, carefully avoiding the kind of language he once used to warn Saddam Hussein. "Let's leave it there."

Right there for you, so why does the Times try to spin Cheney's reluctance on this. No one I know of is gung-ho to go to war, however we do so when we have to. And to not have some sort of plan in play prior to the possibility of hostilities is just plain stupid. So, naturally the option is on the table. The Pentagon isn't working up diplomatic scenarios; they're wargaming this option out.

Mr. Cheney, it seemed, was trying to sow just enough ambiguity to make Iran think twice. Which raises two questions. If diplomacy fails, does America have a military option? And what if it doesn't?

"It's a kind of nonsense statement to say there is no military solution to this," said W. Patrick Lang, the former head of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency. "It may not be a desirable solution, but there is a military solution."

Mr. Lang was piercing to the heart of a conundrum the Bush administration recognizes: Iran could become a case study for pre-emptive military action against a gathering threat, under a policy Mr. Bush promulgated in 2002. But even if taking out Iran's facilities delay the day the country goes nuclear, it would alienate allies and probably make firm enemies out of many Iranians who have come to dislike their theocratic government. And Iran simply has too many ways of striking back, in the oil markets, in the Persian Gulf, through Hezbollah.

If it's done smartly, then we should have little problem with the move. It will require quite a bit of work right now, and coordination with Israel; there is no other way around it. They have made one strike this before, and I believe they actually know where the sites are. One thing is for sure, to deal with Iran decisively, the operations must be covert, and they must be carried out very quickly.

"Could we do it?" one administration official who was deeply involved in planning the Iraq invasion said recently. "Sure. Could we manage the aftermath? I doubt it."

And here's the infamous quagmire sequel. Mr. Sanger found someone who believes that there's no way we can handle the aftermath. We were able to balance our allies prior during the invasion of Iraq, and there were plenty of so-called "experts" claiming we couldn't pull that off. We seem to be doing it, and at a much more rapid pace than they ever would have expected.

Similar fears, he said, gave President
Bill Clinton pause about launching a strike on North Korea in 1994. Later that year he reached an accord for a freeze on the North's nuclear production facilities. But in 2003 everything unfroze, and now the North, by C.I.A. estimates, has enough fuel for at least half a dozen bombs.

Um, excuse me, but nothing was unfrozen in 2003. North Korea told the world it was free to do whatever it wanted to do, and told the world it could go pound sand. I give the Times an "A" for effort on the revisionist history, but an "F" for achievement. And now the conundrum for the Times: If the US doesn't move on Iran, we could end up with a North Korea. However, they don't really feel like we could manage the post-war Iran, and the problems they would present. Hmm ... Decisions, decisions.

The Iranians took careful notes then, and here in Washington today the Korean experience underlies diplomacy-versus-force arguments that rarely take place on the record.

The problem is not that Washington lacks targets. Many of Iran's nuclear facilities, or at least those that American intelligence agencies know about, are in plain view or in underground sites whose construction was recorded by spy satellites. The problem is the global consequences of an attack to cripple them.

"The irony is that this is the opposite of Iraq," said John J. Hamre, a deputy defense secretary from 1997 to 1999.
"We know a lot about what they have because the international inspectors have been there." Those inspection reports have helped Pentagon planners who, in imagining every contingency, have already mapped out Iran's most vulnerable facilities.

"Elimination of the nuclear program is not possible, but with the right strikes you could decisively set them back," said Ashton B. Carter, an expert at Harvard on proliferation problems.

No, the only way to remove the program from Ahmadinejad's grasp is to remove Ahmadinejad and his mullah puppeteers. That means an invasion, and that means regime change. However, to truly set them back, every site will have to be hit. The biggest problem we face in the aftermath from that is a step-up of Hezbollah attacks on American interests around the globe. Now, Hezbollah formally endorsed by Iran (which to date they refuse to do) captured after an attack could be construed as an act of war. Again, we face the same problems we would face in an invasion now. The difference then and now are the nukes, and how close they are to getting them. The other nightmare scenario is a deal with North Korea or Pakistan, both of which Iran has ties to when it comes to their nuclear program. Can anyone imagine a warhead in their hands, purchased off of the aforementioned nations? Can anyone imagine that weapon in Hezbollah's hands?

In Iran's case, any attack would almost certainly start at Natanz, where Iran clipped off the International Atomic Energy Agency's seals a week ago and said it was preparing to reassemble a connected series of 164 centrifuges for purifying uranium.

Just beyond the research laboratories is a huge underground chamber, designed to hold as many as 50,000 centrifuges, yet unbuilt. Iran hid its existence for years.

Also on the target list, officials said, would be factories that manufacture the centrifuge components, and a plant at Isfahan where raw uranium is converted into a form that can be fed into the centrifuges.

Then there are research centers and military installations where the United States suspects - but cannot prove - that clandestine nuclear-related activity may be taking place. Given the track record in Iraq, however, there is always the risk that those facilities will turn out to be a watch factory, or, worse, a schoolhouse. (The Iranians hid one facility behind a false wall in a Tehran factory, but the I.A.E.A. found it.)

In other words, this won't be easy. Yes, we know. Some of us have intimate knowledge when it comes to dealing with military issues. I'm surprised the Times didn't try to bribe one of Kerry's infamous generals to write this piece. We know that there are as many as twenty sites across Iran with a number of other suspected sites. However without confirmation, they will likely be targets for spec-ops to investigate and secure.

"You are talking about something in the neighborhood of a thousand strike sorties," said Mr. Lang. "And it would take all kinds of stuff - air, cruise missiles, multiple restrikes - to make sure you've got it all." Other former officials say fewer bombing runs would be needed.

The Israelis, who see Iran's nuclear program as a threat to their existence and have been far more outspoken about a military option, give a similar assessment. But they also say they lack the air power, or the reach, to do the job.

I doubt this greatly. The same was said about the strike on Osirik, and they still pulled it off. We do have a severe advantage over the Israelis as we do have the stealth bombers and fighters that can be used in nightly bombing raids just like in Iraq both times we had to use the brunt of our military power. If this were done over the course of a couple weeks, we might be able to bleed them. Under the cover of those raids can be spec-ops on the ground checking out the other sites. And we can't forget the dissident movement in Iran. They dislike the mullahs very much, and would prefer an end to theocratic rule. Those people should be approached now, and trained in the event of an invasion. Not only would they serve as intelligence conduit, but would also be able to help convince elements of Iran's military to immediately deal with Hezbollah elements in Tehran.

In any event, it is one thing to talk about such strikes in purely military terms, and another to consider the political cost.

"What you do with a bombing campaign is bring a whole country rallying around its radical leaders," said Mr. Hamre. "And that's the opposite of what we are trying to achieve in Iran," which is to convince a well-traveled, well-educated, and in some cases pro-American population to usher in a very different kind of leadership."

Gotcha, but we wouldn't be bombing overly civilian areas. The bombing would be focused solely on the nuclear sites as far away from population centers as possible. Those that are that close can be dealt with by operators on the gound. Again, the defeatist position by the Times. Further, the populace has to know and understand by now that their leadership has put them in an extremely precarious position. If they continue on this path, and I'll wager that they will, then a military option will be the only one left.

But if Iran knows the United States and its allies ultimately have no stomach to put military muscle behind their demands, what is its incentive to give up its weapons program? Efforts by the Europeans and Russia to come up with formulas that would provide Iran with nuclear material that cannot be used for weapons have been rejected, at least so far. And no one wants to threaten truly tough sanctions, for fear that by hurting ordinary Iranians they will only drive moderates into the camp of their leaders. Those leaders have been threatening retaliation, even to measures as weak as a letter of warning from the United Nations Security Council.

Then retaliate, already. Lord, Iran's in the same boat the world is. A heavy retaliation, such as a spike in the price of oil, could alienate them and drive the world in other directions for their oil. Should it be a military retaliation, such as a missile attack in Israel, or a Hezbollah bombing in Germany, they would face even further alienation, and at that point be staring a war in the face.

They have threatened to cut off oil exports and send the markets into a panic, though most experts said an embargo is not something Iran could execute for very long without damaging its own economy. Iran could also step up interference in Iraq and dispatch Hezbollah on terror missions. In addition, the Iranians often boast that their missiles can reach Israel.

That's an act of war, and Iran--up to this point--is luckey we haven't decided to step over that border. But, times are changing, and that may be necessary, with or without the world.

Some of those threats may be inflated. And for now, at least, Iran's centrifuge program appears to have hit some technical hitches. I.A.E.A. inspectors are still in Iran, and the Iranians have not yet dared throw them out, as the North Koreans did three years ago. A senior European diplomat involved in the talks with Iran dismissed most of the country's threats last week as "bluster meant to buy them some time, and keep us paralyzed."

Typical of the European diplomat. He is paralyzed, meanwhile the US is moving towards a Security Council resolution. We knew this was going to happen. We warned the EU three involved in these talks what was going to happen. And no one listened to us. We've been at odds with Iran since 1979, and we've watched them for a long time. The problem up until now is that Iran always rattled their saber, and that rattle used to shut everyone up. Not anymore. It's put up or shut up time for both sides.

But, he added, "it may work."

Several American officials, when promised anonymity, said they thought that in 5 or 10 years, Iran will most likely have a weapon.

"They have read us pretty well," Mr. Hamre said. "They have skated right at the edge of controlled pugnaciousness."
The debate among the West, Russia and China is whether, together, they are willing to skate to the same edge in hopes that, in a repeat of the cold war, the other side blinks first.

My problem here is that those American officials are idiots. They have the centrifuges to enrich the uranium. They have 20 or so ICBMs on the way over from Russia, and they still have ties to North Korea and Pakistan. Dr. AQ Khan signed a nuclear consulting agreement with Iran in 1986, so they have the knowledge. All they lack is the ability to construct it, mount it on an ICBM, and then we really have a problem. Washington wet it's pants in the 1950s when the Soviets got the bomb; imagine the messy diaper we'll see in Washington if dithering allowed the Iranians to join the nuclear club.

I also find this piece interesting on the heels of Sen. Clinton's hawkish, yet reduntantly retarded screed about outsourcing this problem to others, like France and Germany, when it should have been outsourced to Russia and China. (Hint for Mrs. Clinton ... BECAUSE, you ditz, they're in bed with them!) This piece doesn't fool anyone. Should we commit troops in the effort to deal with Iran, the Times will be right there with the rest of the MSM crying "quagmire," and waving the bodies of our men and women killed like cheap war banners.

Publius II


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