Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Engaging with Iran" does NOT mean nuke them

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing

Denials or not, it is still a scary as hell thought that word was leaked about potential plans for Israel to launch a “low level” nuclear strike against Iran, in the hopes of destroying its nuclear program. Of course, the irony of ironies is that Israel (who has never “formally joined” the nuclear weapon “country club”) will use nuclear weapons to destroy what is thought to be a nuclear weapon program.

Now, at the peril of this devolving into an “Israel is or is not de facto US” or “Iran threatened Israel first” thread, I will state that this is not the point at all. The point here is that the entire Middle East – never a bastion of peace, love and happiness – is teetering on the brink of all out chaos. Over the past few months, I have written about the situation in Saudi Arabia as well as Iran and Pakistan, not to mention the loose nukes in Russia and a number of diaries about Afghanistan - all depicting some of the things that We the People aren’t reading or hearing about.

And last I checked, nearly 75% of Americans overall (including over 70% of Republicans) want the US to engage in direct talks with Iran and Syria in hopes of figuring out a logical or least horrific way to NOT have the entire Middle East dragged into a regional war.

So, what do we see today? Only that the only country ever to use nuclear weapons on another country is developing newer ones for the first time in two decades. And what do the “do as I say not as I do” Bush administration get for its’ cool $100 Billion colossal waste of money, er “investment” (per the NY Times):

The effort, if approved by President Bush and financed by Congress, would require a huge refurbishment of the nation’s complex for nuclear design and manufacturing, with the overall bill estimated at more than $100 billion.

But the council’s decision to seek a hybrid design, combining well-tested elements from an older design with new safety and security elements from a more novel approach, could delay the weapon’s production. It also raises the question of whether the United States will ultimately be forced to end its moratorium on underground nuclear testing to make sure the new design works.

At least the NY Times sees the hypocrisy here, or at least is good enough to report on it, even to a small degree:
At a time when the administration is trying to convince the world to put sanctions on North Korea and Iran to halt their nuclear programs, those critics argue, any move to improve the American arsenal will be seen as hypocritical, an effort by the United States to extend its nuclear lead over other countries. Should the United States decide to conduct a test, officials said, China and Russia — which have their own nuclear modernization programs under way — would feel free to do the same. North Korea was sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council for conducting its first test on Oct. 9, and it may be preparing for more, experts said.

Good, so let’s not only be the hypocrites of the century, but let’s kick off another round of a nuclear arms race with China and Russia – not to mention whoever else can now say “if the US is the only country that has actually USED these weapons, and THEY are developing more without sanctions, then why shouldn’t we be able to as well?” After all, we can see poll after poll after poll after poll after poll show that the US is thought of as the greatest threat to world peace.

So, moving back to Iran – there have been a number of events lately that show that the rhetoric of Ahmadenijad is wearing a bit thin, and that Iran may be moving away from his posturing. Take this news from today where the reformist parliamentarians in Iran are blaming Ahmadenijad for causing the UN sanctions:

Reformist former President Mohammad Khatami suspended Iran's nuclear work for more than two years in an effort to build confidence and avoid confrontation with the West, but Ahmadinejad's government resumed uranium enrichment in February last year.

"The only way to pass the crisis is to build confidence...but a holding Holocaust conference and financing the Hamas government creates mistrust and tension," Noureddin Pirmoazzen, the spokesman of parliament's reformist faction, told Reuters.

Not only that, but there is use of the “I” word in Iran as well:
Pirmoazzen said that two U.N. resolutions against Iran in the first 18 months of the government's term in office showed the foreign ministry was incapable of looking after Iran's national interests.

"We hope to witness a return to the manner of Khatami's government and see the crisis is solved in the next 60 days, or else we will have no alternative but to impeach Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki," Pirmoazzen said.

Hmmmmm....calls to return to the days where nuclear programs were suspended and the country tried to reach out in a diplomatic manner. Doesn’t sound like the general consensus is to start bombing anyone so soon.

Remember that back in December, the Iranian elections were at least somewhat of a rebuke of Ahmadinejad’s policies:

President Ahmadinejad of Iran suffered an embarrassing blow in local council races, according to partial election results yesterday, in voting viewed as a sign of public discontent with his hard-line stance.


The biggest victory was for "moderate conservatives," supporters of Iran's cleric-led power structure who are angry with Mr. Ahmadinejad, saying he has needlessly provoked the West with harsh rhetoric and has failed to fix the country's faltering economy.

All of this makes the latest news (and when a strong denial is issued, you know that there is generally something behind it – you know the whole “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” thing). Hell, even as recently as three weeks ago, the Christian Science Monitor advocated engaging politically with Iran and Syria. What is more interesting is that the article talks about how a “troop draw down is a must” and that coordination with Iran is required as part of this:
It's important to recognize - as the ISG also clearly did - that the US has no viable option either for any sustained increase in the US troop strength in Iraq or even for maintaining the current US deployment for very much longer. Both the sentiments of US voters and the constraining overall size of the US military prevent that.

There has to be a drawdown. The only question is this: Will it start sooner and be relatively orderly, or will it be delayed and run an increasing risk of being chaotic? And yes, the scenarios now foreseeable do include - if the delay is too long - a humiliating emergency withdrawal reminiscent of the US evacuation from Saigon in 1975 and Allied forces' flight from Dunkirk in 1940.

Either way - whether the administration is able to fashion a policy that allows for a relatively speedy and orderly drawdown, or the drawdown is delayed and more like Dunkirk - it will need to engage in significant coordination with Iran if it is to avoid a debacle.

Yet, here we are, after ALL of these mountains of evidence, opinion and near unanimity about engaging with Iran – and we still have to hear about military action – let alone NUCLEAR military action against Iran.
Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

What is even worse is that the thought is that not only will this work, but there will be no retaliation or backlash. Like Iran can’t singlehandedly cripple the oil market by taking over the Strait of Hormuz, let alone retaliate on US ships in the Gulf. Or that this will be similar to the wonderfully successful “Shock and Awe”, where nobody would DARE attempt to do anything against the US interests. Plus, it isn’t like the rest of the world (rightfully or not) views an act by Israel as an act by the US, so that our hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq wouldn’t immediately be put at an even larger risk of attack than they already are.

This is the most dangerous, shortsighted, arrogant, poorly times, ill advised threat or action since we cut and ran from Afghanistan and stumbled into the Iraqi occupation. Maybe even moreso.

It is time to forcefully oppose any action that does NOT involve direct engagement with Iran or Syria. Anything less is an imminent threat to our national security.

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