Monday, August 17, 2015

FOD 2015.08.17

Bear with me. This is a somewhat lengthy post, but IMO it covers a critical issue facing the world today.

barry has been running around touting his nuclear deal with Iran as the greatest thing since sliced bread. He employs a classic false dichotomy argument, claiming that the only two options are either accept his deal or go to war with Iran.

“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” President Obama says.

How is that argument flawed? Let's count the ways.
First, the Iran agreement does not stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. It may slow it down, but in 15 years Tehran is free to do what it wants. For the region, the signal couldn’t be clearer. Iran is going nuclear, if not soon, then at least in 15 years.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are not going to sit on their hands waiting to see what happens. They will prepare not only for the worst but also the inevitable: a nuclear Iran. It will be only a matter of time before they start developing nuclear capabilities of their own, which will greatly enhance tensions in the region.
The result: More nuclear proliferation and a greater likelihood of war.
Second, the president doesn’t like to say it, but war as a post-deal option has not been taken off the table... Everyone knows the $150 billion windfall to Iran once the sanctions are lifted will be used to foment more terrorism and war.
Remember, it takes two to make peace, but only one to make war. Does anyone really believe that the Death to America crowd will suddenly turn into pacifists as a result of the agreement?
We actually do have fewer good options because of the deal, but that is only because Mr. Obama made it so. He allowed Russia and other countries to weaken the agreement. He failed to appreciate that their security and venal financial interests made them more willing to tolerate a nuclear Iran than we should be.

So when Secretary of State John F. Kerry says there is no good alternative to the deal, he is describing a predicament of his own making. He apparently wants the alternative to be as bad as possible in order to gain congressional approval.

But all he has really done is make it exceedingly difficult to keep sanctions on Iran, all the while unleashing a geopolitical nightmare on the Middle East. Not only is Iran practically guaranteed a nuclear weapon, it will be financially stronger as the new potential hegemon in the region.

The real choice is not between a weak deal and war, which is what Mr. Obama pretends. It is between a nuclear Iran and increased risks of war on one hand, and keeping the existing sanctions in place, which reduces the risk of war, on the other.

Maintaining a strong multilateral sanctions regime runs a far better chance of forcing change on Iran than lifting them. A top French official, Jacques Audibert, has told U.S. lawmakers that a congressional rejection of the deal would strengthen our negotiating position. He’s right.

Tehran ... was facing tremendous internal pressures because of the sanctions, which is why the mullahs wanted them lifted.

Now that pressure will be gone. The regime will be free to repress its people at will and use billions of dollars in sanctions-relief cash to spread mayhem across the Middle East. Worse than that, it can bide its time and break out of the agreement earlier if it wants. Or it can simply wait 15 years, long after Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry are gone.

The choice between a bad deal and war is a false one. First, it presumes that the deal will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. It will not. Second, it ignores the increased risk of war caused by the deal. And third, it disregards the importance of strategic patience in dealing with Iran.
There is another, less discussed aspect of the proposed arrangement. There is nothing in the deal to prevent, or even slow down, Iran's development of delivery platforms for their newly-acquired nukes.
Iran has sort-of promised it won’t build nuclear weapons, but even the promise has serious caveats: Iran can continue to build weapons platforms to deliver the non-existent weapons; it can cooperate with friendly countries to acquire enhancements to weapons delivery technology; and it can prevent entry to requested facilities by international inspectors for 24 days per request...

Based on the world’s experience with the efficacy of multinational inspection regimes and with Iran specifically, it would be wise to assume that the Islamic Republic will move (continue?) covertly to build nuclear warheads, perhaps just leaving out the nuclear fuel. Iran will likely begin testing rockets so that they will be able to release a future nuclear weapon securely at the right moment to get the right blast effect.

The rocket is as important as the nuclear weapon it carries.

Nuclear weapons don't go off if they plow into the ground, because as they disintegrate they can't achieve the necessary chain reaction; they must explode above ground at a fixed altitude

Allowing Iran to openly acquire ballistic missile technology can shorten the time from weapons acquisition to weapons use, increasing the relative nervousness of the neighbors -- not a recipe for stability. Israel will have to try to interdict and disrupt Iranian ballistic missile testing on an active and overt basis. Because Israeli is not a signatory to the Iran deal, it can expect to be censured by its allies and everyone else. But Israel will have no choice.
There are additional unintended consequences of the agreement.
The deal increases the chances of direct conventional warfare between Israel and an emboldened and wealthier Iran. It may come as a consequence of Israel’s “interdict and defeat” effort in Syria; too many Iranian missiles in the hands of Hizb’allah; the deployment of Iranian troops in Syria threatening Israel; a firefight in the Golan or southern Lebanon; or conflict on the high seas. The list is a long one.

And Israel is not the only country that views Iran with alarm. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will urgently step up their search for nuclear capability. Egypt has gone down this road before and the Saudis have been leaning on Pakistan for a bomb.  Neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia is inherently stable, and instability runs different scenarios. Saudi Arabia has IRBM delivery systems and F-15s that can be used to deliver a nuclear weapon. Egypt does not presently have the rockets, but it has a good nuclear science base that it gained in cooperation with different international partners. How viable its nuclear science pool is today is unclear; but in the 1980s Egypt was working with Iraq on the creation of plutonium fuel for weapons (at the Osirak reactor, among other locales) and was partnered with Argentina and perhaps others in building a version of the American Pershing II mobile nuclear missile. It is not unreasonable to think these programs or variants of them will in some way be revived.
Just to make things more complicated, Russia and China have long desired to expand their influence in the region. It is frightfully easy to conjure up scenarios where one or both of them partner with one or more of the countries in the region, greatly enhancing the chances of war. 
In the short term, the Saudis and Egyptians will need to rely on under-the-table relationships with Israel to resist pressure from Iran... Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States will be heavily exposed and at risk for some time.
Unintended consequences threaten European stability as well.
The U.S.-led deal leaves the Islamic Republic on the road to nuclear weapons capability... The cost of this, which we already are seeing, is further diminution of American power and influence in the Middle East as neither our Arab allies nor Israel believe we can protect them. This fuels Russian as well as Iranian ambitions. Europe, which needs oil from the Middle East, can consequently be expected to back away from NATO, encouraging Russian nibbling on the margins of Europe -- Estonia is already panicked. The Atlantic Alliance system and Pax Americana that emerged from the ashes of WWII will collapse.

In the face of that possibility, the U.S. -- whether in this administration or the next -- will find that it cannot stand aside. In some manner, however halting, the United States will have to agree to do what Israel by circumstance is being forced to do, namely move militarily to truncate Iran's nuclear program.
If one subscribes to this view - and I do - then war with Iran is an unavoidable consequence of this flawed agreement, either now or in the future. I for one would rather do it now, while Iran is still weakened by the sanctions, than in the future, when it has had the opportunity to further foment terrorism, strengthen its conventional military power, and quite possibly acquire nuclear weapons.

Doing so would not only address the inevitable now rather than later, it would have the added benefit of restoring some of America's stature lost over the last six years.


Old NFO said...

Israel won't let it happen... Just sayin... THEY will do the dirty work and we'll find out when there are bright lights over certain areas in Iran...

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Everyday I see more evidence the Lightbringer never left the religion of his youth. Death to Israel is his motivation. I'm surprised Mossad hasn't offed him.

CenTexTim said...

NFO - I hope to Hell you're right.

WSF - as a NCIS fan, all I can say is Go Ziva Go!