September 17, 2004

Next Theatre of GWOT

It is likely too late to prevent North Korea from constructing nuclear warheads. The window of opportunity for that mission was open during the Clinton administration, and likely closed early this century.

Now another nation is on the verge of getting "the bomb" and there may or may not be any way to prevent it. This think tank report suggests that Iran will have fissile material in as little as two years: "Significant Uranium enrichment could begin at Natanz in 2006, and plutonium production could begin at Arak by 2010."

It is important to recognize a fundamental difference, however, between Iran and North Korea (DPRK). While both have been declared members of the "Axis of Evil," their governments adhere to different ideologies. The DPRK is ruled by communism under orders from a homicidal dictator, but the dictatorial regime of Iran is an Islamist theocracy that embraces not just homicide, but suicide, to achieve its demented aims. The threat of total nuclear annihilation may be enough to keep the DPRK in check, but Iran's aging mullahs might relish the thought of Israel and a few major US cities vaporizing in a mushroom cloud followed by their own exit into paradise through US ICBM retaliation.

Does anyone doubt that at the very least they'd "look the other way" while Hezbollah "stole" a few warheads? Iran is one of the places on earth where nuclear bombs just can't be tolerated by the free world.

So how do we prevent it? Diplomacy, diplomacy and more diplomacy. This will fail, of course. When no other option remains we can expect the Israelis to bomb Iran's nuke facilities like they did in Iraq almost 20 years ago. The question is, will the US aid or stand in the way of that effort? The answer to that question likely depends whether our president's name is Bush or Kerry.

Time is running out on our window of opportunity. According to, "The window of opportunity for disarming strikes against Iran will begin to close in 2005."

One wonders if this is what Dick Cheney had in mind when he said, "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

Posted by JohnGalt at September 17, 2004 08:21 AM

Wow, sure wish we'd had this info before we went into Iraq, seems that Iran is a much bigger threat. Oh yeah, we did.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 17, 2004 12:31 PM

Yup, that would have been great. A full frontal assault on Iran with a Baathist Iraq on one side and a fluid Afghanistan on the other. No U.N. resolutions or legal precedent, no sanctions -- just attack a (legal) trading partner of Germany, Russia and France.

I am appalled at this argument from the anti-war crowd: "we should've attacked somebody else!" Like they would all be on board.

We now have US Military presence on both sides of Iran and might soon have a functioning Free Republic to bolster the inchoate freedom movement inside Iran.

I'd love a muscular approach to this certified Axis-of-Evil member but the idea that we should have engaged Iran instead of Iraq is a canard.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2004 12:45 PM

I re-checked my post to see if I had called for an invasion of Iran, and nope, I didn't. I am still of the strong belief that attempting to fight terrorists by invading supporting states is a losing strategy.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 17, 2004 04:43 PM

Fair enough. I have heard some anti-war people say that we should have invaded North Korea or Saudi Arabia or Iran. Sorry if I threw you into that camp.

So, I'll retract that accusation but still believe strongly that surrounding Iran has been a very good idea. If our leaders are that smart, perhaps it has been the idea all along.

I expected Iraq to finish more quickly and perhaps embolden the Iranian students to overthrow the mad Mullahs. I'll concede that that looks over optimistic today.

You and I agree on UN corruption and fecklessness. Watch Claudia Rossett on a special this weekend on the UN Oil-for-food scandal. Another thing to watch for over the next few days, FOX reports on funds routed to al-Qaeda from the UN Oil-for-food program.

Both make the Iraq more look even more worthwhile to me. We did not invade a kite-flying utopia, as Michael Moore says; we invaded a despotic terrorism-funder who was ultimately a threat to our nation irrespective of what weapons were found or not.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2004 05:29 PM

What, no comment on my assertion that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nukes?

"Iran is a much bigger threat" [than Iraq] but we should not invade Iran. You must be in favor of the air-war strategy then. Even at that it will be far easier and more effective given that we control the territory on either side.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2004 08:29 PM

I'm a big fan of the "air war strategy" for taking out nuclear installations. These installations can be identified by satelite and spy planes and taken out with an airstrike. I am not really sure what rolling tanks across Iran would accomplish here.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 20, 2004 11:51 AM

WOW! US air strikes on sovereign Iranian soil?

I wouldn't complain, mind you. But I don't know that such a concept would go over to well with "the left." (Do you hug your wife with the arms that typed that?)

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2004 02:26 PM

Yup, same arms. I am no pacifist, I just believe that military intervention should be strategically effective. In this case an airstrike to knock out a nuclear weapons site is, occupying the entire country and rebuilding its government is not. I will break further from some of my lefty bretheren as well and endorse an offensive military strategy for the war on terrorism. We should be actively working to break up terror cells wherever they are, for those who believe in just fortifying our homeland I have one word - drugs. We have tried mightily for nearly 30 years to keep drugs our of our country without much luck, what makes you think we can keep terrorists out?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 21, 2004 02:34 PM

Hey, I like it! Preemptive strikes against a terrorist-sponsor state; military eratication of terrorists rather than police and the courts; refusal to rely upon 'fortress America' to protect us from terrorists. Before we know it Silence will have rejected ALL of Kerry's (apparent) policy positions.

As to the strategic effectiveness of airstrikes vs. boots on the ground, it depends upon the goal of your strategy. Briefly, the objective in Iran lends itself to airstrikes while Saddam would have lit his cigars on the flames of our smartbombs while watching dissidents be shredded alive as he chatted on the tele with Kofi about new ways to scam oil dollars for themselves and blame every evil in the world upon Americans.

No, Saddam was a special case. Imagine Hitler had surrendered once his armies had been defeated on all but sovereign German soil. He agreed to unconditional surrender, including assurances to never develop A-bombs or V2s with a range over 300 km. Hitler laughs all the way to the nuke lab and inches ever closer to functional nukes and ballistic missiles with intercontinental range about, let's say, eleven years later. Question: Do we take his word that he's clean despite his continuous saber rattling toward the allies and funding of militants who kill Jews in the newly created state of Israel?

How many ruthless, mass-murdering megalomaniacal tyrants do we need to witness before we learn how to reliably identify them somewhere short of armageddon?

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2004 08:40 PM
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