Tag Archives: Iran

Balanced Perspective on Iran Needed

One lesson in reading the news is that interpretation is always key.  The US Air Force put out a report assessing the threat of ballistic missiles from other countries.  Some Israeli news outlets have put out stories that refer to the part of the report that says “Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015. ”  Interestingly, YNet interprets this with the headline “Pentagon: Iran will soon have nuclear missiles capable of striking US.”  The report says nothing about Iran possessing nuclear warheads, but only about missile delivery systems.  There is also the fact that capability does not justify military action or its threat, at least according to international law. (See Article 2.4)  Nonetheless, the Israeli government is very sure that Iran is about to gain nuclear weapons and is threatening to attack Iran.  This is not to say that Iran should have nuclear weapons and is somehow an innocent victim, but balance seems fair.  For example, the report states

“Iran has ambitious ballistic missile and space launch development programs and continues to attempt to increase the range, lethality, and accuracy of its ballistic missile force”

To get a sense of how the US may appear to other countries, one need only look at the mission statement of the US Space Command, under the control of the US Air Force:

“Air Force Space Command, activated Sept. 1, 1982, is a major command with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. AFSPC provides military focused space and cyberspace capabilities with a global perspective to the joint warfighting team.”

Or to go into the history books, there was the 1997 report US Space Command put out that stated its “Vision for 2020″ to be

“dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment.  Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.”

As always, I would refer readers back to my post on Arab public opinion polls on who they see as threats.

What If Iran Had a Drone 18.5 miles off the US coast?

It was just released this evening that the US is claiming Iran attempted, but failed to shoot down a US drone, eliciting warnings to Iran.  One very quick but important observation: If Iran had a drone about 18.5 miles off the coast of the US, would we just let it be, since after all it would be in international waters?

The Under(and Over)Estimation of Catastrophe

Reuters has a piece today called “Are Israelis tough enough for a long war with Iran?” Some shocking points emerge out of it. One is the following quote from Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

“Defense Minister Ehud Barak estimates 500 Israelis would die should a strike on Iran, which denies seeking to develop nuclear weaponry, turn into a regional exchange of fire.”

I’m assuming that refers only to immediate military deaths, because if war broke out with Iran, Israel would likely face another war with Hezbollah, and attacks from Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups. Violence could spill over into Shiite Iraq.  It would be a boon to al-Qaeda like groups. So we’re talking about a lot more than 500 Israeli deaths. Of course, the deaths of non-Israelis would be disastrous as well, and probably far greater in number.

A second point that is Netanyahu sees a “second Holocaust” on the horizon. Does anyone really believe that Iran is going to be so suicidal as to drop a bomb on Israel so they can go down in flames but at least being able to claim they killed all the Jews? That’s certainly not how the military sees it, as evidenced by Defense Intelligence Agency Director General Ronald Burgess’ 2010 testimony before Congress: (see the conclusion)

Iran seeks to increase its regional power by countering Western influence, expanding ties with its neighbors, and seeking a leadership role in the Islamic world. Diplomacy, economic leverage, and active sponsorship of terrorist and paramilitary groups are the tools Iran uses to drive its aggressive foreign policy. Nevertheless, internal security remains the regime’s primary focus. While it is unlikely to initiate a conflict intentionally or launch a pre-emptive attack, Iran uses its military forces to defend against both external and internal threats. (Italics mine)

Whatever threat Iran may be, it is not a genocidal, maniacal state. It is certainly a dangerous one to its own people, sharing the company of most Middle Eastern states. What does the Middle Eastern public think of Iran’s nuclear ambitions? As I noted in an earlier blog post, a Brookings Institute poll of the Arab public found that 64% thought Iran had the right to pursue a nuclear program, even though a 35% plurality thought it would have a negative impact on the Middle East. When asked what two countries were the greatest threat, 71% said Israel, 59% said the US, while 18% said Iran.

Increasing the threat level is going to drive Arab opinion even further against Israel and in favor of Iran, ultimately leading to greater violence between Iran and the Arab World and Israel. Israel will not be safe as long as it continues to exist as a Spartan island. On this point, the same poll discussed above also showed 67% of the Arab public was ready for peace with Israel if it returned to the 1967 borders.

The real potential catastrophe is what will happen to the Middle East if Israel goes after Iran. While no one should want Iran to have a bomb, a second Holocaust is just fear mongering.

Romney Thinks He Can Stick it to the Arabs Better than Obama

A Romney aide said that a President Romney would “respect” Israel’s decision should it attack Iran to stop it from developing a nuclear weapon.  So the implied narrative seems to be “The world has abandoned Israel so we can abandon the UN charter and allow Israel to do what it pleases.  Israel only ever goes to war in self-defense, so we can just assume their motives are just.”

Romney also says the US should move its embassy to Jerusalem.  It is shameful what people will do when vying for votes.