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The Israeli Threat
May 25, 2010 2:29 AM   Subscribe

"Immediately after an attack by Israel, and even with no Iranian response, the United States is likely to begin significant defensive deployments to the region. Its attempts over a period of a year to negotiate with the Iranians make the Obama Administration more vulnerable to domestic pressures to be strong in its reaction to an Israeli strike.

At an early stage after an Israeli attack, the United States would be faced with deciding whether to passively await casualties or to attack Iranian military capabilities on its own. The United States would probably decide to finish the job on Iranian nuclear facilities and destroy as much as possible of Iran’s capability to project combat power."
The Israeli Threat: An Analysis of the Consequences of an Israeli Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities [PDF].

By the Swedish Defence Research Agency.
posted by klue (127 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here we go again...
posted by Catblack at 3:11 AM on May 25, 2010


We'd downplay our involvement BP style, baby.

Meaning the administration would weasel word a denial and domestic media sources would cover their asses for as long as possible.
posted by clarknova at 3:14 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for that, I downloaded the PDF. Will be interesting to read it.
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:35 AM on May 25, 2010


aand even with no Iranian response, the United States is likely to begin significant defensive deployments to the region

"Even with no Iranian response" the United States has already deployed 150,000 soldiers and a trillion dollars of war material on one border of Iran, another 50,000 soldiers and a few hundred billion of war material on another border, and filled the Persian Gulf with U.S. warships.

If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.
posted by three blind mice at 3:37 AM on May 25, 2010 [14 favorites]


If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.

What is coming? Is the United States going to take over Iran, rape the women, enslave the men, drain the oil, and lay waste the cities? Is the United States going to abolish Islam, force Iranian women to wear in bikinis, forcibly shave the men's beards, and stuff the populace into clapboard protestant churches on Sunday, where they'll have to tithe and sing "Rock of Ages"? Are U.S. troops going to kidnap Iranian children, force Happy Meals down their throats, and pump them up to the obese dimensions of American children, then sit back and laugh at their puny attempts at walking and growing rates of diabetes? Is the U.S. going to force Iranian teenagers to waste their youths wiggling joysticks and blasting zombies, and throw muezzins off the tops of minarets and replace them with rap singers? What terrible fate does the United States have in store for Iran, that the Iranians shouldn't simply lay down their arms and allow the U.S. and Israeli troops to enter? Whatever the Iranians fear from the U.S. and Israel, is it worth risking nuclear war to prevent?
posted by Faze at 3:58 AM on May 25, 2010 [19 favorites]


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war. Even though they've quietly endured Afghanistan and Iraq so far, I don't think that Americans would re-elect any hawks that launched a new venture into Iran when the US military can hardly support the weight of its current engagements.
posted by CRM114 at 4:02 AM on May 25, 2010


"Even with no Iranian response" the United States has already deployed 150,000 soldiers and a trillion dollars of war material on one border of Iran, another 50,000 soldiers and a few hundred billion of war material on another border, and filled the Persian Gulf with U.S. warships.

If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.


Illustrative map

Nukes 'politically retarded' says Ahmadinejad

Iran's Supreme Leader: 'Using Nuclear Weapons is un-Islamic'

Nice to see we've learnt the lessons of Iraq and aren't going to rush headlong into a war on dubious pretences.

Also, if anyone is a pariah state it should be the state that secretly developed nuclear weapons, allegedly offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa, has regularly ignored UN resolutions, and has engaged in assassination campaigns in many countries around the world (often without the consent or knowledge of the sovereign government of those territories).

I'm depressed.
posted by knapah at 4:06 AM on May 25, 2010 [18 favorites]


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

Actually, a war would probably go quite well, giving the populace something to focus on besides the crappy economy, while thrilling in American military might and getting to kick the crap outta somebody.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

Wow, really? Because for me the main lesson of the Iraq debacle and its political aftermath is that it would be *easy as pie* to convince the U.S. public to start dropping bombs on another Islamic country.
posted by mediareport at 4:19 AM on May 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Iran has the right, by treaty, to enrich uranium. Part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, to which both we and Iran are signatory, expressly states that countries retain the 'inalienable right' to pursue uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. Inalienable is about as strong as language gets. Now, we may think they're building a bomb, but an enrichment program is most emphatically in-bounds, by prior and very explicit agreement.

The real problem here is that those poor bastards had the bad luck to be born on top of our oil. Then, they had the temerity to refuse to play ball with us after we toppled their democratically-elected government and installed a dictator that makes the present government, as horrible as it is, look nearly tame.

I've seen it said that if Israel directly attacks Iran, it will be the start of World War 3.
posted by Malor at 4:24 AM on May 25, 2010 [22 favorites]


Meanwhile back at the ranch, I'm busy awarding contracts to increase our food production capacity (combat rations) in preparation for not one, not two, but three theater war.
posted by fixedgear at 4:24 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


On page 25 of the report,
"Iranian command and control computer and radar systems will be shut down by cyber-attacks"

Surely, all these sensitive systems aren't connected to the Net. Are they?
posted by Gyan at 4:24 AM on May 25, 2010


Gyan, no need for that, see here (and there for an actual use of the technology)
tl,dr: air defenses can be hacked from planes.
posted by vivelame at 4:37 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


vivelame: The 'Suter' tech accounts for fooling and commandeering the radar, but what about the CnC systems part?
posted by Gyan at 4:50 AM on May 25, 2010


Gyan, Command & Control, by definition, needs some kind of networking, and are most probably linked to radars and various air defense systems (to, at a bare minimum, know where the fuck those planes are, where they're going, and so on). I'd figure once you have control of one element of that network, it's just a matter of time and having the right exploits before you're in control of most/all of it.
posted by vivelame at 4:56 AM on May 25, 2010


Once you know about Suter, surely it would be relatively easy to develop some form of countermeasures? No?

As an aside, the Suter stuff makes me think of the Cylon raiders hacking Vipers etc in Battlestar...
posted by knapah at 5:00 AM on May 25, 2010


So most Americans don't have the appetite for another war, but they seem to support preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran.
posted by Ickster at 5:04 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


As an aside, it doesn't even have to be hacked form a plane. The chinese seems to be able to do that with Special Forces, what makes you think the US aren't?
posted by vivelame at 5:04 AM on May 25, 2010


So most Americans don't have the appetite for another war, but they seem to support preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran.

"Nuke 'em till they glow so we can shoot 'em in the dark" is the new "drill, baby, drill".
posted by acb at 5:08 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once you know about Suter, surely it would be relatively easy to develop some form of countermeasures? No?
I have no idea if countermeasures have been developped or deployed. But knowing the existence of a (or more) vulnerability somewhere in your system doesn't mean you:
- will find it
- can patch it without making major change to the way your systems work.
posted by vivelame at 5:08 AM on May 25, 2010


We're overextended as it is. And Iran is four times larger than Iraq with more than twice the population.

We're not invading Iran any time soon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:14 AM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie, yeah, no invasion. Mass bombing, though..
posted by vivelame at 5:15 AM on May 25, 2010


In 1953 the U.S. (including Norman Schwarzkopf's father) helped arrange the downfall of Iran's elected government out of a sense of duty to British oil interests.

The modern-day name of the primary interest? British Petroleum.
posted by bardic at 5:18 AM on May 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Regarding the media angle, that clarknova speculated upon, the analysis expects that
"[two weeks after the initial attack] the sense that Israel was the bad guy in the situation would begin to fade. Images of damaged Israeli houses with frantic rescue workers searching the rubble would be repeated and familiar. CNN coverage of Israeli schoolchildren in bomb shelters would present Israel as a victim and not the aggressor. The images of students in Tehran demonstrating would reinforce the cause against Iran as a just one. Iran would have become the bad guy" (page 43).
posted by klue at 5:35 AM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.

Problem is, a few Little Boy bombs don't make that much of a deterrent to a large military trained to fight in NBC conditions... but they make one hell of a provocation. Unless Iran has multistage designs ready to go.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:46 AM on May 25, 2010


"Even with no Iranian response" the United States has already deployed 150,000 soldiers and a trillion dollars of war material on one border of Iran, another 50,000 soldiers and a few hundred billion of war material on another border, and filled the Persian Gulf with U.S. warships.

Stratfor makes a fairly compelling argument that we are in Iraq primarily because of extensive long-term efforts on the part of Iranian intelligence*.

I get that we would rather not see Iran acquire The Bomb, but it is hard to get excited about attacking Iran when Pakistan has one of their own.

*yeah it did occur to me that Stratfor could be acting, wittingly or unwittingly, on Iran's behalf, but lets keep things simple for now.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:47 AM on May 25, 2010


tl;dr. Are we fucked?
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:53 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

I don't think the public's appetite has much of any bearing on the decision-making process of warmongers. The Cheney Administration had its mind made up to overthrow Saddam even before they took office. All they had to do was emit a cloud of lies, and enough of the public either jumped right onto the bandwagon, or stood aside rubbing their chins and saying, "I don't know," and the deed was done. Witness the current totally brainless hysteria over immigrants, and the inescapable conclusion is that things haven't changed much.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:27 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This whole thing is about the illegitimate Israeli nuclear arsenal and their willingness to go to any lengths not to have to discuss it. Having an Iranian deterrent will force a more honest discussion on nuclear arms in the middle east. What's going on now is a sham.
posted by Xurando at 6:36 AM on May 25, 2010


If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.

It's not much of a deterrent if it can't hit the United States (even with North Korea's help).
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:37 AM on May 25, 2010


What is coming? Is the United States going to take over Iran, rape the women, enslave the men, drain the oil, and lay waste the cities? Is the United States going to abolish Islam, force Iranian women to wear in bikinis, forcibly shave the men's beards, and stuff the populace into clapboard protestant churches on Sunday, where they'll have to tithe and sing "Rock of Ages"? Are U.S. troops going to kidnap Iranian children, force Happy Meals down their throats, and pump them up to the obese dimensions of American children, then sit back and laugh at their puny attempts at walking and growing rates of diabetes? Is the U.S. going to force Iranian teenagers to waste their youths wiggling joysticks and blasting zombies, and throw muezzins off the tops of minarets and replace them with rap singers?

Somebody's channeling the wildest wet dream fantasies of the dittohead/teabag demographic.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 6:45 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Faze: What terrible fate does the United States have in store for Iran, that the Iranians shouldn't simply lay down their arms and allow the U.S. and Israeli troops to enter?

One need only cast a glance over to Gaza or the West Bank or Iraq (or formerly Lebanon) to see what American and Israeli occupation means.

Moreover, it is unreasonable to expect any nation to simply lay down their arms and allow enemy soldiers to walk in unmolested. When Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, the Iranians sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the front lines in massed human-wave attacks. These are the people you expect to lay down and let the Americans and Israelis walk in? Not in a million years brother.

So unless Obama can pull the plug on the war-planners, there are 96,381 to 105,117 fates in store for Iran. Plus the destruction of their electricity net, their water and sewage treatment plants, their bridges, communication networks, and every other piece of modern infrastructure - isn't this what happens to Middle Eastern countries attacked by America and Israel?

How many tens of thousands of Iraqi children died as a result of the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure in the 1st gulf war and then 8 years of sanctions before being invaded again with a whole new body count?

I think the Iranians well-understand how they would be treated - which is why they want, need, and frankly deserve a nuclear deterrent. Give it a nice friendly name like Peacekeeper and no one's offended.

Peace through strength - isn't that what Reagan said?
posted by three blind mice at 6:46 AM on May 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's not much of a deterrent if it can't hit the United States

It only has to reach Tel Aviv for the United States to be held in check. Once that happens Israeli lobbyists have a different mission: to prevent a war instead of to start one.

I like the idea of lobbying for peace. It would be a welcome change.
posted by three blind mice at 6:51 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's not much of a deterrent if it can't hit the United States (even with North Korea's help)."

Good thing boats and air planes are unable to reach the US from Iran.
posted by Mitheral at 7:10 AM on May 25, 2010


a lot of speculation here but this is what pres Obama is actually doing on the sly

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/25military.html?hp
posted by Postroad at 7:14 AM on May 25, 2010


they want, need, and frankly deserve a nuclear deterrent.

It only has to reach Tel Aviv for the United States to be held in check.


wow. just... wow. There are about one million things wrong with that... the regional arms race, the fact that it wouldn't be the Noble Iranian People who have The Bomb, it would be the fucking Revolutionary Guards, who are terrible. The whole CONCEPT of a nation "deserving" or "needing" nuclear bombs. I could go on.

But the biggest point is, if you had RTFA, you would see that Israel would never tolerate it. Even to miniaturize a Bomb enough to fit on one of their current delivery system is a long, long way away. Before that, Israel steps in and the shit hits the fan.

Hundreds of thousands of people would die, entirely needlessly. I say needlessly, because without the threat of nuclear weapons, there would be no chance of a war with Iran.

But yeah, they want, need and deserve nuclear bombs.

good god.
posted by ScotchRox at 7:24 AM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]



I've seen it said that if Israel directly attacks Iran, it will be the start of World War 3.


WW3 is already well underway.

Good thing boats and air planes are unable to reach the US from Iran.

Yeah the Iranians will just whistle past our huge naval with nuclear armed ships. Or they could just load the nukes on commercial airlines because they HATE OUR FREEDOMS so much that they are willing to have their country destroyed to score some kind of symbolic victory.

Get a grip.
posted by Max Power at 7:30 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously from Sam Gardiner: The Truth From These Podia - an analysis of how easy it was to start a war and how the media and the public were totally owned in the process
posted by warbaby at 7:32 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


ScotchRox: But yeah, they want, need and deserve nuclear bombs.

OK ScotchRox. All you say is true. Now tell me why Israel so badly wants its nukes?

I say needlessly, because without the threat of nuclear weapons, there would be no chance of a war with Iran.

So Iran accepts a permanent subordinate status to Israel you mean? If instead of attacking Iran as this paper proposes, Israel would offer a bi-lateral nuclear disarmament I suspect that a deal would not be difficult to reach and both countries would enjoy the benefits Israel now says Iran will enjoy if it gives up its nuclear ambitions.

The status quo is unbalanced. This is what threatens war. If both sides were equally armed / equally disarmed there'd be more negotiation and less hectoring.

I say go for disarmament. This is what the NPT calls for and the only solution that makes sense.
posted by three blind mice at 7:45 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


knapah: does anyone have a version of that map, zoomed out, without Iran in the center? The cropping is highly rhetorical.
posted by honest knave at 7:46 AM on May 25, 2010


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

It's hard to gauge what public reaction would be, such as it is (filtered through the MSM, etc.). The last time we had a Democratic president in office, though, the Republicans screamed bloody murder about Clinton's military adventurism, lost treasure, and unnecessary entanglements.

That would be a nice hat trick this time around because the same group of clowns has been goading Obama since before he was elected to man up and do what needs to be done with regard to those evil mullahs in Tehran.
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 AM on May 25, 2010


Now tell me why Israel so badly wants its nukes?

Irrelevant. If you had asked me before Israel acquired nuclear weapons, I would have said that was a bad idea too. We're talking about how Iran acquiring nuclear weapons would destabilize the region (more so).

Also, of course, Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, and has never publicly acknowledged having nukes. A deliberate strategy. Of course, that strategy did precisely nothing to stop Egypt, Syria et al. from the surprise attack that launched the Yom Kippur War.

So Iran accepts a permanent subordinate status to Israel you mean?

What on earth does this mean? some sort of wounded national pride? "They have nukes but we don't"? To the extent that Iran is "subordinate" to Israel -- and the only extent I can think of is economically -- it's because the U.S. still misses the Shah and refuses to deal with Iran.

I'm no big fan of Israel, but I don't know what they want from Iran beyond 1) don't threaten us with nukes 2) stop funding Hezbollah's proxy war. Even #2 is not going to spark an all-out war.

Israel would offer a bi-lateral nuclear disarmament

That would be nice. I would also like a pony, please.

This is what threatens war. If both sides were equally armed / equally disarmed there'd be more negotiation

This is so incorrect I don't even know what to say. It's like, "not even wrong."

Calling it "both sides" ignores a lot of complicated regional politics, of course. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran -- They all have different interests. Pretty much everyone would be better off without a nuclear Iran except the last two.

And if "both sides" means "Israel vs. Everyone Else," then if "both sides were equally armed," Israel would not exist anymore. Because "Everyone Else" would have ganged up and destroyed Israel. Like they tried to. Twice.

NB: Again, I am not actually particularly pro-Israel. I just cannot STAND this level of ignorance. Especially when we're in two wars in the region, for christsake
posted by ScotchRox at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


knapah: does anyone have a version of that map, zoomed out, without Iran in the center? The cropping is highly rhetorical.

Well, there is this one, or this one, or this one or even this one (airbases that the US can use).

The reason it is centred on Iran is to illustrate why Iran are perhaps concerned about their security, especially given their history of dealing with the West.

As a bonus, here is Netanyahu seeking the moral high ground.
posted by knapah at 8:51 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, why do 'we' call Iran a fundamentalist Islamic state then ignore their declarations of nuclear weapons as unIslamic?)
posted by knapah at 8:54 AM on May 25, 2010


israel (when supported by the US) is the biggest threat to world peace.

any article outlining that is important.

so, thanks.
posted by Substrata at 8:54 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

All it would take is another 9/11.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2010


Iranian security forces will confront any "illegal" demonstrations on the June 12 anniversary of last year's disputed election, Tehran's police chief was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on May 25, 2010


Likely scenario: The USAF and Navy launch cruise missiles, fly 100s of bombing sorties, and kind of put a pretty big dent in both Iran's advanced assembly facilities and its air force. Iran would probably shoot down dozens of US jets, sink a cruiser or two, and threaten to invade Iraq. Your guess is as good as any as to what would happen next.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on May 25, 2010


I don't think the majority of the American public has the appetite for yet another war.

Unless things change drastically, the majority of the American public won't be directly affected by the war. If the war upsets their appetite, they can just switch channels and watch something else.
posted by Uncle Chaos at 9:30 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even with no Iranian response" the United States has already deployed 150,000 soldiers and a trillion dollars of war material on one border of Iran, another 50,000 soldiers and a few hundred billion of war material on another border, and filled the Persian Gulf with U.S. warships.
If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.


By the way, this is more or less the same reason the North Koreans rationally feel they need to develop nukes and missiles. The NK-centered military map looks the same as the ones showing Iran surrounded by US bases, except that in their case there's not one but three major powers surrounding them (Russia, China, US), plus the significant SK military.
posted by beagle at 9:58 AM on May 25, 2010


It only has to reach Tel Aviv for the United States to be held in check. Once that happens Israeli lobbyists have a different mission: to prevent a war instead of to start one.

Israeli psychology suggests this is unlikely. Israel's overriding goal since it was founded has been survival. Remember that the country was founded in the aftermath of an attempted Jewish genocide. Their foreign policies reflect this.

So Iran gets nukes. Israel wouldn't want to prevent a war. They'd want to carpet bomb any potential threat out of existence, and a nuclear Iran will provide them with an excuse to do so.
posted by zarq at 10:02 AM on May 25, 2010


Nukes 'politically retarded' says Ahmadinejad

Iran's Supreme Leader: 'Using Nuclear Weapons is un-Islamic'


Financing terrorism is also un-Islamic. Hasn't stopped the Saudis from doing so.

Nice to see we've learnt the lessons of Iraq and aren't going to rush headlong into a war on dubious pretences.

Iran has a documented history of IAEA violations and noncompliance. Taking them at their word regarding weapons of mass destruction without oversight would be extremely stupid.
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah the Iranians will just whistle past our huge naval with nuclear armed ships.

We're safe, then - that would surely set off the tickle reflex.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:16 AM on May 25, 2010


Iran's Supreme Leader: 'Using Nuclear Weapons is un-Islamic'

I think that nation-states and individuals rarely if ever let religion dictate their actions in a consistent and coherent way. They use religion to their further their own ends, and they pick the bits that are convenient and toss out or ignore the rest. So a statement like this seems completely meaningless.

If I was an Iranian, I'd be spinning centrifuges as fast as I could. Only a nuclear deterrent can keep the peace and stop what is coming.

This. I think the Iranian leadership is Bad News, and they love to lie about their regional involvement, but I sure don't blame them if they don't trust our intentions in the region. Hell, I don't even trust our intentions.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:38 AM on May 25, 2010


Staying out of this.

Staying out of this.

Staying out of this.
posted by yiftach at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Leaving aside the fact that Obama is theoretically not Bush, and less prone to start random wars, if only because a significant part of his support is liberal and likely to get very upset:

WE DON'T HAVE ANY MORE TROOPS.

WE DON'T HAVE ANY MORE TROOPS.

WE DON'T HAVE ANY MORE TROOPS.

Really, we don't. Our armed forces were stretched to the breaking point during the Bush years- we were calling up National Guardsmen, letting in gang members, recalling troops who had already served their time, etc. And all that was before Obama's pointless escalation in Afghanistan.

Really, we don't have any more guys. The only way forward would be a draft, and then Obama turns into LBJ real quick.*

* except LBJ actually did good stuff for poor people at home while he was fucking up overseas
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2010


(Well, I guess we could send a special all-gay force. I heard Obama is ready to compromise on DADT, after hearing 80% of the public is in favor of repeal. Truly, his moral courage would make MLK and Gandhi proud.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:55 AM on May 25, 2010


drjimmy11: "WE DON'T HAVE ANY MORE TROOPS.
"

We have all kinds of troops. They're just not troops yet, they're called unemployed young men aged 18-24.
posted by mullingitover at 10:57 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whatever the Iranians fear from the U.S. and Israel, is it worth risking nuclear war to prevent?

Why are they even being placed in a position where they need to worry about shit like this? What would the US or Israel do if they were in Iran's shoes? I am pretty fucking certain they wouldn't sit on their hands.
posted by chunking express at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2010


Also, between Israel, Iran, and the US, one country doesn't have nuclear weapons. How exactly is Iran going to start a Nuclear war.
posted by chunking express at 11:03 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is coming? Is the United States USSR going to take over Iran America, rape the women, enslave the men, drain the oil, and lay waste the cities? Is the United States USSR going to abolish Islam capitalism, force Iranian American women to wear in bikinis fur hats, forcibly shave the men's beards, and stuff the populace into clapboard protestant churches on Sunday party meetings, where they'll have to tithe and sing "Rock of Ages" Gimn Sovyetskogo Soyuza? Are U.S. Soviet troops going to kidnap Iranian American children, force Happy Meals borscht down their throats...

...is it worth risking nuclear war to prevent?


funny you should ask...
posted by 7segment at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


drjimmy11, if we are to believe the scenario in TFA, it does not matter what the US wants to do, as they'll have no choice but to enter the conflict once Israel decides it's in their self-interest to strike against Iran. At that point, engaging Iran (pre-emptively) will be the most reasonable, if you will, cause of action for a sitting US president. That is the scary part.
posted by klue at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2010


Iran has a documented history of IAEA violations and noncompliance. Taking them at their word regarding weapons of mass destruction without oversight would be extremely stupid.

Israel don't even allow the IAEA to inspect their facilities. They also don't comply with UN resolutions. Neither country is guilt-free here.

I think that nation-states and individuals rarely if ever let religion dictate their actions in a consistent and coherent way. They use religion to their further their own ends, and they pick the bits that are convenient and toss out or ignore the rest. So a statement like this seems completely meaningless.

My point was that on the one hand we hear that Iran is an Islamic fundamentalist state that will do anything to further Islam (and is therefore irrationally going to nuke Israel), while on the other we ignore their Supreme Leader saying that nuclear weapons are against Islam. We can't have it both ways.
posted by knapah at 11:30 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Yeah the Iranians will just whistle past our huge naval with nuclear armed ships. Or they could just load the nukes on commercial airlines because they HATE OUR FREEDOMS so much that they are willing to have their country destroyed to score some kind of symbolic victory. "Get a grip."

The war on some drugs has amply demonstrated that current border defences are a sieve and they don't actually have to penetrate those defences anyways, just get to within their current missile range. Symbolic gesture before complete annihilation is pretty well the thinking behind MAD.
posted by Mitheral at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2010


Max Power: WW3 is already well underway.

Well, you could be right, but it's still quite possible for us to exit and tamp things back down. Nobody is being really aggressive with us, on the world stage, so it's still well under our control. As long as we don't escalate further, I see no reason to expect a serious shooting war.

If, however, we get into war as a way of life, which is entirely likely, then yes, we are in the beginning of WW3.

I'm no expert on geopolitics, so take this as the layman's opinion it is, but I see two real flash points, both involving Iran. One is if the Israelis attack; they're so hated, worldwide, that that alone could trigger terrible repercussions all over the Middle East, and things could very rapidly get out of our control. If the Middle East really and truly decides that we're not welcome there, instead of being kind of mixed and indifferent and using us for their own ends, I suspect we'll probably lose. We simply don't have the manpower to subdue the entire place, at least short of genocide, which I don't think we're likely to go for. We'd have to have a Palin as president for that to become an option.

The second is us invading Iran, as opposed to just airstriking it. First, to all accounts, Iran will not be a pushover. Second, I cannot for the life of me imagine China and Russia allowing us to get boots on the ground over, what, 80% of the world's oil supplies? From a global energy perspective, an actual invasion would seem to force a major response, possibly militarized, on their part. We're already buddy-buddy with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, we've invaded Iraq, we've invaded Afghanistan (which is an important territory for a big oil pipeline), and if we put real boots on the ground in Iran, that's almost the last independent source of oil. And the Resource Wars will, I think, be well and truly begun.

I'm trying to imagine a world where we've invaded Iran, but Russia and China aren't deeply involved, and I just don't see it. Further, China has us by the balls with our debt position being what it is, and if they decide our actions are a serious threat to them, they can make it very expensive for us to borrow, forcing us into fullscale money-printing. That's going to happen anyway, from our foolish fiscal "policy", if you can even call it that, but they can force it to start much sooner. Once that happens, the economy will spiral into the drain surprisingly quickly. We will very rapidly discover that running that gigantic war machine is appallingly expensive; there's no way we'll be able to fight three wars at once. The massive inflation required to pretend to fund it will rapidly wreck the home economy.

Is our government smart enough to realize that our incredibly bad debt position means we can't do anything that China considers a serious threat? I'm not sure. I suspect Bush and Cheney weren't. Obama's got the brains to figure it out, but I'm not sure if he actually has.

And note: yes, I understand that China's economy will also be badly hurt if they start dumping dollars instead of absorbing them, but they're not running a massive deficit, and they can dump those dollars in ways that support their local industries. They have over a trillion dollars in dollar-denominated assets, and that is a serious cushion for dealing with the pain of not selling us trainloads of crap anymore. Meanwhile, we have no cushion at all, being so deeply in debt, and would face the triple whammy of a sudden scarcity of cheap goods, a plunging dollar, and a government in total fiscal disarray. China will be hurt, but that's probably getting to mortal wound level for the US.

They won't do that unless they feel threatened enough, but if I were one of China's leaders, an invasion of Iran would qualify.
posted by Malor at 12:10 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what would be awesome? Counterfeit nuclear weapons. Really, really good ones, that looked, smelled, sounded, and responded exactly like a real bomb, but wouldn't actually go off when someone attempted to detonate it.

That way we could "lose" a bunch of them, and all these groups scrambling to make their own could buy them up on the black market. Countries could use them for their totemic defense value, and if some terrorist cell every tried to use one, we'd be able to trace-back and see exactly who was an asshole that couldn't play nice.

Pity it doesn't work that way.
posted by quin at 12:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Israel don't even allow the IAEA to inspect their facilities. They also don't comply with UN resolutions. Neither country is guilt-free here.

I agree.

That does not refute my point: we cannot and should not trust Iran's stated intentions with regard to nuclear weapons.

My point was that on the one hand we hear that Iran is an Islamic fundamentalist state

I did say this.

that will do anything to further Islam

I did not say this. I do not believe this is so.

(and is therefore irrationally going to nuke Israel),

I am concerned about this, especially in light of Ahmadinejad's repeated statements about wiping Israel off the map, and Khameini's repeated rhetoric regarding Israel as oppressor and illegal occupier of land that he claims is rightfully Palestinian. Note that Israel and Zionism are vilified, but the British and the UN are hardly ever referenced in his speeches.

while on the other we ignore their Supreme Leader saying that nuclear weapons are against Islam. We can't have it both ways.

Sure we can. You see, he's lied before. About the Holocaust. About Israel's and America's intentions in the Middle East. About a mythical Zionist conspiracy and the Danish cartoons of Mohammed.
posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Iran can close off the Strait of Hormuz and then we'd be pretty much fucked in terms of getting our precious oil, yes?

I don't know what to make out of this, but for to say the Israeli gov't sometimes reminds me of W./Cheney, and that's pretty damn scary.
posted by angrycat at 12:17 PM on May 25, 2010


What is coming? Is the United States going to take over Iran, rape the women, enslave the men, drain the oil, and lay waste the cities?

Pretty reasonable summary of the invasion of Iraq.
posted by rodgerd at 12:27 PM on May 25, 2010


What is coming? Is the United States going to take over Iran, rape the women, enslave the men, drain the oil, and lay waste the cities?

Pretty reasonable summary of the invasion of Iraq.


We enslaved Iraqi men?
posted by zarq at 12:30 PM on May 25, 2010


I am concerned about this, especially in light of Ahmadinejad's repeated statements about wiping Israel off the map, and Khameini's repeated rhetoric regarding Israel as oppressor and illegal occupier of land that he claims is rightfully Palestinian. Note that Israel and Zionism are vilified, but the British and the UN are hardly ever referenced in his speeches.

It's my understanding that that was a very serious mistranslation, perhaps deliberate. I read a post by an Arabic speaker that claimed a proper translation was much less aggressive. I'm not sure of the source anymore, so I don't know how credible this is, but that native speaker said that a closer translation would be that Israel would eventually pass from the earth in the fullness of time. It was much more passive-tense. It was sort of a vague prediction, a poetic-style thought, rather than a direct threat of action. From appearances, it's roughly equivalent to the fundamentalists praying for Obama to die.

Arabic, to my VERY limited understanding, is an extremely poetic and roundabout language, and it's very easy to twist intended meanings by wrongly using either literal or figurative translations when the opposite was intended. It's hard to translate back and forth between those languages, because they come from such different roots.

And I truly don't trust our media anymore to give us the real truth; they repeat what the government says, without doing much fact checking, and no actual thinking at all.
posted by Malor at 12:31 PM on May 25, 2010


zarq: "We enslaved Iraqi men?"

In the BDSM sense at Abu Ghraib, yes. But 'we' isn't accurate, for example I had little to do with it other than having my tax dollars allocated for this task without my consent.
posted by mullingitover at 12:36 PM on May 25, 2010


It's my understanding that that was a very serious mistranslation, perhaps deliberate. I read a post by an Arabic speaker that claimed a proper translation was much less aggressive.

The only person I ever saw discuss the translation in those terms was Professor Juan Cole, and since he's spent the last few years doing his utmost to attack Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians, I'm not inclined to believe him without additional, objective sourcing. If you have a source without an axe to grind, I'd be interested in reading it.
posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iran knows from bitter experience, what being weak means. It means being fucked over by greater powers, over and over again. They didn't have nuclear weapons - and what happened? They had the U.S. and Britain impose the Shah upon them - they couldn't even control their own oil resources. Being weak, has meant being attacked, either directly or by proxy (U.S. supporting Saddam with weapons and military intelligence in a vicious aggressive war against Iran). Being weak, means that a country like the U.S. can infiltrate agents into your country for military operations. Being weak, means a country like the U.S. can openly speak about overthrowing your government, and follow that with money and infrastructure support for your domestic opponents - all done quite openly. Being weak, means you are never fully sovereign, it means you are forever at the mercy of the whims of great powers - and their demanding that you not have nuclear weapons simply means they demand that you be subservient to them, and weak forever.

Do all these things happen because the Iranians had nuclear weapons, and oh, if only the Iranians weren't such bad, bad people, nothing would happen? No - it all happened when Iran has had NO nuclear weapons. It was the cause, not the consequence. Iran supports "terrorism", so they must be punished. Of course, it's "terrorism" when Iran claims "liberation of Palestine", not when we fund and help terrorist organizations that explode murderous bombs in Tehran - we call that supporting freedom and liberation too. Only what's the excuse for imposing the Shah, when Iran had no ties to "terrorism"? "Terrorism" or "Nuclear Weapons" or "Wrong Regime" is merely the excuse - because the aggression has continued regardless of the presence or absence of any of these proffered excuses. Iran has not initiated a single aggressive war against any country for at least the last 150 years. The U.S. has waged wars of aggression, or projected their military power in other countries pretty much non-stop for the past 120 years without let up. Yet, the Iranians are the big threat that needs to be attacked. Note - not the U.S. being attacked by Iran. The talk is about the U.S. attacking Iran. Because Iran must be weak forever, and deprived of the very weapons we wink at Israel for having.

Unless the Iranians are sub human and love freedom less than us full humans here in the West, it is a given that they will never agree to being perpetually subject to this aggression - after all, we wouldn't if we were in their position. Are they any less human than we are? So expect them to do absolutely everything they can to assert their own sovereignty. Nuclear weapons might be useful, even if they can only be smuggled out and into other countries. If the U.S. cannot control the borders between Iran and Iraq or Syria with most of our military already there, why would that present a problem for smuggling a few bombs? As for the Mexican border, as the old joke goes, just wrap the bomb in a bale of marijuana and it'll cross the border just fine. You can then place the bomb in the location of your choice, no need to complicate things with rockets and reach and aiming. After all, if the Iranians are smart, they'll take their sweet time - years and years and years, and the more time is available, there more the chances of success rise. And why should the Iranians be in a hurry? If I were them, I'd say: sure, you can bomb us, but we reserve the right to our response being measured in decades, and in ways we will choose at our leisure... we are limited neither by time nor by what our response shall be - you can only be sure that you will pay very dearly indeed.

You cannot stop technology. You cannot bomb knowledge away. Time is on the side of Iran - if we attack them. Why? Because nuclear weapons are hardly the only or even best option for Iran. There are much richer possibilities in biological weapons of mass destruction. Small anonymous labs can be much more easily hidden. The technological obstacles to genetic research are tiny compared to nuclear, and much more easily mastered. It's hard to defend against, it's easy to smuggle and deploy, it can be absolutely devastating and it's hard to pin the blame. I'm sure, that a desperate people, pressed against the wall, have the patience and ingenuity to find a deadly way to respond.

You reap what you sow.

Of course, there's another way - stop interfering in other countries affairs. Offer trade and friendship and peace, and watch the inevitable march of history, economic realities, thirst for freedom and justice - transform Iran from the social-developmentally semi-feudal society it is today, into a democracy and equal partners of tomorrow (just as so many of our present allies are, after their own terrible pasts). But that would be too easy, and in fact wrong, when there is so much more money to be made - at least short term - by the few, from weapons and oil.
posted by VikingSword at 12:41 PM on May 25, 2010 [16 favorites]


A quick google search turned up this article from the NY Times, which quotes Professor Cole and the Guardian's Jonathan Steele, who posted a follow-up piece on the subject.

Interesting.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on May 25, 2010


Oh, I missed this:

zarq: Iran has a documented history of IAEA violations and noncompliance. Taking them at their word regarding weapons of mass destruction without oversight would be extremely stupid.

So do we, in the sense that we've used members of IAEA teams multiple times in the past to plant spying devices and generally act in a pretty loathsome way. From what I can see, if you have any sense of sovereignty at all, and don't want to be spied on, you'd be very foolish to let the IAEA into your country.

It honestly wouldn't shock me if they actually are trying for nuclear weapons, but they have every right to do what they've been doing so far. We don't have proof, and we've signed a treaty that says they can enrich uranium. There is no casus belli here.

Further, I'm not sure it's that big an issue. They know they can't use them except in defense, and it's not like they've ever been aggressive toward their neighbors. The war with Iraq was initiated by Saddam, not by them. And the hostage crisis, thirty years ago, was the last significant conflict we've had directly.

I think the REAL issue is that if they develop nuclear weapons, they will forever retain control of our oil reserves, so inconveniently placed underneath their country. Also important is the fact that we'd no longer have the ability to hit them freely without them being able to hit back.

I don't see either of those outcomes as being all that awful.
posted by Malor at 12:53 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the REAL issue is that if they develop nuclear weapons, they will forever retain control of our oil reserves, so inconveniently placed underneath their country.

Yeah, Venezuela seems to be having this problem too. Everything was fine until Chavez nationalized the oil fields. Now they are number 4 in the "Axis of Evil."
posted by Max Power at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Israeli military begins war games for 5 days; Operation Turning Point 4 started 23 may Causing some alarm.
posted by adamvasco at 1:24 PM on May 25, 2010


fwiw through the 7 shades of OUTRAGE, thanks to the op for linking the article, which provides a fascinating perspective on how the power with the longest arm and biggest stick has by far the least control of any of the 3 players in these unfolding events.

The situation has a quality of inevitability about it. It has the
feel of Europe prior to World War I. The United States moves
forward with a vague notion of containment, failing to recognize
that containment as a strategy has not curbed and in all
probability will not curb Iranian influence in the Middle East.
Containment will certainly not stop Iran’s nuclear program,
and it will not eliminate Israel’s security concerns. Iran moves
forward with its nuclear program seeing it as a component of its
status as an important power but failing to recognize that the
ultimate product could be a great loss of influence. Israel moves
forward with its exaggerated view of the threat from Iran,
failing to recognize that the cost to be paid because of this view
may be more of a threat to Israel’s security interests than Iran is.


Abstract moralising and lessons from history be damned, it's humility and pragmastism in the present that Uncle Sam needs to learn if the paradigms of world security are to be shifted in a constructive manner.
posted by protorp at 1:48 PM on May 25, 2010


Ahmadinejad's repeated statements about wiping Israel off the map
GAH. This makes me mad every time i have to read that. HE NEVER SAID THAT. See, for example, here for a less OMG-ISRAEL-SHE-IS-IN-DANGER-1111!!!ELEVEN! translation.
posted by vivelame at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


on preview: adressed already.
posted by vivelame at 1:54 PM on May 25, 2010


Iran, Israel, and the United States are all members of the United Nations. An Israeli attack on Iran would violate the United Nations Charter, which only allows for the use of military force if approved by the Security Council (Article 42) or in self-defense if an armed attack occurs (Artice 51).
posted by kirkaracha at 3:01 PM on May 25, 2010


drjimmy11, if we are to believe the scenario in TFA, it does not matter what the US wants to do, as they'll have no choice but to enter the conflict once Israel decides it's in their self-interest to strike against Iran. At that point, engaging Iran (pre-emptively) will be the most reasonable, if you will, cause of action for a sitting US president. That is the scary part.

Forgive the ignorance of a foreigner, but I never quite understood why the US has to take Israel's side every time the shit hits the fan? I mean, we are your allies, but we're not about to help fund every little war you choose to start, nor would you, I imagine, support us if we decided to invade, say, Sweden... So what gives? What makes Israel so special?
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2010


GAH. This makes me mad every time i have to read that. HE NEVER SAID THAT. See, for example, here for a less OMG-ISRAEL-SHE-IS-IN-DANGER-1111!!!ELEVEN! translation.

"The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".

Oooh, I get it, I get it! He's trying to get a hold of that dagger thing that Jake Gyllenhaal is waving around in his new movie! Then he can go back and change it so Israel never happened, wipe it from the page of time! Now, if only we knew where the sands of time were hidden...

...No? Too off-topic? Sorry... *shuffles off*
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:14 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iran, Israel, and the United States are all members of the United Nations. An Israeli attack on Iran would violate the United Nations Charter, which only allows for the use of military force if approved by the Security Council (Article 42) or in self-defense if an armed attack occurs (Artice 51).

Sadly, that's certainly not going to stop either the US or Israel if they wanted to do anything.
posted by knapah at 3:29 PM on May 25, 2010


Time is on the side of Iran - if we attack them. Why? Because nuclear weapons are hardly the only or even best option for Iran. There are much richer possibilities in biological weapons of mass destruction. Small anonymous labs can be much more easily hidden. The technological obstacles to genetic research are tiny compared to nuclear, and much more easily mastered. It's hard to defend against, it's easy to smuggle and deploy, it can be absolutely devastating and it's hard to pin the blame. I'm sure, that a desperate people, pressed against the wall, have the patience and ingenuity to find a deadly way to respond.

I assume that the regime currently in Iran likes staying in power. This makes a direct attack on the United States incredibly risky for them, appealing as they might think it is. The reality for Iran, though, is that once the U.S. discovered that Iran (or that of any state with which we're not even on speaking terms) was behind an initially anonymous attack on the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction, it would not be long before worse destruction were visited upon Iran.

If Iran believes that it can pull off a WMD first strike and survive in any recognizable form, it does so at its own peril.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:19 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I listened to this On Point recently, which I thought was interesting: link

Its fairly Israeli centric, but is interesting in that it looks at what risks/rewards a conflict would entail. The stuff about Saudi Arabia being involved is interesting, as is the American perspective. Basically it sounds like a bad idea.
posted by rosswald at 4:32 PM on May 25, 2010


If Iran believes that it can pull off a WMD first strike and survive in any recognizable form, it does so at its own peril.

Hardly. It's the logic that has kept the peace for half a century - MAD. The answer for Iran from their perspective is not to become less powerful, but more powerful (bio WMDs should be cheaper, but just as effective). So that a bully is not induced to attack by your weakness, rather is dissuaded by the unacceptable price he'd pay for an attack. When a bully notices that victim taking self-defence measures, he's naturally opposed to that, as it might end his power to inflict damage. That moment of transition from a weakling to a MAD status is of course tricky to navigate, as that's when the bully is most likely to strike. Once the transition is completed, the U.S. will be all forced smiles. This is what the game is about right now. The question is can Iran do this without getting attacked. I think it's obvious that long term they can - even if bombed, unless they are occupied - which would be a huge price to pay, much bigger than Iraq - they can always resume WMD work... assuming that the bombing is even 100% successful (doubtful). Bombing can delay, but not stop a determined opponent here - and the determination will be only greater after a bombing. The only way for the U.S./Israel to stop Iran from getting WMDs is to occupy Iran militarily - good luck.

I still think it's better to drop the hypocrisy and afford Iran the same rights we afford any nation - including Israel. They should be allowed to be the stewards of their own state, like any other country. I think that if they are not driven to hate, fear and despair by our continuing aggression, the natural course of history is for their society to integrate with the rest of the world - it avoids pointless bloodshed and has benefits for all parties.
posted by VikingSword at 4:42 PM on May 25, 2010


Hardly.

It looks like you missed the part about Iran escalating to WMDs first. I don't believe that the U.S. would do so. If Iran were to use WMDs in the U.S. in response to purely conventional attacks, and kill several million Americans, the response from the U.S. would be deadlier, swift, and justified. (Do you really think they're stupid enough to attack the U.S. in such a way that the blood of millions of their own citizens would be on their own hands?)

And when the U.S. responded, the rest of the world would sit back and say, "Gee, isn't that awful."
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:02 PM on May 25, 2010


Hardly. It's the logic that has kept the peace for half a century - MAD. The answer for Iran from their perspective is not to become less powerful, but more powerful (bio WMDs should be cheaper, but just as effective).

MAD deterrence requires having so many weapons that a truly nation-killing number of them can be expected to survive even after bearing the full brunt of a first strike, or being able to almost perfectly secure a nation-killing deterrent force against a first strike. Iran can't really do either.

MAD deterrence through biologicals is particularly insane. You really want to have not just enough anthrax or smallpox or Martian death flu or whatever sitting around on warheads ready to launch within minutes to wipe out the US, you want to have so many warheads sitting around ready to go that even if the US destroys 90% of them in a first strike, you still have enough left to kill the US? You wouldn't last a month before some asshole dropped a test tube, set off an epidemic in your own nation, and the rest of the world started tossing around words like "sterilization" and "excision."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:20 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


MAD deterrence through biologicals is particularly insane. You really want to have not just enough anthrax or smallpox or Martian death flu or whatever sitting around on warheads ready to launch within minutes to wipe out the US, you want to have so many warheads sitting around ready to go that even if the US destroys 90% of them in a first strike, you still have enough left to kill the US? You wouldn't last a month before some asshole dropped a test tube, set off an epidemic in your own nation, and the rest of the world started tossing around words like "sterilization" and "excision."

Of what use are warheads and launches with bio WMDs? The advantages of going bio, are so many it's like Christmas! Nobody would do silly things like put stuff on rockets. You can just use people - who are already living in target nations (Iran, like many other countries have had deep agents living abroad for decades now). They have the stuff on location. You wouldn't even know you're under attack if you structure the germ bunnies right - think long fuse, like HIV. If you marry that with better vectors, like the flu or common cold, it can spread far and wide before symptoms emerge... by then it's already too late, especially if it's like early AIDS, with mortality in the high 90%. And even if you discover that you're infected, here's where it gets hard: who did it? Perhaps it was natural. Can we pin it on Iran? Why not NK or any other nation? While we try to answer these questions, there are fewer and fewer people who can even hear or search for an answer. It takes time to even know what is happening. Look at AIDS - how long it took to identify it as a distinct disease and then to find HIV as responsible. And that's just the start - now what, you have a germ. It takes time to find a vaccine or any kind of treatment, even with full on resources - again, look at AIDS, still no vaccine after 25+ years. Assuming they don't structure the germs in such a way that the end is much faster once symptoms appear. Imagine: spreads rapidly, but takes a long time for symptoms to appear, but once they do, death is swift and certain. Meanwhile, if you are the creator of the bug, you don't just unleash it without having a vaccine or some means of saving your population - remember, you have all the time in the world to create your little bunnies, so you can do it right. And since you know when it will be launched, you can have vaccinations against the flu - obligatory... of course, it won't be the flu, but who'll know it, and how soon? Sure, you'll miss many millions of your own citizens who for whatever reason didn't get vaccinated, but hey, there's a lot of uninhabited real estate on this suddenly peaceful earth. Many nasty things have happened without us finding out for a very long time indeed - if ever. The advantage of bio is that small groups can do it, so you can keep it pretty quiet... especially if they're motivated by the heinous acts of Great Satan who bombs them for no reason. Can this happen today? Of course not. But time is on the side of these scenarios - technology marches forward. Gene sequencing is becoming cheaper by the minute. Knowledge grows. It requires relatively less capital compared to nuclear weapons - and unlike some fixed costs associated with nuclear weapons, the costs keep dropping (sequencing the human genome cost over a billion $ - less than 10 years ago, today it's a fraction of that). Bio is, without a doubt far more rewarding as a WMD compared to just about any other. And about targeting challenges - let us not forget, that with radiation etc., nuclear weapons are far more blunt and with long lasting aftereffects, bio need not leave anything behind once it's been used. My personal preference: do not go down that road in the first place; do not stoke justified hatred; do not sow what you'd rather not reap. But if the only choice is being victimized with no end in sight, the Iranians would be crazy not to explore all their options - and bio WMD strike me as very fertile ground indeed.
posted by VikingSword at 6:06 PM on May 25, 2010


*
Arabic, to my VERY limited understanding, is an extremely poetic and roundabout language, and it's very easy to twist intended meanings by wrongly using either literal or figurative translations when the opposite was intended.

Too bad Iranians are Persians that speak Farsi and not Arabs that speak, hm, Arab.

a closer translation would be that Israel would eventually pass from the earth in the fullness of time.

This is equivalent of the argument where Arabs can't be anti-semitic, because Arabs are a semitic people to, so how can one be against oneself! It's a ridiculous debating the form when the function is absolutely clear: he's talking about the demise of Jews, period. Why are people willing to endlessly pick the nuance on the words of a thug is beyond me.
posted by falameufilho at 6:07 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


> Why are people willing to endlessly pick the nuance on the words of a thug is beyond me.

Because skewing words can give rise to dominating narratives that cast people as "thugs"?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:13 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, @Burhanistan, Ahmadinejad is not a thug, actually he's a pretty swell guy. That thing after the election where people got shot at, arrested and tortured? Not his fault.
posted by falameufilho at 6:22 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ya, I'm just not convinced. Every translation I've seen still seems pretty aggressive.
posted by rosswald at 6:31 PM on May 25, 2010


if you are the creator of the bug, you don't just unleash it without having a vaccine or some means of saving your population - remember, you have all the time in the world to create your little bunnies, so you can do it right. And since you know when it will be launched, you can have vaccinations against the flu - obligatory... of course, it won't be the flu, but who'll know it, and how soon?

And when the rest of the world discovers that only your population has a mysterious resistance to the pandemic that's spreading across the globe, one of the countries you've attacked will likely decide that you're going to die with them.

There is no plausible scenario in which resorting to WMD first will result in a win for Iran.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:05 PM on May 25, 2010


Too bad Iranians are Persians that speak Farsi and not Arabs that speak, hm, Arab.

That's your retort? Really? Were there no spelling mistakes in Malor's post to play gotcha with?
posted by Amanojaku at 7:30 PM on May 25, 2010


Yeah yeah, we all know the MetaFilter consensus: Israel has nothing to fear from the peace-loving democracy of Iran, which has never ever supported violent groups with the aim of destabilizing other countries. And it's not like anybody has ever attacked Israel with the intent destroying it and its people. So OBVIOUSLY the best thing to do is let Iran have the Bomb, because peace will then reign in the Middle East.

So why don't we just move on to the part of the conversation where we all state that if Tel Aviv were to get nuked it would be OK because Israel totally deserves it for being the evilest nation ever, and besides it would give us MeFites an excuse to cluck our tongues for hours.
posted by happyroach at 7:35 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


*
That's your retort? Really? Were there no spelling mistakes in Malor's post to play gotcha with?

There was a second part to the comment. Please go back and read it.

P.S.: Coming to this debate not knowing the difference between Persians and Arabs is not equivalent to making spelling mistakes. It's such a basic piece of information that not being aware of it kind of disqualifies someone from the debate, honestly.
posted by falameufilho at 8:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amen, happyroach.
posted by falameufilho at 8:13 PM on May 25, 2010


Israel has nothing to fear from the peace-loving democracy of Iran, which has never ever supported violent groups with the aim of destabilizing other countries.

Iran has nothing to fear from the peace-loving democracies of Israel and the U.S., which have never ever supported violent groups with the aim of destabilizing other countries.

Making claims and casting aspersions is remarkably easy; backing them up however is somewhat more complicated.

So instead, let's look at the record for guidance. How often has Iran initiated an aggressive attack against another country in the past 100 years? And how often has the U.S. and/or Israel? Interestingly enough, Israel - which has not even existed for 100 years, has nonetheless managed to rack up quite a record.

I don't blame the Israelis. Their country was established in part by those who fled a holocaust designed to wipe them from the face of the earth. When a people have experienced such a history, it's no wonder that they'll take that history into account. Some of their "paranoid" actions reflect this. But that explanation cuts both ways. Iran also has experienced history through their particular prism.
posted by VikingSword at 8:35 PM on May 25, 2010


> Yeah, @Burhanistan, Ahmadinejad is not a thug, actually he's a pretty swell guy. That thing after the election where people got shot at, arrested and tortured? Not his fault.

First off, you're coming off like an ass. Secondly, while I don't like Ahmadinejad and deplored the handling of the protests last year, there's a big difference in his foreign policy approach versus say Netanyahu. Iran has not been an aggressor like Israel or the US have in the past 50 years . But, once someone is labeled a "thug" because of questionable statements then its easy to craft a narrative that supports bombing the shit out of their country, regardless of any other real politic.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 PM on May 25, 2010


The current government of Iran is built on beating up women, demonizing Jewish people and hanging homosexuals and heretics. Iran supported Israel in many of it's actions. They were very close until 79. While your standing there casting aspersions at Israel and the USA notice David Duke and the baseeji thug standing next to you. It is too bad your apologetics were drowned out by the overwhelming chants of death to America.
posted by humanfont at 9:38 PM on May 25, 2010


> It is too bad your apologetics were drowned out by the overwhelming chants of death to America.

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

There is shitty rhetoric (and shitty internal issues) on all sides. Let's look at which country's secret agents helped overthrow which country's legitimate government and then see how balanced the perspective is.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


How often has Iran initiated an aggressive attack against another country in the past 100 years?

If one were to count proxy wars through Hezbollah and Hamas, quite a few.
posted by Behemoth at 11:56 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel: Israelis promise to stop eight ships carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid, 800 activists and politicians from more than 40 countries
posted by homunculus at 12:29 AM on May 26, 2010


If one were to count proxy wars through Hezbollah and Hamas, quite a few.

Comedy gold. Hamas - an Israeli Mossad creation, designed to undermine the PLO, and of course an epic blowback. The relationship between Hamas and Iran is murky at best. They are hardly allies, with vast religious differences and Hamas (Sunni) suspicious of Iran (Shia); there are claims that Iran provided some material support to Hamas - at a time when Hamas was being hermetically isolated by Israel the U.S. and the West, and Hamas desperate for support from anyone - but nobody has ever shown that Iran has any kind of operative control or influence over Hamas. Yeah, if the claim is of Iran launching aggressive wars through the proxy of Hamas, it's bunk of the first order.

The case with Hezbollah is at least marginally more plausible (which is not saying much). It's worth noting that again Israel was instrumental in the - this time inadvertent - creation of the Hezbollah, which arose as a direct consequence of Israel not having the good sense to leave South Lebanon after ousting the PLO... instead, Israel decided to create a permanent occupied zone, and Hezbollah arose as a result - a bona fide liberation movement. So, way to go Israel - as so often unintended consequences far outweigh whatever good the initial action was designed to bring about. Hezbollah undoubtedly has deep links to Iran, though again, it's not exactly taking orders from Iran - no question Iran is arming them and financing them (though Syria was doing that first and is still doing so), but they don't have operational control and cannot "order" them to war - they work together as long as their interests coincide, and let us always remember that Syria also has a role here, Hezbollah is not being "run" by Iran - they are mostly their own agents with some loyalty and payback to both Syria and Iran. So calling that Iran's going to war through a proxy of Hezbollah is pretty ridiculous - not to mention the scale hardly qualifies... Hezbollah has snatched a few Israeli border patrol soldiers, which resulted in a massive strike by Israel, and a bunch of mostly inaccurate missiles shot by Hezbollah... pretty meager show for a war... at least from Hezbollah - because the Israeli display was far more impressive.

And I predict, that if Israel (and the U.S.) decide to launch a military attack of Iran, the law of unintended consequences will be on a doozy of a display.

It would be best to step away from the brink, and find positive ways to engage. Neither Israel, not Iran deserve a war, and there is no wisdom in taking aggressive military action against a sovereign nation that is not in fact engaged in hostile action (regardless of overheated rhetoric designed for domestic consumption... and I mean both Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad) - we've seen enough of the worth of these trumped up "preemptive wars".
posted by VikingSword at 12:46 AM on May 26, 2010


Officials and analysts in Beirut say that while war might not be imminent, the broader crisis in the region over Iran's nuclear programme and the fact that Hizbollah is Tehran's most important regional ally, could provoke a new confrontation. via
The view from the Gulf is that another Hizbollah / Israeli war is coming.
posted by adamvasco at 1:28 AM on May 26, 2010


Comedy gold. Hamas - an Israeli Mossad creation

That's a pretty big misrepresentation. Hamas is an Israeli creation in the same sense that al-Qaeda is an American one.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 AM on May 26, 2010


That's a pretty big misrepresentation. Hamas is an Israeli creation in the same sense that al-Qaeda is an American one.

You mean they funded, trained, and supplied them before they turned against their former allies?
posted by knapah at 9:50 AM on May 26, 2010


There is a persistent myth that nationalist group and religious reactionaries were created by Israel, the US, or some other powerful entity; rather than as mostly self organized forces born from local leadership. It makes it easier to blame one side for all the problems when you can excuse the other from any role in the violence and call any thing the other does as just a blow back consequence of their own actions.
posted by humanfont at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Comedy gold. Hamas - an Israeli Mossad creation, designed to undermine the PLO, and of course an epic blowback... It's worth noting that again Israel was instrumental in the - this time inadvertent - creation of the Hezbollah...

Even if one were to adopt that incredibly flawed stance, the issue at hand is whether Iran has taken aggressive action towards other nations. Regardless of the circumstances that led to the creation of Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that Iran is waging a proxy war through these groups is indisputable.
posted by Behemoth at 11:23 AM on May 26, 2010


Top 5 misconceptions in this thread:
  1. The U.S. and Israel have no capacity for choice but are forced to respond to Iranian warmongering.
  2. Iran has no capacity for choice but is forced to respond to U.S.-Israeli warmongering.
  3. At least one of these three countries has a defense department run by sane individuals who read well-thought-out pieces like the one linked in the OP.
  4. Iran is run by an unwanted regime based on fear, and if we invaded them we would be greeted with flowers and kabab, with minimum or no casualties. (non vide Iraq, Afghanistan)
  5. Iran could and would drop a nuclear bomb on a country full of Muslims, even when other options for causing pain and suffering are available.
posted by shii at 11:54 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regardless of the circumstances that led to the creation of Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that Iran is waging a proxy war through these groups is indisputable.

Eminently disputable. By arming and financing the Hezbollah, or giving some limited financial support for a limited time to Hamas, at most Iran would be involved in supporting terrorism - which is exactly what it has been accused of doing... "Iran supports terrorism" (leaving aside any dispute about "one man's terrorist etc."). You don't get to double count that as also "engaging in war". Either-Or. Or are we now making zero distinction between supporting terrorism and engaging in an aggressive war? Does that mean Iran is at present at war with Israel? Or are they supporting terrorism against Israel? Traditionally we make a distinction between merely supporting terrorism and engaging in war. That distinction is present in all the statistics put out by various watchdog organizations and the U.N. itself. War is not the same as terrorism.

But for the sake of argument, let us then obliterate that distinction and see where it would lead us. A whole host of countries which supported terrorist groups can now be said to be in a state of war against the target country. Which would come as some surprise to the U.N. And topically: by that definition, the U.S. is at present in a state of war against Iran. That's: war. How does that sound? Exactly. But let us ignore even that absurdity - if we are to accept this criterion, then suddenly the number of "wars" the U.S. and Israel have been engaged in, simply explode in number - again dwarfing the Iranian effort by many, many, many magnitudes no matter what definition you adopt. Quite some record, whichever way one cuts it and however one twists the definitions. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
posted by VikingSword at 1:44 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I specifically referred to it as a proxy war and not open war, but regardless of the terminology, most rational parties would agree that it qualifies as aggressive action by Iran -- which was the original question I was addressing. However, you are welcome to continue engaging in semantical acrobatics on your own time.
posted by Behemoth at 2:31 PM on May 26, 2010


we've seen enough of the worth of these trumped up "preemptive wars".

I imagine that if no one ever tried the preemptive strike method, there would be no wars, at least not in this day and age. Every war begins because someone feels threatened by someone else (or gains support by making others believe that they feel threatened, such as in the case of the war in Iraq).
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:30 AM on May 27, 2010


Every war begins because someone feels threatened by someone else (or gains support by making others believe that they feel threatened, such as in the case of the war in Iraq).

Let's not oversimplify. The First Gulf War did not begin because Saddam felt threatened by Kuwait. WW2 did not begin because the Germans felt threatened by Poland. Sometimes wars begin because of unalloyed greed, or religious or ethnic intolerance, or other reasons.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:26 AM on May 27, 2010


Let's not oversimplify. The First Gulf War did not begin because Saddam felt threatened by Kuwait. WW2 did not begin because the Germans felt threatened by Poland. Sometimes wars begin because of unalloyed greed, or religious or ethnic intolerance, or other reasons.

All right, so the first Gulf War is a bad example, but WWII isn't. Hitler gained support, largely by making people afraid of the Jews. While his motives were different, the people of Germany believed that this was a preemptive strike to save them from the "awful Jews". Of course there are other underlying reasons for starting a war; it's almost always greed in one form or another. But fear is the way to win over a population and make them trust in your decision, and religious and ethnic intolerance are just another incarnation of the same concept. They are different, therefor we fear them, therefor we hate them, and we need to kill them before they kill us.
posted by MaiaMadness at 2:15 PM on May 27, 2010


Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran
posted by homunculus at 11:30 AM on May 30, 2010


Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran

I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
posted by angrycat at 1:10 PM on May 30, 2010


Israel recoils as US backs nuclear move
posted by homunculus at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2010


Israel recoils as US backs nuclear move

I truly don't understand why they're clinging to the idea that their nuclear activities must remain secret. Do they honestly still believe that a nonexistent sense of ambiguity can still possibly act as a deterrent to direct attack? Their nuclear weapons program is the worst kept secret on the planet. A friend commented to me this evening that when he took a tour in Israel, the guide pointed out Dimona and actually said "This is our nuclear power plant. Heh. Heh. Heh."

At this point, proliferating nuclear weapons would be unbelievably stupid of them. Why pick this particular hill to die on?
posted by zarq at 9:10 PM on May 30, 2010


Israeli Commandos Kill as Many as 10-16 Aid Activists, wound over 50 as they Board, Capture Gaza Aid Flotilla
posted by homunculus at 1:09 AM on May 31, 2010


From YNet News:
State official: Obama provided Israel with historic guarantees

Following NPT conference's unprecedented decision to name Israel as country whose nuclear facilities must be inspected, with US endorsement, State official claims President Obama provided Netanyahu with unequivocal assurances for Israel's strategic abilities

State officials are trying to send calming messages following the US's endorsement of a nuclear-free Middle East resolution advanced by the NPT conference, which named Israel as a country whose facilities must be placed under inspection. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama in the White House later this week amid recent tensions.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received unequivocal guarantees from Obama for the State of Israel's preservation of strategic and deterring abilities," a senior State official said. "These assurances include a significant upgrade in the history of US-Israel relations in the line of strategic understandings."

The source noted that the US had effectively promised Israel that no decision made by the NPT conference would harm Israel's vital interests.

posted by zarq at 7:59 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


U.N. Says Iran Has Fuel for 2 Nuclear Weapons
posted by homunculus at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2010


Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on June 12, 2010


I'm listening to The Passage right now (audiobook) and so far it is a rollicking good tale about the end of human civilization thanks to a mutated virus that is developed by the military because of the Iran War (the book is set maybe fifteen/twenty years of the future).

I'd much rather my post-apoco binge festival not be resembling real life so much, thanks.
posted by angrycat at 12:54 PM on June 12, 2010


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