What Negotiated Solution to Iran’s Nuclear Program Would You Find Acceptable?

 

shutterstock_137764901There were recently reports that the multi-party talks about Iran’s nuclear program were approaching a deal that would have the Iranians pause their nuclear program for a decade in exchange for lifting of sanctions. This was promptly reported in the conservative press as some variation of “Obama Gives Iranians the Bomb in Ten Years.”

It didn’t sound like an especially bad plan to me. A lot can happen in ten years, especially if tensions between nations are allowed to deescalate. I’m also a firm believer in the Churchill notion that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” But I could be wrong. Perhaps this is a bad deal. However, I’m also a firm believer in the notion that complaining about something without offering a solution is just whining. So I have a question for everyone here on Ricochet: What kind of negotiated solution would you find acceptable?

But before that, I need to remind everyone of some important elements in the equation:

  1. The Iranians aren’t crazy. To the extent that any government is, the Iranians are rational. There’s this idea floating around that the Iranian government is populated by lunatics who want to see the world reduced to a cinder to bring about the Islamic equivalent of the Second Coming. This is simply a fantasy. It’s folly to assume the other side are all crazy. They may be odd, they may be different, they may have different values, but to assume that they are incapable of rational thought is nonsense.
  2. They’re fighting the Islamic State. Iran is a Shia country with strong cultural and political ties to Shia dominated Iraq. Sunni ISIS is a threat not only to their coreligionists, but to their interest in Iraq. As a result, the Iranians are helping to fight ISIS. Negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program have a lot of dimensions, this is one of them.
  3. Agreement isn’t bilateral. The US and Iran are only two parties in these talks. They also include Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. So when you’re tempted to talk about how “Obama is doing X,” remember that these are seven-party talks, and keep in mind the larger context of what is going on in Europe.
  4. The threat isn’t imminent. The Iranians don’t have a functioning nuclear device. They haven’t tested one. (We would know). If they have access to designs that they may have purchased, we don’t even know of those designs actually work. And if you examine their uranium enrichment program, they don’t have the capacity to build a weapon yet.

While reading this, no doubt, some of you are ready to respond that no negotiated solution is possible, and the only thing we can do is bomb Iran. A few points about that:

  1. The Osirak thing isn’t an option here. As we all know, the Israelis took matters into their own hands in 1981 and stifled Iraqi nuclear ambitions by bombing the Osirak reactor. Knocking the Iranian nuclear program out the same way is not an option here. First of all, the Iranian program is spread out over multiple locations. Second, those locations are fortified, in anticipation that somebody might try that trick again. Third, the Iranians have built a substantial air-defense system to defend these nuclear sites. If it can be done at all (which is highly doubtful), knocking out the Iranian program isn’t going to be done by a handful of F-16s.
  2. Airstrikes would mean going to the mattresses. Its well known and well established that the Iranians have no problem supplying and supporting various terrorist organizations. If we were to bomb the Iranians, it would mean a war, and the Iranians would go to the mattresses. They would press the buttons, pull the strings, whatever metaphor you want to use, on their various client terrorist organizations, and they would hit back in a substantial way.
  3. It would mean war with Iran. Bombing Iran wouldn’t be like shooting a few missiles at a couple of aspirin factories, it would mean a war. It would probably mean the Persian Gulf would be closed to oil shipping. Iran has a population larger than Afghanistan and Iraq put together, and a land area larger than Afghanistan and Iraq put together. Occupation is simply not an option, and there won’t be public support for an extended war.

So, with these factors in mind, what is your solution? (Keep in mind that any negotiated agreement now needs to be a treaty that can pass with a 2/3 vote, because 47 Republicans in the Senate just shot to hell any chance of any other kind of agreement).

So let’s hear it. What negotiated agreement would you find acceptable?

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  1. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Kate Braestrup:

    Religion is a very effective way to transmit values from generation to generation. I suspect that’s its biological value—there are no traditionally atheist societies. Not one.

    It depends on how you define “atheist.”

    Yes, if you define “atheist” as “someone who believes in one or more gods” then we can find a few examples. ;)

    • #31
  2. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Foreign policy talk is a funny thing: When you hear someone say, let’s be realistic–read let’s be appeasing.

    • #32
  3. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Kate Braestrup:

    Tuck:

    —there are no traditionally atheist societies. Not one.

    It depends on how you define “atheist.”

    It’s not clear to me why the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Korea do not qualify as atheist societies, and they’ve all been atheist long enough to qualify as “traditionally” so.

    • #33
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Tuck:

    Kate Braestrup:

    Religion is a very effective way to transmit values from generation to generation. I suspect that’s its biological value—there are no traditionally atheist societies. Not one.

    It depends on how you define “atheist.”

    Yes, if you define “atheist” as “someone who believes in one or more gods” then we can find a few examples. ;)

    Theraveda Buddhism (which is the oldest form of Buddhism and underpins  the centuries-old traditional society of Thailand, among other places) declares that insight comes from experience, personal effort and reason, along with assistance from wise people. No worship of God(s), no assistance from God(s). I’d call that an atheist society.

    • #34
  5. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Kate Braestrup:

    Tuck:

    Kate Braestrup:

    Religion is a very effective way to transmit values from generation to generation. I suspect that’s its biological value—there are no traditionally atheist societies. Not one.

    It depends on how you define “atheist.”

    Yes, if you define “atheist” as “someone who believes in one or more gods” then we can find a few examples. ;)

    Theraveda Buddhism (which is the oldest form of Buddhism and underpins the centuries-old traditional society of Thailand, among other places) declares that insight comes from experience, personal effort and reason, along with assistance from wise people. No worship of God(s), no assistance from God(s). I’d call that an atheist society.

    If what you mean is that there are no traditionally non-religious (with religion being more loosely defined) societies, I agree with you. I think we’re hard-wired for religion, but that’s another argument! (Wanna have it? Shall we start a thread? Oh boy!)

    • #35
  6. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Asquared:

    It’s not clear to me why the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Korea do not qualify as atheist societies, and they’ve all been atheist long enough to qualify as “traditionally” so.

    For starters, they’re not atheist because it was their tradition to be so, it’s because they were forced at gunpoint…  And they never became fully atheist, despite the best efforts of the rulers.  (Caveat with the Norks, who knows what’s going on in there.)

    I’d also argue that a tradition needs to be around for quite a few generations, and all of those societies are relatively new.

    But to the biological survival trait argument, I’ll also note that all of those societies for which we have reasonable data show that their populations are collapsing—Russia being the best example.

    • #36
  7. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Kate Braestrup:

    No worship of God(s), no assistance from God(s). I’d call that an atheist society.

    That’s a stretch, as Buddha developed all of his philosophies in the context of the Hindu pantheon.  The notion of rebirth and Nirvana both come from Hinduism.  Which is a religion.

    All-powerful Wikipedia has this to say: “It is the dominant form of religion in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma, and is practiced by minority groups in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China.”

    Perhaps they’ve gotten rid of some of the trappings, but that’s not atheism, by any definition.

    • #37
  8. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Tuck:

    For starters, they’re not atheist because it was their tradition to be so, it’s because they were forced at gunpoint… And they never became fully atheist, despite the best efforts of the rulers.

    There were initially forced to be atheist, but when I lived in the Former Soviet Union, I found atheism to have ingrained in the culture.  By that time, Atheism had been around for 80 years, more than a couple of generations.

    I think I’ve previously mentioned the discussion I witnessed between an American and a Kazakh on whether Judaism was a religion or an ethnicity.  To Kazakh, the idea that Judaism was a religion was unheard of (and she was Jewish, at least according to her passport, which seemed like a pretty persuasive argument for her position).

    • #38
  9. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Asquared:

    There were initially forced to be atheist, but when I lived in the Former Soviet Union, I found atheism to have ingrained in the culture. By that time, Atheism had been around for 80 years, more than a couple of generations.

    So is four “quite a few”?  I think you need a bit more…

    I think I’ve previously mentioned the discussion I witnessed between an American and a Kazakh on whether Judaism was a religion or an ethnicity. To Kazakh, the idea that Judaism was a religion was unheard of (and she was Jewish, at least according to her passport, which seemed like a pretty persuasive argument for her position).

    Obviously the correct answer is “both“.

    • #39
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tuck:

    Misthiocracy:

    I can’t think of any more recent than medieval times (100-years-war, 30-years-war, the Crusades, etc).

    How about the war to spread Islam? That’s been going on for a bit, with fits and starts.

    Again, medieval times.

    • #40
  11. user_370242 Member
    user_370242
    @Mikescapes

    If Fred is just looking to be provocative he succeeded. But, seriously, what are his credentials? Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Not really. What he says is pure speculation based on little or no information. Rather than go point for point, I see no fact based, serious arguments here.

    • #41
  12. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tuck:

    Asquared:

    It’s not clear to me why the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Korea do not qualify as atheist societies, and they’ve all been atheist long enough to qualify as “traditionally” so.

    For starters, they’re not atheist because it was their tradition to be so, it’s because they were forced at gunpoint… And they never became fully atheist, despite the best efforts of the rulers. (Caveat with the Norks, who knows what’s going on in there.)

    North Korea is definitely not atheist. North Korea has deified the Kim family.

    • #42
  13. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    There is no good negotiated deal possible with the current Iranian regime.  This dance is a dangerous distraction.  Why?  Because Iran does not negotiate in good faith, and will not comply with any limits that are within their power to subvert.

    Will they get the bomb?  Yes.  By all reasonable measures they are already pretty much there.  They are now building an arsenal of ICBMs, IRMs and tactical launchers.  Once they have that arsenal in place then they will take the last step to full nuclearization.  No deal will do anything to slow that process.

    They don’t want one bomb.  They want the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on earth.  Their track record indicates they will use them.  To argue they are rational is not rational.  They are millenarians; their world view is not like ours.  They are more dangerous than ISIS.

    The only non-military action is sanctions and political subversion.  The former will only slow the process and is pointless in absence of the latter.  If Iran was run by a General Sisi-like dictator, I would not have any worries.  But we lost that opportunity when Obama stabbed the Green revolution in the back.

    • #43
  14. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Tuck:

    Kate Braestrup:

    No worship of God(s), no assistance from God(s). I’d call that an atheist society.

    That’s a stretch, as Buddha developed all of his philosophies in the context of the Hindu pantheon. The notion of rebirth and Nirvana both come from Hinduism. Which is a religion.

    All-powerful Wikipedia has this to say: “It is the dominant form of religion in , , , , and , and is practiced by minority groups in , , and .”

    Perhaps they’ve gotten rid of some of the trappings, but that’s not atheism, by any definition.

    Tuck—As I say, it depends on your definition of atheist—that’s why I didn’t contradict you outright. A bona fide theraveda buddhist (in Thailand, for example, where I lived as a child) does not say prayers to Kali to ask for stuff.

    The desire for beings  to whom you can pray (and ask for stuff) led to the development Mahayana Buddhism, which offers Bodhissatvas. Even the Bodhissatva isn’t really supernatural, the way a saint or an angel is supernatural. Rather, they’re those who, having achieved enlightenment in their own (most recent) lifetime, voluntarily gave up the reward—which is the  opportunity to get out of the endless cycle of birth and rebirth and be what you and I might call “dead” —in order to re-enter life and help others find and follow the Way.

    I’m being extremely simplistic here, of course, but in any case, Buddhism is a very different system of thought—far more so than the new-agey, OM-tatoo-types seem to imagine.

    I also think it’s reasonable to consider the former Soviet Union an atheist society if we can call the United States a Christian, or Jewish-Christian society. The existence of hypocrisy in either direction (either pretending not to believe in God but praying in a foxhole,  or saying you do believe in God while ignoring most of God’s commandments) is endemic to any society. The Communists were hypocritical communists and every uber-Nazi, as Himmler famously complained, had “his good Jew.”

    But I’m hijacking the thread, here, guys!

    • #44
  15. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Misthiocracy:

    Tuck:

    Asquared:

    It’s not clear to me why the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Korea do not qualify as atheist societies, and they’ve all been atheist long enough to qualify as “traditionally” so.

    For starters, they’re not atheist because it was their tradition to be so, it’s because they were forced at gunpoint… And they never became fully atheist, despite the best efforts of the rulers. (Caveat with the Norks, who knows what’s going on in there.)

    North Korea is definitely not atheist. North Korea has deified the Kim family.

    Yes. “A man will worship something,” as Emerson declared. We’re hard-wired.

    • #45
  16. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    No solution that provides a pathway for Iran to get a nuclear bomb is acceptable to me.  A nuclear armed Iran would cause a nuclear arms race in the middle east.  Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey would all have to counter balance that new condition, and once you start letting Islamic nations have nuclear weapons then it’s anyone’s guess who gets it and uses it.

    • #46
  17. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    The US lacks the political will to subdue Iran’s ambitions.  I am not fine with Iran having the bomb, but ultimately you need a credible threat which we do not have.

    As far as what agreement is OK…

    1) Cessation of all enrichment activities.

    2) Dismantling of centrifuge plants.

    3) Inspections whenever and wherever.

    4) Justified military reprisal upon breach of above 3.  This should be understood that the parties cannot unilaterally withdraw.

    5) Freedom from sanctions as long as compliant.

    We can incrementally  ratchet up to the use of force force but Iran has to agree to something.

    • #47
  18. user_88846 Member
    user_88846
    @MikeHubbard

    Misthiocracy:

    Mike Hubbard:Ever since the Iranian regime seized our embassy in the Carter years—a casus belli if ever there was one—we’ve been at war with Iran….

    This makes me wonder.

    What are the modern historical precedents for wars which outlast the leaders in charge of both parties at the war’s outbreak?

    I can’t think of any more recent than medieval times (100-years-war, 30-years-war, the Crusades, etc).

    Well, the Slavs in the former Yugoslavia were busy fighting over centuries old grievances, and Osama Bin Laden (may his name be erased) was still upset over Spain’s expulsion of the moors.

    In terms of holding a legitimate grievance, remember that one of the hostage takers in the seventies was none other than Ahmadinejad himself.  He’s alive and an honored person in Iran still.  He’s not their president any more, but he was from 2005-2013.  I say there’s still enough continuity between the seventies and today for us to keep holding a grudge—especially since they chant “Death to America” so often.

    • #48
  19. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    There—a nuclear arms race in the middle-east! That strikes me as a reasonable thing to be worried about.

    When Fred asked “What negotiated agreement would be acceptable,” isn’t the question “what are our choices?”

    Bombing/invading/nuking are all choices for us and presumably will remain so.  I know that “will” and “guts” have to be in the mix, but what the comparisons to Chamberlain at Munich seem to miss is that Hitler was betting that England would back down from a fight between more or less evenly-matched contestants.  Iran and the US absolutely are not evenly-matched and everyone knows it.

    Again, I am not and never have been an international diplomat, but it seems to me that, handicapped as we are by not being lunatics willing to see the world reduced to a cinder and thus would prefer not to bomb, invade, nuke or otherwise smash Iran (if for no other reason than that we’re pro-life and care about Iranian babies) it would make sense to negotiate pro tem from some position short of “do as we say or we’ll squash you like a grape,” especially since everyone already knows we could.

    • #49
  20. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    A few points.

    (1). Re Kate Braestrup’s point about N Korea. My opinion is that NK is kept in a relatively short leash by China. So I wouldn’t evaluate NK’s actions without also evaluating China’s.

    Even assuming NK as an independent actor, who would they use the weapon against? S Korea? They have no interest in destroying SK. They already have enough ‘bleak’ to go around. They want to take over a more-or-less functioning SK. They dont’t want to total the car, they want to drive it. Though they’d be OK with it having a few dents and scratches if that’s what it takes to get the keys.

    This is not the case with Iran. Who would they use a weapon against? Israel. Iran would be thrilled if Israel were destroyed. (Maybe not Jerusalem) And they might calculate that they could pull it off without retaliation. Do you really see the US launching a retaliatory strike vs Iran? The whole world would demand that ‘cooler heads prevail’ …’ No sense escalating what is already a tragedy’ …yadda yadda yadda.

    Even if they didn’t use it, they could vastly increase their agressiveness from under the cover of their nuclear umbrella.

    It is terrible to contemplate.

    (2). This leads me to the position outlined by Valiuth. Iran must abandon enrichment. Most countries with civilian nuclear power do not enrich their own fuel. If they want to go that route … Fine. Failing that, no deal. Sanctions could strangle them. And to the extent that sanctions resulted in higher oil prices, Russia might not mind all that much. Which just might put the Russians and the Chinese (who need Iranian oil) at odds. (hint to the administration …. With Keystone pipeline in place, maybe we could hook China on American oil instead of Iranian?)

    • #50
  21. J Flei Inactive
    J Flei
    @Solon

    Fred Cole:But before that, I need to remind everyone of some important elements in the equation:

    1. The Iranians aren’t crazy. To the extent that any government is, the Iranians are rational. There’s this idea floating around that the Iranian government is populated by lunatics who want to see the world reduced to a cinder to bring about the Islamic equivalent of the Second Coming. This is simply a fantasy. It’s folly to assume the other side are all crazy. They may be odd, they may be different, they may have different values, but to assume that they are incapable of rational thought is nonsense.

    I disagree with this first premise.  I maintain that governments such as Iran and North Korea are in fact crazy, but a better word would be evil.  They aren’t just ‘odd, but different’ as you say.

    Anyway, I have no idea what a good deal would look like, it’s a good question.  I thought the sanctions were working, so wouldn’t it have been better to just keep them in place and not try to make a deal with a country that hates us?

    • #51
  22. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Even assuming NK as an independent actor, who would they use the weapon against? S Korea? They have no interest in destroying SK. They already have enough ‘bleak’ to go around. They want to take over a more-or-less functioning SK. They dont’t want to total the car, they want to drive it. Though they’d be OK with it having a few dents and scratches if that’s what it takes to get the keys.”

    The NoKo bomb is a Swiss Army Bomb. Good for defense and threatening your neighbors. Like any game of chicken, it’s all about whether or not you think your adversary is crazy enough to not swerve at the last minute.

    In one respect an Iranian bomb is the same. Good insurance against an attack. The difference is their threats to the region are more credible and based on more than power politics. By the 1960s, it was clear the Soviets were “rational actors”. They could be deterred. They had just as much to lose as the West did.

    Would you want to be the President of the United States who made the same assumption about Iran?

    • #52
  23. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Even assuming NK as an independent actor, who would they use the weapon against? S Korea? They have no interest in destroying SK. They already have enough ‘bleak’ to go around. 

    Iran would have the same problem in destroying Israel—correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be tricky  to nuke Israel without rendering the Dome of the Rock radioactive?

    Iran would be thrilled if Israel were destroyed. (Maybe not Jerusalem) And they might calculate that they could pull it off without retaliation. Do you really see the US launching a retaliatory strike vs Iran?

    Yes, Iran would be thrilled if Israel were destroyed (except Jerusalem). Being thrilled about something, and being able to do it are two different things. Chanting “death to America” (and exciting the base) is a long way from actually being able to “kill America.”

    And yes, I can see the US launching a retaliatory strike against Iran. More to the point, Israel is going to be a player in the nuclear arms race Manny is concerned about, and Israel is not going to be shy about making sure everybody understands just what “mutually assured destruction” looks like.

    All of which is—again—not to say that I think it’ll be fine if Iran gets a nuke. I think we should do everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen, for the reasons stated above. I’m just not sure American disunity and panicked belligerence are the vibe we want to go for.

    A question about definitions, again: When we say “Iran is Irrational” or “crazy” or “nucking futs” or whatever, are we saying their leadership is, or Iranians are? That is, are we just talking bombing and nuking, or does liberating come into the plan as well?

    • #53
  24. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Kate Braestrup:Yes, Iran would be thrilled if Israel were destroyed (except Jerusalem). Being thrilled about something, and being able to do it are two different things.

    FWIW, it seems far more likely that Iran would try to use an unaffiliated terrorist organization to detonate a bomb in Israel to retain plausible deniability.

    North Korea wants a nuclear weapon for blackmailing purposes (which has worked perfectly for them, their nuclear research has paid for itself many times over in international aid).  Iran wants to kill as many Israelis as possible.  Once you focus on the objective, it’s pretty straightforward to see how an Iranian nuclear weapon could be detonated in Israel.

    When the nuclear device is detonated, Iran will simply accuse Israel of killing their own people as a false-flag operation to start a war with Iran.  When that happens, Fred will be on here agreeing with the Iranians and chastising any Republican that believes we should defend Israel.

    • #54
  25. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Asquared:

    Kate Braestrup:Yes, Iran would be thrilled if Israel were destroyed (except Jerusalem). Being thrilled about something, and being able to do it are two different things.

    FWIW, it seems far more likely that Iran would try to use an unaffiliated terrorist organization to detonate a bomb in Israel to retain plausible deniability.

    North Korea wants a nuclear weapon for blackmailing purposes (which has worked perfectly for them, their nuclear research has paid for itself many times over in international aid). Iran wants to kill as many Israelis as possible. Once you focus on the objective, it’s pretty straightforward to see how an Iranian nuclear weapon could be detonated in Israel.

    When the nuclear device is detonated, Iran will simply accuse Israel of killing their own people as a false-flag operation to start a war with Iran. When that happens, Fred will be on here agreeing with the Iranians and chastising any Republican that believes we should defend Israel.

    So the Iranians aren’t going to make use of all those ICBMs IRMS, IUDs and whatnot that No Caesar was talking about? Instead, they’re going to place a very dangerous weapon in the hands of an unaffiliated group of terrorists (read: unstable amateurs) and trust that

    a.) they’ll be able to transport it without either losing it through theft, hijacking, or accidental detonation or leaving an obvious trail back to Tehran

    b.) they’ll deploy it both safely and effectively without supervision

    without (c) anyone making the connection between the Shiite Ali’s Pals Militia and the Shiite power in the region?  Hmmmmmn. Crazy indeed.

    • #55
  26. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    #54 Kate Braestrup

    I think that the observations provided by No Caesar, Ekosj, and ASquared (re means of delivering an Iranian nuke to Israel) cover the questions you seem to be asking.

    I’ll add by getting back to the “playing the long game” characterization Amos Yadlin supplies about the Iranian regime (see my comment at the beginning of the thread).

    First, about the regime (and from this point I’ll use the term “Khomeinists” to distinguish the regime from the general Iranian people): As someone just earlier in the thread ably put it, just get clarity on the Khomeinists’ objective and then you can with considerable fluidity work your way back through how they can achieve it.

    As repeated in many comments here, that objective is the ushering in of the Messianic Era. Period.

    With that as the objective, the preservation of the Dome of the Rock slides way down the concerns-list.

    With that as the objective, the point of Khomeinist regime preservation is, in the final analysis, decidedly *not* power for power’s sake (notwithstanding periodic lapses such as factional skulduggery and corruption); to restate what others on the thread have illuminated, it is for this reason that MAD carries no relevance here in the long view.

    As an aside on MAD… As someone has pointed out on this thread, the US attained a kind of “breakthrough” in nuclear-doctrine terms when some reasonable confidence was achieved in the 1960’s that the Soviets were rational actors. That breakthrough notwithstanding, the Soviets also piled a lot of resources into attempts to subvert Western public sentiment and Western institutions. We can argue till the cows come home over whether this non-military infiltration was at base a program of “offense-as-defense” specifically aimed strictly at protecting Russia, or whether the USSR (and the Warsaw Pact regimes) felt — at least during the 1960’s and early 1970’s — that the East-West ideological match-up might really see the West folding. The point, though, is that during this particular time period there was no shortage of ideological true believers sufficiently motivated to proselytize.

    Infiltration via proselytizing isn’t particularly the Khomeinist program. Rather, the Khomeinists are looking to immanentize via detonation(s). That they have the cunning to be methodical and careful about getting to the point in time where they can actually set about the business of immanentizing with little to no hindrance should not be confused for some kind of acquiescence in MAD — *everything* is subordinate to the ultimate objective.

    (And practically no method or tool is off-limits on the way to this objective; this marks a chillingly substantial distinction between the Khomeinists and ISIS; to borrow a piece of the analysis of that latter organization in Graeme Woods’s recent Atlantic Monthly article, ISIS’s own theological self-restrictions can have the habit of dogmatically constraining them from employing this or that tool, proxy, or ally — the Khomeinists don’t truss themselves up this way if they can help it.)

    • #56
  27. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Kate Braestrup:

    Asquared:

    So the Iranians aren’t going to make use of all those ICBMs IRMS, IUDs and whatnot that No Caesar was talking about? Instead, they’re going to place a very dangerous weapon in the hands of an unaffiliatedgroup of terrorists (read: unstable amateurs) and trust that

    a.) they’ll be able to transport it without either losing it through theft, hijacking, or accidental detonation or leaving an obvious trail back to Baghdad

    b.) they’ll deploy it both safely and effectively without supervision

    without (c) anyone making the connection between the Shiite Ali’s Pals Militia and the Shiite power in the region? Hmmmmmn. Crazy indeed.

    You mean Tehran.

    What makes you think that any terrorist group unaffiliated with Iran is, by definition, unstable amateurs.  If anything, I would argue the stable professional terrorist groups are unlikely to be affiliated with Iran.

    And yes, I think a stable professional terrorist group can easily transport a nuclear device without losing it and successfully detonate it.   As for detection during transportation, I’m woefully ignorant of our detection capabilities, so I can’t comment intelligently.

    If they lose one or two in the early efforts, when you have as many nuclear weapons as Iran wants develop, the loss of one or two isn’t a devastating setback.

    As for the making the connection, I think what Iran is looking for is plausible deniability.  They believe the Arab states will never take the word of a jew over the word of another Muslim.

    As for ICBM, I’m sure Iran is pursuing an all of the above strategy.

    • #57
  28. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    Regardless. Actual use, threatened use, bad outcomes all around. Which is why they CANNOT be allowed to become a nuclear power.

    Again, many countries have civilian nuclear energy WITHOUT enriching their own fuel. Iran wants to be part of that club with Canada Japan etc … Fine.

    But no more than that. No way. No how.

    • #58
  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Asquared:

    Kate Braestrup:

    Asquared:

    So the Iranians aren’t going to make use of all those ICBMs IRMS, IUDs and whatnot that No Caesar was talking about? Instead, they’re going to place a very dangerous weapon in the hands of an unaffiliatedgroup of terrorists (read: unstable amateurs) and trust that

    a.) they’ll be able to transport it without either losing it through theft, hijacking, or accidental detonation or leaving an obvious trail back to Baghdad

    b.) they’ll deploy it both safely and effectively without supervision

    without (c) anyone making the connection between the Shiite Ali’s Pals Militia and the Shiite power in the region? Hmmmmmn. Crazy indeed.

    You mean Tehran.

    What makes you think that any terrorist group unaffiliated with Iran is, by definition, unstable amateurs. If anything, I would argue the stable professional terrorist groups are unlikely to be affiliated with Iran.

    And yes, I think a stable professional terrorist group can easily transport a nuclear device without losing it and successfully detonate it. As for detection during transportation, I’m woefully ignorant of our detection capabilities, so I can’t comment intelligently.

    If they lose one or two in the early efforts, when you have as many nuclear weapons as Iran wants develop, the loss of one or two isn’t a devastating setback.

    As for the making the connection, I think what Iran is looking for is plausible deniability. They believe the Arab states will never take the word of a jew over the word of another Muslim.

    As for ICBM, I’m sure Iran is pursuing an all of the above strategy.

    Whoops—sorry! Yes, Tehran.  Yeesh! (Back to Baghdad must have been seductively alliterative).

    You may certainly be right—and if I had to choose one of us to make the call, Asquared, I’d choose you over me in a heartbeat, though I wouldn’t wish it on you.

    • #59
  30. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    #56 Kate Braestrup

    You spoke to what was going to be my second point in an already involved comment above.

    Your skepticism certainly merits discussion/counterpoints, and I would respond as follows.

    First, I think it may be Iran counter-ops expert Michael Ledeen who has observed that a known inclination (and thus frequent MO) of the Iranians is elimination of an enemy via a multiplicity of slicings/stabs that in the aggregate serve to kill but aren’t sufficiently detected until it’s too late for the enemy to do anything.

    Callous though it may be to say, Iran is counting on the larger West to view the immolation of the Jewish State (notwithstanding the obviousness of a nuclear detonation) as a pinprick not worth serious retaliation.

    The corollary is that the Khomeinists are also counting on the larger West willfully blinding itself to the ICBMs being readied for the coup de grace.

    (Obviously, for range reasons — there are of course others — Tehran won’t employ an ICBM against Jerusalem.)

    Second, we go back to the “playing the long game” leitmotif. Assuming a nuke detonated by Iranian proxies in Israel is traced clearly to Iran, and assuming the Khomeinists have made quite clear that they have a well-stocked nuclear arsenal, it’s quite simple for the regime to say to the West (in the aftermath of Israel’s immolation) something on the order of “Well, so? We’ve removed the region’s cancerous tumor, and now everyone here in the region is at long last happy — they appreciate the stability we now provide, and after you go through your Kubler-Ross stages of grief about the demise of the illegitimate Zionist Regime, you will too.” And to employ a term appearing repeatedly on this thread, crazy Western acquiescence in the face of brazen evil is not historically unheard of.

    Finally, many, many analysts have pointed out how readily the Khomeinists (who are Persian) send out proxies (frequently Arab) to get the dirty stuff done. (Just ask the current Argentinean president — she should know.) These proxies have set up quite a supply chain extending from Tehran to Beirut — if you’ve ever been to Israel you know how ridiculously easy it could be to get a powerful-enough device close enough.

    • #60
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