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Obama Will Attack Iran In His Second Term

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Before you get on my case, let me explain why this headline is not link bait.

President Obama is a cautious man. Assuming he wins, this is the landscape that he’ll be dealing with.

  • Iran has an intricate system built over a number of sites, some reinforced and underground, all dedicated to the the likely task of building a nuclear weapons. Those sites were not built to house the Islamic Republic’s extensive model train collection.
  • Most US intelligence agencies believe Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and as a result we are doing our best with cyber-warfare to mess up their centrifuges and slow things down.
  • Negotiations with Iran appear to be in classic stall mode thanks to Tehran. Carrot and stick is not working. 
  • The Israelis are convinced that Iran is building nuclear weapons. 
  • The IAEA is as certain that Iran is building nuclear weapons as they were sure that Iraq (remember Yellow cake?) was not back in 2002.
  • Israel doesn’t blow up Iranian nuclear scientists in its spare time. It takes time and effort to get those guys and it’s a risky business for the agents on the ground. 
  • Obama’s cover is provided by sanctions. It’s very likely that the best sanctions can do is clarify Tehran’s position. There is little chance that Iran – one of the most chauvinistic and determined of nations – will buckle under. In fact, the Revolutionary Guard and the Mullahs just love sanctions. It gives them an opportunity to blame the West instead of their own economic mismanagement.
  • Ayatollah Khamenei has said that the bomb is “Un-Islamic”, but being the Supreme Leader means that “under threat from the Infidel” the bomb could become seriously Islamic in a hurry.
  • The Iranian sphere of influence is about to take a beating once the Assad regime goes bye-bye. Hezbollah will be hung out to dry. The only way Iran can assert its power after that happens (which is the only way it can justify staying in power at all ) is to have nuclear weapons to threaten Israel, control the Straits of Hormuz, and scare the bejesus out of the Saudis. 
  • The United States can not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. It would undermine our national security interests throughout the region, and beyond. If we allowed that situation to stand, we would signal a level of US weakness that would trigger decades of asymmetric warfare. We could be looking at intolerable threats to international oil prices, the constant threat of nuclear war between Iran and Israel, and even a threat to the Saudi regime, which they’d most likely respond to with renewed export of terrorism, and an attempt to build its own bomb, which would also be unacceptable. 
  • Ultimately, neither Russia nor China will be too upset at the US taking on the heavy lifting. The Russians won’t want a nuclear armed Islamic state close to their own highly restive Muslim populations, nor will they like the idea of Iran essentially controlling world energy prices. As for China, they use Russia for cover, and if Russia abstains in the UNSC, so will Beijing. A further reason is simple. The Chinese Economy is brittle right now. The economic shock caused by Iranian nukes will make a dangerous internal situation worse. They could do without the hassle.
  • Saudi support for a US assault on Iran will be highly likely. That will include flyover and basing rights, along with other strategic support. The Saudis need the US to do the job, and are perfectly prepared to do business with the Israelis to make that happen. The only proviso is that it all happens on the sly. 
  • Israel has vowed from the very beginning to deal with any existential threat to the nation. A state born of the Holocaust can not countenance the possibility of another. Iran has to be neutralized. The Israeli people will demand it.
  • Only the United States can conduct the operations necessary to neutralize Iranian nuclear weapons. Without going into to detail, the Israelis have neither the reach, diplomatic power to engineer overflight rights, nor the strike capacity or the ground and air superiority forces to get the job done at every target, and minimize blow-back.
  • Obama needs to get past November first before he can even begin to consider a full-scale strike on Iran. He also needs to stall Israel, which has almost certainly assured the White House it will not attack Iran before the election. 
  • That strike will only be conducted after the Administration is sure that Iran has a deliverable nuclear capacity, and some key milestones will have to be passed. Those will likely include the expulsion of IAEA inspectors after a UN sanctioned move to enter all Iranian facilities suspected of housing nuclear weapons technology, independently verifiable hard evidence of that activity, the proven failure of sanctions, and the rebuffing of Washington’s diplomatic initiatives. These are all highly likely.

Put all this together, and Obama will attack, probably in 2014.

The attack will be swift and decisive. It will involve massive air, naval, and special force assaults by air and ground, including bunker-busters, and perimeter defenses to help ensure success. It will be done in a way that clearly minimizes collateral damage. US forces will stay on the ground only as long as necessary and no longer. After departing, they will make sure to remind the Iranians that they’ll be back if necessary.

As for the Iranian response, it will be toothless. No Hezbollah, and no nukes will leave the Iranians little means to express their fury. Will they ally with Sunni extremists? Never. Will they infiltrate their own agents into Western countries? Unlikely to be effective or widespread. There will be bluster and little more.

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Written by coolrebel

August 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm

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