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What Is the Plan for Iran
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 10/23/07

While the U. S. military focuses its overextended resources on Iraq and Afghanistan, the U. S. State Department is left to deal with Iran which, at this point, would appear to pose the graver threat to America, Europe and, most of all, to Israel. Europe largely remains in a state of denial but many Americans and most Israelis are surely asking, “What’s the plan for Iran if the ongoing diplomatic efforts continue to come up empty?”

 Certainly they have a right to ask. Iran is clearly on a path to acquire nuclear weapons. Were they interested only in developing nuclear energy for peaceful uses they would have no need to develop uranium enrichment facilities. Russia has already offered to provide them with non-weapons grade uranium suitable for commercial use and the United States surely would as well, in return for verifiable assurances that Tehran would cease attempts to produce weapons-grade material.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Iran wants to build nuclear weapons to demonstrate, among other things, Persian superiority over its Arab neighbors. Acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would profoundly affect the balance of power in the Middle East and result in an enormous increase in Iranian prestige throughout the Muslim world. This, however, is the least of our problems. Planning for any subsequent military action against Iran would then have to take into account the reality of dealing with a nuclear armed theocracy whose leaders despise America and whose decisions are shaped by extreme religious views, not by the rational thinking that we are accustomed to.

 The United States, Israel, France and other western nations have said repeatedly that a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be tolerated. President Bush has said that all options, including military action, are on the table. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has boasted confidently that the issue of an Iranian nuclear capability is no longer up for debate and that there is nothing that the United States can do about it because it is militarily overextended.

 Meanwhile, we seem to be taking great comfort in the fact that we are not acting unilaterally for a change but are joining our traditional allies in multilateral efforts to persuade Iran to cease enriching uranium to weapons grade levels. Iran’s genocidal leaders, however, are having none of it. Why should they? They have little to fear from toothless sanctions and they know that Russia and China will veto any that would actually harm them. Both China and Russia are busy making money selling arms and technology to Iran.

 Russia probably worries about a nuclear-armed Iran but meanwhile, business is good and it is keeping its options open. As Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and editor of the Middle East Quarterly, writing in the Wall Street Journal, suggests, Russia will likely continue to profit from the current situation and let the United States or Israel do the dirty work of striking Iran’s enrichment facilities which they, of course, would then loudly condemn along with China and America’s many critics around the world.. Vladimir Putin, says Rubin, sees all this as a zero-sum game with Putin acting to maximize Russian advantage at America’s expense. Russia will, therefore, continue to play both sides, confident that at some point, America will be forced to act and than suffer the consequences of world condemnation, drastic increases in the price of oil and increased Muslim terrorism against us.

 The current celebration of multilateralism in the media reminds me of our Defense Department’s preoccupation with what has been called “jointness” or cooperation and interaction among the military services. If it contributes to better, more effective outcomes, then multilateralism, like “jointness”, is a good thing. But neither is a virtue or a goal in itself. In the current evolving crisis with Iran, we have to ask what multilateralism, or working patiently with our traditional allies to pursue diplomatic solutions, is accomplishing toward defusing this crisis. The answer, sadly, appears to be nothing. Our threats of sanctions are toothless for reasons stated above. Those who harbor wishful hopes for a popular revolt among the many Iranians who are dissatisfied with their leaders fail to understand the extent to which the mullahs exercise control.

 We did nothing to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. We ruled out military action, opting instead to work with North Korea’s neighbors on diplomatic approaches. They didn’t work. Russia and China would never have permitted any effective sanctions to work. It seems pretty clear that diplomacy isn’t going to work with Iran, either. Will we recognize this in time or will we just keep trying until Iran has nuclear weapons? At that point, all our options will change from bad to much worse. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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