Friday, September 01, 2006

Here's What's Going to Happen with Iran

If present trends continue...

After some dithering, some sanctions are imposed. They consist of an embargo on #2 lead pencils. We really push Russia and China, and agree to add protractors and rulers to the list.

The Iranian rulers announce that the sanctions will have no effect on their nuclear program. Western leaders respond by saying that if Iran does not behave they will issue an even sterner warning.

In 2008 a Democrat is be elected to the White House. Tony Blair loses a confidence vote in the House of Commons and is replaced by a Labor Party leader who was known for his anti-George W Bush rhetoric.

The new American president announces a "grand bargain", which will be presented to Iran. She says that terms of the bargain are simple; if Iran agrees to give up their nuclear weapons program, we will shower them with all sorts of economic benefits, as well as diplomatic recognition.

The Iranian rulers pretend to be interested and will agree to talks. They also announce that regardless of what happens they will continue their nuclear program. Nevertheless, the American president agrees to talks, which drag on for months or years with no visible progress.

All the time the United States insists on getting UN Security Council approval for each step. While this strategy seems to give us the "worldwide unity" we seek, it also has the additional effect of making us beholden to the council, and gives it a certain legitimacy.

Eventually, even the Democrat US president tires of Iranian stalling, and asks the Security Council to rachet up the sanctions. Almost all countries on the council refuse to consider anything beyond adding ball point pens to the list of prohibited items.

Sometime towards the end of the decade, it becomes clear to American intelligence that Iran is close to building a nuclear bomb. The president makes some of the information public and asks for congressional approval. Congressional Democrats, in the majority of both houses, refuse. They publicly doubt the intelligence, with "remember Iraq" as their battle cry. Besides, they say, we need approval from the UN Security Council.

The American president considers consults with the permanent members of the Security Council. Every one says that they will veto an American proposal to use force against the Iranians.

Israeli intelligence sees the same thing that American intelligence does. The Israelis go to the Americans and say that they will strike if America does not. The American president not only refuses to strike Iran, but says tells Israel that if they do they will face serious consequences, up to and including a total cutoff of American aid.

At this point, three possible scenarios emerge

1) The Best Case

The American president assures Israel and the world that she has received "assurances" that Iran will not use it's nuclear weapons offensively. Faced with a cutoff of aid, Israel backs down and decides not to act.

Iran conducts a nuclear test. The Muslim world goes wild with approval.

However, Iran does not use it's weapons. Perhaps Ahmadinejad is no longer in power, the mullahs restrain him, or the prospect of a nuclear retaliatory strike by Israel gives them pause. Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia announce that to assure their security, they have started their own nuclear bomb programs. Other countries in the region hurry to ally themselves with someone who has or will soon have nuclear weapons and shows the desire to protect them. None approach the United States.

2) The Middle Case

Iran obtains nuclear weapons, and gives one to a terrorist organization. Because Israeli security is now unbelieveably tight, the terrorists are only able to sneak it up to the border. They detonate it there, which kills several tens of thousands of Arabs and Israelis (a ground blast being much less effective than an air burst). Muslims the world round go wild with joy, and excuse the death of so many fellow Muslims by saying that they are martyrs who are now assured a place in paradise.

World leaders, including the American president, urge Israel to "show restraint".

Because "only" one bomb is used, and they are facing so much pressure from the "world community" to "show restraint", Israel's response is limited to a retaliatory nuclear strike of a single nuclear weapon against iran, coupled with conventional attacks by its F-15s and F-16s. The Middle East goes nuts and everyone except for a few American conservatives (and 2 Belgiuns) blame Israel for it's "disproportionate response".

3) The Worst Case

As with the middle case scenario, this may develop in one of two ways. However, in the end the result will be the same.

The first way this begins is with a conventional Israeli strike, designed to take out Iran's nuclear facilities. Because Israel does not have the detailed intelligence that American assets can provide (the American president having refused to share), and because they do not have the quantity or quality of weapons that the Americans have, they are unable to signifiantly delay the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons. After one or two strikes international pressure is such that Israel backs down.

The second possibility is that Israel does not strike at all, and in a moment of weakness accepts assurances from the American president that she has received assurances from Iran that despite what they say publically every other day they will not actually use them. Assurances are everywhere.

Either way, Iran obtains nuclear weapons and begins to build up an arsenal. Because they have secretely obtained technical information from North Korea and Pakistan(the latter through scientists working independently from the government), they are able to mount a few on top of missiles.

Out of the blue Iran strikes Israel with over a dozen Shahab-4 missiles armed with nuclear weapons. Israel, on the alert, launches its Arrow II anti-missile missiles. Most incoming Shahabs are destroyed, but a few get through. Because Iran has targeted Israeli cities, losses are high, with three million Israelis become casualties almost instantly. Israel retaliates with nuclear armed Jericho 2 missiles, F-15s, as well as Popeye Turbo missiles fired from Dolphin-class submarines prepositioned in the Persian Gulf. Israel concentrates it's attacks on military targets, since it fears more attacks from Iran. Being a small country, Israel cannot absorb many blows, and 40% of it's population is already either dead or seriously injured. The Middle East goes nuts and everyone around the world except for a few American conservatives (and 2 Belgians) blame Israel.

In retirement at his ranch in Texas, George W Bush mutters that he wishes he'd struck Iran when he had the chance. A few American conservatives (and 2 Belgians) agree.