Monday, January 04, 2010

MAD and the Mullahs

This is a guest post by reader Marc:



Iran's about to go nuclear and possibly proliferate. Is war inevitable?

Depends. As is well known:
For almost half a century, the world's most powerful nuclear states have been locked in a military stalemate known as mutual assured destruction (MAD).
But could MAD deter those who believe that jihad and bloodshed are prerequisites for the return of the Mahdi and Islam's final victory? Seemingly not in the case of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, apparently committed to the Persian "rapture."

Yet, does Iran’s supposedly austere Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei actually believe that stuff? Maybe not, based on the inside look at Khamenei offered by a defector from the Supreme Leader's private guard, reported in a recent Daily Telegraph (U.K.). The defector -- supposedly hiding in France -- claims Khamenei:
has a voracious appetite for trout and caviar; is an avid hoarder of collectables from bejewelled pipes to fine horses; and that he suffers regular bouts of depression which are treated in part by audiences with a mid-ranking mullah who tells vulgar jokes.

Khamenei is said to be a keen collector with a prized assembly of antique walking sticks said to number 170. The Supreme Leader was once a fanatical equestrian enthusiast and his extensive stables reportedly include more than 100 of the country's leading horses. His cloaks are said to be woven from hair of specially bred camels.

Ayatollah Khamenei is claimed to have accumulated a sprawling private court that stretches across six palaces, including Naviran, the former resident of the Shah in Tehran. Two of the palaces -- Naviran and Valikabad -- are equipped with deep, reinforced concrete nuclear bunkers said to be capable of withstanding nuclear attack. A fully functioning hospital is overseen by a former health minister.
Of course, having a thing for caviar, bejewelled pipes and palaces doesn't prove Khamenei -- like Westerners -- prefers life: whatever Bin Laden's former lifestyle, Al Qaeda purports to love death. Still, Khamenei sounds like a man with lots to lose.

Yet, even were Realpolitik operative in Iran, MAD depends on a credible deterrent. Would the Supreme Leader believe any threat coming from a feckless and flaccid Obama administration?

6 comments:

O Bloody Hell said...

> Would the Supreme Leader believe any threat coming from a feckless and flaccid Obama administration?

Does a camel defecate in the arctic? Of course he would. If Obama threatened to hold his breath until he got what he wanted, I have no doubt it would strike immense terror into the hearts of Ahminajad and his cronies.

MaxedOutMama said...

All I know is that I'm scared.

Marc said...

The second Iraq war happened in large part because Saddam Hussein didn't believe Bush would attack.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/24/60minutes/main3749494_page4.shtml

O Bloody Hell said...

> The second Iraq war happened in large part because Saddam Hussein didn't believe Bush would attack.

Thanks to his predecessor's excellent work in Rwanda, which was also part of the reason why Al Queda didn't believe there would be repercussions, either.

Geoffrey said...

Iran is NOT going to directly attack the US or Israel.

When and if Iran attacks, it will be indirectly through Al Qaeda for America and through Hezbollah with Israel.

Iran might be stupid enough to attempt to close off the Strait of Hormuz.

If Iran seizes the Strait, it places an economic stranglehold on the west, most especially the US. We cannot economically survive that circumstance because it would create too great a rise in the world price of oil and our economy is intertwined too deeply with world currencies and other country's economies to survive a massive price hike.

We would have no choice but to confront the Iranians militarily and, if they have nukes, conventional attack is a non-starter. In an armed confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz, if Russia militarily backed Iran...

As the start of WWI demonstrated, stupidity can lead to uncontrollable escalation resulting in major armed confrontation.

Russia is playing a very dangerous game. One that could easily get out of hand and if they think that they can control the Iranian jackal, they are deluded.

Because it doesn't depend upon circumstance, the real, possibly inescapable danger for us with Iran getting nukes is the inevitable long term consequence of greatly increased nuclear proliferation.

Within a decade after Iran goes nuclear, nuclear proliferation will almost certainly explode across the Middle East.

There is also a high probability that in the following decade nuclear proliferation will spread into Asia and South America.

The great danger is nukes getting into the hands of terrorists.

In a world where multiple, unstable third-world nations have nukes...terrorists will almost certainly acquire them and then, they will use them.

At that point our choices will be quite stark; fight or flight.

If flight, we will attempt to create 'Fortress America' but will inescapably end up with Fortress Amerika under near-permanent martial law.

If we fight, it will turn Mecca into a glass parking lot because the only way to defeat a terrorist network with nukes is the Roman way; a Carthage, salt-the-earth campaign, that destroys the cultural infrastructure supporting Radical Islam.

In either case, it will exact the payment of a very heavy price from us.

O Bloody Hell said...

> Iran is NOT going to directly attack the US or Israel.

When and if Iran attacks, it will be indirectly through Al Qaeda for America and through Hezbollah with Israel.


I believe you are true that there may be an attempt to claim plausible deniability through such an action, but nukes are kind of particular in how they get made. It will almost certainly be possible to identify through technical means what country was the source of the nuke. That dog won't hunt.

But for what it's worth, yeah, if we can't do The Right Things in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, then I believe your assessment is correct -- the ME is going to be resurfaced with radioactive glass in wide areas.