Powered by WebAds

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bipartisan panel urges Obama to prepare military option for Iran

Daniel R. Coats, Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald, a former Republican Senator, a former Democratic Senator and a retired general and air commander in Operation Enduring Freedom, respectively, urge President Obama to show that the United States is ready, willing and able to use a military option against Iran.
It is critical that Mr. Obama use the upcoming special session of the U.N. Security Council and the G-20 summit to marshal support for a robust strategy aimed at preventing both Iranian nuclear-weapons capability and an Israeli strike. This new strategy needs to begin with the imposition of expanded and more effective sanctions on Iran's banking and energy sectors, as well as on companies that do business with them. Congress is already considering legislation to this effect. While its enactment would send a political signal to Tehran, such sanctions are unlikely to have much economic effect on Iran without international cooperation.

Given Iran's shortening nuclear timetable and diplomatic challenges for forging an international consensus on sanctions, we urge Mr. Obama simultaneously to begin preparations for the use of military options. Now is the time for the president to reinforce his commitment to "use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," as he stated in February. We believe only a credible U.S. military threat can make possible a peaceful solution.

By showing that he has not taken the military option off the table, Mr. Obama may also be able to convince Israel to forgo a unilateral military strike while forcing Tehran to recognize the costs of its nuclear defiance. Furthermore, making preparations now will enable the president, should all other measures fail to bring Tehran to the negotiating table, to use military force to retard Iran's nuclear program. We do not downplay the risks of this option and recognize its complications, but we do believe it to be a feasible option of last resort.
Read the whole thing.

Are Coats, Robb and Wald correct that President Obama ought to prepare a credible military option? Of course they are. Will President Obama's preparing a military option prevent an Israeli attack on Iran? Possibly, but just as possibly not. Here's why.

First, Israelis doubt that President Obama really has the you-know-what to attack Iran. A credible military option requires more than just a loaded gun - it requires a demonstrable willingness to use it. Two weeks ago, President Obama sent yet another fawning letter to Ayatollah Khameni. That's not the mark of a man who is willing to take military action.

Second, it is doubtful that expanded and more effective sanctions will be implemented, or if implemented whether they will be effective. Russia and China have already announced their opposition. Even if such sanctions are implemented, it is doubtful that they can be enforced. But one delaying tactic that Iran could conceivably adopt is to ask its Russian and Chinese allies to agree to sanctions provided that some period of time (six months?) is given for them to work during which the United States will not pursue a military option. Would President Obama agree to a deal like that? You bet he would. But the Israelis would not.

Third, the United States has now concluded that Iran could sprint to the finish line and produce a nuclear weapon. That's the import of US ambassador to the IAEA Glyn Davies' statement earlier this week about Iran being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Given that Israel believes the threat is much more urgent than the United States believes, and given that Israel is likely Iran's first target, it is highly unlikely that Israel will stand down militarily even if it believes that the United States is attempting to put a credible military option on the table. Israel is not going to entrust its security to the United States or anyone else.
It is unclear how many months — or even years — it would take Iran to complete that final design work, and then build a warhead that could fit atop its long-range missiles. That question has been the subject of a series of sharp, behind-the-scenes exchanges between the Israelis and top American intelligence and military officials, dating back nearly two years and increasing in intensity in recent months.

The American position is that the United States and its allies would probably have considerable warning time if Iran moved to convert its growing stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel to make it usable for weapons.


But Israel draws more dire pictures from the same set of facts. In classified exchanges with the United States, it has cited evidence that the design effort secretly resumed in 2005, at the order of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. American officials say that the evidence is circumstantial, and point out that the Israelis have not produced a copy of the order they say Ayatollah Khamenei gave.

”We’re all looking at the same set of facts,” said one senior Israeli intelligence official, who, like others interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence-gathering. “We are interpreting them quite differently than the White House does.”

At the core of the dispute is the “breakout capacity” that Mr. Davies referred to on Wednesday in his first presentation as ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog. The phrase refers to a non-nuclear nation’s ability to acquire enough fuel and expertise to be able to complete building an actual weapon relatively quickly.

The Israelis have argued that there could be little or no warning time — especially if Iran has hidden facilities — and they contended that in the aftermath of Iraq, American intelligence agencies were being far too cautious in assessing Iran’s capability.


The official American estimate is that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015, probably later rather than sooner. Meir Dagan, the director of the Mossad, Israel’s main spy agency, told the Israeli Parliament in June that unless action was taken, Iran would have its first bomb by 2014, according to an account in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli officials have confirmed.


Despite Mr. Dagan’s public comments, most Israeli officials believe that Iran could create a bomb much more quickly. They cite the murky evidence surrounding two secret programs in Iran, Project 110 and Project 111. Those are the code names for what are believed to be warhead-design programs run by an academic, Mohsen Fakrizadeh.

Iran has never allowed Mr. Fakrizadeh to be interviewed. But international inspectors have shown videos and documents suggesting that his group has worked on nuclear triggers, trajectories for missiles and the detonation of a warhead at almost 2,000 feet above ground — which would suggest a nuclear detonation. On Wednesday, Iran again said this evidence consisted of “forgeries” and “fabrications.”

Israeli officials say privately that the Obama administration is deluding itself in thinking that diplomacy will persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. The Obama administration says it believes that Iran is on the defensive — fearful of more crippling sanctions and beset by internal turmoil. But even inside the White House, some officials think Mr. Obama’s diplomatic effort will prove fruitless.
The time for diplomacy is over. A very limited time for strong sanctions might exist, but the chances of their being effective are remote. And while Israel would likely welcome a credible American military threat, it is highly doubtful it will rely on an American strike to deal with Iran.

President Obama has been in office for nearly eight months and has done nothing but bow to Arab and Muslim leaders and beg them to 'engage' with him. He may yet go down in history as a bigger surrender monkey than Neville Chamberlain.

What could go wrong.


At 5:18 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

"Israelis doubt that President Obama really has the you-know-what to attack Iran."

It isn't about kohones. It's about world view. It's about peace poles and kumbayah.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

There is a new reality in the U.S.; The U.S. stood with Israel in the past because we had shared ideals - democracy and freedom. That's not the case anymore.

At 11:29 PM, Blogger chilakiller said...

To Kae Gregory:

so you think the U.S. doesnt have within hes ideals democracy and freedom? cause u must be refering to the U.S., since israel has done everything he can do, to honor those same ideals.

sorry for the writting.


Post a Comment

<< Home