Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Age

Regime change in Iran? Sorry guys but I don’t see this happening. America has shot its wad on regime change. We’re done. It has proved too expensive in every sense of the word for a solid majority of Americans. Even if the Europeans and the UN partner with us, we all know that their help is largely symbolic. Even if we do a better job than in Iraq, do it cheaper with fewer casualties, given Iran’s size and population we are talking about 5000 – 10,000 fatalities with tens of thousands wounded and a cost way up in the hundreds of billions. Run that scenario by your friends and neighbors and watch their reactions.

No president will go on TV and tell Americans that we are going to invade Iran, overthrow its government, and rebuild it as a participatory democracy. No president will tell the American people that we are going to invade Iran because they are about to build a nuclear weapon. If things had turned out differently in Iraq perhaps, but as it is, I am afraid that is politically impossible. We are not going to draft a million young Americans and send them to Iran. Anyone who thinks we are should seek medical attention.

Likewise with Israel. The Israelis may bomb Iran (I doubt it but they may) but they do not have the capacity for regime change. They know this. The best they can hope for is to strike the Natanz enrichment plant and delay the inevitable.

What about the countries after Iran? Venezuela? Malaysia? Sudan? Do we plan to invade each and every undemocratic country that can enrich uranium? Will Americans spend trillions of dollars and draft millions of people over the next generation just to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? I don’t know where you guys live or who your neighbors and coworkers are but in my city and among my neighbors and coworkers this is simply unthinkable. That my neighbor’s 10 year-old son would be drafted in 2014 and sent to war to stop Bangladesh from building the Bomb would be considered plain crazy-talk.

Americans are not strategic thinkers. They will fight to defend their country but not to preserve an international security framework of non-proliferation. That's just too abstract an argument to motivate most people. If Iran attacks us the vast majority of Americans will do whatever they can to defeat the attackers. But to attack a country of 70 million ten thousand miles away to prevent them from acquiring weapons that they might use to attack us years from now is asking too much of most people.

One day, maybe next summer or in two years, you will wake up on a normal Tuesday morning. You’ll take a hot shower and dress for work. You’ll let the dog out. You’ll make a nice cup of coffee; maybe have a cup of yogurt or a banana. You’ll turn on the TV to check the weather and traffic and the headline will slap you. You may have expected it in the back of your mind but, like the UK tube bombings, the details and timing will surprise you. “Iran Tests Nuclear Device.” Cut to the grainy video: somewhere out in the Persian wasteland, a still image of a brown landscape. And then, whumpf! Static cracks across the screen. The landscape rises, swelling from some sinister internal pressure, before settling back onto itself. All is quiet and still, as if nothing had happened.

Surprisingly the world will not have changed. You will still let the dog in, kiss your spouse and drive to work. A few people will be talking about it. But most will only be dimly aware of what happened and happily ignorant of what it means. They will be more interested in the latest sports scores or rumors of the Brad Pitt – Angelina Jolie breakup.

And the new age, which began tentatively in 1998, will be fully upon us: the Age of Proliferation.


Blogger WarrenJ said...

When Alexander the Great swept through the Middle East, he didn't mess around much with occupations--he kept his main force together and just kept moving forward, living off the land. This suggests a third option:

We go in and wreck the place, but we don't stick around to help clean up the mess.

Over 90% of the casualties in the Iraq War have occurred during the occupation. Thus, the lesson is that we should just skip the occupation.

What we do is shoot down every airplane in their air force, sink what's left of their navy, and then move in with half a dozen divisions and we'll cut through them like a hot knife through warm butter. If they try to stand and fight anywhere, they will be decimated by the Air Force. Let them send human waves like they did against Iraq all they want. That's the easiest tactic of all to deal with. It will only create a lot of Iranian widows.

We sweep throughout the country, including every major city, destroy every weapons facility in the country, capture or kill every mullah and every nuclear scientist we can find, destroy every tank, artillery piece, jeep, and every Ak-47 we can lay our hands on--and then we just leave, taking with us about 200,000 POW's, and we simply leave the Iranians to their own devices.

The whole operation from commencement until the last soldier drives back into Iraq and Afghanistan would be over in three months at the outside. Fatalities would be around 200-500.

Now, this probably will seem crazy at first, but consider the political fallout. The old regime WILL be shattered and scattered. Most government higher-ups will be dead or sent to Abu Graib. The progressives within Iran will justly be able to say that the mullahs brought on the invasion because of their insane hubris; meanwhile, the progressives could not be accused of collaborating with the Americans, because there will be no Americans to collaborate with. The defeat will actually be more humiliating than if we stayed because there would be no one to strike back at to exact revenge.

Eventually, a new government would form. Most likely, the new government would be sullen, but it would not be openly belligerant the way it is now. Most likely, they will cooperate, especially if the families of the Iranian POW's ever want to see their husbands and fathers again. Moreover, cooperation will be rewarded with reconstruction aid and trade.

And if ten years down the road, they start all over with their plans for the Bomb, well, we just do the blitzkrieg all over again. It's not like we haven't had reprise wars in the past (WWI-WWII, GWI-GWII). The cost in lives and dollars will be less than if we stayed and occupied the place for 10 years.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find Pakistan posessing nukes far more disturbing than Iran seeking or even making nukes.

Iran is all talk and has far more to lose than Pakistan, Pakistan isn't even a real nation-more like a coalition of tribes living in mud & brick huts.

11:59 AM  
Blogger The Thinker said...

It's true in what you say that the American people need to be attacked and slaughtered before they will agree to act wholesale. Pre-emption does not come naturally to Westerners. We are too pacifist for that. Unfortunately, that means we need to be nuked once before we act. That's the downside.

The new age will not come when we learn Iran has tested a bomb. The new age will come when you get up one morning and turn on CNN to find that Lower Manhattan is reeling from a nuclear blast, most of the buildings are gone, and an estimated 1 million are dead. That is when the "new age" begins.


4:44 AM  

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