Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Iranian menace

So just what kind of threat does Iran pose to the United States, anyhow? The answer: None.

The "threat" of Iran providing weaons of mass destruction to terrorists is ludicrous. Iran already has chemical weapons (they used them against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, remember?) and has never provided them to any terrorist group. Furthermore, Iran has never shown any interest in pursuing terrorism outside of their own geo-political interests in the Middle East. They provide support to terrorists in Lebanon, but that's part of a regional geo-political conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran (both are striving for influence over Syria and Lebanon, and both of which are funding opposite sides in the Iraqi Civil War right now as part of that ongoing conflict). Their support of terrorism is pragmatic, rather than ideological, and is intended to prevent the Arab states from uniting behind Saudi Arabia against them, rather than based upon any desire to conduct "holy war".

Furthermore, a compact nuclear weapon capable of being hauled around in a briefcase requires sophisticated technology that Iran doesn't have. They could easily build a 1945-style uranium or plutonium bomb, once they have sufficient centrifuges going or get a nuclear reactor up. But those bombs are enormous. A B-29 had a payload of 20,000 pounds, and could carry one (1) of those bombs.

And finally, the Iranian ayatollahs have proven surprisingly pragmatic in the past. Providing a nuclear weapon to a terrorist organization would result in an immediate nuclear strike against all major cities in Iran, turning them into glowing rubble. The ayatollahs had no problem buying anti-tank weapons from the "Great Satan" during the Iran-Iraq War (the Iran-Contra deal, where the U.S. provided weapons to Iran in exchange for money which was then funneled to the Contras) when it was the pragmatic choice for countering Saddam's superior armored divisions and thereby maintaining their power. They like ruling Iran, and are not going to do something so obviously destructive as giving nuclear weapons to terrorists. We have almost 30 years of experience dealing with the Iranian ayatollahs now, and nothing in that time suggests that they would ever engage in such lunacy.

I think that, just as Iranian politicians talk up their military strength for political gain, other politicans talk up the Iranian threat for political gain. Which politicians those are, or why they believe talking up the Iranian threat is politically advantageous to them, is an exercise I leave to the reader.

-Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

2 comments:

  1. Badtux, you pegged it. We all know Mr Bush is just making the preliminary sounds of war to justify whatever he has in his mind.

    It may just be pre-positioning for negotiations, but somehow I don't think so. I really believe he sees an attack on Iran, including the use of nukes as the only way out of the political mess he's in here in the US.

    Now, al he needs is a provocation to justify what he's already decided to do, just the way 9/11 miraculously saved him from abysmal ratings and enabled him to take on Iraq, as he had planned to do since at least 1998.

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  2. Actually, I think that the emphasis on Iran is a smokescreen: it's clear that the risks are just too great, no matter how much Israel wants it. The real target will be Venezuala. It's a MUCH easier target; closer, weaker, with a VERY easily co-opted elite that hates Chavez, and its got oilOilOIL!!! I'll bet you that Venezuala is next.

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