Sunday, December 14, 2008

Israel And Iran; Closer To The Edge

There were a number of interesting developments on this front during the past week.

It's been confirmed that Iran has finally closed the deal for the advanced SA-20 air defense systemswith Russia and is contracted to receive them during the coming months.

The mullahs have been dickering with Putin for a long time to get the SA-20 batteries to Iran, and it looks like they finally succeeded...something that's also a comment on how Putin and Russia perceive the incoming Obama administration.

Once it's operational, the SA-20 is likely to change the equation for both the U.S. and Israel.

Russia is still denying this, but the Pentagon has confirmed it. Russia is quite capable of using Byelorussia as a shipping address, allowing the Russians to deny any direct involvement.

While it could take a great deal of time for Iranian crews to get competant iun handling the new SA-20, the Russian deal will likely include training support and Russian crews to operate the system while the Iranian crews are training,which means Iran would have operational use of the system as soon as it's in place, without any lag time:

The SA-20, and even more so the SA-21 Growler (S-400) which is now entering service, pose an increasing problem for mission planners using conventional strike aircraft. While low observable aircraft offer greater latitude for operations, they are not totally immune to air defenses.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 with its all-aspect, -40 dBsm radar cross-section signature can operate within the engagement envelope of the SA-20 and SA-21. But the Lockheed Martin F-35 with its -30 dBsm signature, which is not all-aspect stealth, is at greater risk. The rear quadrant of the F-35, particularly around the tailpipe area, is not as stealthy as the F-22.

The Northrop Grumman B-2, because of its aging stealth design, also has limitations in the amount of time it can spend within the range of double-digit systems since small signature clues can become cumulative and offer a firing solution. The U.S.’s next-generation bomber program is aimed at developing a low-observable platform capable of operating irrespective of the threat from systems of the SA-21 class.

More capable point defense systems – that would likely be used to protect SA-20 sites, for example – are also being introduced into the region. Syria is getting the SA-22 Greyhound (KBP Pantsyr), which uses a vehicle-mounted combination of cannon and missiles intended to provide defense against aircraft, helicopters, precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles.

Not only does this change things for the Israelis, but for any US plans to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat as well.

In that context,Obama's reported offer to place Israel under America's 'nuclear umbrella' looks troubling in several respects, regardless of the spirit in which it may have been offered.

Implicit in this is the Obama administration's apparent acceptance of a nuclear armed Iran..which is dangerous both for the Israelis and for the United States.In case anyone's forgotten, America has Hezbollah cells here at home, as Steve Emerson has written about at length.

From a US standpoint, mullahs with nukes are dangerous. From an Israeli standpoint, a nuclear armed Iran is an imminent and genocidal threat, particularly with Iran's Hamas and Hezbollah proxies right next door.

Not only that, but it also gives rise to speculation about whether part of the intent is to constrain Israel from a pre-emptive strike. Israel, after all, has the largest nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, with multiple delivery platforms and an estimated 300 warheads.

And even more importantly, Israel has second strike capacity.

If an Iranian sneak attack were to hit Israel, the IDF would retain the capacity to hit back at Iran, not only from the air but from Israel's nuclear armed Dolphin -class submarines.

The Israeli warheads are much more powerful and potent than anything Iran is likely to have available, and would inflict far more damage and casualties against a lot more targets than an Iranian first strike, assuming that first strike got through and even in the unlikely event if managed to destroy a percentage of Israel's widely dispersed aircraft and nuclear sites. A nuclear strike on Iran's oilfields, for instance, which are concentrated near the Persian Gulf would have the effect of making the Islamic Republic an economic basket case for decades...and that's not even considering the human and financial effect of an Israeli strike on a teeming city like Tehran.

Another important point to consider is that Obama still appears to assume that he is dealing with rational actors.

During the Cold War, the doctrine of MAD ( mutually assured destruction)was undoubtedly responsible for easing both parties back from the brink a few times..and I would venture to guess that this was particularly true of the Soviets, both because they realized exactly how far behind the West they were in this area and because they had experienced what the total destruction of a war on their soil was really like within living memory.

As I've pointed out more than once, Iran, pervaded by the Shiite twelver sect with its built in sado-masochistic embrace of 'martyrdom' and its faith in the Hidden Imam taking over the world for Dar Islam after an apocalypse is not only undeterred by the idea of mutually assured destruction but may actually welcome it.

The Ayatollah Khomeini himself, father of Iran's Islamic Revolution made that clear when he said that he was 'willing to have Iran burn' if it advanced Islam.

In other words, we're not dealing with people one can reason with here, in the way it's commonly understood here in the West.

Obama may have begun to realize that himself.

Earlier this week, he said he would offer Iran economic incentives for abandoning its nuclear weapons program...with the 'or else' that if that approach fails, he plans to work to intensify sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Iranians ( who seem to have a pretty good idea of whom they're dealing with) promptly replied back, telling Obama his 'cowboy talk' was pure BS as far as they were concerned:

“These comments resemble those of old American cowboys. If you have something to say about (Iran’s) nuclear issue, just say so. Why wave a stick,” asked Mr Larijani, in a speech in Qazvin province.

“The new US president has said he wants to pressure Iran since it seeks to produce atomic weapons and because it supports the terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah,” he added.

“We are proud of supporting Hezbollah since they are defending their homeland and you are wrong in calling them terrorists.”

Notice Larijani didn't deny that Iran was seeking nukes....

It seems a cowboy's work is never done..

President-elect Obama is sort of in the same place as the dog who chased a car for a long distance and finally caught it. The problem, of course, is then you have to figure out what exactly you're going to do with it now that you've caught it.

Considering that neither incentives nor sanctions haven't worked against Iran in the least and are unlikely to work in the future it's worth noting that Obama and his advisers still haven't let us in on what's going to happen when Tehran rejects those incentives and the sanctions don't work. Or what will happen if Iran does what Kim Jong-Il and the North Koreans did, taking advantage of all those economic carrots and just taking their nuclear program further underground. What happens when Obama and his team find out they've been suckered?

And what exactly will these security guarantees to Israel be worth then?

Far better to allow the Israelis to defend themselves, I think..particularly since they're going to be forced to do so anyway.

And in terms of politics, Obama might consider that the American public would be far more supportive of the US looking the other way or even clandestinely assisting Israel in dealing with the mullahs then they would be of getting into a nuclear war 'for Israel' - which is why the Israelis themselves have always taken pains to avoid any direct US involvement in protecting their country.


Anonymous said...

"...because they realized how far behind the West they were in this area." Actually that's not true. American prowess and power in the world has often been exagerated. This is necessary. If America's enemies over state the power of America, it makes easier to vilify it. While the media has not always been directly supportive of enemy propaganda efforts, they have done nothing or very little to actually counter this and too often the American government has been asleep at the wheel while this was going on.

The truth is throughout most of the Cold War the Soviets enjoyed a lop-sided lead over the Aemricans in virtually every area. The only thing that kept Aemrica and the West alive and free was the nuclear deterrent. Without the nuclear deterrent Soviet Russia would have very easily defeated Aemrica and Western Europe.

Even today Russia enjoys a lop sided edge in almost every area over Aemrica and the West. The only thing keeping Russia in check is an aging Aemrican nuclear arsenal. If we are going to stay competetive, we need to develop a new generation of nuclear war heads and ICBMS and we will need to dramatically increase our human intellegence capabilities.

Keeping competitive with Russia may mean the difference between whether our country survives or not. In order to do so, we will need to rethink how we think about nuclear weapons. For example when a politician or want to be politician talks about working to rid the world of nuclear weapons or about decreasing Aemrica's nuclear arsenal, he or she gets wild applause from the audience. It is going to be impossible to rid the world of nuclear weapons. We should be expanding and upgrading our arsenal. Right now our nuclear weapons arsenal is the only thing keeping our country free. Our enemies have vastly superior conventional weapons, better human intellegence, and their troops are better trained and better led than ours.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Poster,
We've had this conversation me, the Russian military during the Cold War was no great shakes, which is why they backed off everytime they were forcefully confronted.

The same is true today.

The thing to look at is not the hi-tech toys and military porn they advertise, but at how the average typical Russian unit is equipped in the field...with mostly antiquated and poor condition weapons and equipment, except for a handful of elite units.

A number of military obswervers have remarked on this.

Another weak point is logistics. The Russian army had to spend weeks putting together enough units to invade neighboring Georgia with its relatively weak military..and they sharea land border withthem and already had a number of troops in the region because of Chechnya.

Our guys could have been in position an dready to rockn'roll in 72 hours.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for the reply to my post. You are right. We have had this conversation before and we will probably have it again. Actually this is kind of fun. It would not be any fun, if we agreed on every thing now would it?:)

I don't know where exactly the Russians ever backed off. America has. For example in the Cuban missle crisis Russia agreed to remove their missles and in exchange Aemrica agreed not to attack Cuba. Russia removed nuclear missles. Russian nuclear missles on the Russian main land or launched from nuclear submarines were/are just as much an existential threat to America as missles launched from Cuba would be. Russia essentially gave up nothing. By agreeing never to attack to Cuba the US has been forced to live with a perpetual thorn in its side all of these years. MASSIVE ADVANTAGE to Russia here.

The high tech toys and military porn you reference here are the most advanced weapons systems on earth. This is not somehting to be taken lightly. Russia is rapidly upgrading their military. America does not seem to be introducing new weapons or weapons systems to the battlefield. At least we are not doing so at the rate that Russia is.

I admit that I could be over estimating Russian conventional capabilities. I think Russia's highly advanced nuclear arsenal and its first rate intellegence service negates any conventional military edge that America may have.

While it is likely true that Russia spent many weeks and probably months planning the invasion of Georgia, as I do not believe the Russian propaganda that Georgia started the fight. We don't even have the troops available to launch an invasion of any one right now. Our troops are a little busy in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and elsewhere.

Givne that the troops are not available, there seems to be no way that we could launch an invasion of a country like Georgia comparable to the one that Russia launched within 72 hours. The troops to do it are unavailable. It would likely take several months and possibly a year or more. The troops would first need to be drafted and trained. Last but not least the American public will not approve of additional military deployments over seas. As such, the Russians pulled off an invasion of Georgia that the Aemricans would be unable to duplicate within 72 hours or many moths for that matter.

To[ Pentagon officials recently shrugged off Russian military manuvers in the Caribean and South America. In my opinion, these military officials should be fired for gross negligence. But perhasp America does not wish to be a major world power. If this is the case, such moves by Russia can possibly be ignored. What does seem clear is if Aemrica does wish to remain a major world power it must find a way to counter these moves and others made by the Russians. In order to do this, America must find a way to close the massive military gap that Russia has opened up between themselves and the Americans.

Btw, the beauty of the resolution to the Cuban missle crisis is both sides get to save face even the reality of it is Russia won handily.

Freedom Fighter said...

Here are some instances in which the Soviets backed off ( and their are many) The 1973 Yom Kippur War (the Soviets threatened a military strike at Israel and were warned off by Nixon), Grenada, Helsinki when Reagan walked out on them, the US installing MIRV misslies in Europe under Reagan, Greece and Turkey in the 1950's, their threat to invade Poland to destroy the solidarity movement, our involvement in Korea, the Russian threat to get involved in Chile after their man Allende was I said, almost every time they were forcefully confronted..which doesn't include the Cuban Missile Crisis, as far as I'm concerned.


Anonymous said...


Again thanks for the replies to my post. I'm going to need to do some research on the instances you mention.

"...after their man allende was assainated." If we listened to the main stream media all of the time as our sole source of information we would think that the US is the only country to ever support corrupt foreign leaders when it served their interests.

Of course you and I know the media has fed us a line of bull over the years on that. Of course if he is an American ally, he is called "puppet." If he is a Russian ally the media calls him a "patriot."

The Allende situation also indicates that Russia has always been trying to gain a foothold in Central and South America. Their current actions seem to be nothing new other than the fact that their current actions have been highly successful. Russia now has more influence in South and Central America than America does!! The Russian presence in this region also goes way beyond America's presence in former Soviet Republics and the Russian presence has gone on much longer and it would likely continue even if Aemrica withdraws from these areas and allows Russia to re establish a de facto Soviet Union. The notion that Russia is only doing what it is in response to an American action is a bold faced lie and the media has allowed them to get away with it and has even assisted them in some ways.