Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Darkness At Noon: Iran's Bushehr Reactor Causes An Imminent Crisis


The recent decision by Russia to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant and bring it online within the week has provoked a major crisis for Israel and the West.

Obama's reset with the Russians and his 'unclenched fist' with Iran has merely shown them how weak and incoherent he really is.

As ex-UN Ambassador and proliferation expert John Bolton discussed yesterday in an interview with Frank Gaffney, nuclear fuel in Bushehr is a game changer because once the rods are installed, an attack on the facility would result in an unacceptable amount of civilian casualties because of the radiation.

What Bushehr is really about is giving the Mullahs a second track for nuclear weapons. Once the plant is online, not only can the enriched uranium can be easily reconverted into uranium hexafluoride gas and quickly enriched to weapons grade, but the Mullahs can use the nuclear fuel to chemically extract plutonium to produce their nuclear weapons as an alternative.

Bolton cites this as the reason for his opinion that if the Israelis are going to launch a strike, they have only a matter of days to do it. And he cites, correctly, Obama's pressure on Israel as a reason things have gotten to this point.

But there's another reason, and it has to do with the President taking his eye off the ball in Iraq. This is especially ironic considering his campaign rhetoric against his predecessor.

August 2010 is an important month in Iraq. It's the date when the last U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave the country, with 50,000 advisers and non-combat personnel remaining until 2011 according to the agreement we have with the Iraqis. Essentially, General Petraeus' surge strategy had the effect of ensuring that things are quiet enough at least at the moment that we can leave gracefully.

That was actually no small achievement, considering the cards General Petraeus was dealt.

When President Bush invaded Iraq, he described his version of victory in this way - A stable, self-governing, democratic Iraq that was an ally of America in what President Bush persisted in calling the War on Terror.

While we succeeded in ousting the Ba'athist regime, we also destabilized the balance of power in the Gulf. Iran had been held in check by Saddam Hussein, and with him out of the picture there was no other force in the Gulf capable of restraining the Mullahs, who were then freed up to exert their power in Lebanon, Gaza - and Iraq, where they sponsored, armed and trained the Shi'ite militias and their associated political figures like Moqtadeh al-Sadr in what became a sectarian civil war.

By putting more boots on the ground and by co-opting the Sunni chiefs with US arms, protection and a fair amount of money, General Petraeus managed to go after the Iranian Shi'ite militias to the point where the situation in Iraq was somewhat stabilized enough so that we could begin to leave gracefully even though none of the goals for victory President Bush outlined have been met.

Iraq at this point does not really have a government,months after the elections. What democracy exists is essentially tribalist in nature, and may very well fragment after we finally leave, with the Shi'tes already showing signs of going after the Sunnis and Kurds again. Iraq as it stands now is now a Shiite Islamic Republic based on sharia with a great deal of its leadership friendly to our enemies in Iran. In fact, the new governing coalition will likely be based on whom the Mullahs in Iran tell Moqtadeh al-Sadr to throw his weight behind. Iraq adheres religiously to a boycott of Israel that is against US law, and there has been open season under our watch on Iraq's Christians and on homosexuals, a story that rarely merits a mention in the dinosaur media. Finally, Iraq will no more be a 'ally ' of ours against our enemies than say, Saudi Arabia or Qatar. At best, they will be neutral. More likely,like Lebanon they will be part of the Iranian bloc with groups like the Mahdi Army and the Badr Force playing the role Hezbollah did in Lebanon.

I predicted this outcome a long time ago.

Barack Hussein Obama has taken a great deal of credit for that stability in Iraq, even though he did his disgraceful best as a senator to sabotage it, in between running for president. Now that he's in the Oval Office, his neglect of the situation directly relates to Obama's paralysis on Iran.

Rather than challenge Iran directly in the Middle East and build on the stability left him by the Bush Administration, Obama was content to keep pulling troops out to concentrate on his domestic agenda and on his belated attempt to live up to his campaign rhetoric by concentrating on Afghanistan, an adventure with far less benefit to America than Iraq.

The Iranians were fine with that, because it hastened their control of the game. Once America is out of the picture, Iran will be the dominant conventional power in the Gulf region. The US invasion destroyed the Iraqi army and government,the single check to Iranian power. During our occupation, because we refused to challenge Iran directly, because Obama ignored what was going on, Iran has been able to make sure that the Iraqi government and the military we created at such an enormous cost is something they can subvert and control.

At present, Iran is keeping the pot boiling but is not creating the havoc it could in Iraq through its allies and proxies because they want us gone, the sooner the better. But the quiet we're depending on in order to be able to leave is a hostage at this point to our doing nothing to stop them from going nuclear or exercising their power in the Gulf.

That's the key to understanding Barack Hussein Obama's paralysis on Iran.

Israel, of course is the wild card. Thanks to Obama, they're faced with an impossible choice. Either they take out Iran's nukes, eliminate a genocidal threat to their country and displease an American Administration that is already not friendly to Israel,or they do nothing and live under the threat of annihilation, either by Iran or by its terrorist proxies on their borders.

Upset an ally further whose already ill disposed towards you or live with the threat of genocide..it will be interesting to see what Netanyahu and Israel pick.

Of course, the US has the same dark choices, to double down in this war or to risk nuclear blackmail and terrorism. We simply don't realize it yet.

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Eagle said...

The way I see attacking Iran, If attacking Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake (which it was) then attacking Iran is a blunder...


Freedom Fighter said...

I appreciate what you're saying Eagle. But here's the difference.

Iraq definitely had the knowledge and the potential to become a threat to the US and the Ba'aath regime was a sponsor of Islamist terrorism ( including the first WTC bombing and possibly even Oklahoma City.

But they were not an imminent threat to the US.

However, they were an imminent threat to the Saudis and Gulf States, which is the real reason we went.

Afghanistan was never a threat at all, and without the Taliban and al-Qaeda's influence in Pakistan ( a true source of illegal nuclear proliferation and terrorism)was isolated.

Iran, however, is a major sponsor of Islamist terrorism,and armed with nuclear weapons IS an imminent threat.

And even now, we could deal with that threat without invading and without any farcical exercises in nation building, which is exactly what we should have done with Saddam.

It's how Rumsfeld and Cheny wanted to handle it, but they were overuled by the President, Colin Powell and CIA head George Tenant.


Right Truth said...

Rob, you say "... they [Iraq} were an imminent threat to the Saudis and Gulf States, which is the real reason we went."

Yet now we have the strange situation where Iran is the threat to the Saudis and Gulf States. Obama is more of a Saudi-lover than Bush ever thought about being. In not doing something about Iran's interference in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now with them going nuclear... Obama has let down his Saudi pals.

When Bush was in office, we were at least doing something about Iran's intrusion into Iraq. I don't think we are doing anything about it now.

As to Sadr. His goal was to become a high-up politician. When it was made clear to him that was not going to happen, he was sent off to Ayatollah school in Iran. His hopes now are to return and gain power in the clerical field rather than the political. (well, they are both intertwines I suppose, as they are in Iran)

Not knowing what kind of government will eventually emerge in Iraq, the future there is very questionable. Iran has the upper hand it seems.

Right Truth

Freedom Fighter said...

You're totally correct as usual, Deb.

As a matter of fact,after the famous bowing incident, King Abdullah reportedly had a sidebar with Zero in which he was quite critical about our Iran non-policy.

Obama simply put his foot in his big mouth, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. By saying that Iraq was the 'bad war' and pandering to his party by committing to getting the troops out ASAP, he put himself at the mercy of Iran, who hold the keys to him successfully fulfilling that.

By flapping his gums about Afghanistan being 'the good war' and beating his chest about how he was going to pursue it (unlike Bush, who after being misguided enough to go in settled for a reasonable amount of stability while he was concentrating on Iraq) he again put us at the mercy of the Mullahs, who, as you know, are helping the Taliban.

Unless something happens quickly, we will be faced with a nuclear Iran as the dominant power in the Gulf - thanks to Obama.

Bush may have been misguided to go into Iraq,occupy and then engage in nation building,but Obama compounded the error to the point of absurdity.