Tag Archives: atomic weapons

John Bolton reveals a serious threat to America

Summary:  Thirty years ago (when the first stories of Iran’s nukes appeared) the great science fiction writer David Gerrold published his series about the invasion of the Chtorr (still unfinished, 4 books out, the first 2 are excellent). In its back-story the US nuked another nation, sparking a global alliance against us as a dangerous rogue hegemon. It’s a likely scenario, given our first use of nukes and cyberwar and our many invasions of other nations. Our leaders work to make it happen.  A little bad luck and they will get their way.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Flames

An op-ed in today’s New York Times shows what might be the greatest threat to America: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” by John R. Bolton. It’s another volley in the well-funded multi-decade propaganda campaign to involve America in an endless series of foreign wars, a program that no series of failures and revealed lies can derail. Let’s review the high points.

… the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking. Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.

Bolton’s acknowledgement that there is no proof is the only fact in this essay. He offers no evidence of the “widespread acknowledgement” about the 2007 NIE. Bolton’s statement about Clapper’s testimony is incorrect since he does not say that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program”, let alone that it’s “progressing” (international agreements allow Iran — like other nations — to have a civilian nuclear program). Clapper said:

Continue reading

Reviewing Netanyahu’s performance before Congress: 1st class fear-mongering!

Summary: The Prime Minister of Israel spoke to Congress today. Most of his speech defies analysis for logic or fact; it was first class propaganda. As such it is perfectly suited for review by Twitter; some gems appear here. For those of you who prefer facts, see the posts at the end. As usual these days in US public policy, so much of what we’re told is false.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Say "no" to fearmongering

Reviewing today’s fear-mongering by the Prime Minister of Israel

Continue reading

The Obama Doctrine: we will attack and destroy all non-nuclear rivals

Summary:  Obama announced a new grand strategy for America, and we didn’t notice (being in a deep stupor).  It’s a logical evolution of our increasingly aggressive strategy since 9-11.  It’s almost certain to end badly for us.  Today Tom Engelhardt explains the path our leaders have put us on.  Listen and you can hear the rapids in the distance.

.

Today’s guest post:  “War as the President’s Private Preserve – Obama Breaks New Ground When It Comes to War With Iran
By Tom Engelhardt, originally published at TomDispatch, March 2012 — Reposted with the author’s generous permission.

Contents

  1. The Obama Doctrine
  2. The Power of Precedents
  3. War and the Presidential “I”
  4. About the author
  5. For more information

(1)  The Obama Doctrine

When I was young, the Philadelphia Bulletin ran cartoon ads that usually featured a man in trouble — dangling by  his fingers, say, from an outdoor clock.  There would always be people  all around him, but far too engrossed in the daily paper to notice.  The  tagline was: “In Philadelphia, nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.”

Those ads came to mind recently when President Obama commented  forcefully on war, American-style, in ways that were remarkably  radical.  Although he was trying to ward off a threatened Israeli  preemptive air strike against Iran, his comments should have shocked  Americans — but just about nobody noticed.

I don’t mean, of course, that nobody noticed the president’s  statements.  Quite the contrary: they were headlined, chewed over in the  press and by pundits.  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich attacked them.  Fox News highlighted their restraint.  (“Obama calls for containing Iran, says ‘too much loose talk of war.’”)  The Huffington Post highlighted the support for Israel they represented. (“Obama Defends Policies  Toward Israel, Fends Off Partisan Critiques.”)  Israeli Prime Minister  Netanyahu pushed back against them in a potentially deadly U.S.-Israeli  dance that might bring new chaos to the Middle East.  But somehow, amid  all the headlines, commentary, and analysis, few seemed to notice just  what had really changed in our world.

The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against  this country and a new war doctrine to go with it.  He would, he  insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking  us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a  nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable  of targeting the United States.  That should have been news.

Consider the most startling of his statements: just before the  arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, the  president gave a 45-minute Oval Office interview to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.  A prominent pro-Israeli writer, Goldberg had  produced an article in the September issue of that magazine headlined “The Point of No Return.”  In it, based on interviews with “roughly 40 current and past Israeli  decision makers about a military strike,” he had given an Israeli air  attack on Iran a 50% chance of happening by this July.  From the recent  interview, here are Obama’s key lines:

Continue reading

Where to go for information about our conflict with Iran, and why you should understand what’s happening

Summary:  Our conflict with Iran is complex, multidimensional, with deep roots in history.  On the FM website we’ve provided a series of posts examining aspects of this conflict, each with summaries (and links) to primary sources and expert analysis.  This is especially important since so much of what the mainstream media report is incorrect or misleading. Here are the full series of reports.  This information can help us understand how we got here, our choices, the nature of global conflict in the 21st century — and most of all, provide lessons so that we don’t repeat these mistakes.

Past predictions of an atomic Iran

  1. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)?, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran, including aid to terrorists
  2. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
  3. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 2 January 2010 — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984

About Iran

Continue reading

Status report on the war with Iran (we’re ignorantly drifting into yet another illegal war)

Summary: We’re marching towards a war. Like our other wars this past decade, an ill-considered conflict based mostly on lies. Wars being among the most uncertain things in life, this might be larger, more expensive, and more painful than our other wars  since 9-11. Take a deep breath while reading this post and consider what we’re doing. Only our passivity and implicit support for the hawks driving US foreign policy makes these wars possible. As such we’ll fully deserve the consequences, for good or for ill.  This is the tenth post in this series. Links at the end go to the previous chapters and to other reliable sources of information and analysis about this war.

A lie will fly around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.
— Attributed to Mark Twain

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
— Attributed to George Orwell

Contents

  1. The latest attack on Iran, in violation of the laws American laid down after WWII
  2. Again, as we did with Iraq, we’ve unknowingly taken the critical step towards war
  3. Can we take out Iran’s nuke facilities?  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs answers.
  4. What are the likely results of our conflict?
  5. The winners so far:  Turkey and Iran
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For more information: articles discussing the current conflict between Iran and US-Israel
  8. Other posts about attacking Iran

(1)  The latest attack on Iran, in violation of the laws American laid down

These assassinations and sabotage are acts of war.  Illegal, as the UN Security Council has not authorized actions against Iran.  Nor has the International Atomic Energy Agency made definitive charges against Iran (just carefully worded and poorly documented “concerns”).  We’re pissing on the work of several generations of Americans and our allies in and after WWII.  They boldly took the first small steps away from a world of mindless violence — towards one of collective security governed by standards and laws.  And now we’re turning back.

So far Iran has shown commendable restraint.  If they hit back, they will the ones acting in accord with the UN Charter.  We will be the criminals.  Many Americans will rejoice at that, an indicator of our descent from what we were — into a pit, with no bottom yet visible.  Now let’s look at the latest attack on Iran.

From the FARS News Agency

(a)  Terrorists Kill Commerce Deputy of Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Site“, FARS News Agency, 11 January 2012:

An Iranian university professor and deputy director at Natanz enrichment facility was killed in a terrorist bomb blast in a Northern Tehran neighborhood on Wednesday morning. The magnetic bomb which was planted by an unknown motorcyclist under the car of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, a professor at Tehran’s technical university, also wounded two other Iranian nationals in Seyed Khandan neighborhood in Northern Tehran.

Ahmadi Roshan, 32, was a graduate of oil industry university and a deputy director of Natanz uranium enrichment facility for commercial affairs.

Continue reading

What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told.

Summary:  We’re driven to war like sheep herded by dogs, both sheep and us manipulated by fear.  Today we’re driven to war by fear of what a nuke-armed Iran will do, as described by our ever-hawkish geopolitical experts.  How reliable are their forecasts?  Ninth in a series; at the end are links to the other chapters.

Contents

  1. Could Iran use nukes to increase its geopolitical influence?
  2. Iran could use nukes for defense
  3. The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran
  4. Is Iran weak or strong?
  5. Is Iran irrational and anti-American?
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For more information: articles discussing our attempts to stop Iran’s progress towards nukes
  8. Other posts about Iran’s nuke program

(1)  Could Iran use nukes to increase its geopolitical influence?

Paul Pillar examines the ways Iran could use nukes:  “Iran’s Nuclear Oats“, Paul R. Pillar (former National Intelligence Officer), The National Interest, 29 September 2011 — Excerpt:

The alarmism about the prospect of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is unmatched by any comparably intense attention to exactly why such a possibility is supposedly so dire. Among the voluminous opinion pieces, panel discussions, campaign rhetoric, and miscellaneous outcries on facets of this subject, one could search in vain for any detailed analysis of just what difference the advent of an Iranian nuke would make. Most of the discourse on the topic simply seems to take as a given, not needing any analysis, that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be so bad that to prevent it warrants considering even extreme measures

Recently Ash Jain of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy produced what appears to fill this gap. His monograph, titled “Nuclear Weapons and Iran’s Global Ambitions: Troubling Scenarios,” is, at least on the face of it, a serious effort to analyze the regional and global consequences of Iranian nuclear weapons. It is the most extensive consideration of this question I have seen from anyone who clearly believes that an Iranian nuke would be very bad. As such, Jain deserves credit for taking this stab at the subject. As a serious, extensive effort, his paper can be taken as demonstrating the limits of any case about the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

What happens when a nation gets nukes? Sixty years of history suggests an answer.

Summary:  The drive for war comes from hawks’ terrifying forecasts of what a nuke-armed Iran will do.  Similar warnings were made in the past about today’s nuclear powers.  What does history tell us?  Eight in a series; at the end are links to the other chapters.

“The US is almost certain to be the first superpower to need to launch strategic weapons (particularly if not exclusively, in response to some galloping disaster in Europe).”
— Colin S. Gray (strategy expert, Hudson Institute), letter to the New York Times, 11 October 1977

Contents

  1. They’ll use nukes!  (“they” = our enemy due jour)
  2. The history of nukes — risky but so far a stabilizing force
  3. Examples:  India/Pakistan, North Korea
  4. Other posts in this series
  5. For more information
  6. Other posts about Iran

(1)  They’ll use nukes!  (“they” = our enemy due jour)

A commonplace of the atomic era are warnings by hawks that our enemy due jour will attack first with nukes (ignoring that our behavior was often equally aggressive).  This simple if baseless technique kept hysteria high during the Cold War.  For an example of confident wild guessing of that period see “Why the Soviet Union thinks it could fight and win a nuclear war“, Richard Pipes (Prof Russian History at Harvard), Commentary, July 1977.

Similar warnings about Iran do the same today.  But the Soviet Union was a large power wielding terrifying weapons whose application nobody understood.  Now we repeat that history, but with a small and poor nations — whose conventional military power is inferior to Israel’s, and nothing compared to ours.

(2)  The history of nukes — risky, but so far a stabilizing force

(a)  Nuclear Weapons as a stabilizing element

Despite the hawks warnings, some geopolitical experts saw that nuclear weapons would limit war.  One of the first was Bernard Brodie in The Absolute Weapon (1946).  And so it has proven to be, as he explained in “The development of nuclear strategy“, International Strategy, Spring 1978:

The notion that in an extremely tense crisis, which may include an ongoing theater war, any useful purpose is likely to be served by firing off strategic nuclear weapons, however limited in number, seems vastly to underestimate both the risks to the nation and the burden upon the person who must make the decision.  Divorced from consideration of how human beings actually behave in a crisis, it fits Raymond Aron’s definition of “strategic fiction”, analogous to “science fiction.”

(b)  Fears that other nations (not us) will use nukes irrationally

The claims that Iran will irrationally use the bomb repeat similar fears concerning China, India, and Pakistan.  Martin van Creveld describes the actual history of nukes (so far) in the conclusion to Nuclear Proliferation and the Future of Conflict (1993):

Nevertheless there seems to be no factual basis for the claims that regional leaders do not understand the nature and implications of nuclear weapons; or that their attitudes to those weapons are governed by some peculiar cultural biases which make them incapable of rational thought; or that they are more adventurous and less responsible in handling them than anyone else.

… An even more critical reason why regional leaders tend to be at least as careful in handling nuclear weapons as those of the superpowers is the fact that many of these countries are quite small, adjacent to each other, and no separated by any clear natural borders; often they share the same local weather systems and draw their water fro the same river basin.

… Much of the literature on proliferation appears to be distorted, ethnocentric, and self-serving.  it operates on the principle of beati sunt possedentes (blessed are those who are in possession); like the treaties to which it has given rise, its real objective is to perpetuate the oligopoly of the “old” nuclear powers.  To this end regional powers and their leaders have been described as unstable, culturally biased, irresponsible, and what-not.  To this end weapons seen as stabilizing in the hands of the great powers were suddenly described as destabilizing when they spread to other countries.

In practice, the leaders of medium and small powers alike tend to be extremely cautious with regard to the nuclear weapons they possess — the proof being that, to date, in every region where these weapons have been introduced, large-scale interstate warfare has disappeared. … This has been true even when the weapons have been few in number; even when delivery vehicles and methods of command and control were comparatively primitive; even when very great asymmetries existed in the forces of both sides; and even when the entire process was covert rather than overt.

… the virtual disappearance of large-scale interstate warfare from the regions in question does not mean that they are going to be free of armed conflict … The rise in these regions of Low Intensity Conflict represents the sound tactician’s response to nuclear proliferation.  If one cannot bear one’s enemy in a straightforward contest, one can seek to undermine him.

(3)  Examples:  India/Pakistan, North Korea

(a)  Fears that India and Pakistan will nuke each other (14 years later no nukes used)

Nuclear Anxiety, the Rivalry: South Asian Arms Race: Reviving Dormant Fears of Nuclear War“, New York Times, 29 May 1998 — Excerpt:

In a matter of weeks, covert nuclear programs in India and Pakistan, rivals who have three times gone to war, have turned into an open nuclear arms race, raising alarms about what comes next — and where.  Diplomats and arms control experts see this arms race as particularly dangerous because Pakistan and India, unlike the United States and Russia during the cold war, have not held serious negotiations over outstanding problems for decades or concluded agreements that reduced the number of weapons aimed at each other.

These experts now fear that Pakistan and India could be drawn into a nuclear war over Kashmir, a territory that has been in dispute since the two countries gained independence in 1947.

… ”We are at perhaps the most dangerous period since the beginning of the nuclear age — with the exception of the Cuban missile crisis,” said Thomas Graham, a former negotiator for the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency who is now president of the independent Lawyers’ Alliance for World Security.

(b)  North Korea

Iran and the Nuclear Paradox“, Robert Farley, World Politics Review, 16 November 2011 — Excerpt:

Existing nuclear powers fear that new entrants will act unpredictably, destabilize regions and throw existing diplomatic arrangements into flux. These predictions almost invariably turn out wrong; nuclear weapons consistently fail to undo the existing power relationships of the international system.

The North Korean example is instructive. In spite of the dire warnings about the dangers of a North Korean nuclear weapon, the region has weathered Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation in altogether sound fashion. Though some might argue that nukes have “enabled” North Korea to engage in a variety of bad behaviors, that was already the case prior to its nuclear test. The crucial deterrent to U.S. or South Korean action continues to be North Korea’s conventional capabilities, as well as the incalculable costs of governing North Korea after a war. Moreover, despite the usual dire predictions of nonproliferation professionals, the North Korean nuclear program has yet to inspire Tokyo or Seoul to follow suit.

The DPRK’s program represents a tremendous waste of resources and human capital for a poor state, and it may prove a problem if North Korea endures a messy collapse. Thus far, however, the effects of the arsenal have been minimal.

(4)  Other posts in this series

  1. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)?, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran, including aid to terrorists
  2. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
  3. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 2 January 2010 — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984
  4. About the escalating conflict with Iran (not *yet* open war), 4 January 2012
  5. Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel?, 5 January 2012 — No, but it’s established as fact by repetition
  6. What do we know about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?, 6 January 2012 — US intelligence officials are clear:  not as much as the news media implies
  7. What does the IAEA know about Iran’s nuclear program?, 9 January 2012 — Their reports bear little resemblance to reports in the news media
  8. What happens when a nation gets nukes?  Sixty years of history suggests an answer., 10 January 2012
  9. What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told., 11 January 2012
  10. Status report on the already-hot conflict with Iran – and the looming war, 12 January 2012
  11. Continuity and dysfunctionality in US foreign policy (lessons for our conflict with Iran), 13 January 2012 — Insights about today from Cold War strategist Colin Grey
  12. What the conflict with Iran teaches us about modern State-to-State war, 16 January 2012
  13. Has Iran won a round vs. the US-Israel?, 17 January 2012
  14. Is Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists Terrorism?, 19 January 2012

(5)  For more information

  1. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better“, Kenneth Waltz, Adelphi Papers #171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981) — Events of the past 30 years have impressively validated his theory!
  2. Evaluating the Nuclear Peace Hypothesis – A Quantitative Approach“, Robert Rauchhaus (Prof of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara), Journal of Conflict Resolution, April 2009
  3. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons and International Conflict – Does Experience Matter?“, Michael Horowitz (Prof of Political Science, U Penn), Journal of Conflict Resolution, April 2009
  4. Recommended:  Debunking Myths About Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism“, Stratfor, 29 May 2009
  5. How do states act after they get nuclear weapons?“, James (Prof Political Science, Berkeley), The Monkey Cage, 29 January 2012

(6)  Other posts about Iran

For the full list see the FM Reference Page Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?

  1. Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq , 4 March 2008
  2. More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran” , 18 March 2008
  3. A militant America, ready for war with Iran , 6 May 2008
  4. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008
  5. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)? Part 1, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran.
  6. Update on the prospects of war with Iran, from Stratfor, 6 September 2008
  7. “Iraq Endgame” by George Friedman, 22 August 2009
  8. Stratfor: “Two Leaks and the Deepening Iran Crisis”, 7 October 2009
  9. This is how a nation thoughtlessly slides into stupid wars, 25 July 2010
  10. America takes another step towards war with Iran, towards the dark side, 3 September 2010