Washington Times, – – Monday, March 2, 2015
Our attention these days with regard to security is understandably riveted on the Islamic State, or ISIS, and its hideous decapitations, rapes and live immolations. We must deal with the Islamic State, but it is not the gravest threat we face. The Israelis are right — we should awaken to the fact that the coming of a nuclear Iran holds special dangers and requires particularly urgent attention. There are four driving reasons.
First, the Mideast abounds in clashing religious beliefs, but there is special danger in the Shiite doctrine held by many Iranians, including some of Iran’s national leaders: The return of the hidden Imam will bring the war that ends the world and creates heavenly bliss for believers. As America’s dean of Mideast studies, Bernard Lewis, puts it: During the Cold War, Mutual Assured Destruction was a deterrent; today it is an inducement.
Second, Iran works very closely with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs. Consequently, it has the ballistic missile capacity to launch weapons of substantial size and intercontinental range against us, or to orbit satellites above us.
So troubling is this capability — in the hands of either Iran or North Korea — that nine years ago, based on the ability of North Korea’s Taepodong missile to carry a nuclear warhead to intercontinental range, the current secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, and a prominent former secretary, William Perry, urged in a 2006 oped a pre-emptive strike against the then-new North Korean long-range missiles on their launch pads. As the two secretaries put it then, “Intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.” Their view was that our ballistic missile defense capabilities were unproven and should not be relied upon for such an important task. “Diplomacy has failed,” they said, “And we cannot sit by.”
Third, Iran now is either very close to being able to field a nuclear weapon or it should be regarded as already having that capability. As William Graham, who served as President Reagan’s science adviser, administrator of NASA and chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission, as well as many of his distinguished colleagues, such as Henry Cooper, who was director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, and Fritz Ermarth, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, have put it:
“Regardless of intelligence uncertainties and unknowns about Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, we know enough now to make a prudent judgment that Iran should be regarded by national security decision makers as a nuclear missile state capable of posing an existential threat to the United States and its allies.”
Iran’s progress toward having a nuclear weapon that can be orbited or delivered by a long-range missile will not be halted by the concession-rich compromises proposed by the administration’s arms control negotiators in Geneva. North Korea already has this capability. As it appears now, Iran will have it before long. What are the consequences for our vulnerability to these two rogue states?
The new factor that makes one or a few nuclear warhead-carrying missiles launched into orbit much more dangerous than during the Cold War is the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the critical infrastructures that are the foundation of modern societies, especially the national electric grid. Electronics are increasingly vulnerable to EMP — more than a million times more vulnerable (and, yes, also much more capable) than they were at the dawn of the age of modern electronics a half-century ago. Moore’s Law has not been kind to our electronic vulnerabilities.
Consequently, even one nuclear warhead detonated at orbital altitude over the United States would black out the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for months or years by means of the electromagnetic pulse it would create. The Congressional EMP Commission assessed that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill nine of 10 Americans through starvation and societal collapse. Islamic State-like gangs would rule the streets.
Just such a scenario is described in Iranian military documents.
Charles Krauthammer summarizes the dangers lost on a naive President Obama in “Obama’s Nuclear Posturing, Part Deux”.
- Iran “is frantically enriching uranium to make a bomb, and which our own State Department identifies as the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world.”
- ” Syria has just been discovered transferring lethal Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Middle East’s most powerful non-state terrorist force. This is the same Syria that was secretly building a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor until the Israeli air force destroyed the facility three years ago.”
- Pakistan “is adding to the world’s stockpile of fissile material every day.”
- Pakistan’s “own secret service, the ISI, is of dubious loyalty, some of its elements being sympathetic to the Taliban and thus, by extension, to al-Qaeda.”
- A “softening of the U.S. nuclear deterrent posture (sparing non-proliferation compliant states from U.S. nuclear retaliation if they launch a biochemical attack against us)
- “Iran is about a year away from acquiring the fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. Then, only a very few years until weaponization.”
Under President Obama’s new policy, however, if the state that has just attacked us with biological or chemical weapons is “in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” explained Gates, then “the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of Boston after a massive anthrax or nerve gas attack. The president immediately calls in the lawyers to determine whether the attacking state is in compliance with the NPT. If it turns out that the attacker is up-to-date with its latest IAEA inspections, well, it gets immunity from nuclear retaliation. (Our response is then restricted to bullets, bombs and other conventional munitions.)
However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
This is quite insane. It’s like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.
Apart from being morally bizarre, the Obama policy is strategically loopy. Does anyone believe that North Korea or Iran will be more persuaded to abjure nuclear weapons because they could then carry out a biological or chemical attack on the U.S. without fear of nuclear retaliation?
The naivete is stunning. Similarly the Obama pledge to forswear development of any new nuclear warheads, indeed, to permit no replacement of aging nuclear components without the authorization of the president himself. This under the theory that our moral example will move other countries to eschew nukes.
Read all here.
“President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing.” — French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Sept. 24
“When France chides you for appeasement, you know you’re scraping bottom. “– Charles Krauthammer and more from Krauthammer:
Do the tally. In return for selling out Poland and the Czech Republic by unilaterally abrogating a missile-defense security arrangement that Russia had demanded be abrogated, we get from Russia … what? An oblique hint, of possible support, for unspecified sanctions, grudgingly offered and of dubious authority — and, in any case, leading nowhere because the Chinese have remained resolute against any Security Council sanctions.
Confusing ends and means, the Obama administration strives mightily for shows of allied unity, good feeling and pious concern about Iran’s nuclear program — whereas the real objective is stopping that program. This feel-good posturing is worse than useless, because all the time spent achieving gestures is precious time granted Iran to finish its race to acquire the bomb.
Charles Krauthammer is for the U.S. encouraging Japan to take a bold and powerful step by getting into the nuclear ring. The message would pack more punch than either Obama’s disarmament talk, disgruntling Krauthammer:
He certainly has a vision. Rather than relying on America’s unique technological edge in missile defenses to provide a measure of nuclear safety, Obama will instead boldly deploy the force of example. How? By committing his country to disarmament gestures — such as, he promised his cheering acolytes in Prague, ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban.
It would be more of a message than the one Obama’s sends with spending cuts in our defense budget and weakening our defense capabilities or the UN’s laughable assault with more empty words and inaction. Krauthammer’s beat this drum before :
The immediate effect of Japan’s considering going nuclear would be to concentrate China’s mind on denuclearizing North Korea. China calculates that North Korea is a convenient buffer between it and a dynamic, capitalist South Korea bolstered by American troops. China is quite content with a client regime that is a thorn in our side, keeping us tied down while it pursues its ambitions in the rest of Asia. Pyongyang’s nukes, after all, are pointed not west but east.
Japan’s threatening to go nuclear would alter that calculation. It might even persuade China to squeeze Kim Jong Il as a way to prevent Japan from going nuclear. The Japan card remains the only one that carries even the remote possibility of reversing North Korea’s nuclear program.
Japan’s response to the North Korean threat has been very strong and very insistent on serious sanctions. This is, of course, out of self-interest, not altruism. But that is the point. Japan’s natural interests parallel America’s in the Pacific Rim — maintaining military and political stability, peacefully containing an inexorably expanding China, opposing the gangster regime in Pyongyang, and spreading the liberal democratic model throughout Asia.
Why are we so intent on denying this stable, reliable, democratic ally the means to help us shoulder the burden in a world where so many other allies — the inveterately appeasing South Koreans most notoriously — insist on the free ride?
Hot Air questions using logic on the illogical while seeing the logic this way:
Why would Japan want its own arsenal when it already enjoys the deterrent effect of being under America’s nuclear umbrella? Simple: A Japanese arsenal wouldn’t really be aimed at deterrence. It would be aimed at scaring the hell out of China, where memories of Japanese aggression are long. The thinking, I guess, is that China would be sufficiently cowed by Japanese nukes that they’d have no choice but to try much harder to calm Kim down lest they end up being drawn into a three-way nuclear war with North Korea and Japan.