NO OIL FOR BLOOD

This piece is Copyright 2009 by Jay B. Gaskill, all rights reserved, as first published on THE POLICY THINK SITE, www.jaygaskill.com .

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NO OIL FOR BLOOD

Stopping Iran’s Genocidal Blackmail

AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL

Iran is a hostage situation, writ large.

In a hostage standoff, the good guys are held at bay during endless, usually pointless negotiations while the bad guys hold a large number of innocent people under threat of execution. The variations on this basic scheme are many, including every scenario the terrorists, thugs and move makers can come up with. Apparently, no one so far has noticed that the Iran nuclear threat is a large scale hostage standoff.

Iran holds the stability of the vital Middle East hostage as well as roughly one third of the world’s gas and oil reserves. It is run by a hostile regime that no one in the neighborhood wants to have the nuclear trigger. This presents the classic, “Who will bell the cat?” scenario, but one in which no European or Asian country is prepared to lift a finger, much less provide a fighter jet wing or some Special Forces units. It comes down to the tiny IDF air command or the USA.

The bad guys are using their “negotiation” time to build and deploy weapons strong enough to drive off the good guys (or so they think). That prospect poses a danger that is worse than the loss of all the hostages because the weapons the bad guys are working on are atomic bombs and the missiles to deliver them. Three successive American administrations (Clinton, Bush and Obama) have so far let the negotiations run on in spite of their apparent futility.

The time is up.

Iran (population 72m, second in the world for natural gas and oil reserves, with six metropolitan cities) is now the trouble-maker-in-chief for the whole Middle East region. The two leading terror-thug organizations (Hamas & Hezbollah) are effectively on the Iran payroll and nearby Syria, also a terror-harboring regime, is an Iran client-state.

In recent years the hold of the ruling Mullahs (whose council vets and controls political candidates in order to suppress Western-style liberalization) have begun to lose popularity with the country’s well educated (by Middle Eastern standards), young population. Some (but not all) experts hold out the prospect for eventual regime amelioration, even the emergence of something approaching West-friendly democratic governance. The recent election and subsequent suppression of the reformists is a ‘teaching moment’. The mullahs who run Iran will not give up. Worse, if they are allowed to achieve ‘nuclear power’ status, they will not be dislodged from power in our lifetimes.

The Iranian regime has relentless pursued atomic bomb technology, having obtained invaluable early assistance from the infamous Dr. Kahn, Pakistan’s home-grown Dr. Strangelove. Korean nuclear scientists have also been employed, who were using the nuclear reactor facility in Syria to avoid detection until the IDF blew it up in November 2007. Reportedly it was a duplicate of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon.

THE ‘MODEST’ PROPOSAL

We just take out the threat. Some strategic planners are concerned that air strikes alone won’t be able to completely eliminate the suspected nuclear weapons facilities, let alone find them all. This is why reliance on an Israeli air attack will not work.

Forces on the ground sufficient to operate effectively in-country would probably approach the scale of a small invasion force, straining already stretched American military resources. But necessity is necessity.

Our military intervention in Iran would almost certainly trigger several parallel reactions: (1) Immediate military pressure on Iraq, (2) A step-up in terror activity by Hamas and Hezbollah, throughout the region, (3) Major disruptions in the regional oil supply, with potentially serious economic repercussions, especially in this recession, (4) a surge in anti-American patriotism among the Iranian population, strengthening the hand of the mullahs.

NO OIL FOR BLOOD

This is the necessary new strategic position. NO OIL FOR BLOOD. We need to announce the policy, call it ‘the Obama Doctrine’, that oil revenues are not to be used to promote terror.

If our action, first directed at Iran, is announced as part of this bold new policy – no oil for blood, i.e., no oil revenues to fund terror, THEN, when Iran is crushed, it most certainly will be taken seriously throughout the region. The new Doctrine would have a ripple effect on the other oil producers in the world with terror-support ambitions.

If, as in the case of post Saddam Libya, the other terror-supporting oil-funded states fold, the long term reduction in world oil supplies will be manageable.

Without a doubt, the initial shock impact on the oil markets will be severe, but (in this scenario) would be limited in time and scope. Even if Iran were fully taken out of production for a time, the daily oil loss would be less than half of the daily oil production of Saudi Arabia or The US.

The world total daily production of oil is about 76 million barrels, more than 20 times Iraq’s contribution. The biggest loser would be China’s development boom. But the economic impact of the technologically developed countries, like the US, could be mitigated and eventually overcome. Obviously, this action would necessarily trigger adjustments in US energy policy and arrangements; foggy promises and half measures would suddenly become urgent priorities.

Here’s the deal: Most realistic analysts believe that this Modest Proposal – or something very like it – will be a choice of necessity WHEN diplomacy fails. The operative words are necessity and when.

Of course, nothing short of necessity will trigger the consideration of the “Modest Proposal” option. What is going on here is a failure of imagination coupled with denial. The prospect of a civilized Islamic country like, say Turkey, with atomic bombs and missiles is troubling. A militant fanatical Islamic country, like Iran (or God forbid, a Taliban-run Pakistan) with a-bombs and missiles will ACTUALLY RESULT IN A NUCLEAR WAR and that staggers the imagination.

The question, “What would Iran actually do in response to an attack?” remains open to speculation, but it will be a cake walk compared to the alternative.

BUT IS THIS THREAT REALLY A BIG DEAL?

Of course the Iranian threat is real and even more serious that the 911 attacks on American soil.

As America and the rest of the world try to talk rogue states out of acquiring deliverable A-bombs, Iran continues to improve the sophistication and effectiveness of its weapons.

An updated anti-cruise missile weapon, described in a WIRED is an example. LINK: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/irans-new-anti-missile-artillery/ .

“Iran has started to mass-produce a new 40mm automatic cannon capable of shooting down cruise missiles … Is this an alarming new development, a piece of junk that won’t make any difference in an actual war – or a sign of something more subtle?”

The article quoted suggests that the new anti-cruise missile weapon is not a game changer, but it is evidence that Iran is preparing a “layered’ missile defense. This suggests to me (and any other reasonable observer) that Iran fully expects to be attacked. This in turn tells us as clearly as an Obama campaign billboard that Iran has no intention of abandoning its plans to become the region’s new nuclear power.

ARE THERE ANY VIABLE STRATEGIES – OTHER THAN HAND WRINGING OR BOMBING THE CRAP OUT OF IRAN?

Let’s fervently hope so.

So far, Iran continues to brazenly escalate its aggressive weapons programs in response to the new administration’s overtures. But the truth about thugs, learned anew by each incoming administration, is that they sometimes behave decently, but only after some blood has been drawn. That is just part of the game. They are quick to revert to type the moment they smell weakness. So the problem requires more than a quick feint or a bruise or a drop or tow of blood. It requires DEFEAT of one side or the other. The existential question is stark: Which side do you want us to be on?

Recall that Libya was hell bent on making A-bombs until the swift fall of the neighboring Iraqi regime changed hearts and minds at the very top. Muammar al-Gaddfi seemingly capitulated in 2003, after centrifuge shipment was interdicted, but soon resumed a clandestine nuclear weapons program. That program was “voluntarily” terminated in January 2004. Not coincidentally, US forces had deposed the Hussein regime in nearby Iraq in May of 2003. Muammar feared he would be next.

Reportedly, when news of the swift fall of Baghdad reached North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, he fled in fear to a secure location.

Both of these are examples of classic thug behavior and this suggests a two pronged, multi-staged strategy.

AN IMMODEST ALTERNATIVE

THE GODFATHER PLOY

Iran presents a unique tactical situation, in part because there is no single leader who is in full day-to-day control. Worse, the regime’s ideology glorifies suicidal martyrdom.

The alternative, the one between toothless diplomacy and an overt attack, borrows a page from the Mafia playbook and from the handbook of successful guerilla warriors: Intimidation and Sabotage, all under a veneer of deception, diplomacy and denial.

Note that the denial and deception need not be perfect. Iran has set a new low for implausible denial. We can match this.

In this scenario, we convey a ‘We’ll deny this, but you better heed’ back-channel threat to the mullahs and the military leadership, bypassing the “elected” president. But his time, we promise carefully targeted death, economic ruin and large scale humiliation.

For starters: We will destroy their economy. We will profoundly degrade all of their defense forces and capabilities… with systematic ruthlessness. We will not precede this series of events with a mere demonstration. We will just start doing it: Sabotage will be followed by more sabotage, followed by more and more. We will keep the back channel open, suggesting that all this can be avoided.

If we are good enough at the game and – trust me, we have the forces in hand who ARE good enough, it might look like this:

One by one, the ships of the Iranian navy begin to malfunction and sink. Why the ships? A significant hostage factor is Iran’s ability to achieve temporary closure of the vital oil shipping artery, the Strait of Hormuz. We have submarine assets, aquatic robots and other high tech resources. There are experts. I’m just a one lawyer with a laptop. But trust me. We can do the sabotage.

Then one of Iran’s refineries fails. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Maybe an alphabetic progression of failure would send the message: Say the refinery at Abadan goes; then at Arak, Bandar Abbas, Isfahan, Tabriz, and finally in Tehran.

Of course, using the same backchannel, we generously offer technical assistance for repairs, provided the country comes clean on the scope and location of its nuclear weapons program, including the reactor facilities that the IDF wants to take out and the secret locations of all stored fissile material, and engages in a sincere and prompt takedown. No? Then some electrical shortages take place. An oil fire erupts. And so on…

If we are forced to proceed with overt military measures (the ruling clique, after all, includes fanatics) we would need to accomplish the final overt destruction of the Iranian Navy and of the obvious missile emplacements and the known reactor sites within a few days. We should not be hindered by politically correct rules or guilt or worry overmuch about who will rebuild. This would be followed by a grace period during which we would invite the Egyptians, to do the invasion…. And – to quote Kurt Vonnegut – so it goes…. Whether the mullahs fold, the bottom line is exactly as simple (but not simple minded) as – We win; they lose.

SO, WHAT WILL REALLY HAPPEN?

I just do not know. I was not thrilled with the President Bush’s approach to the Iranian nuclear threat, and I have even less reason to expect our current president will do better. The most adroit diplomacy is no more effective than an unarmed Mafiosi imposter trying to shake down a rival gang.

Hollow threats are suicidal. These are big league thugs under the delusion they are holy warriors. Iran remains as intractable as ever to diplomacy and “soft power”.

But someday, fairly soon, POTUS will be forced to bell the cat or forever be condemned by history. Who wants to be remembered as the leader who blew the last best chance to prevent the nuclear exchange that destroyed Jerusalem and Teheran and allowed the A-bombs to get in the hands of the terrorists who destroyed New York and Washington, DC?

So far two presidents have kicked the can down the road and the third has not shown any appetite for decisive action….

JBG

The author is a California attorney with roots (and a state Bar admission in Idaho)

Detailed contact information on request…..

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