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Daily Archives: September 28, 2009


So How Likely Is An Israeli Strike On Iran?

In all honesty, I don’t know – I would guess it would depend on a lot of things, but primarily the perceived level of the Iranian threat and the military assessment of whether such a strike would be a) viable and b) effective.

All that follows is speculation based on the military aspect of any such strike.  I don’t doubt the Israeli will or ability but I do have grave doubts about about some specific and difficult problems within the situation that render the structure of the IDF incapable of performing the mission because of them.

We’re all familiar with the famous Osirik strike by the IDF in which Iraq’s nuclear capability was taken out in one fell swoop. Iraq had helpfully grouped all of its nuclear facilities in one area and the Israelis destroyed them. They did the same thing to a Syrian attempt last year.

So, as many ask, why can’t they do the same thing to Iran. Primarily because Iran took note of what happened in Iraq and purposely spread its nuclear facilities all around its country. It eliminated the possibility of a single strike crippling its efforts toward realizing its nuclear goals. As you can see on the map, hitting the key Iranian nuclear sites would require a bombing campaign, not just a single strike.

Iran Nuclear Sites

Iran Nuclear Sites

The recent revelation also points to another probability. It appears that Iran is building redundancy into their nuclear facilities. Nothing says there are only two enrichment facilities. In fact the existence of two argues that there may be more that haven’t been discovered yet. But it does make the point that even if key known facilities are hit and destroyed in Iran, there is absolutely no assurance that those strikes will have destroyed Iran’s capability.

Then there’s the distance involved. Even with Saudi Arabia supposedly telling Israel it will turn a blind eye to their incursions into Saudi airspace in order to hit Iran, we’re talking about a limited ability to do so without refueling. Israel has some converted Boeing 707s it uses for the job but certainly not enough to support a campaign of this size. And while it has developed technology with which it can mount external fuel tanks to weapons stations, that obviously trades fuel for weaponry, meaning more aircraft will be necessary to do the job.

That limitation, coupled with the way Iran has spread its nuclear facilities out, means Israel would have to commit to a bombing campaign as I mentioned earlier. Several hundred sorties are likely to be necessary to degrade all the facilities necessary to neutralize Iran’s nuclear capabilities. I say several hundred because part of getting the strike aircraft to their targets will entail other aircraft flying air defense suppression missions. What we call “wild weasel” missions would require other aircraft to clear a path for the strike mission by taking out Iranian air defense radar capability prior to the insertion of the strike package.

All of that requires tremendous coordination. Once the first strike goes in, whether successful or not, the defense level of the Iranians will rise to its highest levels. At that point, follow on strikes would find getting to their targets unscathed to be a much more difficult job. And, of course, there’s the necessity of staging search and rescue operations for downed pilots. Given the countries the IDF would have to fly over, even with permission, staging SAR would be next to impossible.

So, in my opinion, the combination of distance, the requirement of multiple sorties against spread out and redundant Iranian facilities and no assurance of success argues pretty strongly against an Israeli military strike. That’s not to say that the Israelis won’t figure out a way to do it, do it well and survive it. They’ve surprised us before, but I’d suggest the odds aren’t in their favor.

Of course, last but not least, any strike by Israel, whether or not successful, is an act of war which Iran will seize upon to not only step up its proxy war against Israel, but use as a basis for a direct attack on that nation at a future time and place of its choosing. The question will be when, not if and it will certainly include speculation as to the type of weaponry Iran will use to reap its revenge.

I listened to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu address the UN this past week. I heard the palpable disgust he has for the members of that body and their refusal to act to thwart Iran’s nuclear threat. But I also heard a little pleading in there as I think Israel has come to the realization that this is a situation in which they don’t have the military capacity to take care of business. He was quietly pleading with the US and the rest of the world to actually step-up and prevent a possible nuclear catastrophe that could, as Iran has claimed to desire, wipe his country from the map.  Israel has come to the realization that their audacity and bravery won’t be enough this time.  They need help.

~McQ


Afghanistan – It Is Decision Time (update)

It is decision time for our involvement in that country – i.e. whether we continue or whether we pull the bulk of our troops out.

As I said in another post, fish or cut bait. Or, in Texas Hold ‘em parlance, go all in or fold.

Some look at those two very stark options and point out that there are many other options in between. True. But, given how this war has gone, I think those are the only two viable ones. What we’re doing now, which falls squarely between them, isn’t working. And variations on that aren’t going to work any better.

It seems to me we have to either make a concerted and focused effort to again nation build (and all that entails with time, blood and treasure), or we have to decide to leave that up to the Afghan people and concentrate on al Qaeda hunting on a much smaller scale. That, of course, would be the “fold” option.

President Obama is rethinking the Afghanistan strategy he announced a mere 6 months ago in the wake of the recent Afghan election. The allegations of reported fraud have made the administration much less inclined to support the current Afghan government without dramatic changes. I have no problem with that reassessment if it is done with an eye on settling, soon, on one of the two options above. If you read what the Taliban are saying, the Karzai government is one of their best recruiting assets. The corruption and cronyism have isolated that government from the people. Of course, in counter-insurgency doctrine (COIN), the link between the people and their government is critical to success, and that link is only viable if the people support said government. That is increasingly not the case in Afghanistan.

That presents the type of problem that does indeed require reassessment of strategy. We can flood Afghanistan with troops, have them at a one-to-one ratio with the population and provide the security COIN requires. But if that population has no confidence in the viability of its own government, doesn’t support it and doesn’t consider those trying to topple it “the enemy”, the entire effort is doomed.

So essentially the choice facing the administration now is to nation build or withdraw.  Withdrawal doesn’t necessarily mean we quit the fight against al Qaeda.  But for the most part, it would mean quitting the fight against the Taliban.  And I think we all know how that would end.

It is quite a moral dilemma and it is also not an easy decision.  While going “all in” would be the politically unpopular decision here, it would most likely spare the world the spectacle of a Taliban takeover and the resulting barbaric vengeance they would inflict on the population.  There is only one nation which will bear the blame in the eyes of the rest of the world even if most of the administration’s political base would support the decision.  The US would again be charged with not finishing something it started.  And that, as we’ve learned in the past, is something that other rogue leaders see as a weakness they can exploit.  As usual it will be seen not as a weakness of our military, but, if they wait long enough, the eventual weakening of our political will.

Whatever decision the administration makes, it must avoid the status quo.  That’s not working now and it won’t work in the future.  Just as Iraq required a dramatic change in strategy to succeed, so does Afghanistan.  If the decision is to continue with the current troop levels and a few cosmetic changes here and there, then the administration will be committing us to a strategy of failure. We owe it to our brave men and women there not to play political games with their lives.  Whatever decision is made it must be made very soon, within the next month or so, and must be devoid of politics.  Delays in making such a decision are not acceptable.

It is time for this administration to step up, make a decision and let the political chips fall where they may.  Don’t put it on the back burner.  The time is now to decide whether we’re going all in or we’re going to fold in Afghanistan.  At a minimum, we owe our military that.

UPDATE: Well this is encouraging.  The CINC hasn’t talked to his commander in Afghanistan in 70 days because, I guess, he’s been so busy. But, as it turns out, he has the time to fly off to Copenhagen and shill for the Chicago Olympics.  And they still wonder why Democrats have such a great reputation when it comes to matters of national security.

~McQ


Waxman Markey/Cap-and-Trade: 397 New Regulations and 1,100 New Mandates

This story slipped quietly under the radar last week as we had the UN speech, the Iran revelation and the G20.

An examination of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation finds it contains 397 new regulations and 1,100 new mandates. And you’ll be pleased to know it will simplify your life, make child birth pleasant and cost you nothing.

Not.

But you can rest assured there is most likely something for everyone because this isn’t just about controlling CO2 emissions.  This is about more control of your life via the radical green agenda.

Take homeowners for instance. If you thought selling your house was a pain in the kiester before, Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey can’t wait to make it even more fun for you:

One of them would affect almost everyone who buys or sells a home. If Waxman-Markey becomes law, homes for sale that qualify as “federally related transactions” — which is almost all of them — would be required to undergo an environmental inspection.

[...]

Inspections are not free. Nor is fixing the inevitable violations. Compliance with new energy-efficiency standards would make homes, especially older ones, more expensive. Selling one’s home would become even harder than it already is in this down market if Waxman-Markey-style cap and trade becomes law.

And that is just one of the unintended consequences.

Suppose you have a window that isn’t quite airtight or your appliances are a little too old. Maybe they’re not Energy Star certified. You’d have to replace them before you would be allowed to sell your home.

Suppose you wanted to sell your house “as is” and let the person who buys it fix it up, for a suitable discount of course.

That is no longer a choice you’ll have. The buyer and seller wouldn’t be allowed to make that decision anymore.   The party that continuously claims that “choice” is important to them apparently believe that particular choice is one neither the buyer or seller should have. The transaction is subject to the regulations of Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey’s bill and you’ll not sell anything government inspectors haven’t deemed “green” enough to sell and certified as such.

Nothing, of course, could go wrong with that, could it? And of course, the article deals with just one of the unintended consequences. Let me again point out that it includes 397 new regulations – that means there’s at least one unintended consequence for each of them (and possibly more) and it will most likely be a nasty surprise.

In fact, take a good look at what could be more of the unintended consequences from just the regulation requiring home inspections:

To sum up: Inspecting homes for sale for their environmental friendliness would raise home prices. Buying or selling a home would become an even more onerous process than it already is. And there’s an easy way to dodge the bullet: Rent instead of own. If enough people did that, the inspection requirement would fail to achieve its goal of making homes more energy efficient.

And that in the face of and in conflict with policy which seeks to increase home ownership.

When regulation becomes too arduous, what do people normally do? Adjust, avoid and do what is easier and cheaper.

Is there any reason, depending on what the other 396 regulations contain, that the same won’t happen with them?

This is where we’re headed – regulators literally telling you what trees to plant and how to plant them (that’s actually contained in the Waxman-Markey bill as pointed out in a previous post). Is this the government you want? Is this the level of government with which you’re comfortable?

If they can require you to plant your trees and fix up your home their way, what else might they figure they should have the power to do?

~McQ