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Iran: The Don Corleone Option
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I have to admit I enjoyed this. It's written, if you can believe it, by Ted Koppel. It concerns Iran and nuclear weapons. It is actually a pretty common sense suggestion. Unless we decide to unilaterally strike Iran (and there are still those who think that's in the offing) we're not going to stop them from acquiring nuclear weapons. I'm pretty well convinced that's the truth of the matter. But, as you'll read, that doesn't necessarily mean we have no recourse.

Given that, perhaps this isn't as far fetched an idea as it might first appear. In fact, I kind of like it. It covers a myriad of possible future problems with a fairly easy to understand consequence for any of them occurring. The nuclear KISS principle:
"You insist on having nuclear weapons," we should say. "Go ahead. It's a terrible idea, but we can't stop you. We would, however, like your leaders to view the enclosed DVD of 'The Godfather.' Please pay particular attention to the scene in which Don Corleone makes grudging peace with a man - the head of a rival crime family - who ordered the killing of his oldest son."

In that scene, Don Corleone says, "I forgo my vengeance for my dead son, for the common good. But I have selfish reasons." The welfare of his youngest son, Michael, is on his mind.

"I am a superstitious man," he continues. "And so if some unlucky accident should befall my youngest son, if some police officer should accidentally shoot him, or if he should hang himself in his cell, or if my son is struck by a bolt of lightening, then I will blame some of the people here. That I could never forgive."

If Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it.

The elimination of American opposition on this issue would open the way to genuine normalization between our two nations. It might even convince the Iranians that their country can flourish without nuclear weapons.

But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear "accident," Iran should understand that the U.S. government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.
"Hello Tehran?

Incoming!"
 
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I’ve heard others make similar suggestions, and have thought this would be an excellent option for some time now. The real problem, of course, is having the will to actually pull the trigger, regardless of the domestic or international pressure not to do so.

If Iran believes its an idle threat, I can easily see them causing such an "accident" anyway, effectively putting the ball in our court. Or if they don’t think its a bluff, raising enough plausible deniability to get their diplomatic bretheren (Russia, France, etc.) to pressure the U.S. into foregoing the threat. Then, of course, we would be in a worse position than before.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
then I will blame some of the people here. That I could never forgive.
I think the actual line is: "..then I am going to blame some of the men in this room. And that I do not forgive."
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I guess that means if you can’t handle a country powerful enough to stand up to unilatral aggression now, you propose to terroristically balackmail them for the future by holding them accontable for any horrible event whether or not they might be responsible. I guess the terroristic mobs don’t run out of ideas after all!!!
 
Written By: Zebra
URL: http://
In the event of a dirty bomb attack by a Sunni Salafist group (eg. Al Qaeda) who’s religious ideology counts Shia Islam as a perversion, the stated response of the USA will be to engage in a nuclear war with Shia Iran. How do you say "no lose" in Arabic?
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I guess that means if you can’t handle a country powerful enough to stand up to unilatral aggression now, you propose to terroristically balackmail them for the future by holding them accontable for any horrible event whether or not they might be responsible. I guess the terroristic mobs don’t run out of ideas after all!!!
Oh I think it would be refined a little more than Koppel suggests but in the long run it is no different a concept than MAD (well, except only the destruction of one country is assured).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
In the event of a dirty bomb attack by a Sunni Salafist group (eg. Al Qaeda) who’s religious ideology counts Shia Islam as a perversion, the stated response of the USA will be to engage in a nuclear war with Shia Iran. How do you say "no lose" in Arabic?

Actually that’s the best part.

Did you think that wasn’t a consideration for Don Corleone’s terms? Iran will have to work to make sure that doesn’t happen. Even if it means shutting down a group like the Salafist ahead of time, by force if necessary.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Ted Koppel for Secretary of State!
 
Written By: Joab
URL: http://joabsblog.blogspot.com
I find this solution emotionally satisfying. But impractical.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
It’s one thing I learned as a teacher. You’ll fight a battle of wills with a truculent child all day and never win. Punish the whole class when they f*ck up, and it’s even money the behavior will be modified the next day. And rarely do you have to make the example more than twice.
 
Written By: Pete Jensen
URL: http://
Basically, this is how it will work. How it does work. America rarely fails to respond aggressively to violence against its own citizens or on its own soil. Iran may indeed find it has more accountability, not less, for nuclear-related incidents, even just smuggling, around the globe, after this. And Iran will indeed be the #1 target for retaliation any nuclear-related events, even if they are less than the use of nuclear devices, in the near future.

I also generally agree. It’s a better idea to hold governments accountable for nuclear-related actions of groups in their own territory - or supported by those governments - then to launch a lot of pre-emptive strikes.

You want an even dirtier idea? Get Pakistani elements under US control to detonate a radiological device in Egypt and *blame* it on Iran.

This is not a recommendation.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be in favor of invading Iran if Al-Quiada elements stole nuclear material from Pakistan and used it on us. that’s what I see as the most likely danger scenario. Governements standing openly against us are less likely to do something like this, then are radicals supported by dissident governments elements in a weak state.

But we might invade Iran anyway in that scenario, unless there was a real clear Pakistan smoking gun.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Here’s the precise quote:

I’m a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall Michael - if he is to be shot in the head by a police officer, or be found hung dead in a jail cell... or if he should be struck by a bolt of lightning - then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room; and then I do not forgive. But with said, I pledge - on the souls of my grandchildren - that I will not be the one to break the peace that we have made today.
That’s essentially the model I’ve been proposing for years now. Convincing your opponent of your willingness to act, the psychological component, is a critical part of deterrence. I’m not sure our present crop of politicians—both sides of the aisle—understand that.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Did you think that wasn’t a consideration for Don Corleone’s terms?
What would Dirty Harry do if he found out that all he needed to do to eliminate two crime syndicates was to ensure said "accident" happened - shoot Mikey resisting arrest or drive him off the road into the Bay?

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
You’ve got to be kidding if you think anything like this would (1) deter Iran or (2) be carried out by the United States.

Iran doesn’t fear us, they don’t think we have the guts to back up our threats. We’ve warned them about their destabilizing Iraq.. and done nothing about it. They arm and provide logistical support to those killing our troops in Iraq... and we have done nothing about it. We’ve blasted them for their support of terrorism against Israel... and done nothing about it. We’ve blasted them for their support of terrorism against Americans... and done nothing about it. We’ve warned them to stop producing nukes... and done nothing about it. Paraphrasing the Jewish Passover ritual, the Iranians will ask "why is this threat different from all of the other threats the United States has issued?"

And, while it is very un-PC, I believe the Iranians are crazy and, as such, it’s as crazy to deal with them as rational beings as it would be to ask Tom Foley to be your kid’s scoutmaster (how’s that for working current news in?) A rational leader would never let his country get nuked... but if the Mad Mullahs aren’t rational, why should we expect them to be deterred by such a threat?

Finally, why do you think America would ever back up that threat with action? Do you think a Hillary or an Al Gore or a John Edwards would ever launch nukes against another country? Even with a Republican in office, there’d be incredible pressure to ’not rush to judgment’, to wait for proof that Iran was responsible.... and then there’d be an incredible campaign to discount and discredit the intelligence reports that Iran was responsible... and then there’d be incredible pressure to not penalize the peace loving Iranian people for the sins of their crazy leaders.

Better to do whatever we have to do to keep Iran from getting the bomb in the first place... and, if that means nuking them and their facilities, so be it. I’d rather a million or so of them die than a million or so Americans die from an Iranian attack. It’s one or the other.
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
My comments:

1. This is an unstated US policy already, and I’m sure the Iranians know this. It’s also why we want the technical means to track back any nuclear explosions to find the source. (aside: wasn’t there a movie where the neo-nazis use an Israeli nuke and it confuses us?) Maybe we should make it an explicit policy, and include a policy of collective punishment on supplier nations, too - see point 2.

2. This policy would encourage other states to develop weapons, and would not prevent the Iranians from shopping the technology around. What happens when 10 middle eastern countries are sharing the same tech and materials? Do we bomb them all?

3. If the Iranians are not rational actors, it may not deter them at all.

4. As we see from the Iraq case, despite international relations not being a cop drama, the populace are easily swayed to the smoking gun arguments that we would need iron clad proof which might not be forthcoming. Also, say the nuke was used against Israel? Against Russians in Chechnya? Against Thailand?

5. Another fear we have is spasm war due to poor C3 on the Iranians part. The more countries with nukes, the larger the chance of a mistaken war. Taiwan wanted nukes in the 80’s. We made sure they did not get them, mainly because they would have only had like 30 seconds to decide if an incoming attack was a real Chinese attack or not.


Another suggestion: Next time we give Iran a timetable, we also announce that unless the NPT will be seriously enforced, we will leave the treaty, too and announce other policy changes designed to make us look less rational - like removing our nuclear umbrella from Europe, etc,

Reasoning 1: convince our allies to become more serious about these matters.
Reasoning 2: The more trigger happy you appear the more cautious any rational actor becomes. (This is akin to a game of chicken where one driver handcuffs himself to the steering wheel and pops open a bottle of vodka...you will be very inclined to let him win, no?)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Policy: If there is any nuclear explosion anywhere in the world, the following nations will automatically be targeted regardless of their guilt in the matter:

North Korea
Iran
Pakistan


Nations may be removed from this list upon review.

There ya go. You play with nukes and transfer the technology around, then you will get hit no matter what.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
What about the American citizens in Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Witchita that think they’re in a contract with the goverment to do everything in it’s power to protect them? I’m not willing to bet their lives on the rationality of religious fanatics. No politician can be in accordance with his/her oath of office if they approved of this kind of policy. MAD doesn’t work with a suicide bomber mentality, and I beleive that’s exactly what wields power in Iran. I think there’s probably lots of rational people in Iran, but they aint running things.

Nuclear retaliation for a WMD attack on the US of any kind is already our policy.

Besides, if we don’t stop Iran from getting nukes, Israel is absolutely going to wage pre-emptive nuclear war. They have to. They don’t have enough cities to sacrifice a couple to "what if" scenarios. Even if we’re not directly involved, I kinda think that would be, like, totally bad for the economy, and stuff. For a few decades.

Also, there used to be this thing called "SIOP-62", and we might not be the only folks to ever think that kind of thing up.
 
Written By: Augustus Nalley
URL: http://
But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear "accident," Iran should understand that the U.S. government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.
It doesn’t really work well if the intended is either a nut intent on bringing back the 13th Imam or whatever it is, or just a product of a culture that doesn’t blink at suicide bombing.

A better policy would be to announce that Mecca and various other islamic holy sites will be wiped off the map if a dirty nuke ever detonated on our soil.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://

1. This is an unstated US policy already, and I’m sure the Iranians know this. It’s also why we want the technical means to track back any nuclear explosions to find the source. (aside: wasn’t there a movie where the neo-nazis use an Israeli nuke and it confuses us?) Maybe we should make it an explicit policy, and include a policy of collective punishment on supplier nations, too - see point 2.
And therein lies the problem, Harun. Proper application of the principle of deterrence requires that the policy be stated and stated convincingly. Otherwise there’s no deterrence. This is not an area in which ambiguity is acceptable.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
"If Iran believes its an idle threat,..."

Which they no doubt will. Heck, I believe it is an idle threat. I believe many of us would support such a position, but unless you can get enough Don Corleone clones elected and appointed in Washington it is better left unsaid.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Dave,

Actually, I am wondering if it has actually has already been stated, but it was not widely picked up in the media (or more likely, I don’t recall the exact story.)

It’s picking at my brain that it would be in one of those tactical nuke bunker buster stories or counter-terrorism (not distinguishing between terror groups and the regimes that support them.)

In any case, I agree that an explicit policy with regards to nukes would be a good idea - and make it crystal clear to everyone.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
We don’t have the guts or means to back up threats we make now, much less threats about a future nuclear retaliation.

Half of our country would prefer to commit suicide via Iranian nuclear technology than give up their sense of moral superiority.

Iran’s going to get a nuke, and a dirty bomb or suitcase bomb is going to be detonated in Israel, Western Europe or the U.S. We don’t have the will to apply the violence necessary to stop it. If Iraq has done anything, it’s shown everyone that.
 
Written By: Fyro
URL: http://
or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear "accident,"
If expected response to somebody nuking Mecca is the USA nuking Tehran. Chances of Israel supplying nuke increases, chances of Israel being blamed approaches unity.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Iran’s going to get a nuke, and a dirty bomb or suitcase bomb is going to be detonated in Israel, Western Europe or the U.S. We don’t have the will to apply the violence necessary to stop it. If Iraq has done anything, it’s shown everyone that.
They cannot make a suitcase bomb. Their bomb as it is now is quite large, according to Jim Dunnigan, like as in WW II size.

A dirty bomb attack, while scary, won’t do much damage.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I have another Idea, Wait until one of their big parades and speeches when all the ruling council and the whole government is present. Then send in a bunch of cruise missiles and blow them all up. Then just deny that you did it.
Sure everyone knows we did, but I bet it would get the attention of all the other leaders of the world including that little troll in North Korea.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Problem is that a MAD like policy only works if both sides care equally about their own existence. Telling someone bent on committing suicide that if they draw a weapon you will shot them is only fulfilling their wishes.

In short, you assume they care...
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
This is a stupid idea, its dumb, its dangerous and it makes no sense. Im not willing to open up the doors for a bomb to go off for any reason. Koppel can be the one to die in that bomb blast along with all his family, he seems ok with that. I would rather we fight a true war against Iran than to start a chain reaction that would bring on armageddom. Dumb. And as stated, we dont have the balls. Iran sees us as a paper tiger, and frankly with how people have reacted to Iraq, i almost agree with him.

 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
I mena this has always been the option, but Koppel likely wants it as the ONLY option. and that is what is dumb and dangerous. We should tell them this AS WELL AS unilateral military action.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
I say we let them have Ted Koppel instead.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
A dirty bomb attack, while scary, won’t do much damage.
Physical damage no. Economic and/or psychological damage could be enormous.
 
Written By: err
URL: http://
" Their bomb as it is now is quite large, according to Jim Dunnigan, like as in WW II size."

Why? One would think that 50 years of technological advances would enable them to build a smaller, more efficient one. For one thing, you can get better electronics at Radio Shack.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
aside: wasn’t there a movie where the neo-nazis use an Israeli nuke and it confuses us?)
Harun, yeah, it was Sum of all Fears. A Clancy novel about Jack Ryan (hunt for red october, patriot games). In the book they were actually islamic terrorists, but the movie changed them to neo-nazis

Just make sure to tell the Iranians about this plan.
Dr. Strangelove: Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! Why didn’t you tell the world, EH?
Ambassador de Sadesky: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
The most likely counter to this proposal is to revert to the secret program where, much like the Israelis, you never publicly reveal actually having any weapons.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
In the book they were actually islamic terrorists, but the movie changed them to neo-nazis
And if Iraq was fundamentalist Christian, image the left wing support the war would have?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
In any case, I agree that an explicit policy with regards to nukes would be a good idea - and make it crystal clear to everyone.

Seconded.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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