Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Inevitability of Nuclear War, Part 2

Over a year ago I posted a piece "The Inevitability of Nuclear War, part 1."  The gist was this: For the current leadership of Russia, nuclear warfare is not at all unthinkable.  Vladimir Putin and members of the Russian state  security and military apparatus regularly refer to the possibility of using nuclear weapons, the Russian military has been developing doctrine to guide the use of tactical nuclear weapons, the Russian military conducts training that includes simulated use of tactical nuclear weapons, and Russia has been working to upgrade its nuclear forces.  This is not the end-of-the-world MAD (mutual assured destruction) scenario of all out use of strategic nuclear weapons, it's limited use of nukes.  Russia has conducted wargames, at least twice, that include simulated strikes on Warsaw with nuclear weapons.  My observation -- if Putin is allowed to continue his expansionist policies unchecked, his strength will increase, and at some Russia will go so far that the West's choices will be confrontation or surrender.  For countries of Eastern and central Europe, this would constitute an existential threat.  The chances of a conflict that would include nuclear weapons is very high.

Part 2: The Middle East

Since writing Part 1, I've assembled quite a collection of material on Iran's nuclear program, Iranian intentions, and how the rest of the Middle East regards this.  With the completion of Obama's deal with the Iranians, much of this now seems to me beside the point.  The deal to end sanctions on Iran is the greatest foreign policy catastrophe of my lifetime.  It might well prove to be the greatest such disaster in human history, because it holds the seeds of nuclear war on a massive scale.  Rather than make a lengthy argument, consider this.  The treaty with Iran (a treaty that most of Congress decided to pretend is not a treaty for reasons of political expediency) ends sanctions and releases up to $150 billion in frozen assets to the Iranian government.  It also provides that Iran can challenge and effectively block any inspection of nuclear sites, and even that Iran conduct its own inspections on sensitive military sites.  It provides a grandfather clause that protects investments in the unlikely event sanctions are ever re-imposed; in other words, Iran is guaranteed its economic trade remains intact.  The predicted time frame for Iran to develop sufficient material for a fission bomb is less than the time frame for getting inspections, international dithering over noncompliance, and eventual "snapback" of sanctions.  The deal is preposterous.  Good grief, it evens provides that the United States will protect the Iranian nuclear program from Israel!  It sets Iran free of any serious restriction on its nuclear programs and provides Iran capital for nuclear development, as well as for funding Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran's military adventure in Yemen, its ballistic missile program and other trouble-making.

That's an interesting point: Iran has a ballistic missile program, it is not part of the deal and now faces no restrictions.  What is the purpose?  Iran appears to be developing ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and space launched re-entry vehicles, devices specially designed for delivering nuclear warheads.

There's only one reasonable conclusion: Iran is being set free to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Western Europe and the United States.  That's certainly the conclusion that Iran's neighbors -- namely Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt -- are drawing.  Hence Saudi Arabia is considering options to acquire nuclear weapons, either developing themselves, or buying them. This 2013 BBC article refers to a Saudi policy document in which they state they would accept a nuclear free Middle east, but failing that, would either purchase or develop one, say from Pakistan or North Korea.  Egypt has now begun a nuclear program and Turkey has one that clearly includes a weapons component.

Here are the fundamental points:

My conclusion -- an Iran with nuclear weapons almost certainly results in nuclear war.  MAD works with people who do not want to die; it does not work with those who worship Armageddon and celebrate martyrdom dream of genocide.  And even if the mere possession of nuclear weapons somehow suddenly brought the mullahs to their senses, their neighbors -- the Israelis, Turks, and Arabs -- see the Islamic republic as an existential threat.  If Israel ever faces an imminent existential threat, it will use every power it has to survive, including nuclear weapons.  It's hard to believe the Turks, Saudis, Egyptians, and anyone else who manages to get weapons would behave differently.  The situation is even worse if Daesh (ISIS) ever gets its hands on nuclear weapons.  In a Middle East where multiple sides have nuclear weapons, "false flag" strikes would be a dangerous possibility.  It's hard to understand how such a situation -- multiple players that regard each other as existential threats -- could be a stable equilibrium, the way the nuclear standoff between the US and USSR was.  Stability seems even more far-fetched when some of the players have worldview best described as death cults.

The USSR Russia (oops) has now established an air base with fighter planes in Syria, and the Russians are providing Iran with advanced anti-aircraft systems, and bringing their own to Syria.  Any Israeli airstrike on Iran will now have to contend with Russia's air force.  Conventional responses to an Iranian nuclear breakthrough just became much more difficult.  The likelihood of a nuclear response, with missiles, just increased.  But even prior to this, one analyst suggested that an Israeli nuclear first strike on Iran was a not-unlikely possibility.  Read it, it is a very important and chilling piece.

Nuclear war is not literally inevitable, but the world is on course for it.  Every politician who supported this Iranian deal, or who has not done all they could to block it, ought to be seen as, at best, completely irresponsible.  The people who created this deal, especially Barack Obama and John Kerry, are traitors to America and enemies of civilization.  Assuming that things are not already out of hand by January 2017, the next president needs to immediately and unilaterally take action to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, by any means necessary.  Any candidate unwilling to do this is unfit for the office.  Additionally, it will be necessary to kick the Russians out of the Middle East, if they are still there, a longer term project perhaps, to deal ruthlessly with Daesh and similar groups, and to begin working on building a genuine international non-proliferation regime.  

Obama has nearly destroyed non-proliferation as a policy; we now have a proliferation regime.  It is imperative that the next president reverse this.  And if it must be done with violence, so be it.  Those who preach the hatred of Western Civilization and the glory of holy Armageddon must never have nuclear weapons.

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