December 8, 2005

Iran Strategies 1: the Guillotine Gambit

Hatched by Dafydd

According to Paul at Power Line, Mohammed ElBaradei now agrees with Israel that Iran is just months away from having nuclear weapons. The question before the house is what to do about it.

The direct approach, advocated by quite a few folks, is to strike at and destroy the actual nuclear facilities that are driving towards producing warheads at a frenzied pace.

The problem with the direct approach is that there isn't a single nuclear facility, easily destroyed, as there was in Iraq in 1981, when the Israelis destroyed the breeder reactor at Osirak. The Iranians learned from Saddam Hussein's mistake: they now split up the development of nuclear weapons among a number of facilities.

As of 2003, they had declared nine facilities:

  • Tehran Nuclear Research Centre - radioisotope production, waste management
  • Kalaye Electric Company (Tehran) - Uranium enrichment; supposedly dismantled
  • Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant - breeder reactor
  • Isfahan (Esfahan) Nuclear Technology Centre - several reactors and laboratories; fuel manufacturing
  • Natanz - Uranium enrichment
  • Karaj - storage of radioactive waste
  • Lashkar Ab'ad - Uranium laser enrichment plant
  • Arak - reactor, radioisotopes, heavy-water production
  • Anarak - waste storage

I suspect there are other, undeclared facilities; but I'm not sure how capable our CIA is to find them.

In addition, these sites are heavily guarded (particularly with the new surface-to-air missiles that Russia has just sold Iran), sprawling facilities with much of the important sections buried deep under ground with many feet of concrete between the labs and an incoming missile or bomb. It is unlikely that anything short of a full scale attack, possibly using nuclear "bunker-busters" ourselves, would actually have much chance of destroying or even significantly delaying development.

Worse, as the adage has it, if you strike at the king you must slay him. To strike ineffectually at Iran would be worse than useless: it would drive them closer to Russia, it would make them more secretive, they would definitely kick out ElBaradei's IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and things would be far worse for us. It would be a suicide to declare war on Iran via a "sneak attack," but then leave unknown or too well protected nuclear facilities still in operation.

The delivery approach, more subtle than the direct approach, seeks to destroy not the nuclear facilities but the means to deliver them on target.

This would be a lot easier if Iran depended upon fixed silos from which to launch the missiles (currently the Shahab-3 and -5). Unfortunately, the Shahab-3 and its successors can be launched from mobile platforms... meaning launch location cannot be pinpointed in advance and bombed.

An alternative is to defend against the incoming missile en route, either intercepting it head-on with a kinetic kill antimissile, or else navigating an antimissile nearby the incoming missile and exploding it, hoping to destroy or damage the incoming missile. This is the route the Israelis are taking with their Arrow II missile interceptors, and the approach the United States is taking to defend ourselves and our allies from an Iranian (or other foreign power's) offensive missiles using land-based and Aegis shipboard ballistic-missile interceptors.

But this presupposes that we have some idea where the missile shot might come from. If Iran passes some missiles with nuclear warheads to Hezbollah, their terrorist enforcement arm, they can shoot at us from a direction we never expected and which is outside the range of any nearby Aegis-equipped ships -- which would not be under land-based radar arrays and possibly unable to intercept the missile anyway.

True, there are other ways to deliver a warhead to target, including carrying it in a truck. This does dramatically increase the time to delivery and makes the whole process more fragile, as the warhead can be intercepted at any of a number of transitional phases -- such as when it crosses the sea to come to America or across the Mediterranean to Europe. Getting a nuke into Israel is probably unworkable.

In any event, it is quite a suboptimal "solution" to let the Iranians get the Bomb, get the missile delivery system, but just hope we're properly positioned to shoot down the incoming armageddon.

The diplomacy approach, in which we negotiate with Iran and come to a reasonable bargain where Iran will agree to forgo development of nuclear weapons in exchange for something of value from us.


Iran+Agreement <==> Joe Isuzu+Truth. 'Nuff said?

These are the three traditional methods suggested for preventing Iran from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons. Each has its problems, as I've sketched above.

But there is a fourth way, one that is rarely discussed... which is odd, because I consider it the most promising of all.

The Guillotine Gambit severs the ability of Iran to launch an attack on America or our allies at its source.

The nuclear warhead itself can be considered the fist of Iran; the missile that delivers it is the arm. The Iranian Army is the body of Iran, and Hezbollah is the gluteus maximus... the part that the Iranians must constantly sit on for their own security but which is necessary for a lot of dirty functions they would rather not be seen doing.

But connecting and controlling all of these is the head of Iran -- and that is the weakest link. Uneasy sits the turban on the ruling mullahs; Hezbollah, the army, and even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad all take their orders from them, in particular from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Remove this control, and most likely, the nuclear program would simply stop, as its urgency derives from the fear of Iraq (now substantially gone) and the mullahs' desire to destroy Israel, which would hardly be the same intensity of a motivator in the absence of the "revolutionary" government there today.

I'm not literally calling for mass assassinations (though that would be nice; I picture the final scene of the Godfather). Rather, I would like to see a revitalized CIA trigger another "orange revolution," as arose spontaneously in Ukraine a year ago.

The problem here, of course, lies in that phrase, "a revitalized CIA." (Just think what they could do, if they weren't so busy leaking classified data to try to damage President Bush!)

In the absence of such a CIA, my first move would be to have a long talk with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, and MI5, the British national-security service. The questions would be: what can be done to hurry along the collapse of the Iranian mullocracy? When might it happen? Who would be the likely winners -- student groups? the Communists? some "quietist" Shiite movement? Which likely successor rulers are friendly with America, or at least not bitter enemies?

The advantage of the Guillotine Gambit is that it's the only one of the four strategic responses that can be done clandestinely, that doesn't require bringing world opinion around, and that will give us sufficient plausible deniability that it would be hard to pin the revolution on us whether it succeeds or fails. It can be pursued along with any of the other three, quietly and behind the scenes.

The Guillotine Gambit has advantages and applications apart from terminating the nuclear threat from Iran:

  • Cut adrift from the mullahs, Hezbollah will lose tremendous power, not just within Iran but within Syria and Lebanon as well.
  • A less fanatical government might be very amenable to democracy.
  • A large proportion of the Iranian youth, who make up probably two-thirds of Iran's population, are actually pro-America: they like American culture, that is; I don't know what they think of the American government.

This huge wave of people are our natural allies, so long as we don't do anything heavy-handed or imperialistic. An Iraq-style invasion is right out, therefore. Again, Ukraine is the model of what we want to see happen. At the very least, we should be planning how we could bring about such a quiet revolution, or how we would respond if it arose all on its own.

But of course, also keep funding missile defense: belt and suspenders, that's what I say.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 8, 2005, at the time of 5:22 AM

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The following hissed in response by: karrde

Great idea, Dafydd.

I'm just waiting for the President to announce--um--to say tha he's trying to overthrow a Mid-East governmen--um....

You know, great ideas like this one just can't be announced fom the White House press room. I hope it's happening. I hope it's been happening for a year, actually.

But we won't know until something very good (or very bad) happens.

The above hissed in response by: karrde [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 6:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: GM

It is interesting that you mentioned the “Godfather”.

What if Bush got all the leaders of countries like Iran that might possibly be working with terrorists to attend a summit conference and said something very un-PC like this:

"But I'm a superstitious man. And if some unlucky accident should befall one of our cities - If a nuclear device should inexplicably detonate, or if a massive outbreak of some disease should suddenly occur, then I and those who man our nuclear strike forces are going to blame the countries represented by the people in this room, and then we do not forgive. But, that aside, let me say that I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we've made here today and that we will continue to hunt down and kill terrorists only with conventional weapons."

The above hissed in response by: GM [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 8:46 AM

The following hissed in response by: ras


A covertly-sponsored coup, hopefully followed by a democracy, has looked like the best option in Iran all along.

The timing is tight. After Iraq completes its transition to democracy with its upcoming elections (providing an uplifting example to the Iranian people that, yes, real democracy sure as hell is possible for them too), there will just be enough time for a coup before the Iranians can use their nukes. I hope.

I'd presume that the current open talk of a military assault is in part a psy-ops diversion, as well as a stick to make the Iranian people, fearful of war, further support the carrot of a democratic transition instead.

The above hissed in response by: ras [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 1:26 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Great job...much better than STRATFOR’s recent attempts. STRATFOR has become too commercial, and does the Flip-Flop almost as well as Kerry. The latest – “Iran: U.S., Israel Rethink Their Strategies”. Wow...

Life in Prison is apparently much in, if someone looks at you wrong, you don’t make the same mistake (looking instead of taking action) as that someone made, you immediately take that someone out., we all know that Iran is going to end up with Nukes, because the US is not in the position to stop them Militarily (was never the intent to do so...a mistake right from the start):

A large proportion of the Iranian youth, who make up probably two-thirds of Iran's population, are actually pro-America: they like American culture, that is; I don't know what they think of the American government.

We also know (unless Israel has some real secrets) that Israel would have problems reaching just one Iranian Nuke site, and lacks the ability to maintain a bombing campaign against many others or even Iran. i suspect that Iran is like the Prison Inmate who is safe behind bars, threatening you whilst you are also behind bars. Long story at this point, but Iran will go running to the UN (or the US?) long before any Prison ‘Doors’ are opened, and claim that Israel will kill them when the ‘Doors’ are to speak.

It’s really too bad that America’s Left, and now John McCain, sided with the radical Islamists and their Arab/Muslim/Islamic supporters. Such thoughts, talk, inaction, and such led to Saddam’s mistakes, and to the ‘emboldenment’ of the likes of Osama and Al-Qaeda. Now, the Iranian Mullahs are emboldened, even whilst they desperately seek to stay in in *POWER* over Iran’s citizens.

Advantage to radical Islamists once again.

The Sane World *BAFFLES* the to speak.

Before closing, one last quote by Dafydd (BTW, that recent one was mine):

But of course, also keep funding missile defense: belt and suspenders, that's what I say.

The Enemies of Freedom are not into talking, and most certainly are not into accepting any ‘Terms of Surrender’, since they want Victory in this War that they started some decades ago. The Free Civilized *SANE* World has run out of chances (humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me suspects), in my opinion. As far as “belt and suspenders” goes, they last as long as you wear pants (personally, i prefer loincloths), or until 'Someone' Trumps...never mind.

Life on Earth is a *LOT* like Life in a Prison...

If the World is Sane...then i am Insane.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 3:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

i was recently sent a notice to appear for "Jury Duty". i have no clothes for such!!! i wear a loincloth or go naked, and the notice said that "shorts" are a 'no-no'. i wear shorts and a V-Neck Tee-Shirt for shopping.

The notice was clearly another chance to toss me back into Prison, i first thought, especially after a Female Prosecutor there had threatened me with some "Habitual Criminal" Florida statute. Well, what the heck, as i had a second thought, i am a Free Man, and want nothing to do with "Jury Duty". i wrote back, and told them that i was an "ex- Police Officer", and an "ex-Convict" from the State of Florida, and didn't want to deal with a "Court System again". i was "excused" from Jury Duty. i called them, just to make sure, and they were very nice. Hey, if the offender wasn't pleading guilty, then i would've Voted that he was not guilty.


Big deal, i suppose (never applied for it), but did notice one 'Thang...the "except" part. Heck, even before i went to Prison, the paper work and money to own a AK-47 was too much, and now the State was sending me some certificate claiming that they were sorta doing me a favor. The State now said that i could not "own" or possess" a firearm. January 13, 1989...some "RESTORATION".

Still, it felt good, for some reason, and so i watched. Watched almost a decade of liberalism under Bill Clinton go by, and never used that "CERTIFICATE".

Before all of this is over, i suspect, that i shall be able to "possess" *AND* "own" my own AK-47...fully automatic, of course. Some group of radical humans will venture into my swamp, looking for another American to kill, and i will put blow-darts thru all of their necks, and take their AK's and ammo. This is my swamp...

Bring me your AK's!!!

PS. This Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reminds humble me of some former Prison Punks. Mahmoud...*PLEASE* come to my swamp!!!

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 4:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terry Gain

Unfortunately, given that being a leftist, a liberal, or a member of the Democratic Party,is not a bar to employment with the CIA a covert operation would be leaked to the Fifth Columnists and nullified.

Oh, did I mention "We" are losing. Yes anyone reading the Fourth Rail would understand "We" are losing.

First, we lost our Fallujah stronghold, then there was that damn election, then we lost Mosul, then there was that damn Anbar campaign, then the approval of the constitution. Oh s***!

Iraqis fighting alonside Americans. Tal Afar a disaster for us. What if word gets out, despite our alies in the MSM, that this Clear, Hold and Build strategy is working .

We are down to Ramadi, praise Allah.

"We" is the MSM and the Democratic Party and yes they are losing - which is why Howard is madder than hell and not going to take it any longer.

[Comment edited for language. -- the Mgt.]

The above hissed in response by: Terry Gain [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 4:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Dems want to wave a "WHITE FLAG". No doubt about that, huh. i should've never tossed away my to speak gently to such weakness.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 4:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

I am not so sure the Iraqi populations are as ripe for revolution as you suggest, Dafydd. I'd be more inclined to favor an aggressive deterrent strategy.
Threaten, then bomb selected targets.
Repeat until the desired result is achieved.

Iranian students have national pride in their nuclear weapons program. One thing arabs have in quantity, pride.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 2:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: Alexandra von Maltzan

All Things Beautiful TrackBack Extraction Of The Stone Of Iranian Madness:

"President Bush performing an extraction of the stone of madness on The Iranian President Ahmadinejad with Pope Benedict and Michelle Malkin looking on. The original is called "The Cure of Folly" (Extraction of the Stone of Madness) by Hieronymus BOSCH, ca. 1475-80 Museo del Prado, Madrid"

The above hissed in response by: Alexandra von Maltzan [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 6:57 PM

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