December 30, 2006

Iran Disputes Call: Takes Ball, Goes Home

Hatched by Dafydd

Now that the UN Security Council has voted weak-tea sanctions on Iran for its pell-mell sprint for nuclear weapons, Iran has reacted in the professional, adult manner we've come to expect from President Ahmadinejad and his mullah-masters: they have threatened to "accelerate the country's peaceful nuclear program [!] and revise its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency based on national interests":

Iran's parliament voted Wednesday to urge the government to re-examine its ties with the U.N. nuclear agency following a Security Council decision to impose sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

The move signaled that Iran was likely to reduce its cooperation with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. Iranian state radio predicted that once the bill came into effect, "the agency will become an ineffective and weak body...." [For all those who imagined that until now, the IAEA was a powerful and respected organization before which tyrants trembled in awe.]

"The bill gives a free hand to the government to decide on a range of reactions - from leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to remaining in the International Atomic Energy Agency and negotiating," [Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel] said during the debate in parliament, which was broadcast live on state radio.

Even the French were gobsmacked by this one; the sanctions were so minor, so trivial -- because of opposition by China, Russia, and France to anything stronger -- that everyone expected Iran simply to accept them and move ahead. Thus, their actual reaction, as if someone had come along and filched their favorite toy, had even la Belle France groping for words:

France criticized the move, saying it was "not what we expected from Iran." French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said the Security Council resolution requires Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA.

"We therefore renew our call for Iran to respect its commitments and obligations and cooperate actively with the IAEA," Simonneau said. [And we shall follow your future career with great interest...]

Meanwhile, we learn from the New York Times (none of you ever imagined this, I'm sure) that Iran is simultaneously seeking to expand its influence into Afghanistan. I know this is shocking, but don't turn into a mob, please!

The rise of Hezbollah, with Iran's support, has demonstrated the extent of Tehran's sway in Lebanon, and the American toppling of Saddam Hussein has allowed it to expand its influence in Iraq. Iran has been making inroads into Afghanistan, as well. During the tumultuous 1980s and '90s, Iran shipped money and arms to groups fighting first the Soviet occupation and later the Taliban government. But since the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban in 2001, Iran has taken advantage of the central government's weakness to pursue a more nuanced strategy: part reconstruction, part education and part propaganda.

Iran has distributed its largess, more than $200 million in all, mostly here in the west but also in the capital, Kabul. It has set up border posts against the heroin trade, and next year will begin work on new road and construction projects and a rail line linking the countries. In Kabul, its projects include a new medical center and a water testing laboratory....

Still, there are indications of other motives. Iranian radio stations are broadcasting anti-American propaganda into Afghanistan. Moderate Shiite leaders in Afghanistan say Tehran is funneling money to conservative Shiite religious schools and former warlords with longstanding ties to Iranian intelligence agencies.

And as the dispute over Iran's nuclear program has escalated [leading the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran on Dec. 23], Iranian intelligence activity has increased across Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say. This has included not just surveillance and information collection but the recruitment of a network of pro-Iranian operatives who could attack American targets in Afghanistan. [On Dec. 20 in London, British officials charged the interpreter for NATO's commanding general in Afghanistan with passing secrets to Iran.]

(I only read the first page of the story; it's too long and boring for my mayfly-like attention span. But you're welcome to pore over the rest and report back if there's anything of interest on, say, page 4.)

However, as we noted earlier, much of this "largess" is dependent upon an oil industry that is beginning to crumble. Simply put, the Iranians are so obsessed with getting nukes and building ever more labyrinthian layers of welfare-statism, that they have failed to invest in oil exploration and extraction: the fact that the entire country has just a handful of gasoline refineries is the synecdoche of the problem... such a simple stupidity with such widespread consequences is hard to fathom.

They could still turn it around; but that would require reassessing their national priorities, rather than reassessing their cooperation with the IAEA. If they stay their present course, the money to buy happiness in Afghanistan will dry up, as will the friendly relations: that corner of the globe (if globes can have corners) has never been known for its gratitude.

The collapse of the Iranian oil industry is also something that is well within our power to affect: as historian Arthur Herman wrote in Commentary last month, we could and probably should strike Iran where it would hurt the most... right in their assets:

  1. Deploy anti-submarine, anti-suicide-boat forces throughout the Strait of Hormuz; this will prevent Iran from sinking ships in the strait (though which most of everyone's oil passes) and stopping the engine of the world;
  2. Followed by a "comprehensive air campaign" to destroy Iran's air defenses;
  3. Next, continue the attacks to Iran's nuclear facilities, including infrastructure that supports them (roads, power generators, etc.);
  4. Destroy Iran's gasoline refineries and reserves: they already import 40% of their gasoline, having so little refinery space themselves;
  5. Deploy SF to seize Iran's offshore oil wells and docks fit for off-loading gasoline from ships.

This would bottle up Iran and put them at our mercy (for a change!) -- we could cut off their gasoline supply at a moment's notice. Keep this scenario in mind, as it plays a role in all to follow.

The Iranians are also, of course, trying to "influence" Iraq -- by sending "senior military officials" into Iraq to attack Iraqi forces, American forces, and to funnel weapons to radical Shiite militias:

In its first official confirmation of last week’s raids, the military said it had confiscated maps, videos, photographs and documents in one of the raids on a site in Baghdad. The military confirmed the arrests of five Iranians, and said three of them had been released.

The Bush administration has described the two Iranians still being held Tuesday night as senior military officials. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell IV, the chief spokesman for the American command, said the military, in the raid, had “gathered specific intelligence from highly credible sources that linked individuals and locations with criminal activities against Iraqi civilians, security forces and coalition force personnel.”

Big Lizards translation: Iranians are coming across the border into Iraq and killing American soldiers. To my mind, that is casus belli... especially when coupled with the persistent successes Iran has had in the last couple of years smuggling factory-built bombs (can't really call them "I" EDs anymore, can we?) to pro-Iranian factions within Iraq:

How are these EFPs ["explosively-formed penetrator"] coming into Iraq? Again, to quote the briefer: "Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has established smuggling routes to transport men and supplies into Iraq." Who is using them to kill and wound Americans and other coalition troops? "Iran's Revolutionary Guard has a network in Iraq headed by Abu Mustapha al-Sheibani to commit violence against Coalition forces." That doesn't sound like a nation that has any interest in democracy and stability in Iraq.

Here's another long, boring article you can read about Abu Mustapha [or Mustafa] al-Sheibani, since I'm sure none of you has any cool New Year's Eve parties to attend (I know I don't!)

But again, all of these extracurricular activities depend upon Iran having a huge and reliable cash flow from the oil; were something to happen to that -- especially if that "something" is helped along by the United States -- I suspect the mullahs would abruptly pull the Persian carpet out from under al-Shebang, if that really is his name, as swiftly as they'd withdraw military support from Lebanon's Hezbollah.

So I think we have a pretty clear idea of what we need to do, and it shouldn't even be that difficult. In fact, the tensest moments will be trying to persuade Congress that we cannot win the war on jihadism without doing something about Iran... and that does not mean negotiating our surrender to them!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 30, 2006, at the time of 11:59 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Terrye

New Years? Another year older and deeper in debt.

Me and the mullahs.

I think that Congress is worried about what action against Iran would do to the price of oil. High gas prices piss people off.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 3:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Terrye, all Congress has to do is determine how much money Iran's actions are costing us in Iraq... then lower the gas tax to compensate. Example: If Iran's military attacks in Iran are costing us [warning, fictitious numbers used for sake of argument!] a Billion dollars, and that translates to 10 cents tax collected/gallon of gasoline... then fix the problem with Iran, lower the tax on gasoline by 10 cents/gallon, and the price of gas in the US is not affected at all.

I've no idea how much impact Iran's gasoline supply has on the price of unleaded in the US. Fear and opportunity would drive the price of oil about $100/barrel for a few days, but then at that point previously capped wells will be opened up and more oil will start flowing from other sources, including domestic. Lots of old wells were shut down when the price of oil dropped to the $20-30/bbl levels 5 years ago because at that price they are just not profitable... at $60 it may not pay to restart them, but at $100 I'd bet the pipes would be set back up and stuff.

The point being, we have options in dealing with this, especially in a short or medium term scenario. Iran... does not. Shut down their income and they are lost. It's like they're just a paycheck away from destitution.

While we consider how best to enact this plan (if we do) it would be good to point it out to the other leadership types in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Bernie Sadr, etc... and to make sure they understand Sadr and Achmedinijad's influence on it's timing.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 10:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: DrMalaka

When did Americans become such wimps? What the heck is wrong with us. We sit around and do nothing while Iran and Syria are killing our servicemen and women. I don't get it.

Who cares about the price of oil? Who cares about bad press? These left wingers and the MSM are so concerned about our troops and keep telling us how many of them die, then shouldn't they support doing whatever it takes to save their lives.

We can solve much of this Iran problem in five mintues by destroying their refinerires and oil production. The minute we do that they are on the welfare line and not giving out money throughout the world to spread their religion of terror.

If we need to suck it up economically on our end for a while then so be it. As for the Russian, French and Chinese whores who sell US soldiers' lives for economic profit, too bad for them. What are they going to do to us, start a war? No, they are going to do the same thing they have been doing for the past five years, obstructing us at every turn, so it can't get any worse.

Happy New Year to everyone and lets pray that in the comming year our President can find his Texas sized balls that he seems to have misplaced.

The above hissed in response by: DrMalaka [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 12:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

May I post this link to a hilarious poem that I first read in a Jerry Pournelle "Star Wars" anthology in the early '80s?

The sons of the Prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

Click on it for the whole poem.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 1:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: Texas Jack

1. "IED" = Iranian Explosive Device.
2. We know these IED's are being made in Iran and smuggled into Iraq. Can we not use our alleged superior intelligence equipment (satellites) to locate the construction and storage facilities in Iran? Can we not then launch however many missiles needed to eliminate said facilities?

Back when I was a young trooper, JFK used pictures, shown to the UN and the world, of missiles and launch sites to force the USSR to back down and withdraw said missiles from Cuba. Those missles killed no American troops.
Words and pictures will not make Iran back down. They have killed Americans. These weapons must be destroyed, along with the manufacturing equipment and personnel.
Perhaps such an attack will give pause to the flaming rhetoric coming from these people. It seems they stand tall as long as they are screaming hatred, or attacking civilians, or ambushing from far away. When attacked, however, or suddenly faced with a real stand-up, head-on fight, they fold up and run. It's past time to open a can of serious whup-ass on these people.

The above hissed in response by: Texas Jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 3:08 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

"... since I'm sure none of you has any cool New Year's Eve parties to attend (I know I don't!)"

I don't either but my wife insists that I go to it anyway.

Happy New Year, Dafydd!

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 6:40 PM

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