Apparently, neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia will countenance Vice-President Biden’s advice of 2008 to “get used to” the idea of a nuclear Iran.

This article from the Times of London:

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

The article goes on to say:

Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said: “I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.”…

Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.

With the latest bombastic disregard for yet more UN sanctions, Ahmedinejad is keeping Iran on a military collision course with Israel and regional powers over its nuclear program, which nobody believes has peaceful purposes alone. As of this time, President Obama has committed to only diplomatic efforts to halt Iranian enrichment.

As those diplomatic efforts seem destined to fail rather spectacularly again and Iran’s nuclear program expands in both capacity and sophistication, the United States should take counsel of those nations in the region for which a nuclear Iran represents a serious threat to their very existence. Perhaps it is the US that needs to “get used to” the idea that regional powers that possibly include Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel intend to intervene by force of arms to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And the US should plan accordingly to back the play of those nations who are willing to step up.




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Aviation, Coast Guard, Foreign Policy, History, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Navy


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  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney

    So it would be (Israel,) Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan vs. Turkey, Syria, and Iran? I don’t like the lineups, URR, and we shouldn’t get involved militarily without unequivocal UN Security Council approval.

    Where would the Russians (and Chinese) stand in this?

    In 1941, Britain and Russia invaded Iran from 2 different directions … successfully.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Lou,

    I am not sure if Turkey winds up in the Iran/Syria camp. Not sure they don’t, but not a foregone conclusion.

    Don’t think unequivocal UNSC approval is ever a possibility here. But that should not freeze us into inaction. Truth is, we are involved militarily. The trick will be what the nature and level of involvement would be, should it come to it.

    Russia will back Iran (hence the UNSC doubts) and China will stick it to the US to the maximum extent possible without running counter to her own interests.

    Whatever, the goal has to be the prevention of Iran obtaining a nuclear arsenal. Why? Well, to paraphrase Norman Friedman’s superb analysis in this month’s PROCEEDINGS, nuclear war is NOT unthinkable to A-jad and Iran. If we are to take him at his word, then he believes the destruction of Israel with nuclear weapons would usher in a “new age of Islam”. The US doesn’t seem to take such threats seriously. Israel, and Iran’s Muslim neighbors, haven’t the luxury of ignoring them.

  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney

    Yes, URR, Iran must be stopped from getting the Bomb, but not at the cost of starting World War 3 in the Mideast or the Formosa Straits.

    Let’s see if the sanctions work.

  • Derrick

    I quickly looked at the map and I believe Iran is bordered by Iraq on the west and Afghanistan on the east, so is it possible for US customs personnel to search packages entering Iran that seem to violate the sanctions?

    Also, for Iran to produce a viable nuclear weapon, wouldn’t they have to violate the Test Ban Treaty? What type of nuclear weapon does it seem they are trying to manufacture? Fusion driven or fission driven?

    How deep can US fighter-bombers reach into Iran if launched from Iraq? How about from Afghanistan? What about from a carrier based in the Persian Gulf? How long for the jets, presumably F-18s(?), to travel into central Iran?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Iran must be stopped from getting the Bomb, but not at the cost of starting World War 3 in the Mideast or the Formosa Straits.”

    Failing to do so will almost guarantee it.

    Let’s see if the sanctions work. Plan B?

  • YNSN

    This entry is about strange bedfellows. But, the follow through discussion only states what the status quo has been in Nations outside of the Middle East supporting either Iran or the rest of the Gulf.

    Turkey will not rush to the support of Iran if the State Department applies its soft power appropriately. The Saudi’s can get their whole pininsula on their side.

    The diplomatic side of all this is very interesting and unpredictable. roll the clock back 3 years and you’ll find that under the Bush Administration, getting Russia and China onboard with additional sanctions against Iran would have been impossible.

    What is scary is the polarization that Iran is causing in the Mid East. We do not have to many more years, or even one more round of sanctions till we see other nations in the gulf start working towards their own bomb. Something definitive is going to need to happen, and soon. Otherwise we will all need to get used to the idea of a nuclear armed Gulf.

    One thing is certain, the issues in Gaza are not allowing a strong effort against Iran, and until that is resolved Iran will be able to leverage that as a wedge between those who would seek to use a united front against them.

  • Paul

    Has anyone here read Ralph Peters new book “Endless War”? I’m looking at the stuff on it on Amazon and what (at least what’s there) seems to be relevant to this discussion. From what I’m gleaning, we’re looking at this conflict from a strictly rational, economic, geopolitical viewpoint while the Taliban and Iran are looking at it as a clash of cultures and ideology.

    The former gives the possibility of an end where either the economic and geopolitical goals are met (rational, right? ) and the latter is bent on the destruction of either the enemy or conversion of the same (irrational in today’s world).

    Given what the whack job is doing in Tehran with his bombast and refusal to negotiate with anything resembling honesty, does this viewpoint make sense?

    One of my favorite lines from a play is “It is pointless to match wits with the insane…” seems to apply to any negotiations with Iran at this point.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “under the Bush Administration, getting Russia and China onboard with additional sanctions against Iran would have been impossible.”

    Not true YNSN. UNSC passed 1747 back in 2006, and 1803 in the spring of 2008.

    Even with current sanctions, Russia is asserting that most of its arms dealing with Iran is still permissible.

  • Awetherhorn

    In the late 1930’s Stalin sent his foreign minister, Litvinov, to try to get other countries to join in standing up to Hitler. He failed. Stalin sacked him, replaced him with Molotov, and promptly signed a treaty with Germany to divide up Poland. At the time it looked like even stranger bedfellows.
    Someone ought to remind the more intransigent powers considering how to keep Ira from going nuclear of the comment Winston Churchill made back then. “They had to choose between shame and war. they chose shame. And in the end, they will also get war.”
    Does VP Biden think that Israel is big enough to adopt a second strike posture? or that Iran under Ahmedinijad operates under the same sort of rational thinking that governs most of our thinking?
    America hasn’t faced this kind of fanaticism since the Japanese Kamikazes. It scared the daylights out of our troops then, but they managed to deal with the threat. Nazi Germany talked about fighting to the last man, but the Japanese really did it. Not all Muslims today are extremists, but I don’t want to wait to find out which is which by having one blow himself up on my doorstep.

  • http://threatswatch.org/ Steve Schippert

    Lou asked “Where would the Russians (and Chinese) stand in this?”

    Let’s do some basic math:

    Israel, US Ally — -1
    Egypt, US Ally — -1
    SaudiA, US Ally — -1
    Jordan, US Ally — -1

    Iran, Russian Ally-US Enemy — +1
    Turkey, Floundering NATO mbr — +1
    Syria, Iran Ally, Russian Port — +1

    “Survey Says?!?”

    Survey says your question is rhetorical, with all due respect.

  • Derrick

    It is interesting to note that Saudi Arabia is willing to cooperate militarily with Israel against Iran. I can still remember the days where usually all the Arab states would unite against Israel…it seems those days are starting to pass…

    So I’m also curious as to why Iran would pursue a nuclear weapons program when one of its strongest neighbours, Saudi Arabia, appears very opposed to it. Any ideas why?

    Also, have Saudi Arabia and Israel conducted combined exercises with both their air forces working cooperatively to destroy potential Iranian nuclear weapons?

    Finally, is there definitive proof that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon? Any satellite photos of potential test facilities or weapons related facilities?

  • http://threatswatch.org/ Steve Schippert

    Your 3 questions, Derrick, in quick reply:

    1. Iran does not need or seek Saudi approval for nuclear weapons. So Saudi Arabia is opposed to it. Quite naturally so. The USSR was opposed to our missile defense research, too. One has to understand the convergence of the Shi’a /and/ Persian psyche (small man’s complex) to really get at the heart of it.

    2. Saudi Arabia will not perform joint exercises of any sort with Israeli Jews. End. …they will, however, shut down and turn and look the other way while a superior Israeli air force takes bold action against a shared foe.

    3. Was there photographic evidence of the Manhattan Project? This is a quite silly requirement. There are, however, pieces of evidence include HEU traces at nuclear sites razed by the Iranians before IAEA inspectors could get there; High-Explosives sites and testing near nuclear and missile facilities (with blast signatures consistent with HE implosion triggers required for uranium fision warheads); Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps high-level presence at North Korean nuclear test blast exposition; Iranian scientists and IRGC officers killed when Israel destroyed Syria’s clandestine plutonium plant being constructed by North Koreans (who also lost men in the attack).

    At some point, Derrick, you simply have to make a judgement call based on a preponderance of the evidence when dealing with a threat where the consequences are so dire.

    It is one thing – and an admirable thing – to desire ever more information for the most well-informed decision possible. But there is such a thing as waiting so long for perfect spring planting weather that summer arrives and your season is lost.

    A regime that tortures and murders its own for self-preservation while making threats and fostering terrorism is not to be trusted with the world’s most powerful weapons. Ever.

    You must decide. Time is short. Probably less than a year.

  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney

    We have been Israel’s ally. Judging from its past and present behavior, it has never been ours.

    There is no proof at all that air/missile strikes alone will take out Iran’s nuclear weapon potential. The Iranians aren’t stupid and have most certainly hidden, dispersed, and hardened their key sites. And once it is attacked, it will claim all the justification necessary to develop … and use … nuclear weapons.

    This wouldn’t be a limited, surgical operation any more than Mogadishu 1993 – Black Hawk Down – was.

    Unless Russia throws in on moving against Iran … on land as well as in the air … attacking Iran will only escalate the Mideast wars and threshold another world war.

    And we should by now have learned our lesson to not act against world opinion … again.

    People here forget … or have never known … how easily and uncertainly a world war CAN start.

    And as isolated as we have become – again, Turkey and even Brazil are now against us too?? – there is a real chance we would be defeated and destroyed far more utterly than the World War 2 Axis powers were.

    We must not allow ourselves be drawn into an even greater strategic mess than we are already in.

    I cannot believe our Joint Chiefs of Staff support us attacking Iran or overtly supporting that, at this point.

    Again, the sanctions and the Iranians must be given their chance, and then we must go back to the UN Security Council, before WE do anything.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, failing the sanctions having desired effect, or a UNSC Resolution, we do NOTHING?

    I would take my chances on being Winston Churchill versus Neville Chamberlain.

  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney

    If Britain had been under Churchill at the start of World War 2 and he had authorized an attack on German forces/ships without a declaration of war, the American public and probably much of the Commonwealth would have washed their hands of Britain and the war for a fatally critical period, URR.

    It was vital that Hitler initiated the hostilities and showed himself to be the bad guy, just as it was that the Japanese did so against us … and our democratic leaders at the time understood that.

    And a “pre-emptive” attack on Japan by us before 7 December 1941 would have been both a military and moral/political disaster, which probably would have meant our defeat, if not an outright revolution at home by a war-weary and -wary American people, who did not want to get involved in another world war.

    I am especially disappointed in Norman Friedman, that he has invoked hysterical rhetoric like portraying a new age of Islam from an Iranian nuclear destruction of Israel. We obviously need a more objective analysis than his, if we are to find a safe way through this situation for everyone. Norman has enjoyed the Navy’s esteem – he’s one of the USNI’s featured speakers – but he has gone too far in this.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    As for Norman Friedman’s “rhetoric”, the words came from Ahmedinejad. If you are to ignore the declarations of someone vowing the destruction of another country because of their race/religion, then perhaps we need somewhat less than that kind of specious analysis couched as “objective”.

    Doing nothing. We have tried it before.

    “The world had spent the majority of the (1930s) negotiating with a cruel and despotic dictator whose virulent anti-semitism and design for world domination had been lain open in Mein Kampf for all to see and read.

    Among the first acts of this dictator is to withdraw his country from the League of Nations (1933). The hope of controlling his ambitions through collective security was shattered forever. Shortly afterward, agents of his country had a direct hand in the assassination of a neighboring head of state, with the murder of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934.

    The democracies of Europe, England and France, recoiling from the horrors of the last war, looked the other way as this dictator acquired and developed weapons in direct violation of existing treaties, creating an air force and tank force. To challenge such violations was to risk war. And a European war was an unthinkable, to be avoided at all costs.

    Emboldened, this dictator marched into the Rhineland in 1936, an area that had been forbidden military forces and fortifications. Again, rationalizing that such an act could be reasonably justified, and was not worth risking a wider European war, the European Democracies did nothing.

    In 1937, as civil war raged in Spain, this dictator sent his legions with their new weapons to use this civil war as a testing ground. Those weapons had been developed and tested with the complicity of Russia, ruled by another dictator whose enemy was the West. The Democracies of Europe were once again silent. To challenge this dictator risked provoking him, leading to a wider European war.

    There were those, like Churchill, who warned of this dictator and his ambitions, but were shouted down and dismissed as war-mongers for preaching preparedness and strength. War must be avoided. The dictator’s ambitions, satiated.

    The next year, 1938, singing the now-familiar tune of “protection of German minorities from persecution” amidst the supposed chaos of unrest, this dictator subsumed Austria. Expressly forbidden by the Versailles and St Germain treaties, the Anschluss (joining) was allowed to stand, for fear of risking a wider European war.

    In the autumn of that year, once again tales of abuse of Germans at the hands of an ethnic majority led to demands for annexation of the Czech Sudetenland. This time, Europe’s Democracies actively participated in the dismantling, meeting at Munich and handing over the territory of a sovereign nation. They did so clinging to the promise that this act of betrayal represented the dictator’s “last territorial demand in Europe”.

    Chamberlain returned from Munich to a hero’s welcome, waving the document that represented “peace in our time”. A sigh of relief, war had once again been averted. “Peace in our time” would last exactly 334 days.

    In March of 1939, this dictator’s army occupied the rest of unfortunate Czechoslovakia. Without the modern fortifications of the Sudetenland so graciously handed the Germans, the Czechs were defenseless.

    By the summer of 1939, rumblings in the East centered around the city of Danzig, whose German population “suffered” at the hands of the Poles. By August, agitation among the Germans in Danzig made it clear to even the wildest optimist in the European Democracies that the dictator had found his casus belli.

    Yet, in the previous six years, the Western Democracies had stood idly by while the dictator had:

    * Violated the peace treaty by building and testing banned weapons and expanding his armed forces
    * Brought about the assassination of the head of a neighboring state
    * Reoccupied the Rhineland
    * Sent forces to be battle tested in Spain
    * Annexed Austria
    * Grabbed the Sudetenland
    * Occupied Czechoslovakia

    This had not satiated the dictator’s thirst for conquest. Instead, such vacillation, weakness, and inaction had only emboldened. “My enemies are worms,” the dictator had said. “I saw them at Munich”.

    So, when the Poles refused to accede to the threats of the dictator, there would be war. All that had been surrendered, all that had been conceded, the honor that had been betrayed in order to prevent war had been for naught.

    On 1 September 1939, war came after all. The dictator had wanted it all along. He had told us so. We simply hadn’t the courage to believe him.”

  • Rick Wilmes

    “And a “pre-emptive” attack on Japan by us before 7 December 1941 would have been both a military and moral/political disaster, which probably would have meant our defeat, if not an outright revolution at home by a war-weary and -wary American people, who did not want to get involved in another world war.”

    I am sure that those individuals who lost there lives during the attack of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 would think otherwise.

    It is time that we take the Islamist Totalitarians rhetoric for what it means,  Destruction of Western civilisation and individual rights and liberty.  It is time for those of us that value freedom to demand that the Islamic Totalitarians suffer the same fate as the Nazi and the samurai.

  • YNSN

    What are the odds that the one, or two odd missiles tipped with a nuke could fall short, and land on the Saudi’s? What are the Odd’s of the Israeli’s intercepting the missile mid-course? Or, us intercepting it during the boots phase, or mid-course?

    I read somewhere that the reason why China got onboard with this latest round of sanctions is that Israel sent an envoy and basically told the Chinese ‘All he11 will break loose, cause we will bomb the day-lights out of Iran if you don’t vote for sanctions.’

    I believe that, too.

    This whole scenario is up to Israel. The need to chose between attacking those on their door step (Iranian’s proxies) and attacking the source. They cannot do both, their enemies designed their forces for Israel to be unable to attack both, it is a strategy that has thus far been sucessful.

    It is not that we are doing nothing, it is not that Israel is doing nothing. It is that the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s proxies, and Israel’s strategy are keeping us from taking any action.

  • Paul

    Something I’m considering about Chamberlain– of course in my old age I forgot the source…

    It’s been suggested that Chamberlain was not the naive fool that everyone in history claims him to be. The British military in 1938 was in terrible condition and in no state to start a conflict with Germany over Sudetenland. Chamberlain’s play gave GB a chance to get it’s collective act together for the coming of the war.

    Of course the differences between the 30’s and now are pretty self-evident. Germany was developing a new mode of warfare that the rest of the world refused to see– even though authors such as BH Liddell Hart, Guderian and Rommel had been writing about. Patton, another proponent was also conveniently ignored until it was too late. But, the newsreels of jackbooted troops marching into Austria and a dearth of intelligence makes for powerful images, right?

    Tactically, Iran doesn’t have much over the rest of the Mid east. It can be argued by them that their upgraded tanks are awesome, but who knows? They fought to a stalemate against Iraq during their fracas. Because of their centralized command system I’ll bet that their operational thinking is pretty doctrine oriented, rather than relying on individual initiative.

    Strategically, Iran has one trump card that is of huge concern– control over a choke point that will be key in this coming fight. We may approach this conflict, whether cold or hot, as a war of limited objectives, but the whack job won’t. For his beliefs, it’s a holy war, and that means no boundaries at all, while we always try to fight with boundaries and objectives. Then there is the consideration that we will try to limit the conflict to the region while they won’t have a problem spreading it over the globe through proxies and suicide cells.

    To be forward thinking– the Army had better start training some formations for conventional conflict again– mass combined operations a la Desert Storm and the Navy had better beef up it’s shallow water ASW practice and mine hunting capabilities. They’ll be in desperate need if this goes hot.

  • Derrick

    Why do you suggest the army start training for conventional conflict again? Do you believe the only way to stop the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program is with a full invasion? This may be very costly as I’ve been told that the US military is already stretched to the max with ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Would it be possible for nuclear weapons facilities to be targeted and attacked by cruise missiles or air strikes?

    Also, aren’t there other middle eastern nations concerned about Iran’s nuclear program other than Israel and Saudi Arabia? What about Egypt and Jordan?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Paul,

    While a significant amount of the blame for beginning the policy of appeasing Hitler can be placed at No. 10 Downing Street during MacDonald’s and Baldwin’s tenures there, the fact remains that it was Chamberlain took an active hand in dismantling another sovereign nation. The eyewitness description of those meetings evoke both deep sadness and near-rage. The disgrace and dishonor in that act at Munich, and the subsequent delusion of “peace in our time” falls entirely on his shoulders.

    Any other assertion is strictly revisionist and ill-informed by fact.

  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney

    Good post, Paul. I don’t think this would stay a a “surgical strike” and/or “limited” war, either, and other, bigger players may enter the game … in the Gulf or much farther to the east … if we get enmired.

    Also, letting Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt support/allow an Israeli strike could ignite a regional war we would find very hard to stay out of. And would there be internal, popular backlash against their governments? (The Idleworm Gulf War 2 game http://www.idleworm.com/nws/2002/11/iraq2.shtml needs to be updated, but the outcome portrayed could be much the same.)

    I think everyone here agrees that a nuclear weaponed Iran is totally unacceptable, but if WE move militarily we need world opinion firmly on our side and Russia’s active involvement … on land, even. Right now, it seems happy to stand back and let us put our foot in another bucket, but surely the Russians realize they will be threatened at least as much by Iranian nuclear missiles and that much of their influence in the Muslim Central Asian states will be won away.

  • Derrick

    My biggest concern over an unilateral US invasion into Iran over alleged nuclear weapons is that if no conclusive evidence can be found that Iran has been actively developing such weapons, the world may turn against US.

  • Paul

    I’m not trying to revise history– what followed for the next six years totally blows out what he may have been secretly thinking when he made the deal– If GB and France were able to stop the Wehrmacht at the Belgian border than things would be seen differently, but that’s not the way it panned out so Chamberlain goes down as the ultimate appeaser.

    As for changing training with our current deployments in Southwest Asia, at some point there will be a drawdown and there needs to be a shift in focus from fighting that kind of COIN to something more, well, traditional. I’m not advocating invasion at all, but my fear is that Iran has it’s own agenda that doesn’t fit with what we’re currently fighting and we’ll be caught short.

    I don’t put anything past him— including an invasion of Iraq to “free the Shi’a brothers oppressed by the Sunni-Zionist-Great Satan Conspiracy.” Whatever Iran may be up to, it won’t fit into our ideas of what that conflict will be like. I imagine that there are hundreds of Iranian intelligence agents analyzing our operations and doctrine looking for ways to exploit what we do or don’t do.

    We have a history of underestimating the level of commitment to confrontation our enemies have despite evidence to the contrary. You’d have thought the sinking of the Panay would’ve been a clue to the US that perhaps Japan wasn’t really interested in talking, or that when their Carrier Strike Force disappeared there might be something afoot but that’s not our way, is it?

    Iran’s sending of agents into Iraq has been established as fact, right? Laying an intelligence groundwork for future operations? Do we put boots on the ground anywhere just for the heck of it or is there something behind our moves?

    Another thought– any information out there about Iran’s chemical/biological efforts?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Paul,

    Not suggesting you were trying to re-write history. Nothing of the sort. But those who poke around in the genre long enough will find apologists and rehabilitationists for just about every historical figure. Some perfectly justified, some not so much.

    And you are very correct in your comment that we need to pay heed to high-intensity conflict. Lose AFG and it can put you in a hurt locker and do long-range damage. Lose a force-on-force with a comparable adversary and you change the world forever. Nations cease to exist that way.

    Your comments also about missed signals (IJN Combined Fleet putting to sea, attack on Panay, and AW’s point about the Litvinov/Molotov change with USSR) is valid, though I would NOT include 9/11 in that.

    I apologize if my above comments came off as accusatory. Not at all what I intended. Many of your observations are excellent.

    URR

  • Paul

    Hi Ultima

    No apologies needed! If we can’t open debate here then what’s the point, right? Thank you for the compliment as well– I appreciate the thought you put into yours.

    I totally agree with your point about 9/11 though. William Manchester in his book “The Glory and the Dream” about American hubris leading up to the attack in 1941– well worth revisiting over and over about the dangers of complacency and training for the next war with the previous wars methods.

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