Saturday, July 19, 2008

When will Israel hit the Iranian nuclear program? (part 2)

Chicagodudewhotrades is back with another installment from last week's post.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who read the first part of this. I also want to thank all my friends with blogs who post my articles. Part 2 is mostly your thoughts and ideas about Israel hitting Iran. There are too many people who shared their thoughts with me on this subject, so I'd need pages to name you all. I just want to say "Thank You" to all of you. This article is more random thoughts/possibilities, then a hard article. But it is interesting to just brainstorm this stuff out. Here we go:

Israeli/US possibilities short of airstrikes:

Naval blockade of Iranian ships entering/exiting Persian Gulf: Iran has publicly stated if attacked they will close the Straits of Hormuz. If they can threaten International shipping then why can't we threaten Iranian shipping? Iran makes money if their crude gets out to the market. If their shipping is blocked, there goes their entire economy quick. Granted, Blockades are considered a act of war, but hey, If Iran can threaten this, then I don't see why they can't have it done to them. Another way to do it, would be to allow Iran crude to be exported, but incoming refined product not being allowed into Iran. A not well known fact about Iran is the dismal state of their national refining capacity. This is a country that sits on a sea of the stuff but they have GAS SHORTAGES because their refining capability sucks. If we block tankers from delivering refined gas to Iran their country shuts down.

Something related to the above involves tanker insurance. Readers have noted that the Iranians don't have to totally shut down the Straits to achieve their goal. If they attack 1 or 2 tankers the insurance cost goes through the roof. Once again, this tactic could be used against tankers that carry Iran crude. If you make tankers carrying Iran crude a target, no more tanker trips to Iran. Even if Iran starts hitting tankers, I'm sure the US, Japan (totally dependent on imported gas) and maybe other countries would step up and foot the bill for tanker insurance. Another possibility is 're-flagging' tankers under the Stars and Stripes and giving them USN protection. If Iran hits a US-flagged tanker, then it is game over for Iran.

Some type of airburst of a tactical nuke over Iran that would trigger an EMP-caused shutdown of a lot of Iranian electronics: In case people don't know what an Electromagnetic Pulse is, here is a link of what it is: and here: Personally, I view this idea as extremely unlikely. Even tactical nukes detonated in the air is a huge red line that cannot be taken lightly. Therefore, unless Israel has convincing proof that Iran was about to nuke them, I don't think Israel is considering this as a viable option. Other facts to consider about the EMP idea. The pulse wouldn't stop at Iran's border. Also, I don't think Iran is as fully computerized/technology-dependent a nation like the nations in the West. Yes, an EMP strike over Iran would do them damage, but not on the scale, say, an EMP over London would do.

Israeli hacker attack on Iran's computer systems: Again, doubtful for the reason mentioned above.

This seems to be the limit of non-airstrike ideas. Let us move back to airstrikes and what types could be launched.

Israeli airstrikes on Iranian economic targets: I like it. Make the cost of Iranian nuclear weapons development too expensive for Iran to afford. Effects on Iran's economy already discussed above. Downside: Iranian leadership doesn't seem to give a damn about their people. Iran seems willing to sacrifice their nation in the pursuit of nukes. Therefore , economic problems for their citizens may not even compute to the leadership. Something worth pondering is the affect any type of airstrike would have on the people of Iran. Would they get all nationalistic and rally around the Mullahs, or do the opposite? I just don't know enough about the Iranian people to say anything one way or the other. One more imponderable.

A couple of reader comments about if a Israeli strike would happen before or after the US elections:

"Make Obama take a side on the issue. if he condemns Israel, he could dry up his jewish support including cash. If he supports Israel. the left goes nuts".

"Conventionial wisdom says Israel won't do anything before the US election".

Here are my thoughts. Yes , Israel views the US as a friend, but their domestic security needs will trump the concerns of a effect on US domestic elections any day of the week. PM Olmert looks to be in deep sh$% because of personal corruption issues. I hate to be cynical, but maybe he would green-light an Op to take heat off him? Another personal thought: I think deep down some Israeli political leaders just don't trust Obama to not sell them out. They may as well hit Iran while the US president is a friendly one.

What are Iran's options when they get hit? Would Hezbollah hit targets outside the Mid-East? If Israel hits, would Iran wait until after the US elections to retaliate? Do the Iranians view President Bush as a political aberration? Do they view Obama as more 'understanding' of them? I think Israel needs to get ready for a multi-front retaliatory strike. They may face strikes from Syrian-controlled Lebanon, Gaza, and maybe long-range missiles from Iran.

The Israeli Air force is way smaller than the USAF. If they hit Iran by themselves, because of their smaller size, there is a greater demand for them to get the strikes right. On the bright side, Israel has pretty much been in never-ending conflict since 1948. That type of existential threat to their very lives tends to produce a first-class military. When Israel hits Iran, I think they will do some things that will just totally leave the Iranians 'shocked and awed'. When the IAF hit the Syrian facility back in September, there were some media reports of "On the ground, Syria's formidable air defences went dead." and "since the alleged IAF foray over Syria last week there have been severe disturbances in Lebanese communications systems and cellular frequencies." Here are some links about the September 6 strike:

When Israel hits Iran, it will be interesting. Israel has been fighting against enemies equipped with Soviet gear since 1948. I'm sure the Israelis can write the handbook for some Soviet gear they face better then the original Soviet designers can.

The next couple thoughts aren't really related to a Israeli strike on Iran, but I think they are worth mentioning:

Last week the Iranians test fired over a couple days a bunch of missiles. It turned out that some of the missile launches were duds and had to be photo-shopped to make them look successful.I think the Iranians know they are about to get hit, and are trying to look more powerful then they actually are. They want to try to deter a attack against them. Another reason is that Iran wants to be head of the Muslim world. They want to be the 'biggest, baddest kid on the Muslim block'. To be a leader in the Muslim world, you need to have a powerful military.

I'm not sure about the possibility of this, but it is worth throwing out and talking about. If Iran was to get their hands on nukes, would Israel be the first target for them? There is a huge amount of historical hatred between Muslim Sunni and Shia. Would Shia Iran launch their nukes against Sunni Saudi Arabia? Settle the hatred between them once and for all? Plus, Iran takes out the main competitor of Iranian oil exports. Iran would dominate the global oil market and therefore set the price. I'll admit, this probably isn't likely, but worth the thought.

Once again, I'd like to thank all the folks who offered their ideas about Part 1 of this. I'd also like to apologize that this is more a brainstorm type article then a better organized piece, but I think all these ideas are worth debating.

Thanks for your time,


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