Archive for the ‘Iran / Israel War’ category

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part II: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

October 11, 2015

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part II: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, Israel National News, Prof. Louis René Beres, October 11, 2015

(Part I is available here. — DM)

Israel should now be calculating the exact extent or subtlety with which it should consider communicating key portions of its nuclear posture and positions. Naturally, Israel should never reveal any too-specific information about its nuclear strategy, its nuclear hardening, or even its nuclear yield-related capabilities. Still, sometimes, the duty of finely-honed intelligence services should not be to maximize strategic secrecy, but rather, to carefully “share” certain bits of pertinent information.


How will Russia respond to any ramped up American uses of force in the Middle East, and, more plausibly, vice-versa?  One must assume that Jerusalem is already asking these key questions, and even wondering whether, in part, greater mutualities of interest could sometime exist with Moscow than with Washington.

To wit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in September 2015. Among other things, the Israeli leader must  be calculating: 1)Will the Obama Administration’s incoherent retreat from most of the Middle East point toward a more permanent United States detachment from the region; and 2) If it does, what other major powers are apt to fill the resultant vacuum? Just as importantly, and as an obvious corollary to (2), above, the prime minister should be inquiring: “How will the still-emerging Cold War II axis of conflict impact America’s pertinent foreign policy decisions?”

There are some additional ironies yet to be noted. Almost certainly, ISIS, unless it is first crushed by U.S. and/or Russian-assisted counter-measures, will plan to march westward across Jordan, ultimately winding up at the borders of West Bank (Judea/Samaria). There, ISIS Jihadists could likely make fast work of any still-posted Hamas and Fatah forces, in effect, taking over what might once have become “Palestine.” In this now fully imaginable scenario, the most serious impediment to Palestinian statehood is not Israel, but rather a murderous band of Sunni Arab terrorists.[16]

What about the larger picture of “Cold War II?” Israeli defense planners will need to factor into their suitably nuanced calculations the dramatically changing relationship between Washington and Moscow. During “Cold War I,” much of America’s support for the Jewish State had its most fundamental origins in a perceived need to compete successfully in the Middle East with the then Soviet Union. In the progressive development of “Cold War II,” Jerusalem will need to carefully re-calculate whether a similar “bipolar” dynamic is once again underway, and whether the Russian Federation might, this time around, identify certain strategic benefits to favoring Israel in regional geo-politics.

In all such strategic matters, once Israel had systematically sorted through the probable impact of emerging “superpower” involvements in the Middle East, Jerusalem would need to reassess its historic “bomb in the basement.” Conventional wisdom, of course, has routinely pointed in a fundamentally different policy direction. Still, this “wisdom” assumes that credible nuclear deterrence is simply an automatic result of  physically holding nuclear weapons. By the logic of this too-simplistic argument, removing Israel’s nuclear bomb from the “basement” would only elicit new waves of global condemnation, and would likely do so without returning any commensurate security benefits to Jerusalem.

Scholars know, for good reason, that the conventional wisdom is often unwise. Looking ahead, the strategic issues facing Israel are not at all uncomplicated or straightforward.  Moreover, in the immutably arcane world of Israeli nuclear deterrence, it can never really be adequate that enemy states merely acknowledge the Jewish State’s nuclear status. Rather, it is also important that these states should be able to believe that Israel holds usable nuclear weapons, and that Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv would be willing to employ these usable weapons in certain clear, and situationally recognizable, circumstances.

Current instabilities in the Middle East will underscore several good reasons to doubt that Israel could ever benefit from any stubborn continuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity. It would seem, too, from certain apparent developments already taking place within Mr. Netanyahu’s “inner cabinet,” that portions of Israel’s delegated leadership must now more fully understand the bases of any such informed skepticism.

In essence, Israel is imperiled by compounding and inter-related existential threats that justify its fundamental nuclear posture, and that require a correspondingly purposeful strategic doctrine. This basic need exists well beyond any reasonable doubt. Without such weapons and doctrine, Israel could not expectedly survive over time, especially if certain neighboring regimes, amid expanding chaos,  should soon become more adversarial, more Jihadist, and/or less risk-averse.

Incontestably, a purposeful nuclear doctrine could prove increasingly vital to coping with various more-or-less predictable strategic scenarios for Israel, that is, those believable narratives requiring preemptive action, and/or an appropriate retaliation.

Typically, military doctrine carefully describes how national forces should fight in various combat operations. The literal definition of “doctrine” derives from Middle English, from the Latin doctrina, meaning teaching, learning, andinstruction. Though generally unrecognized, the full importance of doctrine lies not only in the several ways that it can animate and unify military forces, but also in the uniquely particular fashion that it can transmit certain desired “messages.”

In other words, doctrine can serve an increasingly imperiled  state as a critical form of communication, one directed to its friends, and also to its foes.

Israel can benefit from just such broadened understandings of doctrine. The principal security risks now facing Israel are really more specific than general or generic. This is because Israel’s extant adversaries in the region will likely be joined, at some point, by: (1) a new Arab state of “Palestine;” and/or by (2) a newly-nuclear Iran. It is also because of the evidently rekindled global spark of “bipolar” or “superpower” adversity, and the somewhat corollary insertion of additional American military forces to combat certain new configurations of Jihadi terror.

For Israel, merely having nuclear weapons, even when fully recognized in broad outline by enemy states, can never automatically ensure successful deterrence. In this connection, although starkly counter-intuitive, an appropriately selective and thoughtful end to deliberate ambiguity could improve the overall credibility of Israel’s nuclear deterrent.  With this point in mind, the potential of assorted enemy attack prospects in the future could be reduced by making available certain selected information concerning the safety of  Israel’s nuclear weapon response capabilities.

This crucial information, carefully limited, yet more helpfully explicit, would center on the distinctly major and inter-penetrating issues of Israeli nuclear capability and decisional willingness.

Skeptics, no doubt, will disagree. It is, after all, seemingly sensible to assert that nuclear ambiguity has “worked” thus farWhile Israel’s current nuclear policy has done little to deter multiple conventional terrorist attacks, it has succeeded in keeping the country’s enemies, singly or in collaboration, from mounting any authentically existential aggressions. This conclusion is not readily subject to any reasonable disagreement.

But, as the nineteenth-century Prussian strategic theorist, Karl von Clausewitz, observed, in his classic essay, On War, there may come a military tipping point when “mass counts.” Israel is already coming very close to this foreseeable point of no return. Israel is very small.  Its enemies have always had an  undeniable advantage in “mass.”

More than any other imperiled state on earth, Israel needs to steer clear of such a tipping point.

This, too, is not subject to any reasonable disagreement.

Excluding non-Arab Pakistan, which is itself increasingly coup-vulnerable, none of Israel’s extant Jihadi foes has “The Bomb.”  However, acting together, and in a determined collaboration, they could still carry out potentially lethal assaults upon the Jewish State. Until now, this capability had not been possible, largely because of insistent and  persistently overriding fragmentations within the Islamic world. Looking ahead, however, these same fragmentations could sometime become a source of special danger to Israel, rather than remain a continuing source of  national safety and reassurance.

An integral part of Israel’s multi-layered security system lies in the country’s ballistic missile defenses, primarily, the Arrow or “Hetz.” Yet, even the well-regarded and successfully-tested Arrow, now augmented by the newer and shorter-range iterations of “Iron Dome,” could never achieve a sufficiently high probability of intercept to meaningfully protect Israeli civilians.[17] No system of missile defense can ever be “leak proof,” and even a single incoming nuclear missile that somehow managed to penetrate Arrow or corollary defenses could conceivably kill tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Israelis.[18]

In principle, at least, this fearsome reality could be rendered less prospectively catastrophic if Israel’s traditional reliance on deliberate ambiguity were suitably altered.

Why alter? The current Israeli policy of an undeclared nuclear capacity is unlikely to work indefinitely. Leaving aside a Jihadi takeover of already-nuclear Pakistan, the most obviously unacceptable “leakage” threat would come from a nuclear Iran. To be effectively deterred, a newly-nuclear Iran would require convincing assurance that Israel’s atomic weapons were both (1) invulnerable, and (2) penetration-capable.

Any Iranian judgments about Israel’s capability and willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons would then depend largely upon some prior Iranian knowledge of these weapons, including their expected degree of protection from surprise attack, as well as Israel’s expected capacity to “punch-through” all pertinent Iranian active and passive defenses.

Jurisprudentially, at least, following JCPOA in Vienna, a  nuclear weapons-capable Iran is a fait accompli. For whatever reasons, neither the “international community” in general, nor Israel in particular, had ever managed to create sufficient credibility concerning a once-timely preemptive action. Such a critical defensive action would have required very complex operational capabilities, and could have generated Iranian/Hezbollah counter actions that might have a  very significant impact on the entire Middle East. Nevertheless, from a purely legal standpoint, such preemptive postures could still have been justified, under the authoritative criteria of anticipatory self-defense, as permitted under customary international law.

It is likely that Israel has undertaken some very impressive and original steps in cyber-defense and cyber-war, but even the most remarkable efforts in this direction will not be enough to stop Iran altogether. Earlier, the “sanctions” sequentially leveled at Tehran – although certainly better than nothing – could have had no tangible impact on effectively halting Iranian nuclearization.

Strategic assessments can sometimes borrow from a Buddhist mantra. What is, is. Ultimately, a nuclear Iran could decide to share some of its nuclear components and materials with Hezbollah, or with another kindred terrorist group. Ultimately, amid growing regional chaos, such injurious assets could find their way to such specifically U.S- targeted groups as ISIS.

Where relevant, Israeli nuclear ambiguity could be loosened by releasing certain very general information regarding the availability and survivability of appropriately destructive  nuclear weapons.

Israel should now be calculating the exact extent or subtlety with which it should consider communicating key portions of its nuclear posture and positions. Naturally, Israel should never reveal any too-specific information about its nuclear strategy, its nuclear hardening, or even its nuclear yield-related capabilities. Still, sometimes, the duty of finely-honed intelligence services should not be to maximize strategic secrecy, but rather, to carefully “share” certain bits of pertinent information.

What about irrational enemies? An Israeli move from ambiguity to disclosure would not likely help in the case of an irrational nuclear enemy. It is even possible, in this regard, that particular elements of Iranian leadership might meaningfully subscribe to certain end-times visions of a Shiite apocalypse. By definition, any such enemy would not necessarily value its own continued national survival more highly than any other national preference, or combination of preferences. By definition, any such enemy would present a genuinely unprecedented strategic challenge.

Were its leaders to become authentically irrational, or to turn in expressly non-rational directions, Iran could then effectively become a nuclear suicide-bomber in macrocosm.  Such a profoundly destabilizing strategic prospect is improbable, but it is also not inconceivable. A similarly serious prospect exists in already-nuclear Pakistan.

To protect itself against military strikes from irrational enemies, especially those attacks that could carry existential costs, Israel will need to reconsider virtually every aspect and function of its nuclear arsenal and doctrine. This is a strategic reconsideration that must be based upon a number of bewilderingly complex intellectual calculations, and not merely on ad hoc, and more-or-less presumptively expedient political judgments.

Removing the bomb from Israel’s basement could enhance Israel’s strategic deterrence to the extent that it would heighten enemy perceptions of the severe and likely risks involved. This would also bring to mind the so-called Samson Option, which, if suitably acknowledged, could allow various enemy decision-makers to note and underscore a core assumption. This is that Israel is prepared to do whatever is needed to survive. Interestingly, such preparation could be entirely permissible under governing international law, including the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.[19]

Irrespective of  its preferred level of ambiguity, Israel’s nuclear strategy must always remain oriented toward deterrence, not to actual war-fighting.[20] The Samson Option refers to a policy that would be based in part upon a more-or-less implicit threat of massive nuclear retaliation for certain anticipated enemy aggressions.  Israel’s small size means, inter alia, that any nuclear attack would threaten Israel’s very existence, and could not be tolerated. Israel’s small size also suggests a compelling need for sea-basing (submarines) at least a recognizably critical portion of its core nuclear assets,

From a credibility standpoint, a Samson Option could make sense only in “last-resort,” or “near last-resort,” circumstances. If the Samson Option is to be part of a convincing deterrent, as it should, an incremental end to Israel’s deliberate ambiguity is essential. The really tough part of this transformational process will lie in determining the proper timing for such action vis-a-vis Israel’s security requirements, and in calculating authoritative expectations (reasonable or unreasonable) of the “international community.”

The Samson Option should never be confused with Israel’s overriding security objective: To seek stable deterrence at the lowest possible levels of military conflict. As a last resort, it basically states the following warning to all potential nuclear attackers:  “We (Israel) may have to `die,` but (this time) we won’t die alone.”

There is a related observation. In our often counter-intuitive strategic world, it can sometimes be rational to pretend irrationality. The nuclear deterrence benefits of any such pretended irrationality would depend, at least in part, upon an enemy state’s awareness of Israel’s intention to apply counter-value targeting when responding to a nuclear attack. But, once again, Israeli decision-makers would need to be aptly wary of ever releasing too-great a level of specific operational information.

In the end, there are specific and valuable critical security benefits that would likely accrue to Israel as the result of a purposefully selective and incremental end to its historic policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.   The right time to begin such an “end”  has not yet arrived. But, at the precise moment that Iran verifiably crosses the nuclear threshold, or arguably just before this portentous moment, Israel should  promptly remove The Bomb from its “basement.”

When this critical moment arrives, Israel should already have configured (1) its presumptively optimal allocation of nuclear assets; and (2) the extent to which this preferred configuration should now be disclosed. Such strategic preparation could then enhance the credibility of Israel’s indispensable nuclear deterrence posture.

When it is time for Israel to selectively ease its nuclear ambiguity, a second-strike nuclear force should be revealed in broad outline. This robust strategic force – hardened, multiplied, and dispersed – would need to be fashioned so as to recognizably inflict a decisive retaliatory blow against major enemy cities. Iran, it follows, so long as it is led by rational decision-makers, should be made to understand that the actual costs of  any planned aggressions against Israel would always exceed any expected gains.

In the final analysis, whether or not a shift from deliberate ambiguity to some selected level of nuclear disclosure would actually succeed in enhancing Israeli nuclear deterrence would depend upon several complex and intersecting factors. These include, inter alia, the specific types of nuclear weapons involved; reciprocal assessments and calculations of pertinent enemy leaders; effects on rational decision-making processes by these enemy leaders; and effects on both Israeli and adversarial command/control/communications operations. If  bringing Israel’s bomb out of the “basement” were to result in certain new enemy pre-delegations of nuclear launch authority, and/or in new and simultaneously less stable launch-on-warning procedures, the likelihood of unauthorized and/or accidental nuclear war could then be substantially increased.

Not all adversaries may be entirely rational. To comprehensively protect itself against potentially irrational nuclear adversaries, Israel has no logical alternative to developing an always problematic conventional preemption option, and to fashion this together with a suitable plan for subsequent “escalation dominance.” Operationally, especially at this very late date, there could be no reasonable assurances of success against many multiple hardened and dispersed targets. Regarding deterrence, however, it is noteworthy that “irrational” is not the same as “crazy,” or “mad,” and that even an expectedly irrational Iranian leadership could still maintain susceptible preference orderings that are both consistent and transitive.

Even an irrational Iranian leadership could be subject to threats of deterrence that credibly threaten certain deeply held religious as well as civic values. The relevant difficulty here for Israel is to ascertain the precise nature of these core enemy values. Should it be determined that an Iranian leadership were genuinely “crazy” or “mad,” that is, without any decipherable or predictable ordering of preferences, all deterrence bets could then have to give way to preemption, and possibly even to certain plainly unwanted forms of war fighting.

Such determinations, of course, are broadly strategic, not narrowly jurisprudential. From the discrete standpoint of international law, especially in view of Iran’s expressly genocidal threats against Israel, a preemption option could still represent a permissible expression of anticipatory self-defense. Again, however, this purely legal judgment would be entirely separate from any parallel or coincident assessments of operational success. There would be no point for Israel to champion any strategy of preemption on solely legal grounds if that same strategy were not also expected to succeed in specifically military terms.

Growing chaotic instability in the Middle East plainly heightens the potential for expansive and unpredictable conflicts.[21] While lacking any obviously direct connection to Middle East chaos, Israel’s nuclear strategy must now be purposefully adapted to this perilous potential. Moreover, in making this adaptation, Jerusalem could also have to pay special attention not only to the aforementioned revival of  major “bipolar” animosities, but also, more specifically and particularly, to Russia’s own now-expanding nuclear forces.

This cautionary warning arises not because augmented and modernized Russian nuclear forces would necessarily pose any enlarged military threat to Israel directly, but rather because these strategic forces could determine much of the way in which “Cold-War II” actually evolves and takes shape. Vladimir Putin has already warned Washington of assorted “nuclear countermeasures,” and recently test launched an intercontinental nuclear missile.[22] One such exercise involved a new submarine-launched Bulava missile, a weapon that could deliver a nuclear strike with up to 100 times the force of the 1945 Hiroshima blast.

Current adversarial Russian nuclear posturing vis-à-vis the United States remains oriented toward the Ukraine, not the Middle East.[23] Nevertheless, whatever happens to U.S.-Russian relations in any one part of the world could carry over to certain other parts, either incrementally, or as distinctly sudden interventions or escalations. For Jerusalem, this means, among other things, an unceasing obligation to fashion its own developing nuclear strategy and posture with an informed view to fully worldwide power problems and configurations.

Whether looking toward Gaza, West Bank (Judea/Samaria), Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, or Syria, Israel will need to systematically prioritize existential threats, and, thereafter, stay carefully focused on critically intersecting and overriding factors of global and regional security. In all such meticulously careful considerations, both chaos and Cold War II should be entitled to occupy a conspicuous pride of place.


[16] A further irony here concerns Palestinian “demilitarization,” a pre-independence condition of statehood called for by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Should Palestinian forces (PA plus Hamas) ever actually choose to abide by any such formal legal expectation, it could makes these forces less capable of withstanding any foreseeable ISIS attacks. Realistically, however, any such antecedent compliance would be highly improbable. See, for earlier legal assessments of Palestinian demilitarization, Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why a Demilitarized Palestinian State Would Not Remain Demilitarized: A View Under International Law,” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Winter 1998, pp. 347-363; and Louis René Beres and Zalman Shoval, “On Demilitarizing a Palestinian `Entity’ and the Golan Heights: An International Law Perspective,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 28, No. 5, November 1995, pp. 959-972.

[17] There is another notable and more generic (pre-nuclear age) risk of placing too-great a reliance on defense. This is the risk that a corollary of any such reliance will be a prospectively lethal tendency to avoid taking otherwise advantageous offensive actions. Recall, in this connection, Carol von Clausewitz On War:  “Defensive warfare…does not consist of waiting idly for things to happen. We must wait only if it brings us visible and decisive advantages. That calm before the storm, when the aggressor is gathering new forces for a great blow, is most dangerous for the defender.” See: Carl von Clausewitz, Principles of War, Hans W. Gatzke, tr., New York: Dover Publications, 2003, p. 54.

[18] For early authoritative accounts, by the author, of expected consequences of a nuclear attack, see: Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1986).

[19] See: “Summary of the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” Advisory Opinion, 1996, I.C.J., 226 (Opinion of 8 July 1996). The key conclusion of this Opinion is as follows: “…in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”

[20] This advice was a central recommendation of the Project Daniel Group’s final report,  Israel’s Strategic Future (ACPR, Israel, May 2004: “The overriding priority of Israel’s nuclear deterrent force must always be that it preserves the country’s security without ever having to be fired against any target. The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.” (p. 11). Conceptually, the core argument of optimizing military force by not resorting to any actual use pre-dates the nuclear age. To wit, Sun-Tzu, in his ancient classic, The Art of War, counseled: “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

[21] Once again, Prussian military thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, had already highlighted the generic (pre-nuclear age) dangers of unpredictability, summarizing these core hazards as matters of “friction.”

[22] ICBM test launches are legal and permissible under the terms of New START, It does appear, however,  that Russia has already developed and tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of 500-5500 KM, which would be in express violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). At the same time, current research into the U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike Program seeks to circle around INF Treaty limitations, by employing a delivery vehicle trajectory that is technically neither ballistic nor cruise.

[23] Russia, of course, is operating much more openly and substantially in Syria, but here, in the Middle East theatre, at least, Moscow’s public tone toward Washington is somewhat less confrontational or adversarial.


Russia Missile Attacks Embarrass Obama, Warn Israel

October 9, 2015

Russia Missile Attacks Embarrass Obama, Warn Israel, American ThinkerJonathan Keiler, October 9, 2015

Beyond heaping yet another humiliation on Obama and signaling American admirals to keep their distance, the missile attack probably also sent a very pointed message to Israel. Israel currently deploys four advanced German-made and Israeli equipped Dolphin submarines, with two more on the way.


Russia’s October 7 cruise missile bombardment of anti-Assad Syrian rebels from ships stationed nearly 1000 miles away was probably the most expensively ineffectual display of military firepower since Bill Clinton launched a similar strike against al Qaeda in 1998. Clinton’s feckless and spendthrift action was supposedly in retaliation for the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and succeeded by most accounts in wiping out a few empty tents with several tons of explosives and several million dollars’ worth of advanced ordnance.

It is unlikely that Vladimir Putin’s strike did much damage to Syrian rebels either. But unlike Clinton (and the current Democrat in the White House) Putin doesn’t use force to shirk greater national responsibilities, he uses it to pursue clear strategic objectives. In this case, the Russian decision to launch brand-new Kalibr-NK missiles from the Caspian Sea fleet was clearly intended as yet another poke in the eye to President Obama, and a demonstration of Russian firepower, from diminutive but still dangerous Russian warships.

The 26 missiles were launched by three patrol boats and a frigate (a warship smaller than a destroyer.)  Russian spokesmen claimed all landed within nine feet of their targets, a degree of accuracy probably not needed against dispersed irregular infantry, but necessary to hit opposing warships, like those flying American flags. The Syrian rebels served as live practice targets for the Russian missile crews, who got to shoot off the new and previously unproven (in combat) missile.

Beyond heaping yet another humiliation on Obama and signaling American admirals to keep their distance, the missile attack probably also sent a very pointed message to Israel. Israel currently deploys four advanced German-made and Israeli equipped Dolphin submarines, with two more on the way. Most analysts presume that these advanced boats are intended to penetrate the Persian Gulf in the event of war with Iran, and from their launch cruise missiles in support of Israeli air action.

However, several years ago, in this article I proposed that the Israeli purpose was probably otherwise. Israeli is widely presumed to have equipped the subs with Israeli Popeye turbo cruise missiles with a range similar to that of the Russian Kalibr-NK. With such a weapon, Israeli subs need not make the long and dangerous journey to the Persian Gulf, but could launch from off the coast of Syria, the missiles following a flight plan very similar to those the Russian weapons took (but in reverse) where they could strike targets across northern Iran.

If I could conceive of such a plan, so could Russian intelligence services, which have probably backed this idea with hard, but secret intelligence. The Russian attack is a clear signal to Israel, demonstrating that cruise missiles which can go from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran can go the other way too. It is unlikely that it was a message lost on the Israelis, and more evidence that Russia’s movement in to the Syrian arena is proving disastrous for America and her allies.


The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil

October 3, 2015

The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil, Canada Free PressCliff Kincaid, October 3, 2015

(I am not posting this because I currently accept its conclusions or some of their bases. However, it’s frightening, interesting and has at least some food for thought. — DM)


The conventional wisdom is that Vladimir Putin has blindsided Barack Obama in the Middle East, catching the U.S. off-guard. It’s another Obama “failure,” we’re told. “Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria,” is how a Washington Post headline described it. A popular cartoon shows Putin kicking sand in the faces of Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on a beach.

The conventional wisdom is driven by the notion that Obama has the best of intentions but that he’s been outmaneuvered. What if his intention all along has been to remake the Middle East to the advantage of Moscow and its client state Iran? What if he knows exactly what he’s doing? Too many commentators refuse to consider that Obama is deliberately working against U.S. interests and in favor of the enemies of the U.S. and Israel.

In his U.N. address, Obama said, “As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

This is laughable. We still have a strong military, but the inevitable conclusion from what’s recently transpired is that he doesn’t want to protect the interests of the U.S. or its allies in the Middle East. This is not a “failure,” but a deliberate policy.

The trouble with conventional wisdom is the assumption that Obama sees things the way most Americans do. In order to understand Obama’s Middle East policy, it is necessary to consult alternative sources of news and information and analysis. That includes communist news sources.

A fascinating analysis appears in the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, The Militant, one of the oldest and most influential publications among the left. You may remember the old photos which surfaced of Lee Harvey Oswald selling copies of The Militant before he killed the American president.

The headline over The Militant story by Maggie Trowe caught my eye: “‘Reset’ with US allows Moscow to send arms, troops to Syria.” It was not about Hillary Clinton’s reset with Moscow years ago, but a more recent one.

Here’s how her story began: “Moscow’s rapid military buildup in Syria is a result of the ‘reset’ in relations forged with the Russian and Iranian governments by the Barack Obama administration. The deal—reshaping alliances and conditions from Syria, Iran and the rest of the Middle East to Ukraine and surrounding region—is the cornerstone of U.S. imperialism’s efforts to establish a new order in the Mideast, but from a much weaker position than when the now-disintegrating order was imposed after World Wars I and II.”

Of course, the idea that “U.S. imperialism” is served by giving the advantage to Russia and Iran is ludicrous. Nevertheless, it does appear that a “reset” of the kind described in this article has in fact taken place. The author writes about Washington’s “strategic shift to Iran and Russia” and the “downgrading” of relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia. She notes that Moscow “seeks more influence and control of the country [Syria] and its Mediterranean ports and a stronger political hand in Mideast politics.” Iran “has sent Revolutionary Guard Quds forces to help prop up Assad, and collaborates with Moscow on operations in Syria,” she notes.

It is sometimes necessary to reject the conventional wisdom and instead analyze developments from the point of view of the Marxists, who understand Obama’s way of thinking. They pretend that Obama is a pawn of the “imperialists” but their analysis also makes sense from a traditional pro-American perspective. Those who accept the evidence that Obama has a Marxist perspective on the world have to consider that his policy is designed to help Moscow and Tehran achieve hegemony in the region.

At the same time, the paper reported, “Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s congenial visit with Putin in May, it has become clear that Washington would accept Moscow’s influence over its ‘near abroad’ in Ukraine and the Baltics, in exchange for help to nail down the nuclear deal with Tehran.” Hence, Obama has put his stamp of approval on Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East. This analysis, though coming from a Marxist newspaper, fits the facts on the ground. It means that more Russian aggression can be expected in Europe.

The wildcard is Israel and it looks like the Israeli government is being increasingly isolated, not only by Obama but by Putin. The story notes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow on September 21, saying his concern was to “prevent misunderstandings” between Israeli and Russian troops, since Israel has carried out airstrikes in Syrian territory targeting weapons being transported to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

Some reports indicated that Israel had set up a joint mechanism with the Russian military to coordinate their operations in Syria.

However, the Russian leader reportedly told Obama during their U.N. meeting that he opposes Israeli attacks in Syria. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran a story that Russia intends to “Clip Israel’s Wings Over [the] Syrian Skies.” The paper added that Putin’s remarks to Obama showed that despite Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin in Moscow, “Russia intends to create new facts on the ground in Syria that will include restricting Israel’s freedom of movement in Syrian skies.”

It hardly seems to be the case that Obama has been outsmarted in the Middle East, or that Putin and Obama don’t like each other. Instead, it appears that Obama is working hand-in-glove with Putin to isolate Israel and that Obama is perfectly content to let the former KGB colonel take the lead.

Israel has always been seen by most U.N. members as the real problem in the region. Obama is the first U.S. President to see Israel in that same manner and to act accordingly. This is why Putin has not caught Obama off-guard in the least. They clearly see eye-to-eye on Israel and Iran.

Don’t forget that Obama actually telephoned Putin to thank him for his part in the nuclear deal with Iran. The White House issued a statement saying, “The President thanked President Putin for Russia’s important role in achieving this milestone, the culmination of nearly 20 months of intense negotiations.”

Building off the Iran nuclear deal, it looks like the plan is for Russia and the United States to force Israel to embrace a U.N. plan for a nuclear-free Middle East. That would mean Israel giving up control of its defensive nuclear weapons to the world body. Iran will be able to claim it has already made a deal to prohibit its own nuclear weapons development.

Such a scheme was outlined back in 2005 in an article by Mohamed Elbaradei, the director-general at the time of the U.N.‘s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That’s the same body that is now supposed to guarantee Iranian compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal signed by Russia and the U.S.

Elbaradei argued there would have to be “a dialogue on regional security as part of the peace process,” to be followed by an agreement “to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone.”

The “dialogue” appears to be taking place now, mostly under the authority and auspices of the Russian government, with President Obama playing a secondary role.

The obvious danger is that Israel would be forced to comply with the plan for a “nuclear-weapons-free-zone,” while Iran would cheat and develop nuclear weapons anyway.

Netanyahu told the U.N. that “Israel deeply appreciates President Obama’s willingness to bolster our security, help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and help Israel confront the enormous challenges we face.”

This must be his hope. But he must know that Israel’s security is slipping and that the survival of his country is in grave danger in the face of this Moscow-Washington-Tehran axis.

Before Putin further consolidates his military position in the Middle East and Iran makes more progress in nuclear weapons development, Netanyahu will have to launch a preemptive strike on the Islamic state. “Israel will not allow Iran to break in, to sneak in or to walk in to the nuclear weapons club,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.

In launching such a strike before the end of Obama’s second presidential term, Israel would bring down the wrath of the world, led by Russia and the U.S., on the Jewish state.

Nuclear Jihad

September 7, 2015

Nuclear Jihad, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, September 7, 2015

    • In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.
    • The Iranian regime not only despises democracy; it considers all Western law, including international law, invalid.
    • The Shi’a consider themselves underdogs, who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 revolution was all about, and it is what present the Iranian regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage. These are not Anglican vicars.
    • The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.” — Iran’s Constitution, Article “The Religious Army”.
    • A Third World War is already taking place. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.
    • Obama’s trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons, rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. Even if it did,fatwas are not permanent.
    • Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all? Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

“[Some] analysts,” writes the historian and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, “claimed the president [Barack Obama] regarded Iran as an ascendant and logical power — unlike the feckless, disunited Arabs and those troublemaking Israelis — that could assist in resolving other regional conflicts. I first heard this theory at Georgetown back in 2008, in conversation with think tankers and former State Department officials. They also believed Iran’s radical Islam was merely an expression of interests and fears that the United States could with sufficient goodwill, meet and allay. … Iran, according to Obama was a pragmatic player with addressable interest. For Netanyahu, Iran was irrational, messianic, and genocidal – ‘worse,’ he said, ‘than fifty North Koreas.'”[1]

Since the signing of the deal at the UN, hot-tempered criticisms and defences have gone into overdrive in the political, journalistic, and diplomatic spheres. Acres have been written and are still being written about the deal, making it the hottest political potato of recent years. Expert analysts such as Omri Ceren and, more recently, Joel Rosenberg have cut through the deliberate obfuscation to show the extent of the dangers the deal presents to the Middle East, the United States, Israel, and the world.

The deal’s supporters insist that it will bring peace and calm to the region, while a host of denigrators — chief among them Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — have exposed the enormous risks it entails. Already, a vast majority of American citizens are opposed to the deal.

Within the U.S. Congress, bipartisan opposition to the deal is high and mounting. Yet, on September 2, President Obama succeeded in winning over a 34th senator, enough that ultimate passage of the deal is a foregone conclusion. That does not, however, mean that the debate will end. In all likelihood, it will grow fiercer as time passes and true consequences become clearer to the public and politicians alike.

Recent revelations that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees nuclear developments worldwide, has agreed that only Iranians will be allowed to inspect the most controversial of Iran’s nuclear sites, have raised anxieties about proper monitoring of the deal. The military complex of Parchin, where Iran is suspected of work on nuclear weapons, will be closed to outside inspection, making it certain that, if Iran decides to cheat (something it has done before), it will be able to do so with impunity. Sanctions will not be re-imposed. And, as we shall see, cheating on the deal can be justified by the Iranians who could always refer to the practice of the prophet Muhammad with the Quraysh tribe in Mecca.

Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry, and the entire US administration are not merely behind the deal, but almost fanatically so. Many argue that Obama is more interested in securing his “legacy” as the world’s greatest peacemaker (or war-creator, as the case may well turn out to be), the statesman par excellence who alone could bring the theocratic regime of Iran in from the cold and shower the Middle East with true balance in its troubled affairs.

To bring this about, Obama has had to diminish, if not leave totally open to obliteration, American support for Israel, the single country in the world most clearly exposed to a possible genocide should the Iran’s Islamic regime choose to exterminate it, as it has so often threatened to do.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words mellal-e Eslami bayad Esra’il-ra qal’ o qam’ kard – “the Islamic nations must exterminate Israel” — have been given renewed vigour now that it is highly likely that Iran, evading serious inspections by the IAEA, will soon possess the weapons to do just that.

Even if the treaty is a done deal, it is time to show yet another massive hole in the administration’s strategy. Already, Obama, Kerry and the tightly knit administration have shown themselves remarkably obdurate in turning a blind eye to the many concerns that surround the deal. At the end of the “sunset period,” if not sooner, Iran gets to have, legitimately, as many bombs as it likes. Other problems include breakout times; centrifuge production; centrifuge concealment; uranium enrichment by stealth; refusal to allow the IAEA to inspect military sites; the acquisition of intercontinental ballistic missiles — presumably to be used intercontinentally at guess who. It is no secret that the hardliners in Iran still speak of America as “The Great Satan” and consider it their enemy. That does not even include the implications of lifting sanctions on, and paying billions of dollars to, the world’s main sponsor of terrorism.

As Michael Oren has shown, however, the American president presumably thinks he is doing a deal with a logical and pragmatic regime. Barack Obama, an intelligent, well-read man of Muslim origin, knows almost nothing about Islam; that is the greatest flaw in the Iran deal he has fought so hard to inflict on the human race. With access to platoons of experts, to some of the greatest libraries with holdings in Islamic doctrines and history, and with the Mullahs and Iran’s public still daily promising to destroy America, Obama apparently still believes Islam is a religion of peace and that a theocratic, terror-supporting, medieval regime should have the power to make nuclear bombs. The obverse is that he might like, perhaps not wittingly, to see America, Israel and the West brought to their knees.

This author has previously exposed one aspect of Iran’s serious lack of logic, rationality, or pragmatism — namely the extent to which apocalyptic thinking, messianic prophecy, and dreams of Islamic transcendence through universal conflict pervade the clerical elite, a high percentage of the masses, and even the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. One might assume that this would be especially true when they are flush with cash and nuclear weapons, and the risk to their own survival is substantially lower.

On August 17, just over a month after the signing of the nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader, ‘Ali Khamene’i, addressed a religious conference, where he expressed his undying hatred for the United States. He said, for example:

We must combat the plans of the arrogance [i.e. the West, led by the U.S.] with jihad for the sake of Allah. … jihad for the sake of God does not only mean military conflict, but also means cultural, economic, and political struggle. The clearest essence of jihad for the sake of God today is to identify the plots of the arrogance in the Islamic region, especially the sensitive and strategic West Asian region. The planning for the struggle against them should include both defense and offense.

The deal has done nothing whatever to stop military threats to Israel, an ally of the United States (though treated with disrespect by America’s president). Speaking on 2 September, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s top commander in Tehran province, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazemayni, stated that, “… they [the US and the Zionists] should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine.”

There is a simple word for this: warmongering.

Why is the U.S. President insisting on a bad deal with a warmongering regime?

When a military force at its strongest fantasizes about the coming of a Messiah (the Twelfth Imam) to lead them to victory over all infidels, talk of logic, rationality and pragmatism seems acutely out of touch with reality.

Obama’s assumption that there is something solid about the Iranian regime that makes it suitable as a recipient for such largesse and the chance to enrich uranium until kingdom come seems to be based on false consciousness. The regime has been in place for almost forty years, quite a respectable time for a dictatorship. In part, that has been because it has mastered the art of suppression, giving its people a degree of freedom that is missing in several other Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Afghanistan. These partial freedoms, especially for young people, lull the population into risk-averseness, possibly helped along by the memory in 2009 of pleas for more freedom, which the United States ignored and the mullahs savaged.

Obama, in his ongoing attempt to portray Islam as benign — and a dictatorial regime as a sold basis for peace and understanding in the Middle East — ignores the religious element of the theocracy, as well as the sadistic repression, and in doing so misses a lot.

First of all, Shi’ite Islam is different from its Sunni big brother. It is deeply imbued with features largely absent from Sunni Islam. The most important Shi’i denomination is that of the Twelvers (Ithna’ ‘Ashariyya), who, from the beginning of Islam, have believed themselves to be not only the true version of the faith, but the group destined by God to rule in its name. Beginning with ‘Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet and the fourth Caliph of the Sunnis, the Shi’a began as his supporters. (Please see the Appendix that follows this article: it contains material that even Barack Obama and his advisors need to know; without it, they simply will not “get” what the ayatollahs are about. It comes to an important conclusion that has considerable bearing on today’s events — and not the one you may expect.)

Beneath the smiles and banter lie the unsmiling masks and the taqiyya-flavoured lies. Beneath the wheeling and dealing and the refusals to compromise lies a sense of destiny for the regime, a belief that it stands on the brink of the realization of the centuries-old Shi’ite dream: that God will finally set his people on the pinnacle of the world and usher in the never-ending reign of the Imam Mahdi, with all injustice gone, the martyrs in paradise, the ayatollahs and mujtahids andmaraji’ in glory, and all the infidels in hell.

It is precisely because Barack Obama and his aides have never got down and dirty to take in hard information that they have remained utterly out of touch with the real springs and cogs of Iranian Shi’ite thinking.

Obama has, when all is said and done, let himself be deluded by the charm offensive of Hassan Rouhani and his henchman Javad Zarif. Obama may not believe in the mystical land of Hurqalyaor the white steed on which the Twelfth Imam will ride to the world’s last battle any more than you or I do. But the clerical elite of Iran, and those who follow them blindly — men and women brought up from birth on these tales, and who travel in the thousands every day to send a message to the Imam at the Jamkaran Mosque near Qom — believe these things with absolute devotion, and that is why this story matters, because it has political consequences.

Shi’i Muslim law enshrines jihad, holy war, as fully as does Sunni law. For Sunnis, jihad has always been possible under the authority of a Caliph, whether fought under his orders or led by kings and governors under his broad aegis.

The Shi’a, however, do not recognize the Caliphate and have often been the victims of Sunni jihads. They may feel impelled to fight a holy war, but under what authority could they do so?

The power of the clergy had waned under the anti-clerical reign of Iran’s Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979), only to burst out more strongly than ever in the Islamic Revolution, which placed all authority in a new system of government: rule by a religious jurist, a faqih.[2] Overnight, a jihad state was brought into existence; a jihad state with vast oil reserves, modern military equipment, and, at first, the support of almost the entire Iranian population. The clerical hierarchy under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did not just intend to prepare the way for the coming of the Mahdi. They were now his earthly deputies, in whose hands lay life and death for millions.

The new Shi’ism allowed the clergy to take on powers they had never imagined. More and more economic and legal power came to be concentrated in the hands of a narrow body of scholars, and sometimes a single man could be the source of religious and legal authority for the entire Shi’i world — in Iran, Afghanistan, eastern Arabia, Bahrain, and so on. Thus were the foundations laid for the revolutionary rank of Supreme Leader, taken by the Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamene’i.

Look for a moment at the preamble to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[3] You will see quickly that this does not read like any other constitution you have seen. The preamble sets the tone. Here, in an account of the circumstances leading to the revolution we read of the clergy as the ruhaniyyat-e mobarez, “the militant or fighting clergy.” These are not Anglican vicars at their prayers or rabbis studying Talmud. A mobarez is a warrior, a champion, a fighter. Not far down the preamble, one encounters a description of their struggle as “The Great Holy War,”jihad-e bozorg. We are not in Obama’s world of logical and pragmatic striving for political and diplomatic coherence. This is made even clearer in one of the constitution’s earlier articles, “The Religious Army.” Here, we read that the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.”

How do you reach a compromise and a pragmatic deal with a regime that thinks in this way? Are the U.S. administration and the P5+1 blind to something the Iranians have never even bothered to conceal? Do they really take everything in the talks at face value? Perhaps they think references to jihad and fighting clergy are nothing more than pious talk “for domestic consumption,” as they tried to explain — as real and everyday as the myths and legends of other faiths. If they do, then they have far less excuse for their blindness, for the Iranian regime is already at war and is already fighting its jihad.

In Iraq, for example, a country with a majority Twelver Shi’i population, Iranian-backed militias have been at war for many years, first against the Americans, then the Sunnis, and now the hordes of Islamic State. In June 2014, Grand Ayatollah al-Sayyid ‘Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling on Iraqis to fight against Islamic State, justifying their fight as jihad wajib kafa’i: a Jihad that is compulsory for those who choose it, but not for the entire population. The ruling calls for a struggle against ISIS’s irhab – their “terrorism.” Jihad is a religious and legal duty, and even though ISIS may call its fighting jihad, it is here condemned as terror.

Hezbollah, created and backed by Iran, is by far the largest terrorist group in the region. Hezbollah is considered a state within a state, with forces and infrastructure inside Lebanon and Syria. It has used the name “Islamic Jihad Organization” to cover its attacks on Israeli forces in Lebanon. In its 1988 Open Letter (Risala maftuha), it describes its followers as “Combatants of the Holy War” and goes on — in terms similar to those in the Hamas Covenant — “our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.”

Hezbollah and its creator, the Iranian Islamic regime, have a curious link to the Palestinian terror movement, Hamas, despite Hamas being exclusively Sunni. By financing, arming, and defending Hamas, Iran is fighting a strange proxy jihad that serves its own purposes of defying the West, achieving regional hegemony, and winning praise from all Muslims in the world for its own war against Israel. It also furthers the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch) in the same struggle.

I have dragged you through the briars and mud because it is important here to see another culture through its own eyes. If we insist in pretending that Shi’i Muslims think like Sunni Muslims or, worse still, like Jews or Christians — if we brush all that history and all those doctrines under the carpet of “any deal is better than no deal ” — we will go on making the same mistakes. We will believe that a purely political and diplomatic enterprise to bring Iran in from the cold and create a new trading alliance will transform an evil regime into a land of sweetness and light.

Members of the U.S. Congress must wake up and examine, in however cursory a fashion, these views that motivate the Iranian leadership, and must stop pretending that they are as logical and pragmatic as would be convenient for the wishes of the West.

Not that Obama and Kerry have ever sounded logical or pragmatic in how they have approached this debate and this deal-making process. In an act of supreme folly, the White House has dismissed Ayatollah Khamene’i’s recent call for “Death to America;” they pretend it is just empty rhetoric for the Iranian people.

1169Left: Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, speaking on July 17 in Tehran, behind a banner reading “We Will Trample Upon America” and “We defeat the United States.” Right: Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, proclaims “Death to America” on March 2

We are walking with a blindfold toward sure disaster. Forget the dreams of a Messiah if you will, but do not for one moment let yourself be lulled into thinking that only ISIS is serious about waging a jihad.

Despite their oft-expressed delusion that “Islam is a religion of peace,” President Obama, Secretary John Kerry and other leaders are, like it or not, already engaged in a war against jihad. They have already fought it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. However much Obama wants to stand off from involvement in the jihad struggles of the Middle East, he cannot: Western states are fighting jihad, sometimes abroad, increasingly at home.

A Third World War is already taking place, a war the Islamists and Islamic states understand, but which many in the West still refuse to grasp. They are not even willing to respect the true motivations of the enemies against whom they fight. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.

Let us for the moment ignore the nuclear aspect of this deal and look instead on what it offers the world’s leading jihad state. The removal of sanctions coupled with the business deals Europeans and others are rushing to secure, the delivery of perhaps $150 billion to Tehran, and the turning of many blind eyes to both Iran’s internal repression and its jihad wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Gaza, and Lebanon leave the ayatollahs poised to dominate much of the Middle East.

And that is not all. Obama’s belief in the stability of the Iranian regime seems to rest on its endurance since 1979. His trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. No one has ever seen it. Even if the fatwa did exist, fatwas are not permanent. They are always regarded as temporary rulings with Twelver Shi’ism. This is a crucial technical point that the White House seems incapable of — or ill-disposed to — grasping.

Further, Obama’s faith in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a reformer and moderate flies in the face of Rouhani’s devotion to the hardline clerical leadership of which he is a part. Here are a few facts:

  • ‘Ali Khamene’i is 76 years old, but his health is poor and he may not live much longer. Already, factions within the hierarchy will be jostling for the Supreme Leadership.
  • In the Usuli Twelver version of Shi’ism, once a Mujtahid dies, his fatwas are no longer valid. A new Mujtahid or, in this case, a new Supreme Leader, has to issue fatwas of his own. A new fatwa may confirm an old one or radically differ from it.
  • A new Supreme Leader is an unpredictable personality.
  • The Iranian nuclear program is already up and running.
  • The breakout time for weapons grade materials may be as short as three months.
  • Iran already has and is acquiring ballistic missiles with an intercontinental range.
  • Jihad is hard-wired into the regime’s philosophy.
  • Iran is already conducting a series of jihad wars abroad.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed a hope to return to the presidency in 2017. Ahmadinejad and his clique are bent on apocalyptic outcomes and actions to bring the Hidden Imam back to this world.

We only have to get this wrong once. Chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are not narcotic iterations of slogans but sincerely felt expressions of intent.

Khamene’i last month praised the Iranian people for calling for the deaths of the USA and Israel, and said that he hoped God would answer their prayers because in at most ten years, the Iranian mullahs and their IRGC will possess the power to exterminate Israel, if they and their God so wish.

Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all?

Why are sanctions against the world’s leading exporter of jihadi terrorism being lifted, not strengthened?

Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Why has Israel’s Prime Minister been vilified and sidelined simply for drawing attention to the weaknesses of a deal that could lead to the death of all of his people?

Why have the P5+1 never taken seriously the Shi’ite rule that it is permitted to lie to infidels and conceal one’s own true intentions?

Why are secrets being kept — such as the contents of the two side-deals?

Why is the U.S. Congress being asked to vote without the benefit of full disclosure?

Why is the IAEA banned from spontaneously inspecting only declared Iranian nuclear sites, and why are military sites completely off-limits?

The questions are so many and so critical that we remain in the dark about where this will lead mankind. No one who has ever done a financial or political deal would ever sign on the dotted line until they had answers to all their questions. Far more hangs on this deal than perhaps any deal in history. Yet those who want to make it enforceable under international law are uninformed about the most basic contents of the deal, as well as the beliefs and historical roots of their enemy.

Such folly is almost without precedence, except possibly in the process of appeasement that endeavoured to placate the Third Reich and treat Adolf Hitler as the best friend of democracy.

The Iranian regime not only despises democracy, it considers all Western law — including international law — invalid. This view has several deep roots. For both Sunni and Shi’i Muslims, only rule under God is valid, under a Caliph or a clerical theocracy under a Supreme Ruler. Human beings have no right to interfere. Democracy leads to the making of human laws that may contradict shari’a law, and such effrontery is considered arrogant and presumptuous. The democratic elements in Iran are tightly controlled, and supremacy rests in all areas beneath clerical authority. The same principle applies to international law, UN resolutions, treaties and so forth.

Iran has openly genocidal intent, as well as a devotion to holy war that goes to the very deepest level.

Before we leave the subject of jihad, there is one other factor that everyone has overlooked. It is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the most important agreement in early Islamic history. In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it.

What is important about this is that Muhammad had made the treaty while he was still relatively weak. But in the months after signing it, his alliances and growing conversions meant that he now possessed superior military strength — and that was when he pounced.

In 1994, the treaty became crucial to the issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.[4]In September 1993, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat signed the Oslo Accords along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the following year the two leaders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, even as he awaited that prize, Arafat spoke at a mosque in Johannesburg alluded to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and referred to “a jihad to liberate Jerusalem”: “I see this agreement,” he said, “as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh in Mecca.”

Non-Muslims may well have misunderstood this as a reference to some early Muslim peace-making. But Arafat made his meaning clear: “We now accept the peace agreement, but [only in order] to continue on the road to Jerusalem.”[5]

The nuclear deal that President Obama and his supporters have imposed will strengthen Iran considerably, removing sanctions and delivering perhaps $150 billion to the country. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.

Whatever happens in the days ahead, the U.S. Congress, backed by a majority of the American public, needs to strike this madcap deal down before it wreaks a storm of tribulations on everyone.

Denis MacEoin has a PhD (Cambridge 1979) in Persian Studies and has written widely on Iran and its religious beliefs.


‘Ali became the first in a line of twelve imams, all deemed the true leaders of Islam, but all denied their right to rule and all but one assassinated (or so it is claimed) by the Sunni Caliphs. From this comes the Shi’i sense of suffering, injustice, oppression by despots, neglect and rights — all of which played an important part in the 1979 revolution and continue to play out across society.

The Shi’a are the underdogs who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 evolution was all about, and it is what present the regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage.

The twelfth imam, according to Shi’ite legend, was a young boy, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the son of the murdered eleventh imam. Born in 869 in the Iraqi city of Samarra during the reign of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate, his father, Hasan al-‘Askari, died when Muhammad was born.

It is said that young Muhammad, in order to avoid his enemies, went into something called Occultation (ghayba). Even if this originally was physical, he was never seen alive again and is supposed to have entered the celestial realm of Hurqalya, from which he will one day return as the promised Saviour, the Qa’im bi’l-Sayf, the One Who will Arise with the Sword to do battle with injustice and infidelity.

This belief is what waters modern Shi’i apocalypticism, something promoted intensely by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This expectation has considerable significance for Iran’s drive to nuclear power. But that is not why I raise the issue here. There is another, more mundane, aspect to the Imam’s disappearance and continued Occultation, and it may be even more relevant to the matters at hand.

The answer to what authority they could fight under was that only the Imam in each generation could order or lead jihad. But when the twelfth Imam vanished from human sight, was jihad to remain in abeyance until his return or could it be fought under another authority? The answer was not at first simple, but one thing started to happen: the Shi’a began to consider their religious scholars to be the intermediaries with the Imam, and this laid the basis for the possibility that they might have the right to order jihad. For some time, this was just conjectural, for the Shi’a had little worldly power.

In 1501, a new dynasty, the Safavids, came to power in Iran, forced most of the population to convert to Shi’ism, and created a line of kings under whom the clerical class became more and more powerful. The Shah could still lead jihad, but the clergy were needed to give permission. The Safavid dynasty lasted till 1722, and an interregnum was followed by the emergence of a new line of Shahs, the Qajars, who ruled from 1796 to 1925.

Under the Qajars, the Shi’i clerical hierarchy underwent deep and lasting changes, producing today’s version of Twelver Islam, the Usulis.

The newly powerful ‘ulama of the 19th century took on the mantle of deputies for the Hidden Imam and ordered jihads in 1809 and 1826 (against Russia), 1836, 1843, and 1856-7 (against the British). In 1914, when the British occupied Iraq at the start of World War I, the Shi’i clergy in the shrine centres there declared jihad to reinforce the call for Holy War by the Ottoman empire.


[1] Ally by Michael Oren

[2] As in Khomeini’s theory and book, Velayat-e Faqih, the Custodianship of the Jurisprudent.

[3] Here in English, here in Persian.

[4] For a detailed discussion of the treaty and its implications for making peace with Muslims, see Daniel Pipes, “Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad’s Diplomacy,” The Middle East Quarterly, September 1999, pp. 65-72.

[5] Natasha Singer, “Arafat Text Raises Ire,” Forward, May 27, 1994.

Op-Ed: MUST READ: Facing Iran on its Own

September 6, 2015

Op-Ed: MUST READ: Facing Iran on its Own, Israeli National News, Prof. Louis Rene Beres, September 6, 2015

(“Ready, fire, aim . . . think” is a poor strategy. “Think, ready, aim, fire and then think some more” is better. That should be obvious, but is it?– DM)

The urgent primacy of Israel’s defining a nuclear doctrine is clear. The cumulative harms ensuing from the significant diplomatic failure to stop the Iran deal will ultimately depend upon Israel’s own selected responses.

In core matters of war and peace, timing is everything. For Israel, now cheerlessly confirmed in its long-held view that U.S.-led diplomacy with Iran was misconceived, future strategic options should be determined with great care. In essence, this means that the beleaguered mini-state’s nuclear policies, going forward, should be extrapolated from carefully fashioned doctrine, and not assembled, ad hoc, or “on the fly,” in assorted and more-or-less discrete reactions to periodic crises.

More precisely, should Israel decide to decline any residual preemption options, and prepare instead for aptly reliable and protracted dissuasion of its nearly-nuclear Iranian adversary, several corresponding decisions would be necessary. These closely-intersecting judgments would concern a still-expanding role for multilayered ballistic missile defense,[1] and also, a well-reasoned and incremental discontinuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.[2]

In this connection, among other things, Jerusalem will need to convince Tehran that Israel’s nuclear forces are (1) substantially secure from all enemy first-strike attacks,[3] and (2) entirely capable of penetrating all enemy active defenses.[4]

To succeed with any policy of long-term deterrence, a nearly-nuclear Iran would first need to be convinced that Israel’s nuclear weapons were actually usable. In turn, this complex task of strategic persuasion would require some consciously nuanced efforts to remove “the bomb” from Israel’s “basement.” One specific reason for undertaking any such conspicuous removal would be to assure Iranian decision-makers that Israeli nuclear weapons were not only abundantly “real,” but also amenable to variable situational calibrations.

The strategic rationale of such assurance would be to convince Iran that Israel stands ready to confront widely-different degrees of plausible enemy threat.

In the “good old days” of the original U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cold War  (we may now be on the brink of “Cold War II”), such tangibly measured strategiccalculations had been granted their own specific name. Then, the proper term was “escalation dominance.” Early on, therefore, it had been understood, by both superpowers, that adequate security from nuclear attack must always include not only mutually-reinforcing or “synergistic” protections against “bolt-from-the-blue” missile attacks, but also the avoidance of unwitting or uncontrolled escalations. Such unpredictably rapid jumps in coercive intensity, it had already been noted, could too-quickly propel certain determined adversaries from “normally” conventional engagements to atomic war.

Occasionally, especially in many-sided strategiccalculations, truth can be counter-intuitive. On this point, regarding needed Israeli preparations for safety from a nearly-nuclear Iran,[5] there exists an obvious, but still generally overlooked, irony. It is that in all foreseeable circumstances of nuclear deterrence, the credibility of pertinent Israeli threats could sometimes vary inversely with perceived destructiveness. This suggests, at a minimum, that one distinctly compelling reason for moving deliberately from nuclear ambiguity to certain limited forms of nuclear disclosure would be to communicate the following vital message to Iran: Israel’s retaliatory nuclear weapons are not too destructive for actual operational use.

Soon, Israel’s decision-makers will need to proceed more self-consciously and explicitly on rendering another important judgment. This closely-related decision would concern making an essentially fundamental strategic choice between “assured destruction” and “nuclear war fighting” postures. To draw upon appropriate military parlance, assured destruction strategies are those postures generally referred to as “counter-value” or “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) strategies.

Nuclear war fighting strategies, on the other hand, are more typically synonymous with “counterforce .”

In principle, counter-value and counterforce strategies represent seemingly alternative theories of deterrence, differential nuclear postures in which a state chooses to primarily target its strategic nuclear weapons on either its presumed enemy’s “soft” civilian populations and supporting infrastructures, or on that same enemy’s “hard” military assets. Although presumptively in prima facie violation of humanitarian international law, or the law of armed conflict (because counter-value doctrine would apparently disregard, bydefinition, the binding legal obligations of “distinction”), it is still reasonable to recall another relevant argument: Favoring counter-value targeting doctrines could more persuasively reduce the probability of a nuclear war.

Significantly, this means that any Israeli commitment to assured destruction strategies could ultimately prove less corrosive, and more humane.

It is also plausible that a geographically vulnerable state lacking Clausewitzian “mass,[6] and contemplating “counter-value versus counterforce” targeting issues, would opt for some sort or other of “mixed” strategy. In any event, whichever nuclear deterrence strategy Israel might actually decide to choose, what would only matter is what Iran itself would perceive as real. Always, in matters of nuclear strategy, the only decisional reality is perceived reality.

In choosing between two core nuclear targeting alternatives, Israel could decide to opt for nuclear deterrence based primarily upon assured destruction strategies. Reciprocally, however, looking at the negative consequences column, Jerusalem could thereby invite an enlarged risk of “losing” any nuclear war that might sometime arise. For the most part, this is true because counter-value-targeted nuclear weapons are not designed to efficiently destroy military targets.

If, on the other hand, Israel were to opt for nuclear deterrence based primarily upon counterforce capabilities, Iran could then feel especially threatened, a potentially precarious condition that could subsequently heighten the prospect of an enemy first-strike, and thereby, of an eventual nuclear exchange.

In these particular matters, assorted “intervening variables” must also be considered. Israel’s strategic decisions on counter-value versus counterforce doctrines should depend, at least in part, on certain prior investigations of: (1) enemy state inclinations to strike first; and (2) enemy state inclinations to strike all-at-once, or in stages.

Should Israeli strategic planners assume that an already-nuclear Iran is apt to strike first, and to strike in an unlimited fashion (that is, to fire all or most of its nuclear weapons, right away), Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads, used in retaliation, could hit only empty silos/launchers. Anticipating such manifestly unfavorable circumstances, Israel’s only reasonable application of counterforce doctrine would then be to strike first itself.

Nonetheless, any idea of an Israeli nuclear preemption, even if technically “rational” and legal, would likely be dismissed out-of-hand in Jerusalem.

Concerning specific jurisprudential issues of law and nuclear weapons use, the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, in a landmark 1996 Advisory Opinion, ruled that nuclear weapons could sometimes be used permissibly, but only in those largely residual circumstances where the “very survival of a state would be at stake.”

If, as now seems most likely, Israel were to reject all conceivable preemption options, there would be no compelling reason for Jerusalem to opt for a counterforce strategy vis-à-vis Iran. Rather, from the discernibly critical standpoint of persuasive intra-war deterrence, a counter-value strategy would likely prove more appropriate.

With this in mind, The Project Daniel Group, in 2004, had urged Israel to “focus its (second-strike) resources on counter-value warheads….”[7] This earlier suggestion still makes perfect sense today.

Should Israeli planners assume that an already-nuclear Iran is apt to strike first, but, for whatever reason, to strike “only” in a limited fashion, holding some measure of nuclear firepower in reserve for anticipated follow-on strikes, Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads might display damage-limiting benefits. Moreover, such counterforce targeting preparations could serve an Israeli conventional preemption, either as a compelling counter-retaliatory threat, or, should Israel decide not to preempt, as a threatened Israeli retaliation.

For example, should a conventional Israeli defensive first-strike be intentionally limited, perhaps because it would have been coupled together with a calculated quid-pro-quo of no further destruction, in exchange for an enemy cessation of hostilities, recognizable counterforce targeting preparations could serve to reinforce an Israeli counter-retaliatory strike.

Here, Israel’s attempt at intra-war deterrence could fail, thus occasioning the need for additional follow-on damage limiting strikes.

Israeli preparations for nuclear war-fighting should never be interpreted as a distinct alternative to nuclear deterrence. Instead, such preparations should always be considered as essential and integral components of Israeli nuclear deterrence.[8] The overriding purpose of Israel’s nuclear forces, whether still ambiguous, or newly disclosed, must consistently be deterrence, not any actual military engagement. In principle, of course, nuclear war-fighting scenarios are not ipso facto out-of-the-question, but they should always be rejected by Israel where still possible.

Si vis pacem, para bellum atomicum. “If you want peace, prepare for atomic war.”

In the still-valid counsel of Project Daniel: “The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.” Or, conceptualized in the historically antecedent language of Sun-Tzu, the ancient Chinese military thinker, Israel should be guided by the following sound maxim: “Subjugating the enemy’s army without fighting is always the true pinnacle of excellence.”[9]

Yet, even at this late date, there are existentially menacing circumstances that could sometime turn a rational Israeli prime minister toward preemption. These are prospectively catastrophic circumstances wherein sustained and stable nuclear deterrence with Iran is expected to be highly improbable, or even inconceivable.

If Israeli leadership should have corollary doubts about Iranian decisional rationality, it could still make strategic sense to launch certain appropriately defensive first strike attacks. This calculation would obtain, moreover, even if the expected retaliatory and public relations consequences for Israel would expectedly be overwhelming.

There are two final and closely-related observations.

First, even if it could be assumed, by Israel, that Iranian leaders will always seek to act rationally, this would ignore the accuracy of information used to make rational decisions. Rationality, in all strategic calculations, refers only to the intention of maximizing preferences. It says nothing about whether or not the information used is correct or incorrect.

This means that perfectly rational Iranian leaders could sometime make errors in calculation that would lead them to launch an aggressive war against Israel.[10]

Second, Iranian leaders could sometime be irrational, but this would not mean that they were also mad or “crazy.” Rather, in all pertinent matters, an irrational national decision is “merely” one which does not place the very highest value upon national survival. For a relevant example, Iranian decision-makers could sometime choose to act upon a preference-ordering that values destruction of the Jewish State and the corollary fulfillment of presumed religious expectations more highly than the Shiite republic’s physical existence.

In principle, at least, faced with just such an irrational adversary, Israel might still manage to forge a successful plan for deterrence. Here, however, Jerusalem would first need to base its discernibly calculable threats upon those particular and identifiable religious institutions or infrastructures held most sacred in Tehran.

When the ancient Greek leader, Pericles, delivered his famous Funeral Oration, with its ritualistic praise of Athenian civilization – a speech we know today by way of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War – his perspective was openly strategic. Long before military calculations had ever needed to include nuclear weapons, and about a half-century after the Persian (Iranian) defeat of Greece at Thermopylae by Xerxes, Pericles had already understood the vital connections between enemy power and self-inflicted error. “What I fear more than the  strategies of our enemies,” Pericles had presciently warned, “is our own mistakes.”

There is a important lesson here for Israel: Looking beyond the just-completed nuclear agreement with Iran, do not forget that the cumulative harms ensuing from this significant diplomatic failure will ultimately depend upon Israel’s own selected responses.[11] To best ensure the most suitable responses, Jerusalem should first be certain to fashion a theoretically-refined[12] and appropriately flexible strategic doctrine.



[1] See, on this role: Louis René Beres and (Major-General/IDF/Res.) Isaac Ben-Israel, “Think Anticipatory Self-Defense,” The Jerusalem Post, October 22, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “The Limits of Deterrence,”Washington Times, November 21, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iran,” Washington Times, June 10, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iranian Nuclear Attack,” Washington Times, January 27, 2009; and Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Defending Israel from Iranian Nuclear Attack,” The Jewish Press, March 13, 2013. See, also: Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/Ret.) John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran,” The Atlantic, August 9, 2012; Professor Beres and General Chain, “Living With Iran,” BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Israel, May 2014; and Louis René Beres and (Lt. General/USAF/Ret.) Thomas McInerney, “Obama’s Inconceivable, Undesirable, Nuclear-Free Dream,” US News & World Report, August 29, 2013.

[2] See, on such discontinuance: Louis René Beres, “Like Two Scorpions in a Bottle: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist in the Middle East,” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 8., No. 1, 2014, pp. 23-32; Louis RenéBeres, “Facing Myriad Enemies: Core Elements of Israeli Nuclear Deterrence,” The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Vol. XX, Issue 1., Fall/Winter 2013, pp. 17-30; Louis René Beres, “Lessons for Israel from Ancient Chinese Military Thought: Facing Iranian Nuclearization with Sun-Tzu,” Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, 2013; Louis René Beres, “Striking Hezbollah-Bound Weapons in Syria: Israel’s Actions Under International Law,” Harvard National Security Journal, 2013; and Louis René Beres, “Looking Ahead: Revising Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East,” Herzliya Conference, 2013, March 2013; IDC/Herzliya.

[3] Recently, improved security for Israeli nuclear forces has been associated with enhanced sea-basing options. See, on these options: Louis René Beres and (Admiral/USN/ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine-Basing,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel,” Washington Times, September 5, 2014.

[4] See Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “What Now For Israel: What are the Jewish State’s security options after the Iran Nuclear Agreement?”, US News & World Report, July 14, 2015.

[5] On July 23, 2014, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, called openly for the annihilation of Israel. See: Y. Mansharof, E. Kharrazi, Y. Lahat, and A. Savyon, “Quds Day in Iran: Calls for Annihilation of Israel and Arming the West Bank,” MEMRI, July 25, 2014, Inquiry and Analysis Series Report, No. 1107. In its July 2015 agreement with Iran, the U.S. included no contingent requirement that Iran first reject such expressly genocidal intentions. Jurisprudentially, it is significant that precisely such a requirement is deducible from the authoritative 1948Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In other words, by not insisting upon such a requirement, the U.S. was acting in violation of its own antecedent treaty obligations.

[6] See Karl von Clausewitz, On War.

[7] See: Israel’s Strategic Future: Project Daniel, The Project Daniel Group, Louis René Beres, Chair, Ariel Center for Policy Research, ACPR Policy Paper No. 155, Israel, May 2004, 64 pp.

[8] Herman Kahn’s instructive comment many years back stipulates: “It is incorrect and unproductive to categorically accuse those who subscribe to war-fighting concepts either of wanting to fight a nuclear war, or of having less interest in deterrence.” See Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable in the 1980s, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 43.

[9] In heeding this ancient counsel, Israeli decision-makers will always have to bear in mind the totality of the Iranian threat, that is, the direct perils of a nuclear missile attack, and also the indirect risks issuing from assorted Iranian surrogates. Most plainly, Iranian surrogate power resides in the Shiite militia, Hezbollah, which now operates out of Syria, as well as Lebanon; in the government and its derivative militias in Iraq; in Shiite Houthi rebels, now expanding their control across Yemen; and even in Sunni Hamas, which sometimes represents specifically Iranian preferences and expectations in Palestinian Gaza. Significantly, the cumulative impact of Iranian-posed direct and indirect threats to Israel is plausibly greater than the simple sum of its parts –  in other words, this injurious impact is authentically synergistic.

[10] For pertinent law, see: Resolution on the Definition of Aggression, Dec. 14, 1974, U.N.G.A. Res. 3314 (XXIX), 29 U.N. GAOR, Supp. (No. 31) 142, and U.N. Doc. A/9631, 1975, reprinted in 13 I.L.M. 710, 1974; and Charter of the United Nations, Art. 51., Done at San Francisco, June 26, 1945. Entered into force, for the United States, Oct. 24, 1945, 59 Stat., 1031, T.S. No. 993, Bevans, 1153, 1976, and Y.B.U.N. 1043.

[11] In this connection, Israel must conspicuously augment its comprehensive deterrence posture with expanding active defenses. At the same time, however, the country’s leaders must bear in mind that any such augmentation ought not to override its obligations to be proactive or audacious. “Defensive warfare,” wrote Clausewitz, “does not consist of waiting idly for things to happen. We must wait only if it brings us visible and decisive advantages.” In a further observation that could have been composed in a direct warning to modern Israel about a nuclearizing Iran, the Prussian military thinker went on insightfully: “That calm before the storm, when the aggressor is gathering new forces for a great blow, is most dangerous for the defender.”

[12] “Theories are nets,” said the German poet, Novalis, “and only those who cast, will catch.”

Should Israel and its Arab neighbors form an alliance against Iran?

September 3, 2015

Should Israel and its Arab neighbors form an alliance against Iran? The Hill, Eli Verschleiser, September 3, 2015

Could a nuclear deal with Iran accomplish more than decades of diplomacy in the Middle East and, rather ironically, create new alliances between Israel and Arab neighbors?

That’s a key question as we gear up for the battle on Capitol Hill over President Barack Obama’s controversial pact with Tehran to limit uranium enrichment in return for lifting of sanctions. Critics say the agreement paves the way for a double reward of Tehran— a huge influx of cash and an eventual, unfettered path toward nuclear arms.

Neither the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, nor the United Arab Emirates or for that matter any of the other Persian Gulf states are too excited about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. The role of Iran in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and the rise of Islamic State terror and the Muslim Brotherhood, have become a much bigger problem for Arab leaders than the tired conflict with Israel. Those countries have a Sunni majority, while Persian Iran is led by rival Shia Muslims.

Iran, of course, is also a major oil rival for the Gulf States and became more powerful following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The Saudis have been publicly moderate on the deal but said to be privately angry over it. Epitomizing the old Middle East adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the Saudis were reported to have offered Israel the ability to use their airspace to strike at Iran. This is a crucial step in keeping a military option on the table as it would save time and fuel if such a strike were necessary. “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official was quoted as saying in an Israeli TV report.

Clearly momentum for alignment with Israel in some form is building.

“To all those who think the Persian state, and the regime of the Rule of the Imprudent… the dictatorial fascist Persian regime which controls it, is a friendly country, whereas Israel is an enemy country, I say that a prudent enemy is better than an imprudent one.”

Those words were written by Abdallah Al-Hadlaq in the official newspaper of Kuwait, Al-Watan.

It is not the first time the author has expressed support for ties with Israel. As far back as 2009 he called on his government and other Gulf states to put aside their differences with Jerusalem and forge an alliance against Iran.

But the fact that his column was published in a government daily in a country without full press freedom speaks volumes.

“The state of Israel and its various governments have waged more than five wars with the Arabs, yet never in the course of these wars did Israel think to use its nuclear weapons against its Arab enemies,” Al-Hadlaq wrote. “Conversely, if the Persian state, with its stupid, rash and fascist regime that hides behind a religious guise, ever develops nuclear weapons, it will not hesitate to use nuclear bombs against the Arab Gulf states in the first conflict that arises.”

Were the Saudis to show leadership in rallying other Sunni-led states against Iran it could have a significant impact on a new order in the Middle East.

Furthermore the new coalition could collectively work wonders to get rid of ISIS, as Jordan’s King Abdullah recently declared in a CNN interview that the war against ISIS ‘is our war’. The Iranian nuclear threat and the ISIS threat can top the agenda in this new coalition.

“Iran does have enough politico-military and economic potential to counter-balance Saudi led “Sunni” states in the Middle East and beyond,” wrote Salman Rafi Sheikh in an essay for the magazine Eastern Outlook last March. “It is precisely for this very reason that Saudi Arabia’s anxiety about an agreement has fueled a flurry of intense diplomacy in recent days to bolster unity among “Sunni” states in the Middle East in the face of “shared threats”, especially those emanating from Iran.”

Rafi Sheikh, a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, noted that “this deal is most likely to send political jolts across the entire Middle Eastern political landscape, with Saudi Arabia and Israel standing as the most sensitive areas to bear its shocks; and as such, are most likely to clutch their hands into an alliance against Iran, and by default, against the US ambitions as well.”

There is great potential for Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to rally Gulf states as well as Turkey, Egypt and Jordan to stand up to an Iran that will only become more emboldened with the huge influx of post-sanctions billions and new political bona fides that will make Tehran bolder.

Increased security cooperation as Iran bides its time for an eventual bomb –after the agreement period, or in the worst-case scenario, in violation of the agreement — may eventually lead to more nuclear proliferation in the region.

Will that mean a nuclear pact between Israel and its former enemies? That will be a fascinating development that could never have been imagined even a decade ago.

And it will truly be a sad irony if, after nearly 70 years of a solid relationship between the United States and Israel, the Jewish state had to turn to despotic regimes with little or no human rights to solidify its security position, feeling far less than confident that Washington has its back than it has in the past.

However this may simply be the beginning of an Arabic Israeli accord where both groups can begin to understand and accept each other.

NATO Allies Making It Easier for Iran to Attack Israel?

September 3, 2015

NATO Allies Making It Easier for Iran to Attack Israel? The Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, September 3, 2015

  • Iran did not go mad and threaten to hit all NATO installations in Turkey because it wanted 3.5 million Turkish citizens to die from the chemical warhead of a Syrian missile. It went mad and threatened because it viewed the defensive NATO assets in Turkey as a threat to its offensive missile capabilities.
  • Iran’s reaction to the NATO assets in Turkey revealed its intentions to attack. It could be a coincidence that the U.S. and Germany (most likely to be followed by Spain) have decided to withdraw their Patriot missile batteries and troops from Turkey shortly after agreeing to a nuclear deal with Iran. But if it is a coincidence, it is a very suspicious one. Why were Assad’s missiles a threat to Turkey two and a half years ago, but are not today?
  • Apparently, NATO allies believe, although the idea defies logic, that the nuclear deal with Iran will discourage the mullahs in Tehran from attacking Israel.

In early 2013, NATO supposedly came to its ally’s help: As Turkey was under threat from Syrian missiles — potentially with biological/chemical warheads — the alliance would build a mini anti-missile defense architecture on Turkish soil. Six U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries would be deployed in three Turkish cities and protect a vast area where about 3.5 million Turks lived.

The Patriot batteries that would protect Turkey from Syrian missiles belonged to the United States, Germany and the Netherlands. In early 2015, the Dutch mission ended and was replaced by Spanish Patriots. Recently, the German government said that it would withdraw its Patriot batteries and 250 troops at the beginning of 2016. Almost simultaneously, the U.S. government informed Turkey that its Patriot mission, expiring in October, would not be renewed. Washington cited “critical modernization upgrades” for the withdrawal.

Since the air defense system was stationed on Turkish soil, it unnerved Iran more than it did Syria. There is a story behind this. First, Patriot missiles cannot protect large swaths of land, but only designated friendly sites or installations in their vicinity. That the six batteries would protect Turkey’s entire south and 3.5 million people living there was a tall tale. They would instead protect a U.S.-owned, NATO-assigned radar deployed earlier in Kurecik, a Turkish town; and they would protect it not from Syrian missiles with chemical warheads, but from Iranian ballistic missiles.

1234 (1)U.S. Patriot missiles, deployed outside Gaziantep, Turkey in 2013. (Image source: U.S. Army Europe/Daniel Phelps)

Kurecik seemed to matter a lot to Iran. In November 2011, Iran threatened that it would target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey (“and then hit the next targets,” read Israel) if it were threatened. Shortly before the arrival of Patriots in Turkey, Iran’s army chief of staff warned NATO that stationing Patriot anti-missile batteries in Turkey was “setting the stage for world war.”

What was stationed in Kurecik was an early-warning missile detection and tracking radar system. Its mission is to provide U.S. naval assets in the Mediterranean with early warning and tracking information in case of an Iranian missile launch that might target an ally or a friendly country, including Israel. So, a six-battery Patriot shield to protect the NATO radar in Kurecik against possible Iranian aggression was necessary. And that explains why the Iranians went mad about Kurecik and openly threatened to hit it.

NATO and Turkish officials have always denied any link between the Patriot missiles and the NATO radar in Turkey. They have often pointed out that the Patriot batteries were stationed in the provinces of Adana, Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, while Kurecik was in nearby Malatya province. But the Patriot is a road-mobile system: It can be dismantled easily and re-deployed in another area in a matter of hours (the road distance between Kurecik and Kahramanmaras is a mere 200 kilometers, or 124 miles).

Clearly, Iran did not go mad and threaten to hit all NATO installations in Turkey because it wanted 3.5 million Turkish citizens to die from the chemical warhead of a Syrian missile. It went mad and threatened because it viewed the defensive NATO assets in Turkey as a threat to its offensive missile capabilities, which the Patriots could potentially neutralize.

Why, otherwise, would a country feel “threatened” and threaten others with starting a “world war” just because a bunch of defensive systems are deployed in a neighboring country? Iran did so because it views the NATO radar in Turkey as an asset that could counter any missile attack on Israel; and the Patriots as hostile elements because they would protect that radar. In a way, Iran’s reaction to the NATO assets in Turkey revealed its intentions to attack.

It could be a total coincidence that the U.S. and Germany (most likely to be followed by Spain) have decided to pull their Patriot batteries and troops from Turkey shortly after agreeing to a nuclear deal with Iran. But if it is a coincidence, it is a very suspicious one. In theory, the Patriot systems were deployed in Turkey in order to protect the NATO ally from missile threats from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Right? Right.

Assad’s regime is still alive in Damascus and it has the same missile arsenal it had in 2013. Moreover, Turkey’s cold war with Assad’s Syria is worse than it was in 2013, with Ankara systematically supporting every opposition group and openly declaring that it is pushing for Assad’s downfall. Why were Assad’s missiles a threat to Turkey two and a half years ago, but are not today?

The Patriot missiles are leaving Turkey. They no longer will “protect Turkish soil.”

Apparently, NATO allies believe, although the idea defies logic, that the nuclear deal with Iran will discourage the mullahs in Tehran from attacking Israel.

It looks as if the potential target of NATO heavyweights’ decision is more a gesture to Iran than to Turkey.


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