Beyond the Cusp

March 1, 2014

A Tale of Two Potential Conflicts

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Of all the potential flashpoints existing in the world, we would like to compare and contrast two separate potential conflicts; the possible intervention in the political unrest in the Ukraine by Russia and the possibility that Israel might intervene to attempt to address and mute the several threats across numerous fronts including Hezballah, Hamas and their sponsor Iran. Where any Israeli action against the growing threats made out of Iran would also require that Israel to take into consideration how they would address the additional arms that Iran has direct influence and could turn loose to attack Israel utilizing the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of rockets and missiles ranging through the gamut from Katyusha and Grad rockets to Scud, Fajr and Zelzal-2s. The questions in each case run the full range from what would be the reactions of the United Nations to reactions from the major powers and other significant groups and entities.

 

Starting with the possibility of a Russian intervention in the Ukraine, what are the various scenarios and resultant ramifications. It is very possible that the Russians will be able to claim that their intervention is in response to requests from the people of the Ukraine who saw the overthrow of the government as a direct threat to their interests and safety. Such a request could easily be made by the majority Russian citizens living in the eastern and southern provinces of the Ukraine who have made clear their preference for the Ukraine to align with Russia over aligning with the European Union. There are reports that the Russians have placed a large force on their border with the Ukraine including fighter and other aircraft wings which would be necessary to assist with any military intervention. United States President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel have all made statements warning the Russians that the United States Administration is opposed and demands that they not enter or otherwise interfere with the political process currently occurring in the Ukraine. The odds that Russian President Putin will heed such a warning and have it influence his decisions are basically nil. Much of this has to do with the complete lack of the United States to back earlier warnings given to Syria when American President Obama announced his red-line and serious consequences on Syrian President al-Assad against his deploying chemical weapons. The complete ineffectiveness of the American threat of serious consequences resulting in dithering and equivocation by President Obama leading to inaction and a stalemate which was almost painful to witness and was thankfully brought to a definitive end when President Putin intervened proposing the confiscation and destruction of al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal granting President Obama a way to climb down from the embarrassment of being caught on his own petard.

 

Should the Russians intervene in the Ukraine the world is most likely to sit on their hands and not offer even the mildest rebuke. The truth is that the Russians, especially under President Putin’s leadership, are sufficiently feared and retain sufficient threat to cause any sane and reasoned person or nation to carefully consider if the Ukraine is really worth their potentially confronting the Russians and challenging President Putin. Furthermore, as the Russians are one of the permanent nations on the Security Council and possess a full right of vetoing any actions or proposals presented for consideration by that body, there is absolutely no possibility to condemn any Russian actions in the Security Council. The possibility of Russia being rebuked by the General Assembly is one of the most laughable proposals anybody could ever make. The General Assembly often appears like it exists for denouncing the United States, Israel and even the European nations while forgiving any transgressions by the entirety of the non-free and third world nations. The end result of a Russian intervention in the Ukraine would likely be very similar to the results decades ago when the Soviet Union rolled tanks and troops into the rebellious republic of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, bringing the reforms and attempt to move out from under the Soviet thumb by Czechoslovakia with nary a significantly effective complaint from the entire world. Putting it succinctly, Russia could walk into the Ukraine and annex the entire nation reestablishing Russian control of the entirety of the Ukraine and outside of any demonstrations by Ukrainians there would be little effective protest. The resistance by any Ukrainians would be short lived and ended with whatever brutality was deemed necessary as that is the Putin way.

 

In the other situation, the cacophony of denunciations and demands for the world to completely condemn Israel would be deafening and seemingly universal. There would be a race between the different nations to bring condemnations of Israel before the General Assembly and the Security Council would be in emergency session before the sun set and possibly before the jets returned from a strike on Iran. There would be claims upon claims quoting International Law as requiring the condemnation of Israel for their wanton assault on another United Nations member nation. The justification which Israel could offer would never be given the slightest consideration in the rush to condemnation. But is such condemnation appropriate or would Israel have a right and justifiable reasoning behind such an attack that would be backed by International Law? Surprisingly to most, the answer is a definitive yes. The Iranian leadership including Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, numerous Imams, many of the Ministers from the Iranian Parliament and numerous other members of the leadership both political and religious have publically called repeatedly for the annihilation of Israel. There have been large assemblies of Iranians, often weekly on Friday after services where the Imam likely gave a sermon demonizing Israel and calling for Jihad to reclaim Islamic lands, who chanted in unison repeating the chant often spoken from the podium by a high government or religious official calling out, “Death to Israel” as well as religious chants proclaiming the supremacy of Allah and their dedication to serve Allah often by actions to destroy the Jewish State. Speeches given by leading government leaders at parades and other events which almost always include martial demonstrations such as parading missiles on launchers in parades these leaders claim that the military strength displayed will soon be loosed on Israel destroying the Zionist Entity. These provocations, if they can be believed as actual statements of intent and the probability of their being a true forecast of actions exists, then Israel would have sufficient cause to attack Iran to destroy the Iranian ability to make war upon Israel under International Law. That is the crux of the argument behind the threats to strike the Iranian nuclear sites and the same arguments would also hold for an Israeli strike on Iranian military targets.

 

Where Israel would face a series of severe threats would be from the terror forces which are available to carry out any Iranian calls for attacks on Israel. These include minimally Hezballah and Hamas and could also include terror forces in the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority, Judea and Samaria, also called the West Bank. This very likely was one of the subjects which was discussed when Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas visited Tehran, Iran recently. Such would most definitely have come up if Chairman Abbas was requesting any funding or other assistance from the Iranians, something which is very likely as Abbas appears to be incapable of visiting anywhere and not begging for funding. Where Israel would be hard-pressed in making an argument for attacking the Palestinian Authority areas, they would easily be able to make a convincing argument concerning both Hezballah and Hamas as both have left no doubt that their intent is the destruction of Israel and the genocidal slaughter of every Jew, often referred to as Zionists, residing in Israel no matter their political persuasions. The reality of any Israeli attack is that you would be able to count the number of nations that would actively support the Israelis would likely be countable on your two hands. Bless United States, the Czech Republic, Panama, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and especially Canada (with a salute to Prime Minister Harper). These were the only nations which found the nerve and good conscience to vote against recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a non-member state. Israel would face a boycott from the European Union and the Arab League would be red-faced in angry denouncements. Israel might not even be able to count on having the United States defend them with their veto in the Security Council. It might even be prudent for Israel to resign their membership in the United Nations which for the vast majority of its recent history has been the place Israel could go to be denigrated and denounced for her audacity to exist. The differences between a Russian military intervention in the Ukraine and Israel acting in her own self-interest and defense would be diametrically opposite in act and reasoning. Some things are only remarkable in their obvious predictability as in their lack of moral conscience and convictions.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 7, 2014

Iran Will Soon Produce Deployable Nuclear Weapons

In the two months between the announced and much touted framework of an interim agreement reached between the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) plus Germany, also known as the P5+1, and Iran there has been a number of revealing comments and strategies displayed. The most overlooked but probably of vital importance was that the agreement which was proclaimed to be such a great victory of diplomacy took another three weeks of negotiations before a date of implementation was able to be announced. That date is January 20, 2014, a mere three weeks after the date originally announced by the Obama Administration as the target date agreed to back in November of last year. This was merely one last reminder of what the Iranian goal has been since day one, delay, delay, delay. What was additionally interesting was that after the greatest diplomatic victory ever accomplished without resorting to the use of weapons was not even actually a deal but rather some guidelines necessarily needing fleshing out and further negotiations defining the original vague and broad statements which were otherwise quite meaningless.

 

This fact should give any observer a clue about the entirety of the negotiations, near agreements, bellicose accusations, angry rebuttals, and virtually every other form of diplomatic posturing that can be laughingly called serious negotiations, namely that Iran won the time and the release of funding along with sanctions relief just in time to cover the investments necessary to actually produce a nuclear weapon. Up to this point much of the efforts were in two main areas, first making sufficient enriched Uranium which could be rapidly refined to weapons grade enrichment of 90% and the theoretical research and development of the actual structures and components necessary to build the actual nuclear device. All the Iranians required to accomplish these goals were thousands of centrifuges, sufficient raw Uranium ore or Yellow Cake which is required to produce uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) to feed the centrifuges and scientists with computers and time to develop the actual research into manufacturing the actual weapon. The Iranians have Uranium mines within their borders, produced thousands of centrifuges slowly and steadily over time, procured sufficient Yellow Cake also over time, and had the scientists to design the actual weapon. The one common denominator the Iranians required from the negotiations was time, and that they accomplished.

 

Now the Iranians are entering the final stages for becoming a nuclear armed state, the actual production of the actual weapons. This stage requires far less time than the previous stages but does require far more revenues to attain the needed items and raw materials other than the enriched Uranium and the machinery necessary to produce the components to accuracies which are extremely defined and specific. This was the impetus behind the so-called Iranian change in attitude and willingness to negotiate far more honestly and seriously than previously. The Iranians knew they were going to be required to at least promise to abide by restrictions in order to achieve the release of much of their frozen funds as well as the lifting of particular sanctions in order to procure the rest of the materials required for their final push to nuclear weapons status. This is exactly what the agreement in Geneva accomplished after not simply years but decades of contentious adversarial diplomatic wrangling and debate where Iran had been stalling for time. Negotiating for time requires intransigence, rigid stances, accusations, demands for specific definitions, intricacies and any other stalling method that draws out the period that the negotiations continue. One of the Iranian’s favorite ploys was to feign complicity only to make demands for relief from sanctions which were known to be unacceptable blowing apart any progress at the final instances when a deal appeared imminent. This allowed the Western leaders to tout the new, serious and agreeable turn in the Iranian position only to detour the final stage of negotiations into a dead end and then showing a pique of anger walking out necessitating a complete restart from square one in the negotiations when they were resumed. Now the Iranians have turned a corner in the negotiations where they no longer were negotiating for time and have now negotiated for relief from sanctions and monetary relief as these are the required elements for Iran to make their final push to produce nuclear weapons, and that is exactly what President Obama arranged to happen with this latest agreement.

 

During this past week, Iranian lawmaker, cleric, and member of the Majilis (one of the ruling councils) Mohammed Nabavian declared that Iran does need a nuclear bomb in order to destroy Israel. He further related that Iran would need but “two weeks” if it gets “access to 270 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium. This was one of the Red Lines put in place by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as something Israel could not let pass and simply ignore. According to Iranian media Nabavian had stated, “We are not looking for a nuclear bomb, but having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel.” He then went on to explain how the Iranian leadership had maneuvered President Obama and the Western leaders to a point where they needed Iran more than Iran did them. He used the chasing and calling to beg for an audience with newly elected Iranian President Rouhani by United States President Obama in New York during the opening ceremonies for the United Nations General Assembly to illustrate Obama’s apparent weakness as compared to Iranian strength. After everything he said, the one statement which should stand out was the admission that Iran would require a nuclear weapon in order to destroy Israel. That is tantamount to a declaration of intent to develop nuclear weapons by Iran and should be seen as such. Iran will have attained nuclear weapons status before the six months runs out on the interim agreement. Even should they run into any unsuspected problems, the agreement is written to include a provision which allows for it to be renewed by the two parties should they agree. Renewing the agreement for another six months would probably take less time than would the introductions of the members of the individual delegations attending the meetings to formalize such an extension. This little stated fact provides the real intent of the interim agreement, namely to allow Iran the financial, economic and procurement latitude freed from certain sanctions to produce their nuclear arsenal without any further Western interference. That is why it is highly likely that Iran will have produced at least three to eight deliverable nuclear devices within the six month time period of the agreement and will simply continue to extend the agreement in six month chunks for as long as allowed to get away with that ploy or until the Western nations capitulate completely and free Iran from any restraints in the name of cooperation and peace for our times. Why does that phrase sound so eerily familiar?

 

Beyond the Cusp


January 5, 2014

Growing Potential Threats of Armageddon from Lebanon

Five short range unguided rockets were launched out of southern Lebanon targeting Israel. Only one rocket struck within Israel and fortunately exploded in an open field near the city of Kiryat Shmona, close to the Lebanese border. There were no casualties or damage and Israeli artillery responded striking the launch site to assure no further attacks. This follows other serious breaches of the peace which include two shooting incidents across the border by Lebanese military uniformed troops with one incident resulting in the death of an IDF soldier driving along the border area. These instigations come as reports have also claimed Hezballah has been transferring longer range rockets including Scud versions C and D, medium-range Fateh rockets produced in Iran, along with Fajr rockets and antiaircraft weapons. American intelligence has reported the smuggling of Russian anti-ship missile systems over from Syria, piece by piece, in order to avoid more Israeli airstrikes. This includes supersonic Yakhont rockets which are capable of striking both land and sea targets. There are apparently missing vital parts which according to a senior defense official, “To make it lethal, a system needs to be complete.” These reports come in addition to the estimated one thousand plus shorter range rockets Hezballah has imported from Iran since the Second Lebanon War despite United Nations assurances that such resupply would be prevented by a reinforced UNIFIL patrolling southern Lebanon and the Lebanon-Syrian border.

 

At the opening of this week’s meeting of his Cabinet, Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following statement, “We hold the Lebanese government responsible for firing that is carried out from within its territory. What is happening in Lebanon is that Hezbollah is stationing thousands of missiles and rockets in apartments, in the heart of the civilian population, and is thus perpetrating two war crimes simultaneously. It is organizing the firing at civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human shields.” He added, “This is a double war crime that is being perpetrated under the aegis of the Lebanese government and army which are not lifting a finger to prevent this arming and these crimes. We hold the Lebanese government responsible for this development.”

 

What the Prime Minister politely omitted is that the Lebanese government and its military are both largely controlled by Hezballah through their political arm. When one speaks of official Lebanese policies they are basically referring to those things the Lebanese government has been instructed to carry out in the service of Hezballah. Of course it is impolite to mention such things and people from polite political circles refrain from such accusation. Sometimes it is an advantage not having to hold to polite speaking guidelines. What is of concern is whether this apparent movement of Hezballah’s heavier weapons systems out of Syria is due to the danger posed by the Syrian civil war or because of instructions from Iran to prepare for attacks upon Israel. Such attacks might be ordered by Iran should they decide to disregard parts or all of the nuclear agreement recently hammered out and presumably to go into effect on or around January 20, 2014. Iran has often stated that they would attack Israel first should any military attack be made against them. Iranian spokespeople have stated outright that their intent was to attack Israel, if Israel struck Iran or if the United States struck Iran or if anybody struck Iran. They went on to claim that Israel would not know from where such attacks would come, be it from Iran, from Hezballah or from other Iranian assets which remained unnamed. Thus far such accusatory language which could be interpreted as a belligerent act has been rejected as bluster and for the benefit of the regime and not taken as a threat of immediate actions. Of course if the Iranian leadership continues to threaten acts of war they may find that there is a limit after which their threats will be taken as a serious call to arms.

 

The other tactical problem which has been recognized is that Hezballah has placed their longer range rockets in various and separate locations which would require an extensive and particularly destructive air campaign to render them inoperable. Additionally, as pointed out be Prime Minister Netanyahu, Hezballah has distributed their shorter range rockets to occupy most of southern Lebanon placing them within apartment buildings, homes, schools and other buildings which are considered safeguarded by military convention thus posing as a criminal act. This is not a concern which Hezballah will be troubled over as their plan is to be able to accuse Israel of attacking civilian targets and buildings which are supposedly protected under the conventions of war. They will ignore the fact that by placing military positions such as rocket stores and launching facilities in these areas they have rendered their protections void placing the civilians in harm’s way.

 

An unfortunate reality is that much of the world media is very likely to repeat these accusations that Israel intentionally attacks civilian targets such as apartments, hospitals, schools and private residences with at most a singular reference to the fact that they were in reality concealed military targets being used to launch attacks upon Israel targeting mostly Israeli civilians as well as military. And then there will be the obligatory condemnation from the United Nations General Assembly and numerous human rights and other agencies empowered by the United Nations which will also be reported for months after the initial reports as these hearings when it concerns Israel become a regular part scheduled into every meeting. The United Nations Human Rights Council has it in their bylaws that each meeting is to first, before discussing the actual reason behind the meeting, there must be a report and condemnation of Israel for human rights offensives whether there has been any reported simply as a part of their doing their business. I am sure there are numerous NGOs which have a similar agenda. About all that can be added after that is let us hope that there never comes the day that the Iranian threats become fact and the conflagration which will ensue begins. That will be a very sad day and may be the beginning of a conflict which might easily mushroom beyond imagination, especially if the promises from the P5+1 that they have corralled the Iranian nuclear program such that it is impossible for them to produce nuclear weapons turns out to be an empty promise full of sound and fury but lacking validity or force of intents. Imagining the potential results of Iran arming Hezballah with even one nuclear weapon is the source of horrid nightmares. May that day never arise.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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