Beyond the Cusp

February 22, 2018

Iranian Nuclear War with Israel or the World


After reading Professor Louis René Beres’s article “Looking Ahead: Longer Term Prospects for an Israel-Iran Nuclear War” we found some additional aspects which were either dismissed or ignored. We decided that perhaps we could add some information by looking more closely at the Iranian perspectives and what these should mean to Israeli planners. The one item with which we took the most critical concern was his statement, “In essence, there are no conceivable experts on fighting a nuclear war, not in Washington, not in Pyongyang, not in Jerusalem, not in Tehran.” He also postulated that, “Insofar as a nuclear war has never been fought, what will be needed is more broadly intellectual guidance than Israel should ever reasonably expect from even its most senior and accomplished military officers.” The reality is that senior officers often have educations equal to that of many professors and their minds are just as keen and capable of any academic. We will grant that officers exist who are nowhere near the expert of some academics, but mostly those are junior officers and by the time an officer makes Full Bird Colonel they have at the least a Bachelor’s degree and probably a Master’s degree and many a General will have a Doctorate in at least one field from Military History to Mathematics, Physics and possibly Nuclear Physics. They will all have taken courses in Military Tactics, as even Noncommissioned officers are required to take such courses. They will have been required to take a number of command courses and often have attended some very rigorous military training courses which is how they get those impressive patches such as Ranger, Airborne and even Special Forces or Seals in the United States. So, to be honest, there are likely very few professors or other experts who would be better trained, educated and able to make the decisions and make plans to handle any threat including, or even especially, a nuclear standoff or even an actual nuclear exchange.


Professor Beres also said that there had never been a nuclear war, but that is technically not entirely valid as the War with Japan at the end of World War II was ended by the use of nuclear weapons which kind of means that the War with Japan did turn into the first, and thus far, only nuclear war. That was a completely one sided nuclear exchange as Japan had no nuclear weapons with which to respond which is what made the American use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki so effective. Fortunately, the Japanese did not know that the United States had used every nuclear weapon at their disposal and did not posses a third weapon. Had Japan tested the resolve of President Truman, the American’s next move was to build fifty additional nuclear weapons in the ensuing year and strike Japan with most of them in simultaneous strikes including Tokyo and a number of nuclear weapons into Mount Fuji in the hopes of causing a massive eruption. This was not much of a lesson for a nuclear standoff between two nuclear-armed adversaries. Such a standoff has limited lessons to teach us with only two which come to mind. The minor one has been the battle of the boasting idiots between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Deciding which one is the larger idiot would be a difficult call but we would have to side with Kim Jong-un if he honestly believes he is a man-god and that his nation is as happy and well off as any other on the face of the planet. All he would need do is look southward to the Winter Olympics in South Korea to see that his nation is in dire shape and has some extreme problems. But then he knows this and this was what caused him to test President Trump and pressure the world with threats trying to force them to treat his temper tantrum by sending his beleaguered nation food and money. The more serious standoff between two nuclear powers was the Cuban Missile Crisis. This pitted the United States and President Kennedy against the USSR and Commissar Khrushchev. This standoff ended peaceably but not before nerves throughout the globe was frayed to the breaking point.


So, let us now look at what the future nuclear situation might be between Israel and Iran as well as Iran and the rest of the world. The first thing which can be stated, is, that Israel would not be the first to use nuclear weapons except in response to an attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against Israel. Israel has made this their policy on nuclear weapons and their use such that they would only be used in response to a WMD attack. Now, such a nuclear response might be used on Iran if there were a massive WMD attack emanating from Syria or Hezballah which could be traced as being ordered by Iran. Should Iran launch a nuclear or other WMD attack on Israel then an Israeli nuclear response should be expected against Iran and for Israel to go on alert in case of an attack across the northern border from Hezballah or Syria. This covers every use of her nuclear weapons by Israel except for one rumored plan known as the Samson Option, used as the basis of “The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy,” a 1991 book by Seymour Hersh. The theory put forth presumably from an Israeli intelligence source who told of plans that should Israel be facing being overrun and destroyed by invading armies, then she would respond by launching her missiles at the main population centers of numerous Arab and Muslim nations which was hoped to prevent any attacks by Arab armies. The last organized assault on Israel by national military forces was the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, which was before Israel was assumed to have a nuclear arsenal. Since then the Arab world has not launched an assault on Israel using conventional forces and only through terror forces. There may be a question whether Hezballah, with there over one-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles could be considered to be a national type military force equating any attack by Hezballah into an attack by Lebanon and possibly their masters in Tehran thus including Iran? This is a conundrum for the heads of state and the military in Israel and we are not about to second-guess them and will wait for any announced policy. There has been some mention that should Hezballah attack Israel that Israel now considers Hezballah as being the governance of Lebanon and thus any attack by Hezballah would, at the least, be considered an attack by Lebanon.


This leaves Iran and what their leadership might be thinking about nuclear confrontations. It was reported by CNN on September 11, 2015, that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said during a speech that week in Tehran, state-run media report, which translated as, “I’d say (to Israel) that they will not see (the end) of these 25 years.” That, in and of itself, is ominous enough to rattle nerves or it could be written off to bluster meant to impress the Iranian people. One thing people need to understand about the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is that his life revolves around the Quran and it is the Quran which provides him with his authority, gives him authority to make Iranian foreign policy decisions, and allows him great latitude concerning internal decision making within Iran. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is all but unopposable when it comes to decision making and his word is as good as law. If the Supreme Leader were to order a nuclear attack on Israel, the missiles would be launched within minutes with almost nobody even thinking of questioning these orders. What is unknown is who, other than the Supreme Leader, is able to order such an attack. This is not as well known and there are suspicions that there are some military high level officers who might also be permitted to give such orders including the leader of the IRGC, the special forces and most fanatical of the Iranian military. These are also the forces responsible for foreign operations including terrorist attacks. For our concerns, we will limit our concerns to address just the possibility for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordering a nuclear strike on Israel or on any other nation.


First, let us look at what logic might be used by the Ayatollah. He would be aware that the United States has extended their nuclear umbrella to Israel which would imply that any nuclear attack upon Israel would potentially result in the United States striking back at the attacker. Between Israel and the United States, there is little comparison between their nuclear capabilities as the United States has a far more capable nuclear capability. The first question is whether or not the United States truly would respond as promised to a nuclear strike on Israel. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has witnessed a number of United States Presidents and has very probably noticed that the level of support Israel receives wavers from President to President, especially under the administration of President Obama. Thus, it is more likely that the Ayatollah would be more likely to consider taking any actions when the United States has a President who has shown preferably hostility to Israel or possibly only an indifference towards Israel and has pressured Israel over the ill-fated peace process. The real problem comes back to the one book which guides the Ayatollahs and much of the higher officers, especially those of the IRGC, which is the Quran. The one command from the Quran which has appeared again and again when it comes to relations towards Israel are two-fold, first, to kill the infidel wherever one finds them, and second, that the hour (end times) will not begin until you fight the Jews. The combination of these two concepts could lead to problems as the Iranian leading Imams and Ayatollahs have repeatedly proposed that Iran was chosen to bring on the coming of the Mahdi and the End Times. They have claimed that should they cause sufficient chaos and follow prescriptions written in the Quran, that they can cause the onset of the End Times and the coming of the Mahdi. This has often been stated to be solely the hope and ideas held by the Twelvers but some in politics have also adopted these ideas in order to gain greater acceptance by the ruling clerics. Many claim that Iran is not ruled by Twelvers though former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought this threat to a head and since then there have been more and more in the power structure who have been revealed as Twelvers. The prevalence of the Twelvers would make the leadership more aggressive which could be a problem, a definite problem.


Israel and Iran

Israel and Iran


What would possibly push a greater threat would be a Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah who came under some suspicions of impropriety or other weakness which might lead them to make a desperate grab at ending the rumors replacing them with a far greater news story. The Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah could be completely above all suspicion; but should the economic situations worsen leading to greater demonstrations and complete civil unrest and the regular military side with the people and the Ayatollahs believe they are losing control of the nation and may soon be deposed, then having nothing further to lose they might take equally desperate moves. Either threat could lead the Iranian leadership to throw everything they have in their arsenals at Israel and potentially also the United States. But no matter what the immediate future will bring, eventually the Ayatollahs will decide to use any weapons they have and in the not too distant future, that will mean nuclear weaponry. The Quran will eventually force the leadership who will be pressed by the IRGC commanders to press their revolution and Israel and Saudi Arabia are the two targets highest on their list. This means that sooner or later the Iranians will launch weapons at Israel. We will grant that this would not happen until Iran had struck Saudi Arabia and taken over Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities of all Islam. They also have desires to take over Egypt and would have to take Turkey so as to place somebody to rule there as President Erdoğan still has dreams to reestablish the Ottoman Empire and as he will support Iran, that will only last for as long as the Iranian dreams of reestablishing the Persian Empire do not interrupt his idea for the Ottoman Empire. There is no way for the two empires to coexist as the Persian Empire included all of Turkey and much of the Ottoman Empire plus, the Ottoman Empire also included Mecca and Medina, something the Iranians already have their own ideas about. The one place where Turkey and Iran will agree is on attacking Israel, providing that Israel will only be striking back at Iran and Turkey can remain unscathed. The problem is that at some point in the future the Iranian Supreme Leader and Grand Ayatollah will call for an all out attack to destroy Israel and should Israel see a fair number of ballistic missiles headed for Israel launched from Iran, Israel will no longer have time for diplomacy, Israel will need to reply anticipating that the Iranian missiles are tipped with WMD’s and most likely nuclear weapons. We can only hope that before such an eventuality comes to fruition that the people of Iran succeed in replacing their theocratic dictatorship with a true democratic governance which represents the people’s desires and write a constitution which will revitalize the Iranian economic situation and liberate the people from the Ayatollahs and their oppressive rule. We need remember that before the return of the Ayatollahs in 1979, Israel and Iran were friends with embassies and good relations and vital trade. A return to such would be good for Israel, good for Iran and good for both Iranians and Israelis as well as the rest of the Middle East.


Beyond the Cusp


September 16, 2013

Syrian Chemical Weapons Returning to Iraq

It is like déjà vu in reverse as there are reports of heavily guarded convoys of large trucks crossing the Syria-Iraq border without any inspections. The report from the Lebanese paper Al-Mustaqbal told of twenty such heavy trucks. There will be detractors who will point out that Al-Mustaqbal is affiliated with the anti-Syrian political camp in Lebanon. The last time this occurred it resulted in cries of where are the WMDs with leftists and the anti-war-anti-Bush crowd in the United States conveniently forgetting the trains of trucks over the last weeks leading up to the second Gulf War transporting clandestine cargo from Iraq into eastern Syria and beyond. It will be interesting this time to see who will conveniently ignore these shipments crossing that same border only in the opposite direction. Anybody who claims where are the WMDs in a challenge to President Obama who was not a member of the President George W. Bush detractors should be ashamed of themselves as they are simply being spiteful, and that goes double for those who were supports of President George W. Bush as they should definitely know better. What I am wondering is exactly how much assistance are the Russians providing this time around as they were up to their necks in removing Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons materials and placing them safely beyond the border in Syria in order to embarrass the Americans and could easily be seen to be playing the same shell game once more.


Of course there are already denials from the Iraqi government which logically would not want to be suspected of receiving chemical weapons against numerous treaties. Saad Maan, a spokesperson for Iraq’s Interior Ministry was quoted as saying, “These accusations are all rumors and useless and no one believes them.” Additionally, Ali al-Mosawi, an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki claimed, “Iraq is against the possession of these weapons and other weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world and under any pretext.”  All of this is especially curious coming on the heels of a Russian authored resolution to the crisis over the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict presumably by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad and the accusatory reaction to such reports by United States President Barack Obama. This had served to cross President Obama’s stated “Red Line” which was to result in severe reprisals from the United States including but not necessarily restricted to military intervention. President Obama was dithering and stalling in obvious attempts to find some path which would meet his threats while not including necessary military actions. It was in response to this predicament that Russian President Vladimir Putin made his grand gesture entering the scene rather overtly and dramatically providing President Obama a graceful, but not excessively graceful or without inflicting some pain and shame, path to redemption. Word of advice to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, take your medicine quietly and please cease your efforts to amend your images as anything other than woefully inadequate in the face of a crisis which was of Obama’s making in the first place is useless. Allow Putin to strut as he may overplay his hand and one should never stop a foe from overplaying their hand, and it would be to your advantage that this entire episode plays out as quietly and quickly as possible. There is no face saving coming your way.


This movement across the Syrian border into Iraq will need to be watched carefully and intently in order to verify any continued transfer of items by convoys as time proceeds. Attention should also be paid to the Lebanon border for any transfers of chemical weapons or other materials from Syria into Lebanon. Needless to point out that the Israelis will be paying special attention looking for any such movements and would likely be able to provide detailed information on any transfers from Syria into Lebanon and thus to Hezballah. Perhaps the world should be happy for small mercies as there is no need to worry about any other of the Syrian borders as neither Turkey nor Jordan would allow any chemical weapons to cross into their lands. The importance of this news and the implication of any of al-Assad’s chemical weapons being transferred across the Iraqi border depend on your main concerns. If your concern is simply the use of such weapons in the Syrian conflict, then this may be arguably acceptable resolution, but if your aim is like the majority appears to be demanding, that the chemical weapons not only not be utilized in the Syrian theater of war, but that the chemical weapons be completely destroyed, then this would be unacceptable and should be taken very seriously. If previous willful lack of concern when so much of Saddam Hussein’s weapons crossed this same border in the opposite direction prevails, then it will not cause any great concern on the world stage, especially at the United Nations, that such weapons and other related items such as warheads and precursors to such chemicals as Sarin and other binary agents are spirited off to be used in some future war. Such is one of the sad realities of politics and the enticement of turning one’s head in order to take the easiest route out of any situation no matter the ramifications as they can be blamed later on somebody else, they always are and there always is a somebody else, or so it seems.


Beyond the Cusp


September 2, 2013

Obama Falsely Using Israel as Excuse to Strike Syria

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry both trotted out the White House’s excuse that Congress needs to approve Syria strike which has nothing to do with his real intentions. Israel has not requested not even actually wishes to have Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad removed, especially as doing so would result in placing al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood on their northern border. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded way back at the beginning of the Syrian civil war when asked if Israel planned to act in any way to assist the rebel fighters by stating that Israel has no intentions of interfering in Syria’s internal conflict and that as far as Israel was concerned neither side presented a desirable outcome and that they would be just as happy to continue with Assad in power as he was a known entity which was unlikely to attack Israel. Simply put, they preferred the devil they know over the devil they don’t know which makes perfect sense when already there are unstable governments throughout the Middle East and Israel already has to adjust again to the changes in Egypt. There is no way that Prime Minister Netanyahu or anybody else in the Israeli ruling coalition who has officially, or even unofficially, requested for the United States to strike al-Assad or anybody within Syria. This is simply a false flag opportunistic misdirection whereby President Obama is falsely representing his desire to assist the Muslim Brotherhood replace Assad just as he supported Morsi in Egypt and place the blame when everything goes wrong on Israel. President Obama wants to strike al-Assad and then claim Israel made him do it when the world demands he pay for his meddling.


The last thing Israel needs is to have a bullseye painted on them tied to striking Syrian military sites further angering and providing a ready excuse to Hezballah and Iran to strike Israel. Things are precarious enough as Syria, Hezballah, Iran and any allies Iran can muster such as potentially Iraq all threatening to strike at Israel should the United States or anybody else strikes Syrian assets of al-Assad. With President Obama now singling out Israel as the motivation for such an attack also takes the eyes off his claim that the strike on Syria was for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military. Presumably the White House has been given intelligence which proves beyond any doubt that it was under orders from al-Assad that the chemical weapons attack was perpetrated. Thus far none of this damning evidence has been produced and we are all supposed to take President Obama’s word that it exists and is definitive. So, which is it Mr. President, is this attack you claim needs to be brought on targets of the Syrian military due to unimpeachable evidence or to help Israel despite the small inconvenient fact that Israel never requested or even intimated they desire such an attack. Israel gets blamed for enough things that the last thing they need is the President of the United States claiming that he is attacking one of Israel’s neighbors to protect Israel. Israel is perfectly able to protect herself and would strike Syrian assets if they wished such and do not need you pinning your desire to attack Syrian targets on their dime. Thank you but no thank you Mr. President.


Regarding the Syrian civil war and the Sunni Shiite struggle it had morphed into, Israel has made their position abundantly clear stating that they have no interest in this fight and their sole concern is that they will act to prevent any transfer of chemical weapons or weapon systems which might be game changers from being transferred or given to Hezballah as any weapons Hezballah receives are almost exclusively for use against Israel and thus their concern. Nowhere in their concerns was there any mention of chemical weapons being used within the Syrian theater, none. Nowhere in their concerns was there any mention of regime change pro or con. Israel’s concerns are simple, they will not allow Hezballah to receive weapons which could pose additional or new threats and they reserve the right to defend against any attacks which cross their border threatening Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers. Beyond that Israel will allow the different sides within Syria to fight among themselves for as long as they wish to continue just as long as they leave Israel alone. Such does not sound like Israel wishes for President Obama to ask Congress to allow him to strike Syria for anything remotely concerning Israel. So, please American Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, please request that President Obama clarify the reasons he is seeking your support for attacking Syrian military assets and targets and if he insists on keeping to the story that he is doing it to assist Israel, please tell him no for us, thank you.


Beyond the Cusp


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