Iran's Vast Military Inferiority and the Prospect of Nukes

One madman with a gun can hold off a hundred cops. The difference is who is more willing to lose his life. Such is the situation between the Khomeini regime and those it has directly threatened. Beginning with Khomeini's rise to power after 1979, the regime has constantly threatened others, and celebrated its own readiness for martyrdom --- which it amply proved in the war with Saddam Hussein. Today Tehran's mortal enemies' list goes far beyond Israel to include Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Jordan, Lebanon, France, Britain, and the United States.

Yet Max Boot points out in the Wall Street Journal that the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia together have

"... 627 combat-capable aircraft vs. only 286 for Iran, and most of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) aircraft are much more advanced. The GCC is well-supplied with modern American fighter-bombers--F-15s, F-16s, F-18s--and they are buying more top-of-the-line hardware all the time. Iran, by contrast, is still reliant on F-4s and F-5s acquired by the shah three decades ago, supplemented by a few more modern Russian and Chinese fighters."  
Add American combat aircraft available in the region, and the advantage over Tehran is well more than doubled again. Add Israel's air force, and it is tripled. Add the Europeans, who are also threatened, and it would be quadrupled.  In total, there is at least a four-to-one advantage in air power. But just like that one madman holding off a hundred soldiers, the difference is in the willingness to take a risk.

That is presumably why Ayatollah Khamenei selected Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad to become the public face of the regime, after a dubious election. A'jad is just the scariest guy imaginable, who can keep Tehran's enemies paralyzed until it reaches its long-term goal of nukes. (No serious person believes Tehran isn't going for nuclear weapons; not even the drafters of the risible NIE).

Obviously, the massive military advantage for Iran's potential victims disappears with Tehran's first nuclear weapon.  A single nuke would make the Khomeini revolution invulnerable, no matter how much its own people hate it.

As much as the wishful Left tries to evade that simple reality, it will not go away. Even Hillary and Obama know that, and it is near-criminal that the media are not asking them what they intend to do about Ahmadi-Nejad's snakepit. If any of our current candidates reaches the White House, Tehran's nukes will be at the very top of the urgent agenda; by that time it may in fact be too late. But the media seem only interested in what Obama wanted to be in 5th grade, and what Hillary will do with the Bill Problem. All that is childish nonsense. It is not the way adults choose a president in dangerous times.

Is it conceivable that Tehran's neighbors will actually use their military advantage and act jointly to take away its suicide bomb? Boot quotes a senior Arab official as saying that "'If we accept Iran as a nuclear power that is like accepting Hitler in 1933-34,' warned one senior Arab official, using the kind of analogy that back in Washington would get him dismissed as a neocon warmonger."  

Indeed. It is difficult to see the Saudis passively accepting a fanatical Khomeinist enemy armed with nukes just a hundred miles away, without asking Pakistan to quickly send some off-the-shelf bombs, just in case.  All the Arab oil nations can buy nukes without the fuss and bother of indigenous development. But they are all also vulnerable to Islamist coups d'etat. How many grinning maniacs do we want in the Middle East, armed with doomsday weapons? In January, 2009, Hillary or Obama could walk into the White House right in the middle of a fast-nuclearizing Middle East. Are they ready for that?

At the beginning of the American Revolution Benjamin Franklin famously warned the rebels that "We must hang together, or we will assuredly hang separately."  The new NIE, downplaying the visible danger, can be taken as a signal from the United States to the rest of the world: Don't just rely on us. What are you going to do? Because the rest of the world has plenty of military and economic power to forestall the danger --- but does it have the will to act in concert?

James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com 
One madman with a gun can hold off a hundred cops. The difference is who is more willing to lose his life. Such is the situation between the Khomeini regime and those it has directly threatened. Beginning with Khomeini's rise to power after 1979, the regime has constantly threatened others, and celebrated its own readiness for martyrdom --- which it amply proved in the war with Saddam Hussein. Today Tehran's mortal enemies' list goes far beyond Israel to include Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Jordan, Lebanon, France, Britain, and the United States.

Yet Max Boot points out in the Wall Street Journal that the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia together have

"... 627 combat-capable aircraft vs. only 286 for Iran, and most of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) aircraft are much more advanced. The GCC is well-supplied with modern American fighter-bombers--F-15s, F-16s, F-18s--and they are buying more top-of-the-line hardware all the time. Iran, by contrast, is still reliant on F-4s and F-5s acquired by the shah three decades ago, supplemented by a few more modern Russian and Chinese fighters."  
Add American combat aircraft available in the region, and the advantage over Tehran is well more than doubled again. Add Israel's air force, and it is tripled. Add the Europeans, who are also threatened, and it would be quadrupled.  In total, there is at least a four-to-one advantage in air power. But just like that one madman holding off a hundred soldiers, the difference is in the willingness to take a risk.

That is presumably why Ayatollah Khamenei selected Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad to become the public face of the regime, after a dubious election. A'jad is just the scariest guy imaginable, who can keep Tehran's enemies paralyzed until it reaches its long-term goal of nukes. (No serious person believes Tehran isn't going for nuclear weapons; not even the drafters of the risible NIE).

Obviously, the massive military advantage for Iran's potential victims disappears with Tehran's first nuclear weapon.  A single nuke would make the Khomeini revolution invulnerable, no matter how much its own people hate it.

As much as the wishful Left tries to evade that simple reality, it will not go away. Even Hillary and Obama know that, and it is near-criminal that the media are not asking them what they intend to do about Ahmadi-Nejad's snakepit. If any of our current candidates reaches the White House, Tehran's nukes will be at the very top of the urgent agenda; by that time it may in fact be too late. But the media seem only interested in what Obama wanted to be in 5th grade, and what Hillary will do with the Bill Problem. All that is childish nonsense. It is not the way adults choose a president in dangerous times.

Is it conceivable that Tehran's neighbors will actually use their military advantage and act jointly to take away its suicide bomb? Boot quotes a senior Arab official as saying that "'If we accept Iran as a nuclear power that is like accepting Hitler in 1933-34,' warned one senior Arab official, using the kind of analogy that back in Washington would get him dismissed as a neocon warmonger."  

Indeed. It is difficult to see the Saudis passively accepting a fanatical Khomeinist enemy armed with nukes just a hundred miles away, without asking Pakistan to quickly send some off-the-shelf bombs, just in case.  All the Arab oil nations can buy nukes without the fuss and bother of indigenous development. But they are all also vulnerable to Islamist coups d'etat. How many grinning maniacs do we want in the Middle East, armed with doomsday weapons? In January, 2009, Hillary or Obama could walk into the White House right in the middle of a fast-nuclearizing Middle East. Are they ready for that?

At the beginning of the American Revolution Benjamin Franklin famously warned the rebels that "We must hang together, or we will assuredly hang separately."  The new NIE, downplaying the visible danger, can be taken as a signal from the United States to the rest of the world: Don't just rely on us. What are you going to do? Because the rest of the world has plenty of military and economic power to forestall the danger --- but does it have the will to act in concert?

James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com