May 11, 2010
The New Middle East PerilBy James Lewis
In an unwanted "first," Israel turns out to be the first country in history to face a massed attack by intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Ballistic missiles are launched upward at an angle, like mortars, and reach high altitude before coming down in a parabolic or orbital trajectory. They therefore pose a different problem for anti-missile defenses, because they come in very fast, accelerated by gravity. IRBMs are harder to maneuver because of their high speed and momentum, but Israel also must plan for highly maneuverable cruise missiles, the modern version of Hitler's World War II V1-type robot planes, filled with high explosive and incendiaries.
Israel's enemies can't compete with its air force, so they have shifted to massed ranks of computer-controlled missiles. Recent news reports indicate that Syria (the recipient of yet another love and peace outreach by Obama) has now sent SCUD-type missiles to Hezb'allah, which currently controls Lebanon. In Gaza, Hamas is rumored to have long-range missiles as well, and a state-of-the-art anti-ship cruise missile was used in the Hezb'allah war of 2008 to blast an Israeli navy frigate. Thus, Israel is surrounded by hostile nations with ballistic and cruise missiles, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. SCUDs carry a half-ton of high explosive. In another year or two, the Iranians will have a nuclear device, and even now they could launch dirty nukes, which use conventional explosives with radioactive metal.
Mahmoud Ahmadijenad is the aggressive chess player behind all these missiles surrounding Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Iranian strategy has been to move its missile assets closer and closer to its enemies, including Israel, the American military in the Gulf and Iraq, and the Sunni Arab Gulf states. By 2015, Iran is predicted to have ICBMs that can reach Europe and the United States in less than a half-hour. On automatic standby, those missiles reduce the warning period to such short durations that no human being can make a rational decision. Automatic missiles require automatic defenses, but that also raises the danger of automatic escalation.
Israel is only the most obvious domino. The Tehran regime has had its eyes on Saudi oil and the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina for thirty years. There is no limit to their ambitions for conquest. That's what they say in so many words.
The Europeans are getting really scared, as they should be. Sunni Arab nations have been anxious about Iranian imperialism for years. The Russians are playing it both ways, but they just put down a massive Islamist revolt in Chechnya with extreme violence, they recently suffered a major terror attack in Moscow, and they have fought Muslim invaders for more than five hundred years. The Russian Orthodox Church (of which Putin is supposed to be member), has been shaped by 1,300 years of struggle with Islam, ever since the Byzantine Empire. Moscow was historically the successor capital to Byzantium after the latter was destroyed by Muslim invaders. Russians have the fear of Muslim jihad in their genes.
Only Obama's America isn't worried. In fact, Obama has mentally flipped the source of danger, as Leftists always do, by blaming the victim. Israel has been told, in effect, that the United States will not help defend it unless it surrenders its defensive buffer area on the West Bank and the Golan Heights. That means that Israel's civilian population will be within reach, not only of IRBMs and cruise missiles, but of more primitive rockets and mortars. Hamas and Hezb'allah, not to mention Iran and Syria, have never left any doubt of their intentions once they have the Israelis at their mercy.
All this puts Israel in its greatest danger in many decades. If Israel conducts a preemptive attack on Iranian nukes, it can do so only in the very short term, a matter of weeks. The IDF does not have the capability for long, sustained air attack. Only the United States has that ability. When Iran inevitably attempts to retaliate against a preemptive attack, only the United States has the anti-missile defenses in the Gulf to stop a massive Iranian missile attack. That is why Ahmadinejad has positioned IRBMs in Syria, Lebanon, and perhaps Gaza -- to penetrate any defenses against its own missile launches.
The United States is the only power capable of defending the crucial oil supply to Europe and other nations, and it is the only power able to defend its allies in the Gulf and Israel. Unfortunately, Obama, the most radical Leftist president ever, is in control of American power.
If Israel doesn't preempt Iranian nukes, it makes itself vulnerable to the true weapon of genocide.
It's damned if you do, damned if you don't.
There are two plausible options for Israel. One is to wait and hope for the best while Iran develops nuclear weapons. Maybe Obama will be out of power in 2012, and a saner president will be in charge. Perhaps NATO can expand to include Israel and other sane nations in the Middle East, like Jordan and Egypt. But NATO crucially depends upon America's word to come to the defense of endangered allies. American guarantees were credible for forty years of the Cold War. They are no longer credible today, given Obama's policy decision never to use nuclear weapons, even in self-defense, against conventional attack. America's credible threat to use nuclear weapons was the only thing that stopped Soviet tank divisions from overrunning Europe. Obama has now officially abolished that defense.
The second option is for Israel to go nuclear as soon as Iran does. That is what happened with India and Pakistan. As soon as the Pakis exploded their first bomb, so did India, but they did not attack each other. That has led to a classic nuclear standoff in Southeast Asia. Nuclear standoff also led to the U.S.-Soviet equilibrium in the Cold War.
Obama will blame everybody but himself, because that's what he does. It won't make any difference. By now everybody sees that as a predictable cost of dealing with Obama. Nations don't surrender to curry temporary favor with an irrational leader, even of the United States.
In the upshot, the most plausible outcome at present is a nuclearization of the Middle East. The Sunni Arabs can't afford to be left behind if Iran gets a bomb. They will import nukes from Pakistan, right off the shelf. The Saudis are said to have helped finance Pakistani nuclear weapons so that they can import them on demand.
Obama's current brilliant brainstorm is to denuclearize the world. It's "trust me," and he really seems to think that totalitarian madcap regimes like North Korea and Iran will go along. That hasn't worked in the last sixty years of the nuclear age, and peace-loving surrender to aggressive nations just looks like surrender, period.
Tehran has a world-conquering ideology, as do the Saudis. They think Allah wants them to control the world. Even Obama may not win against Allah in the eyes of fanatics.
If nuclear standoff is the logical outcome, Israel would be foolish indeed to surrender its buffer territories against conventional aggression. Netanyahu's best strategy might be just to dig in and prepare for every contingency. Obama will threaten and twist arms, the way he does. He will bluff and intimidate, the way he does. Israel must not give in.