The Iranian Agreement and the Strategy of Deterrence

Iran is going to have nuclear weapons. Unless we are willing to launch a strategic bombing campaign against Iran, we cannot completely stop them. And this administration is not going to do that. We know it; the Iranians know it.

Iran wants nuclear weapons for one purpose, and it is not to launch a first strike against Israel. The mullahs are neither stupid nor do they believe in the imminent eschatology they preach. People who believe in the end of times do not open foreign bank accounts and send their children to live opulent lives abroad.

Iran wants nuclear weapons to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrence -- to being overrun by stronger and larger conventional forces. Iran wants to destroy Israel!

But Iran is not going to launch nuclear weapons against Israel. Iran is going to overrun Israel with massive conventional forces. It will weaken Israel by using its proxies in Lebanon and in a restabilized Syria. With America no longer providing assistance to the rebels and Russia and Iran providing increased assistance to the government, President Assad's victory is only a matter of time. Non-Western societies do not need to find immediate solutions to their political problems. Their cultural orientation teaches the value of being patient.

Those who perceive a future attack by Iran as impossible should consider that Iran, even in the face of sanctions, has dramatically increased its military budget in 2012 by 127%, causing expenditures to outrun Israel's. Iran's regular army numbers 425,000 with another 120,000 soldiers in the Revolutionary Guard. Israel's army is heavily based on its reserve capacity and possesses 176,000 active troops and 445,000 reservists.

The Revolutionary Guard controls the Basij, an organization of an additional 90,000 active troops and 300,000 reservists. Iran could ultimately mobilize another 11,000,000 men within the Basij structure.

Obviously, the number of troops itself does not determine the outcome of any war or Russia would have defeated Germany in the opening months of the Great War, and in terms of firepower delivery Israel outranks Iran, especially in the realm of airpower. But in terms of other military equipment, Iran far outranks Israel. The overall differences are not as great as proponents of Israel's military invincibility would like to think. Israel ranks 13th in the world in terms of overall firepower, while Iran ranks 16th. The differences are not substantial.

Defeating Israel, however, is a textbook exercise in military strategy because Israel is strategically vulnerable both in the north and at its narrow center. You overwhelm Israel by attacking first, breaking it up geographically, preventing its reserves from being fully mobilized, and crippling its air force. It takes inordinate planning, the willingness to accept incredible casualties, and the ability to acquire large numbers of soldiers and modern weapons. The Iranians do have the resources to accomplish that.

Israel's strategic vulnerability pushed its quest for a nuclear arsenal. Over the years, Israel has also developed a formidable second-strike capability, meaning that it could absorb a first strike and still launch a nuclear attack. The final option of Israeli military strategy is the Samson option, which is to be implemented if certain red lines are crossed by an invading army. Israel would then launch a devastating nuclear strike on the invading country. Whether the option literally means Israel would countenance its own destruction is a matter of speculation.

Iran perceives, correctly or incorrectly, that Israel will not be able to use its nuclear option because Iran will be able to neutralize that option. Israel would have been better off if the Obama administration had done nothing. All the agreement does is give legitimacy to Iran's nuclear enrichment, which will lead to a breakout to weapons capacity, and put another obstacle in the way of Israel taking action.

As Iran now appears on a trajectory to become a stronger power, increased pressure is being put on Israel to roll back its boundaries to the 1948 cease-fire lines, what Abba Eban appropriately called the "Auschwitz boundaries" because they are strategically indefensible. Israel is a country without strategic depth. It was strategic depth that enabled Russia to defeat both Napoleon and the Nazis. It was South Korean strategic depth that enabled the United Nations to rebuild its military force in the Pusan perimeter. A country that weakens its strategic depth invites its own destruction.

Obama has strengthened Israel's strongest enemy while attempting to weaken Israel. This has been part and parcel of the Obama administration's policy since the first term, when in 2009, it departed from established U.S. policy that affirmed Israel's nuclear ambiguity and exempted it from concerns of non-proliferation. For the first time, an American administration publicly named Israel as one of four nuclear powers that had not signed on to the non-proliferation treaty.

Iran will not attack Israel next month or even next year. Iran will bring Assad back to power, extend its reach through the creation of a Shiite Crescent to the Mediterranean, and build up its conventional military with Russian assistance. It will eventually build sufficient atomic weapons to neutralize Israel's nuclear arsenal. When Iran attacks Israel, there will be no calls for a ceasefire in the United Nations, not unless Israel is complete destroyed.

The foundations for Israel's destruction have been laid by the Obama administration. All that remains is the completion of Iran's nuclear program. For those who have long touted Israel's invincibility and its need to take risks for peace because of its nuclear arsenal, that invincibility will no longer exist. Israel will either bomb Iran now or await its own destruction later.