The Nuke Horse is out of the Barn

Obama is on another one of his noisy campaigns to build his ‘legacy’ -- but his legacy is a mountain of phony three-dollar bills. The fact is that the nuclear horse is out of the barn, ready to ride with the other four horses of the Apocalypse. Iran and North Korea have effectively crossed the threshold of weapons of mass destruction. Obama’s boasted “agreement with Iran” is just a way to cover up that fundamental fact, because Obama can’t tolerate being blamed for endangering the world.

From now on, nations trying to cope with Iran’s aggression will have to assume that the enemy has the equivalent of nukes, which means that Iran itself is nearly immune to retaliation. Six years ago there was still a window of opportunity to shut down their nuclear program, the way we did with Saddam’s. Obama must have been told that, since our military successfully suppressed Saddam’s WMD programs with a no-fly zone over Iraq, combined with a trade embargo.  It worked so well that the New York Times and the leftist media could claim that Saddam never had WMDs.

A few weeks ago the NYT confessed that yes, Saddam had uranium yellowcake and poison gas. But by that time George W. Bush’s reputation had been tarred forever with endless, malicious lies. If you don’t think yellowcake can make a WMD, consider a dirty bomb designed to spread radioactive fallout. All it takes is a suicide truck filled with yellowcake and a conventional explosive. You could build one in your backyard.

The fact is that the civilized world has been defeated in a half century of efforts to prevent nuke proliferation.

North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs are disasters for world stability -- two rogue regimes with nukes, or so close that nobody can know the threshold moment. The answer right now is: “Any time they pull the cord. “

Obama is not admitting that nukes are out of the barn to protect his precious front. Democratic presidents since Carter have wanted to look good rather than act to prevent nuclear proliferation. All they wanted was somebody else to blame.

Nuclear weapons and ICBMs allow for perhaps 15 minutes of warning time, which is why the arms race has now shifted to electronic warfare. The public has been told nothing about our capacities in e-war. What we know is that the warning time is now seconds or even milliseconds rather than fifteen minutes. If electromagnetic pulse weapons can act faster than missiles, they will drive the arms race. If electronic viruses or worms can be planted years ahead, even the enemy’s intentions might be predicted. But that is assuming a vast superiority of e-capabilities, and at this time nobody can claim that.

E-war is an open invitation to asymmetrical warfare, so that small groups could gain overwhelming superiority, as some of them have apparently done by hacking sophisticated banks, corporations, and government agencies.

To make things even more unstable, a WMD could beat an e-war power to the punch, just as e-war could beat WMDs and missiles to the punch. Among rational players that could lead to a stable balance of terror, as it did for six decades between the U.S. and the USSR. But in a world where a Jonestown or Scientology cult could run a hacker group, the number of war players can become very large, while their sanity cannot be assured.

Talk about a Brave New World.

Today we are back to the 50s and 60s, when nuclear weapons were new and unpredictable, leading to two reactions: paranoid suspicion, as in the case of Stalin, and utter denial. In the long term, the balance of nuclear terror led to greater stability between the Soviet Union and the United States, once policymakers on both sides realized that there was nothing to gain from war. Nuclear weapons reduced the likelihood of conventional conflict, except in proxy conflicts like Vietnam. The result was six decades of a cold, but very real peace.

Today those realities are shifting, as we see Iran and North Korea, two threshold powers that behave in irrational ways -- perhaps to intimidate, or perhaps because they are truly willing to face nuclear martyrdom. So far they have been winning immense concessions with their blackmail tactics. But now we are faced with the high chance of irrational cults with a lot of web savvy, notably the Five Star cultists in Italy who now control a quarter of the parliament in Rome, exactly Mussolini’s number before he staged a coup. Or maybe the Shi’ite Twelver Cult in Tehran, waiting for their Mahdi to return after Armageddon.

The United States now has an Obama-Jarrett foreign policy, predicated on the unproven guess that Iran’s daily threats are mere bluff. Obama is so mentally rigid that he simply will not consider any other possibility. But others, including the Saudis, the thousand-year enemies of Shi’ite Iran, are preparing for the possibility that Obama is wrong.

The United States must come back to strategic sanity as soon as possible.

On the plus side of the ledger, the plunging price of oil, due to the spread of shale exploitation, will weaken the blackmail power of the Gulf nations, including Iran. There is a quiet emerging alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which may stem the Iranian tide.

But a saner administration must return the United States to its traditional foreign policy, one that has always been sensitive to moral consequences. Obama’s willingness to support jihadist butchers in the Middle East runs against all our moral judgments; it is time to retake the high ground. The United States must stand for civilization against barbarism, and our former allies, Egypt, Israel, and the Saudis, are ready for us to go back to a strategy that worked.