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Monday, April 13, 2015

When nukes are inevitable...

Relax and enjoy the decline of total war. Jerry Pournelle discusses the inevitability of Iranian nukes with a reader:
Assuming that we were to bomb Iran, how long could we expect to set back their nuclear program?

Let’s assume, for the moment, a “surgical” strike whose targets are all nuclear facilities. Comments I’ve read from people who ought to know something maintain that we’d probably set back the program two or three years; with the predictable consequence that Iran would immediately begin the best financed and most clandestine program it could to produce nuclear weapons *immediately*.

Here, I think, we run into the North Korea quandary. It is already possible for any tyrant to make the case that, however appalling you are, if you have nuclear weapons the United States will leave you alone; whereas if you do not have nuclear weapons you live on sufferance. That’s awkward. While I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage nuclear proliferation, I’m not sure it’s helpful to persuade tyrants that they *really, really need* nuclear weapons.


Now, of course, the problem could perhaps be “solved” by strikes aimed not at nuclear plants but at destroying Iran as a civilization. At which point we really would have become a Satan. Or, at least, an apocalyptic Babylon.


So my question to Mr. Stephens would be: short of becoming monsters, there is probably no permanent way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. In consequence, do we really want to pursue a strategy whose likely result would be to urge them to get the bomb *really quickly?* Or are delaying tactics more likely to produce useful results?


Buying time is always a useful purchase. And perhaps the horse will learn to sing.
 

Yours,
Allan E. Johnson


Allan Johnson puts the case well and compellingly. Our choices are few, and our technical capabilities are uncertain. Strikes at Iranian nuclear capabilities will be bloody given their locations. Commando style raids would make the destruction more thorough but would be far more costly. The Iranians have been clever in their designs and location. Uncertainties about the success of a surgical denuclearization attack are quite high for the US or any conceivable coalition working with us.

Of course that is doubly, triply, true for Israel; to assure the attack’s success might require nuclear weapons, and I am quite certain that at least some IDF generals have said this to the War Cabinet. First use of nuclear weapons has so many devastating diplomatic and domestic political consequences that I doubt Mr. Netanyahu would seriously consider it.

Buying time may be all that is possible.
And buying time is pointless except for the small minority who benefit from the delay. In some cases, such as the Federal Reserve's decision to delay the inevitable bankruptcies of the indebted, buying time has made the situation observably worse for most.

The real question is if Israel genuinely feels itself threatened by a nuclear Iran or not. Considering that Martin van Creveld has been very clear about the fact that it does not, we can safely discount the likelihood that Israel will do anything, much less nuke Iran. I don't doubt that Israel would do so if they perceived a legitimate  existential threat, but the fact that they have not done so already suffices to indicate that they do not.

After reading several of van Creveld's books from THE TRANSFORMATION OF WAR to A HISTORY OF STRATEGY and TECHNOLOGY AND WAR, it has become very clear that the primary military function of nuclear weapons is to take 20th century total war off the table. This does not mean that war will not take place, but rather, that it will take place on a scale more similar to those wars prior to the mass mobilizations of entire populations and the targeting of enemy civilians.

Remember, war has historically almost NEVER been primarily about killing the enemy, but rather destroying his will to fight by demoralizing him. And that should be of considerably more concern to an utterly, and literally, de-moralized West than one more nation possessing weapons it has no intention of using unless attacked.

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86 Comments:

Blogger Josh April 13, 2015 8:15 AM  

it has become very clear that the primary military function of nuclear weapons is to take 20th century total war off the table.

A nuclear armed global society is a polite global society?

Blogger Salt April 13, 2015 8:39 AM  

How much more polite would one be towards his neighbor when he knows his neighbor is now also equally armed too?

Blogger LP 999/Eliza April 13, 2015 8:42 AM  

I am so tired of the racists against Iran for nothing. Warmongering neocons so full of fear they fear their own shadows

Did anything catch M, the leader, answer the students' question about homosexuality, maybe last week or 2 weeks back? The man is a comedian.

Blogger Josh April 13, 2015 8:42 AM  

How much more polite would one be towards his neighbor when he knows his neighbor is now also equally armed too?

The more guns, less crime crowd should understand that their logic would also mean more nukes, less crime.

However, I would guess that many second amendment supporters in the USA are very opposed to Iran getting a nuke, probably for emotional and rhetorical, not rational and dialectical, reasons.

Anonymous . April 13, 2015 9:02 AM  

You could shut them down for a lot longer than a few years. You'd just have to be willing to destroy the country's electrical power and petroleum production/distribution system. Fortunately or unfortunately, we're not going to do that.

"the predictable consequence that Iran would immediately begin the best financed and most clandestine program it could to produce nuclear weapons *immediately*."

Don't they ALREADY have the best financed and most clandestine program it could have to produce nuclear weapons *immediately*?

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler April 13, 2015 9:06 AM  

Iran enjoys the Xanatos Gambit?

Anonymous kaflick April 13, 2015 9:08 AM  

I am a second amendment supporter and I from the little I have been able to see of the speeches from leaders of Iran (assuming the translations are accurate), I am against them having nuclear weapons. I am inclined to believe them when they call for the death of Israel and America, and state that a nuclear war would bring their version of the second coming, which they seem to desire greatly.

Blogger YIH April 13, 2015 9:13 AM  

IMHO, I think the neoconartists grossly overestimate what the US military is capable of.
Remember in the run-up and early days of the Iraq attaq that it was supposed to be a cakewalk?
How US forces would be welcomed as liberators?
Didn't quite play out that way did it?
Now these same time share condo salesmen are peddling bomb, bomb, bomb Iran as if it could actually work.
Sadly, if either the Lizard Queen or [insert name of GOP neoconartist here] moves into the White House in 2019 the push for action on Iran will begin. Not because it will do any good (HA!) but as a distraction from the ongoing collapse.

Anonymous kaflick April 13, 2015 9:13 AM  

That does not mean that I think we can prevent them from getting nuclear weapons and using them. I just have this preference to not have my family destroyed in a nuclear fireball, being killed by radiation, or dying in the aftermath. I believe that is what they want and I would prefer that it not happen.

Anonymous p-dawg April 13, 2015 9:23 AM  

Iran won't ever have as many nukes as Israel. If they launch one, they're going to eat a hundred. Besides, they're going to aim their nukes at places like D.C., New York, L.A....just stay away from those places. Which is just a good idea, anyway.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus April 13, 2015 9:26 AM  

First use of nuclear weapons has so many devastating diplomatic and domestic political consequences that I doubt Mr. Netanyahu would seriously consider it.

The consequences would be different depending on whether America or Israel nuked Iran.

Blogger Jourdan April 13, 2015 9:29 AM  

Completely agree that war is all about destroying the enemy's will to fight so that he submits to your will and not mere "body counts," "hearts or minds" or other modern DoD babble.

I agree that we should not wage war on Iran until or until we have the will to destroy their will, and mere "surgical strikes" doesn't meet that test.

In fact, I don't think the modern United States would even find itself with the will to engage in a proper war even if nuked directly by some terrorist proxy.

Anonymous zen0 April 13, 2015 9:34 AM  

Yes, never mind Israel. The House of Saud better arm themselves with nukes or they will end up like Skinny Dubois, the saloon owner in Unforgiven.

Blogger YIH April 13, 2015 9:45 AM  

kaflick:
I just have this preference to not have my family destroyed in a nuclear fireball, being killed by radiation, or dying in the aftermath. I believe that is what they want and I would prefer that it not happen.
Haven't we heard this sales pitch before? Yeah, I think we have.
Sorry 'Honest John', that used car is a lemon.

Anonymous jay c April 13, 2015 10:00 AM  

I completely agree. "If Iran gets nukes it's the end of the world or at least of Israel" has always struck me as so much hyperventilating over nothing. Iran seems to be one of the more civilized countries in the region. They make a lot of dire pronouncements, but it seems to me that most of the "death to America/Israel" stuff is more curse than actual threat. Doesn't the Bible say that "A curse undeserved has no effect?" Easy solution then: don't deserve it.

Either Iran will cease to exist as a nation or they'll get nukes. All they really need is enough money. There's nothing anyone can do to stop it. If the current iteration of Israel has any prophetic significance at all, then whatever happens is inevitable anyway.

Anonymous Anonymous April 13, 2015 10:06 AM  

Assume that Iran gets a nuke or two. How will Israel respond? How will it function without Iran as the "Great Satan" to the Jewish people? Will they admit to having nukes and expressly shift to a MAD posture? Will they reduce their conventional force structure and rely on a nuclear shield? Will they eliminate their reliance on a conventional ground defense (and draft?) as other countries eliminated their cavalry upon the advent of tanks and machine guns? Will we see a new Jewish anti-nuke/disarmament movement arise in Israel as it did in the USA during the cold war?

Anonymous Paul April 13, 2015 10:07 AM  

What this world needs are more safe spaces! Japanese making fun of U.S. Universities:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAcDLnQwv1E&feature=player_embedded

Anonymous LES April 13, 2015 10:29 AM  

Justin Raimondo

Genesis 15: 18

Anonymous FrankNorman April 13, 2015 10:32 AM  

Maybe nuclear proliferation is the world's way of asking: "How's that ABM system coming along?"

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis April 13, 2015 10:37 AM  

I agree with that assessment, but I do have one major worry, which is that those same weapons will fall into the hand into a group of individuals that just want to watch the world burn. Though whether or not another nation develops nuclear weapons doesn't really matter that since pandoras box has been opened.

Blogger JaimeInTexas April 13, 2015 10:40 AM  

Also, an attack against Iran will also cause Iran to leave the NNPT. I think Iran already is justified in leaving the NNPT. BTW.

Anonymous LES April 13, 2015 10:51 AM  

From Justin Raimondo's column:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.”

The problem for the Israelis isn’t that the Iranians can’t be trusted to keep the agreement. Quite the opposite:

“According to the two senior officials, Netanyahu said during the meeting that he feared that the ‘Iranians will keep to every letter in the agreement if indeed one is signed at the end of June.’

“One official said: ‘Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement.'”

Anonymous anonymous coward April 13, 2015 11:22 AM  

a nuclear war would bring their version of the second coming
O really? Trick question: 'the second coming' of who? Or what? (Shakes head.)

they're going to aim their nukes at places like D.C., New York, L.A.
How are they going to deliver a nuke to D.C.? It takes more than nukes for parity, it also takes highly complex and intricate ICBM's, a much less accessible technology than a mere nuclear bomb.

Blogger badwhite April 13, 2015 11:33 AM  

"Either Iran will cease to exist as a nation or they'll get nukes. All they really need is enough money. There's nothing anyone can do to stop it."

Not technically true. Americans simply don't want to do what it would take to keep Iran from getting a nuke. Honestly, were it not for the media and hysterical politicians constantly bleating about Iran wanting to "wipe Israel off the map" no American would give even a quantum of a damn about Iran's nuclear ambitions. We have thousands, Israel has hundreds. Iran will have how many? One? A dozen? Either way it's a pittance compared to what we faced in the Cold War.

Keeping nukes out of this country's major cities should be a national security priority. Iran is not the threat there.

Blogger badwhite April 13, 2015 11:38 AM  

"“One official said: ‘Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement.'”"

I have simply for the Israelis. They're a small nation surrounded by a bunch of angry, hostile nations. Their national security is their own business, however. If other nations would stay out of it, say, if Russia and China refused to back Iran if Israel attacked them, and America refused to back Israel, then this issue would be even less of a problem for both sides. Since that's not going to happen, we have outbursts from Netanyahu about Iran actually following the rules. If Pakistan hasn't nuked Israel yet, despite being an unstable nation with dozens of nukes, then Iran won't either. Iran is significantly less insane than Pakistan. Nuclear powers don't go to war. Being Muslim changes nothing. Though if I had to guess, I'd say Pakistan and India would give it a go first before anyone.

Anonymous Starbuck April 13, 2015 11:43 AM  

Coward

O really? Trick question: 'the second coming' of who? Or what? (Shakes head.)
He is refering to the Shiite belief in the Mahdi - he disappeared.

How are they going to deliver a nuke to D.C.? It takes more than nukes for parity, it also takes highly complex and intricate ICBM's, a much less accessible technology than a mere nuclear bomb.

Iran has subs. They have tested many missiles. I am not sure if they have developed ICBM's or not. For some reason I was thinking they had... But truly, I don't know. But I am guessing they are working it.

So your safe feeling of assessing Iran to be of inferior tech, well, even if they don't have that capability, Russia does. And Russia isn't real happy with the USA right now..

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber April 13, 2015 11:44 AM  

Once upon a time, we had a system of government that could be trusted to look out for its own interests. The failure of this administration is due to a Moslem appeaser as a president. We can't depend on him to protect us.

Israel is on its own. That's clear. Do I trust the Jews? Not at all. They have way too much influence in our system of government. If you wish to call me anti-semitic, okay. Plain facts plainly spoken.

Insofar as to weapon delivery, a pickup truck will work just fine. WHAT? Didn't you realize that's the consequences of an open border? And if a nuclear weapon is used here, Obama won't retaliate.

Anonymous map April 13, 2015 11:49 AM  

It does not matter how many more nuclear weapons the US or Israel have over Iran. It is not worth losing a single Western city, even if it is liberal. That is the problem.

As far as delivering nuclear weapons, you don;t need missiles. You need cargo containers.

Blogger Student in Blue April 13, 2015 11:53 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous The Obvious April 13, 2015 11:54 AM  

Hasn't Isreal got about 200 + undeclared nukes, and now they're voiding their bowels that an Arab country might get one?

Is this another epsiode of the Jewey Jews doing the "Let's you and him fight" again?

Anonymous paradox April 13, 2015 11:57 AM  

So are you saying, the more guns crowd, is wrong about firearms causing less crime, more guns do cause crime?

Or that they're wrong by not applying the mantra to nukes, because nuclear proliferation would cause less wars?

Anonymous Anonymous April 13, 2015 11:58 AM  

Why is it that people dismiss what is obviously the ultimate goal of the Islamic Republic? The Ayatollah declares the annihilation of Israel and the West ignores him. Then one day soon after they acquire nuclear weapons they use them to achieve their goal. Whoops, I guess we were wrong. Idiots.

Blogger tweell April 13, 2015 12:02 PM  

First, having nuclear weaponry keeps the big boys from messing with you. Would Libya be the lawless mess it is if Khadafy had nukes? Would Ukraine be slowly eaten by Russia if they had kept their nukes?

Second, basic nukes are WWII technology. Nuclear tipped artillery is 1950's technology. It's not that complex, and Iran has Dr. Khan's blueprints. In a best case scenario (for them), Iran should already have enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

Why haven't they? Well, it seems that Pakistan sold Iran (and Libya) their worn-out equipment at exorbitant prices. The centrifuges recovered from Libya were the first-gen 1980's model, and were no longer usable. It's probably why Khadafy turned everything over - he wasn't going to be able to make a bomb any time soon. Iran had to make their own hardware, plus they were out a lot of money. That slowed them down.

Given all that, if Iran has set up their nuclear program semi-intelligently, it will be almost impossible to stop. They have the information necessary and are experienced in building the enrichment hardware. Iran will become a nuclear-armed nation, unless the US or Israel obliterates them, and I don't see that happening.

Anonymous clk April 13, 2015 12:02 PM  

"I don't doubt that Israel would do so if they perceived a legitimate existential threat, but the fact that they have not done so already suffices to indicate that they do not..."

The second part of this might not be true .. maybe Israel hasn't done anything yet because they hope that the work will be done by someone else ...The 36 stratagies ... "kill with a borrowed sword" might apply here.

"Iran enjoys the Xanatos Gambit"

I believe the concept existed well before the cartoon .. can we please come up with a alternative name for this stratagy that doesn't make us look anymore nerdish than we already are...

Anonymous kaflick April 13, 2015 12:05 PM  

>>O really? Trick question: 'the second coming' of who? Or what? (Shakes head.)
>He is refering to the Shiite belief in the Mahdi - he disappeared.

Correct, but I had forgotten the name. As far as I can tell, his return will bring paradise (or at least world domination) for the believers.

>>How are they going to deliver a nuke to D.C.? It takes more than nukes for parity, it also >>takes highly complex and intricate ICBM's, a much less accessible technology than a >>mere nuclear bomb.

>Iran has subs. They have tested many missiles. I am not sure if they have developed >ICBM's or not. For some reason I was thinking they had... But truly, I don't know. But I am >guessing they are working it.

It could be a sub but I would expect a cargo ship with a short range missile, an aircraft (airliner, freight hauler or business jet type) used in a suicide attack or the weapon smuggled in

Anonymous Samuel Scott April 13, 2015 12:08 PM  

Just a couple of notes:

1. Iran might not get The Bomb because some combination of the US / Europe / Israel keeps sabotaging it and/or assassinating the scientists there from time to time.

2. Still, any country that wants The Bomb will get it one way or another. I think it's best to foster internal regime change -- get the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs themselves.

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber April 13, 2015 12:09 PM  

The most likely scenario in my mind is to smuggle the various parts of a shotgun type weapon into the US. Assemble it here. Not a problem handling the material. They assemble it, and then are disposed of. Thus, they're assured of their reward. The actual construction of a shotgun device isn't truly as difficult as is believed. All that's really necessary are the people willing to contaminate themselves.

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 13, 2015 12:22 PM  

In the last post on Dr. Creveld, which was not convincing, I asked twice 'why WW3?' If we send in troops smash the place, and leave, or if the Israelis drop a bunch of FAE bombs.....so?

Is China going to send a million men on an even longer march over the Pole? Is Putin going to refurbish one of his rusting ICBM's and nuke DC? Are the Indians, our allies, going to do anything but give us a quiet, on the side, fist bump?

Yes, the UN will try to denounce us. Sob, how can I withstand the denunciations of dictators and kleptocrats and Presidents for Eternity until they are caught sleeping with their Defense Minister's wife? The sheer horror of knowing that cheese-eating surrender monkey hypocrites, and giant puppets and David Letterman hate me has me unhinged with terror.

The biggest problem to this relatively simple thing is Pr. Obama.

How do we get from say cratering a major portion of Tehran to WW3?

Anonymous Mike M. April 13, 2015 12:41 PM  

I think future historians may come to regard the World Wars as an aberration. The Thirty Years War was fought with great ferocity...and led directly to the establishment of Laws of War when the combatants looked in horror on what they had wrought. And those Laws of War held for nearly three centuries.

The World Wars were fought at the savagery of the Thirty Years War...and I suspect the results will be similar. A return to constrained warfare, intended to moderate the risks to noncombatants.

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber April 13, 2015 12:50 PM  

This is a contest of will. As some may de aware, willpower requires character. Good or evil. The Iranians have character. Does anyone believe that Obama has character? I didn't think so. So, the only way to stop the Iranians is to kill them. Otherwise, they are going to proceed as they have planned.

I used to play chess with an Iranian student in the late 70's in Lubbock, Texas. The Shah of Iran's son was attending fighter school at Reese AFB. He was a supporter of Ayotollah Khomeini. He basically laid out what was going to happen in Iran. And, yes, he would slaughter me in chess. Persians aren't Arabs.

Anonymous LES April 13, 2015 12:58 PM  

What we need is a regime change in Israel with civil rights for all and reparations to the Palestinians.

Blogger Josh April 13, 2015 1:33 PM  

So are you saying, the more guns crowd, is wrong about firearms causing less crime, more guns do cause crime?

Or that they're wrong by not applying the mantra to nukes, because nuclear proliferation would cause less wars?


The latter

Anonymous Orville April 13, 2015 1:33 PM  

Some of you are wetting your panties over Iran getting the bomb, but ignore the bigger issue of the proxy war between the US and Russia/China. They (Russia) don't have rusting old ICBMs. They have been upgrading their re-entry vehicles with very difficult to intercept waheads, including dummies. Our ABM systems are shit. Russia's ABM systems are better. MAD is no longer a functional doctrine between Russia and the US. I'm of the opinion that there will always be a few players who will shoot first and ask questions later when they perceive an existential threat. Same for nuke shooters. The neocons are playing nuclear chicken with Russia and China.

Blogger IM2L844 April 13, 2015 1:57 PM  

There is no reason we (America) needs to bomb Iran. We just need to abstain from obstructing anyone else from bombing Iran and then condemning them for doing it.

As for how long it would set Iran back, I suppose that would depend on how often they get bombed. There's no reason to think of it in terms of one-and-done.

Iran has successfully placed 4 satellites into orbit. I doubt they would have too much trouble figuring out the ballistics required to land one on Israel.

Blogger Chris Mallory April 13, 2015 1:57 PM  

"The Ayatollah declares the annihilation of Israel and the West ignores him. "

The defense of Israel is no business or responsibility of the US government or the American tax payer.

Blogger Student in Blue April 13, 2015 2:11 PM  

Once upon a time, we had a system of government that could be trusted to look out for its own interests.

I'm not sure if even that's applicable in the past 80-something years.

(reposted, fixed a word)

Anonymous Alexander April 13, 2015 2:19 PM  

The defense of Israel is no business or responsibility of the US government or the American tax payer.

This. It's funny how people that demand to be rid of the Anglo-Saxon, demand the return of the Anglo-Saxon.

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 2:23 PM  

If we send in troops smash the place, and leave, or if the Israelis drop a bunch of FAE bombs.....so?

Why did you give the USA the shitty option of sending in troops, but not the Israelis? There is a world of difference between dropping bombs and occupying indian country.

OpenID reactionarythought April 13, 2015 2:29 PM  

So what if Iran has a nuclear weapon. It won't use it because it can't. The neighborhood's too small. Nuke an enemy over there and you poison a friend or yourself.

Blogger luagha April 13, 2015 2:44 PM  

There's some worry about Israel's 'Sampson Option' or 'Masada Option.' Israel maintains a second-strike nuclear capability with their purchased Dolphin subs. Last time I read about it there were 6 subs, 4 out and 2 in dock, and each sub was presumed to have about 6 nuclear missiles, and they were in the middle of purchasing the new subs so assume that's out of date.

There was a lame-ass psychological drama movie about what happens when Israel gets nuked, goes out of radio contact, and the sub pops to the surface for its check-in. Receiving no contact, the captain goes to the safe and gets out the paper envelope with his pre-stated and regularly updated targets. Does he shoot or doesn't he, and what precautions does he take, and so on. The review was bad because it was a propaganda piece, but it is well known that the subs have just such an envelope.

Blogger Danby April 13, 2015 2:44 PM  

@Eric Ashley
Let me guess.... Jew?

I know literally hundreds of Persians. I used to room with one. I've worked with dozens, although they seem much less inclined than other ethnicities to go to other countries for work and stay there. Most Persians who do come to the US go back to Iran after a few years of studying or working.

1) as stated above, Persians are not Arabs. There is almost no cultural commonality between them. Persians are the original Aryans (Iran and Aryan are different dialects for the same word.)

2) Persians are smart, disciplined, and have a low time preference. Think of them as the Germans of Central Asia.

Anonymous Alexander April 13, 2015 3:20 PM  

The Sampson option is perfectly fine, if Israel's goal is to take out a couple of European capitals in exchange for the world unifying to wipe every Jew off the face of the earth within 72 hours of executing it.

Blogger luagha April 13, 2015 3:36 PM  

My envelopes are a little more focused on Mecca and Medina.

Anonymous Samuel Scott April 13, 2015 3:48 PM  

Oh, bloody hell. Enough with the "Samson Option." Does anyone have any reputable, credible evidence that Israel has this on the table?

Anonymous BigGaySteve April 13, 2015 4:10 PM  

"How are they going to deliver a nuke to D.C.?" A yacht sailed up the Potomac with moslems willing to die on it.

"So are you saying, the more guns crowd, is wrong about firearms causing less crime, more guns do cause crime?" No one is saying give a known cop killer a gun to make it safer. The more guns less crime fallacy comes from Asians & whites being legally armed. You could drop off piles of guns, for anyone to pick up, in the town square of many places that (Asian+ White) > 95% with out raising crime.

"Still, any country that wants The Bomb will get it one way or another"~ They can get it but can they maintain it?

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 4:11 PM  

Oh, bloody hell. Enough with the "Samson Option." Does anyone have any reputable, credible evidence that Israel has this on the table?

Martin Van Creveld.

Anonymous Samuel Scott April 13, 2015 4:22 PM  

That Wikipedia page and all of its sources do not ever provide proof that it's an actual Israeli policy under consideration for use at some desperate point. It's all conjecture and hypothetical. Almost all of the statements beg the question (under what the phrase actually means).

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 4:27 PM  

That Wikipedia page and all of its sources do not ever provide proof that it's an actual Israeli policy

I doubt the Israeli government would actually admit to the Samson policy in public when they won't even admit to having nuclear weapons. So long as other governments know in quiet that Israel has this capability, like they do with Israel's nuclear weapons, there really is no need to advertise it to the citizens of the world. It would probably hurt Israel's standing in the West if the citizens knew that the Israel was targeting them for nuclear annihilation.

Anonymous Abie Gefiltefish April 13, 2015 4:28 PM  

There's some worry about Israel's 'Sampson Option' or 'Masada Option.'

Goodness! I hope they don't exercise the Masada Option. As I understand it was mass-murder, each jew killing another, until the Jewish Jew-killers killed each other until (finally) there was only one Jew left (who presumably killed himself).

They had to do this Jonestown mass-murder thing since suicide is a big no-no under Jewish law.

How awful to have to slaughter your own Jewish family--wife and kids-- and then be slaughtered in turn by some other Jew.

Anonymous Alexander April 13, 2015 4:36 PM  

Oh, surprise, Samuel Scott.

I would be shocked if they didn't have the option. I would also be shocked if during the Cold War, we didn't have plans to nuke some of our allies or neutrals, to ensure that if we were crippled, we weren't suddenly going to be invaded by survivors who had been our nominal friends, pre-apocalypse.

Somewhere in the Pentagon exist plans to attack every nation-state and group of interest on the planet. Somewhere in the Pentagon is a plan to wipe Islam off the face of the earth.

So don't go playing shit about how the Samson plan is this absurd thing that Israel's defense planners would never, ever do. They wouldn't be doing their jobs if they didn't.

That doesn't mean that non-Israeli's have to like it, or there wouldn't be consequences to the Jewish diaspora if they followed through with it.

Blogger Robert What? April 13, 2015 4:40 PM  

The American Neocons are trying their damnest to try to convince the American public that we need to go to war against Iran. So far, they've been unsuccessful, thankfully. If I lived in Iran I'd be much more worried about an unprovoked attack by the US, than the other way around. It is simply not credible to maintain that Iran might launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on the US.

Anonymous Samuel Scott April 13, 2015 4:43 PM  

My point is that commentators here and elsewhere believe that the "Samson Option" is something that is realistically conceivable. It's not -- even if it actually exists.

Sure, that plan may exist on a shelf somewhere. But it's about as likely as the US invading Albania tomorrow. (And I'm sure there's a dusty plan for that on a shelf somewhere.) The theoretical idea gets a lot more attention than it deserves. Those who believe anything more likely are biased because of their own subconscious prejudices.

There are myriad other things -- more realistic things -- that deserve a lot more discussion. Be reasonable, people.

Anonymous LES April 13, 2015 4:44 PM  

The Zionist regime in Israel shall someday cease to exist.

Because it is immoral.

Anonymous Alexander April 13, 2015 4:46 PM  

Albania is an Islamic country that may or may not have a nuclear program!

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 4:47 PM  

I would also be shocked if during the Cold War, we didn't have plans to nuke some of our allies or neutrals, to ensure that if we were crippled, we weren't suddenly going to be invaded by survivors who had been our nominal friends, pre-apocalypse.

I doubt the USA would have targeted neutral nations for a direct nuclear strike. The fear the world had about a war between the USA and USSR was that both sides would launch thousands of warheads at each other and the fallout would then contaminate the entire planet. So neutral nations were rightly worried because a US/USSR exchange would probably kill off the world's population, despite them not even being the targets.

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 4:53 PM  

Sure, that plan may exist on a shelf somewhere. But it's about as likely as the US invading Albania tomorrow.

I understand nations have to have contingency plans. I think the US has plans for invading Canada. But what irks me about the Samson option, if Van Creveld and others have reported it correctly, is that Israel would deliberately nuke nations that did not attack her. It would be directed at nations whose only crime was not fighting on Israel's behalf.

Even if Israel just concentrated her nuclear attacks on Iran, or whoever attacked her, innocent bystanders would still be affected by the fallout. But to directly target innocent bystanders is another thing.

Anonymous Alexander April 13, 2015 4:53 PM  

11B,

I am willing to retract as it's just a mind game, but if the USA, USSR had got into it, and those two countries were crippled, along with Europe...

... then I don't see a scenario where one or both sides don't also target China, on the premise that in the event that either power could form a rump state out of the ashes, they wouldn't want an intact China becoming overlord via default. Better to make sure either everyone really is dead, or that we're all restarting from the same point.

And if you're willing to unleash enough nukes that wiping out the planet via radiation poisoning is a real concern, then I don't see what the moral issue is with making sure a few of those nukes actually come down on the heads of the people you were otherwise only going to kill in passing.

Anonymous Samuel Scott April 13, 2015 4:57 PM  

But what irks me about the Samson option, if Van Creveld and others have reported it correctly,

Even if it's a contingency plan, it would never, ever, ever happen. Ever. Ever. It's as likely as the US invading Canada tomorrow.

Just please, everyone, stop talking about it. You're wasting time when other issues are far more pressing and important, regardless of what one believes about anything and on which side of any particular issue one stands. The whole idea is preposterous.

Anonymous Curtis April 13, 2015 4:59 PM  

You guys are too funny. The Persian Gulf is a frikkin playground of a target rich environment kind. Pooty-Poot says ef the embargo, I'm sending Iran missiles. What are you going to do? Dresden bomb Iran from border to border? And seriously, Israel putting boots in Iran? They'll get their asses handed to them. I can just imagine Israel doing a D-Day type invasion in the Persian Gulf and Paratrooping in. In fact, America would get its ass handed to them. You're not going to pull an Iraq I or II or III on Iran. We're talking full-scale WWII type invasion and destruction. AND THEN Iran will use its nukes, maybe.

OMG! They're crazy! And they got nukes!

Crazy like a fox.

Some of think "Muslim" explains everything.

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 5:08 PM  

And seriously, Israel putting boots in Iran? They'll get their asses handed to them. I can just imagine Israel doing a D-Day type invasion in the Persian Gulf and Paratrooping in.

I doubt that scenario has even entered the minds of those wanting to attack Iran. The US would be stuck with that chore.

Anonymous 11B April 13, 2015 5:13 PM  

And if you're willing to unleash enough nukes that wiping out the planet via radiation poisoning is a real concern, then I don't see what the moral issue is with making sure a few of those nukes actually come down on the heads of the people you were otherwise only going to kill in passing.

That might be considered a mercy kill. Better to die immediately than to die of radiation sickness. But in the Israeli case I am not sure they have enough nuclear weapons to contaminate the entire planet. So if they did target Rome, that would be different.

BTW, does anyone know how many nuclear detonations in megatons would be necessary to render the entire world uninhabitable?

Blogger SirHamster April 13, 2015 5:22 PM  

@Paul:

What this world needs are more safe spaces! Japanese making fun of U.S. Universities:

Channel name is "Taiwanese Animators".

Blogger luagha April 13, 2015 5:28 PM  

If you don't like calling it the Sampson Option, just call it 'second strike capability.' Israel has it and maintains it with their nuke subs. It's extremely difficult if not impossible to stop. (If we refer to The Hunt For Red October, we need a highly trained black man with headphones at the tip of the most highly sophisticated nuke-hunter sub we have).

The main question is what targets are at the bottom of the flowchart in the envelope in the safe.

Anonymous BigGaySteve April 13, 2015 5:41 PM  

"Albania is an Islamic country that may or may not have a nuclear program!"

Albania was a Christian European country invaded by moslem illegal aliens that Bill Clinton attacked indigenous European hospitals and news agencies to create a Moslem Narco state.

"If you don't like calling it the Sampson Option, just call it 'second strike capability."

How about "you thought you would could avoid the nation destroyers weaponized debt and open borders with a push of a button" revenge policy. Gay jews may fear Bibi more than savage moslems but they have elaborate revenge fantasies.

Anonymous Mike M. April 13, 2015 6:05 PM  

I think the classic Sampson Option came off the table in 1979. Nuking every Arab capital was viable before then, but these days is a non-starter. Not all Arabs are enemies.

A more likely scenario would be an Israeli airstrike, either with Saudi cooperation or Saudi participation. Or possibly a Saudi airstrike with Israeli support.

Anonymous nil April 13, 2015 7:05 PM  

http://rense.com/general34/dutchisraelimilitary.htm

Here's the full text of the interview where van Creveld made that statement. From the context, he's obviously not saying "we'll nuke Europe out of spite if we're ever destroyed". He's saying "If we have to expel the Arabs, Europe had better stay out of it"

Anonymous DT April 13, 2015 7:15 PM  

Strikes at Iranian nuclear capabilities will be bloody given their locations.

Bloody for them or bloody for us? I have little doubt that a pair of B-2's or a squad of F-22's could devastate their facilities with zero losses on our side. I don't know what might follow, but this type of mission is exactly where the U.S. high tech military excels. Iranian air defenses haven't a prayer of intercepting our best.

I'm not arguing we should, nor am I arguing that there wouldn't be consequences or potential losses after the strike. But the strike itself would be cake.

I'm torn on what should be done. I disagree with Vox and believe a nuclear Iran is a risk. But given the failures of our military adventures and destabilization of the region, I'm not sure we have a good option for stopping them.

If they get a bomb...and they will...then Israel needs to take their gloves off and announce that they have a thermonuclear arsenal with a 2nd strike capability. And that they will happily annihilate anyone who detonates a nuke on their territory.

By the same token we should announce a formal policy of total annihilation of any state actor who detonates, or assists a terrorist group in detonating, a nuclear weapon on our soil. If they want to be part of the nuclear club then we need to make sure they understand the rules that have been in place since the first Soviet nuke was tested.

Orville April 13, 2015 1:33 PM - They (Russia) don't have rusting old ICBMs. They have been upgrading their re-entry vehicles with very difficult to intercept waheads, including dummies. Our ABM systems are shit. Russia's ABM systems are better.

Wishful thinking. Our ABM system isn't going to stop Russia simply because they have far more warheads then we have interceptors. But Russian claims of weapons superiority are...well...let's just say "exaggerated." Always have been.

MAD is no longer a functional doctrine between Russia and the US.

We also have far more warheads then they have interceptors. Not to mention 20 bombers that can penetrate Russian air space at will, and another 62 that can penetrate large portions at will. To say nothing of the stealth, B61 carrying F-35 fighters we are building.

No, MAD is quite functional because despite nuclear force reductions both the U.S. and Russia can still wipe each other off the map.

Anonymous LES April 13, 2015 8:18 PM  

It’s not about da bomb

Blogger dfordoom April 13, 2015 8:26 PM  

Samuel Scott said:

I think it's best to foster internal regime change -- get the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs themselves.

Isn't that exactly the kind of US behaviour that makes countries like Iran feel that they need nukes?

Blogger automatthew April 13, 2015 8:29 PM  

I still think Jeff Sutton knew something we don't.

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 14, 2015 12:14 AM  

11B, Danby, answer my question first.

The threat of WW3 is overblown rhetoric. Took me a while to realize this. I thought it was a serious arguement.


Blogger James Jones April 14, 2015 12:18 AM  

It is utterly naive to say Iran will not use nuclear weapons on Israel.

Anonymous Stilicho April 14, 2015 12:37 AM  

Iran wants nukes for obvious reasons and the mullahs are generally smarter than their Paki neighbors. Of course, this will set of a new arms race. Obama and company know that but they view nuclear proliferation as a step on the way to one world gov't. Notice how there was zero discussion of providing Iran with molten salt style reactors that don't produce weapons grade byproducts or require weapons grade fuel. Iran isn't even pretending that it just wants electricity any more.

Saudis better get theirs while they can. Of course, that will just encourage their wahabis to take over with alqaeda help.

Japs better take that last step into the nuclear club too. Or learn Chinese.

Anonymous Alexander April 14, 2015 1:28 AM  

We'll disagree. I'd say it's utterly naive to think that Iran wants to be extinct.

Or specifically, that Shia Iran would destroy Israel, resulting in its own immediate destruction, so that the Sunni and the Wahabi can have the M.E. all to themselves.

There are at several intimidate absurdities in that scenario.

Anonymous Discard April 14, 2015 1:41 AM  

The Samson Option is about as absurd as the idea that Jews in America have power far beyond what their numbers would suggest, and that they have used that power to their benefit and to the nation's detriment.
Jews have consistently championed policies that have weakened and defiled our country and culture. And I am to believe that they wouldn't nuke us because it's wrong?

Blogger Joshua Sinistar April 14, 2015 8:31 PM  

All of you are making a serious category error. All you material girls living in the material world of crass consumerism have forgotten the wisdom and culture of your ancestors from the Middle Ages before the so-called enlightenment. Your ancestors in the Middle Ages would understand the Ayatollah and the mullahs in a way that the crass consumerist world of soulless science and materialistic greed that is called Capitalism has blinded you to the culture that Iran has today.
All of you watch the idiot box called the Boob Tube to see grown men play with their balls on television and then a beautiful girl caresses a plastic tinkertoy like icrap from Apple and tells you that if you plug it into an electrical outlet it will fill your empty nest and empty husks that wander like zombies in the gilded cage of the Rat Race. The world of the Ayatollahs and the mullahs is exactly the same as that of your ancestors in the Middle ages who every Sunday would escape the sorrow and pain of their dreary lives of backbreaking work and annual plagues to go to Church and lift their voices to Heaven and sing the praises of God while listening to the psalms of the priests.
Mutually Assured Destruction may have stopped the crass materialists of the atheistic Soviet Empire from raining death upon your cities, but to the ayatollah and mullahs of Iran this world is merely a play and prelude to the Real Life in Paradise with their prophet Mohammed, where they sit next to his Right Hand and feast at God's table with comely virgins to ease any sorrows they may have suffered. To them Nuclear Annihilation is not a tragedy at all, but merely a beck and call for their Islamic Messiah called the Twelfth Imam to descend to Earth like an erstwhile Angel of Death to set fire to anything that doesn't fit their narrow worldview.
If any of you believe that these weapon of nuclear death are merely an insurance policy against the business end of a rope that hanged their enemy Saddam Hussein, you are deluding yourselves. These Iranians care not a whit about this world and eagerly await the final curtain where they may leave this veil of tears and join their Prophet in Paradise.

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