Chaos Manor View Friday, April 10, 2015
If you would have peace, be prepared for war.
Niven and Barnes were over yesterday for a long story conference, then we had lunch, I took a log walk and did exercises, and that pretty well used up all my energy.
1600: the traditional Time Warner Internet slowdown at 1600 has started. I’m sure it has something to do with net neutrality. Actually I am not sure, but I can’t help suspecting it.
As expected, Iran is wiggling on the “deal” that Secretary Kerry and President have so painfully “negotiated” with Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear capability. As we said, we are now on a road to Iranian nuclear capability. By the time a new President takes office, it will be inevitable. We, and more significantly the Israelis, must learn how to live with it.
Iran openly labels the United States as the Great Satan which must be destroyed – “Death to America” is routinely chanted at official rallies. This we are told is mere rhetoric and may safely be ignored. If they kill any of us with nukes, we will kill all of them back and so lay waste to Iran that the land will be uninhabitable – and that, Iran is told, is not mere rhetoric.
Israel’s Prime Minister denounced the deal President Obama favors even before the Iranian Supreme Leader did. “Such a deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” he says, and it might “spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East.” The Ayatollah’s rejection makes an Iranian nuke more certain. Even before the collapse of President Obama’s deal Netanyahu said after the session that “Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.” Netanyahu say that he considers an Iranian nuke an existential threat.
What Israel will do now is unclear. Whatever they do it must be soon, or there will be no point in it. Of course that remains true for the U.S.
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
The comments you quoted from Mr. Stephens were quite interesting. However, I didn’t see that he addressed one point which I consider critical. That is, 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.
Allan E. Johnson
Obama’s deal on nuclear weapons obviously paves Iran’s path to nuclear weapons rather than blocks it, but it might delay the journey. Obama might be wagering that by the time that Iran becomes a legitimized nuclear state that has the infrastructure to mass produce nuclear weapons, the demographic changes resulting from Iran’s plunging birth rates will cause political reform.
The fact that Iran will almost inevitably get nuclear weapons and North Korea already has nuclear weapons should inspire a reassessment of President G W Bush’s policies. Bush identified an “Axis of Evil” that were state sponsors of terrorism and were at risk of obtaining nuclear weapons. The invocation of the terms of the ceasefire from the first Gulf War to justify the invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein was obviously intended to position the US to invade Iran as well as eliminate the threat of Iraq getting nukes. The failure to discover evidence of an active WMD program in Iraq undermined the domestic and foreign political support for action against Iran.
The failure to find WMD in Iraq combined with the election of a pacifist government in South Korea also precluded military action against North Korea before that country could obtain nuclear weapons.
I would wager that within a decade the resurgence in nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and globally will escalate to “limited” nuclear war. At that time, President Bush will be at least partially vindicated but it will be a catastrophic victory.
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.
I have not seen a serious discussion of the best tactics for accomplishing that goal. James Crawford has outlined one scenario. It is fairly clear that he has stated the Obama strategy of hope: the Iranians will morph into responsible world citizens. We can all hope that he is right.
We would do well to keep our powder dry. As Appius Claudius one admonished the Senate of Rome, “If you have peace, be prepared for war.”
In regards to the notice from the FBI (and other places) about attacks on WordPress installations:
WordPress powers about 20% of all blogs (according to something I read somewhere), it is a highly-available target.
On all of the WP blogs that I manage (your Chaos Manor and Chaos Manor Reports being two of those), I have installed a plugin (WP Updates Notifier, here https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-updates-notifier/ ) which emails me whenever there is a new update for a plugin or theme. Works very well; recommended.
And since I manage about 15 different WP blogs, I have recently added “Infinite WP” (https://wordpress.org/plugins/iwp-client/ ) which allows me to manage multiple WP sites from one interface. Once you install Infinite WP on a ‘master’ WP install, you add other WP sites you own via a plugin on each of those sites.
Then Infinite WP can notify you of updated plugins or themes as often as you want … and (the best part), you can update all the plugins from the one Infinite WP admin page. Very nice; recommended.
The WordPress ‘core’ gets its updates automatically. So with that, plus one of the two plugins mentioned above, a WP blog owner can ensure that all is current (as are both of your blogs) and not vulnerable to that “ISIS” attack.
Regards, Rick Hellewell – the web guy for Chaos Manor, Chaos Manor Reports, and elsewhere
Please take heed.
‘A Department of Children and Family Services supervisor fired after the
2013 beating death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy is close to getting his job back.’
Warning: the details of what were done to this poor child are horrific.
The Iron Law at work again. The unionized government employees have become a new aristocracy, responsible to no one. Under the old spoils system where political office winners doled out the jobs, often to precinct captains and ward heelers, it was possible to turn the rascals out if the jobs did not get done; it was in the interests of those who had the jobs that they get done, or at least that the citizens did not get too upset and vote in a reform party. It wasn’t a very good system, but there was at least some political responsibility in it. It is defended in Boss Flynn’s autobiography, now so out of print that you can’t find it, but once a fairly popular book: Flynn was one of Roosevelt’s political associates and a Tammany leader. Like Benjamin Franklin he held the office of Postmaster General, once a powerful cabinet level position generally reserved for the President’s chief political advisor; not a bad idea, actually.
The theory of civil service was that it would let government jobs go to those who merited them and relieve government workers from pressure to do political tasks for the political leaders. Of course it didn’t work, and this is an all too common result. After all, political leaders are responsible to voters: the present system assures their re-election so long as the government employee unions support them; the public hardly matters.
Indiana and tech
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
An article I believe you will find interesting:
“The recent brouhaha over Indiana’s religious freedom law revealed two basic things: the utter stupidity of the Republican Party and the rising power of the emerging tech oligarchy. As the Republicans were once again demonstrating their incomprehension of new social dynamics, the tech elite showed a fine hand by leading the opposition to the Indiana law.”
This isn’t the first time something like that has happened; consider Obama’s social media offensive in 2008 that took Clinton by surprise.
These are the new realities we have to live with:
1) Technology is transforming the way politics is done in the United States.
2) This is elevating technology purveyors to political prominence far beyond what they would otherwise have; people like Zuckerberg not only have great control over the media, they also understand it well. They can play it better even if they have no overt control.
3) These technologists are almost overwhelmingly liberal.
This was seen during Clinton’s email scandal. Some of the Republicans boasted they didn’t use email at all. Hardly a show of any kind of technical credibility.
Republicans need to become tech-savvy in a hurry if they want to have any chance of success; I wonder if this is not part of the reason the party has taken such a nosedive. I’m not even sure the Republican party as such which is salvageable; we may need a new party willing to use crowdsourcing , social media, and all the rest of it, unhampered by the existing GOP bureaucracy.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.