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Iran and Israel: Nuclear rhetoric

I was surprised a week or so ago about the media storm over Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadineja’s comments about Israel. His remarks were reported as threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

What Ahmadineja actually said –

there is no doubt that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world.

This is predication rather than menace. Predicting the end of another sovereign nation is not a particularly tactful thing to say. On the other hand, Iran speaking ill of Israel or America hardly sounded like news to me (or to the BBC).

There is a larger plan afoot here. The publicity around this remark was supposed to inflame Europe and raise domestic It was also a nice distraction from the fiasco in Iraq and implicitly suggests (Iran and Iraq are indistinguishable to most Americans – same part of the world, same dark people, same two syllable name) that the invasion of Iraq was justified.

It turns out that the game is more macabre than I thought. The plan is apparently not to invade or intimidate Iran, but rather to nuke Iran.

In the context of looming nuclear assault, misrepresenting the Iranian president as threatening Israel militarily with annihilation was a great publicity coup.

Apparently this plan has been publicly known since July this year:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons…. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing–that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack–but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. [source: The American Conservative]

No wonder the Iranians are so hot under the collar. While our population may not be aware of these policies and plans, one can be sure that the Iranians do.

For those who don’t think unilateral military action is a possibility, I recommend reading carefully the original of Joint Chiefs of Staff March policy paper on nuclear war (69 page PDF). From the executive summary:

The decision to use nuclear weapons is driven by the political objective sought…..No customary or conventional international law prohibits nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict. (p.10 – original is bolded)

Justification for the use of nuclear weapons in a theatre of war include the usual WMD rhetoric, but now also include three other clauses.

(d) To counter potentially overwhelming adversary conventional forces, including mobile and area targets (troop concentration).
(e) For rapid and favorable war termination on US terms.
(f) To ensure success of US and multinational operations. No customary or conventional international law prohibits nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict. (p.47)

Those last two clauses, basically read to me as “we feel like it” or “because we can”.

Any country that doesn’t have ready nuclear weapons pretty much has to develop them at this point. Nuclear readiness seems to be about the only effective deterrent against American aggression and threats.

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