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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Out Back Question of the Week

Someone out in cyberspace has noted that the
Iranians will take to the streets in Teheran [or Tehran] on Thursday.
and asks
What line will the [US] Administration take and what impact, if any, will Iranian popular unrest have on US national security?  What, in other words, is the US government prepared to do and how far should it push?  So far, it has lent in support of Iran civil rights, only lip service.  Of course, anything behind the curtain is off limits.
And, I agree, anything behind the curtain is not to be talked about, although I grow more and more cynical about the ability to conduct covert operations on anything but the smallest scale.

The reason this should be of interest to us is Iran's nuclear ambitions.  It would appear that Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons (heck, so is Myanmar, or Burma to us older folks).  My opinion is notwithstanding the National Intelligence Estimate a few years back telling us that Iran did not have an ambition for nuclear weapons.

But, today's Washington Post has this headline:  "Defiant Iran accelerates nuclear program".

In a lot of ways we could ignore the idea of a nuclear armed Iran.  They would just be another nuclear nation.  For nuclear weapons we have the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, as well as North Korea. South Africa gave up their nuclear arsenal and Libya gave up their program.  And, while perhaps not now, in the old days of the cold war, there were a set of NATO nations trained and prepared to deliver nuclear weapons.  This would include Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The problem is Israel and Iran's attitude toward that nation, having swung from silent partner to antagonist.  This is a serious issue.  The Iranian Government rhetoric is that there was no Holocaust in the last century and that Israel should go away so that the land can be given to the Palestinians.

If the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is to be believed, he thinks Iran will use its nuclear weapons against Israel.  I think he is wrong, but what I think doesn't matter.  Being Israeli probably means being just a tad paranoid, and with good reasons.  Six million dead in the Holocaust is an indication that there are people capable of the most terrible crimes.  The question is, is the Iranian Government capable of such madness?  It is quite possible.

Back to The Washington Post, in an article on Wednesday the Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon is quoted:
"It is important to continue to make clear to the extremist Iranian regime that all options are still on the table and that ignoring the international demands can end in the worst way," Yaalon said.

"Despite the time that has been wasted on diplomatic efforts and the like ... Iran may still be stopped," he said. "The coming period will be decisive for the chances to achieve it."
My guess is that Israel is not going to go the way of Czechoslovakia with the Munich Agreement of 1938, followed by the disolution of rest of the nation and its consumption by its neighbors, mostly Germany, but including Hungary and Poland, in 1939.  All ancient history, but probably still alive in Israel.

So, back to Thursdays.  What do we think the US Government should be doing?
  1. Nothing, it is for the Iranians to figure out.
  2. A major public diplomacy campaign.
  3. Actions to ensure cyberspace, to include twitter, etc, are available to the demonstrators.
  4. Covert action to support the demonstrators.
Before you pick your answer, ask yourself if you are sure a new Iranian Government would be any better than the current administration.

The supplemental question is do you think that Israel would really attack Iranian nuclear sites to deny Iran a nuclear capability?  And, if they do, then what is next?  A more general war?

Regards  —  Cliff

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