Skip to comments.To fight or not (Iran)
Posted on 01/22/2007 2:35:44 AM PST by Schnucki
How best to respond to Iran's bullish nuclear ambitions? Hawks can be dismissed as warmongers; doves can be blamed for a policy of appeasement, as our history shows.
Few things are as important for humanity as the issue of war or peace. Yet whether to fight or not can be a very controversial subject. Getting the decision right depends on timing as well as judgement.
I learnt that lesson when young, because I remember Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich. He waved his famous piece of paper with Hitler's signature on it and the British people were told there was to be "peace in our time."
Chamberlain was wildly applauded by the man and woman in the street. He appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen and if he'd called an immediate general election, he'd have won an overwhelming majority.
One man we've all heard of didn't agree. Winston Churchill said that the Munich Agreement was an unmitigated national defeat and Hitler was an aggressive dictator whose word couldn't be trusted. Churchill's stance wasn't popular. The general belief was that he was an elderly warmonger who was trying to save his reputation by getting us involved in an European war.
This grossly unfair view soon changed when German tanks entered Prague the following March. The policy of appeasement collapsed and in September Chamberlain made his sad radio broadcast telling us that Britain was at war with Germany because of its attack on Poland.
When the early stages of the war went well for Germany, British opinion swung decisively against Chamberlain. He was no longer the man who'd brought us peace, but the stubborn, foolish man who'd been duped by Hitler. Churchill was no longer a warmonger, but a far-sighted statesman who'd been on to Hitler's game all along.
Hawk and dove
Chamberlain's reputation has never recovered, so I'm anxious to be fair to him. However misguided he was, his principal motive for appeasing Nazi Germany had been his horror of war. As a middle-aged man, he'd seen the slaughter of young servicemen in World War One. At all costs he wanted to avoid another bloodbath.
Churchill on VE Day Churchill and Chamberlain served together in government from the start of the war until September 1940. Chamberlain brought in Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty, and then when he resigned as Prime Minister, he stayed on under Churchill as Lord President of the Council. The man who'd thought war inevitable and the man who'd been determined to avoid it sat side by side.
The pairing of the warrior and the conciliator is more common than you might think. Napoleon Bonaparte, who favoured military solutions, had Talleyrand as his foreign minister and Talleyrand thought France needed peace. In Britain we had Lord Palmerstone, an outstanding war leader, sitting in the same cabinet with Mr Gladstone, the great pacifier.
That such individuals could work with each other points to the fact that the decision between war and peace is often very finely balanced. We have a choice of that kind looming in the world, although Britain may not be directly involved. Iran has been uncompromising in its development of a nuclear programme. Though a formal declaration of war is unlikely, the United States and Israel both have to decide whether to attack Iran before it makes its own nuclear weapon.
Sanctions have not put off the Iranian president To some people such a pre-emptive attack is unthinkable, whilst others can't understand how anybody could be so stupid as to let Iran become a nuclear power without at least trying to stop it. How did things come to this and why is making the right choice apparently so difficult?
In January 1979 the Shah left Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini arrived in Tehran on 1 February amidst wild rejoicing. In April, after a landslide victory in a national referendum, Khomeini declared Iran to be an Islamic republic. Like most Iranians, he was a Shiite Muslim and personally he was a dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist. Many of the Western educated elite left the country immediately.
The Iranian regime, since its inception, has been violently anti-American. Its supporters captured the US embassy and took hostages in November 1979. It doesn't seem to be getting any more moderate, and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the state of Israel to be annihilated. He wants Muslims to, in his own words, to "wipe out Israel".
Last December a conference was held in Tehran, with implicit government approval, the purpose of which was to deny that the Holocaust ever took place. So, to say the least, neither Israel, nor the US, are relaxed about the Iranian nuclear programme.
This sounds an unhappy yet straightforward story, but it isn't. To start with, everything about Iran's nuclear potential is a matter of dispute. For instance, it's possible that the Iranian government really does mean what it says, that its nuclear development is for peaceful purposes.
A uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, central Iran The demand for power is booming in Iran, while the hydrocarbon and electricity industries both seem to have financial problems. There's talk of shortages in supply this year. There are green arguments for helping the environment by using nuclear power. And let it not be forgotten that Iran has a right to develop it.
But there's a powerful case on the other side. If Iran has no intention of creating nuclear weapons, why are its nuclear facilities spread about all over the place and situated, in some significant instances, deep underground? Some are said to be 200 feet deep and buried under a mixture of soil and reinforced concrete.
This stirs the interest of military experts, not many of whom believe that Iran's nuclear programme is for peaceful use. Many leading Iranians can't have any illusions about where Iran stands. If your president wants to destroy the people of a state in your region, and you never take any notice of anything the United Nations says, you mustn't be surprised if your actions arouse suspicion.
No doubt the likelihood of an aerial attack on Iran would be easier to predict if there was general agreement on when Iran can start producing weapons grade uranium. But there isn't and the estimates vary widely. Some expect it to happen as early as next month, with the ability to make a nuclear bomb within two years. Others say five years and a few say 10.
You may well ask what point there is in bombing Iran's nuclear industry anyway, if it's most important bits are way down below under layers of concrete? Surely no conventional bomb - however penetrative - could destroy them? The chilling answer is that although no bomb, conventional or otherwise, has the depth of penetration needed, there is an atomic contraption, called the neutron bomb, which would do the job. It can mimic earth tremors and destroy electronic equipment, however deeply buried.
The neutron bomb isn't as horrific as it sounds, because it leaves no radioactive fallout and destroys only over a small area. Israel's nuclear weaponry is thought to include a good number of neutron bombs, although nobody who knows whether this is true or not would dream of saying a word publicly. Indeed Israeli authorities have denied they have any plans to attack Iran. They could hardly say otherwise. But they could be telling the truth, because to attack would be to take a hell of a risk.
War and peace
Here is a contemporary example of the difficulty of choosing whether to fight or not. All our better instincts cry out for peace. But in this situation what's the right way to get it? If the United Nations, the US and Israel all do nothing aggressive, and some Iranian leader gets a nuclear weapon and uses it, this policy of appeasement might be blamed as much as Chamberlain's was.
Thank goodness I don't have to make the decision, but it's moral cowardice not to express an opinion and give grounds for it.
I hope there won't be a pre-emptive strike on Iran, because the Iranian regime must have a reason for doing everything it can to provoke an attack from Israel. Perhaps they want a pretext for an attack of their own. The pre-emptive strike launched at Saddam Hussein was aimed at weapons of mass destruction it turned out he no longer possessed. That isn't a happy precedent for drastic measures. The Middle East needs less action and more restraint.
War is a bad thing, but it's not the worst of things.
It would be nice if the Iranian youth rose up against their opressors, and hopefully that happens. The path that the mullahs are taking the country down (that is to eventual nuclear war, given the insanity of ahmadininutjob) should alone be motivation enough for a overthrow (given the rampant censorship there, they probably do not know of their country's own nuclear program though).
Chamberlain wanted to avoid bloodshed
The article actually seems to be pretty reasonable, which is why I should have put a "?" after BBC in the source field. ;)
Thanks for posting the article.
I wonder how many here, know little about Chamberlein.
And I just posted this:
Now how does a Shield threaten Russia?........
I think they are not to be trusted.
The correct spelling.....Chamberlain......sorry.
With respect, FRiends, it is far too late for that strategy to prevent the regime from finalizing their nuclear plans. If an agressive destabilization policy had been implemented twenty or so years ago, it would have worked, but unfortunately the West has dithered and blithered until we are out of time, even if we had the will, which we don't.
It is time to remove the Tinfoil from our head.....and be aware of how pervasive the enemies of America are....
The press is the propaganda arm of the American left and they have an agenda...see this:
Can turn armor radioactive....
The neutron bomb delivers blast and heat effects that are confined to an area of only a few hundred yards in radius. But within a somewhat larger area it throws off a massive wave of neutron and gamma radiation, which can penetrate armour or several feet of earth.
SEveral feet of earth doesn't sound like deep penetration....
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