Monday, November 23, 2009

The Hole in Iran's Defenses

As the world gears up for the expected Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear weapons production facilities, two questions present themselves:

1. What role, if any, will the U.S. play in the assault?

2. If the answer to #1 is (as I expect it is) "nothing overt" then can the Israelis succeed on their own?

DEBKAfile has a piece that sheds a little light on this second question.

The Iranians were counting on the Russians to deliver S-300 missiles which would be needed to shoot down attacking aircraft, but the Russians have evidently decided to renege on the deal (due to American diplomacy?) leaving the Iranians critically exposed and defenseless against a sophisticated air assault:

For two weeks, high-ranking Iranian politicians and generals bombarded Moscow to make good on its contract to supply the key weapon, to no avail. Saturday, Nov. 21, Iran's air force commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani spoke at length about the highly sophisticated S-300, without which, DEBKAfile's military sources say, Iran has no real defense against US and Israeli aerial or missile strikes against its nuclear installations.

Our sources report that, aside from the Russian-made Tor-M 1 short-range interceptor, Iran's air defense systems are outdated and pretty useless against US stealth bombers or the Israeli air force's electronic jamming instruments. Syria likewise lacked the weapons for stopping Israel attack its North-Korean-made nuclear reactor two years ago. The Iranian air force has nowhere near the capacity to take on US or Israeli air might.

Iranian strategists are trying to make do with three alternatives:

1. As many nuclear installations as possible are being moved to secret subterranean sites - among them most of the research laboratories working on the development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

2. Bogus installations have been planted not far from genuine plants to mislead assailants.

3. Tehran's most powerful defense is the deterrent strength of its ballistic missiles and the missiles distributed to its Middle East allies, Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas. Therefore, Iran's first response to attack will not be to attack Israeli population centers as the Revolutionary Guards officer threatened, but to strike the home bases of its air force, missile and radar as well as the Israel-based US military facilities, so that Israeli warplanes will have no facilities to come back to, and its missiles are knocked off their launch pads.

When the Israelis finally do launch their attack - or attacks - the world will scream in outrage at this intolerable aggression even as they heave a sigh of relief that the Israelis removed the threat of nuclear war, at least temporarily, from the Middle East. It'll be a shame if we don't participate in the military strike because success can only be guaranteed if we do, but it'll be a greater disgrace if we join in the hypocritical chorus of condemnation. If the Israelis pull it off everyone in the world should thank them for having the courage and skill to do what the world should have done but lacked the spine and/or the ability to do.


Re: Fading Glory

Jason D. writes with some questions based on our recent post titled Fading Glory which addressed the diminishing luster of Mr. Obama's presidency. Jason asks me to answer the following questions, and I thought it might be good to share the exchange:

1) Why, in spite of all this failure to produce, are numerous media sources still backing him? Why have they not highlighted these issues more and used their influence to 'force' change?

The media are sympathetic to the President's goal of expanding the reach of government over individual lives. They share his basic values and were heavily invested in his election. He's their best hope for accomplishing what they'd like to see done in this country, and they're quite naturally slow to give up on him. We have to keep in mind that journalists today see themselves as advocates for policy, not reporters of events. Just as most talk radio hosts see their role as promoting a conservative vision of what America should be, network television and most of the print media see their primary role as promoting a liberal/progressive vision.

2) Why would Obama open up a new can of worms by addressing the censorship issue in China, when he has too much unresolved on his plate so as it is?

I can't answer this except to say that I'm glad he did. I wish that he would have been more outspoken than he was about human rights abuses, both in China and in Myanmar (Burma). I also wish he would have publicly complained about the muzzle the Chinese put on his public appearances, perhaps out of fear that the President would talk about human rights. On the other hand, I don't think human rights are Mr. Obama's priority. If they are I don't understand why he spurned a meeting with the Dalai Lama before he left for the Orient.

3) In light of all this 'failure', as I will call it, on Obama's part, how should we as Christians balance our disagreements with him with our mandate to treat him appropriately as a leader? Is prayer the answer, or is there more to it?

I think Christians are certainly called upon to pray for their leaders and the best thing conservative Christians can do is pray for God to give the Obama administration wisdom and moral integrity. At the same time, as citizens we also have to be prepared to stand against the administration when they seek to arrogate more power to themselves than is healthy for the fluorishing of a free people. Pace what the secularists maintain, all government policy is essentially moral, and this is especially true of economic policy. As such, our political life is something about which Christians should be concerned and actively trying to influence.

But, and this is crucial, we should never do to Barack Obama what was done to George Bush. We should always keep our criticism respectful and never personalize it. Bush's critics were often cruel and vulgar. Christians should eschew such tactics and express whatever opposition they have toward the President's policies and ideas in a manner free of hate, vitriol, and insults. This doesn't mean that we can't use humor or even light sarcasm. Nor does it mean we can't poke a little fun at those with whom we disagree. Rather it means that we should always be prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to our opponents, to delay judgment until we have the relevant facts, to keep our criticisms tentative pending new information coming to light, and not assume that those with whom we disagree have evil or corrupt motives until we have, and can articulate, very good reason to think that such motives are the most plausible explanation for their actions.

Finally, I hear people talk bad on G.W. Bush still. However, I already feel that he was a better president than Obama. He knew that he did not have forever-and-a-day to make important decisions about the War on Terror, and it is quite frustrating that Obama can not commit to a decision himself.

It is true that whereas President Bush was frequently derided for having called himself the "decider," President Obama is earning for himself the sobriquet of the "un-decider." He has had since last summer to make a decision on Afghanistan. In fact, he spoke during the campaign as if he had already thought the matter through so his inability to make up his mind now is hard to explain and justify.

It's also true that Bush was a much better president than the media give him credit for being. He kept us safe from terror attacks for over seven years, liberated 50 million people from tyranny, did more for suffering Africans than probably any other American president, and appointed two excellent supreme court jurists. His tax cuts led to six years of prosperity. He gave us a fine example of personal rectitude, courage, and magnanimity toward opponents, and, despite the best efforts of his enemies to hang one on him, his presidency was free of major scandal. Few presidents can match that record.

This is not to say that everything he did was great, but rather to say that those who attack him, including those in the succeeding administration, are often simply not being fair in their assessment of the man.