Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Terrorism Analyst

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Part 1: Israel, Iran, Syria and What's Coming


It's become pretty clear that 2012 will be the Year of Reckoning when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program. Simply put, there's a very good chance that we're going to wake up one day in '12 and discover that either Iran has successfully tested a nuclear bomb, or that the mullahs' nuke facilities have been preemptively attacked by Israel (unless Iran's proxies get things started by first striking Israel).

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's comments this weekend were just the latest evidence that Israel will not accept a genocidal Iranian regime equipped with the world's deadliest weapons (not to mention the ensuing nuclear arms race such a development would spark in the Middle East).

I've spoken with Israeli officials, both on and off the record, for the past six-plus years, and all agree that a nuclear Iran is a non-starter. So where does that leave us?

Despite yet another round of sanctions being put forth, it's painfully clear that economic pressure will not dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear weapons drive, particularly with Iran's allies, Russia and China, vowing to never get on board at the UN Security Council and with the Obama administration refusing to target Iran's Central Bank (France, for instance, is seeking much tougher sanctions than the feckless Obamis).

Besides, in the unlikely event that sanctions did begin to bite so badly that the Iranian regime feared for its survival, the mullahs would undoubtedly lash out and seek to divert attention by either starting a Middle East war (most likely through one or all of their proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad) or by carrying out terror attacks on Western and Jewish targets, similar to the DC Embassy plot that was broken up last month.

So let’s end the charade and face reality. Sanctions or no sanctions, any way you slice it, the outcome here is war. And the reason for that is the apocalyptic, expansionist ideology of the Iranian regime.

Contrary to conventional inside-the-Beltway thinking, the Iranian leadership does not consist of pragmatists and rational thinkers. Rather, it is a genocidal death cult that believes the so-called Arab Spring is a divine signal from Allah that the Islamic messiah, also known as the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, is set to return to earth and lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in a cataclysmic final showdown (with Iran leading the charge).

The more chaos Iran helps to create, the more likely it is that the Mahdi will return to set things right, or so the thinking goes. Well, it doesn’t get much more chaotic than nuking the Zionist entity. By the way, the verdict is in and it's not even close. The big winners of the Arab Spring/Islamist Winter are Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. In a rout. The Obama administration must be very pleased indeed with the latter.

The Iranians might not use the Bomb right away. They may very well milk their nuclear power status for all it's worth to gain regional and international concessions and flex their muscle as the Middle East’s new hegemon. It might be three years. It might be five years. Or it might be two months.

Eventually, revolutionary Iran would fire a nuclear weapon at Tel Aviv, when the time was right, in their view. And then perhaps they’d use their burgeoning long-range missile program to deliver a nuclear payload to Europe. And then to the shores of the Great Satan, America (possibly using our own backyard as a launching pad). The Iranian regime’s ideology/eschatology demands it: there’s really no way around it.

Skeptics might counter by saying, "C'mon, Stakelbeck. If Iran dared use a nuclear weapon against Israel, the Israelis would turn Iran into a parking lot. So would the U.S." True. Yet, again, you're not dealing with a rational regime but a death cult that believes it's winning in its struggle against Israel and the West, that the wind is at its back and that Allah is firmly on its side.

This is a regime that sent thousands of young boys to clear minefields during the Iran/Iraq War, adorning their necks with plastic "Keys to Paradise" and promising them eternal rewards. Does anyone doubt that such a regime would think nothing of sacrificing 20, 30, 40 million Iranians for the greater good, in their view, of obliterating Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas, where some 70 percent of Israel's population lives?

In such a scenario, Israel as we know it would indeed cease to exist. Yet Iran and the Muslim world would survive, as former Iranian President Rafsanjani has noted. After all, Iran boasts a population of some 70 million. Israel's population, by contrast, is only 7 million (including 6 milllion Jews).

Eventually, the mullahs will be very disappointed to discover that Israel can never cease to exist and will in fact, thrive (although it will be awful hairy getting there). We know this because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob tells us so in the Bible. But more on that in Part 2 tomorrow.

In the meantime, know this: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons simply as a deterrent. It is developing them as the ultimate trump card in exporting Khomeini's Islamic revolution worldwide. American and European decision makers don't understand this. Israelis (at least many of them) do.

And Israel, the Little Satan, is first in Tehran's crosshairs: which means the Israelis don't have time to sit around and figure out whether Iran--led by Islamic zealots who pledge daily to wipe Israel from the face of the earth--is just bluffing for domestic consumption. Two-thousand years-plus of forced dispersions, expulsions, pogroms, persecutions and wholesale massacres will have that kind of effect on a people's mindset.

At the end of the day, the Iranian cult of martyrdom explains why military action is the only option in dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In their guts, Western leaders must know this— even though they have little to no understanding of the ideology that drives Iran’s decision making. Dialogue, sanctions, computer viruses like Stuxnet, sabotage and assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists are just some of the various tactics that the West and Israel have used to hamper Iran's nuclear program over the past few years.

Yet as the recent IAEA report made brutally clear , Iran continues to march merrily along on its way to the Bomb. As Iranian despot Mahmoud Ahmadenijad has said, Iran’s nuclear weapons program is like "a train with no brakes." And despite the serious rift that has reportedly developed between he and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ahmadenijad does not speak publicly without the Ayatollah's approval. Ahmadenijad is essentially the regime's public face and mouthpiece to the world. And he's made it abundantly clear that it's nukes or bust for his country.

The tragedy of it all is that in June 2009, as huge throngs of Iranians were taking to the streets to demand regime change, begging for some kind of U.S. support--in the very least, a strongly worded "Tear Down this Wall" type statement to galvanize them--the Obama administration sat on its hands and didn't want to be "seen as meddling."

The Iranian opposition was not only demoralized; it was furious at the administration's craven inaction. Thus, a golden opportunity slipped away to rid the world of the mad mullahs once and for all. The bitter reality is that the Iranian regime has since tightened its grip to the point that a repeat of June '09 seems highly unlikely--at least while President Obama remains in office.

So where does this all leave us? How is all of this saber-rattling going to shake out? What's coming down the pike in 2012? Here are some of my thoughts.

Other than a pre-emptive Iranian attack against America (not out of the question, by the way, via either an EMP strike or handing off nukes to terror groups) in which we would be forced to respond, I cannot see any scenario under which the Obama administration, or Europe for that matter, would hit Iran’s nuke facilities. It goes against every fiber of Obama’s being.

Leading from behind in a NATO misadventure in Libya (and empowering Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in the process) is one thing. Taking on Iran and igniting a Middle East war and probable terror retaliation on American soil in an election year is another. Obama has no stomach for that. Besides, in his heart of hearts, he still somehow wants to be the mullahs’ friend. It’s our fault that they hate us, after all.

To sum it up, this administration has made a conscious decision to “contain” a nuclear Iran. They know as well as anyone that sanctions will not work. So they are making a show of arming the Gulf states (the recent proposed sale of bunker busters to the UAE, for example) in order to dissuade Iran from striking first, and have hinted at simply providing a “nuclear umbrella” for Sunni Arab states in the region.

The Obamis are banking that Iran will be rational and not use the Bomb--that they will be scared off by the threat of massive US/Israeli/Sunni Arab retaliation. Unfortunately, as stated previously, the Iranians’ messianic/apocalyptic ideology argues otherwise. Which means a containment strategy is, ultimately, folly.

For Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other administration officials to publicly pressure Israel not to act and do everything but take America's military option off the table projects exactly the kind of weakness on which the Iranian regime thrives. Talk about showing your hand. What a shameful display of foreign policy incompetence.

The U.S., it should be noted, is indisputably the most equipped to completely dismantle Iran's nuclear weapons program. You've got to read this entire piece by Dr. James Lacey of the U.S. Marine Corps War College arguing for a U.S. strike against Iran. Here's a snippet:

It should be recognized that an American or Israeli strike at the Iranian nuclear program is not without risk. Iran could attack oil facilities in the region, launch a global terror campaign, close, at least temporarily, the Straits of Hormuz, and make life more difficult for our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, after weighing the risks, I believe the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran is incalculably worse.

Can America destroy Iran’s nuclear program? The answer is an unequivocal yes. This may come as a surprise, since we have so often heard the opposite. For instance, many commentators claim that Iran’s program is so distributed that we cannot take it out in a single strike. So what? First, even a distributed program will have a relatively small number of crucial nodes. If those are taken out, the entire Iranian program will grind to a halt. More importantly, why are we limited to a single strike?

Another common objection is that the most important facilities are buried so deep as to make them impervious to bombing. Even if this is true, which is unlikely, of what use is a facility without power and buried under a few hundred yards of rubble and loose earth?

The most commonly used excuse for non-action, however, is that an American military strike would only cause the Iranians to redouble their efforts. Really? In any case, is there some rule against our blowing up their “redoubled” program a year or two from now? Is there not a point where even the Iranians will tire of seeing hundred-billion-dollar investments repeatedly turned into rubbish?

Moreover, there is recent evidence that the United States would not have to go it alone on such a strike. Last week the Pentagon announced that it was sending 4,900 JDAM bombs to the United Arab Emirates. These precision bunker-busting bombs are ideally suited for striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities. The UAE has also recently taken delivery of 80 F-16 E/F Block 60 aircraft. These are the most advanced F-16s in the world and nearly a match for America’s new F-35s. Still, it would take 60 attacks by each of the UAE’s F-16s to use up 4,900 bombs. One assumes that many of these bombs can be easily transferred for use by American aircraft in the region.

If the United States does make the decision to attack Iran, such a strike must be overwhelming. If we targeted only Iranian nuclear facilities, we would leave ourselves open to the Iranian counterstrikes mentioned above. To limit the chances Iran will be able to do serious damage to the West, any U.S. assault must be aimed at Iran’s command-and-control centers, power stations, airbases, and missile sites, as well as the nation’s murderous leadership.

And this is the short list. In all likelihood, an attack on Iran would probably have to be a prolonged air assault over many days or weeks. If we, instead, leave the job of striking Iran to the Israelis alone, there is no doubt they could destroy the Iranian nuclear program, or at least set it back years. Israel, however, is incapable of launching the kind of sustained attack that could limit Iran’s ability to strike back.

The military option against Iran is fraught with danger, but doing nothing is more so. Last week’s IAEA report makes it clear that the decision cannot be postponed for much longer.

Yet the Obama administration will not strike. Which leaves the Israelis. They don't want to do it, They shouldn't have to do it. But because the West--led by America--has abdicated its responsibility, Israel simply has no choice. The aftermath is likely to be extremely ugly. There will be blowback.

But the bottom line--and it's been said many times but bears repeating--is this: the only thing worse than attacking Iran's nuclear facilities is allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Particularly if you are Israel, a nation in Iran's neighborhood that is firmly in the mullahs' crosshairs for annihilation. End of story.

For more on Israel's strategy, Syria's destiny and what the Bible says about all of this, check back here tomorrow for Part 2.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 5:10 PM



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