1:53 PM, Jul 21, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
What will Iran do with the big “signing bonus” – perhaps as much as $150 billion – coming its way thanks to the nuclear pact negotiated by the Obama administration?
The current debate revolves around how much the regime will spend on its suffering citizenry – National Security Adviser Susan Rice asserts that “for the most part” the windfall will be spent on “the Iranian people and their economy” – and how much on “bad behavior in the region” of the sort the world has come to know so well: support for the Assad regime, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiites in Iraq and around the Gulf, its proxies in Afghanistan, and terrorist operations. And it’s a good bet that, when Tehran decides finally to go nuclear, it will be a short sprint for which they will have been prepared well.
But these all anticipate that Iran will behave in the future as it has in the recent past, and this is a very uncertain bet. What is perhaps more indicative is Iran’s rush to conclude a deal and take delivery – without waiting for the conventional arms sanctions to expire and also without a peep of protest from the White House or the West – of the Russian S-300 air defense system. The prospects are more than fair-to-middling that the mullahs will follow China’s “anti-access” and “area-denial” path, purchasing a bigger fleet of increasingly accurate short-range ballistic and cruise missiles (also quite capable of carrying small nuclear warheads), submarines and sensors and the other elements of Chinese military modernization program that have put the Pentagon into a tizzy. For $150 billion, Iran could probably buy the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery – which controls China’s “strategic” rocket force – several times over. Iran’s goal, as China’s has been, will be to raise the conventional cost of U.S. and allied operations in the region, holding local airfields, command centers, surface combatants and, particularly, aircraft carriers, increasingly at risk. It seems quite likely that Beijing would be more than pleased to cozy up to Tehran by offering bargain basement prices on both ready systems, technology transfer and operational expertise. And adding a Persian bead to its “string of pearls” around the Indian Ocean will be tempting to the Chinese.
There are two related points to ponder if Iran takes the China path. One is military: a future American president will not “have the same options” militarily that Obama or George Bush had. Nor will Israel. The cost of a conventional strike to cripple Iran’s nuclear program, or simply to respond to other forms of “bad behavior” is about to skyrocket. And with hundreds of billions to blow on selected military modernization, the Iranians will be improving their position rapidly; thanks to the constraints of the Budget Control Act, the U.S. military will not.
The second point is geopolitical: past Iranian performance is no guarantee of future behavior. Iranian revolutionaries and Persian nationalists agree that their country is the natural hegemon of the region and should be among the world’s most influential powers. Iranians have had to suffer for their ambitions since 1979 and feel – thanks to Barack Obama, quite reasonably – that they stand on the threshold or reclaiming the glory they are due. The idea that Tehran will continue to creep around quietly, relying only on “soft power,” indirect means, proxies and terrorists, sounds more like a hope than a hard-headed analysis. If “Iran Unchained” sounds like a horror movie…well, it should.
2:08 PM, Nov 23, 2011 • By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
The European Union is stumbling through a new Iran sanctions discussion, as member states wrestle with conflicting policies to thwart Iran's quest to obtain nuclear weapons.
Better intelligence is needed to make that assessment.9:07 AM, Jul 28, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Sanctions on Iran are beginning to bite, but does it matter?
Intelligence reports pointing to collusion between the mullahs and al Qaeda are persistent.12:00 AM, Jul 27, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
One of the more interesting aspects of the WikiLeaks document dump is the persistence of intelligence reports indicating collusion between al Qaeda, al Qaeda-affiliated parties, and Iran. By itself, this should not be surprising. The 9/11 Commission, Clinton-era federal prosecutors, and many others have found evidence of such cooperation.
Angela Merkel has a choice.5:42 PM, Jul 21, 2010 • By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
The European Union is slated this week to wrap up a new round of sanctions. Their goal is to force Iran to suspend its illicit nuclear program.
Much time wasted trying to celebrate the Fourth of July with the Iranians.7:04 PM, Jul 3, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Last year, Barack Obama and his crack foreign policy team (Valerie Jarrett? David Axelrod?) came up with a grand strategy for dealing with the Iranians: hot dog diplomacy. Here was the plan: Host Iranian diplomats for Fourth of July barbecues at American embassies across the globe. This good will effort, the theory went, would do wonders for America's relations with the mullahs, by engaging them rather than standing-up to them.
Can the CIA understand Iran?12:15 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
A leading Iranian cleric, reports Reuters, is blaming earthquakes on female promiscuity. "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told worshippers in Tehran.
This may sound wacky, but it can teach us a serious lesson. The question it poses is: How well do we understand the thinking of the Iranian leadership on questions small and large? Here are some words of a caution from a CIA study:
How comforting. 1:10 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
"Iran is not expected to be capable of producing nuclear weapons for at least a year, maybe more, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday,” reports Reuters, covering him from aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to South America:
Asked about reported comments that Iran might be able to join the nuclear club in months, Gates said: "I don't believe it."
"I think that most estimates that I've seen, haven't changed since the last time we talked about it, which is probably at least a year, and maybe more," Gates told reporters.
A year is not a long time. What are we doing in response?
Obama should have been fanning the flames of Iranian revolution in his State of the Union address.10:19 AM, Jan 28, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
In a State of the Union address that was already too light on national security and foreign policy, one of the most pressing security challenges of the day --Iran-- received barely a mention.
The Iranian regime says Neda Soltan's death was fake, then real, and caused by protesters.11:09 AM, Jan 7, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
According to Radio Farda's Golnaz Esfandiari, "Iranian state television has produced a documentary suggesting the shooting death of a young woman whose final moments were captured on video during postelection protests was a fake." What's more, Neda Agha Soltan is accused of spying on behalf of the United States and Great Britain.
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