Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"You don't see us bombing YOUR evil rocket base!"

For a while I saw the mullahs' response to the mysterious explosions at their military facilities, some of which handle nuclear and missile research, as akin to Varus and his legions trying to fight off Arminius' and his evil Germans at Teutoberger Wald: under persistent attacks by a foe you can't even see, let alone fight, when the foe has been under your nose all along. 

Now, for some reason, I am more reminded of the protests from the robots defending Dr. Nefarious' space station in Ratchet and Clank: "You don't see us infiltrating your evil fortress!"

Because the Iranian mullahs are now mad, though not necessarily in a bad way, it seems to me.  More like fire and brimstone flowing from the mouth of a ferret:
An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.
Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.
The order was given in response to the mounting international pressure over Iran's nuclear programme. Preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.
The Iranian leadership fears the country is being subjected to a carefully co-ordinated attack by Western intelligence and security agencies to destroy key elements of its nuclear infrastructure.
Recent explosions have added to the growing sense of paranoia within Iran, with the regime fearing it will be the target of a surprise military strike by Israel or the US.
Um, if you're preparing for a surprise attack, then it's not really a surprise attack, is it? 

Its ballistic missile programme suffered a major setback on Nov 12 after an explosion at the regime’s main missile testing facility at Bidganeh, about 30 miles west of Tehran.
At least 17 people died, including Gen Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the head of Iran’s missile research programme.
The IAEA report said Iranian scientists had worked to develop a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Security analysts described Iran’s missile advances as “a turning point” that had “profound strategic implications”.
Last week another mysterious explosion caused significant damage to Iran’s uranium conversion facility at Isfahan.
“It looks like the 21st century form of war,” said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington think tank, told the Los Angeles Times. “It does appear that there is a campaign of assassinations and cyber war, as well as the semi-acknowledged campaign of sabotage.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual leader, issued a directive to the heads of all the country’s military, intelligence and security organisations to take all necessary measures to protect the regime.
Gen Jaafari responded to this directive by ordering Revolutionary Guards units to redistribute Iran’s arsenal of long-range Shahab missiles to secret sites around the country where they would be safe from enemy attack and could be used to launch retaliatory attacks.
In addition, the Iranian air force has formed a number of “rapid reaction units”, which have been carrying out extensive exercises to practice a response to an enemy air attack.
At the weekend, Iran claimed it had succeeded in shooting down an advanced American RQ-170 drone in the east of the country. If true, this would represent a major coup for the ayatollahs, as this type of drone contains sensitive stealth technology that allows it to operate for hours without being detected.
Allahpundit says of the mysterious explosions:
I’m in the unusual position here of wondering if, for once, their paranoia is justified. If you missed the NYT story in Headlines this morning about that mysterious boom at an Iranian missile base a few weeks ago, read it now. So massive was the explosion, allegedly, that “the base was almost completely leveled in the blast.” And these weren’t just any missiles: They were solid-fuel.
[T]his is just the sort of thing you’d want to snuff before launching an attack. Coincidentally, the other mysterious explosion in Iran recently — in Isfahan, near one of their nuclear facilities — also allegedly hit the bullseye by damaging a storage unit of the uranium conversion plant there. Israeli intel officials told the Times of London that blast was no accident; U.S. officials told the NYT that the other blast at the missile base probably was an accident, caused by Iran’s mishandling of the solid-fuel components. On the one hand, it’s hard to believe the U.S. or Israel could sneak a bomb into the base so huge that it managed to level the entire compound. On the other hand, c’mon. An accident, at a top missile facility, just as tensions are peaking? Nobody gets that lucky.
The other cause for justifiable Iranian paranoia is the fact that one of our most secret drones was either shot down or crashed there near the border with Afghanistan. And yes, it is a fact, not propaganda: Senior U.S. officials and military officials confirm that the drone’s in Iranian hands. This isn’t an attack model but a surveillance model, one so stealthy that the White House used it to watch Bin Laden’s compound deep inside Pakistan and unbeknownst to ISI. The bad news is, China’s own drone program should get a quickie boost once Iran starts sharing technological secrets gleaned from the crashed model. The good news is, according to Danger Room, the drone is already outdated thanks to “systems now moving into an operational role [that] are scores of times more effective than the [RQ-170] Sentinel’s full-motion video.” Not an intel coup, in other words, but its mere presence over Iran is one more reason for them to be on edge.
On the other hand, there's this from Walter Russell Mead:
To the degree that the US is involved in these events, the ayatollah is almost surely barking up the wrong tree.  The Obama administration is pursuing a policy of sanctions, diplomatic pressure and perhaps more dramatic actions in the hope of avoiding rather than provoking a conflict with the Islamic Republic. This President genuinely does not want a war in Iran, but he also does not want Iran to get a bomb and he thinks our present policy mix is his best hope of avoiding that choice.  The Israelis of course are a wild card, but it seems unlikely that anyone planning massive military strikes against Iran would begin by smaller, ground based attacks calculated to set the country on edge and to put its defenders on high alert.
It is also possible that the Supreme Guide, rattled by evidence that his security establishment is riddled with double agents and secret enemies, feels that to do nothing following humiliatingly successful attacks is not possible. He must do something, and being unable or unwilling to attack Israel directly or through proxies, and fearing the response of the US to armed provocations, he is simply trying to look busy, effective and prepared.
But the Supreme Leader is supremely right about one thing: Iran’s current relations with the US look much more like war than like peace.  A miscalculation by either side could set off a conflict that both may think is inevitable, but that neither wants right now.
We don't? Why not?  This is the time to take out the mullahs' nuclear program.  We cannot allow them to have nuclear missiles of even limited range, let alone of the intercontinental variety.  And Mead seems to contradict this line of thinking with a subsequent post:

Israel and the United States have been saying for years that “all options are on the table” when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program.  Lately the UK has been singing from the same hymnbook and the French have also been heard humming a few bars.
But Germany is another story.  Germany refused to support the intervention in Libya and ever since 1945 the Germans have preferred caution and peace to hot rhetoric and bombs.
All the more surprising, then was the answer of CDU/CSU parliamentary spokesman on foreign policy, Phillip Missfelder, when asked about military options against Iran.  “But I say very clearly that even those who want to put the focus on diplomatic efforts cannot entirely rule out a military option,” Missfelder told the German newspaper Die Welt.  Nothing is off the table.
Those are some of the strongest words about military action uttered by a ranking politician in Germany since the arrest of Admiral Dönitz liquidated the last remnant of the Third Reich.
I love Germany, but their advocating military action does not mean much these days.  Nothing against the fine men and women serving in the Bundeswehr, but it doesn't strike nearly the fear that the Wehrmacht did.  Still, you take support from where you can get it.

Nevertheless, things are coming to a head here.  The Islamic Republic has been at war with us since 1979, albeit of an underground, plausible deniability variety; both parties have yet to acknowledge that.  These mysterious explosions may be the last chance to avoid an all-out war.

Well, we would have another chance if we would support the Iranian internal opposition, but I have seen no sign of that.

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