“A Letter to Certain Israeli and American Officials”

Chicago Boyz community member Robert Schwartz has some thoughts about the Obama administration’s Iran deal:

By now I think everybody, who is not sunk into Obama idolatry, agrees that Obama’s deal with the Iranian Regime fails in numerous dimensions. Some day it will be used in business school classes as an object lesson in poor negotiating technique.
Be that as it may, The Deal has been set, and the only remaining issue is whether the Congress of the United States will vote to disapprove it, and be able to override a veto of that resolution. The announcement of opposition by three prominent Congressmen, Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), and the very negative polling results for the Deal, show that this is a possibility.

Personally, I favor Congressional disapproval of the Iran Deal as it would at least record that the American people understand the evil that the Iranian regime has done not just to the United States, but by its worldwide sponsorship of terrorism, and it will give the next President more room to try to stem the tide of catastrophe.
Nonetheless, I think that a disapproval, may have very little impact on the course of events. President Obama is not at all likely to accept a disapproval gracefully and to send Secretary Kerry back to Vienna to renegotiate the Deal. He is far more likely to assert a broad interpretation of his Presidential authority over foreign affairs to implement the Deal. He will release all sanctions he has the legal power to release. And, he will render any sanctions, that he does not have the executive power to release, nugatory by announcing his intention to not enforce them (just as he has done with the immigration laws). He will use his regulatory authority over the banking system to make sure that Iran gets its $150 Billion back. He will remove Iran from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. He may also demonstrate his irritation by voting against Israel at the UN.
Indeed, this last possibility ought to give Israel and its friends some pause. Please note the last paragraph of this post below.
Even if the Deal is implemented as written, Iran will soon have nuclear weapons and the means with which to deliver them. The only question is how long they will wait before making that capability public. If they regard the Deal as an honorable engagement, it might be ten years from now. I believe however that the mindset of the Iranian clerics is that there can be no honorable engagement with unbelievers, and that they will cheat almost immediately. The weakness of the inspection regime and sanctions under the Deal almost guarantees that their cheating will be successful. But, even if they are caught the downside will be trivial. They will have already collected their $150 billion in cash and the sanctions built up so carefully will be gone, and will never return the situation to the status quo ante.
For its part Israel should look past the Iran Deal. It needs to focus on its own defense. It should work to obtain urgent funding for the development, testing, and deployment of missile defenses, and to obtain funding for the installation of high quality civil defense facilities all over Israel.
I want to focus on these, particularly civil defense.
Civil Defense. A nuclear weapon attack on Israel would be a catastrophe. But, it should not be the end of the Jewish people in their Land.
Nothing will save the lives of those at ground zero if a nuclear weapon is detonated in Israel, but those who are not vaporized by the fireball, stand a chance if they can be protected from fallout and other indirect effects of the explosion. To that end, Israel must provide protection from fallout and other indirect effects through a system of shelters.
I acknowledge that Israel has constructed bomb shelters to protect against conventional missiles and poison gas, but, and this is based entirely on my reading, they are not up to the task of civil defense against nuclear attack.
During the Cold War, Switzerland created a comprehensive system for Civil Defense. It would provide an excellent model for Israel in the face of the Iranian threat. The Swiss army was the model for Israel’s army, and the Swiss Civil defense system would be an excellent model for Israel facing a nuclear threat from Iran just as Western Europe faced a Nuclear Threat from the Soviet Union then. If you wish to learn more about the Swiss system, I recommend the book “La Place de la Concorde Suisse” by John McPhee, which was written during the Cold War, and published in 1983. The book is an exposition of the Swiss defense system, and has an extensive discussion of the Swiss Civil Defense system. Like all of McPhee’s work, it is extraordinarily well written.
Israel should immediately act to build a civil defense system comparable to the system the Swiss constructed during the Cold War.
Missile defense against long range missiles. Israel has already had outstanding results from its short range missile defense system, Iron Dome. Israel is involved in at least two projects intended to provide defense against long range missiles, such as those that Iran might fire: Arrow and David’s Sling.
These projects are technically demanding and very expensive. Israel should request and the United States should provide, major injections of funds. Israel should also request an accelerated program of testing and development and full use of the Kwajalein Missile Range. One upside is that, when developed, there will be a large market for the systems in West Asia, South Asia, and East Asia.
Congress should be willing to give Israel the money out of concern for the harm that the Deal and Iran may cause Israel. However, as I pointed out above, Israel faces some very negative feedback from the Obama administration should Congress disapprove the Deal. Israel should strongly consider dropping its objections to the Deal, if Congress and the Administration pass and approve legislation funding the civil and missile defense systems on a long term basis. It may be necessary to save face with Congress by allowing them to conduct the initial vote of disapproval, and then let Obama win by not overriding his veto. That may be a good solution for certain Democrat congressmen torn between party loyalty and support of Israel.

17 thoughts on ““A Letter to Certain Israeli and American Officials””

  1. Israel might also consider increasing its submarine fleet which would enable it to constantly have subs at sea carry nuclear-armed missiles enabling them, if attacked, to obliterate Iran, for example. Isn’t something like this termed the “Samson” solution? It is a type of warning to the world–“if we are going down, we’re taking you with us.”

  2. “A nuclear weapon attack on Israel would be a catastrophe. But, it should not be the end of the Jewish people in their Land.”

    Looking at NUKEMAP, assuming Iran is able to build the equivalent of Pakistan’s largest bomb at 45 kt, a blast in Tel Aviv would spread fatal fallout (50 to 100 rads per hour) to Jerusalem depending on which way the winds blowing. I don’t think we want to find out if this map is right, so interdiction and deterrence need to be the top priorities.

    Actually, not only should we give Israel all the assistance possible for its civil and military defense against nuclear attacks, but we have to. With the truck-sized loopholes in the treaty, Israeli deterrence is the only good way to ensure Iran will comply. We should be planning on pulling out all the stops, such as sending them stealth bombers and bunkers busting bombs also.

    It’s too bad that it’s come to this, but the United States is currently in decline all over the world with no chance of realistically defending our interests or the interests of our allies as long as Obama is in office. It’s obvious that Obama, rather than building some sort of liberal fantasy of a legacy as the conventional narrative tells us, is intent on destroying our ability to project power throughout the world for years to come now that he’s free of electoral pressures.

    The one bright spot is that the expectations of foreign capital flowing back into Iran continue to get knocked down as oil slides further downward. It must be our (the freedom loving free enterprise, that is) top priority to take the global price of oil down to at least $20 a barrel, and hopefully less than that, to bleed their economy dry.

  3. The next president must declare the following to now be US policy:

    Any nuclear weapon goes off on or near the US or any of its allies will result in the total destruction of Iran, regardless of whether Iran is responsible or not. The only exception being that Iran has proven to the satisfaction of the US that it does not have any nuclear weapons.

  4. ” the mindset of the Iranian clerics is that there can be no honorable engagement with unbelievers, and that they will cheat almost immediately.”

    I think they may have a bomb, judging from the behavior of South Africa which had one several years before it disclosed that information. If not, I suspect they are within weeks of breakout.

    I don’t understand Obama and even more difficult to understand is the mentality of the Democrats who support him.

    This sort of thing is what I mean. Have they no common sense ?

    Activists and former top officials within the Obama administration are openly contemplating whether Schumer’s stance disqualifies him from serving as the next Senate Democratic leader — which he is primed to do — and seeking to temporarily cut off money to Democrats in the upper chamber.
    It’s unclear whether Schumer’s announcement will have a devastating effect on the White House’s efforts to prevent Democrats from killing the deal when it comes up for a vote in Congress next month.

    But it’s clear that he will be Public Enemy No. 1 for liberal activists throughout the August recess, as they aim to rally support from Democrats on the agreement.

    “This is a real and serious backlash, one that comes from deep within the Democratic Party’s base, and I think we’re only going to see it grow,” said Becky Bond, the political director for Credo Action.

    Liberal groups including Credo, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America are rallying supporters to flood congressional mailboxes and town halls over the course of the next month to demand lawmakers support the agreement. On Friday, they launched a new website, 60DaysToStopAWar.com, to list upcoming town halls and aid in the push.

    This is hysteria and resembles what happened in Britain after Munich but that was more understandable. They seem to have taken eave of their senses.

  5. It may be a difficult few years ahead but my hunch is that Israel and the USA are going to come through this OK. Israel is a hard target already, and is going to become more so because its high level of technological sophistication will increase its military advantage over its adversaries. The same will be true for the USA once we again have reasonable national leadership, though we are vulnerable now. In the long run the people who are most in danger may be those living in SA, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, and perhaps also in the parts of Europe that have weak militaries and are vulnerable to extortion (Germany). The mullahs aren’t likely to start nuking anyone, but it seems likely they will use their new power to expand their empire and deter retaliation for any terror attacks they perpetrate. There are many bad scenarios on the list of possible outcomes, and a lot of uncertainty. We were foolish (I blame Bush as well as Obama) for allowing events to reach this point.

  6. There is no possibility that the current US government would aid Israel in any attempts to defend itself, protect its people in the event of a nuclear attack, or engage in or allow any retaliation. The goal of the current United States government is the destruction of the State of Israel and the elimination of ALL of its people. The annexes to the treaty require the United States to defend Iran from any attempt to disrupt their nuclear program.

    The supposed opposition party in this country [Republicans] will be of no help. The mainstream of that party is under the control [word chosen carefully] of the current US government, and only the marginalized conservative fraction of the party will lift a finger to help Israel.

    And there is no surety at this point that there actually will be a change of administration here in January 2017, or that if it takes place that the replacement will be any different. It is noted that the American people do not have, nor will they likely have, any input into this situation or in the foreign policy decisions.

    This is a dark outlook. And it is a realistic one. Israel cannot depend on any foreign entity to aid its efforts to survive. Israel stands alone, and must realize it and act upon that fact.

    Civil Defense is a good thing. But defensive measures are not sufficient in a war for survival. A long range anti-missile defense is also vital. But, a) neither will receive any aid and probable hindrance from the United States, and b) neither will suffice against the threat.

    For that Israel must look to offense. To receive an attack is to be destroyed, merely because they have not the room or population to endure it.

    Israel does have nuclear weapons, and delivery systems. A lot more, and a lot more capable ones, than generally acknowledged. They also have tremendous security around those figures, but using the open source materials available some years ago, and even assuming NO growth since those figures were released; the State of Israel has sufficient capability to utterly destroy the Dar al-Islam [the Islamic world] in its entirety with the proper targeting and fuzing. This is something I examined in some detail in a private project about 10 years ago.

    This will necessarily involve scores of millions of deaths.

    I rather doubt that the Israeli nuclear deterrent has shrunk or held steady all that time, and I feel fairly sure that it has increased in numbers and delivery capability.

    Further, I have contended, and still do, that after such a strike, Israel would still have a far more than sufficient arsenal and delivery means to form a counter-value deterrent against ANY nation that would seek to avenge Islam. That includes us.

    There is a window of time between the signing of the treaty and Iranian strike capability that is available. That same window is a period when US military capability is at low ebb due to the current administration, when Russia is occupied in the Ukraine, and China is occupied with economic meltdown. And none of them are in a position to safely endure a counter-value strike.

    While two EU countries have nuclear deterrents and detest Israel, their internal problems are such that they could not endure a counter-value strike of any level, and they have limited conventional force projection capability against a first-rate foe. That, and a testosterone count on the far left side of the bell curve.

    The functional alliance of the current Executive Branch of the US government [the only one with any power] and the Ayatollahs to destroy Israel has to cause a rethinking of Israel’s strategic position and what options are available and what ones are now foreclosed. I contend that depending on allies and a strategic defensive posture is now foreclosed.

  7. I’m sure Israel is making secret defense preparations with the other nations in the region. I’d like to know to what extent members of congress are helping in this matter. There will soon be several nations with nuclear bombs and missiles and we can’t just stick our head in the sand about this nor blame Israel for everything. Stability was once our goal in the world. I guess now it is fairness and social justice. I wonder which produces the most misery.

  8. I agree with Mike K that Iran already has a nuclear arsenal, albeit untested. But them so was the Hiroshima device 70 years ago.

    They will wait until the sanctions are fully lifted, the cash is in safe hands, the purchase contracts (ie bribes) are in place, and then will announce or demonstrate that they are a capable nuclear weapons state.

    Yes, Israeli civil defense will be upgraded with fallout shelters – protection against direct blast effects is very expensive and a misdirection of resources.

    I see that Japan and Israel are in discussions. These two countries are in similar positions and there would be great synergy between them on defense technologies.

    Congress needs to vote down Obama’s agreements in any case.

    I’ve long written here and on Belmont Club that the defense of the Republic lies in a minority of Democrats breaking party ranks to join with the Republicans to stop the lawless Executive.

  9. I agree that Congress needs to vote this down. What Obama then does is out of our hands. But we should take no part in it, or go along because we convince it’s a fait accompli or any other rationalization. It should be voted down because it’s the right thing to do.

  10. “The goal of the current United States government is the destruction of the State of Israel and the elimination of ALL of its people.”

    I disagree. I don’t think this administration knows what it wants aside from vague generalities that are most of the left’s agenda. I think Obama is influenced by Muslims and wants to believe this religion, which he learned as a child, is well intentioned. Everything is intentions to the left.

    I agree Obama is vaguely anti-Israel as he has imbibed the wellspring of Palestinian grievance along with all the other grievances of the protected classes of women, blacks, transgendered and theorist.

    That they are contradictory was the subject of an excellent book by Jay Cost a few years ago.

    There is no single principle. Just conflicting clients.

  11. He may be vague as it serves is purposes, but that streak of anti-Semitism is deep and wide in the culture he purports to claim. I can’t see him being that far off the mainstream. I’m reminded of Samantha Powers views on Israel, he’s surrounded by like minded people, and I’m sure always has been. I don’t think we’ll see Iranian-flagged fighter jets streaking over the Sinai, or F-18’s from a US carrier group pounding Jerusalem, but they surely have bad intentions.

    My guess is the 150 billion buys the usual suspects more toys, and they up their game exponentially. The domestic play-book is one that either surreptitiously creates a scenario through proxies or capitalizes on a fortuitous event and then “must respond”. Ferguson, Sanford, etc. all the while maintaining a façade of ignorance or benevolence. Either way, they are desperate people with an agenda. The domestic spy program they have at their disposal surely is aware of the hostility and concern within, and they’ve got a timetable to get “get ‘er done”.


  12. Jonathan: Thank you very much for posting my screed. And thanks to the other Boyz for their comments.

    First a note. I wrote this just before Schumer announced his position against the deal. I was heartened by it, and think it is a sign that Obama may not be able to steam roller his way through the process. I tend to accept Schumer as genuine. Especially in light of the vitriol directed against Schumer by the usual suspects. Read Ron Radosh’s article about it: http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2015/08/08/the-wh-campaign-against-chuck-schumer-picks-up-steam-will-schumer-hold-firm/

    Now some specific comments on some of the comments above:

    Morgan: Common opinion is that Israel has the retaliatory capabilities you describe.

    The subs Israel has are diesel electric. I think it might be an interesting question as to whether the US might sell Israel a surplus boomer or two.

    Grurray: My most important suggestion is Civil Defense. It is a much ignored aspect of modern warfare. Israel would also be able to use the shelters against conventional attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.

    The McPhee book is important. Please read it. It is also a good read independent of the subject matter.

    “a blast in Tel Aviv would spread fatal fallout (50 to 100 rads per hour) to Jerusalem depending on which way the winds blowing.”

    It would kill an awful lot of Palestinians who would not have access to Israeli Civil Defense facilites.

    Tim L: But, after the Obama maladministration, would anybody believe us?

    Mike K: One aspect of this whole thing, that truly puzzles me is why, after 15 or 20 years of work, Iran has not publicly demonstrated a bomb. It only took the US 6 years, from the first theoretical statement in the Einstein–Szilárd letter until Hiroshima. Now, I understand that Hitler had shipped 20 or 30 of the world’s most brilliant scientists to the US, in a move unprecedented in human history. But, Iran actually has had detailed engineering plans for bombs, via AQ Khan and the Norks.

    Jonathan: “The mullahs aren’t likely to start nuking anyone”

    A cautionary note was written by Bernard Lewis in the Wall Street Journal exactly 9 years ago:

    “Would the same constraints, the same fear of mutual assured destruction, restrain a nuclear-armed Iran from using such weapons against the U.S. or against Israel?

    * * *

    “In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead — hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.”


    Subotai: Your description of attitudes that you attribute to the US Government may be accurate when applied to the White House and the State Department. But, I really do not think it applies to Congress or the Defense and Intelligence establishments.

    I am confident that if Israel asked for the kind of aid I described, that the appropriation would pass Congress by veto proof majorities.


    “protection against direct blast effects is very expensive and a misdirection of resources”

    I think that is what I said. Other than fallout there are lot of knock on effects that would take a lot of lives in an unprotected city such as civil fires and lack of food and water. That is what you are trying to prevent with civil defense.

  13. Robert,

    I remember Lewis’s argument. I don’t dispute it. However, I think the mullahs will get more geopolitical mileage out of having a few nukes if they use them for intimidation than if they try to bomb anyone, particularly Israel. The mullahs are shrewd and rational. I think they are most likely, at least in the near future, to try to gain territory and influence and solidify their rule rather than start apocalyptic battles.

    Of course I could be wrong, or the mullahs could miscalculate, or other countries could react in ways we don’t anticipate. I still think that a preemptive attack to degrade Iranian nuclear facilities would be a good idea.

  14. Jonathan. My quotation is offered merely as a cautionary note. It is hard to know what other people are thinking, and our first impulse is to think that others think as we do.

    Lewis was a stripling of 90 years when he wrote that. He is now 99.

  15. Iran does not yet have the Bomb. They would have disclosed it already.

    I expect that for the next 15 months, Iran will be “nice”.

    They will release their American prisoners, probably one at a time. They will ostentatiously scrap some of their nuclear-weapons stuff, sanitize the known facilities, and conceal everything else.

    They will vigorously fight ISIS, “assisting” the U.S. They will use some of Obama’s payoff to buy U.S. arms for this. If they are really Machiavellian, they will arrange an ISIS attack on U.S. personnel in Iraq to be thwarted by the Iranian operatives that are also there.

    All this will be to insure that a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2016. Once the election is safely past, the nuclear weapons drive will resume full speed, but still under cover until it succeeds.

    In the meantime, in crushing ISIS Iran will take control of Iraq and Syria, and then of Lebanon. (The Kurds will be co-opted: get on board for a slice of oil money and support against Turkey, or be crushed.) This control will be kept covert until after November 2016, or until the Bomb is ready.

    (If Iran is less than four years from the Bomb, IMHO they will be extra nice – because it’s only for a little while. If it’s longer, they will be more aggressive, because they can’t hold the fake that long anyway.)

    When they have it – they will demonstrate it, but not use it. It will however establish them as the dominant regional power. It will make them untouchable by military force, but free to unleash subversion, terrorism, and deniable attacks against all their neighbors – a permanent threat to anyone who defies them. The Gulf monarchies will all fall under Iranian control.

    And, quite possibly, they will threaten a nuclear attack on Israel. A demonstration airburst 5 km west of Tel Aviv, accompanied by an ultimatum: submit to Islam in one year – or leave. How many Israelis would leave? Many countries would be open to Israeli refugees.

    The entire Moslem world would be cheering – regardless of Iranian behavior in Arab countries.

    The one fly in the ointment could be the collapse of oil prices due to fracking. But even at $50/barrel, Greater Iran would have massive resources.

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