Iran Grows Bold While America’s Fortunes Wane (and among other things, they want to control the world’s economy!)

Posted on July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011

Iran Grows Bold While America’s Fortunes Wane

Peter Huessy

According to a former member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the mullahs in Iran see “this [as] the century of the Islamic awakening” when they are able to control the world’s economy through the control of oil and the world’s strategic passages. Tragically, proposals now on the table to slash the US defense budget by hundreds of billions may make this nightmare scenario come true.
Now living in the United States, he writes: “The Iranian leaders also believe that as long as the U.S. is financially weak, as long as oil prices remain high, and as long as it is involved on too many fronts it will not dare confront Iran. That is why they have made a decision to continue on with their nuclear program in spite of four sets of UN sanctions. They’ve even gone so far as to mock the U.S. for the ineffectiveness of those sanctions.”
He continues: “One thing is for sure: the jihadists in Tehran feel invincible because, despite the continuous killing of our soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan and despite their pursuit of the nuclear bomb, America and the West have shown little stomach for confronting the Islamic regime in Iran.”
“Weakness is being observed. The belief in Islam is for one to deceive the enemy until they are strong enough to take them out. Radicals ruling Iran think that is only a matter of time.”
How should we take such threats? Dismiss them as cheap rhetoric? Or should we take notice? In my view, however dangerous is Iran, the regime has serious weaknesses. We should be seeking to bring the regime down.
The US Department of State has called for regime change in Syria. We should extend that to Iran as well.
Legislative initiatives now in Congress, if pushed, could go a long way toward ending the mullahs’ rule in Tehran. If combined with a smart strategic defense policy, the US could bring an end to much of the terrorism we now face.
These initiatives include a required flex-fuel vehicle standard for all cars sold in America. This would allow cars in America to use a variety of fuels including methanol, ethanol, gasoline or diesel, (combined eventually with electric plug-in technology). This would allow the market and the ingenuity of American entrepreneurship to provide fuel choice to customers. After all, methanol is the official fuel of Nascar. Plentiful supplies can be made from coal or natural gas.
In the process, according to Anne Korin and Gal Luft, oil can be turned into salt–a key commodity but one which no longer is the monopoly fuel for US transportation. As a result, world oil prices could drop to $30 barrel, sufficient for long term sustained production but insufficient for Iran’s pursuit of a hegemonic and terrorist campaign against the US and its allies.* [US and Saudi joint policy drove the price of oil down to less than $10 a barrel in the 1980’s as part of a deliberate strategy to cut Soviet oil export earnings.]
Next can be passage of genuine sanction (I would add divestment) measures as proposed by Senator Mark Kirk and Congressman Howard Berman. These would be designed to “unplug” the Iranian economy, especially its banking and oil and gas sectors, from the world’s economy.
Companies would be given a choice: you can trade and invest with Iran or the United States but you cannot do both. Further, there is no justification for endowments or pension funds to contain any securities of any business that does commerce, directly or indirectly with Iran. Divestment must be fully implemented.
Of critical importance would be the passage of the Iran Human Rights and Democracy promotion Act. This provides us with a genuine chance at pulling a Solidarity campaign within Iran aided by the various ethnic and national groups within that country seeking the elimination of the mullah’s tyranny.
Given Iran’s rush to acquire nuclear weapons and its current possession of missiles with which to deliver them, it is imperative the US protect itself from such terrorism. The Shield Act, supported by a widespread and ideological diverse group of members in the House of Representatives (a variant of which passed unanimously last year), would protect critical elements of our electrical grid from what is known as an electromagnetic pulse attack.
Such an attack might come in the form of an Iranian nuclear device detonated some 70-100 miles above the United States. Recent evidence surfaced that the PRC has developed a nuclear EMP capability and is planning to use it against the Republic of China. It could also be transferred to North Korea or Iran, as has other PRC nuclear and missile technology.
The US should also commit itself to the deployment of a robust missile defense capability especially a space-based and boost-phase capability, even as we enhance and sustain the current deployments that now protect us and our allies. Such efforts should also include further work on Airborne Laser technology. Particularly noteworthy has been Israel’s deployment of Iron Dome which now can effectively shoot down short range rockets from Gaza and southern Lebanon terrorist groups.
Two US Congressional mandated commissions and a National Academy of Science assessment have concluded that an EMP attack could be devastating, including violent solar storms. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officials have concluded such protection is doable in short order.
My own estimates and those of experts conclude that a few hundreds of millions of dollars in one-time utility costs would protect the nation’s key electrical transformers from both an Iranian EMP generated attack or solar storms. The cost for each American would be $1, added to their utility bills over a year, or 8 cents a month. The Shield Act sponsored by Congressman Franks and Bartlett must be passed this session of Congress.
Unfortunately, one key Senate committee recently only called for additional study of the effects of solar storms and nuclear EMP. That is unnecessary–it is time to protect our key infrastructure from these two potential catastrophic threats.
An Iranian missile-carrying freighter could launch just such an attack, mimicking a test Tehran conducted in the Caspian some years ago. They could do so without the US being able to attribute such an attack to its sponsor.
Nuclear forensics, a very valuable tool, has not made sufficient progress to give the US confidence we could in fact identify the sponsor of such an attack. It is hoped Congressman Bartlett’s resolution of support for protective measures will pass the House handily and spur final legislative action on the Shield Act.
Finally, sound US counter terrorism measures and a complimentary military policy are also required. We need to win the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can do both. Premature withdrawal, based on an arbitrary withdrawal deadline attuned solely to the American political calendar, would be an epic tragedy.
We cannot let America’s enemies besmirch the sacrifice of our soldiers who liberated both Iraq and Afghanistan. They did their job. It is time we did ours as well and let our brave soldiers, diplomats and contractors successfully finish the job. Iraq was a major state sponsor of terrorism.
Its connections to Yousef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed point an incriminating finger at Saddam Hussein for the 1993 World Trade Center attack but 9/11 as well.
A sound military and security policy in the Middle East also will require the deployment of a strong naval presence, long range prompt strike capabilities, missile defense and airpower worthy of our strategy. It makes no sense to junk modern air power acquisitions and go back to rely on legacy systems as many of the proposed budget cuts would require. It takes more “old” assets to provide the same protection as “modern” technology, and this in turn increases the need for pilots, mechanics and other support crew. And we should not be sending American soldiers anywhere in the world unless they are equipped with the best US technology.
We should also reject all facile attempts to glom together unrelated and rather shallow analyses of hypothetical defense budget cuts. Such “what if” paper projects that generate specific illustrative budget savings have nothing to do with the adoption of a sound strategic plan or strategy.
If the defense cuts being contemplated materialize, the US may very fulfill the fondest wishes of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps referenced above. We have choices, indeed big choices. We could too rapidly withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. We could fall into the foolish trap of believing Iran wants “stability” in the Middle East and consequently stand down. We could recklessly cut almost every major weapon system now in or nearing production and cripple US deterrence and military capability.
During the Cold War, it was always a struggle to get our allies to contribute sufficiently to the defense of freedom. Great Britain’s Thatcher and Germany’s Kohl were heroes. Allied with President Reagan they together won the war against totalitarianism from the East.
In many respects they and Pope John and Lech Walesa, representing the faithful and the workers of so much of those enslaved by Communism, achieved a victory for freedom and liberty that many still today do not appreciate. They did it with defense spending many then called not necessary.
Should the United States, though, abandon its leadership role against the new totalitarians from the Middle East and elsewhere, the sacrifice of great Americans–and our allies– from Concord, Gettysburg, Normandy, Chosin, Khesan, and Ramallah, will have been in vain. Defense budgets are serious things. Let us treat them as such.
*And eliminate some $350 billion in oil import costs flowing overseas, some of it to state sponsors of terror. As former DCI R. James Woolsey has argued, “why should we be paying for both sides in the war against terror states”?
** Lee Iacocca said the national debt in 1981 was $1 trillion; in 1985, $2 trillion; and expected the deficit to hit $3 trillion by 1988. “But if the debt keeps piling up at the same rate that it has since 1980, it’s going to hit $13 trillion by the year 2000: That’s fourteen times the debt in 1980. … And yet every month the government is spending $17 billion more than it takes in.” The government now spends roughly $120 billion a month more than it takes in. Contributing Editor Peter Huessy is on the Board of the Maryland Taxpayers Association and is President of Geostrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland, a national security firm.
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