Edward Luttwak?

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Postby chiggerbit » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:28 pm

http://www.interesting-people.org/archi ... 00102.html

> In a Single Night
> Many commentators argue that a pre-emptive air attack against
> Iran's nuclear installations is unfeasible. It would not be swift
> or surgical, they say, because it would require thousands of strike
> and defense-suppression sorties. And it is likely to fail even then
> because some facilities might be too well hidden or too strongly
> protected. There may well be other, perfectly valid reasons to
> oppose an attack on Iran's nuclear sites. But let's not pretend
> that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are
> rather good.
> The skeptics begin sensibly enough by rejecting any direct
> comparison with Israel's 1981 air attack that incapacitated the
> Osirak reactor, stopping Saddam Hussein's first try at producing
> plutonium bombs. Iran is evidently following a different and much
> larger-scale path to nuclear weapons, by the centrifuge
> "enrichment" of uranium hexafluoride gas to increase the proportion
> of fissile uranium 235. It requires a number of different plants
> operating in series to go from natural uranium to highly enriched
> uranium formed in the specific shapes needed to obtain an explosive
> chain reaction. Some of these plants, notably the Natanz centrifuge
> plant, are both very large and built below ground with thick
> overhead protection.
> It is at this point that the argument breaks down. Yes, Iraq's
> weapon program of 1981 was stopped by a single air strike carried
> out by less than a squadron of fighter-bombers because it was
> centered in a single large reactor building. Once it was destroyed,
> the mission was accomplished. To do the same to Iran's 100-odd
> facilities would require almost a hundred times as many sorties as
> the Israelis flew in 1981, which would strain even the U.S. Air
> Force. Some would even add many more sorties to carry out a
> preliminary suppression campaign against Iran's air defenses (a
> collection of inoperable anti-aircraft weapons and obsolete
> fighters with outdated missiles). But the claim that to stop Iran's
> program all of its nuclear sites must be destroyed is simply wrong.
> An air attack is not a Las Vegas demolitions contract, where
> nothing must be left but well-flattened ground for the new casino
> to be built. Iran might need 100 buildings in good working order to
> make its bomb, but it is enough to demolish a few critical
> installations to delay its program for years -- and perhaps longer
> because it would become harder or impossible for Iran to buy the
> materials it bought when its efforts were still secret. Some of
> these installations may be thickly protected against air attack,
> but it seems that their architecture has not kept up with the
> performance of the latest penetration bombs.
> Nor could destroyed items be easily replaced by domestic
> production. In spite of all the claims of technological self-
> sufficiency by its engineer-president, not even metal parts of any
> complexity can be successfully machined in Iran. More than 35% of
> Iran's gasoline must now be imported because the capacity of its
> foreign-built refineries cannot be expanded without components
> currently under U.S. embargo, and which the locals cannot copy.
> Aircraft regularly fall out of the sky because Iranians are unable
> to reverse-engineer spare parts.
> The bombing of Iran's nuclear installations may still be a bad idea
> for other reasons, but not because it would require a huge air
> offensive. On the contrary, it could all be done in a single night.
> One may hope that Iran's rulers will therefore accept a diplomatic
> solution rather than gamble all on wildly exaggerated calculations.
> Mr. Luttwak is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic &
> International Studies.

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Postby chiggerbit » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:35 pm

2006 blog entry plus interesting comments:


Monday, April 17, 2006

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Open Edward Luttwak thread
OK, the Mark Steyn thread on what to do about Iran generated just a few comments. So, while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that Iran is now developing really good centrifuges, here's another point of view.

In Commentary, Edward Luttwak argues that there are several good reasons not to attack Iran anytime soon. He gives three reasons. First, geopolitics renders Iran a natural ally of the United States over the long haul. Second, the Iranian regime wants a U.S. attack for the rally-round-the-flag effect.

The third reason is the most convincing for me: despite three decades of effort, the Iranians haven't made much progress at developing strategic industries, much less a workable nuclear device:

[I]n spite of all the industrial assistance it received, it is not clear that the Iranian nuclear organization can manufacture centrifuge cascades of sufficient magnitude, efficiency, and reliability. There are many talented engineers among the Iranian exiles in the United States and elsewhere in the world, but perhaps not so many in Iran itself. Besides, demanding technological efforts require not just individual talents but well-organized laboratories and industrial facilities.

Organization is indeed Iran’s weakest point, with weighty consequences: after a century of oil drilling, for example, the state oil company still cannot drill exploratory wells without foreign assistance. In another example, even though the U.S. embargo was imposed almost 25 years ago, local industry cannot reverse-engineer spare parts of adequate quality for U.S.-made aircraft, which must therefore remain grounded or fly at great peril—there have been many crashes. Similarly, after more than sixty years of experience with oil refining at Abadan, existing capacity still cannot be increased without the aid of foreign engineering contractors, while the building of new refineries with local talent alone is deemed quite impossible. Iran must import one third of the gasoline it consumes because it cannot be refined at home.

In sum, there is no need to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations at this time. The regime certainly cannot produce nuclear weapons in less than three years, and may not be able to do so even then because of the many technical difficulties not yet overcome.

Lest one think Luttwak is being too sanguine, here's the closing part of the piece:
There is thus no indication that the regime will fall before it acquires nuclear weapons. Yet, because there is still time, it is not irresponsible to hope that it will.

By the same token, however, it is irresponsible to argue for coexistence with a future nuclear-armed Iran on the basis of a shared faith in mutual deterrence. How indeed could deterrence work against those who believe in the return of the twelfth imam and the end of life on earth, and who additionally believe that this redeemer may be forced to reveal himself by provoking a nuclear catastrophe?....

These, then, are the clear boundaries of prudent action in response to Iran’s vast, costly, and most dangerous nuclear program. No premature and therefore unnecessary attack is warranted while there is still time to wait in assured safety for a better solution. But also and equally, Iran under its present rulers cannot be allowed finally to acquire nuclear weapons—for these would not guarantee stability by mutual deterrence but would instead threaten us with uncontrollable perils.

Read the whole thing. I think Luttwak is underestimating the ability of the Iranian regime to stay in power, but it's food for thought.

posted by Dan on 04.17.06 at 11:43 PM


Luttwak's article is well written, but may be mistaken in a number of respects

1) He may be correct about the state of Iran's ut a nuclear program, but his arguments are not all that convincing. We know that Pakistan, without much of an industrial base to speak of, developed nukes. Ditto for North Korea. One doesn't need a vast industrial base to produce nukes, one just needs solid focus and some talented scientists, and some smuggling.

2) In particular his comments about Iran's problem getting spare parts for old US aircraft is quite weak. Many countries very often have trouble building spare parts for older weaponry. India has problems with a lot of its old Soviet weaponry and aircraft, and despite its fine air force and training often has crashes of older Soviet aircraft.

3) His comments about Iran being unable to produce anything like a nuclear program after 30 years is misleading and inaccurate at best. Iran's nuclear program actually started under the Shah. However, it went into a long hiatus after the revolution. The Iran-Iraq war also essentially stopped the program till at least 1990-1991. Whether this makes Luttwak's point stronger or weaker is unclear, but he should at least stick to the facts.

4) His assertion that we know a lot about Iran's nuclear program and his attribution of this to the fact that Iranian nuclear scientists probably despise the regime out of a higher nationalism to the world is bizarre. Most of what we know about Iran's nuclear program comes from the MEK. While the MEK almost certainly has good intelligence sources in Iran, it is most odd to consider thase who supply intelligence to this odd, semi-terroristic, semi-Marxist cult as some sort of great benefactors of humanity. Even more importantly, we still don't know how much of Iran's program is hidden.

5) His bold assertions about the regime may be correct, but the election of Ahmedianjiad showed us how little we understand some of the political dynamics of Iran, especially the views of the urban and rural poor.

posted by: erg on 04.17.06 at 11:43 PM [permalink]
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Postby lightningBugout » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:41 pm

You know its funny - I've already read alot of these but did you, chigger, know that he had an active clandestine career too? I had no f*cking idea and it just completely changed the way I saw all the rest of his writing.

I mean as far as the Apostate article and given his known support of HRC because he thought she'd be more likely to call in airstrikes on Iran and that editorial is immediately followed by the goddamn HRC - RFK gaffe which is immediately followed by RFK's assassination date. Fuck. Not to mention that in that period, I am fairly certain, the first article in which he admits being a spook of sorts appears?

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Postby chiggerbit » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:02 am

did you, chigger, know that he had an active clandestine career too?

No, actually, I missed that part.
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Postby lightningBugout » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:13 am

The Operator: The Double Life of a Military Strategist Laura Rozen in Forward Magazine 6/5/08

puzzle piece anyone?
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