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Would a Tehran ‘No Fly’ Zone Work?

It would be relatively harmless to Iranian citizens, we have the resources to do it, and it worked exceptionally well in Iraq.

by
James Lewis

Bio

June 29, 2010 - 10:28 am

Iranian nukes have already begun to work their dark magic. They have empowered the new, throwback Persian Empire, even before the bombs have been tested. The utter futility of the West in trying to stop Ahmadinejad has encouraged the new “Shiite crescent,” giving Iran aggressive proxies from Lebanon to Syria.

Those countries are playing it safe in the anticipation of Iranian nukes.

In two years, when Tehran gets deliverable nukes, the Gulf Arabs — including the Saudis — will face the choice of surrendering to militant Shiite Islam or trusting the United States. But the U.S. is no longer trustworthy: we have abandoned the nuclear retaliation option that kept Soviet tank divisions out of Europe for half a century. Putin is taking notice, and so are the fascists in Tehran.

The United States ultimately won the Cold War by containing Soviet imperialism, but at very great cost, including the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Containment is again being suggested by the left — the very same people who facilitated Tehran’s 7th century regime in the first place.

A military “no-fly zone” over Iran is much more viable than a leaky containment policy.

Containment worked against the Soviets, because after the death of Stalin they were afraid of a nuclear exchange — a very rational fear. But Tehran is a martyrdom regime. Every day for the last thirty years they have had millions shouting: “Death to Israel! Death to America!” Now, the liberals are telling us the Iranian fascists don’t really mean that.

How much are you willing to bet on that being correct? How about the life of our nation and the peace of the world?

A no-fly zone is the legal equivalent of a naval blockade, but it can be used selectively to stop all military flights and all rocket launches. Because all of Iran’s neighbors are now on 15-minute notice against massive missile attacks with an expanding target radius that will soon encompass Europe and the United States, the crucial point is to stop Iran’s missiles from being launched in the first place. If someone is pointing a gun at your heart, make sure they aren’t able to pull the trigger.

The only way to stop a large-scale strategic attack is at the source. Ballistic missiles have to fight gravity on their way into space — they are a big fat target. Even jet planes and cruise missiles have a giant heat signature when they launch. If somebody can’t be stopped from firing a gun at you, you can only strike and take cover. The strategic equivalent today is a fast strike at known nuclear facilities in Iran, plus slamming a heavy lid on any military flights.

A single launch of a plane or rocket should receive instant, overwhelming retaliation. That can be done by using massive radar and satellite coverage over the complex topology of Iran, and with routine overflights by U.S. and allied air patrols.

A no-fly zone is relatively harmless to civilians — Iranian exports and imports could continue by land and sea, and sea shipping could be inspected for WMDs by the U.S. Navy.

If Iran chose to challenge the airspace blockade, its nuclear industry could be knocked down in a matter of weeks. From a threat, the nuclear sites would become a point of high vulnerability. No missile testing could take place, and any effort to commit aggression could be stopped at the source. It is even possible that Iran’s heroic, modernizing Green Movement would feel encouraged to overthrow the regime. Iran’s constant threats to its neighbors would be reduced.

In spite of large U.S. military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, our uncommitted air and naval power is still the most formidable in the world. A no-fly zone could operate with the cooperation of the Gulf Arab states, Egypt, and the Europeans. Russia and China would have no choice but to go along. The Arabs are most immediately threatened, but the Russians cannot live with a militant Islamist regime with long-range missiles and nuclear bombs within easy reach of its southern border. And Europe and Asia receive about 40 percent of their oil from the Middle East. Their economies would crash if Iran closed the bottleneck of the Gulf. They need the U.S. Navy to protect freedom of navigation.

A no-fly zone worked exceptionally well to keep Saddam down after the 1992 Gulf War.

It was heavily criticized, to be sure, but when the U.S. finally knocked Saddam over, his large army was shattered in just three weeks. The no-fly zone helped to hollow out Saddam’s military. If the U.S. had chosen to pull out before the Iraqi insurgency, the country would have fragmented in civil war, but without its strategic threat — without SCUDs, military jets, chemical weapons, or those 500 tons of yellowcake in Saddam’s warehouse.

Iran is now the biggest strategic danger to the world, including Europe and Russia. Under its neo-Ottoman rulers, Turkey has seen the writing on the wall and joined Tehran. That has reversed a century of Islamic modernization, just as the overthrow of the shah under the benevolent smile of Jimmy Carter reversed a century of modernization in Iran. As a result, the southern flank of NATO has now crumbled. Turkey, with its formidable armed forces and keystone geography, has joined the enemies of civilization.

Ever since Jimmy Carter, the most sinister and backward forces in the Islamic world have been on the march again. Thirty years ago it was Khomeini’s reactionary takeover in Iran. Today it is Turkey. Hezbollah is poised to return Lebanon to the 10th century. Hamas is doing it in Gaza, and wants to do it in the West Bank. Reactionary Islam is spreading all over the world, aided by Saudi Wahhabist imams who run new mosques built with oil money throughout the Western world.

If the modern world cannot shut down the Shiite and Sunni reactionaries at their source, we will be compelled to fight them at home.

Read your history of Islamic expansionism: within a century of Mohammed’s death, Islam had conquered most of the known world at that time. That is the choice Bush and Cheney clearly recognized. It’s the reality that Obama and the left is in deep denial about.

With the November elections threatening a massive defeat for the Democrats and a one-term failed presidency for Obama, both domestic politics and foreign policy point to the same strategic aim: to defang the Iranian threat. If Obama fails, he will be gone in 2012.

James Lewis is a scientist by trade, and carps as a hobby about the passing parade of human fraud and folly.
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