Global strike Command is focused on its nuclear mission now
Elaine M. Grossman 9/18, Global Security Newswire, "Air Force Chief Calls New Bomber a 'Must-Have Capability'", 2013, www.nti.org/gsn/article/air-force-chief-calls-new-bomber-must-have-capability/
Welsh suggested that the Air Force could not afford to compromise on ensuring that it can continue to hit targets at long range, a capability that he called “foundational” to his service. He reiterated the remarks in Wednesday testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.¶ “Global Strike will continue to be a focus area,” the service chief said on Tuesday, speaking at an Air Force Association symposium just outside of Washington.¶ Welsh also underscored the importance of maintaining high standards in his service’s day-to-day handling of nuclear weapons, following a new report last month of failed ICBM unit inspections at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. That was the second such incident in the past six months, following insufficient ICBM readiness drill results at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in March.¶ “The nuclear mission -- continuing to strengthen the enterprise -- is still our No. 1 priorityin the United States Air Force and it will remain that way,” Welsh said at the AFA event. “In our nuclear inventory, we have two-thirds of the triad that provides nuclear deterrence for the United States of America. That’s a huge responsibility.”¶ The Air Force has sought to strengthen its nuclear training and operations over roughly the past five years. The initiative followed an accidental 2006 shipment of warhead fuses to Taiwan and a mistaken bomber transport of six atomic-armed cruise missiles across several U.S. states the following year.¶ The service created its Global Strike Command in 2008 to oversee nuclear-armed bomber and ICBM units.¶ “It’s a big deal for us,” Welsh told the conference audience. “We can’t ever afford to get this wrong.”¶ During a separate Tuesday session at the same forum, Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan implied that the recent ICBM readiness-inspection failures reflect her service’s dedication to holding its personnel to high performance standards.¶ “We do demand perfection in the nuclear enterprise,” said Finan, who commands the Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. “To be honest with you, the nuclear enterprise is not for everybody, because you have to be detail-oriented. You have to pay attention to everything you do, because everything you do matters.”
That crushes bomber readiness and sends a global signal --- trades off with conventional strike deterrence
Elaine M. Grossman 9, “New U.S. Global Strike Command to Juggle Nuclear, Conventional Missions”, Global Security Newswire, April 2009, http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090427_2483.php
U.S. Air Force leaders say nuclear weapons will be the central focus of a new Global Strike Command, but the service faces growing questions about how the strike headquarters will juggle its additional responsibilities in training and providing forces for conventional combat operations (see GSN, April 7).¶ Currently, two different Air Force commands are responsible for ICBM operations and bomber aircraft missions. The new Global Strike Command, expected to open its doors by October, is to oversee both types of nuclear delivery systems.¶ "Bringing them together under one command -- so that nuclear is No. 1 all the time and doesn't have to compete against other resourcing demands inside that command -- is certainly one of the virtues of Air Force Global Strike Command," Maj. Gen. Donald Alston, Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, said Friday at a breakfast event on Capitol Hill.¶ However, B-2 and B-52 bombers are capable of carrying either nuclear weapons or conventional muniations. That dual role means that even if the new command puts nuclear missions as its highest priority, it must also grapple with day-to-day demands for bomber aircraft in their conventional role in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.¶ In the future, another conventional strike system is expected to come under the new command's purview, as well.¶ The Air Force's first non-nuclear "prompt global strike" weapon -- the Conventional Strike Missile -- could be fielded as early as 2012, according to defense officials. Alston said he has not yet had an opportunity to sort out how operational authority over the new, long-range conventional weapon system would be integrated into Global Strike Command.¶ For many years -- with bombers flying in Iraq and elsewhere in their conventional combat role -- Defense Department leaders viewed Air Combat Command as the appropriate headquarters to oversee training for the long-range aircraft.¶ Meanwhile, Space Command has taken responsibility for the preparedness of ICBMs, which share some of the same rocket technologies as those used for satellite launches.¶ However, an independent task force on nuclear weapons management, headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, last year recommended establishing a single, consolidated command to oversee nuclear operations (see GSN, Sept. 15, 2008).¶ Defense Secretary Robert Gates convened the panel following revelations about the Air Force's unauthorized transfer of nuclear-armed cruise missiles from one base to another in 2007 and an unintentional shipment of nuclear fuses to Taiwan in 2006 (see GSN, Feb. 3).¶ Last June, Gates fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley, saying the two had not moved assertively enough to reverse erosion in the service's ability to manage its nuclear weapons (see GSN, June 6, 2008).¶ Alston sought to assure his audience that today's Air Force -- led by Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz -- understands the unique role that nuclear weapons must play in service operations.¶ "It is very important that the nuclear business is considered a special business," he said at the breakfast session, co-sponsored by the National Defense University Foundation and the National Defense Industrial Association. "These are nuclear weapons. The people that are involved in these systems at all levels -- whether they are in the field or they're at headquarters -- need to have special focus in order to be successful in these mission areas."¶ Still, with a brighter spotlight now on nuclear weapon safety and security, some are beginning to raise concerns that the Air Force might actually overemphasize the centrality of these arms in a post-Cold War world.¶ "The reality of the day for the bombers is not the nuclear mission," Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said after hearing Alston's presentation last week. "Their [most pressing role] is to be ready to fly over to the Middle East and do missions there."¶ The new Global Strike Command, he said, almost certainly will have to grapple with the same challenge bedeviling Air Combat Command: balancing a need to carefully manage nuclear weapons with a sometimes-competing requirement to train bomber crews for their ongoing, conventional combat role.¶ "Today, Air Combat Command is the single Air Force provider for presenting organized, trained, and equipped conventional attack forces and nuclear-capable forces through Joint Forces Command to joint force commanders upon demand," according to Schlesinger's September 2008 task force report. "The current organizational approach has emphasized support for conventional combat campaigns, predominantly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in other operations around the world over the past 15-plus years."¶ Given this contest for attention and resources, "there is general acknowledgment that there has been substantial decay in the vitality, readiness, and resourcing" for nuclear-capable bomber forces, the task force stated.¶ "So what has changed in that sense?" said Kristensen, who directs the FAS Nuclear Information Project.¶ During a question-and-answer session at Friday's event, Kristensen asked Alston whether the new emphasis on the nuclear role might also send a confusing signal to the world that Washington now considers these weapons the preferred choice for prompt global strike.¶ Such a strategic approach would seemingly conflict with a Pentagon initiative over the past several years to highlight both nuclear and conventional weapon options for long-range attack, the analyst said. The Air Force might unwittingly stoke international tensions if it underscored a new significance for nuclear weapons at the expense of equilibrium sought in the Pentagon's "New Triad" construct -- which combines nuclear and conventional offenses, missile defenses, and a responsible national security framework -- Kristensen suggested.¶ Alston responded that he was unaware of any confusion over the matter, adding that the new command's dual approach would match that of the overarching, multiservice combatant headquarters, U.S. Strategic Command.¶ "STRATCOM's responsibilities include both conventional capability and nuclear capability," Alston said. "Global Strike [Command's] responsibilities are nuclear and conventional. So they will be directly connected to U.S. Strategic Command in support of the combatant commander."¶ The Air Force cannot "take our eye off that [conventional] part of our capability," said the two-star general. "The dual-role bomber force ... is providing a great deal of value to our forces deployed in Central Command. And as a consequence of that, we need to keep those skills up. They need to be able to continue to perform at the level that they're performing. That is a very demanding mission.¶ "At the same time," Alston added, "we cannot let that compete with the nuclear responsibilities that we have, and fail in our ability to deliver the nuclear deterrent ... We're ready to take all that on. We have done that and we will do it well inside Global Strike Command."¶ Kristensen remained unconvinced.¶ In declaring nuclear weapons the first priority for Global Strike Command, "they overemphasize the nuclear mission rather than put it in the proper perspective," Kristensen told Global Security Newswire. "It's one thing to fix the nuclear [management] deficiencies. ... It's quite another to signal to the world that you're now going to focus on the nuclear," with more pragmatic conventional strike missions taking a back seat, he said.
The nuclear option in Global Strike undermines our deterrence credibility
Gen. Chilton 8, Former Head of STRATCOM, “FISCAL 2009 BUDGET U.S. STRATEGIC POSTURE”, Committee on House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, CQ Congressional Testimony, Feb 27
While our nuclear capability remains vital, our ability to integrate conventional long-range precision weapons is every bit as important. Although our conventional forces are second to none, we no longer have these forces forward-deployed permanently throughout the world. Therefore, it is prudent to have the ability to defeat attacks and eliminate high value targets at global ranges on short notice. We have a prompt global strike delivery capability on alert today, but it is configured only with nuclear weapons, which limits the options available to the President and may in some cases reduce the credibility of our deterrence.
Nuclear threats against Iran aren’t credible under Obama --- kills deterrence
Robert Joseph 12, a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, was under secretary
of state for arms control and international security from 2005 to 2007, and Keith Payne, a professor at Missouri State University and the head of its graduate department of defense and strategic studies, was co-chairman of the Pentagon’s Deterrence Concepts Advisory Group from 2001 to 2002 and a deputy assistant secretary of defense from 2002 to 2003, “On Deterring Iran”, June 25, http://www.nipp.org/Publication/Downloads/Downloads%202012/Joseph.Payne%20National%20Review%206.12.pdf
Will the United States be able to establish credible strategies for deterring Iran’s leadership?¶ Perhaps, but the policies of the Obama administration with respect to Iran are not encouraging.¶ To date, they likely have reduced the credibility of U.S. deterrence strategies. How so?¶ A central theme of the administration’s national-security policy has been an almost unshakable¶ faith in engagement. President Obama came to office promising an open hand to the mullahs in¶ Tehran. In practice, this has meant that for¶ almost three years the administration opposed —¶ actually opposed — the imposition of effective sa¶ nctions on the regime in order not to reduce¶ prospects for nuclear talks. By placing engag¶ ement at the center of its Iran policy, the¶ administration has not only failed to achieve its objective, but has also bought time for Tehran to¶ continue work on its nuclear program.¶ If the sanctions to which Iran is now subject had¶ been imposed earlier, perhaps they would have¶ been more effective. As things stand, they are¶ causing economic pain, but there is no apparent¶ evidence that they are slowing Iran’s nuclear¶ program. One can only speculate about what the¶ leadership in Tehran is thinking. Will the sancti¶ ons perversely lead to an acceleration of the¶ program now that its completion may be near? Fo¶ rmer CIA director Leon Panetta estimated in¶ December 2011 that it would take Iran “about¶ a year” to build a nuclear weapon following a¶ decision to do so. Would it not be rational for¶ Iran’s leaders to calculate that, once they have¶ achieved their goal of becoming a nuclear power,¶ the international community would, after a¶ decent interval, forget and forgive, as it has¶ done with India, Pakistan, and other states?¶ While the Obama administration has asserted that a¶ ll options are on the table, it has also been¶ explicit in saying that it does not want to threaten or use force. Indeed, former secretary of¶ defense Robert Gates called the use of force¶ “insane.” More recently, President Obama has¶ reportedly sought to constrain Israel from threatening or using force. The irony is that the most effective way to improve the prospects for a peaceful diplomatic settlement would be to make it clear to Tehran that force is a credible option.¶ What was the case with Libya in 2003 — that it preferred abandoning its nuclear-weapons program to risking the military strike it believed the United States was prepared to launchagainst it — is likely the case with Iran today. In a similarly unhelpful vein, the Obama administration has promoted its vision of “global nuclear¶ zero,” according to which the U.S. should take steps toward unilateral nuclear reductions. The¶ argument, unsupported by evidence, is that¶ such measures would rally the international¶ community in support of nonproliferation and, in the process, of sanction¶ s against proliferators.¶ This is expected in turn to serve the cause¶ of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of¶ terrorists. It’s all very neat. It’s all very logical. But just think about how the international¶ community has responded to the Iranian nuclear challenge, and the conclusion seems¶ inescapable: The proposition is without merit.¶ The ultimate question is how to effect or encourage political change in Iran. Here, again, we are¶ handicapped by a history of seeking accommodation with the mullahs. In 2009, the U.S. response¶ to protests in the streets of Tehran and other¶ Iranian cities was to sit quietly and wait, out of¶ concern that support for the protesters would derail the prospects for engagement with the Iranian¶ government.¶ We need to devise our policies and adjust our capabilities in a way that will deter and defend¶ against threats to our country and our allies. The¶ underlying problem, the real danger, is when our¶ government pursues that goal in a way that produc¶ es effects that are the opposite of what it¶ intends. That is what we did in the aftermath of¶ the First World War, with the promotion of first the¶ Wilsonian League of Nations and then the Kellogg¶ -Briand Pact of 1928. Both contributed to a¶ failure of deterrence that helped create the condi¶ tions that brought about the Second World War.¶ The flaw of those two measures was not in thei¶ r vision. It was, as George Kennan has argued, in¶ their implementation — in the naivete and wishful thinking that, combined, increased the¶ likelihood of war, through bad policy and self-deluding complacency. ¶ The hope that Iranian leaders will ul¶ timately choose to forgo nuclea¶ r weapons, or t¶ hat they will be¶ reliably deterrable, should not be a source of co¶ mparable wishful thinking and complacency today.¶ A realistic assessment can only end in the conclu¶ sion that Iran might continue on its path to a¶ nuclear weapon, and that, if so, strengthened U. S. deterrence strategies will be critically¶ important but not foolproof.
Iran’s emboldened now --- only credible threat of force and Congressional action can prevent conflict
Jennifer Rubin 9/29, Washington Post, Worries about the Rouhani phone call", 2013, www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/09/29/worries-about-the-rouhani-phone-call/
The substance of the call and the president’s remarks afterward were deeply worrisome. Whenever the president parrots the idea that the problem is “mistrust” between the parties — one an open democracy and the other a theocratic dictatorship – you know it’s trouble. The president in doing so merely reinforces the Iranian propaganda that we bear equal responsibility for this “mistrust.”¶ Even worse was his mouthing the Iranian deception that it can’t possibly pursue nuclear weapons because “Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.” It is frightful to imagine Obama takes seriously Iran’s deceitful line, which has long since been debunked. The fatwa doesn’t exist and, even if it did, it would never be a serious restraint on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.¶ The problem is not that Iran “mistrusts” us or that there is some religious prohibition on nuclear weapons; it is that the mullahs’ regime sponsors terror, helps kill Americans, threatensits neighbors, represses its people, holds Americans against their will and violates sanctions prohibiting development of nuclear weapons. As the former official remarked, “Why is it an honor and delight to talk to this leader of the top state sponsor of terrorism, who represents a government that is famous for repression — and who was unwilling to shake his hand a few days ago?”¶ Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put out a statement on Friday that struck the right notes:¶ I am concerned that President Obama did not press Iranian President Rouhani to halt Iran’s ongoing support for radical Islamic terrorism, its repeated violations of U.N. and IAEA resolutions, and its support of Bashar Assad’s war against the Syrian people. These topics were not publicly addressed by the President today, but require his urgent attention. Iran’s government remains — in spite of President Rouhani’s rhetoric — a brutal, repressive theocracy. “It is particularly unfortunate that President Obama would recognize the Iranian people’s right to nuclear energy but not stand up for their right to freedom, human rights, or democracy.¶ The President suggests there is ‘new leadership’ in Iran, yet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei remains the true ruler in Tehran, and we are only fooling ourselves when we suggest otherwise.”¶ Worse still was the administration flacking on behalf of the Iranian dictatorship. Former White House aide and Obama super PAC head honcho Bill Burton tweeted indignantly that it was wrong to call Rouhani a Holocaust-denier. A White House spokesman said it was a positive sign that the Iranians were using social media. (For propaganda, we should note; their citizens are not afforded that right.) The Obama team’s willingness to grab hold of the bait and hold on tightly was quite remarkable.¶ What we see on the part of the U.S. government is undisguised desperation for a deal. The United States will leave the repressive regime alone (Obama said they can stop worrying about regime change) and even allow it the right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program (Why? How is that advisable given its serial violations of international law?). Obama, as on Syria, needs an agreement from Iran to calm calls for action; the contents matter far less than the existence of a deal.¶ The Iranians demand the right to enrich uranium and a lifting of sanctions. One suspects the Obama administration will cave on those points. Before the telephone call, Congress was poised to move forwardwith additional sanctionsto put the mullahs’ feet to the fire. We wonder if the call was staged to hold that off and whether the administration, as it has done in the past, will try to slow Congress down. We have a dialogue now! Can’t spoil the good mood, you see.¶ Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reflect the bipartisan concern that the president is getting snowed by a more sophisticated messenger, warning: “We believe that four strategic elements are necessary to achieve a resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that the United States will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations by Iran, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions and a convincing threat of the use of force.” They promise further sanctions “requiring countries to again reduce their purchases of Iranian petroleum and imposing further prohibitions on strategic sectors of the Iranian economy.” That’s a wise move.¶ Congress should be resolute. Unless and until there is an airtight deal, Congress should refuse to lift sanctions and should tighten the conditions under which Obama is permitted to waive sanctions. In refusing to vote for authorization on the use of force against Syria, Iran’s junior partner, and its use of weapons of mass destruction, lawmakers on the right and left contributed to an impression of unseriousness and, no doubt, emboldened Iran. They have an obligation to reverse that impression and cooperate with Menendez and Graham.¶ The danger is that the Americans will be lured into endless negotiations or, worse, actually sign a deal that gives the mullahs diplomatic cover, enabling Iran to reach its nuclear weapons capability. At that point “containment” is the only option. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to talk at the United Nations on Monday; we’ll get our first look at how he will address that challenge. Unlike Obama, he won’t endanger the Jewish state by deluding himself and his people into thinking an incomplete or unverifiable agreement resolves the Iranian problem. How he will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran operating in the protective cocoon of Obama’s diplomacy is as yet uncertain.
Clear and credible commitments are key
Larry J. Arbuckle 8, "The Deterrence of Nuclear Terrorism through an Attribution Capability", Naval Postgraduate School, Thesis for master of science in defense analysis, approved by Professor Robert O'Connell, and Gordon McCormick, Chairman, Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, June
Additionally, the deterrent threat should be made clearly, and without ambiguity. This is not in accordance with current administrations policy. With regard to the specific threat of North Korea transferring nuclear materials President Bush said that, “We would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action” (as cited in Shanker & Sanger, 2006). The president and other top officials declined to comment, however, on the nature of the accountability. Many leaders instead said that the, “power of deterrence was its very ambiguity.” Indeed one White House official stated that, “These declarations are constructed with some elasticity, specifically to raise questions and doubts in the mind of the object” (as cited in Shanker & Sanger, 2006). There are certainly times when in international relations deterrent ambiguity is an ally. The U.S. position vis-à-vis Taiwan’s independence is one such example. Here ambiguity is effective because the PRC is risk averse, and is fairly satisfied with its status quo position. Taking an unambiguous stance could actually alter this position and make the PRC more risk acceptant in order to demonstrate its regional authority. This can not be said of other countries such as North Korea or Iran. The leaders of these countries are likely to be far more risk acceptant and often operate under a losses frame when dealing with theUnited States. It is entirely possible that relations with these countries could deteriorate even further in the future, increasing risk acceptant behavior. As Paul Huth (1998, pp. 2-3) explains, ambiguity creates uncertainty. This uncertainty allows the policy makers of deterrent targets to selectively interpret messages according to their biases and desires. This could provide the room necessary then for foreign leaders to decide that theUnited States would not act decisively if attacked through a proxy. It is not sufficient to assume that the actions of the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq following the September 11 attacks would be sufficient to deter other states from supporting terrorist organizations. It appears that the past actions of a deterring state when in a confrontation with a state uninvolved in the current deterrent situation have little effect on the credibility of the current deterrent threat (Huth, 1998, p. 81). Thus the deterrent threat must be unambiguously transmitted to each potential threatening state. Huth’s findings have another positive aspect. Since deterrent threats and outcomes vis-à-vis other countries seem to have little effect on how other states view their current deterrent situation, it is possible to have asymmetric deterrent policies with regard to the control of nuclear materials and weapons. For example the U.S. should be very clear that if attacked by a nuclear device of North Korean origin, that prompt, decisive, and regime changing military action will follow. The policy necessarily must be different if the U.S. is attacked by a nuclear weapon found to have been stolen from former Soviet stockpiles. These different policies are unlikely to affect the North Korean or Iranian assessment of the dangers of transferring nuclear weapons.
High risk of Iranian adventurism now
EG 13, Eurasia Group, a leading political risk consultancy, "Top Risks: 2013", 2013, www.eurasiagroup.net/pages/top-risks-2013#8
There is a significant risk; it's just not the one people are thinking about. We’re likely to see a sharp escalation in the shadow war between Iran and Israel and the United States–a cycle of mutual killings, cyber-attacks,and proxy battles–that has been ongoing for several years. This shadow war has the potential to rattle markets and put upward pressure on oil prices (though in a generally more bearish overall energy environment--see red herrings), and could lead Iran, feeling especially vulnerable given the deterioration in Syria that we mentioned in the "Arab summer," toward more aggressive action and tit-for-tat escalation. It's not hard to see how we get from here to there.¶ The early months of 2013 will likely see a round of intense negotiations between Iran and the west, but unless Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei sharply recalculates Iran’s options (unlikely but not impossible--particularly given the timing of the upcoming Iranian presidential elections), these talks will fail and by spring we will again see intensifying sanctions. Those sanctions are already biting--over a million barrels of oil production have been taken off line from sales and tough banking restrictions. Against the backdrop of economic mismanagement and sanctions, Iran’s currency has virtually collapsed.¶ As new sanctions are put in place, efforts to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program will also escalate. Pressure will intensify on Iran’s leadership to do something in response, both to rally domestic support and to project an image of strength. The combination of continuing Iranian resolve on the nuclear program and internal political and economic weakness will likely lead Iran to escalate its side of the shadow war. ¶ The chance of miscalculation andover-reaction on both sides would then rise. A successful plot similar to the October 2011 plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States by bombing a restaurant in Washington would provoke swift and lethal retaliation by the United States. An episode like the 2008 swarming of US naval ships in the gulf by Iranian revolutionary guards’ “fast boats” could equally spark a sharp escalation. So despite our contrarian view that 2013 is not going to be the “year of decision” on the basis of the status of the Iranian nuclear program, the escalating shadow war will keep tensions high and investors on edge.
That causes war---credible deterrence’s key to solve
Alon Ben-Meir 7, professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU, 2/6/07, Realpolitik: Ending Iran's defiance, http://www.upi.com/Security_Industry/2007/02/06/Realpolitik-Ending-Irans-defiance/UPI-69491170778058/
Feeling emboldened and unrestrained, Tehran may, however, miscalculate the consequences of its own actions, which could precipitate a catastrophic regional war. The Bush administration has less than a year to rein in Iran's reckless behavior if it hopes to prevent such an ominous outcome and achieve, at least, a modicum of regional stability. By all assessments, Iran has reaped the greatest benefits from the Iraq war. The war's consequences and the American preoccupation with it have provided Iran with an historic opportunity to establish Shiite dominance in the region while aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapon program to deter any challenge to its strategy. Tehran is fully cognizant that the successful pursuit of its regional hegemony has now become intertwined with the clout that a nuclear program bestows. Therefore, it is most unlikely that Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions at this juncture, unless it concludes that the price will be too high to bear. That is, whereas before the Iraq war Washington could deal with Iran's nuclear program by itself, now the Bush administration must also disabuse Iran of the belief that it can achieve its regional objectives with impunity. Thus, while the administration attempts to stem the Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq to prevent it from engulfing other states in the region, Washington must also take a clear stand in Lebanon. Under no circumstances should Iranian-backed Hezbollah be allowed to topple the secular Lebanese government. If this were to occur, it would trigger not only a devastating civil war in Lebanon but a wider Sunni-Shiite bloody conflict. The Arab Sunni states, especially, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, are terrified of this possible outcome. For them Lebanon may well provide the litmus test of the administration's resolve to inhibit Tehran's adventurism but they must be prepared to directly support U.S. efforts. In this regard, the Bush administration must wean Syria from Iran. This move is of paramount importance because not only could Syria end its political and logistical support for Hezbollah, but it could return Syria, which is predominantly Sunni, to the Arab-Sunni fold. President Bush must realize that Damascus' strategic interests are not compatible with Tehran's and the Assad regime knows only too well its future political stability and economic prosperity depends on peace with Israel and normal relations with the United States. President Bashar Assad may talk tough and embrace militancy as a policy tool; he is, however, the same president who called, more than once, for unconditional resumption of peace negotiation with Israel and was rebuffed. The stakes for the United States and its allies in the region are too high to preclude testing Syria's real intentions which can be ascertained only through direct talks. It is high time for the administration to reassess its policy toward Syria and begin by abandoning its schemes of regime change in Damascus. Syria simply matters; the administration must end its efforts to marginalize a country that can play such a pivotal role in changing the political dynamic for the better throughout the region. Although ideally direct negotiations between the United States and Iran should be the first resort to resolve the nuclear issue, as long as Tehran does not feel seriously threatened, it seems unlikely that the clergy will at this stage end the nuclear program. In possession of nuclear weapons Iran will intimidate the larger Sunni Arab states in the region, bully smaller states into submission, threaten Israel's very existence, use oil as a political weapon to blackmail the West and instigate regional proliferation of nuclear weapons' programs. In short, if unchecked, Iran could plunge the Middle East into a deliberate or inadvertentnuclear conflagration. If we take the administration at its word that it would not tolerate a nuclear Iran and considering these regional implications, Washington is left with no choice but to warn Iran of the severe consequences of not halting its nuclear program. Such a warning, however, cannot be ambiguous or open ended; rather, it should include a reasonable timeline (a few months) to allow the representatives of the European Union -- France, Germany and England, perhaps with the support of Russia and China -- to make a last-ditch effort. To prevent Iran from miscalculating the consequences of its own actions, the administration should back this warning with credible punitive measures that leave Iran in no doubt whatsoever of the consequences for defying the international community. As it is, there is growing concerns inside Iran both about socio-economic conditions and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy provocations. American pressure at this time will not be taken lightly by Iran, which dreads major U.S. punitive measures.
The Iranian regime’s deterrable---empirics prove they’ll act with caution
Paul Pillar 12, Security Studies Professor at Georgetown University and was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000-2005, "We Can Live with a Nuclear Iran", March/April, www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/marchapril_2012/features/we_can_live_with_a_nuclear_ira035772.php?page=all
The simple argument is that Iranian leaders supposedly don’t think like the rest of us: they are religious fanatics who value martyrdom more than life, cannot be counted on to act rationally, and therefore cannot be deterred. On the campaign trail Rick Santorum has been among the most vocal in propounding this notion, asserting that Iran is ruled by the “equivalent of al-Qaeda,” that its “theology teaches” that its objective is to “create a calamity,” that it believes “the afterlife is better than this life,” and that its “principal virtue” is martyrdom. Newt Gingrich speaks in a similar vein about how Iranian leaders are suicidal jihadists, and says “it’s impossible to deter them.”¶ The trouble with this image of Iran is that it does not reflect actual Iranian behavior. More than three decades of history demonstrate that the Islamic Republic’s rulers, like most rulers elsewhere, are overwhelmingly concerned with preserving their regime and their power—in this life, not some future one. They are no more likely to let theological imperatives lead them into self-destructive behavior than other leaders whose religious faiths envision an afterlife. Iranian rulers may have a history of valorizing martyrdom—as they did when sending young militiamen to their deaths in near-hopeless attacks during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s—but they have never given any indication of wanting to become martyrs themselves. In fact, the Islamic Republic’s conduct beyond its borders has been characterized by caution.Even the most seemingly ruthless Iranian behavior has been motivated by specific, immediate concerns of regime survival. The government assassinated exiled Iranian dissidents in Europe in the 1980s and ’90s, for example, because it saw them as a counterrevolutionary threat. The assassinations ended when they started inflicting too much damage on Iran’s relations with European governments. Iran’s rulers are constantly balancing a very worldly set of strategic interests. The principles of deterrence are not invalid just because the party to be deterred wears a turban and a beard.¶ If the stereotyped image of Iranian leaders had real basis in fact, we would see more aggressive and brash Iranian behavior in the Middle East than we have. Some have pointed to the Iranian willingness to incur heavy losses in continuing the Iran-Iraq War. But that was a response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the Iranian homeland, not some bellicose venture beyond Iran’s borders. And even that war ended with Ayatollah Khomeini deciding that the “poison” of agreeing to a cease-fire was better than the alternative. (He even described the cease- fire as “God’s will”—so much for the notion that the Iranians’ God always pushes them toward violence and martyrdom.)