Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahmadinejad and Bush speak to the United Nations

Before I attempt my first piece of analysis on this day, I would like to quote from Sun Tzu:
In antiquity those that excelled in warfare first made themselves unconquerable in order to await [the moment when] the enemy could be conquered. Being unconquerable lies within yourself; being conquerable lies within the enemy... [pg. 183, R. Sawyer translation]
As a leader contemplates war, he or she must have profound knowledge of the enemy -- and the present disposition of his or her own nation. It is clear that some elements of the administration, and pundits, wish to attack Iran in the near future, if diplomatic progress is not achieved concerning the apparent Persian ambition for a nuclear weapon. (New Yorker, 4/17/2006, TIME Magazine, 9/25/2006, "... a Pentagon official told CNN that the US Navy was updating contingency plans for military action against Iran." - London Times Online 9/19/2006)

It is also clear, at this point, that the United States is not unconquerable. More, Iran is not easily conquered. The former power is engaged in prolonged counterinsurgencies in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The latter has taken steps to spread its nuclear program throughout numerous targets. Iran has also threatened that an army of suicide bombers would respond to any attack.

Consensus in the intelligence community, which should imply some caveats based on prior "consensus" on Iraq, is that Iran remains five years away from a nuclear weapon. They are likely much closer to the intellectual achievement of mastering the process to make a bomb.

There is still time before the United States needs to evaluate a military option on Iran. There is ample time for diplomacy. Diplomacy would be magnified if the United States was perceived to be stronger than it presently is; it seems that Iran sees America as week.

President Bush took time to directly address the people of Iran in his speech. He stated that the U.S. would continue to work on the diplomatic track toward a resolution of the nuclear dispute:
The United States respects you; we respect your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization. You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons. The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. Despite what the regime tells you, we have no objection to Iran's pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program. We're working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom -- and America and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause of peace.
The president must live up to this promise to the Iranian people. In addition to this, he must also plan to improve the military might of the United States. There are two ways to do this: strengthen the armed forces and improve the military situation with our present conditions.

General Abizaid said that the United States is likely to maintain a troop level of 140,000 in Iraq until the spring, New York Times. This will result in continured deterioration to our equipment, and prolonged tours for American troops. The Stryker brigade has seen their tour extended four months. American units may not have the amount of time the Pentagon likes to schedule between tours. Analysts have said that this risks "breaking" the force.

Figure out how to fix the force, Mr. President, and you will be better able to start fixing the Middle East.


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