Is there really a “cost-benefit analysis” in Tehran over nuclear weapons?

posted at 12:10 pm on April 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In hailing the new START treaty signing with Dmitri Medvedev, Obama said that the treaty will help Russia get tougher with the Iranians.  Assuming that the Russians start getting tougher with sanctions, how exactly does Obama see that helping in terms of stopping Iran from pursuing nuclear-weapon technology?  Obama thinks it will change their “cost benefit analyses” and convince them that it will simply cost too much in international relations:

President Barack Obama said in an interview aired on Friday that there is no guarantee sanctions will change Iran’s behavior but he believes steady international pressure could alter Tehran’s nuclear calculations over time.

“If the question is, do we have a guarantee as to the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don’t,” Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“The history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime is that you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.”

True, which is why we do reserve our option to act in pre-emptive defense when nations violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has done for years and continues to do now. But again, why would increased Russian pressure change the minds of the Iranian mullahs pursuing nukes?

“I think it’s an enormous shift and a signal that Russia, like the United States, recognizes that unless we can get all countries to start abiding by certain rules of the road, and right now, our biggest concerns are obviously Iran and North Korea,” the U.S. president said.

“If we are consistent and steady in applying international pressure … over time, Iran, which is not a stupid regime, which is very attentive and watching what’s happening in the international community, will start making a different set of cost-benefit analyses about whether or not pursuing nuclear weapons makes sense for them,” he said.

First, Russia has not been uncooperative simply because we haven’t signed a new START treaty. They do a lot of business with Iran, including arms sales as well as equipment for the very plants Iran has built to pursue those weapons.  Medvedev and Vladimir Putin are not likely to cut off business ties with Iran, START or no START.  Bush tried cozying up to Putin during most of his term and also wound up with only tepid support for economic sanctions against Iran.

Let’s also remember that Obama’s reversal on missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic were supposed to unlock this same cooperation from Russia.  Did that work?  Not exactly; shortly afterward, Medvedev publicly sounded a skeptical note about increased sanctions, which have languished since then.   Like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football, Obama’s lined up yet another kick.

But let’s focus on the “cost-benefit analyses” Obama presumes Tehran to be making.  That assumes a rational state of mind focused on economic values.  Nothing the Tehran regime has done should force us to presume that mindset among those in power.  Instead, their rationale seems to be based on three core principles.  First, nuclear weapons (mostly) preclude attack from enemies.  Second, it gives Iran a first-strike method of destroying Israel without conducting a conventional war.  Third, even if the destruction of Israel does lead to a regional conflagration, their religious belief informs them that their messiah, the Twlefth Imam of Shi’ite apocalypse, will come forth to allow them to rule the world.

Given that, exactly how does having the Russians increase their support on economic sanctions from tepid to somewhat warm impact those cost-benefit analyses?  That won’t have any impact on the regime.  The best we can hope is that a tightening economic noose will encourage a revolt from within, but Obama let the best opportunity for that to pass last summer while offering his “open hand” to the regime that oppressed the democratization movement. And even then, a really tough set of sanctions mean nothing unless China joins it, and the rest of the world adheres to it.  As the Oil-for-Food scandal showed, the likelihood of all of those conditions occurring approaches zero.

The truth is that we’re dealing with the non-rational, not the rational or irrational, with the mullahcracy of Iran.  Cost-benefit analyses have little to do with it.


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This man is a fool and dangerously reckless with this country.

VegasRick on April 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM

All smoke and mirrors.

sandee on April 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Do the Mullahs and Dinner Jacket look like guys who run “Cost – Benefit” analysis?

Did Khomeni?

If he did, he never would have taken on the Shah.

The real question is, just how naive, ignorant and stupid is Barack Obama?

That’s what needs to be answered, right quick.

Because I don’t believe that this country can long endure Obama’s raging incompetence. This guy is a walking, talking Category 5 hurricane across the entire US.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

I think when the Iranian regime is being run by a group actively working to bring about the 12th Imam, cost/benefit is def not part of their analysis. Have sanctions ever worked? Please if there are any examples enlighten me.

Daveyardbird on April 9, 2010 at 12:16 PM

The real question is, just how naive, ignorant and stupid is Barack Obama?

That’s what needs to be answered, right quick.

Because I don’t believe that this country can long endure Obama’s raging incompetence. This guy is a walking, talking Category 5 hurricane across the entire US.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Rhetorical question NoDonkey?

thomasaur on April 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Obama said that the treaty will help Russia get tougher with the Iranians.

So to interpret , if Obama weakens USA, russia doesn’t need Iran. No further questions .

the_nile on April 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Forgot, the Human Wave strategy the used against Iraq, where they didnt even give their troops weapons. Yeah these guys are real concerned about things like cost, international prestige and the wellfare of their citizens. Barry is a dangerous, dangerous fool.

Daveyardbird on April 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Dhimmi fool and useful idiot-in-chief

Disturb the Universe on April 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

No the Iranian regime isn’t stupid, obviously, because they took one look at PBHO and instantly knew a feckless sucker when they saw one. Massive opportunities abound for them right now and they know it.

Bishop on April 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

“The history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime is that you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don’t.”

Obama goes all in before the flop. Unfortunately, he’s using you, me, and everyone else as his chips.

The history of the Iranian regime is a constant “FU Great Satan…we don’t give a damn what you think of us!”.

BobMbx on April 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM

The real question is, just how naive, ignorant and stupid is Barack Obama?

That’s what needs to be answered, right quick.

Because I don’t believe that this country can long endure Obama’s raging incompetence. This guy is a walking, talking Category 5 hurricane across the entire US.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Is infinity plus 2 a valid answer?

BobMbx on April 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Obama thinks it will change their “cost benefit analyses”

Not to mention, that Iran’s “profits and earning ratios” will make nuclear technology an unattractive investment.

HT: President Obama and Economics 101

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Maybe someone should remind Barry of a little “history”. Those mullahs in Tehran are the same ones who ordered small boys to run towards Iraqi lines during the Iran/Iraq war. The boys were supposed to clear minefields by tripping the devices, losing their lives so that Iranian soldiers could reach the Iraqi defenses.

I don’t think they even bothered with a cost/benefit analysis.

GarandFan on April 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM

thomasaur on April 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM

We have not even begun to explore the depths of this guy’s raging stupidity.

If we had an actual government, there would be Congressional Hearings on just exactly how stupid and worthless Barack Obama really is.

I’d rate Obama as worth about as much as a bucket of crap without a handle, but at least that’s worthy as fertilizer.

I don’t even think a mushroom cloud over a US city will knock any sense into the 4″ thick cement skull of our president, to say this guy is as dumb as dirt would be to disparage respectable dirt.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Ahmadinejad can’t believe his luck. We actually elected someone dumber than Jimmah.

Disturb the Universe on April 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM

True, which is why we do reserve our option to act in pre-emptive defense when nations violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,

What other country in the news is not a signatory nation to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?

will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states but makes it clear that Iran, North Korea and any other nations that defy international nuclear non-proliferation agreements will face the threat of annihilation

The Obama administration has just isolated Israel, and invites that nations enemies to annihilate the non signers of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Skandia Recluse on April 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM

One day, somewhere in the White House a picture of BHO will be hung with this descriptive label:

“B. Obama; Defeated by College Drop-out with a fondness for ‘Members Only’ Jackets.

BobMbx on April 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Clearly there is a earnings:profits ratio.

daesleeper on April 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Maybe, just maybe if, at no cost to Iran, we offered to teach Austrian As A Second Language in all their schools they’d ease up a bit on making Pres. Obortion look bad.

BobMbx on April 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I wish a few more people would have done a cost-benefit analysis in November 2008…

KeepOhioRed on April 9, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Taking bets now: How many more points against his ratings will START cost him?

Rasmussen: 55% Oppose Limits On U.S. Nuclear Response To Attacks

Fifty-five percent (55%) of U.S. voters oppose President Obama’s new policy prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in response to chemical or biological attacks on the United States.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of voters agree with the president’s decision to rule out a nuclear response if a non-nuclear country attacks America with chemical or biological weapons. Another 20% are undecided.

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:27 PM

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:27 PM

By the time this sad clown leaves office, he’s going to be about as popular as dysentery.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM

The truth is that we’re dealing with the non-rational, not the rational or irrational, with the Obamacracy of Washington DC. Cost-benefit analyses have little to do with it.

Hmm, that works too.

Midas on April 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Wow. Obama has kinder words for America’s enemies than his own political adversaries. Unbelievable.

BPD on April 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Taking bets now: How many more points against his ratings will START cost him?

Rasmussen: 55% Oppose Limits On U.S. Nuclear Response To Attacks

Fifty-five percent (55%) of U.S. voters oppose President Obama’s new policy prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in response to chemical or biological attacks on the United States.

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I think you’re confused. START does not limit the US’s reactions to attacks.

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Or a messianic motivation that dismisses costs?

Nah, tooth fairy.

I still say.

I think Obama has his nuke theology all backwards. If I were the king lib the President is, using the liberal concept of foreign policy, I’d bring all of the troops home and let the whole world know that wherever I go I’ll have my handy dandy help button with me at all times, if any of you buttheads refuse to play nice in the sandbox…Pop, goes the weasel.

Sounds a lot more like a Democrat, they would call it the destroy your opposition, Rahma, insult the lama, Obama, ding dong, nuclear smear campaign, the libs would love it.

Could it be any more nan noo nan noo that the official policy?

Speakup on April 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM

BPD on April 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Most definitely, Obama routinely badmouths, disparages and has his little minions harrass American citizens while he travels around the globe at taxpayer expense, in order to tongue shine the boots of dictators and thugs the world over.

Anyone who voted for this guy should where a bag over his head until this jackass leaves office.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM

As usual, Ed writes a post about Iran without saying what he thinks Obama should actually do. I think the reason Ed doesn’t state what he thinks should be done is that if he did, he’d have to admit that it’s a complicated situation with no obvious solution.

If you think the answer is to bomb Iran, you have to acknowledge the possibility that our military has already concluded that this has a low chance of success. Bush never struck, and presumably he didn’t trust Obama to strike, so it’s certainly possible that the military simply concluded this. We simply don’t know what the military knows.

I’m not saying we therefore shouldn’t strike — I think that if the military believes we have a good chance of setting them back 5-10 years, then we or Israel should strike — I’m saying that there’s a chance that our military knows it won’t work. In that case, what do you propose the US does?

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Perhaps not, but having this jackass in office, certainly does.

What does he care if tens of thousands of Americans get killed?

Not like he has any respect or regard for us or our country. No skin off of his nose.

The only thing that we have going for us is that it would taint his legacy and his place in history, which is the only thing he cares a whit about.

I’m sure he has a plan on what to do and it looks like every other one of his “plans”. Blame Bush.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:41 PM

The truth is that we’re dealing with the non-rational, not the rational or irrational, with the mullahcracy of Iran radical fool in the Whitehouse. Cost-benefit analyses have little to do with it.

dmann on April 9, 2010 at 12:41 PM

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

I propose we continue to do nothing; continue to pretend that just talking nicely to them (and ignoring their derisive laughter and spit running down our face) will lead them to a change of heart.

It’s working so well, why ‘change’ now?

Midas on April 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Seems to me, if Obama really thinks that the Mullahs are doing a CBA, he’s already ruled out a strike, no matter what the military tells him.

I think we all know Obama well enough to know, that there is no possible way he’s going to take out Iranian capabilities on a first strike. Absolutely no possible way.

No matter what the intelligence says, no matter the warnings, if they decide to strike, he’s going to be like Stalin was when Operation Barbarossa went into action – jaw agape, speechless (for once) for hours.

The question of what he should do is irrelevant, because we know for certain that he will do nothing and so do the Mullahs. We’re stuck with an incompetent, ignorant president, that’s the bottom line.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM

NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Yes, I was thinking his popularity might tank somewhere near the Rhea Sisters (Gonorrhea, Diarrhea and Pyorrhea).

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Is there really a “cost-benefit analysis” in Tehran over nuclear weapons?

Absolutely, the “benefit” Of destroying Israel while simultaneously waking up the sleepy 12th guy. A two-fer! That outweighs any “cost” to Shia Muslims under Allahs “analysis”.

BL@KBIRD on April 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM

I propose we continue to do nothing; continue to pretend that just talking nicely to them (and ignoring their derisive laughter and spit running down our face) will lead them to a change of heart.

It’s working so well, why ‘change’ now?

Midas on April 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Instead of answering sarcastically, why don’t you just say what you think we should do and why. And specifically, please address what you would do as president if the military told you that a strike would only have a 10% chance of succeeding, and that even if it does, it will only set the nuclear program back 1-2 years at best? From what we know about Iran’s protection of its program, it’s certainly possible that the military has concluded this. What would you do then?

You don’t have to answer what you would do if the military told you there was a high probability of success; I agree that in this case we should strike or encourage/help Israel to strike.

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I think you’re confused. START does not limit the US’s reactions to attacks.

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM

It was a quote. Tell that to Rasmussen.

petefrt on April 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM

These are people that have been chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” every Friday for thirty years. I don’t see them stopping to consider the cost/benefit analysis if they get the chance to make one of those come true.

Kafir on April 9, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Dude, he HAS to be doing this on purpose.

It was just a day or two ago that Obama accused (of all people) Sarah Palin of not being not “qualified” to express an opinion about nuclear weapons.

And now, Obama comes out and claims that nuclear genocide is pretty much the only enterprise on earth that can be safely governed by the laws of supply and demand!

Seriously. He HAS to be doing this on purpose.

logis on April 9, 2010 at 12:54 PM

I think we all know Obama well enough to know, that there is no possible way he’s going to take out Iranian capabilities on a first strike. Absolutely no possible way.
NoDonkey on April 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM

There is an outside chance the Saudi King may reluctantly direct America to do so.

BL@KBIRD on April 9, 2010 at 12:56 PM

In that case, what do you propose the US does?

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

a) Foment rabelun in Iran.
b) Encourage third party actors to act.

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Obama’s also the guy who thinks a $3000 credit per job is a big incentive for American employers to go out and hire millions of people in a deep recession in which no one is buying what the employers are selling anyway.

These Obama folks really need to get off the game theory.

J.E. Dyer on April 9, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Like other analyses Iran’s nuclear threat, this one rests on the possibility of Iran nuking Israel or its neighbors. I think that’s exceptionally unlikely.

Iran does not have to use its nukes to benefit from them. Just by having nukes, the regime will be free to more aggressively employ Hezbollah, Hamas and other proxy armies with impunity against Lebanon, Israel and various despotic Arab monarchies. No nation will dare retaliate against a state that has nuclear weapons, the capability to deliver them and leaders that appear nuts enough to want to use them.

elfman on April 9, 2010 at 1:10 PM

BL@KBIRD on April 9, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Bingo….because we all know the real targets of any Iranian nukes are the oil facilities/terminals in the Gulf.

dmann on April 9, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Instead of answering sarcastically, why don’t you just say what you think we should do and why. And specifically, please address what you would do as president if the military told you that a strike would only have a 10% chance of succeeding, and that even if it does, it will only set the nuclear program back 1-2 years at best? From what we know about Iran’s protection of its program, it’s certainly possible that the military has concluded this. What would you do then?

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I would tell them that they need a plan that has a better probability of success and to to get back to the drawing board to return with a better plan in 30 days, or we’d be going with my plan instead.

I would then publicly and internationally warn Iran of what was to come if they didn’t stop immediately and with verification. I would openly encourage the Iranian people to take this opportunity to overthrow the current regime (something Obama should’ve done last year), promising support and recongition if they did so.

If even a perception remained at the end of the 30 days that they had not stopped their nuke program, and the Iranian people hadn’t started something on their own…

I would review the new plans with the military folks and if still found to be lacking, I would authorize some direct drone attacks/bombing of Iran regime buildings and the homes of their leaders, timed to all occur at the simultaneously when they are asleep, around 3am and try to eliminate as many as possible. Throw in strikes on the homes of known nuclear scientists. Maximum damage to the regime and nuclear infrastructure, minimizing as much as possible damage to the rest of the populace.

If the reaction to that was poor or defiant by remaining elements of the regime, I’d throw in strikes that would cripple or eliminate their petroleum energy supply and ability to sell oil (they’re already struggling from a gasoline problem).

From there, escalation as necessary.

The problem we find ourselves in today is the direct result of sending repeated signals to them (and NK for that matter) that are fundamentally unserious about it.

We draw a line in the sand and blather about how their actions are unacceptable – and then we tacitly accept them, draw another line a bit farther down the road and blather on a bit more.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Unacceptable, gives us the current situation, and eventually ends up with a lunatic fundamentalist muslim regime with nukes that has a high probability of using them first against Israel, then to consolidate power in the ME, and then against Europe and the US.

We can actually *act* now, or be forced to act later after a few hundred thousand or more are dead due to inaction. Which is worse?

Midas on April 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM

You don’t have to answer what you would do if the military told you there was a high probability of success; I agree that in this case we should strike or encourage/help Israel to strike.

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

There are two different issues here, tneloms. One is that the probability of success corresponds directly to the scope of the military strike. Smaller strike, lower probability of success. Larger strike, higher probability of success.

The second is that Israel can only bring off a relatively small strike. Encouraging Israel to strike, or “relying on Israel to strike,” is not the best military option. It would inherently be a lower payoff option, but come with the same high cost in blowback from Iran.

No senior military leader has ever said the US could not succeed in destroying Iran’s current nuclear program with a military strike. We could, in fact, do that. What our military leaders have said is that a military strike is not their favored option, that it would create bigger problems, and that it’s not a guaranteed fix. Which it’s not: Iran can reconstitute her program if we allow that to happen afterward, with the same regime in place.

The difficulty all along has been that the military option to set Iran’s nuclear program back for at least 5 years, and also contain the blowback (e.g., Iran using antishipping options in the Strait of Hormuz, threatening Gulf neighbors with medium-range missiles, WMD terrorism) — the military effort necessary for these objectives would be on nearly the same scale as just regime-changing Iran outright. To conduct the attack at all on this scale would be likely to provoke regime-change from within anyway.

This is a huge commitment neither Bush nor Obama has been willing to undertake, and I do find that understandable. The only choices here are bad ones. But it’s not the case that military power, per se, is inadequate to the task of destroying Iran’s nuclear program.

It would have required much, much less to destroy the elements of the program 10 years ago, or 8, or even 5. We have guaranteed the heroic size of the requirement by waiting. But it’s still feasible, by strict targeting calculations and our operational capabilities. The cost just goes up with every passing day.

J.E. Dyer on April 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

IMHO, just because a regime includes religious beliefs in its “cost-benefit analysis”, does NOT make it non-rational.

I think Ed is making the same fundamental mistake so many liberals in our own country make. Religious belief does not automatically mean irrational, or non-rational, it just means a different set of considerations than those used/accepted by the irreligious or non-religious.

Such blindness (combined with the un-ending drive towards political correctness) is what prevents us from taking the necessary steps to preserve our country and keep us safe. An absolute refusal to accept the FACT that, for some people, religious belief can trump all other concerns, is just plain dumb.

Fatal on April 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Instead of answering sarcastically, why don’t you just say what you think we should do and why. And specifically, please address what you would do as president if the military told you that a strike would only have a 10% chance of succeeding, and that even if it does, it will only set the nuclear program back 1-2 years at best? From what we know about Iran’s protection of its program, it’s certainly possible that the military has concluded this. What would you do then?

. . .

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I know this wasn’t directed at me, but I’ll answer it anyway. If we all agree that we simply cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran (and, as President, I certainly would not accept that), then you do whatever it takes.

First move? Blockade the country and prevent anything from going in or coming out – especially gasoline. Then wait for the internal revolt, support it to the max and dump the current regime. Any country that objects gets a shrug and an “Oh well, that’s just too bad” – we did what we had to do.

Then:

10% chance a strike works? Order 10 strikes

Setback of only 1-2 years? Repeat those 10 strikes on an annual basis.

Airstrikes don’t work and Iran won’t relent? Invade / Regime Change

Next Regime continues the quest? Iran becomes a permanent protectorate under U.S. control.

IF – we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, cannot abide with a Nuclear armed Iran – then the answers really aren’t that hard – you do whatever it takes. And, no, I don’t believe for one second that Obama has what it takes to prevent Iran from getting nukes.

Fatal on April 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM

And, no, I don’t believe for one second that Obama has what it takes to prevent Iran from getting nukes.

Fatal on April 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM

MORE RUBBLE, LESS TROUBLE!!

Maquis on April 9, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Another calculus Tehran is undoubtedly making is that nuclear weapons also give it more leverage in directing the affairs in the middle east. The Arab nations have always been wary of a dominant radical Iran, one of the reasons Saddam Hussein was tacitly supported during his war with Iran. A nuclear Iran may be publicly applauded among Muslim nations for posing a threat to Israel, but privately they will be intimidated and afraid of losing their influence in the region — a situation that will add pressure towards nuclear proliferation in the middle east. Obama is playing with fire by allowing Iran to go nuclear.

Socratease on April 9, 2010 at 2:20 PM

This is a regime that loses oil in its infrastructure through lack of maintenance. This regime also does not keep up its refineries, to the point they are now importing refined petroleum products like gasoline. They also do not do marginal oil field expansion, to keep production numbers up, so they end up being unable to meet OPEC quotas for months, now going into years. The refinery and oil system is so poorly managed that they have to import natural gas, which is normally a byproduct of refining and early production from some oil sites. This allowed Turkmenistan to ‘accidentally’ shut off the flow of natural gas to Iran, which caused sections of the country to shut down, and the regime to finally capitulate on paying exhorbitant natural gas prices… then the natural gas magically started flowing again.

Instead of investing in their refineries to get more money, later, they arm up Hezbollah, work on fancy missiles, expend who knows how much on nuclear technology, and cannot entice anyone, not Gazprom nor China, to come in to fix the oil system because the way they work contracts is so quixotic as to be unreliable.

Which one of these demonstrates a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ mentality on the major if not sole source of reliable hard currency for the Nation of Iran?

Anyone, in any Nation, of any political stripe that thinks that Iran has a rational basis for what it is doing need only look at the way it is starving its cash cow. There is no calculus that works in Iran save for the threat of a massive uprising, which is why they caved on natural gas payoffs.

It also turns out one of the Red Mafia groups that has an ‘in’ in Turkmenistan and nice natural gas contracts, also had lots of the stuff in storage in Ukraine. The message was: ‘up your payoffs or we sell it to Europe’. That worked, and is a group not under Putin’s control. That is how you deal with the regime: cut off its natural gas, its refined products and its oil exports. But that is hardball… something Obama will never, ever, not once in his life consider. And after a city goes missing, it will be just a tad too late.

ajacksonian on April 9, 2010 at 2:29 PM

So far Iran has nothing but benefits to show for its policies. The Russians are kissing their butts, despite their words to the contrary. Obama is standing around with MSNBC up his butt. Arab nations soon will start kissing Iran’s butt because they know the US won’t protect itself, let alone anyone else (although frankly, why should I worry if Iran nukes an Arab nation).

Eventually Israel will act in its own defense…and Obama will abandon them.

Iran knows the only danger it faces is a new US president. If Obama continues to beat our swords into abortion funding, then a new president probably will not have the tools to deal with Iran.

doufree on April 9, 2010 at 2:31 PM

in that case, what do you propose the US does?

tneloms on April 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

An attack only doing 10% damage and mended in 1 or 2 years?

Attack 10 times every one or two years.

BL@KBIRD on April 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM

“If the question is, do we have a guarantee as to the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don’t,” Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Imagine if that anacolouthon had come from Bush’s mouth. (Not that such things didn’t!)

Tzetzes on April 9, 2010 at 2:37 PM

If Iran finally gets nukes, their wisest move would be to make enough that they couldn’t all be wiped out in one strike and then sit on them as a deterrent.

I think that’s an unspoken part of this whole debate – a nuclear-armed Iran will possess a tool that will actually deter US invasion. This is cause for concern because someone important is planning for Iraq II. Bank on it.

Iraq didn’t stand a chance against the US military, and Afghanistan’s harsh terrain is the only thing keeping them from being equally pwned. No Middle-Eastern nation can stand up to us with conventional arms.

…but a ME nation with nukes…that’s a whole different ballgame.

Dark-Star on April 9, 2010 at 3:38 PM

The truth is that we’re dealing with the non-rational, not the rational or irrational, with the mullahcracy of Iran. Cost-benefit analyses have little to do with it.

Obumbler has no idea how to deal with Iran. Bibi Netanyahu will have to take matters into his own hands.

Steve Z on April 9, 2010 at 3:49 PM

But let’s focus on the “cost-benefit analyses” Obama presumes Tehran to be making. That assumes a rational state of mind focused on economic values. Nothing the Tehran regime has done should force us to presume that mindset among those in power.

Ha! What a lousy way of saying “I can’t prove that they’re not rational, so I’ll throw the burden of proof on the other side”. That’s ridiculous. If you’re claiming they’re not rational, it’s up to you to prove it.

Instead, their rationale seems to be based on three core principles. First, nuclear weapons (mostly) preclude attack from enemies.

Okay. That’s completely rational. Do you dispute this?

Second, it gives Iran a first-strike method of destroying Israel without conducting a conventional war.

You could just as easily say that Israel has nukes so that they have a first-strike method of destroying Iran. Unless you have proof that this is the desire of the regime, it’s meaningless. Remember, Iran has not launched an offensive war in over a century.

Third, even if the destruction of Israel does lead to a regional conflagration…

“If”? Why on earth do you need an “if” there? What world are you living in?

…their religious belief informs them that their messiah, the Twlefth Imam of Shi’ite apocalypse, will come forth to allow them to rule the world.

And the religious belief of evangelical Christians also holds that their messiah will come forth amidst an apocalypse to rule the world. What’s your point? If you’re saying that having wacky fundamentalist “end times” beliefs should brand you as a non-rational actor, then that’s an interesting point and you should be explicit about it.

Given that, exactly how does having the Russians increase their support on economic sanctions from tepid to somewhat warm impact those cost-benefit analyses? That won’t have any impact on the regime.

Dehumanizing the enemy is often a goal of propagandists trying to gain support for a war. I’m not surprised to see it here.

orange on April 9, 2010 at 4:10 PM

What a crock. How did those cost benefit analyses work out for the old USSR? When the benefits are perceived as immeasurable, all costs become negligible.

TubbyHubby on April 9, 2010 at 5:23 PM

The proper question isn’t whether they are “rational” but whether we understand the outcome they are seeking, the prices they are willing to pay, and how their strategy fits those parameters.

We cannot base our notion of “rationality” on what WE thing is reasonable. We must understand our enemy, and understand what he values and desires. He will not be driven by our reason, but by his. We can only thwart him by defeating his reasoning, however defective it is on our terms.

At the end, Hitler decided that if he was to be defeated, the most important thing was to destroy the Jews. The second most important thing was to have Germany burn with him. Thwarting this malignent will required interdiction, not deterrence.

njcommuter on April 9, 2010 at 5:35 PM