I hope you all have enjoyed my thought experiment on Iran, Korea, and Syria over the past few days. It’s something that’s been rumbling around in my knoggin for a couple of weeks.
I started with the question “How is Iran, after all these years of economic and diplomatic subterfuge, going to make her entrance into the club of nuclear weapon capable nations?”. I assume that they will eventually do it, and my bones tell me it will be sooner rather than later. My guess is that they will try to make as big a splash as they can, both for domestic and foreign audiences, so I went with an atmospheric test that could be seen from Tehran.
Of course, that led to the “How do they think they’ll get away with that?” question, which led me to the attacks on civilians in the continental United States. We are an extremely open and trusting society, especially in suburbia, and if you were trying to knock an administration as sensitive to the domestic situation as this one is back on its heels, then striking at the soccer moms would work very well.
North Korea got mixed up in my scenario because of the reports that Iran is helping North Korea with its missile program, which is now believed to be capable of hitting the United States. I assume that if you can put an object into orbit, you can either de-orbit it at will or just have the missile and payload do a ballistic arc to a target on the other side of the Pacific. If Iran was to try to sucker punch us so that we wouldn’t respond to a nuclear test, then I don’t think it’s too hard of a stretch that they’d try to get the North Koreans to make a demonstration that would show that a response to Iran would have dire consequences to us.
I had the North Korean bomb go off over the South Pacific because I didn’t want to get into the debate on the feasibility of a “One Second After” scenario if it went off over the United States or Europe. Something going off above the ocean to the east of New Zealand would cause a lot of damage, but not so much that I’d have had to write a “We lost the eastern seaboard” scenario. It’s also where the North Korean satellite was orbiting the day I wrote that section.
As for the reaction of the United States, it took me a long time to decide how the administration would probably react to nuclear detonations on the part of Iran and North Korea. Would President Obama lash out emotionally and immediately rain nuclear warheads down on both countries? Would he try to cut a deal that headed off a conflict and basically shrugged our collective shoulders at the situation? In the end, I decided that he would try to allow diplomatic means to work, but in the end he would bow to pressure and ask for a declaration of war.
How we dealt with North Korea would be, to me, about right for response to a nuclear attack and preparations for another. How we dealt with Iran in my storyline is how my gut tells me Obama would do it. Overwhelming force against someone who has used a nuclear weapon against us and our allies and is probably preparing to to it again is not a stretch for the president. Using overwhelming force, either nuclear or conventional, against Iran, is outside his scope given the scenario I put forth. While I won’t posit that the president wouldn’t react to the attacks against civilians, I don’t think he has it in him to get the country involved in another mid-East conflict, even if it were wholly justified.
The Syria/Israel thing was an outgrowth of my thought experiment on Iran. How much havoc would it cause for the United States if Israel was retaliating with overwhelming force against Syrian attacks against its people with chemical weapons? In my mind, Tehran may have been hoping that Egypt and other Arab states and possibly Turkey would get involved, ripping a huge hole in our mid-east foreign policy and war making ability.
As for the feasibility of our people being hit like that, I don’t think it’s that big a stretch of the imagination. Like I said, we are an extremely open and trusting society. Someone who comes here with an accent or a different color of skin is usually at least tolerated, if not welcomed. An attentive family of middle eastern descent wouldn’t raise an eyebrow when they are picking up their kids after school or shopping at the mall. I got the idea for how Hezbollah got its people into the country from something that Bryan Suits mentioned on his podcast, and it makes sense. Hezbollah is indeed almost an arm of the Iranian government, and it is known to be active in Canada and South America. As much as people like to scream about how harsh our border policy is, the Mexican border isn’t that much more secure now than it was in 1995 when it was common to find debris and bodies out in the Arizona desert. The operatives in my story line that came in via Canada are based on how open our country is to immigration. Yes, legal immigration is difficult, but it can be done of you can get someone with a clean record and nothing but time, especially if they are a doctor or technology specialist. Openness to immigration has always been a source of our strength, but it could also be used against us if someone thought in terms of years and decades. Hiding a few thousand terrorists among the thousands of good people who have immigrated here since the early 1980′s wouldn’t be terribly difficult.
I also threw in something that’s been troubling me about our response to al Qaeda. We’ve concentrated on securing infrastructure for over a decade, but have paid nothing much beyond lip service toward securing the lives of those who use that infrastructure. Heck, large sections of the government and the media are doing their best to demonize those of us who believe that is our responsibility to provide our own security. America is a huge, juicy target, and we are basically hanging out there waiting for someone to try again. I don’t want a police state, but we have to recognize that continually preparing to defend against another 9/11 is going to leave us eternally open to another Madrid, London, Bali, or Mumbai. The FBI has made a habit out of enticing morons into trying a terrorist attack, but I haven’t heard anything about efforts to make sure that nation-state sponsored terrorists aren’t taking root here. We’ve spent 12 years defending against cave-dwellers, but are we ready to deal with the threat that a sovereign nation bent on doing us ill represents?
The Home Guard that I included is something that I believe would be very easy to institute in the wake of both terrorist and nuclear attacks. It’s been done before, with older men, women, and teenagers being used during both World Wars to watch beaches, railroads, and factories for saboteurs. Rather than see the DHS run roughshod over local law enforcement to improve security, I could see the governors instituting such a program of volunteer guards to be speed bumps and trip wires in the event of further attacks.
This story was more “The Third World War” than it was “Team Yankee“. Sorry, but I’ve never been good at characters and dialogue, so I stuck with what I can do. Like I said, I hope you enjoyed it. It definitely got some really dark thoughts out of my head.
Update – Drang has some excellent thoughts on unorganized militia.