Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 141125
We’ve Never Found Anything Successfully Hidden
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
November 25, 2014
We seem to be in a rut. As for the past two Thanksgivings, my email message again considers our hapless foreign policy in dealing with Iran. We are again, for the second time, extending the talks, to what objective is unclear. After a bit of review, consider what it takes to achieve a meaningfully verifiable agreement with Iran to block their path to a nuclear weapon. Then we’ll reflect on the Thanksgiving tradition.
Two Years Ago.
My November 28, 2012 message was actually a New York Post article by UN Ambassador John Bolton (also carried on the American Enterprise Institute webpage), in which he argued that Iran was “sitting prettier,” with more of a “strategic advantage” from the recent Israel-Hamas hostilities—after a cease fire the preceding week. (Hamas is an ally of and supported by Iran.) As the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported on November 16, Tehran’s extensive nuclear program was continuing its rapid progress while Iran was stonewalling IAEA inspectors.
Two years ago, Bolton argued that there was no doubt where Iran is headed, and that the mullahs’ priority was whether Israel has the will and the capability to attack Iran’s nuclear-weapons program and ultimately their nuclear delivery systems. The press gave most attention to Hamas’ terrorist aggression, launching over 1,500 rockets against Israel’s civilian population. But Tehran’s central concern was the small number of the Iranian-supplied longer range Fajr-5 missiles targeted on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem—and whether Israel could defeat them. The November clashes provided a combat environment for Iran to test-fire the Fajr-5s from Gaza.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system performed extremely well—as my High Frontier message had discussed the preceding week (and also in National Review Online). Bolton aptly noted this was a palpable reminder to Americans (especially to President Obama, a long-term opponent of national missile defense for the United States) of the importance of this capability.
But Iran also learned a good deal about Iron Dome — and in the never-ceasing struggle between offense and defense, will be better prepared for having had this “dry run” against Israeli defenses. Israel, of course, continues to improve its missile defense systems against both rockets and longer range ballistic missiles.
Bolton also referred to the then corruption in Egyptian security forces and the long history of failed efforts to stop smuggling into Gaza, and noted that Hamas likely has little to fear. He thought that Iran could almost certainly provide more Fajr-5s, and perhaps more-sophisticated versions Iran’s own military deploys; press reports indicated the resupply was already underway.
On Thanksgiving 2012, one day after the cease-fire, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi showed his contempt for America and Europe by moving decisively toward authoritarian rule seeking to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood’s authority in Cairo—a benefit to Hamas and Iran, and a detriment to Israel, and us. (Thankfully, Obama’s man Morsi has been replaced, and there is some hope that things may be improving in Egypt—stay tuned.)
In any case, Iran’s ally Hamas obtained a much stronger position and Tehran continued its deliberate efforts to acquire nuclear weapons in keeping with the mullahs’ grand strategy. Bolton concluded by noting that it would be nice if Obama had one. Sounds current.
One Year Ago.
Last year, my November 28, 2013 Thanksgiving message noted that it was helpful to recall the words of leaders who found humor in difficult times, like Winston Churchill, who has been quoted as saying words to the effect that “The Americans will do the right thing, after they have exhausted the alternatives.”
I hoped we were approaching that phase with Iran, especially given the administration’s alleged “historic agreement” worked out the preceding weekend—more aptly referred to as a “historic mistake” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a “sucker deal” by the French Foreign Minister. There wasn’t even a stutter step in Iran’s march to a nuclear weapons capability. Iran did not “freeze” its processing as some claimed—or hit the “pause button” rather than the “delete button” as former CIA Director Hayden claimed on CNN.
At most, the pace changed . . . the time to “break out” and gain a nuclear capability was thought perhaps to have doubled, from what some already had judged to be as little as a couple of months. And the U.S. implicitly concurred with Iran’s right to continue processing nuclear material. It is no wonder there was Iranian cheering the streets of Tehran.
I noted that the Obama administration had set a terrible precedent from which we might not recover in time to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear capability. And not only Israel may suffer from that strategic error.
So . . . we were supposed to reach an agreement last summer—then it was deferred to November 24th—and last Monday we kicked the can again—until next June.
As I wrote last week in quoting Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” And the clock keeps on ticking. Hopefully, the new congress will find a way to reject the Obama administration’s diplomatic approach for dealing with Iran.
At a minimum they should insist on more sanctions to squeeze the mullahs and their regime. And as soon as possible they should insist on building the Keystone Pipeline and taking other measures to reduce the price of oil—to curtail Iran’s (and others’) source of revenue.
As soon as possible, they should also support efforts to build effective ballistic missile defenses and, among other things, to harden the electric power grid to counter Iran’s potential of launching an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could ultimately lead to the death of most Americans
We’ve Never Found Anything Successfully Hidden.
The Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) for Verification in the early 1970s, Amron Katz, was a stickler for insisting on realistically considering how adversaries, in those days primarily the Soviet Union, could cheat on agreements. And they did cheat—on every agreement they signed, as has the successor Russian regime as far as I know.
To prod others toward applying rigor in the verification process, Amron often chided that “We never found anything that the Soviets successfully hid.” Thus he argued that we should understand how they might successfully hide “illegal” activities—and work to avoid those traps.
The Carter administration disbanded Amron’s Verification Bureau and produced an unverifiable Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) Treaty—which never entered into force, thanks to Senate opposition and the Reagan administration that was not impressed by agreements for agreement sake—as had largely been the case with SALT beginning in the late 1960s.
President Reagan famously insisted, “Trust but verify”—a motto of his administration.
The Reagan administration re-established the Verification Bureau and Amron’s rigorous approach returned to our negotiations, led by Dr. Fred Eimer. As director of the Strategic Forces Bureau and then as President Reagan’s negotiator with the Soviets, I worked with Fred to follow Amron’s mandate by insisting that verification be more rigorously addressed than had been the case in earlier negotiations with the Soviets.
Among other things, this insistence led to the rejection of negotiations to ban weapons in space—an unverifiable objective that continues to rear its ugly head in various forms. (See the recent article by Rebeccah Heinrichs highlighting a November 12th letter from Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose reiterating their disapproval of a treat limiting U.S. action in space, and asking for information regarding a possible agreement the administration is seeking with countries like China and Russia—without consulting with the Senate. Hear, hear!)
I believe we made progress during those years, because we insisted on rigorous analyses of the terms of potential agreements and how they might be violated—before they were tabled. Central to those rigorous analyses were “plausible cheating scenarios,” where we considered specific ways that terms considered for agreement might be circumvented. This approach was adhered to for the INF and START Treaties, but I believe was abandoned for New START.
In any case, such a standard should be attached to any agreement with Iran.
Where to start?
I’d recommend study of a November 22nd New York Times article by David Sanger and William Broad, entitled “In Iran Talks, U.S. Seeks to Prevent a Covert Weapon.” As they said, the objective is “how to design an agreement to maximize the chances that Western intelligence agencies would catch any effort to develop an atomic bomb at a covert site.”
My only serious criticism of their article is that they should not have limited their consideration to avoiding covert development sites, though that is a serious and top priority concern. Included should be other issues, such as: Constraints on Iran’s ability to deliver a nuclear weapon if they get one; and measures to prevent an Iranian Plutonium bomb—most attention has been paid to uranium bombs. As previously noted, India and North Korea achieved their first nuclear bombs with Plutonium designs.
I’d also argue that we should constrain Iranian efforts to launch satellites—especially over the south polar region. We should seek a prelaunch inspection of the satellite’s payload to assure that it is not a nuclear weapon that could be detonated above the United States to produce an electromagnetic pulse. The IAEA could perform this inspection with sensors that can detect nuclear radiation associated with a nuclear weapon. And if there is no agreement, we should be prepared to shoot that satellite down before it can overfly the United States.
If our negotiators rigorously pursue such objectives—and actually stick to them, then there is a chance—perhaps a slim one—that verifiable agreements might be reached. Otherwise, the recent decision to kick the can to next June will achieve no useful constraint on Iran’s ambitions to achieve a nuclear weapon.
Remember the True Meaning of Thanksgiving.
Recall the first Thanksgiving of that small band of Puritans in Massachusetts, reflecting an early variant of the American tradition of eventually getting it right after exhausting the alternatives.
For two years following their arrival in America they struggled under an attempt to govern according to the aspirations of Plato’s Republic—not only to be religiously devout, but also in a community based on communal sharing and social altruism. All would share in common—no private property or entrepreneurship.
It didn’t work out well, as recorded in the diary of William Bradford. They cleared land and worked the land, but they had no great harvest and the spirit of brotherhood withered. As he recorded, there was no incentive of individuals to work hard since they were all to share equally in the products of the corporate labor. Initially, the lazy did not work—but eventually even the industrious also lost interest and worked less.
After two years of this failure of socialism/communism, Bradford and the elders of the colony realized they were on the edge of extinction. So they decided to try something radically different: They assigned private property rights for divided parcels of land and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor. And Plymouth colony flourished! Not only did the produce satisfy the needs of each family, there was plenty to share with others—individuals instituted trading according to their individual talents and the community prospered.
Thus was born American free enterprise, and benefits that far outpaced the attempt to “spread the wealth” and for government to plan and regulate people’s lives, per the utopian fantasy in Plato’s Republic. The Pilgrim Fathers tried and soon realized its bankruptcy and failure as a way for living together in society. And they fostered the innovative idea that when men and women are allowed to follow their own individual and family interests in improving their circumstances, all benefit. That was why they gave thanks on that first Thanksgiving.
And for Today?
In the wilderness of the New World, the Plymouth Pilgrims progressed from the false dream of communism to the sound realism of capitalism. In our time of economic uncertainty, it is worthwhile recalling this beginning of the American experiment and experience with freedom.
This Thanksgiving, we should remember the birth of free enterprise in the New World of America—and the subsequent founding of our great nation. We need to thank God for these blessings, and commit ourselves to seeing them renewed and preserved.
There are obvious implications of the Plymouth colony experience that cry out for America not to sink into an abyss of socialism. Beyond these spiritual concerns, there are existential physical threats that the powers that be need to address to protect all we hold dear. As we give thanks for all the blessings we have, we should pray that the Sovereign of the Universe meets our future needs. As Benjamin Franklin notably advised during the birth of our nation,
“I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel.”
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
It should be clear that, when coupled with their already existing ballistic missile and satellite launch capability, the advent of a nuclear capable Iran enables them with an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat that could return the United States to an 18th century existence—without the amenities of that agrarian society. Standby for the results of an anticipated satellite launch by Iran’s ally, North Korea.
As time may be running out for effective U.S. action, we will continue to inform all who will listen about the existential EMP threat and how to counter it.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
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