A few years ago the Clinton Administration’s National Security Council and Department of Defense team had a big surprise. On Aug. 24, 1998, Gen. Hugh Shelton, a very decent and honest man, serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a letter to Sen. Jim Inhofe stating that there was at least a three-year warning of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile threat, such as Taepo Dong-2. Essentially, Shelton was supporting President Clinton’s position for very slow development of U.S. missile defense.
Unfortunately, on Aug. 31, 1998, a three-stage North Korean missile was launched over Japan and splashed down much closer to America than anyone liked. So much for the three-year window. Even though the launch might have been a three-stage Taepo Dong-1, the distinction did not matter to Japan or our fellow citizens in Alaska and Hawaii.
To be very fair to the U.S. intelligence community, it is very tough to identify threats to America. As diligent and as hard as they work, there will always be indicators after an attack that it was going to take place. From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, there is always 20/15 hindsight, usually exploited by politicians. Of course, the intelligence community (as with every branch of government) can always do better, but they are true professionals who try very hard to get it right.
Ironically, the intelligence community maybe suffering from a Hollywood image problem. The presentation of the murky world of intelligence is usually just the opposite of most movies and TV shows that trash government. We all wish the world of Tom Clancy, James Bond and Jack Bauer is real and as good as shown. Of course some of the great success will never be known because an intelligence team with action-oriented insight might have stopped something very bad.
In looking at how foolish we were in gusesstamating Kim Jung Il’s intentions in 1998, the president of Iran’s intentions are infinitely easier to figure out. He is telling everyone in the world what he is doing. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed all doubt by declaring Israel must be destroyed. The only question is how much time before he achieves his stated goal.
In future attack scenarios against America, for example, a crippling cyber attack by the People’s Republic of China would take place in almost slow motion, meaning hours, days and weeks. Even in a worst-case scenario, a massive move by Red China on Taiwan would be measured in hours.
Unfortunately, a missile from Iran to Israel with a nuke warhead is measured in minutes and seconds. This is why the entire free world should make sure the strategic forecasting mistakes made by the United States in August 1998 are not repeated.
Currently, some are making the argument that Iran is five years away from a nuke. Tragically, those making the five-year argument are betting the future of the entire Middle East and millions of lives on the accuracy of their guess. It should be noted that no one, even those counseling pure diplomacy, believes Iran is involved in atomic research simply for power generation.
Others who say development is imminent run the risk of advocating the death of hundreds in striking Iran. The current middle ground apparently is jaw jaw jaw, while waiting for Iranian dissidents to initiate regime change. But, as Churchill said, that will lead to war war war, and again at a minimum hundreds will still die.
Thankfully, it appears the Israelis are not watching the cable news debates. They are taking no chances by announcing they are creating a combat force to deal with Syria and Iran. They have accurately figured out the butchers’ bill of using bunker busters against weapons sites manned by scientists, engineers and military officials who are developing the next round of Holocaust weapons. If taken out, hopefully the free world will conclude, the thugs had it coming.
Weigh this logic against Israel’s taking a nuke strike on Mount Zion and then their immediate and appropriate retaliation. This exchange will kill millions of innocent civilians with no distinction—Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Israel has every right to sound battle stations. They have no choice as a matter of national survival, and as it is often said in the Marines, “Good on them.”