Q&A Friday #29: 4 What-If Scenarios

Question: “What are your “what-if” scenarios for US involvement in any or all of the following situations?

1. Israeli strike on Iranian nuke facilities.
2. Iran nuking Israel.
3. Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
4. Total economic collapse in North Korea.” — Mike_M

Answers: Out of order..

2) The Iranians will — if we’re lucky — never get this opportunity. But, if the kooks who run that country ever launched a nuclear weapon at Israel, you could expect the Israelis to retaliate by nuking all of Iran’s population centers.

Our role would be to stay clear of the fall-out, take in as many displaced Israelis as we could, and try to deal with the ramifications of having two nations in the Middle-East — one that’s a close ally and the other that has a lot of oil — essentially annihilated. Not. A. Lot. Of. Fun.

3) War between China and Taiwan means war between the US and China with potential nuclear saber rattling. The economic and military consequences for all 3 nations would be staggering, which is why it’s vitally important that the combined Taiwanese and America capabilities in the area should always be significantly greater than what China can muster. The day the Chinese become strong enough to win outright is the day they start seriously considering it. Better to let Taiwan have nukes than to ever get in that position.

4) North Korea is perpetually in sorry shape and a military coup or complete collapse is always possible. That would likely be much more of a problem for the Chinese and South Koreans than us unless it became so chaotic that their nuclear weapons became unaccounted for. In fact, this could even be a positive scenario for us because a new leader would likely be more reasonable than Kim Jung-Il. We should actually be more worried about Musharraf being assassinated or overthrown by Islamic radicals in Pakistan.

1) I saved this one for last because it’s the most likely scenario in the near term. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs who run Iran are dangerous, fanatical, pro-terrorist fascists who might just be crazy enough to try to use a nuclear weapon on Israel or the United States.

Israel and for that matter, the United States, would be better off going to war with Iran than letting them get nukes — and since the international community is doing nothing more than paying lip service to stopping Iran’s nuclear program — it’s entirely possible things will come to a head sooner rather than later.

If and when Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear facilities around the country, you can expect Iran to retaliate by firing missiles at Israel and calling on their terrorist allies in Lebanon and the disputed territories to step up rocket attacks on Israel. That will of course prompt Israel to respond with overwhelming force, the Iranian people to become more nationalistic and supportive of their regime because of the attack (which would make a coup less likely), and it could possibly even lead to another full scale Middle-Eastern war.

While that would still be preferable to letting Iran have nuclear weapons, it would be a very dangerous and unpleasant situation for everyone involved, including the United States. Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible we may see exactly this sort of clash occurring in 2006.

*** Update #1 ***: Originally, in the last paragraph, this post said a clash between Israel and Iran could very well occur in 2007. That was a typo. It has now been corrected to read 2006.

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