A Hypothetical Scenario

It was early Tuesday morning in Tehran. Dawn was still hours away, and a cool desert breeze drifted between buildings and into open windows.  The city was quiet, lost in an uneasy sleep.  It had been a politically charged winter full of street protests, police crackdowns, political assassinations, and international posturing.  UN sanctions had been somewhat tempered by “covert” supply shipments from Russia, but shortages of everything from fuel to farm equipment were slowly starting to bleed the Iranian economy.  On this sleepy April morning, the Iranian government found itself on the verge of political collapse and desperate to preserve its power – at any cost.  In recent talks with the UN, Iranian leadership had once again refused to compromise on its “peaceful” nuclear program and the US and France had successfully led the charge for tougher sanctions. In addition, NATO had  just completed a well publicized blockade exercise in the North Arabian Sea.  To make matters worse, IRGC intelligence recently received reports that Israeli Mossad operatives were entering the country in record numbers. Despite repeated efforts to locate these insurgents, the IRGC had come up empty.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had also stirred the pot once again by referring to Israel as “a walking cemetery.”  World consensus was that something would happen very soon. Media pundits had been forecasting an Israeli led strike against Iran for the better part of two years but, to date, the planes had not come. For this Mahmoud was thankful, it had given him what he needed most – time.

What the world did not know, was that Iran had secretly started its uranium enrichment program quite a few years earlier than initially reported, and had actually constructed a bomb almost a year earlier than predicted.  What Iran needed however, was a way to deliver it.  A ballistic missile would be too vulnerable to Israeli missile defense systems, and the weapon they had built was not designed to fit into a missile payload.  An air strike was also out of the question because Iran simply did not have the capability to fly a bomber from Syria through Israeli air defenses.  The one thing that Iran did have however, was Hamas. For the past year, Al Qud and Hamas operatives had been smuggling the bomb into Israel in pieces and carefully reassembling it. It was now complete, operational, and in position. The Mossad had been alerted several times during the operation, but had been drawn off the trail by well orchestrated decoy smuggling missions.  The bomb was secure and the order to use it had been given by the Supreme Leader. This morning would truly be different than any other.

President Ahmadinejad knew the ramifications of detonating a nuclear bomb in Israel and wanted to make sure he had a solid plan. The detonation would be followed immediately by coordinated attacks from Syria, Gaza, and Lebanon.  Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian backed Syrian troops would flood into Israel under a heavy barrage of rocket fire and engage IDF ground forces.   Suicide bombers had also been infiltrating the country for months and were ready to wreak havoc on every major Israeli city. Mahmoud knew that the IDF would have significant technical superiority and would likely repel the waves of martyrs that would be thrown at them. In fact, he was prepared for it to be an outright slaughter.  He also knew that Israel would likely launch one or two nuclear weapons at Tehran in response. This was, in fact, his ultimate goal.  Mahmoud knew that even Iran could not destroy Israel single handedly, and that it would take a unified effort from all the regional powers to drive them into the sea. In the Supreme Leader’s view, Israel launching nuclear weapons against an Islamic state would be the ultimate act of war, and would unite Iran’s neighbors in the common cause of Israel’s destruction. Those who refused and kept their alignment with the west, would have such internal strife that their governments would be at risk of collapse.

Soon the global news channels would be filled with scenes of screaming Palestinian women crouched over their dead sons and daughters as Israeli tanks rolled by. Certainly, there would also be coverage of the carnage in Israel, but Mahmoud planned to deny openly that it was an Iranian bomb and perhaps even suggest that it was the Israelis who fired the first shot. The thought of such a blatant lie actually amused him. Soon the UN would be abuzz with accusations of war crimes and calls for restraint. Israel, fueled by anger, would refuse to stop the engagement, and Iran’s new martyr status would draw their Arabic neighbors into the fight.  This time surely Allah would be with them and Israel would fall into the sea. His commanders had hoped to wait a few more months before striking, but he knew that every day they waited, the Mossad was getting closer and closer.  Forces had been amassing on the border with Israel under the guise of an exercise for several weeks.  Israel was watching closely, but had no idea of what was coming.  At 4:35 am Tuesday morning, the doomsday clock struck midnight. It was time.

The bright ball of light that appeared in the sky south of Beersheba was not the sun.  It was the fireball from a 10 kiloton atomic bomb.  Iran had carefully picked this target for several reasons.  First and foremost was the damage it would do to Beersheba and its 190,000 innocent residents. Secondly, it was far enough from the Holy City that it would not destroy Al Aqsa.  Iran could not risk angering the people that they were trying to impress, so Jerusalem could not be damaged…yet.  The bomb was carried in a truck several miles south of town into the Negev to ensure that it was far enough away from the Holy City, and then manually detonated by a carefully chosen martyr.  The rocky Negev terrain instantly turned into a sea of molten sand and fire. News reports would later say that the explosion was felt as far away as Cairo. Within seconds the peaceful town of Beersheba lay in smoldering ruin. The great war had begun.

The one miscalculation that Iran made however, was the speed and ferocity of Israel’s response.  Air Force F-15’s were scrambled almost immediately from around the country and were in the air before the mushroom cloud to the south had finished rising.  They decimated pre-planned targets in the West bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.  Ground forces, having been in a constant state of alert for months, started a massive shelling of Hamas and Syrian strongholds. Almost immediately, advancing Syrian and Palestinian forces were put on the defensive and forward progress into Israel was stopped cold.  All around the country, bomb laden martyrs blew themselves up but, by that time, war-savvy Israeli citizens had barricaded themselves into their homes and bunkers limiting any real casualties.  Rockets rained down on Israeli towns, but their indiscriminate targeting posed more of a nuisance than a real military threat. Israel, had shown up to fight however, and was in the process of systematically destroying her adversaries. Fighting for her very survival, she pounced upon her attackers like an angry lioness. Never again would Israel fall…Never Again!

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, five pillars of fire rose into the sky. They ascended rapidly into the hazy dawn and arched out of sight.  Those who saw them wondered at their eerie beauty.  These were not the usual Qassam rockets that Israelis had become so accustomed to seeing.  These rockets were special, they were Israeli, and they were heading to the Northeast. Within the hour Iran was rocked with a series of cataclysmic explosions.  Tehran,  Bandar Abbas, Mushad, and Shiraz were in flames. Hundreds of thousands were incinerated as they lay in their beds.  Underground bunkers shook with the fury of  10 earthquakes but held up. Much of the nation’s communication infrastructure was immediately destroyed by EMP, but Iran’s Russian-built command and control systems were operating satisfactorily.  Slowly, reports began to trickle into their command centers that the ground assault on Israel, had not only been halted but was being pushed back in fierce fighting.  They also received reports that the Israeli jets were coming. Two squadrons were airborne and traveling 1,600 miles to conduct precision strikes against new targets deep in Iran, possibly with more atomic weapons. Operational air defense units equipped with modern Russian built TOR-M surface-to-air missiles were placed on high alert and directed to engage.

Then there was America. Iran’s leadership had calculated that President Obama would be slow to act, and would attempt to work for a ceasefire through the UN prior to launching any type of supporting strike on Iran.  They knew that Bush would not have waited, but Obama was something of a wildcard. President Mahmoud was betting that he was more of a sheep than a wolf. As for the Gulf, they would keep it open for the time being.  Perhaps the Americans would sail three or four carriers through the straits as a show of force. If they did, closing the door behind them would be much easier than closing it in front of them.  If the Americans chose to fight in the Persian gulf, Iran would use their corvettes, mine layers, and land launched anti-surface missiles to turn it into a deadly mousetrap.

There was a chance however, that things would not go as planned. Mahmoud and the IRGC commanders understood this risk and had presented a contingency plan to the Supreme Leader for approval.  Over the past several months Iran had moved a significant force to its southeastern border with Pakistan.  If necessary, they would respond by conducting a coordinated attack on the fragile Pakistani military with the Taliban forces in the north.  Their plan, surround Islamabad, and attempt to take possession of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, not to use, but rather to provoke India into a full scale preemptive strike.  The thought of having the Taliban in charge of Pakistani nuclear weapons was unthinkable to the Indians and they would stop at nothing, including nuclear war, to prevent this from happening. The US would be forced to intercede in order to gain control of Pakistani nukes before a second regional nuclear war ignited and overflowed. This would draw US forces too thin across Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and Pakistan to conduct any meaningful offensive against Iran.  Russia would also step in at this point and forbid the US from conducting a ground invasion. They would then take on a UN sanctioned peace broker roll while secretly sending arms and supplies to Iran.

Starting the war was a huge risk but, in Mahmoud’s mind, a well calculated one. So far, everything seemed to be going as planned. The damage from Israel’s nuclear counter-strike had been devastating, but acceptable.  Governments around the world were already meeting in emergency sessions. The UN Security Council was convening, and Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen had just publicly accused Israel of starting the conflict. Soon thousands would be in the streets for “staged” protests. CNN World News was capturing pictures of bombed out apartment buildings in Gaza, and President Obama had already issued an appeal to Israel for, “restraint in the face of tragedy.”  Things were going well. Mahmoud could not help but smile as he watched the news reports from deep inside his command bunker. Things were going very well indeed.

Head Muscle salutes our friends and allies in Israel, and wishes them Godspeed in the defense of their nation.

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11 thoughts on “A Hypothetical Scenario

  1. Hypothetical?

    Chuck, have you ever considered picking up the mantle that Tom Clancy has so unfortunately appeared to abandon?

    I don’t scare easily, but now you really have my attention.

  2. Thanks Maine,
    Unfortunately, the premise, plot, characters, capabilities, and motives are all “real life” here. The only thing I did was add a little creative writing for effect….spooky.

    • Tom Clancy had a very unsettling ability to predict some events in his novels well before they actually happened or before their potential became very real. His creative writing actually lent credibility to various scenarios.

      Imbuing current events with a bit of projection is certainly a great way of bringing the potential of disaster to everyone’s attention.

      Good on ‘ya, Mate!

  3. This is what gets ME.

    People don’t WANT to believe this scenario is even possible, much less probably.

    They counterclaim is that Iran would NEVER do this knowing the risks from us and Israel as well, or that their nuke program is “purely” defensive after seeing US involvement is Iraq.

    I think we should beg them to snap out of the slumber.

    Rhetoric like that of “president” Ahmadinejad, and his alliances with Chavez and other assorted nuts and fruits to me is not just about convenience as some kind of counterbalance. He could get that sympathy from our European “allies.”

    It is evidence of his tyrannical ambitions. He might not attack. Or not right away. Or bide his time and use nukes to garner power.

    But either way your scenario is all the scarier for having plausiblity, IMO.

    PS–I found this from Networked Blogs. Looks like you’re up and running!

  4. There are actually many “plausible” scenarios, and it does not take a creative genius to come up with them. From Pakistan and India, to North Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, and Chechnya there are really endless permutations and combinations of the same basic crisis.

    Our worst enemy is not Islam, but rather denial. In his book “Fear Less” Gavin de Becker very accurately states:

    “…denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.”

    His point being that a realist approach may be more expensive and more controversial in the short run, but denial ultimately costs more in the long run…much more. What we have in office right now are the very deniers that Becker speaks of. It is scary and it does ultimately make the crash from Hypothetical Scenarios, like this one, even more dramatic. Someone could devote an entire blog post on the risks of denial.

  5. Ditto that…everywhere, Chuck.

    Everything that Modernity suffers from in the liberalized Western World can perhaps be traced to the sin of Denialism.

    From this flows our other problems in the PC, Multi-Culti state that in turns does not allow us to even offer the age old prescription or tag of “evil”–rather, those issues that “are not yet resolved”, etc., “lack of communication” or “trans-cultural appreciation”, etc.

    When in fact the message that portends doom for the West has been in wide circulation for decades.

    We choose to ignore at our peril.

  6. Very Interesting Chuck, this scenario had once entered the minds of innocent Cubans and innocent Americans, when the bearded one tried to achieve that very same goal on October of 1962. I was not in Cuba when that happened, I was in Spain impatiently concerned but my parents were there. Contemplating the very feeling most of us are experiencing right now after reading your surreal but very possible account. In Cuba, it wasn’t so dramatic as your scenario because there was still time available for stoppage but the feeling of uselessness was surely there. Excellent Job!

    • Jose,
      Interesting parallel with Cuba most certainly. As you point out, the difference was that the Cuban Missile Crisis took place in a bi-polar cold war environment where the US had the ability to stand the adversary down. It appears that we “may” not have the same influence with Iran, especially if they are unofficially backed by Russia.

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