Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

Post by johnkarls »


Question 1

How close is Iran to producing atomic weapons?

Answer 1

Most estimates = about a year.

Question 2

What 8 Arab countries are expected to go nuclear as soon as Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran) does?

Answer 2

Egypt, Turkey and The “Gulf State Six” (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman).

Question 3

What would happen to the world’s population if Middle East oil supplies suddenly became radioactive?

Answer 3

All airplanes and virtually all surface vehicles run on fuels made from oil & gas. Fuel oil (aka “resid” aka diesel) is used to heat most of the Eastern U.S. and many other areas of the world. Virtually all of the world’s fertilizers come from oil & gas (which is why it is so explosive – one of the favorite bomb-making materials of terrorists).

According to the C.I.A. ( > Publications > The World Factbook > Guide to Country Comparisons > Economy - Oil Production), worldwide oil production is 90,034,930 barrels/day, of which 24,896,660 barrels/day (27.7%) is produced in the Middle East and 18,213,265 barrels/day (20.2%) is produced “down wind” from the Middle East (e.g. the “stans” and Indonesia).

Since demand is so impervious to price, even small supply disruptions of less than 5% throw the world economy into chaos.

Incidentally, it is tempting to “think like an ostrich” that the U.S. imports most of its oil from Canada and Latin America and, therefore, shouldn’t have to worry.

Unfortunately, the U.S. “ostrich” consumes 19.5 million barrels/day of oil and produces only 8.5 million barrels/day = 43.6% and imports 56.4%.

So if worldwide oil production is suddenly cut by 47.9% by a nuclear war in the Middle East, the U.S. “ostrich” is going to have to “pull its head out of the sand” and “pay through the nose” like everyone else – or it will find that ALL OF THE OIL IT USED TO IMPORT is going to Europe, Japan and the rest of the world.

Although “yours truly” has seen no estimates on what percentage of the world’s population would be unable to survive a 47.9% cut in world oil supplies, the fact that a less-than-5% reduction throws the world economy into chaos suggests that the percentage of the world’s population that would perish in the short term would exceed 47.9%.

Question 4

What 3 “lines in the sand” do James Lindsay and Ray Takeyh (the authors of our Foreign Affairs article posted on our bulletin board = propose the Obama Administration draw with Iran as soon as it begins producing atomic weapons?

Answer 4

Lindsay and Takeyh propose in the Foreign Affairs article –

(1) “no initiation of conventional warfare” against another nation;
(2) “no transfer of nuclear weapons, materials, or technologies”; and
(3) no increase in support for terrorists.

Lindsay and Takeyh say the penalty would have to include “military retaliation by any and all means necessary,” including the use of nuclear weapons.

Question 5

The NY Times article (which is also posted on our bulletin board) notes that these “lines in the sand” would have no credibility with the Iranians – why not?

Answer 5

The U.S. government, including the Obama Administration, has repeatedly said it will not tolerate Iran acquiring nuclear weapons!!! So why should Iran pay any attention to any new “lines in the sand”???

Moreover, if the U.S. government wouldn’t attack Iran when it didn’t have nuclear weapons, why would Iran believe for a minute that the U.S. would attack a now-nuclear Iran to enforce any new “lines in the sand”???

Question 6

Hillary Clinton has proposed since the 2007-08 U.S. Presidential primary campaign extending the U.S. nuclear umbrella to “The Gulf State Six” in order to prevent them from going nuclear as soon as Iran goes nuclear – what are the 4 requirements for such a policy to succeed?

Answer 6

Taking Oman (one of “The Gulf State Six”) as an example –

1. Oman must believe that the U.S. is willing to suffer a nuclear holocaust for the sake of Oman.

2. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei must believe that the U.S. is willing to suffer a nuclear holocaust for the sake of Oman.

3. Oman must believe that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei believes that the U.S. is willing to suffer a nuclear holocaust for the sake of Oman.

4. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei must NOT be like Fidel Castro (please see Q&A 10 & 11 below).

Question 7

Did Charles de Gaulle have any faith in the American nuclear umbrella?

Answer 7


He pulled France out of NATO and developed French nuclear weapons because he didn’t think that the old Soviet Union would believe for a minute that the U.S. would be willing to suffer a nuclear holocaust for the sake of France if the Soviet Union attacked Western Europe with its overwhelming advantage in conventional weapons.

Question 8

What would have happened to Israel 37 years ago if it had had any faith in the American nuclear umbrella?

Answer 8

It would have become the answer to a trivia question = What WAS Israel?

Pulitizer-Prize Author Seymour Hersh records in his book “The Samson Option” that when Egypt and Syria launched their surprise attack on Yom Kippur in 1973, Syrian tanks were rolling through Israel virtually unimpeded because the Israelis were rationing their meagre ammunition supplies (Henry Kissinger had refused to re-supply ammunition for more than a year because he was so disgusted with the way Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had been heaping abuse on Arab diplomats since the 1967 war). Finally, Prime Minister Golda Meir convened the cabinet – (1) to reaffirm their long-standing policy that if the point was reached that Israel had fewer than 24 hours to go to complete annihilation, they would fire their 7 nuclear missiles (they were trained on Russian cities rather than Arab capitals because Israel recognized that the Soviet Union had been inflaming Arab opinion against Israel since its independence for strategic oil reasons), and (2) to formally decide that that point had been reached. Seymour Hersh does not record the identity of the minister who suggested that a cable be sent immediately to Kissinger to provide a “heads up” on “what was going down” within a matter of minutes. Kissinger was available to receive the cable and immediately cabled back: “Commence firing as if there is no tomorrow – the re-supply planes will take off at dawn.” The Israelis did begin firing “as if there were no tomorrow,” the re-supply planes did take off at dawn, the Israeli-Syrian front lines stabilized, and Israel did not become the answer to that trivia question – all because Kissinger didn’t want 7 Russian cities destroyed by Israeli nuclear weapons!!!

Question 9

Who is Iran’s Supreme Leader?

Answer 9

Ayatolla Ali Khamenei.

Question 10

Is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei similar to Fidel Castro?

Answer 10


Question 11

Why is it important whether Ayatollah Khamenei is similar to Fidel Castro?

Answer 11

When Glasnost (“openness”) became Soviet policy in the late 1980’s under Mikhail Gorbachev, vast previously-classified Soviet governmental archives were made public, including the cable traffic between Fidel Castro and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962!!!

When U.S. spy satellites discovered the Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and President Kennedy imposed a naval blockade of Cuba, Fidel Castro cabled Nikita Khrushchev to say that in the course of human history come pivotal moments at which someone is willing to make a sacrifice to achieve an important goal AND THAT HE, FIDEL CASTRO, WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF AND THE CUBAN PEOPLE FOR THE SAKE OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNISM BY FIRING ALL OF THE SOVIET NUCLEAR MISSILES IN CUBA AT THE UNITED STATES (with the observation that “mopping up” the United States afterwards should be a fairly simple matter for the Soviet Union).

And essentially Khrushchev’s reaction to all of his underlings was: “Who is this mad man and who gave this mad man custody of any of my nuclear buttons??? -- Get my missiles the hell out of Cuba!!!” Of course, being a superb negotiator, Khrushchev maintained a good “poker face” and extracted from the U.S. the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey that were trained across the Black Sea at the Soviet Union, in exchange for his promise to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba which he was going to do anyway for his own reasons.

So is Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who loves to say frequently (among other outrageous things) that the reason why he is acquiring nuclear weapons is to destroy Israel – (A) more like the old Soviet leaders all of whom started life as peasants and deeply loved the Russian people, or (B) more like Fidel Castro who was willing to cause the annihilation of himself and his people for some Grand Idea???

Question 12

If “The Gulf State Six” + Egypt + Turkey decided that Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran) going nuclear would be intolerable, do they have the military capability of eliminating its nuclear facilities?

Answer 12


As we have discussed in the past, Iran has approximately 500 nuclear installations, most of which are buried too deeply below the surface to be vulnerable to even the largest conventional bombs.

Accordingly, the military requirement would be 500 simultaneous commando raids that would capture and hold each installation for a sufficient number of minutes for a demolition team to descend the elevators (or ventilation shafts, etc.) to blow up the installations.

Presumably the commando raids could be launched from Saudi Arabia or, taking a page from President Carter’s attempt to rescue our diplomats who had been captured along with our Embassy in Tehran, from a temporary base established in the Iranian desert.

(Presumably the Arabs will do a bit more research than President Carter’s team which located their base next to a highway from which it was spotted by an Iranian school bus, and presumably the Arabs will have a bit more fortitude than to “pull the plug” when a sand storm renders inoperable the spare helicopters on the grounds that “you shouldn’t drive a car without a spare tire”!!!)

Question 13

What would be the reaction of Arab public opinion if the 8 Arab countries did eliminate the nuclear capability of Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran)? In formulating your answer, please consider that only one of the 8 (Turkey) is a functioning democracy and that one of Al Qaeda’s core raison d’être’s is that the governments of the Arab oil-producing states (primarily The Gulf State Six) are dictatorships that allegedly do not act in the best interests of their people.

Answer 13

Who knows??? Chances may be good that there would be Arab solidarity.

Question 14

What would be the reaction of Non-Arab Muslim opinion (most of the Muslim world is Non-Arab) if the 8 Arab countries eliminated the nuclear capability of Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran)?

Answer 14

Who knows??? But it may be one of relief, since most of the world’s Non-Arab Muslims live down-wind from the Persian Gulf and could expect to be wiped out by radioactivity from any nuclear exchange in the P.G.

Question 15

Are Arab public opinion and Non-Arab-Muslim public opinion unimportant except insofar as terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda might use an attack on Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran) as a recruiting tool? Against whom would the anger be directed?

Answer 15

Probably not. Probably against Egypt, Turkey and The Gulf State Six.

Question 16

In considering your answers to Questions 14 and 15, what was the long-term impact on Arab public opinion and Non-Arab Muslim opinion when Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Osirak on 7 June 1981? Syria’s nuclear facilities on 16 September 2007?

Answer 16

There was surprisingly little reaction to either. Which only goes to prove that public opinion is very short lived unless it is constantly inflamed. Though the Old Soviet Union, Iran and Al Qaeda have all been very good at continually inflaming opinion.

Question 17

It would appear that North Korea’s obtaining nuclear weapons has been treated with “benign neglect” from Washington – except for its policy of trying to prevent North Korea from selling nuclear materials and nuclear “know how” to terrorist organizations. Are there any drawbacks to this policy in the case of North Korea?

Answer 17

Trying to intercept shipments of nuclear materials on the high seas must, of necessity, be a “hit and miss” proposition that depends upon how good our intelligence is at any particular moment.

Trying to intercept shipments of nuclear materials that are sent by air freight is probably impossible.

First, there have been no news reports of the U.S. shooting down cargo planes carrying nuclear materials from North Korea – so are we to think that sending the materials by air freight has never occurred to the North Koreans???

Second, both Russia and China have vetoed taking any meaningful action against North Korea at the U.N. Moreover, since China supplies much of North Korea’s energy and food supplies, it could bring North Korea to its knees within a matter of hours. Accordingly, even if the U.S. were willing to shoot down North Korean cargo planes over international waters, North Korean cargo planes could reach, say, the Middle East by flying over only Chinese or Russian air space.


Question 18

Would there be any drawbacks to extending Washington’s policy of “benign neglect” to Non-Arab Persia (aka Iran)?

Answer 18

There are at least three drawbacks and you may be able to think of more.

First, unlike Japan and South Korea which seem to have resigned themselves to a nuclear North Korea without going nuclear themselves – Egypt, Turkey and The Gulf State Six are each expected to go nuclear as soon as Iran does.

Second, if there were a nuclear exchange involving North Korea, down wind from North Korea (except for Japan - which is not intended to sound crass) is 7,000 miles of Pacific Ocean. In contrast, as discussed above, a nuclear exchange in the Persian Gulf would make radioactive 27.7% of the world’s oil supplies that come from the Middle East and another 20.2% that are down wind.

Third, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei loves to say that he is developing nuclear weapons because he intends to use them, at least on Israel which he loves to call “a one-bomb state.” Israel is estimated to have approximately 500 nuclear weapons, many of which are located on nuclear submarines. Even North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, since succeeding his father in 1994, has never sounded that wild!!!

Question 19

Isn’t all the talk about extending America’s nuclear umbrella to Egypt and Turkey and The Gulf State Six merely a “fig leaf” for extending America’s policy of benign neglect, though one might argue over whether the neglect is benign or malign?

Answer 19


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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Relevance of James Michener's "Poland" to Q&A 13 & 14

Post by johnkarls »

Q&A 13 & 14 pose a very interesting question on which James Michener’s “Poland” has some bearing.

The interesting question = does nationalism trump solidarity vis-à-vis other issues, such as Arab solidarity or Muslim solidarity.

In “Poland” James Michener records that at the end of WW-I, the Russian Revolution produced a never-before-seen Red Army that began to roll across Russia and other components of the Russian Empire (e.g., Ukraine).

And as it did so, it gathered mass and momentum, for a classic “snow ball” effect!!! Because as it reached each new area, the workers would rise and join the burgeoning Red Army!!!

The “snow balling” Red Army sent shivers through Western capitals -- and even London fretted whether the English Channel would be a sufficient barrier to stop the Red Army!!!

London–Paris–Etc. need not have fretted!!! Nationalism stopped the Red Army!!! When it reached Poland, the Polish workers rose in nationalist fervor to halt the Russian Red Army in its tracks!!! Apparently, the Polish workers believed that they would be treated by new Russian masters no better, and probably worse, than their Polish masters -- despite the fact that the new Russian masters would also be proletarian.

So for Non-Arab Muslim nations, most of which are located down wind from the Middle East, and even for those Arab nations that are not located down wind but would be sophisticated enough to worry about how a majority of the world’s population perishing in short order from a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East might affect them, there might be a nationalist sigh of relief rather than Muslim indignation.

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