' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2005 / 16 Elul 5765

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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A German veto?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Years ago, the peace movement came up with a catchy rhetorical question: "What if they had a war and nobody came?" Incredible as it may seem, the Pentagon may be poised to find out what happens if the U.S. military cannot get to a war without permission from an unlikely quarter: our sometime "ally," Germany.

Recent developments make it increasingly likely that America will have to use force to prevent the terrorist-sponsoring Islamofascist regime in Iran from wielding nuclear weapons against us, our interests and friends. The UN visit last week of the Iranian mullahs' handpicked president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made clear that his regime was not only determined to press ahead with its ever-less-secret nuclear weapons program. He also declared that Teheran was willing to share its "nuclear technology" with other Islamic states.

This brazenness has flummoxed the so-called European Union 3 — Britain, France and Germany — who have been trying to appease the Iranians into making empty promises to give up their nuclear ambitions. While there is some talk out of Europe about finally acceding to American demands to take the matter to the United Nations, don't hold your breath.

Even if the Europeans could screw up their courage to take such a step, Vladimir Putin and his Chinese friends have dug in their heels. The Iranians have been assured that Russia and China will prevent any unpleasantness — even economic sanctions, to say nothing of the authorization of the use of force — out of the UN.

Thus emboldened, Iran is intensifying its efforts to undo the liberation of Iraq. It is undermining bids for freedom in Afghanistan and Lebanon. And Teheran is helping ensure that the power vacuum created by Israel's surrender of Gaza will result in a new Islamofascist safe-haven for terror.

If this were not bad enough, the mullahocracy is taking steps that will enable it directly to threaten to do to the entire United States what Hurricane Katrina did to one region's electrical grid, energy resources, telecommunications systems and other infrastructure: Cripple them.

According to the 2004 report of a blue-ribbon commission tasked with assessing the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States, Iran has demonstrated the ability to conduct such a devastating strike. It has launched a short-range missile from a ship. It has also tested its new, medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile in a manner consistent with detonating a nuclear weapon in space — the scenario the EMP Threat Commission said could cause "catastrophic" damage to the U.S.

Now come published reports that the Iranians are not only obtaining the capability to go to war with the United States. They are persuading themselves that they can do so successfully.

The problem is that while such circumstances may compel the United States to act forcibly against Iran, it is not clear whether the Army, Navy and Office of the Secretary of Defense, and perhaps the Air Force, will be able to participate in any such operation.

It turns out that the first two of our armed services and the Pentagon's civilian bureaucracy rely upon a German software company called SAP to handle their administrative and logistics functions. All other things being equal, the Air Force may decide to follow suit by month's end.

As a result, any future military operation against Iran might have to be conducted exclusively by the U.S. Marine Corps. For that service alone has decided to use an American software firm to meet the information management needs associated with things like day-to-day operations, personnel, the location, storage and movement of weapons inventories, financial matters (like bank accounts) and other, often prosaic, but vital functions.

There are, of course, several things wrong with this situation. One is German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder — who, at this writing, may just manage to hold onto, or at least share, power after Sunday's inconclusive parliamentary elections. Schroeder previously exploited for electoral gain his vehement opposition to the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq. He tried to do so again with respect to Iran in the run up to the recent balloting, declaring: "Let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work."

Then, there is the problem that the company "distributes SAP solutions" in Iran. In fact, the sort of software it uses to support the U.S. military is available for sale to others with whom the German government has no problem doing business. Such ties could cause the company to be reluctant to help one customer destroy another. Or perhaps insights the Iranians glean from their access to SAP programs could facilitate cyber-warfare aimed at disabling ours.

Even if SAP were doing its job for the Pentagon competently — and successive Government Accountability Office reports demonstrate that it is not, it is foolish at best and reckless at worst to have our military dependent upon foreign suppliers for such critical functions. After taking testimony in July about such vulnerabilities, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter promised to hold oversight hearings about the armed services' seeming unconcern about relying upon possibly unreliable purveyors of vital components, materials and technology. They can't come too soon.

At the very least, the Marines could use help from the Air Force if it comes to blows with Iran. That may only be possible, however, if someone decides our airmen — unlike their Army and Navy counterparts — should be supported by software that doesn't give Germany a veto.

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2005, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.