Strategic thinkers and planners in government and international business have long had a lot to consider regarding the Middle East. Weighing the range of complicated and overlapping issues – such as oil resources, water rights, military power, religious conflict, territory disputes, economic and educational disparities, foreign alliances, to name a few – it is daunting to devise contingency strategies in preparation for the potential of changed circumstances. By 2010, a host of new military and weapons-related issues have emerged, the most problematical being Iran’s steady and stealthy pursuit to secure the capability to construct and deliver nuclear weapons.
Various scenarios can be envisioned if Iran uses its enrichment sites to produce weapons-grade products from nuclear material shipped to Iran by Russia (and possibly other countries) after incorporating technology and materials likely obtained from China, North Korea and others to develop a deliverable weapons system. Logically, corporations and governments with strong interests in the region should plan what they will do in the event the nuclear situation in the region is changed given the impact on political and economic issues. Clearly, Israel would be under greater threat from a nuclear- armed Iran given Tehran’s past posturing about the destruction of Israel, the links between Iran and Hamas/Hezbollah, the stresses within the Iranian regime, and its leaders’ need for organized diversion at home to distract from domestic problems. Two core questions emerge: what would Israel do about a nuclear-armed Iran, and how should businesses and governments prepare to adjust their strategies in response to likely scenarios? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program is central to protecting and defending Israel. Therefore, strategic planners must consider that Israel will, in some way, halt Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons perhaps with an overt air strike or covert sabotage — with or without the tacit acceptance of the United States and other international players.
Taking these thoughts a step farther, if Israel acts unilaterally to destroy Iranian nuclear weapons development, then much of the Middle East calculus in oil, business, foreign policy and military dynamics will change rapidly. Against this backdrop, the time to think through options and develop contingency plans for various scenarios is now while there is still time to weigh carefully alternatives and reasonable options. While government and military planners constantly consider all options as a matter of course, corporations, both large and small, are often less equipped or inclined to consider alternatives before events actually demand change. Best intelligence (and business) practices suggest that corporate leaders and strategists (calling upon internal and external resources) should consider likely Israeli-Iranian scenarios and their outcomes. With such analyses in hand, corporate managers can quietly work, if necessary with other professionals, to solidify corporate contingency strategies in advance of a potentially altered Middle East landscape. Now is the time for contingency planning.
CONTRIBUTOR: OptionsInt is our newest contributor. They are a security consulting firm made up retired U.S. intelligence officers with years of worldwide operational experience. They currently use their expertise to consult with U.S. corporations and government on matters of operational security training and support. We appreciate their insightful observations and look forward to hearing more from them periodically.