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Tilting at Windmills

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January 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DEMS ON IRAN....Atrios is almost certainly right about this, but it still doesn't answer the question. At some point it seems likely that the choice George Bush will offer the nation regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions is either (a) leaky and ineffective sanctions or (b) air strikes. I don't like this choice, but that's probably what we're going to get anyway.

Of course, you never know. Maybe diplomacy will work and Iran will back down. But just in case it doesn't, Dems would be wise to start thinking about whether (a) or (b) or some hypothetical (c) is the right policy. And then, having thought about it, we can start figuring out how to persuade the American public that our choice is the right one.

We can gripe and complain about the perfidy of Karl Rove all we like, but it's idiocy not to think seriously about a subject that's at least 50% likely to be a major campaign issue. And the sooner the better.

Kevin Drum 2:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (334)

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Hey Kevin,

How about we tell the Iranians "If you stop pursuing nuclear weapons we will get rid of ours and stop developing new ones". Oh wait, we don't have to do that we have the moral high ground.

Posted by: no-thing on January 14, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer (c) - impeachment. That would make me feel a lot safer.

Posted by: craigie on January 14, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

What "diplomacy"? Actually talking to other groups (as opposed to threats of bombing or actual bombing) is an anathema to the Bush administration. Remember a while back when the Europeans were negotiating with Iran? Our State Department was be where to be found.

Posted by: ESaund on January 14, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

This Thursday's Guardian had a report with comments by some Iranian analysts. All is not lost

There is no issue in which everybody in the regime is united, but in this special case there is more unity than on any other," said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst based in Tehran. That was because the decision to break the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seals to restart work at the Natanz nuclear facility came from the supreme leader, he said. "Nuclear issues are absolutely separate from the government and I don't believe this is Mr Ahmadinejad's decision."

While western governments cast Tuesday's move as a serious step towards uranium enrichment and, ultimately, atomic weapons, analysts in Tehran argued that the regime's intentions were purely tactical.

Mr Leylaz said: "This is not the beginning of enrichment. But diplomatically it's very aggressive and intended to gain advantage for the Iranian side. We've had two plane crashes in the past month caused by American economic sanctions against Iran. Those accidents are forcing Iran to take a more aggressive stance towards the sanctions. The regime wants to start real negotiations with the US, because it doesn't think the Europeans are authorised to negotiate properly. This move is aimed at breaking the circle and getting America's attention."

Another analyst said: "This decision is about forcing the west to come up with something substantial and serious. Iran wants rewards for not turning its nuclear programme into a weapons programme. The Russians are saying, come and do uranium enrichment on our soil, but there's no reward for that. The regime is saying, if you want us to work with the Russians, there's a price - which is lifting the sanctions, security guarantees, economic incentives and recognition of Iran's role in the region."

Posted by: blowback on January 14, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Congressional Dems will vote for it out of fear, against the wishes of the Dem base. come election time, all the Congressional Dems will face a voting public that thinks they're all a bunch of retards. they'll try to please the public by talking out both sides of their mouths and the GOP will eviscerate them with "flip-flopper" ads.

how on earth did the Democratic party end up with so many slugs at the top ?

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I thought air strikes were considered "cowardly."

Posted by: lellis on January 14, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Are the Iranian trying for a rerun of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Posted by: blowback on January 14, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Sanctions obviously -- it worked with Iraq.

Posted by: Make 'em hurt on January 14, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

How nice to get around to a stark issue confronting earthlings for over five years. Ahhh, but a liberal has to pussyfoot for years first, then, approach the stark reality as a nuanced discussion of what Democratic political position will give it a chance back at control of the Washington DC Federal trough. In terms of Overlord Bush's position, of course.

But gosh, who wants to think about bad things like wars and nuclear destruction and hard choices? That is not the business the current brand of liberal is in.

What a dilema. The right to same sex marriage, or the prevention of thermonuclear destruction. Resources are scare. As a matter of principle, let's keep those liberal priorities straight.

Posted by: razor on January 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

This mis-administration isn't about diplomacy, it's made it's mark by being the toughest guy on the block. This is all about GWB swagger and doing it or else approach to world affairs. He and the neo cons need and want to use military force to mold the world into what they believe it should be. Bombs will drop and bush will and the repubs will claim they have protected the USA from a nuclear bomb making terrorist country determined to harm the USA.

Posted by: AZBob on January 14, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

The US has no real leverage. Diplomacy isn't likely to work with the crazy, holocaust-denying hardliners in Iran (short of an absurdly lavish bribe). And air strikes aren't an effective threat either. The US military is stretched too thin to deal with the possible consequence of air strikes: a wider war in the region. Iran could use the air strikes as a pretext to accelerate their efforts to destabilize/overthrow Iraq with Iranian-backed insurgents. Given that the US is already struggling to keep it's head above water in Iraq as it is, we really cannot sustain our presence in Iraq if the war intensifies.

Note that the US will probably end up leaving Iraq out of necessity in the next couple of years anyway. Giving Iran a stake in the conflict will also give Iran greater bragging rights at having helped kick the US out of the region.

Also at the very, very least - air strikes will only serve to further entrench the political hardliners in Iran (and further justify a nuclear weapons program). It's also easy to imagine that the Iranians have already taken the precaution of building redundant facilities that are currently unknown to the West and likely to survive any strike (or at least be easily reconstituted).

Iran will end up with nukes sooner or later. The question is, do we really want to make them even madder at us in the interim?

Posted by: Augustus on January 14, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I thought air strikes were considered "cowardly."

Depends.

How's the polling on a return to conscription?
.
.
.
Air strikes no longer cowardly.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 14, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

one could assume that all this is just posturing intended to make it look like the US is running away from a fight with Iran as it slowly pulls out of Iraq. Iran will be able to say "look, the US ran, rather than face us when they were right on our doorstep!"

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe diplomacy will work and Iran will back down. But just in case it doesn't, Dems would be wise to start thinking about whether (a) or (b) or some hypothetical (c) is the right policy. And then, having thought about it, we can start figuring out how to persuade the American public that our choice is the right one.

That's more upbeat and proactive than your dominant style.

To start with, it's useful to remember that Iran is now governed by people who think that the Shah of Iraq was too liberal and too Western in his thinking. They objected to all those Iranians who came to the US to study and earn college degrees. They are not the people who respected and wanted to rally behind Mossadegh's liberal socialism -- those people were used and dispatched. The mullahs have their own motives for wanting more military power and nuclear weaponry, and those motives include spreading their Islamist influence and ridding the Middle East of democratic/European influences such as Israel. (Ahkmedinejad was selected by the mullahs to run, and no one opposed to the mullahs was permitted to run, so he is pretty much their voice and instrument, though I am sure that he is also sincere.) They do not oppose America because of what liberals see as America's faults, they object to liberal democracy.

Another thing to remember is that a "threat" of military action is not useful unless it is credibly backed by a willingness to use the force. If the Democrats are going to come up with language like "using force only as a last resort", they would be better off not mentioning force at all, or else saying straight out that they oppose all force. A John Kerry-like vote to use force without an intention to use the force once it is approved is totally a waste of everybody's time. Better not to mention military power at all than to mention it with an intention to bluff.

I don't mean to suggest that Republican policy is eminently respectible, only that a true Democratic policy has to recognize these and other points if it is to be perceived by swing and independent voters as non-supercilious.

Posted by: contentious on January 14, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Election Day - Democrats lose 5 seats in the Senate, 30 in the House."

Never thought I'd say it, but Atrios is spot on! You baby-killing liberal losers will never learn! And don't forget -- they will allow Bush to stay in power, in the face of Endless War! Expect to hear lots more about FDR.

Posted by: Al on January 14, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Even if Atrios is right in his astrological predictions based on the confluence of Saturn and Plato, it's clear that attack on Iran or not, the Democratic party consists of a collection of fools who neither know how to win elections at home nor the art of war against evil regimes abroad. All they can do is wail aimlessly at the stars for their sorry predicament.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

the Democratic party consists of a collection of fools who neither know how to win elections at home nor the art of war against evil regimes abroad

bit early to be drinking, isn't it ?

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios is a clever writer but as usual, can't be taken seriously in this matter. In Atrios words, foreign policy is this subject far too many people put too much thought into and in which problems can be resolved if we just held hands and talked more. He rejects even the remote possibility that force might even potentially be an issue to consider. That's not surprising from a guy who even opposed the war in Afghanistan much less Bush's Iraq fiasco.

Basically, Atrios has no credit on this issue and that's good. To paraphrase him, let the seriiusly serious people who are serious about serious foreign policy discuss these things. Afterwards he can write snarky comments about the proces from far away; having excused himself from any responsible discussion.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on January 14, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Resources are scare.

Interesting little slip there, coming from a Bush Bot.

Anyone seen Dr. Freud around?

Posted by: Stranger on January 14, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin. It's always a load fun to ask the Left, "so what's YOUR plan?" and watch them run around in circles and bang into walls.

ESaund:

Remember a while back when the Europeans were negotiating with Iran? Our State Department was [no]where to be found.

I suppose it was expected that Europe and the U.N., which have a much more enlightened view of dealing with foreign threats than Cowboy America, would have no trouble dealing with Iran. Why mess it up? What could America bring to the table that would help?

blowback, quoting the Iranians:

"...there's a price - which is lifting the sanctions, security guarantees, economic incentives and recognition of Iran's role in the region."

Bribes. Yeah, that's worked well in the past.

Since I'm not in the intelligence loop, I don't know if airstrikes would work. I've been hearing that the targets have been deliberately widely distributed in civilian areas, and that this would be a very difficult attack with lots of collateral damage. Secret agents sneaking in to blow them up only works in the movies.

Would it kill the U.N. to at least TRY sanctions? They may very well fail--they didnt' do much in Iraq--but it's a reasonable first step before dropping bombs. That the U.N. can't even bring itself to use non-military options shows just how useless it is.

A widespread program to support anti-government movements in Iran might also be a dark-horse option. Unlike large parts of Iraq, Iranians apparently are, as a group, more Westernized, and have more potential in this area.

And hey? Anti ballistic missile systems? Let's not give up on them just yet, okay? I can pay for a lot of research for what a nuclear-bombed city would cost.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Posing the question to Democrats suggests that (1.) all Democrats might or should be in agreement and (2.) conflicts with Iran are merely an echo of Iraq. Both of these presumptions cloud the quesion more than necessary. Moreover, the comment thread feeds a counterproductive line of thinking more preoccupied with making domestic political points than resolving an international challenge. I think we can do better than this but I am reluctant to join this discussion further than what I have just offered.

Partisan carping can now resume...

Posted by: Hootsbuddy on January 14, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with Make 'em hurt: sanctions worked perfectly in Iraq (for non Iraqis, that is).

Trouble is, this requires coordination with other powerful countries, and the U.S. has no international standing, and no way to put leverage on China or Russia to do anything. None. Zero.

Airstrikes? Knock out a few targets - set the program back a year or two? Or sustained bombing? Kill maybe hundreds - with what allies? Britain? Shiite-dominated Iraq? Nope.

And how do oil prices react?

Iran WILL have the bomb, as will Saudi Arabia, etc. Because the U.S. can't lead anymore.

Chalk it up to Chimpy the Impotent. We're in a post-superpower world.

Posted by: HeavyJ on January 14, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

...I have been hearing that.....


He is hearing! He is hearing! He is hearing the voices in his head!

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

In Atrios words, foreign policy is this subject far too many people put too much thought into and in which problems can be resolved if we just held hands and talked more.

got a quote ? i don't see any mention of handholding in the linked article.

It's always a load fun to ask the Left, "so what's YOUR plan?" and watch them run around in circles and bang into walls.

are you gonna volunteer to go fight in Iran ?

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

My astrological prediction is that whatever Bush's policy (sanctions, military strike, etc.) the Iranians will respond by lowering their total petroleum exports and striking trade agreements with more pragmatic empires like China. Since everyfuckingthing from TVs to computers to cars is made in China, Iran will be quaking in it's boots.

the art of war against evil regimes abroad

Please oh please, teach me that Iraq tarbaby move tbrosz. Or at least the declare victory and run from communists in black pajamas sho jitzu move. I'm begging to learn the art for the betterment of my party.

Posted by: B on January 14, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz, do you ever get out of the house? I guess you must have a good reason for never leaving.

Posted by: B trosz on January 14, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios presents a bleak assessment. But it leaves out other considerations:
1) Is America going to back a third potentially active military front?
2) Are US creditors going to continue to honor W's credit card spending?
3) Are the oil interests willing to risk the flow of oil. Doesn't Iran have a scary number of cruise missiles and some very convenient locations to raint them down on oil tankers and even US Naval vessels?
4) Perhaps someone demands public disclosure of the intelligence, since W and the gang blamed Iraq on faulty intelligence?
5) The US Economy may finally go off the cliff toward which it has been teetering for 2-3 years now.

Maybe he is right. But maybe as they say in those financial disclosures on investments, "past performance is no guarantee of future returns".

Posted by: RickG on January 14, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin. It's always a load fun to ask the Left, "so what's YOUR plan?" and watch them run around in circles and bang into walls.

It's always fun to ask the Right, "so, how's your plan working?" and watch them run around in circles and bang into walls and blame their failures on the Left for not believing hard enough.

Posted by: trex on January 14, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Iran has not threatened us. It's a small to medium sized poor country on the other side of the world. Our military advantage over even an Iran with nuclear weapons would still be totally overwhelming. And responsible analysts say that Iran is probably many years away from having nulcclear weapons.

A US military attack on Iran would just increase our troubles. Given the outcome of our brilliant invasion of Iraq that should not be hard to sell.

Posted by: No Preference on January 14, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Air strikes would be idiotic. I have little doubt that Iran would retaliate economically in a huge way. It is just not obvious what we can force Iran to do at this point with Iraq oil down, Chavez always a source of tension, and Iran being one of the main suppliers of both oil and natural gas. Unless we really want to see the global and national economy nosedive, we need to come up with some innovative ways to deal with nuclear energy, and one of these, perhaps the wisest and most just, would be to really set up a global transparency and inspections regime when it comes to nuclear facilities, along with a firm commitment to outlawing all nuclear weapons. Obviously, the U.S., Europe, and Israel would also have to abide by these rules, inspections, and sanctions.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, resources are scarce.

And who sees a Bush bot in the fury at how the incompetence of Democratic competition is the key to Overlord Bush having power, is also a few bricks shy of a full load, but, like a good pussyfooter, self satisfied and full of it.

Posted by: razor on January 14, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

The UN is the Right's big boogey man. The real problem underlying this vague UN boogey man is that Russian and Chinese interests are largely competing with our own.

Even if you dissolved the UN, sanctions won't work until we get China and Russia on board. . . and I just don't think China gives a fuck if Iran gets a couple of nuclear bombs. Taiwan yes, Iran no. China has economic power through manufacturing and cash reserves that trumps paper, rock, scissors, and hiroshima style nuclear bombs.

Posted by: B on January 14, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Our troubles are really arising from our hubris. We insist on putting rules and regimes on others that we are not subject to, to promote and use nuclear energy while discouraging others from doing so, and insisting on global economic development that links all the economies together in mutual dependence.

The only way to truly run a global economy of mutual dependence that allows varying political characters to be preserved would be to accept and encourage binding global conventions and treaties, and, in the case of nuclear weapons, to outright ban them, put them on a phase down schedule for (all) those currently in possession of them, and to agree on an expanded IAEA or successor agency that will have "sneak and peek" access in terms of inspections for all nuclear facilities in the world - no exceptions. Those who resist will be shunned and actively undermined politically, economically, and if necessary militarily.

This isn't far from the model that some see it today, but there are exceptions to those who need to follow the rules or face transparency and inspections, like the U.S. and Israel, and thus no self-respecting leader of a country as rich in natural resources so desirable and needed by the "exceptional" countries is going to accede to this global feudalism without really testing the nature of his power. From my view, I see no reason for Iranian submission, as they have enough cards to play, and it's not just us and them, but Russia, China, India, and so on too.

The real question is whether we in the U.S. can be good global citizens, or if we will continue in hubris to consider ourselves above the law and the exception to the rule and lash out like spoiled brats whenever our fix isn't forthcoming at the level we're used to.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have a hard time understanding why a nation (Iran) which has signed the NPT is such a threat while other nations (you figure out who they are) which have not signed the NPT but still have nuclear weapons are not a problem. Quite frankly, after the Iraq fiasco, I'll never believe anything the Bush administration says about another country being a threat. The Bushite ability and gall in creating stuff out of whole cloth is phenomenal.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 14, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

The easiest course of action would have been to first elicit, by whatever means necessary, all the information about the technology supplied to Iran from A. Q. Khan.

But of course we won't touch Pakistan.

There is a pettern here. After 9/11 we did not attck the country that was most responsible for it. And we continue to coddle its dictator while pretending that we want to spread democracy in the middle east.

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious answer is to not care if Iran develops nuclear weapons. The only real value of nuclear weapons is they discourage others from attacking you. To discourage Iran from using nuclear weapons make it clear that every major city in Iran would be incinerated if Iran ever uses a nuclear weapon.

Posted by: occam's comic on January 14, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Atrios is almost certainly right about this, but it still doesn't answer the question.

He comes closer to answering it than you do. The answer is evident in his chronicle of unfolding future events: ANYTHING the incompetents in charge do will be wrong. Just as all of your alternatives are wrong, including what you call "diplomacy," ending with Iran's "back down."

If only you could see yourself, typing out meaningless words, as you strive for ascension to the leisure class. What is diplomatic about holding thousands of nuclear weapons over the head of another nation, threatening to use them if they dare to even think about developing their own?

Everything you say in this post (actually, in all of your religiously capitalistic posts) is based on a single formula which you take for a maxim: Might Makes Right

If Iran can't be trusted with nukes--if any nation cannot--no nation can. There is nothing inherent in the genes of U.S. citizens which makes them more responsible with the care of dangerous weapons. There is nothing in our culture which makes us distinctly less violent or aggressive. There is nothing in our power structure which provides greater assurance of restraint in conflicts.

Global disarmament is the only answer. When we have a leader bold enough to face the United Nations and beg forgiveness for our past aggression and oppression while pledging to disarm all of our nuclear weapons, that is when we will finally be on a path toward achieving both peace and prosperity for all of mankind.

We're a long way from such a day, you'll say. Obviously so, since everything you do is designed to preserve this nation's might, rather than build a foundation for better lives for all. The mightier we are, the greater the risk to us, and the more misery brought to the masses of humanity.

By the way, just curious, on another matter, would it have seemed a "ray of sunshine" if, say, Zawahiri had made his way to Orange County and then have been reported to be hiding out in the house next door to yours, after which the CIA had called in missiles which (though missing Zawahiri) killed your wife and about six kids in your neighborhood? Away on a trip to D.C., you hear about it on CNN and get an immediate sunny lift from it, right?


Posted by: jayarbee on January 14, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I love this.

Kevin's main concern? How to use this global crisis as an election issue.

Quick! We've got to come up with a policy so we have something to take to the 2006 elections!

Presumably, said policy will be designed for its electoral impact, not for its righteousness or efficacy. It doesn't seem to have seeped into his dim little mind that this is a real problem. Bush-hating trumps everything.

Posted by: am on January 14, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

am

which policy of GWB was designed not for electoral impact but for its righteousness or efficacy? Name one.

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

If only you could see yourself, typing out meaningless words, as you strive for ascension to the leisure class.

LOL. jayarbee is horning in on Norman's schtick. Give it up, j-boy, nobody maligns Kevin's character like WM's resident psycho troll. Compared to him you're an amateur.

Posted by: cheez on January 14, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

If this is turns out to be a partisan issue, it will be because the Republicans want it that way. That's not unexpected, given how well things turned out for them the last time we debated whether to go to war. Most people I know think Iraq was a fool's erand, but most of those people have a completely different view toward military action in Iran; in fact, one of the primary objections to invading Iraq was that it was the one member of the Axis of Evil that was not pursuing a WMD program.

Barring a sudden turn of events on the diplomatic front, the real problem with the Iran question will not be that Dems are anti-war; it will be that there are no good options, military or otherwise, only a host of very bad ones.

Posted by: Beale on January 14, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's main concern? How to use this global crisis as an election issue.

err. he's saying it's probably going to be a campaign issue, like it or not, and is wondering how the Dems are going to handle it. and of course the GOP would never use foreign policy as a campaign issue. heavens no.

don't let your knee-jerk Kevin hating get in the way of your ability to read.

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Even if Atrios is right in his astrological predictions based on the confluence of Saturn and Plato, it's clear that attack on Iran or not, the Democratic party consists of a collection of fools who neither know how to win elections at home nor the art of war against evil regimes abroad."

Cripes, I know that some of you will keep falling for the fake over and over and over again (check the e-mail address, folks. Then bang the rocks together). But can you at least give me credit enough not to have written a fractured sentence like that?

RickG makes some good points, particularly number 3.

We don't get much oil from Iran. But other nations in the U.N. do, and Jimm points out correctly that Chavez is a wild card in this. If he sides with Iran...well, we DO get a lot of our oil from Venezuela.

B's point on the U.N., China and Russia is also a good one. Sanctions aren't going to work if large nations don't care about Iran having weapons or not.

Those wondering why Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons since the U.S. does? They probably also wonder why serial killers shouldn't be allowed to have guns because, after all, cops carry them, and shoot people with them, too.

When we have a leader bold enough to face the United Nations and beg forgiveness for our past aggression and oppression while pledging to disarm all of our nuclear weapons, that is when we will finally be on a path toward achieving both peace and prosperity for all of mankind.

Oh, please. Run somebody like this in 2008. Really. Please?

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

There is no right policy while Bush is office.
I'm not simply being snide. Bush himself is the obstacle to any agreements because he has destroyed the reputation of the US for abiding by international agreements. Because Bush cannot be trusted by the Iranians (rightly so), the only possible result is war---which is what Bush wants, of course.

Posted by: marky on January 14, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Those wondering why Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons since the U.S. does? They probably also wonder why serial killers shouldn't be allowed to have guns because, after all, cops carry them, and shoot people with them, too.

frankly, Iran isn't much of a "serial killer". except for its war with Iraq (which side were we on? pick a year), it's been pretty quiet.

no, i don't think a nuclear Iran is a good idea. i just think your analogy is weak.

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

which policy of GWB was designed not for electoral impact but for its righteousness or efficacy? Name one.

Oh, that's an easy one: Bush's policy to establish a plutocratic state has been working just aces.

As for Iran... if the Democrats want to be of more use than tits on a bull, they need to get engaged on the issue now, not when Bush gets around to presenting the nation with another pack of lies.

How about suggesting that, if Iran is really just interested in developing nuclear energy, and not nuclear weapons, the US and the UN will be glad to help? Tie it in to the current tentative re-thinking about nuclear energy. Suggest establishing an international consortium dedicated to designing and building safe, enviro-friendly reactors. Talk up the problems of nuclear waste, and say we need all the brilliant designers we can get our hands on to come up with good disposal systems. Make it a truly international effort, because energy is truly an international problem. Make the idea appealing to the Iranian people - which means anyone but the US has to take point on this, because Iran doesn't like or trust us, and we've given them no reason at all to do so.

On the off-chance that Iran means it when it says it wants to develop nuclear power, having a lot of international agencies in on the deal means having a lot of oversight.

If the rest of the world is genuinely engaged in the project, we can set forth ahead of time the penalties for sneakily developing nuclear weapons. Penalties that mean something to Iran. Yes, that could include Iraq-style economic and trade sanctions. The important thing is not only to make the threat of sanctions credible, but to make the benefits of abiding by the deal equally credible. Penalties could also include military force - but not solely on the US initiative, and not solely based on the US' say-so.

And so, if it turns out Iran intended all along to develop nuclear weapons, there'll be a lot of people who'll notice that, and can raise a stink about it. It won't just be the Bush Admin making accusations (which, BTW, no one will believe) and it won't just be the UN (which is generally regarded as ineffectual) it'll be the international community. The penalties will already be known in advance, ready to be invoked. If a military confrontation turns out to be necessary, it will be due to bad faith actions the whole world can verify; and the confrontation will be truly an international effort.

In other words, internationalize the issue for real, and now; do what we should have done in Iraq.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 14, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney did say the Israelis could bomb Iran, Bush called Iran, Syria, and N. Corea evil empires. Before that we did not hear about all the need of nuclear weapons by the Iraniens. If we threaten why should the not want nuclear weapons, Israel and the US have them and are not frienly nations.

So we should stop belly aching and consider what our government has been doing to get us there.

Oh and don't forget, the US is a big power but Iraq has been clipping our wings. And boy, it costs lots of money to fight a war.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Murtha says we are on the way out and it makes sense to me. 2200-plus american dead. At 3000 the "war on terror" meme, that is already wearing thin, will lose whats left of its effectiveness.

Remember that I get treated to a military intelligence world-view of this issue. We spent three years at Incirlik AFB in Adana, Turkey, about 250 miles southwest of Ankara. (Incirlik was a SAC base. It's where the U-2's took off and landed from during the cold war. 5% of the sorties in the first gulf war were flown out of Incirlik.) All the mission statements aside, the mission of that base has always been intelligence, from the day that ground was broke. It was classic quid pro quo You want to join NATO, and we want to spy on Russia, with whom you share 300 miles of border. Okay, here's the deal...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Renate: Tax cuts are paying for the war.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK


TROSZ: Oh, please. Run somebody like this in 2008. Really. Please?

Instead we should run someone like your guy? Again? Maybe Lieberman, eh?

The person I described (if he/she exists) would be a shoo-in. Actually, such folks do exist. Doubt if any of them have the quarter billion dollars it takes to run a presidential campaign, though.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 14, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK


CHEEZ: LOL. jayarbee is horning in on Norman's schtick. Give it up, j-boy, nobody maligns Kevin's character like WM's resident psycho troll. Compared to him you're an amateur.

I don't do "schtick." I leave that to pointless bores who, like immature adolescents giggling over their farts, Laugh Out Loud alone at their unfunny written droppings.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 14, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

And so, if it turns out Iran intended all along to develop nuclear weapons, there'll be a lot of people who'll notice that, and can raise a stink about it. It won't just be the Bush Admin making accusations (which, BTW, no one will believe) and it won't just be the UN (which is generally regarded as ineffectual) it'll be the international community.

Do you really think there is anyone in the "international community" who still actually believes Iran's goal is to build nuclear power plants? "B" was right. Plenty of them just don't care if Iran lobs a nuke at Tel Aviv. One or two would probably quietly cheer.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

We're heading for a nuagmire in Iran.

Posted by: KCinDC on January 14, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we pursue a policy of "mutually assured destruction" with these guys like we did the Russians.

Oh, that's right, the Russian's were athiest, they didn't believe in an afterlife, it was all now or never. The Iranians believe in the 72 virgins theory of the afterlife for martyrs.

Tough nut. Mutually Assured destruction means we burn in eternal damnation, they get 72 virgins. Seems like Mutually assured distruction isn't going to work with the Iranians. And that, by the way, is the real reason to fear these idiots getting the bomb.

Which is why they are an ailing Bush Administrations best wet dream. More threats, more fear, more war equates to better poling.

I wonder just how hard it is to immigrate to New Zealand? and I wonder where they stand on the whole Neocon thing? It would seem that NZ would be the last Westernized society left standing on earth in an enlarged confligration - that is, if they are not yet a member of the willing coalition with Bush. If they are, well then there probably is no decent place left to hide.

The confligration comes .... Fundementalist prophecy, self fulfilled. Bastards.

Posted by: E Publius on January 14, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell would you do if you were Iran, with the US Army (and, more significantly, the US Marine Corps) in force on both your borders and an NBC-equipped Israel with a Likud govt not too far away either, both itching for a fight.

I'd follow N. Korea's example and get nukes ASAP.

Either a) demand a nuke-free Middle East or
b) be fair about it and allow others to do what you allow Israel to do.

(I like option A.)

Anything else makes you look like a giant hypocrite.

And speaking of hypocrisy: why is it alright for us to have nukes but not Iran? Remind me again.

Posted by: chuck on January 14, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I thought air strikes were considered "cowardly."

Compared to suicide bombing it is.

You have to have a LOT of conviction to do that, you must admit.

Posted by: chuck on January 14, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

a question for the conservatives here...

given what we know:

should we invade Iran ?
if so, when and how ?
or, should we attack Iran ?
if so, when and how?

please enumerate the political consequences, the economic consequences and provide a way to deal with all of that.

if you can't do that...

Posted by: cleek on January 14, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, I think the most realistic option is:

1. Do something non-military to try to slow Iran's nuclear program down. If some form of limited U.N. sanctions can get them to at least put a hold on things, we can buy some time. The U.N. has got to actually DO something for a change.

2. Then work on regime change in Iran before the mullahs finish the bombs. Iran's mullahs are actually a lot more vulnerable in this area than Saddam was, and it may be able to be carried off without overt military support.

Neither of these is guaranteed--in fact the odds are less than 50-50 IMO, but it's worth trying before an air strike.

Note that if things move along too fast, and Iran does get the bomb, if they don't go nuts and start dropping bombs on Israel, internal regime change could STILL work to defuse the situation.

When South Africa's regime changed, they disarmed (South Africa is a classic example of a nation that actually cooperated with arms control agencies). Russia, not so much so, but it's still better than the U.S.S.R.

BTW I'd be pushing hard for the air strike if Iran's nuclear program had a nice "reactor vent" target that would wreck the whole thing, but it doesn't.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

How should Democrats position the Iran issue?

As a tragically splendid example of how Bush's Iraq war has weakened our hand in dealing with Iran.

Everything we have done militarily to Iraq, we could easily have done to Iran instead, with the rather important distinction that we KNOW Iran is an imminent nuclear threat. And, of course, it's not even as if we'd actually have to invade Iran; we could simply have credibly threatened them with some kind of invasion, and all that might entire for the ruling class, and most likely have gotten them to agree to nuclear inspections, just as we did with Saddam.

Why do you think that it is NOW that the Iranians are announcing their nuclear ambitions so very publicly, and flagrantly refusing to allow inspections?

Answer: because they know we are weak, compared to years past, years in which our military was NOT far over-extended.

If Democrats can't bring themselves to get ahead of the national security issue presented by Iran, and make it clear how culpable Bush is in weakening our military's capabilities, and our reputation for military power across the world, then truly they are useless and pointless.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

The US military is stretched too thin to deal with the possible consequence of air strikes: a wider war in the region. Iran could use the air strikes as a pretext to accelerate their efforts to destabilize/overthrow Iraq with Iranian-backed insurgents.

I doubt it is true that the US is stretched too thin to deal with Iran for a number of reasons:

i) It's not as if military action need take place this month. In a year or so, it is likely that the US presence in Iraq will be significantly smaller.

ii) The US will mostly only use airstrikes against Iran. Any ground force activity will be confined to microactions by elite units. There will be no large-scale invasion of Iran. The US has ample ability to project air power, and now is most assuredly ramping up that ability on a daily basis.

iii) Overwhelming air superiorty on the part of the US will completely obliterate Tehran's ability to strike back with conventional forces. There will be no Iranian armored units rolling into Mesopatamia or the Arabian peninsula.

iv) Tehran's efforts at revenge will be confined mainly to terrorism. The Middle East, Israel, the US, and the world as a whole have managed to live with this problem nearly three decades now; Iranian terror is not an existential threat, at least provided it does not involve nuclear weapons. Moreover, it is doubtful Iran will succeed in formenting any more trouble in Iraq than it already is, especially if Iraqi Shiite political aspirations are fulfilled. Embittered, oppressed, emasculated majorities are vulnerable to manipulation by scheming foreign powers. Triumphant, newly powerful majorities are much less so.

v) Any action taken against Iran will very likely possess a patina of multilateralism, complete with widespread participation of the UN, other western powers, and maybe even the Arabs and Turks (neither of whom are enamored of the idea of a Persian bomb). Even Russia appears to be coming around (given Iran's proximity, and Russia's own, deadly problem with Islamist terrorism, all I can say is it's about time).

vi) Finally, although geopolitically undesirable from the perspective of Washingtion, in the end unilateral action by Israel cannot be ruled out. The ability of America's military to deal with Iran could well prove irrelevant.

There are a number of troubling aspects to the prospect of military action against Iran, not least of which are the certainty of large scale loss of life, and its dubious legality. But lack of US military potency is not one of them.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on January 14, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Those wondering why Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons since the U.S. does? They probably also wonder why serial killers shouldn't be allowed to have guns because, after all, cops carry them, and shoot people with them, too.

We're not the global "police", and nukes are far from guns. The answer is not let everyone have nukes, as a fairness issue, but to allow noone to have nukes, as a fairness and survival issue. I'm talking about really solving the problem before us, aside from partisan politics, rather than making it worse.

Iran is not a suicidal nation, and does not have a history of aggression. If they were to get nukes, they wouldn't lob them at Israel. Instead, the real fear would be they would develop mini-nukes over time that could be smuggled by terrorists into Israel and detonated, though this would kill a whole lot of Muslims and itself may not be a likely scenario that Iran would get involved with (a radical Taliban or Pakistani government perhaps), unless the range of the nuclear charge was itself greatly limited.

Looking ahead another 50 years, our only hope to prevent the threat of this kind of terrorism would be to eradicate nuclear weapons and subject ALL nuclear facilities worldwide to random inspections and full transparency. Any violation of the rules in regards to nuclear energy, especially if everyone else is actually following them, would be automatic military devastation by the rest of the world (if everyone is on board, there is no excuse to waste time with economic sanctions when noone else has nuclear at their disposal - instant destruction and/or regime change).

We can't set up an apparatus like this, and share/externalize some of the costs, if we insist on a feudal arrangment whereby we're the "good guy" cops with the nuclear weapons and anyone who isn't in our good graces who tries to get nukes, even to develop nuclear energy, are "bad guys" and subject to arrest by the "cops".

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

i) It's not as if military action need take place this month. In a year or so, it is likely that the US presence in Iraq will be significantly smaller.

And how would you know that?

And even if some of our military is pulled out of Iraq, what makes you think that they will be primed and ready to go into still another major war? The story of Iraq is already one of an exhausted army, required to put in many more periods of duty than they had been prepared to do. How does all that go away in a short period of time?

And even if we cut the troops in half witin a year or so -- probably an absurdly optimistic estimate -- are we supposed to launch a major invastion of another country with a fraction of the troops already necessary in Iraq?

Look, the most important point here is that Iran itself doesn't believe we can do them serious damage. That is why they are so flagrantly thumbing their noses at us, and pursuing nuclear weapons and keeping out inspectors. Obviously, THEY don't take our threats seriously, even if you somehow imagine that they really, really ought to, because Bush is SO, SO tough.

And that's the worst part of this thing with Iran. We simply are perceived as weak by them. ONLY by an ACTUAL attack might we get them to change their tune.

THAT is how Bush has devastated our reputation for power with his idiot adventure in Iraq.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there's your problem. A lot of Democrats differ from Republicans only in the techniques they'd use to maintain our world empire. And, unlike the better hotels, nobody is offering a wakeup-the-empire-is-over call service.

Well, actually they are, but our phone's on mute. No bad news here, nosiree.

It may be nuclear science, but it's not rocket science. A few years back, a teenager in Detroit started building a nuclear reactor (that's latin for 'bomb') in his parents basement. Boy, weren't they surprised when the guys in the haz-mat suits showed up.

As usual, the tough jobs are left to the one-worlders. Whack Iran and your mole will pop up in Pakistan. What is needed is a worldwide rule of law that, among other things, is dedicated to not having nuclear explosions.

And, until we get that, these kinds of things are going to happen.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 14, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

South Africa is a classic example of a nation that actually cooperated with arms control agencies.

But that was a situation unique in history. A minority that had been in charge and used brutal tactics to maintain that control and a policy of government sanctioned violent, virulent racism - suddenly giving power to the majority that they had so ruthlessly kept their boot on the throat of for so long. It was in their best intrest to disarm before they handed over the reins of power to that oppressed majority.

(And for the record, I don't believe that the Shi'ites had it anywhere near as bad under Saddam as the blacks in South Africa had it, although I do recognize the initial parallels.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen,

You are so right, yes we need more tax cuts. LOL

The estimate of the cost of Iraq by Stiglitz is $1-$2trillion $ now.

All the neo-cons just don't get it, the US is not a super power anymore, just a big power, Bush made sure of that.

China is The Creditor, the US BORROWS ABOUT $2BILLION A DAY.

The $ value after Vietnam went downhill, it will happen after Iraq too. It used to be the Euro$$$ now it is Chinese $$$.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Globe,

There you go again, bringing logic and sanity to an issue that will be demagogued to death by people who are intellectually incapable of seeing past the end of their nose.

We need smart people and deep thinkers running things and we have neither. We have greedy hacks in charge.

Thanks again, Ralph Nader.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 14, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

In addition, Iraq has no Nelson Mandela, they have Chalabi and kind.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

> The US has ample ability to project air power,
> and now is most assuredly ramping up that ability
> on a daily basis.

Of course, per the trade press Iran is also purchasing large qtys of 4th-generation antiaircraft missles from Russia. Sure hope the US' super-tech stacks up as claimed against Russia's. Some of the new Russian SAMs have a 300 mile range - wonder how invincible we will look when 3 or 4 AWACs and JSTARs are smoked at $1 billion each?

W
President

Posted by: George W. Bush on January 14, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Golly, guys! Thanks!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, I'm not talking about a Democratic strategy for 2006 or 2008. Not particularly. Instead, I'm just suggesting the wisest course of action based upon the risk assessment we face, based upon the current situation, environment, grievances, and so on, and that works for all people and peoples.

The best solution of all would be to just outright ban nuclear weapons and energy, and have this be enforceable by automatic military action by everyone else in the world upon violation. But, since banning nuclear energy may never happen (though outlawing weapons can), we should go forward with outlawing nuclear weapons (while phasing out existing nuclear arsenals over time), while placing all nuclear facilities for energy production and research under the same transparency and inspections regime, violation of terms of which would trigger automatic and devastating military action against violators.

Any country which refuses to join this globally negotiated regime will not necessarily be immediately subject to military action, as this would be bad faith in terms of negotiations, but will be subject to immediate and complete economic isolation once an initial covenant was in place. If such a country did not come along after these sanctions, then it would face military devastation, as self-respecting actor in the world will be able to tolerate foregoing nuclear arms for one's defense if others are not equally constrained (and this is confirmable).

The alternative is to go as we do today, which is and has been a total failure. India, Pakistan, and Israel have developed nuclear weapons, and other nations will follow. The wise course is to set up an egalitarian and just global convenant and inspections regime today that makes it a win-win for everyone to join now and avoid the obvious problems in the future that will arise from continuing nuclear proliferation, and especially improving miniaturization.

We can go a long way in preventing the proliferation of mini-nukes by outlawing weapons now and putting all nuclear facilities under 100% transparency and random inspections. Because even if the nukes are miniature, it takes a mature nuclear program to build the small weapons, and large facilities as well.

Further, we would invest as a measure of the global covenant, each nations by its economic power and wealth, in a joint effort to constantly improve and innovate radiation-detection devices, so that as the years go by, we become better and better at pinpointing rogue operators.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course, you never know. Maybe diplomacy will work and Iran will back down. But just in case it doesn't, Dems would be wise to start thinking about whether (a) or (b) or some hypothetical (c) is the right policy. And then, having thought about it, we can start figuring out how to persuade the American public that our choice is the right one."

Somehow I think that whatever the Dem leadership decides, Kevin will argue that it is the "right choice." It almost always works that way.

Posted by: cecce on January 14, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

I leave that to pointless bores who, like immature adolescents giggling over their farts, Laugh Out Loud alone at their unfunny written droppings.

TEH FUNNY!!!! ROTHFLMAOICWSCTMN AT U NUBCAKES! sO pWND3D1!!1

Posted by: cheez on January 14, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

W:

Of course, per the trade press Iran is also purchasing large qtys of 4th-generation antiaircraft missles from Russia. Sure hope the US' super-tech stacks up as claimed against Russia's. Some of the new Russian SAMs have a 300 mile range - wonder how invincible we will look when 3 or 4 AWACs and JSTARs are smoked at $1 billion each?

I would presume that, if the political decision is taken to strike at Iran, the complexity and scope of the necessary air strikes will necessarily entail casualties. I doubt very much "invincible" is an adjective anybody at the Pentagon will be using. I also expect, however, that cruise missiles and other unmanned weapons will play a major role.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on January 14, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

I believe we need to all the above not only to solve the problems of nuclear WMD, but also to preserve our essential character of individual liberty and democracy (these will be the first to go after a few mini-nukes go off).

Of course, there are ways to restructure and revitalize liberal democratic capitalist society, worldwide, along the lines of networking and security theory so that not even 100 mini-nukes could throw off the system, as we downplay large centers and distribute power out to tens of thousands of liberal democratic capitalist centers, but this would still require a massive change-of-heart amongst currently complacent free citizens, who at least in America seem strangely willing to give up liberties because 3,000 people died on 9-11, and we shouldn't overestimate how strong we are in modeling future security arrangement.

Maybe we can improve education in this way, however, so that we become more hardy again (and not 9-11 bedwetters), but then we would still have to address the dominant trend of "scaling" that is going on today, which, quite contrary to global free market and trade theories, actually leave the entire system far more vulnerable to strikes on these Big Centers.

The key is to act with foresight, wisdom, and resilience, and further to model and architect smart and resilient societies and systems (within our ability to shape society and systems, which is not totally in our control and would involve wisely managing complexity and emergence).

Still, if we act today to outlaw nuclear weapons and subject all nuclear facilities to 100% transparency and inspections, as well as collectively investing in ever greater and more sensitive radiation detection innovation, then some of the more radical and "hardier" transformations I mentioned above in order to save liberalism and democracy in a world of real WMD attacks may not need to miraculously happen, though we should still encourage society to evolve in this direction in the face of uncertainty and with increasing insights into ecology, information, and networking theory (i.e. as the best architecture for maintaining and protecting the dignity of the individual and the integrity of the overall society/network).

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is exactly right in this post.

But the Dems's default position for the past 3 years has been to automatically oppose any and all of Bush's initiatives.

Dems seem content to sit on the sidelines and yell and scream about how awful and incompetent BusHitler is.

If there are any thoughtful Democrats on the horizon, step up to the plate!

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 14, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

There is no charismatic secular leader. That was a requirement of culture that this administration failed to consider. Without a charismatic secular leader, a charismatic religious zealot will strut to power unopposed. The perils of this were already laid out upthread as well as or better than I could put it. ("Mutually assured destruction won't work with Iran," that comment.)

In the middle east, charisma counts. This is the region of the world that spawned men like Suleimon the Magnificent, like Ataturk, like the Sheiks and Emirs of legend. It is also a brutal region, where blood spills freely and honor is worn on the sleeve. This is a part of the world where a family will kill a female child because she disgraced them by being the victim of a violent crime, ie - raped daughters are murdered because they are now whores.

Until true understanding of the middle-east mindset is understood, do you really think we have the chance of a snowball in hell of making anything close to real progress in Iraq, or anywhere else in the middle east?

There is more to the Israeli isolation in the region than the religious difference. The fact is that Israel set up shop and imported a bunch of EUROPEAN Jews. They were just throwing off their western-backed puppet governments and experiencing true sovereignty for the first time in centuries for some areas. The probles are as much cultural as they are religious.

Why the hell didn't they talk to an anthropologist? They wouldn't have had to look very hard to find one. Every Gap employs a minimum of three. Hell, had none of them ever traveled anywhere? I would have been glad to give my opinion if the president had called me. After all, the US government did send me to that region of the world to spend three years of my life. But nobody in power right now wants to hear a word that Major Tom and I have to say.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Ive pulled something out of Tony Bourdains Les Halles Cookbook, and changed it up a bit. The recipe started out as Onglet Gascon. However, the bone marrow didnt turn out. Also, I figure why use half a cup of white wine and reduce it by half, if you can instead use a cup of dry sherry and reduce it by three-quarters. That, and you just cant get onglets on short notice in this town, so I went with sirloin steaks, instead.

Posted by: Cory on January 14, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

On balance, I don't think Iran's development of nuclear weapons would threaten our vital interests. They are not a large nation and, much more importantly, there are other countries in the neighborhood who have a much stronger interest in keeping an eye on them. Russia sits just to the North, and Israel is also equipped with a nuclear deterrent. There may even be hope that saber rattling by Iran would move otherwise hostile or suspicious elements in Afghanistan back in our direction.

If so, diplomacy may require nothing more than lending moral support to neighboring countries and letting them know they'd better step up or they're going to have a much bigger problem than we are.

Posted by: Golabki on January 14, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I would rather be spammed by a foodie than with chinese porn.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Mutually assured destruction won't work with Iran

Yes it will.

It boggles my mind that the usually wiser posters in these threads believe that more than a very small minority of Muslims believe in the caricature of 75 virgins (let alone realistically associated with Iranian Shiite theology), that Iran is going to consign itself to oblivion by aggressively using nuclear weapons (when has Iran been guilty of aggression?), that one figurehead president would actually be able to control Iranian nuclear weapons rather than the councils of religious leaders who actually rule the country (not suicidal), and that Iran should be bundled in with the rest of the "Middle East", instead of treated uniquely as a nation with a clear and easily studied history.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, we know exactly what the Democrats policy is:

1. Allow NYC and DC to be blown up by Iran's nuclear bombs.

2. Blame Bush.

3. Blame US imperialism.

4. Tell people in LA not to be "afraid".

5. Offer to give up all of our nuclear and conventional weapons immediately if Iran promises sometime in the future to consider giving up its weapons.

6. Blame Bush.

7. Allow LA to blown up by another Iranian nuclear bomb.

8. Blame Bush.

9. Blame US imperialism.

10. Tell the rest of America to stop being "afraid".

Posted by: Al on January 14, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

The threat is not state use of nuclear weapons, but terrorist use. The threat of terrorist use of nuclear weapons is generally not regular-sized nukes (hard to conceal and move around), but miniaturized nukes. Since these terrorist groups are not wandering groups of serial killers but people with grievances and perceived enemies, assuring your status as their enemy and racking up grievances with them is a sure way to face this threat, if we don't take wise collective action to minimize this threat now by outlawing nuclear weapons and placing ALL nuclear facilities worldwide under a common and 100% transparency and inspections regime, with AUTOMATIC enforcement mechanisms.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm:

Still, if we act today to outlaw nuclear weapons...

And if a nation decides to build them anyway, we're pretty much in exactly the same situation we are now with Iran. How do you enforce it?

As for your statement that deterrence will work on Iran's leaders, the Telegraph provides this little profile.

I wouldn't bet the farm that deterrence will work on this guy.

You know, I bet that for a lot of people, the Shah is starting to look pretty good in hindsight.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

There is no more rewarding are subject for the amercan foriegn policy cynic that Iran. Some how we have got ourselves into the position of enemy of the only stable government in central asia. The country is also between the countries where we are currently conducting wars. Of the incompetant scenarios that characterize american foriegn policy since WWII few are as bad as Iran.

In the name of democracy we jailed the elected president of Iran in the 50s. We installed a King! Then we supported his blasphemies and inadequacies through he and his son's reign. They finally got the bum out. Instead of moving quickly to support a democratic Iran with apologies for our evils done and with transparent hopes for democracy, we drove the moderates into the hands of the Mullahs. Then the hostage crisis.

We have perfect amnesia so we never understood why the Iranians were angry. We bail out of the hostage crisis with arms for hostages. The Iranian hostages are released almost on the inaugeration of Reagan. I get this from a totally different source than the ussual. My uncle was in the arms business. His collegues were in on the open secret. Does anybody in the US pay attention? No. A moderate Mullah movement arises. Do we support that? No. Eventually it collapses. We have two wars with the country that is thier sworn enemy. Do we use that for leverage to become thier friends? No. The Iranians want the bomb partly because Israel has one. Do we sanction Israel? No.

We crap in the bed and expect other people to sleep in it. The Iranians must think we're mad.

I think we should get out of foriegn policy. Its not a left right thing. Its a we-have-no-idea-what-we-are-doing thing. We suck at it. Maybe GW was right. The only kind of interaction we can handle with the rest of the world is war.

If we go to war with Iran it will not only be because of thier bullheadedness but our titanic stupidity.

And on top of that we have the Dolt in the White House. We are in trouble my friends.


Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Iranians are culturally unique in the region. They are Persian, not Arab, not Kurd, not Turkmen. Persian. They don't speak Arabic, they speak Farsi. While the rest of the Muslim world is predominantly Sunni, Iran is overwhelmingly Shi'ite.

I have nightmares about a million Iranian Shi'ites pouring into Iraq and cutting American supply lines and essentially taking a hundred and fifty thousand American hostages. Think that might spark World War III?

Face it...The US ain't really gonna take another ass-kicking. The The Air Force will get in the game big-time if it looks like that's going to happen. That's an uncomfortable truth that everyone would do well to face.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. should take a three track approach.

First, start another round of arms reduction, include Russia and China. This is an easy step, all three parties are currently dealing with the issue and North Korea. Get this next round started, make sure that a next round will be coming that includes India and Pakistan.

Second, push the Europeans to move this to the security council and fight a diplomatic battle there. Arm twist the Chinese to abstain.

Many posters complain that all nations should be treated equally with regard to nuclear arms. Fine, then make the rule simple, all nations should use whatever means necessary to reduce nuclear arms. This rule can apply to everyone. You don't like nuclear arms, then come up with a better rule.

Posted by: Matt on January 14, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz! Shame on you! What a jingoistic thing to say! Shah looks good in hindsight? Um, I know a few Iranian nationals, and even though they aren't supporters of the revolution, they will take them over the Shah. To hear them talk, he was a lot like Bush, the incompetent son of an incompetent father, propped up by advisors with only their own interests at heart. Fucking Iagos every one.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, I think the most realistic option is:

1. use money saved buy not going to war with Iran to become energy independent

2. hire Tbrosz to make our anti-ballistic missle system work. I'm pretty sure he could have it working in 6 months or so

Posted by: WhoSays on January 14, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Iran?

Let's see:

1) Brown-skinned
2) Black-bearded
3) Non-believers (in Christianity)

Check. Check. Check.

Here is a policy that will win votes from the American people:

SMART BOMB THE FUCK OUT OF 'EM!

Posted by: koreyel on January 14, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

GC

Don't be too harsh on the troll. He probably hasn't even heard of Savak.

Ignorance is bliss. There seems to be a lot of that going around here.

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

The choice is not between good or bad actions now but between bad actions now and really horrible actions down the line.

As for Jimm's blithe assertions that the Iranian regime is basically sane and can be deterred from nuking Jerusalem and/or Paris, let's just say that this is a bit short on evidence. We're hoping (at the most) then that the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad see a nuclear war which would involve massive Iranian losses as unthinkable. But the evidence is quite clear that they ARE thinking about it. One of their leaders recently basically said that a nuclear war destroying both Israel and Iran might be a good trade - since that would wipe the Zionist entity off the map, while only ruining a small fraction of the muslim world. Also, their crazy president almost certainly subscribes to the apocalyptic Mahdi idea.

As for Drummy's hopes to spark a debate about the choices Dems might advocate, if he's reading this message board he must be crying. I realize most people here are way to the left of the Dem center, but wow! To the moral equivalency partisans here that say we have no standing since we have nukes too, I say: figure out which side you're on. The USA and its allies are not Iran. If you can't even get that just go to Kos and leave this board for the adults.


Posted by: peanut on January 14, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't bet the farm that deterrence will work on this guy.

If you read what I volunteer, rather than short responses to others, you'd know that I don't advocate deterrence or "mutually assured destruction", but the exact opposite.

Also, if you read what I wrote, you'll see I've already rebutted all of your rebuttals, as well as the assertions in the Telegraph. The president of Iran is not the highest authority there, and would easily be pushed aside in a crisis by those who really do.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting speculation, Globe: I hadn't really thought about the contingency of Iran flooding into Iraq. That would be a bad thing.

And you probably blew the minds of about 40% of the trolls with your explanation of Iran's unique ethnic and linguistic traits, although I'm sure none of them will ever admit it. I almost cried when tbone upthread described Iranians as being "westernized" compared to Iraq, an observation that manages to miss the mark in both directions.

We're becoming so parochial as a nation that soon our enemies will be able to fool us simply by wearing masks and speaking with funny accents.

Maybe the fear of the swarthy man is just a survival reflex that's evolved out of an inability to distinguish friend from foe.

Posted by: trex on January 14, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

I've seen quite a few liberals arguing that at least under Saddam things were "stable" in Iraq, and the radical Islamists suppressed. One assumes they are as aware of Saddam's human rights record as they are of the Shah's.

I don't support the Shah either, and we're still getting backlash from the "our thug" approach to the Cold War, but if someone is arguing for stability over all else, they have to be consistent about it.

I suspect the Iranian nationals you are talking to live in the U.S., not present-day Iran.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a discussion by Wes Clark on Fox 1/2/06 about what's likely in our future:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, it's not a technical question as you know, it's a political question and it really goes to the heart of some of the stresses inside Iraq. The long-repressed Shi'a majority want their day in the sun and that means they want their distribution of the oil revenues and they want to be able to use those revenues in their part of the country. The Sunnis are still fighting for power. It really is going to require some very adroit maneuvering. And, for the United States it's a question of whether we can take our military leverage in Iraq and use it to obtain political leverage to force these compromises. You know, one complicator here is the talk of the strike on Iran and that's going like wildfire throughout the middle east right now.


Gregg Jarrett: It is.


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: And, you know, associated with the visits of Vice President Cheney and the CIA director Porter Goss and the leak in the newspapers and so forth. On the one hand that's very positive because the Iranians have to understand that they need to come and settle this nuclear issue through peaceful, diplomatic means. But, should the United States resort to force, of course, Iran has its own means of retaliation. One of them will be the strengthening the anger of the Shi'ite militias inside Iraq.


Gregg Jarrett: Right.


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: So there's a complicating factor and it's not just about politics, it's about how the United States handles the region.


Gregg Jarrett: Well Isince you brought up the subject, I might as well go with it. Uh, Iran. It was just this last week that the chief of Mossad appeared before the Knesset in Israel and said a couple of things. First, that within a year the Iranians will have a bomb and second of all they're not going to stop with just one. Um, which invites the question if it's true that Porter Goss met with the Turkish Prime Minister and got permission to use bases there to launch a tactical air strike on Iran, if negotiations fail and we're running out of time, would you think that's a good option, a tactical air strikeassuming we know where some, if not all, of their nuclear sites are in Iran?


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think we know where some of the sites are. We probably don't know where all of them are. I think you have to keep the military option on the table. That means it has to be a real option and if I were guessing what that option would be, and I'm not revealing any classified information here, but it would take advantage of America's strengths and Iran's weaknesses.


We'd use airpower and we would strike continuously for six, maybe eight days. We might have a pause and reassess, we might be prepared to go back in. We might be prepared to put special forces in and occupy and secure and seize evidence at some of these sites so there's no doubt in the minds of the world why we went in there.


So this is not going to be just a single strike if the United States has to do it but before we reach that stage, I hope that we'll be able to say that we've exhausted all other alternatives.


You know, the United States still hasn't talked to Iran and, on the other hand, I mean, we don't like the Iranian president, but on the other hand, before we bomb him, we could at least try to have a dialogue. We've gone through the Europeans, why can't we talk to him before we bomb him?


Gregg Jarrett: What do you bet that story was leaked purposely to instill a bit of fear and maybe force Ahmadinejad to the bargaining table. We'll leave that for another discussion. General Wesley Clark, thank you so much for being with us.


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Great to be with you, thank you

Posted by: catherineD on January 14, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen - i bet you think you're oh so sophisticated catching tbroz at "jingoism" - we wouldn't want that, now, would we? I mean we're talking about nukes here god forbid we should hurt someone's feelings. Maybe some or even many Persians feel that the Shah was just as bad as the mullahs but that doesn't make them right. I know a bunch of Persians that want Iran to have nuclear technology, too, for "national price" issues. But that doesn't make it a good idea.

And, just for the record, you're wrong on the ethnic composition of Iran. Yes, their leadership is Persian, but they have huge ethnic minorities. In fact, Persians are not much more than 50% of the population.

Posted by: peanut on January 14, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Before the invasion of Iraq, it was the most secular country in the region.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

As for Jimm's blithe assertions that the Iranian regime is basically sane and can be deterred from nuking Jerusalem and/or Paris, let's just say that this is a bit short on evidence.

See above.

And one "leader" in Iran quoted as saying that a mutual nuclear strike between them and Israel would be positive for the Muslim world as a whole doesn't mean jack, along with being absurd. Why would Iran sacrifice itself so that the rest of the Muslim world might survive a nuclear confrontation that would obviously draw American involvement? Clearly, whoever this leader is, he is not really that high up and responsible for the welfare of Iran, and this sounds more like targeted misinformation and psyops than consensus leadership opinion in Iran.

As for the president of Iran, he can be as messianic as our own, or worse, I don't care, because he's not the final authority there. He's a figurehead who says and does a lot of things to generate support from more fundamentalist Muslims, and everything I hear leads me to seriously doubt the president of Iran would be the one in charge of the nuclear trigger (whether it's Khatami or the current guy).

Iran will never nuke Israel, and the only way Israel will ever be nuked is by a miniaturized device being smuggled into the country.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Iran will never nuke Israel, and the only way Israel will ever be nuked is by a miniaturized device being smuggled into the country.

Israel is so small, and there are so many historic and religious treasures of Muslims there too, that I seriously doubt any terrorist would let loose a nuke there either, and I very much doubt any state would clandestinely support such an attack, since it would be very possible that Israel would retaliate against them even if they weren't involved. I would guess that Iran is actually opposed to any such terrorist strike in Israel, for religious and practical political reasons (conventional weapons and bombs are a different matter).

We in the U.S. are far more likely to be targeted for any such mini-nuke strike, since we would not really know where the strike originated, and would be unlikely to nuke Iran as a result. Still, the chance is there, and I'm sure Iran's intelligence operatives are as concerned with preventing nuclear terrorism as ours (or, at least they will be once Iran has nuclear weapons).

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

A consistent aspect of all war-mongering, misinformation, and propaganda throughout human history has been to paint the "enemy" as "insane".

As modern and civilized as we've become, this hasn't changed, showing us to be as primitive emotionally as we've ever been. Projection rules, and repression directs.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The right wing nuts seem to believe only the US has selfinterest everyone else does not.

Surprise, surprise other nations do have rights.

What do our knuckle heads think they would accomplish by bombing other countries to dust??

If it is only half a pile of dust do we have any troups to go in and occupy ??

MAD IS ABSOLUTE INSANITY,conventional war is insane but MAD takes the cake, ABSOLUTE INSANITY.

There is no point to even think about it.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

I could never get a Visa to let me enter Iran in this lifetime. Are you nuts? And if I even tried to get one I would get a vacation to Gitmo. No thanks. So of course anything I didn't learn from a book I learned from Iranian nationals in the US currently. (Been in an advanced Math or Physics or Chem class lately? Not a lot of white americans in those rooms, studying or teaching) these days. But that's another thread.

Back in ten...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

How's this for a figurehead, Jimm?

___________________


Iranian Cleric: Muslims Could Nuke Israel


Ruling Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani declared Friday that the Muslim world could survive a nuclear exchange with Israel - while accomplishing the goal of obliterating the Jewish state.

"[The] application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel - but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world," Hashemi-Rafsanjani said, in quotes picked up by the Iran Press Service.

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate," he posited.

Analysts told IPS that Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjanis speech, delivered at a Tehran prayer service, was the first time that a prominent Islamic leader openly suggested a nuclear attack against the Israel.

Posted by: peanut on January 14, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

When and how did we become a nation full of such sycophantic wimps? We faced down the Soviet Union who had a zillion times more nukes than Iran will ever have, and we're panicking because Iran wants a few nukes? Christ, who could blame them with the belligerent USA empire constantly breathing fire down their necks. What a bunch of goddamn losers we've become. Thanks, Bush and all his cowardly macho phony patriots. Hope you're damned proud of yourselves.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ruling Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani declared Friday that the Muslim world could survive a nuclear exchange with Israel - while accomplishing the goal of obliterating the Jewish state.

We will bury you!!!

Posted by: Nikita Kruschev on January 14, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

There are a number of troubling aspects to the prospect of military action against Iran, not least of which are the certainty of large scale loss of life, and its dubious legality. But lack of US military potency is not one of them.

A mere matter of marching.

Posted by: Thomas Jefferson on January 14, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Loads of comments in the press to the supposed "fact" that our military options are limimted. Only if we limit them ourselves.

We don't want to invade and occupy, which is clearly a pain in the ass (see, Iraq). However, an air campaign can yield almost limitless results:

1. Destruction of their only reactor.
2. Destruction of all known and suspected nuclear research or other nuclear weapons manufacturing sites.
3. Killing a good portion of their nuclear scientists, rocket scientists, and other key personnel.
4. Other military infrastructure important for them to launch war against Israel, Iraq or us.
5. Civilian infrastructure even tangentially involved in their nuclear efforts, such as research labs and technical universities could be taken out.

The rest of their civilian infrastructure could also be destroyed from the air, if they do anything at all to retaliate after a more "limited" attack. Basically, we can (but probably don't want to) bomb them back to the Stone Age. Stone Age men make few nuclear weapons.

Posted by: cecce on January 14, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.jnewswire.com/library/article.php?articleid=910

Jimm has obviously no idea what he's talking about. The religious AND "civilian" leadership of Iran are a bunch of crazies. They believe they will win a nuclear war, if they have enough warheads.

Posted by: cranky on January 14, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

What is the Iran Press Service? Who runs it?

As for Hashemi-Rafsanjani, how much you want to bet that this Iran Press Service reported his comments out of context? I'm not buying it. If anything, he's posturing and demogoguing. We can provide him plenty of additional considerations, if it would be helpful to him, that the U.S. would obviously not allow Israel to lose this engagement, so it would be futile, and he's not strategizing with the wisest framework.

Here is another quote from Hashemi-Rafsanjani, from the BBC:

On the nuclear issue, he says Iran is ready to negotiate, but "not to accept bullying and imposition". And he has warned Washington that its "threats" are futile.

"Iran is not the place for acts of adventurism," he says. "We advise you to enter through the gate of peace."

Here is more:

He is seen as the main mover behind Iran's acceptance of the UN Security Council resolution which ended the war.

As president, Mr Rafsanjani sought to encourage a rapprochement with the West and re-establish Iran as a regional power. His influence in Lebanon helped to bring about the release of Western hostages there in the early 1990s.

Domestically, he has sought to move Iran from the state-controlled economy of the war years to a more market-based system.

His critics say this policy failed to deliver on social justice. However, he opposed harsh Islamic penal codes and promoted better job prospects for women.

And finally...

In 2002, Mr Rafsanjani was appointed head of the powerful Expediency Council, which arbitrates in disputes between the Majlis - Iran's parliament - and the Guardian Council, which can block legislation.

The Guardian Council is the real power, and the guys who would decide whether to become nuclear aggressors, which they would never do, and which the Majlis would never do either.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3034480.stm

BBC Profile of Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani

Also, the guy just lose a bid for the presidency, so it also may be the case that he's a demogogue, saying outrageous things, just like our own politicians when trying to confuse the people into accepting you as their symbolic protector of life against death.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Cecce - good list of options. Also, don't forget, that Iran has huge areas that are non-Persian in origin which could be protected by no-fly zones like the one which allowed Iraqi Kurdistan to tear loose from Saddamstan. If we implemented such zones over Iranian kurdistan, plus the southern areas (most of the southern areas where the oil is have arab-majority populations, not all of whom are happy about being ruled by Persians).

Posted by: cranky on January 14, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Grudgingly, cecce is right. Before Viet Nam, southerners were the only Americans who had ever lost a war. (My Dad was there. We lost. I'm not debating that with trolls.)

It won't happen again. The Air Force has a lot of neat shiny toys that are just waiting for Christmas morning! You really think the US will ever lose another war? No. Sadly, hubris and sanctimony, propped up by ethnocentrism will prevent that from ever happening. We have some very, very nasty weapons boys and girls. You have no fucking idea. Do you think the United States really deactivated the Titan II and the Peacekeeper, and countless other nuclear missiles without having a top-secret program to replace the lethality of every weapon deactivated? I don't have any inside knowledge, but my gut-level feelings were formed under slightly different circumstances. Has anyone else ever been through hostage training?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Iranians don't have to stream across the border. In a sense they are already there. The south of Iraq will naturally move into the Iran spere of influence. Was always one of those "facts on the ground facts" that we who were against the war were supposed to be ignoring. By the inane logic of the adminstratioin this salient "fact on the ground fact" was ignored. No matter what we do, the Shia Iraqis will sympathize with thier brothers across the border.

The whole exersize is so horrendously dumb. The real issue today isn't this at all. It's China. But we spend precious time and money we borrow from one of the most repressive governments in the world to fund this fools errand. Yes. The punishingly overtaxed Chinese peasant paid for this war. The money was extorted from that peasant and loaned out to sleepy-boy Bush the dolt.

"Never fight a land war in Asia" Gen G. McArthur. And he knew baby, he knew.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Basically, I'm saying they're posturing to the people so that they accept the nuclear stance. Rafsanjani is no longer running for president, but surely will again, and Iran has an interest in getting public support for the nuclear program. As for a possible nuclear war, Rafsanjani is not likely advocating starting one, but finishing one that Israel starts. Clearly, people are aware that there is talk of Israeli attacks against them because of the nuclear program. I don't see anything irrational about this talk, though it's certainly disturbing, since nuclear escalation is certainly a very dangerous development, but it takes two to tango.

Anyhow, I advocate solutions that go far beyond deciphering Iranian demogogues, so I'm not worried about Iran if we start being a little wiser in the world.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm - what statements do you think are most representative for how the guy really feels? What he says internally to his own people, or statements to the European press, designed to take the pressure off Iran?

Let's remember Drum's post which started all this and his wish for a Dem position that was electorally viable.

Anyone want to bet that "We ought to just trust the sanity of the Iranian religious leadership - no matter what they say at home." is the answer?

Good luck in November, then.

Posted by: peanut on January 14, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

American nuts really believe all they need to do is to wipe out the other side.

cecce:

what would you gain by doing that? What did the Iranians or Iraqies do to you?? Why don't you think a little?

And then the Americans say, they hate our freedom. What a joke.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

and we're panicking because Iran wants a few nukes?

The difference is, these crazy fuckers will use them.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've no idea what Rove's perfidy, which is real, has to do with this issue. I suppose the admin could be maneuvering the timing of this issue. But it's a real issue, and however much the failures of the admin's Iraq policy have made it more complicated -- by decreasing our credibility, in a number of ways, and increasing our vulnerability -- we're going to have to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions at some point. Either decide that we can live with them (and persuade the Israeli's likewise), or else do something about them.

If I were the Dems I'd convene a highly public conference on American security, involving some elected officials but more experts, and highlight the challenges we face and the trade-offs we're going to have to live with. Make it genuine, not only PR. Define the issues and educate the public.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 14, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Renate- shhhhh the adults are talking. It's 8 O'clock. Go watch that Oprah show you taped.

Posted by: cranky on January 14, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

They believe they will win a nuclear war, if they have enough warheads.

On a purely speculative level, they would win, if the U.S. didn't get involved. But we would, and noone in Iran is seriously considering starting a nuclear conflict, but just talking about what would happen should one occur (unwisely, since assuming America would not get involved is foolish, but not necessarily crazy or even irrational).

I'm going to stop arguing this point, about Iranian "insanity", for the reasons I mentioned earlier (emotional primitivism leading to everpresent charges that the enemy is insane; and Iran shows no evidence of this kind of aggression in its history), because it distracts from real solutions, which in the end get buried. So feel free to pile on the ad hominem and insults trolls, because I'm not interested in debating it any further.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

No one is ever served if the doomsday machine gets turned on.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

They have crazy leaders willing to get thousands killed. But so do we.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

"If I were the Dems I'd convene a highly public conference on American security, involving some elected officials but more experts, and highlight the challenges we face and the trade-offs we're going to have to live with. Make it genuine, not only PR. Define the issues and educate the public."

And is there some action at the end of all that "genuine" highlighting, defining, and educating?

Posted by: peanut on January 14, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Here are some issues the dems need to be flogging.

The fact that only about two percent of shipping containers are inspected as they enter American seaports from ports of call all over the world.

The fact that Phoenician technology (the sailboat) could be used to bring ashore any manner of nasty weapons. We have miles and miles and miles of unguarded coastline.

Hell, I live in Missouri. Someone from a Maritime province take this topic.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Jimm is like a wet dream for the PR agents of the mullahs. They say they want to wipe Israel off the map? And that the Holocaust never happened? Oh that's just their President. Noone listens to him. One of their top leaders says nuclear war might not be all that bad? Oh that's just posturing. No craziness here, just walk along folks, nothing to see here...

Thank god these fools will never again be in charge of foreign policy or national security

Posted by: cranky on January 14, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone want to bet that "We ought to just trust the sanity of the Iranian religious leadership - no matter what they say at home." is the answer?

I've already stated clearly and ambiguously that I'm not responding to Drum, or advocating a Democratic political strategy. Instead, in my longer posts in this thread, I advocate a real strategy that goes beyond partisan and American politics, and in my shorter posts I've responded to some disinformation about Iran (likely coming from right wing sources).

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed peanut.

WTF. The dems have to get a story, a program, a whiff of a plan, a direction, a meaning, a point. They can't formulate a policy right now. They have to go home and look at their navels and decide what they are. At the moment, they just help the republicans. And right now with the reps need all the help they can get. The dems are on hand to be useful. A good round of bashing the dems only helps the rep image. With liberals like these who needs the conservatives?

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Jimm is like a wet dream for the PR agents of the mullahs. They say they want to wipe Israel off the map? And that the Holocaust never happened? Oh that's just their President.

Actually, I immediately and roundly condemned these comments by the Iranian president in the 1st post Kevin made about it. Go look if you don't believe me. I even suggested that continuing such talk (which is nothing new from radicals who hate Israel) from the position of head of state would result in devastating retaliation, and was unwise.

Still, I'm not going to buy every piece of right wing propaganda spoon fed to cause Americans to believe that ALL of the Iranian leadership are bat shit crazy. I'm just not. And there are better solutions to our problems than putting all our political cards into preventing one nation from getting nukes. I have no doubt that Iran will never start a nuclear war with Israel or anyone.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

The war was a colossal blunder. Salient facts easily thought about by many of us here, were never considered. Our concerns weren't listened to, we were dismissed. Our patriotism was questioned.

And now a fuse has been lit on a bomb that could blow up the world.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm : I have no doubt that Iran will never start a nuclear war with Israel or anyone.
Me : Exactly! And the lousy way we deal with this bunch will not be good for when the real threat comes.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Further, I am not a Democrat, and don't really trust either major party to act wisely and rationally in conducting foreign policy today (due to restrictions they put on themselves politically and by put on them by special interest influence and money).

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from Tbrosz ( well, duh ) there seems to be a touch of the "Reality Based World" in the thread tonight. If projection would make people see that making Iran feel more insecure might not be the smartest play, even the idiot in charge of Iran might be willing to talk about stabliizing the region and the best way to go about it. Their people and relatives are too close to the fire for them not to give some thought about not getting burned. Of course, if he is the yahoo from Revelations, George will make sure that fire rains from the sky.

Posted by: opit on January 14, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

And I'm certainly not a liberal, at least in the sense of modern, welfare-state liberalism.

Try again.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

The form of government of the present day Iran is the wet dream of the American right with only a minor difference: just replace mullahs by evengelical christian priests.

May be there is some psychological explanation of the the right's stance on Iran.

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

The "idiot" is not "in charge" of Iran. He is a figurehead, meant to give the illusion of democratic governance and accountability. Iran is not suicidal, and have never been a problem in terms of state aggression. And we should place ALL nuclear facilities worldwide into a 100% transparency and inspections regime - including the U.S., Europe, and Israel. Then, we can deal with the real threats we'll face in the next 50 years, including those that are ecological in nature (rather than exacerbating them by more warfare and hatemongering).

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Damn right Jimm
now lets all admit that that will never happen and accept that politics is radically innane. GW will try to place Iran in a position it can not abide. It will get the bomb. Oh yes it will. When it does the US will do what it always has when a country goes nuclear. It rewards that nation with favored nation status. Thus ensuring proliferatioin.

People must think we're idiots.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Here are the population demographics for Iran. The Persian rulers are in no danger of any alliance overthrowing them as they truly are >50% of the population and the nearest group has 24%.


Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, we know exactly what the Democrats policy is: 1. Allow NYC and DC to be blown up by Iran's nuclear bombs.
As I said before, if mushroom clouds rose over an American city, I would believe it to be a dirty trick by Rove/bush long before I would believe it to be done by anyone else. Posted by: Peter on January 14, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, one more thing: Over 25% of the population is under 15, and outnumbers the female population by over a half a million. That is a lot of soldiers coming of age in a theocracy with no spouse to consider. That is a sociological timebomb.

And as unseemly as it might be for a liberal to say this out loud, so to speak, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, and their president was a member of radical student organizations, at the time the hostages were taken. We have reasons, in recent memory to not trust Iran. We have reasons to believe that whatever we consider the worst case scenario, they are fully capable of doing something worse.

Now the numbers:

0-14 years: 27.1% (male 9,465,475/female 8,973,828)
15-64 years: 68% (male 23,556,970/female 22,701,065)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 1,637,512/female 1,683,010) (2005 est.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

How about choosing the option that is always available, and that is to wage peace, instead of war, for once?

Posted by: Won't somebody think of the children? on January 14, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Show us how, Oh wise one...I'm all for it. Can we stop all bloodshed tomorrow? That is my most fervent wish, but I am afraid that, as a species, we have A Small Talent For War. .

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

If it's going to be air strikes the intelligence had better be better than the intelligence on Iraq.

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on January 14, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

If it comes to that, Blue Nomad, they won't care about the quality of the intel. Concern for civilian casualties will barely meet the level of "lip service."

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

GC: " 'and we're panicking because Iran wants a few nukes?'

"The difference is, these crazy fuckers will use them."

I just don't buy that, GC. Didn't we used to call the Soviets crazy fuckers too? Nobody is stupid enough to bring their own certain destruction. We'd have 1000 times more nukes. They know we wouldn't hesitate to use them if they used theirs, not for a minute.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

If nations believe we would not use our nuclear weapons they would not be deterrents, also we did use them in Japan.

Same reasoning goes for the others. Would the Israelies use nuclear weapons?

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with those who have said that Iran is the 2006 Republican Campaign Strategy. Its all they have.

With Democrats in congress and middle of the road Dems like Kevin conceding that sanctions are useless and WIMPY (and the Republican adminstration making sure that they are useless and as insulting to Iran as possible), it looks like a good 2006 strategy. And bolsters the process of metamorphesis into a police state.

Wonder if it would make a difference if we all got solidly behind Gore after Monday? But that would make the Dems feel they were being wimpy so they wont get solidly behind such a movement, thereby showing that indeed they are wimpy.

Posted by: ChetBob on January 14, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

And, GC, why do you taunt 'Won't somebody think of the children?' for suggesting we wage peace? Of course it wouldn't end bloodshed tomorrow, that's why we'd have to wage peace, over years and decades.

We have fallen so far down the 'war hole' that we can't even envision what waging peace means. The so-called patriots in this country have succeeded in making the very notion seem naive and stupid, even to us liberals!

That said, I am a realist, and I see almost no chance for a change in our warmaking ways anytime soon. What a tragedy: Here we are the most powerful nation the world has ever known, built on principles the whole world once admired (when we more or less lived up to them). If ever there were a force on earth that COULD wage peace, it's us.

Talk about a squandered opportunity. Quite possibly even a squandered human race.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

The real tragedy of Atrio's scenario is that, after the elections were over, the net result would have been to make the whole situation worse and more dangerous.

After all, they would have spent a year hyping the danger without actually doing anything at all about it - indeed, according to their strategy, actually solving security problems is not in their own short term interests.

I wonder if tbrosz can acknowledge even this? Probably not.

Posted by: craigie on January 14, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

And as unseemly as it might be for a liberal to say this out loud, so to speak, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, and their president was a member of radical student organizations, at the time the hostages were taken. We have reasons, in recent memory to not trust Iran. We have reasons to believe that whatever we consider the worst case scenario, they are fully capable of doing something worse.

We have been a state sponsor of terrorism too, in Latin America to give one instance, why did we do so?

What are/were Iran's grievances against us?

Did we overthrow their elected democratic leader for economic reasons (greed) and install the Shah?

Who cares if their president was a member of radical student organizations however many decades ago? He had more reason for grievance then than now.

Sure we should not trust Iran, because they're trying to game the system, like we always do. Who the hell would trust the United States, who is not an American? Certainly not the Shiites in Iraq after 1991. But not believing they are suicidal, when they have never shown such behavior, is not trusting them, but the world as we know it.

Iran needs to pipe down about Israel, but they won't unless we step in and force Israel's hand at the negotiating table (stop enabling them). We should assure a Geneva-style Accord agreement between Israel and the Palestineans so that we can make very clear diplomatically from here on out that aggression against Israel, or continuing terrorism against America, will result in devastating force in response.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

I've been lurking here for about a year. cmdicely, secular animist, advocate for god and others are coherent and thought provoking contributers. Posters such as al, tbroz and their ilk have made me realize that perhaps it is time to emigrate. Can someone email me w/advice on this. I'm serious! Thanks in advance.
Jane

Posted by: slackdaemon on January 14, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

More than anything, I want and deal with clarity. We should address grievances openly, so that we can make a real and genuine effort to put them behind us (for the most part). Not everyone will get what they want, but they will get more than they started with (Israel) or have now (Palestineans). Once we do this, then it can be made clear that continuing aggression and terrorism will not be responded to subtlely or with restraint, but with devastating force.

Ultimately, some signs suggest that the Mullahs want to make money and we should let free market capitalism continue to do what Marx, Hayek, and Friedman predicted it would do - insinuate itself everywhere in the world. When it does, religious fundamentalism will weaken as elites become more concerned with their trade and finance ties, which give them power and status, rather than maintaining ancient chieftanships.

Along the way, we want to dampen the fires that will cause war and isolation, and interfere with modernization, while at the same time modeling better free market arrangements, institutions and governance so that more people than less are directly included in the wealth. This will include deempahsizing scale, both in terms of economies of scale and Big Business firms, and encouraging greater lateral linking and networking.

Most signs seem to point that if we can keep tensions down and links increasing, that elites in all parts of the globe usually choose to enrich themselves by joining in the global economy. As they do, we can invite them to enjoy ever greater benefits of trading and cooperating with us should they increasingly open themselves in other ways.

Posted by: Jimm on January 14, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck it. The right wins. Let's invade Iran.

No, seriously. Why not?

Let's roll.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft on January 14, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

My middle east viewpoint is going to be different, and sometimes appear to be more hard-line than that of my fellow liberals. I formed it 50 miles from the Syrian border.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, get your Military Intel ass over here!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

It is sad that Kevin thinks sanctions or worse military action will do any good other than uniting millions of progressive Persians behind the ultra fanatic forces that have assumed the Presidency since June, the new President is making those anti-Israeli comments precisely because he needs a foreign crisis to foster his own power, just like when Bush became popular after Sept. 11th, So, as an Iranian bloger and someone who hates this regime and paid the price of opposing them at age of 20 by imprisonment, I like to simply post the letter that father of Persian bloggers has written to clarify the position of many of Persian bloggers on the recent developments

Dear US and EU leaders,

You can't stop Iran from achieving nuclear Tech. You dont have enough diplomatic options, or military solutions. Simply because Iran has played this much smarter than you.

To be honest, it's not the bombs that endangers the region. it's the undemocratic, threatening regime of Iran that makes any technology dangerous, let alone nuclear ones.

So, please, instead of pouting all your energy on stopping Iran, channel all your resources to make this regime change its behaviour.

It's not possible by military attack or coup. It's only possible by helping every Iranian individual understand that they can reform this regime if they want to. Not through another violent revolution, but simply through small holes that for whatever reason exist: elections!

I know elections are not democratic enough. But it's the only way to go. When people elected reformist Khatami(1997) they proved how this system could reluctantly change from within. And if Khatami had a stronger character and courage, we would not have this racist fundamentalist guy, Ahmadinejad, as Iran's president.

Khatami failed, but it doesn't mean the reform movemenet that people found to change the system was wrong. Eight years of challenging the status quo with a strong grip on power is not enough at all. We need two or three more of these eight years to be able to change the way things are going.

So I'd suggest you, in order to be able to relax about Iran again, focus on its people.

Use your resources (funding, media, education, etc.) to reach ordinary Persians and the vast number of young people who already have different social values. Show them how Iran ideally could be and convince them they could easily change it, by getting engaged.

This time, isntead of promoting inaction and boycott, encourage everyone to participate in the coming elections. The way you do in Iraq.

Iranians have long lost their hope in controlling their destiny and this is where the problem lies.

If Iran becomes democratic, it will be the biggest promoter of peace and security in the region.

All the best,
Hossein Derakhshan

AND I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS PIECE:

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7182

Posted by: Bahman Kalbasi on January 14, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

This threat is turning so paranoid, why would the Iranians attack the US if they are being treated fairly? The US toppled an elected Iranian Government, the Iranians did not topple an American government, they are thousands of miles away, we supported the Iraqies under Saddam against the Iraniens, the Iraniens lost their sons, we did not loose our sons in Iran. Are we going nuts and see a terrorist under every bed, could they single handedly invade the US??

This is so crazy, and yes Cranky, since WW2 we have not won a war without alies, except Panama and Grenada. Think about it.

The European Union only France and England have nuclear weapons, the others don't even want them. to win a nuclear war would be futil, nothing will be left to win.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it the only way out of this mess is to allow Iran to have the bomb. This will ensure that the US finally respects its soveriegnty. The US will feel it has no choice but to set up a serious relationship. The Iranians will be all chuffed with thier new nuclear power status and play along.

State department is not blessed with much imagination. If they get somewhere good, its going to be by accident. Since all nations with nuclear weapons are automatically made into our friends, this may be the only way to get peace.

And for those who think we are ever going to have a sensible non-proliferation treaty - I wish you well and hope that I am wrong but I look at Rice and I don't see it happening.

It's going to slip through our fingers one country at a time.

Bets on whose next. If you bet North Korea you are out of the game. That will not happen. How about Zimbabwe? Turkey? Turkmenistan? Burma?


Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

GC - I am happy to defer to your superior knowledge about the Middle East. But I just don't think ANYBODY who heads a nation is crazy enough to obliterate themselves. Their fixation is on survival at any cost (just look at Bush), not self-destruction. They will NOT pull the trigger and commit suicide.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

I just don't buy that, GC. Didn't we used to call the Soviets crazy fuckers too? Nobody is stupid enough to bring their own certain destruction.

You're thinking in terms of European or Western rationalism. A leader operating from this school of thought would indeed have to be insane to risk the incineration of his own country. But what if a leader thinks from the perpective of a religious determinism heavily steeped in eschatology?

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about 10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government but widely believed - is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.

Iran's dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.

This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.

Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

The prospect of such a man obtaining nuclear weapons is worrying. The unspoken question is this: is Mr Ahmadinejad now tempting a clash with the West because he feels safe in the belief of the imminent return of the Hidden Imam?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/14/wiran14.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/01/14/ixworld.html

Are you willing to entrust your children's future to your assumption that Iran's president thinks like you and I, or that the mullahs have him sufficiently under control? We'd better hope your assumptions are correct.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on January 14, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see much of a c), unfortunately. And both a) and b) suck.

If we want to be honest with ourselves, we need to recognise that a nuclear Iran is in Iran's interest (at least as long as noone goes MAD), so that we lose some of our ability to have a b) in the future. The only way to stop them is with a huge carrot, or a huge stick. I don't know what that carrot would be, and using the stick is going to hurt us more than it hurts them.

Posted by: Tom on January 14, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, we already have sanctions on Iran. Have had since 5 November 1979, if it took 'em until the next day to impose them. The rest of the world hasn't joined us yet. Think they might now? How do you suppose the Iranians will up-the-ante after the UN imposes broad sanctions for their nuclear program? Maybe they will stop kick IAEA inspectors out?

With the fuckers we sent to Washington in charge, this could escalate out of control.

I'm not arguing for a war there. My position is that the president screwed us all when he went after Iraq, a country weakened by two decades of war and sanctions, and ignored the real threats that were out there in favor of a personal vendetta.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida

Your question is based on the assumption that we have some leverage over the Iranians. Uh, we don't. Because actually its a different country. And they have a very good friend now called China who we owe a lot of money.

A totally different approuch is needed immeadiately. The Iranians have to be treated like people who may have different opinons and values but are capable of conducting themselves like adults - that they have legitimate grevances with the west the HAVE NEVER BEEN ADDRESSED.

They are pissed off with reason. What is the point of denying this when we lack so many of the cards we need to play? Are we going to invade? Increase the embargo? Thats not going to work. China will not come on board for that.

The bomb-and-be-done-with-it crowd are making all the mistakes we have been making for years. And with the Dolt leading us, we are in trouble.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing that even when a friendly like Kevin poses the question the Left still seems stuck on saying "It's not our fault so we can just blame it on Bush".

If you want to rule you need to propose policy solutions. Otherwise the American people will just say "Well, whoever's fault it is we still need a plan and you don't have one."

Here are my thoughts on what to do:

  1. Iran would not be a threat if they didn't have money. So start by bombing the oil export infrastructure. No one will sell them nukes for promises of money based on future revenues.

  2. Cut them off from the international banking system. Any bank that deals with them in any way and does not freeze all their assets loses its US rights. Permanently. Make it so the only way they can pay for anything is physical shipments of cash, gold, etc.

  3. Be serious about these sanctions... business executives who violate them should wake up one morning to SEALs or Delta Force members kissing them on the cheek.

  4. Execute a real blockade. Destroy ports unloading facilities, roads, and railroads that enter Iran.

Once you finish these steps they have a hard time hitting back - without money they're more like Sudan than a major threat.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 14, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

*stop cooperating and kick inspectors out. Sorry.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, I didn't mean to be quite so bitchy to the person who suggested we wage peace. Really, I didn't and it is a lovely idea, but I just do not believe we as a species are quite evolved enough to pull it off.

Call it the cynicism of being forty-something.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedman: On Option two, what do you do when a Chinese bank which part owned by the Communist Government decides to finance the building of the Iranian oil infrastructure? ( for a hefty political favor btw) . You going to cut off a Chinese bank that you owe billions and billions of dollars to? By the end of your scenario China will own Iran and Iran will still have a bomb.

GW has placed our gonads in hands of our enemies.


Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

"If it comes to that, Blue Nomad, they won't care about the quality of the intel. Concern for civilian casualties will barely meet the level of "lip service.""

That's probably true, although I was speaking primarily to the question of accuracy. Bombing hummus factories in the provinces is not liable to make us safer.

Of course, if the Iranians respond by lobbing missiles at US installations in Iraq it probably won't matter if we hit the nuclear sites or not because we'll be at war with Iran, and invading the entire country in very short order.

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on January 14, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Lo and behold, I found a link about the Iranian "so what" response to possible sanctions.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

We're not invading anywhere. What three countries across the waist of central asia in the Empire of America? Do you want every nation in the world to have the bomb? When they shoot Musharaf, do we invade Pakistan? Are we invading Egypt if that goes tits up? This is not a solution. Its grave digging.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, Hossein Derakhshan's letter describes the most plausible of any "third way" that we might have to work with.

As with Lebanon, Iran is much closer to a democratic tipping point than many other Middle Eastern nations. Working with the opposition without being heavy-handed about it can't hurt, and it might help.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz : Working with the opposition without being heavy-handed about it can't hurt, and it might help.

Me: yes but we don't.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

It boggles my mind that the usually wiser posters in these threads believe that more than a very small minority of Muslims believe in the caricature of 75 virgins.....

Jimm; Our ability to discuss options keeps us from turning PA into an echo chamber! :)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Global

I hope you are sitting down. What we think about 75 virgins is of absolutely no consequence to this arguement. It is quite completely irrelevant to the serious matter of dealing with people in a the respectful way that is required.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

lots of arm chair generals and foreign policy experts here.

yeah bomb the hell out of them.

no one seems to understand that it's our Iraq misadventure that has been the most beneficial to the Iranians. Sistani is not going to sit idly by if Iranians are really threatened. He may be our unwilling ally now, but when it comes to chosing sides between US and Iran, his choice is obvious. With 150000 of our troops in Iraq, all hell will break lose if the Iraqi Shias decide to no longer support our presence there.

The only solution is a diplomatic one. I hope that all this sabre rattling by the Bush administration is just for domestic consumption for November.

Posted by: lib on January 14, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

GC: OK, but how do you think we should go about evolving enough to wage peace? By doing it! By showing some goddamned humanity, wisdom and leadership here in Powerful Country Number One. Not by calling it 'a lovely idea' and letting the unchecked-militarism crowd notch up another victory. I mean damn, what choice do we have but to fight for waging peace? Yes, FIGHT for waging peace! Obviously it's gonna take that, if it ever happens. Needless to say, this is a fight that does not involve weapons and killing, but heart, courage and the highest level of commitment. And a whole lot of faith in the basic goodness of humanity, rather than the cowardly flaming of our fears and vulnerabilities for the sake of political power-mongering.

And P.B. Almeida, I agree with exclab's response at 9:53 to your response at 9:36 to this statement of mine about Iran's leaders: "Nobody is stupid enough to bring their own certain destruction."

Your concern is certainly valid, indeed, it's one I have about Bush and his Armageddon-like religious views as well. But I just think it's wrong-headed to kill people and cause mass destruction because we think somebody might be crazy enough to do something like that, or might someday come over here and kill us. What gives us the right to wage war on a maybe? That was my pre-invasion opinion about Iraq as well. It's hubris of the highest order act so presumptively.

And of course we only do it because we can.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, in on itself, Iran is not a threat to the United States. Even with nukes, Iran is not a threat to the United States. Same as Iraq, actually. The Iranian clergy may be Neanderthals, but they are not stupid and have every intention of continuing to live and stay in power. They know damn well that a nuke in Seattle or Tel Aviv would spell instant doom for them.

The problem with the Iranians getting nukes is then you have the Saudis wanting nukes. The Syrians will probably want nukes. I'm sure one of those oil emirates-- Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi -- they may want nukes. This area of the world already has three too many nuclear powers (Israel, India, Pakistan) as it is. More nukes here means the greater chance of someone like Osama bin Laden getting his hands on them. Bombing Iran may well destabilize the region. Neither China nor Russia will permit sanctions, and the Europeans may well agree. The only reason why there were sanctions against Iraq was because, when the sanctions were imposed, Iraq was occupying Kuwait.

The Bush Administration could very well solve this problem, and that frankly means acting like adults and showing leadership for once. This stuff needs a regional solution. The Iranians give up their nuclear program and recognize Israel. The Israelis give up their nuclear program and withdraw from the West Bank. The Saudis ... they're unredeemable assholes anyways, but they give up their nuclear program. The United States recognizes Iran, there is some apologies for the past (America apologizes for the shah, Iran for the hostages), and gets Iranian help in solving its Iraq problems.

Pollyannaish? Sure. But unlike warfare, this has a chance of actually working. The best situation for which the United States could hope in attacking Iran is the situation it now has in Iraq, and to get this far it would need to conscript about 1% of its eligible males, something that would not be acceptable.

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande on January 14, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Persian nation is an old, old civilization, so far they did not commit suizide, why should they now.

Also we should remember they do have OIL.

The Europeans now are diplomatic, see Merkel, but you don't know how far they are willing to go, they have selfinterests too.

Then there is Russia and China, also with selfinterests.

We do need a foreign policy with BRAINS not just muscle.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

And now a fuse has been lit on a bomb that could blow up the world.

Try and get a grip. Iran would probably be doing the same damn thing if we had the numbers of troops deployed in Afghanistan that the Left thinks we should have had, and Saddam was still running Iraq with his military intact.

Then what? Invade Iran with whatever troops we had left over? With Saddam at our back?

In addition to that, Iran has almost three times the population of Iraq, and almost four times the area. So what exactly would we be doing with whatever part of our military wasn't tied down in Afghanistan?

Whatever arguments might be made against the Iraq war, the idea that it's somehow a major factor preventing us from invading Iran is ridiculous.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Mickey Kaus recently mentioned the possibility of using carrots rather than sticks with Iran. His proposals ranged from the thoroughly plausible (full membership to the WTO) to the unlikely (integration into the European Common Market). While you specifically asked for what would be the best response politically (and this is probably a bad political response), this is certainly an idea that has potential to achieve progress.

Posted by: Ben Lawrence on January 14, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jones

I am afraid the war option is every ready for GW because he actually can't do the diplomacy thing. He's just not very good at his job. So he has to go to war to solve problems.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Exclab says:

Michael Friedman: On Option two, what do you do when a Chinese bank which part owned by the Communist Government decides to finance the building of the Iranian oil infrastructure? ( for a hefty political favor btw) . You going to cut off a Chinese bank that you owe billions and billions of dollars to? By the end of your scenario China will own Iran and Iran will still have a bomb.

Of course.

Think about it.

When you owe $10,000 to a bank and stop paying you have a problem. When you owe $10 billion to a bank and stop paying they have a problem.

All we do is declare that all the US government bonds owned by that bank are null and void and publish their serial numbers. Instant mega-fine.

If the Chinese don't like it what are they going to do? Stop selling us clothes and computers? And have half the factories in the Pearl River Delta start laying off workers? Not bloody likely.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 14, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

GC: OK, but how do you think we should go about evolving enough to wage peace? By doing it! By showing some goddamned humanity, wisdom and leadership here in Powerful Country Number One. Not by calling it 'a lovely idea' and letting the unchecked-militarism crowd notch up another victory. I mean damn, what choice do we have but to fight for waging peace? Yes, FIGHT for waging peace! Obviously it's gonna take that, if it ever happens. Needless to say, this is a fight that does not involve weapons and killing, but heart, courage and the highest level of commitment. And a whole lot of faith in the basic goodness of humanity, rather than the cowardly flaming of our fears and vulnerabilities for the sake of political power-mongering.

I think what we're looking for is details here.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

PS. Exclab, what bank (even a Chinese one) is going to finance building an oil infrastructure when we announce our intention bomb it?

We won't even be directly hurting the Chinese - they'll be financing the oil infrastructure, not owning it. The Iranians will still be on the hook to pay up on the loan.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 14, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Freedman

And the US bond goes into the junk heap. We've got republicans running this country and Republicans administrations spend. What are they going to spend if the Chinese cut off the money flow? Who else will buy US bonds? At what price.

The chinese won't have to raise the Yuan. The Dollar will come down it.

You are proposing defaulting on national bonds. Telling the government of China, who by the way own a lot of these banks, that you are not going to pay your debts.

What will happen to american banks? You're handing our enimies our asses with a sprig of parsley on top.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

I am afraid the war option is every ready for GW because he actually can't do the diplomacy thing. He's just not very good at his job. So he has to go to war to solve problems.

I think the point, for those who manage to surface above their Bush Derangement Syndrome, is that diplomacy to get them to stop their nuclear program hasn't been working that well either right now.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 14, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Got to hand it to you Freedman. If you think it might work, GW is the guy to convince. The next president might not have the same appitude problems.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

I've just discovered that it's quite unlikely that the Bush administration is concerned about
Iran's potential to develop a nuclear weapon.
That's the fake. Here's the scoop:

Petrodollar Warfare

Posted by: nepeta on January 14, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Got to hand it to you Freedman. If you think it might work, GW is the guy to convince. The next president might not have the same appitude problems.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz

Diplomacy has not been tried yet. What has been tried is presenting Iran with a series of conditions and demanding that they obey. This is ridiculous. Thats not diplomacy, its school yard bullying.

Nepeta

I can't get the link

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Exclab,

This is why the Republicans will keep winning national security elections.

You don't have an answer and you don't want there to be an answer.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 14, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, tbrosz, how I wish we were, in fact, looking for details. Cuz it would be quite a wonderful and huge discussion. But don't you see how the whole climate in this country, especially since 2001, actively, constantly, overtly, covertly and in every other possible way discourages any serious discussion about waging peace? Look at the mind-numbing detail we're willing to engage in -- even here on a liberal blog! -- about warmaking. And, if we're going to wage war, rightly so.

Well, it would take the same level of effort and scrutiny to discuss the details of a peace-waging camgaing -- and, moreover, a national climate in which such a discussion and debate might actually take place. That's the problem with the uber-militaristic attitude we now take for granted in this country, that trying to nip at the edges of a very difficult and serious discussion about waging peace just gets laughed off the national agenda, its protaganists chided as wimps, symps and appeasers.

Posted by: Jones on January 14, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous...Having said that, all options are on the table." -- President George W. Bush, February 2005

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

You're wrong. I do have an answer.

1. Address Iranian concerns directly. We funded the Shah. We helped train Savak. There is no reason why we should deny this. Lets have a big old tearful "but we really love each other now" type thing. We both admit we were wrong and get on with it. Basically someone does a "Nixon in China" to Iran.

2. When the crying is over, we make a big deal about the US forming new alliances of respect with our Moslem friends. We lay off thier internal politics ( as we do now with China ) and they will stop buzzing our friends. We take off the embargo, they stop threatening. Then we join hands and say that here is an agreement to stand as an example of friendship that can support non-proliferation.

There really isn't any reason for us to be enemies with Iran. The whole thing is utterly dumb. We can both help each other immensely. But we have to be respectful. For decades we and they have not been. If you want to get all moral about it fine. That what we do with GW in office, but morality is a poor diplomat.

We have not even started to try. And everytime we make a mistake China picks up the pieces.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

And everytime we make a mistake China picks up the pieces.

For a fee, of course.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kind of funny how the left has totally abandoned any commitment to human rights.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

OIL EMBARGO

We can't attack Iran - we're too dependent on their oil. With Iraq's production at lows, gas prices not much below all time highs, anyone really dumb enough to believe we would risk another major disruption to the oil supply? Add to that the risk that the war itself gets portrayed as a proof of a wider war against Islam, and you now have the risk of a wider OPEC embargo.

One more example of the short-sighted incompetence of this administration. After 911 we should have had a Manhattan Project style effort to end America's dependence on oil. Gee, why wouldn't a bunch of Texas oil men go for that?

Also, Saudi Arabia not only has oil but also holds large chunks of our debt. Is anyone really dumb enough to believe that WE have leverage over THEM?

Sorry, but everyone aside from brainwashed Republican cult members know that the threat of a US air strike on Iran is laughable. Oh, sure, this administration is incompetent, arrogant, and dumb enough to still do it - but the consequences will be very, very severe in the long run. (But hey, all they care about is the midterm election and their own personal wealth - so they'll be just fine).

If at long last you are still a Bush supporter, your ignorance, arrogance, greed, and immorality make you a danger to yourself and everyone around you. Please get professional help.

Posted by: Augustus on January 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Are you willing to entrust your children's future to your assumption that Iran's president thinks like you and I, or that the mullahs have him sufficiently under control? We'd better hope your assumptions are correct.

Depends. Is this any different than the possibility of President Bush having the Left Behind collection on his bookshelf?

In my opinion, Hossein Derakhshan's letter describes the most plausible of any "third way" that we might have to work with.

I have my rare moment of agreeing with Tom. Gasp.

But yeah, it's not Iran having The Bomb that's a threat. It's a theocratic America/Israel-unfriendly Iran having The Bomb that's the problem. Replace that with a liberal democratic and America/Israel-indifferent Iran, and we're getting somewhere with fewer casualties on all sides.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 14, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't abandoned my commitment to Human Rights. Where did you get that notion? Which posts? This thread has grown to nearly 200 by now.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, Hossein Derakhshan's letter describes the most plausible of any "third way" that we might have to work with.

Oh yeah! I meant to agree with that assessment a while back, before the grandkid needed a bath and a bedtime story...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedman : When you owe $10 billion to a bank and stop paying they have a problem.
...
All we do is declare that all the US government bonds owned by that bank are null and void and publish their serial numbers. Instant mega-fine.
...
If the Chinese don't like it what are they going to do? Stop selling us clothes and computers?

Wow, neocon economics in a nutshell! We owe so much money in that we're in the driver's seat.

When Keynes observed that big insolvent debtors are a problem for the bank, it was understood that it was also a big problem for the debtor.

BTW, ever hear of a guy named Alexander Hamilton? One of his most important accomplishments as first Secretary of the Treasury was to ensure that the US gov't honored its debts no matter what. As a result our credit went from garbage to sterling in a few years. The last 200+ years have showed the wisdom of that policy. However, the neocon mentality is even more radical than I suspected.

Lastly, rather than selling us clothes and computers the Chinese could keep the factories humming and dump the products in the ocean. If we're not going to pay for them it's just as sensible.

Posted by: alex on January 14, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

You're wrong. I do have an answer.

But it doesn't involve saying "Fuck You" to anyone who looks at us cross-eyed, so it's not a real answer.

The more I read of this Friedman fellow, the more I think of Erns Janning. It's uncanny.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 14, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

We can do more damage to the ayatollahs by dropping KFCs and Blockbusters in Iran than we can by dropping fuel-air bombs.

I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 14, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dustbin; Every time I say something about my husband being "one of the brainiacs that won the cold war" he tells me to make sure to give McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola, and Levi-Strauss their due, they had as much to do with the fall of the soviet empire as did the nuclear missiles he maintained for 12 years and the intel he processed for a decade more.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Chineses have the largest army in the world, and the ability to transport a few hundred thousand troops to the Panama Canal Zone efficiently.

Do we really want to go there?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Then what? Invade Iran with whatever troops we had left over? With Saddam at our back?

This is a concern because...Saddam and the Iranians were such good buddies???

I don't think so.

I think that prior to the inevitable insurgency which everyone foresaw but the Bush administration, invading Iraq was seen as a strategic move to gain a foothold for military basing in the region.

Now that our troops are not only tied down in Iraq but that the world has seen just how indefatigable an insurgency can be even against an overwhelmingly superior force, having invaded Iraq is arguably a poor move in hindsight if we're interested, arguendo, in invading Iran (which is clearly insane).

If it came to that, however, we would probably just pull back our forces to the permanent bases in Iraq, declare victory, and use those outposts as forward bases against Iran, making available force levels a moot issue.

Until potentially the Iraqis took exception to such a turn of events.

Again, all insane, but this whole thread has been so why not play along?

All throughout history people have demonized their enemies local, regional and national as soulless, merciless, murderous and more insane than anyone they've ever encountered. The Japs were inhuman, the Indians were brutal savages, the godless Soviets had no conscience, the mountain people were animals, it's just endless.

Then once the conflict with an enemy was defused the next enemy was felt as more insane than the last, who was often now a great ally.

If the experience of the average Germans's embrace of Nazi horrors has taught us anthing it's that there is just as much potential for evil in the banality and high-mindedness of the west as in the fanaticism and desperation of the middle east.

A dozen women and children were killed today in Pakistan by an American missile and who here shed a tear over that? Whose sense of justice was enraged? Who imagined their own family being blown to bits by a missile from a foreign country? Who's wept for the tens of thousands of innocents killed and maimed in Iraq because we were afraid of weapons that never existed?

Few of us, I'm sure, because there's always a way to either justify or just ignore the horror. "It's far away, they're poor, we have to do something to find bin Laden, they deserve it because their government isn't trying hard enough to find him, we can't wait for mushroom clouds" etc.

It's easy.

Until it's a missile blowing up our house, then it's the worst evil in history and we'll have our payment in blood!

Gods save us from the innocent and the good.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 14, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

And really, what would we do? What could we do? If we knew that ships were steaming toward the canal zone loaded with a quarter million troops, what could we do besides posture and threaten? Sink a couple of boats? Not bloody likely. And do you really think, after the way King George has cocked everything up that we would have very much world support? Hell no. The rest of the world is liking the cheap cloths and computers too, and more than a few would live to see the US get a bloody nose.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Thats supposed to say "love to see the US get a bloody nose." But actually, it works either way, now that I think about it...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Our. Foreign. Policy. Sucks.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 14, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading the comments here for a couple of weeks now. I thought I had a pretty good idea what drove most of the regulars. Then today I got confused. Global Citizen, are you a troll? I didn't think so before this thread, but now I am not so sure. Where are you coming from here?

Posted by: Just Wondering on January 14, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedman

1..THe liberal conservative dichotomy is only useful as a way of sidestepping an arguement.


2. On Human rights: Iran has soveriegnty in Iran. You want to go over there and straighten out thier moral values for them? When are we invading China? Thier morals are much worse. You and sloppy boy GW gonna get on with that? No. I didn't think so.

3. I didn't support Gingrich's contract for america but I liked his serious ideas on the budget. That was sweet victory when he pressured a democrat to make sense of lousy social policy. How much of a liberal am I now? The republicans betrayed Gingrich without a thought. I don't mean his political carrer. He's a politician. He knew the game. It was his principles they so wontly embrassed and then abandoned. Left? Right? Liberal? Conservative? In the USA its meaningless. The left entertains the poor with give aways and crap education. The republicans pretend they don't exist.

And now the Dolt. Junior. The Sleeping Prince. The little brain that could. Maybe we deserve him.

Posted by: exclab on January 14, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bush should ask a democrat like Clinton or Carter to go negotiate with Iran. If he sticks to using the guys and gals in his own administration, the choices will be the ones Kevin has listed.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 15, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Actually , little ole jim from red country, I wouldn't use Carter but Bush Sr. and Clinton would be a good team.

Turns out Bush Sr. was the best war president we've had since Nixon. And Clinton in the Balkans makes him second best.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Oops correction

Bush Sr. best war president since Johnson? Maybe even further back Truman maybe.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

little ole jim, you drop pearls of wisdom from those thoughtful and thought-provoking fingertips of yours! That is the best idea of the entire thread. And I oughta know. I've read every comment...Twice. (I don't get so forceful with my opinion like I have today without re-reading to make sure that I didn't misconstrue anyones ideas or opinions.)

(as for "am I a troll?" That's in the eye of the beholder, sweetie. Read what I posted and decide for yourself.)

Posted by: Just Wondering on January 15, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

A troll is basically a person who disagrees with the opinions of three other people who have decided among themselves that they know whats going on and everyone else should be paying attention. If you fit this then you are troll. The represents structured political discourse in the USA at the beginning of the 21st century.

"Troll!" There you have it in all its glory.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

I DON'T THINK SO.

Atrios is almost certainly right about this,

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Bush should just start talking about mushroom clouds - yeah that's the ticket - even the Republicans will start bailing out over fear on that ticket. NOBODY is going to be interested in Iran as a REAL threat - NATO will do nothing for Bush. The UN will do nothing for Bush. Bush's only card has ever been the fear factor but it's all over now.

Iraq is a big fucking mess - the longer Bush stays, the more Mideasterns hate Bush, and the more the UN looks on and shakes their collective heads over the mess Bush created by lying to them. Bush lied and lied - now he's lossing this war just like Howard Dean said. There is no way out of lossing this war in Iraq, and bombing Iran will only increase the hate and violence in the Mideast, causing more distrust of the US and it's policies - Bush made US citizens a WHOLE of LOT more unsafe.

Bush can't talk about war or even air strikes - he's beat the war horse to death. To bad its the only card Bush could play, and its too late to say anything - most Americans want OUT of this war in Iraq. This is why Bush is pushing diplomacy, insisting on it even - Bush has no other card left to play, AND since Bush has already burned all his bridges there is no country left that will aid Bush and half of the US doens't listen to Bush, just Bush ever srinking right wing radicals - the only ones that believe in Bush - and that isn't enough support to amount to hill of beans, let alone draft.

And Kevin, nobody is going to listen to you fret about it either - centrist Dems can't play this card anymore than Bush can play it right now. So just keep channel Peter Beinart, but it won't do you any good. Iran might be dangerous but how dangerous is Iran? Is it as dangerous as post war Iraq? Does the CIA know? Is Bush cherry-picking again.

Bush has to fall back on diplomacy - there is no other card left for Bush to play. None whatsoever.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 15, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Global, I respect your opinions, and was only specifically objecting to the caricature of Islam (75 virgins) as representative of Iranian leadership or Shiite theology, as well as the classic enemy projection propaganda of Iranian leaders being "insane".

It's old-school war and hate mongering propaganda, and I will always object to it. Further, it obscures your better points, which should remain focused on reality, and not right wing propaganda. I'm not saying the Iranian president may not be a religious zealot who hates Israel, but we should not overestimate his power or influence, or draw too much hint of Iran's actual behavior from their rhetorical and political demogogues. They've been talking like this for a long time, but currently we have right wing propaganda interests who are now keen to promote this (which costs money to do).

Someone is investing in this propaganda effort to paint Iran's leaders as insane, and to misrepresent the nature of Iran's leadership, in terms of who is really in charge, and we can only guess why. I'm sure there are elements "over there" that can make just as emotionally deceiving and convincing a case on President Bush, messianic Christianity, and Left Behind.

If only the grassroots of both nations could get together for a camping outing, sit around the crossfire, and laugh together at all the stupid and hateful bullshit that our elites have drummed into us about each other.

There is no reason this cannot happen, especially in this distributed media age, and it's time we stop believing the lies and seek out our fellow bullshitted, break bread, and make peace. It's what we all really want.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, are you a troll?

No, she's like class president or something, but unpredictably is quite the hardliner about Iran. I really don't mind hardline arguments about Iran as long as they are rational, evidence-based, and do not engage in caricature to manipulate emotions and "other" fear.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Cheryl

He of the slow uptake, has left himself out in the cold in a hard hard world. And his arguement now? "Support me or the soldier gets it". Emotional extortion. "I messed up so now you have to support me or the whole thing blows." Who is this child?

But the dems are not going to sort themselves out. If they couldn't laugh off the Dean scream, they have no sand, no moral fiber.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm as skeptical as anyone that the administration will be able to pursue (or be interested in pursuing) the kinds of diplomatic maneuvering this might take in order to work. (Recall Bush's disdain for "nuance.") However, you're kidding yourself if you think an Iran with nuclear weapons is no big deal. They're a state sponsor of Hezbollah, and the current president is a complete nut-job who has said, repeatedly, that he wants to see Israel removed from the face of the earth.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 15, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

AARRRGH!That is like the third time that my computer at home has changed my "Name" when I click on someones email address! That never happens on the Unix system at work! Oh well, it was a fake email anyway. This 'puter sucks. Never mind I look like a jerk...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Chaunce

A lot of people want to see Israel removed from the face of the earth. Which means

1. The Middle east is crazy

or

2. The president of Iran is a canny politician speaking directly things that concern the population of the middle east now.

It's not number one.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

This was actually posted by me: (has anyone else had the problem I described above? On Windows xp?)

little ole jim, you drop pearls of wisdom from those thoughtful and thought-provoking fingertips of yours! That is the best idea of the entire thread. And I oughta know. I've read every comment...Twice. (I don't get so forceful with my opinion like I have today without re-reading to make sure that I didn't misconstrue anyones ideas or opinions.)

(as for "am I a troll?" That's in the eye of the beholder, sweetie. Read what I posted and decide for yourself.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

AARRRGH!That is like the third time that my computer at home has changed my "Name" when I click on someones email address! That never happens on the Unix system at work! Oh well, it was a fake email anyway. This 'puter sucks. Never mind I look like a jerk...

Huh?

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I get it. I wouldn't worry about that...sounds like an XP glitch. Who would believe it possible?

:)

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

I was going to send our new friend an email with all my comments in order, and when I clicked on the email address my computer changed my name and email to the one I had just clicked on. This has happened to me before, and a couple of those times I didn't catch it, like this time. This usually happens when I click on a blatantly fake email address. It changes my signature and I end up posting something as the person I just tried to email. This time I didn't catch it.

Is this unique to this computer, or has anyone else experienced this? It's only tis computer that has XP, the old desktop with 98 never does this, and the UNIX system I use at work never does that. This is the only computer it has ever happened to me on.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

The solution is ... get a Mac!

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen asks:

I haven't abandoned my commitment to Human Rights. Where did you get that notion? Which posts? This thread has grown to nearly 200 by now.

Not you, Exclab.

Alex says:

Lastly, rather than selling us clothes and computers the Chinese could keep the factories humming and dump the products in the ocean. If we're not going to pay for them it's just as sensible.

Who says we're not going to pay them? All we do is cut off one bank, not all trade with China.

Global Citizen says:

The Chineses have the largest army in the world, and the ability to transport a few hundred thousand troops to the Panama Canal Zone efficiently.

Do we really want to go there?

This is really just too funny. The Chinese don't even have the ability to transport a few hundred thousand troops across the Taiwan Strait (most military analysts say that any attempted Chinese invasion of Taiwan would result in a "Long Swim" to go with the "Long March"), never mind across the Pacific.

Even if they could get the troops to Panama they have no ability to support them logistically. Can you imagine them trying to get ships of ammunition to Panama with our submarines on the prowl?

There are a lot of ways China can make life difficult to us, but military action more than a few hundred miles by land from their own borders is not on the list.

Global Citizen asks:

And really, what would we do? What could we do? If we knew that ships were steaming toward the canal zone loaded with a quarter million troops, what could we do besides posture and threaten? Sink a couple of boats? Not bloody likely.

Ummm... perhaps I'm missing something, but why the hell not? The credible possibility that we would do the same thing if those boats headed for Taiwan has prevented a Chinese invasion of Taiwan for the last forty years and Taiwan is far less important to the US than Panama is.

Finally, Exlab rather inanely claims:

On Human rights: Iran has soveriegnty in Iran. You want to go over there and straighten out thier moral values for them? When are we invading China? Thier morals are much worse. You and sloppy boy GW gonna get on with that? No. I didn't think so.

Well, I'm not prepared to invade Iran purely over human rights but I'm also not prepared to ignore them.

I live and work in China but I also think we should be putting huge pressure on the Chinese on this issue. They need us more than we need them.

Finally, the claim that China is worse than Iran is just plain ludicrous unless you are going purely based on scale (ie. China has more torture than Iran but that's because it is so much bigger).

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 15, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thinkin real hard about that, exclab.

I use my daughters computer a lot when I babysit my grand-daughter at their house, and they have XP and it has never happened there. That's why I think maybe this laptop is posessed.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going to go to bed, this has been fun. I'm not on the "other" side very often. Mark Twain said "When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform." Every once and a while we all need to be in the minority and stick to our guns anyway, and engage in real debate, without being assholes and namecalling. That isn't possible on the right-wing blogs, and that is precisely why I'm a liberal. I would much rather hang out with you guys, and aren't we all, fairly or not, judged by the company we keep?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what Bush can do in regards to Iran. He can threaten, but Iran will simply ignore what he has to say, and there's very little that we can do, aside from imposing economic sanctions and offering carrots, to get them to stop constructing a bomb.

No American president, pacific or hawkish, Republican or Democratic, can gain much politically from the current standoff. If Bush makes threats, Iran will ignore them and he will look powerless; if he goes to war, the economic and military consequences will be devastating to America.

I also think that Iran's regime would be more likely to collapse if we simply ignored it--any attempt to destabilize the regime will inevitably be discovered, and will in turn be deployed by the Iranians as another reason to band together and to
silence internal dissent. If we start backing the Iranian opposition, then the Iranian nationalists will be able to more effectively claim that opposition to their governance is tainted with foreign influence.


That obnoxious dictator Fidel Castro would have been overthrown by his own people a long time ago if the US had eschewed regime change as a policy. The only thing keeping that tyrant in power is his ability to play on Cuban distrust of its enormous neighbor to the north.

Posted by: Arthur on January 15, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

Actually GC, your hardline advocacy today makes you more authentic, at least to me. Definitely an independent thinker.

And lest anyone take too much of my criticism of GC, it all started when she very briefly referenced (as an aside) someone else's post about 75 virgins and MAD, and I spun off of that. For the most part, the balance of the arguments here have been respectable (discounting a few of the Righties like Friedman who make no sense).

We're all going to have to talk through this issue so that we are ready to distinguish reality from fantasy, facts from mis/disinformation, and today was a good start. When the hate and warmongering gets in full gear, with all the money that will be spent on it, leave no doubt that the leaders of Iran will be seem just as evil and bogeymanish as Saddam Hussein to most of America.

It's an old game, and if you want to get a good refresher on it, read Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination by Sam Keen, or anything by Robert Jay Lifton, beginning with Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation With The World.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

How about this: As was PROVED in Iraq, sanctions are an effective way to isolate a rogue country and weaken it from within. The Bush Administration's fiasco in Iraq came after it ABANDONED sanctions and resorted to war. This EMBOLDENED a country dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the U.S. TO RESTART its nucelar program. The Bsh Administration has WEAKENED the United States militarily and in the EYES OF THE WORLD. The Republican Party CAN"T BE TRUSTED with our nation's military any longer. We need BOLD, HONEST, STRONG leaders instead of the IMPULSIVE, DISHONEST and MORALLY CORRUPT candidates offered by the Republican. Their policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

Posted by: secularhuman on January 15, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

I heard part of a presentation that Scott Ritter gave late last November where he claimed that the United States was ready to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iran because we were stretched too thin to invade and occupy.

Nuclear weapons as a preemptive strike.

Posted by: DavidLA on January 15, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm: I like your style. Your 12:29 AM post is excellent, just the kind of 'details' tbrosz asked for when I suggested waging peace.

Posted by: Jones on January 15, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: Iranians are culturally unique in the region. They are Persian, not Arab, not Kurd, not Turkmen. Persian. They don't speak Arabic, they speak Farsi. While the rest of the Muslim world is predominantly Sunni, Iran is overwhelmingly Shi'ite.

It's even more complex than that. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were educated in the US; the oil-producing region of Iran is predominantly inhabited by Arabs.

The idea of a million-man Iranian army invading Iraq is foolish: they haven't the air power to protect their vehicles from air attack.

It isn't known whether a majority think that the mullahs are worse than the Shah or vice-versa, and there seems to be a strong rural-urban split on the issue. Also not known is whether satellite antennas are installed faster than they are discovered and torn down, so it isn't known how much outside information is generally available.

I only mention these things to complicate the thinking.

On another point, the US has reduced its nuclear arsenal since the time that Iran ratified the NPT. Simply promising to reduce more probably will have little effect on Iranian policy.

Posted by: contentious on January 15, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Jones:

How about just one little detail? Doesn't have to be a big, complicated suggestion.

We have a leadership in Iran that is developing atomic weapons, believes that Israel should be wiped off the map, and has said that a retaliatory strike on Iran would be a small price to pay for the destruction of Israel.

Now, go "wage peace" at them. Let me know what you're going to say.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 15, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm: I like your style. Your 12:29 AM post is excellent, just the kind of 'details' tbrosz asked for when I suggested waging peace.

You inspired that last bit my friend. I tend to improvise and try to include other arguments without always being obvious about it. I likely never would have popped that last bit in without your influence, and I thank you for it, because in so many ways you're right about waging peace, and from now on I'm going to imagine myself as waging peace, which begins with undressing the emperors and pointing out the bullshit.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

Waging peace begins at home tbrosz.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

A few comments:

exclab:

You're wrong. I do have an answer.

Followed by recommendations of groveling, surrender, appeasement, and self-abasement. Those who are familiar with the culture in the Middle East will realize that this will really get the respect of our opponents. However, this approach isn't surprising, since this was a recommended technique through most of the Cold War, too.

***

Augustus:

We can't attack Iran - we're too dependent on their oil.

We don't import oil from Iran. And for some years, not from Iraq, either.

***

Windhorse:

This is a concern because...Saddam and the Iranians were such good buddies???

No, because during such a war, neither of them would be buddies with the U.S.

For you and others who keep bitching about that missile strike: If you have any better suggestions for dealing with the al Qaeda who are holed up in western Pakistan, I'd love to hear them. Pakistan seems to have lost interest in going after them with their own forces.

***

Global Citizen, are you a troll?

Global Citizen is a very intelligent person with a lot of experience and worthwhile comments. She is currently deep in the "plak tow" of Bush Derangement Syndrome, which tends to color a lot of her responses, but there's good stuff there. Definitely not a troll.

***

jim:

Bush should ask a democrat like Clinton or Carter to go negotiate with Iran.

We've done Carter negotiating with Iran already, thanks.

***

secularhuman:

How about this: As was PROVED in Iraq, sanctions are an effective way to isolate a rogue country and weaken it from within. The Bush Administration's fiasco in Iraq came after it ABANDONED sanctions and resorted to war.

One of the most remarkable things I've ever seen after the war in Iraq was the Left's complete rehabilitation of the sanctions on Iraq. You'd hardly believe now that the sanctions were considered a major crime against humanity just a few short years ago. You can still find old abandoned archives like this, with many dead links, as the history of the movement is enthusiastically erased, along with mantras like "5,000 children dying per month in Iraq."

Now, it's "sanctions were working!" What's really sad is that they really think nobody noticed the change.

***

Jimm:

Waging peace begins at home tbrosz.

You know, you'd be great at painting signs for a march. Nice words, strung together, conveying no information at all, but giving everyone who reads them a warm feeling that they're doing something good.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 15, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

What part of "waging peace begins at home" doesn't convey information immediately following "with undressing the emperors and pointing out the bullshit"?

Try this tbrosz, start at the top of the thread (preferably with Mozilla/Firefox), and search down the thread for "Jimm", all the way down, read all my posts, the steady progression, and come back and explain how I have not provided plenty of information in this thread, as well as specific details on how to wage and architect peace.

Never call out something that can be so easily ridiculed and contradicted.

It's bad form.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

After all, I have no desire to undress you Tom, but pointing out bullshit is always on the menu, no matter the chef.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Secularhuman say:

How about this: As was PROVED in Iraq, sanctions are an effective way to isolate a rogue country and weaken it from within. The Bush Administration's fiasco in Iraq came after it ABANDONED sanctions and resorted to war. This EMBOLDENED a country dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the U.S. TO RESTART its nucelar program. The Bsh Administration has WEAKENED the United States militarily and in the EYES OF THE WORLD. The Republican Party CAN"T BE TRUSTED with our nation's military any longer. We need BOLD, HONEST, STRONG leaders instead of the IMPULSIVE, DISHONEST and MORALLY CORRUPT candidates offered by the Republican. Their policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

How about we follow Secularhuman's lead and just beat them to death with CAPITAL LETTERS?

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 15, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, have you ever had an enemy, or at least somebody hostile to you, that you won over by a high-minded decision you made to befriend him or her? No matter what kind of nasty things they might say, you just overwhelmed them with kindness? You might call it "aggressive friendhship". You don't take no for an answer. You are, most importantly, sincere in your desire to end the enmity and convert an enemy to a friend, and you persist. Have you ever tried that? It works.

Now, in my mind, if the all-powerful, super-rich US of A ever decided to take such an approach with a so-called enemy, it would change everything. But, as I was saying before, there is simply not the climate or attitude to even consider such an approach in this country, especially with the power-lusting, paranoid, short-sighted moral midgets running our country now.

So, yeah, it's a big leap, and it obviously ain't gonna happen any time soon. But we can still wage peace if we choose too, each of us. Who knows what might happen if enough of us choose to defy these bastards who use their privelege and power to turn us all into cowards begging for their 'protection'. (Begging in a manly, patriotic way, of course.)

Posted by: Jones on January 15, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

"You might call it "aggressive friendhship". You don't take no for an answer. You are, most importantly, sincere in your desire to end the enmity and convert an enemy to a friend, and you persist. Have you ever tried that? It works."

Ever tried that with a homocidal maniac? Probably not, because you're still alive to talk to us.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on January 15, 2006 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK


Two final points.

One--Iran can make our position in Iraq even more difficult than it is now. If we attack them, they may not launch a conventional attack against our forces in Iraq--such a move would be vulnerable to US airpower--but they would probably try to flood the area with irregular forces to exact as high a price as possible from US forces--this in turn, would create a chaotic situation, with the possibility of starting a regional war--what if other middle eastern countries were to start supplying anti-Iranian factions in Iraq?

Furthermore, Iran, in a way, may function as kind of an international economic doomsday machine. If we
disrupt the Iranian economy through massive airstrikes, Iranian oil production will be disrupted, and oil prices will jump--whether we buy from Iran or not. That means, at the least,a partial replay of the 70s stagflation.

Again, a military strike would only work if it could be a replay of the Israeli strike on Iraq in 1981. Even then, in such a case, the Iranian leadership would feel compelled to demonstrate to its populace that such a strike could not go unpunished--and thus, they would do whatever they could to challenge the US position in Iraq.

We are in a position similar to that of the US in 1948--we could assume that the Russians were working on an atomic bomb, but there really wasn't all that much we could do about it, save a preemptive atomic strike.

Posted by: Arthur on January 15, 2006 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Seb, it's always possible to paint an extreme example in which a good idea doesn't work. It's a trick the RW has down pat. I mean, where would Sean Hannity be without that ploy?

So, since it doesn't work with the .0001 percent of humankind who are homicidal maniacs, I guess that means it's just another naive liberal notion, right? Certainly wouldn't work for a rich powerful country's policy with its much weaker, self-made enemies, right?

And who's the homicidal maniac in your example that destroys any validity to my suggestion?

And may I ask, have you ever tried it yourself? Just askin', as they say.

Posted by: Jones on January 15, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

We can't attack Iran - we're too dependent on their oil.

We don't import oil from Iran. And for some years, not from Iraq, either.


fungible \FUHN-juh-buhl\
noun -- a commodity that is freely interchangeable with another in satisfying an obligation
adjective -- of goods or commodities; freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation

Posted by: frodo on January 15, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should demand we bomb Tehran back to the stone age and then whatever Rove decides it will not be enough. I am recruting all the Persians in West LA to return to their country as liberators.

Posted by: falafel Jim on January 15, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm:

...come back and explain how I have not provided plenty of information in this thread, as well as specific details on how to wage and architect peace.

Earlier entry:

If only the grassroots of both nations could get together for a camping outing, sit around the crossfire, and laugh together at all the stupid and hateful bullshit that our elites have drummed into us about each other.

There is no reason this cannot happen, especially in this distributed media age, and it's time we stop believing the lies and seek out our fellow bullshitted, break bread, and make peace. It's what we all really want.

Good Lord. You have got to take that Billy Jack soundtrack album out of your CD player for a while.

Of course, you're not as bad as Jones:

tbrosz, have you ever had an enemy, or at least somebody hostile to you, that you won over by a high-minded decision you made to befriend him or her? No matter what kind of nasty things they might say, you just overwhelmed them with kindness? You might call it "aggressive friendhship". You don't take no for an answer. You are, most importantly, sincere in your desire to end the enmity and convert an enemy to a friend, and you persist. Have you ever tried that? It works.

We're not talking the school bully, here. We're talking about people who believe that anyone who does not adhere to their beliefs should be dead. Period.

Imagine you're a Jew sitting across the table from Hitler. What are you going to tell him? Where's the common ground, the meeting point? The compromise?

Evil exists. That so many in America can see it so easily in our own nation and government, while seeing it nowhere else, is, IMO, part of a poisonous philosophy that has been taught in our country way too long.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 15, 2006 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK


TBROSZ: One of the most remarkable things I've ever seen after the war in Iraq was the Left's complete rehabilitation of the sanctions on Iraq. You'd hardly believe now that the sanctions were considered a major crime against humanity just a few short years ago. You can still find old abandoned archives like http://www.casi.org.uk

I find it far more remarkable that you think this proves something. One link to an obscure archive in the United Kingdom isn't close to evidence for liberal hypocrisy. Now, if you could provide several links which showed persons decrying sanctions before the war and then several more of the same persons who after the invasion claimed they had been effective, you might have a case. Even then, many could feel that while the sanctions were very bad, attacking Iraq was much worse. But the larger point is that there never was anything approaching unanimity of agreement on the left regarding sanctions. Still, I'll concede the point to you if you can provide even one example of someone who before the war said the sanctions were a "major crime" and after it began said they had been working.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 15, 2006 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

No, tbrosz, we're not talking about the school bully here. But we're not the school sissy, either. For god's sake, we're the most powerful nation in the history of the planet. Comparing us to "a Jew sitting across the table from Hitler" is absurd, more of the straw-man tactics like Holsclaw used with his 'homicidal maniac' attack on the idea of trying to use one's power to befriend an enemy.

Yes, from one perspective there is undoubtedly evil in the world, in this country and this person as well as other countries and people. The question is how best to deal with it, in ourselves and in our fellow nations/people. And it's pretty obvious that the way our country is going about it now is having disastrous results.

But I suppose you and others of like mind will cling to the "they haven't attacked us again" mantra. What will you do when that fact is no longer at your disposal, as we all know is unfortunately inevitable?

So how do we deal with evil? At the risk of sounding like that famous Jew who started a now largely bastardized religion, might I suggest we start by dealing with the log in our own eye? By modeling peace, diplomacy, friendship, sanity and compassion for the rest of the world? We could do it, if we had the national will to do so. And the world would, after recovering from the shock, stand and take notice, then get on their knees and thank us for coming to our senses.

Ah well, just another easy naive notion to shoot down. Nothing easier than sounding like a tough-minded realist by spouting simplistic homilies about other people's evil ways.

Posted by: Jones on January 15, 2006 at 4:56 AM | PERMALINK

How much power does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really have? He doesn't control the armed forces and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (the crazy guy who does) issued a fatwah against Iran building nuclear weapons.

I see plenty of evil out there. I'm just not focused on Iran. China, Usbekistan, Sudan . . . it's all over.

How's the sky where you are tbrosz?

Posted by: frodo on January 15, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

I couldn't wade through 268 comments, so maybe someone has made a constructive suggestion. One of the biggest problems in resolving a dispute when it gets to this point of impass is that even if some of the Iranian's wanted to back down they would be unwilling to lose face. The problem is we have to have something to offer them in order to allow them to back down. My modest proposal: why don't we say if you abide by the European's framework we will pressure Israel to dismantle it's nuclear capability. We'd have to be willing to follow through, even threatening their foriegn aid to do it, but I think we've made enough sacrifices for Israeli security recently to be able to ask them to do this. This way everyone could declare themselve's the winner in the negotiations and the world might be a little bit safer.

Posted by: minion of rove on January 15, 2006 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

American policy in regards to Iran has been muddled since the late 1970's hostage crisis. It was quite a shock to us to encounter a political culture that was neither awed by potential total destruction at the hands of a superpower nor reluctant to violate the most basic principle of international law, namely that you shouldn't seize diplomatic communities and mistreat them.
Ever since the Carter years we have been trying to figure out how to deal with this part of the world. The first thought was to buy back the hostages, then subsidize a suitable enemy of Iran.

At first Saddam Hussein was our surrogate weapon of choice. When it became apparent that supporting a diabolical but not really very intelligent tyrant was more trouble than it is worth, we have decided to try to create a stable, modern democracy in Iraq, which will surely be a burr under Iran's saddle.

Now that Iran is reacting by rattling the nuclear option, I do hope the United States does not choose the too-easy option of merely bombing the Natanz facility and anything else in Iran that we don't like.

Here is the better plan. If we really want to make the Iranians sober up and cease to act the fools, all we have to do is announce that since the democratically elected government in Baghdad is to be threatened by regional nuclear powers, the U.S. will off the new Iraqi regime an option of purchasing 50 U.S. nuclear weapons and limited range delivery systems (on credit, of course.)

The U.S. will train a unit of the Iraqi army to be responsible for the nukes and will build some bases to hold them. Other than that, the Iraqi government will have complete control of these weapons and the U.S.A. will have no veto over their employment.

By this policy, America will demonstrate conclusively that we like and trust what we have encouraged in Iraq. Better yet, like nothing else could do, this policy would send a message to Iran and Saudi Arabia that the great age of medieval terrorist foreign policy is over.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 15, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Evil exists. That so many in America can see it so easily in our own nation and government, while seeing it nowhere else, is, IMO, part of a poisonous philosophy that has been taught in our country way too long.

That so many in America can see evil so easily in other countries and religions and political philosophies while never seeing the plank in their own eye is, IMO, part of a common yet troubling phenomenon called projective disorder that was addressed by Christ in the New Testament.

Posted by: trex on January 15, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the better plan. If we really want to make the Iranians sober up and cease to act the fools, all we have to do is announce that since the democratically elected government in Baghdad is to be threatened by regional nuclear powers, the U.S. will off the new Iraqi regime an option of purchasing 50 U.S. nuclear weapons and limited range delivery systems (on credit, of course.)

The U.S. will train a unit of the Iraqi army to be responsible for the nukes and will build some bases to hold them. Other than that, the Iraqi government will have complete control of these weapons and the U.S.A. will have no veto over their employment.

Of all the ideas presented, this is the first one that makes even less sense than bombing Iran. This will really encourage the Saudis (who are already developing nukes) and the Syrians and whomever else to start building nukes. There is every reason to think that the new Iraqi government will be unstable, and that those nukes will fall into even less responsible hands. (This is one of the problems with nukes in Pakistan, which changes governments radically every decade or so.) Then we really do have the problem of an American, European or Israeli city going up in a mushroom cloud.

We want to reduce the number of nukes in the world, not increase it, and reduce the number of hands that have their fingers on the buttons. This region, with its half-century plus of constant warfare and century of constant government changes, is the first place from which we should be removing nukes, followed by Pakistan/India, then the former Soviet republics. Once we get down to America, Russia and China, we work out some sort of solution to end our nuclear arsenals for once and for all.

By this policy, America will demonstrate conclusively that we like and trust what we have encouraged in Iraq.

How the hell will this help our world standing? Iraq is a disaster.

American policy in regards to Iran has been muddled since the late 1970's hostage crisis. It was quite a shock to us to encounter a political culture that was neither awed by potential total destruction at the hands of a superpower nor reluctant to violate the most basic principle of international law, namely that you shouldn't seize diplomatic communities and mistreat them.

Well, gosh, install the shah and have him murder a million folks, that's acceptable, but seize a few hundred hostages and return all of them alive, how awful.

Are you living on this planet? If so, pull your head out of the hole and start suggesting solutions that ensure that we keep living on this planet.

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande on January 15, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Allright, then. Just to summarize, this is the question of Kevin's that started it all:

"Of course, you never know. Maybe diplomacy will work and Iran will back down. But just in case it doesn't, Dems would be wise to start thinking about whether (a) or (b) or some hypothetical (c) is the right policy."

If Kevin expected wisdom among the posters here he was sorely disappointed. Tbroz at least identified what the only realistic alternative (c) is: waiting for "peaceful" regime change in Teheran. Unfortunately, that would likely take decades and cannot do anything about the present crisis. So we're back to (a) or (b).

And just for the record, I think it would be really refreshing to see a truly competitive Dem solution being offered. A well-thought-through plan of action that would (a) have a chance of working and (b) address the actual problem at hand [Iran getting nukes] in the short term, rather than addressing the problem decades from now or addressing other unrelated problems (western "arrogance", our failiure to apologize for the shah, etc etc) would be really interesting to hear about. I can imagine Dems who might actually have solutions here, but noone on the left (like the posters here). Instead we get:

1. The "waging peace" idea. If you could even call it an idea, rather than an empty slogan. What it would do about Iran getting nukes is a mystery, of course.
2. The USA is the root of all evil. We need to apologize for our existence, and for all our evil acts, change our ways, and turn our back on our only real ally in the ME, Israel.
3. How can we ask Iranians to give up nukes when we have nukes in the US?
4. Can't we all just get along? (the Renate faction).
5. It's all Bush's fault! We don't need no steeinkin solutions. Bush is the cause of all the problems. Asking ourselves what to do now is just giving us a headache. All we have to do is say "Bush dun it". That will solve everything.
6. What, me, worry? Iranians like Ahmadi Nejad and Khamenei are toally sane. Rafsanjani saying a nuclear war might not be all that bad of an idea was just posturing. No reason to be concerned.

What all these ideas have in common is that (a) none would do anything about the problem at hand and (b) none are even remotely salable electorally and would just serve to further divorce the Dem party from all hopes of ever again being trusted on national security.

Can we assume that Kevin will never again hope to find constructive suggestions on national security issues on this board?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Just read some of the comments over at Atrios' original post and they're even crazier over there. The Dem "netroots" are truly, spectacularly useless, it seems.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Look - to all you people who think talking to Iranians is appeasement.

The Iranians don't trust us. With very good reason. We seriously messed with them in days of Yor. We screwed thier country. We deposed thier ELECTED leader, replaced him with a KING of all thingS. Then when Iran was fighting the battle of its very life with Iraq who had invaded for absolutely no justifiable reason, we supported Iraq. Thier recent history has been the Mullahs and the Americans (with big help from the English)

On the other side they took our hostages and have made the world scary for many american tourists.

Talking about these things is not appeasement. If you lot think you can't make a deal with Moslems because they are intractable then what the hell is Rice doing talking to the Palestinians?

When you treat people like dogs they will treat you like a dog.

This is not Berlin in '38. We have material objectives to our relationship. We need a REAL coalition builder like Bush Sr. not his ninny son, to bring the world to Iran doorstep with a promise not to f%^&ck them over again. It will then be possible for them to respond in kind.

These people are not homosidal. Rage does not pop up out of nowhere. Iran didn't suddenly decide to hate america because Allah told them to. There are actual historical reasons for this. If we sit around and cry that "Iran is hurting me" without dealing with history - then we deserve to be spanked.

So can we please have the grownups in to deal with this?

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Exclap - If you want to be counted among the grownups, please learn how to spell "thier" and "homosidal". These are not difficult words to get right. Buy a dictionary, if you are unsure.

I see you are in Faction 2 in my list above (the misdeeds of the USA being the cause of all Iranian intransigence). I assume I'm barking up the wrong tree here, but what the heck, you might prove me wrong. Perhaps there really is some thought going on in your brain:

Please, then, explain how you would address the question: Regardless of whether or not it can be classified as "appeasement", if "talking to Iranians" does not work, as a practical matter, what do you suggest doing then?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ned Flanders: We're not talking the school bully, here. We're talking about people who believe that anyone who does not adhere to their beliefs should be dead. Period.

So we're talking about Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh? Or all the fine folk at Little Green Foosballs and Red State?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

And then Stefan came out with more "moral equivalence". Crazed suicide bombers that want to kill anyone who is different are basically just like Ann Coulter and right wing bloggers. Right? Right? All the lefties here swallow that one like it's foie gras.

Just a quick quiz for Stefan then: Say you're waiting for the bus. Two buses pull up and you Have to take one of them. One bus has Ann Coulter sitting in the front with a bit of a sneer. The other bus has a Hezbollah suicide bomber relaxing with his backpack. Which bus do you get on, Stefan?

Zero points for evasions like "it's a false choice, dude"

Now, can we get back to Kevin's question? Any answers to that one? Or is that too difficult to think about?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Exclap - If you want to be counted among the grownups, please learn how to spell "thier" and "homosidal". These are not difficult words to get right. Buy a dictionary, if you are unsure.

We can safely assume from your own spelling failures that you're not to be counted among the grownups either.

Allright
tbroz
failiure
noone
toally

These aren't difficult words. Buy a dictionary if you're unsure.

Posted by: trex on January 15, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

peanut, i DID answer (see above) - I'm voting for option b.

Sanctions are going to be too leaky, I think. And the Iranian program is too far along (sanctions take a long time to work) to be stopped by sanctions. [In the case of Iraq, it was not the sanctions alone which stopped their WMD program, but also Clinton (God bless him) admin's bombing in Operation Desert Fox.]

Sanctions might work as an addendum to airstrikes. But airstrikes is the only serious option that can actually get the job done.

The people here objecting that the Iranians can stop selling "us" oil are almost certainly wrong. First of all, they don't really sell to us, but to the world market. If the market loses some oil, the price would go up a lot. But likely only for a short period of time. The iranians don't really have much else to sell, and there is not much they can use the oil for domestially. And even the "keep the oil in Iran for domestic use" option can be taken care of with airstrikes. We can take out their refining capacity (such as it is). Then how will they get gasoline for their cars if they don't export their oil?


Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

trex - you trolled through all of peanut's comments here to find a few typo's? You need another hobby. exclab, on the other hand, clearly does not know how to write.

How about some answers to the questions, though? You know, the ones that Kevin asked in his original post?

Posted by: cranky on January 15, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran said Sunday it would sponsor a conference to examine the scientific evidence supporting the Holocaust, an apparent next step in hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign against Israel and a move likely to deepen Tehran's international isolation.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060115/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_holocaust;_ylt=AlVZc3gTLWQp7mKXMkaZZWwLewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA--

Just found this discussion board. The news today does not suggest the Iranians are improving their grasp on reality.

Did not have time to review all 300 comments but the first one up on top suggested that it's either all our fault or we should renounce nuclear weapons and the Iranians would too (not likely).

Posted by: DBG on January 15, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Cecce, I know you answered it. However, I do not count you with the lefties on this board. (If i'm wrong, sorry). The reality is, none of them has answered Drummy's question. I wonder why?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder, Iran wants to change their trading system to EURO too, starting in March.

Russia and China want to include more EUROS in their currency basket also.

Saddam did that, it was not so healthy for him.

Scott Ritter said the US would attack Iran maybe in June last year. Maybe he was just off target with the year, 06 instead of 05.

According to the WP Iran is still years from getting nuclear weapons.

Looks like it is just economical and has NOTHING to do with NUCLEAR WEAPONS, that is just the excuse to invade, just like Iraq.

The people in the ME are just cursed with OIL.

Posted by: Renate on January 15, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, how revealing is this? You ask them whether Chimpy McBushHitler is the absolootly most evilest se-lected president on the planet of all time or if he's just the worst human being alive today - and they're writing huge volumes on the issue.

But a single "what do we do now" question gets either evasions or totally unrealistic pie in the sky "wage peace" answers.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Renate you are the stupidest poster on this board, which is saying a lot. This has nothing to do with currency, dimwit. Please just go away.

Posted by: cranky on January 15, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

To avoid military conflicts is not just because of moral reasons, or idealism or ideology, it is just common sense.

The bottom line is just destruction and untold human suffering for the benefit of Halliburton, Bechtel and the people who own them,war profitiers like Dick Cheney, the members of the Carlile group, including Bush Sr. (at least he did belong some time ago)

Ethics would have told them to get out of the business before the war.

Posted by: Renate on January 15, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky, I must have touched a nerve with you.

My pleasure.

Posted by: Renate on January 15, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be a crank, Cranky. And ease up on Renate, she's just special.

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have any rights to an anonymouse nym, but I will point out that:

cranky is not the same person as Cranky Observer

I have been posting at Kevin's sites under the Cranky Observer nym for 2 years; "cranky[full stop]" is a newcomer.

Cranky Observer

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 15, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the only thing tbrosz mentions is a passage I've already admitted was in homage to the thought of "waging peace", though even it conveys the information that people are frightened by terrible stories of the "other" that are invariably bullshit (projection), and the best way to shatter this kind of superstition and ignorance is to encounter each other.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

We're not talking the school bully, here. We're talking about people who believe that anyone who does not adhere to their beliefs should be dead. Period.

Again, this is not representative of Iran, the people of Iran, the historical leadership of Iran, the history of Islam, and likely not the current consensus and real leadership of Iran.

Where is the evidence of Iran's expansionism, in reality, or that they credibly "believe anyone who does not adhere to their beliefs should be dead"?

No more idiotic thing could be said, since it obviously conflates Iran with the Taliban/Al Qaeda, which makes no sense since Iran is Shiite and not connected to T/AQ in any way.

Iran has its own agenda and grievances against us, mainly that we have identified them as an "evil empire" and targeted them for submission. This is stupid on our part.

As for Iran's grievances against Israel, that is a separate matter, but is grounded in history and hatred, and does not lend credence to any argument that this hatred and grievance of Iran is universal, so that it applies to all people who are not Shiite or Muslim, or that it is merely because the Jews are not Muslims.

If you believe that, you'll believe anything. May as well close your eyes and let yourself be led through beautiful gardens of bullshit, instead of undressing the emperors and pointing out the bullshit.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, there was a question out there about what to do about crazies getting nukes?

(crickets chirping)

(more crickets)

Hey - how about that stupid evil Boosh guy?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the evidence, Jimm? Ever heard of Salman Rushdie?

Is this really the best you've got?

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

peanut and cranky...full of straw men, simplifications, and misrepresentations. my answer to kevin is early in the thread, before the discussion took its own path, but y'all aren't worth repeating them too.

it's okay for one guy to misspell, but if another guy misspells, it's evidence he's a bad writer. this is a typical example of the narcissistic hubris that we're talking about (we're always right and justified, we should always assume they will do the worst possible thing).

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Cecce, Thanks.

Posted by: Renate on January 15, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Again, this is not representative of Iran, the people of Iran, the historical leadership of Iran, the history of Islam, and likely not the current consensus and real leadership of Iran.

The president of Iran has declared that he is on a holy mission, and that Israel should be wiped off the map. He's building atomic bombs. That makes an impression on me. Obviously, it makes little impression on you. I hope to God the people of Iran, who are, by and large, more reasonable than this, will toss this idiot out somehow. I'm not holding my breath just yet.

Were you one of those who fell on their backs, kicking their legs and foaming at the mouth when Reagan made a joke about bombing the Soviet Union?

Is there something hardwired into leftists that it is impossible for them to condemn anything other than their own country, culture, and leadership? Or is it just something you pick up at our universities?

As others have pointed out, we're not getting a lot of realistic answers here to the question Kevin posted. Better hope national security isn't an issue in 2008, because the Democrats, again, have nothing to offer in that department.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 15, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

look trolls, there is good football game on, so it's worth even less than normal to duel with you. I answered Kevin's question early in the thread...deal with it. rushdie is not evidence that Iran wants to kill everyone who does not believe as they do, but it definitely points out they don't appreciate freedom of speech as we do, and may want to kill anyone who overtly and intentionally insults their deepest held religious beliefs. noone is justifying that in these threads, and I'm only being realistic and not paranoid when assessing the Iranian risk. I prefer to deal with facts and not fantasy.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

" rushdie is not evidence that Iran wants to kill everyone who does not believe as they do, but it definitely points out they don't appreciate freedom of speech as we do, and may want to kill anyone who overtly and intentionally insults their deepest held religious beliefs. "

Did you even read that before you hit post? That's got to be the most unintentionally hilarious thing written here.

It was seriously meant, right? It wasn't satire?

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

And Jimm, I read your supposed answers to Kevin upthread and there's no there there.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just so you understand, "perhaps the wisest and most just, would be to really set up a global transparency and inspections regime when it comes to nuclear facilities, along with a firm commitment to outlawing all nuclear weapons" - does not really count.

Kevin's question clearly was aimed at coming up with something practical. And all you have is "outlawing" all nukes?

Pathetic

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The president of Iran has declared that he is on a holy mission, and that Israel should be wiped off the map. He's building atomic bombs. That makes an impression on me. Obviously, it makes little impression on you. I hope to God the people of Iran, who are, by and large, more reasonable than this, will toss this idiot out somehow. I'm not holding my breath just yet.

The straw men come out in force. The president of Iran is not the final authority in Iran, and I have severely criticized his comments in regards to "wiping out" Israel in the first post Kevin made on it here at PA, and suggested continuing talks by the figurehead of state would result in severe retaliation. I have never suggested it's okay to wipe out Israel, but I have pointed out that Iran's grievances with Israel are specific, and not generalized to any and all people who disagree with them wherever found in the world. This statement of yours tbrosz has been rebutted.

Were you one of those who fell on their backs, kicking their legs and foaming at the mouth when Reagan made a joke about bombing the Soviet Union?

No, but I was very pissed off, because I have no desire to see liberalism and democracy extinguished in a post-nuclear-holocaust harsh authoritarian environment. Reagan was talking as if he was willing to sacrifice the entire nation, all our people, and our cherished ideals to defend these ideals themselves, when nothing of the sort was necessary against a weakening Soviet Union desperate to end the Cold War.

Is there something hardwired into leftists that it is impossible for them to condemn anything other than their own country, culture, and leadership? Or is it just something you pick up at our universities?

Tbrosz, master of evasion, and terrible Sophist. I am not a leftist, and am a firm believer in classical liberalism and free market capitalism. In this very thread I have stated such beliefs as part of the solution for "the problem" of Iran. Try again.

As others have pointed out, we're not getting a lot of realistic answers here to the question Kevin posted. Better hope national security isn't an issue in 2008, because the Democrats, again, have nothing to offer in that department.

Tbrosz has no realistic answers. He refuses to acknowledge the disastrous effect on the global economy, as well as our relations with China, Russia, and India, if we chose to bomb and/or foolishly invade Iran. The sacrifice this would take from all Americans is never acknowledged, as we would all live less "high off the hog" for a long time as the conflict went forward, and oil supplies worldwide were restricted, prices skyrocketed, and tensions increased everywhere around the globe.

I answered Kevin's question very early in the thread, sort of, since I qualified it as nonpartisan and not focused on any particular election (all you guys think about), but instead on a real solution that would be wise, long-lasting and reduce tension/risk.

This is about risk management and assessment, not who's got the biggest balls or is the most paranoid about assessing one's rivals ("others").

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

peanutcase, it was not satire. how does wanting to kill Rushdie for a perceived intentional insult on his part to their religion constitute that Iran today seeks to kill everyone who believes differently than them?

that is, after all, what I'm responding to, and not straw men.

oh, and the instant replay delay is over, so back to the game.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

That just about sums it up from the lefties, doesn't it? Jimm has "severely criticized" Ahamadi Nejad's holocaust denials and threats to wipe Israel off the map. Gosh, and if they nuke Jerusalem, I bet there is a stern letter to the editor coming next.

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with cranky, here. You all are a bunch o' freaks.

Who cares if Iran never did anything to us? Who cares if we overthrew their little [whine] democracy [/whine] and installed that kick-ass shah dude who killed a few hundred thousand of their sorry asses. Who cares if they have no history of military aggression against their neighbors, while we invade another country or pay some thugs to overthrow another foreign government about every two years.

The truth (and you all just can't face it) is that they're brown, and they worship some other darkie that no one's ever even thought of paintin' a picture of. Whereas we are white, and worship the lord Jesus.

Therefore, it must be an underlying assumption of any informed conversation on the matter that we, as a pale, rational people, have the ability (nay, right [nay, responsibility]) to wield obscene stockpiles of deadly, horrific weaponry, whereas they, as swarthy, turban-wearin' nit-wits, would probably use a nuclear weapon if they got one, unlike ourselves (unless it was absolutely necessary).

So the question remains. What do we do if our leader tries to convince us that the Iranians want to make a nuclear bomb? Do we kill them, or do we kill them? Well, you sorry liberal whiners, which do you think we should do?

Posted by: William Reed on January 15, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I stand behind my position that the only real and practical solution to nuclear proliferation, beyond Iran, is a 100% transparency and inspections regime of all nuclear facilities that all nations are subject to (not exceptions), so that everyone sees they are being treated equally under the law, and that we immediately begin verifiable phase out of existing nuclear arsenals so that defectors are not rewarded and thus actually incentivize being able to "lord" nukes over your neighbor.

This solution would be just, sane, and practical, and would be so far into the future when the real challenges we face will be miniature nuclear weapons being detonated by terrorists (without fingerprints).

I'm interested in preserving and expanding classical liberalism and democracy, and the dignity of the individual, not steadily losing all of it to an encroaching national security nanny police state that seems inevitably approaching if we continue to consider ourselves "exceptions to the rule" and try to manage nuclear proliferation as we have for the past several decades - i.e. a failure (Pakistan, Iran, Israel, etc.).

Who's next?

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. But, as you say, the question remains. What do we do? That was Kevin's question all along. Sure would be nice to hear an answer.

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Quit skirting the issue, "Jimm". Do we kill the darkies if they get uppity, or do we kill them if they get uppity?

Posted by: William Reed on January 15, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

That just about sums it up from the lefties, doesn't it? Jimm has "severely criticized" Ahamadi Nejad's holocaust denials and threats to wipe Israel off the map. Gosh, and if they nuke Jerusalem, I bet there is a stern letter to the editor coming next.

What am I supposed to do, call up President Bush and order him to invade? This discussion is getting beyond ridiculous. Straw men, overgeneralizations, simplifications, etc. Stupid. In that thread I criticized "wiping out" Israel stronger than just about anyone else, especially the usual residents, and certainly left open that continued such talk would result in devastating sanctions or military action. I hardly see what else I can say in these threads about it, but I'm certainly not going to express my rage at such comments by deciding to just believe whatever bullshit people want to spin to make every single one of Iran's leaders look insane and a treat to existence itself.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, LeGrande, nothing you can think of is going to stop nuclear proliferation. You can state your personal opinion that Iraq is a disaster, but it is the best thing we have going. If you can't see that, check the clearance of your own ears with your lower digestive workings. And by the by, there are a lot of brave, democratically minded people in Iraq that I would prefer to have as my near neighbors than the likes of you and your sort on your best day, pal.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 15, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

William Reed, is it really all about the womenfolk?

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

What a game!

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm, just for your information the fatwa to kill Rushdie is still in effect. Iran will pay a reward to anyone who kills him. This is for writing a book.

And here's a nice quote from their most recent "moderate, reformer" president Khatami:
"If we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill."

But, go ahead believing they're no danger. As long as you and your fellow lefties do not ever get the reins on national security or foreign policy, I don't care.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Crazed suicide bombers that want to kill anyone who is different are basically just like Ann Coulter and right wing bloggers. Right? Right?

Well, since both Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, for example, have called for terrorist bombings of people they don't like (Coulter called for the New York Times to be bombed, while O'Reilly invited Al Qaeda to attack San Francisco) then yeah, they're about the same.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

What a surprise. Stefan did not answer the question.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

And by the by, there are a lot of brave, democratically minded people in Iraq that I would prefer to have as my near neighbors than the likes of you and your sort on your best day, pal.

The solution to that is simple: move to Iraq. I hear real estate there is simply exploding....

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm, just for your information the fatwa to kill Rushdie is still in effect. Iran will pay a reward to anyone who kills him. This is for writing a book.

Straw man. I'm not defending this fatwa, and neither am I conflating it with Iran's nuclear ambitions. Also, to my knowledge, the fatwa is no longer in effect.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan. Do we kill the darkies, or do we kill the darkies?!

And I'll have you know the U.S. has never assassinated anyone (who didn't deserve it).

Now answer the question!

Do you ever feel like we're just wasting our breath sometimes, peanut?

Posted by: William Reed on January 15, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

whatever, dude

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it seems the fatwa will always be in effect, since the man who issued it has died, but that Iran's government withdrew any interest in supporting it, in 1998, but with the change of government since, especially in the current atmosphere, I wouldn't feel secure if I were Rushdie that this fatwa was not in effect. Either way, it's irrelevant to tbrosz's assertion that Iran wants to "kill anyone who believes differently", since this is a very specific case of blasphemy, and not generalizable to everyone else in the world who does not believe as they do.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

What a surprise. Stefan did not answer the question.

What a suprise. He pretended I didn't answer the question when I actually answered the question.

To be fair, though, there is one appreciable difference between the "crazed suicide bombers" and O'Reilly, Coulter and the right-wing bloggers. While the former are willing to sacrifice their lives for their insane beliefs, the latter are too cowardly to do more than bluster and froth from behind the safety of their screens.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Colt's field goal kicker knew yesterday he was going to blow out. Sometimes you feel it when someone steps on your grave.

You know, the best way to deal with the little crowd of assassins in Damascus is to not only to give the new government of Iraq 50 nukes that they completely control, but to give the government of Lebanon 5 or so. May as well, because North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran with nukes already tilt the world dangerously. Anyone note the coziness that India and the U.S. are developing regarding nuclear material? I think possibly Turkey should also get fifty "gift" nukes, just because we don't want the Turks to feel slighted versus Iraq. Actually, there will have to be two nuclear regiments in Iraq--25 warheads for the Shiites, 25 for the Kurds.

We may as well be generous with these devices, because the only real thing that will ever prevent their use by anyone is mutually assured destruction. That's the only historically proven method available.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 15, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Should I spell it out for you again? The question was "which bus would you get on"?

So far, zero points.

Posted by: peanut on January 15, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

One option, of course, is for us to deter Iran not by a direct attack but by an indirect demonstration of our might, pour descourager les autres, as they say.

We could, for example, pick a neighbor of theirs, one without WMD of any kind and with only a quarter of their population, a poorer, enfeebled, less-developed neighbor that's unable to protect itself against us. We could invade that neighbor with a lightning "shock and awe" campaign, overthrow the regime, and sit back and wait for its inhabitants to welcome us with flowers so we can then quickly withdraw our troops. Then we just sit back and wait for Iran to be so afraid of our stunning success there that they immediately give up all their nuclear ambitions.

It should work...right?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

peanut, I would not get on either bus, and let that be a lesson that the world is not black and white, and that there are never only two options, the best one and the worst one, no matter how lamely you frame your question. instead, there are satisficing options, and there are alternatives to action, including walking, or flagging down a car and hitchhiking, or borrowing a bicycle from a family and leaving cash as collateral until you return.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Jimm, and I can do no better than repeat your answer. It's rather like asking "which bus would you get one, the one with the lunatics or the one with the crazies? Huh? Huh?" Not much of a choice there, is it?

But then, argument by Awful Alternative seems to be quite popular with this crowd.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Democrats could try honest diplomatic efforts. Maybe other nations would have more trust in the US again. Maybe Democrats could admit that other nations have selfinterests which would include security just as we have.

So far the Republicans are a failure, Iraq is one big example, there is no reason to trust their competence.

The Democrats are just as patriotic and would always have the nations interest at heart, they may use a different way and maybe it is the better way, DIPLOMACY comes first, but trust has to build first.

Posted by: Renate on January 15, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Look lefties, Sen Bayh defends our recent airstrike against the Pakistani villagehttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060115/ap_on_go_co/us_pakistan

Thank god there are still some Dems who have a bit of sense. Not to mention know which team they play on.

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"hear that real estate there is simply exploding"

Well, when I get my way, it will be exploding.

Posted by: George W on January 15, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

When the democrats ruled, it was hard to get anyone to think about realistic social programs. Now that the reps are in, you can't talk critisize anything without them asking why you hate america. Folks the dear old USA has done a lot of good. Just not in Iran. No one is denying that the Iranians are partly to blame. But the US is too. Why is this so hard to grasp?

Lets not wage peace. Lets wage capitalism. Now I know that the reps think this is thier arguement but if fact its not. The reps don't actually believe in capitalism. They believe in power. Cuba pissed off america so we cut off trade. Did that remove Castro? Of course not. With no capitalism, the only choice for Cuba is communism. So Fidel's best friend right now is Bush Jr. If trade opened to Cuba Castro would be in Venezuala in a month. The conservatives and liberals are the same in that niether actually believes in the capitalist system. The big spending reps in power right now have proved that along with the various imbecilities of the dems over the years. Oh Newt, where art thou now.

The same goes for Iran. We don't want thier morals or thier pride or thier soveriegnty. We want thier oil. What is this wingeing about "why do you hate america"? Why don't we make some deals?

The Chinese are.

Posted by: exclab on January 15, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Jimm, the "75 Virgins" was in the post either right above or below mine, way up-thread...I didn't make the actual reference, but I went along anyway.

Always good to debate, and while I discount the "73 Virgins" view of Islam, I still fear the Iranians and the lengths to which they will go. But I am admittedly prone to bias, having lived in a country that actually shares a border with Iran.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Fair enough Global, but what I meant was that you referenced E Publius saying "mutually assured destruction won't work", who based that comment on 72 virgins (somehow I added some additional virgins).

Still, it was good stuff. We should hash it out now rather than later, and I mean that as concerned Americans, not partisans of whatever stripe.

Posted by: Jimm on January 15, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I agree. And I don't think MAD will work on these guys.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

ok, it's late and you're all a dollar short, at least. So far, I count not one of the usual suspects here who have advocated any mode of action (other than, let the Iranians just be, they're harmless) that has any chance of stopping them from getting nukes in the near term.

Have to go. There's no chance, I guess, that anyone of you will ever take Drum's question seriously. A bummer for those who hope that the Dems will at some point become a part of the national security debate at a serious level.

But of course, it must be much more fun (and oh so sophisticated) debating how many virgins can dance at the head of a pin.

Posted by: cecce on January 15, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

So far, I count not one of the usual suspects here who have advocated any mode of action (other than, let the Iranians just be, they're harmless) that has any chance of stopping them from getting nukes in the near term.

Hey, what's wrong with my idea? Here, I'll repost it:

"We could, for example, pick a neighbor of theirs, one without WMD of any kind and with only a quarter of their population, a poorer, enfeebled, less-developed neighbor that's unable to protect itself against us. We could invade that neighbor with a lightning "shock and awe" campaign, overthrow the regime, and sit back and wait for its inhabitants to welcome us with flowers so we can then quickly withdraw our troops. Then we just sit back and wait for Iran to be so afraid of our stunning success there that they immediately give up all their nuclear ambitions.

"It should work...right?"

Shouldn't overthrowing a dictatorship and installing a democracy in the heart of the Muslim world have such a transformative effect that it will change the very culture of the region, thereby discouraging the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons? That's what Bush said it would do...didn't he?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm says:

Iran's grievances with Israel are specific

Mind explaining what those specific grievances are?

Hint... Iranians are not Palestinians.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 15, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

What no one is talking about, re: Iranian culture is the internal ethnocentrism. The Persians are far and away the majority. Over 50% total population, and the next largest minority comes in at 24%. Ethnic Arab are only 3% of the Iranian population. The Persian Majority is in no danger of losing their stature anytime soon. That makes them the dominant culture in that country, and Persian culture is thousands of years old. It predates Islam. That makes it unique in the region.

The Iranians have internal ethnic issues that are not unlike the issues the united states needs to deal with in our own minority communities.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm old enough to remember even Ronald Reagan was willing to consider a zero nuke agreement with Gorbachav during their Star Wars negotiations. Since then we've had enough precision bombing practice to realize we can ruin a dictator's day with a few daisy cutters. A comprehensive proposal would have to come from a Republican (McCain?) but I still think offerring to pressure Israel to give up it's nukes is a realistic trade-off for the Dems to propose.

Posted by: minion of rove on January 15, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Air strikes?

Actually, I agree. Especially after I read an article last week in which it was disclosed that Israel had formulated plans to attack from the air suspected nuclear sites in Iran in late March, then I figured the Bush administration would be in touch with the Israelis saying, "No, we'll take care of that for you."

But the Bush administration, being ego maniacs, don't understand the word "restraint."

So, how much you want to bet that the Bush administration will use NUKES to obliterate the suspected Iranian nuclear sites? Small, tactical nukes. Bunker-buster nukes. Delivered either by our stealth fighter squadrons as laser-guided missiles in the middle of some late March night, with a follow-up attack by nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

I wouldn't put anything past this Rogue Republican Presidency.

A major problem involving this nuke attack on suspected Iranian nuke sites is that cruise missiles have been known to malfunction and miss their intended target. What if one veers off and hits an Iranian residential area?

The Bush administration will have cemented itself in the eyes of the world as comparable to the Nazi and Stalinist regimes of the last century. But the Republicans in Congress will not do anything. Even though using nukes would definitely be a "high crime and misdemeanor."

Hey, we're at war, I've heard. And Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld insanely believe they can do (and get away with) anything.

And, just think, we once had a democracy before these cretin creeps got into office and, like Rogue Elephants, began to trample and trash everything in their path.

Posted by: The Oracle on January 15, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't overthrowing a dictatorship and installing a democracy in the heart of the Muslim world have such a transformative effect that it will change the very culture of the region, thereby discouraging the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons? That's what Bush said it would do...didn't he?

Stefan, if I understand you correctly you're saying that a Republican administration had a strategy for handling the Iranians that went terribly wrong. Not only have the fantastic successes in Iraq failed to inspire Iran to embrace more liberal and democratic views, they have instead gone from a moderate to a more hard line government since the implementation of the Republican plan.

Interesting observation.

That being the case, I wonder why we aren't discussing the failure of the Republican strategy and the detailed and careful measures they plan to implement to rectify it? It would seem more to the point.

The trolls are continually assuring us that Democrats will never regain control of any organ of government for reasons that range from incumbency and birth rates to Dan Rather and the flawed moral nature of liberals.

Given that, it would seem like a moot point to speculate on what the Democratic strategy for handling Bush's mismanagement of Iran's nuclear aspirations might be. I mean, how long ago was that "Axis of Evil" speech? Three years now isn't it?

So can someone describe for us the Republican Plan B for Iran, other than howling about how "evil" and "crazy" they are over and over? I seem to have missed it elucidated on this thread, other than veiled references to "horrible" choices in the future.

Posted by: trex on January 15, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

I rather think Iraq has been a success. Iran is rattling nukes it doesn't even have yet because it knows that a subtle yet elemental balance has been shifted in the region. Even under Saddam and the socialist Baath Party in some ways Iraq was straining to become a modern, Western, secular society. Given freedom, relative prosperity, and a modicum of security for the next five years, Iraq will end up "subverting" Iran far more than the other way around.

Global Citizen doesn't think MAD will work with whoever is in charge in Iran. I think the Bushies are going to conclude that MAD will have to work. The Russians seem to have concluded that MAD is as good as any policy in a world that no one can predict, but Moscow does hedge, apparently, by continuing to build underground shelters that would be secure against anything except possibly a massive attack involving hundreds of very accurate warheads.

If what we are really seeing is China becoming a secret partner that has decided to encourage both Iran and North Korea to go right ahead and provoke the U.S.A., I do expect the Chinese will think better of it after awhile. MAD would work quite well versus China, particularly after the Three Gorges Dam is finished and filled. The Chinese government probably think that its client states will find that, once they have their expensive nuclear bombs, there is really very little that they can do with them, but China will seem like their ally and have an "in" to achieve the Middle East oil contracts that China will be forcefully seeking.

This has already started, actually. China has a billion tons of dollars laid away, it wants and needs oil, and Western manipulation to try to maintain on to old oil contracts will appear unfair to the Chinese. If the Chinese are not allowed to buy up oil companies, they will let their surrogates raise holy hell for awhile.

But not too long, or go too far, I hope. Can you imagine what only three nuclear missiles at the base of the beautiful Three Gorges Dam would do?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 15, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hows the HTML working for you ML Cook?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 15, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK
Working with the opposition without being heavy-handed about it can't hurt, and it might help.Posted by: tbrosz
Clinton did with some success. Bush has done the opposite for his domestic political agenda: It's easier to keep his sheep in line with external threats, especially if he can create them.
Iran would probably be doing the same damn thing if we had the numbers of troops deployed in Afghanistan that the Left Then what? Invade Iran with whatever troops we had left over? With Saddam at our back? Posted by: tbrosz
You may not remember, but Iraq and Iran fought a rather nasty war. They are not friends. Iran did not come to Saddam's defense; Saddam would not have gone to Iran's. By the way, the "Left" thinks there should be sufficient troop levels to do the job safely and expeditiously. Remember the Powell Doctrine? Have an exit strategy and use overwhelming military force to prevent successful insurgencies?
But a single "what do we do now" question gets either evasions or totally unrealistic pie in the sky "wage peace" answers. Posted by: peeAnut
I can well understand your desire for answers for a situation that you have fouled up beyond repair, but until you pay me a president's wages, you'll have to figure it out yourself. One thing I do recommend highly: War supporters should immediately become war fighters. Immediately.
Kind of funny how the left has totally abandoned any commitment to human rights. Posted by: Michael Friedman
Kind of typical how the right continues to violate human rights every opportunity it has to commits acts of torture and war mongering.
They need us more than we need them. Posted by: Michael Friedman
Doubtful. They support our standard of living and our dollar. Any time China fines it expedient, they can destroy our economy simply by announcing they are no longer going to purchase our t-bills.
We have a leadership in Iran that is developing atomic weapons, . Posted by: tbrosz
As we have often seen from your hero, George W. Bush: Talk isn't action. They do have the right under treaty to develop nuclear power. That should give you goose-bumps of joy.
Ever tried that with a homocidal maniac?Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw
Are you referring to George W. Bush?
Evil exists. That so many in America can see it so easily in our own nation and government, Posted by: tbrosz
If you cannot clean up your own faults, you have no business telling others how to live. You can't preach democracy when your president commits crimes by ignoring the law and the Constitution he swore to uphold. You can't preach peace while you launch wars against countries that had no plans to attack you. You ideology is nothing more than pernicious hypocrisy.
What all these ideas have in common is that (a) none would do anything about the problem at hand and (b) none are even remotely salable electorally and would just serve to further divorce the Dem party from all hopes of ever again being trusted on national security. Posted by: peeAnut
Of course, since Bush, with his rhetoric and actions has limited the options. However, there is always time for rationality. It's just that Republicans prefer to use threats and fear to entrench their power.
So can we please have the grownups in to deal with this? Posted by: exclab
The last grownups we had in government was during the Clinton administration.
And I'll have you know the U.S. has never assassinated anyone (who didn't deserve it).Posted by: William Reed
Collateral damage is just a plus, right?


Posted by: Mike on January 15, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Mike,

How exactly does China announcing they won't buy T-bills destroy our economy? Please take into account the fact that they are far from the largest buyer.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on January 16, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, LeGrande, nothing you can think of is going to stop nuclear proliferation. You can state your personal opinion that Iraq is a disaster, but it is the best thing we have going. If you can't see that, check the clearance of your own ears with your lower digestive workings. And by the by, there are a lot of brave, democratically minded people in Iraq that I would prefer to have as my near neighbors than the likes of you and your sort on your best day, pal.

Anyone who thinks the US in Iraq is working out is stupid, ignorant or delusional. There is no other option.

As for democratically-minded Iraqis, I'd prefer to have them as neighbors to you, too. And I'd listen to their democratic impulses, which is to have us go home. Why do you hate democracy so much, Cook? And why do you want to spread the nukes around? If the Iraqis can have nukes, why not the Iranians? Why not the Saudis? Why not the Israelis? Heck, why not just give bin Laden the bomb ourselves? At least we'd know exactly what hit us.

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande on January 16, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Holding above the fray of left right name calling - I think we can safely say that whether you like the ideas presented in this thread for dealing with Iraq or not,

we can comfortably say that the dems will not find the cohones to propose any of them. Only the democratic party could have lost to a man like Bush.

Posted by: exclab on January 16, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

I really never should lose my temper. I believe Henry Kissinger once said that quarrels between academics who had tenure often became exceedingly nasty because neither side has anything to lose. That is not the case with any "global citizen" today, of course.

Leftists for many decades have been too in love with the idea that "popular" insurgencies can not be defeated. (Lefty MSM pronounces what is or isn't popular, of course.) Actually, Stalin put down several popular insurgencies post WWII, in Poland and Hungary. The Argentines made a leftist movement go away in the 1960s-1970s period go away by making people go away. Castro has never tolerated the slightest right-wing stirrings (I was an inadvertent witness to the killing of four exile aviators in 1996 whose crime was dropping pro-democracy leaflets on Havana!) Fujimoro in Peru managed to put down the Shining Path, causing The New York Times to turn purple in the process because they said it couldn't be done and then they didn't like the way he did it.

The insurgency in Iraq will be put down because it is not "popular" in the Kurdish and Shia communities. If we don't meddle with the Iraqi government using Fujimoro-style tactics, the Kurds and the Shia will fix their own problems.
Perhaps I better qualify that--Afghanistan is slipping a bit in the pacification department because of increased infiltration from Pakistan, hence our more vigorous CIA bombing of that country. The Bush administration has probably a very fine calculation in progress of what they can and can't do about Syria and Pakistan.

I would expect that we will see some drastic intervention against Syria and Pakistan's border area before we ever do a massive hit on Iran.
The Bushies have been burned for worrying too much about WMD's already.

I thought I was talking hypothetically about Iraqis being my neighbors, but my wife pointed out that she has Iraqi children in her class, along with Iranians, Ukrainians, Pacific Islanders, Laotian mountain people, countless Hispanics, and the usual American pedigrees. We live in a community extraordinarily hospitable to waves of immigration. Several next door neighbors are Sikh or Pun Jabi. Walking my dogs I see bumper stickers proclaiming: INDIA, HANDS OFF KASHMIRASTAN!

It's a small "nuclear" world, anymore.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 16, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I really never should lose my temper. I believe Henry Kissinger once said that quarrels between academics who had tenure often became exceedingly nasty because neither side has anything to lose. That is not the case with any "global citizen" today, of course.

Leftists for many decades have been too in love with the idea that "popular" insurgencies can not be defeated. (Lefty MSM pronounces what is or isn't popular, of course.) Actually, Stalin put down several popular insurgencies post WWII, in Poland and Hungary. The Argentines made a leftist movement go away in the 1960s-1970s period go away by making people go away. Castro has never tolerated the slightest right-wing stirrings (I was an inadvertent witness to the killing of four exile aviators in 1996 whose crime was dropping pro-democracy leaflets on Havana!) Fujimoro in Peru managed to put down the Shining Path, causing The New York Times to turn purple in the process because they said it couldn't be done and then they didn't like the way he did it.

The insurgency in Iraq will be put down because it is not "popular" in the Kurdish and Shia communities. If we don't meddle with the Iraqi government using Fujimoro-style tactics, the Kurds and the Shia will fix their own problems.
Perhaps I better qualify that--Afghanistan is slipping a bit in the pacification department because of increased infiltration from Pakistan, hence our more vigorous CIA bombing of that country. The Bush administration has probably a very fine calculation in progress of what they can and can't do about Syria and Pakistan.

I would expect that we will see some drastic intervention against Syria and Pakistan's border area before we ever do a massive hit on Iran.
The Bushies have been burned for worrying too much about WMD's already.

I thought I was talking hypothetically about Iraqis being my neighbors, but my wife pointed out that she has Iraqi children in her class, along with Iranians, Ukrainians, Pacific Islanders, Laotian mountain people, countless Hispanics, and the usual American pedigrees. We live in a community extraordinarily hospitable to waves of immigration. Several next door neighbors are Sikh or Pun Jabi. Walking my dogs I see bumper stickers proclaiming: INDIA, HANDS OFF KASHMIRASTAN!

It's a small "nuclear" world, anymore.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 16, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Iran's grievances with Israel are specific

It is my understanding that Israel participated in the plot to overthrow the Shah and closely allied with the Shah after the democratic leader of Iran was deposed by a US-led effort.

When the Islamic Revolution swept the Shah out of power, Israel has been an enemy of Iran ever since. There isn't any (signifigant) historical hatred between the Persians and Jews, but through our and Israeli interference we helped radicalize Persian Iran into the Islamic Revolution.

As it is said in the bible, you reap what you sew.

Posted by: Jimm on January 16, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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