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Tilting at Windmills

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April 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE LATEST ON IRAN....Jane Harman is a generally hawkish and fairly sober Democrat who recently received an intelligence briefing on Iran:

Her bottom line: "I remain skeptical lots of unanswered questions."

"The conjecture that I have is that if I were Iran, and I wanted to put out disinformation, it might look a lot like what our government is claiming is information," she said. "I can't tell you that's true, but I can't tell you it's not true."

....Harman said she does not doubt that Iran is a threat. "The issue is how capable are they and what are the real intentions of Iran's leaders, and I think the jury is out on both of those," Harman said.

But Jane Harman is not president of the United States. Here's Seymour Hersh on what George Bush thinks:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do, and that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.

....One of the militarys initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.

...The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff....[A Pentagon adviser on the war on terror] called it a juggernaut that has to be stopped. He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries, the adviser told me. This goes to high levels.

As usual, Hersh's piece is based almost entirely on anonymous sources, so take it for what it's worth. But it warrants reading regardless. It may or may not be a bluff, but the PR campaign for an air strike against Iran is clearly moving into high gear.

Kevin Drum 5:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (208)

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Comments

Apparently Saddam did manage to get something across the Iranian border: His playbook. President Admad and the ayatollahs are taking their cues right from Chapter 5: How To Build Up Domestic Support By Pissing Off The Great Satan. And Bush, well on his way to Carterdom, is buying it lock, stock, and barrel to save the 2006 elections and his posterity.

This isn't gonna be pretty.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on April 8, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

It is so cool that a hand-wringer like Jane Harman is the Democrat's spokesmodel on Iran!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 8, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully airing this will dampen it. Hersh hasn't always been entirely rock solid but he's sure broken some biggies as well.

Posted by: Ben on April 8, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, what's a little nuclear war between friends?

I get the feeling that I and the rest of the country are in for a lot of heavy drinking in the near future.

Posted by: MN Politics Guru on April 8, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Where to begin. "Doing what no future President, Democrat or Republican, would be so stupid as to do" is more like it. There have been innumerable articles on the net, here, aboutIran's potential for responding assymetrically if the US bombs them, including closing the Straits of Hormuz, conspiring with China and others to drive down the dollar, increased atttacks on our troops in Iraq, maybe by missle, attacks on soft targets by Hezbullah and others and on and on.

To think that the Iranians, who are much more numerous, organized and smarter than Saddam, would not retaliate is to inhabit a fantasy world. The military, who has seen their might broken in Bush's foolish Iraq adventure, has got to stand up to him, as have the Congress and the press. We all stand to lose much over this.

Posted by: Mimikatz on April 8, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

So here's W's question: send 2 B2s, or engage in long & uncertain "diplomacy?" What do you think he'll do?

Low polls suggest aggression--unite at home by attacking the enemy abroad.

All the signs are there--replay of pre-Iraq. I think it's baked in the cake.

Posted by: anonymous on April 8, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's logic: We have to nuke Iran in order to save it.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on April 8, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

impeach that fucker, now

Posted by: cleek on April 8, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Seymour Hersch is a well-known Bush-hater.

Better get some more sources than just him, Kevin.

Posted by: Moon Over Miami on April 8, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"....Harman said she does not doubt that Iran is a threat."

Yep.

Their nuclear arsenal and delivery methods rivals those of the former USSR.

WE NEED TO BE AFRAID.

Thank God Allmighty we have a leader like George who isn't afraid to drop the bomb.


Posted by: koreyel on April 8, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, let's ask a Republican. You know, for some lies to balance Hersh out.

Posted by: Calling All Toasters on April 8, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

He said that the President believes that he must do what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do, and that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.

Jesus H. Christ. Bush is fucking insane.

Posted by: kc on April 8, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf!

Posted by: George W Bush on April 8, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

So a Democrat says Iran isn't a threat. Well, if she says so, it must be true. Who is she, anyway, Hillary's clone?

I suppose y'all want to sit back and let Iran get the bomb, so that our children will be wiped out in an islamic nuke armegeddon.

Posted by: egbert on April 8, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf! Wolf!

Posted by: George W Bush on April 8, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Iran wants to be the dominant power in the region. Not a bad goal, since it is costing us an arm and a leg to be dominant in the region.

Iran's problem is that the economy sucks badly, and this makes their options limited.

Why not fix the economy? Because that means taking a pro-western stance, for that is where the trading is.

Why not give up on being the regional power? They can't. They need an aggressive outlook to ward off the Sunni Arabs.

Their religion puts them at odds with both the West and the middle east.

And, of all things, they are competing in Iraq with Saudi Arabia, making them rivals not likely to cooperate.

Iran is a country we want to let stew.

Posted by: Matt on April 8, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom line:

God told Bush that Iran will get the bomb, and Islam- the religion of satan, will win, and rule the earth for 1000 years if that happens. Only a strong champion of jesus with 1000 American ICBM's with atom bombs can prevent it, and save the world for god's children.

Really,

Just ask him if it ain't so.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 8, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

There can be legitimate disagreement regarding the level of Iran's threat to the U.S. and the costs and benefits of military action, but sane people everywhere absolutely have to agree on one thing: a nuclear first-strike by the United States cannot be allowed to happen, no matter what form the weapon takes. I'm shocked and ashamed if such an option is truely being considered.

Posted by: michael. on April 8, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Buy XOM,RDS,BP etc,also oil services like Halliburton...well,you know all about that one.

Posted by: Brit Hume on April 8, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Matt. Let the ayatollahs boil in their own rage and allow the invisible hand shove them into the dustbin.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on April 8, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq War is already costing the US $400 billion and that's probably a low figure. Our military is overstretched, our worldwide credibility is at its lowest point since who knows when, and we have a host of neglected problems at home. Attacking Iran would be our third war in five years and the first two are far from finished. The right wingers cheering the possibility of an attack against Iran have no idea apparently what the potential consequences are, particularly if Bush decides on using nuclear weapons for taking out some of the facilities.

But I do want to make one thing clear: Bush and his advisers are not bluffing and it would be a profound mistake for anyone to think they are bluffing; yes, we all know about Cold War bluffs but the times were different, the people were different and the rules were different. A quick way to think about this is that John Kennedy was capable of a good bluff but he had advisers like Curtis LeMay who did not bluff; the Curtis LeMay model, not the Kennedy model is what occupies the White House right now. And it's important to remember that our air power has largely been unused since the beginning of the Iraq War; our air power is fully capable of major military operations. That's not the issue. The issue, as always with the Bush Administration, is: what happens next? Muddling through is not an answer.

People need to start paying attention to what our situation is with Iran. Personally, I think there's a bizarre sense of desperation at the White House and Iran may represent for Bush a way to turn around his fortunes; he's wrong of course, but we're talking about a disconnected president living in a bubble. I wish it were possible for Congress to call for a one-year moratorium on any further military adventurism.

Posted by: Craig on April 8, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

From the article by Hersh:

Bush was absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do, and that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.
Hersh seems to me to be saying that he is going to attack Iran to destroy the Iranian capability to build nukes because he is in his lame duck period and he no longer needs to be concerned about getting reelected. He will do it because no one else can, and he has the power and his gut tells him that is what he is supposed to do.

I find that scary as Hell!

Posted by: Rick B on April 8, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is insane, and his followers come in two flavors: insane, and dumb as dirt.

Bush won't consult with anyone before ordering the bombers away, any more than Nixon consulted with anyone before expanding the Vietnam war to Cambodia and Laos. We'll wake up one fine morning to find WWIII has started.

"Resigning" doesn't do a damn bit of good; it leaves nutcases like Boykin in charge. We desperately need the military to tell Bush to go to Hell if he orders a bombing raid on Iran.

Posted by: CaseyL on April 8, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush blows up Iran, what are the chances he'll make it to the end of his term? Will he be able to get a presidential pardon? I was thinking he'd need one in 2009, but he might not be able to wait that long.

Posted by: Zeno on April 8, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a profile of a famous world leader. (quiz to follow)

1) Believes he was chosen by god to rule.
2) Claims to get instructions directly from god.
3) Never admits to having made a single mistake.
4) Displays no apparent remorse for actions. Never apologizes for anything.
5) Used an act of terror as a basis for establishing and expanding power.
6) His political base is an alliance of religion and industry.
7) Claims absolute power as supreme commander.
8) Premptively invades other nations branded as potential threats.
9) Creates a powerful domestic spy agency to monitor citizens.
10) Establishes Secret courts, secret trials, secret jails.
11) Establishes the practice of interrogation by torture.
12) Claims the power to kill anyone he deems a threat to the security of the state.

A)Hitler
B)Stalin
C)Mao Tse-Sung
D)George W. Bush

Answer: A and D

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Posted by: Buford on April 8, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Other than wringing her hands, does Jane Harman offer a way forward to deal with Iran??

No. Harman is in the Reid/Pelosi mold. Don't offer any alternative plan. Sit on the sidelines, whine, complain. Wring your hands. Pout about the quality of intelligence. Talk vaguely about the United Nations. Say you are Very Concerned.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 8, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

And take a look at this excellent article by James Fallows on the same topic.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on April 8, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the Democratic Motto: "When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout."

Posted by: Bark At The Moon on April 8, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bush really seems to believe war is his first--not last--resort and doesn't give a damn about the dire consequences of his reckless actions. He doesn't believe in true diplomatic, peaceful means that would most likely be productive rather than war that would be counterproductive and destructive.

The Bush administration and his congressional cohorts are making America and its citizens less--not more--secure by their reckless actions.

Posted by: Jesse A. Weissman on April 8, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bombing Iran would be a very unwise thing to do.
Very unwise. I guess Bush really doesn't care about winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world afterall. The Persian people may hate their leaders, but doing something like this would give them every reason to rally behind him and his anti-US stance.

Fuck it, I hope Bush does decide to bomb. Then we'll see a united Shiite front like we've never imagined that would do everything they could to keep the troops in Iraq, as more targets to practive with.


What does Bush care? He doesn't. He is a petulant child with the keys to the kingdom.

Scary. I fear for America with idiots like this in power.

Posted by: Brew Tal on April 8, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you one reason this is scary. We know that GWB and his top folks are not very good at evaluating threats. And I'm not just talking about Iraq which is scary enough by itself.

Remember how Rumsfeld and company apparently believed that the Soviet Union had better weapons than NATO, both nuclear and conventional, and also a much greater number? They were the only people that thought so. They turned out to be wrong, everybody else was right.

Same thing happend with Iraq.

Iran? Think about it. How could you possibly top Iraq as a terrorist recruiting tool? Impossible?

Maybe not. Just use a nuclear weapon or two against a Muslim country. That could be a contender!

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 8, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bark At The Moon: Boy, talk about a case of Republican projection.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 8, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Remember that courageous German officer who planted a bomb in an attache case and left it at a table as Hitler was about to speak?

Is he still around?

Posted by: Rootless Cosmopolitan on April 8, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

It really is scary. Bush's eagerness to go to war rather than find peaceful--negotiated--conclusions to conflicts with other countries would really be a perfect terrorist recruiting tool not a means for peaceful resolutions to our differences with other countries!!

His actions are growing more censurable if not impeachable.

Posted by: Jesse A. Weissman on April 8, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel:

"Their nuclear arsenal and delivery methods rivals those of the former USSR."

Yes, Iran surely has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire world 5 times over, and also has hundreds of missiles that can reach anywhere in the world.

Man, the kool-aid is mighty strong today.

Clapping louder did not work, so we must kill thousands more brown people.

It's all the Democrats' fault.

Posted by: Arr-squared on April 8, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Knock, knock!

Who's there?

Torquemada.

Torquemada who?

You can't Torquemada anything.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the Democratic Motto: "When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout."
Posted by: Bark At The Moon

unlike republicans, who have clearly become frightened pussies, I don't find Iran particularly dangerous.

Posted by: Nads on April 8, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Their nuclear arsenal and delivery methods rivals those of the former USSR."

This gets my vote as the silliest comment of the thread.

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Seymour Hersh? C'mon, must be a very slow news day.

Posted by: BlaBlaBla on April 8, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

The arguments that Hersh reports are so Iraq redux: Iran is led by an evil man. If we humiliate the mullahs, the people will rise up against them. We need to destabilize the ME to bring about change. Bush is the only man to do it.

It is terrifying that these boys don't seem to learn from experience.

This provides further evidence that appeasement is a bad, bad idea. Every time Bush violates another basic governing precept, every lie that his defenders rationalize away, the many refusals of the Senate to hold Bush accountable--each little appeasement brings us one step closer to the brink.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 8, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon...

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration...

one high-ranking diplomat...in Vienna...

A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror...

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues...

"former senior intelligence officials."

the little man who lives under the rhubarb leaves in Seymour's back yard...

Okay, scratch that last one. But geez. This is what gets a reporter into the New Yorker?

On the other hand, when he actually asks the White House, the response is that we're pursuing a diplomatic course. But what the hell would they know?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 8, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Really, you can argue that the only way to get a religious fruitcake like Ahmadinejad to renounce his nuclear ambition would be to make a nuclear martyr of his country.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, anything new from Iran's Magic Impossible Secret Weapon file?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 8, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, when he actually asks the White House, the response is that we're pursuing a diplomatic course. But what the hell would they know?
Posted by: tbrosz

when have they ... you know ... ever been trustworthy and not lied to us?

Really, you can argue that the only way to get a religious fruitcake like Ahmadinejad to renounce his nuclear ambition would be to make a nuclear martyr of his country.
Posted by: cld

ironically, I thought you were going to say bush instead of Ahmadinejad ... it would make as much sense.

Posted by: Nads on April 8, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

And your sources, tbrosz, are . . . ?

Surely you don't trust the administration on this, since they completely duped you about Iraq? You're not *that* stupid, are you?

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The only good course of action available for us now is impeachment. Any lesser course carries too great a risk of world war, with us as the antagonists.

Posted by: Boronx on April 8, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

LeisureGuy: thanks for the Fallows link. I read it because his pre-Iraq war article was so well done ("Iraq: Our Fifty-first State", something like that).

He appears to be on the mark again. Thanks to Iraq, our options are more limited than they used to be. It facinating how mistakes limit future options.

Let's just hope the American electorate will not keeping making big mistakes.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 8, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Oil goes immediately to 150 a barrel, Halliburton, Exxon/Mobil, Chevron etc. make tons of fucking money,


Mission Accomplished!!

Posted by: angryspittle on April 8, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Nads,

Yes, it would. Nearly

I'm not sure even that would affect Golden Boy, except to give even greater self-assurance to his madness.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's becoming increasingly clear that one of Bush's greatest errors will be that of not reaching out to (former Iranian President) Chatami. Chatami was as liberal a leader as we're likely to see in Iran for the next generation, and Bush's failure to establish some working understanding with Chatami was a real loss for both peace in the region and a political opening in the Iranian state.

Posted by: djw on April 8, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: I think Hersh should print what he hears when he keeps hearing it all over the place.

Was he wrong about prisons and torture?

Was he wrong about Vietnam?

Kevin qualified his post in an appropriate manner.

Why do you do often pick around the edges without commenting on the main thrust of the post? Do you trust the Bush Administration to handle Iran in a diligent, honest, effective fashion? If so, why?

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 8, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Joel asks tbrosz:

You're not *that* stupid, are you?

Joel, the answer to that question when directed to tbrosz is always, always, always, in all situations at all times: YES HE IS.

After all this time, I've finally realized who tbrosz reminds me of: Fred Leuchter.

Go see Mr. Death, and tell me that tbrosz's cretinous mumblings don't make you think of Leuchter too. The same thought processes, the same bizarre self-delusion, the same inability to see what's right in front of his face. Hearing Leuchter talk about gas chambers at Auschwitz is precisely like hearing tbrosz talk about politics.

Posted by: grh on April 8, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

"This gets my vote as the silliest comment of the thread."

Will then friend let me tell you an even deeper truth:

Not only are the Iranians armed to the teeth...
(Last I checked they spend nearly one-ten-thousandths of what the US spends on their military every year) but unlike the former USSR, the Iranians are spread out over a whole continent!

That means we are going to have even a harder time bombing them into a parking lot.

In other words: Whereas fear of a nuclear strike held the USSR at bay for 30 years... it will not work as well on these evil Iranians.

FOLKS, BE VERY AFRAID OF THE IRANIANS.
THEY ARE THE BIG BAD WOLF.
THE WORST OF THE WORST...
WHY... I EVEN HEAR THEY HAVE TORPEDOS NOW!

Thank God Almighty that we have a real man like George Bush who isn't afraid to go toe to toe with these treacherous foes.

Praise the Lord Jesus and God Bless the USA!

Posted by: koreyel on April 8, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid we're up against something that hasn't changed -- this man's insecurities, and how he copes with them. For all his people skills and political talents, he's always been over his head since he left Texas and he's always known it.

Why him? What had he ever really done to prepare for this job, to gain the stature for it? He surrounds himself with sycophants because he doesn't like what he sees in other people's eyes when they look at him.

He justifies his holding the office by doing bold and brash things that he knows other presidents wouldn't do. He's not himself that much of an ideologue, but under these circumstances, radical ideology gives him what he needs. Perversely, being criticized, to the degree he already expects it, merely reinforces his wall against self-doubt. The more people object, the more they try to clue him in about the real-world consequences of the course he has set, the more it vindicates his own sense of himself.

I'm afraid this explain a lot of what he's done -- reckless tax cuts, the "war on terror," going for broke on Iraq, going for broke on Social Security. I'm afraid it explains how he goes about it, never admitting error, never having an honest give-and-take exchange in public, always grasping for unconstrained power, always waging war on people who stand in his way or don't follow the party line. He's persuaded himself and his flacks that he's the one man who can save the country in its hour of peril -- because he needs to think that. That's how he is.

If it were some other president, I wouldn't worry too much about Seymour Hersh's third-hand mind readings. But I'm afraid this one rings true. What to do? It's useless to try to persuade him he's wrong about something, and even if it's possible to win Congress back, he seems set on acting unilaterally. He seems ever more like a hijacker, rather than a leader -- he won't give up the wheel, and he's not going to change course. Because he's trapped in his own mind, we're all trapped on board.

Posted by: nandrews3 on April 8, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

We're not dealing with the smartest people in the room here.

A nicely timed war of choice delivered the 2002 elections, and I don't think the 'planning' of these yahoos goes much beyond 'Well, it worked last time."

From Treasury to State, from the economy to the climate, there's little evidence of anyone taking the long view beling allowed to rise very far in this administration.

And these are the assclowns who are dealing with Iraq.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 8, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is too fucking stupid and lazy to think of any solution except blowing the fuck out of something.

It fits his IQ of 56.

Posted by: angryspittle on April 8, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim asks tbrosz:

Why do you do often pick around the edges without commenting on the main thrust of the post?

As I say directly above: go see Mr. Death. That will answer your question, and tell you everthing you need to know about tbrosz a/k/a Fred Leuchter.

Posted by: grh on April 8, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Koreyel: Best Alice/Patton parody of the thread.

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

A Pulitzer Prize and breaking the abu graib story gets you in the New Yorker with sources like these.

Don't sell Hersch short. He knows what he's doing.

Posted by: kimster on April 8, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

In a way, I'm thinking "Bring 'em on!" Let's get it over with. We're all tired of maintaining the pretense that this predatory empire of ours isn't the scourge of the earth. Let's light up a couple of nukes over Natanz so that we and everyone else can really see our national reflection in a (hot radioactive) glass darkly.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on April 8, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

What is most disturbing about what we've heard of the plans involving force is their do-it-all-at-once nature. Albeit, because of the number of targets, all those plans still involve a multi-day effort.

At this point, Iran must consider strikes a high probability, and are preparing for that eventuality. The recent exercises and displays of "wonder weapons" also strongly suggest Iran is (at least rhetorically) upping the ante.

US military planners obviously believe that there is little Iran can do to stop the US from significantly damaging Iran's nuclear (and maybe other) programs, regardless Iran's preparations. Militarily, it is going to make little difference whether a campaign runs for non-stop for a few days, or off-and-on for weeks or probably months.

So if force is to be used, why not a staged escalation over a period of weeks or months, coupled with a suitable diplomatic strategy that incents and allows Iran to yell "uncle" when the minimum necessary force--and no more than the minimum necessary force--has been applied?

Obviously other means (e.g., sanctions) would be preferable if feasible and effective. However, if the administration is hell bent on the use of military force, then we should demand that they explain why a graduated escalation isn't viable. The threat is far from imminent, and there is still time to apply gradually escalating persuasion (even if it does involve force).

In short, why not start with a little arm-twisting, instead of immediately kneecapping the guy?

Posted by: has407 on April 8, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has gone Messianic. I have no doubt that GW Clusterfuck and his demented goons fully intend to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities with nuclear weapons. They believe it will keep them in power. That crowd will do ANYTHING to remain in power.

This will no doubt endear us no end to the Iraqi Shia who will turn against our troops in Iraq. In fact, this will no doubt endear us to the billion (?) of Muslims the world over.

I don't have to worry about my old age any more. I'll probably be blown up in a terrorist attack before I reach retirement age.

Posted by: Devil's Advocate on April 8, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

The nuclear talk is a bluff. An actual nuclear war in the Persian Gulf would derail the world economy - very bad for the GOP's principal investors. So Chimpy can't do it.

The airstrikes are a given, the timing electorially optimized of course. (Unless Fitzgerald gets too uppity, in wich case they may come sooner.) The GOP congress + Lieberman will go along, maybe Nelson too.

Will it help the GOP in the elections? I give it a 30% chance. They might as well do it, they figure. Not a whole lot to lose, politically.

An actual alternative policy? Please, Kevin. The entire U.S. intelligence apparatus is hoplessly damaged by relentless Bushco onanism. Thus, no one in Congress (or America) will be given anything resembling a realistic view of Iran's capabilities and intentions. You can't drive when you're tied up and blindfolded in the back seat.

This administration needs to be cut off at the knees politically. It's safe for the opposition party to assume everything Bush says is a lie. Damage him so badly that Americans see it that way as well. Imagine Trent Lott undercutting Operation Desert Fox, and magnify that by 1000.

Posted by: HeavyJ on April 8, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Iran must be attacked. The world will not be saved without us, a representative country of white born-again evangelical Christians, attacking Iran. Bush is our God's chosen messiah, courageous and brave enough, to attack Iran, to prepare us for the second coming of Christ.

Why I believe this so fervently? Because my white born-again evangelical Christian priest from a bible-belt state said so. War is the only option to save us, white born-again evangelicals, from Christ's wrath.

Long live the Left Behind movement. God bless our God (of) War Bush.


Posted by: Mini Al on April 8, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "I suppose y'all want to sit back and let Iran get the bomb, so that our children will be wiped out in an islamic nuke armegeddon."

My god, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, it was in late 2002 and early 2003 but the country had a "Q" at the end instead of an "N." Well, egbert, I suppose that if the Bushies attack enough Muslim countries, the odds are that eventually they'll hit one with the nukes to throw at its neighbors. What's that, Pakistan is our ally? Oh well, too bad, gotta stop the Islamic Nuke Armegeddon!

Posted by: Taobhan on April 8, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone think the Joint Chiefs of Staff will oppose GWB if he tries to go down this road to ruin? Does a JCS refusal to comply w/ orders open a bigger can of worms? Just wondering.

Posted by: Mick on April 8, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I am learning to love you lefties. If you weren't so frothing at the mouth pissed at GWB for stealing the 2000 election and then beating Kerry after the polls said you had won, no one in the whole wide world would give one bit of credence to this obvious bluff. Buyt you all have convinced the world that he is crazy enough, stupid enough, or befuddled by religion enough to actually drop a few in the Imams' mens' rooms.

Hersh's story, read carefully, is probably at least some part true: Bush has refused to let the generals take nuclear options off the table. There is a message there-- for Moscow and Peking. Let's see if they come around on sanctions. If they don't, and if nukes truly are on the table, don't look for anything before the election-- gas prices would go to $5, and Bush knows that the one factor that tracks most closely with his approval ratings is gas prices.

Posted by: Dan on April 8, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf!

No, really, this time, Wolf!

Posted by: George W Bush on April 8, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Mick: Does anyone think the Joint Chiefs of Staff will oppose GWB if he tries to go down this road to ruin?

If it involved the use of nukes--even tactical subterranean nukes--as described? Yes, I think the entire JCS would oppose such action, and the majority (if not all) would probably resign, along with many others, if such an action was directed by the CIC.

Dan's bluster nothwithstanding, nukes are very, very, very different animals. No one--especially those who went through the cold war (e.g., the JCS and staff)--wants to open that Pandora's box except in the most dire circumstances. Iran doesn't come close to qualifying.

Posted by: has407 on April 8, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dan, you are obviously full of shit and haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. Please go away now, and let thoughtful people discuss this without your spittle getting in the way. There's a good lad, now. Go watch cartoons, or something.

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

HeavyJ, The nuclear talk is a bluff. An actual nuclear war in the Persian Gulf would derail the world economy - very bad for the GOP's principal investors. So Chimpy can't do it. The airstrikes are a given, the timing electorially optimized of course.


And consider the environment afterward, a third of the world might look like Baghdad. I can imagine some Cheneyesque executive picturing that as the ideal environment for corporate feudalism.


On the other hand --are we being used? We think he's nuts, they think he's nuts --and the Republicans know we think that and how we think a lot about how nuts they are. The more stories like this that come out, stories that are perfectly true, and the more we talk about it, the more likely it is that the Iranians will see it and blink, they think.

Or, thinking that we think that, not blink, and then what's George supposed to do? Blink?

With those beady eyes? I don't think so.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

has407 -- I like your arm twisting approach. The credible threat of force got the U.N. inspectors back into Iraq. Unfortunately, it was all part of a delusional and preordained plan to invade.

The Bush Administration has no credibility, no political capital. Even if they were suddenly to become brain alive, no one would take them seriously. Look at the immigration debate.

Anyway, it's still good for us citizens to consider the more sensible alternatives...


Posted by: Detroit Dan on April 8, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon, I meant 'steely glare'.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a relgious sociopath. Since the 'voice' he hears comes from God, earthly consequences are irrelevant. We'd be better off if he was taking peyote for inspiration.
Maybe if the mess he creates is sufficiently dire, without being terminal, the myth of the morally superior religious person will receive the discredit it deserves.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on April 8, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

rbrosz, whistling in the dark: On the other hand, when he actually asks the White House, the response is that we're pursuing a diplomatic course. But what the hell would they know?

A good question, and judging from recent history, the answer "nothing" comes to mind.

But a better question is, why would anyone believe anything the White House says? Seriously. To say they have zero credibility is to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the question the press must ask McClellan on Monday:

Scotty, does the president think that improving Republican chances in the 2006 midterm elections is important enough to merit dropping nukes, unprovoked, on 50 million people?

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

If Shrub does drop the big one, because God tells him to, then the world will be a very ugly place for many years. But one silver lining will be the end of the Republican party. Not for a generation, I mean forever.

They'll have to reform, and change the name to something like "Not the Party of George W Bush."

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK


TBROSZ: A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon...One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration...one high-ranking diplomat..in Vienna...A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror...A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues...former senior intelligence officials...This is what gets a reporter into the New Yorker?

These people weren't all in the same room, part of the same club, sitting around getting their stories straight before Hersh arrived to gullibly eat it up. They independently provided Hersh with information supporting his speculations and conclusions. But you're right, neither Bush, Cheney, nor Rumsfeld told Hersh, "Yeah, we're planning to nuke Iraq." Guess that means it can't be true, eh?


Posted by: jayarbee on April 8, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking a mass resignation by the JCS would precipitate a Constitutional crisis that would severely inhibit our ability to function as a united country. That would be exactly where Bin Laden wants us. The terrorist attacks that would follow could possibly cause the country to dissolve into regional sub-states for protection. We already have red-blue, have have-not, black white, legal illegal issues, I wonder what would happen if the fabric of unity was ripped apart.

Posted by: Mick on April 8, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Why would any of you bother to react or comment to anonymous and unsubstantiated NONSENSE?

So this is how it works...

Anyone who doesn't like Bush can call up Seymour Hersch, tell him ANYTHING he wants, and Hersch prints it, and you people eat it up???

Good grief.

Posted by: why on April 8, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Joint Chiefs Opposed Opposed to Iran Nuke Attack, Members of Congress Gung-Ho
A new report by Seymour Hersh finds that senior Bush administration officials are developing plans for a massive attack on Iran which could include nuclear weapons. Hersh points out that the Joint Chiefs of Staff a panel of the highest-ranking military officials from each branch of the U.S. armed services are strenuously opposed to the plan, so much so that some have threatened to resign if it goes forward:
[A] Pentagon adviser on the war on terrorconfirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries, the adviser told me. This goes to high levels. The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks, the adviser said. And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.
But such advice hasnt fazed the ultra-hawkish members of Congress, who now refuse to accept any plan that doesnt include the use of nuclear weapons...

How competent has this administration has been in estimating risk to the US, in developing policy planning and in executing plans? Any fair assessment illustrates their complete incompetence and dishonesty in all. There is no reason to believe anything Bush and his administration claims to be a threat from Iran.


Posted by: Mike on April 8, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

So you actually believe that anyone who doesn't like Bush can call up Seymour Hersch, tell him ANYTHING he wants, and Hersch prints it???

Moron.

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

cleek:

If by "impeach that fucker now" you mean Bush, you must first impeach that other fucker(Cheney). First you must elect a Democratic House(50% required to impeach) then a 67-33 Democratic Senate(electorally and mathematically impossible), then impeach Cheney, and then you can "impeach that fucker."

Posted by: lee on April 8, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who doesn't like Bush can call up Seymour Hersch, tell him ANYTHING he wants, and Hersch prints it, and you people eat it up???

We only react because it's plausible.

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

"There is no reason to believe anything Bush and his administration claims to be a threat from Iran."

Given what we know now, is there any reason to believe anything Bush and his administration claim about *anything*?

Posted by: Joel on April 8, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

why: Anyone who doesn't like Bush can call up Seymour Hersch, tell him ANYTHING he wants, and Hersch prints it, and you people eat it up???

Demonstrably false. I don't like Bush. I have called Seymour numerous times over the past five ears and told him Bush is a necrophiliac. Seymour hasn't yet printed it.

Posted by: has407 on April 8, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, you would have to impeach the top five dingbats simultaneously before you get down to John Snow, the least unacceptable of them. Of course, he's leaving, so you'd have to impeach at least eight of them at once before you got to Secretary of the Interior, currently vacant, so who knows who that will be?

In the circumstances, I think we'd have to stop at Condi.

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Republican Views --- AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAG --
FRONT PAGE - MUST SEE *****

Sotry here: MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8 April
...As the mid-term election approaches and the Bush/Cheney Administration faces potential melt-down and if things really go bad for them, possible impeachment, Washington insiders remember the pre-election gambits and surprises of the past. For the old Washington hands this term 'October Surprise' is most associated with Republican conservative Presidents Reagan and Bush I.

Back in 1980 in fact Iran was again at the center of intrique, this time relating to the political fallout over Tehran 'the hostage crisis' that had begun back in 1979 -- a book with the title 'October Surprise' from a former Carter White House-military-agency official was soon to explain the dealings and double-dealings of that day. Now once again with the stakes bigger than ever it's Iran again in 2006 -- this time in the crosshairs.

or here:

The American Conservative - April 10, 2006 Issue
An October Surprise?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
- http://www.amconmag.com/

or this:
http://thinkprogress.org/2006/04/04/iran-strike/
Senior U.S. Officials Want to Hit Iran

Joseph Cirincione is a respected non-proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment, one who admits he was the last remaining person in Washington who believed President George W. Bush when he said that he was committed to a diplomatic solution. Yet, in a new column for Foreign Policy magazine, he says he now believes that senior U.S. officials have already made up their minds to attack Iran:

For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view. In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran. What I previously dismissed as posturing, I now believe may be a coordinated campaign to prepare for a military strike on Iran.

The ramifications of such an attack could be disastrous. At a minimum, it would likely rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. But most importantly, a military strike would almost certainly speedup Irans nuclear weapons development by sparking a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.

or this:
//www.harpers.org/MostRecentCover.html

3/24/06: Harper's: Excerpts from "American Coup dEtat: Military thinkers discuss the unthinkable

Excerpts from American Coup dEtat: Military thinkers discuss the unthinkable in the April 2006 editor of Harpers magazine.

The only truly existential threat that American democracy might face today, the Harpers editors write, could be the unthinkable a military coup. The latest Harpers pulls together a panel of experts to discuss the state of our military its culture, its relationship with the wider society, and the steadfastness of its loyalty to the ideals of democracy and to the US Constitution....

or this:

...I mean, we need the jobs. Those jobs happen to be producing military weapons.

In order to justify that, we have to have a use for those military weapons. Now, this sounds very simplistic and, oh, it really cant be this way, and maybe its not this way.

But, whats weird and whats strange and compelling is that Eisenhower said what he said in 1961, so he must have seen something as - from his perspective that said this was going to happen, this was a possibility. And I think its come true, just as he predicted.
-------
C-SPAN - Q&A, April 2nd.
ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT or to WATCH
http://www.q-and-a.org/ - Video
the transcript is here:
http://www.q-and-a.org/Transcript/?ProgramID=1069
****************
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. - Edward R. Murrow


Posted by: Aeon on April 8, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

It may or may not be a bluff, but the PR campaign for an air strike against Iran is clearly moving into high gear.

Kevin, I don't usually join the chorus of folks here in comments who call you a spineless weenie and so forth, but in this case I think you have your head in a bag. "It may or may not be a bluff" is exactly what we were saying in the summer and fall of 2002. From our perspective, as sane people who think an attack on Iran is nuts, we have to assume that the Bush Admin is gearing up for a major strike within the next six months, and we have to start organizing to prevent that.

The only way to slow or stop Bush from striking Iran, if he has decided to do so, would be to create a climate in which such a strike would most likely cost the GOP the House and Senate in November 2006. That means we need to create a unified consensus on the left that these strikes are crazy, unnecessary, and counterproductive -- that they are Iraq War 2. We need to start selling this line now. It is a strong line to run on; the country has turned strongly against the Iraq war. Democrats can credibly inure themselves to weak-on-defense attacks over this issue by pointing out that the intelligence on Iranian nukes is uncertain and that the people gunning for war now are the same ones who got us into the Iraq mess.

There is no point speculating about whether or not Bush is bluffing. Based on past behavior, we have to assume he is not. It may be impossible to stop him from going ahead with strikes, but the damage such an unprovoked attack would do to the US and to the world order is so great that it is our moral duty to do everything possible to stop it, politically. It also happens to be in the Democrats' best interests to do so.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 8, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking a mass resignation by the JCS would precipitate a Constitutional crisis that would severely inhibit our ability to function as a united country. That would be exactly where Bin Laden wants us. The terrorist attacks that would follow could possibly cause the country to dissolve into regional sub-states for protection. We already have red-blue, have have-not, black white, legal illegal issues, I wonder what would happen if the fabric of unity was ripped apart.

Posted by: Mick on April 8, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm starting to wonder about these things too,and the terrorist attacks could easily be domestic in origin. Remember the militia movement in the early 90's.

Posted by: Neo the commissar on April 8, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking a mass resignation by the JCS would precipitate a Constitutional crisis

Why? Nothing in the Constitution about the Joint Chiefs.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 8, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

mick, glad to see your faith in the american people, their constitution and the rule of law!(well scratch that last one)

Posted by: almostinfamous on April 8, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK
I suppose y'all want to sit back and let Iran get the bomb, so that our children will be wiped out in an islamic nuke armegeddon. Posted by: egbert on April 8, 2006 at 5:53 PM
As the IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has say, Iran is years away from having nuclear weapons. He is the guy who was right on Iraq. As Helena Cobban at Just World News says: (1) Ever since I first arrived in Washington DC in 1982, there have been ardently pro-Israel lobbyists and alleged "experts" arguing that Iran (and also, in those days, Iraq) was "two to five years" away from having nuclear weapons. I even served for a few years there in the 1980s as a member of a body called the "Washington Council on Nuclear Non-proliferation." Well, "two to five years" was the typical time-period mentioned in those days, and over the years since then.... And now, amazingly, it's still about the same... In the interim, 24 years have passed, and Iran has neither acquired nuclear weapons nor verifiedly pursued a nuclear weapons program. What the heck are we supposed to conclude from that?

We can conclude that warmongering right wingers have been trying to stir up war hysteria for a long time.

Other than wringing her hands, does Jane Harman offer a way forward to deal with Iran?? Frequency Kenneth 6:31 PM

The way to deal with Iran is: act like adults. I realize that would be a first for the crew in the White House, but no diplomatic solution is possible when Iran is subjected to irrational verbal attacks and demagoguery by the Bush regime.
Here is the Democratic Motto: "When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout." Bark At The Moon 6:35 PM

Remember, in the run up to the attack on Iraq, who was correct and who lied. Hint: No statement by any administration official has been accurate, despite all their jumping, screaming, lying and smearing.
tbrosz 7:27 PM when he actually asks the White House, the response is that we're pursuing a diplomatic course.

Who do you expect people to believe, proven liars like Bush and his administration or a reporter who has been accurate in the past and has the connections to get accurate information?
...Buyt you all have convinced the world that he is crazy enough, stupid enough,...to actually drop a few in the Imams' mens' rooms. Dan at 9:34 PM

No, Bush has convinced the world that he is crazy and stupid all on his own.
Why? Nothing in the Constitution about the Joint Chiefs. brooksfoe 10:59 PM

True, but such a act may cause the country to respond forcibly and encourage the military to refuse Bush's order, which is something that supposedly happened during Nixon's meltdown.

Posted by: Mike on April 8, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe:
If the JCS resigns en masse the loss of confidence in the administration of GWB might lead to calls for his impeachment. This in turn might prompt W to do something rash to stay in power. Not unheard of, see Watergate. The highly partisan nature of the Congress makes a confrontation more likely. When political power is at stake all bets are off. We are in the middle of historic times. I only hope someone remains to write the history books.

Posted by: Mick on April 8, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe: "It may be impossible to stop [Bush] from going ahead with strikes, but the damage such an unprovoked attack would do to the US and to the world order is so great that it is our moral duty to do everything possible to stop it, politically"

I agree 100%. Perhaps the time has come to rebroadcast the Lyndon Johnson "Daisy" ad. The resulting hysteria might force Bush to promise he isn't planning to nuke Iran.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 8, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

We need to start selling this line now. It is a strong line to run on; the country has turned strongly against the Iraq war. Democrats can credibly inure themselves to weak-on-defense attacks over this issue by pointing out that the intelligence on Iranian nukes is uncertain and that the people gunning for war now are the same ones who got us into the Iraq mess.

The only way to stop Bush is to remove him from office. He doesn't need congressional approval to order a single night of bombing, so taking congress means nothing. Indeed, opinion polls have consistently shown the American people to be hawkish on Iran -- bitter memories die slowly.

Saying that the intelligence on Iran is "uncertain" really just means there isn't complete agreement on the extent of the mullahs' progress on acquiring nuclear weapons. That the effort is underway isn't in doubt -- on this point there is unanimity among western intelligence agencies.

Finally, much of the doubt that should have in retrospect come to the fore with regard to Iraq was justified (again, in retrospect) by Iraq's relative weakness: a decade of sanctions, the presence of a large inspections regime, etc. But Iran hasn't had its sovereignty impinged in any meaningful way, and possesses an economy and a scientific infrastructure far more formidable than that of Iraq in the period after the Gulf War.

The left may respond to America's recent intelligence failings by demanding certitude; fortunately neither the American public nor the current administration will take this view.

Britain's The Sunday Times by the way, is reporting (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2125207,00.html) that its sources say the upcoming attack is overwhelmingly likely to involve only conventional weapons, if that's any consolation.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on April 8, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to stop Bush is to remove him from office. He doesn't need congressional approval to order a single night of bombing, so taking congress means nothing.
Posted by: P.B. Almeida

are you suggesting someone take him out? ... as in "who will rid me of this meddlesome unelected dipshit"? I'm sure you didn't mean that.

Posted by: Nads on April 8, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Other than wringing her hands, does Jane Harman offer a way forward to deal with Iran??"

Sorry, but isn't the real question how to deal with the United States?

Posted by: Kenji on April 8, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

What was the secret to defeating Bush's Social Security Bamboozlepalooza? Not buying into its premise -- insisting on the truth that there is no crisis. Kevin played a large and helpful role in promoting this truth, which got through despite the grip that the 'crisis' myth had (and still unfortunately has) on lazy pundits and bought-off media.

Once again, wrt the U.S. and Iran: there is no crisis. It's not about weapons. And war is not the answer.

All the specific arguments against the Cheney-Bush regime's insane war threats fall into one of those three key points.

I'd rather not cut and paste a long comment from elsewhere, so here's a link.

Posted by: Nell on April 8, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with brooksfoe. Aside from any and all military and political implications, any such first use of nuclear weapons should be seen as morally indefensible. If the Bushists were to use nuclear weapons against Iran, the United States would be universally reviled by civilized human beings for the rest of the century.

Of course, after floating this balloon, they may just go ahead and use conventional bombs (which these days are far from conventional) and then everyone breathes a sigh of relief at their restraint. It's kind of like how they inflate budget projections so that, when the deficit explodes, they can point to how the situation is improving because it wasn't as bad as they themselves predicted.

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on April 8, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe: "The only way to slow or stop Bush from striking Iran..."

The only way to slow or stop Bush from striking Iran is to force an open debate on: (1) the rationale for such a strike; and (2) the form of such a strike.

As you suggest, the rationale for such a strike, based on the Iraq experience, should allow the opposition to engender sufficient doubts to stifle both popular support and support in Congress, and hit them where it counts (votes and seats).

However, if that fails, which it may if Bush decides "screw it, I'm not up for reelection and history will validate my actions, so damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead..." then we must have a strategy that attempts to minimize fallout.

Thus I would argue for a two-pronged approach: (1) You can't trust this admininstration to get the facts straight; and (2) if militiary action is required, you can't trust this admininstration to get it right. From a purely manicheaen/political perspective, those are functions that the Democractic leadership should be able to parcel out.


p.s. P.B. Almeida -- It is extremely comforting to hear that nukes have been taken off the table.

Posted by: has407 on April 8, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to stop Bush is to remove him from office. He doesn't need congressional approval to order a single night of bombing, so taking congress means nothing.

Impeachment is not currently a plausible option. If Bush attacks Iran, it will become a plausible option. If the Democrats then control Congress, it will become a very plausible, even probable option. Conservatives like to think in game-theory and rational-choice models; I think these models take insufficient account of factors like social group pressure and irrational emotionality, but still, taking a rational-choice model, if it were made clear to Bush in advance that a decision to attack Iran would very likely lead to the GOP losing Congress, and might in the longer term increase the chances of impeachment, that would have a deterrent effect. It's a long shot whether Democrats and the left could actually shape the political playing field to make such consequences seem likely in advance, though I think they would be very likely in the aftermath.

Saying that the intelligence on Iran is "uncertain" really just means there isn't complete agreement on the extent of the mullahs' progress on acquiring nuclear weapons. That the effort is underway isn't in doubt -- on this point there is unanimity among western intelligence agencies.

There is doubt on whether Iran is 3 years or 10 years from acquiring nuclear weapons. More important, nobody has any clue whatsoever what Iran would do with nuclear weapons if it had them. No one has made any credible case that Iranian nukes pose more of a threat than Pakistani nukes. Iran backs Hezbollah; Pakistan backed the Taliban. The threat that a country might acquire a weapon which it then could conceivably decide to use against us cannot justify our actually attacking them and killing people. More important, an attack by the US on Iran would - and one can predict THIS with complete certainty - lead to astronomically damaging consequences in terms of radicalizing Muslim hatred of the US, annihilating the US's ability to conduct diplomacy and geopolitics in the Mideast, and raising the likelihood of catastrophic terrorist attacks within the US. It would multiply the number of ferocious anti-American potential terrorists worldwide by a large factor. The disastrous invasion of Iraq has proven beyond any doubt that the Administration's doctrine of preemptive war is an utter failure on every level, as we on the left knew it would be and warned it would be in advance. If we follow this doctrine one more time, we will move past irrevocably damaging American interests to simply flushing them down the toilet.

Nothing that is happening right now in terms of Iran's nuclear weapons program poses anything approaching the risk to the US that is posed by the possibility that Bush might attack Iran. Ahmadinejad is not a threat to us. Bush is.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 8, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK
P.B. Almeida 11:25 PM: The left may respond to America's recent intelligence failings by demanding certitude; fortunately neither the American public nor the current administration will take this view.
After the Iraq debacle, you should not be so cocky about the American public on that one, fella. Posted by: Mike on April 9, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

The military guys used to be able to converse via Instant messaging both here and abroad. In the last two weeks or so, I have noticed that none of them can. Now, it appears that none of them are allowed to communicate in this fashion. I wonder what is going on.

Posted by: Doomed on April 9, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, Bush proves how much like our traditional and historical enemies he and his cohorts really are and how little they have learned from their own failures.

Posted by: Advocate for God on April 9, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you what, by God: if the anti-Bush Left starts trying to morally inculpate this Administration and our military in the face of our national obligation to keep Iran from going nuclear, you will know what a seditious bunch of vermin they truly are. Do the Dhimmicrats simply not have the character to share in the responsibility of responding to Iran?

Do you people think you've immunized yourselves somehow against the touch of your own moral duty just because you have the lesser number of Representatives and Senators and lack the White House?

Don't forget: dissent is no substitute for affirmation.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on April 9, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

What duty is that Toby. What responsibility do we as individuals have towards Iran. Personally they have done nothing to me. There are other more pressing threats. I am sorry I do not share your sense of moral indignation. Oh next round Toby there will be a draft, polish up your combat boots boy.

Posted by: Neo the commissar on April 9, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Got to admit, I am still totally enamored with that first Kevin Drum sentence:

"Jane Harman is a generally hawkish and fairly sober Democrat who recently received an intelligence briefing on Iran..."

Sober.
Hawkish.

As distinguished I suppose from those wild-eyed liberal Democrats who slur their words while mewling about pacification?

The Democratic party is just filled with those sorts of sots... isn't it?

Posted by: koreyel on April 9, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, when he actually asks the White House, the response is that we're pursuing a diplomatic course. But what the hell would they know?

They said that when they were lying their asses off in the runup to the pre-decided war in Iraq, too, so how stupid do you have to be to take them on their word when they are saying all the same things about Iran?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 9, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe: "...if it were made clear to Bush in advance that a decision to attack Iran would very likely lead to the GOP losing Congress..."

I think Bush's concern with how he goes down in history far outweighs his concern with the GOP. His traditional "conservative" and "small government" credibility is shot. His potential hallmark--Social Security reform (*cough*)--is shot. His only legacy at this point is a huge deficit, no substantive solution to healthcare (arguably a significant increase in the healthcare morass), no substantive tax reforms--and of course the mess in Iraq. No wonder he's a proven leper for most (all?) GOP Congressional candidates

If he thought that an attack on Iran would serve both interests, it might be a factor, but statements such as "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do and that saving Iran is going to be his legacy" suggest otherwise.

In short, we appear to have a President who is desperate to establish his legacy. While a long-term view is an admirable trait for leaders, it is extremely scary when that view is warped by desperation. It is also doubtful that the midterms--at least with respect to Iran--will carry any weight. (But who knows, maybe Rove will prevail--and isn't that a piss-poor reflection on the state of the union.)

Posted by: has407 on April 9, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

It would be really cool if the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a press conference and announced their resignations in the face of the administration's manifest insanity.
It would also be really cool if the Corps of Engineers would provide New Orleans with adequate protection.
Of course, neither will happen.

Posted by: Brian Boru on April 9, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Can we assume that the wingnuts commenting here about the dire threat of Iranian nukes would have favored a pre-emptive attack upon the Soviet Union in the late 1940's?

Fortunately, we had sane leadership back then.

Posted by: bad Jim on April 9, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

This whole absurd nuke business is the best reason you need to censure and/or impeach Bush. What more needs to be said? Take the gloves off, because the guy doesn't care what you think, or what most sane foreign policy and military analsysts think, so take him down through legimitate Congressional processes, or at least push for it.

Posted by: Jimm on April 9, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

While the Democrats sit around twiddling their thumbs until 2006 or 2008, Bush might go nuke somebody. Get on the offensive.

Posted by: Jimm on April 9, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

How do the potential plans for Iran correlate to the 700-ton explosive test in Nevada on June 2nd?

The test seems weird anyway - how would one go about delivering 700 tons of explosive??? You can't. Meaning they are essentially testing the destructive force of a small bunker-busting nuke. A bluff, or part of a deliberate plan to use one in Iran?

Posted by: tinfoil on April 9, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Cragie: Scotty, does the president think that improving Republican chances in the 2006 midterm elections is important enough to merit dropping nukes, unprovoked, on 50 million people?

Scotty: Well Cragie, while I appreciate your concern, your question has several assumptions that I don't think are valid. I'll just touch on a few highlights, but it fairness to everyone else, we really need to move on, as Mr. Gannon has just pointed out...

First, you assume that Repulicans need to increase their chances in the 2006 midterm elections. I think it's clear that Republican candidates that have disassociated themselves from this administration--which is to say any candidate with a brain--is doing quite well. For those candidates without brains, we are working to address the situation.

Second, you assume that those 50 million dead people would have an impact on 2006 midterm elections. I think that's extremely presumptuous, since they would be dead and thus couldn't vote, even if they were eligible to vote in US elections, which they aren't, unless they were in Texas, which they obviously aren't.

And in any case we do not belive they would have voted for the Republican ticket if they were alive and eligible--and likely would have voted against the Republican ticket if they were alive and eligible--being subjects of a terrorist regime and all. So that's a win-win for us.

Third, you assme that the action is unprovoked. While for obvious reasons I can't reveal all of the intelligence, sources and methods, we have reliable information that the uranium we didnt' find in Iraq is now being traded on the street and in bazaar's in Tehran.

Moreover, based on a close reading of several UN salvage rights conventions, we have determined that uranium belongs to us. We turned Iraq into a junkyard, and therefore we are entitled to the junk.

Posted by: on April 9, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Harman said she does not doubt that Iran is a threat...""...the PR campaign for an air strike against Iran is clearly moving into high gear."

Very sad. Very disturbing. Bush is going to make a move before the November 2006 elections. To secure his legacy. To save Iran. To prevent his censure. Perhaps his impeachment. Bush is clearly insane. Delusional. A major defeat of US forces in Iraq may educate the nation to what war really means and what we have wrought, and it may very well come to pass with a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities (or any other strategic assets). Iran can muster an army larger than ours and it could be allied with Iraq's Shiite malitias and they could deliver a defeat to the US military. Although the Iranian democracy is quite limited by US and Western European standards, a limited democracy it is; certainly a more representative democracy than Pakistan, for instance. If Bush should use military force against Iran with Democratic Party approval, then it should be our democracy that is questioned as legitimate. Our purpose for being in Iraq already is.

Posted by: Hostile on April 9, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

malitias, not buenolitias.

Posted by: Hostile on April 9, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that Iran is the greatest threat to the U.S. (as Condoleeza Rice states) is as ridiculous as the idea that Iraq was the greatest threat in 2002. The only credible threat to the U.S. at the moment would come from Russia or China, both of which have, respectively, thousands and hundreds of nuclear weapons along with vehicles to launch them at the American mainland and substantial ground forces to back up any such attack. An attack by any other nation would be pointless and suicidal. There are obvious reasons that neither Russia nor China want to start a 3rd world war, but watching a lunatic American president pre-emptivly dropping "tactical" nuclear bombs in an attempt to reshape the middle east might be reason enough to rethink their options.

Posted by: Mike on April 9, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

I think Craig makes a lot of sense. It seems
we are on the verge of having a Cuban Missile
Crisis scenario in reverse where the military
is against using nuclear weapons while the President is for using them. Totally insane!
We are entering a very dangerous and uncertain
time in our history if these reports about Bush's
plans for Iran are true. The GOP has its back up
against the wall with almost non-stop revelations
on how it has bamboozeled this country in its
thirst for absolute power. They can read the
handwriting on the wall and none of it is good.
This could be a desperate attempt to reverse their failing fortunes. But it isn't going to work. One would hope that finally enough people
will start to realize how badly they have been
used by this administration and then turn on it
before it is too late. And something else.
If the military leaders refuse to obey direct
orders to bomb Iran with nuclear weapons, what happens to the civilian control of the military?
What happens to a lot of our cherished notions on
how a republic is supposed to operate? Are we
closer to "Seven Days in May" than we realize?
I hope cooler and saner heads will prevail in the
end and a constitutional crisis can be averted.
At least let's hope so.
Where is Merkin Muffley when you need him?

Posted by: anthony v. cuccia on April 9, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

I think Craig makes a lot of sense. It seems
we are on the verge of having a Cuban Missile
Crisis scenario in reverse where the military
is against using nuclear weapons while the President is for using them. Totally insane!
We are entering a very dangerous and uncertain
time in our history if these reports about Bush's
plans for Iran are true. The GOP has its back up
against the wall with almost non-stop revelations
on how it has bamboozeled this country in its
thirst for absolute power. They can read the
handwriting on the wall and none of it is good.
This could be a desperate attempt to reverse their failing fortunes. But it isn't going to work. One would hope that finally enough people
will start to realize how badly they have been
used by this administration and then turn on it
before it is too late. And something else.
If the military leaders refuse to obey direct
orders to bomb Iran with nuclear weapons, what happens to the civilian control of the military?
What happens to a lot of our cherished notions on
how a republic is supposed to operate? Are we
closer to "Seven Days in May" than we realize?
I hope cooler and saner heads will prevail in the
end and a constitutional crisis can be averted.
At least let's hope so.
Where is Merkin Muffley when you need him?

Posted by: anthony v. cuccia on April 9, 2006 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK


Brilliant. Bush must now preempt or prevent or pretext threats that may not become real until subsequent presidencies because he cannot depend upon his successors to deal with them. Cuts down on the need for future military coups in Washington, I guess.


Posted by: Ross Best on April 9, 2006 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this obviously depends on what generals Rove and Cheney will think: will it help the midterms or not? Is it a useful wedge or not? I mean we can forget a realistic assessment of the "facts on the ground", reality is where irrelevant stuff happens. The base is what counts here.

Posted by: jonathan on April 9, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Since a strike on Iran is in the air, just maybe Hersh is willing to risk his cred to help head it off. The point is, we all believe it's possible and there are nuts out there, not just in the administration who think it's a good idea.

Crazy.

For 50 years the US was the LEADER of the Western world, ultimately deferred to by all like minded peoples. We used completely different strategies and successfully survived a far greater threat to our own and the world's survival. Until '01 it was seen as the greatest but mainly benevolent power in the world.

Bush not only threw all his campaign rhetoric out the White House windows, he turned his back on the people as a whole and snubbed the world. Most importantly, he threw out all the experience, knowledge and lessons learned for an untested ideology pushed by the neocons that already stands discredited except by some bank accounts.

This administration is doing its best to back Iran into a corner. If they were willing to negotiate nukes away before, they sure aren't now. If I were them, I'd be going all out in securing research and production, and shortening the time until I have nukes in my hand.

In the wider debate, since GW has done his best to destabilize the world, particularly the Middle East, and make Islamic states paranoid, why wouldn't the outcome of this instability, not to say the erratic behavior of the US, be that more states build/buy nukes? As Israel would attest, it's a relatively cheap way to deterrent defence.

Just like Bush, many in the US think the world doesn't matter, we can exist in some vacuum. If the US uses tactical nukes in Iran, there will be many in the world who will call him a war criminal. As it is, even without nukes, he will be the same. For some, he and Blair are already. Also, the whole Middle East and southern ex-Soviet states will become part of a wide turmoil, oil and gold will go through the roof. The dollar down, interest rates up? The only people making money wil be GW's buddies off the back of the taxpayer.

Start with the first question. Is there any reason that Iran shouldn't hold nukes--beyond the fact that it is better for the world the fewer there are?

Buford is right. This crew is as crazy as Hitler and already darkening the world. And does GW REALLY believe God talks to him?

Posted by: notthere on April 9, 2006 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you what, by God: if the anti-Bush Left starts trying to morally inculpate this Administration and our military in the face of our national obligation to keep Iran from going nuclear, you will know what a seditious bunch of vermin they truly are. Do the Dhimmicrats simply not have the character to share in the responsibility of responding to Iran?

Way to work in all the wingnutisms, Toby.

'Dhimmicrats'? Check.

Conflating opposition to Bush with hatred of the troops? Check.

Blowing up a foreign threat out of all sense of proportion? Check.

'It's a question of character'? Check.

Accusation of treason? Check.

Characterizing the political opposition as sub-human? Check.

Sub-humanity expressed as 'rats' or 'vermin'? Check.

Toby, you get the prize - an all-expenses paid trip to Wankerville!

Posted by: Demogenes Aristophanes on April 9, 2006 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

This administration is doing its best to back Iran into a corner. If they were willing to negotiate nukes away before, they sure aren't now. If I were them, I'd be going all out in securing research and production, and shortening the time until I have nukes in my hand.

This is just it, notthere. Iraq taught the Irans of the world that it doesn't matter if you let inspectors in, doesn't matter if you even have the weapons or programs the U.S. accuses you of having ... we'll still strike regardless.

Thus, if they're rational, they will think that they might as well go ahead and get those weapons and become a thorny problem like North Korea that the U.S. can't attack.

And this is where the other shoe ought to drop for everybody - including the wingnuts. Whether or not you think Iran is a huge threat ... Bush & Co. have shown themselves to be very, very, very bad at dealing with such threats. In fact, their actions have accelerated the development of such threats.

In short, the Bush Doctrine doesn't work. Even if you believe the world to be a sheet-clingingly dangerous place - hell, especially if you believe the world to be a sheet-clingingly dangerous place - you ought to be calling for that doctrine to be shitcanned immediately.

Posted by: Demogenes Aristophanes on April 9, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Demogenes.

I get carried away. Go on too long.

But these guys are not only against science, they're also against facts, evidence, experience, or adjustment, let alone changing the bath water.

What happened to war-gaming? These guys are incapable of playing chess but they play (my choice) with lives every day.

Posted by: notthere on April 9, 2006 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

"First we got the bomb, and that was good
'cause we love peace and motherhood..."

Iran and Iraq are closely connected here in two important ways:

1) Right now: if we attack Iran, as the guy Hersh quotes says, southeastern Iraq will light up like a candle. We're fighting a slo-mo losing battle against the Sunni insurgency as it is; if we get the Shi'ites mad at us, it'll be time to have those helicopters ready to evacuate the Green Zone.

We'll lose Iraq, and we'll lose most of our residual support in the Middle East as well. BIG strategic blunder. And it'll only be a temporary setback for Iran, too.

2) Three years ago: our invasion of Iraq made explicit Iran's and North Korea's need for nukes. We created an environment where any country that the U.S. regards as hostile will want nukes if they can get 'em.

No matter what else was or wasn't true about the justifications for invading Iraq, this alone makes our invasion of Iraq the U.S.' biggest strategic blunder of the nuclear era.

Posted by: RT on April 9, 2006 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like End Times are near, brought to you by the anti-Christ and Maniac-in-Chief, George W. Bush. Get your personal affairs in order, people.

Posted by: Doofus on April 9, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

For more to worry about, see this story in the post , in which some sources explain how this is all a part of the president's strategy of coercive diplomacy, keeping the pressure on, etc. Isn't there a saying about fool me twice?

Posted by: roger on April 9, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

There's a clip over on Crooks and Liars where Scott Ritter discusses Iran and the Bomb. It's Must See TV. Essentially, he says, that its widely acknowledged that Iran isn't in spitting distance (my term) of getting a bomb. That there's no real danger of them getting withing spitting distance of getting a bomb. And that the actual things that Iran is currently doing are completely within the non-proliferation treaty.

So, far it's been Ritter:5000 and Bush+Right Wing: 0 insofar as truth-telling goes.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 9, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon

Baby-nukes... Yep, I can certainly see the Bush administration considering this as an option.

On the bright side, if they do it then Bush's poll numbers will probably dip into the teens or maybe even single digits. Hey, you gotta take your silver lining where you find it.

Posted by: E. Nonee Moose on April 9, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: "so how stupid do you have to be to take them on their word when they are saying all the same things about Iran?"

That was one of the silliest things that tbrosz has ever written, and that's saying a lot. Yeah, an official spokesperson for the Bush administration (for any administration, for that matter) couldn't possibly be lying and must always tell the complete and honest truth. Please.... And tbrosz expects us to take him seriously??

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Toby Petzold, rather idiotically, wrote: "Do you people think you've immunized yourselves somehow against the touch of your own moral duty"

Gee, Toby, just what is that "moral duty" and who gets to define it? Personally, I evaluate and define such things for myself, without letting anyone else do it for me, but I'm just weird that way. Funny how that works.

Sheesh...can we get some smarter monkeys?

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida wrote: "Saying that the intelligence on Iran is 'uncertain' really just means there isn't complete agreement on the extent of the mullahs' progress on acquiring nuclear weapons."

No, actually, it means precisely what it says -- that the intelligence on Iran is uncertain, which it is.

"That the effort is underway isn't in doubt -- on this point there is unanimity among western intelligence agencies."

Well, no, not really. The point is that nobody knows for sure, which leaves the Bush administration free to paint worst-case scenarios and push them as probable and with the caveats and disclaimers removed, just as it did with Iraq. To pretend that there is any certainty or consensus on anything in these matters is simply foolish.

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I don't believe Iran was a threat before Iraq.
The possibility that their program was accelerated because of American threats is plausible : that it will progress to any usable form before Bush strikes nil : simply because he will not wait for opposition to mount but will call for instant unreasonable concessions ( and elections are coming : way to deal with the wrong crisis ).
Iran may or may not be a danger. What is clear is that a nuclear assassin with his finger on the button is all too likely : despite his illusions he sure as hell isn't one of the good guys.
Bush may not have absolute power. That said, he has enough to do more damage than the world will be comfortable sustaining.
This reminds one of the old Arab curse : " May you live in interesting times ".

Posted by: opit on April 9, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

how would one go about delivering 700 tons of explosive???

On a freighter. Can you say "Dubai Ports World"?

Just kidding.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Loved the Hersh piece. Except for the ridiculous "tactical nukes" speculation, which will never happen.

We should, however, bomb Iran's nuke facilities, just in case. And it is nice to see the admin at least planning seriously. Also good to hear they've got people inside talking to the Kurds Azeris etc. (Or is that just unsubstantiated rumor too? I hope not.)

As for the "if now now, when? if not Bush who?" discussion:

All presidents start with a bit of goodwill at home and, crucially in this context, internationally. Bush started with less than usual (basically due to the Texas twang). But no matter how much he started with, he has blown it all now. If difficult-to-explain-and-justify things have to be done now, why shouldn't Bush take one for the team and ruin his already nonexistent international political capital? Then John McCain can start with a clean slate.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

There was a hilarious part of the Hersh piece, though. One of his anonymous nitwits is fretting: What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?

Uh, how about they will think exactly what they thought the day we attacked Iraq?

So what?

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds one of the old Arab curse : " May you live in interesting times ".

That one is Chinese, honeybunch. Arabs have pretty much always lived in interesting times.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

We should, however, bomb Iran's nuke facilities, just in case.

I think I will go ahead and kill you, just in case. You might not ever have attacked me, but then again you might have, so better safe than sorry.

If difficult-to-explain-and-justify things have to be done now,

Have you considered the possibility that bombing Iran is difficult to justify because it is fucking insane?

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK


When you say that Jane Harmon is sober and hawkish, you imply that Democrats who are not hawkish are something other than sober. You imply that by being hawkish, her views on Iran are somehow more credible. But there is no evidence for this. The fact that she has attended "briefings" is not much help either given what we know now.

The people who are making a case for Iran as a threat are, based on mountains of available evidence and track record, simply not to be trusted. Sy Hersh, on the other hand, has a pretty good track record.

You MUST stop using these kinds of rhetorical devices in an attempt to establish your own "reasonableness". It isn't reasonable anymore.

Posted by: Ba'al on April 9, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Angry lefties. So cute.

My point was, of course, that we can easily set back their nukes program by years if not decades. And there is no need to use nuclear weapons to do so. That's just a red herring.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Uh, how about they will think exactly what they thought the day we attacked Iraq? So what?

So you are determined to liberate the Muslims, even if they fight us every step of the way. You incoherent nitwit. Has it occurred to you that if they say they hate you because you have invaded them, and they are shooting at you, and killing themselves to blow you up, perhaps you aren't liberating them?

The day after 9/11, liberals asked: why do they hate us? Conservatives said: what the hell, let's give 'em a reason. And now, indeed, we know why they hate us.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Who said anything about liberating, brookie? I didn't. I said specifically I don't care what they think.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

This line in your post, though, is unintentionally funny:

"The day after 9/11, liberals asked: why do they hate us?"

Brings back memories...

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I can't get over the stupidity of that "who cares?" line about what the world's 1.2 billion Muslims thinks of the US. So maybe they'll grow to hate us so much that they hijack some airliners and fly them into the WTC, killing 3000 Americans - but, you know, who cares? Maybe they'll grow to hate us so much that no American will be able to travel safely anymore in the Gulf, North Africa or Muslim Southeast Asia - but, you know, who cares? Maybe they'll grow to hate us so much that any Arab government friendly to us will topple and be replaced by radically anti-American populists like Hugo Chavez who use the oil weapon against us - but, you know, who cares?

Obnoxiousness by itself is a terrible quality, but when paired with stupidity, ignorance, and a propensity for violence, it becomes really sick.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

y not nuke iran fellas? theyve been in war with the usa like forever and think were the great satan? so lets show them who the real satan is eieieiei

Posted by: lydia on April 9, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Who said anything about liberating, brookie? I didn't. I said specifically I don't care what they think.

Oh, okay. So you were in favor of invading Iraq because of Saddam's nonexistent nukes, not because of any interest in bettering the lives of Iraqis. In fact, you would have preferred that we simply kill them all, as that would have been safer.

What has your justification for the Iraq invasion become in the 2.5 years since David Kay finally proved that Hussein was a powerless weakling without any WMD? Since you don't care about Iraqi democracy. And what is your justification for remaining in Iraq today, since you don't care about liberating Iraqis?

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Obnoxiousness by itself is a terrible quality, but when paired with stupidity, ignorance, and a propensity for violence, it becomes really sick."

Propensity for violence, huh. This from the exact same guy who a few posts above threatened to kill someone for disagreeing with him. On a silly web message board.

No comment necessary.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

This line in your post, though, is unintentionally funny:

No, it's not funny, and your attempt to ironize it is obvious and dull. You have a poor sense of humor, in addition to your other fine qualities.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

This one is a Comic Gem, too:

"What has your justification for the Iraq invasion become in the 2.5 years since David Kay finally proved that Hussein was a powerless weakling without any WMD?"

See the way this works is: FIRST the invasion happened. SECOND the Kay report came out.

There's no need to "justify" anything that has already happened. You only do it (in fact it only matters) before the fact. Afterwards, why bother?

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

The views of peanut are exactly the views of the white house; you can attack anyone you want with impunity.

This is because our military is in fine shape under the wise command of Donald Rumsfeld, and we have the world's most competent people in charge of intelligence and homeland security. Also this unifying hypothesis of neoconservative global strategy is consistent with the precedents of previous human history and normal psychology. Also, the success of prewar planning in Iraq should calm all of us. Simply put, there have been no unintended consequences there.

Simple, isn't it?

Like most insanity.

Posted by: Ba'al on April 9, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

"We should, however, bomb Iran's nuke facilities, just in case. And it is nice to see the admin at least planning seriously."

Must be a new and unfamiliar use of the word "seriously."

"All presidents start with a bit of goodwill at home and, crucially in this context, internationally. Bush started with less than usual (basically due to the Texas twang)."

BWAHAHAHA!!! No, basically due to the fact that he was widely and correctly perceived as a clueless peanut-brain who broke everything he touched.

"Uh, how about they will think exactly what they thought the day we attacked Iraq?"

heh.

And that's working out well, isn't it? Not.

The fact that we are even discussing Iran is evidence that the neocon theory of the Iraq invasion has failed. The fact that you think otherwise is evidence that you are clueless.

Posted by: Joel on April 9, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

This from the exact same guy who a few posts above threatened to kill someone for disagreeing with him.

You lack the capacity for analogy. I will not explain the post to you. It was not a threat. Go back, read it again, and if you fail to understand it, give yourself a D and go become an engineer, where your literalmindedness may prove of some use.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

There's no need to "justify" anything that has already happened.

Okay, we're done with this guy.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Well, perhaps the lesson to the Muslim world is that if you put a total idiot in power who wants to Genocide a smaller race. It does limit your ability to whine about what your enemies want to do to you.

Posted by: mca on April 9, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

As for planning, this from the Hersh piece looks pretty good:

Working from satellite photographs of the known facilities, Gardiner estimated that at least four hundred targets would have to be hit. He added:

I dont think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical-production plants. We would hit those. We would want to hit the medium-range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq. There are fourteen airfields with sheltered aircraft. . . . Wed want to get rid of that threat. We would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise-missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines. . . . Some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

if you put a total idiot in power

You know what I'm going to say, so I won't bother.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

It will pay to read Hersh's article carefully.

What is planned is not a strike, but a bombing campaign, that will start with 400 bombings, and then develop into a continued campaign destroying infrastructure and another campaign responding to the Iranian defenses that reveal themselves.

The so-called 'strike' will not be a surgical single explosion, but a widely dispersed carpet bombing that will kill tens of thousands in the initial phases.

You may as well pause to admire the majesty of the moment- this may be the big one, the point at which the U.S. bites off more than we can chew.

Lucky for us there is no "we" about it. With Bush getting into office by two stolen elections, a Congress bought and paid for by the military-industrial complex, and the subsequent perversion of our form of government, the American people are not to blame.

It's true, none of us should have ever believed anything Bush told us, but most of us did the best we could with the intellectual tools God gave us.

This would probably be a good time to start building that stockpile of things you'd like to eat, if the stores and gas stations were closed for two weeks.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 9, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

As for planning, this from the Hersh piece looks pretty good:

Someone who is planning on taking a flying leap off the Empire State Building is bragging about having precisely calculated the best spot to jump from.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Propensity for violence, huh. This from the exact same guy who a few posts above threatened to kill someone for disagreeing with him. On a silly web message board.

Wow that's lame even for someone vying for the coveted Chuckles award in the category of Toxic Mischaracterization of Analogy. Not even close. Listen, kid, you've got a lot of stiff competition in this category, and there are some real pros at it on this board. If you want to get the votes of the Academy you've got to show a little more knee and a lot less jerk.

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on April 9, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

" . . . the point at which the U.S. bites off more than we can chew."

That's already happened in Iraq.

bin Laden was right. The US is self-destructing. All he has to do is sit and wait while the Bush Administration tears the country apart for him.

Tragic.

Posted by: Joel on April 9, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Loved the Hersh piece. Except for the ridiculous "tactical nukes" speculation, which will never happen.

The idea of tactical nuclear weapons, unfortunately, isn't from Hersh's imagination. The Bush administration pushed the idea early in its administration and received funding for research on nuclear "bunker busters" in 2002. Obviously, Bush thought it would be a good idea to use such weapons and he specifically mentioned terrorists and the "Axis of Evil". So I'm not so confident that Bush would rule the option out.

Posted by: Mike on April 9, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

On a silly web message board.

I wonder how many policy wonks pour over every syllable on a daily basis?

Posted by: Neo the commissar on April 9, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

"The Bush administration pushed the idea early in its administration and received funding for research on nuclear "bunker busters" in 2002. Obviously, Bush thought it would be a good idea to use such weapons"

Does not follow. Admins have funded research on all kinds of nukes since the 50s. Doesn't mean any one of them thought it would be a good idea to use them.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why bother to answer peanut. Anybody dumb enough to say "you're cute when you mad" is not a serious person. And certainly not anybody who's dared to be in a serious fight.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 9, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many policy wonks pour over every syllable on a daily basis?

Sigh.

The funny thing is Neo probably thinks that's true.

We're just bullshitting here, guys. Nobody cares.

I'm out.

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

OK, one more just for fun. You guys are too funny. Especially you, little old jen. Heheheh - I mean you ARE cute when you get angry.

You really are.

Mmmmmwah.

bye kiddies

Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Peanut you make me laugh if I was a pollster or someone selling "What America thinks" it's right here center left versus the wingnuts. Lots of really great insights and thoughts and for free.

Posted by: Neo the commissar on April 9, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

you ARE cute when you get angry.

I think peanut may be another DHS employee out trolling for underage sex.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 9, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Except for the ridiculous "tactical nukes" speculation, which will never happen.

If they are serious about taking out Iran's nuke capability, and Iran's centrifuges are buried under 50 feet of reinforced concrete, then I'm note sure we have many conventional options.

This upcoming test in Nevada - 700 tons - is to evaluate whether that amount of force can penetrate those types of bunkers. But because you can't deliver 700 tons conventionally, it must be a simulated tactical nuke test.

If you think about it, even a conventional bomb on the centrifuges would release radioactive fallout. So, putting the political ramifications aside, it almost makes no difference what type of bomb we use.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 9, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Jane Harman is a generally hawkish and fairly sober Democrat..."

Jane Harman is a *very* hawkish (6 of her to 7 campaign contributors are defense contractors) and quite *conservative* Democrat (she's a member of the Blue Dog Caucus... one of the few members of the caucus who does not reside in the Deep South).

Jane Harman is my congressperson. I live in Venice, CA. I would like the pro-war, pro-Patriot Act, pro-warrantless-spying Jane Harman to no longer be my congressperson, and so would many of my neighbors here in Venice, CA. Won't you please help us replace this pseudo-Democrat (who has described herself as "the best Republican in the Democratic Party") with a *real* Democrat: Marcy Winograd. The primary occurs on June 6th.

Please help us.

www.winogradforcongress.com

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

P.S.: Kevin, please oh please stop with the notion that because someone is conservative, that makes her "sober," thus silently asserting the converse inference that if someone else is progressive, they're ipso facto un-serious or unstable. "Sober" Dems such as Harman (and, ahem, *you*) were what made this Iraq War possible. To hell with that kind of sobriety.

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on April 9, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK


" you can't deliver 700 tons conventionally"

Actually, you can get pretty close:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2125207,00.html

The Sunday Times understands that a strike with a conventional weapon is much more likely. By 2008 a new bunker-busting missile called the Big Blu should be available to the US air force. The 30,000lb behemoth is being designed for dispatch by the B-series stealth bombers and can penetrate 100ft under the ground before exploding.

Trident ballistic missiles, newly converted to carry conventional warheads, may also be on hand by 2008, providing Bush with further options.

Posted by: clock on April 9, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

" you can't deliver 700 tons conventionally"

Actually, you can get pretty close:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2125207,00.html

The Sunday Times understands that a strike with a conventional weapon is much more likely. By 2008 a new bunker-busting missile called the Big Blu should be available to the US air force. The 30,000lb behemoth is being designed for dispatch by the B-series stealth bombers and can penetrate 100ft under the ground before exploding.

Trident ballistic missiles, newly converted to carry conventional warheads, may also be on hand by 2008, providing Bush with further options.

Posted by: clock on April 9, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

30,000lb = 15 tons

Even allowing for materials like RDX, it is not 'pretty close' to 700 tons.

Now maybe Big Blu would be sufficient, but it would have to be delivered by plane - a Trident can't carry 15 tons.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 9, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush is fucking insane."
Posted by: kc on April 8, 2006 at 5:51 PM


Where is Slim Pickens (to ride the ICBM down to Iran) when you need him?

By now, since W hasn't been impeached and thrown out, a casual observer must conclude this is precisely the foreign policy the American public has wanted, eh? Maybe Americans are crazy too.

Posted by: MarkH on April 9, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Good point, tinfoil. However, if 30,000 tons explodes at 100ft below the ground, those centrifuges are going to need a bit of a recalibration, no?

If you read the ST article, you will see that the Trident and the Blu weapons are two separate programs.

Posted by: clock on April 9, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you're a speculator, you hate stability. You make money when things are in flux. Perhaps the oil price is still too low or the Pentagon isn't buying enough weapons systems? But then, there's always the natural gas angle. Hmmm...

Must. Implement. Neocon. Agenda.

Posted by: kostya on April 9, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I have read the Hersh article and listened to him talk to Wolf Blitzer. It appears that the tactical nuke strike was one of the options given Bush. The pentagon fully expected him to take the nuke option off the table. He has refused to give them a notice to take the nuke option off the table. If he doesn't several top pentagon officials have threatened to resign. If you read of a bunch of top military men leaving the pentagon early, I think we have to assume Iran is going to be visited by the nuclear genie. Then the world will go to hell.

As Snow has said about the story a nuclear strike is insane. (Funny how we have to go to Britan to encounter a professional diplomat.) I gotta hunch a nuclear strike won't happen.

Notice, however, nobody has taken a conventional strike off the table. Also notice that we are all going "whew" when we hear the phrase conventional strike. At the end of the weekend the Hersh article makes a conventional strike more acceptable.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 9, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

This "peanut" character is coming off as stupider and more ignorant than I am. I am not going to stand for that! You have been warned. If you think my comments in the past have been idiotic right-wing drivel, just wait. I'll show this "peanut" a thing or two.

I just need to go listen to my tapes of Rush Limbaugh from last week, and see what Ann Coulter has posted on her website, and I'll be right back.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 9, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK


PATRICK MEIGHAN: P.S.: Kevin, please oh please stop with the notion that because someone is conservative, that makes her "sober," thus silently asserting the converse inference that if someone else is progressive, they're ipso facto un-serious or unstable. "Sober" Dems such as Harman (and, ahem, *you*) were what made this Iraq War possible. To hell with that kind of sobriety.

Good stuff there, Patrick. Although, I gotta admit they do drive me to drink sometimes.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 9, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

If you didn't think Bush was insane before, you will definitely believe it after reading the Hersh article. A president with "messianic" aspirations! The man is a friggan lunatic! Just please, I beg of you, vote Democrat in the Senate and House so that they can take over the majority and impeach this moron. The moderate Republicans are already jumping ship, so even a slim Democratic majority could be enough to get him and his gun-wielding VP out of office.

Posted by: PoliticalCritic on April 9, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

If you think about it, even a conventional bomb on the centrifuges would release radioactive fallout. So, putting the political ramifications aside, it almost makes no difference what type of bomb we use.

Just Uranium, nothing compared to what a nuke would create.

It's doubly insane to contemplate using a weapon you've never tested outside of computer simulations.

Posted by: Boronx on April 9, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Giant bunker busting bomb scheduled to be tested outside Vegas in early June. Odds of it having any large technical problem are probably pretty slim.

If it goes right into production, it could be ready by early October, I'd bet.

Posted by: cld on April 9, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody wake me up when we get to Pakistan.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on April 9, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

BTW,

Why should we believe one freaking word that comes from Bush or the rest of this administration?

Even if they weren't deliberately misleading about the threat, they are the last people we should trust to do anything about it.

We have an assclown parade for leadership in this country and they are going to get more people killed on their way to digging us deeper into a hole.

Incompetent isn't a strong enough word anymore.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on April 9, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is 0 for 2 in wars.

He hasn't been able to win in Afghanistan, the poorest nation on the planet when he attacked, or Iraq - a nation that had a total GNP of $52 billion, we've spent $500 billion on and no end in sight.

George Bush couldn't poor piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heal.

He'll fuck this up and us, for good.

Posted by: Bubbles on April 9, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's doubly insane to contemplate using a weapon you've never tested outside of computer simulations.

I've seen that argument before. I think the only reason we agreed to the test ban treaty was that we were pretty confident in our ability to do exactly that. Basically, the most complex parts can be tested without the physics package -
http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/nuke/test.htm

I'm not, btw, suggesting they are stupid enough to actually use a nuke - I think it is a red herring. But if you truly needed to 'take out' a large number of deeply bunkered sites almost simultaneously, I'm not sure you have many conventional options.


Posted by: tinfoil on April 9, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

He hasn't been able to win in Afghanistan, the poorest nation on the planet when he attacked, or Iraq - a nation that had a total GNP of $52 billion, we've spent $500 billion on and no end in sight.

Though the jury is still out on Iraq, there is no question but that we are winning in Afghanistan. The war aim was to overthrow the regime that gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda. This has been accomplished, and a democratically-elected government is in place in Kabul. The minimal contingent of western troops still in Afghanistan is there merely to protect this nascent democracy while it gradually restores order. This is not an easy or pleasant process, however, and therefore the cut and run caucus of the Democratic party characterizes it as a failure. What else is new?

Posted by: Franciso on April 9, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

He hasn't been able to win in Afghanistan, the poorest nation on the planet when he attacked, or Iraq - a nation that had a total GNP of $52 billion, we've spent $500 billion on and no end in sight.

Though the jury is still out on Iraq, there is no question but that we are winning in Afghanistan. The war aim was to overthrow the regime that gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda. This has been accomplished, and a democratically-elected government is in place in Kabul. The minimal contingent of western troops still in Afghanistan is there merely to protect this nascent democracy while it gradually restores order. This is not an easy or pleasant process, however, and therefore the cut and run caucus of the Democratic party characterizes it as a failure. What else is new?

Posted by: Franciso on April 9, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Fancisco, the jury is still out in afghanistan. the Gov in Kabul only controls about 50 square miles, war lords control vast areas, of which the Taliban are resurgent, and the production of opium is on the up swing. The only good news coming out of Afghanistan is that Nato is taking over, so perhaps we might get some competant administration there.

War is just theatre to these guys, rading the treasury is what its all about.

Posted by: Bubbles on April 9, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

the American people are not to blame.

I am sorry, but of course the American people are to blame. Democracy creates responsiblity for its citizens. Citizenship creates responsiblity for the individual. A majority voted for Bush. A majority within political jurisdictions voted for a majority Repulican Congress. Individuals can communicate their dislike of the war to their representatives and protest and strike and practice civil disobedience. Not many do. The soldiers and civil servants who enable the Bush administration to act out its its aggressive militancy also have a responsibility to themselves and the nation to disobey and officially question and prevent unethical orders from being executed. Not many do. Absolving the electorate of a democracy for the sins of its elected executives and legislators cannot be rationalized as having popular will usurped by a military coup or through totalitarian terror, when bad policy is popularized by dirty tricks and toadyism then validated on election day. No, we must take responsibility as citizens and absolve ourselves through political action to change and right the wrongs of the 2004 elections. Unfortunately, even if the opposition party wins, we are going to be stuck with almost the same bad policies unless US citizens stop allowing themselves to be persuaded their safety and comfort come from militant hegemony.

Posted by: Hostile on April 9, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say, this is the perfect nightmare. I wouldn't trust Golden Boy with a cap gun, but, then, I'd trust Ahmadinejad just as much. It seems we're trapped with having these two idiots attack each other, no matter what.

There was the recent story of a large conventional bunker busting bomb scheduled to be tested outside Las Vegas in the first part of June. If that goes into production immediately, it could be ready for use by October, so having the nuclear option on the table is surely intended as a bluff, to make the Iranians think about it. But the Iranians will only see it as a bluff, and only think about it as a bluff, and, inevitably, call it.

So, though intended as a bluff, that was intended as a prelude to a conventional strike, so that he could look both restrained and brutal, in October, this not taking his big mouth seriously might be too much for The Great Leader. The inevitable outcome will be the whole Iranian terrorist apparatus focused against us, and, I'm sure they have all sorts of plans for just such an opportunity.

Posted by: cld on April 9, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK


HOSTILE: I am sorry, but of course the American people are to blame.

We are not to blame. But you make good points, Hostile. Yes, the American people do bear some responsibility. But you have discounted the extent of this crowd's dishonesty, even as you attach too much credence to our democracy--too much democracy.

Corporate interests don't merely control the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, they also control the press. And they control the schools, where young minds are indoctrinated in concert with the media to worship capitalism. Likewise, workers are trained to give loyalty to their employers, even as they receive none in return.

All of this affects the mindset of voters. What's more, even if, unlike me, you don't believe both of the last two presidential elections were stolen by any number of means, you have to see how various devious methods are used to discourage and prevent people from voting against the corporatists' interests.

Finally, even when Democrats are successful, being products of the system described above, they are often little different than their Republican counterparts. You could count on one hand the number of Democrats in Congress who actually believe that each citizen should have an equal say in how the country is run.

The system is corrupt. Less corrupt with Democrats, but corrupt all the same. When there are only criminals to choose from, and when someone who is not a criminal stands no chance of being elected--or, should he be elected, of staying non-criminal if he wants to stay in office--then there is no possibility that the public at large will be served.

But using your claim of public responsibility, if the case is that citizens cannot change the system at the ballot box, their only alternative becomes one of revolt. Before undertaking such a drastic and dangerous endeavor, people will feel a duty to endure much injustice, lest they doubt their own righteousness and patriotism. It's during that period that we find ourselves. Everyone is hoping we can right this wrong. Many are still denying it. Who wants to be tried for treason?

Responsible? Yes, but only to a point. If I'm careless and I'm mugged, I share some responsibility. But I am not to blame. Likewise, the American people are not to blame for what has befallen this country. We are victims. We just don't have anyone to call to lock up the criminals.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 9, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, jayarbee.

Posted by: cld on April 9, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

There was the recent story of a large conventional bunker busting bomb scheduled to be tested outside Las Vegas in the first part of June.

Again - this test is using conventional materials, but it involves trucking in and burying 700 tons of explosives. This is not a practical delivery mechanism for a weapon. So this is essentially a test of the destructive impact of a small yield tactical nuke.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 9, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Francisco wrote: "Though the jury is still out on Iraq, there is no question but that we are winning in Afghanistan."

Sorry, but this is flatly incorrect. We are in damn near as much trouble in Afghanistan as we are in Iraq:

- Our hand-picked leader of the country controls little more than Kabul and still needs U.S. troops to protect him, last time I checked.

- The Taliban is resurgent in the south and the various warlords and drug lords control the rest of the country.

- The drug trade is bringing in as much as 50% of the country's overall GDP and the drug lords and warlords (usually one and the same) are openly boasting that they control the political and security systems in various towns and communities all across Afghanistan. Abdul Karim Brahowie, Afghanistan's minister of tribal and frontier affairs, quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, has said that the government has become so full of drug smugglers that cabinet meetings have become a farce.

- Unemployment is still high, estimated at 40%, and significant development and foreign investment, particularly outside Kabul, is pretty much non-existent, as is security.

- Do I really have to remind you about the Afghan man who was prosecuted and nearly put to death for converting to Christianity?

- Suicide bombings, previously rare in Afghanistan, are on the rise, with a corresponding risk of destabilization and sectarian warfare, just as is the case in Iraq today.

- The security situation in Afghanistan isn't stabilizing, it's deteriorating, according to quite a few sources.

By what standard are we "winning" in Afghanistan?

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Agck, reading too fast again.

Posted by: cld on April 9, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

By what standard are we "winning" in Afghanistan?

Paul B: By the most reasonable standard: that of war aims.

Posted by: Francisco on April 9, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

I see that you are unable to rebut the points I made, which leaves you no alternative other than to mindlessly regurgitate your talking points of the day. Nice chatting with you. Feel free to come back when you've got something to say other than jingoistic nonsense, won't you?

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

"P.B. Almeida wrote: "Saying that the intelligence on Iran is 'uncertain' really just means there isn't complete agreement on the extent of the mullahs' progress on acquiring nuclear weapons."

No, actually, it means precisely what it says -- that the intelligence on Iran is uncertain, which it is.

"That the effort is underway isn't in doubt -- on this point there is unanimity among western intelligence agencies."

Well, no, not really. The point is that nobody knows for sure, which leaves the Bush administration free to paint worst-case scenarios and push them as probable and with the caveats and disclaimers removed, just as it did with Iraq. To pretend that there is any certainty or consensus on anything in these matters is simply foolish."

Posted by: PaulB on April 9, 2006 at 9:50 AM

So good I felt it needed repeating. As I am sure PaulB and others here know I have stated from the outset that it was the abuse of the nuclear fear card which gave Bush this war and that this card had been debunked before the war started, IF you were willing to actually look for it. The aluminum tubes were known to be in doubt prior to invasion thanks to Knight Ridder, three weeks after the Sept 7 2002 claim by Bush/Blair at Camp David of Iraq being six months to a nuke according to the IAEA this was shown to be flatly false since no such report had ever been written by the IAEA, and there was doubt over the Niger/Africa uranium acquisition attempts by Iraq as well. In other words the entire case was never actually solid even before the war started, but the momentum put in place by the Bush WH and the GOP for the midterms combined with the deference still left to Bush from 9/11/01 in the press caused a de facto blind spot to develop and be exploited by the Bush WH.

I have always been able to date exactly when my concerns about this war became rooted in a firm conviction this was not what was being claimed, and it was the IAEA report being proven to be nonexistent. I watched that news conference live when it happened, I knew from that exactly how this was portrayed as a real and serious matter by both men, and being someone that was actually born and grew to adulthood with the specter of total thermonuclear war hanging over me I take nukes VERY seriously indeed. As I expect most everyone that grew up in the age of impending nuclear destruction of the planet.

Nukes were why the term "WMD" was used instead of being more specific or using an alternate acronym, NBC, Nuclear Biological, Chemical. However in reality current bio and chem weapons are at worst weapons of mass death, only nukes or something like a FAE are truly weapons of mass destruction. The fear of nuclear weapons in the wrong hands is the worst fear of most every person in the western world at the absolute minimum and this was not exactly a secret when Bushco played on it to sell the need for an immediate attack on Iraq. This Administration has shown its contempt for the fears of human beings regarding nuclear weapons, and it is hard to come up with a more psychologically terrorizing threat claim short of impending threat of facing genocide than impending nuclear attack.

This Administration has lost any moral credibility where evaluating the nuclear threat out there, or for that matter even being concerned about it since it is his actions that have led to the threat becoming far more real. Before the Iraq war I would not have said Iran had any viable reason as a nation to develop a nuclear weapon for its security, but thanks to the new improved preemption doctrine of GWB against those WITHOUT nuclear weapons they do now. We already know that North Korea went and turned its plutonium into warheads on Bush's watch and they are now immune from serious threat until and unless they start it first militarily.

So now we have Bushco saying about Iran the same thing they said about Iraq, although granted at least Iran actually does have a nuclear energy program in existence unlike Iraq. We see articles like this one from Hersh regarding the unwillingness of the military option of a nuclear strike being removed from consideration despite the reality of if such were ever to actually happen it would have consequences to make the fallout from Iraq look like Grenada.

What is really worrisome though is that with this President in the serious trouble he has gotten himself into is that he might just do it. After all his history suggests that when in trouble or doubt the best thing for him is to risk so big it can't help but work out for him, and unfortunately his experiences of the last five years gives him reason to believe in it, especially given the sheltered reality he lives in. I can accept the notion that he thinks it is a good idea or a necessary evil to protect his country, but as has been brutally been clear from the Iraq debacle among many others is that his beliefs and reality rarely have any connection to each other. So I am going to take what Hersh wrote at face value to the extent that I plan on watching for any atypical military resignations at the senior levels over the next eight months.

Bush is in a desperate situation, both politically short term and in regards to having any positive let alone transformatively positive legacy as President for all his boldness. He may well see Iran as necessary and that whatever the negatives from bombing them, even with nukes, is less than allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon's capacity. If he genuinely believes this I have no trouble seeing him doing it over the objections of the more rational members of his government. This is something that under any other President of the last thirty years I would treat with extreme skepticism and disbelief. Not with this one. Not after all the other lies about nuclear threats and the willingness to exploit that fear on the heels of the 9/11/01 tragedy Bush has clearly demonstrated already.

Posted by: Scotian on April 9, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

He's exactly like the president in Stephen King's The Dead Zone, "The missiles are flying, gentlemen. The missiles are flying."

Posted by: cld on April 9, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

peanut sez:
There's no need to "justify" anything that has already happened. You only do it (in fact it only matters) before the fact. Afterwards, why bother?
Posted by: peanut on April 9, 2006 at 11:41 AM

Excellent analysis! The next time your five-year-old raids the cookies, or your wife cheats on you, I expect that you'll find no reason to ask "why" because justifications need only take place before the fact.

Francisco:
While we may have won the military conflict in Afghanistan four years ago, winning implies an ongoing process (as in "we won the battles, but are we winning the war?"). In that regard, the conflict is far from settled, as members of the Taliban control more of Afghanistan's territory than do the central government and others sympathetic to the U.S. If you feel that that imbalance is now being lessened, after a couple of years of increasing, I'd like to see your sources.

Posted by: keith on April 10, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Hersh is almost completely unreliable, but I suppose he's entertaining, which is why the New Yorker is still paying him. He basically writes National Enquirer-type stories - take a thread of truth and spin it into fantasy - "aliens take baby from stroller" - There's always a market for that kind of stuff, I guess.

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