Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 10, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BOMBING IRAN....I think a number of people are missing the point about the latest spate of articles suggesting that George Bush has plans for an air strike against Iran. The United States military has contingency plans for everything, they say, so it's hardly a surprise that the military has contingency plans for Iran. William Arkin even tells us their names: CONPLAN 8022 and CONPLAN 1025.

But what's important isn't the existence of the contingency plans. Rather, it's the fairly obvious fact that the Bush administration is publicizing them as part of a very public PR campaign in favor of a strike against Iran. The problem is that even if this is a bluff, it's one that has a profound effect on both Iran and the American public. As James Fallows says:

By giving public warnings, the United States and Israel create excess demand for military action, as our war-game leader Sam Gardiner recently put it, and constrain their own negotiating choices.

In other words, if the PR campaign is too successful, then Bush will have boxed himself in. Eventually he'll feel obligated to bomb Iran solely because he's now under pressure to make good on his threats and doesn't want to look like he's backing down. World Wars have started over less.

Who knows? A subtle and well orchestrated game of chicken might be appropriate here. But please raise your hands if you trust this crew to play a subtle and well orchestrated game of anything.

Kevin Drum 1:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (108)

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Comments

But think of the reconstruction contracts!

Bombs away!

Posted by: craigie on April 10, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is the same motive that people with some expectation of sanity ascribed to Bush & co. in the runup to Iraq - the idea that they're talking tough to scare Iran(q) into negotating and dropping its threatening programs. That's not how these people work, as the Iraq war (and more importantly, their purposeful ignorage of Hussein's total capitulation on every point immediately before it) showed. They are hyping up plans to drop nuclear bombs on Iran because they want to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Posted by: Viserys on April 10, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

SOMEONE in this administration must know that the American public won't allow another bombing BEFORE all non-war options have been exhausted (I mean, REALLY exhausted). So, is this a leak of the plan wanting us to be outraged? Are they setting us up for something else? What's THAT contingency plan?

These guys are pretty dumb, but you know there's someone over there whose job it is to think-up this stuff three levels ahead...

Posted by: rusrus on April 10, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Others have pointed out that these sort of bluffs are usually done through private channels. As you say, being so public backs them into a corner.

More likely, they hope that a conventional campaign will become the 'reasonable alternative' to using tactical nukes.

Posted by: xyz on April 10, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, if the PR campaign is too successful, then Bush will have boxed himself in. Eventually he'll feel obligated to bomb Iran solely because he's now under pressure to make good on his threats and doesn't want to look like he's backing down.

Wrong Kevin. The reason Bush feels he has to bomb Iran is because Iran has the ability to make 10 nuclear bombs.

Link

"The United States alleged that Iran has enough uranium gas to make, if sufficiently enriched, 10 nuclear weapons and has called for new inspections in Iran, AFP reported."

"US ambassador Gregory Schulte told the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors that Iran had "failed on each and every count" to bow to the watchdog's call for it to suspend uranium enrichment, according to a copy of his speech obtained by AFP."

"It already has a 85-ton stockpile of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride gas) which, if enriched, could produce enough material for about 10 nuclear weapons," Schulte alleged.""

Posted by: Al on April 10, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The United States military has contingency plans for everything, they say,


Except apparently any for handling insurgencies.

Posted by: Mike on April 10, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Im betting that if Bush plays poker, he is always the sucker at the table. Drug store cowboys are never very good at brinkmanship and Bush believed his own PR from the git go.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on April 10, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

But what's important isn't the existence of the contingency plans.

Can we now - at long last - stop parsing every piece of idiocy that emerges from this White House - and just say the obvious: the lunatics have seized control of the asylum. This comes from Cheney - like almost everything else of its ilk - and is the inevitable result of the impaired flow of blood to his brain. Stop trying to 'analyze' it.

Posted by: adios on April 10, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and his cronies seem as if their agenda is nothing less than a armageddon scenario.

The Congress has been reduced to nothing more than Purchasing Agents, whom use the Lobbyists as middle men. The Courts are strangling themselves by giving Bush Unitary Executive Powers at every turn with Presidential Signing statements, The Democrats are of course Spineless because the Neo-Cons are of the Crypto Fascist Jean Kirkpatrick varierty. The Administration has turned into a Soft Dictatorship.
-----
On an Odd Historical Note;
Say what was the Name of Bush Sr and Jr in their Juvenile group of college boneheads? Gog and Magog? Uncle Togarma? Drinking from the Head of a Skull? some such crap like that.
Pechengas I think....
Yeh, Bush is Like a Pechenga

Posted by: u on April 10, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

World Wars have started over less.

One that I can think of. Maybe two. Three, if you count the current one.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 10, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Based upon the historical data, you will be correct with a probability of 95% if you assume that the administration is lying. The number increases to 98% if you assume that even if they implement the policy that they are lying about, they are going to be grossly incompetent.

Posted by: lib on April 10, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Wrong Kevin. The reason Bush feels he has to bomb Iran is because Iran has the ability to make 10 nuclear bombs."

Al, shutup!
Who do you think are, Maj. TJ "King" Kong?
You don't know sh*t from shinola.

Iran doesn't have squat. And it'll be 10 years, READ TEN years, not 10 nukes, TEN FREAKING YEARS, before they even try to detonate one.

G-d, save us from the likes of you.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 10, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

T. Roosevelt's advice: "Talk softly but carry a big stick" has been turned on it's head.

Now, it's "talk loudly and and wave something around".

Unbelievable too is heaping up more questionable intelligence. Jumping up and down making absolutely clear to the whole world that we're nuts.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 10, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

xyz on April 10, 2006 at 2:06 PM:

..they hope that a conventional campaign will become the 'reasonable alternative' to using tactical nukes.

"We used MOABs to bomb them back into the Stone Age, but at least we didn't nuke them...Whaddaya think we are, animals or something?"

Posted by: grape_crush on April 10, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I bet Halliburton has a subsidiary that specializes in building large factories deep underground. :-)

Posted by: Robert on April 10, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Iranian people will welcome our bombs as liberators....

Posted by: Stefan on April 10, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Hersch on CNN, and if you believe him, he made several points strongly contradicting this thesis.

He said specifically that these nuclear bombing plans were NOT the standard contingency plans, he made a point of say that this is active planning that has been requested by the White House.

If you believe Hersch, this is not a PR offensive by the White House, this is a leak from the Pentagon to Hersch because of several insiders there who are alarmed and threatening to resign.

Krugman's editorial today strongly makes the point that those who say Bush "wouldn't do this" with regard to bombing Iran are wrong, the title of his editorial is THEY WOULD.

Posted by: undersiege on April 10, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK
"Talk loudly and and wave something around..."

...Samuel Knight

Bully!

Posted by: adios on April 10, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Turko Finn [Jewish Kazar] Huns

Now it makes sense the 322 in that Dumb ass Skull and Bones Group is For Genesis 3:2-2 where Evil is allowed to exist.
The Khazar Jews Were Turko-Finns, Asiatic Mongoloids. The Gog and Maygog [Magyars]
is a Reference to that. Eulogia of course Never Existed. The "Bonesmen" Drink from the Skull. They also Idolize 'Uncle Togarma'.

As Well Gog and Magog find mention in Texts as being one of the 'signs' that appear when earth approach's the 'end of time' =) and of course Bushis WackY WACKO "Armageddon Scenario".

Lmao! Goobers.
Anyway enjoy this You Eschatonians!
Bush is AN HILARIOUS WACKO!!

The Khazars were of Course Phallic Worshippers as is Many of the Masons, The Khazar were Messianic Shaminists....LOL them Stoopid College Fecks..
Heckuva Job Duhbya!!

Posted by: Uncle Togarma on April 10, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your question answers itself. I wouldn't trust this WH to organize an Easter egg hunt. Just watch, they'll mess that up.

Posted by: buddy66 on April 10, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Consider, also, that they want the end times to come as fast as possible, so that Jesus will come back down from Heaven and save them from this worldly scourging and evil liberals.

We can't gain awareness if people keep projecting their rationality upon everyone.

Posted by: undersiege on April 10, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

World Wars have started over less.

Nah, WWI started over the exact same thing: bravado, bluster and brinkmanship. Cuban Missile Crisis was much the same, but fortunately we had a smart, charismatic president who understood the ramifications, listened to (the right) people and was able to ratchet all that shit down. I don't have confidence Bush will be able to pull that off.

Posted by: NTodd on April 10, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to point out that North Korea is out there with nuke potential as well.

If we attack Iran, won't they likely use theirs before we get a chance to take them out?

If I were South Korean, Japanese or Chinese I'd be very worried right now.

And if we can attack Iran, why won't the Chinese feel free to try to take over Taiwan? In Bush's brave new world, if it feels good and seems doable, why not?

And what about Saudia Arabia getting the bomb? That's not a problem?

Posted by: hopeless pedant on April 10, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think we are looking at the Bush Administration trying once again to do two things at once.

Iraq was about proving a point about American power abroad, while trying to solidify a permanent Republican majority at home.

The Iran talk is a bluff in the hope of scaring the Iranians into dealing. It's also an attempt once again to bring national security to the forefront to boost up Bush's numbers and to set the stage for the mid-term elections.

The good news? My guess is that neither the U.S., nor Iran are really interested in a war. The Iranian president is a mirror image of our own, a demagogue who threatens foreign action to boost his standing at home.

Posted by: enozinho on April 10, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

But please raise your hands if you trust this crew to play a subtle and well orchestrated game of anything.

Oh Oh! You must be thinking of your grrlfriend Ann Althouse. Here echo-chamber of legal beagles assures us that all is well, and no one is better suited to this.

But you knew that, since you've told us you read Ann Althouse everyday as one of the "reasonable non wingnut conservatives."

Posted by: jerry on April 10, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Although the crazy Mullahs in Iran may deserve to get whacked, lets recall the last loco 4th rate military that we went after. Saber-rattling is one thing, but George "flight-suit" Bush still salutes his Mission Accomplished banner, Rumsfield is mumbling about known unknowns, and Chaney can't even shoot strait.

it's the fairly obvious fact that the Bush administration is publicizing them as part of a very public PR campaign...

Its very obvious that the Bush administration is desperate to return to discussions of National Security--nominally the Republican strong suit--rather than answer embarrassing questions how many national secrets the president has been leaking.

Posted by: Jon Karak on April 10, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Micahel writes, Im betting that if Bush plays poker, he is always the sucker at the table.

Multiple people from his Yale days note that Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player.

Posted by: Steve White on April 10, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

What this administration laughably calls "coercive diplomacy" is not diplomacy. It is laying the groundwork for military attack -- at home (with a bonus possibility of using the issue to bludgeon opponents as 'soft on security') and in Iran (by raising the threat level).

Put yourself in the shoes of an Iranian citizen: This public drumbeat is in addition to the U.S. troops that occupy the countries on either side of Iran, a ring of U.S. bases around the country, and covert actions inside Iran to provoke their military into providing a casus belli.

Posted by: Nell on April 10, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

raise your hands if you trust this crew to play a subtle and well orchestrated game of anything.

No, not subtle at all. But they do play a mean game of politics/reelection - if by game you mean a toxic mix of fearmongering, lying, deceit and War.

Posted by: ckelly on April 10, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm not sure that Hersh is right, Kevin, I don't think your interpretation is right. The idea of the US considering, not just an "air strike" as you say, but a nuclear strike, is heinous and disgusting to Americans and non-Americans alike. To me, it looks like those that have leaked this are trying to stop it.

If the intent is a game of chicken, it's not going to work. The Iranians are the people who launched human-wave attacks in the Iran-Iraq war; they are not going to be easily cowed. They can just reply that American troops in Iraq will die by the thousands if Iran is attacked, and I'm afraid that they can deliver.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 10, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

sheerahkahn writes: Iran doesn't have squat. And it'll be 10 years, READ TEN years, not 10 nukes, TEN FREAKING YEARS, before they even try to detonate one.

You know this how?

And what if you're wrong?

I don't know the answer, either, but the Iranians sure do seem to be putting a lot of time, money and effort into getting nukes. And missiles that can carry nukes a couple thousand miles. And the infrastructure necessary to possess and protect nukes.

Sure does seem like they're up to something that's bad for us.

I don't know whether they're one, five or ten years away from having nukes + missiles. I don't think the time frame changes much how we need to respond.

Posted by: Steve White on April 10, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White writes:

Multiple people from his Yale days note that Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player.


Oddly enough, so was Richard Nixon; you could look it up.

Posted by: Friend of labor on April 10, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White writes:

Multiple people from his Yale days note that Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player.


Oddly enough, so was Richard Nixon; you could look it up.

Posted by: Friend of labor on April 10, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

It is awesome to watch the Democrats go mental again!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 10, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

No, it's not a really a surprise that there are military contingency plans for hitting Iran. And yes, talking about publicly is part of the game of chicken, and not unwarranted in diplomacy. But I have a serious problem with it getting out in the open that we'd consider using nuclear "bunker busters" on Iran. Anybody ought to be able to see the irony in using nukes to stop somebody from getting nukes. And don't start with any of this "tactical" nuke nonsense; a nuke is a nuke is a nuke.

Second, if they seriously believe that the Iranians will rise up as one and overthrow their government, they are badly, badly mistaken. The Iranians first instinct will be to rally around their leadership, not thank us for giving them a chance to overthrow a relatively stable government with chaos to ensue. If the White House really believes that, what the hell else are they wrong about?

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on April 10, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

yes, the pentagon has contingency plans for 'everything.' we just heard about the plans for invading canada.

*but*, we did not hear of upper-echelon pentagon types threatening to resign over these plans.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on April 10, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Bush was a great poker player in college. But he bathed his brain in booze for about twenty years after that before he gave it up.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 10, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White: Multiple people from his Yale days note that Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player.

Name three.

And what a fabulous hand he's played in Iraq!

Posted by: Nell on April 10, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Buck:

we're not going to use nukes...
what's really happening here is that when planners are tasked with destroying buried facilities with 90% effectiveness (they'll also be given options with lower percentages) they come back with the response that the only guaranteed method is with a low-yield earth penetrating nuke (we're talking about a very low yield -- the B-61 can be "dialed down" to .3 kilotons)....what this means, of course,
is that if we do end up doing this, we're not going to be as certain of success as we would like...

Posted by: Nathan on April 10, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum may think Bush is playing chicken, but I think Bush is creating a background of rationalizations so public opinion will accept, knowingly, the inevitable killing of Iranians they already unconsciously desire. Not all Americans have this unconscious desire to kill Iranians for the taking of hostages, but enough do that Bush knows he can attack Iran and raise his and Republicans' poll numbers.

Posted by: Hostile on April 10, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sure does seem like they're up to something that's bad for us.

How again is it bad for us? Despite the fact they don't have delivery capability to hit the US mainland? Despite the fact Pakistan already has nukes and is far more likely to give them to terrorists? Despite the fact they will at most have a few nukes, versus the 1000s of nukes aimed at us from Russia or China?

I just don't get why we should be so scared of them, and why we need to start WW3 because of it.

Posted by: xyz on April 10, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Multiple people from his Yale days note that Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player.

Given that Bush displays his every fleeting emotion more blatantly than even my dog, I have to conclude that these "multiple people" were simply drunker than Bush during their time at Yale. Which must have taken some doing, mustn't it?

Posted by: shortstop on April 10, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

It is awesome to watch the Democrats go mental again!

Yeah, we were so wrong the first time!

Posted by: Alek Hidell on April 10, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

it's a good idea, cause they're aren't enough shi'ia in iraq trying to kill us. this should make the "insurgency" more egalitarian. also remember when iran invaded its neighbors in the 18th century? they're a threat, i tell ya.

Posted by: bedwetter on April 10, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

...it's the fairly obvious fact that the Bush administration is publicizing them as part of a very public PR campaign in favor of a strike against Iran.

Odd. Most of what I've heard about this subject in the past week has been from the hysteria over Hersh's article. Is he secretly working for Bush?

Look back at all the ways the military threats became public. How many were from actual speeches or policy statements from the Bush administration, and how many were from enthusiastic media exposures from anonymous sources? Where is the "PR" actually coming from?

Whatever happened to the sneering about Bush doing nothing and letting other nations take the lead on Iran?

You really could use a set of note cards to keep the stories straight.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 10, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, 14th century. details.

Posted by: bedwetter on April 10, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

There's a simple explanation for all this talk about nuking Iran. Bush is bonkers, around the bend, stark raving mad, batshit crazy. Trying to view it as some sort of political tactic or international strategy just doesn't add up. The only thing he knows is that he's the president of the fucking u.s. of a. and nobody's gonna tell him what to do. Not congress, not the courts, not the media, not tony blair, and not public opinion. He'll nuke 'em for the same reason a dog licks his balls, because he can.

Posted by: JJF on April 10, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't believe people here are so naive to think we don't have special operations forces on the ground in Iran. Even you even had the faintest interest in the realities in the run-up to Iraq, you knew we put people on the ground in Iraq long before the invasion. Remember all of the "Rock Stars", and their US contacts in Kurdish Iraq? We've put them into African and middle eastern countries in many different times and places.

I mean, if you had some sort of plausible reason to believe we don't have intelligence gathering military operations going on in Iran, and could bother putting them up, it would be one thing, but all you give us now is Hersh Derangement Syndrome, whereby anything Hersh says must be gainsayed in opposition, until finally he says its rabbit hunting season and you shout "Its Duck Hunting Season! Shoot Now!" and you get your feathers mussed up and beak on backwards. Sad, really.

"and the other how long before the Joyless Generation will rise up and overthrow this tyaannical regime."

"We must take every opportunity to exploit this rift within the ruling Mullahs and with the Iranian people to topple this fascist theocratic regime."

You can bet saber rattling is not going to make them rise up any faster. In every instance, threatening people with an attack on their country has made them them draw closer to their government. It happens everywhere. It happened with us after 9/11. It makes it easier for the government to act more extremely to deal with the external threat, with less resistance from the people.

"This will be a ligtening, very lethal, no holds barred, one night stand strike. It will be a joint air/ground special forces ops and then get the Hell out of Dodge."

Do you forget the US bases in Iraq and Kuwait within easy retaliation range of Iranian missiles, not to mention the prevalence of Iranians and pro-Iranian Iraqi's surrounding them? Do you forget the long Iranian coastline on the Persian Gulf, where oil tankers are easily visible for retaliation? The huge offsea fill stations, locked in place and surely pretargeted bby Iran?

You say on one hand that Iranians are loony, ready to die in a battle with the west, and then think this will be a one day thing, with no retaliation? Come on. You may or may not be right about Iranian strategic thinking and fanaticism, but you have to be stupid to think they are fanatics, then think there will be no retaliation."

--reposted from one of the idiot site linked to. Since I bet it won't stay up there.

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

So speaking of taking bets ...

Who'd like to wager how much that we will have launched an airstrike before the '06 election?

Hell, according to Hersch we already *have* Special Forces in Iran agitating that ethnic group (name escapes me) on the border of Pakistan that Musharraf is already fighting a low-level civil war with ... Baluchistan, that's it.

And Rice has already been out front about a propaganda offensive to win the Iranian people over to our side.

Something's going on here under the radar. Groundwork is definitely being laid.

I give it a better than 50/50 shot, although less than that for using nukes.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

xyz asked: I just don't get why we should be so scared of them, and why we need to start WW3 because of it.

The point is, they're doable (if you're thinking with a fact-free, alcohol-prepped brain) not that they're the most dangerous. (Even the compromised brain recognizes that a pre-emptive attack on China or Korea isn't doable, and that the Pakistan train has left the station.)

You can't handle the football captain even if he's the one who hands out the most beatings. So you find somebody smaller than you who's insulting your manhood with epithets and beat up on him. That'll show the football captain.

Posted by: cowalker on April 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, the crew is doing nothing to help the drowning man. Wait, now those morons are throwing him an anchor.

Whatever happened to the sneering about the crew doing nothing?

Posted by: heavy on April 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was a superb, and inveterate, poker player

Yes shortstop my first reaction was also that the other Yalies must have been drunker (or higher?) than Bush. Then I thought maybe Steve White simply misspelled invertebrate.

Posted by: ckelly on April 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is bonkers, around the bend, stark raving mad, batshit crazy.

I've been having this same thought frequently of late.

Remember his psycho behavior in the first and second debates with Kerry? And that was before the disease had even progressed. Look what we've seen in the year and a half since then.

Jokes about the madness of King George don't seem like jokes these days.

Posted by: shortstop on April 10, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Then I thought maybe Steve White simply misspelled invertebrate.

ckelly, you have been cracking me up for days on end! Except I didn't read this at all over the weekend. But I'm sure you were funny then too.

Posted by: shortstop on April 10, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Except, Kevin that Bush didn't release the plans - Seymour Hirsch and his sources did. Since he's pretty well defined himself in opposition to Bush's policies, the impact of the release has to be looked at not as a signal to Iran as a part of a 'game of chicken" but in part as inter-US signalling as well.

It's kinda incorrect to say that Bush is misplaying the negotiations (yeah, yeah, he can't do anything right, he's a moron, that's why I'm still worried that the D's won't be able to turn either house this year. He's such a moron that we keep getting our asses kicked.) when he's not the one doing the signalling. When Bob Novak and the right-wing commentators start signalling, then you can lay the responsibility for signals at Bush's feet.

Marc

Posted by: Armed Liberal on April 10, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I know you are a smart and thoughtful guy, so please share with us your policy views on Iran.

1) Does it matter if Iran goes nuclear? Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Iran?

2) If not, what do we do about it? Trust the UN? Trust the Europeans? If they don't do anything, should we just live with that?

3) Are there any circumstances under which you would counsel the president to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities? What are they? Or do you think that the adverse consequences (lots of bad publicity, maybe a few more terrorist attacks against the West, probably bigger problems in Iraq) would outweigh the advantages (no risk of nuclear war between Israel and Iran, no risk of the mad mullahs slipping a few nukes to AQ)?

Posted by: DBL on April 10, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The number increases to 98% if you assume that even if they implement the policy that they are lying about, they are going to be grossly incompetent.

Where do you get the other 2%?

Posted by: grytpype on April 10, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Wrong Kevin. The reason Bush feels he has to bomb Iran is because Iran has the ability to make 10 nuclear bombs."

Here we go.

Posted by: grytpype on April 10, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Does it matter if Iran goes nuclear? Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Iran?

Why not? We're living with a nuclear armed North Korea. 12,000 nuclear warheads ought to be enough to make anyone feel safe, no matter how big a wuss they are.

Posted by: Tim on April 10, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

KD:In other words, if the PR campaign is too successful, then Bush will have boxed himself in. Eventually he'll feel obligated to bomb Iran solely because he's now under pressure to make good on his threats and doesn't want to look like he's backing down.

b/c there's no way Bush is looking for that outcome in the first fucking place, right?

disturbingly familar, this all sounds to me. did we all take a ride in the wayback machine to Oct 02, and replace the Q with an N?

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

adios:just say the obvious: the lunatics have seized control of the asylum

y'kno, that's not fair to lunatics. i know lunatics. some of my best clients are lunatics, and they're not even batshit insane enough to drop nukes on Iran b/c Iran might get nukes in ten years.

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

It seems more likely that Hersh's leakers are trying to prevent an attack by floating the trial balloon early, preempting whatever marketing plans Bush & Co have slated in advance of the 06 elections.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 10, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

DBL,

1) Does it matter if Iran goes nuclear? Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Iran?

yes, it matters, just like it does with Pakistan. We seem to be able to live with Pakistan, I don't see why Iran would be worse.

2) If not, what do we do about it? Trust the UN? Trust the Europeans? If they don't do anything, should we just live with that?

See #1 above.

Posted by: Edo on April 10, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Nell:Put yourself in the shoes of an Iranian citizen: This public drumbeat is in addition to the U.S. troops that occupy the countries on either side of Iran, a ring of U.S. bases around the country, and covert actions inside Iran to provoke their military into providing a casus belli.

how long before the Prez of Iran (whose name i can neither spell nor pronounce correctly) decides he like the whole "doctrine of pre-emption" and invades Iraq? wtf does elBushco do then with not just and insurgency but a full on war against an army as big as the one we've got in Iraq?

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

e1:
"how long before the Prez of Iran (whose name i can neither spell nor pronounce correctly) decides he like the whole "doctrine of pre-emption" and invades Iraq? wtf does elBushco do then with not just and insurgency but a full on war against an army as big as the one we've got in Iraq?"

its not happening. Iran would have to bring its forces across Khuzestan (with a supply chain over the Zagros Mts.)...rendering them extremely vulnerable to tactical airpower....something which we have an excess capacity of.
they'd never reach American ground forces.

however, Iran certainly could raise some havoc by helping to spur a Shiite insurgency...

Posted by: Nathan on April 10, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Iranian President's name is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, he is relatively powerless.

He can't do squat without the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who appoints the military leadership (both regular and Revolutionary Guard), and exercises control through several other unelected but very powerful groups, such as the Expediency Council and the Guardian Council.

Posted by: has407 on April 10, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

We (the US) are the only country that ever used nukes against people. The whole issue at hand now is about the legitimacy of thinking about making nukes, and our leaders think they are doing us good in this tussle by saying "we'll just nuke ya if ya don't do like we say."

I second Joe Buck. There is a huge crowd of people out there who are neither our enemies, nor or friends. They don't much like the way we do things. They don't much like our occupation of Iraq, our torture of captives, our willingness to seal young men of no proven ill will in cities and declare them qualified targets for elimination. They don't much like our tossing bombs into crowds from the sky and saying we got insurgents - along with some moms and kids and then vilifying insurgents who do the same from the ground. Now, we've told them that it's OK for us to think about nuking Iran, in retaliation for Iran refusing to live by rules other than the rules by which we live. In the long run, those people watching from the sidelines will be high on the list of determinants of our future position in the world. Our leaders need to stop ignoring how their inanities sound to those neither enemy nor friend. No more "with us or against us."

Our leaders are killing off our future hopes of peace and good will every time they decide to flaunt our nation's power, without simultaneously flaunting its restraint, its justice, its good will. Even if this is poker, a bluff, laying the ground work for diplomacy, we are losing huge ground. Our leaders are crap.

Posted by: kharris on April 10, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

If Iran gets the bomb, then the Neocons won't be able to invade them and regime change them like they did Iraq. And of course that would be a bad thing.

Posted by: grytpype on April 10, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Tim and Edo - Thank you for clarifying your views. I guess there are a lot of folks who think we can live with a nuclear-armed Iran, and that therefore it isn't worth very much effort to prevent that. That seems to be the view of the EU leaders not to mention Russia and China.

Is that a plank that the Democrats want to run on in this year and '08? "We can live with a nuclear Iran."

Then there are those who think it would be terribly destabilizing, and might well lead to a nuclear war between Iran and Israel, or a nuclear attack by terrorists somewhere, but who cavil at the thought of doing anything about it beyond hand-wringing (that being the peculiar legacy left to the Democratic Party by President Carter).

Where do you come out on all this, Kevin?

Posted by: DBL on April 10, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

but who cavil at the thought of doing anything about it beyond hand-wringing (that being the peculiar legacy left to the Democratic Party by President Carter).

Actually, that would be the legacy of G.W. Bush left to the Republicans with North Korea.

Posted by: Tim on April 10, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan-
i googled "iranian military" and this is one of the sites that i got back. it shows MiG fighter planes, missiles, and Chinook Helicopters (guess we sold 'em those) to name a few things.

just b/c you think that supply line and tactical difficulties would prevent Iranian ground forces from reaching our ground forces doesn't mean it wouldn't be a full on war.

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

>1) Does it matter if Iran goes nuclear? Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Iran?

Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Brazil? You may notice that they have their own quiet program, and the rocket tech to go with it.

>There is a huge crowd of people out there who are neither our enemies, nor or friends.

Then there is the huge crowd of people who are merely alienated friends. Whom the current US regime doesn't seem to think it needs right now, and so has pissed all over them no end. Hard to tell which is the larger motivator there, insecurity or arrogance. Funny how they often go together.

Yet some future US regime may turn out to need those 'former' friends very badly. A long term view would keep them in the loop, and tolerate disagreements without going into snits of spittle-flecked hate talk about the EU if they don't show the submissive camp-follower behavior of Blair.

Darfur and Iran should be seen as opportunities to get over this problem.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on April 10, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

btw, has407, thanks for the display of the Iranian President's name. {it actually helps me remember how to say it, too}

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Reality check: a president whose approval rating is falling off the map because he started a war on shaky grounds is not going to launch another major military action on shaky grounds.

Posted by: Wally on April 10, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Kevin, accusing the Bull Moose Blog of missing the point? Um, the point of the Bull Moose Blog is missing the point.

It's a parody site.

Posted by: Kiffer on April 10, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce the Canuck: A long term view would keep them in the loop, and tolerate disagreements without going into snits of spittle-flecked hate talk about the EU if they don't show the submissive camp-follower behavior of Blair.

the more i watch Bush, the more i see a substance abuser's inability to look at the long term of anything. plus he lies with the easy familiarity of necessity born from hiding his tracks.

Posted by: e1 on April 10, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Brazil?

Can we try not to entertain this idea? Brazil in almost entirely powered by hydro-electric energy. They have had several instances where drought has led to energy rationing. Most of their space and nuclear weapons asperations took place under military dictatorship. Brazil is not interested in nuclear weapons, rather it is looking to nuclear energy to suppliment their other sources of energy. If I recall, they built huge nuclear reactor in the 50-60's that isn't even in use.

So please, leave the Brazilians alone. They do democracy better than we do. Quite frankly, they seem to care about democracy more than we do, having lived through and overthrown a dictatorship without any help from us.

Posted by: enozinho on April 10, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

A subtle and well orchestrated game of chicken might be appropriate here.

If your opening ploy is to threaten to nuke someone you've probably eliminated any chance of subtle.

Posted by: Tim on April 10, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "But please raise your hands if you trust this crew to play a subtle and well orchestrated game of anything."

I didn't raise my hand! I'm not going to believe that BushCo won't nuke Iran until the January day in 2009 when the next POTUS is sworn in and Bush retires to Crawford to clear brush. Anyone incompetent enough to screw up so badly by invading Iraq is almost bound to repeat the mistake and on a grander scale.

Posted by: Taobhan on April 10, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

"o speaking of taking bets ..."

"Who'd like to wager how much that we will have launched an airstrike before the '06 election?"

Wager against these self destructive lemmings ? Not a chance in hell Bob !
I'm spending most of my time trying to side step this mad rush over the cliff....

I think I have a plan....it involves living in a
country that's free and is home to the brave...

Posted by: tank man on April 10, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

>So please, leave the Brazilians alone.

Apologies. My point was just that there are other countries that are capable of being nuclear-armed in short order, and they are not considered as much of a problem. Not necc due to their governments character, but more to do with whether there are major-power interests in their region.

If, say, Venezuala was as capable with nuclear tech as Brazil or Iran, we'd be seeing a major talk-up about them. Not because they might suicidally nuke the west, but more because it would immunize them against military 'invervention'.

Pakistan, or Russia, or port security, seem far more pressing and/or dangerous than Iran. Israel and the EU are under more proximate threat from that source.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on April 10, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

e1:

I suggest perusing globalsecurity.org or Janes.

Iran has a few dozen flyable third-rate planes...there is a slight possibility that they have a couple MIG-31s...which are somewhat formidable...but none of that helps them protect ground forces much.
they do have a few sophisticated air-defense batteries.
they have some aging transport helicopters but no real air assault capability.
a couple Kilo class subs are of note...
but as for them invading Iraq...nope...nothing in the way of significant ground forces (logistics alone makes it impossible for them)
now if we occupied Iran...they'd make our lives miserable...but no no one's talking about that.
(we probably could hold Khuzestan for a time)...
they could block traffic through the Straits of Hormuz...but only for a day or so...

Posted by: Nathan on April 10, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the purpose of the plan is to boost the Iraqi economy by giving Iraq a new export industry: flower petals. The ones the Iranians will want to shower our troops with after we drop a couple of nukes on carefully selected targets.

Posted by: kevin on April 10, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I should note that it is our ability to take Khuzestan (on the Iraq border, separated from the rest of Iran by the natural defense barrier of the Zagros Mts. and site of 90% of Iran's oil production) that is our real trump card when dealing with Iran (with sufficient air support we could take and hold the oil fields with an MEF)....not the "nuclear option".

no one's threatening to "nuke Iran"...the problem is that it may be impossible to take out heavily buried nuclear production facilities (covered with reinforced 10,000 psi concrete) with conventional ordnance.
a .3 kiloton earth-penetrating nuclear device (the B-61-11) would destroy such a bunker without more than negligible fallout or impact on the area around (the conventional test this weekend in Nevada will have more than twice the force of such a device....)

Posted by: Nathan on April 10, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce the Canuck writes, Can the US live with a nuclear-armed Brazil? You may notice that they have their own quiet program, and the rocket tech to go with it.

It's fairly simple to illustrate this point:

threat = capability x intentions

We don't worry about Britain nuking us: while they have the capability to do so, their intention is zero.

Likewise, we don't worry about Zimbabwe nuking us: while Robert Mugabe blames us for all sorts of stuff, they have zero capability.

If Brazil were to obtain nuclear weapons, their intention of starting a war with us would still be zero. Therefore, no worry.

Iran, however, will be a definite threat: once they have at least one nuke, they have some capability. And their intentions are definitely non-zero, especially with the Mad Mullahs in charge. One way to fix the problem is to return their intention to zero -- find a way to get the Mullahs out and a democratic government in charge. That, of course, is the hard part.

Posted by: Steve White on April 10, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the threat x intentions issue. But note that doesn't that apply equally to say Pakistan, which not only has a less-than-stable dictatorship with crazies waiting in the wings, but also a record of exporting its nuclear capability.

>And their intentions are definitely non-zero, especially with the Mad Mullahs in charge...

The thing is, that's a necessary component of nuclear deterrance strategy. Using nuclear weapons is insane, suicidal. There is no circumstance in which their use makes sense except if the opponent is *not* nuclear armed (where the price is ostracism), or as vengence after having already lost. Even in the case of invasion, it will still increase the magnitude of the loss by provoking a greater counter strike. In no case are they rationally in the interests of a nation state, except as a bluff.

Therefore, an important part of making such weapons a deterrent is to give the idea that you're wild-eyed or dim enough to actually use them. Their recent "mad mullahs" spouting is probably part of such a strategy. Even the USA has played this game.

Appearing rational makes a nuclear deterrence inert. This was part of Reagan's usefulness, and it may be why the neo-cons chose Bush as their frontman.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on April 10, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce, appearing rational makes deterrence work. We knew the Soviets were rational, and therefore MAD worked. Likewise, the Chinese are rational, and each side makes the same calculations and comes up with the same answers. Deterrence works again.

The Mad Mullahs are not rational, at least by our standards. I don't know what calculations they're making when they think about having nukes. We do know that they've threatened to use nukes on Israel the second they have the capability to do so. That's not rational by Western standards, because it forces Israel to consider a first strike, and that certainly is destabilizing. But if your goal given your beliefs/culture/power is to bring about the appearance of the Twelvth Imam, perhaps it's rational to nuke Tel Aviv.

I agree with you that FOR US, the use of nukes is suicidal and insane. That's why Seymour Hersh, whatever his sources (outside that skull of his, I mean) is completely wrong: we will NOT nuke Iran in a first-strike. It won't happen. But for the Mullahs, the use of nukes may not be insane by their standards.

Posted by: Steve White on April 10, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

threat = capability x intentions

Iran's capability to strike the US mainland is virtually zero.

Able to strike Iraq? Sure.
Able to strike Israel? Maybe.
Able to strike somewhere else in the middle east? Sure.

They are a threat. But not to us.

Even if they could sneak one nuke into the US, we WOULD retaliate 1000 times over. As would Israel.

We learned to live with 100s of warheads in Soviet subs 200 miles off-shore. We can live with a few nukes safely out of reach.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 10, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

If this administration decides on a war on Iran, there will be a serious risk of a coup d'etat by the JCA. Lt. General Newbold makes a level headed case when he discusses the fact that the JCA did not do their job in the runup to the war on Iraq, and reading between the lines, it is clear that they wouldn't be fooled again.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1181629-1,00.html

Posted by: ExBrit on April 10, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

>... appearing rational makes deterrence work. We knew the Soviets were rational, and therefore MAD worked. Likewise, the Chinese are rational...

Appearing rational enough to not actually launch first, yet emotional enough to use them at the least provocation. It's a fine balance. The USSR, China, the USA and even France have all at various times played this game with their leader's and nation's images.

If a first strike is the worry, then it is either an issue of hitting first solely so Israel isn't the one to do it (again), or scanning every single shipping container (how's that going?).

I would note up thread that if they have enriched uranium, it may currently be in the form of a nasty gas. That'd be great stuff to have in the atmosphere, eh?

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on April 10, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

SW> That's why Seymour Hersh, whatever his sources (outside that skull of his, I mean) is completely wrong: we will NOT nuke Iran in a first-strike. It won't happen...

Then why is there open talk about the development of a bunker-busting mini nuke? The entire purpose is the image of a chance of nominally irrational actions.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on April 10, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.

Posted by: george orwell on April 10, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, this is amateur bullshit.

Would you like to display some evidence that Iran's leaders are more irrational than Kim-Jung-Il, the death-cult leader of North Korea? Joseph Stalin killed forty million of his own people without a second thought. Would you care to give evidence that Iran is more insane and depraved than Joe Stalin? How many million people have the leaders of Iran killed? How many genocides have they attempted? They've made some threats against Israel, like every other Arabic government in the area, and supported Shiite fundamentalist movements, include ones that use terrorism, like several other arab states. This may be deplorable, but it makes plenty of sense from a calculation point of view. It's hardball, but it's nothing like irrational. And it's small stuff.

Iran's leaders are anti-american religious fundamentalists, but they're more rational than must of the major leaders we've faced pursuing or owning nuclear weapons in the past half-century. Anyone who makes a systematic, objective attempt at comparisons understands this.

Stop spouting lines you've been told and wake up.


Posted by: glasnost on April 10, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, I don't think credible people suggest that the Iranian airforce could create serious problems for us. But your analysis is still wildly flawed. Iran doesn't have to worry about supply lines: they're in their own country. Unless you think the population of these provinces will swing utterly against them. Very iffy.

Secondly, you should stop and think about our supply lines. They go through Shiite-dominated, pro-Iran Iraq. Is this good?

Lastly, just because there are mountains does not imply that troops cannot get through them. This is very naive. These are Iran's mountains, they know them fairly well, they have a lot of people to waste, and they're not the Himalayas.

Could we take and hold territory? We can take any piece of territory we want in this world, pretty much, in a surprise attack. There might be a nuclear counterstrike later, but hey, that's beyond the bounds of the plan.

However, would it make any sense to hold it as we began to create the most high-profile mass slaughter / outbreak of anarchy in the past several decades? Iraq would explode like a bomb. Iran would probably send human wave attacks as it did in the war against Iran. Assuming Iran mounted an aggressive response at full capability, we could suffer thousands of casualties and inflict hundreds of times that number.

And for what, exactly?

There's not much I'd put past GWB, but a ground invasion of Iran, especially one with intentions of less than overthrow, is beyond even him.

Posted by: glasnost on April 10, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

"But please raise your hands if you trust this crew to play a subtle and well orchestrated game of anything." Sorry but this regime is about as subtle as a shotgun to the face.

Sorry but it had to be said at some point.

Seriously, I can understand that when it comes to military options nothing can be taken off the table, it is simply the nature of military action. The point is to avoid it at all costs because once it starts military conflict has a life and mind of its own. There is no way to know how it can end under the best of circumstances, and under this bunch of amatures running the civilian planning in our military this will never be under the best of any damn thing. Getting to the idea of MAD requiring rational actors: what evidence is there that King George and his merry band of idiots are even close to being rational? No joke there, serious question, who thinks this crew is rational.

Posted by: clyde on April 10, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

tinfoil: They are a threat. But not to us.

There are around 250K+ coallition forces--mostly US--in the gulf. Iran could make life for many of those people hell, without a significant military capability--as Iraq amply demonstrates--and there would likely be hell to pay should that occur. That's a threat that should not be underestimated.

Posted by: has407 on April 10, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, several of you aren't living in the real world. We can not strike Iran. Our armies will then be fighting a two front war, only with those troops divided and not consolidated. You should also realize that we will then be facing biological, chemical and perhaps nuclear attacks in both Iran and Iraq (Don't think the Iranians won't share with their allies in Iraq). Theres also a good chance that The saudi royal family will be overthrown, because we will be too distracted to do anything and we will no longer have forces in that region. Of course, the Saudi's can avoid this by suggesting their trouble makers go to iran to fight us instead. Either way, get used to 10 dollars a gallon for gas and heating oil. Also, China will have a field day offering protection to anyone will to sell them all the oil they'll be needing in the next decade. Once this starts, we don't ever get to go back from it. Our populations won't make peace after the results of our initial strike. The enemy won't until we or them are dead.

This isn't risk, their are ramifications that go FAR beyond the military. I don't see this ending any other way then our losing our status as the most powerful nation on earth. You all just seem to think this is cool.

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

Soullite: Our armies will then be fighting a two front war, only with those troops divided and not consolidated...

Sorry, can't resist (if I don't laugh I'm going to cry)... Iran would be the one fighting a two-front war, since we have forces in both Iraq (West) and Afghanistan (East). So taking out Iran would be a means of consolidating our forces. Kinda like the Allied and Russian forces meeting at the Elbe.

Posted by: has407 on April 10, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

There's not a civilized nation in the world that'd approve a first strike nuclear assault by Bush, against anyone.

Every other nuclear country would be on full alert if it were to occur, and with our military at 100% deployment everywhere, any enemy of the US would view us as vulnerable to an attack where we least expect it. As well, there'd be a high probability that many Americans would view the first strike as the act of a government out of control, so an anarchist civil rebellion would likely erupt.

Strangelovian nuke discussions take place in sterile war rooms and likely have occurred in every admin since Truman. The Bushicons, however, excel at doing the worst things that most folks think could never occur.

But they would not get away with it unless they made it look like Iran attacked us first. And therein lies the greatest peril.

Bush has already demonstrated that any Macchiavellian scheme, any lie, any propaganda, and any act of brutality is within his realm of acceptable behavior. He's also demonstrated an utter disregard for human life and the bounds of law.

He's an enemy of humankind. Nukes don't kill people. Bush does, just to prove he's not a wuss. It's obvious he's a sociopath; he should be confined to life in a cell, and not the terrorist cell he currently leads.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on April 11, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

DBL asks the really good question; paraphrasing: "OK, now that the venting is done, so what SHOULD we be doing about this?"

Damned if I know. And I doubt that anyone else has a very well formulated set of ideas, either. Given that, I think you can only keep sizing up the situation and feeling things out. The poker analogy seems pretty good to me.

Game plan:
1. Keep all the options open.
2. Make sure the other guy knows you are keeping the options open.
3. Do it in a way that the other guy knows you are seriously considering the most aggressive play and could have what it takes to make good on it.

There was a time when this kind of stuff was done "behind the scenes" (suggested in an earlier post), but I'm not sure that works any more. There aren't any sure ways to keep things on the QT anymore, not when there are so many ways for people to leak, and such effective mechanisms for putting a spotlight on those "secret" undertakings. In today's world, since whatever you are doing is a few keystrokes away from being public knowledge, I think you have to think "how do we want this to come out?", rather than "how can we keep this out of the public eye?"

Posted by: Terry Ott on April 11, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I've felt obligated to support regime change in Iran for many years. Recent PR only gives me a little hope.

What's with the negetive tone, Kevin? This is a good thing.

Posted by: aaron on April 11, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

>I've felt obligated to support regime change in
>Iran for many years. Recent PR only gives me a
>little hope.

>What's with the negetive tone, Kevin? This is a
>good thing.

The very best thing that could happen to Iran's ruling power is a widely-publicized sabre-rattle from the US. Actual evidence of military build-up would be even better, as it would unify the population against the US and make it effortless to scapegoat anyone opposing Khameni, etcetera.

You think any sane Iranian would choose present-day Iraq over what Tehran offers?

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Posted by: soanry on April 11, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

I think the most significant aspect of the findings in the Sy Hersh article is how the White House refuses to remove the "nuclear option" from the plans, despite repeated requests by the military to do so. That is plainly what scares me.

Posted by: sohei on April 11, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

glstnost:Nathan, I don't think credible people suggest that the Iranian airforce could create serious problems for us.

which isn't actually what i was trying to imply either. what i was trying to say {as inarticulately as usual} was that if we were to attack Iran at all, we'd wind up with a full on war, (like the height of Vietnam), b/c Iran has a semblance of an intact military.

Posted by: e1 on April 11, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - you are basically right on, but you still have missed the biggest reason of all: the BA is threatening to bomb Iran because this is, in their simple-minded and harsh world view, their ace in the hole - the answer to all their problems. They watched Reagan's ratings soar during the Granada "war", and watched Thatcher's ratings soar during the Falklands "war". Like Pavlovian dogs, they believe they just need to start bombing - somewhere, ANYwhere, to kick start the approval ratings.

Remember, the BA came into 2000 believing RELIGIOUSLY and piously in it's mission. They demonized any dissenters, and of course didn't listen. They are not listening still. They sense in a vague way they are in deep doo-doo, but they don't really believe it's serious. It can all be fixed, just like W has "fixed" every foul up in his entire life (of which there have been many - but the "fixer" was really Daddy, and he can't fix this. W thinks his devotion to Christ is what now protects him).

It's not a coincidence this comes at a time when Bush is being exposed as a Leaker-in-chief, a towering hypocrite. Rove is pushing this war-talk at this time, but it was going to come sooner or later anyway.

They are doing what they do; they are doing the only thing they CAN do; and they are pulling out all the stops all at once.

Posted by: tn on April 12, 2006 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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