Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BEYOND SABER RATTLING....Recently on conservative sites I've been reading various versions of the following scenario about what a nuclear Iran would mean for American. This particular version comes from Mark Helprin in the Washington Post:

With an intermediate-range strategic nuclear capacity, it could...reign over the Persian Gulf...lead and perhaps unify the Islamic world, and thus create the chance to end Western dominance of the Middle East.

I'm genuinely not familiar enough with regional politics to know the answer to this, but is this even remotely plausible? Iran is ethnically Persian and confessionally Shia, after all, while the rest of the region is mostly Arab and Sunni. Is there any real chance that Iran could ever unite the Islamic world under its leadership?

The payoff for this fearmongering comes near the end of Helprin's column:

As simply as it can be said, were Egypt to close the canal, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to lock up their airspace which, with their combined modern air forces, they could the U.S. military in Iraq and the Gulf, bereft of adequate supply, would be beleaguered and imperiled.

....We would do well to strengthen in numbers and mass as well as quality the means with which we fight, to reinforce the fleet train with which to supply the fighting lines, and to plan for a land route from the Mediterranean across Israel and Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates. And even if we cannot extricate ourselves from nation-building and counterinsurgency in Iraq, we must have a plan for remounting the army there so that it can fight and maneuver as it was born to do.

Translation: saber rattling might not work! Instead, we should guarantee war by building up our forces in response to the scary but laughably remote possibility that every single country in the entire region turns against us all at once. Sadly, I imagine that this is what passes for "being serious" about national security these days.

Kevin Drum 12:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (219)

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Comments


Shorter Helprin - 'We must start a war in the region so that we are able to fight a war in the region.'

Posted by: xyz on April 13, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that discussions about Iran have been strangely divorced from discussions about Iraq. I mean, we're supporting the creation of a government that will likely be a close ally of our greatest enemy. Very, very screwy.

Also, I'm trying to put together a comprehensive list of Bush scandals-outrages-lies. Here a modest start. Please post any that I've missed. Thanks.

1. Plamegate
2. NSA Wiretapping
3. any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order.
4. The 16 Words
5. Aluminum Tubes
6. Mobile Weapons Labs
7. Its pretty well confirmed that Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence
8. Cheney denies saying its pretty well confirmed that Atta met with Iraqi intelligence
9. Stuff Happens.
10. Haliburton
11. Abu Ghraib
12. Abuses at Guantanamo
13. The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes.
14. Cheneys secret energy task force
15. Katrina
16. No one anticipated a breach of the levees
17. No one anticipated terrorist flying bombs into buildings
18. Phone jamming in New Hampshire
19. Claude Allen
20. David H. Safavian


Posted by: david mizner on April 13, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

david,

Numbers don't go that high.

Posted by: Matt on April 13, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Helprin was once a great novelist (e.g. A Winter's Tale). Now he is a demented drivel-spewing right wing crank, advocating endless brutal wars of unprovoked aggression so that the USA can maintain its "dominance" of Middle Eastern oil. It's very sad.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Can't help but laugh at the absurd notion that Iran could unite the Arab world under its leadership. I can tell you that the Persians KNOW they're better than the Arabs and the Turks (barbarians). The Turks know they're tougher than those effete Persians. The Arabs know that no one else in the region likes them. The Kurds trust no one (with damn good reason). Who else? It's a hornet's nest over there (I lived in Turkey for years). The idea that one country could lead another is laughable.

Posted by: ExBrit on April 13, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

BEYOND SABER RATTLING.

Bloomberg reports "Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days" and liberals like Kevin Drum are complaining about saber rattling? *Snicker*

Posted by: Al on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

With limited time to research the apparently limitless news sources/blogs, I find myself scratching my head about Iraq/Iran.

I remember thinking during the buildup into the invasion of Iraq, that it seemed pretty reasonable to think that a successful invasion and occupation of Iraq would leave a 'blooded', fire-trained American army in place next door to a potentially troublesome member of the Axis of Evil.

Of course, it hasn't worked out quite that way, but has this notion been expressed in print or on the net before? I am sure it must have been, but I have not seen it.

Posted by: Ed on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

You know who has a problem with the Iran question, Kevin?

You do.

You backed the idea of going to war with Iraq until very soon before the war actually commenced.

Thing is, Iran really IS the threat that Iraq never was. It was so before you supported war on Iraq, it is so afterwards.

So how, on principled grounds, do you square your disparaging of the use of the threat of military force against Iran with your own previous support of the Iraq war?

I realize that there's the incompetence and recklessness factor presented by the Bush administation, and we don't want to give the keys to war to that sad drunk in the WH.

But in the end, we have to figure out a foreign policy that really makes sense. The politics have to worked around this. I see no sign from you that you are even aware of your own apparent inconsistency on the issue, so I can't imagine how you can ever get to a point where you come up with a coherent approach, either in terms of policy or of politics.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is the modern version of the "Domino theory." In other words, its very scary and appealing to the paranoids amongst us, but in the end is riddled with all kinds of logical flaws making it about as plausible as the idea that spacemen will arrive soon and make all of us into slaves.

Still I expect it to get good play on Fox News, where all of our enemies are united against freedom.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

And if the Mongol hordes once more sweep out of their distant homeland, conquer China, India, and the Middle East, and *then* turn against us, we're really in trouble.

Bomb Mongolia now, before it's too late!

Posted by: MJ Memphis on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

And of course, the Shia-dominated Iraq wouldn't join this scary new superpower.

Posted by: Steve Brady on April 13, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if there is a way to make all the countries in the region turn against us all at once, using nuclear weapons is probably the way to do it.

Go team!

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on April 13, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

David, this post of mine from last year might help. (Crooks and Liars called it possibly the best post of 2005)

164 imbedded links to the sociopathic things the Bush administration and it's cheerleaders have done...and that was before the NSA, Jack's plea-deal and Iran scaremongering all really took of.

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on April 13, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Turkey having any serious involvement in some coalition of Islamic states under any leadership but itself is really far-fetched.

Posted by: cld on April 13, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: Yeah, Winter's Tale and A Soldier of the Great War are two of my favorite novels ever. So it's always depressing to be reminded that Helprin is also a full-blown Kool-Aid-drinking wingnut. Kind of like James Lileks, who was pretty damn funny before he lost his mind post 9/11.

Posted by: Shem on April 13, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Bloomberg reports "Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days"

I'd be more worried about Iran getting a hold of Saddam's giant laser.

Posted by: Steve Brady on April 13, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

This is the modern version of the "Domino theory."

This is the modern version of The Crusades

Posted by: Martin on April 13, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK
I'm genuinely not familiar enough with regional politics to know the answer to this, but is this even remotely plausible?

Not really.

Its a lot more likely that it would lead to an increased arms race in the Arab states squeezed between a nuclear Iran and a nuclear Israel, neither of which has been historically a friend of the Arabs (yes, yes, a lot of that is historically the Arabs fault, in both cases -- that doesn't really matter to the dynamics.) This, of course, could be a boon for the West, particularly Western states willing to act as something other than proxies for Israel, providing leverage over those regimes with security cooperation as the carrot.

Though, OTOH, given the Israel/Iran rivalry, it could, in the longer run, form the basis for a kind of unification of the Middle East with Iran as one of the leaders -- with the Arab countries joining with Iran and Israel in an cooperative regime where the participation of Iran was seen as a guarantor against Israel and vice versa. But its a fringe possibility.

Its even less plausible that Iran's nukes would get Turkey to turn against the US (though continued US adventurism might do that, or a collapsing Iraq that left the US backing Kurdistan.)

Sadly, I imagine that this is what passes for "being serious" about national security these days.

Its the exact same thinking that justified the Iraq war, IMO: take the worst elements of the present situation, extrapolate the worst remotely plausible results from those considered in isolation without any consideration of the countervailing factors in the present situation, then dial up the story a lit bit more to make it extra scary, then present that fantasy as the justification for immediate war.

Glad to see you aren't buying it this time.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm genuinely not familiar enough with regional politics to know the answer to this, but is this even remotely plausible? Is there any real chance that Iran could ever unite the Islamic world under its leadership?

I think the answer is no, for the reasons you state.

However... There are Shiite minorities in many of the Sunni nations: Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt (and iirc, in the eastern oil-producing regions of Saudi Arabia). A reformed and democratic Iran would be a threatening example to the Arab autocrats, who prefer to keep their Shias poor and downtrodden.

A reformed and democratic Iran was more likely before Bush started his ignorant threatening swagger-talk about the region, five years ago. Threatening Iran gives the clerics power; invading Iran would destroy the reform movement.

I'll let you do the math.

Posted by: Wapiti on April 13, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think you've hit it square on, possibly without realizing it. The definition of "being serious" about national security, now and always, is to be completely and utterly afraid of everything and everyone at all times.

Imagine translating the state of mind into a domestic scale. You take your home security "seriously," so you spend your time stockpiling weapons (really big, absurd weapons, like tanks and RPGs and land mines) and conducting raids on your neighbors property. Every once in a while, you kill one of your neighbors, on their own property, just because. Apart from that, you never leave your house, and anyone coming to the door may, at any time, be shot, even if he is just delivering the bulk gunpowder that you ordered on the internets.

This is the mindset that motivates those who are "serious" about security.

Posted by: craigie on April 13, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking nonsense.

Turkey is dying to get into the EU, and has no strong ties to any of the Arab nations or Iran. Remember, it was Saddam that had the pan-Arab dreams, and you can see what happened to the idea during the first Gulf War. On top that, no one likes Iran and it's Shiite majority, except the Shiite majorityn in Iraq.

In short, there is nothing there that is strong enough to unite the Arabs against the U.S. in the aid of the Persians. If they didn't go to war over us invading Iraq, they aren't going to do it if we bomb Iran's nuclear site.

However, that isn't going to happen anyway. The Bush administration no longer has any foreign policy credibility on any issue calling for the use of force.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations to Helprin for not playing the alien-abduction/UFO card...

The thought of the Middle East teaming up with lizards from space is simply more than most of us can handle.

Posted by: koreyel on April 13, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK
The Bush administration no longer has any foreign policy credibility on any issue calling for the use of force.

There are a lot of excess words in that sentence. Delete "foreign policy" and "calling for the use of force", and its still true.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Has Helprin noticed that Sunnis are busy killing Shi'ites right now in Iraq in order to avoid shi'ite leadership? And he thinks Iran could ever unite the Arab countries? He's gone completely insane, or completely mendacious. Remember pan-Arabism? Nassar couldn't even get the Sunni Arab countries to play nice together. And these were countries that had all been provinces under the same Ottoman rule only 40 years earlier, had leaders who had fought together against Turkish rule in WWI, and supposedly had a common enemy in Israel. Now we're supposed to believe that Iran, a country with a different religion, language and culture, is going to be the savior of pan-Islamism? Iran is having a hard enough time keeping Iran together between the restless Kurds, the Azeris, and the Sunni Arab minority. How the hell are they going to lead and unify anything? This is why the Russians don't really care if the Iranians get nukclear capability, the Russians know that Iran will never be a serious player in the region. It's far too corrupt, and far too divided. And I'm sure Russia is planning to help Iran stay that way. The only argument I have ever seen that makes a convincing case that a nuclear Iran is a problem is the argument that Iran is inherently unstable - when the inevitable civil war or break-up does come who will grab the bombs? Very worrying, but of course you could make exactly the same case for bombing Pakistan.

Posted by: Vanya on April 13, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Turkey locking up its air space? Joining a league of other nations to present a belligerent face to the U.S.? Um, aren't they more than just nominally an ally of ours and a member of NATO? I know the population and some members of the power structure have divided loyalties but now we have to gear up for war with Turkey, too?

Posted by: steve duncan on April 13, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

You know who HAS been consistent in his underlying foreign policy?

Oddly enough, John Kerry.

He supported the idea of a THREAT of war against Iraq. He seems to understand that doing so with Iran may also be a good strategy -- one rationale he presents for removing our troops from Iraq is that they can be redeployed to be ready for the real threat presented by Iran.

THAT is a consistent foreign policy, for all the grief the man has received regarding it over the years.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 13, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks C for the link; great stuff.

Iran, not Iraq, was once the best hope for democracy in the region but Bush has done everything to strengthen the hand of the forces of regression at the expense of the reformers---THAT story needs to be examined in the MSM.

Posted by: david mizner on April 13, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 wrote: Thing is, Iran really IS the threat that Iraq never was.

No, it is not. Just like Iraq, Iran is a non-threat that is being falsely portrayed to the American people as an imminent threat when in reality it is nothing of the kind.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of excess words in that sentence. Delete "foreign policy" and "calling for the use of force", and its still true. Posted by: cmdicely

Except that we have no history of using force on behalf of the Treasury Department, the National Park Service, or the U.S. Olympic Committee. But I guess you needed that clarified.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Accept all that as plausible and take it one step further--the united Middle East then takes what action? What is the threat to the US posed by a united and hostile Middle East? That they'll refuse to sell anyone their oil? Stay home and eat sand? Sell it at a discount to Europe or China? OPEC couldn't even stay united to keep production steady and oil prices high, and the threat is that they'll willing sell for 20%, 40% less to countries other than the US?

Posted by: Jim Lund on April 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that the cost-effective way to deal with Iran is to reclaim our policy of no-first-nukes, and MAD, with the kicker that if they use nukes on any other country (friend OR foe of the US) then we unload our arsenal on them. Effectively, we declare that we're a doomsday machine (but we must make noise about this, and be credible).

So, be our guest, waste your money and your best engineers on a weapon you do not dare to use. Is that really what your people want?

And then we step back, and quit rattling sabers, and let them think about it.

Posted by: dr2chase on April 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

But when your trailer park minions can't tell the difference between a Mickey Mouse watch and an H-bomb, a Persian and an Arab, Sunni and Shi'a, or Arabic and Farsi, you can say anything and get away with ripping off their dumb asses AGAIN.

Watch this [ahem]: "MAMBO DOGFACE TO THE BANANA PATCH!"

See? In a few days, I'll have a cracker flash-mob gnashing their collective tooth to go invade Canada.

It's ridiculously easy.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on April 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Remember Cyrus. I think we should keep an eye on those damn Greeks and Romans as well.

Posted by: HL Mungo on April 13, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well his column does appear to follow his advice to "think imaginatively" in evaluating the threat as opposed to realistically.

It is also interesting how the column moves from talking about the insurgency in Iraq and Iran as if it were a seamless and united muslim fanaticism in opposition to the US.

Its also interesting how the obtaining of nuclear weapons is portrayed as an absolute prohibition and a line which under no circumstances should be crossed with no amount of blood or treasure to be spared in stopping. There is little question that the issue of is great and fundamental importance, but somehow the Earth continued to function after the evil and despotic charter member of the Axis of Evil, North Korea, in all likelyhood became a member of the nuclear club.

Posted by: Catch22 on April 13, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

What do you mean that Iran is a non-threat? It is certainly on a path to developing nuclear weapons. It certainly has had more extensive connections to terrorism than Iraq ever had (though I don't know how much these terrorist really threaten the US).

If you mean that it is not an IMMEDIATE threat, I certainly agree with you.

But the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons is ONLY negative for us. It's NEVER a good thing, I think, when nuclear weapons spread to still another country, but Iran certainly has to be among the last countries we want to lay their hands on such weapons.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 13, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

There is absolutely no proof that Iran has any desire to increase its territory. It has not started any wars of aggression since the revolution and has made a remarkable transition to limited democracy without the traditional reign of terror phase most Western revolutions have. Iran does desire a regional repudiation of US hegemony, which has put it in harm's way.

Posted by: Hostile on April 13, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

This blabbery is reaction to Osama`s (very old) declaration that he hopes to be, at least, the seed of the creation of The Perfect Caliphate (Return of The 12th Imam etc).

These people are responding to Al Qaeda (saber rattling) propaganda & not much else

short version = he`s on some very bad drugs

"The mind is its own place,
and in itself can make a heaven of hell,
and a hell of heaven" - John Milton

Posted by: daCascadian on April 13, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Just like Iraq, Iran is a non-threat that is being falsely portrayed to the American people as an imminent threat when in reality it is nothing of the kind.

We all know that Bush never used the exact phrase "imminent threat", so this invalidates every argument you have ever made in your life.

I'd be more worried about Iran getting a hold of Saddam's giant laser.

I'd be more worried if some libertarian tried to profit by selling the Iranians all of our rotary rocket technology, which could deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere within a 2500 foot radius.

Posted by: Alf on April 13, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It occurs to me that the tenuous threat scenarios like this from the Administration's shills are likely not even intended as any kind of analysis.

They are advertising. And just as many advertisements present ludicrous scenarios that are not intended to be rationally accepted (and are, indeed, intended to be seen as ludicrous), but nevertheless leave a positive feeling about a product (or a negative one about the alternative) that increases the propensity of those exposed to the advertisement to buy the product, similarly these tenuous threat scenarios aren't intended to be rationally convincing, rather, they are intended to leave those exposed to them with a lingering feeling that Iran is somehow dangerous whether or not they accept the specific scenario, so that they will have a higher propensity to "buy" the "product", the War with Iran that we are being prepared for.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent point on cnn just now: if Israel put its' nukes on the table, we might get Iran to do the same.

What does Israel really need nukes for? It only inspires others.

Posted by: cld on April 13, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bomb Mongolia now, before it's too late

That was pretty funny MJ. It brought to mind a classic quote from obscure on the same topic:

By 2001, after 9/11, there was no way [Saddam] could be left alone.

Naturally. Because far from receding into the past, his criminal invasion of Kuwait some 9 years earlier was actually accruing interest.

When do we lob the nukes on the Mongols? Their shit is really ripe.

Posted by: obscure on December 7, 2005 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: trex on April 13, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

If having a nuke is the key to controlling the middle east, one wonders why the Israelis are having so much trouble keeping the Arabs in line. Perhaps they should announce they already have the bomb and everything would be just fine.

Posted by: chad on April 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Never could read any of Helprin's fiction. Now I know why. btw Dan Simmon's screed on the Iraq war is off his site. Any ideas why?

Posted by: moe99 on April 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Whether or not Iran is a threat--I'd argue that it is--the United State's insistence that countries with which we disagree not get nuclear weapons is unworkable and hypocritical. Around the world there are people, including Iranians, who are pre-democracy but are outraged at Americans' demand that only they and their allies can possess nuclear weapons. We're simply going to have live, or die, with repressive, possibly dangerous regimes possessing nuclear weapons. The cat's out of the bag...

Posted by: david mizner on April 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

However, that isn't going to happen anyway. The Bush administration no longer has any foreign policy credibility on any issue calling for the use of force.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

They are planning to bomb as soon as the UN security council fails to impose sanctions, which makes it a foregone conclusion. All the unspeakable consequences that the people on this board have posted mean nothing to the neocons. No matter what the consequences they will spin them to their advantage. They probably have contingency plans for any eventuality in myriads of permutations. The plans are not meant to actually deal with the repercussions in any serious way, they are meant to manipulate public percetion of those consequences to their advantage.

Posted by: bblog on April 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

What do you expect? This moron is a "fellow" at the Claremont Institute, a bunch of farfarfarfar righties which likely hasn't got a combined group IQ in double digits.

Further proof that "right winger" is a two-word substitute for biped-lacking-frontal-lobes-and-opposable-thumbs.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

This administration is insane, and Mark Helprin is, I'm sorry, a total moron. He should be fired, or at the very least, reassigned. He is self-evidently too stupid to do his job.

I'd like to ask Mark why we aren't more worried that Canada and Mexico will unite and declare war on us? Or perhaps that all of Central and South America will unite and declare war on us?

Seriously, the argument for either of those things happening is stronger than this insane notion.

Mark Helprin may have replaced Doug Feith as the stupidest guy on the fucking planet.

Posted by: theorajones on April 13, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK
Except that we have no history of using force on behalf of the Treasury Department, the National Park Service, or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

That's not really true (force is used on behalf of, and through, both the Treasury Department and National Park Service on a regular basis), nor does it have any apparent connection to what it was persented as a response to.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

April 28 is going to be a hell of a day Iran will have a nuc bomb,Or wait this story came out a couple of days ago, that means 14 days.April 26 is going to be a hell of a day.

Posted by: Rightminded on April 13, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Watch this [ahem]: "MAMBO DOGFACE TO THE BANANA PATCH!"

See? In a few days, I'll have a cracker flash-mob gnashing their collective tooth to go invade Canada.

It's ridiculously easy. Posted by: Grand Moff Texan

Oh. So you're discounting the last Mambo dogface to the banana patch that happened in '75, huh?

We should the Cheeseheads then, and we can do it again! You don't think so? Okay, smarty pants, why are there now more hockey teams in states where it doesn't snow than there are in Canada?

Why does the Grand Moff Texan hate America?

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

If Helprin is right, can he please explain Pakistan and India's lack of influence?

They , of course, both have the bomb and missiles to deliver.

Posted by: james on April 13, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative thinking used to be quite good. In days of Yor and the likes of Buckley, you might not have agreed with them but a reasoned arguement was a hall mark of conservative thought. No more. Sometime after Newt's balanced budget and before the triumph of the FOX screaming republican, the whole culture went idiotic. No wonder Newt spends time with Hilary these days.

Posted by: exclab on April 13, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

that's hilarious, these people seriously have no grip on reality.

sure, Iran and the entire ME will shut themselves off. We'll have a gas shortage and they'll eat sand.

Posted by: haha on April 13, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I remember the Doom's Day clock ticking forward because President Reagan insisted on "building up our forces in response to the scary but laughably remote possibility" of the Soviets launching a nuclear attack.

How'd that work out?

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no! It's the Awful Alternative! Run, run for your lives!

Posted by: Stefan on April 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

That's not really true (force is used on behalf of, and through, both the Treasury Department and National Park Service on a regular basis), nor does it have any apparent connection to what it was persented as a response to. Posted by: cmdicely

You're fucking hopeless. You're as bad as Al and T-Bone - move the goal posts, be vague, deny everything.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "Sadly, I imagine that this is what passes for "being serious" about national security these days."

Well, yeah! Hell, it's worked for the Republicans for a long time - got 'em that reputation as "tough" on national security. As we're now seeing, they're great at fear-mongering and stirring up anti-American sentiment in other countries but failures at actually improving the nation's security.

There's a lot more to enhancing national security than huffing and puffing and showing off your military muscles. But, sadly, I think we're in for a few more years of this kind of approach to national security.

Posted by: Taobhan on April 13, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Except that we have no history of using force on behalf of the Treasury Department, the National Park Service, or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Obviously you've never been roughed up by the jackbooted thugs of the U.S. Olympic Committee....

Seriously, though, the BATF and Secret Service fall under the purview of the Treasury Service, so it uses force quite a lot.

Posted by: Stefan on April 13, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Who do we hear from on the Right? Failed philosophers of the End of History. Do we ever hear from people like George Will? No. George Will wrote a truly scathing inditement of GW Bush for Time I think it was. Flayed him better than any Hithcens or any NYT columnist. Now he is quoted no more.

Weimar comparisons anyone?

Posted by: exclab on April 13, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK
You're fucking hopeless. You're as bad as Al and T-Bone - move the goal posts, be vague, deny everything.


WTF are you talking about?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I love all these end of time memes that are percolating.

What does the Left keep telling me about global warming and how it's going to destroy the world, again?

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

How'd that work out?

Well, lessee. We spent a bunch of money to increase our overkill, which did nothing to make us stronger, walked right up to the near-launch event that prompted the famous "Reagan shift," and prolonged the Cold War by a few years so that the right people could make more money.

And yeah, there were people even back then who were dumb enough to think that looked 'tough.'
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on April 13, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Many comments have been made on the imbecilic idea that Turkey would join some kind of Iranian led coalition. It's equally idiotic that Egypt and/or Saudi Arabia would do the same. If there is an Arab coalition in the works, Egypt would see itself as the natural leader. Saudi Arabi has put up with American bases in their country, but there is no way they would want an Iranian armed force on their border.

Posted by: tomeck on April 13, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK
What does the Left keep telling me about global warming and how it's going to destroy the world, again?

Sometime, you should learn the difference between science and pulling nightmare fantasies out of thin air.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

oh well - another thread gone to hell in a handbasket. where do the gorwnups get to post?

but for what it's worth: what exactly qualifies Mark Helprin to get a foreign policy op-ed in the Post? having served in the Israeli army? having written speeches for a failed GOP presidential nominee a decade ago? my barber would have far more enlightening & better-written thoughts on the subject. i'd really like to see what pieces they turned down to make room for this drivel.

Posted by: TW on April 13, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, I imagine that this is what passes for "being serious" about national security these days.

I know this has been said before on this site, but I think we have to be very weary of responding to this kind of tripe. It's another example of conservates shifting the middle ground to the right.

First you acknowledge that these guys are nuts. The next thing you know, you're being asked, "Well what kind of bombing campaign would be acceptable?". What we are seeing is diplomacy being taken off the table by making a limited bombing campaign seem reasonable.

Posted by: enozinho on April 13, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

So you are an "end of timer" then?

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK


Every country that acquires nuclear weapons saves the US a trillion dollars.

Posted by: gcochran on April 13, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

the United State's insistence that countries with which we disagree not get nuclear weapons is unworkable and hypocritical. Around the world there are people, including Iranians, who are pre-democracy but are outraged at Americans' demand that only they and their allies can possess nuclear weapons. We're simply going to have live, or die, with repressive, possibly dangerous regimes possessing nuclear weapons. The cat's out of the bag...

But the issue is HOW MANY cats get out of the bag? How likely are those cats to make the world more, and not less, perilous?

Look, it's a matter of probabilities. The more unsavory regimes, or potential regimes, who have their hands on nuclear weapons, the less safe we and indeed the world, are.

I don't see how anyone can look at the history of Iran and not conclude that there is a very real potential in Iran for truly reckless, uncivilized acts. They are exactly the sort of cats we absolutely want to keep in the bag.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 13, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

We must beware the menace of monolithic Islamism!

Posted by: sglover on April 13, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 wrote: What do you mean that Iran is a non-threat? It is certainly on a path to developing nuclear weapons.

Not according to the IAEA which has been monitoring Iran's nuclear programs and has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. Iran is not even remotely able to enrich uranium to the point where it can be used as reactor fuel, let alone for weapons, and expert opinion says that if Iran works to develop a nuclear weapon, without any constraints, they are ten to twenty years away from producing a weapon.

But the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons is ONLY negative for us.

The existence of nuclear weapons anywhere on Earth, including the thousands of hydrogen bombs in the possession of the USA, is ONLY negative for the human species.

Nuclear weapons, as well as so-called "commercial" nuclear power, should be eliminated and permanently banned from the planet, period.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes but we apparently lack the will to do so. Bombing Iran will not stop proliferation. A proper NPT will. But GW doesn't like treaties. So we get the lame India solution.

The fact is a country does not get diplomatic respect from the US until they get the bomb. Iran is one country that has not gotten respect for more than half a century. So they want that bomb. And after what we have done to them - you can see thier point.

Posted by: exclab on April 13, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK


CMDICELY: It occurs to me that the tenuous threat scenarios like this from the Administration's shills are likely not even intended as any kind of analysis. They are advertising.

Exactly right. It's the threat itself that matters. The origins of it are interchangeable, like the various pseudo-diseases pharmaceutical companies promise to protect us from with their army of chemicals. It's the same with the endless list of our potential enemies, except that we are sold real armies who must be equipped by the military-industrial complex, that fascist group of legal persons known as corporations. Because they do indeed rule the world and always hunger for more, they must be fed a diet of real persons. At present, there is a very large meal of Muslims whetting their appetites. Avoiding a global war against Islam will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 13, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

So after nuclear power is banned from the planet how do you suggest industrialized countries power themselves. Should they burn fossil fuels or put up windmills or use solar rays? What is the feasibility of windmills or solar rays to power, say, China?

How much environmental degredation would building solar farms cause? Wind farms?

While we're at it, let's ban fire.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

We must beware the menace of monolithic Islamism!

You can start by treating Muslims and Muslim-majority nations as individuals. The western response to Muslims is monolithic as well. Kill them or pay them off.

Posted by: enozinho on April 13, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Helprin's last line offers a return to sanity:

"Our problem in Iraq has been delusion and lack of foresight. Iran is bigger and more powerful. What a pity it would be either to do nothing or once again to lurch forward with neither strategy nor thought."

So, he seems to be holding out for another (Republican) administration to take up his scenario seriously, since there is not a chance the Bush Admin will forge ahead on Iran with either strategy or thought.

Posted by: Portland blue on April 13, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple: first they drive out the Americans, then they contest for supremacy among themselves.

Hitler believed that two long-term enemies would not collaborate against him: Britain and Russia. He also believed that the premier capitalist country and premier Communist country would not collaborate against him: US and USSR. He was wrong both ways.

Improbable? Who knows? Possible? For sure.

Posted by: republicrat on April 13, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

you are right. Arabs dislike us if not hate us. They constantly try to change the name of the Persian Gulf to "the Gulf" or even "The Arabian Gulf" , From Bin Laden point of view Shias are as bad as Jews. Sadam started the was in 1980 with the successful strategy of making it an ethnic war of Arabs and Persians and he said he wants to finish the unfinished war of 1400 years ago when the Arabs concurred the Persian empire and tried to stop Persians from speaking it and of course were defeated at the end, and Sadam had the support of Saudis, Kuwait and every other Arab leader, even Yaser Arafat, with the exception of Hafez Asad of Syria who had long time rivalry with Saddam. So, no, Iran cannot ever unit Arabs behind herself, Iran is seen as an enemy and a danger by Arabs almost as they see Israel as an enemy. In fact, every year in the Arab summit they call on two countries to leave the occupied land of Arabs (referring to Palestine and a few Islands in the Persian Gulf that UAE claims is hers) those two nations are Iran and Israel.

Posted by: Bahman Kalbasi on April 13, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, though, the BATF and Secret Service fall under the purview of the Treasury Service, so it uses force quite a lot. Posted by: Stefan

Heyzeus fucking Christ. I feel like Tiger Woods this morning (though I certainly don't putt any where like him even on his "spaz" days).

I wasn't aware that the BATF and the SS were part of the U.S. military and sharp-end-of-the-stick extensions of U.S. foreign policy when it stops talking to people and starts blowing them up.

It seems some sort of Asperger syndrome has infected this site.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: Yeah, Winter's Tale and A Soldier of the Great War are two of my favorite novels ever. So it's always depressing to be reminded that Helprin is also a full-blown Kool-Aid-drinking wingnut. Kind of like James Lileks, who was pretty damn funny before he lost his mind post 9/11.
Posted by: Shem on April 13, 2006 at 12:24 PM|

Fans of Winter's Tale should go read Little, Big by John Crowley, and then contemplate the fact that it was published two years before Winter's Tale. Won the World Fantasy Award, too, but was largely ignored by the "respectable" literary world, which then proceed to fawn all over Mark Helprin for Winter's Tale.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060937939/qid=1144948645/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-4410479-9131849?v=glance&s=books

(John Crowley, of course, eventually got promoted to the ranks of literary respectability, and the arbiters of taste and worthiness have forgotten they ever sneered at him as a mere genre writer.)

Posted by: Lis Carey on April 13, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Methinks Helprin's been playing a little too much BATTLEFIELD 2.

Posted by: tequila on April 13, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Methinks Helprin's been playing a little too much BATTLEFIELD 2.

haha, yeah, it's the MEC(Middle Eastern Coalition). Although I think they probably chose the name because pitting the US vs. Iraq in a video game was a little too heavy.

Posted by: enozinho on April 13, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pat,
You're good at the name calling. "(B)ony girl arms?"

You, sir, are a sexist.

How dare you!

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

"...close ally of our greatest enemy"

Hmmm... Why do you think of Iran as an enemy?

As far as I can tell, they haven't started any wars or invaded any neighbors in 100 years or more.

Ah yes, the Israeli connection... another dragging of the US into a war supporting a religous/aparthied state. Great.

Posted by: Buford on April 13, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

I do so love the way I can invoke so many of you to type your pat answers to nearly anything by simply pressing the appropriate buttons.

Mention Reagan and I get insults about "Dear Leader" and winning the Cold War by himself.

I'll bet if I tapped just below your knee cap you'd tell me about the advantages of socialized medicine.

Tee hee hee.

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Turkey, a NATO member and prospective EU member joining a coalition against the West? How does crap like this get published in the Washington Post?

Posted by: Ricky Barnhart on April 13, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

How much environmental degredation would building solar farms cause? Wind farms?

While we're at it, let's ban fire.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: Birkel on April 13, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The presisent has claimed war powers. Why has there not been any constructive use of these war powers? Why not a Manhatten project for energy independence? Cover Greenland and northern Canada with wind generators. There is a super volcano under Yellowstone that scientists say can destroy half the continent if it blows. Tap the energy with geothermal plants. Russia has vast areas than can used for wind farms. Fusion must be pursued much more vigorously. But research programs have been gutted. Expecting the private sector to invest in these new technologies is insane when they are making record profits off the petro economy.

Posted by: bblog on April 13, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell, they haven't started any wars or invaded any neighbors in 100 years or more.

I couldn't believe it when all this nonsense began heating up, and the White House had the audacity to term Iran the greatest threat to U.S. security in the world. Deja vu all over again. Mushroom clouds over Akron!

Ah yes, the Israeli connection... another dragging of the US into a war supporting a religous/aparthied state. Great. Posted by: Buford

Exactly!

It's well past time to have kick Israel's ass in line. Make nice with the Palestinians or cut off Israel's annual billions of dollars in aid. Israel has been a drag on our foreign policy for thirty years now.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: I do so love the way I can invoke so many of you to type your pat answers to nearly anything by simply pressing the appropriate buttons.

In other words you are impressed by your own ability to slavishly regurgitate scripted, programmed right-wing drivel-points which are immediately shot down for the garbage that they are.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really curious as to how the Arab countries view Iran getting the bomb. They ought to be messing their pants, it'd seem to me. After Iran gets the bomb, it'd be "you poke me with a stick, I run over you with a bulldozer" time.

I think they're like Europe. Iran with a bomb is a very messy extraordinarily undesriable thing. But since the good old US of A is willing to do the heavy lifting, they are content to sit back and watch.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Could somebody tell me exactly what we are supposed to get from fighting all these preemptive wars in the oil patch? I might have missed something someplace, but we are applying 18th and 19th century foreign policy approaches to the 21st century. When the Europeans, Japanese and the US were trying to tie up natural resources by occupying poor countries we were not living in the world of globalization. It made some sense to attempt to protect the resources from industrial competitors in Europe, Japan or America.

The world has changed since the 19th century. Colonies have failed universally because they are just too damned expensive to maintain. They don't provide much return on investment.

If we should have learned anything from the last 15 years it should be that the world's economy is totally inter-dependent. Everybody sells to everybody else. Nobody has a choice. The House of Saud, Iranians, and the rest need customers. They need us as much as we need them. No matter how crazy some middle eastern or south american potentate might try to sell himself to his constituents, he will soon realize that he needs the money he is being paid for the oil. An American army of occupation is just a waste of American treasure.

The correct response to declining world oil supplies is not to use our military to occupy foreign countries like Iraq or Iran, it is to use our scientific and engineering community to reduce our dependence on foreign crude. Any other approach is simply not going to work and is going to be an unnecessary distraction. After all what have we gained in Iraq. What would we have gained if everything had gone swimmingly and the natives had proved to be receptive to a foreign occupier?

In short the Neo-con approach is not new. It is good old fashioned colonialism in a world where colonies don't work.

The Iranian discussion we ought to be having is what happens the day after we roll into Teran? And the day after than? And the day after that? Could we even hope to hold it? A wise man learns from his mistakes. To learn anything you first have to admit you have made some. I am not sure the Administration's foreign policy team is capable of admitting its mistakes. Are you?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 13, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to second the "what qualifies Mark Helprin" comment above.

These days he's mostly a "satirical novelist," and not a very funny one, mainly because of his classical pretensions.

I demand space in the Post for a response from Carl Hiaasen!

Posted by: theo on April 13, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK


BIRKEL: Tee hee hee.

"Bony arms" and a little-girl giggle, eh? Hmmm.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 13, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

More hysterical bed-wetting from the cultists.

Never having understood a situation that they didn't think would be made better with sabre rattling and/or bombing -- while we're not even at war with the country in question -- it defies belief that anyone would get suckered into this conversation again.

Iran could get nukes? Get in line, boys. North Korea, an even-more unpredictable regime, has 'em now. Pakistan, a country nearly always on the brink of failure and war, has them. India, a country that despises Pakistan, has them. Russia, a semi-successful state with a proto-fascist bent has them. The U.S., fronted by a semi-literate buffoon and led by messianic fools who've already botched up two wars has them. You worry about a second-rate backwater like Iran? Then you just ain't paying a lick of attention.

You worry about a country that most sane people believe might have them in 10 years? Fucking amazing.

So, let me try and deconstruct the argument: Despite their legal right to develop enriched uranium (as a signatory of the Nonproliferation agreement), the U.S. 'leadership' starts floating balloons about using 'tactical' nukes to destroy underground labs that may not exist and that live mostly in the fevered brains of the same fucking idiots who led us straight into pre-emptive war and the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history?

And this is the serious position? Look, I hate the douchebag who runs Iran. He seems like just another god-thumping True Believer. But one of the sole reasons he exists in any meaningful way is because of the lunatic "Axis of Evil" bullshit that our boy spewed out (that, and the war). In one fell swoop, Bush managed to snuff out a real reform movement in Iran and give ammo to the Iranian masses who just don't want to get pushed around by the Great Satan (who had just invaded their neighbor for no good reason).

And now the solution? Bomb them.

This country has become a living ruin. Thanks.


Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on April 13, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK


RON BYERS: The Iranian discussion we ought to be having is what happens the day after we roll into Tehran?

Not so sure they're planning on rolling in this time, at least not right away -- especially if they use nukes.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 13, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat,

You're leaving out a bit of history with respect to Hitler's miscalculation. Hitler's three great enemies ended up cooperating against him in no small part because once he was at war with one of them (England) he proceeded to declare war on the other two (Russia and the USA). I think that we could figure it out on our own, even without Hitler's example to guide us, that declaring war on two of your enemies while at war with the third is a bad way to keep them from cooperating. Nonetheless it would seem that this administration may be trying exactly that idiotic approach to keeping our middle eastern opponents apart.

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

As I've said before, I don't think that amping up the saber rattling is a wise idea, but this is a reasonable, if fairly conventional, counterargument.

Arkin appears to think that Tehran doesn't believe the US is serious about a military option, and that open discussion of war planning would help convince Tehran that the US is serious, and would therefore (beneficially?) influence Tehran's decisions.

That assumes that Tehran also believes that the US is politically willing and able to carry out such plans. Maybe Arkin thinks that if Rumsfeld et. al. started talking about it, it would somehow demonstrate the necessary political will.

That could easily backfire with the country in its present mood ("Iraq redux", "rush to war", etc) and with that precedent, it would likely be extremely difficult or impossible to overcome later. The administration probably knows that. Regardless of how serious the military option, their best bet is to keep the saber-rattling to a minimum.

Posted by: has407 on April 13, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

jayarbee

If the boys in the Whitehouse aren't planning on rolling in, then what is the point. The US military could turn Iran into a glass parking lot with a couple of boomers and a B2 from Missouri. Hell they Airforce could do it without using the Navy Boomers. In short building a few nukes is a wonderful way for a country like Iran to waste resources. They will never use one.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 13, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

oops, sorry, previous post is the wrong thread.

Posted by: has407 on April 13, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

That is the stupidest thing I've ever read. This guy has been playing Axis & Aliies and Risk waaaay too much.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on April 13, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Alexander Wolfe: "That is the stupidest thing I've ever read. This guy has been playing Axis & Allies and Risk waaaay too much."

Not only that -- he apparently gets paid for it, too!

Unbeknownst to us at the time, our nation moved through the proverbial looking glass in December 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court made its decision to void Florida's vote and hand the presidency to George W. Bush. As a result, we now find ourselves as unwitting extras in a real-time Fellini film.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 13, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
BEYOND SABER RATTLING.

Bloomberg reports "Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days" and liberals like Kevin Drum are complaining about saber rattling? *Snicker*

That was one official being quoted in that report.

CNN, on the other hand, reports U.S. intelligence: Iran years away from nukes. Among those quoted is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence.

I think the CNN one is a lot closer to reality than the Bloomberg one.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus on April 13, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Iran will find out the same thing Pakistan and India found out,Once you have THE Bomb you now have a thousand bombs pointed back at you and it makes the people think diffrent about actually using a bomb.

Posted by: Rightminded on April 13, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking weakling coward wingers! The Soviet Union was a WAY bigger threat than Iran can EVER be. Iran with nukes is NOT that big a deal. Having one or four nukes (in about 20 years if that is their goal: to have nukes) is NOT a counter to Western power. It IS a counter to Middle East countries.

Also, the Middle East is NOT OURS. We have no inherent right to "dominate" the ME just as the ME has no right to dominate the US. They are independent nations with full and equal rights to do their country "thing" as they see fit. It is not our right to dictate or lord over them. They are not our property, their territories do not belong to us. Period.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on April 13, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

CNN, on the other hand, reports U.S. intelligence: Iran years away from nukes. Among those quoted is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence.

I think the CNN one is a lot closer to reality than the Bloomberg one. Posted by: Nemo Ignotus

Mike Bloomberg must have some trick up his sleeve how this can benefit NYC. The official U.S. line as of a week or so ago was 8 years before Iran would have nuclear capability. Then again, maybe the predominately Shia Persians are cleverer than the, until three years ago, Sunni Arab controlled Iraqis. All they could do was launch a chemical attack in 45 minutes.

I'm sure glad 'ol Harry Reid is all over this nonsense. Looks like he's doing his best Tom Daschelle impression.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK
I don't see how anyone can look at the history of Iran and not conclude that there is a very real potential in Iran for truly reckless, uncivilized acts.

All regimes -- the USA certainly moreso than Iraq -- have demonstrated both the inclination and the propensity for truly reckless, uncivilized acts.

Certainly the USSR demonstrated at least as much and far more capacity for such acts than Iran has ever had, yet they didn't show any propensity for casually throwing nukes around. Ditto for Communist China. Ditto for Pakistan.

This leads me to the conclusion that the potential -- the capacity and inclination -- for truly reckless, uncivilized acts in general is pretty different from the propensity for using nuclear weapons except in defense against existential threats (an act historically only engaged in by the United States, it is worth noting.)

So, taking the former as a proxy for the latter doesn't seem very smart.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think the CNN one is a lot closer to reality than the Bloomberg one.

I believe a more accurate parsing of the "16-day" scenario is that when the Iranians expand their laboratory-based 164-centrifuge system into a 54,000-centrifuge system, they could produce a bomb in 16 days. It might take them years to create the 54,000-centrifuge system, however. In other words, if they had the proper technology, they could do it, but they don't so they can't.

Posted by: Skeptic on April 13, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

xyz has a great comment.

This is not remotely possible.

Posted by: Chris on April 13, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Beyond Saber Rattling"

For the NeoCons, 'Saber rattling' is not the term, it's more like 'Massaging Your Weapon'.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on April 13, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

"In short building a few nukes is a wonderful way for a country like Iran to waste resources. They will never use one."

Nuclear bombs are not built to be used. They are a relatively cheap way to make your country immune from non-suicially-idiotic attack. Much cheaper and more effective than maintaining a non-nuclear military.

Posted by: jefff on April 13, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Quiz: What is the only country to use a Nuclear bomb on another country?

Posted by: Rightminded on April 13, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I was at a Washington dinner a couple of years ago that was sponsored by the Arab ambassadors to the US. I was seated next to the Turkish ambassador's wife. I never heard such utter contempt for Arabs. About the nicest thing she said about them was that they were Turkey's little brothers who would be wise if they did as Turks suggested.

I'm willing to bet that the Iranians have as little regard for Arabs as do the Turks.

That Iran can unite the Arab/Islamic world under its leadership is about as likely as Britain using its nuclear arsenal as a lever to compel France and Germany to do as Britain demands.

Posted by: Auto on April 13, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

The talk about bombing Iran is either (a) a major leak of a strategic option the administration is seriously considering, or (b) a managed leak intended as a bluff.

What interests me is the complete lack of discussion relating to the fact that bombing Iran is an act of war and requires action by the Congress. Does anybody think the Congress would roll over quietly and pass a resolution giving W the authority to use whatever force he deems necessary against Iran? Before the mid-term elections?

Does the President think that the fact that we are in a war in Iraq means that he can declare war against other countries without participation from the Congress? Unless he does what does it all amount to? It is either planning for an action that is unlikely to get approval and won't happen or it is running a bluff with no credibility.

So, it seems the administration thinks or, at least, is willing to argue that the Prez can declare war without the Congress. That scares me but does not surprise me. What amazes me is that nobody in the media seems to think this is worth a comment.

Have we all unconsciously conceded to the President the powers of an autocrat?

Posted by: ursus on April 13, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Iran with nukes is NOT that big a deal."

Any country with nukes is a big deal, and a country with nukes that is in the grip of religious fanaticism, and in such a volatile region as the middle-east, is a huge deal.

Posted by: e1 on April 13, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

e1 wrote: Any country with nukes is a big deal, and a country with nukes that is in the grip of religious fanaticism, and in such a volatile region as the middle-east, is a huge deal.

The only country that currently fits that description is Israel.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Damn straight, Israel is the only one that fits that description. Now we are supposed to go to war, not for our own security, or for our true allies, but for that shitty little country? So what if they get in a nuclear exchange with Iran? Why should we care? What does it have to do with us?

Read the Walt and Mearsheimer study to see how far the neocons and the rest of the repugs have gone in selling their souls (and our security) to the Israelis.

Posted by: karen on April 13, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

karen wrote: Now we are supposed to go to war, not for our own security, or for our true allies, but for that shitty little country?

All I said is that Israel is currently the only "country with nukes" in "such a volatile region as the middle-east".

Your claim that the US would go to war for Israel's benefit is idiotic bullshit and you are a demented, raving antisemitic creep.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 13, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: trex on April 13, 2006 at 12:50 PM

Why, thank you, trex!

Posted by: obscure on April 13, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Nuclear bombs are not built to be used. They are a relatively cheap way to make your country immune from non-suicially-idiotic attack. Much cheaper and more effective than maintaining a non-nuclear military.

Ah yes. The peacable Iranians. The Rodney Kings of the Middle East. Ghandi++

Nukes are also used to intimidate and dominate your neighbors. In short, sabre rattling. Russia was an economic shithole during the whole cold war. The only reason there was any sort of parity was the nukes.

It's bad enough Pakistan has them, as there are way too many fundies in that country. Iran? Not good.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 13, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't think it would be long before SecularAnimist displayed his virulent anti-semitism once again.

Posted by: jchone on April 13, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any real chance that Iran could ever unite the Islamic world under its leadership?

No. Next question please.

Actually, nothing can unite the Islamic world, much less the Arab world. As Fouad Ajami explained in his book The Arab Predicament, Pan-Arabism died with the 1967 Israeli war, and has been utterly dead ever since, though all Arab leaders continue to say they are 100% dedicated to it.

Posted by: Len on April 13, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

MSR: You're leaving out a bit of history with respect to Hitler's miscalculation

Sure. But war has provided plenty of examples of military actions that somebody or other thought were highly unlikely.

Southern Turkey is already inhospitable to Kurds and the Turkish government might be equally inhospitable to the US allies of the Kurds receiving supplies through Turkey (they blocked the American 4th infantry division from invading Iraq); Iran could use missiles (or submarines, or both) to close the strait of Hormuz to shipping; if Iraqi Shi'ites tried hard enough, they could interdict supplies in the south. Iran and Syria could ally for the purpose of harrassing US forces (now short of supplies) in western Iraq. At that point lots of Muslims of all varieties might feel emboldened to attack American forces wherever they found them. A formal alliance would not even be necessary.

It's about as unlikely as the American army cooperating with the French navy to defeat the British army under Cornwallis (even while the British navy commanded the seas)-- but it isn't impossible.

Posted by: republicrat on April 13, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist is an asshole. He fits in nicely with anti-semites like "karen" and the nutters in the Iranian government.

Posted by: cranky on April 13, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Keeping the U.S. military strong and capable is a very good idea. But the idea that Iran is a bunch of crazies is itself crazy. Ahmadinejad is yanking our chains much as Chavez is, down in Venezuela banging on the table in front of a television camera, and we shouldn't fall for it. We should strongly resist those in the United States who suggest that Iran is some type of new "total suicide" country that will risk all, by firing a rocket at Israel. Iran is going to be a nuclear power someday no matter what happens, and Mr. Helprin is correct at least in guessing that bombing them might only hasten a unified jihad, where none has yet arisen. It therefore follows that we should move toward a peaceful Cold-War type deterrence/stand-off, and MANAGE it. The region will have a Shiite Iran and Iraq in contention with their Sunni neighbors, and plenty of opportunities for diplomacy and learning by everyone. Indeed, if the Iranians gain a little pride by being a nuclear power, they may start to turn-around their psychology on more important matters, like how to get to a world where everybody can survive, and start that reformation of Islam which the neocons have so fatuously called for. What is unclear, what we have no signal of yet, is whether the U.S. Administration has the requisite psychological depth to understand this.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on April 13, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist is an asshole. He fits in nicely with anti-semites like "karen" and the nutters in the Iranian government.

I beg to differ.

Read what he writes carefully.

Posted by: obscure on April 13, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: Nukes are also used to intimidate and dominate your neighbors. In short, sabre rattling.

Nukes--both during the cold war and of late--have been used to maintain equilibrium. They were never a credible offensive--intimidation or domination--weapon as the focus on, e.g., "nuclear deterrence" and "survivability" suggest.

Attempts to make them more credible or flexible have generally been met with resistance (Cuba plus-or-minus, flexible response, and neutron weapons come to mind). Granted, that doesn't mean Iran would treat nukes the same way.

Posted by: has407 on April 13, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Read what he writes carefully."

I have.

Yep, he's an asshole.

Posted by: Ender on April 13, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bush tried to provoke Sadam to strike at US aircraft by painting them as UN aircraft. As Karl Rove stated He (Sadam) didnt take the bait.

Could it be that Iran is trying to provoke Bush into attacking Iran so that Iran can unload everything it has on Israel?

While Bush claims to protect Israel, his actions may lead to Israel being vaporized.

Why does Bush hate Israel?

Posted by: Sideline on April 13, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK
Ah yes. The peacable Iranians. The Rodney Kings of the Middle East.

Both the rhetoric and the actions of the Iranian leadership has been less aggressive toward foreign regimes, on the whole, than that of the Soviet Union, which was formally committed to the global spread and domination of its ideology as a regime goal and which actually invaded quite a few foreign states in order to implement that goal.

Yet even the Soviets never nuked anybody.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 13, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Both the rhetoric and the actions of the Iranian leadership has been less aggressive toward foreign regimes, on the whole, than that of the Soviet Union ..."

RAFSANJANI SAYS MUSLIMS SHOULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPON AGAINST ISRAEL

"TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Irans most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only".

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran."


Posted by: Teaneck on April 13, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

America exists to support it's military-industrial complex.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on April 13, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Teaneck -- The tag line on that piece is old, tired and retired. Get a decent translation. And read the rest of the speech.

Posted by: has407 on April 13, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat,

Indeed almost any such thing is, in some sense, possible, but neither pan Arabic nor pan Muslim cooperation against the US is particularly likely. Nor is such an alliance likely to endure for long. My point in filling out the history with regard to Germany was that creating such an alliance, or even uncoordinated simultaneous action, against the US would probably require a concerted effort on our part to create such an alliance. Oddly enough the Bush foreign policy is about the best chance we have of creating such an anti-US alliance.

Posted by: MSR on April 13, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Teaneck -- The tag line on that piece is old,"

Huh? It's from 2001. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was then and is now one of the most influential Iranian clerics and politicians (they tend to be the same thing). He was the President of Iran from 1989 to 1997, and still serves in its government. The new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has also called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Clearly, nuclear weapons are safe in the hands of the Iranian government.

Posted by: Teaneck on April 13, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Teaneck -- Yeah, I know who Rafsanjani is. He panders to the extreme at times, but he's also been strikingly moderate at other times.

In any case, like I said, go read the rest of the speech--or several versions to get an idea of how ambigious even the better translations are (e.g., here or here).

It ain't roses, but "Use Nuclear Weapons Against Israel" is a far from complete or accurate.

Posted by: has407 on April 13, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know who IPS is, but their reporter (a) needs to learn grammatical english, and (b) need to learn how to think.

Saying that an Islamic bomb would stalemate colonialism because a nuclear war would destroy Israel and only damage the Muslim world isn't calling for the destruction of Israel.

Its saying that having nuclear arms would be a check on Israel since Israel would be no longer act from a position of overwhelming strength.

The rhetoric is much like what the Chinese used to describe the potency of their arsenal since a nuclear exchange would only damage them while annihilating an enemy, and its much like the image that all the major powers tried to present even if they didn't come out and say it outright.

Hardly anything unusual.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

America exists to support it's military-industrial complex.

That reminds me:

If Eugene Jarecki's 'Why We Fight' is playing at a theatre in your locale I strongly recommend it.

Posted by: obscure on April 14, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know who IPS is

Inter Press Service. They can be good because they're one of the few wires to use lots of local reporters rather than Euro correspondents. On the other hand, you have failures of comprehension like the above - deliberate sensation-seeking misconstrual of the speaker's words. Tends to be a bit common in the third-world press, which is too often still stuck at the "yellow" stage.

We would never see that sort of thing on an American network, obviously. ;)

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 14, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

In this case it's the "Iran Press Service", which seems to be a dumping ground for all sorts of stuff--some good, some bad.

Posted by: has407 on April 14, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

From the article: "draw out and damage any American onslaught with his thousands of surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft guns; by a concentrated air and naval attack to sink one or more major American warships"

Ive heard that before, and it wasn't true of the Russians in '82, or the Iraqis in '91 or '03.

Aside from the improbability (to say the least) that Saudi, much less Turkey, joining with Iran, and skipping over repulicrat's complete ignorance of Turkey, let's look at the practicalities.

Iran's medium range missiles are hardly enough to reach Europe and certainly can't get near the US.

Iraq's T72 tanks are no match for anything the West has. (It is worth noting that Rumfield was right in one thing: it is absurdly easy for the US to militarily overmatch almost any other country. Even as extended as we are in that other place, we could cut up Iraq in a matter of weeks, if not days.)

The Turkish and Saudish airforces' mainstay are modern US fighters. Without US mechanics and replacement parts, they would rapidly become very expensive junk.

Furthermore the Turkish economy is very dependent on the west, and they are unlikely to do anything to cut those ties. Of course, the same applies to most of the rest of the Arab world.

Posted by: mcdruid on April 14, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

To give Helprin credit, he does seem to recognize what a morass Iraq is. But that is obvious to even the meanest intelligence.

Posted by: mcdruid on April 14, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Iran could have a nuculear weapon tomorrow. They just need to get in touch with the right Russian, Korean or Pakistani. The nutters are going crazy over the enriched uranium and yet they do nothing about the hundreds of nukes possibly available for purchase or open to theft.
While a nuculear Iran would certainly be a detterent to invasion they pose a very small threat to the US. The Soviets could destroy the US at anytime for over 30 years and MAD prevented this. If a nuculear device goes off in the US or Europe how long before Tehran is totally destroyed? It is much more probable that Kim Jong takes a shot a S. Korea or the PRC invades Taiwan than Iran contributes to a nuculear attack on the US. As with everything else in the Bush administration foreign policy is only used as a lever on domestic politics.

Posted by: Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla on April 14, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

You're right-Iran getting the bomb would just split the Muslim world, and lead the "Arab" Sunni part to get a bomb of their own. They would probably end up using them on each other.

Posted by: bob h on April 14, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Is there any real chance that Iran could ever unite the Islamic world under its leadership?

No. Next question please.

You could have made the same statement about Iraq. How on earth could a minority Sunni population ever manage to unite a cobbled together country of Kurds and Shia? Well, Saddam did it. And it happens in plenty of countries.

There's "hey, let's put on a show" and then there's "unite or die" unite.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Saddam did not cobble together Iraq, the British did after pushing out the Turks. Saddam managed to keep it together, barely, with an established police and military force. That situation bares no relation to creating a united muslim world from what exists now.

Posted by: MSR on April 14, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Saddam did not cobble together Iraq, the British did after pushing out the Turks. Saddam managed to keep it together, barely, with an established police and military force. That situation bares no relation to creating a united muslim world from what exists now.

Saddam got his jumpt start from the Brits, sure. But if not for us, he would have had Kuwait. Designs on Saudi Arabia? I bet he did. Think he would have liked to have put Iran under his thumb through some sort of favorable peace? You bet.

I doubt that Iran is going to unite the middle east. But I also think that people are arguing that of course they won't unite, they don't like each other. Well, the history books are full of empires brought together and kept together by force. It happens over and over and over.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

The Arabs have been trying to create a united Arab world since at least the '50s. That never worked. The notion of creating a united Muslim world is preposterous, and if it could be done just by getting a nuke, Pakistan would have done it over the last 8 years.

The Islamic bomb already exists. Big whoop. Mark Helprin is a young-adult novelist, and should remain such.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 14, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the history books are full of empires brought together and kept together by force. It happens over and over and over.

You live in another epoch. The reason Saddam lost Gulf War I was precisely because he was trying to live in an era of territorial conquest that no longer existed. His grab for Kuwait was almost at the limits of plausibility: Kuwait really had once been a province of the same area that became Iraq, it had a tiny population, and its national self-consciousness was limited to a small elite class, so there were few interested in fighting for it. Even so, he was crushed. The world does not tolerate military territorial expansionism any more, certainly not in regions people actually give a shit about. We even forced Rwanda and Uganda to pull out of fucking eastern Congo. The whole vocabulary of Iran "using a bomb to unite the Muslim (or Arab or Mideastern or whatever) world" is drawn from early-adolescent fantasy-adventure novels. Might as well worry about dragonriders and lamp-bound genies.

We have nukes. And yet we are unable to subdue a tiny, pathetic country 1/15th our size.

The age of empires is long, long, long over. The last remotely successful one was the USSR, and they ruled over peoples which had no political self-consciousness before they arrived (Uzbekistan etc.), or which had been flattened by World War II and had substantial internal communist movements (E Europe), and which they vastly outnumbered both in population and in military might. And they still lasted just 70 years in Central Asia and 30+ in Eastern Europe. As far as Iran...the whole idea is beyond ridiculous.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 14, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Ursus -
What interests me is the complete lack of discussion relating to the fact that bombing Iran is an act of war and requires action by the Congress. Does anybody think the Congress would roll over quietly and pass a resolution giving W the authority to use whatever force he deems necessary against Iran? Before the mid-term elections?

Hah! Ya almost had me going for second!

Posted by: SqueakyRat on April 14, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK
Saddam got his jumpt start from the Brits, sure. But if not for us, he would have had Kuwait.

If not for us, his military would have done even less well against Iran and Kuwait would have lost of all its income and been unable to keep funding Iraq during that war, eliminating the debt dispute with between Kuwait and Iraq that was at the center of the motivation for the invasion, as well as reducing Iraq's capacity and inclination to invade anyone.

Of course, that would have been as bad for Kuwait as the invasion, but then, when you sponsor an unprovoked war of aggression, you probably ought to expect to pay a price for it.

Think he would have liked to have put Iran under his thumb through some sort of favorable peace? You bet.

Yeah, and I'd like to be given fee simple title to all of North America, so what? Without us having supported him during the war, and protected his other funding sources (notably Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) for the war of aggression against Iran, he would have had an even less favorable peace than he actually ended up getting with Iran. What he might have liked in that regard is pretty much irrelevant, as even with our support he was unable to get it.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

jchone wrote: I didn't think it would be long before SecularAnimist displayed his virulent anti-semitism once again.

cranky wrote: SecularAnimist is an asshole. He fits in nicely with anti-semites like "karen" and the nutters in the Iranian government.


I have repeatedly condemned antisemitism, specifically the comments of "karen", in this very thread.

Perhaps you genuinely think that the mere mention of the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that currently has nuclear weapons constitutes "antisemitism".

Or perhaps you are stupid, ignorant liars.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If not for us, his military would have done even less well against Iran and Kuwait...

Really? What kinds of tanks did he use? Aircraft? Ships? Etc.? I'll give you a hint. The maintenance manuals are mostly cyrillic and french.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

The age of empires is long, long, long over.

That is one of the more dangerous thoughts I've heard here. Ranks up there with believing that Jesus is coming in our time. Technology changes, humans don't. Whatever it is within us that lets empires grow is still there.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Well, the history books are full of empires brought together and kept together by force. It happens over and over and over.

It also happens that they fail to even form over and over and over, especially in the modern era. Also, in those instances where empires have been successfully created, the creation has generally taken decades or centuries. The panicky instance that we must act now is foolish.

Posted by: MSR on April 14, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, and I'd like to be given fee simple title to all of North America, so what? Without us having supported him during the war, and protected his other funding sources (notably Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) for the war of aggression against Iran, he would have had an even less favorable peace than he actually ended up getting with Iran.

Just how critical was our support? We were interested in the two beating each other down and making clear there was no clear winner.

Question...which country's missile hit the USS Stark? There's a good answer to how cozy we were.

Interesting what-if...if Saddam had nukes, would he have used them on Iran? He used chemical weapons on them (and on his own people), so he was willing to cross percieved thresholds. I could easily have seen him doing a nuke test in the desert close to the border, then allowing Iran to sue for an unfavorable peace.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Really? What kinds of tanks did he use? Aircraft? Ships? Etc.? I'll give you a hint. The maintenance manuals are mostly cyrillic and french.

And the money used to buy those tanks, aircraft and ships was most decidedly a shade of green:

U.S. support for Iraq blossomed further in 1983 when the United States provided economic aid to Iraq in the form of Commodities Credit Corporation guarantees to purchase U.S. agricultural products ($400 million in 1983, $513 million in 1984, and climbing to $652 million in 1987). This allowed Iraq to use money it otherwise would have spent on food to buy weapons and other military supplies. With Iraq off the terrorism list, the U.S. also provided quasi-military aid.

An example of U.S. sales during this time of germ warfare and other weapons to Iraq included "deadly pathogens," with government approval, some from the army's center for germ research in Fort Detrick. The British government also conceded after the Scott Inquiry Report was published that it continued to grant licenses to British firms to export materials to Iraq usable for biological weapons at least until December 1996.

The Reagan administration allowed the Iraqis to buy a wide variety of "dual use" equipment and materials from American suppliers. The shopping list included a computerized database for Saddam's security police, helicopters to transport Iraqi officials, television cameras for video surveillance applications, chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), and numerous shipments of "bacteria/fungi/protozoa" to the IAEC. The bacteria cultures were used to make biological weapons, including anthrax.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 14, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Also, in those instances where empires have been successfully created, the creation has generally taken decades or centuries.

Alexander the Great did pretty good in his tenure, considering he died at the age of 33. Yea, his empire fragmented with his loss, but that's a separate issue. Ghengis Khan extended his empire in a lifetime.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

When I said modern era, I meant historically not geologically. Also, I said generally. Yes there are a few exceptions pre Rome, but not many.

Posted by: MSR` on April 14, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

When I said modern era, I meant historically not geologically. Also, I said generally. Yes there are a few exceptions pre Rome, but not many.

OK, look at pre-WWI. It was all about the empire. I'm guessing your definition of modern age means post WWI.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK
Really? What kinds of tanks did he use? Aircraft? Ships? Etc.? I'll give you a hint. The maintenance manuals are mostly cyrillic and french.

Yeah, and how'd he buy those weapons? With the money loaned to him by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia because those countries wanted Iran attacked, but didn't want to get their hands dirty. And how did those countries avoid getting their oil income destroyed in retaliation? An undeclared US naval war agaisnt Iran to protect them from the consequences of their sponsorship of aggression.

(Of course, there was some more direct US aid, as well, but it was probably a smaller factor than our intervention to protect Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from suffering any harm for supporting Iraq.)

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I have repeatedly condemned antisemitism

You have a long history of making anti-semitic statements. Your latest comment that Israel--a secular, progressive democracy--is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is just the latest example.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"In any case, like I said, go read the rest of the speech--or several versions to get an idea of how ambigious even the better translations are"

Huh? The BBC World Service translation is virtually identical to the one I quoted from the Iran Press Service. And whatever ambiguity there is, Rafsanjani is clearly floating the idea of a nuclear attack on Israel. The Iranian leadership, including the current President, have repeatedly made statements to the effect that Israel does not have a right to exist and that it should be "wiped off the map."

And yet various people here are making the absurd claim that a nuclear-armed Iran would not pose a serious risk to peace and stability.

Posted by: Teaneck on April 14, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, and how'd he buy those weapons? With the money loaned to him by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia because those countries wanted Iran attacked, but didn't want to get their hands dirty. And how did those countries avoid getting their oil income destroyed in retaliation? An undeclared US naval war agaisnt Iran to protect them from the consequences of their sponsorship of aggression.

Gosh, you mean various entities at various times made alliances of convenience that they felt were in their greater self interest at varying moments? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK
Gosh, you mean various entities at various times made alliances of convenience that they felt were in their greater self interest at varying moments?

No, I don't mean any such glittering generality.

What I mean, specifically, is that your stupid comments about what evil Iraq under Saddam would have done without us is particularly stupid because it ignores that without us, he wouldn't have been able to acheive much of the evil he did acheive, and would have lacked the capacity for the later evil you suggest.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
You have a long history of making anti-semitic statements. Your latest comment that Israel--a secular, progressive democracy--is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is just the latest example.

A state which practices formalized religious discrimination in immigration and citizenship and makes questioning the religious character of the state a basis for disqualification of a member or party in its elected ruling body is neither "secular" nor "progressive".

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"A state which practices formalized religious discrimination in immigration and citizenship and makes questioning the religious character of the state a basis for disqualification of a member or party in its elected ruling body is neither "secular" nor "progressive"."

The Law of Return grants to all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. It does not disqualify any non-Jew from doing the same thing. Anyone, regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity, is eligible for Israeli citizenship under Israeli immigration law.

If this is "formalized discrimination," then all countries practise formalized discrimination, and, on your account, no country in the world qualifies as a secular, progressive democracy.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

What I mean, specifically, is that your stupid comments about what evil Iraq under Saddam would have done without us is particularly stupid because it ignores that without us, he wouldn't have been able to acheive much of the evil he did acheive, and would have lacked the capacity for the later evil you suggest.

Oh horseshit. We made it easier, but the idea that we were the difference between Saddam stuck in his little sandbox and Saddam doing what he did is like suggesting lend-lease is how Russia beat Germany. It begs the point that someone else wouldn't have sucked up to Saddam in our place. He certainly managed to convince Soviets and French to sell him lots of weapons. And if we managed to convince him to stay engaged in the meat grinder that was the Iran-Iraq War...good on us.

Your premise that Saddam is what he is because of us is a huge steaming road apple.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Well, I think my point would apply to post Renaissance, and possibly post Rome. Oh, and I meant my geological comment to be in good humor. Reading it again it may not have come off that way. Oops.

Posted by: MSR on April 14, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

jchone: You have a long history of making anti-semitic statements.

I have no such history. I have never in my entire life made one single antisemitic statement.

You are a lying sack of shit.

jchone: Your latest comment that Israel--a secular, progressive democracy--is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is just the latest example.

Criticism of the government of Israel is not antisemitic. Nor is Israel a "secular" state.

Nor can you provide even one single "example" of an antisemitic comment made by me, you lying sack of shit.

A commenter using the handle "e1" wrote, in reference to Iran, that "Any country with nukes is a big deal, and a country with nukes that is in the grip of religious fanaticism, and in such a volatile region as the middle-east, is a huge deal."

I replied: "The only country that currently fits that description is Israel."

Israel is an explicitly religious state, it does have nuclear weapons, and it is located in the "volatile" Middle East. These are simple facts. For you to characterize my statement of these simple facts as "antisemitic" is absurd.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

I would note that the fact that the lying sack of shit posting as "jchone" accuses me of "antisemitism" for making a comment that could be construed as being critical of the government of Israel constitutes acknowledgement by him that Israel is an explicitly religious state and not a secular state. If Israel is just another secular state, then how could criticism of its government possibly be "antisemitic"?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

"You are a lying sack of shit."

You are a virulent anti-semite. You'd have been right at home in Germany about 60 years ago.

"Criticism of the government of Israel is not antisemitic"

You didn't criticize the government. You claimed that Israel is "in the grip of religious fanaticism."

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I think my point would apply to post Renaissance, and possibly post Rome. Oh, and I meant my geological comment to be in good humor. Reading it again it may not have come off that way. Oops.

Maybe I'm just sensitive, because computing my current age involves carbon dating.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK
Your premise that Saddam is what he is because of us

That's not my premise; my premise is that, contrary to your argument that without us Saddam would be much worse, the history of US relations with Saddam is complicated, including quite a lot of direct and indirect support and enabling of his evil, even before he started running Iraq, so that simplistic comments about what he would have done "without us" that are clearly based on selectively eliminating the inhibiting actions like the Gulf War, but not the enabling actions like feeding him the names of people we thought might be Communists or Communist sympathizers in Iraq and hostile to his interests, with the knowledge and intent that he would follow through with summary murder, or our support of his war with Iran, or all the other enabling is simplistic nonsense.

The problem is that you seem incapable of understanding that disagreeing with your simplistic distortion of reality is not the same thing as supporting an opposite and equally simplistic distortion.

I often suspect the right wing would collapse without the support of simple-minded false dichotomies.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK
The Law of Return grants to all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. It does not disqualify any non-Jew from doing the same thing. Anyone, regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity, is eligible for Israeli citizenship under Israeli immigration law.

Not on an equal basis. Jews are preferred.

If this is "formalized discrimination," then all countries practise formalized discrimination,

Yes, they do. All law is formalized discrimination. But only formaliZed discrimination based on religion is inconsistent with being "secular", and such discrimination based on religion is also antithetical do being "progressive".

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

jchone wrote: You are a virulent anti-semite.

You are a liar. I have never in my entire life made one single antisemitic comment. Not one. You cannot give even one single example of an antisemitic comment made by me, because there are none.

You remind me of Don P. Perhaps you are Don P. Like him, you are a cowardly liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

That's not my premise; my premise is that, contrary to your argument that without us Saddam would be much worse...

Huh? I missed that statement. Voices in your head, maybe?

I often suspect the right wing would collapse without the support of simple-minded false dichotomies.

I often think it is the grand failure of the left wing to be such tree bark analyzers that they fail to acknowledge there's a forest about them.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: I often think it is the grand failure of the left wing to be such tree bark analyzers that they fail to acknowledge there's a forest about them.

It's easy enough to "see the forest" with regard to US interests in the Middle East.

Among other names, it is known as the Carter Doctrine, although it dates back to at least 1943, when FDR said the "the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States," and it was broadened by Reagan, with his 1981 "Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine" which declared that not only would the US use military force to "defend" Middle Eastern oil supplies from "external" threats, but would also use military force to maintain the "internal stability" of the region.

However, "acknowledging" that "forest" seems to be more of a problem for Bush supporters than for "the left wing".

It really is all about the oil.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

It really is all about the oil.

If it was all (just) about the oil, we'd be happily propping up Saddam right now. So much more money to be made.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 14, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Teaneck: "...Rafsanjani is clearly floating the idea of a nuclear attack on Israel."

NB: "stalemate", "standstill", and "dead end"; and "clearly" is overstretch regardless of your interpretation. Does that make it a lot better? No. But it's a critical difference when considering future options.

Posted by: has407 on April 14, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Suggesting that the lying sack of shit flinging baseless accusations of antisemitism in my direction under the handle "jchone" was really Don P. seems to have had the Rumplestiltskin Effect.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

It should be pointed out that Israel acquired most of its nuclear weapon technology from America. From traitors.

Posted by: Hostile on April 14, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,
"Not on an equal basis. Jews are preferred."

Numerous countries have preferences in their immigration laws on the basis of parentage or other relationships. Family reunification is a central rationale of U.S. immigration law.

"Yes, they do. All law is formalized discrimination. But only formaliZed discrimination based on religion is inconsistent with being "secular", and such discrimination based on religion is also antithetical do being "progressive"."

No country in the world lacks all formal and informal discrimination on the basis of religion. Even in most countries where church and state are formally separate, certain laws and other public policies favor one religion over another. Your absurd definitions of "secular" and "progressive" are so extreme and exacting that no country in the world would qualify, so your claim that Israel is not secular or progressive would be trivial even if it were true.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,
"I have never in my entire life made one single antisemitic comment."

You have a long history here of making anti-semitic comments, and of attacking Jews and the nation of Israel.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

jchone wrote: You have a long history here of making anti-semitic comments, and of attacking Jews and the nation of Israel.

I have no such history. I have never posted one single comment here attacking Jews or the nation of Israel. You cannot provide even one single example of such a comment from me because there are none.

You are a liar.

You are also a coward, since you choose to hide behind a fake email address "none@none.com" while you post slanderous, defamatory lies.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

You are an anti-semite.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

If it was all (just) about the oil, we'd be happily propping up Saddam right now. So much more money to be made.

RSM,

Do you realize how stupid this remark makes you appear?

One of the indisputable aspects of the war is our piracy of French & Russian contracts.

Posted by: obscure on April 14, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

jchone is an anti-humanist, a mass murderer, and a thief.

Posted by: Hostile on April 14, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist, You are an anti-semite.

Some people do not require evidence for their beliefs.

Many such people are Bush people, for whom abundant evidence of incomptetence, corruption and disaster is meaningless.

Posted by: obscure on April 14, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

jchone: You are an anti-semite.

You are a cowardly liar, and every time you repeat that lie, it only amplifies the obviousness of your cowardice and dishonesty. You will not, and cannot, provide even one single example of an antisemitic comment or statement by me, because there are none.

You assert that I have a "long history" of such comments. It is easy enough to search the archives of this site. Find even one such comment by me and link to it. You won't. You can't. There are no such comments. You are a lying sack of shit.

You are obviously a borderline psychopathic creep who has nothing better to do than try to get attention and waste the time of real people by posting deliberately offensive lies, using a fake email address because you are too cowardly to use your real one and expose yourself to the consequences of your deliberate slander and defamation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

jchone tortures small animals and rapes babies for fun. He has a long history here of posting comments about how much he enjoys torturing small animals and raping babies. He has written frequently about how much he enjoys dressing up in Nazi regalia and raping Jewish children.

Posted by: Don P. on April 14, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

has407

NB: "stalemate", "standstill", and "dead end"; and "clearly" is overstretch regardless of your interpretation.

I don't know what the point of the "NB" is supposed to be, and no, "clearly" is not an overstretch. Rafsanjani's statement was:

"Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now [that is, nuclear weapons and other WMDs], then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality."

He is clearly floating the idea of a nuclear attack against Israel. The "imperialist's strategy" that Rafsanjani is claiming would come to a "standstill" once Iran or other Islamic nations acquire nuclear weapons is "the survival of Israel." See, he considers Britain, the U.S. and other nations supportive of Israel to be imperialists, and Israel to be one of their colonies.

Posted by: Teaneck on April 14, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I have to agree with jchone though. You are an anti-semite.

Posted by: obscure on April 14, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist:

You said Israel is in the "grip of religious fanaticism." That sounds pretty antisemitic to me.

Posted by: Melting Pot on April 14, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK
Numerous countries have preferences in their immigration laws on the basis of parentage or other relationships. Family reunification is a central rationale of U.S. immigration law.

Yeah, so? Those are not nonsecular grounds, so they don't undermine the claim of the regime to be "secular". I suppose you could argue that they (and, more significantly, national origin-based quotas) are nonprogressive, but then I've never actually claimed that the US is a "progressive" regime, though I'd like it to be one.

That the US prefers close relatives of its current citizens (and, to a lesser extent, existing immigrant aliens) in immigration does not make Israel's religious preferences, nor even more its policy of disqualification of members or entire parties from the Knesset for questioning the religious character of the Israeli state, somehow compatible with accurate description of Israel as religious state.

Israel is openly, explicitly, and emphatically not a secular state. This is beyond reasonable dispute.

No country in the world lacks all formal and informal discrimination on the basis of religion.

So? No country that can reasonably described as "secular" or "progressive" goes so far with such formal restrictions as to make questioning the religious character of the State a disqualification for a person or political party to hold office. Yes, many countries that could be reasonably described as "secular" and "progressive" have vestigial favoritism to ancient established churches with little practical effect, and disqualification for offices that are largely formal or ceremonial rather than practically substantive based on religion (e.g., the prohibition on Catholics ascending to the British throne.)

But these examples of religious discrimination are far less substantive than those that permeate the entire structure of the Israeli system of government.

Now, I don't say that Israeli has, necessarily, a bad government (at least, structurally; certainly I say some of its policies have been immoral.) But it is neither progressive nor, especially, secular.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK
You said Israel is in the "grip of religious fanaticism." That sounds pretty antisemitic to me.

It is no more antisemitic than saying the same thing about Iran or the United States would be, respectively, anti-Islamic or anti-Christian. Now, one may disagree with the assessment of fanaticism in any one of those three countries, but believing a country that is dominated by one religion to be in the grip of fanaticism is not the same thing as bigotry against the dominant religion in that country.

To call that "anti-Semitism" is to water anti-Semitism down into meaninglessness, where any criticism of any Jew anywhere is equivalent to bigotry against Jews on the basis of their being Jewish.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 14, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

"obscure" wrote: SecularAnimist, I have to agree with jchone though. You are an anti-semite.

"Don P." wrote: jchone tortures small animals and rapes babies for fun. He has a long history here of posting comments about how much he enjoys torturing small animals and raping babies. He has written frequently about how much he enjoys dressing up in Nazi regalia and raping Jewish children.

I don't believe those comments were from the real obscure or the real Don P.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Melting Pot wrote: You said Israel is in the "grip of religious fanaticism." That sounds pretty antisemitic to me.

Frankly, that's your problem.

A commenter using the handle "e1" wrote, in reference to Iran, that "Any country with nukes is a big deal, and a country with nukes that is in the grip of religious fanaticism, and in such a volatile region as the middle-east, is a huge deal."

I replied: "The only country that currently fits that description is Israel."

In case that doesn't help you with your reading comprehension problem, let me spell out for you what I said with my one sentence reply to e1's comment:

Israel is currently the only country that:

1. Is an explicitly religious state, and

2. Has nuclear weapons, and

3. Is in the Middle East.

There is absolutely nothing in that list of three simple facts that is remotely "antisemitic". Moreover, depending on one's opinion of religious government and nuclear weapons, it is not even necessarily critical of Israel.

Now, personally, I prefer to live in a secular society with strict separation between the state and church (or religion), and I abhor nuclear weapons and wish them to be banned and eliminated from the face of the earth.

I don't criticize Israel or Israelis or any particular Israeli government for the role of religion in their government and institutions, if that is how they choose to live, although it is not how I would choose to live.

I do criticize Israel and the Israeli government for possessing and maintaining nuclear weapons, and call on them to unilaterally dismantle and abolish all such weapons, but I ask the same of the USA, Russia, China, and other nuclear-armed countries.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Yeah, so? Those are not nonsecular grounds, so they don't undermine the claim of the regime to be "secular"."

Neither does Israel's preference for Jews, defined as a person whose mother was a Jew.

"I suppose you could argue that they (and, more significantly, national origin-based quotas) are nonprogressive,"

Well, what exactly is your definition of "progressive?" What makes a country "progressive" rather than "nonprogressive?"

"That the US prefers close relatives of its current citizens (and, to a lesser extent, existing immigrant aliens) in immigration does not make [emphasis added] Israel's religious preferences, ... somehow compatible with accurate description of Israel as religious state."

Huh? So you're now saying that Israel's religious preferences are not compatible with your false claim that Israel is a religious state?

"Israel is openly, explicitly, and emphatically not a secular state. This is beyond reasonable dispute."

Ah, proof by assertion. Back at you: Israel is openly, explicitly and emphatically a secular state. This is beyond reasonable dispute.

"No country that can reasonably described as "secular" or "progressive" goes so far with such formal restrictions as to make questioning the religious character of the State a disqualification for a person or political party to hold office."

I'm still waiting for you to state your definitions of "secular" and "progressive" and explain why the alleged "formal restriction" in question is inconsistent with them. Is Sweden "nonprogressive" because it gives certain preferences to its national church? Is the U.S. nonprogressive because it has "In God We Trust" on its coins, and is founded on a document that attributes the rights of its people to "God?" Is Britain "nonprogressive" because it has a state church and its formal oaths pledge allegiance to the Queen?

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

"But these examples of religious discrimination are far less substantive than those that permeate the entire structure of the Israeli system of government."

What are these alleged "far more substantive" examples of religious discrimination that allegedly "permeate" the "entire structure of the Israeli system of government?" List them.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

The comment from "jchone" at 7:33PM strengthens my suspicion that he is really Don P.

I recognize specific phrases and rhetorical gambits (e.g. "I'm still waiting for ...") that are the hallmark of Don P's style.

And of course, just as Don P. showed himself to be numerous times, "jchone" is a cowardly liar who likes to waste people's time with deliberately offensive bullshit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 14, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

"It is no more antisemitic than saying the same thing about Iran or the United States would be, respectively, anti-Islamic or anti-Christian."

Yes it is. Anti-semitism is not criticism of the religion of Judaism, it is a social prejudice, like racism and sexism.

"but believing a country that is dominated by one religion to be in the grip of fanaticism"

What non-antisemitic justification do you claim there is for the assertion that Israel is "in the grip of religious fanaticism?"

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

"There is absolutely nothing in that list of three simple facts that is remotely "antisemitic"."

I didn't say there is. Your statement that Israel is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is anti-semitic. You're an anti-semite.

"I don't criticize Israel or Israelis or any particular Israeli government for the role of religion in their government and institutions"

Yes, you did. You claimed they're gripped by religious fanaticism.

Posted by: jchone on April 14, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Teaneck: He is clearly floating the idea of a nuclear attack against Israel.

Was he suggesting Iranian use of nukes as: a deterrent to the use of nukes by Israel; or a means of eliminating Israel at-will? Those are very different animals, albeit, neither of them wonderful. However it is far from clear--either in that speech or in Rafsanjani's previous speech--which he is referring to.


p.s. NB, abbr., nota bene, note well

Posted by: has407 on April 14, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

This just in:

SecularAnimist is still an asshole. And an antisemite given to raving idiotic anti-Israel statements.

Posted by: cranky on April 14, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK


You're right-Iran getting the bomb would just split the Muslim world, and lead the "Arab" Sunni part to get a bomb of their own. They would probably end up using them on each other.

Posted by: bob h

But bob, don't you thin there might be some downsides to nuclearizing the ME, too?

Posted by: jsklm2 on April 14, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist sez "In case that doesn't help you with your reading comprehension problem, let me spell out for you what I said with my one sentence reply to e1's comment: Israel is currently the only country that: 1. Is an explicitly religious state, and 2. Has nuclear weapons, and 3. Is in the Middle East."

SA is also a lying sack of shit. He did not say Israel was a religious state. He said it was in the grip of religious fanatics.

Asshole. And lying shit at the same time. Nice going, suckass.

Btw, Israel is neither a "religious country" nor a country "in the grip of religious fanatics." It is a Jewish country. Being Jewish is a cultural and ethnic appellation. There are a lot of secular Jews. Get it?

Posted by: sledgehammer on April 14, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

You said Israel is in the "grip of religious fanaticism." That sounds pretty antisemitic to me.

It isn't anti-semitic in the least. It is an opinion about which sort of Judaism is most influential in Israel today. Just as it is not anti-semitic to observe that some Jews are secular, some Jews are religious, and some Jews are religious to the point of fanaticism. The same can be said of any religious group without implying a slight of the group as a whole.

There are a lot of secular Jews. Get it?

That's irrelevant to your accusation of anti-semitism.

And, yes, the 6:55 post under my handle is fraudulent.

Posted by: obscure on April 15, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Whoops.

Sorry, Secular Animist, for not reading your 7:20 post before my posting above.

I should not have accepted the accusation against you at face value.

Posted by: obscure on April 15, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist - I don't know why you have to use such language against me. Doesn't matter, when we mostly agree. You say that "Israel is in the grip of religious fanatics" - which is what "sledgehammer" and the others here are complaining about. So what?

Israel IS in the grip of religious fanatics, they DO have nuclear weapons, and they are the only one in the region that are a real threat. Iran is not. That's the important point here.

Posted by: karen on April 15, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, it is not called "anti-semitism" to point out that Jews (the so-called Israel Lobby) are conspiring with evangelicals and PNAC/neocons to turn US policy in favor of Israel. Read the study (by John Mearsheimer of U. Chicago and Steve Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School) yourself:

http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011

They point out very clearly what the facts are. Read them and deal with it. Here's a piece of the abstract:

(...) the U.S. commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the Israel Lobby." This paper goes on to describe the various activities that pro-Israel groups have undertaken in order to shift U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

Posted by: karen on April 15, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Don P. posting as "jchone" wrote to cmdicely: Ah, proof by assertion [...] I'm still waiting for you to state your definitions [...]

Don P. posting as "jchone" wrote to me: You have a long history here of making anti-semitic comments, and of attacking Jews and the nation of Israel.

Ah, proof by assertion.

I am still waiting for you to provide one single example of a comment by me that was either "anti-semitic" or "attacking Jews and the nation of Israel" to "prove" your "assertion" that I have a "long history here" of making such comments.

It is very easy to search the archives of this site to find comments posted under a specific handle, such as "SecularAnimist".

You of course will not do any such search, because you know that there are no such comments as you describe to be found.

You are a cowardly liar who has nothing better to do with his time than post deliberately offensive lies to get attention. This is how you attempt to prove to yourself that you are better than other people. That is not only pathetic, but probably indicative of a mental disturbance. You need to seek professional help immediately.

I see that you are now posting under multiple handles in this thread to make it appear that others endorse your lies. That would be consistent with your past performance here, using your original handle of "Don P", when you made blatantly fraudulent claims about the source and content of publicly available documents that you falsely cited in support of your insupportable, ignorant, arrogant, dogmatic proclamations about subjects regarding which you are willfully uninformed.

However, your new behaviour of stealing other people's handles to make it appear that your bullshit has an adoring audience is a significant deterioration even from your prior dishonesty.

Again, I urge you to get the help you need.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 15, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

karen: I don't know why you have to use such language against me. Doesn't matter, when we mostly agree.

I use such language because I find your comments about "Jews" repellent in the extreme. It is such language, and not whatever you may have to say about the Israeli government or the role of the USA's relationship with Israel in the USA's foreign policy, that indicate to me that you are a genuine antisemite.

It is people like you -- genuine antisemites, people with a pathological hatred of those they refer to as "the Jews" -- who enable and empower those who wrongly use accusations of "antisemitism" to intimidate and suppress criticism of Israel or the USA-Israel relationship.

And no, we don't "mostly agree". That statement is just as much a cowardly lie about my views as the cowardly lies posted here by Don P. posting as "jchone".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 15, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

The cowardly liar Don P. posted incoherent ravings at 7:41PM and 7:44PM on 4/14:

Anti-semitism is not criticism of the religion of Judaism, it is a social prejudice, like racism and sexism [...] Your statement that Israel is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is anti-semitic.

In one breath you assert that antisemitism "is not criticism of the religion of Judaism".

In the next breath you declare that my statement (which was not actually my statement, but was one part of a three part statement by another commenter regarding Iran, to which I replied that Israel "fits that description") that Israel is "in the grip of religious fanaticism" is "anti-semitic".

These two statements by you are completely contradictory. You say that "criticism of the religion of Judaism" is not antisemitic, and that criticism of the religion of Judaism, specifically an assertion that Jewish "religious fanaticism" has a "grip" on Israel, is antisemitic.

Not only are you a cowardly liar, not only are your accusations of antisemitism false, slanderous and defamatory, and completely without any factual basis, but you are unable to even form or communicate coherent thoughts without contradicting yourself. You are just rambling.

I increasingly suspect that you are mentally disturbed.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 15, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yeshiva style sophistry bullies its target over the most minor of ideas, trying to back their opponent into a corner in order to make them acknowledge the error of their thinking by using moral epithets as logic.

Posted by: Hostile on April 15, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just thought I'd check in. Yep, looks like SecularAnimist is STILL an asshole. Plus he is forging new bonds with his soulmate karen.

Stability and continuity in the blogosphere is assured.

Posted by: clock on April 15, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

has407

Was he suggesting Iranian use of nukes as: a deterrent to the use of nukes by Israel; or a means of eliminating Israel at-will?

Obviously, we cannot know for sure what he meant. But he is clearly proposing a possible future nuclear attack by Islamic nations on Israel. His statements that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran or another Islamic country will end the current "stalemate," (that is, the "survival of Israel") and that a nuclear attack on Israel would "destroy" it but only cause collateral damage ("harm") to the surrounding Arab nations imply that he is advocating such an attack, and it seems rather likely that were understood in that way by millions of people in the Arab world.

p.s. NB, abbr., nota bene, note well

Yes, I know what "NB" means. I didn't ask you what it means, I said I didn't understand the point of your NB. I still don't know what point you were trying to make with it.

Posted by: Teaneck on April 15, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Don P. posting as "clock" wrote: Yep, looks like SecularAnimist is STILL an asshole. Plus he is forging new bonds with his soulmate karen.

You are still a cowardly liar, hiding behind fake email addresses to post slander.

If you wish to continue to trumpet your cowardice and dishonesty to the world with these idiotic posts, that's your choice.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 16, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

SuckularAnalist is clearly a nazi.

Posted by: peanut on April 16, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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