Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TALKING TO IRAN....What should we do about Iran? I have a suggestion, but first I need to relate a story that's gotten suprisingly little attention from the press. Perhaps they're too bored to pick up on it.

It started on May 6, 2003, shortly after George Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. On that day the Associated Press reported without elaboration that Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman had confirmed that "Iran has exchanged messages with U.S. officials about Iraq through the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Tehran. He declined to give details."

What was that all about? Last January, Flynt Leverett, who worked for Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council, provided some initial clues:

In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.

In February, Newsday picked up the story:

The fax was one of a series of informal soundings that emanated from Tehran in the months after the United States invasion of Iraq. Iran's envoys to Sweden and Britain also began sending signals that the regime was ready to negotiate a deal, according to a former Western diplomat closely familiar with the messages. Iran was sending messages through other back-channels as well, according to Paul Pillar, who served as the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005.

...."No one at a senior level was willing to push Iran on diplomacy," said Leverett. "Was there at least a chance that we could have gotten something going? Yes, there was a chance."

Three weeks ago, Gareth Porter added some more details:

Realists, led by Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, were inclined to respond positively to the Iranian offer. Nevertheless, within a few days of its receipt, the State Department had rebuked the Swiss ambassador for having passed on the offer.

Exactly how the decision was made is not known. "As with many of these issues of national security decision-making, there are no fingerprints," [Lawrence] Wilkerson told IPS. "But I would guess Dick Cheney with the blessing of George W. Bush."

As Wilkerson observes, however, the mysterious death of what became known among Iran specialists as Iran's "grand bargain" initiative was a result of the administration's inability to agree on a policy toward Tehran.

A draft National Security Policy Directive (NSPD) on Iran calling for diplomatic engagement had been in the process of interagency coordination for more than a year, according to a source who asks to remain unidentified.

But it was impossible to get formal agreement on the NSPD, the source recalls, because officials in Cheney's office and in Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans wanted a policy of regime change and kept trying to amend it.

With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran. After all, the administration's ideologues killed an opportunity to ratchet down tensions three years ago, and since then things have only gotten worse: Iran has elected a wingnut president, they've made progress on nuclear enrichment, gained considerable influence in Iraq, and increased their global economic leverage as oil supplies have gotten tighter. So why blow another chance? If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

That may well be the Bush administration's strategy, but ordinary horse sense suggests it shouldn't be anyone else's.

Kevin Drum 2:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (192)

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Comments

Cheney's a War Vice-President. Needs one in the bank on the off chance that peace breaks out in Iraq.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 20, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Cheney & Bushco don't want to TALK to Iran. They want an excuse to invade. It's all about oil.

No wonder Venezuela is aiming to become a nation of warriors. The Nigerians had better watch out.

It breaks my heart that the US has become the big bully on the block. Thanks, Dick Cheney. Thanks George Bush.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 20, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Halliburton can't make obscene profits in peacetime.

Posted by: rusrus on April 20, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Iran now has a "wingnut" as president is unfortunate, the offer probably no longer has "support from all major players in Iran's power structure."

What is even more unfortunate is that we did not begin public talks before the Iranian presidential elections. Maybe one of the reform candidates (who eventually were allowed to run) could have won.

Another missed opportunity resulting from either bad policy or a lack of policy that could result in "the military option."

Posted by: MassachusettsLiberalinDC on April 20, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like Cheney thought he could get a better deal down the road. He was believing his own PR about how things were going to go in Iraq. Now it's Iran that's holding all the cards.

Posted by: tim on April 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently the 'Domino Theory' requires that each domino be pushed over individually...

I've grown real tired of these 'neocon-wet-dreams-as-foreign-policy' decisions...Freakin' definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Real tired.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 20, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

It would be great if they were serious, but they're not. They're unserious. Deadly unserious,

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Cheney_has_tapped_Iranian_expatriate_arms_0420.html


The Department of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney have retained the services of Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as their man on the ground, in order to report on any interaction and attempts at negotiations between Iranian officials and US ambassador to Iraq, Zelmay Khalilzad, current and former intelligence officials say.


Could there be worse news?

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Cheney the guy, as head of Halliburton, that complained about the Clinton sanctions against Iran? Historians one day are going to need to address how it is that Cheney went completely insane, seemingly overnight.

Posted by: enozinho on April 20, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

One real hallmark of this administration has always been george bush's inability (or unwillingness) to decide on a policy and tell everybody else to shut the hell up or get out. Instead, he lets all the different interest groups and power players keep running around and no one knows what our policy is. The most instransigent figure-- and the least scrupulous-- wins when that happens. I usually spell that C-h-e-n-e-y.

bush could tell Cheney and the veepshop to butt out and stick to twisting arms in Congress. He ought to. He ought to sit down with Rice and find some wise heads to actually develop a coherent policy. But it's a sure bet he won't. That would be too much like being in charge.

Posted by: Altoid on April 20, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -
This is a very interesting start, i hope you'll follow it up with more research and a full-fledged article.

Posted by: S on April 20, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Don't forget - President Bush also criticized the legitimacy of the Iranian elections in the week leading up to the election last June. Most now agree that Bush's criticism helped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get elected by stoking nationalist passions in Iran. In fact, most people agreed that was the case the day after the election.

Put it all together, and it paints a pretty damning picture of an Administration pushing for conflict with Iran at all costs.

Posted by: owenz on April 20, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think it was Churchill -- the real one, not the Action Figure in Chief imitation -- who said "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war."

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on April 20, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran.

Well, since Cheney is the de facto head of the government there's no chance of that happening. Who's going to stop Cheney? George "The Decider" Bush? Don't make me laugh....

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

This should be one more nail in the coffin of the idea that the Cheney Cabal was ever actually serious about the "Bush Doctrine" of transforming the Middle East toward democracy.

What the sequence that Kevin highlights tells me is that, in fact, the invasion of Iraq COULD ACTUALLY HAVE SERVED ITS AFTER-THE-FACT BUSH-STATED PURPOSE: it seems to have spurred the Iranians into concession/negotiation mode via a combination of fear and opportunism. If the administration had entered into negotiations with the Iranians, not only could they have defused the Iranian situation, but they could potentially have gone a long way toward settling down Iraq and the region in general. Such a Kissingeresque move (and I do mean that in the positive sense, as loathesome as Dr. K is) would have made me actually rethink my opposition to the whole Iraq adventure.

But, of course, we're stuck with ... The. Most. Incompetent. Administration. Ev. Er.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on April 20, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

That reminds me that when Cheney shot what's-his- name in the face the Swiss ambassador was there with whom, apparently, Cheney is quite chummy. Everywhere you look Cheney pops up.

Posted by: ExBrit on April 20, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

But Clinton . . . !

And what's the Democrats' plan?

And you're not serious about national security!

Sorry, just wanted to get all that crap out of the way before the trolls (or Joe Klein) could get to them.

Posted by: Doug on April 20, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Everywhere you look Cheney pops up.

I just got back from taking a pee, and yup, there he was, right there in the urinal. Uncanny!

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

From Knight Ridder on June 18, 2005. The article talks about the Iranian reaction to President Bush's comments about the election, made last June, just three days before polls closed. Is there any question George Bush helped get Mahmoud Ahmadinejad elected?

----------

Many voters expressed outrage at what they viewed as outside interference in an election that not only will determine whether the Islamic republic moves ahead with political, social and economic reforms, but also will influence Iranian negotiations with the West over its nuclear program.

Iran's conservative-run TV news networks fed on that anger, embellishing Bush's statement Thursday that criticized the Iranian election as undemocratic and telling viewers the American president had called on voters to stay home.

"It made us want to come more," said Mahboubeh Askari, 33, a homemaker who voted for Ahmadinejad at the Somayeh school. "It's a matter of national pride."

"Tell George Bush that he is not the master of our destiny," shouted Mohammed Ali Tavakoli, 61, who voted for Rafsanjani in Shush.

Posted by: owenz on April 20, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Iran's new "wingnut" president, I just read a really interesting article at informationclearinghouse which dissects his recent speeches in which he supposedly says Israel should be wiped off the map and other incendiary things. It really does appear he's been misquoted in the Western press, no doubt to feed the neocons' fires. Recommended reading. The article is translated from German. Writers are Anneliese Fikentscher and Andreas Neumann. (Sorry, I don't know how to do a link and anyway I don't know if that's appropriate behavior at this site.) In any event, this sort of demonizing propaganda, together with exaggerating threats and ducking opportunities for diplomacy such as described in this PA post, show a familiar pattern and practice that should disgust and outrage us all.

Posted by: Erika Hamerquist on April 20, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is just inexcusable. Iran has been on our shit-list awhile - Richard Clarke's book mentions that Clinton requested invasion strategies also - but if they're willing to talk we could at least hear what they have to say.

I never liked Reagan or the elder Bush, but at least they could do diplomacy. The current administration's foreign policy seems to be based upon ignoring or humiliating countries that don't give us what we want.

Posted by: mmy on April 20, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

[They] rebuked the Swiss ambassador for having passed on the offer.

It says it all. They're insane.

Posted by: Aris on April 20, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Its hard not to view this response with extreme cynism. What is reprimanding the Swiss supposed to accomplish in this scenario? Can someone come up with a legitimate rationale for such an obtuse action?

But what domestic political advantage would the Bush administration get out of quiet back channel diplomacy? Who cares about what's best for America's long term interests or solving important and complex issues when you have pressing domestic political capitol to build at home. Having Iran in the evil axis to rail against does the administration a lot more political help.

Posted by: Catch22 on April 20, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

craigie on April 20, 2006 at 3:14 PM:

I just got back from taking a pee, and yup, there he was, right there in the urinal.

You named your thingy 'Cheney?' Or just 'Dick'?

Posted by: grape_crush on April 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

They're in so deep they can't see any point in not going in even deeper and hoping history will exonerate them, a thousand years from now.

What it's really about is to so screw things up that any future action can never clear it up or get us back to a point where it might be as if they never happened, that all future action will depend from the crap they've blessed us with, so they define the future.

Perhaps they'll get their reward in heaven.

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran.

I see that Stefan has already made this point, but who exactly do you think is going to "quit letting" Cheney do anything? Cheney is the real president. Cheney is calling the shots in this administration. Bush is just a spokesmodel.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 20, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Erika Hamerquist wrote:

Sorry, I don't know how to do a link and anyway I don't know if that's appropriate behavior at this site

Not to speak for anyone else, but if you could copy-and-paste a the URL, I'd be interested in seeing what you are talking about...As for appropriate behavior, I just made an attempt at a dick-Cheney joke, so draw your own conclusions...

Posted by: grape_crush on April 20, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

You named your thingy 'Cheney?' Or just 'Dick'?

Don't be silly. The little deodorant cakey thing is named "Cheney"

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran.

That's your suggestion? Do you have any tips on how I might solve world hunger and make myself millions?

Posted by: jerry on April 20, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

First, get a million dollars...

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Bush and Ahmadinejad should be given clubs and locked in a large cage. In fact this would make an ideal summer reality show. We could also pair Cheney against Khatami, Pat Robertson against one of the Iranian nutcase clerics. My guess is that it would be popular viewing for both the Iranian and American public. I'd want Douglass Feith and John Bolten to get a chance to fight as well. Oh, and by the way, when the fights were finished I'd throw away the key.

Posted by: NeilS on April 20, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Owenz writes, Don't forget - President Bush also criticized the legitimacy of the Iranian elections in the week leading up to the election last June. Most now agree that Bush's criticism helped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get elected by stoking nationalist passions in Iran. In fact, most people agreed that was the case the day after the election.

Perhaps. Remember that Ahmadinejad's opponent was Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president and also a member of the inner circle and considered a 'moderate' only in comparison to Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani is also on the record as thinking that using nukes to destroy Israel is something that should be done post haste, and was an original member of the 'Death to America' crowd.

Ahmadinejad strikes me as unstable, but Rafsanjani is no prize. This was a 'damned if we do, damned if we don't' situation for the U.S.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK


if you could copy-and-paste a the URL, I'd be interested in seeing what you are talking about

Here's the article she was referring to.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 20, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

The trolls have to wait a long time to get there talking points today I wonder what's up.The straw pile must be replenished.Oh I hear Rove may be in legal trouble?? Fitzmas!!!!

Posted by: Booo on April 20, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats want to convince average Americans that they have a coherent vision on foreign policy and national security, Iran is a good place to start. We know the Republican vision -- Iran is part of the Axis of Evil (and given the history of the Mad Mullahs, it's easy to understand why -- just do a body count since the time the Shah fell). The Republican vision is that Iran won't get nukes, somehow, leaving the 'somehow' on the fuzzy side.

So if Kevin Drum wants the Dems to do well in 2006 and beyond, how about laying out a plan by which Iran is convinced, without bombing and without war, to give up its aspirations for nuclear weapons? How about telling us how you'll work to get the Iranians to cooperate a little in vital areas, and what you'd give in return?

The election is coming: it's rare that you beat something with nothing. The Dems have nothing right now. Let's hear a plan.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintonite deadenders at the State Department leak one more story to smear the Bush administration, and that's news?

Wake me up when something new comes up.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be silly. The little deodorant cakey thing is named "Cheney."

Really? I've never had penis envy until this very moment.

Posted by: shortstop on April 20, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think there is some confusion. Yes, the fax came from the Swiss... but it came via the same italian embassy that brought us the Niger forgeries.

I found the document, and I can see why they didn't find it credible. Check it out

Posted by: enozinho on April 20, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

No wonder why somebody might think that's a good idea.

Posted by: JJF on April 20, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that in the run-up to the Afghanistan invasion, US and Iranian military representatives met to discuss overflight issues and repatriation of US personnel who may stray into Iran during the fighting. Iran also halted the transit of fighters and arms through Iran into Afghanistan and detained Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who fled into Iran.

I have long maintained that the Bush Administration missed a major opportunity for an opening with Iran, at a time when Iran was trending toward more pragmatic policies.

Steve White: Please don't attempt to defend the Bush Administration by claiming that Rafsanjani is Ahmenidijad (sp?) lite. He is an utter pragmatist.

Posted by: Wombat on April 20, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats want to convince average Americans that they have a coherent vision on foreign policy and national security, Iran is a good place to start.

Frankly, I'd settle for the Republicans offering a coherent vision on foreign policy and national security -- other, that is, than "heee heee heee, me smash good!"

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency will nail it.

Posted by: lib on April 20, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

The election is coming: it's rare that you beat something with nothing.

Hey, it worked for the Republicans in 2004....

I see the wingnut talking point this week is that, since you can't depend on the GOP to come up with any credible ideas, it's up to the Democrats to conceive a national security strategy and that they can't be considered "serious" (read: bloodthirsty) until they do so.

Last week, of course, the story was that the Democrats should stop coming up with their own strategy because it was emboldening our enemies, and should instead silently defer to Bush.

Ah, I love the return of warm weather when you can hear the flip-flop, flip-flop of Republican feet....

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Just as Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush wanted revenge on Saddam for Kuwait which made the invasion of Iraq inevitable, so they want revenge on the Iranian leadership for the overthrow of the Shah, the GOP's very own personal tyrant.

Puerile vengence drives these folks.

Always has, always will.

And national security and national interest will just have to take a back seat to the GOP's personal agendas.

That's deep in the 'character' of Shrub, Dickless, and Dumsfeld.

Posted by: Advocate for God on April 20, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintoni--

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Posted by: dave on April 20, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

craigie on April 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM:

The little deodorant cakey thing is named "Cheney"

Heh...I'd love know where to purchase a urinal cake with Dubya's or Cheney's picture onnit...

Oh, and thanks for the linky, jayarbee.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 20, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Congress has passed legislation outlawing Iran forever. Bombing begins in five minutes."

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 20, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Fits with RawStory report that Cheney is contracting with Ghorbanifar to spike a diplomatic solution.

Cheney spooking around with an discredited arms dealer again? What's he trying to do? -- get indited by Fitz for racketeering in arms and military supply sales? ssssheessssh!

Posted by: miro on April 20, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"It really does appear he's been misquoted in the Western press, no doubt to feed the neocons' fires."

Who is doing the translations from Farsi? It's not MEMRI, is it? For a while they seemed to have a monopoly on these services.

Posted by: RJJ on April 20, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Politicians often talk tough for domestic consumption while negotiating through the backdoor. JFK and his macho facing down of the commies, for ex., while actually negotiating to get rid of our missiles in Turkey.

Leaders often have more in common with other leaders than they do with their own people. In the same business, so to speak. Like Bush and Vicente Fox plotting against the American people on invasion.

Posted by: Myron on April 20, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"That may well be the Bush administration's strategy, but ordinary horse sense suggests it shouldn't be anyone else's."

If only an ordinary horse were running this administration!

Posted by: Andrew on April 20, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Saddam also try to send some messages through back channels, only to be blown off by the Bushistas? I remember having read that somewhere.

Posted by: lib on April 20, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

IIRC, at that time the Iranians stated publicly that they were interested in making the Middle East a nuclear free zone. The reason the administration refused to talk with them is that the idea was to put Israel's nuclear arsenal on the table. In all of this viewing with alarm, let us not forget that Israel possesses 100-200 nuclear weapons, now -- it's not just a program to develop them some day. There is obviously no reason why Iran would agree that they have no right to nuclear weapons when Israel gets to have them without a peep from anyone.

Who knows if the Iranians were sincere but why not call their bluff?

Posted by: cervantes on April 20, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

How do we get the Iranians to "cooperate a little in vital areas," Steve White?

Um, how about simply talking to them, in secret deliberations if the Bushies are too embarrassed to do it in the light of day.

Posted by: Wonderin on April 20, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

From the Ahmadinejad's speech as printed in the article cited above,

"We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime [Israel] has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world."


It doesn't appear to me that he's been misquoted in the Western press.

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"So if Kevin Drum wants the Dems to do well in 2006 and beyond, how about laying out a plan by which Iran is convinced, without bombing and without war, to give up its aspirations for nuclear weapons? How about telling us how you'll work to get the Iranians to cooperate a little in vital areas, and what you'd give in return?"

First off, the part about convincing the Iranians about nuclear aspirations comes in the form of radioactive waste. Good luck storing it. Secondly, the issue of engineering, which the Soviets...er, Russians are still working out. Nasty thing, Nuclear plants, has to be run just so, or else. And the "or else" is never a good option, ever.
Lastly, switching to a solar process to supplement, with US dollars to subsidize, their growing energy needs.
I figure that monetarily, based on the war in Iraq would be equivalent to the war in Iran, subsidizing would be far cheaper for us than actually starting the engines on the bombers.

I know, the Republicans are having colon fits right now, but lets be realistic guys, fuel consumption on a bomber is far more expensive that fitting a neighborhood with solar power.

Third, their already willingness to rein in their terrorist dogs, which is surprising since it's taken the place of their military. Of course, if they're willing to put their support of terrorist groups on the table, then it is in our best interests to convince them that those terrorist groups, are of right now, a liability rather than an asset to their future.
Next, Iran's military will never be what it once was namely because for Iran, a standing army would suck down their gnp which leaves them open to our willingness to sign treaties, obviously with caveats, somewhat like a contract, that each side upholds the particulars.
In this case, Iran reins in their proxies, and plants them in their own country, never allowing them to leave, and we promise to loosen import controls for their goods. And for their abandonment of their nuclear program we subsidize the construction of natural gas power stations, with solar supplements.
But the final bargin would be that they can worry about their side of the border, and we'll not worry about it for them.

Of course, I know this is all crap, because for the Republicans, since there is no oil involved, there can be no discussion with Iran.
And as one poster has shown, "the Dick" Cheney, vis-a-vis haliburton, would never stand for such a deal unless Iran surrenders all oil to Haliburton...I'm sorry, I meant the US.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 20, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Solid Reporting.


http:www.e-merges.com

Posted by: Shawn Harmon on April 20, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

What is the problem?

Iran can sell oil on the world market. They can buy all of what they need. Why is relations with the U.S. so important to them, why do they need negotiations about that.

Their messing with Hamas and the belt bombers as been a minor nuisance, not much more.

They meddle in Iraq, but so what, they are neighbors and Iran will always meddle in Iraq.

The problem with kevin's analysis is that negotiations are un-necessary for Iran in a free market world while having such a large oil inventory, they do not need us. Their problems are internal.

As far as the bomb goes, no one wants Iran to have a bomb, India, the Arabs, even Frenchmen. It is up to those countries to decide how much they fear the Iranian bomb. They can lay the problem on our hands, but whether they push us toward military, or economic action, these other countries pay the price.

Posted by: Matt on April 20, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

TPM and WashMonthly are the best


http://www.e-Merges.com

Posted by: Anne Horrigan on April 20, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

From the Leverett article linked:

Nuclear diplomacy with Iran, never an easy proposition, has been made harder not only by poor policy choices in Washington, but also by trends in Iranian politics. Mr. Ahmadinejad's electoral victory last year against former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani suggests that a significant number of Iranians linked Mr. Rafsanjani's call for rapprochement with the West with his corrupt past and rejected both in favor of Mr. Ahmadinejad's populist nationalism.

In other words, it may have been the former Iranian administration's perceived willingness to make a deal that lost the election for them. Had negotiations been opened, the election results may well have been the same.

Iran has been telling the U.N. and Europe to go jump in the lake for a long time now. What makes anyone think they would have made a deal with the U.S.?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Look, you go to ruin with the President and Vice President you got, not with the President and Vice President you want.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 20, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war

Give the man a cigar!

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on April 20, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm seeing a studio tomorrow to pitch an idea for a monster movie. There's this giant lizardy thing, wearing a turban, and it stomps around on Los Angeles, crushing everything, while it shouts "I am the decider!" in a big booming voice.

At the end, they kill it by drafting it into the armed forces. It runs away, and is never seen again, except for cameo appearances in children't books and at corporate bankruptcy proceedings.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Repeat after me: "Its all about the oil" "Its all about the oil" "Its all about the oil"......

Posted by: bushworstpresidentever on April 20, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Matt,
The real-world situation for Iran is that they have to shed the "pariah" image, and they do that by making nice-nice with the US.
Also, we have a lot of their money.
Also, we have frozen a lot of their money, whether here, or in other countries.
Lastly, Iran wants to get into the world trade. Yes they got the oil, but for them, it's like having a American Express Card in an establishment that only accepts Visa or Mastercard.

Also, reality.
The last thing the mullah's of Iran want is the "equivalency" comparison. These are very smart, and very savvy people, and right now they know that everytime a westerner looks at them, they don't see a muslim "Iranian." They know that we see "Osama bin Laden." Not a good image to have, and rightly so, hence the willingness to negoiate, but why the US?
Our paranoia.
We are paranoid with fear, also combine with our paranoid fear is our possession of the greatest military this planet has ever seen.
And with it, we went in and sacked Iran's neighboring nutcase by "aligning" ourselves with the rebel faction with airpower.
And then we went high-order in the scared sh*tless category, and in three weeks sacked their other neighbor who happened to have the largest military in the Arab world in three weeks.

For the mullahs of Iran, there is much to be gained from chatting it up with the scared sh*tless teenager who also happens to be the only one armed to the teeth. I think the police have a term for it, "Talking the person down." Calming him, and letting him know everything is okay. Lets talk and sort it out. Nobody needs to get hurt.
I believe the Mullahs are trying to do that.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 20, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Since I've been banned from Josh Marshall's TPM for calling Ivo Daalder a moron and an idiot, perhaps I can comment here.

The reality seems to be this:

The issue in the ME is who is going to influence the ME in the 21st Century - Persia or the US through their surrogate Israel.

The Iranians have decided that allowing the US to control the ME is not acceptable. It should not be acceptable to us either, since the US has no business controlling any place but the US.

So the Iranians - who, having been around for centuries longer than the US has existed, and who thus think in longer time frames than "four-year-shelf-life" US politicians - have decided to use the age-old strategy that the Vietnamese recently and successfully used against the West.

In other words, stand up, absorb the US airstrikes, use provocations to entice the US to invade the Khuzestan oil province (a tempting target for the neocons because that is where the oil is and it's right across the border from Iraq) - then commit the full might of their military to a ten-year-long guerrilla war against the US occupation.

The US will be forced to commit a million troops (twice that of Vietnam) or more at a cost of perhaps $20-30 billion a month or more (the current Iraq war is only requiring 130,000 troops but is costing nearly $10 billion per month) to attempt to control an insurgency by half a million Iranian troops and one to six million Iranian militia.

The inevitable result will be that Iran will lose its energy program, and its economy will be devastated by brutal US bombing and sanctions, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of Iranians will die.

And in the process, the US taxpayer will pay $20/gallon for gas at the pump, see their jobs evaporate as the economy evaporates under the oil price shock, see their children drafted and sent to Iraq and Iran to die by IED, see car bombs going off all over the US, and see what few civil liberties they have left disappear in an attempt to stop the car bombings. We can expect tens of thousands of US military deaths and scores of thousands of US casualties per year for the next ten years - or more.

But in the end, the US will be bled dry militarily and economically and geopolitically. The US will withdraw. And the Iranians will rebuild and carry on.

The American Empire is about to be crushed. The right wingnuts just don't realize it, but it's all over but the propaganda and the dying.

And once Iran comes back, they will have nuclear weapons. So Israel will no longer be able to threaten them with regime change. And then the rest of the Muslim world will spend their oil dollars to achieve conventional military parity with Israel. Then Israel will be pressured to resolve the Palestinian issue in a manner favorable to the Palestinians - that is, a one-state solution. And then the Arabs and Palestinians will out-breed the Jewish citizens of Israel. And then Israel will no longer be a threat to the rest of the ME - without firing a shot from Iran to Israel (other than the missiles that may be fired early in the Iran war.)

Problem solved - by the wisdowm and courage (or the scheming and greed, take your pick - it doesn't matter, the end result is the same) of the Persians.

Since the US can't solve the ME problems because of bad faith and greed, we have to rely on the Persians. Only question now is are they up to it.

As for the attempts to negotiate, well, of course, the Persians know that it would be better to do this without having to endure a ten-year war. But clearly these days, they hold little hope for that. But as has been noted with Osama, the religion of Islam REQUIRES them to offer a negotiated out to their enemies before going to war.

They have done so. The neocons and the Israelis rejected it.

Now they wait for Bush's next move - so they can finish it.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 20, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

One of the big disappointments to me about the Clinton administration, for all its intelligence and efforts at negotiations (Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland), is that it failed to take advantage of the Westernization of Tehran. Khameini could've been the Iranian Gorbachev, but the boys and girls who were smart enough missed the opportunity, and now we have the boys and girls who aren't smart enough in the first place.

Posted by: RSaunders on April 20, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yes....if only Jimmah was still in the White House, he'd know what to do. Maybe something like sending John Kerry to Paris to negotiate our surrender.

Posted by: Old Coot on April 20, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

After watching this same group of clowns deliberately piss away multiple early opportunities to 1) knock off Zarqawi and his little training camp in no-fly-zone Kurdish Iraq, 2) use the full might of the US military to capture Bin Laden and bring him to justice when we had him trapped in a cave at Tora Bora, 3) allow Hans Blix time to document the non-existence of Saddam's WMD, or 4) listen to any of the skeptics in our own intelligence services--after watching all of this unfold, IS ANYONE REALLY SUPRISED???

I mean, the one thing all of the above have in common is that their successful pursuit would have fatally undermined the case for invading Iraq in the eyes of the American public.

Achieve #1, and Saddam is no longer "supporting terrorists and maintaining ties to Al Qaeda". Do #2, and, hey, we nailed the guy who did 9/11; case closed. #3, and you lose the one "marketing strategy" Paul Wolfowitz tells us everyone in charge could agree on. #4...aw geez, do I need to go on?

They want perpetual war, period. Our fundie whack-jobs and theirs need each other, like Fred and Ginger.

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on April 20, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Looking at the Republican's behavior since Bush came in, it's actually all about contracts and money.

The contracts part is the billions of dollars that have flowed through corporations to run the war and reconstruction and the millions that has flowed through officials war chests to pay for election campaigns and graft. Bush delivered to business. Add to this the uncertainty that has driven up the price of gas and we have a lot of new rich people. Bush delivered again.

Now we have a huge national debt, much more graft and ethical problems and the regular folks who are raising families and earn an honest living are just hanging in there.

We have a summer coming of record energy prices, a president we don't trust, an endless war where our sons and daughters are still dying and being maimed, an economy that looks good on the outside but rotten on the inside where middle Americans are loosing jobs and getting few wage increases. Health care is way expensive and the quality is uneven and pensions are going away. These are tough times. It will be a cold day in hell before I believe another Republican voice about anything.

I didn't vote for Bush because I'm from Texas and knew better but even I didn't know how awful it would get!

Posted by: Rain on April 20, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

RSH,
I'm not sure Iran's fragile economy and infrastructure can absorb the bombing campaign, unless it's all part of their urban renewal policy.
"B'ah, Akmed, we don't have to tear it down and replace it, we start a war with the US, they'll bomb it, and afterwards they'll replace it for us!"
Also, I think that the Iranian mullahs are not gamblers. Willing to take risks, yes, unbelievably stupid, no.
Also, I think the nuclear issue is one that is clearly understandable. Once again, they have a small military, and a large one costs a lot of money which what they don't have. They've got the oil, but not the cash. Whereas, they see a nuclear weapon as the ability to achieve military parity with any other country, US included, in which they can use the "bomb" as a way to deter attack.
And why not, history supports this strategy.
I also don't think Iran is seeking to be a player in the ME, but I have no proof of that, so I will not be able to defend that thought. Just a gut feeling from my readings, which are subject to change.
But what does concern Iran right now is not just the US support of Israel, which has been going on for near 40 years plus. But rather having witness the US go ape-sh*t on her neighbors, for 1: Support of Terrorism, and 2: The suspicion of possessing nuclear technology.
If I was the supreme leader of Iran's theology, I wouldn't need no tea leaves, or the Koran to tell me, "Need to calm the dragon."

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 20, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I got tired of having my comments scrubbed at TPM myself, usually for daring to say that Ivo Daalder and people like him were fools and cowards. So I feel you, Richard Steven Hack, on that point.

OTOH, I'm not sure I see how your framework is really supported by the evidence. I'm intrigued by the picture you paint, but I'm not sure if I buy it. Do you have your own site on which I can read about your ideas in more depth?

APS

Posted by: Ape Man on April 20, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Steven Hack: "So the Iranians - who, having been around for centuries longer than the US has existed, and who thus think in longer time frames than "four-year-shelf-life" US politicians - have decided to use the age-old strategy that the Vietnamese recently and successfully used against the West."

"In other words, stand up, absorb the US airstrikes, use provocations to entice the US to invade the Khuzestan oil province (a tempting target for the neocons because that is where the oil is and it's right across the border from Iraq) - then commit the full might of their military to a ten-year-long guerrilla war against the US occupation."

Your scenario is thoroughly depressing. And it sounds exactly right to me.

It's the oldest ploy in the book: Do what is necessary to encourage your enemy to self-destruct: I have had one judo lesson in my life and that is what they taught me. How many Star Treks had the same premise? How many Hollywood action films?

Why is it so unclear to those morons in the Bushco bubble?

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 20, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it is scary. The possibility of bombing Iran increases with each plunge downward of Bush's favorable poll ratings. Our "decider" buffoon of our cmmander in chief has shown his contempt for citizen concerns, exemplified by his criminal neglect to secure the borders. There is no bi lateral diplomacy with the most dangerous regimes on the planet. The Lugars, Robertsons, Spectors, and all the rest of the senate and house republican chairman of committees, have made a sham of the checks and balance form of our government. They have thrown away their most important governmental role playing attribute. Party above country! Thus they have failed miserably to reign in this messianic maniac running the country.

Posted by: Frank on April 20, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

It is fairly obvious IF . .that's a big "IF" ... the Iranians are attempting to secure nuclear weapons AFTER BEING REFUSED any diplomatic overtures by our murderous administration - DE JA VOUS IRAQ! - can ANY one blame them?

Bush/Cheney's "pre-emptive" behavior also acts as "role models" for other nations who feel threatened. They have NO reason NOT to feel threatened. The American public feels threatened by our White House.

Iranians have more reasons to feel threatened than any nation.

Iran has been attacked over and over again by "foreign powers" for thousands of years for their wealth and natural resources. Witnessing their neighbor, Iraq, being attacked they would be "dumb as posts" for not attempting diplomatic remedies to avoid the "same" and/or be dumb as posts for not preparing to DEFEND THEMSELVES.

It is obvious Bush/Cheney have no intentions of ever using diplomacy, they never did in their own nation with their own citizens, they will never do so in foreign affairs.

The "coalition of the willing" were forced to be willing with use of extortion and blatant threats.

Someone needs to take them out of OUR misery!

Posted by: Bet yer Bippy on April 20, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Americans have a choice. Either like the President so his approval rating is greater than 60%, or prepare for nuking of Iran and it repurcussions.

The least they can do is to apologize to Cheney for keeping his approval numbers so low.

Posted by: nut on April 20, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Although it is true there are reports (I do not speak Farsi and do not trust the MSM to provide honest translations) the Iranian President uses rhetoric that does make him appear to be a wingut, Ahmadinejad has not acted out any wingnut behavior. Iran has not invaded another country on false pretenses of national security. Iran is rationally pursuing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to US and Israeli nuclear annihilation. Iran has discussed its national and strategic security with many other state actors of the world. Unlike our wingnut president, Iran's president seems pretty rational.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 20, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

"The real-world situation for Iran is that they have to shed the "pariah" image, and they do that by making nice-nice with the US.
Also, we have a lot of their money.
Also, we have frozen a lot of their money, whether here, or in other countries. "

Let us counter these point by point.
Iran can shed their "pariah" image with Europe. Making nice with the U.S. won't work because we have differences with their support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Europe is a much easier target for them.

The money. It is $2 billion from one side and $17 billion from the other. Large, but modest by national standards.

The only issue we really have is the bomb, Iran and the U.S. would be perfectly happy to let everything else continue. If Iran is getting the bomb just to heckle the U.S., then we might have cause to take action, for that is a preparation for war.

However, the Iranian bomb serves other purposes, parity with India and Pakistan, defense against the Arabs, and the thrill of being the second country on the block to have the bomb. Hence, the U.S. must insist that these countries get involved in whatever action is required to stop the bomb.

To the extent that Iran makes war noises to the U.S., we should defend. To the extant that Iran is doing multi-lateral policy with the bomb then we have to get the other countries on board.

Israel, on the other hand, is perfectly and internationally justified, within their means, to attack Iran with whatever means they can muster, for the Iranians have all but declared that the bomb is intended to destroy Israel.

Should we support Israel? We can simply loan or sell them whatever equipment they need, I see no problem with that.

Posted by: Matt on April 20, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

In this regard, was Plame's outing only about embarassing Wilson?

Posted by: calguy on April 20, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Although it is true there are reports (I do not speak Farsi and do not trust the MSM to provide honest translations) the Iranian President uses rhetoric that does make him appear to be a wingut, Ahmadinejad has not acted out any wingnut behavior.

Hmmmm...excellent article in The New Republic 14 April of this year. Subscription required.
http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=20060424&s=kuntzel042406

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan...Khomeini sent Iranian children, some as young as twelve years old...marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy...the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck...to open the gates to paradise for them.

"Before entering the minefields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves."

These children who rolled to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979 and militarized after the war started in order to supplement his beleaguered army...."The young men cleared the mines with their own bodies," one veteran of the Iran-Iraq War recalled in 2002 to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. "It was sometimes like a race. Even without the commander's orders, everyone wanted to be first."

The sacrifice of the Basiji was ghastly. And yet, today, it is a source not of national shame, but of growing pride. Since the end of hostilities against Iraq in 1988, the Basiji have grown both in numbers and influence. They have been deployed, above all, as a vice squad to enforce religious law in Iran, and their elite "special units" have been used as shock troops against anti-government forces....

Ahmadinejad revels in his alliance with the Basiji. He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij culture" and "Basij power," with which he says "Iran today makes its presence felt on the international and diplomatic stage."...

According to Shia tradition, legitimate Islamic rule can only be established following the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. Until that time, the Shia have only to wait, to keep their peace with illegitimate rule, and to remember the Prophet's grandson, Hussein, in sorrow. Khomeini, however, had no intention of waiting. He vested the myth with an entirely new sense: The Twelfth Imam will only emerge when the believers have vanquished evil. To speed up the Mahdi's return, Muslims had to shake off their torpor and fight...

A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable.Why should an Iranian president engage in pragmatic politics when his assumption is that, in three or four years, the savior will appear? If the messiah is coming, why compromise? That is why, up to now, Ahmadinejad has pursued confrontational policies with evident pleasure...

...The history of the Basiji shows that we must expect monstrosities from the current Iranian regime. Already, what began in the early '80s with the clearing of minefields by human detonators has spread throughout the Middle East, as suicide bombing has become the terrorist tactic of choice. The motivational shows in the desert--with hired actors in the role of the hidden imam--have evolved into a showdown between a zealous Iranian president and the Western world. And the Basiji who once upon a time wandered the desert armed only with a walking stick is today working as a chemist in a uranium enrichment facility.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

We have met the enemy, and we are he, and he is Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Bubbles on April 20, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

That was long ago. Long before the Iranian election. Long before Bush goaded the the Iranian version of his base, ultra nationalistic religious fundamentalists, into sweeping Ahmadinejad into the presidency.

That isn't to say diplomacy isn't still possible but it's going to be a lot harder. If Bush could pull a diplomatic agreement out of his hat with Iran it would save his ass if for no other reason than gas would drop $1 a gallon. I'm sure God will tell him what to do.

Posted by: rapier on April 20, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Really what this Bush WH failure to seize on an opportunity really reflects is its own arrogance.

Let's remember the context.

At the time of the Iranian offer, it really DID look good, temporarily, for the Bush Doctrine. It really DID seem that the American military could seize and control any country it chose, with relatively minimal fuss. The early phase of the war was a brilliant success for our military, and a well deserved one. It demonstrated that our military is capable beyond our wildest imaginings of success when that success is defined purely as the elimination of a typical standing army and the removal of a regime from power. While people don't often acknowledge this aspect of the war of Iraq, I think that it should play a crucial role in determining what kind of foreign policy we should implement. If the only goal of our war against Iraq had been to eliminate an ACTUAL threat to us via WMD, it would have been a great success.

Where our military failed is when the goal was redefined as "spreading democracy", and nation building. There is nothing in our military's capabilities that really addresses that kind of goal; I doubt that we are generally in a position to support what such a military venture would involve in most circumstances.

The Iranians no doubt responded to the pretty amazing success of our military in the early phase of the war, seeking compromise.

The Bush WH, drunk in its arrogance, stupid with its own triumphalism, would not deign to engage the Iranians at this juncture. They were absolutely sure that what started so well could only end better. They were incapable utterly of entertaining the possibility that things might deteriorate in Iraq.

But deteriorate they did. And then the Iranians realized that it wasn't the US that held them by their nether parts, but quite the other way round. Then, the negotiating power in this bargain turned entirely in their favor. They saw the US military as weak, because it was so spectacularly failing at controlling Iraq.

THAT is why they have chosen to reject their initial offer, and instead to go quite the opposite direction, and to assert their own rights to nuclear power. Likewise, the early concessions made by other Arabic countries to democracy have been largely abandoned; we have no perceived strength.

And we have the arrogance of the Bush WH, its inherent sense of infallibility, to blame for this.

The Bush WH combined, in an evil mixture, the character flaw of arrogance with contempt for experience and rationality.

God only knows what it will take to recover the global reputation the US once enjoyed both for fearsome power and goodwill. Bush has undermined them both from his unique set of personal limitations.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"I just read a really interesting article at informationclearinghouse which dissects his recent speeches in which he supposedly says Israel should be wiped off the map and other incendiary things. It really does appear he's been misquoted in the Western press, no doubt to feed the neocons' fires."

The ratching of the war drum is even more obvious than this.

For example: just wait for the next Yahoo headline in which some wingnut Iranian is quoted as saying something completely insane like: We will cut off America's hand.

Then click on the article and read the story.

You will discover that whomever is writing the headlines for Yahoo is deliberately giving them a hyper-aggressive war spin.

It makes one wonder if neocon operatives haven't embedded themselves into every newsroom and corporate media boardroom in America.

In other words... to bring back an old saying that got a lot of play the first year of Bush's Iraq mess:

We're fucked. Big corporate media wants another war. The enormous short term profits make these goons salivate.

Posted by: koreyel on April 20, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Is The New Republic a right wing rag?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran. ... If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

Yes, we should be talking to Iran. The question is: In what forum, and about what? Public negotiations involve putting a country's prestige on the line. Given the current posturing by both the US and Iran, it's questionable that open direct discussions between Iran and the US would go very far, and may simply increase tensions.

That leaves back-channels and the UN. The problem with back-channels is, as in the past, that the US and Iranian governments are not monoliths, and such discussions are at risk from the left hand not knowing--or actively working against--the right hand.

On our side, the administration needs to get its ducks in a row--including Cheney et. al.--before undertaking such discussions. Otherwise we're likely to end up with a replay of the past, with some progress followed by failure caused by something out of left field that increases ill will. A good start for the administration would be toning down the rhetoric, and as Kevin suggests, bringing Cheney et. al. to heel.

Moreover, we need to be realistic about what can be achieved given the unilateral sticks and carrots available to the US. We have a few carrots, but their value to Iran is debateable, and many of them seem to be of the "les-stick" variety. On the positive side, recognition of Iran as a legitimate regime is one possible carrot. However, it's doubtful this administration could swallow that. And there's always the possibility that the administration could offer something constructive for the Israel-Palestine issue, but that's probably even farther fetched for this administration.

US unilateral sanctions (e.g., the ILSA) have already been in effect for a decade, and while they may have been painful for Iran, they obviously haven't been painful enough. It's questionable whether fully implementing the ILSA (e.g., the secondary sanctions), or any sanctions regime unilaterally imposed by the US, would have much additional effect.

Any rational assessment of Iran's nuclear program suggests we are beyond the point of being able to keep Iran from getting nukes if they really want them; military action at this point, short of invasion or regime change, would be punitive at best, and the risk of blowback is enormous.

That leaves multi-lateral efforts--primarily sticks in the form of sanctions. For those to work, Russia and China have to be on board; the EU seems to be on board, although its unclear if they're willing to pay the price when it comes to implementation. We have failed to get Russia and China on board for a variety of different reasons.

In short, for substantive progress, the US is going to have to: (1) put some of its prestige on the table to engage Iran; (2) put money or US inflience on the table, to bring the rest of the world on board if multi-lateral sanctions are needed; (3) tone down the rhetoric, especially the Pax-Americana-PNAC-freedom-is-on-the-march babble; and (4) at least pay (more) lip-service to a broader solution to the Palestinian issue.

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Don't you know the New Republic's just a nest of Jews? They faked it all! ALL! OIL! JEWS! Etc.


Richard Steven Hack,

So your theory is that the government of Iran plans to kill off "hundreds of thousands if not millions of Iranians" and get their whole country flattened, in order to... to avoid... to avoid the risk of a war that they might lose. Is that right? It's... um... an interesting theory.


"Israel will no longer be able to threaten them with regime change"?

The Israeli attitude about these knuckleheads is "why don't they leave us the hell alone?" Iran's been funding people who massacre Israeli citizens for years. Has Israel demonstrated any interest in escalating things with Iran? No. When you're that size, and you've got the troubles they've got, you don't look for ways to create new problems. The leadership of Iran is sane enough to realize that Israel isn't looking for a fight with them. They may regard that as a sign weakness and therefore an invitation to attack. It's not so far-fetched; that's a common mindset in that part of the world.


"Since the US can't solve the ME problems because of bad faith and greed, we have to rely on the Persians. Only question now is are they up to it."

This is your idea of "solving the problems of the Middle East"? Ooooo-kayyyy...


"...the rest of the Muslim world will spend their oil dollars to achieve conventional military parity with Israel."

They've had the oil dollars for decades, in case you hadn't noticed. They haven't achieved conventional military parity with Israel yet. The study of why Arab armies are such a mess is an interesting one. They're not helpless victims; they're massively incompetent aggressors -- more often against each other than against Israel, even. And that's got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are a lot of Jews living nearby.


"...as has been noted with Osama, the religion of Islam REQUIRES them to offer a negotiated out to their enemies before going to war."

And everybody who has a religion obeys absolutely every tenet of it every minute of every day. Riiight. And you're an expert on Islam, too. Golly!


"...the Iranians [have] been around for centuries longer than the US has existed..."

This will probably come as a profound shock to you, but the white people in the United States didn't spring out of the ground in 1776. They came from other places, and they had a history there, too. In fact, just about everybody has a history leading back quite a long ways.


The rest of your predictions drift farther into fantasy than I can be bothered to follow.


PTate in MN,

"I have had one judo lesson in my life and that is what they taught me. How many Star Treks had the same premise? How many Hollywood action films?"

One ENTIRE judo lesson? You stayed for the WHOLE LESSON? Wow! That's amazing! And you've watched Star Trek too, and you've even been to the MOVIES!

Boy, we sure could save a lot of money on West Point if we just gave prospective cadets one judo lesson and a TV!

If that was a deliberate parody of dorm-room military experts planning grand strategy over their bongs, it was magnificent. If not, it was still magnificent, but in a different way.

Posted by: Captain Carbohydrate on April 20, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

It is fairly obvious IF . .that's a big "IF" ... the Iranians are attempting to secure nuclear weapons AFTER BEING REFUSED any diplomatic overtures by our murderous administration - DE JA VOUS IRAQ! - can ANY one blame them?

Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons before Bush was even elected.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad nobody over here noticed this sooner--while Khatami was still in office (not that it would have mattered). The Financial Times covered this story on March 17, 2004 (see "US split over Iranian bid to renew relations")

Posted by: Jeff on April 20, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent that Iran makes war noises to the U.S., we should defend.

It is the US who is making war 'noises' to Iran, which are really threats. Iran is trying to open dialogue, you mendacious mass murdering scumbag.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 20, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel,

"It makes one wonder if neocon operatives haven't embedded themselves into every newsroom and corporate media boardroom in America."

Thanks. I laughed out loud.

But what scares me is I really can't tell which of the comments here are parody, and which are genuine. More than half are too insane to be real.

I'm having to face up to the possibility that there are no actual lefties here, just righties laughing themselves hoarse. It's a mighty weird possibility. But that's okay. Weird is good.

Posted by: Captain Carbohydrate on April 20, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Is The New Republic a right wing rag?

It didn't used to be, but these days, pretty much. It may as well call itself The New Republican.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Americans have a choice. Either like the President so his approval rating is greater than 60%, or prepare for nuking of Iran and it repurcussions."

Sorry, nut. Higher ratings would only make them think people want the coming war, while lower ratings make them need to have a war.

That's why I don't understand all this talk about how low poll numbers make bush weak. It would make normal human beings feel like they're in a weaker position and make them look for wider support, but bush is not normal. He and Cheney will use to the hilt whatever powers they think they have until the stroke of noon on January 20, 2009.

Posted by: Altoid on April 20, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

It didn't used to be, but these days, pretty much. It may as well call itself The New Republican.

Out of curiousity, did you gander the article? I know it's tough reading with those purple-coated digits up the wazoo.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my god, it just keeps getting better! Now, The Reverend Hostile puts on his best cartoon-death-metal-vocalist voice and growls,

"Iran is trying to open dialogue, you mendacious mass murdering scumbag."

"Trying to open dialogue"?! Have you paid any attention at all to a single word that anybody in the Iranian government has said for the last six months? Have you not noticed the way they play such deliberately insulting (humiliating, by ME standards) games with the Europeans, who are trying very hard to open dialogue and getting nothing but sand in the face for it? They have a golden opportunity to make nice with a whole herd of our allies, who are desperate to make it happen. They are using that opportunity to piss on our allies' heads, and on that of the UN.


Can any of you people even make an attempt to explain recent Iranian diplomatic behavior in terms of your theory that the gov't of Iran is a bunch of nice guys just trying to do what's best for everybody?

Posted by: Captain Carbohydrate on April 20, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - Every time I've looked at The New Republic for the last couple years now, they've been hostile to the administration. Yes, there was a time when they gingerly agreed with the admin. on a good number of things, and it's possible they still do, from time to time; I don't read it regularly. But they're way too hostile way too often to be anything like "The New Republican".

You're out of date.

Posted by: Captain Carbohydrate on April 20, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Captain Carbohydrate
Can any of you people even make an attempt to explain recent Iranian diplomatic behavior in terms of your theory that the gov't of Iran is a bunch of nice guys just trying to do what's best for everybody?

You've obviously never enjoyed the pleasure of a delightfully warm (98.6 degrees) Persian golden shower. Your cultural ignorance is showing. It's how they show respect, by blessing us with their (nonfluoridated! democratic plot!) bodily fluids. Like a christenting. At least that's what they tell you. They say something else in Farsi to each other and laugh a lot.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

>Is The New Republic a right wing rag?

When it comes to Middle Easterners that aren't Israeli, they are world-class pants-pee'ers on a par with LGF. Just a bit more polished.

In any case, I don't get the point of your post. They were attacked by Iraq and initally were getting the shit kicked out of them. It doesn't excuse what they did, but hey I can't even explain let alone excuse religious wackology, can you?

Posted by: doesn't matter on April 20, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Is The New Republic a right wing rag?

Yes, when it comes to Israeli hegemony.

When TNR printed articles slandering Hannah Arendt because of her writings about the Holocaust and the Eichmann trial, I had my suspicions. When TNR printed articles rationalizing Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, I became aware of its intentions. When TNR printed rabid anti-Palestinian articles by Martin Peretz, I stopped reading it.

RSM, that Iraq/Iran war your TNR article referenced was started by Saddam at the request, funding and arming of the US of A. As a matter of fact, Rumsfeld delivered satellite photos to Saddam, pinpointing the area to drop the chemical weapons, which the US helped Saddam obtain.

TNR is not really a conservative or liberal rag, it is really a Stalinist tool, calculating every article's impact on Americans' impression of Israel.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 20, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Captain C,
I've never been a lefty, and it is unlikely I will ever be a lefty.
Though I do have concerns that my wife is amused at my Leftist descent from my previous Righteous height.

Matt,
Um, okay, I'm going to go with...sure, why not. Lets bomb Iran into the stone age, and then seek to build another grand and glorious idol to Bush and Cheney's godhood. You know, just like the one we're building in Iraq.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 20, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

RSM, that Iraq/Iran war your TNR article referenced was started by Saddam at the request, funding and arming of the US of A. As a matter of fact, Rumsfeld delivered satellite photos to Saddam, pinpointing the area to drop the chemical weapons, which the US helped Saddam obtain.

OK, great. So what does that have to do with anything the article speaks to? Are you saying they would have used little old lady suicide squads otherwise?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

>Can any of you people even make an attempt to explain recent Iranian diplomatic behavior in terms of your theory that the gov't of Iran is a bunch of nice guys just trying to do what's best for everybody?

Can you explain Bush/Cheney as "a bunch of nice guys just trying to do what's best for everybody? "??

Posted by: doesn't matter on April 20, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

I am saying 1)you cannot believe anything you read in TNR regarding Iran, 2)Iran was facing an existential threat and used the only means it had to protect iself, regrettably, 3)the US would do the same thing under the same circumstances, 4)the Reagan administration ejaculated in their pants at the thought of hundreds of thousands of dead Iranian children, and 5)so did you.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 20, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons before Bush was even elected.

Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and fuel enrichment goes back to the Shah. On the covert side, a low level effort weapons effort started in the mid-70's; including both plutonium- and uranium-based efforts. A secret contract with South Africa for $700M in yellowcake was signed in 1976; how much was delivered is unknown.

On the over side, when the Shah fell, there were plans for 23 power reactors to be operational by the mid-90's; contracts were outstanding for six; two reactors at Bushehr were over half complete (part of the delay in getting the Russian-designed Bushehr reactor operational is retrofttting); and prep for two more were underway. Iran also had (and has) a 10% interest in Eurodif (uranium enrichment). Reportedly, Iran was also about to be granted rights to reprocess spent fuel by the US.

As you might guess, Tehran views current US attitudes as somewhat two-faced.

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

has407:

As you might guess, Tehran views current US attitudes as somewhat two-faced.

The "attitudes" are perfectly consistent.

To the best of my knowledge, the Shah, whatever his other failings, wasn't advocating the annihilation of Israel, claiming he was surrounded by auras, and calling for the return of the Mahdi and the worldwide rule of Islam.

Nobody stays up nights worrying about what Britain is going to do with its atomic arsenal. Or Israel, for that matter. I don't think you could say the same for the current Iranian regime.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 20, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK


I dont know whether anyone has posted this link yet on this thread [I have been too busy to follow it completely] so I apologize if this is duplicative. However, this article really is worth a read. It is written in a somewhat disjointed fashion, but two German writers challenge the Western medias rendering of President Ahmadinejads speeches in 2005 that purportedly advocated wiping Israel off the map. As I read it, several Western media outlets, CNN included (that bastion of liberal thinking) trumped up what he said, to make him sound even crazier than he seems to be. In fact, it appears Ahmadinejad in one speech, was in fact quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini, rather than giving voice to his own thoughts. I am not being an apologist for this guy, but this sheds more light on the effort to settle this issue with Iran using violence, rather than diplomacy. It appears to me to be a case of deliberate provocation through misrepresentation. Judge for yourself.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 20, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Stephen Kriz.

Soon many US soldiers will be learning a bit of Farsi, just like they have been learning Arabic for the past three years. Maybe then we will find out what was really said. Kind of like that Hugo Chavez lie that was going round a short while ago. Unfortunately for Bush and the MSM, many Americans speak Spanish.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 20, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz -- As I said, Tehran views. And, for those of you who missed it:

Due to persistent conflicts between the parliament and the Council of Guardians, Ayatollah Khomeini ruled in 1988 that the interests of state ranked above all ordinances that were derived or directly commanded by Allah. The Expediency Council was established to institutionalize this principle. [emphasis in original]

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody stays up nights worrying about what Britain is going to do with its atomic arsenal. Or Israel, for that matter. I don't think you could say the same for the current Iranian regime.

I don't think you could say the same for the current American regime, either. Plenty of people are staying up nights worrying about whether an increasingly unstable Bush will decide to play out his Bunkerbuster! fantasies....

Of course the key difference is that unlike Iran, we actually have nuclear weapons, and unlike Britain, Israel and every other nuclear power, we've actually used them to commit mass murder against a civilian population.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Reverend Hostile
2)Iran was facing an existential threat and used the only means it had to protect iself, regrettably, 3)the US would do the same thing under the same circumstances

Really???

Another good reason not to have a democrat as President.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the key difference is that unlike Iran, we actually have nuclear weapons, and unlike Britain, Israel and every other nuclear power, we've actually used them to commit mass murder against a civilian population.

So you are equating dropping the bomb on Japan to Rwanda or Kosovo or the gas chambers in the concentration camps? Moral parity? If so, we didn't we just keep dropping bombs and firebombs to exterminate them? Why'd we stop? Why'd we bring democracy to them? Hell, we had the upper hand. Maybe because our purpose wasn't murder?

You're in a particularly America-hating mood today, Stefan.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have my own "pundit" site or blog yet, but eventually I'm sure I will.

As for whether I have any evidence for my theory that the Iranians are applying the Vietnamese strategy, well, obviously I don't have any direct quotes from any Iranian leader to that effect.

However, if you look at the response of every Muslim nation that has so far been attacked by the US - it seems obvious that's the only strategy they CAN follow.

None of these nations, including Iran, can directly stand up to US military power. This is in contrast to, say, North Korea, which actually HAS nukes, as well as a one million man military that WILL fight us to the death, and CAN wipe out the 35,000 troops we have in South Korea in about 48-72 hours once they get rolling. And who, by the way, doesn't have any oil.

The Taliban in Afghanistan collapsed almost immediately - and now, according to news reports, have either regained effective control of many of the provinces in Afghanistan - or the warlords have.

In Iraq, the insurgency is well on the way to keeping the US puppet regime in check for the foreseeable future and is continuing to bleed the US of money ($10 billion per month) and bodies. And if the US attacks Iran, it's likely the Shia militia will join them. Serious military analysts have said the US presence in Iraq will then be untenable. It is unclear whether Saddam's war plans called for just this sort of guerrilla effect, but that's what happened anyway.

The war is already costing more monetarily than Vietnam ever did. A guerrilla war in Iran will cost us probably four or five times as much as the current insurgency in Iraq - if not more, coming as it will ON TOP OF the cost of the Iraq insurgency which isn't going away anytime soon.

So I think it's clear that the Iranians, while preferring to negotiate their way out of being attacked, know it's not likely to work. They also should know, despite their militant rhetoric, that they can't directly confront US military power. They might try for a bit so their own population sees that they tried. But eventually they'll have to pack that in because it's just not feasible to throw even their one to six million man militia in frontal attacks against B-52 carpet-bombing and C-130 gunships.

That leaves them with one choice - lure the US in and conduct the "Long War" that Bush and the military-industrial complex and the Democratic and Republican politicians they have in their pocket are longing for.

By the way, the "Senator From Israel" Joe Lieberman has just come out and said he favors a military attack on Iran if negotiations don't work. Since he knows there ARE no negotiations being done by the US, this tells you where he's at.

According to Sy Hersh, several Congressmen were brief on the Bush war plans - including one Democratic Congressman - well, I guess we know who that was. All were on board for it. Their only concern was whether the nuclear bunker busters could go deep enough to destroy the Iranian facilities.

They weren't concerned about the nuclear fallout estimated to kill anywhere from several hundred thousand to three million people in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as a result of such an attack.

Of course, it's quite possible the Iranian leadership is composed of complete idiots, and they will really try to confront the US headon, and lose disastrously, and then get overthrown.

But anybody betting on that outcome had better not bet the rent money.


Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 20, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, but isn't this thread slightly overly familiar: we know how things are, based on empirical observations and reason. Then we have the assorted whores here refusing to engage in honest debate. Why should we bother to rehearse the facts of the matter again and again. It is like "debating" Karl Rove, empty of meaning. The spin matters, the base matters, the facts we can forget. So, how many times do we have to go through the motions?

Posted by: jonathan on April 20, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another point that the right wingnuts and even most of the "concerned" leftists don't understand.

The US has absolutely NO legal basis for attacking Iran.

It had none for attacking Iraq, but at the time there was still some question over whether prior UN resolutions at the time of the first Gulf War authorizd the US to do so. Only later was it revealed that even the British Law Lords had extreme doubts of the legality. Most international law experts had weighed in that the war was and is illegal. Which makes everything the US does there illegal. Which on the face of it makes the US a war criminal.

In the case of Iran, there is NO LEGALITY WHATSOVER to the US bombing them. NONE. There are NO applicable UN sanctions. There will be none.

If you want the US to unilaterally be able to attack ANYONE at ANY time just on the SUSPICION that they MIGHT SOMEDAY have nuclear weapons, well, just come out and say you advocate the complete abandonment of international law and negotiations. Just start firing up the military and act like Genghis Khan from now on.

Rice just said we have the right to attack Iran in "self defense". "Self defense"??? While I'm a believer in kicking someone's ass as soon as it's clear they're going to try to kick yours, NOTHING about the Iranian situation justifies the expected consequences of this war on the basis of "self defense". Not even Israel is not likely to have to fear an Iranian first strike even if they HAD nuclear weapons - which, I remind everyone, they don't and there is no evidence they will anytime soon.

People who base the idea of attacking a non-nuclear nation with nuclear weapons and killing scores or hundreds of thousand of civilians (up to three million) based on the rhetoric of a government official who doesn't even have the power to launch a war and does not control the military are obviously psychotic.

Which reminds me - last week the British Foreign Minister said that any discussion of attack Iran with nuclear bunker buster bombs was "completely nuts."

This week Bush refused to take the option off the table.

So did the British Foreign Minister retroactively call the President of the United States "completely nuts"?

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 20, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Correction - that should be "Not even Israel is likely to to have to fear an Iranian first strike even if they HAD nuclear weapons."

By the way, the reason for that statement is that the US would continue to protect Israel from nuclear attack anyway. The point of the Iranians getting a nuclear weapons is simply to remove the option of regime change on the part of the US and Israel - because if the mullahs are going to be targeted anyway in a regime change program, they would then have no reason NOT to nuke Israel.

So if they have nukes, Israel and the US have to back off from regime change.

The Iranians don't need to even use a nuke. They just need to be known to have them.

This is why MAD worked throughout the Cold War. Leaders don't want to die. If Iran makes it clear that they will remove Israel's leaders if Israel or the US tries to remove its leaders, then Iran will not be attacked.

It's that simple.

On that basis, it would be a good thing for Iran to get nukes because it would remove one major reason for continuing war in the ME - the Israeli aggression-by-proxy program of regime change by getting the US to do its dirty work for it. It would also slow down the neocons plans for American Empire via control of the ME.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 20, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats want to convince average Americans that they have a coherent vision on foreign policy and national security, Iran is a good place to start. We know the Republican vision -- Iran is part of the Axis of Evil (and given the history of the Mad Mullahs, it's easy to understand why -- just do a body count since the time the Shah fell). The Republican vision is that Iran won't get nukes, somehow, leaving the 'somehow' on the fuzzy side.

So if Kevin Drum wants the Dems to do well in 2006 and beyond, how about laying out a plan by which Iran is convinced, without bombing and without war, to give up its aspirations for nuclear weapons? How about telling us how you'll work to get the Iranians to cooperate a little in vital areas, and what you'd give in return?

The election is coming: it's rare that you beat something with nothing. The Dems have nothing right now. Let's hear a plan.--Steve White

Why is the responsibility of Democrats to fix problems created by Republicans?

Seriously.

The Republicans screw-up Iraq and somehow the Republicans should remain in power until the Dems figure out how to fix the unfixable.

If Dems implemented a $500 billion social program that didn't work should the Dems be left in power until the GOP proposed a bigger and better social program?

No, the GOP would call for cutting the nation's losses.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

RSH, international law is for weanies.

BTW, what was the legal authority for NATO attacking Yugoslavia? Or Clinton ordering the bombing of the el Shifa pharamceutical plant in Sudan?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

So you are equating dropping the bomb on Japan to Rwanda or Kosovo or the gas chambers in the concentration camps? Moral parity? If so, we didn't we just keep dropping bombs and firebombs to exterminate them? Why'd we stop? Why'd we bring democracy to them? Hell, we had the upper hand. Maybe because our purpose wasn't murder?

I know you're fond of claiming that people said things they never actually did, but were in what I wrote did I equate bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Rwanda or Kosovo or the Holocaust? Nowhere, that's where. I did say, though, that America is the only country in history to use nuclear weapons against a civilian population center, which is nothing more than documented historical fact.

Maybe because our purpose wasn't murder?

No matter what our purpose was, it wouldn't have mattered much to the people who were burned and boiled alive. Or do you believe that deliberately dropping bombs on civilians with the explicit aim of killing them isn't murder?

You're in a particularly America-hating mood today, Stefan.

Oh, go suck your own twat. That tired tactic doesn't work anymore.

Posted by: Stefan on April 20, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the responsibility of Democrats to fix problems created by Republicans?

Do you want to get elected? I assume the answer is "yes". Do you think you'll have a chance of getting elected if you don't with some approaches to "fix" things? Duh.

Stop using the "it's the repubs problem" argument as an excuse for empty thought.

Besides, what's the harm in suggesting fixes? You afraid the republicans are going to steal your good ideas? Do something that might actually help america without putting you in charge? Better to let things get worse, using our military and the Iraqis as pawns, letting more die now so fewer will die later? Sounds calculating...

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, should clarify the previous post... US attitudes concerning acquisition of nukes by the Shah vs. the current regime (or others, with one notable exception) have been consistent. US attitudes concerning civilian nuclear power and fuel cycle of the Shah vs. the current regime, are demonstrably inconsistent. In any case, nothing in the NPT precludes Iran from complete control of the fuel cycle.

While that doesn't solve any problems, we should keep the two issues nominally separate, although obviously the potential for breakout is much higher if you have control of the fuel cycle (e.g., DPRK).

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
I did say, though, that America is the only country in history to use nuclear weapons against a civilian population center

No, you said...

unlike Britain, Israel and every other nuclear power, we've actually used them to commit mass murder against a civilian population.

So suck on your own twat.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

The aptly-named Reverend Hostile writes, It is the US who is making war 'noises' to Iran, which are really threats. Iran is trying to open dialogue, ...

Um, no. Iran has been making war noises since the Mullahs took over in 1979. They had a pointless war with Iraq, they've been provoking us and their Gulf State neighbors (remember the small shooting war we had with them in 1988), and they've been talking smack the whole time.

Remember: they are revolutionaries. They are Islamists, and they truly believe that their brand of Islam is going to prevail. They want nuclear weapons so that they can further that dream. That a number of the Mullahs are also pragmatic (but not Rafsanjani, who is no pragmatist of any kind) simply shows that they're also pretty smart, and know that they can't win the revolution in a day.

They pursue nukes as a shield: the sword in the other hand is their continued support for terrorist groups around the region and in the world. It's the continued support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza, for Hamas, and for other groups. It's the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina and attacks on Israelis elsewhere.

The Mullahs are expansionist and plan to export their revolution. The nuclear shield keeps us off their back long enough so that they can do it. A nuclear weapons program also allows them to threaten their neighbors, especially the smalller ones. The Gulf States, for example, will have to make a decision whether to play ball with Iran or to depend on us for protection (given what you Dems have been saying or doing, that's going to be an easy call for them). The Mullahs have grievances with almost every one of their neighbors, and having a nuclear weapons program tips the resolution of grievances in their favor.

As to Iran opening dialogue, please note the 'dialogue' they've had with the EU-3. It's been a classic 'rope-a-dope' strategy that has bought them time to keep their nuclear program going, and it's worked. No one really believes the EU-3 will succeed.

The Iranian claim for dialogue, then and now, is insincere. It's meant to sucker the Left. Not that it's hard to do that, but they did it.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Carl Nyberg writes, Why is the responsibility of Democrats to fix problems created by Republicans?

It's the difference between being a nagging, partisan hack and statesmanship.

One would think the Dems would want to fix problems, and that power would be the meanns to that end. Therefore, you'd do the hard, heavy intellectual work now to demonstrate to the country how serious you are about fixing the problems.

If, however, your only goal in getting power back in the fall elections is to impeach GWB, well then, you need do nothing more to demonstrate to the country what your plans are.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan writes, America is the only country in history to use nuclear weapons against a civilian population center, which is nothing more than documented historical fact.

Yes. And you might consider the circumstances under which we used them, and fire-bombed Tokyo, etc. In particular, the Iranians should think about those circumstances.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

RSM, what is your desired end state for Iraq?

By what measure has progress been made since March, 2003? Since April, 2005?

How will Bush's current policies lead to your desired end state?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Steven Hack writes, "Not even Israel is likely to to have to fear an Iranian first strike even if they HAD nuclear weapons."

Mr. Hack, the current and past leadership of Iran has stated, explicitly and on several occasions, that when they get nuclear weapons they will use them on Israel. ex-President Rafsanjani has made it clear that he'd sacrifice a considerable portion of his own people if, in the end, Israel ceased to exist.

Now then, there's a political truism here: when the murderous leaders of a dictatorial state make threats, they usually mean it.

It's convenient for us in the West to ignore this, or make light of it, or talk ourselves into thinking that they really don't mean it, because to take them seriously means we have to do something about it, and that's hard. It means hard work, and risk, and deprivation. It's easier to explain the problem away, and that's what is happening both in the U.S. and Europe.

Israel absolutely must fear an out-of-the-blue first strike on itself from Iran. The Iranians have told them that it's coming. The Israelis would be foolish and irresponsible in the extreme to ignore them.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Predictions:

1. The US will experience the second Great Depression in less than 80 years, primarily over its economic straits as well as its rushing to war (which are related);

2. There will be a military draft implemented, and utilized, in the USA before 2008 (as the op-ed in the NY Times today so urged, so be it);

3. Camps, which are already being built courtesy of Halliburton and KBR, will be used in the USA to keep dissidents, legal aliens, illegal aliens, and others deemed fit by the ruling party;

4. Potential "liquidation" of "undesirables" could occur at these camps;

5. The rest of the world dumps the dollar, causing the US to strike out like a wounded elephant at South America, East Asia, Europe, the Mid-East and South Asia;

6. The American people will just sit there and watch it all, being essentially helpless, powerless and thus useless to prevent the USA from becoming what it defeated in 1945........

You're all like frogs boiling slowly in a fascist pot, having no clue about the gravity of the issues that surround you, despite all of the fun armchair banter on boards like these.

Posted by: Enrique Chavez on April 20, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, are you serious about "heavy intellectual work"?

Bush's Iraq policy was built on lies, mistakes and incorrect conjecture.

What's the point of engaging in honest discussion of policies with people who prioritize ideology over truth?

Here's what I see of Right Wingers. Whenever one tries to discuss issues, the Right Wingers will consistently try to deflect the discussion from the merits of the case to discussing the people involved and impugning the motives of anybody who isn't allied with the Right.

So cry me a fucking river about "heavy intellectual lifting". Ya'll are cowards, afraid of the truth.

The Dems may be clueless, but at least they're not lying to create a war to pocket a commission on the war profits.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Steven Hack brings up another hoary chestnut: The US has absolutely NO legal basis for attacking Iran.

It had none for attacking Iraq, but at the time there was still some question over whether prior UN resolutions at the time of the first Gulf War authorizd the US to do so. Only later was it revealed that even the British Law Lords had extreme doubts of the legality. Most international law experts had weighed in that the war was and is illegal. Which makes everything the US does there illegal. Which on the face of it makes the US a war criminal.

As it turns out, what the UN thinks is absolutely immaterial under American law. Ditto for international law (assuming that anyone even knows what that is). What make our invasion into Iraq legal, as far as our Constitution was concerned, was a Congressional resolution. That's it, game over, thanks for playing.

Your concern about international law is touching but irrelevant.

In the case of Iran, there is NO LEGALITY WHATSOVER to the US bombing them. NONE. There are NO applicable UN sanctions.

And there won't be as long as Russia and China are around. If it's your belief that the U.S. can never act in the absence of a UNSC resolution, then you've ceded control of our foreign policy to those two states. That of course is unacceptable to anyone to the right of Dennis Kucinich.

If it comes down to it, what would make bombing Iran 'legal' is a resolution from Congress. That's the appropriately high bar any president has to clear.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

If Israel refuses to make peace with its neighbors, why is this a U.S. problem?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Carl Nyberg writes, Steve White, are you serious about "heavy intellectual work"?

Why yes I am. You might not believe this, but ideas really do matter.

Bush's Iraq policy was built on lies, mistakes and incorrect conjecture.

Incorrect conjecture at several points, yes. Mistakes, of course -- nothing this big is ever error-free. I've been reading some histories of the American involvement in WWII, and it's fortunate for FDR that you guys weren't around then. Lies? Not a one. GWB told you exactly why we invaded. We had six reasons, and one of them (WMD) was incorrect -- not a lie, incorrect. The others were completely valid then and valid today.

What's the point of engaging in honest discussion of policies with people who prioritize ideology over truth?

Well, that's a big problem with trying to debate you Dems :-)

Here's what I see of Right Wingers. Whenever one tries to discuss issues, the Right Wingers will consistently try to deflect the discussion from the merits of the case to discussing the people involved and impugning the motives of anybody who isn't allied with the Right.

If I were a right winger I'd try to respond to that.

So cry me a fucking river about "heavy intellectual lifting". Ya'll are cowards, afraid of the truth.

Ideas matter. Americans respond to a coherent set of ideas and positions. If you want a majority, you have to make clear what you'll do with it. The Republicans proved that in 1994.

The Dems may be clueless, but at least they're not lying to create a war to pocket a commission on the war profits.

That's a pretty clueless and ideological statement right there, and I just have to shake my head at it. There's no way to respond to that sort of silliness.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Enrique Chavez,

1. Depression. Probably, but it will be different. The upper quintile will do well. And after the depression is over, the bottom 50% will never recover. More and more we will have a developing world country within the United States.

2. I don't see a draft working. I think too many Americans will just ignore the draft notices. How many people need to ignore the notices to make it impractical to prosecute them all? Once "draftees" learn that others are ignoring with impunity cooperation will be voluntary, right?

3. Camps? The Bush administration would have to engineer a 911-type attack to create the fear to sell the need for camps.

5. I do agree that military action becomes more likely as the United State perceives it is losing international stature.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Um, no. Iran has been making war noises since the Mullahs took over in 1979.

Um, no. It has ebbed and flowed. On both sides. And in any case, it hasn't always represented what's happening. Try looking beneath the rhetoric for once.

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, is it your position that no senior member of the Bush administration lied to advance the case for war against Iraq?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Carl Nyberg writes, If Israel refuses to make peace with its neighbors, why is this a U.S. problem?

The only way for Israel to make 'peace' is for them to commit suicide. The Arabs will settle for nothing less. A radical Arab wants all the Jews dead today, a moderate Arab will settle for a Palestiniann state in the West Bank/Gaza today, and all the Jews dead tomorrow.

That might not bother you (I'm guessing it doesn't) but it sure bothers the Israelis.

And it's a U.S. problem because we and the Israelis are allies. We have a common heritage, common belief systems, and common goals. Why shouldn't we be allies?

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, do you support the Constitution?

What does the Constitution say about treaties?

Is the UN Charter a legally ratified treaty?

What does the UN Charter say about the United States attacking Iran?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Carl: Steve White, is it your position that no senior member of the Bush administration lied to advance the case for war against Iraq?

Nope, they didn't lie. They might have bent the truth here and there; that happens in international politics. I'm not bothered by it.

I strongly supported removing Saddam from power. That the WMD issue turned out to be incorrect matters not to me. He was a genocidal thug, and I'm happy that he's in jug and that his evil spawn sons are dead.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Israel can make peace or commit genocide.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Carl: What does the Constitution say about treaties?

They have the same force of law as federal legislation. Don't toss Article VI at me, the liberal interpretation of that, that treaties are elevated to the same level as the Constitution, is wrong, and the USSC has said so. I can give you the long version of that, but for now I'm giving you the short version. Nothing in our country is higher than the Constitution, and one can't elevate the UN Charter above it except by Amendment.

Is the UN Charter a legally ratified treaty?

Yup, but it has no more force of law than a federal law, and it can be amended as we wish when we need to. The Iraq resolution was a perfect example of that.

What does the UN Charter say about the United States attacking Iran?

Beats me. You're the liberal, you tell me. I suspect it says nothing at all about it.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Carl: Israel can make peace or commit genocide.

You could say the same thing about the Palestinians.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, if your position is that Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney, Rice and Wolfowitz didn't lie to get the war, you aren't worth a serious discussion.

How bout Rumsfeld's claim that Iraq had chemical weapons and he knew where they were?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 20, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Enrique Chavez predicts:

1. The US will experience the second Great Depression in less than 80 years, primarily over its economic straits as well as its rushing to war (which are related);

Why? We have an economy that's moving along. It's the strongest economy in the world by far. We have nearly 300 million hard working people, lots of liquid capital, and a legal/financial system that's stable. The only way to wreck this bounty is to put a bunch of liberal progressives in power ...

... oh right, now I see the problem.

2. There will be a military draft implemented, and utilized, in the USA before 2008 (as the op-ed in the NY Times today so urged, so be it);

We'll have a draft only if Democrats return to power. No Republican with a national presence wants one, and the military doesn't want it. The only people pushing a draft are Democrats.

3. Camps, which are already being built courtesy of Halliburton and KBR, will be used in the USA to keep dissidents, legal aliens, illegal aliens, and others deemed fit by the ruling party;

That's Kucinich/McKinney nuttiness.

4. Potential "liquidation" of "undesirables" could occur at these camps;

That's Kucinich/McKinney nuttiness.

5. The rest of the world dumps the dollar, causing the US to strike out like a wounded elephant at South America, East Asia, Europe, the Mid-East and South Asia;

For the rest of the world to dump the dollar, it has to have somewhere to go. You can't stash your money under a mattress. The Euro is way over-rated and the Europeans are having way more problems than we are. Japan is just emerging from recession, and there's no other currency in the world that can be used to float an international economy.

So, nice fantasy on your part, but cold, hard facts say that the dollar is going to be just fine.

6. The American people will just sit there and watch it all, being essentially helpless, powerless and thus useless to prevent the USA from becoming what it defeated in 1945........

Helpless? You don't know America too well. Check out United 93 when it comes out.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "I have a suggestion. But first I want to tell you George Bush screwed everything up and everything is a mess and the sky is falling. So, I'll tell you my idea. But don't hold me accountable because Bush McChimpHitler messed it up so bad."

Posted by: Paddy Whack on April 20, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

I want to party with Carl, what an optimist!

Steve, don't bother wasting logic or common sense on this guy, He's the minority (unhinged)fringe of the minority party.

Posted by: Jay on April 20, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Carl: Steve White, if your position is that Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney, Rice and Wolfowitz didn't lie to get the war, you aren't worth a serious discussion.

Well then, my friend, sign off. They didn't lie to get us into war. We went willingly. Please review the polls and the votes in fall, 2002.

How bout Rumsfeld's claim that Iraq had chemical weapons and he knew where they were?

Yup, that's what everyone thought, including a lot of Democrats (do we have to run all those quotes again?). That's what happens when you have lousy intel and a CIA that is dysfunctional. But just about every leader in the world thought that Saddam was dirty, Rumsfeld included.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

This is a very important post and one of the best I have seen on any blog in the last two years.

Posted by: slm on April 20, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Let me please interrupt the Steve White Show for one pertinent question:

Where is Osama????

Mission NOT Accomplished!!!!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 20, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Kriz asks, Where is Osama????

Mission NOT Accomplished!!!!


I personally think he's dead: either he's cranberry goo in a cave near Tora-Bora, or he died in Peshawar late last year (that according to Michael Ledeen). Osama loved the camera too much and we haven't seen him in a long, long time.

But I suppose, if you define the mission so narrowly as to demand Osama's head and nothing more, than the mission hasn't yet been accomplished.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

"What make our invasion into Iraq legal, as far as our Constitution was concerned, was a Congressional resolution. That's it, game over, thanks for playing."

I love it when people who think they know the Constitution - don't.

A Huffpo blog entry actually discusses this very thing today. I quote from that article:

"In 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed. It renounced war as "an instrument of policy."

It's a treaty and it's still in effect and that makes it, according to Article VI of the Constitution, American law:

... all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Germany and Japan were also among the signatories. Obviously, they did not abide by it. But their violation of the treaty became one of the legal foundations for the war crimes trials.

Three types of war crimes were defined at Nuremberg in 1945: crimes committed during war as violations of the norms of war, crimes against humanity, like genocide, and, on top of the list, was to start a war:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

That same year, in another step toward trying to end war, at least between countries, the United Nations was formed. The UN Charter, Article 2, Section 4, says:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state ....

The United States, one of the founders of the UN, signed the charter. It is, like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty. Therefore it becomes, according to the Constitution, part of US law."

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 20, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White: As to Iran opening dialogue, please note the 'dialogue' they've had with the EU-3. It's been a classic 'rope-a-dope' strategy that has bought them time to keep their nuclear program going, and it's worked. No one really believes the EU-3 will succeed.

The EU-3 effort ended in February; talks continued with Russia. The "rope-a-dope" was to keep the IAEA Board from reporting Iran to the UNSC. The EU-3 and Russia talks played a supporting role.

In any case, Iran surely realized that even with an agreement to enrich and reprocess fuel out-of-country, the matter wasn't going to end there. Additional demands were being made, and new demands would undoubtedly arise. The cat (or something very similar) was out of the bag some time ago.

What might have been done better is debatable. But there's no question this administration has been asleep at the wheel for some time, as the US delegation's performance at the 2005 NPT Review Conference attests.

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Hack, you mis-understand Article VI.

Treaties are NOT co-equal with the Constitution. Treaties are federal law (once ratified and the enabling legislation passed) but they are not equal to the Constitution. Therefore, they can be amended, repealed, or put to one side when required. When Congress passed the authorization resolution for the Iraq invasion, it explicitly laid out the reasons for doing so and put all other obligations to one side.

The UN Charter has no more power than any other federal law, and can be set aside whenever it's in our interests to do so.

In parsing Article VI, you've run into the usual problem. The difficulty is that the word "Constitution" is used twice in this sentence and it means different things each time. The first time, "This Constitution" refers to the US Constitution. The second refers to state constitutions. Keep in mind that the 13 states were sovereign at the time the Constitution was written, and the Framers needed a way to subordinate the state constitutions to federal law and the Federal constitution. That's the purpose of Article VI.

The other critical thing is that Article VI lists the US Constitution, laws of the United States, and treaties made by the United States as the "supreme law of the land". But that doesn't put the laws of the United States at the same level as the Constitution, and when laws and the Constitution come into conflict, the Constitution wins and the laws are declared null and void. That's basic constitutional law, and I said earlier, the US Supreme Court has said this clearly. It's settled constitutional law.

So the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter, etc., all exist equivalent (in the US) as equal to federal law, and not as equal or above the Constitution. To do that would abrogate the powers of either the President or the Congress, and we can't have that.

The Huffpo blog entry is wrong in its intent. Sorry.

Posted by: Steve White on April 20, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Who is going to stop these fucking batshit insane motherfuckers?

Posted by: angryspittle on April 20, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's original posting noted that "things have only gotten worse" over the last three years, in terms of the likelihood of striking a deal with Iran. I think that if we're trying to understand why Cheney et al wouldn't allow us to try negotiating back then, we should bear in mind that they probably thought the opposite would be true.

They thought time would be on our side, not the Iranian side, because of the advantages they thought would follow from our triumph in Iraq: an obedient client state -- I mean, rising Arab democracy, run by our trusted friends, shining as a model unto the region, stirring up the forces of democracy in Iran. Not to mention our turning Iraq into a vast regional platform for U.S. military forces.

Remember, these guys were going to transform the region, and tilt the balance of power ever farther away from what remained of the axis of evil. Why get sucked into talking with the bad guys in the meantime?

Too bad it didn't work out that way! Actually, though, I suspect the negotiating track remains blocked because this Vice President, his enablers, and his boss still haven't given up on anything. We squander billions, and our brave soldiers shed blood and die, but Bush and Cheney learn nothing and forget nothing.

Posted by: nandrews3 on April 20, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and as to whether the UN and associated treaties matter--they matter a lot if we want an effective multilateral response to Iran. And that's important when the US is out of good unilateral options.

Unilateral sanctions don't work worth a squat. We've been doing that, although the screws could be turned a little tighter, but that would probably have little additional substantive effect, and simply piss off a lot more people. In any case, it would be a finger in the dike unless China and Russia are on board--and if we have them, there's no reason not to stick with a UN framework.

Unilateral military action (or a "coallition of the willing") basically has two choices: (1) an air/stand-off campaign that may delay Iran from getting nukes, but is very unlikely to destroy the program, with an enormous risk of blowback throughout the region and in particular Iraq; or (2) a campaign that includes ground forces and regime change to ensure the program is destroyed, with an enormous cost and effort that would likely dwarf Iraq.

There is always direct dialogue between the US and Iran as Kevin suggets. And although I wouldn't hold out much hope of it improving the nukes situation, it is imperative that no stone be left unturned.

Posted by: has407 on April 20, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike:

I noticed in the rush around here to declare what a swell and reasonable guy Ahmadinejad is (a man whose remarks seem to be sadly mistranslated over and over again, a man we should sit down and really TALK to), that the article you linked to was pretty much ignored.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 21, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

and 5)so did you.

RSM, I aplogize for that slur.

Almost everything Steve White says is a lie.

Iran has been making war noises since the Mullahs took over in 1979. They had a pointless war with Iraq, they've been provoking us and their Gulf State neighbors

Iran has started no wars since the revolution.

Remember: they are revolutionaries. They are Islamists, and they truly believe that their brand of Islam is going to prevail.

OK, it is the truth. Unfortunately for your argument, every ture believer of every religion believes their brand of religion will prevail. In this regard, Islam is no different than Judaism or Christianism.

They want nuclear weapons so that they can further that dream.

A lie or a delusion.

...the Mullahs are also pragmatic...they can't win the revolution in a day.

They won. They won because of popular will created as a reaction to the Shah's US sponsored dictatorship.

They pursue nukes as a shield

True again.

the sword in the other hand is their continued support for terrorist groups around the region and in the world. It's the continued support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza, for Hamas, and for other groups.

Military force as a tool of politics during intractable conflicts is a well established behavior nations and aspiring nations participate in. Iran's backing of the above referenced groups is no different than the US backing mujihadeen groups during the Soviet phase of the destruction of Afghanistan. That sword imagery is interesting, but hardly any kind of strategic threat to the US or Israel. These groups represent national aspirations, not existential threats.

It's the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina

Doubtful.


and attacks on Israelis elsewhere.

Israelis kill Palestinians and Palestinians kill Israelis. I wish they wouldn't. I think the suicide attacks against civilians are acts of desperation by people who see no way out from Israeli state sponsored terror. Totalitarian terror employed with overwhelming force. The suicide bombers remind me of our own Ghost Warriors. Suffering individuals fooled into thinking they can make a difference by sacrificing their lives. I urge Palestinians to use nonviolent civl disobedience, but make sure you video tape everything so the world can see the Israeli response.

The Mullahs are expansionist and plan to export their revolution.

Lie. No historical record. Mostly they like hanging out in Qom and reading.

The Gulf States, for example, will have to make a decision whether to play ball with Iran or to depend on us for protection

Iran has been a dominate political force in the region for thousands of years. It is no different than US hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.

As to Iran opening dialogue, please note the 'dialogue' they've had with the EU-3. It's been a classic 'rope-a-dope' strategy that has bought them time to keep their nuclear program going, and it's worked.

Iran should do what is in its own best interests, and Iran should determine what those interests are. US aggression and refusal to talk in 2003 probably had a lot to do with any stalling, if there really is any, by Iran. It is probably in Iran's best interests to obtain nuclear weapons since the US and Israel have both recommended preemptive attacks.

The Iranian claim for dialogue, then and now, is insincere.

I would believe a Swiss diplomat over any Republican or Democrat or war pig blog commenter.

It's meant to sucker the Left

That is AIPAC territory, not Iranian.

Posted by: The Reverend Hostile on April 21, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Who's suggesting we should talk to Ahmadinejad? Yes, he's got Hussein's mouth, but without the power. Does he or doesn't he represent the views of the real power in Tehran? Hard to tell.

One way to find out would be to talk with those people. You know, have a direct dialogue. Oh, but they're evil, we can't do that, can we. Never mind we engaged the DPRK, by any measure far more evil.

Posted by: has407 on April 21, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

The notion that anyone who posesses a basic knowledge of geography can talk about "invading" Iran in positive terms can be allowed at large, unsupervised, is terrifying.

Teheran, the capital, is a long, long way from the coastline. The intervening terrain makes Fort Irwin look like a meadow.

The geniuses at the Pentagon couldn't get a small group of helicopters there in the 70's. Have helicopters undergone some fundamental change in capability?

Are the current crop of geniuses at the Pentgon materially smarter than the uniformed oxygen thieves that thought up the last little clusterf**k in that neighborhood?

Or, are we prepared to fight Iran only when there are no dust storms?

Here's a news flash to those who think that military objectives can be met with high-tech air power alone:

NOTHING holds territory except the Mark I Infantryman. Armed with M-16 or rocks, that's the way the world works, and has for a couple of thousand years.

The two things that air power can accomplish are: infantry support (sophisticated, long-range artillery) and territory denial.

Our little Iraqi Boogaloo in the Desert was poorly thought out but, given their large gaggle of potential suicide bombers able to travel the world unimpeded, I would characterize an Iran invasion to be the national equivalent of pissing on a spark plug.

Just the sort of garbage thinking which obtains when most of the National Command Authority lacks the character-building experiences appurtenant to having been shot at...

Posted by: Sailor Sam on April 21, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The UN Charter has no more power than any other federal law, and can be set aside whenever it's in our interests to do so.

The beauty of federal law is that it can be set aside whenever it is in our interests to do so!

I mean, that's why I love law the way I do. If it serves me, fine. Love it.

If it doesn't serve me, no problem, put it in the fuckin' garage til' I'm done with business.

Love it.

Posted by: obscure on April 21, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

chicken george bush has to prove that he is NOT a coward, even though he ran away and hid on 9/11.

Posted by: gus on April 21, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

There won't be a ground invasion of Iran. Beyond the obvious factors like not having the resources to do it now (we'd have to move entire divisions from Iraq), it would actually lend credibility to Bush as a man of principle. After all, if he truly believed in the Bush Doctrine of preemption to stop 'gathering dangers,' a ground invasion must be a viable option. However, it's pretty clear that using the largely discredited neo-con's ideas in his Bush doctrine was only a smokescreen for finishing a job that many in the administration thought should've been done in 91. And idea of Bush being principled about the rationale for invading Iraq is just too far-fetched to consider. The only remote possibility is airstrikes. There will be no ground attack. End of story.

Posted by: Andy on April 21, 2006 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

The two things that air power can accomplish are: infantry support (sophisticated, long-range artillery) and territory denial.

So they can't destroy strategic targets? Bridges? Factories? Ports? Ships? Centers of power? Symbols of power? Like Israel did with the Osirak reactor?

Since when?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 21, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz
I noticed in the rush around here to declare what a swell and reasonable guy Ahmadinejad is (a man whose remarks seem to be sadly mistranslated over and over again, a man we should sit down and really TALK to), that the article you linked to was pretty much ignored.

No, they established that on THIS topic, The New Republic was your standard right wing lie-rag, and so must be ignored, no matterthe veracity of facts contained therein.

Ahmadmajininijad: "We will destroy the west"
Liberal translation: "I need a hug"

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 21, 2006 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

I stand corrected ONLY about the part that treaties are co-equal to the FEDERAL Constitution. They nonetheless are considered part of the "supreme law of the land", meaning Federal law.

The rest is still true. We signed those treaties and they are still in effect and therefore still have the force of law.

And any argument that Bush has the right to abrogate them without Congressional authorization is nonsense.

Which means Bush, in breaking them, has committed illegal wars of aggression, which makes him a war criminal as well as a criminal President.

And I would argue that it also makes him guilty of treason by the definitions of "high crimes and misdemaneors."

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 21, 2006 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

As for invading Iran, the purpose of the neocons will be to invade the oil province of Khuzestan which is right across the border from Iraq.

And even if they don't, the Iranians can easily entice them to do so by simply making incursions across the Iraq border. The Bushies have been screaming for three years about infiltration across the Syrian border as an excuse to ramp up threats to Syria - this time it will be the real thing. So the neocons will attack Iran on the ground.

Anybody who thinks this will be some sort of surgical airstrike war like Kosovo is an idiot. First of all, most of the Serbian military was unharmed by those strikes. Second, the Iranians can turn this into a ground war any time they like just by making incursions. Sure, they'll take an air power pounding every time they become visible, but air power alone cannot defeat ground troops unless they are really stupidly grouped together.

The neocons don't need to invade the entire country - so they think. They think they just need to invade Khuzestan and then bomb the rest with air power.

Unfortunately for that concept, however, it also means the Iranians can hole up in the mountains and conduct guerrilla war against the US for the next ten years, exactly like the Taliban are doing.

The US will require in excess of a million troops to even begin to hold onto Khuzestan. That will cost the US taxpayer a minimum of $20-30 billion per month, $200-300 billion a year. If you thought one trillion dollars was a lot for Iraq, wait until you see the cost of the Iran war. Iraq is already costing more than Vietnam. Iran will be two to ten times that cost. The Iraq war monthly bill has doubled in the last three years due to the fact that most of the military equipment is being worn out at a rate five times faster than normal. The Iran war will last longer, consume more equipment and inflation will do the rest.

Just to control 20-40,000 Iraqi insurgents with 130,000-160,000 US troops is costing the US ten billion dollars a month. To control the half million Iranian military and one to six million militia insurgency will cost at least - what? $20, $30, $40, $50 billion a month - ON TOP OF the ongoing Iraqi insurgency?

The US Empire is over. In ten years the US will be bled dry militarily, economically and geopolitically.

The right wingnuts here will see it happen in their lifetimes. Couldn't happen to nicer guys. I just hope it's THEIR sons and daughters, not the liberals who opposed the war, who get drafted and sent to die via IED in Iraq and Iran for the benefit of he neocons, Israel and the war profiteers in the military-industrial complex.

Have a nice day, wingnuts.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack on April 21, 2006 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

What troops are they going to use to invade Iran or Nigeria or Venezuela? If the Bush administration attempts to reinstate the draft, then you can worry about invading other countries. I was never a fan of Reagan, but there's one thing that he did. He invaded places like Granada. Not much chance of insurgency or civil war there.

Posted by: appnzllr on April 21, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

We know President Bush is biased against reporters who speak French. Who can forget his petulance in the David Gregory incident in Paris in May, 2002.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a similar bias against French-speaking Swiss diplomats whose initiative in this Iranian diplomatic communication threatened our Napoleanic president's haughty, super-power self-image.

As Bush sarcastically remarked in Paris, "Que bueno."

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on April 21, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

So why blow another chance? If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

exactly, because dontcha know that as far as Bush/Cheney/Rummy are concerned, war is preferrable to negotiation? "an advantage gained in conflict will not be challenged" {nevermind that that's the philosphy of a fictional warmongering species}, i think this administration believes it.

at the risk of repeating things which have already been said (b/c i haven't been here for a few days)

Posted by: e1 on April 21, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

RSM - Ahmendijad - We will destroy the West.
Liberal translation - I need a hug.

Beautiful. Thanks for the laugh this morning.

Posted by: Jay on April 21, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

My realm swells. Oh Bush! Hastener of souls. Death's kiss doth early touch. Thy unwised ways to blackness lead.

Posted by: Prytania on April 21, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Cheney's rationale is to destroy governments and create instability wherever there is oil. Sure looks that way. That scenario would go a long way toward keeping China and India under control. Not so much the Russians who benefit immmensely from higher oil prices. It also presupposes he has some secret easy solution to quickly convert our transportation sector up his sleeve.

More likely Cheney and his people are men of limited vision who are grasping at the illusion of controlling oil as the means to strenghten American power. They are also deluding themselves thinking they are aiding Israel by destablizing it's neighbors.

It's probably a combination of those things with the Rovian imperative to pump up the jingoism for elections.

This is a real bad time to have the worst administration in history. Here's hoping they're all in prison in a few years. Because if they're not they'll be trying to blame all their longrange failures on their successors in a bid to come back
to power.

Posted by: Mark Garrity on April 21, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

From reading the right winger comments I have to make the following conclusions.

1. Diplomacy is a lost cause. Forget about trying to make inroads to reasonable elements of a regime. Anyone who even suggests we try to forge a dialogue with a nation which we have decided is our "enemy" is to be called a latter day Chamberlain or "Jimmy" [Carter]. Less talking, more killing. Killing people is the only way to bring peace and democracy.

2. Forget about encouraging regime change from within. Once the big poobahs say so, the Weekly Standard prints a bunch of pro-war tracts and the lemming trolls jump over the cliff (or rather, push the rest of us over the cliff). There is no conceivable solution except outright war. And we need to start yesterday. And, as Michael Savage said, we have to kill 100 million of them. They are all pure evil, and all of their citizens are too (forget that blather a few years back about how Iranian youth love America, etc...). The only answer is to exterminate them. But if you dare suggest that we not intentionally kill citizens, you are a "twat." Now go watch Flight 93.

Case in point: When Kruschev said "we will bury you" we should have nuked the USSR immediately because there was no hope for a peaceful solution. One or two firebrand quotes from some potentate means no diplomacy is even conceivable. Once we have bought our own half baked rhetoric about the evil about a particular leader or people, the only answer is the invade them. Duh. Sure, we were horribly wrong about Iraq and will be paying the consequences of our stupidity for decades, but how can you trust anyone who doesn't shoot first and ask questions later?

Now, these rules are subject to immediate and absolutely hypocrital change without notice. North Korea, case in point.

Thank God, according to Fox News, only 33% of Americans are still stupid enough to support this puerile crap.

Posted by: Zimmy on April 21, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

This is all because this country has too many male voters who get a big, fat stiffy listening to NASCAR drivers and W. talk smack.

Posted by: Tenacious D on April 21, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Or do when the Viagra is flowing freely.

Posted by: zimmy on April 21, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Case in point: When Kruschev said "we will bury you" we should have nuked the USSR immediately because there was no hope for a peaceful solution.

I think he already had nukes at that point. Iran is still in the "bringing a knife to a gun fight" stage.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 21, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Tenacious D, are you a crossfitter?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 21, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

What's interesting is not just that Bush turned them down, but why Iran made the offer. It looks to me like the use of force - and only the use of force - prompted the Mullahs to come to the table.

I'm surprised you didn't recognize this.

Posted by: G-Scobe on April 21, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

G-Scobe: What's interesting is not just that Bush turned them down, but why Iran made the offer. It looks to me like the use of force - and only the use of force - prompted the Mullahs to come to the table.

An extreme over-simplification. Iran had been engaged in discussions off-and-on with the US since late 2000 or 2001 (depending on how you define "discussion"). E.g., while Tehran was publically denouncing the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan, they were also assisting. (No love lost between Iran and the Taliban--they almost went at it in 1998).

Granted, Iraq probably put a scare into them initially, and that might have prompted a desire to re-engage with the US on more substantive issues (as Kevin's post suggests).

However, what's more interesting is the unfolding of events with respect to Iran's nuclear program: increasing cooperation early on, followed by increasing intransigence. What might explain that? In a word: Iraq.

Maybe if Iraq was in good shape, Iran would be more motivated to talk, and wouldn't be so intransigent. That's not the case. Iraq is today an albatross for the US, and if anything has emboldened Iran.

Before people get too smug about the use of force and what it can accomplish, they should consider that Iraq has significantly constrained US options, and significantly reduced the credibility of a threat to use force.

Posted by: has407 on April 21, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Huummm....has anyone noticed that the israeli/aipac activists have gotten much more active on these postings lately concerning iran?

However I think most of us know the truth of Iraq and Iran...they were/are no actual threat to the USA.

There are only three things at work in US/Isr empire ....oil&dollar, israeli hyphen american groups who have infiltrated US goverment and neurotics in this adm who make war just because they can.

For Israel's part, they aren't afraid of being nuked by Iran, it's all about economic dominance in the region for surival, because they won't/can't do business the old fashioned way, by trade and payment because they have made enemies of all their neighbors, and want to use force (the US's)to control the economics.

As for the US, well here we're talking plain greed and hubris and a population that has lost control of it's own goverment to special and foreign interest.

I don't know about your bumper sticker but mine say "If you want change, burn Washington to the ground, plow it under and start over"

Posted by: Carroll on April 21, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

If the American's as THEY say are serious about diplomacy, then they need to stop this Cheney-lead bull**it retoric and get to the negotiating table. They need to sit like human beings, opposite an Iranian delegate and TALK! Why is that so difficult to do? Surely any chance of preventing any war is better!!

http://londoncaspian.blogspot.com

Posted by: Navid on April 21, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Those that are concerned about the US attacking Iran need worry no longer. If you look at the mindset of this administration, war with Iran is not possible economically speaking.

The tax cuts that have been passed can only get us through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we want to tie into another significant war, it's going to take another major tax cut to bwe able to do that.

Posted by: monarcc on April 21, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

"However I think most of us know the truth of Iraq and Iran...they were/are no actual threat to the USA."

There were an awfully lot of smart people who knew that prior to the Iraq invasion. With the Bush administration still in power, we need to remember how foolish the rest of the world thinks we are. They have good reason to think that. We are still in jeopardy, subject to more foolishness across the board.

Bush needs to be disabled ASAP, including significant Republican losses in the 2006 elections. People who oppose Bush's policies but are not working toward that end may live to regret it.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 21, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

...or may die regretting it.

Posted by: has407 on April 21, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Depressing, infuritating, pathetic, pendantic, shameless, warmongering bullshit.

A lot of leftists make a lot of mistakes in arguing about this, but that doesn't make you right, Red State Mike, or you, Steve White, or you, tbrosz. What do we have so far? We have outright, head-in-the-sand dismissal of the content of this post, via the State Department smearing Bush tack. The "State Department"'s motives (or motives of the CIA, or or ex-generals, or Richard Clarke, or the media, or 'activist judges' or anyone and everyone in the world who was once basically neutral until you became such dishonest shits) in leaking this information have no bearing on the **point** of this post -

The point being that this information makes it blatantly clear that Iran is in no way set on for war or aggression against the US for its own sake. This isn't a ploy to "sucker the left". You don't send secret cables to the Swiss embassy asking for talks with the George Bush White House to "sucker the left". The left had no idea that this happened. You pay no attention to facts - you just spout your own biased, self-justifying propaganda.

Like the New Republic article. I know all about Iranian tactics in the Iran-Iraq war, thank you. It wasn't pretty, but we were selling chemical weapons to Iraq at the time to use on Iran, and we cheerfully watched Iraq use them on Iran and kept the money flowing. So our hands weren't exactly clean. Other than the juicy tabloid-shock tidbits about using kids to clear mines, rather than, say, allow their entire country to be massacred and sent to the torch by Saddamn, there's no factual arguments in your article, Mike, just a layer of hyperbole and emotional judgements two feet thick.
It's not analysis, it's rhetoric. It's crap for the stupid and the self-righteous.

And while I'm at it, Mike, the New Republic is consistently and unrelentingly pro-war and pro-foreign-policy hysteria, and has been for decades. The New Republic may like to think of itself as democratic, but the Economist hews cleser to the Democratic party's ideals, and it thinks that it's right-wing.

So what do we have? A lot of bullshit about how evil the Iranian regime is and how we can't afford not to take every wacknut statement seriously after 9/11 - the same tiresome crap we've been spoonfed for five years, dishonoring our country and our loved ones who died on 9/11, and surely didn't die for the purpose of having America rip itself and most of the world to shreds in spasms of bigoted paranoia.

Iran wants nukes, but hasn't broken any international laws - which Steve White blithely dismisses, because he's perfectly fine with pissing all over America's greatest legacy to the world in the 20'th century - international law - as law itself was Western civilization's greatest invention. Actually, Iraq's violations of international law were central to the propaganda case the Bush admin waged against it, and lacking that prop will make a similar propaganda campaign all that much harder.

So really, what's your point, folks? Iran is full of a bunch of mean guys who don't like us? You know, I pretty much agree. Or is your point that we can actually do something constructive about this fact by dropping a bunch of bombs on Iran? A stragetic bombing campaign will somehow solve this problem? The bunch of fanatics so hell-bent on national suicide that they're going to nuke Israel as soon as they can and back in the immediate total annihilation that follows, are going to suffer a bombing camapaign and just turn up their hands and surrender?

Or, were you thinking that we might follow that up with a ground invasion?

Fucking dipshit amatuers with your heads in the clouds and your ass on a stick. There aren't enough professionals in the world to say "we don't have any useful military options on Iran" to get you to think logically for five seconds. But you really don't care if the options are useful or if they will advance our interests or make the world actually a safer place. You're addicted to the egotistical boost of punishing those percieved as sinners, just like the administration you suck up to. Like ahmedijad himself, you'd lead your country right over the cliff in your zeal to prove how big a sack you have.

Posted by: glasnost on April 21, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Iran wants nukes, but hasn't broken any international laws"

Glas, you kidding me? Iran is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have broken inspection laws and plan to breach the Treaty with bombs.

So an Iranian diplomat passed a letter about Iraq. Was it from Khatami? Worthless. You think the Mullahs were going to give the pursuit of nuclear weapons as part of this deal? Only after the war the IAEA figured out Iranian claims otherwise were lies.

Only tough sanction might, might deter the mullahs from the bomb. Plus a lot of Saudi money to Russia and China to buy off their Security Council votes.

Posted by: Javani on April 21, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Javani: Iran is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have broken inspection laws...

Which ones, exactly?

Posted by: has407 on April 21, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Has, I don't know their numbers but they would have to do with all the complaints El Baradei made about undisclosed centrifuges from Pakistan, undeclared refinement facilities. You know, the laws broken that Russia and China don't want to go to the Security Council with. Yet. Even the anti-America France is on your side on this one, isn't that proof enough for those here? But The Chinese and Russians are willing to discuss your concerns!

Speaking of, the American diplomat says

"The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations."

"Address concerns." That's Farsi for "F U." That is not the English word "negotiate." Only the gullible or innocent would infer this to mean Iran would give up nukes. And they didn't know how much you knew about what they had until later. This diplomat is a fool.

Yes, and he spoke to a "senior conservative Iranian official" AFTER he left employ? My, my. And this official "strongly suggested" it was true Iran would "address concerns?" Is this Comedy Central? Or the "We will believe anything anyone else says if it is against George Bush" room?

Anyway there are plenty of "talks" with Iran about Afghanistan and Iraq.

Posted by: Javani on April 22, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Javani -- There is no question that Iran was in violation of its NPT Safeguard agreements (just as Libya was, and who now has a pass). Whether it is currently in violation is the subject of debate. In any case, the NPT does not cover technology--centrifuges, enrichment, reprocessing or any other--it covers nuclear material. (There is also the Additional Protocol which provides for additional inspection and reporting, but it is voluntary and not all states have signed up. Another discussion.)

Posted by: has407 on April 22, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, accidently cut off the end of the previous post...

IAEA inspections under the NPT are only against declared sites. (That was how Iraq skated.) The "undeclared" is what the Additional Protocol is intended to address. To make a long story short:

...Director Generals assessment that all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and that such material is not diverted to prohibited activities, but that the Agency is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran...
NB: "undeclared"; all of Iran's currently declared activities--including enrichment, reprocessing, and all of the associated technologies--are legal under the NPT and the Additional Protocol.

And that is all we've got at this point.

Posted by: has407 on April 22, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure if you're aware of this Kevin, but you discussed this last summer too. You quoted this piece from Fareed Zakaria:

The one man who has had extensive negotiations with the Iranians, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said to me a few months ago that Tehran is seeking a grand bargain: a comprehensive normalization of relations with the West in exchange for concessions on nuclear issues. It will never give up its right to a nuclear program, he argues, but it would allow such a program to be monitored to ensure that it doesn't morph into a weapons project. But the prize they seek, above all, is better relations with the United States. "That is their ultimate goal," he said.

There are lots of reasons to be suspicious of Iran. But the real question is: Do we want to try to stop it from going nuclear? If so, why not explore this path? Washington could authorize the European negotiators to make certain conditional offers, and see how Tehran responds. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't work, the deal doesn't happen and Tehran resumes its nuclear activities. That's where we are today.


Posted by: Jimm on April 22, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Steve White's response to me above:

"Why? We have an economy that's moving along. It's the strongest economy in the world by far. We have nearly 300 million hard working people, lots of liquid capital, and a legal/financial system that's stable. The only way to wreck this bounty is to put a bunch of liberal progressives in power ..."

Steve, you are catastrophically clueless about the very real dangers facing this collective Ponzi scheme of an economic system that the US has implemented globally since the early 1970s (dissipating fiat dollar system backed by petrodollar hegemony). Not enough room here, but I suggest you read just two books to enlighten yourself about said dangers:

"The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures" by Richard Duncan (former IMF consultant); and

"Global Fracture" by Michael Hudson (Wall Street economist).


"We'll have a draft only if Democrats return to power. No Republican with a national presence wants one, and the military doesn't want it. The only people pushing a draft are Democrats."

That's wishful partisan thinking on your part at best, and typical neocon-inspired sentiment molding at worst. Again, review the NY Times op-ed from a few days ago, which is reflective of the fed-up military brass' thinking about the all-volunteer military.

"That's Kucinich/McKinney nuttiness."

You sound like a typically incredulous, oblivious German, circa 1933-34:

http://www.alternet.org/rights/32647/

"For the rest of the world to dump the dollar, it has to have somewhere to go. You can't stash your money under a mattress. The Euro is way over-rated and the Europeans are having way more problems than we are. Japan is just emerging from recession, and there's no other currency in the world that can be used to float an international economy. So, nice fantasy on your part, but cold, hard facts say that the dollar is going to be just fine."

Again, please educate yourself on the increasingly precarious state of the US' Federal Reserve-dictated economic system, rather than just taking the Wall Street Journal/CNBC's word on the matter:

http://www.randomhouse.com/doubleday/currency/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780385512237

[consider that last link a big, big favor]

http://209.157.64.201/focus/f-news/1608725/posts

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=71000001&refer=columnist_pesek&sid=aEBBmwvtNuxA

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_50/b3912067.htm

The widescale strategy for nations like China, Russia, India, South American nations, certainly the Mid-East nations, and much of the rest of Asia (Japan and Korea included) is to take themselves off of the sole global dollar standard (certainly for energy trading) and initiate a
more balanced standard. The US is going to war, in part, to prevent further momentum towards this inevitable reality.

Wake up, amigo.

Posted by: Enrique Chavez on April 22, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Nice try Kev,

More anti-Bush rhetoric and again you fail to see the real threat of this situation which has existed long before Bush came into office. Iran can claim that they wanted to initiate talks with the U.S. and claim that they were rebuffed and gain your sympathies. This reminds me of Clinton's failure at "talks" when Madeleine Albright made feeble attempts to dissaude Kim Jong II of North Korea from developing nukes. The United States was duped right from the start as Jong II basically lied to the U.S. and we should expect Iran to act differently?

Speaking of Albright, she should especially be concerned about Iran, after all her parents switched to Catholicism from Judiasm during Hitler's reign of terror. How are we to expect Iran to behave towards a nation like Israel when Iran wants nothing more than to wipe them off the face of the earth?

What talks Kevin? What about? Seems your chief aim in this post is to undermine the Bush administration when it is political expedient for you to do so. Read some differing of opinions.

Here's a link for you: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=23577

Posted by: Tony on April 22, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Friedman--of all people--put it succinctly:

"If given a choice between dealing with a nuclear Iran and military action by the current administration to try and stop it, I would deal with a Nuclear Iran."

Posted by: Wombat on April 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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