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Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BOMBING IRAN....Over at The Century Foundation, Sam Gardiner has published a war-gaming analysis of possible military action against Iran. His narrow conclusion is similar to what Wes Clark told me in February: contrary to conventional wisdom, which suggests that Iran's research sites are too widespread to be destroyed via bombing, a military strike could probably do a pretty good job of taking them out. Although Gardiner warns that there's a lot of uncertainty over this, his baseline guess is that five nights of bombing would set back the Iranian nuclear program significantly.

He also notes that this very definitely seems to be the goal of the Bush administration, which has been carefully designing its diplomatic maneuvering to guarantee failure:

If the experience of 1979 and other sanctions scenarios is a guide, sanctions will actually empower the conservative leadership in Iran. There is an irony here. It is a pattern that seems to be playing out in the selection of the military option. From diplomacy to sanctions, the administration is not making good-faith efforts to avert a war so much as going through the motions, eliminating other possible strategies of engagement, until the only option left on the table is the military one.

I think that's exactly right. The administration's actions seem to have been carefully calculated at every step to leave no alternative to a military strike. When it comes, though, Gardiner thinks it will last longer than five days because the real goal goes beyond destroying Iran's nuclear program. The goal is to use airpower to overthrow the mullahs:

The real U.S. policy objective is not merely to eliminate the nuclear program, but to overthrow the regime. It is hard to believe, after the misguided talk prior to Iraq of how American troops would be greeted with flowers and welcomed as liberators, but those inside and close to the administration who are arguing for an air strike against Iran actually sound as if they believe the regime in Tehran can be eliminated by air attacks....[But] no serious expert on Iran believes the argument about enabling a regime change. On the contrary, whereas the presumed goal is to weaken or disable the leadership and then replace it with others who would improve relations between Iran and the United States, it is far more likely that such strikes would strengthen the clerical leadership and turn the United States into Irans permanent enemy.

....At the end of the path that the administration seems to have chosen, will
the issues with Iran be resolved? No....Will the United States force a regime change in Iran? In all probability it will not....Will the United States have weakened its position in the Middle East? Yes....After all the effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. "You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. You have to make diplomacy work."

Matt Yglesias has more, including an unconfirmed report he calls "The Craziest Goddamn Thing I've Heard In a Long Time."

Kevin Drum 12:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (128)

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Comments

Hey, why let incompetence, stupidity and just plain wrong-headedness get in the way of a great idea?

Posted by: mwg on September 19, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: wrong in 2001, wrong in 2003, wrong in 2006.

Posted by: cleek on September 19, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

It is genuinely frightening that this is probably going to happen. If Bush believes that he is divinely inspired, and that it's his mission to remake the Middle East, then nothing is going to persuade him otherwise. And he may want to do it before a new congress comes to town so it's a fait accompli.

I'm guessing that he wants to make history -- to do something big and bold, and even be the first President since Truman to have the guts to "nuke 'em" And we'll all thank him later.

What happens if he drops a (small, ever so small) nuke on Iran and the world turns on us? Or just bombs the hell out of them without provocation? Would even that be grounds for impeachment, with the 30% base whooping and hollering for him to do it some more?

Posted by: zmulls on September 19, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think that's exactly right. The administration's actions seem to have been carefully calculated at every step to leave no alternative to a military strike.

Nonsense Kevin. The reason why it seems that way TO YOU is because there are no alternatives but a military strike. As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds points out, much of the problems in Iraq are caused by Iran so if we want to defeat the Islamofascists in Iraq, we have to attack Iran.

Link

"The loss of momentum in the war reminds me of something that I believe Napoleon (or maybe it was Talleyrand) said: "You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them." Much of the problem in Iraq comes from Iran, and we seem curiously unwilling to do much about it. I wonder -- does Iran already have nuclear weapons, and are we being successfully blackmailed?"

Posted by: Al on September 19, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Serious questions:
According to the War Powers Resolution (don't laugh!), isn't Bush required to at least consult with Congress before taking any military action in Iran?
How limited is that consultation allowed to be (could Bush get away with just briefing a select few GoOPers)?
Is there any way for the Dems to halt the latest March of Folly?

Posted by: Bragan on September 19, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, we should play poker sometime. You seem to believe it wise to throw away your aces.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

much of the problems in Iraq are caused by Iran so if we want to defeat the Islamofascists in Iraq, we have to attack Iran.

And then we will find that much of the problems in Iran are caused by Syria, while much of the problems in Syria are caused by... let's just follow Al's spurious logic to its end result and bomb Portugal now. Those bastards, they're the ones that really have it coming to them.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Links don't really help, Al. If you think Reynolds is right, then linking to his comments only supports your opinion. If you think he's an idiot, it only supports that notion as well.

Israel says Iran is a month away from nukes. They've heard Abberjabber say Israel should be wiped off the map. If 5 or 6 hits will knock out 80-90% of Iranian nuclear capability, then can we expect an Israeli strike?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 19, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Al nails it. There is absolutely no possibility of anything bad happening if we attack another Islamic country. None.

Posted by: Al's Mommy on September 19, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Confirms Tristero's sad conclusion at Hullabaloo that a military strike on Iran is inevitable.

I assume that timing depends on the November election. As soon as that's out of the way, the bombs will start falling.

See also this Tristero post. Tristero is getting people to read the book Iran's Nuclear Ambitions by Cirincione and discuss it.

Posted by: Rick B on September 19, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

According to the War Powers Resolution (don't laugh!), isn't Bush required to at least consult with Congress before taking any military action in Iran?

he'll just put the troops there, then dare Congress to make him move them - just like he did in Iraq.

Posted by: cleek on September 19, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

If a country bombed the US in order to overthrow the Electoral College, most Americans would rally round the elites and the flag. I have to think Iranians would do the same.

Posted by: Hostile on September 19, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

If a country bombed the US in order to overthrow the Electoral College, most Americans would rally round the elites and the flag. I have to think Iranians would do the same.

Naw, that's a uniquely American trait like Bush said in his 9/11 speech. All other countries cut and run when bombed.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

If 5 or 6 hits will knock out 80-90% of Iranian nuclear capability, then can we expect an Israeli strike?

Easier said than done. Unless, of course, we let them refuel in Iraq.

Posted by: Edo on September 19, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Yglesias' "CGDTIHIALT", it's not hard to imagine how that would play in the press. Although we could count on the facts emerging, the Pentagon has fully mastered the art of sowing doubt in the minds of gullible journalists and pundits and doubt is all that's necessary to manage the situation.

It's not even likely the Pentagon would need to launch a "probe" to "investigate the allegations". With suitably scaled-up PR management of the kind we've seen so adroitly performed in the case of thousands of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq the "rumoured nuke strike" would quickly become a fringe topic. Years later-- by the time all doubt is removed concerning the facts-- there'll remain just three camps of opinion impervious to all input: "couldn't have happened", "don't know or care", "known about it for years". It'll be a stale topic.

Heck, Israel had a nuclear arsenal for a couple of decades during which anybody who referred to it was laughed away as a conspiracy theorist, thanks to good PR. By the time it was openly accepted the impact of the bad news had been blunted.

In evaluating Yglesias' rumour, consider that there's a single one-word override for anybody skeptical of the most crazy theories about what the Bush administration might do, that being "Iraq". If they could do Iraq, they can do anything.

Posted by: dbostrom on September 19, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with saber rattling, is that once you've proven that you're willing to stab with that saber, by stabbing the wrong person, the saber rattling makes people feel more nervous. Not safer.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 19, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you're back to your old ways. If you think for once that if you bombed the Iranian facilities successfully or not, that there won't be srious repercussions, you're even crazier than Dubya himself.

The problem with you and your ilk is that you always think only operational or tactical success is the key only thing that matters, ergo, Iraq. What do you think is the long term or strategic result of such a bombing mission?

Posted by: GOD on September 19, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"carefully designing its diplomatic maneuvering to guarantee failure:"


CHOSSE ONE


(A) Oh- yesthats right its all a plot. We step back and let the Europeans take the lead after eight years of Clinton getting hoodwinked on weapons production.and what happens?

Wellthe Europeans and the rest of the international community are incapable of getting Iran to stop

Rove hatched the entire scheme after he destroyed Joe Wilson.

(B) (or Iran is intractable on its design for acquiring nuclear weapons)

Posted by: Fitz on September 19, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

To me, the real question is, is Bush going to attack Iran before election day November 2006?

The timing here is critical. If Bush waits until after election day, the foolishness of an ungrounded, unprovoked attack will be pretty quickly exposed, and do him further damage politically.

But if he attacks soon before election day, there's not going to be time for that case to be settled politically -- some rallying around the flag can be expected.

Of course, it would be the most cynical election ploy of all time -- but what does Rove care, if he gets Nov 2006 behind him with the proper result? It will likely kill them in 2008, but Rove and company seem incapable of thinking long term -- otherwise they might have done something resembling governance.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 19, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Y'all wanted mature persons in the White House, and you got them.

Come to think of, nobody is 'defiling' (I love that desciption that I just read somewhere) the White House by ejaculating on a blue dress anymore.

Posted by: gregor on September 19, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly though, I hope Bush does it.

I hope he preemptively nukes Iran.

Because if nothing else, it will FINALLY get this sorry worthless congress off its collective ass to DO something to remove this maniac from power, and put his warmongering ass in prison for a good long time.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the sole power to start a war. Five days of bombing against a country that has done nothing to us is an act of war. Bush cannot do this on his own.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The administration's approach of bombing Iran nuclear facilities makes sense.

Bush and the Republicans like having some terrorism around because it keeps the American electorate scared. They are likely disappointed that terrorists have proven to be so toothless since 9-11, and all Bush has to wave in front of the American electorate has been a handful of wannabe losers like Padilla and the oddballs in Miami.

But while regular terrorism only kills a few Americans on average per year, a nuclear terrorist incident, although a very remote possibility, would be too catastrophic even for Republicans to tolerate.

So bombing Iran's nuclear facilities would remove one of the few potential sources of a terrorist nuclear device while at the same time inflaming radicals around the world and undercutting those sympathetice to the US. Thus, it would create more garden-variety anti-US terrorism, which serves Republican interests, but would indefinitely delay a nuclear threat from Iran.

Iran, of course, would never itself use a nuclear bomb (it'd get obliterated within hours if it did), but it is remotely possible that if Iran had any nuclear weapon inventory, an item or two in that inventory could slip out the door. That's doubtful, but possible, and it's easy for the Bush administration to create a sense of unease about that happening.

(BTW, if "loose nukes" are really a problem, why doesn't Iran just buy a few on the market instead of going to all the trouble and expense of developing a nuclear program?)

So bombing Iran would certainly poke the terrorist hornets nest (as Bush has done in mismanaging Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo, as well as cheering on the Israeli destruction of the Lebanese economy), generating more anti-American feeling around the world. Bush could reasonably expect that this relentless poking and provocation would (finally!) result in another terrorist attack on American soil. What could be better than another "post-9/11" bounce in the polls for Bush and the Republicans?

Posted by: McCord on September 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Matt Yglesias has more, including an unconfirmed report he calls "The Craziest Goddamn Thing I've Heard In a Long Time."

Isn't Matt Yglesias a really young guy? Someone for whom "a long time" is a couple years? Surely he isn't talking about something as old and crazy as letting the IAEA/UNSC/EU talk Iran out of making nuclear weapons.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

it will FINALLY get this sorry worthless congress off its collective ass to DO something to remove this maniac from power

not a chance

Posted by: cleek on September 19, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Much of the problem in Iraq comes from Iran, and we seem curiously unwilling to do much about it.
Posted by: Al

No, you stupid fuck. All the "problems" we have with Iraq, Iran, (your country name here) pretty much have to do with us. We no longer offer solutions to problems in the world. We are mostly the cause of them through action or inaction.

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Because if nothing else, it will FINALLY get this sorry worthless congress off its collective ass to DO something to remove this maniac from power, and put his warmongering ass in prison for a good long time.

Sorry to say, but this borders on delusion. Were the scenoria to unfold as feared, Republican members of the Congress will join the media in cheerleading the administration for a bold act that would be claimed to have solved the Iran problem once and for all (just like Eisenhower did), and the Democrats would pee in their pink panties.

Posted by: gregor on September 19, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the sole power to start a war.

You missed the memo from Gonzales, starting wars is part of the "inherent powers" of the Commander in Chief, unless he's a Democrat. But thanks to Diebold, that won't ever happen again.

Posted by: tomeck on September 19, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

The goal is to use airpower to overthrow the mullahs:

If massive air strikes could overthrow a government, then Bush would have been deposed after 9/11 and FDR after Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: Thinker on September 19, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

We need a mullah technolgy, like star wars but it hunts down a mullah for a bullah on the head. This could be another internet game, for a price the internet user can shoot at a mullah.

Posted by: Matt on September 19, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Matt Yglesias a really young guy? Someone for whom "a long time" is a couple years? Surely he isn't talking about something as old and crazy as letting the IAEA/UNSC/EU talk Iran out of making nuclear weapons. Posted by: republicrat

Yglesias is young and, so far as I know, has never held a real job. In other words, he pretty much went straight from college to punditry. I don't think he's even well-travelled.

That and his cousin and uncle make shitty music.

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

But while regular terrorism only kills a few Americans on average per year, a nuclear terrorist incident, although a very remote possibility, would be too catastrophic even for Republicans to tolerate.

Are you kidding?
A terrorist nuclear strike on a liberal city like Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles would be the best thing that happened for the Republicans since 9/11.

-Less Liberals voting.
-Less Liberals with enough money and economic security to donate to their candidates.
-Big $$$ construction contracts.
-"we have to torture, otherwise we'll have another mushroom cloud"
-"we have to spy on you, otherwise we'll have another mushroom cloud"
-"it was the Liberals fault"
-"we have to invade Iran/Syria/Lebannnon/Norway, because otherwise, we'll have another mushroom cloud"
-"we have to control all the newsmedia, otherwise we'll have another mushroom cloud"
-"we need more tax cuts to incentivize industry to rebuild - cuz they worked so well in New Orleans"
-"the mushroom cloud was God's Divine Retribution against Liberal Decadence"

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 19, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

He also notes that this very definitely seems to be the goal of the Bush administration, which has been carefully designing its diplomatic maneuvering to guarantee failure:

Anybody who has more faith in the peaceful intentions of Ahmedinejad than in Bush is crazy.

Besides, the mantra of the anti-war left in the last three years has been that sanctions were working in Iraq. The sanctions will certainly work at least as well in Iran as in Iraq. When the anti-war left objects to the use of sanctions against Iran, the swing voters will give them less credence than now, and will move in a Republican direction.

This is another example of how the left doesn't correctly perceive the threats against liberal society, and proposes "solutions" that don't solve.

France is now against sanctions for Iran, and if France is successful, Iran will be free to build whatever it wants no matter which of its treaties it breaks. This is the same France that voted for the sanctions on Iraq, then worked tirelessly to break them and have them removed.

Economic engagement and multilateral institutions won't do more to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran than they have done to keep the Islamofascists from expanding their power in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia; or to integrate the Taliban of Pakistan/Afghanistan into liberal international society.

Paraphrasing the widely quoted Lebanese Islamist: the are not fighting to get what they can get from us, they are fighting to destroy us.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm... let's see what we have in place.

Republican base batshit crazy fundies cheering for armageddon.
A president operating on divine inspiration and claiming unlimited power during times of 'war'.
Authors of the PNAC plan for global US domination firmly in power.
Congress controlled by Israeli interests.
Media controlled by Israeli interests.
Executive branch controlled by Israeli interests.
Mass internment camps and detention plans are already in place for controlling domestic unrest.
A neo-fascist regime desperate to hang onto power in the face of an electorate 'awakening' to their lies.

So folks, whaddya think is gonna happen here?

Posted by: Buford on September 19, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Will the United States have weakened its position in the Middle East? Yes....After all the effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. "You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. You have to make diplomacy work."

At this time, the best policy for the US to follow to enhance its position in the Middle East is to work toward fuel-sufficiency. That we are doing, but the effort needs to be strengthened.

The idea that a diplomatic solution can prevent a nuclear-armed Iran ignores all the recent actions and rhetoric of the Iranian leadership. This is analogous to McClellan's plan to re-unite the Confederacy to the Union without defeating the Confederate Army.

No one knows what the Iranian leadership is really thinking, but they have been moving away from economic engagement and multilateral institutions.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

You really need to read "The One Percent Doctrine" by Ron Suskind. Really, really explains a lot.

Posted by: VOR on September 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Buford

"So folks, whaddya think is gonna happen here?"

They start putting fluoride in our water!

Posted by: Fitz on September 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think that's exactly right. The administration's actions seem to have been carefully calculated at every step to leave no alternative to a military strike.

I started to read Calpundit early in 2004. It seems to me that since Bush's second inauguration you have become progressively more shallow. The IAEA, the UNSC, the EU have had no diplimatic success; the language of the Iranian leadership is defiant to the whole world and promising to destroy Israel and all other infidels; yet you blame the lack of diplomatic progress on a careful calculation by Bush to leave no alternative but military measures.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

yet you blame the lack of diplomatic progress on a careful calculation by Bush to leave no alternative but military measures.

Bush is playing it the same way he played Iraq. only the wilfully blind can fail to see what's going on.

Posted by: cleek on September 19, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Bush people have a deeper plan. They are focussing all attention on Iraq. Then they are going to bomb North Korea to prove to Iran they are serious.

The Persians will then, of course, send up the white flag and call in the U.N. to remove all their nuclear stuff after the Mullahs decide that Cheney/Bush are not bluffing.

See? Kills two birds with one bombing, and does it all by acting tough like Rambo or the great Republican war hero, John Wayne.

Posted by: Rick B on September 19, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The goal is to use airpower to overthrow the mullahs:

Good luck with that.

Posted by: ckelly on September 19, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

How is it possible to bomb a religion out of existance?

If the tables were somehow turned, does anyone believe for one minute that all the cross carrying left-behinders in America would denounce their god or their leaders?

Lacking focus and purpose, attacking Iran could have the same effect or worse of attacking Iraq.

Posted by: bcinaz on September 19, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it's all forgotten that our dear friends in Pakistan were the ones who proliferated like mad, and still harbors the party most likely to try to nuke the US. Does anyone think that any country would verifiably nuke another country? Israel has more than enough capacity to destroy Iran if Iran attacked, Israel even has nuclear armed subs courtesy of the US that would destroy Iran even after mushroom clouds have risen over Israel. Forther, given the close proximity of Israel and Arab peoples, what is the likelihood that Iran would nuke a sizable contingent of Arabs along with the Israelis?

Posted by: Neal on September 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"republicrat" wrote: It seems to me that since Bush's second inauguration you have become progressively more shallow.

Judging by the quality of "republicrat"'s posts, I suspect that it's he/she/it who has grown more shallow. Not to mention, as cleek pointed out, willfully blind.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Neal,

You assume the presence of reason. I think that is a questionable assumption. Is the Koran reasonable? Because we are dealing with a nation whose leaders assume that it is.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it's all forgotten that our dear friends in Pakistan were the ones who proliferated like mad, and still harbors the party most likely to try to nuke the US.

Expanding on that thought:

Iraq
Possess Nukes? -No.
Military Dictatorship? -Yes.
Strong Ties with al Qaeda? -No.
Strong Ties with Taliban? -No.
Al Qaeda/taliban in Country? -No.

Iran
Possess Nukes? -Not yet.
Military Dictatorship? -No.
Strong Ties with al Qaeda? -No.
Strong Ties with Taliban? -No.
Al Qaeda/taliban in Country? -No.

Pakistan
Possess Nukes? -Yes.
Military Dictatorship?-Yes.
Strong Ties with al Qaeda?-Yes.
Strong Ties with Taliban?-Yes.
Al Qaeda/taliban in Country?-Yes.

Anyone care to guess who we won't be bombing or invading?

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I would hope that any military action as large as bombing another country in a non-emergency situation would require the authorization of Congress.

Gonzales says it doesn't, though, and I can imagine the weasels arguing that Congress already authorized the War on Terror, which is open-ended and means whatever Bush wants it to mean.

So what do I think? I think even Bush isn't nutty enough to bomb Iran at this time, but he has proven me wrong before.

Heaven help us if we bomb. We will back a bad situation into a terrible situation.

Posted by: Tripp on September 19, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

I am reminded of the GOP reaction after they took a nosedive in the polls for shutting down the government. Their conclusion? We didn't push it hard enough! We caved! Next time, we won't back down. Along came impeachment. I am also reminded of Rumsfeld's characterization of the mistakes in Iraq as "political". The problem, as they see it, was packaging.

What the GOP does is by definition righteous and good, so the only possible mistakes are marketing or resolve. To learn is to admit you don't already know everything.

Until they pay a real price politically -- getting thrown out on their asses.

Posted by: Memekiller on September 19, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

...bombing another country in a non-emergency situation...

Tripp, apparently you didn't get the memo: we are in a constant state of existential emergency.

Or at least for the next 853 days, 22 hours, and ~2 minutes.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Anybody who has more faith in the peaceful intentions of Ahmedinejad than in Bush is crazy."

Last time I checked, Ahmedinejad hadn't started a war against a country that posed no threat to his.

"You assume the presence of reason. I think that is a questionable assumption. Is the Koran reasonable? Because we are dealing with a nation whose leaders assume that it is."

Substitute "the Bible" for "the Koran", and you're talking about our president.

Posted by: brewmn on September 19, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax,

Yes, at least for some people. The scary part for me as I think through this is that I can imagine the case being made that there are NOT any terrible repercussions we'd face in the near future.

To a great degree the US is able to do what it wants militarily and the rest of the world simply has to 'take it.' In the short term the rest of the world will gripe and complain and harrumph and that is about it.

In the long term, however, we'd be paying the price big time. We would have to stand totally alone against the rest of the world, and as we already know we are full of soft targets.

Posted by: Tripp on September 19, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Is the Koran reasonable? Because we are dealing with a nation whose leaders assume that it is.

While the Bible is the paragon of rational thought:

    Exodus 21:7 "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do."
      Exodus 35:2 "On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death."
Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

We would have to stand totally alone against the rest of the world

What do you mean by 'we' Kemosabe?

Posted by: Hostile on September 19, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

In the long term, however, we'd be paying the price big time. We would have to stand totally alone against the rest of the world, and as we already know we are full of soft targets.

Yeah, and about that standing alone thing. I find it interesting that although there is rhetorical support in this country for "the free market of ideas," this free market, for many conservatives, never seems to extend beyond our shores. Once the US has decided on a course of action, discussion is over (if it ever really started in earnest). It seems that if our course of action is so just, obviously good, etc., then some other countries now and then would go along for the ride (not just spunky little Poland). Conversely, we can't be right about everything all of the time; why doesn't the "free market of ideas" ever result in another country convincing our leaderhip of an alternate course of action. Must be that manifest destiny thing and god really being on our side.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

You all are correct that the bible is not a reasonable document either. My point was simply that it is unwise to assume that Iran will behave reasonably. And certainly, Iran would be unwise to assume that we will behave reasonably.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta wonder if anyone in the Bush Administration has asked the obvious question: if we a-bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran (sorry, couldn't resist), what happens in Iraq?

The answer, of course, is that 15 million Shi'ites all of a sudden hate our guts. Since our occupation already is quite the logistical challenge, with long supply lines to the Green Zone in Baghdad running hundreds of miles through Shi'ite Iraq from the Kuwait border, that means we'd better get the helicopters ready for that 1975-style hasty exit.

Posted by: RT on September 19, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

My point was simply that it is unwise to assume that Iran will behave reasonably.

Why not? They've certainly been behaving reasonably so far. In fact their pursuit of nuclear weapons would be the most reasonable thing they could do right now, when comparing the fate of other "Axis of Evil" members: Iraq, which didn't have nuclear weapons, was attacked, and North Korea, which does, was let alone.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Because if nothing else, it will FINALLY get this sorry worthless congress off its collective ass to DO something to remove this maniac from power, and put his warmongering ass in prison for a good long time.

What? You mean like Congress did when GWB stood by and cheered as Israel used US weapons in Lebanon to kill 1500 civs (and counting -- 83 killed by unexploded cluster bombs since the fighting ended!)?

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

You all are correct that the bible is not a reasonable document either. My point was simply that it is unwise to assume that Iran will behave reasonably. And certainly, Iran would be unwise to assume that we will behave reasonably.
Posted by: Randy

Which, for my money, is kind of too bad, because if governments with nuclear weapons (or the aspirations thereof) can't behave reasonably, this planet could become a somewhat uncomfortable place to live.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax: Anyone care to guess who we won't be bombing or invading?

And also:

Pakistan:
Invades its Neighbors: Yes
Committed Genocide: Yes
Has Oil: No

Iran:
Invades its Neighbors: No
Committed Genocide: No
Has Oil: Yes

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Good point Stefan; how could I forget?

Ahhh... sweet, sweet oil: the cause of and solution to all of man's problems.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone think that bombing Iran will not lead to $100-$150/barrel oil? Does anyone not think that that will lead immediately to $5+/gal gas in the US and in the short term kill the world econ (except for GWB's oil pals, of course)? Does anyone not think that that will lead to GWB dropping to 15% approval?

There is no way the WH will bomb Iran before the eve of the election, and I cannot see how they can manage the damage of bombing even afterwards.

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Iran is not going to stop its nuclear program. They know they are on the short list of regimes that the Bush administration doesn't like.

They know from the Iraq example that giving up the program won't help, because facts on the ground do not matter to the Bush administration.

They know from the North Korea example that the only way to deter an attack is to get possession of a nuclear warhead.

So there really is no peaceful solution to preventing Iran from trying its best to get the Bomb.

However, the military alternative is not a good solution either. At best it will postpone Iran achieving its goal, but it will not prevent it. In the mean time, it will cause a great deal of hardship for the Iranian people, who will blame the foreigners for attacking them. It will also cause a great deal of hardship for American interests in the region and in the world.

There are two ways to resolve this situation peacefully: 1) the ruling class in Iran gives up power; 2) the US allows Iran to join the nuclear club.

Number 1 will not happen, because no group of wealthy and powerful people will give up that wealth and power for the good of a nation. This is true in any nation at any time in history.

Number 2 might be the better solution; allowing the Iranians their bomb(s) and assuring them the principle of assured destruction applies to them as it did to the Soviets. However, the push for war on the part of the administration and its supporters shows that they will not settle for that.

At the end of the day, the current administration could not find a diplomatic solution to the crisis even if it wanted to. It has no credibility, it cannot be trusted, and it is proven to be incompetent in any case. The only arrow in their quiver is the military, and therefore that is the one they will use.

It will make a bad situation worse, but then that is simply par for the course with these folks.

Posted by: moonbiter on September 19, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax,

You're right, it is kind of too bad. But they don't call it MAD for nothing. The Soviet Union understood that we had protocols in place and that we would respond to an attack - nuke for nuke and then some. As mad as it seemed, they knew there was no way to win. Does Iran understand this?

I think a forseeable outcome of Iran with nuclear weapons is Tel Aviv and Tehran destroyed. Perhaps its worth a bit of brinksmanship to avoid that.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

There is no way the WH will bomb Iran before the eve of the election, and I cannot see how they can manage the damage of bombing even afterwards.

If I was a betting man, I'd say bombing begins three weeks prior to the election. The Navy is already tasking mine-sweepers to be ready to leave port by Oct 1:

    The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1

The admin is probably banking on the rally-round-the-flag-effect for the elections. Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax, yes I've seen that news item as well, but it doesn't make sense except as a scare tactic or in concert with a limited Israeli strike (though even that I find doubtful do to the lack of US deniability).

Iran doesn't need to mine the Straights to send oil over $100 barrel -- all they have to do is turn off their pumps.

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Once AIPAC sends out the marching orders, Congress will vote 410-8 or so in favor of military action against Iran.

Posted by: told you so on September 19, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Soviet Union understood that we had protocols in place and that we would respond to an attack - nuke for nuke and then some. As mad as it seemed, they knew there was no way to win. Does Iran understand this?

IMO Randy, the problem is not Iran but us. We're not behaving rationally here. When we had the upper hand back in '03 and Iran wanted to deal, we brushed them off. Now westrart diplomacy up when it's clear our groundforces are stretched thin? I'm of the school of thought that says you negotiate when your opponent feels/is weak, not the opposite.

As other posters have noted, it's the regimes with the nukes that get our respect: Pakistan and N. Korea. Our behaviour towards Iran only makes sense if you ignore the posturing and assume that conflict is the goal. Otherwise, we're bumbling idiots.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

They know from the North Korea example that the only way to deter an attack is to get possession of a nuclear warhead.

North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons is not their key deterant. Its the thousands of pieces of artillary that all point at Seoul. North Korea can literally level Seoul anytime they want and there is basically nothing anyone can do about that.

Posted by: Edo on September 19, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax, yes I've seen that news item as well, but it doesn't make sense except as a scare tactic or in concert with a limited Israeli strike (though even that I find doubtful do to the lack of US deniability).

But if there was an airstrike against Iran planned, wouldn't we want minesweepers in the area to deal with the possibility that they would mine the Strait of Hormuz again? What about Iran's proxies? Would they get the green light to mine the Strait? It seems possible. The scenario I've heard that seems to work best for Iran is to keep its oil flowing while using its proxies to mine the Strait.

Wheeee! We're off to the races again.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons is not their key deterant. Its the thousands of pieces of artillary that all point at Seoul. North Korea can literally level Seoul anytime they want and there is basically nothing anyone can do about that.

The artillary is there to deter SK. NK's nuke is their key deterant to deter the US. Do you think GWB gives a rats ass if Seoul gets bombed? Like he cared about Beirut?

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, did you see Bush's speech today at the U.N.? When he mentioned Iran, I was having flashbacks to his speech in '02 about Iraq... Same b.s. words about diplomacy and democracy...

Posted by: Castor Troy on September 19, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

The artillary is there to deter SK. NK's nuke is their key deterant to deter the US. Do you think GWB gives a rats ass if Seoul gets bombed? Like he cared about Beirut?

Well, there's a big difference between the two case: if Seoul was bombed, it would send the East Asian economies (especially South Korea and Japan) into a tailspin, and that would soon after drag everyone else down. Our economy would be hit hard by war on the Korean peninsula.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

In the report I was surprised to see no mention of Iran's arsenal of Russian Sunburn anti-ship missiles, supposedly the most lethal missile in the world today. According to this article, the US fleet in the Persian Gulf would be sitting ducks for them.

Can anyone verify or disprove the article's claims?

Whatever the truth is, I'm afraid that we would soon discover that fighting Iran is not like fighting a third-world country, which is basically what Iraq was.

 

Posted by: Angst in Deutschland on September 19, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever the truth is, I'm afraid that we would soon discover that fighting Iran is not like fighting a third-world country, which is basically what Iraq was.

Sadly, recent experience has shown we are much better at fighting a first-world than a third-world country. A modern mechanized army with jet fighters and submarines and tanks we can defeat -- guerillas armed with IEDs and Kalashnikovs and grenades, not so much.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax,

We don't need ground forces to take on Iran. The Air Force is more than capable of taking the fight to them. Not to mention that we do have nukes, lots of them, which we will use if they use one first. I honestly don't believe we are behaving unreasonably considering the stakes. No more than Kennedy was behaving unreasonably during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or Reagan was behaving unreasonably when the Soviets deployed medium range ICBMs. I think its good that the Iranian people will have to seriously consider what the possession of nuclears weapons will really mean. That their children will be taught to hide under desks and where to find the nearest fallout shelter. It is good that they will come to understand that their leaders are setting them up for destruction. If a few harsh words and military maneuvers can make the point, then I'm all for it.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need ground forces to take on Iran. The Air Force is more than capable of taking the fight to them.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!

The same bullshit "air power is everything!" fantasy, from Goering to Bomber Harris to Curtis LeMay to Lebanon last month to now.

And while the Air Force is busy bombing Iran, what are Iraq's Iranian-allied Shiites going to be doing with the 150,000 US soldiers in their midst? Right now we're at war with about 30% of the Iraqis -- do we really want to be at war with 70%?

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need ground forces to take on Iran. The Air Force is more than capable of taking the fight to them.

Careful Randy, the Air Force always likes to say that, and they're usually wrong. Besides, you know the old saw about assumptions...

    [Retired General Anthony] Zinni, for one, believes an attack on Iran could eventually lead to U.S. troops on the ground. "You've got to be careful with your assumptions," he says. "In Iraq, the assumption was that it would be a liberation, not an occupation. You've got to be prepared for the worst case, and the worst case involving Iran takes you down to boots on the ground." All that, he says, makes an attack on Iran a "dumb idea."

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who has more faith in the peaceful intentions of Ahmedinejad than in Bush is crazy.

I remember when a certain Seattle Congressman was visiting Iraq and declaring that Husseins word was better than Bushs on WMDs. Guess which one was lying; guess how long it will take republicans like republicrat to apologize?

Posted by: heavy on September 19, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I can recall feeling guilty for years, nay, decades, after learning of our overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954.

Today, under aWol, it's who's next. Is this what they trained Condi to do at provost school?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 19, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

My point was simply that it is unwise to assume that Iran will behave reasonably.

Like when Iran executed those hostages. That was simply an unreasonably unwise thing to do, too.

Posted by: Will on September 19, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving the matter of whether Iran has the Sunburn missile aside, here is some info from globalsecurity.org about the latest version of the Sunburn (which is certainly worrisome enough!):

The 3M82 "Mosquito" missiles have the fastest flying speed among all antiship missiles in today's world. It reaches Mach 3 at a high altitude and its maximum low-altitude speed is M2.2, triple the speed of the American Harpoon. The missile takes only 2 minutes to cover its full range and manufacturers state that 1-2 missiles could incapacitate a destroyer while 1-5 missiles could sink a 20000 ton merchantman. An extended range missile, 9M80E is now available.

When slower missiles, like the French Exocet are used, the maximum theoretical response time for the defending ship is 150-120 seconds. This provides time to launch countermeasures and employ jamming before deploying "hard" defense tactics such as launching missiles and using quick-firing artillery. But the 3M82 "Mosquito" missiles are extremely fast and give the defending side a maximum theoretical response time of merely 25-30 seconds, rendering it extremely difficult employ jamming and countermeasures, let alone fire missiles and quick-firing artillery.

Posted by: Angst in Deutschland on September 19, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

ARRGH...Blow em out of the water!

Posted by: R.L. on September 19, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think its good that the Iranian people will have to seriously consider what the possession of nuclears weapons will really mean. That their children will be taught to hide under desks and where to find the nearest fallout shelter. It is good that they will come to understand that their leaders are setting them up for destruction.

That's an interesting point. I'm sure you've heard the theory that nations behave more responsibly when they join the nuclear club? Not sure I'm so convinced by it (Pakistan and India for starters), but perhaps you're right and there will be less bluster on Iran's part if they have nukes. Another thing to consider is that what Ahmedinejad says has to be weighed against what the Grand Ayatollah says. In many ways Ahmedinejad's statements don't reflect policy as much as they do PR (often for MidEast consumption).

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan and Cyntax,

Full scale war with Iran would be completely pointless. Time is on our side and a cold war will do just fine, thank you. But if they start something, we have no need to occupy territory, and the Air Force can punish them at will.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax,

There is some evidence that nations with nuclear weapons do behave more responsibly - e.g., Truman backing down MacArthur during the Korean war. But I think the plan with Iran is to try to get them to think before they get the weapons. Did you know that people are more open to suggestion when they are frightened? Its a subtle form of terrorism when you think about it. But in this case, its better than the alternative.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

But if they start something, we have no need to occupy territory, and the Air Force can punish them at will.


Damn Randy, that's one bitchin' crystal ball you got there (or have you just drunk the AF koolaid?), but I'm, going to go with Zinni's assesment (unless you also were a CentCom Commander):

    "You've got to be prepared for the worst case, and the worst case involving Iran takes you down to boots on the ground." All that, he says, makes an attack on Iran a "dumb idea."

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

But I think the plan with Iran is to try to get them to think before they get the weapons. Did you know that people are more open to suggestion when they are frightened?

That sounds pretty reasonable, except it does beg the question of why we didn't try to back them down in '03. Also, not sure how often you've been around firghtened people (I'm thinking the last time I was on a battlefield) but I've seen people do incredibly stupid shit when they're frightened. Nothing like getting into position where one party feels like they have nothing to lose to really bring out the crazy.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there's a big difference between the two case

I agree. My point is that I doubt that GWB does. If GWB is flirting with (or intent upon, as many on here contend) bombing Iran, which will disrupt the world econ more than war on the Korean penisula, I really don't think he gives a rat's ass about Seoul.

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "I honestly don't believe we are behaving unreasonably considering the stakes. No more than Kennedy was behaving unreasonably during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or Reagan was behaving unreasonably when the Soviets deployed medium range ICBMs."

Both of those examples are about as far removed from the situation with Iran as they could possibly be.

The Soviet Union had ICBMs to deploy. Iran has none, nor is there any evidence that Iran will ever have ICBMs.

The Soviet Union had an ally -- Cuba -- that was geographically close to the USA, on whose soil the USSR could position missiles. Iran has no such ally close to the US where they could position missiles, nor is there any remotely plausible scenario under which Iran could do this.

And not least, the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons -- tens of thousands of multi-megaton hydrogen bombs. Iran has no nuclear weapons and according to both the CIA and the IAEA is at least a decade away from even having the capability of manufacturing a single nuclear weapon.

Your post is a perfect example of the dishonest fear-mongering and saber-rattling that the Republican Fascist Party is using to terrify voters about the nonexistent "nuclear threat" from Iran as we head into the mid-term elections.

It's all a big stinking load of crap, just like the big stinking load of crap about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction" and nonexistent "links to Al Qaeda" that the Republican Fascist Party dumped on America before the 2002 mid-term elections.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'm a big believer in airpower. But not foolish enough to believe a war can be won with only airpower. I agree with Zinni that an attack on Iran would be a dumb idea. All I'm saying is that for them to attack us would also be a really dumb idea, because we can punish them at will.

Posted by: Randy on September 19, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Randy wrote: "Did you know that people are more open to suggestion when they are frightened? Its a subtle form of terrorism when you think about it."

That's a perfect description of the Republican Fascist Party's campaign strategy for the 2006 mid-term elections: terrorize the public with fear to make them "more open to suggestion".

Except that it's not very subtle.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Full scale war with Iran would be completely pointless.

And impossible.

Time is on our side

It is? How?

and a cold war will do just fine, thank you.

Yay! Another cold war!

But if they start something, we have no need to occupy territory, and the Air Force can punish them at will.

And while we're doing that, what are 70% of Iranian-allied Iraqi Shiites going to do to the 150,000 US forces in their midst? Iran can punish our troops in Iraq at will. Checkmate, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

There is some evidence that nations with nuclear weapons do behave more responsibly - e.g., Truman backing down MacArthur during the Korean war.

You fucking moron, the fact that we had nuclear weapons had nothing to do with Truman backing down MacArthur. It was Truman's desire not to get into a land war with 500,000 million Chinese Communists.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

All I'm saying is that for them to attack us would also be a really dumb idea, because we can punish them at will.

Yeah, I concur, but I guess I'm extrapolating a little further from that point to the idea that since we can punish them at will, maybe we don't need to attack them, unless provoked.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

"I think that's exactly right. The administration's actions seem to have been carefully calculated at every step to leave no alternative to a military strike."

Ah, Bush is a brilliant diplomat now? It seems likely that Iran doesn't want to give up its nuclear ambitions.

What other actions do you personally believe would lead to BOTH no military strike and no nuclear Iran?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on September 19, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

There is some evidence that nations with nuclear weapons do behave more responsibly - e.g., Truman backing down MacArthur during the Korean war.

To get back to this idiot point, there is plenty of evidence that nations with nuclear weapons behave incredibly irresponsibly -- e.g. Krushchev touching off the Cuban Missile Crisis; Johnson escalating the Vietnam War; Nixon's illegal invasion of Cambodia; the USSR's invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan; the fiasco of Bush's Iraq War; Israel's recent invasion of Lebanon, etc.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

What other actions do you personally believe would lead to BOTH no military strike and no nuclear Iran?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw

Negotiating with them back in '03 could have been a pretty good contender for both those outcomes, but we'll never know. And I don't think it's so much that Bush is a brilliant diplomat; I think that the administration wants to have the appearence of "checking off the box" diplomatically speaking. It's not like failing to hold effective negotiations is a particularly difficult thing to achieve; I think it's the perfect low expectation for Bush to hit out of the ballpark.

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Jason,

Thanks very much. The same to you, likewise.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Randy: But if they start something, we have no need to occupy territory, and the Air Force can punish them at will.

Stefan: And while we're doing that, what are 70% of Iranian-allied Iraqi Shiites going to do to the 150,000 US forces in their midst? Iran can punish our troops in Iraq at will. Checkmate, I'm afraid.

Not only that.

What do you suppose would happen to the price of oil if we attack Iran?

Posted by: obscure on September 19, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

What do you suppose would happen to the price of oil if we attack Iran?

My colleagues on Wall Street are keeping a close eye indeed on the Straits of Hormuz these days....

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

The price of oil??

Jesus H., if Bush nukes Iran - now, while the rest of the world is still in negotiations mode; now, when we're not at war with Iran; now, when there's no confirmed evidence that Iran is anywhere near being able to build nukes of its own - oil prices will be the least of our worries.

We keep talking about how nuclear deterrence works because any country that nukes another country is committing suicide, and everyone knows that.

Well, kiddies, if Bush nukes Iran that makes us the country that nuked another country.

Why wouldn't we be the ones committing national suicide?

Posted by: CaseyL on September 19, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, kiddies, if Bush nukes Iran that makes us the country that nuked another country.

...again.

Let's not forget that the United States is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

BOMB IRAN!

Boy, that sure sounds familar - it's the short and long of Bush's foreign policy. Just bomb it.

Will the United States have weakened its position in the Middle East?

Gee I don't know, Will IT? You think?

Ah, Kevin, I really think this question is totally, completely and utterlly stupid. Bush hasn't weakened our position in JUST the Mideast pal, try Europe, THE world, half the US population.

And with Blair on the way out, well, there is most definitely a pro-old Europe prime minister waiting in the UK wings.

You're starting to sound just like Thomas Frieman, you're on another planet pal.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 19, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder what James Baker, that go between for big oil and US/foreign government lawyer is thinking, make the rounds in Iraq. the way he is. Iraq's government for today is clearly not going to be government for Iraqi's tomorrow.

You never know when Russia, France, Germany and China will end up with everything despite Baker's best attempt to clean up after junior's great mis-adventure in Iraq. And Exxon/Mobil wanted to name a ship after Rice? What a laugh.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 19, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

As mad as it seemed, they knew there was no way to win. Does Iran understand this?

Uh, yes...

Sheesh.

Sometimes you Yanks seem to think non-Yanks are alien species with unhuman thinking, driven by unhuman motivations.

You prate about the world with little to no knowledge of the world.

Trying to put yourself in the position of the other would do a lot to enhance your understanding.

Try and get out a bit more.


Posted by: snicker-snack on September 19, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - Aye, but at least we were actually at war with Japan at the time. And the idea of nuclear armageddon wasn't yet hatched.

Posted by: CaseyL on September 19, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Iran having nuclear technology so bad? Who can believe this administration anyways? Who believes we can bottle up the Straits without huge costs? Does anyone consider that an act of war? How on earth can we afford three wars at the same time?

I think this situation is a clear result of the patented Bush mix of incompetence, arrogance, and violence. Let's see: demonize and exaggerate an enemy. Pretend to try diplomacy. Attack. Paralyze the political opposition by making the situation abroad very unstable and the arena for discussion at home as polarized as possible.

All in time for the elections. To wit: if the GOP holds Congress, terrific. If it loses, the Middle East will be in such crisis that only an expansive reading of presidential powers will meet the need; investigations into past malfeasance will be met with every species of executive priveledge and the most expansive reading of presidential power we seen yet.

Good God. What is happening to this country?

Posted by: higtaper on September 19, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus H., if Bush nukes Iran...

Fyi, we were talking about attacking Iran, not nuking it. You know, 'degrading their nuclear program' type of thing.

And if Iran should respond in part by witholding oil from the market then prices will skyrocket and that possibility would likely not be the least of our worries as it could have a devastating effect on our already tenuous economy.

Posted by: obscure on September 19, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

obscure,

A couple people were kicking around the idea of nuking Iran and lieing about it - claiming the fallout came from Iran's supplies of enriched Uranium.

Posted by: Tripp on September 19, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

gregory: Judging by the quality of "republicrat"'s posts, I suspect that it's he/she/it who has grown more shallow. Not to mention, as cleek pointed out, willfully blind.

you have always thought that I was shallow.

Back to Bush and Iran. If the goal is to prevent Iran from making its own nuclear weapons, that can be prevented by attacking the plants that provide electricity to the nuclear facilities, and that can be done entirely with air power. If the goal is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons from another country, that probably can not be done at all. If the goal is to impose sanctions, that can be done by sealing the Strait of Hormuz, which can be done with naval power.

When Bush decided to attack Iraq, he got the congressional authority just before the midterm election, and then launched the attack the following spring. I expect he'd do likewise now, if he developed an interest in attacking.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Pakistan
Possess Nukes? -Yes.
Military Dictatorship?-Yes.
Strong Ties with al Qaeda?-Yes.
Strong Ties with Taliban?-Yes.
Al Qaeda/taliban in Country?-Yes.

Anyone care to guess who we won't be bombing or invading?

Posted by: cyntax on September 19, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think Pakistan was given the ultimatum early on; that it was either to be the first ally or the first target in the "GWoT".

Frankly, I think this wasn't a bad decision; I think the Iraq occupation has gone horribly, but I imagine Pakistan would be orders of magnitude worse.

However, your assessment of Pakistan is spot on. If (when?...gulp) Musharraf is overthrown, then I think Pakistan quickly becomes the greatest national security threat to the US...and its in the running right now.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on September 19, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK
republicrat at 1:54 PM: Anybody who has more faith in the peaceful intentions of Ahmedinejad than in Bush is crazy.
Iran has not attacked another country for 700 years. Bush as attacked two and overthrown a democratically elected government in Haiti and tried to overthrow another in Venezuela. There is no doubt that Bush does not hold the moral high ground on this planet, especially with his torture policies in addition to his warmongering.

The threat of an enemy, internal or external, is a necessary part of rightist ideology. If you can't beat the drums for war, the citizenry might notice the fecklessness of the regime.

Bush demagogued for his attack on Iraq. There was no reason for the war; weapons inspectors proved there were no WMD, the UN didn't pass the necessary 2nd resolution, but Bush stampeded his followers for war.

The pro-war right is always primed for a war, they have to instigate one when there is no reason for one. At the moment, Pakistan is building a new reactor capable of producing 30-40 bombs per year, and no rightist is saying a word. Pakistan has sold nuclear information. Pakistan supports bin Laden and "terrorists" and no rightist says a word. Instead, you get all hysterical about a supposed threat from Iran, a threat that already exists from Pakistan.

That is not hypocrisy; it's stupidity.

You say Iran is breaking treaties. The Non-proliferation allows them to develop nuclear power so they are breaking no treaty. The treaty breaker is the Bush regime which has broken treaties forbidding unprovoked attacks on nations and the use of torture, gulags, and secret spying on Americans.

What other actions do you personally believe would lead to BOTH no military strike and no nuclear Iran? Sebastian Holsclaw at 6:29 PM

That is a false dichotomy: There is no more a threat from a nuclear Iran than there is from a nuclear Pakistan, and see above: rightists have nothing to say about nuclear Pakistan.
Time is on our side and a cold war will do just fine: Randy at 5:34 PM

Time is always on the side of the occupied country, not the occupier. It may take decades, but the inhabitants of an occupied land will win unless the occupier is willing to commit genocide.
That we are doing, but the effort needs to be strengthened .republicrat at 2:01 PM

You can repeat the big lie endlessly, but the Bush regime has done nothing to promote energy self-sufficiency in the US.
Iranian leadership is defiant to the whole world and promising to destroy Israel and all other infidels; republicrat at 2:08 PM

That is not true, and Iran, like Iraq, is not a threat to anyone unless attacked and occupied. If you do that, then you're screwed.

Posted by: Mike on September 19, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK
Republican Fascist Party's campaign strategy for the 2006 mid-term elections SecularAnimist at 5:59 PM
The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton

Some of the defining characteristics of fascism:

1. A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions.
2. The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it.
3. The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.
4. Dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences.
5. The need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
6. The need for authority by natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's historical destiny.
7. The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason.
8. The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success.
9. The right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right is decided by the sole criterion of the group's prowess within a Darwinian struggle.

This description fits the modern 'Publican Party and all Bush's lickspittles to a tee.

Posted by: Mike on September 19, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

"You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. You have to make diplomacy work."

Yeah if only.

Talk about beating a dead horse to a bloody pulp. This is just stupid.

Everybodys knows that Bush has no solution for Iran at this point in time, Bush doesn't know what to do, not any anymore then he did about North Korea and it's nuke plans, SO we know that Bush doesn't do diplomacy either, never has and never will, indeed this adminstration doesn't even know how to go about starting diplomatic talks.

Bush has this visceral hate thing, (a primative, childish hate) that has kept little Bushie and his administration from talking to North Korea, Arafat, and now even the Iranian President, Ahmadinejad. If Bush tried anything in Iran, then it would certianly make Republicans nervious because they would have to defend little Bushie. And we all know how that's been going lately and how preciously thin the ice is under little Bushies little feet. Dems won't have to worry about impeaching Bush, because if Bush gets any more stupid then he already is, the Republicans will do it for us.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 19, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

brewmn: Last time I checked, Ahmedinejad hadn't started a war against a country that posed no threat to his.

true. But he organized the youth brigades of Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and sent them into combat to be slaughtered; and he armed Hizbollah against Israel; and he has promised to destroy Israel.

cleek: Bush is playing it the same way he played Iraq.

That's why I believe that he will wait for Iran to be in blatant viiolation of a unanimous UNSC resolution, and will wait for authority from Congress before ordering an attack.

Does anyone think that bombing Iran will not lead to $100-$150/barrel oil? Does anyone not think that that will lead immediately to $5+/gal gas in the US and in the short term kill the world econ (except for GWB's oil pals, of course)? Does anyone not think that that will lead to GWB dropping to 15% approval?

With military and commercial interests in the US increasing synfuels and biofuels; with American and Canadian companies increasing the rate of extraction from the tar sands; with American companies increasing the rate of extraction from the rocky Mountains; and with increases in the rate of extraction from the outer continental shelf, I think that bombing Iran will have no net effect on the price of fuel in the US. About the rest of the world I can't say, but bombing the facilities that are capable of enriching uranium and assembling nuclear weapons will have no net effect on Iranian oil production.

heavy: I remember when a certain Seattle Congressman was visiting Iraq and declaring that Husseins word was better than Bushs on WMDs. Guess which one was lying; guess how long it will take republicans like republicrat to apologize?

That is an interesting comment.

However, McDermott did not say that Iraq had no WMDs; Saddam Hussein did not say that Iraq had no WMDs; Iraqi generals threatened to use the WMDs against any invader (and Richard Clarke warned of massive American casualties therefrom); the Iraqis did not permit the friendly Hans Blix and his inspectors to visit all facilities freely and verify the lack of WMDs; instead, Iraq acted in defiance of UNSCR 1441, even after the US Congress authorized Bush to wage war on Iraq, and even after Dan Rather assured Saddam Hussein that American would rally in support of the administration once the invasion was launched. As it happened, 1% of Americans rallied against the war, 65% supported it, and 90% of the Congress voted for the resolution in support.

What McDermott said was that Iraq was a peaceful, free, and well-run country; and that Saddam Hussein was a peaceful and reasonable ruler. McDermott was wrong.

Mike: Iran has not attacked another country for 700 years.

They have armed Hizbollah, and they have promised to destroy Israel when they are able.

You might be right about their defensiveness and fear of an American invasion, especially given the amount of aggressive language from the American far-right commentariat and blogosphere. Interestingly, they provided modest support to the US war against the Taliban. If their language was more defensive and less aggressive, and less blatantly anti-Semitic (or Judeophobic, if you prefer that word) and anti-democratic, and if they were not supporting the enemies of the elected government in Iraq, then I would grant your case greater credence. Also, they did not have to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that they are now violating; they are gaming the system, getting technical assistance from IAEA while violaiting its restrictions.

In short, you have a good case. On balance, I don't believe it.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

His narrow conclusion is similar to what Wes Clark told me in February: contrary to conventional wisdom, which suggests that Iran's research sites are too widespread to be destroyed via bombing, a military strike could probably do a pretty good job of taking them out.

Although that is essentially the same "narrow conclusion" from of the Atlantic war game exercise he helped conduct in December 2004, it is irrelevant.**

What is relevant is the conclusion: that a military strike on Iran would make matters much worse, and which could result in catastrophic blowback.


** Things appear to be considerably worse now. At the time the Atlantic exercise was conducted, there were an estimated 10 nuke R&D targets and ~300 aim points, with ~20 requiring penetrating weapons. That appears to have increased substantially based on Gardiner's most recent analysis, to "400 aim points" of which "seventy-five" would require penetrating weapons and (if my eyeball estimation is any good) ~24 targets.

Posted by: has407 on September 20, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

One addition to the previous post: I'm not sure where the "conventional wisdom" comes from, because it isn't in any cogent analysis I've ever seen. None of those analyses suggests we couldn't put a dent in Iran's nuke program or bomb most of the sites to rubble. However, all of those analysis also conclude that it would virtually guarantee that the sh*t would truly hit the fan, with a very bad ending.

Posted by: has407 on September 20, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Angst in Deutschland: In the report I was surprised to see no mention of Iran's arsenal of Russian Sunburn anti-ship missiles, supposedly the most lethal missile in the world today.

The "Sunburn" or "Suburst" (aka, SS-N-22, P-270 Moskit, Kh-15, 3M80, P80, P-100, Zubi, Onika, ...) are pretty lethal, according to all reports, as least for ASW. (NB: it first showed up about 15 years ago, and is not an unknown item, although the West--as of a year ago(?)--had yet to produce a drone/copy that simulates its behavior and that can test existing defenses, specifically low-flying highly maneuverable supersonic ASW cruise missles, so no one can say with any certainty how existing defenses might work against it. )

In any case, Iran appears to have a limited inventory of them, which is probably why they don't appear prominently in any rational assessment. Accounts vary, but by all indications Iran probably has no more than 8 of them, acquired either from the Ukraine or via China. However, accounts are often confused as Iran also reportedly acquired ~8-12 other ancient cruise missles from the Ukraine--which they have apparently been trying to reverse engineer--and the reports often mix up the two. That doesn't mean that the few that Iran might possess couldn't do serious damage, but I'd be surprised if any launchers weren't taken early in the game.

In short, I doubt they would be a significant factor. (And if by some chance they did turn out to be significant, then we need to seriously re-assess Iran's indigineous capabilities to produce, field and operate sophisticated weapons systems.)

Posted by: has407 on September 20, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

and they have promised to destroy Israel when they are able.

Cite please.

And not "as the Imam said, 'Israel must be wiped off them map'" but rather your bizarre statement "we promise to destroy Israel when we are able."

Of course you can't because, no such cite exists.

In context -- you know, context that tool used to clarify information and keep it accurate and in perspective that you never employ here -- in context, Ahmadinejad was talking about a whole host of other oppressive regimes that seemed invincible but had fallen, including that of Saddam Hussein. He went on to say that the Israeli regime that occupies Palestine -- Zionists in his view -- should be "wiped from the pages of time" as these others were.

No map, no bomb, no promise to destroy. What he in fact said is that "regime change" is necessary. A terrible thing when a country wants regime change in another country, isn't it?

And how does he want that accomplished? Here's Ahmadinejad's suggestion:

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: [...] Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way.

Yes, he actually thinks people should be able to vote on the issue of Palestine and of who governs Israel, just as Khameini before him suggested. As outlandish as that may sound to us, it's not so outlandish when you believed your land has been unfairly taken from you.

Just ask the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. They haven't attacked anybody either; should we bomb their infrastructure next?

When you're done defending these faked statements, please make up more bogus statistics about the reconstruction in Iraq as you've been doing.

And the remind us on the basis of those statistics how beautifully it's all going.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 20, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, thanks Jason,

Precisely because we don't do enough travelling, we're afraid of foreigners. And then when we get to meet people like those in hank's neighborhood, lo and behold, they're pretty much just like us.

Totally agree but there's something cultural at work here. The foreign doesn't really make it into your media either unless it's a disaster or war or riots or some other kind of spectacle. Rarely are there programs about say (just to cite some I've seen in other countries) the difficulty of young Kazakistanis trying to find a wife or showing a young family in Kiribati gathering round for a meal chatting about their day or minority French youths in a give and take about the lack of opportunity they feel, the sort of programming that shows the humanity of others.

Even in drama. AFAIK, the States is the only country that routinely remakes movies and TV series made in countries that share it's language. Rather than watch Steptoe and Son, or Man About the House or George and Mildred, or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, you remake these English language shows and movies with American actors in American settings.

And then there's nothing to compare with the way non-English speakers watch countless subtitled films made in languages not their own starring people not of their own culture (seeing American characters for instance, and the worries and trials of these American characters). Thousands and thousands and thousands of hours.

And yet it's felt that the need is for Ms. Hughes to go out and explain America to the world.

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 20, 2006 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

What McDermott said was that Iraq was a peaceful, free, and well-run country; and that Saddam Hussein was a peaceful and reasonable ruler.

Show me the quote. You have a miserable record of misrepresentation here, republicrat. If you had any sense of shame you would cease and desist.

Thanks again to Windhorse for challenging republicrats bullshit.

Posted by: obscure on September 20, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yesterday, someone asked if Stephan had taken his vacation in Mecca. It seems as though that several of the trolls have recently returned from their Pilgramage to the Shrine of Bomber Harris in England.

Snicker-snack, Yes, we do remake foreign films, but often with Canadian actors. It is not their fault that these fail so often. Even the remarkable Coen Brothers totally screwed up trying to remake a classic.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 20, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Snicker-Snack,

Years ago I remember seeing the English version of "Who's the Boss." I have no idea why someone in England chose that particular sitcom to remake with british actors, The copying sems to go both ways.

Posted by: Tripp on September 20, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, thirdPaul, good to hear from you. Yeah, it's fun listening to these American-set films where all the extras are speaking like Canadians, eh?

Tripp, I stand corrected.

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 20, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

the Craziest Goddamn Thing I've Heard In a Long Time


Don't mean to brag, but I pointed this one out ages ago.

Posted by: cld on September 20, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"...the Bush administration, which has been carefully designing its diplomatic maneuvering to guarantee failure."

Kind of the motto of the whole presidency. Well, they had to good at something, right?

Posted by: Kenji on September 20, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

One little point. There may not have been much of an Al Qaida presence when we invaded Iraq, but there is certainly one now. Moreover, if we dump the democracy project and just skeedaddle, what happens? Al Qaida will declare a great victory. They will also celebrate by making life very short or very uncomfortable for a lot of Iraqis--first the uppity Shia communities, then the Kurdish areas where women have actually been seen in public wearing blue jeans and lipstick!

The net result of cut-and-run: a great tide of Iraqi refugees desperately trying to flee to Kuwait, Jordan, and Turkey. Many of them won't make it. Of those that do America will be under great pressure to take them in. We probably will, but in every 10,000 we accept there will probably be 50 or so human time bombs.

Worse yet is this. Ahmadinejad has no serious plans of attacking the U.S.A. or even having to deter a pre-emptive strike by us. The president of Iran is much, much more likely to end up using all of his first dozen nukes versus Iraq if any combination of Ba'ath oldtimers and Al Qaida seize power. In fact, that is probably why Iran will not be deterred from getting its nukes--it really doesn't look forward to the day that a newly militant Iraq regime emerges from the chaos.

As far as our American nukes, we are probably going to end up with a Russian-like foreign policy. That is, hang on to 15,000 good H-bombs and let it be known you will have a bad attitude if attacked. Other than that, just run around the world trying to make a few bucks and gain advantages where possible. France does this. Maybe the French figure a few hundred nukes are enough to give terrorists second thoughts, especially when combined with a weasily foreign policy and a lot of blame-shifting to the USA.

All the same, it wouldn't shock me a bit if either France or Russia isn't the first nuclear power to actually get nuked. That's the thing about Islamist terrorists--they really are crazy. They will out-do their 9/11 triumph. My psychic-mystic side keeps conjuring back to Paris as the victim city, but it could be Moscow.

Posted by: Mike Cook on September 20, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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