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Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PUBLIC OPINION IN IRAN....PIPA/WPO has conducted a new poll of Iranian public opinion:

An overwhelming 84 percent of Iranians say it is very important for Iran to have the capacity to enrich uranium, despite the fact that the UN Security Council has called for Iran to cease uranium enrichment....However, two-thirds of Iranians (66%) endorse Iran's participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty even when reminded that it prohibits Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Only 15 percent want Iran to withdraw from the treaty.

....Fifty-four percent think that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- the UN organization charged with enforcing the NPT -- is having a mostly positive influence in the world (10% view it negatively).

Iranians are also generally in favor of strengthening ties with the U.S., but only barely. There's more at the link, and the news is thoroughly mixed. Not as bad as it could be, but not all that great either.

Kevin Drum 12:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Actually Kevin, this is good news. Despite all that we have done to leave moderate Iranians with the notion that Americans are deranged idiots, they still seem to have the capacity to want to talk about our differences.

Now, as soon as our enlightened leadership starts its far sighted, evenhanded, and determined diplomatic initiative to find common ground…Oh wait…never mind.

Posted by: Keith G on January 24, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

If Americans would read a map, Iran's nervousness is understandable. How would we feel if they had bombers in Cuba and combat forces in Canada and Mexico? That is exactly the situation Iran is faced with. They share a border with Turkey (Incirlik AFB, home of the 728th Air Mobility Squadron) and also with Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't want anyone to have nukes. But I understand why they want them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 24, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Just to cut the trolls off at the pass: liberals are not (or, at least, should not be) using these poll results to say that Iran should develop nuclear technology unimpeded.

What this particular liberal is saying is that if 84% of Iranians want the ability to enrich uranium, then the US is going to have to tread gently in keeping Iran from getting the bomb. You have to use diplomacy, not just threaten to bomb them back into the Stone Age.

Sadly, I think that last paragraph used several words that the administration considers to be expletives ("gently," "diplomacy," "Iran").

Posted by: mmy on January 24, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

For more news on Iran, Ahmadinejad once again tells us he wants to annihalate America and Israel.
Link
""Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assured that the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives," the Iranian president was quoted as saying."
And this is the person liberals and Democrats say we should be compromising with?

Al

.

Posted by: werppp on January 24, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to know what to make of this poll. Kevin pointed out one inconsistency regarding nuclear proliferation.

More generally, I wonder how many Iranians dare to be fully open when responding to a poll. If I lived in Iran, I'd be pretty careful about what I said.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 24, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want Iran to have nukes, because I think nuclear proliferation is bad, but I think it's perfectly rational for them to want them.

Iraq=No Nukes=Invasion
North Korea=Nukes=No Invasion

If you're the third named member of the "Axis of Evil," of COURSE you're going to want nukes. You want to be un-invaded North Korea, not invade and fucked-up Iraq.

And I'd be a lot more worried about the security of Israel if it wasn't common knowledge throughout the Middle East (and the world) that they've had nuclear weapons since the 1980s. Mutually Assured Destruction works.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 24, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

If I lived in Iran, I'd be pretty careful about what I said.

One only wishes "ex-liberal" showed similar reticence about posting his/her/its distortions, obfuscations, straw men and outright lies in this forum.

Posted by: Gregory on January 24, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal has a point, do we know how free people are to answer polls in Iran? These numbers line up very nicely with the Government's objectives.

Posted by: Boronx on January 24, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia is a far more authoritarian state than Iran. It is the ultimate oppressive Islamic state and it is protected by the United States. Iran is not a closed society and many people, not Americans, who travel there, find it quite nice. It is not a liberal democracy like nearly all the states in central Asia. Hell, these days even in the US the president has the power to pronounce a citizen an enemy combatant and hold them without charges or access to the courts.

The warm relationship between the Saudi Arabian regime and the United States illustrates how preposterous this whole spreading democracy to the person sitting in darkness really is.

It is a lame canard suitable for only the dullest school children.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 24, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oh good lord. It never fails. When someone doesn't like the results of a survey, they smear the survey methodology without even bothering to read up on it.

What Kevin doesn't report is that the survey found that a majority of USAmericans agree with the Iranian people that they should be allowed to enrich uranium for nuclear power. I guess USAmericans also feel pressured by the mullahs to lie to survey takers.

One difference is in the level of hate for each other. Only a minority of Iranians disapprove of the USAmerican *people* (45%), whereas people in the US overwhelmingly disapprove of the Iranian people (59%).

I think that pretty much explains the entire relationship between the two countries, including some of the comments on this blog.

Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

For years, it has been clear that many if not most of Iranians who are middle class and higher think kind thoughts about Americans and the "American way of life". Tis point was made clear to me several years ago when I dated an Iranian American med student. His parents, both drs, moved here in the mid 1970s; yet, most of his extended family lived near Tehran.

They (his parents and other relatives) were very frustrated at how American policy lumped them together with Arabs and although they had no love of the conservative mullahs, they felt that US actions were making things in Iran a lot worse.

Posted by: Keith G on January 24, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only person here who has actually been to Iran?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 24, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

As long as we have em, others should be allowed to have them. As long as we have the most, we need not worry. Who the f*ck do we think we are to tell countries they can't but then say that its ok that we have them? This is just more evidence that we should ENGAGE Iran instead of the shit, non existing, confrontational, do as I say not as I do policy that the worst president ever has imposed on his subjects with regards to Iran.

Posted by: dee on January 24, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK


MMY: Just to cut the trolls off at the pass: liberals are not (or, at least, should not be) using these poll results to say that Iran should develop nuclear technology unimpeded.

Personally, I think you've attempted to also cut a lot of liberals off at the pass with your framing of what their views "should not be." What is liberal about claiming an entitlement to technology we deny the use of to others? What is liberal about threatening to use a technology against those who choose to develop it? Dictating to other nations what they may not do (and to liberals what they should not do) is not liberalism; it's authoritarianism.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 24, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is the kind of information we need to hear though, because, along with mention of the Grand Bargain offer from Iran a few years back involving recognition of Israel and forswearing of nuclear program, it gives us a more balanced picture to work with in forming foreign policy views and strategy.

Otherwise, it's just shaped and dominated by biased and distorted claims of propagandists, warmongerers, and war profiteers.

Posted by: Jimm on January 24, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

When I hear a radical evangelical fundamentalist Guckert Mouth Fucking President refer to 'radical Shi'a', I expect the start of another war. War against Iran.

Iranians had better learn how to make atomic weapons asap. Even if the Iranians stop all atomic research, weapons or peaceful, they are going to learn what it means to have US bombs fall on their heads. Their best defense is to be able to demonstrate they can use weapons of mass destruction, because that is the only thing that will prevent an unprovoked attack by the American military.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Iran will open their nuclear program (whether it's a bluff or not) as soon as Israel opens their nuclear program. Ahmadinijad said this. Why is this not considered a viable option? Every other nuclear power submits to NPT verification. Why does Israel get a free pass?

For the record, I don't think Iran should get a free pass either. But if we make any exceptions, what's the point of the whole thing. For all we know, Israel could have manufactured 5000 warheads by now. Or none. Aren't we all better off knowing? That's the whole point of NPT. Eliminate the unknowns so we don't all go bankrupt trying to out-nuke eachother.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 24, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Otherwise, it's just shaped and dominated by biased and distorted claims of propagandists, warmongerers, and war profiteers."

Sounds just like Iraq and Bushco...

Posted by: dee on January 24, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Looking at the poll:

10% of Iranians have a favorable or very favorable view of Bin Laden.

But

3% of Americans have a favorable or very favorable view of Bin Laden (!)

*boggle*

Where's that 3% coming from?

Posted by: No Longer a Urinated State of America on January 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Every other nuclear power submits to NPT verification. Why does Israel get a free pass?

Not to defend Israel, but they are not signatories to the NPT. Neither are India nor Pakistan, iirc.

That being said, I think that membership in the UN should require that nukes be inspected regularly.

Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

3% of Americans have a favorable or very favorable view of Bin Laden (!) *boggle* Where's that 3% coming from?

Ever since exit polls in a statewide election in Lousiana several years back found that 3% of blacks voted for David Duke, I have always figured 3% as the expected "spoilage" or "slippage".

Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

But 3% of Americans have a favorable or very favorable view of Bin Laden (!)
*boggle*
Where's that 3% coming from?

Dick Cheney and Condi voted early and often.

Posted by: cyntax on January 24, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

If Americans would read a map, Iran's nervousness is understandable. How would we feel if they had bombers in Cuba and combat forces in Canada and Mexico?
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 24, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

. . . And two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Gulf of Mexico - and a cultural history of repeated attempted invasion and conquest of our region dating back to 200 BC. . . (Alexander the Great, the Crusades, WWI, WWII, establishing Israel, cold-war meddling, the Shah, Gulf War 1, etc.)

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 24, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Not to defend Israel, but they are not signatories to the NPT. Neither are India nor Pakistan, iirc.
That being said, I think that membership in the UN should require that nukes be inspected regularly.
Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

That's what Iran is asking for. They will sign NPT if Israel signs it.

I agree about membership in the UN. As well as the WTO.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 24, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Oh the meddling knows no bounds, OBF. It's still going on. Lots of cross border commando activity is going on below the CNN line. Hubris, arrogance, jingoism and ethnocentrism clouds too many perceptions. And the ignorance of the region is rampant, too.

Remember why we have to keep such a close eye on those we chose: Reyes thought al Qa'eda is a Shia organization. Which makes me think the people in his district looked at a map and said "Hey! D.C. is about as far from home as we can send him!"

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 24, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Damn - gotta go. Back after classes are over.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 24, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

That's what Iran is asking for. They will sign NPT if Israel signs it.

Iran is already a signatory.

Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

what disputo said. and the recent sanctions imposed were not for violation of the NPT.

Posted by: benjoya on January 24, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the countries telling Iran they're not allowed to enrich uranium either do so themselves, or are closely allied to countries that do.

If I were an Iranian, I'd be thinking "well, if it's OK for the USA, France, the UK, Germany, Russia, China, and Japan to enrich uranium, why isn't it OK for us to do so?"

Posted by: Robert Merkel on January 24, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Iranians are also generally in favor of strengthening ties with the U.S., but only barely

Can you imagine what the percentage would be without having had Bush as President? Wouldn't it be nice to erase the GWB years and get our reputation back?

Thanks a lot Scalia.

But good will is a renewable resource. Let's get a Democrat in there.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 24, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Iran? We're going to fuck the fuckers like they've never been fucked!

Because we can.

Posted by: Karl Rove on January 24, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

To answer blue girls question, I haven't been to Iran, but I don't think that they're quite the threat certain parties make them out to be.

In fact after 9/11 up until the Axis of Evil SOTUS speech, Iranian Intelligence services were sending information through to the US to assist the war against Al Quaeda.

Unfortunately, being a proud people, they kind of got pissed when being labelled part of the Axis of Evil and cut relations - again.

However, they still offered to sit down and talk with the US Government and according to Lawrence Wilkerson offered pretty much what Condi and Dubya have been demanding, but his royal Cheyneyness refused to play.

Strikes me that Iran is simply not the threat it is made out to be, the current POTUS and cronies are simply 2D comic characters spouting slogans as policy and headlines as strategy. World peace is at risk but NOT from Tehran.

Posted by: Bad Rabbit on January 24, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

What rabbit said.
One of bluegirl's points should be pushed harder. How many have been to Iran ? No, not me either. But.
Historical analogy. Back in the late 50's or so John D. Huffenpuffer, Prime Minister of Canada ( O.K. I do mean Diefenbaker ) aroused the ire of Canadians by a baldfaced lie, to whit : the BOMARC Missiles ( Star Wars One ) on Canadian soil did not have the nuclear warheads installed which made the system operational ( boy, did Canadians ever buy a kludge from you guys ). American servicemen at Gander gave the lie to this tale and popular anti nuclear proliferation sentiment forced the warheads to be taken off.
I'm reasonably sure that scenario is inconceivable to most of you.
The U.S. is dominated by empire and weapons - believe it or not. When one country spends more money on arms than the rest of the planet combined, excuse me for thinking a bunch of paranoids are not the best judge of others intentions.
By and large, U.S. ignorance of other lands and peoples was legend in my boyhood. Have things changed that much ?
My point ? Simply this : I wouldn't give two cents for U.S. evaluations of Iranian intentions.

Posted by: opit on January 24, 2007 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

dee wrote:

"As long as we have em, others should be allowed to have them. As long as we have the most, we need not worry. Who the f*ck do we think we are to tell countries they can't but then say that its ok that we have them?"
__________________

Such a position is quite legitimate, as long as you are willing to take the chance that you are wrong. Others aren't quite so willing to chance it. Americans generally elect those who agree with the second position. Who is to say we don't have the right to do so?

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 25, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

We probably cannot prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons forever. If they are the least bit smart about it, they'll probably be able to fend us off until it becomes a fait accompli.

That doesn't mean the effort shouldn't be made or that it isn't valuable if it fails. There should be as many disincentives and roadblocks to having nuclear weapons as possible. Else, somebody, sometime, is going to start popping them off.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 25, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK
…to annihalate America and Israel… werppp at 12:53 PM
No, what his statement is is that he expects these regimes to collapse from their own corruption. a-n-n-i-h-i-l-a-t-e
…If I lived in Iran, I'd be pretty careful about what I said. ex-lax at 12:56 PM
The radical right would like to see that situation in the US.
…Where's that 3% coming from? No Longer a Urinated State of America at 2:00 PM
Try Dinest D'Souza and his ilk. If you want, you can see him in action here.
Not to defend Israel, but they are not signatories to the NPT. Neither are India nor Pakistan, iirc…. Disputo at 2:04 PM
Actually Iran, Pakistan and India are, which is why Clinton imposed sanctions when India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests. Israel, no, but I think inspections should still be applied in order to show a more balanced foreign policy. Posted by: Mike on January 25, 2007 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK
…as many disincentives...to having nuclear weapons as possible. Trashhauler at 12:57 AM
There were, but Bush decided to ignore them and has even rewarded India for its violation of NPT. It's tough to argue in favor of one against another merely on the basis of political preference. India has not always shown the most benign policies. Posted by: Mike on January 25, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Mike wrote:

(Quoting me) "'...as many disincentives...to having nuclear weapons as possible.'
Trashhauler at 12:57 AM

There were, but Bush decided to ignore them and has even rewarded India for its violation of NPT. It's tough to argue in favor of one against another merely on the basis of political preference. India has not always shown the most benign policies."
____________________

Yep. Though I think India's acquisition of nukes somewhat predated the Bush Administration, the fact remains that non-proliferation efforts work best before the country in question gets the bomb. Eventually, somebody finds they have to deal with the "offending" country for other, no doubt compelling, reasons and then further NPT efforts go by the board.

Still, if the Iranians really want nukes, neither threats nor bribes are going to deter them forever, though they might delay things a bit. We've removed one threat to the Iranians, Saddam Hussein, but we cannot remove the perception or reality of an Israeli threat. We might be able to reduce the perception of an invasion threat from us, though not entirely, as long as we have a presence of any kind in the Middle East. That's not going to change under the next Administration, whether we are still in Iraq or not.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 25, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

aWol hasn't been president since 1972? i'll have to make a note of that...

Glad to see you about, Trashhauler. Glad you are on the mend. I should be in bed, and indeed that's wehere I'm headed in the next five minutes...But if that model had run properly the first time I would have missed you...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 25, 2007 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

opit wrote:

"Historical analogy. Back in the late 50's or so John D. Huffenpuffer, Prime Minister of Canada ( O.K. I do mean Diefenbaker ) aroused the ire of Canadians by a baldfaced lie, to whit : the BOMARC Missiles ( Star Wars One ) on Canadian soil did not have the nuclear warheads installed which made the system operational ( boy, did Canadians ever buy a kludge from you guys ). American servicemen at Gander gave the lie to this tale and popular anti nuclear proliferation sentiment forced the warheads to be taken off."
___________________

Thereby rendering those early anti-aircraft missiles almost entirely useless for their intended purpose of stopping Russian bombers, since the operational concept was to use blast effect and EMP to stop the bombers before they could get to Canadian or American targets.

Perhaps Diefenbaker would have had better luck if he had simply told the truth - the BOMARC system was far less costly than keeping massed squadrons of fighters in service. For good or ill, the Soviet shift to offensive missiles made the BOMARC obsolete soon enough, anyway.

The analogy doesn't quite fit, however, since the BOMARC system could only be used for defensive purposes. It's interesting to consider that the non-proliferation sentiment has, in some ways, been most effective against defensive systems.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 25, 2007 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

GC wrote:

"Glad to see you about, Trashhauler. Glad you are on the mend. I should be in bed, and indeed that's wehere I'm headed in the next five minutes...."
____________________

Thanks, GC. It's nice to be at home again, where I can get more than two hours of sleep at a time. I'm trying to wean myself off the pain medication, though the neck and back muscles feel about what you might expect after having them all split and restitched. The good news is that I've already recovered feeling in my legs and arms, which is, frankly, more than I expected.

Right now, I'm good for about three hours before needing to lie down. I don't think I'll be hurrying back to work anytime soon. Anyway, it's good to be back.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 25, 2007 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh, you all stay up a bit late. :)
The US Administration doesn't respect democracy in Iraq any more than it does in America.

New York Times:
By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: January 24, 2007
BAGHDAD, Jan. 23 — Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, read a roll call of the 275 elected members with a goal of shaming the no-shows.
Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister? Absent, living in Amman and London. Adnan Pachachi, the octogenarian statesman? Also gone, in Abu Dhabi.
Others who failed to appear Monday included Saleh Mutlak, a senior Sunni legislator; several Shiites and Kurds; and Ayad al-Samaraei, chairman of the finance committee, whose absence led Mr. Mashhadani to ask: “When will he be back? After we approve the budget?”
It was a joke barbed with outrage. Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.
Part of the problem is security, but Iraqi officials also said they feared that members were losing confidence in the institution and in the country’s fragile democracy. As chaos has deepened, Parliament’s relevance has gradually receded.
Deals on important legislation, most recently the oil law, now take place largely out of public view, with Parliament — when it meets — rubber-stamping the final decisions. As a result, officials said, vital legislation involving the budget, provincial elections and amendments to the Constitution remain trapped in a legislative process that processes nearly nothing. American officials long hoped that Parliament could help foster dialogue between Iraq’s increasingly fractured ethnic and religious groups, but that has not happened, either.
Goaded by American leaders, frustrated and desperate to prove that Iraq can govern itself, senior Iraqi officials have clearly had enough. Mr. Mashhadani said Parliament would soon start fining members $400 for every missed session and replace the absentees if they fail to attend a minimum amount of the time.
Some of Iraq’s more seasoned leaders say attendance has been undermined by a widening sense of disillusionment about Parliament’s ability to improve Iraqis’ daily life. The country’s dominant issue, security, is almost exclusively the policy realm of the American military and the office of the prime minister.

Posted by: Zit on January 25, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK
It's interesting to consider that the non-proliferation sentiment has, in some ways, been most effective against defensive systems.

At least during the cold war, and perhaps still even today, though less so, there is a good case that defensive systems that could give decisionmakers the impression of immunity from retaliation were the most dangerous changes to the status quo, once the large arsenals of the superpowers were established.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 25, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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