Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ESCALATION....The Bush administration has decided to take off the gloves in its fight with Iranian operatives working in Iraq. Our old policy was called "catch and release," but last year it was replaced with a tougher policy:

The new "kill or capture" program was authorized by President Bush in a meeting of his most senior advisers last fall, along with other measures meant to curtail Iranian influence from Kabul to Beirut

Advocates of the new policy -- some of whom are in the NSC, the vice president's office, the Pentagon and the State Department -- said that only direct and aggressive efforts can shatter Iran's growing influence. A less confident Iran, with fewer cards, may be more willing to cut the kind of deal the Bush administration is hoping for on its nuclear program. "The Iranians respond to the international community only when they are under pressure, not when they are feeling strong," one official said.

The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless. It virtually never causes anyone to back down, but it's timeless nonetheless. Aviation Week reports:

Iran has converted one of its most powerful ballistic missile into a satellite launch vehicle....The Iranian space launcher has recently been assembled and "will liftoff soon" with an Iranian satellite, according to Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

....Although designed as a technology demonstrator, the planned satellite launch would be a potent political and emotional weapon in the Middle East.

So what's Plan B?

Kevin Drum 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (95)

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PELOSI: He's tried this two times — it's failed twice. I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?'

BUSH: Because I told them it had to.

PELOSI: Why didn't you tell them that the other two times?

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 26, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bush never ceases to disgust

Posted by: cleek on January 26, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

ESCALATION

Your post is full of mistakes Kevin. First it is not a escalation. It's a augmentation of 22,000 combat troops to Iraq. This time, Bush is making sure the augmentation will be a complete success and he's telling the Generals on the ground failure is not a option. The augmentation is a rebuttal to the Baker-Hamilton plan which accepts the defeat of America in Iraq.

The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless.

And hasn's this "logic" as you call it worked already in Iraq? If George W Bush had not liberated Iraq, Saddam would be going after nukes just like Iran is going after nukes. In that case, we would be having two countries in the middle east on the verge of being a nuclear power instead of just one which would have made the middle east a much more dangerous place.

So what's Plan B?

I think we should do our best to make Plan A work rather than assume Plan A has failed. It is wrong to start working on hypotheticals when Plan A hasn't even been finished yet.

Al

.

Posted by: Real Al on January 26, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Time is a'wasting for Cheney and the neo-cons. They have less than 2 years to push us into war with Iran and Syria. Syria is talking to Israel so that war might come off the table, but Iran is still the goal of Cheney and the neo-cons.

I heard Tim Russert report the other day that Bush himself isn't so hot to attack Iran. I guess Condi or somebody close to her has informed Bush that the current Iranian President isn't as powerful or popular as Cheney and the neo-nuts want us to believe.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 26, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK
Although designed as a technology demonstrator, the planned satellite launch would be a potent political and emotional weapon in the Middle East.

I'm not sure why that sentence has an "Although" at the beginning; one of the principal technologies that an orbital launch demonstrates, aside from the capacity to launch satellites, is the capacity for intercontinental delivery of military payloads. If you can get a payload into orbit, you don't have a range problem getting a similar-sized payload anywhere on earth (accuracy, of course, may still be an issue.)

And that's got to be a central purpose of the "technology demonstration" by Iran.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"gore/edwards 08":

Pelosi should mind her own business. She's a member of the legislative branch, not the executive. Her job is to pass laws. The president decides how those laws are enforced.

Posted by: Al on January 26, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi princes pay guides to help them hunt down US soldiers in Iraq so that they can take their dog tags home as trophies. Like the response after 9/11 to occupy Iraq, Bush reacts by making war against Iran.

[offensive content on this post has been deleted]

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

You are absolutely right cmdicely. Although was absolutely unnecessary. Just like sputnik the purpose of the "technology demonstrator" is to prove to everybody that the Iranians can put something in orbit. As I recall from my coldwar memories "throw weight" is the next issue.

Of course, Bush is not Eisenhower. No telling how Bush will react.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 26, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush continues to ignore the advice of those who want to save him and/or save the country, it is likely that the Iranians will become more "confident." Confident of what? Confident that they are doing what they can and what they must to defend their homeland.

Bush takes pride in what a dangerous maniac he is, but that is all the recognition he will ever get for his bloody, (self-)destructive reign. How can anyone respect someone who is not only stupid and ignorant but also stubbornly attached to both?

Posted by: beetle on January 26, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

So what's Plan B?

Planning is for pussies.

Posted by: Condi Rice on January 26, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Again;
Why weren't we doing this 3 years ago.

Over 650,000 Iraqi civilians are now dead because of Bush's war-hard-on. Far too little. Far too late.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 26, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Question: Is the Patriot (sp?) missle system deployed to the ME for the purpose of shooting down this launch?

Posted by: DILBERT DOGBERT on January 26, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Q: what's the difference between the meaning of the word "Escalation" and the meaning of the word "Augmentation"?

A: no difference. Augmentation sounds nicer, because it makes one think of the large and firm breasts of porn stars.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 26, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why wouldn't military action sever thousand year old ties of tradition between Iranian and Iraqi Shi'a?

Posted by: Boronx on January 26, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"What's plan B?"

To rip off Atrios:
There is no plan B.
This has been simple answers to simple questions.

Posted by: raff on January 26, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

What's Plan B?

Armageddon.

The complete annihilation of life on Earth will play well to Bush's base, thus guaranteeing a Republican victory should life ever evolve on this rock again.

Posted by: Derelict on January 26, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

So we're fighting Iranian agents, the Sadrist militia, and Sunni insurgents. Is there anyone in Iraq we're actually FOR?

"The Iranians respond to the international community only when they are under pressure, not when they are feeling strong," one official said.

Of course, they wouldn't be feeling strong if we hadn't put them in a position of strength in the first place. Basically, we're trying to take back the aces we already dealt them. This doesn't put them in a position of weakness -- at best, it returns them to the status quo.

Posted by: Royko on January 26, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK
If Bush continues to ignore the advice of those who want to save him and/or save the country, it is likely that the Iranians will become more "confident." Confident of what? Confident that they are doing what they can and what they must to defend their homeland.

For understanding of what that means and to what lengths Iran is prepared to go when they are defending their homeland, the Iraq-Iran of the 1980s is instructive.

Iran is not going to be bullied, and if Bush pushes this beyond posturing and threats, our Iraq nightmare will be magnified many times.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

,So we're fighting Iranian agents, the Sadrist militia, and Sunni insurgents. Is there anyone in Iraq we're actually FOR?

Exxon Mobil and a coupla neo-cons with expansionist fantasies.

Posted by: eh on January 26, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Advocates of the new policy...said that only direct and aggressive efforts can shatter Iran's growing influence.

Does this remind anyone else of "the only thing those wogs understand is force"?

And how's that been working out so far?

Posted by: RT on January 26, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

As always, Plan B is to stick with Plan A.

Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
Question: Is the Patriot (sp?) missle system deployed to the ME for the purpose of shooting down this launch?

The Patriot's range is, I believe, too limited for that to be likely. More likely, they are being deployed because the US is planning to get more aggressive with Iran and expects that there is a fair chance of Iranian ballistic missiles being fired more directly at US and/or allied targets in response.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

And Al, if you are real, you are a pitiable tool.

Augment that.

Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless. It virtually never causes anyone to back down, but it's timeless nonetheless

Huh! That's how wars are won.

This "twisted logic" worked for us in WW2. It worked for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in Vietnam. And, if liberals have their way, it will work for the insurgents, Iranis, and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 26, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

So what's Plan B?

Do what Congress tells them to do.

Other than that, they probably have a collection of Plan Bs.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Al: Pelosi should mind her own business. She's a member of the legislative branch, not the executive. Her job is to pass laws. The president decides how those laws are enforced.

Minor modification here: Pelosi's job is to pass laws, but also oversight as to how those laws are carried out. The Constitution requires that the executive branch ensure that the laws be "faithfully" executed. The Congress can for sure impeach Bush for direct violation of the text of the law(s) that it passes.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

LATimes, Jan. 23, 2006:

“Evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq’s troubles is limited. U.S. troops have found mortars and antitank mines with Iranian markings dated 2006,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “But there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found.

H/t to No Quarters:

Since late August, British commandos in the deserts of far southeastern Iraq have been testing one of the most serious charges leveled by the United States against Iran: that Iran is secretly supplying weapons, parts, funding and training for attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq. . . . . There's just one thing.
"I suspect there's nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to prove it."
Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.
"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.
There's a diff between intel and evidence as we very well know (Saddam's WMDs). Have we not learned anything since 2003? Apparently not.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 26, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

will as many suckers fall for "iran is helping the insurgents" as fell for "iraq has WMDSs"? probably, those moolahs are so scary, just like AL QAEDA!

Posted by: benjoya on January 26, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, Iran has the second-largest oil reserves in the world.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 26, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK
Saudi princes pay guides to help them hunt down US soldiers in Iraq so that they can take their dog tags home as trophies. Like the response after 9/11 to occupy Iraq, Bush reacts by making war against Iran.

[offensive content on this post has been deleted]

Deleting posts because they are out of bounds is sensible. Selective editing that changes the tone and meaning (especially given that there is no reason to consider what was deleted was any more offensive than what was left, only offensive to different people) suggests that the moderation here is getting a bit heavy-handed, intrusive, and arbitrary.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

This Iranian announcement is almost certainly inspired by the Chinese anti-satellite launch.

If they can simply dump a load of nails, or self-destruct it, in the orbit of a US satellite they could completely wreck it.

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

King Shrub has challenged his Council to come up with a better idea for reassembling Humpty Dumpty if they don't like his plans. Resentment grows over suspicions the King unnecessarily pushed Humpty off the wall. There is also growing alarm over the King's plan to spend 1/2 trillion dollars on a "Humpty Reconstruction Machine" and an expanded palace guard to repel anyone interfering while dealing with the broken egg man.
"Look, I'm the decider and I've decided to fix Humpty. Humpty can be fixed. I'm the fixerator around here, make no mistake about it. If my detractors have a better way let them bring it forward!" exclaimed the King.
Experts in the field of putting broken eggs back together are dubious of any chances for a successful operation.
"We've tried convincing Shrub this is a lost cause but he's impervious to any common sense arguments. Look at this mess. Humpty is obviously dead. His shell has been looted of any worthwhile parts. We tried advising the King to leave Humpty alone but he just wouldn't listen. Yeah, he wasn't in very good shape before the fall but now, well, it really is a lost cause. I mean c'mon, you ever see ANYONE put a broken egg back together? Gimme a break!" intoned Lord Haggeell.
For now it appears citizens of the realm must submit to more lost treasure and depletion of the Palace Guard. How long before Humpty's pieces are swept into the dustbin of history? Only His Majesty's Counselor, Lord Chainy, knows for sure. He can't be reached for now, the palace spokesman explaining the Lord is in hiding making omelettes.

Posted by: steve duncan on January 26, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

“But there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found.”

Just like the total absence of evidence of WMD's was proof that Saddam possessed them, so the lack of any actual Iranian agents in Iraq is incontrovertible proof that they are there and already hiding so well we have no choice but to invade or attack or bom.

/wingnut logic

Posted by: eh on January 26, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Comment moderation for people who spoof handles or obsessively post demented screeds is all that's needed.

More than that threatens to defeat the whole purpose.

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Americans fear Iran's 'radical' religion, which has been cultivated with over twenty-five years of MSM propaganda. That is all that is required to send Iranians to hell. New Jerusalem shall not be defied nor denied the oil that YWH has promised them.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

This is guaranteed to bite us in the ass in the not too distant future.

Posted by: ET on January 26, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

[offensive content on this post has been deleted]

Wow. That is a first. Now I won't be able to journalize that entire post.

My hostility to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and the coming war with Iran is communicated by calling the national security policies of America for what I think they really mean: horrible death for tens of thousands of innocent civilians and the glory those deaths provide to many of my fellow Americans. Offense meant with deep conviction.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Can we somehow get somebody in the Office of the Vice President to conduct the thought-experiment in which we imagine how Cheney would react when put under pressure and backed into a corner by direct and aggressive efforts? Would he a) become willing to make a deal with those challenging him or b) reinforce his position, reflexively reject anything associated with those pressuring him and lash out viciously and vindictively, even if it meant jeopardizing his long-term interests? (For the weak on imagination, just look at his response to Joe Wilson.)

Why these buffoons in the White House think Iran will behave any differently from Dick Cheney would in their position is beyond me. They can't seriously believe they are going to force the Iranians to say "uncle" to the Great Satan.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Minor note, but AW+ST is pretty much the tabloid of the aviation industry. Most of their reporting is decent, but every once in a while, they go off the deep end. Iran is no doubt looking at satellite launch capability, but may nto be quite as far (or as accomplished) as AWST says.

Posted by: M H on January 26, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that the sovereign country of Iraq has no say in whether we cold-bloodedly kill foreign nationals on their soil. Remember, if the option was "catch and release", but is now "kill or capture", many who otherwise would have been caught will now be slain.

Posted by: Mudge on January 26, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

So, here's a hypothetical scenario....

An informer tells the U.S. forces that there is an Iranian agent at a given address. The U.S. forces decide to send a signal to Tehran and the locals who obviously know that the agent is operating from that location.

Our special forces move in and wait in ambush. When the Iranian comes out of his door, they plug him full of holes, like John Dillinger coming out of the Biograph Theater.

Except the poor guy isn't an Iranian and isn't John Dillinger. He's a Jordanian businessman.

Question for the court in this hypothetical case: would this be considered premeditated murder?

Posted by: Wapiti on January 26, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK
Minor note, but AW+ST is pretty much the tabloid of the aviation industry. Most of their reporting is decent, but every once in a while, they go off the deep end. Iran is no doubt looking at satellite launch capability, but may nto be quite as far (or as accomplished) as AWST says.

And the report itself cites unspecified US government agencies; so, yeah, taking it with a grain of salt is sensible. Of course, its a bad sign for US policy in any case; either its true, or US government agencies are hyping it to try to build support for another war based on invented intelligence.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I can no longer sit back and allow Iranian infiltration, Iranian indoctrination, Iranian subversion and the international Iranian conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids." - George W Bush

Posted by: Joe Bu on January 26, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK
Question for the court in this hypothetical case: would this be considered premeditated murder?

Well, war involves a lot of what would be legally "premeditated murder" in other circumstances under most legal regimes.

But absent either knowledge or reckless indifference to the fact that the target was a civilian noncombatant, an honest even if negligent misidentification in war is unlikely to be considered murder.

Not, I should emphasize, to say that it is desirable or moral.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

But Al, the United States continues to support a rogue state that is secretly proliferating nuclear weapons. This rogue state routinely commits state terrorism by using it's military against civilian populations. This rogue state spends more on it's military on a per capita basis than virtually any country on earth. This rogue state already has an arsenal of nuclear warheads and very likely VX nerve gas and other chemical weapons. This rogue state steals water and access to water from the rightful owners in the moisture-starved Middle East and keeps large numbers of innocent people penned up like cattle behind massive walls, cutting them off from gainful employment and access to fishing and farming.

That rogue state is called Israel.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 26, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless. It virtually never causes anyone to back down, but it's timeless nonetheless.

"virtually never"? Wasn't it the basis of what was called "MAD" back in the Cold War, and at least half of the basis of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Don't the NKOR artillery batteries zeroed in on Seoul receive serious consideration when people think about what to do with N. Korea? Wasn't the threat of massive escalation the reason that the U.S. did not intervene on the side of the Hungarians and Czechs in 1957 and 1968?

The twisted logic of escalaltion and threat perseveres because it is so frequently effective. The agony is that you can't tell in advance with perfect certainty when it will work and when it won't. The NVA invaded S. Viet Nam in 1975 when the threat of escalation from the U.S. had been removed by an act of Congress.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

brojo: Saudi princes pay guides to help them hunt down US soldiers in Iraq so that they can take their dog tags home as trophies. Like the response after 9/11 to occupy Iraq, Bush reacts by making war against Iran.

That's interesting. Would you like to share your sources with us?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, brojo, we all know that a saudi would never hurt an american.

Posted by: benjoya on January 26, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's like demanding we should come up with a better plan for how to grow wings and fly to Mars,

'Remember, the important point is we have to grow wings, if you can't do that the whole thing's a non-starter. So what's your plan, smart guy?'

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

If Saddam Hussein wouldn't back down for fear of appearing weak - even when he had no cards to play and nothing up his sleave...

and Israel won't back down,

And Lebanon Won't Back Down

AND BUSH WON'T BACK DOWN

All for fear of appearing weak

Why on earth would Ahmadeenajahd (sp) back down?

Our Middle East policy appears to be something dreamed up in the middle ages - the art of diplomacy was flung from the business end of a manganol.

Posted by: bcinaz on January 26, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

how Cheney would react when put under pressure and backed into a corner

The specimen will be heard to emit a low growling sound. Look for bared fangs, foaming at the mouth and raised claws.

Protective gear around the head and the groin is advised. An assistant ready with a dart gun would also be prudent.

Posted by: Foundation of Mud on January 26, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it the basis of what was called "MAD" back in the Cold War, and at least half of the basis of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

No.

MAD is the antithesis of an escalation of conventional (and in particular) ground forces. In fact to some extent it nullifies such a strategy.

Escalation precisely did not work in the Vietnam War. It merely increased the will of the enemy to fight and accrued more casualties on both sides. It was a complete and total failure and the '75 invasion by the NVA was an inevitable consequence of that failure.

The batteries aimed at North Korea are static defenses and in no way an "escalation." However, were the U.S. suddenly to mass additional troops on the NK border you could be assured that it would only lead to devastating conflict and in no way cause the NK regime to "back down" no more than troops on Iran's border will cause that regime it to back down.

Not that they are doing anything militarily that they could possibly back down from.

Iran is not a threat, but were it a threat the the solution world necessarily involve diplomatic engagement.

Threats of warfare rarely work to case an enemy to back down (with the notable exception of interaction between superpowers) and even when populations are defeated militarily they usually continue guerilla warfare, as Iraq has shown.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 26, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi support of the Sunni insurgency (patriotic resistance) is never mentioned in the press because it does not fit the propaganda themes of the capitalists who run America and initiate its wars. However, it is well understood that Saudi Arabia does not want Iraq to become a Shi'a dominated nation despite the Shi'a's majority demographic. Saudi Arabia, with US military assistance, desires to dominate the Middle East both politically and, more importantly to them, religiously, which is why I accuse them of providing assistance to the Sunni insurgency with both materiel and manpower. I doubt any Saudi prince has actually gone into Iraq to kill American soldiers, they are too cowardly. I do not doubt that they pay handsomely for dead US servicemen's dog tags or other proofs of their demise. In that way they are very much like American elitists. I recall the president displaying Saddam's hand gun after his capture, and I suspect many Saudi princes have similar trophies in their curio cabinets. I might also mention, with hesitation, that a commenter at Political Animal once boasted his brother in the US military was going to send him the head of a terrorist from Iraq, but that was before this forum had censorship.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

If Iraq came into three parts, what would the Shia and Sunni parts be called?

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo:

Well said. On one level of abstraction, a person could point out that most of the conflict in the Middle East emanates from the son of a wealthy Texas oilman (Bush) and his sidekick, a wealthy oil services company executive (Cheney), starting a war of revenge against the wealthy son of a Saudi sheik (bin Laden). Then, those wealthy Americans turn their sights on the wealthy dictator (Hussein) of an oil-rich country and start a new war, a little more than one decade after the wealthy Texas oilman's father (Bush Sr.) had started a war over there and fought the same wealthy dictator. All the while, the wealthiest oil power brokers (the Saudis) in the world play both ends against the middle.

Of course, these wars are always fought by the poor and lower middle class.

As Steve Earle has written, "Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man's war...."

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 26, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

from The Australian,

IRAN'S supreme leader is considering a change of policy on the country's nuclear program to defuse tension with the West, according to sources in Tehran.

Alarmed by mounting US pressure and UN sanctions, officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favour appointing a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities.

The move would be a snub to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose threats to destroy Israel have isolated Iran and left it facing an economic downturn.

Senior Tehran sources said the impetus for a policy switch was coming from Ayatollah Khamenei, who has ultimate power over Iran's foreign policy, security and armed forces. Ayatollah Khamenei is said to believe that Washington's aim is not only to halt Iran's nuclear program but to overthrow the regime.

He considers the national interest is being undermined by the inflammatory rhetoric of an inexperienced president.

Under proposals being debated, a group made up of the permanent five members of the UN security council, plus Germany or a nuclear power such as India, would oversee Iran's nuclear program. . . .

He was due to appear before parliament last night to present his annual budget. But the poor showing of his allies in December's local elections has emboldened his parliamentary critics.

In a sign that his power is waning, Iranian MPs have criticised Mr Ahmadinejad for his handling of the nuclear negotiations and the economic crisis.

Top economist Sa'id Leylaz said: "The future of the nation has never been this dark, both economically and politically."

Iranians face rocketing prices for food and housing and rising unemployment, estimated at 30 per cent. "Ahmadinejad is under extreme pressures from his own supporters to change policies," Mr Leylaz said. . . .

Sources in Tehran said Mr Ahmadinejad could be vulnerable, as Ayatollah Khamenei has signalled his displeasure and has the power to dismiss him.

Ayatollah Khamenei rarely speaks in public, but the Islamic Republic, a newspaper he owns, launched a strong attack on Mr Ahmadinejad's "personalisation" of the nuclear issue.

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The most brutal mass-murderer in Iraq.

This is the guy who came up with idea of using a power drill on people.

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: What's Plan B?

The trouble is, Plan A knows when you're thinking about Plan B, and Plan A gets insecure and pouty, and starts flirting with disaster, teasing you with glimpses of failure. Sometimes Plan A goes too far, and the next thing you know, Plan A is found dead with a needle in its arm.

If you'd just had enough faith in Plan A to forgo having a Plan B, and been careful to build up Plan A's self-esteem with applause and happy faces, everything would have worked out fine.

Posted by: cowalker on January 26, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

This is the guy who came up with idea of using a power drill on people.
Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on. Credit where it's due. You *know* he stole the idea from Negroponte.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 26, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless. It virtually never causes anyone to back down, but it's timeless nonetheless

Exliberal: Huh! That's how wars are won. This "twisted logic" worked for us in WW2. . .

Actually we didn’t make many empty threats in WWII, and we didn’t augment failure with piecemeal escalation. We generally applied military force adequate to the task per a well developed plan, with contingency planning up to and including worst case. None of this applies to the way W. fights wars. I hope W. and Condi start thinking about Plan B soon, as odds are their plan A won’t work. Then again, given their record of incompetence, their plan B probably wouldn’t work either.

Posted by: fafner1 on January 26, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't this be Plan A the second time through the alphabet?

Posted by: fivewhistle on January 26, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Exliberal,

If this were WWII we'd be done by now.

Imagine that - our boys would be home kissing the nurses in Times Square. We'd have the GI bill and cheap affordable college and housing. We'd have the baby boom coming. We'd be looking forward to opening up the space frontier. Every week or two we'd hear about a new scientific breakthrough that would make our lives easier. We'd be talking about the 4-day work week.

Seriously.

-sniffle-

My God what happened to us?

Posted by: Tripp on January 26, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

fafner1,

Of course in WWII we didn't have a large group of detractors limiting what our military could or could not do, i.e. Dresden. In addition, we decimated the population in all theaters of that war. That is how you win wars. Period. Eliminate your enemy until he/she can no longer fight. Period. Keep firing until you are out of bullets. Period. But what ever will the world think of us?

Posted by: WFIGUY on January 26, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

WFIGUY,

Wow. What military academy did you attend? Did you ever learn the difference between 'necessary' and 'sufficient?'

Posted by: Tripp on January 26, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

In addition, we decimated the population in all theaters of that war. That is how you win wars. Period.

Eliminate your enemy until he/she can no longer fight. Period.

Keep firing until you are out of bullets. Period.

I know Saddam was sending U-boats up the Hudson and all, but wasn't the idea to SAVE the Iraqi people? Question Mark.

Posted by: fivewhistle on January 26, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Dresden was destroyed before Germany surrendered. If the US had fire bombed Munich after Germany's unconditional surrender (W. Bush was not president then), perhaps the Germans would have been a little more resistant to the US occupation and a little less willing to accept our limited suzerainty. There is no limited US suzerainty in Iraq and we should not expect any in Iran either. Both the Iraqis and the Iranians know what happened to Fallujah after the US successfully occupied Iraq, even if the righteous American warrior-citizens do not.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/26/world/middleeast/26iraq.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

After the argument, they backed Maliki's plan. According to Iraq the Model, they backed it unanimously.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Marler, that's a great non-sequitur, but...

After the argument, they backed Maliki's plan. According to Iraq the Model, they backed it unanimously.

Well, when the superpower-backed leader starts threatening to arrest dissenters, it's not surprising that the votes are unanimous.

Of course, that's not necessarily the same as unanimous backing.


Also, for future reference if you do this:

See <a href= "http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/26/world/middleeast/26iraq.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin">here</a>.

You get:

See here.

And get cleaner posts and functional links.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse: MAD is the antithesis of an escalation of conventional (and in particular) ground forces.

Who first restricted this to ground forces? In the Viet Nam war bombing was called "escalation", as was even more bombing. The aircraft carriers are not there to launch a ground escalation. Or do you claim that they are.

A better word for MAD and the NKOR artillery might be "retaliation". I would claim some overlap between the concepts. I would put MAD and the NKOR artillery in the region of overlap.

brojo: Saudi support of the Sunni insurgency (patriotic resistance) is never mentioned in the press because it does not fit the propaganda themes of the capitalists who run America and initiate its wars. ... I doubt any Saudi prince has actually gone into Iraq to kill American soldiers, they are too cowardly.

Saudi support for the Sunni isurgency is frequently mentioned in the press. I am glad that you backed off the claim that Saudi princes pay guides to lead them into Iraq to kill Americans for trophies.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

One problem with this more agressive attitude to Iranian operatives in Iraq is that there are most likely American and British operatives in Iran. If America has killed a few Iranians how can it complain when Iran returns the complement.

Posted by: blowback on January 26, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Still, I asserted that Saudi princes pay to have American soldiers killed and some type of trophy of their death returned in kind.

I recall some political cartoons from the Viet Nam Occupation era showing US generals holding dead Vietnamese babies up by their feet like trophy kills. That may or may not be happening with Saudi princes and US soldiers in Iraq, but that does not mean the Saudi princes do not desire these types of trophies, nor does it mean US generals are not still doing the same thing to the Iraqis that their counterparts in Viet Nam did. War brings out the very worst in humans. I am not an exception, which is why I ascribe the very worst war atrocities I can imagine to my fellow citizens. I apologize if the atrocities I conjure are not sufficiently inhuman to make everyone repudiate war and its consequences.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

"The most brutal mass-murderer in Iraq."

cd, you really shouldn't talk about our president that way. At least not out loud.

Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. What military academy did you attend? Did you ever learn the difference between 'necessary' and 'sufficient?'
Posted by: Tripp

Most likely, none. That post was from someone who equates war with Rambo movies and Soldier of Fortune magazines.

Posted by: cyntax on January 26, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I had a conversation with my father last weekend and he made similar remarks as WFIGUY, even bringing up the lack of Germany's resistance to occupation because of the total destruction of their country, hinting that was what was required in Iraq. I had to stifle myself from accusing him of mass murder, which is not something I used to do with my folks, because my dad has had a stroke recently caused by heart fibrillations, and he cannot take the stress of having his militant Chauvinism and trust in our mendacious politicians exposed. I think Political Animal may have a similar problem. I love both, so I will have to adapt.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize if the atrocities I conjure are not sufficiently inhuman to make everyone repudiate war and its consequences.
Posted by: Brojo

Naw, I think your conjured atrocities have plenty of histrionics, thanks.

On the other hand I find both your logic and rhetoric less than persuasive:

I recall some political cartoons from the Viet Nam Occupation era showing US generals holding dead Vietnamese babies up... That may or may not be happening with ... US soldiers in Iraq, but that does not mean ...US generals are not still doing the same thing to the Iraqis that their counterparts in Viet Nam did.

You remember some political cartoons from the Viet Nam era and take this as proof that something happened exactly as depicted?!! When you look at political cartoons today do you think that Congress is full of elephants and donkeys?

I think you may be letting your strongly held views operate more like biases than is credible.

Posted by: cyntax on January 26, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is virtually always naive and clueless on military issues, but what could he possibly be thinking when he says the following:

"The twisted logic of escalation and threats is timeless. It virtually never causes anyone to back down . . ."

The history of the world is, of course, filled with people and countries backing down in the face of escalation and threats, from the playgrounds to the battlefields. Kevin should stay away from any attempt to assess military issues and stick to politics, where he is very good.

Posted by: Brian on January 26, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to thank cmdicely for alerting me to the moderation of my comments. I may not have noticed otherwise.

Thanks, cmdicely.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you cyntax. I was not using the cartoon as a proof. I was using it as a catalyst for the idea that war is used by some individuals to satisfy hideous behaviors. I doubt any US soldier treated a dead child this way in Viet Nam. Or in Iraq. Or that cannibalism is practiced. I still want to paint and screech and ascribe about war this way to communicate how horrible it is.

The general did not hold the baby up by its feet and treat it as a trophy. The general ordered someone to attack using any different kinds of weapons and babies were killed.

Babies were killed and I make their horrible deaths a trophy to our national glory. For both wars. It is a most odious trophy by design to throw in the faces of those who advocate this occupation. I am sorry you do not agree with me. I am a polemicist. Bush's speeches and his signals that Iran may be next have made me anxious to spread the word even more Death is coming. Impotenly, I do most of that work here. I read your commments and appreciate your perspective. I am sorry I do not consider your feelings when I start to vent. And everyone else's.

Posted by: Brojo on January 26, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I understand your frustration, Brojo, and I have been known to engage in a rant or two myself. But as I have gotten older I have learned to temper my remarks somewhat (although that might come as a surprise to many here) so as not to alienate those I want to convince.

I saw the remark before it vanished and I cringed. Sorry, but I thought it crossed a line. I think this war is a fucking obscenity, and I make it a point every single day to take some sort of action, be it a blog post, a correspondence with a member of my congressional delegation or engaging in dialogue. If I am not in class or holding office hours, I go pull up a chair by the recruitment table in the lobby of the CAC and hand out 10 Points to Ponder Before You Enlist to everyone who stops to talk to them.

And I probably alienate a few people in the process. Thems the breaks, as they say. I admire your passion, and you have a strong voice. I just think that tempered ever so slightly it might be more effective.

For what it's worth. But who the hell am I? Nobody special, that's for sure. Just a pissed off redhead with a broadband connection.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 26, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

brojo: I was using it as a catalyst for the idea that war is used by some individuals to satisfy hideous behaviors.

In my youth some of my family members wanted to nuke Red China. I don't think their desire has anything to do with our discussions of the Iraq War. Certainly, some of the insurgents and militias are using the war to satisfy hideous behaviors, but we can't tell whether that will increas or decrease if Americans leave. It has been claimed, though not in so many words, that the American invasion shifted most of that from the government of Iraq to the private sector, and from the Iraqi government to the Americans.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK
I think we should do our best to make Plan A work …Real Al at 12:03 PM
Only fools don't make contingency plans. The Bushistas didn't in Iraq before and now.
Huh! That's how wars are won…. ex-lax at 12:34 PM
The entire Vietnam war was fought on the basis of "gradual escalation." It failed. WWII was total war: there was no escalation after industry mobilized.
They probably have a collection of Plan Bs.MatthewRMarler at 12:34 PM
Keep the faith, baby; your skin isn't in danger
More than that threatens to defeat the whole purpose. cld at 12:55 PM
Agreed. Sometimes it's valuable to see exactly how demented and bigoted some people are and sometimes spoofers can be funny. What would we do without all our Al's?
The twisted logic of escalaltion and threat perseveres because it is so frequently effective. … MatthewRMarler at 1:44 PM |
That's nonsense. The NV was always in South Vietnam. Threats and actually escalation never had an effect. The Christmas bombing only toughened the will of the North to continue.
Saudi support for the Sunni isurgency is frequently mentioned in the press…. MatthewRMarler at 5:43 PM
Google that. Most references are to the statement that the Saudi's have promised to support Sunnis if the US leaves them unprotected.
The history of the world is..filled with …countries backing down in the face of escalation and threats…Brian at 8:19 PM
Generally, only before an actual attack. During an attack, humans will band together to face the aggressor. History is replete with examples of escalation being an utter failure and backfiring on the aggressor. CF., The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides. Posted by: Mike on January 26, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: And, if liberals have their way, it will work for the insurgents, Iranis, and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Well, Bush has had his way and it's worked in creating total chaos, sectarian violence, and death/injuries in the 100s of 1,000s, not to mention loss of credibility with our allies and in the rest of the world. Quite an accomplishment.

But frankly, I don't think you're qualified to speak on behalf of liberals who consequently have been joined by some Repubs, U.S. generals, and an overwhelming majority of all kinds of Americans in opposition to Bush's escalation of the war.

So your point is? To knock liberals every chance you get? Spread neocon ideology? That's what it looks like to me.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 27, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Babies were killed and I make their horrible deaths a trophy to our national glory. For both wars. It is a most odious trophy by design to throw in the faces of those who advocate this occupation. I am sorry you do not agree with me. I am a polemicist. Bush's speeches and his signals that Iran may be next have made me anxious to spread the word even more Death is coming. Impotenly, I do most of that work here. I read your commments and appreciate your perspective. I am sorry I do not consider your feelings when I start to vent. And everyone else's.
Posted by: Brojo

Babies were killed in Viet Nam, they're being killed now, and will be killed any time war is undertaken. That is part of what filled me with dread and sadness from the moment I heard we were going to war with Iraq. I was convinced at the time that nothing good could come of it, that there was no reason to go, and that we were making a terrible mistake (I suspect we are in agreement here).

I think you and I are as far apart in most of our views as two people can be and still be in the same camp. And I wouldn't try to change your views. My criticism was based on how you were presenting your views, and motivated by the observation that I felt your emotion was overshadowing your point. As I combat vet I have strong feelings about what happens in Iraq and am very unhappy about our country's actions there, but I am not pro-military, I am simply pro-soldier (this may be where you and I part ideological ways).

Please don't interpret what I've said as a desire to change your views or marginalize your voice; I simply think this time that you let your emotion overwhelm your message-- it can happen to all of us.

Posted by: cyntax on January 27, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

thanks

Posted by: Brojo on January 27, 2007 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

I can't speak for anyone else, Brojo, but I don't think you are a bad guy(?) - I just think with a little temperance you could have a much more effective voice, and that would decrease your frustration level. Not all spirals are negative.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 27, 2007 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of this brutal war, and how the administration lied to get into it--waynemadsenreport.com 1/26/07 following the two-week old Scooter Libby trial shows a handwritten note of Cheney's minion Cathie Martin listing options for the VP to follow
to discredit Joe and Valerie Wilson. The note looks like a slam-dunk proof of white house leaks.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 27, 2007 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK

Americans often criticize others for their barbarity towards the dead but yet again this is another example of American hypocrisy. In WW2 the "Greatest Generation" were not beyond removing gold teeth and other parts of dead Japanese as trophies or pissing in the mouths of dead Japanese (read With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B.Sledge) and in Vietnam there are numerous examples of American soldiers removing the ears, etc. of dead Vietnamese.

Posted by: blowback on January 27, 2007 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's escalation strategy MOTIVATES the insurgents to increase attacks.

Every Bush Iraq strategy INCREASES insurgent attacks.

The facts support this, and Democrats need to counter the Administrations's attacks with these simple statements over and over again.

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on January 27, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

consider wisely always on January 27, 2007 at 5:37 AM

If you're interested, here's a link where all the exhibits from the Libby trial are being posted as PDFs as they are introduced by prosecution and/or defense. Includes all handwritten notes, etc.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 27, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, the elderly John McCain continues his quest for the Presidency -- a quest that now seems to be proceeding backwards. Thanks apparently to the old man's stubborn support through the years for more and more troops for the Iraq meatgrinder, the American people are beginning to work their way through the media hype that has made McCain a leading contender to see for themselves what's behind the cardboard image.

Among the many in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere who know the old man for what he is -- not what the news channels say he is -- we have Sidney Blumenthal. Here's a revealing bit from his latest column:

"McCain's political colleagues, however, know another side of the action hero - a volatile man with a hair-trigger temper, who shouted at Senator Ted Kennedy on the Senate floor to "shut up", and called fellow Republican senators "shithead ... fucking jerk ... asshole". A few months ago, McCain suddenly rushed up to a friend of mine, a prominent Washington lawyer, at a social event, and threatened to beat him up because he represented a client McCain happened to dislike. Then, just as suddenly, profusely and tearfully, he apologised."

Note the tears.

John McCain not only is much too old but much, much too unstable for the job. Insiders know this; the voters apparently are only now beginning to know. Despite the relentless drumrolls for McCain on such as MSNBC, Fox and the like, the facts about the old man are surfacing -- and they aren't pretty.

It's high time that all Americans know the facts on this political dinosaur who pretty much has the Republican nomination for the presidency locked up at this stage, thanks to a fawning media and thanks to the Bush-Cheney organization who traded McCain support for their ticket in 2004 for support for his ticket in 2008. Do we want yet another four years of Bush-Cheney in the White House? If so, the elderly and unstable John McCain is the man. Bring 'em on!

Tearfully, indeed!

Posted by: Robert Dare on January 27, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate your kind words, Blue Girl, Red State. I know I have insulted those in the military often with my anti-war rhetoric. You help me understand people different than myself.

Posted by: Brojo on January 27, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

One of the many good reasons for not going to war is the damage it will cause our own soldiers. Not the physical and psychlogical damage that is done if they are victims, although that is bad enough.

No, worse yet is when they become the perpetrators and are forced to see the worst of human nature within themselves. Anyone who thinks "I would never do that" or "our soldiers are different" is a fool.

This is one of the many risks our soldiers face and we better have a damn well good reason before we make them face those risks.

Posted by: Tripp on January 27, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Apollo 13-- I saved it to favorites.
P.S. I've noticed your intuitive posts.

Posted by: consider wisely on January 27, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

If your crew had any common sense you would realize the real story in this blub is that Bush was playing catch and release with the axis of evil until now... I really wish we had two parties in this country so Bush could be held accountable.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 27, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well Brojo, those who suit up for the right reasons do so to protect your right to speak freely, whether it insults them or not. It's part of the bargain.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 27, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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