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Tilting at Windmills

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February 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MORE IRAN....Following up on my post last night about radicalizing Iran, Kim Murphy of the LA Times reports from Tehran today that hawkish rhetoric from the United States has been a godsend for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had been losing popularity until recently:

A large number of parliamentary deputies signed letters this year demanding answers from the president on the nuclear issue and the economy. But new, strong language from Washington starting in January that hinted at the possibility of a military strike quickly took the wind out of their sails.

Independent legislator Akbar Alami, who had circulated a letter, said he stopped getting signatures almost immediately.

If Iranians perceive a foreign threat, he said, "they don't pay attention anymore to differences, and the problem they have between parties and governments doesn't matter anymore."

To the contrary, said former central bank governor Mohammad Hossain Adeli, it mobilizes the Iranians and ratchets up the conflict.

"The foreign pressure is counterproductive and radicalizes the domestic environment," he said. "And then this radicalization results in more confrontational positions on the part of Iran."

Of course, it's more complicated than this, since in this case "foreign pressure" includes UN sanctions designed to bring Iran's nuclear program into compliance with international rules. Ahmadinejad may well be able to use the UN's actions to his benefit, but that doesn't mean anyone thinks the UN should back off. Quite the contrary.

But even so, that still doesn't make this kind of thing any less crazy:

"[George Bush's advisors] intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs....A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and Newsweek has learned that a third carrier will likely follow. Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. With Americans and Iranians jousting on the chaotic battleground of Iraq, the chances of a small incident's spiraling into a crisis are higher than they've been in years.

This is from Newsweek's cover story this week, "The Hidden War With Iran." I'm not sure it's really all that hidden, but the story itself is worth reading. It's a pretty good summary of what's happened on both sides to make war more likely over the past five years.

Kevin Drum 1:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

I read somewhere yesterday that even a decendent of the Shah warned Smirk not to attack Iran. For a reason many of us have been saying for months if not years. Attacking Iran would make the Iranian people coalesce around the mullahs.

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on February 11, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

And the only candidate I know of who seems to be working to stop this is Wesley Clark. Hillary and Edwards are actually supporting the side who wants to go to war in their statements.

Posted by: catherineD on February 11, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

If the American people allow this bastard of a president to launch another war without even trying to negotiate and use diplomatic means to settle whatever issues we might have with Iran, this country is truly on it's way into the dustbin of history.

Write or call your Congressperson today to end this idiotic, nonsensical march towards war and begin a march towards impeachment.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The clowns in this white house don't do strategery very well do they?

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on February 11, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, as Josh said General Odom's op-ed in the Post today is highly reccomended reading.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020901917_pf.html

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on February 11, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is how hardliners reproduce; they radicalize each others' populations with crazy rhetoric, provocative military action, etc. They create a positive feedback that solidifies their power. Peace is not in their interest.

Posted by: Cody on February 11, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

The angry left is much more adept at insults than at offering alternatives with respect to Iran. Since Jimminy Carter

LMAO. Nice satire there. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Since Jimminy Carter let Iran get away with the taking as hostages of Americans in 1979, the Iranian ayatollahs have been on a collision course with the US.

If what I remember of speed-time-distance problems from algebra is correct, if you're on a collision course with someone for over twenty-five years, and still haven't collided, you're not moving very fast.

And that's despite our shooting down one of their civilian airliners, and backing Iraq during their war with Iran.

Posted by: Conrad (Con) Sordino on February 11, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly this administration's rhetoric towards Iran has been emboldening Ahmadinejad and the anti-American factions there. Isn't the White House worried about emboldening any more?

Posted by: Jack on February 11, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and Cheney are completely mad. Question: has anyone seen any analysis of how much radiation would be released (and where it might travel) if we were to bomb their nuclear facilities?

Posted by: Ciccina on February 11, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

the right is much more adept in fighting wars what do you expect those same people thought Bagdad would be ours in two weeks, we would also be using the oil revenues to pay for the war let"s not forget it would take six months to stop the insurgants last the WMD"s so I don"t trust this adminstration (the facts tell the story)

Posted by: palmerz on February 11, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I try to be as civil as possible, but Bush, Cheney and his neoconservative gang really are gut-wretchingly stupid. Their actions are the direct opposite of the wise actions counseled in the Art of War and other ancient Taoist texts. You would think that America's executives, as gung-ho as they are about the Art of War and the Book of Five Rings, would reject this gang wholesale, but this just tells us where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the true priorities of C-class executives.

Posted by: Jimm on February 11, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

John Howard, PM of Australia, "If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats."


The perverse thing about this notion is that when the US pulls out and the shit totally hits the fan in Iraq it will be al-Qaeda-in-Iraq that will suffer because they don't have any indigenous tribal base. After a fine bloodbath the Iraqi factions will inevitably find common ground to stabilize themselves by destroying al-Qaeda-in-Iraq because it will be an enemy they can all agree on --more foreigners up to no good.

Posted by: cld on February 11, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing Republicans can do is attack.

Anything that's not attack they think is failure.

Posted by: cld on February 11, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

My initial thoughts after reading this post and its hyperlinks:

Why is more and more air time and column space being devoted to the trafficking of gossip -- official government issue and otherwise?

Why aren't the mainstream media treating this administration's breathless assertions about Iran with the same due level of skepticism currently reserved for the forthcoming coroner's reports on the unfortunately premature but hardly shocking demise of the fatally self-indulgent Anna Nicole Smith?

ever do in her lifetime that was so important, that word of her should pre-empt actual news about those issues truly relevant to people's collective well-being -- like, let's say, war and peace?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 11, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Anything that's not attack they think is failure.

That's not strictly true. Anything that's not 'attack' will make your dick fall off.

And that's the 'failure'.

Big, swinging dicks. Masters of the universe. Snapping nuclear-capable towels at the asses of anyone unpopular.

Posted by: Conrad (Con) Sordino on February 11, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon moi -- what did Ms. Smith ever do in her lifetime that was so important, that word of her should pre-empt actual news about those issues truly relevant to people's collective well-being -- like, let's say, war and peace?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, You are not too quick are you?

You see, radicalizing Iran is the objective, not an unintended consequence of Bush's lame foreign policy. In Bush/Cheney world, everyone wins if we go to war with Iran - big oil, Israel, Christian fundamentalists, military industry cronies, right wing politicians, etc.

What could be better?

Posted by: jman_nyc on February 11, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

mhr writes:

The angry left is much more adept at insults than at offering alternatives with respect to Iran...
Besides "negotiating" with Ahmadinejad, what do you propose? Is his having an atom bomb OK with you?"

The question is, besides invading Iran, a country with a population more than double that of Iraq, and unleashing a civil war there, and most certainly have insurgent groups link up with those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and creating more misery for people in the middle east, what do you propose? If Iran actually develops a nuclear weapon(and they don't now - just like Saddam didn't have it either), worldwide opinion would coalesce around American leadership if it acted rationally and responsibly, similar to what Bush 1 did, in terms of building a true coalition in a crisis situation. We've seen what going at it alone looks like - I don't think anyone wants a repeat of Iraq. Sending carrier groups is not the way to go about it, even though I think Bush is just saber-rattling. What we should do is seriously listen to what opposition groups in Iran are saying, rationally gauge their chances, continue building coalitions with other countries to pressure Iran through other channels, and if Iran actually does make a weapon, we will have a built-in alliance to do whatever it's necessary to deal with that situation. But what you don't do is pull the rug under Iranian opposition groups and issue empty rhetoric and saber rattle.

Posted by: Andy on February 11, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

And Bushie is offering evidence that nobody cares about....

Los Angeles Times - 25 minutes ago
By Tina Susman, Times Staff Writer. Baghdad -- US defense and intelligence officials today rolled out what they said was solid evidence that Iran was providing bombs to target US and Iraqi troops.

And to Bush, American sez, "so what, stupid?"

Is this supposed to motivate Americans to let Bush attack Iraq? Because it won't!

What did Bush expect getting rid of Saddam and those imaginary WMD, then sit on his duff and allow complete instability in Irag, while pretending everything in Iraq was just peachy, so that a surge now is too little, too late.

I guess this leaves Bush with the same old "mushroom cloud" scenario all over again. Bush blew all his 9/11 magic dust on wasted time spend back at the ranch. All those Western oil contractor dreams are on verge of being nothing more than smoke and ash, a big oil pipe dream to bankruptcy.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 11, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Question: has anyone seen any analysis of how much radiation would be released (and where it might travel) if we were to bomb their nuclear facilities?

Well, I think we can be fairly certain that it won't go west.

On a related note, I see all this press about the NPT wrt Iran, but no mention that it is a NPT violation for a nuclear power to use nukes against a non-nuclear country, and of course the US will have to use bunker busting nukes if they are really intent on getting at Iran's nuclear program.

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Happy Valentine’s Day

ON TO IRAN!!!

Posted by: SomeOtherDude on February 11, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

>" Bush, Cheney and his neoconservative gang really are gut-wretchingly stupid"

No, they are not. (Well, at least not Cheney). If things don't make sense it is because you don't understand their agenda. If you view their current actions in terms of their long term goals, then they are very predictable.

Want to understand?

Step 1) Read the PNAC Manifesto. Look at the names of the people who signed it.

Step 2) Watch the three part BBC series 'The Power of Nightmares' (See it via Google Video).

The neocons need to propagate fear to maintain their power. In short, Bush needs Ahmadinejad and Ahmadinejad needs Bush.

In the post above, jman_nyc has it pretty well figured out... ditto Cody.

Posted by: Buford on February 11, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

If Iranians perceive a foreign threat, he said, "they don't pay attention anymore to differences, and the problem they have between parties and governments doesn't matter anymore."

What did I tell ya, loose talk about attacking Iran shows that Bush (and puppet fingers Cheney) "emboldens the enemy" because certainly it's simply debate.

Bush is the one who is pushing the arms race in the Mideast.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 11, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

". . .hawkish rhetoric from the United States has been a godsend for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had been losing popularity until recently"

Kevin, that's fine by BushCo -- it increases the chances of armed confrontation.

Duh.

Posted by: Onomasticator on February 11, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

President Ahmadinejad's real views are summarized on this website: ahmadinejadquotes.blogspot.com

Posted by: Al on February 11, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad has continuously stated that Iran is America's enemy. We would be fools not to take him at his word.

Attack now while there is still some dissent in Iran. If we wait longer, the "moderate" Iranians will move their complete support behind Ahmadinejad. But if we do it now we can achieve victory and demonstrate the impotence of the democrats' appeasement strategy.

Posted by: Al on February 11, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
... in 1979, the Iranian ayatollahs have been on a collision course with the US. ... mhr at 2:48 PM
You just happen to leave out the overtures that Ronald Reagan made to your mullahs. Remember he sent Robert McFarland with a cake for them? Remember Iran Contra and how Reagan sold a thousand TOW missiles to your Mullahs? I can presume that you do not also remember that the Clinton administration was making diplomatic progress and that in 2003 Iran made a generous offer of diplomatic negotiations?

Did you know that Pakistan, a supporter of the Taliban and al Qaida, is building a new larger atomic reactor in order to make more nuclear weapons and that Bush is doing nothing to prevent them?

Frankly, RepubliConTarian foreign policy is not serious and not run by adults who have America's best interests at heart.

Posted by: Mike on February 11, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

yes, if we attack, they will all splinter. if we don't attack, they will all unite. christ, al. can you tie your own shoes?

Posted by: benjoya on February 11, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"[George Bush's advisors] intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs

This is why it is stupid for Nancy Pelosi to take impeachment off the table. Bush is seriously trying to pick a fight with Iran. So is Pelosi and lot of over do-nothing Dems justifiably going to be blamed for allowing Bush to do something really stupid?

Today's op-ed is right, Odem says this:

It is already too late to wait for some presidential candidate for 2008 to retrieve the situation. If Congress cannot act, it, too, will live in infamy.

Bush has already made a big mess in the Mideast, but now Bush is trying to make it even worse. Its time to start talking about impeaching of both Bush and Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 11, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and Cheney are completely mad. Question: has anyone seen any analysis of how much radiation would be released (and where it might travel) if we were to bomb their nuclear facilities?
--Ciccina

This animation from the Union of Concerned Scientists should answer your question.

Peace.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think they should bomb Iran. What's wrong with it bring radicalized? I think trying to change Iran's 'mind' is impossible so damaging it as much as possible to make it less of a threat is far more rational.

Iran will stall for nothing by the right to have a nuke - then they will ask for something more and half a dozen regimes will take the same steps.

Posted by: McA on February 11, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

Too bad the U.S. allowed Israel to proliferate WMDs without restraint. They now pose a huge threat to stability of the whole region. Have you heard of a place called Pakistan?

By the way, the Gospel reading at our church today was the Beatitudes. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers", not blessed are the warmakers. If you were a Christian, you might understand.

Peace again,

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

When Clinton backed off of Iran a bit in the late 1990's, the Iranians experienced more freedom, not less. Attacking Iran would be like burning the Reichstag.

Posted by: Reality Man on February 11, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

our favorite malaysian warmonger with an inferiority complex is back!!! how you been, McA? no matter how many arabs you kill, or how many arabs you save, they still see you as the worthless 3rd world wog that you seem willing to play.

between you and american hawk, I'm wondering if we've outsourced all of the ignorant dumbfuck PA posters to foreign countries. ...

I'm not sure about mhr, though ... despite his relentless unamericanism, he sounds stupid enough to have been at least born here.

Posted by: Nads on February 11, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Since Jimminy Carter let Iran get away with the taking as hostages of Americans in 1979, the Iranian ayatollahs have been on a collision course with the US.

Yeah. Persian history started in November of 1979.

Moron.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 11, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

mhr:

Actually, I know conservatives like to live in a tidy little dream world, but Reagan didn’t end the Cold War – he prolonged it. You might want to do a little reading about Team B, as well. However, I also know conservatives are very fact-averse.

Iran has indicated they will abide by international rules regarding nuclear testing. Why aren’t we talking to them? Do you conservatives have any answers to that or is it simply this ridiculous mantra of “they (the Iranians) can’t be reasoned with” or “they are fanatics”? Because the same thing can be said of the Bush regime.

Have a peaceful and blessed Sunday,

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

a state led by a pro-Holocaust president

LMAO. So now the Iranian Pres is no longer a holocaust denier but instead pro-holocaust?

I wish you wingnuts would get your talking points straight.

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe McA is back. Oh well, here we go again...

And I can think well enough to argue a state led by a pro-Holocaust president having nuclear weapons has nothing to do with 'peace'.

"Pro-holocaust"? Got evidence for that, or are you one of those nincompoops who cannot distinguish between the world and your diseased imagination?

Also, are you an advocate of invading sovereign nations and killing their people on the basis of mere words? If you don't like what someone says do you take it as your God given right to kill them?

Posted by: obscure on February 11, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I don't doubt Cheney (and thus Bush) wants war with Iran, but I don't seem them doing anything for another year. They're not in a hurry to launch or end a war as they were with the Iraq war (timed around 2004 election). Seems with people as cowardly as Bush and Cheney they wouldn't want to get into the meat of war with Iran until mid/late 2008 when the media will be distracted to a large degree with the election and if the results turn out bad they can pass it off to the next President to fix.

Posted by: Fred F. on February 11, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says: "...but that doesn't mean anyone thinks the UN should back off. Quite the contrary."

Really? Count me in as a 'someone' who thinks the UN should back off until solid proof of an Iranian nuclear program exists. I don't like UN sanctions OR US bombardment of Iranian enrichment sites based on flimsy to nonexistent proof. In the last couple days Iran has put cameras El Baradei visited the Nantanz enrichment facility this weekend and said that Iran is considering the IAEA 'additional protocol' which allows unannounced IAEA spot inspections of any nuclear enrichment facilities in Iran. Iran has also recently installed a camera in the underground Nantanz facility which allows constant IAEA surveillance.

I agree with whoever above said that Israel's totally secretive and until recently unconfirmed nuclear arsenal, having been constructed with nary a word from the UN, complicates any rational or nonhypocritical thinking about any country's obligations to the NPT.

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

A joke about the weather in Portland, Oregon is: If you can see Mount Hood from downtown, it's about to rain. If you can't see Mount Hood, then it's already raining.

A similar rule applies to the Bush bashing bunch. They believe: If things are going badly, Bush did something wrong. If things are going well, then Bush is about to do something wrong.

In this case, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been losing popularity. To simple-minded folks, this good news would signify that Bush's Iran policy is working.

But, to the true believers, it's inconceivable that a Bush policy could be working. For them, the positive news simply proves that Bush is about to do something horrible. Then they can all feel smug and superior to poor Bush for the horrible thing they imagine he's about to do.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 11, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Good story, plus the magazine is widely read in the mainstream by tons of people.
Most profoundly, the state department official speaking on NPR cites Article 51 of the UN Charter, justifying war following self-defense of a nation.
But Newsweek presents how the US itself is being provocative with Iran. Enticing the first strike.
It was gratifying that they very clearly presented the doubts about the administration's own credibility now, given the track record of the past 6 years. Plus mentioning in detail that US intelligence agencies have disagreements among themselves as to whether Iran is involved in the things Bushco claimed. "Bush's dire warnings"

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 11, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Racist
Posted by: Mcaristotle

sorry ... 3rd wourld sellouts who keep wanting to be white annoy me. you're like an asian house negro looking to please his master. you need to de-colonialize your mind.

Posted by: Nads on February 11, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ignore my post above. I could have sworn I heard that cameras were recently installed at Nantanz. Now I can't find any news story that confirms that. Very weird.

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I like this El Baradei quote:

El-Baradei made the comments on January 25 at a panel discussion about nuclear proliferation at the Davos conference. He said his agency is unaware of any undeclared Iranian nuclear facility aimed at building nuclear weapons.

"Nobody knows [if] Iran has an undeclared nuclear facility," he continued. "So, [Iran has] the knowledge [to build a nuclear weapon]. Sure, they have the knowledge. Are you going to bomb the knowledge? That's not even a practical proposition."

Radio Free Europe

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK
In this case, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been losing popularity.... But, to the true believers, it's inconceivable that a Bush policy could be working. For them, the positive news simply proves that Bush is about to do something horrible.

ex-liberal,

You poor, simple-minded slug. What is your evidence that Ahmadinejad's popularity has anything at all to do with Bush's "policy?"

People who are concerned that Bush is about to "do something horrible" tend to be--imagine this!--people who read the newspaper and try to keep up with the words and deeds of their government. Incredibly, people who think that an attack on Iran would be an absolute disaster are concerned about Bush doing exactly that. And the reason for their concern is not the low popularity of the Iranian leader, but the belligerent actions of our belligerent administration, which seems to have no particular talent at statecraft other than insult and mayhem.

Don't you have enough sense to see what a boob you are? (He asks hopefully)

Posted by: obscure on February 11, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal your tongue in ass description of how people perceive Bush and company's actions is accurate.All I can say is look at his record.It's little wonder that sane people think that way. As my old pappy use to say"If it quacks it's a duck".

Posted by: gandalf on February 11, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

"...The neocons need to propagate fear to maintain their power. In short, Bush needs Ahmadinejad and Ahmadinejad needs Bush..."
Posted by: Buford on February 11, 2007 at 4:06 PM

Interesting. That's very similar to that Ram Dass statement about "Police create hippies.. hippies create police"

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 11, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

This is off-topic, but the article is so full of wisdom and clarity that I couldn't help thinking of my poor, uneducated friends here at PA. In the WaPo today retired Lt. Gen. Willam Odom writes:

"The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat."

Read the whole thing. It is extremely well reasoned and well written.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020901917_pf.html

Posted by: obscure on February 11, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with whoever above said that Israel's totally secretive and until recently unconfirmed nuclear arsenal, having been constructed with nary a word from the UN, complicates any rational or nonhypocritical thinking about any country's obligations to the NPT.

If Iran did not want to adhere to the NPT, then they didn't have to ratify it. Having ratified it, they got assistance from IAEA on their civilian nuclear power program.

On a related note, I see all this press about the NPT wrt Iran, but no mention that it is a NPT violation for a nuclear power to use nukes against a non-nuclear country, and of course the US will have to use bunker busting nukes if they are really intent on getting at Iran's nuclear program.

The US can do considerable damage by attacking the power plants that supply electricity to the Iranian nuclear facilities, and by attacking the ventilation systems of the underground facilities.

I want Congress to pass a resolution prohibiting an attack against Iran, but the US has options for effective use of military power short of using nuclear weapons.

Posted by: spider on February 11, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

obscure:

I agree with you about the General Odom article. It is excellent. For the lazy or browser-challenged, the link is here.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator cites this excellent article.

George F. Kennan agrees. The former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of "containment" of the same country, asserts that "the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish." He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. "Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union." . . .

Understandably, some Russians might be reluctant to admit that they were forced to make revolutionary changes by their arch enemy, to admit that they lost the Cold War. However, on this question we don't have to rely on the opinion of any individual, Russian or American. We merely have to look at the historical facts. From the late 1940s to around the mid-1960s, it was an American policy objective to instigate the downfall of the Soviet government as well as several Eastern European regimes. Many hundreds of Russian exiles were organized, trained and equipped by the CIA, then sneaked back into their homeland to set up espionage rings, to stir up armed political struggle, and to carry out acts of assassination and sabotage, such as derailing trains, wrecking bridges, damaging arms factories and power plants, and so on.

The Soviet government, which captured many of these men, was of course fully aware of who was behind all this. Compared to this policy, that of the Reagan administration could be categorized as one of virtual capitulation.

Yet what were the fruits of this ultra-tough anti-communist policy? Repeated serious confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union in Berlin, Cuba and elsewhere, the Soviet interventions into Hungary and Czechoslovakia, creation of the Warsaw Pact (in direct reaction to NATO), no glasnost, no perestroika, only pervasive suspicion, cynicism and hostility on both sides.

It turned out that the Russians were human after all -- they responded to toughness with toughness. And the corollary: there was for many years a close correlation between the amicability of US-Soviet relations and the number of Jews allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. Softness produced softness. If there's anyone to attribute the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to, both the beneficial ones and those questionable, it is of course Mikhail Gorbachev and the activists he inspired.

It should be remembered that Reagan was in office for over four years before Gorbachev came to power, and Thatcher for six years, but in that period of time nothing of any significance in the way of Soviet reform took place despite Reagan's and Thatcher's unremitting malice toward the communist state.

Posted by: cld on February 11, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Obscure, Odom may be correct. He knows a great deal more than I do. OTOH General Petraeus, another wise man, evidently thinks victory is still possible.

I don't have the expertise to decide which of these experts is right. I do know that in past wars countries have sometimes been in situations that appeared hopeless and yet succeeded. One good thing is that American troop morale is high. The reverse was true in Vietnam.

ISTM that Bush is going to devote his last 2 years in office persevering in Iraq. If he has gotten nowhere, I expect a Democratic landslide in 2008, followed by a rapid withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 11, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "To simple-minded folks, this good news would signify that Bush's Iran policy is working."

And I daresay, who better to tell us this good news than those most simple-minded amongst us who continue to insist -- all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding -- that Bush's policies are working?

Moron.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 11, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus, current darling of the media, will look just as bad as Gen. Abizaid, the arabic-speaking former darling does now, in 2 years. They know what the boss wants to hear.

Iran is not all sweetness and light, but there is much more democracy there than in Saudi Arabia. Please remember that the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the top users of the death penalty, after China which kills more prisoners (and takes their organs) than all other countries combined. No, I don’t want attacks on Iran or China. I think that Bush and Ahmadinejad have much in common. We should not have invaded Iraq. To attack another country now would be compounding a grievous error. Yes, Iran has meddled in Iraq, but the Sunnis get no help from Iran. The US has meddled in Iraq and has much more blood on its hands than do the Iranians.

Does Congress have the guts to say no attacking Iran when Bush brings out his trained intelligence dogs to report on the evil ways of the Iranians? Of the Presidential candidates, only Hagel, Kucinich and Ron Paul have the guts to tell it like it is. Hagel is the only Senator who doesn’t switch his message depending upon his audience.


Posted by: maracucho on February 11, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Mcaristotle

sorry ... 3rd wourld sellouts who keep wanting to be white annoy me. you're like an asian house negro looking to please his master. you need to de-colonialize your mind.

Ah, McMisbegotten's back.

But he's not Malay, Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian and has always sort of side-stepped this question. I read him more as a pasty-faced piece of Brit colonial detritus born and raised in SE Asia (also with some time in the Gulf if I remember). His arguments are as limp as the empire that spawned him. One of those sad Brit piners (really hard to find these days) that look to the States as a surrogate for their own lost powers.

Cut to the chase: Beyond military considerations, Iran would be a disaster beyond disaters. It would be the loss of America's preeminent position in the world. And no Dem could ever put together the shattered pieces of America's image.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 11, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

This info is from Navy.mil, last updated 4/04 so it is somewhat dated. If the GW Bush carrier group is deployed, the US has 13 carrier groups, total, with 12 more obsolete carriers in m mothballs. Of those, 5 are deployed in the Pacific operational area. Of those 5, 1 is already stationed in the Persian Gulf, 1 will arrive within a month, & another is on its way. All groups have nuclear capability, hundreds of fighter aircraft, & cruiser, destroyer, & submarine support. Bombers based in the US can be there, non stop, within 1 or 2 days. The Iranians know all this.

Bush says we will not attack Iran. Sounds like horse hockey to me. Why else would 3/5 of our Pacific Fleet be sent there? A huge threat to force Iran's capitulation? With our history in the region, I strongly doubt it. Our President simply does not do gunboat diplomacy; he fires the guns.

I don't know where you guys get your info about the Iranian population rallying around the Mullahs, because that is in direct conflict with all reports coming out of Iran. But if Bush starts dropping bombs, they will, and so will the rest of the Shia nations. Panic causes unity, just as we united behind Bush after 9/11.

Another reality check. We are out of ground troops, & even with a draft re-instated, it would take at least a year to rally enough for an invasion. Meanwhile, what few supporters we have left in the world will abandon us, including Pakistan , who have nukes of their own.

Bush, Cheney, & the rest of their wrecking crew have to go, & go now. This madness has to stop.

Posted by: bob in fla on February 11, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, polls of military personnel show morale is low.

I also failed to read anything about how Bush somehow ordered the president of Iran to hold a Holocaust denial conference that made Iranians look foolish while telling him not to pursue his promised populist economic policies of giving oil wealth back to the Iranian people. Somehow Bush has perfected the art of mind control!

Posted by: Reality Man on February 12, 2007 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

ex-thinker: "But, to the true believers, it's inconceivable that a Bush policy could be working."

Talk about True Believers. Give an example of a Bush policy that has ever worked? You are going on faith alone, my friend, and your god shows no sign of believing in you.

Posted by: Kenji on February 12, 2007 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the terrorists within and without the Bushist regime have US locked in their mutual ghastly emrace. YANK FREE!

Posted by: Vic Anderson on February 12, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: top choice on February 13, 2007 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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