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Tilting at Windmills

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June 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BRZEZINSKI ON IRAN....Matt's at a foreign policy conference today and reports back:

Zbigniew Brzezinski at the conference says the US and Israel should try to put their demands for Iranian disarmament in the context of support for a regional nuclear-free zone (i.e., Israeli nuclear disarmament). After all, he says, if we're supposed to believe that Israel's nuclear arsenal isn't a sufficient deterrent to ensure Israeli security in the face of Iran's nuclear program, then it obviously isn't a very valuable asset.

This sounds smart to me.

Am I missing something here? This doesn't sound smart. It sounds absurd.

Here's how it would go: The U.S. makes the regional disarmament pitch. The Iranian government says "You bet! Let's have a conference!" The Israelis either refuse outright or else join the conference but decline to negotiate their nuclear status in any serious way. After all, they're no more willing to give up their nuclear arms than we are. After a decent interval Iran emerges and sadly declares that they gave it their best shot but the Zionist entity is unwilling to commit to a nuclear-free Middle East. That being the case, why shouldn't they have nuclear weapons too?

I'm not ready to bomb Tehran, but I also don't see the point in handing Iran an almost guaranteed diplomatic triumph. What is Brzezinski smoking?

Kevin Drum 3:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

I think we should take Mr. Brzezinski's proposal as seriously as Doctor Swift's proposal regarding mechanisms of dealing with Irish famines.

Posted by: eponymous coward on June 12, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think what Brzezhinsky is doing is putting pressure on Israel and the neocons in the context of their war agitation against Iran. "You say we must attack Iran becasue they are re-activating their nuclear program? Okay, let's talk about the regional nuclear programs which are a destabilizing force in the region."

Posted by: Barrymann on June 12, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

It's one of those 'world peace' cigars. Lotta smoke, couple of mirrors.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 12, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's not reading closely. Yglesias writes "the US and Israel should try to put their demands for Iranian disarmament in the context of support for a regional nuclear-free zone".

Brzynski is saying that Israel needs make the proposal too. Which means that it will never happen.

Posted by: Al on June 12, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

He isn't smoking anything, merely trying to show that Israel's nukes are a sufficient deterrent to Iran. Your scenario does nothing to undermine this conclusion.

Do you honestly think that Israel's nukes are not a sufficient deterrent to Iran? The only reason to bomb Iran or take military action is if you truly believe that a nuclear Iran would be crazy enough to use them on Israel or anyone else. They wouldn't be. Give U.S. policies, any country in the Middle East not pursuing nukes is being negligent in its own security. Witness North Korea, they were insanely smart to get nukes.

In any event, the comments are merely to illustrate that threatening Iran requires the illogical requirement that the person arguing for military action must truly believe that Israel cannot defend itself. A silly starting point, and an idea that serioius people reject.

Posted by: abject funk on June 12, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Can Kevin explain why exactly he thinks that *only* Israel in the entire Mid East should be allowed to have nukes, and that America should be prepared to go to war to maintain that monopoly?

Maybe Kevin actually thinks that Israel should be the only country in the *world* allowed to have nukes, and that America, Russia, China, etc. should all be voluntarily or forcibly disarmed?

Seems to me that Kevin is either pretty dense or is pretending to be...

Posted by: RKU on June 12, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

He is merely pointing out that those who claim Israel cannot defend itself against a nuclear Iran are being dishonset.

No one believes that. As a result, calls for military action are stupid hawkishness given that Israel can defend itself. This point is not undermined by Kevin's scenario. In short, this line of thinking just underscores how dumb it is to think bombs are the solution to every problem.

Posted by: abject funk on June 12, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, Arab leaders have been proposing a nuclear-free Middle East for years, and they do it almost exclusively as either a stalling tactic or as a way of scoring cute debating points against Israel. It's never for the serious purpose of helping along the peace process. They're actually surprisingly open about that.

For all I know, there might be a nuclear-free Middle East conference going on right now. It wouldn't surprise me.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 12, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

This is retarded, because this ENTIRE EXERCISE started when Iran insisted that Israel comply with nuclear inspections, and Israel refused.

The only upshot to that, would have been that Israel would have to come clean about its nuclear program. Israel wouldn't have been compelled to abandon its nuclear weapons. Just come clean. That's all Iran was asking.

But they refused to come clean.
(and the Western press refused to tell the real story)

So basically, Kevin, you're just afraid of Israel losing this regional pissing contest. Has nothing at all to do with security, or relative nuclear strength.

And you're willing to let Bush sacrifice more American soldiers, and taxpayer dollars to stick up for poor, beleaguered Israel.

Well, it will have something to do with security and relative strength, I suppose, when it becomes clear that we can no longer bully some of these regional powers (like Iran) - and these little diplomatic squabbles escalate into shooting wars. All because we don't want Israel to lose any "points".

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 12, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is surely correct that as a practical matter Israel will never negotiate away its nukes. So, he's correct that as a practical matter, Brzezinski's proposal would do nothing helpful, while providing a propaganda bonus for Iran.

A number of posters have raised a broader issue, which more-or-less amounts to the question of whether the US should treat Israel differently from other middle eastern countries. I think Israel should be treated differently, because

-- they are a long-term, staunch ally
-- they are a democracy with civil liberties for all citizens, even Arab and Islamic citizens.
-- they share our western values
-- they don't support terrorism, as Iran and Syria do
-- they share our commitment to fighting Islamic extremism.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 12, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, I hope this teaches you to quit linking to Yglesias, who anything but "smart."

I second OBF. It is about twenty years gone that we should have written off the whole region. We have never had anything nor will we ever having anything in common with anyone there, including Israel.

Posted by: JeffII on June 12, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Do you honestly think that Israel's nukes are not a sufficient deterrent to Iran? The only reason to bomb Iran or take military action is if you truly believe that a nuclear Iran would be crazy enough to use them on Israel or anyone else. They wouldn't be.

There's enough doubt in my mind (and it doesn't take much when you're talking about nukes) to make me worry. Israel isn't promising to wipe Iran from the Earth, while that's a staple of Iranian speeches. Israelis don't use suicide bomber tactics, while folks over in Iran's part of the world do, which suggests a relaxed standard for the importance of human life. Iran is run by the religious elite, and if you believe that they believe their own rhetoric about the 12th Imam it makes you wonder.

I think you overestimate the rationality of them, in short.

Posted by: anti-NUKE on June 12, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I always get nervous when someone opines
'Country X will never do anything like
Disaster Tactic Y,
because that would be SO dumb, and would be SO
bad for them, and their leaders are not that
stupid'

Barbara Tuchman wrote an excellent book,
'The March of Folly' that illustrates examples
of many 'Country X' es doing 'Disaster Tactic Y's,
and of course our own country has done quite
a few of blunders of late ...


So for us to take the chance
that EVEN if Iran were to
get nukes, they would never
-use them on Israel
-give them to somebody who would use them
on somebody (like us )
well, that seems like a chance I would like
to avoid taking.

However, if the tactic that is suggested to stop
iran from getting nukes is to bomb the crap
out of them, or worse, to pre-emptively NUKE
them, well, my bet is that would GUARANTEE that
iran would WMD us or israel a bit further on
down the road. Might take an extra decade or
so, but i think it would be inevitable.

Seems like a Damned if you do, damned if you dont
situation. Unless we could SOMEHOW talk iran
out of building these things.

But Israel will never relinquish them.


Posted by: rms on June 12, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think Israel should be treated differently, because
Posted by: ex-liberal on June 12, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Not that anyone gives a crap what you think; but sure, I'd really like to see these issues openly debated - let's see how long we can go before I get accused of anti-semitism?

-- they are a long-term, staunch ally

What does this even mean, specifically? Because I don't recall ONE SINGLE CASE where Israel was there, for the US or US interests, in the region. Exactly how many Israeli troops are there in Baghdad, at this moment, helping us to prop up "democracy" in Iraq?

Don't give me any crap about them not being "welcomed" - please. The US wasn't welcomed either. Either Israel is an ally, or they are not.

-- they are a democracy with civil liberties for all citizens, even Arab and Islamic citizens.

Yeah - except for those trapped in eternal limbo in the refugee camps in the occupied territories.

-- they share our western values

They do? Oh - YOUR definition of "Western Values" - which includes THEOCRACY, torture, extrajudicial detainment and punishment, etc.

-- they don't support terrorism, as Iran and Syria do

WTF - let's be honest about who supports terrorism. EVERYBODY does. But to be specific to Israel, how about a very recent example of the cluster-bombing of civilian areas in Southern Lebanon?

-- they share our commitment to fighting Islamic extremism.

What about Zionist extremism? Islamists aren't the only extremists out there. If they had a real commitment to fighting extremism, they'd have a solution by now, instead of only taking measures guaranteed to prolong the conflict indefinitely. (and I'd say, coddling Arafat and his ilk for so long falls into that category).

The extremists want to destroy the other side. The rest of the world just wants this conflict to be over so we can all live in peace, and not have to deal with "collateral damage" (like 9/11).

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 12, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't Israel's nuclear arsenal a valuable deterrant? Seems to me regardless of whether Iran or anyone else develops nuclear weapons in the region, they are much less likely to use those weapons for fear of Israeli retaliation. Am I missing something? I can't fathom any reason why Israel would give up their nukes.

Posted by: G Spot1 on June 12, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

What Iran wants is what the world will eventually get, symmetry in the nuclear arena.

Conservatives seem to miss the point. Although Bush has given great weight to arms control, for obvious reasons, he has just barely breached the subject of symmetry in arms control. He breifly made a forray into that subject, but was shot down by Israel, and everyone knows it.

Israels problem is two things: 1) Nuclear technology is increasingly available to enyone, without even the bother of the non-proliferation treaty. 2) As long as Israel balks at symmetry, then everyone with a access to nuclear weapons will be increasing angry at israel.

A self fulfilling prophecy with the Israelis the policy of allowing nukes to spread among its enemies with bad policy.

Posted by: Matt on June 12, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

From our cold dead hands, the Israelis would say.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08! on June 12, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

if you are young, the israelis are going to be defeated in your lifetime by an enemy they can't nuke: demographics. they would be smart to be negotiating a solution that can last now, while they are still in a position of strength, but I guess that would be smoking.

Posted by: supersaurus on June 12, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

This is the joint symposium at the Capitol Hill Hyatt that is being presented by the Center for American Progress and (my personal favorite think tank) The Century Foundation.

I came very close to flying to DC on short notice for this shindig after I downloaded the program. The lecture I can't wait to see the white paper on is:

Energy, the Environment, and National Security
This panel will explore the nexus between energy scarcity, the environment, and national security. Key questions the panel will explore include: How will energy scarcity and climate change impact U.S. national security? How may a changing climate affect political stability and increase demands on U.S. diplomacy and military forces? What steps must the United States take to confront energy scarcity and climate change? How should the United States deal with competition for energy among emerging large energy consumers like India and China? What are the prospects for getting India and China to agree to a cap on greenhouse gas emissions? What are the prospects for a successor international agreement to the Kyoto Protocol? Are the domestic and international constituencies for enforceable measures strong enough to produce action that will meet the targets that scientists suggest are necessary to avoid the most dramatic impacts of climate change?

My inner wonk is giddy with anticipation.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

The true problem with Iran having nuclear weapons is that it will lead to the entire middle east having nuclear weapons. This total lack of control is a threat to Iran as well as to Israel. Israeli nukes are of less value if Lebanon has them and Iran's are of less value if Iraq and Egypt have them. Not to mention the dangers of theft and loss of control.

So although I don't agree with Zbig on this, it is neither absurd nor an absolute non-starter.

Posted by: Bryan C Kennedy on June 12, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Predictions:
1) If a dem is elected in Nov 2008, sometime
after the election some combination of Bush and
Israel attack Iran's nuke facilities with
conventional weapons, leaving the HUGEST mess
for the next prez to deal with. Disasters then
ensue in iraq, syria, lebanon- persian gulf oil
flow is stopped, economies shatter ......

OR
2) Same as 1, but the attach is made with nukes.
same stuff consequences as 1, plus a series of
WMD attacks start happening in the US and israel.
begining of the end of US as world power.

OR
3) No attack on iran, and the world begins
another period similar to the cold war, iran
and israel ( and the west? ) must learn that
neither can dominate each other, and each can
destroy each other, which would also destroy
themselves. Like the cold war, but without
the proxy wars? or maybe proxy wars only by
countries that are nuke free?


Posted by: rms on June 12, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

...demographics.... they would be smart to be negotiating a solution that can last now, while they are still in a position of strength, but I guess that would be smoking.
Posted by: supersaurus on June 12, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I've been saying for years, they need to force the Palestinians to take the most effective birth control known to man:
College Education for Women.

That would solve their little demographics problem, and likely, the religious extremism problem as well.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 12, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

osama_been_forgotten,
Okay, I understand you hate Isreal. However, it is silly to argue that they should have helped us out by sending troops to Iraq. Do I have to explain why?


Posted by: DR on June 12, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

rms: I would add a fourth option...

Putin goes nowhere next March, citing the dangers of the American maniac as pretext and we enter into your scenario number three, but facing down an empowered and unencumbered Russia in addition to Iran. Russia, remember, is testing new MERV nukes and making some mighty unfriendly noises. They have oil China wants...And China is holding massive American debt and the entire balance of power in the Pacific is about to change as China develops a high-seas, blue-water navy. I see lots of things to panic about, and Iran ain't even one of 'em.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, O_B_F, the Palestinians are the most literate, most highly educated Arab population in the world, women and men. The cease fire that just fell apart was initially agreed upon so students could take their finals.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

However, it is silly to argue that they should have helped us out by sending troops to Iraq. Do I have to explain why?
Posted by: DR on June 12, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's silly.

But it's also SILLY to argue that they're an important ally in the region, when that's just not the case - by ANY definition of the word "ally".

Hell - did they even let us stage troops and materiel there for the invasion? 1991? Hell no.

The only thing we (as a nation) get out of Israel as an ally, is their schennanigans allow congress to launder money via military aid to Israel back to US defense contractors. Can we at least be honest about that?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 12, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Israel's nuclear arsenal is not a sufficient deterrent to ensure Israeli dominance of the Middle East in the face of Iran's nuclear program. That is why the US and Israel want to stop Iran's nuclear arms development, if it exists. Stopping Iran's nuclear armament has nothing to do with Israeli security and everything to do with Israeli future aggression.

Posted by: Brojo on June 12, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

osama_been_forgotten has a point about Israel coming clean. You have to look at things from an Arab perspective, not just a U.S. or Israeli, if you want to put things into context.

Israel gets special treatment in so many ways: no pressure to come clean about their nuclear capability; consistent unquestioned aid and equipment (including some military) from the United States; no real pressure to accept UN inspectors for anything (Israel always says no, including recently on the Lebanese border); unexplained exemption from having to abide by UN resolutions. Those come to my tired mind, there are no doubt other examples.

There is nothing fair, and never has been, about the way the international community, especially the United States, has treated Israel in relation to her neighbors. Every Arab is the world knows it and resents it... a lot.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 12, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen-

What are your sources for the information that China is getting a blue water navy? I think that we should give Iran nukes rather than allow China to develop a real navy. That would be real bad and real fast. Not challenging, just curious- I think that the far East is a much more tricky and dangerous neighborhood than the mid-East.

Posted by: Out on Bond on June 12, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I have been screaming about it at my place for a while. Follow the links in this post.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not ready to bomb Tehran, but I also don't see the point in handing Iran an almost guaranteed diplomatic triumph.

It appears to me that Israel, at least the Olmert Administration (Kadima party) and the Likudniks, will have to suffer a series of diplomatic defeats if progress is to be made toward a free and viable Palestinian state. They just won’t give and they are in the wrong.

Hopefully, one day, the large number of Israelis who want peace more than they want to confiscate land, will prevail.

Peace without handing obvious diplomatic “wins” to Iran would be preferable. But things can backfire if you proceed foolishly. Who do you think is the winner of the Iraq war? A lot of us, including Juan Cole, think Iran is the walk-off winner.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 12, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Little ole Jim: Word. The war between Iran and Iraq wasn't won - it stopped. There was no winner until we invaded, toppled the tyrant and gave the Iranians the victory.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

He's smoking out hypocrisy.

Posted by: Mardg on June 12, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Global,
"blue water Navy"? Pardon the ignorance as a non-military, landlocked sort but what does this mean? Simply, a Navy that can travel in deep water? Isn't blue water, high seas Navy redundant? Just asking.

Posted by: ckelly on June 12, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I can be rightly accused of a redundancy abuse there. Sorry about that. What a blue-water navy means is one that can project nationalist power beyond the home shores. A modern, high-seas navy with aircraft carriers and submarines is the third pillar of a superpower. China has the economic clout and they have nukes. All they are missing is the navy, and they are well on their way to having it. And the entire balance of power in the south seas shipping lanes is going to shift dramatically.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 12, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ckelly:

A "blue water" navy is capable of operating independently outside of coastal waters. A "blue water" navy typically has large fleet units (destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers, fleet oilers, etc.)

By contrast, a "brown water" navy operates only in its own coastal waters, and typically has fleet units no larger than frigates, corvettes, patrol boats).

I believe that the US should insist upon Israel joining the NPT regime, which would put it on par with Iran. In this area, Israel gets special treatment which it does not now deserve.

Posted by: Tom S on June 12, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Last I knew there had never been any actual evidence provided that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. We assume that is what they are up to. They have complied with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and have allowed more invasive inspections than reqiured under the treaty. India, Pakistan and Israel all have nuclear weapons and none are under the NPT. Now the U.S. is in Iraq with nuclear weapons. I don't blame them if they are looking for a little deterrance of their own.
Israel is not a signator to that treaty and should have no say in how it is enforced. The United States is currently pursuing new nuclear weapons systems that violate the Treaty, so really, what kind of moral authority are we? And if Israel should not have to "come clean" about their nuclear weapons, why should anyone else?

Posted by: apishapa on June 12, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Global (and Tom S).
I learned something today at Political Animal (beyond the usual that ex-lib is a hopeless tool)

Posted by: ckelly on June 12, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"What is Brzezinski smoking?"

The same stuff he was smoking in the '70's?

Posted by: Brian on June 12, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, you're against publicizing the status quo. Maybe if we pretend it isn't there, it'll go away.

Posted by: Martin Gale on June 12, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

The stock market was down on fears of bombing Iran and thoughts were that Lieberman carried the administration's water on this one.

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 12, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why is so absurd to ask Israel to play by the same rules we are asking the rest of the Middle East (read, Arabs) to play by? The United States unqualified support for and arming of Israel is what has turned the Middle East into the vast shithole that it is today.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 12, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why is so absurd to ask Israel to play by the same rules we are asking the rest of the Middle East (read, Arabs) to play by? The United States unqualified support for and arming of Israel is what has turned the Middle East into the vast shithole that it is today. Posted by: The Conservative Deflator

Don't you know that automatically makes you an anti-Semite. (Or is it anti-dentite?)

Posted by: JeffII on June 12, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK
Am I missing something here? This doesn't sound smart. It sounds absurd.

It seems very clever.


Here's how it would go: The U.S. makes the regional disarmament pitch. The Iranian government says "You bet! Let's have a conference!" The Israelis either refuse outright or else join the conference but decline to negotiate their nuclear status in any serious way.

Yeah, look, stopping Iran from getting nukes is not going to happen. They aren't any more dangerous than Pakistan, so there isn't much reason to be concerned that it happened. Making it Israel's fault rather than the US's that it fails is in our interest.

Not so much in Israel's, but our government doesn't (or, at least, oughtn't) work for them, anyhow.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 12, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I love Brzezinski to death, but on this issue I also caugh him arguing recently for Israel to be let into NATO. (IIRC in that other magazine, the prospect) This as some sort of security guarantee in exchange for peace moves. IIRC that included getting rid of its 200 odd nukes.

Now one can be forgiven for not knowing how Europeans feel about the idea of having Georgia in the NATO. You know, that small country where Russia can turn its "peacekeeping" forces in not one but two breakaway regions into a soviet size army with a grudge with US forces nearby at any moment.

I trust anyone who argues "Osettia" just looks a lot better as a part of Georgia, I really do. But sending European kids of to fight Russia over this tiny bit of land kinda sounds unpopular with the 18-26 voter demographic, or the older voters, or the ones who after Iraq feel like having solid strategic goals in wars.... But judging by the opinion pages its not even a welcome idea among really really pro NATO EU generals.

But there has to be something wrong with the thermostat in hell before a European government will promise to have European kids in mandatory military service "defend" Israel by leveling large parts of Lebanon whenever Israel is attacked/provoked, again, like say by a hizbullah kidnapping, to name something of the top of my head.

Seriously, is this supposed to be the "realist" side of the debate?

Posted by: asdf on June 12, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK
The war between Iran and Iraq wasn't won - it stopped.

When one party launches an unprovoked war of aggression with precise territorial objectives, fails to acheive those objectives, and accepts in practice what amounts to a return to, at least in territorial terms, essentially the status quo ante bellum, that party has lost the war, unmistakably.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 12, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK
I'm not ready to bomb Tehran, but I also don't see the point in handing Iran an almost guaranteed diplomatic triumph.

What is wrong with Iran getting a diplomatic triumph?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 12, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Two points:

1) Israel's nukes are not a defense to Iran giving nukes to Hamas/Hezbollah suicide bombers who smuggle them into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Iran would proclaim its innocence, the world and the UN would declare gravely that the nasty Jooos must not jump to conclusions and blah blah blah. Indeed, isn't it clear that in those circumstances, the left wing of the Democratic Party would be demonstrating in the streets, demanding the the US prevent Israel from retaliating against poor, misunderstood Iran.

2) The difference between Israel having nukes and Iran having nukes is that Israel has never threatened any of its neighbors (except in self-defense) and Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Uh duh.

Posted by: DBL on June 12, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

DBL writes: The difference between Israel having nukes and Iran having nukes is that Israel has never threatened any of its neighbors (except in self-defense)

Like the song says Don't know much about history. DBL could start by learning something about the 1956 Suez War.

Posted by: Laney on June 12, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK
.... Israel has never threatened any of its neighbors (except in self-defense) and Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. ... DBL at 7:40 PM
In 1967, Israel launched a sneak attack; in 2006, Israel attacked Lebanon which it has done before. Iran is not threatening to wipe Israel off the map. That is propaganda put out by MEMRI. Check Juan Cole for accurate translations.
Israelis don't use suicide bomber tactics....anti-NUKE at 3:52 PM
With all the power in the Middle East, they don't have to. They use helicopters, tanks and rockets. In their recent attack on Lebanon, they killed over 1200 Lebanese, mostly women and children with cluster bombs

ex-lax at 3:41 PM-- they are a long-term, staunch ally
Allies don't spy on allies like Pollard and don't bomb allies ships like the USS Liberty
ex-lax at 3:41 PM-- they are a democracy with civil liberties for all citizens, even Arab and Islamic citizens
It is well known that Arab residents of Israel are second class citizens and that the state of Israel will not permit the return of those Arabs expelled in 1948.

Posted by: Mike on June 12, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

-- they are a long-term, staunch ally

Ask the surviviors of the USS Liberty. Ask the DOD about the damage done by Jonathan Pollard. Read about the firebombing of the US embassy in Egypt by Israeli agents. Find out why the Israelis were dancing and singing while filming the WTC towers go down. Investigate the 65 Israeli agents expelled shortly after the 9-11 attacks.

-- they are a democracy with civil liberties for all citizens, even Arab and Islamic citizens.

Except (of course)for the people living in the Bantus (racially segregated camps) from whom they took the land from at gunpoint. Just for kicks, try to immigrate and become an Israeli citizen if you're not a jew. If you're an Israeli Arab, try to buy some of the 90% of the land reserved for Jews. Democracy, equal treatment for citizens, ya sure.

-- they share our western values

Whatever those are... corruption? Endless war? Belief that 'western' culture is gods gift to the planet?

-- they don't support terrorism, as Iran and Syria do.

You don't need suicide bombers when you have F-16's to do the dirty work. Remember it's quite different if you toss a bomb onto a crowded street from an 20 million dollar airplane rather than a taxicab.

Menachim Begin - Terrorist bomber and mastermind of the Irgun, leading terror group of it's day. Later Israeli prime minister.

Then we have the 'Levi' (aka Stern Gang) another leading Mideast terror group. Israel recently honored them by issuing 'service ribbons' for ex-members.

23 of the 28 officially reported massacres in the 1948 war were committed by Zionist elements... with Deir Yassin being the most famous.

-- they share our commitment to fighting Islamic extremism.

Yup, so their own extremists can build another temple of their own and the third empire.

Should human civilization survive our current mess, the establishment of Israel will surely go down as the greatest injustice and folly of the 20th century. The sooner this can be corrected, the better for all the people on the planet, including the jews.


Posted by: Buford on June 12, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney has already insinuated that, if a nuclear weapon is exploded in an American city, the U.S. will retaliate against Iran. What other country are the neocons going to bomb? Iraq? Our soldiers are there. Afghanistan? Ditto, plus it is rubble now anyway. Congo? Wouldn't make any fucking sense, although bombing Iraq after 9-11 made equally little sense.

So, if you are Iranian, what do you have to lose by developing nukes? Think in poker terms - might as well double down if you are holding a pair of deuces.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 12, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it sad, Buford, that apart from a couple of you, all the posters are either Zionists or brain-washed fools, who actually know nothing but what they have read from the Zionist-supporting-and-owned US media.

Our Congress, as ever, both the last and this, the new one, are bought and sold by The Lobby (read Mearsheimer and Walt), which is why we invaded Iraq, and are now occupying it, and why we are being bull-shitted into attacking Iran. It is proxy war on behalf of Israel (Read "A Clean Break - a Strategic Plan for the Realm".)

Do any of you advocates for tossing nuclear weapons have any idea of sizes of territory and distances in the Near and Middle East? It seems to me you do not.

Israel has threatened to use its nuclear weapons, particularly in 1973 when it had been comprehensively defeated. It threatened to use them on Egypt unless the US stripped weapons from its NATO commitment, against its immutable Treaty obligations, and sent them to Israel.

Posted by: maunga on June 12, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal -- they (Israel) share our commitment to fighting Islamic extremism.

Oy vey! Aye, the Zionists and the Christianists to gamely lead the battle against the scourge of Islamic extremism... ex-liberal, can you see why this might just not quite work out in the way you perhaps envision?

(hint: this is a war that's got to be fought within the Islamic world; the best we can do is take measures to ensure we're not hit and help our secular allies where helping them doesn't actually maim them. This includes things like not creating situations where the Iranian leadership gets to play the nationalist card)

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 13, 2007 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack: (hint: this is a war that's got to be fought within the Islamic world; the best we can do is take measures to ensure we're not hit and help our secular allies where helping them doesn't actually maim them. This includes things like not creating situations where the Iranian leadership gets to play the nationalist card)

You might be right, snicker-snack. OTOH there's a school of thought that compares radical Islam to fascism. This comparison then observes that Hitler would not have been defeated if the allies had merely enouraged anti-fascist Germans, even though there were many brave anti-Hitler Germans. Hitler could only be defeated by an all-out, bloody war.

The argument then draws a parallel and says that moderate Muslims are not going to defeat radical Islam. It's going to take an all-out, bloody war conducted by the western nations.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 13, 2007 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

what are you drinking? what are you thinking? this is certainly one of Kevin Drum's most fatuous posts and that goes some. read your own post. you explain why Iran MUST develop a nuclear arsenal. why it will never negotiate that away. they have a stark choice: either kowtow to American demands of Iranian inferiority or risk American and Israeli threats and build nuclear parity. what would any country facing those choices do? in almost all cases they would back down. but Iran can respond devastatingly to American bases in the middle East, including but not limited to Iraq, block the straits of Hormuz and interrupt oil supplies, drive up astronomically the price of oil, attack Israel directly, and precipitate a much much wider war. forget air war. attacking Iran will precipitate an incredible land war. the ONLY way to negotiate a hold on Iranian nuclear development is to provide them with some energy production AND have concrete steps taken towards regional nuclear disarmament. I understand Israel not agreeing; but then clearly Iran will not agree.

Posted by: della Rovere on June 13, 2007 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Israel can handle the Middle East without the doomsday weapon. Why the nukes? Israel's 400 nukes are aimed at European cities, not Arab ones. That's the way Europeans see it. Although it is a bit paranoid, if you accept the assumption and follow the logic, you can see why Europeans see Israel as a threat to world peace. It is a good exercise, better than the circular logic of current US thinking.


Posted by: Bob M on June 13, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

"there's a school of thought that compares radical Islam to fascism"

Isn't that the school that recently lost it's certification under NCLB?

Keep cashing those Olmert checks, FAUX.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 13, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever Mr. B is smoking, you should try some. In my view, your belief in nuclear militarisim as a solution to the issues and conflicts of the day appears as a black hole in your credibility as well as your heart.

Leaving the ad hominum, how are we to achieve peace with the belief that superior organized violence can solve our problems?

It will, in the end, bring ruin and horrible calamity.

If we are to bring peace to the region and to the world, we must lead the world in peace, not war.

We do this with superior technology that provides food, energy, and hope for the world, not cluster bombs and bunker busters.

This is the only practical scenario.

Posted by: oZ on June 13, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I hope you are reading the various comments here. I find them quite illuminating. Who would have ever thought that the left would have become so fanatically anti-Jewish and anti-Israel? Is this the new face of the Democratic Party?

Posted by: DBL on June 13, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I have to correct one error that I made above, which someone pointed out. It is true that the 1956 Suez War was an unprovoked attack on Egypt by Great Britain and Israel. Other than that, every other war between Israel and the Arab states was in self-defense. In 1967, Nasser blockaded the Straights of Tiran (which itself was an act of war) and mobilized his army on Israel's borders. This past summer, Israel responded to Hezbollah attacks across the Lebanese/Israel border -- attacks that the Government of Lebanon did nothing to prevent or punish. I cannot fathom how anyone could describe these as other than acts of self defense by Israel - unless you start from the premise, as so many of you do, that Israel has no right to exist at all so any act that it takes in self defense is ipso fact an act of aggression. Well, tough. Israel is not going away and is not going to commit national suicide for your benefit.

Posted by: DBL on June 13, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

DBL is once again conflating anti-Zionist views with, perceived by him/her, anti-Jewish sentiments - Rubbish - Same tripe spewed by Victor Davis Hanson and David Brooks about anyone saying "neo-con" being an anti-semite.

I do not wish to see this nation committing national suicide for the Zionists benefit.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 13, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

In the movie The Pianist, there was a scene of a road crossing that demonstrated the Nazi treatment of Warsaw Jews. That scenario is being reenacted many times daily by Israelis and Palestinians. The Israelis play the Nazis and the Palestinians play the Jews. It is the Israelis who most resemble German Fascists in the Middle East and the US should stop subsidizing the state sponsored terrorism of Israel. The US should also treat every American who is enlisted in the IDF and/or a settler in an occupied territory as a Johhn Walker Lindh.

Posted by: Brojo on June 13, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

. . . anti-Jewish and anti-Israel? Is this the new face of the Democratic Party? Posted by: DBL

One can certainly be anti-Israel (my position) without being a an anti-Semite. They don't go hand-in-hand.

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