Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SERIOUS....I don't know Anne-Marie Slaughter. Here's what I mean by this: not just that I've never met her, but that I don't even know much of anything about her views, what she's written, or, when you get right down to it, what kind of foreign policy she prefers. What little I've read of hers has always seemed so mushy and broad that it defeats any attempt to take away a sharp point.

What I do know is that she's the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She's famously moderate and, equally famously, practically the fairy godmother of foreign policy bipartisanship. She's the kind of person who gets mentioned as a possible secretary of state in a Democratic administration. Serious™ players don't come much more serious. With that in mind, here's what she had to say today over at TPM Cafe:

Here is my nightmare. The Cheneyites succeed in creating a situation in which Bush does decide to bomb Iran. Iran retaliates, as they openly threaten to do, with terrorist attacks against us on U.S. soil. That tilts the election. I can imagine a Karl Rove political calculation that would buttress a Cheney-Addington national security calculation, probably with Eliot Abrams' support.

Let me get this straight. Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the most accomodating, serious, centrist, liberal foreign policy players on the planet, has just said she thinks it's entirely possible that the Bush administration will launch a foreign war next year in order to help the Republican Party win an election.

Apparently, being serious™ isn't what it used to be.

UPDATE: OK, I can see that I was way too clever here for my own good. Sorry about that. Obviously one interpretation of this post is that I think Anne-Marie Slaughter is nuts. I don't. What I meant to point out is that the Bush administration is now so widely viewed as unhinged and malignant that even traditionally serious™ people like Anne-Marie Slaughter think nothing of suggesting that they might well start a war with Iran for purely partisan gain. I really can't think of any past administration that would have provoked this kind of reaction from someone of AMS's stature. Journalists should take note.

Kevin Drum 1:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (99)

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Comments

Yeah, but then she goes on to say that the preferred solution is for Democrats to preemptively surrender to the Lieberman-McCain axis in Congress. So she keeps her Serious(tm) credentials.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on August 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Launching a war to win an election? The Republicans haven't done that in the past several months.

Posted by: reino on August 8, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Let me get this straight. Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the most accomodating, serious, centrist, liberal foreign policy players on the planet, has just said that she thinks it's entirely possible that the Bush administration will launch a foreign war next year in order to help the Republican Party win an election.

Apparently, being serious™ isn't what it used to be."


Good lord, man! Where have you been these last 4+ years? They launched a war to win a midterm, why wouldn't they do the same now? Logistics? Delicate sensibilities? Reality!? Fuck!

Posted by: cazart on August 8, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans used to be rational conservatives. Now, not so much.

Posted by: freelunch on August 8, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

And she thinks that Bush launching a preemptive war against Iran is gonna help the Republicans chances? It seems she doesn't think this through. If Bush launches a preemptive war against Iran and a lot of the top brass of the military resign in protest, then what? Does she not think that everyone besides the neo-cons are gonna be pretty skeptical? Might a bombing of Iran finally get impeachment talk started? And while I am not a conspiracy theory kind of guy, if Bush were to bomb Iran in say September of next year, why not just impose martial law?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on August 8, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Most. Ironic. Post. Ever.

It has to be.

If not, Kevin has succumbed to Broderism.

Posted by: RP on August 8, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Good God, Kevin, do you think the Repugs have ever intended on having a fair election in 2008? Surely they have no intention of letting the Imperial Presidency ever descend into Democratic hands again - not with the kind of power Chimpy now wields.

Posted by: Susan on August 8, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

No general is going to resign - some Majors maybe, but people who make General have generally lost their backbone along the way - that's why they made general.

What we might hope for is a grass roots rebellion. The news media will ramp up the patriotic flag waving one more time. But if Rove miscalculates and launches the war too early, the popular backlash could begin before the election.

The Democrats should be barking about this now and passing prohibitions on spending money in Iran, but they will never show that backbone.

Posted by: JohnN on August 8, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is NOT surprised that Bush may launch a war for political reasons. He IS surprised that serious moderates are openly discussing this as a possibility (as opposed to just us wacky left blog types).

Posted by: none on August 8, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Iran retaliates, as they openly threaten to do, with terrorist attacks against us on U.S. soil.

All Iran has to do is cut off the Straits, and chaos will ensue in the US.
They don't have to come near the "homeland".

Posted by: Mooser on August 8, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I know on the surface it's laughable. But if we had known ahead of time about some of the other stunts they've pulled the last 6 years, we might have laughed those off, too.

These guys have too much invested in their goals for a permanent Republican majority to allow it to die now. It also helps that they have absolute certainty that their ideology is the right one.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on August 8, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Her comments don't explicitly say that the bombing of Iraq would be in order to influence the election. What is implicit is that Cheney would want to bomb because he believes the next President wouldn't have the balls to do it. The influence on the election is simply one of the consequences of the bombing (a two-fer for the Cheneyites of course). If it is clear a Dem will win in 2008 you can be pretty sure that Bush/Cheney will take action against Iran before they leave office.

Posted by: Jim on August 8, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

You mean wag the dog? Republicans wrote that story in the '90s, and that was when they attacked Clinton for going after Osama bin Laden, who even then was a known threat. It goes to show to what lengths they will go to score political points.

The obvious counterpart to this Iran gambit, though, isn't mentioned: state of emergency suspending elections.

**ech**

What? You dare scoff at the divine right of kings?

Posted by: media girl on August 8, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I really can't think of any past administration that would have provoked this kind of reaction from someone of AMS's stature. Journalists should take note.

Nixon.

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Baby steps.

It will be another 50 years before we can all agree that Cheney/Rumsfeld shot down flight 93 and covered it up for maximum PR.

Posted by: toast on August 8, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney would field dress a nun live on Fox News Sunday if his and Rove's political calculations predicted doing it would win the '08 Prez election.

Posted by: steve duncan on August 8, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

'journalists should take note'

hahahahahaha -- only if she bares cleavage, dear kevin..

Posted by: linda on August 8, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

> The influence on the election is simply one
> of the consequences of the bombing (a two-fer
> for the Cheneyites of course)

No, I think she also implies that Rove would support Cheney so that the bombing and its consequences could be used in the 2008 elections.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on August 8, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we'll know as soon as next month.

Everybody knows you don't launch new products in August.

It will be interesting to see if the Iran rhetoric starts ramping up this fall...

Posted by: kis on August 8, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't aware of Iran "openly threatening terrorist attacks on U.S. soil". Reference?

Posted by: Hob on August 8, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The best defense against that kind of cynical Republican extremism is for our political leaders to go on the attack. Call the Republican extremists out. Call bullshit when they lie. Stand up to the bullies. Start doing it now. And do it effectively. Be scrupulously honest and accurate in your charges. But when you have the goods on them, beat the shit out of them with it. We need to shame the bastards.

Not doing this for the last 6 years has come at a terrible price. These tactics won't work immediately. People want to see a long train of abuses before they will react against the extremists. By constantly giving the Republicans a pass, we fail to create the foundation for later success.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on August 8, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

You were right the first time Kevin.

All this really shows us is how un-serious the designation of "traditionally serious™ people" is. This kind of paranoid claptrap belongs on left-leaning blogs and their comments sections. Shame (though not a surprise) to see it echoed by the dean of the Wilson school.

Posted by: Hacksaw on August 8, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What if we had a War Party and a Peace Party to choose from?

I have never been impressed by any candidate who must pound his or her chest and intone belligerently a "get tough" stance. Too ape-like for my taste. There is always someone on the "other side" who will respond.

The Iranian President only remains in power if he promises to "protect" his people from "external threats". Otherwise, he is very unpopular.

Tomorrow marks the day a Democratic Party President decided to incinerate 70,000 Civilians in Nagasaki.

Maybe Bush and Cheney aspire to be Trumanesque.

Posted by: deejaayss on August 8, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush launches a preemptive war against Iran and a lot of the top brass of the military resign in protest, then what?

Then that creates a lot of fresh opening to promote even more "Christian Embasy" members to even higher ranks.

Yeah, I'm sure they're really worried about having to replace all those principled resignations with True Believers in search of their prized Armageddon.

Come on now, this isn't rocket science, and they're not even being subtle about their goals.

Posted by: Thumb on August 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

What I meant to point out is that the Bush administration is now so widely viewed as unhinged and malignant that even traditionally serious™ people like Anne-Marie Slaughter think nothing of suggesting that they might well start a war with Iran for purely partisan gain.

Well, according to AMS they wouldn't be starting a war for "purely partisan gain." AMS actually says that Rove would be pushing the political angle, but that Cheney/Addington/Abrams would be pushing it for other reasons.

Posted by: Eric Martin on August 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent post. In my four years at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service -- hardly a bastion of conservatism -- I cannot recall a single professor who said anything this disparaging about any prior Republican president. Some of the biggest lefties, in fact, heaped praise on Bush Elder for how he handled the most comparable national security issue of our times, the "loose nukes" crisis when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Posted by: Tom Veil on August 8, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Iranian President only remains in power...

The Iranian President only remains in power as long as the Council of Experts SAY he stays in power.

Fixed it for ya.;)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 8, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

If they go as far as to bomb Iran for political purposes, then cancelling the elections due to war, is not so farfetched. After all, they have God, the Supreme Court, the Justice Dept on their side. "Can't change horses in the middle of the stream", or some such nonsense will be their talking point. I weep for our country .....

Posted by: Erika on August 8, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

What I think Slaughter is reacting to is the very real and unprecedented epistemic situation we're in, namely, we really have no concept how far Rove and Cheney and Bush will go.

They show no respect for the rule of the law, or for even centuries of established conventions, or for rational analysis, or, most worrisome of all, even political viability (because that is an ultimate constraint that virtually all political leaders have bowed to).

How can any reasonable person predict with any certainty what they will do under duress? What do we know will constrain them? The fact is, we don't know of anything that's proved effective at this stage. How do you bound an apparently unbounded situation?

Posted by: frankly0 on August 8, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Barring impeachment of these nutcases there is one last option.

When the order is given by Cheney to drop that nuke (whether inside or outside the U.S.), or to invade Iran or Pakistan or whoever, the footsoldiers, with their hands on the key or otherwise amassed and ready to launch can decide to stop taking immoral orders and do the right thing. They can

STAND DOWN

spread the word

Posted by: Stand Down on August 8, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

They already let one terrorist attack go down--9/11, though I doubt they thought it would be so severe--for political purposes. Why not another? It never seems to fail. I read somewhere, some esteemed foreign policy scholar or something noted that of course people don't want war, but you gin one up and accuse potential protesters of being unpatriotic (and queer and whatnot) and there you have it.

Posted by: ed on August 8, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

*-*

Posted by: mhr on August 8, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I really don't buy into Anne-Marie Slaughter's fearful, hyperbole-laden conclusion.

Now, I don't doubt for a moment Ms. Slaughter's contention that an Iranian-sponsored or -undertaken terrorist attack on U.S. soil might only anger and re-unite Americans, ensuring their support for a rapid escalation of the conflict in the Persian Gulf region. However, while I would never completely discount such a possibility, I can't believe that the Iranians are so stupid that they would simply play into George W. Bush's hands by taking a page out of Kar Rove's neocon playbook. That cartoonish scenario is completely two-dimensional in both its thinking and its staging.

Rather, a targeted but substantive Iranian military effort against selected American forces already arrayed troughout the region might very well drive home to Americans back home the utter futility of our Baghdad follies, and turn American public opinion solidly against further military efforts in South Asia -- especially should Iran find itself holding several thousand American personnel either under siege or as POWs.

Here's what I envision could unfold:

In the event of an American attack on Iran, while I would guard against such a possibility, I really don't worry so much about a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. What I do worry about is Iran's quite-substantial military forces, particularly its 1,000,000+-strong army and multi-million-strong reserve corps, and the loss of world opinion and our own subsequent diplomatic isolation.

I fear the closing of the 40-mile-wide Straits of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf by the Iranian Navy, which will undoubtedly necessitate the undertaking of a major military operation by our own U.S. Navy to initially re-open -- and then keep open in perpetuity in the face of a hostile regional power -- that vital lifeline to both our military forces in the region and our country's (and the world's) economy.

I fear seeing half our Navy's resources perpetually bobbing up-and-down on station in the Indian Ocean a half a world away -- a further strain on our over-extended military.

I fear a limited but targeted and strong Iranian military offensive against a selected portion of our overextended and tired U.S. ground forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan, perhaps against a unit that will probably be stationed in some remote region of either country and thus vulnerable as an outlier.

I fear that in the event that this particular portion of our forces finds itself subsequently placed under siege in a region, we soon discover that our capacity to mount a relief effort somehow becomes quite problematic.

I fear that we could subsequently find Iran holding, say, 3,000 to 5,000 of our troops hostage as POWs.

Then what do we do?

At that point, I fear that we may find ourselves with few military options available other than rapidly escalating an intense air and naval campaign against Iran, with a vague hope of forcing a now-thoroughly angry Iranian people -- who will by this time have world opinion squarely in their corner -- to the negotiating table.

In that event, we will have thus come around full circle, and find ourselves forced to contend with our own presidential administration -- one which:

(a) Has heretofore shown little if any interest in negotiations with anybody over anything;

(b) Has a marked propensity to shoot first and ask questions later; and

(c) Will probably by this point in time have used this war with Iran as an excuse to invoke the provisions of Executive Order No. 51, i.e., declare a state of national emergency and suspend both our country's elections and our Constitution for the duration of said "emergency".

And that's the nightmare scenario I fear might unfold upon us, if we don't rouse ourselves from our political doldrums and forcibly neuter this insane clown posse currently holding court in the White House, once and for all.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on August 8, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's sad but in any other time I would think Anne-Marie Slaughter is trying to sell a publisher the plot for a novel in the Tom Clancy tradition. These days, not so much.

That said, I don't think she appreciates just how much Americans distrust Bush/Cheney. If they tried the stunt she suggests, Americans would be angry, but their anger would be be equally divided between Iranians and Republicans.

In short, attacking Iran wouldn't help the Republicans.

Posted by: corpus juris on August 8, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Eric Martin above; Kevin's assertion is a stretch. Certainly the administration has shown it's willingness to use war to maximize partisan gain. Howerver, a "Rove political calculation that would buttress a Cheney-Addington national security calculation" is not "suggesting that they might well start a war with Iran for purely partisan gain".

Posted by: has407 on August 8, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

In short, attacking Iran wouldn't help the Republicans.

This misses Slaughter's real point, I think. It's not necessarily that the scenario will in fact unfold in favor of the Republicans. It's rather that Rove will make that calculation, and that Bush will act on it; that's the fear.

Posted by: frankly0 on August 8, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

mhr

Good to see another Hollander fan on this thread. The usual nutroot denizens here won't dare read anything so thoughtful as "Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society," but they really get excited when one of their cretinous number says something like:

"to set the ship on a better course, you have to be able to sink it."

Quel frisson!

Posted by: daveinboca on August 8, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Slaughter's making progress. Perhaps someday she'll confront reality sufficiently to realize that that's exactly why they started the Iraq war. Baby steps...

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on August 8, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

More likely explanation is that after catching much flack for promoting bipartisanship, AMS is trying to curry favor by pandering to the Bush Derangement Syndrome of the netroots.

Posted by: Perry D on August 8, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin that Slaughter hypothesized that the Bush administration might bomb Iran and that such an attack might have the ultimate impact of helping the Republicans politically. However, unlike Kevin, I don't think she specifically said that Bush's purpose in bombing Iran would be political.

I don't think Bush's purpose for bombing Iran would be political for two reasons. First, there is some military reason to attack Iran: they are supplying weapons that are are killing our troops. (There are also good reasons not to attack Iran.) Second, it's far from clear that a US attack on Iran would help the Republicans. If the attack led to a greater disaster in the middle east, it might make the Republicans even more unpopular.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 8, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Remember: Cheney already has in place an office and director for Martial Law. His job is to figure out the no election scenario.

Posted by: blockhead on August 8, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, an mhr/daveinboca book-of-the month club!! I don't care to read Hollander's drivel anymore than I would Ann Coulter's latest "book". Opposing needless wars that damage America's security, military and global standing is no more "anti-American" than supporting said war is "American"

Posted by: ckelly on August 8, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Only one war? So it's true... Bush is getting more moderate in his dotage. I was expecting a nuclear first strike on Monaco.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on August 8, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal's an idiot. but we all see that plainly.

I have one question with regards to the bush43 administration starting a war with Iran:

When is it going to be OK to start talking about an armed insurrection here in the United States? Seriously! There wouldn't be time for an impeachment, do we as citizens just stand there with our mouths agape or do we start gathering pitchforks and torches?

Posted by: kindness on August 8, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Now will Kevin be a little more nervous and a little less "moderate"? There's plenty of historical predecessors to the Bush administration and plenty of times when the unthinkable became the real, while the "sensible" pundits were busy mocking Chicken Littles.

I have got to get out of this country!

Posted by: astrid on August 8, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a zionist puppet. Only Israel benefits from these endless Middle East wars. Iraq is the beginning. As we commit war-crimes in Baghdad, the US gov't commits treason at home by opening mail, eliminating habeas corpus, using the judiciary to steal private lands, banning books like America Deceived (book) from Amazon and Wikipedia, conducting warrantless wiretaps and engaging in illegal wars on behalf of AIPAC's 'money-men'. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier by Mossad) and the US will invade Iran.. Then we'll invade Syria, then Saudi Arabia, then Lebanon (again) then ....

Posted by: David on August 8, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

...after catching much flack for promoting bipartisanship, AMS is trying to curry favor by pandering to the Bush Derangement Syndrome of the netroots.

First there has to be favor to curry.

Look at the gig she's got. Can 'we' take it away? Can 'we' provide her with a better one? So what's her take-away for 'pandering [to]...the netroots'?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 8, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

When is it going to be OK to start talking about an armed insurrection here in the United States? Seriously!

One of the reasons I advocate progressives getting registered and trained in the use of firearms.

The other is to counter the wingnut militias that will form if the GOP screws up and allows a woman or black Dem to be elected POTUS.

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

I was expecting a nuclear first strike on Monaco.

You never know, the same president who didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shia may not know the difference between Monaco and Morocco.

Everything this administration has undertaken has been political; White House insiders have said they don't even believe in policy, they only believe in securing and maintaining power. As an example, straight out of some quasi-medieval dreamscape an Office of Faith-Based Initiatives now exists in our secular democracy, purely to gain support from evangelicals.

A so-called "War on Terror" is flogged from both directions, so that if there are more terrorist attacks we are "winning" but at the same time we need to be more afraid than ever -- while concurrently the White House fight tooth and nail against putting monies toward security projects that would actually keep us safe.

Only the most partisan ideologues are nominated for judicial positions, only the most notorious lobbyists are placed in charge of federal agencies that watch over and regulate our resources, and the biggest campaign contributors get whatever they want no matter how damaging to the opportunities and resources for the average American.

They've played the most egregious kind of politics with 9/ll and Iraq, of course they would stoop so low as to do the same with Iran. They've shown there is no law they won't break (800 signing statements and counting), no number of lives they're unwilling to sacrifice, no amount of money they won't piss away for their political gain.

Posted by: trex on August 8, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

"UPDATE: OK, I can see that I was way too clever here for my own good."

Er... No.

That's exactly what I took from your first post.

The fact that comments 1-30 made you run an UPDATE is indicative not of your obtuseness, but of the fact that the Bush MisAdministration has made the whole fucking country shrill as choir boys on cocaine...

They've posioned the "well of discourse."
They've killed democracy...
They are: Our worst fucking Rovian nightmare.

Posted by: CuteBrownTits on August 8, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo on Guns:

The other is to counter the wingnut militias that will form if the GOP screws up and allows a woman or black Dem to be elected POTUS.

Have you read David Brin's The Postman?

Just wondering.
Not that it adds or subtracts from your opinion.
Merely that it informs it in a serious way.

Posted by: CuteBrownTits (is back) on August 8, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

How about, Iran retaliates by dropping the "O" bomb?

Thus kicking out the last support from the failing US economy, forcing it into utter collapse as petroleum prices skyrocket to $200/bbl.

duh.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK
First...they are supplying weapons that are are killing our troops.... Second, it's far from clear that a US attack on Iran would help the Republicans....ex-lax at 3:34 PM
Have you any evidence to back up that assertion and why it should be a causi belli? After all, during the Vietnam War, the Russians supplied North Vietnam with arms and we still did deals with them. Frankly, the great conservative whine of Iran backed weaponry is far too much like the other claims you have made about Iraq. You have zero credibility Second: the neo-con belief is that if they don't, no one else will. Political help for the Party is secondary. However, it can be noted that Republicans love to wave the bloody shirt and demogogue the lack of support for troops in other ways. This assignment for the propaganda corps would not even prove challenging. Posted by: Mike on August 8, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Based on their behavioral history I think a rational observer would put absolutely nothing past the Bush regime and its sponsors.

The Bush regime and its sponsors have two main objectives that they want to achieve at all costs:

1) Remain in power.
2) Complete a Mideast 'trifecta'. (Installing Israel-friendly governments in Iraq, Syria, Iran)

Starting a war with Iran serves both goals so I'd rate it a near certainty. If actions by the Bush regime at times seem irrational, always look to the goals and they will make sense.

Posted by: Buford on August 8, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think everyone's misinterpreting Kevin.

His point is that even sober and serious Establishment types are now unhinged by Bush and Cheney, to the point that they think the U.S. starting a second, unprovoked war in the Middle East is somehow in the realm of the possible.

Posted by: Auto on August 8, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why not, they took down the Twin towers for patisan gain, why not bomb Iran for effect.

Posted by: john john on August 8, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

All the more reason why the moderate view should be to have impeachment completely off the table.

Posted by: HL Mungo on August 8, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

If the attack led to a greater disaster in the middle east, it might make the Republicans even more unpopular.
Posted by: ex-liberal on August 8, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Greater disaster?

I thought Iraq was doing great? I thought everything was fine, that flowers of democracy were blooming in the desert! Isn't Freedom on the March?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 8, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: Have you any evidence to back up that assertion [that Iran is supplying arms that are being used to kill Americans] and why it should be a causi belli?

Evidence for my assertion can be found, e.g. at an AP article today:

Washington has accused Iran of supplying Shiite extremists with EFPs. Tehran denies the allegations. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/08/08/ap3997732.html

The Guardian repeats this US asssertions:
Washington also accuses Iran of supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hizbullah in Lebanon. http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2138736,00.html

One's confidence in this evidence will depend on one's confidence in Washington's accuracy and truthfulness.

I don't think supplying these arms is a sufficient casus belli for an all-out war. I do think it could justify attacking specific targets in Iran that are directly involved in manufacturing and distributing these arms.

However, my impression is that the Bush Administration doesn't want to attack Iran. Our military is fully committed in Iraq & Afghanistan, if not overcommitted. We don't have the manpower to go to war against Iran.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 8, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Evidence for my assertion can be found, e.g. at an AP article today

That's not evidence, that's just another unsupported assertion by a government well-known for it's propaganda, such as "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."

Every time proof has been demanded for these claims the White House has backed off. Let's face it: you know they're lying, we know they're lying, but you think you're doing some sort of patriotic duty here.

So there has yet to be any physical evidence of Iran arming Iraqis -- period. Although as a sovereign nation I'm sure Iraq is happy to get weapons from anyone it can.

There is a government that we know for certain arming Iraqis, however, and whose weapons have been used to kill the troops; and that is the Bush administration. They have literally provided hundreds of thousands of guns to militia members in the security forces who on occasions have turned around and used them against us.

Don't you think we should hold this administration resonsible?

Posted by: trex on August 8, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

[Iran is] supplying weapons that are are killing our troops

Even if that is true, *we* are supplying many more weapons to the insurgents than Iran could ever hope to. Let's bomb ourselves.

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

. I do think it could justify attacking specific targets in Iran that are directly involved in manufacturing and distributing these arms.

Five years ago, we were told that Iraqis were capable of assembling nuclear, chemical, and biological terror weapons, and deploying them in the field, or on the verge of doing so.

Today, we're being told they're incapable of a little light manufacturing, unaided by Iran.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 8, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

That Anne-Marie Slaughter is putting out nuthouse statements only proves that BDS is alive and well.

Why do you hate him so much? Has GWB made the entire left side of the spectrum go absolutely bonkers? There has to be a very interesting group psychology phenomenon going on here. Some basic frustration must be at the root of this type of behavior.

Posted by: John Hansen on August 8, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I actually think the Iranians are smarter than that. They will think through the geopolitical and U.S. political implications of terrorist attacks in the U.S. An attack on Iran would strenghten the regime at home. And not responding via terrorist attacks in the U.S. keeps the U.S. on the wrong side, geopolitically. We would have no allies, not even the UK. We would be a pariah nation. They would make sure to keep it that way. They would respond by closing the straights. They would respond by making things much more difficult in Iraq. If they are smart, they'd stop there. But I my guess is that they would be justified under international law in attacking military assets in the U.S., even if the attacks were carried out by ununiformed agents operating here. But the point is that staying on the right side of international law would ensure that they win politically.

Posted by: Matt on August 8, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Some basic frustration must be at the root of this type of behavior.

They fucked my country up, and I have kids who will live in it long after I'm gone.

So, yeah, I'm sort of 'frustrated'.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 8, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

That Anne-Marie Slaughter is putting out nuthouse statements only proves that BDS is alive and well.Why do you hate him so much?

I don't hate Bush. But I'm not too fond of the moronic boobs who continue to blindly support him.

BDS -- yep -- Bush Devotion Syndrome.

I want my country back.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on August 8, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, one thing is for sure - AMS can forget that Secretary of State position.

Posted by: HungChad on August 8, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Iran retaliates, as they openly threaten to do, with terrorist attacks against us on U.S. soil."

As they openly threaten to do? The Iranians have openly been threatening to launch terrorist attacks on US soil? Have I missed something or this Slaughter mistaking reality for one of her nightmares?

Posted by: markg8 on August 8, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a zionist puppet. Only Israel benefits from these endless Middle East wars. Iraq is the beginning. As we commit war-crimes in Baghdad, the US gov't commits treason at home by opening mail, eliminating habeas corpus,

This much is right on target.

Posted by: JohnN on August 8, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

What about the expossure of the troops next to Iran? They would take casualties like you wouldn't believe. The Dems would win the election on that alone.

Posted by: Bob M on August 8, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

She's just one more of millions/billions?

Posted by: R.L. on August 8, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK


You're right, Kevin.

As for Anne-Marie Slaughter: at last! Someone of intelligence who sees reality as it is, and not as apologists wish it to be.

And, for what it's worth, reality as something to be faced realistically; not endlessly ranted about by posters to a blog.

Rant on...easier than actually doing something.

Posted by: wileycat on August 8, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

I bet Cheney called Pervez to get him to cite Obama as one reason to declare a state of emergency in Pakistan.

I mean ,really... Tancredo threatens Mecca and not a peep.
Obama goes after Osama and ... you get the picture.

Posted by: Bwp on August 8, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

First, there is some military reason to attack Iran: they are supplying weapons that are are killing our troops.

Well, possibly. Michael Gordon, ace stenographer reports that the Green Zone Generals have said so. On the other hand, according to the GAO, so are we.

Posted by: DrBB on August 8, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

One's confidence in this evidence will depend on one's confidence in Washington's accuracy and truthfulness.

Huh. Huh hah. Hah ah ah ahahha hahaha ha.

HHHHHHHAAAAAA HA HA HAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA.

Oh yeah. Oh I guess it will. Ppppppsputter bah hahahahahahha.

Sorry (wipes tear). But do check back when you get out of junior high, will you?

Posted by: DrBB on August 8, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I actually think the Iranians are smarter than that. They will think through the geopolitical and U.S. political implications of terrorist attacks in the U.S. An attack on Iran would strenghten the regime at home. And not responding via terrorist attacks in the U.S. keeps the U.S. on the wrong side, geopolitically. We would have no allies, not even the UK. We would be a pariah nation. They would make sure to keep it that way. They would respond by closing the straights. They would respond by making things much more difficult in Iraq. If they are smart, they'd stop there.

Wisely said. This is the same point I make when trying to explain to people why Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Saddam never had any specific grievance with the US until he stupidly thought Bush 41 would let him get away with deleting Kuwait from the world map. Not being a an anti-American fanatic, he had no compelling reason to support terrorist attacks on American soil and every reason to avoid doing so. All he wanted was for us to go away and let him rule his little Middle-eastern empire . . . and also buy some of his oil so he could oppress his people and neighbors some more. Sure, he was a murdering, despotic, corrupt little weasel, but every third country in the world is ruled by people like that.

Posted by: Berken on August 8, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Y'all sound like Congress.
Lots of speeches. No action.
The ship is sinking,
And you just talk and rant and talk and rant....
Does anyone care about what's happening to our country?
Care enough to do something?
Or do you just want to hear yourselves pontificating?
Don't just stand there. Do something!
This is the way democracy dies. No one gives anough of a damn to stand up and take it back.
Rant on, y'all.
It's almost over.


Posted by: wileycat on August 8, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

wileycat--
What, exactly, are we supposed to do?

Posted by: reino on August 8, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK


Reino -

Let me turn your question around. It's clear that no one in the present administration listens to us, or gives a damn what we think.

So ranting and raving isn't making any difference. In fact, it helps them by diverting our attention. And, in fact, such diversion buys them time to continue their raid on the public purse.

What, then, might be effective?

To figure that out, we must first understand what the enemy is up to. Then, knowing that, we can devise an alternative strategy.

Back to your question: what are we supposed to do?

First, be realistic about what are the administration's agenda and motives. Second, develop a strategy that will take advantage of the defects in that agenda and motives. Third, take the little steps that will help expose the agenda and counter it.

Simple strategic planning. Rove and Cheny have done this exceptionally well, using Bush as the front man.

We've been out-maneuvered and out-played so far. Time to get a new coach and a new game plan.

I doubt this will emerge from this forum. I fear that posters here are more interested in jousting and hearing their own thoughts than confronting the exceptionally difficult task of strategic planning.

But there may be some hope. Keep trying.

That's what we are supposed to do.


Posted by: wileycat on August 8, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Go for it, wileycat. Once you take down the GOP, please come back here so that we may congratulate you. I'll be able to tell all my friends that I knew you before you took over the world.

Posted by: reino on August 8, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

The question of whether Iran would mount "terrorist attacks against us on U.S. soil" is largely irrelevant to the point Slaughter is (I think) trying to make.

I agree that Iran would be unlikely to respond by mounting terror attacks against US soil. Moreover, they are not operations that can be prepared and delivered overnight, and the probability that they could change the '08 political equation is low.

More to the point, Slaughter's assertion that the potential partisan gain resulting from such an attack would be a significant factor in Rove's political calculus misses the obvious.

The obvious is the Heritage analysis, If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game, which Kevin posted about earlier (here). Specifically:

  • If the administration believes the Heritage analysis--and given that it was done with access and support from the administration--that is a reasonable assumption;
  • then Rove et. al. has everything they need to make the case that the result would be a net positive--if the attack on Iran was launched within the next 3-4 months (which I commented on here).
In short, Slaughter doesn't need to speculate about Iranian terrorist attacks or what might be in deep dark Rovian corners. That she felt the need to do so is very odd.

Posted by: has407 on August 8, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK


I'm saddened by your reaction.

So it goes...

Posted by: wileycat on August 8, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK


reino - again -

Not only am I saddened. Your reaction to my post addressing your question is so very like what the present adminstration does to its critics that it seems to be just like them.

I don't think, judging from your earlier posts, that you're one of them. But I may simply be naive.

Whatever. We often defeat ourselves.

Posted by: wileycat on August 8, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Here is my nightmare.

It's a nightmare. We have reached the point where, as a society, reporting our nightmares in public is considered political discourse.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on August 9, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

[warmonger alert --Mod]

More news today of Irani involvement in Iraq (from the Multi National Force - Iraq Press Desk):

Coalition Forces Kill 30 Special Groups Cell Terrorists, detain 12

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi and Coalition Forces killed 30 Special Groups Cell terrorists and detained 12 suspected terrorists during operations Wednesday in Sadr City.

The individuals detained and the terrorists killed during the raid are believed to be members of a cell of a Special Groups terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq into Iran for terrorist training.

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13240&Itemid=128

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 9, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

She may be correct in guessing that in such a situation the caucasian lizard brain will default to the white male goon, instead of a woman or a black man. I think she may have a point, and I bet it is something the WH/Republican Party is thinking over.

Posted by: bob h on August 9, 2007 at 6:30 AM | PERMALINK

Up in Canada, some folks are predicting there won't be an election, as Cheney will provoke something, Bush will claim "executive privilege/powers" and no elections.

So the notion they will start a war to win an election fits right in there.

I don't doubt they'd do this, too.

Posted by: Clem on August 9, 2007 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Thanks for the update. Until I reached the bottom, I thoughtb you were calling Anne-Marie nuts as well.

And, if so, a whole lot of us by extension.

Of course, I don't think they'll start a war or provoke an attack to tilt an election. I think they'll do so to prevent there from being an election.

Posted by: howie on August 9, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin
If you get a chance, you should go back and check the major newspapers for the past few months. There is a reference to Iran, almost daily. It is as if the blocks are being laid in place, piece by piece. Ms Slaughter is just focusing on the fact that a point is being made, that there is a problem. It is as if one suddenly stops in a quiet moment, and then realizes that someone is taking you down a road you may not want to walk........again..........

Posted by: james b on August 9, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Irani involvement in Iraq

The US killed dozens of Iraqi Shiites and claims they were involved with Iran. There is no proof of Iran's involvment with the dead Iraqis, there is only some lying political commissar saying they were supported by Iran, which some mass murdering Americans believe.

There has to be a very interesting group psychology phenomenon going on here.

There is. It is a response to the culture of rape. The culture of rape does not understand the frustration of its victims, but it is amused by it. People of morals and justice watch the mass murder of people in their name and realize they are impotent to stop their nation from committing heinous crimes. It is extremely frustrating and creates enmity, not only for the political leadership, but for the fellow citizens that revel in the carnage.

Posted by: Brojo on August 9, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Like most US commentators Slaughter overestimeates the power of the US and underestimates the strategic position of Iran.

Iran is very unlikely to retaliate with terrorist actions, terrorism is the last resort of the weak. Iran will declare war and use its million strong army.

First they will close the Straits of Hormuz to all shipping. It does not take very much to sink a supertanker, they are huge and they are slow. They are not armoured. The very fact that the neo-con cheerleaders dismiss this possibility without explanation is telling.

Second they will use surface to ship missiles to attack the three US capital ships in the area. Iran has some very effective Chinese design missiles. If you talk to the Chinese they recon that their missiles would take out a Nimitz class carrier. They would really like to find out if this is the case as it would entirely change the situation with Taiwan if this were the case.

I don't think public opinion would support bombing Iran if it led to immediate US casualties. The only reason bombing is popular with the Republicans is that they think they can strike without any cost. The loss of a destroyer would be unacceptable. The loss of a supercarrier would be the end of US superpower status.

Third, Iran would attack US forces in Iraq staging a land invasion north of Basra, cutting the US supply lines.

The US certainly has more toys to play with but their supply lines are 5,000 miles long.

If Bush bombs Iran the inevitable result will be to establish Iran as the regional superpower.

Posted by: PHB on August 9, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

since it would be in the interests of both saudi arabia AND isrealfor us to bomb iran, don't be too sure that bush/chaney won't.

Posted by: rusty on August 9, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

since it would be in the interests of both saudi arabia AND isreal for us to bomb iran, don't be too sure that bush/chaney won't.

Posted by: rusty on August 9, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK
More news today of Irani involvement in Iraq (from the Multi National Force - Iraq Press Desk):.... ex-lax at 1:48 AM
As the article itself states: ...The individuals detained and the terrorists killed during the raid are believed to be members of a cell of a Special Groups terrorist network ....

Is this a Lincoln Group operation or merely a US Army publication? What evidence can they show besides making an assertion of "believed to be?" This is no more credible than Michael Gordon's claims.
Get real.

Posted by: Mike on August 9, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

More news today of Irani involvement in Iraq (from the Multi National Force - Iraq Press Desk):

Jesus Christ! Are you just a fucking moron, or are you a slavering, amoral, willfully ignorant jackass? (That's a trick question. you are obviously both.)

We are in a violent occupation because these fuckers lied about weaponry. And you are willing to believe every anonymous warmongering source that sustains your erection.

you are merely a sad, pathetic, failed old fool. As you have nothing at stake, shut the fuck up. Please. For once. Just shut the fuck up.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on August 9, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

bombing iran in september is like the cherry pie cooling on the window. way too tempting to resist for the bushies. especailly if things look bad in the polls for the republican presidental candidate.

indeed i suspect the decision to bomb has already been made. that is why bush/cheney backed away from a military strike earlier in the year. rememeber how it looked certain they were ready to bomb earlier in the year?

they decided not to waste bombing iran on little national security matters. better to wait when it will really counts: Sept 08.

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