Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

COUNTERINTUITIVE THOUGHT FOR THE DAY ON IRAN....Here's an odd, half-formed thought about the effect that the new NIE may have on how we talk about the Iranian leadership. It strikes me that there are probably some people — I don't know if it's a few or a lot, but I know that I'm occasionally one of them — who deliberately tone down their rhetoric towards Iran because they know perfectly well that even justified criticism adds to the war fever favored by the Cheney/Bolton/Kristol wing of the Republican Party. Justified or not, it's better to stay quiet than to risk adding fuel to that fire.

But that risk is now pretty much gone. There's plenty of disagreement over what the NIE really means, but virtually everyone, even the megahawks, seems to agree that military action is now firmly off the table. "The Iran-war scare is over for now," says Bill Arkin, "and the World War III camp has been sharply rebuked."

Maybe this will have no real effect at all. But I wonder if some writers and analysts, and possibly even some countries, might now feel freer to support both sanctions and, more generally, a somewhat more hawkish line against Iran solely because they think it's safer to do so now that Dick Cheney has been stuffed back into a box? At most it will be a subtle change, and it might not happen at all, but it's worth keeping an eye out for.

Kevin Drum 1:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

While the NIE may have quieted the waves of war, who's to say that
some "event" won't cause a splash that sends ripples, reigniting the winds of war?

By event I mean, US operatives inside Iran creating some sort of mischief (like firing on our Navy) .

I just don't trust the perpetuawarriors. They'll get their war,some how, some way. Even if they have to lie!

Peace is more than the absence of war.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 10, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

But I wonder if some writers and analysts, and possibly even some countries, might now feel freer to support both sanctions and, more generally, a somewhat more hawkish line against Iran solely because they think it's safer to do so now that Dick Cheney has been stuffed back into a box?

I think they'd be crazy not to wait until the fuckers are out of office. Thinking they won't go to war now would be like assuming a drunk won't drive because his license was suspended. What you do is take away the alcohol AND the keys, because they have a sickness.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: that would be a mistake, unless your purpose is to help both the domestic hawks and the Ahmadinijad improve their positions. The Cheneyites can still recover.

In particular, you should avoid giving any support to efforts to demonize Mohamed ElBaradei, especially since the NIE leak shows that what he's been saying is correct. Instead, support the IAEA's work to find out exactly what's going on in Iran, keeping the pressure on Iran to meet its treaty obligations, no more and no less.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 10, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I wonder if some writers and analysts might now feel freer to support both sanctions and, more generally, a somewhat more hawkish line against Iran solely because they think it's safer to do so now"...

Sure. Probably true. But what have you got against Iran in the first place?

"some people ... deliberately tone down their rhetoric towards Iran"

Why criticize Iran at all? What business is it of ours? Sure, we should support human rights generally, but Iran probably isn't in the top 30 worst abusers of such things. Do we criticize the others proportionally? Do we apply our outrage and pressure where it would have the largest marginal benefit?

What has Iran done? Been attacked by Iraq 25 years ago, an aggressive war supported (marginally?) by the US. Been the targets of US-backed attempts at overthrowing a democratically-elected (but socialist?) leader in 1953?

Iran supports Hezbollah (or so I'm told). But the US militarily supports the other side in that conflict, Israel, MUCH more (one or two orders of magnitude). Which one is the aggressor - hard to say.

For our pundits in the press, I can't help but think that the only reason that Iran is on their radar is because they are Muslim. If not, what?

Posted by: luci on December 10, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

What are you, Mickey Kaus or something? Save the antinominianism for the other SoCal blogger of note.

Posted by: lampwick on December 10, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be silly. What the release of the NIE meant is that the administration finally cut their deal with Iran.

Posted by: CK Dexter Haven on December 10, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

In a similar vein, there was a story in the Sunday LA Times page A27 on Gate's speech to Middle East officials at a meeting in Bahrain [sorry, couldn't find it online for a link]

Gates defends Israel on arms
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates defended Israel's purported nuclear arms program at a gathering of Middle East leaders in Manama, Bahrain. Asked whether he thought the program posed a threat to the region, Gates said, "No, I do not."
The statement was greeted by laughter from a room filled with government officials from Middle Eastern countries.
Israel is widely assumed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, but has never confirmed it.
Gates dismissed the allegation that the United States applied a double standard on the nuclear issue by supporting Israel while calling for Iran to abandon its enrichment activities.
"Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into places like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly," Gates said. "So I think there are significant differences in terms of both the history and the behavior of the Iranian and Israeli governments."

It's only good in Bushworld when people laugh at your SecDef. I'm sure, that given an opportunity, each of those officials would have been happy to remind Gates about the last Israeli "incursion" into Lebanon.

Posted by: Mike on December 10, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I also hear partying is off the table for Lindsay Lohan.

Posted by: steve duncan on December 10, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

But I wonder if some writers and analysts, and possibly even some countries, might now feel freer to support both sanctions and, more generally, a somewhat more hawkish line against Iran solely because they think it's safer to do so now that Dick Cheney has been stuffed back into a box?

Um, OK. But now I'm confused. Before the NIE, we supposedly needed to take a hard line against Iran to keep them from developing a nucular weapon.

Remind me what it is "a more hawkish line" will accomplish this time.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 10, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actual counterintuitive thought suggests the new NIE demonstrates W. Bush is much more dangerous to the world than Ahmandinejad, and that the need for sanctions on the US as a more hawkish opposition to US aggression is warranted, especially since Cheney has been muzzled.

Ahmandinejad may be Iran's W. Bush, but Iran is not a nuclear superpower.

Posted by: Brojo on December 10, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, Middle Eastern country with no evidence of WMD's.

We think Cheney's cooled on this?

Posted by: The Real Steve W. on December 10, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

luci, we have to get them back for meddling with Iraq! Their neighbor with whom they have serious legitimate security issues and cultural ties! Plus they got some oil.

Posted by: goran on December 10, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry Kevin - it just means it's time to switch to the other track of demonization, the "IED's in Iraq" narrative. Maybe we could have a new NIE on that one?

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on December 10, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

but virtually everyone, even the megahawks, seems to agree that military action is now firmly off the table.

Good line, but how do you figure that's even close to being true? Just a quick tour of the RRWB shows that the military option isn't off the table at all, as far as they're concerned.

Pohoretz's quote read by Timmeh to Giuliani (Mr Russert:Doesn’t this remove the option of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran?
MR. GIULIANI: No, I, I don’t think it does.)
..... “‘I was asked to come in and give him a briefing on the war, World War IV,’” said Mr. Podhoretz, a founding father of neoconservatism and leading foreign policy adviser to Mr. Giuliani. ‘As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.’”is one example but from Powerline to Hugh Hewitt to the Counterterrorism blog, the attack on Iran just has to wait until they get done attacking the NIE.

Posted by: TJM on December 10, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Wall Street Journal doesn't think this proved anything.

Neither does Michael Ledeen or the rest of NRO.

Nor Powerline

Why on earth anyone would suggest that they did is beyond me. Don't confuse what should have happened after the NIE with what actually did happen. Especially not with this bunch.

Posted by: socratic_me on December 10, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"But I wonder if some writers and analysts, and possibly even some countries, might now feel freer to support both sanctions..."

If even the NIE says that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program then what on earth would the purpose of sanctions be? Or put another way, do you feel free like you can support sanctions yourself? and do you have a justification for sanctions that would not also apply to just about every other country in the Middle East?

Posted by: swio on December 10, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with someone upthread who said these neocons are like alcoholics - they need to be forcibly slapped into rehab (which in this case, means impeachment) or they will relapse. Just publicly humiliating them isn't enough to stop them. They need to be imprisoned. I certainly hope the destruction of the torture tapes finally provides the impetus to impeach and imprison Bush and Cheney, the most corrupt chief executives in history.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 10, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

neocons are like alcoholics ...publicly humiliating them isn't enough to stop them.

The supposed political opposition to the neoconmen have shown themselves to be unwilling to provide remedies to the crimes of W. Bush and Cheney. Remedies to the abuse of American power will have to come from other countries in the form of economic sanctions and hawkish opposition to our foriegn military excursions because no Americans with any power are willing to take them on.

what on earth would the purpose of sanctions be?

Punish Iranians for not being our oil slaves.

More Americans want to punish Iran for its independence than want to punish W. Bush and Cheney for their war crimes.

Posted by: Brojo on December 10, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

There are a few reasons why we pick on Iran so much: First is we won't let bad memories die. The second is that we want to militarily dominate the ME oil lands. And not only does Iran sit on a lot of oil, they are strategically placed to control the strait of Hormuz.
And thirdly Ahmadinijad makes such an easy target for demonization.

Posted by: bigTom on December 10, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"And thirdly Ahmadinijad makes such an easy target for demonization."

Might want to move this up to #1.
If there wasn't a threat somewhere, then a two wars and a couple trillion dollars being peddled out to megacorps and contractors might have been for nothing. Couldn't have that.

Posted by: Aaron on December 10, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Are you insane? Where have you been the last 7 years? Do you think a little set back like this is going to stop Dick Cheney from getting his war, or at least trying? Before B&C came into office, there was already talk of invading Iraq, 10 months before 9/11. 13 months is plenty of time for them to create another faux crisis.

Posted by: jussumbody on December 10, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Tsk, tsk, tsk. You seem to have forgotten that you are not dealing with an evidence-based, rational group.

Posted by: natural cynic on December 11, 2007 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

Well, regardless of what the domestic chickenhawks think, I'm pretty sure that our entire negotiating strategy is undermined. Since it was, you know, based on a lie, er, bluff.

This definitely means we lose the initiative for a while. Irans uranium enrichment program is a long-term problem, but not a short one. Probably the Europeans will have to take the lead on dealing with it for a while. Or it will have to wait until the next president.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on December 11, 2007 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly