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Some Differing Views on Iran.--

In 2004 I thought that Iran's nuclear facilities might be bombed by the US or Israel in the few months after the 2004 election. What I didn't know then was the difficulty of succeeding at this task, even if such a decision were to be made. And then there's the blowback in Iraq and Europe.

So what does the future hold on Iran? Amir Taheri may be right: Because Iran needs several years (1) to build nuclear bombs and (2) to get rid of Bush, Iran might take a strategic step backward. It might take a modest public retreat to soften up (the already soft) European resistance to its nuclear program. Amir Taheri in the Telegraph explains:

Last Monday, just before he announced that Iran had gatecrashed "the nuclear club", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disappeared for several hours. He was having a khalvat (tête-à-tête) with the Hidden Imam, the 12th and last of the imams of Shiism who went into "grand occultation" in 941. . . .

Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war.

In Ahmadinejad's analysis, the rising Islamic "superpower" has decisive advantages over the infidel. Islam has four times as many young men of fighting age as the West, with its ageing populations. Hundreds of millions of Muslim "ghazis" (holy raiders) are keen to become martyrs while the infidel youths, loving life and fearing death, hate to fight. Islam also has four-fifths of the world's oil reserves, and so controls the lifeblood of the infidel. More importantly, the US, the only infidel power still capable of fighting, is hated by most other nations.

According to this analysis, spelled out in commentaries by Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". Iran's current strategy, therefore, is to wait Bush out. And that, by "divine coincidence", corresponds to the time Iran needs to develop its nuclear arsenal, thus matching the only advantage that the infidel enjoys.

Moments after Ahmadinejad announced "the atomic miracle", the head of the Iranian nuclear project, Ghulamreza Aghazadeh, unveiled plans for manufacturing 54,000 centrifuges, to enrich enough uranium for hundreds of nuclear warheads. "We are going into mass production," he boasted.

The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action against the mullahs, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus do not be surprised if, by the end of the 12 days still left of the United Nations' Security Council "deadline", Ahmadinejad announces a "temporary suspension" of uranium enrichment as a "confidence building measure". Also, don't be surprised if some time in June he agrees to ask the Majlis (the Islamic parliament) to consider signing the additional protocols of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Such manoeuvres would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Muhammad El-Baradei, and Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to congratulate Iran for its "positive gestures" and denounce talk of sanctions, let alone military action. The confidence building measures would never amount to anything, but their announcement would be enough to prevent the G8 summit, hosted by Russia in July, from moving against Iran.

While waiting Bush out, the Islamic Republic is intent on doing all it can to consolidate its gains in the region. Regime changes in Kabul and Baghdad have altered the status quo in the Middle East. While Bush is determined to create a Middle East that is democratic and pro-Western, Ahmadinejad is equally determined that the region should remain Islamic but pro-Iranian. Iran is now the strongest presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the US. It has turned Syria and Lebanon into its outer defences, which means that, for the first time since the 7th century, Iran is militarily present on the coast of the Mediterranean. In a massive political jamboree in Teheran last week, Ahmadinejad also assumed control of the "Jerusalem Cause", which includes annihilating Israel "in one storm", while launching a take-over bid for the cash-starved Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza. . . .

On Monday, he was as candid as ever: "To those who are angry with us, we have one thing to say: be angry until you die of anger!"

His adviser, Hassan Abassi, is rather more eloquent. "The Americans are impatient," he says, "at the first sight of a setback, they run away. We, however, know how to be patient. We have been weaving carpets for thousands of years."

For other views (from Professor Bainbridge, Debka, and Mark Steyn), click to read the rest of this post.

claritas:
I don't remember too many U.S. presidents "running away" from a fight. I remember many being more reluctant than Bush to start one, but that's not really relevant if Iran is in fact planning something like this.
4.17.2006 4:25pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I'm with claritas. Without minimizing the seriousness of the Iranian issue, one would think that the events of the past few years would have chastened those trying to make the case for G.W. Bush, the one man in the world [don't forget Poland?] and apparently the one man in over 50 years of U.S. history willing to fight for what's right ....
4.17.2006 4:28pm
Tom952 (mail):
Why does Iran see Russia and China as being different from the U.S.?

What makes Russia or China think that they are not threatened by Iran?
4.17.2006 4:34pm
Shelby (mail):
Of course, what's important is what Ahmadinejad thinks about Bush and US tolerance for military setbacks, not what the rest of us think. Even if he's wrong, he's the guy having nukes assembled while proclaiming his intent to destroy Israel ASAP.
4.17.2006 4:35pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
I feel that any attempt at a meaningful analysis of Iranian policy to predict how it will act in the future is flawed because it must necessarily ascribe to Iran rantional characteristics, that as a country it just does not possess.

No matter how much you study rabies in dogs, you don't quite know when a rabid dog will want to bite you.
4.17.2006 4:40pm
Observer (mail):
What do you call the sorry record of American non-response to 30 years of Islamic terrorism, right up to 9/11, if not "running away?"

Sorry, that dog won't hunt.
4.17.2006 4:42pm
Bpbatista (mail):
It is time for the US and the West to go on the offensive against these fascist wing-nuts. We should stop worrying about what the Iranians will do and start making them worry about what we will do -- Conventional airstrikes? Ground invasion? Tactical nukes? Strategic nukes? All options should be on the table and ol' Mahmoud and the Invisible Imam or whoever should know that we could use anyone of them at any time. These people are ruthless and we must be ruthless in return. If Iran does not abandon its nukes we should turn that shit-hole into a glass-paved parking lot.
4.17.2006 4:43pm
James Lindgren (mail):
If you read the linked stories, you will see some attacks on other presidents (at least in Steyn's column), which I edited out of my already long post.

I was thinking more about Iran than finger-pointing at past or present US presidents, so I deleted the most partisan parts. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have refused to respond in some fights (eg, Carter ordering embassy marines not to defend the Iranian embassy, which they were trained to do and had pre-existing orders to do; Reagan withdrawing from Lebanon after we were attacked).

As for future US presidents, how likely is it that a Democratic president will withdraw from Iraq? Most Democratic candidates advocate some version of a fairly quick exit from an unpopular war.
4.17.2006 4:44pm
Mark F. (mail):
From my friend Arthur Silber's blog:

"The constant stream of scare stories about Iran is designed only to terrify the American public sufficiently, so that when Bush holds a press conference to announce air strikes against Iran that have already begun, enough people will believe that the strikes were necessary -- since Iran was about to launch nuclear weapons against us momentarily."
4.17.2006 4:48pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Mike's dehumanizing comparison of the Iranians to rabid dogs, like his strange conclusion that they are "irrational," is the kind of thing that makes me worry for this country. Because Mike, goodness knows, is not alone.

With his "axis of evil" speech, invasion of Iraq, and relatively kid-glove treatment of North Korea and Pakistan, Bush has made the acquisition of nuclear bombs supremely rational for Iran.

I mean, hell, wargame it in your head: if you're running Iran, do you want nukes or not?

The idea that Iran's leaders are less deterrable than Stalin or Mao is just risible.
4.17.2006 4:48pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Sounds like your friend Arthur is willing to turn every issue into a pivot from which launch an anti-Bush diatribe. Not good. Some things are more important than that.
4.17.2006 4:52pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Anderson,

If you could stop the rise of Stalin or Mao before they murdered and enslaved hundreds of millions would you do it? That is the proposition before us now.
4.17.2006 4:58pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Anderson, it is not the Iranian people I compare to rabid dogs, but the Iranian government. With respect to President Ahmadinejad, the comparison is particularly apt.
4.17.2006 5:06pm
Muslim Unity (mail) (www):
You are wrong. Would you kill an innocent person just because you have a mental problem and imagine things?
4.17.2006 5:09pm
RainerK:
Anderson,

You don't think that the Iranian government's behaviour has been irrational? Does this mean that you can understand the reasoning behind the "clash of civilisations in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West"?
I find this highly irrational as history has shown that the U.S., if provoked beyond a resonable doubt of it's citizens is quite capable of fighting. It would be terrible bloodshed and misery, but so was WW2, which was launched with a similar miscalculation. Would you hand a mentally unstable person an arsenal as good as yours?
4.17.2006 5:20pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Iran is truly a contrarian country. Their time zone is 30 minutes off of everyone elses.
4.17.2006 5:32pm
Humble Law Student:
A fundamental problem with the Rational Actor Model is that it is very difficult for outsiders to determine what the "rational" course of action is for someone like Ahmadinejad. We do not know what he considers to be his primary goals. We can only guess at what motivates him. As such, assigning "rationality" to his actions is relatively meaningless in determining what he will do in the future. Ahmadinejad may be rational, but that does nothing to further our understanding of what he will actually do.
4.17.2006 5:35pm
JosephSlater (mail):
The important question is indeed what the leadership of Iran thinks, not what any of us thinks, about what the U.S. and the rest of the world will do. I just thought I detected some partisan spinning in the original article.

As to what the Iranians might think, I guess it's possible that they are thinking, "ooh, let's just wait until Hillary Clinton or George Allen or John Edwards or John McCain is president because they'll let us get away with all kinds of stuff Bush surely won't." Or it's possible they're thinking, "nice break for us that Bush got the U.S. bogged down in a war in Iraq (along with unfinished business in Afghanistan), the costs of which in lives, treasure, resources diverted, political capital internally, and diplomatic credibility internationally make military action against us more difficult."
4.17.2006 5:47pm
A Nonny Moose:
Humble Law Student,

Yes, for instance Ahminajad may just enjoy winding Americans up. In that case, the rational course is the one that makes us run around like Chicken Little. I suspect more than a little of the same motivation in Hugo Chavez. He seems able to play the Bush administration like a musical instrument.
4.17.2006 5:48pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Last Monday, just before he announced that Iran had gatecrashed "the nuclear club", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disappeared for several hours. He was having a khalvat (tête-à-tête) with the Hidden Imam, the 12th and last of the imams of Shiism who went into "grand occultation" in 941

Say what? In shiism, the whole point of the hidden imam is just that -- he's hidden, and no one knows where he is.

In other words, it's not like the first chapter of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE, where the Minister of Magic periodically decloaks for conversations with the Muggle PM.

If someone is claiming that Ahmadinejad is periodically conversing with the hidden imam, that person has some reading on basic shi'i theology to do.

This is not to say that the role of the hidden imam is irrelevant to understanding the Islamic Republic of Iran, of course. I understand that in 1979, some Iranian newspapers, describing Ayatollah Khomayni's return from exile in Paris, posted headlines saying "The Imam Returns." An imam, of course, can simply be a prayer leader, and that was the literal context for the reference -- "Imam Khomayni." But of course there was double entendre involved: an implication that Khomayni might be the hidden imam.

At any rate, though, claiming that Ahmadinejad is having a tete-a-tete with the hidden imam is something entirely different.
4.17.2006 5:52pm
Bpbatista (mail):
We don't have to guess what Iran's leadership is thinking or what their goals are -- THEY ARE TELLING US!!!!! How many times has Ahmadinejad or Khameni stated that Iran will build a nuclear arsenal? How many times have they stated that Isreal will be destroyed? How many times has they stated that the US and the West will be destroyed? How many times had they raved about a class of civilizations? When someone says that they are going to kill you it is a good idea to take that person seriously -- especially when he says that as he is walking into a gun store!
4.17.2006 5:54pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Ditto Batista.
4.17.2006 5:57pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
What is primarily on the minds of the rulers in Iran is precisely that, remaining its rulers. They have a big problem in that they are not all that popular with their younger generations, those born after the fall of the Shah. Many of them see the west, and wonder why they can't participate. It is getting worse, as Iraq and Afganistan improve and are democracized.

The one way that they know of to retain power to to phrase the debate in terms of the west and Christianity versus Persia and Islam. They have to take their minds off of the fact that they live in a totalitarian regime run by a bunch of religious fanatics. And they are doing this by appealing to their Persian pride.
4.17.2006 6:05pm
DiversityHire:

If someone is claiming that Ahmadinejad is periodically conversing with the hidden imam, that person has some reading on basic shi'i theology to do.


Or, maybe he's back and Ahmadinejad is chatting him up? If that's the case, then Jesus has been "uncloaked", too. That would explain a lot. Maybe we shouldn't nuke Iran…
4.17.2006 6:08pm
boonelsj (mail):

When someone says that they are going to kill you it is a good idea to take that person seriously -- especially when he says that as he is walking into a gun store!


I think this is good advice, but also I think there's a difference between taking someone seriously and preemptively nuking them into oblivion.
4.17.2006 6:11pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Which Islamic entities are on record as believing that Israel should *not* be destroyed?

And why do the same people who glibly distinguish the Iranian leadership (crazy) from the Iranian people (the ones we're proposing to bomb), have so much trouble distinguishing "destroy Israel" (as in, eliminate the Jewish rule of Palestine) from "nuke Israel" (which would kill untold Muslims and irradiate some of the holiest places of Islam)?

Guys, we were told that Iraq was an imminent threat. It wasn't. Don't you feel the slightest qualms about believing the same people this time around?
4.17.2006 6:15pm
Humble Law Student:
Bpbatista,

Oh, I completely agree. But my point is perfectly compatible with yours. They are raging lunatics (from our Western perspective because I believe we are fundamentally unable to understand them). I would err on the side of taking them at their word, rather than trusting them to act "rational" - whatever that means in this context.
4.17.2006 6:17pm
Wintermute (mail) (www):
As is sometimes the case, I have a reference post on the subject, this one on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, "The Nuclear Club."
4.17.2006 6:18pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Guys, Clinton told us that North Korea wasn't an imminent threat. It was. I feel strong qualms about letting loose another set of looney tunes with a weapon that forces the rest of the world to take them seriously.
4.17.2006 6:22pm
Humble Law Student:
Anderson,

Since when have Muslims ever cared about killing their own in the furtherance of their own goals? Your attempt to distinguish "destroy Israel" from "nuke Israel" is meaningless. For a good example (which I can't find the link to at the moment), read about the role of the child soldiers Iran used in the Iran/Iraq war. "Collateral damage" is purely a political tool to be brandished against the West. Lives are merely tools used to further their ends. They have no such qualms as we do.
4.17.2006 6:24pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Frank Drackmann: Actually, India is also a "30-minute" country, as is Burma.

Anderson: to answer your question, nearly all Islamic countries accept the existence of Israel. They don't necessarily have diplomatic relations; they don't like it, but they don't deny the fact of Israel. Many would be happy to see it simply disappear, but are not willing to take measure to make it happen. That requires a particular kind of lunacy.

Among Islamic countries having full diplomatic recognition with Israel you'll find Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey, as well as Egypt, of course...
4.17.2006 6:24pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Anderson, I personally have not, and do not suggest a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran. But you are incorrect to equate all Muslim states on the ground that *none* recognize Israel. The difference is one of degree, and it's a big difference. I'm not sure when was the last time that a Muslim country other than Iran asserted its desire to annhilate Israel. (PA doesnt count obviously). Many Muslim government are believed to be apathetic toward Israel, but maintain their public vitriol in order to deter domestic terrorism. Iran goes above and beyond the call of duty in this regard. There is no doubt about their veracity.

And the fact that Iraq was not an imminent threat is anything but a decided question. At this point most people recognize that their WMD's are in Syria, and were moved there not long before the war.
4.17.2006 6:25pm
poster child (mail):

Don't you feel the slightest qualms about believing the same people this time around?


Frankly, I have much bigger qualms about living in a world with a nuclear Iran. I guess this makes me a terrible human being, but I wouldn't miss Iran if it happened to go up in a big puff of smoke.
4.17.2006 6:36pm
Taimyoboi:
"As to what the Iranians might think, I guess it's possible that they are thinking..."

I think the more important set of questions are (1) whether Iran intends to simply refine uranium for energy production, or to create nuclear weapons, and (2) if they are creating nuclear weapons what do they intend to do with them.

Given what's publicly known about Ahmadinejad, I think the answer to (1) is certainly that they plan to go forward with making nukes.

The answer to question (2) should categorize how we handle Iran. Reviewing Ahmadinejad's public claims, I think the probability tilts in favor of him either using nukes directly against American/Israel targets there, or supplying others with the means to do so.
4.17.2006 6:36pm
Vovan:
Mike and others are right in a sense that Ahamdinejad is not a rational actor. HOWEVER the mullahs such as the velayit-i-faqih and the Guardian Council are perfectly rational actors, as evidenced by their abandonment of some of Khomeni's legacies after his death.

The question that the UNited States should be asking is to what extent do the mullah's control Ahmadinejad? Someone on this thread previously asked why don't Russia and China share the United States suspicion of Iran? I think that their belief that Ahmadinejad is still under the control of the Guardian Council plays a bgi part in their disagreement with the US on this issue.

"At this point most people recognize that their WMD's are in Syria, and were moved there not long before the war."

Mike, most people? Unless you think that WMD's are the mobile bathrooms that they found, I don' think that most people will agree with you.
4.17.2006 6:43pm
Wombat:


What makes Russia or China think that they are not threatened by Iran?


Firing up my copy of Global Thermonuclear War, 21st century edition, I don't think either country has that much to worry about. If Iran hits anyone, it would be the US and Israel, not them. The most likely result of Iranian nuclear suicide attacks would be the "destruction" (they would not be fit to live in afterwards) of a few major east coast/midwest cities (Miami, New York, D.C., Chicago) and more than a few medium size cities, as they probably do not have as stringent protections (thinking Boston, Philadelphia, etc.). I don't forsee any attacks on Israel as the Iranians figure the rest of the middle east will hit Israel when the US counterattacks Iran, likely with a formal Declaration of War and then massive aerial bombardment until Iran submits (which will take years).

In this scenario, Russia liquidates the Chechnyans and legally formalizes the need for extensive executive power. They then get rich on their fuel supplies, as the middle east will be diffcult to extract from for quite a while. Nuclear fallout will be a bitch for them, but they deserve it after proliferating to anyone who could pay. The lack of a long term success plan is still an issue for them, as if anything a dominant China moves in for their fuel resources a couple decades in.

China, on the other hand, has a more optimistic future. I would think they move in to eliminate the remaining Iranian resistance a few years into the bombardment stage, declaring themselves as a major power, able to eliminate the Islamic threat because of their strong authoritarian leadership, where the weak liberal democracies could not. Then, in a weird twist of fate, they go about establishing the Pacific Prosperity Sphere the WW2 Japanese wanted, consisting of South America, Mexico, California, Korea, etc. Their only military opposition would be Australia, which they might string along for a few years before destroying their military forces (but not their useful consumer population) as a final proof that China is the region's superpower. Japan is a bit hazier; if I were the Chinese, I'd assassinate Kim, blame it on the Japanese, then after the NKs burn their military stockpiles on the South Koreans and the meager Japanese forces, take over control of the whole area.

Europe would essentially be a non-factor; their convulsive sealing of the borders from immigrants and extreme nuclear fallout will lead to a half a century long depression (and possibly even wars over nonpolluted grain areas), especially after suicide attacks on the few countries dumb enough to invoke NATO pact agreements to help the US vs. Iran.

In the short to mid term, it is nearly a given that Iran or another middle eastern country will hit the US. A religious view actively supported by their States that permits, no, rewards dying in preemptive attacks on enemies along with half a century of government propaganda stating that the US and Israel is the source of all their problems guarantees at least a single person deciding to unleash some form of WMD in the US. The only hope the Mid East has in not literally being wiped off the face of the map in retaliation is for their governments to realize the mortal danger they are in and abandon Jihad and militant Islam. Which, frankly, doesn't look that likely.
4.17.2006 6:43pm
Taimyoboi:
Thinking about it, I wonder what Israel has up its sleeves. Given the logistical difficulties of tackling all of Iran's assets, my guess is that they're dependent on American help for this one, unlike how they were with Iraq.

I'd be interested to know what the conversations are like between Israel's people and our people.
4.17.2006 6:44pm
Taimyoboi:
"I think that their belief that Ahmadinejad is still under the control of the Guardian Council plays a bgi part in their disagreement with the US on this issue."

My guess is that Russia and China's general attitudes on the global stage are essentially:

"Anything we can do to throw a cog in America's wheels, we'll do."

The more time America spends policing the middle east, the less time we have to spend on policing China and Russia's actions elswhere.
4.17.2006 6:47pm
Todd Olsen:

Ahmadinejad may be rational, but that does nothing to further our understanding of what he will actually do.



EXACTLY!

When people say "doing X is not rational"" what they are REALLY saying is "I do not not, with my limited vision, see why someonme would do that" but different people see the world differently.

But, truthfully, Ahmadinejad has no real power. The decisions are made by the mullahs. HE is just a front-man stooge. What HE believes doesn't matter as much as what THEY believe - but they are not as public as he is and its hard to read them.
4.17.2006 6:48pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Todd, rationality is subjective fair enough. Can we just all agree that inviting a nuclear holocaust on your country is irrational, if only within our "limited" world view?
4.17.2006 6:51pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Guys, we were told that Iraq was an imminent threat.

Actually, that's a figment of your imagination, reinforced by the repetition of the leftist parrots.

Bush specifically said Iraq was NOT an imminent threat--YET. His point is that when you wait until it is, it's too late.
4.17.2006 6:52pm
Tom952 (mail):
Wombat:
Iran's hatred is definitely directed against the U.S. now.

But what is the difference, from the Islamic Fundamentalist point of view, between the U.S. and Russia or China? All three of us are infidels, non-Islamic nations worthy of no regard by True Believers.

In the long run, isn't it inevitable that Iran will condemn China, Russia, and all other non-Islamic nations for the same reasons they condemn the U.S.?
4.17.2006 6:55pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Tom, you are right, except that China and Russia will not "be sitted idly by," while long-winded political discourse delays their response. Have you noticed how no one has committed a suicide bombing in China?
4.17.2006 6:59pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Bush specifically said Iraq was NOT an imminent threat--YET.

Google is handy for resolving such issues. Actually, "imminent" turns out to be giving the administration too much credit. For instance:

"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein." President Bush, 10/28/02
4.17.2006 7:00pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I am not convinced that Russia is safe here. During the 19th Century, they vied with Great Britain for dominance in what is now Iran, and had their share of puppet Shahs. Besides, they actually have somewhat of a policy of killing Moslems (in particular, of the Chechnyan variety. Plus, it would be much easier for the Iranians to hit Russia with nuclear weapons than to hit the U.S. With us, they are pretty much limited to unconventional means to achieve that, with the real possibility (but not high enough proability yet for me) that any nukes shipped into this country would be detected. Maybe not, but I doubt if they would be willing to try to sneak one in, unless they were willing to use them openly, since we would view even a nonfunctional weapon shipped into the U.S. as an act of war.
4.17.2006 7:02pm
SenatorX (mail):
I tend to think we should back off. Every country in the world seems to hate us while at the same time sucking on our economy like ticks. Most of those countries treat their citizens horribly and maintain the status quo by either blaming US policy somehow or setting themselves (the leader) as contra US and therefore they should stay in power.

The virtue of "spreading democracy" doesn't seem to be working, at all. At this stage I think we would be better off with a non-interference policy and yet a massive retaliation warning. Iran is a joke compared to the US military. I don't care how many nukes they build they aren’t even close to a comparable force. Yeah they could sneak a nuke in or shoot some over at Israel. We should make clear if they do missiles will be flying from our subs off their coast in 5 minutes and every major city they have will be slag. If everyone believes we would do that (which I think we would and we certainly could) then the incentives for everyone ELSE in the region would be to pressure Iran.

These people have no idea what they are dealing with either. If they push hard enough they will discover the folly of "Americans don't want to fight". They confuse the average American's "goodwill" with weakness. The Islamic war against the west just isn't realized yet by most Americans. The more people learn about what is really going on with the Saudis and Islam the more Americans are going to be OK with fighting. The Moslem countries have had it EASY so far.

We need to stop setting ourselves up as Contra to the world though. We are playing right into the hands of our real enemies. The friggen Saudis and Chinese are jumping for joy over our fighting with Iran. The Saudis are probably pushing millions to ENSURE we bomb Iran. It's a win/win for them. They further ensure Islam (wahhabi style though) against the west while at the same time playing their real enemy (USA) against their only remaining Islamic enemy (Iran). They probably sit around laughing about how stupid we are because our politicians are so greedy and easily bought off.

The problem with the Bush admin isn't in some sort of tuff/soft question. It's that they are corrupt and easily manipulated by those with money.
4.17.2006 7:03pm
Taimyoboi:
"But what is the difference, from the Islamic Fundamentalist point of view, between the U.S. and Russia or China?"

Importantly here, I think that Russia and China would show no mercy if it came to a slug-fest between either of them and Iran.

I think that is a significant piece of Iran's calculus in who they are willing to play the short-term vs. long-term game with.
4.17.2006 7:03pm
Tom952 (mail):
I tend to think we should back off.
Right. First there is the OIL thing. Second, there is no way to stop Iran if they come into Iraq en masse. The immediate outcome would be U.S. troops overrun or evacuated from Iraq and humiliated.

The virtue of "spreading democracy" doesn't seem to be working, at all.
Truer words were never spoken. What idiot thought a nation of Islamic Fundamentalists could elect a responsible government, anyway? (Oh, sorry Mr. President.)
4.17.2006 7:14pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Anderson, are you suggesting that the temporal language of "imminent" is somehow *less" meaningful than "real?" Real clearly does not connote "imminent." Bush was speaking to magnitude, not imminence, and I'm positive that you realize that.
4.17.2006 7:14pm
Justin (mail):
Second time as farce, I suppose. The whole notion of George Bush losing a second war that we don't need to fight but can't afford to lose is one thing. The idea that this is "inevitable" or "obvious" just scares the living daylights out of me.

You're complaining that Iran is not rational? Someone try to explain our foreign policy since Bush took office, once we go get our butts kicked by Iran (because, once again, no draft - losing wars on the cheap), in ways that have ANY coherent connection to rationality.
4.17.2006 7:14pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Justin, it's time to actually call a spade a spade. We are unequivocally WINNING in Iraq - killing the enemy at 20-1 and training more and more Iraqis to fight for themselves. The loser in a war, to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, is the guy smuggling bootleg audiotapes out of a cave.
4.17.2006 7:17pm
Justin (mail):
Well, if we're allowed to create our own facts up out of thin air, my argument becomes obsolete. So for the record,

Absolutely."
• White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat," 5/7/03

Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?"
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02

Well, of course he is.”
• White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question “is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03
4.17.2006 7:18pm
Vovan:
The danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.
Source

Heh
4.17.2006 7:18pm
Justin (mail):
Mike: "Justin, it's time to actually call a spade a spade. We are unequivocally WINNING in Iraq - killing the enemy at 20-1 and training more and more Iraqis to fight for themselves. The loser in a war, to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, is the guy smuggling bootleg audiotapes out of a cave."

Justin: Well, if we're allowed to create our own facts up out of thin air, my argument becomes obsolete. So for the record.

Bat*** crazy, I tell you.
4.17.2006 7:21pm
Justin (mail):
Oh and the facts...

Google News


If this is winning, baby, I don't wanna lose.
4.17.2006 7:23pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Aw honey, you are upset. Here are some facts then. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=590071

That's just the first thing that came up. There are also some good posts on LT Smash about it. Also, you should try becoming friends with some Iraq vets, they might give you a better idea of what's going on in Iraq than the Daily Kos - not to say that Markos isn't just the cutest little thing. [/sneer]
4.17.2006 7:24pm
Vovan:
"That's just the first thing that came up. There are also some good posts on LT Smash about it. Also, you should try becoming friends with some Iraq vets, they might give you a better idea of what's going on in Iraq than the Daily Kos - not to say that Markos isn't just the cutest little thing."

So, what did we win? I mean you are a smart guy, look beyond the numbers. The only reason why this thread is open, and the Nuclear option is on the table, is becasue your former boys are in Iraq mingling with the revolutionary guards. What would happen when their Shi'a colleagues turn on them?
4.17.2006 7:33pm
Justin (mail):
answers.google.com is about as relevant a source as you just asserting it first hand. You linking to what another anonymous commenter asserts isn't any more of a source than just claiming it yourself. A little more honest, but hardly any more trustworthy.
4.17.2006 8:09pm
Justin (mail):
And having looked at your source, all THAT asserts is the (undeniably true) statement that more Iraqis are dying than Americans (and probably that more Iraqi insurgents, as well, but I wouldn't bet my life on that). Good, glad to see we won the Vietnam and Korean Wars by landslides.
4.17.2006 8:11pm
SenatorX (mail):
Yeah I am not so sure we are "winning". Are we winning OIL? Because I have been paying more at the pump since the war started. Production out of Iraq is LOWER than pre war levels also. For a 20-1 kill ratio to be considered winning I think you would have to compare "restock" of soldiers in your meat grinder. I would hate to explain to those soldiers that they are winning the kill ratio war so good job. Quantifying the "insurgents" is always a problem too. I mean governments NEVER manipulate battle stats, god forbid!

Basically I think kill ratios are a red herring when the total "economy" of logistically supplying more soldiers to the field is left out of the equation. Last I checked BUSH is pulling troops OUT of Iraq. We have what some 130k troops there and 30k scheduled to leave by the end of the year? So we lose 1 to 20 but we also are pulling LIVE soldiers out and how many new "insurgents" are there coming in again? Case closed.

The imminent attack argument seems rather pointless to me. Hasn't the admin already admitted to basing the war on FAULTY pre-war Intel? Did they admit to being wrong even though they really think they were right? Well I SUPPOSE you could believe that.
4.17.2006 8:12pm
slick (mail):
"If this is winning, baby, I don't wanna lose."

Um, you mean the opposite, don't you? Otherwise, that makes no sense.

Try again.

And without doubt, the US won in Iraq. It took < 3 weeks. The rest is political - not military.

I always use that as a test to see just how bad a case of BDS someone has. If you see defeat where there is victory, it's impossible to have a rational dialog.

Iraq may not have turned out as well as some people thought, but it turned out much better than I (and many others) expected. I guess it's a case of having realistic expectations. Mistakes were made. So what? It's weak to suggest that the mission has been a failure, or wasn't worth it, based on the fact that it has been imperfect.

For the record, I'm against attacking Iran. There are smarter ways to deal with this problem. A nuclear Iran is inevitable. A military strike's effectiveness is VERY questionable. At best, it sets them back a few years. That's no solution. And, there will be negative consequences as well. Not worth it, imo.

I'll never understand why it's ok for millions of people to die in a war, but it's not ok to target and kill the president of Iran. Why not target the leaders - those preaching and planning the destruction? The imams and the madrassas. The problem is that an entire generation of Arbas has been brainwashed about Israel and the USA. We need to COUNTER that. It can't be done with bombs.
4.17.2006 8:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
Yes, for instance Ahminajad may just enjoy winding Americans up. In that case, the rational course is the one that makes us run around like Chicken Little.

Who was that guy in South America somewhere (Bolivia? Columbia?) who got elected recently and promised to be "George Bush's worst nightmare?" That was definitely good for a laugh, as if George Bush or any other American lies awake at night worrying what the government of that country does.
4.17.2006 8:38pm
hey (mail):
Russia, China, Europe, et al want the US hobbled, and so are willing to go along with Iran, as they view the US and Israel as the main target. Russia and China, at least, will exhibit their well known restraint and respect for human rights as soon as Iran turns to bite them.

As to America's problems in the world, it is a demonstration of the truthfulness of Machiavelli's maxim. America in general, and the left specifically, want to be loved. When you are successful and powerful, it is hard to be loved, especially when you are supporting so many others and doing necessary work that they can not, highlighting their inferirority. No one responds well to having their faults demonstrated, and so the US is hated and will always be hated as long as it continues to succeed.

America's position in the world and foreign policy aims would be dramatically better served by a policy that aims to be feared rather than loved. Making it so that there are very, very serious and immediate consequences to baiting the US or opposing it would dramatically reduce the popularity of cheap anti-americanism. Rather than having it win you a German election, it should see serious questions about continued diplomatic relations, reduced or eliminated military co-operation, and a thorough review of all non-commercial interactions.

Important and necessary allies do not and would not stoop to these kinds of cheap tactics. It is almost guaranteed that only enemies, antipathetical neutrals, and vestigial allies for which there is no longer any reason or purpose for alliance would engage in such contact. The best examples of this are in Europe, where the reasons for tight alliances have been removed (Russians on the doorstep/ muscular Germans), and the states slack under the shadow of a remote and benevloent giant.

Rather than simple musings about closing German bases, the Bush administration should have publicly and immediately announced that it would be closing all German bases and repositioning forces. Alliances have a purpose, and should be ruthlessly pruned when their is no longer an immediate need, so that closeness does not make the heart grow colder.
4.17.2006 8:39pm
Cornellian (mail):
I freely admit I have no idea what to do about Iran, so I guess I'm glad it's not my job to figure out a solution. You can't bomb them - you won't hit their nuclear facilities (they're dispersed and well hidden) and you can't invade unless you're planning on a permanent occupation, which the US certainly isn't willing to undertake. I suspect part of their president's rhetoric is about quelling domestic dissent - rally round the flag, critics of me are unpatriotic etc., we all know how that works. Still, I don't think anyone doubts they're trying their best to obtain nuclear weapons and given enough time they'll have them. I doubt they'd ever use nukes against the US directly, the whole of Iran would be an uninhabitable moonscape within 24 hours of their doing so, but I wouldn't put it past them to sell nukes to terrorist groups then deny any connection to them. That's the modus operandi for Middle East governments.

So what to do? Like I said, I don't know.
4.17.2006 8:44pm
Mark F. (mail):
Mike,

Yes, Arthur Silber is anti-Bush, but he has good reason to be. If you read his blog, he lays out the case against Bush in great detail. It's not just simple ranting.
4.17.2006 9:06pm
BGates:
Justin,

What would winning look like? And for heaven's sake, why wouldn't it look like South Korea? Did the Chinese win that conflict? Who do you think is winning in Iraq?

Also, a minor quibble - McClellan's comment on 2/10/03 was in the context of the imminent threat which would be faced by Turkey if it assisted in the invasion.
4.17.2006 9:18pm
BGates (mail):
Justin,

What would winning look like? And for heaven's sake, why wouldn't it look like South Korea? Did the Chinese win that conflict? Who do you think is winning in Iraq?

Also, a minor quibble - McClellan's comment on 2/10/03 was in the context of the imminent threat which would be faced by Turkey if it assisted in the invasion.
4.17.2006 9:19pm
BGates (mail) (www):
Justin,

What would winning look like? And for heaven's sake, why wouldn't it look like South Korea? Did the Chinese win that conflict? Who do you think is winning in Iraq?

Also, a minor quibble - McClellan's comment on 2/10/03 was in the context of the imminent threat which would be faced by Turkey if it assisted in the invasion.
4.17.2006 9:19pm
Bpbatista (mail):
As far as I can tell, the "do nothing" crowd on this site is really the anti-Bush crowd: Whatever Bush does, we're against it. If Bush wants to attack, he is a corrupt, warmonger, idiot stooge. If he tries to negotiate, he is, as Hillary Clinton accused him, "outsourcing" our national defense. The sad fact is, that the left cannot be trusted on national defense because their positions are solely based on the immediate needs of domestic politics and/or personal hatred of Bush.
4.17.2006 9:48pm
Shelby (mail):
Batista:

Especially at less partisan sites like this one, arguments about "the left" or "conservatives" or what have you don't work well. Most of us know that "the left" does not base its positions solely "on the immediate needs of domestic politics and/or personal hatred of Bush", or at least no more than "the right" does (adulation instead of hatred, doncha know).

You're not the only one who does this, so nothing personal. Don't undercut your own arguments with this kind of nonsense.
4.17.2006 9:53pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Interesting article on Iran in Commentary titled "Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran—Yet" by Edward N. Luttwak. He has a lot of details about the Iranian nuclear program that I haven't seen elsewhere. He suggests that there are good reasons to wait and that the Iranians are not that close to having nuclear weapons, and clearly, not in the quantities suggested by the Iranian government.

On the other hand, he also points out that the present regime, more corrupt (30% graft royalty) than the Shah (only 15%) by far, has members, including this new leader, who are convinced that the way to get Abul-Qassem Muhammad, the twelfth imam who occulted himself in the year 941 and is to return as the mahdi, or Shiite messiah, to return is through instigating a catastrophic external attack on Iran.
4.17.2006 9:55pm
Justin (mail):
BGates - hell if I know. I'd imagine it involved open arms and peace - a fantastic dream that only supporters of the War seemed to think possible. Goodness knows I didn't. In fact, I think this is currently the best case scenario for us - and we can't keep up our luck forever.
4.17.2006 10:33pm
Shangui (mail):
How many times have they stated that Isreal will be destroyed? How many times has they stated that the US and the West will be destroyed? How many times had they raved about a class of civilizations? When someone says that they are going to kill you it is a good idea to take that person seriously -- especially when he says that as he is walking into a gun store!

Taking that person seriously and believing them are two very different things. Both the USSR and the PRC said these things for years (crush, destroy, etc.) when they already HAD nuclear weapons. It was recognized as bluster and treated as such. That is, we recognized that they could attack us, and made the appropriate defensive measures, but we also recognized that it would be insane for them to do so and that their immediate threats had more to do with domestic politics than any actual plans of action. And guess what, assuming that they would ultimately act rationally pretty much worked. Last I checked, Russia and China weren't threatening to destroy us and are pretty dependent on our economy to survive. You can't tell me that the insane fundamentalism in Iran now is any more insane than China at the height of the Cultural Revolution. I'm not saying ignore Iran, but it doesn't seem to me that attacking them is going to do anything to increase our safety. Most Iranians on the street actually still have a relatively positive view of the US, and this was certainly NOT the case with China in the mid-60s and 70s.
4.17.2006 10:34pm
Taimyoboi:
"...and you can't invade unless you're planning on a permanent occupation, which the US certainly isn't willing to undertake."

I think you're mixing military capability and political plausibility. The U.S. military could certainly invade, establish a hold pattern at Iran's facilities and dismantle them.

What we wouldn't be able to do is engage in another country make-over at the same time, all while we're still engaged in Iraq. Hence, invasion is a political unlikely choice because it would be motivated solely by short term American interests, rather than long-term Middle East stability.
4.17.2006 10:41pm
Taimyoboi:
"Second, there is no way to stop Iran if they come into Iraq en masse. The immediate outcome would be U.S. troops overrun or evacuated from Iraq and humiliated."

Sounds like a scenario from six-sigma land.

I think the reason there has been no overt action on our part, and Israel's, is not because we are not able to, but because both sides of the political spectrum are unwilling to stomach a second engagement when things are portrayed as being so sour in Iraq currently.
4.17.2006 10:45pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Consider the following scenario. A five-kiloton nuclear device detonates in Dallas at ground level. No country or other entity takes responsibility. It’s a surface burst and the ground absorbs a lot of the blast energy so the radius of destruction of is around 1 km with about 10,000 people killed. You can work out the details from Glasstone (it’s available on the web). What would be the US response? There would be tremendous pressure to do absolutely nothing unless we could very sure we knew who was responsible. Some people would tell us that 10,000 killed is not enough to wipe out (say) Iran, besides it’s only Dallas (a city in a Red State). What kind of nuanced response would we get from President Kerry?
4.17.2006 11:18pm
jvarisco:
Even if Iran manages to build a bomb, they face the task of delivering it. I don't think anyone really fears that they could fly it in with a bomber, the Israelis would simply shoot it down. In order for them to compress it enough to fit on the missiles they possess requires quite a bit of work, and will likely take years. The same goes for a "suitcase" bomb - not only will any bomb be massive, it will be heavy. Lots of countries can pile enough plutonium (or enriched Uranium as Iran is using) to make a nuclear explosion, the challenge is in delivering the resulting bomb. Note that all of this assumes Iran would actually use a bomb if they could, which is far from obvious. Rhetoric for domestic consumption does not seem to me to indicate actual intentions. Hitler didn't exactly proclaim his intention to annex half of Europe at Munich.
4.17.2006 11:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Minor quibble.

We won the war against SH in three weeks. We are now fighting the GWOT in the Iraq theater, forcing the bozos to come to us. Why should we get all tired out running from place to place trying to catch them when they come to the killing grounds on their own dime?

Eventually, we'll be fighting them someplace else, and if it's Bush who sends the troops there, it will be the wrong place then, even if it's the right place now because he didn't send the troops there now.

The Button A/ Button B issue is interesting. Ask among your lefty friends which button they'd push, if they had the power.

Button A. We win quick and sharp in Iraq and Bush looks good.

Button B. We lose in Iraq, it's a catastrophe, the GWOT is ruined, and Bush looks bad, and the democrats win both houses and the White House.

Which do your friends pick?

The question of nutty Iranians is not their logic. Nuttiness is a matter of premises. When the premises are so far out that we either don't understand them or can't believe somebodey else believes them, the folks in question look nuts and if they look nuts, the temptation is to believe they will either not do whatever is threatened or will be so crazy as to be incompetent in their attempt. In other words, nutty enough equals little threat.

In both World Wars, the Germans and in the second one, the Japanese, had their premises wrong. They didn't have the power to do what they planned on doing. It was so nuts that they couldn't possibly have believed they'd succeed. In fact, it's so crazy that they didn't do it. Did they? And the Argies didn't invade the Falklands and the Iraqis Kuwait and the North Koreans South Korea.

One of the premises may be that the US is too weak, too decadent (in Arab terms) and will be too tied up by our left to actually hit back against a nuclear strike with massive nuclear retaliation. After all, since we know the Iranian people aren't into this nucleartwelfthimambatsnuts, why would we murder several millions of them, at least? When the guys who started it are either standing out in the main square of Teheran in a state of exaltation, or sitting pretty in a hotel in Mecca? I'm not sure it's a hell of a good idea, myself, and I've never in my life been tempted to think twice about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The point is not what we'd do, but what those morons think we'd do. If they're wrong, lots of people die. If they're right--that we'd do very little--not so many people die but they're all Americans.

There are no good answers, but in this as in Iraq, trying to figure out how to use this to screw Bush is not the height of good citizenship.


And it's a waste of breath trying to insist that nobody will use this to try to screw Bush.
4.17.2006 11:21pm
therut:
I don't know what to think. I guess some want the US to take the chance that Iran is not serious in what it says. Maybe that is so. I just hope if we take that chance they do not build a nuke and they do not use one. Cause if they do prepare your children of age 10 and above ready to fight for their lives cause that is exactly what will happen. The World War that will erupt will cost millions of lives. I really don't know what we should do but I will support whatever it is. As there is no good answer but there may be a better one and I just hope we make it. The partisians in this Country can go to HELL on either side if they do not support this country. I am a Amercian First and I think our country and the world is worth saving at whatever the cost. This is not like before WW2. There were no nuclear bombs then.
4.17.2006 11:30pm
Quarterican (mail):
I wonder if anyone's defined Bush Derangement Syndrome Derangement Syndrome yet...
4.17.2006 11:30pm
Anon Y. Mous (mail):
send in jack bauer!
4.17.2006 11:43pm
neutral opinion (mail):
the problem with ahmadinajed (sp?) is that he is simply crazy. the man clearly doesn't give a sh!t. the man is not smart, and he is totally unconcerned with what about anybody else thinks--and that makes him dangerous. he is an idiot with an obvious agenda. obviously, dealing with iran is the most important foreign policy issue on the current horizon. But can the US really take action in IRAN and still maintain a presence in IRAQ. I mean, we don't have an infinite amount of soldiers, and I worry about us spreading ourselves too thin.

If the only way that we can deal with Iran is by pulling all of the troops out of IRAQ and just giving the country back to saddam hussein, then i say so be it. We've gotta pick our battles if we wanna win the war....and this ahmadinejad guy is irrational on his best day. i mean, the man answers to nobody and does whatever the f*ck he wants.

With all the negative things that can be said about bush, one positive thing is that--unlike clinton--he doesn't try to please everybody. i think that bush is a bit more machiavellian than that. i'm not a huge bush supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes its nice to know that your leader is willing to go balls to wall and deal with those that need to be dealt with.

i really think that ahmadinejad needs to be dealt with.
4.18.2006 12:17am
Justin Kee (mail):
From what I have gathered by reading materials from globalsecurity,org, FAS, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and similar sources, the U.S. response to a nuclear detonation on U.S. soil would be an "elevated response" calculated to eliminate the immediate military and political threat(s). The counterstrike would be fairly devastating to the offender and presupposes the use of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. If I recall correctly this strategy was first articulated for use against Cuba in the 1960s.
4.18.2006 12:36am
devil's advocate (mail):
Notice this theory means GWB and the Iranians see the world in similar ways which are insightful but not decisive. They just disagree on who is the good guys but they are both operating on the wait-out bush and the lazy west theory. The theory that the "muslim world" allegedly has this major strategic advantage: numbers of men willing to die by suicide attacks.

Their supposedly superior numbers, teetering on 3rd world, rent-based economies, can easily be turned into massive strategic liabilities with targeted action, such as airstrikes on bridges, power, water, etc. The education and skill levels (required by modern warfare) of these peoples is terribly low, compared to the West, India, and China. In any real conflict these numbers are useless.

Suicide bombers have a scary willingness to die, but our scaryily effective military methods do not rely on sacrificing men. Such a skill is not needed in our force since our bombs use lasers and computers to get to their targets, and are not strapped to a human with a brain. Are GWB and the Iranians really on the brink of something that could lead to the "muslim world" or Iran beseiging the US with suicide bombers all flying in on international commercial airlines? Won't we notice the thousands of muslim bombers pouring in at Customs? It's not the same as the west bank. They can't wipe us out with suicide bombers. If they nuke us, we nuke back, and it is nuclear war and we are all f---ed. If we nuke first, I bet it will be the same.

So, is Bush's fear of our defeat when he is gone justified? Does he believe the west is lazy and will lose because our national defense is somehow not as desperate because it does not rely on suicide missions? If America is so great, won't we stand up to crazy terrorists under any Administration? Does he believe only he has the balls to pull the trigger when its needed and it is needed now--that we can really stop another muslim country from getting the Bomb--for ever and ever?

Perhaps. But I hope the smart people in the Administration know it is about oil and Israel. Power in the Persian Gulf is essential to the US economy because of oil. Israel is an extremely complex IR issue that is interconnected to everything about modern ME politics.

Simultaneously our policy says: we must protect Israel, we must sometimes restrain Israel re: its neighbors to keep regional politics calmer. And then our oil-based interventions can have volatile cross-cutting impacts on Israel (removing anti-israel dictator vs. inflaming regional anti-west politics and terrorist activity).

So while I am not worried about "the west" being overrun by suicidal muslim hordes, Israel's future looks very uncertain. If another war is fought in the ME, it will not be about WMD, it will be the continuation of the crusades, with Israel and the Christian nations vs. many muslim nations. If it weren't for the relationship between Iran and Israel, Iran would be like Pakistan, an unwelcome development, but not something worth giving even a few American lives.
4.18.2006 1:41am
Defending the Indefensible:
Justin, good luck. With the exception of you and maybe one or two other contributors, after reading this thread, I don't think there's anything left here but the rantings of the genocidal chickenhawks. I'm outta here.

Whig
4.18.2006 1:48am
CrazyTrain (mail):
Yes, let's kill all the Muslims in the world . . . but, uh, not me personally, I am not interested in going to fight a war. Let the poor people do that.

This site's comments section has jumped the shark, and is turning into LGF lite.

On the issue of Iran, I just talked to some friends in Israel, who all think that Bush is a nut if he thinks he can fight in Iran and Iraq at the same time, and that Iran is nowhere close to nuclear arms. But hey what would the Israelis (i.e. leftist socialist Jews that they are) know about this.
4.18.2006 2:20am
CrazyTrain (mail):
With the exception of you and maybe one or two other contributors, after reading this thread, I don't think there's anything left here but the rantings of the genocidal chickenhawks. I'm outta here.

Hey Eugene "cleansed" the comment section a while ago. No more "partisan" rants (i.e., rants criticizing conservative wheenies). I'm out too. Have fun little lizardoids.
4.18.2006 2:22am
therut:
WOW. That is about all I can say. WOW!!!!!!!!! Some people take their politics waaaayyyyyyyyyy to seriously.
4.18.2006 2:34am
Justin (mail):
Was Orin Kerr singlehandedly keeping this site rational? Or did EV's recent.....how do I say this without getting banned....new found focus on "Islam".....cause the problem?
4.18.2006 2:34am
therut:
Oh I do have one question. What is a lizardoid. I know I'm middle age so maybe I missed some sci-fi movie in the last 20 years. Funny is a way since my High School mascot is the Sand Lizard.
4.18.2006 2:36am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
A lizardoid, therut, is a commenter on www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog, which is an anti-islamist blog. They tend to get a little out of hand sometimes. What our resident hippies are upset about is the forceful stand on the Iran issue that the majority of this site's readers seem to have taken. Some have bitched that "the poor people do the fighting." Those I would like to remind that just because we don't have screen-names like "Rerporting for Duty," doesn't mean none of us served.

But Justin &co, seriously, I really feel like I can benefit from your presence here, at least to the extent that that you make substantive arguments (not the boo-hooing stuff). So, hey, calm down, stick around.
4.18.2006 4:36am
DiversityHire:
Islam has four times as many young men of fighting age as the West, with its ageing populations.


Not good enough. If past is prelude, "Islam" lost to Israel 30:1 in the Six Day War, 20:1 in the Yom Kippur War, 20:1 in 1982. They lost 100:1 in the gulf war, lost "Big Time" in the Iraq war, and are losing 20:1 in the "Occupation/Insurgency".


Hundreds of millions of Muslim "ghazis" (holy raiders) are keen to become martyrs while the infidel youths, loving life and fearing death, hate to fight. Islam also has four-fifths of the world's oil reserves, and so controls the lifeblood of the infidel.


If that's Ahmadinejad's analysis, he doesn't sound insane at all. He does need to rejigger his Excel spreadsheet's formulae a bit: even though his qualitative analysis is right-on, his numbers don't suggest victory. Sure, the infidels love life and hate to fight, but they seem to kick the crap out of his guys whenever they do get off their cans and schlep down to his neck of the woods. I wonder how they so efficiently kill folks who desperate want to die? It's like a paradox or something.
4.18.2006 6:07am
Bill Woolsey (mail):
Iran is a limited democracy. Unlike the U.S. version of slightly limited democracy, where the politicians appoint the Supreme Court which overules them from time to time based upon our liberal Constitution, the Iranian "Supreme Court" limits who may run for office and keeps most of the tools of fundamental power out of the hands of the politicians. When the reformers were elected, these institutions prevented elected Iranian officials from making Iran more liberal and making more progress in relations with the west. Last election, the reformers were disillusioned by electoral politics, so poor turn out by their supporters ruined them. A politician out of the estabilishment who favored moderate reform was defeated. The winner was a nutcase who ran on a populist program of helping the poor. However, the reality is that this nutcase doesn't have the power to implement his views any more than the reformers did.
Of course, the establishment in Iran opposes the right of Israel to exist and supports a civilian nuclear power industy rubust enough to allow Iran to build bombs if it wants. While it appears they have some interest in improving relations with the U.S., they certainly won't become a U.S. ally. (You know, they won't behave like Great Britain. I'm sure they would be even less inclined to follow the U.S. lead than say, France. They will likely seek to play Russia, China and the U.S. against one another rather than help the U.S. promote its interests against China and Russia.)
So, what to make of all of this focus on the current President of Iran's odd views? Why this sudden ignorance of the limited power of elected Iranian politicans? (The last one said all sorts of good things about reform--but little happened.)
Is it all ignorance? Or is this just propaganda by those who want a war with Iran, not based upon this powerless nutcase, but rather because of opposition to the Iranian establishment that the U.S. (and Israel) have lived with for a couple of decades?
4.18.2006 8:55am
Paul Dietz (mail):
A serious problem for Iran is lack of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. If they are trying to prevent an imagined US attack, they might decide to get around this by building a doomsday bomb -- an immobile bomb with extremely large yield that would have global effects (and possibly render middle east oil inaccessible for years due to locally concentrated fallout).

To do this, they would need to be able to build large thermonuclear devices, but the design of H bombs becomes easier as they are made larger. They'd also need to make large amounts of deuterium. The heavy water need not be unaffordable. For example, in Canada, the 1000 tons of high purity heavy water in the SNO detector, which (with natural uranium tamper) would yield tens of gigatons, cost about $300 M. Lower purity heavy water would work nearly as well for a bomb and might be less expensive.
4.18.2006 10:17am
Jack_Halley:
Bill,

I am curious about your last post as I don't know very much about the relative power of various Iranian political figures. You ask: "Why this sudden ignorance of the limited power of elected Iranian politicians?" My very brief reading of some news articles suggests that the current President's power is not as limited as the structure of Iran's government might suggest on paper. I'm not sure that this is just propaganda, as you put it. Here's a quote from an interesting article I ran across: "Ahmadinejad’s advent as president marks, indeed, a definite shift—from the institutionalized religious extremism in place since the fall of the Shah in 1979 to a more strident ultra-extremism. True, under Iran’s theocratic constitution the elected president must obey the “Supreme Leader,” a cleric of at least ayatollah rank, just as the elected Majlis parliament is subordinated to the unelected “Council of Guardians.” Hence the views of the previous president, the elegant, learned, and mostly moderate Seyyed Muhammad Khatami, mattered not at all, as was soon discovered by the Western officials who wasted their time in negotiating with him. But Khatami was powerless because he was out of step with a regime that was responding to its ever increasing unpopularity by becoming ever more extreme. Ahmadinejad, by contrast, exemplifies that very trend." See Commentary Magazine. I would be curious to hear you respond to this article. I certainly don't know enough to combat your points but I would be curious to hear if others have a reaction to Bill's contention that the media has over-focused "on the current President of Iran's odd views." Are Bill's claims respecting the counterweight effect of the less extreme Iranian establishment accurrate?

Thanks for your post Bill.

— Jack_Halley
4.18.2006 10:24am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Okay, for all the talk about Bush's manliness, his "balls" and willingness to take on the terrorists and the axis of evil, and say "fuck you" to the rest of the world in his tireless effort to spread democracy to the rest of the world (offer not available in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt or any other country willing to claim they are assisting in the GWOT); let's not forget that he did absolutely zero about terrorism (in fact ignored everything that the previous adminstration warned him about, including the infamous August 6 PDB) until September 11.

Then he did topple the Taliban, but on the cheap with insufficient forces that allowed OBL to get away. Before that job was finished, which we are paying for now in the resurgence of the Taliban in some areas and over half of the GDP of the country coming from opium production, Bush became the proverbial bully beating up on the 90 lb weakling, first by overstating the threat of Saddam and Iraq and then by invading for no good reason. Now we somewhere near 500,000 troops tied down by the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns (when you include those who are recuperating from tour or preparing to go over), severely limiting our ability to respond to threats elswhere.

Yet people discuss aggressive action against Iran as though it would be anything but a military, economic and political disaster? Are you people insane? Think rationally. We have zero ability to insert any ground forces into Iran that are capable of holding ground. George and Don's excellent adventure without a corresponding buildup of ground personnel and materiel has ensured that. The Army and Marines and their equipment are worn out. We may be able to conduct a sustained bombing campaign (from where? Aircraft carriers, Iraq, Diego Garcia, Turkey? What if countries decide allowing U.S. to operate an illegal war--which it would be under the U.N. charter--from or over their soil is a bad idea) it is unlikely that such a campaign would achieve either the tactical goal of destroying Iran's nuclear program (considering how piss-poor our intelligence was for the Iraq war, why should we think our intelligence on Iran is any better) or the strategic goal of toppling the Mullahs.

Of course, the best outcome would be the Iranian people would blame the Mullahs for the American bombs raining down on them, rise up, throw the Mullahs out, beg that the Shah's son return from exile and return to the peacock throne, and Iran return to being our best bud in the Middle East. This kind of neo-con wetdream is so ridiculous I bet it is the working theory at the White House.

The most likely outcome is that Iran would become even more radicalized and would either covertly or overtly support Shia radicals in Iraq. The low level civil war there would become a bloodbath with the already beleagured U.S. troops an active and open target of the participants. We would be in open war with the militas as we tried to retreat to Kuwait. They would also support rebellions among oppressed Shia minorities in the other Gulf oil states (who just happen to live in the oil producing regions), throwing oil production into chaos.

The threatened military blockade of the Gulf would bring oil shipments to a halt. Remember, Iran doesn't even have to sink or be capable of sinking a tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. The U.S. can stick every warship it owns at the mouth of the Straits to try and keep them open, but it can only force U.S. flagged ships to actually sail through the Straits. Since most tankers carry flags of convenience, most of their owners simply won't take the risk of a sinking regardless of the assurances of the U.S. and the government of Liberia is hardly going to say you have to pick up that load of oil.

No if George Bush really had balls and was really serious he would have demanded real sacrifices from the people of the U.S., not just those of us who have a family member in the military (my wife is currently on her second tour in Kuwait) or are in the military themselves. He would have said, "this war is going to be expensive, so we can't afford these tax cuts". And he would have said, "if we're going to fight this war, we need a much larger active army and marine corps. If we can't meet the requirements through voluntary service, we may have to consider a draft." Finally he would have said, "our entanglements in the Middle East are caused by our crippling dependence on oil" and then he would have gone on to announce a Kennedyesque program of energy independence by the end of the decade (speech given sometime in September 2001).
4.18.2006 10:46am
Geo (mail):
The discussion above seems to boil down to two camps: those that know we are already "at war" with the Islamist whack jobs and those that think we aren't.
The fight is coming. It's all a matter of how and when (not if).
4.18.2006 11:37am
SG:
Freder,

Invective aside, I think your points are all reasonable. (Not to say I agree with it all). The current situation does suck. So what do you think is the right course of action?

Think of it as a game theory problem. Lots of variables, hidden information, etc. There's no good answer, but what action minimizes the maximum worst case? The past is prologue, what should happen today?
4.18.2006 11:43am
SG:
Geo,

There's (at least) a third camp. Those who think that there's no such thing as "Islamic whack jobs" and that anyone who does thinks they exist is a hopeless bigot.
4.18.2006 11:47am
JosephSlater (mail):
Mikebusl07:

I think what some of what is frustrating some around here is the claim that we are winning/have won the Iraq war. The "we're killing more of them then they are killing us" metric doesn't seem to be the right one, nor does the "hey, we took Baghdad in less than three weeks!" cheerleading. Iraq is violent and dangerous, politically unsettled at best, and looking closer to civil war than stable democracy. And this ain't just "hippies" talking. Levels of disapproval in the U.S. for Bush's handling of Iraq are around 65% these days. Generals are calling for Rummy's head. Prediction after prediction of the adminstration has turned out to be wrong, with the main questions being only where they were the results of reasonable mistakes (gosh, everyone thought there were WMDs), incompetence, or outright lies.

My vote is for incompetence, and that's my problem with Bush threatening another war. Iran is a serious problem. The folks running it are Islamo-fascists, "rationale" or not, and that's very bad. But it's not "Bush derangement syndrome" or mere partisan bickering to have serious concerns about whether this administration can deal with this situation effectively.

And so again, I think it's at least as likely that Iranian leaders are thinking, "Bush put the U.S. in a position where it will be much harder for the U.S. to take action against us" than that they are thinking "oh gosh, Bush is so hardcore, we'll have to wait him out."
4.18.2006 12:06pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
So what do you think is the right course of action?

It doesn't matter what I think the right course of action is because without doubt the current administration is incapable of pursuing the right course of action. The first step in getting out us out of the untenable situation this administration has put this country in is to get rid of the administration. Without that, we are headed for disaster. Impeachment of the entire administration is the necessary first step. I have become convinced of that since the last election when it became obvious that Bush had no intention of dealing with the situation in Iraq seriously or competently.
4.18.2006 12:28pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
What do you think of offering a new state to Russia if Iran fails to shape up? We can call the new state Persia. All Russia has to do is provide some of the invasion force and all of the occupiers. They get that warm water port they've wanted for centuries. We tie up Russia and prevent a nuclear Iran.

Note that just establishing the alliance and the deadline might actually force Iran to negiotiate real anti-proliferation inspections without a war, since they would have something to lose.

I'd like to see some creativity here. What do you think?

Yours,
Wince
4.18.2006 1:01pm
SG:
Freder,

You decline to express an opinion on Iran "because the current administration is incapable of pursuing the right course of action."? You wrote 7 paragraphs about all the things that were done wrong up till now, yet I know that the administration is capable of going back in time to remedy past mistakes. Why the sudden reticence?

The only thing I can determine is that you're far more concerned about the fact that George Bush is president than the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Come 2009, someone else will be president. Dead is forever. You'll have to excuse me if I conclude you're delusional.
4.18.2006 1:04pm
geo (mail):
"the public must be warned that dealing with a nuclear Iran is not a matter of a good versus a bad choice, but between a very bad one now and something far, far worse to come."

Victor Davis Hanson

Read the whole thing
http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson011306.html
4.18.2006 1:14pm
Michael Livingston (mail):
What is odd about the left position on Iran is that they tend to say Bush was lying about Iraq, because they didn't turn out to have nuclear weapons (yet); but in a situation where another country (Iran) is plainly trying to get such weapons, they propose the same inacation, anyway. So what difference would it have made if Bush were telling the truth? If people think that a nuclear Iran is acceptable, they should say so, but if they are willing to accept this danger purely out of spite with Bush, that seems irresponsible.
4.18.2006 1:24pm
geo (mail):
Freder, You say "Then he did topple the Taliban, but on the cheap with insufficient forces that allowed OBL to get away. Before that job was finished, which we are paying for now in the resurgence of the Taliban in some areas and over half of the GDP of the country coming from opium production, Bush became the proverbial bully beating up on the 90 lb weakling, first by overstating the threat of Saddam and Iraq and then by invading for no good reason. Now we somewhere near 500,000 troops tied down by the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns (when you include those who are recuperating from tour or preparing to go over), severely limiting our ability to respond to threats elswhere. "
Did you ever stop and think that those "insufficient forces" having experienced and accomplished one of the most astonishing military victories in history are even better now for the experience (and they are re-upping in unprecidented numbers) and that "somewhere near 500,000 troops tied down by the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns" just happen to find themselves in the neighborhood with Iran?
Now I'm not saying what would or would not be possible militarily, not being the expert you seem to think you are, but I must say one thing. I am thankful we have leaders that are pro america and willing to take action. I hope the mullahs truly fear our cowboy president. It may give us an edge.
4.18.2006 1:33pm
Jeek:
Freder, come on, I know you're smarter than that. "Impeach the entire administration" isn't going to happen and isn't a serious response to the question you were asked.

I am sure the Iranians will be good enough to put their nuclear program on hold until we get our domestic political squabbles sorted out...
4.18.2006 2:37pm
SenatorX (mail):
"I am thankful we have leaders that are pro America and willing to take action"

Insane. I am not sure what an anti-American leader of America would look like. Then of course you have to define what "American" means. To me it means the libertarian principles we were founded on and some other things like separation of church and state... The ones the Bush admin is trampling all over in a "war on terror". As if eradicating terror is an achievable goal. If you still believe the neo-cons are promoting "America" rather than following their own agenda of power and greed at the EXPENSE of the average American's interest. I don't think we could convince you with further rational proof.

Regardless of all the other seemingly inexhaustible supply of fraud schemes coming out of this party the "war on terror" is the height of hypocrisy. They know damn well the origin of the Islamic hatred of the west (Saudi wahhabism) and yet coddle that oppressive regime. Why? Money money and more money. The false pre war Intel on Iraq does matter in the Iran issue because credibility matters. It matters a lot. Nobody trusts them to do ANYTHING right other than get rich and screw anyone that is contra to their power structure.

The only "success" stories for the American people from the admin seem are all by re-defining definitions. Air pollution is down because they reclassified what is a pollutant. It's almost the modus operandi really. Rather insulting to the average American’s intelligence too.

It's not so much being anti-bush as anti processes that don't benefit anyone but a few and only for a short period of time(some of us don't believe in a mandatory apocalypse (space travel hello??!)). All ideas are not equivalent and rational people can analyze process and make judgment calls. You could almost define life as "that which values" or discriminates between "things". Clearly the majority of Americans do not share the same values as the neo-cons. The values that their ACTIONS have shown them to have are NOT the values they demagogue to the masses from the pulpit.

What exactly are we to define a successful foreign policy by? Have "we" been successful in the past 6 years meeting our goals? "Protecting Israel and Oil interests" are hardly values most Americans share. "Spreading democracy" is a joke too.
4.18.2006 2:41pm
Jam (mail):
1) Iran being able to deliver a nuke here in these uS?

I do not see this one happening. The logistics of doing so, without trceability, are nill to none. If Iran was to do it and it was found out it was them I doubt that people who opposed the Iraqi incursion, like me, will be opposed retaliation in-kind. Heck, even the chicken-hawks might even, actually, sing up and join one of the several branches of the armed forces.

2) Iran nuking Israel?

Will Iran destroy Jerusalem, ie destroy the Dome of the Rock? I do not think so. So, where would they drop/place one? Military targets? What about the Palestinians, Jordan, Lebanon and, even Egypt? To nuke Israel would take such a limited and precise attack that it would simply be an invitation card to join in the exchange club. And if the Dome of the Rock is destroyed, or Lebanon, or Jordan, or Egypt are injured to any degree the Muslim world will not be united but destroyed even more.

=========================================

We may not understand them but Iranians/Persians are NOT irrational.

Whatever happened to all the talk about the North Korean President being such a "nut job." What is it about Iran that is more ominous that North Korea or China or Turkey?
4.18.2006 3:03pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Did you ever stop and think that those "insufficient forces" having experienced and accomplished one of the most astonishing military victories in history

You're not serious, are you, beating a demoralized, underequipped, conscript army is hardly "one of the most astonishing military victories in history".

Freder, come on, I know you're smarter than that. "Impeach the entire administration" isn't going to happen and isn't a serious response to the question you were asked.

I am supposed to give a serious response while a good number of people in this country think that there is a viable military option against Iran that would not end in anything other than absolute and utter disaster--or at least the chance of a favorable outcome is so remote that anyone advocating or considering a military operation should be dismissed out of hand and called batshit insane? You ask me to be serious.

The first step is for George Bush to admit we don't have a military option. Our military is tapped out and Iraq has made us incapable of putting any kind of meaningful military pressure on Iran. Of course then he would have to admit he has made this country dangerously vulnerable by committing so much treasure, materiel and personnel to Iraq without requiring any real sacrifice from the country.

So like it or not he is stuck with diplomacy with very few cards to play. First of all, he will have to scrap his incredibly misguided and dangerous nuclear treaty with India and agree to direct talks with Iran. We'll end up on the losing end and Iran will end up with a civilian nuclear program but Bush has brought it on himself.
4.18.2006 3:38pm
Jam (mail):
And the reason why things went so well in the initial stage, of the ground assault, on Iraq was because the uS Army did not go into urban areas to engage the enemy there. The uS military did the right thing - avoided urban door-to-door fighting. The military avoided the type of warfare that is being waged currently. William S. Lind calls it 4th Generation Warfare.

Nobody thought that the Iraqi army would beat the uS Army. But the casualties in the worst case scenario were based on an urban battlefield. We have been reading about casualties that would have been incurred earlier in the conflict had the uS Army invloved itself in urban warfare at the begining.
4.18.2006 4:04pm
David Matthews (mail):
Jam: I'm just curious: What is the significance of capitalizing only the "S" in U.S. Army? Once might be a typo, but I'm guessing that the consistency in your spelling has a reason. Again, this is purely non-partisan curiosity....
4.18.2006 4:09pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
You know, I'm pretty sure that calling each other insane violates both the spirit and the letter of the rules below. I may think that certain people are dead wrong here, but I attribute that to a poor reading of history, not mental illness.

Yours,
Wince
4.18.2006 4:15pm
Jam (mail):
Following Thomas Jefferson's way. Also, it is my way to denote the supremacy of the States and the people over the Federal. In short, I am an anti-federalist and it is my position that the Constitution of 1787 was the subversion of the Glorious Revolution of 1776.

I take the united States to be descriptive of a voluntary union rather than a consolidated naional singularity, hence, these united States.
4.18.2006 4:18pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I may think that certain people are dead wrong here, but I attribute that to a poor reading of history, not mental illness.

Well, I think that was probably addressed at me. Sorry for the invective. But wasn't it said somewhere that the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. What else can be said about attacking another Middle Eastern country and expecting it not to cause more more instability and further antagonize our allies?
4.18.2006 4:46pm
SG:
Wince and Nod,

I crossed the line and you're right to call me on it.

But I disagree with your assesment. The problem isn't just that somebody may be wrong, it's that some people are fundamentally unserious. Freder wrote a stemwinder cataloging all of George Bush's foreign policy blunders to date, and then (I felt) respectfully I asked him what he thinks would be the right thing to do about Iran. Freder says that he can't be bothered. But impeaching the current administration is top priority. That's just not serious. It doesn't contribute to any kind of productive debate. We're contemplating death and destruction on a biblical scale, and the only thing he finds worth discussing is the political defeat of George Bush?

He can't be serious. If he is serious, I do honestly and truly believe that it's a sign of mental illness. But calling it out doesn't contribute to the discussion and it violates the guidelines and just plain common decency, so I apologize to Freder and others.
4.18.2006 5:00pm
SG:
Freder,

You're clearly wrong when you say that we have no ability to apply military pressure on Iran. I agree that we have limited ability to invade and occupy Iran, but that's hardly the only military option available. The "rubble don't cause trouble" theory of international relations. I'm not advocating it (or disavowing it either), but it's hardly dismissable.

So you believe that there is a diplomatic resolution that leaves Iran with a nuclear program limited to civilian purposes? That is, Iran finds a purely civilian nuclear program to be an acceptable outcome from their perspective?
How will a civilian nuclear program be monitored such that it isn't get diverted into military applications?
4.18.2006 5:07pm
Jam (mail):
An aside. Insanity being defained as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result"

This is also the definition of practice/training. But at some point it could cross into insanity.
4.18.2006 5:37pm
Jam (mail):
defined not "defained ."
4.18.2006 5:39pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Freder,

Thanks for taking the opportunity to cool off. You aren't the only one who needs to do so, myself included.

SG,

That was a non-apology apology. Try again. Some people don't like to advance an alternative because they are tired of getting shot down. Others are too humble. They know they can identify failure but know it's even harder to achieve success. I, for example, know that the KC Royals pitchers have a miserable collective ERA, but I'm not willing to make recommendations about their respective pitching motions. In most cases, however, I simply do not want to go through the effort it takes to present a good alternate plan. Brainstorming, like my Russia suggestion, is easy and fun and I don't mind if those ideas get shot down.

Maybe Freder will brainstorm instead.

Yours,
Wince
4.18.2006 5:46pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
He can't be serious. If he is serious, I do honestly and truly believe that it's a sign of mental illness. But calling it out doesn't contribute to the discussion and it violates the guidelines and just plain common decency, so I apologize to Freder and others.

I am serious. I believe that there is nothing so important as electing a Democratic majority to both houses of the Congress in the Fall, immediately bringing articles of impeachment (and I will tell you the grounds if you like) and getting rid of this reckless, criminal administration as quickly as possible. The future of this country as a functioning democracy depends on it. We simply cannot take three more years of this ship of fools.

As for Iran. No, we don't have a military option. We can bomb, but the repurcussions of such a campaign would almost certainly be worse than Iran actually getting the bomb. Iran, even if they really do plan to make a bomb, will not have one for at least five years--there is simply no evidence they have enough centrifuges to enrich enough uranium. Therefore we have plenty of time for diplomacy. This administration is just not interested in it.

Even if Iran got the bomb, what on earth would they do with it? They can talk about wiping Israel off the face of the earth all they want, but at best they would be in a MAD situation with Israel. We don't know how many bombs Israel has, but it is a hell of a lot more than Iran will ever get their hands on in the forseeable future. Any nuclear attack on Israel would be met with swift and immediate nuclear retaliation from Israel, and probably the U.S. And do you think that Israel, or us, will care if the bomb is planted by terrorists and cannot be definitively tied to Tehran? Hell no. Iran knows this. They may be crazy, but they're not stupid.
4.18.2006 6:38pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
And I can think of nothing more important than keeping the Democrats out of power. They don't have a responsible grasp of national security issues. If they had, they would not have nominated John Kerry, nor would they have chosen Howard Dean as Party Chair.

Yours,
Wince
4.18.2006 6:58pm
SG:
I think that if the Democrats were in power (in 2001), the current situation would differ only at the edges. We would have gone into Afghanistan with largely the same plan and same results. We would have gone into Iraq, probably with a somewhat larger force, but it would have been drawn down to roughly equivalent levels fairly quickly. And with the same subsequent results. Post-9/11 and facing a crumbling sanctions regime, nobody outside of either fringe seriously considered leaving Hussein in power.

The major difference (and it is major) is a Democratic presidency wouldn't see the level of partisan sniping over foreign policy. And that would be a huge difference in the ability of the US to deal with Iran.

But I don't know if that's true about the Democrats anymore. Which is a shame, because single-party rule is not a desirable state of affairs. But I view my kids' lives as too important to take the chance.

The future of this country as a functioning democracy depends on it. We simply cannot take three more years of this ship of fools.

My guess is that we can and we will. Will a fairly contested election in 2008 be sufficient to disprove your hypothesis?
4.18.2006 7:42pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
My guess is that we can and we will. Will a fairly contested election in 2008 be sufficient to disprove your hypothesis?

Yeah, if there is a fairly contested election or we are not in an economic depression by then. Everytime I think this administration can't do something more boneheaded or stupid, they do it--I was one of those who was convinced they just couldn't be stupid enough to invade Iraq--and they have just kept suprising me since.
4.18.2006 8:11pm
Bill Woolsey (mail):
KHAMENEI is in charge. RAFSANJANI was the favored candidate of the establishment. AHMADINEJAD is a rabble rousing populist. Most of the arguments here assume that he has absolute power. He doesn't. The policies will remain the same as they have been. RAFSANJANI was working with his fellow clerics. Then came the reformers who tried to do something different, but couldn't because KHAMENEI was in charge. Now, we have AHMADINEJAD, who might well be interested in doing something different than what KHAMENEI (and RAFSANJANI) would like. But he won't be able to do so. KHAMENEI remains in charge like he has since 1989.

Am I surprised the Commentary magazine is trying to claim that AHMADINEJAD's nutiness is no different than what KHAMENEI and RAFSANJANI believe and support? No. But I don't believe it. I think they wanted war against KHAMENEI and RAFSANJANI all along. AHMADINEJAD's looney statements are useful propoganda for their efforts.

It would be as some beloved figure who was a militant socialist was made President of Germany. The Chancellor remains someone from the center right. And then we start reading about how we should expect Germany to begin working with Castro to spread communism. Who has the power in Germany? Not the President. How has the power in Iran? Not the elected officials.
4.18.2006 9:31pm
Jeek:
They can talk about wiping Israel off the face of the earth all they want, but at best they would be in a MAD situation with Israel.

The Iranians do not believe the destruction would be mutual, therefore MAD does not apply.

Iran knows this. They may be crazy, but they're not stupid.

So now we're going to rely on the brains, common sense, and rationality of state that denies the holocaust, publicly calls for the annihilation of Israel, and exalts death, suffering, and martyrdom?
4.19.2006 10:07am
Jam (mail):
Jeek: Let's say that all of the Iranian high government officials are crazy. What is that to us, at this time? The threat is not to these uS but to a foreign government/nation, ie Israel. We elect a government in these uS to protect and defend us not a foreign nation. If our actions in self-defense benefit foreign nations, so be it. But foreign nations' benefit is not why the POTUS is elected and sworn into office for.

Our POTUS is NOT the World's President.
Our POTUS is NOT POTUN - President of the United Nations.
4.19.2006 11:05am
Ken Arromdee (mail):
"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03


http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2004_02_01_archive.html

You obviously cut and pasted those quotes from a list with no attempt to verify them yourself; this particular quote was about Iraq posing an imminent threat to Turkey if a war started, not Iraq posing an imminent threat to the US right now.

http://www.spinsanity.org/columns/20031103.html
4.19.2006 11:55am