Quote of the Day

Melanie Phillips:

For some thirty years, Britain and the west have experienced war waged upon them by Iran – but fantastically, have refused to acknowledge this fact. They refused to fight back. They refused therefore also to acknowledge what has been crystal clear for at least the past two decades: that it was never going to be a choice between war or peace with Iran. It was always going to be a choice between fighting that war sooner, when Iran was weaker and the west had more chance of minimising the fall-out, and fighting that war later, when Iran would be much stronger – and possibly even a nuclear power – and when the consequences for the west would be that much more terrible.

35 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. Given the choice between sooner or later, democracies always seem to choose later, regardless of the issue. What Churchill said of the Americans specifically is applicable to democracies generally: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

  2. The West is not deluded, it us deterred. Open warfare with Iran means the Gulf is closed to tanker traffic. This will bring a crushing increase in oil prices. This would have caused a global depression in normal times. Now it will be coming on top of a global depression. The recent Israeli attacks inside Iran are an attempt to provoke open warfare. Iran may be an existential threat to Israel, but it is not an existential threat to the USA. Iran can be contained and deterred as the USSR and PRC were and have been. Obama is going to blunder into a war that is going to devastate the US and world economies for no reason at all.

  3. I have a slightly different take on this than Lexington Green, to my surprise.

    I think the West has never really noticed that Iran was making war upon us, and maybe still hasn’t.

    But that perception is growing, as exemplified by this story from Melanie Philips. So I’d say Iran never before rose to level of a problem that might result in something like deterrence even being considered. No one worried enough about Iran, or cared enough.

    Now, people are worrying. I’ve read that Stuxnet wasn’t only Israeli, and I wonder if these mystery explosions aren’t either.

    Time will tell. But whatever else happens I’m sure Obama will manage to blunder, us usual.

  4. -Iran is an existential threat. An armed, homicidal maniac in the room is no less a threat to you merely because he promises to kill the little guy over there first. Iran apparently plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador and attack the Israeli embassy, both in DC. What was our response? Are you certain the mullahs couldn’t and wouldn’t, for example, smuggle nuclear bombs into one or more of our cities?

    -Even if the Iranian regime is not an existential threat, it has been attacking us for years. We are fools not to respond.

    -Our unwillingness to respond to such attacks in any meaningful way makes it more likely that we will have to make a significant counterattack at some point.

    -Whatever happens there is unlikely to be a “crushing increase in oil prices”. We have been down this road before, in 1990 and 2003. Oil prices spiked in 1990 and then settled down. Oil prices didn’t spike in 2003. Much oil now comes from outside of the Middle East, and US oil production is increasing. Also, if Iran stops selling oil it cuts off its cash flow. It was foolish of us to to overreact to the oil embargo of 1973 and it would be foolish of us to overweight a possible oil price spike now.

    -“Iran can be contained and deterred as the USSR and PRC were and have been.” And if you are mistaken?

    -Obama may indeed handle an attack on Iran incompetently. That’s an argument for replacing Obama, not for ignoring Iran.

  5. I don’t think the precedent from the deterrence of the USSR necessarily applies. The Soviet leaders were officially atheist: even if they weren’t all REALLY atheists, it is unlikely that any of them were motivated by hopes of an afterlife reward in the way that Iran’s leaders are. Also, the Communists believed in an inevitable historical process which would result in their victory, which provided an incentive not to bring history to an end.

    Also, if you play 10 rounds of Russian Roulette with an N-barrel revolver (where you don’t know for certain the exact value of N) and you’re still alive, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to go on playing. Maybe it was a standard 6-barrel type and you were just lucky. There were several incidents during the Cold War in which nuclear exchanges were avoiding only because somebody, on one side or the other, kept their cool.

  6. David – what makes Iran so dangerous is their religious zealotry – they think they are helping to foster the return of the “12th Iman” on earth by what they are doing. I remember a prediction by the CIA in the late 70s/early 80s when someone said that we will yearn for the time of the Cold War – predicting a future where 3rd world countries would have the Bomb and (I think) even Muslim fanaticism.

    This time the CIA was right.

  7. Iran is little, if not no, more an existential threat than was Japan in 1940. Doesn’t mean they can’t be a really nasty hemorrhoid. They are a mosquito that must be swatted. And their Nork buddies with them.

  8. Open warfare with Iran means the Gulf is closed to tanker traffic. This will bring a crushing increase in oil prices.

    This makes me wonder at Obama’s opposition to domestic oil production. With all potential facilities on line, the closing of the Middle East fields would be an annoyance for the US and Canada. He certainly seems to be taking his new outreach to Iran and the mullahs to new lengths, doesn’t it ? I’m not one to believe conspiracy theories but…

  9. What is certain is that Iran’s doctrine of using light fast-attack watercraft, submarines, mines, missile barrages, and other irregular warfare assets provides Iran with the ability to strike at critical infrastructure, Gulf commerce, larger conventional forces with little or no warning, and theoretically close the Strait of Hormuz for a short period of time. Given their ability to disrupt global commerce and petroleum shipments, Iran’s asymmetric warfare capabilities are of key concern when assessing Iran’s capacity to challenge the US and other large conventional military forces in the region.
    … as the Strait of Hormuz is a critical petroleum chokepoint, Iran’s ability to temporarily ―close the Gulf‖ or even disrupt its traffic would have massive regional and global ramifications. As such, Iran’s asymmetric capabilities and US efforts to counter them are of key importance when considering US-Iranian strategic competition.

    Buried in this, IRAN AND THE GULF MILITARY BALANCE, Bb Alexander Wilner, October 27, 2011.

    Deterrence is working for Iran, so far. The people who do this for their day job are acutely aware of Iran’s capability in this regard.

    See also John Robb WAR with IRAN? It’s closer than you think….. Oil prices double. World economy, already tottering, crashes.

    Going to war with Iran is shooting ourselves in the head to avert a theoretical danger.

    I also don’t buy that Iran’s leadership are suicidal and hence not deterrable. They are thugs, with extended family networks that they care about, no different from Russia or China. Their religious malarkey comes out of the mouths of people who do not make the relevant decisions.

    Put me down as a contrarian around here on this.

    We went to war with Iraq over a hypothetical menace and it was a disaster on the scale of Vietnam.

    This will be far, far worse.

  10. Going to war with Iran is shooting ourselves in the head to avert a theoretical danger.

    Iran has already gone to war with us. Including the largest naval battle since WWII. What we should be talking about are the tactics we use in this war. Sending in an invading army should not be one of them.

    Implementing a true policy of containment might be. But thus far we have built no Middle Eastern NATO or erected any effective barriers to commercial activity. We couldn’t even offer moral support to the Green revolution.

    After Iran’s first successful nuclear test will we still be able to claim that deterrence is working?

    Our mistakes are in thinking that every war has to be fought by big units as in WWII and that we have a duty to turn every defeated enemy into a functioning western democracy.

  11. Neither side is engaged in regime threatening action. If the Iranian government sees that it is finished, it will release everything it has. Fouling up the worlds oil supply for months or years (clearing out the mines) will be only one part of it. We may be “at war” with them, is some semantic sense. We are not at war with them to the extent that both sides are going all out. We could engage in all kinds of low grade harassment in Iran, to make it tit for tat. The Israelis apparently are doing that now. If open warfare happens, they probably lose, but they hurt us and the rest of the world badly in the process. Further, we are not going to invade and conquer Iran, though Iran may invade Iraq. The whole thing will be a mess. I see nothing for us to gain by pushing it to that point, especially now.

    Doing that is shooting ourselves in the head to avoid a hypothetical menace.

    Obama will get reelected if we get into an open war with Iran. He will be the war leader, and people will rally to him. All of the subsequent economic chaos he will blame on the war, and his own corrupt and incompetent role will be masked. I am figuring he will do it for all those reasons. It is a ploy he is counting on conservatives to be too stupid not to fall for.

  12. One of the more interesting aspects of this war is that we are broadcasting their propaganda films. Travel writer Rick Steves did a propaganda film for the Iranian regime — with their cooperation — that has been broadcast on our local PBS station (KCTS) many times. (I believe they even use it for fund raising from time to time.)

    And others in the United States have been helping them in other ways.

    Our intelligence bureaucracies produced an estimate of their nuclear program in 2007, if I recall correctly, that was clearly intended to protect the Iranian regime from an American strike.

    Our news organizations have not exactly stressed the Iranian participation in the terrorist war in Iraq, though American officers have been willing enough to tell them about it.

  13. We should be supporting anyone who is trying to destabilize the regime. Obama’s failure to support the mass protests was a disgrace. It was a unique opportunity. We should be directing a full time propaganda offensive against Iran 24/7. No one in Iran will trust Obama to back them up now. We need a new administration to make that credible.

  14. Lexington Green,

    We should be supporting anyone who is trying to destabilize the regime.

    Well, not literally anyone. We don’t want to repeat the Imperial German mistake of, “Let’s ship Lenin to Russian and let him destabilize the regime. What could go wrong?”

    Supporting the people is always the best bet but even then you never know. Sometimes the people aren’t so nice either.

  15. Obama will get reelected if we get into an open war with Iran. He will be the war leader, and people will rally to him.

    This may well be his plan. I would not rule out a strike on Iran if the Obamanistas are desperate.

  16. Shannon, what you say is true generally. However, in Iran, people have actually had the experience of living under Islamic fundamentalist rule for 32 years. They know what it is like. They are unlikely to want more of it. I think it was Robert Kaplan who said that the place where Muslims were most cynical about their religion was Iran, because their religious leaders were also (corrupt, inept, violent) political leaders as well. So, in the Iranian case, almost any popular uprising would lead to a regime more favorable to us and to Iran’s well-being than the present lot, based on the hard experience they have lived through. Iran’s Lenin was Khomenei. I hope there in not another one out there. They have suffered enough.

    Michael, that would be pretty damn cynical. I hope that is not their thinking. But it might be.

  17. My 2 cents:

    Mrs Davis–yes, and many people thought that quote applied TO Churchill even better than to his subject.

    Another appropriate quote might be this from Oto von Bismarck: “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” We have acted as if we expect Providence to care for us, perhaps by magically changing the Iranian regime into a bunch of liberal democrats in the nick of time, because all we have actually ever done is try to buy time, but to no obvious purpose except to make the ultimate crisis the next guy’s problem. We (including Europe) have declned to do anything to really address the problem ourselves.

    Lexington–I would argue that any country with nuclear weapons is a serious threat, and whether or not it is existential is something for philosophers rather than statesmen to quibble about. If Iran were to simultaneously explode 200 KT devices in the London dockyards and NYC harbor, both within their technical capabilities virtually the day after they have a nuclear device that would fit on a ship, people won’t want to hear you explain how we still exist.

    Also, deterrence looks fine in hindsight, but that is fallacious reasoning. 1989-91 was in now way fore-ordained, a reasonable person in 1960-62 had every right to fear the worst.

    Also, if open warfare means blocking the Gulf for a time, how much more so can an aggressive nuclear-armed Iran can do that just by threats?

  18. You do understand, I hope, that they hate you largely because of the overthrow of their freely elected government by the US and Britain in 1953. This because Mosaddegh nationalized the oil industry.

    After 26 years of the Shah as dictator they overthrew him in 1979. I guess this is when you believe the war started, pretty funny really.

    They do not trust the west in general one little bit. They have learned their lesson.

    As Israel wants Iran weak and powerless because of reasons that will take far too long to delineate here they are pushing for an attack on Iran. The Iranians, the oldest civilization on earth, are playing this scenario well and will have soon, or may already have, nuclear capacity. Once they can demonstrate that capacity they become far too dangerous to attack. With a missile capacity fueled by Russian MRBM tech, the most accurate on earth, they have built rockets and launched satellites, part of the accuracy of the Russian tech, with a great deal of success. There is very little doubt they can pound Dimona flat which will not be fun in Jerusalem some 80 miles away. BTW the Chinese anti carrier ICBM tech comes from this too. The Russian Iskander class MRBM have a CEP of one meter.

    Go ahead attack them. I will be interested to see what happens. I doubt you will be pleased.

  19. -What evidence do you have that Iranians hate Americans? AFAIK most Iranians are quite pro-American. They hate their regime and their regime hates Americans.

    -Israel doesn’t want Iran to be “weak and powerless”. Israel wants Iran to be friendly to Israel, as it was before 1979. Since the current Islamist regime is openly hostile, has made many statements threatening Israel with destruction and is developing nuclear weapons, Israel is considering how to defend itself. But perhaps you are confused on this point as well, since you assert contradictorily that 1) Israel has mysterious motives for wanting to keep Iran down and yet 2) Iran will soon be able to “flatten Dimona”. Why ever could those Jews be worried?

    -Modern Iran isn’t “the oldest civilization on earth”, it’s a construct incorporating Persians, Bahais, Azeris, Jews and other groups. Many of the non-Persians are unhappy with the Islamist regime, in case you haven’t noticed.

  20. “What evidence do you have that Iranians hate Americans? AFAIK most Iranians are quite pro-American. They hate their regime and their regime hates Americans.”

    It is a popular American conceit that the people in Iran are pro USA. It’s not true. They do remember their history. All of the middle east is in ‘spring mode’ right now so name a middle eastern country that is not in some kind of regime change situation. The regime it’s self has many and good reasons to hate America. It is an expression of a revolution against American rule.

    As to what Israel wants, well that is open to debate. The right wing wants all of the west bank. It is the oppression of the Palestinian people that largely fuels most of the middle east’s opposition to Israel. As so many have pointed out before, so I do not expect any new comprehension, the statements on the Jews destruction was really a hope for the destruction of Zionism. A reasonable response to the continuing illegal occupation of Palestine.

    Certainly the area now known as Iran which is pretty well Persia is the cradle of civilization. You leave out the Shia/Sunni problem and that really makes statements like “Many of the non-Persians are unhappy with the Islamist regime” a bit of an empty and pointless answer.

  21. -An unsupported assertion isn’t evidence for a previous unsupported assertion.

    -What Israel wants isn’t open to debate among sane people. It wants to be left alone. The Iranian regime has advocated the destruction of Israel with nuclear weapons. If Ahmadinejad used such a phrase as “destruction of Zionism” that is what he meant. Why am I not surprised that you give the benefit of doubt to Iranian gangsters but see only nefarious motives in the actions of Jewish democrats?

    -Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism applies a double standard to individual Jews as compared to non-Jews. Anti-Zionism applies a double standard to the Jewish nation as opposed to other nations.

  22. PenGun, you do realise that “the continuing illegal occupation of Palestine,” for many Arabs and their leaders, refers not only to the West Bank but the state of Israel itself?

  23. There are no concessions that Israel could make that would make their Arab neighbors stop wanting them to be destroyed. Israel’s existence is the problem for them. Israel has nothing to gain by trying to woo people who want them dead. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Egypt Israel can count new and serious attacks from that quarter. Israel can count on another generation of conflict. Israel will survive only so long as the iron wall of Jewish bayonets never wavers. There will never be a moment, ever, where Israel’s neighbors will not be committed to its destruction. Jabotinsky said as much. He correctly said the Arabs are men like us, we mean to take the land they live on away from them and keep it, and they will no more forgive or forget than we would. Everything else is sugar coated lies.

  24. Anyone interested should read Jabotinsky article and decide what it means for today and for the future.

  25. “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism applies a double standard to individual Jews as compared to non-Jews. Anti-Zionism applies a double standard to the Jewish nation as opposed to other nations.”

    I oppose any religious state. I would oppose a Christian state for similar reasons. The last time a religious state worked for the benefit of all was Asoka’s in India.

    Call it what you want labels scare me not at all.

  26. Israel wasn’t created for the benefit of all. It was created for the benefit of the Jews. For some reason if the French or the Serbs or the Persians have a country everyone accepts that it’s for the benefit of that particular group. But if the Jews have a country people like you expect them to justify it as being of universal benefit, and give their enemies a heckler’s veto on Jewish national legitimacy. This is the double standard that I mentioned above.

    To say that you are anti-Semitic is not to try to scare you into shutting up or otherwise changing your behavior. I don’t expect you to change your views or behavior, and if I wanted to shut you up I could delete your comments. I prefer instead to leave your arguments on display for others to analyze and learn from. Thanks for your valuable contributions to the discussion.

  27. Aside: following this thread, as several others, I noticed a persistent misconception in definitions.
    Shannon Love commented in another [Jewish-connected] thread:

    …they [Evangelicals-TE] believe that the god watches over Israel because the Biblical books of prophecy say he does. Combine all that with evangelicals believing that virtually any religious person is more trusty worthy (sic!) than any atheist and you have a major positive shift in perception towards Jews.

    PenGun in the latest comment on this thread:
    I oppose any religious state. I would oppose a Christian state for similar reasons.

    Both commenters, with all their differences, make the same mistake – they understand “Jew” to mean a religious affiliation.
    It’s a common mistake, one I have been correcting for 20 years whenever I see it,but I am just one woman against whole stubborn continent!

    Jews is an ethnic group. It is people first, member of a religion second. One can be Jewish even if atheist (hi!) – the same way Italian remains Italian even not a Roman Catholic.

    As a people, Jews deserve, can and did form their own state. Own country. Just like all the nation-state countries on the globe. It is not a religious reservation – among Israelis there are Christians (of various shades of belief), Muslims, atheists, agnostics, B’hai, &&&. And it is not mono-ethnicity country, like Arab countries around it; but the Jews are a majority, united by land, heritage and language.

    Sorry to explain such basic things, but time and again this tiny fact seems to slip American (and Canadian!) mind.

  28. I seem to remember Mosaddegh stuffing a few ballot boxes in order to maintain power…

    And the Shah was installed in the 1940s when the previous Shah was just a little too “pro-German”. (He may have not run the government at the time, but he ascended the monarchy then.)

  29. OK Tatyana, seems like a valid point. We may be forgiven for not realizing the fact because (part of) the problem seems to be that there is really one word describing two sets of people. Perhaps there is some common usage to distinguish between the political and the religious? It seems that there are Jew-Jews and non-Jew-Jews. Proper adjectives like Arab-Jew or American-Jew where individual personal information is known is creates no problem but how to express the different sets of the religious group vs the political/cultural group? “secular-Jew”? But what about the “Christian-Jew”? It seems there should be a overall clasification for the non-Jew-Jew. It is making my head hurt.

  30. You don’t need any special classification. All you need to know is that their enemies want to kill them whether they practice any religion or not. That never changes.

  31. You have my full sympathy, Tyouth.
    It does seem like a complicated problem – at first. But when you browse some readily available literature online, f.i., or in books, you’ll get used to it. Besides, Jews made distinction quite easy for non-Jews: perhaps you may turn to a visual aids for pictures of religious Jews of various, should I say, degrees of religiosity (orthodox, Lubavitch hasids, conservatives, reformist). You can start form basic facts, like that religion is called Judaism, and an ethnicity is called Jew/Jewish. And then there is that much maligned but useful source, Wikipedia, where you can learn about the Law of Return which State of Israel uses in determining either a person is Jewish or not. Which, of course, does not change the way said person self-identifies – it just provides a legal foundation for distinction.
    The easiest answer, in a meanwhile, is to at least one of your questions: Christian Jew is called a convert.
    I can add to it a sad but true Soviet joke from the times Soviet citizens had so called “5th article” in their domestic passports. The article was “Nationality’, which in Soviet Union means “ethnicity”. Some people had this line in their passports filled with “Uzbek”, some “Ukrainian”, some “Russian”, and some “Jew”. So the last category, breaking under endless persecution, sometimes bribed municipal clerks to change that line to other ethnicity. So here comes the joke: “Don’t labor so much changing the 5th Article: they’ll beat not your passport but your face”.

    So now you know how to recognize a Jew.
    Hope that helps.

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