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  • Against Containment of Islamic Fundamentalism

    Posted by Jonathan on June 14th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Wretchard has an insightful post discussing the meta view of the war. He concludes:

    Ledeen’s boilerplate closing ‘Faster. Please.’ is less a demand for reckless adventure than a warning against stasis. One of the reasons the Cold War lasted so long was that the United States could muster neither the will nor the method to undermine Communism’s strategic rear in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union. It was content, for the most part, to embark on a strategy of containment by challenging its foe on circumscribed battlefields lest things ‘escalate’, where it typically won, at least in the military sense. The historical Communist response was counterattack on the domestic American political front, a strategy which, until Ronald Reagan, proved largely successful. The deep seated Leftist belief that ‘Time is not on America’s side” arises from the conviction that that no series of foreign military victories can offset a determined depiction of defeat at home. For it is not only America, but terrorism and before it Communism, which wields the weapon of the ‘deep strike’. Its goal is identically to destroy the fabric on which America’s war-making potential rests and it succeeded once in Vietnam. The challenge then, is for America to find ways to dramatically speed up the collapse of the despotic systems from which the enemy draws his strength. This is far from impossible. Only a small fraction of America’s strength consists of direct military power and only a small fraction of that military power has been employed against the enemy. By any accounting, the US is still only fighting the War on Terror with its little finger. But it will require creative strategic thinking to mobilize and employ the untapped wellsprings of the nation’s strength. US troops in Iraq are doing well. But the nation owes them better than use them to attrit the enemy. Faster. Please.

    I think Wretchard frames the issues accurately. It is tempting to think we will muddle through in realpolitik fashion and reach some kind of accommodation with the Iranian mullahs. They will have nuclear weapons but we will be OK, because they won’t dare to use them, because we would respond with overwhelming force, etc.

    That’s wrong. We already tried containment and it didn’t work. For years we were attacked by terrorists and looked the other way, or interpreted the attacks as criminal in nature (and therefore lacking in broader geopolitical implications), or rationalized non- or token reactions. The attacks were trivial in the scheme of things, but our enemies interpreted our responses as weakness and repaid us with Sept. 11. (That their interpretations of our behavior were wildly inaccurate made everything worse. Disarmament enthusiasts are always fretting about warmongers on their own side, but in reality having a reputation as a country that won’t fight is much more likely to lead to war.)

    A policy of containment by us, toward Iran, now, would be interpreted by Iran and our other enemies as weakness. Sure, there are good reasons for us not to expand our military operations now: we’re overstretched on personnel, lots of our people are being killed and maimed, it’s difficult enough to be involved in the places where we already are. But the bottom line is that the mullahs interpret our willingness to fight as strength and any sign that we are backing away from a fight, or from our stated commitments, as weakness.

    Bush laid down a marker in his Sept. 20, 2001 speech. He said that governments are either with us or with the terrorists. I think he was right, and I think we will not have won this war until the governments that are with the terrorists are either reformed or replaced. But it’s been several years, and we are approaching a point, if we haven’t already passed it, where our fastidiousness in conducting this war begins to appear as weakness to our enemies. Cleaning up Afghanistan and Iraq and getting out, and relying on a policy of containment to deter subsequent threats, in my view raises the risk of continued struggle and, in the longer term, nuclear attacks on western cities.

    Israel blundered by withdrawing from Lebanon — probably a good idea in principle — at the wrong time. The Israeli govt rationalized the withdrawal in terms that made sense according to its internal logic. The problem is that Israel’s enemies followed a different logic and interpreted the withdrawal as a surrender. If we try too hard to reach an accommodation with Iran, without first defeating/replacing its govt, the Iranians (and Syrians, North Koreans and others) are likely to interpret our action as a victory for them. We must avoid such an outcome.

     

    44 Responses to “Against Containment of Islamic Fundamentalism”

    1. Lex Says:

      Are you seriously proposing that the United States invade Iran? If so, when and how? If not, what are you proposing? And what do you think the consequences will be if we do not do what you propose? I ask this in total seriousness. I think the range of possible actions against Iran in the near term is very limited, very constrained. I think invasion is a literal impossibility, and the postwar occupation phase would be much worse than what we face in Iraq and is even farther beyond what we can do militarily. Nor do I think the American public will tolerate the USA initiating a war against Iran. Are you proposing we make threats, then not follow through? Or threaten war and then invade? Or initiate the use of nuclear weapons? I don’t get it. Again, no sarcasm. We have had this conversation before. I still don’t get it.

      Also, I think the prospect of regime change happening in Iran without us invading may be far better than it was in Iraq. Finally, I think Iran is much more deterrable and rational, and hence akin to the old Soviet Union, than Iraq would have been with some small number of nuclear weapons. They have really one city. We annihilate them witho one airburst if they mess with us. So a “containment” policy strikes me as the correct one as a practical matter. It has the advantage that no one has to kill anybody in the immediate term to do it.

    2. Sulaiman Says:

      One war at a time, Mr. President.

    3. LotharBot Says:

      To respond to both comments:

      “Only a small fraction of America’s strength consists of direct military power and only a small fraction of that military power has been employed against the enemy.”

      There are non-military things we can do to Iran. I’m not privy to the necessary information to determine the best things to do, but such things most certainly do exist.

    4. Ralf Goergens Says:

      It would be absolutely unacceptable to let the Mullahs get their hands on nuclear weapons. I think the idea the Bush Administartion is pursuing right now is to delay the development of Iranian nukes until after the Mullahs are ousted, and then to convince Iran’s new democratic government to forego the development of such weapons. Even if the latter goal is unattainable, for the idea of Iran acquiring nukes is very popular in Iran, even among the democratic opposition, the new government will hopefully be one that can be trusted with nuclear weapons as much as Pakistan’s Musharraf is.

      Insupport of my thesis I can offer this: The United States has approved a third term of office for Mohamed El Baradei, who previouskly had been accused of being to lax in regards to the Mullahs. In my interpretation this means that the US is willing to take negotioations as far as possible, in the hope of delaying the development of nucklear weapons, while pursuing some other actions against them we don’t know about yet. Maybe they are trying to put pressure on Putin, so that he won’t help the Mullahs get nukes after all.

    5. Kevin Fleming Says:

      Iran committed an act of war in November, 1979, when “students” seized the US embassy and took 52 occupants hostage. Our response was capitulation. It was one of many acts against the West by islamofascists worldwide, both before and since, but the seemingly disparate actions were not connected until 9/11 (and remain separate unrelated ‘crimes’ to some).

      WF Buckley wrote at the time that the President should declare war on Iran, and prepare for war against them. Our failure to respond to violence merely delayed the inevitable fight, and gave these malefactors reason to supect we were weak enough to threaten.

      And here we are. Must we wait for another slap on the head to respond? (The next slap will be really, really loud, and hot.) If so, why?

      Sorry, Mr. Sulaiman, this is one war, but many fronts. Just like the last three.

    6. Lex Says:

      OK, Kevin, this is one of those rare and precious moments when I agree with Sulaiman. What do propose the United States actually do to prosecute what you call a war against Iran?

    7. Val Says:

      The chickens are coming home to roost. Perhaps it is too late for patching the flawed grand strategy and to ask our poor lame duck president for miracles. We have had this conversation too.

      I am fascinated by the incongruity of “we’ll nuke them out of the face of the earth if …” posturing, when we are still bending backwards to please Muslims:

      Then the insanity really begins. The guard is directed to don “clean gloves … in full view of the detainees prior to handling.” He must use “two hands … at all times when handling the Quran in manner signaling respect and reverence.”

      Add to this the background of GitmoGulag and ever increasing Muslim hate. Give me a break!

      Occupation and nation/democracy building in one country that would then expand to a region is too slow a process (I’m assuming it works for the sake of argument) to have the immediate results our people seems to require. Doing it while leaving two big enemies unscathed had to be full of consequences. We planned for a battle in Iraq instead of a campaign against Iraq, Syria and Iran.

      Jon, thanks for the good link as ChicagoBoyz is the only blog I visit nowadays. By the way, I posted something similar to this a few days ago.

    8. Kevin Fleming Says:

      Lex, Like WW2 was in part fought to complete what WW1 delayed, we are now fighting what was merely deferred over the past 20 years. We missed the most obvious opportunity to defeat them in 1979. My point to Mr. Sulaiman is that engaging Iran is not a second war, but part of the same war we have been involved with for 26 years or more, whether we wish it to be true or not.

      Recognizing we are at war does not mean we bomb them or send troops today, but it is what our mindset must be. I agree with Jonathan’s post:

      I think Wretchard frames the issues accurately. It is tempting to think we will muddle through in realpolitik fashion and reach some kind of accommodation with the Iranian mullahs. They will have nuclear weapons but we will be OK, because they won’t dare to use them, because we would respond with overwhelming force, etc. That’s wrong. We already tried containment and it didn’t work. For years we were attacked by terrorists and looked the other way, or interpreted the attacks as criminal in nature (and therefore lacking in broader geopolitical implications), or rationalized non- or token reactions.

      I ask not for boots on the ground, but the difficult acceptance of the idea that we are at war. No one argues that requires a certain mode of battle, but it does require recognition of the fact. The alternatives, given the failure of diplomacy, are appeasement or surrender, as the post suggests.

    9. Lex Says:

      Kevin, as long as you are not suggesting we invade Iran anytime soon, or start dropping bombs on them anytime soon, which would lead to a land war with them fought in Iraq, I have little objection to any of that.

      I disagree that Iran is not a good candidate for a containment policy. The mullahs may well fall to the ongoing popular opposition. If we start a shooting war with Iran, the population will rally to the government. I believed there was an urgent need to invade Iraq when that war was being prepared, and subsequent facts and events have convinced me I was mistaken and we would have been better off not doing so. I think we should not be in any rush to take on a much, much more formidable enemy directly. We never invaded Russia, but we beat them. We should follow a similar course with Iran. In other words, contra Jonathan, I think containment is precisely the policy we should be following with Iran.

    10. Steve Says:

      The credible threat of Kevin’s hard power adds steel to Lex’s strategic containment. The two can work hand in hand.

      However, to Lex’s point, “If we start a shooting war with Iran, the population will rally to the government.” I wonder if the people of Iran would perceive mere “containment” as any less threatening than open war. I think most nations would perceive both naval blockades and economic sanctions as acts of war.

      It seems our challenge is to hit the mullahs where it hurts without riling the populace in any way. This post reveals that’s a tight needle-hole to thread.
      -Steve

    11. Kevin Fleming Says:

      Lex,
      I agree with you. My concern is that the islamofascist threat will be treated much as the communist threat was in the mainstream press: ignored or ridiculed. We still don’t teach schoolchildren about Stalin, Mao, and 100 million deaths; instead we tell kids about McCarthy, the ‘red scare’, and the many evils of the US.

      Now the press says we’re being mean to muslims at Gitmo, but pays no attention to the anti-christian anti-Israel anti-West behaviors of the many jihadists. It’s the mindset that, at a minimum, Iran is a potential danger to the US that is needed. Without it, I fear we’ll have Iran’s next message to us brought to us in a suitcase.

    12. Lex Says:

      Kevin, I agree, and I blame Mr. Bush to a large degree. By calling all this the “war on terror” he is dodging what it really is, or should be.

      The best hope we have on that score is the continuing development of new media. This will probably not create a general awareness of the reality out there, since people read things which reinforce what they already think mostly, but at least it will allow many people to become aware of these realities. It would be great if more people knew about what a rotten place Iran has become, and how bad its government it. That would help.

      As to them giving someone a suitcase nuke, I’m not horribly worried about it. I think their nukes will be aimed more at making a conventional attack by the US too risky. If they tried the sneaky nuke trick and we figured out where it came from, and we apparently have ways of doing this, we’d annihilate them and they know it. Same thing if they used one on Israel — the Israelis would destroy Teheran and kill millions of people in response, which would effectively destroy the Iranian regime. I don’t think the mullahs are suicidal. They are like the old Soviet nomenklatura. They like being in charge, they like reserving all the good jobs for their families, they like the life. All that said, I’d like them not to have any nuclear weapons, but I don’t see any practical way of forcibly stopping them.

    13. Jonathan Says:

      Lex et al:

      -We’re already at war with Iran. They have been fighting it via proxies in Iraq, Hezbollah, etc., and by gaming the international arms-control bureaucracy against us. We lose nothing by acknowledging the obvious.

      -Invasion is a straw man. We should consider bombing nuclear facilities even if we don’t know where all of them are. We should consider other kinds of direct attacks on military targets. We should do the same for Syria, which is Iran’s ally. The idea is to impose costs on these countries until they change their governments.

      -I’d like to have the Iranian people on our side, and we should do more to support them against the mullahs. But if the Iranian people turn against us that’s just too bad. Our goal here should be our own security, as it is in Iraq. Promoting democracy is a means to that end, and is the best way to go if it works, but we should not let our desire to promote democracy, or to stay in the good graces of the Iranian public, deter us from protecting ourselves.

      -Containment won’t protect us from surreptitious nuke attacks. In the days of the USSR, if a bomb exploded in NYC we would have known whom to retaliate against. Nowadays we might not, and that makes nuclear attacks more likely. That’s going to be true as long as Iran has nuclear bombs, and certainly if Iran has both nuclear bombs and an Islamist dictatorship. Our best protection against those bombs is to make sure they aren’t made, and that probably means we’re going to have to use force to prevent them from being made.

      -In a complex situation where you can’t easily figure out what to do, but you can identify your enemies, it’s not a bad strategy to ask what your enemies want you to do and then to do the opposite. The Iranian regime obviously doesn’t want us to act militarily, but is quite willing to keep talking. Looks to me that they believe that the situation we think of as “containment” would be favorable to them. [corrected 6/16 – JG]

      Val:

      Thanks. I read your post.

    14. Jonathan Says:

      Lex, your last comment deserves a point-by-point response:

      As to them giving someone a suitcase nuke, I’m not horribly worried about it. I think their nukes will be aimed more at making a conventional attack by the US too risky.

      1) You may be wrong, 2) I don’t think we should run the risk and 3) I think it’s in our interest to be seen as not willing to run the risk. The mullahs have announced that they will use nuclear bombs against Israel. I take them at their word.

      If they tried the sneaky nuke trick and we figured out where it came from, and we apparently have ways of doing this, we’d annihilate them and they know it.

      Would we? We’d kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians? I’m not so sure, and, more important, I’m not sure that it’s obvious to our enemies. Remember that Sept. 11 shouldn’t have happened, because after all who would be suicidal enough to provoke the wrath of the USA? I don’t want to bet the ranch on their following the same logic we would follow.

      Same thing if they used one on Israel — the Israelis would destroy Teheran and kill millions of people in response, which would effectively destroy the Iranian regime. I don’t think the mullahs are suicidal.

      Maybe, maybe not. Israel is tiny. It wouldn’t take many nuclear bombs to destroy the society. From the POV of the mullahs it might be a risk worth running (and if not for the current group of mullahs, perhaps for future ones). The odds may be low but I think it’s unwise to dismiss them.

      They are like the old Soviet nomenklatura. They like being in charge, they like reserving all the good jobs for their families, they like the life. All that said, I’d like them not to have any nuclear weapons, but I don’t see any practical way of forcibly stopping them.

      The old Soviet rulers were generally prudent, but they took some huge risks from time to time. And dictatorships can turn on a dime, policywise, if they decide to. I don’t think the Cold War is a good model for the way we should live, going forward; nor do I think its supposed security is attainable, given the distributed nature of nuclear weapons in the modern world.

    15. Lex Says:

      Let’s assume I’m totally wrong. What, concretely, do you propose to do about Iran that Bush is not doing.

    16. Jonathan Says:

      Bomb suspected nuke sites.

    17. Sulaiman Says:

      Watch the “election” results in Iran this Friday. A low turnout will undermine the regime from within. And a divided vote for the old guard will be equally devastating.

      I also happen to agree with Jonathan that the US has been at war with Iran — actually for the past 26 years. It is just not a hot war. The time for hot war will come when the moment is right if the Iranian regime manages to survive in the next 3 to 5 years and does not change.

      Also a successful constitution and another round of election in Iraq (and the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan this fall) will send big shock waves in the region. And with Syria cracking and Egypt busy flirting with real democracy, the political landscape of the Middle East in a year time might be completely different from today’s.

      A little bit of patience before sending the marines might have some payoff.

    18. ed in texas Says:

      I personally think invading Iran would a folly of huge magnitude. We would go from being perceived by the current generation of Iranians as a voice of progress heard from afar to being the enemy at hand. In any case, Iran may find possession of nukes to to not be the panacea they think. (They’ve certainly helped the foreign policies of Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea, haven’t they?) If you use them, everyone knows where to retaliate, and your powerless allies can’t seem to understand why you won’t use them.

    19. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Jon, Bombing is an act of war.

      You write as if containment were a failure. It wasn’t. Compared to the alternative, all out war with the Sovs, it achieved its goals with far fewer killed and far less destruction. Containment was a terrific success, although it took 50 years to show full results and tens of millions died within the Communist countries themselves.

      From a practical point of view, I don’t believe we even have weapons capable of destroying a deeply buried facility. The alternative is to attack all tunnel entrances with conventional high explosive weapons, but you still need excellent intel as to the number and exact locations, something I highly doubt we have.

      Finally, Iran has the most developed political system of any ME country outside of Turkey. They also have a very young population not terribly enamored of the Islamic government. We’re more likely to see political change occur in Iran as a result of internal pressures than any other comparable ME nation.

      However, even if serious political change comes to Iran, don’t expect to see them renounce nuclear weapons. It’s my understanding (from what I’ve read) that the nuclear weapons development program is highly popular and well supported within the population at large.

      Nukes are here to stay among the world’s nations. We’re going to have to learn to adjust to that. We can’t simply pre-emptively attack every nation that develops nukes, unless we’re prepared to make enemies of the entire world. Don’t think a coaltion cannot effectively form against the US. It can. It’s happened to major powers before and it can happen again.

      We’re all stuck on this boat together. To the greatest extent possible we need to work with others to achieve consensus. Sometimes problems need to reach crisis proportions before a consensus can be achieved. However, once achieved, mountains can be moved as everyone will be pulling in the same direction. Franklin Roosevelt understood this political reality. The US did not enter WWII until after Pearl Harbor.

      Al Queda would not hesitate to use a nuclear weapon in a American City. Of course, they won’t be anywhere to be found when it’s time for retribution for that act. Notice how quickly they faded into the mountains in Afghanistan. The Iranian mullahs are a different story. They have a home address.

    20. Lex Says:

      What Michael said.

      Bombing suspected Iranian nuke sites would (1) probably not work, (2) isolate the USA even more than it is, (3) lead to active Iranian involvement in our Iraq experiment up to and including an invasion by them. I see zero utility to doing this, and lots of downside. I am pretty darn hawkish and I think this would be a terrible idea. I don’t think Bush could get any support for this here at home, and absolutely nothing abroad. Fortunately, I see no evidence that anything remotely like this is even under discussion.

    21. John Says:

      They will have nuclear weapons but we will be OK, because they won’t dare to use them, because we would respond with overwhelming force, etc.

      Even if a terrorist nuclear bomb vaporized NYC, I think that a huge portion of the American population would blame ourselves. Would there really be the willingness to destroy Iran (or whatever the offender nation is) in the way that this was a certainty during the Cold War? I’m not sure.

    22. mariana Says:

      “You write as if containment were a failure. It wasn’t.”

      Containment was a failure when it comes to terrorists. 911 is proof of that. Is it possible to deter a suicide bomber? I’m not so sure. Besides if our policy is containment, then why are we still letting in lots of Muslims whose attitudes toward Al Qaeda are known only to them?

    23. Brett Bellmore Says:

      “Jon, Bombing is an act of war.”

      So is supporting the insurgency in Iraq. We’re in a hot war right now with Iran and Syria, we’re just declaring their territory off limits.

    24. Bruce Chang Says:

      Overt physical warfare would not be the best way to carry out this campaign. Having already shown the world what the US is capable of, militarily, it now stands to reason that we must use a completely different tactic while they prepare to fight last year’s war.

      The answer, then, is to increase soft power projection. More Voice of America, more MTV, more Coca-Cola bottling plants, etc. Whatever support wee can drum up from India would also be beneficial, as there is quite a bit of cultural cross-pollination from South to Southwest Asia.

      Lastly, we should encourage Iranian expatriates to go back and sow the seeds of discontent.

    25. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Containment was a failure when it comes to terrorists. 911 is proof of that.

      Actually, I’m not arguing for containment per se. I was simply pointing out that containment was not a failure, as Jon seemed to imply.

      The roots of ME terrorism lie in political repression and lack of socio-economic progress. Changing the political dynamics in South Asia and the ME is the most likely long term solution to the terrorism problem. Ignoring the problem, as the world has succeeded in doing for fifty years, is no longer possible. That much is self evident. How we best achieve that change is up for debate.

      One of the reasons we succeeded in the Cold War was that the Western Allies coordinated their policies toward the Soviets and the Chinese. That precluded the communists ability to go around a particular nations policy or to effectively play one nation against another for their benefit. A similarly coordinated policy among Western nations could be very effective in forcing democratizing political change in the ME.

      Like it or not, if we’re going to conduct an effective policy in the ME we’re going to have to coordinate and cooperate with others. Charging off like the Lone Ranger into Iran won’t get us any closer to that goal. It will, in fact, have the opposite effect. Countries that have so far remained basically neutral may well begin actively working against us. The degree of chaos in the ME will simply double, it will increase exponentially. We will also lose all credibility among the very people we’re trying to persuade, the Arabs and Muslims. We will be seen not as a savior but The Great Threat. You’ve got to think past the immediate and look at the political and strategic repercussions of actions. Not simply what appears to be near term tactical advantage.

    26. Sulaiman Says:

      Michael – also, no one in the region will cooperate with the US. Not the Gulf states, not Kuwait, not Saudi Arabia, not Turkey, not UK, definitely not the rest of Europe, not India, and for Mushraff of Pakistan it would be a suicide mission politically and physically. All these countries know that America does not have a large army to stay for a long time and occupy Iran as well … they can see it in Iraq today and who wants to be on the losing side when you know you will have to deal with Iran when Americans pack and leave. In fact, some of these countries might actively oppose America because they are rightly worried about their own future. Furthermore, sending a ground force to Iran prematurely will undermine the weak and emerging democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Our ambitions should match our resources … otherwise we are doomed. At the end of WWII and during Korean War wiser American heads prevailed. They knew they could not fix all problems at once but they also knew that with patience they would win the day. We should take a page from their book. One war at a time, Mr. President.

    27. Ken Says:

      I’m not worried about the Iranians using nukes against us. I’m worried about the Iranians feeling immune to conventional invasion and sponsoring conventional attacks against us and Iraq.

      Also, if we don’t use force to stop the mullahs from getting nukes, we’re telling the world that we don’t have any more strength left. We might as well put up a “hit me” sign. A “war on terror” where we sit back and watch some of the worst of the bad guys get nuclear weapons is a losing war.

      (If we are out of strength, we’re screwed any one of several ways. The latest recruiting numbers are kind of scary. I wonder if going back on the offensive in Iran will boost recruiting or depress it further…)

    28. Sulaiman Says:

      mariana – I have a better solution for your concerns. Why not intern all Americans of Muslim descent (and perhaps those terrorist Mexicans too) somethwere in the middle of a desert?

      Do you realize how many Muslims – of American descent or native Muslims – are helping the US fight the war on terror? I don’t think you realize that this fight is not America’s alone. People across the world are trying to fight this virus using different means. And they have been fighting it for much longer than America.

    29. GUYK Says:

      Ken, the sleeping giant is not aroused yet. The 9-11 attacks stirred up the public for a few days however there were a significant number even then of the left wing that were against any action against the Taliban claiming there was no proof!

      What will it take to completely wake the public to the threat of Islamic extremists? This is not a new war. Muslem terrorists have been attacking the western world for decades, mostly Israelis but often times Americans and Europeans. The public wrung hands and said how terrible it was. The left wing blamed America for being selfish warmongering capitalists, and within a few days something else made the headlines.

      The next attack may well be a suitcase nuke or a big one in a shipping container that takes out a major port city. Then what? All out war on Islam?

      For us or against us may well be the only answer to winning the war with the Islamic extremists. Moslem countries who refuse to ally will be considered enemy countries. There can be no holds barred and no half stepping as in Iraq to protect a civilian population. To win it has to be all out war. I shudder at the alternative and am to damn old to learn to speak Arabic, let alone kneel on a prayer rug facing the east.

    30. David Foster Says:

      People talk about “deterrence” and “retaliation” in a cold and clinical way. We need to understand what these things really mean.

      In this context, they mean launching a hydrogen bomb that will kill millions of people–most of whom are completely innocent.

      We should be willing to take many other risks in order to avoid situations in which this action would become necessary.

    31. mariana Says:

      Cute, Sulaiman. Cute. Why don’t you ask me whether I still beat my wife next? Do you realize how ridiculous your post was? You never answer using logic or reason. You just lash out. It’s a sign of weakness.

      Someone remind me. During the Cold War or WWII did we allow lots of Germans and Russians to enter the US? No. As far as I’m concerned, American Muslims are innocent until proven guilty, but the majority of Muslims in the rest of the world are suspect particularly those poor people in places like Saudi Arabia who’ve been brainwashed. I really only have hope right now for the people of Iran and Iraq even though the Sunnis are still holding out. Most especially the Iranians though because they’ve seen what religious rule is like and from everything I’ve read and heard, it’s largely discredited there now. If they can throw off the mullahs, they’ve got an excellent future ahead of them. Anyway, if another attack does occur involving large numbers of deaths (something I consider inevitable), substantial majorities will come to the same conclusion. I’ve never seen a poll on this issue though. I suspect large numbers of Americans would already favor limits.

      Instead of being offended by my logical concern, help me figure out why Islam since its inception has been picking fights with basically all world religions, so the fights can stop.

    32. Bob Says:

      We have been in a war with Iran since 1979. Time to end it.

      Our air and naval forces are not engaged in Iraq at all. Our ground forces destroyed the Iraqi Army in 3 weeks. So it would take 4 to do Iran?

      Seriously, how can anyone think we can’t defeat Iran without resorting to nukes, Iraq or not.

      Do we have the political will? That’s a question I can’t answer.

    33. Richard Heddleson Says:

      OK, Bob, defeat Iran’s military. Agreed, it’s easy. Then what? Withdraw and let the devastated country recover by itself? Stick around to fix up every thing that’s broken under guerilla fire the whole time?

      How about telling Livermore to start R&D on wide area neutron munitions?

      I’m as angry as anybody but directionless beligerence is of little value.

      I think we can defeat Iran by waiting for the mullahs to get too old to defend themselves from the Iranian people and the Iranian people getting fed up with senile mullahs. The United Kingdom is no longer a Commonwealth. Rusia is no longer run by the Communist Party. (The KGB? Well, that is a different story) These wacko regimes can’t last domestically. That’s why they try foreign adventurism to distract the folks at home from the unkept promises. But soonere or later it catches up with them. We’ve got Iran surrounded, literally. They can’t do much except terrorism, which doesn’t seem to work well any more. We can wait them out.

    34. Ken Says:

      “OK, Bob, defeat Iran’s military. Agreed, it’s easy. Then what? Withdraw and let the devastated country recover by itself? Stick around to fix up every thing that’s broken under guerilla fire the whole time? ”

      The second option seems better. The same characters will be staging the “insurgency” either way, they’ll just be covering a larger area. Some of them are Iranians anyway, and others are foreigners.

      Expanding our area of occupation isn’t going to magically create a whole new batch of insurgents. Only a minority of people are actually enraged by an invasion and occupation by the United States, which historically has been the best thing ever to happen to…. just about everywhere it’s happened. That minority is already busy blowing things up. Might as well make them cover a bigger area.

      “I think we can defeat Iran by waiting for the mullahs to get too old to defend themselves from the Iranian people and the Iranian people getting fed up with senile mullahs.”

      Mullahs with nukes, no matter how old, are much harder to overthrow than mullahs without them.

    35. Ginny Says:

      Today four senators, two Republican, put forward a bill to make Bush name a date when all (ALL) troops are coming home from Iraq. Of course, this is pathetic. Of course it won’t pass. But how in the hell does anyone think Bush will make any overt actions in Iran? And wouldn’t a more subtle policy of help to their rebels put us in better favor both now & in the future? Right now what needs to be done is probably not public nor talk. I can’t imagine this is very helpful to our cause.

    36. Sulaiman Says:

      mariana – I don’t think you put out logic here — you stereotype whole groups of people and seem to believe in guilt by association.

      Neither am I here to defend Islam. I am a Deist – in the mold of American founding fathers – and FYI every religion throughout history has been used for political ends. The crusades killed more Christians than “Muslims” could ever imagine. Please read your history before making more generalizations.

      Saudi Arabi, the poor, etc. >> it is not the poor that attacked the US on 9/11. Most of them were rich and pampered kids who played around in the gutters of the Western World. The oil nexus has tied the US to the most horrific regime, that of Saudi Arabia, in that part of the world. As long as we need to do business with them, they will be more than happy to channel their petrodollars into “Islamic charities” that finance terror. Islamic world itself is a much much bigger victim of petroldollars than the West. Your cheap shots at the poor, Mexicans or the “brainwashed in Saudi Arabia” (sorry, there are no poor people in the petrodollar kingdom), is not logic or reason. It is cheap shots … a reflection of ignorance (I won’t call it racist because I do not claim to know your motivation).

    37. mariana Says:

      If you think I stereotype whole groups, then you have poor reading skills. Something that is born out by your entire post.

      Regarding your commentary about the poor and Saudi Arabia. Here is dictionary.com’s definition of poor.

      8. “Eliciting or deserving pity; pitiable: couldn’t rescue the poor fellow.”

      This is what I meant by the poor people in Saudi Arabia. I feel bad for them. Many of the Palestinians are brainwashed as well. I feel bad for them as well, but I don’t think we should let lots of them in. Someone who feels that blowing oneself up to kill someone else is noble or good, then that person is, at least in my book, brainwashed. From what I’ve read, a significant chunk of the people flooding Iraq are Saudis.

    38. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Interesting comments from an interview with Christopher Hitchens:

      Peter Robinson: Now my colleague at the Hoover Institution, Abbas Milani himself an Iranian who spent some time in the Shah’s jails, points out or argues that the young people in Iran and the population–well over half the population is twenty-five or younger–is immensely favorably disposed with the United States, that what we ought to be doing is engaging in a kind of rhetorical comradeship with the democracy movement and waiting. That the principal job of the Bush Administration is to show its friendship toward the young people of Iran and not mess it up. Do you agree?

      Christopher Hitchens: I’m very much of your friend’s opinion. I grew this beard on the advice of a graduate student of mine, an Iranian, who was my guide. He said if you want to go to the Friday prayers and the death to America events, you better look as scruffy as you can. So I did and so did he. But–and it seemed to work but also it made life very difficult. Often taxis wouldn’t stop for us because they thought we were Hezbollah. And relatives of his would say, you know, (we went to dinner with them) “Can’t you shave that off? You look like some Islamic republic nightmare. You could get spat on, you know.” It’s…the hatred for the regime among the young is a delightful thing to see as is the friendship towards the United States. And I have a word for it–it’s the baby boomerang.

    39. mariana Says:

      BTW I’m dying to know when I’ve made cheap shots against the poor or Mexicans. The last time we had this argument I advocated creating a Marshall Plan for Mexico. Taking a cheapshot at the poor must mean thinking we should spend money to provide clean water and sanitation for those in need in Mexico.

    40. Bob Says:

      “Withdraw and let the devastated country recover by itself?” Yes. Install an interim government and let the UN supervise elections. Iran has oil. It doesn’t have the tribal/ethnic problems that Iraq has. It hasn’t had a decade of sanctions. It can rebuild itself,

    41. Sulaiman Says:

      Bob – Iran does have ethnic problems. Arabs in the Southwest, Turkic people in Northwest, Balooch in the Southeast easily come to mind. Furthermore, the Ayatollahs did some really nasty things to religious minorities such as Zorastrians and Bahais in the early 80’s. And the children of Afghan refugees from the Soviet era occupation (large number born in Iran) have been barred from going to school and general use of public services — similar to some calls made here on this page regarding illegal immigrants in the US.

      Islamic world, unlike the picture painted by some in the West, is full of colors in terms of ethnicity, religious beliefs, etc.

    42. A Scott Crawford Says:

      Michael H. wrote: “The roots of ME terrorism lie in political repression and lack of socio-economic progress. Changing the political dynamics in South Asia and the ME is the most likely long term solution to the terrorism problem. Ignoring the problem, as the world has succeeded in doing for fifty years, is no longer possible. That much is self evident. How we best achieve that change is up for debate.”

      Michael this is not an accurate statement. The roots of ME terrorism in the modern era lie in the successful use of guerilla tactics and tribal auxiliaries by the British against the Turks (read, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”), and the subsequent success the Zionists had using those same tactics against the British. The lesson learned was that if one cannot win directly, the next best tactic is to use terrorism, ideally via a controlled proxy using a religious or racial pretext (Lawrence and the Brits created “Arab Nationalism” to use against the Turks). After sucessive loses to the Israelis, and with winks from both the US and USSR as long as the targets were colonial Europeans, terroristism became the tacit of choice. It was successful in Algeria against the French, in Arabia against the Brits, in Lebanon against the US, and etc. The only relation to political repression and poverty is a surplus of ignorant, disposable dupes for recruiting purposes.

      Having personally survived a suicide bombing in South Asia, and having worked in the region for several years, I assure you that poor Muslims in S Asia do not dream of coming to the West to blow things up and murder people. Ask 100 people in Calcutta or Jakarta or Dhaka slums what they’d do with a single wish, and 95 of them will answer that they’d wish for their children to be educated. I’m sorry, but you should reflect on your willingness to believe that poor Muslims are any different from poor Christians or Hindus or Buddhists.

    43. A Scott Crawford Says:

      Jonathan…

      I respectfully disagree with you regarding Iran, as well as regarding the principal problem in the ME.

      First. The moment the Israeli’s beleived that Iran was close to having nukes, they’d have already bombed Iran while the US was wasting breath with the Europeans. Just because Israel has not flexed its muscles for a while there’s no reason to think they’ve gone soft. Iranian nukes are a threat to Israel’s existence, and as such are beyond American vetos.

      Second. It has not been lost on Iranians that both Afghani and Iraqi refugees are leaving Iran to the east, west, and north. Nor was Terhans man Al Sadr able to generate grassroot popular support, another detail. Nor can Tehran censor the footage of the ritual festivals to the Shia holy sites in Iraq. There is a moderate center in Iran, that has yet to make up it’s mind. None of this recommends the US over-react or act in a way that stirs up the Iranian-Iraqi border.

      Three. The Iranians are not the primary source of ME terrorism. They are not behind the Taliban nor OBL, nor are they underwriting global jihad.

      Four. The House of Saud is the problem. They are the organizers and financiers. It is they that thought to ape the Jesuits. And they will continue their cynical game because they believe they are untouchable. They control Mecca, Medina, the Haj, and the worlds largest oil reserves, which means they control OPEC. When one admits that all roads lead to the Saudis, the US global strategy starts to make sense.

    44. wing man Says:

      the best way to win this war in the me is to win the people the war is fought using the people the terrist need a large number of pissed off muslim kids to use for there suicide bombings but if we worked on the hearts or these young muslims terrist orgs would find there biggest assest the hearts and mind of these young kids r gone same for iran and other regimes if we worked on being less hated we wouldnt need to go to war