None of these revelations [about the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program] matter because virtually no Western politician can ever use force again to prevent a regime, even one openly dedicated to terrorism, from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The subject is verboten because the Left has declared it so. Unless something radically changes, it is only logical to prepare for the consequences of this head-in-the-sand policy, a possible catastrophe beside which September 11 will diminish into insignificance. Perhaps this event is already inevitable and those future victims beyond saving. But even so, it is important to begin the work of opening our eyes now, so that we might avoid the blindness which took the world of the 1930s and the 1990s over a cliff. Some mental disease in Western culture has allowed it to stand idly by while evil grew to monstrous proportions around and within it; an infirmity dignified with the name of pacifism. Perhaps it has already killed some of us reading this post; and the least we can do, if our final moments come, is to realize why we died.
UPDATE: Sen. Hagel thinks we should stop appeasing Iran via European surrogates, and instead should appease Iran directly. (via The Corner)
17 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”
We survived the blindness of the ’30s because the oceans brought us time. Countries that had no ocean between them and the Germans (France, Belgium) did not survive the era of appeasement. (Russia, with its great landmass, survived, but just barely and at terrible human cost.)
I don’t think the oceans serve as nearly as much of a buffer today.
France and Russia did not succumb because they did not have an ocean but because they were not mentally prepared. Wretchard is issuing a call for mental preparedness of the sort missing in France and Rusia.
And Churchill spending the treasure and blood of the British Empire bought us the time in World War II to avoid the consequences of our lack of preparedness, not the oceans.
We weren’t very mentally-prepared, either, in 1940, and certainly not very physically-prepared from an armaments standpoint. Britain was in better shape than us, but without the English Channel–“the world’s best anti-tank ditch”–it’s unlikely that it would have survived.
If in fact “no Western politician can ever use force again to prevent a regime, even one openly dedicated to terrorism, from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” is a true statement (which I doubt and for which no supporting evidence is offered) it will not be because of anything the Left, whatever that means has done or said.
It will be because of Iraq nad its aftermath. It will be because we don’t have the troops or Americans no longer believe when their government tells them that a nation is developing WMDs and is a threat.
The vastness of two ocean barriers (“anti tank ditch”, how appropriate!) has indeed afforded us the luxury of an unserious view of the world, while being far more interested in important stuff like Britney.
But as I write this in the shadows of the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station, the thought occurs that were one of our patiently imbedded yet undetected al-Qaeda operatives manage to pop off a device in one of our buildings or train stations, some of those holding a candle for Mrs. Sheehan will be braying for government action that makes the Patriot Act appear rather tepid.
One day we will awaken from our stupor, however pronounced my fear is that it will require yet another calamity to convince the people that we are in fact no longer disconnected from the rest of the world.
I hope that Wretchard is wrong but fear he may be right. It’s the Left that has made WMD into a major political issue. By rushing to interpret the Bush administration’s actions WRT Iraq as dishonest and manipulative rather than as based on best-efforts judgments under uncertainty, the Left has raised the threshold of certainty that western leaders must now meet to justify politically any military action against enemies who may have WMD.
Our enemies are not likely to care that some Americans think the US govt lied. Nor are our enemies likely to become less dangerous to us if we replace our govt. They will only respond to force or credible threats of force. We should not make our threats of force less credible by hamstringing politicians with impossibly high standards of proof of the aggressive intent of our enemies.
There will be multiple next times and eventually one of them will involve an enemy armed with nuclear weapons. When that happens, I hope that we will have a low enough threshold for taking action.
I don’t know who the Left is, since neither you nor Wretchard bother to define it.
I do know that it was the Bush administration. repeatedly, that made WMDs the major issue. Surely you remember all that talk about mushroom clouds?
It’s not the Left’s fault (whoever you think they are) that Bush decided to invade even when the latest available intelligence (inspectors on the ground) was telling us there were no WMDs. Nor is it the Left’s fault that Bush decide to have a photo-op under the Mission Accomplished banner which most understood to mean the end of the war.
It is only natural, when things go wrong, to blame others. But it is not healthy. The pro war Right has been proven wrong on almost everything and now that a majority of Americans think they were misled, that support for Bush’s policies in Iraq are down to the 30s, and that even GOP politicians are beginning to talk of leaving Iraq it is understandable that the pro war crowd would rather pin this on others.
If Bush and those supporting him are concerned about how a drop in political support for armed responses could be affected maybe they should have thought of that before invading Iraq. It’s a little late for that now.
You refuse to blame the Left (= Democratic Party leadership + MSM + Soros + MoveOn.org + IndyMedia + etc.) for recklessly demonizing policy disagreements, but you are quick to blame the Administration and the Right for what are at worst errors only in hindsight (and maybe not even then). Perhaps you have forgotten that Bush based his case against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on other issues besides WMD, particulary support for terror, ongoing violations of the Gulf War cease-fire and refusal to comply with UN resolutions and weapons inspections. There was also the fact that the major European intelligence services and the Israelis concurred with our WMD assessment. Prominent Democrats agreed with the president. Given the best information available at the time, it made sense for us to use force to overthrow the Hussein regime. After-the-fact criticism based on information that wasn’t available then is worthless.
BTW, I think that our Iraqi operation still makes sense despite our various mistakes and miscalculations. I don’t think there was a better alternative.
And I don’t trust the poll results, which I suspect are heavily influenced by MSM bias. The poll that counts most is the 2004 election which ratified Bush’s plans. If Bush screws up in Iraq now, voters will punish Republicans in 2008. It’s too early to know how it’s going to turn out. I’m cautiously optimistic. A lot of people disagree with me. Fine. But it’s foolish to declare a crisis every time we go through a bad patch, as I think we have lately.
Talk about what we should have done is moot. We’d better win this war or it’s going to be a disaster worse than Vietnam. If you have suggestions for what to do next, I’m all ears. Arguing coulda/shoulda/woulda is a waste of time.
And of course, the topic of this post isn’t Iraq but Iran. I’m not very interested in arguing about our mistakes in Iraq. The Iranian mullahs are trying to get nuclear weapons and one of these days they will succeed. I want to know what we should do about it.
Well yes, I do tend to think that those that create and implement a policy are, in the end, responsible for the outcome of that policy. I consider that simply personal responsibility. It’s something I teach my children and something I try to live by, however imperfectly.
My focus was not to argue on reasons you or I think Bush went to war. We can always debate that if you want. I was simply pointing out that if Wretchard is right (and like I said I doubt it but let’s simply say so for argument’s sake) he has no one to blame but the arquitects of the Iraq policy. No one else.
(And I will point out that the “the available evidence showed they had WMDs ” line is simply false. The latest available evidence at the time of the invasion was that of the weapons inspectors who were reporting there were no WMDs. So references to what other intelligence agencies were saying with old information is not relevant. There was new information after that which the Bush administration chose to ignore.)
If Americans truly are unwilling to support an armed attack against Iran or some other such nation in the future it will not be because of anything the Democratic Party leadership + MSM + Soros + MoveOn.org + IndyMedia or anyone one else said. It will be because of what Bush did. Period.
If we had found WMDs, or if Iraq had not turned into the quagmire it is today, nothing any of those groups have said would have mattered. Bush’s Iraq approval rates instead of being in the 30s would be in the 60s. If Iraq turns around and we defeat the insurgents and we help establish a democratic Iraq that is an ally (in other words if everything Bush has promised turns out true) nothing those groups say will make any difference. Bush will have been proven right and Wretchard will not need to worry anymore.
This is squarely in Bush’s shoulders. If things go right he will rightly claim responsibility. But if things go wrong, as they seem to today, he is the one to blame.
As for your last point I hope we do win the war but, the reality is, we can lose it. It is a possibility. Even if we beat the insurgents there is a growing chance Iran will be the big winner here, having seen a strategic threat turned into an important ally. If the end result of this is a pacified Iraq with close links to Iran we will have lost, no matter how many insurgents we got rid of.
Just saw your last post.
I’ll simply add that although the topic is Iran the reason Wretchard is worried is due to Americans’ reactions to the Iraq war which he, strangely, blames on the Left instead of on the war’s outcome.
The Iranians will get the bomb. Let’s just assume that. The means to stop them don’t exist. We are not capable of a conventional invasion. We are completely consumed by the ongoing war in Iraq. Nor are we going to launch a nuclear attachk against potential weapons of mass destruction, especially since we invaded Iraq largely on that premise and it turned out were were largely wrong. Anyway, it is almost inconceivable that we will ever again initiate the use of nuclear weapons. So a decisive victory over Iran is not possible. What about something less than that? No. We do not have the means to destroy Iran’s nuclear program with conventional airpower. And if we tried we would leave them open to use all available means to harm us in response. They could interfere in Iraq, close the Strait of Hormuz with missiles and do many other things which would be very destructive to us.
So, Iran will get The Bomb. Then what?
It depends on whether you think the mullahs are more akin to the politburo of the USSR or more like al Qaeda. If the former, they don’t want to die and they don’t want their country destroyed. If so, they can be deterred from using their weapons. If deterrance fails, Iran will be annihilated. Would I prefer they not get the Bomb? Yes. Is there any realistic prospect of stopping them? No. Will the American public support this administration in a preemptive attack on Iran? No. Is this the fault of “the Left”? I don’t think so. I think it is the fault of the administration for waging this war in a fashion which is reasonably perceived as inept and dishonest. Whatever I may think about Mr. Bush, and I support him, the public has not got a deep reserve of trust in his judgment. Nor is this lack of trust groundless. So further ventures such as some kind of limited attacks on Iran will not be supportable by the American public. For this, the blame lies mainly on the Administration. It chose this war, and it has not handled it well, either militarily or politically. It may yet pull out a victory, a belated, expensive victory. But the freedom of action it had prior to the invasion of Iraq is gone.
It appears that the weakest of the three members of the Axis of Evil was strong enough to consume the bulk of American combat power in a low-cost insurgency. This is bad news for those who think there is a “”unipolar” world. Turns out the purported hegemon, despite immense military spending, is incapable of doing much with it to change the world for the better, at least not at a price the voting public is willing to pay for long. Iran would be monumentally more difficult. This shows it is probably just as well we didn’t invade Iran. Anyway, once they have the bomb, that option is off the table.
In the meantime, I am going to assume that the mullahs have the minimal rationality necessary to not be annihilated by a massive retaliatory strike by the USA and / or Israel.
Iran is a country with a governemnt. Deterrance will probably work. Moreover, it is a relatively backward country. It will never have anything remotely resembling the old Strategic Rocket Force of the USSR. So, there will be no MAD, even if the Iranians have some number of bombs and delivery vehicles. Deterrance will be one way. We should make it clear that we will destroy them totally and forever if they use a bomb. We should say it, mean it, and if necessary, do it.
-A threat by us to annihilate Iran if they use nukes, while at the same time we are not willing to use a much smaller amount of force against them now, would not be credible.
-Israel is a tiny country. Any nuclear attack that gets through could destroy it. Maybe no attacks will get through because of Israel’s anti-missile system. You think the Israelis are going to bet their society on ABMs? I hope they don’t. They might even help us in any attack we made against Iran.
-We don’t have to take over Iran or solve their nuclear problem forever. All we have to do is increase substantially their costs. That means it takes them 10 years instead of 5 (or whatever) to get bombs. Extending their development time by a few years makes it much more likely that they will democratize, or that other favorable geopolitical developments will occur before they get nukes.
-Yeah, they could retaliate against us by getting involved in Iraq or closing the Straits of Hormuz or whatever. But they’re already involved against us in Iraq. Are we supposed to avoid taking action because they might retaliate more? They should be more worried about us than we are about them.
-IMO you are systematically overweighting the risks of action and systematically underweighting the risks of inaction.
-“Deterrence will probably work” is to me an unacceptable prescription. The way I see it, a government that develops nuclear weapons while it makes existential threats against other countries should be considered to have signed its own death warrant. With your “deterrence,” we’re going to end up with multiple Irans, because every dicatator will know that he has a chance to get away with obtaining nukes as long as he is discrete, knows how to game the international inspections regime, is measured in his risk taking and doesn’t go out of his way to antagonize us. Worst that can happen to him under your system is that he crosses some line, we slap his wrist and he meekly complies, while waiting for us to let down our guard so that he can make some more steps to advance his agenda. With my deterrence, we make an example of the mullahs pour encourager les autres.
A measured response on our part is counterproductive. I don’t want these bastards to be deterred on the margin. I want them to be scared shitless about what might happen to them if they get on our wrong side, so they don’t even try, and so that the other bastards around the world who see Iran as an indicator won’t think it’s safe for them to try either.
You say that I don’t want these bastards to be deterred on the margin. I want them to be scared shitless about what might happen to them if they get on our wrong side, so they don’t even try, and so that the other bastards around the world who see Iran as an indicator won’t think it’s safe for them to try either.
So what, exactly, do you propose the US do today?
It’s very, very dangerous to conclude that since deterrence worked with the Soviet Union it will work with Iraq.
1)The leaders of the Soviet regime were atheists, concerned only with this life on earth: the leaders of the Iranian regime are theocrats, believing that life on earth is distinctly secondary to the afterlife.
2)The leaders of the Soviet regime were dialectical materialists, believing in an inevitable historical process which would move things their way: thus, they could afford to be patient. There’s no such concept in the belief structure of the Iranian leaders; quite the contrary.
3)The attitude of the American Left over the last decade, together with the visibility of that Left, would inspire doubt as to whether the US would actually respond with nuclear weapons to a limited Iranian nuclear attack: say, an EMP attack which would “only” destroy our economy.
4)Even with the unique characteristics I mentioned above, we got out of the Cold War era with our hides only with a certain amount of luck. There were many, many close calls.
Blaming the Left isn’t about avoiding responsiblity, as is implied (or atleast it shouldn’t be). It should be about preventing the need to place blame. The reasons that GT presents for diminished faith in our ability to effectively employ our military aren’t a result of the actions taken by the administration, they are a social constructs developed around them. Blaming the Left is a reasonable–however, ineffective–reaction to counter the development of this limiting mindset.
GT is right that the administration is ultimately responsible if it fails to counter this flawed logic that could tie our own hands. Simply pointing at the source of the problem isn’t the same as addressing the problem.
No Aaron, the diminished faith in our ability to effectively employ our military is very much a result of the actions taken by the administration. Namely the invasion of Iraq with no WMDs present and no end to the bloodshed. Without either of the two support would be much higher.
The Right will never fix the problems if it insists on blaming others.
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