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  • Messages to Ahmadinejad

    Posted by David Foster on November 20th, 2006 (All posts by )

    In 1933, the Oxford Union debating society considered a resolution: “This House will under no circumstances fight for King and Country.” It passed by 275 votes to 153. Apparently, Hitler was told of the passage of his resolution, and it encouraged him to believe that Britain would do nothing to interfere with his depradations. Many other events–in Britain, in France, and in the US–sent similar messages.

    Fast-forward to the present. Put yourself in the shoes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and consider what conclusions you might draw from recent events in the U.S.

    1)San Francisco decided to kill the Junior ROTC program in the high schools, despite the fact that this program was totally elective and was strongly supported by many students. “We need to teach a curriculum of peace,” said one teacher opposed to the ROTC program.

    2)The newly-empowered Charlie Rangel is introducing legislation to restore the draft. From the language Congressman Rangel has used to justify his proposal, it seems clear that he is far more interested in tying the hands of the President with regard to the use of military force than he is in increasing deployable troop levels.

    3)Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has been a strong supporter of Israel and a strong opponent of the misuse of “human rights” by UN committees and assorted dictators. Leading Democrats want to take him out of his job.

    4)Nancy Pelosi is apparently still supporting Alcee Hastings for chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, despite the fact that Hastings was impeached and removed from office when he was a federal judge. Pelosi evidently disapproves of ranking Democratic committee member Jane Harman because she has been insufficiently partisan. Pelosi’s behavior is certainly not that of a leader who is seriously concerned about threats to national security and wants to encourage a bipartisan pulling-together to meet those threats.

    5) Jimmy Carter, a former U.S. President, has just come out with a book that is vitriolically critical of Israel.

    If you are Ahmadinejad, what do events such as these tell about about the likelhood that the U.S. would take strong action to prevent you from obtaining nuclear weapons?…and from using these weapons against Israel? (for starters)

     

    30 Responses to “Messages to Ahmadinejad”

    1. a comment Says:

      Just what kind of strong action against Iran did you have in mind? Bombing its nuclear installations? Bombing suspected nuclear installations? With or without approval from our allies? Or did you have regime change in mind? Spell it out. Warmongers seem to be enamored of vague phrases like “strong action” and then when the US actually does take action, in the recent past it’s backfired. An invasion, for instance, would be a disaster for reasons that should be well known.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Interesting. Iran’s leaders avidly and openly pursue nuclear weapons and speak of using them against Israel, and are all but openly at war with us in Iraq, yet you see warmongers only in the USA.

      To answer your question (not that you asked me): yes, I would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. I would also bomb its oil terminals, and do whatever else I could to cut off its revenue stream, and i would institute a blockade to prevent Iran from importing refined fuels.

      Unfortunately our choices WRT Iran appear to be limited to fighting now, on our terms, or fighting later on someone else’s. Maybe you can explain why it’s so much worse to fight now. As you said, spell it out.

    3. William Says:

      When it comes to talk of nuclear powers in the Middle East, please consider the following public information:

      Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to officially confirm or deny having a nuclear arsenal, or to having developed nuclear weapons, or even to having a nuclear weapons program. Although Israel claims that the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona is a “research reactor,” no scientific reports based on work done there have ever been published. Extensive information about the program in Dimona was also disclosed by technician Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Imagery analysts can identify weapon bunkers, mobile missile launchers, and launch sites in satellite photographs. It is believed to possess nuclear weapons by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Israel may have tested a nuclear weapon along with South Africa in 1979, but this has never been confirmed (see Vela Incident). According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists, they possess 75-200 weapons.

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_nuclear_weapons

    4. Jonathan Says:

      Israel is a democracy run by reasonable people, an ally of the USA, and everyone knows they won’t use their nukes irresponsibly (they’ve had them for decades without incident). Iran is a dictatorship run by unreasonable people who have been at war against the USA for years and are threatening to blow up Israel as soon as they have the means to do so. I think it makes perfect sense to be concerned about Iranian nukes and not to be concerned about Israeli ones. Why do we owe a country run by hostile extremists any particular consideration?

    5. TDL Says:

      Iran has an unreasonable president, who does not have total power. The Soviets were more authoritarian than the Iranians (maybe more rational than the current Iranian admin. however,) yet we were able to find an equilibrium of sorts with them. I would imagine that the imams in power are far more concerned with the long term existence of their power and the economic concessions which they control than they are in actually wiping out Israel.

      Furthermore, which installations would be bombed? Does the U.S. and its allies even have an accurate list of all the necessary targets? Can these lists be verified to a degree necessary to risk military assets? Also, the notion of bombing oil terminals is not wise. Causing massive spikes in oil prices to bring down a regime (which is a temporary political reality anyways) is probably not very conducive to a long term solution to conflicts in the M.E. or other parts of the third world (nothing like causing a recession to say we care.)

      Lastly, I wouldn’t be quoting the NRDC or the FAS as credible sources, they are heavily biased organizations that are almost blindly anti-Israel. Just some thoughts.

      Regards,
      TDL

    6. TDL Says:

      A question for the author. Do you think that Ahmadinejad is actually paying attention to such small, local issues? I have to imagine that he would be looking for bigger signals from more important sources to inform his actions.

      Also, how much of this bluster do you think the imams will tolerate even if Ahmadinejad is one of their own?

      Regards,
      TDL

    7. Ginny Says:

      A book by an ex-president surely appears more important in Iran than it here: in a hierarchical society, ex-presidents are seen as quite weighty. A country with both the ambitions and fears Iran has would surely be interested in how we were presenting our case at the UN as well as the potential size of an American army. Rangel’s motives must prove a fertile field for analysis by the conspiracy-obsessed Middle East.

    8. David Gillies Says:

      I think the degradation of Iran’s oil production infrastructure is the key. We can weather a temporary blip in oil prices; the destruction of Washington or London or Tel Aviv is a different matter. Something not generally appreciated is that whereas Iran is a large crude oil exporter, it is an importer of refined petroleum products. We can interdict this supply with ease and bring the country to its knees even without necessarily flattening all its oil terminals.

    9. Ginny Says:

      Doesn’t anyone else think that alternative fuels are moving closer to being on-line, cars are becoming much more economical & shale is proving a rich source in the future. (Dots I’m connecting: not that huge a push to get oil on-line in Iraq, they are no longer drilling the hell out of Burleson County, and the cost of obtaining shale oil is going down quickly.) I don’t think the Middle East is going to have us over a barrel much longer.

      Last dot, Tom Hayden was raving on C-span over the week-end that we invaded Iraq for the oil, that oil is the obsession of the administration, that we import 100% of it, that . . . well, he got the past & the present really really wrong, I’m pretty sure he is getting the future wrong as well.

    10. TDL Says:

      Good point about Iran’s need to import petroleum products, it is my understanding that they have always relied on foreign sources for technical expertise and refined products. Interdiction is one thing (and that would work in the short term,) but I still believe it would be an intermediate term negative to take Iranian oil production off-line. I think the oil price rises that would result would hurt too many poorer economies (and I believe that would be more detrimental for any longer term strategic interests.) The developed world can weather the storm, but the developing world would get hit harder (and there already is an anti-U.S. bias in many of those environs.)

      Count me in as an optimist on alternative fuels. I’m no environmentalist, but I see the price mechanism of the market working. Substitutes and new habits will form as prices rise.

      Regards,
      TDL

      P.S. I just wanted to add a caveat, that I am opposed to military intervention in general. Just thought it would be appropriate to give the proper context to my comments.

    11. peter jackson Says:

      Do we have a problem with Iran’s oil infrastructure? No. Do we have a problem with their nuclear enrichment, per se? No. Do we have a problem with the Iranian military? No. And we certainly don’t have a problem with the Iranian people. So why attack any of these things?

      Our problem in Iran is Ahmadinejad, Khameini, and the Guardian council. Those are the targets we should kill, preferably in one fell swoop. We should then offer terms of conditional surrender to the Iranian legislature which include immediate open elections and a liberal restructuring of their executive and judicial institutions in exchange for never setting the first American boot on Iranian soil.

      Any other action that leaves the Iranian leadership intact is quite simply a recipe for more war under even less desirable conditions further down the road.

    12. comment Says:

      It’s nice to have TDL state opposition to military intervention in general. I think this used to be a more common sentiment in this country, even among the right.Yes, we have interests all over the world (Israel being a big one) and a military presence everywhere, but the principle used to be not to attack unless directly threatened. Hence some people supported the invasion of Iraq believing Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (though there was plenty of evidence at the time that he didn’t, which was swept away by the drumbeat of war).

      Even after the disaster in Iraq has proven that the Pentagon is incompetent, some are thirsting for it to bomb Iran. The latter is hostile to Israel and is trying to develop nuclear weapons, without success so far according to all accounts. I have no doubt that some warmongers in Iran would attack Israel if they could; and let’s assume that a threat to Israel is a threat to us. But what’s the best way to respond to the situation? Concerted sanctions apparently kept Saddam from building nukes. More importantly, would unilateral bomb dropping achieve what we want it to achieve, better than peaceful international efforts? How would it affect the 10 million Shiites in Iraq? Would it be the last word or would it escalate?

      The truth is that dropping bombs is fun. Little boys love to do it, and it’s what the Pentagon does best. Support for these kinds of actions comes from a perfect storm of 1) military people who want to play with their toys; 2) evangelicals who think the Last Days are being played out in the Middle East (I just read a bizarre essay by Jerry Falwell entitled “God is Pro War”); and 3) people who identify closely with Israel who want to use American military might to neutralize Israel’s enemies.

    13. aaron Says:

      That last comment was just funny. I wonder if a robot wrote it.

    14. aaron Says:

      Huh, there’s a delay in the appearance of comments. Thought my first attempt failed.

      Anyway, a Monte Carlo model could produce a better comment.

    15. Jonathan Says:

      I’m working on the comments problem.

    16. david foster Says:

      TDL…you point out that we were able to reach an equilibrium of sorts with the Soviets. Two points:

      1)The fact that catastrophe didn’t happen during the Cold War doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that we weren’t at severe risk. If you play Russian Roulette 10 times and are still alive, that doesn’t prove that it would be safe to continue playing.

      2)It’s unlikely that the Iranian regime is deterrable in the same way as the Soviet regime. The Soviets were formally atheists: even if this wasn’t really true of all individuals in the leadership, it’s unlikely that a vividly-portrayed afterlife played the same role in their thoughts that it does in the thoughts of the Iranian leadership. Also, the Soviets were dialectical materialists who believed in an inevitable process of history leading to their triumph, so it is unlikely that they would have been motivated to bring history to an end. In the case of the Iranian leadership, though, apocalyptic beliefs are strong.

    17. Jonathan Says:

      One factor in the Islamists’ motivation that I think westerners often do not consider adequately is a sense of urgency brought on by the fast pace of western cultural encroachment. Many of the western imports are highly beneficial, but some are harmful, and many western ideas, technologies and practices undermine the power of both current ruling establishments and Islamist challengers. So I suspect that in the outlook of the Iranian mullahs there is a consciousness of being in a race against time, much as some of us in the West see the same race from a different perspective.

      Claudio Veliz has touched on these issues. So has Thomas Barnett, who uses the term “soft kill” to denote a strategy by which we would finesse our response to Iranian hostility in the short run, with the understanding that in the long run strong forces of economic globalization would eventually overwhelm the mullahs’ dictatorship. I do not share Barnett’s confidence in our ability to protect our interests without confronting the mullahs, but I think he is essentially right about the long-term weakness of the Islamists against the West’s surging productivity and culture. Since the Islamists, including Iran’s mullahs, may have only a brief historical window in which to have a chance to prevail, it may be reasonable from their POV to take us on sooner rather than later. I think we should be prepared.

    18. werner Says:

      This is the first time I see the destruction of Iranian oil infrastructure being considered.
      That makes a lot of sense to me.

      1. It would wipe out their economy. Even North Korea wants to be paid in cash. It will set the economic interests of all Iranian classes against the regime (forget about the pro-democracy students, I bet the merchants have more clout).

      2. Oil prices will go sky-high, but it may save us from a six month bombing camapign or invasion, which would be just as expensive in monetary terms, vastly more expensive in lives AND cause prices to explode anyway, and for a long time. A long campaign would also be hard on the nerves of our more fickle citizens, but taking out the oil…what´s done is done.

      3. We can afford it better than the rest of the world. If you worry abour poor citizens being hit hardest, let them be compensated. It´s only money. If you are not ready to forego one or two month´s wages to avoid a nuclear Iran, you don´t know a good deal when you see it

      4. Once Iran has nuclear weapons, they can threaten the Gulf states and traffic in the Persian Gulf, so we will not get around that problem anyway.

      5. The European “allies” are not even considering light economic or political sanction at this point, despite the failure of years of diplomacy. So much for soft power. My country of Germany is Iran´s biggest trading partner and the possibility of sanctions is not seriously discussed. But you don´t need allies for bombing the oil terminals.

      6. Our disregard for oil prices would send a message to China, Europe and India, who will hurt as much or more: the next time the US tries to defuse a global threat, you be more helpful. This is not a spectator sport. It would in effect spread around the cost of dealing with Iran, which seems fair.

      7. Obviously, Iran will need outside help to restore its infrastructure. The US can put up enough of a blockade to give the Iranian people a clear choice.

      8. Syria and Hezbollah will be weakened almost immediately as a result.

      The Downside? It will put more money in the pockets of oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela. But that may happen anyway once nuclear blackmailing starts in earnest. Deal with it: these countries are oil-rich adversaries one way or the other.

      Iran might strike back with acts of terror, but they are either doing their worst already or they will sooner or later. A regime that has already announced its willingness to use nukes in an aggressive way can hardly up the ante.

      The Iranian people will suffer even more hardship. The duration would be largely up to them. Humanitarian help on a large scale must be provided if circumstances allow.

      It would be wonderful if we could just wipe out the leaders, as one commenter here suggested. If it were practical, I would be all for it. Of course, that would upset Human Rights Watch and the World Community ™. In fact, I fear we will do nothing at all.

      Oil is their source of power, but we have the power to take it away. And the reason why we will not do that, are not even thinking about it, shows why we are fully capable of losing.

    19. Sandy P Says:

      Take out their source of revenue and the UN and the anti-Americans will be out in droves, we’re starving the children!

      The saudis have already said massive transfers of wealth will be needed when oil is no longer needed.

    20. peter jackson Says:

      It would be nice to think that taking away the mullahs’ oil teat would result in the Iranian people eating the mulahs within six months, but I fear that wouldn’t happen. I fear that America would be blamed by the people and not the mullahs. We know what drum the mullahs themselves would be beating.

      What compels my fear has been our experience during the occupation of Iraq. We destroyed their economy and it hasn’t worked out to well for us. Many of the folks lobbing mortars at our forces and planting roadside bombs are doing it mostly for the money. Although I can find no hard figures, I’ve seen previous estimates of Iraqi unemployment rates in the neighborhood of 50%, or twice as bad as it ever got during the Great Depression.

      The brother of one of my best friends is in Iraq, and says they have to put up with what they refer to as “payday attacks.” Right before the first and the fifteenth of every month, their base would take frequent brief mortar fire, most of which wouldn’t come close. It seems local insurgent organization would pay twice a month for attacks on Americans.

      yours/
      peter.

    21. werner Says:

      Peter, there is no way for America (or anyone) to change Iran´s course and not get some blame.

      So what? For decades I have observed that people make excuses for thugs even as they hammer America. Why? Because it´s cheap. Putin may cut off your gas, the Arabs may cut your throat, but there is no price to hammering America.

      I cannot be sure that all of this would result in regime change, but it will cripple Iran´s ambitions and bombing nuclear facilities is still an option. Isn´t that the result we seek? If you want no occupation, Iranians alone will bear the responsibility.

      Second, we did not destroy the Iraqi economy. If anything, by economic measures standards of living are higher today than before the invasion.

      Sanctions were designed not to damage the basic economy; they ended up hurting the people more than the regime, but surely Saddam is to blame for that.

      Their infrastructure had deteriorated over decades. The same thing may be happening in Iran right now even without sanctions: the evidence of widespread prostitution and drug addiction and money fleeing the country does not suggest widespread content and optimism. Of course, America is also blamed for that.

    22. a comment Says:

      I’ll keep posting on Iran even though my previous comment was accused of having been made by a robot! That’s pretty funny. I guess what I wrote must be quite outside the paradigm of what’s typically posted here. But it may be a good thing for a right-wing mutual appreciation society to hear once in a while.

      Look, the US could bomb Iran’s suspected nuclear plants or its oil terminals, and get away with it in the short term. We’re the superpower and nobody can do much about it. I simply point out that our recent military intervention in the Middle East backfired horrifically (notwithstanding the poster above who extolled the economy of occupied Iraq!). Iran is a fiercely nationalistic country with a 5,000 year old history as a civilization. It’s optimistic to think that Iranians under attack will overthrow their leaders and embrace their attackers. Second , Iran has supporters in Iraq (and Lebanon) and how they would react is unknown. Third, I still maintain that bombing is atavistically satisfying and fun and you should check your motivations for wanting to go in and bomb.

    23. Jonathan Says:

      I wish the Iranian people well and hope that Iran democratizes. However, my first priority is our own security. It would be best for everyone if Iranians threw off the dictatorship. But if that doesn’t happen, and it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon, it would be good enough if we could stop the mullahs by cutting of their oil revenue and fuel imports. However, in the event these things do not happen or we cannot make them happen, bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities to delay the mullahs’ bomb program seems like the least-bad alternative. It would make a lot of people mad at us, but if that’s what it takes to protect us from mullahs armed with nukes I think it will be well worth it. If somebody threatens you with a deadly weapon, it is usually better to make him worry about what you might do to him, rather than to worry about what he might do to you if you defend yourself.

    24. werner Says:

      Au contraire, my nameless friend. It is precisely in the short term that we can get away with doing nothing.

      I´ve heard it all before. I´ve heard people prattle about the “glorious millenia” of history and culture of “fiercely proud” peoples. Red China, Saddam´s Iraq, fascist Italy, now Iran…every single one of them a “cradle of civilization”, never mind the graves! All in the cause of making excuses for thugs in the here and now, even as these thugs are trampling all over their culture and history and peoples.

    25. peter jackson Says:

      werner!

      I’m speaking specifically of unemployment. Everything you say about sanctions and infrastructure in Iraq may very well be true, but before the war most Iraqis had jobs.

      This is a topic that has been essentially ignored by everyone. The first US plane that landed at Baghdad International after the toppling of the regime should have been packed with either a new Euro-backed Dinar, or Euros. De-Ba’athification had to take place, but it should have coincided with a massive employment program so that even the Ba’athists could feed their families. The primary order in any society is economic order. There are probably many Lessons of Iraq™, but this is the prerequisite for understanding them all. After all, after the insurgency coalesced, why was the first thing they attacked Iraq’s infrastructure?

      I cannot be sure that all of this would result in regime change, but it will cripple Iran´s ambitions and bombing nuclear facilities is still an option. Isn´t that the result we seek?

      Only if we want our grandchildren to have to fight the mullahs yet again at some point in the future. Victory requires that we eliminate the threat to our nation, not merely inconvenience it. If Iran had a normal government I wouldn’t care if they enriched uranium, hell, I wouldn’t care if they have the bomb. It is the mullahs that threaten us and nothing else. If we killed them without destroying their country Iranians would probably wind up celebrating America Day every year.

      yours/
      peter.

    26. Shochu John Says:

      To return to the original substance of this post, I find terribly amusing the suggestion that over in Iran, they’re scrutinizing every last local American rag for hints as to whether “the U.S. would take strong action to prevent [them] from obtaining nuclear weapons”.

      I’m confident that whatever crunchy Birkenstock-clad local pol in San Fran who really wanted to kill the Junior ROTC program would be thrilled to have his actions to send a message around the world. I am similarly confident that nobody of any import on the world stage cares about the Junior ROTC program in San Fran, and I further doubt that anyone in the Iranian government even knows we had a Junior ROTC program in the first place.

      Try thinking about the situation logically from the Iranian point of view. Let’s start with the assumption that Iran, despite official pronouncements to the contrary, wants nuclear weapons. They’re in luck, because they’re going after them at precisely the correct time. The U.S. is in no position to stage a regime change. We haven’t the troops, as they are all otherwise engaged with previous occupations. We can try bombing. That could set Iran materially back a few paces if we manage to take out nuclear facilities or if, as some suggest here, take out oil production facilities. In that case, however, the citizens rally around the government, which then can behave even more aggressively, redoubling efforts to get nukes. They, after all, need protection against the Great Satan’s aggression. It is simply not realistic to think the Iranian people will side with aggressive foreigners against their own government, even if they radically disagree with it. To paraphrase an excellent metaphor I heard once: Just because the old people wouldn’t let the kids in “Footloose” dance does not mean the kids would have supported a Soviet invasion of Nebraska.

      Finally, I find somewhat unconvincing that Iran is getting nukes so they can bomb Israel. Ahmadinejad is a blowhard, but fortunately for world peace, he is also merely the president of Iran. I thought we found out how little that title means when the “reformer” President Khatami managed to get so little accomplished. It makes far more sense that Iran is gaining nukes for defensive purposes. In fact, given that members of the Axis of Evil without them (Iraq) get invaded and those with them (North Korea) get only stern promises of further talks, Iran would be almost foolhardy not to use the current situation as an opportunity to attain nuclear weapons. How better to prevent being targeted for invasion in the future? Using nuclear weapons offensively against other nations with nuclear weapons, however, is the very definition of stupidity. It’s a fabulous way to be wiped off the map (If someone would like to argue that Iran would sacrifice itself just to take Israel down too, here’s your chance).

      In any case, this is all academic. There will be no strike against Iran. The American people enforce a strict limit on botched wars. You’ll have to wait until they forget about Iraq to get another one, and even bombings are going to be a hard sell for a time.

    27. peter jackson Says:

      To return to the original substance of this post, I find terribly amusing the suggestion that over in Iran, they’re scrutinizing every last local American rag for hints as to whether “the U.S. would take strong action to prevent [them] from obtaining nuclear weapons”.

      So— they’re stupid? A single enemy stands in between you and your goals. That enemy is vastly stronger than you are and the only way you will reach your goal is if they let you. And you’re not going to bother to scrutinize your enemy? That would be stupid.

      I’m confident that whatever crunchy Birkenstock-clad local pol in San Fran who really wanted to kill the Junior ROTC program would be thrilled to have his actions to send a message around the world. I am similarly confident that nobody of any import on the world stage cares about the Junior ROTC program in San Fran, and I further doubt that anyone in the Iranian government even knows we had a Junior ROTC program in the first place.

      That’s a lot of knowledge you’re pretending to have, but okay. It’s beside the point.

      Try thinking about the situation logically from the Iranian point of view.

      Let’s.

      Let’s start with the assumption that Iran, despite official pronouncements to the contrary, wants nuclear weapons. They’re in luck, because they’re going after them at precisely the correct time. The U.S. is in no position to stage a regime change. We haven’t the troops, as they are all otherwise engaged with previous occupations.

      I disagree. We can initiate regime change with a single cruise missle if we target the right meeting. And besides, we have thousands and thousands of troops stationed in Europe and South Korea which simply aren’t needed in those places anymore. But again, although it would be nice to have an opportunity to redeploy those wasted forces, but it wouldn’t be necessary to change the regime in Iran.

      We can try bombing. That could set Iran materially back a few paces if we manage to take out nuclear facilities or if, as some suggest here, take out oil production facilities. In that case, however, the citizens rally around the government, which then can behave even more aggressively, redoubling efforts to get nukes. They, after all, need protection against the Great Satan’s aggression.

      Agreed.

      It is simply not realistic to think the Iranian people will side with aggressive foreigners against their own government, even if they radically disagree with it. To paraphrase an excellent metaphor I heard once: Just because the old people wouldn’t let the kids in “Footloose” dance does not mean the kids would have supported a Soviet invasion of Nebraska.

      I tell ya, I see this more and more lately and frankly it’s disturbing. And that’s anti-war folks resorting to analogies involving schoolyard bullies and other childish (literally) metaphors. Honestly, is that what you think this is? Some kind of playground conflagration? Mullahs just gotta dance? Because it would be very difficult to take someone seriously who believed that?

      Finally, I find somewhat unconvincing that Iran is getting nukes so they can bomb Israel.

      Then you don’t anything about hatred in general or the Middle East in particular.

      Ahmadinejad is a blowhard, but fortunately for world peace, he is also merely the president of Iran. I thought we found out how little that title means when the “reformer” President Khatami managed to get so little accomplished.

      When Ahmadinejad opens his mouth, the the words and ideas of the mullahs who arranged his “election” come out.

      It makes far more sense that Iran is gaining nukes for defensive purposes. In fact, given that members of the Axis of Evil without them (Iraq) get invaded and those with them (North Korea) get only stern promises of further talks, Iran would be almost foolhardy not to use the current situation as an opportunity to attain nuclear weapons.

      Please. They’ve been on this track for at least a generation—at least that we know of.

      How better to prevent being targeted for invasion in the future?

      Agreed. Once they get nuclear weapons they are untouchable.

      Using nuclear weapons offensively against other nations with nuclear weapons, however, is the very definition of stupidity.

      Yes, it is. It’s also the definition of martyrdom depending on the circumstances.

      It’s a fabulous way to be wiped off the map (If someone would like to argue that Iran would sacrifice itself just to take Israel down too, here’s your chance).

      Well apparently you’re willing to bet the existence of Israel—aka in the Middle East as a “one bomb state.”

      In any case, this is all academic. There will be no strike against Iran. The American people enforce a strict limit on botched wars. You’ll have to wait until they forget about Iraq to get another one, and even bombings are going to be a hard sell for a time.

      The American people are predominately Jacksonian, and they will support lightening action to defend the nation. The only real question is whether or not we will do so with a nuclear war or without one.

      yours/
      peter.

    28. a comment Says:

      “One cruise missile that targets the right meeting.” How beautifully simple. I would think that warmongers would be chastened by the disaster they caused in Iraq from thinking in such terms (not to mention what’s happened in Afghanistan). Peter implies that he knows more about the Middle East than his interlocutors…I’m not so sure.

    29. a comment Says:

      I’m supposed to be writing today, but I’ve found so many fascinating documents about what Cheney, Richard Perle and the war crowd were saying in March 2003. Turns out they got the idea the Iraqis would greet us with “sweets and flowers” from one Kanan Makiya, author of “Republic of Fear” a book about Saddam’s Iraq. Here’s Cheney on Meet the Press March 16, a few days before the invasion:

      “MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

      VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I’ve talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals….And like Kanan Makiya who’s a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he’s written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.”

      He goes on to talk about how we’ll need a small occupying force and not too much money…$10 billion a year…because of course we can get the Iraqis to pay for it themselves with their oil revenues….

      Another delightful document is Richard Perle and Kanan Makiya at the National Press Club on March 17. It turns out we shouldn’t even be having this discussion on Iran since our invasion of Iraq was supposed to lead to overthrow of the Iranian government, a la dominoes:
      Perle: “I think that this will inspire Iranians who are already in the millions unhappy with their government. Unhappy with, they voted for reform and the reformers are unable to carry out reform because they don’t really have the power in Iran. The power is in the hands of the Mulahs and the Iranians may well be inspired further. Because there are already indications of it, to bring pressure for democratic change in Iran…..

      Ultimately, a demonstration of the capacity of the Iraqi people after a quarter century of tyranny to build a democratic institutions is going to have profound consequences throughout the region.”

      Somebody will say, Oh but they just made an honest mistake. No, these folks have blood on their hands and I want to hold them accountable.

    30. Shochu John Says:

      So— they’re stupid? A single enemy stands in between you and your goals. That enemy is vastly stronger than you are and the only way you will reach your goal is if they let you. And you’re not going to bother to scrutinize your enemy? That would be stupid.

      What would also be stupid is to stick your moistened finger in the air to see which way a violent gale is blowing. The U.S. is stuck in Iraq, desperately trying to find a way out. The American people are tired of the whole conflict, and they don’t have enough troops to cover their current obligations, much less take on any new ones. Unless the junior ROTC program is going to whip up a hundred thousand more troops and soon, it’s really not going to impact their strategic calculation. It’s pretty obvious which way this gale is blowing.

      I disagree. We can initiate regime change with a single cruise missle if we target the right meeting.

      Really? Is that because the Iranian government does not have some sort of line of succession? If the top ayatollahs get knocked off, there are no more clerics to take their place? They would simply say, “Well, there went the brains of the operation, time to give up on this whole Islamic Republic thing.”?

      That’s a bit farfetched.

      And besides, we have thousands and thousands of troops stationed in Europe and South Korea which simply aren’t needed in those places anymore.

      Some would contend that troops in places like South Korea are important to keep countries like North Korea from getting any ideas. If, however, you disagree, shouldn’t those extra troops go to try to salvage the situation in Iraq before being used as yet another inadequate invasion force for yet another country?

      But again, although it would be nice to have an opportunity to redeploy those wasted forces, but it wouldn’t be necessary to change the regime in Iran.

      So you keep asserting, but the mechanism by which regime change occurs seems a bit vague. As near as I can tell it goes something like this (with apologies to the Underpants Gnomes):
      1. Bomb a meeting/nuclear facility/oil refinery.
      2. ?
      3. Regime change!

      Perhaps you’d care to clarify step 2.

      I tell ya, I see this more and more lately and frankly it’s disturbing. And that’s anti-war folks resorting to analogies involving schoolyard bullies and other childish (literally) metaphors. Honestly, is that what you think this is? Some kind of playground conflagration? Mullahs just gotta dance? Because it would be very difficult to take someone seriously who believed that?

      It would also be hard to take seriously someone who confuses a metaphor of type (e.g. This situation has similar dynamics to a playground scuffle) with a metaphor of scale (e.g. This situation is approximately as important as a playground scuffle) and does so possibly deliberately to make a point about “anti-war folks”.

      Missing the point of a comparison while pretending to be offended by it will work in politics to duck a point, but we should not let it muddy the waters of civilized discourse.

      When Ahmadinejad opens his mouth, the the words and ideas of the mullahs who arranged his “election” come out.

      The Guardian Council strikes out all candidates it finds likely to cause it trouble before the election occurs. After that, there is a popular election. If Rafsanjani had won the popular election and been seated as president, as he likely would have (Khatami was, after all) would you claim he was speaking with the voice of “the mullahs” despite his different views from Ahmadinejad?

      Please. They’ve been on this [nuclear] track for at least a generation—at least that we know of.

      Were I to concede your point, it would bolster mine. Prior to being thratened by the United States, Iran was threatened by Iraq. With this constant barrage of threats, it is sensible for Iran to be pursuing nukes for defensive purposes. Ergo, it would not be sensible to conclude that Iran’s pursuit of nukes is itself evidence of their intentions to use nuclear weapons aggressively.

      Yes, [staging nuclear attacks on nuclear-armed countries] is [stupid]. It’s also the definition of martyrdom depending on the circumstances.

      In the Iran-Iraq war, Iranians staged human wave atatcks against the Iraqis with no concern for themselves. This is matyrdom. It was done in preservation of the Iranian nation, religion, and way of life. Sacrificing the the Iranian nation, religion, and way of life would defeat the very point of martyrdom. There is nothing at all to indicate that Iranians would sacrifice their entire nation to take an enemy out. The Islamic Republic has never begun a war. Is this the behavior of the wantonly aggressive?

      Well apparently you’re willing to bet the existence of Israel—aka in the Middle East as a “one bomb state.”

      Israel has had several decades in head start on the Iranians. Israel may be a one bomb state, but it has plenty to fling back against larger countries. Mutual assured destruction kept the peace in the cold war. It was an uneasy peace, and all things considered, I would prefer the middle wast be a nuclear free zone. I would also prefer to never grow old or have to work, but all of these things are sadly out of reach.

      The American people are predominately Jacksonian, and they will support lightening action to defend the nation. The only real question is whether or not we will do so with a nuclear war or without one.

      The USSR was defeated without a nuclear war. Thankfully, there was no “Jacksonian…ligtening action” in that conflict or we would all be speaking…well, very little right now.

      In any case, my original point stands. There will be no military action against Iran in the forseeable future.