Monday, April 10, 2006

Only the Shadow Knows: Seymour Hersh on Iran and the neocons

Seymour Hersh, who's hardly ever met a source he was willing to name, has written an article about Iran, the nuclear threat it represents, and what Hersh alleges are the Bush Administration's plans to bomb it with nuclear weapons. The article appears in the current (April 17) New Yorker.

The Hersh piece is written in an especially flat style, with sentence after plain declarative sentence and not a whole lot of analysis: a sort of Dragnet-speak, as it were. It is somewhat impenetrable at first, but then Hersh's agenda (or at least, part of his agenda) slowly emerges: the thing is the fault of those jumpy trigger-happy neocons again, looking for the shootout at the OK Corral.

It's a curious article, because even Hersh seems unable to deny that the current leaders of Iran are dangerous nutcases, talking trash about wasting Israel and the US. And, as with most Hersh articles, it's virtually impossible to evaluate the truth or falsehood of the unsourced assertions he piles up: is the Bush administration actually intending to carry out such an attack and, if so when? And would such as attack consist of a minimal number of bunker busters that would cause relatively few casualties, or would it be much more than that? Or is this all merely one of countless contingency plans that any administration would draw up while brainstorming, in order to be prepared for anything and everything?

Only the Shadow knows--or rather, Hersh's shadowy but nevertheless opinionated sources.

The thrust of Hersh's article is that Bush and the neocon cowboys are jumping the gun in order to effect their real goal, regime change in Iran, and that "all the cooler heads are saying, is give diplomacy a chance" [emphasis mine in the following quote]:

“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one [nameless] high-ranking diplomat told me [Hersh] in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”

A [nameless] senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said. The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.” A military conflict that destabilized the region could also increase the risk of terror: “Hezbollah comes into play,” the adviser said, referring to the terror group that is considered one of the world’s most successful, and which is now a Lebanese political party with strong ties to Iran. “And here comes Al Qaeda.”

Hezbollah comes into play? And here comes Al Qaeda? And where have they all been until now? Biding their time, just waiting peacefully until Bush (courtesy of Seymour Hersh's article) declares that he might bomb Iran's nuclear facilities?

More on the evil neocons:

The [nameless] Pentagon adviser said that, in the event of an attack, the Air Force intended to strike many hundreds of targets in Iran but that “ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation. There are people who believe it’s the way to operate”—that the Administration can achieve its policy goals in Iran with a bombing campaign, an idea that has been supported by neoconservatives.

Yes indeed, the speaker knows the administration is planning to bomb random sites which clearly have nothing to do with a weapons program that is, after all, secret, in order to effect regime change--just like those mean old neocons did with Saddam, whom everybody knew at the outset didn't have any WMDs.

The following passage illustrates what things have come to, these days (and includes a rare named source of Hersh's):

Robert Gallucci, a former government expert on nonproliferation who is now the dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, told me [Hersh], “Based on what I know, Iran could be eight to ten years away” from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon. Gallucci added, “If they had a covert nuclear program and we could prove it, and we could not stop it by negotiation, diplomacy, or the threat of sanctions, I’d be in favor of taking it out. But if you do it”—bomb Iran—“without being able to show there’s a secret program, you’re in trouble.”

It seems that the burden of proof is on us to prove something that by definition cannot be proven--the existence of a secret program, as with Saddam. Nowadays, intelligence is required to be perfect. It matters not that an obviously insane regime is making wild threats that indicate it is developing a bomb and will use it once it has gained the capacity, or even provide it to terrorists. No, that's not enough; we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the program is in place and the bomb actually developed before we are allowed to even consider--or, apparently, to even make contingency plans for the possibility of--defending ourselves and others against it.

The fact that by then it may be too late seems irrelevant to this argument. At the present time, all dictators are innocent till proven guilty.

Then there are those neocons again, causing so much trouble, and even causing bombmaker-in-captivity Khan to lie to please them:

In the most recent interrogations, [the Pakistani bombmaker] Khan has provided information on Iran’s weapons design and its time line for building a bomb. “The picture is of ‘unquestionable danger,’ ” the [unnamed] former senior intelligence official said. (The [unnamed] Pentagon adviser also confirmed that Khan has been “singing like a canary.”) The concern, the former senior official said, is that “Khan has credibility problems. He is suggestible, and he’s telling the neoconservatives what they want to hear”—

And here it is, the heart of the Hersh article (you knew it was coming, didn't you?):

The Administration’s case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Note the clever phrasing--"history of promoting false intelligence." It stops short of saying "lying," although it leaves room for the insinuation. And the fact is that, unfortunately, the failure to find clear evidence of WMDs in Iraq has had this very effect--that any later claims of the same sort would be subject to a sky-high burden of proof, and would be met with "it's just those neocon boys crying wolf again" skepticism. This was always going to be part of the fallout of any errors made on that score--and even if some think the jury is still out on the subject of Saddam and WMDs, there has been no smoking gun found in Iraq as yet, and probably never will be.

Hersh's article is filled with multiple and varied estimates of how close Iran might be to actually having the bomb. But they are all just guesses; it's fairly clear that, in reality, no one has a clue. But our foreign policy must always rely on this sort of imperfect knowledge.

Unfortunately, the potential penalties for a wrong guess in either direction are extremely large: international condemnation and perhaps retaliation if we were to bomb Iran prematurely, especially with any sort of nuclear weaponry (and how could we ever prove ourselves to have been correct in our estimate of their nuclear capacity, ex post facto?); the destruction of Israel, and/or of several US cities, if we were to get it wrong in the other direction. (Oh, but at least, in the latter case, we'd occupy the moral high ground, wouldn't we?)

Here's one of my favorite passages, from an unnamed diplomat:

All of the [IAEA] inspectors are angry at being misled by the Iranians, and some think the Iranian leadership are nutcases—one hundred per cent totally certified nuts,” the diplomat said. He added that ElBaradei’s overriding concern is that the Iranian leaders “want confrontation, just like the neocons on the other side”—in Washington. “At the end of the day, it will work only if the United States agrees to talk to the Iranians.”

How this passage manages to go from the thought expressed in the first sentence ("the Iranian leadership is nuts") to that of the second (they are like the neocons, who want confrontation) and then on to the third (negotiation with the Iranian leadership can work, if only the US is willing to talk) is--well--it's practically nuts, as well. I fail to see even a semblance of logic here. Just to recap: murderous apocalyptic madmen in charge of a country are the equivalent of the people who are eager to stop them, and the latter are to be faulted for not engaging in negotiation with said madmen, which of course would work if attempted.

The Europeans seem to be every bit as dedicated to the maintenance of the current Iranian regime as they were to that of Saddam--which is to say, very dedicated indeed:

The Europeans are rattled, however, by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change.

The rest of the article explains all the dire consequences of attacking Iran, assuming that any attack would unleash forces that would otherwise be held in check. The idea that diplomacy and sanctions can work--against a regime that has shown itself to be profoundly uninterested in either--is not a compelling one. But hope springs eternal, does it not?:

One reason for pursuing diplomacy was, [an unnamed diplomat] said, Iran’s essential pragmatism. “The regime acts in its best interests,” he said. Iran’s leaders “take a hard-line approach on the nuclear issue and they want to call the American bluff,” believing that “the tougher they are the more likely the West will fold.” But, he said, “From what we’ve seen with Iran, they will appear superconfident until the moment they back off.”

"Iran's essential pragmatism." Oh yes. Of course. Right. This unnamed diplomat knows the minds of the mullahs, and that they are just bluffing, and can be worked with. Nutcases and madman who threaten to destroy other states, and who seem to care nothing about the survival of their own people, are like that: very pragmatic, very amenable to sanctions and diplomacy.

Look, the Iranian situation is profoundly terrifying. It is far from clear that there is any solution that wouldn't be catastrophic, although to my way of thinking the best thing to do would be to encourage regime change clandestinely, from within (although the likelihood of success for such an option is unclear--and, unfortunately, time may be running out). But the entire Hersh piece, from beginning to end, is nothing more than a host of mostly nameless people playing guessing games.

The truth is that we may once again be facing (now, or at some unspecified date in the not-too-distant future) the need to make some very hard choices among crazinesses. Which of these is the least crazy--adopting a "wait-and-see" attitude, relying on diplomacy with madmen--or attacking, and dealing with the consequences? I think no one should pretend the answer is either easy or obvious.

In World War II, the "good guys" got the bomb first and then used it to shorten the war, with catastrophic loss of life for the Japanese of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (this was the "choice among crazinesses" that the US leadership made at the time). Some say that, by dropping those bombs on the Japanese, we forfeited our claim to be the good guys, but the argument that those bombings prevented even further bloodshed is quite compelling (I discuss the matter in this post, and in this one as well).

We may soon be facing a similar moral and tactical dilemma in which there is no good solution, although I profoundly hope not. But make no mistake about it: if we do, the fault lies with the Iranian leaders. Their intentions have never really been hidden; it's only now that they appear to be on the verge of acquiring the means to achieve their long-stated aims.

[ADDENDUM: The White House responds to the Hersh article, here, calling such reports "wild speculation." Here's the basic stance:

The White House sought Monday to minimize new speculation about a possible military strike against Iran while acknowledging that the Pentagon is developing contingency plans to deal with Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The Pentagon has refused to describe its planning further.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to confirm or deny The New Yorker report. "Those who are seeking to draw broad conclusions based on normal military contingency planning are misinformed or not knowledgeable about the administration's thinking," he said.
]

[ADDENDUM II: Ralph Peters weighs in with this interesting analysis (via Austin Bay).]

44 Comments:

At 12:10 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

I keep imagining how Iran sees this. Suppose the U.S. does not strike Iran for many months. Will Iran look upon public kerfluffles - such as the Hersh article, and the resultant White House statement - as evidence the White House has not the political will or the political muscle to pull off an attack against Iran?

I further note the widespread clinging to 20th Century memes. This clinging is the reason many advocate policies which would force us to be hit by WMD in order to gain the righteous moral authority to respond. Such 20th Century memes are suicide pacts. The continual expansion of WMD technologies guarantees it.

Change is uncomfortable. But those 20th Century memes must change.

 
At 12:16 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

In the 20th Century, if an army was massing on your border, you were surely able to mass your own army at the border, and even attack the massing enemy, if necessary.

In the 21st Century, what Dr. Khan was doing was the equivalent of massing armies at the U.S. border, in preparation for invasion. What Iran is doing is the equivalent of massing armies at the Israeli border. What Saddam was doing, by hiding his WMD and WMD programs from U.N. inspectors, was the equivalent of massing armies for attack. Dr. Khan, and Iran, and Saddam, could('ve) kill more people with their WMD technologies than 20th Century armies could've killed with initial invasions and blitzkriegs.

 
At 12:35 PM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

It has been said that the British Empire was acquired "in a fit of absentmindedness." That may true, to the extent it's true, of other empires come and gone.

There are two which come to mind whose imperial expansion was grounded in great part on a different issue.

Rome and Czarist Russia had frontiers across which were barbarians. To protect imperial territory, the frontiers had to be continually pushed out. It was also a venture in which commanders could win notability and money.

I would submit that the entire world is, as gcotharn implies, just across the border. It's no longer Rome worrying about the forty miles beyond The Wall, or Russia worrying about the nomad tribes beyond the (take your pick) river. Death in wholesale lots could be coming from the other side of the world.

 
At 12:50 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger SippicanCottage said...

Right now in the Pentagon, in some filing cabinet somewhere, is a plan to bomb or invade Canada, and Togo, and France (whoops, we used that one already) and Lichtenstein, and Portugal, and Malta, and Antarctica, and I bet every once in a while, they pull one out and say to each other: "Swaziland? Didn't that used to be Rhodesia? Or is that the Congo? Is that still Belgian? Who cares. Have the new guy update it."

There's a plan to attack and defend every damn square inch of this planet. That's what planners do. If there wasn't, someone with scrambled eggs on their hat should get fired.

 
At 1:04 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger The probligo said...

"It seems that the burden of proof is on us to prove something that by definition cannot be proven..."

That, surely is the mode du jour? Remember?

"Iraq must prove that they have disposed of all WMD"

 
At 1:06 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger still realizing said...

Deterrence sort of works for the US, despite the suicidal nature of the current Iranian leaders, because the US can defend and even absorb some nuclear blows before retaliating en masse. The Muslim world, and even the Shiite world, or even just Iran could likewise absorb a first strike and at least recover and carry on, if not retaliate in kind en masse.

But Israel is in a different sort of boat altogether. Some have called it a one-bomb state. The entire Jewish culture and religion could be vaporized in an hour with another Jewish Holocaust. The remnants of Judaism in the West would dissipate in a few generations. The psychological burden of being a western Jew in that circumstance could be just overwhelming.

Israel has the option of trying to prevent an Iranian first strike by promising retaliation, but there is no future there. Rather like the MAD world of the Cold War between the US and the USSR, but with only one side participating. Unilateral Assured Destruction (UAD) is not stable, the way MAD was.

I think this means that Israel is more likely to make a preventative strike than people generally consider. Chaos could ensue, and many in the world would rather just dump Israel than experience a little chaos.

This is a chaos in which world oil prices could climb well over $100 a barrel. Oil exporters might like this idea. Russia and Iran are oil exporters.

If this Iranian nuttiness is just a ruse to raise oil prices I think we may all be glad. But it's a hell of a dangerous way to make a living.

 
At 1:39 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Baronger said...

Surprised he didn't also mention our warplans to attack Canada. It would be more troubling if the Pentagon didn't have a war plan.

Also I like how he emphasizes that most of the targets would not be Iranian nuclear sites. They are probably air defense and other military sites, that would prevent us from getting to the nuclear sites.

 
At 1:53 PM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

"It seems that the burden of proof is on us to prove something that by definition cannot be proven..." That, surely is the mode du jour? Remember? "Iraq must prove that they have disposed of all WMD"

Yes, I remember it well, the 13 year period that Saddam mooned the UN after his Kuwait defeat. I remember also that after Saddam was kicked out of Kuwait there were procedures & documentation, all relatively painless, for disposal of Iraq’s known WMD facilities & stockpiles that Saddam chose not to follow. It would have been the easy-to-provide proof that would have made the present war in Iraq unnecessary.

 
At 2:28 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Bryan J Weitzel said...

I find it interesting that the only "named" source in the piece (at least the only one that made it to your post) was Robert Gallucci. This is the same Robert Galluci who was key to setting up UNSCOM (with Rolf Ekeus) in the form that enabled the shell games with Saddam; the same Robert Gallucci who as early as February 2002 warning us of the dangers of acting unilaterally; the same Robert Galluci who said: "One of the things that's very difficult, and I haven't quite figured it out yet, and this [Bush] administration is not helping me figure it out, is how to bring the American people along to believe that negotiations can be a honorable way to deal with the national security issue. That, I think, sometimes can be put forth and defended and one can succeed at that. But there's enormous skepticism, it seems to me, to our ability -- American negotiators, diplomats -- to deal with national security issues. It's always struck me that it's like any matter of security, even if it be in your neighborhood. If you asked some Americans, 'Do you want to spend the extra money on more policemen or keeping the gymnasium lights on longer at night?' a lot will pick the extra policemen, rather than a cooperative approach. Internationally, it seems to me we argue uphill for domestic support, and in these cases -- in the case of Bosnia, in the case of North Korea, in the case of Iraq -- I had to do some of the public diplomacy, the selling of our foreign policy on the Hill and with the press, and the degree of skepticism is enormous.

"When I said this administration isn't helping, it think it is party because this administration shares that skepticism. When we ask a question like, 'Why would the administration, why would the president, use a phrase like axis of evil?' I think it's because they are not as interested as perhaps others may have been in previous administrations in the negotiated resolution -- not if it involves a compromise of some kind. And I've been struck by this each time -- not only the complexity of dealing with an opponent, whether it's the Iraqis or whether it's Milosevic, or whether it's Kim Jong-Il, that's complicated enough in figuring out what the deal is going to be -- but winning support back here, back home, is an interesting challenge, in terms of American culture."

The guy is a Diplomat and a Bueracrat. That's a deadly combination.

 
At 2:30 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

It’s déjà vu all over again: following the “success” of their Iraqi ventures, the Neocon Neros of Washington are now toying with the idea of expanding their flourishing business eastward into the highly promising Persian market.

Frankly, I wonder what they’ve been smoking lately, and I simply can’t conceptualize the fact that George Bush’s followers still believe the Pentagon-produced infomercials showing complacent cum generously breasted Baghdad girls throwing rosewater, lukums and champagne at our troops on Apr 9, 2003! … How on earth can’t they see Teheran’s mullahs were the only winners here?

As for the Neocon’s belated anti-Persian posturing, it should be taken for what it is: just another hollow gesticulation from a lame-duck administration trying desperately to rebuild the Arab/Iranian geopolitical balance that it had deliberately destroyed in the first place!

And those ungrateful Ayyranians should be mighty satisfied and thankful for el Chimpresidente nukular supreme de la White Casa knocked their secular archenemy for them and handed them (via their SCIRI cum Da’awa party Islamist stooges) two thirds of Iraq on a silver plate!

Plus the Persians got all that for free: future generations of infidel American taxpayers will generously pick the estimated 2 trillion dollars tab- George W’s contribution to the Koranic jurisprudential concept of “Jiziyah”…

As a seasoned Sassanid sophist might have said: With foes like these, who needs friends?

 
At 2:50 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

Dr Victorino de la Vega - you are no longer an international troll of mystery. Your mask is off, Mr. Seymour Hersh.

The writing style, the paranoia, the lack of credible sources, ranting about the "neocons" - it all makes sense now. No wonder we've never seen the two of you in the same comment thread.

 
At 2:54 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

What's so odd in all these discussions about "moral high ground" is that Iran has already declared war on the U.S. and on Israel, several times.

Why do we act as if these declarations are just talk? Would we be so slow to act if, say, Mexico declared war on the U.S.?

I think we need to bring matters to a head ASAP and to prepare the American public for a war with Iran. They've already made their declarations.

Remember how Osama declared war, and no one paid attention? We shouldn't make that mistake again.

 
At 3:52 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

I'm a little surprised at how everyone is always jumping the gun on these things.

Sure, I read the article when it was first published -- what was it, Saturday night -- and I thought an objective reading boiled down to two points:

#1, Hersh thinks, and is trying to sell, the notion that GWB is toying with the idea of nuking Iran. Obviously, he is not doing this to enhance the president's standing.

#2, The quotes, and especially from the Armed Services, indicate that the JCS doesn't even want to consider the nuclear option, which means: it isn't going to happen.

What's all this about, really?

As I see it, what's going on here is that the US and Iran are engaged in an elaborate ritual. Many people, including Neo, apparently, think this rhetoric harbinges a WMD attack by one side or the other. Those who are opposed -- like Hersh, like Walt and Mearsheimer, like General Zinni and another Marine General just the other day -- are each in their own ways trying to invalidate the prospect of further military adventurism either by saying that it is not possible, or that the leadership is incompetent, or that it is not in the interests of the United States.

On the other hand, those who think that a pre-emptive attack on Iran is "inevitable" do their thing: like the Ralph Peters' article referenced, or generally on this blog.

Neo: I'm a little surprised at your annoyance to the references to neocons. Surely there are people who are very ready to bomb Iran into submission; are you objecting to calling them neocons, or something else? Frankly, I didn't even notice.

I will note that two guys who are frequently considered neocons, Ledeen and Perle, are both opposed to invasion (and, presumably, bombing) but want to start grassroots regime change instead.)

Maybe more later. Best Regards.

 
At 5:39 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger RickInNY said...

At the risk of repetition: for the Left, it's more important for Bush to fail than it is for...anything else. So put Hersh in that bucket also. Because we have not seen it yet (WMD in the form of nuclear, bio, or chem attacks on Western countries) there's an assumption it won't happen, therefore all else is politics.

Let's imagine for a moment a Dem controlled Congress with a newly minted Dem White House occupant. What Would Dems Do? I wonder. Consider the Iranian talk bluster? I say take them at their word, or ignore at our own peril. My fear is that the political will to face this is faltering as we speak. No images of JFK and the Cuban Missle Crisis come to mind.

For now, they can pursue the requisition of nuclear capability when they want to. And the US can destroy that capability when they want to. For now.

But my question remains...why would Iran need nuclear power while sitting on top of 76 bln BBLs of proven reserves and 25T natural gas in the ground?

 
At 5:47 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

What's really going on is a bit more complicated than that. People on the Left are only forced into doing violent things if events push them into it. Events, usually, that they themselves helped set up.

If Bush does these things, he will have a much higher chance to avoid war with Iran.

1. Demonstration nuclear attack on depopulated spots. Additional adjustments, include adding prisoners to be executed, to the target zone.

2. Threatening and/or giving nuclear weapons technology to the Kurds, Northern Alliance, or anyone else bordering Iran.

3. Buying Indian support through a tri-lateral alliance of Indian, Pakistani, and American. Bribes and threats, not excluded from consideration.

4. Naval blockade or unrestricted submarine warfare (actual or threatened) upon Iran or Syrian ships. As well as CAP over Iranian air space, and interdicting anyone going in or out.

5. Targeted assassination of islamic leaders in Iran, through local guerrila insurgency efforts. With the demand that Iran backdown on the nuclear front.

6. Forced Annexation of Syrian and Iranian territories, short of full invasion. We can give those territories to our allies, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and India for example as bribes.

7. Arm the Kurdish Alliance with American weapons publicly, and threaten the Turks to back us against Iran or else.

8. Use Special Forces to kidnap and raid high ranking Iranian and Syrian officials and liquidate their bank accounts of all assets and funds. Then use those assets to fund internal guerrila insurgencies, to return Iran and Syria's favor in Iraq. Funneling arms and weapons to Lebanon, to checkmate Syria, is a good idea.

If Bush does all or even any of those things, and there are plenty more Bush has the power to do without going to Congress, the chances for a diplomatic success with Iran increases by orders of magnitudes.

The key to diplomacy as with hostage negotiation, is leverage. Find a high enough lever, and you can move the world. Iran found that lever when they took our embassy hostage, and I have just listed the levers available to be acquired against Iran. If Bush has the guts and the wisdom to use them. One of the things people tend to miss is the fact that Bush didn't buy into the guerrila insurgency option, because Bush didn't want to fight a guerrila war. He wanted to fight a conventional war in OIF and then leave. Syria and Iran didn't get the memo unfortunately.

If Bush wanted a war, there would be no need for this showmanship diplomacy. But obviously Bush is serious about this diplomacy game, and if Bush is serious, then he'd better act like it.

I would not recommend inviting the CIA into these operations, however. They are a danger. Far better if Bush trusted only the SF community and regular Army. The organization you hear the LEAST about on television, is the organization you use for your foreign policy, covert and otherwise.

I'm pretty sure Bush knows how to play poker. This isn't poker. You don't get second chances, your money isn't calculated by the average of 10 pots or something like that. He has got one chance to win and one chance to lose. His advantages...

Bush holds all the cards, he has most of the money. All Bush has. to. do. is. to. raise. the. stakes.

If Bush doesn't raise the stakes, Iran will. In the end, same difference. Only how many people get to die for it, will differ by the end. Iran is in worse shape than Japan, they can't win. What they can do is trump us, make the price of war so high that they will be safe to murder and kill anyone they feel the need to.

Oil could be a problem. If Bush gave the say so, we could steal Iran's entire oil infrastructure from them at a fraction of the cost of OIF. I suppose I can see why we would be worried, because we know Bush won't give the say so... but presumably Bush might do it.

Pirates seize oil tankers all the time in Indonesian waters. It ain't like the US Navy can't do the same if we wanted to. Iran can't stop us from commerce raiding them, but we can stop Iran from raiding our commerce. Two birds with one stone. We stop their commerce by sinking and hijacking their oil ships. We bomb the pipelines. Sanctions are counter-productive. Don't sanction Iran. You don't want Iran to be in the same spot as Iraq, for various reasons. Sanctions take too long to implement and too long to work. Given a choice between sanctions and rushing to war, rushing to war is infinitely better in the Middle East.

But there's enormous skepticism, it seems to me, to our ability -- American negotiators, diplomats -- to deal with national security issues.

All someone has to do to know why that is, is to ask them have they considered going nuclear on Iran and they will say no. There's your reason for the skepticism. You don't want war, Mr Diplomat? Then do your Damn Job, if you can even figure out what it is. The State Department couldn't even stop Gulf War 1 by sending a note to Saddam telling him we'd retaliate. And they expect to be credible? Total BS. How many people died because the State Department diplomats didn't do their jobs, eh?

negotiated resolution -- not if it involves a compromise of some kind. And I've been struck by this each time -- not only the complexity of dealing with an opponent, whether it's the Iraqis or whether it's Milosevic, or whether it's Kim Jong-Il, that's complicated enough in figuring out what the deal is going to be

Notice the bold. The Deal is a philosophical belief that you can get whatever you want, because anyone can be bought. This is a political perspective, not a diplomatic outlook. Some things just can't be solved by corruption in the world, and the State Department does not believe that.

Why do we act as if these declarations are just talk?

Bush believes that a state of war requires both sides to declare it. I don't. That is the difference between real Jacksonians and Bush's compassionate conservatism. Bush doesn't have to declare war, to do warlike things in a state of undeclared war. Bush can raid Syria and Iran, violate their borders, shoot down their airplanes with their generals on them, violate their international waters and blow up their ships. But Bush doesn't believe that any state of war can exist unless both sides, preferablly the United States, declares it to be so. This is a weird sort of arrogance and blindness.

The New World Order dictates that a war only begins if the United States attacks. So long as it is the "other guy" blowing up children and Americans, it ain't a war, it is a "dispute".

Would we be so slow to act if, say, Mexico declared war on the U.S.?

Since Mexican paramilitaries have been caught on US soil shooting at Americans, I'd have to say yes, we would be as slow to act. I'm not refering to the coyotes, but Mexicans in Mexican army uniforms in Mexican armed vehicles armed with machine guns.

#2, The quotes, and especially from the Armed Services, indicate that the JCS doesn't even want to consider the nuclear option, which means: it isn't going to happen.

In human affairs like war, the thing people least expect to happen most definitely will happen. Steve, doesn't obey the Laws of Murphy, and that is unwise.

 
At 6:17 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

I don't think the "why can't we all just get along" option will work with Iran. They're asking for it and I think we should give it to them and sooner rather than later. Fallout (no pun intended) will be greater later.

I guess according to Hersch the MSM is to be the judge again of what is sufficient proof/justification for an attack. Why is it that once you get to write something in a paper your ideas, viewpoints and judgements are supposed to trump those of everyone else? Is it some sort of injection of wisdom or godlike power? Maybe a secret handshake?

By the way, State Department types live in a different world where negotiation is all. State has always had its own foreign policy and conveniently ignores Presidents and their Secretaries of State when they want to. State apparatchiks figure that they will still be there at their desks long after the current incumbent of the White House and his team are gone.

 
At 7:54 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger greg wirth said...

Actually, evidence of an imminent attack of on the United States would be sufficient enough, hard to do that though when you are 5 years away from a nuke.

 
At 10:53 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger nyomythus said...

Thank you neo-neocon! You have inspired me to create my own blog -- I borrowed a bit of your tab line [green apple]

 
At 1:51 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Actually, evidence of an imminent attack of on the United States would be sufficient enough, hard to do that though when you are 5 years away from a nuke.

What anti-warriors forget is that the attacks have already happened & have been on-going for over 25 years. Iran is a major terror-sponsoring state & as such is responsible for the deaths of many Americans. I believe that Iran was probably encouraged in their terror sponsorship when Carter let them get away with the embassy takeover & hostage-taking in 1979.

Anti-warriors are always breezily unworried about Iran’s determined steps to join the nuclear club, one prominent anti-warrior declaring a nuclear Iraq as “manageable,” & tend to predict long estimates of Iran’s nuclear headway when no one except the Iranians actually know their true progress. Keep in mind that US intelligence agencies have most often been wrong in their estimates of foreign nuclear progress, being totally surprised by Russia, China, India & Pakistan.

What the anti-warriors seem to mean by “imminent attack”(greg can correct me if I’m wrong) is an imminent invasion of US territory by uniformed combatants. But the Iranians & other enemies can do & have done much harm to the US & its allies without the need to resort to such conventional methods of warfare by the simple technique of employing their proxy murderers, the terrorists. What 9/11 revealed was that waiting until invasion is imminent can no longer be(if it ever was) the litmus for waging war, especially if an avowed enemy fanatically dedicated to the goal of US annihilation is about to arm itself with nuclear devices.

The US can’t afford to wait until Iran lives up to its threats & slips a nuke to bin Laden, but it probably will wait. For various reasons, political, social & psychological, the US will likely delay acting until something dire happens. I wonder if the Americans that die on that day will have time to ponder the fact that they are dying because of a lack of “evidence.” I wonder if the two victims who jumped hand in hand to their death from the burning WTC cared about “evidence” or the sufficiency of “imminent attack.”

 
At 3:15 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Kent Rogers said...

How incredibly refreshing it is to me to see that I'm not the only sane person in the whole political blogspot circle.

Its refreshing to see that this post wasnt about "The evil corporations who want Iranian oil"

You have an awesome blog, and this post was very intuitive.

 
At 6:02 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

hersh schmersh

 
At 8:47 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

Mark Steyn has a long, detailed, and depressing column on the subject of Iran.

 
At 9:18 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Van said...

As a self proclaimed liberal I find Seymour Hersh to be an unreliable source.

He's prone to speculation, and exaggeration. In fact the notion that we would use nuclear weapons on Iran is ridiculous since there are so many other means of destroying an isolated facility.



Hursh has become a droll who gives liberals a bad label.
I find myself agreeing with the Neocons in this case.
He's lost much of credibility lately.

But I cannot disagree more with Promethea.
Do you really think that we can successfully fight another war at this time?

I'd like to know more about your strategy, care to elaborate some?

 
At 9:52 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Spanky McSpankerton said...

Iran's nuclear agenda is the result of realist security considerations, not any fanatical religious fantasies cooked up by the likes of some of the more frantic posters on this site.

To wit:

Iran finds itself in an incredibly hostile environment. Afghanistan to the east was first the realm of the Taliban, towards which Iran was very hostile, and which is now occupied by US and allied forces. To the west, Iran faced Saddam, against whom Iran fought its costliest war, and which is now occupied by almost 200,000 US and allied troops. Iran's formerly stable border with the Soviet Union has collapsed into the petty states of Central Asia, and to the south Iran faces the security threats of the Gulf States - in particular, al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

In other words: everywhere Iran looks, it sees threats. In particular, a very serious threat in the form of the US, which now has large armies to the east and west, and which has labled Iran part of the "Axis of Evil," a collection of states the US has a propensity for invading.

Iran also has the issues of nuclear armed Israel, Pakistan, and India to deal with in the region.

Faced with this situation, the Iranian government would be stupid NOT to pursue nuclear weapons, or at least a nuclear capacity.

Iran is very unlikely to give nuclear weapons to al Qaeda. Iran is hostile to the Sunni fanaticism of al Qaeda, and the idea of any state giving nuclear weapons to an unpredictable and uncontrolable terrorist group is about as like as the US giving nukes to the Kurds or the Afghans, as someone here has suggested.

We have now seen what happens when the US uses armed invasion as a method of counterproliferation: sometimes we invade a country that has no nukes, and sometimes a country that has no nukes decides to build them to forestall an invasion.

Iran is currently in between Iraq and North Korea: it does not have a nuclear capability, but is headed towards one. Will beligerance be the most effective way of preventing them from achieving one, or will they decide the best way of preserving their regime is to rush ahead as fast as possible?

I'm inclined to believe that the Iranian leaders, for all their bluster about Israel and the Great Satan, are realists. They most interested not in ideology, but preserving their rule in Iran. I'm inclined to believe that the more we threaten them with destruction, the more likely they are to pursue a means of preserving their power.

An alternative to invasion is, of course, to change Iranian security calculations. They're not comfortable with large US forces surrounding their country. A security arrangement with Iran - one which entails cooperation over Iraq and Afghanistan (Iran was actually quite helpful in our invasion of Afghanistan) - would not only make our job in those countries easier, but might remove a major incentive for the Iranians to develop nukes.

Is the Iranian government particularly nice to work with? No, of course not. But we often work with distasteful regimes because a) realistically, it is the best option for furthering US interests (Pakistan) and b) engagement generally produces better results than isolation (China versus North Korea).

Are we seriously considering nuclear war against Iran? Probably not, despite what Hersh is claiming. But are we seriously considering invasion as a policy option? Probably. But where in Iraq, the invasion was the easy part, I think that we will find quickly that Iran, which is much larger, with much more difficult terrain, with a larger population and military, would be a much tougher nut to crack.

 
At 10:47 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

But I cannot disagree more with Promethea.
Do you really think that we can successfully fight another war at this time?


I don't think you can fight another war at this time, but we sure can.

Iran's nuclear agenda is the result of realist security considerations, not any fanatical religious fantasies cooked up by the likes of some of the more frantic posters on this site.

If Iran had a real security problem, Iran would already have been attacked by America. Let's not try that little propaganda trick of calling fake stuff, real. Pretexts were never real, that is why they are so useful, pretexts can be whatever I want them to be.


In other words: everywhere Iran looks, it sees threats.


Not even I would use the pretext of Iraq and Afghanistan to justify the Iranian hostage taking of an American embassy.

There are two methods, as I outlined, in dealing with pretexts. Either raise the stakes, and see if the other side really saw a threat and will retaliate. Or appease the Iranians in the hopes that their "real concerns" are real. I favor the former as opposed to the later, obviously.

Iran is hostile to the Sunni fanaticism of al Qaeda, and the idea of any state giving nuclear weapons to an unpredictable and uncontrolable terrorist group is about as like as the US giving nukes to the Kurds or the Afghans, as someone here has suggested.

*snorts* Here we go again. The incompetent Fake Liberal Democrat Leftists, with their "Sunni Fanaticism" mutually exclusive with "Shia Fundamentalism". They'll never give that one up, for sure. Don't even start with that religious belief that Democrats understand Sunnis or Shia, cause they don't, and no evidence will convince a Democrat that they are parochial in the extreme.

are realists. They most interested not in ideology, but preserving their rule in Iran.

I know most Democrats are parochial to the extreme, but not even I can believe that the Democrats and the Left are convinced that just because They want power above all else, that everyone else in the world including Iran, are just the same. They can't be that anti-Cosmopolitan. Or they could, but they'd have to really really work at it.

I'm inclined to believe that the more we threaten them with destruction, the more likely they are to pursue a means of preserving their power.

I promise you the exact opposite will happen. Just wait 5 years, and you'll see. Here's the real deal analysis. Fanatics will back down because they only pick on children, women, and weak men. When you show your strength, they will back down, when you retreat, they will advance. Realists will back down if they realize that they will be killed if they keep raising the stakes. Regardless of fanatics vs realism, showing power and threatening Iran, will make them back down.

 
At 11:27 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

I have to confess that, in my apathy, I didn't bother to read the article. Seymour Hersh is the Hedda Hopper of international politics.

Somebody tell me why this guy is important...

 
At 12:05 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

You assume that because I ascribe a Realist foreign policy to the Iranians, and recommend against not invading Iran, then I must be a liberal.

Interesting projection you got going on over there...

 
At 12:16 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Christ, Ymarsakar, you're all of 21? How's that whole shaving-for-the-first-time thing working out for you?

"Not even I would use the pretext of Iraq and Afghanistan to justify the Iranian hostage taking of an American embassy."

This happened when, Ymarsakar? Oh, right, over two decades ago. We're talking about now, not the past. What are Iran's current leaders doing, and why? Might they...SHOCK!...be making realistic security calculations?

"Don't even start with that religious belief that Democrats understand Sunnis or Shia, cause they don't, and no evidence will convince a Democrat that they are parochial in the extreme."

Ah, I see that you are an asshat. That explains a lot. A person's political leanings define their ability to understand another culture? Oh, right. I forgot that your ideology informs you on every issue, infallibly. Please, tell me, what did you learn in undergrad about these things? Tell us your wisdom.

"I know most Democrats are parochial to the extreme, but not even I can believe that the Democrats and the Left are convinced that just because They want power above all else, that everyone else in the world including Iran, are just the same."

What is this strange man, made entirely of straw, doing here?

Nothing says "immature" like demonizing half of America because they disagree with you over policy. Of the two major explanations for your differences with liberals - that they either make different assumptions than you do but still have similar goals within the same contextual framework of American democracy and capitalism, or that they hate America and freedom and puppies and candy - the latter is ususally the realm of the asshat. Woops, already covered that.

"Realists will back down if they realize that they will be killed if they keep raising the stakes."

Realists will also pursue a deterrent if they think they are threatened. If Iran has recourse to nuclear weapons, and we say "here we come, Iran!" then, in all likelihood, Iran will pursue nuclear weapons.

 
At 12:18 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous patrick neid said...

old seymour is at it again. yellow journalism is his stock and trade. this time he brings out the real bogeyman—tactical nuclear bombs as the crowds duck and cover. there’s his article and then there’s this

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/dshtw.htm

it is some version of that or a newer big brother that will be doing the heavy lifting if it comes to that. seymour is no dummy. these weapons reportedly are so huge that they leave a mushroom cloud if detonated on the surface. his next story will be, screaming at the pentagon to prove that the mushroom clouds that everybody saw weren’t nuclear. of course iran will say they were and all the world’s double digit IQ’ers will believe them until years later when the truth comes out. the damage will have been done—seymour’s original intent!

i do believe seymour et al are right about a “plan” that he believes was hatched before 9-11. the plan? seize the opportunity when it presents itself to overthrow the taliban, then saddam, then iran or syria, which ever presents itself first, then the other. the comfort zone in the plan–even if it fails and leads to complete and utter chaos it would still be better than the status-quo. palestine would be given a state whether they wanted one or not, defined by israel’s choice of fence placement. with statehood, all monies could be denied the thugocracy, and israel, if need be, could declare war on a state not a people.

9-11 presented the opportunity to re-org the world much like a bankrupt corporation. its the game that’s been played since athens.

north korea? they are all huff and puff. we only think about them because seoul is so close to the border and can be flattened with standard artillery shells. otherwise they would just be lil' kim with a taste for teenagers……..

if everything goes according to plan the heavy lifting should be done by the end of the bush presidency. now i know this all sounds delusional, but it is what i told my friends right after 9-11 and so far so good……..

 
At 4:21 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous nittypig said...

"Iran finds itself in an incredibly hostile environment. Afghanistan to the east was first the realm of the Taliban, towards which Iran was very hostile, and which is now occupied by US and allied forces. To the west, Iran faced Saddam, against whom Iran fought its costliest war, and which is now occupied by almost 200,000 US and allied troops. Iran's formerly stable border with the Soviet Union has collapsed into the petty states of Central Asia, and to the south Iran faces the security threats of the Gulf States - in particular, al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

In other words: everywhere Iran looks, it sees threats. In particular, a very serious threat in the form of the US, which now has large armies to the east and west, and which has labled Iran part of the "Axis of Evil," a collection of states the US has a propensity for invading."

Very little of this changes if the US enters into a security arangement with Iran over it's neighbors. The Israeli threat to Iran is still there, as is the Wahabbi threat. And while Pakistan may not be an immediate threat to Iran, the fact that it owns the "muslim" bomb is a huge knock on Iranian prestige and hurts her claims to leadership of Islam.

Assume that the Iranian government is a rational actor. It is clearly true that a bomb offers all sorts of advantages to Iran, as the Bush administration's North Korean policy has shown the mullahs. It clearly serves to deter the Saudis and Israelis, and allows further freedom of action. They are in a dangerous neighborhood, and holding the biggest stick is always useful.

But very little changes if the US offers all sorts of Iranian control in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wahabbis are still a threat. Israel is still an unreconcilable enemy (well mostly by the choice of Iran but the ultimate reason is unimportant). Pakistan still has the ultimate deterrant while Iran lacks it. Perhaps Iran can dominate Iraq, but theirs was a particualrly nasty war and I'm sure Iran would like to hold the trump card that can prevent a replay.

Even if Iran is a rational actor there are excellent reasons for it to aquire nukes, if it can get away with it.

I don't see that for a rational Iran there are carrots big enough to cause them to give up their nuclear ambitions. I don't know if there are sticks big enough.

The argument that the invasion of Iraq encouraged the Iranian nuclear program is absurd. The program was around long before OIF. It's obvious to anyone (including the Iranians) that as long as a large chunk of the US military is in Iraq it will be harder for the US to deal with Iran. At the very least the Iranians no longer have to worry about an Ba'athist bomb, which would have been a huge threat to them. The Iranians have been pursuing the bomb for a long time for long term goals.

The risk to the US is that a nuclear Iran is an unrestrainable Iran. She can sponsor even more terrorism with no risk of retaliation short of nuclear retaliation. That is a terrifying prospect.

By the way where do you get the 200,000 US and allied troop number from. As far as I know the US has 130,000, GB has around 12,000, with another 10,000 or so from Italy, Poland, South Korea and the like. That's somewhere near 155,000. Now the Iraqi army, which is certainly allied, is much bigger than 45,000, about 150,000 I think. So the number of US and allied forces in Iraq is either 155,000 or so, or 300,000 or so. I don't see how you can possibly come up with 200,000.

 
At 4:42 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous brooklynbob said...

If it was a real plan, Hersh should be arrested for treason. When is it okay during wartime to disclose secret military plans to the enemy?

 
At 4:42 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

I got the deployment numbers from last year's deployment table - about 169,000 in Iraq and Kuwait.

I'm not quite sure why you conflate "not making Iran think we're going to invade" with "giving control of Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran."

Both Iran and the US have vested interests in seeing stability in those countries. This is why Iran helped us topple the Taliban. This is why Iran should be helping us in Iraq. Iran doesn't exactly want to see a nuclear-armed Iraq, or chaos and terrorism in either of those two countries. Would the US like Iraq on its border, the way it is now? Would we like Afghanistan under the Taliban? Would anyone? Of course not.

But coming to an agreement with Iran over achieving stability in those places is not "handing them over".

See, this is where I think a lot of the problem arises: if you truly believe that the options are a) fight Iran tooth and nail, or b) bend over hand Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran, then of course you're going to conclude that a is a better option. But there's no good reason to believe this dichotomy represents your only alternative.

Before Iraq, the US and Iran were cooperating with Afghanistan: over issues of border security, trade, transportation, infrastructure in western Afghanistan, Taliban elements still active in the region, etc. Iran can either be a stabilizing or destabilizing element - the latter we're seeing in Iraq. But the government of Iran has expressed its interest - and has acted before - as the former.

And no, even cooperation with Iran is not very likely to stop them from getting nukes. Nothing is, really, if they really want them. Maybe a ground invasion, and if we try that, I pity the poor Pentagon planners who have to make up imaginary divisions. Maybe a sustained nuclear barrage - but only lunatics are suggesting we launch a nuclear war. But short of that, what?

No, we can offer them carrots and sticks, and the Iranians will do what they want. But we can certainly make an effort to change their system of incentives. There are lots of disincentives for the Iranians to pursue nukes, and they know this. They have simply chosen to risk them anyway. If we threaten to invade, we're essentially forcing them to develop nukes. If we offer to cooperate with them on a variety of mutually beneficial issues, we can at least influence their strategic calculus for the better.

 
At 4:44 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Sorry, I meant that the US has roughly 200,000 troops in the region - Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.

 
At 5:05 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Arthur Parry said...

Speaking of choosing among craziness, it’s rather distressing that everybody pushes the idea of military conflict after Iran acquires nukes completely out of their minds. There seems to be this mindset that once the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, a country becomes untouchable.

In a sane world, everyone would agree that apocalypse-obsessed madmen who want to wipe countries off the map should not have nukes. This is not such a world. Foolish people who should know better are going on about how well M.A.D. worked in the cold war. Russian roulette is not so scary after you hear the click. And hey, Iranian nukes are ten years away and always will be.

If Hersh, half the world’s governments, and most of the world’s media want to play intelligence ‘gotcha,’ then the net effect is to eliminate the already slim chance that we could intimidate – oops, I mean negotiate – the Mullahs into a verifiable inspection program. I really, really wish the world was doing what it takes to make this option viable, but we’re not. So we should be freely discussing scenarios after Iran declares or tests a bomb as well as before. After all, a few primitive nukes and delivery systems would be easier to take out now than many advanced hardened ones later. I’m not actually advocating this as a desirable plan, but the point is we may soon find ourselves in a box where actions likely to result in a nuclear response are the least crazy solution. At least it might establish the precedent that acquiring nukes makes you less safe, not more safe.

Hey, now that non-proliferation has been revealed as a sham, weren’t those Ukrainians and South Africans complete chumps for disarming? They had better restart their programs right away. Everybody should.

 
At 5:15 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

Christ, Ymarsakar, you're all of 21? How's that whole shaving-for-the-first-time thing working out for you?

How old are you, 'Spanky'? From the level of your ad hominem arguments, I'd guess 12?

Nothing says "immature" like demonizing half of America because they disagree with you over policy.

Care to read a few million quotes from Democrats demonizing the Republican half of the country? Just google 'wingnuts', 'Chimpy' or 'Howard Dean hates Republicans.'

The fact that Sunnis don't always get along with Shi'ites didn't stop the Iranians from working with al Qaeda before and it probably won't stop them from working together in the future. Everybody hates each other in the Middle East, but the totalitarian wannabes and their terrorist paramilitaries will work together when they have to.

Realists will also pursue a deterrent if they think they are threatened. If Iran has recourse to nuclear weapons, and we say "here we come, Iran!" then, in all likelihood, Iran will pursue nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad has said:

"Our enemies can deal a blow to us any time they wish. They did not wait for permission to do this. They do not deal a blow with prior notice. They do not take action because they can't."

Does he sound like he's afraid of us?

I don't agree that we should invade Iran because I don't think we can handle the resulting insurgency. But as a statesman, Ahmadinejad's behavoir and goals are closer to John Gotti's then to Khrushchev's. He's a cheap punk, not a leader. Would you hire him to deliver pizza? I wouldn't.

Ahmadinejad is currently fighting with the punks down the street, the Saudis, for leadership of the ummah. The Saudis are snubbing an Arab League gathering in the genocide capital of the world, Khartoum, because they're not talking to Gaddafi. (you know, that whole assassination attempt thing). Our worst mistake has been to treat these idiots like real leaders. We give them a legitimacy they shouldn't have.

We can't analyze their actions if we assume they see the same reality as us. Iran's nuclear program is most likely like Gaddafi's - a ruse designed to get those carrots and cooperation you keep talking about.

 
At 8:51 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I didn't call Spanky or Sparky a liberal or a Democrat or someone on the Left. If you reread what I specifically phrased, I refered to the Democrats and the Left, independent of what anyone else's position was.

If your policies are the same as the Left's, but you claim not to be of the Left, then it's not my identity problem to solve.

There are absolute or simply relative truths, that are independent of your personal politics, you know. And the possibility that I have already considered and implemented that into my position, should already have occured to people reading my words.

Btw, there's about a 50-70% chance the guy who first cries "projection" is projecting himself. Type in projection on wiki, and read up on what it says, Spank.

A person's political leanings define their ability to understand another culture?

If you want to defend and echo the Democrat's line, then you can do so. But I didn't call you a Democrat, I only noted that this is what Democrats have said and believed. And that you shouldn't bring that line into fruition.

As for understanding other cultures. The people who least understand other cultures, are multiculturalists. Not a lot of multiculturalists in the Republican party, so yes, your politics do determine how parochial and cosmopolitan you are.

TO use simple basic logic, someone who believes X, has trait A, because of reason B.

I don't see how you can possibly come up with 200,000.

Try picking a number from a hat, you might come up with it, nitty.

Nothing says "immature" like demonizing

You need to look up what parochial and cosmopolitan means. The next time someone says all politics are local, I'll love to hear you say that they are demonizing local politicians.

Some people need to regraduate college, forget high school. No, college wouldn't help. Not enough logic there. So some people instead of going to college and graduating from high school, would benefit a lot more from self-education. That works.

Please, tell me, what did you learn in undergrad about these things?

Last time I checked they didn't teach diplomacy in college. Nor do they teach torture techniques, hand to hand, psychological warfare, guerrila warfare, military history, logistics, strategy, or tactics. But learning can be independent of a formal school, you know.

Realists will also pursue a deterrent if they think they are threatened. If Iran has recourse to nuclear weapons, and we say "here we come, Iran!" then, in all likelihood, Iran will pursue nuclear weapons.

Not really. The idea of deterence mandates that both sides have equal Mutually Destructive Deterents. Iran has no bomb right now, if their objective is to seek a nuclear deterence, then they have already failed and Iran should be extinct already if the mullahs were correct in that they were pursuing a nuclear deterent strategy. Because the mullahs are lying and reality bears that proof out, nuclear deterence is what is called a "pretext" in international politics. You may not have heard of it, but a pretex is something that is used when you don't have a Real Reason to do something internationally. You can think of it as fake WMDs, except real pretexts can't be disproven or proven.

 
At 9:55 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Care to read a few million quotes from Democrats demonizing the Republican half of the country? Just google 'wingnuts', 'Chimpy' or 'Howard Dean hates Republicans.'

I never did like demonizing anybody. Not because I'm morally against character assassination (I would use it if I had to), but rather it is that it is such a passe and obvious strategy now a days. The counters are pretty well known. I favor the far more silent and stealthy attack, the stilleto in the kidneys, a rather more convoluted and oblique approah than the straight line thrust to the heart.

I try very hard not to be caught demonizing anyone. For one thing, it removes from the real subject, which is a weakness on the Democrat's side. For another, it's sloppy.

It is quite unprofessional to trade insults as if we're in a bar getting drunk and having a good time. If you can't control your emotions with a minimal of discipline, you don't belong in the realm of international politics, diplomacy, or war. Hotheads do not contribute to peace or harmony.

 
At 12:05 AM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Famous Last Words:

They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.

Iran is very unlikely to give nuclear weapons to al Qaeda.


I think it is foolhardy to assume various Islamic factions are incapable of working together. The ever-shifting internecine dramas of Islam are forgotten & forgiven by most of the actors for the sake of jihad & the establishment of the Caliphate. I’m amused by Spanky’s blithe assumption that Iran would never give a nuke to al Qaeda.

Iran is probably the most enthusiastic sponsor of terror in the Middle East & has been for years. The following, released in 2005, is a State Department summary on Iran’s terrorist activity.


“Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2004. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security were involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Iran continued to be unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida members it detained in 2003. Iran has refused to identify publicly these senior members in its custody on "security grounds." Iran has also resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its al-Qa’ida detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for interrogation and/ or trial. Iranian judiciary officials claimed to have tried and convicted some Iranian supporters of al-Qa’ida during 2004, but refused to provide details. Iran also continued to fail to control the activities of some al Qa’ida members who fled to Iran following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

During 2004, Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli terrorist activity, both rhetorically and operationally. Supreme Leader Khamenei praised Palestinian terrorist operations, and Iran provided Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups -- notably HAMAS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command -- with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. Iran provided an unmanned aerial vehicle that Lebanese Hizballah sent into Israeli airspace on November 7, 2004.

Iran pursued a variety of policies in Iraq during 2004, some of which appeared to be inconsistent with Iran’s stated objectives regarding stability in Iraq as well as those of the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and the Coalition. Senior IIG officials have publicly expressed concern over Iranian interference in Iraq, and there were reports that Iran provided funding, safe transit, and arms to insurgent elements, including Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces.”
http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/45392.htm


My apologies to the readers for the extensive quotes. Notice all the material about al Qaeda-Iranian contact. Since the US probably has few undercover intelligence resources inside Iran, what this summary represents is no doubt just the tip of the iceberg, information gleaned mainly by researching public sources of information.

Another fallacy in Spanky’s comment is the assumption that Iran has only al Qaeda as an option. After all, Iran provides a veritable host of other terrorist groups with sponsorship & has many to choose from.

So, if it’s all the same to you, Spanky, I’ll pass on this particular anti-warrior meme.

 
At 8:11 AM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous nittypig said...

'I'm not quite sure why you conflate "not making Iran think we're going to invade" with "giving control of Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran."'

Spanky, I'm sorry that I was uncelar on this point. I didn't mean to suggest that you were suggesting handing Afghanistan and Iraq over to Iran. What I meant was that even if we were to do everything imaginable to accomodate Iran over Iraq and Afghanistan, they will still have plenty of compelling reasons to pursue nuclear weapons.

In fact I tend to agree with you than Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons for sound strategic reasons rather than to bring on a nuclear apolcalypse. My point is that most of the compelling reasons for Iran to possess nuclear weapons are independent of the US presence in the Middle East and Central Asia, and there is little the US can do to mitigate them.

Thanks for the response on the troop numbers. The 169,000 was only over the Iraqi elections, basically since the new year US troop numbers in Iraq are steady at 130,000. But 200,000 for the entire region (from Iran's point of view) is probably close.

I think you're entirely right that cooperation is unlikely to stop Iran from getting nukes if it really wants them. And I am convinced that it does whether for messianic or realist reasons.

To change the cost-benefit calculation for the mullahs we need to convince them that they will suffer immensely if they continue to pursue nukes. That isn't easy to do because, as you point out an invasion threat isn't credible right now, and it's unclear how much pain an air campaign can inflict, or whether we're prepared to use one inflict an necessary amount of pain on the mullahs.

I personally think a blockade is worth pursuing. But that will put the onus on the Navy to keep the straits open while shutting down all shipping to Iran, and will cause huge economic problems for the whole world. I think it's worth it though - a nuclear Iran is an immense problem for the US and would likely be for the rest of my lifetime.

 
At 9:55 AM, April 12, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

I favor the far more silent and stealthy attack, the stilleto in the kidneys, a rather more convoluted and oblique approah than the straight line thrust to the heart.

If you're dealing with a galumphing bully like Spanky, sometimes a convoluted and oblique isn't the best weapon.

 
At 1:05 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It isn't a fight, with a victor and a loser. Force approach vis a vis the bigger hammer should be applied to real foes. What most people should do on the internet is to gather data, not try and gain Final Victory.

It's a bit early in the game for that. A lot of people I've seen keep asking why argue on the internet, it is useless. It is only useless, in the sense that you are arguing to convince when it will not work. However, if you argue as a means to entice more information and secrets from the enemy, then it works wonders.

The direct approach will never work against people like Hersh or Chomsky. It just won't, simply because you cannot bring summary executions onto the internet scape, and therefore you are limited tactically by your environment.

As emotional therapy, crashing on the fake liberals and the anti-neocons might feel better, but in realistic terms it will do little else.

In relation to what Nitty said, there are two counters to the blockade and air strike.

For the air strike, Iran will set off a bomb in one of their universities, killing a gruesome number of students, and televising the results as the product of the "Satan US" and their "bombs".

THey will have schools near or over the targeting sites, and if we don't bomb those cites, Iran will set off suicide charges planted by insurgents to do the job for us. After they move the equipment elsewhere of course.

This will hurt the United States worse than any actual air strike would hurt Iran, and thus Iran will have successfully detered an air strike because of this fact. Even if they don't, they can win a bigger victory through propaganda than we can through an air strike. Strategically, air strikes are like sanctions in Iraq. Porous, ineffective, and very helpful to the host nation if you know which hands to grease.

The blockade scenario is a bit trickier. But Iran can probably get Russian and Chinese guarantees of support, if they would support Iran into intimidating the US with diplomatic and militaristic threats. This would be based upon the belief that the trilateral alliance of Iran, China, and Russia can gain esteem and prestige and their economic trade routes back if they focus in and isolate the US. The US would have no choice but to back down and lift the blockade, with such international pressure.

If Bush was more of a bully and more ruthless, he could use the blockade to get Russia and China on his side, but because he isn't, Iran will get them. The economic problems with a blockade isn't just isolated to Iran, as nitt pointed out. The diplomatic repercussions are major, and the results will be the same as the air strike on Iran.

Simply that that the counter-attack in the media and in propaganda will offset and bog down any air strike or blockade. As people pointed out before, actual policies don't really matter, so long as you have credibility. You can threaten to invade, and even if you don't have the forces or the will or the money to do so (Turkey), people will still submit to your demands if they BELIEVE you will do it.

If you don't have credibility, then you are forced into actually killing people. The only way to get credibility in the eyes of a murderer, is to murder. If you don't kill people to gain credibility, you will be totally ineffective against Iran, and Iran will be free to kill the people in your place.

The diplomatic scenario is simply a logical extension of the sabotage Iran, the terroists, and anti-war activists have produced since 2001. The most harmful results to America derive not from intentional sabotage, but unintentional sabotage. Because it is only unintentional sabotage that can surprise "everyone".

Blockades and air strikes alone will not work, because they will not kill enough people, they will not earn you enough credibility, and finally they will not work alone because they are ridiculously easy to counter.

 
At 7:45 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

However, if you argue as a means to entice more information and secrets from the enemy, then it works wonders.

Spanky isn't an enemy, he's just (apparently) a left-leaning democrat. I'm willing to tolerate a lot of abusive comments and email from random Islamists who wander onto my site, because they are the enemy and they say some useful things. There is no reason to tolerate abuse from a bloviating leftist.

 
At 12:34 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Van said...

After juxtaposing your critique of this article with the actual piece by Sy Hersh I can only conclude that you are not making an honest attempt to understand his position.
You are sarcastic, able to stretch conclusions to the limits of credulity, and you are certainly capable of attacking a person’s character, but your conclusions leave far too much room for scrutiny.

You write things like:
“Hezbollah comes into play? And here comes Al Qaeda? And where have they all been until now? Biding their time, just waiting peacefully until Bush (courtesy of Seymour Hersh's article) declares that he might bomb Iran's nuclear facilities?”

And:

“It seems that the burden of proof is on us to prove something that by definition cannot be proven--the existence of a secret program, as with Saddam. Nowadays, intelligence is required to be perfect. It matters not that an obviously insane regime is making wild threats that indicate it is developing a bomb and will use it once it has gained the capacity, or even provide it to terrorists. No, that's not enough; we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the program is in place and the bomb actually developed before we are allowed to even consider--or, apparently, to even make contingency plans for the possibility of--defending ourselves and others against it.”

I’m left with the scense that you’re not really interested in knowing the truth, instead you’d rather attack-- fight or flight.

By using the straw man argument so often you are merely showing that you are incapable of actually dealing honestly with a topic. I thought that it may be isolated, but going back to your previous posts I see that it’s been your approach all along.

When I first came here, I thought that you were honest, wrong on some topics, but honest. But as I’ve read more and more; I see your true colors. You, like so many others, do not seem to be interested in the truth – you’re only interested in pushing YOUR views, YOUR agenda.
That's usually fine, I push an agenda too, but not at the expense of my intregrity.

Goodbye and good luck. I wish you and your readers well.

 
At 2:05 PM, April 14, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This assumes van is deprecatingly honest, Van.

A lot of neo's point you can't really prove or argue against using evidence, facts, logic, reason, or anything else for that matter except to emotionally react in a knee jerk fashion that "this is the way it is, period".

I’m left with the scense that you’re not really interested in knowing the truth

You are left with a sense really means "these are my feelings, unconnected to any real reason or thoughts".

The degradation of mental faculties is expected on the Left and for Democrats. This is regardless of who you are, for to believe in an ideology based upon faith is to compartamentalize your mind and degrade whatever reasoning gifts you still had available.

It is unfortunate, because you really can't defend Hersh and say why he is right. You can only say why his critiques are dishonest and wrong. Which begs the question of who was dishonest in the first place. (beg question in the fallacy sense, not the rhetorical and vernacular meaning)

People who recklessly act first and think 52nd later, are not very useful.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home


Powered by Blogger