Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An 18-page letter a day keeps the world at bay: love that "process"

Alexandra of All Things Beautiful's take on Ahmadinejad's 18-page letter to Bush emphasizes the fact that it was a good propaganda move for the Iranian President. She writes:

Thug-In-Chief Ahmadinejad scored quite a success with his 18-page letter to President Bush. Timing was of course carefully orchestrated to coincide with his high-profile visit to a key Muslim country, Indonesia....

We are...little surprised to be told by Iranian political analyst Saeed Leilaz that the letter "could have been the beginning of a new process," and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's reaction, which has of course already been labeled as a 'quick brushoff', would fuel anti-American feelings in Iran.

Ahmadinejad is not ignorant of how this plays to the Left, as Alexandra points out. As for me, I note his canny use of that new-agey word "process"--as in the vaunted Israeli Palestinian "peace process," the success of which was so deeply hoped for and wished for that it took a long time to understand that it was an emperor with no clothes.

Alexandra also quotes Amir Taheri's piece on the subject of what to do about Iran:

Something interesting is happening with regard to the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Slowly the blame is shifting from the mullahs to the Bush administration as the debate is redirected to tackle the hypothetical question of U.S. military action rather than the Islamic Republic's real misdeeds. "No War on Iran" placards are already appearing where "No Nukes for Iran" would make more sense.

The attempt at fabricating another "cause" with which to bash America is backed by the claim that the mullahs are behaving badly because Washington refuses to talk to them.

Taheri goes on to point out the abject failing of the Carter and Clinton administrations in dealing with Iran.

Revisiting the Carter approach is an exercise in futile and frustrated toothgrinding at the shortsighted naivete of it all. A recap:

In 1979, soon after the mullahs seized power, Mr. Carter sent Ayatollah Khomeini a warm congratulatory letter. Mr. Carter's man at the U.N., a certain Andrew Young, praised Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint." Mr. Carter also tapped his closest legal advisor, the late Lloyd Cutler, as U.S. ambassador to the mullarchy.

A more dramatic show of U.S. support for the mullahs came when Mr. Brzezinski flew to Algiers to meet Khomeini's prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan. This was love at first sight -- to the point where Mr. Carter approved the resumption of military supplies to Iran, even as the mullahs were executing Iranians by the thousands, including many whose only "crime" was friendship with the U.S. The Carter administration's behavior convinced the mullahs that the U.S. was a paper tiger and that it was time for the Islamic Revolution to highlight hatred of America. Mr. Carter reaped what he had sown when the mullahs sent "student" fanatics to seize the U.S. embassy compound, a clear act of war, and hold its diplomats hostage for 444 days. "The Carter administration's weakness was a direct encouragement to [anti-American] hard-liners," wrote Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the hostage-takers, years later.

I don't know about you, but I'm willing to take Asgharzadeh's word for it on this, if on nothing else.

Clinton's approach was cagier, but ultimately, not cagey enough:

Beating his own drum, Bill Clinton has rejected the threat of force and called for "engaging" Iran. This is how he put it in a recent speech: "Anytime somebody said in my presidency, 'If you don't do this, people will think you're weak,' I always asked the same question for eight years: 'Can we kill 'em tomorrow?' If we can kill 'em tomorrow, then we're not weak." Mr. Clinton's pseudo-Socratic method of either/or-ing issues out of existence is too well-known to merit an exposé. This time, however, Mr. Clinton did not ask enough questions. For example, he might have asked: What if by refusing to kill some of them today we are forced to kill many more tomorrow? Also: What if, once assured that we are not going to kill them today, they regroup and come to kill us in larger numbers? We all know the answers.

I have no facile solution to the problem of Iran; I don't think anyone does. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that either Carter or Clinton have much to say on the matter that would be helpful at this point.

And we are doubly fooling ourselves if we believe that the Ahmadinejad letter represented an attempt by Iran to begin "a new process." No, I think the process was actually a rather old one.


At 4:13 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I always asked the same question for eight years: 'Can we kill 'em tomorrow?' If we can kill 'em tomorrow, then we're not weak."

That's classic Clinton. Worked with North Korea, worked with Osama, worked with Iran, and so on and so forth. Or rather, didn't work.

If you take the offensive with Iran in the psychological sphere, you wouldn't get caught with your pants down on the defensive. And that's just the thing, eventually Iran will do something that will succede, and the only way to prevent that is to attack them in a way they must respond to.

Whether this includes demonstration nuclear bombardment, threatened or actual unrestricted submarine warfare, or many other "strong arm" tactics is a matter of details not principle.

The reason why you must take the propaganda and psychological offense is because the absolute limit on civilian casualties that your tactics will produce, is not actually based upon the numbers but rather how they are spread about in the international conscience. If you can have some double-blind procedure such as Oil for Food, then you can kill every single Iraqi baby and nobody will say a thing. You can rape the entire continent of Africa, with peacekeepers, and it is covered cause it is the UN business and it is official.

The only question is, are you going to have to deal with the enemy's tactics, or is the enemy going to have to deal with yours. How would Iran respond to unrestricted submarine warfare destroying their oil infrastructure from the outside in? How would Iran respond to nuclear detonations across their border targeted in the middle of no where or near Tehran? How would Iran respond if the US threatened to give the Kurds nuclear weapons and delivery methods?

So why can the UN and Saddam and France screw the whole world over, and make money off the dieing of babies, while the US can't step one figurative foot in a foreign country without being shamed into retreat? Syria, Russia, China, and Iran does it all the time, why do they get away with it when America's power is more than theirs combined? It takes more power to power a defensive strategy net than it takes to power an offensive one.

I suppose the UN wants it more, their ilk believe it is justified, and Bush probably doesn't think demonstration nuclear strikes are justified.

The specific tactics don't matter so much as the approach. It really doesn't matter whether you use nuclear weapons, submarines, air craft carriers, air strikes, or naval carriers to carry out your gunboat diplomacy. But you have to carry out gunboat diplomacy, using it as basic template. This applies to Russia and China as well. Presumably they don't want the US Navy to blow up the Middle East Oil containers and produce another Oil Spill environmental problem. This allows you to use China's energy dependence as an advantage, and not allow Iran to use China's energy dependence as a way to ensure a veto in favor of Iran.

Most nations have to contend with this basic fact in diplomacy and gun boat diplomacy. Basically, small and weak nations have to worry about who they wil piss off, and what those people might do to them in the future. They don't want to start up any new wars they can't handle, for example, given their limited small nation resources. The United States does not have a resource, military, monetary, limitation however. Therefore where most nations are forced to do things in certain ways because it is safe but also inefficient, the US does things inefficiently because it is neither safe nor beneficial, simply because there's no "need" to do much of anything if you're the top dog. Just cooling in the shade, it is rather not a good idea.

If everyone in the US acted like the bunny ahead of the turtle, and decided to take a nap, the US wouldn't be a superpower. But the fact is, the only people who are spoiled by US power is the politicians (and Hollywood). The military, and those who produce American power, are working their butts off making the US military better and more efficient. This allows the politicians to carry on as if they are invincible. Invincible people tend to start favoring wack out philosophies(hollywood, judges, academia), and something called decadence tends to creep in.

You see it with the republicans in power. you see it even with Bush, when he busted Afghanistan without international support (NO UN) and then for some reason went to the UN for Iraq.

Bush has 2 years left to intimidate Iran, and push Iran to their limits until they either back off or they get destroyed. There really is no other choice. Either Iran backs off or someone gets destroyed. If the US backs off, then someone else will get destroyed. Marine barracks bombing time, again.

Look, Bush has all the propaganda he needs to support whatever jingoistic strategies I would recommend to him. He has what, 400 hundred something days of Iranian hostage situation? He has what, Marine barracks explosions? What more do you need to stoke up public sentiment? Freaking Saddam had jack, and the support for ousting him was 68% in 2003.

Get people angry enough, and it don't really matter who complains about American high handedness. Diplomatic tricks work up until the point when someone has their eye gauged out.

At 4:47 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger jhbowden said...

"For example, he might have asked: What if by refusing to kill some of them today we are forced to kill many more tomorrow?"

Too many people focus on feelings in the eternal present, as if action (or inaction!) never has concrete consequences.

For example, when Natan Sharansky met with Carter during a visit to Israel, Sharansky stressed that Israel must link concessions to the future development of liberal democracy among its neighbors. Carter responded, "You know, you are right, but don't try to be too rational about these things. The moment you see people suffering, you should feel solidarity with them and try to help without thinking too much about the reasons."

When this happens, human sympathy and a deep desire for peace turn into deadly weapons of tyranny.

At 6:46 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Either Iran gets nuke weapons, or the US stops them.

I want the US to stop them.

The US should be preparing for invasion as soon as it's "clear" that they've violated the Nuke Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by Iran (as Israel has never signed).

Countries that violate treaties they've signed do NOT deserve the "national sovereignty" respect and consideration of normal, treaty-abiding countries.

Bush and Rice should be going thru the UN motions, but knowing the Iranians are just posturing for time, time to send Tel Aviv a little mushroom welcome.

On the other hand, getting Iraq more sorted out will also take time. From that POV more time is better. Plus there are elections coming, what will the Dems say to question:
"Do you support letting Iran have nuclear weapons?"

At 7:16 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger David Foster said...

People who use the word "process" a lot are very often idiots. Exceptions recognized for those who work in the "process industries" (oil, chemicals, beer) and certain other cases, but 90% of the time it's a good giveaway...

At 8:14 AM, May 11, 2006, Blogger nyomythus said...

“People who use the word "process" a lot are very often idiots”, sign posting to guide the shallow mind that refuses or is incapable of critical thought. Ohhh which way do I go, which way do I go… LOL

At 9:50 AM, May 11, 2006, Blogger goesh said...

I tried to process David's post but with little success. The use of " a lot" in his comment really threw me for a loop.

At 12:11 PM, May 11, 2006, Blogger Elmondohummus said...

Well, process is important, but too many confuse process with results. It's a mistake to do that.

And in this specific case, attempting to initiate a "process" is little more than a delaying tactic. Yes, I know, it's so totally obvious, but some people (not here, thank goodness) refuse to see that, so blunt statement is necessary.

At 12:59 PM, May 11, 2006, Blogger camojack said...

I'm still trying to process the information. It's a time-consuming process.

But seriously, I think a strategic nuclear "accident" in Iran might solve a lot of problems.
(Now, have at it...)

At 1:41 PM, May 11, 2006, Blogger David Foster said...

Goesh...parse as follows: "people who *frequently* use the word process are very often idiots"..would have been a better sentence.

At 2:41 PM, May 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

A lot isn't a problem with me.

At 1:00 AM, May 12, 2006, Blogger douglas said...

Exceptions recognized for those who work in the "process industries" (oil, chemicals, beer)"
Especially beer. I Like beer a lot. Beer is the foundation of civilization. Early agriculture had a great deal to do with having the means and materials to brew.

At 6:39 AM, May 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Gotta get the hops. A hop a day will keep you a ranging.


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