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November 16, 2004

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Presuming that a fact-based community would be interested in learning from previous mistakes, how do we design an agreement that isn't just marking time while Iran gets nuclear weapons?

This time, we should live up to the treaties we sign. That would be a start. Providing an argument why Iran, of all nations, should trust us is left as an exercise for the reader.

James Fallow wrote an excellent article in last december's issue of the Atlantic about a mock wargaming exercise concerning Iran's nuclear weapons program. Bottom line: there's is no military option. (something even the Bushites thankfully realise; but check out their PowerPoint slides with big arrows into Iran at praktike's place...)

The motive for Iran's quest for the bomb is limpid: Israel got it. And just like the USSR post-WWII, they want strategic parity.
That's why anything brokers like the Europeans have to offer is just a consolation prize to them, maybe even including full détente and normalisation of relationship with the US (which is something I think the US would have most to gain from).

My optimal solution would be a middle eastern nuclear free zone. Since the 50's and 60's, when they started their nuclear effort, Israel has acquired a total conventional military superiority over its neighbours. Nowadays its nuclear weapons are more of a menace to Israel than to anything else, because it makes it de facto legitimate for hostile countries to it to get some of their own.
A middle-eastern nuclear-free zone, coupled with and entrenching that conventional superiority, would be much more beneficial to their security.

Presuming that a fact-based community would be interested in learning from previous mistakes, how do we design an agreement that isn't just marking time while Iran gets nuclear weapons?

You can't prevent the Iranians from getting Nuclear Weapons. The US has demonstrated the value of Nuclear Weapons. NK has them, we have ot done anything other than talk shit, Iraq didn't we invaded, Lesson: better have Nukes no matter how expensive they are, it's cheaper than havong your citie turn into Fallujah.

What should we do the first time Iran blocks inspections? The second time?

There is nothing you can do! We have no trade with Iran, and our military is already stretched to the limit. Neither the Euros nor the Chinese are going to help us.

Don Quijote: There is nothing you can do! We have no trade with Iran, and our military is already stretched to the limit.

While agreeing with your general analysis of the situation - the Bush administration have made clear to the world that to avoid US invasion, a country had better have nukes - I disagree that there's nothing the Bush administration can do. They can (and they might) withdraw the occupation from Iraq, and invade Iran. This would be a stupid and futile thing to do, but we cannot assume that they will not do it.

do. They can (and they might) withdraw the occupation from Iraq, and invade Iran.

But that would mean giving up all that beautiful black gold! Ain't going to happen.

Imagine how bad q would be the Repubs weren't so strong on foreign policy.

q = things

For the life of me, I can't understand the strange manner in which so many people can view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with equanimity. So what if Israel has nukes? Iran is no Israel, and to equate the two is absurd; I don't see Rabbis handing down dictates from the Knesset, or urging mobs of young yeshiva students to chant "Death to Iran."

"But that would mean giving up all that beautiful black gold! Ain't going to happen."

You talk as if the Iranians were at liberty to decide whether or not to sell that "black gold"; we'd see how long their theocracy would last without oil money to keep the massive populace of restless youths quiescent.

I was talking about the US giving up on controlling Iraqi Oil.

As for the Iranian getting Nukes, we have done more than our part to convince them that Nukes are a necessity.

If you have a problem with the Iranian Goverment, just remember who put them in power.

we'd see how long their theocracy would last without oil money to keep the massive populace of restless youths quiescent

I'd love to see how the Israeli goverment would last without US subsisdies.

Abiola Lapite: For the life of me, I can't understand the strange manner in which so many people can view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with equanimity.

Equanimity? Abiola, mon ami, the one thing I am not feeling is "equanimity". But facts are facts: the Bush administration is in charge for the next four years, so we can assume that the US foreign policy will lurch from one disaster to the next. There is no point in getting exhausted with outrage about the future disasters in store until they come over the horizon. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptively attacking defenseless countries has ensured that countries will not wish to be perceived as defenseless: and 51% of those who voted wished the Bush disasters to continue. So. We wait to find out what they will be.

Don Quijote: But that would mean giving up all that beautiful black gold! Ain't going to happen.

I can't remember where I read this, but I think it encapsulates neatly the question of oil & the Iraq War.

Consider why both statements are true:
1) The US didn't invade Iraq because of the oil
2) however, if there were no oil in Iraq, the US wouldn't have invaded.

Abiola Lapite: For the life of me, I can't understand the strange manner in which so many people can view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with equanimity. So what if Israel has nukes? Iran is no Israel, and to equate the two is absurd; I don't see Rabbis handing down dictates from the Knesset, or urging mobs of young yeshiva students to chant "Death to Iran."

Equanimity. I like that word. For someone with buddhist tendencies such as myself, it's an ideal, a part of the right mindfulness towards all events in life.

But I am far from enlightment, and I do have apprehensions about nuclear weapons, and more about Iran's than Israel's.
However, it has all to do with issues such as fail-safes, transparency, accountability and clarity of authority throughout the chain-of-command, and lack of fear of reprisal for taking right decisions in spite of contrary orders (as shown by Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov), that I believe are more adequately adressed in a society such as Israel than one like Iran.
To believe an Iranian bomb is dangereous because of chants or fatwas is like beeing afraid of the USSR's nuclear arsenal because of communist propaganda boasting of hanging the last capitalist with the last priest's guts.

But even democracies have their weaknesses, as was amply demonstrated by the US during the Cold War, both technical and in the form of men like Gen. Curtis LeMay.

Which is why I envy your equanimity towards the Israeli nuclear arsenal, when you shrug "so what if Israel has nukes?".


Iran is pretty much going to get nuclear weapons unless we invade them. Airstrikes are a dicey prospect at best, as we have no way of knowing that we've succeeded in taking out their capability. The Israelis are even less likely to succeed than we are, given that they'd be attacking with F15s from a great distance. Futhermore, Iran could simply rebuild and would doubtless become more radical and hostile than before, only with nuclear weapons. Unless we want to keep bombing them every few years.

The question then becomes: is a nuclear Iran absolutely intolerable? That depends, I suppose, on George W. Bush and perhaps the GCC nations. If they decides a nuclear Iran is something we can ultimately live with, then he has to work to make Iran's current leadership more reasonable, or to empower the more reasonable factions within the regime.

"To believe an Iranian bomb is dangereous because of chants or fatwas is like beeing afraid of the USSR's nuclear arsenal because of communist propaganda boasting of hanging the last capitalist with the last priest's guts."

You inadvertantly make my point for me. We had every reason in the world to be afraid of the USSR's nuclear arsenal, considering the utter disregard for human life evinced by those who controlled it.

What should we do the first time Iran blocks inspections? The second time?

Invade them, of course. Bush set the precedent already, anything less will make us look weak and encourage our enemies to press harder. We will have to invade.

Edward, you're presuming that the Bush administration will make a decision on rational grounds. The decision to invade Iran, to bomb it, to leave it alone, will be made on marketing, not on reason.

Invading Iran will require both a major withdrawal from Iraq (what Sebastian would have called "cut and run" if a Democratic president had done it) and (I think) reinstating the draft. If operating on reason, those would be good reasons not to invade. But that doesn't mean Bush won't do it. Shiny new war!

You're right, too, when you say that Bush has set the precedent for intervention by invasion. But he's also set the precedent (North Korea) for not bothering to intervene until the government definitely possesses nuclear weapons, and then not intervening because it would be too dangerous to attack. Which precedent will he follow with Iran? What does the marketing department say?

Jes, actually, I imagine that any plan to invade Iran will involve minimal forces, something like 50-75K. It would take around thirty days and then we'd try to install one of the reasonable people and pull out immediately. What follows, of course, is anybody's guess.

Great. Invade Iran. Make them hate us as much as the Iraqis do now. With any luck they'll band together under a common enemy (US) and we will see the rebirth of Persia. How could I ever doubt Bush when he said he was a "uniter, not a divider."

praktike: any plan to invade Iran will involve minimal forces, something like 50-75K. It would take around thirty days and then we'd try to install one of the reasonable people and pull out immediately.

I'm sure that would be the Bush administration's plan, yes, since that was exactly their plan for invading Iraq. You're right: it is entirely possible that the Bush administration would assume that despite the fact that the plan didn't work for Iraq, they could re-use it for Iran.

it is entirely possible that the Bush administration would assume that despite the fact that the plan didn't work for Iraq, they could re-use it for Iran.

If at first you don't succeed...do whatever you want, it's not like it's based in reality anyway.

I think Praktike's invasion plan makes sense. After all, Iran only has about three times the population of Iraq, and almost four times the land area. Should be simple.

Jes, the fact that Donald Rumsfeld gets to keep his job and all of those (Powell, Pillar, Shinseki, White) who urged a different and more cautious course are gone should be instructive.

Sebastian, was your question rhetorical or do you have your own response?

there are no good options. As the Atlantic article points out, the president has three military options:

1. punitive strikes on republican guards
2. attempted demolition of nuclear sites (estimated 300+ targets) via air power
3. regime change.

1 will get the US nuked as soon as the iranians have finished the nuke. no thanks.
2 will simply lead the iranians to rebuild, then nuke the US. no thanks.
which leaves 3 -- regime change. We simply do NOT have the strength in the army to occupy iran. Let's say we send in the tanks and drive to Tehran. then what? iraq 2, with even less manpower per citizen than we have in iraq, plus victory for the jihadis in iraq.

plus, the iranians will see invasion coming a mile away. what kind of counterstrikes might they plan -- special ops here in the US? destruction of Iraqi oil facilities? mining of the persian gulf?

since the collapse of the soviet union, great power conservatives have believed that there were essentially no limits on the US exercise of hegemony. well, they were wrong -- invasion is hard, and occupation is harder. with the iraq war we called our own bluff, and showed the limits of current military power. unless US taxpayers are willing to support financially an "occupation" army of millions of young men and women as well as our current "strike" armed forces, we are tapped out militarily.

we should all remember that the US built nuclear weapons in the 1940s, with the equivalent of a 3rd world economy. the science is known; it's just a matter of engineering and political commitment.

so iran goes nuclear. the israelis will just have to engage in a regional version of MAD, and wait for islamism to collapse in the same way that america outlasted communism.

the US govt conduct over the last four years has provided a roadmap for regional security -- build nukes deep underground. what i'd like to know is how many countries other than iran and NK are accelerating their own nuke facilities. brazil?


Francis

Abiola: no, Victor is not making your point for you, he's undermining it by reference to reality. Even though the Soviet government was motivated by a lunatic religious ideology accompanied by frightening propaganda, the actual people in charge did, in fact, have a self-preservation instinct, as you pretty much have to to get and hold the reins of power in any state structure. And so deterrence-- not preemption-- worked, and worked well, for forty-odd years.

The Iranians, like the Soviets, are given to saber-rattling bluster but not to self-immolation. Deterrence is thus likely to work at least as well in their case as it did in the Cold War. Eventually the Iranian system will collapse from its own internal unworkability, just as the Soviet system did.

All this is *not* a case for equanimity; it's a case for putting dangers in perspective. A Cold War-style standoff with Iran is not a great option, but as many others have pointed out, no less bad ones are left.

BTW, your declaration in your linked post that an Iranian nuke "cannot be tolerated" is also extremely arrogant. Who the hell appointed us the arbiter of which nations are nice enough to "tolerate" with nukes and which are not? As the one power that has actually used nuclear weapons to commit mass murder of civilians, we have precisely zero moral standing to make such determinations.

why are we delegating this to Europe? Wouldn't it be better if the western negotiator could make a credible threat of force?

Jes, actually, I imagine that any plan to invade Iran will involve minimal forces, something like 50-75K. It would take around thirty days and then we'd try to install one of the reasonable people and pull out immediately. What follows, of course, is anybody's guess.

"They'll be home by Christmas", I think is how they put it in WWI. Which would be a pretty apt comparison if China decides they don't want their energy deals with the Iranians to go down the drain.

Forget a military invasion. You have to invade from somehere. An amphibious landing is impossible - there is no equipment for it and it multiplies supply chain problems. So your coming from Iraq, Turkey or Afghanistan. I don't see pakistan as an option. Turkey would probably not comply without a NATO mandate which I don't see. Afghanistan has no roads or other infrastructure so is not ideal and is not pacified either. This leaves Iraq which is one of the main reasons they invaded in the first place. It was always intended as the base for controlling Iran.

Iraq cannot be utilized as the base for attack by ground assault until it is pacified.

Iran is not Iraq. It is large with a well equipped military. There is a mountain range between Iraq and Iran. The supply lines would get demolished if an invasion and drive to Tehran was attempted.

I can't believe there wouldn't be a mutiny by the military if this was even attempted.

Now a bombing campaign - thats a different story

Actually, Nicholas, I think someone could make a credible case that Iran has immolated itself for no good reason, notably during the Iran/Iraq war. But I think their behavior is less ... crazy nowadays.

What behavior, as part of the I/I war, do you think represented self-immolation? The Iranians didn't start that war; Saddam invaded them. They used "human wave" tactics during the war which wasted enormous numbers of lives to no effect, but these tactics never put the members of the leadership in personal danger. I'm not claiming that the mullahs take any particular care to preserve the lives of their long-suffering subjects, but only that they act to preserve their own.

Wouldn't it be better if the western negotiator could make a credible threat of force?

It's not clear to me that we can make any more credible a threat than Europe can.

Is it too late to note that Nuclear Iran just might make a great name for a band?

"While agreeing with your general analysis of the situation - the Bush administration have made clear to the world that to avoid US invasion, a country had better have nukes"

"As for the Iranian getting Nukes, we have done more than our part to convince them that Nukes are a necessity."

This has just got to stop. You are all aware of the fact that Iran strongly sought nuclear weapons before Bush, right? This neatly fits with the explanation of why Democrats aren't taken seriously on foreign policy. Too many people on your side say things like this which make no sense whatsoever to anyone who knows anything about the situation. Bush did not cause North Korea to seek nuclear weapons. Bush did not cause Iran to seek nuclear weapons. Bush did not cause Libya to seek nuclear weapons, though he did scare them into revealing programs that no one at the UN knew about. If you operate from the premise that Bush has caused these countries to seek nuclear weapons, you aren't dealing with reality and it is no wonder that your analysis ends up looking silly.

[I think a have an idea for a scary political thriller... or a strangelovian satire]

Washington DC. A conference room, dimly lit. A couple of men, with turned up shirt sleeves, are obviously relaxing after some kind of meeting

- Go'dam, I-ran is a tough nut to crack. And now the gooks are making noise about protectin their gas supply. It's disgustin: the mullahs fueling the factories that steal our profits.

- Yeah, you know what that Foreign Office guy told me?

- What?

- He ranted about our contract policy beeing "widely perceived in Europe as a form of bellicose corporate prtotectionism" [mocks nasal oxbridge accent]

- Fuck, I'd expect that from a stinkin cheese or a kraut, but from our so-called ally? What's his complainin about, there're more fuckin ex-SAS security men than english soldiers in iraq!

- Well, that was his point, that it was the only contracts they were getting. And that South Africans are also big in the business, even though their government was against us. So now it all about the "detriment to the british financial sector of further tension in the Gulf".

- Wouldn'd it be great if you could use an all-mercenary force to invade I-ran? Like in the good ol'days, the 30 years war... you needed people, you rented a table inna pub, you signed up people and gave'em a few bucks... there you go, a new regiment!

- No question about that, it's the lack of troops that is putting behind schedule... the plan was clear, saddam for the '02 mid-terms, the mullahs in '04, and Kim in '06 for the mid-terms again... now we just squeezed through the presidential...

- Turd Blossom would always have pulled it one way or another, y'know what I mean... thingis, we screwed that short, sharp war thing with the boys home by christmas that would've given us the real landslide.

- Yeah, and now we're stuck in that tar pit. Who woulda thought those ragheads were going to be so uppity?

- Y'know, I've always have had that all that post-war stuff was no good for nuthin. And y'know what else? everybody's talkin about how we should do more of it. I reckon, we should do even less.

- How so? I don't follow.

- We lack troops for occupation, not invasion. So no occupation, no lack, and everythin is green!

- But you heard what the brass said, how it was utterly imp...

- Screw the brass! Y'know, officers today are not made of same stuff that in the ol'days. Now they all got phd's. And you know how pernicious that reality-based community thinkin is, it will turn even a patriot into a weasely flip-floper.

- So you're suggesting...

- ...just in an out! ya know about the ol'in-out, in-out, don't ya? her, her...

- I see what you're cumming... coming at, heh. The old mullahs were bad cuz the were mad sons of bitches and they had nukes, this mullah is bad too but that son of a bitch is with us, and he got no nuke.

- That's the deal.

- What if the new guy decide he wants nukes?

- Simple. We invade again. More glory to us.

- Yeah, I really like that... Veni, vidi, vici, ...huh, what's 'one more time' in latin?

- "ooh baby hit me one more time"! Y'know, they should have a USO show in Teheran with her, she's supporting our prez an all. Nuthin makes towelheads drool like a nice piece of american ass , and forget about those supposed 72 virgins. That what's the mullahs don't like about Britney, she has the freedom to show'em what a nice piece of american ass she is.

- amen. I'll see what I can do about the show. That would really enrage all the hippies. I reckon there will be more bitching and moaning about it than about the war. But if it gets through, you can consider those front-seat tickets yours.

- Thanks. See ya tommorrow, we'll have to explain this idea to people. Don't worry, they'll get our plan. As you say, they'll be bitchin an moanin like the girlie-men they are, but in the end we'll have our way.

- Bye

Nicholas, the Iran/Iraq war had pretty much wound down to a halt, and Iran decided to invade Iraq. Saddam had recognized his folly and reached out for a diplomatic solution, but Iran was emboldened with revolutionary fervor. They sent thousands of Iranian youth--as young as 11,12--to their deaths without so much as weapons or even shoes.

I'd say that qualifies as crazy, wouldn't you?

praktike: deciding to press on for victory when a negotiated peace is in reach and would be a lot less costly is indeed a terribly wasteful and stupid thing to do. But it's happened too often around the world for me to take it as evidence of the particular craziness or lack of self-preservation instinct of the Iranian leadership. (See e.g. WWI).

The unarmed human wave attacks convey complete lack of desire to preserve the lives of one's subject population, but again, that's not what I'm arguing about. I'll bet none of the 11-12 year old sons of prominent government officials were among those sent on these attacks.

I'm not saying Bush CAUSED Iran to want nukes. But by going after a country that was not a nuclear threat, and in fact was no threat at all, and by ignoring North Korea and Iran, he arguably demonstrated that nuclear weapons may be the only and best defense against "regime change". He certainly has done nothing to deter them. He might have deterred Libya, but he never telegraphed to Libya that they might be next.

This is a very old GOP trick: when you criticize policies that have made us less secure and helped Iran, North Korea and Osama bin Laden, they cry "see, they're blaming America first again." I'm not blaming Bush for Iran wanting nukes--I'm blaming him for helping to convince them it's a good idea, and doing nothing to stop them. I'm not blaming Bush for Bin Laden trying to murder us, I'm blaming him for failing to take reasonable steps to stop him instead of running off to slay a fictional dragon in Iraq.

Sebastian, what exactly is your point here?

It's like you want to show your hand and then keep betting with other people's money. The US is no longer in a position to prevent Iran from building nukes because we discarded diplomacy in order to draw to a military straight. All our cards are already on the table, and Don Q was merely pointing out that before we invaded Iraq while ignoring NK, nukes were a geostrategic luxury item. Now they're a stone cold necessity.

Your response to this is to nervously insist that "the Europeans" and the "fact-based community" have some sort of obligation to do something about Iran's nuke program. What do you want them to do? Invade? Drop their own nukes? Stop buying Iranian oil? What, you think Iran can't find other places to sell oil?

For pete's sake do we need allies or don't we? When it was all "coalition of the willing" and "gathering threat" and "evidence in the form of a mushroom cloud" you didn't think we needed allies, let alone a UN mandate. Fine. Now we don't have allies. What in the hell are you complaining about?

"The US is no longer in a position to prevent Iran from building nukes because we discarded diplomacy in order to draw to a military straight."

What does this mean? Do you believe that Iran was amenable to purely diplomatic means of getting rid of their nuclear program? Why in the world would you think that?

"For pete's sake do we need allies or don't we? When it was all "coalition of the willing" and "gathering threat" and "evidence in the form of a mushroom cloud" you didn't think we needed allies, let alone a UN mandate."

I don't believe I'm the one arguing that diplomacy was likely to be successful with Iraq. The available 'allies' seem to available for diplomacy only. As such Iran is yet another failure of the international community's pathetic attempts to pretend that diplomacy solves most ills. The lesson learned from that according to you is apparently.... nothing.

What does this mean?

I asked you first! :P

Do you believe that Iran was amenable to purely diplomatic means of getting rid of their nuclear program?

No, and neither do I consider that relevant. What I'm saying is that the US is not in a position to credibly apply either diplomatic or (conventional) military pressure on Iran regarding its nuclear program. And certainly not economic pressure. This is because our diplomatic position is now very weak and our (conventional) military strength is now no longer open to debate.

Furthermore, our inability to apply (conventional) military pressure has hampered the European ability to apply diplomatic pressure, since we are no longer able to play "bad cop" in situations like that. cf. Iraq, prior to US invasion.

That leaves our ability to leverage the ability of other states to apply economic pressure. In which regard our former allies are now presenting us with reluctant but unmistakable votes of no confidence. Thus my confusion about why you felt like you ought to be able to bet other people's money...

The available 'allies' seem to available for diplomacy only.

Precisely the point. I guess I was a little too oblique, but bravo for getting it. Diplomatic and certain kinds of economic pressure are what they are capable of. You seem to expect Europeans to apply such pressures in Iran, despite our having made it more difficult for them, and after we made it abundantly clear that we considered such pressure inherently ineffective.

Now what part of "what do you want them to do?" were you having trouble with?

Slarti: Is it too late to note that Nuclear Iran just might make a great name for a band?

So long as it's not pronounced Nukular.

Someguy,

I'm not blaming Bush for Iran wanting nukes--I'm blaming him for helping to convince them it's a good idea, and doing nothing to stop them.

What makes you think that they didn't think nukes were a good idea already? What makes you think that they ever wanted to avoid having them?

Sebastian,

As such Iran is yet another failure of the international community's pathetic attempts to pretend that diplomacy solves most ills.

True. I'm hearing rumors that it's over - Iran now has nukes. Now, I'm curious to ask you why Bush relied on this failed international diplomatic effort. I mean, you can blame the Europeans for believing that this would work despite many indications that it would not - but I'd gather it's time to blame Bush for sticking with it.

I think the "khaddafi-got-scared-shitless-beacause-of -what-happened-to-saddam-so-he-dropped-his-nuke" trope needs to be debunked.

Negotiations about normalisation between Libya and the West had been going on since the end of the last century. It was convenient for the parties, and especially for the Bush admin, that they came to fruition at this point in time.

Maybe Iran was amenable to a diplomatic resolution before the Bush administration, maybe they weren't. It would have been worth finding out which. Now we probably can't, since nothing we can credibly offer the Iranians outweighs the value of deterring a "preventive" war.

So, however difficult it may have been to coax Iran out of getting a nuke before (and it probably was pretty difficult), the Bush Doctrine has made it even more difficult. Making this argument certainly does *not* require you to believe that Iran had no nuclear ambitions pre-Bush, and indeed such a belief seems to be a strawman.

So long as it's not pronounced Nukular.

Hey, if it's good enough for Jimmy Carter and Homer Simpson, it's good enough for me.

Seriously, that's one of my pet peeves. It sets my teeth on edge whenever I hear it.

Seriously, that's one of my pet peeves.

People pronouncing it that way, or people pointing out when others pronounce it that way?

Victor, the worst part about the Libya story is that the guy most responsible for it, Stephen Kappas, just got disgusted w/ the Goss purge and quit the CIA. But at least we still have a bunch of hacktackular former GOP House staffers keeping us safe now, eh?

praktike, no offense, but your comments consistently ruin my day. I think I may start opting for ignorance.

People pronouncing it that way

That.

My pet peeve: people pronouncing it that way on purpose.

Sebastian,

quite seriously, do you have point other than: "europe diplomacy -- bad"?

i mean, it's not like that's news to anyone here.

and even if you're correct (and i'm not conceding the point), so what? what harm to US interests are the europeans causing? your guy won, remember? the next president doesn't believe in international diplomacy if it consists of anything other than blind support for the US position. you can stop campaigning now.

i'll note your singular lack of any comments as to what the US should do now.

and that's really what matters. because it seems to me that the two most likely targets for a truly suicidal Islamic regime would be Tel Aviv and Washington.

oddly enough, i'm not looking forward to that occurring, no matter how many right wingnuts accuse people like me of hating america.

Francis

Sorry, rilkefan. Are you of draft age?

At 36 I guess I'm safe from the draft, unless they develop an interest in very near-sighted multilingual physicists with average computer skills and an inclination to iambic pentameter. Actually a friend of mine keeps telling me I should apply to the CIA - but now doesn't seem like the time.

"quite seriously, do you have point other than: "europe diplomacy -- bad"?

i mean, it's not like that's news to anyone here.

and even if you're correct (and i'm not conceding the point"

It isn't news, but you aren't conceeding the point?

I hammer on it, because so many people want to return to it as an approach. I hammer on it because so many people act as if toothless resolutions are real diplomatic triumphs. I hammer on it because relying on international cooperation is relying on a joke. I hammer on it because Europe doesn't want it brought before the UNSC because then they will have to take a public position on sanctions.

We have to decide if we can allow Iran to get nuclear bombs. I think the answer is obviously no. So either we have to go in and get strong inspections with an international agreement to bomb with no notice any site where the inspectors are not allowed, or we have to bomb all the sites, or we have to invade. Both of the first two options are very possible, but the international community is so involved in pretending that the 'process' is working that they won't even talk about what is needed for tough inspections.

Sebastian, I think you are mistaken in one of your asumptions--Iran had given up its nuclear weapons program and was open to ispections before Bush made his "axis of evil" speach. Afterwards, of course, they decided to arm themselves.
What we have here is a debate between people who say, with increasing hysteria, THEY HAVE NUKES! THIS CAN'T BE! YOU LIBERALS MUST DO SOMETHING BECAUSE IT MUST BE YOUR FAULT SOMEHOW!" and the people who, quite sensibly, ask,"What are the alternatives?" and point out that none of the alternatives will achieve the goal of stopping Iran from getting nukes.
Bush fucked up. He created another unsolvable mess.

If the president thinks that, without the help of any allies, he can get the iranians to agree to coercive inspections, he's free to try.

'cause he's the president.

the president, if he's so inclined, can reject the offer made by the iranians to the european nations and insist on a better, more verifiable agreement.

'cause he's the president.

if he fails, he's free to try bombings and/or invasion and for that process he's welcome to try to get allied support.

'cause he's the president.

but if he fails at both endeavors, and the war starts to go badly, i expect, Sebastian, that you'll understand if the French don't suddenly offer their assistance.

'cause he's not their president.

Francis

What does this mean? Do you believe that Iran was amenable to purely diplomatic means of getting rid of their nuclear program? Why in the world would you think that?

At one point Iran thought Nukes would be nice, now they think Nukes is a life and death issue, and there can't be any compromise.

Short of going to war, there is nothing we can do to prevent Iran from getting Nukes.

Neither the EU, Russia nor China are going to help us diplomatically or militarily, hell they might actually back the Iranians. this is the result of the Bush's administrations attitude "My way or the Highway".


Are you ready to go to war with a Country of 70 million with a functional military, a functional economy and the active & inactive support of pretty evry country in the world?

At one point Iran thought Nukes would be nice, now they think Nukes is a life and death issue, and there can't be any compromise.

This narrative has its basis in reality... how?

Short of going to war, there is nothing we can do to prevent Iran from getting Nukes.

There's sanctions, maybe blockades, maybe bombing of selected sites. That's short of war, I'd say.

Neither the EU, Russia nor China are going to help us diplomatically or militarily, hell they might actually back the Iranians. this is the result of the Bush's administrations attitude "My way or the Highway".

.. and not the predictable result of obstructionist behavior on these countries part that was in plain sight before the Bush administration came to be. Right.

At one point Iran thought Nukes would be nice, now they think Nukes is a life and death issue, and there can't be any compromise.

This narrative has its basis in reality... how?


North korea has nukes, no invasion!!
Iraq had no Nukes, invasion!

Short of going to war, there is nothing we can do to prevent Iran from getting Nukes.

There's sanctions, maybe blockades, maybe bombing of selected sites. That's short of war, I'd say.

Iran is already under US sanctions. China needs the Oil therefore China will veto all and any trading sanctions brought to the UN. There will no blockades, since it would be equally easy for the Iranians to blockade the Straight of Hormuz, no more Saudi, Koweiti or Iraqi black gold flowing to the Indian Ocean.

If you bomb, do remember that you may not hit the target you want, but Iran now has practically an infinite selection of US targets to retaliate against.

Neither the EU, Russia nor China are going to help us diplomatically or militarily, hell they might actually back the Iranians. this is the result of the Bush's administrations attitude "My way or the Highway".

.. and not the predictable result of obstructionist behavior on these countries part that was in plain sight before the Bush administration came to be. Right.

To paraphrase Churchill: England has no permanent friends just interest.

North korea has nukes, no invasion!! Iraq had no Nukes, invasion!

You've got a narrative based upon an inference - not any facts. Given that the Iranian Nuclear program began well before the Iraq war, this doesn't hold up. There was no indication that Iran was all casual about its Nuclear program and willing to give it up before the Iraq war. It's just silly to imply this.

Iran is already under US sanctions. China needs the Oil therefore China will veto all and any trading sanctions brought to the UN.

Hey, what happened to your previous assessment as to why we wouldn't get UN approval: "this is the result of the Bush's administrations attitude "My way or the Highway"?

There will no blockades, since it would be equally easy for the Iranians to blockade the Straight of Hormuz, no more Saudi, Koweiti or Iraqi black gold flowing to the Indian Ocean.

Good point. I have no idea whether this makes sense, it's just been kicking around out there.

To paraphrase Churchill: England has no permanent friends just interest.

I'm sufficiently confused now as to how Bush is responsible for the inability to make the UN act on this. Mind you, I don't think Bush helps matters any, and often makes things worse in this regard. But the situation has been sufficiently screwed up for long enough that I can't honestly point to him as the man who made it all manifest.

There's sanctions, maybe blockades, maybe bombing of selected sites. That's short of war, I'd say.

Short of war? Both blockades and, oddly enough, bombing a country, are acts of war.

"Iran is already under US sanctions. China needs the Oil therefore China will veto all and any trading sanctions brought to the UN."

Which was true under Clinton. So the lack of international cooperation is Bush's fault or not? Nearly all of your evidence for how Bush has screwed things up predates 2001--the year became President.

And yes, blockades, sanctions and bombings are all traditionally acts of war. But they can be short of invasion which is probably Jonas' point.

Iran's nuclear program predates Bush. Structuring an argument that ignores that fact is likely to lead to useless analysis.

We have to decide if we can allow Iran to get nuclear bombs. I think the answer is obviously no.

I don't like the idea of one more country with a history of political instability having nuclear bombs, no: we'll take that as a given.

So either we have to go in and get strong inspections with an international agreement to bomb with no notice any site where the inspectors are not allowed or we have to bomb all the sites, or we have to invade. Both of the first two options are very possible, but the international community is so involved in pretending that the 'process' is working that they won't even talk about what is needed for tough inspections.

Ah, so the problem is "the international community"? (Cites? You do currently seem to have a habit of posting your opinions, unbacked by facts or citations.)

Currently, with regard to Iran, the US is helpless. The US can't "go in and get strong inspections" either physically (no army to do it with) or morally (last time the US got strong inspection teams from the UN, the US then stopped the inspections and started a bombing campaign).

The US could bomb all the sites where nuclear weapons might be being developed. Doing so, however, would be an act of war: and given that the Bush administration have proved to the world that they will act on intelligence that they know to be faulty and lie about it, with regard to the fabled WMD stockpiles/nuclear program in Iraq, it seems unlikely that the Bush administration could convince anyone that a mass bombing of Iran was the right thing to do. Except, of course, those who really matter: the majority of the American electorate.

The US can't invade, because, thanks to Bush, the US military is completely occupied in Iraq. That's the foreign policy that 51% of those who voted, voted for: I don't know whether that included you, but it's fruitless to complain about it now. (Bush could, of course, "cut and run" from Iraq, and I'm sure if he does, his administration will be able to spin this decision in a way you will find acceptable. Possibly by invading Iran.)

So: Iran having nuclear weapons would be a bad thing. That's a given. There's nothing in the world the US can do about it, thanks to Bush, but you voted for Bush (I assume) so that's the situation you want the US to be in: helpless with regard to Iran. (I assume.)

Since you actively preferred the administration who made the US helpless to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, I find it strange that you complain that others appear helpless to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Surely if you see helplessness as right for the US, it's right for the rest of the world?

No?

I'd like to check the lay of the land, it seems we're getting down to the dirty details. Y'know, like when Dubya picks up his phone and calls his international lawyer (is it Gonzales? or is he just the torture lawyer?).


  • Iran is a full party of the NPT. Hence they have committed themselves not to develop nuclear weapons, and would subject themselves to an array of sanctions, from a condemnation all the way up to full-blown Iraq-style invasion.

  • In theory, IAEA inspections are to determine wether a country is developing weapons or not.
    A problem is that any country with a full-blown civilian programme becomes a paranuclear state. Countries such as Sweden or Canada could have a few operational bombs within 12 months tops from when the decision was taken, and possibly in as little as 6 months; Japan has so much plutonium it would immediately become the fifth-largest nuclear power, before Israel, India and Pakistan.
    So even if the Iranian programme is 100% civilian, you could justifiably argue that when ready it means Iran is within a year from become a nuclear power.

  • Inspections work when they're on a "trust, but verify" basis. The USSR and the USA trusted each other to share a common mutual interest in disarmement during the Gorbachev/Reagan period of the cold war.
    The Iran and Israel/USA regimes don't trust each other one bit. The latter believe nothing short of force will hinder Iran getting nukes; the former that "Zionists/Crusaders" are out to get them, and are using the nuclear issue to frame them as crooks as an excuse to implement regime change.
    In Iraq, the western allies so distrusted Iraq to the point they managed to convince the whole world and themselves(?), that Saddam had some kind of WMD programme, in some form. Only verification of the absence of evidence could have shown him right. Anybody with some inkling in the theory of science will tell you this is as unfalsifiable as the "moon is made of green cheese theory"; they're always another mountain beneath which there could be a secret bunker, etc.

  • Who's right? As stated above, even a fully legitimate programme is a step closer to the bomb, and as I've understood it, there are many clues that it has been designed with a more dual-purpose than that in mind.
    As to Iran's claims, their credililty, whatever their original standing, has been tremendously increased by the WMD debacle in the post-invasion phase of the Iraq War. And let's face it, the Iran hardliners are not beating around around the shrub very hard (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) that's it regime change they really want.

In view of all this what to say about the status latest negotiations between Iran and the EU3(D,F,GB)? I'll admit that hardly followed neither them or earlier rounds, until the last few days.
In that fantaspectular show that is the Global War On Terra(tm), the main attraction lately have been the Fallujah Fireworks , and that Iran thing felt like a dull rehash of the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. Also, I was probably hoping that a Bush poll defeat would render the whole issue moot.
A quick googling of the latest news will leave you as informed as I am.
However, maybe you'll accept this information as the basis of my obligatory 0.02€.

Iran recently threatned to withdraw from the NPT. I guess the teheranologues will debate if this a bluff, a signal that now they're gonna get it, a sign of impending flinching, a split between hardliners and girlie-mullahs, or whatever.
I find it interesting that Iran seems to have a wholly different aproach compared with the DPRK, probably due to they're very aware of who gets the silver and bronze medals in the Axis of Evil(tm), and that JuChe makes Iran look like a positive international star socialite.

I think the strategy of Iran is to push the envelope: get as far as possible in their nuclear programme, and no further, as to not incur significant sanctions or military action. As to the goal that this strategy is supposed to achieve, the 'why' of Iran's nuclear weapons, and therefore the 'how' of what's most likely to dissuade them from aquiring them, I refer to the second post in this thread.

What reaction is to be expected of the Bush administarion to that?
Here I think some simple playground psychology provides the answer; Dubya, like the young emperor of a certain hegemonistic WWI great power, is a bully type, in both the realms of personnal relations and international diplomacy.
The mullahs are are the class buffoon that try to see how far thay can taunt and tease the bully without getting whacked pour encourager les autres.
Game theoretically speaking, the balance of benefit is for the bully to strike too soon rather than too late. Too soon will get him a reprimand for starting fights, something that hardly matters if it is usual habit anyway. Too late, on the other hand, could cost him his position at the top of the pecking order.
Nota bene, this is over and on top of the 'dissuasion point of no return' that a sufficiently advanced nuclear programme can reach.

I'd like to thank praktike for the inspiration of 'fantaspectular', from his, as you'd say in swenglish, wordtogethersmashing "hacktackular"; and generally for inspiration in a very interesting thread, along with all other ObsiWi readers. Thank you all, for making this blog a great place.

And yes, blockades, sanctions and bombings are all traditionally acts of war. But they can be short of invasion which is probably Jonas' point.

No, sanctions are not necessarily acts of war, no matter if the word is in bold type or not. Revoking a nation's favored trading status is not an act of war. Revoking economic aid is not an act of war. Refusing to attend the Olympics is not an act of war.

A bit pedantic, but when someone dismisses bombing hundreds of sites in another country as being "short of war", something needs to be said.

once again, i'm baffled by the arguments of the righties. let's see if some progress can be made.

Seb:

I will unconditionally, absolutely and without reservation AGREE that there is plenty of blame to be laid at the feet of previous administrations (yes, dating all the way back to Carter) for the failure of the US to deal with the nuclear ambitions of both Iran and NK.

satisfied?

me neither. frankly, we both know that the opposition party at any time prior to 9/11 over the last 30? years would have come UNGLUED at the thought of preemptive war. remember the abuse that Clinton got, for being both too militaristic and insufficiently effective for Operation Desert Fox? or how a very few neocons were arguing for preemptive war against NK in the 1990s, unsupported by either the dems or mainstream repubs? i do. but so what?

now what? so i concede that every single problem in the US today can be laid solely at bill clinton's feet (plus France). given the situation that we're committed to in iraq, what outcome do you want for Iran? (keep it real, or i'll be asking for a winning lottery ticket in addition to your other 1 in 10 million chance outcomes.)

you said: "Iran's nuclear program predates Bush. Structuring an argument that ignores that fact is likely to lead to useless analysis."

why? how does your analysis of the various strategies facing the US change in light of the date of the commencement of iran's nuclear program? or is your strategy simply to blame a democrat?

Francis

A bit pedantic, but when someone dismisses bombing hundreds of sites in another country as being "short of war", something needs to be said.

No, you're dead right on the money. I was sloppy; I was speaking to the argument that Iraq constrains our ability to invade and conquer Iran; but this does not preclude a bombing campaign of nuclear-oriented sites.

Which was true under Clinton. So the lack of international cooperation is Bush's fault or not? Nearly all of your evidence for how Bush has screwed things up predates 2001--the year became President.

When Clinton was president, most US allies, hell most countries would have done him favors if there was no or minimal political cost to them, since Bush came to power and in particular since the beginning of our great adventure in Iraq, most US allies, hell most Countries will go out of their way to screw the US even if there is some political cost, usually there is no cost and just benefits.

Where does this change of attitude come from?

Sebastian,

George has been pResident for four years now, you really should get over this "Blame Clinton" attitude.

The question you should start asking is:

What has President Bush done to solve problem X? X being whatever problem/issue you think is important!

Personnaly I can't think of a single problem/issue that George has solved or ameliorated (created or accerbatted, the list is long and the day is really short).

George has been pResident for four years now...

While I find the substance of your post pertinent, DQ, could you please never again to that stupid "pResident" BS in re George W Bush? It irked me even before November 2nd; it's remarkably silly nowadays. Plus, it makes it harder for your point to be taken seriously, which I think it should.

[BTW, "accerbatted" should be "exacerbated", right?]

George has been pResident for four years now, you really should get over this "Blame Clinton" attitude.

Don, while agreeing with the general sentiments, Bush did just win the popular vote by three million or so: we'll have to give up calling him the Resident. Besides, it's unnecessarily provocative. Let's stay civil.

That said, I'd love for Sebastian to explain what he thinks Bush has done to solve the problem of international hostility and noncooperation with the US. He can take it as a given that it's all Clinton's fault, if he likes, but show what Bush has done since January 20 2001 to solve the problem.

I hav'nt quite gotten over the 2000 coup yet, so you're asking for a lot :).

The fact that the leader of the Junta got reelected after starting & losing two wars, destroying the budget and creating more poverty, unemployment & misery has left me totally flabbergasted.

All that is left to do now is to catalog the failures & disaters that are coming down the pike.

I hav'nt quite gotten over the 2000 coup yet, so you're asking for a lot :).

Not asking you to get over it. Just asking you to avoid distracting from the serious and valid point you are making by using inflammatory rhetorical devices, such as referring to Bush as the Resident.

To be technical about this, George will not be President until January 20 th, when the term for which he got elected starts.

Don, I have strong issues with the 2000 election, which I have gone into on more appropriate threads than this. Nevertheless, whether you consider Bush to have been appointed or elected, validly so or invalidly so, he has been President of the US since 20 January 2000: disputing that fact is distraction from other more important arguments.

Sod. since 20 January 2000

2001. Of course. *slaps self*

I'm not blaming Clinton for the international community's fecklessness regarding proliferation. Where did I do that?

I am mentioning that it was the same under Clinton BECAUSE YOUR ARGUMENT IS THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ISN'T HELPFUL DUE TO BUSH'S ACTIONS.

See the difference?

"remember the abuse that Clinton got, for being both too militaristic and insufficiently effective for Operation Desert Fox?"

I hate to be rude, but I think the situation is slightly (but not much) more complicated. Clinton got abuse for bombing Iraq on the eve of impeachment when he had ignored the problem before, and THEN not following through with forcing the resumption of inspections after the bombing. That led to the unfortunate impression that he bombed Iraq as a ploy to avoid internal trouble. Whatever the explanation, I think he was right to go after Iraq, but his lack of follow-through made his actions look suspicious. And that is how you can get attacks which go both ways. By avoiding those facts, yes you can make the position look ridiculous.

The NPT is designed with a threat in mind. Most of the ratifiers no longer desire to follow through with the threat. That is why the NPT is now effectively undead--it is a sick perversion of its living self.

The NPT is designed with a threat in mind. Most of the ratifiers no longer desire to follow through with the threat. That is why the NPT is now effectively undead--it is a sick perversion of its living self.

The NPT is a weak treaty. It includes no enforcement mechanism, and allows nations to unilaterally withdraw on 90 days notice with no penalties.

Complaining that weak treaties are weakly enforced makes no sense.

To cut through the blamefest, could I ask for a synopsis about what people think could be done to prevent the Iranian nuke development?

A military option seems to me unfeasible, including limited bombing. Even if successful in delaying the technical development of weapons, the political side effects of a bombing campaign would very likely cause even more unrest in Iraq, if possible, and would likely destabilize the Pakistani government, which would have truly frightful results, in my opinion.

Any Israeli military actions would have the same effect, but squared.

I doubt sanctions would work, as global diplomacy is in shreds.

And I don't think that a military blockade would work without the support of a lot of other nations, which is unlikely, because global diplomacy is in shreds.

So what's left?

"what's left?"

grin and bear it?

Not clear to me that Iranian nukes are at all worse than Pakistani nukes. Iran has a stronger, more stable govt and a lot of bright young people ready to engage in and contribute to world society when they get a chance.

There is also still a nontrivial possibility that the Iranians are telling the truth about their peaceful intentions in enriching uranium, and the people accusing them of secretly developing nukes are just lying. Not a very large possibility, certainly not anywhere near 50%, but big enough to be a source of real caution.

The best evidence in favor of this possibility is that so many of the people who have claimed publicly to know that Iran is secretly developing nukes are either:

1. neocons in the Bush admin or its circle of lackey think-tanks

2. Iranian opposition groups in exile

Given the record of these sorts of people vis-a-vis Iraq's WMD, their accusations should be presumed to have very little if any evidentiary value-- indeed no more than, say, the pronouncements of Iranian government officials.

Again, the suspicions are nevertheless *probably* justified. But I think foreign leaders might quite reasonably demand independent corroboration (i.e. from non-US, non-exile sources) of any proffered evidence against Iran before acting on same. Those who have cried wolf once cannot expect to be effective at raising a second alarm.

Iran needs a peaceful nuclear program because they have to pay too much to foreign countries for other natural resources to produce electricity?

Double plus ungood, if you are willing to write off military action from the beginning, you undercut diplomacy. You also don't have much hope in diplomacy. So it sounds like you are part of the 'hope it doesn't matter' crowd? Is that correct? Becauase you have cut out all the other options.

Seb:

your comment on Desert Fox is fair and insightful.

but i still think you're mischaracterizing the position of a lot of the dems here.

my point, such as it is, is only this:

A. the US gets out of international treaties and alliances what it is willing to put in.

B. European countries can, in certain circumstances, be persuaded to join the US in military operations.

C. Having allies along for the ride has a number of benefits: (1) they are a force multiplier, especially to the extent that their troops specialize in areas, like peacekeeping, where the US is traditionally weak; (2) having allies along can bring international legitmacy and, therefore, possible additional soft power contributions from countries not contributing to the military effort.

D. To the extent that the US is perceived as lying to its allies (Powell), disrespecting their legitimate concerns (Rumsfeld) and acting in violation of the international "laws" (i.e., customs) of war (Gitmo, Abu Ghraib), foreign elected governments will be reluctant to assist the US, due to the opposition of their own constituents. The effect, therefore, of being perceived as a thug/rogue nation is that the US's own power is diminished.

yes, it would be nice if european powers had more feck, and didn't free-ride on US military expenditures as much. but as best i can tell, they're being rational actors in light of US policy. We want to be the big guy on the block, and we are. We have unprecedented power in the history of the world to engage in military actions anywhere on the planet. We don't need any allies.

but having allies enhances american power and Bush has acted in a way, in my perception, to diminish that power without substantial justification.

Francis

There is also still a nontrivial possibility that the Iranians are telling the truth about their peaceful intentions in enriching uranium, and the people accusing them of secretly developing nukes are just lying.

I wonder if we are going to see an Iranian exile leader sitting next to Laura Bush at the State of the Union...

Seb, you seem really slippery on this when anyone tries to pin you down on what you think should be done.

Do you think that any meaningful military action is at all possible? Sure, bombing the republican guards is military action, but do you think it'll accomplish anything? Other than contributing to the Taliban taking over Pakistan and gaining access to nukes, which would be a net loss in my books.

I don't see what is so slippery about:

I think the answer is obviously no. So either we have to go in and get strong inspections with an international agreement to bomb with no notice any site where the inspectors are not allowed, or we have to bomb all the sites, or we have to invade. Both of the first two options are very possible, but the international community is so involved in pretending that the 'process' is working that they won't even talk about what is needed for tough inspections.

To reiterate we either have to have A) tough inspections with authorized bombing of sites which are not open for inspection, or we B) have to bomb because no sites are open for inspection.

I know the use of force isn't a popular view around here, but it isn't a view that is 'slippery'.

The other options are:
C) Explictly give up and say that Iran can have the bomb not only allowing Iran the bomb, but providing a great blueprint for how to get it;

D) Implicitly give up by going along with a toothless treaty (the current European approach) further supporting the idea that gaming the NPT is the best way to get Europe to provide cover for your nuclear program.

Choose one of the above or propose an alternative. But around here I've seen a lot of "I hate A and B" from people who don't seem to want to admit that C and D are the other options.

Thank you, I missed that earlier post, and my apologies.

Now, if the US starts bombing Iran, what do you think will happen in Iraq and, more importantly, Pakistan?

Just to clarify, I don't automatically reject the use of force. I supported the overthrow of the Taliban, and supported the threat of force in Iraq to get them to comply with inspections. And if I thought that military force would be successful in preventing further nuclear proliferation, I would support that too.

Well, we have already invaded Iraq and by many accounts the Iranian government is already providing only barely deniable support to the insurgents there. So I would be surprised if things change much.

I don't understand the question about Pakistan.

Which of the 4 choices do you advocate by the way?

Sebastian: So either we have to go in and get strong inspections with an international agreement to bomb with no notice any site where the inspectors are not allowed...

Actually I think that's an excellent plan. But why do we need an international agreement? Why not just tell Iran to let us go where we please or else?

Sebastian: well, they may think their current sources of enriched uranium for nuclear power are of doubtful stability due to the current international climate, and may also just want the prestige of being autarkic in this respect. Plenty of countries have done plenty of stupid things for the prestige and/or security that autarky supposedly confers.

Note again that I'm not claiming this is the most likely explanation; the most likely explanation so far is that they are in fact covertly developing nukes. I'm claiming only that this is a plausible enough explanation that one oughtn't rule it out entirely, especially given the total untrustworthiness of the sources making the accusations of a covert nuke program.

Radish, it seems very likely that we will have to do just that once the diplomacy charade plays out a little further.

I think you are drastically underestimating the trouble that military action against Iran would cause in Iraq, Sebastian. Whether or not Iran is presently supporting the insurgents, I have no doubt they could do a lot worse if they chose. How do you expect SCIRI and Dawa to react, for a start?

Even if Iran could not cause much trouble directly in Iraq, there would still be substantial damage from an attack. I'm not sure if you pay much attention to what Jack Straw says, but I can tell you that the British government has repeatedly and explicitly stated that military action against Iran is utterly beyond the pale. If it happens I would expect UK forces to be withdrawn from Iraq, ASAP. I'm not sure Tony Blair could survive as Prime Minister if they wern't.

All of that is just a side-issue, though. The real question is whether military action will be effective. I take it from your advocacy that you think it will. If I thought a limited bombing campaign (i.e. no massive strikes on urban areas) would be effective then I would support it. But I'm absolutely certain that won't be sufficient.

Sebastian: it seems very likely that we will have to do just that [tell Iran to let us go where we please or else] once the diplomacy charade plays out a little further.

And what on earth do you imagine that "or else" can consist of?

As already discussed, the US does not have the capability to invade Iran: Bush has ensured that. (And you, apparently, support this.)

George is going with option D.

D) Implicitly give up by going along with a toothless treaty (the current European approach) further supporting the idea that gaming the NPT is the best way to get Europe to provide cover for your nuclear program.

And considering that he 's not afraid of sending other people's kids to war, that should tell you something about the position we are in at this time.


Most of our Army has been sucked up by our "Great Adventure in Iraq", and will continue to be until the US population decides that it's tired of losing a couple of kids a day,not counting the wounded and the cripples coming back.

So unless you're willing to restart the draft, seriously raise taxes and do a whole bunch of very unpleasant things, Iran will be a Nuclear Power.

Sebastian: I don't understand the question about Pakistan.

The Pakistani government, while an ally of the US, is balancing on a knife edge between supporting the US while holding off a broad-based Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalist movement that has tendrils in the military and government. You may recall that the Taliban received significant aid and support from Pakistan.

Said fundamentalists are enraged by Musharraf's support for America, and I suspect that there are a number of games being played there by all parties involved.

One of the more nightmarish scenarios that emerges from war games involving a US military attack on Iran is that it results in a coup in Pakistan, overthrowing Musharraf and resulting in a islamic fundamentalist government.

Pakistan has nukes and a pretty decent delivery system. I'm far more comfortable with the Iranians having nukes than the equivalent of the Taliban having them. See this article in American Conservative for a take on that scenario.

A longstanding plan to overthrow Musharraf is carried out by senior Pakistani army officers loyal to the Islamic fundamentalists and with close ties to bin Laden. The coup is carried out in utmost secrecy.

Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI—a long-time supporter of the fundamentalists—in agreement with the plotters, takes control of the country’s nuclear arsenal and its codes. Within hours, and before news of the coup leaks out, Pakistan, now run by pro-bin Laden fundamentalists, loads two nuclear weapons aboard executive Lear jets that take off from a remote military airfield, headed for Tel Aviv and Ashdod. Detouring and refueling in east Africa, they approach Israel from the south. The crafts identify themselves as South African. Their tail markings match the given identification.

If I may, I would like to add to d-p-u's observation about Pak that SA is not nearly as stable as the American electorate seems to think. Their knife-edge is struturally very different because political power is totally centralized, but it poses the same practical problems.

BTW, anybody care to speculate on whether there are now US nukes on Saudi soil?

Seb: Which of the 4 choices do you advocate by the way?

I'm thinking that grin and bear it is probably going to be the final outcome. While I'd prefer no proliferation, sometimes you can't fix a problem without making the situation worse (See Iraq).

I doubt very much that there are nukes in SA. There are probably more than enough on the US navy vessels in the region. And should S.A. collapse, it would be embarrassing to lose weapons like that to nutcase terrorists.

Are you talking about SA as South Africa or Saudi Arabia? Almost certianly no nukes in either place. Regarding Pakistan we face the same problem we have faced since they got the bomb in the 1990s.

Jesurgislac, I have already responded to your question twice. First I did it on my own, second I did it in response to ++ungood's suggestion that I was being slippery. To reiterate for the third time:

So either we have to go in and get strong inspections with an international agreement to bomb with no notice any site where the inspectors are not allowed, or we have to bomb all the sites, or we have to invade. Both of the first two options are very possible, but the international community is so involved in pretending that the 'process' is working that they won't even talk about what is needed for tough inspections.

Also I wrote:

To reiterate we either have to have A) tough inspections with authorized bombing of sites which are not open for inspection, or we B) have to bomb because no sites are open for inspection.

I know the use of force isn't a popular view around here, but it isn't a view that is 'slippery'.

The other options are:
C) Explictly give up and say that Iran can have the bomb not only allowing Iran the bomb, but providing a great blueprint for how to get it;

D) Implicitly give up by going along with a toothless treaty (the current European approach) further supporting the idea that gaming the NPT is the best way to get Europe to provide cover for your nuclear program.


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