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October 29, 2005

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Number of nuclear bombs Israel is estimated to have: 82.
Number of nuclear bombs Iran is estimated to have: 0.

This isn't to say that the remarks weren't horrific and atrocious. Rather, it suggests that Israel is well positioned to dissuade attack or respond with effective annihilation to any use of nuclear weapons against it by a foreign ME power. This pretense that Muslim people, even very bad Muslim people, don't respond rationally to naked self-interest is what got us into the Iraq fiasco in the first place.

Concur. Hardline conservatives with Manichean worldviews, a boundless faith in the military option to solve a nation's political ills, and who enjoy pissing on the UN are crazy.

Well, it's nice to know that the strong tradition of Iranian leadership continues. To spring off SCMT's comment, though, I'm interested in whether Ahmadinejad is planning on actually moving Iran towards this position or whether he's more in the Mahathir mouth-off mold, talking a big game while not actually doing much of anything to back it up.

Bomb. Them. Now.

How much difference is there between this guy and those Shia being elected in Iraq?

Who has more influence with the elected Shia leadership in Iraq? This guy or US leaders?

The Shia in Iraq seem less radical than the Iranian version, but they still seem more kindred than different. Current US policy in Iraq has resulted in the empowerment of these types of guys. Just know it.

Gawd, it would be a horrific irony if the Iraq invasion led to an expansion of Iranian power that led to aggression against Israel...

McManus, was that written in your Ironist font?

Anyway, more generally, Charles has proved that the Iranian mullahs are, generally, malevolent jerks. What new controversy will he resolve in his next post? Stay tuned ....

This just in, Anderson: Saddam Hussein was not a nice man.

Also, the popcorn you're eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.

Also, the popcorn you're eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.

Anarch, bless you.

Charles: one of the country's most nettlesome nations should no longer exist

You mean 'one of the world's most nettlesome', yes? Little errors tend to blunt the effort at devastating irony.

A couple of funny links to liven things up (without first having read the thread).

http://pointfiveblog.com/index.php/2005/10/461

http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com/2005/10/iranian-threats.html

Right on, CB. And so what do we do?

Maybe we ought to build up Iraq as a bulwark against Iran. We'd want the government to be in Sunni hands, of course, so the bulwark would be plausible. Can't be to sure what a Sistani influenced government would do. (Although I guess Moqtada al Sadr has made some nationalist noises). Arm the Iraqis, although they'll need a pretty strong deterrent of some kind to keep those human waves from Iran at bay. Actually, the new new Iraqi government will have to have pretty good internal security too, because people who are sympathetic to Iran* have to be kept out of power, even if they might get a majority of votes in an election.

And where can we get someone who can hold this together, and be a credible enough threat to Iran. Couldn't be a nice person, I don't suppose.

* I'm not suggesting that Iraqi Shiites would prefer Iran in a confrontation with Iraq -- this test they've already had. The question is what Iraqi Shiites think about a confrontation between the US and Iran.

Well, I think we should wait to see how elections pan out in Iraq. Once the government is in place, we'll see whether they're willing to play ball with us against Iran. If they're not, we can just sponsor a coup, like the old days. We'll support a secular leader who'll take a hard line against Iran and keep his people in line.

The only problem is if he gets too big for his britches and tries to, you know, invate Kuwait or something.

Wasn't this the guy that Bush helped elect by mouthing off before the election?

And the Reagan era that you refer to was the pre-Howard Baker and other grownups era, correct?

CB, you're absolutely correct. Iran was and is far more of a danger to the US and its allies than Iraq ever was.

So you want to take them on? As the old expression goes, you and what army?

My own suspicion is that he is mostly just mouthing off. He's throwing red meat to his political base while avoiding any serious committment to a war on Israel.

That being said, I would shed no tears if God dropped a mountain on the man.

You mean 'one of the world's most nettlesome', yes?

Are you suggesting that Israel is one of the world's most nettlesome? There was no "little error" on my part.

So you want to take them on? As the old expression goes, you and what army?

If there is actionable intelligence that Iran is on the brink of having an atomic bomb, F/BRGORD, I wouldn't be opposed to precision strikes on their bomb-making facilities. Otherwise, the best we can do is assist the groups who oppose the mullahocracy and heap on some sanctions. Invasion is completely out of the question.

Charley, the Iranian Shiites are not the Iraqi Shiites. Different language, different views on the role of Islam in government.

Wasn't this the guy that Bush helped elect by mouthing off before the election?

No, LJ. Bush said a few things prior to the election, and the mullahs launched a nifty propaganda campaign, aided by anti-Bush elements in the media who took what they said at face value. Since the elections were closed to international monitors and because the theocrats whittled the list of candidates down to eight like-minded fellows, the only thing that can be said with factual certainty is that Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by the Guardian Council.

And the Reagan era that you refer to was the pre-Howard Baker and other grownups era, correct?

I don't think Khomeini's view changed, pre- or post-Baker.

the only thing that can be said with factual certainty is that Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by the Guardian Council

Well, it is comforting to see you at least demonstrating a bit of caution, as you said previously

The Iranian government staged an election yesterday and announced the winner to be Ahmadinejad. Nothing really changes since both candidates were fully vetted by the Guardian Council and neither would veer from GC dogma. The mullahs have proved to be master puppeteers. link

Reading that thread might remind you why some of us thought it was a dumb idea for Bush to express an opinion before the Iranian election (file that under the heading 'don't ask for trouble'), but I know you have safely filed comments like hilzoy's into the 'doesn't matter because this is what the mullahs had planned' folder. Though now, I'm confused. Is he simply a mouthpiece for mullah opinions or is he actually an agent? Because if he's just a mouthpiece, than his comments should have been unimportant and so Bush's speech isn't a 'historic' one, because he should have given it earlier if he really understood what was going on, but if Ahmadinejad is actually an agent, your comments attacking hilzoy's earlier post should be rethought.

I don't think Khomeini's view changed, pre- or post-Baker.
No, but Reagan's certainly did, so you should be a bit cautious when you hearken back to the day, as in:
Bringing us back to the days of the Reagan era, he stepped up and proclaimed that one of the country's most nettlesome nations should no longer exist.

What was that Russian phrase? Oh yeah, doveryay, no proveryay. Your man Ronnie was pretty taken with it, if I recall. Or am I thinking of a different Evil Empire?

Of course, you may be taking a trick from the master by trying to have it both ways at once:

With direct confrontation on nuclear matters, comes the opportunity to challenge the Iranian leadership to expand freedom and democracy. These channels need to be opened. link

but then averring in the same thread that
Targeted strikes with conventional weapons. Bunker busting nukes would do us more harm than good, politically. If Iran locates its military facilities too close to civilian populations, that's their problem. Also their problem if they consider our response to their belligerence an act of war.
link

Generally, keeping channels open and bombing sites back to the Stone Age are mutually incompatible, but I will suggest that the Bush isn't having anything to do with channels, unless it is to MSM journalists.

And your Iranian whiplash is complemented by your blog whiplash. I mean, if you go on trying to toss out red meat to the Redstate crowd (i.e. this post) and doing the soft shoe for Tacitus (journos as terror targets) and then posting both sets here, it just makes your opinions here look scattershot and haphazard.

Charley, the Iranian Shiites are not the Iraqi Shiites. Different language, different views on the role of Islam in government.

Sure. But there's certainly more than a surface affinity. Where did the leaders of Dawa spend the 1990s? Who funds SCIRI? Where do the pilgrims (and their money) to Karbala, Najaf, and other Iraqi sites come from? Who funds and supports Chalabi?

My point is only that Iraqi Shiites have a lot more in common with Iranian Shiites than they do with us. We had a situation where this didn't matter, and Iran was severely restrained in whatever it could do abroad. This situation no longer obtains.

Are the attitudes of Iraqi Shiites with regard to Israel more like ours, or more like those of the ruling clique in Iran? Doesn't the answer to this question matter?

CharleyCarp-

Are the attitudes of Iraqi Shiites with regard to Israel more like ours, or more like those of the ruling clique in Iran? Doesn't the answer to this question matter?

1. More and more like the ruling clique in Iran as the US occupation continues to radicalize the population in Iraq.

2. Yes so much so that I felt moved to answer, though it was directed to CB

Some might question the notion that the population of Iraq is becoming more radicalized, but while I could cite polls I think the continualy increasing casualty rates for our troops make the point better than any poll could.

CB - yes, there is a little error on your part, as the sentence makes no sense as written unless Iran owns Israel. Perhaps you meant "one of the nations most nettlesome to our country" or something like that.

Oh, and your spinning of Nell's completely accurate correction into a statement against Israel was particularly nasty and opportunistic.

What follows is an accurate chronology of United States involvement in the arming of Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war 1980-88. It is a powerful indictment of the president Bush administration attempt to sell war as a component of his war on terrorism. It reveals US ambitions in Iraq to be just another chapter in the attempt to regain a foothold in the Mideast following the fall of the Shah of Iran.

From
Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement


Whatever his complexes, Khomeini had no qualms about sending his followers, including young boys, off to their deaths for his greater glory. This callous disregard for human life was no less characteristic of Saddam Hussein. And, for that matter, it was also no less characteristic of much of the world community, which not only couldn't be bothered by a few hundred thousand Third World corpses, but tried to profit from the conflict.

From:
The United States and Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988

I don't think many of these American right-wing revolutionaries can appreciate the complex world of the Middle East.

"It would be a horrific irony if the Iraq invasion led to an expansion of Iranian power that led to aggression against Israel..."

Ironic, perhaps, but certainly not unanticipated.

My impression was that this was more like Ahmadinejad's "Bring it on!" moment. A boneheaded attempt to play to and unify his base that ends up annoying allied nations (and perhaps strengthening opposition internally). If Iran's pursuit of a comprehensive nuclear program needs anything, it needs Russia's support. Iran is important to Russia, but not as important as the EU markets and this statement was a bridge too far. Thus the http://za.today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-27T141928Z_01_ALL751594_RTRIDST_0_OZATP-IRAN-ISRAEL-RUSSIA-20051027.XML>condemnation href> of the remarks and the dressing-down of Iran's ambassador.

Cursory searches didn't find anyone making quite the same comparison, but did net a http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002576.html>Thomas Barnett blog entry (via Nadezdha in comments at http://www.liberalsagainstterrorism.com/drupal/?q=node/1826#comment-5572>LAT href>) entitled WHY DO AMERICANS SWALLOW DICTATORS' PROPAGANDA SO WILLINGLY? (emphasis his). Interesting read.

On further reflection, the controversy will certainly make it into Iraqi voters' conversations. One of Sadr's conditions for remaining under the UIA party umbrella was refusal to normalize relations with Israel. If substantial sympathy for Iran (and/or antipathy towards Israel) exists within the electorate, how might this affect platforms and support? Iran is obviously taking a diplomatic hit for the remarks. Might that be seen as an acceptable trade off if UIA (with a no-normalization plank and pro-Iranian sentiments) lands a majority of seats in the election?

Wasn't this the guy that Bush helped elect by mouthing off before the election?

No, LJ. Bush said a few things prior to the election, and the mullahs launched a nifty propaganda campaign, aided by anti-Bush elements in the media who took what they said at face value.

I'm still failing to see the difference between the two statements. One presumes some connection, the other does not -- but to sum it up as 'Bush said a few things' is rather disingenuous.

Bin Laden 'said a few things.' Winston Churchill 'said a few things.' Words have meaning, words have consequences, and when heads of state speak them they can have repercussions. Isn't that the point of your post?

"Charley, the Iranian Shiites are not the Iraqi Shiites."

In any obvious sense, Sistani is an Iraqi Shi'ite. But he holds Iranian citizenship. Similarly for various other "Iraqi" Shi'a leaders.

The difference is not as clear-cut as you make it out to be.

but I know you have safely filed comments like hilzoy's into the 'doesn't matter because this is what the mullahs had planned' folder.

Noted, LJ, that you and Hilzoy apparently believe the media accounts, never mind that none of the non-Iranian members of the press could report anything or go anywhere without minders looking over their shoulders, and never mind that no one outside the Guardian Council had access to election records.

What was that Russian phrase? Oh yeah, doveryay, no proveryay. Your man Ronnie was pretty taken with it, if I recall.

So why do you trust the accounts of the Iranians, when there was no way to verify? Perhaps you didn't realize that I was talking about Ahmadinejad and Khomeini. Or perhaps you're just doing another topic shift. Or perhaps you were under the misimpression that I was actually talking about Reagan. I really can't tell.

Generally, keeping channels open and bombing sites back to the Stone Age are mutually incompatible

Another misimpression by you if you think that my opinion is that we should do both at the same time.

and doing the soft shoe for Tacitus (journos as terror targets) and then posting both sets here, it just makes your opinions here look scattershot and haphazard.

Direct language works best, LJ. Are you criticizing me yet again for cross-posting? I thought I already explained why I posted where.

My point is only that Iraqi Shiites have a lot more in common with Iranian Shiites than they do with us. We had a situation where this didn't matter, and Iran was severely restrained in whatever it could do abroad. This situation no longer obtains.

Seems like the Iraq Shiites have a lot in more in common with the rest of Iraq than with Iran, Charley, especially considering that they don't share the same language or have the same views of Shia. Iran hasn't been restrained in funding Hezbollah over the years, but they are restrained more today because they are flanked with burgeoning democracies. Perhaps that explains their recent belligerence.

yes, there is a little error on your part, as the sentence makes no sense as written unless Iran owns Israel.

In other words, Israel is a nettlesome nation to Iran, not owned by Iran, st.

your spinning of Nell's completely accurate correction into a statement against Israel was particularly nasty and opportunistic.

I asked her a question, st, and she didn't answer. Tell me how that can interpreted as spinning on my part.

I don't think many of these American right-wing revolutionaries can appreciate the complex world of the Middle East.

The chronology provides a history, neodude, but far from a complete one. From 1980 to 1990, the U.S. provided to Iraq all of 0.6% of it weaponry. The other 85% came from France, China and Russia. What criticisms of those three nations do we hear? Crickets. In fact, those three also happen to be the Axis of the Bribed. Nary a mention also of the Cold War between the US and the USSR at that time. Complex indeed.

when heads of state speak them they can have repercussions. Isn't that the point of your post?

My primary point was the substance and seriousness of what Ahmadinejad said, mentioning in passing the world reaction. As to the content, what Bush said and what Ahmadinejad said are worlds apart. Bush: "America believes in the independence and territorial integrity of Iran." Ahmadinejad: "Israel must be wiped off the map."

The difference is not as clear-cut as you make it out to be.

Sistani has fundamentally divergent views on the role of Islam in government, Hil. Sadr is another case.

As to the content, what Bush said and what Ahmadinejad said are worlds apart.

Other differences worth noting - Bush can, in fact, wipe Iran off of the map. Iran cannot do the same to Israel. This is the difference between the realists and the war hippies - we worry about capabilities, you are bewitched by words.

Charles Bird,

What people or movement, in the Middle East, believes American right-winger's calls for democracy and liberty?

My links were to demonstrate that foreign policy has nothing to do with "liberty and democracy" and everything to do with power and influence.

The Arab monarchies are just as bad, if not worse than Syria and Iran, yet ...silence..., the occasional "The Saudis and their friends better stop funding terrorist!! Oh look, Iranians!"...from the American right.

The Arab Monarchies fuel more finances to terrorist groups, than Syria and Iran could ever hope to...they even found a way to kill 3000 Americans on American soil...and our American right-wing has become apologist for Arab Royal Families.

If you can not be trusted to know how foreign policy is run and has been run...then why would anyone believe your "democracy and liberty" talk?

We funded fascist to fight communist…you may be impressed with this amoral deal with the devil, but most of the world is not. So when our fascist turned their guns on us…what did you expect to happen?

Perhaps you didn't realize that I was talking about Ahmadinejad and Khomeini. Or perhaps you're just doing another topic shift. Or perhaps you were under the misimpression that I was actually talking about Reagan. I really can't tell.

Sorry, Chas, I thought this was a discussion about what to respond to. I didn't realize you were doing a 'through Iranian eyes' fiction piece. Unfortunately, your claim that My primary point was the substance and seriousness of what Ahmadinejad said, mentioning in passing the world reaction.
is really not true, no matter how much you try and convince yourself. What you are doing is laying down a marker so when you make some idiotic call to bomb Tehran, you can cite yourself, like you did here

As I wrote here and here, this sect of Islam is inimical to the interests of the United States.

Unfortunately, that time, you were talking about Wahhabism, which is an extremist form of Sunniism and therefore fundamentally in opposition to Shiism. You now are making out that there is some fundamental difference between Iraqi and Iranian Shiites, which you would have to because we have to work with the Iraqi ones. Just what school of yoga do you do to get that pretzel-like flexibility?

Are you criticizing me yet again for cross-posting? I thought I already explained why I posted where.

I don't believe that I criticized you for cross posting per se, I merely pointed out that you were making the comments more diffuse and thus causing problems with your memory of who said what, a fact that you implicitly acknowledged. However, I believe that your explanation was that a well written post here should have no reason not to be placed in multiple venues. If what I write holds water here, it should in other venues as well, or verce visa.

We now have two different posts that were placed at two _different_ venues, so I am assuming your previous explanation is no longer operative. But the lack of consistency is no longer surprising, unfortunately.

This pretense that Muslim people, even very bad Muslim people, don't respond rationally to naked self-interest is what got us into the Iraq fiasco in the first place.

Well, there exist at least a few Muslim people who are willing to be suicide bombers, whose naked self-interest is covered in a layer of extremism and explosives. If they ever get hold of nuclear weapons, then they will use them in a major western city. Having said that, I wouldn't put the Iranian government in that category.

To a certain extent, it's in our interest to prop up the current Iranian government lest it be replaced by something much worse...

Seems like the Iraq Shiites have a lot in more in common with the rest of Iraq than with Iran

Irrelevant if true. I'm not saying and have never said that the Iraqi Shiite Islamic state-within-a-state would seek to be annexed to Iran, or would engage in treason. That kind of rhetoric belongs to SH. What I'm saying is that the new and future Iraqi regimes will be friendlier to Iran than any we've ever seen. Let's say we went from a situation like the German/German border circa 1975 to a situation like the border between the US and Mexico. And Iraq is the Mexico in that scenario.

New Iraq is not going to invade Iran.

Iran hasn't been restrained in funding Hezbollah over the years

Well, we don't know. I'm not as immersed in Iran's funding of H now as I was 3 years ago (I have a case about this,* actually, and did quite a bit of discovery on this specific point) but have to say that I find the $100 million figure in the cited link suspiciously without context. We don't know whether Iran has been using its money to try to move H into Lebanese politics, or has been trying to get more/less conflict with Israel.

but they are restrained more today because they are flanked with burgeoning democracies.

You must recognize that this is a statement that is based completely on faith. Faith in a miracle never before observed. I mean, is there any evidence at all that Iran was affected one way or the other by bordering democratic Turkey or democratic Pakistan? In Iraq, people that Iran sheltered and supported during the Saddam era are now in power. In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance -- supported by Iran in its war against the Taliban -- is in power in many places. That is, Iran's specific foreign policy goals have been met, and it's central long-standing strategic problem has been solved.

It's new strategic challenge is how scared to be of the US. Three years ago, the answer has to have been reasonably. Today, the answer, apparently, is barely at all. It's amazing to me that the policies I see as evidence of Iran Unbound, you see as Iran Intimidated.


* Specifically, one of the questions in the suit is the extent to which Iran's Ministry of Intelligence (VEVAK) is responsible for a specific Hez kidnapping in Beirut in 1985, and the holding of that hostage through 1986.

In other words, Israel is a nettlesome nation to Iran, not owned by Iran, st
Yes, those were the other words I suggested, CB. Glad you agree it's much clearer that way.

And it's spinning because Nell was correcting your unclear sentence in an attempt to make your ironic point stronger, and you, in what has become entirely too strong a defense of your own clumsy phrasing, chose to whip it back at her head as if she, not the president of Iran, was condemning Israel. She probably didn't respond because "f**k you, I didn't mean that and you know it" is likely to get her banned.

" I wouldn't be opposed to precision strikes on their bomb-making facilities"

I've seen some enthusiasm for this idea in a number of places. In all seriousness, what are the likely consequences of such an action?

Would Iran just take it?
Would pro-West opposition movements gain traction or be crushed?
Would Iran re-start its weapons program, even deeper underground?
Might Iran start providing substantially more support to the various insurgencies in Iraq?
What about a shore-to-ship attack from HY-2 missiles? How would the US react if the Fifth Fleet were successfully attacked?

It would be really nice if the supporters of the party in power were a little more willing to think through the consequences of their actions.

OT, more fodder for the Chomsky debate.

From 1980 to 1990, the U.S. provided to Iraq all of 0.6% of it weaponry. The other 85% came from France, China and Russia.

Um, Chas, something doesn't add up, there. I kinda know what you're saying, but the math doesn't work.

"It would be really nice if the supporters of the party in power were a little more willing to think through the consequences of their actions."

Not a supporter, but I have thought it out. Someone above asked if I was being ironic with "Bomb Them Now." Well, one kind or irony is intending exactly opposite meanings with one proposition.

I do think Iran a significant threat, and should not be allowed to become a nuclear power. Real leadership would have prevented it peacefully, or at much lesser cost than it will now require. I do think an attack would have catastrophic consequences. I also think the boy-king would be unable to handle those consequences and would run sobbing home to Barbara, perhaps putting someone sane, competent, and responsible in charge. (And yeah, if they are stupid enough to attack Iran, they are probably more dangerous than Iran) I suspect it would destroy the Republican Party.

I would have extremely mixed feelings upon seeing lights over Tehran.

"... he stepped up and proclaimed that one of the country's most nettlesome nations should no longer exist."

Might want to fix that. (Noting the edit.)

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