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January 24, 2006


I suppose I should save this for the hating on blog, but I can't control myself...the suggestion that we should attrack Iran is, by the very arguments put forth by Charles and Sebastian, conmpletely stupid from a foreign policy point of view and immoral.

On the previous Iran thread, in the comments, in response to my question about the longterm effects of an airstrike, Sebastian said that Iran would probably get nukes anyway sooner or later.
On this thread Charles ennumerates a whole list of bad outcomes from a nuclear Iran which he DOESN'T think likely--and then puts forth the preposterous notion that they might collarorate with Venezuela in some manner.
Not one reason for airstrikes given. So why do it?
Because it would feel good to smite the evil enemy?
The spread of nuclear weapons or the materials for making weapons is a serious problem that a responisble administration would address through a reality based (not ideological) bi-partisan, farsighted policy. Instead what we have here is another outbreak of fearmongering, timed to effect our elections.
For example, what about Chechyna? Chechyna (am I spelling it right?) has become prime recruiting ground for AL Quaida for the same reasons Afganistan was-- a traumatized, militarized population, a turn to extreme religion linked to nationalism, the lack of any other kind of government. All this within the boundaries of Russia, a nation notorious for organized crime, corruption, and the inability to organize anything sensibly. If Al Quaida gets the makings of a bomb it is a great deal more likey to happen by way of black market leakage to rebels in Chechyna.
We don't need airstrikes against anybody. We do need to be focused on the illegal market in nuke material, the governments that are using the market or failing to control it (Pakistan), and the the growing link in many countries between their sense of nationalism, their ambitions for development, and their desire to get nuclear power. A big picture policy which includes diplomacy and law enforcement. Not show-off postering to make the base feel macho.
The Republican party has a long history of picking a simple, concrete enemy to use to polarize and manipulate domestic politics: the Red Scare of the WWI era, the McCarthy period, gay people, Saddam. The danger of attack from a homemade or real nuke from a gang or a nation taken over by a terrorist gang is real. To bad the response from the right is just more fearmongering without any real policy.

The suitcase nuke thing is definitely an overblown threat. They are difficult to make and not worth the trouble (cost/benefit ratio) compared to all sorts of other weapons.

They are hard to make -- I would imagine any Iranian uranium bomb would be bulky. But the suitcase bomb would be the ultimate terrorist weapon.

Overall, a worthwhile post (except for the useless obsession about Chavez).

I recommend reading this month's Atlantic Monthly for its excellent article regarding nuclear proliferation. Short story -- its becoming almost impossible to stop, and the political will is not there partly because of the inherent contradiction in the policy that allows only some to have access to the ultimate equalizer weapon. The most usefull use of nukes is as a deterrent weapon against those more powerful. Most interesting fact from article (among many) --- Iraq's program escaped detection partly because it was relying on calutron technology (i.e., US method for uranium enrichment for Manhattan Project) that was deemed so crude that it was declassified decades ago. That also meant that the procurement of parts for the program went unnoticed since the technology was not listed as sensitive.

Just as a drive-by (no! Will not be sucked in! Must be strong!), and offered purely as data, and not in support of anything else, not in support of any specific argument, or point of view (I hope we're clear on that; thanks), these statements by President Ahmadinejad, suggesting a possible apocalyptic viewpoint (not that it matters so much what he thinks, as rather what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei thinks).

(And purely for those fascinated by the subject of me, me, ME!, an insight into an element of my complicated political views; I'm sure this will profoundly change everyone's lives.)

Gary, pleased get sucked in.

After all, you are an effing national treasure.

"Gary, pleased get sucked in."

I'm sorry, but Battlestar Galactica 2.0 disks one and two just arrived from Netflix, finally, a short time ago, so I have things that are more fracking important to do.

Besides, while I will be back for chat and making a fool of myself from time to time, I really need to resist my impulses to, as I tend to approach most things, over-do it here.

But, another day, another droplet of my utterly essential deeply insightful dry wit.

Request most appreciated, however. (And I resisted my natural impulse to reply with a double-entendre; yay, me!)

I'm very glad Hilzoy is posting and well and good and all, apparently.

Here's my query, though: a) can the present Iranian leadership be trusted to act as prudently as the Soviet leadership did with the bomb (said prudence including, recall, Krushchev thinking it was a grand idea to put nuclear missiles in a Cuba which Castro then demanded he fire off during the Crisis [Kruschchev, fortunately, only being reckless, and not insane, refused, under then-extant circumstances]); and b) what exactly should policy be, specifically, not just meaningless cant words such as "diplomacy," "multilateral approaches," "reality based (not ideological) bi-partisan, farsighted policy," or "reality based (not ideological) bi-partisan, farsighted policy," which is precisely as content-free and meaningful as saying you're for "waa waa waa waa waa, goodness, and a pony."

What exactly should be done about Iran? What should we do, rather than what should we not do? Not doing is easy. Doing is hard.

Keeping in mind that the costs of inaction can always possible be as great as or greater than the costs of action in any given circumstance.

Sigh. Second example of meaningless non-policy should have been "A big picture policy which includes diplomacy and law enforcement."

And "possibly be as great," not

Gary: Yay! You're back!

And Gary: it must be in your honor that the comments screwed themselves up earlier today. (There are three that have transported themselves to the future, so have been showing up as the newest comments for quite some time.) I have tried to fix it, but no luck.

Another small bit of Iranian news, by the way.

BTW, Typepad is resisting me so I can't get in to unban Barry now that the 24 cooling off period is over. Hilzoy, any chance you can do that for me?

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