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January 14, 2006

Comments

Sebastian: It is Bush's fault that the French don't want to enforce the NPT? Really? He is so much more powerful than I realized.

Now that's a switch. You claimed "Until very recently the Europeans have signaled that there is no chance of problems for Iran." But in fact, it's George W. Bush who has been signaling that - he invaded Iraq and broke the US army. So, why are you blaming the Europeans for Bush's signals to Iran - and any other country that's doing stuff the US in theory doesn't approve of - that there is no chance of problems because the US has neither the military force to intervene, and is not competent enough to do so if it wanted to?

Saddam could have ended sanctions under Bush I or certainly the first term of Clinton by fully cooperating with inspectors for a couple of years in a row. He never did that. He wanted to outwait the international community, and other than the US he succeeded completely.

Again, sorry to be re-hashing this, but I would have thought for Saddam to "outwait" the international community, he would have had to have kept some weapons, or some solid program for developing weapons once the sanctions were eased. We now know he had neither. He did not outwait the international community - the sanctions and inspections did their job.

Shinobi: Again, sorry to be re-hashing this

Er, it's Sebastian who's re-hashing this - bringing up the old lies and forcing the rest of us to point out to him that these were proven untrue years ago now. Why Sebastian is bothering with this, I don't know: memory lapse? He knows we know what he's saying isn't true.

sebastian: "Saddam could have ended sanctions under Bush I or certainly the first term of Clinton by fully cooperating with inspectors for a couple of years in a row. He never did that. He wanted to outwait the international community, and other than the US he succeeded completely."

Sebastian, will you please stop making stuff up? The US policy from very shortly after the first Gulf War was that the sanctions stayed on until Saddam was gone. This was continuous through 2003.

But Bush looks so tough and sexy when he does all his war talk.

All this talk of bombing heathens and darkies makes him and his crew look soooo tough.

Their like middle-class white people's gangsta rap.

What would be the longterm effects of airstrikes on the 'war on terror" and the promotion of democracy in the Middle East? Isn't this an important question? How come no one who is inclined toward using airstrikes has offered an answer?

lily, because the thoughts "don't care", "Scared! Must bomb *now*!", "All hail King George!" and "Kill! Kill! Kill! Then Jesus comes!" pretty much fill their heads.

After four years of this sh*t, I've come to the conclusion that even the rational-sounding ones still think this way.

I responded with what I thought. Do you disagree with my assessment? If so where? You can't complain about a lack of discussion if I respond to the cite you raise and then you won't address the points I raise.

Yes, I disagree, but I'm trying to develop a discussion and avoid getting personal by calling you out (and letting von et al jump in).

To restate, do you agree that we are in a dangerous stalemate, regardless of whose fault it is? If you do agree (and I presume you do since you've been posting a lot on this and noting that it has been a constant concern of this blog) then do you agree that there are two directions to go, either harder on the mullahs or trying to undercut them in the court of world public opinion? Or do you, like von, suggest that we can strong arm Russia and China to put pressure on Iran? I don't think we can, certainly not China, so your argument seems to reduce to we can't do sanctions, so airstrikes are the thing, yet you won't address the people who have suggested that airstrikes may cause a lot more problems than they will solve.

Responding to the cite by claiming that you accept for the sake of argument sentence one, but enforcement isn't possible so sentence two isn't possible is simplistic at best. We were not able to enforce a lot of things during the Cold War, but the fact that we hewed to a higher moral ground meant that even if the treaties were unenforceable and were broken, we still came out on top. Plus, an attempt at reducing nuclear armaments would make it easier to track nuclear materials because there would be less out there.

Also, I didn't write the second quote, so I'd ask you to take a little more care about running things together.

This just in from the WaPo

With all six nations declaring that they sought a diplomatic solution to the escalating confrontation with Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a glimmer of hope for a compromise. Putin said the Iranian government was considering a proposal from Moscow that Russia would produce enriched uranium for Iran, to ensure the material could be used only for peaceful purposes.

Ouch. Look who comes out of this smelling like a rose. Plus the fact that every $1 dollar a barrel increase means that Russian oil revenues increase by $1.4 billion.

Putin also cautioned against what he called any rash moves in dealing with Iran, a close economic partner of Russia and China. "The Iranian nuclear problem requires a very accurate approach without rash or erroneous moves," Putin said. "Russia will continue to cooperate with European and U.S. colleagues in promoting a solution to the issue. Russia, Germany, our European partners and the United States -- we all have very similar approaches to the Iranian problem."

Note the order there, which I suppose is the new world order. Of course, being a liberal, I'm sure someone is going to accuse me of wanting it to be like that...

Well, unless Bush and his people are totally insane, there goes his chance to bomb Iran, nuclear or otherwise.

"So, why are you blaming the Europeans for Bush's signals to Iran - and any other country that's doing stuff the US in theory doesn't approve of - that there is no chance of problems because the US has neither the military force to intervene, and is not competent enough to do so if it wanted to?"

Perhaps you have missed the discussion of airstrikes? The US has plenty of military force to use airstrikes.

"Responding to the cite by claiming that you accept for the sake of argument sentence one, but enforcement isn't possible so sentence two isn't possible is simplistic at best."

Not hardly. Without addressing how enforcement would work in light of most countries' manisfest disinterest in enforcing even the current NPT (which is dramatically less stringent than what Democracy Arsenal proposes) reduces their argument to: we reduce our weapons, magical things happens which work against the actual operation of human nature and our historical experience, and then authoritarian governments will stop trying to get nuclear weapons.

I wish it were true. But until you can describe for me how that second step actually works (which neither you nor they even remotely attempt to do) I'm certainly not going to be convinced. You asked for a discussion of their proposal. I pointed out where it wasn't convincing and why it wasn't convincing. You respond by asserting saying that we have taken the moral high ground in the past and won. That doesn't address my point at all because you seem to be invoking a "the moral high ground always wins argument" which is just wrong--see for example Cambodia, or the Sudan. Furthermore we won the Cold War without noticeable following the advice of Democracy Arsenal. I have every reason to believe the unilateral disarmament wouldn't have worked well against the USSR.

I also offer a further critique of the proposal. I suggest that unilateral disarmament (even with a hypothetical enforcement mechanism which has not been discussed) will increase the incentives for rogue states when obtaining nuclear weapons. If the US doesn't have nuclear weapons the incentive to have nuclear weapons INCREASES because now you not only have a trump against stronger conventional forces, you also don't have to worry about nuclear retaliation.

You don't address that point either.

You requested discussion of the proposal. I have offered my critiques. You haven't responded and have suggested that you won't. I don't think I can do anymore to "promote discussion" from my side of the disagreement.

Sebastian: Perhaps you have missed the discussion of airstrikes?

I didn't miss the discussion of airstrikes, but I hadn't realized you were reading it, since you've resolutely ignored all the cogent points made that for the US to bomb Iran would cause more problems than it would solve.

The US has plenty of military force to use airstrikes.

That settles it: you haven't read the discussion of airstrikes. Would you like to do so and respond to it, rather than repeating airstrikes airstrikes airstrikes as if that in itself resolved anything?

Hussein was doing MOST of what was demanded...look where it got him.

The United States/Bush just didn't like him....so any cooperation with "agreements" was moot.

The United States/Bush just don't like the Mullahs...but if they get their bombs, the US can't just kill them.

The Saudis actually killed thousands of Americans and their boy goes free.

What is hard to understand here?

By the way, notice how quick we acquiesced to Bin Ladden's demand that we get out of Saudi Arabia.

It was Iraq 24/7 after the Saudi's b!tched slapped us.

A couple of problems I see with airstrikes without the boots on the ground that we no longer have available are as follows:

(1) How good is our intelligence for targeting purposes? In Iraq, it sucked -- we thought all sorts of stuff existed that didn't at all, and that was with inspections going on. What's your basis for thinking we have the intelligence capability to take out Iran's nuclear programs? (Note on the politics: While the intelligence problem is an argument against relying on airstrikes to actually make us safer, it doesn't hamper the use of airstrikes for political advantage. If the administration orders airstrikes on some random set of buildings, and then Iran doesn't nuke anyone, either because they never had weapons or because they choose not to use the weapons they have, the administration gets to claim that the airstrikes were successful and effective, and no one will have the information necessary to contradict them.)

(2) Civilian casualties: If we're trying to eliminate Iran's nuclear program through airstrikes alone, odds are we're going to kill an awful lot of people. Don't you think this is likely to have a negative effect on the battle for hearts and minds in the GWOT?

I have every reason to believe the unilateral disarmament wouldn't have worked well against the USSR.

Here's what the DA post said

Our current approach to nonproliferation is untenable. We must enunciate neutral principles and create a new bargain.

The first step is to acknowledge and deal with the real security issues which other states face. The United States needs to be willing to give up its right to threaten the use of nuclear weapons and work with the P-5 to give effective positive and negative security assurances to states which adhere faithfully to the NPT. We should drastically reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons and take them all off alert.

Whatever you might think, 'drastically reducing stockpiles' and 'giving up the right to threaten other countries with nuclear arms' is not quite the same as 'unilateral disarmament' and certainly doesn't mean the US reaches a point where it doesn't have nukes. Which makes your whole line of argument about not having nuclear weapons devoid of content. And the line about not winning the Cold War without the advice of the Democracy Arsenal is pretty much all snark and nothing but the snark. Assuming the Cold War was won (go team, yay!), it was done without your advice, so I guess we can draw our own conclusions from that.

Until you treat proposals honestly instead of stuffing them into Manichean categories, there isn't much chance of discussion. Which is why I prefaced my first comment with "Not that this will make any difference". Sad to be proven right, though.

Query for the kitten (or anyone else who understands the system): Is there a reason why the early comments are disappearing? Currently, I am showing the first comment is radish's, dated January 16, 2006 at 6:25 PM, and I know I made comments prior to that time.

Hussein was doing MOST of what was demanded...look where it got him.

Google "Operation Southern Watch" for just how well Saddam was cooperating. Lots of interesting stuff on the Global Security page.

No WMDs...no Nuclear Weapons program...no connections to Al-Queda...Bush and his warmongering right-wing nationalists lied. Go figure, warmongering right-wing nationalists lie about war!

Seems Bush and the Saudis pray Bin Ladden attacks again, then Syria and Iran are done for?

Slart: "Google "Operation Southern Watch" for just how well Saddam was cooperating. Lots of interesting stuff on the Global Security page."

Which amounted to what, in the end? WMD's?

Which amounted to what, in the end? WMD's?

And related...

OSW had nothing at all to do with WMDs, and everything to do with Saddam's level of cooperation. There has been in fact a great deal more than WMDs going on in the decade or so since Saddam decided Kuwait might make a nice hood ornament. Just go read, already.

I'm more worried about the Saudi's WMD, Al-Queda...which seems to have done more damage to Americans than any Ba'athist's weapon, could do.

(But I will read...but think you are easily distracted)

Sebastian: If the US doesn't have nuclear weapons the incentive to have nuclear weapons INCREASES because now you not only have a trump against stronger conventional forces, you also don't have to worry about nuclear retaliation.

Let me point out that the right to use nuclear weapons to defend against conventional attack is precisely what the United States insisted upon during the cold war. The U.S. policy was (and still is) adamant opposition to "no first use" of nuclear weapons.

We insist on our right to have and use nuclear weapons as well as to deny them to Iran. Oddly enough some people consider this to be a one-sided argument.

To me the question is, what policy will genuinely have the effect of reducing the chance of nuclear war? The arguments put forward by the Bush administration and some supporters here boil down to "we're the good guys and we're going to enforce our will with whatever means necessary."

I believe that in the long run this is increasing, rather than decreasing, the danger of nuclear weapons.

...middle-class white people's gangsta rap.

That's hysterical neodude, may I use that?

Barry, I think Sebastian's point was that the US policy of "maximal sanctions forever as a matter of dick-swinging principle" (cf. Cuba/Castro) couldn't have been enforced unilaterally. In that respect at least he's probably right.

If I'm reading correctly Sebastian believes that such a failure would have resulted in Saddam having free reign to quickly develop the nukes he'd always wanted but never managed to acquire, and possibly also that it would have led to a complete collapse of the international nonproliferation mechanisms that arose out of the UN after WWII. That's a hypothesis I have some trouble crediting, but I believe that's where he was going with it.

On an unrelated discussion on Tim Lambert's blog, I notice this comment by Eli Rabett:

There is no problem so complicated that it does not have a simple but wrong answer.

That's a very apt response to the idea that you can solve the Iran Problem with airstrikes. Equipment related to a covert weapons programme is unlikely to be sitting in the obvious places. Anybody who proposes airstrikes without addressing that aspect of the problem is simply being frivolous.

NeoDude, it may well be that I've been distracted, and that you meant that Hussein complied WRT WMDs, but that wasn't at all obvious from your comment.

Dantheman: "Currently, I am showing the first comment is radish's, dated January 16, 2006 at 6:25 PM, and I know I made comments prior to that time."

Neodude, 9:53 PM, is now first.

would someone, anyone, who is pro-military-action-against-iran please discuss what he believes the iranian response will be and how the US will counter that response.

also, would the pro-strike group please tell us whether there is any limit on the number of iranian civilian casualties that are acceptable (ie, beyond which a target becomes off-limits).

as Aretha once sang: You better THINK what you're trying to do to me.

WTF's going on with typepad? the same thing's happening on other threads, too...

Kevin,

Thanks for confirming that it is not just me. It seems that typepad is only keeping a set number of comments in the comment folder here. Again, I invoke the awesome powers of the kitten to get to the bottom of this.

I'll put in a trouble ticket tonight, if I can remember to do so. It's been a busy day, and I have to bail and get the kids.

Slarti,

We know for a fact, that Al-Queda attacked the United States on 9-11.

We know that Al-Queda’s physical base of operations was in Afghanistan and its financial and theocratic base is in Saudi Arabia.

We know that most of the ruling –class (as well as Ali-six-pack) of Saudi Arabia supported, in some form or another, Al-Queda. That is, they openly discuss support IN ALL FORMS to Al-Queda. Prince Nayef, the interior minister, openly supports the organization that killed 3000 Americans. The Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians don’t have anyone close to this in their governments.

We know that many of the ruling–class of Saudi Arabia, may “like” the United States and Americans, but felt 9-11 was the “Collateral Damage” of our own sins. Much like we claim to “like” Iraqis, even though we bomb the hell out of them.

Given all this, it seems the America’s right-wing nationalists decided to go after everybody in the Middle-East, except those who attacked us. I am not arguing for war against Saudi Arabia, but that seemed to be the source of our trouble.

You Slarti, fell for the distraction. Why won’t Bush deal with the Saudis and Al-Queda?

The relationship between the Saudi Aristocracy and the Bush family is troubling. Instead of dealing with that, they have us all over the ME chasing ghosts.
---------------------------------------

THE DUAL MONARCHY
When an attack on a residential compound in Riyadh killed 17 people and wounded 122 in early November 2003, U.S. officials downplayed the significance of the incident for Saudi Arabian politics. "We have the utmost faith that the direction chosen for this nation by Crown Prince Abdullah, the political and economic reforms, will not be swayed by these horrible terrorists," said Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in Riyadh for a visit.

But if any such faith existed, it was quite misplaced. Abdullah's reforms were already being curtailed, the retrenchment having begun in the wake of a similar attack six months earlier. And despite what was reported in the American press, an end to the reforms was exactly what the bombers and their ideological supporters hoped to accomplish. To understand why this is the case -- and why one of Washington's staunchest allies has been incubating a murderous anti-Americanism -- one must delve into the murky depths of Saudi Arabia's domestic politics.

The Saudi state is a fragmented entity, divided between the fiefdoms of the royal family. Among the four or five most powerful princes, two stand out: Crown Prince Abdullah and his half-brother Prince Nayef, the interior minister. Relations between these two leaders are visibly tense. In the United States, Abdullah cuts a higher profile. But at home in Saudi Arabia, Nayef, who controls the secret police, casts a longer and darker shadow. Ever since King Fahd's stroke in 1995, the question of succession has been hanging over the entire system, but neither prince has enough clout to capture the throne.

More:
">http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20040101faessay83105/michael-scott-doran/the-saudi-paradox.html"> The Saudi Paradox

"I have to bail and get the kids."

What were they arrested for?

About Typepad causing early comments to vanish: on a hunch, I republished some of the threads that this was happening on. It accomplished nothing. So much for hunches.

rilkefan,

And here I thought Slarti in danger of being flooded out.

It seems as if Bush's loyalty lies more with certain Saudis than with the American people.

....I'd appreciate those who're in favor of a war,...

Posted by: CaseyL | January 17, 2006 at 12:17 AM


Cute.

Neodude:

Speaking of distraction, let's handle one subject at a time: do you still think Saddam was being compliant?

Sorry...misspelled bale.

He was being more compliant than the Saudis.

What did Hussein's respect for international law have to do with the Saudi's role in killing 3000 Americans on 9-11?

Bush and many American right-wingers don't respect international law. The Israelis sure don't like international law...it seems a lot of people are having a hard time with international law.

How many people were involved with 9-11?

And how many of them were working for the Saudi government?

He was being more compliant than the Saudis.

I forget which UN resolutions and various cease-fire conditions applied to the Saudis; can you refresh my memory?

What did Hussein's respect for international law have to do with the Saudi's role in killing 3000 Americans on 9-11?

Probably not much, but you're getting distracted again. Compliance, remember?

Bush and many American right-wingers don't respect international law. The Israelis sure don't like international law...it seems a lot of people are having a hard time with international law.

How many people were involved with 9-11?

And how many of them were working for the Saudi government?

And how many are part of the Saudi aristocracy?

And when will our “allies” turn them over to justice?

Hussein was compliant enough to make Bush look like a liar.

Excuse me; Hussein was compliant enough to make President and Commander-and-Chief George W. Bush look like a liar.

This isn't a discussion, it's free-association. Let me know when you've settled on a topic, ok? The topic we were discussing might be a decent start.

As for your questions, let me introduce you to my little friend.

No, you know you supported a liar and its better to keep killing, than stop and take responsibilty for being duped and a moral accomplice.

Oh, how noble you are.

Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.

I don't know who this dude is but he sure talks gloomy.

[This is a feeble attempt at humor.]

Asking NeoDude to point out which UN resolutions Saudi Arabia ignored, in order to point out that it was Saddam Hussein who was the object of such resolutions and sanctions, is a bit of a non sequitor - since, it turns out, Saddam Hussein obeyed the resolutions by destroying his WMDs.

Saying that he wanted sanctions to end so he could start the programs up again is possibly accurate but beside the point: the original cassis belli wasn't what Saddam might do if sanctions were ever lifted, or even if sanctions ever would be lifted; but that he already had WMD, had refused to destroy them, and presented a clear and present danger that had to addressed by an imediate invasion - regardless of what our allies said, regardless of what weapons inspectors found, and regardless of any other considerations.

The US invaded Iraq because Bush insisted Iraq presented an immediate threat. That turned out not to be true, and the intel on which Bush based his case was a flawed, untrue product of deliberately distorted analysis. That might have been forgiven if the war went well, or if the occupation went well, or if US conduct of the war and its treatment of Iraqi citizens went well; or if Bush Admin had started to play straight with anyone about its goals and plans, or if the Bush Admin had dealt in good faith with anyone outside its own circles, or if the Bush Admin had been honest or candid about any aspect of the Iraq war at all.

It wasn't. The Bush Admin never failed to fail; it never failed to lie, to obfuscate, to attack, to deny and deflect. To this day, nobody (other than, presumably, the Bush Admin) knows just why we went to war in Iraq. To this day, nobody knows what we can actually expect to accomplish in Iraq, or how long it will take to accomplish whatever that is.

What we do know is that Bush is now talking up the prospects for a confrontation with Iran, using the same alarmist rhetoric, the same threats of military action, and with the same Secretary of Defense as brought us the Iraq Disaster.

Sebastian wants to know why we put any trust or faith in the international community. I want to know why he's putting any trust or faith in our own leadership.

That's what it comes down to. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of the Bush Admin's words and actions regarding Iraq mean it cannot be trusted regarding Iran. The Bush Admin can't be trusted to assess Iran's nuclear capabilities or threat. It can't be trusted to come up with a workable strategy to contain the threat. It can't be trusted to come up with a non-FUBAR military response to the threat.

The Bush Admin can't be trusted to deal in good faith with members of Congress, or the opposition, or the American people. The Bush Admin can't be trusted to debate our options in Iran, because it won't debate our options in Iran: it will simply announce its intentions, and attack anyone who disagrees. It will not address any downside to whatever plans it puts forth, because it will refuse to believe any downside exists.

The Bush Admin can't be trusted because we've seen this movie before, and nothing coming out of the White House indicates that the rerun will be any different, any better, any more honest, any more well-thought out, or any less likely to make a bad situation worse, or any less likely to be used as a partisan bludgeon.

When you have a record of woodenheaded folly like the one the Bush Admin has racked up so far, the onus is on you to explain why the next time will be different. The onus is not on the people who tried to warn you the first time around, were roundly vilified for it, and who turned out to be right.

So, for the love of all that is holy, would someone who wants military action against Iran please take a stab at explaining why they think Bush will get this one right?

Asking NeoDude to point out which UN resolutions Saudi Arabia ignored, in order to point out that it was Saddam Hussein who was the object of such resolutions and sanctions, is a bit of a non sequitor - since, it turns out, Saddam Hussein obeyed the resolutions by destroying his WMDs.

No, not a non sequitur at all, since he brought all of that up. I was just sort of wondering where he was going with all of that, and it turns out that he was going to the usual place. I ought to have known better.

This isn't a discussion, it's free-association. Let me know when you've settled on a topic, ok?

Mirror, kettle, etc. This thread is just par for the course from the BTKWB crowd.

Or, as Harper's puts it:

73, 37: Percentage approval rating of Bill Clinton the day after impeachment and George W. Bush in November, respectively.

37: Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin.

Until people like Slartibartfast and Sebastian are willing to deal with the fact that their dear leader is a liar, that the nation was lied into war, that the war was utterly unnecessary, and that they themselves are responsible for helping that to happen, what is the point in engaging them in a discussion? It's as useless as arguing the shape of the planet with a Flat Earther or arguing evolution with an Intelligent Design believer.

It's useless. They are ideologues and no matter how bad things get or how obvious the lies become, they will still claim the emperor is wearing clothes.

Give up people. Stop feeding the trolls.

Slarti and Sebastian are not trolls. Sheesh, it's their blog!

I do think that those who support the idea of airstrikes should respond to our polite requests that they explain what they see as the longterm consequences of such a action.

dunno what happened to my comment above. well, here's the rest of it:

...pursuant to the NPT, each of the nuclear states, including the US, have given assurances to the UN security council that they will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. many of the proposals on dealing with iran [pretty much any containing the phrase "tactical nuclear weapons"] seem to involve an odd "we need to breach the NPT in order to enforce it" type mentality.

We respond to you all the time felixrayman. It is a bit odd for you to ask us to stop feeding you.

To more rational members of the discussion:

What do I think will happen after airstrikes?

I suspect that Iran will continue supporting terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Israel. I don't believe that will be much worse than now since they are already committed to destroying Israel and ending any US influence in Iraq. I believe they are already doing so to the extent that they can without engaging in undisguised war.

I suspect that Iran will threaten to shut off oil, and might do so for a very short time. I suspect they won't do so for a long period of time because it would mean the end of their modern society long before it did serious damage to ours. And if they are willing to do that, they are exactly the type of people who would be willing to risk a nuclear strike and counter-strike. Better to let them kill themselves without setting off a nuclear exchange.

I fully suspect that we will be unable to keep them from nuclear bombs forever, but I expect to delay the issue for at least 10-15 years. By that point, we can hope/work for a better regime in Iran. If by then it is as safe as India, I will worry but not freak out.

In response to the democracy arsenal proposal, no one has explained how enforcement would work or why the proposal to "be willing to give up its right to threaten the use of nuclear weapons" would not cause the incentives to rush to nuclear weapons that I mentioned unless it means "give up the right to use a first strike with nuclear weapons" which to my knowledge we have already done. And not to belabor the point, but if there is no enforcement, there is no useful treaty. The utter lack of attention to enforcement is a fatal flaw which has been proven again and again with respect to the NPT. Continuing to ingore the issue isn't making it go away.

I fully suspect that we will be unable to keep them from nuclear bombs forever, but I expect to delay the issue for at least 10-15 years.

Wow, that's a big task you've taken on :^)

But seriously, just to make sure we are in the same volume if not on the same page, do you acknowledge that the DA proposal does not require getting rid of all nuclear weapons? I often wonder if there are different definitions floating around for 'disarmament'. I don't take it as giving up everything. I'm not sure if it even means to me giving up the majority of the weapons.

I have argued that 'enforcement' does not have to work perfectly. Taking the nuclear option off the table could provide a differing dynamic, especially with the two particular problems cases, Iran and North Korea. It may also force India, and Pakistan to do so. One 'downside' is that it would put a lot of pressure on Israel to do the same. (downside is in scare quotes, because I think the discussion would run off the rails on that point.)

What precisely was the enforcement mechanism of the ABM treaty? Or the SALT agreement, the START, the CBT, the NPT? Or even of the BWC or CWC? (in fact, the Bush administration withdrew from discussions of a verification mechanism for the BWC in 2001, but rejoined in 2003)

All of these treaties seem to be lacking in the enforcement mechanisms you claim are absolutely required. I disagree that that the NPT has floundered simply because of the lack of enforcement mechanism, it floundered because of the loophole of the right to develop nuclear power.

btw, the author is Morton Halperin and his bio is here

Sebastian argues that the Iranians must be attacked because they are too crazy to be allowed have nuclear weapons; they won't respond to airstrikes in any very drastic way because that would be crazy; and even if they do respond in a drastic way that will only go to show they were crazy and therefore they really had to be attacked.

Well, anyone who can't follow the logic is clearly crazy. Mind you, a thoughtful critic might suggest a possible flaw in this otherwise very lucid argument: it is just possible that people go a bit more crazy after being bombed than they were before. Some say that happened in Cambodia. It is even arguable that Japanese bombs drove Americans a little bit crazy, or at any rate changed their attitude to war.

Back in the real world, the response to airstrikes is likely to depend on what gets struck. The verb "to bomb" is transitive. To say you favour bombing without saying whether you have in mind infrastructure or merely symbolic targets like government offices is hopelessly vague.

In order to get away with ignoring this issue, just accuse other people of ignoring the issue. Since you don't have a policy, tell them they don't have a policy.

"All of these treaties seem to be lacking in the enforcement mechanisms you claim are absolutely required."

The successful treaties you mention tended to be bilateral. The multilateral ones have tended to be much less successful.

"I disagree that that the NPT has floundered simply because of the lack of enforcement mechanism, it floundered because of the loophole of the right to develop nuclear power."

The two issues are related. The 'loophole' is exploitable because there is no enforcement mechanism. I don't understand how you can be so indifferent to enforcement. If there is no or little enforcement, what good is the treaty? Iran just does what it wants, violates the treaty and nothing particularly bad happens to Iran. You seem to have a very different idea of a successful treaty than I do. For me a treaty is not successful just because it gets people to sign it. It is successful if it actually changes behaviour. The treaty you are outlining seems to do almost nothing to stop rogue states like North Korea or Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. The proposal would make a "different dynamic" I'm sure. Unfortunately the different dynamic would involve increased proliferation.

You provide no mechanism by which this would work to change things. The proposal goes from unilateral arms reduction to reduced proliferation with no explanatory steps as if it were obvious. You decry the need for enforcement mechanisms, which leaves us with what exactly? When a country cheats on the treaty, what happens to them? Or for some reason is the idea so intrinsically powerful that I'm not allowed to hypothesize a country cheating on the treaty?

"But seriously, just to make sure we are in the same volume if not on the same page, do you acknowledge that the DA proposal does not require getting rid of all nuclear weapons? I often wonder if there are different definitions floating around for 'disarmament'."

Sure. But it requires that the US disclaim nuclear attacks. This increases the incentive of other countries to get nuclear weapons. They can threaten to use them, but it is 'illegal' to attack them back. In reality, 'illegal' isn't going to stop anything if we get nuked and anyone in his right mind knows that. So the proposal relies on either everyone being too stupid to realize that, or if amazingly we wouldn't retaliate it relies on the good will of dictators not to exploit that fact. That is asking way too much of human nature--it works all of the incentives in all the wrong ways. And if it allows only for counterstrikes, we get to the position we are in now--no change needed.

"they won't respond to airstrikes in any very drastic way because that would be crazy; and even if they do respond in a drastic way that will only go to show they were crazy and therefore they really had to be attacked."

Perhaps I wasn't clear. It is possible that Iran would be willing to self-immolate over the destruction of their nuclear program. But if they do, it is far more likely that they would be willing to self-immolate over the nuclear destruction of Israel than most people here seem to believe. If they are indeed that level of crazy, it is worth the oil shock pain to ensure that their self-immolation doesn't involve killing 4 million Jews in Israel.

Sebastian,
I don't know why you take my points out of order. It seems worthwhile to establish where we agree, and we now agree that 'disarmament' does _not_ mean giving up all nuclear weapons. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a useful place to start.

As for treaties being bilateral, I believe that 4 of the 7 I mentioned are multilateral, (CBT, NPT, BWC and CWC) Perhaps you feel that these are the ones that have been unsuccessful, but it would be nice if you were explicit and explained why they were/are less than successful. The number of biological and chemical acts we have had is?

The big hangup seems to be your notion of enforcement. Galluci (yes, I've quoted before, but I requote here), who was the main negotiator in the Agreed Framework talks with North Korea, said this

I think you have to assume that they're committed to nuclear weapons, and you have to do deals that make sense, even if that's true. There's no trust here. It's not just a line, "Trust, but verify." It's "No, you don't trust and you get as much verification [as possible]."

Those who criticize the deal because they cheated on it, I think, are not understanding the nature of international politics. We have done deals with people who we expected might well cheat. Indeed, the Soviet Union cheated on all kinds of deals -- massively, in the biological weapons convention. That's probably the most famous. So, you look at the deal and say, "OK. What can you monitor? What can you watch? What can you verify? If they cheat, will you catch them? And if you don't catch them, are you still better off with the deal than without it?" link

To apply this to Iran, we would be better ratcheting down the tensions (especially given the confusion that Israeli politics is in) than try to play chicken with the mullahs. Given the greater ability of airstrikes on Iran to inflame other Muslims as well as the fact that it, unlike North Korea, is tied into the global scene (a fact that you seem to acknowledge when you write I suspect that Iran will threaten to shut off oil, and might do so for a very short time. I suspect they won't do so for a long period of time because it would mean the end of their modern society long before it did serious damage to ours. And if they are willing to do that, they are exactly the type of people who would be willing to risk a nuclear strike and counter-strike.) the Halperin proposal seems to make sense, especially since an oil shock would strengthen any of the oil producing countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and (horror of horrors), Venezuela.

As Kevin points out, your whole strategy seems to argue that well, they probably aren't crazy and so we should demand them, by constant bullying and ultimately military action, to prove it. Yet if you are wrong and they are crazy, and airstrikes bring on a retaliation that initiates a conflict, somehow, your position will be vindicated. I'm giving up trying to generate an interpersonal analogy, because every attempt basically casts the US as some sort of psycho killer.

I don't know if you looked at Halperin's bio, but this stood out.

Dr. Halperin served in the federal government in the Clinton, Nixon and Johnson administrations, most recently from December 1998 to January 2001 as Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State. In the Clinton administration, he was also Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy at the National Security Council, a consultant to the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and was nominated by the President for the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Democracy and Peacekeeping. In 1969, he was a Senior Staff member of the National Security Council responsible for National Security Planning. From July 1966 to January 1969, he worked in the Department of Defense where he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, responsible for political-military planning and arms control.

I'm not a fan of credentialism, but I don't think he's a Ramsey Clarke. You disagree, that's your prerogative, but I think you are wrong.

SH: I believe they are already doing so to the extent that they can without engaging in undisguised war.

Upon what is this belief based? Because, you understand, if you're wrong about this, the whole edifice collapses.

SH: I believe they are already doing so to the extent that they can without engaging in undisguised war.

Upon what is this belief based? Because, you understand, if you're wrong about this, the whole edifice collapses.

OT: So do we need to start calling bob mcmanus http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/18/science/18irish.html>King Robert?

Sebastian,

"I suspect that Iran will continue supporting terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Israel. I don't believe that will be much worse than now since they are already committed to destroying Israel and ending any US influence in Iraq. I believe they are already doing so to the extent that they can without engaging in undisguised war."

First, if we bomb them, I think it is a good bet that the disguise on the war will fall off. Second, right now my understanding is that their attempts to end US influence in Iraq are primarily in the political arena, rather than, for example, bringing Hezbollah agents into Iraq to begin a terrorism campaign against US soldiers there. Third, there are lots of things Iran can do other than support terrorism against Israel, including supporting attacks on US soil, which they may not have been willing to do if they still wanted to disguise the war.

"I suspect that Iran will threaten to shut off oil, and might do so for a very short time. I suspect they won't do so for a long period of time because it would mean the end of their modern society long before it did serious damage to ours."

I suspect that you are wrong about this, both because maintaining a modern Iranian society may no longer be a high goal of Iran's leaders after such an attack and because I think you underestimate the adverse effect $100+ barrels of oil will do to our economy.

"As for treaties being bilateral, I believe that 4 of the 7 I mentioned are multilateral, (CBT, NPT, BWC and CWC) Perhaps you feel that these are the ones that have been unsuccessful, but it would be nice if you were explicit and explained why they were/are less than successful. The number of biological and chemical acts we have had is?"

The lack of success of the nuclear treaties is the whole issue. So there goes the first two. Chemical and biological weapons are very dangerous to use--they often turn against your own. That provides a very good reason why they tend to be more observed. But even then--there have been a number of uses of chemical weapons since the implementation of the treaty. As we are constantly reminded on this site, Iraq's use of chemical weapons on multiple occasions isn't enough for war.

"I don't know why you take my points out of order. It seems worthwhile to establish where we agree, and we now agree that 'disarmament' does _not_ mean giving up all nuclear weapons. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a useful place to start."

Not particularly useful since the proposal has at least two other fatal flaws.

"I think you have to assume that they're committed to nuclear weapons, and you have to do deals that make sense, even if that's true. There's no trust here. It's not just a line, "Trust, but verify." It's "No, you don't trust and you get as much verification [as possible]."

Yes. This is correct. Unfortunately both in this discussion and in fact the North Korean case, the verification level is minimal to non-existant. And that is the whole problem. And then when the verification process breaks down, what do you do to enforce it. The general international community answer appears to be: "pretend that it hasn't broken down and engage in interminable 'negotiations' while the building of nuclear weapons continues".

No recitation of credentials is going to get me to forget that problem. It has been demonstrated again and again and again that the main thing necessary to successfully flout anti-proliferation treaties is the mere desire to do so.

"To apply this to Iran, we would be better ratcheting down the tensions (especially given the confusion that Israeli politics is in) than try to play chicken with the mullahs."

And how precisely is that likely to decrease their chances of getting nuclear weapons? Do you honestly believe they will abandon their nuclear ambitions if we follow your prescription? Honestly?

Thank you for responding, Sebastian. I still think airstrikes, will interfere more thatn assit the long rainge goals you have articulated. For example, the long range goal of a different more friendly government in Iran--airstrikes are going to make people mad, more nationalistic, more anti-American, not less, thus postponing or even distroying the possiblity of a more friendly regime in the future. Also aren't airstrikes more likely to make the Iraqi Shiites closer to Iran, than farther? It seems to me that you are leaving the human factor out.

"As we are constantly reminded on this site, Iraq's use of chemical weapons on multiple occasions isn't enough for war."

Just for the record: my view (and I suspect that of others, but I'm only speaking for myself) is that Iraq's use of chemical weapons over a decade previously, after which we had had intrusive inspections that had destroyed at least most of his chemical weapons (and I think we can now say 'all', though that wasn't known before the war, was not enough to justify military action in 2003.

I don't think anyone here has pronounced, one way or the other, on the merits of military action in Iraq during the Anfal campaign. And for what it's worth, I would probably have been a lot closer to supporting it than the GHW Bush administration was. My concerns would have been geopolitical and strategic, not based on the idea that gassing your own people doesn't merit a response.

Sebastian-

Do you have any thoughts on the intelligence/targeting issue I raised? That is, when you say airstrikes, do you expect those airstrikes to successfully be able to destroy Iraq's nuclear capability? If so, what is your basis for thinking that our intelligence is good enough to identify the necessary targets? (To make my reasoning explicit, I can't imagine how anyone who, as I understand you do, believes that our government's mistaken beliefs about the location and existence of Iraq's nuclear program were sincere, can have any faith at all in our government's ability to locate the material components of Iran's nuclear program with sufficient accuracy to destroy it from the air.)

If you don't believe that we have accurate and reliable knowledge of the location of all material parts of Iran's nuclear program, then are you thinking that bombing Iran is going to have some other kind of good effect, and if so, what?

Thank you, Seabstian, for responding to questions regarding Iran's likely post-airstrike response.

As should surprise no one, Charles Krauthammer is already on board with bombing Iran, is already vilifying anyone who do esn't think Iran should be bombed - and also has a take on the post-bomb scenario.

He, too, acknowledges that Iran is likely to shut off oil and block the Strait of Hormuz. Unlike Sebastian, though, Krauthammer seems to think it will more than an ephemeral shutoff:

"The problem that mortifies the Europeans is what Iran might do after such an attack -- not just cut off its oil exports but shut down the Strait of Hormuz by firing missiles at tankers or scuttling its vessels to make the strait impassable. It would require an international armada led by the United States to break such a blockade.

Such consequences -- serious economic disruption and possible naval action -- are something a cocooned, aging, post-historic Europe cannot even contemplate. Which is why the Europeans have had their heads in the sand for two years. And why they will spend the little time remaining -- before a group of apocalyptic madmen go nuclear -- putting their heads back in the sand. And congratulating themselves on allied solidarity as they do so in unison."

Krauthammer's take is interesting for a couple of reasons, quite apart from his obdurate woodenheaded lunatic bloodthirst:

1. Krauthammer doesn't think an oil embargo by Iran would be of short duration, or easily countered. He envisions needing US naval action to break it.

2. Krauthammer is apparently quite confident that the economic fallout from an oil embargo will be limited to Europe - which, pace Krauthammer (and most of the Right) deserves to be ruined anyway, for being less alarmist and bellicose than the US. Krauthammer seems not to think the US economy will affected in any material way. I wonder what he bases that belief on.

3. Krauthammer, by not mentioning Asia, and particularly China, at all, seems to be implying that they, too, will not care enough about an oil shutoff to do anything about it. Upon what hopeful assessment does he base this belief, I wonder?

Lily makes a good point about the human element.

Iran, although not totally monolithic from an ethnic viewpoint, has a much stronger sense of nation than many of the countries in the Middle East, including Iraq.

One of the difficulties in Iraq is getting a large portion of the population to think of themselves as Iraqis ahead of whatever their specific tribal or ethnic or religious identity is.

In Iran, many of the differences lie underneath a proud heritage as a nation and would be put aside if any form of attack is made.

There have been some postualtions that the very sense of being "attacked" as an Axis of Evil member may have helped swing the elections. I am not going to pretend to some sort of specialized knowledge as to how true that may be.

Additionally, it does not look like we would be thinking in terms of "regime change" in Iran, at least not through force, so those looking to reform Iran from the inside would not necessarily be happy with an aggressive move by the US.

I disagree that with those that say we should do nothing simply because those currently in charge are incompetent. Granted, IMHO, they are extremely so, as well as short-sighted. But we can push for some sort of solution that even they may be able to handle. Again, I am not a specialist here, so I am not going to pretend to have the answer.

Finally, in terms of what the original post is about, having the Democrats come up with a plan. There are two assumptions in this request.

The first is that coming up with a plan would have any meaning. Without a doubt, the plan would be either ridiculed and seen as an attempt to supplant the authority of our beloved leader who can do no wrong or it would be copied by those in power and then promoted as coming from them originally.

The second assumption, which can be understood coming from the current Republican point of view, is that somehow the Democratic Party is some form of monolithic structure which presents a totally unified viewpoint on every subject.

One of the strengths, and at the same time weakness, of the Dems is that this is not the case. One of the prime features of the current Republican Party is the expectation of complete agreement with the top, with, except for rare instances, some form of punishment being giving for any form of apostasy.

To put it another way, Republicans are a party of policy, Democrats are a policy of principles. And no, I am not saying Republicans don't have any principles or that Democrats don't have policies. It is a question of which is the priority.

eek! That's what I get for running off to get coffee and not previewing!


See if that works...

Nope. OK, one more try, and then I'll leave it to the moderators, who I think can access the code directly:


Italics off?

Honestly, Sebastian, I don't think we can stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Perhaps there is the nub of disagreement. You seem to think we can.

Iran has nuclear ambition, and short of inflicting such a cost on them that they would scream uncle and cross their hearts to never ever covet a nuke again, that's not going to change unless there is a chance of hell freezing over.

I think I got the italics off, but I stupidly put the close tags at the end rather than the beginning. Someone used an emp tag, I think (and am posting this to see if they did, just to satisfy my own curiousity)

LizardBreath: If you don't believe that we have accurate and reliable knowledge of the location of all material parts of Iran's nuclear program, then are you thinking that bombing Iran is going to have some other kind of good effect, and if so, what?

So let's assume we can't be sure of destroying Iran's nuclear facilities via air strikes. What will it take to ensure that Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons?

Take the example of North Korea, a country with very limited resources, almost totally isolated economically, with a small population (23 million), where people have been known to eat grass due to famine. Yet they still seem to have managed to develop nuclear weapons.

Contrast this with Iran, a country in a strategic position in the oil industry (due both to its physical location and its resources), population 70 million, relatively wealthy.

How can we believe that air strikes will dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Is there some reason to think that the people of Iran are less willing to bear hardships than the people of North Korea?

I think that for unilateral military force applied by the U.S. to be effective in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons it will require an all out war against Iran. This is probably impractical, never mind its immorality.

Sebastian, in the long run an effective enforcement mechanism to prevent nuclear proliferation will probably require the agreement and combined force of at least the U.S., Russia and China. Perhaps you disagree, but if not, do you think unilateral action by the U.S. will make this more or less likely?

Just for the record: my view (and I suspect that of others, but I'm only speaking for myself) is that Iraq's use of chemical weapons over a decade previously, after which we had had intrusive inspections that had destroyed at least most of his chemical weapons (and I think we can now say 'all', though that wasn't known before the war, was not enough to justify military action in 2003.

I don't think anyone here has pronounced, one way or the other, on the merits of military action in Iraq during the Anfal campaign. And for what it's worth, I would probably have been a lot closer to supporting it than the GHW Bush administration was. My concerns would have been geopolitical and strategic, not based on the idea that gassing your own people doesn't merit a response.

This highlights exactly what I am talking about. There was no useful enforcement mechanism invoked at the time either. These treaties are not enforced. The proposal by democracy arsenal seems to involve substantial disarmament for the US with the only 'gain' being a treaty of the exact same type that is already not enforced. That isn't a gain at all as far as I'm concerened. We would be trading for something of no real value.

L_J: "Honestly, Sebastian, I don't think we can stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Perhaps there is the nub of disagreement."

Stop them from ever getting them? Probably not. Stop them from getting them in the near future, and for so long as they have the Rafsanjani or Ahmadinejad types at the helm? I think we should certainly try.

Ral, "Is there some reason to think that the people of Iran are less willing to bear hardships than the people of North Korea?"

Yes. I think there is some reason to think that almost any people are less willing to bear hardships than the people of North Korea. They are particularly isolated from information compared to almost any nation in the world. Also the government of North Korea is much more oppressive than the government of Iran. (Boy is that a relative concept though). Iran rarely starves huge sections of its population to keep them under control for example.

"Sebastian, in the long run an effective enforcement mechanism to prevent nuclear proliferation will probably require the agreement and combined force of at least the U.S., Russia and China. Perhaps you disagree, but if not, do you think unilateral action by the U.S. will make this more or less likely?"

Both Russia and China are far less committed to international law as an idea than the US (and certainly much less than say Germany or Belguim). You seem to be positing a strategy of international law that is effective against proliferation. I find it very unlikely, especially since no one ever seems to bother with enforcement other than the US (and even us infrequently). They are likely to be convinced or not convinced on a case by case basis.

So, the people of Iran are soft because they are less oppressed by their government? And this renders them more likely to capitulate after an attack by the U.S.?

I suppose it is possible but I think the opposite result is at least equally likely.

You seem to be positing a strategy of international law that is effective against proliferation.

Yes, and I mean a regime with real enforcement. We don't have that today and don't seem to be on the path to achieve it. I merely say that this is what is really needed. I don't have a road map to get there but one idea is to stop going in the opposite direction.

Stop them from ever getting them? Probably not. Stop them from getting them in the near future, and for so long as they have the Rafsanjani or Ahmadinejad types at the helm? I think we should certainly try.

I note that your answer to the second question is of a different form than your answer to the first question. Unless and until you actually make an argument that we can in fact stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons in the short term, I suspect you're not going to convince a lot of people who don't already agree with you.

I don't think I can match Kevin's summary for sheer eloquence of, and in any event I am having a little trouble absorbing the possibility that this is really the entirety of what Sebastian thinks would happen.

A bit of a spike in oil prices (at worst a "shock" but certainly not an actual depression). No diplomatic blowback from the commies (Russia/China) or the socialists (ole Europe). No impact in Iraq. Only a minor impact on the domestic economy. An unexamined presumption of success in terms of actually setting back Iran's nuclear program. An unexamined presumption of minimal civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Sebastian's worst case scenario is to sweep everything else under the metaphorical rug of a complete sociopolitical, military, and economic meltdown in Iran (self-immolation, Sebastian calls it). But only in Iran, honest. And that's okay, because it wouldn't destabilize the region, wouldn't kill 4 million jews (talk about a fallacy of the excluded middle), China and Russia won't do anything about it, and the world economy would pull through just fine.

Well that really makes me want to take your view of ME politics seriously Sebastian. I don't understand why they haven't tapped you to write for Foreign Affairs...

so SH wants to do in Iran precisely what he condemns Clinton for doing in NK: kicking the issue down the road a few years.

now i'm well and truly baffled. we plan to spread radioactivity across a chunk of iran, give the radicals in iran and across the muslim world a recruiting tool usuable for a generation and eliminate the possibility of a velvet revolution in iran for a lousy decade of peace and quiet?

this is nuts. and to hear it coming from someone who has been vituperative toward Clinton for his policy toward NK is simply irrational.

as to the argument of who is hurt more by oil war, which society is better suited to enduring hardship: a theocratic radicalized one dealing with the repercussions of being bombed or a country which cannot even muster a tax hike to pay for war. hmmm.

one more point: lots of people argue that oil is a fungible commodity traded on the world market. true enough, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. For example, Venezuala is selling oil to Massachusetts directly at below-market prices, in order to make a point. If the US launches a military strike against iran, I could easily see Venezuala choose to refuse to sell to the US and instead to sell only directly to other nations.

Since, as Kevin Drum has pointed out a number of times, there is virtually no surplus capacity in the world market, the loss of iranian oil will mean an immediate shortfall in supply. In theory, we should then see just how inelastic the price of oil is. And since the US is the world's richest nation, we should be able to outbid everyone else.

but what happens if the oil producers launch a secondary boycott against the US?

"You wanna know why?"

Why the Bush administration may be gearing up to attack Iran regardless?

The Iranian Oil Brouse.

The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate “nuclear” weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. It will be based on a euro-oil-trading mechanism that naturally implies payment for oil in Euro. In economic terms, this represents a much greater threat to the hegemony of the dollar than Saddam’s, because it will allow anyone willing either to buy or to sell oil for Euro to transact on the exchange, thus circumventing the U.S. dollar altogether. If so, then it is likely that almost everyone will eagerly adopt this euro oil system:link
(Both these quotes are from the same article on energybulletin.net - "The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse")
should the Iranian Oil Bourse accelerate, the interests that matter—those of Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, and Arabs—will eagerly adopt the Euro, thus sealing the fate of the dollar. Americans cannot allow this to happen, and if necessary, will use a vast array of strategies to halt or hobble the operation’s exchange:

· Sabotaging the Exchange—this could be a computer virus, network, communications, or server attack, various server security breaches, or a 9-11-type attack on main and backup facilities.

· Coup d’état—this is by far the best long-term strategy available to the Americans.

· Negotiating Acceptable Terms & Limitations—this is another excellent solution to the Americans. Of course, a government coup is clearly the preferred strategy, for it will ensure that the exchange does not operate at all and does not threaten American interests. However, if an attempted sabotage or coup d’etat fails, then negotiation is clearly the second-best available option.

· Joint U.N. War Resolution—this will be, no doubt, hard to secure given the interests of all other member-states of the Security Council. Feverish rhetoric about Iranians developing nuclear weapons undoubtedly serves to prepare this course of action.

· Unilateral Nuclear Strike—this is a terrible strategic choice for all the reasons associated with the next strategy, the Unilateral Total War. The Americans will likely use Israel to do their dirty nuclear job.

· Unilateral Total War—this is obviously the worst strategic choice. First, the U.S. military resources have been already depleted with two wars. Secondly, the Americans will further alienate other powerful nations. Third, major dollar-holding countries may decide to quietly retaliate by dumping their own mountains of dollars, thus preventing the U.S. from further financing its militant ambitions. Finally, Iran has strategic alliances with other powerful nations that may trigger their involvement in war; Iran reputedly has such alliance with China, India, and Russia, known as the Shanghai Cooperative Group, a.k.a. Shanghai Coop and a separate pact with Syria.link

See also Revisited - The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq - to prevent Iraq, and possibly the rest of OPEC, from moving from dollar to euro as the standard currency with which to buy oil.

This [non-response to the Anfal campaign] highlights exactly what I am talking about. There was no useful enforcement mechanism invoked at the time either. These treaties are not enforced.

You're aware that the primary reason no international action was taken during or after the Anfal campaign was the US' threat to veto any attempts to even censure Iraq and/or Saddam Hussein in the UN Security Council, right?

"You're aware that the primary reason no international action was taken during or after the Anfal campaign was the US' threat to veto any attempts to even censure Iraq and/or Saddam Hussein in the UN Security Council, right?"

And your point about an effective enforcement mechanism would be? And please, was France going to invade over it? Was Germany going to impose sanctions? No and no.

The US acted dishonorably there. Absolutley. But surely we aren't pretending that anything more than censure would have happened in any event. Am I wrong about that? Verbal acts of censure aren't even close to what I am talking about when I talk about enforcement. They are pretty much all that the UN is talking about when the UN talks about enforcement, and that is precisely the problem I have.

Oh, Anarch, that's just liberal sleight of hand. Just ask Charles.

Sebastian, the proposed">http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/kurds/battle.html">proposed "Prevention of Genocide Act" (passed by the U.S. Senate) included harsh sanctions.

For a perfect example of this, look at the genocide still going on in the Sudan. We are at least three years in, and no-one is doing much of anything. The US has made mild proposals (which I freely admit are would not be sufficient even if carried out) which were resisted the first three times by the French, then Russia, then China. The genocide keeps going and we had trouble even getting any of the countries in Europe to admit that it was genocide the first two years. Enforcement of these types of treaties ends up falling largely to the US. We try to enforce sporadically at best, and pretty much no one else tries much at all.

As such, the difference between 'unilateral' enforcement and 'international' enforcement shrinks to almost nothing. And when we aren't doing it, it isn't happening at all.

That isn't acceptable enforcement.

And your point about an effective enforcement mechanism would be?

My point was that "effective enforcement mechanism" is a completely meaningless term in the abstract; it's like saying that "the Constitution forbids it!" without recognizing that that only acquires meaning in the presence of people willing to abide by the strictures therein. It's the flip-side of your argument, which (correctly) points out that treaties aren't particularly useful in the absence of an enforcement mechanism; the point is that how do you enforce the enforcement mechanism?

Specifically, suppose arguendo there had been a nominal "effective enforcement mechanism" that mandated a coordinated sanctions program. The US would presumably have thumbed its nose at that mechanism -- since they damn well did the same at the time -- and then... what? Iraq would have continued to trade with the US, the sanctions would have failed, and we'd be forced to ask (again) quis custodes custodiet?

And this, ultimately, is my problem with all these pie-in-the-sky discussions about "Democracy Arsenals": they all seem to be written by starry-eyed neocon dreamers operating under the assumption that the DA will always agree with us. Well, fact is, if we had such a DA -- if it were distinct and autonomous from American interests -- almost by definition it will act against us at some point.* And then what? Who will enforce the enforcement mechanism? Who will shake their tiny fists at the rogue hyperpower and force it to knuckle under?

The answer is simple: no-one. Or at least, no-one that can make a difference. So we're back to the beginning once more.

Ultimately, such ventures as the DA are, under present circumstances, nothing but an attempt to disguise American power and American interest-seeking under a veneer of international legality (and ideally using international force for our aims). Any such venture will be until either we've lost our hyperpower status, or until we're willing to accept an autonomous, non-American organization that gets to dictate our responses... which, bluntly, isn't going to happen any time soon. And even more bluntly, despite the good that might come of it, I don't trust our foreign policy interests as a nation -- much less the ludicrous, ill-founded, poorly-thought-out and generally self-destructive foreign policy instincts of the Bush Administration or its likely GOP successors -- to produce a DA that won't swiftly degenerate into a vehicle for American/American-sponsored hegemony. We're just too damn gullible about "democracy", and too damn solipsistic as a nation, for any other outcome.

* Unless you're starry-eyed enough to somehow believe that "American interests" and "liberty" are somehow inextricably linked, in which case a) more fool you, b) you've never studied history and c) you have no business making foreign policy suggestions in the first place. And yes, that's a generic "you" there, not you as an individual Sebastian.

Slartibartfast: "Speaking of distraction, let's handle one subject at a time: do you still think Saddam was being compliant?"

Compare the results of inspections to what was found afterwards.

About UN resolutions: I find it very telling whenever right-wingers use them as an excuse for war; it's equivalent to Ian Paisley using disobedience to a Papal Bull as an excuse for war.

"Ultimately, such ventures as the DA are, under present circumstances, nothing but an attempt to disguise American power and American interest-seeking under a veneer of international legality (and ideally using international force for our aims)."

Exactly, and as such I don't see the point in lying about what they are right now. It makes us look silly when we feel we have to act against the 'rules' and it lets other nations who aren't doing anything at all pretend that they are doing something about an issue. The result in cases like genocide or proliferation tend to involve either the US acting almost unilaterally or nothing gets done.

Sebastian: I don't see the point in lying about what they are right now.

*blinks* Wait... your ambition is to have the Bush administration tell the truth about why they want to attack Iran?

Actually, that's quite a noble ambition, especially as - if realized - it would doubtless read something like my comment here.

But as Bush has never yet told the truth about why he wanted to attack Iraq, I don't think you have a hope of getting the truth out of him about why he wants to attack Iran.

My point about treaties that no one wants to enforce has absolutely nothing to do with Bush. My critique is the same no matter who is president.

I still don't understand what good you think airstrikes are going to do. Do you think we can accurately destroy the Iranian nuclear program and know that we have done so without confirmation from ground forces? And if you think that, in heavens name, why?

"Sebastian, the proposed "Prevention of Genocide Act" (passed by the U.S. Senate) included harsh sanctions."

Yes, and that is the most we were willing to do (which by the way I think is a sad fact). My point is that for the most part US action represents the outer limit of action on genocide or . Whatever we are doing or willing to do is the most that can be done. If we aren't doing it, no one is doing it.

Sebastian Holsclaw: My point about treaties that no one wants to enforce has absolutely nothing to do with Bush. My critique is the same no matter who is president.

Unfortunately, from now until 2009, everyone in the world has to take into account that Bush is President, especially with regard to the Bush administration's cavalier attitude to treaties and agreements they don't happen to like, and their proven record of lying about at least one war.

Exactly, and as such I don't see the point in lying about what they are right now.

I don't actually know to what you're referring here. Who or what is the "they" and what's the lying?

Sebastian: "As such, the difference between 'unilateral' enforcement and 'international' enforcement shrinks to almost nothing. And when we aren't doing it, it isn't happening at all.

That isn't acceptable enforcement. "

In that case, Sebastian, why doesn't President 'Unilateral Executive above the Law' Bush bring his horse to full rampancy, and charge into Africa?

Could it be that there's not enough oil in the Sudan to make it worth his Texas/GOP while?

"In that case, Sebastian, why doesn't President 'Unilateral Executive above the Law' Bush bring his horse to full rampancy, and charge into Africa?"

He should do something in the Sudan. That he doesn't is a black mark on the US. That fact lessens not one iota the culpability of other nations in blocking what the US tried to do. Nor does it let them off the hook for failing to act on their own.

especially with regard to the Bush administration's cavalier attitude to treaties and agreements they don't happen to like

Which ones are you referring to, Jesurgislac?

Which ones are you referring to, Jesurgislac?

Oh, just off the top of my head: the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War; the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty; the treaty designed to reinforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the Mine Ban Treaty: and there may be more, but those are the ones I was certainly thinking of.

Ah, well you should know that we extracted ourselves from the ABM treaty by provisions laid out in that treaty, so characterizing it as "cavalier" is inapt.

"especially with regard to the Bush administration's cavalier attitude to treaties and agreements they don't happen to like"

Is it our cavalier attitude about them not wearing uniforms and hence not falling under the Geneva Convention?

Perhaps you think we are lacking since we are not generous enough to provide them with uniforms in which they can wear on the way to kill us.

"the Mine Ban Treaty"

From your own article,


The United States has apparently not used antipersonnel mines since the 1991 Gulf War, has not exported since 1992, has not produced since 1997, has destroyed more than 3 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines, and has provided more funding for mine clearance, mine risk education and mine victim assistance than any other single nation.

How cavalier of us?

And


The United States is now the only member of NATO not party to the treaty.

Seems the article forgot to mention that our enemies haven't signed up either. This article only shows the impotence of our European/NATO allies.

If only people like you would hold Al Qaeda to such standards. I guess all those IED's they are planting don't really matter to you because they only kill Americans.

also, would the pro-strike group please tell us whether there is any limit on the number of iranian civilian casualties that are acceptable (ie, beyond which a target becomes off-limits).

That's easy - you don't count them ergo they are what you make them...

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