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April 12, 2006

Comments

should one worry?

Only if you're predisposed to that behavior. Over 20 I would install a radon system. 4.1, just open the basement windows occasionally.

4.1 where? And stormy usually means low barometric.

Tim: in the basement. And I should have said: low barometric pressure drives up radon readings.

Happy Jack: mercifully, I'm not predisposed to worry. My thought was: test it over a longer period; then take steps as needed. Before then, worry about installing central air.

after all those dead troops and all that money, we were being asked to leave, they might regard Iraq as politically attractive.

You intended 'Iran' here, yes? Because as is, it's not only an unexpected but incoherent answer of Hersh's.

"Like I said, we may not be able to stop our march toward destruction. But we can at least have some fun with it as we swirl down history's drain." ...Josh Marshall. You think he is kidding?

I have pasting links on Iran for days. Lindsey at Majikthise has a few. Billmon of Whiskey Bar and Arthur Silber of Once Upon a Time have excellent articles. Yglesias at TPM has several posts. Clemons and Rosen and Firedoglake. I am just tired and depressed. Gonna watch my Mav's.

I have always expected these guys to go nuclear. A certain part of the right has had har**ns for nukes since I was born. They wanted to use them in to prevent the USSR from becoming a power, in Korea, during the Cuban Missle Crisis, in Vietnam. Really big guns for little men.

We had to keep them out of power, or gotten them out after 9/11, at any cost. Any cost.

And I should have said: low barometric pressure drives up radon readings.

Storms suck?

I'd say ventilate your basement. Maybe better: paint your basement walls with a good sealant. Radon seeps in; if the basement is sealed, less will seep in. Radon's also heavier than air, so it'll tend to collect in the basement unless disturbed.

And that's probably more than I know about radon.

"First, he said that he has heard that one of the reasons why the White House has been lobbying so hard against Ibrahim Jaafari becoming prime minister of Iraq is that were he to become prime minister, he would ask US troops to leave. That's interesting."

Um, since Jaafari has made about a million statements on this, for months, I'm at a bit of a loss as to where the news is there. Although what he's said is that there should be a timetable, leaving vague what the timetable should be, last I looked; but that this was one of the conditions laid down by Moktada Sadr to get Jaafari his votes has been endlessly written about.

Now, is that a primary reason the Admin is against Jaafari? I couldn't possibly say today; could be, but the fact that Jaafari is, by everyone's account, a nice incompent, under whom Iraq is rapidly disappearing down the drain, and that with him there, Jafr remains as Interior Minister, and the Shiite death squads go on -- see "drain" again -- certainly seems sufficient explanation.

Not that I don't believe that the Admin wants long-term bases, since I do believe that.

"I sometimes worry that we will get used to the levels of mendacity that we've seen from this administration: that we will stop remembering that it is not normal for administrations to lie to Congress on a regular basis, to suppress all dissenting points of view, or to try to game the system so that their preferred outcome prevails."

I don't worry about it sometimes; I either worry about it all the time, except when I've given up in despair.

My most recent lengthy post about Iran was here a couple of days ago, though with another couple of links snuck in at the bottom of this.

There have been more stories today both on the alarmist side, and on the knock-down, no, it's just to wave a stick at Iran, side; I haven't blogged them because in the last couple of days, everyone has been writing about Iran, and it would be redundant until there are more facts, less speculation, to discuss. Mostly everyone is just repeating themselves, or someone else, now. Arkin continues to be someone to read, among many others, this week.

4.1 in the basement. What HJ said. A small vent should do it.

More generals.

And since it's an open thread, has everyone seen the weirdest USB devices?

And it's not just George's poll numbers that are falling.

Spying on teh gay.

And so on and so forth.

"Arkin continues to be someone to read, among many others, this week."

I have been studying Arkin as if I were going for a oral exam on Friday. Seems intensely cryptic this week. Some blogger had a comment on Arkin, I forget who, along the lines:"OK, they got plans Bill, but what are they going to do?"

"I've asked in these pages whether the situation has reached some "tipping point," some point of no return like in 2002 when war with Iraq was inevitable. The answer, I believe, is absolutely not." ...Arkin, 4/10

But:"A war with Iran started purposefully or by accident, will be a mess. What is happening now though is not just an administration prudently preparing for the unfortunate against an aggressive and crazed state, it is also aggressive and crazed, driven by groupthink and a closed circle of bears." ...Arkin, also 4/10

So what is going on here? The various plans are a little interesting, but...well, if I may just make stuff up. Arkin is telling us in great detail that he has terrific sources inside the Pentagon, that war is not yet inevitable, and the WH and Pentagon civilians want to blow up Iran a lot.

Answer:The Military is trying their best to stop this war, or at least minimize the damage. This obviously must be handled very carefully and quietly. I have no idea how heavy the situation at the Pentagon is, or could get.

Note:Tacitus wrote a post about Newbold this week that emphasized the dangers of officers not unquestioningly obeying their civilian masters. Retired Gen Newbold was not all subtle when he started his piece with "Won't Get Fooled Again.", nor as to what war he was really talking about, or who he was talking to. The left blogosphere who complained:"Now he tells us" really didn't get it.

Yeah, yeah, I should link this stuff. I'll do it tomorrow. Here's Arkin

"Instead, Hersh said this, and added that he could see why they might imagine that in the summer, trying to explain to the American people why, after all those dead troops and all that money, we were being asked to leave, they might regard Iraq as politically attractive. It was about the last answer to Gross' question that I expected"

I think you meant to say "Iran"

Hey, don't miss the Pseudo-Academic Celebrity Death Match on C-SPAN this weekend!

American Perspectives
Debate Between David Horowitz & Ward Churchill
C-SPAN, Sat. Apr. 15, 8pm ET

Think of it as it as the political equivalent of an electron-positron annihilation. Two high-energy but lightweight entities collide...and the sparks fly.

"Two high-energy but lightweight entities collide...and the sparks fly."

Or, in human terms, two unbelievably immense assholes, neither of whom is worth listening to, collide.

Or more like: I'd run a thousand miles away at a thousand miles an hour to avoid having to listen to either, ever again.

In particle terms, it would be as if two anti-particles colliding somehow produce nothingness of a thousand times their previous mass.

The sum of their parts is stunningly a thousand times less than their complete worthlessness when apart.

Something like that. IMNHO.

Or, in human terms, two unbelievably immense assholes, neither of whom is worth listening to, collide.

Sounds like that was the consensus.

More on why anyone not supporting SCIRI or the Badr Brigades wants Jaafari gone.

"Sounds like that was the consensus."

I live in Boulder; I'm in danger of running into Churchill walking down the street; he's been on local tv news far too much, though fortunately not lately, and i tend to mostly avoid local tv news, anyway. And Horowitz, well, the planet is too small to want to be on the same one he's on.

Two schmuckier representatives of their whatevers, I can't imagine, outside of -- well, I'd be insulting college freshman if I pointed to them as a class.

On Ye Other Hande, Churchill, for all his immense dislikeability, did completely pwn Sean Hannity on his show the other day. If you've not read the transcript, please do so. Between the three them -- Hannity, Horowitz and Churchill -- it's like this critical mass of smugness and jerkosity.

I saw Charlie Rose last night: guests Gary Sick and Joseph Circincione were quite coherent. One thing that struck me is their view that a powerful faction in DC thinks the Iranian government is tottering, and only needs a small push. Neither guest thought this remotely plausible, but as we all know, we're talking about people for whom reality is just another possible interpretation.

My own view is that talking about nukes is designed to keep Bubba on board -- no more mollycoddling of ragheads this time, we're going to get in there and really shock and awe everyone.

hilzoy,

I agree with prior comments on radon. It's massively overhyped, and the easiest way to cure it is ventilation. At your level, opening the windows one afternoon a month should keep it to acceptable levels.

And I think Gary hit the nail on the head better than Hersh on why us being asked to leave is anathema to the Administration -- if we are asked to leave, we don't get to keep our well-fortified new bases.

Hilzoy, given your experiences in Turkey, you might possibly find these pictures and brief travelogue of Michael Totten's through Turkish Kurdistan sad but perhaps interesting.

Dantheman: "And I think Gary hit the nail...."

Much as I'd prefer to agree (although I'd hope I used a hammer; my karate isn't that good, and just using my hand, I'd be all with the owie; let's not discuss results of my using other body parts), I'm neutral at best on whether that's why the U.S. wants Jaafari out; you kinda got that backwards, I'm afraid. I said I do believe that the U.S. wants to retain bases, absolutely, but I don't know that that's the primary reason for opposing Jaafari; etc.

Gary: oh dear God.

The civil war was ongoing when I was there, but the huge campaign to raze villages had, I think, not gotten to full steam. As a result, most places were basically normal, as long as: (a) the army did not appear; (b) no one said anything inflammatory (and the boundaries of 'inflammatory' were expansive); (c) no one in any other way brought the civil war down on them. The army, of course, didn't need to be 'brought down', it just appeared, and did awful things when it did. People were randomly swept up and tortured. -- And there were places, notably Hakkari, where the army was always there, and there was a constant undercurrent of suspicion: anyone you met might be an informant, and if they weren't, they'd be wondering if you were.

And of course no one actually needed a reason to throw anyone in jail.

But for all that, when the army wasn't around and people didn't cause trouble, things had some semblance of normalcy.

Those pictures break my heart.

"Those pictures break my heart."

Yeah, sorry about that. They're quite awful, but I thought you might want to see/know, anyway. Hope that wasn't a bad call.

I found the other two installments of Michael's excursion also of interest, and less sad, by the way.

Michael tends to take a lot of crap because he's not remotely right enough for the right bloggers, and not remotely left enough for the left bloggers, and sometimes I agree with some criticisms of him, myself; at times he does have a tendency to overly split-the-difference.

But more than not I tend to find that he gets more crap and dismissal than he proportionally deserves. I found myself almost wary when checking his current front page, which I'd not done in at least a couple of weeks, but actually it's all pretty interesting, with more links to more on his visit to Hezbollah in Beirut than I'd seen before. So you might find his other current posts and links also of interest. The account of running through Troy is a bit odd, but the picture of the sea castle is impressive.

This hersh article is totally non-news. We've had contingency planning against Iran since 1979. The only enlightening thing in the Hersh article is that we are currently updating our plans. So what? Planning does not equal intent. The military is required to create these kinds of plans by law. We have current contingency plans against Russia for many different possible scenarios - including nuclear plans. Does that mean we are about to attack Russia? Of course not.

There are many many legitimate reasons we are not supporting Jaafari - I would think that him asking us to leave is near the bottom of the list. He's a thug who has proven that he's in the pocket of the radical shiites.

Incidentally, Hilzoy, although you've done a number of posts on the Bush Admin vs. 4th Amendment issues, I don't know if you've been, given your busyness, following Hepting vs. AT&T. (I always enjoy it when the NY Times digs up info (on Narus) after I've already found it, and then they give less detail than I did, not that it wasn't available to anyone with web access.)

"Planning does not equal intent."

Yes and no. I am (present tense) a supporter of staying in Iraq, but I am fully (oh too fully) aware that Bush has completely screwed things up. Having seen his 'work' in Iraq I can't support an invasion of Iran. (Actually I wouldn't have anyway, Iran being a very different case historically compared to a Saddam-led Iraq). But considering Bush's history, it isn't immediately obvious that he isn't thinking about it--in the way the Russia case is obvious.

Coupled with the fact that the international community isn't going to do anything substantial to stop Iran from getting nuclear bombs I don't see good things happening in the Middle East in the next decade. When Iran bombs Tel Aviv and Haifa, destroying almost 2/3 of the population of Israel with two bombs, and then Israel responds in a death strike destroying multiple cities in Iran, what happens next? I don't know, but I absolutely guarantee it won't be a good thing.

no more mollycoddling of ragheads this time, we're going to get in there and really shock and awe everyone.

I think even the Bubbas (maybe especially the Bubbas; you just never know) can recognize that shock and awe was demonstrated the last time we engaged another army. Possibly, too, they're aware that if you shock and awe an entire population, a whole lot more people get dead.

If you're suggesting that the Bubbas are rooting for more carnage next time, you're tapped into a vein of Bubba-hood that I haven't seen. As if that means anything, granted.

If you're suggesting that the Bubbas are rooting for more carnage next time, you're tapped into a vein of Bubba-hood that I haven't seen.

i haven't noticed a lot of complaints from the Bubbas about the numbers of Iraqis we've killed so far. and yes, i know that's not the same as rooting for more.

I sometimes worry that we will get used to the levels of mendacity that we've seen from this administration: that we will stop remembering that it is not normal for administrations to lie to Congress on a regular basis, to suppress all dissenting points of view, or to try to game the system so that their preferred outcome prevails.

The Bush admin must be pretty imcompetant in their quest to "suppress all dissenting points of view" since NPR and the Bill Moyers Network, still exist and are paid in part by taxpayer money. Not to mention ABC, CBS, NBC, Newsweek, Time, AOL, various major newspapers, that are 90% negative towards to any and all Bush policies. Social Security reform discussion was suppressed by the major media, for instance. Seen Mark Steyn's take on Iran in major media? Not too likely.

Oh, and isn't "to try to game the system so that their preferred outcome prevails" politicians' job description?

Have you ever seen anything like Michael Yon or Michael Totten's reporting from the Kurdish part of Iraq on the evening news or a magazine? If not, and I've never seen it, what is the reason? Is is that Bush is suppressing this information or could it possibly be the top honchos in major media? (Think in terms of Ted Turner's comments on the state of affairs in North Korea here.)

DaveC: Social Security reform discussion was suppressed by the major media, for instance.

And not by the President who refused to have anyone in the room with him to "discuss" social security who wasn't already a Bush supporter?

Hilzoy: I sometimes worry that we will get used to the levels of mendacity that we've seen from this administration: that we will stop remembering that it is not normal for administrations to lie to Congress on a regular basis, to suppress all dissenting points of view, or to try to game the system so that their preferred outcome prevails.

DaveC: Oh, and isn't "to try to game the system so that their preferred outcome prevails" politicians' job description?

Too late, Hilzoy. At least as far as the DaveCs of the US are concerned...

I haven't yet seen a really good liberal approach to the Iran problem. I don't have one, and I can't really formulate one that doesn't start with not screwing the pooch in Iraq, which may be a little too little too late.

Iran is run my messianic loonies who are dedicated to getting nukes, and they are about five years away from that goal. A nuclear armed theocratic oil state with declared intentions to nuke Israel and relentless hostility to the United States seems to me sufficiently bad for the US and the world that preemption is justified if no other good options exist. That said, I don't know of any good options that don't involve counterfactuals or outright fantasy.

"The Bush admin must be pretty imcompetant in their quest to 'suppress all dissenting points of view' since NPR and the Bill Moyers Network, still exist and are paid in part by taxpayer money."

DaveC, the assertion is about people still working within the military/governmental establishment.

What's your explanation for implicitly calling Maj. Gen. John Batiste, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, Maj. Gen. John Riggs, Lieut. General Greg Newbold, and so many other officers liars? Should we believe you over them based on your greater military experience as a general under Sec. Rumsfeld? Or why?

Incidentally, Bill Moyers isn't actually on PBS any more. But let's not let facts get in the way of what we'd like to believe, because the truth is scary and unpleasant.

"Have you ever seen anything like Michael Yon or Michael Totten's reporting from the Kurdish part of Iraq on the evening news or a magazine?"

Sure. How about ABC's program to find positive news about Iraq to broadcast, based upon viewer suggestions?

Oh, wait, right-wing blogs haven't written about it? Maybe that's their commitment to only finding negative news... about the "MSM"?

"Seen Mark Steyn's take on Iran in major media? Not too likely."

Has the Internet been broken? Not too likely. The suppressors of Mark Steyn must be pretty incompetant in their quest to suppress him, eh?

"If not, and I've never seen it, what is the reason?"

Because you don't read that much? Would you like a list of cites of Michael Yon appearing in the "MSM"? I don't have Nexis access, so that would be easier for someone who does, but I've read many dozens of pieces by him in the dread MSM. You. Are. Flat. Wrong. And a Nexis search should show hundreds of cites of him.

Ask him yourself. Or say this list doesn't exist. Let's see, he's in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Seattle Times, Good Morning, America, Boston Herald, Detroit News, NY Post, AP, yeah, he's really suppressed, all right.

And I've read countless MSM pieces by Mike Totten. Ask him if he's had any problem selling pieces because The MSM Doesn't Want His POV. Go on, ask him. I just frigging linked to a piece by him a couple of comments ago.

Hey, I have an idea! Let's quote which Michael Yon has to say about being censored from a few days ago, why don't we?

here:

Of course! Ye’ old censorship. Every country practices censorship, in one form or the other.
Just this week, Thailand is having a Texas-cage match over censorship, accuracy in reporting, and alleged slanderous swipes at the King. Last week, in America, a radio producer for a large syndicated program in the United States called me requesting that I go on the show, a show that has hosted me many times and where I’ve been referred to as, “Our man in Iraq.” But when I said Iraq is in a civil war, that same producer slammed down the phone and, in so doing, demonstrated how much he reveres truth.

The many faces of suppression are interesting. The first time I said something the producer did not agree with, he slammed down the phone. That’s why I do not accept advertisement. That same syndication had regarded my opinion highly when I was saying what they wanted to hear. They were not happy per se for truth. The truth was that we were making much progress in Iraq, and that is what they wanted to hear. But I knew the honeymoon would end the day the truth was at variance to their narrowly defined message. When the receiver slammed into the phone, the producer revealed himself naked; he was not supporting the troops, nor the Iraqis, but the President. One day, perhaps when I am in some hell-spot on earth and the only person they can reach by satellite phone, they might call again, and I will go on again, and I will tell the truth, and they will either hang on my words and say, “See, see, he is on the ground! And he believes the same as we!” Or I might say something they don’t like, they might hang up the phone again, and I will go about my business, no hard feelings. Although sometimes the truth saddens me, it just is what is.

I checked my website to see if the United Arab Emirates had shut me down for saying Iraq was in a Civil War. They had not. More interestingly, though a few military leaders politely disagreed with the statement that Iraq is in a state of civil war, a larger number of Iraq-experienced military officers agreed (off-the-record) that Iraq is in a civil war, and thanked me for saying it.

So whose opinions should we respect on matters Iraq? Smart combat veterans who have graduated from top schools in the United States and who have faced bombs and bullets and bled in Iraq, or a radio producer who has never been there and who cannot control his temper in the face of words? It’s time we listened to our combat leaders.

That's how Michael Yon backs you up, DaveC. And I just cited and linked to our combat leaders on Iraq and Bush/Rumsfeld's leadership.

Want to talk Iraqi bloggers again?

I think the liberal approach is to destroy Iran if they try to attack Israel. Worked pretty well with Russia.

By the way, DaveC, if you know anyone who could help me get my views as suppressed by the MainStream Media as badly as Steyn and Yon and Mike Totten are, I'd really appreciate it. I could use the visibility and cash.

I'll settle for one tenth of any of their's, though.

"Social Security reform discussion was suppressed by the major media, for instance."

I missed that line. If you check Nexis, you'll find thousands of major media articles on Bush's proposals. Thousands.

Saying otherwise is just insane. It has no connection to reality. The subject was discussed up and down the wazoo last year in every newspaper, news magazine, and tv and radio news show in America. This is just undeniable fact. I don't know what to say to a denial of reality that claims otherwise. It's simple checkable fact. It's not a matter of opinion. Fact. Checkable. Provable.

As for Mark Steyn on (inter alia) Iran, does the Chicago Sun-Times count as "major media"?

"I think the liberal approach is to destroy Iran if they try to attack Israel."

Ok, so just for the record, you are all ok with counter-genocide? Im not totally sure I'm even that ruthless.

Even presuming the threat is real (which I don't think is obvious) there is an additional wrinkle which could make things worse. Iran might have some leaders who believe that Allah will protect them. (Think about some of the things Bush says and worrisome you find them and then realize that the mullahs actually are in a theocratic government before you pooh-pooh this idea).

What DaveC is on about is that Steyn's column was dropped recently by both the British Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator.

Everyone come see the inherent repression of the system!

Of course, columns are dropped by publications all the time. Steyn's currently being oppressed by appearing in the Atlantic, Chicago Sun-Times, San Diego Times-Union, NY Sun, Irish Times, Richmond Times Dispatch, Washington Times, New Criterion, Jerusalem Post, Irish Times, and so on and so forth.

Come see the repression inherent in the system.

I'll wait for DaveC to decry the awful censorship of Robert Scheer being dropped by the LA Times, and Michael Kinsley's being canned by them, or of a jillion similar cases I can name of non-right-wing people getting dropped by some publication.

It's just awful how these right-wing folks are so oppressed by being published in so many prominent places. As I said, please, please, please, brer Rabbit, oppress me like that.

"San Diego Times-Union"

What is that? I know I don't read the local paper but I don't recognize the name. Is that the Union-Tribune?

Steyn:

Mark Steyn's writing on politics, arts and culture can be read throughout much of the English-speaking world.

In the United Kingdom, Mark appears in The Daily Telegraph , Britain's biggest-selling broadsheet daily, and writes on current events and movies for The Spectator, the oldest continuously-published magazine in the English language. In the United States, he is a columnist for The Chicago Sun-Times, America's fifth most-read daily paper, and also appears in The New York Sun, the city's first new broadsheet daily in a quarter of a century, The Washington Times , and The Orange County Register in California. In addition, Mark is drama critic for The New Criterion, resident obituarist for The Atlantic Monthly , and National Review's Happy Warrior. In his native Canada, he can be read in the Dominion's liveliest political magazine The Western Standard, and writes a weekly books column for Maclean's . Mark also appears in The Jerusalem Post , the Middle East's leading English-language daily; The Australian , Australia's national newspaper; Investigate andHawke's Bay Today in New Zealand; and more occasionally in The Wall Street Journal and (translated into Italian) Il Foglio, but even when he's not in them he thinks they're worth reading, which is why we link to them here. Mark doesn't do a lot of TV and radio these days, but he enjoys his appearances on The Hugh Hewitt Radio Show.

Though we must scratch the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator, it's just horrible how he's being suppressed!

Incidentally, need I point out that the Spectator is as far-right a publication as it gets in Britain without being an organ of the fascist press, and the Telegraph is known as the "Torygraph"?

DaveC's complaint is that the most right-wing publications in Britain are... secretly controlled by the left?

Well, it makes as much sense as anything else's he's said.

"Is that the Union-Tribune?"

Yes. Sorry, I bobbled.

Sebastian,

""I think the liberal approach is to destroy Iran if they try to attack Israel."

Ok, so just for the record, you are all ok with counter-genocide?"

I am pretty sure that there are ways of destroying a government short of committing genocide on its people. For example, we destroyed Germany and Japan in WWII without killing off the German and Japanese peoples.

"Iran might have some leaders who believe that Allah will protect them. (Think about some of the things Bush says and worrisome you find them and then realize that the mullahs actually are in a theocratic government before you pooh-pooh this idea)."

I'll admit they have a 25 year head start on this country in that regard.

Ok, so just for the record, you are all ok with counter-genocide? Im not totally sure I'm even that ruthless.

It's only my opinion, but I'm completely comfortable with destruction being visited on any country that uses nukes unprovoked. Whether it would have to be genocide is doubtful; the important part would be to guarantee the utter destruction of anyone in the country resembling a leader. The one thing I am sure about is that the 50 or 60 year olds who end up making the decisions in any large organization, be it a government, religion, corporation, or what have you, are not suicidally messianic. They might be perfectly willing for millions of other people to die, but they will not risk their own privilege for ideology, let alone their lives. You just have to make it clear to them who's going to get it. If you have some historical case where this actually happened, I would be interested to hear about it.

I'm trying to wrap my head around the "Iran is run [by] messianic loonies" argument. It's one that I see pop up a lot these days, and it seems truly unhelpful.

From the reading I've done, Khomeini revived a submerged version of apocalyptic Shi'ism in order to whip up revolutionary fervor and to legitimize his power. However, he then had to establish a government that would survive him, so he had to temper the acocalyptic promise with the legitimacy and continuity of juridical rule.

Those two visions of Shi'ism are remain in tension today and could maybe (maybe) be personified by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. But there are other pressure groups within the government, like the corrupt pragmatist Rafsanjani who seems to remain a pivotal decision-maker and influence-broker.

Ahmadinejad's public statements are, sure, deeply wierd and troubling, but the moment we all accept that the "Iranian regime" is just nuts, that it will act suicidally, that it responds irrationally by any measure, then we've basically accepted military strikes. If we don't accept the above, then we might be willing to think about carrots and sticks that would make sense to factions within the Iranian goverment that could be empowered...

[Long outburst! But I keep seeing this argument in various forms: "Look! Irrational, suicidal Twelver Shi'ism! We must bomb!"]

"They might be perfectly willing for millions of other people to die, but they will not risk their own privilege for ideology, let alone their lives. You just have to make it clear to them who's going to get it. If you have some historical case where this actually happened, I would be interested to hear about it."

Oh look Godwin's Law.....

:)

"Ahmadinejad's public statements are, sure, deeply wierd and troubling, but the moment we all accept that the "Iranian regime" is just nuts, that it will act suicidally, that it responds irrationally by any measure, then we've basically accepted military strikes. If we don't accept the above, then we might be willing to think about carrots and sticks that would make sense to factions within the Iranian goverment that could be empowered..."

I don't like the post-modernist sound of this paragraph. The important part is not whether we accept the above, the important part is whether or not it is true. If it is not true, great. It if is, not so good. But what we accept about it will only dictate whether or not we are realistically dealing with the true things. It doesn't change what the true things are.

That said, we should investigate the truth of the matter. You write:

"But there are other pressure groups within the government, like the corrupt pragmatist Rafsanjani who seems to remain a pivotal decision-maker and influence-broker."

Since he is the one who said the following 3 months after 9/11 you may officially put me in the "not relieved to hear he is a pivotal decision maker and influence-broker" group:


If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.


Of course he is wrong. It would take 2 nuclear bombs.

"For example, we destroyed Germany and Japan in WWII without killing off the German and Japanese peoples."

Just to be quibbly, if somehow in some alternative universe Japan and Germany had been peaceful, and we (America, Britain, Soviet Union, and allies) had launched unprovoked attacks on those two countries and their possessions and armies and civilians, and did the same amount of damage and killing that we did in our reality, there's no doubt that we'd meet most definitions of attempted genocide even by the time we'd stopped.

Similarly it would not be unfair to make similar claims in regard to German behavior towards the untermenschen of the East, the Slavs, and the Japanese towards the Chinese.

All the numbers are quite appalling, after all.

"The one thing I am sure about is that the 50 or 60 year olds who end up making the decisions in any large organization, be it a government, religion, corporation, or what have you, are not suicidally messianic. They might be perfectly willing for millions of other people to die, but they will not risk their own privilege for ideology, let alone their lives. You just have to make it clear to them who's going to get it. If you have some historical case where this actually happened, I would be interested to hear about it."

Happy to oblige. Masada. Significant parts of the Japanese High Command and innumerable followers. Hitler and Goebbels and a smattering of their followers. Ahmed Yassin. Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Abdullah Qawasmeh. Samson. Jim Jones. David Koresh. The leaders of the Solar Temple.
The "Ten Commandments of God" sect.

One can go on. And on. HTH. HAND.

there's no doubt that we'd meet most definitions of attempted genocide even by the time we'd stopped.

But we don't live in that universe, Gary, and in ours the Germans and Japanese were actively lobbing bullets and shells that required the Allies to lob bullets and shells. And they resisted far past any point that made strategic sense. Hence all those dead.

Masada - not old, and not privileged elite

Hitler - never AFAIK thought he was personally threatened until the end

The Japanese high command - ditto

Samson and Koresh - not old and not privileged elite

Jones - maybe

The others I have to think about (or don't know about)

"Hitler - never AFAIK thought he was personally threatened until the end

The Japanese high command - ditto"

And thus we return to the "do they really believe God is protecting them" issue which you wanted to avoid.

Sebastian,

I'm trying to figure out that truth by reading up on Shi'ite traditions, etc., but most people I see making that argument link to Wikipedia at best, and to various fearmongering definitions of Twelver Shi'ite beliefs at worst. Bald statements about tenets of a faith tradition made from outside a culture are not good predictors of how people will actually behave.

(My fairly liberal Mormon mother keeps about six months of emergency rations in the garage. Not the full year dictated by a former President of the Mormon church. She has very little use for the millenialist traditions that the Mormon church could legitimately be describing as having, but does live in an earthquake zone. These are data-points that someone describing her behavior from outside could make into an apocalyptic trend, but, knowing my mother as I do, I know that trend would be a false projection.)

As for the postmodernism of my above remark, I think that the category of "irrationality" actually does matter for military planning. Fallows's description of the 2003 Iran war game had "irrational leadership" as a contingency option (the gamers didn't like it because it threw the computer models off). And it seems to be becoming a presumed truth--as, wierdly, it became in the pre-war arguments about Saddam Hussein. I agree that knowing the real truth about decision-making within the Iranian government would be preferable, but, since there seems to be real internal tension there and because we have few intelligence assets on the ground, ascerning that truth is rather difficult.

One method for ascerning the rationality and influence of various factions within the government that I hope we'd avoid, however, is taking single quotes out of all context and holding them up as damning proofs of suicidal irrationality. Over Rafsanjani's long career as a government insider, he seems to have held most possible positions on war, economics, religion, and government. That single quote, presenting a subjunctive expression of nationalist belligerence, doesn't really prove all that much about what diplomatic or military policies Rafsanjani is advocating behind closed doors.

May a Center/Right hawk comment?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/12/AR2006041200538.html> This is the reason that all of the whining about using only diplomacy is just that. The WaPo article tells us why Islamist fanatics require the stick and not the carrot:

“The hijackers, as shown on a computer simulation played on monitors throughout the courtroom, jerked the plane violently to the left and right during the struggle. They tried to cut off the oxygen as passengers banged on the cockpit door. In the end, as the passengers were either in the cockpit or moments from entering it, the hijackers turned the plane upside down -- and crashed it. "Allah is the greatest!" one screamed nine times as the plane went down.”

Which is exactly what some Iranian fanatics will scream when they push the button to destroy Israel (or Washington, D. C.). One Neville Chamberlain in history is enough. Talk of diplomacy with these fanatics without the threat of attack is just so much wishful thinking. Diplomacy will solve this problem only if we make it clear that we will use the big stick. Liberal whining is making that more and more difficult.

And thus we return to the "do they really believe God is protecting them" issue which you wanted to avoid.

Nah, not really. We come back to the "make sure they know exactly who's going to get it." I'm sure that after the Iran-Iraq war they do not think they're invulnerable behind God's force shield.

Diplomacy will solve this problem only if we make it clear that we will use the big stick. Liberal whining is making that more and more difficult.

The latter statement, in no way, supports the former.

Think about some of the things Bush says and worrisome you find them and then realize that the mullahs actually are in a theocratic government before you pooh-pooh this idea

You have to stick to political angles, Khamenei fatwa'd nukes.

I'm completely comfortable with destruction being visited on any country that uses nukes unprovoked. Whether it would have to be genocide is doubtful; the important part would be to guarantee the utter destruction of anyone in the country resembling a leader.

You DO realize that so far only one country used nukes, and that same country still develops new nukes to use on the battlefield?

dutchmarbel: Yep. I think first use of nukes is that bad of an idea.

dutchmarbel,

I would strongly argue that using nukes on Japan at the end of WWII was not unprovoked, especially in light of how the US entered the war. On the other hand, I will await Tim's response as to his view on whether the US using nukes on Iran without a declared war in order to deter them from acquiring nukes would be considered provoked.

Tim,

I think that counts as a cross-post.

I'm sorta glad to see SH coming down hard on the nuclear retaliation idea, even if we probably would disagree in other respects. Perhaps there was no good alternative to MAD during the Cold War (unless we all wanted to be heroic pacifists willing to be martyred, which we didn't), but there ought to be ways to take out a country's leaders without descending into a full-scale nuclear holocaust. Which is not to say that it can be done without killing a lot of innocent people.

Anyway, we should say that any nuclear attack on Israel will result in the killing or capturing of the people responsible and we'll do whatever is necessary to accomplish that. But the notion that the proper response to nuclear genocide is more nuclear genocide is the sort of barbaric Cold War notion we ought to put behind us. I'm not suggesting what else we ought to be doing with respect to Iran if they are determined to acquire nukes, because I don't know.

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons, it added."

You do realize that this coupled with Ahmadinejad's recent full push toward getting nuclear weapons intersects with the "who is in charge" question in a way that makes your argument look bad, right?

And Rafsanjani has said otherwise as well, and he is a mullah too. And haven't Shaykh Muhammad Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti and Ayatollah al-Udhma Yousof al-Sanei (Iran)issued fatwas against suicide bombing? That doesn't seem to have stopped them very well.

If you believe the fatwa definitively closes the issue, just say so (so I can see the location of our disagreement)--but for the record I'm skeptical.

"The WaPo article tells us why Islamist fanatics require the stick and not the carrot...."

However, it tells us nothing whatever about the mindset of the present rulers of Iran, and even less about what that mindset and who those people will be in five years (it being quite unlikely that they'll have nuclear bomb capability before then) and even less about said people in ten years, or fifteen years, or twenty years, which it might be perfectly possible to live through via containment, just as we survived the Mad Communists of Stalin and Mao.

We don't know that that would/will work, either. Right now, all we can do is make estimates and guesses, and plan accordingly.

But generalizations about "Islamist fanatics" that treat anyone one can pin that label on (no matter how accurately) as if they were a homogenous and fungible set of people are self-evidently erroneous, since they're not homogenous or fungible.

"Liberal whining is making that more and more difficult."

See, this is an unhelpful remark of the sort that is discouraged around here. We prefer to try to deal with citable facts, not adjectives and ad hominems.

"...and that same country still develops new nukes to use on the battlefield?"

In point of fact, no new nukes have been developed or tested in many years. There are thirteen weapons systems in nine classes. Here they are. There's research for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, but no development. There were funds requested to research the
Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator
, but the Congress denied them.

I'm afraid you're misinformed.

"Anyway, we should say that any nuclear attack on Israel will result in the killing or capturing of the people responsible and we'll do whatever is necessary to accomplish that."

Maybe we can get them dead or alive, like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

That threat ought to scare them.

"it tells us nothing whatever about the mindset of the present rulers of Iran, and even less about what that mindset and who those people will be in five years (it being quite unlikely that they'll have nuclear bomb capability before then)"

I have to take issue with this. I don't understand why so many people are so confident that a country with access to both uranium and modern industrial technology has to be 5 years out from a nuclear weapon. While Iran isn't as advanced as say Japan, it should be noted that Japan could almost certainly have nuclear weapons within months if it wanted to. The techniques are well understood if you have access to good equipment. Iran does. If we let them get plutonium--which considering the international community's noted lack of will on reactors doesn't seem ridiculous, there isn't much reason why they couldn't have thermonuclear weapons almost immediately afterwards.

I'm not encouraged by a wait and hope approach except insofar as there doesn't seem to be a better option--given the international community's unwillingness to bother with a diplomacy that extends beyond chit-chat. If the European 3 initiative had been part of a plan to set up vicious sanctions if they didn't work that would have been one thing. But they weren't. They were designed to illustrate the independent and advanced diplomatic prowess of non-Americans. They were designed to illustrate that pure chit-chat diplomacy could do the job. Conceptually they made the exact same mistake that Rumsfeld made with his idea to illustrate the superiority of the US military by taking over Iraq with a minimum force. Nice if it works, but really bad if it doesn't.

Well, Gary, being on the run and living in a cave might not appeal to most people. What I'm basically arguing for is, in the worst case scenario, something more like what we did to Nazi Germany or current day Iraq--conquest and overthrow of the government, with leaders captured or dead. Extremely messy and lots of casualties, but preferable to the deaths of tens of millions. To me, anyway. Are you arguing for the "nuke them till they glow" mode of deterrence, or just being snarky?

"Are you arguing for the "nuke them till they glow" mode of deterrence, or just being snarky?"

Heaven knows Gary can write for himself, but I suspect he is just trying to point out that there are serious problems with thinking that simple deterrence will work--problems that should at the very least be seriously looked at.

That is why my take on deterrence is that we ought to avoid the problem by keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons any time in the immediate future.

By the way, are you so sure bin Laden is in a cave? For all we know he could be in a perfectly nice house.

One of the problems with the European-Iranian negotiations, though, was that the Americans were not involved and in fact still maintaining a hostile position vis-a-vis Iran.

Iran has desired American recognition and some security guarantees for years now; they're terrified of us, and because they're proud and actually have gotten pushed around in the past, they've responded with machistic defiance.

Because internal politics have caused them and us to make counter-productive motions at various points that derailed diplomatic back-channels and tentative overtures, we've gotten to this ridiculously dangerous face-off.

Would it be so beneath our dignity to undertake bilateral negotiations with real carrots on the table? Carrots like, for example, abandoning our hostile committment to regime change? Some committment to respecting Iran's borders and sovreignty in exchange for Iran's acceptance of the Russian proposal? Maybe, if that part goes well, we could move on to proposing dropping some of our current sanctions in exchange for a recognition of Israel?

We.Haven't.Even.Tried. Why? Because they're apocalyptic lunatics, of course.

(Okay, that last is too snide. There's a real history of Iran's exporting violence in the wake of their revolution. It is, however, arguable that their terrorist networks have been comparatively quiescent in recent years. Their threatening posture towards Israel is a problem. Israel's threatening posture towards Iran is also a problem, although understandable. The goal should be finding a way to de-escalate these threat levels--particularly if we hope that Iran will liberalize internally.)

I agree that deterrence might not be enough. I don't know enough about the Iranian leaders to say what policy might be successful.

My only point was a tangential one--to the extent that we do use deterrence, stop threatening to wipe out tens of millions of people and use threats of actions that we could take that wouldn't involve crimes against humanity. Part of our anti-proliferation campaign should involve an examination of our own willingness to brandish these things. Don't even threaten to use nuclear weapons unless (as in the case of the old USSR or possibly China in the future), there's no other plausible deterrent available.

I don't understand why so many people are so confident that a country with access to both uranium and modern industrial technology has to be 5 years out from a nuclear weapon.

Well, you need 25 kg of uranium for a bomb; how fast they can get it depends on how many centrifuges they have running. As far as plutonium, building a reactor from scratch takes 3-4 years even if you take a lot of shortcuts. Then you'd have to run it for 1-2 years to get enough plutonium to process. Refining the rods after that took North Korea another year or so. So unless Iran has an operational reactor already, 5-6 years is the quickest they could get plutonium.

"One of the problems with the European-Iranian negotiations, though, was that the Americans were not involved and in fact still maintaining a hostile position vis-a-vis Iran."

You might think so in retrospect, but the EU-3 specifically asked us to keep out of the negotiations.

"Well, you need 25 kg of uranium for a bomb; how fast they can get it depends on how many centrifuges they have running."

Which we don't know, nor do we know if they already have uranium.

"I don't understand why so many people are so confident that a country with access to both uranium and modern industrial technology has to be 5 years out from a nuclear weapon."

It's simply a matter of building a large enough chain of centrifuges, Sebastian.

Alternately, one can assume that they've sufficient fissionable material obtained elsewhere, but such claims seem to be rather a stretch, insofar as I've seen them so far (cue Trent Trelenko).

As has been endlessly pointed out, building enough centrifuges and getting them to run together for long enough to get to a bomb will take years. Do you contest this? (I'll stipulate that they can construct a working bomb from designs, although that's not exactly an easy task, or something to just assume they'll do successfully, and I'll stipulate that they'll have enough of a delivery system, whether via ballistic missile or otherwise, to be a threat.)

I'm not saying we should be complacent. I'm just saying we don't have grounds to assume they're going to have a bomb sooner or that when they do, they'll use it, either. There are a lot of known unknowns here.

"While Iran isn't as advanced as say Japan, it should be noted that Japan could almost certainly have nuclear weapons within months if it wanted to."

Does Japan have adequate enrichment capability at present? I wasn't aware of that, but I've not looked into it, either. Do you have a cite on that?

DJ: "Are you arguing for the "nuke them till they glow" mode of deterrence, or just being snarky?"

I wasn't arguing for anything, certainly, so perhaps I was just being snarky, but my point was that such a threat is not apt to be the most frightening and effective threat imaginable. That's all.

Sebastian: "Which we don't know, nor do we know if they already have uranium."

Well, we also don't know that aliens have equipped them with Nova Bombs, but I don't think it's reasonable to assume that this may be the case. And they certainly have uranium. Did you mean U235?

We also don't know if they have anti-matter, but I'm unaware of a reasonable reason to think they may.

o the extent that we do use deterrence, stop threatening to wipe out tens of millions of people and use threats of actions that we could take that wouldn't involve crimes against humanity

any such threat would only come from a madman. and there's no negotiating with madmen, as the more hawkish among us like to tell us every time the subject comes up. why should Iran trust anyone who would make a credible threat to nuke them ?

JM: "Israel's threatening posture towards Iran is also a problem, although understandable."

Has Israel been making threats towards Iran other than of a "we will retaliate if attacked" nature? What sort of threats?

I'd be at least as interested in knowing whether they have Plutonium, Sebastian. Gary's point, though, is still a good one: certainly they've got uranium; Iraq had more than enough uranium to make a few bombs, collected pretty much in one place. What they lacked, though, is U-235 of sufficient purity to make a fission device, which is in a completely different bracket of difficult than getting one's hands on a heap of yellowcake.

Sebastian,
In some ways, who invited whom isn't really relevant; the EU-3 and the US couldn't negotiate a common platform from which to address Iran. In 2003-4, our transatlantic relations weren't quite as cordially good faith as they might have been. And, after the "axis of evil" speech, it's quite possible that the Iranians told the Europeans that they were unwilling to talk to America until it had some security guarantees that America was unwilling at that point to offer. (Bush's policy, at least according to Hersh's sources, has been regime change in Iran: a diplomatic hurdle, to put it mildly.)

"Bush's policy, at least according to Hersh's sources, has been regime change in Iran...."

You don't have to rely on Hersh for that; look at the recent announcements from the Administration, and the requests for funding from Congress as regards Iran, and what the money is supposed to go to.

UnObSnark: "In 2003-4, our transatlantic relations weren't quite as cordially good faith as they might have been."

Wait, was there a diplomatic problem between the U.S. and Old Europe then? I hadn't heard. (Okay, I had; I follow the sayings and wit and wisdom of Chai--, er, Secretary Rumsfeld.)

/UnObSnark (Directed at the Administration, not at Jackmormon.)

Iran isn't Japan, and isn't 5 years away from a nuke because they simply can't afford that many centrifuges without breaking the economy. Which means the politics. If the centrifuges were available. At last ten years away.

And of course, if it got really heavy, one or two nukes is not a deterrent. Iran would need a half-dozen, distributed, with delivery mechanisms. So 10-15 years. Now it is true that once Iran gets one nuke it will be expensive to attack them, but not impossible.

Here is a key graph from Newberry today:

"This crisis is not one that can be solved by bombing, and its roots are economic as much as political. The developed core has reached a point where it cannot afford itself - it cannot both maintain a military deterent, and maintain strategic advantages in access to energy and other resources, and provide enough social insurance to persuade its citizenry to accept the risks of participation in the mechanized-electrified version of industrial capitalism. The recent riots and demonstrations in France, the failed election in Italy, the US invasion of Iraq, and the paralysis on Iran are all reflections of this underlying reality – to afford one of the components of Western advantage, requires breaking the others. Either it can be militarily ahead, which will cost its economic and social advantages, or it can provide social protection, which degrades the economic and military options, or it can push the economic engine, which hobbles its military and social options. One can look at France, the United States and Japan as the three points on this triangle." Link

I think the larger point is can we stop Iran and other rim world countries (Venezuela?) from getting nukes and military parity? Can we (USA, the West?) maintain some kind, any kind, of hegemony, economic, military, social, cultural? Bush/Cheney are trying their best to nip it on the bud, but they are likely to fail.

So are we going to get Friedman's "Flat World"? Yes we are. And liberals and neo-liberals may believe that world will be one of Big Macs and Baywatch, but if Iran and friends have an equal voice with the US I wouldn't guarantee it. It isn't as if even the US is comfortably mono-cultural.

I would strongly argue that using nukes on Japan at the end of WWII was not unprovoked, especially in light of how the US entered the war.

That may be why I did not say "unprovoked". Though there is lots of debate about wether the use of nukes was permissable in the circumstances. I have not studied the subject extensively and from what I have read I lean towards thinking the first one was but the second one probabely was not. I do know that I don't want those weapons used - I grew up in the cold war, in the region where a nucleair war would most likely be fought in (at? on?).

If you believe the fatwa definitively closes the issue, just say so (so I can see the location of our disagreement)--but for the record I'm skeptical.

No, but that's not what I said. I said you should discuss this from the political angle, not the theological one you seemed to go for.

I'm skeptical about lots of things, including the roles of the various players in Iran's leadership. If Israel seems to be not that worried, I think we should not assume imminent threats to that country.
Also, in spite of my strong dislike for religious fundamentalists, Iran does not strike me as the nuttiest country in the region.

I keep forgetting where I read something; the Hersh article was fresh in my memory.

As for Israel's position, I should have qualified that one more carefully since Israeli politicians and diplomats have tended to be very careful in public--and they have repeatedly promised they wouldn't use nuclear weapons in a first strike. There is, however, this story about rumblings within Israel about Osiriak part-II.

And Connie Bruck's New Yorker article on "The Exiles" suggested that Israeli intelligence has cultivated connections with Iranian exiles, dissidents, separatists, and even terrorists--the MEK angle there was, but shouldn't really have been, a surprise to me.

I'm touching (if not beyond) the limits of my ignorance here, so take the above simply as an explanation of my earlier statement.

Of course Israel would stop being even perceptible as a threat to Iran and its interests if Iranian officials stopped issuing alarming statements about Israel. We're not there, though, alas.

I wouldn't say that they don't have a delivery mechanism; Iran has missiles that can reach Israel now. What it may not have are accurate guidance systems with any testing pedigree, a final trajectory-insertion motor with associated algorithms, boost-guidance algorithms, separation hardware, etc, and last (but certainly not least) a weaponized nuclear warhead with a reliable fuzing (and arming) methodology.

All of this can be done in parallel, certainly. Testing at subsystem level can also be done in parallel. System-level testing, though, is where you've got to have a lot of these components grafted together, and there's absolutely no way Iran can hide a systems-level test.

Which is not to say that I regard them as a near-term threat, but I do think it's important that steps are taken to keep them in the not-a-near-term-threat basket. Certainly they're not going to be in a position to threaten the US with nuclear weapons (delivered via missile) anytime soon, but I can't imagine anyone even attempting to justify regarding Iran as being a threat in that way.

Hey, since you're reading this thread, Jackmormon, what's up with HoCB? I can connect, but all I get is a blank page.

"And of course, if it got really heavy, one or two nukes is not a deterrent. Iran would need a half-dozen, distributed, with delivery mechanisms. So 10-15 years."

Ah, but it is you who think they want them as a deterrent. I'm not at all so sure. Two or three nukes is plenty if you just want to destroy Israel.

It wasn't working earlier, but I think it's back up now. Blogger sucks and is ruining the site, though. We're looking into alternatives--still.

/me seconds Josh's question...

between josh's question and my post.... hocb seemed to be restored. As JM posted.

I sometimes feel that blogger has wormholes in which it keeps certain comments. I had really just refresed...

"In some ways, who invited whom isn't really relevant; the EU-3 and the US couldn't negotiate a common platform from which to address Iran."

The EU-3 didn't want the US because the real purpose of the negotiations was to illustrate the power of chit-chat diplomacy. Which it has.

The non-inclusion of the US was intentional and important to that goal. Including the US in the discussions was impossible because it would have defeated the important diplomatic point which was to be made. Blaming the US for that is not going to fly.

Two or three nukes is plenty if you just want to destroy Israel.

Wow.

Well I guess if you're convinced that the official doctrine of the Iranian government is to Nuke Israel At Any Cost Whatsoever then there's not much to argue about. At least not any more than there's anything to argue about with Iranians who are convinced that the official doctrine of the US is to Wipe Out Islam At Any Cost Whatsoever.

I also guess that it should be a relief to see both Sebastian and Slarti acknowledging that Iran currently poses no particular threat to the US, and that if we do start bombing it'll be on behalf of Israel, but if you don't mind I think I'll just go to bed and pull the covers over my head anyway...

It looks as though we're going to have to disagree about that, Sebastian.

My position is that everyone is to blame. It would have been useful if the US and the EU-3 had been able to hammer out something like Ken Pollack's three-track diplomatic push, with both carrots and sticks on the table. Europe was very nervous about the US's reliance on sticks (after the "axis of evil" speech and the Iraq negotiations embroglio), and the US had contempt for, as you put it, "chitchat"--and particularly with a "regime" it regards as illegitimate. And Iran was determined to be affronted, intransigent, and confusing to outsiders.

So, basically, everyone kicked the can down the road, allowing the rhetoric to escalate as nobody compromised on the fundamental disagreements. That's how I see it, and it's become pretty clear that you see it otherwise.

The EU-3 didn't want the US because the real purpose of the negotiations was to illustrate the power of chit-chat diplomacy. Which it has.

NEWSFLASH: the goal actually is to reach an acceptable outcome with the lowest cost and as few victims as can be. Many people care about the end more than the means.

"NEWSFLASH: the goal actually is to reach an acceptable outcome with the lowest cost and as few victims as can be. Many people care about the end more than the means."

Many people? Sure.

The people in question at the time? I'm not so sure. See my analogy with Rumsfeld at 2:35. I think that the goal was to reach an acceptable outcome by a very specific path which was intended to be demonstrative. It was demonstrative, but not in the way that was intended.

"There is, however, this story about rumblings within Israel about Osiriak part-II."

This is an interesting cite. It starts off with an inflamnatory statement which, so far as I can see, is utterly unsupported by anything in the article.

"Israel is threatening to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities" is the start. Where's the support for that assertion in the article?

Then it goes to outright falsehood: "What role could have been played by a spy allegedly brought into the Pentagon (the FBI suspects he was placed there by the Israelis)?"

Perhaps this is not a falsehood; perhaps it is a fact of which I am unaware. Cite? Until I see one, since I've followed the Larry Franklin case a fair amount, though not obsessively, I'll regard this as a falsehood. Which further discredits the piece, in my eyes.

The article claims "In recent months, Tel Aviv's accusations against Tehran have become increasingly pointed and warlike."

You say "...Israel seems to be not that worried...."

I'm getting rather confused about what storyline is being presented here.

The article is further full of claims that are more than dubious, such as:

With Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, his undersecretary Douglas Feith, and political advisor Richard Perle, all of the Jewish faith, Tel Aviv's right wing presumably already has influential supporters in Washington. In a comment on US foreign policy, the Financial Times, which normally leans toward Bush, recently wrote that "The Israeli tail wags the American dog."
Always good to play "let's find the Jew" and imply -- no, state outright -- that the Jews Actually Are Secretly In Control.

This seems a highly problematic cite; do you have specific statements in the article that you wish to quote in support of your statement that "Israel's threatening posture towards Iran is also a problem"? And in the context of the other claims and assertions in the article, one should regard it as a credible and unbiased source, why?

"I'm touching (if not beyond) the limits of my ignorance here, so take the above simply as an explanation of my earlier statement."

Fair enough; if you wish to actually withdraw your assertion, I trust you'll say so. Meanwhile, I continue to question it, I'm afraid. Politely, I hope.

"Blogger sucks and is ruining the site, though. We're looking into alternatives--still."

If you find a posting system that doesn't go down and have problems at times, the entire blogging world would like to know, I think.

"Well I guess if you're convinced that the official doctrine of the Iranian government is to Nuke Israel At Any Cost Whatsoever then there's not much to argue about. At least not any more than there's anything to argue about with Iranians who are convinced that the official doctrine of the US is to Wipe Out Islam At Any Cost Whatsoever."

Please see the Rafsanjani quote above. Have you been paying attention to Ahmadinejad? You can argue that of course they must be joking, but you cannot in good faith argue that the evidence available from leaders in the respective regimes is equal when comparing Iran with respect to Israel to the US with respect to Islam.

"Ah, but it is you who think they want them as a deterrent."

Actually, I have been arguing with the liberals at Ezra's in that I have no confidence in MAD when it comes to Iran.

But if Iran is smart and wicked, and becomes impervious to military attack, exporting and supporting terrorism is probably a cheaper safer way to destroy Israel. Or other "soft" and assymetrical weapons. I don't think they need to nuke Tel Aviv if they are patient.

One lesson of 9/11 and the Bush response was that you can sponsor terrorism without reprisals, if you have a deterrent. Pakistan and SA are more responsible for 9/11 than the Taliban.

Gary,

It was Dutch, here, who said that Israel seemed to be not all that worried.

I'm sorry that the Spiegel article was full of red flags. I was using it as the most reliable source on a very quick google search for that closed-door presentation that Meir Dagan reputedly made to the Israeli parliament a few months ago. I vaguely remembered that my first non-blog hit, The Guardian, had a dubious reputation on Israel issues.

If you like, though, I'll hereby formally withdraw my assertion that there are stories about rumblings within Israel about Osirak part-II.

I think that the goal was to reach and acceptable outcome by a very specific path which was intended to be demonstrative. It was demonstrative, but not in the way that was intended.

I don't think this was intended as a showcase. That would be very hard with a definite lack of carrots and a grumbling bully in the background.

Iran say you invade Iraq, say you tiptoe around North-Korea and recently say you endorse India's nucleair development. I can understand why it feels it needs better safeguards, and I still think they are not the nuttiest country in the region. No matter what rhetoric there (not overly powerfull) president feels he should spout to forward his own political image.

"No matter what rhetoric there (not overly powerfull) president feels he should spout to forward his own political image."

Not just the current president. The quote I provided was from Rafsanjani.

I was in the first instance thinking of this post when I made the comment about Israel not being too worried.

Rasanjani's quote was from 2001, and dealt more with the change in powerstatus than with actual usage of nukes imho. But even if you disagree: his rhetoric did not lead to anything concrete, did it?

past midnight here.... so further answers might be delayed for a few hours...

Arkin today seems extremely relevant to this discussion. (Naturally, read back the previous entries this week.)

"If you like, though, I'll hereby formally withdraw my assertion that there are stories about rumblings within Israel about Osirak part-II."

Hokay. The idea of Israeli strikes is simply incredibly unlikely, because as everyone agrees, the U.S. couldn't really do an effective job, let alone Israel. Israel simply doesn't have a capability, myths aside, to take out the Iranian nuclear program, absent pre-emptive nuclear strikes, which ain't gonna happen.

Israel could make some strikes on individual Iranian sites with their F-16s with long-range tanks, if they're willing to fly over Iraq (needing U.S. permission), and can possibly give them some hits with conventional cruise missiles.

What the point of that would be is beyond me. Pissing off the Iranians and starting a war? Doesn't seem very likely.

What bothered me about your initital statement is that it posited what seems to me to be a false equivalence. If one person says "I will wipe you out!" and the other says "Oh, yeah, well, if you try, you'll regret it!," then I don't regard them as being equally "threatening" at each other, myself, all other things being the same.

If Israel were saying, in some capacity "we must wipe out Iran!," with no provocation, that would be entirely different, and your statement would be accurate. But it isn't, so it wasn't, in my view.

The Spiegel piece bothered me for the obvious reasons that I mentioned; and it's not as if it's necessary to the job of criticizing Israel, or the Israeli-U.S. relationship, to engage in the sort of logic the article went for, in the passage I cited. That sort of thing was as gratuitious (and illogical) as it always is.

DM on Iran: "...and I still think they are not the nuttiest country in the region...."

Saudi Arabia? Another? Who do you think?

"Not just the current president. The quote I provided was from Rafsanjani."

Indeed, and such rhetoric has been standard at Iranian rallies since the Revolution. But how much the rhetoric bears on actual plans, intent, and policy, is quite unclear. I keep repeating that point because it's kinda important.

We don't know how dangerous Iran is. We don't know how non-dangerous Iran is. We don't know who will be in power in five years, or ten, or twenty. We don't know for sure if we have time, or not. We don't know many crucial things.

We do have good reason to think that time is on our side, in terms of looking at where they may be in ten years, absent war in the meantime, and the demographic and political trends.

But we don't know for sure if we have that time, and we don't know what events in the meantime may change present dynamics.

We. Don't. Know.

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