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February 12, 2007

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I understand why you are saying this, and tend to agree that something like this needs doing.

But its getting awfully close to the "loyalty" pledges republicans were pushing for on the troop surge support earlier.

Between Putin, Bush/Cheney, and the idiot in Tehran, all of whom seem to be on destructive courses against the express advisement of their people and governments, I think historians will note a pattern of rogue leadership as the chief, dangerous result of the end of the Cold War.

The problem here is that AIPAC is pushing for us to bomb Iran so Israel doesn't have to do it. And, everybody is deathly afraid of getting on AIPAC's wrong side. The corpses of politicians who did are strewn across the pages of recent history. Even the threat of a primary opponent won't offset that.

I think Armando had it right. If you want to avoid war with Iran, end the war in Iraq. The last thing I want to do is find myself parceling out retribution after the fact.

I'm wondering: if the frequent discussion of the possibility of war with Iran in the media is right-wing flames-fanning, what is it here? Can we never talk about where things might go without presenting the appearance of fomenting action?

ISTR that bob mcmanus (among others) hit the war-with-Iran point early and often, for instance. Clearly, they're administration plants.

Kellandros, I didn't really have a problem with the pledge. It was politically stupid, but I'm fine with Republicans doing politically stupid things. Are you saying you think opposing the Iran war is going to be as unpopular as supporting sending more troops to Iraq is now?

I, personally, am willing to get on AIPAC's bad side by refusing to want to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

But are you willing to bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?

It's not the media's discussion of the possibility of a war that the problem, Slarti. The problem is the media's willingness to trumpet the "threat" from Iran, even taking things further than anything the administration actually says. There's a difference between talking about the administration's move to war and cheerleading for it.

What's bothering me more is what a think-tanker (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) uttered recently: That the US can't legally nuke Iran but Israel can and that the US would than have to join its ally (the context made it clear that this was the desired way).
I personally fear that any threat regarding the primaries will be useless because the digestive end products will come in contact with the rotating blade device long before that. When ('if' is probably already out) this happens, the primaries will be he least concern of anyone in Congress.
Nonetheless I support the notion that the representatives should get a clear signal about what their constituents think and want regarding the ME.

And this conversation...isn't this "taking things further", even if in a different way?

As for assessing whether the weapons in question are in fact Iranian in origin, I agree that an independent look is probably warranted, but the fact that the information in question hasn't been released via the news media isn't all that significant.

Unless some blogger, somewhere has got both the expertise to determine whether the evidence is sufficient and isn't constrained by an NDA.

I guess it's possible, anyway.

But this gets away from the topic. That we're finding Iranian weapons in Iraq isn't even in the same county as cause for war. What's more alarming than discussion in the newspapers of the various things coming to light is the mistaking of said discussions as a laying-down of rationale for waging war on Iran. It's a fantasy.

And as a preventative measure, it needs to be treated as a fantasy: Are you kidding me? You found some Iranian mortar shells in Iraq, and you want to bomb Iran because of it?

Here's what I think: if we find Iranian agents in Iraq conducting sundry actions against our troops or against Iraqi troops, we capture them if possible, kill them otherwise, and document the evidence in the press. If we find them crossing the border, we stop them there, by hook or by crook. If their military starts engaging at the border, then that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish, but it's one we don't even have to consider unless it actually happens.

Which, I think I've said, I don't think it will, unless Iranian troops have some sort of deathwish.

Slarti - so what is the purpose of what seems to me to be a big push to show the Iranians meddling in Iran (down to, essentially, blaming them for the deaths of 170 U.S. troops), if not for later campaign against Iran? For example, I don't think anyone would have questioned the administration* doing the things you mention (e.g., interdicting at the border, etc.) in the absence of this presentation.

*any more than usual, that is.

I agree that there needs to be a challenge to the Dem leadership but my challenge is a little different. I think that they should be challenged to articulate clear rejection of the military option and state why. So far both Edwards and Clinton have done what i think isthe wrong thing (Idon't know what Obama has said on this). They have stated that all options, including the military one, should be on the table, and then they followed with a discusin of why the military optin was not the right choice right now. The problem with that kind of position is that it endorses the millitary option as a theoritically reasonable choice--which it isn't-and it blurs the distinction between Dems and Republicans, with the Demos in the watered-down "me,too" position. It also feeds right into the Deomcrats are weak narrative because it is clear that the military option is on their table because they are afraid to take it off.
As I said, I don't know what Obama has said about this and when he does say something it might be as wishy-washy and ineffective as the statements from Clinton and Edwards. I think we need to be pressuring all Democrats to take a stand of clear rejectin of bombing--that's the right positin as well as the politically smart one.

I'm with you on this, publius. I was willing to support Edwards over his health care proposal, but his AIPAC-courting Iran stance pissed me off.

I don't think we need to go as far as declaring a loyalty oath, but what we do need to do as participants in the movement to bring Democrats back to progressive principles and combat the Bush administration's march to war is to remind the Democratic politicians that our support is provisional and that their decisions now about the war in Iraq and looming war on Iran are definitely going to influence our decisions on who we support when the next elections roll around.

How many carriers does McManus have in his fleet?

Slarti - so what is the purpose of what seems to me to be a big push to show the Iranians meddling in Iran (down to, essentially, blaming them for the deaths of 170 U.S. troops), if not for later campaign against Iran?

What would be the purpose of mentioning, for instance, the use of Chinese Silkworm missiles against Israeli warships, if not for a later campaign against China?

Other than that it's news, I mean?

For example, I don't think anyone would have questioned the administration* doing the things you mention (e.g., interdicting at the border, etc.) in the absence of this presentation.

See the news factor, mentioned above. Also, the border-guard scenario is the most clear action that could be taken without publicizing this stuff. Can you imagine any actions that might make less sense, without the articles in question, besides an outright bombing campaign?

How many carriers does McManus have in his fleet?

How many carriers does the New York Times have?

Slarti, when you say "mistaking of said discussions as a laying-down of rationale for waging war", are you objecting to an argument that seems to leave open the possibility that Iranian "meddling" would be a legitimate reason for war if it were true, or are you saying it's unreasonable to view the administration's statements as an attempt to set up a reason for war? Is the "fantasy" you're talking about in the minds of deranged Bush haters, or the deranged Bush administration?

It's time for something more than just a challenge. We need to get Congress to amend the AUMF, adding provisions that will limit our activities in the Middle East to 1) defending current allies if they are attacked 2) peacekeeping in Iraq and 3)peacekeeping in Afghanistan. Further, it should require that U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq when requested to by the Iraqi government, and Afghanistan when requested to by the Afghani government. The new AUMF should expressly prohibit military intervention in Iran.

are you objecting to an argument that seems to leave open the possibility that Iranian "meddling" would be a legitimate reason for war if it were true

Yes, this. If Iran were caught smuggling a nuclear weapon into Iraq, for instance, then we might have some elevated attention to their involvement, but meddling?

Is the "fantasy" you're talking about in the minds of deranged Bush haters, or the deranged Bush administration?

Um, it's not in anyone's mind, as far as I'm concerned, since no (ok, no one serious) one's seriously advanced the notion that some mortar shells and assorted other ordnance constitutes cause for war.

Not that I've seen, anyway. If they have, that's where the fantasy lies.

TPM has the power point document.

In theory it would be Iran that has a casus belli against the US. The US support groups like the Mujaheddin el Khalq (even openly) that commit acts of terrorism in Iran, US agents/special units are quite probably acting inside Iran etc.
Any Iranian meddling in Iraq on the other hand would (again in theory) be the problem of the "sovereign Iraq" and not of the US.
=> the side that could actually legally justify a war would commit suicide should it dare to act in its right while the side that is itching for war has no legal foothold.
Nothing new here.
But we will hear soon again that Belgium invaded Germany in 1914 and Poland did the same in 1939 :-((
Otherwise: Yes to making it clear to all representatives that in case of war it will be either Bush&Cheney's heads or theirs.

Slarti - considering it's Bizarro World I suppose your "no one serious" disclaimer applies, but War!

Interesting.

I don't think that's anything resembling cause for war, though. We have surveillance assets, and we know where the goods are coming in. It seems that we ought to be able to choke the flow off.

Interesting, though, that the presentation seems to conflate mortar rounds with EFPs. I'd have made it clear that Iran is, through one means or another, the source of munitions that are being used against Iraqi and Coalition troops. EFPs being just one sort of munition.

As I said, no one serious.

I only got this far before I had to stop:

The impact punches a hole in an armored vehicle, not destroying it, the slug searching out the vehicle’s occupants.

Shades of the JFK assassination!

You might remind Democrats of the unmitigated disaster an attack on Iran would be. $5/gal gasoline (if we're lucky), assured loss of Iraq, etc., etc. Forget the primaries, the way Iran is likely to go down, the main worry of supporters will be tar and feathering.

Well, at least we can agree on the first part, Slarti.

I think the stuff about Iranian meddling in Iraq isn't so much about setting up a reason for war as about being able to paint an attack on Iran as just a natural extension of the Iraq war, not requiring further congressional authorization. For the reason, the nuclear threat probably works better, though as we've seen in Iraq they can have a menu of reasons that they rotate in and out to fit whatever the current state of evidence and public opinion is.

If we have to wait until Bush announce he's planning an attack on Iran before we can comment on it, the bombs will already be falling.

Publius --

Strongly disagree with this post, and have put up a frontpager expressing that disagreement. Feel free to reply with another frontpager (of course). I think this issue is important enought such that the debate should not be solely in the comments.

von

If we have to wait until Bush announce he's planning an attack on Iran before we can comment on it, the bombs will already be falling.

Nope, not saying that at all.

I'm still trying to figure out a way to break it to that fellow over at Redstate that there's no such thing as a guided jet of molten copper.

And now, I've got to excuse myself from this conversation. I may rejoin tonight, after I've had a chance to read the intervening couple of hundred comments.

I'm still trying to figure out a way to break it to that fellow over at Redstate that there's no such thing as a guided jet of molten copper.

Heh.

Surely the molten copper is guided by the hand of God?

Better yet, even the top levels of the US military is not sold on Iranian governmental involvement.

This may be making the run-up to the Iraq War look clean by comparison.

KCinDC:

Von's post tends to answer your question for me rather well. It might be a useful way to try to kick politicians into action. I think there is more wrong with litmus tests/loyalty pledges than support for a unpopular idea. So to me borrowing a bad tactic someone else uses for your own purposes does not seem like a good plan.

I currently can't name a good method to try to force the current administration to set aside any intent to bomb/invade Iran, and I realize its quite easy to shoot down the ideas of others. The best I could come up with is finding a respected statesman to go over independently, set up a deal with Iran, and present it to the American public as a fait accompli. Each step would still require a miracle to pull off.

I'm not really interested in oaths. I just want declarations and actions. Any language that conveys the clear meaning "I oppose war on Iran and will do what lies within the power of my office to keep it from happening" will do. And I agree completely with everyone saying that we need these declarations and actions now.

I've read Von's post, but I still don't understand how he or you draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate political pressure, or why foreign policy is the only policy area where the public should be held incompetent to have strong opinions.

Addendum after reading Von's post: If someone wants to add a footnote saying anything like "I would make an exception for a cause of war fully in accord with international law as of 2000, with approval from the UN Security Council and with the Red Cross given complete access to ensure compliance with the Geneva Conventions" or something of the sort reaffirming the idea of war conducted as established by treaty, I'd be okay with that. What's most important to me is to rule out any sort of unilateral action and any action that doesn't live up to the laws we were still more or less in compliance with back in 2000. (Though sliding back to the pre-Kosovo status quo wouldn't be a bad idea either.)

I'd tend to agree with Gen. Pace: it's probably Iranian, if the analysts are right, but there's no way of telling whether it's Iranian government at work, or a bunch of enterprising guys who are working in the pay of a third party.

That aside, I think they've identified Qods personnel inside of Iraq, so, possibly: rogue military.

Which could be even more scary, if you're inclined to be scared.

Slartibartfast: Interesting.

I don't think that's anything resembling cause for war, though. We have surveillance assets, and we know where the goods are coming in. It seems that we ought to be able to choke the flow off.

This is more or less how a lot of us felt about Iraq's weapons programs. If we had good enough intel to know where they were, and if we had a U.N. mandate to seek out and destroy those weapons through a rigorous inspections regime, then why pull out the weapons inspectors? And if the intel wasn't good enough for the inspectors to follow up on, then how could that same intel provide casus belli? And yet, four years later, here we are.

Does that shed any light on why Bush's recent emphasis on Iran is raising red flags?

No, I get that part, Gromit. I just don't agree with the the conclusion that this is all about a buildup to war with Iran, or the subsequent recommendations that treat the conclusion as if it were true.

Slartibartfast: No, I get that part, Gromit. I just don't agree with the the conclusion that this is all about a buildup to war with Iran, or the subsequent recommendations that treat the conclusion as if it were true.

The price of being right but ignoring the warning signs far outweighs the price of being wrong. I mean, if the Democrats block Bush from going to war with Iran, and it turns out he was never really at risk of doing so, how can that possibly be worse than if the Democrats give him the benefit of the doubt and he does attack Iran? It's kind of like Cheney's 1% Doctrine, only not bats#!t crazy.

Presumably this
(via Think Progress) is also nothing to worry about, Slarti:

Some senior administration officials still relish the notion of a direct confrontation. One ambassador in Washington said he was taken aback when John Hannah, Vice President Cheney's national security adviser, said during a recent meeting that the administration considers 2007 "the year of Iran" and indicated that a U.S. attack was a real possibility. Hannah declined to be interviewed for this article.
After all, it's only Cheney's national security adviser, and we know how little power Cheney has.

If there's a 1% chance that Bush is going to get us into a war with Iran, then I'm not arguing that we need to apply Cheney's doctrine and treat it as a certainty, but we'd damned well better be figuring out what if anything can be done to stop it. I think the chance is a good deal higher than that, whether he's planning for it or not.

Jinx!

Slarti: I just don't agree with the the conclusion that this is all about a buildup to war with Iran, or the subsequent recommendations that treat the conclusion as if it were true.

What Gromit said. Bush has already taken the US to war with one country on faked intel, lies about the threat the country presented, and false claims that war could be avoided or that he hadn't made his mind up yet, months after we know he had. It's possible that, just because similiar noises are being made about Iran that were being made about Iraq, that this means nothing - that just because Bush did it once doesn't mean he'd do it again.

But given how awful it would be if Bush is intending to take the US into war with Iran, I agree with Gromit, absolutely: better to stop him before he starts even if he wasn't planning to start.

The first thing I thought when I saw the story in the Times was "well, duh". Of course Iran is interfering in Iraq, as is every other neighboring state to some degree, and as I'm sure the Pentagon and State anticipated in 2002.

What's really telling is the fact that the administration is choosing to make hay out of the obvious (which has also obviously been happening since 2003), on page 1 of the NYTimes via their usual agitprop monkeys. It's hard to see any motivation for this except prepping the American public for military action. Washington has been stoking the fires of Shia-hate in the Arab countries a lot lately, but the Times is not the rag of choice in that part of the world.

They've never abandoned their lust to reshape the world, and the mentality of Dubya is such that disaster in Iraq only increases his desire to escalate things.

I'll keep watching this channel for 'provocative' Iranian actions: you can be sure US special forces are already in Iranian territory, and maybe US aircraft and boats will be straying further and further 'off course' in the near future.

Or if you're feeling really conspiratorial, you might note that not many of those newly-deplored surge troops seem to have shown up in Baghdad yet...

“Sunni insurgents and, to a far lesser extent, Mahdi "Army" rogues -- have the least ties to Iran. SCIRI, whose troops are not attacking US troops, are very likely receiving support from Iran”

Publius, the Sunni’s are getting their dough from the Saudi’s – but Sadr and his Mahdi vigilantes are supported financially, and armed (with increasingly sophisticated weapons) and trained by Tehran – you know, kinda like Iran trained and armed Hezbollah and Hamas. To me, that’s a, Militias-that-pray-together and fight-the-Infidel-together tie that binds.

Of course, it’s no big surprise Iran wants to screw the U.S. wherever and whenever it can. Not only the U.S. -- the Iranian imperative is to destabilized secular governments everywhere. If they can kill a couple of hundred Americans in Iraq in the process, that’s icing on the cake. And who can fault them being true to form -- like when they kidnapped and held our diplomats prisoners for 444 days, humiliating them, and us, in the process. But it was just Iran being Iran. Who are we to be judgmental.

So I guess you’re right – no more threats of war. We should just pat them on their pointy little Jihadist heads and ignore them. Let them build as many nukes as they want, nothing to worry about there; I’m sure they’ll only use them for peaceful purposes – like intimidating Bahrain to be less secular, or maybe puckishly slipping some radioactive plutonium into Hezbollah’s hands, when the urge strikes them. And if they want to arm Hezbollah with a small nuke or two to help destabilize Lebanon and turn it into an Iranian theocratic clone, it’s bad form on our part to interfere. And if they want to continue to prop up a hostile government in Palestine and vex Jews with deconstructed Holocaust theories while they try to ‘push them into the sea’ it’s boorish for us to interfere.

So no more threats; no more saber rattling. And no scolding either – we Liberals know it’s politically incorrect to the nth degree to chastise people for their god-given beliefs. If Iran wants to transform Iraq and Jordan and Bahrain and Palestine and Egypt into political theocracies based on Quaranic law, we should just let them do their thing.

Yup, I totally agree with your NWO (Non-War-Oath) approach. Any wobbly-kneed elected Democrats who support military action against Iran should either get a primary challenger in the next election, or have our support withdrawn if they’re running in the coming presidential election.

Unfortunately, that means we need to get a whole new slate of candidates to run. Either that, or have those now running get down on their knees, eat crow, and repudiate their previous public war-like utterances against Iran. That includes the front runners: Hillary-Bill, John, and Barak – all of whom have refused to take the military option ‘off the table.’

Of the three, Barak’s the one I worry about the most. Back in 2004 when he was running for the U.S. senate, he suggested that “surgical missile strikes” against Iran might be appropriate if they continued their nuclear ambitions. Although he was very “Bush-like” in his qualification (he said he would only use force as a last resort if Iran “didn’t cooperate”) as a newcomer, with a geeky personae and no national security credentials, he’d probably be the candidate most likely to overcompensate and drop a nuke or two if Iran didn’t shape up.

No doubt about it: we better start looking for alternative candidates now: where’s Dennis Kucinich when you need him?


"Washington has been stoking the fires of Shia-hate in the Arab countries a lot lately"

The fires of Shia-Sunni hate were burning before Columbus discovered America, byringman, and spontaneously combust on their own without 'infidel' interference; though I do hope you're right that they're somehow complicit because it would mean they're not as totally inept at manipulating forces and events in the Mideast as they have been in the past.

Von, if you need a real lesson in strawman manufacture and goalpost moving, you know who to call.

I think another generation is getting to confront what those of us who lived through the Vietnam war had to live through: the Democrats turned out to be worthless at stopping a failed war. In fact, in that case, they started the failed war, but couldn't end it either.

This is very bad news, because if it becomes clear and common experience, we'll have another generation in which the best and the brightest of progressives, having had to fight for their lives against the Democrats, will allow the party to be run by second-raters. And we see in front of us where that gets the country.

So yes, primary them quick if they don't snap too, because otherwise we're screwed for a very long time.

Think Progress) is also nothing to worry about

I don't think Think Progress is much to worry about, either.

It's possible that, just because similiar noises are being made about Iran that were being made about Iraq

Really? Iran is in breach of a ceasefire agreement? Iran is not cooperating with UN weapons inspectors?

Seems to me that the only thing we have on Iran is a few mortar shells and some explosives. We now have more concrete on Iran than we ever had on Iraq, but what we have is pretty much everything but cause for war.

But given how awful it would be if Bush is intending to take the US into war with Iran, I agree with Gromit, absolutely: better to stop him before he starts even if he wasn't planning to start.

What are you going to do now versus, say, a couple of months down the road?

Yes, Slarti, when Think Progress mentions a Washington Post report, it retroactively invalidates the Post article. Probably the quote was fabricated to make Cheney look bad.

We now have more concrete on Iran than we ever had on Iraq, but what we have is pretty much everything but cause for war.
And yet somehow we managed to go to war with Iraq. For some reason, the argument that Bush and company aren't irrational enough to go to war without a good reason works a lot better for you, even now, than for most of the rest of us.
Yes, Slarti, when Think Progress mentions a Washington Post report, it retroactively invalidates the Post article.

Whoops, does it invalidate the entire article? Like the beginning part, where Gates says war with Iran is not in the plans?

Dang, shot myself in the foot again.

Seriously, there's lots of things that I find eminently disregardable about Think Progress, and quoting just what they find tasty is one of them.

Waxing all serious about a tenth-paragraph non-attributed near-parenthetical is another.

For some reason, the argument that Bush and company aren't irrational enough to go to war without a good reason works a lot better for you, even now, than for most of the rest of us.

Whoops. Where'd I say that?

Hey, if Bush is irrational, why do you think he's predictably irrational?

Hey, if Bush is irrational, why do you think he's predictably irrational?

Because people have managed to predict him?

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