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February 23, 2007

Comments

Just throwing this out there, although I tend to agree with you.

But to me there is a big difference between keeping military options on the table and saber-rattling.

And yes, although the words are that we have no intention to start a war with Iran, the over all rhetoric of this administration is not too comforting.

In this case, action speaks louder than words, and there have been some tentaive gestures by Iran both recently and in the past, which any normal, intelligent administration would react positively to, but which this administration has tended to either ignore or dismiss with a great deal of arrogance.

It is not really a question of taking the military option off the table, but by showing with actions that we really really really don't want to go that route. This administration has done nothing in that regard.

"counterproductive to our interests", Publius? That might serve as a succinct summation of the Bush Administration's entire foreign-policy program since they took office! Do you truly think that anyone in power in this regime, from President Cheney on down, gives a good g*dda*m what any other country in the world, any international body, or any critic whatsoever thinks about their FP agenda?

If any more evidence is needed: check out this piece on the (indispensible) American Footprints blog: a story which, if true (a BIG "if", btw!), meant that the Bush Adminstration deliberately scuttled whay may have been (a BIG "may") one of the most significant ME peace initiatives in decades: all for, fundamentally, reasons of ideological PR.

2009 can't arrive soon enough - I just hope we will all be around to see it in!

This is a good post (and day) for me to put up my annual plea:

Dear Cheney Administration:

Please hold off on your insane plan to attack Iran and accelerate the end of the American Republic until after my wife and I get back from Morocco Tanzania in two weeks.

Very Truly Yours,

Ugh

But to me there is a big difference between keeping military options on the table and saber-rattling.

This is the logical flaw in the argument. Keeping an option on the table and saber-rattling are two very different things. Publius wants to prevent the latter, which he views as counterproductive. To do it, however, he wants to take the military option off the table entirely. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater (or choose your own tired saying).

I agree that the saber rattling should stop, given that it's been counterproductive (i.e., no agreement, no sanctions, and Iran is accelerating its production). I strongly disagree that military force should be taken off the table entirely.

john miller: I agree that there's a big difference between saber-rattling and quietly leaving options on the table. I also agree with von (if I'm getting his view right) that generally, leaving things on the table has advantages in negotiations -- the advantages that come with being able credibly to threaten things.

That said, I think that the present situation is one in which, because of our saber-rattling, people think not only that military options are in the normal sense "on the table", but that we might actually be planning to exercise them. And that creates a situation in which the normal advantages of keeping options on the table do not necessarily hold.

If we have created a situation in which people's idea that we might be about to use military force is a serious impediment to various things that we want, then it might be that the only way to convince them that we are not about to use military force is to say so explicitly. We would probably want to say: we won't use it unless something happens (we are attacked, for instance); but if we have also created a situation in which they suspect us of looking for any pretext to attack, then we will have to choose between (a) adopting a more restrictive statement than we'd normally like about when we'd use military force, and (b) having our assurances lack credibility.

(I mean: if, now, we said: we will not attack Iran unless we find them intervening in Iraq to an intolerable extent, I suspect people would assume that what we meant by 'intolerable' was: whatever we choose to regard as intolerable, given that we're looking for a fight. To alleviate these concerns, we'd have to be a lot more explicit than we'd normally like to about what we meant, since we have forfeited the right to ask other people to just trust our judgment and good faith.)

Which is all to say: our own conduct can create a situation in which the normal rules about leaving things off the table cease to apply, and no one trusts our intentions; and this narrows our options considerably, in such a way as to exclude a lot of good ones.

again, though, i think atrios and dr. biobrain made a key point -- military force is always on the table implicitly even with respect to the UK. the question is whether you say it. in other words, when you say "military force is off the table," you're not saying "we won't respond to pearl harbor." you're just making it clear that we're not being the aggressors.

the mere fact that we say "it's on the table" is no different than parking an aircraft carrier off the coast. it is a hostile line and we should, IMHO, stop saying it and start saying hte opposite.

This may be the week I lose my liberal credentials. First I agreed with CB on something, then OCSteve, and now von agrees with me.

I need to see my shrink.

I doubt that Russia and China are too uncomfortable with the situation. We rattle the saber; Iran buys more weapons from Russia and China.

Also: what von said.

hilzoy and publius, in general I agree with what you are saying, which is why I talk about actions speaking louder than words, etc. It is just that I wanted to make clear that it is not so much having military options on the table that is the problem, it is that they keep beign mentioned (if only by not saying they are off the table) an this administration is taking no actions to indicate that the military option is why back there.

So the problem, and what should be focused on, is not whether or not military options are on the table (as publius mentions they are always implicitly there), but whether or not actions are being taking to show that the military options is something we really really do not want to employ.

Besides, as has been pointed out before, if this adminsitration asid that military options were off the table, it woudln't make any difference anyway. And forget about Congress. Even if they passed something to prohibit any military action against Iran, Bush doesn't care. He already said, prior to the Iraq resolution, that he didn't need the go ahead, just that it was a way of showing Iraq that the whole country was behind him.

I need to see my shrink

Your name came out of the hat Monday when the VRWC met to decide who we would torment this week.

military force is always on the table implicitly even with respect to the UK

this is so utterly and obviously true, that i simply cannot understand why people keep insisting "taking it off the table" means "swear to god, hope to die, no-crossies, no takebacks, we will never use force!!!! NEVER, under any circumstances, and you can kill my dog and feed it to my grandmother if we do!!!"

it's like they're arguing simply for the sake of arguing.

Rather than simply saying that force is off the table, the U.S. would be wiser to pull some of its carriers out of the region. With so much firepower in the region, any discussion of force seems a bit too immediate. Further, the presence of those forces may create a 'use it or lose it' mentality among some when the time does come for some of the groups to rotate back to the United States. Better to take that temptation out of the game. It's not like the U.S. can't put forces back in the AO if it is decided to be necessary.

OT: Vilsack's out. SS is safe again.

I doubt that Russia and China are too uncomfortable with the situation. We rattle the saber; Iran buys more weapons from Russia and China.
Wait. That's a good thing? Saber-rattling causes Iranian weapons buildup? I thought we wanted to prevent that.

That's a good thing?

Well, it is if you happen to be a Russian or Chinese arms manufacturer…

I think OCSteve's point is that China and Russia don't mind.

Pardon the overlap.

I apologize, I thought that the comment implied that the issue was somehow less serious because Chinese and Russian arms interests might benefit from the developments.

It seemed that it only reinforced the fact that we want to tone things down.

john miller: I agree that there's a big difference between saber-rattling and quietly leaving options on the table. I also agree with von (if I'm getting his view right) that generally, leaving things on the table has advantages in negotiations -- the advantages that come with being able credibly to threaten things.

That's basically my view, but to expand on it a little: Pretty much everyone concedes that they can envision circumstances in which a military strike against Iran would make sense. Indeed, Kevin Drum wrote a post a few days ago in which he blasted folks like me for setting up a strawman in assuming that taking the military option off the table extended to all circumstances, rather than the relatively narrow circumstance of Iran's nuclear ambitions. (If I understand Drum's position, it's close to "We won't attack you solely based on your desire to become a nuclear power".)

The problem I have is that expressly removing an option from the table sends a signal, which may encourage the other side to take an action that it other would not have taken. The most accessible example of this is Texas Hold 'em, where you try to read your opponent by their bets and demeanor. A check communicates weakness, and may lead another player to make a play that s/he wouldn't otherwise consider to try to steal the pot. (The slow play, an option for a strong hand in poker, is not so relevant to int'l relations for obvious reasons.)

So, it's not only a matter of flexibility in negotiations. It's also to avoid sending a signal to the Iranians that may led them to misread our seriousness or intentions -- and take action that would make the negotiations more, rather than less, dangerous.

That said, I think that the present situation is one in which, because of our saber-rattling, people think not only that military options are in the normal sense "on the table", but that we might actually be planning to exercise them. And that creates a situation in which the normal advantages of keeping options on the table do not necessarily hold.

I actually think that we've done a very good job of backing off from the saber rattling, particularly given the public statements of the Democratic opposition. If Bush continues his walk back, I think we'll get back to your (and my) comfort zone on Iran without taking a precipitous action that may have unintended (and very negative) consequences.

Dammit publius, now that stupid song is stuck in my head. I have to turn on the radio to try to chase it out.

Agree with OCSteve. This is really over the line p-diddy.

I actually think that we've done a very good job of backing off from the saber rattling,

http://arablinks.blogspot.com/2007/02/us-planning-new-regional-expansion-of.html>Really? I'm not seeing anything different from 'I don't have any plans to invade Iraq on my desk.'

Von,

I think you have a point, it's just that so does hilzoy. Which is, really, a testament to the Bush administration's wide ranging incompetence.

They have created a situation whereby even trying to maintain useful negotiating leverage, and the appearance of strength necessary to act as a deterrent, comes with additional costs that should not be there.

By acting so brashly as the "unipolar" power, by embracing radical new formulations of foreign policy, by refusing to negotiate in so many settings, and by espousing the most inflammatory rhetoric, we are forced to contend with dillemas that we shouldn't.

Such as the one publius highlights here.

Watching the diplomats can be fun, as much fun as it was in 2002. I presume the various foreign leaders, from private conversations, have a much better idea of the odds and conditions of an American attack on Iran than we do. I presume they, for instance Blair, do their best not to reveal their privileged knowledge by either word or deed, yet still attempt to protect their interests and reputations, and influence outcomes, as best they can.

How do I put this? I watched all the diplomacy, including the UN Security Council meetings, knowing full well we were invading Iraq, knowing that everyone else knew, but realizing no one was willing or able to say it, for they would be calling Bush & Cheney a liar.

So I watch and listen to Blair and Putin and the rest to see if I can determine what they know. Because I think they know.

The question hilzoy poses is not completely pertinent. The Powers know much more what is actually being said about military force, what it means, why it is said, and most of this is so out of our control that we might as well go fishing.

A good example from 2002 is Hans Blix saying it was unlikely that Saddam had any WMD, and very few others being willing to say so. The others were unwilling to say so not because they were unsure, but because they knew Bush was going to invade Iraq on a WMD pretense, and did not want to create an implacable enemy in the WH. Watching diplomacy might as well be fun, because we sure can't affect it.

I don't know if, or how forcefully, we will attack Iran.

What we need here is some rectification of names, a duty of the leader according to Confucius: If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

Right now, language is not correct.

Let's take "putting something on (or off) the table". This is the language of a corporate meeting. But the US is committed to not having peaceable meetings on any terms but its own, and is opposed to any of the give-and-take that characterizes negotiation and compromise. Nor, of course, is there anything like an equivalence of power, nothing that gives Iranian factions (or third parties) leverage over the US like our government has over them. In addition, let's remember that the US' policy is driven by unsuccessful businessmen, people who couldn't make meetings at which things are put on or off the table for discussion work, and who could profit reliably only when able to exclude competition and negotiation thanks to deals with buddies.

So the hell with that.

The question is, is it in the US's interest to keep reminding everyone that we're willing to start another war? If so, how? Does anyone here wish to argue that the Iranian government's various factions are not aware of the US's ability to mount a terribly destructive conflict, or of our leaders' willingness to set a goal and pursue it at any cost to minions and bystanders? Does anyone actually think that the most pressing issue in dealing with Iran is that they might doubt this administration's seriousness about the use of violence when our leaders deem it handy?

On the other hand, what reason can anyone give for Iranian leaders to expect anything but a war with us? What, in our words and actions, can you point at as a gesture of good will, an interest in reducing hostilities and resolving disputes to mutual advantage? What is coming from the US government that you would, if it were aimed at you, take as a sign of interest in peace? What would you point at to tell your allies "See, this means it's worth continuing"?

von:

This is the logical flaw in the argument. Keeping an option on the table and saber-rattling are two very different things.

There is an empirical flaw in this argument. While in theory, the two are recognizable as two different things, in practice the Bush administration has made them equivalent.

That is the logic of Publius' post, and the issue with which we must grapple. We no longer have the luxury of pretending that we can convince outsiders that we know how to make the distinction that von advocates.

The rest of the world correctly perceives American rhetoric that we are "keeping all options on the table" as saber rattling. That and the fact that we are needlessly sending Patriot missile batteries (as announced in the friggin' SOTU) and extra aircraft carriers to the region -- for what?

The phrase -- "keeping all options on the table" -- was the exact rhetoric Bush used in the Iraq war run-up while making explicit and fraudulent statements that he had not made up his mind about war. We must now deal with that reality, and do not have the option of making fine distinctions about "saber-rattling" vs. "keeping options on the table."

I actually think that we've done a very good job of backing off from the saber rattling, particularly given the public statements of the Democratic opposition.

This would be true only if Bush withdrew the needless deployment of extra forces which can only have the purpose of attacking Iran. That would be true if the US would agree to talk to Iran, and not have an active campaign to discourage all diplomacy with Iran and Syria.

Most of the planet viewed the 2006 elections as a repudiation of Bush Iraq policy, to which he responded with an escalation of the war effort. So statements of the opposition to Bush and his response to it mean nothing.

This is particularly true when the issue is war -- other nations cannot afford to trust us again on such a critical matter. We are stuck with the warmongering leadership that we actually have, not moderate thinkers such as von, and must deal with the reality of the past in forming present policy.

Shoot. This is like listening to Chamberlain saying:"Peace in our time." Chamberlain needed time to build up and form alliances. Yet there are still people who think Chamberlain meant what he said.

Finding useful truth in diplo-speak requires dynamite and jackhammers.

von writes:
"The problem I have is that expressly removing an option from the table sends a signal, which may encourage the other side to take an action that it other would not have taken."

I believe this is the point of forswearing military action in the first place. Right now, Iran is unwilling to consider halting their nuclear weapons program. The reason (or a very important reason) they are unwilling to do so is that they feel constrained by the possibility of American military action. By forswearing military action, we hope to send a signal which will encourage Iran that it is safe to cease development. (There's a reason the line goes "I'm not going to hurt you. Just put the gun down." rather than "I reserve the right to hurt you. Just put the gun down.")

Now, there may very well be other things that Iran is also constrained from doing by the possibility of American military action. If getting Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program is our top priority, then we need to give Iran other reasons not to take those actions.

It strikes me that there might be an Iranian von arguing that it's foolish to take nuclear development off the table, as America may take it as a sign of weakness.

If getting Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program is our top priority, then we need to give Iran other reasons not to take those actions.

An excellent comment, Felwith.

However, that's not our top priority. This isn't about weapons.

bobm:

Good speculative point about Chamberlain, although I think there is little truth to it. I wish it were so for his sake, as he would appear as less of a dolt. The reality is that Germany made far better use of the 11 months between Munich and the start of WWII to rearm than anyone else did. British rearmament began in 1936 and the draft instituted after Munich, but it was still a lukewarm effort. And the key "ally" to recruit to hem in Germany would have been the Soviet Union, but efforts to do so (per Shirer) were feckless.

Also, the audience for Chamberlain's remark was probably domestic -- not diplomatic. Although I guess I should assume that the degree of duplicity and doublespeak applies equally to each.

Felwith:

It strikes me that there might be an Iranian von arguing that it's foolish to take nuclear development off the table, as America may take it as a sign of weakness.

Greenwald has a post making this point in a different manner with many interesting quotes; i.e., their extremists sound a lot like ours with the "showing weakness" rhetoric.

Greenwald link fixed.

The rest of the World realizes that the United States is not as powerful as she thinks.

9-11 showed that the Saudis and Bin Ladden will not be messed with. Their enemies would become our enemies, because not all power is military.

"Rather than simply saying that force is off the table, the U.S. would be wiser to pull some of its carriers out of the region."

That's two, one above the normal rotation of one. The Eisenhower and the Stennis. It's not exactly a giant concentration of carrier groups. (The Eisenhower Group is scheduled to rotate out in May, though a delay wouldn't be a shock.)

It's entirely possible a third carrier might be added in the future, but it hasn't happened yet, contrary to a lot of rumors (a lot of people quoted a line in Newsweek a few weeks ago without noting that Newsweek promptly issued a correction that they'd been confused, and were referring only to the replacement of the Eisenhower with the Nimitz; I've seen this piece reprinted without the correction):

Correction: Newsweek reported in its Feb. 19th edition that a third American aircraft carrier "will likely follow" two other carrier groups to the Gulf. In fact, the USS Nimitz is scheduled to replace one of the other carrier groups operating there, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Newsweek regrets the error.
Personally, I regard "some" as requiring a minimum of at least three objects, if not four or five, but usage varies.

"That and the fact that we are needlessly sending Patriot missile batteries (as announced in the friggin' SOTU) and extra aircraft carriers to the region"

See prior remark: please name these "extra carriers" which have been sent to the Persian Gulf?

I really wish people might actually be careful about sticking to facts; it's kinda an important discussion, this whole "war" and "peace" thing, and making up non-existent facts, and passing them along to others as truth (or reading something without checking if it's actually true, and then passing it along), isn't helpful.

But to me there is a big difference between keeping military options on the table and saber-rattling.

dmbeaster above is correct commenting on this.

Additionally, it is impossible to "take military options off the table." Think otherwise? How?

The only way, in point of fact, would be to disband the US military so it truly wasn't an option to use military force. Since that is not going to happen, the mere mention of "military options" being on the table is de facto saber-rattling, just Orwellian enough to pass for otherwise.

Gary, I appreciate your bringing the Newsweek correction to everyone's attention. I'd certainly missed it, despite having reloaded that story several times after it first appeared.

Re: carrier groups in the Gulf. One is "normal." Two is extra, unless it's during the overlap as one relieves another.

The Stennis is extra, since it wasn't sent to relieve the Eisenhower. Two carrier groups is enough to have an air-navy attack on Iran. Three is more than enough. Therefore, it will be a delicate period at the point at which the Nimitz sets off to relieve the Eishenhower, unless the Stennis were to leave the area before then.

Which would be one of the only things that could convince me that this regime isn't set on a war with Iran.

Jim Webb said recently that when he was Navy secretary (1983-4) they didn't regularly send any carrier groups to the Gulf, given the tight maneuvering and the risks of a collision ballooning into an incident.

But that was back in the old days when there was thought to be some countervailing power on the planet.

von: So, it's not only a matter of flexibility in negotiations. It's also to avoid sending a signal to the Iranians that may led them to misread our seriousness or intentions -- and take action that would make the negotiations more, rather than less, dangerous.

Interestingly, this is what caused me to become pro-war in the week before we invaded Iraq. Not because I thought it was the right thing to do -- I thought then, as I think now, that it was f***ing retarded given the known plans and people implementing them -- but because the damage to our signalling ability would be too great given the level to which Bush had raised the rhetoric. Put bluntly, if we didn't invade, no-one would ever take our threats seriously again... and there are enough tyrants and despots being held in check, or potentially held in check, by fear of US retaliation that I didn't think we could risk it.

Of course, history has proven me wrong. I completely underestimated the degree to which the Bush Administration would screw the pooch. And this is what I think you fail to apprehend, von: our signalling is already broken. Bush has broken it. This is the overhead cost alluded to by myriad commenters upstream. We no longer have a credible use of force in any way other than smashy-smashy some people in the government; and we've completely lost our credibility in the face of WMD. We need to back the rhetoric off, and pull the military options off the table, precisely so that we can regain our ability to signal meaningful, and successful, military action in the future.

Which sucks, don't get me wrong, but it's the only useful course we've got.

Anarch: That hits close to home. I’ll chew on it.

Ahhhhh! That damn song is still in my head!

"Ahhhhh! That damn song is still in my head!"

Have you ever seen The Commitments?

Gary:

See prior remark: please name these "extra carriers" which have been sent to the Persian Gulf?

I really wish people might actually be careful about sticking to facts; it's kinda an important discussion,

Any carriers in the Gulf itself is an anomaly since they don't need to be in the Gulf to project a threat, and it is an exposed position for them. New York Times A carrier had not been inside the gulf since the Enterprise left in July, according to Pentagon officials.

Webb on Hardball 2/08/07:

"And you know one thing," Webb continued, "if you look at where we are in the Persian Gulf right now, when I was secretary of the Navy and until very recently, we never operated aircraft carriers inside the Persian Gulf because, number one, the turning radius is pretty close, and number two, the chance of accidentally bumping into something that would start a diplomatic situation was pretty high. "We now have been doing that, and with the tensions as high as they are, I'm very worried that we might accidentally set something off in there

They serve no meaningful role in Iraq that is not entirely covered by other air assets.

One carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean is normal. More serve no useful purpose in Iraq or Afghanistan (they were essential in 2001-2002 when there were no immediate land based aircraft to attack Afghanistan). They are there strictly to project the threat of force against Iran. Positioning them in the Gulf itself is needlessly provocative. Perhaps since we are being somewhat bellicose, the deployment can be defended as a precaution should the Iranians initiate something (that, I believe, is the official Pentagon position per link above). As if that is the only method for dealing with the Iranians, and as if it is the Iranians who are likely to initiate something.

From the WaPo, 1/29/07:

Vice President Cheney said the deployment this month of a second aircraft-carrier task force to the Persian Gulf delivered a "strong signal" of the United States' commitment to confront Iran's growing influence in the region.

Countries in the Middle East "want us to have a major presence there," Cheney said in a Newsweek interview published online yesterday. Referring to the deployment of the carrier USS John C. Stennis, Cheney said, "That sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat."

When the Stennis arrives in the Persian Gulf next month, the United States will have two carrier groups stationed there for the first time since the 2003 Iraq invasion. (emphasis added)

One caveat -- if the carriers were going to attack Iran, they would probably first leave the Gulf and station themselves further out to sea in order to be less exposed. Perversely, perhaps stationing them in the Gulf is purely bluster, but there is no doubt that it is saber-rattling.

Factual enough for you?

They serve no meaningful role in Iraq that is not entirely covered by other air assets.

I hate to bring up the “I” word – but I’d say they are there to keep the strait open when Israel takes out their nukes. It’s going to be a crap-fest, but we will keep the strait open.

OCSteve:

At least try to keep it open. I don't know the full extent of Iran's anti-ship missle capabilities, but it is probably formidable and positioned at the strait. Any predictions on whether US ships can effectively neutralize Iran's C-802 anti-ship missile defenses (supposed to be as good as the Harpoon)? I think it is one of the untested issues in modern naval warfare.

I do think that one reason for the deployment is to be hair-trigger ready should Iran take action in the Gulf and block the strait, whether because of Israel or others.

Israel can strike Iran only with our express consent -- they have to overfly skies we control. So its somewhat false to suppose that Israeli action would be separate from our own desired action.

"Any predictions on whether US ships can effectively neutralize Iran's C-802 anti-ship missile defenses (supposed to be as good as the Harpoon)?"

I wouldn't go remotely near making a prediction, but if you put a gun to my head, and asked me for a guess as to what a pretty optimistic outcome might be for Iran, it would be along the lines of 39 of 40 C-802s being knocked down, but maybe oh, whoops, oopsie. (Or not; it's really a guessing game.)

Now, if that really got far enough to hit a carrier, which is the least probable outcome, it really wouldn't likely matter much, beyond pride; carriers are big, and the warhead on a C-802 isn't, in comparison.

But if one hit an outer perimeter destroyer -- far more likely -- it would likely cripple or kill it; that much like a Harpoon it is.

But, really, circumstances for these sort of guessing games have to vary a lot.

I won't win any (desirable) friends with this but I hope that in the case of an unprovoked US strike on Iran those carriers will find themselves on the bottom of the sea (with just enough time to rescue the crews).
I think Pentagon war games even consider it likely to lose at least one in that scenario, another reason why the military is not actually doing dances of joy about the prospect of war.

I think Gary’s got it pretty close. There would be damage, most likely in the escorts, but “sinking” a carrier just isn’t that easy. Remember that its not a carrier, but a carrier group. You have to get through some pretty formidable defenses to get anywhere near the carrier itself.

Hartmut: The crew is over 3,000 – they call it a floating city. Rescuing the crew (as in the entire crew) just isn’t going to happen in your scenario.

I'm not sure what OCS means by open. If some tankers are getting sunk, people who own (or better yet, insure) tankers are going to have some strong views about sending them through the straits. The road from downtown Baghdad to the airport has been "open" all along.

If Iran wants to, it will close the Straits. Just like Egypt in 1956, Iran can sink some its own vessels in the Strait if necessary, and in such restricted waterways I suspect anti-ship missiles would be far more effective than on the open seas. Further, as CharleyCarp notes, few businesses are going to want to send their very expensive ships through a gauntlet of Iranian missiles, as the cost of failure for them is extremely high.

I really have no idea how naval conflict with Iran would ensue, but I am more circumspect.

Here is an article by Joseph Galloway of Knight Rider of a wargame conducted a few years ago concerning a hypothetical attack on Iran. Marine General Rider kicked US butt as the Iranian player.

There are real uncertainties as to how this naval engagement would go, in particular if the US tried to operate in the Gulf which neutralizes a lot of US advantages. That and the usual disadvantage naval forces have engaging coastal and land based targets. And so many of the weapons systems in question have never been tested in live fire situations.

I hope you mean Knight Ridder. Although the thought of Joe Galloway teaming up with KITT does sound pretty amusing.

G'Kar

I did, and the General's correct name is van Riper. Crappy proofreading today.

We all do it, dmbeaster. That one just happened to be too funny for me not to comment on. No offense intended.

If we get into a naval conflict with Iran, we wouldn't need Knight Rider, we'd need Knightboat!

Michael: We'll never catch them now.
Knightboat: Incorrect: look! A canal.
Homer: Go, Knightboat, go!
Bart: Oh, every week there's a canal.
Lisa: Or an inlet.
Bart: Or a fjord.
Homer: Quiet! I will not hear another word against the boat.

Perhaps Knightboat and Knight Rider could team up to defeat the mullahs. I don't think David Hasselhoff is particularly busy these days.

Sending David Hasselhoff? Even I wouldn’t support something that brutal, even to prevent them getting nukes.

OCSteve--

well, what about Chuck Norris?

Chuck Norris? Well sure. He’d set things right. And as far as I know he doesn’t sing so I wouldn’t be as worried about the world (less Germany) condemning us for war crimes.

Germany loves Hasselhoff, if I recall correctly.

Right. Thats what I meant by "I wouldn’t be as worried about the world (less Germany) condemning us for war crimes."

Germany would not condemn us.

I never could figure out why they love him. One of those cultural mysteries I’ll never understand.

OCS, it's because you hate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxAd2sHtMf0>freedom!

They can't resist the sight of him in lederhosen.

To be fair, it's hard to resist anyone once they're wearing lederhosen. It's Germany's secret weapon.

For you young'uns, DH had a big hit in Germany with Looking for Freedom. Number one on the German charts for 8 consecutive weeks.

Not that I can understand the appeal of DH: a far better moment on the German charts was Nena's Wunder Gescheh'n newly released as the Wall came down.

CharleyCarp: That YouTube link was uncalled for. Ruined my dinner.

Wunder geschehen means "miracles happen."

As I say, OCS, you clearly hate freedom.

"To be fair, it's hard to resist anyone once they're wearing lederhosen. It's Germany's secret weapon."

After you've drunk enough German beer.

After you've drunk enough German beer.

Trust me – not even then.

Once you're passed out, you can't resist lederhosen. Let alone David Hasselhoff.

But we seem to be agreed that our super-team of Chuck Norris and David Hasselhoff are enough to protect our nation against Iran. Who says we can't agree on a bi-partisan foreign policy?

I never understood the appeal of lederhos(e)n and would support any movement to sell Bavaria to Austria (they deserve each other).
Disclosure: I am Prussian (geographically).

Back to the (prospects of) war:
I think by now everbody (except maybe Iran) is happy that the German government cancelled the torpedo deal a few years ago.

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