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February 13, 2007


We're in the "I want a pony" realm of foreign policy, wherein the US can do anything and it's free too. Given that the last round of I-want-a-pony (a round that I supported, incidentally) resulted in a not-so-good outcome in Iraq, I'm hesitant to buck history again and support Reynolds' pony-wanting on Iran.

I'm not sure you understand the "pony" metaphor.

Also glaringly absent from the Reynoldian utopia is any notion of what would happen in the wake of these things that we would like to happen.

I think that pretty much applies to much, if not all, of the Reynoldian musings on foreign policy (see, e.g., his "more rubble, less trouble" strategy for Iraq).

Best comment on this (as I also noted at MY's place) came here:

Ironic that Glenn Reynolds is advocating the murder of the Iranian versions of himself.

MY may have hit on a major point about many of the pundits such as Reynolds. They have read far too many Ludlum, LeCarre and Clancy novels, and obviously think those books are based in reality.

I disagree with Reynolds, of course, but I don't understand the irony. People are often opposed to, and even in favor of killing, "versions of themselves" that are on the other side. Besides, how is Reynolds equivalent to a mullah or an atomic scientist?

KCinDC - I took the comment and Reynolds' "etc." to include, for example, propagandists and advocates of military intervention on "the other side," in which both categories Reynolds fits, IMHO.

Okay, I could see that, but it still doesn't seem ironic, or contradictory, or hypocritical. Reynolds isn't advocating killing them because they're propagandists. He's advocating killing them because they're propagandists for (what he sees as) our enemy.

KC - my ability to properly use and apply the term "ironic" has been horribly corrupted -- you're right.

Everyone has rightly mocked the assassination strategy, but I'd like to mock the "stir up internal insurgencies" strategy as well. Because I'm just sure that renewed ethnic sentiment will have predictable outcomes!

I'm sure that if we promise to support a free Baluchistan, these isolated tribal people will turn from opium smuggling to a modern, secular, anti-Iranian future! I'm sure that if we just distribute money and guns for favors and information, Iranian Kurds, Arabs, and Azeris will come under no generalized suspicion and harassment! And I'm sure that should the parliament manage finally to wrest control away from the Guardian Council and the Ayatollah, the ethnic separatist movements would fade right away.

This sort of thing is just playing with fire. It's morally disgusting and very, very dangerous.

Maybe Reynolds isn't talking about ninjas, but about the bizarre "assassinations by bomber" idea we talked about briefly last month. You remember: "The strike would attempt to kill 5,000 to 6,000 of Iran's top tier nuclear engineer talent."

Hmm, I guess that wouldn't fit with his use of "quietly".

The assumption that high-level diplomacy is generally a sign of weakness, however, is simply wrong -- unless you view Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan as generally weak presidents.

I think this is wrongheaded in its approach. We are strong. We are ridiculously strong. One of the benefits of being as strong as we are is that we don't have to worry about appearing strong. Or put it this way: an Iranian nuclear weapon, or even several, is not anything but a trivial threat to the existence of the US. That's how strong we are. And I, for one, am glad of it. It allows some freedom of action in roughly the same way that being rich affords freedom of action.

I honestly believe that we could head of a lot of foreign policy mistakes if we could just recognize what a ginormous power we are.

Ah, Insty provides a helpful update:

I think it's perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries -- like Iran -- that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses. We may wind up doing so via airstrikes, but it would be better to do it in a more selective manner.

Truer words were never spoken.

Did I miss where Iran has said they want to nuke America?

Did I miss where Iran has said they want to nuke America?

I did to, though I think their current Pres. might have said that the U.S. will not exist at some point (or somesuch).

Off Topic - So, I work fairly close to the White House and while there are generally two motorcades that come by my office every day (I think it's the Veep coming and going from his bunker - AKA the Naval Observatory), today I think we're up to something like 8 or so, I wonder if something's up?

today I think we're up to something like 8 or so, I wonder if something's up?

Congressional Iraq Resolution Debate watch party?

today I think we're up to something like 8 or so, I wonder if something's up?

Congressional Iraq Resolution Debate watch party?

Congressional Iraq Resolution Debate watch party?

Possibly, but the weather's been cr@p in DC today and I don't think the Veep is allowed microwave popcorn due to his heart condition. Maybe they were meeting about the Libby trial where the Veep apparently won't be testifying.

3. Also glaringly absent from the Reynoldian utopia is any notion of what would happen in the wake of these things that we would like to happen. Or, frankly, any demonstrated education relevant to, or history of, his or Mr. Hewitt's abilities to make such predictions.

But it would all be very quiet!

I'm not sure you understand the "pony" metaphor.

Where'd I go wrong?

Sort-of-OT- but-not-really, pursuant to all this "Bomb Iran" stuff, was this fine example in the Post of burying the lede. In a story about a tiff between Oliver North and the Smithsonian over filming footage in front of the Enola Gay, the story ends:

"[FOX News was] commencing production of a documentary on nuclear weapons tentatively titled, 'From the Manhattan Project to Tehran' and wanted to shoot a few minutes of the videotape of the Enola Gay . . . . Our requests fell into a bureaucratic black hole," North wrote.
"From the Manhattan Project to Tehran." Heh, indeed.

Alert the Media! von and I agree!

I have no idea what "high-profile diplomacy" means. Perhaps Reynolds means that he does not endorse high-level diplomacy, wherein actual decisionmakers meet. I continue to be befuddled by this reaction

I think it must be based on the notion that high-level and/or high-profile diplomacy means

(a) no-one dies, which is no fun if you think war is a video game.

(b) the US might not get our way. Or a pony! Even though we are biggest and strongest! I think your pony metaphor (figure of speech?) is extremely apt and I understood it instantly.

Perhaps Reynolds doesn't know what he's talking about. At all.

Obviously, Reynolds wants Farsi-speaking Iranian secret agents knocking on his door, since, if we're assassinating people agitating against the US, one would think the only Iranian response would be to target bellicose American influence-makers.

Why is it that an American suggesting "Bomb Iran" is just putting forth a candid policy proposal but an Iranian suggesting "Bomb America" is a dangerous, extremist homicidal lunatic who needs to be put down for the interests of national security?

Most of you people continue to sicken me.

You would rather have a war in which the 'lower classes' are slaughtered so that the 'elite' can be kept safe. Nice to hear that, whatever your political allegiances are, you're into protecting your own. Way to preserve medieval rules that peasants are fair game while nobles have to be ransomed back.

Ara is right, we need to tell the world that we will kill any leader who incites violence against us and we expect the world to try to kill any leader of ours who does the same. Then, once we've told the world this, we need to act on it. Pull our troops back and let a thousand assassin squads bloom. Let the night of the long knives commence. Let Reynolds fight off the hit squads and let those worthy of survival continue to lead.

Assassination is the only moral form of state-backed violence.

Ahab: There are occasions on a blog where I honestly don’t know if something is meant as a spoof or not – this would be one of them.

Most of you people continue to sicken me.

So why continue hanging out here, especially since you've been banned repeatedly? Do you have some sort of nausea fetish?

Who exactly are these "most" here who would rather have a war with Iran? I haven't noticed them. I condemn Reynolds' post for the lack of morality (as well as for the silliness encapsulated in the word "quietly"), but his moral position wasn't any better when he was endorsing "more rubble, less trouble".

Ahab, my point was only that we can expect violence in retalliation, not that we should tell them that we demand or desire it (which is my pragmatic read of 'expect' here).

Lets assume (against all we know) that such a secret assassination campaign is successful. No doubt the Iranians would respond in kind.

With a half-million Farsi speakers in the US, and given that even after the Bushies the US is still a more open society than Iran, just who would be better placed to infiltrate such agents?

Jackmormon flagged the "supporting simmering insurgencies in Iran" line in Reynolds paragraph of incoherencies as perhaps the most dangerous incoherency of all.

I agree. This reminds me of Jurassic Park when the cute little velociraptors broke through their darling little shells. "Spare no expense."

I'm not sure any longer that I'm glad the Soviets lost in Afghanistan. There was something very stable and conservative about the awful Soviet leadership.

And as much as I distrust gangster Putin, I'm not so sure I want the simmering insurgencies in Chechnya to come to power. They might make Putin look good.

Short of killing everyone and closing the U.S. borders so that Dave C. can sleep at night, I think it would have been better to have rescued Saddam from his hidey-hole and to have reinstalled him as pooh-bah in Baghdad.

Better than what, you ask? Or is there a happy ending to this bedtime story that I haven't thought of?

I mean, look, whatever happens in or to Iran is not going to result in more folks reading "Lolita" in Tehran, making three-bean salad in converted mullah turbans for the local potluck PTA meetings, and folks discussing the usage of "hoohah" on top 40 radio stations in Tehran suburbs, or whatever George Bush's misty-eyed vision of transformational democracy happens to be.

There is a big ocean of blood to wade through first. These people have scores to settle with each other, and when they get done with that, the survivors aren't going to plant a big wet kiss on Uncle Sam's lips, despite our rather grandious self-image.

Incidentally, Bruce Baugh in one of the other threads on this subject made the case that the current U.S. leadership is chock full of closeted gay men. I have no opinion, but I do want to see the look on Dinesh D'Souza's face when these guys become uncloseted.

I have a feeling he and Osama Bin Laden will be sharing a cave condiminium in the rough part of Pakistan.

FOX news can interview Dineshi boy about his uptight tastes one minute and segue to Anne Nicole Smith (the poor wretch) the next, who was spreading American democracy and her legs in the Bahamas.

They both should get down on their knees and thank America for being such a bizarre bazaar.

I wish Roger Ailes would pick one morality and stick with it. Oh .... right... fair and balanced.

P.S. More good news. Rush Limbaugh's grandfather is having a post office or court house named after him in Missouri, by an act of Congress. The elder Rush was a judge. This has got to be killing his worthless grandsons.

Unfortunately, John, I'm afraid that one's already becoming policy. Quietly.

I don't have any links handy, just months and months of rumors and rumors of rumors. Jim Henley has been trying to get people's attention on this; I searched poorly in his archives and couldn't find his posts.

KCinDC: I have never been banned on any blog where I've participated. People love me. Perhaps some previous resident of this blog who used my name was banned repeatedly in which case I denounce him/her. But as for me-Ahab, I generate good feelings and receive them in turn. I do, however, think that your personal attack against me is a violation of the terms of service and I would suggest that you be banned.

In terms of your claims of moral superiority, the structure of the sovereign state system is based on the accrual of power in the hands of the few. If power is held by those few but consequences are borne by those with the least power in the system, that is immoral. I support both power and consequences. You claim to condemn others for lack of morality while your own moral theory is clearly empty.

Ara: Way to let yourself be ruled by fear. Don't worry, no assassination squad will ever come for you. You clearly aren't a leader.

sounds like Reynolds is really into 24.

and, killing scientists ?

guy's a loon

Great, now Moby Dick is ruined...

It sounds like I'm actually being insulted by being told that an assassination squad isn't coming for me.

liberal japonicus: You are now my great white whale.

Ara: Way to keep your head down. No one will notice you if you keep acting non-threatening.

While I appreciate the tone of personal assault and sniping that seems to pervade this blog, I'd appreciate it if someone responded to my substantive points.

Those of you wondering if there's something you're missing may want to look at comments from a certain fictional character (who can't be mentioned here because of spam filters, but whose initials are DQ) on some old posts.

While I appreciate the tone of personal assault and sniping that seems to pervade this blog...

...and to which you're not at all contributing.

KCinDC: Since this is your answer to my request for a substantive response, I can only guess that you are suggesting I am this DQ (the love that dare not speak it's name?). You are wrong. While you may have received your junior g-man kit from the Post Toasties box, clearly, you have yet to prove yourself worthy of the great J Edgar Hoover (in any of his skills).

An oily insinuation that I am someone who posted horrible things demeans both you and this blog. You should realize that you are shaming yourself in front of the people whose approval you so clearly crave.

I demonstrate a powerful moral theory and you answer with cheap shots. Well played.

Anarch: Thanks for the support. It's good to have someone on my side here. Now if we could just help get this conversation back on track. I feel bad since it was my comment that seems to have prompted some of the bad apples to come in and mess things up.

Betcha the people most likely to get killed would be our own intelligence assets. After all, we know who *they* are.

Well, Ahab, if you aren't him, I should apologize. If you are him, then you should apologize. If you want to hunt me down like the Great White Whale, I would suggest that such a sentiment sounds like a threat, and as such, is contrary to the posting rules. Of course, if you had called yourself Starbuck, everyone would have just thought you were from Seattle...

Ahab: While I appreciate the tone of personal assault and sniping that seems to pervade this blog, I'd appreciate it if someone responded to my substantive points.

It’s difficult enough on occasion to respond to clearly substantive points. Why bother if you honestly can’t tell if it is a spoof or not? I double checked that I was on ObWi and not BJ, so the doubt remains.

I do, however, think that your personal attack against me is a violation of the terms of service and I would suggest that you be banned.

Blog commenters haven't signed a ToS with this blog, so this banning suggestion is probably not going to be heeded.

I mean, suggest away, but don't expect prompt service. Here, we even do moderation in moderation. And given who came out with sharp tone to begin with, I think you really have no cause for complaint regarding the tone of others.

those of you with heightened Charlie sensitivity might notice several certain stylistic and semantic similarities.

could be a coincidence.

I smell a white whale...

or a bald vegan DJ.

While I find it somewhat charming that each of you seems to imagine that I am your personal bugaboo in disguise, I am deeply wounded to be compared to such vile and inadequately powerful people. If I weren't made of sterner stuff, I would undoubtedly have shed tears over your sleazy accusations and hurtful remarks. If this weren't anonymous, I would have alleged racial profiling. As it is, I will simply accept that you have not yet learned to love me. Don't worry, everyone learns in time. I'm that kind of person.

What issue did you want to get back to discussing, again?? Your proposal for a multilateral purge of the ruling classes?

What issue did you want to get back to discussing, again?

pie, apparently

kitten pie

mmm. baby cats, so tender and mild.

Good, now that people are ready to discuss, we can get back to me teaching you how assassination is the only moral form of state violence.

Does anyone have questions on what I've covered so far?

mocha walnut kitten pie

Feline meringue pie.


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