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March 10, 2007

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Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Let's just hope no superpower saves his butt by overplaying its hand . . .

The United States does not invade and occupy nations that have The Bomb.

Even if that nation is housing the organizers of the mass death of thousands of Americans.

The Persians will get thier Bomb, no matter who is the President of Iran or the United States.

'get the bomb' is a bit ambiguous. Japan got it (2 of them) in 1945.

The chance of a superpower (or certain people in a certain regional power) overplaying their hand is unfortunately non-negligible.
From experience I'd expect the worst case scenario not to be the least likely (i.e. not preventing Iran from getting the bomb but making them really mad by unsuccessfully attacking them).

I read this, and think that as a matter of basic geopolitical calculation, taking military action against Iran at this time would be nuts. Existing economic and political forces are all in our favor in terms of moderating Iranian extremism, and military action would only strengthen the Iranian extremists.

Neo-cons read this and think now is the time to strike since military action would allegedly hasten political change against Iranian extremists.

This is what kills me the most about those who believe we are in some sort of fevered existential conflict with the Middle East, Iran, Arabs, etc. Iran is a very weak country with enormous problems. That it has managed to bluff itself into importance on the world stage is testament only to the incompetence of our leaders, the propaganda arm of its ministry, and the remarkable cowardice and capacity for hysterics in some elements of the extreme right wing of this country, which for some reason is seen as "conservative."

Interesting post, Charles. About that general--even with the reports that his family has left Iran, I've got to say that I don't necessarily believe that he's been spying for the US and that he defected. It's possible, I guess, but surely everybody has a compelling reason to lie and spin to the press.

This bit--

A complete failure to invest in refining and the hostility to the use of Western technology
--seems a little strange to me. Iran's hostility to the use of Western technology does not extend, evidently, to centrifuges! No, I think it's that refineries are damned expensive and that the expertise necessary to build an effective one is going to come from the US or Europe---and those engineers can't or won't work in Iran these days. (Russia's refineries still rely on US and European experts in planning stages.) Anyway, I really don't think that Iranians are hostile to Western technology per se.

Just wanted to suggest that you not run away with that idea.

"the use of Western technology"

"Just wanted to suggest that you not run away with that idea."

Charles didn't write that, though; he was quoting Chris Walker, the analyst writing the piece in The Independent.

It's not entirely clear to me that Walker's use of "hostility to the use of Western technology" didn't partially or largely refer to a reluctance of Iranian authorities to be dependent on specifically Western technology, meaning requiring spare parts replaceable only from the West, or run only with the aid of Western experts, rather than any sort of hostility towards the technology itself.

I have no idea if that's what Walker meant, but it seems plausible to me given that Iran has had a great deal of experience with this specific problem -- for instance, with F-14 spare parts. It's not that they have anything against F-14s themselves; it's the dependence/problems with sanctions, that give them a problem.

On the other hand, the first part of Walker's sentence was "a complete failure to invest in refining," and his primary thrust is to criticize Iran for "extraordinary economic mismanagement," so maybe he was primarily focused on criticizing Iran for more irrational behavior, as well, as regards oil refining technology; as I said, it's not entirely clear to me.

I know Charles didn't write the part I quoted. He did, however, riff on it: "Iran does not have enough capacity to refine all of its own oil, eshewing the Great Satan's oil refining technology and choosing to import finished product from the UAE."

I suspect that the truth is more like what you're describing: an unwillingness to depend on parts, expertise, and capital from US and European countries, combined with intermittant sanctions of various sorts, and probably a fair amount of short-term gaming at the expense of long-term economic stability and prosperity.

An ideological resistance to Western technology per se, however, does not seem like a very plausible explanation of Iran's economic troubles. It's a small point.

It's too bad that the leader of a certain superpower didn't keep his stupid mouth shut during the elections in Iran. I don't trust Bush not to save Ahmadinejad again, even if he doesn't intend to.

Jack,
For the defection, it sounds like he's been cooperating with us (or NATO) for several years.

Re technology, Iran likes Russia's technology just fine, so maybe they don't think of Putin & Co. as "western". If they want the best available for exploration and refining, they must go through the US and Europe. Well, actually Europe. I'm guessing the mullahs are refraining from doing this because they'd rather not give up them the economic and political leverage, choosing instead to get their refined oil from a fellow Muslim nation, and in the end hurting their own economy. They're also hurting themselves defense-wise because their economy would melt down if their ports were blockaded.

"They're also hurting themselves defense-wise because their economy would melt down if their ports were blockaded."

I'm not following: how would that be avoided by getting more oil-drilling/refining equipment from America, again?

Because European oil-drilling/refining equipment have Deflector Shields?

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