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June 24, 2009

Comments

I agree with everything you wrote here, and I think it works better as a justification for keeping the rhetoric cool than the Iranian nationalist backlash argument.

Pulling back from complete endorsement, my understanding is that relations with the US were an issue in the election, although perhaps not the most important one for Iranian voters. While everyone favours a nuclear program, that isn't the critical issue. Iran has a right to civilian nuclear power -- the real issue is whether there is some compromise that allows Iran to exercise that right while giving the US some righ to inspect.

Fixed!

"Pulling back from complete endorsement, my understanding is that relations with the US were an issue in the election"

I don't disagree, but they weren't the primary focus. Such that we shouldn't point to the results and say that they are such a determinative factor one way or the other in terms of relations with the US. I did note:

"That is not to say that there are not differences in the general orientation of the two camps toward the United States."

I have some further buyer's remorse about Eric's position. While I tend to agree that the US should keep its interests independent of domestic political developments, one does need some sticks as well as carrots. You can't very well negotiate with someone if you won't engage in any sanctions at all, no matter what happens.

"You can't very well negotiate with someone if you won't engage in any sanctions at all, no matter what happens."

You know pith, it might be better to ask about my position, rather than assume. As a general rule, I'm not a fan of sanctions. But I don't oppose their use in any and all settings. In particular, I would use them in the context of...negotiations! But what Farley is proposing is something different. It's the same as the Bush admin attempt to line-up sanctions against Iran if Iran refuses to comply with certain stipulations - in other words, no negotiations, just an ultimatum.

We have to offer Iran legitimate carrots and security guarantees, while carrying sanctions as a last resort. Not as the ostensible beginning and end of the conversation itself.

Sanctions have not been useful in promoting changes in Iranian policy; Is is possible that that is no longer the case? I highly doubt it. Can someone make a good argument for this.? I think sanctions are (and have been) for domestic consumption (see: we're being tough on country X).

Anyway criticizing brutality in the streets but not going too far in endorsing an outcome is good for the protesters even if some feel its meddling too much and some feel is shirking some responsibility for "leadership". And it helps our interests not to paint ourselves in a corner by "canceling the party before the invitations are sent".

Moreover this Iranian regime thrives on the Islam/West conflict. Anything our side does to show that it is not existentially opposed to the Islamic Republic and willing to negotiate on points of interest will help undermine that domestic cornerstone of the hardliners.

"Sanctions have not been useful in promoting changes in Iranian policy"

I don't believe it's a simple binary formulation.

Prospective sanctions need to be combined with real inducements pursuant to negotiations between the US and Iran. At least, that would be the setting most conducive to success in terms of realizing US interests.

Good post, Eric. As I see it, you and Larison are making an absolutely vital distinction; there two imperatives here: a political one and a real one. Of course the Iranian regime can't escape all external consequences to their recent actions. But deciding what they are is another matter, and a lot depends on how some other countries react.

If diplomacy really is as deterministic as some people seem to think it is ('we have to impose crippling sanctions'), then W. Bush was absolutely right to eschew it.

I meant to add that I wish more modern pols of both parties revisited the difference between 'dispassionate' and 'indifferent'. Obviously, the bulk of the crap they say is just for show, but I wonder if they start believing some of their own pucky sometimes.

Refreshing to read intelligent dispassionate argument about foreign policy. It's so oddly grown-up.

OK, Eric, maybe I'm seeing differences where there aren't any. I agree with you and Larison.

I should say I think *actual* sanctions have been useless. Threatened sanctions as part of a negotiation strategy may be a different story. What I'm really getting at though is that with a regime that seems interested in maintaining its hold on power above all else and has long held The Great Satan as its trump card, a belligerent stance (i.e. sanctions, threatened or real) plays to it's political strengths. Of course, some (bibi et al) wouldn't mind at all for such a situation to persist, so they see no downside to a more muscular approach. I just feel that if you want the reformers to succeed, and the IR to go forward in a way that is healthy for its citizens, sanctions are negative.

"Or, perhaps, that the force of pushback Khamenei received this election cycle will lead him to pursue engagement in order to attempt to have something to show the population in terms of achievements."

I think this concept may be very important. One of the things that will be very important to the current regime, if they remain in power, is to recreate a sense of legitimacy within Iran itself. The regime may or may not care what the outside world thinks of it, but it at the very least has been given a scare by its own people this time around.

Part of the recreation process might be to enter into talks, negotiations, what have you, with the US and even make some concessions they may have been unwilling to make before in order to lessen sanctions and assist a very struggling economy.

Of course, I doubt if wnyone knows either what the outcome of all this is going to be or the consequences. I do find it interesting that Karoubi is using the term Taliban like Islam to describe the currnet regime's goals. Invoking the Taliban in Iran is almost as bad as invoking the US.

@john miller- good point. I'm skeptical though that the regime will do anything to restore its standing domestically other than doubling down on its anti-west/anti-US positions. I don't see how it can repair its relations with the reform-minded vanguard, so it needs to reinforce its base and persuade the middle that the Republic is under existential threat from the west. I think if the Iranian public doesn't buy this argument, the future of the IR looks to be a much more liberal one.

rweaver, I am cognizant that I tend to be an overly optimistic person. I declared loudly in the late 60's that the Soviet Union would not crak down on what was happening in Eastern Europe. More fool I.

However, unless the regime wants to totally admit that elections really have no meaning, then they have to do something regarding their own people. And in a country in which religion is so important, they have to also give a nod to the spiritual aspect of those people.

One of the biggest complaints right now is that the Supreme Leader has interjected himself into a political situation which is unforgiveable to many Iranians.

Of course, I can be totally wrong. In terms of the anti-West attitude, I think that would have worked in the past, but I think the regime has overpalyed the anti-West card this time, particularly saying the BBC arranged for Neda to be shot so they could get goof film footage.

Not to say the Iranians will all fall totally in love with the West, but their acceptance as gospel things said by the regime will no longer exist.

I agree in theory that crackdown doesn't automatically mean no more negotiations ever, but I'm not sure I agree some of your specific examples and thoughts on it.

First, I don't think there is anything wrong with canceling a specific round of negotiations, or refusing to engage in new negotiations in the immediate aftermath of a massacre or serious crackdown. Unless the need is immediately pressing, delaying negotiations under those circumstances isn't bad. If it is true that the Iranian nuclear program isn't particularly advanced, 6 more months isn't going to kill us. And it may do some good, especially if the longterm aftermath of the crackdown isn't clear. (The last Iranian Revolution took a full year, remember).

Larison's point about negotiating after a nasty episode isn't so clear to me. Will the Iranian leadership feel strong or vulnerable right after a crackdown? I don't think it is at all obvious that they will feel strong. If they had stopped it in the first few days, maybe. Not so much if it takes a few more weeks.

I don't agree with your take on Yglesias. He isn't forcing an internal struggle into an American-centric frame.

He is describing the likely outcome of a regime-crackdown win and what he thinks it will do. He is essentially saying that under many scenarios where the regime survives, the factions most interested in engaging the West will end up being purged. Which seems likely to me too.

Martin:
The election in Iran was not decided around issues of engagement with America vs. not, or pursuit of a nuclear program vs. abandonment (most Iranians, even the protesters, favor the continuation of a nuclear program). Rather, it was a contest between factions of elites concerned primarily with domestic and economic matters - not to mention Khamenei's insecurity at the surprising size and scope of the burgeoning reform movement that he wanted to stop in its tracks, which speaks to Larison's argument.

This is just wrong. And badly wrong. Foreign policy was at least as important in the election as domestic affairs. Where is you proof? Or is it just a bias on your part?

This is not to say Kahmenei won't deal, but that wasn't the point you were making. Everything I read by Larison make me dislike him more and it doesnt' surprise me that the American Conservative runs him.

About those new Nixon tapes, one thing I agree with Nixon on and I'm saying this as a non-Jew: There is a LOT of anti-semitism out there - more than some people realize - and some of the focus on necons and Israel derives from this, especially from the "libertarian" anti-war.com and Pat Buchanan's American Conservative. Wonder what William Safire will say about the new tapes.

"On the one hand, he acknowledges the fact that the US not only engages with - but has good relations such that it bestows enormous amounts of aid on - other less democratic regimes in the region. But whereas Farley is not calling for a clean break with Saudi Arabia, Egypt or any of the other less-than-democratic regimes, he would prefer that Obama not engage Iran. "

Iran wants nukes and funds Hamas and Hezbollah, where as Egypt and Saudi Arabia don't. And they dont' call for Israel to be wiped off the map. If Iran is less democratic it is only slightly less so and this only became apparent in the last month. In the past reformists were elected but they weren't actually allowed to do anything reformist. It's window dressing.

If a rigged election is more democratic than no election, it's not by much.

"This is just wrong. And badly wrong. Foreign policy was at least as important in the election as domestic affairs. Where is you proof? Or is it just a bias on your part?"

Check Stratfor's analysis.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20090622_iranian_election_and_revolution_test

Check the links in this post and my prior posts on the subject.

Check this:

http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insightb/articles/eav062209.shtml

Why, what's your proof that it foreign policy was at least as important a determinative in this election as domestic concerns/economic concerns/reform vs. status quo/clerical rvialries?

If I was badly wrong, surely you have ample evidence.

"Iran wants nukes and funds Hamas and Hezbollah, where as Egypt and Saudi Arabia don't."

No, Saudi Arabia just funds extremist Islam in the form of Wahhabism, as well as international jihadist groups, with its security services helping to form al-Qaeda.

"And they dont' call for Israel to be wiped off the map."

Neither did Iran. That is a misquote.

"If Iran is less democratic it is only slightly less so and this only became apparent in the last month."

No, Saudi Arabia is a good deal less democratic than Iran.

Another possibility is that the uprising leaves the Iranian power structure too fractured to negotiate. There doesn't seem to be anything like unanimity within the elite.

"Another possibility is that the uprising leaves the Iranian power structure too fractured to negotiate. There doesn't seem to be anything like unanimity within the elite."

That's possible, but let's pursue negotiations to confirm or refute.

"Larison's point about negotiating after a nasty episode isn't so clear to me. Will the Iranian leadership feel strong or vulnerable right after a crackdown? I don't think it is at all obvious that they will feel strong..."

Same as above.

"I don't agree with your take on Yglesias. He isn't forcing an internal struggle into an American-centric frame.

He is describing the likely outcome of a regime-crackdown win and what he thinks it will do. He is essentially saying that under many scenarios where the regime survives, the factions most interested in engaging the West will end up being purged. Which seems likely to me too."

That's assuming a fairly uniform schism in the two camps along this fault line. I don't think it's so clear. But, again, negotiations will answer these questions and more.

"No, Saudi Arabia is a good deal less democratic than Iran."

As in "not at all."

"Neither did Iran. That is a misquote."


As well, Iran, can't speak. As I persist in endlessly pointing out, countries can't speak; only individuals can speak. An individual can speak representing their government, or a part of their government, but the country itself doesn't speak, and neither do governments speak on their own behalf. One might correctly refer to an act officially approved of by a government as [Country X] doing something, and one might correctly refer to officials speaking on behalf of their country as [Country X] "says," but what's being referred to here are statements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and it should be more clear now than ever, to everyone, that "Iran" and "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" are not, in fact, identical entities.

"Iran wants nukes and funds Hamas and Hezbollah, where as Egypt and Saudi Arabia don't."

One more point: and clearly the USSR and China were doing far worse, and yet we managed to neogitiate and engage them. Doesn't add up.

Obsidian Wings!

Come for the Radiohead references, stay for the Iran debate.

I guess I'm not seeing what doing absolutely nothing in response does to strengthen our position anyway. The leadership in Iran demonizes the US. What, are they going to demonize us more? In fact if punitive measures are found that actually mean something to the leadership - I acknowledge, a difficult thing, as I am not in favour of military action & economic sanctions (except on arms which we already have) - they amount to an additional bargaining chip when it comes time to negotiate, surely?

On the other hand I do think there is a danger of being perceived to have presented an indifferent face to a democracy movement in Iran that surely will triumph sometime in the next 20, 30, 40 years, by simple demographics if nothing else. A great deal of anti-US hostility in the past seems to have been driven by perceived hypocritical behaviour in supporting friendly dictators and suppressing popular movements if they were too left-wing. I think there is a tradeoff between short-term and long-term that has shown up repeatedly, which is that the pursuit of our short-term goals with countries has frequently been very detrimental to the long-term prospects for democracy and human rights in those countries.

I'd e.g. say our relationship with Saudi Arabia - propping up a corrupt & repressive dictatorship because they have a lot of oil and pretend to like us - isn't exactly a shining example of the potential for America to do good in the world, or an model to be imitated in future.

All of that said, I don't know what can be done. I do think that the costs of loudly condemning human rights violations (note: that is not the same as taking a side in the election) are being overstated; just as we have no choice but to deal with whatever regime is in power in Iran, they have no choice but to deal with us even if we called them some unpleasant names. If we had nothing they wanted, they wouldn't be negotiating in the first place.

I also think that as time has passed since the election, the facts of what has happened have now been firmly established and are hard to write off as American fabrications or influence, and so that particular risk to the democracy movement from American support should have diminished.

"That's assuming a fairly uniform schism in the two camps along this fault line. I don't think it's so clear. But, again, negotiations will answer these questions and more."

This is an interesting point. What kind of thing would have to happen at the negotiations for you to agree with his assesment?

Also re: the USSR & China, they were nuclear-armed superpowers posing an existential threat to the United States itself. Iran is a regional power that poses some potential threat to some regional allies of ours, and at a lower level interferes with things happening in neighbouring countries to an extent we don't like.

The imperative to talk is much smaller with Iran. Not zero of course. But not the same as the need to talk to someone who possesses the weaponry to wipe the US off the face of the globe.

"I'd e.g. say our relationship with Saudi Arabia - propping up a corrupt & repressive dictatorship because they have a lot of oil and pretend to like us - isn't exactly a shining example of the potential for America to do good in the world, or an model to be imitated in future."

Agree in some respects, but the answer would lie somewhere between undertaking covert ops to topple the regime - including backing terrorist groups (MEK), and propping up the hardline version of the Iranian regime.

"I also think that as time has passed since the election, the facts of what has happened have now been firmly established and are hard to write off as American fabrications or influence, and so that particular risk to the democracy movement from American support should have diminished."

I think, like pithy on another thread, that the bigger risk is encouraging an uprising that gets brutally beaten back - ala the Shiites in southern Iraq in the early 1990s and the Hungarians in the 1950s. In fact, the Shiites have not forgotten this, nor forgiven us.

That being said, there is still a risk (though less so now) of being labeled American pawns if Obama made it about America from the get go. That is still a damaging association.

"At a time when our military has little flexibility to deal with a third front."

Wouldn't invading Iran actually make it one front?

"Wouldn't invading Iran actually make it one front?"

Ha.

"The imperative to talk is much smaller with Iran. Not zero of course. But not the same as the need to talk to someone who possesses the weaponry to wipe the US off the face of the globe."

I don't disagree. But if the argument is that Iran is not that big a deal, fine. But the CW is that Iran must not be allowed to get nukes, is an existential threat to Israel, etc. I just don't want the worst of both worlds with respect to that.

"This is an interesting point. What kind of thing would have to happen at the negotiations for you to agree with his assesment?"

Unwillingness of the Iranian regime to accept security guarantees and some economic inducements (club membership) as a fair trade off for real safeguards on weaponization of uranium. Further, a refusal to cooperate if the peace process picks up real momentum. For example.

Jacob, although the Middle East is a great place for holding grudges, I doubt the modernists in Iran will hold much of a grudge simply because we didn't say enough nice things about them. It's not as though they want us to invade, and we're not embracing the regime the way we did the Shah, far from it.

You're right that Russia or China could hurt us more with A-bombs than Iran can by disrupting the world oil supply -- but that's a little like saying it's more important to avoid a bullet in the head than a stab in the belly. Sure, one is worse than the other, but nobody sane would invite either one.

"I doubt the modernists in Iran will hold much of a grudge simply because we didn't say enough nice things about them."

Less about grudges (in this case) since we're not associated with the despots in question (as you noted) but more about effecting a change in orientation toward the US in young people in Iran, by not being perceived to have just shrugged in the face of the repression of their democratic reform movement.

How much that matters depends on how likely you think an eventual demographically-driven transition to a reformed Iran is. I obviously think it is inevitable, but I'm an optimist (and not much of a realist).

Moralism vs. realpolitik is an old issue in foreign relations (cf The Crusades). I've asked many a wingnut to join me in advocating a military invasion of Saudi Arabia. So far no takers.

As for Iran...if the shoe was on the other foot, how would YOU feel? The failure to conceive of a world in which the U.S. is no longer the top dog\800 lb. gorilla is a stunning shortcoming when most of us discuss these kinds of issues.

While Eric is totally correct to argue that a best foreign (-or should I say Iranian) policy would be to pursue engagement anyway, I don't think this would be a wise course of action for Obama. The problem is that he must defend his domestic right flank, and there is very real danger that the silly charge of him liking dictators just might stick politically. As we've seen the right has determined that their best chance of staging a comeback is through the destruction of Obama's reputation. They care not whether a charge carries any logic to it, just that it has some chance of working for Joe Sixpack. I just don't think the potential international gains justify the domestic political risk at this time.

Do I like this. No! But there are many issues that we need Obama to be sucessful at. He clearly will fail, if he pursues them all. He has to prioritize, and choose on the basis of benefit/risk ratio. IMO Iran engagement scores too low on this metric, to be worth pursuing at this time. Basically this is just another way of saying that he should choose his battles very carefully.

Omega,

So only Republicans can turn their back on decades of shrill 'generally accepted' rhetoric? I give you Nixon and China.

One much more reasonable reason to object to the possibility of a nuclearly armed Iran is that both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are expected to start nuclear programs of their own in that case => a spreading nuclear arms race in an already volatile region. I'd even go so far as to say that Iran would be the least dangerous with nukes (i.e. most unlikely to use them, sell them to terrorists, or lose one by theft).

"Everything I read by Larison make me dislike him more and it doesnt' surprise me that the American Conservative runs him.

About those new Nixon tapes, one thing I agree with Nixon on and I'm saying this as a non-Jew: There is a LOT of anti-semitism out there - more than some people realize - and some of the focus on necons and Israel derives from this, especially from the "libertarian" anti-war.com and Pat Buchanan's American Conservative."

That's an interesting segue--I assume it's a way of accusing Larison of being an anti-Semite without coming right out and saying it. He writes for the American Conservative and like a lot of people is interested in the I/P conflict and evidently takes a position on it that differs from yours. QED.

Since this is the latest Iran thread:
The tragic farce around Neda's death proceeds.
It seems that her family has been forced to leave their flat and move away. Neda's body was not returned to the family and buried without their participation. The neighbours have been threatened not to show any sign of mourning and the police is patrolling the area, so nobody else could.
Some state media have claimed that Neda was a Basiji member murdered by the protesters and is a martyr of the government side!!!
Do they actually believe they can make a Kirov out of her???

Donald Johnson:

"That's an interesting segue--I assume it's a way of accusing Larison of being an anti-Semite without coming right out and saying it. He writes for the American Conservative and like a lot of people is interested in the I/P conflict and evidently takes a position on it that differs from yours. "

Evidently b/c I'm critical of him? Actually I'm very critical of Israel and think Larison and anti-Semites isolationists like Pat Buchanan just damage the Palestinians' cause.


PK:

Do you want to argue that Larison is an anti-Semite? That's a very serious charge. Do you want to present evidence to back that up?

The point I was attempting to make is that Nixon was right in those new tapes in a way, there is a TON of anti-semitism in America, more than most people like yourself seem to realize. The shooting at the Holocaust museum is a recent example even thought the guy was 88. Larison and Buchanan are from that swamp however well they cover themselves.

And I say this as a non-Jew who agrees this doesn't validate Israeli settlements or bombing Lebanon or Gaza etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/world/middleeast/04iran.html?scp=37&sq=Moussavi%20June%203&st=cse

"Published: June 3, 2009
TEHRAN — A moderate politician who is considered the strongest challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran accused him on live television on Wednesday of undermining the nation’s interest by constantly questioning the Holocaust and by engaging in an adventurist foreign policy.

The sharp attacks by the candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, came during a fierce 90-minute debate with Mr. Ahmadinejad that was broadcast throughout Iran. The two candidates clashed repeatedly during the one-on-one debate, with each accusing the other of radicalism and undercutting the country’s interest.

Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister whose moderate views have won him support from other reformers in Iran, including former President Mohammad Khatami, has positioned himself as the strongest challenger to Mr. Ahmadinejad. Support from the Islamic authorities for the president, who is a religious conservative, appears to have weakened, and he is now widely criticized for Iran’s economic malaise.

With the presidential election to be held June 12, Mr. Moussavi was on the offensive during the debate, which was broadcast by state-run television. At one point he accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of moving Iran toward “dictatorship.” At another, he said that the president’s foreign policy suffered from “adventurism, illusionism, exhibitionism, extremism and superficiality.”

He also took issue with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s constant questioning of the Holocaust, saying that it harmed the country’s standing with the rest of the world and undermined its dignity. “For the past four years you kept saying that the United States is collapsing,” Mr. Moussavi said. “You have said Israel is collapsing. France is collapsing.”

He added, “Your foreign policies have been based on such illusional perceptions.”
---

Still say that foreign policy wasn't a factor in the election? Or do you admit you were wrong?

http://larison.org/2008/01/16/my-noxious-views/

"Still say that foreign policy wasn't a factor in the election? Or do you admit you were wrong?"

But I never said it wasn't a factor!! Don't put words in my mouth. What I said was that it wasn't the deciding factor. I wasn't even discussing "foreign policy" in general. In my post, I said this which you said was badly wrong:

The election in Iran was not decided around issues of engagement with America vs. not, or pursuit of a nuclear program vs. abandonment

You said, and I quote, "This is just wrong. And badly wrong. Foreign policy was at least as important in the election as domestic affairs."

One passage from a debate does not prove this. Not even close. It proves that the topic came up in a debate (that also touched on the economy, domestic politics, etc).

And are you going to provide any evidence that Larison is an anti-semite or not? You haven't done so yet.

No you said

"Rather, it was a contest between factions of elites concerned primarily with domestic and economic matters - not to mention Khamenei's insecurity at the surprising size and scope of the burgeoning reform movement that he wanted to stop in its tracks, which speaks to Larison's argument. "

Biased with a certain ideological viewpoint.

"You said, and I quote, "This is just wrong. And badly wrong. Foreign policy was at least as important in the election as domestic affairs.""

You're arguing semantics and splitting hairs. You said "primarily" domestic, when things exploded after that TV debate.

http://larison.org/2008/01/16/my-noxious-views/


Peter, that Larison link does not contain any evidence of anti-semitism. Posting it multiple times will not change that.

And yes, I said it was primarily a matter of internal Iranian politics. But that does not mean that foreign policy wasn't "A" factor. That's not splittting hairs. That's just the English language.

You, on the other hand, disagreed and said that foreign policy was as much or more of a factor. I asked for evidence and you didn't provide it.

Things exploded after the TV debate because A-Jad got personal and went after Mousavi's wife!!! That's not foreign policy. Nor is it semantics.

To repeat: foreign policy was a factor, of course. But the competing factions were primarily concerned with domestic matters and besting each other.

"Peter, that Larison link does not contain any evidence of anti-semitism. Posting it multiple times will not change that."

You didn't know Lincoln was Jewish?

(I think it's fair to call Pat Buchanan an antisemite, among his many failings, for what that's worth; but guilt-by-association only goes so far.)

I read your link, PeterK. Anti-semitism doesn't really come into it--the issue you raise is the Confederate sympathy one.

I despise the Confederacy and the romanticizing of the Confederacy--I grew up around people who did this and many were racists. Others, I think, were people loyal to their subculture who didn't want to face up to some of the ugly facts about its past--that's a pretty common human trait. Larison seems to be one of the latter , but he also seems to be a sincere believer in the notion that centralized government is wrong and wars that kill hundreds of thousands of people are unjustified except in self defense. In the comments he links his objection to the Civil War to his objection to the Iraq War. I can respect that, even if I disagree. The Civil War is, IMO, a tough call--I'd leave it to the historians to discuss its legal justification but its only moral justification was the fact that it led to the abolition of slavery. However, that wasn't the motivation for Lincoln when he chose to suppress the rebellion. I am happy with the notion that the right to secede is a dead constitutional issue, but all the same, if there'd been enough abolitionist sentiment in the North it could have been the Northern states that would have tried to secede over the Fugitive Slave Act and then I'd be sympathetic to the seceders.

I haven't lived down South in a long time, but the people I knew who were Confederate romanticizers were in many cases (not all) racists, and I think somewhat militaristic in their attitudes. For instance, they'd have supported the Vietnam War and nowadays they probably started out thinking the Iraq War was great. Larison appears to object to the Civil War for the same reasons he objects to Iraq. And he says slavery was a repugnant institution, so I'm going to take him at his word.

One of his commenters, otoh, does bring up the Nazis in a way that makes my hair stand on end.

Vaguely relevant -- but only vaguely, because, as I said, guilt-by-association only goes so far -- but a major reason I've never managed to cotton onto enthusiasm for antiwar.com as site -- despite being, as a rule, antiwar, myself -- are the ravings of the founder, Justin Raimondo, a true proto-fascist full-on acolyte of Pat Buchanan (he gave the official nomination speech for Buchanan's nomination for President at the Reform Party's convention); Raimondo is a full-on supporter of Japan and Germany during WWII and has written at tremendously length as to the evils of the U.S. fighting them because the causes of Japan and Germany were so correct. He's a huge supporter of America First and the views of Charles Lindbergh. Etc., etc.

Not to mention that Zionism is "Israeli national socialism" and "That the Israelis had some significant foreknowledge and involvement in the events preceding 9/11 seems beyond dispute," along with a lot of other views about the involvement of Israel in 9/11, and that a Jewish Scientist Was Behind The Anthrax Attacks. Etc., etc. He's written about this at great length, even whole books:

The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection is now available from iUniverse.

In the meantime, practically everything we know about this recurring story -- which the authorities dismiss as an "urban myth" -- is contained in The Terror Enigma. The evidence for Israeli foreknowledge of 9/11, all of it gleaned from "mainstream" sources, is extensive and fully documented. Where there's this much smoke, there's bound to be at least some fire -- and, on those general principles alone, the book, I think, deserves to become a best-seller.

All of which views, and more, I think are taking the principles of antiwar rather too far.

I've discussed this, with lots of examples, here, here, here, and here, among other posts in the past.

So I have trouble working up enthusiasm for Justin Raimondo's website, though I don't regard all writers for it as responsible for Raimondo's crazed and hateful views, of course. On the other hand, I don't think much of their choosing to associate themselves with this stuff.

Crap. Typepad isn't posting my comment again. How's that move to another platform coming along today?

I'll try putting a couple of my links into a separate post.

Vaguely relevant -- but only vaguely, because, as I said, guilt-by-association only goes so far -- but a major reason I've never managed to cotton onto enthusiasm for antiwar.com as site -- despite being, as a rule, antiwar, myself -- are the ravings of the founder, Justin Raimondo, a true proto-fascist full-on acolyte of Pat Buchanan (he gave the official nomination speech for Buchanan's nomination for President at the Reform Party's convention); Raimondo is a full-on supporter of Japan and Germany during WWII and has written at tremendously length as to the evils of the U.S. fighting them because the causes of Japan and Germany were so correct. He's a huge supporter of America First and the views of Charles Lindbergh. Etc., etc.

Not to mention that Zionism is "Israeli national socialism" and "That the Israelis had some significant foreknowledge and involvement in the events preceding 9/11 seems beyond dispute," along with a lot of other views about the involvement of Israel in 9/11, and that a Jewish Scientist Was Behind The Anthrax Attacks. Etc., etc. He's written about this at great length, even whole books:

The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection is now available from iUniverse.

In the meantime, practically everything we know about this recurring story -- which the authorities dismiss as an "urban myth" -- is contained in The Terror Enigma. The evidence for Israeli foreknowledge of 9/11, all of it gleaned from "mainstream" sources, is extensive and fully documented. Where there's this much smoke, there's bound to be at least some fire -- and, on those general principles alone, the book, I think, deserves to become a best-seller.

All of which views, and more, I think are taking the principles of antiwar rather too far.

I've discussed this, with lots of examples, here, here, [AND SEE NEXT POST FOR NEXT TWO LINKS] among other posts in the past.

So I have trouble working up enthusiasm for Justin Raimondo's website, though I don't regard all writers for it as responsible for Raimondo's crazed and hateful views, of course. On the other hand, I don't think much of their choosing to associate themselves with this stuff.

From the middle of my previous comment, sigh: see here, and here.

Larison, Buchanan and Raimondo aren't outright crazies like the shooter at the Holocaust museum, but they flirt with crazy ideas.

So people who are antiwar agree with them about some things and that's fine, but it just bothers me to see people like Andrew Sullivan link to Larison repeatedly, like he's some authority.

My original point about the new insane Nixon tapes I think still stands: when he says the Jewish leaders don't understand how much anti-semitism is out there in America - and Nixon would know! - his point that they should stop provoking is wrong, but I think he's right that there's more out there than you might think judging by popular culture. Not that this excuses Israel's bad behavior.

I don't doubt the existence of anti-Semitism. Nor do I doubt the resilience of racism.

I grew up in a suburban region of Long Island where towns were segregated largely on the basis of religion/ethnicicy.

Being the knee-jerk liberal that I am, I had and still have many friends from different towns/different religions/different ethnicities.

And I was constantly getting into battles because of the pervasiveness of bigotry around the horn. But the town in which I grew up was particularly vile when it came to anti-semitism. So I've seen it up close and personal.

"My original point about the new insane Nixon tapes I think still stands: when he says the Jewish leaders don't understand how much anti-semitism is out there in America - and Nixon would know! - his point that they should stop provoking is wrong, but I think he's right that there's more out there than you might think judging by popular culture. Not that this excuses Israel's bad behavior."

That's almost certainly true. Anti-semitism is one of those hatreds that's gone mostly underground, so that one doesn't see it in popular culture. I see it in comments sections at some blogs I read on I/P issues, though of course there you'd expect, given the subject matter, it's going to attract a few unpleasant types. And I hear it on rare occasions in real life.

Eric, it seems to me that your argument contains, as an unstated premise, that the United States and Iran should engage in negotiations because their relationship has problems that accommodation at the policy level can solve. if those issues include nuclear weapons, Iran already has a stated policy of rejecting a nuclear option as un-Islamic. On the big issue, that of proliferation, that doesn't leave a lot to talk about. The only remaining issues have to do with trust, and trust has a lot to do with the perception Americans have of the Iranian government, and that perception will only get more definite if the conservatives put down the street protests.

Iraq needs to talk with Iran. The Gulf states need to talk to Iran. The whole region needs to include Iran in some kind of comprehensive peace agreement with Israel. Iran can settle some of these issues at the policy level, without trusting or liking the people they deal with. I just don't know how many issues like this the United States has with Iran.

Eric, it seems to me that your argument contains, as an unstated premise, that the United States and Iran should engage in negotiations because their relationship has problems that accommodation at the policy level can solve. if those issues include nuclear weapons, Iran already has a stated policy of rejecting a nuclear option as un-Islamic. On the big issue, that of proliferation, that doesn't leave a lot to talk about.

Well, to evoke the old standard, it's a question of trust but verify. I think the solution would be to offer Iran something in return for Iran's willingness to accept a certain level of international monitoring/other safeguards to ensure that Iran does not weaponize their uranium.

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