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December 17, 2009

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...and even though he's not the decision maker...

Ahem ... don't you mean "the decider?"

This may be a quibble*, but I would think there's a reasonable difference between reacting to what a government (leader, arm, etc.) talks about, vs what an independent media outlet talks about.

If you want to make the case that an Iranian wouldn't understand or believe that said opinion column was not a reflection of government policy, but rather of a free press, that's certainly valid up to a point. It does not mean that newspapers should act as though they were right.

*not a tribble

**PS My apologies for not getting back to this until now -- last couple of days have been a little nuts...

Point: that's a good one.

There is a difference betweeen elected leaders and newspapers.

On the other hand, John McCain sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" while he was a sitting Senator campaigning to be President.

"There is a difference between elected leaders and newspapers."

If Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin (from the WAPO op-ed page) chant "Bomb Iran" from their unelected perches, I think we can pretty well take it for granted now that the entire elected edifice of the Republican Party has spoken as well.

The former are PRAVDA and the latter are the Politburo.

The methods of our external enemies and those of our internal enemies have converged.

Imagine if the Pakistani media called for using their nuclear arsenal on the U.S. Would we feel relieved if Pakistani politicians denied there was such a plan.


"On the other hand, John McCain sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" while he was a sitting Senator campaigning to be President."

Point well taken. If there is a decent defense for the Maverick, I can't think of one.

"Imagine if the Pakistani media called for using their nuclear arsenal on the U.S."

What are the specifics -- is the Ministry of information and Broadcasting promoting this call, or a key player in the story's dissemination? Or is it an independent faction of the media, that the MIB is struggling to know how to respond to?

If media players are beating the drum, and the government is speaking against the idea, what does that say about the said media players' power?

My take away from this hypothetical is that it's more than possible (depending on government relations at the time) that the response (at least by those not eager for war with Pakistan) will be to see this as a PR problem among the Pakistani people.

That last paragraph is pure gold.

Indeed it is. Shall we laugh or cry?

"That last paragraph is pure gold.

Indeed it is. Shall we laugh or cry?"

We should sigh in disbelief. As a child of the Cold War, I react to the cavalier discussions of many things, including bombing anyone, with a certain disbelief.

We are now generations from the constant fear and reality of imminent mutually assured destruction. Our enemies feel that every day. We should not forget how it feels to live with abiding fear or their reaction to it.

Our reaction was to make sure we had the means to destroy anyone who tried, so why do we expect them to act any differently?

Interestingly, the people who are still the most vocal are the ones that lived with that fear, because we often still feel the need to point out it wouldn't be good to attack us. We also worry that the next generations don't fear enough, an odd conundrum.

However unlikely it might be, that fear of attack is not going to go away for my generation. 9/11 was just enough proof for our psyche to bring it all back.

Yes, it's ultimately about fear. And my oh my is fear a useful political tool.

Marty: well put.

There is also the question of the ability to deal with one's fears. Having grown up in a Cold War hot spot (Western Berlin) I was aware of the 'danger' but did not cower in fear (despite being a coward by nature). If at all worried it was iirc about irrational behaviour on the Western not the Eastern side. The fear of being sold to Ivan (so popular in the decades before*) had (as far as I remember) completely disappeared.
Even if I assumed that Iran had nuclear tipped ICBMs at her disposal, it would not have much influence on my life. If I were in Israel my fear would be more about being blown up (or shot) rather conventionally or the government going completely over the edge (now Netanyahoo begins to look like a moderate in his RW government, so the fear would be well grounded in reality).

*At times there was Bavarian encouragement for that because they did not like to pay for Berlin subsidies.

I felt the need to share with you the story of Jason Bromby, a 28-year-old British diplomat who has gone missing in China. This is very scary. Read more about it:

www.maolovesyou.com

Spread the word, something needs to be done.

Ahmadinejad is not running Iran, he reports to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. In fact, the Revolutionary Guards seem to be competing very hard for power against the Supreme Leader.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have made Holocaust Denial part of their official policy. These are not the moves of normal, healthy minds. The ideology and foreign policy of Pakistan and of Iran are quite different. Iran's leaders are quite apocalyptic.

The name of the game is oil monopoly. Saddam tried for it and now Iran is clearly making a play to use nuclear weapons to get a unified control of Mideast oil. The next step is domination beyond the oil patch, to Israel, Europe, and beyond. As far as they can go. They're on a mission from God, remember?

There is no option not to play. However post-modern and enlightened western leaders wish to be, the world out there is scrapping for power. You have a choice of US domination or the Ayatollahs. Your actions are your decision.

For them, the clock is ticking; At some point the oil money slows to a trickle. They want to be in a more powerful position by then.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have made Holocaust Denial part of their official policy

How?

These are not the moves of normal, healthy minds.

Huh? Governments engage propaganda for all sorts of reasons, most of the normal and rational. The US government has too you know.

The ideology and foreign policy of Pakistan and of Iran are quite different.

Of course there are differences. That's tautological. But Pakistan's is worse in many ways. And similar in many ways. In particular, nurturing violent jihadists groups that attack US interests, though Pakistan's groups include al-Qaeda. That seems much worse.

Iran's leaders are quite apocalyptic

No moreso than our own. And that apocalyptic leadership shows every bit as rational an instinct for self-preservation as any. As just one small example, they accepted a truce with Saddam. Why would apocalyptic leaders do that and not keep fighting? Why haven't they wrecked themselves on Israeli shores yet? Odd.

The name of the game is oil monopoly. Saddam tried for it and now Iran is clearly making a play to use nuclear weapons to get a unified control of Mideast oil.

Clearly? Evidence should abound then. Provide some.

Iran has very limited means for massive, international conquest, and nukes aren't going to change that. Nor have they shown the inclination. They were more expansionist under the Shah.

The next step is domination beyond the oil patch, to Israel, Europe, and beyond. As far as they can go.

Wow. That gives hyperbole a bad name. Makes scaremongering seem tame.

You have a choice of US domination or the Ayatollahs

See above. That's laughable. Iran...taking over the United States. After the Middle East. And Europe. China too I presume. A country with a struggling, middling economy and a small, technologically inferior military. And a relatively small population.

Wow. Just wow.

Fred -- "Apocalyptic" and power-hungry are two very different things, I would think.

The local Arab states are reacting very strongly to Iran's bid for domination. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordon have announced increases in tensions and nuclear development in response. These guys live there and they understand the Middle East. When Iran says it wants to be a "Regional Power" what do you think they mean? They mean oil and the nearby states. And oil domination means global power, and enough money to build up their military even further.

We have a choice of US domination or the Ayatollahs over the oil patch and a some chunk of the rest of the world. Not over the US, militarily. Sorry to be unclear. Conversion of the US to Islam is a long-term goal, though; They're clear on that. And manipulating the West with an oil monopoly is a top priority.

Accepting a truce with Saddam just means they want to win. I'm not saying Iran is trying to commit suicide as soon as possible. Just that if the prize is big enough, they'll chance it. There are real differences between our cultures in the attitudes toward death.

Pakistan is worried mainly about India. Iran has been shouting "Death to America" for 30 years. Their world view toward the West is the crucial difference.

Obviously, Iran can't invade China or the US. But unchecked nuclear weapons development could enable them to capture the bulk of mid-east oil.

Iran presents two main threats: regional domination leading to a wider imperial role, and first use of nuclear weapons. Neither one permits the rest of the world to live in peace.

And repeating "Wow" is just a way to avoid reality.

Very few countries can project their military any reasonable distance beyond their borders. Insofar as Iran wants to be a "regional" power, it means things like influence, the ability to throw their weight around in OPEC, and using Shi'ite minorities in other countries to serve as proxies for Iran's interests.

Fred, when you try to claim both that Iran is seeking to become a regional power in the middle east and that it's an apocalyptic crazy place willing to create worldwide destruction, it comes across less that you're trying to make a plausible argument and more like you're trying to create some propaganda to foment fear and discord in the hopes of getting people to run into the arms of the neoconservative hawks.

@Tyro:
Both aspects, apocalyptic war, and 'Normal' imperialism, are at work. Some people see one end, some the other. I see a mixture. A nation is a complex thing with different people and groups pushing this way and that.

Some have argued that nuclear war is not Iran's intent, just regional domination. I've been arguing that neither is acceptable. That's another reason to discuss both outcomes.

Ahmadinijad is clearly on the apocalyptic end of things. But the growing power of the Revolutionary Guards is more obscure. They are ideological but they have not articulated a foreign policy.

I think a nuclear-armed Iran is more disruptive and dangerous than the force it would take to prevent that, whether it be sanctions or air power.

Note the Israeli actions against the nuclear programs in Iraq at Osirak and the more recent action against Syria did not set the world in a tizzy. The Arab states would be very happy to see Iran's nuclear weapons program stopped.

Whether the program is stopped by neocons or anarchists, I care not. I think Iran is heading us toward nuclear war or at least a new oil-based empire. Both prevent peace.

The one point I would agree with is that Iran getting nuclear weapons would (likely) lead to neighbours trying to get equal => Egypt and Saudi Arabia, maybe even Turkey, trying to obtain nukes too => real destabilisation in the region.
On the other hand noone has helped Iran more in its pursuit of regional dominance than the US under Chain-Eye/Shrub by removing the main obstacles (Saddam and Iraqi nationalism(secular and Sunni)) and supporting factions in Iraq that are (despite claims to the contrary) very friendly towards Tehran.
And as far as the 'oil empire' goes, (some) neocons were not very subtle about the idea of using control of ME oil for the purpose of coercion and extorsison even against allies. There was also open talk about taking the main oil areas (inhabited mainly by Shiites btw) from Saudi Arabia and putting them under the control of the intended Iraqi puppet regime. I see noone actually having benign intentions in the area.
I also think that Iran can cause a lot of trouble (and would be incentivized to do so) even in case of sanctions or air attacks and with no nuclear material involved. My prediction: should Iran be bombed Iraq oil production and export will drop to zero and Saudi installations will come under attack and large scale sabotage too.

OT - Um, super:

Israel harvested organs in ’90s without consent

And no I'm not making that up.

The local Arab states are reacting very strongly to Iran's bid for domination. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordon have announced increases in tensions and nuclear development in response. These guys live there and they understand the Middle East. When Iran says it wants to be a "Regional Power" what do you think they mean? They mean oil and the nearby states. And oil domination means global power, and enough money to build up their military even further.

Sure. There's been tension for decades. And there is an ebb and flow. An arms race is possible, but "oil domination" is a far fetched fantasy. Though I admit that we helped them greatly with the Iraq war.

We have a choice of US domination or the Ayatollahs over the oil patch and a some chunk of the rest of the world.

How will Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and other states feel about our domination? Are they only worried about Iranian domination, but would welcome a western, infidel domination? Odd that.

I'm not saying Iran is trying to commit suicide as soon as possible. Just that if the prize is big enough, they'll chance it.

And the evidence for this is...?

Pakistan is worried mainly about India. Iran has been shouting "Death to America" for 30 years. Their world view toward the West is the crucial difference.

Iran hasn't been shouting that. Some partisans have, while others are enamored with the West. More Iranians have pro-US attitudes than Pakistanis. And whatever Pakistan's concerns, their policies have been more pernicious to the US/West. That is a more crucial difference.

And repeating "Wow" is just a way to avoid reality.

No, it a means of coping with your detachment therefrom.

Some have argued that nuclear war is not Iran's intent, just regional domination

Yes, those are the only two options. Riiiight. Nothing about deterrence or parity with nuclear armed neighbors?

Ahmadinijad is clearly on the apocalyptic end of things.

No moreso than Bush.

But the growing power of the Revolutionary Guards is more obscure. They are ideological but they have not articulated a foreign policy.

This is a legitimate concern, though ironically from your "apocalyptic" talk, the Guards are not as religious. They are increasingly secular.

I think a nuclear-armed Iran is more disruptive and dangerous than the force it would take to prevent that, whether it be sanctions or air power.

Thing is, neither would prevent it. Sanctions won't do a thing except empower the factions you purport to fear, and airstrikes will set the clock back slightly, but make Iran much more entrenched an adversary. Also: lead to much disruption in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Gulf.

Note the Israeli actions against the nuclear programs in Iraq at Osirak and the more recent action against Syria did not set the world in a tizzy. The Arab states would be very happy to see Iran's nuclear weapons program stopped.

It's not the world's tizzy we're concerned with. It's Iran's ability to respond. And the fact that such strikes would only be of limited value in terms of derailing the program. Ironically, the strikes at Osirak actually accelerated Saddam's nuclear program.

I think Iran is heading us toward nuclear war or at least a new oil-based empire. Both prevent peace.

Wow. Just...Wow.

Well, Ugh, because they harvested EVERYONE's organs, including foreign workers, and didn't discriminate by stealing only the organs of Palestinians ... it's going to be good to go with the politically correct religious zombie-as*hole Republicans living at "C" street (as long as Israel wasn't harvesting their mistress's organs), the praying-for-the-death-of-Senator-Byrd-so-he-could-miss-the-healthcare-vote thugs in Congress and South Carolina and Colorado Springs and other zombie basecamps ... it's O.K.

Remember, Obama is Hitler. Obama is Stalin. Obama is Pol Pot. The healthcare bill is the end of the Republic and the call to Redstaters (the official zombie-as*hole website) for violent revolution and the watering of the tree of liberty, etc, blah, blah, blah, zombie grrring.

There is no part of a zombie that can be harvested. It's all rot.

I think that Fred should take a long hard look at the influence of apocalyptic thinking on our foreign policy and on the policies of the leaders of the Republican party. End Times, anyone?

Shorter Fred: BOOGA-BOOGA!

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