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April 21, 2010

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The nucular march goes on.....we have stopped absolutely nobody determined to acquire them from obtaining them: USSR, China, France, India, Pakistan, N. Korea. We winked and allowed Israel to get the bomb. I'd write off Libya's dropping the effort as more or less their decision that it just wasn't worth the cost and effort.

If Iran really wants to join the nuclear club, they will get past our black ball sooner or later.

So Obama's critics on the right go about either re-writing, or writing off, recent history

politicians are political.

I have difficulty thinking that the possibility of engagement didn't die with last years Iranian election and crackdown on dissent. Not only has that turn of events made engagement politically risky for US political actors, but for the Iranian government it has also necessitated the pumping up of the American/Israeli threat in order to divert attention away from domestic dissent. So politically, hostility towards each other is an imperative for whomever is running either government.

I agree with you about the end goal being both unrealistic, and based upon a massive overestimation of the danger of yet one more nuclear power. Frankly I find the prospect of a Persian bomb far less frightening than a Pakistani bomb, or even the Chinese bomb. And we seem perfectly capable of shrugging these off. It is mainly our irrational Iranophobia that is driving this. Add in the very real the fear for domestic political actors of running afoul of AIPAC and its hard to imagine any sort of progress being made.

the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability,

Worse still, the US is making no progress on a practical anti-gravity generator.

Just waiting for AIPAC to trot out John Bolton onto the airwaves again... been a while since I had a laugh.

What is the problem? With the domestic terror that our government has unleashed on us a little bomb here and there might do some good. The difference the previous person seemed to discount is the fact that China and Pakistan have not threatened anybody with genocide like Iran has. It seems as if the 911 strike on the USA has already worn off so when the next strike comes all we can do is pray it doesn't eliminate the USA completely. There is no other end game that can be summarized about this administration than its intent to destroy the USA as it was intended by the founding fathers. This category is really moot in the wind of whats important to our survival and the type of logic that lends to the advancement of other nuclear powers. Seems to be of no consequence to those of you that are so naive you don't believe it could happen. There is nothing that cannot be prevented but the now defunct United States Government has no idea how to run our armed forces let alone prevent anything. The promotion of there own power over the people is the only thing that this governments actions have provided.

Who ordered that set of talking points?
DNFTT

whew. that's some crazy sh!t there, John G.

"There is nothing that cannot be prevented." That's right spunky of you JohnG, but I'd be willing to bet a good deal of money that when it comes to poverty you would aver this absolute principle somehow does not apply.

and take the necessary steps to begin to explore a way to forge a workable modus vivendi that would do much to obviate Iran's desire to obtain the deterrent effect of near-nuclear weapons capacity (or at least reduce anxiety if it eventually did regardless).

I don't have time to unpack this entirely. Substantively, it seems to mean "maybe there is a way to make Iran happy and cause it to forgo nukes, but if there isn't, at least the way will let us sleep better at night."

Pointing to Pakistan's nukes is a red herring--of course they are cause for huge concern. Nukes in the hands of any government that is one bullet away (speaking figuratively) from regime change is always cause for huge concern.

But, as Gates points out, the missing strategy is that for dealing with Iran, you know, the 'game-changer' Obama spoke of as a candidate.

Eric assumes Iranian intent is limited to deterrence. Based on what? Seems more like wishful thinking than reasoned, evidence-based analysis.

Minimalist, incremental 'sanctions' have not and likely will not work. An embargo--if it's an act of war, it's one that leaves firing the first shot to Iran and also leaves Iran the out of rethinking its position--is only a theoretical option since we lack the resources and the allies to make it work.

Whether there is a bribe large enough and palatable enough to put Iran's nuclear program to rest is also largely theoretical.

What is needed is a coherent containment strategy backed by the resources (military resources) to act decisively if Iran should ever use or threaten to use its nukes.

However, the risk in saying, in effect, "ok, you win, you get your nukes, but listen carefully, we will not tolerate further aggression on your part, particularly nuclear aggression" is that, much like German rearmament and reoccupation of the Ruhr, having acquiesced so much over such a relatively long period of time, our credibility is low, and likely to get even lower.

One valid point Eric makes is that we are spread way too thin. Another point, not raised, is that our current force structure isn't geared to the kind of activity in which we find ourselves enmeshed.

Obama put a tentative time limitation on staying in Afghanistan. He should put all of his energy into making that reality. It is time to get out of Iraq. I don't have a handle on how that can be done reasonably, but maximum deliberate speed seems like the soundest course. Once disengaged, the temptation on the left will be to cut back on defense spending. Unless and until Iran/Pakistan/N Korea et al have lain down with the lamb, we have no choice but to maintain if not increase current defense outlays (by that I mean increase what we are spending maintaining our current force levels, less the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan).

Eric assumes Iranian intent is limited to deterrence. Based on what? Seems more like wishful thinking than reasoned, evidence-based analysis.

Well, for starters, there's this recent Department of Defense Report. I'll quote:

Since the revolution, Iran’s first priority has consistently remained the survival of the regime [...]

Iran also seeks to become the strongest and most influential country in the Middle East and to influence world affairs. The theocratic leadership’s ideological goal is to be able to export its theocratic form of government, its version of Shia Islam, and stand up for the “oppressed” according to their religious interpretations of the law. In recent years, Iran’s ideological goals have taken a back seat to pragmatic considerations.

To ensure regime survival, Iran’s security strategy is based first on deterring an attack. [...]

Iran’s military strategy is designed to defend against external or “hard” threats from the United States and Israel. Iran’s principles of military strategy include deterrence, asymmetrical retaliation, and attrition warfare. Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.

And this, in turn, is consistent with the 2007 NIE on Iran's nuclear program.

In fact, there is just about zero evidence to suggest otherwise. Unless you, McT, have reasoned, evidence based analysis to the contrary?

However, the risk in saying, in effect, "ok, you win, you get your nukes, but listen carefully, we will not tolerate further aggression on your part, particularly nuclear aggression" is that, much like German rearmament and reoccupation of the Ruhr, having acquiesced so much over such a relatively long period of time, our credibility is low, and likely to get even lower.

Huh? Further aggression? The Iranian regime has invaded a total of ZERO countries since it was founded in 1979. That's 31 years of zero invasions, and you compare that to Hitler's endless conquests?

That's a stretch.

One last thought on "acquiesced": Since the early 1990s, the US has fought three massive wars in countries neighboring Iran - one to repel an act of aggression (Gulf I), one to react to an act of aggression (Afghanistan) and one to...preventitively attack a potential aggressor.

You think Iranians are thinking: the US has no credibility when it threatens to use force?

I think the much more logical conclusion is: the US has fought 3 wars in the past 20 years alone against neighboring states, and let's try to do our best to make sure we're not the 4th.

Also, forgot the link to the DoD report:

http://www.politico.com/static/PPM145_link_042010.html

You know, if Hell exists, and Hitler is in it, I wonder if part of his torture is having these ceaseless comparisons of Iran to the Third Reich piped into his room. I was actually oddly hopeful when the whole "They're forcing Jews in Iran to wear armbands!" fake story du jour erupted, since I thought it would at least require some acknowledgment that there are still Jews living in Iran, and not in concentration camps, even with a completely deranged government that wants to exterminate all the Jews. Either that's not quite an accurate portrayal of the Iranian government's thinking, or they're woefully incompetent. Alas, as always, I underestimated the ability of the modern American Right to believe six mutually exclusive things before breakfast.

There are Jewish legislators in the Iranian regime, in fact.

and not a single atheist legislator in the US.

At least none that are out of the closet.

We'll have to start with an Atheist for Jesus, I think. We can't go straight to a plain old atheist.

Hey, what happened to my link?

We'll have to start with an Atheist for Jesus, I think.

Even without clicking through, it makes more sense than "Jews for Palin."

here

(Not that it's that important. I just needed to make it work.)

"not a single atheist legislator in the US"

Actually, Congressman Pete Stark is an atheist. Also: my Representative here in San Leandro. Also: prone to ill-tempered outbursts, obscenity, and personal insults. Which I guess I'm supposed to think is a bad thing, but actually find quite endearing, being something of a crank myself.

Anyway, carry on.

Actually, Congressman Pete Stark is an atheist.

i stand corrected. we are more tolerant than Iran after all!

Here's an idea:

Why don't we make all atheists wear a patch with the flying spaghetti monster on it?

... or we could just throw them in jail.

Actually, Congressman Pete Stark is an atheist.

So much for the meme about religious people being intolerant ...

Intolerance does not need religion as an incentive but it clearly helps.

So, to sum up: the U.S. Secretary of "Defense" believes that the U.S. cannot stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon (assuming that it wants to and intends to) and therefore the U.S. must get into a fresh war with a much more powerful and strategically significant enemy than the wars which the United States is currently losing.

Tell me, pray, if Bill Clinton could be impeached for using his influence to organise consensual sex, why can't a more junior political leader get impeached for trying to get his country to pursue psychopathically insane and suicidal policies?

Pure curiosity.

Why do you assume that Gates wants war?

I think it is likely the opposite. Gates, if you recall, was one of the forces putting the brakes on the Bush admin's war lust.

Quite the opposite, I think Gates is laying the groundwork for an inevitability, and our ability to live with it.

Although, mind you, I don't think Iran will actually develope a weapon, just bring themselves to the brink of weaponhood, so they would be close enough should the need arise/plus enjoy the benefits of uncertainty in potential aggressors.

Eric: Why do you assume that Gates wants war?

The longer there's war, the less likely anyone in the US military - including Gates, of course - will be held responsible for torturing prisoners?

Or, if the idea of American torturers ever being held criminally liable is just too absurd by now, perhaps because letting on the idea that the US needs to deal with the "problem" of oil-rich countries in a military fashion, means just business as usual for senior US military commanders.

After all, if anyone seriously examined the theory that the US military is absolutely essential and must suffer no cuts whatsoever because otherwise how can the US be a global power, the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would seem to indicate otherwise.

Better just to go "On to Iran!" now Iraq has been properly destroyed.

The longer there's war, the less likely anyone in the US military - including Gates, of course - will be held responsible for torturing prisoners?

Then it is odd that Gates opposes military action against Iran.

After all, if anyone seriously examined the theory that the US military is absolutely essential and must suffer no cuts whatsoever because otherwise how can the US be a global power, the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would seem to indicate otherwise.

Yes, Gates has asked for cuts to the Pentagon budget and claimed that State should be getting more and the DOD less. He was integral in killing several high priced, big ticket weapons systems. So, again, you're not really addressing the current context so much as making a speech.

Better just to go "On to Iran!" now Iraq has been properly destroyed.

Again, Gates OPPOSES military action against Iran.

In essence, the merry go round is going to fast to change direction and too slow to effect change. Time for everyone to hop off and start pushing the other direction. The question therefore is not how to prevent Iran from going nuclear but rather, how to manage the ramifications of that eventuality, For what it's worth, I think Jo... I mean Eric is right about Iran getting to the one yard line before calling an indefinite time out. There are few, if any, real existential threats out there besides what we choose to do ourselves in response to despots like Ahmadinejad or bunglers like AQ. Am wondering though, who will be harder to convince of this, us or Israel. In the end, an nuclear Iran means more to Israel than to us, so any paradigm shift in policy needs to begin with them. Then again, I write this with a bout of insomnia and two gulps of nyquil so...

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