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September 19, 2019

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Assuming it was a direct (not by proxy) attack by Iran on the Saudi oil facilities, then it would indeed be an act of war against Saudi Arabia. I understand 'act of war' as the deliberate unfriendly use of force of arms by a recognized state against another (its territory, population or legal property) outside a purely legal context and at a time of nominal peace.

Since, to my knowledge, the US do not have a NATO like defense agreement with Saudi Arabia, the attack cannot be legally construed as an attack by anyone on the US and thus also not as an act of war against the US.

If this was an attack by proxy on SA, the legal situation would be more complicated concerning establishing an 'act of war' case. If this was the Houthis, it was fully justified from their POV since SA is at war with them (while they consider themselves as legitimate contenders for representing their own state). As a major party in a civil war their claim would not necessarily be without merit. But in that case it would be less an 'act of war' (i.e. warlike action during a nominal time of peace) than an 'act in war'.
It could be legally argued that the US are already committing acts of war* in their support of the Saudis in Jemen, in which case even the existence of a mutual defense agreement between the US and SA would render an attack on either by the Houthis an 'act in war' rather than an 'act of war'. Retaliatory acts are not 'acts of war' when a state of war already exists (they may be war crimes though).

To clarify my position a bit, I'd say that neither the sinking of the Lusitania nor the Reuben James were German acts of war against the US. In the former case Americans became collateral damage of a legal (though morally questionable) action in war against Britain (and they were explicitly warned about the danger in advance). In the latter case the identity of the ship was unnown to the attacker and the ship was deliberately involved in warlike action in violation of neutrality (i.e. legally itself in the process of committing acts of war).

*still 'of war' since the US are not formally at war in Jemen.

Yes, the Saudis do have an Air Force. That's who plays with those expensive toys we sell them. Their Air Force is actively engaged in their war in Yemen.

But apparently the Saudis don't want to go up against an opponent (Iran) which is actually capable of self defense. Not to mention striking back. Which is to say, they don't think they're all that good. Besides, from their point of view it's far better to let someone else do the fighting and dying. Just like they hire other people to do their cooking and cleaning -- except they might be able to avoid paying us.

it's just business.

When pressed by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl whether he still thinks that it’s the Saudis responsibility to defend themselves, Trump suggested that if the U.S. were to intervene it would be under the condition that the Kingdom be prepared to pay up.

“This is something much different than other presidents would mention, Jon, but the fact is that the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something,” Trump said. “They’ll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

America doesn’t even have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia.

Would YOU want to be extradicted to Saudi Arabia?

We generally only have extradition treaties with places where we have some reason to think actual justice might be on offer. Which lets the Saudis out.

i'm sure Trump would be happy to sell them one

We have already backed down. There will be no attack on Iran. Pompeo has engineered a major loss of face for the US and emboldened Iran.

It would have been better to accept the Houthi claim. It might even be true.

Trump has no good options, because of his own idiocy. The sensible option for Iran would be for Iran to give the Houthis cruise missiles ( assuming this wasn’t already done). Then all such attacks could be seen as justified retaliation. The only thing America and some of its allies understand is force and this isn’t limited to America under Trump. We will happily bomb or blockade or sanction people ( generally innocent people who have no control over their governments) and it doesn’t really seem to matter much. All fun and games until somebody strikes back.

Hopefully Trump won’t feel sufficiently humiliated to strike back. But he pushed Iran, never dreaming they would see him as a bully who is willing to kill children, but not endanger his re election chances with a war where our soldiers, sailors or gas prices might be at risk.

The bright side here is that Bret Stephens is upset. He wanted a warmonger who knew what he was doing, and all he got was this embarrassing blowhard. ( At least I hope that’s right.)

The only thing America and some of its allies understand is force and this isn’t limited to America under Trump. We will happily bomb or blockade or sanction people ( generally innocent people who have no control over their governments) and it doesn’t really seem to matter much. All fun and games until somebody strikes back.

Who is "America", assuming that "America ... isn't limited to America under Trump"?

Are you "America"? I'm assuming you don't include yourself. I'm not the "America" that you describe. Please explain.

Pompeo has engineered a major loss of face for the US and emboldened Iran.

Pompeo? Seems more like Trump's achievement than Pompeo's. (Doing that sort of thing should perhaps be accounted one of his "core competencies".) Although I suppose Pompeo could be credited with an assist.

The bright side here is that Bret Stephens is upset.

Bedbugs have emotions?

Who is "America", assuming that "America ... isn't limited to America under Trump"?

I'd say it is simply shorthand for 'those in charge of US (foreign) policy'.

The difference between the parties is marginal there and apart from the brief isolationist period between the World Wars (and the Civil War, naturally) the US were always quite happy to trample on people(s) with limited capability to strike back (of course before the World Wars this was standard behaviour of all major powers).

There is no need to publicly endorse the Ledeen doctrine while in reality subscribing to it as most presidents of both parties do/have done.

----

Concerning extradition: remember extraordinary rendition (when in-house torture was still considered bad form)?

The only thing America and some of its allies understand is force

that's not really true.

A good bribe will do too.
I am tempted to quote from Sallust's Bellum Iugurthinum concerning that.
(Sallust btw was himself exactly the type of corrupt Roman he loved to condemn in his writings)

There is no need to publicly endorse the Ledeen doctrine while in reality subscribing to it as most presidents of both parties do/have done.

Nope. Wrong again. If there's an argument for that, you'll have to list the "most presidents" you're talking about.

Ledeen might have been more accurate to say that the desire to attack someone every decade or so applies to neocons (like himself). Which it certainly seems to -- see Bolton, John. Whether it applies to all Presidents, absent an actual attack on us (which is a circumstance outside the scope of his theory), is a harder sell.

"The only thing America and some of its allies understand is force" Me

"that's not really true." Cleek

It's overstated, but it is at least partly true. Our government does things (under Presidents of both parties) that most Americans either don't know about or don't care about (probably a mixture, depending on the person) which we would consider outrageous if done to us or our close allies. Yemen, of course, where our involvement started in 2015 and the issue Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes simply don't talk about in their two recent books about their period in power. MSNBC gave literally 500 times as much coverage to Stormy Daniels as to Yemen in one 12 month period. (FAIR counted.) But also the sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. One doesn't have to defend either government to question the morality of the sanctions. Trump is to blame for both, but sanctions in general which harm ordinary people are the kind of hardship we impose without thinking about it. BDS, in sharp contrast, is a merely symbolic gesture which elicits cries of outrage. If sanctions and/or blockades actually were imposed on Israel via some miraculous means with the sort of severity that is imposed on people in Iran and Gaza it would be front page news every day. (And I would oppose something that brutal--BDS in reality is largely a symbolic publicity-seeking tool). If severe sanctions that dramatically hurt our standard of living were imposed on us we would start blowing things up. Lots of things.

"Who is "America", assuming that "America ... isn't limited to America under Trump"?

Are you "America"? I'm assuming you don't include yourself. I'm not the "America" that you describe. Please explain."

See above. But this goes back decades. I would argue Republicans are generally worse (with individual exceptions), but America has supported brutal allies and committed brutal acts under both parties. East Timor was a classic example. In Latin America the Democrats were generally the good guys, but not entirely. Carter was not great in El Salvador his final year, though his ambassador Robert White did express outrage. He was horrific in East Timor. (I hope he didn't know much of what was happening, but he should have. Richard Holbrooke, though, was in charge of that area in the State Department and he was bad.) Both parties have been bad regarding Gaza. Some Democrats supported going into Iraq. I could go on, but it would turn into a discussion/debate about decades of US foreign policy and I am not that interested in doing that.

As for specific people, all of us who know about these things or should know about them are to blame to some extent. It's part of being a citizen in a democracy. You are responsible to some degree for what the country does or has done, even for things before you were born, especially if you benefited from them. I bet you even agree with that. I don't do enough. A few phone calls to politicians, occasional letters to the NYT (I got one published on Yemen last year). Yay for me. But if it is about personal morality, mine doesn't rank high. Arguments online count for zilch.

Or getting back to my original post, let's put it very simply. Would the US government under either Democrats or Republicans (sane ones, that is) have supported the idiotic Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen if, hypothetically, the Houthis had a nice supply of cruise missiles they could fire at Saudi oil facilities? I am guessing that sweet reason would have been employed to discourage them from going forwards. For that matter, even bonesaw might have thought twice.

You can get further with human rights arguments and cruise missile deterrents than with human rights arguments alone.

Donald: Arguments online count for zilch.

Also agreements. But I largely agree with your arguments on foreign policy.

It would have been seen as a great opportunity to sell the Saudis even more defensive missile systems
It also depends on how dependent the US are on Saudi oil (very much in the past, much less if at all now).

Not that I believe that to the case here but in theory such attacks could be advantageous for those interested in higher crude prices. The US government is partially interested in low prices in order to hurt e.g. Venezuela (or Russia). A state highly dependent on oil exports could be tempted to sabotage the output of others. And the Saudis have few actual friends anayway.

"The only thing America and some of its allies understand is force" Me

"that's not really true." Cleek

It's overstated, but it is at least partly true.

"only" vs "at least partly".

sure, it's partly true. every human, American or not (most living creatures in fact) understands force.

One doesn't have to defend either government to question the morality of the sanctions.

no, but one should at least acknowledge that Iran is not an innocent victim here. they've been participating in a lot of murder and mayhem over the years. and there's a reason most countries (especially their neighbors) are terrified of them getting nukes.

the US / Iran relationship is ridiculous. but it's not all the US's fault. Iran is being plenty ridiculous all by itself.

Iran could get out of the sanctions today, if they really wanted to. most of the world would be happy to trade freely with them again. but Iran is apparently more interested in proxy wars, sneak attacks and making nukes.

It's overstated, but it is at least partly true.

You can make a pretty good case that it's at least partially true of EVERY government when it comes to its foreign policy.

How much effort they make to get along with others varies. But the only ones who aren't prepared to fight when they deem it necessary (and "necessary" is pretty flexible) are those who have managed to find a patron who will do their fighting for them. Which is what the Saudis would like America to be when it comes to Iran.

Calculations were made regarding a lot of foreign policy efforts over the years. Some were unmitigated disasters, and for many of them it would be difficult to determine the net gain or loss in terms of peace and prosperity for the relevant parties. A lot of wars have happened, and a lot of war casualties, which Americans have had either nothing to do with, or where we played a peripheral role. In some cases we've been blamed for not doing enough. There are some indefensible wars: Vietnam and Iraq come to mind, and our support for various brutal dictators certainly bears scrutiny (but not without some discussion of what our policy was meant to achieve).

I know that I said here, at some point, that the US has needed to take a break from intervening, if only to avoid constant blame.

As to Donald's 12:30, I entirely agree with his last paragraph, although the farther we get from "democracy" the more difficult it is to take responsibility, especially when foreign policy is designed to help a few families. This is why playing games with elections is not a brilliant move.

One amendment to my 1:43 comment: Johnson's lies and escalation of American troops in Vietnam was indefensible. And, not to defend it here because it was indefensible, but he calculated that if Vietnam fell into the China camp, that Republicans would take power, that foreign policy under Republicans would be less humane, and that the Great Society gains would suffer. He was correct about the Republicans, and their effect on foreign and domestic policy.

Iran could get out of the sanctions today, if they really wanted to.

Yes. I agree. All they have to do is utterly surrender any concept they may have with respect to their own "vital national interests", because apparently they really don't have any.

You should have stopped with "The US/Iran relationship is ridiculous."

he calculated that if Vietnam fell into the China camp

Of course, earlier we had had the chance to have Vietnam (North Vietnam) in our camp. Ho initially approached the US for an alliance, for the simple reason that he didn't trust the Chinese (communists or otherwise) -- a view which has been borne out since on multiple occasions.

Unfortunately, in the 1950s we saw a label "communist" and refused to have anything to do with him. Too bad we didn't figure out that he could be another Tito....

The US has imposed sanctions in one form or another on Iran since the '79 hostage crisis. Perhaps somebody here can explain how successful that policy has been and at what cost.

As for nuclear proliferation and widespread horror about Iran getting the bomb, I'd simply point out that the first place we will most likely see the first post WW2 use of nuclear weapons is the Asian subcontinent (India v. Pakistan).

Unfortunately, in the 1950s we saw a label "communist" and refused to have anything to do with him. Too bad we didn't figure out that he could be another Tito....

Maybe, and I wish we had behaved differently. Sad that we didn't. But we have no idea what would have transpired. Korea and China were factors in how things played out. There's no solution to the "what if" game.

The US has imposed sanctions in one form or another on Iran since the '79 hostage crisis.

weird!

i doubt the second post-WWII use of nukes will be any less deadly than the first.

the first place we will most likely see the first post WW2 use of nuclear weapons is the Asian subcontinent (India v. Pakistan).

India and Pakistan have at least built up some habits of not using them, even as they keep provoking each other. Somehow I'm suspecting that that Arabian Peninsula is at least as likely to see the next use. Specifically Iran smacking Saudi Arabia. (Carefully avoiding hitting Mecca, of course.)

The Saudis aren't in a position to return the favor (as opposed to the situation on the subcontinent), so no MAD restraints. And I somehow doubt that the recent tactical alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel will quite extend to the Israelis wading in with their nukes.

Personally, I'd rather trust Iran with nukes than the Saudis (although of course neither side is of the kind one would wish to have them).

Theocracy and nukes make a dangerous combination, whatever the religion.

Luckily, most theocrats don't really believe in the god(s) they profess to worship. Hypocrisy is at least marginally safer than "faith" when it comes to control of nuclear weapons.

--TP

Well, for what it's worth, the Iranians have been civilized for thousands of years. The Saudis (to the extent they are yet) only for a generation or two.

Saudis don't need nukes; they can use ours if they need to.

Saudis don't need nukes; they can use ours if they need to.

At least for now. This is horrible.

and here come da boots.

fighting for SA, the spiritual home of 9/11, isn't going to be popular in the US.

The US has imposed sanctions in one form or another on Iran since the '79 hostage crisis. Perhaps somebody here can explain how successful that policy has been

About as successful as the sanctions on Cuba, but hey, the Cuban sanctions had a 20 year headstart, amirite?

As for Johnson+Vietnam, he knew that it was Civil rights that would cost the Dems.
Vietnam was because Johnson was a TEXAN, and TEXANS have to be super tough.

Suggested US Constitutional Amendment: "No person who was born, or lived in the state of Texas for more than 5 years in total may occupy the office of President of the United States. Violation subject to summary execution."


Johnson is quoted as saying "I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.” —Newly inaugurated President Lyndon Johnson at a White House meeting on November 24, 1963 responding to U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. telling him that Vietnam “would go under any day if we don’t do something.” [Didn't save the link - sorry.]

And this is interesting as well.

Tragic.

Somehow I'm suspecting that that Arabian Peninsula is at least as likely to see the next use. Specifically Iran smacking Saudi Arabia. (Carefully avoiding hitting Mecca, of course.)

I respectfully demur. I put on my tinfoil hat, and fished this out of the crackerjax box: What remains of the "Great Powers" have too much invested in their mid-east proxies to promote/allow such a nuclear moment as you envision. Furthermore, Iran does not even have nuclear capability. This is kinda' neccessary for your theory. Furthermore, Iran has shown reasonable restraint in the face of outrageous provocations: Cold blooded murder of their nuclear scientists, air strikes on their nuclear facilities, crippling sanctions. Note: These are ACTS OF WAR. But hey, hezbollah. Jaysuz 'effing christ.

India/Pakistan are free of "sponsors" who hold the real reins of restraint in the nuclear world. I will lay you 8 to 5 that, if there is a nuclear weapon event in the next ten years, it will be Pakistan or India delivering the blow against the other.

There's no solution to the "what if" game.

Then I would submit that ALL of us refrain from playing it. OK?

Thank you.

Then I would submit that ALL of us refrain from playing it. OK?

It's not a game I spend much time playing. I try to figure out why people made the decisions they made. In some cases, policymakers had to play the "what if" game in order to game out a path forward. They chose a strategy (for various reasons), and sometimes it didn't end so well. Conjecturing that if they'd chosen otherwise all would have been fine is subject to a lot of maybes.

Right now, we're figuring out the impeachment situation. Many people (including me) think that the House should do it loudly and proudly now. Some Democratic lawmakers think otherwise. I doubt that it's cowardice, since they're being vilified. We'll see - I hope in a good way. But no matter how strongly we feel about it all, waging a losing impeachment war is a crap shoot, or at least someone's educated guess versus someone else's. This is what people face when they go forward. (And if you're in the camp that suggests "Do the right thing, of course!" you still have to calculate whether "the right thing" will be a political misstep, leading to the very wrong thing.)

What remains of the "Great Powers" have too much invested in their mid-east proxies to promote/allow such a nuclear moment as you envision.

Allow me to observe that one of those "Great Powers", to wit Russia, actually would benefit from such a moment.

Yes, they have invested a bit in their proxies. But a strike which took out the Saudi oil infrastructure would, at a stroke, vastly increase the value of Russia's oil. Not to mention giving them more leverage over Europe, and weakening China besides. (Besides, their investment in Syria, etc. is not only far less, it's a sunk cost.)

Furthermore, Iran does not even have nuclear capability.

Yet. But thanks to Trump's jealousy of Obama, they're back on track to develop it. Not to mention that, in a pinch, they could doubtless buy 1 or 2 (it wouldn't take more) from North Korea. Give the Houthi those, and a couple trucks, and the job gets done -- while making sure satellite images (European or Russian, if not US) would show that the as-yet not developed Iranian nuclear missiles weren't used.

Allow me to observe that one of those "Great Powers", to wit Russia, actually would benefit from such a moment.

LOL...well then, allow me to observe also: You appear to be totally discounting any blowback from such a move, the price of oil be damned.

Yet.

Well, duh. They do not have nuclear capability, yet here we are speculating as if they had it.

Fascinating.

It never ceases to amaze that humans ascribe not only malevolent intent to their opponents, but also great, but not yet observed powers. What a coincidence!

I'll lay you another bet. Israel will employ nuclear weapons before any arab/moslem state do.

The only states that can stop nuclear proliferation are those who already possess that capability.

Yet those same states have been unable or unwilling to prevent proliferation.

Once you join the nuclear club, well, you are one of those states, and most incentives point to not using that capability, because for small players, having the bomb is like a prevent defense.

Hopefully it works out better for us in than it does in the NFL :).

Iirc Brazil had a nuclear program once. What are the odds that Bolsonaro rekindles it?
Not that South America is a particular hot spot but what would the world do about another fascist who wants nukes for prestige purposes?
(I guess Trump would not mind at all given his sympathies for, if not outright envy of, the guy).

I doubt that North Korea would sell any of its nukes. Their stockpile is likely not big enough for that yet. The Kims need them for their own Götterdämmerung scenario (use 'em or lose 'em) should some POTUS get it into his head to 'solve' the NK problem.

Yes. I agree. All they have to do is utterly surrender any concept they may have with respect to their own "vital national interests", because apparently they really don't have any.

you're going to have to show your work as to how arming Hezbollah and assorted proxies, and as well as developing a nuke, is in their "vital national interests".

The Saudis arm diverse militias, as do Russia and occasionally the US. And Israel originally built up Hamas as a counterweight to Arafat's secular movement. It's always serving 'vital national interests' (until those groups turn out to have interests of their own that run against those of the sponsors). Hey, the cold war stayed cold because the major powers armed proxies instead of openly going to war against each other. Is there any of those sponsored groups that did not turn out to be murderous thugs in the end (unless they got wiped out early)?

Slight change of subject, but still relevant because of who has his fingers on the button. Since I cannot post a link, I am copying and pasting this article by the Guardian's Australia Editor, about a Trump press conference. It won't really be news to anyone here, I suppose, but I wonder what 42% of the population, or 90% of Republicans would think if they saw such a press conference. Do we think it would make any difference to their assessment of their POTUS?

As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump's press conference

Despite being subjected to a daily diet of Trump headlines, I was unprepared for the president’s alarming incoherence

• Lenore Taylor is the editor of Guardian Australia.


As a regular news reader I thought I was across the eccentricities of the US president. Most mornings in Australia begin with news from America – the bid to buy Greenland, adjustments to a weather map hand-drawn with a Sharpie or another self-aggrandising tweet. Our headlines and news bulletins, like headlines and news bulletins everywhere, are full of Trump.

As a political reporter for most of the last 30 years I have also endured many long and rambling political press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders.

But watching a full presidential Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.


The press conference I tuned into by chance from my New York hotel room was held in Otay Mesa, California, and concerned a renovated section of the wall on the Mexican border.

I joined as the president was explaining at length how powerful the concrete was. Very powerful, it turns out. It was unlike any wall ever built, incorporating the most advanced “concrete technology”. It was so exceptional that would-be wall-builders from three unnamed countries had visited to learn from it.

There were inner tubes in the wall that were also filled with concrete, poured in via funnels, and also “rebars” so the wall would withstand anyone attempting to cut through it with a blowtorch.

The wall went very deep and could not be burrowed under. Prototypes had been tested by 20 “world-class mountain climbers – That’s all they do, they love to climb mountains”, who had been unable to scale it.

It was also “wired, so that we will know if somebody is trying to break through”, although one of the attending officials declined a presidential invitation to discuss this wiring further, saying, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing it”, which the president said was a “very good answer”.

The wall was “amazing”, “world class”, “virtually impenetrable” and also “a good, strong rust colour” that could later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was “hot enough to fry an egg on”. There were no eggs to hand, but the president did sign his name on it and spoke for so long the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news was ever made.

In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day
He did, at one point, concede that would-be immigrants, unable to scale, burrow, blow torch or risk being burned, could always walk around the incomplete structure, but that would require them walking a long way. This seemed to me to be an important point, but the monologue quickly returned to the concrete.

In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense.

In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice.

I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound. Here he was trying to land the message that he had delivered at least something towards one of his biggest campaign promises and sounding like a construction manager with some long-winded and badly improvised sales lines.

I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.


The Saudis arm diverse militias, as do Russia and occasionally the US.

right. all those countries are the worst ever. but i was asking about Iran.

how does doing the worst of what all of the very worst countries do serve an innocent country like Iran's "vital national interests" ?

“you're going to have to show your work as to how arming Hezbollah and assorted proxies, and as well as developing a nuke, is in their "vital national interests".

Hezbollah is a deterrent. If there is a war with Israel, rockets from Hezbollah come down on Israeli cities. That is true whether the war is limited to Lebanon or directly involves Iran.

In Syria, everyone was arming someone. The group Conflict Arms found that we were sending weapons to the “ moderates” that were in the hands of Isis several weeks later. Al Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, fought side by side with the moderates we armed. Basically we indirectly armed and directly bombed the same people. But anyway, Syria is an ally of Iran against Sunni extremists.

And a nuclear bomb is the ultimate deterrent. Libya is a cautionary tale of what can happen if you give it up. So is Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty and imposition of harsher sanctions.

None of this means Iran’s government is nice. They are an ugly theocracy. But it is really difficult to see how their behavior outside their borders is worse than ours. All moral judgments aside, they play power politics like we do and like everyone does.

sounding like a construction manager with some long-winded and badly improvised sales lines.

and this is exactly what he is. it's what he sounds like in everything he says. he sounds like a not-really-involved property owner trying to sell unfinished units in a new building using ridiculous hyperbole and fountains of superlatives because he has no respect for the audience and truly doesn't understand what he's talking about. he's overpromising and misrepresenting so you don't walk out on the deal. he's there to keep the money rolling in so he can finance the start of his next scam.

he's a scummy salesman selling crap to suckers because all the smart buyers ran away the first time they heard him.

every time he opens his mouth, this is exactly what i hear.

And a nuclear bomb is the ultimate deterrent.

95% of the countries in the world don't have nuclear weapons. and, with some exceptions, none of them have any need to deter anyone. what makes Iran different?

what makes Iran different?

Eh, the oft expressed desire by high ranking US officials to reverse the Iranian revolution by force of arms?
The arming of their neighbours against them?
Saddam Hussein waging a US supported war against them while pursuing a nuke program of his own (that got taken out by Israel)?
The contrasting Lybian and North Korean experience with regard to US aggression?

They have g#ddamn good reasons to wish to have some while at the same time they are aware that the critical part is to acquire them before anyone can take that as a pretense for attack (see again the cases of other states as noted above).
It's dangerous to go from no nukes to having nukes. Once you have them, you're safe, even if you are among the most odious regimes around that all the world would prefer to get rid of.

You appear to be totally discounting any blowback from such a move, the price of oil be damned.

Not really. I just think that it will be blowback at Iran. Not at Russia. Even if Russia were somehow covertly involved in Iran going nuclear.

I'll lay you another bet. Israel will employ nuclear weapons before any arab/moslem state do.

I'm inclined to take that bet. Conceivably the Israeli government could decide to nuke Iran, in an attempt to keep them from going nuclear. But the Iranians are as aware of that possibility as anyone, so I expect their facilities are burried deep.

And a nuclear bomb is the ultimate deterrent.

For it to be a deterrent requires 3 things:
1) your enemies have to believe you have the bomb. (For deterrence, whether you really do is beside the point.)
2) your enemies have to believe you will actually use it if attacked.
3) your enemies also have to believe that you won't use it unless you are attacked. Otherwise, it's actually an incentive to attack, to try to reduce the damage.

what makes Iran different?

Oh, gosh. Let me see. It's neighbor invaded and waged a devastating war that lasted years and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. It's neighbor the the east is also governed by religious extremists of a differing branch of the Faith, and they have the bomb. That same nation sponsors and harbors the Taliban that is on the verge of taking over Afghanistan. It's major muslim rival is also an extremist near feudal theocracy that has for all intents and purposes unconditional support of the world's major nuclear power. Another rival denies it has the bomb, but everybody pretty much concedes that it does have that capability (Israel). It's neighbors to the north are unstable kleptocracies.

So it does what it can to promote its perceived national interests... You may disagree with these interests, but you cannot deny that they have them. You cannot deny they are real. From their point of view, they are entirely legitimate.

But of course, yes...95% of the world's countries (you claim) have "no need" to deter anyone. That is not a serious assertion, and really has no bearing on this discussion.

However, I agree fully with your 10:12.

Thanks.

he's there to keep the money rolling in so he can finance the start of his next scam.

he's a scummy salesman selling crap to suckers because all the smart buyers ran away the first time they heard him.

That pretty much sums it up. Except to say that Barnum was right: there really is "a sucker born every minute." And the numbers have added up over time.

It's neighbor invaded and waged a devastating war that lasted years and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands.

indeed. but that Iraq is long gone.

It's neighbor the the east

Pakistan? they have a stable and peaceful relationship with Iran.

It's neighbors to the north are unstable kleptocracies.

and also have good relationships with Iran. they are also very small and pose no military threat at all to Iran.

i guess i'm really puzzled about why people here excuse Iran's military aggression (direct or indirect) - actions that really do kill people. why does Iran get a pass?

i'm not saying we should go to war with them or that the sanctions work. i'm saying the sanctions are a response to things Iran has chosen to do. it could not do those things.

Trump killing the Deal was one of the dumbest things he's done. helping Iran get back into good standing with the rest of the world would have been a win for everyone.

We don't give them a pass, we just give reasons why they would desire nukes.

i guess i'm really puzzled about why people here excuse Iran's military aggression (direct or indirect)

I no more "excuse" it than I excuse the excesses of Saudi Arabia or Israel, which by the way, are legion.

I seek to understand it.

So tell me why no sanctions against the Saudis for their aggressions in Yemem or Israel for basically enforcing a semi concentration camp in Gaza?

I believe that would be a more fruitful discussion.

And yes, Trump pulling the plug on the Deal is right up there with the lunatic invasion of a country that posed no threat to us. BUT WE DID SO. PEOPLE OVER THERE KINDA' TAKE THESE THINGS INTO ACCOUNT when considering their perceived vital national interests....something you seem to think they do not have or do not deserve.

That I cannot understand.

Thanks.

Once you have them, you're safe

people still attack the US and Israel and Russia.

We don't give them a pass,

(generic) you just decline to criticize them.

(heh. i know that sounded like the McTx accusation. but in this case, Iran is already the topic of discussion - i'm not saying previous silence on the topic means anything. but this thread is currently Iran-centric).

what i see are criticisms of the US and complaints about an Iraqi regime that hasn't existed in 10 years, and excuses. i'm not sure why nobody wants to simply admit that Iran is an aggressor.

are we just arguing for the hell of it?

maybe.

i'll go have a Saturday. y'all can finish this without me.

I would posit that things are a bit more complex in the region than simply pointing fingers at Iran. I would also posit that nearly all Americans don't have an 'effing clue as to how complex it is....because as we all know, foreign policy is easy.

are we just arguing for the hell of it?

This is the internets, you know. I blame it all on Genghis Khan.

people still attack the US and Israel and Russia.

Hm, I must have somehow missed the regular invasions of Russia and the US by foreign armies, the constant air attacks by planes, drones and cruise missiles, the blockade of the harbours and the accompanying seizure of ships and cargo, the building of massive foreign military bases in Canada and Mexico close the the US borders and a few other things.
Israel gets attacked, that's true, but not by invasion armies and not in a way that threatens the existence of the state. Nuking the attackers would cause more damage in Israel itself than all the attacks combined.
Ephraim Kishon used to joke that no Arab state would nuke Israel because any bomb dropped would affect their own capital cities because Israel is so tiny.

i'm not sure why nobody wants to simply admit that Iran is an aggressor.

While Iran is an aggressor in some instances, you can make an excellent case that in others they are reacting in self defense. (Or in defense of co-religionists, who in turn were attacked largely based on their religion.) That some of those fights have been going on for a very long time, with varying levels of intensity, doesn't change the fact.

Take the case of the Saudis. Have the Sunnis (e.g. the Saudis) been fighting the Shias (e.g. Iran) for a long time? Yes. Has their fight ever actually stopped (let alone been resolved)? No. Good luck establishing who started it. But at this point, it barely matters.

The Saudi attacks in Yemen are merely a recent piece of this long-running religious struggle. As is the Iranian strike (if it was the Iranians) on the Saudi oil infrastructure. The main difference being that the Iranians killed a lot fewer civilians.

Casting blame at this point achieves nothing. The only thing which will is arranging things so that both sides feel safe going forward. Certainly that will be enormously difficult; making the Israel/Palestine issue seem (relatively!) trivial. And I wouldn't bet on it even being possible.

“95% of the countries in the world don't have nuclear weapons. and, with some exceptions, none of them have any need to deter anyone. what makes Iran different?”

This is funny. The US has talked about attacking or even invading Iran since at least Bush. Israel sometimes talks about it. The US is a bully and to repeat what I said earlier, so long as we don’t suffer consequences we are more than willing to inflict harm on others, including innocent people, to achieve our “ national interest”, whatever that phrase means.

People wouldn’t give one second of thought to invading Iran if they had the Bomb.

Set aside morality. The US intervenes directly or indirectly in countries all over the world. Do people in Yemen need a deterrent? Yeah, they do. They need a deterrent against the Saudis and frankly, they need a deterrent against us. Depending on our sense of morality has gotten them nowhere.

And this has nothing to do with Iran having a good government. If we actually cared about that we would not be sanctioning them. We did that to Cuba for decades. It accomplished nothing.

The only thing which will is arranging things so that both sides feel safe going forward.

Sounds good to me. You have to remember, not all nations are bordered by vast oceans, a convenient drug supplier, and Canada.

-leftist crank

You have to remember, not all nations are bordered by vast oceans, a convenient drug supplier, and Canada.

Which also helps explain why the US doesn't have anything as good as the Russian S-400 integrated air defense system to offer for sale.

I suspect that the number and type of US troops being deployed to Saudi Arabia now are in response to a phone call from the Saudis to the effect of "The S-400 system is looking mighty good just now..."

Do people in Yemen need a deterrent? Yeah, they do. They need a deterrent against the Saudis and frankly, they need a deterrent against us.

Which rather ignores the civil war thing.

Successful interventions - from whatever motive - in civil wars are very, very rarely successful.

But interventions keep the civil wars running far beyond the natural attrition of the direct participants (if without extrernal support).

No need for ‘but’ - I agree with you.
Just making the point that talking about deterrence doesn’t have much relevance for a Yemen.

Greetings from any number of California beaches and Utah slot canyons:

https://youtu.be/tqXibjCZy5Y

Surf’s Up:

https://youtu.be/s3TRns_zssM

Utah canyons: Messiaen

https://youtu.be/QeARzXLi7AU

Nigel, it would be of relevance, if a deterrent could make the supporter of one side quit.
If the Houthis could present a credible ultimatum to Saudi Arabia 'stop bombing us or in the first week of October we will strike again and this time at your storage facilities. And the following week at your other halve of production' this could give the Saudis pause.
It likely would not since MBS cannot lose face and he has Trump by the purse but it is not a ridiculous scenario per se.

“Just making the point that talking about deterrence doesn’t have much relevance for a Yemen.”

Given that the war started four years ago and probably 100,000 are dead from violence and about that many children are dead from starvation and nobody has a time machine, I agree.

But the Saudis ( with US and British help) would not have assumed they could bomb Yemen at no risk if the Houthis had possessed the ability to blow up their oil facilities. Humanitarian considerations played no important role in that decision.

It’s nice to think that deterrence is something we need and not others, but it is rather obvious that the US and some of its allies feel free to hurt people so long as it doesn’t backfire on us. In this case, Trump miscalculated. He continued supporting the bombing campaign in Yemen, but he also pulled out of the treaty with Iran and put increasing economic pressure on Iran. Evidently the Iranians have decided he wasn’t willing to invade and they are pushing back. Hopefully they won’t miscalculate what the idiot in the WH might do in response.

Evidently the Iranians have decided he wasn’t willing to invade and they are pushing back.

It seems equally possible that they have decided, quite reasonably, that Trump cannot be counted upon to keep to any agreement which he might make. Which means that there is nothing to be gained from negotiating with him. Leaving pushing back as the only viable option.

Some of the above comments are rather simplistic - for a good analysis of the situation Iran finds itself in, see here:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2018-02-13/iran-among-ruins

(free registration required)

"Robert Naiman explains why the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which Scott calls the worst thing the U.S. is doing right now, is unjust and unconstitutional. President Obama started to support the Saudis in their campaign during his second term, supposedly as a favor in exchange for Saudi Arabia’s support of the Iran nuclear deal. Naiman says that Nancy Pelosi has a unique opportunity to make ending this war a priority through the House-Senate Conference Committee, but it’s unclear whether she really cares about it, despite her supposedly progressive reputation. Scott points out the irony that a handful of constitutional conservatives are actually good on Yemen, and yet many Democrats are not."
Robert Naiman on How Congress Could Stop the War in Yemen — (Scott Horton Show)

novakant,

Informative link. Remember when the Balkans was the cockpit of Europe? Good times. Maybe before your time.

Too many fingers in this armpit, and no easy way out that I see, but we cannot simply erase Iran as a regional power.

Thanks.

For those of us who argue impassionately about the Middle East and Israel, I recommend this.

It's short, but powerful.

Thanks!

-leftist crank

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