Thursday, August 12, 2004
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Iranian Nukes: Be Afraid, Be Somewhat Afraid
Since nuclear proliferation has provoked so much debate, I thought I’d offer up a more focused post on dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. While reasonable people agree that a nuclear-armed Tehran is by no means desirable, they can disagree about what price we should be willing to pay to prevent this from happening. Matt Yglesias succinctly sums up this view in his post, “Iranian Nukes: So What?” Well, here’s what: we don’t want a radical anti-American regime with links to terrorist organizations to have nuclear weapons. It’s another version of the Pakistan problem—there may in fact be powerful figures in the country crazy enough to let slip nuclear weapons to terrorist groups. That said, the prospect of state-ending retaliation may be enough to give these people pause. Now, let me call again on Fareed Zakaria as an expert witness. He suggests that the most likely dangers are geopolitical. A nuclear Iran, in his view, would prompt Egypt and Saudi Arabia to start looking into these weapons. More ominously, Israel would not sit by idly as Tehran closed in on a working bomb and would likely launch a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. At which point, the world’s most strategically important region would presumably spontaneously combust. And you thought we had problems now.
So, what can we do to head all this off? Well, one thing we can’t do in the short-term is invade. Just take a look at Tom Ricks’ pieces in the Washington Post to learn the tale of an Army that has been badly battered by its deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. You know the story: overextended units, stop-loss orders, damaged materiel, and two nasty insurgencies to deal with. Besides, with a large, highly motivated, highly nationalist army and nearly four times the territory and three times the population of Iraq, war with Iran would not be the type of military engagement once charmingly called a cakewalk. That leaves Zakaria’s recommended option, closing ranks with the Europeans and threatening tougher economic sanctions and the possibility of airstrikes, while dangling the carrot of direct negotiations and perhaps even normalized relations with the United States.
That may be the best we can do for now. Looking to the future, our and the Iranians best hope is that the so-called Third Force, the embittered generation born after 1979 who have known nothing other than life in a dystopian theocratic experiment, can organize, topple the regime, and build some kind of decent state. After delivering 25 years of political repression and economic stagnation, the mullahs are certainly vulnerable. Interestingly, the students leading the democracy movement say that the best thing the United States can do to help them is not to get involved in Iran’s internal power struggles, so that the students can’t be tarred as traitors by the conservative hardliners.
end the iranian nuclear threat...
those that would hate us for it hate us already,
but the real question is... bunker busters, daisies, or w-80s? and is it AF, SAC, or a Navy op?posted by: hey on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"So, what can we do to head all this off? Well, one thing we can’t do in the short-term is invade."
This option can never be off the table. It's the only thing which encourages the Muallahs to behave themselves. Also, what happened to the military might of our so-called allies? Why are they sitting on the sidelines? Why isn't Fareed Zakaria talking about guilt tripping these parasites who fail to do their fair share? We should be removing our troops out of Germany, for instance, as quickly as possible. Why not bomb their fledgling nuclear facilities the way the Israelis destroyed Saddam Hussein's some twenty years ago? Lastly, we definitely do not need a John Kerry, someone who is a soldily established appeaser to be our commander in chief during these troubled times. Should we therefore take for granted that Zakaria is supporting the reelection of George W. Bush?posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
I have a couple of posts up addressing this subject over on Winds of Change. Below is the link and post exerpts:
Iran's October Surprise -- I Told You So!
What was learned when Libya turned "states evidence" and revealed the wide spread dispersal of Chinese fission warhead designs via Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan, means these devices will be operational missile warheads of a proven design.
SHARON WILL ACT AGAINST THAT THREAT!
In Iran’s Spoiling Attack I said that these were the stakes we faced:
"More than Iraq is at stake here there are other players, notably Israel. Iran's mullahs are developing nuclear weapons, which they view as a magic shield against America and a sword to destroy the Jewish state. They have made overt threats to nuke Israel as soon as they have nuclear weapons, and said they believe Iran would survive any exchange of nukes with Israel. The mullahs do not at all understand that their inflammatory rhetoric intended for domestic political effect has a whole new meaning for other countries when backed up with nuclear weapons.
This brings up the following question:
Does anyone doubt for a moment that Israel will, absolutely, positively WILL preemptively destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, with nukes if necessary, to prevent another holocaust?"
Much more is at stake in November's presidential election than President Bush is willing to admit."
posted by: Trent Telenko on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Iran threatened to destroy Tel Aviv in public with its first nuke. You mention the terrorist threat as well. I am mystified that anyone could think this is no big deal.
This is why you are wrong about not voting for Bush, btw. Kerry and the rest of the Democrats are big wafflers on issues of self defense, and on every other issue of right and wrong, except if they can make America wrong, then that's ok. Taking us back into moral relativism and wimpery as a domestic and foreign policy is a huge mistake in the wrong direction, even if Bush is spending too much money.posted by: Michael H. on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Well, one thing we can’t do in the short-term is invade.
This seems to me to be wrong. We can most certainly invade. What we probably can't do is occupy.
Are we obligated to occupy after we remove the Mullahs and destroy the nukes? I don't think so. Would we be worse off if we just left after destroying the regime and their weapons? Good question.posted by: Al on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"This is why you are wrong about not voting for Bush, btw. Kerry and the rest of the Democrats are big wafflers on issues of self defense.."
We must not forget that Joseph Lieberman's candidacy went nowhere. I would have even voted for him over George W. Bush. Lieberman is now essentially a marginalized figure in the Democratic Party. The very fact that John Kerry is their standard bearer is overwhelming evidence that Democrats don’t take our nation’s safety very seriously. I hate to constantly repeat myself, but it is utterly foolish to ignore the Massachusetts senator’s record of appeasement during the Cold War. Why are the “Harvard cool” guys like Daniel Drezner and Fareed Zakaria doing so? Of course, our two guest bloggers are doing the exact same thing! Perhaps we can embarrass at least one of them to bite the bullet and not wimp out on this most important issue.
"...even if Bush is spending too much money."
The President deserves to be severely criticized for spending so much money. Still, the higher priority is our national defense. And let us not forget that John Kerry would spend even a lot more of our tax dollars!posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
What makes you believe that the "Third generation" would do anything different with regards to nuclear weapons? National security priorities for a nation are independent of age.
As regards transferring nukes to terrorists, I think Iran is the least of america's problems. It has "allies" like the Saudis and Pakistanis who have probably done so already. The Saudis probably have nuclear weapons by now, given that they were one of the major financiers of Pakistan's nuclear program.
The other interesting thing about nukes is that it makes it harder for someone to use moralizing rhetoric as an excuse to invade other nations.posted by: anon on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Does anyone doubt for a moment that Israel will,
No. No doubt.
When the russians were talking about doing nuclear "surgical strikes" against the infant chinese nuclear capability the USA stopped them. We protected china against the russians.
Any chance we'd protect iran against israel?
No? We'd prefer they attack? We do get a vote.
I agree that we cannot occupy Iran. While progress is slow, the theocracy most certainly is liberalizing, and the ideological legitimacy of the mullahs within the nation is declining precipitously.
Furthermore, our military is overstretched due to its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adding Iran to this mix would simply be untenable, due to its size.
As a result, I would support something like airstrikes, if it were not solely a US effort. The young Iranians may secretly (or openly) resent the ruling mullahs, but they would oppose an American-only operation even more. We made that mistake by imposing the Shah in the 1950s in the first place, leading to the revolution a quarter-century later. We can scarcely afford a similar debacle today.posted by: cain on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Let's think it out. Maybe we can invade iran. We certainly can't occupy iran the way we tried to occupy iraq.
When we invaded iraq we were experimenting with ways to use small numbers of highly mobile troops. It worked, kind of. We found out that mass small arms could take out our helicopters, and we had to protect our supply lines. When the troops couldn't come in through turkey we did most of the operations in the north with special forces, and they worked.
Are you sure we couldn't do the same thing in iran? Go in with special forces and small light units that can quickly come together to reinforce each other. Call in air strikes on anything that's big enough to be a problem. It might work.
We wouldn't have to beat the whole iranian army. All we'd need is to slice our way in to the supposed nuclear sites, inspect them under fire, airlift out the nuclear material, sabotage the equipment, and pull out.
It would be a big plus to also kill or capture the iranian nuclear experts and technicians.
The result would be that iran would have suffered a military loss, but probably would still have a functional army. We would take out their nuclear program and it would be X number of years before they could get it going again.
I'm not advocating it and I'm not sure it would work. But it might work. It would heavily use our planes that at present do hardly more than one airstrike a day on iraqi cities. It would use special forces that currently might be doing valuable work in iraq. Maybe some marines. Not a whole lot of troops, they'd only have to fight their way into cities when the nuclear sites are in cities. Maybe none of them are.
Have I convinced you that it *might* be possible?
"Have I convinced you that it *might* be possible?"
Yes. I am also convinced that this is what we might have to do. Thus, America cannot afford someone in the White House who is a solidly established appeaser. A risk taker is required. Voting for John Kerry is another way of saying that you don't love your family members as much as your liberal ideology.posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Would this "third force" be an improvement with regard to Iran developing nukes? If they do manage to bring down the Mullahs, peacefully or not, would they want to carry on the nuclear programs currently in place?
Would a democratic Iran with nuclear weapons be much of an improvement over a theocratic Iran with nuclear weapons? Looking at it strictly from a geopolitical perspective that is, I have little doubt that a democratic Iran would improve the human rights situation there dramatically. If a democratic Iran looked like it was developing nukes, Israel would probably still launch a pre-emptive strike to stop that happening.posted by: sam on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Voting for John Kerry is another way of saying that you don't love your family members as much as your liberal ideology."
Good grief, and there may be as many as 50 million of these people out there! 50 million communistic cowards who don't love their children! The horror!
On the subject of nicely destroying Iran's nuclear facilities with a few airstrikes, it's not that simple. The strike on Iraq worked because Iraq was hoping to use a nuclear power plant in order to generate the enriched uranium (or plutonium) needed to make a nuclear bomb. Nuclear power plants are big, obvious, easy to spot, and easy to destroy with a few well-placed bombs.
Iran is not doing this. They are using centrifuge technology to extract the desired urnaium isotopes out of uranium ore (yellowcake.) It's a very difficult technical/engineering problem (one which, incidentally, Iraq was not capable of-- even if they had bought every ounce of yellowcake available in the world, it would have done them no good.) But, and this is the key, it is fairly modular, can be done in small areas, is easily hidden, etc.
So it's very hard to identify where the enrichment is even going on, which means you don't know what to bomb. Furthermore, it can be spread to mulitple locations, which means there's a lot more targets to bomb. Still further, it can be done underground, so you can harden the facilities (put them in bunkers.) So even if we could figure out where to bomb (which we probably can't), regular bombs wouldn't work.
Lastly, while centrifuges are tricky to set up and get to work, doing so is a lot quicker (and cheaper) than building a nuclear power plant. So even if we bombed them once, it wouldn't take that long or be that expensive for Iran to rebuild the capability again.posted by: Doug Turnbull on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Assuming that airstrikes could be targeted against Iran's nuclear program, what are the odds of significant amounts of radioactive materials being spread into the atmosphere? Can anybody tell me how likely this is to happen?
Mainly because something like that would kill any kind of popular support in Iran for an invasion to overthrow the government. But also it could spread to Iraq, hurting out troops and really screw things up for the civilian population.posted by: sam on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
“Good grief, and there may be as many as 50 million of these people out there! 50 million communistic cowards who don't love their children! The horror!”
I’m just a mean son of a female dog. Sucker punching is my specialty. The hard core activists within the Democratic Party indeed do value their left wing ideology over the safety of their family members. There is simply no other way of interpreting their support of John Kerry.
The bottom line is this: why didn’t the Democratic Party select Joseph Lieberman as its standard bearer. He would easily have a ten point lead over President Bush. I would even vote for him. Instapundit, Roger L. Simon, and perhaps most other “pro-war” bloggers would do likewise. OK, let’s hear it. Why is Lieberman on the outside looking in?posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
DT, lately you've become increasingly one-note: "Bush's foreign policy mistakes are excusable because Kerry sucks".
I need to be offered far more substantial opinions about why Kerry's - or anyone else's - positions haven't changed , and changed drastically, post 9/11. I don't swallow it.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"That said, the prospect of state-ending retaliation may be enough to give these people pause"
And it may not. There is a horribly dangerous tendency to assume the Mullahs will/do act as we would consider rationally. Their goals are not our goals, their methods our not methods, it is madness to make the assumptions we are making based on our outlook of what is sane. Listen to these guys talk, look at what they have done already. The biggest blunders in international affairs our made by assuming you know the mind of you enemy. All it takes is one Mullah who wants to go down in history as the great slayer of the Great Satan and DC or NYC would go up in flames. Dont assume the irrational can be rationally deterred. Dont assume fascists wont make horrible, even idiotic miscalculations. It has happened over and over throughout history.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Some of the posters above are already in "we have to get thenm before they get us mode." If we follow this line, than the logic of MAD(mutually assured destruction) that kept us alive the past 50 years goes down the toilet. You guys would have probably tried to impeach Truman for firing MacArther when he wanted to cross the Yalu River. It's insane.posted by: TexasToast on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
One more thing, we are all assuming that should a nuclear weapon be smuggled into the US and detonated, we would swiftly identify the source and retaliate with nuclear weapons. That is far from clear to me. Even if 100% certain tracing is possible, which im not entirely convinced of, would it be unthinkable that the Mullahs (or whoever) would be willing to gamble the US wont use indiscrimant nuclear weapons to erradicate millions of innocent Iranians, most of whom oppose the regime? Think of the lessons we have imparted by so carefully protecting enemy civilian lives in the last few wars. Think of the anti-war movements and their high profile. I'm not saying we _wouldn't_ nuke someone, but thats not the point. Do our enemies really believe we would? That is the key to deterrance, and if the Mullahs make that calculation all bets are off.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
“I need to be offered far more substantial opinions about why Kerry's - or anyone else's - positions haven't changed , and changed drastically, post 9/11. I don't swallow it.”
OK, I’ll throw the question back to you. Why is Howard Dean and the huge pacifist element within the Democratic Party adamantly supporting John Kerry? Why are his comments on war and terrorism so wishy-washy and ambiguous? Once again, why was Joseph Lieberman denied the nomination? Democrats seeking victory in November should have picked the Connecticut senator. The odds would have increased substantially in their favor. Yet Lieberman did horribly during the nomination process. Why did this happen?posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"If we follow this line, than the logic of MAD(mutually assured destruction) that kept us alive the past 50 years goes down the toilet."
TT, you are absolutely not comprehending that this is a DIFFERENT ENEMY that may not be deterrable. That is an awful risk to take with millions of lives.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Why is Howard Dean and the huge pacifist element within the Democratic Party adamantly supporting John Kerry?"
Why are Howard Dean and the huge pacifist element within the Democratic Party adamantly supporting John Kerry?posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Just curious: Is anybody still taking David Thomson seriously, or are most people just ignoring his repeated off-topic attacks on Kerry?
I would also recommend that people pause for at least one second and consider how discussions like these would be viewed from an Iranian point of view. I mean, if we casually debate here whether we should use air strikes or invade their country and then occupy or just leave the mess, how can we expect THEM to see anything but a serious threat in US?
Great question qw. And the other side of that coin is why dont we take the Iranians seriously when they talk about nuking Israel and grinding the US in the dust?posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
why didn’t the Democratic Party select Joseph Lieberman as its standard bearer.
Um, because he's a terrible politician who's out of step with the Democratic party and is widely blamed for Florida?
Additionally: he's boring and moralistic.posted by: praktike on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
As someone who is probably unrealisticly hawkish about Iran/nukes, I actually have little real evidence that Bush will be more aggressive on the matter than Kerry. I have conflicting rhetoric, including the story that Bush wants to be the "Peace President" in his second term. I have Iraq, but the motivations for attacking Iraq are too murky and varied to be considered a clear expression of an anti-proliferation policy. And of course, attacking Iraq but not Pakistan (which certainly had closer ties to bin-Laden and 9/11, and a very dangerous proliferation record) a clear message was sent about the usefulness of a nuclear deterrent. I have North Korea and Pakistan, where whatever policy has been tried doesn't seem particularly effective.
Since any air or SF attack would cause Iran to strengthen its defenses, that seems to me only a delaying tactic. I see little interest in the Bush administration for an increase in those forces that would make an invasion and occupation conceivable. On the contrary, I see a very strong effort toward missle defense, which seems to assume our enemies will get nukes and delivery systems, and a misplaced hope that the delivery mechanisms will be predictable and can be countered.
So while Bush might be better than Kerry on the problem of Iran, the difference does not seem to me large enough to be decisive.posted by: bob mcmanus on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Given the amount of flames and debate that the resident uber-hawks get here, I think any Iranian reading here would have a sense that certain people would like to threaten them more, but the mass of the American people will not allow it.
Alas, I think it's futile to discuss the Iranian government in terms of the iranian people. The "government" has worked hard at making sure that their Rube Goldberg system keeps any popular will at bay.
Of course, finding the Iranian government in that system they have is something of a challenge. It's really much like the Soviet Union in that, though there may be a leader somewhere in the mess, it's a committee run dictatorship. It's one of the reasons I worry far less about Iran than Mark B does. Committees do not tend to make rash decisions. Even when the governing ideology is very much into make broad ideological/theological pronouncements.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
I have worked all my adult life and paid taxes so this country could buy/build warehouses full of nuclear weapons.
Now, I want my money's worth.
Why should we have to invade? We don't.
Let's open up those warehouses and drop a butt-load of those nukes on Iran, real soon now. And, if they don't like it and if they continue to act up, let's drop more.
Fears that as soon as Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, it will launch it toward Tel Aviv may be exaggerated. If Iran takes out Tel Aviv, what becomes of Teheran?
Someone asked why pacifists support Kerry.
I'm not exactly a pacifist, but I feel like it's completely insane to tolerate a nuclear strike that's supposed to prevent crazy people from using nuclear weapons. That's just sick.
And I think the risk of invading another country, particularly when the tactics are not well-practiced and kind of flaky, when the other guys haven't done anything much but just because we assume they're crazy enough to do something later -- if I went to a psychiatrist and suggested acting that way on a personal level I'd probably be committed as a danger to myself and others. "I think my neighbor is about to buy a gun. I have some evidence he's planning to. And he's crazy, he says bad things about me, he says I'm paranoid. So I'm trying to figure out when the best time is to shoot him. Or maybe I can break into his house and steal his gun before he uses it, and I'll only shoot him in the leg if he tries to stop me. And just in case none of that works, I'm practicing my target shooting, I think maybe I'll be able to shoot a gun out of his hand, and I'm working on shooting his bullets out of the air."
I'm not a pacifist but under the circumstances I guess I'm the next thing to it.
And I'm voting against Bush because so far Bush looks utterly incompetent. I don't like what I've heard from Kerry, but at least there's a reasonable chance that Kerry would listen to his intelligence guys about what the other side might be doing, and he might listen to the military about what they can do.
Bush didn't do either of those. So maybe Kerry will get us into more stupid wars, but at least he's more likely to plan them adequately. If there's anything worse than getting into a stupid war it's getting into a stupid war you can't get out of, and slowly losing it.
The Powell Doctrine says to outspend the other guys so much that they feel completely overwhelmed and hopeless. Bush is spending the money over 2 years that might have done some good the first month, and he isn't getting much from it. He even messed up the Powell Doctrine that works by spending money like bullets.
I don't have a lot of use for stupid warmongers, but stupid utterly incompetent warmongers ought to get war crimes trials or something. If it was a choice between voting for a random republican and Bush I'd take the random republican. If it was a choice between a random LGF poster and Bush I'd have to think hard about it but I'd probably pick the LGF poster. Bush is just hopeless.
A full scale invasion of Iran via the Iraq model is/was/willbe impossible. Iran is 4x bigger and mountainous. Capturing Iraq has actually made the US a bigger threat to Iran, an Afghanistan style campaign staged out of Iraq on a much grander level is a far more realistic option than the amphibious conventional invasion that would have been required had Iraq not been taken (not to mention the tens of thousands of soldiers and aircraft that would have been required to keep Hussein contained spread out from Turkey to Saudi Arabia).
DT - I'm listening. Aside from your election sale, you do make points.
To address your throwback - it's my belief that people wholeheartedly supported our attack against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The enemy was clear and the threat was imminent, so the justification was unquestioned - even most peaceniks were on board.
In the minds of many, the justification for the Iraqi invasion was never fully clear, and has since been discredited - at least to the peaceniks. Conservatives, however, continue to link both campaigns unambiguously to the WoT, and paint liberals as "wishy-washy" for attempting to hold a distinction between them.
(Kerry has little camera pizzaz; Lieberman has none.)posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"In the minds of many, the justification for the Iraqi invasion was never fully clear, and has since been discredited - at least to the peaceniks. "
Im sure the logic of attacking North Africa after Pearl Harbor was bombed seemed odd to plenty of people, but it makes perfect sense if you understand the underlying thought process. And dont bother reminding me it wasnt sold that way, you dont reveal your strategy like that. If part of the reason for taking Iraq was to triangulate against Iran, telling the world that pretty much guarantees Iran joins in the Iraq fray (which is bad btw).posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Mark Buehner: Great question qw. And the other side of that coin is why dont we take the Iranians seriously when they talk about nuking Israel and grinding the US in the dust?
(Didn't we straighten out the qw/gw confusion before? Short memory?)
I vaguely remember reading about this before, so I'm not questioning that it's true, but could you provide a link to when this was said and who said this?
I mean paul a'barge just said that we should nuke Iran. I have no idea whether he was serious, but Iranians could now report back home that "Americans want to use nuclear weapons against us".
Presumably some higher-up Iranian made that comment that you are referring to, but all I could find in a quick Google search were statements by Iranian officials that threatened severe (but conventional) _retaliation_, if Israel attacked Iran's nuclear facilities.
You see, over the years I have personally got to know a handful of Iranians. They were all very decent and very civilized people. Let's not forget that in the 70s Iran was a fairly modern country - not all of that has been wiped away by the mullahs. I have referred to Kristof's NYT articles about Iran before, and I would urge everybody to read or re-read them again. Iran is not some third-world dictatorship filled with ignorant, brainwashed morons who might as well be incinerated by a nuclear strike as some people here seem to suggest (not that I would agree that there is any such country). What some of you guys are talking about here is quite simply mass murder.
Im sure the logic of attacking North Africa after Pearl Harbor was bombed seemed odd to plenty of people
Indeed it did! To "plenty of people" - first and foremost to Republicans who used this as a pretext to score points in the election of 1942!
They said that the US should focus on Japan rather than get involved in the battle for Europe - which included the northern African shore where Rommel's German troops were threatening to take over the Suez Canal and then the oil fields in the Middle East. And never mind that Germany and Italy had declared war on the US right after Pearl Harbor.
Meanwhile several battles were actually waged in the Pacific, but for a while the US wasn't doing so well (keyword "Bataan Death March"). It's interesting that today's Republican revisionists simply claim that "North Africa was attacked first" when in fact before that the US was simply losing battles against Japan in the Pacific, but somehow that doesn't count.
Midway was the turning point in the Pacific, and even that came before the US/British invasion in North Africa.
So "North Africa was attacked first" is a bunch of crap - technically not totally incorrect in some ways, but completely misleading. I would have hoped that this would have been beneath you, but evidently not.
The quote on using nukes is here:posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
When the russians got nukes we heard quotes of russian leaders saying they'd destroy us.
When the chinese were about to get nukes we got quotes of them saying they were going to destroy us.
Just a little while ago india and pakistan were arguing politely about which of them needed to back down to avoid a nuclear war. Lots of people got concerned and then they negotiated it.
Every nuclear nation so far has used nukes as a stalemate with other nuclear nations. At least a couple of times we thought they wouldn't. We knew the marxist russians were crazy, they didn't think like us, they'd start a nuclear war in a heartbeat if it advanced international communism. And we new the maoists were crazy, they waved that little red book around and did self-criticism, they were crazy as bedbugs and they didn't mind how many chinese got killed, they had a surplus.
I think it's a good thing we didn't start those two wars on the assumption they were that crazy. I can imagine the other side, though, I can imagine people thinking the world would be better off now if we'd nuked russia and china when we had the chance.
But this is really nothing new. I'm not convinced that islamists are that much crazier than russian communists or maoists. Maybe we should study that a lot harder before we start a risky war because we think they'll do something really crazy.
The risks aren't all on one side on this.
"(Didn't we straighten out the qw/gw confusion before? Short memory?)"
Sorry, muscle memory ;)
"You see, over the years I have personally got to know a handful of Iranians. They were all very decent and very civilized people"
My step-dad grew up in Iran, most of his family is still there or recently immigrated here, basically they are my family. They are some of the greatest people in the world. Thats why im eager to see them out from under the Islamofascists. The level of hatred of the regime is high, believe me.
Ill try to track down that link, gw.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
This link has the Israeli side and the Iranian rebuttal, draw your own conclusions from the context.
"The West's support for Israel is liable to bring about World War III, which will be fought between those believers who seek a martyr's death, on the one hand, and those who represent the epitome of arrogance on the other hand", Peres further quoted the former Iranian president as saying in the same speech.
"The establishment of Israel is the most hideous occurrence in history. The Islamic world will not tolerate the continued existence of Israel in the region and will vomit it out from its midst", ADIS Chairman said, according to Peres.
posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Indeed it did! To "plenty of people" - first and foremost to Republicans who used this as a pretext to score points in the election of 1942"
Is that the 'they did it first (50 years ago)!' theory?
""North Africa was attacked first" when in fact before that the US was simply losing battles against Japan in the Pacific, but somehow that doesn't count."
Yes but why doesnt it count that we didnt expend all of our resources to destroy the nation that attacked us originally immediatly? Isnt that the point?
We didnt have several battles in Afghanistan? We arent rounding up AQ as we speak? The analogy holds.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
It seems unlikely that the mullahs won't be replaced by rulers more responsive the people in say half a decade or so. But even if it happens sooner, before Iran has acquired nuclear weapons, why suppose that the new, more responsive, regime would drop the nuclear program? Does anyone doubt that a large majority of Iranian citizens can see no reason why Israel and the United States should be trusted with nuclear weapons and not Iran?posted by: Kerryier on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
“Ultimately, I think there is a real middle ground where the US puts Iran on notice that we will not allow nukes to be developed. A deadline should be given, when they dont comply we should declare the regime defunct and start supplying the Iranian resistance with all manner of weapons and supplies.”
This “middle ground” raises a question - Do acts make a “terrorist” or do goals make a “terrorist”? In that regard - Which of the following are “terrorist” and what distinguishes them from “freedom fighters”?
1. Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb “resistance”.
I can here Osama now:
“Ultimately, I think there is a real middle ground where Islam puts the US on notice that we will not allow them to occupy Arab lands. A deadline should be given, when they dont comply we should declare the regime defunct and start bombing embassies and flying airplanes in to buildings.”
Sounds like war to me – not a “middle ground”. I wouldn’t expect the Iranians (both the leadership and the population) to perceive it any differently.
Prepare to eat your words.
posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Lying to your own public so as not to reveal your strategy is probably tactically logical. And military strikes against an associated enemy that doesn't initially make sense to a suspicious public can certainly be explained later with a review of the "big picture".
But then don't expect that same public to support you unconditionally. At least in presidential election terms, the WoT has been waged in the public relations arena as much as in the mid-east. Maybe its just a sign of our times, but that sure seems to matter to voters.
And please don't confuse the notion that I recognize it as meaning I agree with it.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Thanks to AM and MB for looking up the links. So it was Rafsanjani (whom we formerly considered a promising reformer) who talked about a nuclear "stalemate" and dared to elaborate what this means. Admittedly, the headline that the Iran Press Service put on this news item - "Rafsanjani says Muslims should use Nuclear Weapon against Israel" was not helpful.
Mark, if you have family in Iran, then I really don't understand why you aren't just as upset as I am about those indiscriminate "let's nuke'em" proposals.
I'm truly sorry you can't see how absurd your WWII analogy is. Japan, Germany, Italy were officially declared allies, waging war together. Germany and Italy actually declared war on the US. And besides all of that, the US should have entered the war in Europe long before Pearl Harbor happened. There is simply no sensible analogy whatsoever between that unique historical situation and today's teror threat from Al Qaeda on the one hand and a mad, hostile, but contained dictator in Iraq on the other hand.
I see little interest in the Bush administration for an increase in those forces that would make an invasion and occupation conceivable. On the contrary, I see a very strong effort toward missle defense, which seems to assume our enemies will get nukes and delivery systems, and a misplaced hope that the delivery mechanisms will be predictable and can be countered. So while Bush might be better than Kerry on the problem of Iran, the difference does not seem to me large enough to be decisive.
A sound analysis. I don't see that either party's candidate has anything like a good or coherent strategy re Iran. In the absence of which we have a very vague, stereotyped impression that Kerry would not use sticks and that Bush would not use carrots.
Given how far along the Iranian program is, its focus on centrifuging rather than Osirak-style facilities, and thus the extreme difficulty of destroying it in one fell swoop, it seems fair to say that our best shot is a mix of carrot and stick.
I don't see any advantage to either party here: Bush has employed neither force nor effective diplomacy against Korea, and Kerry's so lacking in clarity or resolve that I've no idea what he and his handlers intend to to do with the mullahs.
A pretty shitty situation all around.
posted by: lex on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"This “middle ground” raises a question - Do acts make a “terrorist” or do goals make a “terrorist”? In that regard - Which of the following are “terrorist” and what distinguishes them from “freedom fighters”?"
I thought we stopped having this stupid conversation when people started flying planes into our buildings. If you cant tell rank evil when you see it, why should I bother trying to convince you with mere words. The Mullahs are evil people. Judge it by its fruits my man.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Mark, if you have family in Iran, then I really don't understand why you aren't just as upset as I am about those indiscriminate "let's nuke'em" proposals"
Im upset, but that doesnt mean i can ignore the very real possibility. Railing against it wont change the reality one whit. Thats why we have to act now and decisively, the road only gets darker from here.
"There is simply no sensible analogy whatsoever between that unique historical situation and today's teror threat from Al Qaeda on the one hand and a mad, hostile, but contained dictator in Iraq on the other hand."
There is a sensible analogy. Italy was certainly no threat to the US, much less North Africa or Sicily. But we removed those pawns from the board because they were in our way. Iraq may not have been a great threat at the time, but if we for instance had our hands full of Iran (and pragmatically still assumed Iraq had ample WMD as we would have) Iraq could have become a major promblem in a short amount of time. The guy taking potshots at our jets and trying to assassinated our former presidents isnt exactly Switzerland. In war, you dont leave an enemy at your back if you can help it, especially when eliminating him puts you in a good position to deal with the next one. We took out the pathetic Italy to get next to the dangerous Germany.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
The notion that C+ Augustus and crew have had a sound and wily grand plan at work died somewhere in the vicinity of Fallujah, or was it Mosul, or was it Najaf, or was it Basra?
posted by: Waffle on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
When Evil does evil - its evil.
"The notion that C+ Augustus and crew have had a sound and wily grand plan at work died somewhere in the vicinity of Fallujah, or was it Mosul, or was it Najaf, or was it Basra"
Yeh, because those places really compare to Kasserine Pass or Anzio, and we know what a failure that war turned out to be. There's a good chance we'll lose this war if we dont get some perspective on how difficult war is. 10 years from now people will be amazed things went so smoothly compared to every other war ever fought.
Thats why we have to act now and decisively, the road only gets darker from here.
Not necessarily. Iran could have a bright future, if it could rid itself of the mullahs from within. There is a real chance this might happen over the next few years. In fact, if we hadn't invaded Iraq, the chance would probably be bigger.
There is a sensible analogy. Italy was certainly no threat to the US, much less North Africa or Sicily.
You are making no sense here. Sicily is and was part of Italy. "North Africa" isn't a country that we attacked, North Africa is the geographic region where German troops were battling the British and trying to take over the Suez Canal and the oil fields. It was also the only place where German troops could be engaged without an extremely risky invasion by sea (American troops landed in Moroccan and Algerian ports where Vichy French soldiers allied with Hitler surrendered within three days).
But we removed those pawns from the board because they were in our way.
Nonsense. Those weren't "pawns" - Italy was one of the three axis powers, the weakest one, for sure, but certainly not just a "pawn". Germany was the major threat to Europe. The US attacked German troops in North Africa - to help the British and also the Russians who were desperate to get some relief on the eastern front. These were countries that had openly declared war on pretty much the rest of the civilized World.
It's frustrating to see these completely wrong historical comparisons made to justify actions in today's completely different war on terror. Administration officials like Rice and Rumsfeld have made similarly misguided historical comparisons, especially to post-WWII Germany. We have people in charge who are clueless about World history. This is quite simply horrible.
I sometimes wonder why the Bush administration doesn't at least put knowledgeable ideologues in charge. Maybe the answer is that there aren't any knowledgeable ideologues. If you actually know what happened and understand it, then you aren't likely to be an ideologue. And thus unfit to serve in this administration - or as one of its apologists, for that matter.
How about the botched practice excercize for D-day where an unarmed convoy blundered into German torpedo boats killing 750 Americans in a few _hours_. Thats about what we've lost in almost a year and a half in Iraq so far in combat. A little perspective is in order here.
Ah, fresh from Rush Limbaugh's guide to WWII, right?
But far from being an everyday occurrence - as you and Limbaugh seem to suggest this was - this event was considered a horribly embarrassing disaster that was so bad that it was kept mostly secret until 1974!
So what are you doing here? Comparing the Iraq war to an unmitigated disaster? Very interesting, I have to say, very interesting! Just keep those WWII comparisons coming, I can hardly wait for more...
"Not necessarily. Iran could have a bright future, if it could rid itself of the mullahs from within. There is a real chance this might happen over the next few years."
Perhaps, but can they do it before nukes are developed, and if they dont what happens to the nukes in the upheaval? If Bitter Cleric X gets chased out of power what might he decide to do with his nuclear toy? Relying on luck isnt a great idea i think.
"In fact, if we hadn't invaded Iraq, the chance would probably be bigger."
Why? Arent a lot of Iranian zealots dying on American bullets instead of cracking Iranian students skulls? Dont the Iranian people see that Bush is serious about following through on his objectives? Wont a democratic Iraq be a _huge_ influence on the Iranian middle class?
"You are making no sense here"...
Now you're talking semantics, i know perfectly well the geography of the region which I think you realize. I was using campaign terminogy.
"Nonsense. Those weren't "pawns" - Italy was one of the three axis powers, the weakest one, for sure, but certainly not just a "pawn". "
Italy had no power to project military power in 1943, certainly not against the US. Italy was invaded to divert _German_ forces to defend Italy, as well as to possibly open a southern attack axis against Europe. Italy itself had no value to the allies.
"It's frustrating to see these completely wrong historical comparisons made to justify actions in today's completely different war on terror"
Im illustrating a point that there is a consistant logic in the strategy that has a historical parallel. PARALLEL. That doesnt mean its identical. I'll give you 10 more if you'd like.
"I sometimes wonder why the Bush administration doesn't at least put knowledgeable ideologues in charge"
I sometimes wonder why people believe that knowledgeable=agreeing with what i believe.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"More ominously, Israel would not sit by idly as Tehran closed in on a working bomb and would likely launch a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. At which point, the world’s most strategically important region would presumably spontaneously combust".
The region didn't spontaneously combust when the Israel took out the Iraqi reactor. It won't spontaneously combust if / when they take out the Iranian reactor.
When they do, everyone will comdemn them ( the US included) but as with desrtroying the Iraqi program, we all will thank them in our heart of hearts.posted by: P. Van Eeuwen on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"So what are you doing here? Comparing the Iraq war to an unmitigated disaster? Very interesting"
Well, lets see, the country didnt freak out and elect Thomas Dewey in 1944, nor pull the plug and bring the troops home. Are you being intentionally dense? Im comparing an entire war that conquored a large nation with the cost of a single night in WW2. That's unparalled in military history. In a good way. To pretend the Iraq war has been a disaster is absurd on any historical scale.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Let's take a look at the predictive powers of David Thomson in order to get a guage of how well he reads situations - from de Long's site:
"I will predict that in less than two years the United States will have better relations with Iran than with these Europeans. The latter are too far gone down the Soci~alist road."
Posted by: David Thomson on December 6, 2002 05:30 AM"
If Bitter Cleric X gets chased out of power what might he decide to do with his nuclear toy?/I>
If one of those assassination attempts on Musharraf finally succeeds, what's going to happen to Pakistan's nukes?
Surely in both cases the answer will be that the nuclear weapons are kept somewhere safe by elite army forces.
Relying on luck isnt a great idea i think.
And yet we are already doing that in Pakistan, it seems.
Dont the Iranian people see that Bush is serious about following through on his objectives?
Perhaps, but what do they think his objectives are? Kill Muslims?
Wont a democratic Iraq be a _huge_ influence on the Iranian middle class?
Why should it be any more an influence than Turkey is or Afghanistan might be (if we had focused on establishing a true democracy there)?
For now I think the increased perceived threat from our troops deployed so close to Iran vastly outweighs any potential benefit from establishing democracy in Iraq - if it ever happens. What's happening in Najaf right now could also turn into another major blow to potential US-Iranian relations, especially if we damage the sacred Shiite shrine (or even if Sadr's thugs make it look that way).
Italy itself had no value to the allies.
Well, at least we have moved out of Africa now. But what are you saying now - Italy could have been left alone and ignored? We'll just deal with Germany and Japan and leave the Italians in their misery under Mussolini? I guess that would have been an interesting approach.
But that Italy had "no value" makes the comparison to Iraq even more bizarre. I thought Iraq will be of such great strategic value in the Middle East? A shining beacon of democracy and all that?
Or do you seriously want to focus on the diversion argument now? So, just as Italy was invaded to divert German efforts there, we invaded Iraq as a diversion for the terrorists? Draw them into Iraq so that they don't attack us anymore? Don't you think that could be considered a criminal act?
Would you please start realizing - as I'm sure you actually already do - that WWII was a pretty well-defined war against three major armies, a war with relatively well-defined objectives, whereas the war on terror is a very different kind of war with a much more flexible enemy that is much harder to strike using just military force?
In other words, that WWII and the war on terror are simply not comparable in any way?
"If one of those assassination attempts on Musharraf finally succeeds, what's going to happen to Pakistan's nukes?"
Absolutely a concern, but Musharraf isnt a crazy islamacist and for the moment we dont have any options, on the other hand the Mullahs could develop weapons tomorrow for all we know.
"Surely in both cases the answer will be that the nuclear weapons are kept somewhere safe by elite army forces."
No, because the Mullahs will be the ones keeping them, and they are the crazies, thats what you arent getting. The lunatics run that asylum.
"And yet we are already doing that in Pakistan, it seems."
True but unfortionately Pakistan already _has_ nukes, which makes the situation moot. We can hardly attack our ally to destroy his stockpile particularly when the counterattack would be nuclear. That the point of not letting nasty regimes get nukes in the first place. You have to stop them before they go nuclear or they become immune and its too late.
"Perhaps, but what do they think his objectives are? Kill Muslims"
That is absurd, if that were his goal there would be precious few Iraqis left. Iranians arent dumb, the reformers know exactly what happened. The zealots wont be convinced anyway so whats the point of worrying about what they think?
"Why should it be any more an influence than Turkey is or Afghanistan might be (if we had focused on establishing a true democracy there)?"
They would be surrounded by democracies instead of having a crazy dictator on their border that has invaded before. If Iraq is successful _of course_ it will be encouraging for the reformers. Hell Saudi Arabia is having elections all the sudden, and letting women vote. Sure, its all a coincidence.
"What's happening in Najaf right now could also turn into another major blow to potential US-Iranian relations, especially if we damage the sacred Shiite shrine "
Again, you're worried about the zealots instead of the reformers. We cant win over the zealots, and we probably cant make them hate us any more than they already do. They shouldnt enter into our calculations.
"Well, at least we have moved out of Africa now. But what are you saying now - Italy could have been left alone and ignored?"
Of course! Certainly until Germany was dealt with. Was Romania on top of our target list?
"I thought Iraq will be of such great strategic value in the Middle East?"
PARALLEL NOT DUPLICATE
"Draw them into Iraq so that they don't attack us anymore? Don't you think that could be considered a criminal act?"
Fly paper theory, its been well documented. Another crazy neocon brainstorm that has killed hundreds of foriegn terrorists. Criminal? We didnt force AQ to come fight in Iraq.
Not in 'any way'? We didnt use rifles and tanks in both? We didnt send soldiers over sea in both? Come on, your being ridiculously absolutist. You can disagree with my reasoning, but to suggest it is completely without _possible_ merit is kind of silly. Of course there are lessons to be drawn, there always are.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Your point that, when compared to WWII, Iraq has been a huge success, is irrelevant here. I know you don't want to hear any more about how the Iraq invasion was sold to the public. But it's easy to believe you're right when you refuse to hear the rebuttal. When compared to the expectations given the public by this Administration, the Iraq invasion has been a major disappointment.
I'm not giving a war opinion here, I'm giving an election opinion. As I stated earlier, if all the hype and false evidence was part of a larger tactical scheme, it is doomed to fail because these tacticians are empowered (elected) by the same people they deceived. All military and policy strategies aside, it's an election year.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
I think that you both have overlooked about a billion nuclear-armed Indians that might have something to say about a radical regime that overthrows Pakistan. Not an easy thing to do, upon reflection.
Plus, gw, you are assuming that the rest of the world, aside from Israel, would sit idly by should Iran verge on going nuclear they may not agree with the US/UK policy in Iraq, but would they really have much of a leg to stand on in Iran?
Putin, Chirac, and Schreoder may have different policy objectives when it comes to Iraq but certain there would be a confluence of Western opinion regarding a newly nuclear power astride vast oil reserves.posted by: Phocion on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"When compared to the expectations given the public by this Administration, the Iraq invasion has been a major disappointment."
Wish, im not disagreeing with you. You are right, but expectations are not reality. If the administration doesnt present its case convincingly this fall, its their own problem. But that doesnt change the impact of what has happened. The argument here is about perceptions, no question. But its important for the American people to know the impact of their decision this fall, even if Bush and co cant get it across for whatever reason. Appearance is not reality, and a lack of communication ability does not mean a lack of results. Personally I have no investment in this administration aside from the fact that they are going in the direction i am at the moment and have shown amazing steadfastness and patience. Read Tommy Franks book.
"if all the hype and false evidence was part of a larger tactical scheme, it is doomed to fail because these tacticians are empowered (elected) by the same people they deceived"
There was no false evidence, there was incorrect evidence. There was no deception, there was incompetance (in everyone from the CIA to the White House to the Congressional oversite to MI-6 to the Kremlin to the Arab leaders who warned Tommy Franks of WMDs). You are absolutely right that in order to be reelected Bush will have to convince the American people those mistakes are less damaging than the successes, and that they will be corrected in the future. But again, that is simply perception, the reality on the ground is that Hussein is gone for good, and chances are we will have a powerful axe hanging over our 2 biggest terrorism problems Syria and Iran for a good amount of time, not to mention the democratic ripples already spreading in the region. No matter what happens that cant be undone, so win lose or draw for Bush, the world is a better place today for his actions. I can live with that, particularly if the successes are nourished and not abandoned.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"I will predict that in less than two years the United States will have better relations with Iran than with these Europeans. The latter are too far gone down the Soci~alist road."
Posted by: David Thomson on December 6, 2002 05:30 AM"
Less than 4 months to go...
It's possible that in less than 4 months the USA could have even worse relations with europe than with iran.
Let's all pray that this prediction comes out wrong.
Surely in both cases the answer will be that the nuclear weapons are kept somewhere safe by elite army forces."
No, because the Mullahs will be the ones keeping them, and they are the crazies, thats what you arent getting. The lunatics run that asylum.
So, each Mullah gets a nuke to keep under his desk? Maybe he puts it in the cabinet next to his Koran?
It's Mullahs running the centrifuges and all the rest?
Why wouldn't the Mullahs let the army keep the nukes? It's the army that would use them, isn't it?posted by: J Thomas on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Fly paper theory, its been well documented. Another crazy neocon brainstorm that has killed hundreds of foriegn terrorists. Criminal? We didnt force AQ to come fight in Iraq.
Typical neocon brainstorm. "Now that we've done this stuff and it got all these unexpected consequences, what kind of crazy explanations can we come up with?"
A quarter of a trillion dollars to kill a few hundred terrorists? That's like a billion dollars each, not counting our own casualties.
I've actually heard people who were reasonably intelligent on other topics parrot this line. They must have some secret weapon, some sort of selective-stupidity field they use on people who show up at the wrong place and the wrong time.
"I will predict that in less than two years the United States will have better relations with Iran than with these Europeans. The latter are too far gone down the Soci~alist road."
Posted by: David Thomson on December 6, 2002 05:30 AM""
Yup, I deserve to be taken to task. I was only half right. We do have better relations with the younger Iranians than the Old Europeans. Unfortunately, the Mullahs still retain the power over the nation's weaponry. And yes, being half right in this instance is simply not good enough.posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"A quarter of a trillion dollars to kill a few hundred terrorists? That's like a billion dollars each, not counting our own casualties."
We have also provided the Iraqi people with the opportunity to a free society. This is the first domino, and it will impact positively the rest of the Middle East.posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Posted by: David Thomson on December 6, 2002 05:30 AM"
Wait a minute, what in hell is going on? Why is someone spending the time to search the Internet for comments I wrote around a year and a half ago? Are they being paid? This is most peculiar. Does this make any sense?posted by: David Thomson on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
We can hardly attack our ally to destroy his stockpile particularly when the counterattack would be nuclear.
What a telling comment! Can you really not think of anything else but attacking other countries? How about putting pressure on our "ally" Pakistan to give up its nuclear weapons? How about making India and Pakistan both agree to do so? It may take a while to convince them, true. It may take a more diplomatically skilled President than the one we have, true. But it shouldn't be ruled out as a possibility.
And failing immediate success with that, how about doing something to make those weapons more secure in the meantime? How about doing something to proactively prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, especially in case of a coup in Pakistan? Some agreement that if Musharraf is killed and the crazies take over, we will secure the nukes and take them out of the country?
But no, you guys wouldn't even THINK of those kinds of things. All you can think of is attack, attack and attack.
Iranians arent dumb, the reformers know exactly what happened. The zealots wont be convinced anyway so whats the point of worrying about what they think?
Your thinking is again way too simplistic - Iran doesn't just consist of well-meaning reformers and crazy zealots. To begin with, the reformers aren't necessarily US-friendly - they have to be won over. Remember, Rafsanjani was once considered a reformer; now he is your evil posterboy who wants to nuke Israel. How did this happen? Might other "reformers" go down that same path?
We cant win over the zealots, and we probably cant make them hate us any more than they already do.
I thought Qaddafi was your prime counter-example.
Fly paper theory, its been well documented. Another crazy neocon brainstorm that has killed hundreds of foriegn terrorists.
And helped them recruit thousands of new terrorists. Great achievement, congratulations!
Criminal? We didnt force AQ to come fight in Iraq.
Another wonderful misunderstanding. Not drawing terrorists into Iraq is criminal, but invading Iraq for the sole purpose of achieving that goal would be! (Note you conveniently dropped the "we invaded Iraq as a diversion for the terrorists?" question when quoting me.)
Of course there are lessons to be drawn, there always are.
Interestingly, many Europeans seem to think that the main lesson from WWII applicable to the present situation was to avoid waging a war in the first place. I actually think that's a very silly argument, but yours is about equally silly, just from the other end.
Remember, Rafsanjani was once considered a reformer; now he is your evil posterboy who wants to nuke Israel. How did this happen?
It's a dream. It's fantasy. It isn't supposed to make sense.
Two thoughts --
I was thinking about how the iraqis can protect themselves from invasion after we leave. They aren't going to have much in the way of armor or heavy weapons or airplanes. What if somebody invades them?
And then I realised -- nobody in their right minds would invade iraq. After they see what it was like for us, they'd have to be utterly guano-crazy to do it.
How could we possibly persuade india and pakistan to de-nuke? It's absurd. How could they possibly be persuaded that they're better off without nukes, when it's obvious they're better off with them?
Well, we could give up our own nukes and show the world how much money we save that way, and if we can do OK without nukes that would be an advertisement for others. We could ask the french to nuke anybody who nukes us -- they'd probably do that for us if we told them how important they were to us.
If we gave up our nukes would russia and china? I dunno. Nukes are expensive, and they aren't much good except for keeping your enemies from nuking you. Oh, and you can threaten countries that don't have nukes. "I want you to know that my country is the kind of country that would nuke a defenseless nation and kill half its civilians, just because they don't do what we want about some things that probably seem trivial to you. Just give in. Give in and be our ally, or else. Remember, if you aren't for us then you're against us." Not the reputation I'd want for my country....
So, does anybody really want to nuke us? Would they want as bad to nuke us if we didn't have nukes?
don't forget pakistan's importance in central asia
i don't think a persian/shia bomb is as necessarily destabilizing as most analyst-wonk-pundits make it out to be, partly because i think the proliferation genie is already out of the bottle and managing its spread (rather than stopping it outright) is more of the challenge -- it's a strategic opportunity even because it seems as if most nations (after a bit of brinksmanship) settle down and become responsible members of the nuclear club, sort of a libertarian 2nd amendment "more guns, less crime" argument (sales to "non-state actors" notwithstanding), e.g. india and pakistan coming to the table; so the question is how do you encourage more of that.
and tactically, it forces israel and the rest of the (sunni) mideast to lay their hands down (israel officially admitting its WMD program and saudi (and egypt?) acknowledging how far along they are in theirs) -- iran has been pretty transparent about its intentions and capabilities lately and i think that transparency could make the region more stable rather than less; obviously it goes against rice's stated NSS, but again, i think it's something the US is going to have to learn to live with rather than actively surpress, which may make it worse... of course i could be wrong and i am not an expert!
and finally on the pacific front :D
there's a good reason why the US fills the security vacuum in east asia, not just that the majority of japanese want to remain a pacifist nation: if japan "kept the peace" (blue water navy, nuclear arsenal, etc.) without careful consideration (some sort of NATO arrangement?), there'd be a quick military escalation, particularly with china, but also perhaps with other SE asian countries as well and maybe even a regional ally in s.korea... it's not in anyone's economic interests to start up strategic rivalries (including the US'), but there it is as long as the US is perceived at least nominally as a neutral broker in the region.
note the carrot-and-simultaneous-stick to effective nonproliferation in this theater -- the disincentive to escalation because it would hinder economic growth in the region + the appearance of the US as a neutral broker; else, what's the downside to pursuing the nuclear option? given developing WMD gets you bargaining power and maybe even aid (see NK) while preventing invasion to those hostile to your regime and interests, it's amazing to me that more countries don't have nuclear weapons programs. it's either a testament to the difficulty and expensiveness of such an endeavor or that when playing "civilization," for many to "win" isn't to conquer, subjugate and spread, it's enough to exist, survive, and indeed, just play.posted by: glory on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
This is a good post with a number of thoughtful points included. But I have some misgivings about it. What does paying any attention to David Thomsen add to the post? He doesn’t do his homework on many issues and he sounds like the good old off-the-wall survivalists and “Freemen” we have out here in the least-known state. I class him as one of the un-American types whose answer to any question from gay marriage to Iraq is “nuke ‘em”.
Second, how many of you have read a history of WWII? We were at de facto war with Germany at sea in the Atlantic before Pearl Harbor. The German Bund, right wing heroes like Charles Lindbergh, and the isolationists were trying to keep us from declaring war. But at that time we had precedent going back as far as the War of Jenkins Ear in the 18th Century and the Lusitania at the beginning of WWI. Those of us on the East Coast at the time knew what was going on while much of the rest of the country, the heartland, didn’t. My uncle was already in the military by Pearl Harbor. I remember having to be hosed down after swimming off Staten Island because of oil slicks from tankers torpedoed off Sandy Hook. I also remember going into secure apartments when planes were spotted coming over that same Sandy Hook. We were sure we were going to be attacked sometime. That was a false alarm. But we were prepared.
Why didn’t we go after Japan first? Because we had a crippled fleet and we had to have sea power to attack an island nation. As it was, we beat them at Midway with fewer ships and more luck. We could have lost the war right there. But they did instead. From then on it was a battle to determine how decisive our victory would be. And we went into Guadalcanal in 1942 as well as North Africa.
Hitler saw that if he could control the Suez Canal and the, at that time, limited oil output of North Africa, he could keep his forces rolling in Europe against Russia and power his planes and invasion fleet against Britain. He also knew he could control the Mediterranean. We couldn‘t let that happen and we knew that we could help the British in North Africa. And we did. You mention Kasserine Pass, but you’re only talking about the first battle. We won the second and destroyed the African Korps which the British had already blown back from Cairo. North Africa was not an accidental campaign. It was an effort to weaken the Germans while we built up our strength. We thought we could go up Italy and get to the soft underbelly of Germany. But the Germans were putting a lot of pressure on Russia and Stalin wanted a more effective second front that would help take the pressure off him.
And don’t any of you insult the memory of Anzio by comparing it to the fuster-cluck of Iraq. We lost a lot of men there, but we won in the end and drove inland. An elderly friend of mine fought there and it was a lot of effort, blood and tears that took them to that victory. He still remembers the beating they took. But they stuck it out. We were fighting three enemies and one of them was Italy. Remember that if you question the North African and Italian campaigns: We were fighting three enemies.
Third, I wonder how come so many of you want to use a nuke? Do you really believe that if we use one we won’t become targets ourselves? There are other nations out there who, when they realize we will use them, are certain to decide that we might attack them as a protective step. There may even be a few that we don’t know of because they don’t advertise that they have the nukes and the capability to launch them. (I admit that’s doubtful, but not every nation comes easily into our visibility—especially the stans.)
Fourth, somehow you equate nations that hate each other as possible allies. If our target was originally Iran, as some of you seem to be tacitly postulating, they why waste efforts and resources on Iraq? Our former friend, Saddam Hussein, and his secular sunnis could, I suspect, have been turned into at least temporary allies in an attack on shia Iran. And we’ve used tools like him before. The 9/11 Commission Report indicates that while Iran probably aided and abetted the transit of terrorists out of Afghanistan without visas, it was an uneasy truce because the Taliban and Al Qaeda are fundamentalist sunni wahabis or akin to them.
Are we in danger from militant muslims with nuclear bombs? Probably. Our anti-terror experts right now seem to think that we are in more danger from dirty bombs, conventional detonation material mixed with nuclear wastes. Earlier here, or at another post on this blog, someone commented that the former Soviet bombs would be pretty much deteriorated by now. But what he didn’t say was that the material can still be used to devastate us and, I would suggest, given the amount available, much more likely. Attacking Iran would not make us safer. I suggest that if you who may be on the coasts think you're any safer since Hussein fell, I've got a bridge that you can collect tolls on that I'll sell you cheap.
One final question: why is the bushite campaign and defense always to attack the other man as fraud or a “liberal”, which should not be a bad word, and not defend their own policies with proof and accuracy?posted by: chuck rightmire on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
That's a very good post - thanks for adding all those details.
I think it's very unfortunate that details are more and more despised in these days of the quick soundbite and the vast simplification. Even worse, detail and nuance are increasingly met with scorn and ridicule.
The scaries part is how lack of attention to detail is being turned into a valuable asset of political leadership.
(Sorry for the typo in a sentence about attention to detail...)
"What a telling comment! Can you really not think of anything else but attacking other countries? How about putting pressure on our "ally" Pakistan to give up its nuclear weapons"
What a telling comment! Dont you realize that Pakistan will under _no_ circumstances voluntarilly give up its nuclear arsenal? Typical. You guys are so out of touch with reality and keep hatching plans premised on other people doing things utterly opposed to their self interest. Pakistan wont give up its nukes because its their key to power in the world. Its the lynchpin in their security. That is like asking America to give up California. IT WONT HAPPEN, STOP WASTING TIME. The same is true for the Mullahs, nothing is more important than getting nukes, hence nothing we can offer them will make them stop. What is it with you people that you are so convinced of your diplomatic prowess that you think you can get powerful foriegn leaders to do something they are _demonstrably_ not going to do?
"Some agreement that if Musharraf is killed and the crazies take over, we will secure the nukes and take them out of the country?"
How do you know this hasnt already happened? It certainly wouldnt be made public.
"Interestingly, many Europeans seem to think that the main lesson from WWII applicable to the present situation was to avoid waging a war in the first place. "
And strangely they forget that the war became what it was for the simple reason that they thought they could negotiate a dictator into doing things he had no interest in doing.
posted by: mark buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"Why didn’t we go after Japan first? Because we had a crippled fleet and we had to have sea power to attack an island nation"
Demonstrably false. The rest of your post utterly unrelated to anything i said. Apparently trying to draw historical analogies is a losing battle around here because somebody is always going to point out some unrelated detail that differs. Duh. For anyone still paying attention, the point is that its easy to judge a campaign a failure in the middle of it by microcriticising every setback. Hell, remember the panic during the invasion when our supply lines got attacked? The arm chair generals screaming about the wreckless failed plan? People freaked out when we didnt conquor Iraq in the first week! Same thing happened in Afghanistan. Get a grip on yourselves. Iraq is a long term project and it is _far_ from a disaster, and the enemy always has a vote.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Interesting post. Thanks for the details (and the memories). Your Staten island experience and others could make for an interesting memoir. Just remember me when you're rich and famous :-)
However, I take issue with your parting shots:
I suggest that if you who may be on the coasts think you're any safer since Hussein fell, I've got a bridge that you can collect tolls on that I'll sell you cheap.
Of course we're safer. Al Qaeda are now directing their energies against targets in the muslim world and in Asia and Europe. This isn't good news for the Spaniards, or the French or the Turks, but without question we are safer now than when the prime target was the US.
In addition, Saddam's ouster is of course a significant security benefit. As the oil-for-fraud scam shows, the sanctions by 2002 were so easily avoided by Saddam that he could move billions through Russian-mafia havens like Dubai and Geneva and also kickback tens of millions to the Kremlin, Zhirinovsky, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church etc. Given the determination of Putin's government to do business with Saddam, and the porousness of the former SU's borders, do you seriously think that Saddam and his psychotic sons if left in power would not in the near future gain bio or chem weapons, or even dirty nukes, from the former SU? If sanctions' effectiveness by 2002 had waned so sharply, imagine how likely the slippage of former soviet NBC weapons to Saddam-Uday-Qusay when the sanctions were lifted!
Regarding the intermingling of Russian mafia, Arab and Putin regime elements, have you noticed the location of the company that Putin is now lining up to take over most of Yukos's assets? Dubai. That's the same mafia laundromat through which Saddam funneled most of his billions from oil-for-fraud.
Really, I'm more than a bit surprised that someone as sophisticated as you cannot see the clear and present danger offered by Saddam Uday and Qusay, in league with the Russian FSB and their mafia cronies.posted by: lex on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
leave it to our incompetent mainstream media to fail to note the FSB-mafia connection and to pick up on Putin's endgame re Yukos. Meet the new oligarch-thief, same as the old oligarch-thief.
And guess who received the most oil-for-fraud kickbacks from Saddam-Uday-Qusay?
"Office of the Russian President: $90 million."posted by: lex on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
For anyone interested, the 'Germany-first' plan was American policy _before_ Pearl Harbor (should America enter the war) and in fact the basic strategy dated back over a decade and was constantly refined as WW2 evolved from 37-41.
These expectations were more than fulfilled. Though the war when it came opened with an attack in the Pacific, the President and his military advisers made it clear at the outset in the first of the wartime conferences with the British held at Washington in December 1941-January 1942 (ARCADIA) that they would stand by their decision to defeat Germany first. Not once during the course of the war was this decision successfully challenged. "posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Mark: I may have misunderstood some of what you were saying about WWII because it really doesn’t connect. I don’t think any of the battles in Iraq compare with Kasserine Pass I or Anzio as losses. We took a beating at those two and came back. We’ve just had hard fighting in the Iraqi cities but not the devastating setbacks. However, it does seem to me that you have made an inaccurate analogy to WWII compared to Iraq. Saddam Hussein was no Hitler. Letting him survive would have been no big deal to us. We might have done more by lifting the sanctions and helping the people overturn his regime. That’s never mind now and not worth arguing about.
I would suggest, however, that your last post about my previous negates some of the comments you have made earlier, such as “we removed these pawns because they were in our way” as though taking North Africa and Italy were not part of a plan designed to take the Axis apart. And, as it turned out, except for upsetting the German plans by denying them access through the Suez Canal, we might not have had to take on North Africa or Italy when we did. I don’t think my comments about the fleet or Midway are, in any way, “demonstrably false.” However, maybe commenting on the post as to why we attacked Germany first was, because we were already at war with Germany, de facto, in the Battle of the Atlantic.
As we found out just a few months after the election of 1944, although we broke precedent and elected FDR for a fourth term, we did survive a presidential changeover by luckily getting one of the greatest of the lesser-known presidents. Truman’s policies designed by George Marshall led us to victory in the Cold War some 45 years later. So I don’t fear changing horses in the middle of crisis.
Lex, you make some good points, but Al Qaeda focuses on striking the head of the snake. They got lucky when they hit the world trade center, because they brought on the collapse of buildings that nobody in their right minds would have considered possible. Bin Laden considers us the head of the snake and all of the noise that our intelligence agencies have been reporting—again—seems to focus on an attack on us. I would not feel safe if I didn’t live in a sparsely populated state that would only be targeted in a general nuclear strike. But I do live close to the border where biological strikes would be easy.
Saddam was no danger to us. It was obvious from the start of talks against Iraq that the reasons were not there. We were given accurate information on Afghanistan and the Taliban that fit into information from non-government sources. What we were getting on Iraq did not have that soundness of quality.
And I would like to point out that an exchange of nuclear blasts anywhere in the world, us against the Iranian plants or the Indians against the Pakistanis will have long term effects on our current way of life. Most of the time we think of heat, radiation and blast impact when we think of the mushroom cloud. But our civilization has come to depend on electronics, heavily on satellite electronics. Nuclear blasts involve electro-magnetic pulses that could very well knock out a significant amount of our electronic communications, particularly our television and telephone communication satellites that may be in the same hemisphere and that are least likely to be hardened against that kind of an attack. Think of the consequences.posted by: chuck rightmire on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
". I don’t think any of the battles in Iraq compare with Kasserine Pass I or Anzio as losses"
I dont either, the point was that the set backs in Iraq do not mean we arent succeeding, there are set backs in every war.
"Saddam Hussein was no Hitler. Letting him survive would have been no big deal to us"
There is no way to tell if that is a true statement. But i wasnt comparing Iraq with Hitler, my point was that Iraq is a part of the same war, and just as in WW2 we attacked Morocco and Italy before we attacked Germany for strategic reasons, so we attacked Iraq at this time. There can be no question that Hussein was an enemy and that if an opportunity arose he would harm our nation if he could. Besides that it required vast resources to contain him indefinately. We have removed that threat from our rear and eventually those resources will become available.
" we might not have had to take on North Africa or Italy when we did."
My point was we didnt 'have' to take them on at all, we chose to because it made good strategic sense. Tens of thousands of German troops, tanks, and aircraft were devoted to protecting Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Tying down and killing those troops was a boon for the Allies. Imagine if Rommel had been at Stalingrad instead of in Egypt, the war might have gone completely differently.
I understand the confusion, there are several different analagies floating around this thread. Setting all that aside, it makes good military sense to be in Iraq considering Iran and Syria are the nations most belligerant to us at the moment. Certainly more valuable than hundreds of thousands of troops blundering around Afghanistan repeating the Russians mistakes as some have suggested.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Second, how many of you have read a history of WWII?
More than you apparently...
...we beat them at Midway with fewer ships and more luck. We could have lost the war right there.
Japan would have won the war if they won Midway? ROTFL! Delayed the inevitable perhaps. Our industrial output was greater than all the axis powers combined.
And don’t any of you insult the memory of Anzio by comparing it to the fuster-cluck of Iraq.
Listen here grandpa, don't you dare insult our generation's success in Iraq (fewer than 800 combat deaths) by holding up your generation's fuster-cluck in Anzio (29,000 combat casualties including 4,400 dead & 6,800 prisoners or missing + 37,000 non-combat casualties) as a model of how things should be done.
Third, I wonder how come so many of you want to use a nuke? Do you really believe that if we use one we won’t become targets ourselves?
We're already a target. You may think MAD is the best strategy for countering suicidal jihadis, but I don't.
Fourth, somehow you equate nations that hate each other as possible allies.
It's a good thing Poland didn't succumb to such wrong-headed thinking in 1939, eh?posted by: James DeBenedetti on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Well, James, you seem to have joined the anti-Americans who equate name calling with thinking. I'm not worried about your Iraq war. I'm just saying it has no analogy with WWII. And I have no idea what you mean by the Polish comment. It doesn't seem at all relevant. Iraq is a totally different war. There is no comparison. I know we're already targets. I confessed to that when I suggested that we're no safer now than when we went to Iraq. And my point was that the Iraq war is not a fuster-cluck in comparison to either Kasserine Pass I or Anzio. There have been no major setbacks of that nature as Mark was suggesting. And if we had lost at Midway, it would have turned the war in such a direction that we would not have brought it to the completion we did. Despite what people believe today, there was a lot of pressure among Republicans and other right wing groups to bring it to an earlier end.
And Mark, despite your thoughts on the issue, we are not at war with either Iran or Syria and Saddam's Iraq, as detestable as the man was, would have been a better ally than what we are going to be leaving in our wake if we ever do have to take on either of those countries. Have you been reading Wolfowitz' master plan that Daddy Bush rejected? Is that why you think this is the first step in a greater war, as North Africa and Italy were in WWII.
And I think the surest way to destroy our world as you younger people know it is to set off nuclear blasts with the resulting effects that would quite likely leave our current forms of communication in desperate straits. Following nuclear blasts, most of our aircraft and ground armor would be blind.posted by: chuck rightmire on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
Invading Iran will not work. The Iranians are NOT the Iraqis, which the Iraqis will pointedly tell you. The Iranians should have lost the Iran-Iraq war based on any realistic assessment of capabilities and organizational stability (i.e. this coming on the tails of the revolution). Instead after a bit under two years of fighting the Iranians kicked out a much better supplied, armed, and organized Iraqi army. How? By martyring themselves in incredible numbers. Then almost as if to spite the noses on their faces they choose to keep fighting for some 6 years afterwards, never making any significant headway but fighting nonetheless in spite of the fact that they had achieved their main goal, getting the Iraqis out. This group will provide a better front and will die in large numbers if we invade, and then once we've occuppied, if we ever got that far, they'd re-write guerrella warfare to harrass us no end --- Americans would die in huge numbers.
The Israelis will very likely strike if something isn't done to quell fears of bomb making, so what's our best option? As suggested working in partnership with the Europeans to tighten sanctions, forcing Iran to the table to deal with reality in a way we all agree on, not as they see it. The U.S. is all sanctioned out when it comes to Iran, and we MUST work in conert with the other powers, which are not encumbered by sanctions and afford Iran a means of doing business, to put pressure on the Iranians. We haven't a choice here, we can't do it alone, and we can't risk trying to do more without putting ourselves into a position of taking unilateral action in a country where it will do little good.
Bush needs to go for the simple reason that he can't ever seem to focus on the right problem, in the right way, at the right time. He goes into Afghanistan, kicks butt, takes names, and then blithely makes his way off to Iraq for reasons many of us all still scratching our heads over, and Afghanistan if reverting to what it was. He goes into Iraq with NO plan on how to run a country he's taken over, lets chaos rule the land for weeks after the war is over, and has created a terrorist Disney land in the Middle East --- he needs to go so badly it's not funny.posted by: James on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
"And Mark, despite your thoughts on the issue, we are not at war with either Iran or Syria"
Perhaps not, but they are at war with us. Wisely they havent made it public yet.
We shall see. A democratic Iraq will have implications on the region that cant be understated. We've played the real-politic game for a long time and thats what got us in this mess. We need to start playing the lets build responsible nations game.
posted by: mark buehner on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
The Iranians are at war with us, and we're not with them? I wasn't aware of Iran imposing some kick-butt (if you ever had to do business with Iran and go through the Treasury Dept's Office of Foreign Asset Control, you'd appreciate this) sanctions on this country, but that's likely just because we beat them to it.
Yes, they declared war on us and we just don't know about it. That's sort of like I had sex with Mary Jane Karpaski in HS, but she just didn't know about it; and I was unforgettable, of course.posted by: James on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
There are a big problem of perception today:
B- People must get out of 24hr too focused news. ex: Iraq is a 17 millions person country ...In 70's an Italian Prime Minister was assassinated and Terrorists/Mafia were putting bombs all around. Same for ETA in Spain or IRA in NorthernIreland and there wasnt any war that countries, Thatcher almost got killed by what little more than 1000 hardcore left/nationalists supporters. When Italy surrendered there was massacres and general lawness, Japan only got elections in 50's, if i am not mistaken like Germany.The problem with the current media is that is no analysis just political soundbytes.
C- "Immaterial" War - In simetric wars when HMS Hood was sunk with 3 survivors out of around 1800 sailors, was traded of with KMSBismark in bottom comparable values that any child with 4 years can understand, were are wining, we are loosing- Now we are for now with an assimetric war: if 100 Islamits got killed in Najaf but that doesnt make any headlines, but maybe 100 Islamists are more necessary for our enemy than KMSBismark was for Hitler. That uncovers another problem how to count the enemy force strenght an how to drawing most their resources in a PLACE and TIME which they didnt choosed.
The questions to make are:
Any war make both sides to draws it's resources, getting allies and building a bigger army, who's wining?
How to suck terrorists resources at enough pace without waging a war or calling them for combat?
Can we have real intelligence about the enemy without having the brain and the boots in that culture and without having a big fight to knowing them?
How to make Middle East comon man understand that
If there wasnt a constant war Islamists would be making what?: 1-Nothing 2-Plotting "better" 911s 3-Plotting insurgency inside Europe/Others Islamist radical community 3-Plotting Arab Gov. Coups(ex: Saudis) 4- Advance of Islamist cause via Social charities with the boost of political support gained by defeating West 5-All or some of the above 6-dispite the war they are still plotting all or some of the above at less /same or speedier pace?
Mark: I don't know if we're still in this post, but I have to say that I keep wondering about the certainty you and others show about democratizing Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. It seems to me that we have a lot more work to do here than we did in either or Germany. The one country that had a secular government is now gone, by our efforts. To maintain that secularity was a constant fight against the shia majority who have the same ayatollah-type organization as Iran and the sunni fundamentalists led by Saudi Arabia who want the wahabi form of asceticism to rule. In Germany, we at least had for a few years before Hitler when the Germans voted. In fact, they voted him into office. In Japan, we had the emperor, who had been manipulated, at least in the latter years of the war, by individuals like Tojo and who seemed willing to lead his people in peace.
Our western secular democracy owes its basic freedoms, to a great extent, to Jesus' saying: "Render under Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Even then it was a hard sell in the two millennia since. As I understand it, there is no such phrase in the Koran. So, as long as Islam is the dominant religion, I'm wondering what kind of a democracy will be instituted in the Middle East. Even if the Iranians turn against the Ayatollahs, they probably will not abandon the faith in which government and religion seem bound together.posted by: chuck rightmire on 08.12.04 at 12:46 AM [permalink]
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