No One Is That Crazy. Right? Ummm…right?

by Belle Waring on April 17, 2006

One thing that strikes me as funny about this whole “let’s invade Iran” thing…wait, did I actually just type that? I’m looking at the desk and I don’t see any glass tube with burnt-up brillo pad in it, so I probably didn’t just smoke a glittering rock of yeyo. Probably. OK, nothing about this is funny except in a nervous, “ha ha I’m sure he’s just joking way” that one might employ if locked in a room with a drunk person holding a chainsaw and making jokes about how Texans love real meat. The warmongery is starting up, from Mark Steyn columns to “hawkish” “liberals” pontificating on how no options should be off the table (not even A NUCLEAR FIRST STRIKE ARE THEY INSANE???!), to stop-making-me-commit-genocide wankery to credulous NYT articles to James Lileks relating everything back to this one chick who wouldn’t sleep with him was wrong about Iran in the ‘70s. (You should really read the Vodkapundit post and accompanying thread. He says you’ll need a drink, and the man is not kidding at all. The story he links to [by Dan Simmons] takes grave misreadings of Thucydides to a whole new level, a category in which the competition is stiff. Simmons is sure to win this year’s coveted “Golden Hanson”. The trophy features a stern VDH uprooting an olive tree with one hand and hitting himself repeatedly on the head with an axe handle with the other.) [Edited for clarity—thanks tom scudder!]

Any minute now I’ll have to read from K-Lo about how hypocritical western feminists don’t care about women being oppressed in Iran. I can’t be the only one to find the machinery a bit creaky. Are the warbloggers’ hearts in it? The more important question is whether the US will really do something so extraordinarily, supremely crazy, but I’m firmly committed to lowering the tone at CT. If that means ignoring the important issues of the day to make mocking, ad hominem comments, then let the chips fall where they may.

No, the thing that strikes me as funny is that everyone who supports was with Iran is all about the “mad mullahs” and how they can’t be deterred by normal deterrance because they’re crazed jihadis content to incinerate their own country, plus OMG THE HIDDEN IMAM The people making this argument now insist that of course MAD worked back when we faced rational opponents like the USSR or, you know, Mao’s China or whatever. But now, in a new era of crazy people having nukes, all bets are off. It’s like Iran is one big suicide bomber! The limits of the internet and my own laziness prevent me from researching this at all, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that all these people (over a certain age) did not regard the commies as secular rationalists who weighed the costs or war carefully back in the day. Not at all. Much more of the “they’ve got a plan to retreat to their bunkers and sacrifice their own hapless citizens upon the altar of destroying America” Just a theory. (Obligatory on-the-otherhanding: I’m sure some of the liberals now advocating deterrance railed against MAD at the time as an armageddon-hastening nightmare.)

{ 3 trackbacks }

Grouchy’s Liberaltopia » Lunacy
04.17.06 at 10:22 am
Under the weather at Pandagon
04.18.06 at 7:05 am
The Invisible Library » Blog Archive » Atlanta Bound
04.18.06 at 7:40 am

{ 93 comments }

1

Barry 04.17.06 at 6:53 am

I’m reminded of a german word which I learned last year – ‘Amoklaufer’; ‘one who runs amok’. The usage was in a german newspaper in Summer, 1939; the country being described that way was Poland.

2

Brendan 04.17.06 at 6:58 am

The Vodkapundit link is worth checking out, because it represents a meme that is extremely common in the ‘love reading about fighting but too cowardly to do it myself’ section of the extreme right wing blogosphere.

This is the meme that, and I quote: ‘Athens failed in Syracuse – and doomed their democracy – not because they fought in the wrong place and at the wrong time, but because they weren’t ruthless enough.’

Now this is ‘common sense’ until you think about concrete historical examples (especially from World War2, which should appeal to the Keyboard Kommandos as it is the only war they seem to know anything about).

In reality, it’s the opposite of the truth. The classic example is the German invasion of Russia in ’41. The Russian people rushed out to greet the Germans (yes, this too was a ‘liberation’) and had the Germans had an ounce of common sense, they would have tried to get the Russian people to see them as liberators from Stalinism.

Instead, the Germans treated the Russians as Slavic untermenschen, randomly shooting and raping them. As so many times in the past (perhaps even the recent past) the liberators turned out to represent a new kind of oppression. The Russians then turned back to Stalin, helping him with his scorched earth policy which probably guaranteed Hitler’s defeat.

Likewise in what can only be described as Russia’s invasion of Germany in ’45. Here, again, the Russians were greeted as liberators (do we see a pattern emerging here?), and would probably have continued to be seen in that way, had they not gone on a rampage of rape and pillage (espcially rape). It was the fact that the Russians were, by ’47, seen mainly as psychotic rapists that guaranteed the partition of Germany. Had they behaved in a more civilised fashion, the Russians could probably have swallowed up all of Germany.

In other words, behaving like trigger happy barbarians is NOT normally considered a good thing, when invading another country. It’s morally bad, of course, but as is so frequently the case, it’s also bad from a ‘realist’ perspective.*

Needless to say, the history of Athens vs Syracuse is not quite as Vodkapundit’s time traveller chooses to remember it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peloponnesian_War

*the possible counter-example is Genghis Khan, but he only exterminated cities if they resisted him. If cities or Empires surrendered immediately they were treated well. People soon got the message.

3

The Modesto Kid 04.17.06 at 7:10 am

I’m sure some of the liberals now advocating deterrance railed against MAD at the time as an armageddon-hastening nightmare.

[raises hand]

I’m a little weirded out to find myself advocating a nuclear standoff…

4

Andrew Brown 04.17.06 at 7:33 am

The conclusion of Steyn’s rant is a remarkable example of linguistic contortion:

bq. The cost of de-nuking Iran will be high now but significantly higher with every year it’s postponed. The lesson of the Danish cartoons is the clearest reminder that what is at stake here is the credibility of our civilization. Whether or not we end the nuclearization of the Islamic Republic will be an act that defines our time.

for “de-nuking”, read “nuking”.

5

Tom Scudder 04.17.06 at 7:40 am

Note that that story is NOT Vodkapundit’s work, but the work of Dan Simmons (author of HYPERION, among other things). Which is the saddest thing about it.

6

lemuel pitkin 04.17.06 at 8:09 am

OK, nothing about this is funny except in a nervous, “ha ha I’m sure he’s just joking way” that one might employ if locked in a room with a drunk person holding a chainsaw and making jokes about how Texans love real meat.

I think I speak for many of us whe I say that this captures exactly my feelings about our leaders’ rumblings about war with Iran.

Weird as it is to say, I would feel much safer if Iran actually had nukes.

7

P-Brane 04.17.06 at 8:16 am

lemuel pitkin,
Except for the provocation to inevitably be felt by them meat lovin’ “Texans”….

8

lemuel pitkin 04.17.06 at 8:30 am

Well, you probably wouldn’t feel much happier in the locked room if the drunk person were a Yankee. On the other hand, it’s near impossible to find good barbecue here in NYC, so, much as it pains me to admit it, Texans may love real meat a little more than we do.

9

rm 04.17.06 at 8:51 am

Our ninth-grade social studies teacher was a veteran of the Korean war. Our class had units for each major area of the world, one of which was the Soviet Union. That unit lasted most of the year

One day, after using a yardstick to show us how one disembowels an enemy with a bayonet, he gave us a spittle-flecked speech about the nature of Communists. Communists, he insisted, were not motivated by any human feelings . . . they were all irrationally and totally dedicated to advancing their mad cause, and ONLY FORCE could succeed in stopping them, because they were robotically determined to conquer the world and would rather see the world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust than to give up one inch of ground . . . .

And we are now ruled by people who are nostalgic for the Cold War.

10

Belle Waring 04.17.06 at 9:30 am

yeah, everybody always seems to have enemies who only understand one thing: brute force. you know, those guys.

11

Barry 04.17.06 at 9:32 am

Or people who figure that the USSR collapsing was not the best end; that it’d have been better if the West (i.e., USA) had thrown a few nukes in, to teach people who is the boss.

12

Donald Johnson 04.17.06 at 9:34 am

Since I don’t know anything about the sanity of the Iranian political class, I’m limiting my comments on the situation to one easy moral point–you can deter a nuclear attack without threatening nuclear genocide in response if the country being deterred is much smaller and weaker. That is, if Iran does some nuclear saber-rattling, we can tell them that their country will be conquered and the leadership deposed, captured, and tried for crimes against humanity. Extremely unpleasant for all concerned, but it beats incinerating tens of millions of innocent people.

Not saying that deterrence is or isn’t the answer with Iran–just saying that we ought to give up this Cold War legacy of thinking that it’s okay to slaughter or threaten to slaughter tens of millions of innocent people if the other guy did it first.

The Cold War was trickier–when both sides have tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, a purely conventional response to a nuclear attack isn’t much of a deterrent. Then you get the Star Wars advocates selling their snake oil, saying that we can avoid MAD if we can shoot down all the missiles and all we have to do is spend 10 to the x dollars and in those circumstances the advocates of MAD seem comparatively sane.

13

joel turnipseed 04.17.06 at 9:35 am

That vodkapundit thread is the scariest stretch of blog I’ve read in a long while (but maybe I just don’t get out much). I fear that VDH’s use & abuse of Greek history + Sid Meier’s Civilization + our ever-present Jingoistic Dipshitism have combined to form a virus that would be ridiculous if not so potentially lethal.

For all that, I think the recent Hersch article in The New Yorker was just an early shot across the bow of the wankers in power on the part of the Pentagon. Sane flag officers and their battalion commanders know that the worst thing we could do right now is strike Iran (though, sadly, the Iranians probably “know” the same thing).

14

Jane 04.17.06 at 9:38 am

When I was a mere slip of a girl attending a Reagan-era “gifted and talented” program, we “gifted” fifth graders were treated to a speech from an outside expert about how bad and dangerous the communists were, and how they (all of them!) would gladly kill any American they could get their hands on. I didn’t believe this and was foolish enough to say so, with the result that I was called a communist by my classmates well into high school. I still remember the day that a girl–a total stranger–walked over to me at the swimming pool and asked me if I was really a communist. At that time, being a sheltered suburbanite from a rather non-political home, I had almost no idea what communism was.

So yes, it was wingnuts and loonies all the way down to the municipal level back in the Cold War. Although when Fearless Leader discusses attacking Iran I keep wondering what, exactly, he plans to attack with. It’s not as though the US has a vast surplus of soldiers and money at the moment. I suppose this is an argument for nuking ‘em, though…we do have some bombs sitting around, and they’re just going to waste if we don’t drop them somewhere.

15

abb1 04.17.06 at 9:40 am

Did Victor Davis Hanson write something again? I can’t wait for the next War Nerd’s column to read about it.

16

lemuel pitkin 04.17.06 at 9:45 am

this Cold War legacy of thinking that it’s okay to slaughter or threaten to slaughter tens of millions of innocent people if the other guy did it first.

This isn’t quite right, though, is it? In fact, we’re making our threats becasue the other guy might do it later.

17

Phoenix Woman 04.17.06 at 10:10 am

What the nuke-waving racist bedwetters keep ignoring is that the crazy-talkin’ President Wossizname is a figurehead. Real power in Iran lies with Ayatollah Khameinei, who has gone on record as stating that the use of nuclear weapons is contrary to Islam.

18

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 10:26 am

“Obligatory on-the-otherhanding: I’m sure some of the liberals now advocating deterrance railed against MAD at the time as an armageddon-hastening nightmare.”

Quite.

Also I don’t really believe that many liberals support the MAD theory either–they just don’t want to deal with the ugly conceptual problems of enforcing non-proliferation any more than conservatives want to talk about what do about insurgency in places like Iraq. If Iran ‘just’ destroys Israel with 2-4 nukes (1-2 in Tel Aviv and 1-2 in Haifa) do you really support the nuclear destruction of Iran’s 68 million? I doubt it–I don’t and I’m about as hawkish as it gets. But it would be best to avoid a situation where we have to plausibly make that kind of decision.

That is, if Iran does some nuclear saber-rattling, we can tell them that their country will be conquered and the leadership deposed, captured, and tried for crimes against humanity. Extremely unpleasant for all concerned, but it beats incinerating tens of millions of innocent people.

Will the French army be doing that or is this yet another thing that the world relies on the US for? I don’t mind being relied on, just would love a little less bitching.

19

ChrisS 04.17.06 at 10:30 am

On the other hand, it’s near impossible to find good barbecue here in NYC, so, much as it pains me to admit it, Texans may love real meat a little more than we do.

Part of me thinks I shouldn’t post this, since the definition of “good barbecue” is highly subjective and regionally determined, but what the hell.

Dinosaur BBQ up in Harlem. Give it a whirl (if you haven’t already and decided that it was crap). Personally, since they use an honest-to-goodness hardwood-fired smoker and decent cuts of meat, it’s about the best you’re going to get. It’s also the culmination of 25 years of a traveling BBQ experiment, so it’s less regionally distinct, so if you just have to have KC or Carolina, it might fall a bit short.

20

Kelly 04.17.06 at 10:32 am

Oiy. It’s too early in the morning for this kind of headache, especially on a Monday. I keep coming back to the fundamentalist Christian doctrine of war in the Middle East being the advent of Armageddon, and wondering if the yahoos we have in charge really and honestly believe that’s what they’re doing.

Iran’s made it perfectly clear – even think of lobbing a nuke their way, and they will take out Israel. Period. Sure, they might be goners, but they’ll have time between the launch of a nuke and it hitting to get one off of their own.

Luke… 20:21, I think, says that Israel will be destroyed by the armies that surround her, and that this will herald the anti-Christ and Christ’s return. And the fundamentalists believing Israel must be destroyed also tend to believe that another passage of the Bible (I think in Matthew, but don’t quote me on it, I’ve just finished packing all my books on this particular subject, so am going from memory) says that Israel will only be able to have one generation after the establishment of the State before they are destroyed. One Biblical generation is 40 years. Israel was set up in 1967. 40 years from that is 2007. Fun.

Anyhow. Too much coffee and conspiracy theory for/from me this morning! ;)

21

ChrisS 04.17.06 at 10:37 am

PS: Please, excuse the threadjack.

As for Iran, part of me thinks that the idea of invading and opening with tactical nukes, is just so surreal as to be implausible. Then again.

Will the French army be doing that or is this yet another thing that the world relies on the US for? I don’t mind being relied on, just would love a little less bitching.

What’s with the french? I’m just surprised you didn’t work Teddy Kennedy and Jane Fonda in there, as well. Israel, IIRC, has a few nukes of their own. Nor had I known you had enlisted Sebastian, good job.

22

Derrick 04.17.06 at 10:43 am

Another note on Syracuse, from “The 48 Laws of Power”, by Robert Greene, page 305:

“If choosing to ignore enhances your power, it follows that the opposite approach–commitment and engagement–often weakens you. By paying undue attention to a puny enemy, you look puny, and the longer it takes you to crush such an enemy, the larger the enemy seems. When Athens set out to conquer the island of Sicily, in 45 B.C., a giant power was attacking a tiny one. yet, by entangling Athens in a long drawn out conflict, Syracuse…was able to grow in stature and confidence. Finally defeating Athens, it made itself famous for centuries to come.

Feel free to substitute any superpowers above with current ones, and also feel free to substitute any smaller country with demagogues-looking-for-a-fight-with-a-giant-to-enhance-their-own-stature with any modern-day equivalents.

By engaging Iran in the manner in which we have, we have lost the initiative and shored-up a regime once threatened by reformers. Iran’s leadership knew this would happen, and they played us, and if we invade, we bring their plans, not ours, to fruition.

23

marcel 04.17.06 at 10:48 am

Kelly (19): Israel was established in 1948 – at least that’s when the Israelis date it. But, then, you are probably confused by the bizarre way we Jews have of dating things, so that our holidays move around from year to year, and the current year is 5766, rather than 2006. This allows us to tell you goyim things like, “My year is bigger than your year, nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!” You seem to be confusing the establishment of the state with the 6 day war.

24

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 10:54 am

My point, and I’ll at least pretend to have one, is that it is really stupid to set up a conquer-them and occupy-them situation for later (or a nuclear counter-genocide option) rather than working to stop them from getting nuclear weapons now. (And that same objection applies equally to hawks and doves on the issue).

Sure we could have a much bigger repeat of Iraq by occupying Iran. But we should avoid it if possible. (Once again this applies to stupid hawks who act as if it would all be no big deal and silly doves who seem to be blindly hoping [or asserting] that the repeated threats to nuke Israel by various important persons in Iran over many years are just playing to a domestic audience.) By the way, why precisely should we be thrilled that playing to a domestic audience in Iran involves hyping the potential for genocide? Are you happy when Bush hypes things for his domestic audience? Was threatening to invade Iraq for the domestic audience? Did he in fact have the US invade Iraq? Hmmm…..

In any case, as should have been obvious by 2003, chit-chat diplomacy isn’t going to work. The sanctions which should have been started then can start now. Of course a year from now I fully expect to see huge complaints about the sanctions causing problems for poor people in Iran.

25

jet 04.17.06 at 10:57 am

Israel will be annihilated in one storm, says Iran leader. Then of course is this. Iran looks like it will have nuclear weapons soon, and Iran’s leaders aren’t coy on saying what they would do with those weapons. At least the USSR and USA leaders never expressed the open desire to destroy their enemy simply for the sake of destroying them. But what do the people of CrookedTimber care as it will only be Israel that is destroyed.

But no, go back to mocking those who take Iran seriously.

26

jet 04.17.06 at 11:03 am

Wrong link, that second link should be
this one.

27

abb1 04.17.06 at 11:17 am

At least the USSR and USA leaders never expressed the open desire to destroy their enemy simply for the sake of destroying them.

I seem to remember one of the leaders banging his shoe on the podium threatening to “bury you”. And another one saying “I’ve signed legislation that has outlawed the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes.” And, of course, one leader actually nuked a couple of cities in Japan killing about 200,000 civilians in an instant.

Other than that (and probably a few hundered other examples), comparing Israel with a “rotten, dried tree” that would be annihilated by “one storm” is, of course, rhetoric of the highest level.

28

Dr. Weevil 04.17.06 at 11:27 am

Just as there are people who simultaneously believe that the moon landings were faked and that professional wrestling is real, ‘kelly’ (comment 19) seems to believe that George W. Bush is trying to bring about the Second Coming by destroying Israel, and most of the others here believe that Ahmadinejad could not possibly have any similar hopes or plans. I hope no one here believes both of these things simultaneously.

By the way, Luke 20:21 has nothing to do with Armageddon: it’s part of the ‘render unto Caesar’ episode. Perhaps ‘kelly’ meant 21:20.

29

aimai 04.17.06 at 11:28 am

For those of you reading the dan simmons piece for the first time I recommend heading over to sadly No! where it was first discussed and taken apart rather thoroughly.

aimai

30

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 11:30 am

Rafsanjani wasn’t so cryptic:

If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.

Interestingly when I read about him nowadays he is cast as moderate compared to the current president of Iran. How encouraging.

31

joel turnipseed 04.17.06 at 11:33 am

Jet,

I’ve yet to see one person “mocking those who take Iran seriously” (on CT, at least). No, we’re mocking those who think nuking it is a good idea, as, apparently, there are some such people in the Bush Administration/Pentagon. Lucky for us, there are obviously people in the Pentagon who think this is bat-shit crazy, too.

The on-the-ground leaders in Iraq are worried enough about how they’re going to solve the problems in that country, without getting Iran involved (and–they’re not really that involved right now: if the insurgents are doing some damange now using C-4 and old artillery shells, wait until they get their hands on shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles). The few people I’ve talked to in the Marine Corps think striking Iran and bringing them into the war given our current disposition in Iraq would be stupid in the extreme.

The plain fact of the matter is that we cannot, without an all-out national mobilization and several significant allies, wage a War for Civilization by invading Iran, Syria, et.al.–as a lot of the dipshit armchair strategists on the right would have us do. And even if we could, why the hell would we want to? What would be the point of this? What would count as “winning?”

32

abb1 04.17.06 at 11:36 am

Right, and we can’t let imperialists’ strategy to reach a standstill. It’s now a new world where What We Say Goes.

33

Brendan 04.17.06 at 12:03 pm

‘At least the USSR and USA leaders never expressed the open desire to destroy their enemy simply for the sake of destroying them. But what do the people of CrookedTimber care as it will only be Israel that is destroyed.’

And remember if memory serves that China was also allegedly part of the cold war, and Mao’s own views on nuclear warfare are well known.

The fact is that

a: this fantastic idea that we all seem to have that we should look back at the ‘golden age’ when the world was governed by sane rational men like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others is just beyond belief and

b: I hate to break it to you guys but Iran does not in actual fact have any nuclear weapons. Nor is there any particular reason to think it will acquire any at any point in the future. To believe otherwise is to believe Iranian propaganda (something the allegedly cynical pro-war posse seem quite happy to do) who have a vested interest in ‘bigging up’ their meager achievments.

(It’s not EVEN clear that Iran actually WANTS nuclear weapons. We seem to be losing sight of the fact that Iran’s defence at the moment (and there is no particular reason to doubt them) is that they want nuclear technology for peaceful reasons at the moment).

34

Barry 04.17.06 at 12:04 pm

Sebastian: “Will the French army be doing that or is this yet another thing that the world relies on the US for? I don’t mind being relied on, just would love a little less bitching.”

First, Sebastian, *you* aren’t being relied upon, unless you’ve put in some Iraq war service. Second, with what army would the US invade Iran with? Just in case you haven’t heard, US forces are now launching operation ‘Second Liberation of Baghdad’. Which will be hyped for the ’06 US elections; I wonder if operation ‘Third Liberation of Baghdad: The Trilogy Ends Here’ will be launched in time for the ’08 US election?

35

Uncle Kvetch 04.17.06 at 12:12 pm

The sanctions which should have been started then can start now. Of course a year from now I fully expect to see huge complaints about the sanctions causing problems for poor people in Iran.

And I fully expect you’ll be here at CT, reminding all of us that those poor Iranians are only getting what they deserve.

36

Tom Scudder 04.17.06 at 12:16 pm

Sebastian: It’s pretty clear from context that Rafsanjani was basically saying that a nuclear Iran would be able to deter Israel.

(Or it would be, but for the indisputable fact that the Mullahs are MAD! MAD ItellyouMAD!)

37

Matt Austern 04.17.06 at 12:18 pm

I am a liberal, I was in high school at the height of the “nuclear freeze” movement, and I accepted idea of mutually assured destruction at the time and still do. For that matter, I rejected and reject those who framed it as “MAD theory”. It wasn’t theory but fact: each side really did have the assured ability to destroy the other. I didn’t particularly like that fact (liberals tend to dislike the idea of incinerating hundreds of millions of people), but facts are facts whether you like them or not.

I also recognized the fact that a state will change its behavior when it’s faced with an adversary that can destroy it, and I thought that unilateral disarmament would be a bad thing.

I believe that in that respect I was and am in the mainstream of American liberal thought. In the 80s and 90s there were a nontrivial number of liberals in Congress, and I don’t remember a single one of them advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament. Many liberals believed that the US could adequately deter the Soviet Union without escalating the arms race, but that’s hardly a rejection of MAD.

38

Kalkin 04.17.06 at 12:20 pm

Jet – the *point* of the rotten tree metaphor is that Israel is so weak that it will collapse from within with little prompting. That’s why he talks about rot. How exactly is this consistent with a nuclear threat?

And as for restarting enrichment – note that Iran abrogated an agreement it had taken which placed additional restrictions on its actions on top of what was required by the NPT. The NPT guarantees Iran a right to civilian nuclear power in exchange for its agreeing not to proliferate weapons; that’s the basic bargain. It’s ludicrous that anyone can’t see the hypocrisy of the US – whose part of the treaty was supposed to be moving towards total nuclear disarmament – threatening to use tactical nukes on Iran’s to-all-hard-evidence civilian program and justifying itself by any kind of international law.

sebastian – Rafsanjani is of course arguing not that Iran should first-strike Israel, but that it needs a detterant capability to counter the “imperialists’ strategy” of having Israel dominate the region by virtue of its nuclear arsenal. Full quote:

US-British support for Israel

It is also supported politically in the United Nations and many other places. They also contain Islamic and Arab governments. Israel needs all of those things and the Americans and Britain are meeting its needs. Therefore, we should consider it to be an outgrowth of colonialism and a multi-purpose colonial base. That is where we should start discussing the next point. So the survival of Israel depends on the interests of imperialists and colonialists. So they go together.

The colonialists will keep this base as long as they need it. Now, whether they can do so or not is a separate issue and this is my next point. Any time they find a replacement for that particular instrument, they will take it up and this will come to an end. This will open a new chapter. Because colonialism and imperialism will not easily leave the people of the world alone. Therefore, you can see that they have arranged it in a way that the balance of power favours Israel. Well, from a numerical point of view, it cannot have as many troops as Muslims and Arabs do. So they have improved the quality of what they have. Classical weaponry has its own limitations. They have limited use. They have a limited range as well. They have supplied vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional weapons to Israel. They have permitted it to have them and they have shut their eyes to what is going on. They have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles and suchlike.

If one day … Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Of course, you can see that the Americans have kept their eyes peeled and they are carefully looking for even the slightest hint that technological advances are being made by an independent Islamic country. If an independent Islamic country is thinking about acquiring other kinds of weaponry, then they will do their utmost to prevent it from acquiring them. Well, that is something that almost the entire world is discussing right now.“

39

Kalkin 04.17.06 at 12:24 pm

Tom posted while I was copying that. Note that not only is Rafsanjani talking about deterrance, not preemption, he’s also not unambiguously in favor of acquiring that deterrance, because of the American threat.

There’s only one country in this faceoff where any prominent people have even come close to suggesting the launch of an aggressive nuclear war. It’s not Iran.

40

Elliott Oti 04.17.06 at 12:25 pm

Sebastian wrote:
My point, and I’ll at least pretend to have one, is that it is really stupid to set up a conquer-them and occupy-them situation for later (or a nuclear counter-genocide option) rather than working to stop them from getting nuclear weapons now.

I can’t say I quite understand the point. A bombing campaign will set back the Iranian program some years but will not stop them from getting nuclear weapons eventually. I believe the bellicose gentlemen linked in Belle’s article acknowledge this.

What you are in essence advocating is a conquer-them-and-occupy-them scenario, only without an actual casus belli. Surely you must realize that it’s a rather difficult argument to sell. You do make a reasonable attempt by bringing up Ahmadinejad’s statements re the West and Israel. On the other hand, considering the historical facts on the ground (and certainly compared to, say, the US’s reaction after September 11), the Iranians do come over as veritable models of restraint. Being relatively powerless has a lot to do with that restraint, no doubt, but they have taken an awful lot of crap from both their neighbours and the West the past 50 years, and gotten precious little love in return.

41

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 12:30 pm

“Second, with what army would the US invade Iran with?”

I’m sorry are you arguing with Donald Johnson who proposes the detterence by invasion idea? I argue that employing detterence only after Iran has nuclear weapons puts us in much uglier situations than trying to stop them from having nuclear weapons. Are you with the counter-genocide is a brilliant option camp? It helps to be clear.

“And I fully expect you’ll be here at CT, reminding all of us that those poor Iranians are only getting what they deserve.”

They don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve to live under the mullahs either. That doesn’t make it unnecessary. I’m pointing out that no options lead to zero casualties. We aren’t living in the EU3 chit-chat diplomacy will talk the government of Iran out of it world. There are some on this blog who argue against certain types of action by pretending that they support other types of action–until that type of action is actually under serious consideration. I just want to be clear because it is a serious waste of time to have an argument about whether bombing or sanctions will work better with someone who will be opposing the sanctions as soon as they come up. If you believe that chit-chat diplomacy will work I would like to have that discussion, not a discussion about sanctions you wouldn’t support anyway. If you believe that we can’t stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons no matter what we do, I would much rather discuss what you think we should do if they use them rather than discuss which method (bombing, sanctions, or other) we should use to try to stop them since you believe stopping them is impossible.

42

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 12:32 pm

“It’s pretty clear from context that Rafsanjani was basically saying that a nuclear Iran would be able to deter Israel.”

Deter Israel from what? Invading Iran?

Is Iran going to nuke Israel when it stops suicide bombers from entering?

What exactly would a nuclear Iran deter Israel from doing?

43

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 12:37 pm

“On the other hand, considering the historical facts on the ground (and certainly compared to, say, the US’s reaction after September 11), the Iranians do come over as veritable models of restraint.”

Really? What has Israel done to Iran to suggest a need for nuclear warfare? Hell what has Israel done to anyone to suggest a need for nuclear warfare? No one is suggesting that nuking the Sudan would be acceptable ‘detterance’ right?

44

Hogan 04.17.06 at 12:41 pm

yeah, everybody always seems to have enemies who only understand one thing: brute force.

Which, by a fortunate coincidence, is the only language we know how to speak. Diplomacy? Might as well be Arabic, or Farsi, or Pashtu, or whatever the wogs du jour are babbling in.

45

Elliott Oti 04.17.06 at 12:56 pm

Really? What has Israel done to Iran to suggest a need for nuclear warfare?

No idea. What did Iran do to the US to spark the debate we are having right now?

I find Iran’s preoccupation with Israel unreasonable and have no intention of defending it, but unreasonable as that may be you’re doing an even worse job of defending US bellicosity in the Middle East.

46

abb1 04.17.06 at 1:19 pm

Well, really, what did the Soviets do in the Cuban missile crisis to provoke such a vicious reaction from the US government? Was Mr. Kennedy upset that it might prevent anti-Castro terrorists from entering Cuba or something?

47

Lee A. Arnold 04.17.06 at 1:28 pm

The soundest policy would be to let the U.N. blabber on with Mr Ahmadinejad, see if it can take a stand on his nuclear proliferation, then get all the major allies on board and in full participation in a military activity; then, and only then!, make an ultimatum — which must not include the use of nuclear weapons by the West.

But if Iran wants to be a nuclear power, then it will be one someday no matter what happens. So I think the West should avoid bombing Iran pre-emptively in case diplomacy fails. Bombing won’t change anything for the better, and it will kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocents, create an humanitarian disaster that will rival several of the worse ones, and hasten a unified jihad where none, thank goodness, has yet arisen.

So if diplomacy fails — if Iran proceeds on its nuclear path — the West should not attack, but move immediately to a comprehensive Cold-War-type containment and deterrence of Iran, and plan for a long-term MANAGEMENT of the situation. The region will then have a Shiite Iran-and-Iraq in contention with their Sunni neighbors, and plenty of opportunities for diplomacy and learning by everyone. Indeed, if the Iranians gain a little pride by becoming a nuclear power, they may start to turn-around their psychology on more important matters, as all other nuclear publics in the world have done, and begin to think about how to get to a world in which everybody can survive, and begin that reformation of political Islam which we all hope for.

The idea that Iran is a bunch of crazies is itself crazy. Ahmadinejad is yanking our chains much as Mr Chavez is, down in Venezuela banging on the table in front of a television camera, and we shouldn’t fall for it. We should strongly resist those in the United States who suggest that Iran is some type of new “total suicide” country that will risk it all, by firing a rocket at Israel. The evidence of recent history is the reverse — they are very practical.

And it is unlikely they are expansionist. Going much beyond southern Iraq, if they make it that far, will put them into conflict with Sunni Arab states, causing an Islamic-internecine conflict that may redound to Western advantage. Some threatened Sunni states may acquiesce to basing Western troops and/or granting airspace.

Present U.S. policy is, however, asking the Iranians to act like cowards, from their point of view. We cannot suppose that much good will issue from this. Nor will it relieve our management of the situation. Their most rational response would then be to lie, and try to get the nukes anyway.

If Iran gets the bomb, we need strong deterrence and containment after that, promising to ensure their annihilation if they lob a rocket at anyone, while making overtures of peace. And then if the Mullahs do not modify their exertions, I think all those Iranians dissatisfied with their government, seeing that they have become pariahs in the eyes of outsiders who would prefer peace, will have a much stronger impetus to change that government. It may be the crisis which begins to change Islam. But there can be no concurrent exterior agitation, if you are to show your leaders the door. The Bush Administration in fact made it harder for Mr Khatami as well as the NGO reform groups by its rhetorical posturings. Certainly the Iranians will have a much greater opportunity to change their government, than if the West follows through on its threat to bomb them beforehand, kills lots of people, and makes the place unliveable.

48

Firebug 04.17.06 at 2:06 pm

It all comes back to Israel, doesn’t it?

Can someone please explain to me why, when Iran rattles its sabre at Israel, this is our problem? Isn’t that for Iran and Israel to deal with? Don’t we have enough problems of our own without going to far-flung reaches of the globe looking for more? Did Israel become the 51st state while I wasn’t looking?

49

Barry 04.17.06 at 2:12 pm

Sebastian, if you’d care to clean up your post addressed to me, I’ll reply. You can start by eliminating your rhetorical questions, and TINA-style assertions.

That should trim it down to a dozen or so words.

50

kharris 04.17.06 at 2:23 pm

“The people making this argument now insist that of course MAD worked back when we faced rational opponents like the USSR or, you know, Mao’s China or whatever. But now, in a new era of crazy people having nukes, all bets are off.”

I hope the mullahs love their children, too.

51

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 2:24 pm

Perhaps I’ve forgotten it, but which post is addressed to you?

52

joel turnipseed 04.17.06 at 2:24 pm

lee arnold — don’t come around here talking sense and elaborate, well-thought proposals: we want anecdote, bile, and pithy non-sequiturs.

meantime, firebug, you forgot about Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, etcetera–the 51st-67th (our loosely and not-so-loosely associated confederate states number 17 in all). That would make Israel the 68th state… but of course: I’m only kidding (right?).

53

Uncle Kvetch 04.17.06 at 2:26 pm

If you believe that we can’t stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons no matter what we do, I would much rather discuss what you think we should do if they use them rather than discuss which method (bombing, sanctions, or other) we should use to try to stop them since you believe stopping them is impossible.

What do I think “we” should do if they use nuclear bombs? The same thing “we” would do if any of the other countries that have nuclear bombs uses them, I suppose. What would we do if North Korea* launched a nuke? Or Pakistan? And why should our position vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran be any different?

*I don’t really expect your response to be “But Kim Jong-Il isn’t like the mullahs…he’s rational, we can deal with him!” But it wouldn’t totally shock me; the debate over “the Iranain threat” can only grow more surreal and otherworldly between now and the commencement of hostilities.

54

jet 04.17.06 at 2:28 pm

Abb1, your Khrushchev quote is completely out of context. He was saying he would figuratively bury us economically. Next time read the whole quote.

Brenden, if you think Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, why is the only reactor they are building an experimental one? You’re so far out there I won’t bother going into more detail. But suffice it to say, only you, India-media, and the Scientologists believe Iran’s program is peaceful. Everyone else knows what experimental reactors (especially coupled with lots of “let’s nuke’m” rhetoric) are for.

But short of invasion, there really isn’t a way to stop a country from developing nuclear weapons. Thanks to the Pakistani Khan network, all the technology is out there for semi-industrialized nations to take advantage. Sanctioning a country into not developing weapons would probably work, but does anyone see the UN moving to sanction Iran? Doesn’t the UN need Russia’s and China’s votes, which they won’t be getting?

I don’t see any possible way to stop Iran, which means they will get nuclear weapons (looks more like 1-2 years rather then 5-10 the retards on tv talk about because they assume A. no new centerfuges will be built and B. the new centeruges won’t be the P2 type). This means a high likelihood that they will be used. Which would then imply a nuclear retaliation. Which would then imply World War III.

So, so long and thanks for all the fish.

55

Dr. Morpheus 04.17.06 at 2:34 pm

A wingnut claiming that Kruschev was talking about economics when he said, “We will bury you.”

AHA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

Just to think, a mere twenty years ago and any liberal/leftist who claimed that would have been shouted down by a wingnut chorus of “Your insane! Of course he meant militarily!”

56

soru 04.17.06 at 2:42 pm

If everyone proposing an invasion of Iran sounds clinically insane, what does Occam’s Razor say:

1. a major proportion of the political class of the USA has gone clinically insane?

2. only the crazies think it is a good idea?

57

Barry 04.17.06 at 2:44 pm

“Perhaps I’ve forgotten it, but which post is addressed to you?”
Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw

Sebastian, it’s call ‘scrolling’.
Post #42. And, not trying to be mean here, but when you can’t keep track of things like this, it’s probably time for supper.

58

abb1 04.17.06 at 3:06 pm

your Khrushchev quote is completely out of context. He was saying he would figuratively bury us economically. Next time read the whole quote.

“We will bury you” is the whole quote. Various interpretations can be offered, and it’s true in regards to Ahmadinejad’s quote as well. But not so much, I’m afraid, in regards to Ariel Sharon’s infamous quote “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches”.

59

washerdreyer 04.17.06 at 3:07 pm

While disagreeing with anything Sebastian or jet said which suggests that the use of military force against Iran in response to their desire (and initial steps) to become a nuclear power would be acceptable a) I don’t know why anyone thinks it’s ok to use chickenhawk agruments against someone unless they falsely identify themselves with the U.S. military in their argument (which a very uncharitable reading of Sebastian’s use of “relied on” in 19 might find) and b) jet is right about what Khruschev said, he was suggesting that the USSR (and communism generally) would outlast the United States, and therefore see us in our grave, not that he would cause us to be in our grave.

60

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 3:50 pm

Barry, “Sebastian, it’s call ‘scrolling’.
Post #42. And, not trying to be mean here, but when you can’t keep track of things like this, it’s probably time for supper.”

I responded to you in four short sentences in 42. Your obnoxious request for clarification is just barely shorter than my response. From your description I was looking for something lengthy, my bad.

But sure, I’ll sum up:

Are you arguing with me, or are you mistakenly arguing with the proposition Donald Johnson made which I (mostly) disagreed with?

61

BigMacAttack 04.17.06 at 5:20 pm

All right! A Thucydides reference. I have been reading bits and chunks of a History of the Peloponnesian war lately. This is perfect. A chance to show off useless knowledge and appear intellectual.

It is amazing, he has it almost completely backwards.

If I remember right year 16 Melos gets sacked.

In year 17 Sicily is invaded by the suddenly soft Athenians. :). Like ice cream the Anthenians went soft fast.

Year 19 the Athenian army is destroyed. Why didn’t Nicias retreat earlier?

Well at least in part because -

‘Those who would vote upon their conduct, instead of judging the facts as eye-witnesses like
themselves and not from what they might hear from hostile critics, would simply be guided by the calumnies of the first clever speaker;
while many, indeed most, of the soldiers on the spot, who now so loudly proclaimed the danger of their position, when they reached Athens would proclaim just as loudly the opposite, and would say that their generals had been bribed to betray them and return. For himself, therefore, who knew the Athenian temper, sooner than perish under a dishonourable charge and by an unjust sentence at the hands of the Athenians, he would rather take his chance and die, if die he must, a soldier’s death at the hand of the enemy.’

In other words he is afraid that the mob will punish him for retreating from a failing, unwise, granidose, and unjust venture.

Dan seems to Thucydides lesson is never back down from a risky enterprise.

Dan, Thucydides was a real conservative (he really, really was),

‘The same winter the Athenians resolved to sail again to Sicily, with a greater armament than that under Laches and Eurymedon, and, if
possible, to conquer the island; most of them being ignorant of its size and of the number of its inhabitants, Hellenic and barbarian, and
of the fact that they were undertaking a war not much inferior to that against the Peloponnesians.’

Substitute Iran for Sicily and Iraq for the Peloponnesians. It is kinda comical. Contrast and compare Thucydides praise of the genuis of Brasidas’s leinency with Dan’s calls for greater brutality.

To sum it up – Dan sounds like Cleon. Pretty funny from someone citing Thucydides.

In his defense, I guess the history is good enough you can take almost any lesson you want from it. But he the lesson he takes from Thucydides history is almost the opposite of what Thucydides intended.

62

beany with propellor 04.17.06 at 5:49 pm

“Abb1, your Khrushchev quote is completely out of context. He was saying he would figuratively bury us economically. Next time read the whole quote.”

Hilarious!

63

Brendan 04.17.06 at 6:49 pm

‘Brenden, if you think Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, why is the only reactor they are building an experimental one? You’re so far out there I won’t bother going into more detail. But suffice it to say, only you, India-media, and the Scientologists believe Iran’s program is peaceful. Everyone else knows what experimental reactors (especially coupled with lots of “let’s nuke’m” rhetoric) are for.’

Oh I just love that phrase ‘Everyone’ as used by peoples of…shall we say…a certain political persuasion. ‘Everyone’ seems to run the whole gamut of public opinion, from A to B, as the joke has it. Or seems to be short for ‘Everyone in the Bush administration’ or ‘everyone at Fox news’.

Since we are on the subject of Iran’s rhetoric, here’s some quotes that might not have found their way onto Instapundit.

‘Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on 01 July 1968 and ratified the treaty on 02 February 1970. [3] On 18 December 2003 Iran signed an additional protocol which allows IAEA inspectors access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military owned workshops and research and development locations.[4] The country’s political leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , has publicly stated Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. On August 9, 2005 Iran’s religious leader and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#Nuclear_weapons

‘After three years of continued controversy, international pressure, and a great deal of attention from the Western media, as of March 2006 , the IAEA has not found any evidence to support the charges that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and neither the US nor any other country has provided conclusive evidence to support such claims.’

This page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran's_nuclear_program) is also worth looking at for a long time.

The fact is (and this is in the dictionary definition of the word ‘fact’ as opposed to the rather specialised use of that word generally used by Vodkapundit or Instapundit meaning ‘something I just thought up’)Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Iran is many years (some say five, some say longer) from developing such weapons. There is no guarantee that, even if Iran wished to procure or develop such weapons that it would be able to. And (and this is the killer, pardon the pun) there is no particular reason to think Iran does, in fact, wish to develop such weapons.

64

化工设备 04.17.06 at 7:33 pm

I don’t know why anyone thinks it’s ok to use chickenhawk agruments against someone unless they falsely identify themselves with the U.S.

65

Barry 04.17.06 at 8:06 pm

Sebastian, I merely asked you to clean up your rhetorical questions, and stop with the whackjob alternatives. Nothing serious. To be honest and rigorous with you, I should ask you to clean up your last war before arguing for the next one. Obviously your parents didn’t teach you to clean up your messes.

66

Jim S 04.17.06 at 8:29 pm

There will never be U.N. sanctions against Iran. Russia and China will veto any attempt to deal with Iran through the U.N. There will never be a viable negotiated settlement because Iran is not interested in one. If, in fact, their sole desire was for peaceful nuclear energy they would have been happy to let Russia enrich the uranium for them. Iran is most definitely a supporter of terrorism and suicide bombing. Remember that in their belief system to die in the name of Islam is not a bad thing and in fact is truly glorious and earns you a place in Paradise. I don’t think one person posting here that says that the people running Iran are perfectly rational politicians really appreciates that. It’s too far outside of their cultural experience. This is not to say that military action in the near future is a wise course to follow. But to say that we will never find ourselves in a position where it must be considered is just as foolish. MAD doesn’t necessarily work in a situation where one side has suicide bombers on their side.

67

Jim S 04.17.06 at 8:32 pm

Oh, and as far as fatwas against the use of nuclear weapons are concerned we should always remember that Islam is not a monolithic religion with one leader or even comes close to something like having large segments of itself with a central authority like the Catholic Church has the Pope. Conflicting fatwas are common. Follow this link.

68

Sebastian Holsclaw 04.17.06 at 9:16 pm

“Sebastian, I merely asked you to clean up your rhetorical questions, and stop with the whackjob alternatives.”

Which wackjob alternatives? MAD is being seriously discussed by people on the left here on this thread. I do point out that MAD in this case will amount to counter-genocide but just because people don’t want to call it that doesn’t change what it is.

69

jet 04.17.06 at 9:29 pm

beany with propellor,
What’s hilarious is back when Krushchev said “We will bury you”, it was the liberals saying he didn’t mean he would kill us, only outlast us. But now that it is convienient, it is the liberals saying he meant it to kill us (because Ahmadinejad has to have a historical parrallel).

Unfortunately, you’re an idiot.

70

Lee A. Arnold 04.17.06 at 9:33 pm

#65 — “I don’t think one person posting here that says that the people running Iran are perfectly rational politicians really appreciates that. It’s too far outside of their cultural experience.”

Perhaps a bit misleading? For a correction by someone who’s lived there over the last five years, read the brand new article by Christopher de Bellaigue, “Iran and the Bomb,” NYRB, April 27 at:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18935

71

Leinad 04.17.06 at 9:35 pm

Compounding Simmons misreading of Thucydides, the Melian incident was not meant to highlight how ‘successful’ Athenian ruthlessness was; it was a foreshadowing of how their arrogance and brutality would multiply their enemies lead them to ruin.

Melians: ” … Is it not certain that you will make enemies of all states who are at present neutral when they see what is happening here and naturally conclude that in course of time you will attack them too? Does not this mean that you are strengthening the enemies you have already and are forcing others to become your enemies even against their intentions and inclinations?”

72

Jeff 04.17.06 at 11:07 pm

I’m a big fan of Dan Simmons’ books. Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Hollow Man, and Carrion Comfort are particularly good. So I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think it was a misreading in the classic sense of ‘I read it and didn’t get it,’ but was more of a ‘what if it meant this instead?’

Many great stories start with a small tweak to our reality. And as a short vignette the piece works. You simply have to suspend disbelief when it comes to questions like ‘exactly how the countries of the world were taken over by Muslims?’ But you don’t worry about such things when reading fictional short stories.

I wouldn’t claim that in writing his novel Fall of Hyperion he was advocating the destruction of all computers. Neither would I interpret this fictional tale to be any more telling of his personal views on the future of the war on terror.

73

SAO 04.18.06 at 12:56 am

I recently attended a lecture at Berkeley given by VDH. He made two claims regarding Athens defeat at Syracuse which I found strange. First, he repeated his claim that the fact Syracuse was a democracy was the pivitol factor in their succesful defense, but failed to elaborate as to how that might have worked. Second, he later claimed that the Sicilian calvalry was the deciding factor, seemingly forgetting for an instant his previous claim.

I’m no expert here, but neither of these explanations seemed to jive with what I’ve read.

Next, VDH went into his schpeel about how the West can be more barbaric than the East, and if they strike again, we might retaliate in a brutal and devestating manner. When he said this, most of the young ROTC in the room became viscerally engaged (many had been dozing/spacing out through the previous sub-Sparkpark notes level rehash of the Peloponnesian war.) VDH also perked up for a moment (usually he’s boring and demure when speaking), his eyes seemed to gleam with pleasure.

VDH likes to say that he’s a Democrat but that “his party really died with Truman,” but to me nothing became more clear that night than the thought, singularly clear in my head, that VDH would not have supported Truman if he had been around for his term of office. No, VDH would have been an escalation-agitator, a red-baiter, one of the many leg-humping degenerates that hounded good men like Dean Acheson out of public life.

If we are ever attacked again, on a scale similiar to 9.11, it will be the moral imperative of the responsible citizens of this country to make sure we don’t do something stupid and murderous. We’re going to have to take down people like this Hack of Fresno to make sure that happens.

74

goatchowder 04.18.06 at 1:41 am

Jet misses the point. I don’t think anyone here was saying that “we will bury you” was an actual threat, any more than “we begin bombing in 5 minutes” was an actual threat, or “swept away by a single storm” is any threat. The point is– this kind of rhetoric is not new, nor restricted to any one country or ethnicity, nor is it dangerous if you choose to take it at face value.

The “We will bury you” is exactly the correct parallel for the “rotted tree which can be swept away by a single storm”:

1) It is sufficiently ambiguous a metaphor to be interpreted as a threat by bedwetting right-wingers,

2) It doesn’t appear to have been meant as a threat, but rather as a haughty and intentionally-insulting bit of “history is on our side” rhetoric,

3) In both cases the wingnuts have either chosen to misinterpret it or are so paranoid that they’re incapable of interpreting it correctly, and are running around screaming with terror, and urging confrontation,

4) In both cases, the left is choosing to interpret the statement as what it is– unhelpful blustering rhetoric– rather than an indication of any actual threat.

75

snuh 04.18.06 at 2:16 am

What exactly would a nuclear Iran deter Israel from doing?

is this asked seriously?

perhaps an example may help: would a nuclear iran have deterred israel from invading lebanon in 1982? maybe, maybe not, but it’s pretty obvious that if iran possesses nuclear weapons, the unthinkable becomes a matter for israel to consider in deciding, e.g., to invade a neighbour [a decision which, when made previously, has not been particularly difficult for israel, given its massive military superiority*].

*which is of course the other point of rafsanjani’s comments: that a nuclear iran would slightly tilt the mid-east balance of power by eliminating a pretty major israeli advantage, being the possession of nuclear weapons.**

**for that matter, surely a bigger mystery is what a nuclear israel is supposed to be deterring iran from doing. deterring iran is frequently cited [although not officially] as the rationale for israel’s nuclear capabilities, and israel has even gone so far as to deploy some of its nuclear arsenal in submarines, in order to better target iran. but if israel’s nukes are supposed to deter iran from supporting terrorism, they’ve plainly failed, and if they’re supposed to deter iran from pursuing its own nuclear ambitions, well, it’s hard to think of a policy tending more towards its own defeat.

76

snuh 04.18.06 at 2:20 am

that is not meant to be bold.

77

Brendan 04.18.06 at 2:21 am

‘Remember that in their belief system to die in the name of Islam is not a bad thing and in fact is truly glorious and earns you a place in Paradise.’

Last time I checked, this was also in ‘the belief system’ of Christianity. Or has everyone forgotten the martyrs?

78

ajay 04.18.06 at 4:36 am

“We will bury you” in the sense of “she has buried three husbands” – i.e. outlived them, not actually shovelled earth on top of them. ‘Mi vas pokhoronim’ is the exact quote. His full words were

About the capitalist states, it doesn’t depend on you whether we exist. If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations, and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will bury you.

He didn’t say it in the UN while banging his shoe on the table in 1960, but to reporters four years earlier at a Moscow reception.

I don’t think it’s illogical to be pro-MAD now and anti-MAD then. I think MAD is not ideal (it’s risky; see Able Archer, etc) but better than war, and disarmament is better than MAD.

Under the NPT, Iran is not only a) entitled to a civil nuclear programme but b) entitled to Big Five help in developing one, and the Big Five themselves are c) committed to reducing and eliminating their own arsenals. Everyone forgets that…

79

beany with propellor 04.18.06 at 5:16 am

Actually Jet, I’m probably more akin to a fool…

FOOL, n.
A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscience, omnipotent. He it was who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created patriotism and taught the nations war — founded theology, philosophy, law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican government. He is from everlasting to everlasting — such as creation’s dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the procession of being. His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man’s evening meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human civilization.

But I am really a cynic at heart

CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

While you… are definitely an idiot

IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.

But not just any idiot, a useful idiot

In political jargon, the term “useful idiot” was used during the Cold War by certain anti-communists to describe communists and apparent communist sympathizers in western countries (particularly in the United States). The implication of the insult was that the person in question was naïve, foolish, or in willful denial, and that he or she was being cynically used by the Soviet Union or another Communist state, thus unwittingly being a traitor to his or her home country. The term is purported to have been coined by Vladimir Lenin to describe those western reporters and travellers who would endorse the Soviet Union and its policies in the West. However, no reference to a communist sympathizer or political leftist as a “useful idiot” was made in the United States until 1948, and not until decades later would the attempts to attribute the phrase to Lenin be made (after 1948, when the phrase was used in a New York Times article in relation to Italian politics, it was not mentioned again in print until 1961 [1]). Lenin never wrote it in any published document, no one has claimed to have heard him say it first hand, and it contradicts the opinions expressed in Lenin’s published documents in reference to the Comintern.

Which is to say, an unwitting tool… or a patriot.

PATRIOT, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.

PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

You’re a useful idiot

80

Dan K 04.18.06 at 8:02 am

OK, here’s my semi-sincere suggestion for dealing with Iran:

1. Economic sanctions
2. Inspections (headed by a Scandinavian possibly named Blix)

Rinse and repeat. It worked the last time. Due to American overambition, we know that for a fact. By the way, why is it all Iran and no North Korea? You know, the Axis partner that actually has the Bomb.

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Slocum 04.18.06 at 9:07 am

Well, I’m very late to this discussion, but to those who are sanguine about Iranian nukes, let me ask about the limits to this approach. Certainly there are other countries who might enjoy the power and prestige of being a member of the nuclear club–what happens when the next case arises and the one after that? Don’t worry and rely on MAD each time?

Libya made one decision regarding nukes, Iran is making a different one. Whether or not we prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, how do we make it clear that Libya’s decision was smart and Iran’s foolish? Or are events going to make Libya look weak and stupid for having capitulated?

Once Iran has both nukes and nuclear expertise, it will have a lot of valuable items that it might sell to other aspiring nuclear nations. How would we prevent this? Or wouldn’t we bother?

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Donald Johnson 04.18.06 at 10:01 am

Sebastian, I specifically said in post 12 that I didn’t know whether deterrence was a sufficient policy with Iran, so it’s a little odd to see you saying I was arguing for the “deterrence with invasion” idea. I was arguing for deterrence with invasion as opposed to deterrence by being willing to kill tens of millions of Iranians with nuclear weapons. I agree with your point about counter-genocide.

I stated that very clearly and it makes me wonder (for about the ten millionth time) why anyone should ever bother to state a position clearly, since it is going to be distorted anyway.

As for sanctions, you’re right–if we impose the kind of sanctions we imposed on Iraq then I for one will be protesting the killing of large numbers of Iranian children. But what I’ve seen under discussion are “smart sanctions”, which are the kind we didn’t impose on Iraq, but should have. The ones aimed specifically at the leadership class. There was a NYT article on this some weeks back and this point was stressed–the last thing we want is to alienate the supposedly pro-Western majority in Iran with sanctions that hurt everyone. I would be willing to support smart sanctions against leaders who talk casually about using nuclear weapons on Israel (assuming this has been reported accurately.)

For that matter, I’d be willing to support smart sanctions against leaders who toy with the idea of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against other countries, but we’d have to have proof before imposing them.

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Donald Johnson 04.18.06 at 10:15 am

I think my post 12 was clearer than post 85. In an attempt to be clear, here’s my position–

1. Deterrence should be part of our Iran policy, but not the “nuke them till they glow” type.

2. Sanctions come in two varieties–smart ones aimed at the leaders (or specific weapons-related industries) and the wholesale murderous variety that we imposed on Iraq. In real life there might be a continuum. We should consider imposing the smart sort of sanctions (or something at that end of the spectrum)on any leader who seems to seriously contemplate launching an unprovoked nuclear attack, whether that leader is Iranian or American. The latter won’t happen, of course, but we should still consider doing it against the Iranians.

As for Bush and other crazed American leaders past and future, I’m open to suggestions on what policy should be employed, taking into account that what would be fair will never happen.

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abb1 04.18.06 at 10:32 am

If you know how to institute sanctions against rhetorical excesses – nuclear, conventional, nationalist, christian, muslim, left, right, center, whatever – you da man. But it doesn’t seem very likely.

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Llelldorin 04.18.06 at 10:41 am

Actually, wouldn’t an Iranian ability to demolish Israel put them in the same position as North Korea?

So far, the Bush administration’s treatment of Iraq and North Korea (two of the three members of the original “Axis of Evil”) should have made it very, very clear to Iran that their main hope of avoiding an eventual US invasion is having the ability to devastate a US ally. North Korea has that ability, Iraq did not. If I were Iran, I’d want to be North Korea too.

As for a policy, I’d say sanctions as well. They clearly worked well enough in Iraq to keep their weapons programs dead in the water. (To forestall a tedious and pointless exchange: Liberals aren’t all on the same page. That’s nearly our defining trait. I was for sanctions in Iraq, despite the human costs inflicted by Hussein’s response. I’m aware that there were liberals that were not. That’s evidence of liberal disorganization, not hypocrisy.)

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Kelly 04.18.06 at 1:35 pm

Marcel (24) – sorry, as I stated, lack of coffee. The fundamentalist bit dates Israel from their “completion”, which was the 6 day war. The 20 years before that Israel wasn’t apparently whole. (I don’t write it, I just read it.)

Actually, Dr Weevil (29), I merely said I wondered if it was the case (with clear hope that it wasn’t), since they do seem to parrot an awful lot of the fundamentalist rhetoric, and the bits about Israel and the Middle East are central to fundamentalist doctrines around Armageddon. And it very well could have been Luke 21:20 – like I said, all my books on the subject have been packed/sealed/sent away for my upcoming move, and I have no way of quickly accessing which passage refers to what. And I personally haven’t had Biblical verses memorized in 20 years, easily.

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Dr. Weevil 04.18.06 at 2:26 pm

I’ve never memorized Bible verses, but I know where to find them on the web before I quote them. (Try here.) The fact that you can’t be bothered to get the citation right makes me wonder whether you are right in alleging that fundamentalists believe that Israel was in some sense founded in 1967, and that it’s forty years are almost up. A link would be nice.

Even if you can show that, is there any evidence whatsoever that Bush believes it? Last I heard he was a Methodist, like Hillary Clinton. Perhaps you don’t know the difference between born-again, evangelical, and fundamentalist? I’m not all that clear on the differences myself, but I do at least know that they’re different. You have no right to attribute specific “fundamentalist doctrines” to Bush just because he’s a conservative and a Christian.

Of course, my main point remains unanswered: There is far more evidence that Ahmadinejad is a religious fanatic trying to bring about Armageddon (or some Muslim equivalent) than there is for Bush. Yet somehow most people on this thread seem to think that Bush may be crazy enough to try a nuclear first strike, but Ahmadinejad (or his clerical puppetmasters, if you like) couldn’t possibly be. Looks like displacement to me.

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abb1 04.18.06 at 3:47 pm

Ahmadinejad

Doesn’t look like a religious fanatic or crazy fella at all. More like a populist and very smart guy. Smart enough to have a phd in civil engineering, getting elected a mayor of Tehran, editing a newspaper and being nominated for ‘World Mayor’ in 2005 – before becoming elected president of Iran last year.

Being elected is a sacred thing for you, guys, isn’t it? Or it depends?

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Barry 04.18.06 at 3:51 pm

“I stated that very clearly and it makes me wonder (for about the ten millionth time) why anyone should ever bother to state a position clearly, since it is going to be distorted anyway.”

Welcome to Obsidian Wings.

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Donald Johnson 04.18.06 at 6:08 pm

Well, abb1, it’s actually not that common for world leaders to openly brag about their willingness to wipe out another country with nuclear weapons. Now whether Ahmadinejad meant it or said what I’ve seen attributed to him I don’t know. If he did, this guy is scarier than your average thug.

And so is Bush, if Hersh is right about what is on his mind. But Bush has the sort of low animal cunning that distinguishes Western leaders from the barbarians of the east–when he wants to kill people in large numbers he doesn’t brag about it too frankly.

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abb1 04.19.06 at 1:14 am

I understand that Ahmadinejad consistently denies that he wants any nuclear weapons, let alone wiping out another country with nuclear weapons.

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James Wimberley 04.19.06 at 5:42 am

I posted this over at Mark Kleiman’s RBC blog on Easter Saturday when no-one was reading, serve me right.

“The White Man’s Persian Burden
Hear the card-carrying imperialist who cheered on the jolly Philippine adventure long ago, the Janus-faced Rudyard Kipling:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire… “

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Brendan 04.19.06 at 6:42 am

‘By the way, why is it all Iran and no North Korea? You know, the Axis partner that actually has the Bomb.’

Christ! It just goes to show how brainwashed I am that I didn’t actually realise that North Korea had the bomb. I thought that was a joke till i checked it up.

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