The Iranian “Threat”

I don’t like the Iranian regime. Bunch of thugs. But the warmongering about Iran is just frightening. From the increasingly NeoCon Washington Post:

Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats — could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern U.S. ships, current and former military analysts say.

In recent weeks, as nuclear talks with world powers have faltered and tensions have risen, Iran has repeated threats to shut down shipping in the oil-rich gulf region. Its leaders also have warned of massive retaliation for any attacks on its nuclear facilities, which the United States believes are civilian covers for an Iranian drive to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability.

Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry declared that the presence of U.S. warships in the gulf constituted a “real threat” to the region’s security.

Pentagon officials have responded by sending more ships, urged on by Congress as well as U.S. allies in the region. This month, the Navy announced that it would deploy the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis to the Middle East four months ahead of schedule. The shift will keep two carriers in the gulf region.

The United States also has announced new military exercises in the region, including a mine-sweeping drill in the gulf, and has moved to add new radar stations and land-based missile-defense batteries in Qatar.

Okay, sooo… We’ve ringed Iran’s borders with military bases. We make no secret about our desire for regime change. We are by all indications waging a covert war against them through industrial sabotage at the very least. We want to deny them their rights to pursue nuclear technology, even though developing a domestic fuel cycle is allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And we participate in a lot of loose talk about striking at their nuclear programs either alone or in conjunction with Israel.

In what world does this not result in Iran seeking to bolster deterrence by developing capabilities to strike either at shipping in the Gulf or at American warships operating close to Iranian shores? But then when they respond exactly as we’d respond, exactly as anyone would respond, we act all surprised and then double down on the initiatives that escalated tensions in the first place.

The Iranians want nukes — I suspect — because they see that as the only deterrence they can develop to head off regime change. They’ve learned from the example of Saddam. They’ve learned from the example of Gaddafy. The reality is that once you end up on our shit list, getting off it is very difficult. Gaddafy tried, but the minute he showed weakness, we were in there supporting an armed revolt against him. And with every threat, every new deployment, every new fixed installation we reinforce Iran’s fears. And what is amazing is that we seem to have zero awareness of this dynamic.

Yes, we want them to halt their nuclear activities, or at least be much more transparent about them. But it is hard to see how additional military pressure, which fundamentally serves to justify the arguments of those within Iran pushing for nukes, can help.






150 replies
  1. 1
    Schlemizel says:

    We have sown the wind all across the Middle East. Harvest time is coming I am afraid and the reaper will be very busy.

  2. 2
    Walker says:

    They have also learned from North Korea. Which we leave alone.

    They would be crazy to not want nuclear weapons.

  3. 3
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Not a surprise, when our foreign policy is dictated by Likud.

  4. 4
    Chris says:

    Let’s also frankly admit the elephant in the room: it would NOT be the end of the world for them to get nukes. Russia got them, China got them, North Korea got them: the earth went right on spinning. I don’t WANT it to happen, but we’ll still be able to live with it if it does.

  5. 5
    Soonergrunt says:

    The fact of the matter is that they can have every other part of their economy and infrastructure crumbling, and their closest neighbor could be able to take them in a one on one, and they could be on our shit list, but we will bend over backwards to kiss their asses if they have nuclear weapons.
    That’s exactly what happens with North Korea, and the Iranians aren’t stupid.

  6. 6
    smintheus says:

    Of course this policy is directed at least as much toward domestic politics as it is by considerations of Iranian realities.

  7. 7
    Zifnab says:

    Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats — could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern U.S. ships, current and former military analysts say.

    Oh shut up. Seriously – patrol boats against a naval destroyer? “Increasingly accurate” short range missiles? It could “strain” defensive capabilities?

    Give me a fucking break. This would make the Charge of the Light Brigade look like military genius.

  8. 8
    satanicpanic says:

    They’re laying the groundwork for a new war if Romney wins.

  9. 9
    rlrr says:

    @satanicpanic:

    And let’s be clear, war with Iran becomes a certainty if Romney wins.

  10. 10
    serge says:

    Dude, you’re making too much sense. Knock it off, already. We must keep up the tradition of fucking with the Iranians. First we help get rid of democracy forever in Iran in 1953 by overthrowing Mossadegh (for the good of BP), then the Shah, and now this.

    They’ve got every reason not to trust us! Who could have predicted…?

  11. 11
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Your problem, Bernard, is that you see the Iranians as humans. You try to imagine what you would do if the roles were reversed. And this exercise in imagination colors your opinion in all sorts of ways.

    I think that the majority of people in this country do not see the “other” as human. And they really don’t see the enemy as a brother in the struggle that is life.

    [I like you, Bernard.]

  12. 12
    Scratch says:

    Well, who doesn’t want another war in the Middle East? Plus, we can bundle that with another tax break to raise government revenues to pay for the war, so it’s a whole bunch of win from all around and all sides.

    Haven’t we learned anything from George Bush’s time in office?

  13. 13
    Maude says:

    Iran with nukes would have a lot of power in the region.
    I’m not comfortable with calling the Iranian government thugs. Especially after eight years of G.W.Bush.
    The Iranian economy is in a bad way.
    The government closed down the coffee shops. They must be nervous about people getting together and talking.
    There is the possibility that if Iran gets nukes, there will be an arms race in the region.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    That’s exactly what happens with North Korea

    North Korea is where the Chinese drops people it wants to disappear. In exchange for operating as a military satellite and prison state, China extends political protection to the country. That’s why we respect North Korea. It is the Israel of the Far East. A total asshole everyone in the region hates, but with that one big ally you don’t want to mess with.

  15. 15
    rlrr says:

    @Zifnab:

    If the Iranians got lucky and took out a destroyer, I’m guessing all their coastal military installations would be toast…

  16. 16
    Chris says:

    @rlrr:

    You think he’s that dumb? I mean, at least Bush had a decent economy and military and the support of the public via 9/11 hysteria. Is Romney really dumb enough to make that huge a commitment without public support when we’re up the current shit creek?

    I mean, if anyone is, it’s him, but still…

  17. 17
    redshirt says:

    We need to keep a detente going long enough for the Republican party to burn out and fade away so that logic and rationality can once again return to America’s foreign and domestic policy.

    A good trouncing in November on all fronts would be a great start.

  18. 18
    jwb says:

    @satanicpanic: Some think Bibi is planning a September or October surprise, and even if that is just a bunch of noise (as I believe) I wouldn’t count out Israel trying to do something later whoever is in the WH. If that happens, we’ll almost certainly be drawn into it because our domestic politics will make it extraordinarily difficult for us not to be.

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:

    @Zifnab: anyone here ever seen the “Goalkeeper”? Its a ship mounted chain gun. Self-directed its radar picks up an incoming missile and fires a rapid screen of depleted uranium slugs into the patch of sky the missile has to fly through.

    Its very slick & very sophisticated. It works very well & is very cheap while the missiles are expensive in comparison.

    Without nukes Iran would be insane to start anything, charge of the light brigade is about it. If I were them I would see no hope unless I did have nukes. In a sick way we are forcing them into this box.

  20. 20
    rlrr says:

    @Chris:

    You think he’s that dumb?

    Yes.

  21. 21
    Dave says:

    @Zifnab:

    Give me a fucking break. This would make the Charge of the Light Brigade look like military genius.

    Not exactly. The Iranians have their hands on the Sunburn anti-ship missile. Hits Mach 2.2 on the water’s surface, about 3x as fast as a Harpoon. It reduces ship response time to about 20-30 seconds.

    Now imagine swarming a “small” body of water like the Persian Gulf, full of US ships, with a couple hundred of these missiles.

    It’s not suicide. It’s a perfect example of asymmetrical warfare.

  22. 22
    satanicpanic says:

    @rlrr: Yup. But I bet they think dumbass Romney will fuck up the the lying and propagandizing necessary to get the war going, so they want to get started before he does.

  23. 23
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    There are lots of reasons for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, deterring the US from invading is one of them. Iran, like a lot of countries (Pakistan comes to mind),has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons long before GWB went on his Middle Eastern tour. The biggest reason, though, is that Iran wants to become the regional power of the Middle East. They would love to be able to be for the Middle East what the United States declared itself to be for the Americas at the end of the 19th century: The country the rest of the world goes to when there is trouble in that region.

    Now, to tell you the truth, if I were some country that Republicans like to pick on, and I saw that the American people were possibly stupid enough to elect another Republican, I might try to start packing some heat as well. (Gun references for the irony.)

    Gaddafy tried, but the minute he showed weakness he’d shoot his own citizens, we were in there supporting an armed revolt against him.

    Also, this doesn’t quite fit the rest of your theme. Why didn’t we invade this oil rich nation to take it over? Is it only because of who was in the White House?

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:

    @Chris: If the wingnuts want to go into Iran a President Rmoney will have no trouble whipping up support. Look how easily Boy Blunder did it. Yes, he had 9/11 bodies to stand on but that just made the run up faster not easier.

    Which newspapers, which TV talking heads, which news shows would speak out against the madness when the entire Wurlitzer was cranked up to 11?

  25. 25
    Adam C says:

    @Chris: I’d bet there are a lot of old boy Republicans still looking for revenge for 1979.

  26. 26
    GregB says:

    I try to have faith in humankind but I really think that there’s enough people in world leadership who’s religious beliefs call for an apocalyptic maelstrom of fire to make that myth into a reality.

    On the bright side, the ensuing nuclear winter might counteract global warming.

  27. 27
    Chris says:

    @redshirt:

    When was the last time you saw “logic and rationality” running foreign policy? War hysteria is never far from the surface even in the best of times, regardless of the official ideology. Even the “liberal consensus” years were also the years that gave birth to the military industrial complex, not to mention the arms race, Vietnam, the missile crisis…

  28. 28
    Maude says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):
    Iran has been saying it will close the Straits and that’s why the US is putting ships in the Gulf.
    The word Gulf brings back those awful memories of Poppy Bush.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    Meanwhile the threat Iran poses to our healthcare system.

    From the NYTimes magazine:

    What Can Mississippi Learn From Iran?

    “When the Iranian system was developed in the 1980s, there were no doctors in rural Iran,” Miller says. “And this is similar to the problem in the delta today.”

    Key difference: the Iranians did something about it. Cost effectively, even.

  30. 30
    MattF says:

    And, it’s very likely that in, say, 20 years, the situation will be entirely different, regardless of what we do or don’t do. Ooopsie-whoopsie for all the lost lives and treasure, just bygones.

  31. 31
    redshirt says:

    @Chris: We’ve managed to work with China for a long period of time when there are powerful forces looking to demagogue them into a belligerent party.

    We can make friends of enemies if we play the cards well. Focusing on mutual considerations – usually money – is the best tactic.

    I thought Bush Sr. and Clinton’s foreign policies were mostly rational.

  32. 32
    Thomas F says:

    @Maude: This type of glib moral equivalence gets tiresome quickly. The Tehran regime is composed of unelected theocrats who regularly spit venomous anti-Semitism, repress their people violently, and judicially murder homosexuals. They are thugs, plain and simple, and you evince neither humility nor wisdom by making flippant references to George W. Bush.

  33. 33
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Schlemizel: You seen Moskit? It’s very slick and sophisticated, and it’s believed the Iranians have a bunch of them, shore-based and possibly fitted to light patrol craft.

    Short description: it’s a sea-skimming missile with a 300kg warhead (the old Soviet versions had tacnuke capability) that goes from horizon to target in about ten seconds or so at 2800km/hr and only 20 metres altitude. It was designed to beat Goalkeeper, Phalanx and the assorted short-range reactive anti-missile defences the US Navy started introducing when it realised that air and missile attacks on modern surface ships were a lot more dangerous than they had anticipated once the results of the Falklands War had been taken to heart.

  34. 34
    Tom65 says:

    Yet another reason to keep Obama in office. You know damn well that Romney will promise Netanyahu anything he wants.

  35. 35
    General Stuck says:

    LOL, and here I thought we got involved in Libya cause Qadaffy was promising an imminent massacre of his countrymen and women, with heavy weapons largely supplied by the west. You could put Cole’s moniker on this thread post and no one would suspect he didn’t write it. Which is fine, it is his own blog. But manufacturing facts for a rewrite of history is what it is, as is claiming Quadaffy “tried”, whatever that means. Otherwise, I agree with the inherent danger of too many war ships in a confined space occupied by two countries that don’t like each other very much. And I don’t blame the Iranians from wanting the bomb as a deterrent from western (US) aggression. But the consequences in the region would likely include every Sunni country wanting a bomb as well. Then we are on a glide slope to the Apocalypse, seems to me. I think Obama is smart enough and solid enough in character that he won’t order an air strike that is bound to fail for destroying Iran’s largely under ground nuke facilities. But I don’t put anything past Bibi and his likud knuckledraggers. Nothing but bad choices and outcomes on every level.

  36. 36
    Culture of Truth says:

    The reality is that once you end up on our shit list, getting off it is very difficult.

    That Catch-22 is some catch. If you look like you’re cooperating, it only shows how sneaky you really are. See, Hussein, Saddam, 2003. See also, Obama, President, 2009-Present, NRA.

  37. 37
    danielx says:

    @Zifnab:

    Under ordinary circumstances…right. But the Iranians do have people who are ready, willing, able and in many cases eager to die; they proved it during the war with Iraq in the 1980s. That was against fellow Muslims. Against the Great Satan? You betcha. A US warship can engage a lot of targets, but 20, 30, 40 at the same time?

    Re: Iranian desire for nukes. It would be pretty difficult to miss what happens to countries on our shit list that don’t have nukes – they usually end up having ‘democracy brought to them’ via a big dose of ‘shock and awe’. I don’t want them to have nukes, nor any other country that doesn’t already have them – bad enough that the Indians and Pakistanis have them on either side of the most volatile boundary on earth. But I can understand why they would want the capability.

  38. 38
    satanicpanic says:

    @jwb: That might be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” I can imagine Obama handling whatever it is calmly and carefully, while Romney suspends his campaign McCain style, with similar results. Israel really doesn’t want to put Romney in that position.

  39. 39
    barry says:

    @Thomas F:

    Alas who can forget how the WSJ cheered (when they were’t suggesting that the First Lady murdered Vincent Foster)the rise of the Taliban in 1995? I recall reading the WSJ explanation that “tablib” means student.

    Only certain unelected theocrats who judicially murder their opponents are unacceptable to the GOP.

  40. 40
    weaselone says:

    @Zifnab:

    Under most circumstances I would agree with you, but the Persian Gulf is the great equalizer here. US ships in the Gulf are operating in a confined geographic area. This makes them extremely vulnerable to attack by short range missiles from either aircraft or smaller vessels as it makes it far more difficult to keep hostiles out of missile range. It’s like beginning the charge of the light brigade only a couple of meters from the enemy lines.

  41. 41
    David Hunt says:

    @Chris:

    You think he’s that dumb?

    I think Romney if almost irrelevant to the equation. If he gets into office, he will be so beholden to the factions that put him there that he will be a rubber stamp to those groups. On the foreign policy side that’s Neocons like the Kristall Ball and (FSM help us) John Bolton. Plus Haliburton and Blackwater could make billions on defense contracts and there’s always Sheldon Adelson and his wacky agenda . Romney doesn’t have to be stupid. He just has to lack the moral fortitude to stand up to that vast array of forces trying to move us toward war with Iran. I don’t know about you, but “moral fortitude” are not the words that come to mind when I think about Mitt Romney.

  42. 42

    If we could get off the oil, then we could just laugh at them while they starve to death. Problem solved.

    That of course would require wisdom, patience, long-term planning and discipline.

    (HA!)

  43. 43
    wrb says:

    @Zifnab: @Zifnab:

    Oh shut up. Seriously – patrol boats against a naval destroyer? “Increasingly accurate” short range missiles? It could “strain” defensive capabilities?
    Give me a fucking break. This would make the Charge of the Light Brigade look like military genius

    No one expects the Spanish Armada!

    Actully you’re on the wrong side of an old argument. In a maasive war game several an unconventional Marine general playing the Iranian side used just those tactics to sink the shit out if the US fleet.

    The game masters ruled the techniques “illegal” and reset the game.

    How much do you want to bet the Iranian scofflaws have studied the techniques?

    All they’d need to do is use Wiki

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....lenge_2002

    btw, funny the damage one Argentinean plane with one Exocet missile did to the pride of Britian’s fleet.

    Surface navies are sitting ducks

  44. 44
    RP says:

    North Korea is where the Chinese drops people it wants to disappear. In exchange for operating as a military satellite and prison state, China extends political protection to the country. That’s why we respect North Korea. It is the Israel of the Far East. A total asshole everyone in the region hates, but with that one big ally you don’t want to mess with.

    So now Israel is like North Korea? Give me a break.

  45. 45
    Rob says:

    “Increasingly NeoCon”?

  46. 46
    NonyNony says:

    @danielx:

    But the Iranians do have people who are ready, willing, able and in many cases eager to die; they proved it during the war with Iraq in the 1980s. That was against fellow Muslims.

    People in the US keep mistaking the fact that Iran is run by unelected theocrats with the idea that the government of Iran is particularly unpopular. It’s actually fairly popular with the mass of the population, just not with the folks in the population that we readily identify with (the students, the intellectuals, the entertainers, etc.). We have a problem thinking that any government that isn’t completely democratically selected as being popular, but historically speaking there have been more non-democratically elected popular regimes than democratically elected ones.

    And on the other hand, the mass of the Iranian population is deeply suspicious of the US. Perhaps because we toppled their democratically-elected government and installed a dictator in its place purely because their government was daring to commit a few acts of so-shul-ism. The unelected theocrats actually keep a lot of their power by making sure that the folks in rural areas get things like health care and aren’t starving to death. And hey – the unelected theocrats aren’t any worse to majority of the people than the Shah was, and the theocrats at least have the moral high ground because they are able to couch everything in the language of Islam, which folks in Iran respect as much as the average person in the US does Christianity.

  47. 47
    Hawes says:

    I’m pretty sure if we WEREN’T ringing Iran with bases and naval forces, they’d still be pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran sees itself as a messianic regime with a special place in the Islamic world and Pakistan getting nuclear weapons no doubt stole some of that sense of specialness.

    Also, the Iranian regime has to distract the populace from its terrible governance and “national greatness” via a nuclear program is all they have left.

    I sure as hell don’t want war with Iran, but Iran doesn’t want war with us either. As long as the decision makers (Khamenei and Obama) have cool heads, this is all posturing.

  48. 48
    schrodinger's cat says:

    OT : BTW has anybody heard anything about DougJ after he posted day before yesterday. Have been away from my computer all of yesterday and was concerned. I hope he is OK.

    ETA: Sorry to hear about your kitteh, what was her name?

  49. 49
    Hawes says:

    @NonyNony:

    Maybe twenty years ago, but there is increasing economic hardship in Iran and not just in the urban areas. If the Iranian people could actually vote freely, I doubt very much whether there would be anything CLOSE to the governance they have now.

    And Iranians generally follow the same pattern as much of the world: They like Americans and the idea of America, they hate American policies.

  50. 50
    wrb says:

    Iran’s eventual acquisition of nukes has been inevitable at least since the US invaded countries on both sides of them.

    Maybe if Israel gives back the occupied territories, Iran would promise to not use their nukes.

  51. 51
    Ruckus says:

    Bernard.
    Quit making so much sense. We can’t have any of that in our public policy towards people we aren’t supposed to like.

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    @NonyNony:

    Yes, except I don’t think it’s even “the language of Islam” so much as “we’re sons of bitches but at least we’re YOUR sons of bitches, unlike Pahlavi who was America’s.”

    I’m other words, not religion so much as simple nationalism. The same thing does a lot to explain Castro’s popularity in Cuba. One of the side effects of American Exceptionalism is that we’re honestly incapable of understanding nationalist sentiment in other countries.

  53. 53
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    And what is amazing is that we seem to have zero awareness of this dynamic.

    Willful ignorance is a wondrous thing to behold…

  54. 54
    Interrobang says:

    @RP: Yeah, quite. If you’re enumerating “total assholes” in the rough region of Israel, Israel isn’t even on the goddamn list, much as I hate their government. After all, it only severely represses a fraction of its population, instead of more than half, namely the women of the region, plus any residual Jews or other religious minorities left. Israeli Arabs also don’t get treated nearly as badly as, say, the ten Jews left in Baghdad — the rest of them were either killed or driven out.

    I’d rather be a Palestinian living in Israel than in Jordan, besides — Jordan owes Palestine land according to the 1947 agreement, and never gave it, and has been using their internal DP Palestinian population as a political football (and treating them as shitty as the Gazans are) ever since.

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    North Korea is a bad analogy for Iran getting nukes.

    The biggest single factor in dealing with North Korea is WDSKWH (What does South Korea want to Handle), because at the end of the day, if the North Korean regime is deposed South Korea is going to be left picking up the pieces.

    20 years into German unification and there are still differences between the East and West.

    North Korea is in no way as close, in economic and social terms, to South Korea as East Germany was to West Germany.

    We want to deny them their rights to pursue nuclear technology, even though developing a domestic fuel cycle is allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Iran is its own worst enemy here. All they have to do is cooperate with IAEA inspectors and they wouldn’t be having so much trouble getting their domestic peaceful nuclear program off the ground.

  56. 56
    Tokyokie says:

    @Dave: Iran apparently has the Russian SS-N-22s and the upgraded Chinese variant, the range of which is thought to be about 150 miles. They also apparently have the capacity to fire them from mobile launchers. Although the U.S. has developed countermeasures for these weapons such as the chain gun mentioned upthread and the SeaRAM anti-missile system, the effectiveness of these systems when several are fired from different locations simultaneously is a matter of conjecture. The Iranians’ tactic would probably be to target the Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers first. Disabling those would leave the carriers sitting ducks as long as they were within range. And these weapons give Iran the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz and shut off all tanker traffic transiting the Persian Gulf.

    Furthermore, there is no way in hell that the Shiite-dominated government of Iran would allow us to launch attacks on the heart of Shia Islam from its territory. And when push comes to shove, our feckless allies in the region, Kuwait, Qatar and the U.A.E., are all probably much more scared of their significant Shiite minorities than they are the U.S., and are unlikely to provide meaningful tactical support. Nor could we expect support from most of our NATO allies (except maybe Turkey). We’d pretty much be on our own, and would have to dramatically build up the capacity of our bases in land-locked Afghanistan before launching an invasion. And although Iran doesn’t have a particularly strong military, it does have a huge military-age population, and aggression by a foreign invader is about the only sure-fire way of uniting it entirely behind its thug-run government.

    Attacking Iran under these circumstances would make the invasion of Iraq look like brilliant diplomacy by comparison.

  57. 57
    Maude says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    He’s doing something and not posting much until Aug. 5.

  58. 58
    Commenting at Balloon Juice Since 1937 says:

    Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats — could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern U.S. ships

    I’m pretty sure our ships have great big guns on them that could handle an Iranian swarm.

  59. 59
    Zifnab says:

    @Dave: Well, first off, you are assuming the US Navy doesn’t have spies or mechanical alerts littering the Gulf to the point where they’d know a missile was going to be fired before anyone hit the launch button. But for the sake of argument, lets assume Iran could put hundreds of Sunburn missiles in the water before the Navy could respond.

    You’d score one major victory in the Gulf. You’d be very proud of yourself. And then half a dozen aircraft carriers would show up with a fleet of bombers at their backs and the entire Iranian coast would be reduced to rubble.

    In the meantime, oil prices would skyrocket as traffic along one of the major arteries of oil export would be shut down. The only ally Iran would have after that is Venezuela (Chavez’s oil exporting nation would bank). The Saudis, the Jordanians, the Iraqis, the UAE, Yemen, and Qatar? They’d collectively lose their shit.

    It would redefine Pyrrhic victory.

    Now, admittedly, this also serves as a deterrent to US aggression. Because if we were to invade and trigger a conflict like that, the Mid-East nations would lose their shit at us. So the status quo of foreign trade favors peace on all fronts. That’s why this scenario is so outlandish. The individual that strikes first loses, and loses big.

  60. 60
    wrb says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    BTW has anybody heard anything about DougJ after he posted day before yesterday. Have been away from my computer all of yesterday and was concerned.

    The goat man called the police and claimed that he wasn’t crazy and wasn’t doing anything not consensual. He said his goat suit consisted of hooded painters’ overalls and a fleece.

    There wasn’t anything about horns.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....-goat-man/

  61. 61
    Citizen_X says:

    @Hawes:

    “national greatness” via a nuclear program is all they have left.

    How do you say “My opponent doesn’t even believe in Persian Exceptionalism!” in Farsi?

  62. 62
    Interrobang says:

    @wrb: Maybe if Israel gives back the occupied territories, Iran would promise to not use their nukes.

    Pardon me, but are you fucking delusional? The Iranian government hates Jews because they’re Jewish, not because they’re oppressing Palestinians, who are not the same kind of Muslims as the Iranians are, and are Arabs besides (and the Persians have never given a damn about the Arabs, except in terms of showy rhetorical gestures for political reasons).

    The Iranians won’t use their nukes because they’re not that stupid and/or crazy. Iranians can figure things out and do math the same as anybody else, and they know damn well that if they tried, the whole rest of the world would clobber them, and (given their likely targets) the fallout would get them, as well.

  63. 63
    foodriots says:

    Well then quit yer bitchin and vote! Blame the voters for continuing to vote for the neocons.

  64. 64
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    All the Iranians have to do is unleash their sleeper units in the Gulf knock out the oil refineries and game over for the world economy. Besides the Russians and the Chinese are not going to sit there and let the US take Iran, but then maybe they will and let the US fall into quagmire while the Russkies and the ChiComs feast on the carcass. Either way the Global American Empire crashes and burns. The White Man’s Burden burns to ashes.

  65. 65
    Schlemizel says:

    @Robert Sneddon: goalkeeper has a mod for that now but they won’t discuss it so I don’t know how well it works yet.

  66. 66
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @gene108: That’s why I don’t buy “the only reason Iran is developing nuclear weapons is to keep the US out” argument. It wouldn’t be very hard for them to open up if they wanted to.

    We actually have a history of a country destroying it’s nuclear weapons program: South Africa. Stepping away from them can be done.

  67. 67
    gene108 says:

    @barry:

    rise of the Taliban in 1995?

    The Taliban, as they were portrayed in 1994-1995, were seen as a unifying force for a war torn Afghanistan; young Afghan men with some sort of vision to unify their country after 15 years of continuous warfare.

    Pakistan’s explicit reason for propping the Taliban up during their fighting in 1994-1995 was to resolve Pakistan’s Afghan refugee problem.

    Some 2-3 million Afghans fled to Pakistan in the 1980’s and couldn’t move back to Afghanistan, even after the Soviets pulled out, because of the unstable governments and civil war.

    No one realized what Taliban rule was going to be like or that Pakistan would use Afghanistan as a training ground for terrorists to attack India.

    I can forgive the WSJ in 1995 for being pro-Taliban.

  68. 68
    wrb says:

    @Interrobang:

    The Iranians won’t use their nukes because they’re not that stupid and/or crazy. Iranians can figure things out and do math the same as anybody else, and they know damn well that if they tried, the whole rest of the world would clobber them, and (given their likely targets) the fallout would get them, as well.

    Then Israel has nothing to worry about, I take it?
    __
    Then they should calm down and stop making threats and there will be peace in the land?</

  69. 69
    Another Gene says:

    @gene108: I doubt it. The beef over IAEA inspections, peaceful vs. military uses, and so forth are cover for regime change and reestablishment of a client state, our actual objective. Full, satisfactory cooperation w/the IAEA would never be allowed–by us.

  70. 70
    The Moar You Know says:

    This type of glib moral equivalence gets tiresome quickly. The Tehran regime is composed of unelected theocrats who regularly spit venomous anti-Semitism, repress their people violently, and judicially murder homosexuals. They are thugs, plain and simple, and you evince neither humility nor wisdom by making flippant references to George W. Bush.

    @Thomas F: U mad, bro? Somebody reminded you of what a failure your party’s last piece of shit president was?

  71. 71
    NonyNony says:

    @Interrobang:

    The Iranian government hates Jews because they’re Jewish, not because they’re oppressing Palestinians

    You really think Iran’s problem with Israel is simple anti-Semitisim? Seriously?

    I mean there’s probably some anti-Semitism there – Persians and Arabs have never really gotten along, and if there’s one way to drum up extra hate for your enemies it’s by pointing out that their religion is a lie because your religion says so – but Israel is hated for more than that. To the folks in the Middle East, Israel is a bunch of Europeans (and Americans) who have moved into the area, stolen a chunk of land from the people who lived there before, and now want to spread out to even more land in the area.

    If you don’t understand that Israel is perceived as a real threat – that the people in the Middle East think that the people in Israel want to take their land the way they did to the Palestinians – then you’re missing a key ingredient in understanding why the Middle East is so fucked up at the moment. And why the occupied territories are a big deal to people all over the region.

  72. 72
    General Stuck says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    That’s why I don’t buy “the only reason Iran is developing nuclear weapons is to keep the US out” argument. It wouldn’t be very hard for them to open up if they wanted to.

    Agreed, but George Bush gave them the excuse or reason, as a matter of historical cluster fuck. All politics is local, or in this case, most politics is local, and goes back centuries of sectarian and cultural strife. Many Sunnis don’t even consider Shia as anything much more than fake Muslims, and the Shia are well aware of this and nothing would please them more as an equalizer in the form of an Islamic Bomb to rattle Sunni cages. Not to mention providing long term leverage in the age old Sunni/Shia rivalry.

  73. 73
    salacious crumb says:

    Bernie, you a racist for challenging Dear Leader Obama’s intentions towards Iran. His intentions should never be questioned. Iran is the new Hitler and we should nuke it. That should help Obama get reelected. Worked for Bush.

  74. 74
    The Moar You Know says:

    All the Iranians have to do is unleash their sleeper units in the Gulf knock out the oil refineries and game over for the world economy.

    @Mr Stagger Lee: No oil refineries in the Gulf. They’re here.

  75. 75
    wrb says:

    @Zifnab:

    You’d score one major victory in the Gulf. You’d be very proud of yourself. And then half a dozen aircraft carriers would show up with a fleet of bombers at their backs and the entire Iranian coast would be reduced to rubble.

    We sail a fleet into the same waters where they destroyed the last one?

    Or do they win that point?

    When do we stop blowing up people who probably had nothing to do with the attack?

    Nuke Teheran?

    What do we do about a couple of million Iranians furious intent on destroying oil supplies and American interests world wide?

    Sounds like a winner.

  76. 76
    Culture of Truth says:

    “Republicans see a legitimate advantage here by portraying Romney as someone who intuitively gets the Israelis.”

    Didn’t he try that already?

  77. 77
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Schlemizel: What happens when the weapon system runs out of ammo?

  78. 78
    Chris says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I admit, I am MOST curious to see how that Israel trip goes. England, okay. Poland, meh. But a Republican candidate who manages to fuck up an Israel trip, well oy gevalt!

  79. 79
    Pillsy says:

    I don’t think there’s anything incorrect about Bernard’s analysis that says that Iran is acting in a perfectly rational way given its interests. It’s just if you apply a similar analysis to the US, it makes a lot of sense to engage in brinkmanship now in order to try to prevent the Iranians from getting the nuclear deterrent that they have every reason to want.

  80. 80
    Rafer Janders says:

    Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats — could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern U.S. ships, current and former military analysts say.

    Notice the implied assumption behind the use of “defensive” in the sentence above. Where would these US ships be operating? In US waters? No, in the Persian Gulf, off of Iran. And yet by using “defensive capabilities” in the sentence above, the writer casts Iran as the aggressor and America as the defender.

    And why would our forces come into conflict in the first place? Because Iran would attack us? Please. We’d be the aggressor.

  81. 81
    Rafer Janders says:

    The Iranians want nukes—I suspect—because they see that as the only deterrence they can develop to head off regime change.

    Even without that, consider their strategic situation. To their east, nuclear-armed Pakistan, and over the border nuclear-armed India and China. To their northeast, US forces in Afghanistan. To their north (past the Central Asian states), nuclear-armed Russia. To their northwest, NATO member and US ally Turkey. To their west, Iraq, until recently occupied by the US. And to their south, the nuclear-armed US Navy.

    Given that they are ringed by hostile nuclear powers, it would be irresponsible for them not to acquire nuclear capability of their own.

  82. 82
    Cacti says:

    @rlrr:

    And let’s be clear, war with Iran becomes a certainty if Romney wins.

    Romney’s “American century” comment in his jingoistic screed for the VFW wasn’t a dog whistle.

    It was a fecking air raid siren. There will be war with Iran if a Republican wins the White House.

    And because Mitt was a coward during Vietnam like so many of the neocon cadre, he’s anxious to show what a big, macho, “war president” he would be.

  83. 83
    burnspbesq says:

    @Chris:

    Let’s also frankly admit the elephant in the room: it would NOT be the end of the world for them to get nukes. Russia got them, China got them, North Korea got them: the earth went right on spinning. I don’t WANT it to happen, but we’ll still be

    Respectfully disagree, for two reasons.

    1. I tend to think that when push comes to shove, the seat of real political power in Iran is in Qom, not in Tehran.

    2. Deterrence worked because every head of state and head of government with a finger on a button was a rational actor that could be counted on not to take actions that would head to the incineration of his own people. I don’t think that description applies to Khamenei, and the nature of the succession process makes it pretty likely that it won’t apply to any successor.

  84. 84
    Rafer Janders says:

    The reality is that once you end up on our shit list, getting off it is very difficult. Gaddafy tried,

    Well, he didn’t really try to the extent of giving up dictatorial power and allowing free and fair democratic elections, now did he? No matter how much he supposedly “tried”, he was still running a human-rights nightmare of a repressive dictatorship, and more than willing to kill and torture anyone who got in his way.

  85. 85
    Alienprayer says:

    @Soonergrunt: It takes half an hour to winch a cassette of a few hundred thousand rounds out of the ship’s armory.

    There is a certain symmetry to the whole thing, 30 seconds of fire time, 30 minutes to reload. The logistics get even worse when you notice that quite a few support vessels don’t even have this half-arsed defense.

    So even if this Iranian swarm doesn’t sink any carriers, the carriers will all run out of ammunition and jet fuel the next day and be transformed into nuclear-powered one-star hotels.

  86. 86
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Maude:

    I don’t know how, in the same post, you can first write “I’m not comfortable with calling the Iranian government thugs”and then, a few sentences down, note that “The government closed down the coffee shops. They must be nervous about people getting together and talking.”

    If they shut down coffee shops — coffee shops — because they don’t want their own citizens talking to each other, then yes, they are thugs.

  87. 87
    burnspbesq says:

    @Dave:

    It’s a perfect example of asymmetrical warfare

    Which has to be 100 percent successful (defined as making every carrier in the neighborhood incapable of conducting flight operations) the first time, or there will never be a second time.

  88. 88
    Mattminus says:

    — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats —

    ZERG RUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  89. 89
    Cacti says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I don’t know how, in the same post, you can first write “I’m not comfortable with calling the Iranian government thugs”and then, a few sentences down, note that “The government closed down the coffee shops. They must be nervous about people getting together and talking.”

    It’s easy.

    When “thug” is used in an American political discussion, it almost always has a racial element to it. It’s a convenient term for other-izing non-whites that you’re anxious to drop bombs on, shoot, mace, taser, etc.

  90. 90
    wrb says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Which has to be 100 percent successful (defined as making every carrier in the neighborhood incapable of conducting flight operations) the first time, or there will never be a second time.

    Just as there never was a second IED, since the first one didn’t destroy US capabilities?

    Seems to me we had some trouble finding every scud missile too.

  91. 91
    Rafer Janders says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Deterrence worked because every head of state and head of government with a finger on a button was a rational actor that could be counted on not to take actions that would head to the incineration of his own people. I don’t think that description applies to Khamenei, and the nature of the succession process makes it pretty likely that it won’t apply to any successor.

    No, that’s ridiculous. We’ve had that hysterical “this time it’s different! He’s not rational! He can’t be trusted!” with every foreign enemy since Stalin’s time. We said it of Stalin, Kruschchev, Mao, Brezhnev, Qaddafi, Sadddam Hussein, etc. It was nonsense then and it was nonsense now. There’s nothing in Khamenei’s behavior to indicate any kind of suidicial death-wish. The Iranian regime, just like all dictatorial regimes, cares mostly about one thing — staying in power. And to stay in power, you’ve got to stay alive.

  92. 92
    Brachiator says:

    @Zifnab:
    RE: Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats — could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern U.S. ships, current and former military analysts say.

    Oh shut up. Seriously – patrol boats against a naval destroyer? “Increasingly accurate” short range missiles? It could “strain” defensive capabilities?
    __
    Give me a fucking break. This would make the Charge of the Light Brigade look like military genius.

    Totally agree. I hate this kind of idiot hypothetical BS deliberately designed to gin up a military response. They tip their hand with the “could strain” nonsense, as though every scenario that could be imagined is equally likely and equally likely to succeed.

    But wingnut goobers eat this shit up, especially when it is served up by bona fide “military analysts.”

    @NonyNony:

    If you don’t understand that Israel is perceived as a real threat – that the people in the Middle East think that the people in Israel want to take their land the way they did to the Palestinians

    Don’t really agree with this or think that you have much in the way to support it. There has been a perisistent “Israel has no right to exist” mantra that has been consistently pushed by other governments in the region.

  93. 93
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’ve been saying this for ages on these threads. It seemed pretty obvious to me. Iran knows damn well there is no good argument for attacking America or Israel, because there is no way it can prevail. So it has never made such a threat; the threatening words have all come from America and Israel. If America wants Iran to give up nukes, it should convince Israel to give them up first; and for its own part, America should quit publicly threatening Iran while already waging a quiet war against it. (ETA: This by itself probably wouldn’t be anywhere near enough, but it would be a start.)

    The American exceptionalists like to mutter darkly about Iran’s designs on the Middle East, but are those designs really any more malign than America’s? Iran feels it has at least as much right to exert influence in its region as America claims for its own exceptional self — particularly when it’s Iran’s own region and nowhere near the Americas. America’s own record of exerting Middle East influence is hardly one of disinterested benevolence.

    Also, Iran’s neighbors understand what it really wants. They’re competing, and sometimes allying, with Iran and with each other for exactly the same thing. A lot of them who aren’t keen on Iranian Shi’ite mullahs ruling their world are also not keen on Christian American politicians ruling it.

  94. 94
    wrb says:

    I don’t think that description applies to Khamenei, and the nature of the succession process makes it pretty likely that it won’t apply to any successor.

    I hope our next fundie president is as rational as Khamenei has been so far.

  95. 95
    burnspbesq says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    And why would our forces come into conflict in the first place? Because Iran would attack us? Please. We’d be the aggressor.

    Unknown and un-knowable.

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hawes:

    I sure as hell don’t want war with Iran, but Iran doesn’t want war with us either. As long as the decision makers (Khamenei and Obama) have cool heads, this is all posturing.

    If it was just the US and Iran facing off, I wouldn’t worry so much. Like you, I suspect that 90 percent of the current back-and-forth is political posturing and both Khameni and Obama are perfectly happy to leave things at big talk and ostentatious displays.

    What worries me is that most of our allies in the region are unreliable, to say the least. I would be completely unsurprised if Israel or Saudi Arabia decided to do some kind of false flag operation to try and precipitate the start of a war to serve their own interests.

  97. 97

    Then there’s the Israel angle.

    As long as Israel exists and refuses to make peace with the Palestinians, there’s no way Iran can get off the shit list with the United States.

    The Military-Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby will be advocating for a confrontational policy toward Iran no matter what.

  98. 98
    Chris says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    This. Sorry Burns.

  99. 99
    burnspbesq says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    There’s nothing in Khamenei’s behavior to indicate any kind of suidicial death-wish. The Iranian regime, just like all dictatorial regimes, cares mostly about one thing—staying in power

    So you’re saying that Khamenei’s public statement are just posturing for domestic political purposes, and you’re willing to bet half a billion lives on the accuracy of that assessment?

    Sorry, I’m not.

  100. 100
    liberal says:

    @Thomas F:

    They are thugs, plain and simple, and you evince neither humility nor wisdom by making flippant references to George W. Bush.

    Yeah, all Bush did was invade a country that wasn’t threatening us, murdering hundreds of thousands of their people in the process.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I don’t think that description applies to Khamenei, and the nature of the succession process makes it pretty likely that it won’t apply to any successor.

    I’m not seeing this supposed irrationality in Khameni that you are. Frankly, I would be more comfortable with a nuclear-armed Iran than I am with a nuclear-armed Pakistan — Iran seems to be much more politically stable.

    And the religious fanatics who run Iran were at least rational enough to realize that if they were going to decide that women weren’t allowed to have any contact with non-related men, they needed to have women become doctors, lawyers, and other professionals so that other women would have access to services. That was a connection the Taliban never managed to make.

  102. 102
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Maude: He posted a day or two ago, apparently he had some tea and was dizzy and nauseous, had to send someone else to give the lecture he was giving, and was feeling dizzy and disoriented the next day. He was advised by the physicians on BJ to go see a doctor, and rule out that it was not anything serious like a minor stroke.

  103. 103
    liberal says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    No, that’s ridiculous.

    Burnsie being ridiculous? Now that’s a new one.

  104. 104
    liberal says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Agree on both points.

  105. 105
    schrodinger's cat says:

    On a lighter note, why do Iranians have such bushy eyebrows? I have known a few Iranians and without fail they have extremely bushy eyebrows sometimes even a uni brow. BTW I have observed this only among men. I guess the women must pluck and shape their brows.

  106. 106
    Rafer Janders says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Sure. We invade Iran’s neighbor Iraq with no provocation, we invade and occupy Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan, we run our Navy up and down Iran’s shore, we ring the country with military bases on its borders, our leaders constantly threaten to attack Iran, we collude in terrorist attacks on their scientists and research networks — and it’s “un-known and unknowable” as to whether it’s more likely that we’ll launch an attack against Iran, or whether Iran will launch a suicidal attack against us. The history of belligerence is rather more on our side than theirs.

  107. 107
    RP says:

    If you don’t understand that Israel is perceived as a real threat – that the people in the Middle East think that the people in Israel want to take their land the way they did to the Palestinians

    This shows a complete lack of understanding of the politics of the middle east.

  108. 108
    Brachiator says:

    And with every threat, every new deployment, every new fixed installation we reinforce Iran’s fears. And what is amazing is that we seem to have zero awareness of this dynamic.

    The other dynamic that we seem to have zero awareness of is that nations have their own national interests, they do not simplistically react to the belligerent actions of the US or other nations.

    South Africa, India, and Pakistan developed nuclear weapons because they wanted them. They wanted to be members of the club.

    Until maybe Wikileaks does their thing and releases documents and memos from Iran’s leadership, no one can talk with much certainty about that country’s aims. What is offered here is a reasonable supposition, but it is still looking at Iran from the outside.

  109. 109
    Cacti says:

    @burnspbesq:

    So you’re saying that Khamenei’s public statement are just posturing for domestic political purposes, and you’re willing to bet half a billion lives on the accuracy of that assessment? Sorry, I’m not.

    Gosh burnsie, this quote sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before?

    “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

    Didn’t buy it then, not buying it now.

    If you’re “not willing” to let it happen, back away from your keyboard and go enlist.

  110. 110
    RP says:

    I have no problem with Iran getting nukes. I see no evidence that they’d be any more likely to use them than any other country that’s acquired nukes over the last 60 years.

  111. 111
    redshirt says:

    As mentioned earlier, I believe there is a strong current of pro-American sentiment with the Iranian population. Not for American policies, but for the culture and concept. If the conditions were different, I think we’d be great friends. I hope one day it is so.

    Check out what Iran used to be like: http://redshirtlament.blogspot.....times.html

  112. 112
    liberal says:

    @Pillsy:

    It’s just if you apply a similar analysis to the US, it makes a lot of sense to engage in brinkmanship now in order to try to prevent the Iranians from getting the nuclear deterrent that they have every reason to want.

    No, the US position really makes no sense at all. We have one, and only one, rational strategic interest in that part of the world: that oil continues to flow, and isn’t mostly under the control of one hegemon.

    Given that, and a map and the history of the region, the degree of our animosity towards Iran isn’t rational. Yes, a rational strategy about nuclear proliferation would prefer that fewer nations get the bomb, but the Iranians have made pretty reasonable offers to us in the past (first Bush 43 term, e.g., IIRC), only to be rebuffed.

  113. 113
    liberal says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    All completely irrelevant. If the great and modest Burns proclaims that Iran is irrational, then it is.

  114. 114
    liberal says:

    @redshirt:
    Yeah, well, you could say that about almost the entire world. They do love our culture and much of what we represent, but they don’t like it when we have our boot on their neck, or point big guns in their direction. Funny, that.

  115. 115
    No Likudnik says:

    If Israel’s existence and real world Zionism are not consistent with peace and stability, there are options other than bombing and invading every country in the region.

    We could declare the experiment of Zionism over. The Jews can either make peace with the Arabs and indigenous people or they can emigrate.

    But the gravy train of subsidies for a social/religious experiment is not something the U.S. taxpayers are obligated to fund in perpetuity.

    At some point we just have to acknowledge that it didn’t work. Rather than seeking to exist peacefully, Israel indoctrinated it’s people with increasingly hostile rhetoric and Israel’s territorial ambition became unquenchable.

    OTOH Israel can get serious about making peace.

    BTW, how is subsidizing “the Jewish State” consistent with the First Amendment anyways?

  116. 116
    Zifnab says:

    @wrb:

    We sail a fleet into the same waters where they destroyed the last one?

    The ships we have in the Gulf now are there as police, not as invaders. We have bombers that can circle the globe on a single run and missiles that can be launched a good thousand miles away. You don’t need nukes to obliterate an enemy.

    What’s more, the real damage Iran would do it itself is one of politics. None of Iran’s neighbors want the Straight shut down. And the economic fallout at home will not make the Ayatollah terribly popular. That’s where the real danger lays. Kicking the US fleet out of local waters doesn’t achieve anything long term.

  117. 117
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Alienprayer: Even if it only takes 3 minutes to reload that high speed weapon system, that’s three minutes it’s not providing protection to the ship upon which it is mounted.
    3 minutes is fucking eternity in combat.
    30 minutes is 27 minutes longer than fucking eternity.

  118. 118
    Soonergrunt says:

    @burnspbesq: Let me tell you about a couple of tourist attactions called Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t seem to have heard of them.

  119. 119
    Rafer Janders says:

    @burnspbesq:

    So you’re saying that Khamenei’s public statement are just posturing for domestic political purposes,

    Yes.

    and you’re willing to bet half a billion lives on the accuracy of that assessment?

    No, on the simple fact that Iran is a poor country without the means to put its threats, if any, into practice, and they know it.

    And the “bet” can go either way. I could just as easily write “so you’re willing to bet half a billion [??? Where do you get these bizarre numbers?] lives on your guess that Khamenei is NOT posturing for domestic political advantage? Sorry, I’m not.”

  120. 120
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Amir Khalid: What he said.

  121. 121
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What worries me is that most of our allies in the region are unreliable, to say the least. I would be completely unsurprised if Israel or Saudi Arabia decided to do some kind of false flag operation to try and precipitate the start of a war to serve their own interests.

    I think that a president Romney would be the sort of dope that would fall for this feint. First, he’s a moron; second, he is so eager to try to hide his essential cowardice under a facade of strength that he would be eager for the opportunity to show how strong the US is.

    Also, too, did I say how much I despise Mitt Romney?

  122. 122
    NonyNony says:

    @Brachiator:

    Don’t really agree with this or think that you have much in the way to support it. There has been a perisistent “Israel has no right to exist” mantra that has been consistently pushed by other governments in the region.

    That doesn’t actually conflict with what I said that you blockquoted. Do you understand why they say that Israel has no right to exist?

    The claim “Israel has no right to exist” is a claim that Israel is an illegitimate state – why might they think that Israel is an illegitimate state? If you think it’s because they’re just anti-Semitic and hate Jews, you should take a step back and think about whether that covers all the bases.

  123. 123
    maya says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    All Persian Iranian cats have bushy eyebrows. Even the females.

  124. 124
    wrb says:

    @Zifnab:

    There would be negative fallout for Iran if they sank our fleet.

    I thought we were talking about whether they could sink it.

    There would be negative fallout for us if we pulverized Iran in response, but we might consider it worthwhile.

    Just as the leaders of Iran might think the fallout from sinking out fleet it worth taking, especially if they sank it in retaliation for an attack on their nuke facilities.

    It is hard to know how thinks someone with very, very bushy eyebrows.

  125. 125
    wrb says:

    ot, but too good to miss

    After his visit to Whitehall, Chapman offered two of the kinder reviews of Mitt Romney, “Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.’ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts.” Chapman also reported another verdict from British meet and greet with Mitt, “Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’”
    __
    edited to add:
    That special relationship is being put in jeopardy by a Republican nominee who can’t stop insulting the British people while making an ass out of himself. Instead of proving that he is Commander in Chief material, Romney is justifying John McCain’s 2008 selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. To think, that the Romney campaign actually agreed to foreign policy being the the topic of the third presidential debate.
    __
    The British opinion of Romney has gone from he might be another Bush to oh my God, he makes Sarah Palin seem prepared.
    __
    Not since World War II has London seen a bombing as thorough as Mitt Romney’s.__

    http://www.politicususa.com/ro.....palin.html

  126. 126
    Rob in CT says:

    This whole thing is ridiculous. MAD applies (or rather just “AD” since it wouldn’t be mutual. We have enough nukes to annihilate their entire country if it came to that).

    So, while one can certainly prefer that the Iranian government not get its hands on nukes (because immunity from “regime change” or other pressures might make them bolder in use of their proxies like, say, Hezbollah), Iranian nuclear weapons are not some sort of existential threat. I understand the Israelis being skittish, but they have a couple of hundred warheads (in direct violation of treaty, btw) themselves. Frankly, I’d be inclined to explicity state that Israel is under the US nuclear umbrella. That way, it’s clear that if the Iranians actually do something crazy (and, btw, I think the whole “oh they’re irrational so they can’t be trusted with nukes” is laughable. They’ve never acted irrationally. Meanwhile, have a look at our government…), we will respond. Yes, one would still have to worry about non-governmental actors getting their hands on nukes (aka the Pakistan nightmare). That’s true. It’s also, in the long run, unavoidable. If they want nukes bad enough (and our actions make nukes all the more desireable) they’re gonna get them.

    All of which is to say that it’s understandable to try and convince Iran to give up getting nukes (some carrot, some stick) but going to war over it would be totally insane. And yet, we have one party who is all “all options are on the table” (which I certainly hope is posturing) and another who keeps tip-toeing up to the line of promising war. And IRAN is the irrational actor?? Yes, yes, I know… it really isn’t a pleasant regime. Still.

  127. 127
    ericblair says:

    @Brachiator:

    I think that a president Romney would be the sort of dope that would fall for this feint. First, he’s a moron; second, he is so eager to try to hide his essential cowardice under a facade of strength that he would be eager for the opportunity to show how strong the US is.

    That’s what would worry me: Rmoney’d be pressured into doing something stupid just to show he’s not a pansy librul. Or the whole War Preznit thing, where to be Truly Great you have to send people to die.

    And yes, Iranians tend to have Brezhnev-level eyebrow density, but on the bright side, a lot of Iranian women are seriously hot.

  128. 128
    Rob in CT says:

    @Brachiator:

    No. To be fair, US ships really would be at risk. There was an excercise a few years back that proved this (and even w/o that, it’s really not hard to imagine how it could be done). We’re powerful. We’re not omnipotent.

    That said, there is no reason for US ships to be at risk because going to war with Iran to prevent it from getting nukes is insane.

  129. 129
    wrb says:

    @ericblair:

    I suspect that unplucked, Romney’s eyebrows are veritably Persian, which is reason to worry about whether he will be a rational actor.

  130. 130
    Brachiator says:

    @NonyNony:

    RE: Don’t really agree with this or think that you have much in the way to support it. There has been a perisistent “Israel has no right to exist” mantra that has been consistently pushed by other governments in the region.

    That doesn’t actually conflict with what I said that you blockquoted. Do you understand why they say that Israel has no right to exist?
    __
    The claim “Israel has no right to exist” is a claim that Israel is an illegitimate state – why might they think that Israel is an illegitimate state? If you think it’s because they’re just anti-Semitic and hate Jews, you should take a step back and think about whether that covers all the bases.

    I never said, here, or anywhere else that I think that Iran or any other Muslim nation simply is anti-Semitic and hates Jews.

    I think that some Muslim leaders believe in a kind of Islamic exceptionalism. They believe that Christians, Hindus, Jews and others can live in within their nations, but only if they defer to Islam. They believe that Israel is an illegitimate state because any non-Islamic state within the Muslim sphere would, by definition, be illegitimate.

    You see some of this even in the example of a somewhat secular nation like Pakistan. In India, a non-Hindu citizen can be leader of the country. By Pakistan’s constitution, only a Muslim can be leader of that nation.

    And I have Egyptian friends whose family were Coptic Christians, almost all of whom were persecuted by Egyptian authorities. You don’t have to be Jewish in the Middle East to be despised.

    Apart from this, I note in passing the lyrics of the satirist Tom Leher, National Brotherhood Week:

    Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics,
    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
    And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
    And everybody hates the Jews.

  131. 131
    NotMax says:

    Gads, what a steaming pile of unctuous crapola, blinkered, cherry-picked data and contradictory claptrap. Hardly a hairsbreadth of difference from the unquestioned allegiance to propaganda in the equally egregious slice of baloney from the Post.

    The studied ignorance of the regional actors, of the use of posturing in the slow ebb and flow of diplomacy and of history and events both recent and distant displayed could fill the Persian Gulf twice over.

    A first-year student would be raked over the coals for such half-baked, shoddy work.

  132. 132

    @Brachiator:

    I think that some Muslim leaders believe in a kind of Islamic exceptionalism. They believe that Christians, Hindus, Jews and others can live in within their nations, but only if they defer to Islam. They believe that Israel is an illegitimate state because any non-Islamic state within the Muslim sphere would, by definition, be illegitimate.

    The most aggressive, least tolerant ideology in the world is Neo Liberalism.

    Neo Liberalism asserts that it is a perfect economic system and because it is blessed by “scientific” economists, the West has divine right to impose it by force worldwide.

    The Western economic system is a far more aggressive ideology on the world stage than Islam.

    However, no one likes to acknowledge this reality.

  133. 133
    Thomas F says:

    @liberal: The Iraq War was horrific, and it will forever be a stain on Bush’s record. However, there is nothing inherent in that fact that prevents us from labeling the members of the Iranian theocracy for what they so evidently are.

  134. 134
    Brachiator says:

    @Rob in CT:

    No. To be fair, US ships really would be at risk. There was an excercise a few years back that proved this (and even w/o that, it’s really not hard to imagine how it could be done). We’re powerful. We’re not omnipotent.

    Never said that the US was omnipotent. The neo-con fantasy, “Increasingly accurate short-range missiles — combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats” is a guess pulled out of a miltary analysts ass. It presents a vivid picture meant to elicit a jingoistic response.

    Would the Iranians try it? Who knows, and who knows what provocation would have to happen before this. Would it work? Who knows. Would the US have no countermeasures? Unlikely.

    This kind of crap is much like the promise of shock and awe, another vivid picture that had no relation to the actual conflict.

  135. 135
    Matthew says:

    Oh noes. Armed patrol boats, combined with missiles that can reach American shores (provided that they are on a ship that rests 600 miles off those shores)? This is truly the greatest existential threat the United States has ever faced.

  136. 136
    wrb says:

    That’s what would worry me: Rmoney’d be pressured into doing something stupid just to show he’s not a pansy librul. Or the whole War Preznit thing, where to be Truly Great you have to send people to die.

    And today the Independent is reporting that Romney will try to recover from his gaffes by give a speech tomorrow threatening war with Iran.

    They phrase it like that.

  137. 137
    Catsy says:

    @burnspbesq:

    So you’re saying that Khamenei’s public statement are just posturing for domestic political purposes, and you’re willing to bet half a billion lives on the accuracy of that assessment?
    ____
    Sorry, I’m not.

    You really didn’t learn much from the Iraq War, did you?

  138. 138
    wrb says:

    @Brachiator:

    This kind of crap is much like the promise of shock and awe, another vivid picture that had no relation to the actual conflict.

    Isn’t it rather the opposite?

    Shock and awe was about how overwhelmingly powerful the US was, this about how vulnerable our Navy is?

    The error is in the US escalating (sending more ducks to sit?) in response to finding itself vulnerable.

  139. 139
    Brachiator says:

    @Carl Nyberg:

    The most aggressive, least tolerant ideology in the world is Neo Liberalism.

    No, that would probably be fundamentalism, of all types. Probably followed by sexism, which again knows no particular religious or political ideology.

  140. 140
    Pillsy says:

    @liberal:

    No, the US position really makes no sense at all. We have one, and only one, rational strategic interest in that part of the world: that oil continues to flow, and isn’t mostly under the control of one hegemon.

    I think you’re really underestimating the idea that the security of regional allies/client states is important, and even a modest increase in Iran’s power would cause some measure of problems for them. And that a lot of our strategy involving those client states is done for exactly the reasons you describe–keeping the oil flowing without being under the control of one hegemon. Of course, the actual allies we have complicate this immensely, but that’s the goal.

    Given that, and a map and the history of the region, the degree of our animosity towards Iran isn’t rational.

    It’s too bad there’s more than three decades of mutual distrust and hostility between Iran and the US, but there is.

    Yes, a rational strategy about nuclear proliferation would prefer that fewer nations get the bomb, but the Iranians have made pretty reasonable offers to us in the past (first Bush 43 term, e.g., IIRC), only to be rebuffed.

    It’s also too bad we can’t retroactively accept that offer, but if Bush hadn’t spent the better part of eight years fucking up every conceivable aspect of American Mideast policy, we’d be in much better shape in innumerable ways.

    The US has a lot of diplomatic, military and economic resources. Unfortunately, a time machine isn’t among them.

  141. 141
    We are Bigger Than You Think says:

    And who better to wage war against Iran than the 21st Century American GOP version of Marcus Licinius Crassus? What could possibly go wrong?

  142. 142
    Brachiator says:

    @wrb:

    RE: This kind of crap is much like the promise of shock and awe, another vivid picture that had no relation to the actual conflict.

    Isn’t it rather the opposite?
    __
    Shock and awe was about how overwhelmingly powerful the US was, this about how vulnerable our Navy is?

    Yeah, I see your point.

    But here, I was thinking of how the stupid, stupid idea of “shock and awe” was that we would overwhelm “the enemy,” and then expect the Iraqis to love us and let us guide them like lambs into a brighter future. It was a vivid picture that bore no relation to the reality of what happened.

    Yeah, I mixed notions of power and vulnerability, but I was thinking about how blind, incomplete and ridiculous the pronouncements of some military analysts can be.

  143. 143
    Pillsy says:

    @Brachiator:

    I think they’re heads of a coin: I remember very clearly in the run-up to the first Gulf War that there were all sorts of pronouncements about how the Iraqi army was this massive, formidable threat, and they had the elite Republican Guard and all the rest. A lot of the rhetoric justifying our involvement hinged on the idea that Saddan Hussein really was a threat,

    Also, if you’re a defense lobbyist trying to secure a few billion dollars to continue development of the M77 Attack Skateboard despite years of cost overruns, program delays and a growing suspicion that skateboarding into battle is not actually a good idea, it helps if there’s some scary enemy out there that justifies spending a lot of money on weapons without thinking too carefully about it.

  144. 144
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Catsy:

    Back then, he would have been writing:

    So you’re saying that Saddam Hussein’s hints that he has weapons of mass destruction are just posturing for regional and domestic political purposes, and you’re willing to bet half a billion lives on the accuracy of that assessment?

    Sorry, I’m not.

  145. 145
    muddy says:

    @Zifnab:

    the entire Iranian coast would be reduced to rubble.

    That coast basically *is* rubble naturally, it’s barren land aside from a couple port towns, until you get up near the delta by Abadan and Basra . Alexander went that way and had a hard time of it.
    @Tokyokie:

    And these weapons give Iran the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz and shut off all tanker traffic transiting the Persian Gulf.

    Then how do they get their own oil out? At this time they are exporting more crude and importing more processed fuels as they have a backlog of refining capability, this is being exasperated by the economic sanctions.
    @Maude:

    The government closed down the coffee shops. They must be nervous about people getting together and talking.

    When I first read about the coffee shops a lot of it was intended to break up mixed gender groups, at least that was the story.
    @NonyNony:

    And on the other hand, the mass of the Iranian population is deeply suspicious of the US.

    My experience is otherwise.
    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I guess the women must pluck and shape their brows.

    In modern times and middle/upper classes. You can see many Iranian women with the monobrow. Pre-Islamic artwork (where they can depict people) has a tradition of a sort of a seagull double arch meeting in the middle.

  146. 146
    Harry says:

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that most of you people were loyal Bush supporters eight years ago.

    The loyalties may change, but the poor reasoning skills remain.

  147. 147
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Harry: then you would be not just wrong, but disasterously, idiotically so.
    Most of us people are now, and have been for a very long time, unreconstructed liberals who despised GW Bush and the paleocons and the neocons.

  148. 148
    Harry says:

    Oh I’ve stopped by here in the past too, Mr Grunt-boy, and I remember quite well. This website was a standard issue Republican hoo-rah.

  149. 149
    Harry says:

    All the arm-chair generals out-“experting” each other based on a few years being a grunt and a bit of reading.

    All the angry regulars calling each other nasty names because they read some insult into someone else’s snark.

    And then ABL or eemom comes in a drops a huge stink bomb.

    You can change the team label, but you can’t erase the thoughtlessness.

  150. 150

    @Harry: Then obviously you missed the whole change of commenters and readership.
    Look, I know it’s surprising to you, but the people who read and comment here are not the same people who were in 2004.
    When John changed, the commentariat did as well.

    Your mother helps you bathe, doesn’t she?

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