The Opposition To The Iran Deal Is Intellectually and Morally Bankrupt

Reuel Marc Gerecht has an article titled “The Iran Deal Is Strategically and Morally Absurd” at the Atlantic website. It is a good example of the repetitive and tendentious tripe that the opponents consistently offer up.

I am not fond of the bloggy format of dissecting a piece of writing sentence by sentence by sentence, although Gerecht’s piece could easily provoke such a response. Each sentence presents a misrepresenation or other ugliness that it seems wrong to allow to pass. But I’d like to make my response more succinct.

Since the title begins with “The Iran Deal,” one might expect that that would be the subject of the article. But few words are expended on the substance of the deal compared to, for example vituperation against Barack Obama. The personalization of Gerecht’s argument is typical of criticism by opponents on Twitter and elsewhere.

So we have, in Gerecht’s words,

  • Barack Obama’s profound aversion to the use of American military power
  • A stronger president and secretary of state certainly would have been willing to walk away.
  • Obama was… a man deeply uncomfortable with American hegemony and the essential marriage of diplomacy and force.
  • Obama made it increasingly clear that he was unwilling to fight
  • With Iran, Obama certainly appeared to have a cause
  • Obama’s paralyzing fear of war
  • Obama was… giving the homage that hypocrisy pays to virtue.
  • Obama’s “wishful thinking” about the region
  • Obama provided the agreement that Ali Akbar Salehi was searching for.

That’s representative of the content of the first six paragraphs. There are a few more whacks at Obama, along with Ben Rhodes and John Kerry, further down in the article. All is asserted with no support.

The first indication in the article of the content of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, nowhere fully spelled out) comes in paragraph 3:

the strategic and moral absurdity of paying, via sanctions relief, for Iranian imperialism in the Middle East so we can have a short surcease to the mullahs’ quest for the bomb

This is larded with judgments – “strategic and moral absurdity,” “Iranian imperialism,” “short surcease,” and the assumption that “the mullahs” are driving toward a bomb. The fact goes unnoticed that the purpose of sanctions was to bring the Iranian government to the negotiating table and thus removing those sanctions was likely to be part of those negotiations.

Then come four paragraphs with more invective against Obama, speculations on the motivations of various Iranian factions, and Gerecht’s conclusions as to likely futures in the Middle East.

Gerecht then plays dumb about why missiles were not a part of the agreement, something which was addressed many times by the Obama administration: In order to reach an agreement, that agreement had to be circumscribed. If Iran has no nuclear weapons, it cannot put one on a missile. Another point emphasized during and after the negotiations was that the JCPOA was intended to be the first of a series of agreements. That intention is being sabotaged by the neverending attempts of the opponents to undermine the deal.

More speculation and invective follow, again with little to no evidence. The next few paragraphs implicitly outline a familiar theme of the opponents: All of Iran’s military bases must be open for inspection at all times, lest they hide some component of their nuclear program. No country will agree to such inspections. This concern also ignores the power of overhead satellite photos to detect unusual activity. Gerecht mocks the agreement as applying to the part of Iran’s efforts less likely to be seen (nuclear weapon research) but not on the more-likely-to-be seen missiles. But that makes sense: open up the closed, and monitor the more open.

Gerecht then shifts to “post-JCPOA” and criticism of the Trump administration. He finds Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis as feckless as Obama and his people. But now the team of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo has arrived to frighten Tehran.

However, Gerecht recognizes the possibility that Trump may pull out of the JCPOA and do nothing afterward. Gerecht presents what he believes to be the way forward: “Contain, roll back, and squeeze.”

Gerecht mentions military power throughout. Again, his words:

  • It was surely Barack Obama’s profound aversion to the use of American military power that so enfeebled his nuclear diplomacy
  • the essential marriage of diplomacy and force
  • Obama made it increasingly clear that he was unwilling to fight
  • avoiding a fight
  • Obama’s paralyzing fear of war
  • The suggestion that going to war with the clerical regime is too high a price to pay to stop the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons… is downright odd.
  • [As a desired quote from the Obama administration] This administration is unwilling to use military force to stop the mullahs’ quest for the bomb. We are unwilling to contain Iranian aggression in the Middle East. This is the best that we can do under those circumstances.
  • Contain, roll back, and squeeze.
  • As long as Trump is willing to use military force against the regime’s nuclear sites, and we don’t know whether he is, then time is on our side, not theirs.
  • Let us try to crack the regime.

And, of course, the masculine virtues accrue to such warlike intentions, as opposed to the weaker (= feminine) diplomacy of Barack Obama, very personalized:

  • It was surely Barack Obama’s profound aversion to the use of American military power that so enfeebled his nuclear diplomacy
  • I do not know whether a more forceful president and secretary of state… could have gotten a “good deal” with Tehran
  • A stronger president and secretary of state certainly would have been willing to walk away.
  • more astute, less fearful men would have been more patient, and more willing to let sanctions bite deeper into the economy and political culture of the Islamic Republic.
  • Obama made it increasingly clear that he was unwilling to fight over the clerical regime’s nuclear-weapons ambitions.
  • The many debilitating weaknesses of the JCPOA
  • Obama’s “wishful thinking” about the region
  • his [Trump’s] rhetoric is commendably harsh.
  • It is always good to see a Revolutionary Guard Corps website announce about Bolton that “Trump’s Raging Bull has arrived.”
  • American resolve always convulses and paralyzes the clerical regime.
  • Contain, roll back, and squeeze.
  • most Democrats and some Republicans went soft by the end of the Cold War.

The three bulleted lists overlap in a marriage of invective, warmongering, and gendering. The whole piece is rhetoric, not argument, as is all too common from those opposing the JCPOA.

 

Daniel Larison has another take on the opponents’ dishonesty.

 

Update: Gerecht assured us in 2002 that a war against Iraq would not destabilize the Middle East.

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

 






147 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I scanned the headlines on my feed for The Atlantic “debate“ on the Iran deal, and it seemed to be 3-1 against the deal. But admittedly I didn’t count, so I may have missed the pro-deal articles.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    debbie says:

    War is the failure of all things civilized. These people who think otherwise are monsters. These people who pin blame on Obama for even the sun rising every morning are even worse.

  4. 4
    Arclite says:

    It’s almost as if Gerecht has some kind of inherent bias. I wonder what it could be…

    In other news, happy cat is happy.

  5. 5
    Arclite says:

    @debbie:

    War is the failure of all things civilized. These people who think otherwise are monsters. These people who pin blame on Obama for even the sun rising every morning are even worse.

    “But, but, but, what about Neville Chamberlain???!!1”

  6. 6
    dmbeaster says:

    Our country is infected with warmongers, who have never met a war they did not like. I guess if diplomacy is always wimpy, then its only war.

  7. 7
    debbie says:

    @Arclite:

    Chamberlain just wasn’t very good at it. There’s many things between war and capitulation. He didn’t see that.

  8. 8
    oatler. says:

    War is good, poputchik.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    And, of course, the masculine virtues accrue to such warlike intentions, as opposed to the weaker (= feminine) diplomacy of Barack Obama, very personalized …

    This. There’s a very common attitude that agreements are bad and weak if they come from “feminine” processes like negotiation and diplomacy rather than “masculine” ones like physical force and war.

  10. 10
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @dmbeaster:

    Our country is infected with warmongers, who have never met a war they did not like.

    Unfortunately, I have to agree that it certainly appears this way to people living outside the US. Why the hell else would you have a military force that costs you more than what the rest of the world spends. Besides fear.

  11. 11
    Chip Daniels says:

    Did he manage to work in “precious bodily fluids” in there somewhere?

  12. 12
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I assume this “gendering” comes from the assumption that strength is associated with men and physical violence. I find it incredibly stupid and unnecessary.

  13. 13
    JMG says:

    Mr. Gehrecht nor any others objecting to the deal will ever be maimed by an IED on some godforsaken road in Iran because of the war they want. Perhaps if they get it, they should be mandatorily parachuted into Iran in the first wave.

  14. 14
    Mnemosyne says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    It also assumes that physical strength is the only kind of strength worthy of consideration.

    ETA: And it glorifies bullying — in their eyes, if you can physically force someone to do your bidding, you are automatically Right and Good.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Pro-torture neo-con says what?

  16. 16
  17. 17
    B.B.A. says:

    Let’s cut to the chase: 90% of the opposition to the Iran deal is because it’s “bad for Israel.” Which to me would be the #1 reason to support the Iran deal if it were the case, but then I’m just another renegade Jew.

  18. 18

    @dmbeaster: and @Mnemosyne:
    As I commented on the last thread about this, bullying is fundamental to the entire conservative mindset. Threats and actual violence are the only conflict resolution that makes any sense to them. It is inescapably obvious to them that peaceful, negotiated diplomacy cannot possibly stop The Enemy. This combines interestingly with it also being a deeply chickenshit movement, where they run away if they face real resistance.

    EDIT – @B.B.A.:
    I’d say it’s only 30%. Most of the resistance is because it’s not mean enough. A big chunk of conservative support of Israel is only because it’s a proxy war against Evil Arabs. The rest is Armageddon fetishists.

  19. 19
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    Gehrecht appears to be almost explicitly stating that he would prefer starting a war in order to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions rather than entering into an agreement to do so.

  20. 20
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @JMG: Nor will they suffer the brunt of the crisis: refugees, destabilization of the remaining nations thereby,terrorism and the possibility of it spreading even beyond the Middle East.
    I suspect these people are the ideological and maybe even literal heirs of the China lobby, who agitated for years for a war against another massive foe in retaliation for “losing” China. So who “lost” Iran, and why should millions of American lives and over a trillion dollars of American money be spent taking back something that was never ours in the first place?

  21. 21
    Mary G says:

    I’ve only read the first two paragraphs, but I had to stop and say how much I love Balloon Juice, one reason being that a poster can use words like “tendentious” and “vituperation” and other vocabulary I love. And if that makes me an elitist snob, I will fly the flag proudly.

  22. 22
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Mary G, most of us went to school and are proud of it. If a reader around here complained about such long words, we would say “stuff it” and go look it up. We refuse to dumb ourselves down from grown-up word and ideas. Perhaps that’s what keeps the trolls away-actually having to think at a level above 4th grade,

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half:

    Gehrecht appears to be almost explicitly stating that he would prefer starting a war in order to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions rather than entering into an agreement to do so.

    See Frankensteinbeck’s comment just above yours, because I think he hits the nail on the head. People like this think that physical violence is the only way to truly solve problems, and any kind of negotiation or diplomacy only postpones the day when you have to start shooting the other side, so why not cut to the chase?

  24. 24
    hellslittlestangel says:

    That The Atlantic doesn’t have a comments section indicates to me that they know that much of what they publish is horseshit.

  25. 25

    @CarolDuhart2:

    So who “lost” Iran…

    Jimmy Carter.

  26. 26
    Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et Al.) says:

    I’m guessing he had nothing to say about Donald Tяump doing some building deal in Azerbaijan with somebody tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:

    @dmbeaster:
    It’s easy to think that war is the end all be all of a country if you’ve never had to be at risk of dying in one. How many wars with a foreign power has the US been in, on it’s own land? Two? And attacked by a country what, once? How many wars have we been in? Yeah that number is not close to the same.
    And military service is not necessarily the same as reasonable thought about warfare and not having a nuclear war. We have examples working in the current WH.

  28. 28
    lollipopguild says:

    @CarolDuhart2: What do you have against 4th graders? (I am kidding)

  29. 29
    SFBayAreaGal says:

    Every one that wants to go to war with Iran, draft their asses and their age draft kids. Let’s see who wimps out.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Ruckus says:

    @JMG:
    They should all be booted out of a plane without chutes over Iran if they call for or start a war. We should have a law that you can’t advocate for war if you aren’t willing to physically fight in it, no matter your age, gender or medical condition. Although I do wonder what level and degree of crap someone like drumpf would have literally thrown at them in boot camp. And how many hours after the company was formed that it would start. I’m betting not long at all, and quite a bit.

  32. 32
    Sab says:

    @NorthLeft12: For the mostpart these warmongers have never actually met a war up close. That’s other people’s jobb.

  33. 33
    mainmata says:

    The vast majority of Republican pundits mainly use ad hominem insults, ideological posturing and a complete disregard for factual analysis no matter what the topic is. Gerecht is notoriously grotesque in his rants but we’re talking about degrees not any essential differences with other GOP pundits.

  34. 34
    efgoldman says:

    @dmbeaster:

    Our country is infected with warmongers, who have never met a war they did not like.

    And who themselves (or their issue) won’t go within thousands of miles of danger. At least Grandpa Walnuts put his money, and his body, where his mouth was, unlike Soundstage Sanctus Ronaldus and his satraps, including the current crop of RWNJs.

  35. 35
    Ruckus says:

    @hellslittlestangel:
    It might also be that a lot/most comment sections are worse horseshit than the articles themselves. Of course if a lot/all of the articles didn’t have that level of horseshit in them maybe the comments wouldn’t either.

  36. 36
    efgoldman says:

    @JMG:

    Mr. Gehrecht nor any others objecting to the deal will ever be maimed by an IED

    If we start dropping ordnance on Iran, what make you think the Iranians will forebear any of several forms of asymmetrical warfare?

  37. 37
    Waratah says:

    When Obama was elected I think that the voters were tired of the war. One that was started by an attack of our country. I know I was happy with the Iran agreement. I do not think most ordinary citizens will read the tripe this man writes. I think they need to be very careful of starting a war.

  38. 38
    Fair Economist says:

    @debbie: It’s very possible Chamberlain thought it was a bad time to fight. British military leaders mostly thought they weren’t ready to fight Germany. They were almost certainly wrong, in the sense that the war would have gone better starting in 1938, but that is what they thought.

  39. 39
    Ruckus says:

    @Waratah:
    Those wars were not started because either of those countries attacked us. They were started by insane assholes like the author that Cheryl writes about. Their purpose wasn’t revenge or from strategic planning against an actual threat, they were wars for wars sake.

  40. 40
    Mandalay says:

    @hellslittlestangel:

    That The Atlantic doesn’t have a comments section indicates to me that they know that much of what they publish is horseshit.

    It’s something of a mini-trend these days, and the Atlantic will selectively publish comments from readers in the columns. At least James Fallows does.

    But there is no good solution. BoingBoing manually monitor their comments and get pilloried for that. And given the absence of dross in the NYT comments, I suspect they do the same. But sites that do no policing get flooded with posts saying “Earn $95 per hour working from home…” and “Fag HUSSEIN Obama Nazi Commie fuck in AZZ!!!”.

    Blocking all comments sucks.

    Policing the comments sucks.

    Allowing all comments sucks.

    In the long term I suspect automated policing of comments will become the norm, but it doesn’t work that well right now.

  41. 41
    Suzanne says:

    @Mary G:

    And if that makes me an elitist snob, I will fly the flag proudly.

    Hell yes. Lean in.

  42. 42
    Lulymay says:

    @NorthLeft12: Ever notice that these same war mongers are the very same ones who “develop” hundreds of reasons why they cannot participate physically in this war that send all our young folk out as cannon fodder?

  43. 43
    Brachiator says:

    However, Gerecht recognizes the possibility that Trump may pull out of the JCPOA and do nothing afterward. Gerecht presents what he believes to be the way forward: “Contain, roll back, and squeeze.”

    This sounds like some weird, uncomfortable sexual position.

    Great demolition of opposition to the Iran deal.

    Of course, part of the attack on Obama was that he was weak because he was black. He was weak because he was “one of them,” a Muslim, and could not be trusted to go to war for America, or for Israel.

    There is also the resurgence of the old slavery era fantasy that non-whites cannot look a strong white man in the eye, and that Iran can be made to submit to the US because that is the natural order of things.

  44. 44
    Waratah says:

    @Ruckus: I agree, but because of 9-11 Americans did not rise up against it. Because we saw that horror we watched on TV.

  45. 45
    Suzanne says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    Why the hell else would you have a military force that costs you more than what the rest of the world spends. Besides fear.

    Because we don’t pay for young people to go to college, and we have to figure out what to do with them.

  46. 46
    James Powell says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    I thought it was Shah Reza Pahlavi

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    There is also the resurgence of the old slavery era fantasy that non-whites cannot look a strong white man in the eye, and that Iran can be made to submit to the US because that is the natural order of things.

    Yep. They think that the Iranians would not strike back with asymmetric warfare because they will recognize the natural superiority of Americans (Israelis) and submit to our will.

    The whole “submission” thing is another thing that marks it as a gendered discourse — men are “naturally” dominant, women are “naturally” submissive, so any response that does not require physical force is inherently “feminine,” with all of the misogynistic stereotypes that brings.

  48. 48

    @James Powell: No, no, no; it’s because Jimmy Carter didn’t back the Shah strong enough. At least that’s what Republicans tell me.

  49. 49
    encephalopath says:

    All this talk about military responses to Iran which, of course, wouldn’t be justified in any legal sense. But that do they think Iran is going to do, sit there an take it? Do they really think Iran wouldn’t also respond with force? That whatever platform the US uses to launch this attack on Iran wouldn’t be immediately hit right back?

    I don’t get it. Why is it they think this application of military force only goes one way?

  50. 50

    @Brachiator: Yes, racism is definitely part of the desire to destroy everything Obama did.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @encephalopath:

    Why is it they think this application of military force only goes one way?

    See Brachiator’s comment above. It’s white supremacist bullshit that, IF it ever worked, stopped working around the time that “third world countries” got their own missiles and air forces.

  52. 52
    Suzanne says:

    @encephalopath:

    I don’t get it. Why is it they think this application of military force only goes one way?

    Because fantasy is powerful.

  53. 53
    efgoldman says:

    @encephalopath:

    Why is it they think this application of military force only goes one way?

    Like everything else the mouth breathing flying monkeys think are told, they are unmoored from reality.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    The Iraqi armed forces didn’t have much interest in keeping Saddam Hussein in power and collapsed easily when the US showed up. Anyone who thinks that the Iranians are equally likely to turn on their leaders needs to be taken to the psychiatric ER for a 72-hour hold, because their delusions are dangerous to everyone around them.

  55. 55
    J R in WV says:

    @Brachiator:

    “the old slavery era fantasy that non-whites cannot look a strong white man in the eye,” which was true because if a non-white looked a winte man in the eye he would be at least beaten to a pulp, if not lynched or tortured to death.

    I’m thinking that if Trump starts a war we will lose a carrier battle group immediately, and that will compel Trump to use nuclear weapons. I would hope that the rest of the world would force us to stop that aggression immediately, but who knows?

    Perhaps the immediate push of gasoline prices to $12/gallon when Trump withdraws from the current agreement with regard to Iran would stop Trump’s war mongering? Because the first thing Iran could do to retaliate against Trump would be to close the Persian Gulf to all traffic. We don’t get that much of our crude from the Persian Gulf, but the world does!

    One can hope… Foreign Affairs and Trump combine to make me feel ill.

  56. 56
    gene108 says:

    1. Iran must pay for the humiliation of the 1979 hostage crisis.
    2. Obama must never be given credit for anything positive.

    Basic summary of opposition to the Iran deal.

  57. 57
    silas1898 says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Eisenhower. The day he approved the CIA coup that installed the Shah in 1953.

  58. 58
    encephalopath says:

    See also Millennium Challenge 2002

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002

  59. 59
    oatler. says:

    @gene108: needs more middle eastern tits.

  60. 60

    @Mnemosyne: Iraq’s been around for 100 years, Iran(Persia) has been around for 3000 years.

  61. 61
    Denali says:

    The Iraq War was supported out of a desire for revenge for 9/11. Didn’t matter that we attacked an innocent party.

  62. 62

    @Mnemosyne: Countries like China, India and Iraq have long lived and rich civilizations, they became the so called third world thanks to the machinations of western powers in the last couple of centuries. They are just reasserting themselves after the colonial era. Their histories didn’t begin with the first encounter with the West.

  63. 63
    bill arnold says:

    I could write (and others could do it much better) a piece in style similar to Reuel Marc Gerecht’s, 90 percent rhetoric/unsupported assertions, with a few mostly-irrelevant factoids and actual arguments stirred in like raisins to make it go down easier if one is gullible. He would see red, and fume. Very probably without any self-awareness. (Daniel Larison deserves more praise IMO.)
    Why was the Atlantic piece even published? It was shoddy propaganda (though he probably believes every word of it), and publishing it makes the Atlantic complicit in any subsequent nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and the resulting increases in unnecessary risk of a nuclear exchange damaging or destroying human civilization. (I don’t forgive Bret Stephens (“The Iran Deal Is a Lie”, 1 May 2018) either.)

    Thanks Cheryl for your pieces on this. They are rejuvenating.

  64. 64
    GregB says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I also think Trump will blab his big fucking mouth to Putin who will proceed to give everything to the Iranians who will then plan accordingly.

    Be prepared for a catatastophe of epic proportions.

  65. 65
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Yes, racism is definitely part of the desire to destroy everything Obama did.

    It is central to Trump’s mindset. His fear and raw race hatred of Obama is behind almost all his choices. He is like one of the pharohs who wanted to obliterate every single thing that represented the memory of his predecessor. Trump also reminds me of the post Reconstruction South, when every elected black official was thrown out of office, and Black Codes were instituted to ensure the continuation of white supremacy. Poor and lower class whites were crushed as well, but we’re successfully sold the idea that being a member of the club of whiteness would offset their loss of any real power.

  66. 66
    Yarrow says:

    The CNN chyron says that WaPo has a story saying Gina Haspel sought to withdrawn CIA nomination. Is that new? I’ve been so busy this week if it happened earlier I missed it.

  67. 67
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    @encephalopath: I posted that yesterday and Adam responded, here’s the link

  68. 68

    The Atlantic has decided that it wants to be thought leader for the T era of might is right. They are trying to give it an intellectual veneer.

  69. 69
    J R in WV says:

    @Denali:

    The Iraq War was supported out of a desire for revenge for 9/11. Didn’t matter that we attacked an innocent party.

    Very true. I was amazed that so few people pointed out that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, and in fact hated bin Laden more than we did prior to 9/11.

    Saddam was not religious, was secular, and under his rule women had far more opportunity than in most Islamic states. Unless they came to the attention of Saddam or his family, of course.

    I don’t understand this continuing hatred for Iran at all. The people who led the revolution and took diplomats hostage are no longer in power, most have died of old age! I guess it’s learned hatred on the part of bully Republlicans.

  70. 70
    efgoldman says:

    @Yarrow:

    WaPo has a story saying Gina Haspel sought to withdrawn CIA nomination

    What do they have on her other than torture, about which McTurttle and his caucus give less than zero shits

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    @J R in WV:

    “the old slavery era fantasy that non-whites cannot look a strong white man in the eye,” which was true because if a non-white looked a winte man in the eye he would be at least beaten to a pulp, if not lynched or tortured to death.

    Stupid white racists could not admit that it was purely the application of power that sustained them and invented the myth of inherent white male power. You can read Southern sports reporters writing in the 1950s and 1960s how Alabama football had to be segregated because black players could not face or compete against the flower of white Southern manhood.

    Similarly, Trump was not only a birther, but also floated the idea that Obama’s academic record had been falsified because it was not possible that a black man could be Harvard scholar.

    And obviously, Obama could never measure up to Trump.

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @Waratah:
    Lots of people rose up against the war. But the fucking insane assholes who think that war is everything were only looking for an excuse to start one. Never forget that they had the intel about terrorists flying planes into buildings and waved it off as if it wasn’t important. Don’t forget that all planes were grounded on 9/11, I know I was on one that morning, flying from the east to LA, and we were flying less than about 150 miles from the plane that crashed in PA. The only planes that were allowed to fly after the grounding were military planes and one plane taking people back to Saudi Arabia, the country that most of the terrorists were from.
    This isn’t rocket surgery, the war mongers were in charge and wanted war to prove that the US is the baddest bully on the block. They hated President Obama for a lot of reasons but a major one was that he wasn’t/isn’t a bully. Like they are.

  73. 73
    RepubAnon says:

    @Arclite: I read an article stating that Neville Chamberlain was wrongly blamed for appeasement – because Britain’s military hadn’t recovered from WW1. Britain didn’t have the resources to fight both Japan and Germany at the same time, so Mr. Chamberlain was trying to buy time while Britain re-armed. The “peace in our time” statement contradicts this, but may have been needed to reassure a public still recovering from the horrors of WW1.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    That’s brutal.
    But the truth usually is.

  75. 75

    @Ruckus: I have noticed an upsurge of bloggers and academics who are self described progressives crapping on Ds and the President this week. Rs are bad but Ds are worse according to these people.

  76. 76
    mozzerb says:

    @gene108: Basically, yes. See also: Cuba.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yep. They think that the Iranians would not strike back with asymmetric warfare because they will recognize the natural superiority of Americans (Israelis) and submit to our will.

    I could be wrong, but I think that Adam has noted that there are not any US military officials blubbering about how easy it would be to take Iran out.

    But it is disconcerting to see how easily the neoconservatives have slipped into the Trump administration and started up their old bullshit.

    And everyone has forgotten that Trump originally said that the Iraq war was a mistake.

  78. 78

    Speaking of colonialism. It was not just a brutal subjugation accompanied by genocide and mass starvation it was also a mind fuck. The current government in India has made its prime agenda trying to rewrite the people who fought for India’s freedom out of history and have swallowed the colonial narrative hook line and sinker. If there is anyone I detest more than T enablers and supporters, its the enablers and supporters of the current Indian Prime Minister.

  79. 79
    rmirth says:

    1. Iran must pay for the humiliation of the 1979 hostage crisis.
    2. Obama must never be given credit for anything positive.

    Basic summary of opposition to the Iran deal.

    3. Saudi Arabia and Israel HATE Iran and spend gazillion dollars in think tanks and media planting anti-Iran sentiment.

  80. 80
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: There’s not enough psychoanalysis in political discourse, I think. It is a mental framework that I find more illuminating and predictive of human behavior than some of the other ways we look at things.

  81. 81
    sukabi says:

    Just a guess, this “thought leader”, like the other war hawks, has NEVER served in the military, and the thought of actually serving the country has never crossed his mind.

  82. 82
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    These old white fuckers haven’t got the slightest clue that the world changes every day and has changed dramatically in their lifetimes. They are stuck at the physical age of 14, with their mental growth stopped at 7. Their world is cap guns, cowboys and indians. They want to be serious, so they talk of war but they can’t think through any equation more complex than 2+2, especially if it’s a word problem.

  83. 83
    efgoldman says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Rs are bad but Ds are worse according to these people.

    If I knew how I’d make a macro I could just plug in.
    They are not Dems.
    They do not do politics
    They do not vote
    They are not persuadable
    They make a lot of on line noise, which belies they’re minority status and power. Your reaction is exactly what they are trying for.

    Fuckem

  84. 84
    smintheus says:

    In the early ’90s a friend who had known, or knew of, Gerecht back in the ’80s when he was working for the CIA told me me a MeToo story about him. There was an attractive foreign postgrad studying at a US university who needed to renew her student visa to return for the fall semester. If memory serves, she was Turkish. Renewal for foreign postgrads was practically automatic in those days. Gerecht knew she needed the renewal and inserted himself into the process for no particular reason. Well, except that he wanted to convince her to go out with him. When she turned down his advances, Gerecht made sure that her visa renewal was denied.

    That man is rotten to the core.

  85. 85

    @efgoldman: They were a fair number of commenters yesterday on Cheryl’s thread who were arguing that Obama’s handling of the financial crisis gave Rs their 2010 majorities.

    Day before JGC posted a paper on the FP with BS bro economic arguments dressed in academic jargon calling it the best thing you will read this year.

    Do you include them among non Ds too?

  86. 86
    Redshift says:

    @B.B.A.:

    Let’s cut to the chase: 90% of the opposition to the Iran deal is because it’s “bad for Israel.”

    And even that is a lie (which I presume is the reason for the scare quotes.) It’s only “bad” for the Israeli right wing, the same people wingnuts call themselves “pro-Israel” for supporting. Netanyahu had been making the same dishonest arguments against it as our wingnuts, while Israeli intelligence types have mostly been saying the opposite.

  87. 87
    Ruckus says:

    @bill arnold:
    Propaganda has to be believed to be effective at all because there is little to no actual truth in it. IOW If one wants to tell the truth you don’t need propaganda.
    This war/muslim/middle east bullshit has been very successful propaganda, very little truth and it’s been believed by millions.

  88. 88
    RepubAnon says:

    @J R in WV: The right wingnuts know that Iran is still a sore point for many folks in the USA. They remember how the hostage crisis cost Jimmy Carter the election, and think that winning a war with Iran would show how they’re strong and Democrats are weak.

    Slight problem: we could well lose such a war. Iraq had no allies – Iran would have Russia and China behind them. Iran is also much larger than Iraq, and controls the Straits of Hormuz – a choke point for the tankers carrying oil to much of the world. Plus, we no longer have the resources that we had when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve lost many allies and much good will, and borrowed billions of dollars since then – not to mention new tax cuts.

    Besides, the Navy would be fighting a “brown water” war, where their ships are easy to locate and target. Meanwhile, Russia and China (and possibly North Korea) would see any such war as a window to start their own invasions for fun and profit. Like Britain in the 1930s, the US no longer has the ability to fight a 2-front war… we’d likely lose such a war.

    Of course, when we’re defeated, Trump will claim that we were fatally “stabbed in the back” by the deep state, Obama, Hillary, Jimmy Carter…

  89. 89
    Jay says:

    @J R in WV:

    “Perhaps the immediate push of gasoline prices to $12/gallon when Trump withdraws from the current agreement with regard to Iran would stop Trump’s war mongering? Because the first thing Iran could do to retaliate against Trump would be to close the Persian Gulf to all traffic. We don’t get that much of our crude from the Persian Gulf, but the world does!”

    If Treason Tribble pulls the US out of the JCPOA, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the Germany remain.

  90. 90

    @Yarrow: The Gina Haspel story came out today. Here’s the Washington Post.

  91. 91

    @RepubAnon: I had a Parsi friend who was called Hormuz! We lost touch, wonder what he is up to now.

  92. 92
    Van Buren says:

    @Mary G: They’re perfectly cromulent words.

  93. 93
    efgoldman says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Do you include them among non Ds too?

    Do they meet the criteria I outlined? Then no.
    Bloviating on a blog isn’t a sign of anything except time on the hands and typing.

    ETA: Oops I double negatived. I think I meant yes

  94. 94
    Redshift says:

    @Brachiator:

    And everyone has forgotten that Trump originally said that the Iraq war was a mistake.

    Er, he didn’t; that’s another one of his self-aggrandizing lies. He only said it was a mistake after thing we’re obviously going south.

  95. 95

    @efgoldman: We have seen this movie before in 2016. Right now all our focus should be on defeating Rs in the mid terms. We can have debates on the best economic policy after we win.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    They were a fair number of commenters yesterday on Cheryl’s thread who were arguing that Obama’s handling of the financial crisis gave Rs their 2010 majorities.

    Were these people arguing that the Democrats would have retained their majority if Obama had only been more radical and had jailed the bankers?

  97. 97
    Ruckus says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:
    I think that Adam’s response to you really wasn’t strong enough. Last line was about putting one’s hand in a wood chipper and pulling out a stump. I think that it would be like putting one’s hand in and having the rest pulled in and there being nothing left but small bloody bits. Human chips as it were.
    Some people wonder about what all that money we spend is for. It isn’t to keep a fighting force that can be big enough to be effective against the rest of the world, it pays for extremely expensive military projects (F35, ships of the future) but not as much for personal and the amount of what we our missions around the world cost in this day and age. It’s bloody expensive being the world’s police and far more to be the arbitrators of what the rest of the world is up to.

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:

    @Redshift:

    Er, he didn’t; that’s another one of his self-aggrandizing lies. He only said it was a mistake after thing we’re obviously going south.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that Trump had opposed the war from the very beginning, only that it became part of his primary campaign bullshit.

    Also, Trump never gave any sense that he understood a damn thing about foreign policy.

  99. 99
    Jay says:

    @Brachiator:

    Nope, we were arguing that President Obama was elected with a mandate and had a brief window in which he could have acted more like Roosevelt and less like Clinton.

  100. 100

    @Brachiator: Yes.
    If Obama did it == incremental

  101. 101
    smintheus says:

    @Ruckus:

    Propaganda has to be believed to be effective at all…

    The truth about how propaganda functions is actually somewhat counter-intuitive. It doesn’t have to be believed or even be particularly believable. Propaganda can and typically does work primarily by stirring up lots of mud to the point that its intended audience gets tired of resisting the assault on their consciousness, shuts down some of their critical faculties as a result, and in doing so either accepts some of the propagandists’ “facts” and/or their framing of the argument, or at worst accepts that there is some sort of room for dispute. In other words, propagandists know that at first people’s BS detectors are likely to shoot down anything a propagandist says, so they overwhelm their BS detectors.

    Propagandists assume that people will still recognize that some or much of what they’re being fed is false, so they often include obvious lies to nourish the audience’s desire to think that it is still successfully separating the lies from the things that might possibly be true.

    Propaganda works primarily by repetition, and secondarily by appeals to authority (often faux-authorities) who are brought in to bolster the repetition and give the audience an excuse to just stop resisting quite so persistently the blizzard of BS they’re being subjected to.

  102. 102
    Redshift says:

    @Mandalay:

    BoingBoing manually monitor their comments and get pilloried for that. And given the absence of dross in the NYT comments, I suspect they do the same.

    Hmm, they do a good job of keeping out spam, but there are plenty of trolls in Krugman’s comment section. But yeah, the fact that comments for appear immediately (and they tell you that) suggests manual review; if it was entirely automated, they could post immediately.

  103. 103
    B.B.A. says:

    @Jay: Roosevelt had to rely on segregationists to stay in power, you realize that, right?

  104. 104
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    I think you are correct but I would add that I don’t see how that could be accomplished within the last 20 yrs of our history.
    The conservatives have sold a story that might makes right, and disproven it time and time again and still we are back in the same place all over again. Well back in the same place but with much stronger enemies and us far weaker because of our forceful stupidity and asinine financial policy.

  105. 105
    Redshift says:

    @Brachiator: Sure. It’s interesting to read that Snopes article, and realize that his “I could have done it better” BS on foreign policy goes way further back than when he “officially” got involved in politics.

  106. 106
    Ruckus says:

    @sukabi:
    NOOOOO…….
    He is serving his country, by forcefully pointing out that we need to send other people to die for us. That is one patriotic sense of duty that one is.

    The preceding was unfunny comic relief, just in case you mistook it for anything else.

  107. 107
    Jay says:

    @B.B.A.:

    You realize the US was full of segregationists at the time, right?

  108. 108
    Brachiator says:

    @Jay:

    Nope, we were arguing that President Obama was elected with a mandate and had a brief window in which he could have acted more like Roosevelt and less like Clinton.

    Which Clinton would that be?

    So, I guess you were disappointed with Obama from the beginning. Sorry that you didn’t get your cookie.

  109. 109
    B.B.A. says:

    @Jay: (a) It still is. (b) My point is even the beloved St. Roosevelt had to compromise to get some of what he wanted.

  110. 110
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Yes.
    If Obama did it == incremental

    OK. Not much point in arguing about what Obama should have done. What do these folk want going forward?

    And what will they do if they don’t get what they want?

  111. 111
    Ruckus says:

    @smintheus:
    Yes.
    I was simplifying quite a bit. But yes repetition is vital to making it work, think Fox. It’s conservative bullshit wrapped up in “news,” but even then a lot of the time it is slanted. But it’s on most of the time and gets shown in many public places that the shear repetition works.

  112. 112
    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. I just saw the TV for a minute and wondered what was going on.

  113. 113

    @Brachiator: No incrementalism. Other than that they are short on the specifics. Something something democratic socialism.

  114. 114
    Brachiator says:

    @smintheus:

    Propaganda works primarily by repetition, and secondarily by appeals to authority (often faux-authorities) who are brought in to bolster the repetition and give the audience an excuse to just stop resisting quite so persistently the blizzard of BS they’re being subjected to.

    Propaganda largely gives people what they want, in simplified nuggets. Those people who don’t want it are separated from the group and dealt with.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay:

    Yes, which is why FDR was able to imprison US citizens based on their race with very little outcry at the time.

    But the point is that FDR was able to keep his coalition together by promising that the lion’s share of the New Deal would go to white people and that he would not sign a federal anti-lynching law. Obama did not have that leverage over his coalition. The Democrats only had a filibuater-proof majority in the Senate for a few months because of Franken’s contested election.

  116. 116
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    No incrementalism. Other than that they are short on the specifics. Something something democratic socialism.

    Okay. Not much to be done with this kind of thing.

  117. 117
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    trying to rewrite the people who fought for India’s freedom out of history and have swallowed the colonial narrative hook line and sinker.

    seriously? that’s abominable, despicable, whitewashing of the terror of the India Company and the British Raj, while demeaning their own culture!!! I knew they were strange…

    I had no idea…

    How do they reconcile their right-wingism about Hinduism and the strange reverso image of the heroes who fought the British? Seems quite a contradiction to me.

  118. 118
    Jay says:

    @Brachiator:

    Only one Clinton has been elected President.

    Should be fun in 2020 when the Democratic House, Senate and Presidency shut down Russiagate and let bygones be bygones so that bipartizanship can return to the House and Senate.

  119. 119
    Wild Cat says:

    @JMG: Along with Jeffrey Goldberg and his family.

  120. 120
    El Caganer says:

    Contain- Roll back- Squeeze! It’s the Neocon Workout that’s sweeping across America’s fitness centers!

  121. 121
    J R in WV says:

    @Redshift:
    \

    Well, really the Iran agreement does allow Iran to compete commercially in the middle east, unlike before when sanctions prevented a level playing field for the Persians. So in the non-military sense, it is worse for Israel than the previous situation.

    In the military sense, Israel has nukes and multiple delivery systems, even for a second or third strike, while no one else in the middle east has those sorts of weapons systems. The end of the Iranian agreement will end that situation, as Iran will be able to complete their construction of nuclear weapons in short order.

    I feel sure they are finished with research and development, and perhaps done with design of the infrastructure needed to support their design goals. I would be if I was in charge of Iran. ? How close are Iran and Pakistan? They share 200 miles of border, do they have commerce, travel and educational connections as well? The CIA factbook says, no not much.

  122. 122
    Jay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That was his “short window”, however, his “Team of Equals” telegraphed that “Hope and Change” was just a campaign slogan.

    Friday, the Bankster’s went to the House, full of confidence that the Rethugs would let them get back into the business of pushing toxic paper, ( Global Economic Collapse II),

    but got shut down by the Rethugs, not because securitized waste products are a bad idea,

    But for not letting Ammosexuals finance their hoarding with cheap credit.

  123. 123
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay:

    bipartizanship

    You should probably realize that it makes you look like even more of a gullible idiot if you don’t even know how to spell the fact-free slogan you’re parroting.

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay:

    That was his “short window”, however, his “Team of Equals” telegraphed that “Hope and Change” was just a campaign slogan.

    Seriously, the guy who can’t figure out how to structure a logical argument out of the slogans he’s parroting thinks he can win by adding a few more slogans to his comments?

    Come back when you can actually explain your claims in your own words rather than relying on the anti-Democrat propaganda phrases you’ve been spoonfed.

  125. 125
    Chet Murthy says:

    @B.B.A.: @Jay: There is excellent work by historians and political scientists about this subject, and BBA is spot-on. The New Deal originally didn’t cover black Americans, b/c tha twas the price Roosevelt paid to segregations for their support, without which the New Deal couldn’t have been passed.

    But even moreoso, it is a *lie* that the New Deal was some radical golden age. It. Was. Not. Roosevelt basically did the minimum, and once the economy got going again, they turned down the screws of austerity again, resulting in the downturn of 1937. It was really only the coming of WWII, that dragged the US economy out of the Depression.

  126. 126
    Jay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Enjoy it when the Democrats abandon Russiagate.

  127. 127
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Jay: I should add that even in Most Cracker-iest Texas Goddamn, our American History teacher, Mr. Witherspoon, taught us in 1979 about the weak-tea nature of the New Deal, the 1937 downturn, etc. It’s not something new — did you not get taught this in high school?

  128. 128
    Jay says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    The New Deal was radical, because it followed Coolridge and Hoover.

    Or are you trying to argue that it was just “incrimental”?

  129. 129
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Jay: Hindsight is a glorious thing. 40 years from now, when the history of the Lesser Depression is written, Obama will be credited as having prevented it, and the Great Recession will join the Recession of 1937 in the annals of “he didn’t do enough”. There’s been ample written about this subject (and unlike the history of WWII and the Nazis, I haven’t re-read it recently). I’m sure you can find excellent texts.

  130. 130
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay:

    Who’s “Coolridge”?

    And you misspelled another of your slogans. Spellcheck is your friend.

    ETA: The New Deal followed the blueprint of what Europe had been doing for the previous 50 years. So, no, not terribly radical.

  131. 131
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jay: It was incremental; its benefits, at the outset, only applied to some people. Those benefits were expanded to cover more people – in, get this, increments.

  132. 132
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Jay: I heard/read somewhere that a RWNJ had suggested that the US should impose secondary sanctions on any nation that continued to trade with Iran after the US reimposed them.

    It seems to me that would hurt the US economically as much, if not more, than it would hurt us.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay:

    Remember when Obama made a deal with Republicans and ended Social Security? Your predictive powers need to be updated — you’re still working from the 1996 playbook.

  134. 134
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Sloane Ranger: I’ve read that Iran is settling oil debts in euros. Good luck Steve “human body suit from MIB” Mnuchin trying to sanction the entire Eurozone. Sheesh. What imbeciles.

  135. 135
    Peale says:

    @Jay: ummm. Nope. The reason they needed to be cautious about Iraq and the banking meltdown is that there were a lot of congressional democrats caught on the wrong by side of the history there. Unless new information starts to surface that the democrats were colluding with Russia as well, they don’t have anyone in their side to protect this time around.

  136. 136
    chopper says:

    @Lulymay:

    “to war! i’ll hold your coat.”

  137. 137

    @J R in WV: Its complicated. The RWNJs were inspired by European fascists, its just fascism with saffron clothes having little to do with Hinduism as it is practiced by millions. Their narrative is factually challenged. In short, they want to deny any credit to Jawaharlal Nehru and M.K.Gandhi, so they elevate their contemporaries who they had ideological arguments with but who were by no means RWNJs themselves (like Bhagat Singh, Bose etc who were to the left of Congress). Its all about stolen valor. Most of the predecessors of current avatar of today’s ruling party at the centre were British enablers but now they wrap themselves in the flag.
    ETA: Sorry, that’s as clear as mud. I will try and do a blog post about this.

  138. 138
    El Caganer says:

    @Mnemosyne: I dunno, I kinda like “partizanship.” I had relatives in the partizans in Yugoslavia in WWII, and…..oh, that’s not what we’re talking about here?

  139. 139
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Peale:

    The reason they needed to be cautious about Iraq and the banking meltdown is that there were a lot of congressional democrats caught on the wrong by side of the history there.

    Exactly. You can tell which “progressives” are motivated by misogyny because they bash Hillary Clinton while lionizing Joe Biden, the Senator from MBNA.

    Unless new information starts to surface that the democrats were colluding with Russia as well, they don’t have anyone in their side to protect this time around.

    I’ve noticed that “progressives” and the right have started trying to claim that Hillary was the one who was helped by the Russians, which is patent bullshit, but par for the course. I also doubt that any prominent Democrats are going to be caught up in the Russia scandal, but I bet a lot of “progressive” heroes will be. We already know that Kucinich is taking money from Russia Today.

  140. 140
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Mnemosyne: Kids These Days, they just don’t remember how scared Dem officials were, that a public stand against the Iraq War would be career-ending. I mean, there’s a reason Kerry waffled on his vote — it was scary, b/c it wasn’t clear that the American public would forgive a vote against the war.

    Yes, -today- it looks like an obvious decision. But back then, it took extraordinary political courage. And sure sure, there were Dems who had it, and did it — there was a LOT of angry debate in Congress about it. But if we expect all our elected officials to be willing to sacrifice their careers for a moral position, we’re gonna have pretty weak officials.

  141. 141
    Dev Null says:

    @Fair Economist: Pretty sure there’s a line of thinking that says that Chamberlain took the Munich deal with open eyes because Britain was totally unprepared for war, and needed the time to rev up the war machine.

    I don’t know whether or not the argument makes sense, but guessing I could find links … I know I’ve seen the arguments.

  142. 142
    Dev Null says:

    @J R in WV: Vaguely remembering an article in the Atlantic circa 2000 on war games positing Iraq (Iran?) as the adversary. I can’t find the article either in my midden heap or with an online search, but the general “commanding” Iraqi forces launched all his missiles at the inception of the conflict and inflicted YUUUGE losses on American naval forces.

    Quite the surprise for all concerned.

    I am kicking myself that I can’t find the article, but no doubt Cheryl or Adam and/or many others know(s) the reference and/or the story behind the reference.

  143. 143
    Dev Null says:

    @encephalopath: This is the war game I was trying to remember (my comment #142).

    In particular:

    Red forces inflict devastating losses on blue forces

    You got there first.

  144. 144
    Dev Null says:

    @J R in WV: Colin Powell’s assertion in his UN speech that Saddam supported the Ansar al-Islam group was the clearest indication that Powell was either lying or misinformed. The improbability of the claim strongly suggested that the US case against Iraq was, uh, not entirely credible.

  145. 145
    Dev Null says:

    @Brachiator: The number of friends, colleagues, and relatives – Jillies and BernieBros and Trumpkins – who told me that Hillary was the warmonger in the race and must at all costs be kept out of the Oval Office…

    Idiots. “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

  146. 146
    Dev Null says:

    @Dev Null: Still can’t find the Atlantic article, but here’s from War on the Rocks:

    The Real Story of a Corrupted Military Exercise

  147. 147
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Spellcheck on a blog post?

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