The Iranian Dilemma

The world is justifiably skeptical about our contention that Iran is supplying terrorists in Iraq with material to kill Americans. I have no doubt that Iranians are indeed guilty, but I do not know which Iranians. We certainly should protect our troops. This will inevitably raise tensions with Iran (because they really are involved), but recall that invading Iran is a dumb idea under the best of conditions - and we do not enjoy the best of conditions.

Let's consider the situation in Iran. There is not doubt that the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is either seriously deranged or seriously evil. He wants simultaneously to deny the Holocaust and provoke another one. But Iran is more than its nutty little president.

Think about the ethnic character of the country. Iran is the successor to the ancient & Medieval Persian Empires. Like all empires, it is multiethnic. Persians make up just over half the population. The second largest ethnic group is Azeris, about a quarter of the population. Then there are a variety of others. The most well known to us are Kurds. Already you see the problem with describing an Iranian. Beyond that, the borders are not particularly inclusive. Azeris spill over into Azerbaijan and Turkey. Half the people in Afghanistan speak Afghan Persian or Dari. Tajik is also a variation of Persian. Besides Tajikistan, Tajiks are found all the way into western China. This is real Rudyard Kipling stuff here. Add to this the 2-4 million strong Iranian diaspora (those who fled the Islamic Republic) and suffice to say, when you think of Iran, do not think of a place like Germany or France.

How about the government? Most of us have an impression of Iran from the time of Ayatollah Khomeini. They were fire breathing fanatics willing to kill thousands, exile millions and sacrifice hundreds of thousands as martyrs on the battlefield. The revolution has aged, grown a little feeble and not delivered as promised. The clerics still can veto anything they dislike, but their rule has sort of fizzled. Most observers feel that they would lack the will to kill tens of thousands, as they did during the early part of the revolution, in the event of trouble. Most people are still unwilling to test this theory, but these days it is sort of a lackadaisical, inefficient oppression by a government that has lost the respect of the people and each day loses more of its ability to instill fear.

Despite high oil revenues, the economy is near collapse and average people have been suffering a declining standard of living. Most large businesses are state run and not run very well. Unemployment is high; incomes are low. Life sucks.

We never knew that much about the Iranian people & they probably have even less accurate information about us, which leads to misunderstanding. There will be some surprises. The Iranian people reject bin Laden, who is as much their enemy as ours, and believe Islam can find common ground with the west.

One thing that most surprises people is the role of women. Around 60% of Iranian university students are women and the Iranian population growth has been dropping like a stone since the 1979 revolution. It is now down to 1.1%, not much more than the U.S. and much below that of most of its neighbors. The biggest holiday of the year is Noruz, a pre-Islamic holiday that the Ayatollahs tried to eliminate with absolutely no success.

Anyway, the worst thing we could do is to invade Iran. I doubt there is any serious possibility of that. The second worst thing is to rattle our saber too loudly. The third worst thing is to be too soft and accommodating. Balance is what we need. Let's not fool ourselves. Iran is still an oppressive place and its government is a leading supporter of terrorism, but it really does not have a long term future, especially if the price of oil comes down significantly. The Iranian people have been through a lot. The oppression of the Ayatollahs is almost at an end, however. They may yet slip quietly into that good night like the communists in E. Europe. We helped grease the skids for the communists with firm policies and active engagement. BOTH were needed. We should maybe try the same with the Ayatollahs and give the people of Iran a chance.

Posted by Jack at February 12, 2007 5:51 PM
Comments
Comment #207750

Nice discussion, Jack.

Posted by: Trent at February 12, 2007 6:27 PM
Comment #207751

Yes, Jack, you are right about Iran. It is the closest thing in the Middle East to a liberal democracy once you peel away the mullah layer and get down to the people. They are urbane, cosmopolitan, literate, and modern. The US should have long ago forgiven the hostage-taking and forged an alliance to advance peace and prosperity in the neighborhood. As I understand it, the Bush administration hostilely refused overtures from the previous government, and this act may have made the current government possible.

Although every previous administration since Eisenhower’s has committed its own blunders in regard to Iran and the Middle East as a whole, I am dumbstruck by the failures of the current group. They keep pushing on the wrong buttons, hoping to correct the bad effects of pushing on the last wrong one they pushed. I wish we could get them out of there and start with someone else. I’m not talking about Democrats or Republicans in particular, but just anyone who isn’t tone deaf to that part of the world.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at February 12, 2007 6:27 PM
Comment #207757

I would be willing to bet a sizable amout that we have agents in Iran fomenting the pro-American people in Iran to form solidarity together and look to the future of overthrowing their present inhumane humans. That wuld make me very pleased. And, Jack, you could relate to that. Remember Lech Walesa.

Posted by: tomh at February 12, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #207758

Jack,
Good article!

The Bush administration gave a briefing suggesting the Iranian government, at the “highest levels,” supplied EFPs with the intention of killing US troops. The suggestion does not make sense. Most attacks using IEDs or EFPs against US troops are conducted by Sunni insurgents, NOT the Mahdi Army. There have not been enough attacks by the Mahdi Army using these weapons to kill 170 US troops in the first place. The suggestion is ludicrous.

Notice the briefing was given by an anonymous “senior defense official,” an anonymous “defense analyst,” and an anyonymous “explosives expert.” Notice the briefing was given in the Green Zone of Bagdhad to a limited, select group of reporters. NO ONE from the CIA, diplomatic corps, or DNI participated.

So the story seems as bogus as they get, reminiscent of the bogus stories fed to us in the run-up to Iraq.

But what is the point? Are we about to launch a sea/air attack against Iran? Or is it just saber-rattling?

Like many people, it seems to me that time is on our side when it comes to Iran. The revolutionary fervor of 1979 will inevitably abate as a new generation seeks to expand democracy beyond the control of the Guardian Council. The Mullahs cannot stand our close embrace, and it is a matter of time before the desire for freedom, liberty, & representative government overwhelm the dictates of the religious leadership.

There is every reason to believe Iran and the US should develop a great relationship. As the ISG and many others have advocated, we should be talking with Iran and developing close ties.

Instead, the Bush administration seems determined to use an adversarial, militaristic approach. According to Newsweek, in addition to the addition of troops in Iraq & the Eisenhower & Stennis naval groups, we are about to add a third naval group. The greatest danger is the danger of miscalcuation. We may only intend to rattle sabers. But the Iranians could conclude that they must strike first, use it or lose it. Alternatively, a simple mistake, or an unexpected, unauthorized attack by a low level US or Iranian fanatic could spark WWIII.

It is a dangerous game our government plays, and their track record is not good.

Posted by: phx8 at February 12, 2007 6:54 PM
Comment #207759

Tomh,
You are right. We used to put the Mujahideen-Al-Khalq on the terrorist watch list, but it is widely believed we now back their terrorist attacks inside Iraq. One man”s terrorist is another man”s freedom fighter. Just ask Menachim Begin or Ariel Sharon, Israeli leaders with documented histories of very bloody terrorist attacks.

Posted by: phx8 at February 12, 2007 6:58 PM
Comment #207760

Actually, asking them might be pretty tough, unless someone has a hotline direct to hell…

Posted by: phx8 at February 12, 2007 6:59 PM
Comment #207761

Jack, you may doubt that there is any serious possibility of a US invasion of Iran. I agree. The US simply does not have the manpower now to invade. That does not mean that the Bush regime will not attack Iran with a vicious air campaign.

Bush has lined up his ducks. How many carrier groups are either in or on the way to the gulf? Is it two, or three? I have a very strong feeling of deja vu here. I recall around Sept 2002, meeting an American lady in Dublin. During our conversation I remarked to her ” So you guys are going into Iraq?” And of course she agreed. It was very clear even then that Bush was determined to invade Iraq, no matter what. I have that same feeling now with regard to Iran.

The fact is that the Israeli Likud now has US policy regarding the mid east firmly in its grip;
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=8491

and the Likudniks want the US to attack Iran. Hell, even the dogs in the street are barking about this plan to attack. I hope I’m wrong, but all the evidence points towards it. And the insane thing is that such an attack will almost certainly cause oil prices to skyrocket, making recent prices seem tame by comparison.

Paul Craig Roberts has an interesting suggestion for defeating the neo cons;
http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts195.html

In the scenario of skyrocketing oil prices, and very possibly a plunging dollar, it may be that the oil producers will change to the Euro, international confidence in the dollar collapse, and if that happens, that’s the end of the evil empire. And good riddance! Sorry to put it like that, but the US needs a good chastening right now.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 12, 2007 7:06 PM
Comment #207765

“General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran’s Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.

“We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this,” he said. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.”

This has already been reported on numerous sites.

An anonymous senior defense official and an anonymous defense analyst have given a briefing accusing Iran at the “highest levels” of being responsible for the deaths of 170 US soldiers- yet General Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not aware of the briefing?!!!

Either Pace is lying, or a few officials need to be fired, or better yet, do some hard time in jail.

” A former top Bush administration official for Persian Gulf affairs has said in an interview this morning on CNN that the US may be trying to spark a conflict with Iran.

Hillary Mann is the former National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Affairs. She warned in the interview that the recent flare up between Iran and the US over the former’s alleged assistance to Shi’a militias results from a US desire to provoke conflict with the Iranians.

“They’re trying to push a provocative, accidental conflict,” Mann said.”

(Cut & paste from www.rawstory.com)

Remember, that a quote from a former Bush adminstration official involved in Persian Gulf affairs.


Posted by: phx8 at February 12, 2007 7:38 PM
Comment #207766

One of the anonymous sources is supposed to be Army Major General William Caldwell, chief spokesman and Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects for the Multi-National Force in Iraq. He has given numerous public briefings and one-on-one interviews. Suddenly Major General Caldwell (if it is indeed him) insists on anonymity, no cameras, no recording devices, and proceeds to present a highly inflammatory briefing accusing the Iranians of being responsible for the death of 170 US soldiers, and another 620 wounded?

Either Pace is a lying incompetent, or Caldwell is off the reservation. In either case, there needs to be an investigation, and at least one of them needs to be fired immediately.

Is it a crime to mislead the American public, and incite the country to go to war? It should be.

Posted by: phx8 at February 12, 2007 7:57 PM
Comment #207767

Just some ideas to consider:
Iran is a democracy, although one stifled by certain ayatollahs, the real power behind the government. There was a recent election that apparently caused some electoral losses for the existing government. That is a small cause for optimism.
Iran, although a large exporter of petroleum, is a net importer of energy and the gap will widen in the coming years according to one estimate (50% cut in exports by 2012 and no oil exports by 2016 !). They may well have other reasons for developing nuclear power plants but they very definitely need the power that these plants will produce.
We have failed to communicate with Iran in a constructive manner. Calling Iran part of an “axis of evil” and then deposing and hanging the leader of another member of the axis is probably the equivalent (to the Iranian mind at least) of Admadinejad threatening to “wipe Israel off the map”.
This is such a weak point with w. He has such poor communication skills and is unable to appreciate the value of negotiation. America is very popular in Iran, despite all the contrived “death to america” assemblages. They know who we are and they know how poorly served they have been by religious fanaticism.

Posted by: Charles Ross at February 12, 2007 7:57 PM
Comment #207775


phx8: Might I suggest that Gen. Caldwell is very much on the necon reservation and it is Gen. Pace who is off the reservation. It seems that more and more high ranking military personel are jumping off the Administrations reservation.

The 2003 offer by Iran to assist us in Iraq was well documented, as was the Administrations response. The other day, Sec. of State Rice said that she could not recall the offer made by Iran. Why is it that so many Republicans have such a hard time remembering things?

The Iranians also offered to assist us in Afganistan and offered to turn over to us many high ranking Talaban and terrorists that had crossed over into Iran during the war. We told them to take their help and shove it. So, they took those they were holding down to the border and sent them back into Afganistan to prevent the Administration from accusing them of harboring terrorists. Has anyone heard of the Talaban resurgence?

Posted by: jlw at February 12, 2007 8:32 PM
Comment #207777

Jack,

Good article! I have no way of knowing whether or not we’re gearing up for an air assualt on Iran. Certain bits of news tell me yes, but Gates and Snow both say no.

I have a question for everyone though. Please look at some of the news photos of purportedly Iranian munitions (they’re spread all over the web) and tell me why the printing is in english. You can look at the Persian alphabet here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_alphabet

Same is true of the dates printed on these unexploded armaments. This is 1385 according to the Iranian Calendar, how can the munitions bear the dates 2005 or 2006.
http://www.iranchamber.com/calendar/iranian_calendar_converter.php

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……….well it might be Neo-Con spin. Me thinks something is rotten in, well, not Denmark.

Posted by: KansasDem at February 12, 2007 8:45 PM
Comment #207782

I’m sorry, but did someone say an invasion of Iran would be a bad idea because oil prices would sky-rocket. Maybe invading would be a mistake, but increased energy costs are the only thing that would force this country to rapidly develop alternate programs, and invest more in researching environmentally friendly options. Our oil and electricity are so much cheaper than Europe’s, we have no reason to consider a massive switch to green. Ethanol is taking hold slowly because it gets less than 2/3 the rpm’s per time per gallon that gasoline does, and yes, I have tested this. There are so many people in the U.S. today, let alone the world, for much needed changes to take place slowly. Unless it’s at the cost of human life, raise prices through the roof. As we all know, people love their money, and politicians would be forced to open their ears in a direction that doesn’t involve heavily endorsed oil lobbyists.

Posted by: Alastor's Heaven at February 12, 2007 9:24 PM
Comment #207797

Paul

I do not believe my country will go to war with Iraq or make any concerted attack on it.

Re the U.S. going down, you know that the U.S. is much better insulated from almost all the troubles of the Middle East than Europe is. I always though that one of the reason our bellicosity made you all so nervous was that you understood that if we got into enough trouble to burn ourselves, it would fry Europe.

Fortunately (or not) for both of us, our economies are completely intertwined.

Alastor

I am in favor of higher oil prices, but getting there by provoking a disastrous war is not the best route.

All

I supported bringing down Saddam because I thought he was a security threat and I knew we could take him down. Iran is not like that.

You do not need to be a pacifist, to understand that fighting unnecessarily and & getting involved in conflict when there is no reasonable way of achieving reasonable objectives is dumb. Iran is like that. I cannot think of any circumstances where it would make sense to attack Iran overtly and I am certain we will not do it.

Posted by: Jack at February 12, 2007 10:56 PM
Comment #207799

Jack:

Unlike many on the left, the picture doesn’t look at all to me like we are getting ready to invade Iran.

In my darker moments this is what it looks like to me:

It looks to me like we are tapping Ahmadinejad on the chest. I can believe that the US sees Ahmadinejad as unstable, and a loose cannon. Tap tap tap. Hmmm send in another carrier. Send over some drones. Put in place some sanctions. Catch them in Iraq trying to make the country more unstable, (like Iran in Iraq would be a surprise). tap tap tap.

All the time waiting for Iran to do something stupid. How long do you think we will need to tap Abmadinejad’s chest until he cracks?

As soon as Abmadinajad takes a swing, the west has license to unleash an air war to take out there nuclear systems. Assuming there is greater influence in Iraq than we know of, then we increase the chance for a stable Iraq and we help Israel.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 12, 2007 11:01 PM
Comment #207808

Craig,
Well said.

The third carrier is supposed to be the Reagan.

The problem with a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is that it is nearly impossible to limit the strike to them. A strike would also have to destroy air defenses, the Iranian Air Force (such as it is), and all offensive capabilities, especially along the coastline.

In for a penny, in for a pound. It would almost certainly include Revolutionary Guard facilities, any command and control nodes, and government buildings.

While a full scale invasion would not work, a limited incursion which occupied the southwestern oil fields around Isfahan could be contemplated. Not that we want their oil. Oh no. Heavens no. No, no, no. No. But it could be done under the pretext that we would be preventing the Iranians from supplying Iraqi insurgents, as well as denying the Iranian government revenue, and finally, that we would be preventing a disruption of the world oil supply.

Nearly everyone thinks this is a terrible idea.

Many people consider Iraq to be one of the worst strategic blunders in the history of our country, if not the worst. Part of the reason is that taking out Saddam Hussein virtually ensured an Iranian-allied Shia fundamentalist government as a replacement, and so substantially strengthened the position of Iran.

This might be the double-or-nothing roll of the dice, the hail mary of the Bush administration.

Keep tapping them in a chest, provoke a response, and there you have it.

Posted by: phx8 at February 13, 2007 12:57 AM
Comment #207809


He has sent the fighter bombers back to Turkey. If he is bluffing, it is costing us a fortune. I can imagine what that extra naval task force in the Persian Gulf is costing us per day not to mention the third task force that is preparing for deployment. Based purely on his philosphy, we have to assume that Bush will attack Iran if he can find any excuse that will get him past the Congress. Actually he could wait until January 19, 2009 to attack Iran and I would not put it past him. I guess America doesn’t have much of a choice but to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. If Al Gore had been elected and done what Bush has done, the Republicans would have already impeached him tas cuts for the rich or not.

Posted by: jlw at February 13, 2007 1:09 AM
Comment #207813

Craig-
The whole problem here is we don’t have a second option. We don’t even have a well-reasoned first option, regardless of whether we’re talking preventative war, or a war in search of a pretext.

This just seems to be poor impulse control to me. We don’t have the army to deal with a ground response. We’re having a tough enough time dealing with a civil war to have to deal with an actual incursion of Iranian forces.

These guys are in their own little world, and the faster politicians on both sides of the aisle slap them upside the head, the better.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2007 1:51 AM
Comment #207818

Sometimes you guys scare me…and that’s not as bad as being complacent when things are scary.

Jack, this is a good thread. Thanks for the discussions here. But, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a Fruedian Slip:

I do not believe my country will go to war with Iraq or make any concerted attack on it.

I think we’ve heard these ideas before.

Posted by: gergle at February 13, 2007 5:27 AM
Comment #207820

The problem is not just the US, Iran and Iraq. Syria is now getting involved inside Lebanon. Iran is sending SA-7 anti-aircraft missles to Iraq and Lebanon. Syria is sening the same to Lebanon. The whole area is getting to light up the middle east with all kinds of violence. One thing that should be done is heavy mining of the Iranian-Iraqi and the Syrian-Iraqi borders. Make it more expensive to cross. Now, if I heard a report that a truck load of ammo and weapons coming from Syria or Iran blew up coming accross the border, I would say that would be a good thing.

Posted by: tomh at February 13, 2007 8:00 AM
Comment #207821

Jack,
“Most people are still unwilling to test this theory, but these days it is sort of a lackadaisical, inefficient oppression by a government that has lost the respect of the people and each day loses more of its ability to instill fear.”


Think about it, you could say this about any gov’t. There’s always going to be a big group of people not doing well or restless; wanting change from its current leadership. However, do they get it? Does that mean they’ll overthrow or help another country overthrow their own gov’t?! I don’t know, Jack.

“The Iranian people reject bin Laden, who is as much their enemy as ours, and believe Islam can find common ground with the west.”


You’re not going to say that “they’ll greet us with open arms and flowers” are you?! We’ve heard that crap before.


“The oppression of the Ayatollahs is almost at an end, however. They may yet slip quietly into that good night like the communists in E. Europe. We helped grease the skids for the communists with firm policies and active engagement. BOTH were needed. We should maybe try the same with the Ayatollahs and give the people of Iran a chance.”

We better make sure the “commis” don’t turn around and help them build back up! The Russians are the ones supplying them with arms and, seeing as how Putin is leading that country back (closer) to communism (again), looks like they could back them instead of fighting them. Maybe President Bush should “Look into his Eyes” again. Heh!

“Iran is still an oppressive place and its government is a leading supporter of terrorism, but it really does not have a long term future, especially if the price of oil comes down significantly.”


How can you be so sure?! How do you know how long? If so, when? 1 year? 10 years? After they get Nukes? (which will never happen, by the way). When?

Posted by: rahdigly at February 13, 2007 8:34 AM
Comment #207824

All of you are still toeing the defeatist line of Iraq is a blunder, Iran is too strong, American military is spread thin. I can not understand why all of you can not see the obvious of the current situation. There is over 200,000 Veteran American troops on both borders of Iran including the sea to the south. Each soldier is now elite with almost 1 year combat experience. There will be no invasion because there is no need. It is a great strategy. 3 years in an country where the worst thing America has done is put underwear on prisoner’s heads will show those in Iran that it is better to surrender than to keep up the motto “Death to America”. Of course, no one will be with me in cheering for an American win. Every one in the thread finds it easy to show their higher intellect by hoping for a loss because it is unfashionable to support the President, the troops, and the mission of defeating the enemy who thinks (even the peasants think this) America is the Great Satan. And please spare me the propaganda excuse that “Death to America” only means the American government, I already heard it from Ahmadinejad. They America, leaders are voted in, not appointed as they are there.

Posted by: frankxcid at February 13, 2007 9:08 AM
Comment #207837

Jack, all sources to date regarding Iran’s official government involvement are either anonymous military sources, or they disclaim that the Iranian government has any knowledge or involvement in exporting such weapons. This should be a HUGE red flag to the public, the administration and Dick Cheney when touting Iranian responsibility.

None of our intelligence agencies to date, are making the claim that the Iranian government is involved in exporting such weapons. Red Flag!

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 13, 2007 10:19 AM
Comment #207838

frankxcid,

Have you read the CIA assessment of the Iranian military?

200,000 troops elite or not is nothing.
The Iranians could sustain 50/1 casualties, and still put a formidable force on the battlefield.

Besides how long would the Iranian public look upon America as favorable once we invade?

Posted by: Rocky at February 13, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #207843

Re the U.S. going down, you know that the U.S. is much better insulated from almost all the troubles of the Middle East than Europe is. I always though that one of the reason our bellicosity made you all so nervous was that you understood that if we got into enough trouble to burn ourselves, it would fry Europe.

Fortunately (or not) for both of us, our economies are completely intertwined.

Posted by: Jack at February 12, 2007 10:56 PM

Don’t know where you got that idea from Jack. Why should Europe fear being fried? Who is the mid east has either the inclination or capacity to fry Europe? The way I see it, the people of the mid east simply want to be left alone to build their societies according to their own genius, free of the imperial machinations of the west. Hardly surprising, eh?

As to our economic interdependence, I absolutely agree. However, I would sooner see a vicious recession to be faced than the endless war and evil of the project for a new american century neo cons, with Bush or a Bush lookalike for their puppet. Bear in mind, Europe emerged from the horrors and massive destruction of WWII better in every way from what went before, admittedly with a lot of US help.

But it learned something from that horrific madness. There is no more sabre rattling in Europe yet it is still able to defend itself from any conceiveable threat. Tell me Jack, why does the US need to spend more than the rest of the world combined on its military? Who does it anticipate having to fight? Is that fact in itself not clear evidence that the US is intent on dominating the rest of the world by virtue of its military power?

The problem with all of that power however, is that it can’t even pacify a country of 25 million whose military was largely broken even before the invasion. It’s not about raw power anymore Jack. It’s a question of how much pain are you willing to take to hold your ill gotten gains. Are Americans willing to invest enough manpower and to accept attritional losses to prevail? One of our revolutionary heros once said, “it’s not those who can inflict the most, but those who can endure the most, who will prevail” I imagine Americans would accept those losses if they felt it was vital to US survival. But if it’s just an imperial adventure to steal resources and maintain its power for the benefit of a small elite, I think they will baulk at that.

The mid east is not populated by some strange other species or even sub species. They are living breathing human beings just like the rest of us. For at least the last couple of centuries they have endured western scheming and EVIL DOING with the purpose being to enrich the western countries and to copperfasten their power. And the West has the arrogance to call them the axis of evil? My God, aren’t we raising generations of ignoramuses who know nothing of history, that we can in our superior tones look down on these sand niggers and islamofacists? You know Jack, i’m not a great Christian, perhaps not even a good one. But I have a tendency to see my brother in every other mans face. Perhaps that was my family upbringing. Perhaps it was that combined with my country’s history. Perhaps it was the subconscious impact of my Christian upbringing, or a combination of all of the above. I do know that those the Nazis would destroy, they first dehumanised by calling them names, and accusing them of all kinds of schemes and lack of civilisation or breeding. It’s time we all looked beyond the propaganda and saw our brothers and sisters faces. What would Jesus do? The essense of his message was love.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 13, 2007 11:32 AM
Comment #207844

Let’s face facts here Iran is a country who’s leaders have called for the destruction of the west more times than we can count. Solution tell them if there is even a hint of there involment in atacks on U.S. forces anywhere that there country will pay a bloddy price for that mistake . I know some thinkl using a big stick is wrong because the world won’t like it so what, the world hasn’t kiked us since ww2 anyway . We are the biggest on the block time we started hitting hard and fast so peoplr get the message DON’T SCREW WITH US .

Posted by: Steve at February 13, 2007 11:36 AM
Comment #207845

Let’s face facts here Iran is a country who’s leaders have called for the destruction of the west more times than we can count. Solution tell them if there is even a hint of there involment in atacks on U.S. forces anywhere that there country will pay a bloddy price for that mistake . I know some thinkl using a big stick is wrong because the world won’t like it so what, the world hasn’t kiked us since ww2 anyway . We are the biggest on the block time we started hitting hard and fast so peoplr get the message DON’T SCREW WITH US .

Posted by: Steve at February 13, 2007 11:36 AM
Comment #207846

Still scared of Iran? Where was the 50/1 casualty ratio in the war against Iraq? Scared that the world hates America? Who is it that hates America? Even the most stalwart enemy of America will drive Cadillacs, drink Coke, Use Windows on their computers, use Dollars when trading cash, etc… All of you too scared of being #1 in a #1 country, move to Spain!

Posted by: frankxcid at February 13, 2007 12:01 PM
Comment #207849

frank,

“Where was the 50/1 casualty ratio in the war against Iraq?”

Iran isn’t Iraq.
Scared of Iran?
Hardly, but why waste still more American troops and treasure on a dubious adventure that will be another war of attrition at best?

I think we should be more intent on making sure the Pakistan doesn’t fall.
They already have WMDs, and they are an assassination away from the real terrorists getting their hands on them.

Posted by: Rocky at February 13, 2007 12:19 PM
Comment #207853

Paul

You live in Europe. I only visit. Maybe a visitor notices some changes better. I see that Europe integrates it minorities with a lot less success than the U.S. and that the problems of the Middle East are spilling over to the streets of London, Paris or Amsterdam.

Your economies are also much more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than America’s. If the Middle East goes to hell, you are closer, more dependent and have larger numbers of recent arrivals from the region. To an ignorant American that does not sound like something you would find pleasant.

I believe you all would be thinking a lot more about security than you do now.

I have great admiration for the European unity, but before you all enter the light of Kantian perfection, you need to recall the Hobsean method of HOW that happened. W/o NATO and the American security umbrella, European unity would have never gotten off the ground. Let’s leave out the Marshall Plan or even the Soviet threat, a big concession. W/o the U.S. guaranteeing security, European nations would have shortly been at each other’s throats again. The Germans and the French get along now. There was somewhat less trust in 1945. The U.S. as part of the alliance of free people created the security needed for people to trust each other.

Most people will not do violence to others even when they can, but if you remove all police protection those who are so inclined will begin to oppress the others until everybody has to take violent steps to protect himself. That was the Euro situation from the fall of the Roman Empire to the formation of NATO.

Nobody can aspire to the higher level of needs until he has satisfied basic security. The Middle East still lacks that basic security structure.

I agree that the people of the Middle East probably want to be happy, prosperous and democratic. What gives you the impression this is what they would have w/o America?

Posted by: Jack at February 13, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #207856

Jack-

To simplify (which I know you are a big fan of doing) there are two distinct schools of thought here:

The first is that our very presence on the streets performing checkpoints and knocking down doors of residences is being relied upon by the government as a crutch. As long as we are a massive occupational presence, there is no motivation for Iraqis to take the lead to solve their own sectarian and political problems. Taking sides is inherently risky, and the lack of security provided by the US is a scapegoat for all ineffectiveness.

The other view is similar what you wrote above, which is that Iraqi’s will not rise to the challenge of solving political disputes and creating workable policies for the future until Americans can provide them physical security. Of course, with no deadlines and no baseline from which to measure the subjective feeling of being “secure”, this approach is much more open ended and subject to perversion.

So the question becomes, when does the ball get passed to the Iraqi’s? Before or after “security” is achieved?

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 13, 2007 12:50 PM
Comment #207860

Stephen

He doesn’t want to get us into Iran. YOu all should save all the recriminations. If we invade Iran, I will join you.

There are choices between invasion and doing nothing.

Posted by: Jack at February 13, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #207863

Addendum to previous post:
The war between Iran and Iraq resulted in stalemate

Posted by: frankxcid at February 13, 2007 1:50 PM
Comment #207864

Jack,
“He doesn’t want to get us into Iran. YOu all should save all the recriminations. If we invade Iran, I will join you.”


Join what?! The Defeatist crowd?!! If you want to take a strong stance against Iran, then let us know what would be a viable solution. This “most Iranians don’t believe in the current regime” mantra is not going to cut it. I don’t care how diverse and cultured you think the Iranian people are, you still have to deal with a mad regime. Waiting on someone else to do it, is not going to cut it.

Iranian cannot have nukes and continue to support the terrorists in Iraq! Period!!

Posted by: rahdigly at February 13, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #207868

Sorry Stephen I do not but what you are selling. Sectarian Violence: irrevelent! Things worse off: No, there is an Iraqi government, Al Queada is now a minor player, Iraqi soldiers are not shooting and being shot at, etc. Short recuitment: No, except for 2005 where only the Army was down, all services met or exceeded their FY 2006 recruitment (see http://usmc.mil). Once again, the point is lost in all the defeatist arguments of “Oh No! things are so bad, lets just quit” Here is the point again: we are kicking butt and pissing off all the right people. All your doom and gloom predictions have not come to pass and will not come because most people would rather not be on the losing team.

Posted by: frankxcid at February 13, 2007 2:14 PM
Comment #207872

Rahdigly

As I wrote Stephen, there are many steps between passivity and invasion. If we invade, we lose.

I believe we should indeed kill as many Iranian agents as we can in Iraq and interdict as much of the supply as possible.

We should push sanctions, interfere with their finances, give aid and comfort to regime opponents, encourage insurrection, tie them up in knots to the extent possible.

We cannot invade AND successfully occupy Iran. We cannot destroy the nuclear facilities w/o landing troops long enough to finish the job. These are just not options where we can be successful. Speculating about them is like me speculating about how I would beat Mike Tyson. He might deserve it and it might be a good thing if I could do it, but I cannot.

On the other hand, a policy of consistent pressure may work. My only worry (and this will make some of our colleagues mad) is that if a passifist Democratic congress steps in and/or a passifist Democratic president changes policy, then we will have a real war.

Posted by: Jack at February 13, 2007 2:40 PM
Comment #207883

Steve said: “I know some thinkl using a big stick is wrong because the world won’t like it so what, the world hasn’t kiked us since ww2 anyway . We are the biggest on the block time we started hitting hard and fast so peoplr get the message DON’T SCREW WITH US .”

That’s funny, Steve. That is what King George did and said toward that rag tag band of colonialists who dumped tea into the Boston Harbor rather than pay his tax, or submit to his vastly superior military. Might does not always make right, nor, does might always win. And yes, it is important to consider when using might, how it affects one’s relationships with other friends and adversaries.

There is a reason our Generals all have Master’s Degrees or Ph.D’s; winning war is never guaranteed by superior firepower. If that were true, Sergeants could run our military quite capably. And there is a reason our civilian government which represents the will and interests of the civilian population control and direct our military. If that reason escapes you, I refer you back to our founding fathers or Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 13, 2007 3:20 PM
Comment #207885

frankxcid, what an odd remark you made. You support the Republican’s view on Iraq, despite Republicans having been overwhelmingly on the losing side of the last election. There is an inherent illogical twist to your comment. If saving lives, limbs, and suffering is not your goal, but being on the winning side is the goal, then you may be prudent to side with the Democrats on this issue. In the end they will win. Bush will stay in Iraq until he leaves office, only then can he say the outcome was some other president’s fault. And that means Democrats will withdraw from the Iraq civil war post haste after Bush leaves office. The winning side of this issue is Democrat’s position.

So, your logic completely fails and the plain fact is your perspective is both on the losing side of elections and on the losing side of the war in Iraq.

It always amazes me that those on the right refuse to concede that our troops already won, they accomplished the mission we sent them their to accomplish, Saddam is gone, there are no WMD, and Iraq has a democraticly elected government. Yet, for far too many on the right, what our troops have accomplished and won is never enough for them. They want to keep expanding the life threatening mission of our troops with abandon. Makes me think those on the right don’t care one iota about our troops losses, and want to keep making more losses. Actions speak louder than words. If you care for our soldiers, bring them home and celebrate the victories they have already achieved.

Don’t keep moving the goal posts further out, guaranteeing that one day they will either die or fail due to impossible demands. Far, far, more of our troops have sacrificed than has been necessary to both claim victory, celebrate it, and bring them home.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 13, 2007 3:35 PM
Comment #207890

“You support the Republican’s view on Iraq, despite Republicans having been overwhelmingly on the losing side of the last election.”


So, now elections matter?!! When Bush won reelection in 2004, did you say that about Democrats? By the way, the Repubs gain seats in the house and senate in 2004 and (again) did you utter these same words?

Posted by: rahdigly at February 13, 2007 3:47 PM
Comment #207892

Jack
Nice piece as far as it went. Seems to me a little more background on our interference with a democratic regime to install the brutal Shah at the behest of American oil companies should be included. That certainly has colored all our relationships with Iran. People need to remember it for a real understanding of the situation.
I find it puzzuling that tomh et al would be enthralled by the distinct possibility that we are supporting violent anti-government factions in Iran while being apalled that they might respond in kind.
Dispite our differences the prospect of working with Iran toward stabilizing the region has such great potential that Bush’s failure to do so will be remembered as yet one more of his grave errors. They could be of great assistence in Afganistan also. When are you guys going to fed up with his failures. Oh,yes. Some kudos for the N.Korea accord are in order apparently.
Thanks for your informative piece….Bill

Posted by: BillS at February 13, 2007 3:58 PM
Comment #207895

BillS

Pray tell me how do you cleanly kill someone in the time of war.

“Pardon me sir, do you have time to stand still while I place a bullet between your eyes in order to carry out my orders to disperse the enemy.”

Or do you have a better proposal.

Gimme a break. You kill or get killed. Simple as that.

I was suggesting that we mine the borders to prevent many arms and weapons from coming into the theater and therefore a few less Americans get killed. Again, that is not a difficult concept to understand and acquire.

Posted by: tomh at February 13, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #207897

Place mines along a border that stretches thousands of miles? That’s your plan? That’s just stupid…let alone impossible.

“Kill or be killed”? While running a traffic checkpoint in the streets of Baghdad? Or kicking in the front door of a private residence containing huddled women and children? Its as simple as “kill or be killed”, huh? Well then, with our sheer firepower, we must have the dumbest leader in the history of the military if all we had to do to win was keep the finger on the trigger and place mines along the border.

I want two of whatever you’re on.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 13, 2007 4:47 PM
Comment #207900

tomh,

All unexploded mines have to be removed later, at great risk to those that will remove them.
Mines don’t just kill combatants. Mines are in-discriminant, they kill children and livestock as well.
Iraq is a country the size of California, where do you suppose we will get the manpower to accomplish this feat?

Posted by: Rocky at February 13, 2007 4:54 PM
Comment #207906

rahdigly-
What doesn’t cut it is seeing Iranian doubt about their leaders and not having the good sense to let their doubt corrode the power of the Mullahs. Not every enemy has to be killed to be neutralized. Did we execute the Japanese Emperor after WWII? Did we win the cold war with a climactic battle? Did Eastern Europe fall under the might of our army? Were those regimes any less despotic than Iran’s?

This leader is not a Hitler who gets greeted by cheering crowds. This guy is a tinpot figurehead who gets chased out of his own campaign stop by angry students, whose supporters fare badly in the latest election. Now you can validate his bluster, or undermine it, allowing Iranians to come to view any hot air he blows our way as his fault, not a reaction to ours. Ahmedinejad wants us to attack. He wants to be the injured party, because that justifies his remaining in the job. Without our provocation, he wouldn’t even be a major player. If we deprived him of reasons to pull all that shit, I think one of two things would happen. One, if he is foolish enough to strike at us, he turns the international community and his own people against him, perhaps even prompting a revolution against the revolution(!). We could get some help in neutralizing Iran as a threat. Two, if he reads the writing on the wall, then the Mullahs and everybody else still remain unpopular, and the Mullah’s authority erodes.

We can’t prevent every idiot from attacking, but we can make them pay a price if they do. Until that point, preventative warefare is just one disaster after another waiting to happen, because Americans will not support endless war just of the geopolitical agenda of one faction. We can create deterrence, or we can so damage our ability to wage war that we ourselves are deterred from necessary fights to protect our interests.

frankxcid-
Sectarian violence irrelevant? No, it’s central. How can you have a functioning government we can leave alone if it’s in civil war? Either you have a government capable of controlling its own territory, or you don’t. If a civil war is going on like our entire intelligence community is basically saying, then it’s not capable of controlling the country.

As for recruitment, two things apply here: one, you’ve got a lot of people re-enlisting. However, that has been insufficient. The standards for recruitment have been seriously dropped in order to meet those goals. This should be worrisome since able-bodied Americans of appropriate age aren’t in short supply.

As for defeatist arguments, in my mind the most defeatist argument of all is that which doesn’t admit fatal flaws in strategies, even when they are clearly pointed out. These aren’t strategies failing for a lack of support, these are strategies that simply cannot get that job done. This is not merely people like me saying this, but military experts familiar with such operations. You guys like the dreams and the glory of war, but you’re miserable at accepting the hard realities of them. You cannot win simply by being willful and stubborn. Determination is nothing without means and this presidency never asked for those means and in its hubris won’t ask for them. They are committed to winning from insufficient resources.

I don’t mind people who hope for miracles in battle. I mind folks who count on them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #207911

And how do several of you propose to keep arms and weapons from entering Iraq from 5 different countries primarily Iran?

Posted by: tomh at February 13, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #207915

Tomh-

We could put a US checkpoint every 10 feet along the border. It would take massive amounts of manpower and resources, and in the end, Iranians would still find a way to smuggle anything they wanted. We are ignorant of their language, culture, social customs, and everything else, yet you honestly believe we are going to have the capability to adequately prevent anything other than a mass military invasion?

Maybe, just maybe, the problem has nothing to do with the amount of bodies and money we throw into foreign territory. Maybe the planning part is a bit more important than you believe. Isn’t that reasonable?

And tomh, you ALWAYS manage to duck this question, but maybe you’ll actually address it this time. How does a physical occupation of Iraq (checkpoints, busting down doors, etc.), at ENORMOUS expense to our budget and to our international clout, do ANYTHING to help the bigger war on terror? Why can’t we stay in the North and Kuwait, promise to protect the territorial integrity of the nation of Iraq, and get the hell off the streets? The civil war WILL play out whether we help babysit, fund and facilitate it or not. I vote not.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 13, 2007 6:30 PM
Comment #207919

tomh,

Theoretically, 3 of those countries are our allies. They should be picking up the slack as a stable Iraq is also in their best interests.

Diplomacy hasn’t been Bush’s strong suit. It’s time we and involve those that will benefit the most and get them off their dead asses.

During Desert Storm the Saudis and Kuwait picked up the tab.
Why are we doing this alone?

Posted by: Rocky at February 13, 2007 6:46 PM
Comment #207927

tomh
FYI We are not at war with Iran.

Posted by: BillS at February 13, 2007 7:27 PM
Comment #207932

Oh, and BTW, Iraq doesn’t belong to America.

Posted by: Rocky at February 13, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #207943

tomh-
People can think up things for our soldiers to do, but it takes a certain number to do any of them well, and some can’t be done well or do us any good at any number.

The borders are one of those things that we could do, if we had more people in the country, but as it is, we’re stuck playing (alternatively)whack-a-mole and referee.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2007 8:35 PM
Comment #207960

Mining the borders was a suggestion. I did not elaborate on how it should or could be done.

Kevin23
Nowhere, and I mean nowhere did I advocate a war with Iran. Once again you read into something I penned and assumed something. I did not indicate, elucidate, or suggest anything about military opperations with Iran. It is the same thing as if I said that you wanted to cut and run when you said nothing of that in your writings. I do not need help in pervaying my thoughts. I try to stay simple and not go off on a tanget. Neither you nor I know the future result of the war on terror. It happens to be in Iraq as the main theater of operation at the present. There will be other strong challenges in future administrations that may require military action. We will have to wait on how all of this progresses. All I know for sure is that I must support the military action because that is where life and death occur. If I become devisive the enemy takes that and runs with it and it empowers the enemy. That draws the war out more lengthy and more death occurs.

Stephen D.
I agree that it will take more troops to achieve some of the ideas I have portrayed. I was only suggesting some thoughts without trying to be a general.

Posted by: tomh at February 13, 2007 9:58 PM
Comment #207963

Tomh-

What are you talking about? Are you making up stuff as you go along? I never said anything about attacking Iran. I said IRAQ.

And you are the one who mentioned mining the border. You are the one who still hasn’t addressed anything or taken any responsibility for your own words. But since you mention it, I do think Iran would find your proposed course of action an act of war.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 13, 2007 10:14 PM
Comment #207979

Kevin23
I am a straightforward talker and thinker. I do not subscribe to the liberal thinking that tries to say many words and comes up dry. You have an understanding of how you think and try to apply it to everybody else. Other people think different than both of us. So, just because I do not subscribe to your way of thinking is absolutely no indication that I am out of touch. I do take responsibility for my own words and actions. Your charge that I have not addressed anything is over the top.

Good night

Posted by: tomh at February 13, 2007 11:19 PM
Comment #207983

I never even told you “my way of thinking” let alone expect you to follow it. Again, you are off in left field. Now you are calling me a liberal? Again with the labels. How am I liberal Tom? Can you answer that simple question? You said it.

I simply asked for you to show a foundation for your statements. You cannot. So they are obviously not facts. They are your opinions. That’s a fact.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 13, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #208024

tomh-
Let me put things this way: It is a leader’s responsibility when a mission loses public support. Americans should be free to give or retract their support, because not all wars are in their interests, and not all wars will represent their will. This is a Democratic Republic, and as such the observation of such wishes is not inconsequential.

My real problem is that Bush has been willing in the past to play games with the evidence in order to get people on board with a war or a policy, and he seems to be doing the same now. He’s not analyzing the evidence to figure out what will work, or what will be best for the country. He thinks he already knows that, and that all this stuff about evidence is just marketing, not a discipline of leadership in its own right.

That’s one of my main reasons for disliking Bush as a leader. I don’t want this country sent to face threats that are mere marketing when real threats actually exist, and are neglected for the fake threat’s sake.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 14, 2007 8:15 AM
Comment #208029

Stephen D.

I put your last initial because was too lazy to spell it out.

Here is a confession. I was not in favor of an invasion to establish a democracy in Iraq. I was in favor of doing whatever was necessary to topple Hussein. When that was done we should have withdrawn. But since we did not do that we now have a situation on our hands that, for me, requires me to support the effort. I believe that if I protested the effort that it would be collective (because others would be protesting) cannon fodder for the enemy. That is what I believe. Others have a right and do excercise their right to something in their own way either collective or individually.

Posted by: tomh at February 14, 2007 10:08 AM
Comment #208032

All you people who think Iran’s “offer” to help is sincere, are fooling yourselves. It’s like you ingore all the horrible things Ahmadinejad has said and promised so that you can come up with an anti-Bush stance on this too? Give me a break.

If Bush used floss in public, you people would all be declaring floss to be wrong and evil.

Posted by: Matt at February 14, 2007 10:22 AM
Comment #208155

tomh-
Actions speak louder than words. If our actions are screwed up, if we cannot get things right in the real world, then any propaganda victories we have are fruitless. We cannot prevent our enemies from making up shit to say about us, or from interpreting our actions to suit their purposes.

The best course of action is that which actually deals with the problems at hand. Our problem in Iraq is that we failed. We either admit that failure, or we will be consumed by it.

I wouldn’t have said this three years ago, but three years ago, the situation had not yet decayed to the point of civil war. If you think we can win, then tell me whether or not you think that our forces can create peace among the warring sectarian groups. If they can’t, we don’t have the means to win the war, and its pointless to proceed, and only make the defeat worse.

I do not relish the idea that others may celebrate our defeat. It will be painful. I would rather, though, that they they celebrate a lesser victory on their part than a greater one, that we not grind our military to a halt and compromise our position as a great power further, and give our enemies more to celebrate. Additionally, like I said in a post about a month agoo, I would like us to redeploy troops to improver our prospects for permanently destroying the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. I personally have no intent for us to fall back in the face of our real enemies, of the real threats out there. I would just as soon see us rebound from the awful waste of Iraq, rather than remain in our current pitiful position.

We do not have to declare defeat in the War on al-Qaeda to admit defeat in Iraq. Only the Bush Administration’s foolish fixation on conflating those two problems has lead people to such a hopeless conclusion. Bush made this a central front in the war on terror through his errors. It’s time to pick a better battlefield.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 14, 2007 9:06 PM
Comment #208162

matt-
Ahmedinejad has weak public support, so long as we’re not upping the ante by making threatening gestures in Iran’s direction. The man has given his public enough rope to hang him with. I advise that we lay off the threats and let him bluster himself and the Mullahs even more into irrelevance. I mean, this is a guy who gets mobbed when he shows up to make a speech at a university.

It’s not about Bush hatred, it’s about Bush neglecting the opportunities that do exist, while seeking the ones that don’t. We can make Iran less of a threat without going to war, without appeasement.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 14, 2007 9:33 PM
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