Case for Persian Detente

War with Iran? To punish their inflammatory rhetoric about Israel? For pursuing nuclear power like India has? For aiding and abetting their Shi’a brethren in Iraq? Are we kidding?

First let's distinguish that Iran and Iraq are two different countries distinguishable by more than one consonant in their name. Iraqis are 77% Arab, Iranians are 51% Persian and only 3% Arab. They may share a common religion, Iraq is 60-65% Shi'a, Iran 89% Shi'a, but Iran is roughly twice as populous as Iraq. (source; the CIA World Factbook)

So they have a theocratic president who denies the holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Isn't that standard Jihadist fare in the region? Are we going to war with every theocracy that uses ancient religious claims to territories, then wishes to cleanse all but their own from their sacred soil?

They are pursuing "civilian" nuclear power. OK, cause for concern but how have we treated the issue elsewhere? Despite not signing the nuclear non'proliferation treaties, we are entering a partnership with India. We've been trying to use isolation and pariah status against North Korea, but in the end we’re engaging them with trade incentives. Let's apply a bit of what we've learned to the Iran situation.

We accuse Iran of underwriting unrest in the Middle East and aiding the Iraq insurgency, yet we've had tangible evidence of endless overt troublemaking by Syria for years and years and we don't seem willing to confront them forcefully. Let's at least be consistent and apply measures that are commensurate with the violations of acceptable conduct.

We've faced fundamental ideological opponents before, and we can learn from what worked - and what didn't. Isolation and embargo don't work; engagement does. We've never accomplished much in roughly 50 years of isolation in Cuba. We've made the Cubans suffer, but only entrenched the political situation.

But look to successes like China and Russia. What worked was a combination of engagement and pressure. Detente enabled an opening of economic relationships and a realization in oppressive regimes that trade was in their interest. Trade and more open communication lead to productivity. Iran has public debt of roughly 25% of their GDP - that’s leverage. My quick browse of the internet doesn't show who holds that debt, but Iran has incentives to increase productivity and work with the economies of world - not against them.

I find any talk of war against Iran to be shamefully alarmist and impractical. Our interests are not served by the discussion, and our military is not up to the challenge. Let's work to find moderate elements and build a detente with Iran - not because we're not ready to defeat them militarily, but because it's the right thing to do.

Michael Smith, Republican Candidate for President

Posted by Michael Smith at February 21, 2007 4:43 PM
Comments
Comment #209209

Michael, to compare Iran’s pursuit of nukes to India is just not even close. The world community has agreed that Iran shouldn’t have nukes and they are constantly defying them. I don’t remember the leader in India denying that the “holocaust ever existed”. Not to mention, the constant aiding and sponsoring of terrorism. Given their history, there’s no reason they need to have nuclear power. None. They haven’t shown they’re even a little bit responsible.


And, by the way, if you’re so worried about us going to war with Iran, don’t worry. The press is doing enough (once again) to “leak” our (possible) defenses against them. It’s just so sickening to see how propaganda is being used against us towards our enemies and possible enemies.

Posted by: rahdigly at February 21, 2007 6:00 PM
Comment #209212

Rahdigly,

Given India’s historical posture toward Pakistan, I think the comparison stands.

Posted by: Michael Smith at February 21, 2007 6:12 PM
Comment #209214

Not to mention Pakistan’s historical posture against India.

Posted by: Rocky at February 21, 2007 6:35 PM
Comment #209217

Oh yeah, I see the correlation. Whatever. Iran’s not getting nukes, people. Not as long as their are “Jews in the desert”.

Posted by: rahdigly at February 21, 2007 6:39 PM
Comment #209218

rahdigly, the only reason we are giving India nuclear weapons now is because we think we can use them as leverage against China.

If you think about it, what other reason exists to sell nuclear weapons to a country that refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty?

But I do at least agree that more nuclear weapons in the world is not a good thing.

Posted by: Zeek at February 21, 2007 6:46 PM
Comment #209219

Smith-
“I find any talk of war against Iran to be shamefully alarmist and impractical.”

So, who of importance is talking about it? Romney? Clinton? Gore? Dr. Phil?

(BTW, I find the Democrat position of condemning the troops fighting in Iraq more shameful.)

Posted by: Don at February 21, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #209224

Don,

Who’s threatening Iran? George W. Bush has in myriad small ways. I’ll admit the evidence is somewhat circumstantial, but we should have the debate before we leap into the abyss. When President Bush called Iran part of the “axis of evil” the implication was certainly not friendly. His recent accusation that Iran supplied explosives to the Iraqi insurgents was overstated, then backed off when Gen. Pace clarified that the link to the Iranian government was missing. We now see an aircraft carrier battle group arriving in what seems like a buildup of forces. Together with reports of “contingency” planning, the pattern of demonizing and inflating the intelligence is troubling.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been working the diplomatic front. That should remain our primary focus.

Democrats condemning the troops? I see where they condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Is that something that Republicans should be in favor of?

Posted by: Michael Smith at February 21, 2007 7:41 PM
Comment #209228

We have two carrier groups off Iran, the Stennis and Eisenhower. I doubt that fills the Iranians with warm, fuzzy feelings, especially if we recall this incident:

“Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai. On Sunday July 3, 1988, the aircraft flying IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes between Bandar Abbas and Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children. The Vincennes was inside Iranian territorial waters at the time of the shoot-down.”

Although we are fighting two land wars in the region, Fallon, a naval admiral, has been placed in charge of CENTCOM. It is highly unusual, unless naval forces have something in mind.

In additiona, a marine group centered around the USS Bataan is also there.

We have deployed Patriot missiles to allies in the region. Last I checked, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan presents that kind of threat to anyone in the region.

Additional US troops are being deployed to Iraq, despite the recommendations of the ISG. This was supported by General Petraeus, but the idea originated with the American Enterprise Group, AEI. This same group advocates bombing Iran. Bush has made no secret that he takes advice from AEI.

A laughably inept, anonymous briefing given in Bagdhad suggested the Iranians at the “highest levels” were responsible for killing American troops.

Is war with Iran an incredibly stupid idea? Of course.

But we have been down this road before with the Bush administration, and started a war based on pretexts, misinformation, and outright lies. It may be alarmist, but the Bush administration is highly alarming.

Posted by: phx8 at February 21, 2007 8:04 PM
Comment #209229

Amazingly enough, diplomacy, which has worked for years, has now been eschewed.
Saber rattling is now the method of choice.

Well, I suppose even saber rattling is preferential to pre-emptive invasions.

Posted by: Rocky at February 21, 2007 8:05 PM
Comment #209231

India (or even Pakistan) having nukes is very different for one simple reason - they have them. It does not follow that because they have them that everyone should get in on it.

Pakistan managed to hide its program until they surprised everybody by testing a bomb. India developed one many years ago. It is only now, after many years, that we are again cooperating on nuclear issues.

The U.S. is not trying to keep Iran from having nuclear power. We have specifically offered the possibility of civilian nuclear power and the Iranians have rejected it.

There is a difference between the cases of the Soviet Union, China and Iran. When the Soviet Union or China were in their most agressive stages, we did use isolation, but China and the Soviet Union were in a different league from Iran. Iran is at best a regional power. It is not an appropriate focus of the kind of bilateral concentration we were able and needed to devote to China or the USSR. Think of it. During the Cold War we devoted fantastic resources to the Soviet Union. It was the focus of almost every aspect of our foreign policy. We have bigger fish. The kind of across the board engagement with Iran is not possible. Iran is today’s problem. It is urgent. In the long run it will be less important than China, India, Russia, the EU and many other individual countries and regions.

All that said, we are applying the same sorts of pressures we did to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Iran is close to collapse. This provides, as all collapses, a dangerous opportunity.

Posted by: Jack at February 21, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #209232

Smith-
“I’ll admit the evidence is somewhat circumstantial…”

Duh!
The last time someone of importance made assumptions on circumstantial evidence we went to war with Iraq. I don’t think we should base any credence to circumstantial evidence in this case either.

(Condemn the war the troops are fighting and you are also condemning the troops who fight it. You can’t have it both ways. We should win this war and then get out, since the only other choice is to “run like a scared child” from the fight we started. Both Republicans and Democrats started this war by voting to allow Bush to do it. We need the political will to finish what WE started.)

Posted by: Don at February 21, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #209234

Don,

We did finish it. We went in to remove Saddam from power and we did just that. This new war we are trying unsuccessfully to prevent is a long overdue war that was created by the west when the country was originally created. We have no business trying to hold together a country that has no real reason to exist as it does today. There is nothing to unite them and everything to divide them. Why are we still trying to make them get along?

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 21, 2007 9:07 PM
Comment #209237

Iran help support the US backed government in Afganistan. It was at their suggestion that the word”democracy” was put in the Afgan constitution. They have not attacked a country in over 200 years. They took American hostages during a tumultious period in their history. They did NOT cut their heads off. They are a signatory to the NPT and have not chosen to withdraw from it.They MAY be trying to build a bomb. If they do they would be the third nuclear power in the region adter Isreal and the US.Their aid to groups classified as terrorist by the US has not been to Al Quida but rather to groups like Hammas that many consider to be insurgencies fighting occupations.There is a difference. Some consider the IRA in the same light.Working with them and perhaps some day having good relations with them could be an important step toward actually ending the war on terror.

Jack
Once again we get to it. If we really wanted to strike a blow at Iran and probably topple their regime the best way to do it is to immediatly start lowering our forign oil consumption. I still like the tariff concept myself.Could even have it floating to keep the price at about 60$ a barrel.

Posted by: BillS at February 21, 2007 9:26 PM
Comment #209243

BillS,
Oil closed above $60 today.

Jack,
The cause for concern is the Bush administration reliance upon military force as a solution. It has been advocated by PNAC & the AEI in the past. Neocons/Likudniks maintain positions of power in the Bush administration, including Abram Schulsky. He runs the Iranian Directorate for Cheney, similar to the OSP on Iraq run by Feith, funneling an independent pipeline of intelligence to the OVP. Part of the reason Cheney sounds so utterly disassociated from reality is that he is not receiving the same information. These people, these Neocons, do not share the same vision of the world as most Americans. Bush, Cheney, PNAC, the AEI, and the various Neocons/Likudniks envision the use of the American military to enforce their vision, which centers around oil and the agressive protection of Israel. They have made it abundantly clear that Iran is in their sights, and that does not mean mere deterrence or encirclement.

What makes the situation in Iran so frightening is that, once again, US military might has been positioned for a bombing campaign.

According to the UN, Iran is four to eight years away from developing a nuclear weapon, if at all. According to the report provided by the previous head of intelligence, Negroponte, Iran is five to ten years away. The problem does not even qualify for the word “urgent.”

We have time, and the next administration, or even the one after that, should be given the opportunity to deal with this. Their is a good chance the Iranians will change without our (overt) help, without some sort of disastrous collapse. The current administration has a proven record of incompetence and a penchant for getting it wrong. The last thing anyone wants to see is the Bush administration bomb Iran, or for a miscalculation to spark an unnecessary war.

Rhinehold,
We are calling the British timetable for withdrawal a “success.” Saddam Hussein is gone. I see no reason why we cannot enjoy similar “success.”

Partition… well, at the time I commented on Watchblog that the Iraqi elections were a disaster, and that the vote should have been a plebiscite on partition. Oh well. It will probably be the de facto result anyway.

Posted by: phx8 at February 21, 2007 9:57 PM
Comment #209244

Don-
The soldiers didn’t start this war. It wasn’t their decision to fight it in the first place. Why should we hold anything against them? The mission was screwed up, not the soldiers.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 21, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #209283

Phx8

We do not need to debate invasion of Iran because there is no invasion of Iran. I believe all the talk is just cooked up by Bush haters and probably the Iranians themselves in an attempt to hamstring U.S. policy.

We should employ pressure, as we are doing and work with multilateral partners, as we are doing. We shoud also be prepared for various possibilites, as we are doing and try to reach out to the Iranian people and the Iranian diaspora, as we are doing.

Right now, the Bush administration is doing everything it should be doing and doing everything as it should.

Stick to those facts. We can talk about your fearful hypothetical if it ever happens. I would not support an invasion of Iran under anything like the current conditions (never say never). If the President does it, you and I will be on the same side and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2007 8:56 AM
Comment #209291

Jack

“Phx8

We do not need to debate invasion of Iran because there is no invasion of Iran. I believe all the talk is just cooked up by Bush haters and probably the Iranians themselves in an attempt to hamstring U.S. policy.”

I can understand party devotion when one is dealing with reputable people. In the eyes of most this administration is anything but. Therein lies the problem for us so called Bush haters as you so freely refer to us. These people have a track record and we all, including neocons, know it is not up to par. It is not hatred that drives our thoughts but fear of what foolish endeavour they may pursue next. Once again it comes down to one simple word. TRUST

If the issue of Iraq had been honestly presented and adequately debated before the fact, perhaps we would not be having this debate today.

“Right now, the Bush administration is doing everything it should be doing and doing everything as it should.”

This is strictly a matter of opinion and I do respect it. However there are many of us who believe a little diplomacy would server the world better than threat. And yes I do know that a direct threat has not been given. It is all the subtle moves which indicate the direction of this strike first think later adminstration.

Posted by: ILdem at February 22, 2007 10:37 AM
Comment #209294
If the issue of Iraq had been honestly presented and adequately debated before the fact, perhaps we would not be having this debate today.

It was, it was the outcome you didn’t want or like but there was no ‘dishonest’ presentation of facts. I know you like to think and say there were but can only point to one report that is often misrepresented and has been supported by two different investigative bodies.

BTW, please stop peddling the notion that most people gave Bush a chance and he screwed it up… There were calls for his impeachment before he was even sworn in and I don’t think many dems have yet called him a legitimately elected president to this day. I didn’t vote for him and never liked him much, but the lack of any kind of respect that he ever received by the democrats in this country was sickening to me as an American…

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 22, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #209321

ILdem

Threat is an important part of diplomacy. Without it you just have people talking. If they already agree, they are just discussing details. If not, they will never get there.

I am just saying re Iran that Phx8 and others are drawing frightening pictures of things that have not happened. I do not believe there is any indication that they will. IF it happens, we will need to deal with it. But it is a low probability event.

Re Iraq - Rhinelhold has a point. There was an interesting article by VDHanson today. He says that the “problem” with Iraq is that we are not doing well.

When the Dems voted for the war, they were largely doing so on intelligence and experience from the 1990s (i.e. Clinton’s time) and they were following what most people thought was a clear case. We (almost all of us, and most Dems too) were overconfident in the intelligence.

The proper response for those who oppose the war is to say, “We went into war based on what we thought was true. Now we believe in the light of subsequent events that it was a mistake and that the cost of remaining in Iraq exceeds the cost of pulling out.”

You could have an honest debate about that. Instead, Dems have to pretend there was wholesale deception and that they were too dumb not to be fooled. It makes a fool or a crook out of everyone involved.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2007 3:51 PM
Comment #209345

Rhinehold

” If the issue of Iraq had been honestly presented and adequately debated before the fact, perhaps we would not be having this debate today.

It was, it was the outcome you didn’t want or like but there was no ‘dishonest’ presentation of facts. I know you like to think and say there were but can only point to one report that is often misrepresented and has been supported by two different investigative bodies.

BTW, please stop peddling the notion that most people gave Bush a chance and he screwed it up… There were calls for his impeachment before he was even sworn in and I don’t think many dems have yet called him a legitimately elected president to this day. I didn’t vote for him and never liked him much, but the lack of any kind of respect that he ever received by the democrats in this country was sickening to me as an American…

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe the investigative committees were republican appointed and headed. No independant investigative committee was allowed. This very pretext of self investigation lends an air of suspicion to the entire process. I am sorry but I am not convinced as of yet. So long as there is doubt I will reserve my final opinion until if and when an independant investigation is done.

I do not believe I said anything about giving Bush his chances. But since you bring it up I did give him a chance from the begining of his first term. Unfortunately he very quickly displayed to all that he was interested in pursuing only right wing agendas and offered very little interest in dealing with and offering compromise where dems are concerned. As for Iraq he has had many chances to get it right or at least try to get it right. He has flat out refused advice and direction from those offering. Thus he has made this mess his and his alone.

AS for respect it must be earned. This applies to all no matter their place of importance in society.

Posted by: ILdem at February 22, 2007 7:10 PM
Comment #209354

Jack

ILdem

“Threat is an important part of diplomacy. Without it you just have people talking. If they already agree, they are just discussing details. If not, they will never get there.”

The problem Jack is that there is not and has not been any talking. I was a union steward for 18 years. During that time I sat in on 7 contract negotiations. Never once did either side begin the negotiations with a threat or even the hint of a threat. We talked about our concerns, each side presented their demands and then proceeded to negotiate. Only when the negotiations were at a stalemate and we could not find compromise did either side counter with threat. I believe this oredered process is what most people percieve as diplomacy. I do realize that union negotiations do not compare to world affairs. But the principles are the same. Can you honestly say that this administration has exhibited any of the aforementioned where the matter of Iran or Iraq is concerned?

“You could have an honest debate about that. Instead, Dems have to pretend there was wholesale deception and that they were too dumb not to be fooled. It makes a fool or a crook out of everyone involved.”

The key differnce in our reasoning is that we dems are not pretending. This is what I and most truly believe. I gather that this insight is probably unbelievable and unfathomable to you. I can understand that as apparently you truly believe the opposite. I do not know that any of us can ever come to terms on these issues. If we are to be made fools and crooks so be it. Lets swallow some pride, admit our mistakes, and begin the process of taking this country in a positive direction.

Posted by: ILdem at February 22, 2007 7:40 PM
Comment #209361

ILdem

The difference in your union case is that you had a basic framework and you problably did not fear management would kill you with a car bomb.

We also have the problem of Iranian leadership and their incentives. Our big bargaining point is to remove the threats and sanctions. If we do that immediately, we got nothing. Returning to the union negotiation, it would be as though you went into the talks saying that under no circumstances would you strike or even stage a slowdown and you would depend on the good will of management to give you what they thought was fair.

I say again, however, I do not expect an invasion. It is like your threat of strike. You do not give it away, but you are not eager to use it.

Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #209362

I think the point we are missing as far as diplomacy goes, is that it’s nothing in and of itself. Diplomacy is generally just a way of telling other governments what your plans are in terms of your policy if they enact certain policies. It’s about leverage, where ever the sovereignty of your country and your other relationships can afford it to you.

People think the economic sanctions do not work because of our experience with Iraq. However, in Iraq’s case we had a stubborn ruler who could intimidate his country concerning the economic situation. Iran’s rulers are none so secure, nor would the people stand for them doing that. That’s our leverage, and if you look at events withing Iran, you can see it’s potential. Ahmedinejad is hugely unpopular because he promised economic reforms and turned around and became a provocative blowhard.

We should take note of the Iranian people’s wish not to have war, as well. If they grasp after possibility, we may be able, by pulling back on our military threats, to be able to bring public pressure against the more warlike activities of their leaders.

I know what the Iranian leaders, in particular Ahmedinejad, have been saying. However, we should consider that it doesn’t take a person whose a real solid threat to utter those words any idiot can say them. Not every idiot, though, can back them up. If we back off a little bit, give the Iranian people some breathing room, they may prefer that this relaxation continue instead of the continued leadership of the idiot with the big mouth. It’s not wimpy to do things this way. It’s clever. It’s subtle. It’s also back up for you claims that you really just wanted peace all along, if it ever comes to the necessity for war. Bush’s problem in convincing the UN to go into Iraq was that Bush never gave any real sign that there was any other option for him than war.

If Ahmedinejad is truly able to make a threat of himself, we need the cover that he was the one who broke the peace instead of us. Iranians are fearful of the consequences of going to war, and if Ahmedinejad or others strike first, responsibility falls on them for the war.

We want our enemies responsible for breaking the peace. We want them to be the ones who have to answer the question from their population: why did you get us into this? If we start from there, it’s more likely that the tensions between the government and its people will undermine their war with the rest of the world. If we play that right, we’ll have the people of Iran doing the regime change, with the armies and other elements of their military converting their lines of command. From there, it might be possible to bring about a peace in both our nation’s favors.

Preventative war, though, will simply cause our enemies to multiply, and confirm the propaganda of those who paint us as aggressors. The enemy will always defame us, but if we have the truth on our side, the lies will be their weakness, rather than truth ours.

What we want here is not to destroy our enemies, but to weaken them. In the real world, you can’t destroy every enemy, but you can make things so hard, unpleasant, or unprofitable to do what you don’t want theme to do, that they desist in their behavior, or others put a stop to it themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 22, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #209373

Rhinehold,

I agree it’s past time to declare victory and get out of Iraq.

As to your Bush as Rodney Dangerfield speech, it made me laugh out loud. You respect this President? Why? Because he won an election? Respect IS earned. I respect his ability to align financiers by selling out policy, but that isn’t something I really respect in a political leader.

Posted by: gergle at February 22, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #209407

Jack

“ILdem

The difference in your union case is that you had a basic framework and you problably did not fear management would kill you with a car bomb.”

As I see it Jack your analogy is inaccurate. The problem being is that you are presenting Iran as management. We are the military and economic superpower. I believe that under your scenario that would make us management. Iran is the one under threat of shock and awe. It is in their best interests to talk to us. And I do believe I heard maybe just last week that option was presented by the adversary and refused a short while back by our executive branch. We are the ones who should be offering a framework of negotiation before presenting a threat.

Putting all the latter aside who really believes that Iran is an immeadiate and serious threat to our shores? They may be a threat to other countries in the middle east. But lets face it they are not the only country in that region with military forces. I do feel it is necesary for us to exhibit a bit of detente as Michael Smith puts it. At this juncture in time I believe it is in our best interests to show the world that we are capable peace brokers intstead of thoughtless war mongers.

“We also have the problem of Iranian leadership and their incentives. Our big bargaining point is to remove the threats and sanctions. If we do that immediately, we got nothing. Returning to the union negotiation, it would be as though you went into the talks saying that under no circumstances would you strike or even stage a slowdown and you would depend on the good will of management to give you what they thought was fair.”

The sanctions from what I understand are working on the people of their country. They can be effectivly wore down in time. Most say that eventually they will turn on the leadership effectively replacing them in the process. And from what I understand there is no short term nuclear threat. As for the union negotitiations we would not talk slow downs, walk outs or lock outs until all other avenues had been explored. That is never in the best interests of either party.

And sorry about the lack of brevity. I guess like Dan I am a bit long winded and could probably be considered a nit wit. ;) (not to imply that Dan is a nit wit)

Posted by: ILdem at February 23, 2007 9:52 AM
Comment #209432

Ildem

I am not trying to set a shortness standard. I just do not have the attention span or time to read long posts containing repetitive material. You are do not do this. Nobody does it all the time. I guess the rule of thumb would be that you should never cut and paste anything you have written before unless you are addressing exactly the same question.

I put us on the union side because I was making the analogy to your experience. In fact, in fact, the negotiations between two sovereign countries is more like two armed guys negotiating in the middle of the woods. They are not sure what the rules should be. Each could hurt the other and neither trusts his partner. Add that they are competing over one fish, which they really cannot share.

Sometimes there is nothing to talk about and/or the context needs to be changed before you can get a good outcome.

Posted by: Jack at February 23, 2007 1:07 PM
Comment #209457

Jack

Sorry for being misleading Jack. I was merely trying to instill a bit of light hearted humor. Apparently not very effectively though. I guess I am truly a nit wit.(humor) Depending on what I have going on I to tend to have a problem with superlong repetitive posts. I do admire Dan for his management style presentations and the simple but very effective method of getting his ideas across.

“I put us on the union side because I was making the analogy to your experience. In fact, in fact, the negotiations between two sovereign countries is more like two armed guys negotiating in the middle of the woods. They are not sure what the rules should be. Each could hurt the other and neither trusts his partner. Add that they are competing over one fish, which they really cannot share.”

To start things off it would be in the best interests of the two armed guys to maybe sit down have a beer together and discuss what each feels the rules of discussion should be. Next they should attempt to discern what the concerns of each party is to be sure that they are talking about the same matters and each knows where the other stands on the issues. From there if the posturing goes well talking about maybe sharing that fish can start. Of course if one party is not willing to talk then the other is left with no option other than to take a defensive and possibly offensive stance depending on how bad they need that damned fish.

They want sanctions lifted. But I am not clear what it is they have to offer us. Their nuclear program poses no immeadiate threat. They have not threatened us or anyone else for that matter that I am aware of. Maybe we are concerned about keeping them away from Iraqs oil fields. I can not see them as a real threat to us or our way of life.

Posted by: ILdem at February 23, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #209489

Stephen D -
“Why should we hold anything against them?”

First, since this was not the focus of this thread I placed my thoughts on this in parentheses.

Second, this is what I keep asking the Democrats (and a few Republicans), but they have no good answer. I agree with you, it is horrible what the Democrats are doing to the troops. My point is that the Democrats are trying to have it both ways. It doesn’t work.

If I said I hate citris so much that I think everybody ought to stop buying citris. And then I said I love citris growers. You would say I had lost my marbles. I know the Dems argue that it was the wrong war for the wrong reason and therefore we should run home, but that reasoning denies the reality of our present purpose there (now that we are there). If we can stabilize the region and carefully train and turn over control, the region will have stability for a long time.

The stupidity of the quick withdrawal “plan” SHOULD be obvious to most. The reasonability of a slow pull-out, as the Iraqi military develops, is the obvious honorable plan. Those advocating the quick “run away plan” are NOT supporting or honoring the troops.

Posted by: Don at February 23, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #209496

Rhinehold,

We did finish it. We went in to remove Saddam from power and we did just that.

I disagree. You didn’t just do that.
You also *stay* after having removed Saddam from power. And since badly failed in every occupant duties.

This new war we are trying unsuccessfully to prevent is a long overdue war that was created by the west when the country was originally created.

Indeed. You knew it, I knew it, everbody enough informed knew it, even Bush could have known it.
But still choosed to open the Pandora Box.

We have no business trying to hold together a country that has no real reason to exist as it does today.

You break it. You own it. The fact the box will have break one day doesn’t leave your breaker responsability. Sorry.
You should have avoid entering Iraq Nation Building business when you still had the time to do it. You were warmed.

Your leader said he knew better. He don’t. But he put your country in Iraq Nation Building *business* (and business is really the word about this silly war). Deal with it now. Face the consequences.

Whatever the choice taken tomorrow, the consequences wont be all pinky, I bet.


Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at February 23, 2007 9:38 PM
Comment #209518

Don

” If we can stabilize the region and carefully train and turn over control, the region will have stability for a long time.”

A very big and questionalbe IF at this time. The only people declaring reasonable progress on the issue are Bush and Cheney with most experts agreeing that chances of success anytime in the near or distant future by way of the current plan are slim. The nation has slipped into civil war. Until that issue is settled no real progress or stability can be achieved. Can you tell us how long that civil war will last and what the outcome will be? The Bush administration refuses to set a timetable for exit strategies. They refuse to accept good advice and pursue diplomatic avenues with nieghboring countres. In essence they are continuing with the same failed tactics. This tells us that they have no viable plan for success and no viable plan for exit.

I am not a Bush fan because I think he is a very poor leader. It is because of his poor leadership that we are in this mess. (this is not Bush hating it is an honest opinion) However the fact that he is a poor leader and that he put is there is not why I think we need to get out. It is because no one can provide adequate anserws to the above concerns. In the eyes of most democrats and now a good percentage of republicans the lack of a clear path and no time frame combined with the loss of life and costs are simply not worth the effort.

And no, none of this reflects badly on the troops. It emphasises failed policy and poor judgement by the people who sent them and continue to keep them mired in the middle of a rapidly deteriorating situation.

Posted by: ILdem at February 24, 2007 9:51 AM
Comment #209536

ILDem -
“Can you tell us how long that civil war will last and what the outcome will be? The Bush administration refuses to set a timetable for exit strategies.”

Yes. The “civil war” that isn’t a civil war will probably last forever in that region. But general stability can be achieved and probably will be if the U.S. can hold on for a while longer.

Your second statement is basically a Dem talking- point, not a fact. Bush has told us many times what the exit strategy is. The Dems haven’t liked his answer. We will exit as soon as the Iraqi military and police forces are trained and equipped to handle the situation on their own. AND this strategy is already having much effect. The British (who patrol the south) are planning to draw-down their troop forces because the Iraqis have most of the control in that region. The north also is basically self-sufficient as well. Baghdad is in the process of being turned over to Iraqi military control as we speak. Other hot spots are now being patrolled by a mix of U.S. and Iraqi forces. Check points are now being manned by the Iraqis. So… you see the plan is a good one and it IS working.

If the United States pulls out too rapidly everything that has been done so far will fail. Why would Democrat leaders want this result??? You know the answer!

Posted by: Don at February 24, 2007 11:48 AM
Comment #209592

Don

I guess as to whether or not a civil war is in progress in Iraq must be a matter of opinion. Most believe it is. The rest may be correct or possibly in denial.

Bush’s mission has changed several times since its inception. He has givein us a rather vague view of what conditions he percieves as good enough to leave. He has not given the Iraqis or us a clear vision of how long this endeavour should or will take. He will not make a comitment to any plan for exit. The reason being because this conflict is out of control and he has no anserws, only hope.

Todays hotspot in the region may not be so tomorow. But may be a hotspot again the day after. They seem to dissapear and reapear over and over again. If I were to listen to neocons then yes I would think all is well. And you fail to mention that many republicans no longer believe in this cause. So please do not exclude them when you place blame.

It is not that we are not getting anserws we like. It is that we are not getting clear, constructive and viable anserws. I have given you reasons for my views. We could argue this forever and never agree. I will not persuade you and you will not persuade me. As I said earlier, in my view and the views of most, it is no longer worth the cost in lives and money.

Posted by: ILdem at February 24, 2007 4:36 PM
Comment #209593

Don

” The British (who patrol the south) are planning to draw-down their troop forces because the Iraqis have most of the control in that region.”

Sorry, I forgot to address this one. As to why the British are drawing down is highly debatable. Cheney’s positive spin says it is a good thing. But then most of what he says is exactly that, SPIN. Because of integrity issues everything he says is to be taken with a grain of salt. The British are and have been under intense pressure to withdraw by their general population for a very long time now. I tend to believe that this and degrading conditions are the main motivators behind their withdrawal. Since things are so good in the North and the South we could certainly use their assistance in the central region. But it does not appear that offer is being made.

Posted by: ILdem at February 24, 2007 4:47 PM
Comment #209607

Don-
I think you may be mistaken about what most Democrats think. You’re under the impression that you have a bunch of Democrats thinking their soldiers are a bunch of baby-killers. From what I’ve seen, their opinions are more like mine. I’m not an anomaly. I represent, in that respect, the average Democrat.

I think the danger in linking support for a policy and support for troops, is that the troops cannot necessarily be candid about whether a policy is wrong. These people are disciplined, for good reason, not to be insubordinate. Like the saying goes, they’re there to protect democracy, not practice it.

The President might not be the decider he is for everybody else, but he’s certainly the decider for the troops, and being such, they are obligated to follow his legal orders, and not go out of their way to contradict him in public about it.

Presidents and defense policymakers can make mistakes, but as members of the military, these people are obligated to follow through. If we want to resolve these problems, It’s best for us to observe our proper place in the chain of command: above the president.

That’s where Democrats have been sending our complaints: to our subordinates. Unfortunately, we have a rather insubordinate president. Despite majority disapproval for the war and the way he’s carrying it out, he’s dead set on doing things his way. He’s used the troops as hostages to his politics, claiming that our criticism of his policy is a betrayal of them. But the American people have done no such thing, and should be accused of no such thing by their own elected officials. We should not be blamed by our subordinates for their actions. The past election was about relieving some of those subordinates of their command. Right now, it’s too much trouble to relieve the president of his command, but that might change if he decides to invade Iran.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 24, 2007 5:58 PM
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