Third Party & Independents Archives

May 08, 2006

Iran Setting Trap for Bush?

Independent: World News reports: “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written to George W. Bush proposing “new solutions” to their differences in the first letter from an Iranian leader to an American president in 27 years, government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said today.”

Now this is a clever tactic. Knowing full well that Bush will resent any counsel from his adversary, is Ahmadinegad setting the trap for Bush to appear to the Arab and Muslim world unwilling to negotiate, preferring sanctions and war to diplomacy. Very, very clever. Will Bush take the bait? I suspect he might. Then again, maybe one of his aides will read this article and alert our President to the potential trap. Hah! (as Chris Matthews might say).

Posted by David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 10:21 AM
Comments
Comment #146162

Yeah, I thought this was pretty clever. I’m in the middle of Bush’s Dad’s book, and he had to contend with the same kind of thing from Saddam. He was successful in spotting the traps and keeping the UN-backed coalition together.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bush Jr. botches it.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 8, 2006 10:36 AM
Comment #146164

David:

Since you are in the mood to counsel, what actions would you suggest Bush take in order to avoid “taking the bait”?

In your opinion, should Bush respond to the letter, ignore it, refer it on the the UN, etc?

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at May 8, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #146167

Bush no longer has any real alternatives except war. You can’t go from Axis of Evil to Kumbaya that easily.

I agree with the need to attack Iran. We must attack now to save the worse threat later.

Posted by: Aldous at May 8, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #146169

JBOD, if he’s smart, he will negotiate and make the negotiation terms public. But that kind of openness and honesty with the American public has not been in his reportoire, so I have some doubts as to his ability to sidestep the trap.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 11:08 AM
Comment #146171

David:

Thanks.

There are many who think the US should allow the UN to broker issues such as this. After all, the UN Security Council is involved in making the demands of Iran.

Seems to me that some people want America involved only when they want America involved. For instance, take Darfur. The UN has been handling this situation but now George Clooney, Nancy Pelosi and others want America to take a stronger role. Its hard for me to understand how such people determine the cases where America should and shouldn’t be involved—seems to me its based on THEIR personal preferences.

What’s your take on that, and your take on whether America should simply defer Iran to the UN, rather than taking an active role?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #146175

A Practical Suggestion for Ending the Wars and Enmities in the Middle East


Does anybody really believe that Iran is a treat to the world peace?
If you have been programmed by the CIA and Pentagon controlled media for a YES answer, please read on.
Aren’t the U.S.A., the British, and the French governments that should be taken to the Security Council for non-compliance with the N.P.T by illegally arming the 60-year old state of Israel with nukes and related technology? Israel (a U.S. ally) has not signed the NPT and has about 250 nuclear warheads! Not to mention non-compliance with article five of the NPT, requiring the nuclear countries for gradual reduction and elimination of nuclear warheads, knowing that our country has admitted working on new generation of nuclear warheads.
It was the U.S.A. that used nukes in a won war just for the sake of blackmailing the world and for performing a real testing on a real nation for some real results. Don’t forget that the state of Israel has invaded all its neighbors (with no exception) in the past forty years. Also, remember that the USA has illegally (without U.N. permission) invaded sovereign countries like Cuba, Vietnam, Panama, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq. As a result of these aggressions, millions of innocent people have died and many more have suffered. Never forget the million tons of chemical bombs dropped on the civilians in Vietnam. The USA has used constantly WMD in all of its important wars of aggression, e.g. illegally using the depleted uranium weapons (DU) in Iraq since 1991 in huge quantities (officially admitting to 300 tons but to some reports more than 1000 tons).
In a UN resolution the DU has been classified as WMD. The latter is enough for the war crimes tribunal to be held instantly for the USA and the British governments.
Surprisingly, Iran has never invaded another country in its long history, and has never used weapons of mass destruction or any other illegal weapons, even when it was invaded and partly occupied by then U.S. ally “Saddam Hussein”.
I believe that for those of us living in the USA, it is very important to have different sources of information so that we wouldn’t be fooled again by misinformation and disinformation campaign led by the CIA. Getting some of our information from Iranian papers and sites is simple and essential. Doing so helps our analysis capabilities for better judgments.
All this mess we are facing with is about Israel. I found out that what Ahmadinejad had said about Israel was the exact words of late Ayatollah Khomeini, and he was just quoting him. Besides, according to the Iranian constitution, it’s the supreme leader and not the president who has the last say on basic state policies. It is interesting to know that Iran’s supreme leader officially has declared (in past ten years) that Iran does not believe in eradicating the state of Israel or any use of force against it. He rather says that the Palestinian refugees should be allowed to go back to their homes in Israel (basic human rights) and a national referendum to be held under the world supervision for the future of Israel (practicing democracy). He added that every Jew, Christian, and Muslim should have his vote accounted for.
This democratic course of action will indeed solve all these problems. What ever the outcome, the world will support it and the sixty year old (and never ending) conflict will cease without the need to nuke anyone and therefore no need to add to our already dark record of crimes against humanity.
We allowed the refugees to come back to Iraq and then conducted a fair election there. We can repeat the same process in Israel
It is disgraceful for our great nation that our low IQ president has acquired the humiliating reputation of Public Enemy No.1 worldwide.

Posted by: sam at May 8, 2006 11:21 AM
Comment #146179

JBOD, I have always contended that Iran is a regional problem for Europe and the Middle East. Therefore, it has always been my stand that outside of the UN Security Council, the US should not be attempting to go the way of Iraq with Iran.

The Iranian terrorist threat doesn’t wash with me. There have always been terrorists and there will always be terrorists. If America is concerned about terrorists, America should secure her borders, first and foremost, against their entry. Eliminating all terrorists in the world is not possible, let alone cost effective compared to simply securing the US homeland against their intrusion. Nothing is 100% guranateed. But, we need to seek the most cost effective policies at this time of monumentally growing national debt threatening the well being of our citizens for decades to come.

I agree with you to some extent about how people choose their foreign affairs involvement preferences. The Sudan is a test of the UN’s efficacy. If the UN cannot diminsh the inhumanity in Sudan with the resources of most of the world’s nations, certainly the U.S. cannot without bankrupting its own resources.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 11:28 AM
Comment #146184

David-

I’ve always wanted the U.S. to state publically that they would abstain on any Security Council vote on Iran. That would force the Europeans to take the lead on this one…..

Posted by: George in SC at May 8, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #146188

David:

I don’t want us to go the way of Iraq with Iran at this point either. We do need, though, to be mindful of Clinton’s comments that often dictators (he referred specifically to Saddam) don’t negotiate or budge without force or the real threat of force.

With regard to Sudan, it seems to me the UN might finally decide to do something after the last grave has been dug. People are dying and the UN is debating whether its truly genocide or not. Whether the US could or could not do anything without bankrupting our own resources, it seems clear to me by now that the UN is either incapable or unwilling to do anything.

If the UN were as capable as people have been claiming for the past several years (regarding Iraq), the George Clooney’s wouldn’t need to be pushing for additional action. They’d be able to be sitting back congratulating the UN on its success.

Since Russia and China seem reluctant to authorize any decisive action regarding Sudan, it appears to me that the UN is in a stalemate, which appears to me the normal course of events for the UN. I wish it were otherwise, but I can’t see how to call it anything else.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #146189

George in SC, what a brilliant strategy that would have been. Good position, George, I just adopted it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #146190

JBOD, those are some really good questions. I’ve often wondered why the same people who loudly insist we had to act in Iraq to end Saddam’s violence against his own people are so quiet on the exact same situation in Sudan.

I have to agree with David — and Condoleezza Rice — on this one. The US should play a supporting role for the EU and the UN on Iran. Sure, we’ll supply the bulk of the military and logistics when we have to wipe Iran off the face of the Earth, but this isn’t particularly a US-Iran conflict. It’s broader than that.

BTW, I just bought a couple Persian rugs as investments. They may one day be regarded as important artifacts of the civilization that once occupied the smoking hole where Iran used to be.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 8, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #146192
it seems to me the UN might finally decide to do something

See, this kills me. The UN has no troops of its own. The UN asked for peacekeeping troops from its member nations, but none of them — including the US — have responded.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 8, 2006 11:53 AM
Comment #146196

JBOD, Iran’s President does not call the foreign policy shots for the Iranian nation from what I have been reading. Their cleric prime minister or whatever they call him, is the power in foreign affairs and domestic policy and he has been quite clear and consistent that Iran will not benefit from obtaining nuclear weapons. This appears to be an Iranian version of good cop, bad cop, with the Cleric outranking the bad cop President in terms of popular support of the people.

I just heard in the last week in a report also, that Iran’s President has the least support of the inner ruling Parliament and party of any preceding him. So, in my limited opinion (limited by a good deal of ignorance about Iran today), Ahmadinejad is neither a dictator (which implies he has control over the government and military) nor a serious threat to the U.S.

I won’t debate your assessment about the U.N. I am more hopeful than you that the U.N. is transition and will reform to better equip itself to fulfill its charter responsibilites. Your assessment of the U.N. as at least partially impotent with regard to Sudan, appears to be accurate for the moment. Their representative was just chased out by violence in Darfur last night.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #146200

AP, quite right about the UN member nation support. One more reason to remove the Bush/Cheney team at the earliest possible opportunity since they are at odds with the concept of other nations compromising their agenda and policies through the U.N. This precludes Bush/Cheney supporting the growth and fulfillment of the U.N. charter. I suspect it also precludes Bolton from successfully nurturing real reform in the U.N. empowering the U.N. to act decisively between conflicting nations in the world.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 12:14 PM
Comment #146206

AP:

So I would ask you then: People are being killed on a regular basis, and it has become a Holocaust in Africa. What has the UN accomplished in Darfur to limit or end the murders?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 12:24 PM
Comment #146208
What has the UN accomplished in Darfur to limit or end the murders?

The UN has condemned the violence and requested money, humanitarian aid, and peacekeeping forces.

The question is, JBOD, How have UN member nations responded to UN requests for the resources necessary to end the murders?

The UN has no executive power and no troops to enforce it even if it did. The onus is on the member nations — including the US — to respond. And as far as projecting and sustaining substantial military force in Africa, the US is the only nation capable of doing so.

Think through your expectations of the UN. Do you really want an independent UN with executive powers and the force to back it up? If not, then you have to agree that the only way something will get done in Darfur is if the US leads the way.

For my part, I like the UN best when the US leads. Bush Sr. and Clinton were masters at leading the UN. Bush Jr. is a failure.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 8, 2006 12:37 PM
Comment #146213

AP:

In short, the UN has ACCOMPLISHED nothing with regard to Darfur. And this after several years of discussion. If the UN is unable to forge a resolution that any of its members will participate in, then its worthless.

When the US has “led” the UN, people cry about how the US is dominating policy. When the US does not lead the UN, nothing happens. Lets get rid of the middleman then. If the UN is nothing without the US, then let them be nothing. IF they provide nothing but requests, they provide nothing.

I want a UN that can get things done. In my estimation, the only thing they are truly capable of is handwringing and writing resolutions that take hundreds of hours of haggling to write. Nothing actually gets done, but there is the great debate and the appearance of heightened activity. Meanwhile, they’ve saved not one life in Darfur with their documents and discussions.

If they cannot do more than nothing, they ARE nothing. And the world does not need them.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #146221

David,

Setting a trap for Bush is like giving the Coyote an improved ACME roadrunner killer.

jbod,

The world does need the UN. It just isn’t able to use it because of the mean pettiness of our rulers and their supporters.

Posted by: Dave at May 8, 2006 01:11 PM
Comment #146231

Dave:

I haven’t seen the UN be effective in so many situations. They did little to nothing in the Balkans to stop the genocide that was going on there. That was left to America and NATO.

They’ve done little in Liberia, Sudan, Rwanda etc. to stop the mass killings that have gone on there.

They’ve been accused of sex crimes in multiple places, like the Congo (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/UnitedNations/story?id=489306&page=1) and other countries (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42088). They’ve been involved in an Oil-for-Food scandal that showed petty greed and avarice on the part of UN administrators.

With this kind of track record, its pretty tough to blame all of the UN’s problems on others. I’ve shown a number of what I consider to be UN failings—perhaps you can show what you consider to be UN successes.

How do you rate the UN’s effectiveness with regard to the Balkans, Darfur, Rwanda, and Congo? What do you consider to be the UN’s greatest achievements in these parts of the world?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 01:54 PM
Comment #146264

I’m not blaming others. I’m saying;
a) the UN is a reflection of its members.
b) most of its members suck as examples of how gov’t should be, and
c) we used to lead by example. Now, we’re just another bully.
d) if you held Bush II to even half the standards you hold the UN then you’d be defending them wholeheartedly.
Once we stop talking, once we stop trying, once we start acting like “them”, there is no hope, there is only war. Thanks George.

Posted by: Dave at May 8, 2006 03:29 PM
Comment #146277

Dave:

I can’t help but notice that you didn’t provide any examples of what you consider to be UN successes or achievements. Perhaps you forgot :)

You state that a)the UN is a “reflection of its members”, and b) that “most of its members suck as examples of how gov’t should be”. By simple logic then, the UN sucks, which is what I’ve been saying. The next step would be to figure out how to make the UN stop sucking. I’m not sure it can be done. What ideas do you have?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 03:59 PM
Comment #146321

Good job, JBOD. You have done your Conservative duty. The article is about Bush and Iran, and you with the unwitting help of AP have turned the entire comment discussion around to an indictment of the UN and Sudan. I see conservatives do this all the time from the White House down to the lowliest of blogs.

But, many of us are getting hip to the tactic. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 06:22 PM
Comment #146328

The UN was started in 1945… WWII, right? Why do you think it was started then? Shouldn’t that give you pause for immediately wanting to disban it because of issues it has in operating?

It the UN needs to be disbanned, the I guess every ineffectual government of organization should die along with it. Another question, would conditions in the world improve by getting rid of the UN, or would the US (neocons) simply have an easier time accomplishing their goals.

As far as Iran goes (and N. Korea) - we now see why Bush pick Iraq and the first of the three axis of evil to go after. If we had such a disaster with the easy one, I think (hope) we might think differently on the others.

Posted by: tony at May 8, 2006 07:00 PM
Comment #146331

Having issues with my confuctions…

“government of organization” should be OR (no of)

“why Bush pick Iraq and the first of the three axis of evil ” should be “Iraq OF the first three”

(sorry about that)

Posted by: tony at May 8, 2006 07:02 PM
Comment #146355

David:

I apologize if i helped the topic go astray. I was discussing Iran and the UN—-others came in and discussed the UN more than Iran, and I discussed it with them. My intent was simply to discuss what to do with Iran—-and to say that I don’t see the UN being capable of accomplishing anything in that situation or others.

That you would think I have the ability to direct all these different people is a great compliment. At the same time, its a great insult to AP, Dave, tony and yourself if you think yourself so malleable as to be led around by the nose. I apologize if the conversation went differently than you hoped. Let’s get it back on track.

Iran is different than Iraq. The US needs to take an important position, but not the foremost position on the nuclear situation. I’d agree its more of a European and Middle East problem, but it also has far ranging implications. I like George’s idea of forcing Europe, Russia and China to deal with it—kind of like a parent letting the kids work a problem out. Agree or disagree?

Posted by: joebaogodonuts at May 8, 2006 08:14 PM
Comment #146357

JBOD, I agree. In virtually every situation with foreign powers and movements, I hold that unless we are attacked or in danger of being attacked in the near future, our role must be one of leading other nations toward resolution, rather than forcing a resolution. The role of World Cop is not economically sustainable as the USSR found out in their part of the world.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2006 08:27 PM
Comment #146369

If we are forced into military confrontation - I hope we can at least borrow some else’s credit card.

Posted by: tony at May 8, 2006 08:56 PM
Comment #146375

David:

The “about to be attacked” thing is hard to consider, though. In more traditional warfare, even back in 1991, we could see armies massing on borders, such as Kuwait etc. You could see the attack coming more easily than you can today. And today’s “armies” are sometimes made up of loosely affiliated groups of people.

Clinton stated that Saddam would make no overtures unless force or the threat of force was there. I think that’s true of a lot of world leaders. We must keep that possibility out there, lest we become like the big kid on the playground who is afraid to fight. Sometimes by showing that we are NOT afraid or unwilling to fight, we send a strong message and thereby avoid the fight. That, of course, should be the ultimate objective, but not if it means backing down and accepting unacceptable terms.

Still, I look at situations like Darfur, and I’d like to see the US step in and force a peace brokerage. I’d prefer to see someone else step in, but they don’t seem willing. I don’t quite see how we as compassionate human beings can stand for a slaughter of fellow humans, simply because we don’t want to get involved.

It would seem odd that I’m am for involvement in Darfur for humanitarian reasons, and that you are against (I think) such action. That alone shows what a complicated world we live in.

Damn—lest you accuse me of changing the subject from Iran to Darfur, allow me to say——IRAN, IRAN, IRAN, Ahmedinijad, nuclear capacity, Iran…and so forth.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 8, 2006 09:04 PM
Comment #146380

We must attack Iran.

Posted by: Aldous at May 8, 2006 09:35 PM
Comment #146382

“We must attack Iran.”

Aldous - you keep saying this, but I have a hard buying it.

(Are you serious?)

Posted by: tony at May 8, 2006 09:38 PM
Comment #146398

David,

“Iran is different than Iraq. The US needs to take an important position, but not the foremost position on the nuclear situation.”

The United States needs to broadcast loud and clear that we have taken nuclear and biological weapons off the table.
That is the only lead we should take in this situation.


JBOD,

“It would seem odd that I’m am for involvement in Darfur for humanitarian reasons, and that you are against (I think) such action. That alone shows what a complicated world we live in.”

If it were in America’s best interests to deal with the situation in Darfur, Sudan, Ruwanda, etc… (read oil), you can bet we would be there like a shot.

Posted by: Rocky at May 8, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #146407
When the US has “led” the UN, people cry about how the US is dominating policy.

So what, JBOD. Let ‘em. The important thing is that something gets done with UN backing. But in the case of Darfur, the Bush administration has no intention of committing adequate forces to Sudan. That’s why it appears the UN is “doing nothing”. Darfur is not a priority for President Bush.

IF they provide nothing but requests, they provide nothing.

Ahh… But they do provide something: legitimacy. The UN is the Holy Grail of legitimacy. They provide political cover for politicians around the world to support the policies of whoever is leading the UN — mostly the US, but also the EU and Australia in the case of East Timor.

I want a UN that can get things done.

No, you really don’t. A UN with its own Army is not something you want. What you want is for President Bush to make Darfur a priority and rally UN backing so that our troops — and maybe some French, Italians and British troops (NATO, essentially) — can help the African Union restore order in Sudan and stop the killing.

David, I think discussion of the nature of the UN is applicable to Iran. We don’t explicitely need UN backing to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but we do need to make the attempt so that everyone could see that we’re serious about a peaceful resolution.

If the Iranians refuse to comply, then they’re obviously the bad guys — that’s why Ahmedinejad’s letter is a great move for Iran. He’s trying to swing diplomatic momentum his way.

BTW, I don’t think we need UN “approval” to disarm Iran. But, at a minimum, we should go in as part of a standing regional alliance — the Arab League, or something like that. Otherwise, we miss out on the international support that Clinton got for Kosovo (where we went in with a standing regional alliance), but Bush still can’t get for Iraq.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 8, 2006 11:49 PM
Comment #146416

Its amazing how ignorant people are of the UN.

Posted by: Aldous at May 9, 2006 12:17 AM
Comment #146426

AP, first, it is important that we establish that they have a nuclear weapons program in the first place. The IAEA’s report accounts for every bit of Iran’s nuclear material, and nothing is even remotely close to weapons grade and NONE is missing. This fact alone says that at this time, Iran is not attempting to make nuclear weapons.

So, there is time to negotiate, there is time to verify. The only point which the world has the right to push in light of the Iraninan President’s words is inspection. I could be wrong, but, I am not aware of any treaty or existing international law that prevents any nation from seeking peaceful nuclear energy uses. If that is correct, then we need to back off the war drum banging and make the cast to the rest of the world that what is needed and must be obtained are regular inspections and accountability for nuclear materials in Iraq as was just accomplished.

The time to become concerned is when Iran refuses inspections or is unable to account for all its nuclear material at peaceful grade energy levels.

I agree with you entirely that about the standing regional alliance. If the regional alliance is comfortable with our participation fine. If not, then one of our allies participation in the inspections and accountability is just as good.

But there is no shred of evidence other than verbal bluster that Iran is even trying to make nuclear weapons. So, it appears to me all this talk of invasion is wildly premature.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 02:46 AM
Comment #146436

Would someone tell me why NOBODY in the Bush cabinet has asked Iran or its President, “WHY does a country that has the second most proven crude oil and natural gas reserves in the world need nuclear energy?” Iran doesn’t need new sources of energy.

It’d be great to hear the Iranians say, a) “To prevent global warming” or b) C’mon you know to defend ourselves against you and destroy Israel.

Posted by: Steve C. at May 9, 2006 05:52 AM
Comment #146453

A.P.

Thanks for the comments and opinions. I see your point about the UN providing legitimacy, and its a good one. I’d like to see a UN that provides more than just cover for countries to do the right thing, but certainly one not capable of becoming a rogue army on its own. Its a tightrope act, and currently I think the UN is on the side of being too weak.

If you have a pole with 5 ropes attached to it, and 5 strong men pull on the ropes in opposing direction, much effort is expended but the poles remains stationary. The UN is the pole. In order for action, the UN needs to be able to get more than one country pulling in a direction. If they are unable to do so, they become irrelevant.

I’d agree as well that we need to have international backing, if we are to take action against Iran. While the Iraq war has had international support, the coalition has been nothing like what Bush 41 had in Kuwait.

The time has not come for invasion, yet its not inappropriate to let Iran know the stick is there. The time now is for negotiation, but we also need to be certain not to negotiate out of fear or weakness. That would be similar to paying ransoms for hostages—it saves the current hostage and ensures future hostages.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 9, 2006 08:30 AM
Comment #146474

JBOD,

If you have a pole with 5 ropes attached to it, and 5 strong men pull on the ropes in opposing direction, much effort is expended but the poles remains stationary.

You’re assuming the goal is to move the pole — that’s where your analogy breaks down. The goal of the UN is to prevent any of the men from moving the pole by balancing their strengths against each other.

This is a perfect example of what everyone seems to be missing about the UN — inaction (militarily speaking) is exactly what the UN exists for! The UN doesn’t exist to organize warfare — it exists to PREVENT warfare. Once the war starts, the UN has already failed.

Politicians like to throw the word “peacekeeping” around to describe things that aren’t peaceful. The simple fact is that invading Iraq (whether justifed or not) was not “peacekeeping”… it was a WAR. If there is an invasion of Iran, it won’t be “peacekeeping” either… it will be WAR.

In Iraq War #1, the UN didn’t start a war… it sent in troops AFTER the war had started. The objective was clear — get both sides back into their own countries, and stop the war. And they did exactly that. They restored the peace.

The UN’s goal is not to depose tyrants, bombard nuclear installations, spread democracy, or change regimes. It’s goal is to PREVENT WARFARE. Every year that goes by without war is a success, and every shot that is fired is a failure.

The UN doesn’t exist to organize WARS… it exists to maintain PEACE. Sending in troops to stop fighting (i.e. Sudan) is well within the role of “peacekeeper”. Sending in troops to start fighting where none exists (i.e. Iraq, Iran) is NOT within that role.

(And, yes, I know there are times when wars are necessary. But no amount of wordsmithing can turn starting a war into a peaceful act.)

David,

The letter from Ahmadinejad (or at least the parts I’ve seen quoted—I can’t find a full text) is very intriguing. While the overall message of the letter is twisted, I actually agree with many of his points, and I believe you do, too. We did bungle the response to 9/11… We do provide too much support to Israel… We would have been better off spending our money on handling poverty than on the Iraq war…. The only one that I disagree with (that I’ve seen so far) is his indictment of “Liberal democratic systems”.

So it’s a shrewd political move. It won’t change anyone’s mind in the US (since we don’t listen to the opinions of foreigners anyway), but I’m sure it will be noticed in other nations, especially in the Middle East. Expect it to be quoted extensively by Middle Eastern politicians in the future.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 9, 2006 10:48 AM
Comment #146482

David,

I found this “translation” of the Ahmadinejad letter to Bush;

http://www.mikegerber.com/2006/05/we-saw-letter.html

“Since Dr. Gulzar is always telling me to “speak my truth,” I want to tell you something. The goal of Iran’s nuclear program is not a bomb. It is to make a working replica of the time-traveling car from Back to the Future. Have you ever seen that movie? Not everyone knows this, but there are three of them. If you want, I can loan them to you, but you have to PROMISE to give them back.”

Posted by: Rocky at May 9, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #146484

Excellent comments Rob. I concur wholeheartedly, except for the part about liberal democratic systems.
I’m not sure what your refering to there.

Posted by: gergle at May 9, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #146495

Rob:

I’d hope the goal of the UN is to prevent genocide. IFFF that is one of their goals, they’ve failed at it, in Rwanda, in Kosovo, in the Congo, in Darfur.

Sometimes you have to whack someone to get them to stop doing bad things. The UN seems to want to ASK the bad guys to stop (ie resolutions), but there is little actual threat behind the words.

If the 5 guys on the rope around the pole are all watching the slaughter of innocents, then NOT moving the pole is simply an offensive inaction, isn’t it? I’d prefer to see a UN that has the ability to mobilize countries into action in the face of obvious murder.

We could discuss Iraq all day long—I understand your points there. But the murder of innocents in Rwanda and Darfur etc is obviously a problem. The UN has done little to stop it. If it cannot stop such obvious murder, then what can it do?>

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 9, 2006 12:01 PM
Comment #146507

Rob Cottrel, excellent comments and I do agree with your comments to JBOD and myself. There is a reason UN forces are called ‘PeaceKeeping Forces’. And you nailed it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #146508

JBOD, on the letter. It was to me a brilliant ploy directed at Muslims around the world IF Bush rejected it out of hand, which he did. Iran can now legitimately say it attempted to open a dialogue with Bush and Bush would have none of it.

As for their intentions, it apparently never occured to you that in a world of scarcer oil, Ahmadinejad may be predicating seeking nuclear power for what he thinks are sound economic reasons. If they have nuclear power in abundance, they are free to sell their oil at ever higher prices to the world as scarcity increases making Iran a wealthier nation by far.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #146524

JBOD,

I’d hope the goal of the UN is to prevent genocide.

And I’d hope its goal is to pay my mortgage and make me dinner, but it can’t do everything.

The UN is an experiment the likes of which the world has never seen before, and it’s still relatively young. The US was over 100 years old before it really became a force for change in the world. The UN is barely over 50 years old. Don’t expect it to change the world overnight.

Yes, you do sometimes have to “whack someone”. But there are plenty of countries out there willing to do that, and there always have been. That’s not what the UN was built for. To put it bluntly, the primary goal of the UN has been to prevent World War III. So far, they’ve done rather well. Whether or not you give them credit for it, World War III hasn’t happened yet.

With the end of the Cold War, the role of the UN is changing. In the Cold War era, the role of the UN was primarily a diplomatic one. Obviously, handling situations like those in Darfur, Uganda, etc. requires more than just diplomacy. But asking the UN to take action is useless if the UN has nothing to act with.

It’s like asking Bush how many terrorists he’s shot. The answer is ZERO. He’s directed others to fight terrorism, but he’s personally never fired a single round at a terrorist.

Likewise, the UN can direct others to solve problems, but for it to work, those others must follow the UN’s direction. And there are some countries that simply don’t want to give the UN that power. Chief among them is the United States. We want a UN that can stand up to Iraq, or Iran, or Russia, but we don’t want one that can stand up to us. We can’t have it both ways. If you want the UN to truly have teeth, you’d better be ready to be bitten.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 9, 2006 12:59 PM
Comment #146565

Rob:

As I’ve posted before, I recognize the tightrope between not enough power and too much power. I dont want (nor does anyone else) a UN with the power to overthrow the United States. I also don’t want a UN that is ineffective at stopping any kind of bad thing from happening.

If the UN cannot bring people together to stop an obvious tragedy like Darfur, then I fear it can accomplish nothing. And if that’s the case, then to expect it to accomplish great things is a fallacy. The problem is that the UN isnt capably directing others to stop the tragedy. They don’t need the United States to handle the Janjaweed—any number of countries have the ability to stop the bloodshed. But the UN has gotten no one to step in.

David:

I think your second comment in your last post should have been directed at Steve, not to me.

Regarding the letter, which I have yet to see, I’m not convinced its a “legitimate” attempt to negotiate. It may be, as you say, a strategy designed to look that way, but it sounds as if its a rather empty vessel from what I’ve heard.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 9, 2006 03:37 PM
Comment #146575

JBOD, it was NOT a legitimate attempt to negotiate. It was an indictment of Bush and his administration and democracy in general. But, that’s not the point. That does not diminish its PR value in Islamic Indonesia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and many other country’s people. He initiated a dialogue and Bush refuses to respond. That was predictable, and that is what the letter was designed to do. Push Bush to not reciprocate the dialogue. That is the PR value for the Arab and Muslim world that was a stroke of genius. I seriously underestimated Iran’s President. Like I said, I won’t make that mistake again. Wish I could say the same for Bush.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 04:01 PM
Comment #146576

JBOD, sorry, yes, that 2nd comment does appear to have been misdirected.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 04:04 PM
Comment #146580

JBOD,

“If the UN cannot bring people together to stop an obvious tragedy like Darfur, then I fear it can accomplish nothing. And if that’s the case, then to expect it to accomplish great things is a fallacy.”

Life is tragedy. That violence seems to accompany it doublely so. Stoping violence is a hell of a lot harder than starting it, and finding the reasons and solutions to the problems of the world is a mighty task.

The fact that they are just sitting in the same room talking, is an acomplishment in itself.

That the UN even exists after the beating it has had to endure, is a testament to this world body’s resilency.
That friend and foe are still sitting accross from each other and still trying to find solutions, is a testament to the inherent goodness of human beings.

Posted by: Rocky at May 9, 2006 04:10 PM
Comment #146597

I don’t know about the inherent goodness of human beings, but, it certainly is a testament to their tiring of the violence as a way of life.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 9, 2006 04:57 PM
Comment #146600

David,

Going through life assuming everyone is your enemy is no way to live.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t watch where I step.

Posted by: Rocky at May 9, 2006 05:10 PM
Comment #146721

David,
Although I can’t find the Presiednt of Iran’s letter, I was caught by the passsage shown on CNN that stated that America did not have a plan for the future either. And that is where the “Trap” lies for President Bush and the Republican Leadership in America. Speak about putting the blade up against something personal. How can the President and the Republican Party represent “Big Business Interest” and still say that they are for “We the People?”

No, Americans deserve to hold Our Elders accountable for the world that they have built and in doing so teach other Citizens of Humanity that as mere mortals are Civil, Political, and Religious Leaders may be able to move mountains, but none of them can every be above just being Politically Unalienable Correct in their Actions and Words for the Unalienable Right of Being Unalienable Right Regardless belongs only to those special Men and Women who seat on the Courts of the Land.

That being siad; President Bush is missing out on a good chance for a Global Debate on just How, What, and Why America and Humanity’s Nations can leave a Legacy in Written History that will lead to a Politically Unalienable Correct Unlimited Sustainable Society envisioned by The Founding Fathers. Surely a “God” that gave every Human the unalienable Right to Consume would want Every Citizen of a Nation to by able to afford what they consumed in their Society?

Now not perfect, America atleast attempts to hit that mark. Shot, we even hire illegal aliens just to help them afford to consume properly. Yet, the diplomatic argument that can be made about how America has grown and is growing as a Nation of Freedom is one that will directly effect every child borned today when brought into the light. Now the question is can the Democrats handle the argument? If not, VOID and find a new thrid party to support.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at May 9, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #146763

David:

A lot of people in Islamic Indonesia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries don’t need much in the way of PR to dislike America and/or Bush. If Ahmadinejad is pulling a PR stunt, then lets just call it that. We cannot prevent him from doing so, but we certainly can minimize it. Some countries are going to see what they want to see. From what I’ve heard, its a PR stunt and that’s all. The best thing is to ignore it or refer it along.

Rocky:

The fact that they are just sitting in the same room talking, is an acomplishment in itself.

I disagree with this. They’ve BEEN talking for over 2 years now, and people are still dying. They’ve BEEN discussing whether its technically genocide or just plain murder, though I understand they’ve finally decided its more in line with plain murder. I’m sure that decision will please the families of the dead, knowing what to call it.

I’d like to see the UN be more effectual. I think the concept of the UN is wonderful. Its the execution that is pitiful. Note Jack’s piece on who is on the Human Rights Commission, and that alone makes it a farce.

The problem with the UN,in a nutshell, is that they try to please everyone. When you do that, you end up pleasing no one.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 10, 2006 08:18 AM
Comment #146784

JBOD,

You’re absolutely right. We need more than talking regarding Darfur — we need action. Someone needs to send in some troops to take care of the problem. Since the UN doesn’t have any troops, complaining that they’ve failed to send them is pointless. The most the UN can do is encourage individual member nations to send troops. If those nations aren’t willing to do so, that’s not the fault of the UN.

Honestly, do you think the UN should have the power to FORCE its member nations to deploy troops? If so, how would it enforce that power?

If the UN cannot bring people together to stop an obvious tragedy like Darfur, then I fear it can accomplish nothing.

You’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater here, dude. My doctor can’t stop the tragedy in Darfur, but that doesn’t mean he can accomplish nothing.

What you’re missing is that the UN has accomplished something in Darfur — it has brought the issue to the attention of the world. If the UN hadn’t been putting a spotlight on the region, you and I and George Clooney wouldn’t be talking about it today.

The problem with the UN,in a nutshell, is that they try to please everyone. When you do that, you end up pleasing no one.

No, the “problem” is that the UN is merely a sum of its members, and not an autonomous entity of its own. As such, it can’t ignore the desires of its members.

So, let’s cut to the meat of this, JBOD. What do YOU think the UN should be doing about Darfur? Do you think the UN should send in troops? If so, whose troops?

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 10, 2006 09:39 AM
Comment #146788

JBOD,

I don’t see Mr. Bush making a big deal out of Darfuf either.

Posted by: Rocky at May 10, 2006 09:56 AM
Comment #146823

Rob:

You made a bunch of great arguments there—-unfortunately some of them were not in response to comments that I’ve made. I’ve recognized that the UN has no troops,I’ve never suggested that the UN have the power to FORCE nations to send troops, and I’ve agreed that the UN is the sum of its members. You try to make it seem like I’m in some kind of disagreement about those issues, when simply by reading my past posts, you’d know I’m not.

The truly good point you’ve made is how the UN has shone a spotlight on Darfur. I don’t know how much credit to give them for that, but its a good point.

My point has been that the fabled UN has been wholely unsuccessful in encouraging member nations to get involved. Since you say that is what they are supposed to be doing, then my point is that if they cannot accomplish it, then they are irrelevant.

So, let’s cut to the meat of this, JBOD. What do YOU think the UN should be doing about Darfur?

I’m not sure whether the UN has the ability to do anything abour Darfur. I agree they should be getting nations to intercede. That they’ve been unable to do so highlights my point: perhaps the UN model itself is flawed. With regard to Iraq, there WERE many questions and disagreements, but not so with Darfur; everyone knows its a tragedy. If the UN is so ineffective when the situation is so clear, then maybe they are not the right model to deal with such situations.

The UN should bring its power to bear to coerce, cajole, demand, require, insist….that member nations take on the role of stopping the bloodshed. If its true as you say that the members hold the control, rather than the UN, and therefore the members are at fault, then the UN model is broken. If the UN cannot find a solution in the face of what everyone agrees is a problem, then they are not the mechanism to work with. THATS THE POINT!!

Rocky:

Not sure what you mean by your comment about Bush. I’d agree he hasn’t made a big deal out of Darfur—I wish he would. I recognize that if he were to send in troops, he’d get slammed for doing it. Right now he’s getting slammed for not doing it. My hope would be that since he’s gonna get slammed for either position, take the one with the moral high ground, accomplish a real good deed in the world, and face the music later.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 10, 2006 11:11 AM
Comment #146837

JBOD,

“My point has been that the fabled UN has been wholely unsuccessful in encouraging member nations to get involved. Since you say that is what they are supposed to be doing, then my point is that if they cannot accomplish it, then they are irrelevant.”

The UN is only as good as the sum of it’s parts.
The real job of the UN is to point these inequities out, but without the support of it’s members, America included, nothing will ever happen to fix the problems.

There are more countries against us in the UN than for us.

Frankly, I would rather them be against us, but still talking than be for America and doing nothing at all.

On the Bush thing;

My perception of American foriegn policy is that, right or wrong, we don’t act unless it is in our best interest to do so.
It would have been far cheaper and far easier to deal with the problems in Sudan, where the atrocities are/were at least as heinous as those of Saddam’s Iraq, but there was/is no advantage for America to do so (read oil).

Posted by: Rocky at May 10, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #146854

JBOD,

If the UN is so ineffective when the situation is so clear, then maybe they are not the right model to deal with such situations.

But the point is that, just because the UN is not the right model to deal with the Darfur situation doesn’t mean that it’s not the right model to deal with ANY situation.

The UN was designed to help “maintain international peace” — as in, peace between nations. It was not designed to handle “intra-national” issues such as civil war, oppression, or genocide. That’s why the UN didn’t move against Saddam Hussein when he gassed the Kurds, or oppressed the Shiites. It only moved when he crossed the border into Kuwait — thus making it an “international” issue.

It would be nice if the UN had more power to solve intra-national problems… and it’s slowly transforming into such an entity. But, honestly, what nation really wants to give the UN power to govern it? I know the US doesn’t.

Also, I think you’re missing something with regard to Iraq vs. Darfur. Everyone involved had a vested interest in Iraq. We all need oil. Whether we need the oil prices low (as consumers) or high (as suppliers), we’re all interested. The UN didn’t have to encourage action… it just had to direct it.

Darfur, on the other hand, is unimportant to most of us. The economies of the world aren’t being hurt by genocide in Darfur. So countries aren’t lining up to shape the future of the region. Everyone wants the problem solved, but nobody wants to do it themselves. Here, the UN has to figure out how to motivate unmotivated nations. Without a military of its own, I don’t know how it can do that.

So, you’re absolutely right that the UN model has failed to sufficiently address the issue in Darfur. But that doesn’t make the UN useless overall… at most, it makes it useless for this one task.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 10, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #146860

Rob:

I guess we will have to accept that we won’t agree completely on the UN. My premise is that the UN is woefully flawed, and the faith that many put in it is misplaced. It certainly has accomplished some things, but in my opinion, far too few.

They trot out unenforceable resolutions, and everyone knows they are unenforceable. I recognize that they can do some things. I find what they can accomplish inadequate compared to what I expect or hope they can accomplish.

One problem I see is that nations tend to look to the UN to solve problems like Darfur. You are right that there’s no WIIFM (what’s in it for me) in Darfur like in Iraq, and that being said, it means the UN probably cannot solve it. Yet nations sit back in apathy pushing the problem to the UN. If the UN didnt exist, perhaps some country would take the bull by the horns, instead of waiting.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 10, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #146873

JBOD,

I find what they can accomplish inadequate compared to what I expect or hope they can accomplish.

Therein lies the problem. You expect the UN to accomplish more than is realistic. And, unfortunately, others do, too.

Once you shave off all of the auxilliary agencies, the UN is nothing more than a diplomatic forum — a place for all countries to come together and discuss international issues. Those countries never surrender power to the UN — but they do occasionally bow to “peer pressure” from the other nations in the forum. It’s a place where multiple countries can organize their efforts together, on a voluntary basis, without sacrificing their autonomy.

In today’s world, such an international forum is a necessity. Just because that forum, by itself, doesn’t stop genocide, spread democracy, make toast, or scramble an egg in its shell doesn’t mean that it’s worthless. It’s still a good forum.

Personally, I don’t want the UN to grow into much more than that. We’ve seen in the US how the Federal government (once simply a collection of cooperating states) eventually took over, and even now continues to suck authority from its member states. If we give the UN more power, it will eventually do the same. I’d rather just keep it as a discussion forum.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 10, 2006 12:48 PM
Comment #146898

Rob:

Thanks for your opinions—you’ve done a very nice job of defining your ideas and supporting them. Much appreciated.

I think I do expect perhaps too much from the UN. It is in part a response to those who seem to put so much faith in the UN. In the run up to the Iraq war, I heard time and again people saying we should let the UN handle things, let them be the final arbiters, allow them to give the US the “right” to go and fight etc.

Your comments indicate that the UN is a ‘discussion forum’, but not a body that can stop genocide etc. In that case, it would appear to me that these people’s faith in the UN was misplaced, or perhaps more accurately placed at too high a level. Perhaps my hopes for what the UN should be are placed too highly as well.

Your points are well considered and I take them into consideration. Thanks for presenting them well.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 10, 2006 01:31 PM
Comment #147081

JBOD,

Thank you. It’s nice to have a rational debate sometimes, instead of a raving argument. :-)

One of the points you made earlier about Darfur really highlights the tragedy of the whole thing. Everyone knows that the situation in Darfur is bad… the whole world pretty much agrees on that. And yet, nobody in the world has yet been willing to get up and do something about it. UN or no UN, it speaks poorly of the character of the “civilized” world.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at May 10, 2006 10:13 PM
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