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U.S. and Israel confirmed as the authors of Stuxnet virus
June 1, 2012 7:09 AM   Subscribe

U.S. and Israel have been confirmed as the authors behind the Stuxnet virus. The program — codenamed "Olympic Games" — was started under Bush and accelerated under Obama. The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted. (non-NYTimes link)
posted by nobody (212 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love that "nobody" posted this. /aside

The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted.

They never do.

Between this and the backdoors in mil grade silicone chips, maybe we need to bring back vacuum tubes and mechanical computers ....

Help me, Ada Lovelace, you're my only hope!
posted by tilde at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait. Let me find my shocked mask.
posted by Mezentian at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


well, it seems that way, but ars at least is a re-cap of the NYT, which is a recap from the book, which all uses un-named sources.. As much as I believe the US/Israrel had a hand in it, this is far, far, far from a smoking gun.
posted by k5.user at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted.

Hey I've got a great idea, let's genetically engineer a specially deadly version of smallpox to kill terrorists!
posted by JHarris at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2012 [25 favorites]


Why do countries behave like children?
posted by polymodus at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought this week's backdoors scare was not so scary since it was maybe only the fault of the manufacturer and not Scary China? Or is that still scary?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2012


Like children, this is the equivalent of knocking the beehive out of the tree with a stick?
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:15 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted.

Oh, like the Morris Worm?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think "confirmed" is pushing it a bit, although I'm pretty sure no one suspected anyone else.
posted by tommasz at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, like the Morris Worm?

That was clearly designed to be restricted to the Maypole.
But who among us can resist that delightful Morris Beat?
posted by Mezentian at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


If it's a bloodless way to conduct and hopefully end conflicts, I'm not going to get too exercised about it, at least for now. I'd rather have cyberattacks disabling military hard targets than drones or bombs killing the soft ones.

Of course, if it hasn't happened already, this means it will be turned against us. It's also possibly one of the few things citizens in otherwise relatively free countries have a decent chance of fighting against if used by their government.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


The program — codenamed "Olympic Games"

Uh-oh, somebody's in massive trouble with the Olympics licensing bureau.
posted by randomination at 7:21 AM on June 1, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'm so with tilde on this one. Analogue technology is the only way to go, for things better not looked into.
posted by ouke at 7:21 AM on June 1, 2012


polymodus : Why do countries behave like children?

What does this mean?
posted by spaltavian at 7:24 AM on June 1, 2012


This is like a person who lives in a massive glass house creating and throwing an enormous stone-based weapon of mass destruction. I think there's an aphorism about that.

God help us Americans if China decides they really want to do some damage to US infrastructure.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


If it's a bloodless way to conduct and hopefully end conflicts, I'm not going to get too exercised about it, at least for now.

Then you haven't thought too hard about the implications. Not everything can be explained away easily by "but it saves LIVES." That's the justification the security apparatus uses for internet surveillance, because it finds terrorists. There are more important things than living, like helping other people have lives worth living.
posted by JHarris at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Uh-oh, somebody's in massive trouble with the Olympics licensing bureau.

Though, strangely, the IOC headquarters just vigorously shook and imploded.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mild irony, but of the sort we're so accustomed to by now that it's barely worth pointing out: "The Obama administration will hold a public meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss industry and government efforts to combat botnet activity."
posted by nobody at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's also possibly one of the few things citizens in otherwise relatively free countries have a decent chance of fighting against if used by their government.

Experts determined that the virus was designed to target Simatic WinCC Step7 software, an industrial control system made by the German conglomerate Siemens that was used to program controllers that drive motors, valves and switches in everything from food factories and automobile assembly lines to gas pipelines and water treatment plants.

I'm curious to know how civilians in "otherwise relatively free countries" stand a better chance of fighting this, especially given how specific a configuration the virus is said to target - I don't know much about Stuxnet, so i'd appreciate an entry-level explanation.
posted by dubold at 7:27 AM on June 1, 2012


So is this now a confirmed act of war by the United States and Israel on Iran? According to the Pentagon, "computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war."

I suppose the UN Security Council should immediately call for a meeting to.. oh right. The U.S. has veto power over the Security Council.

Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?
posted by three blind mice at 7:28 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Look, this is an emotional moment for all of us, okay? I know that. But, let's not make snap judgments, please. This is clearly-- clearly an important virus we're dealing with and I don't think that you or I, or anybody, has the right to arbitrarily exterminate them.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 AM on June 1, 2012 [22 favorites]


WHY WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
posted by Edison Carter at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?

To blow up the UN?
posted by smackfu at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not just Stuxnet, there's also Duqu and Flame/SkyWiper. Duqu looks to be part of hte same program as Stuxnet, but Flame is older and different code, albeit the same general design philosophy. Security expert Steve Bellovin has some thoughtful comments on this new era of warfare, in particular the lack of rules and understanding how to use it.
posted by Nelson at 7:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian - nuke it from orbit, just to be sure.
posted by k5.user at 7:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is clearly-- clearly an important virus we're dealing with and I don't think that you or I, or anybody, has the right to arbitrarily exterminate them.

I've always said life begins at the first variable declaration.
posted by nobody at 7:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [18 favorites]


You can't see it, but I'm making a face like that little kid in the old Coppertone ads.
posted by jquinby at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is news to exactly whom?
posted by odinsdream at 7:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you read the article, odinsdream? It's full of lots of specific news. Like actual confirmation from multiple (unnamed) sources of what we suspected. And details on how the program was created, and carried out. And what happened. It's an amazing bit of investigative journalism.
posted by Nelson at 7:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]




I've always said life begins at the first variable declaration.
Boy, this leaves Haskell in an awkward position...
posted by deathpanels at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


Dumb question from a computer security dunce: when a virus is "released into the wild", how do the experts find it? Do they just see it getting picked up by their fancy virus checkers? Do they find it infecting computers they happen to be working with?
posted by Think_Long at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2012


U.S. Press Release: "Well, that Wendell"
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2012


According to the link that Nelson shared, most of this was found by commercial grade anti-virus software.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:43 AM on June 1, 2012


Do they just see it getting picked up by their fancy virus checkers?

This for anti-virus companies, and governments when they have test computers up designed to get infected.

Generally pingbacks to control servers for the writers (or those who worked out the code and got control of the control server).
posted by jaduncan at 7:43 AM on June 1, 2012


I think it's mostly them finding it infecting computers, but they run banks of computers called "honeypots" that exist entirely to be tempting targets for viruses, so they can be collected and studied.
posted by JHarris at 7:43 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's pretty cool.
posted by Think_Long at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2012


Analogue technology is the only way to go, for things better not looked into.
Rabbit hole thought of the day: How do you hack an analogue computer? Using a 3-D printer? But then can't you hack the chips of the printer and the chips of the computer to anti-hack the printed hacking device?

Or will we have to whittle bogus parts by hand?

I see Mad-Men (S1) style steno pools and filing rooms coming back as well ... And top-secret Rosies ...
posted by tilde at 7:46 AM on June 1, 2012


This is like a person who lives in a massive glass house creating and throwing an enormous stone-based weapon of mass destruction. I think there's an aphorism about that.

Oh, such ridiculous high dudgeon.

In this corner, Iran, a country that has done things like bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires of all places.

In this corner, America, a country that apparently sabotaged an Iranian centrifuge plant.
posted by ocschwar at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2012


three blind mice: " Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?"

Yeah, it could. Why do they need nuclear weapons?
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Interesting tidbit on page two:
Having falsely accused Saddam Hussein of reconstituting his nuclear program in Iraq, Mr. Bush had little credibility in publicly discussing another nation’s nuclear ambitions.
It doesn't mention his inability to pronounce the word correctly though.

But it's good to see that the "crying wolf" style of offense has come unraveled.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


All the concern over this seems pretty silly. A world in which countries vaguely annoy eachother with computer viruses is obviously a much better place then one where they bomb eachother and kill people.

Calling this "Warfare" as if it rises to the same level is absurd.
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on June 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


shakespeherian: "Look, this is an emotional moment for all of us, okay? I know that. But, let's not make snap judgments, please. This is clearly-- clearly an important virus we're dealing with and I don't think that you or I, or anybody, has the right to arbitrarily exterminate them."

They can BILL ME.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Who exactly is confirming this? Who talked to the "insiders" to get the quotes? Was it someone at NYT? I found the article really confusing on that front, the way it was presented. Not that I don't find the story plausible, but it felt like reading a junior high school history textbook and leaves me feeling less credulous than I would like to about a story of this magnitude.
posted by zennie at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2012


Oh I know... lets get the UN to shut down the nasty old interwebs. That'll stop this nonsense from spreading.
posted by infini at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2012


Oh, such ridiculous high dudgeon.

In this corner, Iran, a country that has done things like bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires of all places.

In this corner, America, a country that apparently sabotaged an Iranian centrifuge plant.
That's not the point. The point is that of all the countries in the world the US would be most susceptible to "cyberattack" because we have the most advanced stuff. Although, maybe that was true 10 years ago I would guess a lot of other countries have caught up and probably done so in a more haphazard and hackable way by this point.

But in general, they were just saying that it's a bad idea for the US to do cyberattacks, because any new techniques we come up with can be turned against us and because it would motivate other countries to start working on the same techniques as well.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, like I was saying before, anyone who didn't think this was created by a national entity was dumb, hadn't taken the time to think it through, or was deliberately spreading misinformation. We just didn't know which government. We knew it was probably the US or Israel... now we know it was actually both.

And note that, per the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, to which we are signatory, Iran has the "inalienable right" to pursue nuclear power programs. The oil's not going to last forever, and they'd be pretty dumb not to be expanding into uranium. However, they're presently right around the limit where their program can still be construed as peaceful.

If you look at a map, and consider just where Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are, you might start to understand why they might want nuclear weapons. It's hardly unprovoked; we called them part of the Axis of Evil, and then had invasion forces on both sides. Dunno about you, but if I were Iran, I'd be nervous as hell.

Their real crime, of course, is being an inadequately subservient oil-rich country.
posted by Malor at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's not the point. The point is that of all the countries in the world the US would be most susceptible to "cyberattack" because we have the most advanced stuff.

And if Iran decides to do this, it will have a lot more to do with Iran's internal problems than with Stuxnet.

Iran is only 51% Persian, and most of the minority communities there are mighty pissed off (Arabs, Kurds, Pashtuns, Balochs).
posted by ocschwar at 7:54 AM on June 1, 2012


Who exactly is confirming this? Who talked to the "insiders" to get the quotes? Was it someone at NYT?

I don't get this. Do we no longer trust anonymous sources from reputable journalism institutions? That's like SOP for the media.
posted by Think_Long at 7:54 AM on June 1, 2012


because we have the most advanced stuff.

Maybe the most advanced stuff, but the top of page three was interesting:
The unusually tight collaboration with Israel was driven by two imperatives. Israel’s Unit 8200, a part of its military, had technical expertise that rivaled the N.S.A.’s, and the Israelis had deep intelligence about operations at Natanz that would be vital to making the cyberattack a success.
Looks like we were the token wife in that partnership.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:57 AM on June 1, 2012


It's hardly unprovoked; we called them part of the Axis of Evil, and then had invasion forces on both sides[...]

Their real crime, of course, is being an inadequately subservient oil-rich country.
posted by Malor
First, Iran and the US have been at odds long before this, and Iran and Hezbollah have killed many Americans.

Second, Iran having a fully-fledged nuclear weapons program will kick off a new round of proliferation. Surely there is more to this than your boiler-plate AMRERCAN-IMPERAILISM!1!! sloganeering.
posted by rosswald at 8:00 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


three blind mice: " Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?"

Yeah, it could. Why do they need nuclear weapons?
posted by zarq at 10:48 AM on June 1 [+] [!]


Israel has nuclear weapons.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:00 AM on June 1, 2012


In this corner, Iran, a country that has done things like bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires of all places.

In this corner, America, a country that apparently sabotaged an Iranian centrifuge plant.


and shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, and aided the overthrow of Iran's democratically elected government in favour of the installation of a dictator.

America has form when it comes to this stuff.
posted by knapah at 8:01 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Bleh. Missed vital paragraph answering my question (to a degree). Still not a fan of the way the info is presented.
posted by zennie at 8:03 AM on June 1, 2012


So is this now a confirmed act of war by the United States and Israel on Iran?

It destroyed physical infrastructure. I don't see how it could be interpreted as anything else.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:03 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a shame there's no named source in the article confirming the US/Israel involvement, but it's hardly surprising. It's a secret weapons program of dubious legality, no one's going to go on the record. Despite all its recent problems I'm going to trust the New York Times to have gotten this story right. Maybe we'll learn more from Sanger's book.

I think it's telling that some of the unnamed sources get their spin into the article. For instance, the US government sources blaming the Israelis for overreaching. "We only let them in so they felt included, and then they screwed it up". Presumably the Israeli sources have a different interpretation. Anyway that kind of spinning makes the anonymous sources seem more believable to me.

One thing that the article doesn't discuss is communications. "Eventually the beacon would have to “phone home” — literally send a message back to the headquarters of the National Security Agency". Interesting problem on how to do that communication, given the difficulty of "leaping the electronic moat that cut the Natanz plant off from the Internet — called the air gap". I can think of several options: piggybacking on phone lines, modulating EM radiation so it can be picked up wirelessly, having a bag man inside the plant carry data back and forth. Much of this article is anonymous sources confirming what researchers figured out already, but no one's published how Stuxnet was controlled. That part still seems to be secret.
posted by Nelson at 8:04 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Israel has nuclear weapons.


And a complete lack of interest in Iran. Iran's decision to go to war with Israel is Iran's decision and Iran's alone.
posted by ocschwar at 8:04 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do they need nuclear weapons?

To protect their sovereignty, so they don't get invaded like their next-door neighbor. What business does the US, holder of the largest nuclear arsenal and the world leader in gun-barrel diplomacy, have telling another country what kind of weapons it can have?

I am against nuclear proliferation, but I'm also against both hypocrisy and trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:06 AM on June 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


zennie: "Who exactly is confirming this? Who talked to the "insiders" to get the quotes? Was it someone at NYT? I found the article really confusing on that front, the way it was presented. Not that I don't find the story plausible, but it felt like reading a junior high school history textbook and leaves me feeling less credulous than I would like to about a story of this magnitude."

The Times article is excerpted from an upcoming book ("Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and and Surprising Use of American Power") that was written by their Washington Correspondent, David Sanger.
posted by zarq at 8:07 AM on June 1, 2012


It destroyed physical infrastructure. I don't see how it could be interpreted as anything else.

Well let's all hope that people with more imagination, and temperance, than you apparently have are responding to it.
posted by OmieWise at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the part where we work on a first-of-a-kind weapon with another country, then fuck up and let that weapon run loose around the world, and not know what caused it to run loose, and then blame the other country.

And I'm supposed to give you guys back door access to my servers? Puh-leez.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


It destroyed physical infrastructure. I don't see how it could be interpreted as anything else.


Iran has already intepreted US efforts to assist Iranian dissidents as a far bigger affront than this.
To say nothing about how they feel about events in Syria.
posted by ocschwar at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2012


three blind mice: " Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?"

Yeah, it could. Why do they need nuclear weapons?
posted by zarq at 10:48 AM on June 1 [+] [!]


From the WSJ article I linked to above:

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," said a military official.

Why should the Iranians think any differently? Are they not also men?

This is an act of war or at least an act of state-sponsored terrorism. The Pentagon thinks it is appropriate to respond to such an attack with a missile, the only reason the Iranians don't is because they lack a nuclear deterrent to prevent things from getting out of hand.
posted by three blind mice at 8:10 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is an act of war or at least an act of state-sponsored terrorism espionage / sabotage / destabilization / etc etc.

Terrorism is a word that has a specific meaning. This is not that.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:14 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


1. Israel has nuke weapons...but have they ever threatened to use them against any nation? Iran has threatened to exterminate Israel even before they get nukes.
2. Egypt and Turkey and Saudi Arabia have either said or hinted that should Iran get nukes, they will also obtain them.
3. the same folks who here belittle cyber attempts to slow down or stop Iran from getting nukes are the same people who will protest if we attack their sites physically, and yet they offer no alternative, unless it is the implied, let them get and do what they want.
4. cyber war is a reality China is using it against us to get materials, both industrial and military .
posted by Postroad at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


And a complete lack of interest in Iran. Iran's decision to go to war with Israel is Iran's decision and Iran's alone.
posted by ocschwar at 4:04 PM on June 1 [+] [!]


Tell me you are being sarcastic.
posted by Acey at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]




Israel's plan to attack Iran put on hold until next year at the earliest


Ah, good, gives me time to book that trip to Isfahan
posted by ocschwar at 8:18 AM on June 1, 2012



And a complete lack of interest in Iran. Iran's decision to go to war with Israel is Iran's decision and Iran's alone.
posted by ocschwar at 4:04 PM on June 1 [+] [!]

Tell me you are being sarcastic.


Not in the slightest. Israel has no interest in locking horns with a country 3 states away. It is Iran that declared the state of war.
posted by ocschwar at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


God help us Americans if China decides they really want to do some damage to US infrastructure.

No, they are smartly letting us destroy it ourselves by not funding repairs. It's the long game.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Terrorism is a word that has a specific meaning.

It's really, really not. It has an extremely flexible meaning depending on the context of the utterance.
posted by synecdoche at 8:21 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get that it's mostly posturing by both sides, but still.
posted by Acey at 8:21 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The timing of these revelations is sure to assuage AIPAC that the President is sufficiently pro-Israel.
posted by Renoroc at 8:22 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not in the slightest. Israel has no interest in locking horns with a country 3 states away. It is Iran that declared the state of war.
You have a link for that declaration?
posted by delmoi at 8:29 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


All things considered, I'd rather the US use tactics like this instead of bombing Iran.

I'd rather they do neither, but I'm sure that part of the reason this got the go ahead is the saber rattling from Israel. If this at all postponed a military strike, I'm glad that they went ahead with it.

I wonder if the NSA committed any crimes by doing this, though, and whether Obama's approval of it was a crime.
posted by empath at 8:30 AM on June 1, 2012


Mayor Curley: "What business does the US, holder of the largest nuclear arsenal and the world leader in gun-barrel diplomacy, have telling another country what kind of weapons it can have?"

I don't think we have the moral high ground here, if that's what you're asking.

Iran's President has been saber rattling about how important Israel is to them as a scapegoat Israelis are detestable, and the country must be wiped off the map, for years.

I think stopping him from gaining the ability to put his apparent deepest desires into action against one of our allies is a good idea. Politicians who engage in that sort of rhetoric are rarely blustering.
posted by zarq at 8:32 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


What a bunch of sleight of hand.... Anyone who is anybody in the counter-counter-anti-cyber-terrorism-intelligence community knew long ago that STUXNET was the work of a deep deep underground cell of SMERSH that was re-activated by the obvious to anyone in the know dog whistle re-release of Get Smart several summers ago. Come ON sheeple!!!
posted by spicynuts at 8:32 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


When did metafilter become such a warlike bunch?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:42 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. Israel has nuke weapons...but have they ever threatened to use them against any nation?

Yes.

The hypocrisy with regard to Israel's nuclear capabilities, and for that matter, India's and Pakistan's versus Iran's is pretty clear. It's also pretty clear that joining the nuclear club is a game changer for foreign policy as far as countries that the U.S. disapproves of are concerned.
posted by idb at 8:42 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Israel has nuke weapons...but have they ever threatened to use them against any nation?

They have made it very clear that they will use any and all weapons in the defense of Israel. Syria maintains a large stockpile of chemical weapons, mostly VX class nerve agents, specifically to deter attacks from Israel with nuclear weapons.

Note that neither Israel or Syria officially admits to having these weapons.

Israel has no interest in locking horns with a country 3 states away.

Funny.

Iran Attack Decision Nears, Israeli elite locks down.

For Israel, Iran attack back on table.

Given that Israel is famous for preemptive attacks. They struck an Iraqi reactor under construction, flying without permission over Jordan and Saudi Arabia to do so. They struck what they claimed was a Syrian nuclear site (and probably was one) in 2007. Israel made an attack on Tunisia in 1985 -- some, oh, three countries away, and two of those countries are Libya and Egypt -- both very large -- hell, Tunisia is southwest of Italy.

The idea that they would not attack a country at a great distance if they felt the need to is simply incorrect -- basically wishful thinking. They have done so, repeatedly, and they have made it very clear that if they feel they need to do so again, they will.
posted by eriko at 8:44 AM on June 1, 2012 [18 favorites]


Israel has nuke weapons...but have they ever threatened to use them against any nation?

This is rich. The whole point of having nuclear weapons is exactly that they are an existential threat. MAD, ever heard of it? In fact that's kinda the point of weapons of war in general. If anyone were to take the time to read the federalist papers there is a lively discussion about this exact point. Something about standing armies, eroding of liberties, and the unfortunate necessity of, at the very least, granting the federal government the ability of to raise armies. Now we live in a sick society where the mere thought of living in world without war is laughed at and scorned as impossible and not worth considering. Sad that. Of course this is mostly our own fault us being a warmongering empire and all.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Acey: "Israel's plan to attack Iran put on hold until next year at the earliest"

I think it's pretty clear that if Iran were not viewed as a danger by Israel, meaning if that their leader hadn't spent the better part of the last eight years making speeches condemning Zionism and Israel in the strongest possible terms to anyone who would listen, AND hadn't also been developing nuclear weapons, then Israel wouldn't be escalating the situation now by threatening a pre-emptive strike. See Operation Opera. And the attack in Syria in 2007.

Unfortunately, now Israel has escalated things. They've become a state sponsor of terrorism on Iranian soil. Netanyahu routinely makes public condemnations of Iran and Ahmadinejad and threatens pre-emptive airstrikes. Iran is obviously viewed as a clear danger.

But whether you believe that Israel has been provoked into escalating things or not, the situation doesn't exist in a vacuum.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2012


You have a link for that declaration?


Try the Decree of Cyrus the Great.

Notice also that Israel has no interest in going to war against Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan or any other country in that region.

You might as well be asking for a link to show that a bear is Catholic and the Pope shits in the woods.
posted by ocschwar at 8:55 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]



Given that Israel is famous for preemptive attacks. They struck an Iraqi reactor under construction, flying without permission over Jordan and Saudi Arabia to do so. They struck what they claimed was a Syrian nuclear site (and probably was one) in 2007. Israel made an attack on Tunisia in 1985 -- some, oh, three countries away, and two of those countries are Libya and Egypt -- both very large -- hell, Tunisia is southwest of Italy.


And was hosting the leader of a paramilitary force that was repeatedly attacking Israel, as well as remaining in a declared war on Israel from 1948 onwards.
posted by ocschwar at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2012


oschwar: Not in the slightest. Israel has no interest in locking horns with a country 3 states away. It is Iran that declared the state of war.

Florian? Florian, is that you?
posted by Malor at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2012


Iran's President has been saber rattling about how important Israel is to them as a scapegoat Israelis are detestable, and the country must be wiped off the map, for years.
Isn't it odd how he would use an English idiom like "wiped off the map" despite the fact he was speaking Farsi at the time and doesn't speak English?

Also, Ahmadinejad is not the actual leader in Iran, and he wouldn't have the authority to bomb anyone. The person in charge is Ayatollah Khamenei. Many senior politicians in the US, as well as Israel have made public comments about bombing Iran. John McCain even sang a song about it during the campaign.

It's pretty ridiculous how one translation of an idiom by antagonistic translators gets so much play, while the saber rattling from the US and Israel is apparently not an issue at all.

Back during the cold war There was a quote from Krushchev saying "We will bury you" that was translated as implying they were going to try to kill us all and justify all kinds of cold-war anti-communist hysteria. But in the actual context he apparently meant that history was on the side of the working classes, that eventually they would overcome, bla bla bla.

It's ridiculous to take a single translated idiom and interpret it as a threat, especially when the translation is being done by people who want to drum up hostility. Has Iran ever made a literal threat to destroy Israel, or is that idiomatic English expression all there is? (In contrast to the clearly literal threats emanating from US and Israeli political leaders all the time)
posted by delmoi at 8:57 AM on June 1, 2012 [24 favorites]


So is this now a confirmed act of war by the United States and Israel on Iran?

Don't be silly. It's only an act of war when a Muslim country does it to us - not the other way around.

See also: "killing thousands of civilians with missiles".
posted by Trurl at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mild irony, but of the sort we're so accustomed to by now that it's barely worth pointing out: "The Obama administration will hold a public meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss industry and government efforts to combat botnet activity."

Further irony: One of these botnets makes use of Stuxnet code.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]



Back during the cold war There was a quote from Krushchev saying "We will bury you" that was translated as implying they were going to try to kill us all and justify all kinds of cold-war anti-communist hysteria. But in the actual context he apparently meant that history was on the side of the working classes, that eventually they would overcome, bla bla bla.


That actual context was not publicly known for a long time. Even as late as the 1990's, Kruschev's son needed to explain that his father's remark was borne of doctrinaire Marxism and not warlike intent.
posted by ocschwar at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2012


I think it's pretty clear that if Iran were not viewed as a danger by Israel, meaning if that their leader hadn't spent the better part of the last eight years making speeches condemning Zionism and Israel in the strongest possible terms to anyone who would listen
Argentina has been condemning the UK over the Falkland islands for years. Clearly the UK should launch a preemptive military strike. That's just logic.
posted by delmoi at 9:00 AM on June 1, 2012


Argentina has been condemning the UK over the Falkland islands for years. Clearly the UK should launch a preemptive military strike. That's just logic.


Iran is also in a declared state of war with Israel.

Puts Israel's intentions about this in a slightly different light, no? If you declare war on someone, you give him the prerogative to commit acts of war against and not have those acts considered aggression.

Which does make a good case for giving peace a chance.
posted by ocschwar at 9:02 AM on June 1, 2012


Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?

So you think there should be more nuclear weapons in this world?

That I'm not on board with. At all.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on June 1, 2012


Iran is also in a declared state of war with Israel

Citation still needed, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2012


And by citation, I mean a real one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


But in general, they were just saying that it's a bad idea for the US to do cyberattacks, because any new techniques we come up with can be turned against us

This is nonsense. Every other nation pinky swears they won't use cyber attacks if we don't? Other countries don't do their own reserach and espionage? Other countries have nothing to gain from such an attack except revenge against America?
posted by spaltavian at 9:14 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Umm. From what I understand, the US doesn't take this level of cyberwar very seriously. They're more about disrupting the operations of a targeted device directly - low level hardware hacks at a distance. Which is amazing in and of itself, with the purported ability to subvert radar and sonar systems at will, making US and allied planes and subs invisible to enemy equipment, etc, etc. They haven't demonstrated the subtlety and expertise required for APT, or even an interest. They see it as a private sector issue: buy a better firewall, done.

I'm not saying it couldn't have been the US or Israel, but...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:15 AM on June 1, 2012


So you think there should be more nuclear weapons in this world?

That I'm not on board with. At all.


Well, it sounds stronger when it comes from states that don't already have them. When nuclear powers try to contain proliferation, it's pretty much "how dare you try to acquire technology that we're prepared to use against you?"

The United States trying to prevent Iran from having nukes is like a belligerent drunk pulling someone out of a liquor store and lecturing them about sobriety. At gun-point.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


The will bury you remark was clear to any intelligent person. The remark about Argentina is just plain silly. Iran has not declared war against Israel but week ago their top general said they would
destroy Israel--it is not then just the nutty president saying such things. Iran funds Hezbollah and Hamas and Assad's Syria.
posted by Postroad at 9:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Argentina has been condemning the UK over the Falkland islands for years. Clearly the UK should launch a preemptive military strike. That's just logic.

Wisdom of Israel messing with Iran aside, you can't possibly believe these two situations are parallel in any significant way right? I can't see that Argentina would pose much of a threat to the UK at all even if it suddenly decided it really wanted to. Why write up a false equivalence?

Iran is also in a declared state of war with Israel

No it isn't. Frankly, I don't know that they would bother.
posted by Winnemac at 9:18 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


ISRAel makes threats? of course: Iran building nukes that defy signed agreements and has stated it will destroy Israel...what would you do?here is what Egypt now says

Retired Egyptian General Abd Al-Hamid Umran Calls for an Egyptian Nuclear Program: We Should Follow the Iranian Model and Deceive the International Community video here.
posted by Postroad at 9:20 AM on June 1, 2012


When did metafilter become such a warlike bunch?

If we could resolve all world conflicts with cyber-'war', I would be thrilled.

Personally, I'd reserve the word for actions that might get people killed.
posted by empath at 9:21 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Israel but week ago their top general said they would
destroy Israel
How-come you people never have any links? Uh huh, and in '08. Hillary Clinton said we would "totally obliterate" them. Now she's secretary of state.

The problem is that people are looking at the threats from one side, and ignoring the threats from the other side. It's really ridiculous.

Now, Clinton did say that the obliteration would be our response to their actions, did this "top general" make a conditional statement or did he just say he wanted to destroy Israel without provocation? Because it does make a difference. And without a link, we can't see the context for ourselves.

Not that it matters anyway, clearly many people are dug into ideological positions and are totally incapable of reasoning about things. Why bother making an argument if people either can't understand it or don't bother to try?
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


ISRAel makes threats? of course: Iran building nukes that defy signed agreements and has stated it will destroy Israel...what would you do?here is what Egypt now says
Israel is not a signatory to the NPT, so they don't get a say. The agreement is not With Isreal. It's with us, and other signatories (basically every other country in the world). And we are working with them to bring them into compliance.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on June 1, 2012


and then there is the cold war notion that if lots of nations have lots of nukes, each would be afraid to use them..but the cold war was US versus Russia...now we talk about Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey (they have said they would get them if Iran does) , Pakistan, India, Israel...why not Syria and Iraq?
posted by Postroad at 9:30 AM on June 1, 2012


It's "bad cop, worst cop" really, the only sane thing is to hunker down when the spittle starts to fly then keep going about your business when they get distracted.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:30 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: " It's ridiculous to take a single translated idiom and interpret it as a threat

I didn't. I gave you an entire list of quotes from him, gathered by the ADL over eight years, that show a wide range of condemnations of Zionism, Israel, Holocaust denial and claims that seem to channel the Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- including the old, ridiculously antisemitic canard that no Jews were killed on 9/11 because Zionists were behind those attacks.

especially when the translation is being done by people who want to drum up hostility.

The translations -- all of them taken collectively -- seem clear. They are from multiple sources and news outlets, as well as videos (like the one I link below). If nothing else, there's a pretty clear theme that emerges when we look at his statements given in speeches and media appearances over the years. He talks about his desire to see Zionism and Israel destroyed -- either by their own hand or by outside eradicators, frequently enough that it's stupid to say he's not being clear about what he wants

Has Iran ever made a literal threat to destroy Israel, or is that idiomatic English expression all there is? (In contrast to the clearly literal threats emanating from US and Israeli political leaders all the time)"

As stated above, that idiomatic expression is not all there is. Ahmadinejad has made multiple statements over the years. This is not the same as a declaration of war, which has not happened (to the best of my knowledge). I do not know if the President of Iran would actually have the power to declare war on Israel without permission / approval from Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

Ha'aretz:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was determined to eradicate Israel, ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

"Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network, carried by ISNA.

"Iran follows this issue (the eradication of Israel) with determination and decisiveness and will never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policy," the Iranian president added in the interview with the Al-Manar network.
Here's a link to the interview. It's an hour long. Worth noting that while the statements quoted above are accurate, this video was inaccurately used by Michelle Bachmann last year to claim that Ahmadinejad had said he was going to nuke Israel. He did not say that.

Also, to be clear, literal threats of preemptive strikes against nuclear facilities or no, neither the United States or Israel has threatened to either destroy or eradicate Iran.
posted by zarq at 9:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think folks here are missing the potential impact of cyberwar. Stuxnet was a beautifully crafted, tightly focussed weapon targeting a single type of machinery at a single facility. When it "escaped" it didn't do any extra harm, because it was developed as a precision attack. A responsible weapon.

By contrast, a terrorist-class cyberweapon could just go wreck random havoc. I'm convinced any existing botnet of 100,000 machines could shut down the entire Internet for several days. Would people die as a result? Hopefully not. But it would absolutely screw up a lot of world economy. Only temporarily, but it would sure shake the world's confidence.

More targeted cyberattacks could do a lot more harm. Power plants, waste control facilities, financial markets, air traffic control. I don't think it'd be hard to use computer software to get people killed. What no one knows is how good defenses are against this class of attack.

PS: I think the Israel/Iran discussion here is a derail. I'd love to see more discussion about the new part in this story, the online attacks.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone in Iran an angry IT support guy is sending a mail to all going "What did I tell you all about bringing in your own USB sticks!"
posted by Damienmce at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2012


*where
posted by Damienmce at 9:35 AM on June 1, 2012


The US Secretary of State: In the next 10 years, during which [Iran] might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.
posted by Trurl at 9:37 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


ocschwar: " Iran is also in a declared state of war with Israel. "

No, they're not. Not officially. Acts of state-sponsored terrorism notwithstanding, no formal declaration has been made. Israel has now also been outed as perpetrating their own acts of state sponsored terrorism. If one is an act of war, so is the other. And Israel's actions can't be justified by Iran's.
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


the same folks who here belittle cyber attempts to slow down or stop Iran from getting nukes are the same people who will protest if we attack their sites physically, and yet they offer no alternative, unless it is the implied, let them get and do what they want.

False choice: those are not the only two options available.

And it's not the same folks, for the reasons behind not using state-sponsored computer attacks are not the same as the reasons for not invading another country.
posted by JHarris at 9:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


In this corner, Iran, a country that has done things like bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires of all places.

ITYM "has been accused off, but never proven to do things like" etc.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2012


ITYM "has been accused off, but never proven to do things like" etc.


Because they did this in a jurisdiction that bent over backwards to avoid proving it.
posted by ocschwar at 9:42 AM on June 1, 2012


I think the Israel/Iran discussion here is a derail

Only if you believe that the US launching an Israeli co-authored cyberweapon against Israel's most feared adversary has nothing to do with the Israel/Iran situation.

Which would be meshuggeneh.
posted by Trurl at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do we no longer trust anonymous sources from reputable journalism institutions?

Wait, is the NYT once again supposed to be a "reputable" journalism institution? I thought we were done with them after all the Iraq war bullshit.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm convinced any existing botnet of 100,000 machines could shut down the entire Internet for several days.

And yet, nobody has tried. Them internet terrorists are surprisingly self-restrained.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2012



False choice: those are not the only two options available.

ok: third choice now in play...sanctions that seem not to hurt because China, Russia, and India still getting oil they want/need.

What do you recommend now, if sanctions fail?
posted by Postroad at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2012


Obviously the next step would be to start a regional war that kills a million people. Seems only logical.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not just Stuxnet, there's also Duqu and Flame/SkyWiper. Duqu looks to be part of hte same program as Stuxnet, but Flame is older and different code, albeit the same general design philosophy.

More on Flame: Meet ‘Flame,’ The Massive Spy Malware Infiltrating Iranian Computers
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]




What do you recommend now, if sanctions fail?

Acceptance of the reality that we are not able to impose American will everywhere on the planet.

For extra credit: Abandoning the hypocrisy that America and Israel have an entitlement to nuclear weapons that Iran does not.
posted by Trurl at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


By contrast, a terrorist-class cyberweapon could just go wreck random havoc. I'm convinced any existing botnet of 100,000 machines could shut down the entire Internet for several days. Would people die as a result? Hopefully not. But it would absolutely screw up a lot of world economy.
Again, who gives a shit? I'm sure 9/11 family members would rather have their computers not work for a couple days then lose their loved ones. They would probably barely even remember it today.

If terrorists want to invest their time and resources into writing viruses instead of building bombs and killing people that would be a great thing for the world! In fact, they wouldn't even be terrorists then, they'd just be "Hacktavists" like Anonymous/Lulzec.
---
show a wide range of condemnations of Zionism, Israel, Holocaust denial and claims that seem to channel the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ... no Jews were killed on 9/11 because Zionists were behind those attacks
So what? Do you think Isreal has a right to bomb countries that say mean things about it? The question was whether or not Iran has threatened preemptive strikes against Israel, the same way the US and Isreal have threatened preemptive strikes against it. Random bullshit, regardless of how preposterous is not a threat.

I mean, do you really think it would be hard to find a bunch of quotes from US leaders calling Iran crazy suicide loving lunatics who think the world is going to end and are not rational bla bla bla.
The translations -- all of them taken collectively -- seem clear.
It's clear that he doesn't like Israel, but it's not clear that he has stated that he will destroy it. The main quote people use to illustrate how Iran wants to destroy Israel is still the "wiped off the map" thing, which is, again, an idiomatic English expression.
"Iran follows this issue (the eradication of Israel) with determination and decisiveness and will never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policy," the Iranian president added in the interview with the Al-Manar network.
Wow, that's a pretty brilliant use of the parenthetical! Let's try it on your comment:
The (evidence that Iranians are all pig-dogs who need to be slaughtered until blood runs knee deep in the streets of Teheran) -- all of (it) taken collectively -- seem clear.
Wow! Seems dangerous now!
Also, to be clear, literal threats of preemptive strikes against nuclear facilities or no, neither the United States or Israel has threatened to either destroy or eradicate Iran.
Dude, I just linked to a video where Hillary Clinton said we would obliterate Iran. And clearly she meant it literally.
If nothing else, there's a pretty clear theme that emerges when we look at his statements given in speeches and media appearances over the years. He talks about his desire to see Zionism and Israel destroyed
I never said that he liked Israel. I simply asked, where has any Iranian stated that they seek to preemptively attack and physically destroy Israel and kill all (or most or whatever) Israelis?

There is a lot of heated rhetoric on both sides. It seems like you're saying that Isreal has a right to attack countries where politicians say mean things about them.

But that has nothing to do with what we're discussing -- which is that some people have claimed that Iran has stated that they want physically destroy Israel, to the extent that if they had nuclear weapons they would use them to do so.

No one said that Iran liked Israel, or that they only said nice things about them or even that they didn't spout conspiracy theories about them. That's utterly irrelevant. Where is the statement that shows Iran wants to physically destroy Israel without provocation?

The is always that they have literally said they would destroy Israel, not that there is a "theme" in some set of arbitrarily selected quotes that indicates they totally, secretly, want too.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nuclear weapons? Cyber attacks? I can't help but unplug the nouns and hear the same old song, a few different verb permutations, but pretty much the same level of hubris.

I can see how a cyber attack might do massive damage to a country such as the US, and less damage to a country such as, say, Afghanistan. Deaths will follow a technical blackout here in the US....hospitals, aircraft crashes, commuter trains...spotty effects, to be sure, but still it would produce a bunch of dead bodies and screw up our electronic infrastructure (think ATMs, for example, or any pay day not made in cash). This is not as bad as, say, several hundred nuclear bombs coming over the north pole to rain down on us, but still, several thousands of us would probably die right away, a few thousand more would die before measures were taken to adjust, and the rest of us would be put off our feed for a while. Maybe we'd be pissed off enough to get a few subs to come to the surface and teach them little bastards what it means to fuck with a country that has missile subs cruising the seas.

So,now we are equating cyber attacks with nuclear weapons as a diplomatic tool. Seems like a pretty stupid version of gunboat diplomacy, but I guess there's no accounting for stupid.

About the nukes: nah. They never were a good idea, and they still aren't. I was in the EW field in the military for a few years--US Army Security Agency (MOS 98J, 1967-1971). I'm not an expert at anything beyond reading (what is now outdated) telemetry signals and some old fire-control radar systems that were associated with SAM missiles, and the like.

I did get an elevated view of how nuclear strikes work. I had the opportunity to look at them as a real possibility, not just vaguely alarmist rhetoric... sitting on position just below the Arctic Circle--I listened to funny sounds on headphones and looked at squiggly lines on an oscilloscope. Every so often I would watch a Soviet launch come rising into my radio horizon, so I would run the TM through analyses to determine if it was a communications satellite, a photo-recon satellite, or an ICBM headed for North America. I had a few dozen 20-minute blocks of time where I was not sure whether the United States would be there later on that day.

My collateral education in those days let me observe layouts of several projected impact areas in the continental US, and I cleverly deduced that when our ABM systems took out 90% of the incoming missiles (the Soviets targeted an area the size of Missouri, for example, with about 350 nuclear bombs, so do the math), the rest would still kill too many people for me to try to count. It's ironic that these deductions on my part were not rocket science in the classical sense of the term, just scary arithmetic.

Nuclear weapons are not a credible threat in any meaningful way.

Rights are a fiction, and as such can be adjudicated by any court that claims jurisdiction, or any pissed off citizen with an RPG. Banging drums and waving flags have nothing to do with rights, except to encourage the stupid to take their collective foot off the clutch, as it were, and let the machine do its thing.
posted by mule98J at 10:07 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "How-come you people never have any links? Uh huh, and in '08. Hillary Clinton said we would "totally obliterate" them. Now she's secretary of state.
...
Now, Clinton did say that the obliteration would be our response to their actions,


Yes, she most certainly did. Worth noting as well that not only did she say this while on the campaign trail, but then-candidate Obama had something to say about it in response at the time.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned Tehran on Tuesday that if she were president, the United States could "totally obliterate" Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.

On the day of a crucial vote in her nomination battle against fellow Democrat Barack Obama, the New York senator said she wanted to make clear to Tehran what she was prepared to do as president in hopes that this warning would deter any Iranian nuclear attack against the Jewish state.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel)," Clinton said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them," she said.

"That's a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic," Clinton said.

Her comments appeared harder than a week ago, when during a presidential debate she promised "massive retaliation" against any Iranian attack on Israel.

Obama rejected Clinton's rhetoric as saber rattling on a day when Pennsylvania Democrats voted in a party primary contest that could help decide which Democrat will face Republican John McCain for the White House in the November general election.

"One of the things that we've seen over the last several years is a bunch of talk using words like 'obliterate,'" Obama, an Illinois senator, said in a separate ABC interview. "It doesn't actually produce good results. And so I'm not interested in saber rattling."
So if Israel gets nuked, she'd destroy Iran. If she were President. She's not. The guy who said that sort of rhetoric wasn't productive is.

...did this "top general" make a conditional statement or did he just say he wanted to destroy Israel without provocation?

Without provocation.
Top Commander Reiterates Iran's Commitment to Full Annihilation of Israel

TEHRAN (FNA)- Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said threats and pressures cannot deter Iran from its revolutionary causes and ideals, and stressed that the Iranian nation will remain committed to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end.
Worth noting that even though FARS News Agency bills themselves as an independent news source, they're considered a somewhat official mouthpiece for the iranian government.

Because it does make a difference.

Yes, it does. Now that you have the link and are more knowledgable, would you like to comment further on his statement?

Not that it matters anyway, clearly many people are dug into ideological positions and are totally incapable of reasoning about things. Why bother making an argument if people either can't understand it or don't bother to try?"

No, some of us are happy to discuss it reasonably, without ideological blinders. However, I'm not seeing a great deal of hope for sanity here, on either side. Nor do I think we should be whitewashing what the protagonists are actually saying.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


One more should-be-obvious point: A campaign bullet-point for Romney and the GOP is "Obama is weak against Iran; not doing anything to stop them", which this pretty much refutes... unfortunately you're never going to successfully explain anything this complex, subtle and fact-based to most Republican voters.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:11 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


...now we talk about Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey (they have said they would get them if Iran does) , Pakistan, India, Israel...why not Syria and Iraq?

*sings* We'll try to stay serene and calm, when Hezbollah gets the bomb!
posted by happyroach at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2012


What is frightening is that it is very likely that most networks inthe USA are equally compromised.

There are nations that have 24/7 infiltration teams hacking their way into every Fortune 500 business and military contractor.

There is no data security.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq it means as much as it does when high ranking US military general believes and teaches subordinate officers that the US is locked in a struggle to the end with Islam. Do you believe it? Does Obama believe it? Are we? No. The answer is just because some dumb-ass shoots his mouth off and holds incendiary views, does not mean its true.

So let's address the fact that the President of Iran, does not hold true power. He cannot declare war (aside from his inflammatroy statements being used by other countries to incite warfare), he cannot launch missiles, is now at his political weakest. He is used most by other countries as a scaremonger.

The true political and religions leader in Iran has said that using nuclear weapons on civilian populations is anathema to Islam, and forbidden. Sure, he could be just saying that. But he's the one in charge.
posted by stratastar at 10:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Link about Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin.
posted by stratastar at 10:32 AM on June 1, 2012


Whatever would the world's dictators do without Metafilter to defend them?
posted by Behemoth at 10:35 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am emphatically in favor of this. I mean, since 9/11, it's been clear that we're living in a sci fi dystopia. The question is : which dystopia do you want to live in? A boring 1984 dystopia, or the one with precogs and killer robots and computer viruses that shut down uranium enrichment facilities?

I, for one, choose killer robots every time.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "So what? Do you think Isreal has a right to bomb countries that say mean things about it?

No. Nor do I approve of Israel's current escalation in activities against Iran.

However, I do believe eight years of fairly alarming genocidal rhetoric coupled with a drive toward obtaining weapons of mass destruction might be of justifiable concern to a group of people who remember what happened the last time a leader with a grudge against their people, armed with an army and an arsenal, started spouting antisemitic tropes and saying they needed to be eradicated.

The question was whether or not Iran has threatened preemptive strikes against Israel, the same way the US and Isreal have threatened preemptive strikes against it. Random bullshit, regardless of how preposterous is not a threat.

You did not say that. That was not the question you raised. This is a new question you are asking. What you said was: "Has Iran ever made a literal threat to destroy Israel, or is that idiomatic English expression all there is? (In contrast to the clearly literal threats emanating from US and Israeli political leaders all the time)"" And that was the question I answered.

Don't move the goal posts when you don't like my answers, delmoi.

Anyway, the answer to your question is yes.

I mean, do you really think it would be hard to find a bunch of quotes from US leaders calling Iran crazy suicide loving lunatics who think the world is going to end and are not rational bla bla bla.

Not "US leaders." Presidents. Let's be crystal clear here: when we're talking about Ahmadinajad, the statements I quoted and linked to are being made by the President of Iran in public appearances, repeatedly for years. And yes, that does matter. Because one Senator or Congressman doesn't have the ability to launch a war all by themselves. But the President of the United States can and has. There's ample precedent.

The comments being made about Iran conducting pre-emptive strikes and destroying Israel are coming from Iran's military leadership. Which I've also sourced for you with links to articles in FARS and MSNBC.

It's clear that he doesn't like Israel, but it's not clear that he has stated that he will destroy it.

He's nicely coy about it, isn't he? He's happy to declare that anyone who cares about justice, the plight of the Palestinians and human rights will support eradicating Zionism, Zionists and Israel. But he's tried to give himself enough wiggle room in most of his quotes for plausible deniability, too. And of course, we know why. He's funding and supplying terrorist organizations: Hamas and Hezbollah. So if someone else does his dirty work, he's in favor of it. And if not, his generals have gotten the message anyway.

The main quote people use to illustrate how Iran wants to destroy Israel is still the "wiped off the map" thing, which is, again, an idiomatic English expression.

You keep bringing up the map quote. I'm really not sure how to make it clear to you that this was never my only sourced quote, and I have only mentioned it here in passing. I gave you an hour-long video and a bunch of other quotes.

Wow, that's a pretty brilliant use of the parenthetical! Let's try it on your comment:
"The (evidence that Iranians are all pig-dogs who need to be slaughtered until blood runs knee deep in the streets of Teheran) -- all of (it) taken collectively -- seem clear."


Are you really saying you can't argue this out in good faith without devolving the conversation into ridiculous idiocy? Really?

I truly thought better of you than that.

Dude, I just linked to a video where Hillary Clinton said we would obliterate Iran. And clearly she meant it literally.

I addressed this in a previous comment.

I never said that he liked Israel. I simply asked, where has any Iranian stated that they seek to preemptively attack and physically destroy Israel and kill all (or most or whatever) Israelis?

I addressed this in a previous comment.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


So is this now a confirmed act of war by the United States and Israel on Iran? According to the Pentagon, "computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war."

Can =/= does. Do you even read what you post? The US government is the target of overseas cyberattacks all the time, but we haven't actually declared war on anyone. Sure, if someone tried to shut down our entire national grid, we would probably do so, because that would have massive and immediately deleterious consequences.

Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?

Nuclear strike death tolls tend to be very large, also horrific. The number of direct casualties from Stuxnet? Zero. We didn't shut down their electrical grid, we attacked a specific nuclear development program. This is exponentially better than wasting vast numbers of lives, hardware, money and political capital trying to bomb our way through a mountain.

So the US is likely to be the target of more cyberattacks in turn. Fine, I'll take it. The body counts in a virtualized war are likely to be much, much lower than in a conventional one.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:43 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


if you believe Iran is just being talky about Israel' s destruction, then read these links

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/insideisrael/2011/September/Iran-Diplomat-PA-Bid-Meant-to-Destroy-Israel--/

http://www.jnewswire.com/article/21

http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/ayatollah-kill-all-jews-annihilate-israel/

http://www.israelnewsagency.com/iranisraelnuclearterrorism500710.html
posted by Postroad at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2012


For anyone interested, the Anti-Defamation League has a list of all the various anti-Semetic statements made by Ahmadinejad.
posted by allseeingabstract at 10:49 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not "US leaders." Presidents. Let's be crystal clear here: when we're talking about Ahmadinajad, the statements I quoted and linked to are being made by the President of Iran in public appearances, repeatedly for years. And yes, that does matter. Because one Senator or Congressman doesn't have the ability to launch a war all by themselves. But the President of the United States can and has. There's ample precedent.

Yeah, but the President of Iran has a Supreme Leader who can reconfigure his government at a whim and isn't subject to elections, a very different situation from the US. The equivalent would be if Joe Biden did all the day-to-day work of the Presidency and Obama only spoke in public occasionally and crpyptically. It's disingenuous of you to treat the presidencies as the same, just as it's disingenuous of Delmoi to ignore the unusually bellicose stance of the Iranian government.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2012


Once again, but a little more shouty Supreme Leader Khamenei

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

““We have said repeatedly that our religious beliefs and principles prohibit such weapons as they are the symbol of destruction of generations. And for this reason we do not believe in weapons and atomic bombs and do not seek them.”

2009:
“They (Western countries) falsely accuse the Islamic republic’s establishment of producing nuclear weapons. We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the use and production of nuclear weapons. This is because of our ideology, not because of politics or fear of arrogant powers or an onslaught of international propaganda. We stand firm for our ideology.”

This is quoting Juan Cole, who can only be maligned for being shrill with the prospect of the useless deaths of hundreds of thousands :

"Khamenei has also repeatedly said that Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, that it will not fire the first shot in any conflict."
posted by stratastar at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Khamenei has also repeatedly said that Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, that it will not fire the first shot in any conflict."

Tell that to the Argentine Jewish community.
posted by ocschwar at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I mean, since 9/11, it's been clear that we're living in a sci fi dystopia. The question is : which
> dystopia do you want to live in? A boring 1984 dystopia, or the one with precogs and killer
> robots and computer viruses that shut down uranium enrichment facilities?

We can't have both?
posted by jfuller at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2012


Linking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Worldnet Daily, an Israeli site that looks like a Geocities page, and Jnewswire? Are you trolling?

Anyway, from the Wired article about Flame:
The researchers say they don’t know yet how an initial infection of Flame occurs on a machine before it starts spreading. The malware has the ability to infect a fully patched Windows 7 computer, which suggests that there may be a zero-day exploit in the code that the researchers have not yet found.
This could point towards involvement on behalf of US based software companies, doesn't it?
posted by codacorolla at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/ayatollah-kill-all-jews-annihilate-israel/

WND has colorful theories on... a number of subjects. You'll need to explain why they are more credible on this one than the others.
posted by Trurl at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


And if you think Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are in good cop - bad cop cahoots, read the full links.
Israel has backed themselves in a fucking corner over their bellicosity and are more worried about losing face than their own safety.
posted by stratastar at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2012


Isn't it odd how he would use an English idiom like "wiped off the map" despite the fact he was speaking Farsi at the time and doesn't speak English?


From the Washington Post:

The firestorm started when Nazila Fathi, then the Tehran correspondent of The New York Times, reported a story almost six years ago that was headlined: “Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says.” The article attributed newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks to a report by the ISNA press agency.

The article sparked outrage around the globe, with then-President George W. Bush and other world leaders condemning Ahmadinejad’s statement. The original New York Times article noted that Ahmadinejad said he was quoting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, but that aspect was largely overlooked.

Then, specialists such as Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and  Arash Norouzi of the Mossadegh Project pointed out that the original statement in Persian did not say that Israel should be wiped from the map, but instead that it would collapse.

Cole said this week that in the 1980s Khomeini gave a speech in which he said in Persian “Een rezhim-i eshghalgar-i Quds bayad az sahneh-i ruzgar mahv shaved.” This means, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.” But then anonymous wire service translators rendered Khomeini as saying that Israel “must be wiped off the face of the map,” which Cole and Nourouzi say is inaccurate.

Ahmadinejad slightly misquoted Khomeini, substituting “safheh-i ruzgar,” or “page of time" for "sahneh-i ruzgar" or “arena of time.” But in any case, the old translation was dug up and used again by the Iranian news agency, Cole says. In fact, that’s how it was presented for years on Ahmadinejad’s English-language Web site, as the Times noted in a somewhat defensive article on the translation debate.

 But the story doesn’t end there. Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, notes that Iranian government entities began to erect billboards and signs with the “wipe off” phrase in English. Joshua Teitelbaum of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs compiled an interesting collection of photographs of these banners, such as one on the building that houses reserve military forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “Israel should be wiped out of the face of the world,” the sign reads in English.
posted by allseeingabstract at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


ocschwar: ""Khamenei has also repeatedly said that Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, that it will not fire the first shot in any conflict."

Tell that to the Argentine Jewish community.
"

I think there's a difference between third party actors (or arguably second party Hezbollah) and the launch of state war / a nuclear weapon. Or as written above:

knapah: "and shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, and aided the overthrow of Iran's democratically elected government in favour of the installation of a dictator.

America has form when it comes to this stuff.
"
posted by stratastar at 10:56 AM on June 1, 2012


Come to think of it, having your other three links be to sources with "Israel", "Jerusalem", and "Christian" in their names means you're batting 0-for-4 today.
posted by Trurl at 10:56 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, what sort of Operating System is Iran running for their top priority systems? Surely it's not Windows 7 as the Wired article suggests.
posted by codacorolla at 10:56 AM on June 1, 2012


Also, what sort of Operating System is Iran running for their top priority systems? Surely it's not Windows 7 as the Wired article suggests.

It has a lot of security enhancements, you know.
posted by Trurl at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, it sure is nice to fight about who might be more morally justified in a preemptive attack on civilian targets. War is largely stupid because tribalism/patriotism is largely stupid. Everyone1 who starts a war these days claims they're justified in doing so because they are in fact the aggrieved party, that otherwise they would be helpless against their supposed aggressors. That's just how war talk works now. (Is that the only actual surviving legacy of Neuremburg?) I'm not sure how much value there is in arguing over which parties are simply paranoid and which parties are willfully manipulating the truth.

1For certain values of 'everyone.'
posted by nobody at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2012


Also, what sort of Operating System is Iran running for their top priority systems? Surely it's not Windows 7 as the Wired article suggests.

They're running whatever the vendor, Siemens in this case, sold them to run their equipment. Often, that means a control console application running on Windows software - the back end server could be Linux or Solaris or whatever, and the embedded controller could be BSD or RTOS or somesuch, but it will come in contact with a desktop running windows at some point, but the operators are usually at windows PCs, running a java or windows app.

Maintaining the "air gap" - physically separating critical networks from outside attack - is notoriously difficult. The US military has taken to removing optical drives and sealing USB ports with epoxy, and they still had an infestation at their topmost-security drone C&C center when someone brought over a removable drive from a less secure location.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of this discussion assumes Iran are actually building/developing nuclear weapons. I was going to quote Khameini's rulings that nuclear weapons are unislamic, but stratastar got there first. Instead I'll point out that even US intelligence agencies don't think they're developing them.
posted by knapah at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2012


(that was probably all a bit uninformed. sorry about the mini-rant.)
posted by nobody at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2012


Going off of Slap*Happy's explanation, it seems like real power in this type of warfare seems to be the ability to lean on domestic IT companies (either software producers like Microsoft, or factory workers as in the case of the infected Chinese hardware) to subvert the normal rules of the game. There's a marked difference between an independent hacker finding and capitalizing on a zero-day exploit and being handed the keys to the kingdom by the company itself.
posted by codacorolla at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2012



I think there's a difference between third party actors (or arguably second party Hezbollah) and the launch of state war


There is. It's called a fig leaf.
posted by ocschwar at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


stratastar: "zarq it means as much as it does when high ranking US military general believes and teaches subordinate officers that the US is locked in a struggle to the end with Islam. Do you believe it? Does Obama believe it? Are we? No. The answer is just because some dumb-ass shoots his mouth off and holds incendiary views, does not mean its true.

Despite widely reported evidence to the contrary, one in 6 Americans believes President Obama is a Muslim. That's 52 million people, give or take a few morons. This could tank his chances for re-election in states like Illinois and Missouri, where the percentage of people who believe he's a Muslim are even higher.

The world is full of dumb-asses who shoot their mouths off. That doesn't prevent lies from being dangerous.

Also see: Cato the Elder and Carthago delenda est. The more something is repeated over time, the more likely people are to give it serious consideration.

So let's address the fact that the President of Iran, does not hold true power. He cannot declare war (aside from his inflammatroy statements being used by other countries to incite warfare), he cannot launch missiles, is now at his political weakest. He is used most by other countries as a scaremonger.

This is true. But I still have concerns. US Presidents are nominally disallowed from waging unlimited war without the approval of Congress. They got around that by not bothering to declare war. Could he do the same?

In Iran: What effect is he having on those who are desperate to vilify and hate Israel? On those who might be on the fence? Ahmadinejad has influence. He is still a popular leader in Iran, especially with the younger generations of Iranians, and is spending a great deal of his time indoctrinating them with dangerous ideas through speeches and public opinions. He's certainly not considered a crank.

With groups that Iran supplies with arms and money to fight Israel: He's a guaranteed source of support.

The true political and religions leader in Iran has said that using nuclear weapons on civilian populations is anathema to Islam, and forbidden. Sure, he could be just saying that. But he's the one in charge."

I hope so. But on the other hand, he's on record as saying:
"In future too, we will support and help everyone who opposes the Zionist regime," the Leader underscored.

"The Zionist regime is a real cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut, God Willing," Ayatollah Khamenei underscored.
So I'm not particularly reassured.

anigbrowl: "Yeah, but the President of Iran has a Supreme Leader who can reconfigure his government at a whim and isn't subject to elections, a very different situation from the US.

Despite the fact that Khameini's capable of acting unilaterally, he's acting as if he's not. I see what's happening in the lead up to the Iranian elections and I don't understand it completely. Khameini is at odds with Ahmadinijad, okay. But why isn't he acting unilaterally?? I suspect Ahmadinejad has more political power than he seems. But I have no hard evidence of it.

The equivalent would be if Joe Biden did all the day-to-day work of the Presidency and Obama only spoke in public occasionally and crpyptically. It's disingenuous of you to treat the presidencies as the same,

Less disingenuous than ignorant, tbh. I made an assumption. But still not right of me, I agree. That's a fair criticism. I don't know enough about the actual power that Ahmadinejad holds (and what he can't do) to be speaking about it so forcefully. Sorry.
posted by zarq at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


What do you recommend now, if sanctions fail?

I would recommend a "No War" foreign policy.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


it seems like real power in this type of warfare seems to be the ability to lean on domestic IT companies

Which is why some of the APT researchers I know still think this is a Europe thing, not American/Israeli. Real easy for our continental friends to lean on Siemens for source code and schematics. Iran thinks so, too, and launched a retaliatory strike at a Dutch CA.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:31 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've heard some Iranians, who are no fans of their government, say that "zionist regime" refers to the government(s) of Israel which have and are promoting settlement building and continuing to occupy the west bank and Gaza. I mean, that's obviously debatable, but just thought I'd add it.

It comes from friends who were involved in the green movement, and they have no motive I can see to paint Ahmadinejad in a good light.
posted by knapah at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is. It's called a fig leaf.

So, no citation is forthcoming?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2012


Citation for what? A war declaration by Iran on Israel? Look above. Plenty of statements by Iranian government officials, coupled with acts of war by an Iranian proxy on Israel.
posted by ocschwar at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ocschwar, generally the right thing to do when you are caught in a flat lie is to apologize and back quietly out of the thread.
posted by empath at 12:06 PM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


acts of war by an Iranian proxy on Israel

By this definition, America has declared war on the Palestinian territories.

Then the Palestinians are entitled to attack America in self-defense?

Oh, right. The Muslim thing.
posted by Trurl at 12:14 PM on June 1, 2012


It's rich, some of you prattling on about "well, the US has nukes, so it's only fair that Iran should have them". If this wasn't so typical of metafilter, I'd assume trolling.

Hey, you know, it's not fair the the US has a more powerful military than the rest of the world combined. We should probably just split everything evenly with Iran, then there wouldn't be any bad feelings.

I'm not even going to pretend to give a fuck about Iran, or the military security of any country besides my own.
posted by WhitenoisE at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ocschwar, generally the right thing to do when you are caught in a flat lie is to apologize and back quietly out of the thread.

Uncalled for. And to be honest, denying Iran's overtly hostile and genocidal rhetoric towards Israel is like asking for Obama's birth certificate. Whether they really mean it or not is fair game for debate, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2012


Ocschwar, generally the right thing to do when you are caught in a flat lie is to apologize and back quietly out of the thread.


Do tell, empath, what are the requirements for a declaration of war? Do they have to be delivered in triplicate?
Iran's done that and then some. And waged a proxy war.
posted by ocschwar at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2012



I would recommend a "No War" foreign policy.
in sum: no matter which nations decide to go against treaties that are in place, just forget all things. and if 4 more nations decide to go for nukes, and they are nations with many jihadists--need I name them?--that too is ok because after all it is not your nation that has been told consistently that you are to be destroyed. So who cares, right? And if a nation that might be endangered is an ally, just tell them too bad?
posted by Postroad at 12:18 PM on June 1, 2012


ocschwar: "Plenty of statements by Iranian government officials,

None of which are a declaration of war.

...coupled with acts of war by an Iranian proxy on Israel."

Generally, countries conduct war by proxy so they don't have to declare war.
posted by zarq at 12:23 PM on June 1, 2012


So "we are committed to the destruction of your state" is not a declaration of war.

Okay. And an all out attack on a country, committed by a paramilitary force that takes its orders directly from Tehran is not an act of war.

Right.
posted by ocschwar at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2012


Postroad, you're just not enlightened enough. The US is a big mean bully, and we won't share our toys with nations who hate us.
posted by WhitenoisE at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2012


ocschwar: " Do tell, empath, what are the requirements for a declaration of war?"

Yes, there is a protocol. The national government of one country actually has to make a formal declaration stating that a state of war exists between them and another country.

The US has waged several military actions and wars by proxy over the last few years without formally declaring war.
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Generally, countries conduct war by proxy so they don't have to declare war.


Generally, when you conduct a proxy war, you HAVE declared war and are in a state of war.
posted by ocschwar at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2012


ocsshwar, this is actually a really important aspect of modern warfare. There is a legal difference between a declared war and other kinds of combat or aggression, and yes, those differences truly matter both to those waging the war and other involved parties. There is a reason why the US called the Korean War a police action, for instance.

The legal protections given to countries, soldiers and combatants when a formal declaration of war has been made are different. There are additional considerations, including how a formal war may be waged, subject to scrutiny, judgement (and possible reparations demanded) by international tribunals after the fact. Formal wars are handled differently by all involved parties.

So a proxy war is absolutely not the same as a declared war. Neither are isolated, organized or even state-sponsored acts of terrorism. Not without a formal declaration.
posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2012


And if a nation that might be endangered is an ally, just tell them too bad?

That "ally" happens to spy on its "friends" and forge passports of countries that are its "friends", in order to get away with illicit activities conducted around the world.

That "ally" seems okay with scamming its "friends", and gets away with it all too often, with Americans often left paying the price in blood and treasure. Maybe that "ally" could use hearing "too bad, but no thanks" at least once.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 PM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


empath: "Ocschwar, generally the right thing to do when you are caught in a flat lie is to apologize and back quietly out of the thread."

No, it would appear ocschwar's either not aware of the difference or doesn't think it matters. Either way, there's no reason why we can't discuss it and explain.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2012


I'm not even going to pretend to give a fuck about Iran

Fair enough.

Then it remains only to see whether you have the courage of your convictions and will call for a pre-emptive military strike against Iran with the overwhelming force that will be required to settle the issue. In practice, this will mean tactical nukes.

Up for it?
posted by Trurl at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2012


WhitenoiseE: The US is a big mean bully

The fact that you say that with scorn means that you're ignorant. Just, flat, ignorant. You have no fucking clue what's going on in the world.

Try looking up 'CIA secret wars' for the tiniest primer.
posted by Malor at 12:49 PM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


You evidently don't understand that semantics and the artful juggling of legalistic concepts trumps acts of war by Iran and its terrorist cronies, who, as we all know, abide fully by international law and the Geneva convention, fielding organized, uniformed armies that line up in neat rows prior to discharging their muskets.

Unless, you know, America or Israel are on the dispensing end, in which case you may activate your FARS and Pravda-approved outrage module.
posted by Behemoth at 12:51 PM on June 1, 2012


I'm very familiar with the history of the CIA, thanks. Context is useful. The US is a bully, no question. It's just that it's irrelevant in the debate as to whether we should allow an anti-American nation to develop nuclear weapons without any resistance.
posted by WhitenoisE at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2012


Then it remains only to see whether you have the courage of your convictions and will call for a pre-emptive military strike against Iran with the overwhelming force that will be required to settle the issue. In practice, this will mean tactical nukes.

What are you talking about? My conviction is that we should make it difficult for the Iranian government (and every other nation) to develop nuclear weapons. Not that we should sacrifice a few dozen thousand Americans in an effort to level the country.

And as if it would even require tactical nukes.
posted by WhitenoisE at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just that it's irrelevant in the debate as to whether we should allow an anti-American nation to develop nuclear weapons without any resistance.

No it is not. Not even a little bit. We've been horrifically aggressive in that area of the world for more than a decade, to the point of fighting a small proxy war within Iran itself. If they weren't trying for nuclear capability before, they'd be showing superhuman restraint to not be trying to figure it out after that. Our two-tier treatment status of nuclear versus non-nuclear nations is all too obvious.

Consider what OG_Slinger over on Gamers With Jobs said:

Now imagine what hell we'd be raising if the Iranians managed to infect computers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and destroy some equipment. We'd consider it an act of war.

If the positions were reversed, the bombers would already be enroute.
posted by Malor at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2012


Behemoth: "You evidently don't understand that semantics and the artful juggling of legalistic concepts trumps acts of war by Iran and its terrorist cronies, who, as we all know, abide fully by international law and the Geneva convention, fielding organized, uniformed armies that line up in neat rows prior to discharging their muskets."

Sarcasm aside, ocschwar was wrong. It's not semantics. We're not manipulating language to prove a point here. There is actually a structure to formally declared wars. Neither country is acting as if a formal declaration of war has been declared. Nor are their allies. The UN isn't either.

For example, if Israel had really thought Hezbollah's bombings in 2006 were a formal act of war, they would have turned Lebanon into rubble. Again. But they didn't. So they bombed them just enough to get Hezbollah to back off, then stopped.

I think that when we talk about these issues, especially since they're emotionally charged, it's best to be as factually accurate and objective as possible.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if the US doesn't have the un-impeachable moral standing to deny Iran's right to acquire nuclear weapons, I still support the US and Israel's action wholeheartedly.

Either de-proliferation will become a reality, or we will be talking about a "Total" nuclear-weaponized world. Before you can wind-back a clock, you have to stop it from moving forward.

Bring on the sabotage!
posted by rosswald at 1:11 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]



If the positions were reversed, the bombers would already be enroute.


I completely understand and agree with that. If I were in charge of Iran, I would probably be developing nukes too.

But that doesn't answer the question: why should Americans allow their enemies to freely acquire significant power just because "we had it coming"?
posted by WhitenoisE at 1:11 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


For example, if Israel had really thought Hezbollah's bombings in 2006 were a formal act of war, they would have turned Lebanon into rubble. Again. But they didn't. So they bombed them just enough to get Hezbollah to back off, then stopped.


"Formal act of war?" Lebanon declared war in 1948. That state of war is very much still in place.
Israel occasionally acts on it and commits acts of war against Lebanon. In 2006, I distinctly recall Israel making mincemeat of mighty important Lebanese infrastructure, including the airport and some fuel depots.
posted by ocschwar at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2012


And as if it would even require tactical nukes.

What do you expect us to use? Harsh language?

Pentagon war planners have concluded that their largest conventional bomb isn't yet capable of destroying Iran's most heavily fortified underground facilities, and are stepping up efforts to make it more powerful, according to U.S. officials briefed on the plan.

We are already doing our utmost to "make it difficult" for Iran. At some point, you are going to need to shit or get off the pot.

If you are going to shit, you will first need to neutralize Iran's air defense capabilities - which are no joke. This in itself will inflict hundreds if not thousands of Iranian casualties.

Taking you at your word that you don't give a fuck about that, why continue to pussyfoot around?
posted by Trurl at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2012


I would think it self evident from just surveying this thread, that some people believe any means (including military action) are justified in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. And others think that America should flatly follow a policy of non-intervention. It's hard for me to believe either of these is a safe course. Between these two extremes, it seems like the Olympic Games program, assuming the bulk of the NYTimes article is accurate, traces a reasonable middle ground. Particularly if it postpones both Iran's weapons development and an Israeli attack, it seems like a good bargain to me. Not ideal by any means, but better than all the obvious alternatives.
posted by newdaddy at 1:18 PM on June 1, 2012


Please clarify Malor, because at this point it sounds to me like you're saying "It's reasonable for Iran to pursue their own best interests, but it's not reasonable for America to defend their own best interests".

What do you expect us to use? Harsh language?

Uh, no. The 30,000 lb bunker bombs you linked to will probably be sufficient. There's kind of a lot of options between harsh language and nuclear weapons.

why continue to pussyfoot around

Because I value human life and I don't want to see thousands of Americans or Iranians die. There's a difference between not caring about whether Iran's radical government gets the fair end of the stick and not caring whether a million Iranians are vaporized.
posted by WhitenoisE at 1:20 PM on June 1, 2012


ocschwar: " "Formal act of war?" Lebanon declared war in 1948. That state of war is very much still in place. "

Actually, you're right. I was thinking of the May 17th Agreement, but I remember now that it failed.

My other points still stand.
posted by zarq at 1:20 PM on June 1, 2012


Because I value human life

The most conservative estimate of the excess deaths caused by the sanctions against Iraq is 170,000.

Surely any sanctions against Iran sufficiently punitive to accomplish your goal would cause at least tens of thousands of deaths. Seems to me it would be more merciful just to bomb them and be done with it.

But either way, "worth it" - as Albright would say. Yes?
posted by Trurl at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2012


I would recommend a "No War" foreign policy.
in sum: no matter which nations decide to go against treaties that are in place, just forget all things. and if 4 more nations decide to go for nukes, and they are nations with many jihadists--need I name them?--that too is ok because after all it is not your nation that has been told consistently that you are to be destroyed. So who cares, right? And if a nation that might be endangered is an ally, just tell them too bad?


Your lack of vision is stupendous.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:46 PM on June 1, 2012


dear AEifwine:
you must have all the vision and so none left for others. Might I suggest that simply tossing out an insult is hardly much of answer to anything.
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Why do we need to send troops? Can't we just use computer hackers? That way they can't fight and nobody gets killed!"
"Well, actually..."
"OMG THEY'RE BEING SO MEAN TO THE POOR IRANIANS!"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss "Surely this..." Surely this should bring it back. [Watches cork for movement].
posted by O Blitiri at 2:46 PM on June 1, 2012


Please clarify Malor, because at this point it sounds to me like you're saying "It's reasonable for Iran to pursue their own best interests, but it's not reasonable for America to defend their own best interests".

I'm saying that for every "crime" we accuse Iran of, we've done the exact same thing, only more and worse, on scales that small country can't even approach. I'm saying that at every stage in this conflict, it has been the US that has ratcheted up the pressure, the US that has been the aggressor. Iran has never invaded anyone, but we're fearmongering about them.... when we ourselves have started two wars since 2000, on either side of Iran. And we participated in the overthrow of a third nation, Libya, and it sure looks like we're arming and supplying rebels in Iran and possibly in Syria.

Expecting them to just kowtow to this aggression is stupid. It's not going to happen. They have the right to defend themselves, and them getting nukes isn't that big a deal, because, like every other nuclear power, they can't use them without being vaporized. Pakistan has nukes, and is far less stable and far less trustworthy, but we're allies with them.

Iran getting them too is only a big deal because they're sitting on oil, and they don't play ball.
posted by Malor at 3:48 PM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


And every action taken by the US and Israel is pushing Iran more and more towards a decision to actively acquire nuclear weapons.

Nobody thinks the West can prevent Iran acquiring nukes indefinitely without full invasion/regime change - and Iran would not be the pushover Iraq was. It has twice the population of Iraq and a history of using suicide brigades to defend the country. Occupying it would be a catastrophe greater even than Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even the Israelis think a full strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay the development of nukes by Iran, and some Israelis even think it would accelerate it! (e.g. The former head of the Mossad)

If I was the Iranian government, the persistent attacks on my country by foreign powers would provide a fairly major incentive to speed up development if at ask possible. After all, it's only once a country has nukes that they are treated with some level of respect, if North Korea demonstrates anything at least.
posted by knapah at 4:40 PM on June 1, 2012


you must have all the vision and so none left for others.

Apparently since a great many people I talk to nowadays seem to be under the impression that war is an acceptable response to the U.S. government not getting it's way. War should be a last resort and only used in self defense. Not as the default plan B that is always "on the table"....your war/fear mongering notwithstanding.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


As near as I can tell, the USA hasn't even "conceded" to Iran its right to nuclear energy. (This may be proper - they're involved in negotiations, and you traditionally start from positions that you expect to move from). The USA would have to majorly majorly sweeten any deal that requires Iran to be at the mercy of the USA for the fuel that powers its future society and economy. Or Iran would have to be crazy. Or extremely pressured.

My own analysis - firstly, while there are some advantages to having nukes, Iran genuinely doesn't want all the shit that comes with owning nuclear weapons, and would prefer a path that avoids having them. At the same time, they strongly seek self-reliance because they demonstrably can't trust the countries around them in a world that bends knee to an openly hostile superpower.
So what Iran wants is to not have nuclear weapons, but at the same time have acquired all the expertise and resources in-house to be able to start a nuke program at will, should not having nukes fail to remain viable.

Feeding into itself, energy generation is another form of self-sufficiency that the hostile world encourages Iran to seek. They can't burn their oil for electricity (well they can and no doubt do, as do we, but doing so at a larger scale than dirty dregs would be an insane squandering of the family fortune)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


(By "start a nuke program at will", I don't mean in the traditionally understood sense of an R&D program, but as a production program. The people and resources that could be assembled into a production capability. An unused and untested capability, sure - but one with no real reason why it shouldn't deliver, should it become necessary to set it up and use it.)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:37 PM on June 1, 2012


Harlequin, there's a specific name for that -- I think it's "nuclear ready", the position Japan is in. They have nuclear power, they could build nuclear weapons within weeks if they had to, but won't actually do so unless they feel extremely threatened.
posted by Malor at 10:10 PM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Late to the party, but in case no one has pointed this out yet: cyberattacks could directly kill people, not just as secondary effects from infrastructure being damaged. For example in hospitals they use pumps that deliver medication intravenously which can be controlled remotely over the network.

(As an aside, what I think must be one of the first on-screen depictions of a computer virus in a 1993 Law & Order episode was something like this.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:57 AM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The IAEA has a really good website on its ongoing discussions with Iran. You can find substantive information on most of the things discussed here. For instance,
... more than 83% of the present nominal installed capacity 40,897 MW is based on oil and gas fired turbines.
The installed capacity of the three Bushehr plants is 1,000 MW each, but Iran plans (planned?) to have 20,000 MW generated from nuclear energy by 2025.

As for the present situation, you should probably read the Annex to the November 2011 IAEA report on Iran (PDF). This is something of a summary of key points:
43. The information indicates that Iran has carried out the following activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device:
• Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities (Annex, Sections C.1 and C.2);
• Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material (Annex, Section C.3);
• The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network (Annex, Section C.4); and
• Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components (Annex, Sections C.5–C.12).
44. While some of the activities identified in the Annex have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:10 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "But in general, they were just saying that it's a bad idea for the US to do cyberattacks, because any new techniques we come up with can be turned against us and because it would motivate other countries to start working on the same techniques as well."

It's so cute that you actually believe other countries are waiting for a go-ahead signal from us. In fact it's pretty clear that other countries have been in this business for a while, and in fact may be ahead of the US.

It's like worrying that if the US goes ahead with plans for a new bomber, it might encourage other nations to develop an air force!!!


three blind mice: "Could the case be made more clear just WHY the Iranians need the defense of nuclear weapons?"

That's so insane you earned a special spot in my memory. You're actually pro-everyone-having-nuclear-weapons.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:42 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


XMLicious: "Late to the party, but in case no one has pointed this out yet: cyberattacks could directly kill people, not just as secondary effects from infrastructure being damaged. For example in hospitals they use pumps that deliver medication intravenously which can be controlled remotely over the network."

Knives, pop bottles and vehicles could directly kill people. Is your argument that the US DOD should not use methodologies that might injure someone somehow somewhere?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:46 AM on June 3, 2012


mule98J: "Nuclear weapons are not a credible threat in any meaningful way."

If you're attempting to say, "Nuclear weapons are not a credible deterrent," I'd be willing to listen to your argument.

But the idea of more aggressive nations holding nuclear weapons, making the wall between borderless terrorists and nuclear weapons longer and thinner and weaker, IS a credible threat.

It scares sane people.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2012


IS a credible threat.

Citation please?

But the idea of more aggressive nations holding nuclear weapons

More aggressive than the U.S.A.? Surely you jest. The fact that you think Iran is an "aggressive" nation belies your propagandized mind.

It scares sane people.

I think you mean: "It scares readers of Tom Clancy novels."

More fear mongering and more war mongering...when will it end?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2012


That's so insane you earned a special spot in my memory.

It's insane that a country who has been repeatedly threatened with bombing and invasion to want a deterrent against said invasion/bombing?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:05 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Knives, pop bottles and vehicles could directly kill people. Is your argument that the US DOD should not use methodologies that might injure someone somehow somewhere?

No, sort of the opposite in a sense - way up above, someone talked about a "world in which countries vaguely annoy each other" with cyberattacks. I was just pointing out that it will pretty quickly transcend annoyance if it escalates.
posted by XMLicious at 1:33 PM on June 3, 2012


XMLicious: "No, sort of the opposite in a sense - way up above, someone talked about a "world in which countries vaguely annoy each other" with cyberattacks. I was just pointing out that it will pretty quickly transcend annoyance if it escalates."

Now you're talking about interactions, not methodologies. ANYTHING can escalate. Taking cyber weapons off the table (in some sort of fantasy world we don't live in, because it can't happen here now that the genie's out of the bottle) doesn't preclude countries escalating annoyance into saber rattling, and then into bloodletting.

But, again, we're talking about a fantasy future. Cyber warfare is happening; the alternative to the US engaging in it requires a meaningful, large Act of Congress, a treaty, and/or a HUGE change in world technology (prob for the worse). IOW: it isn't going to happen. Nor do I think it should, because, as so many have mentioned above, cyber warfare is preferable to daisy cutters and occupying forces.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:52 PM on June 3, 2012


I think you think I am making an argument that I am not making.
posted by XMLicious at 10:07 PM on June 3, 2012




From the first page of the Der Spiegel article:
Deep in their interiors, on decks 2 and 3, the submarines contain a secret that even in Israel is only known to a few insiders: nuclear warheads, small enough to be mounted on a cruise missile [...]

Buried on page five:
To this day, former German Foreign Minister Genscher and former Defense Minister Volker Ruhe say they do not believe that Israel has equipped the submarines with nuclear weapons.

For their part, experts with the German military, the Bundeswehr, do not doubt the nuclear capability of the submarines, but they do doubt whether cruise missiles could be developed on the basis of the Popeye Turbo that could fly 1,500 kilometers. Some military experts suggest, therefore, that the Israeli government is bluffing [...]
So which is it? Is Der Spiegel speculating about the existence of the weapons and their presence aboard the subs, or is it a confirmed fact?

The article also confuses first-strike (aggressive) and second-strike (retaliatory) weapons: while it acknowledges that submarine-launched cruise missiles are only useful for second-strike attacks, it implies that Iran would need to defend itself against them by developing a first-strike capacity. I think the author is getting things the wrong way around.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:23 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]






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