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The Last Stand - See also Iran: Consequences Of A War
July 2, 2006 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States. A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. “The target array in Iran is huge, but it’s amorphous,” a high-ranking general told me. “The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?” The high-ranking general added that the military’s experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to Iran. “We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq,” he said.
The Last Stand
See also Iran: war by October?
See also The countdown to war
See also Iran: Consequences Of A War
posted by y2karl (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
No one poster on any website, anywhere, has the uncanny ability to scare the bejesus out of me on a regular basis as you do, y2karl.
posted by AspectRatio at 7:04 AM on July 2, 2006


The Iran hawks in the White House and the State Department, including Elliott Abrams and Michael Doran, both of whom are National Security Council advisers on the Middle East, also have an answer for those who believe that the bombing of Iran would put American soldiers in Iraq at risk, the consultant said. He described the counterargument this way: “Yes, there will be Americans under attack, but they are under attack now.”

Wow. Way to support our troops, guys. People with attitudes like that should not be allowed to make decisions with people's lives. Shouldn't we be trying to find ways to lessen the number of attacks on our troops and not increase them?
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on July 2, 2006


People with attitudes like that should not be allowed to make decisions with people's lives.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:10 AM on July 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


No one poster on any website, anywhere, has the uncanny ability to scare the bejesus out of me on a regular basis as you do, y2karl.

That's funny because when I saw the post I thought how strange it is that I feel both good and bad when I see a y2karl post. Consistently good posts about consistently bad things. It's like a hideously ugly person with a fantastic personality. Or a fantasticly beautiful person with an ugly personality. Or both or something.
posted by srboisvert at 7:32 AM on July 2, 2006


Not content to let its protracted involvement in a guerilla war in Iraq which would cripple its economy over a 5-10 year period (see Soviet Union: Afghanistan War 1980-1990), the Bush administration sought to hasten the precipitous collapse of the American economy in less one year by plunging the nation into war with Iran.
posted by psmealey at 7:39 AM on July 2, 2006


The big problem with the option of using U.S. nuclear weapons to try to destroy Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities is frankly not the radioactive fallout that might be created, it's the policy fallout that would result if the nukes didn't work. That's the elephant in the room at the Pentagon -- that U.S. nukes aren't big enough to reliably destroy deep underground targets. It's the ultimate penis size problem, and the uniform boys really don't want to get into this measuring game, for fear of coming up short. Half of the value of having nukes is using them as threats, and they become ineffective as threats if they're exposed as impotent, in actual use.

The largest U.S. inventory weapon, the B-61, is only a 9 megaton variable yield thermonuclear weapon, and it was originally designed as a high altitude air burst weapon for bomber delivery. It's not clear whether such a design will actually work as adapted in 1997 for use as a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), and it has never been physically tested in that packaging.

What the U.S. could reliably do with nukes is turn certain areas of Iran into versions of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, but doing so may not stop Iran from developing capabilities for the full nuclear processing cycle indefinitely, and it's politically and environmentally very nearly terroristic as a policy. It's been a terrible blow to policy that this form of sabre rattling has been employed so recklessly by the Bush administration. Further evidence, if any be needed, that they are foreign policy neophytes. The first U.S. administration to have rattled the nuclear sabre, and not be taken seriously by the world...
posted by paulsc at 7:50 AM on July 2, 2006


I hate reading things like this, but thanks.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 8:12 AM on July 2, 2006


Truding ever deeper into the land of No Good Options.
posted by edverb at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2006


*trudging
posted by edverb at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2006


Spengler's been laying out a case for Iran by Halloween as well.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:29 AM on July 2, 2006


Bombs away.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:30 AM on July 2, 2006


“Yes, there will be Americans under attack, but they are under attack now.”

And there you have it: the "bring it on" mentality in a nutshell. It's a strange, helpless feeling seeing this new, even stupider war lumbering down the pike and being completely unable to do anything about it.

Thanks for keeping us informed, y2karl.
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2006


Fission accomplished!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:45 AM on July 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's like a hideously ugly person with a fantastic personality. Or a fantasticly beautiful person with an ugly personality. Or both or something.

Or like a person holding up a mirror?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:49 AM on July 2, 2006


Let' see it from a point of view in which you win if you remain into Iraq/Iran or maintain a military presence and puppet governments , which of course if friendly to exportation of oil to certain countries at certain rates.

1. What retaliation did Iraq offer ? Zero, zilch, nada. Aside from a couple thousand deads, 20 thousand injuried not counting 9/11, the human cost of war is in absolute numbers is very low. Obviously we are not counting Iraqui losses and not counting the suffering and fatigue of troops, they are paid for that ..comparatively low wage, but unemployement and scarcity menace is enough to keep their demands very reasonable. Others are just completely ideologized.

2. Iraq is costing less then Vietnam in terms of human losses. Vietnam claimed nearly 60,000 US death and nearly 150,000 wounded in more or less 10 years. Iraq is nowhere near these numbers and there isn't a conscription or a draft suspended like a sword over the heads of public opinion.

3. Many pockets close to many influential people are profiting richly from the war, not mentioning the increase of profit by oil companies thanks to increase of price of crude. In a typical capitalist fashion, the ideologies are thrown aside in favor of the ideology of profit at the cost of everybody else : just an hint of the iceberg is the deployement of Hummer vehicles in roles not tought for Hummers (picture proof SFW) ; the consequential loss of life provokes outrage and demand for stronger vehicle which, in turn, creates demand for military complex.

Some of this demand materialized into some toys-for-homophobic-guys like Rhino Runner but there is still a lot to do A little break for a irony : Donald Rumsfeld likes very quick mobilization of forces and lean-clean-war-machines, yet he rides in a Rhino for safety. Way to go, Rummy !

Obviously who would oppose saving the good grunt ? Rushing new contracts, finding or creating loopholes, nobody in the private industries would EVER allow a rushed contract and if forced to, many heads would roll for letting the company being cornered and suffer consequences. YEt the consequences in Iraq for poor preparation are only dead soldiers, but the terrorist killed them, go sue them ! They pulled the trigger *ducks*

The responsible for the Hummers placement can't be prosecuted for being tactical idiots, so it's a deluge of money for everybody in the right place.

Iran just seems more of the same, more of the same.
posted by elpapacito at 8:50 AM on July 2, 2006


I had read the New Yorker piece and I have been repeatedly struck by the drumbeats for invading Iran that echo those for invading Iraq. The companion pieces listed are fantastic. We (well, I) can only hope that the more level headed among the military can persist in their objections. For me, many of the objections seem laughable (we don't know what to target) because they sidestep the real issue of the advantages of diplomacy. But whatever works and it may be that what works in this administration are arguments that presume attack is the best strategy, the problem (and hence the argument against) is in the details. Thanks for the post.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:10 AM on July 2, 2006


from Sy Hersh's story:
In 1986, Congress authorized the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to act as the “principal military adviser” to the President. In this case, I was told, the current chairman, Marine General Peter Pace, has gone further in his advice to the White House by addressing the consequences of an attack on Iran. “Here’s the military telling the President what he can’t do politically”—raising concerns about rising oil prices, for example—the former senior intelligence official said. “The J.C.S. chairman going to the President with an economic argument—what’s going on here?”
this is awesome.

just the other day, I was re-reading the transcripts of some of Kennedy's White House tapes, and even if I've read them several times I'm still horrified at the amount of terrible advice Kennedy got. the fact is, say what you want about his election-stealing, womanizing, reckles ass, after he got burned with the Bay of Pigs he always turned down that kind of advice, always. it'll be interesting to see if, after Iraq, Bush chooses to follow the nutcases again.
posted by matteo at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2006


"...not counting 9/11..."

?
posted by 517 at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2006


What I am about to write trends toward paranoiac thinking, but please consider it seriously for a moment: I think it might be useful.

The USA is a ripe plum of wealth ready for plucking by whoever figures out how to best fleece its citizens. If one is willing to put 250 million citizens into poverty and debt, it's perfectly plausible to plunder the wealth of the nation. An outright cash grab, several trillion dollars and an air ticket to Dubai.

Follow the money. These wars are damned profitable. Very welath very powerful people are becoming more powerful and more wealthy because of these war actions.

And they don't give a sweet fuck about you and yours. Go ahead and die. They simply do not care one tiny iota whether their actions are harming you. They look out only for themselves.

It's a depressing worldview, but one I think is fairly accurate in explaining how things work.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2006


and an air ticket to Dubai.

Michael Jackson as war profiteer!
posted by matteo at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2006


An outright cash grab, several trillion dollars and an air ticket to Dubai.

While I'm totally with you on the 'follow the money' thinking, fff, I don't think this part is very plausible. Many of those at the top come from powerful families, and intend to perpetuate their families' power. Thus, a true smash-and-grab would kill the golden egg-laying goose.

Think about it: continuing billions for generations, or trillions now, and moving to the desert. Hm.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2006


luckily this is not strictly godwining the thread, but if the fpp crap is true then these doods really remind me of the Nazi adventurers who came to power over the German state & military in the 1930s.

What's that, history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes?

They've already secured their Reichstag fire, wrapped themselves in the flag of saving Christendom from subhuman enemies ('Gott ist mit Uns'); I suppose the revival of SDI and nukes will serve as the analogue to reoccupying the Rheinland, Afghanistan was the Anschluss step, and Iraq was the move into Czechoslovakia (the last step on solid ground for the 3rd Reich).

All throughout these moves the German military was of two minds; supportive, but fearful that the other side would harden their resistance and catch out the overextension and paper-tiger-ness of the Wehrmacht.

So now we are looking at the Polish Corridor, er Iran.

The instability any military move this will cause will be simply
unprecendented. There will be double the number of bodies out in the street in the US, compared to 2002, and ten times the amount of energy in the opposition. The rest of the first world will become a sea of anti-american protest zones, from Japan to Iceland.

And we have the military telling the civilians to not roll the dice here. Thanks, Ralph.[1]

[1] though on reflection, if 9/11 had happened on Gore's watch, Bush would probably be in power now, in his first term, and he'd have gotten us into Iraq already by now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2006


Iran will take it to the limit and back down. Only way to save face.
posted by stbalbach at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2006


I have already gone on record quite a long time ago that Bush will in fact use nuclear weapons against a live target by the end of his administration. From everything we know about the man, it's inconceivable to me that he'd bypass the opportunity to use them.

So please take that into account in your calculations -- that Bush might just want to try out all his toys before he finally leaves the playroom.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:42 AM on July 2, 2006


Regarding the option of using U.S. nuclear weapons to try to destroy Iranian nuclear enrichment , it would appear, from the article, that option is off the table now:
late April, the military leadership, headed by General Pace, achieved a major victory when the White House dropped its insistence that the plan for a bombing campaign include the possible use of a nuclear device to destroy Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. The huge complex includes large underground facilities built into seventy-five-foot-deep holes in the ground and designed to hold as many as fifty thousand centrifuges. “Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “And Pace stood up to them. Then the world came back: ‘O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable.’ ” At the time, a number of retired officers, including two Army major generals who served in Iraq, Paul Eaton and Charles Swannack, Jr., had begun speaking out against the Administration’s handling of the Iraq war. This period is known to many in the Pentagon as “the April Revolution.”

“An event like this doesn’t get papered over very quickly,” the former official added. “The bad feelings over the nuclear option are still felt. The civilian hierarchy feels extraordinarily betrayed by the brass, and the brass feel they were tricked into it”—the nuclear planning—“by being asked to provide all options in the planning papers.”
posted by y2karl at 10:42 AM on July 2, 2006


The "Iran by October" school doesn't get the geopolitics.

Bush might like to be a unilateralist, but he's doesn't, and never had, the luxury of actually doing so. For Iraq in 2003 he needed the participation of three big NATO states (Britain, Spain and Italy), the active support of numerous Gulf and Central Asian states, and the tolerance of Russia, China and the balance of Gulf and Central Asian states.

Thus, the right question isn't "does Bush want to invade?" The right question, "what level of Iranian provocation would rally a huge swath of additional countries around a U.S. invasion?" The answer to that question, right now, is "a lot more provocation than is ever likely to occur."

While Iran's far from true democracy, it has a far more functional political elite than Iraq had -- a sensible elite very happy to be sitting on $72 a barrell oil, and far too smart to permit provocations to escalate too far. A lot of what the President of Iran is saying now isn't serious policy -- it is for the delectation of the domestic non-elites, who get a thrill from poking George Bush and Tony Blair's nose.
posted by MattD at 10:46 AM on July 2, 2006


These articles are chilling, of course, and I'm personally pretty obsessed over this issue. But left out of all of this are two very important things. One, the fact that this may not at all be about Iran's nuclear program as much as it is part of a project to gain control over natural resources (oil). And Two, there may be a very real possibility that this kind of military action could escalate into a standoff or conflict with Russia and China, whose economic interests in Iran are very real. These two issues-- that we're seeing the beginnings of a world war over resources, and that this could escalate very quickly-- deserve more attention, as grim as they are.
posted by Dogmilk at 10:55 AM on July 2, 2006


In regards to that, see
Centcom's original commission was to respond to possible Soviet aggression in the region in the cold-war era; today, in very different conditions, much of its geopolitical concern has been neatly transferred to China (see Robert D Kaplan, "How We Would Fight China", Atlantic Monthly, June 2005). What is intriguing is the tension between the presentation of US deployments in the middle east and southwest Asia as being tied to the threat of al-Qaida as a central part of the global war on terror, and the organisation of a major wargame devoted entirely to oil security.

As the United States military gears up for Donald Rumsfeld's "long war", the issue of China and its linkage with Gulf oil security is an unspoken element that comes to the surface only when such exercises as the Hawaii wargame are revealed and reported. It is a salutary reminder: while all the public emphasis is on the war on terror, China looms in US military planning as a powerful presence behind the scenes.

The "great game" now being played out in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider region has much more to do with the twin issues of oil and China than is readily admitted. It is just one more reason why any talk of a complete US military withdrawal from Iraq is simply unthinkable.

The United States vs China: the war for oil.

There are more articles by Paul Rodgers to be found on openDemocracy's Global Security page.
posted by y2karl at 11:13 AM on July 2, 2006


"Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “And Pace stood up to them. Then the world came back: ‘O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable.’ ”

y2karl, I hope that the nuclear option is actually off the table, but I doubt that it is, or that if it is, for the time being, that that status is because of any realpolitik sensitivity on the part of Pace or anyone else in the DoD. We can count on the continued interest in the coming months for playing God by Bush/Cheney. My point above was simply that Pace and the Joint Chiefs couldn't support the option militarily, because the U.S. hasn't any proven capability to do the job. If B-61's in surplus howitzer barrels were fit for the job, or could be readily re-packaged into something larger and more potent that would fit in B2's, we'd be reading about the results on CNN.com already.

Moving mountains of dirt in hostile territory efficiently and surely is beyond the proven U.S. military capability. The U.S. leadership rattled its nuclear saber, and the guy holding that saber not only blinked, he told the leadership their sabre was actually a bunch of pen knives. He'd have done better pissing on the leadership's shoe to get their attention for any realpolitik feelings he harbored. This leadership is vindictive, and prone to getting guys they like to replace those they don't.

I wouldn't be surprised to find Pace and several other flag rank folk enjoying more time with their families by Labor Day.

Assembling a weapon that would do the job could arguably be done in a matter of months, presuming anyone is willing to take the risk and political hit of a physical test, for something that will task a C-130 pretty heavily to carry to target, and that will present the C-130 crew with no chance for survival at all, if it doesn't get deep in the ground before going off. Something of the physical size required for this isn't likely to be hauled into the final target by a B2. The "story" about chemical weapons alternatives is just that, in my judgement - a cover story for public consumption if we come up with some huge RNEP, that doesn't, in the end, work:

"We tried, respecting the world's fear of nuclear conflict, with our best conventional weapons, to eliminate the Iranian threat to world peace, but we can't know for sure we've done more than bought the world a few more months to persuade the Iranian regime of its dangerous ways." And then they try again and again into 2008 with bigger, badder RNEP's or something similar, until something works dramatically. Bush/Cheney are looking, I believe, to hit one out of the park against terrorism.

Color me cynical, in the extreme. But that's just me.
posted by paulsc at 11:28 AM on July 2, 2006


The USA is a ripe plum of wealth ready for plucking by whoever figures out how to best fleece its citizens. If one is willing to put 250 million citizens into poverty and debt, it's perfectly plausible to plunder the wealth of the nation. An outright cash grab, several trillion dollars and an air ticket to Dubai.

I've thought this for some time, except for the last bit. They don't need to go to Dubai, just stay right here in their gated communities, protected by the best security money can buy. The US will become another debt-ridden Third World country, the vast majority living in fear and squalor while the lucky few sell off the natural resources and live it up, hanging out with their oil-wealth pals from all over. Globalization for the rich, immiseration for the rest, that's the 21st-century outlook for these United States. Maybe China will learn from our wretched example.
posted by languagehat at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2006


Dubai is being custom-built for the world's elite. It has everything they could ever want for. Already the most desirable location to live in the world, it will become all the more so when civil war breaks out in the USA. I think it is absurd to think the mega-wealthy do not intend to wholly abandon the USA when it starts to sink.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2006


I think it is absurd to think the mega-wealthy do not intend to wholly abandon the USA when it starts to sink.

Unfortunately when the ship sinks, the patron of the new ship will notice you are about to drown. It will be not 1, nor 10 , nor 100 million , but a billion to enter the new ship :) oh an uhmm it's curious your customs are against our moral code....I think the religious leader don't approve, but a secluded area will be only 500 hundred million more ...will you take fries with that ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2006


If one is willing to put 250 million citizens into poverty and debt, it's perfectly plausible to plunder the wealth of the nation. An outright cash grab, several trillion dollars and an air ticket to Dubai.

Some may think it borders on a conspiracy theory, but to me, it's the only thing that makes sense to explain the past five years of administration's "ineptitude". They have ralled the mouth breathers with cries that flag burning and gay marriage are the largest domestic threats we face, while waging endless war in the middle east without asking citizens to sacrifice anything at all to pay for it, runaway deficits, no bid contracts. It all kind of points in that direction. These guys are plundering the treasury, positioning us for defaulting on the debt within a decade (or a cataclysmic currency crunch to make Argentina's look like a mild turndown), and they are going to skip town in 2.5 years after the deed is done.
posted by psmealey at 2:59 PM on July 2, 2006


Yep, scary. Thanks.

....so, could we nuke Dubai once those bastards swipe our treasure and screw us over?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:13 PM on July 2, 2006


Are wages for the majority of the population maintaining value against inflation? If not... follow the money.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on July 2, 2006


Money knows no country.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:45 PM on July 2, 2006


Some may think it borders on a conspiracy theory, but to me, it's the only thing that makes sense to explain the past five years of administration's "ineptitude". They have ralled the mouth breathers with cries that flag burning and gay marriage are the largest domestic threats we face, while waging endless war in the middle east without asking citizens to sacrifice anything at all to pay for it, runaway deficits, no bid contracts. It all kind of points in that direction. These guys are plundering the treasury, positioning us for defaulting on the debt within a decade (or a cataclysmic currency crunch to make Argentina's look like a mild turndown), and they are going to skip town in 2.5 years after the deed is done.

Why we fight.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:11 PM on July 2, 2006


Or maybe.
posted by sneebler at 10:52 PM on July 2, 2006


Sy Hearsh is a bit of a wolf-crier when it comes to us going to war with Iran, not that anything from these idiots would suprise me.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:29 AM on July 3, 2006


I was thinking more Syriana, Mr. Six, but same general idea.

I wonder if the irony of threatening to use nuclear weapons on a country in order to prevent them from developing a nuclear capability is completely lost on everyone.
posted by psmealey at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2006


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior aides “really think they can do this on the cheap, and they underestimate the capability of the adversary,”

This sounds really familiar. When have I heard this before about something the SecDef was planning?
posted by psmealey at 8:17 AM on July 3, 2006


it'll be interesting to see if, after Iraq, Bush chooses to follow the nutcases again.

From the Seymour Hersh article:

But Rumsfeld is not alone in the Administration where Iran is concerned; he is closely allied with Dick Cheney, and, the Pentagon consultant said, “the President generally defers to the Vice-President on all these issues,” such as dealing with the specifics of a bombing campaign if diplomacy fails. “He feels that Cheney has an informational advantage. Cheney is not a renegade. He represents the conventional wisdom in all of this. He appeals to the strategic-bombing lobby in the Air Force—who think that carpet bombing is the solution to all problems.”
posted by blucevalo at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2006


"When have I heard this before about something the SecDef was planning?"
posted by psmealey at 11:17 AM EST on July 3


It's only a theory, but perhaps his last couple of years of willingness to underestimate our enemies' capabilities is an attempt to compensate for his prior period of playing Chicken Little for Team B. Call it the "balanced karma" hypothesis, if you like.
posted by paulsc at 9:37 AM on July 3, 2006


Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner says:
He might move for the military option, but this article could very well change things. The senior leadership is now on the record with their opposition. It would be politically very dangerous for him to proceed now that this is out in the public.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:43 AM on July 3, 2006


Since when has Bush cared about the risk of doing things that were "politically very dangerous"?

Again, from the Hersh article:

Several current and former officials I spoke to expressed doubt that President Bush would settle for a negotiated resolution of the nuclear crisis. A former high-level Pentagon civilian official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the government, said that Bush remains confident in his military decisions. The President and others in the Administration often invoke Winston Churchill, both privately and in public, as an example of a politician who, in his own time, was punished in the polls but was rewarded by history for rejecting appeasement. In one speech, Bush said, Churchill “seemed like a Texan to me. He wasn’t afraid of public-opinion polls. . . . He charged ahead, and the world is better for it.”
posted by blucevalo at 9:48 AM on July 3, 2006


Sy Hearsh is a bit of a wolf-crier when it comes to us going to war with Iran

Do you even know who Seymour Hersh (note spelling) is? Do you consider him to have been a "wolf-crier" about Vietnam and Iraq? Do you perhaps have the name of someone with a better track record at reporting such things? If Hersh says the administration is planning a war with Iran, I'd pay close attention unless you have concrete information that dictates otherwise. But you seem to have just felt like tossing out groundless snark.
posted by languagehat at 9:52 AM on July 3, 2006


"....so, could we nuke Dubai once those bastards swipe our treasure and screw us over?"
posted by Smedleyman at 7:13 PM EST on July 2


Short term, sure, they're not dug in deep enough, yet.

But once they get a chance to sink shafts deeper than 5,000 feet, we're potentially in the Dr. Strangelove problem again, and like cockroaches, some of the bastards are bound to survive, and as masters of who-knows-what new hellish schemes. The only sensible course is a pre-emptive strike, now, on Washington, before they get a chance to get established in Dubai...
posted by paulsc at 10:07 AM on July 3, 2006


We've got too many apocalyptic politicians in power. They expect and even desire the end of civilization.

Nice ride while it lasted, though. This world was civil for, what, four hours circa November 27th, 1999? A better performance from us than might have been expected!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 AM on July 3, 2006


I learned a new word today - "Zugzwang". Apparently it's German for "Compulsion to move" and is used in combinatiorial games theory indicating that no matter what reply you make to an opponent's move you will end up at a disadvantage. I can't help but think how appropriate this word is to the way US (and allied) foreign policy which seems to fall into every single trap that it's enemies lay for it.

Zugzwang apparently only happens in reciprocal turn based games. Maybe we should pass this round?
posted by longbaugh at 11:03 AM on July 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks for setting that straight languagehat. Hersh is one of the few I still trust in media today.

Kevein Phillips new book, American Theocracy, covers the dysfunction of BushCo well and the bleak future we face.
posted by nofundy at 11:20 AM on July 3, 2006


China and Russia won't sit back and let the US endanger their fuel supply via Iran. Why should they?
posted by bardic at 11:51 AM on July 3, 2006


I can't help but think how appropriate this word [zugzwang] is to the way US (and allied) foreign policy which seems to fall into every single trap that it's enemies lay for it.

Yes, that's what you get when you've got a bunch of unsophisticated mooks engaged in a nuanced game of chess. They push their Queen all over the board thinking they're clever and playing some kind of a power game when in reality all they get is one poison pawn while exposing their critical pieces to attack and opening avenues for their opponent.
posted by effwerd at 12:00 PM on July 3, 2006


"...Why should they?"
posted by bardic at 2:51 PM EST on July 3


Because Bush/Cheney have 20,000 nukes, several thousand intercontinental launchers, the damn triggers to 'em all, and apparently, a near evangelistic willingness to go toe to toe with the Axis of Evil or anyone who befriends same?

Wait a minute. Were you asking a trick question?
posted by paulsc at 12:02 PM on July 3, 2006


...I’ll give you the thoughts of retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who... conducted a war game simulation on a possible Iran invasion for the December 2004 Atlantic Monthly, but who also graciously answered several of my questions yesterday on this Hersh story.

...I asked Gardiner about some of Hersh's major points and the sources Hersh uses inside the Pentagon:

Sy's sources inside the Pentagon could not be better.

I suggested to Gardiner that it appears that Bush would opt for an air campaign supported by Special Forces, at Cheney’s urging.

He might move for the military option, but this article could very well change things. The senior leadership is now on the record with their opposition. It would be politically very dangerous for him to proceed now that this is out in the public.

Gardiner's assessments of the significance of this story:

This has to be seen as a watershed event. The military have challenged the White House. It was more subtle than MacArthur in Korea, but still it is a major challenge. They have been stage props for photo ops for too long; they are saying enough is enough.

I asked Gardiner to update his prediction of the odds of an attack before November, and what he thinks about those chances after the election:

About 4 in 10 before November.

...And Gardiner then concluded with this:

I think he is going to have trouble doing anything.
The Significance Of Hersh's Story
posted by y2karl at 2:30 PM on July 3, 2006


Good last link, y2karl.

I'm sure it's a comfort to Colin Powell and Gen. Pace, and a vexation and a trial to Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld et al. Oh, and Karl Rove, too. Can't forget to mention anything that might be a trial to Karl Rove...
posted by paulsc at 2:48 PM on July 3, 2006


“Short term, sure, they're not dug in deep enough, yet.” - posted by paulsc


Yeah, y’know, what if they don’t leave? What if they simply loot the treasury and stay there. It comes down to who has the authority over the nukes. It seems like this is the first time in history a ruling party would not have to use guile and could simply use the threat of annihalation to overcome a mass uprising.
(from your link):
"If the Soviet aggressor is reasonable, he will avoid the defender's cities, civilians, and recuperative capability in order to maximize his post-attack blackmail threats"
That would work as domestic strategy as well.
The holocaust (yeah it’s hackneyed) comes to mind. There were uprisings and resistance and one could argue that tied up men and material and aided the overall war effort against the Nazis. But with nuclear weapons there is instant massive death with no chance of retaliation, especially given one is using it domestically. Who would invade a country willing to nuke itself?
You could have the government ruling from Cheneyesque parts unknown so there’s nowhere like D.C. to march in protest to. You can’t simply storm the banks, because the money really isn’t there anymore. You can’t seize production or cities without risking nuclear retaliation.
...Orwell was right, this could really suck.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:05 PM on July 3, 2006


In related news, N. Korea threatens U.S. with 'nuclear war'

News of the near future: "Sec. Rice Scoffs at N. Korean Bluster, Says Nuclear Sabre Rattling the Desperate Tactic of Men With Penile Insufficiencies."

Metafilter: These sabres, they vibrate?
posted by paulsc at 3:10 PM on July 3, 2006


"Who would invade a country willing to nuke itself?"
posted by Smedleyman at 6:05 PM EST on July 3


I think even the notoriously hard line paranoids in North Korea, would be gobsmacked by this. What the hell could they possibly do in retaliation but take out Pyongyang themselves, with every radio playing full tilt?

It's not the Armageddon we imagined, but hey, in a world where you're the only remaining superpower, the defacto unitary executive of the world, you go to nuclear holocaust with the Army and enemies you've got. It doesn't get any lighter and faster than nuking yourself.

Martyr this you swarthy sons of Abraham in Tehran, our brothers by other mothers. You're next.

(There's a Mel Brooks movie in here somewhere.)
posted by paulsc at 5:19 PM on July 3, 2006


paulsc - maybe a sequel.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:40 PM on July 3, 2006


elpapacito writes "just an hint of the iceberg is the deployement of Hummer vehicles in roles not tought for Hummers (picture proof SFW) ;"

Not to argue your point but these pictures don't prove anything. Vehicles get destroyed in combat, I'm sure with a bit of looking you could find pictures of destroyed main battle tanks.

languagehat writes "They don't need to go to Dubai, just stay right here in their gated communities, protected by the best security money can buy. The US will become another debt-ridden Third World country, the vast majority living in fear and squalor while the lucky few sell off the natural resources and live it up, hanging out with their oil-wealth pals from all over."

RAH's Friday posits this exact senario for much of the USA. Glad I'm in "British Canada".
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on July 4, 2006


Seymour Hersh interview on CNN's Late Edition.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 AM on July 4, 2006


Yep, it's a damn Mel Brooks movie now, without the laugh track.
posted by paulsc at 2:15 PM on July 4, 2006


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