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Shifting Targets - The Administration’s plan for Iran by Seymour Hersh
October 1, 2007 12:25 PM   Subscribe

This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants... Now the emphasis is on 'surgical' strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism... The former intelligence official added...'Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, 'You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.' But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.'
Shifting Targets by Seymour Hersh
See also 'The President Has Accepted Ethnic Cleansing'
posted by y2karl (148 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
So what they are saying is "We are going to attack Iran, but only a little bit. So its cool, don't worry about it.", right?
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2007


The thing that confuses me about the plans for Iran at this point is how full-bore Captain Ahab Bush has gone. He knows he can't have a war- invading Iran on the ground is physically impossible at this point- so now he wants (and thanks, Congress, for giving him authority last week!) to declare the Iranian army "terrorists" whom he can just bomb indiscriminately.

I used to wonder how he could possibly imagine something as nuts as this would benefit Republicans in 2008 rather than cause the party as a whole to look even more insane, and now I just wonder if he really just doesn't care anymore. It's like the last ten minutes of a bad sci-fi movie where the villain accepts his plan has been thwarted and decides he'll just activate his doomsday device because, hey, fuck 'em.

I was really hoping America would vote these lunatics out of office without them having to kill a few thousand people first to make us get the point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:36 PM on October 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


read this last night, seems like a fait accompli.

the question on my mind is, are we really going to let them do this? fool us once, shame on us. fool us twice...


...can't get fooled again.

i would hope that an attack on iran would lead to some sort of physical removal of bush and cheney from office. but then, i'm a dreamer. stay gold, america. stay gold.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2007


Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, 'You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.'

Oh, I wish. When have any number of facts stopped Republicans in the past?
posted by DU at 12:39 PM on October 1, 2007


to declare the Iranian army "terrorists" whom he can just bomb indiscriminately.


How many bombs do you think we have to drop before we are in another full on war? I think it will only take one.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


When do we get to declare Bush and Cheney terrorists and remove them?
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:43 PM on October 1, 2007


Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know. And things that Senators don't know. And things that four-star generals don't know.

The only hope here is that reputable insiders who disagree with this policy - whether that be Gates or Rice or high-ranking senators or Army generals or Bush I and crew - either resign in protest or loudly and demonstrably air their concerns to the press and public. It didn't happen with Iraq, Powell was disgraced, but I still think that above all he was the person who could've slowed down the march to war had he decided to quit or take on the administration and their claims.
posted by billysumday at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2007


Not that I don't loathe everything this administration stands for, and not that I don't believe that Cheney would gnaw the heart from chest of a newborn Darfurian if it would add another penny to Halliburton's coffers, but if Sy Hersh is to be believed, shouldn't Tehran have been a sea of glass a long time ago? He's been beating this drum for at least three years now. I know that doesn't make his allegations any less true, but how will we know if he's crossed the line into the quixotic?
posted by felix betachat at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oh, and my followup question: how can we be sure that this y2karl character isn't a Sy Hersh sockpuppet? Is there any indication that Hersh has astonishingly good taste in music & channels YouTube like a motherfucker?

I'll take my answer off the air, thanks.
posted by felix betachat at 12:46 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


So in late 2008 we'll be locked in a full on escalating conflict with Iran.

I'm betting that will swing the presidential election in favor of a hawkish Republican candidate and away from a peacenik Democrat...

It's 2004 all over again.
posted by wfrgms at 12:47 PM on October 1, 2007


shouldn't Tehran have been a sea of glass a long time ago?

You are forgetting that this whole thing is just a giant money grab. There is no money in the sea of glass strategy.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:47 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know.

The administration also has demonstrated a tendency to "know" things that are either unknowable or else have no basis in reality. This is what worries me the most.
posted by psmealey at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


Wow. Another "OMFG we're going to attack Iran" thread!

Can't we just have ONE thread devoted to this wet-dream topic (for liberals, to confirm everything they hate about Bush & Co; for conservatives, to finally get the job done)?
posted by davidmsc at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2007


I just don't see us attacking Iran any time soon with anything overt and dramatic. Frankly the time for using the "stick" is long over.

We bomb Iran and the Shia in Iraq go ape shit the Iraq government falls apart.

Iranian politics unify. And we commit more forces we don't have to an impossible strategy of yet more asymmetrical "limited war." Another war where we drop bombs on shit that likely isn't there and the Iranians provide fighters and funnel arms and explosives to Terror groups at accelerated rates and bargain basement prices all over the region. All we will do is burn money and kill civilians.
posted by tkchrist at 12:58 PM on October 1, 2007


oh, you mean the imbecilic "git r done" ethos as applied to the imbecilic starting of a third front in the so-called war on terror, right davidmsc? you conservatives, as embodied by "larry the cable guy," are such great taskmasters! we were wise in entrusting the country to you for 8 years.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:00 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


when will everybody wake up and realize that every single one of these wars is about securing as much goddamned oil as possible?

it's not about terrorism. it's not about protecting our troops in harm's way.

it's about propping up a failing, credit-based economy for another 20-30 years by securing as much unencumbered energy as possible from as many weak middle-eastern nations as we can. that's all the US has been doing since Bush took office. don't you get it?
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 1:00 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know. And things that Senators don't know. And things that four-star generals don't know."

Heh. This administration principally knows things that no one else knows because THEY MADE THEM UP.

I think we can safely disregard any special secret information form the people who brought you the faliure to prevent 9/11 and the WMDs that never materialised.
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know.

I argued bitterly with conservative coworkers about this in the run up to Iraq. I told them, very clearly, that there was no possible way that Iraq had a nuclear program, and that the 'evidence' presented against it was so flimsy as to be laughable. And, because of that, all the claims were highly suspect.

Your argument is what they threw in my faces: they were serenely certain that "he knows things you don't." And, you know what? They were wrong, and I was right.

Yes, this administration knows things that I don't, but I emphatically do not trust them to draw correct conclusions from their hidden data.
posted by Malor at 1:04 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, Hersh again? From him I take only cash.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:05 PM on October 1, 2007


The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he's talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He's not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdistan. You're going to have a Sunni area that we're going to have to support forever. And you're going to have the Shiites in the South.

Seems like a plausible outcome, with all the hilarity and fun along the way that "ethnic cleansing" implies.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on October 1, 2007


Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know. And things that Senators don't know. And things that four-star generals don't know.

Ah, just like those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq!
posted by ericb at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another "bigger picture" round-up is here at Harper's.
posted by rzklkng at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2007


The administration also has demonstrated a tendency to "know" things that are either unknowable or else have no basis in reality. This is what worries me the most.

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense briefing.
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


billysumday writes "Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know. And things that Senators don't know. And things that four-star generals don't know."

I don't think they have the ability to use that information well, or to discern which is useful. It appears they did not believe most of the true information they had about Iraq and instead chose to believe whatever information fit their scenarios, almost all of which was false.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:10 PM on October 1, 2007


Heh. This administration principally knows things that no one else knows because THEY MADE THEM UP.

My lord. Did nobody read further on? In any case, I was joking. Next time I'll preface it with a more Seinfeld-esque "What's the deal with this administration always claiming that they know things that other people in positions of power should know but which the administration states they don't know and please trust us on this because those other people, though also competent and nice, just could not reasonably be expected to handle such important information, especially in regards to our national security and matters of the safety of the state? I mean seriously!"
posted by billysumday at 1:11 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've come to conclude that invoking rational thought when dealing with this administration, or the Democratic congress that supports it, is a futile exercise.

Ayatollah Assahollah!
posted by jsavimbi at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2007


you conservatives, as embodied by "larry the cable guy,"... we were wise in entrusting the country to you for 8 years.

I think you're mistaking the people who run things with the people who voted for them and stirring in a big ol' soupcon of your own personal prejudices into the pot. But yeah, bravo on letting those greedhead warmongers grab two terms while you were forwarding "Get a brain, morans!" GIFs and sneering at anyone carrying Wal-Mart shopping bags.

All we need is for the Dems to get control of Congress...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2007


Bolton: We Should Carry Out Regime Change In Iran Because ‘It Did Work In Iraq’.
posted by ericb at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2007


Heh. Bolton. That guy cracks me up. I assume he's some wandering street tramp who people throw rotten food at now?
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on October 1, 2007


"In today’s press briefing, reporters questioned White House spokeswoman Dana Perino about Hersh’s article. Perino refused to address the substance of the piece, instead dismissing Hersh’s journalism and credibility:
'Every two months or so, Sy Hersh writes an article in The New Yorker magazine and CNN provides him a forum in which to talk about his article and all the anonymous sources that are quoted in it.'
Unwilling to accept her talking points, reporters continued to pepper Perino with questions. 'We are pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran,' she repeatedly insisted. One reporter shot back, 'That’s what he [Bush] said before we went to Iraq, too.'

It’s no wonder that Perino is unwilling to discuss the facts in Hersh’s piece. As Bill Kristol noted, Hersh’s revelations are 'scar[ing] people away' from a 'limited and credible military option against Iran.'"*
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2007


The reason why Cheney isn't worried about the partisan result of bombing Iran is that any non-retaliatory bombing will be thoroughly bipartisan: approved by the Democratic leadership in Congress and approved by the leading Democratic Presidential candidates (or the nominee if it gets to that point).

Politics ultimately will always stop at the water's edge, which should be comforting for people regardless of their views on any particular military compaign.
posted by MattD at 1:26 PM on October 1, 2007


I wish I had something good to say about this, but the truth is it just scares the shit out of me.
posted by OmieWise at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2007


Bolton: We Should Carry Out Regime Change In Iran Because ‘It Did Work In Iraq’.

Napoleon: "Nous devons marcher sur l'Arctique parce que notre campagne d'hiver a tellement bien fonctionné en Russie."

Icarus: "Meh. Needs more wax."

Ned Beatty from Deliverance: "Hey! Let's go kayaking again every year!"
posted by tkchrist at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


So how am I supposed to judge Sy's credibility on this one? He's been saying this is going to happen for almost half a dozen Friedmans now...

I mean, professionally he's got cred, but I feel like he's crying wolf just a bit.
posted by butterstick at 1:50 PM on October 1, 2007


Mr_Zero: There is no money in the sea of glass strategy.

Underneath that sea of glass, now that's another story.

I think Cheney's getting old and realizes his deal with the devil is almost up, so he's looking for one last hurray. World Domination is quite a lasting legacy, at least in his mind.
posted by ShadowCrash at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2007


from ericb's link - Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America’s stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush’s senior women officials: “I hate all Iranians.”

not even winston churchill hated all germans
posted by pyramid termite at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2007


what if we bombed Iran and they did nothing: no Hezbollah 5th column, no retaliation, the oil kept on flowing and we just stood around trying to get that sticky red stuff off our hands...
posted by geos at 2:01 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


But yeah, bravo on letting those greedhead warmongers grab two terms while you were forwarding "Get a brain, morans!" GIFs and sneering at anyone carrying Wal-Mart shopping bags.

right, because bush's "election" and warmongering was the fault of cultural snobs and elitists and not the easily manipulated nincompoops who didn't want to "change horses midstream."
posted by Hat Maui at 2:11 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


not even winston churchill hated all germans

It'd be difficult, given the royal families derivation.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2007


The reason why Cheney isn't worried about the partisan result of bombing Iran is that any non-retaliatory bombing will be thoroughly bipartisan: approved by the Democratic leadership in Congress and approved by the leading Democratic Presidential candidates (or the nominee if it gets to that point).

Seconded. We're all deluding ourselves if we think an attack on Iran would be some kind of Bushian power grab.

No, he'll go to Congress and ask for x billions of dollars for a "surgical military strike" to "ensure the safety of our fighting men and women in Iraq." Republicans will all vote for it, of course, even if they fear for their jobs. The wrath of Party Central scares them more than the wrath of their home district.

Most of the Dems will fall over themselves to approve the bill, too. The ones that don't will make a hue and cry about how they can't stop the bill, so they'll either vote for it anyway, or maybe just abstain. In retrospect -- maybe 4 or 5 years into a full-blown war with Iran -- some of them will say that it would have been pointless to oppose the war, as Bush would have just gone ahead and done it anyway.

All of the Dem candidates, with the exception of Edwards and maybe Obama, will support the bill without any serious reservation. The ones who don't will be portrayed in the 24/7 news media as not supporting the troops.

Yeah, we're pretty much screwed.
posted by Avenger at 2:24 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've come to conclude that invoking rational thought when dealing with this administration, or the Democratic congress that supports it, is a futile exercise.


Exactly. Amazing that so many people can still say, "We'll never do this because ... [rational, logical explanation] ..."

As if rational, logical people were in charge of any branch of the Federal government.

It's like the last ten minutes of a bad sci-fi movie where the villain accepts his plan has been thwarted and decides he'll just activate his doomsday device because, hey, fuck 'em.


I've been calling Cheney Vice President Strangelove for years.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:32 PM on October 1, 2007


Underneath that sea of glass, now that's another story.

Radiation would make the oil extraction impossible for thousands of years. So I doubt they will do that.
posted by Mr_Zero at 2:32 PM on October 1, 2007


Shadow, ever consider that his "crying wolf" might just be one of the factors that is preventing the administration from going in?

US journalists largely echoed the Administration's talking points in the run-up to Iraq. They'e doing much the same with Iran. As propoganda, it works extremely well - unless you let a little light into the process.

Can you imagine the outcry if people had learned immediately post Sept 11 that Rumfeld's first wish was to attack Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with it? Or that the Administration was utterly bent on invading Iraq before 2003, despite all the bluster about diplomatic solutions and inspections? Or that there was a list, circulated in the Administration post 9/11, of seven Middle Eastern countries that were targetted for "reigime change" list - and that none of them were Saudi Arabia?

Yes, you would have had jingoistic support for it in the days immediately after - let's not forget that 91% approval rating. But in the weeks after, people slowly began to regain their sense, and realised what was being done to them, and the lies they were being told.

Pre-empting that process - which has already begun for Iran - is Hersh's crusade.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:43 PM on October 1, 2007


I apoligise - butterstick, not Shadow.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:45 PM on October 1, 2007


when will everybody wake up and realize that every single one of these wars is about securing as much goddamned oil as possible?

If that was their intention, they've been dismal failures. Iraqi oil is much less secure than it was before the invasion; a pipeline through Afghanistan from the Caspian region is less likely today than it was under the Taliban.

The administration is heavily embedded with the oil majors, yes. Why on earth would they want to make our oil supply larger and more secure? The windfall profits that have accrued to the major oil distributors thanks to post-9/11 and post-Iraq War insecurity have been massive. On 9/11 oil prices were hovering around $25/barrel, and had been as low as $10 in the preceding two years thanks to the Asian economic crisis. Until the return of Asian demand in 2004-2005 and the near-simultaneous production plateau that may ultimately be identified as the global production peak, the only thing propping up world oil prices was political insecurity.

That other factors are now running the price to further and further highs does nothing to change the calculus that has enriched the coalition of people atop the oil and weapons industries. Insecurity and its temporary sidelining of productive capacity boosts prices and provides windfall profits for companies on the receiver end of long-term supply contracts with national oil companies in the Mid-East and elsewhere. This differential accumulation (ie. an ability to accumulate at faster rates than other sectors of the economy) equals power.

See also Veblen; or contemporary political economists Nitzan and Bichler who have researched and written extensively along these lines.
posted by kowalski at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


"The missiles are flying. Hallelujah, hallelujah!"
But that was a fictional movie about a deceptively-moderate right-wing nut who unilaterally started a war. Totally different.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:09 PM on October 1, 2007


“you conservatives, as embodied by "larry the cable guy," are such great taskmasters! we were wise in entrusting the country to you for 8 years.”

Totally, once the much smarter liberals gain control of congress, they’ll shut down this war real soon. I bet not one of them would vote to go into Iran. Oh, wait...
Nah, I’m with you all people like us suck balls. All ‘x’ists are - whatever. Totally. Like big time. Stupid conservatives don’t understand how nuanced and detailed an argument that is.

“ "he knows things you don't." And, you know what? They were wrong, and I was right.”

Funly enough, I supported the war based on the idea that if Bush was wrong and proven so - they would be held accountable in some way. You trusted in data, I trusted in basic humanity.
So, as lousy as it might be to be right, it sucks more to be wrong.

“You'd think that in this country with so many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same dumb thing again.”

Smart people? Wha?

“The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it...This guy believes he's doing God's work.”

Now that does scare the hell out of me. An opportunist (like Kissinger) you can at the very least trust he won’t destroy the whole world, because there’s no profit in it.

I disagree though with Hersh’s comment that we'll be ready to fight another stupid war in another two decades. I doubt we’ll have the resources.
I’ve stopped making prognostications based on any experiance or reasoning I possess because it simply does not apply to this administration. There are a number of very valid, simple, logical strategic moves I’ve expected to occur (and many experts agree with me) and none of them have happened.
I would be only faintly surprised if we were going to paint all the troops’ asses green and have them hurl cats randomly at Iraqis as the main thrust of some new operation. I would further be only marginally surprised if it were at all questioned by the media (green assed troops hurling cats - some opposed?) and not at all surprised if the general public was outraged yet refused to leave the couch.
It’s been the playbook for the past buncha years, why would it change now?
Hersh has been saying “they’re going to attack Iran” for a long time in part because they have been attacking Iran, but also because they quite manifestly are, in fact, going to attack Iran.
Hell, I hope he’s wrong.
But it’s not like everyone and their (who’ve been paying attention) don’t know all this. Hersh is far from the lone voice in the wilderness. Maybe that’s being played for charm, sales, whatever, but the man himself aside (and his hyperbole) the essence of what he’s been saying is pretty accurate.


“The United States is trying to fight on all sides—Sunni and Shia—and be friends with all sides.” In the Shiite view, “It’s clear that the United States cannot bring security to Iraq, because it is not doing everything necessary to bring stability. If they did, they would talk to anybody to achieve it—even Iran and Syria,” Nasr said. (Such engagement was a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Group.) “America cannot bring stability in Iraq by fighting Iran in Iraq.”

Which, again, I think the whole point of all this has been to syphon money out of the treasury. The point of all this fighting is to fight more.
Meanwhile Israel is nervous (note: Israel will never be 2nd in using nuclear weapons) and you’ve got Iran and Pakistan nice and cozy lately with a big gas pipeline running through Balochistan (province in Pakistan - they’ve got more women on their council than non-muslims, been importing power from Iran since Dec. 2002) you’ve got CENTO of course, but Turkey is a bit out of the picture, and the U.S. is a bit shakey right now. They have a common culture with many customs and traditions the same (freekin’ Hafiz Shirazi and Omar Khayyam are still household words in Pakistan) meanwhile you’ve got Communist China, Christian Russia and a Hindu India - if you’re Muslim Iran, who you going to get chummy with?
Not to mention our boy (Musharraf) is in deep political trouble with The Base getting more goofy in the Paki outback and of course the intel community consensus is still that OBL is hiding out there somewhere. Oh, and yes, they’re a nuclear power.

If I were going to line up WWIII, this would be the “throw a bunch of dishes in the air” scenario. Bush doesn’t strike me as being as deft as Al Flosso
*plays sabre dance*
posted by Smedleyman at 3:12 PM on October 1, 2007


Another round-up: Latest News: Push for War with Iran
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2007


*ach, lousy carrots*
posted by Smedleyman at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2007


(kowalski - it’d be staggeringly complex - but are there any studies on oil prices and political atmosphere? (Brutally put e.g. - when the dems are in office are prices higher or lower. Obviously I’d like something more complex in terms of policy, just wondering if such a thing exists at all) )
posted by Smedleyman at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2007


Stupid conservatives don’t understand how nuanced and detailed an argument that is.

you totally missed the argument (more of an offhand joke, really). my use of larry the cable guy had everything to do with davidmsc's characterization of attacking iran as a "job" that conservatives need to get done. like it's a foregone conclusion that we need to attack iran and pantywaist liberals are just putting off the inevitable with all of our kvetching.

so i make a remark about "git r done" culture that seemed to fit in the context of what davidmsc said. at no point did i make any claim whatsoever about the democratic "opposition."
posted by Hat Maui at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2007


Smedleyman, chapter 5 (The Weapondollar-Petrodollar Coalition) of Nitzan and Bichler's The Global Political Economy of Israel (2002) is pretty close to what you're looking for. There's a wealth of other material on their site ranging from journal articles to radio interviews to flesh that out in the context of world events since 2002.

Please note though that the Republican Party and Big Oil are not, strictly put, interchangeable. Rather one can say that one powerful coalition within the party has historically represented the interests of big oil, and has post-1970s enacted policies that have supported limited flow conditions and produced or exacerbated conflicts that have triggered beneficial price increases. Likewise, it wouldn't be hard to identify fractions of the Democratic Party that have had strong ties to sectors of the American weapons complex.

The one place that I think Nitzan and Bichler have unfortunately failed to move past neo-classical economics is in their hesitancy to give any space in their analysis for objective (ie. non-politically motivated or conflict-precipitated) supply scarcity. We're now in year three of a production plateau that cannot be blamed simply on laid up Iraqi fields and other political bottlenecks (eg. Venezuela), and it's strange that their otherwise fantastic commitment to empirical research has yet to assess the empirical evidence regarding global peak production. In my previous post above, I present my interpretation of the interaction between the political economy of insecurity they've detailed and the "real" economy of physical scarcity that we now appear to be running smackdab into.

I'm interested to see whether they'll "catch up" their analysis to current production trends and the increasingly obvious failure of the super-giant fields such as Cantarell and Ghawar on which we're very very dependent. I may have to take it up with Nitzan directly.
posted by kowalski at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sy Hersh has been used by the administration, again and again. Previously it was to threaten Iran. Now it's to keep everybody focused on Iran, and not on the fact that Iraq is still falling apart.

They're trying to stall any momentum for withdrawal from building, and kill any perception that we are losing or that this war can't be won until they leave office.

That way, the onus of withdrawal is on the next administration. If only, they can say four years later, if only we weren't stabbed in the back.

Otherwise, their whole anti-progressive ideology could be out in the cold for a long time.

Think about it: after the surge, then what? As this administration leaves office, the surge units will be ending their tours.
posted by atchafalaya at 3:55 PM on October 1, 2007


after the surge, then what?

Oooh, I know this one!
posted by felix betachat at 4:02 PM on October 1, 2007


Sy Hersh has been used by the administration, again and again. Previously it was to threaten Iran. Now it's to keep everybody focused on Iran, and not on the fact that Iraq is still falling apart.

I thought that Iranians and Americans alike would be threatened by the existence of several American carrier groups off the coast of Iran, and by reckless, cavalier talk of bombing the shit out of the country.

But I'll take your word for it: Seymour Hersh is a stooge. The administration has forced him to write so well, so intelligently, and so prolifically, and the administration has forced Hersh to cultivate so many valuable contacts over the last forty years of his professional life, that the stupid American public is hopelessly duped. Is there anything that Cheney and Bush cannot do???
posted by KokuRyu at 4:09 PM on October 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


when will everybody wake up and realize that every single one of these wars is about securing as much goddamned oil as possible?

This has never made sense to me. The amount of money we've spent on Iraq is greater than it would have cost to just buy the oil from Saddam. If you want oil, and you don't give a shit about the Iraqis, that's the sensible route: you invite Saddam over, make some small talk about how hard it is running a country and how much you envy his press control and secret police, and then you offer him about a trillion dollars worth of cash and weapons in return for a 'most favored' status on oil deals.

Saddam was quite obviously a pragmatist at heart; if we had offered him protection and a promise not to complain too much if he has to gas some obnoxious civilians to keep the black stuff flowing, there's no real reason why he wouldn't have taken it. Geopolitically, this even makes sense: you prop up Iraq and keep the Kurds oppressed, which keeps the Turks happy, and provides a secular (although brutal) counterpoint to Iran. All you need to do is keep them away from Israel.

No, if you want to look for the real reason for the war you have to dig deeper than just oil. It's more complex than that. Part of it is oil, certainly, but part of it was that the American public really wanted a war, and Afghanistan had turned out to be a non-event. So the Bush administration pulled out a map and looked for the next best place to kick the shit out of -- too bad that instead of being a lame dog to kick and vent our frustration on, it turned out to be a hornet's nest.

And it was a good way of funneling a lot of tax money to a lot of contractors, and generally beefing up the M-I complex. (But again, that's not the sole reason, because it would have been just as easy to enrich them by selling Saddam arms and equipment and in return getting oil deals that could have been given to Halliburton.)

Most simplistic explanations for the war fail because they don't take into account the psychology driving the people in power, which result in frankly irrational decisions.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:12 PM on October 1, 2007


"when will everybody wake up and realize that every single one of these wars is about securing as much goddamned oil as possible?"

If that was their intention, they've been dismal failures.


I didn't say they were good at it. Given their stellar track record in other matters, this should come as no surprise to anyone.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 4:16 PM on October 1, 2007


Part of it is oil, certainly, but part of it was that the American public really wanted a war, and Afghanistan had turned out to be a non-event. So the Bush administration pulled out a map and looked for the next best place to kick the shit out of...

If that was the case, why did Rumsfield, and other neocons in the admin have such hardons to invade Iraq before and after 9/11?
posted by Snyder at 4:23 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Putting a client state with a a friendly puppet government on top the worlds second largest oil deposits is, and I know this sounds weird when talking about the bush administration, a long term play. Making oil prices cheaper this week doesn't really come into it.
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on October 1, 2007


I didn't say they were good at it. Given their stellar track record in other matters, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

Yet the oil majors have done fantastically well in the 30 years since Arab oil nationalization, despite little-to-no direct control of the fields. In a nutshell, what they found was that it was as or more profitable and, in a power-based analysis, far better to be distributors rather than producers.

Why would their political lieutenants suddenly bet the farm on a control scheme that was completely at odds with three decades of lessons that said that supply insecurity, rather than supply ownership, was the route to "3. PROFIT"?

Basing your argument on irrationality or incompetence is a dead-end. Where the Bush Administration have proven incompetent has been precisely those areas that they didn't care about being competent in (or where in fact it was politically most desirable to demonstrate government's incompetence). When it came to supporting the accumulation potential of their "base" in the oil, weapons and military contracting sectors, they've been extremely successful.
posted by kowalski at 4:36 PM on October 1, 2007


Hersh has been writing such articles (7 to date) for two years now. He now claims (t just now) that the plans are more than merely contingency plans but are operational plans. The French are ok with this if we go after nukes but not with just (merely) kicking ass...Sy H. claims the idea is to cripple the Revolutionary Guard because they control nuke development and if they can be knocked out to a certain degree then Iran will no loner be the menace Bush claims them to be. Noted too: Bush never talks to those he dislikes, in Iran, Syria etc.
posted by Postroad at 4:39 PM on October 1, 2007


I have a pretty simplistic view on this and I think it's accurate:

Bushco is using very subtle propaganda. By the time bombs are dropped we will be so sick of the debate, sick of spineless Dems that the event will merely be business as usual.

The resulting HUGE international shitstorm will scare USians, or a vast number, into voting strong Republican for guidiance through yet another war. Bushco IS forcing the issue, and it WILL happen.

Iranian Nukes? Yea, right. Not necessary. Bombs away.
posted by snsranch at 4:40 PM on October 1, 2007


It's never been about making oil prices cheaper. It's securing access to the spigot. Controlling the flow = incredible fucking profits.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Keep in mind that the administration knows things that we don't know."

No, they don't. They really, really don't.
posted by rougy at 4:45 PM on October 1, 2007


Is it my imagination, or has Sy Hersh been writing this same article over and over for the past four years?
posted by Flunkie at 4:55 PM on October 1, 2007


It makes sense to have and to update strategic plans for world trouble-spots. I'd be worried if the US did not plan for as many contingencies as possible.
posted by rockhopper at 5:00 PM on October 1, 2007


Hersh has been writing about the Iran situation for years, with good reason. It is the big Oil Country Bushco doesn't control. It doesn't matter who owns the oil itself... the Bush family runs the companies that run and supply the oil rigs and the offshore platforms. As long as oil flows, they make the collateral money. (Ask any Merchant sailor who works oil rig jobs. ) Think of them as a major Organized Crime Family playing out the last big scam of their career - maybe they end up with a lot of bodies down, but at least they thinkthey will win.

The Republicans are just starting to wake up to the Neo-Con Oil Cartel / Christian Right plan to break the entire machine of American democracy. And it's too late for them to stop it.
posted by zaelic at 5:18 PM on October 1, 2007


Contingency /= bombing the fuck out of another country just because Jesus told W. to do so.
posted by bardic at 5:25 PM on October 1, 2007


Did anyone notice that Israel recently bombed the shit out of a site in Northern Iran? I'm guessing Jesus did not tell them to do that.
posted by rockhopper at 5:28 PM on October 1, 2007


Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways, I tell ya!
posted by snsranch at 5:35 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman writes "Funly enough, I supported the war based on the idea that if Bush was wrong and proven so - they would be held accountable in some way."

Based on what? The Nixon years? He was brought down by Watergate, not Vietnam, although Kissinger and Cambodia didn't help.

And what good does it do anyone at that point, if Bush is proven wrong after the fact?

The very idea of forced regime change - an invasion - was based on a false understanding of how the region worked. The reverse domino theory was being thrown around. Rumsfeld projected ridiculous scenarios, and his generals scrambled to explain what he meant or get him to shut up. It was a bad idea from the get-go, and worse it was being promoted by a bunch of people who had no clear view of the situation, no depth of understanding of the people there, no idea what would happen after Saddam fell, no sense of history nor humility, no ability to communicate to leaders outside the US (except to threaten and belittle them), no exit strategy and no Plan B.

There was no way it ever would have worked.

Problem is, once we're there, things are pretty fucked, and you can't go back and make it better even if we were to throw Bush and all his cronies in prison forever. Iraq is still fucked, as is our relationship with almost the entire world. It's gonna take more than holding Bush to account to fix it, if that is even possible.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:13 PM on October 1, 2007


Oh no. We're going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies like most people breathe and you can't have that in public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around, I'd actually be relieved because I'd know that the madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes he's doing God's work.
Emphasis mine, obviously. You know, for the kids.
posted by blacklite at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2007


Did anyone notice that Israel recently bombed the shit out of a site in Northern Iran?

Ah, no. Unless you know something we don't?

Are you confusing Iran with Syria?
posted by Justinian at 6:58 PM on October 1, 2007


People need to stop thinking in terms of democrat or republican on this issue. On other issues, like healthcare, union, minimum wage, education, yes there are two distinctly different major parties and within each many large factions that fight to dominate over a given issue.

But on oil policy (which is entangled with the war) there is only one position:

1. The US economy depends on oil - for fuel, for raw materials, for energy, the US needs oil like humans need blood.

2a. The post China MFN-status US economy requires massive government wealth transfers to grow. Ex-defense spending, job growth is not only negative across all six years of the Bush administration, is is negative within each of those years as well. There is also a strong argument that ex-defense spending, economic growth would have been either negative or less than 1% positive in each of these years. Defense spending creates good paying jobs (in government and in the private sector) that make up for contractions in manufacturing and every other sector.

2b. The massive defense spending requires deficit spending. Given trade imbalances, many of those who end up with dollars and thus demand US govt securities are foreign countries. This is one major source of dollar demand.

2c. The second major source of dollar demand is commodity exchanges, particularly the oil market. Because all fo the major oil markets price in dollars, there is demand for dollars built into the global economy. If Denmark needs a barrel of oil, they exchange euros for dollars first, then use those dollars to buy oil. Thus...

2d. Oil exchange creates a huge supply of dollars in the hands of a few relatively tiny countries that have little use for them other than to buy US assets or US government debt, hence a Saudi prince own 5% of Disney. This petrodollar recycling returns US dollars spent on oil back to the US economy.

3. If commodity exchanges priced in things other than dollars, like Euros or yen, one of the primary sources of dollar demand would evaporate and the dollar would crash. A crashing dollar would create stunning inflation in the US, which would slow the economy down drastically.

4. Given 1-3, it is necessary to engage oil-rich nations aggressively to maintain the petrodollar recycling system. Engagement of these countries that involves excess defense spending is essentially free from the perspective of the government that would not be able to deficit spend if the dollar crashed.

So back to Smedleyman. The analysis you want isn't oil vs. dem/republican. You want a chart of oil prices vs annual deficit. The charts don't move in lockstep obviously, but significant events in both correlate. The largest surplus in memory was 1999, the same year oil prices bottomed. The surge in prices from 99-2001 (pre-911) correlates to the massive spending increase. The fun really comes when you chart dollar flows, China resource consumption growth etc. Put all these charts together and you get a flipbook animating the end of the American empire.

Dem or republican, this (1-4 above) cannot be ignored, and unlike the mid to late 90's, there is no dot-com boom to swell portfolio sizes. In fact, we are moving into a boom-free cycle right now with the collapse of housing. The next president will operate without an economic safety net. Any significant cut in spending will directly impact the economy by a proportional amount.

If any candidate wants to end the war, they will have to cut spending (how do you spend $800 billion in one year on defense if you don't have a war?). If they cut defense spending, the economy will lose precisely those jobs that have kept it out of recession.

So if you want to end the war (which I do), you will create a recession that ironically only increased defense spending is going to get you out of. And this is why no major candidate supports ending the war.

As a footnote, only healthcare rivals defense for job creation and growth. So it should come as no surprise that both dem candidates and the leading republican candidate are talking about some form of government-run or paid for healthcare. The mechanics don't matter for this purpose, only the huge infusion of money into that industry from the government.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:17 PM on October 1, 2007 [13 favorites]


Why would their political lieutenants suddenly bet the farm on a control scheme that was completely at odds with three decades of lessons that said that supply insecurity, rather than supply ownership, was the route to "3. PROFIT"?

Well (and clearly I am less informed about all of this than you, judging by the excellent info you shared upthread), but it seems to me that the economic shitstorm coming and the real chance that the dollar will go into freefall (more so than it already has (*gestures at recent downloadable report from the Economist, 'Heading for the rocks'*), coupled with the recent Saudi refusal to move in tandem with the recent rate cuts from the US Fed (for the first time ever), might well be making more concrete the fears that the currency of the oil trade might shift from dollars to euros.

Which would, again if I am not mistaken, be an armageddon of sorts for the already shaky American economy.

Just a thought. Certainly not the only reason to be beating war drums, but I'd be very surprised if it weren't a major consideration.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:20 PM on October 1, 2007


Whoops, I see Malor got there just before me, and better laid out, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:21 PM on October 1, 2007


Er, Pastabagel, I mean.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:21 PM on October 1, 2007


So if you want to end the war (which I do), you will create a recession that ironically only increased defense spending is going to get you out of. And this is why no major candidate supports ending the war.

This all seems inevitable, so why not do what FDR did and put the money into a New New Deal that actually invests in the country, instead of giving kickbacks to private shareholders in Halliburton and Blackwater? Christ, I walk down the street in Philadelphia and it's like a fucking warzone inside the United States — let's spend that $800B here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:53 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, I didn't mean Hersh had been turned into a stooge by Cheney, et al as some kind of Manchurian Candidate thing. I'm paranoid, but not that paranoid.

I mean he's been fed very selective information by representatives of the administration, for very specific reasons. Just like Colin Powell.

Now maybe my whole train of thought is too paranoid, thinking they've actually given up on the whole damn thing and are just waiting it out.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2007


The Day After We Bomb Iran
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on October 1, 2007


atchafalaya, from what i understand, he's fed info by the Pentagon (where many are angry at Bush for decimating the forces and equipment, etc) and the State Dept (which, aside from the top people, are career diplomats and also against Cheney/Bush/etc)--much of what he says is not a secret anyway--he just gets confirmation. Their noise machine has been setting the stage for it for over a year now.
posted by amberglow at 8:26 PM on October 1, 2007


"I hate all Iranians."

Let's not forget this little gem that nobody wants to talk about.
posted by rougy at 8:34 PM on October 1, 2007


Justinian,

Oops! You are, of course, correct - it was Syria.
posted by rockhopper at 8:35 PM on October 1, 2007


atchafalaya nailed it big time, way up in the post. And then offered precisely the defense I was scrolling down to post. Hersh does good work, and I've never doubted his sincerity. And he obviously trusts his sources, but so far they haven't been *right* about anything important. I have no doubt the Administration has drawn up many, many plans for an invasion of/bombing campaign over/revolution in Iran. It's possible that they wanted to implement any/all of those plans. It's also possible that Hersh's "revelations" prevented the implementation of those plans. But it seems most likely that the Bush administration knows who Hersh talks to, and feeds them intel that they *want* Iran to see. Three years of "Bush is hell-bent on invading Iran, ooga-booga" with absolutely nothing to show for it suggests that eithe Hersh's sources aren't as good as he thinks, or they (and he) are being duped, big time.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 8:38 PM on October 1, 2007


Although I've posted about conversion of 4 Trident class submarines from SSBN ballistic missile boats, to a new class of boats called SSGN, I mention them again here, simply because, in my lifetime, the U.S. has demonstrated a propensity to use new classes of offensive weapons it has created, in actual combat, when the situations for which those armaments have been created exist. The 4 converted SSGN's, together, could put 600 precision Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iran, in a very short period of time. Under an hour to launch, less than an hour thereafter to start of detonations.

Without putting a single American pilot or plane at risk.

You don't build weapon systems such as this, and train their crews, and load them with weapons, and put them to sea, without willingness to use them. Only a small percentage of Iranian territory, near the northern border with Turkmenistan, is out of Tomahawk range. Tomahawks are nuclear capable cruise missiles, although the nuclear warheads designed for them are generally variable yield "tactical" weapons, whose explosive power can be programmed from about 5 kiloton yield to about 150 kiloton yield. Or, in crude terms, from about 1/4 a Hiroshima bomb, to about 7 times a Hiroshima bomb.

Imagine, 600 Hiroshimas, in one hour times 7 (at maximum yield). Without a single American pilot or plane put to risk. I say this not to be alarmist, or sensational. We have built these things. We, meaning some persons in the command chain of our American government, are ready to use them.

Perhaps the actual mission profiles being planned are 400 conventional Tomahawks, 2 "demonstration" nuclear strikes, and 188+ Tomahawks held in reserve, to be followed by B2 bomber strikes, and after all that, with Iranian air defenses "softened up," continuous F-18 strikes from carriers, plus whatever else our ignored American Air Force has on hand, for long range deployment.

The people in the Pentagon walk by the repaired parts of their building pretty frequently, I imagine. They, I think, have forgotten nothing. As much as I personally think any military action towards Iran might be a bad idea, I understand that many thousands of my fellow Americans, in responsible positions, do not think that it is, and are planning, and building, accordingly.
posted by paulsc at 8:39 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I mean (Hersh has) been fed very selective information by representatives of the administration, for very specific reasons. Just like Colin Powell.

I still respectfully disagree with you on this one. Powell knew the whole story, but he was a team player, and the team was going to war and his job was to sell that war to the UN (I remember watching his WMD PowerPoint to the UN from Japan at 3AM, and that was chilling). Powell isn't stupid (at least not in the sense that he would just sit back and digest whatever info was given to him), and neither is Hersh. Hersh talks to an awful lot of people, so that would be an awful lot of people feeding 'selective info' to him. An awful lot of puppets, and an awful lot of strings, too many to be part of some conspiracy of misinformation.

Perhaps the reason why he's been writing about the same thing for four years is because, post-Iraq, there is a gigantic struggle going on inside the US government, Hawks versus Doves. So far, the Doves have staved off disaster.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:41 PM on October 1, 2007


Very nicely described, as always, Pastabagel. Iran and Iraq have very significant oil reserves, both of which are relatively untapped (compared to Saudi Arabia's plateauing production rates). The looming energy crisis is not a fever dream of the hard left; and it's made all the more frightening by the "3 billion capitalists" that have awakened in China. The superpowers of the next hundred years will be the nations with access to oil. Targetting these countries not only takes their oil offline, raising prices in the short term, but it also ensures that in the long term that oil is shipped to North America, not China.

We're looking at a sort of purely economic cold war. The USA's military moves are actually completely economic in motive; their goal seems to be to starve China to ensure continued dominance. From this point of view, these wars are not random insanity from Bushco, but a coldly rational policy of long-term energy control, at the cost of many, many lives. We're also forcing China to depend on coal, which will have horrible long-term environmental consequences.
posted by mek at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2007


We are, right now, essentially at war with China. We can't talk about it, because China doesn't know yet, and the longer they remain in the dark, the easier it'll be for us. The military-insider's point of view: we need to invade and topple Iran before China realizes our endgame and backs them. Sure there will be a terrible loss of life and a new generation of terrorists, but our puppet governments work well enough, military bases can secure the important parts of the country, and insurgents have proven themselves pretty bad at targetting American citizens.

If I was to hazard some guesses as to how the next few years will go - Canada's attempts to make oil deals with China will continue to mysteriously fizzle. Air strikes begin on Iran in 2008, and regardless of who gets elected president, a draft will be instituted to finish the job. Once the first bombs are dropped, it's inescapable.
posted by mek at 8:55 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some other things I didn't mention, in my post above, is that, assuming we didn't much care about Iranian retaliation on surface boats, and had the Tomahawk inventory, we could fire additional Tomahawks from surface ships, at will, in support of SSGN operations. The value of the SSGN capabilities is that they are effectively unknowable to Iran's military, until after the first strikes are launched. And we could reload those SSGN launcher tubes, at sea, meaning that for all practical purposes, with sufficient pre-strike Tomahawk inventory, we could pretty much keep doing 600 Tomahawk strikes a day from SSGNs, plus additional launches from AEGIS surface ships, before putting the first American plane over Iran.

We didn't do this in Iraq, largely because the U.S. Army and Marines were gung-ho to take on the Iraq mission, on the ground. I think any Iranian conflict the U.S. initiates is going to be far different.
posted by paulsc at 8:57 PM on October 1, 2007


Imagine, 600 Hiroshimas, in one hour times 7 (at maximum yield).

I honestly think that this would cause immediate major civil unrest in the USA that would require a domestic application of military force to suppress. Even then it would be touch and go. For this reason alone I think it's very unlikely; the people who ordered it would quite possibly be committing literal, rather than political, suicide.
posted by stammer at 9:38 PM on October 1, 2007


"I honestly think that this would cause immediate major civil unrest in the USA that would require a domestic application of military force to suppress. ..."
posted by stammer at 12:38 AM on October 2

Perhaps you are right, stammer. I hope so. Really, I do.

But what I want you to think about tonight, as you go to bed, is that there are probably 400+ American Navy personnel, manning these SSGN's, tonight, under salt water, with God knows what in their launch tubes, ready to do whatever comes over their long wave authentication link. Trained, cross-qualified, psychologically tested and verified, sworn to do whatever comes across their authentication link.

I say this, not to be sensational, or argumentative. I say this because, whether you like it or not, at some level, the phrase "all options are on the table" has a real, and terrible, meaning. It must have, for people that engage in gunboat diplomacy.

I don't believe in a Muslim or Christian God, but lately, skeptic and doubter that I am, I give a thought to young men in hard places, everywhere, and I do what I can to hope, against hope.
posted by paulsc at 10:02 PM on October 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


Also, hard though it is to consider in the abstract of comfortable living rooms, I want readers of this thread to think about the mindset of those American SSGN crews, and their brethren on AEGIS surface ships, on the second day of any Iranian operation, when their tubes have been reloaded...
posted by paulsc at 10:40 PM on October 1, 2007


I honestly think that this would cause immediate major civil unrest in the USA that would require a domestic application of military force to suppress. Even then it would be touch and go. For this reason alone I think it's very unlikely; the people who ordered it would quite possibly be committing literal, rather than political, suicide.

Oh, I dunno. I think the moment for a critical mass (pun!) of unrest came and passed long ago. If people aren't taking to the streets now, they never will. Not even for nuclear war. The reaction of the average American to the nuking of Iran would probably be along the lines of "Well, it wouldn't have happened if those towelheads didn't keep attacking us. Serves 'em right."

As a matter of fact, someone sitting next to me in the lobby of a Goodyear Tires store said almost exactly that [in reaction to a news item from Iraq] a few days ago.

Not to mention the massive, worldwide protests such as the world has never seen before the invasion in 2003. Nothing changed, and nothing will. If worse comes to worse, Burma provides an excellent example on how to handle an unruly populace.

No, its pretty much over.
posted by Avenger at 10:44 PM on October 1, 2007


"The people in the Pentagon walk by the repaired parts of their building pretty frequently, I imagine. They, I think, have forgotten nothing. As much as I personally think any military action towards Iran might be a bad idea, I understand that many thousands of my fellow Americans, in responsible positions, do not think that it is, and are planning, and building, accordingly."

Which has what to do with Iran?

If people in the Pentagon are that mother-fucking stupid, some of us might be persuaded to start rooting for the terrorists.
posted by rougy at 11:10 PM on October 1, 2007


I honestly think that this would cause immediate major civil unrest in the USA that would require a domestic application of military force to suppress. Even then it would be touch and go.

Your optimism is touching. Are you a betting man? Because I'd be willing to stake a significant portion of my limited savings on the reelection of the incumbent under such circumstances. My e-mail address is in my profile.
posted by enn at 11:25 PM on October 1, 2007


"... If people in the Pentagon are that mother-fucking stupid, some of us might be persuaded to start rooting for the terrorists."
posted by rougy at 2:10 AM on October 2

I suppose you could be right, rougy.

But just out of curiousity, and understanding that this is bound to be an emotional question for Americans more than 10 years old, when was the last time you walked past new bricks, and not-quite-matching-linoleum, whose replacement was due to 9/11? I'm not being flip. I'd really like to know.

I think that walking through those corridors, even occasionally, if you are Pentagon employee, must change you, unlike any other reminder of that day. I think you have to grant, that those people are carrying a unique and ongoing experience of The War on Terrorism, that no other Americans carry.

I would not want to be less than honest in considering that the capabilities they are creating for our military, are any less than that terrible day, in some of their honest, professional military hearts, deserves. I would not want to be less than honest in admitting that, in some small part of my human heart, I understand that.

Would you?
posted by paulsc at 11:29 PM on October 1, 2007


Why, as Rudy Giuliani would put it, 9/11, 9/11 and let's not forget 9/11 and that reminds me, 9/11!!! and another thing, 9/11--which brings me to my main point: 9/11. Move over, Christmas. 9/11 is now the new holiest day of the year.
posted by y2karl at 12:04 AM on October 2, 2007


Paulsc,

I have a big problem with people walking past the wall of the Pentagon and possibly seeing it as a justification for attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.

I don't have to walk past that wall to realize not only the futility of such a thought, but the naked, criminal, irrationality of it.

And I hate to say this, but here it is: I have very little respect for men and women who will do things that machines or well-trained animals would also do in their stead, given that machines or well-trained animals could.

Everybody who participates in a nuclear attack on Iran is doing so knowingly, and willingly, and each and every one of them, from the top down, is a war criminal.
posted by rougy at 12:21 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"... 9/11 is now the new holiest day of the year."
posted by y2karl at 3:04 AM on October 2

At 6+ years remove, it's no longer Pearl Harbor, but neither have we yet had our Midway. I think even idealogical adversaries, on a global scale, must think about that. And, has Hersh has publicly reported:

"..."They are bragging that they have spray-painted an American warship-to signal the Americans that they can get close to them." (I was told by the former senior intelligence official that there was an unexplained incident, this spring, in which an American warship was spray-painted with a bull's-eye while docked in Qatar, which may have been the source of the boasts.) ..."

How do you think that is playing, with the boys under salt water tonight, y2karl?
posted by paulsc at 12:35 AM on October 2, 2007


"... I don't have to walk past that wall to realize not only the futility of such a thought, but the naked, criminal, irrationality of it. ..."
posted by rougy at 3:21 AM on October 2

Easy, I guess, to say from your living room, rougy. But it explains your comments, entirely.
posted by paulsc at 12:42 AM on October 2, 2007


"Easy, I guess, to say from your living room, rougy. But it explains your comments, entirely."

It's as easy for me to say as it is for you to imply that a nuclear war with Iran is either warranted or necessary to the defense and welfare of our country, the United States of America.
posted by rougy at 12:48 AM on October 2, 2007


"It's as easy for me to say as it is for you to imply that a nuclear war with Iran is either warranted or necessary to the defense and welfare of our country, the United States of America.
posted by rougy at 3:48 AM on October 2

I neither said, or implied, that a nuclear war "with Iran" is "warranted," rougy. For one thing, if I believe press reports, it wouldn't be a war, according to Seymour Hersch:

".... The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities. ..."

And it might not be predominantly nuclear. Please try to keep up with the discussion.
posted by paulsc at 12:59 AM on October 2, 2007


paulsc,

I am keeping up. You seem to be passively justifying a war with Iran (your Pentagon wall reference), and in an above post, you described at length the measures taken to convert submarines for a possible, or probable as you implied, nuclear offense.

We've threatened Iran for at least six or seven years now, openly and belligerently. We're not dealing with cavemen. Launching a few hundred missiles on Iranian targets may not be considered a war to you or to Mr. Hersh, but it sure as hell will be considered one to Iran.

It is very hard for me to believe that, after having been threatened for the past six years, Iran has not taken some measures - perhaps quite sinister and drastic - to provide for a counterstrike of some sort, not against our military, but against the United States itself.

Should that come to pass, God forbid, in the eyes of the world Iran's act of self defense will be seen as justified.
posted by rougy at 1:26 AM on October 2, 2007


"... And I hate to say this, but here it is: I have very little respect for men and women who will do things that machines or well-trained animals would also do in their stead, given that machines or well-trained animals could. ...

You tell that, when opportunity presents itself, at a sub slip at Kings Bay, roughy.

Cause I've got nothing to say, were I there, except, with downward cast eyes, and a grateful heart, that I didn't have to make the choices, and respond to the orders:

"Welcome home, boys."
posted by paulsc at 1:28 AM on October 2, 2007


And it might not be predominantly nuclear. Please try to keep up with the discussion.

Paulsc, can I just ask: WTF are you talking about?

So we devistate Iran from the air -- maybe even with nukes -- and thats not war? I'm also trying to understand this "Hey the Pentagon got attacked so we need to understand if they bomb some people once in a while." WTF? I'm trying to parse your sentences into some kind of coherent idea but I'm coming up blank.
posted by Avenger at 1:34 AM on October 2, 2007


"Welcome home, boys."

Oh, certainly.

Let's not hurt the soldier's feelings.

I'm in the wrong; you're in the right.

They're only following orders...launching nuclear strikes on Iran.

What a bastard I am....
posted by rougy at 1:37 AM on October 2, 2007


"... or probable as you implied, nuclear offense. ..."

Please, spare me the righteous indignation, rougy. What I said was:

"... Perhaps the actual mission profiles being planned are 400 conventional Tomahawks, 2 "demonstration" nuclear strikes, and 188+ Tomahawks held in reserve, to be followed by B2 bomber strikes, and after all that, with Iranian air defenses "softened up," continuous F-18 strikes from carriers, plus whatever else our ignored American Air Force has on hand, for long range deployment. ..."

I think, to any reasonable reader, this signals that I have no knowledge of, or capability for prediction of, U.S. military plans, regarding Iran. IN CASE IT DOESN'T, LET ME HEREWITH SAY I DON'T.

The Joint Chiefs haven't invited me to any meeting in decades, pal. For all I know, perhaps the best military minds of the U.S. are planning 2100 conventional strikes against Iranian targets in the first 10 hours, followed by 200 nuclear detonations against hardened targets, followed by Special Forces insertions, followed by Special Forces extractions, and follow-up ICBM nuclear missions based on human intelligence gained from the Special Forces teams insertions.

What do you think "all options are on the table" means?
posted by paulsc at 1:45 AM on October 2, 2007


And let me ask you something, that I asked upthread, that you've ignored, again, simply and humanly:

"I would not want to be less than honest in considering that the capabilities they are creating for our military, are any less than that terrible day, in some of their honest, professional military hearts, deserves. I would not want to be less than honest in admitting that, in some small part of my human heart, I understand that.

Would you?"

posted by paulsc at 2:29 AM on October 2

It's not a theoretical question...
posted by paulsc at 1:57 AM on October 2, 2007


These are your words:

"You don't build weapon systems such as this, and train their crews, and load them with weapons, and put them to sea, without willingness to use them."

These are mine:

"...or probable as you implied, nuclear offense...."

How do your words not jibe with the ones that I wrote?

"What do you think "all options are on the table" means?"

At this point in time, it means that the Bush administration is intent on starting World War Three.
posted by rougy at 1:59 AM on October 2, 2007


"I would not want to be less than honest in considering that the capabilities they are creating for our military, are any less than that terrible day, in some of their honest, professional military hearts, deserves. I would not want to be less than honest in admitting that, in some small part of my human heart, I understand that.

Would you?"


I would honestly answer that if I knew what the hell you were talking about.

Would you mind rephrasing it?
posted by rougy at 2:01 AM on October 2, 2007


"These are your words:"

"You don't build weapon systems such as this, and train their crews, and load them with weapons, and put them to sea, without willingness to use them."

"These are mine:"

"...or probable as you implied, nuclear offense...."

"How do your words not jibe with the ones that I wrote?"

Simple. U.S. nuclear capabilities haven't tracked U.S. nuclear use since Nagasaki. Japan wasn't a nuclear power. Iran might be and would like the U.S. to believe that it might be. During the whole Cold War, despite provocations, the U.S. nuclear arsenal, although constantly targeted against adversaries, was never launched. The "other side" understood MAD.

Does Iran? Should we take the monkey that grinned in New York last week seriously?

As in, really seriously?
posted by paulsc at 2:17 AM on October 2, 2007


"...Would you mind rephrasing it?"
posted by rougy at 5:01 AM on October 2

Cheap, cheap rhetorical manuever, rougy.

But, OK, for the simple minded:

"Can you understand the feeling of those in the U.S. military, who, having to work and plan in the reconstructed Pentagon, that those (persons or nations) who support terrorism, directly allied with those who killed Pentagon comrades on 9/11, should be made to pay?"

If you don't, you don't, rougy. If you understand it, it's OK, here, to say you do.
posted by paulsc at 2:25 AM on October 2, 2007


3:17:

Serious or not, if you think Iran is insane enough to attack us, you need therapy and heavy medication.

3:25:

No. If anybody who works in the Pentagon thinks it's a good idea to attack Iran because they look at a damaged wall, they are mother-fucking nuts.

Only a mother-fucking nut would think it's okay to attack another country - in this case Iran - based on an attack from six years ago that was alledgedly carred out by a couple dozen fuckups from Saudi Arabia.

Timothy James McVeigh was born in Pendelton, New York.

Would these same mother-fucking Pentagon nuts think it's a good idea to bomb the shit out of Pendelton so as to avoid or avenge the Oklahoma City bombing?
posted by rougy at 2:35 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or, hell, as Iran is related to Saudi Arabia, maybe the nuts in the Pentagon would rather bomb Hartford, Connecticut to avenge the bomber from Pendelton, New York.
posted by rougy at 2:37 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"... If anybody who works in the Pentagon thinks it's a good idea to attack Iran because they look at a damaged wall, they are mother-fucking nuts."

Easy, I guess, for you to say, who has never, by his own admission, had to walk past those walls, over that perhaps mis-matched linoleum.

"... Would these same mother-fucking Pentagon nuts think it's a good idea to bomb the shit out of Pendelton so as to avoid or avenge the Oklahoma City bombing?"
posted by rougy at 5:35 AM on October 2 [1 favorite +]

I don't think the military people who serve at the Pentagon are, to use your unflattering word, "nuts." I think they know what they are doing, and have agreed to do it, partly in respect of those fallen comrades, who no longer can.

I think many Americans, who have no connection with the military, understand their feelings.
posted by paulsc at 2:54 AM on October 2, 2007


Not really worth an FPP but this article in Salon is fucking scary, Bush and Blackwater.

J. Cofer Black, Vice Chairman [of Blackwater]: Black spent most of his 28-year CIA career running covert operations in the Directorate of Operations, where he worked with Rob Richer (below). At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC). There he was former CIA Director George Tenet's ace in the hole when it came to convincing Bush the CIA should lead initial U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan after 9/11. Black is, according to published accounts, a man with a flair for the dramatic, the kind of briefer President Bush likes. In one briefing, according to several reports, Black told the president, "When we're through with [terrorists in Afghanistan], they will have flies walking across their eyeballs." (Black also ordered CIA field officer Gary Schroen to bring back Osama bin Laden's head packed in dry ice so Black could show it to Bush.) Black's Afghanistan presentation earned him "special access" to the White House, the Washington Post's Dana Priest reported in December 2005.

Who the hell are these people?
posted by afu at 3:44 AM on October 2, 2007


I don't think the military people who serve at the Pentagon are, to use your unflattering word, "nuts." I think they know what they are doing, and have agreed to do it, partly in respect of those fallen comrades, who no longer can.

I think the gung-ho crazies, the cautious moderates and everything in between have always been fairly well represented at the Pentagon (and the War Department before it). The problem is that this administration tends to listen to the ideological progeny of Curtis LeMay rather than the descendants of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
posted by psmealey at 4:27 AM on October 2, 2007


"... The problem is that this administration tends to listen to the ideological progeny of Curtis LeMay rather than the descendants of Dwight D. Eisenhower."
posted by psmealey at 7:27 AM on October 2

In the heat of the moment, Eisenhower thought Market Garden was a good idea. You really can't judge judgement, less than 50 years on.

The people calling today's shots don't have the luxury of 50 years historical perspective. What would you like them to do, or not do, in a lesser time frame?
posted by paulsc at 4:48 AM on October 2, 2007


Easy, I guess, for you to say, who has never, by his own admission, had to walk past those walls, over that perhaps mis-matched linoleum.

Mismatched linoleum on the one hand, bombing Iran on the other. I find your emotional appeal very distressing.
posted by effwerd at 6:07 AM on October 2, 2007


I think that walking through those corridors, even occasionally, if you are Pentagon employee, must change you ... I think you have to grant, that those people are carrying a unique and ongoing experience of The War on Terrorism, that no other Americans carry.

Uh yeah, I guess New Yorkers are just imagining that great big hole in their ground - the one they think they're walking by every day, or even occassionally.
Either that, or they're all planning an attack on Iran too.

You know, up until you got into your linoleum fetish mode, you were making some interesting points.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:32 AM on October 2, 2007


"Can you understand the feeling of those in the U.S. military, who, having to work and plan in the reconstructed Pentagon, that those (persons or nations) who support terrorism, directly allied with those who killed Pentagon comrades on 9/11, should be made to pay?"

You think Iran is "directly allied" with Al-Qaeda? Let's hope the people walking past that wall in the Pentagon have a firmer grasp of the situation in the Middle East than you do.
posted by EarBucket at 6:57 AM on October 2, 2007


Hello? Saudi Arabia? Any comments on why we're not so keen on bombing them, considering many of the 9/11 terrorists were from there? How do you explain that one, paulsc?
posted by agregoli at 6:58 AM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


This discussion has turned completely insane.

paulsc, let me paint a scenario for you- instead of the US bombing Iran, what if they bomb us? What if Iran using a truck or a rocket blasts a ship in Norfolk or an military C4 taking off from a runway? Whatever, think of any attack that IRan could mount on US soil. Say they blow up a WalMart in Dubuque, whatever.

Then what?

You can drop every single bomb the US has on Iran, and the US will still lose that war because the US will never put ground troops into Iran. Everyone knows, the Pentagon, the White House, Iran, the British, everyone knows that to be the case.

Bombing is weakness when it isn't followed up with an invasion. You can't seize territory by bombing it. Stop talking about bombing like its some kind of threat of force. It's a joke.

who support terrorism, directly allied with those who killed Pentagon comrades on 9/11, should be made to pay?

I don't understand that. What is "made to pay" mean? You're going to kill them? Try catching them first. In their minds they are making us pay. There's no karma. Nobody gets what's coming to them because no one is "due" anything. There's no omnipotent Fate balancing the scales of justice.

This is macho, doublethink-masquerading-as-patriotism, bullshit. Don't draw analogies to World War II, a conflict involving industrial nation states, to a guerilla war. We lost in Vietnam, remember? This is more like that than the war in the pacific.

If we bomb Iran, they would be legally justified in bombing New York City or Plano, Texas. The reason you are so cavalier about suggesting this is that you can't imagine them retaliating against us. I guarantee you if we bomb iran there will be casualties here.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:15 AM on October 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


If we bomb Iran, they would be legally justified in bombing New York City or Plano, Texas.

And we'd be equally legally justified in picking a neighborhood in Tehran and flattening it with conventional weapons.
posted by oaf at 7:34 AM on October 2, 2007


Which gives us a water-tight pre-emptive 'defence' casus belli... Perfect! Bombs away.
posted by YouRebelScum at 7:42 AM on October 2, 2007


Now, I'm pissed off.

I think that walking through those corridors, even occasionally, if you are Pentagon employee, must change you, unlike any other reminder of that day. I think you have to grant, that those people are carrying a unique and ongoing experience of The War on Terrorism, that no other Americans carry.

Too bad for him. The Pentagon failed the American people on 9-11, do you get that? We spent trillion to let those people build whatever weapons they wanted, to train as much as they wanted, without concern for the sacrifice Americans were making to subsidize that. And they got beaten by grad students with box cutters.

That pentagon employee and all the others like him fucked up the one thing they were supposed to not fuck up - defense of the United States.

They dispatched planes to intercept without weapons on board. You couldn't defend the capital, you could defend the defense department! Failure Failure failure.

And what do you get for it? Quadrupled spending and all the misadventures you can shake a stick at.

What about the civilians who did in office buildings in New York? Remember them? Those are the people who pay that pentagon employee's salary, and who that pentagon employee was supposed to protect but didn't because he and his organization are incompetent.

Don't give me this tear jerker bullshit. The pentagon is where people go who can't hack it in the private sector. I'd like to see how long that pentagon employee lasts in any one of those wall street jobs that got erased on 9-11.

The Defense Department is welfare for people with too much false pride to go on food stamps. He isn't doing noble work.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:46 AM on October 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you apply the Bush administration's preemptive war doctrine, Iran is already justified in attacking the United States.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


/long but a lot to address.

“you totally missed the argument (more of an offhand joke, really)” - posted by Hat Maui

My mistake, I apologize. *recalibrates recursive pop culture humor detector*

“Rather one can say that one powerful coalition within the party has historically represented the interests of big oil, and has post-1970s enacted policies that have supported limited flow conditions... “ & “The analysis you want isn't oil vs. dem/republican. You want a chart of oil prices vs annual deficit. ”

Precisely what I’m looking for actually. I’m also curious about the dem side of the equation. At some point there should be a way to spot recurring trends associated with various groups (of whatever party) and their associated ideological luggage. Thanks kowalski & Pastabagel

“But I'll take your word for it: Seymour Hersh is a stooge.”

Well yeah, I mean, considering this from the hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop conceptualization, obviously they did all that with the intent that the American public can say about Iraq: “well, at least we’re not in Iran.”

“it would have been just as easy to enrich them by selling Saddam arms and equipment and in return getting oil deals that could have been given to Halliburton.”

You wouldn’t have been able to snatch the $9+ billion in cash though. The cash price is often a substantial motivation over what’s down on paper.

“And what good does it do anyone at that point, if Bush is proven wrong after the fact?”

Um...the recall of the troops, the cessation of hostilities, prosecution of everyone involved?
Weird how I believe in law and justice I know.
So - “knowing” beforehand they were lying got us where exactly?

“The very idea of forced regime change - an invasion - was based on a false understanding of how the region worked”

Gee, I wouldn’t know anything about that, but I will say I supported the war based on the possibility Saddam posessed WMDs. The way it was presented to me (not publically) was very plausible and more than a few people I consider knowledgeable bought into it as well. This was all before the flurry of resignations and such.
There wasn’t so much the threat that Saddam would nuke us on our home soil, but rather that he - or someone who got their hands on his goods since he wasn’t the most stable or meticulously minded individual and his administration was only slightly less corrupt than that of Nero’s - would run a false flag op and hit, say, a carrier group or other high value target provoking a response. Given Israel’s “I will go way more bugnuts if you attack me than you can possibly imagine” defense posture, most of us Owls were looking at avoiding an (albeit slowly) escalating nuclear exchange.

But for the entire thing to be all bullshit? Yeah, that was surprising. Kinda like a cop shouting “he’s got a gun!” prompting other cops to shoot someone high profile (a senator’s spouse or something). You draw on instinct and if that person so much as twitches you fire. Because why would someone do that? Especially when the board of inquiry is going to stomp all over them, there’s going to be a public outcry, people are going to lose their jobs, be run out of office, all that.
Yeah, not this time though. I’d’ve thought the voting thing too. Something. There’s no way Nixon would have gotten it in the ass over Watergate without the massive groundswell against him.
And there’s been nothing but scandal after scandal in this administration, meanwhile, not a peep from anyone with any real juice. Nor a peep from anyone with juice who’s got public pressure on them.
As a point of conjecture, I think it’s the voting system, I mean, libruls/Dems were really gung ho over Diebold - after the last run, nada.
Funny, eh? Maybe they’re not scared of people not voting for them (and showing it by protesting) for some reason?

Meanwhile, there’s still time to run my plan (prosecution for misleading us into the war, related war crimes, etc) stopping the war before it happens, not so much.


“I honestly think that this would cause immediate major civil unrest in the USA that would require a domestic application of military force to suppress.”

I’ve been there too. Didn’t pan out.
(Some of us are fighting, quite literally we think, against the end of the world. Hell, if all it took was sucking Bush’s cock to do I’d be first in line.)
And I think with the Cubs this close to clinching the division title and possibly the series (themselves possible signs), now is not the time to tempt the Apocalypse.

There are lotsa good long term strategic reasons to occupy Iran and Iraq and nudge China out of the picture. Not only do I not trust that this is the goal of the administration (and I do see the angles), this zero sum thinking always - always - leads to direct confrontation at some point.
Whyinhell dja think there’s been so much emphasis on missile shields and such. It doesn’t have to work, the idea just has to be there to allow some room to breathe, introduce some doubt in the opposition.
(That whole “but...you’re Americans...you can do anything!?” meme took a long time to build).
It’s really time to engage them (China, et.al), screw dominance, it’s not worth the risk of ending the world. We can say ‘nice doggie’ for quite a while while hiding our respective rocks. Start pouring money into R&D, public works, etc. lessen our domestic dependance on oil, leave it for the military to keep our options open, but at parity, not dominance, and we’ll interweave our interests so tightly we’d be making war on ourselves.
I’ll take the sacrifice in economic status and living standards we enjoy now, we can (and we have) survived it if it means we don’t lose pretty much everything we’ve gained over the past 100,000-odd years of human development. I kind of like Shakespeare, and y’know, engineering - s’pretty good. Mozart and farming and stuff, I’d rather not risk playing russian roulette so we can stay fat, dumb and happy.


“The pentagon is where people go who can't hack it in the private sector. I'd like to see how long that pentagon employee lasts in any one of those wall street jobs that got erased on 9-11.”

Gotta take some exception with that comment. (Although I’d concede it’s closer to accurate now given all the political hacks and appointments in place) Take the Nuclear Cities Initiative f’rinstance, tough job I don’t think Joe Wallstreet could do. There’s a difference between the stress one might feel on the market floor risking even millions of dollars vs. the stress one might feel with the barrel of an AK-47 at one’s head, some psycho arms dealer holding a nuclear tech hostage, five hundred kilos of plutonium about to go rogue and the potential end of the world on the line.
(Old story, practically cliché - but you don’t have to leave wall street one day to go out in the field and, when you bring your sidearm (then a .45) one of your operators looks at it and mysteriously says “You’d better file off the iron sight” and you ask “Why?” and he says “Because it’ll hurt less when they stick it up your ass” - doesn’t happen in the corporate world much)
(The failure on 9/11 I’d concede. Odd how no one was fired tho. And Cheney’s role in it downright mystifies me.)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:56 AM on October 2, 2007


I have no doubt that America could win a war with Iran, and that the results of the victory would be ten times worse than the horrible results of winning the war against Iraq.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on October 2, 2007


Smedleyman, I wasn't talking about the military personnel. I was talking about the desk piloting civilian hordes and contractors who make up most of today's defense department. The people who fight the wars deserve better from those working out the strategy and plans.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:11 PM on October 2, 2007


plus whatever else our ignored American Air Force has on hand

On behalf of the thousands of innocent Iraqis killed daily in U.S. air strikes, let me be the first to say, fuck you paulsc.
posted by afu at 12:33 PM on October 2, 2007


The people calling today's shots don't have the luxury of 50 years historical perspective. What would you like them to do, or not do, in a lesser time frame?
posted by paulsc at 4:48 AM on October 2 [+] [!]


Really? They don't? That's too bad. We should have elected people with an actual education. Explains a lot, though.
posted by mek at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2007


We should have elected people with an actual education

...who will have the exact same lack of historical perspective.
posted by oaf at 1:17 PM on October 2, 2007


I don't know, the last two almost-presidents seemed pretty on top of things.
posted by mek at 1:45 PM on October 2, 2007


Invading countries to get their natural resources is exactly what Japan did in World War II. Maybe we can just all it the Greater Middle East Co-Prosperity Sphere.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:50 PM on October 2, 2007


I don't know, the last two almost-presidents seemed pretty on top of things.

Let me know when they can predict the future. I think that's what paulsc was talking about.
posted by oaf at 2:04 PM on October 2, 2007


So we should find some guy who predicted thsi whole IRaq thing was a bad idea and elect him?
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on October 2, 2007


So we should find some guy who predicted thsi whole IRaq thing was a bad idea and elect him?

If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve
posted by psmealey at 3:22 PM on October 2, 2007


Not that I was anything special. Anyone with any understanding at all of the history of and tensions within the region predicted that things would go almost exactly the way they have in Iraq.

The only thing that's even slightly surprising is that Turkey hasn't jumped in full force from the north, but I still wouldn't rule that out as an eventuality.
posted by psmealey at 3:30 PM on October 2, 2007


“I was talking about the desk piloting civilian hordes and contractors who make up most of today's defense department.”

Ah, so in essence exactly the marginal idiots I had culled as...well, yeah, marginal idiots. Ok, fair enough. My mistake. That being the case I wholeheartedly agree.
I can’t imagine an industry I’d rather see socialized than the defense industry. Healthcare, yeah maybe, but taking the profit margin out of war and driving those lapdog miscreants into obscurity give me a really big lift in my pants.

“Invading countries to get their natural resources is exactly what Japan did in World War II.”

Yeah, it’s funny, I talk to some folks who say if you’re going to go to war, fighting over critical resources is a good reason. Even when it’s couched in principle - analogous on a personal level to, say, home invasion. Still - yep, good thing.
Of course, typically they themselves aren’t vets.
But beyond that, I suspect many people who are indifferent to the war feel that way. Which really bothers me. Obviously they’re willing to allow lies and blood sacrifice for their personal comfort (not a first in human history) but the problem is what evidence is there at all that this is in fact benefitting the country or will do so in the long term?
Ok, we bust them up and take their shit and sit on it and defend it and play keep away - so, will those resources be used in the interests of the betterment of mankind? - even the betterment of mankind within the U.S. boarders? (e.g. productive uses, like a boost to better fuel technologies for starters) or are we just going to spend them prodigally and get fatter, dumber, happier.
So: are you going to bust into someone’s home, take their stuff and use the money to go to college and get a degree or are you going to blow it on strippers and stereo equipment and lifestyle accessories and trinkets until you need more and have to go bust someone else up?

I’d still be opposed to invasion for resources even with the highest of goals, but I can see the angle and recognize there is at least some measure of legitimacy in the argument that the world’s resources are better in the hands of a republic than a tyrant. I disagree, but still, ok, it’s a valid, if ultimately self-defeating, perspective.

But we’re not (to push the analogy) following the college track as a nation.
We be thuggin’
posted by Smedleyman at 3:38 PM on October 2, 2007


(just musing there, obviously an augmentation not a refutation of your point kirkaracha )
posted by Smedleyman at 3:40 PM on October 2, 2007


The only thing that's even slightly surprising is that Turkey hasn't jumped in full force from the north, but I still wouldn't rule that out as an eventuality.

Turkey wants some hope of joining the EU.
posted by oaf at 3:43 PM on October 2, 2007


Of course they periodically screw it up with bullshit like the Orhan Pamuk thing.
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on October 2, 2007


No worries, Smedleyman. I just wish our political leaders would be honest with us and we'd be honest with ourselves about our reasons for going to war instead of all the jingoistic fighting-for-democracy protecting-our-freedoms bullshit.

I believe that the US dependence on oil causes us to make alliances with autocratic countries or take actions that are antithetical to our values, and some of those alliances and actions cause trouble for us. I've hoped since the first Gulf War that we'd start a Manhattan Project-level to develop alternative energy sources. Then we could actually promote democracy in the Middle East instead of giving it a bad name like we're doing in Iraq.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:10 PM on October 2, 2007


or take actions that are antithetical to our values

Are they? When words and deeds differ...
posted by dreamsign at 12:19 AM on October 3, 2007


re: pastabagel -- "why no major candidate supports ending the war" -- and mek -- "We're looking at a sort of purely economic cold war."

you might want to check out The Bretton Woods II Fiction by some guys at PIMCO, one of the largest -- if not the largest -- fixed income fund managers in the world and btw where mohamed el-erian has ended back up after a year's stint (successfully) running harvard's endowment, i might add [cf.].

choice excerpts:
"...Per Webster's dictionary, a system is defined as "a complex unity formed of many often diverse parts subject to a common plan or serving a common purpose." It would be charitable in the extreme to confer this definition on BWII, which is to the gold standard what a five-year old finger-painting child is to Monet. The hallmark of the classical gold standard was the prompt adjustment of international payments imbalances. The hallmark of the pure paper standard is the indefinite postponement of international payments imbalances, all the more so when its major violator possesses sufficient military "currency" to prevent its creditors from punishing it for ongoing profligacy..."

"...The lessons for present day policy makers are stark. A perpetuation of existing exchange rate policies, based on flawed economic analysis, is creating broadly similar conditions to those that prevailed before the Great Depression. History suggests great economic hardship will follow and that it will be proportionately borne by the debtor nations. Today's largest debtor nation is the U.S., which is showing itself increasingly prone to using military options to enforce its objectives, given the precarious state of its national finances and corresponding loss of economic leverage... as it has gradually militarized its energy policy. If one includes America's array of privately outsourced services along with a professional permanent military, the costs run around three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year. Chinese, Japanese and other central banks of East Asia via Bretton Woods II indirectly finance this cost. Since these countries also indirectly compete with the U.S. for the same energy resources, we have a paradoxical situation in which they are in effect "feeding the hand that bites it." This is inherently unstable as the foreigner eventually realizes that the provision of capital to a country engaged in war enables the country to invest more in military equipment—equipment that can ultimately be used against them. In such circumstances, America's external creditors will decide that they would rather invest the accumulated current account proceeds in their own military jets and equipment for themselves. That is to say, they would prefer to own the jet rather than finance it for the U.S. Then the "magic" of Bretton Woods II disappears..."

"...Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has abandoned the principles of building up a defense force for the purposes of addressing the security tasks immediately at hand, and instead has embarked on a policy of maintaining military capabilities far in excess of those of any would-be adversary or combination of adversaries. Von Clausewitz once said, "War is diplomacy by other means." Under recent U.S. administrations, however, war has become an extension, not of diplomacy, but of energy policy.

"While the Pentagon readily acknowledges it can do little to promote trade or enhance financial stability, it increasingly asserts that it can play a key role in protecting resource supplies. Resources are tangible assets that can be exposed to risk by political turmoil and conflict abroad—and so, it is increasingly argued, they require physical protection, which in turn is used to justify the extraordinary sums now lavished on the Pentagon.

"To add to the problem, we are on the verge of a collision between rising energy demand and depleting energy output from the developed to developing world, with the higher attendant political risk that accompanies this move. But America is paying little heed as to how it acquires this energy; it too embraces a form of renegade economics and is in part able to do so because Bretton Woods II provides nothing in the way of an external constraint of its debt-bingeing financing requirements. Quite the contrary: it subsidizes it..."

"...Faced with the inability to resolve its problems economically, the U.S. is likely to be increasingly tempted to embrace the military option for the resolution of its debt crisis. A successful military option enables the victorious country to reap the spoils of the loser. Military victories allow for the confiscation of foreign assets and/or forgiveness of prior debts. The realization of the futility of an internally generated solution leads to hope for and support of an externally war driven solution.

"The war solution, as seductive as it appears, has tremendous costs, which will be borne most fully by future generations... By now, the country's acute and growing debt build-up has led to a significant privatization of military and intelligence functions, well beyond any form of congressional oversight and, hence, impossible to control. It is also incredibly lucrative for the owners and operators of so-called private military companies—and the money to pay for their activities ultimately comes from taxpayers through government contracts. Any accounting of these funds, largely distributed to crony companies with insider connections, is chaotic at best. Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, estimates that there are 126,000 private military contractors in Iraq, more than enough to keep the war going, even if most official U.S. troops were withdrawn. "From the beginning," Scahill writes, "these contractors have been a major hidden story of the war,[1] almost uncovered in the mainstream media and absolutely central[2] to maintaining the U.S. occupation of Iraq." ... military spending today consumes 40 percent of every tax dollar. The Pentagon always tries to minimize the size of its budget by representing it as a declining percentage of the gross national product. What it never reveals is that total military spending is actually many times larger than the official appropriation for the Defense Department, due to "black budgets," increased outsourcing and the fact that many costs associated for the military are accounted for under "civilian" applications, such as health care costs for the soldiers..."

"...War is the natural outcome of the pursuit of renegade economics:[3] a "read my lips, no new taxes" fiscal policy entails the ongoing importation of capital. So the true costs of the country's increasingly militarized foreign policy is not simply the rapidly growing Pentagon budgets, but also the broader costs associated with the current account imbalance..."
---
[1] "Blackwater has been involved in 195 shootings since 2005, according to a congressional report that catalogued a long list of incidents involving the security firm."

[2] "Can’t Win With ‘Em, Can’t Go To War Without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency"

[3] "America's miserable performance in Iraq should not obscure the success of Washington's efforts to align the West against Tehran. France, under its new president, is only the latest to make clear that it will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, and even the ayatollahs are taking notice of the Western front united around the US. The chances of avoiding war with Iran are still slim, though."

posted by kliuless at 4:45 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks kliuless, interesting links.
posted by mek at 8:50 AM on October 3, 2007


no prob; here's a more succinct summation, fwiw :P
In the economic sphere, both nations are locked in a mutual death embrace otherwise known as Bretton Woods II. The US cannot indefinitely accumulate liabilities, and the Chinese PBoC cannot indefinitely stockpile US Treasury bonds without exploding inflationary asset bubbles.
cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:45 PM on October 3, 2007


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