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Secret moves against Iran
June 29, 2008 10:00 PM   Subscribe


 
Iran: The Threat
posted by homunculus at 10:02 PM on June 29, 2008


Now is this operation ELECT CRANKY OLD MAN or operation POOP IN YOUR PRESIDENCY?
posted by Artw at 10:06 PM on June 29, 2008


You've convinced me. I won't vote for Bush this November.
posted by Class Goat at 10:16 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dateline July 7, 2008... ?
posted by crapmatic at 10:28 PM on June 29, 2008


We've been supposedly about to invade Iran for, what, two or three years now?

Hersh in 2005
Hersh in 2006

Why am I reminded of this story?

Oh well. I suppose if Hersh's stories get people riled up and stop the administration from actually invading Iran, they're doing their job whether or not they're true.
posted by saslett at 10:29 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sabre rattles (that's the dateline of the print edition)
posted by hortense at 10:36 PM on June 29, 2008


Hersh really does seem to be a broken-record here, but throwing in Kristol's observation makes me nervous.
posted by namespan at 10:41 PM on June 29, 2008


We've been supposedly about to invade Iran for, what, two or three years now?

Two or three years isn't a significant length of time under the circumstances. Many prominent neocons are frothing at the mouth over this every week, and it's not over until the fat man (Cheney) is out of office. I've considered it pretty unlikely ever since that last NIE took the wind out of their sails, and if I had to bet I'd bet against it happening. But still, well, Thomas puts it nicely at the end of his article (the second link I posted):
The President's frustration is plainly evident: Saddam Hussein may be gone, but Iran remains defiant, and more powerful than ever. The President's male pride seems to have been aroused; he said he was going to solve the Iranian problem and he doesn't want to back down. The intensity of Bush's desire to crush this final opponent is evident in his words and his body language, but does he retain the power to carry out his threats?

From one point of view the answer seems obvious. It is too late. With the exception only of the neoconservative faithful, every close observer of the American–Iranian standoff says that the administration's threats are empty, that the United States does not have the military resources, or the political support at home, or the agreement of allies abroad, to carry out a full-scale air attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, much less to invade and occupy the country. Two of the skeptics, Gates and Mullen, are running the Pentagon, and their cautioning remarks, only a step this side of insubordination, would seem to make attack impossible. But if attack is impossible, why does Bush talk himself into an ever-tighter corner by continuing to issue threats? Does he believe Iran will cave? Are these the only words he thinks people will still listen to? Is he hoping to tie the hands of the next president? Or is he preparing to summon the power of his office to carry out the last option on the table? One hardly knows whether to take the question seriously. It seems alarmist and overexcited even to pose it when the realities are so clear. But it is impossible to be sure—Bush has a history.

In an article I wrote in these pages in March 2003, I took up a concern that has preoccupied me ever since—the danger that the war would spread to engulf the region. That article concludes:
But a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein won't by itself provide a "decision outcome" in the present case because there are two rogue states with programs to build nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The theory says that both have to go, and if President Bush can be taken at his word, he thinks the same thing. To me, the implication seems clear: Iraq first, Iran next.
We're not free of this danger yet.
posted by homunculus at 11:00 PM on June 29, 2008


Yeah, Hersh was going on about Abu Ghraib months before the story broke, too.

Look, did you ever think that maybe Hersh, a few other investigative journalists and a couple of very nervous generals in the Pentagon are the ones trying to stop this from happening? It's obvious that the Bush Administration is aching for a war in Iran. It's looking for a single, justifiable excuse. It has been for years. There's absolutely no doubt that there's been a half-dozen proposals to stir up trouble in Iran, from the ongoing accusations of nuclear weapons development to covert action to supplying sides in Iraq to false-flag operations, just as there was in Iraq before the invasion.

This is the pattern. And they've got away with it in the past. It is obvious that Bush himself is unmoored from reality - he professes that God works through him, compares himself to Churchill, and thinks Jeb Bush would be a fine President.

Hersh isn't crying wolf. He (and his sources in the Pentagon) are saying "the administration is floating that damn balloon again. And it's bullshit, just like last time. You had better listen."
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:03 PM on June 29, 2008 [26 favorites]


Why is there so much news about a SECRET plan? Seems fairly silly.
posted by phredgreen at 11:05 PM on June 29, 2008


Surely that should read:
Saddam Hussein is gone, and as a result Iran remains defiant, and more powerful than ever.
posted by Grangousier at 11:07 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hersh really does seem to be a broken-record here, but throwing in Kristol's observation makes me nervous.

That could just be to scare people into voting for McCain, by insinuating Obama is weak on "terrar". More neocon fear mongering, as usual.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on June 29, 2008


They should wait for the fall because it's, like, summer and summer should be about, like, having fun and stuff.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:12 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


From the article:


The Washington Post recently quoted Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s national-security director, as stating that McCain supports the White House’s position, and that the program be suspended before talks begin. What Obama is proposing, Scheunemann said, “is unilateral cowboy summitry.”


Why, that's just crazy talk. Imagine what evils could come from talking to people. Peace, a far more relaxed world and a lower oil price might break out. Doesn't he realize just how dangerous it would be?
posted by sien at 11:14 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Out of curiousity, what is the closest to their end of term that a US president has started a war?
posted by Artw at 11:15 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oops. ...Thomas Powers puts it nicely at the end of his article...

Sorry about the extra small formatting too. Gah.
posted by homunculus at 11:16 PM on June 29, 2008


The only summits cowboys have are in the Rockies.
posted by ...possums at 11:19 PM on June 29, 2008


Just so I understand, there are people in the US who want to go to war with Iran because of its nuclear enrichment program, their meddling in Iraq, and their sponorship of terrorist groups?

Is that it? Ok, got it. Sounds fair.
posted by wigglin at 11:35 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just so I understand, there are people in the US who want to go to war with Iran because of its nuclear enrichment program, their meddling in Iraq, and their sponorship {sic} of terrorist groups?

Is that it? Ok, got it. Sounds fair.


We do all those things in America, does that make us open to invasion?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:05 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


[CNN reports on it as well:]
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and “do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program,” Hersh said.
“They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program,” Hersh said.
And since evidence for the “stops its weapons program” option is rejected outright, that leaves….
posted by DreamerFi at 12:09 AM on June 30, 2008


Scary.

I think we can now update that Chinese curse from "may you live in interesting times" to "may you have fucking nutballs running the show"
posted by nudar at 12:10 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


MiltonRandKalman:

If you click through to the links I posted, you'll see the intended sarcasm.
posted by wigglin at 12:15 AM on June 30, 2008


Invading Iraq:Throwing rock at hornets nets::Invading Iran:Throwing rock at car full of Crips

Seriously, this is the US pretending that it has the money and ability to pull it off. I really doubt China is going to bankroll another US land grab when it's a country that is selling China lots of oil.
posted by mullingitover at 12:24 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]




Um, adamvasco, link's broken.
posted by mystyk at 12:53 AM on June 30, 2008


whoops... furthermore the odious Mr Bolton proposes military action and the Sunday Times states Iran ready to strike at Israel’s nuclear heart.
posted by adamvasco at 1:11 AM on June 30, 2008


Bush is walking a tightrope here.

If he attacks Iran before the election, he risks a loss for McCain, as alot of Americans would be extremely angry about being at war (a much bigger, longer war this time) with another Middle-Eastern country.

On the other hand, Bush has said -- repeatedly -- that he believes his Presidency has been ordained by God, (or, at least, by History or Fate, whatever) to forcibly bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East, and then to the entire world.

So now it's really a contest between trying to get McCain elected and Bush's legacy. He wants to be remembered as the President who destroyed the Axis of Evil -- and I'm not sure that McCain (a man whom Bush doesn't really like anyway) is even on Bush's radar.

Of course, the big question is how Congress would react to Bush asking for a .... uh ...., well, we don't call them "Declarations of War" anymore .... "Declaration of Open Hostility"? "Permission Granted To Authorize Use of Military Assets"? Whatever. One of those.

How would congress react? Well, if H.CON RES. 362 is passed, they may not need to react. That resolution, while being just one of those "Sense of Congress" resolutions, could potentially give the President legal justification and authority to order a naval blockade of Iranian ports -- something that the Iranians would assuredly (and rightly) perceive as an act of war.

If President Bush really did order the US Navy to block oil shipments from Iran, I estimate that we would be at war with them within a week. Bush will go to congress and ask for funds to "protect the lives of American sailors", and then its off from there. If I know one thing for sure, its that even a solidly Democratic congress doesn't have the guts to deny funding for even the most outrageous military blunders once Our Boys are in harms way.
posted by Avenger at 1:22 AM on June 30, 2008


The President's male pride seems to have been aroused

Easily the grossest thing I've read in months.
posted by trondant at 2:03 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


All right, so the theory is that if Bush commits to a war in Iran, that Obama - assuming he is elected - would be committed to continuing that war?

I don't know, I have a feeling that the person who would be damaged permanently in the worst way by such an action would be Bush himself.

I don't read many conservative blogs. What is the current fantasy regarding war with Iran? That we could be done with it in months? Or that it would serve the Democrats right for nominating somebody with a terrorist sounding name?
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:14 AM on June 30, 2008


Joey Michaels,

Yes.

Not only are both in the mix, but so much batshit-insanery that it makes all sensible people's heads spin in disbelief. It is a discredited movement, whose only remaining power comes from the other side's ineptness, and yet it is only mildly less difficult to eradicate than AIDS.

The ghoul known as Ann Coulter now only refers to Obama as "B. Hussein Obama." Fear, being played to the ignorant, and if people with her mindset aren't stopped then we'll be lucky if we're *only* brought back to the medieval period from a social and intellectual standpoint.
posted by mystyk at 2:53 AM on June 30, 2008


While it's recognized by most in the reality-based community that invading Iran would be a colossally bad idea, given that it would require a level of national mobilization that is probably impossible in the current American political climate, is there really that much doubt that Iran is actually doing what they're being accused of doing (i.e. supplying arms or covert military support to anti-American insurgents)?

No, we shouldn't be in Iraq to begin with, but if Iran is indeed responsible for killing American personnel--though I have little doubt that we're doing the same to them in a low-intensity fashion--that's a pretty cut-and-dried casus belli. (Come to think of it, we started the War of 1812 because of something like this.)
posted by Makoto at 3:05 AM on June 30, 2008


Wouldn't war with Iran would pretty much fuck the world completely?

I'm thinking $250+/bbl oil fucked.
posted by Talez at 3:13 AM on June 30, 2008


that Obama - assuming he is elected - would be committed to continuing that war?

LBJ knew that Vietnam was a disaster, he knew that it would leave him forever stained in the eyes of many Americans, especially his own party's supporters. He knew. I'm sure if you'd given him the time machine to stop Eisenhower not support the French and to prevent JFK escalating US commitment, he'd jump at it.

But once the US was at war, he simply couldn't pull out - not without handing his opponents the tools to destory the thing he really cared about, the Great Society domestic politics.

Once a war is underway, the nationalism, the jingoism takes over. Quitting... well, quitting just isn't an option. Certainly not if you're a member of the party always painted as being "soft on the nation's enemies."
posted by rodgerd at 3:24 AM on June 30, 2008


All right, so the theory is that if Bush commits to a war in Iran, that Obama - assuming he is elected - would be committed to continuing that war?

Well, watch Obama get into office and continue (at least for some years and probably at a reduced intensity) the Iraq War, which is what I believe will happen. It'll just be called anti-terrorist operations or something rather than The War.

Also I see the possibility that if there's an Iran war it will be started by Israel. Then, of course, America has to join in because it would be downright unpatriotic for us to be anything but Israel's mixed sugardaddy/bitch.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:41 AM on June 30, 2008


Once a war is underway, the nationalism, the jingoism takes over.

Certainly the Bush and Olmert Administrations have given Iran every excuse to launch their own pre-emptive war. The myth of the military superpower has been broken by Hezbollah in Lebanon and by pretty much everyone in Iraq.

The Iranians could sink half the US fleet in the Persian Gulf anytime they decide to. There is no defense against Russian, Chinese, and Iranian manufactured Sunburst and Sunburn missiles. Iran is reported to have hundreds or thousands of these weapons.

There isn't an Israeli town that can't be reached by Iranian missiles. They need not be nuclear tipped to cause complete chaos and panic.

Bombing Tehran in retaliation might make Bush and Olmert feel good, but unless one or the other or both is prepared to launch a full-scale invasion, there's really not much they can do. Knock out a few sites and they will be rebuilt within a year. Regime change and occupation of Iran seem like iimplausible objectives.
posted by three blind mice at 3:48 AM on June 30, 2008


Paul Rogers at openDemocracy's take: Washington's choice: subdue Iran, secure Iraq
posted by Abiezer at 4:13 AM on June 30, 2008


On the other hand, this may all be a feint, Hersh not know, for this reason:

https://www.stratfor.com/campaign/war_iran_coming_1
posted by Postroad at 4:27 AM on June 30, 2008


> LBJ knew that Vietnam was a disaster, he knew that it would leave him forever stained in
> the eyes of many Americans, especially his own party's supporters. He knew. I'm sure if
> you'd given him the time machine to stop Eisenhower not support the French and to prevent
> JFK escalating US commitment, he'd jump at it.
>
> But once the US was at war, he simply couldn't pull out

Dead on choice of words there, rogerd. During a private conversation with some reporters who pressed him to explain why we were in Vietnam, Johnson lost his patience. According to [Supreme Court justice] Arthur Goldberg, LBJ unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ and declared, ‘This is why!’ citation

Bush has manhood issues, forsooth...
posted by jfuller at 4:43 AM on June 30, 2008


do you seriously expect that they'd sit on their asses and simply watch the Democrats take the White House? seriously? McCain may be more senile than Dole, but this is not 1996, the Republicans will go down fighting because they've given a trillion-dollar gift to their corporate masters and they'd hate it for the money to dry up. if Bush attacks Iran, the whole country, and the "liberal media", will immediately revert to the 2002-2003 "we're at war" mode, where there is no question asked, it'll be "U-S-A! U-S-A!" 24/7.

it's a big mistake to think that Obama is ahead and Bush is so unpopular because Americans really don't like war; what they don't like is to lose, like they're losing in Iraq, it's different. had the war been less expensive, had less soldiers died or been torn to pieces and shipped back home severely handicapped for life, if gas were as cheap as it used to be, nobody would give a shit about the illegality of having invaded Iraq, McCain would sail in, and this November you'd see something similar to the 2002 midterm election. it's a very practical people, not a pacifist one. really, please don't think that America as a whole -- ie, not your average MeFi user -- is made up of pacifists who'd totally hate, on general principle, to see some Muslims get bombed, because this is not the case.

Suppose Bush bombs Iran this September, who's going to argue in the media the case not to bomb Ahmadinejad, Barack Hussein Obama, half Kenyan and technically born a Muslim (Islam, unlike Judaism, is patrilineal), an atheist until he became friends with the "God Damn America" pastor? Seriously? He'll get branded as a pro-Iran traitor, the Manchurian Candidate, and in the polls he'd find himself at 30%, or less. I mean, look at the SCOTUS thing on the death penalty for child rapists -- Obama is not stupid, when it comes to looking weak on crime or on terrorism, he knows he carries his background, and, frankly, the color of skin as an albatross around his neck. I'm sure Obama, a very smart man, remembers very well 1988 and the little Greek guy who was in favor of black prisoners raping white women, right? you don't want Ahmadinejad to be Obama's Willie Horton.
posted by matteo at 4:44 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


this thread is so depressing.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 5:13 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Everybody now say "Iranian uranium, Iranian uranium, Iranian uranium" three times faster...
posted by tapeguy at 5:16 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


matteo : If Iran has Sunburn missiles ready, then the U.S. would lose it's naval forces quickly. Such a quick lose by Bush might hurt McCain badly, not by lack of jingoism, but by perception of incompetence. An attack seems plausible if the naval forces are pulled out.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:28 AM on June 30, 2008


The ascendancy of Iran is the clearest indicator that our 'mission' in Iraq was a complete failure. We weakened a country that had no WMDs, at huge expense, while the more dangerous country who is actively pursuing nuclear weapons has been left alone to grow stronger, now that they have no capable enemy next door draining their resources and keeping their attention.

The longer we are mired in Iraq, the weaker we will become, and the stronger Iran will become. We're already as dangerously weak as Iran has become dangerously strong. Staying in Iraq is probably the most severe threat to our national security that we face.
posted by jamstigator at 5:39 AM on June 30, 2008


Barack Obama was no more born a Muslim than I was born a Christian. While islamic society follows a primarily patrilineal form, only some muslims claim the same transition without the individual in question making a public declaration of faith. Hell, the U.S. was patrilineal for a good chunck of its history, but if the church felt that way about the spiritual bond then there would be no calls for baptism. Plus, only the Orthodox jewish groups follow strict matrilineal rules with any regularity any more.

Also: About his supposedly muslim background...

And what does his middle name matter? Is there some other Barack Obama we might be talking about? Methinks the current neocon push to use "Hussein" at any opportunity has ensnared you.
posted by mystyk at 5:42 AM on June 30, 2008


Look, this is between Iran and the US, the rest of us have nothing to do with it OK.

Now take your bullshit voodoo and fuck off to Mars and sort it out. I've got a family to raise.
posted by mattoxic at 5:43 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Barack Obama is going to be president-elect of a wasteland populated by mutants.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:07 AM on June 30, 2008


Makoto: "is there really that much doubt that Iran is actually doing what they're being accused of doing (i.e. supplying arms or covert military support to anti-American insurgents)?

No, we shouldn't be in Iraq to begin with, but if Iran is indeed responsible for killing American personnel--though I have little doubt that we're doing the same to them in a low-intensity fashion--that's a pretty cut-and-dried casus belli. (Come to think of it, we started the War of 1812 because of something like this.)
"

The US is supporting violent radicals inside Iran with weapons and intelligence. It goes both ways. Also the US went over there and put itself in harms way, they didn't come to the US, imagine Iranian attack boats cruising off the coast of the US.
posted by stbalbach at 6:11 AM on June 30, 2008


if Iran is indeed responsible for killing American personnel--though I have little doubt that we're doing the same to them in a low-intensity fashion--that's a pretty cut-and-dried casus belli

When are we invading Saudi Arabia? It's the largest source of foreign fighters. In December 2006 the AP reported that, "private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles" (emphasis added). At least eight US helicopters were shot down in Iraq in January/February 2007.

The intensity of Bush's desire to crush this final opponent is evident

How about crushing some of the opponents he's already got before looking for new ones? The anthrax terrorists and Osama bin Laden are still on the loose, New Orleans still hasn't recovered from Katrina, and time's running out on his Road Map to Peace.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 AM on June 30, 2008


The ascendancy of Iran is the clearest indicator that our 'mission' in Iraq was a complete failure.

A complete failure? The US has "surged" up to 160k uniformed soldiers, has thousands of air assets flying from nice new runways, and a civilian army of "contractors" in Iraq within close striking proximity to Iran.

The Iraq mission may have failed, but the Iran mission shows all green lights.
posted by three blind mice at 6:49 AM on June 30, 2008


Hersh really does seem to be a broken-record here, but throwing in Kristol's observation makes me nervous.

I'm under the impression that everything Kristol has ever claimed has ended up being false or not coming to pass. The man has the uncanny ability to be perfectly wrong all the time.

There are many far more intelligent and thoughtful people who are making observations that should make you nervous.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 AM on June 30, 2008


three blind mice: The US has "surged" up to 160k uniformed soldiers,

In the political, economic and military chaos following the revolution, Iran committed a quarter-million to a single battle. That was 25 years ago.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:20 AM on June 30, 2008


With all due respect, MeFi doesn't have the best track record on predicting impending war with Iran.
October 8, 2006: Bombing Iran- Rove's Plan to Wag the Elephant.

July 26, 2006: US plotted to invade Iran: explosive report, Rolling Stone adds new fuel to fire over possible Iran strike.

July 2, 2006: The Last Stand. See also Iran: war by October? See also The countdown to war. See also Iran: Consequences Of A War

April 8, 2006: The Iran Plans by Seymour Hersh.

February 12, 2006: It's on. Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites

December 31, 2005: Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against Iran. Al Jazerra says the war has already begun.

April 2, 2005: Interview with Scott Ritter on Iran June Invasion

February 25, 2005: Iran gets bombed June 2005. "George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons"
Since that post, we also have these:
October 25, 2007: Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran

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

September 2, 2007: Considering a war with Iran
Hersh is at risk of becoming the boy who cried wolf. I'm not saying it is or isn't going to happen (let's be honest and admit that nobody posting on MetaFilter knows for sure). I'm just saying the combination of past predictions not proving true, the current overstretched military, and the extremely short time before the end of this administration do not suggest that an attack on Iran is likely.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uninformed Chatter: Left wing conspiracy theorists and Taliban apologists step up the paranoia ... again. There is no such thing as crying wolf on the internet, is there?
posted by alexwoods at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2008


We do all those things in America, does that make us open to invasion?

I think what makes America open to invasion is that it appears to be set to initiate World War III. If you citizens can't rein in some control, you'll force some other nation to do it for you. That other nation is very likely to be China.

That should scare the living shit out of you.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:31 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Want to hear something funny? I recently saw the movie "Three Days of the Condor", from 1975. The movie was dull, but at the end the "bad guy" CIA officer reveals that the clandestine plot based out of the middle east, the netherlands, and venezuela was all about seizing oil assets. Everything you read and hear is just "stories".

And here we are. While the movie was crap, it painted a very interesting what-if scenario. What if everything in the last 30 years not directly about the Soviets was actually about oil? That would suggest that certain outcomes are inevitable--like the invasion of Iraq and a possible invasion of Iran, as well as sky high oil prices.

The thing with Bush is that he's very aware of his father's legacy, and if you recall, his father took the U.S. into Somalia right before the election, leaving a giant foreign policy mess for Clinton to deal with. So it is very possible that Bush would test Obama's loyalty to the oil cause by involving the country in a war at the outset of his term.

I say "loyalty to the oil cause" because the Democrats in Congress are complicit. The article opens with "Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran." Why would they do this? Weren't they elected precisely to stop this sort of thing? What do they know that everyone else doesn't, and why won't they tell us? Why does everyone regardless of party drink the kool-aid the moment they get to Washington?

I have to wonder if what is going on is historic on a multi-century scale. Rising oil prices amount to a massive redistribution of wealth from the people back into the hands of the ruling class. Maybe the Cold Ward was really about this. As long as there was a competitive ideology out there that suggested everyone could be equal in outcome (even if it failed in practice--a failure that wasn't fully appreciated in the West until after the fall) the dominant ideology couldn't run wild. It had to build in safety nets and welfare systems to prevent people from getting so desperate that they ask the other ideology for help. But once communism fell, there was not competing ideology. Capitalism rules. (By the way, capitalism is not the same thing as a free market).

So the moment communism fell, the U.S. immediately dismantled its welfare system. Europe is taking longer to move in that direction only because the welfare systems are so entrenched, but don't be surprised is "Muslim overpopulation" is the excuse to diassemble the system.

In other words, if over the last two centuries the trend was towards greater democratization of assets and power through technology, education, and everything else, that trend is now reversing. The peasants who were once between two warring castles now serve only one, and that king gets to confiscate assets as much as he wants and there's no one to complain to.

The people have had too much ability to resist the control from above , so the people need to be impoverished a bit.

This doesn't mean that nations will be impoverished, because that will lead to the opposite result--revolution--than is desired. As long as everyone within those nations is struggling, the system is safe.

So, yeah, we're probably going to war in Iran. If not this year, then next or the year after that. They waited 13 years to go back and topple Saddam, they can even wait out an Obama presidential term if need be. But the war is probably inevitable. Israel wants it, the Saudis want it. The oil companies want it. Who are we to refuse it?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:31 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Lets see.

We start a shooting war, which threatens the flow of oil. Worse, it threatens the flow of oil to China. Who makes pointed observations about who own who's debt, thus, who *really* controls the value of who's currency. Cheney, being Cheney, tells China to go fuck themselves. China unties the Renmbi, and dumps their treasury holdings. The Chinese economy goes into a deep depression.

They're the lucky ones. The US dollar hyperinflates, making oil all but unbuyable. The flow of cheap Chinese goods stops. The US economy collapses. The world enters a depression.

Three years pass. Eveyone with an economy is starting to recover. The US, as we know it, is gone. It's probably a few balkanized states, with tense but calm relations. If we're lucky.

But Cheney, an oilman, is rich.

So, it's all good, right?

As to Hersh. I give him lots of credit, because he has spoken truth to power multiple times. But this is the umpteenth time he's yelled about this. The real question -- is it because every time he's yelled, they've backed off, or is he crying wolf.

Finally -- I do not trust a lame duck Bush to behave responsibly. He's going to be desperate to do something to make his "legacy" and if he think the only way to do that is to bomb Iran, he will bomb Iran.
posted by eriko at 7:54 AM on June 30, 2008


I don't think Israel is crazy enough to desire an open state of war with an enemy that outnumbers it 8/1.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:05 AM on June 30, 2008


I don't think Israel is crazy enough to desire an open state of war with an enemy that outnumbers it 8/1.

Because, what, Iranians by the hundreds of thousands will march through Iraq and Turkey to get at Israel? Will they parachute in? Egypt outnumbered Israel 10-1 and shared a border. Ask them how their wars ended up.

If Israel blows up the Iranian nuclear facilities there will be much hand-wringing and cluck-clucking of tongues, but nobody - *nobody* - wants Iran to have nuclear weapons, and nobody cares about the fate of the Iranian regime, not the Arab league, not other Muslim nations, not even its own people, who are sick and tired of the vice squad locking them up for holding hands and getting haircuts. If, by some miracle, the clowns in charge were to be kicked out and replaced by a rational government oil exports would improve dramatically (to pre-revolution levels), Iran would stop having to import gasoline, and new fields could be developed. If anything China should be all over Iranian "regime change" and be pleased if the US and Israel do the heavy lifting.

If there is a strike against Iran, the calculus will be simple - Khamenei will have a choice. Leave it at that and keep lording over his minions, or see his power structure destroyed and get strung up like Hussein. For all the bluster that will no doubt follow (as was the case in 1981 with Osirak), nothing will happen. The UN will condemn Israel, the US will veto any nonsense from the Russians or Chinese, and the world will tick along as it always has. Unless of course, Iran's magic sunbeam missiles take out the entire US navy in one fell swoop.
posted by loquax at 8:26 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


If we end up at war with Iran it won't be by initiating hostilities with Iran. That's politically impossible. We would lose all of our allies in the Middle East, with one exception, and probably destroy NATO.

I think the plan (or a plan) is for to Israel attack Iran, and for the US to declare war against Iran in defense of Israel when Iran responds.

Which is why I choked on my coffee when I heard about Israel's rather abrupt and unanticipated truce with Hamas on June 19th.

Hezbollah is Iran's client, and Israel will instantly be at war with them if it attacks Iran, so a truce with Hamas is highly desirable if you plan to attack Iran.
posted by jamjam at 8:37 AM on June 30, 2008


I don't know, I have a feeling that the person who would be damaged permanently in the worst way by such an action would be Bush himself.

Well, him and the dudes that come back from the front with their skin burned off, limbs blow off, brains vibrated into mush, etc… etc…
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I suspect there would be, or would have been, an attack on Iran, but for Hersh's continual bell-ringing about the matter...

The story about the impending story prevents the events of the story.

Basically, it's the Observer Effect in action.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:42 AM on June 30, 2008


Because, what, Iranians by the hundreds of thousands will march through Iraq and Turkey to get at Israel? Will they parachute in? Egypt outnumbered Israel 10-1 and shared a border. Ask them how their wars ended up.

Certainly. And Israel had the good sense to stop short of marching on towards the Nile.

But the same thing can be said about Israel. There is nothing that it can really do about Iran other than lob some missiles. Or perhaps hope that if it ever does become a matter of an all-out firefight, that the U.S. magically creates another quarter-million expeditionary force out of thin air. But I really doubt that Israel is stupid enough to commit to much more than limited tactical airstrikes given its problems at home.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:42 AM on June 30, 2008


When is he gonna have time to take care of N. Korea before he leaves?
posted by spicynuts at 8:46 AM on June 30, 2008


But I really doubt that Israel is stupid enough to commit to much more than limited tactical airstrikes given its problems at home.

Well that's all that serious people are talking about. Lobbing a few missiles and blowing the crap out of Natanz (I can't even parse what Hersh is blathering on about this time). Israel isn't invading anything, neither is the US, despite the paranoid fantasies of some. Iran, when push comes to shove, will do nothing, and will have no leverage. They'll huff and puff about nonsense, NATO, US allies and Iran's neighbours will breathe a sigh of relief and praise Allah for Israel's air force saving their skins twice in 30 years, and then business as usual. If the grand exhaulted ones running the show in Iran decide they want to commit suicide, they can, but they haven't done so for the last 30-odd years and I can't see them doing it now, regardless of what happens to happens to their silly reactors.
posted by loquax at 8:58 AM on June 30, 2008




When is he gonna have time to take care of N. Korea before he leaves?

Rather quietly, North Korea has been removed from the US list of states that sponsor terrorism last week.
posted by Drastic at 9:01 AM on June 30, 2008




Given that Bush's saber rattling has led to invasion and occupation of two different countries so far, it is quite reasonable to question how far the Iran thing will go.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:12 AM on June 30, 2008


Given that Bush's saber rattling has led to invasion and occupation of two different countries so far, it is quite reasonable to question how far the Iran thing will go.

Very reasonable. So what's more likely? A few bombs dropped on Natanz and some republican guard barracks, or a solo US sneak invasion and occupation of a country 3x and a population 4x the size of Iraq? Is it even worth talking about that scenario until there's any evidence whatsoever that such a thing is feasible, let alone desirable (Hersh's "sources" don't count)? Crazy old Bush and fat old Cheney *could* also decide to cut to the chase, lob a few nukes over and blow up Tehran. Doesn't mean it's worth wasting much breath talking about the possibility.
posted by loquax at 9:29 AM on June 30, 2008


Loquax--even a limited air campaign against Iranian military targets would be seen by Iran and much of the middle east as a declaration of war by the US upon the Muslim world: not an especially helpful state of affairs in an already unstable region. Taking on Iran right now would shake the proverbial hornet's nest, piss off China and Russia, and almost certainly increase the price of oil . It's nothing to be blasé about.
posted by ornate insect at 9:45 AM on June 30, 2008


Loquax--even a limited air campaign against Iranian military targets would be seen by Iran and much of the middle east as a declaration of war by the US upon the Muslim world.

Says who? You? You're telling me that the Saudis would have a problem with it? You think Pakistan wants a nuclear Iran? Egypt? You think a nuclear Iran is "helpful" in "an already unstable region", or would somehow lower the price of oil?
posted by loquax at 9:50 AM on June 30, 2008


I'm under the impression that everything Kristol has ever claimed has ended up being false or not coming to pass. The man has the uncanny ability to be perfectly wrong all the time.

Oh, I agree, but the man still makes me nervous. It makes me nervous that the media still talks to him for any reason. And with all the implausible things the administration has done, still talking to Kristol seems to be within the realm of possibility.
posted by namespan at 9:55 AM on June 30, 2008


loquax writes "Says who? You? You're telling me that the Saudis would have a problem with it? You think Pakistan wants a nuclear Iran? Egypt? You think a nuclear Iran is 'helpful' in 'an already unstable region', or would somehow lower the price of oil?"

Sure, it would be helpful if everyone were using nuclear power because it would lower demand for petroleum-based power. Oh did you mean nuclear weapons? Is there any evidence of that other than the fervent hopes and prayers of chickenhawk neocons? The IAEA and the NIE both say no...
posted by mullingitover at 9:58 AM on June 30, 2008






US says it won't allow Iran to shut key Gulf oil route
And how will they achieve this. I call bullshit. One tanker fireballs into the sky and the rest will stay at anchor or tied up. No owner will take the risk of moving their ships out of / into the Gulf as they will not then be covered by their insurane. War Risk
posted by adamvasco at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2008


Is there any evidence of that other than the fervent hopes and prayers of chickenhawk neocons? The IAEA and the NIE both say no...

Report Raises New Doubts on Iran Nuclear Program

For a country that's only developing peaceful nuclear energy, they're being quite secretive and obnoxious - according to the IAEA, Iran is non-compliant with inspections, and it cannot conclusively say that Iran does not have a weapons program. Iran is in violation of UN resolutions, continues to enrich uranium, ignores international pressure to disclose its activities, and is a belligerent in the region with a totalitarian, unaccountable, unrepresentative, religious fundamentalist government. I see no problem in unilaterally terminating their nuclear power experiment before they prove it by rolling nukes around in parades. And if you really, truly believe that Iran is spending billions of dollars that it can ill afford on a peaceful nuclear energy program when it is sitting on top of the 2nd largest oil deposits in the world while antagonizing a sworn enemy that is now on its doorstep, well, what can I say. I can't quite bring myself to make that leap of faith.

One tanker fireballs into the sky and the rest will stay at anchor or tied up. No owner will take the risk of moving their ships out of / into the Gulf as they will not then be covered by their insurane.

Unless the US military is totally incompetent, Iran's ability to deliver any kind of payload anywhere near the Straight will be eliminated before they get a chance to get a shot off, if it comes to that, which I doubt it will. The US isn't stupid and neither is Iran. Blowing up a tanker would make all of Southern Iran a no-fly zone. Not to mention that if Iran can't export oil, their government is toast before Americans feel the slightest pinch at the pumps. There's nothing else. Almost 90% of exports, and ~70% of government revenue. Like I said, they could have committed suicide long ago, what makes you think they'll do it now?
posted by loquax at 10:45 AM on June 30, 2008


Unless the US military is totally incompetent

Incompetant, compromised, overextended, and fighting a war for all the wrong reasons.
posted by ornate insect at 10:55 AM on June 30, 2008


The real question -- is it because every time he's yelled, they've backed off, or is he crying wolf.

Who the hell cares if Hersh is crying wolf? The answer is good, either way: We're not in another war we will never win.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 AM on June 30, 2008


Incompetant, compromised, overextended, and fighting a war for all the wrong reasons.

Which is why we shouldn't be worrying about them invading/conquering/occupying Iran as opposed to air strikes.
posted by loquax at 11:18 AM on June 30, 2008


loquax--sometimes a military tactician, eager to save face when stuck in military fiasco/disaster/quagmire (no other description of our current occupation of Iraq makes sense), compounds, potentially, his or her prior mistakes, by wanting to extend the theater of war.

It's the familiar analogy of a gambler on a losing streak. Kissinger wanting to bomb Cambodia back to the Stone Age during Vietnam is an example of ideological desperation. Your argument, as I understand it, seems to rest on the conviction that the oft-touted but rarely witnessed cleanliness of "surgical" strikes will not result in any undesired consequences (political, military, diplomatic, economic, geo-strategic), blowback or collateral damage.

Thus your sunny assertion that "If there is a strike against Iran, the calculus will be simple," rests on a static view of history: one in which "the world will tick along as it always has," and that the dynamics of the mideast are unchanged since 1981. This seems like an extremely tenuous argument at best, and an outright AEI fantasy-scenario at worst. We have long since outworn our welcome in Iraq, and the rose petals were not forthcoming. Attacking Iraq's neighbor now would be the height of irresponsible stupidity.
posted by ornate insect at 11:54 AM on June 30, 2008


Come to think of it, we started the War of 1812 because of something like this.

And who wouldn't want to repeat that one?
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2008


Your argument, as I understand it, seems to rest on the conviction that the oft-touted but rarely witnessed cleanliness of "surgical" strikes will not result in any undesired consequences (political, military, diplomatic, economic, geo-strategic), blowback or collateral damage.

On a related note, I'm sure the strikes on those alleged nuclear sites in Syria will come up at some point in this conversation as providing some additional support for the pro-surgical strikes argument.

But as I recall, those "strikes" came not long after news broke of an additional round of covert operations and black ops being underway in the administration's ongoing campaign against Iran, and the circumstances surrounding the incident were highly questionable, leading many observers to speculate that the entire exercise amounted to nothing more than a proactive psy-ops exercise meant to bolster the eventual case for similar strikes against Iran.

No definitive evidence has yet been supplied to corroborate the official accounts of those strikes against Syria.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2008




Unless the US military is totally incompetent

Incompetant, compromised, overextended, and fighting a war for all the wrong reasons.
posted by ornate insect at 12:55 PM on June 30 [+] [!]
Eponysterical!

posted by jtron at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2008


yes I saw that typo after I typed it.
posted by ornate insect at 12:34 PM on June 30, 2008


loquax--sometimes a military tactician, eager to save face when stuck in military fiasco/disaster/quagmire (no other description of our current occupation of Iraq makes sense), compounds, potentially, his or her prior mistakes, by wanting to extend the theater of war.

No doubt this has been true on occasion. That does mean this would be the case here.

Your argument, as I understand it, seems to rest on the conviction that the oft-touted but rarely witnessed cleanliness of "surgical" strikes will not result in any undesired consequences (political, military, diplomatic, economic, geo-strategic), blowback or collateral damage.

No, I believe, based on my understanding of the situation, that the consequences of specifically targeting Iran's nuclear program will be manageable and that eliminating or severely disrupting that program is worth the calculated risk.

Thus your sunny assertion that "If there is a strike against Iran, the calculus will be simple," rests on a static view of history: one in which "the world will tick along as it always has," and that the dynamics of the mideast are unchanged since 1981. This seems like an extremely tenuous argument at best, and an outright AEI fantasy-scenario at worst.


Why is it tenuous? How have the dynamics of the region changed since 1981? Maybe I was being slightly glib, it's obviously not "simple", but realistically, what would be the horrific consequences of such an attack? Iran has no friends of consequence in the international community or in the Muslim world, it depends on being able to export oil and gas, its government arguably has a tenuous grasp on power, escalation into a war with the US would almost certainly be to the severe disadvantage of Iran's rulers. If the argument is that there are millions of terrorists in waiting chomping at the bit to blow themselves up if this happens, well, I somehow doubt that after everything that's happened, this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

We have long since outworn our welcome in Iraq, and the rose petals were not forthcoming. Attacking Iraq's neighbor now would be the height of irresponsible stupidity.

What does Iraq have to do with Iran's nuclear program? I'm not talking about invading Iran, which would, I agree, be lunacy at this point. I don't think anybody is. No rose petals are required. I'd guess that Iraq would likely be quite pleased if Iran wasn't able to dangle nukes over its head in future Shatt-al-Arab negotiations, but I'd love to hear why you think it would be irresponsible to ensure conclusively that Khamenei and friends don't get their hands on nuclear weapons.
posted by loquax at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


eliminating or severely disrupting that program is worth the calculated risk

wrong. it's not worth it. and it really has nothing to do with it anyway. it's just a bullshit ad hoc justification hatched by a group of cynical and calculating political sociopaths who've been plotting against iran by various means and with various shifting justifications for the better part of two decades now. why? because there's oil at stake. precious, precious oil.

and give me a break with this iran threatening to destroy israel nonsense. there's no serious threat to israel's survival in the region--as evidenced perhaps best by the fact that even the expansion of israeli settlements to this day continues more or less unchecked--hell, they're running the show in their neck of the woods more or less unopposed and even another nuclear power emerging in the region isn't going to change that.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2008


loquax writes "Iran has no friends of consequence in the international community or in the Muslim world, it depends on being able to export oil and gas, its government arguably has a tenuous grasp on power, escalation into a war with the US would almost certainly be to the severe disadvantage of Iran's rulers."

China = no consequence. Okay...

War with the US would ensure that no government reforms would happen anytime soon, so like the US, war would benefit Iran's entrenched rulers. Iraq and Iran are now basically allies, given that they're both mostly Shia muslim, and the US is pretty much cock-blocking them at this point. By destroying Iraq's secular power structure, the US has done more than Iran ever could to ensure that Iraq will end up as an Islamic theocracy. It's hard to picture a situation where an attack on Iran wouldn't lead to a Shia uprising in Iraq, and it's hard to see why Iraq would be concerned with a nuclear-armed Iran. If anything, Iran with nukes brings the middle east to a proper mutually assured destruction situation, whereas right now there's only one theocracy in the middle east with nukes. Iran with nukes forces Israel to the negotiating table to talk disarmament, which is what everyone should want in the first place. Right now Israel isn't even willing to admit they have nukes, which makes it difficult to get them to disarm.
posted by mullingitover at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2008


China = no consequence. Okay...

So what would China do if the US took out Natanz? No fantasies about stopping exports to the US or dumping the dollar please. I'd love to hear it. Bomb Nantucket as a warning? Invade Taiwan for sport? All jump up and down at the same time to cause earthquakes 'round the world?

War with the US would ensure that no government reforms would happen anytime soon, so like the US, war would benefit Iran's entrenched rulers.


There would be no war, unless Iran's rulers were suicidal and felt like having US/Israeli bombing runs expanded from their nuclear facilities to government offices, all military installations and Ayatollah residences. Explain to me the sequence of events that gets us from the reactors blowing up to "war". No fantasies about Iran attacking US positions in Iraq, magic russian supermissiles or exploding oil tankers please.

It's hard to picture a situation where an attack on Iran wouldn't lead to a Shia uprising in Iraq

Really? Based on what exactly?

If anything, Iran with nukes brings the middle east to a proper mutually assured destruction situation, whereas right now there's only one theocracy in the middle east with nukes.

Ah ha!! It's unfair that Israel has them and Iran doesn't. Look, if you support Iran having nuclear weapons just say so from the beginning! You don't have to have a whole preamble about how you think it would be bad for the US to stop them, you can just say it would be bad for Iran if they were stopped.

Iran with nukes forces Israel to the negotiating table to talk disarmament, which is what everyone should want in the first place. Right now Israel isn't even willing to admit they have nukes, which makes it difficult to get them to disarm.

Speak for yourself. Look, there are some realities in this world that can't be sesame-streeted away. The sky is blue, ice is cold, grass is green, and Israel will never, ever "disarm". Let's start from there and talk about about resolutions to this issue instead of dreaming of alternate realities.
posted by loquax at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2008


Lot's of goofy nonsense flying from both sides in this thread.

A). The (Moskit N-22) Sunburn Missie. Is totally unproven. Name the last time a sunburn sunk a US sized carrier? Or ANY carrier? It is active-radar guided. Which means if we knock out radar installations (except for the aircraft launched variant) it won't hit shit. Sure it's a dangerous and a serious strategic consideration but it's not going to decimate the US Navy.

B). Iran would not stand a chance against a full on US air campaign. We have carriers AND air bases all over the region in easy striking distance. We also have cruise missile equipped submarines. Iranian infrastructure would be crushed in a scant few days.

C.) We would be insane to "invade" or attempt occupation of Iran. In this scenario clearly the Iranians would prevail as we are out totally numbered and would face the combat intensity of Fallujah X 1 million every day. If we were so stupid to attempt occupation we would lose badly. Enough that I'm sure it would be a nail in our Imperial coffin.

The idea of Iran deliberately provoking a military strike by the US as a prelude to killing our navy and shutting down the Straights is crazy. We would surely use such a confrontation to annihilate the Iranian cities. This is WHY Iran wants nukes. Nukes are not a Nation State's sneak attack weapon. They are too fucking expensive for that shit. They are a stand off weapon. The threat of which would be great for keeping carrier task forces at bay. And conversely why WE (the Bush Administration) don't want them to have them because then the one Big Stick we can use to intimidate the Iranians will be gone.

If Bush plans to "invade" Iran he has gone completely bat-shit Bond Supervillian insane. He plans to do a limited Air Strike and the Iranians are dumb enough to respond with Moskit Missiles at our carriers and they sink one Bush will gladly use that as an excuse to level Iran.

The Iranians are playing a stalling game. They will goad Bush and then retreat. If attacked directly they will unleash holy hell in Iraq and then Bush or who ever the next president is, will be forced to back down. If they are dumb enough to engage us in symmetrical direct war, Sunburn or no, they will get crushed. And if we then invade WE will get crushed.

The entire idea is a no win for anybody. Except the Saudis.
posted by tkchrist at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2008


loquax: It's not clear to me that Iran causes any greater long-term security threat to the US and its interests than Israel does, and I'm not trying to be overly clever here.

What's changed since 1981, since you asked, is that: the US is currently occupying both Iraq and Afghanistan, is at its lowest point in global goodwill and diplomatic standing arguably in history, is economically in really bad shape, is woefully dependent on foreign oil, and is having its foreign affairs held hostage by duplicitous, war profiteering neocon hawks who through imperial hubris are willfully oblivious to the very real lessons of history (re: the fall of the USSR and the British Empire).

some realities in this world that can't be sesame-streeted away

Might those realities include the fact that the US is currently in a strained position of weakness thanks to the current administration, and that to continue their PNAC agenda now is beyond insane?
posted by ornate insect at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2008




loquax writes "So what would China do if the US took out Natanz?"

We seem to be begging the question that an air strike can "take out" Natanz. Do you think Iran would be surprised by an attack on their facilities? Do you not think they might've accounted for this possibility? It's entirely likely that they're so far underground that nothing short of a tactical nuke would have a chance of doing any damage, and even nukes might not hit it. You mentioned not thinking that Iran was stupid, so I don't understand why you're ignoring this.

loquax writes "Ah ha!! It's unfair that Israel has them and Iran doesn't. Look, if you support Iran having nuclear weapons just say so from the beginning!"

Well, one militant theocracy with nuclear weapons deserves another :P

Personally I'd prefer that no theocracies were allowed to have anything beyond bronze-age weapons (that way the weapons match the level of cultural development) but if we're going to let theocracies have nukes, let's be consistent. I really don't care either way if Iran gets nukes. I won't feel endangered if it happens, and really Israel won't be in any danger either. Iran could already flatten Israel with conventional weapons, and surprise, that hasn't happened. Nukes aren't going to change the equation in the middle east, given that Israel would still have full second-strike abilities thanks to its submarine fleet. Iran would really have no new tactical advantage if they suddenly unveiled their 'fist of allah' warhead tomorrow, and plus they'd be saddled with the multi-billion dollar expense of maintaining and defending that arsenal.
posted by mullingitover at 1:51 PM on June 30, 2008


tkchrist, I agree completely with what you said, and that's what I've been trying to say in this thread. Not sure what you think of the US attacking Natanz, but if they do, there is nothing Iran can do about it short of suicide. And it would be lunacy for the US to invade Iran.

What's changed since 1981, since you asked, is that: the US is currently occupying both Iraq and Afghanistan

Increasing the leverage the US has over the region and its capabilities? So what?

is at its lowest point in global goodwill and diplomatic standing arguably in history

I don't know how to measure that other than silly opinion polls and meaningless rhetoric, but even if that's true (which I doubt), so what?

is economically in really bad shape


As opposed to 1981 at the tail end of the Carter era? Economically the US is fine and is still hyperdominant globally.

is woefully dependent on foreign oil

Agreed, from Canada, Norway, Mexico and Venezuala. The Middle East (read Saudi Arabia, not Iran) is about 25% of imports, way less than what it was in the late 70s and OPEC no longer has its hands at the throat of the US the way it did in 1981.

and is having its foreign affairs held hostage by duplicitous, war profiteering neocon hawks who through imperial hubris are willfully oblivious to the very real lessons of history (re: the fall of the USSR and the British Empire).

I don't really understand what this has to do with the particulars of the consequences of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities or what the situation was in 1981 (Reagan wasn't a neocon hawk full of imperialistic hubris?), but if anything, the US is in a far more dominant and strategically superior position in the region than it was in 1981 judging by the very criteria you've presented. I utterly fail to see how the consequences of bombing Natanz will differ from the consequences of bombing Osirak, which were non-existent.

some realities in this world that can't be sesame-streeted away

Might those realities include the fact that the US is currently in a strained position of weakness thanks to the current administration, and that to continue their PNAC agenda now is beyond insane?


Well, I don't think the US is in a position of weakness, and I don't think that Israel, Britain, France, Germany and others who have repeatedly called for Iran to halt enrichment and suspend their nuclear program are viewing this situation through the lens of the PNAC agenda.

You mentioned not thinking that Iran was stupid, so I don't understand why you're ignoring this.

Sure, I'm assuming that if Israel/the US were to strike, they'd know enough about the situation to deal with it properly and reserve the right to strike again assuming that the first attempt doesn't succeed. I would also assume that the presence of hidden or fortified facilities would insinuate that Iran is not being entirely truthful about their weapons program.



Personally I'd prefer that no theocracies


Be reasonable. Iran is a totalitarian state with no accountability to its people and does not represent them. If you insist on calling Israel a theocracy, fine, but they have a modern representative and accountable government. The two are comparable only though willful ignorance and huge leaps of logic.

Iran would really have no new tactical advantage if they suddenly unveiled their 'fist of allah' warhead tomorrow, and plus they'd be saddled with the multi-billion dollar expense of maintaining and defending that arsenal.

And then they could really focus on repressing internal dissent because they'd no longer have to worry about sanctions or pressure from their neighbours, the UN, the US, whatever. The Ayatollahs would have carte blanche to run the country as they see fit. I don't think that's a good deal for the region or the Iranian people, who's best chance at getting rid of that anchor on their backs is the continued pariah status of their abhorrent government.
posted by loquax at 2:00 PM on June 30, 2008


loquax writes "Iran is a totalitarian state with no accountability to its people and does not represent them."

Hmm...they have:
An elected legislature
An elected president
An elected body which chooses the Supreme Leader.

I guess I missed the part where they throw out everyone's votes and the dictator appoints his cronies. Can you point that part out?
posted by mullingitover at 2:08 PM on June 30, 2008


We seem to be begging the question that an air strike can "take out" Natanz.

Exactly. A "limited" air strike would be a wag-the-dog attempt. Chances of it eliminating the Iranian ability to produce nukes (if they have any) is a fantasy at this point.

What Bush would hope to do is provoke Iran into a direct confrontation so the US could do all out bombing on civilian centers... otherwise known as infrastructure... to bring down the Iranian economy. Which WOULD slow development of nukes. But not for long. While a large scale bombing campaign would drain Iranian resources it would also increase their motivation to get a bomb (and gain them much sympathy in the area) long term and it would certainly result in a massive increase in terror attacks in Iraq, Lebanon, AND Gaza.

With the Bush debacle in Iraq we have painted ourselves into a corner. More military action that expands this war will only make things worse. Anybody for it is an idiot or a member of Al Queda.
posted by tkchrist at 2:08 PM on June 30, 2008


Economically the US is fine and is still hyperdominant globally

Of all the warped mythologies that the neocons subscribe to, the idea that America is economically infallible( call it fiscal exceptionalism) is--given the background and realities of our current economy--the most dangerous. One wonders why, if our dominance is so secure, our Treasury Secretary is asking mideast oil barons to invest in American companies (self-link).
posted by ornate insect at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2008


Be reasonable. Iran is a totalitarian state with no accountability to its people and does not represent them.

Be reasonable. America under Bush is a totalitarian state with no accountability to its people and does not represent them.

(There's nothing reasonable about merely parroting the official line of a government that has no credibility left with its own people. Those with less ideologically driven views of the region tend to agree that the Iranian government is, like it or not, indeed more or less representative of its people, though the current leadership is increasingly waning in popularity--no doubt, hastened in their decline by the covert actions Hersh describes.)
posted by saulgoodman at 2:17 PM on June 30, 2008


Well, I don't think the US is in a position of weakness

Then you have been under a rock for the last six years and have ignored every valid assessment that our military has been issuing. The Pentagon sure thinks we are in a place of weakness.

While we still maintain a far superior control of the air battle space in the middle east and we have a technologically superior air strike capacity we have completely lost both our moral authority and our material ability to occupy and control the only strategic areas that matter. Namely the hearts and minds of the people of the region and the productive oil fields. Our ground personnel in the region are stretched to the breaking point and we will not get people to replace them. Our reliance on contractors is costing us a fortune and is not sustainable.

We have handed Iran all of southern Iraq on a silver platter and we can't do much about it other than continue to exploit animosity between Shia factions - which does not give us the strategic ground but forces us to be umpires in a deadly expensive game of reprisals and bribes.

Lastly we are losing ground in Afghanistan daily and will lose most of our allies shortly. Which obviously we don't care bout since it has no strategic importance to us currently. However, in terms of the conservatives pet fetish termed "Prestige", Afghanistan will be a total loss soon. And eventually it will be a strategic tragedy as we will lose the real battle ground in Pakistan. You know. The Muslim country we know for sure has nukes.
posted by tkchrist at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2008


Bush signs $162 billion war spending bill

Oil prices hit new high of $143 a barrel: "Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter and about 60 percent of the world's oil passes through the strategic Strait of Hormuz."
posted by ornate insect at 2:22 PM on June 30, 2008


I guess I missed the part where they throw out everyone's votes and the dictator appoints his cronies. Can you point that part out?

See what I mean? Wilfull ignorance and leaps of logic. Read some wikipedia links about Iranian politics.

Exactly. A "limited" air strike would be a wag-the-dog attempt. Chances of it eliminating the Iranian ability to produce nukes (if they have any) is a fantasy at this point.


Why? Seriously. Why would it be so difficult to destroy or severely disrupt nuclear capabilities?

Of all the warped mythologies that the neocons subscribe to, the idea that America is economically infallible

Hey, I'd love if it if instead of insulting neocons you actually explained to me how A) the US economy is "weak" and B) how the US economy is "weaker" than it was in 1981 and C) to what the US economy is weak relative to.

Then you have been under a rock for the last six years and have ignored every valid assessment that our military has been issuing. The Pentagon sure thinks we are in a place of weakness.

The lack of weakness that I mean was in terms of American ability to attack Iran and control its response with impunity. It may be stretched thin, and I was not saying that the US could waltz into the country and occupy it. Given the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, attacking Iran by air is well within the capabilities of the US military given that it's exceedingly unlikely that Iran will respond by attacking in turn as you said.
posted by loquax at 2:30 PM on June 30, 2008


loquax writes "See what I mean? Wilfull ignorance and leaps of logic. Read some wikipedia links about Iranian politics. "

Well I was expecting a link or something, not to get a whole term paper thrown at me. It's going to take me all day to sift though all this material, but I'll say this: you've certainly convinced me that your position is rock solid. I read all about how their government is elected, at the local and national level, and how their assembly of experts is elected, but until you pointed out my willful ignorance I totally missed the "J/K LOL it's really a dictatorship!!!1one ps deth 2 amerika" at the bottom. Thanks for your scholarly rigor.
posted by mullingitover at 2:45 PM on June 30, 2008


You know, America, most of you guys seem pretty cool and all and thanks for giving us Michael Bay and Pepsi Blue, but fuck you do some curious shit sometimes.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2008


Why? Seriously. Why would it be so difficult to destroy or severely disrupt nuclear capabilities?

Are you serious?

Ok. Well for one we don't have any idea where they are.

For another there are no guarantees that we can destroy a hardened site even if, that's IF, we do get the correct one.

And three. They could buy a nuke from somebody else anyway.

BTW this is what the Pentagon has said. It is a tiny it of planners, the Bush administration's hand picked stooges at that, that think we could actually destroy an Iranian Nuke site. And so far those guys are ALL batting zero.

Which is all moot. Since we have no hard evidence such a site exists at all.

The idea we are banking on a limited strike to destroy Iran's nukes capabilities is absurd.

We Bush wants is to provoke them into fighting back. That's what the air strike will be for. Then we can bomb the shit out of the Iranian people in retaliation. This is what we are planning on doing.

Then, sure, a massive bombing campaign will cripple the Iranian economy. As well as being utterly immoral.

This myth about the magical surgical strike is just so people like you can whack off and not feel bad about the inevitable shit storm it will provoke.

After the Iranians get pissed at the violation of thier airspace and the bombing they will, maybe, launch a missile or two. We will play taps on CNN and you'll get all weepy at the flag that is half mast. The US goes into full-on Jingoistic mode — "got to get those towel heads for daring to attack our boys on those carriers."

All so you won't feel guilty about the thousands of dead Iranian women and children as the "surgical" strike expands into a an autopsy of the Iranian people.

If your for surgery you better be down with the possible autopsy, bud. You think hitting these supposed nukes sites is honky dory then your down with murdering innocent people, too. Because that is what happens.
posted by tkchrist at 2:54 PM on June 30, 2008


Images of Iran.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I really don't know if you're seriously trying to claim that Iran is in any way a representative democracy or that it bears any semblance whatsoever to Israel's government, but here's some stuff I found on wikipedia that seems to disagree. I've bolded the important bits. I will grant that it's quite the elaborate facade, and that if you don't look closely, it seems that there are elections all over the place, so I can see how you'd be confused.

The Supreme Leader of Iran is responsible for the delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran". The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has the only power to declare war. The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem--none have ever been dismissed. The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

The Assembly of Experts (also Assembly of Experts of the Leadership) of Iran (Persian: مجلس خبرگان رهبری, Majles-e-Khobregan or Majles-e-Khebregan), is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities. Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by direct public vote to eight year terms. Current laws require the assembly to meet for at least two days, twice annually. The current chairman of the Assembly is Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was elected in September 2007.

According to the Iranian Constitution, the assembly is in charge of supervising, dismissing and electing the Supreme Leader. In the event of his death, resignation or dismissal, the Experts shall take steps within the shortest possible time to appoint a new Leader. "Whenever the Leader becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties, or lobs one of the qualifications mentioned in" Constitution, "or it becomes known that he did not possess some of the qualifications initially, he will be dismissed." The assembly has never dismissed a sitting Supreme Leader, and as all of their meetings and notes are strictly confidential, the assembly has never been known to challenge or otherwise publicly oversee any of the Supreme Leader's decisions.)


The Constitution defines the President as the highest state authority after the Supreme Leader. The President is elected by universal suffrage, by those 15 years old and older, for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. Currently, 10 Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of 21 ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence.
posted by loquax at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just say... the tanker that is hit first (causing all the others to stop moving ) has its registry in one of those third world countries who are not part of the so called strategic alliance. May be the Iranians or the Chinese would pay the flag nation some compensation. How will the the USA then justify attacking Iran? Oh and the Oil has stopped moving. At its narrowist the Strats of Hormuz are only 21 miles wide. The Iranians have already been training to disrupt traffic.
posted by adamvasco at 3:04 PM on June 30, 2008


so the US could do all out bombing on civilian centers

WTF? Bomb civilian centers? What have the Iranian people done to deserve that?

You might as well be talking about China dropping a bomb on Philadelphia. It'd be much the same moral grounds.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:14 PM on June 30, 2008


The entire idea is a no win for anybody. Except the Saudis.

And don't forget Israel. When we're talking about winners and losers in war, we're not just talking about security - we're talking about money. Who stands to benefit if oil stops flowing through Hormuz? Just look at a map for the answer.
posted by blendor at 3:36 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm interested in the practicalities of taking out a nuclear program. It seems a bit hard for various reasons. If you just attack the different steps in the process of making a bomb:

1. You destroy the facility responsible for yellowcake -> UF6. But isn't this a pretty standard chemical plant. Like the ones making petrol and fertilizer and such? Ok, lets destroy all of them. But the Iranians might have hidden stores of UF6 at various places right? Ok then. Just drop a bomb on any place where you suspect there might be a storage tank of some sort like lets say the local water plant.

2. Destroy the capabilities to enrich uranium. Isn't this the important part? Bang pieces of U-235 together hard enough and that's your nuke right? But you enrich the Uranium with centrifuges. Lots of them. Like thousands. And with storage and transportation of UF6 being relatively easy isn't it probable that the Iranians have these centrifuges in up to hundreds of locations? Lets just drop a bomb an any suspicious building then. Problem solved. Lets destroy roads and bridges for good measure too. Try transporting that stuff now will ya!? Any you know what? Try running those centrifuges without electricity!

3. Then you need to convert the enriched UF6 to UO2 and that is some sort of industrial plant. Good that we've already bombed all of those. Next step!

4. They make the bomb somewhere right? Probably under some mountain. NUKE THE MOUNTAIN!

Did I forget to destroy anything? Maybe the body of educated humans needed to build a bomb. Since it's so hard to pick out the stupid from the smart when you are in a plane and they are on the ground I propose we just kill all of them.

Now with all these steps taken Iran's nuclear ambitions will be over. If there is a simpler way I'd like to hear it.
posted by uandt at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2008



so the US could do all out bombing on civilian centers

WTF? Bomb civilian centers? What have the Iranian people done to deserve that?

You might as well be talking about China dropping a bomb on Philadelphia. It'd be much the same moral grounds.


Of COURSE it's immoral. That was my entire point.
posted by tkchrist at 4:40 PM on June 30, 2008


4. They make the bomb somewhere right? Probably under some mountain. NUKE THE MOUNTAIN!

We must nuke them to stop them from holding the world hostage with nukes!

It's like how invading and bombing the shit out of Iraq, creating a failed state, destroying it's infrastructure, fomenting a sectarian war, allowing for the rise of feudal Sharia law, and finally killing tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of innocent people, rendering the survivors hopeless, leaving 2.5 million people homeless refugees in the process—was actually heroically SAVING Iraq.

Hey. Your welcome, Iraq.

And now we'd like to "help" Iran help themselves.
posted by tkchrist at 4:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Egypt outnumbered Israel 10-1 and shared a border. Ask them how their wars ended up.

Pretty good in '73.
posted by rodgerd at 5:43 PM on June 30, 2008


WTF? Bomb civilian centers? What have the Iranian people done to deserve that?

Deserve's got nothing to do with it.
posted by homunculus at 5:44 PM on June 30, 2008


With all due respect, Five Fresh Fish, currently we owe China and Japan about 40% of the U. S. deficit. That's cuz we're borrowing from China and Japan to pay for the stupid war with Iraq. Something tells me the only reason why they let us have all this money, is cuz they don't have a problem with what wev'e been doing to Iraq, and what we're about to do to Iran.

Cuz believe me, if they DID? China woulda stopped the US by now. Maybe they woulda broken a sweat, but right now China's too busy keeping their own people in line.

Add to all this the fact that GW just renegged on calling Communist Vietnam a part of the Axis of Evil, and I think it's clear now just who's really butterin' GW's toast.

Granted, I get this information by watching Jon Stewart's interviews with people who write books and stuff. So I could be completely full of it.

Think of it this way though.

China keeps making cars that run on gas by the millions. They got about as many people as the US does, and less space. They want what Iran's sitting on just as much as we do. OPEC doesn't wanna share? Tough. If anything would get China and the US on the same side of the fence, it's oil.

It's a global playground, and the teachers are smoking in the lounge: time for the bullies to play.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2008


ZachsMind writes "Something tells me the only reason why they let us have all this money, is cuz they don't have a problem with what wev'e been doing to Iraq, and what we're about to do to Iran. "

That, or maybe they're able to think longer-term than the current crop of politicians in the US. Bush et al currently seem quite willing to hang themselves (and of course by proxy, all of us) if given enough rope. Don't interrupt your opponent while he's making a mistake.
posted by mullingitover at 6:27 PM on June 30, 2008


currently we owe China and Japan about 40% of the U. S. deficit. That's cuz we're borrowing from China and Japan to pay for the stupid war with Iraq.

I would really love to take this opportunity to explain some things about the US debt (not deficit) that people continuous seem to misunderstand.

In rough numbers, the US debt is $9 trillion dollars. Of that, about $5 trillion is held by the public (as opposed to various Federal Government funds, but not including unfunded social security and medicare). Of that $5 trillion, foreign governments hold 50%, mostly in Treasury bills, which are notes that pay interest. Of that 50%, Japan is the largest holder, with roughly $600 billion, or 24% of the foreign government held public debt, or 7% of the grand total. China holds about $500 billion, or 20% of the foreign government debt, or 6% of the grand total. Other governments holding US debt include the UK (3%), Brazil (2%), Luxembourg (1%), and Mexico (0.5%).

So to answer your point, China and Japan together hold about 45% of the debt owed to foreign governments, or 13% of the total US debt. Japan's holding have remained more or less stable, while China's holdings have increased by about $100bn (1% of the total) over the last year. The US spent about $300bn servicing its debt in the last year by comparison, on revenue of about $1.5 trillion.
posted by loquax at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind writes "Something tells me the only reason why they let us have all this money, is cuz they don't have a problem with what wev'e been doing to Iraq, and what we're about to do to Iran. "

That, or maybe they're able to think longer-term than the current crop of politicians in the US. Bush et al currently seem quite willing to hang themselves (and of course by proxy, all of us) if given enough rope. Don't interrupt your opponent while he's making a mistake.


And if you've been paying attention, there have been lots of subtle and not so subtle signs that China, Russia and others are regarding our actions in Iran with a very wary eye. Russia just put another spy satellite in orbit today expressly to increase its capabilities in monitoring global missile strikes (not to mention all the blustery talk from Putin in recent history). Plus, don't forget China's impressive display of its precision missile targeting capabilities a while back. There have also been threats of an economic nature. You'd have to be deaf not to hear all the saber-rattling that's been coming from the ol' Eastern Bloc over the last two or three years.

As for Iran not being democratic, here's the same text with slightly different highlighting, and it tells a somewhat different story (amazing the difference emphasis can make):

The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem--none have ever been dismissed. The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

The Assembly of Experts (also Assembly of Experts of the Leadership) of Iran... is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities. Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by direct public vote to eight year terms.


The Constitution defines the President as the highest state authority after the Supreme Leader. The President is elected by universal suffrage, by those 15 years old and older, for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running.

And as a practical matter, presidential candidates in the US have to meet lots of technical requirements (you might even say they're elected from a government-screened list of candidates, since every viable candidate has to satisfy fairly convoluted rules for participation, many of which effectively work to limit participation to candidates with the support of one of the two major parties or access to financial backers with deep pockets).
posted by saulgoodman at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2008


If Bush orders an attack on Iran, the United States as political entity is over. I've mostly convinced myself that he's not nuts enough to do this, but if he does, it's over.
posted by raysmj at 8:50 PM on June 30, 2008


You stretch that any further, saulgoodman, you're gonna pull a hamstring.
posted by spicynuts at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Surely the thing about a strike on Iran is that it would be incredibly risky. It would be like the Iraq War. No one knew what was going to happen, but they could guess. And as it turns out, the war is a disaster that has cost the US at least a trillion dollars, wrecked the US's reputation and shown the limitations of the US military.

The outcome of a US or Israeli strike could be just the increased militancy of the Iranians and a complete distrust of the US and Israel by everyone as well as increased oil prices and some destruction of Iranian centrifuges.

But, it could also go horribly wrong.

The oil price increase could be enormous. The Shiites in Iraq could push against the US and really make Iraq explode. The Iranians may be able to use their submarines and missiles to sink US ships. Or they could just use them to sink oil vessels and take a few potshots at oil terminals of US friendly regimes. Hezbollah could fire a strong missile strike against Israel.

Is it really worth the risk?

What the Iranians are known to be doing is completely allowable under the NPT. They are largely playing by the rules according to the AIEI. The Iranians have made repeated attempts to get better relations with the US. Under Clinton they were rebuffed by Albright, under Bush they healped the US in Afghanistan as they loathed the Taliban because the lawlessness in Afghanistan was and is causing a serious heroin problem in Iran.
posted by sien at 10:42 PM on June 30, 2008


There is a good summary of the current rumours over at Juan Cole's Blog
posted by sien at 1:18 AM on July 1, 2008


Millennium Challenge '02:
In the first few days of the exercise, using surprise and unorthodox tactics, the wily 64-year-old Vietnam veteran sank most of the US expeditionary fleet in the Persian Gulf, bringing the US assault to a halt. What happened next will be familiar to anyone who ever played soldiers in the playground. Faced with an abrupt and embarrassing end to the most expensive and sophisticated military exercise in US history, the Pentagon top brass simply pretended the whole thing had not happened. They ordered their dead troops back to life and "refloated" the sunken fleet.
Iran Encounter Grimly Echoes ’02 War Game
posted by kirkaracha at 6:21 AM on July 1, 2008


You stretch that any further, saulgoodman, you're gonna pull a hamstring.

Well, I don't know about that, although a whole lot of stretching isn't really necessary. I think it's been pretty clear for a while now where Russia and China stand on Iran. From the Juan Cole link:

One [of two "red lines" surrounding possibly Israeli strikes on Iran] was the delivery and installation from Russia of a new anti-aircraft weapons system in Iran, which will make an Israeli strike more difficult.

It's doubtful China or Russia would be willing to escalate to any sort of open conflict in the immediate aftermath of an action against Iran, but both countries have a lot of less direct options at their disposal to make life more difficult for us. And those nations believe they need Iran in that region in much the same way we think we need Iraq: As an important regional partner during the coming oil Apocalypse.

Haven't you heard yet? Iraq is the new Saudi Arabia now. If we could just accomplish the same outcome in Iran (which has the third largest reserves after Iraq), then we'd control as much oil as Saudi Arabia, and we could start our own OPEC. With no-bid contracts all around, we'd be completely free of our dependence on foreign oil, in a perverse manner of speaking.

And what sien said.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:42 AM on July 1, 2008


we could start our own OPEC. and yeah, before i get called out for this as a mistake, i know iran and iraq are part of OPEC (or at least, iraq was... are they still?)... but we'd have client nations within our own little mini-OPEC is my point. there's probably a better way to characterize it.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2008


Well, I don't know about that, although a whole lot of stretching isn't really necessary.

Not the issue I was referring to. I was referring to your attempt to paint Iranian "democracy" as somehow akin to the U.S.:

As for Iran not being democratic, here's the same text with slightly different highlighting,

And this:

And as a practical matter, presidential candidates in the US have to meet lots of technical requirements (you might even say they're elected from a government-screened list of candidate

That's just piffle.
posted by spicynuts at 8:21 AM on July 1, 2008


It's easier to kill them if they don't share anything in common with you.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on July 1, 2008




I was referring to your attempt to paint Iranian "democracy" as somehow akin to the U.S.:

spicynuts: ah--i see. well, maybe, but my point wasn't that our forms of democracy are exactly alike. just that it really isn't all that hard to make american-style representative democracy sound pretty undemocratic, too, in ways that directly parallel how loquax unfavorably characterized iranian democracy.

getting on a ballot in a major election is extremely difficult if not impossible for non-major-party candidates in most states (this site has a good run down of the various state-by-state hurtles to participation). and the parties can ultimately decide who does or doesn't get on the ballot according to whatever reasons they want, as colbert learned when he tried to get on the democratic primary ballot in south carolina. (so, maybe "they're elected from major party-screened lists of approved candidates" is a more accurate way to put it.)

and this poli-sci guy, larry bartels, for one, argues there are strong indications that our political process is increasingly showing traits more characteristic of oligarchy than democracy (and i know it's an appeal to authority, but since he's a professor of politics at princeton, it's probably a safe bet he's looked at how our political process currently works a lot more closely than either of us have).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on July 1, 2008


"Traits" are not constitutional laws. I can write in whoever I want on a ballot. The realities of reaching a mass audience through media drive these traits more than our constitution. Can Iranians write in a candidate on their ballots?
posted by spicynuts at 10:14 AM on July 1, 2008


Does it really matter?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 AM on July 1, 2008


"Traits" are not constitutional laws. . . The realities of reaching a mass audience through media drive these traits more than our constitution.

Maybe not, but we only just barely ended up with a system that allowed more than one party to play in the first place, and Hamilton (who started the first political party and opposed the accommodation of a second party) even advocated using control of the mass media to foster and maintain support for the government. Don't think for a minute it's an accident that our system makes it such an uphill battle to oppose the vested interests of political and economic elites.

Can Iranians write in a candidate on their ballots?

And a write-in candidate has had any effect whatsoever on the outcome of a major election when? I mean, how is the fact that our system makes more token gestures towards the ideals of a true open democracy than other systems really relevant? If anything, such features are only so much window-dressing helping to obscure the more fundamental anti-democratic aspects of our process.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on July 1, 2008


Better check that hamstring again. You are confusing what happens with what is allowed to happen.
posted by spicynuts at 11:46 AM on July 1, 2008


Keep America Strong
Vote George W. Bush 2008
What about "term limits"
The important thing to understand about so-called "term limits" is that they are man's law, not God's Law. The God who parted the Red Sea is surely not worried about so-called "term limits". When you vote your faith you let Almighty God take care of the details.

Presidential term limits are not in the Bible. And they were not in our Constitution until added by an activist congress in 1951.
posted by caddis at 1:25 PM on July 1, 2008


DEMOCRACY FIGHT!

While I'm not so sure I'd compare Iranian abuses of democracy with American abuses of democracy since Iran IS a strict sectarian religious republic — which is a complete anathema to real freedom — I can't say Bush (or Bush supporters) is in any position to be judging the Iranian ruling elite as belligerent, extremist, and certainly Bush can't be calling THEM incompetent. Still. The US system is a superior form of democracy over all. For now.

That said the structure of Iran's government is irrelevant as a justification for bombing the fuck out of innocent people. And that is what Bush will end up doing if we bomb Iran.
posted by tkchrist at 5:30 PM on July 1, 2008


Keep America Strong
Vote George W. Bush 2008


I hope this guy is a troll.
posted by GiantBeavis at 6:24 PM on July 1, 2008


Keep America Strong
Vote George W. Bush 2008


I hope this guy is a troll.

Pay attention, kids. The Bush write-in site is how satire is done.
posted by telstar at 9:19 PM on July 1, 2008












If you think that the price of oil and gas is high now, just wait until after Iran is attacked.
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2008










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