Another fool heard from.

"Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 70, said Obama has approached him several times through oral and written messages. It was the second time that Khamenei, who wields ultimate political and religious authority in Iran, has referred to the president's outreach.

The White House has not confirmed sending letters to the Iranian supreme leader but has acknowledged a willingness to talk to Tehran and said it has sought to communicate with Iranian leaders in a variety of ways.

In his harshest comments yet on the Obama administration, Khamenei said in a speech Tuesday that the United States has ill intentions toward Iran and is not to be trusted.

"The new U.S. president has said nice things," he said. "He has given us many spoken and written messages and said: 'Let's turn the page and create a new situation. Let's cooperate with each other in resolving world problems.' "

Khamenei said he had responded in March to Obama's overtures, referring to a speech in which he said he would wait for changes in U.S. policy toward Iran before reassessing ties.

Since then, Khamenei said, "what we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, 'Let's negotiate.' But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that." "  Washpost


Just crazy.  The last thing the US needs is another war but this is a step down the path that leads to that war.  pl

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58 Responses to Another fool heard from.

  1. Anthony says:

    Khamenei is an idiot who likes nothing but confrontation. But arent we giving them excuses? Just take a look at congress. They’ve been passing Iran sanctions bill every other week.

  2. b says:

    Khamenei has a point: the U.S. does not want to negotiate with Iran but it wants Iran to do what it says.
    That speech was likely the response to Clinton’s last incompetent attempt of ‘diplomacy’: Clinton: Iran should accept nuclear deal ‘as is’
    That and ‘crippling sanctions’ are simply not acceptable to Iran.
    As for war – with the U.S. in a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arabs profoundly disappointed by Obama’s aborted peace talks attempts and the Russians very concerned of the U.S. military creeping into eastern Europe, there is very little chance that any U.S. started war would end with the U.S. coming out on the winning side.
    If there are still thinking people in the pentagon they will find a way to abort any attempt to start another useless war.

  3. jedermann says:

    From our perspective they are overplaying their hand. From the Iranian perspective what is their real assessment (not necessarily their public rhetoric) of U.S. intentions? How is that assessment weighed in the making of their foreign and domestic policy?
    As we seek to correct the cultural astigmatisms that distort our own view of their intentions and the apparent meaning of their actions we also struggle to understand the defects of their vision. They ain’t making it easy.

  4. Balint Somkuti says:

    why is a war inevitable? Just because a country’s leader openly defies the US? The international community should make it clear that they do not tolerate ANY aggressive move and will retaliate with excessive force. Of course if the SCO do not comply the US and EU should do it together.

  5. somebody says:

    It is the threats that are stupid.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    Some of you just don’t understand. There is no justice in international relations. None! The US can erase Iran if it chooses to do so.
    The US does not want to negotiate with Iran? That is absolute crap!
    Will the US in the end accept Iran as a nuclear power. We might, but do the Iranians really want to “bet the farm” on that?

  7. Mad Mike says:

    Wouldn’t Khamenei be in a better position to judge the true intentions of the U.S. than any outsider?
    Does anyone really think that the Iranian “uprising” is anything other than a U.S. backed, Gene Sharp, Color “Revolution” adapted by US/Israeli “Intelligence”?
    As a matter of fact, does anyone really think the action elements of U.S. policy/power really think of Obama as their Commander in Chief?
    Perhaps I’m sounding a little extreme but I’m trying to be optimistic here…, 😉

  8. Farmer Don says:

    “Some of you just don’t understand. There is no justice in international relations. None! The US can erase Iran if it chooses to do so.
    The US does not want to negotiate with Iran? That is absolute crap!
    Will the US in the end accept Iran as a nuclear power. We might, but do the Iranians really want to “bet the farm” on that?”
    Col., I think the first part of your post answers the final question, and the answer is yes.
    Since there is indeed no international justice, Iran will only be able to stand up to the U.S. when they have a weapon strong enough to dissuade attack. Only the Atomic Bomb will do.
    And since they will have to bet the farm on it, what better time than now:
    The US is winding down one costly, unpopular and unproductive war.
    It is still caught in another smaller resource sucking conflict.
    The US military machine needs a couple years to get back to full health.
    A new president is in office who seems more careful than the last.
    The American Economy is in a deep recession. The main public discourse is on health care & jobs, not 9/11.
    Iran has already invested a lot of resources in pursuing this goal.
    The farther advanced the program, the better the chance of success before Israel does something drastic.

  9. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Khamenei’s rhetoric isn’t helping the situation but neither is Israel’s.
    I think we should just ask (tell) Israel to draw us a map of what they really want, just exactly what territories, if in their possesion, will sate their thirst and then we can work on the whole situation from that perspective. This long road to peace costs too much.

  10. Meanwhile in Tehran, the blood of innocents still drenches the streets. “Day 135 Iran Revolution: Violent Protests Against Dictators in Iran on Anniversary of US Hostage Crisis”

  11. Cloned Poster says:

    Pat, the US bought the Farm with huge debt in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Yes the US has the p—k and gonads to f–k Iran over big time.
    But have they the money to pay for the consequences?

  12. JJackson says:

    I am sorry but I am still not sure who you think is behaving crazily. Khamenei, the US or both of them? Nobody can win a military confrontation with the US. Lose is the only option it just a matter of how much damage you can do in the loosing.
    I thought I understood you up to this point. “The international community should make it clear that they do not tolerate ANY aggressive move and will retaliate with excessive force.” Now I realised you were referring to US and Israeli threats to bomb Iranian nuclear reactors and other parts of there nuclear fuel program but the last sentence seemed to imply you were talking about some kind of Iranian threat. Its is just that I was not aware Iran had threatened the United States.

  13. WILL says:

    Some of you just don’t understand. There is no justice in international relations. None! The US can erase Iran if it chooses to do so.”
    perhaps it is appropriate to revisit
    The Melian Dialogue 431 BC
    CHAPTER XVII. Sixteenth Year of the War – The Melian Conference – Fate of Melos

  14. N.Z. says:

    You are right Mr. Lang! There is no justice.
    The Ayatollah is not escalating, neither do the Iranians want another devastating war, they want to be left alone, they want a clear message . Let us put ourselves in their shoes . There is great pressure on president Obama. His vision had been hijacked by the same old guards . I still believe he is a man for peace in a land of warriors .
    I did not get what you mean “bet the farm” on that ?

  15. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. The Melian dialogue is an apt mataphor for the possbilities in this.

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    “Let us put ourselves in their shoes.”
    What kind of crazy childish nonsense is that? Go back to your pulpit or seminar room.
    What do you think this is, a game? pl

  17. Jose says:

    Let us remember that Athens lost The Peloponnesian War…

  18. I was wondering if any of the commenters had read Professor Paul Bracken’s book “Fire In the East” (1989?) and his take on the interest of nation states in acquiring nuclear weapons? Is that book and its judgements still of interest to the current Iranian situation? The first book of his that I remember was entitile “Command and Control” and came out about 1982 and concerned US nuclear and strategic doctrine! I found both books very interesting. I actually gave a number of copies away because I found them of great interest to US strategic policies.

  19. CK says:

    Refusing to understand your opponent is the first step toward defeating him, right?
    Even better, assume that your opponent is just like you only, dumber, slower, idiotic, retarded, and gullible.
    By doing so the USA has won its wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, The phillipines, East Timor, Somalia, and its coming war with Venezeula.
    How are those Mandarin classes coming?

  20. Patrick Lang says:

    What has this to do with “winning?” What an antique idea!
    What we are talking about is sheer, massive, destruction.
    When the target set is a putative nuclear weapons program or facilities, all bets are off on “rules.”
    If this comes to blows in the end, the forces involved will be those that have hardly been involved in all this conventional war business that the US has restricted itself to.
    Cost? We pay for those forces every year. fuel, engine hours, replacement prices for expended weapons. Those would be the costs.
    Did someone suggest that the US would be deterred by Iran’s posession of a few nuclear weapons? Now, that is a real indication of a lack of understanding of the relative scale of things. pl

  21. JohnH says:

    The most recent negotiations were a set up. Iran was to ship 80% of its enriched uranium to Russia, which would in turn ship it to France for final processing. Then it was to be returned to Iran.
    Bottom line–send me your crown jewels and I swear on a stack of Bibles to send them back, someday, maybe.
    Iran proposed sending the uranium out in small batches which would be returned before more shipments were made. But the US characterized this as “rejection” of the deal.
    Khamenei is not crazy. Who wouldn’t resent someone trying to play you for the fool? And what does the US hope to gain by constantly threatening and tricking the Iranians?
    I agree with the colonel’s assessment: “The last thing the US needs is another war but this is a step down the path that leads to that war.” To prevent it, the US needs to start negotiating in good faith. Enough of the stunts!

  22. N.Z. says:

    Here is my response,
    Going back to your point, wish I totally agree with “There is no justice in international relations”the question you posed to me “What do you think this is, a game?” my answer is NO, I do not think this is a game !
    I agree, that neither side need another war .
    So let me clarify what I meant by, let us put ourselves in their shoes:
    It is part of the arrogance of the west of talking down to emerging civil societies .
    So rather than talking
    down to civilizations in a humiliating way, it is rather more helpful to talk with them in a respectful way .
    This will co-create new global communities that will have emerging democracies and emerging civil societies, it is a much more effective and beneficial way of building bridges .

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    That seems reasonable. pl

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    John H.
    The idea was too deny them enough material on hand tp refine into a mass of critical size.
    We are trying to keep them from having nuclear weapons.
    “Good faith” includes an undrstanding that this is what we are doing. pl

  25. johnf says:

    Are the Russians or the Chinese – especially the Chinese – going to allow this? China has big stakes in Iranian oil and gas reserves. And wants larger.
    And I can’t imagine India or even Brazil are going to be that pleased.
    Even Germany is going to be caught between Russia and the US.

  26. Patrick Lang says:

    I am not sure what you mean by “allow.” pl

  27. johnf says:

    Incidentally – Israel has discovered another ship load of arms being smuggled to Hezbollah.
    These mysterious interceptions seem to happen increasingly often in the midst of oceans or deserts.
    Then nothing more is heard of them.

  28. Cato says:

    Dear All:
    I had been under the impression, ever since Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s TED conference talk ( that there was: a) a pretty serious faction in the U.S. government that wanted to play the clock out–that that was the move the smart money was on; that b) there was probably another faction that wanted a Color movement; and c) that Iranian rhetoric was always to be measured principally by what they did, not by what they allowed their nutjobs to say. The combination of these factors led me to believe that we’d do all that we could to pressure the Iranians covertly while publicly proclaiming and signaling that we would be open to a deal over the long run. So far, par for the course. Hypocritical to academics, but recognizable to the rest of the world as the time-honored way in which interests are protected and power is deployed.
    To me, the Qom site changed everything politically. If Pres. Obama–regardless of his own schtick as peacemaker–wants to be taken seriously and salvage a sense of U.S. resolve, then he needs to draw a line beyond which “this will not stand.” He can talk all he wants–and I hope he does–but he also has to be willing to back it up. Eventually, he has to be willing to do exactly what Col. Lang has been strongly suggesting will, in fact, happen if Iran doesn’t conform its conduct. Tactical nukes to take out the hardened sites. There is an inexorable logic once the Qom site is discovered.
    And then the rough, long slog that will follow when Iran disintegrates and elements from southern Iraq, Lebanon, and perhaps here in the U.S. exact what revenge they can.
    Scary scenario.
    We’re now objectively so over committed, however, and have had such a verbal pissing match with the Iranians in the recent past, that they could well perceive an entrepreneurial opening and question our actual resolve. Classic set up for miscalculation.
    I wonder if they remember who actually had the balls to drop a couple of these weapons when pushed sufficiently far?
    I don’t know Col. Lang, but when I see the temperature of the blog rise, as it recently has, I begin to get a sense that these things could actually come to pass. It always seems speculative on the front-side: it couldn’t actually happen, we tell ourselves. And then it does.

  29. Since then, Khamenei said, “what we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, ‘Let’s negotiate.’ But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that.”

    Where I come from, this is negotiation.
    Eg. in labor disputes, union tells management to grant a raise or it will go on strike or management tells union to make concessions or they will outsource to China.
    War with Iran would be a disaster, but to say that talking tough to Iran is not neotiating with them is twaddle.

  30. N. M. Salamon says:

    With grest respect I do agree with your points:
    1., There is no Justice
    2., USA can oblivirate Iran
    I totaly disagree that the USA could pay for the effects of such war, be it started by the USA or Israel, the BOSS!!.
    At present yuour economy depends on the magnimity of the Chinese , Japanese, both major oil importers, and on Opec, to keep the taps open [and accept constantly depreciating USA $].
    The USA at present needs to import ,most rare earth and most alloy metals, beside the approx 12 M barrels a day. Try to pay for this with non-acceptable US$. No Way!
    The alternative is to take the whole world on, which is probaqbly what some REBORN FUNDAMKENTALIST WANT!
    The choice is either deal honestly in diplomatic way [extermely hard for the just declinig SOLE superpower] or or pull the trigger on a loaded gun [aimed at your own economy]!
    It might be true that Mr. Obama really tries diplomacy, but with friends as MS Clinton, the Congress, and en3e4mies as Mr Cheney – his chances are negligible.
    I wish for diplomacy, for I do not wish a scorched earth to the children who were loaded up with all the expenses of the present adult populations, in the USA, and most so called “developed world” deve3loped in ideas to pass the costs to someone else for your pleasures.

  31. J says:

    Some don’t seem to understand that 24 empty missile tubes and mushroom clouds over Natanz means it’s Miller time.

  32. mac nayeri says:

    It’s part of the negotiating process and nothing to be alarmed by.
    Tehran is not displeased with the trends. It portends quite well for them. Khamenei wants to be around to see these many years of patient diplomacy bear fruit. That is the view from Qom, and there are many, not just in Qom who agree.
    For DC, the measure of its policy must be whether “it” extends or shortens the Pax Americana. A modus vivendi with Qom is the “other peace process” that extends the Pax Americana.

  33. JohnH says:

    Yes, the goal was to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. But the US entered into negotiations with Iran, which meant that both sides had to gain something from the deal.
    Exactly how does Iran gain by giving its enriched uranium away? That is called surrender, not negotiation. And the US has been trying for 30 years to get the mullahs to surrender, and it has not worked. Isn’t it time to stop pursuing a policy that has failed for 30 years?
    If the US expects a deal, it needs to negotiate in good faith, which means carrots, not just sticks or phony offers that it knows in advance to be unacceptable?

  34. ISL says:

    johnf: I can think of any reason for the Russians or Chinese to “bet their farm” on directly stopping the US if the US was determined, the price could be very high (versus strongly ensuring the effects weaken the US economy and military further).
    Dear Col: Although I agree a few nukes with insufficient range to reach the US clearly would not deter the US, the lesson I see offered (correct or not) even from the hawkish Bush administration Re: N Korea seems to be that even with just a half nuke one can avoid making concessions and get aid, too!
    In general, I think if negotiations are held in the media (as they seem to be), then have a high potential to fail and lead to war. Thus, my hope is that there is a parallel negotiation ongoing with the “foolish words” in the media on both sides a smoke screen for politics. Sadly, I see little reason to have more than hope.

  35. china_hand says:

    Please correct me if i’m wrong, Col, but your argument seems to be something along these lines:
    * The US has the power to annihilate Iran and much of its people.
    * Iran knows this, and is scared, so they are pursuing the only effective defense against that: nuclear weaponry.
    * Thus, the US may very well attack Iran and annihilate it, even though such an attack would result in the destruction of the US as well as Iran.
    You then seem to make the conclusion that:
    * Iran should back off its pursuit of the only effective defense against the US, and give in to its abusive and oppressive demands.
    The logic there doesn’t seem to work, in my book, and you acknowledge that logically it doesn’t make much sense. You do, however, emphasize the abominable and inhumane destruction that the US would necessarily turn upon Iran, and lament that it would be a tragedy of legendary proportions.
    On that basis, you then call for *Iran* to back off its efforts?
    It would seem to me that, as an influential American political and military figure, it would be more effective for you to be demanding our own people and government reconsider the consequences of their actions, rather than futilely calling out to the Iranians.
    If the US attacks Iran, it will result in two things:
    A) The US’s utter isolation internationally, economically, diplomatically, and militarily; where the US military and foreign presence remains effective, it will become an overtly violent and dictatorial presence.
    B) The utter destruction of the US’s current commonwealth.
    C) The ignominious historical identity of the US as the only international power that has used nuclear weapons twice, and the second time in an act of effectively genocidal aggression against an effectively defenseless and non-aggressive victim.
    D) Completely eradicate every semblance of the current US economic prosperity.
    Your position on this — and the direction you place your energies — seems oddly misplaced to me.
    There is more than enough reason for you to be marshalling your arguments against the current Pentagon, lobbyist, and elected players pushing for war. Yet for some reason, you are instead joining them in their calls for the Iranians to back down —
    Where, in the end, do you think your arguments would be most effectively used: in the US, with your own people, in warnings against what would effectively be a suicidal war of aggression that would result in a lingering historical identity just shy of the Nazis, or on the distant and closed-minded Iranis, who have no inclination to listen or act upon your advice?
    Just my two cents. I love your blog and am very thankful for your participation in this public discourse. It is because i have such respect for you and your opinions that i am — sincerely — posing these questions.

  36. WILL says:

    The goal is to keep the Persicos new-clear (as they used to spell is for No. 42) capable-less in order to preserve hegemony for our friend (Israel). Before we gained this friend, we had no enemies in the middle east.
    Our friend needs this hegemony in order to maintain its open air prison of Gaza and its ethnic cleansing program in Judea-Samaria. Our friendship and the Israeli-Firsters at home have embroiled us in continuing mideast wars, blowback, and more wars.
    When will we learn. The fault is not with the Ayatollas but with ourselves (in the aggregate), right here at home.

  37. JM says:

    N.M. Salamon: “At present yuour economy depends on the magnimity of the Chinese , Japanese, both major oil importers, and on Opec, to keep the taps open [and accept constantly depreciating USA $].”
    This represents a fairly thorough misunderstanding of how the global economy works.
    The Chinese buy US Treasury securities because they want to be kind to us?
    The Saudis sell us oil because they want to make nice?
    As a thought experiment, remove the entire US economy from the global economy – send it off into space or something. The result is that you’d have lots of countries that would be considerably poorer.

  38. johnf says:

    An American nuking of Iran would prove a disaster to the world and its economy. The world is very aware of this and will not be reticent if it thinks America is about to attack Iran.
    By “allow” I mean that an attempted US attack on Iran would be like the attempted British/French/Israeli attack on Suez. America pulled the rug from under it by stopping its support of the British pound. China and Japan and even Russia could do the same to the dollar. There are already quite open plans to set up an alternative world trading currency.
    Which doesn’t mean there can’t be misunderstandings. But the fact is there are more players in the game than just America, Israel and Iran. The people who make the decisions in Washington are quite aware of this. And Obama has just done very badly in the polls because people believe he is doing nothing to help the economy.
    Which doesn’t mean that nations in the past haven’t taken the disastrous step. But following the Melian dialogues, Iran does not appear anything like as beautiful in the eyes of the American electorate as Sicily did to the Athenians.

  39. Balint Somkuti says:

    We should draw a clear line, what they should not pass. Yet since NPT, IAEA, UN etc. make the case more opaque than transparent I would go with the author of the Haaretz article ‘Let them have nukes’. And while this process goes on make them understand (even US, EU, Israel together) that using these nukes would mean ending persian civilization. As simple as that.
    Problem is we don’t know what are Russia’s and China’s intentions. And the days of unilateralism are over.
    I am not a hawk, but I am not a stupid liberal dove either.

  40. Paul Escobar says:

    I previously chided those who cheered on the Iranian protesters in the aftermath of the last election. Mr. Lang thought I was speaking nonsense, & let me know via email (don’t worry, it was not as brutal as it sounds).
    But the irony is that, back then, I was making the same point that Col. Lang is making today.
    Just as those kids were being thrown to the Lions, so to will the weak Iranian state.
    There seems to be an underestimation of U.S. power, based on the stagnating wars in Iraq/Afghanistan & the financial crisis.
    For all those who think the U.S. is some neutered superpower…
    When discussing U.S. power, Noam Chomsky continually cites Thucydides’ maxim: “the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must”
    The best deterrent the Iranians have, according to Robert Baer, are strikes at neighbouring oil producers.
    I’m sorry, that’s not an Iranian deterrent.
    It’s an incentive for the American superpower to finish them off faster.
    For all those chirping about the “high costs” of these wars…
    I’ll refer you to two of the best Heterodox economists in the world: Dean Baker & Mark Weisbrot.
    These guys consistently warned about the housing bubble since 2002. They statistically explained why Social Security wasn’t in trouble, & basically saved it from Bush.
    Here’s what they recently said about war costs in relations to the economy:
    “People that are hoping that war spending is going to become unaffordable…
    What’s the total military now? It’s around 4% of GDP. We had 10-15% in the 60’s. Obviously much more than that during World War 2.
    That’s not an argument that we should do this [war], but I don’t think the economic arguments that this leads to disaster are very strong.
    It leads to disaster in other countries. It leads to disaster for the thousands of soldiers, who are either killed or wounded. It’s a horrible human cost. But the economic costs are not going to help us put an end to it.

    Read: If we pillage & rape Iran…it hurts the Iranians, not the U.S. economy.
    For JohnF, who wonders if the Chinese & Russians would “allow this”, & whether Brazil will be “pleased”…
    Lula’s opinions are meaningless. He expressed “displeasure” at the coup against his friend in Honduras. Yet Brazil couldn’t beat back a corrupt Honduran General whose previous accomplishments included an arrest for auto theft.
    China & Russia are even more impotent. Would China & Russia would “tolerate” a U.S. attack against the resource-rich ALBA nations (Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, etc.)?
    Two of those nations have the largest oil/lithium reserves on the planet. The fuel of today, & the battery power of tommorow. Massive economic interests would be at stake.

  41. Patrick Lang says:

    Paul Escobar
    I don’t remember what I wrote to you about the Iranian unrest after the election.
    I continue to think that there will be intermittant unrest in Teheran over the extremism of the regime and that this unrest will be put down with greater and greater severity.
    I may have said to you that the key thing to watch in the future is whether or not the Iranian Army (not the Pasdaran) will continue to alllow that. pl

  42. Patrick Lang says:

    As McChrystal has repeatedly said, “You have to start from where you are, not from where you would like to be.” pl

  43. Patrick Lang says:

    China Hand
    “Please correct me if i’m wrong, Col, but your argument seems to be something along these lines: * The US has the power to annihilate Iran and much of its people. * Iran knows this, and is scared, so they are pursuing the only effective defense against that: nuclear weaponry. * Thus, the US may very well attack Iran and annihilate it, even though such an attack would result in the destruction of the US as well as Iran. You then seem to make the conclusion that: * Iran should back off its pursuit of the only effective defense against the US, and give in to its abusive and oppressive demands. The logic there doesn’t seem to work, in my book, and you acknowledge that logically it doesn’t make much sense. You do, however, emphasize the abominable and inhumane destruction that the US would necessarily turn upon Iran, and lament that it would be a tragedy of legendary proportions. On that basis, you then call for *Iran* to back off its efforts?”
    I think Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons status for the purpose of becoming a major power, first in the region and then, later with the acquisition of ICBMs in the world.
    I do not think they are pursuing nuke weapons for the purpose of deterring the US. Such a goal would be absurd because they can never hope to acquire a capability that could do more than wound and enrage their adversary(us). Any use by them of nuclear weapons against the United States would mean the end of Iran within a few hours.
    This situation has no similarity to 1956. The British, French and Israeli expeditions against Egypt took months to prepare and were easily susceptible to political intervention by the US to halt them. Thee is nothing like that now. The forces and command and control mechanism built for the Cold War still exist. They are under the unfettered de facto control of the president of the US.
    “even though such an attack would result in the destruction of the US as well as Iran. ” No. That is the point. A US attack of annihilation against Iran would not result in any deestruction in the US. The wreckage in the world economic system would be impressive but not physical damage in the US. Surely you do not think that China or Russia would fight the US over the fate of Iran.
    “the only effective defense against the US,” Once again, you are mistaken. The possession of nuclear weapons by Iran would not be an effective defense against the US. Those weapons would just make it a likely target. There is no effective deterrent against US strategic power except the massive capability possessed by China and Russia.
    At some point the US will have to decide whether or not to accept the idea of Iran as a major “player” on the world scene.
    That is what the Iranians should consider. pl

  44. Patrick Lang says:

    “even with just a half nuke one can avoid making concessions and get aid, too!”
    This is true only if the big dog wants to play by the little dog’s rules. pl

  45. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    So what is Dennis Ross up to these days in the White House? Isn’t he the Iran policy point man?
    Didn’t he propose a policy of pretending to negotiate with Iran and then, when the results were not deemed satisfactory, to use force?
    The Iranian Leader is not saying anything different from what Russians and Arabs have been saying lately: US rhetoric does not match US actions.
    I don’t think Col. Lang is exaggerating the possibility of war. Look at how easily we got into the Iraq War back in 2002. The hawks had a war policy cakewalk.
    The media supported war and Congress gave the White House a blank check…and we are still there.
    The opinion back then of US middle east scholars, policy experts, retired diplomats and military and intelligence community officials, active diplomats and military and intelligence community officials etc. who believed the war was not a good option made NO difference whatsoever. White House policy was set from day one on using force against Iraq. 911 provided a convenient excuse.
    It seems to me that a variation of the Suez 1956 model is a possibility: 1) demonize the Iranian leadership, the Hitler thing and all that, “existential” threats blah blah; 2) Israel strikes first 3) the US comes in under the cover of defending Israel and whacks Iran. Simple scenario the pro-Israel US media and Congress would support in a heartbeat just as they did the Iraq War.
    It is interesting to note the present attack on a moderate US organization of Iranian-Americans called the National Iranian American Council. The attack is coming from hardline pro-Israel circles as well as from circles associated with the MEK terrorist organization.
    For those who may not have social contact with Iranian-Americans, NIAC is a good source of moderate opinion and analysis from fellow American citizens.
    For those who have a serious interest in the policy debate, I would recommend Dr. Trita Parsi’s book “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US” (New Haven :Yale Univerwsity Press,2007). Trita leads NIAC and this book is fundamental reading. Also at the academic level, for example, analysis by Prof. R.K. Ramazani of the University of Virginia (retired), Prof. Bahman Baktiari at the University of Maine and so on. There are a number of very serious US experts on Iran in academics and in government. Some happen to be Iranian-American, many are not.
    The United States has been out in the Persian Gulf region since the early 19th century so it is not as if we have no experience out there…

  46. says:

    Let us hope that our dear country does not fall into a state of political-military dementia.

  47. curious says:

    Sorry Iran position looks good so far even in a hot war (is not like they can’t produce antrax and do biocemical attack in place of nuclear attack retaliation. So worst case scenario still hasn’t changed. nuclear or no nuclear.)
    The current periodical intensifying conflict also is a stale mate. Iran logically protecting its national interest (threat to their regime and invasion) while US position is Israel, oil, national security, hence the incoherent policy.
    The logic of Iran conflict is easy, all they have to ask: are you going to bet your country and die for israel? We, on other hand are fighting for our direct national interest.
    They gonna keep playing and attain stronger diplomatic position. That’s their goal right now before the opening of hot war.
    Take the upcoming refined oil sanction. (Iran did deal with china, next step will be price war in pakistan over supply to US troops in afghanistan. Iran will start acquiring pakistan refinery or play price war. Since pentagon by law cannot buy product from Iran connected corporation, then pentagon will have to fly supply from who knows where. Probably UAE, since all asian refinery is fully booked. Same with Iraq side, even worst. the rest is just telling taliban which tanker to blow up. They have connection with hemaktiyar. This is clean and untraceable.
    second Iran can conduct sabotage and counter sabotage against any and all US oil facilities in the planet. In a lot of places people couldn’t wait company like chevron to go away. Nigeria, puerto rico case will become popular. with that oil price will skyrocket … big plus before actual war even started.
    Third they knows the pulse of global oil supply. Saudi is pissed and cutting supply to US because of palestine position. Asia gets 30-50c cheaper oil and growth is at 4-8% in most oil thirsty countries. Tankers capacity, refinery, controling price at oil exchange.. all are in hand of countries that couldn’t careless about US well being. (Iraq, Iran, venezuela, Russia, saudi, control about 60% of world oil supply)
    The unilateral sanction is also illegal and can be used as ground to get out of NPT. Which Iran no doubt is collecting so they can get out of NPT legitimately.
    Unless somebody realign and define what is US interest in central asia, things will only get worst. Right now it’s pretty much defined by Zbig, albright, berman, hillary. None of them cares about Iraq/afghanistan strategy and would rather fight iran and protect Israel. None of them care less about oil price effect on US economy when it comes to protecting Israel interest.
    this much is obvious, so Iran wins. they will make sure everything lead to high oil price.

  48. JohnH says:

    Yes, that is the crux of the issue: “The wreckage in the world economic system would be impressive but not physical damage in the US.” Would the US risk “impressive” wreckage in the world economic system?
    The economic damage would be most directly felt by Japan, China, and Europe, the biggest trading partners of the Persian Gulf. Can the US afford to jeopardize the lifeblood (oil) of these countries and send oil prices skyward for a prolonged period?

  49. Patrick Lang says:

    You are an interesting fellow.
    In fact, the threat of biochemical attack is a triviality.
    All the BS about that in the press is just that.

  50. YT says:

    Re:”it is rather more helpful to talk with them in a respectful way”.
    That’s probably gonna take perhaps ‘nother few major military defeats & quagmires, + a few more devastatin’ economic recessions for U.S. politicos to start doin’ so, IMO. (Sorry, Col.)
    As for “emerging democracies and emerging civil societies”. LOL! That’s gonna take FOREVER. Yours truly comin’ from places where democracy & civil society are god**** fairytales.
    Opportune time to dust that copy of Thucydides’ magnum opus & peruse it once again.

  51. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    I think President Obama DOES sincerely want a constructive engagement with Iran. He said this boldly and plainly as a candidate and he has said this as our President. Now that he is President, he realizes this is not so easy to bring about but he has not YET given up IMO. As for his advisors, who seem in some disarray, this is a different matter perhaps. And this is not to say that the President may at some point conclude that diplomacy is not working and take other policy options/measures.
    The comments of the Iranian Leader at least underscore that President Obama has indeed made direct contact/communication and from the Leader’s words it seems the President has done this several times.
    It is of course hard to know what is going on behind the scenes between the US and Iran in terms of secret diplomacy on a direct basis. Maybe there is a lot going on which rhetoric on both sides obscures. I certainly hope there is a lot going on behind the scenes in the direction of constructive engagement as it is a better option than an unnecessary “preventive war.”
    A strike against Iran would be a war of choice and a “preventive war” not a “pre-emptive war.” There is a difference.
    The type of diplomacy the Bush admin. engaged in is referred to as “coercive diplomacy” in the academic world. Condy Rice had an associate at Stanford famous for his theoretical work on “coercive diplomacy.”
    See also:
    Academics in political science who advocate coercive diplomacy often stress that force MUST eventually be used to remain a credible player. Tidy little academic models of some political scientists…
    As someone who spoke out very vocally in DC in public fora and wrote against the Iraq War-Neocons and etc. in 2002, I will reemphasize my concern that war is again indeed possible as Col. Lang states very plainly.
    I myself was quite mistaken in hoping in 2002 that a rational public policy debate would lead to “adults” in the Bush Administration gaining the upper hand thereby avoiding a preventive war. When the imperial pro-war faction wants war, it comes and it is supported by the media and by various powerful “political base” groups. The key political base groups in 2002 were: AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Southern Baptist church, the National Evangelical Association and so forth. Look around today…

  52. Andy says:

    Some of the comments to this post are pretty amazing. The belief that the US has not changed its policy or is not making a serious effort in engaging Iran is simply unsupported. US policy actually began to change under the Bush administration when it put everything on the table (including renewed diplomatic ties) with the single precondition that Iran suspend enrichment work during negotiations. The US has only grown more accommodating since then beginning with President Obama’s pledge to negotiate without preconditions. This latest IAEA-sponsored proposal, which Iran rejected, went even further – Iran’s enrichment was not even mentioned and Iran would have received tangible benefits including US nuclear technical assistance to upgrade the US-designed Tehran reactor. There is still hope another compromise to this latest agreement might be forthcoming, but the US is running out of inducements short of giving something-for-nothing and national prostration, which some here seem to favor.
    Col. Lang is also completely right about the absurdity that Iran needs nuclear weapons for deterrence. Rather, the opposite is true – pursuit and acquisition of nuclear weapons is likely to precipitate attack. US and Israeli threats against Iran are because of Iran’s nuclear program, not in spite of it.
    Iran’s ambiguity, lack of transparency, and failure to implement the measures the IAEA says are necessary to account for Iran’s two-decades of nuclear deception do little except give justification to those that want to see Iran’s program (and maybe even Iran) “taken out.” So far, Iran hasn’t budged on such issues despite the changed US and western policy – which is only going to strengthen the argument of those who want war. They can now point to Iran’s rejection of a straightforward quid-pro-quo deal as further evidence that Iran is not interested in anything short of nuclear weapons. Those of you who think Iran is a victim, who believe Iran is an aggrieved nation that needs nuclear weapons and therefore shouldn’t compromise should be careful what you wish for and cognizant of what policy your sense of “justice” for Iran will promote.

  53. N. M. Salamon says:

    you missed the point: if oil supplies suffer due to USA /Israel attack on Iran, the problem for the USA will be to buy necessary goods [oil, Rare Earth metals, Alloys etc] in currency other than USD! for the lenders will not lend, and OPEC might decide to price oil in non USD currency [a la Iran at present for 85% of production].
    The USA EMPIRE depends on the acceptibility of the $ as reserve currency. If Japan China et al decide not to accept same, then this reserve currency is no more; else, they out bid the USA, for they have $, something the USA does not have excluding the Fed’s prinitng press.

  54. Harper says:

    What Khamenei is referring to is a letter that President Obama sent to him prior to the Iranian elections. Clearly, the President’s presumption was that Ahmadinejad would win reelection, and that there would be no mass protests against vote fraud. It was a stupid mistake, to have given Khamenei such a useful weapon. He has referenced it frequently. Indeed, not only did Obama send the letter, but Khamenei replied, and Obama wrote back at least one more time.
    I totally agree with Col. Lang that the last thing on earth that the US and the world needs is a war with Iran. Fortunately, in this situation, I believe that there is a genuine desire on the part of the Obama national security and foreign policy team (Hillary, Gates, Jones, Biden) to pursue diplomacy. There are some indications that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have sent some messages to the US, indicating a willingness to reach a “detente” deal, in which the US would pledge not to attempt regime change, and Iran would cooperate in keeping Iraq stable, assist in Afghanistan (as they genuinely did in 2001, when it was in their vested interest), and probably even negotiate a deal to export a sizeable portion of their low enriched uranium to Russia, with some IAEA guarantees that the stuff won’t be confiscated as a violation of the NPT, once it leaves the country.

  55. different clue says:

    If Curious meant Zbigniew Brzezinski when he referrenced “Zbig” as being among those who favor a US war with Iran to defend Israel; I believe that to be a mistaken referrence. I read recently where Zbig gave a talk where he overtly said that we could very well physically prevent
    Israeli jet pilots from overflying Iraq to reach Iran. Could and should. That sounds like opposition to such a war on Zbig’s part.
    People who can do so should keep trying to keep mentioning and referrencing ongoing evidence of political and civil-society evolution in Iran. Such knowledge might increase the number of people uneasy over the concept of attacking a country in the throes of civil and political evolution.
    Who wants such an attack?
    I gather the Israeli leadership thinks such an attack would solve whatever problem the Israeli leadership thinks it has with whatever atomic bomb related program activities it thinks Iran is conducting. I suppose the Israel leadership doesn’t think about the war that would follow; or thinks the US could destroy Iranian will and ability to fight so completely as to prevent such a two-way fight from happening.
    Who else wants such an attack on Iran? I think the
    Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction themselves want such an attack to happen in order to rally the entire Iranian population in support of A-K rule. When did the thought of mass-casualties of ordinary Iranians ever deter or even concern the Islamic Republic’s leadership elites? Didn’t they send thousands of Iranian teenage and child minestompers through the minefields out ahead of the Iranian soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war? Since the A-K ruling faction is not concerned about millions of Iranian casualties in a war which would prolong the A-K
    faction’s tenure in office; it is up to us to try and get our US government to refuse to open up such a war. We need to care about the Iranians whom the A-K ruling group does not care about.
    Israel has talked so loud, long, and often about attacking Iran themselves if no one else does it, that if such an attack happens or appears to happen; Israel will be logically blamed. This creates a very good opportunity-field for the A-K regime to stage its own false-flag attack and leave Israeli fingerprints on it in order to rally the restive Iranian population to patriotic support of the A-K regime. Maybe Israel should think about that and put its attack tufftalk upside down and into reverse.
    Who actually wants a genuine war between America and Iran? Russia and China both want that to happen. They imagine they would both pick up the shattered pieces of America’s blown-apart presence in the Hydrocarbon Gulf. China imagines it could buy up even more of the world’s natural resources without an
    American competitor for those resources. I don’t know if an Iran-America war would work out to China/Russia’s benefit the way I think they think it would. But I think they think it would. And I think they will connive and conspire to help bring such a war about. So we have to deny China and Russia that pleasure as well. Denying China and Russia the benefits they hope to get from an Iran-America war is another very good reason to refuse to get into such a war. Do not give China and Russia what they want. I hope someone can figure out how to make and sell that case to the American public.

  56. china_hand says:

    Sorry, Col. I rarely have time to post here except when i’m in between scheduled destinations, so sometimes i post more quickly than i should (thus “result in two things”, and then i give four).
    What i meant by “the destruction of the US” is something more along the lines of:
    The US commonwealth would be destroyed because the current economic system that so favors our country would simply dissolve. Already, we are well along the road to that end. Yet in the aftermath of an aggressive war of annihilation against Iran, the world economy would quickly and irrevocably shift against US interests, and would likely result (over the space of about ten or fifteen years) in complete international isolation of the US.
    The current economic crisis would be pale in comparison to the effects such a situation would have upon domestic US peace and prosperity. And yes, i do believe that if the US attacks Iran, the destruction to the US economy and greater international standing would be complete and unavoidable.
    Without the prosperity that comes from being at the top of the international business food chain, the *people* of the US will be left with nothing but debt and a lot of homegrown megacorps that won’t be able to reconceive a smaller, less ambitious, locally prosperous economic system: they are addicted to cheap imports and Wal-mart sized sales, and their track record speaks for itself, with Halliburton and United Fruit as simple examples that prove the point both historically and practically.
    On the other hand, if Iran has nuclear weaponry capable of destroying Israel, then yes, i truly believe it will possess a deterrent powerful enough to keep the US (or any other Israeli clients) from attacking it, and I’m extremely surprised to hear you suggest that it wouldn’t be such a big deterrent. Don’t you think that, if Iran had nuclear weapons *now*, there wouldn’t be any discussion of attacking it? Certainly, i do. It’s the same situation as with North Korea: the US certainly has the power to wipe it out, (though as i understand things, it’d be a hard and brutally painful slog), but the destruction such an attack would unleash upon South Korea and Japan puts such a plan beyond all but the most desperate considerations.
    It wasn’t my intent to suggest that merely by acquiring nuclear weapons the Iranis would be capable of dealing a major blow against the US military; only that the consequences of a US attack up on Iran will essentially, unequivocally and doubtlessly hand the next fifty years of development over to the Russians and Chinese, and put such a strain upon the relationship between the US and Europe that those countries will give new and eagerly preferential interest to the rest of Eurasia.
    And that’s not even taking into account what would happen in S. America.
    I understand that, as a military man, you tend to frame your arguments around military power, but my point is that if the US chooses to unleash its full destructive power upon Iran at this time, it will soon learn that possessing the most powerful military in the world does not guarantee prosperity, good will, nor even, ultimately, victory.
    I should point out that we are in fundamental agreement about your final statement:
    “At some point the US will have to decide whether or not to accept the idea of Iran as a major “player” on the world scene.
    That is what the Iranians should consider.”
    I totally agree with you on that. My experience, coupled with my understanding of history, is that the only “good” choice for the US is to accept the Iranis as a world “player” as quickly as possible, and then go from there, and i am sure that anything less and the US will only turn its destiny from a bright path, to a very, very dark one.
    Unfortunately, it is our *domestic* political situation that will not allow us to take that course. Thus, my take on your observations.

  57. elkern says:

    I second chinahand. Iran can’t seviously threaten US mainland militarily, but it does have two credible threats:
    1. Iran may be able to seriously damage Israel – even now, before developing nukes – but would only do so if they were going down anyway (they reightly fear Israeli nukes). Play this up, if true – Israel obviously has, uh, significant political influence over US military choices. I view this whole thing as negotiation between Israel & Iran for regional power. Does Israel really think they can get us to smash Iran without getting caught in the blowback? Col. Lang rightly warns Iran to refrain from suicidally taunting the US (we do have a history of attacking tin-pot dictators with excess facial hair). But perhaps Israel could be warned not to overplay it’s ‘negotiations’.
    2. The US Dollar has been Earth’s Currency for 60 years. We’ve lived high by printing “money” & trading it it for real things & stuff (toys from Japan & now China, oil from the PERSIAN Gulf, minerals from everywhere else). We’ve been really sloppy about it recently – who would trust the US to administer the world’s economy now?! Every $ we drop on Iraq, AfPak, or Iran is borrowed from China or the Gulf…
    The system is way out of balance, and is very susceptible to a catastrophic colapse (in the mathematical, political, and human senses). Finding our way to a soft landing for the US Dollar is important for everybody, and US in particular. Attacking Iran – even “cleanly” (all air, no boots) – is likely to be followed quickly by a fast drop in the value of the USDollar, especially as measured against the true global currency: the Barrel.
    My one quibble with Col Lang AND chinahand: Iran will not be a “Major player on the world scene”, but they are and will be an important regional power. Unfortunately, they happen to be in the same Region as Israel. The mideast is a tough table to play. Good luck – or good riddance – to all of them.
    Build windmills.

  58. Jane says:

    Khamenei belongs to a bargaining culture and fails to understand Obama who belongs to a fixed price culture. Obama says I want to buy that:what is the price? Khamenei thinks he can say I am not selling that — what will you settle for?
    Since the Iranian regime’s bluster about grievances and demands for justice and vengeance have convinced the world that Iran would choose to be
    a threat to any and all it considers enemies, very few in the world are willing to allow it to obtain the power to carry out those threats. Having been caught in various lies, Iran is not believed when it claims it does not want to develop the weapons necessary to carry out its threats and has no military aims beyond defense.
    Betting the farm is the idiom for taking a chance at losing everything.
    The United States is the only country in the world to have dropped nuclear bombs on people.
    The United States has been willing to quit in assorted minor wars — Osama read that to mean that we could be intimidated with a little pain — that backfired, big time. Osama was clueless about what motivates the United States.
    In a bargaining culture, you make your worst offer first. The United States abroad tends to make its best offer first and then to impose penalties if it is not accepted.
    Impasse tending towards war?
    Who wants to bet the farm?

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