Iran and the hinge of fate

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2rcahz9tdicabfkrr6caqxf9ydca43j5qrc In Geneva, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China – plus Germany offered Iran a package of incentives to suspend its controversial enrichment program. Tehran has until Saturday to respond.

"They submitted a package, and we responded by submitting our own package," Ahmadinejad said when asked what Iran’s response would be.

""It’s very natural in the first steps we are going to negotiate over the common ground as they exist inside the two packages. If the two parties succeed in agreeing over the common ground, that will help us to work on our differences as well, to reach an agreement."

Ahmadinejad also signalled that if the recent diplomatic overture by the U.S. in Geneva was sincere, it could lead to positive developments.

"For more than 50 years now, the policy of American statesmen has been to confront the Iranian people, and our people to a large sense, have become acclimated with this situation, and we have tried to work around it. Today, we see new behaviour shown by the United States and the officials of the United States. My question is: is such behaviour rooted in a new approach, in other words, mutual respect, cooperation and justice? Or this approach is a continuation in the confrontation with the Iranian people, but in a new guise?" he said.

"But if the approach changes, we will be facing a new situation, and the response by the Iranian people will be a positive one.""

Canada.com

——————————————————————

The Bush Administration is dying, not listening.  It does not seem to want anything more from Iran than continued belligerence that may contain an excuse for an "execute" order for existing plans.  The Israeili right and its friends in the US continue to urge preventive war against Iran.  They urge it every day.  As I have written before, people must remember that there are no effective restraints in the US on short term presidential use of air and sea based power.  If President Bush orders operations in Iran, the armed forces of the United States will not ask for a legal opinion as to whether or not he has the legal right.  They will obey orders and let the lawyers and Congress sort out the niceties of constitutional authority after the fact.

I include the Iranians as "people" in this admonition.  In the interest of keeping the peace I offer them the following unsolicited advice:

An excuse should not be provided to the Bush Administration if war is not the desired "end state."

Iran is still transmitting ambiguous messages to the United States.  I presume that this is a matter of national pride.  This kind of pride can be a deadly thing.  Forget pride.

Send messages so unambiguous that your desire to work out a viable relationship with the US can not be distorted into something to be taken "with a grain of salt."

Find international mediators who are not "allies" of the US.  Try the UN again.  Try the Organization of Islamic Unity.  Try Pope Benedict.  Try.  pl

http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=a5ac431a-1bbf-48e1-a7bf-fd63f7b97088

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61 Responses to Iran and the hinge of fate

  1. hassani says:

    The Iranians sent a faxed offer of comprehensive negotiations in 2003 – and were snubbed. They have repeatedly offered to place additional restrictions on their nuclear program far beyond the legal requirements of the NPT — offers that were endorsed by international and American experts as addressing even the hypothetical concerns of weapons proliferation — but were ignored.
    How much clearer does this have to be? The US DOES NOT WANT to resolve this issue with Iran. Rather, the US wants to keep this conflict alive as a pretext. No amount of Iranian concessions will therefore suffice.

  2. Some Washington insiders are telling others that Gates appointment and in particular confirmation as SECDEF (overlooking past CIA screwups) was with the understanding he would oppose any war with Iran and resign rather than participate? Since this is a blog I pass on what I have heard. I am definitely not a Washington insider (live 145 miles away) but have heard same. Gates does seem to be highly realistic if not motivated completely by policy objectives to make sure that a depleted and overstretched DOD ground force organization is not faced with a major regional war. Not sure where or if the Navy and Air Force (the remote warfare types) stand? Once we go pilotless completely in next 50 years they will even be less restrained by the audit of war as Liddell Hart used to speak. The SECDEF is definitely experiencing that audit now even if the auditors have not reached the White House yet. In this case the auditors are the voters. Unless postponed audit now scheduled for the 4th of November.

  3. J says:

    Colonel,
    there are many who worry that israelis will pose as iranians and strike at one of our floating flotilla so it will give bush/cheney/petraeus all the incentive to ‘execute’ the already in place strike plans. the israelis have been trying every which way to ‘goad’ our u.s. (from the white house on down to the congress on down to the jcs) with their parade of israeli govt. types (israeli def. min. barak is currently in d.c. trying to twist u.s. arms into doing israel’s dirty work for them) keep trying to goad and goad and goad with their half-truths and concocted deliberate lies. israel and its govt. personas like barak could care less how many americans die to achieve their israeli aims, after all its u.s. mil personnel, not their precious idf bullies.
    many do not put it past israel trying to pull a uss liberty part ii.

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    hassani
    Send us some documentation on that offer in 2003. pl

  5. peg says:

    i have no idea if that 2003 fax about an Iran Peace Proposal is true, but here are some links (the pdf of the fax is in the PBS link)
    Rice Denies Seeing Iranian Proposal in ’03
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020702408.html
    Iran the key in US change on Iraq
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK11Ak04.html
    Iran Proposal to U.S. Offered Peace with Israel
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33348
    The “Grand Bargain” Fax: A Missed Opportunity?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/themes/grandbargain.html

  6. Lysander says:

    I would advise the Iranians to stall, lie, make promises, delay, distract and misdirect. Try to use Russia and China as a shield for as long as possible.
    And all the while, enrich enrich, enrich. And in between enriching, enrich some more. As fast as possible. As much as possible.
    Of course, do not give any overt excuse. Let the admin think things are ok in Iraq. Avoid bombastic talk and threats. Do not withdraw from the NPT. Always speak of your desire to negotiate, your willingness to befriend the U.S.
    Then, when you are finished enriching, you can do whatever the *&%# you want.
    The “giving your enemy everything he wants so he doesn’t attack you” approach didn’t work for Saddam and isn’t likely to work for you.
    OTOH, if the U.S. offers fully normalized relations in exchange for halting enrichment, you may want to consider it. I doubt such an offer will be forthcoming any time soon, however.

  7. b says:

    Offer in 2003, Kessler in WaPo:
    In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue
    Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity

    Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
    But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

    Trita Parsi, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he obtained it from Iranian sources. The Washington Post confirmed its authenticity with Iranian and former U.S. officials.

    The document lists a series of Iranian aims for the talks, such as ending sanctions, full access to peaceful nuclear technology and a recognition of its “legitimate security interests.” Iran agreed to put a series of U.S. aims on the agenda, including full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, “decisive action” against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending “material support” for Palestinian militias and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document also laid out an agenda for negotiations, with possible steps to be achieved at a first meeting and the development of negotiating road maps on disarmament, terrorism and economic cooperation.

  8. Cieran says:

    Colonel:
    Send us some documentation on that offer in 2003. pl
    Google “Flynt Leverett” and you should be able to find plenty of documentation on the topic. The WaPo covered this story pretty well, and of course, there’s Leverett’s famous redacted op-ed piece from the NYT.
    PBS’s Frontline had some excellent coverage of this in one of their episodes on the run-up to the Iraq war. From their “Showdown with Iran” website:
    A few weeks after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a strange document arrived in Washington. It came as a fax, on plain paper, from the Swiss ambassador in Tehran.
    The fax laid out the terms for a “grand bargain” — in essence a peace treaty between the U.S. and Iran. It put everything on the table: Iran’s support for terrorism, its nuclear program, even its hostility towards Israel. In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, an end to sanctions and a promise never to push for regime change.

    All of the Frontline episodes on the Middle East have been remarkably good. And they can be watched on-line at PBS’s website. The “Showdown with Iran” episode’s interview with Iranian VP Abtahi is especially poignant, given subsequent events.

  9. John Shreffler says:

    Col., here’s a link to a PDF of the Iranian proposal as transmitted through the Swiss. Flynt Leverett, who saw the thing at the time while he was at State, has a big discussion of it at the CFR website.

  10. jonst says:

    hassani wrote: “How much clearer does this have to be? The US DOES NOT WANT to resolve this issue with Iran. Rather, the US wants to keep this conflict alive as a pretext. No amount of Iranian concessions will therefore suffice.”
    Perhaps it would be better to not mistake the “US” from a dying, and much (unprecedentedly so) disliked regime. And yes, “regime” is the right name for this bunch. Iran should know it does NOT have to make material, vital, concessions now. Though it may in the future. As the US may have to in the future. Iran, right now, has to stall for time. Till Bush is gone. You have a lot of people, the majority, I dare say, who, for various reasons, would oppose,strongly, an attack on Iran. You have a significant group of important people, who, all things equal, might be talked into attacking Iran. But not now. For selfish reasons. They know their forces are exhausted, and exposed. Which, I might add, should not be mistaken for lacking lethality.
    This country is looking for every reason to turn its back a bit on the world, and turn inward with an eye towards healing its own festering issues.
    There is plenty Iran can do, and perhaps is doing, to aid the forces in this country, and in the world, who do NOT side with Bush. And such things would not, I repeat, given the short time frame with for Bush, require material concessions.

  11. Jon T. says:

    Colonel, Do you know if The Pope has close personal advisors who can be emmissaries to the Israelis? To the Israeli power elite, and spiritual leaders both.
    Pope Benedict, if I remember rightly, has surprised some by the “Middle Path” he has walked. I like your suggestion to the Iranians to approach The Pope. The more ‘extreme’ Israeli’s and American’s probably won’t like or buy it. That will be their legacy entirely and not ours. Thank you.

  12. Curious says:

    The things that Iranian has to get:
    1. they have to play global media game and public opinion. They can’t just issue diplomatic statement and expect the world press to air their statement.
    2. Even Obama administration cannot completely solve their global trade/fight with Israel. They simply have to do most of the hard work themselves (international relationship, trade, economic development, diplomacy, technological independence, etc)
    3. Israel will continue to push to eliminate its geopolitical rivals one way or another. That’s just their game. Iran simply has to face that fact and push back. US domestic politics will forever be pro-Israel.
    basically, if Iran wants the world to hear their case and have their international relationship not dictated by Israel and corporate global media, they have to go out and play as well. They can’t expect the world is fair.
    The model would be UAE & South Korea. The oil/religious economic socialism experiment is over. It is not sustainable in the long run. National economy and technological independence dictate that global trade and diplomatic relationship are necessary.

  13. Kieran says:

    I believe that this is the relevant document re:2003 negotiations. It seems that a senior Swiss diplomat prepared, in close consultation with the top Iranian leadership, a proposal for comprehensive talks with the US, and then passed it on to the State Department.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/us_iran_1roadmap.pdf
    The Iranians are playing a different game now. The core leadership wanted and still wants to reach a regional acommodation with the US. However, the price of that acommodation has gone up since 2003. The Iranians think they have played their cards well and the US has played badly, and that there are considerable regional rewards yet to accrue to their ‘account’. Unlike in 2003, when things looked rather different, the Iranians have no interest in reaching an accord based on the present static when they believe US regional power is in a process of collapse.
    So the Iranians are playing a waiting game. The neocons paint it as ‘every day they get closer to a nuclear bomb’ but it is mainly the end of the Bush administration, the US withdrawal from Iraq, and the collapse of other US regional projects they are waiting for. Once the Middle East reaches, after a year or two of US decline, what the Iranians consider the “new normal”, they will deal.
    They want to create a certain amount of bluster and defiance now because that will look impressive to domestic and regional opinion when and if the US backs down. ‘Look how the Americans got scared of Iran’s big rockets’.
    This is their best case scenario and they are fixated on it. It seems they are treating the possibility of war with the US as an exogenous variable, dependent more on the presently unknowable truth or falsity of various esoteric readings of US politics than on their own actions.

  14. Cloned Poster says:

    PL, have a look here:
    The fax laid out the terms for a “grand bargain” — in essence a peace treaty between the U.S. and Iran. It put everything on the table: Iran’s support for terrorism, its nuclear program, even its hostility towards Israel. In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, an end to sanctions and a promise never to push for regime change.

  15. J says:

    see:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001941.php
    More on the Provenance of the Spring 2003 Iran Proposal for Comprehensive Negotiations with the U.S.
    and
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/what-did-rove-do-with-200_b_41472.html
    What Did Rove Do with 2003 Iranian Negotiations Offer after Bob Ney Sent to Him?

  16. leonardo says:

    Colonel,
    Like everyone else hassani didn’t see the actual fax, but it is confirmed by the Washington Post and the BBC.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/17/AR2006061700727.html

  17. Bill Wade, NH says:

    some background on the 2003 proposals:
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33348

  18. jr786 says:

    I think it was Tariq Aziz who pointed out shortly before the US invasion that nothing that Iraq could do would alter American actions. Iran is in a similar situation.
    Seems to me that the Iranians are more than willing to make peace, rather than negotiate away the one thing that might ensure that possibility for them. It may shock some people to know that they are actually acting like fairly righteous Muslims in this whole business, including Ahmedinajad’s heartfelt personal letter to Bush, dismissed out of hand and Condiscendingly by La Rice. They’re looking for peace, while Bush and his Israeli advisers are looking for more war and regime change – the fi sabiallah of the Zioncons.

  19. arbogast says:

    I think that one has to calculate the price of gasoline after an attack on Iran.
    What has become clear in the past few weeks is that the plutocrat mafia that controls the Bush Administration is very adept at convincing the public that they aren’t stealing from the tax payer to pay their buddies when, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing. Hence, the so-called “financial crisis” is being turned into a nothing burger in the national press at the same time that the national treasury is being robbed blind.
    What is left? The price of gasoline. The plutocrats are having a much harder time with that. And it has hurt them badly. About the only real hurt they have ever gotten during the Bush years.
    The Bush Administration recently prevented Congress from opening the strategic reserve to help control the price of gasoline. They undoubtedly did that so that the first thing they could do after an attack on Iran would be to open the reserve.
    But will it be enough?
    I personally don’t think so. And I think it is the only thing holding them back.

  20. Dana Jones says:

    “So the Iranians are playing a waiting game. The neocons paint it as ‘every day they get closer to a nuclear bomb’ but it is mainly the end of the Bush administration, the US withdrawal from Iraq, and the collapse of other US regional projects they are waiting for. ” Kieran.
    WEll, the Iranians have been given a Saturday deadline. Lets see if they can bluff through that. I feel that the NeoKlowns will want to make one last grand finale before Bush leaves office, and they don’t want to leave this particular piece of business unfinished.
    There has been much talk about a strike on Iran as somehow being a good thing for the McSame campaign, or in the alternative it will somehow weaken the Obama campaign. True, it could cause the base to rally around McSame and give him a boost towards the election, but only if things turn out well. In the alternative, if things turn out badly (lots of US casualties, carriers sunk, etc), it could turn the American people so against the Republican party that they will be out of the picture for decades.
    Either way, I really don’t think that the Neo’s care how it turns out, as long as it turns out ok for israel. Can we just call it treason? Will these idiots ever be held accountable? Will there ever be war crimes trials for the top dogs of this administration? I would hope so, but I won’t get my hopes up too high. I have a very sad feeling that they will get off scott free and history will ponder long and hard just how these criminals could get away with the crimes they have committed, and no one seemingly caring.
    It will be a long, sad chapter in our history.

  21. Jose says:

    IMHO,
    Iran will take the Colonels advise and play the game until after the election in America.
    North Korea has made fools of the Americans so many times that Iran knows only when the nation has a nuclear weapon, will “Dumbya” negotiated in good faith.
    China will not finance our war to democratize Iran so I doubt “Dumbya” will be able to attack.
    The Israeli’s know that Iran will get even with them one way or another, sometime in the future so they will not attack.
    The Jacobins, have boxed themselves into a mess because an attack will hurt America more than Iran.
    Think about it very carefully and remember we still don’t have a clue where the enrichment is actually taking place.

  22. arbogast says:

    Well, I would love to be able to have a background chat with Colonel Lang, because there is a cognitive divide between:
    If President Bush orders operations in Iran, the armed forces of the United States will not ask for a legal opinion as to whether or not he has the legal right. They will obey orders and let the lawyers and Congress sort out the niceties of constitutional authority after the fact.
    and what I believe is actually happening. It seems to be becoming clearer every day that the American military, who this Administration has used shamefully to advance its feculent agenda, is pushing back and pushing back rather hard:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-fg-usisrael30-2008jul30,0,2250194.story

  23. Buff52 says:

    The President of Iran has indicated in his cryptic letters to the President of the United States that he expects a “chaotic” event to occur soon that will bring back the “Mahdi.” This implies a war situation.
    If the Israeli’s were going to do something, they would have done it already.
    There are no General Moshe Dayans and Prime Minister Menachem Begins left in Israel.

  24. Curious says:

    several things:
    1. all aircraft carriers are out of the gulf now (is it true?) Most likely to bring down oil price.
    2. Russia will supply Iran with S-300. Operational before november election. (Bush is rumored to bomb Iran after election, his last window)
    3. Russia appoint their Iranian negotiator as ambassador to the US. (now that’s sending a signal)
    4. Iran has a chance to seat in security council next round. (not sure if the odd is closing or not)
    5. If Rice can’t back up her 2 weeks bluff, her entire Iran diplomacy is pretty much collapsing. Iran will simply wait out until OB enter office instead of dealing with Rice/Bush crew.
    6. Russia is not very happy with Rice in Georgia. I really don’t think Rice understand what she is getting herself into.
    7. Iran centrifuge technology seems to be maturing. Tho’ they are going rather deliberate instead of as fast as possible.
    8. Iran is installing radar in Lebanon.
    9. Iran has been practicing with Turkish force (they have F-16) and Israel best route was Syria-turkey-Iran.
    —————
    I believe what we see now is the shape of eurasian geopolitical landscape.
    Russians will defend their interest. China seems to be cautious. Iran will definitely be an active player from now on.
    nuclear middle east within a decade. Israel will turn completely hysterical.
    I believe Palestine will flip to Iran in less than 5 yrs. Lebanon will be under Hezbollah control.
    Iraq is still a question mark. But oil price and budget deficit are expensive to finance.

  25. Curious says:

    U.S. Senate panel approves new Iran sanctions
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN17419147
    By a vote of 19-2, the committee sent to the full Senate legislation that would try to clamp down on countries suspected of helping transport sensitive technologies and goods to Iran in violation of existing U.S. rules.
    The measure also encourages U.S. pension plan managers and state and local governments to divest, directly or indirectly, from Iran’s energy sector.
    Patterned after a new U.S. law aimed at Sudan, the legislation allows state and local governments to divest from any company that invests $20 million or more in Iranian energy or extends $20 million or more in credit to be used for investing there.
    Under the bill, the Bush administration also would be encouraged to designate the central bank of Iran as a supporter of terrorism, triggering sanctions.

  26. TomB says:

    I guess what worries me a bit is whether our analysis of this Iranian thing hasn’t been distorted by everything else Bush has done. That is, if he hadn’t acted so stupidly with Iraq, and hadn’t seemed to be so massively shilling for Israel, would we still be so sanguine about what Iran is doing?
    For instance, because of all that Bush has done there is a natural tendency to view Iran’s program and the possibility of it getting nukes exclusively through the prism of what this means—or doesn’t—with Israel.
    But think about what a nuke-armed Iran (or even a “nuke readily capable Iran”) would mean for its other arab neighbors. Especially given the clear, automatic and near absolute ability nukes would give Iran to essentially shut down everyone’s oil flow out of the Gulf. (And probably be able to take down its very ability to produce alot of oil for a long time too with all the consequences that would mean for the world. In essence, this alone would make Iran simply huge world player, no?)
    Plus of course Iran getting nukes could only heighten the concern of other gulf states such as Saudi Arabia to get their own nukes so as to not be bullied and to try to provide somewhat of a guarantee against Iran using same against it. And think just of the increased … bullying power Iran would have with nukes. They get sick and tired of the House of Saud? Or the Iraqi gov’t? Or merely want to make their oil policies dance in step with their own? Well why *not* meddle in their internal affairs big-time given that with nukes what can the Saudi’s or Iraqi’s really do? (And I fully grant here that what Bush has done with Iraq has already hugely helped Iran. Although, if he hadn’t invaded then of course there’d be the question of increasing Saddam’s reasons to get nukes so as to counter the Iranian program.)
    So just in terms of very possibly giving the Iranians the ability to consolidate the ME oil policy against us that’s not good even if it is only a possibility and even if this does mean agreeing with Bush (if not his motivations), right?
    And look too at the fact that while we so focus on Bush here *all* the other permanent Security Council members seem to be with him on this, including China and Russia. Why? Seems to me probably because they know that you never anticipate all of what circumstances can arise in the future, and a nuke-armed Iran could only make these more harrowing.
    For instance, a resurgence of Khomeni-style fundamentalism in Iran, and then fundie agitation of the moslem populations throughout the region and even beyond, into all the former Sov. Union ‘Stan’s’ areas and even into the moslem regions in China. Or what about Iran getting involved on Pakistan’s part in a conflict with India? Or indeed Iran passing on nuke secrets to terrorists in Europe?
    I guess what I’m saying is maybe nobody ought to really be rooting for Iran here merely because it’s at daggers drawn with Bush in particular. Not that if he fails in this he himself don’t richly deserve the blame by making that the posture of the thing. But Bush is gonna be gone soon, and what if Obama does what he says he might and whacks Iran? As opposed to what I suspect we’d be saying if Bush did it, would our appreciation of same change?
    I don’t know, but simply because I see a guy I don’t like getting beat don’t mean that the guy beating him is my friend either. Getting distracted by personalities is an easy and dangerous thing to do.
    Cheers,

  27. J says:

    Colonel,
    take a look at this latest:
    http://www.newsmax.com/timmerman/iran_nuclear_plan/2008/07/29/117217.html
    Newsmax.com – U.S. Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on U.S. By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
    the newsmax article starts out thus: Iran has carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the United States, the head of a national security panel has warned.
    In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t have a story” to explain the recent Iranian tests. ………………
    say whahhhhhhh?? are they [newsmax/neocon propagandist timmerman] talking about ‘this’ dr. william graham? http://www.state.gov/t/isn/isab/68273.htm

  28. Abu Sinan says:

    Too bad there are so many that are not interested in what you have written in Arabic at the begining of the post.

  29. Curious says:

    California is next, after NY is imploding. Rating cut is imminent. (This is going to be 70’s again, street riot, crime explode, drug, high unemployment, etc. The true cost of war has come home.)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/nyregion/30paterson.html?em&ex=1217563200&en=11b535fdddd976e2&ei=5087
    Governor Calls For Session On Fiscal Crisis
    ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson, in a brief and rare live televised address, said Tuesday evening that New York is facing a fiscal crisis in the wake of Wall Street’s meltdown, and he called on the Legislature to return next month to grapple with a budget deficit that will grow to $26.2 billion over the next three years.
    Mr. Paterson gave few details about what actions he would take, but he told the public that his administration would examine an array of difficult potential steps, including reducing the state’s work force, cutting additional spending in state agencies and selling or leasing public assets.

  30. Matthew says:

    BO supposedly told Dems that King Abdullah of Jordan agreed that Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be a “game changer” in the ME.
    Think about that for a minute. The prime Arab appeasor of Zionism is worried about change. He should be. Imagine if a Hashemite had to run for office instead of being installed by a Western sponsor.

  31. jd says:

    “…remember that there are no effective restraints in the US on short term presidential use of air and sea based power.  If President Bush orders operations in Iran, the armed forces of the United States will not ask for a legal opinion as to whether or not he has the legal right.”
    This is so true. It is also true that Bush has not given such an order. Why not?
    I speculate, without benefit of education or experience, that there is another issue (or issues) in play here– other than the nuclear issue– causing Bush to restrain Mssrs. Shock & Awe. Skeptic that I am, I’m even willing to consider the possibility that the nuclear issue isn’t even the primary issue.
    A military assault is unlikely to bring Bush a big prize. It would more likely just add to the already big pile of inconclusive and/or unexpected results produced by his administration.
    The big prize would would be won if Bush could bring Iran in from the cold. If that were to happen, even Mr. Nobel might tip his hat. Dreamy perhaps, but men have dreamed larger.
    However, Iran is a hard bargainer, in a strong position. Iran has been out in the cold so long it has gotten used to it. The chip they bring to the table, and a big chip, is their petro-energy reserves. This is what makes a waiting game work for them. No matter how much petroleum the world has, it is going to become scarcer and more expensive as time goes by. In the long run, the value of reserves is almost certain to increase. So, from an investment point of view, what would you rather have: appreciating oil/gas reserves, or warehouses full of depreciating yankee dollars? Time is on their side.
    Making the story more interesting, Iran is dickering with the eastern powers at the same time– perhaps trying to set up a competition. Try googling “russia china iran”

  32. J says:

    Colonel,
    found graham’s testimony before the hasc, it was on ’emp’.
    graham begins his stuff regarding iran on page 4 of his opening statement.
    this is so out in left field, graham talking about what ifs regarding supposed iran emp…………sheez louize. also if one digs on the claremont outfit that graham also talked before it will show they are a bunch of far right wing loonies. and neocon propagandist timmerman uses this as more tin pan clattering in his newsmax.com article trying to goad u.s. into doing israel’s dirty work for them. arghhh
    http://armedservices.house.gov/hearing_information.shtml
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 – 10:00 am – 2118 Rayburn – Open
    The full committee will meet to hear testimony on the threat posed by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.
    Chairman Skelton’s Opening Statement http://armedservices.house.gov/apps/list/speech/armedsvc_dem/skeltonos071008.shtml
    Video Webcast
    http://armedservices.edgeboss.net/wmedia/armedservices/fc071008.wvx
    Audio Transcript
    http://hascaudio.house.gov/FC071008.wma
    Witness:
    Dr. William R. Graham (pdf)
    http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/FC071008/Graham_Testimony071008.pdf
    Chair
    Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

  33. Arun says:

    I hope the Iranian leaders are paying attention: help not to give an excuse for war; renew the 2003 offer updated for 2009.

  34. David W. says:

    In the past, such belligerence would have Russia and/or China backing up Iran, and rattling their sabers in response–why isn’t this happening now? Imo, it’s because Russia and China don’t really believe it will happen, and if it were to happen, it would only serve to hasten the decline of global US power.
    In woodland terms, Iran is a badger–small for a predator, and not too dangerous offensively, but sufficiently capable and willful that even bears know better than to attack them.

  35. Patrick Lang says:

    arbogast
    Their “pushing back” does not extend to mutiny. pl

  36. Patrick Lang says:

    All
    Some cretin who thinks I do not know that the “Club des Jacobins” were French wrote to admonish me against advising the “Iranian enemy” of the United States. He think that is disloyal. He does not seem to “understand” that “enemy” implies a shooting war or an inevitable descent into a shooting war. We are not there yet. If it comes to that, my position will be quite different. I would prefer that we do not arrive at that end.
    1- If you are going to write to insult me be prepared not to be published.
    2- If you question my analysis, tell me what your argument is in detail and/or what your qualifications may be.
    3- If you question my loyalty I want to know IN DETAIL what you have ever done for the US. pl

  37. Cieran says:

    Colonel:
    Some cretin who thinks I do not know that the “Club des Jacobins” were French wrote to admonish me against advising the “Iranian enemy” of the United States
    Illegitimati non carborundum…

  38. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Hmmm, this may change the dynamics a bit…
    PM Resigns

  39. João Carlos says:

    I really hope we don’t see a war with Iran. However, Obama is gaining terrain and I fear we will see an attack before the elections.
    They will say: “USA will need a strong leader that can win this war”. Well, the american public can eat that bait, so maybe the White House try that gambit.
    Bombing will not make the iranian’s governement colapse. The first thing they will make is close the strait. How much time can they mantain the strait closed? Who knows, the american fleet will go in total “superior force” mode for try to open it and things can be really hot at that small strech of sea. Well, we will see what cards Iran have for throw at the american fleet there. If they really have sunburns we will see if they work or not. If spear now is superior to shield we can see some trouble.
    They don’t need win the game, only mantain the strait closed longer time possible. Oil price above US$500 and depression will win the game for them.
    Our destiny is at the hands of people not smart…
    João Carlos
    Sorry teh bad english, my native language is portuguese

  40. jonst says:

    TomB…
    I would argue it is not our business to tell Iran they can, or can not, have a nuclear weapon. How would the US react if some nation/s told us that?
    It may be a dumb/dangerous/counterproductive/and indeed, self destructive, for Iran to build a weapon. But it is their choice, and their right. As it is the Israeli right. The Pakistani right, the Indian right, and so on.

  41. TomB says:

    jonst wrote concerning Iran getting nukes:
    “But it is their choice, and their right….”
    jonst:
    Well that’s an interesting way of putting it.
    So as to not be misunderstood however I’d first just note that at this point all I’m saying is that I have some serious doubts that Iran getting nukes would be in our long-term interest. (Even aside from what seems the practical reality that if Iran ever went mano a mano with Israel we’d get dragged into same.) And I’m in no way saying that even if the Iranians were indisputably getting nukes that the positive benefit to us from attacking it would outweigh the downsides. Indeed I doubt they would.
    But aside from this I think that your reliance on a “rights” construct or paradigm or whatever you want to call it in this sphere isn’t really applicable, is it? Seems to me it’s neither a reality, nor indeed even a desirable thing given this stage of the world’s development.
    With domestic law obviously the idea of “rights” makes sense because everyone is under an undisputable obligation to honor same, based on the understanding that if one’s rights are infringed on there will be some way to vindicate same.
    But internationally that’s not the case. You allow yourself to get invaded and ain’t nobody got the “legal” obligation to come and help get you uninvaded if they don’t want to.
    Countries, at least so far, have never really ceded their right to take whatever actions they think are in their interests, and especially in their self-defense interest. (Which of course historically has meant damn near anything.) So, for instance, even when they sign treaties, they always reserve the right to abrogate same.
    So where does that leave things? Well, we can use your terms and say, for instance, that Mexico has the “right” to build up a huge army on the U.S. border and try to develop nuclear weapons and glower at the U.S. and threaten us with invasion. But then on the other hand we have the “right” to try to stop ’em too, even if that means declaring war on them.
    So with all due respect I don’t see how your terminology really advances anything. If we decide that Iran, exercising it’s “rights” and obtaining nukes is against our interest, we then have the corresponding “right” to take whatever action we want to forestall that—and suffer the consequences that others have the “right” to try inflict on us for doing so.
    Maybe in the distant future enough countries will band together to make a global version of the “social contract” and live under some comprehensive set of laws. And certainly the “legalizing” of international relations has somewhat been increasing and maybe this will all turn out to be a good thing. But for now, it just ain’t so.
    All this however is a bit astray from what was really my main question to all you out there which is again whether Iran getting nukes—or even obtaining the ready ability to produce them via getting enriched uranium—isn’t in fact really a very worrisome thing for us and clearly not in our interests. You somewhat *sound* as if you don’t dispute that it isn’t either, but I’m not sure and would be interested in hearing any further thoughts on the issue.
    Cheers,

  42. Curious says:

    Is not like making nuke is terribly super high tech.
    Composite centrifuge will soon proliferate like cheap pimp my ride car fender.
    on top of that solid state laser technology is developing fast (ie, that australian laser separation is going to look like microwave oven within a decade.)
    another difficult to make material, heavy water and tritium are all standard refining/reactor technology.
    People are going to die because of stupidity and hysteria first.

  43. Cieran says:

    Jonst:
    I would argue it is not our business to tell Iran they can, or can not, have a nuclear weapon. How would the US react if some nation/s told us that?
    Actually, it is very much our business, via our role as a founding member of the IAEA.
    Iran is a non-nuclear signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), so it has formally given up its right to create nuclear weapons, in exchange for gaining the right to develop peaceful nuclear technology such as power plants.
    And thus as long as Iran’s uranium enrichment program is geared towards civilian electricity generation purposes (and providing that they permit all relevant IAEA inspections), they have every legal right to a peaceful nuclear technology program.
    But Iran does not have a “right” to develop nuclear weapons (i.e., non-peaceful nuclear technology), unless it renounces the NPT, in which case it should have a hard time gaining the know-how and technology it needs to make its nuclear programs function.
    The US is also a signatory of the NPT, but since the US is a nuclear weapons state, our rights and responsibilities are different than Iran’s. We have the right to keep our nuclear weapons, but we also have the responsibility not to proliferate such technology to non-weapons states.
    So the comparison between the US and Iran is not appropriate here, at least according to relevant international treaties.
    And just for completeness, Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, and hence its nuclear weapons program renders much of US aid to Israel patently illegal. That’s why both countries publicly pretend that f Israel has no nuclear arsenal, which further enlarges the hypocrisy surrounding US nuclear policies in the region.
    Israel obtained its know-how for nuclear WMD from France, but that was long before France signed the NPT, so the French are largely off the hook on that front.

  44. Kieran says:

    TomB
    I’m certainly skeptical that an Iranian nuclear capability would be a major worry, given a rational US/Israeli response to that situation.
    Seems to me there are two arguments why Iran having nukes would be bad.
    #1 is that it could considerably augment their regional prestige, enhance their bargaining position, and make it harder for the US to push them around. That seems to me to be true, but basically non-catastrophic and part and parcel of the regional power shifts the US itself helped set in motion. Tough.
    #2 is the idea that Iran’s leaders are somehow crazy enough to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. Frankly, I’m not happy with nukes being in anyone’s hands, but I think Iran’s leadership has shown itself to be fairly pragmatic, blowhards aside. They would be a less worrying nuclear state than North Korea or Pakistan.
    You’ve raised a number of scary scenarios like Iran suddenly shutting down the Straits of Hormuz or passing nuclear secrets to terrorists. But just think of all the scary scenarios you could come up with about what the Russians could do with their nukes. So if you’re arguing that we need to worry about Iranian nukes at the same time as turning a blind eye to a Russian (or Pakistani, or Israeli…) nuclear capability on a vastly greater scale, I’d like to hear some kind of argument as to why you think Iran deserves or requires special punitive treatment. Does it boil down to you fearing them as uniquely irrational?

  45. David Habakkuk says:

    Kieran,
    Unfortunately there are good arguments as to why an Iranian nuclear capability has problems, which are distinct from those of TomB.
    A central point is that Western ‘deterrence’ theory — which focused on the technical requirements for stable nuclear balances — took very inadequate account of the concrete problems facing nuclear war planners. While the academic theorists believed that the U.S. nuclear posture was based upon a second-strike retaliatory capability, the actual nuclear posture was based on ‘launch-on-warning’ — as was the Russian.
    A key problem here is the vulnerability of command and control systems, which helps to create very grave tensions between what in the jargon are called ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ control. The requirement to ensure that one’s arsenal cannot be disabled by surprise attack is in inherent tension with the requirement that unauthorised launch be made impossible. There are no very good resolutions to this tension.
    A key text on this is the 1993 study The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War, by the former Minuteman launch control officer turned academic Bruce Blair. The essential accuracy of his analysis of the U.S. strategic posture was confirmed by the former Strategic Air Command chief General Lee Butler, in an interview published in Jonathan Schell’s 1998 study The Gift of Time.
    The central arguments both of Blair and of Butler are available in abbreviated form in articles on the former’s web page at the World Security Institute — see http://www.cdi.org/program/issue/index.cfm?ProgramID=32&issueid=110.
    As Blair has demonstrated, when you have two arsenals configured for launch on warning, the dangers of accidental nuclear use become very real. The same logic which establishes that the risks of accidental nuclear war were much higher in the Cold War than was generally realised suggests that they will be as high or higher in other nuclear standoffs.
    Moreover, the decentralisation of command authority and effective control which would be required to prevent — for example — an Iranian nuclear arsenal being totally vulnerable to a preemptive U.S. strike will inevitably greatly increase the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
    In saying this, I am not intending to give aid and comfort to those who advocate the disastrous course of an attack on Iran. My own strong feeling is that in the long run the alternatives are either very substantial nuclear proliferation leading to nuclear weapons being used in anger, or the kind of abolitionist agenda which was championed by Kennan and Gorbachev — and to which Paul Nitze came round before he died.
    As I noted in an exchange with TomB and Andy in April, this agenda was endorsed last year by George Schultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn in an article in the Wall Street Journal — see http://www.2020visioncampaign.org/pages/113/Kissinger_Shultz_Perry__Nunn_call_for_A_World_Free_of_Nuclear_Weapons.
    Incidentally, on Blair’s website one finds an encomium to Nunn, as the only American political figure to have to come to grips with the realities of nuclear war planning. As a long-standing admirer of Nunn, I cannot resist quoting it at length:
    ‘Presidents were innocent victims of the prevailing overarching principle of deterrence based on second-strike retaliation, never the wiser to the thorough-going engineering of the complex early warning and command system operations so as to deny them any semblance of wartime options aligned with that very principle. Almost no senior civilian official, let alone president, ever caught on to the egregious deception that kept them in the dark about their true options in wartime. One exception was former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga. His close scrutiny of nuclear affairs, combined with a keen intellect, led him to realize that the United States long ago adopted a strategy of launch on warning (LOW) – that is ordering and carrying out U.S. missile launches after early warning sensors indicate an incoming nuclear missile strike but before enemy missiles hit their targets on American soil. He came to this realization quite independently, without helpful testimony from strategic nuclear commanders who doggedly denied their reliance on LOW in public, and virtually all private, fora. The official dogma they expressed was that the United States had the capability to launch on warning and a potential adversary should not assume that a U.S. attack would be ridden out, but that the United States did not rely on LOW. For Nunn, however, it was clear that the apparatus of nuclear control and release was geared to do just that. If it looked, sounded, and walked like a LOW duck, then call it a LOW duck. Nunn declared it a duck, understood that this duck carried serious risks of starting a nuclear war by accident, and proceeded to call for a relaxation of the nuclear hair-trigger on both U.S. and Russian missiles in order to alleviate this danger.
    ‘Nunn almost certainly did not fully grasp the commitment to LOW embodied in the nuclear operational world, however. Only the most senior nuclear generals understood the imperative, and they simply refused to admit it, owing to their justifiable apprehension that such an admission would stir enormous public controversy and almost certainly force them to revise operational practices in ways that would put the viability of the U.S. SIOP in jeopardy.’

  46. TomB says:

    Kieran wrote:
    “Does it boil down to you fearing them as uniquely irrational?”
    No no, not at all. In fact, puckishly put, in that regard my fear is just that they’d be *conventionally* irrational, like everyone else, which is worry enough. So aside from the fact that they *have* had a big bout of big instability and extremism in the fairly recent past, the rest of my concern is simply the … non-unique, “mundane” aspects of the idea. That is, your #1.
    And in this regard I note that you too seem to agree that #1 is true, and then in your other comments further seem to concede that indeed them having nukes would not be in our best interests again by saying that same is just “tough” because of course (as is indeed the case) we contributed to the problem, others are nuked up too, and etc., etc.
    I suspect however that you see some limit to the consequences of these latter observations though, no? I mean, what if Iran *was* doing much more sabre rattling? Or even hinting that it would pass along nukes to terrorists?
    I.e., you’re not denying that it’s not in our interests to see them with nukes, you’re just saying that taking actions beyond X to deny them same is *more* hurtful to those interests, right?
    So where’s your X? Clearly it seems you’d agree (as with me) that the use of military force goes beyond it. But then why should we disagree with the present attempts to get them to back off from enrichment given that all it’s involved so far is the *threat* of the use of military force?
    I.e., if the present attempts succeed without the use of force, shouldn’t we be applauding same—and Bush?

    I guess what bothers me most is indeed thinking through all the unpredictable variations that your well-put #1 might involve. Could we really live with Iran essentially dictating the supply and price of oil from the entire Mideast? Or arming its islamic neighbors with nukes? Or joining with Pakistan in threatening or even attacking India? And what about that uglier than ugly fact that our politics is such that in any hostilities between Israel and Iran we’d be hostage to Israel’s interests? I don’t like it a bit, but it’s there. So what’s worse, whacking Iran now conventionally, or letting them get a bomb and then having to incinerate Tehran later as even the Lefties like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama seem to indicate that we’d do?
    I dunno, like I said, the more I think about it the more I would like to see a non-nuclear capable Iran. And this is true even though what I’d like even better is to see an *entirely* nuke-free ME and wish we’d put the screws to Israel to agree to same. But given that’s not what is going to happen….
    I dunno….
    Cheers,

  47. Curious says:

    Moreover, the decentralisation of command authority and effective control which would be required to prevent — for example — an Iranian nuclear arsenal being totally vulnerable to a preemptive U.S. strike will inevitably greatly increase the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
    :David Habakkuk | 31 July 2008 at 08:15 AM”
    Would’t that prevent Israel/US to do unstable regime change? So that will induce calmer approach to confrontation right? That’s good. It works with Pakistan. We certainly doesn’t act like we own Pakistan with their nuke floating around. We consider Pakistan political stability before doing really shoddy regime change.
    Second, I highly doubt we even care if anybody has nuclear or not. The entire eastern europe collapses while all of them having nuclear weapons. All of them are unstable. We even mess around in place like Ukraine and Romania.
    So, nuclear or no nuclear if the crazies want war, they gonna do it.
    I seriously doubt Israel is that afraid about getting nuke. They are using the fear as an excuse to use US force to eliminate their rval. (They can’t even win conventional war against semi formal army, and they want full war against Iran and Syria? at 1:5 kill ratio, everybody in Israel will be killed in less than a year. Nevermind nuclear. )
    I for one think nuclear will not change anything. It merely bring different weapon into the confrontation. (observe Israel. Their political leadership is highly unstable, very confrontational, weak economy, ..etc. Owning nuke doesn’t give them security at all.)
    Every players in the area still wants war.
    I for one think, oly “massive” number of nuclear weapon will change the fundamental geopolitical stability in the middle east. 20-30K warheads type of situation.

  48. TomB says:

    P.S.
    And as re David Habakkuk’s fine comments which weren’t up when I posted my last, I’d say that they are indeed relevant to my concerns given that they’re the kind of … systems problems that *further* make things dicey in any future serious clash of interests we have with a nuke-capable Iran.
    I dunno though, I dunno. I’d sure prefer us to have a more “splendid isolationist” posture in the world, but that just ain’t reality, is it? And I sure don’t like us seeming to be the heavy of the world all the time, but….
    Cheers,

  49. Curious says:

    k, here is something to think about.
    Incoming Israel PM. (Bibi or Livni? Or somebody even crazier and more hawkish?)
    So on Israel side, the leadership attitude toward war will remain exactly the same in the next 6-8 yrs. They will keep pushing washington through various asset to start a war with Iran. Nuclear or no nuclear in Iran. They just have to eliminate Iran.
    I think Iranian calculation will be. Obama enters office and bring a very ‘Clintonian’ approach to the middle east. More active diplomatic engagement, less shooting, but largely hostile to Iran and very pro-Israel. (Obama’s entire foreign advisors for the middle east consisted on old Clinton hand, very pro Israel)
    So Iranian logical move would be nuclear and always prepare for war. Because the combination of ultra hawkish Israel leadership + pro Israel washington DC will keep hostile attitude toward Iran until there is regime change in Iran with leadership that they want.
    So that will be the big theme for next 4-6 yrs.
    —-
    Regarding Iran nuclear weapon itself. I think Iran will do
    a) remain vague. They have upper hand and keeping everybody guessing if they have nuke or not itself is valuable strategic asset.
    b) they are not going to have enough nuclear warhead in the next 4 – 6 years to go full war. (not even deterrence)… at most they will have 10-15 warheads plus low accuracy medium range missiles. If they can put them all together nicely, they are still far from useful strategic weapon. So the next step for them is developing higher accuracy and more warheads.
    c) Obviously the Iranian notices that the current situation is very good for them, why to to actual war when they are already winning economically and diplomatically? Why not keep doing what they are doing now?
    d) Nuclear tech is highly sough by a lot of countries, specially with high oil price and unstable middle east situation. It’s Iran giant diplomatic asset. Their ticket to strong position in global market and diplomacy if coupled with capable national policy and global geopolitical strategy.
    ————
    So my guess …
    more of the same next 2-4 years.
    Even if Israel launch an attack, nothing will change. It will only strengthen Iranian international position. And paint Israel as aggressor. (I don’t think for a minute Israel can drop enough bomb to destroy anything meaningfully.)
    Israel… can launch nuclear strike first. That will be a game changer.
    But then Israel destruction is assured. The middle east and world backlash will finish them in about 5 years after the strike.

  50. Kieran says:

    David
    Fascinating. And to your knowledge, how did this work on the other side? Was the Russian leadership likewise kept in the dark about the true nature of their own nuclear strategy?
    Might one solution be to rotate members of the core leadership keeping one tucked away with the launch codes in a hidden/superhardened bunker at all times? This could ensure the ability of the command and control element to ‘ride out’ a strike.
    I take your point that the risks of nuclear war may be higher than generally recognized. I would rephrase my position to say not that Iranian nukes would not be a worry but that they would not be a special worry. I remain unconvinced that the Israel-Iran dyad need be any more intrinsically unstable than, say, the India-Pakistan dyad, or that they are uniquely likely to pass weapons to terrorists.
    Someone, perhaps the Colonel, is going to tell me that Israel lacks strategic depth, and that makes the dyad specially unstable. I don’t see it. Strategic depth makes sense when talking about conventional war, in which a first strike is necessary to avoid the possibility of being suddenly overrun. In a full-scale nuclear war of assured destruction, where is the strategic depth even for the US? Is the massive damage that could have been inflicted on the US by Russia’s arsenal really so much less proportionally than the damage that could be inflicted on Israel by a few Iranian weapons?
    I return to what I said earlier, that if Israel’s leadership can live with thousands of Syrian chemical rockets and missiles pointed at their cities, they can live with a few Iranian nukes.

  51. Kieran says:

    TomB
    I think it is odd to say you are against the use of force but for the threat of the use of force. If you are making such a threat you have to stand by it or lose all credibility – a choice the US now faces.
    You bring up, again, a number of nightmare scenarios, like Pakistan and Iran joining forces to attack India. You could just as easily say, what if India and China join forces to attack Russia? The significance is not just in the depth of the nightmare but in the probability of happening. US whacks Iran: 100% chance of regional conflagration. What are the probabilities on your nightmare scenarios? Driven by intangible and unquantifiable fear, people sometimes make choices that do very tangible and quantifiable damage.
    I think the ‘red lines’ are clear – no threat to the oil supply, no existence-threatening attack on Israel, no nukes to terrorists. But I think the Iranians understand perfectly well that they can’t get away with these things. Beyond that, it’s open season.
    So if the Iranians cross the red lines – OK, it’s war, and the Iranians know that. But that simply isn’t what’s going on and it isn’t what’s likely to happen if you accept the premise that the Iranians are no more irrational than us. If there is a war with Iran it will not be because our vital interests were in danger but because our grandest ambitions were unsatisfied.

  52. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    There were US-Iranian contacts under way which the “Axis of Evil” speech of Jan 2002 killed, I am told.
    It is logical the Iranian side would come back in 2003 via the Swiss to explore possibilities.
    Flynt has presented the 2003 initiative and context well.

  53. Curious says:

    I remain unconvinced that the Israel-Iran dyad need be any more intrinsically unstable than, say, the India-Pakistan dyad, or that they are uniquely likely to pass weapons to terrorists.
    Posted by: Kieran | 31 July 2008 at 12:53 PM

    let’s just say, passing nuclear weapon to terrorist is the biggest nonsense there is. nuclear technology is VERY expensive and required special handling. And there are far cheaper technology more suited for terrorism. Cheaper and more effective. Would Iran hand a half a ton bomb to hezbollah to detonate it in the middle of Tel Aviv? gimme a break. Because Israel would know exactly where that bomb come from (nevermind if hezbollah can deliver it to downtown Tel Aviv.)
    If it is nuclear attack by sea. why bother using terrorists? Iran certainly have man power to do it themselves. Same goes with small size nuclear warhead.
    (Again, the VERY problem with nuclear weapon. It’s like delivering letter with your signiture on it. EVERYBODY KNOWS where a bomb come from! isotopic composition, the engineering of bomb itself, modus, etc)
    About Israel-Iran MAD equilibrium. I think Israel and Iran have different conflict quality to it compared to Pakistan-India. Israel external connection makes it impossible for the conflict to reach MAD equilibrium. (US weapon technology supply, Jewish community financial support, intel supply, religious element, Palestinian/arab conflict, etc)
    This is why Israel can afford such long and sustained hostility against all its neighboor. There is no other country that can do that without massive external supply of weapon and backing.
    so for eg. if Iran gets nuclear weapon. Israel will demand congress to loosen up NPT agreement so Israel can have more uranium supply. (if not outright demand of nuclear warhead, protection against Iran attack, etc etc.)
    Iran then has to react by seeking bigger ally, Russia, China.
    What makes Israel problem so unstable is the fact US congress is playing. The fickle domestic politics combined with ethnic sentiment, chaotic middle east geopolitics makes it almost impossible for Iran-Israel conflict to equilibrate to something that resemble cold war peace.
    ad infinitum.
    Remember the reason Israel is afraid of Iran, is because they attack lebanon in the 80’s which lead to occupation and rise of Hezbollah. The official reaosn the attack lebanon last year was hezbollah kidnapping. And that war failure is squarely blamed on Iran involvement.
    No doubt Iraq occupation will gives rise a new movement or regime that is hostile to Israel and US interest.
    so regardless what Israel plan to do, they now have to deal with the entire mess created by the neocon.
    That’s what war is about.

  54. jonst says:

    TomB,
    Personally, I think appearing as the “heavy” in the world is a strategic and tactical blunder of the first order. And I think the same thing about those that would engage in preemptive wars. There is, of course, always a risk in ‘waiting too long’…but it is nothing compared to moving too quickly. I think FDR understood that best.

  55. J says:

    there is no low that cheney won’t stoop to:
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/31/cheney-proposal-for-iran-war/
    To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them

  56. TomB says:

    Kieran wrote:
    “I think it is odd to say you are against the use of force but for the threat of the use of force.”
    Oh of course I am, and so are you in the final analysis in all kinds of situations I’d bet. Countries, and even individuals, are always expressly and impliedly reserving the right to use force (or degrees of force) in far more circumstances than they know they either would or could employ. After all the alternative is to declare to everyone “okay, you can take A, B and C of mine, or do X, Y or Z to me and I’ll do nothing.” And of course with many many things that’s exactly the case so what is even mere silence on such matters other than a bluff to imply otherwise? And beyond that everything else is just variations on the theme.
    And, after all, the only logical alternative is to *prefer* war to the lesser alternative of a mere threat of same, no?
    You also said further:
    “You bring up, again, a number of nightmare scenarios, like Pakistan and Iran joining forces to attack India. You could just as easily say, what if India and China join forces to attack Russia? The significance is not just in the depth of the nightmare but in the probability of happening.”
    Well, just because there are other dangerous situations in the world not only doesn’t seem an argument to allow more to develop, but indeed would seem to argue to at least some degree in the direction of preventing same, wouldn’t it?
    I take your incisive point about probabilities needing to be taken into account as well as the depth of their dangers though. And wonder maybe if you haven’t put your finger on the precise crux of the whole issue. Just how likely is it that a nuke-capable Iran would lead to very very bad things? And as regards same I guess I’d put that at about a #2 on an ascending #1-10 scale of probability, although some of the surrounding arab countries seem to think it’s a much bigger worry than that which I think ought to be taken into account.
    On the other hand though I still can’t get over that we are talking about an awful lot of depth here. Perhaps greatest of all in my view in the frightful possibility that when faced with a nuke-capable opponent we ourselves would use ours, even if needed.
    It just made me kind of shake my head when I heard Mrs. Clinton seeming to talk so lightly about us “obliterating” Iran for instance. My God, I thought, isn’t saying something like this so off-handedly so as to pander for votes taking things to a whole different moral level beyond just the usual rhetorical mendacity of our politicians?
    And, again, as Habakkuk notes, just anyone additional *having* the suckers creates additional risks, of a number of different natures. (Dissemination to others, proliferation by others as defensive measures, wrongful launches, etc., etc.)
    So I dunno. Getting back to my initial baseline question I note though that you again don’t seem to be denying that Iran getting nuke-capable would indeed not be in the interests of the U.S. or the world. (And indeed by comparing where that development could lead to a Russian/Chinese confrontation you can even seem to acknowledge it could come to being in such a league.) And I further note that no-one here seems to be arguing otherwise either. So it seems to just come down to the extent the U.S. and indeed the world should go to try to deter that.
    For my part I guess I’d say that if the present initiative of the Security Council members succeeds—even if it needs the threat of use of force—I suspect that would on the whole turn out to be a good thing. Going further than that though, even to a blockade which is an act of war … I don’t think I’d go that far. As you say, we’ve lived with lots of other probably worse things.
    In any event I’m glad I raised the question given all the interesting thinking you and everyone else has provided so thanks.
    Cheers,

  57. Curious says:

    And I further note that no-one here seems to be arguing otherwise either. So it seems to just come down to the extent the U.S.
    Posted by: TomB | 31 July 2008 at 11:22 PM

    probably the best one can argue for nuclear Iran. It stops us from not thinking before doing stupid things like regime change, invading another middle east country and all evils that raise from such exercise.
    Containing Israel aggression would be another. By having nuclear Iran, Israel motive will be very transparent in domestic politics, since Iran really has no capability to strike US mainland nor strategic interest. Israel operators in DC really have to explain US involvement with Iran in term of clear cut national interest instead of general vague term like GWOT, terrorism, etc.
    Lastly, hopefully people start waking up against dependency on foreign oil. It doesn’t make sense to spend $.8-$2T to get cheap oil or protect Israel.
    With that much money, might as well start implementing next generation car engine.
    Right now, anything that wakes people up from wrong analysis done by DC think-tank like PNAC paper is good.
    Maybe after that the question if Iran having nuclear is good or bad from general scheme of thing can be answer.

  58. J says:

    all,
    ray mcgovern is interviewed and gives his take on the likely consequences from a military strike on iran.
    http://216.240.133.177/archives32/Glenn/2008/08/Glenn_2_080208_110000.mp3

  59. WOW is this a terrific post and thread. Not really dated in any ways.
    Who could have guessed? PL is my candidate.

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