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March 07, 2006

Comments

Thanks so much for another very important post. I hope you saw the pic over at watertiger's of Bolton's deliberately incendiary choice of AIPAC as a platform for giving his Iran speech. K Street (driving pre mid term fund raising) meets cherry picking the intelligence. What a complete debasement of our rep to the UN. I gave the Senate Dems a pass on Iraq. They weren't 100% sure, as we are now, that DeadEye was wrong when he said, "I think we'll be greeted as liberators." Interested in your opinion about what Dems can do right now to prevent Bush from bombing Iran. I can't think of anything that would unify Sunni and Shia, Arab and Persian against Israel faster (and drive up the price of oil) than a cruise missle attack on Iran.
OT, do you know if Dubai is primarily Sunni? I wonder if the whole "Ports deal" is an attempt to prop up Sunni's in Saudi Arabia.

ew, I linked your post over at FDL at 9:02 and here's what came back.
"John Casper 9:02
IED devices supplied by Iran was at the top of ABC's 5:30 news broadcast last night. About 5 minutes of trying to convince viewers of how dangerous Iran has become.
Combined with Bolton's BS, this thing is really looking like the run-up we witnessed with Iraq.
Someone said: "Beware the Ides of March." I am really starting to believe this will happen, if not on the 15th, sometime soon.
Also, unleaded gas jumped from $1.29 gal. to $1.49 in our area over the weekend. Gotta get us prepared ya know.
Apple Canyon 2 | 03.07.06 - 9:35 am "|

AC2 mentioned his gas prices are off by a dollar each.

The Newshog "scoop" mocked a nameless "expert" (the quotes around expert are Newshog's), implying that the person was not to be trusted. That expert? Richard Clarke, one of the most respected critics of the Bush administration. While I do think Clarke is more hawkish than many Dems realize, I don't see the merit in being derisive about his opinions, or hiding his identity behind the deragority pronoun "pet expert."

Jim E, agree with you (and noted in the body of the post), thanks for raising that point. Clarke knows his stuff, and at least had the sense that we shouldn't go to war in Iraq before we finished the war in Afghanistan.

I'm not sure how to prevent Bush from going to war if he plans to go. There are so many checks against it. We can't afford it. We don't have the military to do it. We haven't adequately thought through the consequences. If Bush manages to take us to war in spite of all these really compelling reasons not to go, then he likely will do so through some extra-constitutional maneuver (I can see him claiming the war resolution for Afghanistan justifies going into Iran). I'd like to think the Dems could prevent that. Or the Military could do so. But I'm not seeing anything that says they can. Consider: John Murtha can't even get a lot of traction for his Iraq pull-out, which is presumably the best the Dems and the military have to offer (seeing as how the military seems to be voicing their dissent through Murtha). And Murtha hasn't even begun to make a case for or against Iran yet.

Why would the Iranians do anything so stupidly provocative when they're so far ahead? We've wiped out the Taliban and Saddam Hussein for them, have brought to power their Iraqi Shi'ite clients, and, to top it all off, have bogged ourselves down in quagmire in Iraq which is bit by bit eating up our ground forces. We've handed them a considerable strategic victory. Why would they want to endanger it? But the Neo-Cons have wanted a war with them all along. Smells like another faked dossier to me. I respect Clarke too but I don't see his analysis adding up. Perhaps Clarke is a hammer in search of nails?

"Why would the Iranians do anything so stupidly provocative when they're so far ahead?" Excellent comment imo.

Why would they do it?

Because they want to make sure the Shiite militias can hold their own. I don't find that that strange.

I bet I haven't watched a network news b'cast in a year, but I did happen to see this report. I was immediately sceptical without quite knowing why - only subconciously remembering the other story. A weird feeling.

Iran is complicated. Bush is dangerous as hell, but being only anti-war makes me feel a little uncomfortable - like leaving a flank open - because it cedes everything else to the fug-ups in charge. The mullahs are our enemies, too, in the end. I am not and will never be a neoconservative, but even half-assed (perhaps especially half-assed) philosophies reveal truths which their adherents don't necessarily see. In practice, the Neocon foreign policy idea is just a reaction to 'realism'; it's crude, binary, parochial/institutional ('realism' is all wrong; our way is all right). However, the valuable insight to it is that there is more than one way to promote democracy in the world. Hitchens has a piece in which he suggests Bush have a modified 'Nixon in China' moment: simply recognize Iran, for our common foe in al-Qaeda and other reasons. I don't know if that's a serious proposal or not (Hitchens is a bit starry-eyed, to put it mildly), but the idea has some appeal; anyway, we definitely need some creativity about ME policy, and simply reacting to Bush isn't it. Something roughly in the same ballpark would've made more sense in Iraq as well - some variation of Gary Hart's proposal to 'flood Iraq with inspectors'; some non-war way for the world to 'be there' as Iraq imploded post-Saddam. Of course that would've taken skill and creativity...

Actually, deposing the Iranian government by force makes more sense than what we did in Iraq. Persia is a real, coherent country with an unpopular government. Hitchens quotes an Iranian as saying '"Would it be possible for the Americans to invade just for a few days, get rid of the mullahs and the weapons, and then leave?". Anecdotal, but very sweet, and not necessarily unrepresentitive of real feelings in Iran. Too bad we have a government full of a cynicism deeper than Kissinger's.

I don't think Bush can invade Iran now, but it would be absolutely typical of the 'admin.' to want to. Their MO is: always raise the stakes. If they ever do it, I'd expect the situation to look OK for a minute and then devolve, like everything else they do.


You raise a lot of really important points, jonnybutter.

I'm not anti-war per se. I'm anti this war. So long as we use nukes (or anything Iran does in Iraq, so long as the sovereign Iraqi government doesn't complain) as our justification, then we will avoid a discussion of the real reasons they want to go to war in Iran--because unless we gain uncontested control of the ME soon, then our entire way of life will become a lot more expensive, at least. If we had THAT discussion, then a bunch of Americans would pull their heads out of their rearends, and decide maybe we ought to consider what parts of the American way of life are worth saving, and what are worth dying for. Absent that discussion, though, it seems clear to me that BushCo is not approaching this to achieve real objectives. They want to hold onto something unsustainable, something that probably shouldn't be sustained.

In theory I agree in principle with your point about "anti-war." Check out our debt? Who will fund another war? If China or the Middle East starts selling our Treasury Bills that they have already accumulated, our economy is toast.
Look at the map; we have Iran surrounded on all sides by our "on the ground," combat forces. If anyone inside Iran were serious about overthrowing their government, they would have done it.
We have to "clean up our side of the street." That means putting a dollar a gallon tax on gasoline. That will signal to the rest of the world that we are serious about paying down our debt and it will cut our dependence on relatively inexpensive Middle Eastern oil.

"Deposing the Iranian government by force?" WTF? With what army? I've heard of bombing purported nuclear sites, but not Tehran itself.

Iran is three times the size of Iraq and has 2 1/2 times its population. Just how do we depose the mullahs by force in any way short of nuking them?

"We" don;t have iran surrounded. Afghanistan, Iraq, former Societ Republics and Pakistan have Iran surrounded, plus the Gulf.

We have 130,000 troops in Iraq who can barely move or be resupplied without great risk and can't control that country, and what, 5,000 troops in Afghanistan? Have you looked at the topography of these countries? It isn't a sweep up the Euphrates/Tirgris valleys. War with Iran (as opposed to a surgical bombing campaign that somehow doesn't provoke opposition and more violence in Iraq) is a chimera, a wet dream.

The Iraqi Shi'ite militias would only need IEDs if they were turning on us. An IED arms race between them and the Sunni-Ba'athist-Qaeda faction doesn't add up. For a civil war, the Shi'ites would need different weapons, the same mix of infantry and heavy weapons they'd need to rule with. They certainly don't need weapons for use against us. The longer the US garrison stays in Iraq the better it is both for Iran and for the Iraqi Shi'ites. We get weaker, they get stronger, (we're building them an army), and the Sunnis get discredited in Iraq. This story doesn't add up except as provocation or an excuse for war.

Iran & China-baiting is just a new neocon thing. The whole idea of invading and deposing a sovereign government should be thoroughly repulsive to any to any thinking person. It must tweak the right that Iran has new oilfields & that Japan and China and other E. Asian countries are getting in on the deals. The neocons worry that the Saudi government will be overthrown according to some. And Joseph Lieberman has said that *it is inevitable that there will be military conflict over oil with China.* But maybe if we rid ourselves of the neocon fantasy of world domination and global conflict, armageddon and the rapture, we might be able to live and work out our problems peacably, work out our econmic problems and not hand all the tax cuts to the filthy rich, and use diplomacy again.

Mimi MAP>>>http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/middleeast.html
The US has very lethal forces including Air Supremacy in Turkey (Iran's Northern border), Afghanistan (Iran's Eastern border)Iraq (Iran's Western border), and Bahrain, Dubai (Iran's Southern border).
Mimi, I don't want to attack Iran. What the corporate media have failed to communicate to the American people is that Iran has every right to feel extremely threatened by US GROUND forces that have surrounded them. We, the Middle East, and the World is imo very fortunate that Iran has not reacted to what is EXTREME US provocation.
I agree we are not going to "invade" Iran, but you can see from the geography how the Iranians might not agree.
I always have a lot of respect for your posts and comments. If I wrote something else above that is unclear or inaccurate, please let me know what it is. Your comment about topograhpy, I believe is unjustified imo from the Iranian's pov. The Atlantic Ocean is topographical and that didn't stop us either. Your comments about the dangers of resupply only apply, so far as I know, to Iraq, the expense of resupply to our national debt is a whole other problem. I agree that resupply in Iraq is dangerous, but I don't think it's going to be of much consolation to the Iranian armed forces.

John Shreffler, a lot of "experts" are predicting that if the U.S. pulls out completely, and no one else intervenes, the Sunnis will claim everything in Iraq that isn't currently held by the Kurds. Is that accurate in your opinion? Appreciated your analysis of IED's.

EW:

I'm not anti-war per se. I'm anti this war.

I am too. Paradoxically, I'm against practically whatever this administration does because it's them, but the 'practically' is important to have in there for our own sakes (not the administration's).

I'm sorry my comment was not more coherent (but why start now?!). What I'm worried about is US politics. It seems that, for a lot of dems, the political lesson of the Iraq war is: there are 'Vichy' Dems and Real Dems. My point is that, true or not, that's not the real lesson; the real lesson is that you must never let your opponent define you. This administration has gone farther than any other in explicitly making foreign policy a rigidly partisan thing - fantastically irresponsible, but they get milage out of it because we react in predictable ways. Of course we must oppose them, but rhetorically we must also 'ignore' their phony vision and have a real one of our own. It is not just a one-time political anomaly that people who not only shouldn't be in office, but in some cases should be in jail, won elections in '02 and '04. There is a real political nub there. The crude version is: 'Would you rather have Saddam still in power?'. The more distilled version is 'We believe in Freedom and Libberdy'. What is our retort? 'War is not the answer'. Again, it's quite true, as far as it goes, that war usually isn't the answer, but we are still kind of stuck in a feedback loop of their design. Not trusting the 'administration' to do anything is better (and realistic) and maybe ok for the moment, but it's still only half.

Anyway, easy for me to say, but acceptance of error comes first.

I don't think that having the WH and congress oscillate between dem and repub control in the coming years is satisfactory. It would be a defeat for us, really. There IS no consensus. This is a radical moment, and we have to seize it.

Thanks for clarifying jonnybutter. You raise an important point.

Which of these responses do you think best addresses your concern:

  • We need to invest heavily in building a sustainable economy in the US rather than spending dollars and lives pursuing a foolish quasi-solution in the ME
  • You made the most collosal foreign policy failure in history because you didn't listen to those who predicted secular violence and insurgency. Now, you want us to listen to your wrong-headed solutions again?
  • We need to bring Iran into the international community and, through engagement, mitigate the hostility between Iran and the US and Israel

I'm not sure I understand what level you're addressing.

Sorry, John. But all this talk of war with Iran unnerves me, and I read your post too fast. Of course I agree the Iranians probably feel surrounded, even if what we have is not enough IMHO to depose their government by force. Air superiority just gets us rubble; we can't hold territory with air power unless we are talking about huge, huge civilian casualties of a level that I would hope the US people would reject. The one thing we should have learned from Iraq (and Serbia) is that. It takes ground forces too, and my point is that we don't have them. That wasn't a reaction to you, but the neocons, and johnnybutter's since explained comment that deposing the iranian government by force makes sense. Which, again, I probably read too fast.

The one thing everyone else learned from Iraq is that the US is a danger to any country that it tries tough talk against, except those who really do have nukes.

Mimi, thanks so much for your reply. I agree completely, it unnerves me as well. I continue to look forward to more insightful posts and comments from you.
OT: your point about the exhaustion of our ground forces is imo 100% correct. I just heard Murtha tell Tweety exactly that. Exhausted troops don't make good decisions.

John Casper, if we pull out, the power vacuum would be filled by Iran, which is along with Israel one of the 2 great powers in the Middle East and is next door to Iraq. The betting on the Iraqi Sunnis rest on the facts that they were the army pre-war and the perception that the Iraq Shi'ites have no military traditions. But the Shi'ites would be backed by Iran and the Iranian military establishment is very good, so long as it doesn't engage a US or European force. They nearly took out Iraq in the '80s war using teenagers armed with rifles and they're much better now. None of Arab armies are worth much except Jordan, and none of them can intervene effectively due to geographic and military constraints. Iraq is indefensible whenever Iran is strong. Look at the map.

Emm: "the neocon fantasy of world domination and global conflict, armageddon and the rapture"

That is a beautiful pithy summation of what these guys believe. Since most left-wing readers will automatically home in on "world domination", I'll suggest that the important words here, in terms of understanding what makes these loons tick, are "global conflict" and "armageddon". Heck, and "rapture".

I'd submit a different MO for this Admin (and there are so many): create something out of nothing. Create it by incessant talk, by action, by sheer force of will. The very fact we're all even talking about the possibility of war against Iran -- in the dry language of one more "policy option", no less, weighing pros and cons -- already represents an important victory for these guys.

John S. thanks very much.

John C., you're quite welcome.

EW:

Which of these responses....

HA. All of them! (the third [engage Iran] would be hard to campaign on, obviously).

Here's what I mean. I would bet that most Americans would agree with this statement: after 9/11, it made sense for the US to pay a new and serious attention to ME politics. I agree with that myself. Of course the devil is in the details (!), but the point is that the GOP owns that concept exclusively, general as it is. We cede it to them. We are defined as being against that notion, fair or not. I mean, I would bet money that Rove and Bushie had the 'neo-isolationist' crap 'in the can' and ready to go for months or even years. It's a damned script!

I don't know what level I'm addressing either, exactly. I just want us to build a governing coalition (never absolutely pure) rather than have our own intra-party civil war, and foreign policy is still a big stumbling block. However we campaign, we have to get our own minds straight and come together. Maybe I'm letting the 'sphere influence me too much, but I see so much circular-firing-squad stuff going on, so much fury, even rage. I am just as mad! I might be even madder, because I'm actually old enough to remember pre-Reagan America. But our rage and incoherence is part of their plan. Divide and...

Karl Rove is not a genius. He's a confidence man. The only way to beat a con is to, essentially, ignore him. If he wants us all to take to the streets with antiwar signs, that's not to say we shouldn't do it, but the key is to do whatever we do for reasons of our own. That means we have to have reasons beyond 'Bush sucks!', etc.

I'd like to hear a dem candidate say: "9/11 was a wake up call, for America and the world. It required a fresh look at America's role in the world generally, and in the Muslim world particularly. It required that America use its great wealth, power and example to help bring the world's people closer together. Unfortunately, this government used that moment to make the world fly apart even further. It has made the world much more dangerous, in the middle east and elsewhere, and at home....'

In other words, acknowledge the world, acknowledge that we have a role to play. That's half the battle. THEN go negative - brutally negative. The 'firehouses in Bahgdad' approach might have some temporary appeal, but it's a band-aid. People are scared. Attack the admin. on their supposed 'strong suit'. Invoke 9/11 a lot. Show the inumerable ways they have made the country more vulnerable since then. I know consultants might say 'never mention 9/11!'. I say 'balls' to that. The admin's foreign affairs and security program is a patent failure in every way you can think of absent another attack on Der Homeland....perhaps via a port. It would be off-script for us to charge directly at them. It would also be factual.

I don't know that you even have to define exactly what you would do policy wise in all cases. But definitely co-opt their internationalist, freedom-loving, resolute rhetoric to some extent - because, like my first statement above, there's nothing really wrong with it in its most basic form (because it doesn't necessarily mean invading countries or anything else). Then show how they have fucked everything up, how they have betrayed their own words.

It's risky to actually cross the rubicon and say flat out that our government has made us less secure, but - hell, it has done. Why pretend? If polls are any indication, people are getting it. Either we do some true straight talk or Mister 'Straight Talkā„¢' will weasel in opportunistically.

sorry for the ramble (didn't have time to write a shorter comment!).

Getting back to the old story about the IED with the British design trigger - the story of the trigger design getting to Iraq via the IRA was put out by the British. Would they be likely to lie about this connection?

A much shorter route (one I think Occham would suggest) is that the bomb was British made and deployed.

After all, it's not as if they haven't been caught doing this sort of bullshit.

I know it's not your point about "churning", EW, but thought i'd throw it in there as "ammo" if this particular bit of churning keeps.. well....churning.

I'm staying up late tonight. Relentless propaganda about Iran on the CBS overnight news show right now featuring, unlike Clarke, a true 'pet expert'.

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