Thursday, September 22, 2005
Iran celebrated the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war (itself a weird occasion for a celebration) today with a huge military parade. The propaganda should give us all pause:
As in previous years the highlight of the parade, which included tanks, jets and troops, were six huge trailer-mounted Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of hitting Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf and parts of southeastern Europe.
"If the Global Arrogance wants to attack Iran ... (it) will destroy their countries with these missiles," the parade announcer said.
"God is Great!" the announcer cried repeatedly as the missiles trundled past the presidential viewing platform.
Some of the missiles, which have a range of 1,250 miles, bore banners proclaiming "Israel should be wiped off the map" and "We will trample America under our feet."
Iran's president, Mamhoud Ahmadinejad, said today that Iran "[has] always said we want friendly relations with other countries." But how can he square this with "Israel should be wiped off the map" and tramping America "under our feet"? He can't, and we can't. As he was speaking his own military was showing him to be a liar.
Neither the press nor Western diplomats seem to have pointed out Mamhoud Ahmadinejad's barefaced lie. Neither the press nor the West say anything because they think of these guys as line-drawing leaders of a cartoon country, and they do not want to strengthen the American case for confronting Iran. Indeed, under current circumstances, even the United States may not want to strengthen that case for fear of boxing itself in to another showdown with no support from the Europeans. The result is that the Iranian head of state can flap his gums all day long about Iran's desire for "friendly relations" and why one of the most energy-rich countries on earth needs peaceful nuclear power and nobody even raises an eyebrow when his own military -- not some alleged student demonstrators but the Iranian army -- calls for the destruction of two countries that Iran attacked first (the United States Embassy in 1979 and Israel via Hezbollah).
It may be the case that our options for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions are very limited. We may ultimately have to fall back on a credible threat of retaliation, however questionable the utility of that deterrant may be against a country that believes in suicidal homicide as a legitimate tool of statecraft. But we should not misunderstand how hostile Iran really is and that there are great risks in relying only on deterrence.
I'm confident that Israel will protect its own interests (and therefore ours) by taking appropriate military measures. In the meantime, our Left will seek to reframe Iran as a poor, misunderstood nation, rationally trying to protect its own interests against American domination. The thought of Iran with a nuke is sobering.
Actually, Catchy, I think cakriez was making a prediction. One that will undoubtedly be true in individual examples, but which may not be true for reasonable lefties such as the Scrutiny Hooligans (although I sometimes worry about Uptown).
Appreciate the sentiment, Catch- I wasn't trying to put words in the mouths of leftists ala Rush. My views are based on a limited personal experience. I was involved in a long blog debate with a group of left-leaning centrists (not even far leftists). Demands were made to prove that Iran was anything more than a somewhat paranoid, rational country trying to protect itself against aggression. In their view, Iran's desire to join the nuclear club was perfectly understandable, given American aggression in Iraq and Israel's threatening nuclear capabilities.
Thankfully, the opinions of left and right punidts are and will be irrelevant. The only thing that matters are events and facts. Iran is positioning for conflict, has mobilized troops to the Iraqi border, purged the military leadership and now is creating internal pr to prepare for war.
The real question is do they have the stones, arrogance or whatever else might describe it to launch an assault on American forces in Iraq? Or do they sit still and wait.
Count on them miscalculating. Tyrants usually do...
Nicely put, card. It's amazing to me how quickly everyone jumps to conclusions about one's political persuasions. I'm a liberal hawk who isn't a dittohead. I criticized the left in my first comment. That hardly puts me in Rush Country. Maybe three hours sleep does that to a person though. :)
Catch- you always wants facts... damn. Here are two comments from my exchange back in July.
"We don't actually know if Iran has a nuclear weapons program. They say it's for electricity. It could very well be."
"Do you have any evidence that the government of Iran is not looking out for its own interests? Unless you do, why shouldn't we assume that they are rational actors in this respect? Organizations may be fundamentalist and despotic, yet still be looking after their own self-interest."
I did take the radical leap of assuming that this is how the left will generally react. I could be wrong in my prediction... but I doubt it.
It is amazing how many leftists I know are dead-set against nuclear power in the United States, think that it is immoral that we have it at all, and yet are just fine with the Iranians having it notwithstanding their bottomless oil fields. It is all very weird and tough to reconcile.
Cardinal you're right, opinions are pointless. I distrust Iran very much, but that comes from a broad view of the situation. I don't know the details. I also don't know the sentiment of the people versus their government. They may be for real, but the power and influence that would come with owning nuclear weapons has to be in the back of their minds if not the front.
Cakeriz, I don't think of you as a ditto head. And I know from your opinions that you're far from a right wingnut. Just that statement seemed a little Rushian (making up yet another word) and I've had many people tell me what I'm thinking because I'm one of "them Liberal types".
On a side note, I definitely see the need to control nuclear proliferation, but I also see the irony in telling a country it can't do it's own thing within the borders of it's own country. Especially since we have nuclear weopons. It's like a guy holding a gun telling another guy to put down his gun in the name of peace. It's a very tricky process and I'm surprised any country even considers it. I would be surprised if Iran stops.
Whether Iran has "a right" to have nuclear weaponry is really besides the point. Sure they do. They're a sovereign nation. That's different than whether it is in our interest. Look, we didn't "stop" Pakistan and it's a Muslim country with prodigious nuclear capability. Iran is much more troublesome for us geopolitically because they are our sworn enemy, and the sworn enemy of Israel, an American ally. By the way, they are also the sworn enemy of Iraq, with whom they fought a hideous war that is well within the memory of its people.
So the question is do we believe Iran's current regime to be use nuclear weponry "responsibly" from our perspective.
My aimple answer to that is No, I don't. They will become the regional hegemon, financed by oil, and run as an intolerant, oppressive society. They will further have unusual strategic power over us due to their geographic position in the Persian Gulf. We need to see a free Iran. The question is how do we get it.
Technically, under the non-proliferation treaty, which Iran has signed, it does not have a right to nuclear weapons. It has a right to nuclear power, however. The problem is, their stated reasons for wanting nuclear power and their insistence on developing the entire fuel cycle, when coupled with their poor judgment and revolutionary fervor, are not credible.
Cardinalpark's point still holds, though, and the choices aren't pretty given the suicidal ideology of the regime.
Cardinalpark's comment is most pragmatic and convicing: will Iran use nuclear power responsibly? We're all most apprehensive about this actuality based upon Iran's actions over the last few decades.
My mind races back to 1981, when the Israelis made a similar assessment of Saddam. In retrospect, we probably can agree that Israel reached the right conclusion that unilaterally bombing Iraq's nascent nuclear facility looks like a good thing- despite the international grief that Israel took for its decision.
Hopefully, we (the US or Israel) are far from taking this kind of action with Iran. I'm all for exhausting diplomatic channels, embargoing, pressuring, cajoling, etc, all within rational limits. I'm just not for unilaterally rejecting an Israeli-like solution in this case, recognizing that many facts will be different, i.e., Iran's facilities will likely be underground. Am I excited about this prospect? No. But I recognize that it may be a very real option.
Imagine the following:
1) Iran invades Iraq, reopening the 1981 - 1988 conflict.
2) US and Iraqi troops face enormous initial pressure. The blitzkrieg has caught them by surprise, and they are undermanned. The US mobilizes half a million troops and begins flying sorties aggressively against any missile sites, nuclear sites, etc in Iran.
3) Under the Iranian assault, which initially makes significant ground progress, the US, Britain, Iraq and Israel sign on as allies against Iran. Iraq signs under immense duress, but does so anyway. Fear is motivating. Egypt and Jordan mobilize against Iran and prepare to war with Syria, an undeclared party with ties to Iran.
4) Oil prices skyrocket to $125 per barrel. Iran close the Straits of Hormuz, though the US reopens it.
You get the picture? Iran is the whole ballgame here. Will they sit back and wait, or attack?
My liberal side says "Iran would be much too rational to attack a US-occupied Iraq." My conservative side scoffs, saying, "oh were it so simple. Dude, it's a belligerent theocracy-anything's possible." A most sobering scenario- with #4 (oil price increases) being an absolute certainty.
The Iran-intervention scenario points to something else that our political parties are unwilling to come to terms with- namely, ME political instability. I'm for drilling in ANWR, building more refineries and promoting nuclear power (pro-Rushian). But I'm for imposing stricter fuel standard to reduce national oil consumption, encouraging alternative fuels and assisting other countries such as Canada and Russia in their production efforts (anti-Rushian). It has to be a full-court press (bad sports analogy). We're way too dependent upon untrustworthy suppliers.
There going to go for it unless we make it worth their while not too. If I was Iran, that's what I would do. What do they have to lose? What are our options to make them stop? ...besides military threats.
I think we should wear the hell out of the diplomatic front before we go in with guns blazing. It's a high stakes diplomatic game. If it ever goes military, it means we weren't smart enough to pull it off.
Pakistan worries me as much maybe more than Iran because they seem an ass-hair away from losing control of that country. And with Al Qaeda in there, that could get uglier than Iran really quickly.
The reason Pakistan and North Korea are less worrisome is that they are bordered by rational giants India and China, who would squash them like bugs before they had a chance to damage us. Iran is troublesome because it has the option of becoming an unchecked regional hegemon, which is its ancient ambition, and is fueled by a tyrannical and suicidal ideology. This is mitigated modestly by the fact that the oligarchs are probably corrupt thieves. Thus, they are more rational (and have something to protect) than al qaeda lunatics. But they are unchecked by a power at their border...unless you think of the US in Iraq as that...which we are to some extent.
You cannot project your notion of rational on your opponent. From their perspective, it is entirely rational for them to attack into Iraq. It's an old war and antipathy. Iraq is relatively weak. It is hardly clear to the Iranians that we will engage them. In fact, they may feel the need to attack us as China attacked us during the Korean War.
Listen to what they say and watch what they do. It certainly implies that they are preparing for war.
Another relevant matter, often forgotten. Persia, Turkey and Arabia are ancient rivals. American allegiance in defeating a Persian lunge for regional supremacy will be appreciated by Turkey and Arabs. It would surprise people, I think, the level of long term (quiet) support would emerge from the circumstance. Big stakes. Lots of history.
""2) US and Iraqi troops face enormous initial pressure. The blitzkrieg has caught them by surprise, and they are undermanned. The US mobilizes half a million troops and begins flying sorties aggressively against any missile sites, nuclear sites, etc in Iran.""
Err No.. Iran invades Iraq.. learns the meaning of Air Support,..
then closes the gulf with its silkworm missles... learns the meaning of counterbattery.
I would like to make a comment here. I am not sure if you understand from a military stand point that air support is fine and dandy and will kill large targets (tanks, arty, large [concentrated] dispositions of troops)but it also kills lots of civilians and destroys their homes and offices and such.
An invasion into Iraq could NOT be stopped (slowed down a little) using air support.
It takes combined forces on the ground and in the air to do that.
And we don't have them over there and it would be way too late by the time they got there.
Oh...I forgot, we don't have that many available. We might have enough to hold off a few divisions for a while (if they were over there and ready to fight) but to stop Iran's armies....sorry.
The air support would be limited in urban areas because of civilian population and the increased "friendly fire" problem.
Counter battery works good on targets that don't move but is limited when fighting moving targets that are much harder to defeat.
The political fallout and the worlds reaction to the U. S. destroying Iraq while in the process of trying to save it from the hordes of Persians would be....hell, I can't even think of a world bad enough to describe it.
Iran won't care, they are interested in whats under the ground not on top of it. Not to say they would use nukes but who is to say that they wouldn't.
They don't have nukes, you loudly say!
I wouldn't bet against it. There are missing Russian nukes and they might have bought a couple from their uncle in N.K.
Anyway this is all a mute discussion because we all know that Israel will just bomb them into the stone age, right?
Well, no, they already have the arab world wanting to push them into the sea, they don't want to do anything drastic to make it actually happen.
Well, anyway, my 2cents.
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