Monday, September 26, 2005
Tigerhawk and I have recently made loud noises about the centrality of Iran to resolution of our current conflict in the Middle East and the War on Terror. These conflicts are all integrally related, and any reporter who fails to appreciate this is ignorant. Thankfully, the current administration does recognize this. Ledeen's highly critical article, juxtaposed with his high degree of conservatism, thus makes for interesting reading.
I don't buy it. I agree that the US has not clearly articulated our intentions viz. Iran. But why should we? There is an increasing drumbeat that highlights Iran as a newly developing threat. But this isn't new. The new President of Iran is one of the guys who seized the US Embassy in 1979 and held our people hostage for over a year. Iran has been financing and training Hezbollah for 20 years. They have provided arms, training and sanctuary to terrorists since inception. In fact, we originally supported Saddam as a bulwark against Iran during the 1981-1988 Iran Iraq War. So this isn't new folks. This is old, and I believe we have a policy, and we are executing that policy. What we are not doing is articulating that policy.
Iran is under grave threat. Mortal threat. Since September 2001, we have encircled Iran, toppling regimes surrounding it or securing their allegiance. Iran is surrounded by enemies, who are in turn buttressed by us economically and militarily. Who are Iran's friends exactly? Hezbollah, Syria and a few Iraqi Shiites. Not exactly a power trio.
Furthermore, the Mullahs have never faced so much internal dissent as they do currently. It is reflected in the extremely retrograde results of their "elections," the stream of defectors and capital flight from the country (which Ledeen cites) and the internal purge the Mullahs have launched.
Cornered, the regime is lashing out in the form of the nuclear negotiations.
So what is the US doing? What is our policy? Well, we didn't exactly announce D- Day in advance, now did we? In fact, while we were dragged into War in 1941, we didn't actually get to the heart of Europe until 1944...only after we had first gone to North Africa and Italy. And the Brits had been at it for several years already, with the best we could do being the "Lend Lease Act." We take our time when it comes to executing a war strategy. And we should.
Sometime between now and the end of the Bush Administration, I suspect we will have a hot conflict with Iran. What I cannot tell is whether we intend to allow them to launch it, or whether we will preempt. Generally, it feels as though the Bush Administration is waiting, and here are my best reasons to wait:
1) Bring as much political finality to Iraq as possible - finalized constitution; seated, elected government.
2) Secure oil resources as broadly as possible - Saudi, Iraq, Libya, Russia
3) Ensure tacit backing from China - resolve North Korea, stabilize Japan -- remember China and Japan have enormous energy needs and aren't in the modd to be held hostage by Iran either.
4) Exhaust the Europeans into support by allowing them to be embarrassed by Iran
5) If possible, bring the Russians into line -- the least likely cooperator. If not, tough.
6) Be prepared to respond to an Iranian attack in Iraq.
The US and Britain clearly have special operators at work in Iran. A low level, low intensity war is already at hand. It is a matter of time before that war comes to he surface. What is unclear is who moves next...
Such a war proponent, CP...
You mention that Iran has been a gathering threat since the late 70's and that they're increasingly isolated. What threat, outside of a political one, do they pose to me and my family?
Why are you so ready to go to war, kill hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to secure another country's oil? Why are you so hot about our whooping Iran before they can become the next Iraq, telling lies and pretending to have an effective military?
Pre-emptive war is empire building. Pre-emptive simply means that we're attacking someone who hasn't attacked us because we think they one day might. This is a neverending proposition. There will always be some entity with animosity towards the U.S.. Will we go to war with all of them, in perpetuity? Perpetual war. That's what the Bush Republican party stands for. Empire building built on a foundation of perpetual war and fueled by control of natural resources.
You'll have to show me the part in the constitution that encourages this sort of megalomaniacal behavior.
SH - actually, Iran commenced war on the US when they seized our embassy and held 54 Americans hostage for 400+ days. That was in 1979. Since then they have financed Hezbollah, which in 1983 killed 240 US marines on a peacekeeping mission. There have been literally dozens of additional acts of international terrorism committed against actual live US citizens since perpetrated by Iranian agents, including on US soil. The wife of the former Iranian Ambassador to Canada, who resided in New Jersey, was killed in an attempted assassination attempt on his life on our soil by Iranian agents of Khomeini. They put a death warrant on the life of a novelist (Salman Rushdie, in case you missed it), for God's sake, and have tried in vain to track him and kill him anywhere in the world.
In the interim, the US has occasionally reached out to try to make nice to Iran, always failing. Why? Because the oligarchs managing the country are fascist theocrats who detest (and fear) America, its freedom, its governance and its citizenry. Let's not forget how they treat their own people either. I noticed that you never had any comment, SH, when I posted regarding Akbar Gangi, the extraordinarily brave individual sacrificing his life in an Iranian jail undergoing a hunger strike in the name of the freedom of the Iranian people.
Now, SH, I am sure that you will not be volunteering to go to war against the Mullahs. The issue of the threeat to your family is, however interesting and telling. Terrorism (or war if you like) doesn't hurt you until it does. Like say the 2000 or so people lost on 9/11. They did not go to work that day thinking...boy, the Sunni lunatics, those Islamofascists, there gonna get me today. So I think it would be mistaken to suggest that Hezbollah (who are agents of Iran) couldn't hurt you or your family or somebody else you might care about. Or maybe just some other innocent American who you don't know.
Preemptive war does not equate to imperialism. Imperialism is when you conquer somebody's land, colonize it, and strip the assets for your own domestic use. What Spain did in Latin America...that's imperialism of the first order. Really brutal. Colonialism also tends to get a bad wrap because Marxists get better PR (hmm, wonder why that is). The British were damn good at it. They left behind the US and India. Pretty good, I'd say. Argentina would be far better off if the Brits ran it today. The Germans and French were generally pretty mean spirited imperialists. But the Americans, as a rule, have been damn good benefactors when they have defeated an enemy. We haven't done any of the nasty things "imperialists" are accused of. And in fact, Germany, Japan, and South Korea are in great shape and kicking ass all things considered. So are form of your "imperialism" has been incredibly beneficial to the world. There's plenty of guys crawling around in Darfur who would beg for our imperialism.
Now I don't see how preemptive war is tautologically imperialist. Especially when you are toppling tyrants and oligarchs and fascists in the process. If you want to defend those types SH, and call us the bad guys, be my guest. That's a debating loser, in my judgment, but whatever you like.
But preemptive war which accomplishes the above plus protects our folks from the chance, not so remote any longer, that one of these guys finances or perpetrates something really heinous here is very good by me. Very good. It's what I pay taxes for. The common defense. Read the Constitution. Job 1 for our Federal Government.
And, among other things, what makes our country the best on the planet, ever, is that our guys join up to fight for all of our freedoms. Damn. That is just the best. And our guys are re-upping at unprecedented rates, and sad to say for you antiwar and antimilitary types, our recruitment rates are very strong (even if the MSM wants it to be otherwise).
I am a proponent of war, SH, when I view its prosecution as inevitable and vital to secure our interests, and consistent with our morality. And in the current conflict I view America's vital interests at stake and our morals as particularly well served, whereby we are fighting clearly evil people and regimes which abuse their own people and would like to hurt ours.
Now you and I have been down this road before, where I clearly disclose my sense and you dissemble. Will you ever come clean for the TH readership? Or will you continue to hide, misrepresent and carp?
Dear Mr. Cardinalpark:
We are regular and usually admiring readers of TigerHawk. On this particular post, however, we have some trouble. Your analysis or plan for dealing with Iran, is, with respects, lacking in thoroughness.
We'll take up your six points:
1) Bring finality to Iraq. Sure, but the Iranians actually have the ability, and are, frustrating the Coalition's plans there. You may see this as a further provocation, but it actually shows that the Iranian position is not as weak as you assert. In any case, the Iranians have influence over the timing of the completion of this task, and thus, the agenda you propose.
2. Secure [U.S.] oil resources. Again, the Iranians, through mischief, or war (Strait of Hormuz) have something to say about this. The current world price of crude oil gives the Iranians great diplomatic leverage over others (Europe, China, Asia) the U.S. would like to get the support of on Iran.
3. Ensure tacit backing from China. Sorry, China is very unlikely to help us on Iran, because of their thirst for oil. They have already tipped their hand; they have cut separate oil deals with Iran and will very likely protect Iran's nuclear program at the IAEA and UN Security Council when it comes to that.
4. Exhaust the European ... After Iran embarrasses the EU-3 at the Security Council (the Iranian nuclear violation resolution will be vetoed by China and Russia), the Europeans are just as likely to scamper away from confrontation and cut their own side deals with Iran, rather than follow the U.S. into a confrontation with Iran.
5. If possible, bring the Russians into line ... if not, tough. That's right, tough - for the U.S. If the U.S. wants to ramp up a confrontation with Iran, the Iranians have the choice of forming a military alliance with Russia or China, something straight out of an 18th century diplomatic guidebook. Then what?
6. Be prepared to respond to an Iranian attack in Iraq. Some, including British military intelligence, say this is already happening, just in the modern 21st century version, with Iranian intelligence agents supporting friendly Iraqi Shi'ite militias, like al-Sadr's. Since it is occurring beyond the view of the MSM, it isn't really happening, as far as the world public knows. But it can still mess up U.S. plans.
So what does Westhawk suggest? In August we wrote two posts on the options the U.S. has regarding Iran. The first covered mainly diplomatic options and the second covered mainly military options. We recommend these posts for your reading.
Our conclusion was that a "deterrence for rogues", a reactive collective punishment policy, was the only realistic option.
But we invite your feedback.
You're a violent man, and I'm a nonviolent man. That having been said...
"SH - actually, Iran commenced war on the US... [blah blah blah] ...kill him anywhere in the world." - This is a fairly paltry list you've presented. One could present an equally compelling list of crimes by any country in the world in the last 26 years. This list does not demand war. It demands attention to international cooperation, human rights, and the rule of law.
As to "the US has occasionally reached out to try to make nice to Iran" - I borrow from the Cato Institute: "After 70 years of broken Western promises regarding Arab independence, it should not be surprising that the West is viewed with suspicion and hostility by the populations (as opposed to some of the political regimes) of the Middle East.(3) The United States, as the heir to British imperialism in the region, has been a frequent object of suspicion. Since the end of World War II, the United States, like the European colonial powers before it, has been unable to resist becoming entangled in the region's political conflicts. Driven by a desire to keep the vast oil reserves in hands friendly to the United States, a wish to keep out potential rivals (such as the Soviet Union), opposition to neutrality in the cold war, and domestic political considerations, the United States has compiled a record of tragedy in the Middle East. The most recent part of that record, which includes U.S. alliances with Iraq to counter Iran and then with Iran and Syria to counter Iraq, illustrates a theme that has been played in Washington for the last 45 years."
Military intervention, I believe, ought to be reserved for threats against our nation OR when the world comes to a consensus over the illegitimacy of a nation's actions. Sure, the terrorist organizations are dangerous, but are they more dangerous now because of our having elevated them to the status of global warriors rather than leaving them as the thugs they are?
"Imperialism is when you conquer somebody's land, colonize it, and strip the assets for your own domestic use." Are you trying to be ironic? What do you call it when we invade Iraq, build permanent military bases, and turn their oil over to large multinational corporations? Are you serious? "We haven't done any of the nasty things "imperialists" are accused of." Yeah. Right.
The war isn't making us any safer. The numbers of insurgents / terrorists / naive assholes willing to kill innocent people in the name of some random sky god are growing in Iraq. We can't kill them fast enough. They grow every time our President dissembles on Abu Ghraib. They grow every time they repeat the fact that America invaded a nation based on a pack of lies. George W. Bush and his War on Terror have made the world less safe by creating a permanent enemy, savvy enough to recruit from here to eternity. Further, letting the Saudis get by with a pass despite the fact they nurtured 15 of the 19 terrorists who served as the catalysts for this terrible war is unconscionable. We rattle our saber at Syria while letting Prince Al-Waleel bin Talal skip along buying NewsCorp stock. Where will he put his profits? Probably not into the next Justice Sunday.
Have I hidden, misrepresented, and carped, CardinalPark?
Your views betray judgment driven by fear and violence. This road leads to death.
Now those were 2 excellent responses.
Westhawk - it doesn't sound like we disagree on much. I have concluded that diplomatic options with the current theocratic regime are useless and a waste of precious time, allowing Iran to grow in strength. For that reaosn, I think you do the best you can on the objectives I cited but prepare for the worst.
SH - no actually, for the first time I think you've made clear that you are a pacifist under any circumstances. And for what it's worth, I am not actually a violent person. Having said that, I do believe, and the empirical evidence supports the notion that wars are fought all the time, and for good reason. You have concluded Iran is not a threat to US interests, and I guess you have also concluded it is a moral regime. I have concluded the opposite in both cases. Furthermore, I have also concluded that conflict is likely inevitable because there is no acceptable diplomatic posture that either Iran or the US are likely to adopt which overlap. So, having drawn that conclusion, I would just as soon enage the Iranians when we are at our relative strongest position.
As an aside, I think the EU 3 have tried exceedingly hard to make a deal with the Iranians and I am confident you would agree that they far prefer diplomacy to conflict. I just think they have failed is all. That differs, interestingly, from the diplomatic successes achieved by the six party talks on North Korea, British efforts with Libya and American efforts with India and Pakistan. War is after all one diplomatic option. We probably disagree on this as well. Probably an unbridgeable gap. But now I know that you could not have supported our military action in Yugoslavia or the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
How do you feel about the universality of freedom?
One of the things about your writing that continually offers me confusion and frustration is your penchant for misrepresenting the words of others:
What I said: "I'm a nonviolent man"
What you said I said: "you are a pacifist under any circumstances"
This is an obvious distortion.
What I said: "Military intervention, I believe, ought to be reserved for threats against our nation OR when the world comes to a consensus over the illegitimacy of a nation's actions."
What you inferred and stuck into my mouth: "I guess you have also concluded it is a moral regime"
Where did you find this in my writing? This is your opinion. If you want mine, you can ask nicely for it.
You responded to little that I wrote. I know that time is a luxury, and it can be difficult to respond comprehensively to every random non-Republican who comes across your pro-war opinions. I do wonder though, how you respond to, (a) the Cato Institute quote and linked paper; (b) the irony I pointed out in your definition of imperialism.
Interesting how people slide back to basics. But in this new world that we have now, the old "basic beliefs" just don't apply like [ they did] during the short intermission we had in the crusades.
I left a post over at Westhawk that you might want to read, scoff at and render apart.
It might be a good exercise to examine where we really are now and where everyone "believes we are".
Alice would think she was back down the rabbit hole.
"actually, Iran commenced war on the US when they seized our embassy and held 54 Americans hostage for 400+ days. That was in 1979."
With the help of George Bush Sr., Iran was able to do this. Without the help of the CIA, this would not have been possible. This is what happens when you meddle in other peoples affairs. When are you going to learn that this doens't work? It is more bad than good. I suppose the main reason this stuff is tolerated is because of the money that flows.
I agree with the CATO quote, hence no comment. In fact, I think the current president is reversing 70 years of bad policy in the Middle East at this very moment. But you have to live with the mistakes of the past as you seek to redress and redeem old problems. And that alone can be awfully wrenching. Having said that, American or British foreign policy in my judgment are not the sole item that ails the region...far from it. Nor is it the Jews. These are merely pathetic excuses for tired, theiving, backward tyrannnies. And their days are numbered.
As for the pacifism versus non violent bit, you and I had this go round once before and I'll concede your point...there is a difference. That was part of a prior interaction we had. But you never had the decency to put forth your position on those other issues I raised (PG I and Yugoslavia) so I was trying to see if you'd come around. Not clear to me you want to chat about those yet. I am trying to sort out if you are purely a partisan or whether you are a pacifist...maybe you're both. The critical philosophical exposure area is whether your supported (or didn't) either of those conflicts. That's all.
As for matching my morality bit to your consensual bit, I would say they have nothing to do with one another. However, I suppose if consensus is what you're about when it comes to war, then you would have supported PG I but not Yugoslavia. Is that true? I certainly didn't expect you'd admit your comfort with the Iranian Thugocracy's morality, any more than you would say you support Saddam. My implication is that your absence of interest in doing anything about them makes you complicit. Maybe not like George Galloway or Michael Moore...but maybe so too.
Now as to threats, I guess there we simply disagree. I view Iran as a terrible threat. You don't. That is a legitimate and honest difference. I would vote for soembody who agreed with that, and I wouldn't vote for somebody who didn't. It's a priority one issue for me - regardless of party, by the way. So I'm not much of pa partisan on this front.
So what opinions will you share with us? Partisan or Pacifist? Universality of freedom or American exceptionalism (freedom, women's rights, etc don't apply in the Middle East). What's your pleasure?
On your other complaints:
I don't see America as an imperialist country, you do. C'est la guerre. I made a comment elsewhere that pretty much every place where our soldiers have stepped foot we've ultimately left behind to its own devices in much better condition than we found it -- Germany, Japan, and South Korea being recent and excellent examples. I have little doubt we will see the same in Iraq (though I suspect you will disagree).
Out of time..