Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Steyn on Iran 

Mark Steyn has published his contribution to the Iran discussion in the latest City Journal. It is an essential read and is far too awesome to excerpt properly. Go and read the whole thing now, or print it out for the commute. Really, it is not to be missed.


By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 10:37:00 AM:


Thanks for the tip. I read it, and I come away wondering a few things:

- Steyn's call for a decapitating strike without an occupation would lead to what? He spends a great deal of time examining events over a decade old but does not look at the repercussions of massive military strikes without a post-attack strategy. A pre-emptive military strike could be a rallying cry, bringing 1.2 billion Muslims in line. We must, as Tigerhawk advocates, allow the politics in the Muslim world to turn against radicalism. A military strike such as the one Steyn suggests may just do the opposite.

- I'm always left wondering how we can justify continuing to build and expand our nuclear arsenal while wagging our national finger at others. It's just so damned short-sighted. Nuclear powers, as Steyn points out, are multiplying rapidly, and we might think of our grandchildren's world. What government will be leading Pakistan then? India? China? We ought to be working towards global denuclearization instead of selectively deciding who hasn't earned the right to put the entire globe at risk.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Apr 11, 11:13:00 AM:

I think Screwy, that you can forget about de-nuclearization. Wake up dear Screwy, the reverie is over. Nor should any sane person advocate laying down arms when you live in a world of Islamic imperialism. Since you so often rail about imperialism, how do you feel about sharia? about free speech? about defending liberty? Really? Please share. How do you feel about your grandchildren living under sharia law? Hmmm? That is really Steyn's question and the relevant one on the table.

Now we do agree on one thing. It is glib to talk about military strikes on Iran without also talking about, "what then." And the "what, then" is really messy.

Steyn is assuming that Iranians will simply supplant the mullah's regime with something different after we decapitate the mullahs. Poof, and it happens.

I think that is unlikely and fraught with risk. We will be there for years and years. That's ok with me, not with you I bet. But I am quite realistic about the ugliness. The sooner the better.

As for the wagging of the finger, that's simple really. This has nothing to do with rights or fairness. There is no "right" to a nuclear weapon. There is only ability - and the exercise of power. The next question is how judicious have nation states been in their exercise of power. Generally, those nation states which advocate freedom for their own people tend to be more judicious in their use of power than tyrants. Historical, empirical fact. In my judgment, I don't think the Iranian mullahcracy will be a judicious user of the power associated with their possession of a nuclear weapons (as opposed to India, for instance). I would think you would agree with that.

So I would just as soon not see them armed. In fact, I would think you would also agree that -- since you are interested in fewer nukes -- the Iranian bomb will fuel proliferation in the Middle East. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, they will all want the bomb.

So Screwy, you should in fact be an advocate for military action against Iran to prevent its acquisition of a bomb. Except you're too busy analyzing the US, and insufficiently occupied with the guy who really means you harm.

Did you read it all carefully?  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 12:42:00 PM:

Nuclear disarmament is a "reverie" only if we choose it. Right now we're choosing pre-emptive war and considering the use of nukes against a country that hasn't harmed us. Who woulda thunk that one? All it takes is vision, leadership, patience, and consistency, CardinalPark - all of the things you value in a future military strike against the pupating Iran. It's about values, I suppose, and you value war over peace.

It's nice to hear your honesty regarding the ugliness of an Iranian strike and the unknowable repercussions.

"I don't think the Iranian mullahcracy will be a judicious user of the power associated with their possession of a nuclear weapons (as opposed to India, for instance). I would think you would agree with that."

I agree, yes. I think they will use a nuclear deterrent to bully others, but I do not think they will nuke anyone. Using nukes can lead to Mutually Assured Destruction, and no one wants that except for some Christian fundamentalists, Islamic Fundamentalists, and three kids in Utah who just like to see shit blow up.

I think that Pakistan is a nation we wouldn't want having nukes either, but no one seems to mind that one. We should invade/bomb them next? No, I forgot, in our shortsightedness we've decided to let the military dictatorship there enjoy buddy relations with our democracy.

I'm an advocate of practicing what you preach, CardinalPark. So when the U.S. preaches nuclear nonproliferation, we ought to lead. When the U.S. preaches human rights, we ought to lead. Bush is practicing war while preaching peace. And now he's in a rush to make sure Iran gets its fair share of destruction before he leaves office. Doesn't matter that Iran is years and years away from having nuclear weapons, Bush is war hungry and too shortsighted to consider deeply the potential for disaster.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Apr 11, 01:13:00 PM:

Screwy - your thinking is notably muddied.

You agree Iran is seeking the acquisition of nuclear weapons -- proliferation which you hate. It is run by "islamic fundamentalists" who you agree and assert are not deterred by concepts of "mutally assured destruction." In fact, they have asserted that even if Israel were to respond to an Iranian nuclear attack, they are willing to lose several million muslims to accomplish their goal of eliminating all the jews in israel.

You then say that you don't think they would use nukes. That is pure cognitive dissonance. Which in turn encourages you to believe the leaders of the US government -- whose job it is to ensure the defense of the nation -- should punt because, hey, Pakistan has nukes? That is pure recklessness. At least one reason why you won't be elected president anytime soon.

First of all, we weren't happy about Pakistan. But Pakistan abuts the much larger, nuclear empowered India. That's their problem, as it were. And India would wipe Pakistan off the map (and was almost motivated to in 2002). Same thing with North Korea - that is China's and Japan's and South Korea's issue more than ours.

Iran, given its centrality in the Gulf, is at least partly our problem -- though it also belongs to Europe and Israel. If the Arabs were capable, it would be theirs too.

You act like this whole this in an invention of the current administration. It's not. They, and Europe, and Israel, are responding to Iranian provocation and violation of its agreements.

Now as for Iran having done us no harm, that is dead wrong. They seized our embassy and held hostage our citizens in 1979. That is an act of war. They formed a terrorist group called Hezbollah which has committed acts of war against our military and civilians. Some would claim that they have also infiltrated the US and are prepared to launch domestic US terror attacks. They have certainly sent members of their military to die in Iraq and try to kill our troops. They have certainly carried out, though their intelligence services, assassinations inside of the US, including the former Iranian Ambassador to Canada's wife (oops, they missed), in Franklin Lakes New Jersey.

So get your facts right Screwy. Wake up. And get off the pacifist morphine, cause it's dulled your senses -- to the point where you can't even connect your thoughts properly. If oyu really are serious about wanting to shut down proliferation, then you would be a serious advocate of military action to stop the mullah's from building a bomb. The rest is just pacifist nonsense.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 03:10:00 PM:

I'm hopeless, eh CP? It's a wonder you keep talking to such a flake. It's almost like you feel a need to dispute my morphine-dulled position.

Christian Fundamentalist and Dispensationalist, George W. Bush, is as likely to use nukes as Islamic Fundamentalist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I think that, should either pull the nuclear trigger, MAD could follow. Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons. They don't have any. They may have them someday, but they don't have any now. This is why we utilize diplomacy, which you disdain, rather than spitting in the middle eastern soup. If the threat becomes imminent, then we'll have a defensible position for military intervention. Until then, we'll simply be perceived as aggressors in the region again, driving more people to the side of the underdog Islamist Radicals.

I wonder if you have been advocating military intervention ever since 1979 for the hostage crisis. Must be frustrating for you to see cooler heads prevail again and again. Good thing you aren't carrying the nuclear football.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Apr 11, 03:46:00 PM:

Screwy - for the record, I wouldn't bother using nuclear weapons against Iran. I said that before. It's unnecessary. I would, however, advocate military action against Iran.

I was a bit young to be a forceful and thoughtful advocate for military action in 1979. I did find it profoundly confusing and even embarrassing, however, that we stranded 54 of our people in our embassy without doing anything about it. I certainly wasn't for doing nothing. I just didn't know what should be done really.

Today, I think the situation with Iran is far worse, and cries out for action not yet taken.

I don't think Bush is a "christian fundamentalist" as you call him. I am certain that the mullahs are islamic fundamentalists, however. I don't think it is prudent policy to allow them to develop nuclear weaponry, full stop. Negotiation has not stopped them, nor do I believe it will -- as it failed with North Korea -- agreements will be violated.

I am not quite as strident about one thing though. I have no doubt that even if they secured an atomic weapon and used it, the destruction would not be mutual. Far from it. They would be decimated, while we would suffer painful and unnecessary casualties. In that event, the casualties borne by americans would be far higher than they would be if we acted today.

It's interesting to me Screwy that you do acknowledge the fact that the Iranian leadership cannot be deterred. It is also interesting to me that you claim to be against proliferation. And then your conclusion - is it your conclusion? -- is that we should continue to negotiate with the Iranians when they have violated their negotiated agreements on nuclear proliferation.

This is that part of the conversation that goes dissonant with you. It makes it fun, in part, to have the debate, because you cede the key points. Then you land on a conclusion which is purely agenda-driven -- pacifism and antiBush. There's no sense to it really. It's just la la la, Iran whatever.

So somebody else will have to defend your house today, since you certainly won't do it. That's ok. That's why America is a great country.

I did note your failure to respond on questions about liberty, and sharia, etc.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 04:13:00 PM:

Iran wants a nuclear weapon. I think you're right. Whether they're deterrable depends a great deal on the geopolitical situation. If I were an Islamic power right now, I'd be building nukes like they were Chiclets, because it's clear that the nuclear deterrent is effective, and the Bush administration is quick to invade nations without them.

We negotiate peace and partnership. I don't know if we can negotiate non-proliferation. If we were going to seek non-proliferation, then we might have a bargaining position. But a nation that's cranking up it's manurfacture of nukes is in no position to wag the finger at others for doing the same.

You insist I'm a pacifist. Interesting. You insist on putting me into a little box that makes it easier for you to ignore, then you don't ignore me. Funny.

I was for the intervention in Afghanistan, in large part because it was the international community who chose it, and the target was an avowed enemy who had attacked us. So, not a pacifist, sorry. My grandfather, who was a good pacifist Quaker and a good American, would be ashamed of me. I'm anti-Bush only because of the contemptible foreign policy decisions he's made.

You ask about Sharia. Um. Are you serious? You ask about liberty. I'm going to let you guess where I stand on these points. You're a goader, CP, and a violent militarist. Neither is attractive or productive.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Apr 11, 04:34:00 PM:

So when, Screwy, would you choose to end negotiations with Iran? What would be the exact right moment to act to prevent the acquisition by Iran of nuclear capability? As you say, it's difficult to do it once they have it, so when do you do it? And how do you know how far away they might be from acquiring such capability? These are important questions as this violent militarist contemplates the risks we choose to run with Iran.

What was it about Afghanistan that made it a worthy target for military action (forget that others agreed -- that isn't why one chooses to go to war, because others do) to your way of thinking? I mean, Mullah Omar didn't attack us Screwy, did he?

And yes, Screwy, I am goading you. It's good fun, especially when you don't think logically and consistently. Your logic and consistent thought gets to a violent militaristic place, and it just goes cuckoobananas.

Yours faithfully,

Cuckoobananas Violent Militarist (CVM)  

By Blogger Uptown Ruler, at Tue Apr 11, 04:51:00 PM:

i would really like to hear cardinal park's take on the book "detering democracy" which details american intervention in south and central america since the end of the second world war.

these same type interventions were utilized throughout the world, including iran.

which goes a long way to detail why folks in other countries aren't exactly thrilled with the U.S.

as for defending america...debating against our use of nuclear arms against another nation in an agressive war, or simply - as you advocate - knocking their socks off with some conventional weapons, may very well be the kind of act which turns the rest of the world against us.

our economy is teetering on the edge of a contested oil barrel, and you want to attack one of the largest oil producers in the world?

park, cmon man. we could of spent 1 trillion dollars rebuilding our rail system and investing in new clear burning coal locomotion, instead of this ridiculous foray into iraq.

and as for Afghanistan...it was the country where Osama bin Laden was hiding when 9/11 occurred.

i supported this invasion too.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Tue Apr 11, 05:51:00 PM:

...a nation that's cranking up it's manurfacture of nukes is in no position to wag the finger at others for doing the same.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'cranking up' because I think we're well beyond the cranking up stage. If, on the other hand, you mean our possessing nuclear weapons invalidates any criticism we might entertain against other countries developing and possessing them, then you might just as well argue that handguns should be available to any and all, regardless of mental stability or past criminal record.

...these same type interventions were utilized throughout the world, including iran.

Would it square the circle for you if we utilized another intervention in Iran so as to put things back as they were?  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 05:55:00 PM:

Yours is a recipe for endless war, CP. There will always be someone we don't like or who doesn't like us.

And to answer the only serious question you posed, the attack on Afghanistan made sense:

1) because Al Qaeda was based there, creating thousands of well-trained martyrs intent on attacking the United States.

2) Osama bin Laden, that gimpy diabetic we haven't been able to catch for some reason (hmmmmm...wonder why?), was there. He may still be there.

3) The attacks could take place with minimal collateral damage and could actually significantly reduce an imminent threat.

That's all. I know you're now going to twist my words into some sort of odd justification for an attack on Iran. Have at it.

Know this, I accept that trigger happy men like you, Bush, Ahmadinejad, and Al Qaeda will forever make it difficult to acheive peace. But I'm going to keep hoping and voting in that direction. Vilify people who desire peace if you like, but know that it puts you in opposition with thousands of years of moral teachers.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 05:57:00 PM:

oh, and sirius, I was talking about DoD plans to start manufacturing nukes again to replace our aging arsenal.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Apr 11, 10:32:00 PM:


Thanks for the link and whatever happened here. In return I offer you an equally engaging, equally long post from the Billmon.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 12, 12:58:00 AM:

Here's another - Is Your Entire Country on Crack? - which, if nothing else, was an entertaining read.  

By Anonymous rm, at Wed Apr 12, 02:27:00 AM:

Good blog!

Read thru your archives and saw the post abt attending billy joel's concert at msg.

I have a choice between section 11 floor seats (first row of 11) at MSG for the 4/24 Billy J concert and section 106 E (second level, towards stage right).

The floor seats are cheaper--but I am concerned that there may be way too many heads blocking the view.

I'm from out of town and have never attended a concert at MSG. Any words of advice ??  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Wed Apr 12, 09:32:00 AM:

SH, thanks for the article. I think the hysteria is somewhat overblown, as I don't believe we will be dropping nukes on anyone who hasn't dropped one on us first, but that is just my opinion. I share the dismay over why this story still takes a back seat to Natalie Hollaway and the rest of the drival on cable news. This is the story of our age, I believe.

The other 'crack' link, well, I didn't find much to agree with there. Those people searching for an argument, any argument, to avoid confrontation would have fit in well in 1930s Europe, right before the Panzers rolled right over them.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Apr 12, 10:12:00 AM:

Screwy and UR- sorry to get left behind for awhile. Had to work. Let's see -- I don't think I've ever twisted your words. You handle all the pretzel stuff on your own.

I appreciate your rationale for invading Afghanistan. Of course, I am in agreement with it. I do think it is a rationale which can be used, by the way, for other attacks. But I won't bother going there now.

As for a "recipe for endless war", I guess I would simply assert that that is called "history." If you do some research in any encyclopedia, you will find that thousands of wars are fought constantly, and have been, throughout history and even at this very moment. I am not, nor should this nation, be deterred in any way by the notion that wars are fought often -- and need to be.
History has not ended, no matter what Frances Fukuyama might say. Sorry to be the bearer of tough news.

So, as always, the actual evidence points to the regularity of conflict, except among free, democratic nations with GDP per capita greater than $10,000. So let's work on securing liberty and economic prosperity (and a reasonable distribution of that prosperity). Then we can all have peace, ok?

Now, as for the question about Latin America that Uptown Ruler asked, I haven't read the book. But, my folks were from Argentina, and my Dad lives there. Speaking for that cesspool, I can say that without question Argentina was best off as a British colony. Their government and unions have demonstrated a singular capacity to steal from their people at an alarming and prodigious rate -- without even a red face. The Argentina that has come to pass since Juan Peron is bizarre combination of fascist and communist (Chavez is a stirring reincarnation of Peron). Then it went to pure military fascist, then free market. Then it went broke, because of course they are corrupt and irresponsible. None of this has anything to do with the US. So, on Latin America, caveat emptor.

Generally, Latin America hasn't worked off the socialism which befell it in the 60s and 70s. It's why they have tended to have immense and broad poverty. When they finally realized they needed to generate some economic growth, they privatized a bit, but never shook the unionist habit or the elitist corruption. Notions of American influence are overblown. NAFTA and CAFTA are enormously important for Latin American trade, and they desperately need the American market.

Generally, the locals there are like lots of other places. They talk anti-Americanism, but walk "I love American." They adopt our style, watch our TV, listen to our music, and are fun to be with in person. Again, in person, they love us. But from a distance, they are full of envy. They also uniformly hate their own politicians, their own government, think their countries are backward and often want to move here (certainly more of them move here than the reverse). Locally, most of them don't much love a hard day's work -- and would (like the French youth) like the government to pay the freight for them forever.

I hold out little hope for improvement.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 12, 11:37:00 AM:

Obvious deep penetration weapon: ICBM's armed with "iron" warheads...use the suckers to do something useful!  

By Blogger Uptown Ruler, at Wed Apr 12, 04:17:00 PM:

though i do think it was your boy george who "choked" on a pretzel  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 12, 05:05:00 PM:

I suppose we can continue to "negotiate" for a bit but when does Screwy propose that enough is enough? Once the centrifuges get going it will be impossible to know whether they are enriching to weapons grade or not. At that point, we either attack or acquiesce to their having nuclear weapons.  

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