Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Should we negotiate with Iran (and Syria)? 

On the question of negotiations with Iran and Syria -- the latter suspended above in parentheses quite intentionally -- we are left to wonder what prosecutor-of-terrorists Andy McCarthy thinks.



By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Wed Nov 29, 10:17:00 AM:

In a choice between negotiate and war, or a choice between (negotiate, pressure, deal, talk, boycott, embargo, etc) and war, I'd think the conservatives, the liberals, the rationalists, the religious and the moralists could all agree that we ought to do all of the former before the latter and only choose the latter when no other moral choices are left.

We are nowhere near out of options at this point. I think even the Bush administration agrees with this.

Seems to me.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Wed Nov 29, 11:13:00 AM:

We can negotiate the terms of surrender, but I can't for the life of me (that's meant as a quite serious pun) understand why we should.  

By Anonymous Howard in Boston, at Wed Nov 29, 12:51:00 PM:

I think a key question is whether we have a true choice between negotiation and war.

Here's an alternative way of framing the question: negotiate (give concessions now) with war later vs. war without negotiation.

I'm opening a can of worms here, but you may want to ask some Israelis what they think of the negotation vs. war dichotomy in a situation where your adversary pockets concessions and then continues with the war-making.  

By Blogger Tiger, at Wed Nov 29, 01:38:00 PM:

Negotiating with Iran and Syria would be like negotiating with Hitler concerning Poland ...

Oh! Wait! That's been tried!

Didn't work then, won't work now.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 29, 01:54:00 PM:

This is a dance. I agree with Andy Mc Carthy, but his essay ignores the current state of international diplomacy and deep denial in which most functioning democracies reside.

The dance is this: demonstrate to the world that we've done what Dan suggests. That we've exhausted all other options. Provide the clear framework for Iran and syria to demonstrate their true intentions.

the sole difference between us now and Chamberlain then is that we are better prepared for war.

Hitler had to know that he had no real viable opponents between himself and the russian border. he could take what he wanted because he believed that no extant force could effectively oppose him.

Both Iran and Syria must count on Dan's ability to prevent us from using our military power, because they both know we have it.

The difference is stark: Chamberlain faced an inability while we face a reluctance. Which position is ultimately stronger?

Both Iran and Syria have carefully watched our military gain knowledge, skill and experience in their region. Their military leaders must know our capabilities now. so it's a game of chicken. They have to gamble that Dan Trabue prevails and no broadening of the conflict ensues.

This is a deeply immoral position, in my opinion. War is ugly and given the current state of affairs a focused, sustained and ruthless application of force is clearly indicated. As it is now we are allowing Iran and syria to bleed Iraq while killing our soldiers. given this fecklessness on the part of America it is easy to see why the Iranians and the syrians appear confident. They KNOW in their minds that the Dan Trabues of the civilized world will ultimately quail in the face of their onslaught and give them whatever they demand.

If they become more aggressive, the modern version of invading poland, millions will die unnecessarily. Why? Because the dance that Dan demands will do nothing for us but it will convince them that they can win.

That's immoral in my opinion. They must be convinced that they cannot win and Dan's dance won't do that.  

By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Wed Nov 29, 03:30:00 PM:

"Dan" representing the majority of US citizens, in this case?

In other words, we the people don't want to try it your way - which we believe to be the path of greater immorality - thanks just the same. Bush has been trying that way and has failed, and the majority doesn't trust him to make that call anymore (if they ever did).  

By Blogger geoffgo, at Wed Nov 29, 03:47:00 PM:


What atrocity by the enemy would cause you to change your dance steps (intellectual flight from violence)?

Have you even thought about it?

At what point in your dance will you become a fellow traveler, aiding and abetting the enemy, while directly harming the US cause?

Have you even thought about it?  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Wed Nov 29, 04:12:00 PM:

What atrocity by the enemy would cause you...

For the anti-war crowd no wound is so great that you can't concede ever more in hopes of "getting it right" the next time. There is never a "last straw" for those people.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 29, 04:21:00 PM:

A majority Dan? You're kidding yourself. Perhaps a majority of the closed circle in which you reside.

I have to buy myself a copy of "the Prince". I snagged this off the corner at NRO and it perfectly explains why I think Dan and his alleged majority are so immoral:

500 years ago Machiavelli wrote two sentences that sum up victory in a strife-ridden region: “Cesare Borgia was held to be cruel; nonetheless his cruelty restored the Romagna, united it, and reduced it to peace and to faith. If one considers this well, one will see that he was much more merciful than the Florentine people, who so as to escape a name for cruelty, allowed Pistoia to be destroyed [by civil strife].”

what Machievelli so clearly understood was human nature. That's why his work and works by other clear thinkers like Shakespeare have withstood the test of time. Princes come and go, but the human condition remains.

Having given your various positions some thought Dan I have reached the conclusion that I would have far more respect for you and your "ministry to the poor" if it didn't involve the use of government coercion to force me to fund it. That single fact calls into question all the do gooder crapola you spout.

I feel good because I behave in a manner that is generous and charitable, not because I paid my taxes.

How will you feel when the islamic madmen kill another few thousand of us Dan? You gonna be OK with that or what?  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Wed Nov 29, 05:04:00 PM:

I don't think Syria and Iran have much to offer. How are they going to convince factions within Iraq to stop killing each other? Maybe they can do some damage control, but it's in their best interests to keep the chaos from spreading, so there's no point in offering them a whole lot for anything they're inclinded to do anyway.

On the other hand, I don't think McCarthy has much to offer either. He suggests isolating players on the novel basis of "respecting ourselves". That's retarded. Nations find political allies where they can in times of war. If that means siding with the Russians to beat the Nazis, you do it. It's ok to argue that it's not in the US's best-interest to meet with Syria and Iran. It's not okay if your reason is you want to be happy and proud of yourself while failing to achieve our goals in Iraq.

Another stupidity is to call this a "war of will". Yes it's a culture war, but staying the course in perpetuity with endless willpower isn't going to win it. (McCarthy really needs to check out Yglesias's "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics"). The conditions of this occupation are similar to the Russian occupation of Afghanistan (even has some of the same adversaries). It wasn't a lack of will that caused the Russians to lose in Afghanistan, it was a lack of winning. They bled a slow wound for years, long past the time to quit. They had already lost the culture war and were just waiting to lose the military one.

McCarthy's piece belongs in the self-help aisle. I'm all for believing in yourself, respecting yourself, and finding your inner child... but when it comes to war: I think we should be a little more pragmatic. Wars are won by doing the concrete necessary actions that it takes to win. If our best and brightest decide that means talking to "evil Mafia people", fine. If they decide that's not in America's best interests, that's fine too. Their job is to identify what we need to do to win, and do it.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 29, 05:39:00 PM:

I don't think the soviets lost at all LB.

Look at it this way, between A stan and chechnaya the russians have killed at least 25,000 muslims, maybe more.

and who does the Islamic republic of Iran rely on for help against the US (who has not only not killed even a small fraction of that number but in fact has acted to end genocide against muslims) in the UN?

If victory means aquiring a vassal state in A stan, you're right, the sovs failed.

But a few short years and one bloody internal conflict later and the senior muslim clerics that run Iran have nothing but respect for the Russians.

Why don't we try some of that, eh?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 29, 07:06:00 PM:

Because we don't have the stomach for it.

You know, the longer I'm in this profession the more that I see that the jihadis are right. America is weak. Not Americans, like individually; as people we are capable of great things. But as a society, we are weak, (without the stomach for conflict) decadent, (we care far more about own luxuries and priveleges than about principles of any kind) and stupid. (rule by committee anyone?) And it makes me sad.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 29, 07:46:00 PM:

Sadly Dawnfire, it will take another major hit on our population to shake us out of the doldrums.

people like Dan and LB don't actually percieve the muslims as a threat so anything that isn't milk and cookies is wrong in their opinion.

Those of us who do see the muslims as a threat are routinely excoriated and war mongers or fear mongers or monger mongers.

churchill struggled to get an audience while chamberlain dithered. Ultimately the people of Britain saw it churchill's way.

Have some faith. The sad part is Dan and Co will never agree that we should fight until one of cities is in ruin. Even then he'll blame anything or anybody but his own sorry self.

Not much we can do but soldier on.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 09:19:00 PM:

Great discussion! Great arguments! The one comfort I take from all of this is that there is one country that is not conflicted in the same manner America is and that is because they cannot afford to be and that is Israel. My belief is that they who live in this incredibly tumultuous world of the the middle-east, have already done the math, and whether we like it or not they will bring our might into a conflict that will leave few innocents alive.

Signed, Philosemite  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 29, 09:59:00 PM:

Whoops, I missed this part before.

"I don't think Syria and Iran have much to offer. How are they going to convince factions within Iraq to stop killing each other? Maybe they can do some damage control, but it's in their best interests to keep the chaos from spreading, so there's no point in offering them a whole lot for anything they're inclinded to do anyway."

Iran and Syria are *responsible* for the civil strife in Iraq. It's a flat fact that Iran arms and funds the Shi'ite flavored terrorists in Iraq, and for many months the Sunni flavored ones entered Iraq from abroad through Syria, with their blessing. There have been shoot outs between US forces and Syrian and Iranian border troops/intelligence agents over this.

They are purposefully feeding the trouble there to force us out and gain a measure of control over the country. Depending on how it plays out over some years, they might gain total control.

And what's more, the Iraqis know all this. I read a headline (in Arabic, no link) about two weeks ago that something like, "Maliki threatens Iran and Syria with retaliation if they continue to interefere in Iraq." It's not a secret. It's just a problem that no one has the will to do anything about.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Thu Nov 30, 05:44:00 PM:

"people like Dan and LB don't actually percieve the muslims as a threat so anything that isn't milk and cookies is wrong in their opinion."

Skipper: Way to change the subject by going personal. I give the muslim threat due consideration. I just don't feel like living my life in fear and anger because some terrorist wants me to. I don't care how much Muslims scare you. It has nothing to do with this post.

DF: As for Syria and Iran, I think it's more complex than you portray. I'm all for working with anyone who can help (as I thought was clear in the previous post), but let's not pretend that they can put Humpty Dumpty back together (even if you think they pushed him over).  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Nov 30, 07:20:00 PM:

Oh of course it is. Simplification is necessary in politics for academic discussion. But my point is that it is NOT in their best interest to contain said chaos; they have actually judged that it is IN their interests to perpetuate it. And as perpetuators, they theoretically have a lot to offer when it comes to ending it.

Personally, I think that dealing with Syria would be wise. Their price is assumedly a free hand in Lebanon. Fine. Lebanon doesn't really concern us too much, and if they don't have the inclination to fight the Syrians then we shouldn't do it for them. If we could get Syria to break from Iran... well, that would be great.

The Iranians, however, need to be dealt with firmly in my opinion. Far more firmly than we have to date. Syrian leaders, although bad people, are apparatchiks, statesmen, and soldiers; ultimately rational people. The Iranian leaders are true-believing theocrats who might very well fully think that they are living in the end times ready to trigger the return of the 12th Imam, and cannot be relied upon to behave in a rational manner.

Also, I oppose making deals with foreign powers that habitually kill people like me in principle.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Dec 01, 09:52:00 AM:

So lanky, I got it right, eh? You don't percieve radical islam as a threat.

I KNOW dan doesn't because he said so.

it's not personal Lanky, not at all. I use you guys as examples of what's wrong with American thinking. You two are poster boys for the pansy assed denial mongers that are trying to get us all killed while stoking your own inflated egos.

the recent discussion of ending terrorism was a perfect example. You guys are clueless about what to do but you state your positions with such conviction its laughable at times.

Every time I read one of your posts, or one of Dan's morality lectures I am reminded of 1939. Perhaps we should thank you for clarifying a big mystery of history. You've provided the perfect answer to the question: what were those people thinking about when hitler, mussolini and tojo built their war machines?

Nothing rational, apparently.  

By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Fri Dec 01, 01:09:00 PM:

"You don't percieve radical islam as a threat.

I KNOW dan doesn't because he said so."

Just to clarify a point, those who'd use terrorism are to be taken as a threat. Whether it is Bush or Bin Laden.

Islamic terrorists need to be dealt with, but I'd suggest that we'd be much wiser to deal with them more along the lines of a criminal problem rather than a group to wage war against.

I don't think Islamic terrorists are as much a threat to the world as Bush's actions, which I and a good number of people and voters agree are creating more terrorists. It's not that we don't think terrorists don't need to be dealt with, it's just that we think Bush's approach is an ass-backwards way of trying to deal with them.

You may now carry on with your ranting and demonization.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Dec 01, 03:09:00 PM:

there ya go LB, the poster child for denial has responded. And for the record I should add.

You position is quite clear Dan. it's completely wrong mind you, but its quite clear.

If I had the time I'd photoshop your photo into that famous picture of Neville Chamberlain with his worthless treaty. You could be the guy in the lower left hand corner, holding Chamberlain's umbrella.

Thanks for the totally unnecessary clarification.

You may now return to grovelling.

Oh, uh Dan?

East is the other way.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Dec 01, 03:36:00 PM:

Oh, and Dan, answer a few questions for me.

How many terrorists did the Russians manufacture? You know when they leveled Grozny and whacked everybody they could find? How many new terrorists do you reckon the Russians created?

I figure that the ruskies killed around 25,000 people Dan. Men, women, children. some say that the Russian soldiers STARTED the firefight at Beslan just to show the Muslim hostage takers that taking hostages didn't work.

Shouldn't that have created hundred of thousands of new terrorists Dan?

If your silly little theory is true Dan, shouldn't Russia be up to its ass in angry Muslims Dan?

Then why does the Islamic Republic of Iran treat Russia with such respect?

Why do they do business together Dan?

Why do the mullahs of Iran rely on their relationship with Russia as an offset to US diplomatic efforts in the UN Dan?

is it because the Russians are just general all around nice guys?

Was it the way the Russian police gassed EVERYBODY in that Moscow theatre Dan?

Or is it because the Russians killed enough muslims to prove that they are not to be f*cked with?


Oops. I'm sorry, I think I took you past prayer time Dan. Got your rug handy?

don't those babes just look soooo hot in those burkahs?

See you at tonight's stoning. Wasn't that whipping last week just the best?

man I'll bet you just love Sharia.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Fri Dec 01, 04:05:00 PM:

"it's not personal Lanky, not at all."

Oh course not. You have very impartial writing and you clearly base your commentary on what is written, rather than personal biases. Your use of logos is impeccable, and your shocking avoidance of pathos separates your argumentive style from the more hotheaded conservative pundits. One cannot imagine the dizzying intellect behind your scripture, whose artful words persuade not just the mind, but the soul.

Dan: I hope you are sufficiently chastized for supporting the Nazis and trying to get us all killed. (I know I am.) You cannot imagine the shame.

Skipsailing, I know you are a busy man and the world needs you, but if you could please find the time to photoshop Dan into a suitable charicature (and perhaps myself as well). That would teach us a valuable lesson: not to mess with our intellectual superiors. It will be difficult for me to change, but I shall endeavor to wet my bed over the Muslin threat at least once a week.  

By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Fri Dec 01, 04:26:00 PM:

In Skippy's defense, Lanky, I DID tell him to carry on with his demonization.

It makes some folk feel oh so much more safe and secure if they can just find a good bad guy to fear and ridicule.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Dec 01, 05:31:00 PM:

Oh my.

Perhaps you're just not used to being the object of derision boys. But you are.

All these years of all your smarmy self importance and all of you start to sound like John Kerry. And on a Friday afternoon after a long tough week it is good to laugh at something and that something happens to be you! Well maybe not you, personally, maybe just the foolish positions you expect me to accept. They really are laughable.

so go ahead and have a good laugh at my expense. I know you think I'm bananas so yuck it up on me!

Come Monday we'll all be back to our suitably sanctimonious selves, but for now I think it is important to do what people have historically done in the presence of fools: laugh. at each other.

So lanky, now that you're the comment cop for tiger hawk, perhaps on Monday you can show us your shiny new badge. Then when you scold me for my comment content I'll be, well, scolded, right?

And Dan, I'm looking forward to more insight from the Ineffectual WASP point of view. It's just sooooo handy in time of war. I'm sure by Monday you'll have more generalizations-by-which-we-all-should-live to share with those benighted souls who have yet to reach your exalted and enlightened state. How is nirvanah, anyway?

And Again, where are all the terrorists that the Russians created boys? Or is this another "theory" that you guys swear by but can't actually support with, like, you know, evidence?

I'm still chucking over the whole "police matter" theory. All you two needed was the grease paint and the big red nose you'd have the scene down pat. How do all of you fit into that little car?

I know its just soooo inconvenient to test your most cherished theories against the real world but those of us who actually live in the real world do it all the time.

You should try it guys! No, seriously boys, try it! Break out of your self referential circle of WASPy know it alls and try to contend with someone who has absolutely no respect for you or your highly nuanced positions.

Like me, for example.

Warm up on me and then move on to the bikers at that smoky bar up the street. Those guys know nuance, leave me tell ya.

I trust the two of you with our national defense about as much as I'd trust a guy who drove up for a date with my daughter in a van.

But hey, enough nuance for a Friday night. You two have a fun weekend. I'm sure there's a candlelight vigil or an important conversation or something to look forward to, n'est ce pas?

Are you planning to participate in that whole orgasm for peace thing? It couldn't hurt, right?

and thanks, Dan, I do feel safe. But then again, I live in a concealed carry state.

Tah tah boys.  

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