The March to War With Iran

The Senate passed a bill yesterday instructing the military to give it more details on what it calls Iran’s intolerable acts of hostility towards the US. As Agonist readers know the drumbeat that Iran is behind attacks on the US in Iraq (indeed, that next to al-Qaeda it is the primary actor) has been going on for months now. (Al-Qaeda, of course, is not the primary insurgency movement in Iraq, and the evidence on Iran is sketchy and beside the point in any case. Thank goodness the USSR didn’t nuke the US into the ground for supplying the mujahideen with weaponry, which is simply a matter of public record, not of conjecture.)

This is part of the drumbeat for war with Iran. The bill passed 97-0 and while authorization for military action was stripped out of it (for now), does anyone doubt that the military will report anything but that Iran is deeply involved in giving support to everyone in Iraq, including Sunni insurgency groups it makes no sense for Iran to work with? They certainly have in the past, and while the evidence has bordered on non-existent, there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to do so.

So let’s remind everyone just how easy it is to stampede a country into a war.

We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”- Herman Goering

Americans are being played. They are being played exactly the way they were played in the run-up to the Iraq war. Every piece of evidence that Iran has been attacking the US has been dubious, unsourced or so vague as to be meaningless. Even if Iran was supplying some weaponry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is supplying some to the US’s allies in the Badr brigades, for example, ask yourself very clearly if you’re willing to go to war over that and if you think that supplying weapons to a group resisting an occupation is really a causus belli. Because the US has done it, itself, more than once.

Leaving aside all considerations of morality and of the US’s foreign reputation, a war against Iran right now is military insanity. The US is currently losing two wars already and Iran is in a position to shut off the majority of Middle Eastern oil supplies. Trust me, a few weeks, even, of over $200 or $300 a barrel oil, absolute shortages throughout the world, and no US citizen will be safe anywhere outside US sovereign soil because everyone, even Europeans, will be paying for America’s splendid little war.

Senators were played in the run up to the Iraq war. They’re being played again right now, and so are Americans. The drumbeat of propaganda against Iran is never ending, mostly false (or at least unverifiable, and the US has no credibility on these questions) and planted in all the same places as the propaganda against Iraq was.

Fool me once – shame on you.

Fool me twice – shame on me.

Crooks and Liars has the video of Levin and Lieberman smooching it up.

FDL has text and phone numbers.

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Ian Welsh

63 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Here we go again, blindly going into another fiasco. Someone ought to start a poll:

    Congress and the Administration are laying the groundwork a new war, this one with Iran.

    Do you support going to war against Iran?

    If you answered yes, can you locate Iran on a map of the world?

  • If one wants to short circuit the notion that war with Iran is a reasonable response to Iranian actions in Iraq it would be wise to acknowledge what Iran is doing, clearly state their grand strategy and strike against the notion that war is the reasonable policy response. Every time someone gets up and with the same breath denies the evidence as to what Iran is doing (or damns the notion with “faint praise”) and speaks against it using the politicized language that draws in the run up to the Iraq war, I cringe. In doing so they put together a construct that allows the oppo to more easily sell war as policy. All the oppo now need do is say that the denialists are out of touch with what is plainly happening on the ground and that nothing in their set of policy prescriptions is worthy of being followed.

    Acknowledge Iranian actions and interests, clearly state the same for the American realm, and then advocate a coherent policy that seeks to roll back the most deleterious parts of the Iranian strategy without resorting to war. For all the frequent talk as to the importance of frames, it continues to amaze me that no one seems to get that constantly focusing the debate on the validity of the motivations for war, without highlighting the myriad policy options less than war is perhaps the ultimate example of falling for a negative frame.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • Iran is doing exactly what the US would do. Suppose the US had no nukes and China who had nukes landed an army in Mexico and started fighting with the locals over oil or whatever. What would the US do? Stand idly by and watch China gain influence over our neighbor? Not try to develop its own nukes? Not support Mexican factions that are traditionally allies of the US with weapons and intelligence?

    The only acknowledgment I would like to see is that the US is an imperial power trying to enforce its imperial will on uncooperative smaller countries who happen to have resources the US wants. When the US acknowledges this then we can all move forward.

  • Ok, Dave, where’s the proof? Honestly, I haven’t seen it. They’re free to come up with some, but the bar is very high – after all, they made up “the proof” on Iraq.

    It’s also unclear to me that you’re replying to the article I actually wrote. In my article I:

    1) stated that Iran may well be giving some aid to some actors in Iraq (though I really doubt they’re giving substantial aid to Sunni groups)

    2) Note that even if they are treating it as causus belli is a dangerous precedent – after all, the US has done the same thing in other nations, most notably Afghanistan. Should the USSR have nuked America into the ground for their part in killing nice Soviet boys?

    3) Stated that the US can’t afford a war with Iran right now anyway.

    You’re also wrong about drawing references to the run-up to Iraq. Let’s spell it out again – they LIED to take the US TO WAR. That’s their record. It is fair to call them on that record. Since the administration lies every day about how much, say AQ, is part of the problem in Iraq, they have no credibility. They are lying right now, we know they are lying right now.

    I honestly don’t get what your problem is. I just don’t. They lied in the past to take the country to war. They are lying right now. In amongst those lies may be some truths – so what? What I do know is that things I have an independent line on – say the presence of AQ in Iraq, they’re lying on. Things I don’t have an independent line on (Iranian weapons to Sunni insurgents) I don’t see any reason to trust them – they don’t get any “Oh, America’s military and intelligence agencies wouldn’t lie” credit. Sorry.

    They have lied in the past. They are lying right now. They have zero credibility. For them to be believed, on anything, right now, requires a smoking gun.

    No, I’ll keep attacking their credibility AND the idea that supplying weapons is sufficient causus belli AND the idea that a war with Iran is a good idea regardless, given US overstretch.

    As for the “oppo”, let me put it crudely – FUCK EM. Their record on the Iraq war is to have called it wrong all down the fucking line. Those of us who expected the insurgency, who said things would keep getting worse, called it right. They have no credibility, because they have been WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

    All they have going for them is that they are very good at propaganda and can say they have “secret info”. That may well be enough, it was sure enough to convince 70% of Americans that Iraq was behind 9/11. But it doesn’t give them any credibility with those of us who know that they are liars whose judgement has been proved incorrect time and time again.

  • Your brother’s-in-intellect within the corridors of Iranian power will no doubt sieze this opportunity to prove their innocence. Of course, to be called upon to “prove one’s innocence” is to be gravely insulted and so, once they have done so, the U.S. will owe them. Part of the reason it is a grave insult to demand that a party prove their innocence is that, in the general case, proving a negative (“I didn’t do it!”) is impossible but, in many specific cases it’s possible and in many more it is at least possible to give a credible explaination of why it isn’t possible. If your case doesn’t fall into those two cases (provable innocense or simple explanation of why it can’t be proven) then you can always acknowledge that or try to explain why it is hard to explain.

    -t

  • A group of people is not a person. It is not inanimate, either. The dichotomy between persons and inanimate objects that you draw is mistaken.

    To a person, it is reasonable to ascribe such mentality as the best guesses of our “mirror neurons” suggest, so to speak. Yet, to apply that same mode of thinking to a state is a bit crazy. “Human” is not fractal, in that way.

    -t

  • …appears to be having the poor taste to disagree with you. If you’ll try for a civil discussion rather than resorting to the shout capitals, I’ll try to explain my position.

    My contention is that Iran is substantially involved in Iraq through various overt and covert means, including those listed in the findings section of amendment 2073. You choose to believe that this evidence is dubious, unsourced, and vague. I disagree and have followed the evidence cited closely for a good long time and understand what I’m looking at – contrary to the “Iran doesn’t manufacture 81mm mortar rounds” / “beehive charges = EFPs” folks, moreover I find it extremely consistent with Iranian actions in other conflicts over a period most conveniently measured in decades. I also assess that the reporting on all this is consistent enough, detailed enough, long-running enough, and multi-sourced enough that it can not be dismissed as deceit.

    My further contention is that an argument that clearly acknowledges what Iran is doing, but seeks to counter those action with options other than war is more effective than one which rhetorically reduces the policy options to the binary you present in your piece: Iranian policy is casus belli, or not; Americans are being played with the aim of going to war; war is impossible; war is too expensive in terms of its effect on the price of oil.

    When you hang all of your opposition to potential war on the notion that the Iranians aren’t doing what the int says they are and leave it at that, then you don’t have a lot left in the policy larder when folks don’t agree with you and believe that the Iranians are doing what the int says they are. Make some arguments about what should be done other than war, if the Iranians actually are doing some or all of what the int says they are.

    In my view what you’re building in making these hard binary white/black, right/wrong arguments is politics – forcing folks into little us/them boxes (and that notion that it’s all about politics is only reinforced by the ceaseless references to the run up to Iraq). I’m interested in policy and good policy is about being resilient, about having a set of options at hand that has some flexibility when one finds that one’s assumptions are wrong. If you couch the argument as you have with the decision being just war or not war, founded on the absence of evidence and high cost, what do you do when the evidence comes forth and you find to your surprise that people are willing to pay the butcher’s bill? Have you prepared the policy ground for possible responses other than war or do you get steamrolled because the issue moves quickly? In the run up, have you missed opportunities to bleed the hardliners by forcing them to face less jingoistic options?

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • about what you said. I think some of what you are suggesting is smart politics, i.e. acknowledging that Iran is probably engaging in certain actions, etc. . .

    But, I think Ian also has a huge point in that each time the Administration has made allegations and offered some kind of proof it’s been garbage. So, I think to a great degree Ian is right that the Democrats and their surrogates need to attack on that basis: that everything OVP and POTUS has on offer is based on lies. Check the track record. Repeat every chance you get.

    If they persist then I think your tack is advisable, “so, the Iranians are engaged in actions of this sort–to a certain extent, Are those actions a casus belli?”

    Here’s where Ian’s frustration–and mine–comes in: the Senate basically said that Iran is engaged in conduct that is a casus belli! That’s why were both so infuriated. If the opposition to a war in Iran doesn’t ramp up and ramp up soon it’s going to happen.

    And that sucks no matter how you slice it.

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.”

  • To throw into the mix:

    It is foolish to assume that there is any such thing as limited war with Iran — limited either to scope of engagement with Iran or in immediate regional consequences. I sense that you would agree with that.

    The idea of hot engagement of Iran should be treated as no different from the idea of committing to a systempunkt collapse of the Iranian state and, with better than random probability at least, committing to a systempunkt collapse of the bulk of the region. In which cases, death tolls start to look distinctly comparable in scale to Nazi death camps. We might get lucky and do much better than that but plannnig should not assume so.

    Which is to say, the questions you raise are urgent and I hope that Ian and kin turn their minds to them.

    Nauseous, isn’t it?

    If there is redemption anywhere in there, it might have something to do with the fact that the death camps are arguably there already, and the only remaining question is who is in power over them. At least our aim is to shut them down.

    -t

  • on the radio I took a mix of your suggestions, Dave and Ian’s: while your was the more thoughtful, Ian’s approach left the callers without much to say in reply.

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.”

  • talking about dasht?

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.”

  • Ian’s approach left the callers without much to say in reply.

    Why would that be a goal? I mean, I’m sure you don’t mean to put your personal business interests ahead of our globally shared interests in world affairs — that would make you analogous to your negative portrayals of the MSM.

    -t

  • …which is more valuable:

    a) leaving a political opponent without a comeback, or

    b) ensuring that LCpl Snuffy has some viable options vis-a-vis Iranian influenced militias in his sector?

    Policy first, then figure out how you’re going to sell it politically. When politics drives policy, policy seems invariably to suffer – politics, on the other hand, frequently prospers when driven by policy.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • Politics is policy Dave. That’s what professional analysts often don’t seem to get.

    You may want flexible options. What I see is that the flexibility you want leads to giving very bad actors who want war their causus belli. This isn’t an administration where one can have lots of subtle shades of grey because any rope you give them, they will use for predetermined policy goals. They do not determine policy by what works, they determine policy by what their ideology says will work. And then, in almost every case, their policy fails.

    One of the rules of dealing with the Bush administration is that if you have a policy goal, you do not want them to do it. Because they will screw it up. That’s their record.

    You may find caps rude, but I found it rude that you read only one of the three points I made in the article.

    Again: I don’t believe the claims because the people making it are known liars who have a pattern of lying about just such issues and are currently lying about other things I can confirm are lies right at this very moment. The fact that what they say is plausible doesn’t cut it. Good lies often are plausible (the other kind are so unplausible no one would believe anyone would lie about them.) But let’s say that for once they’re telling the truth (and I do trust your judgement a fair bit), even if that is the case:

    a)war with Iran is still a really bad idea. The US is losing two wars, does it really need to lose a third one at the same time? Do we really need our economies wrecked by what will happen to the price and supply of oil?

    b) I don’t see supplying weapons as causus belli. Again, should the Soviets have nuked America into ashes because the Americans were supplying the Mujahideen and killing “their boys”? Certainly the Nicauragrans had causus belli, but were too weak to do anything about it. Plenty of other nations have also had causus belli under those terms.

    I will also note, yet again, that the Bush administration was very publicly wrong about Iraq, in every way possible. They have no credibility, they are at this exact time, lying about other things we know. I see no reason to grant them any presumption of truth on anything. Why should I? Why should anyone? And let’s say you’re right and they are telling the truth on Iranian aid to, apparently, practically everyone in Iraq – well, they’ve got the problem the Boy Who Cried Wolf has, don’t they?

    The rhetoric in the resolution is the sort of rhetoric leads towards war. It is the same sort of rhetoric that lead to the Iraq war. It’s very dangerous.

    Again, if it were another administration, I might just think “oh, they’re using this to put diplomatic pressure on Iran but they wouldn’t be insane enough to…”

    I can’t give Bush that benefit of the doubt. Just can’t do it. Nor can I give the Senate the benefit of the doubt. Their past behaviour shows they can be stampeded into almost all voting for very bad bills by fear and jingoism.

    But let’s turn it back to you. Let’s say you’re right, and Iran is giving a lot of weapons and aid to factions who are killing US occupation troops in Iraq. Let’s say I were to agree, the President was to agree and Congress was to agree (and hey, 2 of them do agree, and my opinion doesn’t really matter).

    What do you think should be done about it? What policy option do you think would work to make the Iranians stop? As far as I can see what you want – people acknowledging Iran is behind giving weapons and aid, is the official position of everyone who matters in the US government and military.

    So – what should they do about it? What can some light Colonel on the ground do about it that will have any real effect? What should the President be doing? What should Congress be doing? What should the Secretary of State be doing?

    I suspect my answer wouldn’t be that different from yours, actually. But I’m curious, let’s see…

  • is a pretty darn good policy, not just good politics. As a matter of fact, it appears as if avoiding war with Iran is bad politics.

    And I know it may be hard to believe, but when I go on the radio I’m there in good faith–I’m not trying to shill for the Dems. I’m trying to save my country from making a disaster.

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.”

  • that a war with Iran is a bad fooking idea. Don’t you think that’s a worthwhile goal?

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.”

  • that a war with Iran is a bad fooking idea. Don’t you think that’s a worthwhile goal?

    I want to believe so and I think J.P.D. and I are united in the narrow way that we both hope you et al. will help persuade us so. You are so far failing to do so in some articulable ways, which J.P.D. has been carefully laying out.

    -t

  • It seems to me likely that an invasion of Iran would unite the Muslims of the Middle East and Central Asia, in less than a decade, behind a radical Islamic leadership. The “Islamic Crescent” to give it a name, would hold the largest petroleum reserves in the world, and would probably find an ally in China. The risks are so enormous, that I cannot imagine why we would even consider this.

  • WWIII has been going on for a number of years now. You’re right (but late to the party) about that. My opinion, really, is that WWII never quite finished — we’re still there.

    As for an attack on Iran uniting the crescent — yup, that’s probably the initial reaction. And that’s probably about all it is, afaict: just “initial”. The radical nihilists have nothing to offer but the thrill of indignation. Lube ’em up.

    -t

  • Two Texas oil men run the US. The US attacked the country with the second largest oil reserves in the World, Iraq, and now it looks ready to attack the country with the third largest, Iran. Is this a coincidence? The US also attacked a country, Afghanistan, that is strategically placed between the oil and gas producers and the oil and gas consumers in Asia; another coincidence I suppose.

    Now Dave is suggesting that it is a good idea to acknowledge what Iran is doing in Iraq. Come on. The US overthrows Iran’s Democratic government and installs a dictator, the Shaw, in its place. Later, the US gives WMDs, chemical weapons, to Iraq for specific use against Iran. Then the US attacks Iraq saying it has WMD’s. Pretty f’d up don’t you think? Naturally, the only WMD’s the US could find in Iraq are the ones Rumsfeld gave them to attack Iran with. Obviously, it makes sense the the US should attack Iran because, uh, they might someday get WMD’s?

  • …politics is frequently anything but policy. I’ve seen far too much political rhetoric that served to conceal policy to ever believe that. But that, that’s a piece for another day. I did read all your argument and “speaks against it using the politicized language that draws in the run up to the Iraq war” covers, in my twisted thought at least, your points two and three as originally expressed.

    It’s good that you don’t trust the administration, because I don’t trust them either. But, if you want to keep them from doing dumb things, you have to give the folks in areas of government other than the White House a freer range of options so they can subvert and undercut. That means not seeking to limit their range of actions. The part of the electorate that’s most passionate about ending the war shouldn’t tie a rhetorical anvil to the legs of their political representatives that helps guys that aren’t averse to a more prolonged war sell the notion that those representatives are out of touch with what’s going on. And this is a guy that wants a longer draw down than you do telling you this.

    Every time that you say the Bush administration has no credibility on the intelligence, you systematically undercut anyone more towards your side of the issue that accepts the intelligence and wants to do anything with it other than go to war. You’ve properly highlighted that this isn’t something worth going to high intensity conflict over, but neither is it something that it is acceptable to simply ignore – not least because to do so tremendously weakens your political hand. So too, does only saying “I don’t believe the intelligence”. If you spend all of your time and energy pushing that position, what are you going to do if you suddenly turn out to be wrong? How many months behind the game are you willing to be? Good policy takes time and it needs be receptive to opportunities that come along over time – sticking to disbelief with fervour gives you less time and ensures missed options that really bite when the field reverses on you. Protect against gullibility, to be sure, but hedge the bet.

    Yes rhetoric like this can be dangerous. Counter-rhetoric that focuses solely on saying no to the underlying premise of war, buttressed with arguments that in my opinion are likely going to be proven wrong, is similarly dangerous. Talk about accepting to argue in a framework that’s damaging to your strategy – this is to my mind an example. If the facts buttressing your counter are wrong, where’s your fallback position? You’ve said you don’t trust them and they shouldn’t be followed in very large part because they were wrong previously – what happens if they are demonstrated correct this time? Where does that leave the argument? You can shift to being against war on issues of competence of prosecution, expense, and morality, but that’s playing catch-up. Far better that one have a prepared and viable alternative policy that can be sold politically on issues of competence, expense and morality.

    I don’t think that the Iranians can be made to stop, but I believe they can be hindered. The most immediate problem from a US perspective is the EFP networks – these get targetted with the SOF and Int fusion apparatus that went after Zarqawi. This is, I think, the Iranians perceived biggest threat and the motivator for the recent spate of tit for tat kidnapping. Other than that, the standard lessons of dialogue, engagement and dropping the regime change rhetoric would apply – seek to stop giving the hardliners in Iran further buttressing. A few other tactical things could be done like slipping booby trapped Iranian ammo into the supply pipeline and good psyops expounding on native Iranian-Iraqi mistrust of one another – given that the Iranians seem willing to fight to the last Iraqi Shia, there’s material to work with.

    From a strategic sense, the biggest piece the Iranians have on the board is their sway over Hezbollah and to a lesser extent Hamas. I tend to think that the thing to do is to threaten the loyalty of those pieces – engage them, woo them; soft music, long walks, hand holding. Wake up to the fact that the potential threat that Islamist resistance movements will hold to the state of Israel after an Israeli withdrawal can be greatly reduced and maybe even ultimately eliminated, rather than increasing as current policy is doing. Folks don’t seem to realise that there was initially serious opposition among the Shia to Hezbollah continuing to be an armed state within a state after the Israeli withdrawal, founded on a belief that the movement had validity as a resistance movement but that that validity did not extend to attacking Israel once it had been removed from Lebanon. Support for maintaining an armed capability was concentrated among highly religious Shia. The events of last summer almost certainly broadened that base of support far beyond religious Shia, but there remains material to work with, over a period of time. Similar notions would extend to Syria – aiming to strip them off. Engage Syria and Iranian proxies, but contain Iran while making it clear that constructive engagement can be readily obtained based on policy change.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • …good faith – I have never, and I mean never believed that you’d place the interests of your party before the interests of your country.

    My point would be that you may need to leave your opponent with a comeback, so that you can help bring them round to better policy that they’d reflexively reject. The object ain’t just to beat ’em – the object’s to make ’em think, and think particularly about how their side’s giving ’em damn all in the way of smart options.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • …I think war with Iran is a catastrophically bad idea. Where I disagree is in how one sets the policy and sells it politically to avoid war.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • …I think war with Iran is a catastrophically bad idea.

    There don’t seem to be any specifically good options/ideas on the table. I.e., you don’t have to convince anyone of “bad idea” — the question is whether or not it is the “least bad among the all the various bad ideas (where there doesn’t seem to be any idea that isn’t in the set of bad ideas)”.

    Where I disagree is in how one sets the policy and sells it politically to avoid war.

    Community experience in the open source software world yields the maxim that “with enough eyes on the problem, all bugs are shallow”.

    I understand your admonitions in previous messages in this thread to be pointers towards the actual problem. Good ideas are easy to sell — I wouldn’t worry about that too much, initially. Agreement about the nature of the problem for which ideas are needed is where we have problems (is what I understand you to say and is something I agree with).

    Better?

    -t

  • One might not believe that one’s political opponents are reasonable people, acting in rational good faith on best avaiable evidence. One might not believe that one’s opponents might have a privileged perspective on relevant information.

    Yet, within one’s political opposition, if one maintains the habit of acting as if one’s opponents are reasonable people and as if they might have the superior situational awareness — then one can be a lot more politically effective.

    It’s almost like a poetic form — the reasonable person principle. Whatever one says in politics needn’t rhyme or scan in a particular way — but it should enter into the world view of your political opponents through the device of assuming that they are entirely reasonable, missing only information or logical insight, either of which one might supply to change the course of events.

    -t

  • Wow, TPM is goofy
    The TPM piece is rubbish. If the game is to draw reasonable speculations from the sources it cited, it does a lousy job, meanwhile bending over backwards to find some way to rescue the trip as a blow to the administration.

    ( … Link … )

    instructive
    It’s instructive to me to see how baseless rumour and democratic party political spin turns into accepted fact in some circles… even if you do believe that, aren’t you led to the basic conclusion that Pelosi is a gullible idiot, unqualified for a trip like this one?

    ( … Link … )

    Do carry on.

    I love to watch an artist at work.

  • …the notion that anything other than unlimited war with Iran is possible. Look to the history – there have been a number of limited reprisal operations. Not least, the history there’s rich enough that the Iranians refused to believe that downing their airbus was an accident. Things would be more complicated now (this would be a prime example of why the Iranians have made the investment in ballistic missiles that they have – which would in turn be the reason for the PAC-3 Patriot deployments a while back), but I’m pretty skeptical that anything immediately spirals to high intensity conflict. Messy, yes – immediately a major regional conflict, no.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • Actually I’m quite unsure that I agree with…the notion that anything other than unlimited war with Iran is possible.

    I’m fretting about the “soccer mob” mentality.

    -t

  • Yes, I’m an old DFH.

    Rough-as-a-Cob March
    The Firesign Theatre

    Choir: We’re marching, marching to Shibboleth,
    With the Eagle and the Sword!
    We’re praising Zion ’til her death,
    Until we meet our last reward!
    Men: Our Lord’s reward!
    Women: Zion! Oh happy Zion!
    O’er wrapp’d, but not detained!
    Men: Lion, f’rocious Lion!
    His beard our mighty mane!
    Women: At First and Main!
    Men: Oh, we’ll go marching, marching to Omaha,
    With the Buckram and the Cord!
    Women: You’ll hear us “boom” our State!
    Men: Ha, ha!
    As we cross the final ford!
    Women: The flaming Ford!
    Choir: Zion! Oh mighty Zion!
    Your bison now are dust!
    As your cornflakes rise
    ‘Gainst the rust-red skies,
    Then our blood requires us must
    Go-o-o-o
    Men: Marching, marching to Shibboleth,
    With the Eagle and the —
    Women: The Buckram and the Cord!
    Men: Sword!
    Praising Zion ’til her death!
    Women: Ha, ha!
    Men: Until we eat our last reward!
    Women: The flaming Ford!
    Choir: Zion! Oh righteous Zion!
    There is no one to blame!
    For the homespun pies
    ‘Neath the cracking skies
    Shall release the fulsome rain!
    Tenor: Shall release!
    Men: Shall release!
    Soprano: Shall release!
    Women: Shall release!
    Choir: Shall release the vinyl rein!


    Turn back to the Constitution – and
    READ it.

  • …to really parse what I did say, but suffice it to say that I do believe that, if necessary, it is possible to engage in military operations against Iran without it becoming unlimited war, provided one is very, very careful.

    In the morning I will process more completely and seek to figure out WTF I really did say…

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • WWII never quite finished — we’re still there.

    – who is your putative antagonist? Who has the enemy been for the last sixty-eight years?

    Differentiate (qualitatively) between your statement and an Islamist claiming “the Crusades never quite finished – we’re still there” for us.

    As for an attack on Iran uniting the crescent — yup, that’s probably the initial reaction. And that’s probably about all it is, afaict: just “initial”.

    So by “just initial” – just to get a handle on timeframe, one might say, for instance… “it could last six days, six weeks – I doubt six months“?

  • me: WWII never quite finished — we’re still there.

    thee: – who is your putative antagonist?

    It’s not continuous — no single antagonist actor. It’s just that fixing the largest military tensions in “ending” WWII left embers burning, and things spread. People have been pushing around the obstacles to global peace since then, not really putting out the fires.

    Differentiate (qualitatively) between your statement and an Islamist claiming “the Crusades never quite finished – we’re still there” for us.

    It’s exactly on the question of “who’se the antagonist”. When some people chant that the Crusades are still happening, they seem to mean that there is some continuous line to be drawn from a historic enemy to today’s enemy. When I remark that WWII never ended, I only mean that “that fire never quite went out and as it has since jumped around and spread it still accounts for much of the conflict in the world today”.

    As for an attack on Iran uniting the crescent — yup, that’s probably the initial reaction. And that’s probably about all it is, afaict: just “initial”.

    So by “just initial” – just to get a handle on timeframe, one might say, for instance… “it could last six days, six weeks – I doubt six months”?

    I only mean that that initial unification is unlikely to lead to a steady state absent further disruptive influence which would surely follow. It’s a very sad set of circumstances so forgive me for trying to speak about with the care to concentrate on essential abstractions rather than ad hominem attacks and exchanges, eh?

    -t

  • Perhaps. But perhaps not. Keeping wars “limited” doesn’t always work out. Especially since, if I’m the Iranians, I know I’ll lose a limited war.

  • …is very likely to go sideways. Anything that looked at all like it might go after their strategic nuclear program, for example, would escalate dramatically. Well chosen punitive strikes might well not get to the point of open warfare. There’d absolutely be tit for tat, but these guys have been there before and they know that there are real serious downsides to going too far.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • Isn’t limited war only possible if both sides agree to only bomb each other a little? The terminology makes no sense to me. Do you worry about what the Shiite response in Iraq would be?

  • …I’m not advocating “limited war” or even use of force directly against Iran. Going after the EFP networks would necessarily involve some use of force against Iranian assets inside Iraq, but I don’t think I’d want to go much beyond that, were it my decision. It could well escalate to tit for tat reprisals, but I’d sure want to keep things from going any further. Others may disagree, but to my mind all this is a level of conflict well below limited war.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • I have no doubts as to JPD’s assertions of Iranian action in Iraq, but why does it appear to be so low key? I would think they could cause a whole lot more trouble if they wanted to, but they seemingly don’t.

  • I suspect that Iran (as a political entity) is mostly involved in helping Shia who are largely uninvolved on attacks on the US. Arms dealers sell to anyone, and it’s doubtful Iran has vastly greater control over them than the US does over those who sell American made armaments to all and sundry. Since we’re attacked by Iraqis using US made arms, that seems a no-brainer. We’re still at sabre rattling stage, and will be until the US gets out of harms way in Iraq.

  • that the end of WWI/Treaty of Versailles facilitated Hitler’s rise, the seeds of WWI were sown in such events as the Franco-Prussian war and the seeds of the Franco-Prussian War etc etc etc. How far back do we want to go, and to what purpose?

    What “never really finished”, what unites the threads, is not WWII but European colonialism.

    Or perhaps we’re actually in agreement – perhaps you’re implying that a prime “failure to finish the job” in WWII is that Roosevelt tried and failed to exact pledges from de Gaulle and Churchill to do a controlled dismantling of their respective colonial legacies as a precondition of aid, therefore setting the scene for such situations as Vietnam – Partition – Palestine – ? There is a rather striking correlation between the dying embers of those empires and some concentrations of very pissed off people, isn’t there? Like Pakistan, or Lebanon, or Palestine, or Syria, or Iraq or… well, basically most everywhere that’s a sharp stick up our nether fundament today.

    It’s a very sad set of circumstances so forgive me for trying to speak about with the care to concentrate on essential abstractions rather than ad hominem attacks and exchanges, eh?

    I sympathize, I’m sure it must be a somewhat vexing situation for you.

  • These days, in England, and Canada, and the U.S., and Iran — in all of those cases — social and technological arrangements are shifting, these days, towards new forms of surveillance of and positioning of and in other ways control of individual people. In some sense it was ever so but, these days, the pace of innovation and build-out seems notably swift.

    I’m speaking very broadly, not just of governments. Of course there are famous things like London’s surveillance of public spaces or the U.S.’s mucking around in the switching closets of major telecoms. But, the more subtle and often non-state stuff is equally… er… interesting. Corporate handling of so-called private information, Internet-enabled crime organizations — it’s just “power” generally that is ramping up its tools for exherting control over all of the material aspects of people.

    So, anyway, that’s the global trend, sadly (I didn’t mean to leave out any other nation — the one’s above are mentioned just as convenient examples).

    One of the possible nightmare-scenario limit-case outcomes of that trend is to wind up with populations that are, basically, “domesticated” in the sense that agricultural species are domesticated. Domesticated species are, basically, known quantities in an engineering process — they are (for all human purposes) 100% controllable “devices” — mix inputs at various levels and get certain predictable outputs.

    Complete control, of pedagogy, family structure, ecomic status, health care and jurisprudence over a domesticated population of humans is slavery perfected. That subject population is “dead”. It is a soul death.

    I don’t like slave owners.

    -t

  • I was having a hard time picturing you cheerleading a war. I wonder now with Saudis making up the bulk of insurgents how the administration will spin it to be still Iran’s fault. I suppose the Saudis were poor and needed funding 😉

  • …idea whose fault it ultimately is (and a big part of it’s theirs i.e., the USG’s). The problem is that it’s part of a decades long trajectory, ultimately linked to the founding compact of the Saudi state. Hence, they’re keeping quiet about it – the Saudis don’t have a lot of choice and State knows it. Additionally, as I mentioned in another thread – if the Saudis lock these guys down totally and don’t leave the escape valve cracked a bit, they’ll go after the Saudi state even more than they already have, and particularly the oil infrastructure. $150 a barrel oil would give the West even less potential leverage over the Iranians than they currently have.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • …in their interest, since it keeps us bogged down. But that’s secondary to keeping us between their Shia friends and the various Sunni factions who are their (the Shia in Iraq) main enemy.

  • when you just attempted to semantically link Iran with “death camps”, upon closer inquiry you were merely speaking metaphorically of practices/policies (“soul death”) of which, by extension, Western corporations and governments are also guilty?

  • when you just attempted to semantically link Iran with “death camps”, upon closer inquiry you were merely speaking metaphorically of practices/policies (“soul death”) of which, by extension, Western corporations and governments are also guilty?

    Not at all.

    I am not speaking metaphorically. Slavery perfected may be a slow death but it is a certain death. Sould death is death — it is just a death in which your killer takes particular delight in sucking the marrow out of your soul as you die.

    I am not equivocating between the ills of Western corporations and governments and the ills of Iran. That equivocation is your thing, not mine. I pointed out that they have, in common, a technology-driven acceleration — which is no small part of my sense of urgency about, for one example, Iran. But, observing that commonality is here meant to help convey why Iran and places like it are urgent, by relating it to lesser problems that happen to be closer to home.

    -t

  • Anyone can read the preceeding 7 posts. You brought up death camps in Iran as a possible existing reality. You made the comparison to Western corporations and governments. All the others are questions trying to get at what you mean. You probably need to look up “equivocation” in the dictionary. And when you say things like “your killer takes particular delight in sucking the marrow out of your soul as you die”, you should probably give us the appropriate Patronus spell. Or, you know, we might wet our beds.

  • That you’ve never met evil really face to face. Nihilism, for you, is perhaps just a “color” someone might give to their speech. I think I start to get it now — why communication around here is so difficult….

    -t

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