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March 16, 2006

Ramping Up To The Next One
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:47 AM *

A bit over a year ago (09FEB05), in Open Thread 11 in Electrolite, I wrote:

So … the invasion of Iran is on, scheduled for March or April ‘06, to have it over and free elections held there by fall of ‘08, in time for Jeb’s triumphant electorial victory.

It only makes sense, to allow US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to link up.

You read it here first.

So, how’s the crystal ball doing?

Last week:

Rice: U.S. faces ‘no greater challenge’ than Iran

Friday, March 10, 2006; Posted: 3:07 a.m. EST (08:07 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told senators Thursday that the United States faces “no greater challenge from a single country” than from Iran.


Rice: Iran ‘terror’s central bank’

Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Posted: 9:38 p.m. EST (02:38 GMT)

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday urged Iran to resume negotiations over its nuclear program, while also calling the country a central banker for terrorism.

This morning:

Bush restates pre-emptive doctrine

Thursday, March 16, 2006; Posted: 8:37 a.m. EST (13:37 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Undaunted by the difficult war in Iraq, President George W. Bush reaffirmed his strike-first policy against terrorists and enemy nations on Thursday and said Iran may pose the biggest challenge for America.

You have to hand it to these guys … once they have a plan they stick to it.

Comments on Ramping Up To The Next One:
#1 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 09:37 AM:

well, apart from that there is the fact that the iranian oil bourse is opening in oh 4-5 days... can't have anyone challenging the petro-dollar now, can we?

good call btw.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 09:46 AM:

So their assumption is that it'd all be wrapped up in time for the 2008 Election, right? That's a pretty big assumption.

When I read about going to war with Iran, I thought (along with many others), go to war with what army? And that reminded me of a visit I made to the Bay Area last year. I met again with a Republican friend I had lost touch with and we got to talk about the war. Her son had turned 18 and she was worried that he'd get drafted. If that happens, I have this feeling she's NOT voting Republican the next time around.

#3 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:21 AM:

I think Serge is right, in order to fight in Iran Bush would have to reinstate the draft. Controlling the oil fields cannot be done with smart bombs. I see no, zip, nada, zero, zilch, support for a draft in this country.

But the positioning of the entrails indeed appears quite ominous, and ravens have been sighted perching on the dome of the Capitol....

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:24 AM:

I'd say the war drums are being beaten, and the drumming is getting a lot louder.

However, I'd agree with Serge and Lizzy L, to fight a war with Iraq it would be necessary to reinstate the draft. As the father of two sons of draft age, I feel very strongly that their lives should not be put at risk either for Dick Cheney's oil profits or Chimpy's desire to show that his penis is larger than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:30 AM:

We don't need a draft. Go to war with the twelve divisions currently in the US for rest, refit, and training. Add some National Guard divisions for logistics and garrison-keeping.

After the fast, nearly bloodless victory in Iran, the Iraqi insurgency will vanish so we won't have to keep troops there. And the folks in Iran, the common people, will greet us with flowers and sweets. They are eager for democracy. Right after elections we'll withdraw our troops from Iran as well.

It'll be a tough couple of months, but the US is nothing if not tough. The Middle East will be transformed. When the other countries there see the benefits of democracy they will join their muslim brothers in becoming secular democracies. They will recognize Israel, and peace, prosperity, and security will reign in the region for the first time in 5,000 years.

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:31 AM:

I want to note, btw, Mr Macdonald that today is the anniversary of My Lai.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:33 AM:

James Macdonald: Plus everyone in the Middle East will turn into a cuddly, fluffy bunny.

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:39 AM:

I saw (on the captive-audience screen in the building elevator) the news about Shrub reaffirming pre-emptive first strikes against terrorists. My first thought was, can we call one in on a cabinet meeting?

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:40 AM:

The only, and I mean only, twisted logic that could be at play here and actually make any sort of sense is for the US to be at war when the elections swing around.

I think the factoid goes something like this: No incumbent US president ever lost reelection during wartime.

If they want to be at war in 2008 so that Bush's replacement gets a better chance of getting in, then that actually makes sense in a "lets burn down the neighborhood so we can stay in office" sort of way. Personally, I think this factoid is a result of a psychological tendancy to prefer sticking with a known-but-lousy situation rather than risk an unknown-and-possibly-worse situation. The declaration of independence notes the trend when it says

mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

The key word, I think, is "accustomed". But I digress...

Iraq doesn't count as a war anymore because no one can see anyway to "win" it. It is a quagmire, and a losing quagmire at that, so it doesn't actually count as "sufferable" anymore. It's become a severed artery of money and men.

The only way to go after Iran, though, would be to pull everyone out of Iraq and Afghanistan to launch an invasion. At which point, Iraq and Afghanistan will blossom into the sort of full-fledged anarchy that would have turned people into pillars of salt for just looking at it. As far as I can see, it can't be done. We just don't have the men and equipment to occupy three countries by force. Iraq and Afghanistan has taken us to the limit. Any more and the roman empire will have overextended itself.

I can't imagine that Bush's handlers are so stupid that they can't know this. Bush might be, but his handlers too? Perhaps they know it, but simply want to be at war when the election comes around in 2008 and they don't really care about how it turns out after that. Win at any cost? What, so they can be in office when the Anti-Abortion law is introduced in congress? To force prayer in school? Creationism? I can't imagine what they think is so important that they'd be willing to burn the empire to the ground to get it.

On a smaller scale, Israel just invaded Palestinian land to grab a couple hundred prisoners in a palestinian jail. Israel says they did it because the american and british monitors at the jail left, and they were afraid the palestinians would set the prisoners free. The palestinians point out that Israeli elections are in two weeks, and it makes Olmert look tough, which would help his image since he's a strong supporter of dismantling the settlements.

Realistically, what I see as possibly happening is that we'll out source the war with Iran to Israel. The Israeli's will send their American-made F16's into Iran, probably with intelligence from American satelites and American intelligence officers, and they will bomb the hell out of anything that might even think about making nuclear materials.

The Iranians will view Israel as America's attack dog in the middle east and respond by supporting more and more terrorism against us in Iraq and on our land. Most of the american people will be clueless and say, "What? Why are you so mad at us? We didn't do anything, Israel did." and in another 4 years or so, when we've finally given up on Iraq, we'll have the men and equipment and a "reason" to invade Iran.

But that's just me, and I haven't had my caffeine yet today...

#10 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:41 AM:

I have one question:

Why are visions of mushroom clouds dancing in my head?

I'm sure many of us here grew up with 'duck and cover' and can remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was young enough that I really didn't understand the latter, all I knew was that my Mom and Dad were scared.

I'm tired of wondering, "Who's next?"

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Greg London said: I can't imagine what they think is so important that they'd be willing to burn the empire to the ground to get it.

I can, and so can many other people who post here: I expect them to chime in at any moment. Mr. Bush and his friends want to remain in power, and the corporations their friends own and control want to keep making money. Ever heard of war-profiteering? I thought you had. They really do not give a flying fuck for the country or the soldiers who will fight and die, they want to keep the oil flowing. If Bush is not actually one of Them, he is a cipher whose handlers have manipulated him, making good use of his religious convictions, into believing the nonsense he spouts.

Do I believe the above? I don't know. But I can imagine six impossible things before breakfast, and this one seems quite possible.

#12 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:59 AM:

I recall reading in the New Yorker, I think, that a couple of years ago the junior-level neocon diplomats in Iraq were saying "Anyone can work in Baghdad, real men go to Tehran."

It's funny 'cause it's true! Har Har.

I did expect that the US would be knee deep in Syria by now, I'm surprised that hasn't happened.

#13 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Sean, I thought we'd be in Syria, too. Just shows how good my crystal ball is. It seems very likely to me that Bush will take us to war to give the Republicans a boost before the November elections. "The President needs all the support he can get."

I'd love to be wrong.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:18 AM:

The 21st Century does suck big-time so far. Will the American People show more of the same stupidity this coming autumn? Will they in 2008? Or will enough of them start using their brains that we can begin cleaning up this mess and get back on track to the proper 21st Century?

#15 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:22 AM:

Just heard from a friend in Texas whose nephew has been in Iraq for a week.

His unit has had eleven killed.

First week.

Just seemed a thing to mention in this context.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Add that a lot of the evangelical-fundamentalist neocons and Bush-backers are hoping to fill out their set of pre-conditions (per "Revelation of St John") for Armageddon, because they're sure they're saved and the rest of us are going to hell and don't count in their world. I've heard it suggested that Shrub and his maladministration might qualify as the Antichrist...

#17 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:27 AM:

cmk, I'm so sorry.

Bob Herbert has a good Op-Ed in today's NYT.

#18 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Iran could be another cakewalk, but it could lead to a limited nuclear war. I can foresee someone launching a nuke at one of the Muslim holy sites in order to arouse the rest of the Muslim world into taking action. The US would retaliate against whoever sent that nuke at the holy site. One reason would be to prevent them from launching more at other targets and another for the purpose of demonstrating that the US isn't against Muslims.

#19 ::: John Miles ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:42 AM:

I see no, zip, nada, zero, zilch, support for a draft in this country.

Not a problem. All it will take is one more Reichstag fire^W^W 9/11.

#20 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Why does the Bush administration want to invade Iran? It's simple. It's a new front in the war on terror. After all, the one thing you want to do if you're making war is to fight on as many fronts as possible. I know that's not how people used to make war, but you have to get out of a pre-9/11 mindset on these things or the terrorists will win.

I heard that we have really really good evidence that Iran has a functioning nuclear program, and they will have the bomb in a while if we don't act quickly to destroy their sites. Then there is a grave danger that they will hand over their nuclear weapons to groups like al Qaeda, who will use them against the United States. As a great person once said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

They also want to invade Iran to provide a counterbalance to that rising threat to peace in the Middle East: Iraq. Iraq is a dangerously unstable country controlled by religious zealots, with government-sanctioned death squads, egregious human rights abuses, and ethnic warfare. We must establish a stronghold in Iran to contain this instability that threatens to engulf the region.

It's obvious when you think about it.

#21 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:49 AM:

No, the only people into destroying Muslim holy sites for fun are Our Allies The Saudis, and they don't have nukes.

Mr Macdonald: That's some impressive sarcasm you have there. Thing is, I can see people pitching that idea. It's the sort of "one bold stroke and our seemingly-disastrous situation will be saved!" thinking that gives you, say, the Mortain offensive or the Battle of the Bulge. (Which, in turn, give you the Falaise Pocket and the Fall of Berlin.)

To be honest, I'd been betting on Syria too, what with it being smaller, flatter and more poorly-armed than Iran. But - no oil.

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:53 AM:

There are some indications that the plan is to start Iran as a nuclear war; there have been leaks to that effect, and indications that the detailed operational planning for a nuclear bombardment has been done.

It's important to recall that the whole US economy is based on, not merely oil, but an habitual deference induced by the massive military superiority the US presently enjoys.

The grand strategic loss from Iraq isn't so much the US Army -- though that is at least half accomplished -- as the general belief in that superiority.

Given that Cheney and Rumsfeld are stark, staring bonkers, and thus capable of believing that you can frighten people into submission through point event shows of force, this view of probable events isn't as unlikely as I would prefer it to be.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:21 PM:

Given that not enough of these guys seem to have been paying attention during all those early-sixties civil-defense movies (assuming they even saw any of them), and I doubt any of them have ever been to a location in Nevada or seen pictures of the craters at that test site, they probably think of nukes as just a bigger kind of high-explosive device.

#24 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:35 PM:

If the US does use nukes, that blows every nuclear non-proliferation treaty in the world to hell. Every country in the world will want nukes to defend itself against us. North Korea will say, "I told you so." The resulting terror and instability would be tremendous.

To say nothing of what nukes would do to the land and the people. And yes, I believe Cheney and Rumsfeld are crazy enough to do it. I'm not sure Bush is, but then, I'm not sure Bush would have anything to say about it.

#25 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:36 PM:

If I may mix my dystopian metaphors, we have always been at war with Oceania.

Pass the soma.

#26 ::: Leslie in CA ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:43 PM:

And speaking of ramping up, MSNBC is reporting that the U.S. just "launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country." Just in time for Israel to attack Iran on the 28th, with our help?

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Elizabeth Bear: Er, we are Oceania. It does look as if we have met the enemy and he is us.

Could I have some moksha-medicine, please?

#28 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:54 PM:

No, but I can raise your recently halved chocolate ration by 55%

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Who was it that said that the definition of insanity is doing something stupid a second time and expecting things to turn out better?

Oh, wait, we're using nukes this time. Yeah, that will do the trick; Iraq clearly became a quagmire because we didn't use enough Shock and Awe.

* * *

I invested in railroad stocks a few months back. Also in a bunch of companies that make mobile homes.

Anyone have other Presidential Stupidity Blowback investment ideas? Like, who makes duct tape these days?

#30 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:07 PM:

Stefan: how about manufacturers of Potassium Iodide? Or MOPP gear?

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:10 PM:

I'm incoherent with rage whenever I think about this.

Bush is now on the list of people who, when they die, I will give a party with a mock headstone and a grave marked out in front of it.

With jig music.

He's only #3, by the way. The other two are Margaret Thatcher and Jesse Helms, both unfortunately still alive.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:12 PM:

Elizabeth Bear: Thanks; just don't send me either to Room 101 or to the London Metropolitan Hatchery.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Xopher: Was Jesse Helms ever really alive?

#34 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:14 PM:

biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003

50 aircraft and 1,500 troops.
These reporters are playing some sort of word game with the meaning of "biggest", "air offensive" or "Iraq", I'm not sure which.

This isn't a massive bombing raid. The pictures, if they are at all relevant to the maneuvars, are pictures of sqadrons of Blackhawks. That could be two dozen aircraft right there. There would probably be a dozen or so apache's and oh-500's for close air support, leaving maybe a few of the "50" aircraft to be fixed wing, maybe A-10's or those C-130 "Spooky" gunships that they just flew back into Iraq a week or so ago.

I don't think this is quite as big as the headlines are making it sound like. If it indicates anything, it seems to say that the bad guys were in sufficient numbers in one spot to warrant sending in someone to go after them.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Fragano: for low values of 'alive', yes he was.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Xopher: Very low values indeed.

#37 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:24 PM:

Xopher: what about Reagan?

#38 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Greg: MSNBC has changed the wording from 'air attack' to 'air assault' - which'd be appropriate for heli-borne troops. I'd chalk it up to journalists not being familiar with military terminology - "Hey, 'attack' is the same as 'assault', right?"

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Laura - he's already dead, and thus no longer on the list. When he died, though, I did say to everyone who was talking about him "I hated him when he was alive, and I'm glad he's dead."

I was too busy to give a party.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:28 PM:

protected static - I, too, am unfamiliar with military terminology. Is there a general distinction between an attack and an assault? Could you explain?

#41 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:33 PM:

Assault implies direct ground attack. "Attack" is much more general than that.

Air attack = aircraft flew over and did unkind things to those below.

Air assault = troops were delivered via aerial vehicles for purposes of making an assault.

#42 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:34 PM:

If you want to see a big military buildup in the US to include the return of the draft, simply follow the scenario that a nuclear strike by another nation against a Muslim site would provoke. For instance, if NK was to hand over a single bomb to AQ to use against a major Muslim holy site, I can guarantee you that the US would be blamed by many Muslims who would demand that their nations go to war. No President is going to try to explain to America's parents why he let 100,000 American troops be killed or captured, tortured, and killed or enslaved because he wasn't willing to use the same force to equal the odds. Furthermore, he'll have to use force because if he doesn't, the Muslim nations will cut off all oil to the US. His only recourse then would be to capture and keep the oil fields. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that a failure to punish NK would result in it receiving an opportunity to reunify with SK under NK's terms because there simply wouldn't be enough troops there to hold back the NK forces. In the meantime, Europe, Russia, and China will do their best to sit it out.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Isn't Thatcher suffering from Alzheimer's? And speaking of Maggie, V for Vendetta is opening tomorrow and I don't know what to think. I just don't like the idea of anybody, even a good guy, blowing up Big Ben. And no, I never read Moore's original graphic novel.

#44 ::: Laurie Sefton ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:38 PM:


3M makes duct tape--and they're always a good investment!

Me, I've been investing in the stuff that's used for cracking shale oil, and have doubled my investment over the past three months. I think someone is taking a look at all those oil fields in Alberta, and figuring that being able to mine, crack, and clean the goodies is going to pay off in the next couple of years. Yes, mine--all that oil sand has to be dealt with somehow, and pit mining is a likely option.

Good thing Canada's warmed up enough over the past few years to make that doable.



#45 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:39 PM:

I just don't like the idea of anybody, even a good guy, blowing up Big Ben.

I'm just glad I saw Big Ben and the parliment building before it was destroyed...

#46 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Laurie Sefton: Don't count all your chickens before they hatch. There is growing resistance to the Alberta oil sands development plans--in part because of strip mining. After all, the big players are *saying* they can strip, mine, and rehabilitate entire townships worth of land. "Look, ma! No lasting damage!"

For scale, consider this: a township is a square about six miles on a side.

#47 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Israel just invaded Palestinian land to grab a couple hundred prisoners in a palestinian jail.

More information please?

My understanding was an order of magnitude more than the commonly named 6 who will be retained for trial but nowhere near 200. Then too I'd have said Israel is sovereign on what is called the West Bank.

The IDF said Tuesday evening that about 60 prisoners remained in the prison, more than originally believed, including the [6?] murderers of Zeevi, whose impending release prompted the IDF operation. The army said 202 detainees left the prison voluntarily and 76 of them were released following an interrogation after it turned out they were not terror activists.

Air Assault is a term of art in the U.S. Army: e.g.: 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
so what they and others do is commonly called air assault.

#48 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Speaking of V for Vendetta, people might be interested to read this long interview with Alan Moore

#49 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:03 PM:

Xopher - that makes sense. I guess keeping somebody on your sht lst after they die is excessively vindictive.

#50 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:04 PM:

I kind of hate to respond to the first response now that we're up to the mid-40s, but this is a pretty definitive debunking of the Iranian Oil Bourse thing. Basically, it won't have any effect on the dollar, and anyone familiar with the oil industry will know that it won't.

#51 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Xopher: to add to/expand upon what Graydon said - in the US military, the proper terminology for soldiers trained as paratroopers is "Airborne" - light infantry who go behind ememy lines by wasting a perfectly good airplane. There are also light infantry who are classified as "Air Assault" - they do much the same thing, only using helicopters...

A large attack mounted by soldiers carried in helicopters would therefore be called an "air assault" by military briefers - and could easily be corrupted into "air attack" or "air offensive" by journalists. To someone more familiar with military terminology, those phrases would imply an aerial bombing campaign, not an infantry operation.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Graydon - thanks. A very clear and succinct explanation.

Laura - Well, he's still on my sht lst as far as that goes. He's just moved from the "People who make me wish I believed in Hell so they could burn in it when they die" section to the "People who make me wish I believed in Hell so they could be burning in it NOW" section.

Both lists are pretty much reserved for people who commit multiple murders with pen and voice, not because they are psychopaths, but because they are soulless monsters. So while the level of vindictiveness may be excessive, it's also quite selective.

#53 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:20 PM:

protected static - thanks for that. Journalists like to change what you said around to sound better, and generally have no idea when they're changing the meaning. I've noticed that they warp anything in MY field(s) beyond recognition, and I assume they do in all other fields as well.

I learned something today. That makes it a good day, even if I get hit by a truck later!

#54 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:39 PM:


news report "As the afternoon wore on, more than 170 Palestinian prisoners and police left the compound in their underwear, to show they were not armed, leaving only a core group of detainees and members of the Palestinian security forces who stayed with them in solidarity. Near nightfall, those holdouts also surrendered.

I have no idea what the total was, but I'm guessing 200 would be in the appropriate grenade range.

As for sovereignty, I think the point is that the prison was being run by the Palestinians. Wikipedia states "40% of the area (including most of the population) is under the limited civilian jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while Israel maintains overall control"

So, we can argue technicalities, but the gist of it is that a whole bunch of palestinians are pissed off at Israel, the US, and Britain for this little fiasco. And I really don't give a flying f**k who is "sovereign" from a legal point of view, cause s**t will hit the fan whether the law says its sovereign or not.

I was in Israel on business for two weeks about a month or two ago, and you couldn't pay me enough to go back there right now. I don't care who has legal sovereignty over what. The law ain't the problem right now.

#55 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:40 PM:

I see from a link on Elise Matthesen's LiveJournal that we're pulling out of Iceland.

THAT ought to release a few more troops and planes for the new war...

#56 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:49 PM:

It doesn't make sense for this to be about '08. The whole war president mystique does not transfer itself reliably to the annointed heir. I think that if the timing of this is calculated to affect elections, it is '06 that they're after. If we have a rip-roaring, patriotic, good old bright and in color war, it could provide coattails for the Republican candidates, and there are a significant number of Repubs that look like they're in potential trouble.

Starting another war makes a nice smokescreen for the failure of the previous one, evidently, and allows people to forget the occupying force. We still have troups in Afghanistan, and they're feeling rather unappreciated and neglected. Which makes sense, because they are underappreciated, are not getting the personnel or supplies that they need, and most of the civilians don't even know that they're there.

'08 will have its own October surprise. Iran won't be it. This is assuming that October actually rolls around, and that we're still voting in this country. I have deep faith that both will happen, but I have to acknowledge the other possible outcomes. They've now come into the realm of possibility.

Hey, anybody want to sponsor me in a move to Canada?

#57 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Just some logistics for folks:
Iran is 1,648,195 square kilometers of land, with a population of 68,017,860 people.

Iraq is 437,072 square kilometers with a population of 26,074,906 people.

In area and people, Iran is 3 to 4 times bigger than Iran. And we can't even keep the top from blowing off Iraq.

Iran would be our Battle of Waterloo.

#58 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Iran is 3 to 4 times bigger than Iran.

Iran is 3 to 4 times bigger than Iraq.

damn it.

#59 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 02:54 PM:

I doubt they plan to occupy Iran; just bomb it (and while Iran has a more competent air defense than Iraq had, we are still capable of knocking it out with ease), and occupy the small chunk that has the oil fields and not much in the way of population.

I'd like to think the populace would see through it THIS time, but November 04 pretty much burned out any belief in me that republican propaganda can be overcome.

#60 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Man, these comments are coming fast. To follow up on the Bourse comments, Canadian historian Gwynne Dyer wrote about this a few weeks ago, with background and predictions:,%20Oil%20and%20Euros.txt

(not savvy enough to make a nice compact hotlink)

#61 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:20 PM:

Well, Greg, 'q'ing theory is hard.

Sorry. *beats self with shutup stick*

#62 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:29 PM:

I'm savvy. I'm really, really savvy.

#63 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:34 PM:

just read the savvy link.
I'd agree with Gwynne that I don't think the
bourse (sp?) has a damn thing to do with it.
We're just talking about stupid people doing
stupid things, the only problem is they're
doing it with other people's money and lives.

#64 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:41 PM:

Xopher -- assuming we survive until Shrub dies, I'll join you at that party.

Did anyone else notice that the Shrub Admin has started tap-dancing around the avian flu issue?

Seems they're trying to find a way to keep people from panicking WHEN the first dead bird is found.
And they think the first feathered victim will turn up by Fall...

#65 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Oh, did we finally stabilize the Icelandic government? ;)

#66 ::: Scott Harris ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:49 PM:

So, if Bushco wants to hit Iran before the '06 midterm elections, any bets as to whether they even ask the existing Congress for another resolution authorizing force? Or are they going to be arguing that the pre-Iraq resolution's language covers it, and even if it didn't, the President can do what he wants?

#67 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Major air strikes in Iraq today. My first worry is that they were preemptive pacification for a first strike in Iran.

I keep worrying that someone will convince Bush that invading Iran is a "cakewalk" and that we'll be greeted as liberators. I really do think that there are enough conservative idiots who'd buy that line of shit to actually make it possible for the US to invade. I have lost faith in the ability of the majority of Americans to discern propoganda from reality.

If the right PR spin was put on an invasion of Iran, a majority of Americans would accept it as neccesary, and manage to convince themselves that Iraq would remain stable during it.

It worked with Iraq. It would work again.

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Seems they're trying to find a way to keep people from panicking WHEN the first dead bird is found.

Well, they could say it's from West Nile Virus. It isn't like we haven't seen dead birds around before. [/sarcasm]

If they hadn't spent so much time and effort on starting the panic last year, they wouldn't have this problem.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 03:58 PM:

In today's column, Will Durst suggests not impeachement for Bush but impalement.

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:09 PM:

I want tar and feathers for the congresspeople who keep supporting him (or don't oppose him). And especially for the ones who can't see why there should be investigation/censure/impeachment for his sins of omission and commission.

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:16 PM:

And how about a rusty iron rod up the you-know-what of most Democrats? If they can't acquire an actual spine even by now, this'd do nicely as a replacement. (And they won't even need the doggie-style harness.)

#72 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:29 PM:

(First Post. I just had to jump in.)

Democrats are weary of pushing censure on Bush since the Republicans will use it as political ammo in the '06 elections.

Apparently, they're playing it off as if those crazy democrats are preparing to try to impeach the president. They're hoping that might energize the right's base, which sadly might be true.

The NY Times has an article on it: Call for Censure Is Rallying Cry to Bush's Base

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:39 PM:

The NY Times has an article on it: Call for Censure Is Rallying Cry to Bush's Base

Have they checked the poll results this week? When the single-word-description that comes up most often is 'incompetent', the base is disappearing.

#74 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:42 PM:

I thought I heard that some republican candidates were distancing themselves from bush? Was that just wishful thinking?

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 04:57 PM:

the Republicans will use it as political ammo in the '06 elections.

Sure, Joe, but no matter what Democrats do, the Republicans will think of a way to turn it against them. Remember the Swift Boat Liars who managed to use agaisnt Kerry his own bravery under fire?

Which is why I think Democrats should give the GOP the New York Salute.

#76 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Also, contra Rove and his permanent Republican majority, the base is at about 33%, certainly under 40%. The censure resolution doesn't say a word about Republicans as a party, just that Mr. Bush broke the law.

If the Republicans want to rally around Mr. Bush and hang that albatross around their necks by voting down censure, fine by me. Why the Democrats don't want to distance themselves from Bush in every way is completely beyond me.

What I really don't get is where the Senate Judiciary Committee is. Gonzales came out and scrubbed his spy-program testimony post facto, and the Democrats on the Committee won't sign up with Feingold. I just don't know what they're thinking.

#77 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:03 PM:

I know the right thing to do is to impeach Bush, but right now there aren't enough votes in either house of congress to do that. Trying to push for it will put the Republicans on the defensive, which is what they're best at. They love to sell a conspiracy.

Strategically speaking, the Democrats should just let the Republicans make fools of themselves until they can get more seats in congress (if they can).

#78 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Joe J: It helps to remember that the Dems in Congress are not necessarily representative of the Dems in the rest of the country. They're chicken. Or limping ducks.

#79 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:16 PM:

P J Evans: Even if the Democrats in Congress don't represent the Democrats in the rest of the country, they are our only hope in taking back the government. The Republicans have proven that they are experts at propaganda. If we want more Democrats in Congress, the Democrats need to avoid giving fuel to the Republican propaganda machine. Already, the polls are turing in the Democrats' favor. They just need to keep out of the way of the Republicans' self destruction.

#80 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:21 PM:

News article says raid gives Olmert pre-election boost: polls.

Really? no kidding.

#81 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:24 PM:

they are our only hope in taking back the government.

If they don't get spines (or something), we're lost. Which is why some are getting challenges from other Dems. Don't vote for the ones that don't have spines!

#82 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Josh Jasper - I happened to catch a few mintues of F(o)aux News on a plane from NY in January. There was a representative already saying everything in your post i.e. we should invade Iran because, hey, Iraq is going so well.

Sorry I don't have more details, but it pissed me off so much I had to change the channel.

#83 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 05:28 PM:

since the installation of democracy the whackos have gained considerable ground.

"The Madness of King George: His Majesty was all powerful and all knowing. But he wasn't quite all there" Had to be done the first time; it can't be helped that history repeats as farce.

#84 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 06:45 PM:

There are a hundred reasons to think that BushCo. is gearing up to attack Iran, I agree. But I think there may be one reason that will stop them: Iran has a large, well-trained, well-armed military. One that has not been devastated by a decade of sanctions and periodic bombing.

An invasion of Iran really will meet military resistence. I'm not sure that Rummy and Junior Evil are ready for that.

#85 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 06:53 PM:

Had lunch with a coworker y'day whose 20 yr old brother is back from Iraq. His superiors have notified him that when he is called up again, it will be for Iran.

#86 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Beth: then perhaps you haven't seen our latest National Security doctrine. A couple of nukes could duplicate the effects of a decade's worth of bombing in a real hurry...

#87 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Moe99's post truly scares me. I have a friend, a colonel in the Marines, stationed in Germany. He spent 3 years going in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm going to e-mail him and ask if the word "Iran" has been coming up in significant ways in his circles.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Why does the idea that the chimp-in-chief might lob a couple of nukes at Tehran not scare the sht out of the people who actually make policy?

#89 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Because the people who actually make policy these days are not in the Reality Based Commuity?

#90 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 07:20 PM:

There's an elephant in the room if we do invade Iran: the Persian Gulf oil supply.

From, "Iran: Consequences of a War" (Feb 2006):

Straits of Hormuz. While one major aim of any US military action would be to forestall Iranian interference with Gulf oil exports, this would have to be near total in its effect on Iranian capabilities. This would be difficult if not impossible to achieve, leading to a fear of attack which alone would have a formidable impact on oil markets.

Iran is sitting on top of the narrow entrance to the Persian Gulf. If you poke around a little, you'll see reports that Iran threatens to mine the strait in the event of an attack. Here's one:

However, the $300+ oil and $10+ gasoline that will result from taking out Ras Tanura and shutting down the Straits of Hormuz will most definitely and very effectively accomplish that goal of crippling the economies of the US and the West (as well as that of China and the most of the rest of the world, the latter of which being what Ahmedinajad would probably call ‘collateral damage’, to borrow one of the Pentagon's infamous euphemisms). With its key geostrategic location straddling the Straits of Hormuz and the entire Persian Gulf, with its Russian and Chinese advanced missile systems, and with its large, well-trained, highly-disciplined armed forces and Revolutionary Guards, Iran is uniquely positioned and poised to accomplish this feat quite readily and easily, and there's not a whole lot the US military can do to prevent it short of nuking the entire country with large, strategic nuclear weapons (or alternatively, making sure that Israel doesn’t attack Iran in the first place!).
#91 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:00 PM:

Stefan Jones: When's the next ship to Barnard's Star?

#92 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:16 PM:

regarding the side particle "I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy"

What genius thought we could be an occupying force in a country with an active insurgency fighting from within the civilian population and that we could somehow fight this insurgency and not accumulate collateral damage over time to the point where we are not only NOT winning Hearts and Minds, we are in fact actively turning those Hearts and Minds against us?

has any invasion-followed-by-occupation conducted by any nation ever turned out good in the long run?

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:18 PM:

Fragnno: Sorry, you don't get off that easy.

Besides, berths on the Space Ark Reagan are strictly limited to . . . um, never mind. There is no space ark. Nothing to see here. Move right along.

#94 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:19 PM:

The story about the SAS soldier in Patrick's sidelights is amazing. Kudos to him and to his superiors for recognizing his courage and not court-martialling him, or whatever the Brit equivalent is. Wouldn't happen here.

Fragano, you got some room on that transport?

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Stefan: Gee, thanks.

Lizzy: Don't I wish.

Apparently, the British army has acquired a clue or two over the past couple of generations.

#96 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 10:31 PM:

Someone's got to go out on a limb here. Might as well be me.

The outcome of the 2006 elections has already been decided. The Democrats will get what scraps the Cheney machine wishes to give them. What a good-looking war on Iran will do is reduce the quantity of vote manipulation needed on election day. But there are simply too many corrupt people and machines in place to make a fair election worth hoping for, and unless something drastically shocks the press between now and November, there will be no sustained significant coverage of this.

Furthermore, even if the election were allowed to be fair, it's like the Democrats have any observable chance of running a useful campaign. It's possible that some are being subjected to blackmail. Others simply may be stupid in the way that smart people can be. Whatever the case, they haven't yet shown any interest in being the party that represents the majority American view on matters of war, peace, prosperity, and justice, and I don't see reason to expect improvement on that between now and election day. Some individual Democrats are great on all these things. Most aren't and don't apparently want to be - the party debate is not being phrased along the lines of "how can we effectively lead the sentiment on all these things that play to our strengths" but "how can we seem more Republican to get folks unsympathetic to most of our issues to support us".

I wish I felt confidence that there will be a 2008 election at all, let alone a fair one.

For whatever reason, I'm not using any of the above as an excuse for apathy. I could be wrong. If I am, I'd feel like a really serious putz if things didn't work out because people like me didn't at least try. I will be contributing to good campaigns, campaigning if health allows, helping out as I can. But I do it out of the hope that I may be wrong rather than the belief that it is likely to help.

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Our non-reality-based administration doesn't seem to have noticed (probably isn't capable of noticing either) that most of what they've been saying about Iran and North Korea can be applied as easily to them.

It doesn't help.

#98 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Is Bush mad?

To go into Iran would be insane. Full on, completely whacked out crazy. If he did that, I'd think you could argue that was proof of his certifiablity.

I don't think that he is that far gone.

The reason that I don't think anything'll happen in Iran is that Bush has painted himself in a corner. Too much hangs on Iran's good(ish) will. Like, oil prices below US$70. Even Bush must know this, right?

So, the US attacks an Islamic, elected, government, for less than what has just got India a `strategic alliance'.
It 'd be a PR disaster.

And given that the Foreign Office thinks Iraq is a mess, we can all imagine just how keen they will be to join the next posse.

Still, I don't see Bush as being that crazy. And, even if he is, surely he has some competent staff/aides to tell him this sort of thing. Surely...

#99 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:59 AM:

tom scudder, i was only partly serious. i have heard many people say things both ways about the iranian oil exchange but the US is probably more concerned about the gas pipeline to india and the chumminess with China than said bourse.

having said that, who ever said that Bush needs a real reason to go to war against anyone?

and thanks for the link. it appears many commenters at dKos agree with me. i think i'll go drown myself now

#100 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 02:07 AM:

So, the US attacks an Islamic, elected, government, for less than what has just got India a `strategic alliance'.

and India's coalition government includes (at least BTS) COMMUNISTS!!

have we learnt nothing from the cold war?

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 02:50 AM:

We (and Britain) are already in violation of the NPT. One of the rules is nuclear weapon states promise not to nuke non nuclear weapon states. This is meant to discourage people from becoming nuclear weapon states.

But we've said we will nuke non-NWS, so we are in violation. The deal with India is also a violation (if it goes through) and our declaration that Iran can't be allowed non-military nuclear programs is also a violation, since one of the terms of the treaty is that all nations are to be allowed to have non-military nuclear programs, and (IIRC) that NWS will help them, in part to ensure that the programs remain non-miltitary.

So, the NPT is dead, until (and unless) the US and Britain change their tune.

#102 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:36 AM:

Terry Karney: The US in violation of international law? Never.

OK, slightly snarky, but I don't think that many people these days expect the US to act as a good international citizen.

This at the LA Times, on Iran negotiating with the US.

The US attitude is disappointing. However, the Iranians do appear to be trying to be reasonable. I don't know if it is just a PR exercise, but at the least it indicates how Iran wants to be seen. (i.e. not a terrorist state.)

However, this whole Iran issue reminds me of Orwell's opinion on Stalin: (from memory, and badly) ``His foreign policy is so erratic, it is widely held that he must have some diabolic masterplan. I disagree. I think that he makes it up as he goes along.''

I think that there is a large element of making it up on the spot in the Bush administration.

#103 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:19 AM:

Just in case anyone was going to suffer from untroubled sleep in the future, I thought I'd mention that a nuclear war in the Middle East is one of the favorite scenarios for the Second Coming. Iran's looking kinda perfect if that's your goal.

For some reason, Dad wasn't much into... is it eschatology? The whole end-of-the-world according to St. John of the Mushroom. So I don't know too much about the various stories and predictions about the rapture and so on. But even what very little I was exposed to repeatedly referred to nuclear war in the Middle East. And if I'm not mistaken, W has belonged to, or attended, sects which approve of hastening the day.

Good night, all.

#104 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:57 AM:

Re "I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy"...

In case anyone here doesn't read Roz Kaveney's blog, she reports another indication of the current mood in the British Army.

#105 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 08:36 AM:

Only an idiot tries to fight a war on two fronts, and only a madman tries to fight one on three.

That quote's been sitting in my mind since Afghanistan. Didn't think I'd have cause to use it.

#106 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Interesting background reading: The Project for the New American Century's paper that provides the blueprint for a lot of what the administration has in mind. If you skip straight to the key points section, you'll find one of the items is fighting multifront wars.

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:50 AM:

Today, Jon Carroll talks about Bush's attempt at getting the country behind him (*) for a war against Iran. Carroll begins by pointing that his earlier pep talk did improve his approval ratings, temporarily, before they resumed their fall down that slippery slope.

"...A slippery slope differs from, say, a rocky slope in that a slippery slope is a lot harder to climb back up. Not that the president seems to be in any mood to reverse course -- everyone believes him when he says he's going to "stay the course." Staying the course on a slippery slope is easy -- it's what's at the bottom of the slope that's the problem..."

(*) We're behind you, George... Only not so close, this time.

#108 ::: TL ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:58 AM:

I think what's happening in Iran is also relevant.

The Iranian president elected last year, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, apparently believes in the coming of a messiah (the hidden prophet) and Armageddon. He appears to think this will happen soon. He's recently been unnerving the clerics with some of his policies.

Newsnight in the UK did something on this the other night. To watch it, click on the video link " How much political intrigue is there in Tehran? "

At first I thought his rhetoric was simply playing to his home audience, but I'm increasingly unsure that's the case.

I don't know how what's happening in Iran will play out, it depends which factions prevail. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's agenda may make it easier for the US administration to go to war against Iran. He seems to be playing into America's hands.

#109 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 10:47 AM:

Swarmer in the news here.

50 helicopters. (I figured out of 50 aircraft reported, maybe 10 fixed wing. guess I was a little over zealous)

"It was not an air raid, however, as the military reported no bombing or firing from the air" (heh, AP is trying to correct it's headline from yesterday maybe?)

"No resistance or casualties were reported." (well, Mai Lai this ain't. The military doesn't report civilian causualties, but if they say "no resistance", then, well, you can assume they're saying no civilian casualties.)

"about 40 suspects were detained, 10 of whom were later released." (All this for 30 guys? I hope it was the right 30, some higher up muckity mucks in the insurgency.)

#110 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 11:03 AM:

Flip, and hardly original, but here it is:

I see the chance of The Nation-State surviving intact the ability of many small groups to fabricate nuclear weapons and other nasties as roughly on the order of Knighthood's surviving cheap gun-powder.

Maybe if we hadn't had so many insisting that the only real purposes of the State was to defend ourselves (soon nigh-impossible) and to enforce contracts (potentially turning toxic as object and land property "rights" metastise into cyberspace) there'd still be some point to them---at least an N.H. can help out the radiation-poisoned some or a lot, or co\"ordinate vaccinations over a large ring---and I'd have greater allegiance to a State that claimed it wouldn't let me starve or freeze, even if it couldn't protect me from the nukes of the Radical Swedenborgians.

#111 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 11:26 AM:

It worth remembering that the SAS has a long history of this sort of hearts-and-minds war, and it's part of their institutional memory. They can point at what they have already done, which worked.

What sets me thinking is that this guy has gotten away with it. The regiment stuck by him. Which suggests they didn't think he was talking rubbish.

The open sources on how the SAS is organised lead me to the conclusion that the particular part of "The regiment" which would have decided things have very high-level political access and influence. Partly, it's from having a smaller Army. If there were a terrorist attack in the UK, the SAS commanding officer would be the one briefing the Prime Minister, not some General.

So the implications of all this are interesting.

#112 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 11:31 AM:

I may be overly pessimistic, but I've got this sinking feeling that the attack on Iran will be done with bombers not troops on the ground...

"...there's rioting in Africa,
There's strife in Iran,
What nature doesn't do to us --
Will be done by our fellow man..."

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:10 PM:

In this week's animated short, Fiore and the rest of the Earth say a big thank-you to NeoConMen...

#114 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:13 PM:

"Only an idiot tries to fight a war on two fronts"

and only the heir to the kingdom of Idiot tries to fight a war on twelve fronts.
Ambassador Londo Mollari, right?

#115 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:31 PM:

What nature doesn't do to us --
Will be done by our fellow man...

it's a race between a mushroom cloud and a coupla viruses. :-D

#116 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Re "I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy...."

In one of the Helmand attacks, assassins dragged a teacher from his classroom in the village of Nad Ali and shot him at the school gate. His crime: teaching girls.

Two days later, gunmen burst into Karte Laghan secondary school in the provincial capital, Laskhar Gah, killing a watchman and a student. The attack occurred less than a mile from the new British military base.
As NATO forces prepare to assume control in the south, securing the schools of Helmand will soon be a task for British paratroopers, about 2,500 of whom are expected to start arriving in early May, backed up with Apache attack helicopters. But the British commander in Laskhar Gah, Colonel Henry Worsley, said their principal role was to train and support the fledgling Afghan security forces. ''In a place like Garmser we might help mount a check post, put a soldierly look on it, and tell them how to defend it," he said.

By all means apply UK notions, as explained by the BBC: Under the government's plans schools in England wishing to become a new trust school will become their own admissions authorities, setting their own criteria for new pupils and administering the process.

Silly Sir Charles Napier in his refusal to assent to all local customs when he could have won hearts and minds by adding fuel to the fire. How far some have come.

#117 ::: jrocheste ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Bonniers -- that paper seems to imply that the goal is to build an army that will be able to simultaneously:

1) defend the continental USA,
2) fight and 'decisively win' simultaneous 'multiple major theatre wars',
3) police the remaining crumbling rubble -- er -- 'shape the security environment in critical regions'
4) weaponize space and build the Ronnie missile shield,

Oh, and rearm all three branches with wizzie new high-tech weaponry and increase the total number of soldiers from 1.4 million to 1.6 million, all without increasing government spending by more than .5%.

After which, I assume, they're going to invent cold fusion and develop a warp drive. Oh, and time travel.

#118 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:13 PM:

jrocheste -- Yes, it does say that, doesn't it? Scary.

Though I notice that while a great deal of the program's attitudes seem to have found a home with the administration, the parts about cutting certain kinds of inefficient weaponry didn't happen. Too much pork there for big contractors, I guess.

#119 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:38 PM:

jrocheste: Sure that a cure for the common cold isn't in that list as well?

If we're part of the Reality-Based Community, clearly the administration forms a Magical-Thinking Community in which giant expenditures of ammunition at invisible targets constitutes a major offensive, peace can be secured by torturing people and pretending that if the media doesn't report it nobody in the Islamic world will know it's happening, and the greatest threat this country faces, after the possibility that evil terrorists will strike again, is that women will have sex without their husbands' or fathers' permission.

#120 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:45 PM:

Terry: our declaration that Iran can't be allowed non-military nuclear programs is also a violation, since one of the terms of the treaty is that all nations are to be allowed to have non-military nuclear programs

What are the obligations of nations with non-military nuclear programs? Does the NPT not require a degree of openness greater than Iran's 18 years of covert work?

Even if it gets a bomb, I wouldn't assume Iran would do as much damage to non-proliferation as our so-called ally Pakistan -- but I see no reason to believe their protestations about the completely peaceful nature of their work. I despise Bush and all his works, and think whatever he ends up doing about Iran will be a bad choice, but that doesn't make them guiltless.

#121 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:57 PM:

I think it very likely that if Iran under its present government actually gets a bomb (as opposed to civilian nuclear energy) one of the first things it will do is use it on Israel, or give it to someone else to use on Israel, which means of course that it could be used on us as well. Which is why Israel will never allow Iran to have the bomb, and would probably take out any installation it thought was involved in making nuclear weapons.

#122 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 11:41 PM:

Lizzy L: I don't think that, even if Iran got the bomb, it would use it on Israel. Remember, the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons in war is the US. Out of the nine states that have or had have nuclear weapons, only one has ever used them, and then only under very extreme circumstances.

The Iranians are not suicidal.

As to the giving away the bomb notion, how many countries have given away nuclear weapons technology? None, so far.

#123 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 03:54 AM:

Chip: I never said they were guiltless. Absent more openenss, I can't say that.

But I can say that we are the cause of the cancer Iran may metastasize.

We went for Iraq, not Korea. Why? They say they have a bomb.

We are making it possible for India to make as many nukes as she likes (while telling her nervous neighbor to not worry about it, and no, you can't have the same deal).

We can't exactly protest that Iran is in violation for a lack of openess when we are in violation by way of threatening to nuke people (and pre-emtively, at that) and encouraging the spread.

The Brits (and probably us) helped the Israelis build a bomb. But we aren't getting on their case for lack of openess.

Given the track record (recent and otherwise) I can't really see any reason anyone who might be able to build a bomb shouldn't try, and I sure as hell can't see any justification for anyone taking our words on the subject as being in good faith, much less at face value.


#124 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 04:39 AM:

Terry: One reason why countries shouldn't build nuclear bombs is that they are morally indefensible.

New Zealand has held to that position for nigh on a quarter century now, and I doubt that we will ever change it. It may well be one of our countries defining features, the pulling away from the abyss.

However, from a purely amoral perspective, yes, Iran, if it has any sense will rush for the bomb, then parade it through the streets of Tehran.

However, I wouldn't think that they'd actually use it. The Iranians aren't suicidal.

#125 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Keir: I hope that the Iranians are not immoral, in New Zealand's terms, and will not develop, deploy or threaten to use nuclear weapons. You appear to hope for the opposite.

I wonder if you would agree that if they do, there is no telling what might happen next, but that any calculation must include the reaction of Israel?

#126 ::: Ali Baba ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Bush is the best President the rest of the world could ask for. A world without superpowers is a definite improvement, IMO, and it's incredible when you think about it that one man, Osama bin Laden, was instrumental in taking down both both. Anyway, yanks, in ten years when you all are wandering around with a stunned look on your faces and drool on your chins, remember this: history is irony.

#127 ::: TL ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 04:05 PM:

In what way has Osama Bin Laden taken down America as a superpower? You refer to 'both', which other superpower do you think he brought down? Do you mean the Soviet Union? When the Mujahidin were allied to America?


#128 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 04:35 PM:

No, I don't hope that Iran develops nuclear weapons at all. I merely think that were one to leave moral considerations out, then there is no reason for Iran not to go after the bomb.

And that is merely from the point of view of Tehran.
Of course, for the rest of the world, it is a bad thing for Iran to have the bomb. They could use it, although I think it is unlikely. They could lose it, or set it off accidently. And, of course, there is the immorality of nuclear weapons.

I disagree that there is no telling what they would do. It is highly likely that they won't do anything with their bomb, aside from parade it around.

The reaction of Israel is up to Israel, but I see no reason why the rest of the world should care, anymore than the US cared about Pakistan's reaction to America's deal with India over India's nukes.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 09:16 PM:

I wish the Washington Post would stop printing White House press releases as if they were news reports. (Same for other news organizations, too.)

I suspect this started with Ronnie and his good-ol'-boy joking and talking with the reporters (or maybe earlier): they started thinking that this was a Good Thing, and stopped asking questions about why they were getting told things by the president.

#131 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:13 PM:

As to the giving away the bomb notion, how many countries have given away nuclear weapons technology?
None, so far.

A.Q. Khan ring any bells?

#132 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:19 PM:

Methinks AliBabe is a troll. Get the out.

#133 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:47 PM:

AQ Khan? Yes. He was the guy that tried to sell nuclear weapons technology to Iran et al, wasn't he?

Mind you, most countries have had spying incidents, and, while most haven't been that high up, I wouldn't say that it is an example of a country giving away nuclear weapons tech.

Although, by the by, I was wrong about the number of countries to give away nuclear weapons. I should have said the technology to build one. Apparently, the USA provides many of its NATO allies with nuclear weapons, for use in training programs.

#134 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 11:51 PM:

Keir: You say, first, that Iran "could use" a nuclear weapon, and then that you "think it is highly likely" that they would do nothing. That is, you are really thinking in terms of probabilities, as am I. Like me, you really don't know what they will do. You don't really "disagree that there is no telling". You admit that you can't tell. Neither can I. Nor, I suggest, can anyone.

Now, you may be happy, from New Zealand, to accept what you believe is a low risk that Iran would use a nuclear weapon. Perhaps you can see, however, that the Israelis would consider both the stakes and the risk too high and would therefore not be prepared to make the same bet.

Which is to say, if Iran looks like developing a nuclear weapon, Israel will most likely do whatever it has to do to prevent it. I suggest that the world certainly would care about that.

#135 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 12:16 AM:

Keir: You say, first, that Iran "could use" a nuclear weapon, and then that you "think it is highly likely" that they would do nothing. That is, you are really thinking in terms of probabilities, as am I. Like me, you really don't know what they will do. You don't really "disagree that there is no telling". You admit that you can't tell. Neither can I. Nor, I suggest, can anyone.

There is no telling if the Sun will come up tomorrow.

There is no telling if George Bush will nuke Tehran tomorrow.

That is, of course, a gross caricature of what you are saying, but the point remains. Everything is a possibility. What I am saying is that while we cannot know, we can make reliable estimations.

Of course, I can see that Israel may have a different view of a nuclear Tehran. Israel may act in a certain way, if it feels that Tehran has a bomb. However, there is very little we can do about that. Israel ignores UN resolutions routinely anyway, so I can't see that there is much anyone can do.

#136 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 01:54 AM:

Then by all means, let us make reasonable estimations. Your estimation is that Iran would only parade its nuclear device through the streets of Teh'ran. I think perhaps you are right. But only perhaps.

However, we both allow the possibility that they would do more: supply it to their client of many years, Hez'bollah, or simply use it directly. (Perhaps that would be only as a threat at first, but threats have to be real, or they aren't threats.) It appears that I would put this possibility somewhat higher than you would, but that is arguable. We would both admit the possibility.

You admit, then, that there is a risk that Iran would use a nuclear device. You think the risk is not great, and I will not argue otherwise. But how great does it have to be? For Israel, any calculation of this value must include the datum that this is a matter of personal and national survival.

I am certain that the Israeli government would say that any risk much above zero is unacceptable, and that includes imponderable risks. Which means that the Israelis will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Whatever necessary. And Israel is already a nuclear power.

Does anybody else share my suspicion that this might explain US policy towards Iran?

#137 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 02:45 AM:

I do agree with you in the main; Israel is likely to looking to its own weapons as protection.

But I am curious as to how you see this affecting US policy.

I feel slightly stupid here, to be honest. ;)

#138 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 02:48 AM:

I would only add that Israel has a history of using force to prevent nearby countries from developing nuclear weapons, such as the 1981 bombing raid on Iraq's Osirak reactor.

#139 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 03:33 AM:

Oh, I'm sorry. On reflection, I see that I wasn't making myself plain.

My estimation is that the Israelis would use military means - in practice, air strikes - to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

But the IDF has almost no long-range strategic bombing capacity - nothing like the US B52 or cruise missiles - and the Iranians have a good interceptor and SAM capacity, so conventional strikes by Israel would be very risky and not very likely to succeed. Israel does, however, possess a nuclear arsenal, and is publicly committed to using it where it deems it necessary to the national survival. The logical consequence of this is that Israel would be likely to have recourse early to nuclear strikes.

So, I think that the Israelis have convinced the US that if the US doesn't itself take down the Iranian nuclear weapons program (assuming, as I think is reasonable, that it exists), then Israel will. And that may mean using nuclear weapons.

If I were the US government, I would have to ponder very carefully the consequences of ignoring this. Maybe I would only bluff. But I would have to bluff very convincingly. Perhaps that is what is happening. Perhaps.

#140 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 04:02 AM:

Ah. Right. I see what you mean.

Put that way, it is very convincing.

#141 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 04:18 AM:

IIRC, the US had to exert enormous pressure on Israel during the first Gulf War to *not* use its nuclear weapons against Iraq in retaliation to Iraq's scud missile attacks against Israel. I remember watching the war coverage at the time, and every time there was a report of another missile strike against Israel, my blood just went cold, the fear that Something Truly Horrific was going to happen was palpable in a way it hadn't been since the darkest days of the Cold War.

And adding to Dave's post, a thought occurs to me: the use of nuclear weapons would be a good way to make sure that Iranian nuclear facilities couldn't be quickly rebuilt.

#142 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Keir: AQ Khan? Yes. He was the guy that tried to sell nuclear weapons technology to Iran et al, wasn't he?


Modulo the most stringent arguments in the Whitlock thread about the requirements for using "known", I'd say it's known that he succeeded in selling pieces of nuclear weapons technology to more than one country. (The evidence is certainly a different order from that for Iraq's alleged program, where Bush et al obfuscated centrifuge tubes with missile bodies; IIRC, Libya acknowledged Khan's contribution during their stand-down.) Granted that's not giving away; given the evidence that Iran is giving money to Hezbollah, why should we not think that nukes could also be given rather than sold?

Terry: as I understand it, Iran spent 18 years concealing its \entire/ program, not just anything that might relate to weapons. I acknowledge that Bush's treatment of India puts us in a poorer position to complain, but it does not affect the standing of Europe. And I have some difficulty equating a nation where the word of one man disqualified a third of the candidates with nations where elections are, at worst, much more subtly dishonest. (I suppose some people will see no difference between disqualification-by-fiat and disqualification-by-media; as the two have been practiced, I do.)

#143 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 01:37 PM:


Sorry, I didn't mean that he didn't sell any secrets; I meant that he wasn't state backed, and wasn't `giving' it away.

The US gives money to Israel; how many bombs have you given them?

And I have some difficulty equating a nation where the word of one man disqualified a third of the candidates with nations where elections are, at worst, much more subtly dishonest. (I suppose some people will see no difference between disqualification-by-fiat and disqualification-by-media; as the two have been practiced, I do.)

That is a different issue from that of nuclear proliferation; while I don't like Iran's governing system, that has very little to do with its nuclear status.

#144 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 10:11 PM:

But we get the best of both worlds, we hire people to disqualfy people by fiat (felon purge anyone) so we can have a nice piece of pork to ladle out, and see to it that thousands (or tens of thousands... depending on just how many false positives happen to crop up) of those who might vote the wrong way get told they aren't eligible.

I think, all told, that the overt fiat is less serious, because it can be more easily protested, perhaps even overturned. The more subtle is more insidious, and therefore more likely to go unnoticed, and remain unchallenged.

#145 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Just had a chilling little thought --

The US has nuclear weapons, and has demonstrated a willingness to use them.

Iran *may* be making a bomb.

What's to stop the US (or Israel) from getting a bomb into Iran, setting it off, and then claiming that someone in Iran must have had an 'oops' at a weapons development facility?

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Lori Coulson: Short answer, only the fear of getting caught.

#147 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:54 PM:

Rice on Iran: 'We can't let this continue'

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that it is "time for action" on international demands for Iran to cease its uranium enrichment activities.

#148 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:28 AM:

"We have all been here before..."

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