October 28, 2006

Boot's Iran Prescriptions...

Max Boot:

The U.S. already has increased aid for the promotion of democracy in Iran, from $3 million in 2005 to $76 million in the just-concluded fiscal year. If we're serious, we need to spend much more, and we need to consider the possibility of going beyond peaceful measures to foment change. An American invasion is out of the question. But perhaps we could do to Iran what the Iranians are doing to us in Iraq, where they are funneling weapons and money to militias that are killing our soldiers.

A LITTLE-KNOWN fact about Iran is that it is only 51% Persian. The rest of the country is made up of ethnic minorities, many of them quite restive. Azeris (24% of the population) rioted earlier this year to protest "Persian chauvinism" after they were depicted as cockroaches in a newspaper cartoon. Kurds (7%), Arabs (3%) and Baluchis (2%) all have active separatist movements that have carried out anti-regime bombings.

There also are a number of opposition groups that span the ethnic spectrum. Workers, women's groups and students have staged peaceful demonstrations to protest various grievances. The Mujahedin Khalq, a leftist political cult, mounted attacks on Iran in the 1980s and 1990s from bases in Iraq. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, American troops have detained thousands of its activists. They could easily be set loose to make trouble across the border.

Boot's a capable foreign policy analyst. So how in heaven's name could he be cheerleading fomenting a civil war in Iran (because make no mistake, that's what the above prescriptions would accomplish)--particularly at the very time Iraq is capsizing into one? Do the creative destructionists believe a series of metastasizing conflicts through the region will help spur on the 'freedom agenda'? Will cascading crises and greater disorder through the Middle East benefit U.S. interests? If so, how? Readers, please help me, what am I missing here?

UPDATE: Thanks for an interesting thread. I see that a lot of readers were somewhat up in arms about my description of Boot as "a capable foreign policy analyst". Truth be told, I flirted with inserting an "ostensibly" or "arguably" at the beginning of said phrase, but I've been pretty tough on people in this space of late, and thought I'd tone the temperature down some. Regardless, calling someone a capable analyst is hardly effusive praise, all told, and I think I made it pretty clear that I found Boot's Iran policy prescriptions obscenely irresponsible, not to mention amoral (given how breezily he seems willing to stoke chaos in Iran in the face of the massive carnage resulting from the near anarchy unleashed in Iraq).

Posted by Gregory at October 28, 2006 03:20 AM
Comments

it was my understanding that we were already providing aid to opponents of the current Iranian regime....

what's particularly insane about Boot's proposal is that he seems to think that its a good idea to promote race wars -- the wisdom of supporting dissident movements in Iran is highly questionable, the encouragement of race wars is despicable beyond words.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at October 28, 2006 03:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm fascinated by the way Mr. Boot blandly assumes that formenting chaos in Iran will somehow not make the situation in Iraq far, far worse than it already is, especially since his prescription is based on the communication already existing between Iran and Iraq. Does he really think that the Shia militias will stand idly by while the US actively attempts to cut off their supply links to the east?

The brutal truth is that any influence we might have had with dissident ethnic groups or democratic reform elements in Iran evaporated after the realities of the US occupation of Iraq became widely known. The Iranian regime was able to seize on the "foreign threat" next door to stomp on a promising reform movement, and of all of the ethnic minorities cited by Boot, only the Kurds have any real reason to support us. Persia has been a unified state for over 2,500 years - that's a lot of history to try to overcome, especially with a strategy as hamfisted as the one Boot propounds.

Posted by: Mark B. at October 28, 2006 03:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In light of what you've quoted, perhaps you should rethink this: Boot's a capable foreign policy analyst. It wouldn't be the first time in the last five years that events have proved that a previously respected neoconservative shouldn't be.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim at October 28, 2006 03:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

re: my above comment, I just sent this "Letter to the Editor" to the LA Times....

I cannot fully express my contempt for Max Boot's recent column, in which he proposes that the US fund "going beyond peaceful measures to foment change" in Iran by taking "advantage" of the fact that Iran is "only 51% Persian". What Boot is proposing is nothing less that US funding of race wars --- and its despicable beyond description. Boot is beyond the pale, but one must question the judgement of the Times Editorial Board when it allows those who endorse exploiting racism as a means to advance US foreign policy interests access to its opinion pages.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at October 28, 2006 03:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nothing that Max Boot has written or said indicates that he is anything other than a water carrier for the now-discredited neocon movement.

Not content with supporting the creation of divided, failed states in Iraq and Lebanon, he now advocates a similar policy for Iran. Does Boot seriously think that a crescent of chaos will result in anything other than a series of sanctuaries for virulently anti-American terrorist groups, which also threaten Israel and the Arabian monarchies?

Posted by: Tom S at October 28, 2006 04:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What you are missing is that all this talk of "democracy promotion" is a great big fucking sham. Good thing I stopped by!

Posted by: Jim Henley at October 28, 2006 04:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

what you are missing is the necessity of reciprocity in war.

they're fucking us up something fierce in Iraq. let's fuck THEM up as bad. they cn tke much less of that than we can.

you can't not respond in kind to your Enemy.

Is it more important to BG to win in Iraq, or to abide by marquess of queensbury RULES?

Posted by: neill at October 28, 2006 05:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Echoing SomeCallMeTim.... Boot's a capable foreign policy analyst?!?!? By now, anybody who, like Boot, urged on the greatest strategic blunder in American history, has exactly one worthwhile thing to say:

I let my passions and hubris get in the way of analysis and judgement. I made a tremendous error in judgement, of such magnitude that my assessments can no longer be considered trustworthy. More, I have a moral duty to atone for my role in this disaster. Henceforth I will work in [international relief]/[whatever 7-11 thinks I can handle the Slurpee machine]. Goodbye.

Of course we won't hear this. Because not only is Boot about as "capable" as Victor Davis Hanson or Richard Perle, he's about as ethical as they are, too.

Posted by: sglover at October 28, 2006 05:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

actually, the only thing that we lack, that the enemy has, is the will to win. the only thing.

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.

which is the only reason we will lose. and when i say we, I refer to Western Civilization -- see the demise of Athens.

Osama was right, damn him.

Posted by: neill at October 28, 2006 05:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.
which is the only reason we will lose. and when i say we, I refer to Western Civilization -- see the demise of Athens.

Ah. The voice of right-wing courage and proportion weighs in.....

Posted by: sglover at October 28, 2006 06:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.
which is the only reason we will lose. and when i say we, I refer to Western Civilization -- see the demise of Athens.

Ah. The voice of right-wing courage and proportion weighs in.....

Posted by: sglover at October 28, 2006 06:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, Neill, what we lack is (1) brains (under the current administration and its Pied Pipers), and (2) the willingness to blow up the world in the name of your own religious philosophy that characterizes the loonier Islamists. I fail to see how our lack of the latter can be considered a vice.

As for Boot: apparently he believes in doubling down, since the result of the FAILURE of his strategy in Iran would be that the current regime would be tremendously strengthened by its ability to rally Iran's currently disenchanted Persians in its defense against an External Threat -- and, if his strategy does throw Iran into chaos AFTER it has acquired the Bomb, it would hideously increase the odds that some of its Bombs would fall into terrorist hands. (Also, as some of you have noted, the mere fact that we might disrupt the regime by siccing various ethnic and/or religious opposition groups on it hardly proves that said groups would be any more pro-American than the regime is. One would think we would have learned that lesson from both Afghanistan and Iraq, but neocons are slow learners.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at October 28, 2006 06:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, you asked:

"When will this nightmare (running on torture, gross dissembling, demagoguery etc.) end?"

Part of the answer is: When you stop thinking of people like Max Boot as "a capable foreign policy analyst."

Posted by: CaseyL at October 28, 2006 08:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.

gotta disagree, given the implication that this is some kind of flaw in the American character that is not present in the Iranian people.

I don't know if Iraq ever had any chance of success, but I do know that the American people never felt a sense of ownership of this war that comes from shared sacrifice. The lack of a "will to win" at this point is based on the lies and misrepresentations of Bushco in getting us into the war --- not just the lies about the rationale for the war, but the lies about the aftermath.

If Bush had promoted this war as one which required sacrifice from all Americans (i.e. higher taxes to pay for it, a draft to ensure that the US military was not stretched to the breaking point in pursuit of its objectives) it may well have succeeded. But we've reached the point in Iraq where its obvious that failure is inevitable, and its not the "will to win" that is lacking, but the "will to engage in futile and counter-productive efforts" that doesn't now, and never has existed.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at October 28, 2006 12:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.

Neil, you may have noticed that you have no credibility here, but still people are willing to listen to you and respond.

Why don't you present your strategy for how the USA can win this fight? Maybe people will be convinced. Maybe we'll back Bush in following your strategy.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 28, 2006 01:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this country doesn't have the collective will to win this fight.

You are right, we are losing the war because their tax cuts
are more important to this administration then winning the war.

Posted by: spencer at October 28, 2006 02:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Do the creative destructionists believe a series of metastasizing conflicts through the region will help spur on the 'freedom agenda'?

Yes
Simple answers to simple questions, Atrios style.

That answer is self evident. The correct question is how do they think a series of metastasizing conflicts through the region will help spur on the 'freedom agenda'?

My jaundiced view is that the killing millions upon millions is the solution they envision. With time, and enough death horror and hopelessness the remaining Iranians will embrace pseudomanly white Chrisitans as their saviours. But that's just me. It's either that or some more benign but equally abusrd fantasy.

I doubt however that the Freedom Agenda is believed to be possible. Such is just a rhetorical device. Nobody believes it's possible. Nor is pacifying much less domesticating Gulf region Muslims thought to be possible. We are just going to destroy them. In the case of Iranians their milleniums old quest for a return to glory will be finally destroyed.

Posted by: rapier at October 28, 2006 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Possibly your problem is in thinking Boot a "capable foreign policy analyst". I've never read any argument from him that wasn't at some point weakened by a seriously flawed assumption - as is case with above, several flawed assumption actually. One, Iran is backing a large majority faction in Iraq, which wouldn't be the case for US in Iran and therefore renders any turn around is fair play notion DOA; two, Iran is exploiting a chaotic situation in Iraq, not creating one, which would be case for US in Iran if one was foolish enough to take Boot seriously; three, there's a huge difference between managing a chaotic situation and being managed by it - Boot of course assumes we have the wherewithal presently to do the former; four, discontent does not necessarily create strange bedfellows but Boot assumes it does.

Posted by: saintsimon at October 28, 2006 02:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, Greg, I'm going to leave the issue of cognitive dissonance (both in Max Boot's fantastical prescriptions for Iran, and your characterization of him as "a capable foreign policy analyst") to others, and move on:

"The U.S. already has increased aid for the promotion of democracy in Iran, from $3 million in 2005 to $76 million in the just-concluded fiscal year.

Just for drill, what, exactly are the US taxpayers getting for their $76 million? What, precisely, are these "democracy promotion" expenditures buying us? Is it for propaganda - printed, broadcast, online? Money slipped to anti-regime groups inside Iran? Money slipped to terrorist "freedom-fighting" groups inside Iran? Money to support "exile" causes outside Iran (headquartered in Beverly Hills or the Côte d'Azur, no doubt)?

One really has to wonder at the connection-to-reality of some of these neocons (and/or their apologists). With their pet project in geopolitical "realignment" (i.e. Iraq) literally lying in smoking ruins, their main reaction seems to be not to analyze what might have gone wrong about their recommendations and actions, but simply ignore facts, and move along to more Great Game fantasising, and hatching plans about "regime change" in faraway lands - plans whose chances of implemention start at nil, and go downwards from there.

If there weren't a nontrivial probablility of people actually dying as a result of these ludicrous machinations, it would be laughable.

Posted by: Jay C at October 28, 2006 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The only reasonable definition of ' highly capable analyst' is someone whose predictions have come true more often than a coin flip.

Boot hasn't done this. In fact, he's done worse than a coin flip.

I would call him something else.

Posted by: gcochran at October 28, 2006 04:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

i guess i missed the 'highly' part.

Posted by: greg djerejian at October 28, 2006 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not all neoconservatives are automatically incapable. Consider Francis Fukuyama, who once proudly called himself neocon but when the Iraq debacle showed itself on the horizon, at first slowly then with increasing velocity distanced himself from the idiocy, until recently he decided to give up the neocon label altogether. Strangely enough I've always found Fukuyama interesting, even as he was lambasted by the left: and it's no surprise to me that he finds himself diametrically opposed to his former allies.

His weblog is interesting, as well, in that it covers a wide variety of topics, not only the Iraq debacle --- but he of course does refer to it from time to time, most recently on the anniversary of September 11:

http://the-american-interest.com/contd/?p=566#comments

"1. 'Terrorism' is the wrong term to describe the problem we face. Terrorism is a tactic used by the weak; we are not fighting the tactic but a group of violent Islamists and insurgents. It makes no sense to lump together someone willing to fly a plane into a skyscraper in New York with an ex-Baathist attacking American soldiers on Iraqi territory, odious as both may be. While people in these categories may be temporary allies, their motivations and the threat they pose to the United States are very different."

Posted by: Mitsu at October 28, 2006 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Error message: in my post at 3:46 above, "terrorist" was supposed to be in (sarcastic) strkethrough. HTML is NOT always my friend...

Posted by: Jay C at October 28, 2006 05:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Persia has been a unified state for over 2,500 years . . .

Sorry, wrong. Its current incarnation emerged from a period of disintegration in the 16th century.

Posted by: David Tomlin at October 28, 2006 06:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> 'Terrorism' is the wrong term to describe the problem we face.

I have found this obvious from the beginning; terrorism is a tactic, like lying. Declaring a global war on "lying" to be pursued by whatever means are necessary, including lots of lying, would obviously be moronic, and yet US citizens have widely fallen for the same fallacy in use of word "terror".

But, the idea of spending money to fund so-called Islamic terrorism, as obviously Cheney and Boot are in favor of, is not new -- some of these same guys under Reagan and Bush were for this same principle, which is of course how the US funded, trained, and developed the so-called al quaeda terror cells.

Obviously this is why some people are chuckling as they watch the US' previous efforts to spread urban terror somewhat rebound on the US (but, let's be honest, they are only somewhat rebounding).

Posted by: jehoso at October 28, 2006 07:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dear Mr. Boot

I am a Iranian living in Los Angeles for many years, I was raised in a family that is academically very involved with the Iranian culture and history.

After reading your article on today’s LA Times “How to Deal with Iran” I concluded that your knowledge of Iran and Iranians and their history is at best minimal.

In this article on “soft” approach to regime change in Iran you are offering nothing new from what has already been discussed and presented to Iran and it was rejected. Even the security guarantees that you mention was offered by EU3 and apparently did not fly.

As to the strategy for Mr. Ganji’s color revolution one should note that for Iranians Mr. Ganji is a prominent regime maker, he correctly served his country as an intelligent officer during the Iran Iraq war. By suggesting to put and American title under his name we will take away whatever credibility he has left with Iranians. Like he asked and you ignored it’s better that if he is left alone, he may be able to achieve more.

As to your “hard” approach suggestion of “doing to Iran what Iran is doing to us in Iraq” you forgot to mention that we have already done that to Iran, that is during The eight years of war between Iran and Iraq, by promoting and later supporting Sadam to rage a war with Iran that design was to halt the Iranian revolution from spreading in Muslim world consequentially that approach, not only didn’t change the regime but infuriated  the Iranian nationalism. This was not understood by policy makers when implemented, or perhaps some Chalabi type was advising the administration at the time.

As for Iraq’s situation perhaps we should start thinking that this is the Iraqis that are tired of being done by us and the British, and decided they should start doing to us what we did to them in tune of nearly 3000 American lives and over 300 billion dollars.

The biggest misconception among the so called experts on Iran is that we can change the Iranian regime by ethnic insurgency and separatist movements like what is now being preached by Michael Ledeen, what is being ignored in this formulation is, that Iran is a nation and not a draw up country by some colonist in last century. A nation shares same values, culture, traditions and history and in Iran’s case this culture stretches much farther then it’s current borders. By reading Iranian history you can find that this approach has already been practiced  many times by invaders and conquerors in the last millennium, and not only it did not work, it actually reformed and absorbed the incoming cultures, just like what is now happing in our country here, don’t we call that The Melting Pot. For that matter one should just visit Tehran’s grand Bazaar and see if they are more Azeri’s or Persians running the economy there. I am of an Azeri descendents who moved to central Iran three decades ago I call myself Iranian and not Azeri regardless of the ruling government in Iran. As matter of a fact the current head of country is also of Azeri descendents and I heard he speaks Azeri fluently as his born language, but he loves Persian poetry and currently he is the Decider there.

These days in media we hear and read that we should talk to Iran, and Iranians love America. That is true Iranians really respect America and enjoy it’s modern culture like they always did, but this doesn’t mean that they approve of American policies and designs for their nation. Since the 1953 American coup against democratically elected government of Iran there is a deep mistrust among Iranians of designs and intentions of America for Iran. Just as they always had a mistrust of the British and Russians since their agreements of 1907and 1911 and later the British agreement of 1919. Iran knows and feels that reemergence of America’s love for Iran is to make the country, subservient of its power once more for their strategic location and control of their resources, and not for the Atomic program.

Precisely this is the reason that we see so much nationalism is being shown by Iranians to Iran’s Atomic program. Historically they wouldn’t stand for foreign bosses. In another word if there is going to be a SOB they rather have one of their own.

There is a saying in Persian that says “Doory va Dossty” that means friendship from distance. That is precisely what we need to do with Iran. Because of Iran’s location America can be Iran’s best friend this was proven during the Truman administration in 1948 when he asked the Russians to leave Iran’s territory they occupied during the WWII, this American good gesture was all gone with 1953 coup. As a result Iranians think Truman’s 1948 act was to secure American
Interests but not for democracy in Iran’

As a nation aren’t we tired of wars and regime changes done in our name. One reads that since inception of this country, America has been involved in over a 100 foreign wars and regime changes and Iran had none. Can we all come together and truly encourage peace for the sake of the world.

Posted by: kooshy afshar Los Angeles at October 28, 2006 08:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Max Boot is capable.....LOL.....that's risible. In fact, the idea that *anyone* in Washington is "capable" is highly questionable.

The way it works is that a select few prep school/Ivy League types get together, pat each other on the back, kiss each others' asses, and help each other up the social/political ladder. Opinions are like assholes....everyone's got one.....but these special people have their opinions treated like manna from heaven because they have aligned themselves with the right backers, have the "right" credentials, espouse opinions that are in vogue, etc....They are proclaimed "capable experts" by...well, by themselves, essentially.

Most of the time the "experts" enjoy their social climb, the black tie affairs, the prestige and title and then eventual retirement without any real challenge to their opinions. This is because most of the time it is actually the Big Business men that actually direct foreign policy, or at least keep it within sane and safe parameters.

What we have seen with Iraq and other recent Middle Eastern developments is a rare instance where the "intellectuals" and other special "experts" were allowed to direct policy; one of the rare occasions on which their opinions were actually to put the test of fire.

Boot is just another of these "experts" with an opinion. Greg himself is of the "special" group, but he has a moral heart and a mind that refuses to shut down in spite of the discomfort of cognitive disonance. Commendable attributes to be sure. However, it is the conflict of nature versus nurture that drives Greg to perceive that something is wrong - terribly wrong - yet still say silly things, like insisting that Max Boot is capable.....or, as he once did, that G. Bush is capable.......


Posted by: avedis at October 28, 2006 11:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Iran knows and feels that reemergence of America’s love for Iran is to make the country, subservient of its power once more for their strategic location and control of their resources, and not for the Atomic program. "

Mr. Kooshy, folks in Iran under a controlled media may misguidedly think this, but hopefully you know better. We don't want Iran's resources (see Iraq), but we don't appreciate them used as a weapon against us either.

Should America not be concerned about a nuclear-armed Iran whose leader awaits the imminent return of the Mahdi? And whose return will apparently be hastened by general chaos?

And your solution the the problem is to put more effort into being a "distant friend" with Iran at the same time Leader mocks Bush as a devil, and threatens our allies with physical harm, and in one case, total destruction?

Is this a genuine solution to the problem?

Posted by: neill at October 29, 2006 02:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Neil, you may have noticed that you have no credibility here, but still people are willing to listen to you and respond.

Why don't you present your strategy for how the USA can win this fight? Maybe people will be convinced. Maybe we'll back Bush in following your strategy."

Apologies, Thomas J, for not responding promptly....life distractions. And thank you for your charitable thoughts. BTW, you my equate disagreement with 'lack of credibility', but I don't.

And as to your request for my strategy, at this point I'm for fomenting some internal unrest in Iran. They, under current leadership, are clearly our enemy. They, clearly, are a key enemy of a democratic regime in Iraq.

i'm like cat...curious.

What's your grand strategy for Iran...and Iraq. Other than running home (not as safe a place as it used to be) and hiding under the couch.

Or are you like all the coward Dem candidates across the country...riding to apparent victory on Bush Is Bad.... saying virtually nothing about real policy ideas of their own?

We at least knew what we were buying from the Dems, or not, in 2004.

Posted by: neill at October 29, 2006 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill, you've got to get out more, get news from sources other than Newsmax.

Here's a news bulletin for you: The war in Iraq is unwinnable. Period, full stop.

That's the word from the military in charge of the war.

Not me, not the Democrats, not the MSM. It's the word from the military in charge of the war.

Now, that, of course, depends on one's definition of winning.

Bush's and Cheney's definition of winning is "no withdrawal of troops while we're still in office." In other words, the only definition that means anything to them is one that will save their face for the likes of you. As long as US troops are still in Iraq, they haven't "lost."

We're over 2800 deaths of US servicepeople, and some hideous number of Iraqis, and both numbers are just going to keep climbing.

But not for a victory, because no victory is attainable.

Bush is going to let US soldiers keep dying and getting maimed for no other reason than he wants to look good to his base. And his base will eat it up, pound their chests, and utter inanities like "Oh, yeah? Well, what Plan for Victory do the Democrats have, huh?"

And that's the screwiest thing of all, neill. Because you'll think everything's hunky dory as long as US troops are still dying. You'll be able to cherish your batshit crazy fantasies of Total Victory as long as US troops are still dying.

You, like Bush, are a vampire: feeding your ego with the blood of US soldiers.

Posted by: CaseyL at October 29, 2006 05:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The way it works is that a select few prep school/Ivy League types get together, pat each other on the back, kiss each others' asses, and help each other up the social/political ladder. Opinions are like assholes....everyone's got one.....but these special people have their opinions treated like manna from heaven because they have aligned themselves with the right backers, have the "right" credentials, espouse opinions that are in vogue, etc....They are proclaimed "capable experts" by...well, by themselves, essentially.

For me, one offshoot of the last five years has been that any special respect I might have had for elite schools has evaporated (and I say this as somebody who graduated from a computer science department that's usually ranked among the top 20 or so). And I'm convinced now that "political science" is an abomination -- having a degree in this "discipline" is pretty much like being a certified shithead.

Posted by: sglover at October 29, 2006 06:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Max Boot got his start as a conservative columnist for The Daily Californian, that is, the UC Berkeley student paper. His column, then as now, was a tendentious repetition of official right-wing talking points without the least regard for accuracy. Only in Neoconistan could he be called "a capable foreign policy analyst". He's just another assclown spewing ignorant nonsense, like the WSJ Editorial Board as a whole.

This is hardly surprising, when you consider that the great neocon expert on Iran, Michael Ledeen, who has been calling for a war for a while, has never been to Iran and does not read or speak Farsi. "Expertise" in such circles is a function of the rhetorical persuasiveness of the output, not the quality of the analysis.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus at October 29, 2006 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As for whether these guys "really believe" this stuff (i.e., the "freedom agenda"), did Trotsky really believe his freedom agenda? He is merely the most convenient analogy; there are others.

When the issue of "really believe" enters the picture, the next trope is "will." "Do we have the (collective) will to win this fight?"

This reflects the neocon reduction of the world into the unassailable exceptionalism of American ideology struggling against ignorant yet tactically brilliant reactionary extremists, who, with unimaginable effrontery, challenge the reality and virtuous historical inevitability our new unipolar world.

A boring rehash of old theologies, indeed.

Posted by: MD at October 29, 2006 02:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW, you my equate disagreement with 'lack of credibility', but I don't.

The issue there isn't that nobody agrees with you. It's that most of us don't believe you're real. You're a strawman that gets presented for us to stomp on, by people whose job is to present such strawmen and pretend that there's some sort of credible viewpoint there. I'm doing you the courtesy of pretending you're a real human being, mostly to make rhetorical points.

Oh well. I asked for your strategy for how the USA can "win this fight". You presented only the latest talking point, that we should try to destabllise iran. You gave no indication how that would "win this fight". It would be at best a stopgap measure. But it's the current talking point, I couldn't expect you to say anything else. I do want to point out that its primary use is for a talking point. If our intention was to destabilise iran and create armed conflict there between religious groups and between ethnic groups -- the sort of thing that happened in Xugoslavia and iraq and such, that we at least pretended to try to stop everywhere else -- we wouldn't spend more money talking about it in public than we actually spend on doing it. Talking about it in public, saying its our strategy, works against the strategy. To the extent the iranians notice us claiming we're using this strategy (and they can hardly help notice with close to 2 million iranian-borns living in this country) it makes them more unified. It encourages them to heal their sectarian and ethnic wounds, to get everybody working together against the common enemy, us. The main value of a talking point like this is to persuade the sort of real people that you are modeled on that there actually is a strategy, that we aren't just floundering about, staying the course.

You asked my strategy. I don't blame politicians for not announcing a strategy beyond denouncing Bush's lack of one. Bush has never presented a strategy, why should they? Any strategy they propose at this point will be overtaken by events. And since there's no agreement what to do, no agreement whatsoever, anybody who stakes out a position will be opposed by everybody who favors something else -- which may be part of the reason Bush has never presented a strategy, though it appears the more important reason is that he doesn't have one. But I am not a politician and I can boldly tread where politicans fear to go.

The first step has to be to get rid of Bush and Cheney. Only someone who isn't to blame for the disaster can be trusted to cut our losses. This may not be feasible, and I can't begin to say what we'll be facing in January 2009 after 2 more years of drifting, so any strategy now must depend on Bush/Cheney gone.

The new guy can then order a review by every current officer in iraq with the rank captain or above. What are they doing? What do they expect it to accomplish? What would they do they think the job is for the US military in iraq? What would they do toward getting the job done if it was their choice? Each report is to go directly to the President and not passed through channels or reviewed by higher officers.

That's a lot of reports. It will take a lot of people to review those reports. But 2/3 of the effort provides logistics for the other 1/3 so presumably 2/3 of the reports can be understood pretty quickly. It's possible that somebody in the US military who's currently in iraq has a workable plan. Cull the list for possibilities and present them to the higher officers in case something looks plausible. If nothing shows up pretty quick, then we proceed to the predictable second step.

While we do that, we announce to the iraqi government and the iraqi parliament that we will no longer control them. We will stop doing election fraud in iraqi elections. We will stop threatening iraqi politicians and stop falsifying votes in the iraqi parliament. We might remove our troops, and we might or might not give the iraqi government aid, but we won't force them into anything and we won't force them to stop anything. We really and truly do wnt iraqi democracy. And the US-appointed advisors in all the iraqi ministries will be removed. They will be available for advice and even work over the internet, in case they're useful, but they will no longer be able to control iraqi ministries. This might give the iraqi government some breathing space. People who have decided it's worthless might give it a chance to prove itself. The single thing that would most help it prove itself would be to order the US military out of the country.

With no sense of coercion, I'd want to give the iraqi government advice. Allow full citizenship for ex-Ba'athists, and allow a political party to use the name Ba'ath if they want to. (Ba'athists convicted of old crimes would still be punished.) Ask each militia to declare the boundaries it claims to control, and where only one militia claims, give them police powers. Get local judges who're locally respected. If that turns into sharia law some places then OK, sharia law is better than no law. Establish that for capital crimes the judge has a choice between allowing the defendant to move out of the judge's jurisdiction and never come back, or refer the case to a higher court. In later elections, allow voters oni the edge of two militias to vote which they want for their police. Unpopular militias will get smaller areas.

The point is to actually use democracy for what it's good for, for settling disputes with minimal violence. One citizen one vote is a rough approximation to one gun one vote, if you lose the democratic vote there's a good chance you'd lose the militaryi option too. See if the winners give you a deal that's better than fighting it out. This works a lot of places, it can work in iraq. But it actually has to be democratic, the results can't be imposed by a foreign power. Likely the violence will die down, apart from violence against us. Particularly if we announce that the shia shrine bombing was done by us and not by sunnis. Don't announce it if it isn't true, but it's likely true. A new president could find out and use it to help get a peace started.

In the lack of a workable military plan, order the military to plan their quickest reasonable removal fromi iraq. Make one plan that involves blowing up what we can't move out, or giving it to trusted iraqi units. One for taking most of the stuff with us, along with friendly iraqis who'd be in danger without us. Choose which plan to follow based on events. With a plan in hand, approach the iraqi parliament and ask what they want. If we're going to leave we might as well do them the courtesy of letting them demand we leave before we start going. Or they migiht have some better idea.

It's been costing us about $12 billion a month to stay in iraq, above the costs we would have had anyway, and not counting the costs of continuing medical care for the wounded, replacement and repair for damaged and wornout equipment, etc. I would propose that we give the iraqi government about $4 billion a month to spend on reconstruction etc. That more than doubles their budget and gives them a chance to do reconstruction. Given specific militias charged with protecting reconstruction work, and nobody particularly benefitting by blowing stuff up, and iraqis getting the jobs and doing the work, that might work out very well. If it clearly doesn't work and kraq keeps doing civil war, and we see much of the money spent on military stuff, we can cut off the funds.

Meanwhile, there's iran. We have no quarrel with iran except the one Bush picked. Tell the iranians we won't bother them if they don't bother us, and ignore them. They'll get nuclear power. They might sell HEU or plutonium. Try to notice who's buying in case any of them look particularly dangerous. Iran might make nuclear weapons. Not our problem. It might be a big problem for israel, who wants to be the only nuclear power in the middle east. Tough. Saudi araibia might want to buy nukes to balance the iranian nukes. We should sell them. Alternatively, if we can get enough nations to sign on to syria's suggestion for a nonnuclear zone across the whole middle east, then that's even better. Israel doesn't need nukes, israel has our nukes.

We need to concentrate on alternate energy. Get a truly cheap energy source and we'll do just fine. Everybody will do much better. Fighting over the dregs of the oil will look stupid when the world has something a lot better. The problem with breeder reactors for that is that they produce so much radioactivity and let people build bombs. Maybe we can find a way around that. Solve the energy problem and everything else falls into place. Fail to solve that and it all gets worse.

HTH

Posted by: J Thomas at October 29, 2006 07:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Boot is dead wrong in several important ways. He assumes first of all that a constant barrage of speeches and symbols gives the impression of wisdom and power. It may intimidate the mainstream media but most Americans realize that what the government says about the Middle East is total bunko. Some of our redstaters don’t care; they just want to sock it to somebody. Second, the person who might turn over the poker table before the game ends is the low man, the guy who has no chips. He doesn’t have much to lose. The guy holding a lot of chips has much to lose. The US still has many chips in spite of the fact that we have antagonized 80% of the Muslim world. When we foment civil war inside Iran, we set fires that we can’t control and are likely to spread to neighboring countries with disastrous consequences. The country most likely to use or rent nukes is Pakistan, supposedly our friends.

History teaches that power corrupts and leads rulers to do crazy things. Why did Hitler attack Russia in June 1941? If he had invaded England instead, he could probably have made peace with the US and gotten a free hand in almost all of Europe. He couldn’t settle for half a loaf and drew the wrong conclusions from his past experience with the German general staff, who had advised against invading France. The US has good relations with the Saudis and access to enough oil if active measures were taken to reduce consumption (i.e. gas tax). Instead, our rulers want the whole goddamn loaf. Senior US military men advised against invading Iraq without many more men. R & B disregarded their advice. Now they continue to disregard the advice of senior commanders that attacking Iran will be even worse than the Iraq tar baby.

Posted by: Galvestonbob at October 29, 2006 07:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for your reply, stupefingly detached from reality as it is.

"With no sense of coercion, I'd want to give the iraqi government advice. Allow full citizenship for ex-Ba'athists, and allow a political party to use the name Ba'ath if they want to. (Ba'athists convicted of old crimes would still be punished.) Ask each militia to declare the boundaries it claims to control, and where only one militia claims, give them police powers. Get local judges who're locally respected. If that turns into sharia law some places then OK, sharia law is better than no law. Establish that for capital crimes the judge has a choice between allowing the defendant to move out of the judge's jurisdiction and never come back, or refer the case to a higher court. In later elections, allow voters oni the edge of two militias to vote which they want for their police. Unpopular militias will get smaller areas."

With an American military withdrawal, no Iraqi will listen to your lovely ideas/ideals. We will be considered irrelevant. Additionally, all of those who have risked their security to cooperate with us will be butchered. Do you know how many hundreds of thousands were butchered after our withdrawal from Vietnam? This will dwarf that.

"The point is to actually use democracy for what it's good for, for settling disputes with minimal violence. One citizen one vote is a rough approximation to one gun one vote, if you lose the democratic vote there's a good chance you'd lose the militaryi option too. See if the winners give you a deal that's better than fighting it out. This works a lot of places, it can work in iraq. But it actually has to be democratic, the results can't be imposed by a foreign power. Likely the violence will die down, apart from violence against us. Particularly if we announce that the shia shrine bombing was done by us and not by sunnis. Don't announce it if it isn't true, but it's likely true. A new president could find out and use it to help get a peace started."

I have only one word: NUTTY.

"In the lack of a workable military plan, order the military to plan their quickest reasonable removal fromi iraq. Make one plan that involves blowing up what we can't move out, or giving it to trusted iraqi units. One for taking most of the stuff with us, along with friendly iraqis who'd be in danger without us. Choose which plan to follow based on events. With a plan in hand, approach the iraqi parliament and ask what they want. If we're going to leave we might as well do them the courtesy of letting them demand we leave before we start going. Or they migiht have some better idea."

Like one-way plane tickets out.

Ever hear the term "power vacuum"? If we pull out before the Iraqi security forces are able and willing to impose the will of the government on the country, to fill the power vacuum created from our departure, the vacuum will be filled in any event. By the forces currently creating instabilty, only at a MUCH more frenzied pace. There will be Civil War, at which point you will look back at current levels of unrest as a quaint memory. This process will begin the moment the Administration begins entertaining of premature withdrawal.

"It's been costing us about $12 billion a month to stay in iraq, above the costs we would have had anyway, and not counting the costs of continuing medical care for the wounded, replacement and repair for damaged and wornout equipment, etc. I would propose that we give the iraqi government about $4 billion a month to spend on reconstruction etc. That more than doubles their budget and gives them a chance to do reconstruction. Given specific militias charged with protecting reconstruction work, and nobody particularly benefitting by blowing stuff up, and iraqis getting the jobs and doing the work, that might work out very well. If it clearly doesn't work and kraq keeps doing civil war, and we see much of the money spent on military stuff, we can cut off the funds."

Just skip to the last sentence of the paragraph, at which the government collapses and Bhagdad becomes Saigon in '75/'76, only much worse. Worse than Lebanon in the 70's and 80's. The world will have never seen the such carnage. And whatever eventually rises to control will likely be our bitter enemy on the level of Iran and Venezuela, on a sea of oil.

"Meanwhile, there's iran. We have no quarrel with iran except the one Bush picked. Tell the iranians we won't bother them if they don't bother us, and ignore them. They'll get nuclear power. They might sell HEU or plutonium. Try to notice who's buying in case any of them look particularly dangerous. Iran might make nuclear weapons. Not our problem. It might be a big problem for israel, who wants to be the only nuclear power in the middle east. Tough. Saudi araibia might want to buy nukes to balance the iranian nukes. We should sell them. Alternatively, if we can get enough nations to sign on to syria's suggestion for a nonnuclear zone across the whole middle east, then that's even better. Israel doesn't need nukes, israel has our nukes. "

If Iran gets or has nukes, they will end up in our cities. Hopefully, yours before mine.


Posted by: neill at October 29, 2006 08:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Iran gets or has nukes, they will end up in our cities.

Right, because if an Islamic nation that supported Islamic radicals had nukes, the U.S.A.'s cities would get blown up.

Oh, wait, that already happened, in Pakistan, proud sponsor of the Taliban and (it certainly seems) al-Qaeda. Except for the cities-blowing-up part.

And we're supposed to take you seriously, Neill?

Posted by: Anderson at October 29, 2006 11:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson,

Please don't tell me that YOU'RE seriously comparing the violent intent (and track record) toward the US of Tehran to Islamabad?

And please don't tell me that Iran with nukes is NOT a threat to the region and EUROPE and the US.

Achmedinejad has said in recent speeches that a world without Israel and the US is not far away. And he explicitly threatened Europe with harm recently if it did not distance itself from Israel.

Do you think there are NOT Hezbollah cells in the US, Canada and Mexico?

Who's really being unserious here?

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

With an American military withdrawal, no Iraqi will listen to your lovely ideas/ideals. We will be considered irrelevant.

Exactly. They might pay attention to good ideas from somebody who can't make them do things. They surely won't correctly implement things that get forced on them.

Additionally, all of those who have risked their security to cooperate with us will be butchered.

If we believe that, we need to offer all those people a ticket out. It won't be hundreds of thousands. There aren't hundreds of thousands that we're protecting now. And it will turn out that the majority of the iraqis who appear to be collaborating with us can make a credible case that they're double agents and working for iraqi independence.There aren't any stay-at-home iraqis who're ready to bet that we'll protect them. They've seen too many times we broke our promises. Not counting this time around, there was Bush Sr who told the shias he'd back them up if they revolted. That's where a lot of the mass gaves were supposed to have come from, although it turns out we're having trouble finding most of them.

Then there were our promises to back Saddam if he'd invade iran. And our promise to stay out of it if he attacked kuwait. And there was the time Kissinger armed the kurds to revolt, and doublecrossed them as soon as their pressure gave him a better deal. That was some more of the mass graves. The kurds don't trust us one bit, but they don't have any other friends, even fairweather friends.

Iraqis who risk their security to cooperate with us are fools. And every iraqi knows it.
I don't think there are very many of that kind of fool there. They've all worked out their own security, they have contacts with the resistance and give them information and occasionally do some sabotage etc, to prove they aren't really on our side. But we ought to offer a ticket out to the ones we think are on our side. It can't hurt unless we give them access to sensitive information or something.

Ever hear the term "power vacuum"? If we pull out before the Iraqi security forces are able and willing to impose the will of the government on the country, to fill the power vacuum created from our departure, the vacuum will be filled in any event.

You seem to think there's some sort of power vacuum left from the time our forces mostly went back to protecting their bases and not patrolling etc. But this "vacuum" has been filled by militias.Part of the problem is militias that don't have their borders set, and part of it is "government forces" trying to attack the various neighborhood watches, trying to create power vacuums. And then there's the ethnic cleansing etc. So what's your strategy? It sounds like you want to "support" the official government until there are enough iraqis loyal to that "government" that it wins against everybody else? Any idea what level of commitment that would take, and for how long?

If Iran gets or has nukes, they will end up in our cities. Hopefully, yours before mine.

I'm close to DC, and it's quite likely DC will get nuked first. Probably not by iran, but by somebody or other. We've shown we aren't willing to disrupt trade enough to actually check for smuggled bombs. OK, so we need to be ready to respond to several attacks on mid-size cities, or one attack on a large city. We need supplies already arranged that we can move quickly to wherever they're needed. And we need to work out evacuation plans for each city. New orleans and houston show how bad off we are there. We need to look at whether it's better to evacuate people from a fallout plume or expect them to wait it out. If we *can* evacuate them, we ought to, they aren't going to get antiradiation treatments sitting in their improvised fallout shelters. It's a different civil defense question than back in the cold war when we assumed any attack would hit everybody at once. We can actually respond to a small attack, and we need to be ready to do so. A lot of the preparations would double for hurricane and earthquake etc. It's worth doing. Even if nobody at all nukes us. Homeland Security that assumes no US city will get nuked is ... incompetent?

So anyway, you've explained your strategy now. You want to stay the course, and that's it. You argue that if we stop doing the things we're doing now then it will make things get much worse for iraqis, so we have to keep on going on. Do you have an estimate how long it's likely to take this approach to create some kind of success?

Posted by: J Thomas at October 30, 2006 01:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Please don't tell me that YOU'RE seriously comparing the violent intent (and track record) toward the US of Tehran to Islamabad?

Red herring. No one rational has suggested that Iran qua Iran would attack the domestic U.S. with nukes. The threat, IIRC from the last set of wingnut talking points, is supposed to be that Iran would build nukes at great expense to itself, then entrust these supremely valuable weapons to nutjob terrorists who would attack the U.S. with them. Which is no less plausible to imagine of the multifarious entity which masquerades as the gov't of Pakistan -- I doubt Musharraf has knowledge, let alone control, of what his intel boys are up to with the Taliban and Qaeda.

(If you have updated talking points, please provide.)

And please don't tell me that Iran with nukes is NOT a threat to the region and EUROPE and the US.

Well, I won't, since you ask. But more to the point: sure they're a threat. So was Soviet Russia. So is North Korea. The point is, what do you do about it?

In the real world, the ones with grownups, living with threats is what you do every day. Trying to eliminate some threats is likely to bring about unpleasant certainties.

Achmedinejad has said in recent speeches that a world without Israel and the US is not far away. And he explicitly threatened Europe with harm recently if it did not distance itself from Israel.

Right. And he controls how many nukes? Your ignorance of Iranian politics is depressing, if typical. The president is the popular guy who's supposed to rally the people with this sort of b.s. He's not to be mistaken for the guy with his finger on the button.

I would imagine Hezbollah has cells in North America, which only raises the question: if Iran is so melodramatically evil, why haven't they attacked us since 1979?

Posted by: Anderson at October 30, 2006 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

HTH, you completely missed my first point. without military power, we will be ignored. we will have betrayed most of the country. iraqis will do whatever they can to protect themswelves nd their families/tribes. they will have no use or patience for your bromides.

you blame bush 1 for saddam's mass graves, not saddam. therefore, mass graves following our departure will be the liberal's fault..... your fault. as was the horrific aftermath in Vietnam, for that matter. which led to the iranian embassy takeover in 1979, which we didn't respond to. which led to the marine barrcks bombing in 1982 which we didn't respond to. which led to the khobar towers bombing, which we didn't respond to. which led to World Trade Center 1....and Kenya and Tanazian embaassies.....and the USS Cole....which led to 9/11.

and now you want to run from Iraq, where we cannot be beaten militarily, but on TV screens. And prove Osama's point the we are the weak horse.

and then accept that we will be attacked with nukes, without wanting to even try to stop them t the source? Osama was right.

To what end? What are you ultimately trying to achieve with pacifist passiveness?

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 02:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

anderson,

I of course agree with you about the unfortunate disunity that is Pakistan.

But as you brought up the 'finger on the button', I'd venture that the current finger in Pakistan is a far sight less hateful than that in Iran.

Then tell me what the potential threat, in all forms, is from Iran. We've been talking for years and it only seems to grow, to me. And how to deal with it.

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Then tell me what the potential threat, in all forms, is from Iran. We've been talking for years and it only seems to grow, to me.

Okay--*why* does it seem that way to you? What has Iran done, that the "threat ... only seems to grow"?

Until Bush declared Iran part of the "axis of evil," what were the Iranians doing? And how did the announcement that we were committed to changing their regime affect Iran?

And how to deal with it.

Well, # 1, act like grownups. Accept that Iran, whether run by kooks or not, is a major power in the Mideast, and that we are better off talking to them than not. Try to create some plausible carrots/sticks, short of war, regarding nuclear weapons -- I doubt that, after Bush's maladministration, we have a hope of dissuading Iran from going nuclear, but it's worth a serious try. Work on knitting Iran into the respectable nuclear community.

All of this obviously implies some serious work on Israeli-Palestinian relations -- a clear commitment to the Israeli state's existence and health, while being just as clear about a commitment to the existence and health of a Palestinian state.

All of that would be very hard work, but it's the direction we have to work towards. Our maniacal bullshit over the past 5 years hasn't gotten us anywhere, indeed has made success much, much more difficult.

What we *cannot* afford is to go berserk because some Arab or Farsi politico said something horrible about Israel, for instance. I mean, how do you think these people maintain their regimes? They don't have guns pointed at each citizen. The perpetual crisis in Palestine, together with American saber-rattling, have been a *godsend* to the various tyrants of the Mideast. Anything to keep the guy on the street preoccupied with ideology instead of with why he doesn't have a free press, etc.

Posted by: Anderson at October 30, 2006 04:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you completely missed my first point. without military power, we will be ignored.

No, I didn't miss that point. That point is not worth responding to. See, if the only way you have to ge people to pay attention to you is to point a gun at them, they probably just plain aren't going to be very sympathetic. And if you expect you can make them do what you want by pointing guns at them -- you have a long and high-manpower occupation ahead of you.

It doesn't matter whether iraqis pay attention to my advice or not. Just, it's good advice. Democracy works by simulating the result of armed conflict with votes. The simulation is far cheaper and you have to feel like you're being hurt a whole lot before you go back to armed conflict instead. The trouble is, we haven't been trying democracy. We've been trying fake democracy, where we pretend iraq has a democracy while we make them do what we want. Surprise! They don't respect the government we imposed on them. Let them have a real honest-to-god democracy and there's a strong chance they'll use it and stop fighting.

There's the side issue that what their public wants may not be what we want them to want. OK, tough. Get a stable democracy in iraq and we're doing a lot better than occupation. Our army isn't doing anything toward iraqi democracy. Nothing. What our army is doing is making them pay attention to us instead of to solving their problems.

you blame bush 1 for saddam's mass graves, not saddam.

You miss my point yet again. You keep trying to fit it into your existing pigeonholes of rebuttable points. I can't make you pay attention since there's no way to point a gun at you over the internet, but please pay attention anyway.

I'm not blaming anybody. No doubt Bush I had a perfectly good reason to tell iraqis to rise up in revolt and he'd support them, and no doubt he had a perfectly good reason to stand aside and do nothing to support them. No blame. I'm not even blaming Saddam for doing whatever it was he did to pre-empt civil war in iraq. I'm saying that any iraqi who believes in american promises of protection, after hearing about our history, is a fool. Fool me twice? It's idiotic for any iraqi to believe in US promises of protection at this point, or even 3 years ago. I strongly doubt there are many of them. Iraqis who appear to depend on US protection are mostly working for one resistance group or another. It follows that americans who believe that iraqi translators, soldiers, policemen, politicians, diplomats, doctors, etc are on our side and believe in our protection are also fools. If you are in iraq and depending on an iraqi translator for anything important, you are a fool.

I don't blame our military for being fools. There simply aren't enough reliable translators available. It takes 1 to 2 years for our military to train a US soldier to be a reliable arabic translator, and so there hasn't been time to train very many of them. So what can we do except stumble around blindly or stay in our bases? No blame.

No blame. Your idea that if we leave then lots of iraqis will be killed for supporting us ss wrong. There are essentially no iraqis that support us. Iraqis might continue to be killed in iraq after we're gone, but if so it will be for other reasons. Your fantasy is separated from reality on this. You simply don't understand what's going on. And yet you seem to have part of it. Iraqis only pay attention to what we say because we point guns at them. What you don't get is that a major part of why they tend to ignore what we say is that they've seen that we say crazy things that have no obvious connection to their reality. Why pay attention to the ravings of a madman unless he's armed?

Posted by: J Thomas at October 30, 2006 04:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

btw, seems like everyone's a fool. except you. and the state dept. you will never opt to pull trigger to save anyone's ass but your own. fool.

you'll be the death of us all.

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 06:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

anderson,

more talk, huh? this site is misnamed. it should be called moretalk.com, or echochamber.moretalk.com

how much progress toward OUR goals have been made? how much progress toward their goals has been made? I'd venture to say they are much closer to a nuclear weapon, and we are much further from them not having one. how can you dispute that? actually, from our previous exchange, I'm sure you can.

talk about stubborn. GW ain't got nothin on you guys.

tell me, in the nuclear age, when is more talk of no use?

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 06:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Love the comment about Hezbollah having terror cells in the US... If you bothered to learn anything about Hezbollah you'd know that its highly unlikely. Hezbollah's raison d'etre is the conflict between Israel and her neighbours. They came about as a freedom fighting force (one man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist - some here ought to learn that) ostensibly to force Israel and the US out of Lebanon - which they largely succeeded in doing. Drawing from predominantly Shia populace they have become a proxy for Syria and Iran's aggression towards Israel, which is in no small way provoked by the continued settlement of occupied lands.

Now as an aside this is an unfortunate state of affairs for all concerned. Palestinians get royally screwed in an inter-regional conflict, that is largely not of their making, Israel is beholden to radical right wing Jewish interests and and understandable fear of showing weaknesses,and is supported financially and militarily by the US, who have no real interest in resolving the issue - just maintaining a steady flow of cheap crude, which is diametrically opposed to OPEC who are fundamentally behaving as economic terrorists holding the world to ransom over oil (which is another topic for discussion) and an Arab region with their own ethic and religious divisions (including emnity with Christendom and Judaism), and not one group amongst them really prepared to debate and resolve the issues. Throw in huge amounts of Oil and economic interests and hey presto you've got the middle east!

However I digress as I'm not here to debate the merits or morals or complete lack of any of the parties involved (funny how that happens when money and religion are involved). My point is that other than as a supported of Israel Hezbollah are likely to be highly uninterested in attacking the US mainland. Their (and their backers) beef is with Israel - not the US (although they'llhave no qualms attacking US interests in the region - as the backer of Israel. Completely aside from whose right or wrong on the issue there is no point and no benefit to Hezbollah to commit to actions on US soil... if anything all that will serve to do is make it more difficult for them to conduct any financial planning or operations that might be channelled through US financial markets and institutions, thereby making it more difficult for them to continue to work against Israel - completely counter productive. And besides when Al Qaeda will do it for you, then there isn't much benefit to the backers of Hezbollah either...

Don't forget as much as the Iranians detest the US - they still rely on US currency to purchase their oil so they've a vested interest in ensuring that they don't push things as far as to get their oil embargoed - can't eat the stuff after all.

So ah for those of you who love to push the whole bullshit meme about fighting them over there rather than at home at least get your organisations right!

Posted by: Aran Brown at October 30, 2006 06:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

uh....who blew up the argentinian embassy, mr. I-know-everything-about-everything?

they're actually a tool of Iran. which is currently surrounding Israel with a Hezbollah-hamas aliance. Didn't they provoke the war with Israel on the day the UNSC ws supposed to vote on sanctions on Iran? 07-12-06. Sheer coincidence, no doubt.

Look, this is now a world war, right? The CIA has documented cells here. I guess you're just naive....or..........work for the State Dept.......which is the same, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 07:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Palestinians get royally screwed in an inter-regional conflict, that is largely not of their making..."

this absolute crap.

Posted by: neill at October 30, 2006 07:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Palestinians get royally screwed in an inter-regional conflict, that is largely not of their making..."

this absolute crap.

You would argue that palestinians don't get royally screwed? How droll.

Posted by: J Thomas at October 30, 2006 01:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill, it would help you seem more like an adult if you would write in complete sentences, and use English punctuation, and, above all, try to refrain from cursing and insulting ideas that you don't like.

Posted by: joy at October 30, 2006 01:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

more talk, huh?

I'm sorry, Neill -- are you under the misimpression that we've been negotiating directly with Iran? Because we haven't.

As for Iranian nukes:

All through the Cold War, we heard how the Soviets were crazy, that they had no regard for human life, that they would accept millions of Russian casualties in order to start a nuclear war, that they were in the grips of a millenialist ideology that assured them of ultimate victory and made them indifferent to the deaths along the way.

All of that was bogus.

And now we hear the *same* crap about Iran. What is the matter with your learning curve, people?

Posted by: Anderson at October 30, 2006 02:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dear nille

Thanks for your comments on my post of 28th, sorry at my age I am not interested in some unsubstantiated high school level debate . I posted my comments to this belog since I had already sent that letter to LA Times and Mr. Boot.

Since it seems that you have not been well read in current affairs it is good to know that was not Iran’s leader who called Bush devil , although most of the world wouldn’t have mind if he did, this was leader of Venezuela some 10000 miles further and one from Mr. Monroe’s hemisphere of influence.

As for Iraq’s oil exploitation I suggest you should look at the Viceroy Braymer’s counteracts, signed on behalf of Iraq with major western oil companies back in 03-04, of course that never did get implemented since we have hard time pulling our pants up in Iraq never less extracting their resources.

As to the free press in Iran, it don’t matter what they have ,it matters to me that currently we have not got one here to openly discuss our current war, this is no hidden fact. Shall we also get in to our recently upgrades to our judicial system and US constitution I think not.

So for something to think about, just think the timing on recent announcement of the second cascade of centrifugesComing on line in Iran that coincides with big announcement of the Eisenhower battle group entering in the Persian Gulf aren’t Iranians asking us if you want war “bring it on” do you think Bushies have any balls left for that.

If not we should ask Max Boot and AIPAC like Bill Maher did the other night “would you sit this one out “

Please before you make another comment on Iran read the on line CIA fact book on Iran’s demographics, then see if we can afford another war.

Posted by: kooshy at October 30, 2006 07:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Everyone should remember that when Hamas, Hezbollah or the current regime in Iran speak of Israeli occupied territory, they mean that they consider all Israel to be occupied territory and they will not cease hostilites untill Israel is destroyed. No concessions short of that will satisfy them.

Posted by: David All at October 30, 2006 10:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David what you have posted is wrong if you read what they are asking is to hold a free international monitored referendum in the entire Palestine including Israel, one man one vote including the current immigrants of Israel to decide what form of government the majority wants that sounds fair and the outcome if the Palestinians have more vote it may be that or could go the other way.

Whether you carve out countries out of Foreign office in London, or you make a mandate in UN using a votes from Formosa and bribing Stalin with some parts of Eastern Europe in Yalta does not make a legitimate country unless
People have voted for at the ballot box or by a revolution like this country. We had non in forming Israel that is what is wrong. No body is talking of elimination by force.

Posted by: kooshy at October 31, 2006 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LMAO

"Look, this is now a world war, right? The CIA has documented cells here."

So despite the fact that I quite clearly articulate the reasons why Hezbollah is UNLIKELY to attack US interests in the US (note I sdaid unlikely - not wont), you instead point out that the CIA have identified cells here...

Which does nothing to refute my points... I made the point quite clearly that if there are cells in the US it totally defeats the purpose of Hezbollah aims - why??

Because any attack on US interests outside of the middle east (or indeed serious attack on US interests in the middle east) will impact on the groups ability to funnel funds and logistical support through thr US which is still the key internal capital market... Any direct action which stirs greater action by the US Authorities to investigate and close down cells is counter productive to their interests... ergo they are unlikely to do it - especially when AL Qaeda is more than willing to. Although Hezbollah and AL Qaeda are fairly different in terms of their aims and make up, the old adage of my enemies enemy is my friend is still likely to have a bearing although in my opinion a small one given the different ideological basis underpining each organisation and their differing aims...

Likewise the Iranians walk something or a tight rope. While they love to make trouble for the US you can't eat Oil... So there is to a certain degree a limitation on exactly how far they'll push things. And of course North Korea has just proven thatif you have Nukes you are LESS likely to be invaded by the US or by proxy Israel. There have been a few internation studies that tend to conclude that having nukes is a deterrent to being invaded. I'm relatively convinced that Iran's nuclear aims have a lot more to do with this than using them against Israel, the consequences of which would outweigh the benefits. Do I need to explain that rationale to you?

And I guess I better point out that I quite clearly stated that Iran and Syria to a lesser degree back Hezbollah... so you're telling me something I already know...

""Palestinians get royally screwed in an inter-regional conflict, that is largely not of their making..."

this absolute crap. "

Once again... do you care to support your arguments... Or are you happy to keep making stupid comments?

Please also note that I make NO comments or assertion in terms of supporting what Hezbollah and others do. They do many evil things and some good things (as evidenced by their rapid action in commencing rebuilding Southern Lebanon Post invasion - which made the US look positively uninterested in the plight of the PEOPLE of southern Lebanon). Funnily enough just like the US and Israel do good and bad things...

I know it makes life nice and simple to keep things in black and white but if you can't see and try to comprehend the gray... Well you then get George Bush...

Posted by: Aran Brown at October 31, 2006 02:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

my, my, my. you've been quite busy while I was away. I marvel at so much interest in high-school level debate.

First things first.

Mr. Kooshy, you're right. I did misattribute the devil quote of Chavez to Achmedinejad. However, they're such pals/allies that it seems like they finish each other's sentences. And I did not misattribute anything when i pointed to recent speeches by Achmedinejad (who will henceforth be referred to as A) that say the world will soon be without Israel or America. (which is diplomtspeak for....what?)

And yes, one could say, the Palestinians have been screwed. One could also say that they never miss an opportunity to screw themselves. Starting in 1948, when they walked away from a UN deal to coexist with Israel, which Israel grudgingly accepted. Or Israel's reaching out with 'land-for-peace' after the '67 war. Or the kleptocracy known as the PA. And finally, the full flowering of Islam, Hamas.

And, a large part of that porking has been done by Arab regimes that have refused to absorb Palestinian refugees (atypical behavior, in world history, regarding those displaced by war...especially when newsclips from the period document that those regimes themselves encouraged flight).

But all this merely points to the central issue of our time. The monolithic, territorial, expansionist nature of Islam. Islam's immutable nature.

The muslims were finally stopped at Vienna from consuming Europe. If hordes of rough, brave men hadn't sacraficed all for that, the West, that is, us, would never have existed.

Thing is, Muslims never lose, permanently, ever. Once it's part of the umma, it can never be not a part of it. If Mexico had this same ethic, much of the past 150 years would have involved wars with Mexico.

So when A says that your country will soon no longer exist, don't dismiss it out of hand. When Iran is involved in surreptitious attacks on American outposts over the past 30 years. There's a pattern here folks. When America's ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, is being bombed and missiled and tunneled from all sides. Pay attention to the pattern, to the pattern from their point of view.

When Arafat, during the Oslo period, spoke of peace and coexistence with Israel throught the Western media, and at the same time spoke through the Arab media of famous treaties that Muhammad signed when weak, then broke when stronger, slaughtering his enemy. It's all part of the pattern.

There's only one pattern. And your measly existence, just like Vienna's, is not part of it.

Unless you convert.


Posted by: neill at October 31, 2006 04:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and, btw, if I'm not mistaken, I have never mentioned war with Iran. Nor, to my knowledge, has Michael Ledeen. Not a good option at this point, not a GOOD option ever.

However, talk and additional pressure are not mutually exclusive. the latter can actually make the former more meaningful.

what a concept.

Posted by: neill at October 31, 2006 05:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> Thing is, Muslims never lose, permanently, ever. Once it's part of the umma, it can never be not a part of it. If Mexico had this same ethic, much of the past 150 years would have involved wars with Mexico.


Perhaps you have momentarily forgotten your Balkan history (if you think this desire for historical greatness is an Islamic trait); perhaps you might go review the argument that modern terrorism was created by Balkan Christians.

By the way, you state that Israel is being bombed from all sides. I think your attention may have momentarily slipped; it was Israel that has just been achieving notoriety for bombing civilians, destroying hundreds of villages, whole stretches of industry, driving large populations into flight and poverty, and leaving only Hezbelloah as the hope of the poor and downtrodden.

Posted by: Frank Williams at October 31, 2006 01:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah yes, Frank, those brutal greeding, blood sucking, hook nosed Jew, I mean Zionists! (Is it not interesting how easily all the old anti-Semetic smears fit so easily into anti-Israeli pattern?)

Frank, if you are really interested in the sort of massacres you falsely accuse the Israelis of, you might turn to the genocide currently be waged in Darfur in the Western Sudan by the noble Arab Govt. in the Sudan against their fellow Moslems who have the misfortune of being African and therefore do not have any rights to exist in the eyes of the Sudanese govt.

Posted by: David All at October 31, 2006 02:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Nobody is talking of elimination by force"

What planet are you referring to Mr. Kooshy?

Nobody but Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran.....

Posted by: NEILL at November 1, 2006 12:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Frank,

I'm a little slow so help me out here.

Where exactly was it that I said that Muslims invented modern terrorism? I think that kudo goes to Macedonians.

I don't think Muslims have invented anything for at least 200 years.

What they have done is take the simple act of terrorism, like the simple act of flying 'invented' by the Wright Brothers, and amplify and streamline it the same way the Uniteds, Americans, Air France, British Airways etc -- combined -- have attempted to perfect flying. But they're not done with this process by any means.

If you're so inclined, I'd appreciate it if you, or anyone out there, would respond to the meat of my comments about the collosal, civilization-ending threat posed by the expanionist nature of 'modern' Islam.

Or is that too controversial?

Posted by: neill at November 1, 2006 02:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Perhaps this silence is due to the trick-or-treat prepensities of BGers,

Or maybe this thread just fails to interest BGers in the central issue of our time,

Or perhaps, BGers would prefer not to confront the expansionist behavioral pattern of modern Islam.

Are BGers genuinely interested in the continued safety of America and its preservation of free expression for its citizens?

Because that free expression is gravely threatened in many parts of Europe at this moment....

Posted by: neill at November 1, 2006 05:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill, there's a Nasrudini story that goes:

A reformer came to the people of a town and told them, "You must avoid evil." For a few weeks he preached to everybody he could find. Then a big group of the townspeople came to him, and their spokesman said, "We have thought over what you have been telilng us."

"Yes? And you have decided to avoid evil?"

"No, we have decided to avoid you."

Or maybe this thread just fails to interest BGers in the central issue of our time,

No, you fail to interest us.

Or perhaps, BGers would prefer not to confront the expansionist behavioral pattern of modern Islam.

No, we're tired of confronting you.

Etc.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 1, 2006 11:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well I don't comment in here much, but I'd like to tell Neill both that he is clearly not stupid and he is quite right that J Thomas' suggestion on Iraq is simply nutty.
So now let us consider the "colossal, civilization-ending threat posed by the expanionist nature of 'modern' Islam."
By modern Islam, I take it you mean the collective body of people on the planet who believe that Allah is God and Mohammad is his Prophet.
Whose central religious leadership...er, doesn't exist. Whose priestly hierarchy, er, also doesn't. Who religiously are fragmented into at least two major groups, which in turn are fragmented into countless admirers of one Imam or another or mullah or another or none. Oh, and whose religious affiliations are cross-cut by matrices of other conflicting loyalties.
Who include various Salafist groups, some of which are affiliated to some extent under the patronage of a group or groups calling themselves al-Qaeda.
One group of which, consisting of I forget how many but certainly under a dozen people, took advantage of American civilian aviation security's complete obliviousness of the possibility to hijack a couple airliners and crash them into some large and symbolic office buildings, killing 3000+ people.
And because they did this, Western civilization is clearly on the brink of being completely destroyed and replaced by a new Caliphate, to be governed by, em, er, the Caliph, who will be, ah, em, maybe the King of Morocco? If he can put the hash pipe down long enough?
Neill, wake up. I know that the fear and hate gives you a nice, logically consistent world view where the vitally necessary actions are unambiguous. (So you should at least empathize with the jihadis.) But as global threats go, "Islam" is pretty pathetic, certainly compared to "Communism." The Salafists are exercising the purely destructive tactics of the humiliated and powerless, who cannot actually make anything. The Iranians, btw, do not love them and vice versa. The President of Iran is a bit of a nutter but he does not rule as an absolute dictator, he is only one of many centers of power in the Iranian government, and as hostile to American interests as most of that power structure may be, there are enough brains there to understand that an Iranian nuke test followed by a nuke going off anywhere in any Western city->their country being turned into a pool of magma and everyone in it dying.
Keep your eye on more immediate matters and forget global grand schemes. Is destabilizing Iran in our best interests? Could we successfully do it even if so? Are there better things we could be doing? What is the most realistic course of action now in Iraq, and with the best (or least bad) likely outcome?
My thoughts would be that actually now the US is doing something close to the best that can be done. Regular US soldiers should be a rarer and rarer sight on Iraqi streets. More and more Iraqi police and soldiers should take their positions; the readiness of Iraqis to join the national police despite their targeting by various insurgents is one of the few truly encouraging signs (and I don't think the economic incentives alone can explain it). Special Forces should lead the Iraqis on counter-insurgency and regular US forces only be called in when heavy weaponry is needed. However this is only a military plan, which I have copied from someone else but don't remember who. I honestly don't know what can be done politically, as the Iraqi parliamentarians seem to mostly be 2nd or 3rd rate hacks only trying to cut the biggest piece of pie for them and their own and not unifying the country. (As for the US 'fixing' the election results, why then did people the US did not particularly like get so many seats? Even the US efforts to shape the resulting government seem to me to have been far from a total success. I think the US probably ended up quite happy that there was a government at all.)
I think that whatever happens, we're going to see a near total pullout in the next couple of years. Certainly if there is a Republican victory in 2008, I expect a near total withdrawal to be put in place during Bush's lame duck period. My guess is that Neill's worst fears will be realized and we will see a civil war that will put the current fighting to shame. Unlike Neill, I don't see a way of avoiding it. If it is some consolation, I suspect Iran will be sucked into a very costly ongoing intervention that will bleed it for years.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 1, 2006 12:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill,
You ask for more response, but you do it with insults and ad hominem attacks and backhanded nastiness -- has it occurred to you that people may ignore partly because you try to interact on such a juvenile level? Perhaps you will engage more successfully if you try to act like an adult, and leave out the nastiness. Let your ideas engage at the level of ideas; don't bother to attack everyone who doesn't think the way you want them to think. See what happens... What downside would there be?

Posted by: Frank Williams at November 1, 2006 01:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is a good point that Iraqis are still joining the Baghdad police -- even at the atrocious rate that police and especially police recruits are being tortured and slaughtered. That sounds an interesting cultural phenomenon.

Anyone with specific knowledge in such areas care to comment on what this reveals about this civil war and the various area ethnic cleansing battles apace?

Posted by: Frank Williams at November 1, 2006 01:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill alleged that Moslims have amplified and streamlined terrrorism...

Another commenter has already tried to simply and clearly point out how silly is the idea that all Moslems are conspiring together -- in Iraq in particular, many of them are engaged in a brutal, nasty civil war at the moment.

As to the proposal that Moslems have amplified terrorism beyond the levels of other religions, I think that is difficult to buy if one remembers a few fairly recent acts of terrorism, or at least of slaughtering efficiently large numbers of civilians and women and children: Israel's devastation in south Lebanon, Israel's ongoing treatment of Palestinian refugee camps as concentration camps, (to jump across some decades) Dresden, and then, perhaps the most famous (or notorious) acts of slaughtering huge numbers of women and children of our age, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What "Moslem" terrorist has achieved such efficient slaughter of civilians?

What "Moslem" terrorist has achieved any such efficient slaughter that even maimed and corrupted the unborn fetuses?

Posted by: Frank Williams at November 1, 2006 01:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tory,

Thanks for you comments. I agree with most of what you wrote.

When I write of 'modern Islam', I'm referring to the political/paramilitary coalition it has presented to the world over the past 30 years to today..and tomorrow. Clearly, there isn't any central leadership per se, but so what? There is no other powerfully destabilizing force in the world to compare with it over the same time period. And the rest of the muslim world is either intimidated, quietly sympathetic, powerlessly moderate, or any combination of the three. They are, and have been, part of the audience. Except for Sadat. And Zwahiri & Co dealt with him.

And hate is not a motivator for what I write. fear is.

"Keep your eye on more immediate matters and forget global grand schemes. Is destabilizing Iran in our best interests? Could we successfully do it even if so? Are there better things we could be doing? "

Al quaeda and Achmedinajad certainly think and plan in terms of the End Game, how can we not?

(Based solely on muslim birth rates and demographics, I think continental and perhaps all of Europe will no longer be an ally of America in 5-10 years. See Mark Steyn)

As to destabilizing Iran, I don't know if it's in our best interests. I know Iran is actively destabilizing Iraq and Lebanon, which is clearly not in our interest. And paying no price whatsoever for its shenanigans. Perhaps if we put a price on it, things will play out differently? Certainly something to consider.

As to sunni/shiite hatred and an assumption that they don't resort to alliances of convenience, I wouldn't bet the mortgage on that.

Posted by: neill at November 1, 2006 03:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AT, I agree that the US is doing close to the best we can do militarily in iraq in the short run.

See, our troops are mostly useless for security. it's easiest to explain this by analogy. Imagine that we had a terrorist problem in this country, and for some sort of complex reason we had the chinese army helping to manage security in NYC. So we get all these chinese soldiers who mostly don't speak english, and they're setting up roadblocks at random times in random locations -- 5th avenue, 42nd street, wherever -- and once you get in line at a roadblock you can expect to spend at least 3 hours there. And anybody who does something suspicious, like approach too fast or try to turn aside and avoid the roadblock, gets shot. And the claim is that these roadblocks are necessary in US cities to inconvenience the terrorists.

And sometimes the chinese drive down the street, and they're concerned that americans (or foreigners) might set off suicide bombs to kill them. So if any civilian vehicle gets within 50 feet (or sometimes 100 feet or 150 feet or 200 feet) of them, they shoot it up. And they drive fast and if they get too close to a civilian vehicle they shoot that one too. Just in case.

How many New Yorkers would think the chinese troops helped their security?

We need to get the US troops entirely off the streets. US troops and US supplies should travel entirely by air. US troops that do not know arabic should have no contact with any iraqis whatsoever. And we're doing better and better at that.

More and more Iraqi police and soldiers should take their positions; the readiness of Iraqis to join the national police despite their targeting by various insurgents is one of the few truly encouraging signs

I'd find that encouraging if we knew whose side they were on. As it is, they might be simply another set of militias that happen to get US training and funding.

Special Forces should lead the Iraqis on counter-insurgency and regular US forces only be called in when heavy weaponry is needed.

Agreed. There has been essentially no need for heavy weaponry so far, with the result that our artillery guys have been getting used as infantry. With a couple of exceptions like Fallujah. Probably we could satisfy the need for heavy weaponry entirely with airstrikes, providing we were supporting an iraqi army that could actually hold its own on the ground.

I honestly don't know what can be done politically, as the Iraqi parliamentarians seem to mostly be 2nd or 3rd rate hacks only trying to cut the biggest piece of pie for them and their own and not unifying the country.

What good is a military victory if you lose politically? Without a political arrangement we can expect $12 billion/month worth of military victories as long as we want to continue, but what good is it?

As for the US 'fixing' the election results, why then did people the US did not particularly like get so many seats?

Because we couldn't make it completely and totally obvious to everybody that the results were fake?

Even the US efforts to shape the resulting government seem to me to have been far from a total success.

Heh. The fact that most iraqis knew we were doing the shaping was enough to make it worthless.

I think that whatever happens, we're going to see a near total pullout in the next couple of years.

Agreed. Staying the course is too obviously a no-brainer.

My guess is that Neill's worst fears will be realized and we will see a civil war that will put the current fighting to shame.

So what's wrong with letting the iraqis try to work things out? Our attempts at divide-and-conquer aren't doing us any good and they aren't doing iraqis any good, why not quit? Give them their chance to work things out together and they just *might* succeed. Is it really in our interest to make sure the civil war gets a whole lot bloodier?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 1, 2006 05:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's my bedtime so I'm not going to write much now, but I want to thank J Thomas and neill for being so gracious to me given that I was more than a little critical of both of them.
I also have to warn neill that Mark Steyn is one of my bete noirs. He's so articulate and sounds so reasonable until you start to think about what he is actually saying. I've likened him to a Grand Dragon with an Oxbridge education. Then again, I know a lot of people think he says unpleasant truths that no one else wants to face. I think he needs to spend some time in heavily Moslem neighborhoods in W European cities. Off the top of my head I have 5 friends scattered in London, Den Haag and Berlin whom he could probably crash with if he did the cleaning up. (One of them actually lives in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood but one with a lot of Moslem tenants. The latter have pushed the former out of the dry cleaning business through the diabolical device of staying open on Saturdays. My grandfather similarly undermined Christian morality in my home town by staying open a half day on Sundays.)

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 1, 2006 10:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, Frank Williams, yes all those Concentration Camps full of poor Palestinians that Zionist Nazis are gassing at will. What utter outrageous slander you spout. Especially given that the refugee camps were designed by the Arab govt to create a permanent refugee weapon to be used against Israel. Unlike all other refugees, including the Jews driven out of Arab countries after Israel's creation, the Palestinian refugees were never allowed to resettle in the countries they fled to, instead they become a people of permanent refugees with the help of the UN.

Posted by: David All at November 1, 2006 10:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Having said the above, I do not agree with Neil regarding the alleged grave menace of Islan & Iran.

Posted by: David All at November 1, 2006 10:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

david,

what exactly and why do you disagree as to what the menace from Islam represents?

tory,

why do you think that european muslin birth rate trends would shift if Mark Steyn spent more time in certain neighborhoods on Saturdays?

neill

Posted by: neill at November 2, 2006 05:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And which direction would they shift?

What are you implying about this guy?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 2, 2006 05:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Posted by: Spooler_Go_18 at November 2, 2006 06:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neil, I am sorry but I do not believe that however crazy he sounds the current President of Iran & his fellow Mad Mullahs are the grave & immenient danger to the West that you think they are. They do not have any atomic bombs yet, and unless they feel like committing suicide, and I do not think they do, they will not use the nukes once they get them, even via a terrorist group. What Iran, the US & now Israel (with it appointment to an unclear Cabinet Post of Lieberman) is now doing is saber rattling or as the detectives on Law & Order would call it, a dick waving contest. What's his name in Iran is waving particularly hard to make up for his current lack of nukes. Khruschav did the same thing in the late 50 & early 60s to compensate for the great American advantage in nuclear weapons.

Posted by: David All at November 3, 2006 10:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Over the course of the next generation or two, i.e. 25 to 50 years, Islam may indeed become dominat in a number of Western European nations through both immigration and gaining converts among the native born. This will not necessary be the militant islam of the terrorists, but it might.

Posted by: David All at November 4, 2006 12:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas: Your analogy comparing how US troops in Iraq behave to the hypothetical Chinese troops in New York City is perfect and thought provoking, thank you.

Posted by: David All at November 4, 2006 12:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'As for the US 'fixing' the election results, why then did people the US did not particularly like get so many seats?'

"Because we couldn't make it completely and totally obvious to everybody that the results were fake?"

I don't follow.

And J, the chinese soldier analogy is instructive to a point.

But they are agents of a totalitarian regime, and would be perceived as such by democratic New Yorkers. whereas coalition soldiers are agents of democracies, trying to foster a representative structure of by and for Iraqis.

Which doesn't mount to hill of beans if you're being shot at. but in general, it is a fundamental difference, especially to former subjects of one of the worst tyrants in history. I wonder how Iraqis would react to Chinese soldiers as opposed to coalition ones?

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 03:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

david,

there is a fundamental difference in my mind between a Krushchev of 50 years ago uninterested in martyrdom, and a messianic Achmedinejad of today, in the wake of 9-11, Iraq and Islamic insurgencies bubbling across the globe, talking destruction of Israel and America. These folks play for keeps, just ask the Israelis, who are now preparing for at least a two-front war with Iran proxies.

remember, europeans said the exact same thing about Hitler in the 30s. how reasonable and charming when you actually meet him. and he wasn't rushing to get a nuke (in the 30's), while talking about wiping Austria off the map.

also, every Christian Iraqi (quite a few here in San Diego) when I ask what they think about arab muslims has the same response, "they're crazy."

walid phares has a terrific overview about the global jihad at counterterrorismblog.org, posted oct 31. i'm too tech-retarded to link to it.

finally, Israel is our ALLY, with all that entails.

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 03:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this is the crux:

a) what is the actual threat to us?

and

b) what is the actual consequence to us of responding by

1)

or 2)


or 3)


of course, as politics is getting as many votes as possible, these central questions will never be addressed outside of an administration....

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 07:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

World News


The Times November 04, 2006
Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek atom technology

THE SPECTRE of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.

way to go you $%^&* holes

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 08:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

------------------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Mideast terror leaders
to U.S.: Vote Democrat
Withdrawal from Iraq would embolden
jihadists to destroy Israel, America
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: November 2, 2006
9:27 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


"This is why American Muslims will support the Democrats, because there is an atmosphere in America that encourages those who want to withdraw from Iraq. It is time that the American people support those who want to take them out of this Iraqi mud," said Jaara, speaking to WND from exile in Ireland, where he was sent as part of an internationally brokered deal that ended the church siege.

Jaara was the chief in Bethlehem of the Brigades, the declared "military wing" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.

Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."

"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."

"We warned the Americans that this will be their end in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "They did not succeed in stealing Iraq's oil, at least not at a level that covers their huge expenses. They did not bring stability. Their agents in the [Iraqi] regime seem to have no chance to survive if the Americans withdraw."

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

The terror leaders spoke as the debate regarding the future of America's war in Iraq has perhaps become the central theme of midterm elections, with most Democrats urging a timetable for withdrawal and Republicans mostly advocating staying the course in Iraq.

President Bush has even said he would send more troops if Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, said they are needed to stabilize the region

The debate became especially poignant following remarks by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 presidential candidate who voted in support of the war in Iraq. Earlier this week he intimated American troops are uneducated, and it is the uneducated who "get stuck in Iraq."

Kerry, under intense pressure from fellow Democrats, now says his remarks were a "botched joke."

Terror leaders reject Nancy Pelosi's comments on Iraqi insurgency

Many Democratic politicians and some from the Republican Party have stated a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency there.

In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, stated, "The jihadists (are) in Iraq. But that doesn't mean we stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there."

Pelosi would become House speaker if the Democrats win the majority of seats in next week's elections.

WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.

Islamic Jihad's Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."

He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works. The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."

Jihad Jaara said an American withdrawal would "mark the beginning of the collapse of this tyrant empire (America)."

"Therefore, a victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than in Vietnam."

Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn from them."

Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."

"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 08:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and as to europe, 5-10 years.....tops. look at france...and holland.

it's over, baby.

done.

Posted by: neill at November 4, 2006 08:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'As for the US 'fixing' the election results, why then did people the US did not particularly like get so many seats?'

"Because we couldn't make it completely and totally obvious to everybody that the results were fake?"

I don't follow.

Well, in the January 1995 election, the party the USA threw its support behind (led by Allawi, our chosen leader) got 14% of the vote and 40 seats. The UIA had 48% of the vote. It's possible that US forces might have reduced the UIA vote from say 56% to 48% while increasing the IL from 4% to 14%. But if they had increased the IL to 30%, say, nobody could have believed it. They couldn't possibly give the IL enough votes to be really significant or the vote would have been a complete farce.

After the election Allawi remained as prime minister while the iraqi assembly argued about how to form a coalition government. When they deadlocked US forces tried to get Allawi to remain as prime minister as a "compromise", but that fell through.

There's no question the US government gave Allawi money and incumbency and astroturf and lots of support of various sorts (which may have hurt him for getting votes). What is in doubt is whether we participated in faking the elction for him. Polling before the election put his party at 3-4%. We probably won't find out what happened unless a later administration releases the records or in 20-40 years old agents publish their memoirs.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 4, 2006 02:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Israel is our ALLY, with all that entails.

Neill, you have mistaken that for a transitive relationship.

Israel is not our ally.

We are Israel's ally.

It doesn't go both ways.

HTH

Posted by: J Thomas at November 4, 2006 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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