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March 27, 2006

Comments

Let's see, an argument here seems to be that Bush blundered in Iraq, ergo we are more or less helpless in dealing with Iran going nuclear. So, if you accept that Bush did in fact "blunder" in Iraq, you assume that this automatically disqualifies him for Iran. The undisclosed premise: Bush cannot learn from his "mistakes" and the U.S. is now too weak for Iran. Is this an exercise in Bush-bashing, defeatism and bring=back=the=Dems, or is it a logically coherent argument?

The Danes, by the way, are under far greater pressure from World Islam than the U.S. is from Iran, but their Prime Minister is still on his feet. ('The Dane That Roared,' at gringoman.com)

The undisclosed premise: Bush cannot learn from his "mistakes" and the U.S. is now too weak for Iran. Is this an exercise in Bush-bashing, defeatism and bring=back=the=Dems, or is it a logically coherent argument?

Personally, I don't think that Iraq is an imminent danger, but assuming it is, do you see Bush being able to convince Congress and the populace that we need to undertake another poorly planned invasion?
How much thought has been put into the consequences of taking military action on Iran? If it's anywhere near the same amount of planning as went into Iraq and Afghanistan (woo-hoo, let's democratically elect some people then sentence Christians to death!), then I'd say leave it up to a COMPETENT future administration.
Until then, we should resist the pressures of AIPAC and try to gather some REAL intelligence.

I agree with KC. Military intervention in Iran may be required. However, if that's the case, it's far too dangerous to allow a bunch of proven incompetents as the Bush Administration execute it. So, either this issue has to wait for another 3 years until a (hopefully) competent successor is found to clean up Bush's mess, or we need to impeach the entire GOP out of the executive branch, which I don't think is possible. Thanks to those of you who have supported Bush and the Iraq war in the past, here is where we find ourselves.

If you agree that "military intervention in Iran may be required," then waiting at least three years before trying to stop Iran is a good way to ensure that America fails in that effort. How odd it is that the left points to North Korea's acquisition of nuclear weapons as an example of a case in which it is already too late, ignoring how quickly North Korea acquired its nuclear capability (on Clinton's watch), and then the left assumes that it will take Iran much longer than North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. Why would it?

The direct consequence of deciding, as you have, that the current president and Administration are hopelessly "incompetent" (rather than than they did the right thing in Iraq but that war is inherently difficult) is that you've tied yourself in knots and can't support effective and prompt action against Iran while there is still time to stop Iran. Thus, we return to my original premise that one of the awful legacies of the left ultimately may be that it has undermined American and world support for decisive action to stop Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons until it is too late. You have certainly proven that the left itself is afraid or unwilling to take prompt, decisive action against Iran. You are so convinced that the current White House is "incompetent" that you are willing to wait and hope that nothing bad happens for at least three more years, rather than supporting the immediate and decisive action against Iran that even you reluctantly admit "may be" needed right now.

That is not a gamble that America should take.

Do Democrats believe that disenchantment with Bush means enchantment with Democrats? I get the sense that some of them think that Americans are even impressed with Mother Sheehan whose son escaped her twice, volunteering for the military twice, going to Iraq twice. Do they really think---while claiming how they "support the troops"---that Americans can't see who most dislikes the military, even despises it, and will even keep recruiters off campus unless the military becomes more openly homosexualized? Do they get this at all, when they remind us that Team Bush--just like Team Roosevelt--has made mistakes and when they take these often dopey polls about the electorate's "feelings" du jour?

If you agree that "military intervention in Iran may be required," then waiting at least three years before trying to stop Iran is a good way to ensure that America fails in that effort.

Perhaps. But the absolute best way to ensure that America fails in that effort is to give the go-ahead to the team that brought us Iraq and Katrina. Sorry, but I put the best odds of success on waiting until Bush has gone. Not the best scenario, but it's what we've got.

the left assumes that it will take Iran much longer than North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. Why would it?

I don't know that Iran would take longer than N. Korea. However, unfortunately, I'm afraid we have to cross our fingers and hope that they don't get a bomb in the next 3 years. Because attacking now with BushCo in the lead would be a complete disaster.

they did the right thing in Iraq but that war is inherently difficult

The idea that war is inherently difficult is a recent discovery by those running our war in Iraq, who once described it as a cake walk. The fact that they botched up the occupation horribly has been commented on by many, many, many experts, even from within the military.

you've tied yourself in knots and can't support effective and prompt action against Iran while there is still time to stop Iran

Gina, you act like you know that Iran will certainly have a bomb before we can get someone competent in office to confront them. In fact, you have no certainty regarding that. None of us does. Sure, there's your "one expert" that says they've got the bomb now. But realistically, they don't. If they did, we'd know.

What we do know is that BushCo is uniquely incapable at handling something such as an invasion of Iran. So I think it's prudent to avoid certain disaster, while hoping that uncertain disaster does not occur.

Thus, we return to my original premise that one of the awful legacies of the left ultimately may be that it has undermined American and world support for decisive action to stop Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons until it is too late.

This is an intellectually bankrupt opinion, one that has been already swatted down a few times on this page. The overshadowing reason why American and world support are against an Iran invasion is entirely due to Bush's Iraq disaster. Trying to blame this on the out-of-power democrats is without a doubt the must absurd claim on this page.

You are so convinced that the current White House is "incompetent"

Yes, I'm with a growing majority of Americans who are able to see a group's performance and call them as I see them. Gina, if you weren't so determined to see Bush as doing a good job, you'd be able to see this too.

You have zero credibility. You were wrong about Iraq. You are wrong about Iran.

Your sense of entitlement is what causes other nations to despise you.

You don't have the right to police the world, and the more you try, the more enemies you will create.

Gina,

I read the two links you provided. The Guardian article is interesting, but I frankly find the JP article hard to believe. I agree with the commenter above: if Iran already had weapons they would have let us know. Once they have the weapons they no longer have to tolerate our neocon warmongering.

The JP story said the Iranians have cruise missles that can reach Europe. If that's true, why do you think the Europeans are content to address Iran through the UN? Shouldn't they be more concerned than us? But they're not. That means either the Europeans are suicidal fools, or maybe not everything we hear about Iran in the press is true.

Something you might consider is that when the powers that be are ready to go to war, propaganda will be rampant. It was around for Iraq War I (false rape stories on the floor of Congress), Iraq War II (smoking gun == mushroom cloud, 12 words, etc.), and, a reasonably skeptical person would assume, now, before Iran War I.

Personally I think this administration is exaggerating the Iranian threat to justify an invasion. I believe they are crazy enough to do this despite the fact that our military is already fully committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If we're lucky all they'll do is bankrupt us.

Gina.

I don't understand why you keep arguing about a mute point. Bush will not attack Iran period. His credibility is in tatters, his approval ratings in Iraq are so low that Nixon would feel sorry for him, and he is about to become a lame-duck President facing a Democratic Congress out for his blood.

I however do look forward in some future year, to read one of your articles pointing out how the Bush Administration DESTROYED our best chance to get rid of the WMD's in Iran while the problem was still relatively manegable because W in his "wisdom" attacked the wrong country.

I know that some of the commenters here are firmly set in their views, but for the benefit of objective observers, I'll reply to some of the comments just raised.

1. I disagree with the premise that the Administration did something wrong about Iraq. The fact that Saddam Hussein was regularly attacking a democratic American ally, Israel, by paying $25,000 to the family of each homicide bomber, alone justified the action that America took. Hussein was also known to be regularly torturing and murdering thousands of his own people, including innocent men, women and children. The lesson drawn from the Holocaust was that "never again" would such an atrocity be permitted. To add to that, we learned on September 11th that unexpected dangers can gather silently and can wipe out thousands of people without any significant prior warning. We also learned that the September 11th attack was planned and orchestrated from a tyrannical Middle Eastern state, Afghanistan, suggesting a potential solution of attempting to establish democratic, non-tyrannical governments in the Middle East. Bush proceeded within the range of reason and ethics under the circumstances. While weapons of mass destruction were not found, there was a lengthy lead-up to the Iraq war and it would have been surprising if Saddam Hussein had left such weapons in place given the time he had to prepare. Nobody, including commenters here, have ruled out the possibility that WMDs were transferred to another state such as Syria.

It was indeed relatively easy to remove Saddam Hussein from power, just as military planners predicted. What is difficult is establishing a lasting democracy and a strong local military in Iraq, but that goal is proceeding on track. Who says that America should already be finished with the process of establishing a permanent, self-defending democracy in Iraq by now? If such demands are being made, by what yardstick are they being made? To serve what agenda?

We are achieving our goal in Iraq. The loss of life and injuries to America's soldiers, while sad, is (a) a reflection on the brutality of the enemy, which should only strengthen rather than weaken our determination to prevail, and (b) small in comparison to the losses suffered in World War II and other wars.

2. As if it had anything to do with Iran, someone attempts to blame the Bush administration for Hurricane Katrina. The federal response to Hurricane Katrina was on the scene within days. The federal government does not have God-like powers to halt every hurricane, to evacuate every city over the objections of its mayors, or to put food, water, and money instantly into the hands of everyone in a hurricane zone the day after the disaster. If you expect such God-like powers from your government, you will be forever disappointed, even under whichever Democrat you imagine will bring back a Clintonesque utopia to America in the future.

3. Two have argued that "if Iran already had weapons they would have let us know." Huh? That's an assumption in search of evidence to back it up.

Nations that only want to flex muscles may announce their plans in advance, but nations that are determined to inflict the maximum number of casualties on innocent civilians do not announce their plans before they strike.

Iran has already told us repeatedly that it seeks the death of America and Israel (for starters). If Iran announces its specific war plans, that "announcement" will come in the form of a mushroom cloud followed by the deaths of tens of thousands or perhaps even millions of innocent men, women and children, including surprised Democrats who were still expecting to receive an advance courtesy memo from Iran.

4. At least one has argued that if the Europeans are content to address Iran through the UN, either they are "suicidal fools, or maybe not everything we hear about Iran in the press is true." Both are partially true. Not everything you hear in the press is true -- count on it. And as for Europeans, some of them are indeed foolish and suicidal when it comes to matters of their own national defense. Most have yet to suffer their own 9/11-style wake-up call. Some leading European countries, such as France, are not exactly known for successful track records in providing for their own national defense. Plan your national defense around theirs, and you will have none.

5. In an age in which instant destruction of major cities and large portions of their populations is increasingly within reach of Iran and other terrorists and rogue states, having no defense to nuclear proliferation is not an acceptable option.

Waiting for your favorite president to be in office and hoping that a nuclear weapons strike does not occur in the meantime is also not an accpetable option unless you are, to borrow the words of the commenter, either a little bit foolish or a little bit suicidal.

It may seem unthinkable for a nuclear weapons strike to wipe out large portions of the major city nearest to you, but in the real world previously "unthinkable" things happen all the time.

How good are your powers of prediction? Did you predict the beheading of Nick Berg before it happened, or that you would have the option to hear his screams of anguish on the internet if you so chose? No, you did not.

Did you predict that four planes filled with innocent men, women and children would be hijacked and flown into two major office towers, America's Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field?

No, you didn't predict that either.

Did you predict the fall of the Berlin Wall? No.

Did you predict the collapse of the Soviet Union? No.

Did you predict that a man would attempt to detonate explosives in his shoes while flying on a plane filled with innocent passengers? Nope; you missed that one too. It was unthinkable until it happened.

Did you predict that America would survive four and half years after September 11th without another major successful strike from Al Qaeda? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

And now you grow complacent, so confident in your powers of prediction that you assume you have the luxury of waiting for some future president to magically eliminate the threat from Iran and all other threats that gather before our eyes. You assume that no harm will come if you while away the months and years deliberately attacking and undermining America's commander in chief and the entire administration while they struggle in good faith with the threat to your own safety posed by Islamic terrorists.

You assume that there is nothing that our current president can do sucessfully to stop unpleasant consequences from genuine enemies abroad, but that all threats will wait for the time of your choosing and the next administration will eliminate all threats without firing a shot.

While some of you engage in highly unrealistic impeachment fantasies, Iran's president has far more lethal and immediately attainable nuclear fantasies of his own. Iran is working rapidly and on a daily basis to enrich sufficient uranium to make those nuclear visions a reality -- your reality.

Gina:

Yes, there is a threat from nuclear weapons.

It's a threat if Iran gets them; it's a threat that Pakistan got them; it's a threat that Israel got them; it's a threat that anyone has them, including us.

Just because we have not used them, just because it has not been in our interest to do so, does not mean they have not had any effect, that they have not emboldened our conventional war policy, have not increased our arrogance, do not pose a risk to other nations in the future.

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world came close to suffering nuclear war. We all know why, right - because the reckless Soviet leader threatened us by putting missiles in a neighboring country. Now, how do you defend the fact that we already had nuclear missiles targetted at the USSR in their neighbor, Turkey, and that we refused to remove them in the negotiations, preferring nuclear war in our negotiating position? (We had the good sense to secretly agree to remove them in the future, sort of.) That was an example where our having nuclear weapons was a threat, too.

We've committed in a treaty to reduce our nuclear weapons to zero, and we've ignored the treaty, while holding others accountable for their part of it.

Anyway, let's get to the main point:

Iran with nukes is a threat.

So, to prevent that threat, will you agree to the responsible approach to doing so:

Put yourself in Iran's shoes for a moment, and realize that you are being quite unfair; the only position you will accept is one in which the US has all the power, and other nations exist at our sufferance, our whim, under our thumb. You would not put it that way, but it's the real result of your position.

From Iran's point of view, ever since oil became a critical substance to the world, they suffered, first from England, who exploited their oil for England's profit, determined to manipulate Iran's government and society as needed to do so.

In 1953, when a populist was finally voted into power who planned to reduce the exploitation, we violated their democratic system by organizing the removal of the leader and replacing him with the Shah under our control - and the Shah dutifully gave us oil on good terms and used the brutal secret police force we set up for him against his people. How would you feel as an Iranian about that 25 year history at the hands of the US - a far more real threat than any we in the US claim from Iran.

Following that, it was our policy in the 80's to support the war between Saddam and Iran, which kept them both weaker, at huge cost to the Iranians.

We supplied Saddam with WMD. Saddam used WMD on Iran.

The US and UN did nothing to stop Saddam.

This, reasonably, convinced Iran they could not rely on the 'good' intentions of the US, could not rely on international law, to protect them.

Only a nuke could.

The irresponsible, dishonest, aggressive war against Iraq only further proved the threat we pose to them.

So, what to do?

Since it is a threat for Iran to get a nuke, here's what we do - and I ask if you will agree.

We acknowledge our history in interfering in Iran's internal affairs. We officialy apologize. And we give real guarantees not to interfere in the future.

In fact, we offer to protect them from illegal, aggressive war of the sort that we protected Kuwait from with Saddam.

Then, we can insist they not have a nuke.

Will you agree to that plan?

Craig, while you have an interesting world view, you are surely aware that Iran would not accept your proposal, nor would it make America safer.

I do not accept your premise that America is "arrogant" nor that it is a nuclear menace in any way comparable to Iran.

Let's compare Iran and America if you wish.

America is a democratic nation with freedom of speech. Iran is not.

America does not censor Iranian media, films, and music. Iran does censor American media, film and music.

America does not hang political dissidents and homosexuals. Iran does.

America has not executed nearly 10,000 of its own people for "crimes" such as "acts incompatible with chastity," promoting disapproved religious sects, being female and swimming at home in a bathing suit, protesting censorship, or "unknown revolutionary offenses," whatever that means. Iran has.

America's Congress does not chant "Death to Iran," even when discussing Iran's nuclear threat. Iran's legislature DOES chant "Death to America" when it votes to advance Iran's nuclear program.

Which country is truly arrogant, and which is a genuine menace to the civilized world?

If you can't figure out which is which, something is seriously wrong.

Gina,

Thanks for the chat. I do not agree with your worldview, and if our complete disaster in Iraq is not enough to convince you that preemptive invasions are a bad idea, then nothing will.

I sincerely hope you do not get your wish of a preemptive strike against Iran. That is bad for the people of Iran, the US and the rest of the world. We'll be paying for Bush's foolish Iraq war for the rest of our lives, politically and financially -- we hardly need another.

But thanks for the links to the news articles. And may I suggest that you change the format of your blog? This comment window is too small, and the comments themselves too narrow and long.

So Gina's answer to Craig's question is simply: Ignore previous history, and continue the policy of imperialistic (come on, Gina, do you not acknowledge the obvious financial objectives of ours and Britain's policies?) intervention, even though nobody in Iran's "theater" of the world seems to be that concerned?

When I say we've heard it all before, you do know to what I'm referring, right?
Stop blaming the "left" for Bush's continual bumbling policies on everything from Katrina to Iraq.

"mother sheehan whose son escaped her twice"? That is too ugly for words. So you're trying to imply that Cindy's son didn't love her? As a mom, Gina, I am sure you know that is the deepest cut you could make. Whether you agree or disagree with Cindy Sheehan, how is that sort of ugliness called for? Do you think that it is Christian to impugn a son's love her his mother in order to inflict pain upon her?

Thanks for your comments Colin.

Sophie, if you'll review this comment thread you will notice that I did not make the remark about Sheehan that you are quoting. You are confusing me with some other commenter. Perhaps you were in a hurry with your outrage, but the result was an unfair attack on me. Before you attack anyone, please take time to check that your factual assumptions are correct. I know that sometimes when I take time to carefully fact-check my own work before publishing it, I realize that one of my factual assumptions is mistaken. As a result, a few of my posts died before they ever saw the light of day. I'm sure it works that way for anyone who makes an effort to be accurate.

Gina, I say this not to insult, but as an objective description of your position: you have an utterly irrational view of the US-Iran relations.

To clarify, I'm not saying that the few facts you mention about Iran in criticizing them are wrong. What I mean is that you demonstrate an utter lack of ability to put them into any sort of context - rather, you are seeing only one sliver ofthe picture, and allowing that sliver to justify the option of war.

The arrogance I described is clear in your post, in which you list the bad things Iran has done, which are fine for criticizing Iran, not for going to war with them.

You act as though the US is the ruler of the world and as long as it can fault a country, it's ok to attack them with the most powerful military weapons on Earth.

If that's not arrogance, what is?

You simply ignore the facts that don't support your side. When you are told that the blame for America's loss of credibility in the world is the result of Bush's justifying an aggressive war based on false reasons he used as pretense, and not the left, you simply ignore the statement.

For you the issue appears to be terribly oversimplified, you squeeze every square foreign policy issue into the round paradigm you know, one in which the US is fighting evil, and always justified in doing so - the concept of the US being overly aggressive, being in the wrong, simply does not exist for you (and many on the right). For example, millions of Vietnamese people killed are invisible behinjd the ideological banner of 'we were trying to protect the world'. Poof, millions of bodies vanish as 'justified'.

Now, there's some argument to be made about the pros and cons of the Vietnam war in the context of global power. But I've yet to see anyone on the right make them reasonably, take real responsibility for the millions killed, and that's the point, they have an utterly irresponsible view of war; many care next to nothing about non-Americans killed, except those killed by someone else who we can use for justifying war.

You fail to show any concept of the principle of respecting other nations' boundaries, even if they're 'bad nations', in working less warlike ways to improve things for others rather than assuming it's our right to shoot anyone we deem a 'bad guy', and even with that dubious practice, for us to so often do a lousy job of naming the bad guys, often finding that our own financial and power interests are the reasons we use to determine who the bad guys are.

Pinochet in Chile? Contras in Nicaragua? The attempted coup in Venezuela? Among many others - these are examples of us being against democracy, for oppression.

Of course, we're often on the 'right' side too - for example, North Korea really is a regime worth opposing for the harm to the people.

Iran is a regime worth opposing, too, but not the way you want. You don't realize how many problems you cause with simplistic
military attacks.

Let's get back to the question I asked, whether you would support my suggestion to acknowledge and apologize for our wrongs against Iran in the past, and guarantee their security, in exchange for forcing them to give up the pursuit of a nuclear weapon, by removing the need they can all too well justify from the past aggressions.

You answered, "...you are surely aware that Iran would not accept your proposal, nor would it make America safer."

In short, you did not answer the question. Looking at what you did say, first, given that you are advocating a military strike against Iran, how can you argue that their not wanting to accept the plan is a reason not to pursue it, as if they'd 'accept' your plan and agree to be bombed?

I understand they might not accept my plan - but my plan is a lot fairer than yours to them, and if we agree that we're going to dictate terms to them anyway in saying they can't have a nuclear weapon, they're going to prefer mine quite a bit to yours, because it's the difference between a plan which addresses their reasonable desire not to be invaded whic his driving their desire for the nuke in the first place. And, you might be surprised, they might agree to it. If you actually listened to what they say, which I don't see you do apart from the things you can use to justify attacking them over, as I laid out in my previous post they have a very reasonable case for feeling threatened by the US, which we could fix. Thanks to views like yours, they're all too justified in thinking the US will not stop its wrongs.

Again, it'd be nice if you could put yourself in their shoes for a moment and see the way you can only see the threat they pose to you, and not the threat your nation poses to them - can you imagine that US history from 1953 to 1979 would not have had presidents and congresses, but rather a brutal dictator supporting the exploit of our nation for the benefit of Iran? And THEN for Iran to say they'd done nothing wrong and you are not deserving of protection? Of course you can't.

It's easy to find excuses for war - most countries do wrong you can point at. Justification for war, as opposed to excuses, is another thing.

Iran has many faults and has done many wrongs; you have a list you posted. They are a corrupt, oppressive regime in many ways.

Yet, they did not kill millions of Vietnamese or support Contra terrorists; we did that and much more. Our regime has its own billions of corruption.

There are lists on different sides which could be used as excuses for war, but it takes arrogance to see them as justification.

You completely dodged the question I asked you. I asked if you can support a plan which denies Iran a nuclear weapon AND takes responsibility for our wrongs and gives them the assurance we'll stop giving them a reason to need a nuclear weapon, by promising not to invade them and to give them security from aggression, in exchange for our forcing them not to have a nuclear weapon, up to and including our using force to disable their program?

Why wouldn't you support that? The only defense is one in which you claim the right to deny them any security from a history of proven aggression from various sources, including England, the US and Iraq.

Your other comment was that my plan would not make America safer. How would denying them a nuclear weapon under my plan not make America safer?

Your comment made no sense, you're contradicting yourself in arguing that it's imperative for our security to deny them a nuke, and yet there's no value to denying them a nuke and giving them assurances against aggressive war against them too. Of course it protects us: the same way your plan does, by denying them a nuclear weapon. I won't get into the increased risks your plan has by basically threatening their security and giving them justification for being an enemy.

How many times do you on the right need to start noticing the difference between what you say and reality - for example, how many on the right said that the Sandinistas would never give up power peacefully if they lost an election, as we sent terrorists into their nation - and were then utterly silent when the Sandinistas lost the next election (our terrorism worked) and they peacefully left office?

The moral of that story was that the right was wrong about the Sandinistas, and guilty of terrorism, guilty of complicity with the repressive regime before the Sandinistas but taking no responsibility for it (not to mention the illegal Iran-Contra aspects), and yet somehow the right's version is that the US did something great and morally right. The truth screams out in pain when they speak. Talk about a group who can't be trusted with military resources.

So, you have yet to answer, will you support my plan to deny Iran a nuke, forcefully if needed, while we apologize for our past wrongs against them, and guarantee their security from aggressive war, as the price for our security in denying them a nuke?

That's a reasonable approach which gives both sides what they legitimately need. If, on the other hand, you are really after the right to aggressive war, then you would not want to accept the plan, even while you give Iran the very justification they need for a nuke.

Your stubbornness, if you refuse a plan like this, is the cause of the risk of nuclear disaster, by insisting not on a fair policy, but on dominance.

You would be placing the right of the US to evade responsibility for its past wrongs ahead of the need for security and justice.

My plan would remind the world the US can be a great nation; yours would remind the world the US cannot be trusted under the government of the right wing.

Gina, I do in fact note that, although your name appears immediately above the Sheehan comment, it was in fact authored by another poster whose name appears below. Spare me the patronizing comments about my "outrage". I am not confusing you with another poster, I was confused by the formatting of your comments section. How do you feel about "Dan Cameron Rodhill's" comments about Sheehan? Do you agree that they are wholly inappropriate?

Sophie, the topic of this post is the lethal threat posed by Iran. I'm sure you know that Ms. Sheehan is not just a mother whose son died in Iraq. She is also a bitter critic of the president. If I took a few minutes with Google I could find you many quotes directly from her that are far more harsh than anything anyone has said in this comment thread.

Dan's remark didn't make any mention of her son's death anyway. He simply said that the son "escaped" her twice, and clarified that by following it immediately with "volunteering for the military twice, going to Iraq twice." You've built a vehement attack out of nothing.

Sheehan is off the current topic, so please finish with a polite concluding comment if you must and let's move back to the topic at hand.

I believe many posters have dealt with your specious argument that the left has made it difficult for the US to muster global support to deal with Iran's nuke ambitions. To summarize, Bush's heavy handed preemptive strategy, contempt for human rights, among other things, have made it hard for the US to rally support for this or any other effort. And by the way, the difficulty is not just with rallying global support, it also applies to convincing the majority of americans than a commitment of troops is worthwhile. And while we're on that subject, there aren't any troops to commit, even if we had the public will to do so.

But let me return to your strange defense of Dan. Sheehan is not "just" a mother who lost a son in Iraq, but Dan did not attack other activities, he attacked her relationship with her son. And that it terribly inappropriate, don't you think?
And what do you mean I built a "vehement attack out of nothing"? Are you denying that the import of Dan's statement is that Casey Sheehan did not care for his mother and therefore "escaped" from her? Isn't that the only way the statement can be construed? The fact that he escaped to the military does not in any way detract from the offensive nature of the post. Your a litigator, right? I am sure you see that.

I see you deleted my post. Fair enough, I was out of bounds calling you a "nitwit", for that I apologize. However, don't you think attributing the left's actions to possible nuclear annihilation makes you susceptible to name calling? How can you call for a reasoned debate by starting off the conversation in that manner? How about making a reasoned argument instead of hysterical prose? That would be my suggestion if you really wish to encourage rational debate between the proponents of different ideologies.

Craig,

If the current leadership in Iran were anything other than a brutal Islamic thugocracy, your ideas might have some merit.

When a nation threatens death to another nation repeatedly, including shouting for that nation's death in a formal parliamentary session in which that nation votes to resume building weapons of mass destruction, then no further justification for war is needed. It is not "arrogant" for the nation being threatened with its own destruction to act before that destruction is visited upon it; it is the only rational course and it is the only strategy that ensures the target nation's survival.

"You act as though the US is the ruler of the world and as long as it can fault a country, it's ok to attack them with the most powerful military weapons on Earth."

Please. Again, be reminded that Iran has expressly stated that it is attempting to destroy America. It is actively building the weapons to do so. We learned on September 11th that even a handful of terrorists can visit horrific destruction on America and her innocent men, women, and children.

The left attacked the president for not "connecting the dots" and seeing Al Qaeda's attack coming, and presumably for not stopping it as a result. Now we have an express death threat combined with nuclear weapons development that is right in front of your face, and you want America to apologize?

If the express threats of America's destruction from Iran are not enough, and if Iran's overt recommencement of its nuclear weapons program is not enough for you, then no "excuse" for disarming Iran will ever be enough for you short of the nuclear detonations that are sure to come to America if Iran is not stopped in time.

"When you are told that the blame for America's loss of credibility in the world is the result of Bush's justifying an aggressive war based on false reasons he used as pretense, and not the left, you simply ignore the statement."

I ignore it because it has nothing to do with our safety. All the "credibility" in the world will do America not one whit of good if the European nations are too afraid to act to stop Iran, as they are. I don't want my children to die due to a nuclear attack in my city with lots of "credibility" in France. I want my children to live out their lives in safety and freedom, with or without the admiration of a nation that has done a very poor job of providing for its own national defense.

Your blanket condemnation of America for what you perceive as past aggression would leave us defenseless when it comes to the real and genuine and immediate threat posed by Iran. We are not fighting some decades-old war in South America, and if you are still fighting that war, you are diverting precious energy from the challenge before us.

Are you aware that we've already tried your idea of working "in less warlike ways to improve things" with Iran? The European Union and the U.N. have been using all their "less warlike ways" for years. Where has it gotten us? Iran is busily enriching uranium and thumbing its nose at the U.N. Iran is still threatening to destroy America and is building centrifuges so that it can enrich massive amounts of uranium for that purpose.

"Of course, we're often on the 'right' side too - for example, North Korea really is a regime worth opposing for the harm to the people."

And what do you suggest we do about North Korea, Craig? Talk their ears off? Because there are three options: Empty talk without consequences. Carrots. Sticks.

Clinton tried talk and carrrots with North Korea. We saw where that got America. When exactly are you proposing to use the stick? Ever? Never? With North Korea, it was always too soon -- right until the moment when it was too late. Now America is more vulnerable, as you yourself admit. How do you propose to solve the problem that Clinton's carrot and talk program created? Should we apologize to North Korea too?

"Iran is a regime worth opposing, too, but not the way you want. You don't realize how many problems you cause with simplistic
military attacks."

How do you propose to "oppose" Iran effectively, Craig, but not militarily? With all due respect, Craig, you have this magical view of diplomacy. Put a silver-tongued diplomat in the White House, and you can save the world? Not quite. Why didn't Clinton's silver-tongued diplomacy keep Al Qaeda from attacking the Cole? Why didn't it prevent attacks on America's soldiers? Why did the first World Trade Center attack occur? Why did Osama Bin Ladens start planning the 9/11 attack?

Clinton is usually held up by the left and even by some on the right as a model of the ultimate suave persuader. If even Clinton's powers of persausion couldn't prevent numerous increasingly lethal attacks on America, exactly which god-like person do you expect to pull off the diplomatic miracle with Iran that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and every other American president from the right and left has failed to pull off?

It's easy to say "try other options first." It's also easy to pretend that those options have not already been tried and failed, and that if someone we just say the magic combination of words, the threats from other nations will disappear.

Do magic words solve problems for Iran's dissenters? No. They speak their magic words and then they are hanged anyway from cranes in public.

In America, in a democracy, words sometimes have an impact. In Iran, words get you killed.

What makes you think that Iran will ever show more reason in its treatment of America than it shows to its own people? Iran has already shown any such notion to be foolish by stating that it will destroy America.

"Let's get back to the question I asked, whether you would support my suggestion to acknowledge and apologize for our wrongs against Iran in the past, and guarantee their security, in exchange for forcing them to give up the pursuit of a nuclear weapon, by removing the need they can all too well justify from the past aggressions."

Ridiculous, with all due respect. If apologies meant anything, it is Iran that should apologize for threatening America's destruction and building nuclear weapons to do it. But I don't want Iran's words. I want Iran disarmed.

And since no other power on this earth has the courage or the ability to do it -- not the U.N., not the timid European Union --America and its willing allies must, or we will pay an awful price. Iran has told us so. Ignore that threat at your peril, and ours.

"There are lists on different sides which could be used as excuses for war, but it takes arrogance to see them as justification."

We have not threatened to destroy Iran. We have no problem with the Iranian people. Iran has threatened death to America and is arming itself to achieve that objective.

These are facts, not opinions.

"Your other comment was that my plan would not make America safer. How would denying them a nuclear weapon under my plan not make America safer?"

How exactly would you "deny" Iran a nuclear weapon, Craig? Under your "plan," what would stop Iran from continuing to enrich uranium and acquire cruise missiles?

At some point you either act to disarm Iran or you let Iran finish arming itself with all the nuclear weapons it needs. All your "plan" does is to create a lengthy delay, extract useless promises from Iran that would be observed about as well as North Korea's were, and delay Iran's day of reckoning until it is too late for America's safety.

"My plan would remind the world the US can be a great nation; yours would remind the world the US cannot be trusted under the government of the right wing."

And what will you gain if you "remind the world" of anything, Craig? Do you think France will disarm Iran if push comes to shove? Your plan does nothing but make you feel better about how Europe views America -- right until the nukes fall. Then what? Then will you still care what France thinks? Will France protect you?

You dismiss it as impossible. September 11th was impossible too -- until it happened. You didn't see that one coming, did you?

We can see this one coming. Not only is a nuclear attack on America not impossible, it's on the way if it is not stopped. And groveling before Iran's brutal regime that has already threatened our destruction is not the answer. You could hand-engrave that apology of yours on the finest paper and it would mean not a thing. I won't trust my life to that.

Maybe you are willing to trust your own safety and that of your loved ones to the goodwill of Iran's mullahs, who have already executed 10,000 of their own people and told us that the same is headed our way. I am not.

Gina,

I disagree that Iran is a meaningful threat at this juncture, but I would like to move on from that.

Assuming for purposes of argument that we need to be prepared do something miliarily in Iran, how do you think a war would go? What do you think agression in Iran would do to the unstable situation in Iraq and the rest of the middle east? Could we impose a happy secular democracy in Iran when we remove the Mullah's from power? What do you think North Korea would do while we are tied up in our extended middle east fiasco? And what kind of impact would an Iran war have on our already depleted military ranks? How much would it cost? Would we need to reinstate the draft?

If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that we canot ignore these practical considerations.

Sophie:

You have a right to give "Mother Sheehan" a pass on her theatrics as a star of the peace-at-any-price brigades. I have a right not to, and if you don't mind, I'm very possessive about that right. Over 2000 other American women have lost a child in Iraq. They know what that means. I sense, however, that they also understand the difference between mourning a son or daughter, and dishonoring it by making a political--if not hysterical---spectacle of themselves on the national stage. I choose my words carefully. Other mothers choose not to dishonor and patronize a son by spewing vitriol over what that son or daughter chose to do.(Sheehan, of course, seems too dumb even to realize that she, in effect, is calling her son a "baby" as he allowed himself to be so duped by the "fascist Bush.") She's determined to keep him a baby and deny him his manhood. Unfortunately, many lefties--especially the U.S. type-- don't seem to have a clue to the depths of the emasculation going on here. No wonder the rest of the family sees this dopey, embarrassing woman as a freak, playing on America's sensibilities for a "mother.") If the Left and liberals can't understand this, they may be more out of touch than is generally thought. But Gina feels that Sheehan, as part of the anti-war Left, is too tangential to this thread. She may be right. So I'm ready to give it up. If you want a cartoon that depicts Sheehan as grown-up men who voluntarily risk their lives see her, there's one at gringoman.com---"Mother Sheehan and G.I. Joe." (Warning: it's not for the mommifyers.)

Sophie, your latest comment regarding whether a war with Iran would be practical in certain respects seems cogent and relevant to me.

It's legitimate to ask whether we will need large numbers of troops to win such a war in Iran (I have assumed not but I am willing to be proven wrong by military strategists) and whether democracy could be established (I believe so based on my knowledge of human nature and past experience with other countries that have been freed from tyranny).

I don't have immediate answers for your questions regarding military strategy. I have my own ideas about how the war should be fought, and I have read possible scenarios, but I readily concede that I am not a military expert. I do not believe that a public blog is the proper place to discuss war plans anyway, and therefore I have deliberately avoided publishing Iran war scenarios.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding Iran.

"W" should go straight into Iran as soon as possbile with all the might we have left as a great nation. If we can't take the Persians out just as easily as we're taking out the Arabs what good are we? Well, actually it won't matter since we live in a theocracy and his ultimate plan is to conjure up the Four Horseman quickly, go stright to the Rapture and prove those crazy liberals wrong once and for all.

We live in a theocracy? News to me.

Gina.

Your arguments about an attack in Iran are in fact IMPOSIBE to carry out in practical terms at the present time.

1. We do not have enough intelligence to make an effective attack. Iran's nuclear program is spread all over their country, and is "Hardened".

2. If we attack there is no way to find out the extent of the damage to their nuclear program.

3. If people like you Gina, are not willing to start DEMANDING a draft, tax increases, and other sacrifices from the American people BEFORE any attack then I say YOU HAVE NO credibility.

It's nice to talk in the abstract about the possibility of attacks in Iran, North Korea and other nations. You clearly see (As do I) the consequences of not attacking, but have you considered the other side of the coin?. Do you think that an attack on Iran would happen in a vacum, you think that there would not be a terrible price to pay from 1 billion angry Arabs?.

Let me give you a scenario that can indeed develop after our attack:

1.We Attack targets all over Iran, and fail to stop their nuclear program

2.Iran retaliates with the oil weapon. Oil prices go to 100.00 + a barrel.

3. Western economies goes into a crisis mode.

4. Iran crosses massive amounts of weapons into Iraq, and helps openly their Shiite broders in a revelion aginst the U.S. and the Sunni. Civil war in Iraq starts.

5. Pakistan's government (With plenty of Nuclear Bombs and missiles to deliver them)falls to Islamic extremist.

5. India closes borders, and goes into high alert

6. The west reacts by demanding immediate talks with Iran, Pakistan, India. U.S. is forced into these talks.

7. A real nuclear crisis escalates. China and Russia take sides with Iran. Pakistan and India start incursions in their territories.

etc, etc, etc.

My point is that attacks such as the one you are proposing tend to bring up the old law of unintended consequences, as I am shure you are witnesing today in Iraq. All the domonizing on your part of Saddam's regime to justify the attack does not negate the fact that you, and your ideas shared by Bush have created a MESS that will damage our nation for many years to come. I would have hope that people like you would by now have learned from their ovbios mistakes, but apparently not.

Gina, Gina, Gina.

We have somewhere north of 8,000 nuclear -- actually, mostly THERMO-nuclear -- weapons. Israel has something like 250. Iran has zero, and even in its most ambitious dreams will have a dozen in five years.

Didn't you see The Sum of All Fears? The stuff about the fallout profile was not made up. If terrorists set off a nuclear weapon sourced from Iran in an American city, we'll know where it came from from the radiation footprint.

Regardless of how his techies have blown down his ear, Kim Jong Il knows you don't have nuclear weapons until you have successfully popped one off. The mullahs understand that too. And regardless of how deep they dig the hole, our detectors will sniff the residues and get the footprint.

So if an Iranian bomb goes off in an American city, Iran will be the world's largest glass sculpture. And they well know it.

In fact, I expect that W would nuke 'em on general principles if one went off, even if it were clearly Russian (by far the most likely source for a terrorist core) or we didn't have any idea where it came from.

Kim knows that everything north of about the 40th parallel would be glass in his place, too, so much as he'd like to have 250 million of Osama's dollars, he's not gonna sell him the big hammer. If bin Laden weren't so smart, Kim might try to sell him a dud!

So don't fret your cute little Republican head, honey. Ain't nothing gonna come of Iran's big bomb.

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