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Bloggingheads 11-21-2011 08:42 PM

Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 

Ocean 11-21-2011 10:09 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Yes, I agree with Bob.

What Heather calls "messaging" seems more like manipulation. Setting the table in a particular way, with a particular view, so that any decisions made will have to be made within the pre-established framework is old plain manipulation.

My concern is that Heather doesn't seem to be too invested in making sure that her framing is accurate and that the consequences aren't such that the US will end up cornered without being able to opt out of the worst choices if events don't go well. Heather kept talking about a short term strategy, and not worrying about the long term. But that's not the way it should be. We should be worrying about long term consequences of our actions today. It is that short sighted view that keeps getting us in trouble. Impulsive actions with no exit strategies.

Sadly there were quite some contradictions in Heather's claims. She states that there's an irreversible opinion established about Ahmadinejad as an irrational actor and that can't be changed. Then Bob pointed out that there will be elections soon and Ahmadinejad won't be around for long as he is technically ineligible for the next period. Heather replied that he will pick one of his people. But, even if what Heather said was true (irreversible opinion about Ahmadinejad) a new person would bring the opportunity of changing the "message" about him, and therefore the whole idea of an irrational Iran would be reversible. Her assumptions don't stand.

Once again, Heather's hawkish stance and her unconditional acceptance of political manipulation are disappointing.

Again, I agree with Bob that as long as we continue to demonize those whom we don't like, we continue to set ourselves up for continued violent conflict. Using some caution would be a good idea for a change.

voice_of_sanity 11-21-2011 11:09 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
This is excellent stuff - What Bob is actually saying is that, in his books, Republicans presidential candidates are less rational than Ahmadinejad...there is so much to comment on here, but this point takes the cake.

thouartgob 11-21-2011 11:23 PM

Bob Wright's envy seeps through
 
Heather begins the diavlog by telling Bob about her new office and Bob is reserved in his response.

Bob's real thoughts on the subject

Parallax 11-21-2011 11:46 PM

Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
I am 7 minutes in and Bob is saying that it is not clear to him that Iran having a bomb is a catastrophe because he doubts that the irrational Iran theory is quite right. If he holds that view here are a number of points Bob should address (he might have already in the rest of the diavlog, I don't know):

1. Iran's ideological posture is not the same as Soviet Union in 1970 - 1990. The onus is on Bob to show that the difference can be ignored with relatively little cost.

2. If Iran has the bomb any major country in the middle east will want the bomb too. That includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt for the starters. Now these countries having the bomb will trigger another number of states to pursue the bomb. This will be a disaster in terms of limiting the number of nuclear warheads around the world.

3. Lets assume the Iranian government is sane enough not to use the bomb. Look at Pakistan, how much problem does its nuclear arsenal pose to US interests? And that is a country with heavy US military & intelligence presence that provide additional safeguards. In Iran none of that exists, the bomb could get stolen by a terrorist group (unrelated to Iranian government) or the radicals may actually come in power via an IRGC coup.

4. What contingency plans should US and EU countries undertake in the event of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel? What is the right response? Nuke Tehran? If you are prepared to live with a nuclear Iran you should have a plausible answer to this question.

apple 11-21-2011 11:50 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
So Bob is saying that we have to say that Iran is "rational", because to do otherwise might lead "inexorably" to war. If seeing Iran for what it truly is can lead to war, let's close our eyes instead.

Also, Bob says that Saddam's killing of the Kurds is not genocide, because he believed that the Kurds were a threat to his power. So this genocide doesn't 'count'. Well, that's a relief. But does the Nazi genocide against the Jews, even though Hitler believed that the Jews were a threat to Germany, and the world?

"Once they get you to think of them as evil and crazy". Sorry, Bob, there is no great conspiracy to make you think of Iranian leaders as evil and crazy. They are.

"No case of suicidal insanity in Iran." Wrong. Even a "pragmatist" like Rafsanjani has said that a nuclear attack on Israel would be a great thing, since it would completely annihilate Israel, while destroying only part of the Islamic world. Not to mention the statements by Khomeini and Ahmadinejad that Israel should be wiped off the map.

chamblee54 11-22-2011 12:20 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by voice_of_sanity (Post 232411)
This is excellent stuff - What Bob is actually saying is that, in his books, Republicans presidential candidates are less rational than Ahmadinejad...there is so much to comment on here, but this point takes the cake.

Please, someone bring the cake in out of the rain.
I imagine if Michele Bachman were to be translated into Farsi, she would sound about as crazy as she does in English.
Ahamdinejad does not have that much power, and he may be gone soon. If only he wasn't so darn sexy.

chamblee54

Simon Willard 11-22-2011 12:24 AM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 232413)
2. If Iran has the bomb any major country in the middle east will want the bomb too. That includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt for the starters. Now these countries having the bomb will trigger another number of states to pursue the bomb. This will be a disaster in terms of limiting the number of nuclear warheads around the world.

We must continue working to make it difficult for neighboring countries to obtain the bomb. If Iran eventually succeeds, guess what? They will help us in that effort.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 232413)
3. Look at Pakistan, how much problem does its nuclear arsenal pose to US interests?

It's hard to quantify. Somehow, the nukes did not deter the US from violating Pakistan's sovereignty to take out bin Laden.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 232413)
4. What contingency plans should US and EU countries undertake in the event of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel? What is the right response? Nuke Tehran? If you are prepared to live with a nuclear Iran you should have a plausible answer to this question.

I'm guessing that such a strike against Israel would cause the US to take down the Iranian government with conventional weapons, strip the country of any independent sovereignty for a decade, set up an external administration through NATO, and divert large amounts of oil revenue to pay for this administration and compensate Israel for damage.

Parallax 11-22-2011 12:32 AM

Bob Repeats His Disgusting Position over Kurdish Genocide
 
Definition of Genocide according to my dictionary is:

Quote:

the deliberate killing of a large group of people, esp. those of a particular ethnic group or nation.
Bob says that Saddam killing the Kurds is not a genocide because he actually thought they were a threat. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Hitler didn't perceive Jews as a threat to Germany? This is extremely ironic on several levels since for all his talk of internationalism Bob ignores the UN definition of genocide which is basically the same as the definition I gave above. And so he engages in the kind of activity he accuses neocons of: it was a genocide but if we tell the truth then the odds of attack go up and so we should not. You can easily construct the right wing version of this argument.

I sincerely hope Bob loses some sponsorship over this.

PS: the argument of human rights is not to appease the neocons, Bob. The argument for a robust push for human rights is that it will undermine the totalitarian regimes. Imagine you are an Iranian, you see US says Iran can't have nuclear weapons or you see US says Iranian regime should not violate human rights. Which one would deepen the divide between the state and its people? Which one would put the regime in a fundamentally weak position from the beginning?

Monkey Corp 11-22-2011 12:46 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Great discussion. My comment is that Mr Wright argues that Iran is rational so it is no big deal if they get a nuke. I think this may be missing the point slightly. The problem with Iran getting nukes is not that they will launch a suicidal strike on New York. Rather, the problem is that it will allow them much greater strategic/tactical room. For example, with nukes they could invade a neighbor and threaten Western European cities with a nuclear strike if the US interfered. The US would be able to retaliate against an Iranian city but could they risk Berlin, or Rome, to stop Iran controlling Syria or Lebanon or some other place. Iran wouldn't strike the US or even a vital US interest such as Saudi Arabia or Israel, but they might use the cover of nukes to begin establishing a sphere of influence. Hence the rush to build a missile defense capability for Europe.

Simon Willard 11-22-2011 12:57 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Monkey Corp (Post 232419)
... Rather, the problem is that it will allow them much greater strategic/tactical room. For example, with nukes they could invade a neighbor and threaten Western European cities with a nuclear strike if the US interfered. The US would be able to retaliate against an Iranian city but could they risk Berlin, or Rome, to stop Iran controlling Syria or Lebanon or some other place. Iran wouldn't strike the US or even a vital US interest such as Saudi Arabia or Israel, but they might use the cover of nukes to begin establishing a sphere of influence.

I'm not buying this "cover of nukes" argument. You simply ignore the nukes. That is, you assume they won't be used. It's the beauty of MAD. I don't see how Iran with nukes prevents the US from blocking Iranian "invasion" of another country.

Monkey Corp 11-22-2011 01:58 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 232420)
I'm not buying this "cover of nukes" argument. You simply ignore the nukes. That is, you assume they won't be used. It's the beauty of MAD. I don't see how Iran with nukes prevents the US from blocking Iranian "invasion" of another country.

MAD is only relevant for deterring surprise all-out nuclear attacks on homelands. But in an extended deterrence situation, nukes just add another level to the violence able to be threatened in order to "buy" a certain objective. There may well be an objective that the Iranians will value far higher than the US does. In that situation, the Iranians could credibly threaten to escalate beyond the price the US is prepared to pay for whatever objective is at stake.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 02:01 AM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
I toss a few opinions on to this list.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 232413)

1. Iran's ideological posture is not the same as Soviet Union in 1970 - 1990. The onus is on Bob to show that the difference can be ignored with relatively little cost.

The USSR was far more of a threat than Iran, It had enough nuclear forces to rival the US for decades and had conventional forces that could keep the US busy in proxy wars for decades as well and controlled vast chunks of the earth's globe. Iran is a fraction of the threat. What ever terrorist threat they pose is approximately what it is today. MAD takes care of any overt military adventures.
Quote:

2. If Iran has the bomb any major country in the middle east will want the bomb too. That includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt for the starters. Now these countries having the bomb will trigger another number of states to pursue the bomb. This will be a disaster in terms of limiting the number of nuclear warheads around the world.
I think you need to think about how expensive it is to create a whole new nuclear weapons infrastructure. It's easier, cheaper and safer to make alliances with the US or some other power. An Iran with the bomb would only push anybody really frightened of them towards us or at least away from Iran. Iran would be even more isolated than before.
Quote:

3. Lets assume the Iranian government is sane enough not to use the bomb. Look at Pakistan, how much problem does its nuclear arsenal pose to US interests? And that is a country with heavy US military & intelligence presence that provide additional safeguards. In Iran none of that exists, the bomb could get stolen by a terrorist group (unrelated to Iranian government) or the radicals may actually come in power via an IRGC coup.
Proliferation is still a problem for sure but so far manageable.
Quote:

4. What contingency plans should US and EU countries undertake in the event of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel? What is the right response? Nuke Tehran? If you are prepared to live with a nuclear Iran you should have a plausible answer to this question.
With at least 100 nuclear devices Israel can hold it's own with everybody in the area even without us. It's a simple MAD situation ( simple not easy ) with Iran being isolated, proud maybe, but isolated.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 02:13 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Monkey Corp (Post 232421)
MAD is only relevant for deterring surprise all-out nuclear attacks on homelands. But in an extended deterrence situation

The US does not face an existential threat so that is different but that isn't a problem is it. What do you mean by extended deterrence situation? The USSR and the US had quite an extended deterrence situation.

Quote:

There may well be an objective that the Iranians will value far higher than the US does. In that situation, the Iranians could credibly threaten to escalate beyond the price the US is prepared to pay for whatever objective is at stake.
What objective does Iran have that is worth Iran's demise?

Wonderment 11-22-2011 02:36 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232409)
Sadly there were quite some contradictions in Heather's claims.

Yes, I think the major contradiction, however, was the idea that intensification of the conflict will magically defuse tensions. Sanctions, threats and ultimatums will be hard work (according to this magical thinking), but the payoff will somehow be peace.

Heather's conflation of human rights, counter-terrorism and anti-nuclear proliferation into a bouquet of sanctions and pressure on Iran is a) obfuscation and b) counter-productive.

There are three separate issues:

1) Democratization and human rights should concern us no more or less in Iran than they do in Saudi Arabia.

2) Support for terrorism is only a function of already seeing Israel, the USA and the West in general as enemies and Hizballah and Hamas as friends. To the extent that the Palestinian issues are resolved, Iranian support for terrorism declines.

3) The nuke issue will be resolved only through regional and international disarmament; i.e, Israel coming clean and joining the NPT regime and the rest of the nuclear powers complying with NPT by making progress toward disarmament.

Isolating and demonizing Iran (whose leaders already feel like they have bullseyes on their backs) is foolish escalation. It won't tamp down neo-con aggression (ba-ba-bomb Iran) and it certainly won't deter Israel. It only serves to increase paranoia, fuel hatred and eventually provoke more violence.

The road to peace is through diplomacy. What ever happened to Obama sitting down with Ahmadinejad and talking? What ever happened to restoration of diplomatic relations?

Let's not get intoxicated again with Axis of Evil/Hitler/anti-Semite/existential threat to Israel b.s.

Bottom line: Israel can live with a nuclear-armed Iran, and so can the USA. But if we're smart and peace-loving, it will never come to that.

Monkey Corp 11-22-2011 02:39 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232423)
The US does not face an existential threat so that is different but that isn't a problem is it. What do you mean by extended deterrence situation? The USSR and the US had quite an extended deterrence situation.

By extended deterrence I mean deterring attacks or other moves that aren't directly threatening US soil.

What objective does Iran have that is worth Iran's demise?

Ok, for example, say the Iranian nuclear missiles were able to hit Berlin. They could declare that if the US interferes with their invasion of say (a newly democratic) Syria, then the Iranians will nuke Berlin. The US says if you do that we will nuke Tehran and Mashhad. The Iranians declare an evacuation of those cities and continue with invasion and tell the US that they are prepared to pay that price. Is the US prepared to "pay" Berlin to defend Syria? Probably not. The Iranians will have deterred US involvement.

Put it this way. Just because the US has more nukes doesn't mean it can deter, or even win conflicts. What matters in extended deterrence situations is the price each player is prepared to pay. The US had conventional and nuclear superiority in Korea and Vietnam but was not prepared to use it even to avoid defeat. North Korea and North Vietnam won those conflicts without nukes because they were prepared to pay a higher price for victory than the US was. The US had the capability to pay more than them but was not willing to because the territory did not warrant it. The US will have the capability to always pay more than the Iranians, but they may not be willing to. An Iranian nuke allows them to "bid" higher, and perhaps bid higher than the US is prepared to.

Sulla the Dictator 11-22-2011 03:29 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232423)
What objective does Iran have that is worth Iran's demise?

Nuclear weapons are only part of a strategic equation. The factor that was assumed historically but now is obviously lacking is the will to use them. I can't think of any scenario in which the Western left would support action against a nuclear Iran, conventional or otherwise, when it is assumed that the Iranians have the will to use their weapon.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 03:31 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Monkey Corp (Post 232425)
Ok, for example, say the Iranian nuclear missiles were able to hit Berlin. They could declare that if the US interferes with their invasion of say (a newly democratic) Syria, then the Iranians will nuke Berlin. The US says if you do that we will nuke Tehran and Mashhad. The Iranians declare an evacuation of those cities and continue with invasion and tell the US that they are prepared to pay that price. Is the US prepared to "pay" Berlin to defend Syria? Probably not. The Iranians will have deterred US involvement.

Iran threatening NATO and evacuating cities ... for Syria ( democratic or otherwise ) ... not real likely. Couldn't Berlin evacuate as well ... never mind. I understand the point that at some future date when Iran has developed a credible nuclear threat ( enough weapons and tested one or 2 of them ) and able to deploy missiles ( enough of them and can reliable do the job ) but what time frames are we talking here. None of this Iranian build up takes place in a vacuum. It would take years Iran to get to that point while the US and allies would have plenty of resources used to derail and de-fang Iran's ability to project any type of power like that. All kinds of anti-missile defenses could surround Iran, espionage, who knows.


Quote:

Put it this way. Just because the US has more nukes doesn't mean it can deter, or even win conflicts. What matters in extended deterrence situations is the price each player is prepared to pay. The US had conventional and nuclear superiority in Korea and Vietnam but was not prepared to use it even to avoid defeat. North Korea and North Vietnam won those conflicts without nukes because they were prepared to pay a higher price for victory than the US was. The US had the capability to pay more than them but was not willing to because the territory did not warrant it. The US will have the capability to always pay more than the Iranians, but they may not be willing to. An Iranian nuke allows them to "bid" higher, and perhaps bid higher than the US is prepared to.
We didn't win because these were proxy wars with the vast might of a USSR or a China. Iran isn't anybody's proxy. They will have to go it alone trying to somehow invade another country while under sanctions at keeping other countries at bay including the US ? I just don't see Iran having that kind of capability.

ledocs 11-22-2011 03:32 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
So we learn that American foreign policy actors often threaten war in order to avoid war. But sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a false and a true threat to go to war, as it must be, if the false threat is to have its desired effect of dissuasion.

So the question then arises, how are we to understand the most bellicose rhetoric of Iranian actors? Robert did not address this point, but the assumption of rationality on the part of the Iranians probably extends to an assumption of a certain kind of symmetry in rhetoric: the Iranians probably employ bluster, just in the way that we do, e.g. against Israel. The Iranian purpose in using such rhetoric may be different from our own, i.e. it may be for domestic political purposes rather than to frighten Israel, although some in Israel do appear to be genuinely frightened. The question is not, of course, whether Iran might attack Israel if Israel did not have a very credible retaliatory threat, because Israel does have a very credible retaliatory threat. So, as Bob says, those urging a preemptive attack against Iran will tend to assume that Iran would not be subject to the normal logic of deterrence, given that there is widespread agreement that there is a large risk of very negative consequences for the US and the world generally if Iran is bombed.

Sulla the Dictator 11-22-2011 03:34 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 232420)
I'm not buying this "cover of nukes" argument. You simply ignore the nukes. That is, you assume they won't be used. It's the beauty of MAD. I don't see how Iran with nukes prevents the US from blocking Iranian "invasion" of another country.

But that isn't how MAD worked. The Soviets were the ones who said they wouldn't nuclear weapons first, back in the 1970s I believe, because they believed they had the numerical superiority to win a land war in Europe in a short period of time. NATO refused to take nuclear weapons in response to conventional attack off the table, because it didn't have to. Nuclear weapons were the deterrent to Communist aggression, not simply for response to first strike.

The Iranians could easily do the same thing. They could send four divisions into southern Iraq and say that any Western intervention in the Iranian sphere would be met with nuclear response. Then what?

thouartgob 11-22-2011 03:49 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 232428)
Nuclear weapons are only part of a strategic equation. The factor that was assumed historically but now is obviously lacking is the will to use them. I can't think of any scenario in which the Western left would support action against a nuclear Iran, conventional or otherwise, when it is assumed that the Iranians have the will to use their weapon.

I could see doing something about Iran invading Saudi Arabia for instance. Even with a complete nut job in charge of nukes in Iran. Again where are the insane geniuses in Iran that can ramp up such attacks in the first place. You can say that you believe somebody will gain the trust/fear of the enough of the military and civilian population of Iran to attack nearby states with conventional weapons, while at the same time, be crazy enough to get into a showdown against other countries with nuclear and conventional weapons that would decimate his ( or her ) country. That doesn't mean that saying it will conjure up this mad genius.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 03:57 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 232431)
The Iranians could easily do the same thing. They could send four divisions into southern Iraq and say that any Western intervention in the Iranian sphere would be met with nuclear response. Then what?

Forgetting about the point about why they would invade Iraq, who are they going to attack with nuclear weapons ? Berlin ? Washington DC ??

kezboard 11-22-2011 11:01 AM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

They could declare that if the US interferes with their invasion of say (a newly democratic) Syria, then the Iranians will nuke Berlin. The US says if you do that we will nuke Tehran and Mashhad. The Iranians declare an evacuation of those cities and continue with invasion and tell the US that they are prepared to pay that price. Is the US prepared to "pay" Berlin to defend Syria? Probably not.
I try to stay as far away from hypotheticals like this as possible, but we're supposed to spot you the evacuation of a city of over eight million, more than twice the size of Berlin? You really think the residents of Tehran and the Iranian people would be OK with this whole scheme any more than those of Berlin and the people of US and Europe would be?

I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a Bad Thing if Iran got nukes, but the idea that the worst things that could happen because of this involve tussling over Berlin, of all cities, make me think that someone forgot what decade they're in.

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 12:41 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 232416)
We must continue working to make it difficult for neighboring countries to obtain the bomb. If Iran eventually succeeds, guess what? They will help us in that effort.

I was trying to stay an observer but this is too comical to resist. That's like saying it's OK for the So Cal mob to arm their cadres with automatic cannons and tanks because they 'll help the cops prevent LA street gangs from getting them. Methinks too many of the folks here read Howard Zinn every night for bedtime stories.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 01:21 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle (Post 232450)
I was trying to stay an observer but this is too comical to resist. That's like saying it's OK for the So Cal mob to arm their cadres with automatic cannons and tanks because they 'll help the cops prevent LA street gangs from getting them.

I don't know exactly where the So Cal mob does it's business if it isn't in Southern California but I would say if a large criminal gang had tanks there would be plenty of support in this country for an overwhelming response by the police. Similarly if Iran got the bomb and became problematic for the rest of the states in the region why would you believe it wouldn't push such states to remove the nuclear threat by making treaties with far more powerful actors in the region and world.
Quote:

Methinks too many of the folks here read Howard Zinn every night for bedtime stories.
Along with Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag I'm sure. Geez Simon who knew you had it such a lefty streak. Fooled me and other I'd imagine. :)

seethruit 11-22-2011 01:37 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Agree with Bob. Agree with Ocean. But I'd add that Heather's short term strategy is badly flawed as well. First, painting Iran as an irrational actor doesn't just validate military intevention in the long run, it also makes any current negotiation efforts look futile and naive. Second, war posturing, far from dissuading Iran from a possible nuclear weapons program, is just as likely to convince Iran that it needs to speed up a nuclear weapons program as a matter of self-defense.

I think the Bob's overarching comment about the vulnerability of human rationalization is the most compelling argument in this diavlog. Most public discourse, views of "elites", media, and many fellow Bloggingheads are infected by the assumptions that our motives are pure and honest while our opponents are not. While there are countless of examples of opponents with truly impure and dishonest motives, the sad truth is that most of the time, these opponents BELIEVE that their motives are pure and honest while their adversary's are not. Inevitably, conflict escalates and opportunity for peaceful resolution fades.

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 01:42 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232451)
I don't know exactly where the So Cal mob does it's business if it isn't in Southern California but I would say if a large criminal gang had tanks there would be plenty of support in this country for an overwhelming response by the police. Similarly if Iran got the bomb and became problematic for the rest of the states in the region why would you believe it wouldn't push such states to remove the nuclear threat by making treaties with far more powerful actors in the region and world.

I guess you mean with the Once Powerful Great Satan and the Still Powerful Little Satan? The answer is that for the former we no longer represent a credible deterrent threat to any of our enemies in the region. For the latter the chances for any such regime to remain in power and their leaders alive will be significantly diminished.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 01:49 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle (Post 232454)
I guess you mean with the Once Powerful Great Satan and the Still Powerful Little Satan? The answer is that for the former we no longer represent a credible deterrent threat to any of our enemies in the region. For the latter the chances for any such regime to remain in power and their leaders alive will be significantly diminished.

The satan you know vs the satan that you don't ;) I think we can rely on the middle east states to understand that we have interests in the region that we are willing to fight for if our interests are under enough of a threat.

As for sunni regimes not wanting to do deals with evil america instead of being invaded by some maniacal shia dictator. I think they can live with it as opposed to dying the other way.

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 01:49 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seethruit (Post 232452)
Agree with Bob. Agree with Ocean. But I'd add that Heather's short term strategy is badly flawed as well. First, painting Iran as an irrational actor doesn't just validate military intevention in the long run, it also makes any current negotiation efforts look futile and naive. Second, war posturing, far from dissuading Iran from a possible nuclear weapons program, is just as likely to convince Iran that it needs to speed up a nuclear weapons program as a matter of self-defense.

Against who? Do you really believe they are worried that Israel or the US will attack them if they don't have nukes?

Quote:

I think the Bob's overarching comment about the vulnerability of human rationalization is the most compelling argument in this diavlog. Most public discourse, views of "elites", media, and many fellow Bloggingheads are infected by the assumptions that our motives are pure and honest while our opponents are not. While there are countless of examples of opponents with truly impure and dishonest motives, the sad truth is that most of the time, these opponents BELIEVE that their motives are pure and honest while their adversary's are not. Inevitably, conflict escalates and opportunity for peaceful resolution fades.
It's a naive argument. There is a difference between attempting to use violence to rid the ME of "filthy Jews" no matter how many of your own citizens must die in the effort and defending one's citizens from rocket attacks from across one's borders. Or is that too subtle a distinction?

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 02:01 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232455)
The satan you know vs the satan that you don't ;) I think we can rely on the middle east states to understand that we have interests in the region that we are willing to fight for if our interests are under enough of a threat.

Said as we pull out of Iraq leaving it to Iran to do what it wishes, settle old scores, place Shia mullahs in the regional drivers seat and become the undisputed power in the region - and as several Arab Springers turn Islamic because we turned against their more moderate secular leaders.

Quote:

As for sunni regimes not wanting to do deals with evil america instead of being invaded by some maniacal shia dictator. I think they can live with it as opposed to dying the other way.
Maybe. But they do have political rivals and political rivals in Arab states do prefer violence to politics - especially if Iran provides training, weapons, safe havens, etc. I'd say there's a chance they do a deal with the obvious strong horse to preserve their necks and their regimes - kind of like Lebanon.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 02:21 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle (Post 232457)
Said as we pull out of Iraq leaving it to Iran to do what it wishes, settle old scores, place Shias in the regional drivers seat and become the undisputed power in the region - and as several Arab Springers turn Islamic because we turned against their more moderate secular leaders.

Under what circumstances does US do nothing about Iran invading Saudia Arabia or something similar ?

So meddling in the affairs of countries in the region by fighting against the Arab Springers is a sign of strength and as useful exercise in diplomacy ?? These things do not happen in a vacuum. There are divides everywhere in the power structures in the middle east and they all are not pushing in the same direction. To try and forestall this Iranian Caliphate by subverting sovereign states and attacking those that we can't subvert doesn't seem like a reasonable proposal.

Quote:


Maybe. But they do have political rivals and political rivals in Arab states do prefer violence to politics - especially if Iran provides training, weapons, safe havens, etc. I'd say there's a chance they do a deal with the obvious strong horse to preserve their necks and their regimes - kind of like Lebanon.
There are chances and there are probabilities. I think we need to focus a bit more on what is likely to happen as opposed to what could possibly happen if nobody anywhere on our side of the ledger did nothing what so ever about an ascendant Iran lead by some Crazed Mullah Person.

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 02:52 PM

Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232458)
There are chances and there are probabilities. I think we need to focus a bit more on what is likely to happen as opposed to what could possibly happen if nobody anywhere on our side of the ledger did nothing what so ever about an ascendant Iran lead by some Crazed Mullah Person.

and from downthread . .
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I think we can rely on the middle east states to understand that we have interests in the region that we are willing to fight for if our interests are under enough of a threat.
or . .
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Under what circumstances does US do nothing about Iran invading Saudia Arabia or something similar ?
So then you're for "meddling in the affairs of countries in the region by fighting against" their interests . . . as "a sign of strength and as useful exercise in diplomacy" - if it supports your argument that we should just let Iran get it's damned bomb? http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/images/icons/icon6.gif

Wonderment 11-22-2011 03:14 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Against who? Do you really believe they are worried that Israel or the US will attack them if they don't have nukes?
Israel has attacked the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq (none of whom had nukes). The USA has attacked way too many nations to list, none of whom had nukes, most recently the Muslim country of Libya.

On the contrary, what countries have the USA and Israel attacked who DO have nukes? Answer: none.

Ray in Seattle 11-22-2011 03:43 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232461)
Israel has attacked the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq (none of whom had nukes). The USA has attacked way too many nations to list, none of whom had nukes, most recently the Muslim country of Libya.

On the contrary, what countries have the USA and Israel attacked who DO have nukes? Answer: none.

Since none of those Muslim countries have ever had nukes - then that hardly serves as a test of your thesis. OTOH Israel's attacks against those countries was, in every instance, a response to aggression, i.e. defensive attacks to prevent further aggression.

The simplest deduction to make is that since each of those states has an oft-repeated and acted upon explicitly stated goal of eliminating Jews from the ME - that if any of those states become nuke-armed they will feel much freer to attack Israel, attack Israel's oil platforms and shipping, Israel's access to the the Straits of Tiran or the Red Sea, or sponsor terrorists groups to do it for them, etc. with little interference from anyone.

I quit the discussion last week because I was a bit dumbfounded to find myself arguing with people who actually believe that Israel is the aggressor in the Arab / Israeli conflict. It either shows an extreme form of ignorance about an issue - or more likely, the incredible power of identity beliefs to make one blind to even the most clearly grounded facts of an issue. In either case arguing about such things borders on silly.

Added: Here's an article I just ran across that you might find interesting.

What is the Progressive Case for Israel?

Sulla the Dictator 11-22-2011 05:42 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232432)
I could see doing something about Iran invading Saudi Arabia for instance. Even with a complete nut job in charge of nukes in Iran. Again where are the insane geniuses in Iran that can ramp up such attacks in the first place. You can say that you believe somebody will gain the trust/fear of the enough of the military and civilian population of Iran to attack nearby states with conventional weapons, while at the same time, be crazy enough to get into a showdown against other countries with nuclear and conventional weapons that would decimate his ( or her ) country. That doesn't mean that saying it will conjure up this mad genius.

What is crazy about it? It is calculated strategic brinksmanship. That isn't crazy, that's realpolitik. India and Pakistan seem to do it once a decade. Also, I'm surprised you consider any of it crazy in the first place. Syria deployed troops in Lebanon to shore up its puppet regime there. Middle Eastern states are almost fetishistic in their views of local regional positioning. Iraq is a much greater prize than Lebanon, and both Saudi Arabia and Iran have an interest in meddling for security interests. If the Saudis, and a non-Alawite run Syria, manage to gain an edge in Iraq, why wouldn't the Iranians deploy troops under the guise of "protecting the Shia"? Then what?

You have Iranian troops facing off against Saudi National Guard at the border and a nuclear Iran. Considering the strategic gain the Iranians would have achieved with this maneuver, why wouldn't the Iranians declare that any Western intervention would be met with the launch of nuclear weapons against targets of Iran's choosing?

Sulla the Dictator 11-22-2011 05:44 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232433)
Forgetting about the point about why they would invade Iraq, who are they going to attack with nuclear weapons ? Berlin ? Washington DC ??

The Saudi oil fields. Tel Aviv. Ankara. Istanbul. Rome. The Suez. An American carrier group? Any of these are world changing targets.

chamblee54 11-22-2011 05:49 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232461)

On the contrary, what countries have the USA and Israel attacked who DO have nukes? Answer: none.

Pakistan.
chamblee54

thouartgob 11-22-2011 08:10 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 232465)
...why wouldn't the Iranians declare that any Western intervention would be met with the launch of nuclear weapons against targets of Iran's choosing?

Because I believe that no Iranian regime wants to be destroyed, call me a fool. Attacking Saudi Arabia is effectively an act of war. If we don't already have an agreement with them for such a contingency I believe it will happen very soon either before or after Iran confirms they have a nuclear weapon. I'm sure we had plans to go "toe to toe with the Rooskies", still do I would wager.

The stuff about different regime's jockeying for position in the mean time before Iran gets the bomb is true enough and true enough there will some more real politicking going on after as well. So lots of moving parts, can't exactly predict what is going to happen, welcome to NOW. You are saying that we would fold like a house of cards and deterrence would be meaningless, I disagree.

thouartgob 11-22-2011 08:15 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 232466)
The Saudi oil fields. Tel Aviv. Ankara. Istanbul. Rome. The Suez. An American carrier group? Any of these are world changing targets.

So why would anybody in the region choose Iran over us ? Because we aren't staying in Iraq or leaving Afghanistan in a year ?? That means we will do nothing if Iran threatens our stated national interest. That's is not brinkmanship that is madness.

Sulla the Dictator 11-22-2011 08:19 PM

Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232472)
Because I believe that no Iranian regime wants to be destroyed, call me a fool. Attacking Saudi Arabia is effectively an act of war. If we don't already have an agreement with them for such a contingency I believe it will happen very soon either before or after Iran confirms they have a nuclear weapon. I'm sure we had plans to go "toe to toe with the Rooskies", still do I would wager.

The point is that the Iranians don't think they would be destroyed, and again, I'm not talking about an open invasion of Saudi Arabia. I'm talking about Iran establishing an actual military foothold in Iraq and threatening Saudi Arabia. You assume that unlike now, the political class would have all kinds of will to fight a nuclear Iran. Why? Look at all these sturm and drang about confronting the conventional version. We can't even get a proper sanctions regime in place. It is laughable.

Quote:

The stuff about different regime's jockeying for position in the mean time before Iran gets the bomb is true enough and true enough there will some more real politicking going on after as well. So lots of moving parts, can't exactly predict what is going to happen, welcome to NOW. You are saying that we would fold like a house of cards and deterrence would be meaningless, I disagree.
Of course we would. We're folding now, before they have the bomb. We can't get the Russians and the Chinese to deal with it now. They'll wave that bomb around and the technocrats will weigh the costs and the argument will be, "Well, why wouldn't the Iranians be trustworthy managers of another 10% of the world's oil supply? After all, the 14 hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia."

And that argument will be made on this board. It will probably be made in the diavlogs. Fear permeates the foreign policy of all modern elites.


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