Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Iran, the President and the News

According to the Washington Post "U.S. officials say Obama is intent on calibrating his comments to the mood of the hour." I think I understand the American President�s calibration better than I understand this overly-calibrated statement from the Post reporter. I also think those who chastise Obama for not saying enough or doing enough have to make a serious argument regarding exactly what should be said or done before their chastisement has any validity. So far they haven�t done so. That an American President stands on the side of freedom, consent, and justice is true and in saying "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," may be a rather elegant reminder that we stand for the laws of nature. Now we can dispute some of this, pull in some Lincoln, or John Quincy Adams, and so on; but by and large it�s not a bad statement, and his comments might well be called prudent rather than "calibrated." But, again, all this is rather clearly disputable. What is not disputable, as a general point applicable to all cases, is that in giving the American view that we side with freedom and justice over injustice and force, we must not give the impression that we mean to interfere in all such cases. I have never thought, for example, that the Americans should have interfered in the Hungarian Revolution (or the Hungarian-Soviet War) of 1956. American interest was not necessarily involved. And the Suez Crisis, and our interests in that, should also be noted. That the American Congress can pass tough-sounding resolutions makes sense; they can�t act, they are less responsible, so they can say anything. Statesmanship is less in play.

While the above is disputable, the one thing that is not is how bad the news reports from (or on) Iran have been, especially since the "Supreme Leader�s" speech on Friday shutting down the possibility of all reform of the current regime. CNN has been on during most of the day since that speech, and although I have been doing other things I have also paid some attention: CNN knows very little and yet gives the impression that it knows more. The so-called news reports are almost entirely dependent on internet reports, bloggers, amateur video, etc. (almost always anonymous) and then commentary of one kind or another. There is never any confirmation of reports. They keep repeating that their reporters in country are not allowed to report, must stay in their hotels, and are at a great disadvantage. So what? This is a reason to stop doing your job? This is the time to use your in-country contacts, telephones, e-mail, or just sneak out of your room and see something with your own eyes, etc. Is any of this being done? As far as I can tell, Iranian women have more cojones than CNN reporters. Shame on them.

The impression that CNN gives is that the country is in the midst of a revolution, that regime change is just around the corner. I hope this is true, but I doubt it. This turmoil is a good sign, but I have yet to be persuaded that it will succeed. I wish it would. I�m always on the side of freedom.

Discussions - 36 Comments

I find is sad, but predictable, that Obama is not willing, until very recently, to support the anti-relgious-authortarian-pro-democratic movement in Iran.

Realpolitik is back in a big way with the Obama administration.

I have never thought, for example, that the Americans should have interfered in the Hungarian Revolution (or the Hungarian-Soviet War) of 1956. American interest was not necessarily involved.

A surprising comment. What, then, do you think was the American interest, if any, in the war on the Korean peninsula in 1950, or the strife in Indochina from 1954 on?

To JQA: I am not going to go through what I think our interest may have been in Korea, or Vietnam (or Iraq, for that matter). Two small points: First, we always disagree among ourselves what those interests are; natural. My second small point is that such decisions are determined by our interest (as they are perceived at the time) and even though we are (in theory) prepared to live (or die) to make men free, we don't do that all the time; else that is all we would be doing, because most men are not free. The rest of the world is ruled by accident and force, we are not. We govern ourselves by justice, and although we never forget that--and speak accordingly--we act toward the world not simply on the ground of justice.

I agree. But I know nothing more than I knew before the event happened. I am convinced this is a geopolitical energy issue, involving the french(to include francophone ipod listeners) and nuclear power, and some Turkey natural gas cross roads to Europe Energy questions... essentially Ahmadinejad is an idiot because his allies in the Bric in particular Russia stand the most to gain from the collapse of Iranian "peak" oil infrastructure(due to US sanctions, and comments about whiping Israel off the map.)

Lets pretend Goldman Sachs is made up of a bunch of Jews...not smart Ahmadinejad...

Venezuela is happy about the peak oil in Iran...means they can charge more... Brazil and Petrobras is happy with Iranian problems. India doesn't like the radical Islamic message, and even al-Gaddafi in Lybia discovered that to increase oil production he needed to court the west come off the state terrorism sponsor list and get foreign direct investment.

Essentially if you look at why Oil is climbing back up to $70 and towards $140 once more the answer is the disrepair and reduced production capacity of Iran combined with Iran's countinual increasing of energy usage.

Iran is set to become a net importer of Oil in 2010...and 80% of the nations export revenues and 60% of its currency is backed up by Oil.

Oil production fell from 5.5 million barrels a day in 1979 to 3.5 million a day currently and energy usage in Iran has climbed 297% in that time period.

Iran and Ahmadinejad will have to go the way of al-Gaddafi and Lybia(a nation that is increasing oil production and leading Africa after receiving foreign direct investment)

But the support Ahmadinejad is getting from Russia and Venezula is essentially glee that oil prices can continue rising, what is good for Ahmadinejad in foreign affairs is bad for Iran.

Iran will not get more natural gas contracts from Turkey...it will not get Nuclear power from France...and increased oil output will not be ecouraged by Russia or Venezula.

In 2010 when Iran becomes a net importer of oil, the youth will feel themselves like Ali baba starving to death in a cave full of gold...so they will move to france, and the Iranian currency will collapse(dependent in small part upon youth and innovation for the 40% of the total economy that is not oil exports).

But don't take my word for it...read this article from James A Baker III at Rice

Professor Schramm: Thank you for the reply. Disappointed that you declined on the question, but on your small points, well, you're preaching to the choir, virtually quoting from my namesake's sage Fourth of July address. So, Amen. But how do your remarks here square with what I consider the romantic (even swaggering) view of U.S. foreign/military policy in your "Cowboy" essay (observing approvingly the quote on the Secretary of Defense's desk, "Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.")?

In criticizing the romantic view of U.S. foreign or military policy, though, I don't intend to single you out. The entire political establishment since World War II -- liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, "hard," "soft" -- has had it too, acting oblivious of Washington's distinction between "us" and "them" in the Farewell Address, entering eagerly into entangling alliances all around the world, and, at least once a decade, sending legions of U.S. citizens on glorious errands abroad to slay various monsters.

Supposing civic education can affect this situation at all -- can restore some first principles in the determination of the U.S. national interest -- I vote for adding Cervantes to the curriculum, along with the above-cited speeches, the Monroe Doctrine (incl. its reference to the U.S. policy on the Greek-Ottoman struggle), and Albert Borah's speeches in the Senate on the Versailles treaty. And maybe some Sen. Robert Taft too.

To JQA: The name is Peter, by the way, John. I did a quick re-read of that piece just to make sure I didn’t say anything too stupid....’cause I never have, by the way!!:). Well, I don’t see a problem with it at all. A Cowboy doesn’t go into every town to clean it up; in fact he tries to avoid the fight. But, sometimes he can’t avoid it, has no choice, or should not avoid it; in which case he acts the way a cowboy should. I do understand that this essential virtue on behalf of justice and happiness can turn into imprudence in one direction, but you must understand that the virtue of a Taft or Borah can also lead to an imprudence brushed with moral ambiguity and sophistry. While Prudence moves around, it is always connected to both the Happiness and the Security of the people; and he often wears boots for comfort and show.

Peter - Well said!

Happy Fathers' Day.

I really want to believe that this is not CIA destabalization, but there are a lot of the similar things to recent fomer USSR states and their color revolutions. The change candidate declared victory before the polls closed and the protesters had signs in English ready for the western media. I think a lot of the people there are fed up living in a tryanical theocracy and really do want change. That would not mean electing the other candidate though as he was handpicked by the elders. However, he may have a deal with the intelligence community so there might be a conflict between rooting for ideals or getting someone in that will play ball. I can't really say which would be better for us. The big problem is that I don't think the election was stolen, the boogy man actualy campaigned to the coutnry folks about the corruption of the council of experts. I think he has the support of the revolutionary guard as well. I think people who voted for either candidate may want a less strict Islamic state, but this may be lost similar to how our two party system divides and conquers the will of the people.

The "election" was a "choice" between men hand-picked by another man, and that other man has all power, who himself is not elected, and not in any way answerable to the people. Yet you don't think the "election" was "stolen."

Don't you think you've taken a rather broad and expansive read on the meaning of a "stolen" "election." And isn't reviewing the details of this "election" precisely what the "supreme leader" wants you to do? Doesn't he want you to entertain the patently absurd notion that this was in any way a real "election."

IF the "supreme leader" and the "guardian council" has the support of the majority of the people, why the need to rig anything? Why not call in outsider observers who could confirm the popularity of the present regime? Why the need to hand-pick candidates, why the need to make sure the goons are counting the votes, why the need to silence the media, why the need to throw out foreign media, why the need to demonize Western powers? Everything they've done running up to, during and following that election is evidence of a regime that KNOWS how unpopular they are, and how weak they are.

For over two decades the propoganda line from that regime was that they were popular, and to the extent to which tehy might not be popular, any attempt by any outside power to take advantage thereof would redound to their stultification, for the people would rally to the regime in the face of any outside interference. That's the line peddled by the regime. But we've not heard that from the people. If anything, tehy're begging for our help.

Isn't it long past time for our foreign policy to cease being guided by teh decades old talking points of that regime?

It's absolutely amazing to me how many educated Americans are running scared of a third rate thug regime, on its last legs, without any military to speak of, whose only ally is the Syrian satrapy who won't in any way get involved if we make our displeasure known. And that regime has over the last two decades captured, tortured and killed Americans. And we're running scared of 'em. It was one thing to be cautious of the old USSR, with over 300 hundred tank divisions, a battle hardened officer corps, and modern weaponry and a very adept intelligence service. But Iran? We're tip-toeing around Iran like they were China, like they were NAZI Germany or Imperial Japan. Why this deference? A foreign policy establishment that can't properly gauge real power is a sad commentary. And what are we to make of a foreign policy establishment that doesn't know how to make use of its own power? Iran is isolated, Russia and China aren't going to go to their aid. If our foreign policy establishment can't handle Iran now, as weak as it is, as it totters this way and that, how is that very same foreign policy establishment going to make headway against an Iran backed up by 600 nuclear weapons.

The American people rightly want to support the Iranian people, and want to see them cast off the religious chains that weigh them down. But our foreign policy establishment has espoused itself to stasis. Our men fought and bled, killed and were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq to throw the light of Democracy into the Mideast. Now before us we see evidence of a people trying to catch that torch of freedom. And what's our foreign policy establishment want to do? Run and hide until they're crushed, and then presumably it's safe to come out of their undisclosed locations, and then tehy'll once more try to find that diplomatic El Dorado, that mythical deal with the Iranian mullahs whereby they'll come into some kind of rough conformity with the standards and notions of our time.

What's the point of entering the field of international relations if you've lost your nerve?

If we let this chance slip through our fingers we will surely rue the day, and long lament the hour we did so.

I guess it's a good thing then that we didn't follow those conservative (well, especially neocon) pleas to "bomb, bomb, bomb - bomb Iran" (quoting the bad version of the Regents/Beach Boys song, as sung by John McCain), otherwise many of these young people fighting for democracy, freedom, and justice would already have perished.

And what of the flip side Craig? How many people might still be alive had we been allowed to remove that regime? How many people has that regime blown up, tortured, kidnapped and otherwise killed. Where do they figure in on your calculus?

And Craig, your last sentence reveals a want of understanding of what precision munitions enable. As a caricature however of the bombing campaign that has frequently been proposed, it's spot on, I'll grant you that.

You probably shouldn't dive in so boldly on the numeric comparisons. If we got into Iraqi death rates during and after Saddam's regime, you'd lose, and the dividing line is an American invasion based on nonexistent WMDs, or liberating the Iraqi people, depending on the day and who you ask. Plenty of Iraqi civilians have died from accidental strikes from our glorious "precsion munitions" (providing you can get a conservative to admit that they're a civilian and not a terrorist; nuance hasn't been the right's strong point on this issue - apparently Iraq is mostly populated by terrorists!)

A "caricature"?? Please. I hardly think that's necessary, is it, really? Even if we only hit a "large fraction" of the 1500 targets that Muravchik cites, it's impossible to do that without massive numbers of dead and wounded. Also, even if one buys the "precision munitions" premise (and reasonable people should not), if our intelligence can't determine the difference between an empty semi trailer and a WMD program, I wouldn't hold out much hope for Iran's freedom fighters.

In purely technical terms then the election was probably not stolen. In your definitions, which I sort of agree with, our past elections have been stolen as well. A group of wealthy and powerfull elders choose two candidates that are not that different and then watch the populace divide over small issues when in reality there is no significant change at all. I think the inherent problems of democracy may be seen now in Iran. If 51% want a quasi religous tyrant then democracy was served and the revolt, even if it has the idelogical high ground, is not 'democratic.'

If you really believe that bombs only kill terrorists then I just don't know what to say. If the bullet is an idiot then the bomb is a moron. According to most estimates, a million dead Iraqis, how many of those were terrorists? mabye 50k...i really don't know but 50k sounds on the optimistic side. If Iran were to do this alone it would be far better, the best help I think we can give now is moral support because the idea of liberating people from themselves just has no precedent for going well. BTW, a war with Persia would be a much more serious war than Iraq (Sadam fought them for ten years with our weapons).

On the idea of killing people with bombs vs their own regime killing them. The protest suggests that the people are not affraid of the government so while some will end up getting killed ( as has happended) and tortured there is the possibility that it could just embolded others. With bombs coming in and indescrimately killing and maiming I think there is much more of an apathetic feel towards ideas. The difference might be martyrs vs wrong place at wrong time.

(Just to be clear - my last comment is in response to Dan, not Brutus.)

[Good thoughts, btw, Brutus.]

Precision munitions can curtail collateral damage, but not entirely eradicate it. The regime has buried important targets beneath towns and villages, {which enormously complicates the problems confronting any advocate of air strikes}. And you're right to note the problems of accurate intelligence. I've seen half a dozen high level studies on the difficulties of using air strikes to alter Iranian behavior or the regime itself, or take out or degrade their nuclear weapon project. And I've heard Lt. General McInerney elaborate on those problems when discussing whether the IAF could actually pull off air strikes against Tehran's Manhattan Project. So I'm not unfamiliar with the demerits of proposed air action.

But before we consider the value of air action, we have to first decide what it is we're trying to attempt through such air action. Are we trying to take out entirely their Manhattan Project, or are we trying merely to degrade it and purchase additional time for our diplomatic efforts to gain traction. Are we suggesting air action to eliminate the regime, or are we proposing such action to whittle away the numbers and capabilities of those still supporting the regime. Then again, are we proposing air action as a method of helping the people against the regime, while simultaneously sending them a signal of encouragement, and a clear signal that they're not alone.

We have to be careful not to blend and blur different issues into one huge catch-all discussion on the validity of air strikes.

Personally, I've been an advocate of air strikes against Iran for over two decades. I wanted Reagan to hit them early in his first term. And I don't think much of GW allowing that regime to sow trouble for us in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq. So I've advocated air strikes for various purposes over the decades. But if you're discussing air strikes right now, in this situation, then I need to know exactly what you desire air strikes to accomplish. I don't think this is the opportune time to go after their Manhattan Project, {it would be wise to allow the drama to play itself out before entertaining the idea of strikes on their weapons facilities}. As for air strikes against the regime and their supporters, I'm open to that suggestion, because I tend to be dismissive of the value of Presidential utterances in these types of situations. For utterances alone, regardless of content, aren't remotely equal to the opportunities presented.

We remove that regime, we remove the foremost terror sponsor on the face of the Earth; we remove from the chess board the patron of Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria. It doesn't get much bigger than this.

Start bombing and we kill the resistence and embolden the regime. It does not matter what the aims of the air strikes are, they are going to level cities and kill people. If we make this about us, then it fails; it has to be about them and if Iran is to have a chance to become a good place then they Iranians have to have the real power, placing a puppet will fail the way it always does. As for the Manhattan project thing I think our intel estimates were that they were a ways off from even getting an atomic bomb. I don't want to come off like I think it is all make believe, but this nuke stuff really bothers me as it seems to be the trump card that always gets played..."the smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud..." good thing I brushed up on my duck and covering.

The anti spam thing just made me type "nail London," I guess visiting the UK is now out of the question for me.

The Manhattan project is a great story though, a little off topic, I almost did research on the mound chemical part of monsanto in dayton that did the polonium filiments for the atomic bomb I think. It was done mostly in an old school or a house I think hiding right in open sight. I got asked what the point of this was though by a prof, guess it was not gender or race so it was worthless and I gave up on it.

Oh, I forgot this:

"How many people might still be alive had we been allowed to remove that regime?"

Had we been allowed? First, who or what constitutes the "we" of the question? Second, who or what was effectively preventing GWB and Co. from doing it? It's not like opposition from the international community (I know, I know, there's no such thing, at least when that non-entity is opposed to a particular military action by the U.S.) was seen as much of any barrier, and it's not like the Democrats (those (simultaneously) radical, fascist, Communist pacifists that they are!) created much at all in the way of a hurdle. So, that was a very peculiar choice of words on your part, I think.

Are you seriously suggesting that Democrat hysterics and theatrics about Iraq placed no impediment on any proposed action on Iran? Are you forgetting Biden, then Senator from Delaware, telling the President that he was forbidden any action on Iran without first gaining explict authorization from the Senate. But this assumes of course that GW had the stomach for the proposed course of action, which he clearly didn't after the Indian Summer of 2005. I'm not in any way identifying myself with the foreign policy team of George Walker Bush. And anyone who has frequented this blog as often as you have knows, I have been severely critical of their stewardship of our foreign policy, particularly their course of action vis-a-vis Iran. And as for their communicative efforts with the American people and the wider world, ------------- don't even get me started on that.

But that's water under the bridge. Before us exists an opportunity not seen since the fall of the Shah, and the question at bar is what are we going to do about it.

Hysterics and theatrics are hardly the same thing as votes AGAINST military action. The Dems gave Bush the votes, and that's what matters, not the theatrics - which certainly was the best word for you to use.

But again, who is the "we" of your question?

I think though that you are missing something here Dan. It is an opportunity first and foremost for the people of Iran. Looking at it in a purely grand game sort of way is sort of confirming the accusation of meddling....but if you mean by us, humanity, then i agree completely and apologize.

Dan, please tell us again what "precision munitions enable"? The Onion could hardly make more of a mockery of that notion than this BBC report does:

"At least 45 people have died in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in Pakistan, officials there have said.

The people killed in South Waziristan region had been attending a funeral for others killed in a US drone strike earlier on Tuesday."

So precise! So effective! Winning hearts and minds, for sure.

Democrats barely stayed on board for continuing action in Iraq. That's a matter of public record. Moreover, Democrats bragged that their withering criticism of Bush blunted whatever impetus existed to take on Iran. Whenever reports circulated of the role of Iran in bleeding Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, a majority of Democrats did their best to try to marginalize those reports. The only notable exception was Joe Lieberman, who begged former President Bush to bomb Iran, {as he said, at least hit the terror bases therein}. Lieberman as we all know, didn't fare too well in the Democrat Primary. With all the unseemly and irrational criticism that went on, for almost the entirety of former President Bush's second term, to pretend now that the issue was one of votes, and votes alone, and that the years of unrelenting political agitation by Democrats played no role in the decision making process, is a form of argument that borders on bad faith.

We all know that President Bush was worn down by a level of criticism that was positively injurious to American national security. Senator Joe Lieberman remarked as much. Now the Senator shared my opinion that such over the top criticism caused former President Bush to lose whatever appetite he had to grapple with these problems. Former Senator Rick Santorum described it as "the battered president syndrome." But whatever descriptive you prefer, the criticism of the war, and in addition, the venom directed towards him personally, informed policy regarding Iran.

Senator Biden demanded a vote because he wanted to circumscribe the strategic options available for former President Bush. Democrats were the ones who crafted that intelligence report that took an air strike off the table. That report was an exercise in politics. As a factual matter, the report presented a false image of what's been going on in Iran. And Democrats and the media seized on it, and did so to make sure that President Bush could not go after Iran.

What can precision munitions "enable?" Somewhat recent history will prove illustrative. If you recall, back in the day, the Israeli Air Force paid a little visit to Tunis, because they got word of an important terror meeting taking place in an apartment there. The specific place of the meeting was on one of the upper floors of an apartment building, in the middle of Tunis. The IAF wanted to hit the participants, but didn't want to take down the entire apartment building. So via precision munitions, they got the floor of the apartment, they got all the terrorists there, and the building was left standing. So they crossed most of the Med, they showed up at exactly the right time that the meeting was going on and they got the floor where the meeting was taking place. And no other floor, and no one else.

That's text book precision strike.

Now if you go back to my post at #15, and read the first sentence therein, you'll see that I make no guarantee of precision munitions eradicating the possibility of collateral damage. As I mentioned later in that post, I'm quite familiar with the demerits of proposed air operations. As for the funeral you mentioned that was hit, were there terrorists and their fellow travellers present? Most likely. Was taking out those terrorists important enough to justify collateral damage. I don't know, for the simple reason I'm not privy to the intelligence on that particular strike. But I can say I'm not going to credit assurances offered by those present about who was or who was not an "innocent" bystander. I'm surely not going to take such assurances at face value. But that's a single strike op, and whether or not "innocents" were or were not swept up in the damage of that particular strike, I'm not about to go off the plank and suggest that truly innocent civilians have not been killed or harmed in American bombing missions. That's the nature of war. Precision munitions, as I mentioned earlier, dramatically curtail the incedence of such collateral damage, but don't entirely eradicate it.

As for "we," I see no persuasive reason to clarify that for you, so let it drop.

And before we conclude this little discussion, and before you run off on some moralistic binge, I suggest you think long and hard about the decisions made by the Clinton administration, when they had Osama Bin Laden and his entire staff dead to rights, in their crosshairs, and refused to strike, because they were concerned about a collateral damage that did not extend beyond his own family and staff. "Innocents" there meant Bin Laden's family, his groupies and his staff. He was out in the middle of nowherestan, in the middle of a terror camp, and an unrealistic consideration for collateral damage spared his existence. Clinton had him REPEATEDLY in his sights, and let him go, all because he couldn't get him alone.

People who can't make such decisions, and live with the consequences, really have no business seeking high office.

@ Craig:

It has been very entertaining reading your insights into the once lauded (by liberals, when politically expedient) American efforts in the Middle East. Perhaps this explains how a lib could be simultaneously fascist and pacifist: you shift with the political winds. Where were the Democrats when Petraeus called for the surge? Yet Even Senator Reid was doing some saber-rattling in 2002. So why is that while you blabber about the so-called "million dead civilians," I have not heard a word about the schools built, the stores opened, the streets bustling, the freedoms gained, in any of your little quips on Iraq? I would remind you that one could have reasonably supported the Bush administration, who only privileged the WMD factor for declaring war; there were in fact 23 writs of war approved by our Congress including, among all the tattered UN sanctions, the attempted assassination of a United States president by the Baathist regime. As for Iran, more devastating to that hell-on-earth would be a working, democratic oasis in the midst of their realm; that awesomely just threat is now real with Iraq. It isn't surprising that higher-ups in al-Qaeda and other terror networks have been exhorting those of their ilk to provide the highest service of jihad in "the land of the two rivers:" why is it that they, and not we, felt the importance of the contest in Iraq? Well, mostly because folks like you feel some false guilt: not only America is culpable, or subject to the age-old appetites of man. And more often than not, our virtue has shone through, and made us a force for good in this world. Until you, Craig, learn that there is an asymmetry that we of the West are burdened with, one could only expect you to remain half-educated, and to retain a misguided love for some nonexistent noble-savages, as if the unshaven dudes wearing the old Nehru coats were, in any sort of wacked out way, cool. So, go ahead: push conservatives into your favorite false-dichotomy. After all, if we aren't fawning over the bogus notion of self-determination in Iran (which really means 'pick your next master'), we must want to turn the place into a glass factory, right?

Brutus, concur. The opportunity is there first and foremost for the Iranian people. Agreed. But the people are unarmed, and they're taking on a regime of killers, which views them as Kuffr, which in this case means open season on them.

Looming as a backdrop to all of this unrest in Iran is the regime's Manhattan Project. I am willing to put off addressing that project for a brief time, allowing the drama now ongoing to play itself out. So I don't think air strikes on that project would be wise, at least for the present.

If the people are to prevail against that regime, some kind of assistance is going to have to be tendered. Now maybe we can help them through an intermediary, a false flag operation. But however that assistance is offered, if we're going to seize this opportunity that presents itself to us as well as the Iranian people, we're going to have to act, and we're going to have to do more than make sorrowful faces and offer platitudes. Rhetoric alone isn't going to cut it.

Those people are up against it, and they need help.

"Democrats barely stayed on board for continuing action in Iraq. That's a matter of public record."

I'm not sure how that blunts my point. Even if barely, they stayed on board. The war continued. Bush and Co. got their way.

T Haglund - I never used the phase "million dead civilians" (or "blabbered" it), so I don't know why you're quoting me on that. In addition to the silliness of you calling me a fascist (and I think I know where that's coming from - it's a popular absurdity these days), I'm not appreciative of your smarmy arrogance (e.g. "Until you, Craig, learn..."). So I won't waste more finger effort typing in response to you.

@ Craig: I'm sorry, I wrongly ascribed a figure to you that should have gone to Brutus. According to most estimates, a million dead Iraqis, how many of those were terrorists? mabye 50k...i really don't know but 50k sounds on the optimistic side. ...And nobody is calling you a fascist; I would just like to point out where that stereotype comes from, though. It seems to me that a liberal could be simultaneously a hawk and a dove when they are hyper-partisan domestically, and change hats for their just as culpable friends abroad (ie, those who call for a Truth Commission and then drool over European and Middle Eastern lackies). The point about the Democrats jumping ship might be important though. Are we really to believe that Pelosi was unaware of the goings-ons in the Bush administration, and only then decided to leave? Or the more likely scenario that she is simply another opportunist in DC who makes an Orwellian turnabout when things go sour?

Craig, if Democrats could barely bring themselves to stay on board with the ongoing campaign in Iraq, it was clear that any action against Iran, ANY ACTION WHATSOEVER, for Democrats, was simply a non-starter.

When McCain went down to defeat, Democrats congratulated themselves believing that they had staved off "war" with Iran. They saw the victory of Obama as a guarantee that no war with Iran was in the wind. In addition, Democrats bragged about their resistance to any proposed action regarding Iran throughout the Bush tenure. And many Democrats in the Executive branch waged a long and quasi-covert campaign against the duly elected President of the United States, all in an attempt to make sure he took no action against Iran.

The Democrats have nothing to be proud of when it comes to their foreign policy regarding Iran. They stopped Bush cold, and now they've got the mullahs to deal with, and they're clearly out of their depth. And that regime knows it. And so do we all.

I would be interested in reading up on the schools an other stuff if you have some links, I will do a search. I'm sure there is some good and glad to hear from you that is happening. A lot of people lost their lives in the war, those shock and awe stuff we saw from a mile away were not fireworks, although thats how the media played them off. Trying to put my self in the shoes of a person there I think it would be rather troubling to say something like: run for cover, our liberators are bombing us.

For clarity sake: Dan, you are advocating a false flag? I assume you mean dressing our guys up as someone else, you can't mean destroying something of the USA as a pretext to military force. I don't know that it is weapons that will scare off tyrants as much as the implied show of force by masses of people. On the idea of giving weapons to Iran giving untrained people guns probably ends in more deaths of decent human beings that if they were to attack with no weapons. I really think in the back of all tyrants minds must be the fear that one day they will wake up to a mob of the people outside their window waiting to tear them limb from limb.

I would use the Iraqis.

Iran has been doing their level best to destabilize Iraq, and has pitted Iraqi against Iraqi, causing untold suffering. Iran created and armed militias within Iraq, and was behind the attempt to blow up that main mosque several years back.

I think this is a perfect opportunity for Iraqis to destabilize the Iranian regime. Recall that many Iranians have travelled to Kharbala and Najaf for pilgrimage, and the Iraqi religious leadership is quite at odds with the style of governance in Tehran. There have already been reports that religious authorities from Qom, {Iran} have quietly met with religious reps from Iraq, so some backroom maneuvering is already going on. We have to remember that Ayatollah Khomenei represented a change in Shiite thought about the role of Shiite religious in governance. Grand Ayatollah Sistani represents the older and more traditional idea that Ayatollahs have a role in the pulpit, not in a presidency, nor in some "guiding council." We could use that, branding the present regime in Iran as heretical as well as tyrannical.

There are all kinds of cards to play here, and Obama is leaving them unplayed on the table. He hasn't any intention of doing much of anything to help the people.

Brutus, a false flag operation is to be distinguished from an agent provocateur action. I'm not proposing the latter. The Iranians have been killing Americans for years now; which means we don't need any additional "provocation" to move against that regime. I would use Iraqis inside Iran, to help organize and to help with with communication. That would be for starters, but it would rapidly grow beyond that. I would get rid of that regime, and if I had anything to do with it, our war effort after 9/11 would have STARTED with Iran. I thought the best policy was to ask ourselves "who is the foremost sponsor of muslim mayhem on the planet." The answer was Iran, so the war should have commenced with them, regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with the operational details of 9/11.

To be fair, this is a much less destructive war than WWII. I do think it's a different concept though because in WWII at least the nations we were fighting were more or less United and we didn't claim to be the liberators of Germany. Would anyone make that claim though based on a modern interpretation of WWII: we liberated the germans from hitler? We get dirty in War, you have to some times to win. I think we have to keep a close eye on what is happening though considering that this was never a war we could loose in a military sense.

Dan, I will give it to, you are a grand game thinker and what you are saying I think has a lot merit as a plan. It is a little bay of pigsy to me, and I think Iraq is Arab Iran is Persian so they might not blend it quite as well. One question about the false nature of this: who is to be decieved; Iran leaders, Iran people, American people, Democrats (or Republicans), EU, United Nations, ect. A lot of these things we don't hear about, but the nations they occur in discover them quickly and the results are bad.

@ Brutus: I think that is what Socrates meant in the Gorgias when he said that the tyrant is the least powerful person in the city. I fully agree with you on that comment. Much of what I earlier described are stories I'd heard from people I know involved in the conflict; much of the stuff goes unpublished. I do remember seeing several articles recently, and I am sorry but I don't have links. I remember one being from Commentary, another from City Journal...But I am also unsure in all the mayhem who is doing the body-counting and polling. I'm not trying to minimize the faults of this war - not at all. But placed in the historical context of American wars, I think it would be dishonest to say things like "worst war ever," "quagmire," etc. By that logic, then, what was WW2? Or considering the pretext, what was the Mexican War? This might be comparing apples to oranges, but...It just seems rather difficult sometimes with the given one-sided standards placed on the battlefield conduct. Not that we should get ourselves dirty, but what can be done with an enemy who feels the West is an affront to the mufti, the ulema, the imam, and is willing to die to defend them?

I was going to say the same thing. I have believed for a while that the biggest threat to Iran is a democratic Iraq. It is a little bit difficult though, because the homegrown statist version of Islam has done lots -- more than European colonialism -- to set back the region. That is a tradition reaching back, well, centuries. Iraq though I think can show its neighbors that Islam can be successful without an autocratic political scaffolding, or at least a milder version of it.

Brzezinski and Carter would take offense to you calling Islamic Statism only homegrown.

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