I Ran like a Rock?

The future of Iran - as long as war doesn't mess things up!

The title of this post is a musical pun — I ran was a hit from Flock of Seagulls back in the early 80s (I’m listening to it as I type), and “Like a Rock” was a Bob Seger classic from that same era.   Those songs still come into my head when I think about Iran and Iraq.

But the question now seems to be whether the US is nearing war with Iran.    If so, will Iran be like Iraq?  Or should we “run so far away” from even thinking about another military engagement?

Many signs indicate that something is brewing, as Sean at Reflections of a Rational Republican points out.  He notes how Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claims there is a “good chance” that Israel will strike Iran between April and June, and speculates that this could be the start of an Obama administration sales pitch of war with Iran.

Foreign policy “realists” argue that as long as states are “status quo” states — ones that don’t want to alter borders or change the essential nature of the system, diplomacy can be effective and war should be avoided.  If revolutionary states arise to threaten systemic stability, war may be necessary.

They key is to figure out what a state is.   German Fuehrer Adolf Hitler insisted that once the Versailles treaty had been brushed aside Germany would be a status quo state, firmly protecting Europe from Bolshevism.   Britain’s conservatives and their Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gambled that Hitler was telling the truth with their appeasement policy — appease legitimate German interests in order to get them to support the system.   Chamberlain himself thought war likely, but saw that policy as at least buying the British military time to prepare for war.

In any event, Hitler’s Germany was a revolutionary power, bent on changing the system.   However, in the Cold War many Americans thought the Soviet Union a revolutionary power focused on spreading Communism.   Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon bet that it was actually a status quo power wanting to maintain its systemic role, and the policy of detente brought some stability to the system and helped end the Vietnam war.   In this case, Kissinger and Nixon were right, the Soviets were not focused on spreading communism.

Many say Iran is more like Hitler’s Germany, citing anti-Israeli comments and painting Iran’s leaders with the same brush as Islamic extremists.   Others point out that Iran has been rational in its foreign policy since the revolution, and is simply trying to expand its regional influence than bring war to the Mideast.

The reality is probably inbetween, more like Bismarck’s Germany in the 1860s.  Iran believes that although it is situated to be a major player in the region — larger than any other state, situated on the Persian Gulf between China and the Russia — US and Israel have prevented it from playing the regional role its power should allow.   Support for Hezbollah is designed not out of psychopathic antipathy for Israel but to try to blunt Israeli power and send a message to the Arab Sunni states.   Indeed, the Saudis are as scared of Iranian power as are the Israelis.

As with Bismarck’s Germany, nobody wants to see Iran move into a role of being a stronger regional power.    The Saudis and Israelis want regional stability, and the US worries about Iran’s capacity to disrupt Persian gulf oil.  Another US concern is that if Israel were to attack Iran the entire region would be destabilized, with oil prices likely doubling (or worse, depending on how events unfold).   China and Russia are more friendly with Iran, perhaps seeing a partnership with Iran as a counter to what has been western dominance of the region.    Accordingly, China and Russia have been vocal in warning against an attack on Iran, even hinting that they’d be on Iran’s side.

So what’s going on?   First, I think the US wants to avoid a military strike on Iran at all costs.   The rhetoric from Panetta is not the kind of thing we’d say if a strike were planned (you’re going to be attacked, and here’s when the attack is likely).   It is designed to increase pressure on Iran, and perhaps even generate opposition within Israel against an attack.   The Israeli military is not unified in thinking attacking Iran would be a good idea, even if Iran had nuclear weapons.

War in the region would be extremely dangerous and could yield global economic meltdown.   The benefit of stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons is not worth that risk.   Moreover, it’s not clear that a war would be successful.

The US is well positioned to contain Iranian regional power

US policy instead has been to use covert means to slow Iran’s nuclear progress while increasing pressure on Iran by expanding sanctions and boycotts.  The EU has gone alone even more than they would otherwise wish out of a belief that’s the best way to avoid war.   If the sanctions fail, the next step would be to contain Iran by expanding US presence in the region and connection with allies.

Another reason war would be disruptive is the Arab spring.   The last thing the US wants when change is sweeping through the region is another war against an Islamic state.   This would play into the hands of extremists.   Iran can be contained, however, and internal change is likely to come sooner rather than later.   One reason Iran’s leaders might be courting a crisis is to “wag the dog” – create a foreign policy event that  brings the public together through nationalism, thereby undercutting the growing and increasingly powerful Iranian opposition.

Iran's internal opposition is real and powerful - and does not want the US to act against their state.

I think the US government believes that patience, economic pressure, and if necessary containment will ultimately assist internal efforts for change within Iran.

In Iraq the US learned a very important lesson.    One may think a war will be easy, have it planned out, and even achieve military success, only to have the political costs overwhelm any benefit of the victory.   Moreover, the American public is much less tolerant of war now than it was in 2003, shortly after the emotion of the 9-11 attacks.    It would be foolhardy for the US to pick a fight with a larger and much more powerful state than Iraq.   The costs of war could be immense, the benefits uncertain, and the costs of not going to war even if Iran does not back down would be tolerable.

So war with Iran in 2012?   I doubt it.  I think we’re seeing a policy designed to minimize the likelihood of war rather than to prepare for one.

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  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on February 4, 2012 - 17:41

    You hit on some relevant themes Scott. I don’t think any of the concerned parties wants a war and unless there is strong evidence that Iran wants anything other than to assert itself in the region we would be wise to bide our time and allow the internal opposition to effect needed changes there. It’s delicate balance we have to take.

    Let’s just hope that the militaristic right doesn’t get a foothold in the White House following the 2012 election.

  2. #2 by Titfortat on February 4, 2012 - 18:28

    Let’s just hope that the militaristic right doesn’t get a foothold in the White House following the 2012 election(IBW)

    One foot? I think you missed the fact that they jumped in, both feet, a long, long time ago.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on February 4, 2012 - 19:25

      Foreign policy varies little regardless of which party is in power. Since the Cold War Bush I had Iraq and Somalia, Clinton had Bosnia and Kosovo (but neglected Rwanda), Bush II had Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama had Libya so far (not counting the continuing wars). It is very difficult to find an argument that the US truly benefited from any of these; you could perhaps argue some on humanitarian grounds, but even then one has to wonder if the ends truly justified the means.

      • #4 by lbwoodgate on February 4, 2012 - 21:20

        I can’t disagree with that. What I was suggesting though was that the “shock and awe” mentality of a Bush compared to the comparatively reserved action of air power only with a Clinton or Obama is more likely to get us drawn in over our heads much like it did in Iraq under Bush II.

        Yes, sadly Obama has become sucked into a global mindset that dictates we keep our hand in play in various locales around the world. I’m sure from their sources they see things we don’t but it’s a threat situation that may backfire again on us if we over-react. I don’t see that happening as easily with an Obama as I do with Gingrich-type president.

      • #5 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 00:11

        Scott

        . It is very difficult to find an argument that the US truly benefited from any of these;

        .

        Of course it is an easy argument to say the ELITE has truly benefited…. otherwise, the actions (or lack of action) would not have ocurred.

        You confuse the “US” …as in the People… to be the same as “US Interests” as in the Elite.

        It is no benefit for a mother to have her sons killed in a war.

        It is a great benefit for some elitist to have those sons go fight a war.

        They are not equal.

        Each of the actions you highlight does have a “gain” to the Elite.
        Each action was purposeful.

        The failure to intervene in Somalia was purposeful to magnify the human horror.

        Clinton used that failure to justify attacking an non-threatening country (Yugoslavia)

        Bush used that attack (preemptive aggression) to attack Iraq.

        … there are no coincidences in politics.

  3. #6 by Black Flag® on February 4, 2012 - 18:41

    Scott,

    You missed the mark.

    The powers that wish war live in the US. They do not live in Iran.

    Iran at war with the US is a massive loss and disaster for Iran.
    Iran could never prevail.
    Thus, there is absolutely no benefit for Iran to go to war.

    The US elites are in the positions of power where war with Iran does not risk themselves, but are in positions where a moderately successful prosecution of war would be beneficial.

    Therefore, there will be war.

    The only question that stays their hand right now is the cost benefit. It is still slightly negative. But as the economy declines, this cost will degrade (in their view) and move more toward “benefit” (in their view). They would have to act before the economic decline becomes so severe as to risk political collapse. It is in that gap that war will begin.

    The only way war could be avoided is for Iran to continue to expand aggressively its military strength – ironically, making it more appealing for Iran to pursue nuclear weapons.

    If Iran can maintain a credible threat of resistance, war may be avoided.

    However, they are not a rich country, and I do not think this arms race can be sustained.

    It will be a race between political collapse in the US and the inability of Iran to keep up the arms race.

  4. #7 by Black Flag® on February 4, 2012 - 18:42

    ;(

  5. #8 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on February 4, 2012 - 22:10

    Scott,

    If Iran backs away from its nuclear program, I think you would be right. I just don’t think they are going to back away from it, and the United States is running out of time. Given that four carriers are within a week’s distance from the region and the Navy’s scramble to get a warship converted into a floating operational base before June, it is at least clear that the President is putting forces in place so he at least has the option to strike. The downing of a stealth UAV over Iran last month also is a sign that the United States is likely preparing a target list for in the event of a strike. I would put the probability at 60% right now of something happening this summer.

    Another important data point that the news media knows little about is that some of the principals at the Pentagon today planned OPLAN 5026, which was a precision strike on the Yongbyon reactor in North Korea. It was a tricky operation that involved precision munitions that would hit the reactor in such a way that the graphite in the reactor would entomb it uranium so that it would prevent a radioactive plume from bowing south into the Republic of Korea. The DOD recommended a precision strike against that reactor in 1994. The consequences of such an operation would likely have been a full-blown war on the Korean Peninsula, resulting most likely in the destruction of Seoul and a massive conventional military campaign to halt a DPRK invasion of South Korea.

    The only reason this strike did not happen (and the North Koreans have nuclear weapons) is that Jimmy Carter negotiated an agreement at the eleventh hour.

    It is also important to note how quickly the Obama administration has scrambled to remove US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Without a sizable American presence in either country, the Iranians would have fewer targets to attack following a US strike. Furthermore, I agree that the US has been operating in the background with covert sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program. While this strategy has certainly set things back, the Iranians continue to build a weapon. I see the covert campaign, and the economic and political sanctions as part of a continuum of increased intensity over time that ends in a precision strike.

    Furthermore, I don’t think the Arab Spring has anything to do with Iran. That was an Arab movement, not necessarily an Islamic one. The Arab world is terrified of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The Saudis openly asked us to take out Iran’s nuclear program several months ago (see some of the Wikileaks documents). Furthermore, I think warning Iran about a strike is precisely what the administration would do prior to an attack for two reasons:

    First, their goal is to clearly communicate to the Iranian regime that our goal is not regime change. Our only beef with the Iranians is their pursuit of nuclear weapons. If they stop their enrichment of uranium and nuclear weapons development programs, the United States will back off. The advantage of this policy is that it clearly outlines the scope of our intentions, which are limited. In doing so, it hopefully convinces that Iranians to ensure their response is proportional. Multiple terrorist attacks on US cities would not be a proportional response, but a possible one.

    Second, it is to put continued pressure on the Iranians, so that they understand the United States is serious and that they can avoid a US-led air campaign if they give up their nuclear program.

    I don’t believe the Obama administration wants a conventional war, but I do believe it is rational enough to want a nuclear exchange even less. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, a total of half a dozen countries will likely acquire them in the next decade or two in the Middle East. A proliferation spiral in the geopolitical jugular of the global economy is a veritable powder keg that the United States can ill-afford.

    Futhermore, the Obama administration’s prior operations have been risky, but extremely successful. For instance, the operation against Qaddafi made no sense to me until I thought about it in the context of a quid pro quo with the French and the Italians. The United States supports them if they, in turn, support a future effort against Iran. It is probably no coincidence that these two countries were among the first to support more aggressive economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

    The raid on bin Laden in Pakistan could have triggered a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, yet the President gambled (rightly in my view) and won. The stakes are not nearly as high in a limited air strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

    Unfortunately, our economy runs on crude oil. If it spikes to $1,000 per barrel in the long-term, our economy will collapse. If it spikes to $1,000 for two months, because of an air strike on Iran akin to Operation Desert Fox in the late 90s, the nation can afford a minor hiccup.

    Darn, that was a lot. I should have just written a post on this. 😉

    • #9 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 00:30

      Sean

      Scott, If Iran backs away from its nuclear program, I think you would be right. I just don’t think they are going to back away from it, and the United States is running out of time.

      What is missing from this dialogue is this question:

      Why should Iran back away from using nuclear energy???

      The NPT explicity says that non-nuclear weaponed armed nations have a right to nuclear energy and it is an obligation of the nuclear armed nations to assist in this desire.

      If Iran “backs away” from the terms of the NPT, it would undermine the entire essence of the NPT and give full license to every nation to forgo the NPT as a “dead letter” and pursue both nuclear energy and weapons.

      Therefore, the refutation of the NTP must be in the best interestes of the Political Elite of the Western Powers

      • #10 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on February 5, 2012 - 01:13

        Black Flag,

        I’m sorry, I should have been more explicit. I meant “nuclear weapons program”. The West has already offered the Iranians nuclear fuel in exchange for their spent fuel rods and the cessation of their uranium enrichment program, and the Iranians rejected this offer.

      • #11 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 05:08

        Sean

        Black Flag, I’m sorry, I should have been more explicit. I meant “nuclear weapons program”. The West has already offered the Iranians nuclear fuel in exchange for their spent fuel rods and the cessation of their uranium enrichment program, and the Iranians rejected this offer.

        They accepted the offer from the Russians.

        Iran has no trust in the West whatsoever – and can you blame them?

    • #12 by Scott Erb on February 5, 2012 - 13:00

      Good points, Sean, but I still find the calculation skewed against military action. Iran with nukes can be contained and deterred by both the US and Israel. The Russians and Chinese, while against war with Iran, are also regional powers that are part of a balance of power arrangement in the area. As long as we don’t attack they don’t want to see Iran muck up regional stability either. On the other hand, the potential costs of such action are immense.

      I do think that Iran’s calculation should lead them against escalation in the event of an attack, but the possibility they’d escalate is significant. So from a cost benefit analysis I interpret US actions as an effort to pressure Iran and make them think we’re willing to go to war, but I don’t think it’ll get that far. If so, then I hope Iran’s leaders recognize that further escalation (unleash Hezbollah, try to close the straits, etc.) is against their interest. If my theory that they want this crisis in order to quell domestic dissent is right, then they won’t escalate.

      But even if we or Israel strike, it’s been a well communicated threat, meaning they’ve had time to prepare and perhaps decoy. Would strikes work? It’s easy to under estimate an opponent’s ability to resist (the US made that error with Cuba in 1961 and more recently Serbia in 1999) If something does go wrong, President Obama probably can’t count on domestic support — the national mood in 2012 is very different than in 2003.

      On another note, I’m not sure how killing Bin Laden could have risked an Indian-Pakistani war. Given how the existence of nuclear weapons have led them to avoid war in really tense and dangerous circumstances, I don’t see a path from killing bin Laden to a war between those states.

  6. #13 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 00:40

    Sean

    First, their goal is to clearly communicate to the Iranian regime that our goal is not regime change. Our only beef with the Iranians is their pursuit of nuclear weapons

    Utter nonsense.

    You have not been paying attention.

    The US strategy post-WW2 was a dual pillar strategy for the region:
    Israel/Iran. Iran was the first Muslim nation to recognize the State of Israel

    The fall of the Shah seriously disrupted this strategy, and until this is back in place, by any means necessary the US will be aggressive against Iran.

    Eisenhower established the doctrine:
    You are either for us, or against us
    …and the first nation he applied this doctrine upon was Iran.

    This “fight” with Iran started in 1952 – was thought to be won until the fall of the Shah – and has been engaged by the US on Iran ever since.

    This “nuclear question” is merely an excuse. It could be anything else and absolutely anything else – this is merely a convenient point.

    If Iran abandoned the nuclear program, the US would leap upon …say… Hezbollah or some sort of other thing (long range missiles loaded with fictitious chemical weapons, as an example).

    The point:
    No matter what Iran does, as long as it demands independence from the US hegemony, it will always be the enemy of the US elite

  7. #14 by Alan Scott on February 5, 2012 - 03:11

    Scott,

    I have so many problems with all your points of analysis, I do not know where to begin . No way was Chamberlin buying time for Great Britain’s military. He really thought he could avoid war . Time was against Britain and France, the same as it is against Israel and the US . Once Iran is nuclear, Israel’s position becomes untenable . Israel knows that, and Obama knows that . Obama can live with Israel being destroyed . Israel can’t . Even Saudi Arabia’s position becomes questionable . Israel will take out Iran’s nuclear weapon if it can . I doubt it can .

    Second point. How can you say that the USSR was not trying to spread Communism ? What was the Korean War about ? What was the Vietnam War about ? What was the Cuban missile crisis about ? Why were Communists and their AK-47s in South America and Africa ?

    You are betting that the Greens in Iran will overthrow the regime before Iran uses the threat of nuclear war to destroy it’s neighbors . That is an amazingly dangerous bet .

    History repeats itself, even to the point that forgetting history repeats itself again and again .

    And I wish you would stop forgetting that Obama was gung ho to fight in Afghanistan . That was the good war, the right war and he was gonna win it . Now that he assassinated Osama he is declaring victory and cutting and running . And that is for politics .

    • #15 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 05:23

      Alan

      Chamberlin buying time for Great Britain’s military. He really thought he could avoid war .

      Agreed.
      He bet on a series of consequences of his actions.
      They diverted for nothing he did.

      Once Iran is nuclear, Israel’s position becomes untenable

      .

      Utter nonsense.

      The US faced down USSR, who had 10,000 nukes.

      To claim that a handful of nukes “somehow makes Israel’s positions untenable” is ridiculous.

      What makes Israel’s position untenable is the withdrawal of US financial and military support, and that has nothing to do with nukes.

      Israel knows that,

      Nonsense.

      Israel has said, in the direct face of Congress, they do not need the US and are more then capable of taking care of themselves.

      Why do you debate them on this?

      How can you say that the USSR was not trying to spread Communism ? What was the Korean War about ?

      It was about Korean Independence

      You need to get a bit more history behind you.

      What was the Vietnam War about ?

      It was about Vietnamese Indepencence

      See above note about your lack of historical knowledge…

      What was the Cuban missile crisis about ?

      Ibid.

      You appear dangerously infected with MSM distortions.

  8. #16 by Scott Erb on February 5, 2012 - 05:32

    Alan – Chamberlain thought war likely, appeasement was only focused on Germany’s legitimate interests, to allow Germany to become a “normal” state (overturn Versailles). Appeasement would have been a good policy ten years earlier. The conservatives also thought fascism a good bullwark against communism (Chamberlain’s intra-party rival Churchill disagreed, of course). He hoped to avoid war, but was also preparing for it pretty intently. The view of Chamberlain as naive is inaccurate. I wrote more on that in the past: https://scotterb.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/what-is-appeasement/

    Israel has over 350 nuclear weapons, maybe much more. If Iran were to nuke Israel it would be the end of the Iranian regime. The Iranians know that. An Iranian nuke (and they can’t make many) is only useful as a deterrent and to gain regional power. If Iran were to ever use it, Iran’s regime would be wiped off the planet. They know that.

    The Soviets and Americans were in a contest, but it wasn’t about ideology by the early 1970s. It was a classic bipolar system, and Nixon and Brezhnev realized they could keep the competition stable and maintain the system. Brezhnev in now way was on an ideological crusade. Nixon and Kissinger had not only an effective foreign policy, but one that set up a peaceful end of the Cold War. On Vietnam – the US was the one that picked that fight. The 1954 Geneva Treaty ending France’s colony allowed the French to set up a government in the South, and Ho Chi Minh in the North. In 1956 there was to be an election to determine who would rule a unified Vietnam. Eisenhower decided to support the south in violating the treaty because the CIA knew that Ho would gain 80% or more of the vote in a fair election. The government of the South was extremely unpopular, Ho was a national hero. The US stopped a democratic election to support a dictatorship (which the South was).

    Finally, it’s good to leave Afghanistan — no foreign power can truly “win” there — it is the killer of empires.

  9. #18 by Alan Scott on February 5, 2012 - 13:14

    Boys, boys, boys . I would like to point out something . Physical size matters . The US and it’s opponent were large countries . Iran is a large country . Israel is tiny . Only one or two atomic bombs have to get through and Israel is literally toast . If Iran gets a first strike in, it would survive an Israeli counter strike . It could afford millions of casualties .

    Iran doesn’t even have to strike . The intimidation factor that nukes give you changes everything . And Iran has something the other nuclear powers do not have, the will to use the weapons.

    The Soviets, for all of their faults, were not that crazy . The Iranian leadership is different . Now that Barak Hussein ( Neville Chamberlin ) Obama has signaled retreat in Iraq and Afghanistan and is cutting the military to pay for cradle to grave nanny state, why wouldn’t Iran think starting a war with Israel would solve it’s many problems ? Israel would just be another Austria or Czechoslovakia to Europe and apparently to us . How about Ethiopia or China ? The West through them under the bus . Israel knows it’s history better than either of you . It can’t afford to wrong, you and Barak can .

    And I think you are both still wrong historically, but that I was able to bring the two of you together against me makes all your slings and arrows still hurt .

    • #19 by Scott Erb on February 5, 2012 - 13:22

      Israel knows it is small and thus has developed the capacity to destroy any state that hits them. The Islamic Republic of Iran would be utterly destroyed if they tried to attack Israel with nuclear weapons and they know it. I also doubt Iran has the will to use the weapons, they want to be a regional player (I also think they’re creating this crisis in part for domestic purposes). There is nothing crazy about the Iranian leadership, they’ve had 33 years of a rational if also Machiavellian foreign policy. They want power, but they’re not suicidal. Of course, if Iran is hit first and thus can play the role of the wounded victim, then their options expand — after all, that’s how Bismarck managed to unify Germany, he lured Austria and then France to start a war with Prussia.

      On the other hand, I’m looking at this from the US stand point, not the Israeli standpoint. I understand Israel’s military leadership is split on this issue, and there is a large block opposing any strike on Iran. The Iranians are not Arab, so there is less connection between the Palestinian issue and the Iranians (one reason Israel and Iran were allied before 1979). The calculation is harder for Israel than for the US, but I still think the most rational course of action is to appear ready for war in order to pressure Iran into a solution, but ultimately not to strike. But yes, Israel’s calculation is much different than that of the US. They are worried about their existence, we’re worried about oil and our economy.

    • #20 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 18:34

      Alan

      It could afford millions of casualties

      No, it can not.

      A million casualties over 10 years of war with Iraq almost shattered Iran.

      The loss of Tehran to a nuke would end Iran as we know it. Not only the losses in the city itself, but the sudden and catastrophic effect of a collapse of the economy.

      In most major wars, only a few thousands are killed in battle.
      Millions died of hunger.

      • #21 by Scott Erb on February 5, 2012 - 19:21

        Israel has the capacity to utterly devastate Iran. Well placed nuclear weapons would destroy both the Iranian government and cause economic collapse. There would be survivors, but it would no longer be the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by the Guardian Council and Supreme Leader. They know that – so do the Israelis. They fear a crisis leading to nuclear conflict (a crisis that spins out of control) and increased Iranian leverage due to its enhanced strategic position. Those are legitimate fears, especially for Israel. But the idea that Iran is led by crazies who think they’d survive a nuclear war with Israel isn’t plausible (though anything is possible!)

        I do think Iran has severe economic difficulties and a right mix of carrots and sticks can yield a deal. Also, it is rational for theme to pursue nuclear energy, given their problems with refining and transport.

  10. #22 by Titfortat on February 5, 2012 - 17:24

    And the irony is………….the only nation to use atomic weapons demands we worry about one that really cant even launch, even if they get one. Truly bizarre logic.

  11. #23 by Alan Scott on February 5, 2012 - 19:53

    Scott,

    Is Iran more like the Soviets or Hitler ? I think Hitler .And do not discount the whole Islamic calculation . Islamic movements are on the rise in Turkey, another former friend of Israel . If things continue on their path and war does not come, the Mullahs will be overthrown . So why not have a war and gamble on winning it ? It would be short, either way . If Iran wins, the Mullahs stay in power . If they lose, they can regroup in the rubble.

    Black Flag ,

    Why wouldn’t the leadership disperse. Again Iran is a big country . Tehran is no more important than Moscow was in Napoleon’s time.

    ” A million casualties over 10 years of war with Iraq almost shattered Iran. ”

    Yea, but it did not . Stalin took more casualties in WW2 than anyone believed he could and came back stronger . And it is all about what the Mullahs believe, not what would really happen .

    • #24 by Black Flag® on February 5, 2012 - 20:24

      Alan

      Scott, Is Iran more like the Soviets or Hitler ? I think Hitler

      They are neither.
      They have not invaded another country in the last 300 years. To argue that Iran is -somehow- a global empire or has “liebestraum” demonstrates a huge misunderstanding and ignorance about Iran.

      Islamic movements are on the rise in Turkey, another former friend of Israel

      “Former” by whose actions? Certainly not Turkey. Israel attacked a Flagged Turkish vessel and maintains an inhuman blockade.

      Israel has no friends left, save the foolish Americans.

      . If things continue on their path and war does not come, the Mullahs will be overthrown

      Correct. They are a corrupt bunch and the people are tired of them. But they will hold on for quite a while longer.

      . So why not have a war and gamble on winning it ?

      You are insane.

      Iran cannot win.

      Review the amount of military spending between Iran and USA.

      Black Flag , Why wouldn’t the leadership disperse. Again Iran is a big country .

      You do not understand the catastrophe, therefore you advise disaster.

      Thank god you will never get close to the military decisions.

    • #25 by Scott Erb on February 5, 2012 - 20:59

      Judging from 32 years of foreign policy consistency, the idea that Iran is like a Hitler seems very far fetched. The clerics on the Guardian council have divisions as well, I think you underestimate the sophistication and rationality of Iranian leaders.

      • #26 by Titfortat on February 5, 2012 - 21:20

        The truth is there is presently no other world power that would dare to use nuclear weapons against the US. The only one that comes even close to nuts enough just died(north korea). All the freaking politicking/military postering we see in the world is just for show. The more I look at who is in actual power the less I see the one’s who have a gun in their hand. Dont get me wrong, there is plenty of nastiness that goes on and will continue but it is not anywhere near the gloom and doom that some predict.

  12. #27 by Alan Scott on February 6, 2012 - 23:47

    Black Flag,

    What is your problem ? With Israel. Israel should have sunk that ship ! And guess what ? The Taliban had no chance of defeating the United States, but that did not stop them from allowing Bin Laden to commit an act of war called 911. Hitler lost to Stalin, it did not stop him from killing millions of Russians .

    Since when did you begin believing evil has to be rational ?

    • #28 by Black Flag® on February 7, 2012 - 03:18

      Alan

      Black Flag, What is your problem ? With Israel.

      It has an aggressive, land-seizing (and thus, war criminal) political leadership.

      It’s policies -which they justify as necessary for survival- will most certainly create the conditions of its destruction.

      Israel should have sunk that ship !

      So now you advocating attacking unarmed ships in international waters and sinking them.

      Eek!

      And guess what ? The Taliban had no chance of defeating the United States, but that did not stop them from allowing Bin Laden to commit an act of war called 911.

      Taliban did not “allow” anything, no more than you “allow” the local hood robbing the next door 7-11.

      Further, there is no evidence OBL did anything on 9/11 – even the FBI did not make your claim.

      Hitler lost to Stalin, it did not stop him from killing millions of Russians . Since when did you begin believing evil has to be rational ?

      Oh!
      EVIL can be very rational!

  13. #29 by Alan Scott on February 8, 2012 - 01:34

    Black Flag ,

    ” So now you advocating attacking unarmed ships in international waters and sinking them. ”

    Maybe you are unfamiliar with the situation . Cargo was brought in that allowed Hamas to attack Israel with rockets from the Gaza strip . Israel blockaded the Gaza to curtail the rocket attacks . So yes, if I was running Israel I would have sunk the ship . Of course I would have let off any peaceful idiots before hand . Assuming there were any peaceful ones . Actually scratch that . This ain’t a pillow fight. And in case you did not know it , Israel offered to let cargo come in after full inspections .

    When your citizens are dying in rocket attacks, from cargo being brought in by sea, yes you sink the ships. So why do think Israel should have let munitions come in that killed it’s citizens ? I really want to know !

    ” Taliban did not “allow” anything, no more than you “allow” the local hood robbing the next door 7-11 ”

    Okay, if the guest in my house knocks off the next door 7-11, I maybe can claim not to know he was going to do it . I’d have to be pretty stupid, but okay maybe . But then, by your logic, I would protect my guest by fighting the police, instead of turning him over .

    ” Further, there is no evidence OBL did anything on 9/11 – even the FBI did not make your claim. ”

    You mean Obama murdered an innocent man ? Wow, I guess the joke’s on us .

    • #30 by Black Flag® on February 8, 2012 - 16:38

      Alan

      Maybe you are unfamiliar with the situation

      You are absolutely unfamiliar with international law.

      Regardless of whatever “embargo” a nation places upon another, they CANNOT go about sinking ships in international waters flagged under a neutral power. Period.

      It is an act of war.

      Further, it is only in your imagination that the ship contained weapons. The facts: it did not until the Israelis bordered it – then the weapons were Israeli.

      Okay, if the guest in my house knocks off the next door 7-11, I maybe can claim not to know he was going to do it . I’d have to be pretty stupid, but okay maybe . But then, by your logic, I would protect my guest by fighting the police, instead of turning him over . ” Further, there is no evidence OBL did anything on 9/11 – even the FBI did not make your claim. ” You mean Obama murdered an innocent man ? Wow, I guess the joke’s on us

      You make wild claims about 9/11

      Where is your proof?
      Oh! You have none.

      10 years later, and you still have none.

  14. #31 by Titfortat on February 8, 2012 - 01:52

    You mean Obama murdered an innocent man ? Wow, I guess the joke’s on us.(AS)

    I guess you would have to define innocent. But just remember the scale slides in both directions.

  15. #32 by Alan Scott on February 8, 2012 - 23:30

    Black Flag,

    Just for the record, are you saying that Osama bin Laden was not guilty in the 911 attacks ?

    ” Regardless of whatever “embargo” a nation places upon another, they CANNOT go about sinking ships in international waters flagged under a neutral power. Period.

    It is an act of war. ”

    Uhhhhh, , ,YEA !

    When you know weapons are coming in on neutral ships that are killing your people, guess what ? You break international law . And I only said what I would have done . Israel did not in fact sink the ship .

    Question, , , did President Kennedy break international law, when he blockaded Cuba and almost caused WW3 ? What is the difference between what Kennedy did and what Israel did ? And Cuba was not even killing Americans .

    • #33 by Black Flag® on February 8, 2012 - 23:35

      Alan

      Black Flag, Just for the record, are you saying that Osama bin Laden was not guilty in the 911 attacks ? ”

      Just for the record, explain how can you condemn a man without proof?

      You break international law . And I only said what I would have done . Israel did not in fact sink the ship .

      They ATTACKED it, and SEIZED it, and killed Nationals ON IT.

      You were the one hung up on “sinking” things….

      Question, , , did President Kennedy break international law, when he blockaded Cuba and almost caused WW3 ?

      You bet and his stupidity almost did start a war.

      What is the difference between what Kennedy did and what Israel did ? And Cuba was not even killing Americans

      The US NEVER board any ships heading to Cuba – indeed, had they, it would have become a very hot war.

  16. #34 by Scott Erb on February 9, 2012 - 02:09

    Kennedy did break international law, though if it wasn’t for Bobby Kennedy we’d have had nuclear war. The entire Kennedy decision making initially wanted to use the missiles as an excuse to invade Cuba and eliminate Castro. Bobby Kennedy said “I don’t want my brother to be a Tojo,” saying it would be beneath America to act as a bully and attack another country just because we didn’t like its government. The military was appalled (esp. Curtis Lemay), former Secretary of State Acheson left in disgust saying “the Kennedy’s have no balls.” But later — only after the Cold War ended — did we find out that many missiles were operational, and the Soviet general in the field had ordered they be fired should Cuba be invaded. The Soviets were so horrified by how a General in the field almost started a nuclear war, they took away that power (even from their submarine commanders).

    Both sides — Khrushchev and Kennedy — backed down as they saw the stakes of what was unfolding. After that, the hot line was installed (a telex) and a new ‘unwritten rule’ not to let anything in the third world lead to the use of nukes.

    To be sure, the US breaks international law pretty consistently, as do other major powers. International law isn’t meaningless by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still more a set of norms than actual enforceable law (and what enforcement does happen is usually through national courts — international law is a part of American law, for instance).

  17. #35 by Alan Scott on February 10, 2012 - 01:39

    Black Flag,

    I humbly offer this as evidence of why I believe Bin Laden was guilty. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,137095,00.html I await your evidence that he was not guilty . I did not think you would duck the issue, but you have .

    ” They ATTACKED it, and SEIZED it, and killed Nationals ON IT.

    You were the one hung up on “sinking” things….”

    Why do you continue to ignore that Israel was being rocket attacked ? And I believe the ” Nationals ” attacked the Israelis who boarded the ship . They would still be walking the Earth if they had not assaulted the Israelis . Again I believe the Israelis showed tremendous restraint . I believe these idiots wanted to be martyred to bring condemnation from the usual suspects .

    ” The US NEVER board any ships heading to Cuba – indeed, had they, it would have become a very hot war. ”

    I believe you are mistaken . October 26, 1962 the US boarded the Marucla, which was under Lebanese registry and chartered by the Soviets . The following day a Soviet submarine prepared to fire it’s nuclear warhead because it was trapped and being attacked by a US warship near Cuba .http://www.squidoo.com/cubanmissilecrisis .

    The Cuban missile crisis illustrated that a country will break international law when the lives of it’s people are at stake . Israel was following a well traveled path in protecting itself . My analogy of the two incidents is more relevant than I at first realized .

    Scott,

    The US simply could not allow missiles that could knock out the eastern seaboard to stay in Cuba, period . It was worth going to war for . Israel is in a very similar situation with Iran .

    • #36 by Scott Erb on February 10, 2012 - 02:06

      Kennedy luckily found a way to avoid war which would not have been worth it. Is it really worth a bunch of cities turned to dust in order not to have Cuba have missiles? That would have been the consequence! Kennedy and Khrushchev both realized that war was not a good option. Kennedy ultimately agreed to withdraw missiles from Turkey (thus similarly close to the USSR as Cuba is from the US). If Israel goes to war, it may not survive – and it may set up a scenario where the situation escalates and nuclear terrorism becomes a tactic that makes much of Israel unlivable. I think they realize that war itself is a risky option. It might limit Iran’s threat — or it might magnify it. War might make Israel safer, or it might put it more at risk. A lot of people talk about war as if it is guaranteed to succeed and “work.” Most offensive uses of force actually fail.

      • #37 by Black Flag® on February 10, 2012 - 02:30

        Scott,
        Indeed.
        Kennedy rubbed Khrushchev nose in the Cuban withdrawal, but few knew or remembered Kennedy left Turkey.

        And we agree – victory is never assured in war, as Ancient Athens would tell you….

    • #38 by Black Flag® on February 10, 2012 - 02:20

      Alan,

      That link and story has been wholly discredited as faked.

      Here is a real interview, where is specifically denies involvement.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24697

      But I am asking for EVIDENCE, not news stories.

      Why do you continue to ignore that Israel was being rocket attacked

      No rockets were fired from that ship.

      Why do you ignore the Israeli’s war crime of seizing Palestinian territory?

      They would still be walking the Earth if they had not assaulted the Israelis

      Criminals attack an unarmed ship and kill a passenger, and its the passenger’s fault.

      You have a bizarre sense of justice.

    • #39 by Black Flag® on February 10, 2012 - 02:27

      PS:
      The ship was not seized, nor any “nuclear” materials found, and no one was killed.

      Unlike the Israeli raid, where the ship was seized, no “prohibited” materials found and people were murdered.

  18. #40 by Alan Scott on February 11, 2012 - 02:12

    Scott,

    You brought up one important point, Missiles in Turkey . Your other points are simply wrong . At what point does any country go to war ? Yes it was worth nuclear war to get the missiles out of Cuba. If they had stayed, eventually America would have gone to war and lost . I realize you do not believe me constantly bringing up America and Western Europe’s scandalous failures to stop the aggression against Abyssinia, China, and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, but it is relevant . History repeats itself constantly . You have to stand against evil and you have to do it early .

    Black Flag ,

    I am having a hard time taking you seriously . Did he, or did he not declare a fatwa that called on all Muslims to wage a holy war on Americans and Jews ?! Did he or did he not finance terrorists who murdered Americans ? As I remember Bin Laden was proud of his actions . I would guess he would gladly slit your throat for trying to deny him credit for killing Americans .

    ” No rockets were fired from that ship ”
    And that is relevant, , , how ? Are you familiar at all with the purpose of a blockade ? It is to stop supplies getting to an enemy . The Allies successfully blockaded the Central Powers in WW1 . They were not trying to stop warships .

    As far as the globalresearch.ca/ , I simply do not believe it . I cannot confirm independently what they said .

    • #41 by Black Flag® on February 11, 2012 - 02:28

      Alan

      Your other points are simply wrong . At what point does any country go to war ?

      At the point they believe they will win.

      Yes it was worth nuclear war to get the missiles out of Cuba.

      You are insane.

      If they had stayed, eventually America would have gone to war and lost .

      You are insane.

      North America is unconquerable.

      I realize you do not believe me constantly bringing up America and Western Europe’s scandalous failures to stop the aggression against Abyssinia, China, and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, but it is relevant .

      Hardly relevant as this in not USA.

      History repeats itself constantly . You have to stand against evil and you have to do it early .

      Yet, you support the use of evil as your means – then, no doubt, you wonder why evil always wins.

      Black Flag , I am having a hard time taking you seriously .

      You do not have any evidence, do you?

      Did he, or did he not declare a fatwa that called on all Muslims to wage a holy war on Americans and Jews ?!

      In all his attacks, they were directed against military and government targets – it is you who cannot understand the facts of the issue at hand.

      No rockets were fired from that ship ” And that is relevant, , , how ?

      It was you who brought up the topic of rockets being fired, so ask yourself that question, sir!
      LoL!

      I find those that are wholly irrational about Israel love bringing up stupid things, then complain that stupid things are being made an issue!

      Are you familiar at all with the purpose of a blockade ? It is to stop supplies getting to an enemy .

      You do not understand international law, war power obligations et al.

      Regardless, attacking neutral nation ships is an act of war and yet, you sit stunned that Turkey no longer views Israel as an ally!

      The Allies successfully blockaded the Central Powers in WW1 .

      \

      They did not attack neutral ships in international waters – which is a point you obviously need to ignore.

      They were not trying to stop warships . As far as the globalresearch.ca/ , I simply do not believe it . I cannot confirm independently what they said .

      I couldn’t give a flying squirrel’s butt about what you believe or not.

      I ask for proof – you provide garabage rhetoric…. and that is the entire extent of your argument.

  19. #42 by Scott Erb on February 11, 2012 - 02:24

    What? Do you really believe that it would have been worth having American cities destroyed over Cuba? And no, that would not have meant we’d lose a nuclear war eventually. I’m not sure how you get to that. All I can say is thank God for Bobby Kennedy for preventing a war that would have had devastating long term consequences.

    • #43 by Black Flag® on February 11, 2012 - 02:30

      How ironic that I side with Scott wholeheartedly on this topic.

  20. #44 by Alan Scott on February 11, 2012 - 14:28

    BlaCK fLAG ,

    ” How ironic that I side with Scott wholeheartedly on this topic ”

    I can’t figure out what happened to you . You used to be so smart .

    ” In all his attacks, they were directed against military and government targets – it is you who cannot understand the facts of the issue at hand. ”

    You are honestly making the case that Osama did not finance, help plan, and encourage attacks on purely civilian targets ????? And you call me insane !

    ” They did not attack neutral ships in international waters – which is a point you obviously need to ignore. ”

    You really should check your facts . The British would have certainly sunk any neutral ships that did not obey when they were at the blockade . Apparently most were not as stupid as the Turkish ship that attacked the Israeli boarding party. To believe the British would not have sunk any ship that pulled what that ship pulled is lunacy . Also the British laid mines as part of their blockade . I wonder what would have happened to a neutral ship hitting a British mine. Do you think it would have sunk ?

    Scott ,

    ” What? Do you really believe that it would have been worth having American cities destroyed over Cuba? ”

    At what point are you willing to allow your enemy to blow your brains out ? When he pulls his gun from his holster ? When he raises it in your direction ? When he points it at your head ? When he cocks the hammer ? Wait, I know, I know, I know . You wait until he fires the bullet into your brain, then you slowly draw your gun and give him a stern talking to .

    • #45 by Black Flag® on February 11, 2012 - 16:32

      Alan

      BlaCK fLAG , ” How ironic that I side with Scott wholeheartedly on this topic ” I can’t figure out what happened to you . You used to be so smart .

      I am smart, which also means I know when Scott is right and when he is wrong.

      In this matter, Scott is right. When playing with millions of innocent lives, demagoguery must not be the point of decision.

      ” In all his attacks, they were directed against military and government targets – it is you who cannot understand the facts of the issue at hand. ” You are honestly making the case that Osama did not finance, help plan, and encourage attacks on purely civilian targets ?????

      Where is your proof?

      So far you fire off wild accusations.

      All his acknowledged attacks have been military and government locations. That is a fact.

      Where is yours?

      The British would have certainly sunk any neutral ships that did not obey when they were at the blockade .

      Your continued attempts to make irrelevant claims continues to diminish your position.

      It is neutral ships in international water – belligerents on both sides create exclusions zones – like in WW1 quote:”Germany’s declared exclusion zone of February 1915. Ships within this area were liable to search and attack” and when the Lusitania wandered into that zone, she was sunk.

      Apparently most were not as stupid as the Turkish ship that attacked the Israeli boarding party.

      Again, your moral compass has no North.

      You blame the victim for the crime.

  21. #46 by Scott Erb on February 11, 2012 - 16:13

    You’re committing the error of abstraction, Alan. You’re talking about one enemy facing you with a gun. That’s very different than causing mass annihilation through nuclear war, killing innocents on all sides. You justify this by assuming something unlikely – that somehow Soviet missiles in Cuba would have lead to them winning a war — something I think utterly impossible to justify. It’s important in foreign policy not to take into account the costs and consequences of actions each step of the way.

  22. #47 by Titfortat on February 12, 2012 - 01:32

    And still, no one acknowledges that the only nation to use nuclear weapons against another is the USA. Osama bin laden was a poodle nipping at the ankles of a bohemoth, Iran is no different.

  23. #48 by Alan Scott on February 12, 2012 - 13:20

    Titfortat ,

    I am proud that the US is the only nation to use atomic weapons. We are the only nation that can be trusted . You really believe that Iran having nukes is a good thing ? And in case you forgot that poodle killed a lot of innocent Americans .

    The three of you really should have lived in the 1930s and been advisors to Neville Chamberlin . I doubt that even Obama is as naive as you all are .

    • #49 by Scott Erb on February 12, 2012 - 13:34

      I think you’re blinded by nationalism, Alan. The US has committed so many atrocities and killed so many innocents that it’s really impossible to say it’s better than other countries. I wouldn’t say it’s worse either – I just try to have perspective. Chamberlain was a conservative whose party saw fascism as a protection from Bolshevism – the conservatives were more afraid of the far left than the far right. Chamberlain also realized WWI had been devastating and wanted to avoid an unnecessary war. So he tried to treat Germany as “equals” (appeasement was never ‘give Hitler what he wants so he won’t go to war, but simply to undo the Versailles treaty injustices). At the same time, he started a military build up, expecting war and hoping to at least buy time until 1943, when his military said the UK would be ready. The caricature of Chamberlain in popular culture is an example of how real history often gets distorted.

    • #50 by Black Flag® on February 12, 2012 - 18:46

      History is always unkind to peacekeepers who tried and failed, but rarely unkind to “patriotic” warmongers who succeed.

  24. #51 by Titfortat on February 12, 2012 - 21:24

    @Alan

    Naive is thinking your government, or any government for that matter, has your best interests at heart. Follow the power and you get to see who’s interests are being met.

  25. #52 by Alan Scott on February 13, 2012 - 04:14

    Titfortat,

    Do you believe Truman was wrong to use the atom bomb ?

    Scott,

    I ask you, if you were on the losing side, which country would you want to live under during an occupation ? American, British, Italian, Russian, German, or Japanese ? I always found it interesting how Germans fought their way to the west in 1945 so they could surrender to the British and Americans . Also would you rather be held prisoner by the Iranians or the Israelis ?

    Black Flag,

    Peace keeper or patriotic warmonger, you better not be on the losing side of history . Ask any loser. It sucks .

    • #53 by Black Flag® on February 13, 2012 - 04:58

      Alan

      Titfortat, Do you believe Truman was wrong to use the atom bomb ?

      Yes.
      Not one of his 5-star generals agreed to us the bomb, and all of them opposed it.

      It was totally unnecessary. The Japanese were trying to surrender since 1943.

      The “saving million American lives” was a lie that started in 1948 – not one document at the time suggested that any American lives would be saved by using the bomb.

      Scott, I ask you, if you were on the losing side, which country would you want to live under during an occupation ? American, British, Italian, Russian, German, or Japanese ?

      So killing hundreds of thousand innocent people makes the US a better country?

      I always found it interesting how Germans fought their way to the west in 1945 so they could surrender to the British and Americans .

      ….because they sorta slaughter Russians wholesale and knew they would be slaughtered back.

      Eisenhower starved millions of them in prisoner war camps anyway.

      Also would you rather be held prisoner by the Iranians or the Israelis ?

      Neither.

      Black Flag, Peace keeper or patriotic warmonger, you better not be on the losing side of history . Ask any loser. It sucks .

      Your belief system in this matter -if ever gets into irresistible power- will end the human race.

  26. #54 by titfortat on February 13, 2012 - 05:37

    Alan

    Ditto from Black Flag.

  27. #55 by Scott Erb on February 13, 2012 - 12:22

    On the A-bomb: Japan was already defeated, there was no need to use the A-bomb. Japan was ready to negotiate surrender terms, the US could have used a blockade, etc. Hindsight has 20-20 vision, it was war and I understand Truman’s thinking, but it was not necessary to defeat Japan, they’d already lost. Moreover, the Pentagon estimate of the cost of invading Japan (which was not necessary) was 75,000, not a million. But there was no need to invade.

    The Russian Red Army won WWII, they fought the Germans for years. The US entered late, a second front wasn’t really started until 1944. The animosity towards the Russians was much higher, the anger of the Russians to get revenge on the Germans much more intense. Of course they preferred to surrender to the Americans. We didn’t defeat them so much as arrive late on the scene.

    Edward R. Murrow reported on the holocaust in December 1942, and again throughout 1943. That wasn’t taken seriously by the US government.

    • #56 by Black Flag® on February 13, 2012 - 16:49

      Truman was (perhaps rightfully) afraid of the Russians – and it has been argued that using the bomb was a warning to Stalin.

      Regardless -even if that was the motive- it is incredibly evil to slaughter innocent people so to create (what was eventually) a minor deterrent to Stalin.

  28. #57 by Alan Scott on February 13, 2012 - 22:28

    Scott,

    I am sorry for prolonging this thread beyond it’s useful life and diverting the theme from it’s original idea . Every time I decide to let it die one of the three of you says something that truly amazes me . I think I will shut up now and wait for another topic .

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