Monday, April 11, 2005

What would be a moral solution? 

I just read an interesting article I found while googling the terms (foreign & policy & study & deter & crazy & leader). I had been looking for something I'd remembered from the previous century which had addressed how it might be strategically wise for US leaders to adopt a slightly crazy and unpredictable stance in an effort to deter the new threats in the post-Soviet world. Found this instead:

Attacking Iran: I Know It Sounds Crazy, But...

Intriguing title, very tempting, since I've been kind of Iran-watching for the last few years, trying to figure out how it will eventually all play out. The article presents some political and intelligence background, and some anecdotal evidence for their theory that they believe GWB will attack, or is at least willing to attack, Iran. The analysis they attach to this theory is basically "anti-Israeli" garbage, in my Israeli opinion.

I've never "Fisked" anything before, so I thought I'd give it a try. Feel free to read the article, just make sure you are aware of its biases (as I presume you are aware of mine). I'd like to address a few of the more dangerous points that arise from the latent bias of the auther, and also point out what I found worthwhile, despite the bile.

The article carries an introduction which I'll ignore for the most part because its my blog and I can do what I want. I just wanted to highlight the report of a congressional staffer actually asking the question with regard to Iran and US military options, "What would be a moral solution?" Aside from the trite dilemna of who's morals, its refreshing that such a question can be even be asked.

Enough introduction, now let's eat some red meat!

But Bush administration policy toward the Middle East is being run by men -- yes, only men -- who were routinely referred to in high circles in Washington during the 1980s as "the crazies."
Well, sir, if by "crazies" you refer to the lunatics who, through their psychotic and paranoid behavior accidentally brought down communism, while simultaneously keeping most of the population of the US in some sort of stuporous state of obedience, then I see what you mean. Since you come from an intelligence background, I assume you are annoyed by these poor souls because they changed your enemy on you, just when you'd built up a comfortable dossier on the best places in Moscow to buy duty-free Vodka. Pity that. But what I can't see is how you'd mistake Condoleeza Rice for a man, unless I'm missing a certain obnoxious subtext of subservience. Perhaps you assume she's just there to administer the meds.

If further proof of insanity were needed, one could simply look at the unnecessary carnage in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003. That unprovoked attack was, in my view, the most fateful foreign policy blunder in our nation's history...so far.
You raise grandstanding to an artform here, as surely you would have to consider either entering or leaving Vietnam to have been a bigger blunder, depending on how long your hair was in 1970. But I do applaud your leaving the door open with the "so far", since you never know what might happen given that the Bush family just keeps spawning.

"The crazies" are not finished.
And thank God for that, because the bad guys aren't finished yet either.

They calculate that, with a docile, corporate-owned press, a co-opted mainstream church, and a still-trusting populace, the United States and/or the Israelis can launch a successful air offensive to disrupt any Iranian nuclear weapons programs -- with the added bonus of possibly causing the regime in power in Iran to crumble.
Wow, its quite an achievement to make this sound like a bad thing!

During his term in office, George H. W. Bush, with the practical advice of his national security adviser Gen. Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State James Baker, was able to keep "the crazies" at arms length, preventing them from getting the country into serious trouble.
So George the Senior is now a model of restraint? Well perhaps so, if by restraint you mean a stability fetish stronger than Saddam Hussein's aroma after a stay at the Chateau-de-Hidey-Hole.

Unlike in the eighties, they are the ones crafting the adventurous policies our sons and daughters are being called on to implement.
"Our sons and daughters." So begins the careful descent into the dark pit, as if your sons and daughters are somehow more American than those of your reviled "neo-Cons" (that's pronounced "Jews", the N and E and O and C and O and N and S are silent). Nevertheless, perhaps foolishly, I read on.

Why dwell on this? Because it is second in importance only to the portentous reality that the earth is running out of readily accessible oil – something of which they are all too aware. Not surprisingly then, disguised beneath the weapons-of-mass-destruction smokescreen they laid down as they prepared to invade Iraq lay an unspoken but bedrock reason for the war -- oil.
Oh please! We won already. Twice! We controlled the oil fields, OURS OURS OURS, we're rich!! rich!! Halliburton-wealthy!! But for the fact that we keep giving that oil right back to the locals every time.

Now, apparently, they keep saying Iran; and that appears to be what they mean.

Anecdotal evidence like this is hardly conclusive. Put it together with administration rhetoric and a preponderance of other "dots," though, and everything points in the direction of an air attack on Iran, possibly also involving some ground forces. Indeed, from the New Yorker reports of Seymour Hersh to Washington Post articles, accounts of small-scale American intrusions on the ground as well as into Iranian airspace are appearing with increasing frequency. In a speech given on February 18, former UN arms inspector and Marine officer Scott Ritter (who was totally on target before the Iraq War on that country's lack of weapons of mass destruction) claimed that the president has already "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June in order to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons program and eventually bring about "regime change." This does not necessarily mean an automatic green light for a large attack in June, but it may signal the president's seriousness about this option.
Promises, promises. Rumor for now, but I hope the Iranians know how to google for these articles too. Then again, I imagine all Iranian ISPs are legally bound to block any google query that links the words "crazy" and "leader" in the same request.

So why would Iran think it has to acquire nuclear weapons? Sen. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked this on a Sunday talk show a few months ago. Apparently having a senior moment, he failed to give the normal answer. Instead, he replied, "Well, you know, Israel has..." At that point, he caught himself and abruptly stopped.
Why'd he stop? Did he spot the skulking figures in the shadows and clam up? What a brave soul. No, in actuality, I suspect his brain cramp passed and he wanted to change the word "has" to the word "exists", but knew it was too late to avoid being quoted out of context in articles like these.

Is alleged to have…? Lugar is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and yet he doesn't know that Israel has, by most estimates, a major nuclear arsenal, consisting of several hundred nuclear weapons? (Mainstream newspapers are allergic to dwelling on this topic, but it is mentioned every now and then, usually buried in obscurity on an inside page.)
Geez! This huge conspiracy involving all the newspapers and media outlets! Keeping Joe Little-Guy from learning about Israel's UkeNays! It doesn't seem to be going too well, does it? I've seen profiles on this all over the place. It's like alleging there's a big media conspiracy to hide their opinion that Dubya's an idiot. Oh, and who is this Vanunu chap they nominated for the Nobel Prize?

If the truth be told, Iran fears Israel at least as much as Israel fears the internal security threat posed by the thugs supported by Tehran. Iran's apprehension is partly fear that Israel (with at least tacit support from the Bush administration) will send its aircraft to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, just as American-built Israeli bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.
So, Israel and Iran, parallel fears. Iran fears Israel might try to blow up its nuclear weapons production facilities. That's oh so very scary. And Israel is just afraid that Iran will incinerate the entire country the moment if succeeds in creating those weapons. Totally equivalent.

The nuclear issue is indeed paramount, and we would do well to imagine and craft fresh approaches to the nub of the problem. As a start, I'll bet if you made a survey, only 20% of Americans would answer "yes" to the question, "Does Israel have nuclear weapons?" That is key, it seems to me, because at their core Americans are still fair-minded people.

On the other hand, I'll bet that 95% of the Iranian population would answer, "Of course Israel has nuclear weapons; that's why we Iranians need them" -- which was, of course, the unmentionable calculation that Senator Lugar almost conceded. "And we also need them," many Iranians would probably say, "in order to deter ‘the crazies' in Washington. It seems to be working for the North Koreans, who, after all, are the other remaining point on President Bush's ‘axis of evil.'"
This seems to be the winner of the "stupidest point of the article" contest, in a very tight race for that prestigious award. The issue is not how many people believe the other side has the bomb. The issue is what will they do with it.

The point is that Israel is a democracy, which has (allegedly) possessed the bomb for decades and has not used it (except as an unused, barely advertised deterent to being conventionally obliterated).

On the flip side, the Iranians clearly advertise their desire to use any nukes the moment they get them.

Now which side should have you more worried? Well, I guess you might just think the world would be better off if Israel and its nefarious Jewish inhabitants were blown off the map, so we could return to the peaceful, all-Arab, all-dictator Middle East, with all the liberal values that entails.

It is not difficult to understand why the first leaders of Israel, with the Holocaust experience written indelibly on their hearts and minds, and feeling surrounded by perceived threats to the fledgling state's existence, wanted the bomb.
Perceived threats. Perceived existential wars of annihilation against Israel. All those perceived armies perceived to cross the perceived border and perceived to attack the nascent state. I guess we have to try to understand the frothing paranoia of an immature state.

Preaching to Iran and others about not acquiring nuclear weapons is, indeed, like the village drunk preaching sobriety
Perhaps so, but giving the village drunk an open bottle of vodka and hoping he won't drink it isn't a good bet either.

Has everyone forgotten that deterrence worked for some 40 years, while for most of those years the U.S. and the USSR had not by any means lost their lust for ever-enhanced nuclear weapons?
Ah, deterrence. The Iranians, those shahid-lovin' mullahs, just like the Russians, will be deterred. What was that Sting song about the Russians loving their children too? Well the Iranians coaxed theirs out to the Iraqi border as human mine-sweepers. I'd like to believe the Iranians love their children too, but I love my own too much to fall for that without some evidence first.
Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: