Mythmaking for the Next War

John McCain's reckless foreign policy proposals

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious—that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did—John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Fort Knox for a sack of magic beans.

"Such a statement betrays the depth of Sen. Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment," exclaimed McCain. "These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess."

But if Iran is the Soviet Union, I'm Shaquille O'Neal. There is nothing reckless in soberly distinguishing large threats from small ones, and there is something foolhardy in grossly exaggerating the strength of your enemies.

As military powers go, Iran is a pipsqueak. It has no nuclear weapons. It has a pitiful air force. Its navy is really just a coast guard. It spends less on defense than Singapore or Sweden. Our military budget is 145 times bigger than Iran's.

By contrast, the Soviets had far more nuclear weapons than we did, a blue-water navy, formidable air power and ground forces that dwarfed ours. In a conventional war, it was anything but certain that we could prevail, and in a nuclear exchange, it was clear they could destroy us.

Iran is a very modest adversary. Of course, even a Chihuahua can bite. The U.S. government claims Iran has provided arms and training to Iraqi insurgents—never mind that it is allied with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

But it's worthwhile to remember that even bad regimes sometimes have understandable motivations. The United States helped overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and provided aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. If Iran sees an interest in bleeding the U.S. military, that is likely a defensive response to the presence of an avowed enemy on its border rather than a sign of aggressive intent.

Its actions in Iraq, however, are supposedly the least of the menace. McCain and many others are convinced that Iran will soon get nuclear weapons and proceed to use them.

The first claim overlooks the Bush administration's own National Intelligence Estimate, issued last year, which concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The NIE also said, "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

Even if Iran were to acquire atomic bombs, there is no reason to think it would use them or turn them over to terrorists. McCain, however, insists that Iran has "a commitment to Israel's destruction," and appears to think its leaders cannot be contained because of their religious fanaticism.

But as University of Michigan Middle East scholar Juan Cole has explained, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never vowed to "wipe Israel off the map"—an oft-quoted phrase that Cole says is a mistranslation of the milder words he used. In fact, he says, "Ahmadinejad has never threatened Israel with physical aggression," however much he would welcome its collapse.

Even if the Iranians would like to destroy Israel, they face a powerful disincentive: the prospect of radioactive incineration. The Tehran government has been intimidated by less. Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg writes in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine, "Iran agreed to a ceasefire in the war with Iraq once Iraqi missiles began falling on Tehran. The ayatollahs were willing to sacrifice soldiers—but not to pay a higher price." Even fanatics have their limits.

Nor would Iran be so irrational as to give nukes to a terrorist group. That would be the worst of both worlds— giving up control of those weapons, while inviting annihilation the moment they are put to use.

But there is no reasoning with McCain and his allies, who yearn for the simple clarity of the Cold War. If we don't have an enemy on the mammoth scale of the Soviet Union, they will take a pint-sized one, inflate it beyond recognition and pretend that military confrontation is the only way to deal with it.

That was how we got into the war in Iraq and how, under a McCain presidency, we are liable to end up in a war in Iran. If he's looking for reckless judgment, he should look in the mirror.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • Elemenope||

    IIRC, didn't it turn out that the USSR had far fewer warheads than we thought they had during the Cold War?

    Either way, [USSR:Iran::Tumor:Pimple on McCain's Ass].

    Good article.

  • jkp||

    Yet again, Chapman has misunderstood the issue he writes about. The problem being debated by McCain and Obama was not whether or not Iran was the same level of threat as the USSR, but whether or not presidential-level talks with Iran without preconditions were appropriate. BHO feels that they are, McCain does not.

    You do not have to agree with McCain on other issues to appreciate the fact that a Presidential meeting with Iran at this point would be little more than a propaganda victory for the likes of Ahmadinejad. Obama is dangerously naive to suggest otherwise. Chapman is similarly naive (or at least disingenuous) to misunderstand the issue at stake in this particular debate.

    Again, I grow weary of the strident "get McCain at all costs" tone that Mr. Welch has set for REASON. You don't have to support McCain, but if you're going to go after him, assign the task to someone like Dave Weigel, who is smart and can get to the heart of the issue. Don't outsource the job.

  • ||

    You do not have to agree with McCain on other issues to appreciate the fact that a Presidential meeting with Iran at this point would be little more than a propaganda victory for the likes of Ahmadinejad.

    I'm glad you know exactly what Obama would say and exactly how Iran would respond. It helps to have an Oracle in our midst.

  • jkp||

    Oh, and it's good to see that Obama has finally come around to McCain's point of view on this issue:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/22/barackobama.usforeignpolicy

    "Obama backs off from pledge to talk with Iran"
    # Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
    # The Guardian,
    # Thursday May 22 2008

    Barack Obama has begun to edge away from his offer to pursue talks with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after being hammered by Republicans as an "appeaser".

    Now on the cusp of securing the Democratic nomination, Obama yesterday continued to attack John McCain, his likely Republican opponent in November, over his hawkish foreign policy.

    "He has spent his last week describing his foreign policy as who he won't talk to," Obama told a rally in Florida yesterday.

    After Tuesday's primaries, in which Obama lost badly to Hillary Clinton in Kentucky but won well in Oregon, he is now just 65 delegates away from the Democratic nomination.

    But with the November election in his sights, Obama backed away from his promise last year to meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions during his first year in the White House.

    His campaign has stopped mentioning Ahmadinejad by name, and noting that there must be "preparations" for such an encounter.

    "He wants to talk to the Iranian leadership," Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor and Obama supporter told Fox television yesterday. "But he wants diplomatic preparation before doing that."

    On Tuesday, Obama's foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, told CNN that he did not necessarily mean he would meet Ahmadinejad when he offered to open talks with Iran. "He hasn't named who that leader will be," she said. "It may, in fact be that by the middle of next year, Ahmadinejad is long gone."

    The emerging position is much more guarded than Obama's pledge during a YouTube debate last July to meet the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without preconditions during his first year in the White House. It comes as Obama diverts his energies from the three remaining Democratic primary contests - in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana- to building up the coalitions he needs to win key swing states.

    Obama's three-day tour of Florida followed Tuesday's primaries.

    Clinton thrashed Obama in Kentucky, taking 65% of the vote against Obama's 30%. But the senator for Illinois racked up a big win in Oregon, with 58% of the vote against 42% for Clinton.

    Obama and Clinton did not campaign in Florida whose primary contest, along with Michigan's, was held in defiance of the Democratic national committee.

    Day one of the Florida tour was aimed at winning over Obama's most reliable supporters - African-American voters as well as young people - and reaching out to constituencies he will need to take the state: Orlando's Puerto Rican community as well as Jewish and elderly voters.

    Obama is scheduled to meet Cuban-American exiles on Friday, considered the most faithful Republican supporters.

    He is now poised to embark on a rigorous campaign tour through battleground states to win over the white working-class voters who so far have backed Clinton.

    His campaign is also rolling out a voter registration drive to increase the turnout among African-Americans who have voted overwhelmingly for Obama as well as secondary school students who are about to turn 18 and will be voting for the first time.

  • jkp||

    MP:

    It doesn't take omniscience. All it takes is a basic understanding of history.

    May I suggest that you start with Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War"? Walter Blanco put out a good modern translation a few years ago, that is much easier to read than the Crawley translation.

  • Fluffy||

    You do not have to agree with McCain on other issues to appreciate the fact that a Presidential meeting with Iran at this point would be little more than a propaganda victory for the likes of Ahmadinejad.

    1. Who gives a shit?

    2. It would be a bigger propaganda victory for the US.

    Showing up at talks - and making no concessions - costs us nothing more than the cost of gas for Air Force One. And whoever does it instantly says to the international diplomatic community "I'm not a worthless cunt like that bit of shit Bush." That's a vastly bigger propaganda victory for the US than anything Iran could achieve.

    In any event, even talking about propaganda victories is something that "Mr. Straight Talk Maverick Man of Honor" should not be doing. Nations that conduct themselves honorably don't have to worry about the propaganda victories of their adversaries. McCain would know that if his "Man of Honor" shtick wasn't the biggest piece of political bullshit on display in our sick and depraved media culture today.

  • ||

    May I suggest that you start with Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War"? Walter Blanco put out a good modern translation a few years ago, that is much easier to read than the Crawley translation.

    The one volume version of Kagan's history was just fine with me.

    And no, I don't think it's anywhere as obvious as you make it appear to be. Particularly since you have almost not idea what Obama would actually say.

    And, BTW, you're completely avoiding the centerpiece of Chapman's article, which was the McCain quote:

    "Such a statement betrays the depth of Sen. Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment," exclaimed McCain. "These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess."

  • ||

    Way off topic, but too funny to let go...

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/ea0b05d406

  • Abdul||

    Chapman wrote: Even if Iran were to acquire atomic bombs, there is no reason to think it would use them or turn them over to terrorists.

    Forty years ago, there was no reason to think that radical muslims would overthrow the Shah and attack an embassy. Attacks on embassies are almost unheard of in modern times.

    So, just in case, it might be safer if Iran never gets the bomb.

  • ||

    Forty years ago, there was no reason to think that radical muslims would overthrow the Shah and attack an embassy. Attacks on embassies are almost unheard of in modern times.

    I mean, why on earth would a populace reject an oppressive regime and its co-conspirators?

  • Abdul||

    MP,

    You can argue that an attack on diplomatic staff and holding non-combatants hostage for over a year is justified if you want to.

    My point is that elements of this Iranian regime have done things that are unprecedented in the modern world. These actions certainly weren't predicted by the likes of Steve Chapman. Therefore, the world would be a safer place if Iran didn't have nukes.

  • ||

    "If Iran sees an interest in bleeding the U.S. military, that is likely a defensive response to the presence of an avowed enemy on its border rather than a sign of aggressive intent."

    It does not matter what interests your enemy has in killing or harming you, it is still your enemy.

  • ||

    I have to weigh in against jkp on this one. There are many things misleading in your propaganda theory and your comments defending it. It doesn't take omniscience to see the faults in your future reading either.

    And no, Chapman didn't misunderstand what he was writing about. You misunderstood what he was writing about. McCain doesn't want to talk with Iran because he makes Iran out to be a future nuclear superpower with a deathwish.

    Also, I know I can just scroll down, but people here prefer it if you just linked to articles. Cutting and pasting may be fine in some forums, but it just doesn't cut it here.

  • ||

    The hubris in the McCain campaign over foreign policy is astounding.

    No matter how wrong they are on the facts, no matter how absurd their argument is, they still think it's 1984, and just by raising a military-related issue and saying mean things about the Democrat, they're going to carry the day.

    Well, it isn't working out like that anymore. John McCain is a smart and knowledgeable guy - a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than he's been letting on over the past couple of weeks - and he is in a good position to put forward a strong foreign policy position that contrasts with Barack Obama's in this campaign. But he'd better get started, because these reality-challenged haymakers he keeps throwing just keep setting him up for a counterpunch, losing him media cycles, and eroding his one genuine strength with the electorate.

  • ||

    So, just in case, it might be safer if Iran never gets the bomb.

    You only want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear wweapon? Let's get really serious about ensuring American's safety from the mad mullahs of Persia.

    We obviously need to invade. The precedent has been set. Direct military acion is warranted because Iran -

    1) Has embarked on a WMD developement program.
    2) Oppresses it's own people, e.g. Kurds, Christians, Sunnis, all women.
    3) Has provided financial as well as materiel aid to terrorist groups.
    4) Has oil. Therefore they can finance their own reconstruction after we blosw up their infrastructure.
    5) A military that's a mere 2x as capable as Iraq's was prior to Operation Iraqi liberation. It'll be a cakewalk.
    6) People yearnig to be free. They want to be delivered from the Islamo-fascist theocracy that stifles there freedom. We'll be greated as liberators.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • ||

    You can argue that an attack on diplomatic staff and holding non-combatants hostage for over a year is justified if you want to.

    How long have the folks in Gitmo been there? Before you even start clacking away at your keyboard, No, they are not all "enemy combatants".
    Do you have any difficulties justifying that?

  • ||

    Were I a McCain supporter, I'd want to change the subject, too, jkp.

    No, the "issue" this time is not about the talks with Iran. This is a different issue - McCain's ridiculous statement that Iran poses a threat of similar magnitude to that posed by the Soviet Union, and his mocking of Barack Obama for calling bullshit on him.

    It is beyond absurd to claim that the two are even roughly equivalent, and John McCain knows that. You know that, too, jkp, which is why you won't defend McCain's statement.

    This is political Kabuki theater, just like when the DC insider candidates pretended to be shocked by Obama's statement that he would order a strike inside Pakistan if there was actionable intelligence about Osama bin Laden and the Pakistanis wouldn't act. They didn't actually disagree with him; that is an utterly uncontroversial statement. They thought they could put on an act and tut tut about how naive he was, and of course it was going to work, because attacks on Democrats over foreign policy ALWAYS work, regardless of the substance behind them - or so they thought.

    Well, not this time, chief. And not for the "appeaser" attack. And now, not this. If McCain wants to have a fight about foreign and military policy,he'd better stop playing dumb, because Barack Obama is just making him look dumb.

    Oh, and btw, contrary to the wishful thinking of the right-wing, pro-war Guardian, Barack Obama has been explaining the difference between "pre-conditions" and "preparations" since last summer, and hasn't changed his stance on diplomacy even a hair in response to McCain's silly potshots. Why would he? He's winning the debate.

  • ||

    You can argue that an attack on diplomatic staff and holding non-combatants hostage for over a year is justified if you want to.

    He didn't say it was justified. He said it was predictable.

    It's not 2002, either. That shit don't represent no more.

  • Fluffy||

    Been thinking about the series of appeaser discussions we've had, and about the woeful historical ignorance many people have demonstrated regarding the events of the interwar period.

    It got me to pull out The Gathering Storm once again to check a few things out. Since this thread is about "appeasement", I'd like to share them.

    Churchill is quite plain that a critical moment in diplomatic history in the 30's was the Anschluss. This was the first act of open territorial aggrandizement that Hitler engaged in, since the Rhineland was already German territory and really doesn't count. Hitler's success with the Anschluss started the myth inside Germany of his unique diplomatic "genius", and did a lot to keep the German General Staff quiet as he doubled down this initial bet again and again in 38 and 39.

    And what people don't remember about the Anschluss, but which Churchill is kind enough to make clear, is that it could not happen and did not happen as long as Italy opposed it. Italy under Mussolini took a great interest in the security of Austria as an independent state, and when Mussolini decided to change tack and throw Austria to Hitler, it was a considerable diplomatic surprise. And you know what? Churchill indicates that the reason Mussolini threw Austria to Hitler is because he had attempted to negotiate with Britain regarding the sanctions put in place over the Abyssinia affair and had been denied. So Mussolini decided that he might be better off aligning his interests more closely with Germany, and Austria was the price of admission. So in a sense, failure to negotiate with Mussolini stripped Austria of her main protector and let Hitler out of the box in the first place.

    Churchill also points out that the power most anxious to stand up for Czechoslovakia in 1938 was the Soviet Union. Benes had [according to Churchill] informed Stalin of diplomatic gossip he had heard that indicated that Red Army officers were about to launch a coup; this "tip" triggered the Red Army purge and the show trials that followed, and Stalin felt personally responsible to stand up for Czechoslovakia after that. But when Stalin approached the Western Allies and called for a joint statement guaranteeing Czechoslovakia's borders, Chamberlain and the French balked, because they did not want to deal with Stalin. So in a sense, it was failure to negotiate with Stalin that allowed Hitler to gobble up Czechoslovakia.

    I'm just relating all this because Churchill is usually held up by foreign policy hawks as the definitive "non-appeaser", but there were junctures at which he favored negotiating with one adversary in order to gain strategic advantage against another. The entire tangled history also illustrates very nicely that it's very easy to draw lines in the sand in inopportune places.

  • Ali||

    If Cesar's cover had not been blown, we would be enjoying the company of Neil now.

  • Episiarch||

    contrary to the wishful thinking of the right-wing, pro-war Guardian

    This is sarcasm, right?

  • leTerrassier||

    I think if pro-war people want to be taken seriously they need to just tell the truth:
    "We should invade Iran because they are different then us, and have oil which is valuable to us, and will make us richer."
    There, it's not one hundred percent accurate, but it's at least more honest then this 'they want to makes BOMBS!' bullshit.

  • ||

    McCain, however, insists that Iran has "a commitment to Israel's destruction,"

    And this is all that really matters.



    To some people.

  • leTerrassier||

    And those people are Israelis, who's opinions unfortunately matter far more to American politicians then Americans. Go figure.

  • Fluffy||

    John McCain is a smart and knowledgeable guy - a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than he's been letting on over the past couple of weeks

    If that's true, then that means that his various ongoing misstatements [about who the actual ultimate authority is in Iran; his characterization of all insurgent groups in Iraq, including Shia groups, as "Al-Qaeda in Iraq"] aren't gaffes, they're deliberate falsehoods.

    McCain either is a dope who doesn't know what he's talking about half the time, or he thinks that "Straight Talk" means "If I think the truth is too complicated to explain, it's OK to deliberately oversimplify in misleading ways that happen to push the buttons of uninformed voters".

    So which is it, McCain guys?

  • Sam||

    threat = power * probability of its use
    yes, power of Iran is MUCH less than power or USSR.
    but Iran is MUCH more likely to use whatever power it has, so its threat may be comparable to that of USSR.

  • Ali||

    but Iran is MUCH more likely to use whatever power it has, so its threat may be comparable to that of USSR.

    Substantiate please.

  • ||

    but Iran is MUCH more likely to use whatever power it has

    Yeah, I mean look at how many wars and overt operations they've started in the last 30 years.

    Oh...you mean they've done nothing more (relative to their size) than our own CIA?

    But still...they're MUCH more likely...to what? Go boo?

  • Abdul||

    I disagree that an attack on an embassy was either predictable or justified. While protests, and occasional riots, happen outside embassies, governments generally respect the diplomatic immunity of other nations. Iran--alone of all nations with gripes against the US or other nations--trounced the international conventions regarding diplomatic immunity in a way that is without parallel in modern history.

    J sub D--why do you think that my saying that Iran shouldn't be allowed to have nukes necessarily equals invading Iran? Both the EU and UN oppose Iran getting nukes. Neither favors an invasion.

  • Ali||

    Abdul- It is my understanding that Iran itself says it does not seek nuclear weapons. So the EU says Iran shouldn't be allowed to get nuclear weapons, Iran never said it wants weapons, but somehow, somewhere, it is implied that Iran wants nuclear weapons. The only entity claiming that Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons are the neocons.

  • ||

    jkp | May 22, 2008, 7:25am | #

    Have to agree with your comments.

  • Abdul||

    The nobel-prize winning neocons at the International Atomic Energy Agency?

    From the IAEA's website: "The IAEA's last report on Iran back in February contained intelligence showing the Islamic republic had engaged in studies, engineering work and procurement relevant to the design and weaponisation of a nuclear device."

    Link: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5i65oo-h-CbLI1xSUhozzc89zP-kQ

  • ||

    Obama is unimpressive, particularly when it comes to foreign policy statements, but anyone who will argue that the threats we face today compare to those we faced during the Cold War is either (1) young and naïve or (2) too partisan for his own good.

    This is not to say that lesser dangers should be ignored, but we should not be acting like this is Cold War II. It's not even within an order of magnitude as dangerous today as it was then. We're lucky not to be driving around wearing leather outfits in cars with gas tanks wired to explode if tampered with.

  • Ali||

    Doing work "relevant to the design and weaponisation of a nuclear device" does not equal actual making weapons. Plus, there is always dual use. The stuff you need to engineer to have nuclear power is necessary, but not sufficient, for the making of weapons.

  • ||

    This is sarcasm, right?

    No, Episiarch, it is not. The Guardian has been a screeching, pro-war, pro-Bush, pro-Operation Iraqi Freedom, pro-neocon publication for years.

    Fluffy,

    I agree, McCain is being deliberately disingenuous, and doing so in the almost exactly the same way as Bush/Cheney in 2002-2003. Lying about connections between al Qaeda and the next country he wants to attack. Deliberately conflating different movements, ideologies, and groups in the Muslim world. Contradicting and spinning intelligence. Throwing around misplaces accusations of appeasement. And skipping rational, informed debate entirely, in an effort to try to turn the argument into a debate over the moral and masculine shortcomings of anyone who disputes his imperialist vision.

  • ||

    Obama is unimpressive, particularly when it comes to foreign policy statements

    He's been looking good mainly in comparison to the stale, 2002-consensus foreign policy vision of his opponents, and their passionate commitment to the pursuit of cheap shots and gotcha moments over substantive, principled statements.

    Particularly since the gotchas keep falling so flat.

  • ||

    Doing work "relevant to the design and weaponisation of a nuclear device" does not equal actual making weapons. Plus, there is always dual use.

    Plus there's the fact that there's no credible evidence that Iran seeks nuclear armaments for any purpose beyond defensive use.

    And with all the saber rattling being done by McCain et. al., who's to blame them?

  • Rhywun||

    It does not matter what interests your enemy has in killing or harming you, it is still your enemy.

    How many decades has United States foreign policy been all about creating enemies around the world and years later having to mop up the mess? Enough already.

  • ||

    I don't know that I agree that Obama looks better so much as he looks bad in different ways. However, I do agree that a couple of the recent gotcha moments haven't been well thought out. Though I'm not sure he handled the response to those so well, either. I thought he backed off a bit on the U.S.S.R. > Islamic terror. If so, he shouldn't have.

  • ||

    It does not matter what interests your enemy has in killing or harming you, it is still your enemy.

    Right. They were born orcs, we were born elves, and it is naive to think there is any way forward except killing the big Bad Guy on level 36 and living happily ever after.

  • ||

    but Iran is MUCH more likely to use whatever power it has

    Yeah, I mean look at how many wars and overt operations they've started in the last 30 years.


    They haven't had the power to start wars or conduct overt operations. This hasn't stopped them from destabilizing the region (Lebanon, support for the insurgency in Iran, etc.)

    Oh...you mean they've done nothing more (relative to their size) than our own CIA?

    I wasn't aware that the CIA was sponsoring an insurgency against an elected government that has killed tens of thousands of civilians. What country is that in?

    I also wasn't aware that the CIA was sponsoring extra-legal militias conducting rocket attacks across one border while working a slow-motion coup against another elected government. What country is that?

    C'mon, people. Lets stop pretending the Iranian regime is some essentially benign group of monks who haven't been engaged in an aggressive campaign of regional subversion and destabilization in pursuit of their own interests and aggrandizement for decades.

  • Abdul||

    Doing work "relevant to the design and weaponisation of a nuclear device" does not equal actual making weapons. Plus, there is always dual use. The stuff you need to engineer to have nuclear power is necessary, but not sufficient, for the making of weapons.

    So why is Iran stonewalling the IAEA?

    Becuase if news of their peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy got out, there would be a precipitous jump in Iranians buying appliances to run off the free and abundant energy thereby provided, and Iran wishes to have a stabilize its toaster-oven industry and avoid a repeat of the French Foreman Grill Bubble of 1973.

  • Fluffy||

    Allowing "students" to seize the Tehran embassy was a disreputable act that broke the rules of diplomacy. Very true.

    Tell me, what sort of act was it to refuse to extradite a mass murderer and thief? Reputable or disreputable?

  • Ali||

    R C Dean-

    Not wanting to fight the Iranians does not mean we think Iran's leadership is a bunch of monks. For heck's sake they're not. In fact I favor a regime change, but not through foreign intervention a la many failed regime changes (remember Mosadegh in Iran?). It has to happen, and it will happen, internally through much less painful means to us and the Iranian people.

  • Abdul||

    Mp:

    c'mon. You're agreeing that Iran only wants nukes for energy, but if Iran did happen to have a secret weapons program, it's McCain's fault for saying they have a secret weapons program.

  • Sam Grove||

    Therefore, the world would be a safer place if Iran didn't have nukes.

    The world would be a safer place if no nation had nuke. The question for Iran is whether Iran would be safer if they had nukes.

    If this is the key point of U.S. foreign policy, then why did Bush refrain from invading North Korea?

    Obviously then, the idea of Iran attaining nukes is a red flag waved over the electorate in an attempt to cow the populace into selecting McCain over Obama.

  • Fluffy||

    That reminds me: speaking of appeasement, it would have been "appeasement" for Carter to wrap the Shah up in a sack and hand him over to the Islamic Revolution to face richly-deserved punishment for his many crimes.

    Had he done that, it's quite likely that we would have reached an accomodation with Iran's new government, that the "Great Satan" slogans on the walls would have been painted over, and our strategic position in the Middle East [and overall stability in the region as a whole] would have been enhanced for decades to come.

    Too bad Carter wasn't an appeaser.

  • Ali||

    So why is Iran stonewalling the IAEA?

    Iraq stonewalled the IAEA. Did they have anything actually to hide? To the best of my knowledge, WMDs have not been found yet (and don't give me any of that BS about transporting it outside the country).

    So maybe, some nations do have reasons to stonewall the IAEA, the UN, etc, for reasons other than having something to hide. May I suggest national sovereignty and pride? it is stupid, but true.

  • Fluffy||

    Iran claims they stopped cooperating with the UN and IAEA when the UN started issuing edicts demanding that Iran surrender its right to pursue nuclear power under the terms of the NonProliferation Treaty.

    The Security Council nations are all signatories to that treaty. So with their left hand they signed up for a treaty regime that says that Iran, like every other nation, has the right to develop nuclear power, including the enrichment of fuel. But with their right hand, they use the Security Council to demand that Iran not actually exercise the rights ceded to it by treaty.

    So Iran says, "Go fuck yourselves, UN." Makes sense to me.

  • ||

    RC,

    After the last seven years, it still hasn't occurred to you that opposition to a hawkish foreign policy can be based on something other than sympathy for a hostile country's government?

  • ||

    Nationalistic, conservative, hawkish Americans shaking their heads in wonder about why anybody would tell the UN to go stuff it.

    Now that's funny.

  • Abdul||

    Iran claims they stopped cooperating with the UN and IAEA when the UN started issuing edicts demanding that Iran surrender its right to pursue nuclear power under the terms of the NonProliferation Treaty.

    Just another example of how the UN is in the hands of neocons hankering for a war.

    Poor, innocent, misunderstood Iran. It's murders skip town without being returned. The UN and IAEA gang up on it with unreasonable demands. McCain rattles his sabers. Even Obama calls them a "grave threat!"

    How can we blame them if they want nuclear energy to play violin solos on their CD players as they cry themselves to sleep? And hey, if one of those CD players turned out to be a nuclear bomb, who could blame them either?

  • Ali||

    Abdul- I answered your question at 11:03, why don't you answer mine?

  • Ali||

    And, Abdul, as I said at 11:00, not wanting escalation with Iran does not equate to sympathizing with them. It is never "with us or against us". Not being with you does not mean I am against you. I am only against the stupidity that you and the neocons could get us into. Period.

  • ||

    c'mon. You're agreeing that Iran only wants nukes for energy, but if Iran did happen to have a secret weapons program, it's McCain's fault for saying they have a secret weapons program.

    How does "defensive use" = "nukes for energy"? Last I checked, "defensive use" = "don't invade our territory, else you risk a nuclear retaliation".

    C'mon, people. Lets stop pretending the Iranian regime US government is some essentially benign group of monks who haven't been engaged in an aggressive campaign of regional International subversion and destabilization coercion in pursuit of their own interests and aggrandizement for decades.

    There. Fixed.

    And BTW, I was debating activity, not methodology.

    And BTW, '80's US/Saddam is a prime example of US covert operations doing things in manner not so different from Iran/Hamas.

  • ||

    Yawn.

    Can't argue the facts, so everyone else is naive and weak.

    Go tell it to Donald Rumsfeld, time traveler.

  • ||

    Even Obama calls them a "grave threat!"

    You mean, you can consider something a grave threat, and not consider the re-enactment of the Iraq War to be a good way to deal with it?

    Get out!

  • ||

    Mr. Chapman, you make several good points. We should not overstate the threat from Iran. One only need to look to recent events -- i.e., the exaggeration of Iraq's WOMD capabilities -- to see how such overstatements can birth bad defense policy.

    Iran, however, is threatening the stability of the Middle East by funding and arming insurgents in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    With regards to the recent debate between McCain and Obama about having presidential talks with Iran without preconditions, I believe Obama's proposed method of diplomacy would be a mistake. Diplomacy, especially between nations that regard each other as potential enemies, is often a game. Having presidential talks without preconditions with Iran would be like saying "OK, you have our attention now. Let's talk." In other words, it's giving in to the threats --whether they be made through Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, troop movements, or otherwise -- made by Iran, and this could be potentially be seen as a weakness on the part of the U.S.

    Furthermore, and on a different point, I feel like Reason is taking a anti-McCain stance without properly addressing Obama's weaknesses. This is a libertarian publication, correct? How about some more articles about Obama's anti-capitalistic economic policies? Obama is out glad-handing union bosses, supporting the subsidization of corporate farms, and pushing a protectionist agenda -- all are actions that threaten the effectiveness of our free market. Lately, however, I feel that Reason has put the greatest emphasis on McCain's defense and foreign policy stances instead of examining the proposed economic plans of both Senators McCain and Obama.

  • ||

    Don't ya know we needs a new enemy? Always a new enemy for the "long war"! We needs new enemies for the long war, as Iraq is such a success. Demi-gahd Petraeus sayz so! Bushies sayz so! McCainies sayz so! We needs an enemy! Islamo-fascist enemies, Persian-like and weird and non-white and crazy and anti-Israel! Gotta get some Jews mad! Gotta get some neo-cons skirts ruffled and crazy-like!

  • ||

    Did talking with Kim Jong-Il last year make us look weak?

    Yes. And it made us look a lot weaker than if we'd taken the same deal six years earlier.

  • ||

    I'd like to drive at something more important than simply whether IRAN = USSR. It doesn't, but it also doesn't follow that we should not be concerned about it as a potential threat to further destablize an already shaky region.

    The Pro-OBAMA stance on a "libertarian" website is disappointing. If REASON and/or "libertarians" support Obama they will get exactly the opposite of freedom.

    Obama and what looks to be an overwhelming Democratic house and perhaps Senate come 2009 would result in a new socialist state. A dangerous mix. Higher Capital Gains, More Taxes, more Hand-Outs.

    Obama hasn't a drop of Libertarian in his blood. He is a socialist. He even admits to it in speeches, and his own books.

    McCain, admittedly is not better in many ways, so please don't assume I support him either.

    Obama and a Democratic congress under Pelosi would devastate an already weakened economy, and there lack of understanding of global issues including FREE TRADE, would send us backwards in time!

  • Jared Hagan||

    Pham, with regards to your statements about Iran, you are right. Their support of non-governmental militias throughout the region is much more important that any extant or imaginary nuclear weapons program. Now since this is an American Libertarian publication, it is important to remember that the American Constitution would frown upon the kind of interventionism that McCain proposes. I think it's a safe call that the the Bush style foreign policy that McCain advocates is a greater concern than any "anti-capitalistic" policy that Obama supports. The Republican party is just as anti-capitalistis as the Democrats. It's just been made easy to conflate their corporate welfare for free market policy because of effective propaganda.

    In any case, trade with Lebanon and such positive influences in the region will do much more to remedy our problems than more guns and bombs. Since McCain seems to see everything in terms of us vs. them, what greater tactic than to convert an asset of your opponent to be one of your own.

    By the way, Islamofascism is the great straw man in this generation of American foreign policy. Somewhere along the line, someone made a tacit connection between Baathists and the Nazis, and it's been one big hand-waiving motion after another. There is no such thing as a monolithic fascist force in the middle east. It's much easier to farm political capital when you have a shadowy enemy that needs fighting. Proposing effective foreign policy centered around proper trade and good faith is most of the time political suicide.

  • Jared Hagan||

    MRB, the thing is you have to pick someone. Obama is no socialist. The Democratic party wouldn't know true socialism if it bit them on the face. When Clinton opposed freezing interest payments, Obama promoted a much more sane subsidy system for down and out borrowers. So I think I'd much rather have a president willing to bend the market in favor of working class people like myself. Face it, the Republicans are only interested in the markets as far as it can gain them favor with their corporate cronies. McCain is just as far away from Friedman, if not farther than Obama.

  • ||

    Jared:

    Socialism over Capitalism! Lets be clear that is what you advocated. The Foreign Policy under Bush and potentially McCain is dangerous and mostly stupid, I agree 100%!

    I also agree, that the republicans and cooperate welfare are wrong! However, the recent farm bill is just one such example of a domestic and foreign policy blunder of epic proportions led by the dems. Get ready for more NEW DEALs, and more programs that the government will "solve our problems."

    Farm subsidy = Rising food prices, less economic stability in poor regions in the world = more regional conflict. Whenever food is scare regional conflict goes on the rise. Is this good Foreign policy?

    Do people on the site actually understand Obama's positions? Have you looked at his voting record? Have you read his books? He's more socialist than FDR! He's not going to change a single thing in Washington, he's a far-left liberal. Our energy should de directed at getting the libertarian voice raised so we can get more people in at local and region levels, and grow the party. Wasting votes on McCain's and Obama weakens, and sets further in stone, bad policy. Anti-FREE TRADE is the worst foreign policy position one can have.

    Hearts and Minds is how you make global change, whether it is popular or not!

  • ||

    Obama and what looks to be an overwhelming Democratic house and perhaps Senate come 2009 would result in a new socialist state. A dangerous mix. Higher Capital Gains, More Taxes, more Hand-Outs.

    Still cheaper than a never ending sand war.

    Contrary to your opinion, I don't think anyone on this site is harboring illusions about Obama. The priorities are:

    1) Out of Iraq.
    2) Punish the GOP for fundamentally betraying its libertarian constituency.

    However, the recent farm bill is just one such example of a domestic and foreign policy blunder of epic proportions led by the dems.

    The farm bill did not pass without GOP support. Significant GOP support. A MAJORITY of the GOP representatives in Washington.

    The GOP has monumentally failed to live up to expectations.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Had [Carter handed over Pahlavi to the mullahs], it's quite likely that we would have reached an accomodation with Iran's new government, that the "Great Satan" slogans on the walls would have been painted over, and our strategic position in the Middle East [and overall stability in the region as a whole] would have been enhanced for decades to come.



    Yeah, but then every piss ant dictator we supported due to realpolitik would have realized that their position wasn't safe should their crimes come back to haunt them. How would we have kept them in line then?

  • Abdul||

    Ali,

    What question? Let's see, after I proved you wrong about only neocons assuming Iran has a nuclear weapons program, you seemed to ask whether there could be reasons (pride, etc.) for booting weapons inspectors other than having a secret weapons program?

    Sure, those could be reasons. But just because Iraq blocked inspections to hide the fact that they had nothing to hide doesn't mean it's logical to assume everyone who blocks inspections has nothing to hide. Others on this thread seem to think it's in Iran's best interests to have a nuculear weapons program, Iran won't let the IAEA find out if they have a program, all the evidence the IAEA has seen points to a weapons program. Maybe, just maybe, they have one?

    To pre-empt your next question and to respond to joe:

    Just because an invasion of Iran is one way to prevent their nuke program from getting off the ground doesn't mean that I think it is the only way or the best way. Even if I were so inclined--which I'm not--I'm realistic enough to see that Bush blew America's credibility on invading countries without some rock-solid provocation.

    There's a wide spectrum of options between invasions and precondition-less talks.

  • ||

    MP:

    Socialism is cheaper than ending the war? Show me the data!

    The long term effects of setting new socialist policy, hand outs, and welfare will cost. SS, Medicare, and Medicaid were all meant as "Band-Aids" by FDR, and now they are over-inflated failed programs.

    "Punish the GOP for fundamentally betraying its libertarian constituency."

    Punishing each other (Dem vs. GOP) is exactly why we have the nonsense politics since the 60's, with the Vietnam Era polarizing politicians who are soooo vengeful they accomplish nothing! Punishing is the reason Bush went into Iraq. Revenge is NOT A POLTICAL philosophy, nor is it consistent with the rational approach to obtain the most free, government out of my business society.

    Since when is the libertarian platform all about Punishing, and IRAQ.

    No, it is about Freedom. Socialism is NOT freedom. Obama WILL BE THE next Jimmy Carter. He's naive and so are you to think he will bring anything remotely to this nation, except a few smiles on the faces of some of most liberal our nation has bred.

  • ||

    Since when is the libertarian platform all about Punishing, and IRAQ.

    We're talking about choosing between the GOP and the Democrats. The GOP has proven, quite definitively over the course of GWB's term, that they are completely unconcerned with limiting the growth of the state and its socialist programs. So since the GOP and the Donkeys are functionally equivalent in that regard, you have to vote where the real difference lies.

    And that difference lies in foreign policy, particularly Iraq. And in that case, the Democrats are far closer to libertarian non-interventionalism than the GOP is.

    You don't truly believe that a vote for the GOP anywhere near approximates a vote for fiscal responsibility, or a vote for policies of limited government, do you?

    And if you think that a vote for McCain is not a vote for the GOP, then...well...you are entirely mistaken.

  • ||

    While protests, and occasional riots, happen outside embassies, governments generally respect the diplomatic immunity of other nations.

    Yes, just like the US respected the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

  • ||

    @MP

    Still cheaper than a never ending sand war.

    Well, it's possible McCain still could be the cheaper option. Recalling Vietnam, that war ended when the Democratic congress pulled the funding for it out from under Nixon. Given that we're certain to end up with a Dem congress, it's more likely they'd be inclined to yank funding out from under a Republican than a Democrat. Consider we still have no firm commitment from Obama about when he intends to end this war.

    Of course, in politics noting is guaranteed.

  • ||

    Yhey haven't had the power to start wars or conduct overt operations. This hasn't stopped them from destabilizing the region (Lebanon, support for the insurgency in Iran, etc.)

    Are you kidding me? You are blaming Iran for destabilizing Iraq as if Iraq was not invaded and currently being occupied by US forces?

    As for Lebanon, Iran is involved in Lebanon as much as Israel, Saudi, Syria, France, and the US. Why blame them and give a pass for the other?

  • Abdul||

    anon,

    I usually refrain from ad hominem attacks, but I believe you've brought up the Chinese embassy in Belgrade because you're disingenuous or you're dumber than a sack of doorknobs.

  • ||

    I never said the GOP was anything close to FISCALLY responsible, nor did I claim in my original post that McCain was "my vote."

    What I am getting at is that we are wasting our time and energy choosing lesser evils instead of growing libertarian causes from the ground up.

    You and the others (apparantly some of the Editors on this very "LIBERTARIAN" website) want Obama. Fine, vote for him. Cast a vote for Socialism, and I'll sit back and watch you eat sweet sweet Crow in 4 yrs when you are happy we left IRAQ but pissed that we have more government entitlements, a Universal Health Care system, and an inept policy towards taxation.

    Here is a brilliant idea : "Raise Capital Gains Taxes, Raise taxes on investors". Who's idea is that....Obama. You never succeed to free and strengthen an economy when capital gains are above 20%.

    IRAQ is an important issue, and to assume that Obama can solve that problem is silly. Yes, McCain is likely to keep us firmly planted in IRAQ for more time. Neither are going to solve IRAQ. But one issue isn't this election.

    One issue, IRAQ. That is how you are voting. I won't be voting for OBAMA or McCain. They are both unacceptable. Lesser evils aren't rational choices.

    Either you are a libertarian or you are just pretending to be one. Obama is a socialist. This website, and its purported supporter are hypocrits if they cast a vote for that man. He will offer nothing but maybe troop pull out. The rest will be a hefty dish of socialism, and with a Dem congress to create it, you can't tell me government won't get bigger under his watch!

    Wow...."Free Markets and Free Minds"...Somehow I can't stomach that statement now. Change it, if Obama is the guy Reason is going to support.

  • ||

    Hey chuckles...

    A) Don't use my handle.

    B) Don't assume that all debates involving choosing the better of Obama vs. McCain reflects actual voting preferences.

    C) Don't make me drink. I'm dieting.

  • Ali||

    Abdul-

    Good that you agree that is a wide spectrum of options, including military force, but also including negotiation. For goodness sake, Israel is talking to the Syrians right now. We don't we?

    Now, my next question: Lets say they do get the bomb. Do you really believe they'll use it? Probably only as a negotiating card, I agree. But do you really believe they'll use it? So that the US and Israel nuke the hell out of them to the stone age? Get real.

  • Ali||

    My second "use it" refers to using the bomb in bombing someone else, as opposed to using it as a negotiating card.

  • Z||

    The GOP is the party of crony capitalism, NOT free markets. look at haliburton, the oil companies, the way blackwater came to be etc. Its all about rewarding your friends in business - not about creating an open market where Anybody can compete.

    With Obama I expect to see more money spent on social programs, but I also expect to see a diminishment of crony capitalism and finely tuned tax laws that are essentially made to favor one corporation.

    The socialism you fear may be accompanied by an increrase in the freedom of markets as well.

  • Fluffy||

    Whoa whoa whoa.

    Who's "for Obama"?

    I will vote for the LP candidate.

    Now, I will be tickled pink if McCain is denied the Presidency by exactly the number of votes that the LP candidate gets, but that's different than being "for Obama".

    But all this "booga booga booga he's a SOCIALIST" noise is pretty weak. The world was supposed to end in 92 when Bill Clinton became President, too, and the Clinton presidency was much more benign from the perspective of libertarianism on its worst day than the Bush presidency has been on its best.

    So the answer to "when did libertarianism become about punishing the GOP" is "when that rat bastard Bush made it so".

    "Booga booga booga SOCIALIST ENTITLEMENTS!" The Medicare prescription drug benefit.

    "Booga booga booga CAPITAL GAINS TAXES WILL GO UP A FEW POINTS!" Trillions of dollars in new debt.

    A vote for anyone whose first order of business is not denouncing the 43rd President of the United States and all his works is a vote for socialism. So unless McCain gets up in Minneapolis and says, "Our first order of business is to denounce the sitting President and to spit on all he has done!" I don't want to hear anyone coming around trying to scare me with the scary black man who wrote the scary book about scary socialism.

  • Fluffy||

    But just because Iraq blocked inspections to hide the fact that they had nothing to hide doesn't mean it's logical to assume everyone who blocks inspections has nothing to hide.

    Just days ago, the head of the IAEA reiterated that there is concrete Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jHz-Bz3Pa0Ivga_oNIvTbrBoIN7QD90PK5180

    Iran refuses to cooperate any further with the IAEA, but that's not the same as it being proven Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

    It is every bit as reasonable to assume that Iran's refusal to cooperate with the IAEA is based on the fact that the UN is using the IAEA to make demands on Iran that go beyond its actual treaty obligations.

    Again, to reiterate, WE ARE A SIGNATORY TO A DOCUMENT that says that Iran can develop nuclear power, and can enrich its own fuel. Iran made efforts to buy fuel, and we thwarted those efforts diplomatically. So Iran now insists it will enrich its own fuel, as it is absolutely entitled to do under treaty. But despite the treaty we signed, we want there to be a special set of rules for Iran, rules that aren't present in the treaty, because we don't like Iran and because Israel doesn't like Iran. We have been using the UN Security Council and the IAEA as a mechanism to attempt to impose those additional rules that have no basis in international law. Why should Iran cooperate?

  • Fluffy||

    Whoops, I typed over my own sentence. That should read:

    Just days ago, the head of the IAEA reiterated that there is no concrete evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

  • ||

    I hope you like Crow. I hear that a really sweet entre will be prepared come 2012.

    Obama is not the answer. McCain is not either! But I am sick and tired of people saying that McCain = Bush. That is false. Perhaps on IRAQ, but in many areas he is not Bush. Lets stop the emotional drubbing of GWB, and think about how to get libertarians more votes! Seriously...this Obama love fest has to stop! The anti-Bush was Kerry. He lost! He wasn't even that good! Anti-Bush isn't a solution!


    Revenge isn't rational, especially when we all agree that we want solutions. PUNISH the GOP, that mantra is just counterproductive!

    How about Punishing the Pelosi Dems for the crap they haven't accomplished since 2006. Don't make me quote them after their victory. Pelosi" We are going to change Washington", we promise!"

    Why hasn't she been held accountable! She's been piss poor! Show me what they have done. For one, the FARM SUBSIDY. They cornered the GOP and got another wasteful program into the books. And yes the GOP is resonsible for that vote, as well as more spending! I don't give those idiots a pass either. Obama supported that bill, McCain did not, and the food stamps therein! Food Stamps are socialism! But he's not Socialist. Since when is this a one issue election.

    One thing to remember. Tax Cuts! Do you want them or not! If you are happy to pay more, then vote DEM! I'll be voting 3rd Party.

  • ||

    I'd like to drive at something more important than simply whether IRAN = USSR. It doesn't, but it also doesn't follow that we should not be concerned about it as a potential threat to further destablize an already shaky region.

    Indeed. It is precisely because of this concern that we need to bring our diplomatic service to bear on the problem. Talking tough and letting them bog us down in Iraq isn't getting it done.

  • ||

    Abdul, do you know what the term "preconditions" means in diplomatic parlance?

    Do you know how it differs from "preparations?"

  • ||

    Who are these never-before-seen trolls who descend in numbers on every McCain foreign policy thread, and desperately try to change the subject to ZOMG TEH SOCIALISM?

    Every single thread, this happens. Go back and look.

  • Fluffy||

    McCain voted for budget after budget proposed by Bush that dramatically increased government spending and ran up the national debt.

    A desperate attempt is being made by the GOP to recast this election as small government vs. big government, but no GOP candidate who failed to fight the President every day for the last 8 years can credibly carry that torch any more.

    It actually makes me LESS likely to vote for McCain when I hear him talk about small government. Hearing the words come out of his mouth makes me sick. It's like listening to Joe Stalin read the mission statement of the ACLU.

  • MRB||

    Joe:

    To address you Trolls comment, and that I disengaged the issue at hand.

    McCain's Foreign Policy understanding is far superior to a 2yr Senator wannabe JFK. And remember JFK near f-ed up the COLD WAR! He was far from the hero that many American's see him!

    That being said this IRAN = USSR article grossly oversimplifies the issues. IRAN isn't USSR, but they do pose a threat in the event that they pass a weapon to a JIHADist, or a rogue organization. If we don't think we can assume this is the cold war, then we should apply that argument to the potential threat as well. Not all large threats are COLD WAR like...I think there is a threat of a dirty bomb, getting into Europe, Israel, or even inside the US. That kind of damage would be troubling.

    Obama "wants to sit down" and talk with these people. That's simply brilliant policy as well. Is he serious???

    McCain/Obama = More of the same!

  • Abdul||

    Lets say they do get the bomb. Do you really believe they'll use it?

    It goes back to my original point. No one thought that protests against American meddling in Iran in the 50's would lead to the violation of diplomatic sanctity in 1979. Others on this thread, arguing the pro-Iranian cause, have said that the current regime could be overthrown without American intervention. IF that happens, what's to say the bomb will be safe in the intervening chaos or in the next regime?

    What if there's a way to get a nuke into Israel or the US that leaves plausible deniability about where it came from? Could the US really nuke a country based on conflicting intelligence reports? Especially after the mistakes you pointed out which led to the Iraq war?

    While I understand there are plenty of deterrents against Iran using a nuke, the best deterrent is to make sure they don't have one.

  • ||

    McCain's Foreign Policy understanding is far superior to a 2yr Senator wannabe JFK.

    Apparently not. He doesn't seem to know that al Qaeda and the Tehran government are in a state of war. He doesn't seem to know that the Iranian President doesn't control foreign policy. He didn't seem to know, prior to the Iraq War, the difference between jihadists and Baathists. He thought that the war in Iraq was over after the capture of Baghdad, pointing to the Mission Accomplished banner as proof. He doesn't seem to realize that "al Qaeda in Iraq" is not the same group as the bin Laden organization. And now, he doesn't seem to know that Iran 2008 is less of a threat than the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I keep hearing what a brilliant foreign policy mind the old man has, but it seems to be one of those arguments, like "Hillary Clinton has a lot of White House experience" that is widespread, but can't stand up to scrutiny.

  • ||

    IRAN isn't USSR, but they do pose a threat in the event that they pass a weapon to a JIHADist, or a rogue organization.

    MRB, you do know that international jihadism is a Sunni, mainly Wahabbist, phenomenon, right? And that Iran is Shia? And that the jihadists are at war with the "apostate" Iranians?

    You do know that the Taliban slaughtered the Iranian embassy staff in Kabul after they took the city, right?

    You do know that the Russians, who are providing the Iranians with their nuclear technology, are fighting their own war against a Muslim country in Chechnya, and that international jihadists have already carried out terror attacks in Russia right?

  • ||

    Do you have a list citing Obama's Foreign policy experience. Please provide that data! I'd love to see it! You can list McCain's mistakes, but can you show me Obama's brilliant experience and knowledge.

    Oh, I forgot, he lived in Indonesia as a kid! Damn he's soooo damn amazing.

    Looks these two are both incompetent! Lets not pretend Obama or McCain are anything but...

  • ||

    You do know that the same arguments, about the new nuclear power being so much less rational than the Soviets, were also made about Mad Man Mao, right? And that Nixon went to China, as the Great Cultural Revolution was in full swing, and cut a deal that vastly improved our security and global power?

    Iran is not as scary as you are determined to make it out to be, and even if it were, that would be no reason to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that a continuation of Bush's "We don't talk to evil" foreign policy is going to work any better in advancing our security over the next eight years than it has over the past eight.

  • ||

    I am aware of what a Jihadist is? And I do know the differences.

    What I am refering to is the idea that Iran wouldn't consider passing a bomb to a friend to make something happen. To deny that they wouldn't seems folish.

    This is a leader who openly denies the Holocaust every happened. You make it seem as if Iran is led by a normal, peaceful competent regime.

  • ||

    MRP, for the love of Pete, figure out how to comment without using someone else's alias.

  • MRB||

    Joe:

    Oops, typing too fast! My bad. [The post 311 was MRB's]

  • ||

    Do you have a list citing Obama's Foreign policy experience.

    He voted against the Iraq War, and cosponsored the bill revitalizing the Nunn-Lugar bill to keep Russia's loose nukes off the market.

    Right there, I have proven Barack Obama to have better foreign policy judgement than John McCain, who still thinks we should have fought the Vietnam War for another decade.

    Oh, but you asked about "experience." You want experience, write in Rumsfeld/Feith.

  • ||

    This is a leader who openly denies the Holocaust every happened.

    It is also a leader who has no control of either Iran's foreign policy, or its nuclear arsenal.

    You make it seem as if Iran is led by a normal, peaceful competent regime.

    I defy you to find a single word I have written to back up that statement.

    Lemme give you a hint: comparing someone to Mao Zedong at the height of the Great Cultural Revolution is not, in fact, an endorsement of their normality, peaceableness, or competence.

  • ||

    Vote for Obama. Do it! You and rest will see what a Carter-like Foreign policy looks like! Enjoy him. Heck, Cheer the "Man of Change" on! He's simply the best man for the job, right? He will solve IRAQ, Afghan? He has all the answers. I've both read and listened to him speak, and get 0, nil, not a single drop of substance. This kind of rhetoric won't solve our International affairs...

    This Obama, character (which is what he has painted himself as) doesn't qualify for the CEO job. Just as BUSH didn't, and KERRY, and McCAIN.

    The Iran-USSR things isn't going to change that...

    Vote Libertarian and I can respect the differences. Any other vote is inconsistent.

  • ||

    You're so worried about foreign policy experience that you're...urging people to vote for the LP candidate.

    OK.

  • ||

    Joe:

    point well made. :)

    None of the candidates of LP have experience either. Agreed! But I certainly think that they have other ideas and policies that we need to get out into the public over the long haul. In the long term supporting the LP is more rational, and satisfying that having a sour stomach knowing I voted for a GOP or DEM, and that I was partially culpable for bad economic policy, more government, and a failed attempt to solve the middle east.

    If government continues to grow, and people vote Obama or McCain, you are just as much at fault as the leader, and the rest of the ill informed American's that keep putting this dead brand of politicians into office each time.

  • ||

    MRB:

    In a thread setup to discuss McCain's attacks on Obama, voicing "the only proper vote is a vote for the LP" doesn't accomplish much.

    Believe it or not, libertarians can have a rational discussion on the merits of McCain vs. Obama without having to always add the "But they both suck!" disclaimer.

  • MRB||

    MP:

    "Believe it or not, libertarians can have a rational discussion on the merits of McCain vs. Obama without having to always add the "But they both suck!" disclaimer."

    Then in similar threads and articles on this site I expect to see equal time devoted to entitlement programs and big government, under Obama. Universal Health Care, SS Reform etc, Capital Gains increases, Farming, Science and Technology, etc. Instead, what I've seen [as of late] is nothing more than "McCain sucks because he's want to finish IRAQ!"

    Obama needs to get his fair share of the "discussion" you claim was the intent of this and other threads.

  • Fluffy||

    Sorry, but on ALL economic issues - every last one of them - McCain does not take the libertarian position.

    He takes a slightly less statist position than Obama.

    And that's his stated position, which is probably a lie. We have no way of measuring in advance whether he will grow government or not. Bush grew government faster than Clinton, despite the fact that he employed quasi-libertarian rhetoric when he wanted to lie to us.

    So if you think that economics offsets the fact that McCain endorses every shit that Bush took on the Constitution and on the honor of the United States, you're nuts. It does no such thing. Even if we could trust McCain [and we can't] favoring a 15% capital gains tax instead of a 28% capital gains tax does not cancel out immunizing torturers, tearing up the Geneva Conventions, and suspending habeus corpus. Sorry.

  • Jared Hagan||

    Anyone that voted (in the primary) for Obama, and that includes me, realizes that he is a politician. He will fail to live up to what he says. They all do it. Libertarian candidates do it. Ron Paul put in the presidency will do it. The president has to compromise, it's part of the job. That's political reality. That's the thing about a democracy.

    There is so much fear about a capital gains raise. The recent economic collapse was due in large part to excesses in yield. A raise in capital gains, along with healthy hedge funds to counteract the herd would go along ways to pushing stocks back to actual values instead. On top of that we have to pay for a huge deficit somehow.

    There is great fear about healthcare reform. Why? We have a broken market now. Cost and quality divorced along time ago. Surely a simplifying of administrative procedures and reduction in medicare complexity that a single payer system would bring would be nice, no? Again a single payer could actually work to reduce entitlements and welfare rolls, helping to fight the deficit.

    It's easy to paint all democrats as FDR's, but that ain't the case. A vote for Obama is a vote against war in Iran, which is a significant boon to the economy. A vote for the Libertarian party is a vote wasted. That's the political reality. Ron Paul was heard. Ron Paul was rejected. I'm sorry and I wish it weren't so. I understand Obama isn't ideal, but there are things about I like. He has classical economists for advisors. That's a plus right there. His policies make the most sense of any of the three.

    One can say I have no right to call myself a libertarian then. I never did and probably never will. There is a reason the founding fathers opposed political parties, and there is a reason I do too.

  • Nemo||

    "I wasn't aware that the CIA was sponsoring an insurgency against an elected government that has killed tens of thousands of civilians. What country is that in?"

    Nicaragua?

  • whollycow||

    Nicaragua Most of Central and South America?

  • MRB||

    Jared:

    Obama's Policies:

    Have you been to his website? Have you read his policy plans? His has one economic advisor, a University of Chicago economist, who is "free market." But that is mostly hard to believe...if this advisor was so much like Hayek or Friedman, why would he advise on raising minimum wage, capital gains taxes,and more union protectionism as part of Obama's economic platform. Why would he support Farm Subsidies which raise global food prices? Why would he support taxing the wealthy. I am so frustrated with all the Obama supporters who haven't read his books, don't read (listening doesn't count) his speeches carefully, nor look at who he has surrounded himself with.
    I've seen his campaign advisor on TV several times, I'm not impressed. Read his policy plans. Simply go to his website, it is all laid out for you to see. Read carefully, and between the lines. Now imagine a loaded Democratic congress!

    With a Democratic congress (which each Obama-Libertarian fails to consider) you can't tell me the government will get smaller. I would love to believe that two branches being Dem would result in less government, but sorry folks there is too much history to suggest otherwise! Dems grow government, and now so does the GOP.

    Wipe the Magic dust from your eyes. Obama is no savior!

    Not to mention, he's going to loose in November! Too many states are in line for McCain that will be critical. Florida for one.

  • ||

    Obama's capital gains tax proposal would put the rate back where it was in the 1990s, after the cuts Clinton and the Republican Congress negotiated.

    Ideological opposition to taxation aside, it's worth putting this into perspective.

  • ||

    Not to mention, he's going to loose in November! Too many states are in line for McCain that will be critical. Florida for one.

    McCain will lose to either Clinton or Obama. It's just a question of which states get added to Kerry's total: Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and maybe Nevada, Mississipi, and South Dakota; or Florida, Ohio, and maybe Nevada and Arkansas.

  • Jared Hagan||

    Let me elucidate some of my economic beliefs. Minimum wage is going nowhere. I personally believe that a wage floor is inefficient, but the way things are inflating, it becomes less of a factor. Still, it serves as a reminder of a time when the government acted to end labor exploitation, which was good government intervention. I'm from coal country, labor exploitation happened. The majority of people are in love with it, and again as it's like pulling teeth to raise it any more, inflation negates its adverse effects.

    Secondly about the capital gains tax. In this last inflationary gap, otherwise known as the housing bubble, trends showed that yields were way above and beyond the actual value added to the economy. Increasing the cost forces more rational trading. As long as we don't lower the boom on the hedge funds, which is one thing I'm afraid is going to happen regardless, things will be better. The hedgers and more rational investing will take some of the bite out of the recent turbulence.

    Friedman himself disagreed with supply siders on low taxes being the most important thing to good economic governance. At first it was monetary policy and then rational expectations. We've had some very irrational expectations lately. Does "house values always appreciate" ring a bell.

    I have more faith in Obama than either of his opponents to implement the smart regulation needed. Free markets don't stay free on their own.

    On the expansion of government side, I think he 'll expand some places and in others contract. He's run as the anti-Bush, so I think he would be aware enough to ditch the signing statements, contempt of congress, warrantless wiretapping, etc etc of the Bush administration. Also, I think he'll be smart enough to put an end to a lot of the DHS charades. I can live with expansions in the dept labor etc, but I can't live with expanding the liberty thieving "war on terror."

    On other fronts, there is a coming collapse of entitlements, there is fifty or so trillion dollar gap in promised benefits and benefits available. So, either way that is going to take care of itself. With education and other things, Obama is a big fan of personal liberty. He actually proposes tweaking the mandatory liberal arts education system to allow kids to enter into apprenticeships and vocational schools instead of regular high schools. That's not a bad idea.

    He's no savior, but he's got a chance to be good. I am well aware of the fact he is no messiah. Your straw man is nice, but I am aware of his flaws, thank you very much.

    In any rate, as a Virginian, I can tell you that Virginia will be going for Obama. Tim Kaine is reasonably well liked and is a big Obama supporter. The African American vote will in the Tidewater will cancel out the military vote out there and probably override it. The bible belt middle, around Lynchburg, won't turn out enough to matter with two candidates they hate. The west out here will come out in slight favor of Obama. People around here are fed up with Republican policy, and there are quite a few popular democrat legislators in this area that will drive support to Obama.

  • gmatts||

    "McCain, however, insists that Iran has "a commitment to Israel's destruction"

    Well, if Iran has been unable for 30 years to follow thru on this "commitment", then any desire on Iran's part to destroy the US mainland, or any other direct threat to the US, seems to be something that isn't either a) imminent or b) have any realistic chance of going down.

    Sure, Iran has caused trouble in their neck of the woods, but that seems to be just making sure that other areas of the region are busy fighting so as to not have fighting taking place within their own borders.
    And with the US army stationed on both its eastern and western border, it's not surprising that their is blustery talk coming from Tehran. But, to then suggest that because of their is hyperbole that comes from Iran it should be met with some type of armed reaction from the US is absurd. And to suggest that regime change sparked by the US is a good idea must surely come from those who can't think past the intitial order of saying "Bombs Away on Iran!". Because then you have to acknowledge that the US Armed Forces would then be responsible for administering to a piece of land that spans from Iraq's most western border all the way to Iran's border with Pakistan. And thats one thing I can think that is more dangerous than Iran having a nuclear bomb, or merely the knowledge of making a bomb.

  • gmatts||

    "What I am refering to is the idea that Iran wouldn't consider passing a bomb to a friend to make something happen. To deny that they wouldn't seems folish."

    As if a nuclear bomb is something that can just be "passed", (like a note in study hall) then somehow lauchned - from where, what, or by who you don't say - and then succesfully delivered thousands of miles away to succesfully hit a target in the US.
    Episodes of "24" makes for great TV viewing, but is hardly a sound basis for driving US foreign policy

  • gmatts||

    "This is not to say that lesser dangers should be ignored, but we should not be acting like this is Cold War II."

    But Norman Podhoretz said its WWIV!!!! And he also said that Iran is like Hitler marching something something.

  • JohnD||

    Some of you people that don't see Iran as a major threat don't seem to care they are providing weapons and money to terrorists to kill our troops. And I guess the desire to exterminate Isreal is no big deal either.

    Please provide your mailing address so I can send you your brown shirt.

    BTW gmatts.... Nuclear bombs don't have to be "launched". They can be carried across the US Mexican border in a suitcase and left anywhere to detonate by timer... moron.

  • ||

    Yeah, there really isn't much in the way of rational argument from the Bomb Iran crowd, is there?

    Brown shirts. Nice.

  • gmatts||

    "BTW gmatts.... Nuclear bombs don't have to be "launched". They can be carried across the US Mexican border in a suitcase and left anywhere to detonate by timer... moron."

    A suitcase bomb and a nuclear warhead are 2 different things entirely. You can't just put a nuclear bomb into a suitcase and walk around with it, nevermind the logitistics of starting to build it in Iran, somehow getting it to Mexico, and then somewhow getting across the border and blowing it up (which again, is nothing like a missle w/ a nuclear warhead on it). I think what you're refering to with the suitcase description is a dirty bomb. But, a dirty bomb is not anything like a warhead that is launched. If you are going to put together a dirty bomb, it's not just something you cobble together and carry around like today's newspaper. We're talking about handling radioactive material here, not just a suitcase filled some explosives. And the possible fallout from a dirty bomb and a nuclear warhead are 2 different scenarios as well.

    "Some of you people that don't see Iran as a major threat don't seem to care they are providing weapons and money to terrorists to kill our troops. And I guess the desire to exterminate Isreal is no big deal either."

    I think the difference lies in what to do about it. If you are going to say that Iran is a big threat, please tell us what should be done about this "major threat". And please be specific - don't just offer vagueries such as "we must deal w/ them" or "we should take them out".
    Also, during the Korean War, China supplied the N. koreans with weapons, money, and troops and we didn't invade China. And in Vietnam, the Soviets gave the Viet Cong money, weapons and the such and we didn't invade the USSR.
    As for the comment about Israel, Iran's "desire" to exterminate Israel should be casus belli for the US? If Iran so desires to exterminate Israel they are proving either incapable, or truly desirous, of doing so since all they do in regards to Israel is to fund groups that cause Israel great headaches, but in no way poses an threat to Israel's existence.

  • tao||

    The SNL skit that sums up this whole primary season
    Get These Latest Designs
    Bill wants Hill as Veep
    This and more on...

    http://sensico.wordpress.com/

  • ||

    Re the Ahmadinejad quote: Cole presents it as a "poetic" quote from an old Khomeini speech encouraging the Palestinians not to give up the fight. Presumably Khomeini knew, and Cole knows, that the Palestinian desire for the Israeli "occupation" to "pass from the pages of time" is a bit more than poetic. To encourage this is of course to advocate violence. Ahmadinejad may be a pipsqueak, but does this pip not squeak on behalf of the real power? If not, why is it that American low level blusterers are often regarded as harbingers of destruction, but not despostic jerks like Ahmadinejad?

  • ||

    Sirs:
    Mr. Chapman's musings do not merit inclusion in a venue entitled "Reason". My comments**:

    At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious-that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did-John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Fort Knox for a sack of magic beans.

    **I wonder if Mr Chapman would be as sanguine about a few ebola viruses versus 45,000. The threat of one atomic device is about as serious as that of 45,000. Ask the Japanese. It's not linear.

    But if Iran is the Soviet Union, I'm Shaquille O'Neal. There is nothing reckless in soberly distinguishing large threats from small ones, and there is something foolhardy in grossly exaggerating the strength of your enemies.

    **Not nearly so foolhardy as in foolishly underestimating it. Which we do routinely.

    As military powers go, Iran is a pipsqueak. It has no nuclear weapons. It has a pitiful air force. Its navy is really just a coast guard. It spends less on defense than Singapore or Sweden. Our military budget is 145 times bigger than Iran's.

    **Al Qaeda didn't have a navy or an air force before 9-11, either, and spent nothing on defense. And still poses a nuclear threat, more distant than Iran's.

    Iran is a very modest adversary. Of course, even a Chihuahua can bite. The U.S. government claims Iran has provided arms and training to Iraqi insurgents-never mind that it is allied with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    **Talking is not alliance.

    But it's worthwhile to remember that even bad regimes sometimes have understandable motivations. The United States helped overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and provided aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. If Iran sees an interest in bleeding the U.S. military, that is likely a defensive response to the presence of an avowed enemy on its border rather than a sign of aggressive intent.

    **Ah. Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner. You must be French.

    Its actions in Iraq, however, are supposedly the least of the menace. McCain and many others are convinced that Iran will soon get nuclear weapons and proceed to use them.

    **Well, yeah.

    The first claim overlooks the Bush administration's own National Intelligence Estimate, issued last year, which concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

    **We know that we can't rely on any estimate of our intelligence services (Cf: Shah, Iran; WMD, Iraq; passim).

    The NIE also said, "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

    **Looks like a very rational calculation.
    At Columbia:
    'He asked why the United States was allowed to develop nuclear weapons capabilities, but his country was not. "How come you have that right and we don't have it?" he challenged.'**

    Even if Iran were to acquire atomic bombs, there is no reason to think it would use them or turn them over to terrorists.

    **No reason except Ahmadinejad's statements. "Israel must be wiped off the map", Ahmadinejad's phrase was "[arabic]" according to the text published on the President's Office's website. "The translation presented by IRIB has been challenged by Mr. Arash Norouzi. He says that the Iranian government News Agency IRIB/IRNA translation is the source of the confusion: One may wonder: where did this false interpretation originate? Who is responsible for the translation that has sparked such worldwide controversy? The answer is surprising. The inflammatory 'wiped off the map' quote was first disseminated not by Iran's enemies, but by Iran itself. The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official propaganda arm, used this phrasing in the English version of some of their news releases covering the World Without Zionism conference." Hmmm. "World without Zionism." Wonder what that means.**

    McCain, however, insists that Iran has "a commitment to Israel's destruction," and appears to think its leaders cannot be contained because of their religious fanaticism.

    **Is there evidence to the contrary? We know that Shia fundimentalists like Ahmadinejad are quite willing to see the globe consumed in flames in order to achieve the final victory of Islam, which will bring the coming of the hidden imam, the Mahdi. Iranian leadership - not the population - is a suicide bomber on a national scale. We know that during the invasion of Iraq there were signs on rooftops in Tehran saying "Marines! Here next!" The Iranian people do not want to be sacrificed on the altar of Shia devotion.**

    But as University of Michigan Middle East scholar Juan Cole has explained ...

    **see above

    The ayatollahs were willing to sacrifice soldiers-but not to pay a higher price." Even fanatics have their limits.

    **Some do, some don't. See above.

    Nor would Iran be so irrational as to give nukes to a terrorist group. That would be the worst of both worlds- giving up control of those weapons, while inviting annihilation the moment they are put to use.

    **Nonesense. Mr A. knows that America would never dare retaliate against an occult third party.

    But there is no reasoning with McCain and his allies, who yearn for the simple clarity of the Cold War. If we don't have an enemy on the mammoth scale of the Soviet Union, they will take a pint-sized one, inflate it beyond recognition and pretend that military confrontation is the only way to deal with it.

    **OK, you deal with it, jerk.

    That was how we got into the war in Iraq and how, under a McCain presidency, we are liable to end up in a war in Iran. If he's looking for reckless judgment, he should look in the mirror.

    **He's rubber, you're glue. You're going to look really silly when New York, DC, or - heavens! LA! - is nuked. I hope you're happy!

    ***

    Sirs:
    Mr. Chapman's musings do not merit inclusion in a venue entitled "Reason". My comments**:

    At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious-that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did-John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Fort Knox for a sack of magic beans.

    **I wonder if Mr Chapman would be as sanguine about a few ebola viruses versus 45,000. The threat of one atomic device is about as serious as that of 45,000. Ask the Japanese. It's not linear.**

    But if Iran is the Soviet Union, I'm Shaquille O'Neal. There is nothing reckless in soberly distinguishing large threats from small ones, and there is something foolhardy in grossly exaggerating the strength of your enemies.

    **Not nearly so foolhardy as in foolishly underestimating it. Which we do routinely.

    As military powers go, Iran is a pipsqueak. It has no nuclear weapons. It has a pitiful air force. Its navy is really just a coast guard. It spends less on defense than Singapore or Sweden. Our military budget is 145 times bigger than Iran's.

    **Al Qaeda didn't have a navy or an air force before 9-11, either, and spent nothing on defense. And still poses a nuclear threat, though more distant than Iran's.

    Iran is a very modest adversary. Of course, even a Chihuahua can bite. The U.S. government claims Iran has provided arms and training to Iraqi insurgents-never mind that it is allied with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    **Talking is not alliance.

    But it's worthwhile to remember that even bad regimes sometimes have understandable motivations. The United States helped overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and provided aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. If Iran sees an interest in bleeding the U.S. military, that is likely a defensive response to the presence of an avowed enemy on its border rather than a sign of aggressive intent.

    **Ah. Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner. You must be French.**

    Its actions in Iraq, however, are supposedly the least of the menace. McCain and many others are convinced that Iran will soon get nuclear weapons and proceed to use them.

    **Well, yeah.**

    The first claim overlooks the Bush administration's own National Intelligence Estimate, issued last year, which concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

    **We know that we can't rely on any estimate of our intelligence services (Cf: Shah, Iran; WMD, Iraq; passim).**

    The NIE also said, "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

    **Looks like a very rational calculation.
    At Columbia:
    'He asked why the United States was allowed to develop nuclear weapons capabilities, but his country was not. "How come you have that right and we don't have it?" he challenged.'**

    Even if Iran were to acquire atomic bombs, there is no reason to think it would use them or turn them over to terrorists.

    **No reason except Ahmadinejad's statements. "Israel must be wiped off the map", Ahmadinejad's phrase was "[arabic]" according to the text published on the President's Office's website. "The translation presented by IRIB has been challenged by Mr. Arash Norouzi. He says that the Iranian government News Agency IRIB/IRNA translation is the source of the confusion: One may wonder: where did this false interpretation originate? Who is responsible for the translation that has sparked such worldwide controversy? The answer is surprising. The inflammatory 'wiped off the map' quote was first disseminated not by Iran's enemies, but by Iran itself. The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official propaganda arm, used this phrasing in the English version of some of their news releases covering the World Without Zionism conference." Hmmm. "World without Zionism." Wonder what that means.**

    McCain, however, insists that Iran has "a commitment to Israel's destruction," and appears to think its leaders cannot be contained because of their religious fanaticism.

    **Is there evidence to the contrary? We know that Shia fundimentalists like Ahmadinejad are quite willing to see the globe consumed in flames in order to achieve the final victory of Islam, which will bring the coming of the hidden imam, the Mahdi. Iranian leadership - not the population - is a suicide bomber on a national scale. We know that during the invasion of Iraq there were signs on rooftops in Tehran saying "Marines! Here next!" The Iranian people do not want to be sacrificed on the altar of Shia devotion.**

    But as University of Michigan Middle East scholar Juan Cole has explained ...

    **see above

    The ayatollahs were willing to sacrifice soldiers-but not to pay a higher price." Even fanatics have their limits.

    **Some do, some don't. See above.

    Nor would Iran be so irrational as to give nukes to a terrorist group. That would be the worst of both worlds- giving up control of those weapons, while inviting annihilation the moment they are put to use.

    **Nonesense. Mr A. knows that America would never dare retaliate against an occult third party.**

    But there is no reasoning with McCain and his allies, who yearn for the simple clarity of the Cold War. If we don't have an enemy on the mammoth scale of the Soviet Union, they will take a pint-sized one, inflate it beyond recognition and pretend that military confrontation is the only way to deal with it.

    **OK, you deal with it, jerk.

    That was how we got into the war in Iraq and how, under a McCain presidency, we are liable to end up in a war in Iran. If he's looking for reckless judgment, he should look in the mirror.

    **He's rubber, you're glue. You're going to look really silly when New York, DC, or - heavens! LA! - is nuked. I hope you'll be happy then!**

    **Now - Can you change the name of your magazine to "Hope and Change"?**

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