Cold War Strategy for Iran

Lately there has been a great deal of handwringing about what to do as Iran pursues the development of nuclear weapons. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich recently warned that "Iran armed with nuclear weapons is a mortal threat to American, Israeli and European cities." The Pentagon is rumored to be formulating plans for strikes aimed at knocking out Iranian nuclear and other military facilities.

Jonathan Rauch, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly (subscription required) and a frequent contributor to Reason, offers an intriguing alternative with a proven track record: containment.

Below are some of Rauch's salient thoughts: :

Here are some things we have seen before: a nuclear-armed country with a brittle and aggressive ideology, world-revolutionary aspirations, and a belief in the historic inevitability of its triumph against a decadent and ultimately hollow West. In that country, an unpopular and divided regime, with hard-liners and relative pragmatists squabbling for influence. A crumbling resource-dependent economy. A paranoid worldview in which America is an omnipresent military and ideological threat. A tactical predilection for supporting and manipulating insurgent proxies around the world, rather than engaging in direct confrontations. Above all, a belief that nuclear weapons are strategically essential to deter the United States and maintain national prestige. . . .

Iran is, if anything, more vulnerable to long-term pressure than the USSR was. It is smaller and weaker in every dimenstion. Its economy is a mess. Its oil weapon fires backward as well as forward, because oil sales keep Iran's economy afloat. And, unlike the Soviet Union, Iran has no conceivable hope of disarming or crippling America with a first strike; America's deterrent against Iran is massive, credible and impregnable.

. . . the United States dealt with the Soviets, who were at least as murderous as the mullahs and far mightier, and the end result was regime change. It took a while, but containment is a long term game, and it's a game on which the United States wrote the book.

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  • ||

    Yes, but do the Iranians love their children, too?

    Might the Iranians be willing to nuke Israel and then make excuses later? It's not likely that the US would retaliate in any meaningful way.

    Iran doesn't respect us, or more importantly, fear us.

  • ||

    containtment is certainly a good option in defending against a traditional nuclear strike. The logic of containment breaks down if the Iranians have a plausible beleif that they could strike us without our being able to prove their culpability, such as with a so-called "backpack bomb". I don't know how likely it is they could get away with this, or that they would want to.

  • ||

    The US already has proven it doesn't care too much about proving culpability, as demonstrated with Iraq. Should a nuke go off anywhere, there aren't too many places the US will be looking, and not likely ask too many questions.

  • ||

    then shall we nuke Iran, N. Korea, and Pakistan all at once? I suppose that would be some potent deterence. of course, if Al-Quaeda di somehow get their hands on a nuke they would be counting on such an overreaction.

    in conclusion, I am scared.

  • ||

    Much of that first paragraph could be applied to the United States by your average leftist.

  • ||

    "if Al-Quaeda di somehow get their hands on a nuke they would be counting on such an overreaction"

    I think Al Quada would be counting on the U.S. being so damaged by a nuke that the pacifists would take over the government and the U.S. would retreat from the world and no longer be a world power. That is what they were counting on in 9-11. They clearly miscalculated. The thinking now has to be that 9-11 just didn't go far enough or kill enough people to get the U.S. to quit. The hope would be to nuke a city and make it difficult to figure out who was responsible and tie the United States down in negotiations and investigations while they figure out a way to do it again.

    In reality, I think if the U.S. ever got nuked the U.S. would give North Korea and Iran and maybe Pakistan a set time, say 48 hours to immediately surrender all nuclear materials or face massive retalitation. If the governments refused, we would strike with tactical nukes, killing their leadership and destroying their military and industrial base to such a large degree that it would be decades before they could produce another nuke.

  • ||

    Containment worked once. That's a proven track record?

  • ||

    Hey, containment worked in the last war, why can't it work in this one? What is that old canard about generals never fighting the last war? Oh nevermind.

  • ||

    John, I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that, if there's another major terrorist attack of any sort, pacifism will not exactly be the most popular response.

    Just a hunch.

  • ||

    John, just how stupid do you think Al Quaeda is?

  • ||

    I agree Thoreau, but clearly Al Quada looked at it differently in planning 9-11. For whatever reason the rest of the world thinks that it can make the United States go away if it just bloodies their nose enough. There is some truth to that, Clinton ran away after Modadeshu, and Reagan cut and ran from Lebenon and then of course there is Vietnam the mother of all cut and runs.

    For whatever reason, the world has very little understanding of the American character. The U.S. is never consistant and incredibly dangerous and unpredictable when provoked. That said, I can gaurentee you that there are people out there who think the U.S. will to respond would be destroyed by a well placed nuke.

  • ||

    citizengnat, one could say that they know we'll respond and are counting on it. So we should double-cross them and not respond on a drastic scale. Except maybe they know that we'll do whatever it takes to spite them including a lack of response, so they're counting on that.

    So if they think that we think that they think that we think that they think that we think that....

    Dammit, which cup of wine has the poison in it? I'm part Sicilian, I should be able to figure this out!

  • ||

    John, just how stupid do you think Al Quaeda is?


    Pretty fucking stupid to be honest with you. How bright do you have to be to think the sollution to your problems is to fly a plane into a building? At some point you talk so much crap that you start to believe it yourself. Al Quada believes that the U.S. is a weak and decadent society that will eventually give up if it is forced to suffer enough. Ultimately, they are banking on the fact that they love to die more than we love to live.

    I am not saying I agree with that philosophy or don't think we should help them right along by killing everyone we find, but that is what they beleive. That is not even adding in all of the crazy religous bullshit about Allah ultimately prevailing over the infidels.

  • ||

    Thoreau,

    I just can't see being nuked and giving a response of "we will show our enemies, we are not going to respond to this" as being a very good idea. If anything, the U.S. has given a pretty measured response to 9-11 with the national building and all. There is nothing that says the U.S. has to liberate a country and try to rebuild the place. The easier thing to do is to not worry about responding in a measured way, it is to just bomb the place into the stone age and go home.

  • ||

    "Newt Gingrich recently warned that 'Iran armed with nuclear weapons is a mortal threat to American, Israeli and European cities.'"

    Of course a great question to ask Newtie at this point would be which European cities Iran would nuke and why?

  • ||

    I just can't see being nuked and giving a response of "we will show our enemies, we are not going to respond to this" as being a very good idea.

    If you didn't get the joke in my post then I suggest you watch "The Princess Bride" before you embarass yourself any further.

  • ||

    "For whatever reason, the world has very little understanding of the American character" - John

    Funny, that's what the rest of the world says about the US... Despite millions spent on Arabic translators and cultural/political analysis.

    I agree that the vast majority of those who consider us to be their enemies do so because they "just don't get it" and the guys who are in charge cynically use that to their advantage.

    To me, however, it's unsurprising that people who are susceptible to having their religious beliefs twisted into a political requirement to purposefully target civilians are also very unclear about the character of those they are targeting... Let's just say that I think that critical thinking skills and sensitivity to multiculturalism aren't prerequisites to getting your 72 virgins.

  • ||

    Thoreau,

    I didn't get your joke and no I haven't seen the movie.

  • ||

    "Of course a great question to ask Newtie at this point would be which European cities Iran would nuke and why?"

    To bring the 12th Imam back or the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man who ever it is. The President of Iran had all of the streets widened in Tehran to make way for the return of the Imam. I know the easy thing to say is that they don't really mean it. That it is just for internal consumption. They just want to get some attention and are more afraid of us than we are of them. I got that and maybe all of that is true. Or, maybe these people really are crazy and mean what they say. Shouldn't we at least consider the possibility that suicidal religious fanatics have taken over a country and plan to build and use nuclear weapons in hopes of bringing about some Islamic apocalypse? I don't want to believe that anymore than anyone else. At the same time, I am willing to admit the possibility that sometimes people really are insane.

  • ||

    John-

    I was making fun of reverse psychology: figure out what they want and do the opposite, because they could anticipate that, so we could anticipate their anticipation, and so forth.

    There's a scene in "The Princess Bride" where the hero and the villain agree to settle their dispute with a contest of wits. The hero has two glasses of wine and announces that one glass has an odorless and tasteless poison mixed in. The villain has to pick the glass. He does this whole "You'd want me to pick this one, so I should pick that one, except you know I'll pick that one, so I'll pick this one, but you know that too..." thing, and finishes it by saying that a Sicilian is far too clever to be bested in that game.

    The catch is that both glasses were poisoned, and the hero had spent the past few month dosing himself with the poison (first miniscule amounts, then larger amounts) to build up a tolerance.

    FWIW, I was totally joking when I suggested that we use reverse psychology against terrorists.

  • ||

    Sorry Thoreau,

    Jokes don't always come through and print and I can be dense as hell when comes to them anyway. In truth, I am not sure what the hell we should do if they ever nuked us. I think I know what we would do, but I am not sure that is the best sollution.

  • Larry A||

    Yes, but do the Iranians love their children, too?

    Irrelevant. As irrelevant as the folks who used to say, "The USSR will never launch a first strike because the people don't want war."

    What "the people" love or want is only relevant in a democratic government where they have a voice.

  • ||

    For whatever reason, the world has very little understanding of the American character

    Yes, because here in America, we have a deep and abiding understanding of all other cultures, in spite of the fact that half of us couldn't find Canada on a labelled map.

    Your perception of the American character is quintessentially Scots-Irish/Jacksonian, and while there has always been a strong streak of that in American policy, there is a substantial portion of the population who happens to think the idea that every fight should be a fight to the death is a little... fanatical.

  • ||

    What "the people" love or want is only relevant in a democratic government where they have a voice.

    Of course, as the Iranians themselves pointed out a couple of decades ago, the people always have a voice.

  • ||

    Its too early in the AM to bust a gut laughing....

    "here is some truth to that, Clinton ran away after Modadeshu, and Reagan cut and ran from Lebenon and then of course there is Vietnam the mother of all cut and runs. "

    Well, one guys "cut and run" is anothers "Finally! Some common sense!"
    Just because thugs & nitwits get us in a useless hole, dosnt mean we are obligated to stay.
    But thats just me.

  • ||

    For a nice analysis of the topic.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060701faessay85405/vali-nasr/when-the-shiites-rise.htmll

    "What "the people" love or want is only relevant in a democratic government where they have a voice."

    Ahhhh the innocence of youth.

  • ||

    The President of Iran had all of the streets widened in Tehran to make way for the return of the Imam.

    Just how big does he think this Imam is, anyway?

    there is a substantial portion of the population who happens to think the idea that every fight should be a fight to the death is a little... fanatical.

    Just like it only takes one side to start a war, it only takes one side to make any fight a fight to the death. I think that, should an American city be nuked, only a very small and stupid percentage of Americans would (still) believe our quarrel with the Islamists isn't a fight to the death.

  • ||

    "Yes, because here in America, we have a deep and abiding understanding of all other cultures, in spite of the fact that half of us couldn't find Canada on a labelled map." - APL

    I love it when someone comes along immediately after me to prove my point. ("Funny, that's what the rest of the world says about the US... Despite millions spent on Arabic translators and cultural/political analysis" at 11:57.)

    APL, sure, the average guy on the street doesn't know much outside his own little sphere... But parochialism certainly isn't limited to Americans, and the average guy on the street isn't running the US State Dept.

    You seriously don't think that Condoleeza Rice doesn't have millions of dollars worth of expert advice regarding other cultures? You don't think the US allocates more resources to those sorts of endeavors than any other country in the world?

    I'm not saying the US has perfect understanding of other cultures (despite all of the experts it employs!) but certainly it does a far better job than the rest of the world in this regard.

    That whole bumbling American bumpkin/cowboy diplomacy stereotype may be attractive in its simplistic way (and politicians may use it to sell foreign policy to the average non-Canada identifying guy on the street), but it certainly doesn't take into account the sophistication and depth of information available to the average US diplomat that other nations just can't compete with.

    I'd say that if it's possible to alter another country's course through better understanding of their national character, the US has a better shot at it than any other country on the world stage. The sad truth of the matter, tho, is that realpolitik/Jacksonian approach is a much more effective tool than all of those expert opinions and PhD-level cultural expertise.

    Self-interest is a universal human trait, regardless of culture.

  • ||

    As the number of actors who have nuclear weapons increases, and the means of using such weapons surreptitiously grows, traditional nuclear deterrence breaks down, because actors no longer have enough information with which to respond proportionally or rationally. In such a world, what might be the best way to destroy the North Korean or Iranian regimes? By detonating a hidden nuclear device in the U.S.. Who, other than the U.S., might dearly desire to have the Iranian regime destroyed? Gee, I dunno, but I bet there are people in Tel Aviv, or Riyadh, Kuwait City, or even Islamabad, or New Delhi, who do. Impossible, you say? Once the number of actors with nuclear weapons becomes large enough, all sorts of things become possible and more likely, as the odds of massive miscalculation grows.

    Toss in the notion of nuclear actors who
    , unlike the run of the mill Communist despot, who thinks that the aftermath of a nuclear exchange will be a deity-provided utopia, and things get even more dicey. Certainly Communism had it's Faith-based religous overtones, but it was a Faith absent a deus ex-machina which simply swooped in and made Everything Perfect in a moment, and thus the dedicated Communist had to go through the mental exercise of actually detailing, in a pseudo-rational manner, how Utopia was to come about, and when facts on the ground stubbornly failed to match expectations, Communism proved to be a much easier religion to discredit internally than the traditional deity-based Faith.

  • ||

    "To bring the 12th Imam back or the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man who ever it is. The President of Iran had all of the streets widened in Tehran to make way for the return of the Imam. I know the easy thing to say is that they don't really mean it. That it is just for internal consumption. They just want to get some attention and are more afraid of us than we are of them. I got that and maybe all of that is true. Or, maybe these people really are crazy and mean what they say. Shouldn't we at least consider the possibility that suicidal religious fanatics have taken over a country and plan to build and use nuclear weapons in hopes of bringing about some Islamic apocalypse?"

    That still doesn't answer the question, "Which European cities Iran would nuke and why?" Even if we were to assume the Iranian government wants to precipitate a nuclear holocaust, and that they have developed nuclear weapons, why would they use their extremely limited supply of nukes on European cities? This is like the hysteria that Iran's long-range missiles are capable of hitting Cyprus -- why would Iran shoot a missile at Cyprus? Saying, "They're craaaazzzyyyy!!!!!!" is not actually an answer. Even clinically insane people act with an internal logic.

  • ||

    > "Of course a great question to ask Newtie at this point would be which European cities Iran would nuke and why?"

    London, for obvious reasons.

    Paris and Marseille, for the perceived crimes of marginalizing Muslims into their cite ghettos.

    Madrid, to bring Spain back into the old Islamic caliphate.

    Slavic cities, to settle some unfinished business.

    Copenhagen, to teach those newspaper cartoonists a thing or two.

    But, seriously, is it so inconceivable that a nutcase at the right place, at the right time, wouldn't mind sending a "message" to a decadent, non-believing European metropolis? Would it really matter if such-and-such country was against the Iraq War? Certainly the US and Israel are tops on their hit list, but I don't think European cities are quite exempt.

  • ||

    "Even if we were to assume the Iranian government wants to precipitate a nuclear holocaust, and that they have developed nuclear weapons, why would they use their extremely limited supply of nukes on European cities?" - SR

    SR - The US gets attacked the least, even tho it's the "great Satan" and you're looking for logic - even of the internal variety?

    Ok, maybe they'd bomb London because they blame Britain for carving up the Middle East and creating Israel?

    Maybe they'd bomb Madrid because they believe that the Spanish have that part of Andalusia that is supposed to belong to the Caliphate?

    Nah... they'd never target European cities...

    Let's just say that I think that critical thinking skills and sensitivity to multiculturalism aren't prerequisites to getting your 72 virgins.

  • ||

    You seriously don't think that Condoleeza Rice doesn't have millions of dollars worth of expert advice regarding other cultures? You don't think the US allocates more resources to those sorts of endeavors than any other country in the world?

    I think that this administration ignores billions of dollars of policy advice for political reasons, yes. There are tens of thousands of pages of discussion on the subject spread all over the internet and I have no urge to recap. Certainly Rice wouldn't have looked so muddled and inconsistent on the recent Lebanon conflict if our agenda were driven by rational, self-interested analysis instead of politics.

  • ||

    Slavic cities, to settle some unfinished business.

    The Persians don't have any unfinished busines with the Slavs. You're thinking of the Turks.

  • ||

    What "the people" love or want is only relevant in a democratic government where they have a voice.

    True, just look at Britain and support for the Iraq war. The overwhelming majority supported the war and that's why the British government decided to sent troops ... Opps.

  • ||

    Don't forget Vienna, which a lot of these jhadists think was where Everything Began to go Wrong, back in 1492.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    It is inconceivable that there are any people who haven't seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable.

  • ||

    APL - Whether the current administration ignores taht advice for political reasons are not, it belies the idea that the US does so because its leadership is too stupid to understand the culture it is dealing with.

    And I quote (myself!): "The sad truth of the matter, tho, is that realpolitik/Jacksonian approach is a much more effective tool than all of those expert opinions and PhD-level cultural expertise."

    Understanding why someone wants to target civilians and how they are capable of convincing a sizeable force to do so doesn't necessarily make them easier to negotiate with or offer a greater opportunity for peace... Sometimes that greater understanding just shows you that you really can't find common interests when self-interest are profoundly in conflict.

  • ||

    Er, how did that nic get in there. Oops. Maybe it is because I am not left handed?

  • ||

    "Certainly Rice wouldn't have looked so muddled and inconsistent on the recent Lebanon conflict if our agenda were driven by rational, self-interested analysis instead of politics." - APL

    APL, wait a minute... Are you saying that what the US SHOULD have done is helped Israel rout Hizbollah? I mean, that certainly seems like the response a "rational, self-interested analysis" would indicate is the correct course of action.

  • ||

    As it becomes easier and easier for fewer and fewer people to perform terrible acts of violence, it becomes impossible to prevent a devastating act of terror.

    I believe that sometime in my lifetime (or at least within my children's liftime), a major city is going to go up in a mushroom cloud or be covered by a cloud of toxins. It is almost certain.

    The question is how we live our lives with this knowledge.

  • ||

    "I believe that sometime in my lifetime (or at least within my children's liftime), a major city is going to go up in a mushroom cloud or be covered by a cloud of toxins. It is almost certain."

    No one wants to believe that Carrick. In the same way in the 1930s none of the leaders wanted to beleive that another world war was possible, the leaders today don't want to believe that a nuclear holocost is possible. I have a bad feeling that are current batch of leaders will some day have to answer for why they allowed such a thing to happen.

  • ||

    All of this sounds like the plot for a James Bond movie. Which inherently provides us with the solution to our problems. We just need a secret agent that is so irresistable to women than any woman in a position of power will betray the evil plots that they are involved in. We should probably have the female equivalent as well to make sure all of our bases are covered. It's foolproof.

  • ||

    I don't know if it is a matter of the current batch of leaders allowing it to happen. Sure, leadership can often make a difference, but every problem is not solvable, if by solvable we mean avoiding hideous outcomes all of the time. I too believe it is more likely than not that we will see a major city suddenly destroyed within the next 20 or 50 years, and we may have to get lucky if it is only to be one city. Selfishly, I hope it happens closer to 50, when I'll likely be leaning against the rail in the Big Saloon in the Sky.

  • Kevin Carson||

    Uh, bubba, Israel has around 200 nukes of its own. If Iran made first nuclear use, the U.S. response would be the least of its problems. Far more likely is that Israel would (almost certainly) resort to first use if it was on the losing end of a conventional war. About the only use for Iranian nukes is as a deterrent, to make Israeli first-use a little less credible.

    But I guess everything that shitty little country does is, by definition, "self-defense."

  • ||

    I've gotta stand up for John on this one. Hitler thought his V-2 terror attacks would break British morale. Hell, the British/American alliance thought that our city-busting raids would break German morale. And, of course, there are always half a dozen self-proclaimed geniuses at National Review claiming that we just have to score a sufficiently brutal, mass-killing victory over "the Muslims" to get them to realize that our civilization rules and give up.

    That this theory never, ever works isn't the point - belligerent actors constantly THINK it's going to work. And, like those who continue to say that we just didn't kill enough Iraqis indiscriminately, the jihadists most likely do believe that they just have to hit us harder.

  • ||

    "But I guess everything that shitty little country does is, by definition, "self-defense."

    Ah yes Isreal a western democracy that accords its Arab citizens more rights than any Arab country is a "shitty little country" but Iran, a country run by religous fantatics that is threatening to summarily execute all of its political prisoners if it's nuclear program is referred to the security council is not.

    Yes Kevin, if those shitty little Jews would just die and get out of the way the world would be such a better place. But there is no such thing as anti-semetism anymore. That is just a lie put out by those crafty zionist Jews to deflect criticism of that shitty little country Israel.

  • ||

    Whether the current administration ignores taht advice for political reasons are not, it belies the idea that the US does so because its leadership is too stupid to understand the culture it is dealing with.

    Being intentionally stupid is still being stupid.

    Libertarians realize that the Neocons fell victim to the most classic of blunders - never get involved in a land war in Asia. And if you have Republican leanings, you should at least be able to recognize the stupidity and political pandering of a number of Democratic representatives in congress when they tried to pressure the Iraqi prime minister to back down on his condemnation of the IDF incursion into Lebanon.

    Are you saying that what the US SHOULD have done is helped Israel rout Hizbollah?

    No, I think that the US should stop acting like Israel's proxy on the security council.

  • ||

    So, the present generation (X? Y? Whatever it's called nowadays) will come to know the anxiety of MAD, as us boomers did during our formative years. It's not so bad, kids: As we showed, you can prevail in the end. You just need a little luck and a lot of perseverance. Hang in there.

    And remember: A big part of winning this head game is appearing to be crazy enough to actually press the button in retaliation, while simultaneously convincing them you're sane enough to never threaten the other side with a first strike.

  • ||

    Joe, a counterexample might be Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They surrendered less than a week after the second bomb.

    Whether surrender could have been secured with fewer deaths is a different question, of course.

  • ||

    It's a mistake to assume that Islamists are incapable of critical or strategic thinking merely because of their ideology. Mohammed Atta had a mater's degree and wan't terribly religious. It's just so much comforting self-delusion to think that his actual motivation was 72 virgins. He rationally decided that giving his life for his cause was worth it - certainly the act of a fanatic, but fanatical support for an ideology does not render you incapable of reason.

    And Iranian politicians are a long sight more realistic than the suicide pilots. The Ayatollah Rullah Khomenei authorized his agents to negotiate with the CIA during Iran-Contra.

  • ||

    John,

    Western democracy is as Western democracy does. What western democracy today is massacring civilians from the air to coerce thier govenrment into cooperating, holding an entire nation behind barbed wire, and wiping out Red Cross convoys?

    Israel gets to claim the benefits and sympathy of being a western democracy when it wants to, and the lack of restraint of being a Middle Eastern country ("living in a tough neighborhood" is how it's phrased most commonly) when that suits it.

  • ||

    Yes Kevin, if those shitty little Jews would just die and get out of the way the world would be such a better place. But there is no such thing as anti-semetism anymore. That is just a lie put out by those crafty zionist Jews to deflect criticism of that shitty little country Israel.

    There's still people on the internet that drag out the old "If you hate Israel, you hate jews" canard? Day-um. Today has been retro all over the place for me.

  • ||

    Like joe I'm sure many Iranian leaders are cynical bastards - and it's a conforting thought; it's the odd true fanatic in the mix that makes me nervous.

  • ||

    Larry Edelstein,

    I don't think that counts. Japan had been routed in a conventional war for three years when that happened. The comparison to a terrorist pulling a cord in peaceful Central Park has some problems.

  • ||

    joe, it's also a mistake to think that those capable of critical or strategic thinking are incapable of behavior that we would consider completely irrational. Since you raised Nazi Germany in an earlier post, let it be noted that the Nazi regime is a great example of how an actor can be capable of very astute strategic thinking, along with being with completely irrational (by our standards) in some ways, to the point that the actor's position is severely harmed. It's simply not an either/or proposition, and as the number of nuclear actors grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for the system to maintain an equilibrium wherein the nuclear weapons are not used.

  • ||

    "Israel gets to claim the benefits and sympathy of being a western democracy when it wants to, and the lack of restraint of being a Middle Eastern country ("living in a tough neighborhood" is how it's phrased most commonly) when that suits it."


    People hold Israel to standards of behavior that no country including the U.S. would ever be held to. NATO kills 100s of civilians during the Kosovo bombings and no one says a word. Israel kills civilians who are used as human shields for rocket launchers indiscriminately killing Israeli citizens and people Kevin and Ian talk about what a horrible country it is for defending itself. The same people who seem to worry so much about the plight of the Palestinians NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES acknowledge Arab contributions to the problem or the Palestinian roll in the general misery there (the billions of aid stolen by the corrupt PA). The same people so concerned with the refugee problem and right of return, never are concerned about the right of return for the Sudetenland Germans or the Serbs, Coats and Bosnians permanently displaced by the break up of Yugoslavia or the entire nations of people displaced by the old Soviet Union.

    Yes, it is theoretically possible to hate Israel and not be anti-Semitic just like it is also theoretically possible that there are other dimensions. You see someone hate Israel without being anti-Semitic about as often as you get a glimpse of the fifth dimension.

  • ||

    These guys must be those "self-hating Jews" you read about.

  • ||

    John,

    "The same people who seem to worry so much about the plight of the Palestinians NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES acknowledge Arab contributions to the problem or the Palestinian roll in the general misery there (the billions of aid stolen by the corrupt PA)."

    I worry abou the plight of the Palestinians. I am particularly concerned that their plight will not end without an internal change in the way they govern themselves as a group.

    However, it is important to note that this change needs to occur in a context that includes collective punishment by the IDF. Punishment of the moderates for the actions of the militants. This makes it harder for the moderates to exert sufficient influence over the course of their government. Action against the oppressing forces is a powerful political tool. And it is so easy to get Israel to play into that political game. Lob a 100 dollar rocket at a random spot and you can get some civilian deaths for use in your political campaign.

    Can you admit that Israel plays a role in the rise of miltant power in Palestine? Do you think they might have non-military options that would get them closer to security than the tactics they have used without variation for the last 5 decades?

    And no need to put it in all caps. A lower case admission would be fine.

  • ||

    "NATO kills 100s of civilians during the Kosovo bombings and no one says a word."

    There is a list of hundreds of protests against the NATO action here

    http://www.iacenter.org/bosnia/yugdemos.htm

    And a letter that made the rounds here.
    http://www.intouch.ca/miniato/kosovo.htm#End%20the%20Bombing%20of%20Yugoslavia

    I am willing to bet there is some overlap with the people speaking up against IDF actions in Leb. right now.

  • ||

    As far as I can see, John, about every point you make is crackpot right radio standard fare.
    Israel is a theocratic state, and as such it can use GAWD & the Book to excuse about anything. (Sorta like Tommorrowland, here) It runs under a ....racial isnt the word, is it? all parties except the Iranians being Semitic....religeous/ethnic aparthiede. They have Arab citizens only because theyve not found the right coalition in the Knesset to expel them all.
    Israel is its own worst enemy. They decided theyd butcher, terrorize, & run off the locals in '48. Its been the same old song ever since.
    You buy cluster bombs & gunships for them. I dont want any part of it.
    Niether does the Jewish missus.

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    Looks like I have to remind John of the timeline again. I have to do this every 48 hours or so, because he is so devoted to his comforting myth.

    1. Hamas takes Israeli soldier captive.
    2. Hezbollah takes 2 Israeli soldiers captive, and kills another in the process.
    3. Israel commences aerial assault throughout Lebanon.
    4. Hezbollah commences terror rocket attacks.

    A widespread bombing campaign against civilian targets is not an act of "defense." Nor is it a particularly effective defense against such raids. Nor are strikes on cell towers hundreds of miles away related to any sort of defense whatsoever.

    "NATO kills 100s of civilians during the Kosovo bombings and no one says a word." Let's look at this example. A much larger war, one that involves many more airstrikes, a much larger area of the map, and lasts three times as long produces fewer civilian casualties than the current Israeli offensive. Either the IDF pilots really suck, which they don't, or the people picking the targets have a different set of standards.

    There are certaily people who don't recognize the Arab countries' contribution to the problem. And there are people, like John, who refuse to admit the Israelis' contribution. A pox on both houses, sez I.

    "You see someone hate Israel without being anti-Semitic about as often as you get a glimpse of the fifth dimension." Criticism of Israel's indefensible actions reminds John of anti-semitism. Criticism of the anti-work incentives of old AFCD reminded Al Sharpton of racism. Who cares?

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    I'm surprised John has never seen someone that thinks pretty much all of the governments in the middle east are terrible. It is by far the most common opinion on the middle east that I come across. In fairness to the middle east, I think all governments are terrible. I guess by extension that means I think Israel is terrible, so it logically follows that I hate all Jews. Oh well, I guess I'll have to call up my Jewish friends and break the bad news to them.

    Also, I really wish I would stop seeing arguments like Israel is better than Iran or the US is better than Al Qaeda. Yeah, we're better than Al Qaeda...of course we are. Maybe I'm just particuarly demanding about what I expect out of governments, but if the best defense of US or Israeli foreign policy is that it is better than the actions of Al Qaeda and Iran then those countries are probably doing something wrong. If it needs to even be mentioned that you're better than someone absolutely atrocious then that's a pretty bad sign about your actions. It should be a given.

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    Shouldn't we at least consider the possibility that suicidal religious fanatics have taken over a country and plan to build and use nuclear weapons in hopes of bringing about some Islamic apocalypse?

    We should consider it a lot.

    The missile defense shield they're trying to build might not be such a bad idea after all, eh? Seems that even those "I don't FIGHT wars" Europeans are getting really, really interested in missile defense these days.

    But it's just that MAD kind of problem. You build the missile defenses for the same reason we built nukes against the USSR -- so that you never have to use it, and to insure they won't use theirs.

    But a terrorist attack is far more likely, and there's only a limited amount we can do to prevent it. Deterence sounds great until you have to contend with terrorists.

    Q: How do you "deter" a country like Iran that openly supports and advocates terrorism?

    A: You don't.

    Aw hell, forget all that who-thought-we-thought-they-thought crap thoreau got all lost in. Just nuke 'em now and be done with it.

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    John, a better source of info on Mideast subjects than screeching loons like Hannity & Limbaugh can be found here:
    http://www.middleeast.org/mereport/viewarchives.cgi?num=-1
    MER is a secular US based news service, harshly critical of Arab kleptocracvies, Zionist terror, & Arafatist thuggery. And US coniving with all of them.
    Ive been readin MER for years, & up to about 8 months ago, chickenhawk radio for even more years.
    Cant recommend it enough as a source for things you just wont read or hear in the US.

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