John Bolton

Bomb Iran Now, Work out the Details Later

John Bolton makes bid to lead the growing pre-emptive war caucus

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Not gonna lie, I want that outfit. |||

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and putative longshot presidential candidate John Bolton has a New York Times op-ed today titled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran." Here is the operational section:

The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel's 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium­-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy­water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-­noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear­-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what's necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran's opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

This is not new territory for Bolton. At a Conservative Political Action Conference panel a month ago the one-man mustache said "I think our policy for the past 15 years should have been, and would be if I became president, the overthrow of the ayatollahs." And unlike his CPAC co-panelist Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bolton was willing to say the P-word out loud: "The only…alternative is the pre-emptive use of military force."

Other members of the growing Bomb Iran Caucus include Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) ("I think it's time to bomb Iran"), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) ("Absolutely!"), and foreign policy commentator Joshua Muravchik ("Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes").

One of Bolton's main stated concerns is that Iran's pursuit of nukes will (and is already beginning to) set off a regional nuclear arms race, which would indeed be alarming. But isn't there another possible game-theory scenario here, in which a pre-emptive attack on Iran (like the pre-emptive, WMD-justified attack on Iraq) could incentivize regional powers and various nefarious regimes to go nuclear faster? After all, the U.S. doesn't spend a lot of time engaging in forcible regime change with countries (no matter how lousy) that already have the bomb. And Ukraine, for one, can tell you what happens to your defensive posture after emptying your nuclear arsenal.

If the bombs-plus-regime-change tune sounds familiar, that's because conservative hawks were singing it in 1998 about Iraq, albeit with much greater skepticism about the nuke-destroying efficacy of bombs alone. Here's another New York Times op-ed, this time from William Kristol and Robert Kagan, from Jan. 30, 1998:

Unless we act, Saddam Hussein will prevail, the Middle East will be destabilized, other aggressors around the world will follow his example, and American soldiers will have to pay a far heavier price when the international peace sustained by American leadership begins to collapse. […]

Four heavy divisions and two airborne divisions are available for deployment. The President should act, and Congress should support him in the only policy that can succeed.

One of the defining hallmarks of American foreign policy these awful past 15 years has been the readiness to bomb first, figure out a strategy later. We bombed a nasty regime out of existence in Libya in 2011, and the results have not been very pretty for the interests of either Libya or the United States (despite some premature endzone dancing at first). We invaded Iraq without any workable sense of what comes next. We toppled the Taliban without defining an end game. We're at semi-war right now with the Islamic State, and if there's any noticeable strategy it certainly has escaped my attention. Meanwhile, the Middle East is literally on fire.

In the face of this track record, the burden of proof rests on the interventionists. Not simply to state the scary threat, but to work through the details of what happens next. To the extent that anyone in the Bomb Iran Caucus has sketched those out, the results have been wildly unimpressive. Here's Muravchik:

[A]n air campaign targeting Iran's nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.

Wouldn't an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime? Perhaps, but military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists.

Wouldn't destroying much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.

Much the same may be said in reply to objections that airstrikes might not reach all the important facilities and that Iran would then proceed unconstrained by inspections and agreements. The United States would have to make clear that it will hit wherever and whenever necessary to stop Iran's program. Objections that Iran might conceal its program so brilliantly that it could progress undetected all the way to a bomb apply equally to any negotiated deal with Iran.

Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary isn't the strategy of a thinker, it's the chest-thumping of a J.V. football player. Hawks may feel like they've got the wind at their sails again, but they blithely dismiss Americans' lack of appetite for military adventurism at their peril.

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  1. It would be nice if someone took a reasonable position that we don’t need to bomb Iran, yet, and at the same time don’t need to pretend they are not dangerous and trying to get the bomb either. We seem to have done a reasonably effective job keeping them from getting the bomb through cyber attacks, covert operations and economic sanctions. Why has everyone on both sides now decided continuing all of that is no longer an option?

    It seems to me the best way to keep them from getting the bomb is pump as much oil as possible driving the price down, deprive them of case via low oil prices and economic sanctions at every opportunity, while continuing to assassinate their scientists and fuck with their program in every covert way possible. Just keep delaying their progress in hopes the people of Iran finally rise up and throw them out.

    It is not a great option but it is better than surrendering or launching some half assed bombing campaign that is likely to hit the wrong targets.

    1. Let’s say Iran did build a nuclear weapon. Would they actually use it on Israel or anyone else? Can you imagine the outcry against Iran from the rest of the world for using a nuclear weapon on another nation? I just can’t see Iran actually going through with it.

      1. I think they might. Iran is a huge country and Isreal only has a few dozen nukes. The Iranian Mullahs don’t care about their people. Meanwhile Israel is a very small country that could not survive a nuclear attack. I think it is entirely possible that the Mullahs are crazy enough that they could conclude trading say 1/3rd of their population for the complete destruction of Israel was worth it. That is insane I know. But sometimes people really are that crazy.

        Moreover, even if they didn’t do that, having nukes would give them a license to fuck with the entire region and the world with impunity. Once they have nukes, confronting them means risking nuclear war. That threat makes countries much more likely to tolerate or not respond to Iranian back terrorism and aggression.

        There isn’t a good result from Iran getting nukes. The best you can hope for is that they are not as crazy as they claim and are only then an aggressive menace rather than a suicidal one.

        1. I’m thinking it’s going to be the latter part of your statement. Iran gets the nuke, then they can’t be fucked with anymore without huge risk. So I guess we have to either wait for that to happen, or see if Israel says to hell with it, and they bomb Iran in an act of “desperation”.

          1. Iran gets the nuke, then they can’t be fucked with anymore without huge risk.

            Which means they can fuck with us and other people without worrying. And that is what they want.

            1. That assumes their post-nuke behavior will be different than their pre-nuke behavior. I think that’s a bogus assumption.

              1. Well, their pre-nuke behaviour has included fucking with us. They were arming Shi’a groups in Iraq hellbent on sectarian warfare as far back as 2006 while we were still fighting to stabilize the country. They’ve used their proxies both states and non state actors (Assad in Syria as well as Hezbollah) to wage proxy wars against Sunnis in Syria and Jews in Israel respectively. All of these actions are carefully undertaken in such a way where the fingerprints leading back to Iran’s govt are at times tenuous and difficult to prove. The danger is that they provide an organization like Hezbollah a nuke that it uses against Israel or elsewhere and the forensic ties to Iran are plausibly deniable enough where nuclear retaliation becomes diplomatically unfeasible. And thus the entire notion of MAD, which seems to be what everyone is imagining as the worst case scenario, is rendered obsolete

      2. If Iran managed to nuke Israel there would be an “outcry” all right, but probably not the one you anticipate.

        1. It would be a form of suicide, I think.

          1. yeah, national suicide, historically unprecedented, which is why it would never happen. They just want to join the big boy club…

            1. Seriousness: I think the Iranian regime wants to continue living so they can hold onto and continue wielding their power.

              Snark: I honestly don’t think they’ll look to the historical examples you mention to become comfortable with suicide.

              (I still took you point – we just disagree here)

            2. I’m not in favor of preemptive war but I think you might be making the fallacy of ascribing rationale thought to a group of religious zealots that actually embrace the notion of their own – and their people’s – deaths, so long as it is in furtherance of their own version of the apocalypse.

              1. Catatafish,

                I think you’ve described ISIS more than the regime in Iran. The latter has been threatened with “all options are on the table” (nuclear strikes) for several years now, and haven’t reacted like madmen scrambling to start an apocalypse first.

                On a different note: I’ve seen some in our mainstream press misquoting Iranian leadership and misrepresenting facts regarding their nuclear program, evidently to sell a war with Iran like they did quite effectively with Iraq.

                I don’t trust the reprobate Iranian regime, and I don’t trust our government or our mainstream press in regards to Iran either.

                I dont’t trust the reprobate Iranian regime, and I don’t trust our government nor our mainstream press in regards to Iran either.

        2. All that sweet wasteland for the Palestinians.

      3. Given that they see Palestine as holy land, I can’t see it. So, Muslim fanatics are gonna nuke the Dome of the Rock? Yeah right.

      4. Let’s say Iran did build a nuclear weapon. Would they actually use it on Israel or anyone else? Can you imagine the outcry against Iran from the rest of the world for using a nuclear weapon on another nation? I just can’t see Iran actually going through with it.

        Iran will not launch a nuclear missile, but they can find other ways to use nukes. The concern with nuclear proliferation to states like Iran is that they can find ways to use nukes that have a level of plausible deniability, but providing nuclear arms to non-state actors like Hezbollah that they have aligned themselves with. In such a circumstance, the origin of the nuclear weapon is less certain and that corrodes the entire logic of mutually assured destruction.

      5. It’s not Iran. It’s not the Taliban. It’s far, far more.

        From TFA:

        We toppled the Taliban without defining an end game.

        No, we didn’t. Because the Taliban wasn’t, and isn’t, an organization, instead it is an idea the news and our politicians try to sell us to justify MIC spending and engagement. The Taliban is only a placeholder name, a very temporary focus, for the pernicious values, strategies, and intents of fanatical Islam, which is a huge segment of Islam at large.

        The Taliban is just one name for a small set of pernicious ideas. Ideas that are particularly attractive to young men from whom female companionship and job opportunities have been usurped by primitive cultural leanings ranging from “you only need to read the Quran to be educated” to “us old dudes can have as many wives as we want”, and of course the closing argument, “if you die in battle against the infidels (that’s us), you go to heaven and 72 virgins await your every whim.”

        [continued]

      6. [continuation]

        We cannot defeat fanatical Islam — which is the problem, as fanatical Christianity was in earlier times. Shouldn’t even try. Fanaticism is not even slightly amenable to reason. The only viable paths are isolate and ignore, with occasional knock-backs of technology, probably with precision guided high explosives, or putting our backs into it and wiping them off the face of the earth once and for all. We don’t have the political will to do the latter; doing the former would constrict the flow of money to the military-industrial complex, and so here we are today, reading the news about ISIS and being told it matters.

        It really doesn’t. Nor can we change it from within the current political morass.

    2. It seems to me the best way to keep them from getting the bomb is pump as much oil as possible driving the price down, deprive them of case via low oil prices and economic sanctions at every opportunity, while continuing to assassinate their scientists and fuck with their program in every covert way possible. Just keep delaying their progress in hopes the people of Iran finally rise up and throw them out.

      Which is exactly what we are doing.

      Oil, sanctions, Stuxnet, and wait for the Ayattolah to die.

      1. That is what we have been doing. Right now our hero seems intent on stopping all of that and rolling over and letting them obtain nukes so he can claim credit for getting a deal.

        Obama’s Iran police has been one of the very few things the dumb motherfucker has gotten right. So of course he is doing everything he can to abandon it for something much worse.

        1. Obama abandoned Iran’s uprising during the green revolution. That was out last best chance to get rid of the mullahs. We won’t get another for a long time, no matter which Ayatollah is around, the mullahs have made sure of that.

          That was his worst foreign policy blunder so far, besides abandoning Iraq to ISIS.

          And you are delusional idiot if you believe that sanctions and inspections are going to stop Iran from getting a nuke. The IAEA has said repeatedly that Iran cannot be trusted with inspections so the whole thing is a joke.

          1. Or course they can’t be trusted. And I am not saying the sanctions are enough. You have to engage in covert action as well. So I am not a delusional idiot. You just didn’t read my post.

            1. I wasn’t referring to you necessarily John, just anyone that believes this current negotiations or the previous ones are anything more than window dressing and a reason for State to feel like they are doing something useful.

      2. BUUUUUUUTTPLUUUUUUG

    3. Some people just need to be killed!

  2. Let’s hope Bolton’s mental problems are not contagious.

    1. You got here before me, Sevo. I intended to type “Insanity.”

      1. I’m probably too kind.

        1. Probably.

  3. To be fair, if I could grow a mustache like Bolton’s, I probably would, if I could, and I should.

  4. What a waste of a completely awesome mustache.

    1. Oh puhleeeeez. That mustache, at best, is dorky. Big and dorky. If you insist on admiring big mustaches, Sam Elliot is the one to look to.

        1. Hardly. Wish I could post a pic. 🙂

  5. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary.

    Especially because a bombing mission that requires deep penetration into defended territory, after traveling 1,000 miles, is a piece of cake.

    Obviously, Mr. Bolton is being dishonest. The planning and logistics of such an attack require great resources and Israel is not one to squander money like that. Their economy is stretched to the limit as it is.

    1. That wouldn’t be squandering money. Israel would do that in a moment. The problem is that it is incredibly hard and unlikely to succeed. Israel isn’t going to do something like that until it thinks time has run out and there are no other options.

      1. The government of Israel would be reimbursed by the taxpayers of the United States, I think.

        1. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

      2. Re: John,

        That wouldn’t be squandering money.

        Don’t obviate Opportunity Costs. Just because Iran gets a bomb does not mean the government will use it. That means there are more pressing issues to address than placating a bunch of bloodthirsty hawks.

        1. Jesus fucking ChrsiT Old Mexican. Easy for you to say they might not use it. You are not the one facing national extinction. You are telling Israel to risk national extinction on your wishful thinking that Iran really doesn’t mean what it says and the promise of saying money.

          And if anyone is blood thirsty here it is people like you who seem to think telling other people to risk their lives to confirm your rosy view of the world is a good idea. Damn nice of you and people like you to be so cavalier with the lives of Israelis. They apparently owe you the duty of risking their lives and nation for peace.

          Why don’t you move to Tel a vive and put some skin in the game before you start calling the people who do blood thirsty? How about that?

    2. It’s an existential expense.

  6. On of the major diplomatic problems in the world today is that assorted third world cess pits simply don’t beleve that there will be negative consequences for their behavior. The Iraq and Afganistan campaigns did something to change this, but OTOH Obama’s directionless reacting has undermined that lesson. If I thought we would bomb Iran to some point, I would actually be all for it. Sadly, we will all too likely fail to do enough, or try to do too much.

    1. No one fears us right now. That makes the world a very dangerous place. The problem is that at some point someone like Iran is going to miscalculate and do something that even a feckless weasel like Obama has to respond to. The chances of that happening would be much lower if Iran or anyone else didn’t hold Obama in such contempt and have such little fear of him.

      1. “No one fears us right now. That makes the world a very dangerous place.”

        What?!?!?!? The reason countries believe they need nukes is because the US of A insists on bombing, at will, any country that does not have nukes. It’s self defense. Bolton is telling us to bomb Iran because we don’t want Iran to have bombs! He’s just reinforcing the mindset that he claims to be against.

        1. John is parroting redneck AM radio.

          1. BUUUUTTPLLLLLUUUUG

        2. No, the reason countries want nukes is because they think their regional enemies are going to get them or they understand that having them makes one virtually immune from international pressure or invasion.

          Iran is not building nukes because they think Obama or any other US President is going to invade them. They want nukes because they know having them will allow them to do things that without nukes might cause the US or the world community to attack them if they didn’t have a nuclear deterrent.

          It never fails to amaze me how people on here are incapable of thinking any country in the world could have bad or aggressive intentions except for the US.

          1. John,

            I don’t want to get into a lengthy debate with you because I’m almost certain neither one of us will change the other’s mind, but I do have two questions.

            Where/what are some of the evidentiary sources supporting the claims that the Iranian regime is currently building nuclear weapons?

            Many governments have histories of aggression or otherwise have proven themselves to be aggressive. Do you think the United States government is among them?

            Note that I believe that my criticism of my own government can be healthy. Regardless, any such criticism should not imply that I give other governments a pass for their behavior.

            1. I’m sorry Charles, but first question is a joke. I can easily say show me proof that they are not currently building nuclear weapons.

              No-one has proof either way. So you have to discuss each case – if they aren’t building nuclear weapons, than it stays the status quo. If they are building nuclear weapons, now what? Do they bomb Israel because they Quran promises them a reward for killing their enemies? Do they give nuclear bombs to terrorist groups? Would the Homeland Security stop a dirty bomb from going off here? (That would be an end game for Iran that couldn’t be tied back to them).

              You keep stating rationale behavior, are religious people rationale? Are people who want to hold onto power rationale? Was Saddam rationale when he gassed what 250K of his own people?

              As to your second questions? Yes, ever government has at times. When has the US gone and down genocide? When has the US government invaded Canada or Mexico for their oil? But yes, we have been aggressive in the past.

              Here’s a question for you? Why does no country in the region – Egypt, Saudi, Kuwait – what Iran to get a nuclear device?

          2. And it never fails to amaze me how people can’t tell the difference between pure rhetoric and rational state behavior. All their anti-semetic bullshit aside, Iran is a pretty rational acting nation state. If you’re this fired up about them getting nukes, how do you feel about Pakistan actually having them? By your measure, they would have used them on India years ago.

            1. Maybe I am naive, but I really don’t think that there is any upside to any country using nukes under any circumstances. And I think that even the most unhinged dictators know that and would rather have a country to fuck up than risk retaliation for a nuclear attack. And Iran is far from the craziest bunch of tyrants. As you say, they are really pretty rational in how they act, rhetoric aside.

              If Iran did blow up Israel, what would the leaders use to rile people up? I think they have a strong interest in the continued existence of Israel, whatever they say. Much better to just keep using proxies to fuck with Israel.

            2. Pakistan has been governed by rational actors that don’t mirror the Islamism of the broader population. If a democratically elected Islamist govt ruled in Pakistan, there may be some cause for concern for India.

        3. What?!?!?!? The reason countries believe they need nukes is because the US of A insists on bombing, at will, any country that does not have nukes.

          I think prior to Libya, that assertion is incorrect. And Iran had been pursuing nukes prior to that. They wanted a nuke more for their own regional hegemony and to advance Shi’a Islam in areas within the Saudi/Sunni sphere of influence.

          Libya changed that. In the long view, the campaign to overthrow Ghaddafi was perhaps the biggest foreign policy blunder of recent years because we deposed a dictator who had agreed to play ball on non-proliferation. That act undermined the entire capability of the non-proliferation movement (a movement that I feel is a wholly acceptable and desirable goal of US foreign policy). We announced to the world that if you agree to not seek nuclear arms, we can and may turn on you and overthrow your government.

          1. “We announced to the world that if you agree to not seek nuclear arms, we can and may turn on you and overthrow your government”

            Meh.

            I think the only nations on the world that “Want” nukes and will try and get them at this point are states that actually fear for their long term survivability due to serious threats from powerful neighbors.

            Libya, for all their bluster and terror sponsorship, wasn’t an “iran or pakistan”. Agreeing to stay away from nukes wasn’t a problem because…what good would they be anyway?

            1. I agree on the reasons Libya decided to play ball on non-proliferation. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we proceeded to overthrow the Libyan dictator not even 6 years after he agreed to give up his weapons program. And the other regimes that we’re attempting to get to play ball know this and see the US as negotiating in bad faith as a result. And that is one of the reasons that I maintain Libya will be a bigger foreign policy blunder over the long term than even Iraq.

              1. “we proceeded to overthrow the Libyan dictator not even 6 years after he agreed to give up his weapons program”

                Yes. You’re reading that as “despite” his abandonment of nukes…which wouldn’t have helped him stop a domestic insurrection anyway. we didn’t foment that rebellion – we just rented them some air cover. Who would he have nuked/threatened that would have prevented that?

                Ghaddfis (sp) fall was not all about ‘nukes or no nukes’ or anything really to do with ‘Proliferation politics’. It may indeed be an enormous foreign policy blunder, I agree. But i just don’t think the nukes angle amounts to much at all.

                Iran and Pakistan and the Norks are all unique in their particular view of being “threatened” by large powers all around them. The sense of aggrievedness is also the source of their respective regimes sustainability = they *need* enemies to justify their own existence.

                I don’t think what happens to other countries affects their specific dynamics very much at all. Likewise = what other states not currently armed with Nukes really fit a similar profile?

                As i noted below = i think Iran can have nukes tomorrow and it doesn’t change anything. They’d still be doing the same proxy-warring with Sunnis they’re currently doing.

                1. “Ghaddfis (sp) fall was not all about ‘nukes or no nukes’ or anything really to do with ‘Proliferation politics’. It may indeed be an enormous foreign policy blunder, I agree. But i just don’t think the nukes angle amounts to much at all.”

                  I think it’s the perception other government get that Sudden may be referring to.
                  Has nuclear weapons = no attack.
                  Gives up nuclear weapons = attack.

                  Forgive the brevity/grammatical errors – I’m short on time again today.

                  1. I understand. I think that’s just wrong in general, and even more wrong considering the specifics of Libya.

                    it wasn’t the Libya was an example of a belligerent state that suddenly and completely became compliant, cooperative, internationally recognized as a trustworthy negotiating party who was then “randomly attacked”….

                    they were a belligerent state that basically strung out low-grade conflict with far-stronger powers for decades all while their despot-state eroded from within and then eventually collapsed.

                    The ‘attack’ by the west was nothing if not just pulling the last block out of the Jenga-pile

                    As noted = what would having nukes have done to help Ghaddafi fight off a widespread domestic revolt?

                    And how do you fight off a multilateral coalition that imposes air supremacy over your country while said rebels overthrow you, kill you, rape you and then kill you again?

                    And – to my point – what actual relevance does libya really have for nations like Iran, NK, Pakistan? i just don’t see any parallels that are particularly informative.

                    1. – taking the alternative scenario:

                      what if Libya never pretended to cooperate with the West and went full out in the 1990s/2000s in a genuine attempt to acquire nukes?

                      (or got their hands on a few sans delivery mechanisms…or even got so far as having a handful of actual functioning missiles with payloads…)

                      the idea that this limited capability would have guaranteed the survival of the ghaddafi regime (rather than simply expedited its demise) seems implausible to me. He’d have been smothered with a pillow by his own generals.

                    2. I’m not saying that his possession of nukes would’ve ensured his safety. Certainly not from internal rebellion. Though it may have been enough of a deterrent to prevent the West from providing air cover for the Islamist uprising that took him out.

                      But even if the West would have intervened had he possessed nukes (and I should add that I think missile delivery considerations are only meaningful when discussing DPRK, since the Middle East regimes typically have relationships with non-state actors that can deliver dirty bombs and this method is generally more desirable as it complicates or entirely negates MAD), I think it is reasonably perceived by govt like Iran or Saudi Arabia or others in the region who would seek nukes that his lack of a nuclear deterrent made him vulnerable. But most importantly, it shows that just because you agree to the US terms, that doesn’t mean the US won’t turn on you.

                      We’ve abandoned to death many in the region who cooperated with us. There’s a perception that the US is the worst friend a person can have. The guy that narced on bin Laden is imprisoned in Pakistan. ISIS recruitment videos show hours of beheadings of people who cooperated with US forces following the fall of Saddam. And we bombed and overthrew the one guy in the region who agreed to acquiese to our terms on non-proliferation.

                    3. ” Middle East regimes typically have relationships with non-state actors that can deliver dirty bombs and this method is generally more desirable as it complicates or entirely negates MAD”

                      I put a very low value on the loose-nuke scenario. Nuclear states have never handed over nukes to ‘non-states’ for a reason.

                      I don’t really disagree with much else. Its just that i think you overweight the significance of this particular example. Particularly vis a vis Arabs, who are the most conspiratorial, backstabbing, double-dealing political culture on Earth.

                      IOW, I don’t think the reputation of the United States was much affected by how we behaved towards libya, or that Arab states were otherwise likely to expect a different standard of behavior of *anyone* relative to people like Col Mummar.

  7. So, we’re giving air support to Iranian backed militias in Tikrit. Also, our Saudi allies are bombing Iranian backed rebels in Yemen. And let’s not forget that the Saudis — whether or not they are covertly supporting ISIS as a proxy against Iran — don’t seem overly concerned about the rise of ISIS.

    The interventionists are sure that the way to weaken our enemies is to support and oppose everyone all at once. This is what’s known in Washington as sophistication and nuance.

    1. The Saudis are definitely anti-ISIS. ISIS’s goal is the overthrow of all existing governments in the region, including and especially the House of Saud in Arabia.

      1. “The Saudis are definitely anti-ISIS.”

        uh… as Bill Clinton might say, “Well, I think that depends on the definition of “where ISIS is

        There was substantial funding for ISIS (and others) in 2011-2013 flowing out of the gulf. it dried up last year as it became clearer they weren’t just another ‘one of many’ jihadist groups that would fight Syria and then evaporate, but actually had become a self-funding organization with a specific regional agenda.

        The whole point of Gulf principalities funding ne’er do-wells in other people’s countries is to keep the malcontents from fucking up the sweet deal at home. As long as they were taking the Jihad to the shiite apostates, all was Halal. Even upsetting the status quo in Iraq was perfectly fine as long as it meant the US would be helping enforce the boundaries of where Iran-stopped and Sunnijihadistan began.

        I still don’t think the saudis see ISIS as a “threat” so much as a proxy army that is less and less useful.

        1. I agree that they were once supportive of ISIS, but I believe they view them as a threat now given their ability to gather funding and recruits, particularly from the disaffected West.

    2. Realism!

      1. You’re confusing “realism” with “wilsonianism

        Realism would have recognized that the sunni-shia conflict that prevented Iraq from creating a stable government was ultimately untenable and that a regional split was going to be inevitable. The thing to do would be to simply get the fuck out of everyone’s way, remain impartial and do one’s best to keep things from spilling over to more-stable allied states.

        Instead, between bombing ISIS, bankrolling the former Yemeni president, funding Syrian rebels, training the Iraqis who refuse to let us arm the Kurds, and pretending to negotiate a deal with Iran despite demonstrating no ability to bring along the more-important regional players (Israel and Saudi Arabia)…. we’re trying to put our hands on every single lever at once out of some blindingly retarded hubris that we can engineer “peace” if only people finally take John Kerry seriously.

        Realism, it aint.

        1. Now I see how in reality GILMORE hates America and Americans. You had some of us fooled for quite a while, you “Anti-Merikan terrist sympathizer” but you’ve finally outed yourself. Why not move to some Anti-Freedom country where your kind will fit right in?
          Plus – I bet you were never ever in the military, you non-troop supporter.

          1. Somehow I clipped this when pasting my inane comments to GILMORE from a word document after spell checking…

            I apologize for any confusion.

            1. “Complete and Utter Sarcasm!”

              Clipped it twice, I did.

          2. Its been noted = I have a particular knack at finding opinions that apparently please no one.

            1. Please see above.

              What you wrote at 2:41pm today beginning “You’re confusing “realism” with “wilsonianism” was something of yours that I have agreed with the most of all your posts that I have read.

  8. OT: Indiana governor signs religious freedom restoration act.

    While I believe we should be able to do business with whoever we choose, I’m not sure this is a good bill. I don’t know enough about the details. But judging from my FB feed, Indiana just legalized slavery again.

    1. What I’ve heard is that it gives businesses the right to deny service to gays based on religious beliefs. So in SJW world, yeah they brought back slavery and will be leaving gays to die in the streets.

      1. In SJW world, the sky is green and the sun rises in the west.

  9. Out of cuorisity, exactly where did this myth come from that having nuclear weapons makes a country invulnerable?

    Because they don’t; they do absolutely nothing to prevent attacks from international terrorists and proxies. Perhaps they might be a significant deterrent if there were the credible threat that they would ever actually be used in retaliation, but personally I don’t believe that threat is considered credible by most of the world, and I don’t think it has been for quite a while now.

    1. “Out of cuorisity, exactly where did this myth come from that having nuclear weapons makes a country invulnerable?”

      I believe that it is a perception held by many, not 100% reality.
      Nuclear weapons make excellent deterrents, not guarantees.

  10. “they blithely dismiss Americans’ lack of appetite for military adventurism at their peril.”

    They also blithely dismiss the fact that such wanton aggression is both immoral and counterproductive. As notorious pacifist Otto von Bismarck remarked, a country that engages in “preventive” war because it fears it may be attacked is like a man who commits suicide because he’s afraid of death.

    But what’s worst about the neo-cons is that they aren’t afraid of being attacked. They’re afraid of losing an election. They may want to attack Iraq, but the real enemy is Hillary Clinton. Only the Republican hawks could make Hillary look like the lesser evil.

    1. VANNEMAAAAAAAAAAN oh actually I think those are good points

      1. Except for the “could make Hillary look like the lesser evil.” Nothing can do that. This is the woman that single-handedly engineered the Islamicization of the Middle East, perhaps to reward her shadowy donor network.

  11. If I was negotiating with Iran, I’d really want a noisy pro-war faction. To the point where if it didn’t exist naturally, I’d gin one up behind the scenes.

    Its just basic negotiation dynamics/strategy.

    1. That is just because you are a racist who can’t see what a peaceful and wonderful country Iran is. You blood thirsty hawk. Old Mexican assures me Iran means no harm and can be trusted.

  12. This guy made some good points re: Iran and nukes, and why constantly shitting ourselves about them having them is pretty fucking stupid.

    I don’t link to this because i think ex-marines lecturing in front of an American flag on Youtube is the best source of international policy perspectives, but because I think no one would actually read articles @ Foreign Affairs saying more or less the same things.

    His natural-gas “solution” to ‘strategic flexibility’ in the middle east is cute, but not what i’m really talking about. (he sort of ignores that the rest of the world would still need ME oil, and we still need ‘flexibility’ with the rest of the world, so its not quite the whiz-bang solution he seems to think). Not to say that it isn’t generally a good idea on its own…just not a ‘solution’.

  13. Remember how, during the early 1960s, the People’s Republic of China was led by a gang of lunatics every bit as crazy as the mullahs in charge of Iran now? (Mao Zedong, observing that World War I had led to the Russian Revolution and World War II had led to the “liberation” of China and the spread of Communism to the Eastern European satellites, suggested that there was no reason to be terribly worried about World War III.) Remember too how they were working on acquiring nuclear weapons? Aren’t we all glad that the United States undertook preemptive strikes against the Chinese to keep then from getting them?

  14. Remember how, during the early 1960s, the People’s Republic of China was led by a gang of lunatics every bit as crazy as the mullahs in charge of Iran now? (Mao Zedong, observing that World War I had led to the Russian Revolution and World War II had led to the “liberation” of China and the spread of Communism to the Eastern European satellites, suggested that there was no reason to be terribly worried about World War III.) Remember too how they were working on acquiring nuclear weapons? Aren’t we all glad that the United States undertook preemptive strikes against the Chinese to keep then from getting them?

    1. Or remember the time that the US pre-emptively bombed Berlin to prevent the remilitarization of the Sudetenland and thereby averted a massive world war and genocide? Oh right.

      The problem with historical analogies is they can be cherry picked to fit the desired narrative, when really none apply since every situation must be viewed as largely unique, with wholly different ideological underpinnings.

      I share your view however that pre-emptive strikes on Iran would be folly. I merely seek to show that historical analogies are largely absurd. I do believe the goal of non-proliferation is one of the few things America should use its clout in pursuing. And frankly, for that to be effective, voices like Bolton’s have to be in the discussion. There has to be a legitimate reason to believe that we could use military solutions to enforce non-proliferation in order for it to work. I just wish for him to never get into a position where he can follow through.

    2. Actually if you look at history, China was more concerned about the USSR than the US. While we and Europe was all about the cold with the USSR. China was worried about them crossing into their border.

      The US was fine in letting that happen.

      I agree with Sudden, you can easily cherry pick. Remember when Chamberlain gave Hilter everything he wanted and Hilter just went away?

  15. I have no idea what caused the double post, for which I apologize.

      1. GILMORE,

        I thought we weren’t supposed to post personal information or pictures of Reason staffers or commentators.

        1. there are exceptions made for the Squirrels, Warty’s dick-pics, and embarrassing pictures from Matt Welch’s past life as a European bohemian

  16. I’m not going to downplay the idea that the Iranian government will be more dangerous if it has nukes. Every government that has nukes is dangerous, even the “exceptional” ones. But I think we’d better get used to the idea that if the mullahs seriously want a nuke they’ll get one, and there’s nothing the U.S. president (whoever it is) can do about it.

    After all, if the mullahs are as fanatical as some folks claim, some economic hardship isn’t going to matter to them. An uprising by the people of Iran is theoretically possible but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it or think that the U.S. government will be capable of fomenting a real revolution.

    1. But I think we’d better get used to the idea that if the mullahs seriously want a nuke they’ll get one, and there’s nothing the U.S. president (whoever it is) can do about it.

      Well, there is one thing that can be done to prevent a country from getting nuclear weapons, and that is going to war with them prior to their acquisition. The conversation needs to be is certain war a more desirable option than certain nuclear proliferation. I don’t believe it is. But the point that the neocons and Boltons of the world are making is that it is.

  17. Another thing to throw in the bucket:

    If Iran gets a nuke, who else is in the region is going to feel the need to nuke up? Saudi, certainly. Iraq? Quite likely, and if we try to prohibit it, they might just re-align with someone who will let them have (or even give them) nukes. Hell, Egypt might decide to pick up a few from the Pakis.

    If the problem isn’t ballistic missile nukes, its nukes that “leak” to non-state proxies, then the likelihood of that happening is going to be a lot higher when you’ve got 3, 4, or more governments that have the damn things. Especially governments like these – corrupt, incompetent, and Islamist to one degree or another.

    1. Dean,

      Years ago when I accepted the idea that nuclear weaponry from the old Soviet Union* is still unaccounted for, and that there was very little or nothing any government or group of governments could do to find them all, I had to internalize the idea that I and most everyone and everything I care about could be vaporized at some future date.

      It can be centering.

      *Of course, there are nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons extant which did not originate in the Old S.U. which I became cognizant of as well.

      1. FSU nuclear arms obviously aren’t as widespread and easily acquired as conventional wisdom would hold, given the great pains that regimes like Iran and DPRK have gone through to get them. While I have made my peace with the possibility that everything I hold dear could be vaporized, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to sit idly by and allow such to happen. Non-proliferation is a meaningful and appropriate goal for US foreign policy.

  18. Nuke the moon. It’s the only way.

    1. But there are so many things on Earth for us to blow up first? We’re Earthlings = Let’s Blow Up Earth Things

  19. Why not just let them cannibalize each other in Yemen? Then take all their shit when they are finished? In fact give both sides guns…let’s get into some real Realpolitik, some good old Great Game intrigue.

  20. I’m sure representatives of Israel, and the House of Saud, are having these discussions.

  21. When you have Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) agreeing with your plan, you know you’re in trouble. He is one of the top crazies in the House.

  22. Good old antisemites at non “Reason” Magazine. You guys can’t wait for Iran to destroy Israel. Didn’t you hear Iran’s “death to America” chant”? The one heartily endorsed by Ayatollah Khameni.

    I hope you like my new song hailing another Commie hero: The Trayvon Martin Lied

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.”

  23. It’s thus far worked worked splendidly on German, Japanese and Laotian nuclear ambitions.

  24. Well stated but I disagree with the article. What’s wrong with war? It works well getting rid of folks like Saddam or Hitler. Why not?

    So, the burden is NOT on the interventionists, its on the chickens.

  25. Iran delivers Gas @ 10 cents a gal to their citizens, has no need of Nuclear Energy for the counties needs. They’ve reserves to last hundreds of years.
    The other purpose for Nuclear is weapons.
    Historically, the “need” for Nuclear weapons was MADD- defense against enemies that have Nuclear weapons, that are a threat.

    No threat, not having ‘the bomb’.

    Iran, wishes to threaten.. with ‘the bomb’.

    The ‘a bomb” possessing Iran will never detonate, is different than use/threaten to detonate.. but the difference, is push a button.
    The difference is defined, how Iran acts. It acts as direct provider for weapons.
    Who will Iran supply ‘the bomb’ to? Countries they take over.. as in their brag of different countries they claim.
    Four so far.
    The Ideal that “Iran” will never use ‘the bomb’, doesn’t mean a lunatic in one of the some 4, current, with multiplying threatening (4 current examples) we’ve no idea how many other countries would fold, allowing extremists to power, or face annihilation,

    Easy, the excuse, “Iran will never use the bomb’, when building one creates the situation where it will be used somehow, across numbers of countries, by numerous factions, all having decried ‘death..” to somebody, America, Israel, Anyone that isn’t Muslim, anyone not of a particular sect of Muslim faith, anyone that isn’t of a particular political operation or group of political groups……

    If it isn’t you facing the annihilation. But as we’ve seen, everyone is at risk with these nut-jobs.

  26. There is a huge camp of americans who dont care what happens next – if we bomb Iran. We also don’t much care about afghanistan right now.
    Moral obligations to your defeated enemy is for sissies. I would take out Iranian nukes, all their air defenses, and their oil terminal on the way out – and never look back, except for the target we may have missed – like their cell towers.
    Grow up.
    People who cut off the clitorisis of their daughters, and hang people for being gay, should not have nukes – including the Paki’s.

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  28. Almost everything that the US does internationally turns to crap. Iraq is not better off without Saddam running the show. Libya is not better without Muammar Gaddafi. Our leaders are idiots but the US needs to focus on itself and start fighting the issues that plague us here at home like our welfare fraud, borders, crime, violence, and negroe unrest.

  29. Wipe out the whole evil country now. Problem solved. No more negotiating, no more whining, no more threat. What part of evil people bent on our destruction don’t you understand??

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