The Drumbeat to War With Iran: Take a Stand

We need to have opinions on a subject as serious as war with Iran.

Hardly a day goes by it seems without a news article, column, or statement from a prominent leader on the likelihood of war with Iran. Yesterday’s example was this column by David Ignatius:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a lot on his mind these days, from cutting the defense budget to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But his biggest worry is the growing possibility that Israel will attack Iran over the next few months.

Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily.

Mr. Ignatius is an opinion writer (it says so right below his name). His column does not offer an explicit opinion, an odd choice for an opinion writer. I do not know whether he has an opinion on the subject or has some reason to avoid taking a stand.

In the months before the U. S. invasion of Iraq, there were complaints, too few, unfortunately, of a “drumbeat to war”. I believe that columns of this sort are just that sort of drumbeat. By not taking an explicit position against a U. S. attack on Iran, a column like this renders the idea more acceptable, part of the prevailing wisdom. As I read Mr. Ignatius’s columns, he is the doyen of the prevailing wisdom.

I do have an opinion. I do not believe that, in the absence of a direct attack by Iran on the U. S. or U. S. interests, the U. S. should bomb or invade Iran. I know of no evidence that Iran is preparing to attack the United States. An attack by the U. S. in the absence of such evidence such an attack would be preventive in nature. Preventive war is immoral.

Furthermore, our on-the-ground intelligence in Iran is notoriously bad. I find it highly unlikely that limited strikes against presumed nuclear weapons development sites will do more than slow a nuclear weapons development program by more than a few years and it will certainly incentivize such a program. It also might rally the people to the present regime, very much the opposite of what we might wish to happen.

Finally, Iran is not Afghanistan or Iraq. Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: if you strike at a king you must kill him.

I invite my colleagues at OTB to update this post with their own opinions on the subject. Commenters, weigh in in the comments. Please keep your remarks as succinct and dispassionate as I have attempted to keep mine.

UPDATE (James Joyner): Longtime readers will know that I oppose military intervention in Iran to prevent their acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Given the regime’s enmity toward the United States and history of promulgating terrorist violence  against the United States and its allies, I have no moral objections to doing so. Rather, I think there are no politically acceptable military solutions to the problem. Further, I’m not entirely convinced that an Iranian regime with a handful of nuclear weapons even constitutes a particularly significant threat to the United States.

Among people whose views on the matter I respect, few think we can significantly disrupt Iran’s nuclear drive from the air. The most notable exception is Chuck Wald, who made his case in an August 2009 WSJ op-ed. But even he allows that it would set of a perpetual game of cat and mouse rather than being a permanent solution.

We could, of course, follow an air attack with a ground invasion, decapitate the regime, and establish a long term occupation aimed at dismantling the nuclear program and installing a more friendly government. That option, however, is not only not politically viable at home but would almost surely create ripple effects in the region that would leave us less secure than we’d be if we just let Iran alone.

Finally, the notion that a nuclear Iran would pose some sort of existential threat to the United States–or even Israel–seems far-fetched. While the notion that the ayatollahs are a bunch of madmen eager for martyrdom may have been plausible 30 years ago, they’ve certainly demonstrated in the interim that they’re rational actors interested in long term survival. Frankly,  we’ve had some really bad actors in charge of significant nuclear arsenals over the years. Joe Stalin. Mao Zedong. Kim Jong Il. Not to mention the unstable morass that is Pakistan. None has ever launched a nuclear attack on their enemies.

Indeed, while my strong preference would be that Iran not get nukes, there’s an argument to be made that being a possessor nation would actually make them less threatening simply because they’d feel less threatened. Right now, they have to live under the constant specter of an Israeli, American, or Arab attack. As North Korea demonstrated, it’s better to be the nuclear end of the axis of evil than the non-nuclear end. And, as Libya demonstrated, it’s probably not a good idea to give up your nuclear program for a bag of magic beans.

Update (Doug Mataconis): I generally agree with James and Dave on this issue. Absent an attack or direct threat to the United States, or vital American interests, I see no justification for military action against Iran. Not only should our experiences in Iraq  and elsewhere educate us on this regard, but the rather obvious potential consequences of war should cause anyone in the “Bomb Iran” crowd to pause before pumping their fist in victory. Increased terrorism, threats to shipping in the Persian Gulf, and a massive oil spike are only the most obvious unintended consequences of military action, any one of which would turn an “easy” military strike into something that has long term consequences for the region and the world.

There are three dangers that we need to be aware of as we get closer to what seems like a final decision point. First, the antipathy toward Iran in the United States that goes back some three decades makes it far too easy for pro-war advocates to whip up war fervor among the public. Second, Iran itself seems intent on acting in a manner that provokes its enemies. Barring inspectors, war games in the Straits of Hormuz, and apparently plotting terrorism inside the United States are just a few of the actions we’ve seen most recently that seem guaranteed to help raise tensions to a tripwire level very quickly. Finally, this decision may not be entirely in our control. Israel is likely to strike out if it feels it has no other choice, and that is likely to lead to a wider conflict. So far, we’ve been successfully in convincing the Israelis to calm down vis a vis Iran but we may be nearing the point where those assurances aren’t going to be good enough. At that point, we may have war whether we want it or not.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, National Security, World Politics, ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I do have an opinion. I do not believe that, in the absence of a direct attack by Iran on the U. S. or U. S. interests, the U. S. should bomb or invade Iran. I know of no evidence that Iran is preparing to attack the United States. An attack by the U. S. in the absence of such evidence such an attack would be preventive in nature. Preventive war is immoral.

    Furthermore, our on-the-ground intelligence in Iran is notoriously bad. I find it highly unlikely that limited strikes against presumed nuclear weapons development sites will do more than slow a nuclear weapons development program by more than a few years and it will certainly incentivize such a program. It also might rally the people to the present regime, very much the opposite of what we might wish to happen.

    Seconded.

    Not to mention the collateral damage such an action by the US or Israel would do to the very fragile state of the worlds economy. This would be nothing short of stupidity of the highest level.

  2. Chico says:

    It appears that this time there will be no debate or vote in Congress for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, as there was with Iraq. Instead we will wake up after a Pearl Harbor style attack, or a Tonkin Gulf-style incident at sea, and the bombing will be full on.

    The USA is obviously being pushed into war, with the media all-too-willing to repeat its mistakes of publishing Scary Threats about the next adversary, as it was before Iraq. If anything, this time it’s creepier, because the previous lesson is being so blatantly ignored.

    If I think that even the the mobilization of the anti-war movement (ANSWER) this weekend, with its crazy-quilt agenda repellent fo the average American (Free Mumia!) ,is a part of the information operations, am I paranoid, or just responding to the obvious fact that much of what goes on is now decided in secret?

    Right wingers always prattle on about “appeasement” and WWII, but the lesson of 1914 is ignored. With Russia and China in opposition and increasing competition for resources, will we blunder into WW III?

  3. I think the probability of traditional war is about 2 out of 10. On the other hand, the probability of continued cold war is about 9 out of 10. There’s not much we can do to avoid that.

  4. Fog says:

    If the contractors want a war, what, if anything, could we do to stop it?

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    Panetta dismissed this column politely as bs.

  6. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: What do you think is the probability of targeted missile/drone strikes, or is that included in one of your other two probabilities.

  7. mike says:

    We should invade. It will be over in a week or two and we will be greeted as liberators.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t have the moral objection Dave cites. I think pragmatism can outweigh moral considerations in some cases.

    The problem is that pragmatism too seems to me to weigh against this. Subtract Hezbollah, a shaky economy, the sheer daunting size of the job, the secondary effects in the region, the sense of being played by the Israelis and Sunnis, and I could perhaps be convinced.

    The easier answer is to lay the US nuclear umbrella over the region and make clear that any use by Iran of a nuclear weapon – including any attempt to transfer a weapon to terrorists – will mean the annihilation of Iran. We will have to mean that.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mike:
    And I doubt it will cost more than twenty, maybe thirty bucks.

  10. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I read the same column but didn’t make the same interpretation of the content. Perhaps editing among differing papers or hardness of listening on my part accounts for the differences. Still in all, I will also second your motion. I don’t particularly have any moral qualms about preemptive warfare; I don’t accept the concept of just war, only necessary war, and this one strikes me as unnecessary at this time, as well as unwise.

    Sadly, this doesn’t preclude the chicken hawks starting the drumbeat for yet another planting of the tree of liberty. We can hope that wiser heads will prevail.

  11. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I’ve never heard of this Inter Press Service, but here’s a story stating the US military recently told the Israelis any war against Iran would be theirs and theirs alone:

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.

    Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.

    But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall.

    (italics mine)

    If that’s what the Israelis think, that an unholy alliance of hardcore Zionists, Jewish and Christian, will force the American government’s hand and we’ll have no choice but to go along… then there’s your real threat to the nation.

  12. @rodney dill:

    I was actually thinking of car-bombing scientists and the like. The higher the trace-back and acknowledgement, the “hotter” the war, certainly.

  13. (Though, Israel has made a number of strikes that were not judged wars at the time.)

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mike:

    Thanx Mike, Got my laugh for the day.

  15. @Fog:

    Contrary to popular opinion, the contractors don’t want wars. The profits are all in development and procurement. Operations takes away money from both.

  16. @Stormy Dragon:

    You’re kidding, right? How did procurement change with each added ME war?

    In numerous ways, the United States is at the head of the pack. Of the $20.6 billion increase in world military expenditures during 2010, the U.S. government accounted for $19.6 billion. Indeed, between 2001 and 2010, the U.S. government increased its military spending by 81 percent. As a result, it now accounts for about 43 percent of global military spending, some six times that of its nearest military rival, China.

    link

  17. Hey Norm says:

    I too have an opinion…war with Iran is a stupid f’ing idea.

    “…Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June…”

    Certainly Panetta is more informed than me on the matter…but my concern is not that Isreal is going to attack Iran…but that Isreal is actively trying to provoke Iran into acting first. Israel does not act in the best interest of the US…and yet we continue to fund them. Just another thing the Government does that doesn’t make any sense.

  18. Franklin says:

    @Stormy Dragon: But they do want to ramp up the perception of threat. Which is what they are currently doing successfully.

  19. Franklin says:

    To answer Dave’s request, here are my thoughts:

    OK, from Iran’s point-of-view, they have every right to have nuclear missile (I don’t think I need to explain why, it’s actually a defensible position for them to take), and they WILL have one eventually.

    From our point-of-view (and in fact from the perspective of a ‘world citizen’), letting them develop one without any repercussions would simply signal that everybody can have one. So I think our actions up until now have also been quite defensible, and I think sanctions are the way to go to deter other countries from developing nuclear capabilities.

    So I think we should just continue sanctions, and resign ourselves to writing up some sort of non-proliferation treaty with them in the near future. Perhaps after decades of rhetoric on both sides, they can be provisionally welcomed to the 21st century as a responsible country that wants to resume contributing positively to the world as it once did. Naturally, the issue of Israel and Palestine will come up but I don’t have a solution for that (yet).

  20. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: Surreptitious efforts like car bombings of high value targets I would include under the ‘Cold War’ category. I just see missile strikes or air attacks as more likely than a full ground war, and I wasn’t sure how that was calculated into your thinking for probability.

  21. @Franklin:

    Agreed. They benefit from things like the war on terror. Two brand new beuracracies, lots of paranoia, but very little actual operations involved. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan involve spending tons on soldier pay and benefits, and gas,bullets, and beans type of purchases. Every dollar spent on those is a dollar not being spent on airplanes and submarines.

    Contractors benefit from us being afraid a war is about to start, not actually being in one.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Fox has been beating the drums for war with Iran long and hard. For many on the right, that is all they need to know.

  23. mannning says:

    Doug and another poster had the right view: we are not really in control of the decision to strike Iran, Israel is, and the consequences may well be that we are dragged into the conflict by Iran’s responses, say hitting US facilities and using terrorist cells to wreck havoc on us.

    No one seems to consider the response of Iran to a simple Israeli strike on just their nuclear facilities. It would be war, all out, with Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas leading the way for Iran’s Republican Guard transported to the area. One wonders whether Jordan or Egypt would believe this to be their opportunity to help overrun Israel as well. At some point, this may well involve the US merely to save Israel’s people.

    As I have written before, Israel, well aware of the probable reaction of Iran, would then seriously consider using its nuclear EMP weapons in high altitude bursts to totally disable the electronics in Iran’s weaponry. This does three things, it allows the IAF free reign over Iran to destroy every military item they can find, it can most likely disable the underground electronics at nuclear sites, and does it with minimal civilian casualties, since the bursts would not be lethal to humans.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    My stand:

    No, absolutely not. War with Iran would be immensely stupid. This is insane.

    Iran does not present a credible threat to the national security of the United States. Or even our allies, including Israel (a nuclear power in its own right, in direct violation of treaty IIRC).

    No, no, no, a thousand times no.

  25. Rob in CT says:

    No one seems to consider the response of Iran to a simple Israeli strike on just their nuclear facilities.

    Israel starting a war with Iran ought to result in us telling them to go ahead and deal with the fallout alone. I really hope the story Gold Star for Robot Boy posted is true. If so, we’ve told them as much.

  26. Drew says:

    I’m not sure the general proposition that preventative war is immoral holds. Does one just wait for blitzkrieg, Pearl Harbor or 9-11?

    I’m sure the response will be there is a difference between pre-emptive war and defensive measures. But I wonder how tight the continuum between those two alternatives is. I suspect to be effective, it’s tighter than people think.

    That all said, I find myself in agreement with Dave, James and Doug. The practicalities as we know them today suggest restraint. However, I also find myself in agreement with Reynolds in the notion that we (silently) communicate to Iran that vaporization will be the response to a pre-emptive strike on Israel or others. But we have to have the balls.

    Which brings me to my last point. If you lived in Israel and observed the posture of our current President how assured would you be? I seem to recall that t his nation decided that missiles 90 miles from our coast on an island nation that starts with the letter C was unacceptable. And we expect Israel to sleep well and not act why?

  27. Rob in CT says:

    I’m not sure the general proposition that preventative war is immoral holds.

    I wouldn’t take an absolutist stance on this either. But I’d set the bar pretty high. I find the case for a first strike on Iran to be weak.

    I too agree that we should (if we have not already, which would actually surprise me) quietly explain to the Iranian leadership that if they use or give away nukes, they’re signing up for the “sea of glass” treatment.

    If you lived in Israel and observed the posture of our current President how assured would you be?

    Depends. Am I the left-leaning moderate I am in America, or am a right-winger who really believes that Iran is going to take a shot at me? If I’m still “me” I wouldn’t be upset by Obama at all. If I’m not me anymore, I dunno, maybe I’d be riled up.

  28. Rob in CT says:

    Wait, does Iran have missles capable of hitting Israel? I thought they didn’t have the range?

    Also, I’m not sure we really should be cheering on a repeat of JFK’s handling of the Cuban missle crisis…

  29. John D'Geek says:

    My answer is somewhat different: it depends entirely on the classified information we’re not being given. If the obvious (what the media has reported, etc.) is correct, then the above analyses make perfect sense and I would concur. But, the funny thing is … classified information changes everything.

    While Israel has an awful lot of influence in this matter, Iran has a say in it as well — if they seriously try to block the Gulf, then they’re in for a war.

    Whether we like it or not.

  30. anjin-san says:

    I’m not sure the general proposition that preventative war is immoral holds. Does one just wait for blitzkrieg, Pearl Harbor or 9-11?

    Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.

    Dwight D. Eishehower

    When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.

    Dwight D. Eishehower

    If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their head

    Dwight D. Eishehower

    Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion… and you allow him to make war at pleasure… If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,–’I see no probability of the British invading us’; but he will say to you, ‘Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.’

    Abraham Lincoln

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:
    A fact little remarked upon us that Israel has US-made bunker busters. They had been refused by Mr. Bush but given by Mr. Obama.

    Given that it was Mr. Bush who botched Iraq to the benefit of Iran, I would think an intelligent Israeli would prefer Mr. Obama.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:
    A rare disagreement between us. The nature of war has changed since Ike’s day – though I would always give a lot of weight to what he had to say. In foreign policy I’ll take the dirty win over the clean loss.

  33. Drew says:

    That’s a pretty flip response, anjin. No one advocates war for pleasure. But the quotes are unresponsive to the reality of three concrete examples I gave. In addition, we did not tolerate, at the threat of war, the basing of missiles off our coast. it’s simply a fact.

    Those responses seem to actually be a form of calculus. “X” many dead in a pre-emptive strike is the price of restraint. OK that’s one calculus.

    I don’t have answers; it’s a tough issue. But please don’t go Jp on us and just become a monkey reciting others quotes. We want to know what you think.

  34. anjin-san says:

    No one advocates war for pleasure.

    I’m not sure about that. I see a lot of war cheerleading on political blogs, most of it from middle aged men who won’t have to do the fighting. Hell, bithead wanted us to confront Russia over Georgia.

    At any rate, I did not intend to be flip. Not saying I never am, but I would not use the words of Lincoln & Eisenhower in that manner.

  35. @John D’Geek:

    Iran has a say in it as well — if they seriously try to block the Gulf, then they’re in for a war.

    Not really, we’re perfectly capable of forcing open the gulf (sink their navy, blow up their airplanes and long range missiles) without having to invade and pacify the whole country. Indeed, that’s the sort of military action we tend to be good at: clear objective, easy to measure how succesful we are being, a clear idea of when we can stop, and a clear idea of how to get out when we do.

    That doesn’t require a war though, any more than fighting Somali pirates has required us to start a war with Somalia.

  36. @michael reynolds:

    In foreign policy I’ll take the dirty win over the clean loss.

    “Better to win by engaging in sin / Then to lose with a halo”?

  37. Dave Schuler says:

    I think there’s some confusion over the difference between “preemption” and “prevention”. Preemption means you have genuine, adequate reason to believe that your enemy is preparing a strike against you. Preemption, a spoiling attack, is moral.

    Prevention means there’s no attack in the offing by your enemy but there might be one some time in the future. Or there might not. In general, preventive war is immoral.

  38. mannning says:

    If I were to stand with my gun pointed at my opponent loaded and ready to fire, and my opponent had his gun pointed at me loaded and ready to fire, I would preempt him and fire first, second and third if needed. Clearly to me that is a moral response centered on self-preservation.

    Translate that to the situation with Iran, and it isn’t quite as straightforward. Israel would have to act to prevent a presumed nuclear attack by Iran before Iran acquired nuclear weapons. Again, however, it is a presumed matter of survival of the nation of Israel. There are some that would want Israel to wait until the Iranian bombs start falling before Israel responds. That is just a tad too late to save millions of Israeli citizens. My belief is that Israel thinks that Iran is loading their gun in preparation to shoot Israel, and thus will probably execute a preemptive shot “real soon now!”

  39. mannning says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The problem with that attitude is that it would last just as long as no US personnel or facilities were attacked by Iran, as they have often threatened to do. Or, if Iran tries to close the Strait, the US and our allies would open it by force, which Iran would see as a declaration of war, since our taking out their missile sites around their Southern region would be a direct attack on Iranian soil. If you believe that Iran would not respond to raids on their nuclear sites and raids on their shore missile sites with a declaration of war against the Israelis and the US, you are in a pipe dream world.

  40. @mannning:

    If I were to stand with my gun pointed at my opponent loaded and ready to fire, and my opponent had his gun pointed at me loaded and ready to fire, I would preempt him and fire first, second and third if needed. Clearly to me that is a moral response centered on self-preservation.

    The key word being ‘pointed’. If you found out your neighbor keeps a loaded shotgun under their bed and responded by breaking into their house and shooting them, you would not be able to claim self defense, no matter how much that particular neighbor was known to dislike you.

  41. anjin-san says:

    If I were to stand with my gun pointed at my opponent loaded and ready to fire, and my opponent had his gun pointed at me loaded and ready to fire, I would preempt him and fire first, second and third if needed. Clearly to me that is a moral response centered on self-preservation.

    If one were to accept this argument, we should have started WW3 back sometime in the 50s.

    There are some that would want Israel to wait until the Iranian bombs start falling before Israel responds.

    Can your produce even one shred of evidence that Iran intends to start a nuclear war with Israel? Beyond a bit of saber rattling on the part of politicians?

  42. mannning says:

    Well, I take that back! They don’t have to declare war, they just have to execute their side of it.

  43. @mannning:

    If you believe that Iran would not respond to raids on their nuclear sites and raids on their shore missile sites with a declaration of war against the Israelis and the US, you are in a pipe dream world.

    AKA, Reagan’s second term?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Earnest_Will
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Prime_Chance
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Nimble_Archer
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Praying_Mantis

  44. Can someone free my comment from the moderation queue?

  45. mannning says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Iran knew well that it was outgunned back then in sea battles. The difference this time around is twofold: 1) we are talking about attacks on Iranian soil; and 2) Iran has greatly upgraded its Hormuz missile defenses.

    In fact, the operations cited illustrate the combative mindset of Iranians despite the overpowering force they faced. As I added later, they needn’t declare war, just carry out what counters they can manage. Perhaps the worst they can do is multiple terrorist attacks on US personnel and facilities around the world, including the US.

  46. anjin-san says:

    Perhaps the worst they can do is multiple terrorist attacks on US personnel and facilities around the world, including the US.

    Still waiting for even one piece of evidence that these folks want to do us harm.

  47. An Interested Party says:

    There are some that would want Israel to wait until the Iranian bombs start falling before Israel responds.

    And who are those people?

    By the way, what evidence do we have that the people who are in charge in Iran are even more irrational than those who are in power in Pakistan and North Korea? Are we to believe that those in charge in Iran are so irrational as to not realize what kind of response their country would receive for directly attacking Israel, especially with nuclear weapons?

  48. Drew says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If this is true, I applaud Obamas stance.

  49. Drew says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I understand. How do you know? We clearly didn’t. In the examples I cited.

    Seems to me, that’s the problem.

  50. michael reynolds says:
  51. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Have you read what the pacifists are saying elsewhere? I won’t waste my time hunting down references again, it was disgusting enough the first read.

    Using the examples of other nations with a crazy head of government with nuclear weapons that didn’t use them to suggest that Iran’s government won’t act irrationally either is pure lunacy. So you have three or four lunatics that didn’t use their weapons. You expect the fifth lunatic to conform? You would bet the nation of Israel and virtually all of its people on that assumption? That is irrational in the extreme.

    The best proof of soundness in this issue is the Israelis themselves. They are on the line here for possible destruction, yet they have shown remarkable constraint so fear.Too many here think the US is running the show when they are not.

  52. mannning says:

    fear=far

  53. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Why you must be one of those who want the bombs to fall on Israel before you agree that there is an existential threat to Israel. ASK THAT QUESTION TO THE ISRAELIS!

  54. anjin-san says:

    @ mannning

    Can you provide any evidence that Iran’s leaders are irrational lunatics? We need something beyond saber rattling by it’s president and stock right wing “evillllllllll Muslim” nonsense.

  55. anjin-san says:

    before you agree that there is an existential threat to Israel

    There has been an existential threat to Israel since the day it was founded. What else is new?

    I spent most of my life as an American living with an existential threat to my country, as I said earlier, if we use your reasoning, we should have launched a preemptive strike against the Soviets back in the 50s. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and we avoided WW3.

  56. mannning says:

    Well, you see, in the Cold War we were dealing with a tough-minded but ultimately rational set of Soviet leaders that clearly perceived our economic and military superiority and willingness to use it, which they tested heavily a number of times. From what I read about Bibi and others, the Israelis are convinced that Iran is going for the nuclear weapon mainly to wipe Israel off the map; it is simply a matter of time for all of the technology and the bombproofing of key resources to come together.

    To me it is indeed irrational for Iran to think that way, given that the US would likely retaliate if Iran did bomb Israel, but, from an Israeli point of view, they cannot count on the US umbrella, since it depends upon the current administration’s political outlook which is predominately negative towards further US entry into conflicts, against Israel, and positive towards their enemies, coupled with the quite uncertain nuclear intentions and timing of the Iranians. However, the Israelis do have the most up-to-date intelligence on Iran, and they are sufficiently alarmed to spend a high percentage of their GDP on weapons, delivery systems, and exercizes aimed at neutralizing Iran.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-vice-pm-military-strike-can-hit-all-of-iran-s-nuclear-facilities-1.410626

    Since guessing Iran’s nuclear intentions and timing wrongly would mean possible destruction of Israel, they will not gamble with millions of Israeli lives by betting on peaceful cohabitation with a nuclear Iran that regularly threatens their destruction with bombs.

  57. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    Well, you see, in the Cold War we were dealing with a tough-minded but ultimately rational

    Were we certain, at the time, that they were rational? We did after all, bet our national existence on it.

    The fact that a few right wing politicians in Israel think Iran’s leaders are irrational does not make them irrational. Do you have ANY evidence that Iran has irrational leadership beyond “Bibi says so?” I’ve asked several times and you have yet to produce anything. Zero.

    they cannot count on the US umbrella

    Israel has their own deterrents. Nuclear and conventional.

    After what we did in Iraq, I can hardly blame Iran for wanting nukes. Possession of nuclear weapons makes them effectively invulnerable to “regime change” from without.

  58. mannning says:

    .aspx@anjin-san:

    Let the top leaders answer your question. I am not sitting inside an Iranian’s head, nor are you.

    http://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/30-81388

  59. mannning says:

    Sorry, the page was taken down for unknown reasons.

  60. mannning says:

    Here is an Israeli site that contains their opinions on the subject:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/152408

  61. grumpy realist says:

    Leaving aside possible effects on Israel, the other problem with Iran getting the bomb is the possibility of setting off a nuclear arms race among the rest of the Arab countries, which is probably what the administration is really worried about.

    And I’m getting tired of getting dragged into Mid-East stuff via Israel. They chose to live there, they can defend themselves without our help. Americans who want to protect Israel can move there and become citizens if they care that much. Israel is no more of a democracy than Egypt is at present.

  62. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    So Iran is guilty of demonizing Israel. Pretty standard stuff for a despotic middle eastern leadership, especially one that is facing a challenge to its leadership from within. If that’s your “proof” that Iran’s leaders are irrational, it is an epic fail.

    At any rate, I am completely unwilling to have US foreign policy driven from Tel Aviv. Tell me, when was the last time Iran started a war?

  63. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Preventive war was an invention of Hitler.

    It long pre-dated the man with the moustache.

  64. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mannning:

    Tell me Manning if you look at the events of the last 10 years would you say the US leadership in the period 2001-2008 demonstrated much more rationality than the leadership of Iran in the same period?

  65. mannning says:
  66. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    You should not make such interpretations. I offered no proof of anything, merely opinions of several key Israelis. I do believe they are in the driver’s seat in this matter of Iran.

  67. An Interested Party says:

    I offered no proof of anything, merely opinions of several key Israelis.

    Opinions which are no more accurate than yours, as they too are not sitting inside an Iranian’s head…

  68. anjin-san says:

    I offered no proof of anything

    No you did not.

    Yet you are advocating war with Iran based on claims that they are irrational and crazy, not offering even a single shred of supporting evidence. If these folks were indeed sociopathic would be mass murders AND suicidal, which is basically what you are saying they are, it should be fairly easy to back that claim up.

    You clearly like to think of yourself as someone who is smart and well informed. Can’t you produce an arguement that passes the laugh test?

  69. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    How unfortunate you are that you cannot read very well. Where is it that I specifically, clearly and forcefully advocated war with Iran? What I have done is to voice how such a conflict might go if Israel used its full nuclear EMP capability. I have never said that I believe it should be done, but that I believed the Israelis would do it, and that we would most likely be sucked into it. Plus, I have stated many times that the real decision lies with Israel, not with the US, whether to strike Iran, and there is ample evidence that they are preparing for such an event. Whether some top level Iranians are loony is irrelevant to the Israelis; they work on the intel they get on Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, which in their minds is sufficient cause to strike, never mind whether some Iranian is mad today or tomorrow and might pull the trigger.

    You have tried to read between the lines, quite unsuccessfully I must add, that I advocate this conflict, and that I believe all Iranians are crazy. I do not advocate war with Iran, but, I am convinced that it is almost inevitable because of Israel’s existential posture, and Iran’s nuclear belligerence. You have this very unfortunate mind gap that leads you astray time after time, simply because you keep adding 2 and 2 but arriving at 5, which is no recommendation for your intelligence.

  70. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    You are quite right, but I will bet on the Israelis intelligence group to come as close as humanly possible. After all, it is their survival that is at stake. Intel is the key, and their “red line” has been selected with their intel in mind.

  71. mannning says:
  72. mannning says:

    Well, it wass a Commentary column regarding a NYT comment.

  73. mannning says:

    Yet another column that tells the story of the Mahdi and the mindset of the Twelvers.

    http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2012/feb/05/vwviewo1-the-mahdi-does-not-negotiate-neither-shou-ar-354869/

  74. mannning says:

    You just have to keep on reading to get the true picture:

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/ayatollah-kill-all-jews-annihilate-israel/

  75. mannning says:

    Niall Ferguson is someone I have great admiration for, and he has thrown in his comments into the conflict:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/02/05/israel-and-iran-on-the-eve-of-destruction-in-a-new-six-day-war.html