April 14, 2010

Let Them Meet Steel

Syria is now being credibly accused of shipping Scud missiles with a range of more than 430 miles to Hezbollah, placing Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dimona nuclear power plant inside the kill zone. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been forced under duress to visit Damascus and make amends with his father’s assassins, as has Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, effectively terminating whatever independence Lebanon scratched out for itself in 2005. At the same time, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contemptuously taunts the president of the United States, whom he clearly perceives as a pushover. “American officials bigger than you,” he said of President Obama’s attempts to talk him out of developing nuclear weapons, “more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you.”

Yet the Obama administration still seems to think engagement with Syria and the suggestion of possible sanctions against Iran may keep the Middle East from boiling over.

President George W. Bush lost a lot of credibility when the civil war and insurgency in Iraq made a hash of his policy there. It was eventually obvious to just about everyone that something different needed to happen, and fast. Replacing the top brass in the field with General David Petraeus and his like-minded war critics just barely saved Iraq and American interests from total disaster. The president himself never fully recovered.

If Obama’s squishy policies are misguided, as I think they are, it’s less obvious. The Middle East isn’t on fire as it was circa 2005. But it should be apparent that, at some point, all the pressure that’s building up will have to go somewhere. When and how is anyone’s guess, but there’s little chance it’s just going to dissipate or be slowly released during peace talks.

The Iranian-led resistance bloc is becoming better armed and more belligerent by the month. And the next round of conflict could tear up as many as six regions at the same time if everyone pulls out the stops. A missile war sparked between Hezbollah and Israel, for instance, could easily spread to Gaza, Syria, Iran, and even Iraq.

Even if it’s only half as bad as all that, we should still brace ourselves for more mayhem and bloodshed than we saw during the recent wars in Gaza and Lebanon. Israelis may show a lot less restraint if skyscrapers in Tel Aviv are exploding. Iran might even fire off some of its own if the leadership thinks Israel lacks the resources or strength to fight on too many fronts. The United States could be drawn in kicking and screaming, but resistance-bloc leaders have every reason to believe it won’t happen, that the U.S. is more likely to zip flex cuffs on Jerusalem.

I’m speculating, of course. The future is forever unknowable, and none of this is inevitable. An unexpected event — such as the overthrow of Ali Khamenei in Tehran — could change everything. A real-world conflict would take on a life of its own anyway that no one could predict or control.

What is clear, however, is that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are hurtling ever closer to the brink. They’re acting as though they’re figuratively following Vladimir Lenin’s advice: “Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2010 10:56 AM
Comments
Not on fire? Hamas and Hizb'Allah are already loaded to the max. You posted this one fast...kudos.

You are also right that this next explosion will likely dwarf the past blow ups. Assad is really going overboard probably hoping Turkey is serious about supporting Iran.

You know, when we look weak (no one blasted Assad for his secret nuclear program), the dogs go wild.

Bad thing is the administration doesn't seem to see they dynamic. Will Obama be surprised yet again?

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/04/14/1011577/peres-in-paris

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/04/14/Syria-puts-Hezbollah-in-charge/UPI-27111271268081/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304604204575182290135333282.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_World Scuds to Hizb'Allah?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 11:22 am
Maxtrue: Not on fire? Hamas and Hizb'Allah are already loaded to the max.

Of course. That's my point. By "not on fire," I mean they aren't currently pulling the trigger.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2010 11:27 am
"No Israeli believes Syria or Iran shouldn’t exist. Israel, meanwhile, can barely afford to lose small wars. And the resistance bloc is boldly threatening and preparing for one of the most ambitious and destructive wars yet."

When the west continually says that we are not interested in taking over the lands that attack us, we say that there is never a price to pay for aggression.
Posted by: f47 at April 14, 2010 11:49 am
WELL ITS JUST A SHAME THAT THE BOY KING HAS'NT PROVED WILLING TO 'REACH OUT' TO SOME OF ARE MORE LIBERAL ALLY'S IN THE REGION, SUCH AS SAUDI ARABIA, AND IT JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT W. BUSH TRUELY WAS A MASTER OF DIPLOMACY BECASUE HE DEFTLEY MANUEVARED THROUGH THE DIPLOMATIC STRAIGHT'S USEING SAUDI AND JORDON'S KING TO HELP US IN THE REGION.

WELL ANY WAYS, YOUR RIGHT MICHEAL, THE ISREALIES DEFINATELY SHOWED RESTRAINT IN 2006 BUT PROBABLY WO'NT SHOW IT IF HEZB BLOW'S UP A SKY-SCRAPPER.
Posted by: JUST A NORMAL GUY (THE ORIGINAL) at April 14, 2010 11:53 am
What would you do different though, to prevent the explosion?
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 14, 2010 11:53 am
Looks like Iran is boosting its deterrent to an attack on their nuke facilities, to me. Unfortunately, this is probably going to mean the Lebanese (and Palestinians) take it in the shorts, again.
Posted by: Craig at April 14, 2010 11:58 am
Normal Guy,

Please un-press your ALL CAPS key. It looks like you're yelling at us. Thanks.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2010 11:59 am
make a policy statement - ' you threaten/start a war, that becomes a war crime and we WILL invade and 'neutralize' the top leadership Ala Tojo.
And occupation similar to post WW2 Japan.
Posted by: f47 at April 14, 2010 12:00 pm
Ombi: What would you do different though, to prevent the explosion?

Deterrence, like I said.

Make it clear that they will lose the next war if they start one. That will make them less likely to start one.

There isn't much more that can be done.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2010 12:02 pm
'Unfortunately, this is probably going to mean the Lebanese (and Palestinians) take it in the shorts, again. '

The problem is that the Lebanese (and Palestinians) acquiesce, at the least, to what the killers are attempting - I don't see the little people doing anything but agreeing with the killers.
Posted by: f47 at April 14, 2010 12:05 pm
I was just being sarcastic Michael. You hit it squarely.

Ombraquex: several things. A. Enforce the UN mandate regarding weapons to Hizb'Allah. B. Reverse the weak positions on Hariri probe and clandestine Syrian WMD programs. C. Sanction Assad for making Damascus the terror convention capital of the world. D. Move withdrawing US troops to Syrian border. E. Make Syria responsible for any of their weapons (or those shipped through Syria) raining down on Israel. F. Support Democracy movement in Syria.

And those are for starters.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 12:05 pm
It just takes one little spark ...
Posted by: semite5000 at April 14, 2010 12:05 pm
Michael, while I don't think my ideas above can prevent the explosion, they might. Do I think they will happen? No. Israel has already made clear to Assad he will be a personal target in any conflagration should Israel hit Iran.

I guess that goes for Hizb'Allah or Hamas starting a new one with Syria help. Maybe Assad is wondering about MRRs too.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 12:08 pm
Maxtrue, I disagree with all that.

A. Enforce the UN mandate regarding weapons to Hizb'Allah.

Even if the UN wasn't useless in general, its far too late to start trying to enforce a mandate that they never intended to enforce in the first place. There's a always a credibility problem when people say that even though they weren't serious BEFORE, they are serious NOW. US has the same credibility problem when it comes to Iran.

D. Reverse the weak positions on Hariri probe and clandestine Syrian WMD programs.

Same answer. That needed to be done 2 or 3 years ago.

C. Sanction Assad for making Damascus the terror convention capital of the world.

Which would be pursuing the same policy which has already failed, just like with Iran.

D. Move withdrawing US troops to Syrian border.

We don't intend to fight a ground war with Syria, so why should we threaten one? Besides, that would be playing right into the IRI's hand. They'd be cackling with glee if they could get the US to go after one of their proxies rather than going after them.

E. Make Syria responsible for any of their weapons (or those shipped through Syria) raining down on Israel.

That's for the Israelis to decide. They went another route in 2006. Maybe they'll be more serious next time.

F. Support Democracy movement in Syria.

Is there one? If so, I've never heard of it.

Sometimes there isn't any way to vent the pressure when it starts building up. We may be looking at another regional war some time soon. If so I'm guessing the US will be involved in it for the first time. It'd be kinda dumb for us to let the IRI use its deterrent and STILL not go after them. I'm certain the US military has contingency plans in place for that, and I have a lot more faith in the US military than I do in the government. I'm not sure Obama will let them off their leash, though. Especially when he's so busy effing around in Afghanistan. We have a lot of Navy and Air Force assets that aren't being utilized though.
Posted by: Craig at April 14, 2010 12:22 pm
Such a conflagration will be (G-d forbid) much nastier this time. Not only because of Hizbullah having armed up and having close Iranian backing/training. But Israel understands they can't rely on the US. So it's not just a matter of what happens if Hizbullah hits Tel Aviv, but an Israel that feels an existential threat that before they felt was a manageable, if very troubling, threat.

And by Israel understanding they can't rely on the US, the US has lost it's leverage to slow Israel down or temper it's response.

BTW, Israel just started re-distributing NBC protection kits to all of it's citizens starting April 1.
Posted by: Akiva at April 14, 2010 12:30 pm
Craig, of course I agree that the time has mostly passed on my points. Those were suggestions of mine from three years back that were never acted on.

Could they be revived? Perhaps, but not likely. I wanted O to see how the cry from the Left blew most chances we had. Hillary's umbrella concept could be seen to have advantages in this case, but again, Obama isn't acting on that strategy.

As for Democracy in Syria, Michael is the expert on that. Perhaps Google should protest the government control of the Syrian web. There are pro-Democracy people in Syria. Syria doesn't have oil, so sanctions sting more there. And of course the Saudis and Egyptians despise Assad as a betrayer of Sunnis.

Perhaps the question is which vent will blow first.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 12:42 pm
Michael, can Israel deal with wars given the stoppage of US supplies? For how long and to what fury?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 12:43 pm
f47: The problem is that the Lebanese (and Palestinians) acquiesce, at the least, to what the killers are attempting

That is not true in Lebanon. Hezbollah forced them to surrender by invading Beirut and setting the country on fire.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2010 1:07 pm
The syrians will continue to push their advantage for as long as they sense that they have an opportunity to do so. Once the tide changes, they will do what they do best, wait until that time where things are once again favorable to them...they have only been playing this game for more than 40 years and have mastered this art of waiting for the right moment! Democracies such as the US and west european powers do not have a consistent approach to policy making in the region. Dictatorial regimes such as Syria and Iran can afford to lie low when under pressure and come back with a vengeance when the opportunity arises once again. unless these regimes are targeted for change a la Iraq and Afghanistan, things will remain as they are and will get worse. Let's just not kid ourselves here. Can we afford to engage in wars accross the planet in order to change regimes we do not like? and herein lies the problem and dilemna the U.S. faces in this region.
Posted by: Mason at April 14, 2010 1:12 pm
Michael Leeden calls this the "the terrible train wreck we can all see arriving in slow motion."
Posted by: FormerStudent at April 14, 2010 1:19 pm
"That is not true in Lebanon. Hezbollah forced them to surrender by invading Beirut and setting the country on fire."

Unfortunately, that means that Lebanon has already lost its' sovereignty and should consider inviting the French to come back and protect the civilians.
Posted by: f47 at April 14, 2010 1:20 pm
Can we afford to engage in wars accross the planet in order to change regimes we do not like?

Mason, the answer to that is obviously "no" when it comes to regimes that we merely dislike. That's the main reason I didn't support the invasion of Iraq in 2003, though I would have supported the toppling of Saddam after Desert Storm. To this day I have no idea why we didn't finish the job. A heavy price was paid for that mistake.

However, I don't believe the Islamic Republic is in the category of a regime we merely dislike.

...and herein lies the problem and dilemna the U.S. faces in this region.

In my opinion, the delemma in the region is caused by the existence of large amounts of oil there. That's the cause of America's wildly inconsistent postures over the years, that's the cause of all the global competing interests that are constantly vying for influence, and that's the cause of modern day terrorism (and the way it's been rewarded). So if I'm right, in the long term we can solve all these problems by coming up with a viable alternative fuel, or technologies that don't require fuel at all. But then the next question is: why hasn't anyone started working on that with any vigor in the ~40 years since the first Arab oil embargo?
Posted by: Craig at April 14, 2010 1:30 pm
"Deterrence" is already Israeli and American policy, is it not?

Craig has pretty much covered America's lack of leverage with Syria.

Realistically, if one is unhappy with the Syrians, one can either:
A) Sanction them (rarely works)
B) Wage war/bomb them (...)

Obama has really very few viable options. I don't think he is "weak" for recognizing this.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 14, 2010 1:31 pm
I don't think that its just a question of changing regimes we don't like but rather deciding whether these regimes are a threat, direct or indirect.
I fear that with Obama, the US has lost its leadership role (not necessarily its power)and just waffle and wring its hands, crying "oh me, oh my!".
And I wonder how long the French and Germans who I feel can see the writing on the wall more clearly ( and are in missile range of the Iranians, might just act in concert without the US.
Its happened before.
Posted by: jb at April 14, 2010 1:32 pm
I don't know how this is new for Obama though. Bush's Syria/Iran policy incarnated flailing impotence as much as anything..

"Its happened before." ...erm. Indeed it has, I remember when those Krazy Kommies got the Bomb in the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. I remember how they used to say Mao was insane, didn't have our values, didn't value life, and was willing to blow up the world as long as it destroyed Western imperialism and ushered in Socialism... And indeed, today, it's hard to live between scraping through radioactive waste for food and reading bits of Das Kapital!
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 14, 2010 1:40 pm
You guys remember the North Korean ship with all of those scuds that the U.S. Navy intercepted in the Indian ocean in summer of '02? The ship was loaded with scud missiles and was bound for a Yemeni port, but no one claimed ownership of those scuds. The navy let the ship go because, under international maritime law, they could not detain it.

I always wondered who the buyer of all of those scuds was.

Maybe these are the scuds from that North Korean ship.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at April 14, 2010 1:40 pm
For much of the middle-east the idea of country is really tribe, with brother against brother, family against family and all against outsiders. The modern concept of nation-state has no real meaning. There will-not/cannot be peace there - just piece. Add to this the poison of ISLAM (not 'radical' ISLAM, just plain old ordinary everyday ISLAM). The only eras of quiet occurred when there were strongman heads of government. Their only hope is benevolent/scholar dictators who actually have a love for their brethren - good luck.
Posted by: f47 at April 14, 2010 1:40 pm
It surprises me why anyone outside the far and not-so-far left would expect this American administration to do anything but keep walking backwards into a corner...with prudence, or some other "elegant" euphemism, of course.

"coming up with...technologies that don't require fuel..." Craig, this is something I'd expect from Ombi, unless you've got a perpetual motion design in the works. If Japan, more dependent on petroleum than the U.S., had any tech to replace today's internal combustion design we'd be driving it, and I'd be seeing even more Hondas. In the meantime, we sit on MASSIVE quantities of the stuff that we should be pulling up every way possible and combining with everything else we can think of. Lots of blame, over many U.S. administrations, for America's dependence on/rewarding of thugs. "But Canada..." And no damn good reason for dependence on non-thugs either.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 2:03 pm
Craig, much of the problems followed WW2 into the Cold War. Then we have an emerging Clash of the Civilization dialectic. I don't mean to discount oil, but the present problems are found even here from 1946: http://www.danielpipes.org/rr/3370.pdf
amazing considering the time and situation in the world. If you have the patience to read it all, note the excited comments on the potential of Thorium (not to sound obsessed). Yep, we sure made a few mistakes......

The ideology of the Mullah's of Saddam and Assad threaten stability regardless of oil reserves. Are you suggesting that if Thorium replaced oil tomorrow, the ME would still not be on the brink?

The irony of oil of course is that we prevent the Nazis and the Stalin from invading Iran and taking their oil and coast line. The Mullahs backed up the Shah when faced with Russian tanks.

Om, it is foolish to compare the Chinese or the Russians to ME loonies. Perhaps the blight of our era is the ubiquity of false equivalencies. That, unfortunately, is the consequence of relativism's entry into politics. We made that mistake with Hitler and unless I missed something, even this administration refuses to publicly assert a new doctrine of containment on Iran and terrorists.

Wile Obama might not have many options here, ruining one's credibility isn't wise statesmanship. I watched his painful lecturing of Hillary Clinton.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 2:06 pm
Craig, this is something I'd expect from Ombi, unless you've got a perpetual motion design in the works.

I'm not an engineer. I got nuthin, except faith in human ingenuity :)

But, I have a LOT of faith in that. I've worked on projects that were impractical to the point of impossibility, which turned out not to be so.

If Japan, more dependent on petroleum than the U.S., had any tech to replace today's internal combustion design we'd be driving it...

The Japanese are not the world's great innovators. Americans are.

I personally think it is oil interests that have prevented any progress in alternatives to oil. And I note the Japanese have a much worse reputation for corporate corruption than we Americans do, so even if they were masters of creative R&D (which they aren't) there's no reason to expect they'd have worked any harder than Americans have.

In the meantime, we sit on MASSIVE quantities of the stuff that we should be pulling up every way possible and combining with everything else we can think of.

A short term solution, at best.
Posted by: Craig at April 14, 2010 2:13 pm
Granted, R & D isn't Japan's strong suit, and that's probably an understatement. But if becoming the next Bill Gates isn't incentive enough for somebody somewhere, nothing is. I've never bought the oil-is-in-the-way position. Looking at the history of innovation, current tech was a challenge more than a deterrent. I'm no scientist, but I'll guess it's just a damn hard nut to crack, that gets attention we don't hear about because we're results-oriented.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 2:26 pm
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jHAEXkmQYrgFyFke048NoVp5I2zwD9F30T2O0

I'm getting tired of this, but I guess the rhetoric could be worse. It is the substance that counts.

Craig, fossil fuel isn't the solution past short term. Agreed. Still, the conflagration coming isn't a creature of oil gluttony as much as Islamic payback (from their view) and a politic driven by religious perversion and prior programing.

Of course the failure of "moderate" Sunni leadership to form a Task Force or demand action from Russia and China doesn't help. I note not a word from the UN about their utter failure to enforce the terms of the cease fire in Lebanon or the embargo of arms into Gaza.

I think its pretty clear that international justice has a long way to go before it can be relied upon to solve much. When we see Peres defending Netanyahu, we can imagine how critical this mess is becoming.

Carter? Anyone hear from Carter? Lol...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 2:28 pm
Continuing Max's thought, the sideline sitting strikes me as much more relevant, and dangerous, than petroleum issues ever have been. And "international justice"? What's that?
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 3:00 pm
Maxtrue & Paul,

Craig, fossil fuel isn't the solution past short term. Agreed. Still, the conflagration coming isn't a creature of oil gluttony as much as Islamic payback (from their view) and a politic driven by religious perversion and prior programing.

----

Continuing Max's thought, the sideline sitting strikes me as much more relevant, and dangerous, than petroleum issues ever have been. And "international justice"? What's that?


Well, obviously even if we had an alternative to our current crack and could cut the Arabs and the Iranians loose, nothing would change for a while. It took generations to cause this problem and it will probably take generations to fix it. Or, at least 1 generation.

In the meantime, Arabs and Iranians could continue doing what they've been doing but the fact of the matter is that they'd be toothless and could either be ignored or retaliated against. It might take a while for them to figure out that nobody gives a shit anymore, but they'll get the message eventually. having to work for international influence and good relationships is something that people in the ME are unfamiliar with, but people in most other parts of the world have been struggling with for a very long time. In any case, though, that's not the world we live in. We live in the world where everyone needs middle-eastern oil.
Posted by: Craig at April 14, 2010 3:20 pm
Craig, Anyone Else,

How much petro does the U.S. get from North America? I know it's one world barrel to an international market, but I've heard so often that a lot of it never leaves our hemisphere, so I'm curious.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 3:50 pm
Obama has sent anti-missile batteries to the gulf and he's hosted most world leaders recently where he has pushed for sanctions against Iran.


Where is this "mush" you speak of and what do you want the US to do?
Posted by: tg at April 14, 2010 3:59 pm
Graig, you have a point. IF the whole world didn't need ME oil, then this miscreants would be strapped for cash. That was your point, yes? Even with all that money their people live in poverty. I suspect however that the nuts would turn to nuclear, build bombs and still threaten the world. My problem with your generalization is that much of the hatred and ideology isn't oil-sensitive. The venom the Grand Mufti brought back from Berlin wasn't oil-sensitive either. However, I reject the eternal Islamic enemy thesis. Prosperity, security and human nature trumps conditioned religiosity. Poverty and weakness has been a fertile breeding ground for radicalism. To fix this requires much more than alternative energy. The West would likely turn their backs altogether in disgust and violence would sprout even faster.

I read that 1946 Intelligence Report above again today. Had we followed our heads on what we understood to be the issues in the ME and advanced Thorium nuclear energy, our world today would probably be a better more peaceful place.

But then who ever said "progress" was intelligent?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 4:07 pm
Craig, please excuse the Graig....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 4:07 pm
tg, ineffective missile defense systems (and he's cutting those programs here) and a "push" does not peace make.....

Obama has turned down requests from Israel for more advanced batteries of ABMs. Maybe the Russians might sell Israel their S-400 systems.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 4:10 pm
"what do you want the US to do?"

Get serious about cutting off the snake's head. Get sideline sitters whose interests are in the mullahs' crosshairs too to join in before a wildfire explodes. Sanctions---over how many administrations?---haven't produced squat---for our side.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 4:11 pm
What will Iran do? It wants to be an Empire, again. After 3000 years in the wilderness. And, she's collected lots of cards on American errors. We are not liked in the Mideast. PERIOD. While Iran works through proxies on all sides. While the saud's should be shaking in their boots.

Can a house of cards fall down? Sure. Topples when the wrong card gets used. Can Israel be hit? Sure. What does the "closing of the tunnels to Gaza mean? Were a lot of Palestinians going to head for the tunnels, if something dramatic exploded? But now the "get-away" has been closed off? (Egypt doesn't want Palestinians, in droves, looking for sanctuary.)

Of course, if something happens, all bets are off. But the first player that swings has to be iran. Robert Baer bets that Iran would prefer "to be a player."

The saud's played cards back in the early 1940's. With FDR. That's how their relationship with the USA built up. (And, it was Ben Gurion's stupidity to back the French and the British, back in 1956, when they tried to retake the Suez Canal, that frosted Eisenhower.)

Israel's faced "dilemma's" ever since 1956. (Not "The Liberty!")
Posted by: Carol Herman at April 14, 2010 4:17 pm
PaulS,
I believe that the US gets at least 60% of its oil from Canada. It could be more though.

Carol,
I believe J F Dulles was even more "frosted"
Eisenhower later regretted his actions to make Israel return the Sinai.

"Its happened before" was in fact a referral to Suez in 1956 albeit with the French and British.

There have been some persisting reports of massive natural gas deposits discovered off the coast of Israel. If true, it might be a real game-changer, especially if there's some oil there too.
Posted by: yesjb at April 14, 2010 5:20 pm
Interesting point yesjb.
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/04/14/Gazprom-considering-Israeli-gas/UPI-72331271251963/



There's plenty more black and invisible gold: http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_articles/large_natural_gas_deposit_found_eastern_mediterranean

If discovered, whose gas is it, Lebanon's or Hizb'Allah's?

Friedman wondered if Gaza could become the next Dubai back in 2005:
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46534,news-comment,news-politics,will-palestinians-ever-benefit-from-gas-reserves-off-the-gaza-coast

Fossil fuel to the rescue....ironic isn't it? One might argue that these new reserves might be the only thing to diminish Iran's leverage and delay the roll-out of more regional uranium-based nuclear energy.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 14, 2010 7:27 pm
"what do you want the US to do?"

Coordinated assassinations of mid to high-level Syrian and Iranian government operatives around the world. Bury most of the bones where they can't be found and set aside one recongnizable or significant body part. Mail that part to the respective Iranian or Syrian leadership, with a note of polite but clear demands.

This is how Russians, Arabs and some Italians have been doing business and sending each other messages for centuries. If our so called 'civilized' governments are determined to work with and legitimize terror-supporting states like Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, then they need to learn how to effectively communicate with them.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 14, 2010 8:49 pm
Sleeping with the fishes at the bottom of the Mediterranean. I like it.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 9:32 pm
Well, I guess it's fish, isn't it, like moose and sheep?
Posted by: Paul S. at April 14, 2010 9:44 pm
Obama has really very few viable options. I don't think he is "weak" for recognizing this.
There is a rather large signaling issue. If one gives the impression that one will not stand, then deterrence fails. There is a reasonable argument that both the Korean and first Iraq War occurred because the US got its signals wrong, and so deterrence failed.
(Which, as a sideline, also indicates the central importance of the US as the "manager" of the international system.)
Indeed it has, I remember when those Krazy Kommies got the Bomb in the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. I remember how they used to say Mao was insane, didn't have our values, didn't value life, and was willing to blow up the world as long as it destroyed Western imperialism and ushered in Socialism...
But in both cases the US and Western Alliance was very firm about opposition and deterrence. Also materialist eschatologies are somewhat inherently worrisome than religious ones.
There is a lot more flux and uncertainty in the contemporary Middle East than there was in Central Europe from 1948-1989. It is more like the situation in Asia during the Cold War (which is where the Cold War led to actual military conflict) only more so.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 14, 2010 11:15 pm
The Syrians are sending Scuds to Hezbollah and there are no consequences? If Bush was President, Bashar would be have to get permission to go to the toilet.

It is so plain, so obvious, that all these guys understand is force. You give an inch, they take a mile; it's that simple. Obama is trying to play nice and change the image of the U.S. in the region. One would think that he was running in a beauty pageant.
In the Middle East, there are people that are going to hate the U.S. and the West until the end of time, so the trying to fix America's image is the fastest way to lose the whole region.

There is something fundamentally wrong in America's approach. The U.S. government is acting as if it wants Hezbollah/Syria/Iran to end up on top. The U.S. has become so war averse, that when a war that actually needs to be fought is around the corner, the U.S. wants nothing of it. Carter made some mistakes, but Obama may end up loosing half the Middle East if he doesn't get his act together.

I say he should resign and go to work as a high school counselor.
Posted by: Lebo at April 14, 2010 11:27 pm
...what do you want the US to do?

Neville Chamberlain: "But, but, but what do you want me to do?"

Lovers of Peace in our Time: "Well, give him Czechoslovakia---do we really have a choice? (and besides, the Czechs have been treating the Sudeten Germans absolutely abominably, abominably, abominably...)---and then we'll see what happens. (And remember: chin up!!)"

Neville Chamberlain: "Yes, I suppose that is our only choice. Moreover, it is the RIGHT choice".....

And now my dearies: ALL TOGETHER NOW (with special fervor when it comes to the "refrain")---to the tune of "All you Need is Love" (well, more or less):

Peace in our time!
Israel is the most egregious cause of war and instability in our time!
Peace in our time!
Israel must withdraw!
Peace in our time!
Remember Gaza!
Peace in our time!
Remember S. Lebanon!
Peace in our time!
The Palestinians are suffering, suffering!
Peace in our time!
The Palestinians are justified in wanting Israel destroyed!
Peace in our time!
Can you feel their suffering?
Peace in our time!
Hezballah is justified in wanting Israel destroyed!
Peace in our time!
Iran is justified in wanting Israel destroyed!
Peace in our time!
It's about time Obama put an end to Zionist influence in America!
Peace in our time!
And it's about time Obama told the Israel Lobby to kiss off!
Peace in our time!
And if in order to do this, Obama also has to sacrifice America, then it's worth it!
Peace in our time!
Israel's demise is within our grasp!
Peace in our time!
And it's about time, too!
Peace in our time!
An opportunity of a life time!
Peace in our time!
And God is Great!
Peace in our time!
(But atheists are also welcome in this great enterprise!)
Peace in our time!
Peace in our time!
Peace in our time!
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 12:58 am
Barry Meislin - The opposite of "appeasement" is war. Are you, and the U.S., really going to go to war to stop another poor Third World country from getting the Bomb?

Friedman - Gaza! = Dubai. The situations are so different he is criminally stupid to even suggest it. Seriously, and he is the best of the liberal (non-we're-going-to-fuck-you-in-the-ass) American "intelligentsia"?

Why are we supposedly "less firm" on deterrence today? So if a nuclear bomb linked to another government blew up Los Angeles or New York you think the U.S. would just sit on its ass? The U.S. responds to even relatively small mass killings (by the standards of wars in other countries) by launching vast, world-changing crusades (for better and ill). It would be only greater if there were a nuclear attack on America. The foreigners know this. Personally, I don't think American democracy would survive a nuclear attack, the military and national security elite would essentially be given the keys to the country. I don't know if such a prospect frightens or rejoices the Iranians (let alone extremist groups).
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 15, 2010 1:55 am
ombi: The opposite of "appeasement" is war.

Sort of. For the sake of discussion, sure, okay.

But that doesn't mean appeasement and war are the only two options.

For example: Taiwan exists because it is backed by American power, but the U.S. never fought a war with China over Taiwan. We've just made it clear that a military attack on Taiwan would be punished severely enough that it just isn't worth it.

I don't know if that sort of thing will work with Iran. Maybe it won't. It almost certainly won't, though, after Iran has nuclear weapons. Iran can only truly be contained now, yet we aren't even trying.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 15, 2010 2:07 am
Edit - I regret some of the terms used in the previous post. Delete it if you think it too low.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 15, 2010 2:08 am
Single bullet solution: Kill the price of oil.

The next round is likely to be so damaging to all sides that we may have effective deterrence for the first time. That is a good thing, not a bad thing. The best approach is political for now. If Hamas and Hezbollah can be subsumed within the Palestinian and Lebanese governments over time, the powder keg would be somewhat diffused. In order for this to happen, Iran must be weakened. The Iranians have been able to throw their weight around mainly because the oil price has been strong. It is now at $85 per barrel and we need it back at $30. At that level, it will be amazing how suddenly reasonable Ahmadinejad, Chavez and other petro-thugs will be.
Posted by: Joe Hayek at April 15, 2010 2:13 am
Ombi: Why are we supposedly "less firm" on deterrence today? So if a nuclear bomb linked to another government blew up Los Angeles or New York you think the U.S. would just sit on its ass?

No, but that's not the only potential problem here.

Say Iran gets nukes and doesn't use them on Israel. Saudi Arabia and Egypt freak out and get nukes of their own. They say that is exactly what they will do.

Then we have an India-Pakistan style nuclear standoff between Persians and Arabs and Shias and Sunnis who have hated each other bitterly for more than 1,000 years--right in the middle of the world's oil patch.

That would be really bad news for the whole world, especially if some lunatic drunk on his own martyrdom ideology decided to call down the lightning.

No one even has to pull the trigger, though, for it to turn into a gigantic unresolvable problem.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 15, 2010 2:21 am
The opposite of "appeasement" is war.

How very curious....

I could have sworn that appeasement is the recipe of war.

(To be sure, the appeasers ALWAYS have the upper hand, morally, ethically---because THEY are so earnestly for peace, which is the ultimate value!!....and since appeasers appear to have a historical memory and analytic ability inversely proportional to their fervor for peace, peace, peace at any cost, it is practically impossible to have any kind of meaningful discussion about the matter.... Winston Hu? Oh that guy who's bust went bust? Um er, the PM of China? Um er, that guy who fell head over heels for Julia Roberts in that boring sort-of-sci-fi flick? Um, um, um, er, er, er....)

To be sure (did I already say that?), the Palestinians, Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas (oh and the Syrian too---always seem to forget the Syrians...) are also earnestly seeking peace in the tumultuous ME. Earnestly.

That's right. And only Israel stands in the way.....

Which is why Obama is finally trying to be that fair broker, bless him.....
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 2:33 am
Should be "recipe for war"....
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 2:51 am
Appeasement only looks like appeasement in hindsight, after it becomes obvious that it has failed to deter aggression. Until then, it is known as diplomacy.

Appeasement got a bad name because of Chamberlain, but before you use history selectively to make your point, remember how Europe stumbled unwillingly towards war in 1914 and how many millions fell in 1914-18, a mere 20 years before the Munich meeting. The borders of central Europe were redrawn in 1918-19 after a bitter war so why not redraw them without a war in 1938? Remember Germany's economic collapse and the French occupation of the Ruhr as late as 1925. Diplomacy in 1938 was worth a try, and only appears foolish now that we know the aftermath.

Even Churchill said 'to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war'
Posted by: Joe Hayek at April 15, 2010 2:56 am
In 1914, the absence of diplomacy led to war. But in 1939, it is now argued that too much diplomacy (appeasement) also led to war. Point is there is no direct cause and effect. With the same approach, outcomes will vary depending on a different set of conditions and a different set of players. Chamberlain in 1914 might have prevented WW1.
Posted by: Joe Hayek at April 15, 2010 3:15 am
Yes, "appeasement" can certainly be defined as "negotiating".... One can even quote Churchill on the matter.

Convenient, no doubt.

(Reminds me of that historian who claimed (earnestly, of course) that nothing can really, really be learned from history.)
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 3:27 am
My point was the reverse. You can't call a negotiation "appeasement" except in hindsight, after it has been shown to fail at deterring aggression.
Posted by: Joe Hayek at April 15, 2010 3:42 am
I mean "appeasement" as it is used nowadays, a pejorative that inevitably leads to war.
Posted by: Joe Hayek at April 15, 2010 3:44 am
Indeed, one only knows that appeasement is appeasement when one turns around for some self-congratulation (Now, that's some damn good negotiating, if I say so myself!!) and it bites you in the glutes.

So I suggest that we can this (fruitless) discussion 'til we get bitten.... (or not?)

(Though riddle me this: just why? why? did Munich leave such an ashen taste in the mouths of, well, at least some....? )
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 4:06 am
Joe, you're making good academic arguments about appeasement, but there are differences between appeasement and diplomacy. Making unilateral concessions to attempt to deter somebody who is obviously bent on aggression is not diplomacy. It's appeasement. Diplomacy (in my personal opinion, of course) involves resolving matters in such a way that both sides feel their grievances have been addressed even if they aren't completely happy with the outcome.

I think Thomas Jefferson had something to say about this too :)
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 4:14 am
Besides,

Aggression, or the threat of agression, can only be deterred by a (credible?) show of force, which includes a (credible?) will to use that force if/when necessary. (Of couse, who defines "necessary"?---No doubt, these days, the aggressors themselves....)

Which is why nations such as Israel, such as the US, such as the West must be accused of, cast as villified as, viewed as being themselves the aggressors by.....

Oh forget it. One would have thought it was obvious (but then, one is always making these kinds of mistakes.... These real-world issues, so inane, so unfashionable, so, ugh, unpleasant....)

P.S. Remind one, kindly, why Iran continues to blast the US for the latter's "aggressive" policies and threats against the Islamic Republic (cough, cough)? And while we're at it, why did (the sovereing state of!) Lebanon last week (or two weeks ago---well, no matter, it's become a regular occurrence) warn the Zionist Entity against starting another war against Lebanon, yadda, yadda?

Of course, one could reread Orwell, but then what's to prevent us from interpreting him as being in favor OF ministries of (you name it) or applauding that jack-boot forever stomping on a human face (e.g.) given the state of human perversity these days.
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 15, 2010 4:19 am
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7592063/Major-powers-resume-Iran-sanctions-talk-as-Ahmadinejad-threatens-US.html


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/world/middleeast/15nuke.html

The 2007 NIE Report is the basis of assessment? Only a fool would still use this document. Even the IAEA thought it was a bad joke. MEK says the US underestimates the number and operational status of secret facilities.

Sobering words may begin the shift of Jews away from the Democratic Party.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1163330.html


When engagement becomes appeasement:

http://ncr-iran.org/content/view/8053/1/
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 5:42 am
[...] this in a comment on Michael Totten’s site: [M]aterialist eschatologies are somewhat inherently worrisome than [...]
Posted by: Materialist Eschatologies « Geoff's Blog at April 15, 2010 6:56 am
"President Roosevelt one day asked what this War should be called. My answer was, "The Unnecessary War." If the United States had taken an active part in the League of Nations, and if the League of Nations had been prepared to use concerted force, even had it only been European force, to prevent the re-armament of Germany, there was no need for further serious bloodshed. If the Allies had resisted Hitler strongly in his early stages, even up to his seizure of the Rhineland in 1936, he would have been forced to recoil"

Winston Churchill
16 November 1945

James, Robert Rhodes, ed. Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol. 7, 1943-1949. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 4:05 pm
Paul S.,

And had we not made sure Hitler's nuke program didn't work out (bombed heavy water plant) the world might be a terrible place today. He was awfully close to nukes and delivery systems.

Fortunately his racial hatred made critical brains leave Germany.....

Some related news....

Even Huff is rethinking Syria. They seem surprised: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hussain-abdulhussain/rethinking-engaging-syria_b_539216.html

China lies: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304628704575185793982188932.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

China won't blink on real sanctions: http://www.philly2philly.com/politics_community/politics_community_articles/2010/4/15/43827/chinas_protection_iran_results_stonew

Will Obama's strategy increase the odds of an Israeli strike? http://www.lincolncountyrecord.com/pages/100415_obama

Again, Huff breaks tradition and hails the Heron: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-thomson/new-iranian-nuclear-deter_b_538824.html

Aljazzera is dreaming: http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/04/201041518456825580.html

I hope the updates shed some news on the boiling pot.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 4:19 pm
Also, I hope everyone understands that Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country. For those sporting the eternal Islamic enemy thesis, here's this:

http://ncr-iran.org/content/view/8056/1/

As I said, in a diverse community, moderation seems to hold despite the majority being Muslim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia

They stopped the gasoline, but China picked up the slack....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 4:26 pm
oil, SE Asia & history:

During WW II, Balikpapan, Borneo was known as the Ploiesti (Romania) of the East, as important to Japan as Romanian fields were to the Reich. I wonder what its status has been since.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 4:42 pm
Interesting Paul. China is going to have problems down the road once radicals turn their attention Eastward.

Given the control Assad has over his Press, this is wonderful, isn't it?

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4102.htm

Carter, Pelosi, Kerry, Carter again, Senators, envoys, Clinton (insulted) and the Syrian Press responds with rationality and civility.....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 4:58 pm
"China is going to have problems down the road once radicals turn their attention Eastward."

I suspect China's "String of Pearls" naval bases ringing southern Asia is part of a preemptive move.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 5:04 pm
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB721.pdf

For those who don't know what String of Pearls means....

South Korea raising their boat. If NK sunk it what will China do? Block transits to Syria and Burma? One Chinese bound tanker sinks in the Straits of Moluccas, shipping stops.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 5:58 pm
http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/04/print/summary_of_april_15_panel_on_o.php

Good article on Iran and their relations with Syria
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 6:08 pm
Talked to an ex-Bush Admin official tonight. He pointed out that even the Saudi king told Hilary that sanctions won't work. The N. Korean dictatorship impovershes and starves its population for nukes; does Obama think the Ahmedinejad & his bosses are any less dedicated? Therefore, it may make sense for the U.S. should consider abandoning sanctions now and contemplate war soon, rather than an even bigger war later.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 15, 2010 8:12 pm
Therefore, it may make sense for the U.S. should consider abandoning sanctions now and contemplate war soon, rather than an even bigger war later.

I agree that the longer we wait the worse it's going to be. And I'm not convinced that Obama doesn't intend to do anything. There's a pretty good chance he's just sandbagging until he can get us clear of Iraq and either announce success or failure in Afghanistan. I think there's a reason he put a time limit on US involvement in Afghanistan.

That's about a 1 year time frame.
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 8:27 pm
"There's a pretty good chance he's just sandbagging until he can get us clear of Iraq and either announce success or failure in Afghanistan."

I'm afraid we're just kidding ourselves here. Obama is actively working to REDUCE American influence in the middle east to the detriment of freedom and human rights, whether U.S. troops are involved or not. Remember the pro-West faction winning a narrow victory in Lebanon last year? It all went to waste because Obama refused to support them. Lebanon is now nearly a full satellite of Iran as a result and passport applications in Tyre have increased sixfold, for Lebanese anticipate another Iran-sponsored war with Israel, soon.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 15, 2010 8:37 pm
Just one ray of hope: the analyst said that Obama acts this way because he thinks he was elected to a no-more-war platform. I pointed out that's not quite right, since even candidate Obama wanted to expand the Taliban/Al Qaeda war into Pakistan. The Taliban war was popular in the Democratic Congress.

So maybe Obama is very responsive to public and congressional opinions. Time to write letters to your senators and congressmen, people!
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 15, 2010 8:54 pm
"maybe Obama is very responsive to public and congressional opinions."

Based on what? Certainly not Obamacare. And he sent his AG to tell black parents in DC (who voted for him) to take parent public school choice ads off local tv. And did OBCare include tort reform? I see who he responds to; follow the signatures on the checks.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 9:14 pm
Craig, if you were right, Obama would get on Air Force One and go to Israel next week. There he would walk with Natanyahu to the Wailing Wall and declare it to be the sacred property of the Jewish people. He would convince Netanyahu to agree to a one year freeze to all but safety related building in East Jerusalem in exchange for a resumption of military supplies including the newest MOABs and air defense weapons.

Obama should loudly declare before the Dome and the Western Wall an international right for all people of faith to assemble in Jerusalem as well as the right of Palestinian control of Arab sections of East Jerusalem. Affirming the absolute need for security, he can recommit Arabs and Israelis to a near 100% withdrawal from occupied territories as defined in the Two-State Barak/Clinton map. What he has not done is create the gravitas born from the winds of war.

He should give clear public warning that the US will not accept the obstructionism or aggressive behavior of Iran, Hizb'Allah, Syria or Iran and he will recommend NATO participation in an Arab Task Force to counter such threats. He will declare the importation of illegal weapons into Gaza and Lebanon carries with it the liability of force and that the leaders of Syria will be held responsible for the actions of their proxies.

He will point to the vast unequal distribution of wealth and poverty of the ME and push for the US development of Mediterranean energy assets with the participation of Russia and Europe. By clearly defining his adversaries and showing through action who his best friends are, Obama can generate credible signals necessary to thwart the enemy. If not, he sets the stage for round two. By thus engaging now, he can begin the process Craig suspects will come later. Without such preparation, it will be too late.

While I would like to think Obama has a real two track strategy, I do not see one. He handles conflict reluctantly. The sinking of the NK ship is serious and likely a deliberate act of war. Missiles from NK have been interdicted. Syria and NK are working with Iran. NK scuds might be those approaching the Bekka Valley. Obama knows this, but I don't see the strategy. Given that no ground war is planned in Syria or Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq are not pressing our resources. Our air force and Navy are largely prepared. In fact, a new conflict would give Obama a reason to shift strategies. Conflict raises oil prices for Russia. Saudis know they can rebuild with prices soaring. It might even make alternative energy competitive.

So let's see if the "secret" strategy emerges, or we slip into containment and withdrawal signaling the decline of American power.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 9:22 pm
"He should give clear public warning that the US will not accept the obstructionism or aggressive behavior of Iran, Hizb'Allah, and Syria. He will recommend NATO participation in an Arab Task Force to counter such threats. He will declare the importation of illegal weapons into Gaza and Lebanon carries with it the liability of force and that the leaders of Syria and Iran will be held responsible for the actions of their proxies."

Sorry about the typos...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 9:25 pm
Solomon2,

Obama is actively working to REDUCE American influence in the middle east to the detriment of freedom and human rights...

If that is what Obama is doing, I don't have any problem with it. The Arab middle-east is not our friend, why should we work so hard to have political influence in the Arab ME? To avert war? And how do we avert war? By trying to twist everyone's arm and coerce them? And besides, how effective have we been at averting war anyway? Will there be more wars if we reduce our footprint? Maybe so but at least THOSE wars won't be our fault. I really have an objection to putting American lives on the line to try to win brownie points with people who are going to hate us no matter what we do.

What I'd object to is Obama ignoring real trouble for his own country, in cases like Iran. Saying "it's none of our business" is compatible with my libertarian philosophy. But, only when it really isn't our business. If the IRI is not America's problem, then whose problem is it?

re: Lebanon,

It all went to waste because Obama refused to support them.

That's not Obama's fault. HA took over on Bush's watch. And I don't think there's anything Bush could have done about it. Do you disagree?
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 9:30 pm
Maxtrue,

The sinking of the NK ship is serious and likely a deliberate act of war.

And also an overt ceasefire violation, but it should be up to the South Koreans whether they want to interpret it as such since it is their capital city that is within range of North Korean artillery batteries. If there is a resumption of hostilities, I don't really see how Obama could keep the US out of it even if he wanted to, since we were participants in the Korean War and are party to the ceasefire agreement. That has the potential to get extremely ugly, since China was also a participant in the war and in fact the ceasefire was negotiated between China and the US. I'd be very surprised if the Chinese let the North Koreans break a ceasefire that includes them. If that happened, best case is China says "enough is enough" and does something about North Korea itself, because other scenarios are game-changers for the whole world.
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 9:45 pm
China won't do anything about NK that even remotely risks triggering a tsunami of refugees streaming over their border. Advantage: NK.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 9:53 pm
"If there is a resumption of hostilities, I don't really see how Obama could keep the US out of it even if he wanted to, since we were participants in the Korean War and are party to the ceasefire agreement. That has the potential to get extremely ugly, since China was also a participant in the war and in fact the ceasefire was negotiated between China and the US. I'd be very surprised if the Chinese let the North Koreans break a ceasefire that includes them."

I wouldn't be surprised, but is is shocking intellectually. China is building a huge naval base in Pakistan, but that doesn't keep them from selling weapons to the Taliban.

If Iran sees that having a bomb allows them to sink adversary ships with impunity......
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 15, 2010 10:04 pm
If Iran sees that having a bomb allows them to sink adversary ships with impunity......

North Korea's deterrent is China, not nukes.

But that's not to say the IRI will understand that. It doesn't seem to be any secret that the IRI thinks having nukes would make it immune to attack. Which is pretty stupid, considering how many wars nuclear powers have fought in the last 60 years. I guess they think that the rules are different for them. And why shouldn't they? Haven't the rules always been different, for them?
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 10:09 pm
Paul,

China won't do anything about NK that even remotely risks triggering a tsunami of refugees streaming over their border.

What makes you say that? Seems to me that China has always been able to find a use for cheap (or free, even) labor. I'm really curious about where this particular piece of conventional wisdom comes from. Was it planted by the Chinese themselves, by any chance? Perhaps as an excuse not to do more about their "rogue" client state?
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 10:12 pm
They don't speak Chinese. They have to be housed and fed. They haven't had decent healthcare in their lives;they have to be kept alive to work.

They're are millions of them.

They cost a lot of money.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 10:22 pm
And unhealthy people spread disease.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 10:24 pm
Which costs more money.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 10:25 pm
Paul, you almost seem to be saying China has a good human rights record or something? Since when did slave-laborers need to speak the language, or have health care? Off they go to work camps and collective farms, like happy little communists everywhere.
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 10:38 pm
Call me a cold hearted capitalist, I guess.
;-)

Actually, I had a student from Seoul who told me stories, passed down to him, that would break your heart.

Sam also passed on to me an old Korean saying: the wise man is silent; the foolish man speaks. This was the quietest, and one of the nicest, kids I've ever met.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 10:39 pm
Craig, my point was that they cause more problems than they are any solution to fiscally.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 10:44 pm
Besides, China has how many? hundreds of millions they already need to keep occupied? Because of the population size, the scale of ANY problem they have dwarfs any we could have. And epidemics can spread quickly. Which cuts into anyone's bottom line.

If they don't keep pumping out product they're "knee deep in sheep dip", as a midwestern rancher might put it.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 15, 2010 11:00 pm
Paul, my ex-wife grew up in Guangzhou. I don't want to get into a heart-breaking stories competition, but I think Westerners make a big mistake when they try to apply the Western value system to China. I simply don't believe that an influx of North Korean refugees into China would pose any significant "problem". At least, not for the capitalists and government officials who run the country.
Posted by: Craig at April 15, 2010 11:21 pm
"Westerners make a big mistake when they try to apply the Western value system to China."

Here we agree. But keeping an already overabundant labor pool healthy and occupied isn't culturally specific.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 12:37 am
Here we agree. But keeping an already overabundant labor pool healthy and occupied isn't culturally specific.

Then we don't agree, after all :)

I don't think the Chinese care any more about keeping peasants healthy and occupied than European feudal barons did during the middle-ages. That's changing with the improvements in the Chinese economy leading to more people being middle class "franchise holders" in their own nation-state, but refugees would not be in that category.

Maybe I'd put China on a par with the west in the early days of industrialization. Maybe.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 1:44 am
Chinese leaders fear one thing: civil unrest. The number of incidents of anger and lawlessness are actually quite significant and under-reported. That is why 7%+ growth rate in GDP is necessary to keep a lid on things. Chinese leaders are scared to death of disorder. The increased wealth has yet to reach hundreds of millions who live in poverty.

Sending armies into the country-side to impose order in not what leadership wants to do. There are a number of myths about China. China does not want to absorb North Koreans and have let the situation fester much like Russia allows Iran to be a thumb in the eye of the West. Putin doesn't need Iranian oil and HU doesn't have the oil to give NK. What keeps China rolling along is trade surpluses and the pretense that there criminal justice system is not based on torture. There is tremendous discontent leaving aside the problems in West China. If China resorted to draconian measures, trade would dip, technology transfer would slow and their ball would start rolling in the wrong direction. Countries like Japan and India would show more resistance.

It is interesting how China and Russia spin from Micheal's post. Were these two to get on board with the West, Syria, NK and Iran, the three nations working together to reach the nuclear grail, would be stopped. There would be no cover. We shall see what Russia and China do, but don't count on much no matter cease-fire arrangements or the closeness to the precipice the world is getting....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:27 am
ugghhh excuse the typos...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:30 am
http://www.rr.com/news/topic/article/rr/9000/10963710/Hezbollah_says_its_missiles_not_Israels_business
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 6:42 am
What I don't understand is *why* China and Russia think it's in their bests interests to poke the US (and many other players) in the eye on Iran. How China and Russia's best interests served when Iran goes nuclear, thus setting off a nuclear arms race in the most unstable part of the world that also happens to float on most of the world's known oil reserves? Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the entire industrialized world, IMO.
Posted by: semite5000 at April 16, 2010 9:09 am
excuse me: "How are China and Russia's best interests ..."
Posted by: semite5000 at April 16, 2010 9:10 am
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/opinion/17iht-edlet.html

This is what the NYT reports. On the other hand Debka and others are saying the WH has made secret contacts with Ahmadinejad to formulate a Grand Bargain that will legitimize Iranian hegemony from Lebanon to Afghanistan. While this has been a fear from before Obama's election (see Odum's Grand Bargain), some sources claim Ahmadinejad's comments today and his letter to Obama reveal this secret track Americans have not been privy to. History will be harsh on the consequence of such a move and it will give context to Obama's uncomfortableness with our present military superiority and superpower status.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/04/16/iran.obama.letter/

If it turns out that Obama was formulating a Grand Bargain all along, heads will roll come November. Scuds would not be suspected in Lebanon were not with the blessing of Iran.

China and Russia are served by upping the ante for their help in defusing issues. Although short sided given the dangers, they do not seem as worried about nukes or terror. Is that dumb? Yes, but perhaps cracking US hegemony is more important now than considering the future......
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 9:23 am
Brief history lesson: had they not used "appeasement" in 1938 there would have been war in 1938. Instead they got a war a year later, in significantly worse circumstances, partly because of the rapid seizure of Czechslovakia (made possible by Munich) but especially because of the failure of the Franco-Soviet alliance (also made possible by Munich).

Whenever people talk of "appeasement" it is always to attack someone's manhood. Practically, I don't know what these people what to do about Syria or Iran or anywhere else. Yes, you can sanction a little more, pass a UN resolution or withdraw an ambassador. Woop de do. Unless you war, invasion or bombing, don't flout the word "appeasement". No invasion will remain out of fashion for another 20 or 30 years. We can debate the merits of bombardment, whether it is warranted first, but we can really question whether it would be effective... Even conventional forces (Revolutionary Guard, etc.) cannot be eliminated outright by bombing alone.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 16, 2010 9:55 am
Every politician you can name has been on the take. Including the dweebs at the UN. While, yesterday, Bibi said "Israel is not the 51st State of the UN."

And, by going public with this knowledge (which got transfered in secret), Israel is sending messages. Including the one that all Israelis had to return pronto-tonto from the Sinai.

What happens next? I don't know. But at least Israel is mapping out reasons it will "respond." Sort'a like the way it did when it went to Dubai. We're told "by stampede." And, we're told Nasrallah "won" in 2006. And, Dubai "won" against the Mossad, just recently.

(Oh, Sherlock in Dubai, did say that along with all their exposed footage of an "operation," the Israelis used "sophisticated electronics." Seems all the cameras got shut down at the "crucial point." While for all I know the televised terrorist was just a double. Lillihammer revenge, anyone?
Posted by: Carol Herman at April 16, 2010 10:42 am
"Whenever people talk of "appeasement" it is always to attack someone's manhood."

Now that is nonsense. America didn't destroy Chinese nuclear test sites when we could have back in the fifties. Was that appeasement? We had a different strategy that seems to have worked. What is out strategy in the ME? Russians and Chinese were far more rational than the leaders we face now. And please don't tell us that isolationism didn't lead to WW2. Had we been far more forceful and been part of the negotiations after WW1, the second might not have happened. Each situation is unique and succumbing to Iranian hegemony with Syria as a partner is tantamount to appeasement.

Calling those who utter the word appeasement as attacking someone's manhood is deflecting the issue into the inane. I disagree about 1938. Plugging up the hole in Belgium would have been significant. In fact, one could argue banning WMDs made conventional warfare more likely. Did you know that WMD ended WW1. Do you know what it was and how it sealed Germany's defeat?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 10:46 am
Let me give you a hint. It begins with the letter F.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 10:49 am
Or a longer form of the same word begins with the letter I.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 10:49 am
China had a different purpose in obtaining nukes than Iran does. Mao said something like, "I don't need a thousand atom bombs, I only need six. Then no one will touch me." Historically, China expands slowly and deliberately - it is still swallowing Tibet, which it invaded over sixty years ago. Eventually central rule reaches a limit and the country fractures into rule-by-warlord followed by invasion, then the process starts all over again. (7,000 years of history compressed to a paragraph, but you get the idea.)

"why should we work so hard to have political influence in the Arab ME? To avert war? And how do we avert war? By trying to twist everyone's arm and coerce them? "

A century ago you might have said, "the Ottoman middle east." Five years from now, will you be comfortable with saying, "the Iranian middle east"? We avoid big wars by preventing the formation of big, authoritarian or totalitarian empires. That's been U.S. policy for ninety years now. First the Ottomans and German-Austro-Hungarians, then the British and French, finally the Russians - the U.S. is an anti-imperial power. That keeps wars small. Giving Iran leave to expand revives the age-old nightmare of a West Asian monster reaching out to conquer Europe or Africa, and once more scattering the peoples of nation-states within its bosom, the better to master them while the imperialists seek to expand their power further.

IMO, the current lot ruling Iran will only be happy when their rule extends from the Nile through Arabia, Anatolia, the Caucasus, etc. to the Hindu Kush and the "Great Satan" America is somehow punished or destroyed. The Obama Administration should not kid itself here. The mullahs are experienced at co-opting democratic politicians with smiles and destroying them once their purposes have been served.

Ombrageux, the 1938 Anschluss wasn't the test of the democracies resolve. The 1935 occupation of the Rhineland was. The Nazis were so weak then that if the French contested it Wehrmacht officers would probably have removed Hitler from power. Once Hitler got away with that he knew that France at least was rotten and was confident that the democracies would collapse in short order.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 16, 2010 11:19 am
Maxtrue, I disagree with most of what you said about China, but I don't think there's any point in arguing about it :)

Solomon2,

A century ago you might have said, "the Ottoman middle east."

And I would have. The US had no beef with the Ottomans, nor did they have any beef with us. In fact, World War I in its entirety could have and probably should have been skipped by the United States. It had nothing to do with us, and it the warring powers of WWI posed no threat to us. And who knows? Maybe WWII would have been averted.

Five years from now, will you be comfortable with saying, "the Iranian middle east"?


As long as the Islamic Republic is gone at the time.

But, wouldn't you agree with me that US actions more than anything else have boosted Iran's influence in the Arab world? How much worse would it be to say "The Iranian middle east" if they come to dominate the region as a result of what we've done?

And by the way, I was using the term "Arab middle-east" to differentiate it from Iran and Israel, not as a token of ownership.

We avoid big wars by preventing the formation of big, authoritarian or totalitarian empires.

Who is we? The Cold War is over and I'm not a neocon.

That's been U.S. policy for ninety years now.

That was US policy between 1945 and 1990. That's 45 years. And, the cold war is over.

...the U.S. is an anti-imperial power.

Or should be, at any rate!

IMO, the current lot ruling Iran will only be happy when their rule extends from the Nile through Arabia, Anatolia, the Caucasus, etc. to the Hindu Kush...

You earlier argued that the US was "ignoring" human rights in the name of our national interests. Do you think Americans should fight and die to provide human rights to people in other countries? I do not. People should fight for their own rights. IF they were fighting for their own rights and asked for our help, I MIGHT be OK with helping them. But when they are NOT fighting for their own rights, and they tell us to stay the hell away from them, then how crazy is it for us to think it is our job to go and secure their rights for them? Likewise, if Iran (under any leadership) was expanding into all those territories you listed and people were resisting that, I MIGHT be OK with helping them. IF they asked for help. How crazy would it be for us to tell Iran what it can or can't do, when the people it is trying to dominate aren't even asking us to get involved?

...and the "Great Satan" America is somehow punished or destroyed.

Bingo. The US needs to war their asses because they are our enemies, and because they have made war on us. Period. We don't need any other reasons, nor do we have any other valid reasons.

The Obama Administration should not kid itself here.

Why not? Every other US administration has. If Obama actually DOES SOMETHING about the IRI, he will be the first. In the meantime, he's just like all the others, no better and no worse.

The mullahs are experienced at co-opting democratic politicians with smiles and destroying them once their purposes have been served.

Actually, I think the mullahs are a bunch of transparent idiots. American politicians and diplomats don't need much encouragement to make major policy mistakes.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 11:47 am
Solomon2,

China had a different purpose in obtaining nukes than Iran does. Mao said something like, "I don't need a thousand atom bombs, I only need six. Then no one will touch me."

He didn't even need six. Nobody wants to fight a land war with China. The nukes were necessary as a deterrent to nuclear attack, not as a deterrent to ground invasion :)
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 12:29 pm
wouldn't you agree with me that US actions more than anything else have boosted Iran's influence in the Arab world?

Some U.S. actions have, some haven't. (Probably not useful of the U.S. to coddle Syria, go easy on Hezbollah's domination of Lebanon, etc. Very useful, however, to try to establish bulwarks against Iranian domination by securing democracy in Iraq and defending the Gulf Arabs and Afghans.) But it's the aggressive, expansionist stance of the Iranian mullahs themselves that has "boosted Iran's influence" throughout the region. If the U.S. didn't exist, they would have already dominated the region and probably threatened Turkey and Europe.

That was US policy between 1945 and 1990.
Wrong. It's been U.S. policy since WWI.

Who is we? The Cold War is over and I'm not a neocon.

"We" as in "we Americans". This is what the nation has done, whether led by a Republican or by a Democrat. This is what Bush and Bill Clinton were doing. If Obama wants to pull a Roosevelt (whose mantra of "I hate war" blinkered the American public for years) then a lot of people are going to die until he feels compelled to reverse course.

We Jews say "Never Again" as our response to the Holocaust. Jews like me push U.S. policy towards that end. I feel no shame for doing so: it is moral and it is also in America's interest. But there is every evidence that Obama doesn't feel that way. The seats he's supposed to appoint to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council remain unfilled. Officials of the Administration cancel meetings with Jewish groups suspected of wanting to ask difficult questions. This stuff adds up...

You earlier argued that the US was "ignoring" human rights in the name of our national interests. Do you think Americans should fight and die to provide human rights to people in other countries?

With discretion and in the national interest, certainly. When not in the national interest, less so. But in no way do I endorse Bill Clinton's approach of pretending nothing is happening when in reality the U.S. could have done something to alleviate the horrible massacres that happened in Rwanda during his watch.

People should fight for their own rights.

You can say that only because you and your family are neither helpless nor threatened with slaughter for doing so. Oppressed peoples, once they realize their situation, have very little recourse.

if Iran (under any leadership) was expanding into all those territories you listed and people were resisting that, I MIGHT be OK with helping them. IF they asked for help.

The Green Revolution wasn't enough for you? Those under the mullahs thumb can't easily or safely do so directly, but expats can. Once Obama declared "hands off" however, what sense is there to risk one's remaining family by appealing to the U.S. for help? Nevertheless, I believe the expat community should be doing so. Napoleon would eventually have been defeated but might not have been toppled if it wasn't for Madame du Staël.

"The Obama Administration should not kid itself here." Why not? Every other US administration has.

Not to this extent.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 16, 2010 1:07 pm
Maxtrue - It's been true every time it's been pronounced, on Suez, Vietnam or Iraq... China's revolutionary regime was if anything younger and more radical when it got the Bomb than the system that governs Iran today. It also was a far, far larger and more powerful country than Iran will ever be. It is a common neocon technique to portray small, poor, technologically backward countries - weaker than a single Great Power - as somehow capable of "hegemony" if not outright world domination (just like the supervillains you read about in comic books). This allows them to bomb/invade/civil warrize said countries.

Oh, and WMD did not end WW1, the use of tanks by the British and U.S. participation did.

Solomon2 - Your phantasmagoric vision of a "West Asian monster" empire is ridiculous. It is a bit like when some French neocons (much more brutal than the American variety) tried to scare people into thinking the Communists/Russians would take over Algeria if France left. De Gaulle responded: "Well, if they want to try, I wish them all joy in the world!" The Iraqis may be mostly Shia, but I expect the Persians to meet only blood and tears if their soldiers try to control any Arab nation, including Iraq (let alone Syria or Saudi). The time for empires has been over for a long time. "The winds of change" have been blowing for over half a century. It took the British until 1956 to understand, the French until 1962, the Russians until 1989... the Americans still haven't understood the lesson, despite the skill of your Vietnamese teachers (admittedly, the French had to be taught by the Arabs too before finally being civilized).

Regarding the interwar years, I was referring to the Munich cession of the ethnic German Sudetenland, rather than Austria (which was a fait accompli, not the product of negotiation). Although I find your referring to French "rottenness" a little ironic considering they were following the British diplomatic lead. France was then economically and demographically weak, unwilling to really cooperate with the Soviets, and therefore dependent on the Anglo-Americans for help. They had occupied the Ruhr in 1920s for German non-adherence of the terms of the treaty of Versailles and been punished economically for it by the Americans (run on the franc, etc.) They had learned they couldn't do anything without the 8 or 10 divisions Britain might provide (British land forces on the continent in 1940 were about the same size as Belgium's). Whether or not this was wise is another question..
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 16, 2010 1:33 pm
Wow. Jefferson would have strongly disagreed Craig. Liberty was something he thought required pro-active effort. The meaning of Libertarian has come a long way I guess but I should be glad that I found a more hawkish one from the bunch.

As far as imperial, we ARE an empire (albeit a declining one), or should I say we still lead the Liberal Democratic Empire and not necessarily ready to go under. Our reach has worked only because we are an invited empire willing to incorporate just about anyone willing to honor human rights, proliferation and international justice. Unlike the Romans, our model works (leaving aside recent egregiousness)like no other before. Well, at least in theory anyway.

Such a benevolent empire takes allies and will. The failure to achieve even more than Democracy has already is a result of shared neglect by nations that know better. Still, beyond the sacrifice of 6 million Jews and millions more, nuclear holocausts were avoided through WW2. Can't say that would have happened if WW2 hadn't happened just at the cusp of old and new.


What has boosted the influence of Iran is the completely failed strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was started by the Grand Mufti. They inculcated their populations for so long with a meme they could not delive (and based largely on Nazis), Iran seized the empty rhetoric and spun the Sunni leadership as weak and corrupt TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE. They combined their own Shia psycho-religiosity with already conditioned minds and plotted a strategy that would restore Muslim pride, vilinize the West and displace the Sunni leaders. Its all there in the US Intelligence Report of 1946.

The US backed the Sunnis, the Shia and Israel to secure oil and allies against the Soviets. These two causes were rather inseparable -so much so we supported the Shah to thwart Soviet intentions and quietly lectured the French and Israelis about their bombs. A more isolationist policy could easily led to an entirely different and more problematic history. Given the alternative universes, we navigated rather well.

In reality, the Arabs failed to defeat Israel or deliver their own people into prosperity. They created the seeds for today's conflict and even now have trouble curbing the very street they helped to pervert.

Iran run by a bunch of transparent idiots? Well what does that make us as we lose this game?



I mentioned MRRs a while back Craig to suggest that conflict can reach new horrors despite the lull in World Wars. Gone is the luxury of retaliation. Given the behavior of China and Russia, the increasing difficulty of WMD forensics in a high tech world, the non-involvement Libertarians seek has consequences even greater than action. If it was just Iran, it would be easier to curb.

No, there hasn't been a significant war in many decades. I can only guess if now we go from Imperial to imperiled.

Iran did call Obama America's Gorbachev...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 2:24 pm
The spread of influenza into the final fortifications of the German line of defense, ended the war. it was brought there by US troops. It originated in a huge central allied camp likely created by mixing pigs with human viruses.

My Grandfather said his life was probably spared having been a POW in a German camp far from the front line for almost 18 months. Soldiers at the time feared the Flu more than bullets or American tanks. As the Flu spread among the German soldiers who had largely been spared, they started dropping likes flies and the Germans surrendered....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 2:29 pm
Your phantasmagoric vision of a "West Asian monster" empire is ridiculous

As ridiculous as the Roman, Ottoman, Persian, Greek, Babylonian, and Arabian Empires? Possibly, but much more deadly, you can be sure.

The time for empires has been over for a long time.

That's what the mullahs are working to bring back. Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Sadr's gang -- all Persian satrapies.

I find your referring to French "rottenness" a little ironic considering they were following the British diplomatic lead.

Churchill claims that was a self-serving myth on the part of France's leadership. You should be able to figure that out yourself. When before WWII did France ever act according to an allied Britain's leadership in policy or on the battlefield? DeGaulle himself only managed it at D-Day because the Brits kept him uninformed until the last moment.

the Americans still haven't understood the lesson, despite the skill of your Vietnamese teachers

America, Khruschev observed, had a problem distinguishing national liberation from communist movements, a perception the Soviets did everything they could to muddle. I do like to think we can see matters a bit more clearly now.

They had occupied the Ruhr in 1920s for German non-adherence of the terms of the treaty of Versailles and been punished economically for it by the Americans (run on the franc, etc.) They had learned they couldn't do anything without the 8 or 10 divisions Britain might provide -

That argument made DeGaulle barf, you know that? France had both the tools and the manpower. What its politicians lacked was the will and its military leaders the competence to challenge Nazism.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 16, 2010 2:35 pm
Maxtrue, had not heard or read of this before.

I have read a fair amount of WWII material over the past four decades or so, and spoke with my Father who walked from France to Germany (and helped liberate a few Concentration Camps along the way) and he never mentioned it. Course, Dad did not particulary care to talk with non-combat troops about his experience, even with family.

Eastern Front, perhaps, rather doubt it on the Western Front.

Bullets from the Allies ended the war, not the Flu.

If you have source material I would appreciate links to same.

Regards,
Posted by: Ron Snyder at April 16, 2010 2:38 pm
Solomon2,

Some U.S. actions have, some haven't.

Which haven't?

Probably not useful of the U.S. to coddle Syria, go easy on Hezbollah's domination of Lebanon, etc.

Hezbollah put itself on the map by bombing the US embassy in Lebanon (twice), by their infamous suicide bombings of the US Marines and the French peackeeping mission in Lebanon, by kidnapping Americans and other westerners in Lebanon, and by hijacking American passenger planes. What would have happened if Reagan had just declined to send peacekeepers to Lebanon? The mission was bullshit anyway. Evacuating the PLO, which was surrounded by the Israelis? That's something the US had to do?

Very useful, however, to try to establish bulwarks against Iranian domination by securing democracy in Iraq...

Are you serious? You think the current government in Iraq is worse for Iran than Saddam was?

...and defending the Gulf Arabs and Afghans.

Defending them from who? Iran?

I don't know if you've noticed, by Iran has a lot of support amongst Arabs these days - because Iran stands up to the US, and their own governments don't.

But it's the aggressive, expansionist stance of the Iranian mullahs themselves that has "boosted Iran's influence" throughout the region.

Yes, and Khomeini announced his intent to export his revolution to all Muslim countries starting with the Arabs more than 30 years ago. If we were trying to prevent that, we did a pretty sorry job of it. Instead of being opposed to Iran as Arabs historically are anyway, Arabs found themselves caught in the middle between two opposing forces that they loathed.

If the U.S. didn't exist, they would have already dominated the region and probably threatened Turkey and Europe.

With what? Ideology? It's been many centuries since Iran posed a military threat to its neighbors. Iran was not even able to defeat Iraq in a war that lasted 8 long years.

Wrong. It's been U.S. policy since WWI.

That explains why we went to the mats with Germany in the 1920s then :D

"We" as in "we Americans".

My family has been here since the 17th century. I am not American?

This is what the nation has done, whether led by a Republican or by a Democrat. This is what Bush and Bill Clinton were doing.

Screw them.

If Obama wants to pull a Roosevelt (whose mantra of "I hate war" blinkered the American public for years) then a lot of people are going to die until he feels compelled to reverse course.

Thomas Jefferson sat out the Napoleonic Wars. If Thomas Jefferson thought NAPOLEON could be ignored (and he was right, the problem of Napoleon sorted itself out without the US getting involved) then who are you to say that's not how "Americans" do things?

We Jews say "Never Again" as our response to the Holocaust. Jews like me push U.S. policy towards that end.

I'm not Jewish. I do, however, believe that the US needs to continue supporting Israel.

But there is every evidence that Obama doesn't feel that way.

Yes, I agree... I'm not comfortable with Obama's stance on Israel or Iran. And I think he's trying too hard with Arabs, and trying the wrong things.

me: Do you think Americans should fight and die to provide human rights to people in other countries?

S2: With discretion and in the national interest, certainly.


I see. So if the US decided it was in America's national interests to safeguard the human rights of Palestinians, you would be OK with that? The US unilaterally imposes a two state solution that is deemed "fair" by Americans, and sends a couple hundred thousand troops in to make sure there are no violations. That's fine? Because I wouldn't be surprised if Obama went that route, if he thought he had support for it.

When not in the national interest, less so. But in no way do I endorse Bill Clinton's approach of pretending nothing is happening when in reality the U.S. could have done something to alleviate the horrible massacres that happened in Rwanda during his watch.

Isn't that the job of the UN? Isn't that the mission of the UN, as laid out in the UN Charter? If the US has to do it, why does the UN even exist at all?

You can say that only because you and your family are neither helpless nor threatened with slaughter for doing so.

I can say that because my ancestors fought for my rights. And I am willing to fight to maintain their legacy.

Oppressed peoples, once they realize their situation, have very little recourse.

It seems to me that Palestinians have demonstrated a lot of vigor in their resistance to Israeli oppression. Too bad Arabs don't turn the same level of attention against their own governments. Do they need Americans to come and rescue them?

The Green Revolution wasn't enough for you?

I didn't see anyone in Iran calling for US troops to come and help them get rid of the IRI. I wish them well, and I hope they succeed. I even think the US should offer as much political support as possible to them. But that's as far as I'm willing to go.

Those under the mullahs thumb can't easily or safely do so directly, but expats can.

I haven't been very impressed with the performance of Iranian expats on Iranian.com - the most vocal and apparently influential of them never stopped hammering on Israel and the US, all throughout the events of last summer. After they all but endorse the IRI's anti-US and anti-Israel positions, you think they have any clout with the US Government, or US citizens in general? Most of them could have helped the green movement a lot more by just keeping their damn mouths shut.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 2:39 pm
Om, it is rather foolish calling Iran a backwards and technologically inferior nation. I would almost call it racist. Your assessment of radical Chinese leaders ignores the State of Technology at the time. Mao had little means to directly hurt us. Ho Chi Min didn't like him and Vietnam fought a war with China. Your history leaves out the obvious point cruise missiles and stealth bombers didn't exist. The network for flag flag operations didn't exist. No matter how radical, what could they do? Create the strategy of unrestricted warfare? Spy as much as they could. Steal Russian designs and then sell their products for a profit? By the time China acquired the technology to threaten us, they had necessarily reformed and mutated into a more rational regime.


At no point did they emulate the Mullahs. Certainly as harsh, they did not even proxy the kinds of terrorists the Soviets did. They realized there most dangerous threat is within, The Mullahs would sacrifice their nation if they saw it advantageous. They would first rather sacrifice Sunnis.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 2:44 pm
As far as imperial, we ARE an empire (albeit a declining one)

Does the U.S. collect taxes from imperial subjects or tribute from its satrapies? Do we move around national populations from one part of the globe to the other? Is its own population oppressed from the central government? Does the U.S. currently or forseeably in the future colonize new lands? No, we don't do those things. The U.S. has not, therefore, crossed the line between being a nation (albeit a powerful one) and an empire.

What has boosted the influence of Iran is the completely failed strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Interesting p.o.v.

The spread of influenza into the final fortifications of the German line of defense, ended the war. it was brought there by US troops.

I hadn't realized that the flu was such a big factor.
Posted by: Solomon2 at April 16, 2010 2:45 pm
Wow. Jefferson would have strongly disagreed Craig. Liberty was something he thought required pro-active effort.

In foreign countries? lol

Have you ever actually read any of Jefferson's quite prolific writings on the subject? Spend a few minutes with Google and come back and tell me that :)
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 2:54 pm
Last few thoughts on China (which maybe doesn't get as much attention as its growing power warrants.)

As pointed out earlier, millions are unemployed and in poverty during relatively good times; more when times aren't as good. More low-skilled immigrants (males in particular?) isn't helpful. Especially when arriving in the millions, bringing who-knows-which diseases, ready to spread from a lifetime of poor nutrition and little healthcare. And no, Craig, I don't expect Beijing to offer any refugees a Maocare health plan. I live in a town that, before The Compassionate Ones began welcoming "guest" residents---arriving with no records of medical or criminal history---used to have a TB rate of zero. This is a flea on the back of the problem China could face if that human tsunami starts rolling.


And "why does the UN even exist at all?"
Excellent question.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 4:03 pm
Solomon2 - Do you sleep uneasily at night in fear that the Mongols or the Macedonians will sweep across Eurasia conquering, pillaging and raping everything in their wake? I mean, it's happened before!

Please don't talk about de Gaulle unless you know something about him. Everything about France and 1940, and the years before, is misunderstood by the general public, particularly in North America where the issue is sharply ideologized. It's taken professional historians a lot of work to cut through (in turn) the Petainist, Gaullist, Nazi, British and American myths on this subject.

By the way, empires are not necessarily *colonial* or *formal* empires. The Soviet Union did not levy taxes, imposes colonists, or directly administer Eastern Europe. It did, however, have what could reasonably be described as an "Empire" there.

Maxtrue - Iran's GDP per capita is 10% that of the U.S. It's scientific establishment, academia and military-industrial complex represent virtually nothing compared to the U.S., and indeed, the Western world generally. That is, by any objective measure, "backward". It is not racist to point out underdevelopment, even if it is an inconvenient truth that doesn't fit well with the absurd "rising Islamist totalitarian superpower" narrative.

The relevant technology Iran has access to has not evolved much since Mao: atom bombs and rockets. In any event, Iran would never use these unless suicidal (which a few people claim they are, but given this would be completely unprecedented historically, the burden on proof lies with those who claim there is such a thing as a suicidal nation).

You are correct that the Vietnamese and Chinese hated each other. That fact did not prevent Johnson and Nixon from waving the specter of a "Chinese-dominated Southeast Asia" just as people imagine the ME will be under Iran unless we "get tough". I don't doubt the Arabs would welcome their Persian would-be overlords with the same warmth the Vietnamese reserved for the Chinese.. (or the Americans/French, in both cases).
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 16, 2010 4:45 pm
Ron,

My Grandfather hailed from the NYC enlisted. They had that red and black NYC on their green helmets. In October 1918 200,000 soldiers died of the Flu. The war end November 18th 1918. In the end, Germany lost a quarter million soldiers to the flu, much of it coming after the first wave hit allied forces,

http://firstworldwar.cloudworth.com/spanish-flu-pandemic-1918-influenza.php

More sources?

I read two research papers a few years ago confirming my suspicions and linked them on the now defunct centristcoalistion blog. You can see that entries on Google "flu and ww1". I will have to play detective to flush them out again now their archive is closed, but I do remember I noted them on a military history blog.

The Germans were indeed exhausted but with the introduction of US forces, they were pressed even harder. My claim was that the deadly flu delivered by American forces broke their back, more than the flu had effected the allies.

The out break of more deadly form of flu on the front line was traced to American soldiers being treated with a sickness by camp doctors. The researcher after discovering the origin of the flu, read the medical records for the soldiers and noted symptoms of the more deadly form, though the doctors were apparently unaware of the implications.

The soldiers shipped out feeling a bit better. The ground conditions were seasonally wet. The American soldiers returned to the last defensive tunnel system the Germans had as the temperature dropped into the fall. It was cold and wet. The flu spread on the front line positions. The research papers also collaborated the theory with diaries of German soldiers taken aback by the ferociousness of the spread. These front line troops had been relatively spared the flu and its epidemic in the last defensive trenches was a serious nail in their coffin. Order broke and this contributed to the decision for German command to sign an armistice.

It is true the allies suffered huge flu losses, but with the influx of fresh US troops and a German army experiencing rapidly spreading sickness at the worst possible moment, Germany had little energy to resist. The WMD of flu though inadvertent and natural in cause, ended WW1.

As for tanks

"1918 Sept. 26 - The Battle for Mountfacon was the most serious failure of the V Corps in the center. The 79th was a green division that failed to take the hill. The tanks came up at 8 pm and the 313th regiment attacked at 9:00 pm. The tanks took heavy fire and retreated. The 313th attack failed that night, but next morning, with reinforcements from the 157th and 158th brigades, and the 314th regiment, the attack of the 79th division succeeded in taking the hill by noon, using grenades and a one-pound gun to destroy machine gun nests.

1918 Sept. 26 - The I Corps advanced on the left with the help of tanks. Patton himself walked to the front, saw his tanks stopped behind a ditch with its only crossing blocked by a stalled Schneider tank. Patton personally directed the crossing of the ditch, at one point hitting a man in the head with a shovel and killing him. He walked behind the advancing tanks into machine gun fire, everyone fell flat to the ground, but Patton had a vision, saw his relatives in a cloud above the German lines, said "It is time for another Patton to die" and asked for volunteers to go forward, five of six were killed, Patton was wounded in the leg, Pvt Joseph Angelo, his orderly, stayed at his side as reserve tanks came up and destroyed the machine guns and Patton was evacuated to the hospital. Most of the tanks broke down and played a small role in the Argonne offensive where the terrain was too hilly or wooded for tanks.

1918 Sept 29 - Pershing order a halt to the offensive, due to heavy rain, German reserves strengthening the defensive lines, and increasing number of troops hit by the flu. Gallwitz had brought up 10 reserve divisions to stop the Americans. Haig had moved forward the most in the north and was critical of the French and Americans as being too slow.

1918 Sept. 30 - For the first time in the war, the Americans retreated. The German counterattack at Cierges on the Kriemhelde Line forced back the 35th Division."

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww1/yanks.html

It was about this time Germans experienced a sharp up tick in flu attributable to hand to hand combat with the Americans, or so more recent researchers suggest. I will revisit sources later as not to emulate Debka........
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 4:46 pm
Om, your response is so silly I don't know what to say. China had no ballistic missiles in the early days of their revolution, nor any bomb. No matter how crazy you think they were, their newly published first edition of China Daily...lol posted a glowing tribute to the US and recognized a common history of alliance. Do your Google and confirm yourself what I just said. We were comparing Iran to China so why shift to compare Iran to the US? Given the sanctions and their economy, they have been rather resourceful, How did they make carbon based P-2 centrifuges, domestic cruise missiles? Underdeveloped is more "restricted development" they are trying to break out of. Hell, Hilter chased out the best brains too, but that says nothing about the Iranian's smarts.

Since Iran murdered Jews in Argentina using proxy Hizb'Allah, why would we need Iran to START action by launching a nuke? That would be stupid. They will use nukes to deter reaction to terror, much like the world might do nothing after NK sinks a North Korean boat. China did not try such things and you are intentionally twisting the logic. Iran intentional produces weapons with little fingerprints. They build their plausible denialbility like any first rate power....

You sound like Chomsku, but indicating to Japan and others the force behind arming the Viet Cong was China and we would contain them, was pretty sound. How we came to reject Ho Chi Min I will leave to the French and the emerging Cold War paradigm after WW2.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:01 pm
Om, your response is so silly I don't know what to say. China had no ballistic missiles in the early days of their revolution, nor any bomb. No matter how crazy you think they were, their newly published first edition of China Daily...lol posted a glowing tribute to the US and recognized a common history of alliance. Do your Google and confirm yourself what I just said. We were comparing Iran to China so why shift to compare Iran to the US? Given the sanctions and their economy, they have been rather resourceful, How did they make carbon based P-2 centrifuges, domestic cruise missiles? Underdeveloped is more "restricted development" they are trying to break out of. Hell, Hilter chased out the best brains too, but that says nothing about the Iranian's smarts.

Since Iran murdered Jews in Argentina using proxy Hizb'Allah, why would we need Iran to START action by launching a nuke? That would be stupid. They will use nukes to deter reaction to terror, much like the world might do nothing after NK sinks a North Korean boat. China did not try such things and you are intentionally twisting the logic. Iran intentional produces weapons with little fingerprints. They build their plausible deniability like any first rate power....

You sound like Chomsku, but yes, indicating to Japan and others the force behind arming the VietCong was China and we would contain them, was pretty sound. In the end it worked, unless we unravel. As for Vietnam, a sound government at the time would have helped.

How we came to reject Ho Chi Min I will leave to the French and the emerging Cold War paradigm after WW2. Personally, I would have worked with him. Didn't we imvade Vietnam for their oil?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:06 pm
You guys are talking about different wars.

Maxtrue, are you claiming the swine flu/spanish flu epidemic was caused by the US? :o
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 5:06 pm
Michael, please erase the first of the "Om, your response..." In fact, if any of the winded diversions clutter your thread, remove the boring ones.......

Thanks...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:08 pm
No Craig, I made that clear. Pigs and possibly avian flu mixed at an Allied staging ground. It eventually infected US troops who introduced it to those Germans defending the final fortifications.

It was inadvertent and of natural causes (though the base set up the best conditions for the needed mutation)

It still acted like a WMD and ended the war. For an earlier example of conscious WMD use, see Brits fighting the Indians before our revolution. Small Pox in blankets I believe.

Some crackpots claim the US Army manufactured the 1918 flu at Riply base. I believe some former reformed SS officer said that before he died. Its on Google. It goes to show the impact however of the flu in the final hours of WW1 from the German perspective.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:15 pm
Long week, please excuse the typos like NK sinking a North Korea boat instead of a South Korean one. Working and writing doesn't mix sometimes...

Again, sorry about the typos and double post, but I think one can follow the words if not the logic.....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 16, 2010 5:19 pm
That's an extremely controversial and as far as I can tell unscientific claim!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic

While World War I did not cause the flu, the close troop quarters and massive troop movements hastened the pandemic and probably increased transmission, augmented mutation and may have increased the lethality of the virus. Some speculate that the soldiers' immune systems were weakened by malnourishment as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility.[11] Andrew Price-Smith has made the controversial argument that the virus helped tip the balance of power in the latter days of the war towards the Allied cause. He provides data that the viral waves hit the Central Powers before they hit the Allied powers, and that both morbidity and mortality in Germany and Austria were considerably higher than in Britain and France.[12]

A large factor of worldwide flu occurrence was increased travel. Modern transportation systems made it easier for soldiers, sailors, and civilian travelers to spread the disease.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 5:21 pm
Not a problem, Max. Proofreading takes additional time and energy; sometimes we have limited quantities of both.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 5:23 pm
Looks like my wiki link went to moderation. Maxtrue, check wikipedia's entry for "1918 flu pandemic". I don't think your claims are supported either historically or scientifically.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 5:24 pm
"claims..supported either historically or scientifically."

I don't trust Wiki to be seismically stable bedrock to begin with; or maybe I'm just a hopelessly skeptical cynic. As I tell the kids about health advice, let's get some science (and, in these cases, verifiable history) under our feet first.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 5:33 pm
Paul, I don't trust wiki either but that's far from the only source of information on the 1918 flu pandemic. And besides, when I was a kid one of my neighbor's was an old Swedish lady who had lost her whole family to the "swine flu". If American troops went into Sweden in WW I, I never heard of it.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 5:46 pm
I'm always open to adding reputable bookmarks. 'Problem is, on the 'Net especially, popularity can overwhelm veracity. I'd love to know about solid sources for our topics.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 6:18 pm
I'd love to know about solid sources for our topics.

Google is about the best any of us can do when it comes to an internet discussion. Do you find anything in Google that you'd consider reputable which attributes the 1918 flu pandemic to American soldiers?
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 6:25 pm
PS-Still waiting to hear back from Maxtrue about whether, after consulting google, he still thinks Thomas Jefferson would vehemently disagree with me :)
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 6:26 pm
That would take some digging, and, like science, replication.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 6:28 pm
lol. If it takes that much digging, it's probably not "reputable" right?

Jefferson quotes, on the other hand, are very easy to find! He's one of the most famous revolutionary intellectuals in the history of man.
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 6:43 pm
Speaking of Jefferson...I'd like a good bio, shorter than the Dumas Malone set. Madison too. Suggestions? Three tries and I've yet to make it through the McCullough bio of Truman; I don't have the patience to wade through the minutiae about his ancestry.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 6:44 pm
"easy to find" is where popularity needs to be sifted for veracity. Curtis LeMay and the stone age quote is an example, according to a recent biographer.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 6:48 pm
Maxtrue - They are both useful comparisons. The Americans are so quick to pee their pants over Iran even after infinitely more powerful countries, China and the Soviet Union, had the Bomb in the past (and China had ballistic missiles before the U.S. decided to recognize it). The comparison with the U.S. is useful to show Iran's massive inferiority compared to the lone superpower. Iran's real weakness is useful to downplay for anyone who wants to bomb that country.

I don't know what you were trying to say about Ho Chi Minh. The French tried to reimpose White supremacy in Vietnam after WW2. The French successfully repackaged the colonial war as a "cold war conflict" to a few poorly informed and imaginative Americans. They replied by orienting the vast wealth of the United States towards paying for the majority of the financial cost of the remainder of the war. You can answer better than I well they fell for the charms of French imperialists..
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 16, 2010 6:51 pm
Paul,

Speaking of Jefferson...I'd like a good bio, shorter than the Dumas Malone set. Madison too. Suggestions?

I've never read his biography myself! I don't really have any interest in that, anyway. There was a documentary about him 10 or 15 years ago that i watched and wasn't happy about as I felt it ignored his important contributions in favor of depicting him as just another deeply flawed human being, which is interesting in a way I suppose but is hardly the story of Thomas Jefferson. I think there was a (written) bio of him by a well known historian 10 years or so ago, but the main purpose of that seemed to be to prove he was an atheist or something. At least that's the impression I got after having to refute bullshit claims quoted from the book for about the 100th time. That certainly seems to be the gist of what most people who reference that particular (crappy) work took away from it.

And that's why I don't like to read Biographies! They are only as reliable as their authors are.

"easy to find" is where popularity needs to be sifted for veracity.

That's what we have the Library of Congress for :)
Posted by: Craig at April 16, 2010 7:03 pm
I agree that if there's an agenda to spin and/or an axe to grind biography is a disservice. Context/the man-in-full holds my interest. For any baseball (especially National League) fans, "Branch Rickey, Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman" by Lee Lowenfish does just that, and I recommend it.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 16, 2010 7:10 pm
Craig and Paul, I was renovating in my building during the posts, so yes, proof reading is a bitch. Given the possible building strike here in NYC on Thursday, I'm lucky I have three projects in my own building should contractors be banned for a few weeks.... (check out on Monday Michael..I better pay you for my bandwidth usage)

1. Jefferson supported Liberal Democratic revolution abroad as well as going after those nasty Muslim pirates. I don't think I really need to give you sources about his internationalism, do I?

2. I will dig up the links on the flu, but I do not understand what is so controversial. Most experts agree that the flu ended the war as both sides had reached exhaustion. What I said was that American soldiers who attacked the final German fortification and last line of defense exposed German front line soldiers with the more lethal version of the bug they had picked up via the allied bases. It spread quickly and was the nail in the coffin so to speak.

The research I must redig linked camp medical reports to those American soldiers who likely had the beginings of the deadlier strain and were sent back to the front. The timing fits. In October the American forces experienced enormous sickness and diaries and reports indicate the illness spread fast in the cold wet tunnel systems and underground areas of the German's last line of defense. German soldeirs confirmed the spread and demoralization too. So what is radical here? Why this is so controversial is beyond me. The outbreak of the deadly flu has been linked to a large depot on the allied side and the researcher I will locate eventually shows pigs, chickens, lavatories and troops were all in close proximity. Connect the dots. The spread of the disease has been studied which do show this to be the likely origin of the epidemic.

Om. one more time. The Chinese were not as mentally disturbed as the regime in Iran. Following the communist take-over, the leadership actually made nice to the US, but we were having little of it. They were no strategic threat to energy supplies or allies given the state of technology. By the time they were a threat, a more rational mindset (although still a belligerent one) emerged. We could have reduced their nuclear test facilities to glass, but we sought containment. History so far, has shown that to be smart and the Chinese however draconian are not the Iranians. The French set us up and made it difficult to negotiate with Ho Chi Min, who was a nationalist that we supported at an earlier point.

The Soviets too, were more rational than the Iranians. Given the rapidly advancing technology and with help from Russia, NK, Syria, China, Pakistan and simple spying, Iran can quickly create the means for global extortion and terror. If you are not bright enough to see how a "backwards" and "poor" country with radical ideology can pose such a threat, then I can only recommend you do more studying. Western predictions on Iran have never held up. They WILL seek low-yield nukes of proven design so they can be fitted on available missiles. More importantly, as makers of some of the world's best IEDs, they can fabricate dirty ones, with zero forensic markings given the lack of present knowledge of their enrichment sources. We have only some evidence of what they are making in biological, chemical and radiological production. It would be racist to think such educated and financed scientists are not up to the task given the help they have already received. You make it sound like an isolated Iran working out of a cave is a great bogeyman to pick on. Wrong spin.
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 17, 2010 5:53 am
1. Jefferson supported Liberal Democratic revolution abroad as well as going after those nasty Muslim pirates. I don't think I really need to give you sources about his internationalism, do I?

That's what I asked for :)
Posted by: Craig at April 17, 2010 9:25 am
I am just taking the pattern of Western scaremongering since WW2 at face value. Since then, any number of people have been either "dominoes" or "puppets of the Russians/Chinese". I just don't buy it. Islam or not I do not think that the Iranians hate their country so much that they want it to go up in flames. Whatever problems an Iranian bomb may cause are neither new (Pakistan, North Korea) nor warrant war or the hysterical reaction of the hawkish chatterers.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 9:52 am
Ombrageux, you would do yourself a favor by reading non-ideological history books. I'm not suggesting you read right-wing books. Just try learning about the past from authors whose political views are ambiguous. You're more likely to get at the truth that way. Right now you come across as an obsessive axe-grinder in thrall to demonology.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 2:48 pm
Craig, I bet this issue comes up again. I'll direct you to the pages of Jefferson biography, Ellis and even Isaacson. We all know what he advocated in South America, his initial love of the Drench Revolution. Okay later....the flu thing will keep me digging.

Back to Syria

http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=173272 (although US now retreats from their initial position)

despite US retraction, Press is stoking the fire:
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/syria_snubs_bam_t4FN1L1UlQA7lnXM9TsEDK (the point here is crossing the security issue of American Jews)

http://www.yalibnan.com/2010/04/17/iran-slams-us-as-worlds-only-atomic-criminal/#comment-7616

http://www.yalibnan.com/2010/04/17/should-anyone-listen-to-walid-bey/#comment-7614 (Micheal should like this thread)

Sure let's discuss the Lebanese military and then Hizb'Allah with scuds and SA-8s.

Om, there are millions of people who lived free because we resisted the Communists. Greeks, Turks, Iranians, South Koreans, Israelis etc. Smaller powers such as Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Tiawan either relented in their adversarial role, were protected or were purged of destructive leadership. AQ is hailing from caves. While the final story hasn't been written, more people are free than before.

The Iranians won't see their country go up in flames unless the Mullah's miscalculate the reliability of using their people as hostages should they cross the red lines. Hitting Quds or military facilitates though terrible will not burn down the country and a large sector will probably be glad the regime is stung. I will not advocate a strike is needed this second, but Iran needs to see concrete signals we and/or the Israelis are not bluffing.

The Pakistani and North Korean situations are different but they both present problems which is exactly why many do not want a terror supporting regime to have the bomb. I suggest you go to NK or Iran and support their regimes. Since their leadership is so sane and rational and we are the loonies who lie, you will fit right in.

Since the US, Israel and Iran's neighbors do not threaten them, why do they need a bomb? The Western threats now have followed their threats and refusal to satisfy international concern. The whole idea Iran needed a bomb BECAUSE of US threats is laughable. NK makes tha claim too as they raise the sunken South Korean boat. No one thinks the US, China or Russia are going to give terrorists WMD of any kind to hit Iran. The comparisons you are trying to make are absurd.

The strangest reaction to all military action stuff created by nuclear programs this is to deflect serious concern about this threat and point fingers elsewhere. Iran needs to follow South Africa as the Americans have removed Iran's two greatest foes, the Taliban and Saddam, something they could not do.

The thank you is an Iranian bomb?
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 17, 2010 3:20 pm
I'd contribute for one-way plane tickets for Ombi, Cindy Sheehan, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, the Chomsker...to the socialist paradise of my choice if I was convinced they'd stay there. The good restaurant tables would probably be easy to get there for such special friends. I had to laugh to hear who declared they'd leave the country if President Bush was re-elected. Must have had visa problems.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 3:55 pm
In America we call it walking the walk.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 4:00 pm
Maxtrue,

Craig, I bet this issue comes up again. I'll direct you to the pages of Jefferson biography, Ellis and even Isaacson.

I already excluded biographies as relevant source materials. I believe your assertion was that Thomas Jefferson was an interventionist, and that he would vehemently object to what I've been saying here. I am prepared to prove you are wrong about that, using his own personal correspondence and other well documented writings of his. I thought it would be better to let you dig into it on your own and discover the truth about Thomas Jefferson, which is the only reason I haven't already buried you with quotes :)

If you'd rather just let it go, that's fine with me too.
Posted by: Craig at April 17, 2010 4:09 pm
MJT - I don't read "ideological" history books. I do have an axe to grind. A failure by Americans to recognize past injustices (Congo, Iran, Chile, Guatamala, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Panama) is one of the essential reasons why they do not recognize current injustices (Palestine, Iraq). (And the same is true in France, Britain and other places. Why do you think the Poles are obsessed with Katyn whenever they talk to the Russians? And the Israelis with Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denials? Those who don't recognize the evil things they did as evil will have no moral compunction not to repeat them.)

Paul S. - Once again, most of those people would condemn outright tyrannical places (Soviet Union and co.). Unless by socialism you mean "Europe". In any event, it is better to work to improve one's own country than to go into exile. But if they do choose life in France, they can expect to live 4 years longer (on average) than their American compatriots, and will save $3,500 per year on healthcare. And they can still buy SUVs and gorge themselves at McDonald's if they ever want a taste of home!

Maxtrue - No one was "more free" because you burned villages and napalmed children in Vietnam. Nor is Congo better off today for the 35 years of Mobutu's corrupt, vampiric dictatorship imposed and maintained by the U.S.A. Nor is anyone better off because the Americans fostered civil war in Nicaragua. Those who murder for nothing will find the darndest rationalizations. The Cold War augured a horrific phase of American imperialism from which we have still not recovered. It is not to say that, for example, in Europe the Americans did not do good things. It is that until the Americans recognize the evils and excesses they did in the name of the Cold War, they will see nothing wrong with their continued evils and excesses.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 4:09 pm
Craig - Good on you not to read biographies, you shouldn't read anything else either.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 4:10 pm
I could go for a good quote or two, Craig.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 4:13 pm
Ombi: The Cold War augured a horrific phase of American imperialism from which we have still not recovered.

Look, dude. Most of us are unhappy with at least some of what the U.S. did in the Third World during the Cold War, if not most or all of it, including me, but we were resisting Russian imperialism when we did it.

You do realize that, don't you?

We allied with Stalin to defeat German imperialism during World War II.

The world is a damnable bloody mess sometimes, and we're often forced to choose between options that range from terrible to even more terrible.

I'm sorry that that's how it is, but I'm not in charge of how the world works.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 4:15 pm
First person sources are the gold standard. And yes, objectivity is maybe an ideal only, not something fallible humans can pull off. But I can always appreciate a talented writer with no ax in hand, no spin in mind, stepping back a bit and helping me appreciate the man in his time. Especially if its a time before mine.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 4:21 pm
Michael's comment reminds me of something George Will says: People have friends. Countries don't have friends; they have interests.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 4:26 pm
Totten - There is no such this as "Russian imperialism" in the Third World. No such thing. The Russians were never, and this was always obvious, capable of intercontinental domination. Where there is no Red Army there is no specifically *Soviet* tyranny.

It is once again "two wrongs make a right". It isn't true. Yes, we allied with Stalin and it was necessary. But he was no less a murderous thug for everything he did during the show trials, the Purges, the Holodomor or at Katyn. The American attitude consists in saying: well, the Russians were bad, and so Vietnam is a "noble cause", Nicaragua was a "threat", Mobutu was "necessary". It is untrue, it was all awful!

I know well that "that is how the world works" and indeed, the Gaullist quote (Paul S.) is well taken. And this is why the Europeans must grow a spine and stop being the henchmen of the Americans. It is why the rest of the world should unite to protect themselves against the unceasing rampage the Americans have been leading across the Third World since 1945. And good progress has been made. For example, the world can proudly say, the Americans have basically stopped effing with East Asia since 1975. With any luck the rest of the world will follow suit!
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 4:49 pm
Ombi: the unceasing rampage the Americans have been leading across the Third World

You need to calm down. You are absolutely hysterical.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 4:53 pm
A note on realpolitik: part of the reason I post is to denounce and abolish the shroud of "moralism" that covers U.S. foreign policy. U.S. unipolarity, unchecked power, is not in the interest of the world. How could it be? The world needs checks and balances as much as domestic regimes do.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 4:54 pm
Ombi: it was all awful!

That's what I was getting at when I said we often have to choose between options that are terrible and even more terrible.

If you would calm down slightly, we might have a more productive discussion.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 4:55 pm
I am not exactly angry at this moment. That is an objective assessment of the majority of American actions in the Third World, which has not spared any continent or any region.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 4:56 pm
I could go for a good quote or two, Craig.

I'm glad you asked, Paul!

(second time I've done "Famous Jefferson quotes for $100" this month)

http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1470.htm

Topmost one is good:

"By nature's law, man is at peace with man till some aggression is committed, which, by the same law, authorizes one to destroy another as his enemy." --Thomas Jefferson to Edmond C. Genet, 1793. ME 9:136

Supports my libertarian "Leave me alone, I'll leave you alone... or else" thing :)

Non-interference as national policy. He was President of the United States when he wrote this:

"Peace and abstinence from European interferences are our objects, and so will continue while the present order of things in America remain uninterrupted." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1802. ME 10:318

This was also while Napoleon was rampaging through Europe, by the way.

More of the same:

"Determined as we are to avoid, if possible, wasting the energies of our people in war and destruction, we shall avoid implicating ourselves with the powers of Europe, even in support of principles which we mean to pursue. They have so many other interests different from ours, that we must avoid being entangled in them. We believe we can enforce these principles as to ourselves by peaceable means, now that we are likely to have our public councils detached from foreign views." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Paine, 1801. ME 10:223

And so on:

"We love and we value peace; we know its blessings from experience. We abhor the follies of war, and are not untried in its distresses and calamities. Unmeddling with the affairs of other nations, we had hoped that our distance and our dispositions would have left us free, in the example and indulgence of peace with all the world." --Thomas Jefferson to Carmichael and Short, 1793. ME 9:159

I'll leave off there, but just his personal letters could likely fill most of an encyclopedia. His ideology and philosophy are no mystery.
Posted by: Craig at April 17, 2010 4:57 pm
I'll ask my "non-white" asian friends, who chose to become American citizens, why they'd want to be associated with our unceasing rampage. Right wing brainwashing probably.

Classic. Textbook, you are Ombi!

Note to self: don't break your rule again; NEVER waste time and energy debating with belief, ignorance or neurosis.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 4:57 pm
Paul S. - Are you one of those Americans who asks, "Well golly, why are/were all those Latin Americans, Middle Easterners and Asians "anti-American"? It must have been their evil regimes telling them so.."

Although as I said, Asia has been spared America's wrath for some 35 years. They are among the least anti-American these days. But besides, most people immigrate for economic reasons, not because they love the national ideology.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 5:02 pm
"I do have an axe to grind"

And he wants to sharpen it on Jewish necks.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 17, 2010 5:03 pm
"They have so many other interests different from ours..."

I'm onboard with that part.

Thanks, Craig; another bookmark in the collection.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 5:04 pm
Maybe Ombi should have been in Hood River, Oregon today with Cindy Sheehan, protesting the use of drones in Af-Pak, because they "hide the human cost of war."
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 5:11 pm
Paul: Maybe Ombi should have been in Hood River, Oregon today with Cindy Sheehan

Good grief. She's just down the road from me today?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 5:18 pm
Ombi: There is no such this as "Russian imperialism" in the Third World.

So how come Russian foreign policy in the Third World didn't count as imperialism, but American foreign policy did?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 5:19 pm
Michael,

Yes. Thanks to Gold Star Mom, Debbie Lee (Hood River resident), Melanie Morgan and the rest of the great gang at moveamericaforward.org for the updates.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 5:28 pm
Craig,

Got a good Madison site in your archive?

Another note to self: don't put it off any longer; read "The Federalist Papers."
Posted by: Paul S. at April 17, 2010 5:45 pm
MJT - Because, last time I checked, the Russians couldn't organize coups and didn't have hundreds of thousands of troops in foreign countries. (I would only cite Afghanistan as an example of imperialism outside Europe.)
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 17, 2010 6:10 pm
The Russians organized guerrilla warfare all over the world. What would you call it if the U.S. was doing that right now in Venezuela? You seem to think backing the Contras in Nicaragua was imperialism on our part.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 17, 2010 6:14 pm
Michael, I don't think debate on this issue will turn Om. Even Iran is a great example of what he wishes to ignore. The Mullahs feared the Red Army and backed the Generals in giving the Shah more power. After all, the Prime Minister threatened to make his own laws to nationalize British oil without compensation and without approval of the Shah as required by their Constitution. The Mullahs and the British saw this Soviet entry as inevitably isolating Iran and leaving only the Russians to run their oil system. Eisenhower indeed had to pick between bad options, but in the end, the Russians were flabbergasted they lost their prize to a measly million dollar coup.

I could go on and talk about the Greeks fighting a Communist backed insurgency. Even now Hizb'Allah has a private airline operation to Caracas where terrorists can go back and forth. Its a new struggle but a thousand times more dangerous given the technology and anonymity. God forbid we support Columbia or Honduras. If we do as little as some suggest, will we wait for Mexico to fall to narco-terror, or is that too hysterical....lol.

Sure we did some dumb and violent things. The Philippines comes to mind, but communism slaughtered tens of millions of their own. Our resolve prevented the death of millions of more. Expanding markets and alliances limited theirs as the Soviets backed the PLO and dozens of insurgencies. Om's lesson is that we are the enemy and have done little. He mourns Katyn as I do, but somehow ties all the blame to America. We could have prevented Katyn? We knew from Warsaw the world we would soon face.

Back to Syria and Iran: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/world/middleeast/18iran.html?pagewanted=2&src=mv

Given the the administration's lack of anticipating Syrian reactions to repeated gestures, the predictable mess with the JSF and surprise over PAK FA, the constant silence over the fundamental rejection of a peaceful and unified position from Palestinians, the failure to anticipate the real speed, brutality and obsession of the Iranian regime, the illogic of thinking a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis can be achieved without ending Iranian obstructionism, the failure of the UN to disarm Hizb'Allah, the expansion of Pakistani nuclear weapons, the help Iran gives the Taliban, the repeated international drubbings received, I must question the sincerity and depth of Gates comment.

Craig, I'll keep digging. A sharp mind like Ellis however, can draw lines between dots. Jefferson as we know said some contradictory things. His letters to Adams make an interesting read...
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 17, 2010 8:35 pm
Maxtrue, I can connect my own dots. I have a pretty sharp mind, too :)

Seriously, I got tired of arguing about what people thought they read about Jefferson in some autobiography or other on the atheism issue. The man wrote more about his beliefs and his philosophy than probably anyone else in US history. Why go to a second-hand source?
Posted by: Craig at April 17, 2010 9:21 pm
Craig,

Yes, so his letters back and forth with Adams is a good perspective despite his earlier zeal for revolution. We all are dot connectors.


Already the counter-drums are beating: http://sentinelsource.com/articles/2010/04/17/opinion/columnists/free/id_397581.txt

Actually Graham, Schumer and Bayh converging is quite bipartisan. I guess we're hawks and chicken hawks based on the sentinel's view...now establishing credible signals.

Syria is put on notice....next move Assad.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7101106.ece
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 17, 2010 10:29 pm
MJT - The guerrillas the Soviets supported were most often against (neo)colonial empires (Indochina, Angola, Mozambique). There are exceptions we might condemn, perhaps Ethiopia, but on the whole the Soviet role in the Third World was always much smaller, incapable of domination and often against imperialism. Cases where the Soviets fostered war for war's sake should be condemned.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 18, 2010 7:09 am
MJT: I'm sorry that that's how it is, but I'm not in charge of how the world works.

Yeah; we all know it's the Jooooooooooos that are in charge of that. :-)
Posted by: Ted S. at April 18, 2010 8:09 am
Ted, that is way over the top. It's "Joooos", not
"Jooooooooooos". You know how tasteful and restrained Europeans like ombi are.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 18, 2010 9:21 am
I hope you both can imagine one or two reasons, or "possible reasons", why someone might oppose Israel beside antisemitism. Can you contemplate the possibility?
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 18, 2010 11:37 am
Om. the dynamics going on in the ME is more a reflection of a transplanted mindset from Hitler's Berlin infecting the Sunni/Shia abyss than the machinations of Liberal Imperialism and extremist Israelis. In oppsing Israel, opposing what? Their very existence? And is Hizb'Allah the elected government of Lebanon? Is Hamas the negotiating partner for peace? Why this myopic distillation?

Please note Orwell projected a multi-polar world. In reality, the Big Brother dialectic is superimposed by the Clash of Civilization and the Ecological or Biological dialectic a la NeoDarwinism (anthropological foundation of "punishment" and "cooperation" as a selective advantage). The obsessive focus on one dialectic obscures the others. The non-linear conflict in the world is the chaos produced by all three dialectics interacting and becoming more complex in an "open" system rather like a ficus. Your geometry is obtuse......

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=iran&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=nl
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 18, 2010 12:00 pm
Peace is not possible with Israel today. They have no intention of withdrawing the 500,000 settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank so as to allow the creation of a viable Palestinian State. Until the Israelis (and Americans) see otherwise, any Palestinian political party must be for resistance (whether armed or otherwise). "Peace", in this context, is synonymous with collaboration or, in your parlance, "appeasement".

Your bit on dialectics is rather confused. In any event, I don't think the West or the U.S. is the source of all conflict in the will. I am only moved to write in disgust when Westerners deny the ills of the governments that represent them. (Or, as the case may be, that revulsion at Israel's expansionism and wars can only be explained in terms of antisemitism.)
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 18, 2010 12:58 pm
Peace is not possible with Israel today.

At what point in the last 60 years was it possible, then?

They have no intention of...

It's mindset's like yours that make peace impossible. You don't think there are any Israelis who make the same kind of "they have no intention of..." claims? Of course peace is impossible, when nobody even bothers seeking it.
Posted by: Craig at April 18, 2010 1:23 pm
I don't think Israel was the most problematic party between 1948 and 1967. One could have said: "Peace is not possible with Egypt." Israel has been the most problematic since then. If I say the Israelis "have no intention" of giving up their colonization of the West Bank and let the Palestinians viably govern themselves independently, it is precisely because that has been their policy for the past 40 years. There is no reason why this should change.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 18, 2010 2:11 pm
Ombrageux,

Here is Daniel Finkelstein last year in the Times of London.

The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 18, 2010 2:18 pm
"I don't think Israel was the most problematic party between 1948 and 1967."

More gutless, dishonest backpedaling from this mendacious antisemite. You have already said Israel should not have been created and you made the lying blood-libeling claim that Israel invaded Jordan in 1967. This is a pathetically desperate, transparent attempt to come across as "even-handed" but you aren't fooling anyone. *You* are the fool.

"If I say the Israelis "have no intention" of giving up their colonization of the West Bank and let the Palestinians viably govern themselves independently, it is precisely because that has been their policy for the past 40 years." I guess the 2000 peace offer that gave Palestinians nearly all the West Bank and shared control of Jerusalem is just another "historical point" you are fuzzy on, huh? Of course the Pals rejected it and instead embarked on years of bloody terrorism. But ombi can only blame da Jooos because he is a fanatic Jew-hater.

"I hope you both can imagine one or two reasons, or "possible reasons", why someone might oppose Israel beside antisemitism. Can you contemplate the possibility?"

Can you imagine the possibility that some opponents of Israel are motivated by antisemitism? You probably can't imagine anything with that single-digit IQ of yours.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 18, 2010 3:53 pm
Lol Gary, well said.

Om, the Big Brother dialectic is well known. It is the prism of seeing everything through the view of authoritarianism, domination and oppression of State power v the liberty of the "people". Your crap lands there as Israel is seen as some grotesque creature dominating the poor Palestinians in its thirst for more power and territory. You cast its words as Newspeak....

The Clash of Civilizations is another view from both the extremists and the eternal Islamic enemy thesis advocates. I think you can understand that dialectic.

The Biological dialectic is about competition and human behavior driven by biological imperitives from resource conflict to the anthropological necessity of punishment for violations that damage cooperation required of human adaptation. Just google altruism/punishment. This dilaectic is about genes, evolution and emerging organization. See Capra.

You narrow your obsession to one aspect of one dialectic whereas all these paradigms of behavior and discourse mix together to produce reality. The geometry of conflict and the elements driving it are incomplete in your view, in fact, often false.

In such a twisted description of things as they are not, you ignore the essential denial of the State of Israel by the true antagonists and exaggerate any counter-productive behavior on Israel's part. The map is there from 2000 with those areas Israelis were tossed out of decades ago drawn as part of historical Israel. The Wailing Wall is part of Israel and Israelis have shown in poll after poll to be willing to return control of the 95% of the West Bank for something far more rational than what has happened in Gaza. What grand gesture was made by Palestinians for Gaza? Electing terrorists and shelling Israel?

You'll have to expand your view and stick to facts if you seek to win any converts. Well, you'll will here as many converts as Ahmadinejad....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 19, 2010 5:50 am
Well, you'll win here as many converts as Ahmadinejad....

but both work linguistically....
Posted by: Maxtrue at April 19, 2010 5:53 am
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