The next president gets this problem

Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 07:17 pm
Do you trust Bush or Kerry more to deal with a nuclear threat from Iran? Why?

Axis of Evil, Part Two

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A29

Did we invade the wrong country? One of the lessons being drawn from the Sept. 11 report is that Iran was the real threat. It had links to al Qaeda, allowed some of the Sept. 11 hijackers to transit and is today harboring al Qaeda leaders. The Iraq war critics have a new line of attack: We should have done Iran instead of Iraq.

Well, of course Iran is a threat and a danger. But how exactly would the critics have "done" Iran? Iran is a serious country with a serious army. Compared with the Iraq war, an invasion of Iran would have been infinitely more costly. Can you imagine these critics, who were shouting "quagmire" and "defeat" when the low-level guerrilla war in Iraq intensified in April, actually supporting war with Iran?

If not war, then what? We know the central foreign policy principle of Bush critics: multilateralism. John Kerry and the Democrats have said it a hundred times: The source of our troubles is President Bush's insistence on "going it alone." They promise to "rejoin the community of nations" and "work with our allies."

Well, that happens to be exactly what we have been doing regarding Iran. And the policy is an abject failure. The Bush administration, having decided that invading one axis-of-evil country was about as much as either the military or the country can bear, has gone multilateral on Iran, precisely what the Democrats advocate. Washington delegated the issue to a committee of three -- the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany -- that has been meeting with the Iranians to get them to shut down their nuclear program.

The result? They have been led by the nose. Iran is caught red-handed with illegally enriched uranium, and the Tehran Three prevail upon the Bush administration to do nothing while they persuade the mullahs to act nice. Therefore, we do not go to the U.N. Security Council to declare Iran in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We do not impose sanctions. We do not begin squeezing Iran to give up its nuclear program.

Instead, we give Iran more time to swoon before the persuasive powers of "Jack of Tehran" -- British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw -- until finally, humiliatingly, Iran announces that it will resume enriching uranium and that nothing will prevent it from becoming a member of the "nuclear club."

The result has not been harmless. Time is of the essence, and the runaround that the Tehran Three have gotten from the mullahs has meant that we have lost at least nine months in doing anything to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

The fact is that the war critics have nothing to offer on the single most urgent issue of our time -- rogue states in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Iran instead of Iraq? The Iraq critics would have done nothing about either country. There would today be two major Islamic countries sitting on an ocean of oil, supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction -- instead of one.

Two years ago there were five countries supporting terrorism and pursuing these weapons -- two junior-leaguers, Libya and Syria, and the axis-of-evil varsity: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The Bush administration has eliminated two: Iraq, by direct military means, and Libya, by example and intimidation.

Syria is weak and deterred by Israel. North Korea, having gone nuclear, is untouchable. That leaves Iran. What to do? There are only two things that will stop the Iranian nuclear program: revolution from below or an attack on its nuclear facilities.

The country should be ripe for revolution. The regime is detested. But the mullahs are very good at police-state tactics. The long-awaited revolution is not happening.

Which makes the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent. Iran will go nuclear during the next presidential term. Some Americans wishfully think that the Israelis will do the dirty work for us, as in 1981, when they destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor. But for Israel, attacking Iran is a far more difficult proposition. It is farther away. Moreover, detection and antiaircraft technology are far more advanced than they were 20 years ago.

There may be no deus ex machina. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the "Great Satan" will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or preemptive strike.

Both of which, by the way, are far more likely to succeed with 146,000 American troops and highly sophisticated aircraft standing by just a few miles away -- in Iraq.

[email protected]

© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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ebrown p
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 10:39 pm
Iran, specifically the anti-American hard liners love Bush.

Look what our adventure in Iraq did for Iran:

1. We got rid of their main rival. Iraq under Hussein was Irans number one rival. Iraq was a secular government which kept the theocracy in Iran in check.

2. We reduced the credibility of any deterrence giving the Iranian hardliners in the government the confidence to do as they please. Iran now knows that the US has spent its international politcal capital on the Iraq war. The war has also divided the American public and cost 900 lives and billions of dollars.

The US is in no position to wage another war. Iran is now more confident to continue its nuclear program (in public) because it knows this.

3. We solidified the support for the religious hard liners. There were Iranians who supported reforms (there are considerably less now), but it is a mistake to think that any significant number support America.

The Iranian public sees the invasion of a Muslim country as a terrible injustice. They combine this with a hatred of American policy towards the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Iranians do not want to be invaded.

The same way the Bush supporters use the war to solidify support for their administration, the Iranians are able to use an invasion next door to solidify support for their hard-liners. There is much less call for any kind of reform now.

Bush is Iran's best friend.

They are flaunting a nuclear program because they know that Bush simply can't afford another conflict. Domestic politics won't allow the billions of dollars and thousands of American lives it would cost. America has squandered its international alliances and can't afford to go it alone again either.

It shouldn't be a surprise that since we are bogged down in the quagmire that is Iraq, both Iran and North Korea are ramping up their nuclear programs.

They are not stupid...

Kerry wins this issue hands down. Bush has made a terrible mess and doesn't show any willingness to change.
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Craven de Kere
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 10:44 pm
ebrown_p wrote:
Bush is Iran's best friend.

Fundamentalist Iran's best friend, not reformist Iran and subsequently not Iran itself.
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Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 11:12 pm
I'm assuming Iran and Syria will be dealt with after W. is re-elected. Those regimes have about four to six months to live.
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Craven de Kere
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2004 11:41 pm
Perhaps, and I hope so.

But it is unlikely that they will be "dealt with" through invasion, unless they commit daftitude.

Thing is, the claim that we deal with Iran with multilateralism is misleading. Sure, we have tabled it for others but we are not dealing out non-military hand with much skill.

It's kinda like this (with copious reductionism):

There are two ways of doing it, A and B.

We did B in X and are doing a half-hearted job of A in Y.

It shouldn't be a valid indictment of Y, as the problem may well lie in doing it poorly and not necessarly with the method itself.

I do hope we "deal with" it in some manner, but not necessarily in the blunt force manner you may have in mind, and not necessarily in the reluctant adoption of the alternatives.

Changing regimes is easy, but changing the culture that fostered it is harder. Wisdom in each method is necessary, and pointing to the fact that we are not using the blunt tool doesn't indict the alternative tools as we are simply not really employing them well if at all.
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Craven de Kere
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:22 am
I'm going to steal Finn's sig for two threads tonight where it is particularly apropos:

At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.

Friedrich Nietzsche
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Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:56 am
Bush's father had no problem illegally selling weapons to Iran in the '80s...

Another topic that I have studied a lot, but I again am too lazy to comment in full.
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Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 10:32 am
EVERYBODY sold weapons to Iran (and Iraq) in the 80's. The arms for hostages scandal was never linked decisively either to Reagan or Bush the elder and it is pretty moot now anyway. It is no secret that the U.S. did supply Iraq to keep busy a dangerous Iran led by a fanatical nutcase. Diplomacy takes some very strange forms sometimes.

I wonder how one instigates a 'revolution' in a country rather than invasion? Can we afford to allow Iran to complete its nuclear program? And if Israel acts unilaterally and takes out Iran's nuclear capability as it did Iraq's, will we support Israel's actions?
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ebrown p
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:59 pm
Let me explain the problem in terms that may help with understanding.

Inside Iran there lives a Foxfyre. The Iranian Foxfyre loves her country and believes that supporting her government is part of this love. She believes in her religion and is confident that her country is on the side of God.

The Iranian Foxfyre is just as confident that the religion of her countries adversary is evil and inherently violent. She also believes that her country should be strong militarily and that any sign of weakness is bad since it encourages the enemies of her country.

Inside Iran there is also an Ebrown. The Iranian Ebrown also loves his country, but he believes that questioning and trying to reform his government is part of this love. Though Ebrown will work as hard as he can within the system to make things better, he would never contemplate violence or revolution against his government.

The Iranian Ebrown is from the same religion as the Iranian Foxfyre, but questions the role religion plays in his government. He believes that people in other religions, even the "other" religion, are basically the same (i.e. good) and takes the propaganda against it with a grain of salt.

In spite of the fact that conservatives have a lot of power in his country, the Iranian ebrowns were having success in starting to reform their country. However, when another country threatened Iran with violence, ebrown lost his voice.

It seems that when Iranians feel threatened they start listening to the Iranian Foxfyres. The ebrowns are drowned out. In this case the people give their government more support. They are more conservative and more willing to accept what their government does and says without question.

It should be perfectly clear that although an ebrown questions his government, he still loves his country. He would never support an attack or an invasion. He would do anything possible to ensure that an country that attacked failed and was eventally expelled. Expecting an ebrown, either Iranian or American, to support a revolution instigated by an adversary of his country is completly ludicrous.

The Iranian ebrown and the American ebrown try to understand each other. We believe that the two countries should work together to resolve their differences and we certainly don't want war. We believe that people are people in both countries, and both deserve respect.

The Iranian Foxfyre and the American Foxfyre should be able to understand each other as well as they are quite similar. Unfortunately they seem to be to busy with militaristic rhetoric and demonization of each other to be concerned with understanding.

The Iranian Foxfyre is no more likely to instigate a revolution among the Americans as the American Foxfyre is likely to instigate a revolution among the Americans. And Foxfyres and Ebrowns alike will strongly oppose any attack on their country.

The Ebrown's, both American and Iranian, want to keep working on understanding and reform in a sincere hope that war will never be necessary. We only hope that somehow enough Foxfyres will leave their rhetoric and see past their beliefs to join us.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 04:08 pm
But which one controls the nuclear capability?
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