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Iran's threat. Iraq's threat. The same old BS or not?

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 06:47 pm
OCCOM BILL wrote:
Where Iraq could easily end up a worse enemy for our trouble; the Supreme Leader of Iran couldn't be much more anti-American than he already isÂ… so I don't think winning the peace would be as imperative.

Yes, it's hard to imagine a more anti-American leaders than the current ones of Iran ... but no, that doesn't mean that things couldn't easily get worse than they are now.

I think it's pretty easy to argue that civil war would be worse than the current dictatorship, for one - both for the Iranian population and regional stability (and thus US security).

Not that I'm saying that civil war would be a foregone conclusion of the Iranian regime collapsing. There's a case to be made against its probability.

Eg, Iran has a relatively vibrant middle-class, which has much to lose with anarchy and will thus be more invested in avoiding it by all means than any part of the browbeaten Iraqi population was.

Iran also has a range of reformist and dissident civil society - intimidated and harassed by the government, for sure, but there, and a possible incubator of organised action that could channel revolutionary change into relatively pacible transition.

Conversely, outside the Kurdish region, Iraq had no such civil society at all - only exiles who were no longer much trusted in the country itself, and the religious establishment, which has thus now taken over, in as far as anyone has.

So on those counts Iran looks much more hopeful, when imagining a post-regime reality, than Iraq did.

All of this also suggests some things to keep in mind when comparing the Iranian and the Iraqi regime though, by the way, and the consequences that implies for any suggested case that outright war and possible subsequent civil war is warranted from any humanitarian or anti-dictatorial reason...

Furthermore, the case for a probable civil war should the regime collapse is easily made too.

Eg, the above-mentioned middle class is practically defenceless if anarchy does break out: they have little access to armed defence. The popular/religious militias that do much of the regime's handiwork on the street are ideologically militant, and will not go down without a fight.

There's a distinct militancy in the working-class neighbourhoods too, which is easily harnessed by the fundamentalists (as Ahmadinejad's election victory showed), and could express itself in rioting targeted against the vulnerable, liberal-minded middle class.

Iran is also a huge country, and especially near the borders a mosaic of ethnic groups. Groups like the Azeris could easily try to secede if the country is engulfed in war anyway - even seek unification with Azerbajjan, would bring the Transcaucasian region into the chaos.

There is no comparison with the Kurds, who in Iraq, it's true, have so far been easily persuaded to work within an Iraqi state, because the Kurds there were being worked with by the US/West for years already. There are no similar channels of communication with whatever insurgent ethnicities crop up if Iran submerges into war.

Oh, and those groups would include the Iranian Kurds too; and any (very likely) effort by them to use the fog of war to secede would automatically drag the already unstable (to say the least) Iraq into a civil war.

Finally, imagine the zones of no-control that currently exist and are effortfully being kept limited in Afghanistan and Pakistan, expanded by a huge expanse of inaccessible Iranian countryside. And the hide-outs and operational bases that would facilitate for various extremist and terrorist groups.

In short, the havoc that civil war would wreck both in the lives of Iranians; for Iraq, Transcaucasia, Afghanistan; and in terms of global security could also very easily make Khamenei and Ahmadinejad look like at least an overviewable danger, and one that common Iranians at least could somehow, in daily life, find their way around.

How big is the risk that toppling the current regime ends up in outright civil war? If the regime was to be toppled by popular protest from within, probably still relatively overviewable. But if the regime is to be toppled by enemy bombers flying in and blasting the country's infrastructure and centers of power to smitherees, nearly inescapable, IMO.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 06:55 pm
Bill, I am not ducking anything.

I am mere pointing out that our invasion of Iraq had very steep costs-- $300 billion and rising, over 2,000 deaths and rising , plus political increased hatred in the region and strain on our relationship with the international community..

If we were to quit Iraq today, that would still have very steep costs. We haven't completed the regime change (as there is nothing near a stable government yet) and we would be leaving behind a mess. There is also the real chance that an unstable Iraq would have dangerous consequences. (I am deliberately "ducking" the argument about which plan of action has less costs but that is off topic anyway).

Any way you cut it, the invasion on Iraq is having and will continue very huge costs for the foreseeable. Even people who still support the war (i.e. believe it is worth the costs) should be able to admit that.

Frankly I am surprised that we are arguing about whether there are costs or not (instead of weather the costs are worth it or not).

------
You think there is a cheap way to use military force?

What possible military scenario in Iran would not have just as high costs (which I believe strongly that the US can not afford).

If we take military action without taking out the current regime... we make a stronger and more determined enemy.

If we go in and take out the supreme leader... and then leave... Do you really consider this an option? Do you think that what we leave behind will be less dangerous for the US?

The third option is an occupation. If it is anything like the current occupation, we very simply can not afford it.
-------------
The point is this. Iraq has costed $300 billion, 2,000 US lives. There are 130,000 troops in country with no plans to leave.

We can't afford any another conflict.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 06:55 pm
OCCOM BILL wrote:
Are you deliberately ducking my win the war/peace point? Saddam and any WMD aspirations he may have had were swiftly defeated years ago.

[..] Saddam and any WMD aspirations he may have had were swiftly defeated before manpower, the political will, the international support (or lack thereof) or money become much of an issue. So too could be the case in Iran. "Winning the Peace" is not necessary to eliminate (or greatly reduce) the threat of WMD.

Yes, if I'm reading this right, you're basically proposing that blasting the Iranian leadership out of power and leaving that huge country to fall into anarchy is a defensible option.

I think that is extremely reckless, and would make the place (and the region) much more of a danger still than it is already - for the reasons listed above.

A civil war that engulfs not just Iran, but drags neighbouring countries into it as well, and creates an enormous no-go area where extremists, fundamentalists, and terrorists can roam free among the chaos - not at all a foregone conclusion, but definitely a real possibility, especially of the Iranian regime is literally bombed out of power - would do nothing for American or global security (not to mention the fate of those in the region itself).
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 06:56 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Not to be quoted and just on a gut level I would think that Iran needs some really hard kicks on the nuts.

Too late ... Laughing
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 07:17 pm
I don't for a moment believe that the character of the current Persian President means anything. Rafsanjani had become a non-entity long before he lost his office. The Mullahs and Imams who have organized the corporate control of Persian wealth remind me of the Directory, pre-Napoleon. They are a right-wing counter revolution, and have far more to lose than any notional and atrophied Persian middle class.

I suspect, rather, that this is negotiational posturing not unlike Kim Jung-Il in North Korea. I think they're jerking our chain. They could, in fact, inaugurate a weapons program about which we would know nothing, and play the IAEA game publicly with their known facilities. I think the fact that they make it so obvious that they may have or intend to start a weapons program is an intentional play to devolop some diplomatic muscle--and it may also arise from a perceived need to convince the world that it would be a bad idea to acquiesce in an American invasion. I think both factors are at work here. The loud-mouthed President means no more than Rafsanjani meant when the Persians wanted to appear to be more moderate--window dressing, a mouthpiece.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 07:33 pm
Setanta, Nimh and EBrown. No, no, no, I wasn't advocating such an action as of yet. My post intended to remove "Can't" and "Couldn't" from the table. Our economy is not in shambles today and I don't think a post-bombing of Iran would put it there. I agree completely that we should be discussing the pro's and con's of various actions or diplomacy, but felt the far left fringe's attempts to paint a military solution as impossible should be dispensed with first.

That being said; I hope the international consensus will conclude that military strikes to remove the Nuclear threat is justifiable if diplomacy fails. I'd like to believe that both Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are coherent enough to realize that if the SC agrees this is justifiable; the time for bluffs will have passed. I have reservations about whether or not the UN will be able to come to such a consensus; and further believe that should they fail to do so than a "coalition of the willing" of sorts should be formed to offer the same threatÂ… hopefully with better results than Iraq. Despite the unpopular status of the Iraq war at present; I still think it's harder for our enemies to conclude that the U.S. is a wolf-crier than it was a few years ago. I hope so.

My prior post was intended to illustrate that militarily; the United States requires no help. However, I'm not convinced that the bluff may not be ours, and that without significant international agreement, it will be called and ignored, much like what has transpired in North Korea.

Don't mistake my illustration of the US's superpower status and military abilities as a desire to prove it. I would really like to believe that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei (just like I believe Saddam would have?) will concede in the face of overwhelming international opposition.

The massive difference between Iran and Iraq is that Iran, contrary to some far-left conclusions, seems to really be everything we feared Iraq to be. I hope this difference is sufficient to attract a big enough support group that action proves unnecessary.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 07:39 pm
I'm not convinced that military action would work. I'm with Habibi in the conclusion that it would just further destabilize the region, making it absolute heaven for terrorists and other violent loonies. THe point i was trying to make before is that military action won't acheive anything unless we stay, indefinitely, to provide enforcement and policing.

I doubt the Americans have the will for that (other than PNAC boys and girls, who won't have to do the fighting), and i think it a certainty that you won't get an international coalition to do the policing.

The revenue source is there in the form of the petroleum, and the populations of Iraq and Iran are more than sufficiently sophisticated and well-educated to provide the expertise. Any military intervention is effective only for so long as we remain on the ground.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 08:20 pm
OCCOM BILL wrote:
the far left fringe's attempts to paint a military solution as impossible

OCCOM BILL wrote:
Iran, contrary to some far-left conclusions, seems to really be everything we feared Iraq to be.

Who are you talking about?

Ebrown pretty much portrayed a military solution as impossible; I wouldnt consider him "the far left fringe".

I pointed out that Iran isn't quite the dictatorship Iraq was; and though I'm proud to be a leftist, I dont know that brushing my idea aside as "some far-left conclusions" makes much sense. Totalitarianism in Saddam's Iraq was practically on the N-Korean level, whereas Iran would rank somewhere below Uzbekistan.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 08:24 pm
Setanta wrote:
I'm not convinced that military action would work. I'm with Habibi in the conclusion that it would just further destabilize the region, making it absolute heaven for terrorists and other violent loonies. THe point i was trying to make before is that military action won't acheive anything unless we stay, indefinitely, to provide enforcement and policing.

Yes, thats what I would say too. So I'm not quite sure what kind of military possibilities you are talking about then, Bill.

You say you're not talking about the "bombing the powers that be out of control and leave the country in whatever chaos ensues" option, but that means that "winning the peace" does enter the equation. Which brings us back to the question of whether you really think "staying, indefinitely, to provide enforcement and policing" in Iran as well as Iraq is actually a feasible option?
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 08:33 pm
Everybody makes a lot of sense.

So much so, that one would wonder why anyone would even consider war with Iran.

Unless, you think it would be better than Iran with nuclear capabilities.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 09:21 pm
No Nimh, I'm not suggesting you or Ebrown are part of some left-fringe or far left that's lacking reason. Far from it. Frankly, neither of those are accurate for what I'm trying to say. How do you politely say idiot-fringe? Shocked No, I'm definitely not putting either of you there either. I'm talking about the authors of pieces similar to what Blueflame pasted. I've read some where they have Ahmadinejad's plan as deliberately provoking war with the U.S. and detailing the reasons they would win militarily.

Yes, Saddam was closer totalitarian-wise to NK, but not in WMD potential. No reactor for one thing. His past behavior was worse than either, outside of his borders (though I don't think anyone can match the heinousness of Kim from within). Where Iran parallels NK is in their propensity and probability of acquiring Nuclear weapons if left to their own devices... and in the virtually unanimous international recognition of this danger.

The military strikes I would advocate in the event diplomacy fails are tactical strikes on known nuclear sites with plenty of advance warning should Iran fail to comply with demands. As harsh and destructive as this would be; I would still sell it as a warning shot, with the threat of many more to come if Iran doesn't change it's stance and re-admit the IAEA with truly unfettered access.

I admit this may cause the Iranian populace to stand by their current leadership... but believe it would more likely drive the people to division over whether they should continue on their destructive track. I further believe there is free enough information in Iran and enough people to spread it that a true Iran Vs. the world scenario may very well result in regime change from within.

It would take some doing before I'd advocate blowing up the Supreme Leader, since that would incite the mindless masses who couldn't be reasoned with. Perhaps the idea of advance warnings of pinpoint attacks on Nuclear installations would result in the same... but I don't think so and certainly not to the same extent.

At any rate; I believe the latter is worth the risk if it proves the only way to prevent a Nuclear Iran in the near future. I do think the Mullahs are that dangerous.
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 09:30 pm
One freak with nukes can hold the world hostage.
I mean, they could do anything, ..anything...and no one could stop them.

The world isn't used to a lunatic having nukes.

Israel is GONE in that scenario. And, nothing could be done.

I realize people will say that is a scare tactic, but I'd like to hear other realistic global scenarios re Iran with nukes.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 09:38 pm
Lash wrote:
The world isn't used to a lunatic having nukes.

Well, there's Pakistan.

And there was Khrushchev...
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:03 pm
[only just saw this, nice of you, O'Bill, thanks...]
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:05 pm
Maniacs have had nukes since the early days. What changes with Iran?
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:38 pm
I think Iran is much more maniacal than the current nuke holders--and Khrushchev wasn't a maniac... An ideological opposite, but not a religious freak, wanting 77 virgins, and leading a crusade for Allah. I guess that one good thing about being godless...

And, this is probably why we are sending far more money to Pakistan than any other nation. If we lose Musharref (sp), we're in deep ****. Eh?
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:49 pm
USSR had nukes before and after Kruschev.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:53 pm
nimh wrote:
Lash wrote:
The world isn't used to a lunatic having nukes.

Well, there's Pakistan.

And there was Khrushchev...
My understanding is that even Khrushchev never set the Soviet equivalent to Def Con Three. That territory belongs exclusively to the United States.

Israel may be something of a loose cannon; but they don't have any friends that require their knowledge or weapons.

Pakistan and India are the relative equivalent of kids playing patty cake compared to the danger the Soviets and the States were flirting with.

Pakistan may be more dangerous than North Korea when it comes to spreading the danger. If I understand correctly, the residue after a Nuclear blast can be traced back to its source... and I don't think Kim would risk the backlash.

As for Pakistan; their reluctant cooperation with the United States mirrors the UAE's in many ways. This is the main reason I was so against the shameless dismantling of the Port Deal with Dubai. Rewarding these countries for good behavior is every bit as, if not more important than, punishing them for bad behavior.

This is where Iran and their Supreme Leader rise to the top of the nut pile. With the madman-like rhetoric coming from Ahmadinejad; how could any reward or appeasement be viewed as anything but rewarding bad behavior? This is where we erred in dealing with NK, to disastrous result, and I think it's imperative that we do whatever it takes to stop more and more countries from following in Kim's footsteps.

Also; who knows what limits the religious extremism in Iran's leadership? If they're half as crazy as they project; I don't want to find out.
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 10:54 pm
Yeah, eb. You're correct. What I am saying is even though we were petrified of the Russians, they weren't crazy enough to say they wanted to wipe a country off the face of the earth.

I think the USSR were sensible enough to know logically, that a nuclear war can't be won.

I don't think the Allah-based society has that same belief.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2006 11:07 pm
Lash wrote:
Yeah, eb. You're correct. What I am saying is even though we were petrified of the Russians, they weren't crazy enough to say they wanted to wipe a country off the face of the earth.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
My understanding is that even Khrushchev never set the Soviet equivalent to Def Con Three.

And yet, they came close enough...

We were that close, #1

We were that close, #2
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