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A plan to attack Iran? Really?


8:45 am - November 3rd 2011

by Flying Rodent    


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Forced by circumstances to invade and occupy Afghanistan; driven beyond their will to invade and occupy Iraq by the urgent threat of imminent destruction; compelled by humanitarian necessity to destroy large tracts of Libya; pressured into hammering holy hell out of Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen…

…it’s time to make plans for a massive assault on Iran just in case, you know, they back us into a corner. If, like, we’re forced to do it, with sorrow in our hearts and a tear in our collective eye.

I always imagined that one of the good things about being a loose alliance of ultra-belligerent first world nations, armed to the teeth and led by the mightiest military machine the world has ever seen, is that you can force other people to do what you want them to do.

For a full-spectrum dominant, globe-spanning collossus of destruction, it’s amazing how many third-world tiddlers have forced us to reluctant last-resort action. How lucky we are that we just happen to have two of Iran’s neighbours under military occupation!

And let’s be honest – the west’s hand is being forced to attack a nation on the other side of the planet, yet again. After all, the Iranian president has made vague reference to using nukes he doesn’t have, as opposed to our leaders’ passive and non-threatening habit of announcing that “all options are on the table”.

Paranoid types might conclude that “all options” logically includes “total nuclear annihilation”, but they’re obviously not appreciating the finer nuances.

How nice that our government has volunteered to wholeheartedly join in whatever fresh lunacy the Americans may be concocting.

It’s a brave and ballsy move to back up our putative ally’s lastest and easily most insane piece of adventurism yet and I, for one, wouldn’t even consider calling for the entire government to be arrested and charged with treason, unless they were stupid enough to actually do it.

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About the author
Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


A rather immature piece based on piss and wind signifying nothing. You’ll find most of the Libyan people have been rather supportive of the NATO action there.

2. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Timewaster.

@1
Presumably you have spoken to ‘most of the Libyan people’?
Those of us less well travelled find it difficult to know whose propaganda to believe.

Well I suspect the state of the USA called UK, will find it more and more difficult to get people to back a battle against anyone except perhaps Scotland if they find more Oil.

has Iran got Oil that’s the main question… if not it will be Syria…. no oil or the wrong Oil they are f*cked.

Of course, letting them build nukes is sensible.

Just pay the Israelis to do it, already.

6. Torquil Macneil

” How lucky we are that we just happen to have two of Iran’s neighbours under military occupation!”

Really? That’s news to me! Which are they then? You would have thought we would have heard.

And since when was Iran ‘on the other side of the world’? It is all too bewildering.

It doesn’t seem long ago that we were being told that analysts had decided military action against Iran would be a disaster. How could things change so completely and so quickly?

Iraq wasn’t quite the cakewalk we were told, and though the demise of the Ba’athists was welcome it was very quickly obvious that we had invaded on the basis of lies from our governments.

Afghanistan stretched the British military to its limit and was simply a war of attrition. It may yet extend into Pakistan.

In both cases the British military were barely able to cope.

Iran is bigger than Iraq and Afghanistan put together and has strong regional alliances. Politically the current government looks shaky. Why would we make these noises at a time when it would actually help unite Iranians? This madness has probably already ensured Ahmedinejad’s political survival.

The point being, of course, that each and every conflict/occupation/bombing campaign mentioned from this century has been carried out, not from urgent necessity, but by choice.

Our leaders do sometimes have the basic savvy to pretend that they are being forced against their will to actions of last resort, but this is patently not the case. All of these actions were entirely voluntary on their part.

You could make a strong case, for example, that after Septemer 11th the US needed to take some form of action against Afghanistan. Whether it was necessary to fully invade and occupy it for ten years is another matter entirely.

And so 1) We are not now being forced to take action against any nation on Earth and we haven’t even once this decade been forced to invade, occupy, bomb or otherwise assail any nation on Earth. The cases for each action range from strong to weak, but in every single instance, our leaders have chosen to make war, of their own free will. On many occasions, they’ve actually done it gladly and enthusiastically, and

2) War with Iran is insane and certain to lead to massive destruction, which could potentially lead to catastrophic results on a planet-wide scale. As it happens, I don’t think action against Iran is imminent, but anyone who dislikes horrifying, needless bloodbaths and global chaos has a duty to point out the sheer insanity of attacking Iran, whenever the issue is raised.

Me, I regard the fact that war is now normality for our various countries as a disaster, a borderline criminal situation, since I believe it can only lead to ever more war against ever more nations, based upon ever less reasonable excuses. We have the example of our own experience this last ten years to support that belief.

There’ll be no new war until Murdoch’s back on his feet again

I can’t imagine what possible need Iran would have with nuclear weapons. What, are they paranoid or something?

11. the a&e charge nurse

“All options” have been on the table for some time (for the Americans).
http://watchdocumentary.com/watch/iran-and-the-west-episode-3-nuclear-confrontation-video_4ad583716.html

Was disgusted to see this in the papers this morning – Iran is no a joke or an Iraq – War with Iran brings consequences that cant be imagined.

“After all, the Iranian president has made vague reference to using nukes he doesn’t have, as opposed to our leaders’ passive and non-threatening habit of announcing that “all options are on the table”.

Paranoid types might conclude that “all options” logically includes “total nuclear annihilation”, but they’re obviously not appreciating the finer nuances.”

Surely you’re not seriously suggesting that Iran is no more likely to use nuclear weapons than democratic Western governments?

Any criticism of Israel amounts to antisemitism.

“A Haaretz poll shows that 80% of Israeli citizens believe that a military operation in Iran will bring to regional flare-up with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah to the north of Israel in Lebanon.”
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/haaretz-poll-80-of-israelis-believe-iran-strike-will-lead-to-war-with-hamas-hezbollah-1.393489

But not to worry.

“The UK and US are drawing up plans to attack Iran amid growing tensions in the Middle East, it was claimed last night. Barack Obama and David Cameron are preparing for war after reports that Iran now has enough enriched uranium for four nuclear weapons.”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2056873/Iran-attack-drawn-UK-US-Middle-East-tensions-rise.html?ITO=google_news_rss_feed

16. Flowerpower

If a crazy man got hold of an automatic rifle and was standing in my street threatening to shoot all the Jews/Blacks/Asians/gays (take your pick) who lived at number 34, then I’d hope the Police would first try to talk him down, and if that failed, shoot him.

Same goes on the geopolitical street.

17. Ciaran Osborne

@13

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable suggestion to me. Why would you say that Iran are more likely to use nukes?

18. Torquil Macneil

Why do want to talk about Israel Bob B? Not that I would suggest an obsessive interest in Israel is any indication of antisemitism, obviously.

@13: Iran is, at present, as likely to use purple dragons as nukes. They don’t have any. You can debate the possibility of a hypothetical future Iran-with-nukes using them if you like, but right now the chance of Iran using nukes is zero. The chance of nations that actually have nukes using them is – however low – greater than zero.

20. Chaise Guevara

This is way below your usual level. If there’s a possibility of war with Iran, the sensible thing is to plan ahead. Preparing for possible eventualities isn’t evil, it’s sensible. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Imagine yourself as a high-up politician or member of the military, one who genuinely would rather not see war with Iran. However, your assessment of the political situation tells you that there is a 10% chance that war will happen within the decade (made-up number). Do you prepare for that sad eventuality, or do you decide that what you WANT to happen and what WILL happen is the same thing? In other words, do you make a conscious decision to act with gross irresponsibility?

Put simply, you’re conflating plans FOR attacking Iran with plans TO attack Iran. Now, you may think (with any degree of justification) that the powers that be really do intend to invade Iran, but contingency plans are not proof of that. Equipping lifeboats does not mean you want the ship to sink.

@15: But if the crazy man was unarmed, and merely loudly threatening to BUY a rifle and shoot everyone, I’d consider shooting him overkill.

@17: “Why do want to talk about Israel Bob B? Not that I would suggest an obsessive interest in Israel is any indication of antisemitism, obviously.”

Because Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, has been widely reported in the news media recently as considering an attack on Iran in addition to reports that Israel is to speed up the building of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory in reprisal for the Palestine authority gaining recognition as a full, participating member of UNESCO.

It is easy to retrieve the relating media reports. My “obsessive” interest is with preserving international peace and protecting human rights of Palestinians, concerns which Israeli activists evidently regard as extremely offensive.

23. Leon Wolfson

@21 – The UN rescinded Zionism = Racism. Catch up with the times.

@20 – The crazy man is actively getting parts for a gun.

(It’s worse, actually – they’re deliberately getting dual-use technologies rather than civilian-only ones)

24. Torquil Macneil

It’s al right Bob, calm down, I realise that some (many) people on the internets will always see Jew, er, Zionist fingers in every pie but you will feel happy if you can lose the weird obsession, I promise you.

25. Flowerpower

@ 20 Makhno

But if the crazy man was unarmed, and merely loudly threatening to BUY a rifle and shoot everyone, I’d consider shooting him overkill.

Fair point. But maybe not fair enough. A closer analogy might be someone assembling a rifle (though whether he has all the parts, or quite how close it is to be ready for firing, the cops just have to guess).

If there’s a possibility of war with Iran, the sensible thing is to plan ahead. Preparing for possible eventualities isn’t evil, it’s sensible. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The point is that we shouldn’t be in a war on Iran. Our economy is struggling, our army is overstretched and our leaders have shown themselves to be incapable of (a) deciding what’s a good war to fight and what isn’t and (b), even then, fighting them in a manner that ensures they’re as quick and painless as possible. That’s even before we get around to considering the moral and practical implications of the specific war that’s being mooted.

By the way, according to the Guardian

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

Diego Garcia is among the Chagos islands. “We” stole it from the islanders back in the 1970s. In 2008 the Law Lords ruled it couldn’t be returned to the islanders in this “current state of uncertainty”. What they meant, it seems, is that the US might want to use it for a war.

The global elites want it all, and their puppet politicians are well rewarded for doing their bidding. There is money to be made in war. Those planes and gyns don’t build themselves you know. The elites also need a constant stream of bogey men to keep the public distracted while they steal more of our money

The tories are revolting little hypoctites. Whinging away at Blairs Iraq war, while all the time supporting it. Constant whinging by the tory military high command. Yet here they go, following the Us pro Zionists masters at every step.

Once agin we see the idocy of the Lie d3ms for getting into bed with the tory shisters. Seeing as the Lie Dems were rightly against the Iraq wa it will be funny watching them defend this piece of Zinoist terrorism.

@23: “It’s al right Bob, calm down, I realise that some (many) people on the internets will always see Jew, er, Zionist fingers in every pie but you will feel happy if you can lose the weird obsession, I promise you.”

My interest in the continuing Palestine conflict will continue after re-reading the accounts on the web of the sinking of SS Patria in Haifa harbour in 1940, the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, the Qibya massacre in 1953, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982, the Khiam Prison in South Lebanon in 2000 and the report of Physicians for Human Rights in 2000 on the suppression of the intifa:

Physicians for Human Rights USA (PHR) finds that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has used live ammunition and rubber bullets excessively and inappropriately to control demonstrators, and that based on the high number of documented injuries to the head and thighs, Israeli soldiers appear to be shooting to inflict harm, rather than solely in self-defense.

PHR sent a medical team to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank from October 20-27, 2000 to investigate claims that Israel Defense Force (IDF) is using excessive force in the current conflict that has pitted Israeli troops and settlers against Palestinian demonstrators and combatants. (full report attached) The team also investigated the disputed death of ‘Issam Judeh Mustafah Hamed, a Palestinian resident of a village near Ramallah, who was found dead near the wreck of his car. PHR’s separate report on the ‘Issam Judeh case, confirming that the cause of his death was a car accident, follows this release. (available at http://www.phrusa.org) The team also collected information on attacks on ambulances, patients and health professionals.

The three person team was composed of forensic pathologists Robert Kirschner, M.D., University of Chicago Medical School, Nizam Peerwani, M.D., Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, and James C. Cobey, M.D., M.P.H., an orthopaedic surgeon based in Washington, D.C.
http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/medical.htm

29. ex-Labour voter

Israel test fires missile that can hit Iran
AP – November 2, 2011
Israel successfully test-fired on Wednesday a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran, fanning a public debate over whether the country’s leaders are agitating for a military attack on Tehran’s atomic facilities.

It doesn’t seem long ago that we were being told that analysts had decided military action against Iran would be a disaster. How could things change so completely and so quickly?

There is no contradiction: the more military action would be a disaster for the US, the more persuasive the arguments of the factions within Iran that would want it to kick off. There are plenty of obvious ways they could cause it to happen, starting with assassinations and working up until the result can’t be ignored by any conceivable US president.

So the worse the result, the more likely it becomes.

Obviously the contingency planning is nothing new – what is it being announced in the papers. That suggests that the UK spooks are now more worried about Iran starting something than they are about the US or Israel doing so.

31. Shatterface

@15: But if the crazy man was unarmed, and merely loudly threatening to BUY a rifle and shoot everyone, I’d consider shooting him overkill.

I wouldn’t say keeping open the option of shooting him, should he get his hands on a gun, was a sign of malign intent.

@29

That’s a scary thought.

@29: “That suggests that the UK spooks are now more worried about Iran starting something than they are about the US or Israel doing so.”

I suspect that UK spooks in MI6 are no more correct about that than about all those claims made in the UK government dossier, published on 24 September 2002, about those weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that Iraq could use within 45-minutes of a command from Saddam Hussein – a claim disowned by the branch of Britain’s Defence Intelligence Service tasked with monitoring incoming intelligence on WMD.

Just to make quite sure we all grasped the imminent threat of those WMD which could be used within 45-minutes, it was mentioned no less than 4 times in the dossier, the first time over TB’s signature. After the invasion starting on 20 March 2003, no WMD were to be found in Iraq – as Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, had predicted.

Pity about the 150,000 Iraqi civilians who got killed in the ensuing conflict, of course.

“A prominent Israeli MP said yesterday that his country’s intelligence services knew claims that Saddam Hussein was capable of swiftly launching weapons of mass destruction were wrong but withheld the information from Washington.” [February 2004]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/feb/04/iraq.israel

34. Shatterface

Last week Lib Con was berating the Govt on the possibility that they might consider selling arms to the Libyans who overthrew Colonel Friend of Tony but now we can’t even consider the possibility that an overtly aggressive country in the same region is less than trustworthy?

35. Torquil Macneil

“My interest in the continuing Palestine conflict will continue ”

I am sure it will, and I am sure your obsession with the perfidy of Jew … er … Zionists will continue to seep into everything you say.

@34: “I am sure it will, and I am sure your obsession with the perfidy of Jew … er … Zionists will continue to seep into everything you say.”

That’s just more personal abuse to cover up the long documented history of Israeli terrorism and atrocities in which leading terrorists have been elected Israeli prime ministers – Begin, Shamir and Sharon. So much for Israel’s opposition to terrorism.

Barak, the current defence minister, was Israeli PM at the time of that report by Physicians for Human Rights in 2000 on the “excessive use of force” by the IDF to suppress the intifada – demonstrating youngsters were being shot in the head or thighs by Israeli sharpshooters.

I’ve been debating online since 1995 so I’m thoroughly familiar with being instantly labelled an “antisemite” or “obsessive” if ever I post about documented Israeli atrocities.

In fact, my position is the same as that of the British government at the time of the UN debate in November 1947 on the future of Palestine. The UK representative, on government instructions, abstained, saying partition of Palestine would lead to continuing conflict, which it surely has.

37. gastro george

Aren’t these “leaks” just an attempt by Israel to “refocus the argument” after the UNESCO vote – in the same way that the settlement expansion announcement was a “f*ck-you” to the rest of the world (in particular the US) and “reassurance” of business-as-normal to the domestic audience?

38. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 BenSix

“The point is that we shouldn’t be in a war on Iran. Our economy is struggling, our army is overstretched and our leaders have shown themselves to be incapable of (a) deciding what’s a good war to fight and what isn’t and (b), even then, fighting them in a manner that ensures they’re as quick and painless as possible. That’s even before we get around to considering the moral and practical implications of the specific war that’s being mooted. ”

Agreed with all that – but a war wouldn’t necessarily be instigated by our side. Alternatively, you could reach a situation where foreign intervention could genuinely help to create freedom for Iranians and prevent a longer conflict. Artificially removing options from the table is not a good idea if said options turn out in retrospect to be a good idea.

What you’ve got their is a delicate situation that could go critical very quickly. Forward planning would actually help you to decide whether it was a good war to fight and to ensure minimum casualties – assuming those were considerations in the planning process.

39. flyingrodent

a war wouldn’t necessarily be instigated by our side

They forced us into war! We didn’t have a choice, they had us backed into a corner! You all saw him… he had a gun.

Alternatively, you could reach a situation where foreign intervention could genuinely help to create freedom for Iranians and prevent a longer conflict.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – some motherfuckers are always tryin’ to ice-skate uphill. There is literally no end to people’s desire to believe this bullshit. They’ll welcome us with flowers, again!

What you’ve got their is a delicate situation that could go critical very quickly.

Let’s just note which side it is that has the other almost entirely surrounded with its military forces and allies, after a decade of conquest and mayhem. Let’s note whose scientists it is that are getting assassinated and whose computer systems it is that are being targeted with hi-tech viruses – which presidential candidates have explicitly vowed to attack which countries with nuclear weapons, if necessary. (Cough, HIllary Clinton, Cough)

I suggest to you -all of you – that it isn’t Iran that is pushing for war, and that if war does break out, it won’t be Iran that starts it. It’ll be ourselves, the Americans and the Israelis, or some mixture of all three.

Oh, of course, after we’ve bombed the hell out of Iran, we’ll pretend that their counterattacks started the war. Us attacking people with massive bombing campaigns isn’t a declaration of war – that’s just us protecting our vital interests. Them retaliating, well, that really is dirty and unacceptable.

Why not? Plenty of people have spent the last ten years swallowing and regurgitating stupider ideas than that, with gusto.

40. the a&e charge nurse

Israel and Iran pointing nuclear devices at each other has become a matter of when, not if.

Israel already posses nuclear weapons, while Iran announced a few years ago that they had learnt how to enrich uranium (a milestone said to account for 75% of the process in development of a functional nuclear weapon).

After coming to power Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it quite clear that Iran has no intention of abandoning it’s nuclear aspirations – China has apparently made a tidy sum providing Iran with much of the kit needed to ensure parity in wiping out entire cities at the press of a button.

So what is to be done?

But Israe’ still denies it has nukes and locked up the man who told the truth about how Israel had lied to the international community for years.

42. the a&e charge nurse

[40] you know as well as I do that Israel almost certainly has such weapons.

Yes I do know they have them. Thanks to a very brave man who put the truth above the nations interests. But they deceived the international community, by lying about it.

Funny how they are treated compared to those regimes the west wants war with. They break international law and the nobody does anything. And now they are openly threatening to use their nukes. .

44. Dollar Dave

Leon…what a tosser.

You’ll appease and defend Islamic freaks if they shit on the English or Americans.
But when you get one with such open hatred of Jews (as if all the others you defend like them!) you all of a sudden lose this ‘Islam and Muslims are lovely, leave them alone’ attitude!

Self-serving much?

I’m glad you feel this way about Iran. But please feel it for all the other scum JUST LIKE the iranian regime as well. OpenJew haters or not.
After all it is ALL the exact same religious doctrine unchanged for over 1500 years!

It would be nice to let Israel do them in actually. Poetic justice and we can kep out of it.
the Iranian people know what they have to do (just as the German people should have known in 1939), they have to end the reign of this delusional, hateful, religious maniac…..Or others will.

I suggest to you -all of you – that it isn’t Iran that is pushing for war, and that if war does break out, it won’t be Iran that starts it. It’ll be ourselves, the Americans and the Israelis, or some mixture of all three.

Obviously, if you start from that conclusion, that is the conclusion you come to, and you can certainly find evidence to support it. But it doesn’t seem to work so well in the other direction.

The USA would lose a war with Iran, by any reasonable definition of the words involved. At least 99.99% of Americans would be worse off in the case of such a war. And while there is always that other 0.01% who would benefit, Americans are only around 4% of the population of the world, and most other countries would have higher fractions of those who would expect to profit in some way or another.

Even ignoring 3rd parties, there are almost certainly more Iranians than Americans who would expect a satisfactory outcome from a war. If not financially, then simply by avoiding Gaddafi’s fate. This is not your father’s world any more; quite likely the average influence, power and wealth of that Iranian class is greater than the corresponding US one.

To avoid such a war, you have to be thinking _now_ about how to avoid, or react to, a deliberate attempt to start it by ‘Iran’, i.e. semi-official Iranian-linked groups.

Persuading them that if they just hang on for a year, their nuclear programme will be in a much stronger position seems like a reasonable holding measure.

In a year or two, who knows what will happen.

Alternatively, you could reach a situation where foreign intervention could genuinely help to create freedom for Iranians and prevent a longer conflict.

I could marry Hikari Mitsushima. But it’s unlikely enough that it’s hardly worth the forward planning.

My point isn’t that X or Y shouldn’t go to war with Z. (Though, of course, that doesn’t mean they should.) It’s that the UK, unless it’s directly threatened, should butt out of conflicts per se as “we” have neither the resources nor integrity with which to prosecute one.

I suggest to you -all of you – that it isn’t Iran that is pushing for war, and that if war does break out, it won’t be Iran that starts it.

This is a bit strong. It seems to me that the rulers of Iran are very likely engaged in a covert war with the US and the rest of the Super Friends. If they’re not, then they’re fucking idiots. And since they’ve held Iran independently for decades, I think we can pretty safely rule that out.

48. Leon Wolfson

@28 – Bollocks. That’s a message to Turkey.

@50 – Nothing. I see. Beating kids and women up in dark alleys is “nothing” in your world, of course, you brave brave fascist. You’re no different from any set of fanatics, go hug your soul brothers like the Bible Bashers in America.

Thanks for your exposition on your conspiracy theory though – it marks you out as one of the dangerous hardcore.

10 years ago Dick Cheney invited the directors of American oil companies to the White House where they looked at global maps to study where the oil is in the world, and how they could get at it.

Those maps, and the details of that meeting have remained classified. But I think we can see where they were looking. Iraq, Iran, Venezuela. Since then, the US and their gang of bullies have invaded Iraq, and attempted a coup d etat in Venezuela. And now they want war with Iran.

But it has nothing to do with oil you see. No siree.

Netanyahu says Israel must continue to develop Jerusalem, asserts construction there is Israel’s basic right and not simply a punishment to Palestinians; White House says ‘deeply disappointed’ by announcement.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-it-is-israel-s-right-and-obligation-to-build-in-jerusalem-1.393341

The White House has cut US funding to UNESCO in retaliation for its vote to recognise the Palestine authority but will it cut funding Israel in relation for more settlement building on Palestinian land? You can safely bet not.

51. Leon Wolfson

@49 – Retaliation? They have a rule. This rule was known. The Palestinians chose to trigger this rule.

This is no more retaliation than a policeman arresting you for a crime is retaliation.

@50: “This rule was known”

That rule about the consequences of UNESCO recognising the Palestine authority was imposed by Israel and the US in concert but without any regard to the sentiments of the rest of the UNESCO membership, which duly voted by a large majority – 107 votes versus 14 votes – to admit the Palestine authority to full membership.

What that rule demonstrates, beyond any serious dispute, is the complete disregard by Israel of the majority sentiments of the international community. The rationale of Israel is straight forward: Israelis believe that they have a divine right to occupy all Palestine because of some exclusive contract with their national deity regardless of what anyone else believes or feels.

Of course, as I’ve been informed many times, it is unacceptably antisemitic to state such facts as this or make reference to the documented history of Israeli terrorism and atrocities.

53. So Much For Subtlety

8. flyingrodent

The point being, of course, that each and every conflict/occupation/bombing campaign mentioned from this century has been carried out, not from urgent necessity, but by choice.

Sure. The Moriori had a choice. They chose, perhaps, unwisely. In what sense is this an unwise choice?

Our leaders do sometimes have the basic savvy to pretend that they are being forced against their will to actions of last resort, but this is patently not the case. All of these actions were entirely voluntary on their part.

Clauswitz pointed out it is always the person being attacked that makes the decision for war. I am not sure you are making the point you want.

2) War with Iran is insane and certain to lead to massive destruction, which could potentially lead to catastrophic results on a planet-wide scale. As it happens, I don’t think action against Iran is imminent, but anyone who dislikes horrifying, needless bloodbaths and global chaos has a duty to point out the sheer insanity of attacking Iran, whenever the issue is raised.

Sorry but what possible catastrophic results could possibly have a planet-wide impact? Oh you mean you think they do have nuclear weapons? Even scattering highly enriched uranium about is only a problem of heavy metal poisoning. No more. Certain? How do you know? If the last century has taught us anything, and it hasn’t, it is that it is governments we need to fear, not war. There is no way that a war will kill more people than the Iranian government.

Me, I regard the fact that war is now normality for our various countries as a disaster, a borderline criminal situation, since I believe it can only lead to ever more war against ever more nations, based upon ever less reasonable excuses. We have the example of our own experience this last ten years to support that belief.

Well so much for your opinion.

54. Leon Wolfson

@52 – No, it was “imposed” solely by the US. The Israeli response wasn’t pre-mediated in the same way. Moreover, national sovereignty mean anything to you?

And you apparently believe you have a divine right to see every Jew in Israel dead. That’s why you’re a self-labelled anti-Semite, because a rational conversation with you on the topic is impossible through you hatred. Next.

(It’s even morbidly amusing, because I don’t believe past terrorism excludes people from the political process when their faction has effectively abandoned terrorist attacks as a weapon. Something which applies to the Palestinians just as much as the Jews – and elsewhere, under you the Good Friday agreement would have been impossible!)

Ah, I just sent Sunny my own piece about this, then saw this post.

I’d just like to add some comments I wrote on my blog that weren’t made here:

“As it attempts to rustle up support for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, let’s not forget Israel is one of four non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (the others are North Korea, Pakistan and India). Nor, as the UK fast-tracks plans to join in, should we forget the role of our government in helping Israel achieve nuclear status [. . .]

“Of course, a world in which Iran’s squalid leaders have access to an atomic bomb is not an appealing one. Paradoxically, it may be necessary to threaten military action in order to make military action unnecessary.

“You may dismiss the author of the most in-depth media investigation into the subject – Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker – as a predictable peacenik. But it’s harder to ignore the vocal skepticism of two men in particular: former Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs, respectively, Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin. [. . .]

“But put aside, for the moment, the legitimate debate over Iran’s capabilities and the best way to deal with them, and let’s be clear about one thing. The evident concern among western powers over Iran’s weapons programme isn’t about the existence of nukes in the Middle East per se. What worries our governments is that Israel is in danger of losing the nuclear advantage that implicitly, through our silence and material aid, we’ve long supported as its right.

“As we know from the Cold War and the India-Pakistan standoff, the risk of nukes actually being used is of less daily concern to policy-makers than the strategic calculations the weapons bring into play. A Middle East in which Israel was no longer the only nuclear power would be a very different place. Forced to avoid actions that could heighten deadly tensions, its near-total military dominance would be curtailed.

“If you think Israel, alone of all its neighbours, should be allowed recourse to the ultimate weapon, that’s an arguable, though contentious, opinion. But let’s admit this is about maintaining a balance of regional power that’s favourable to Israel – and spare me the humanitarian gloss.”

Oh, I’d just sent Sunny my own piece about this before seeing this post. Some points I’d add to the discussion from that piece:

“As it attempts to rustle up support for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, let’s not forget Israel is one of four non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [. . .] Of course, a world in which Iran’s squalid leaders have access to an atomic bomb is not an appealing one. Paradoxically, it may be necessary to threaten military action in order to make military action unnecessary.

“You may dismiss the author of the most in-depth media investigation into the subject – Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker – as a predictable peacenik. But it’s harder to ignore the vocal skepticism of two men in particular: former Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs, respectively, Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin.

“But put aside, for the moment, the legitimate debate over Iran’s capabilities and the best way to deal with them, and let’s be clear about one thing. [. . .] What worries our governments is that Israel is in danger of losing the nuclear advantage that implicitly, through our silence and material aid, we’ve long supported as its right.

“As we know from the Cold War and the India-Pakistan standoff, the risk of nukes actually being used is of less daily concern to policy-makers than the strategic calculations the weapons bring into play. A Middle East in which Israel was no longer the only nuclear power would be a very different place. Forced to avoid actions that could heighten deadly tensions, its near-total military dominance would be curtailed.

“If you think Israel, alone of all its neighbours, should be allowed recourse to the ultimate weapon, that’s an arguable, though contentious, opinion. But let’s admit this is about maintaining a balance of regional power that’s favourable to Israel – and spare me the humanitarian gloss.”

57. Leon Wolfson

@56 – And you really think it’s coincidence than chemical weapons, undeniably possessed by several Arab countries, have never found their way into the hands of those striking against Israeli civilians?

58. the a&e charge nurse

[55] are you saying that more countries in the region should have nukes?

To my mind one of the key differences between Israel and radical Islamic states is that one is determined to export ideological hegemony while the other isn’t.

Now obviously there has been a long and brutal conflict over entitlement to space in Israel but this is not quite the same thing as wanting to expand a repressive theocracy across the region, or further.
Paradoxically this is a failure of the US and those complicit with the US who seem to think western style democracy, or liberalism can be imposed, by force, into countries that have a very different set of traditions, or perhaps these aspirations are no more than a fig leaf to hide the US’s true intentions which is to secure it’s own military and business interest in a volatile part of the world?

Even so, we still have to ask why is Iran so hellbent on developing a nuclear weapons capability – if you had to guess who, is Ahmadinejad most likely to point them at?

The fight with Iraq was largely driven by oil while tensions around Iran are largely to do with the situation Israel would find itself in should a belligerent neighbour like Iran posses nuclear capability.

@58 I’d be careful in citing “Different traditions..”. If the Arab Spring tells us anything, it’s that despite the long history of authoritarian governments the people of the middle east want more liberal democracy.

As I posted before, due to many failings Ahmedinejad was under a lot of internal pressure and was looking shaky. This kind of news is likely to distract attention from his failings and unite Iranians behind their government. How does that help?

@57 – “And you really think it’s coincidence than chemical weapons, undeniably possessed by several Arab countries, have never found their way into the hands of those striking against Israeli civilians?”

I only have a vague inkling of what you’re trying to infer from what I said, or what point you’re trying to make. Maybe I’m obtuse. Help me out, please?

@ 58 – “are you saying that more countries in the region should have nukes?”

No, I’m saying that fewer should have nukes. Obviously.

“Even so, we still have to ask why is Iran so hellbent on developing a nuclear weapons capability – if you had to guess who, is Ahmadinejad most likely to point them at?”

Israel, obviously.

62. flyingrodent

@So Much For Subtlety: Sure. The Moriori had a choice. They chose, perhaps, unwisely. In what sense is this an unwise choice?

The Moriori were wiped out by an aggressive, expansionist neighbour. There are two expansionist powers active in the Middle East; one relentlessly widening its borders and annexing land to itself at will, and teh other invading and occupying other nations and installing favourable regimes.

Neither are Iran. Iran has only fought one war in the last few decades, and that a defensive one against their foreign-backed neighbour.

Let’s be clear here – the rulers of Iran are a horrible bunch; they repress many of their own people and they are enthusiastic practitioners of weapons proliferation, torture, assassination and general espionage and dirty tricks. On the other hand, it’s isn’t Iran that has spent the decade smashing fuck out of anything and everything it dislikes in the region.

As Matt notes above, the US and Israeli governments are far less worried about nuclear war than they are about Iran being able to curtail their current freedom of action via nuclear deterence. I don’t regard those two nations’ continued free hand destroy and kill at will as even nearly important enough to risk World War Three over. Hell, I wouldn’t cross the street for it.

Clauswitz pointed out it is always the person being attacked that makes the decision for war.

I suspect you’re doing violence to Clausewitz’ argument there, given he had, say, ancient Persia, the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions of Europe and the Mongol Horde as counterexamples. Had he lived longer, he might have found the German/Russian invasions of Poland and the American war upon North Vietnam quite confusing too.

Additionally, we might like to wonder in what way Iran, on the other side of the planet, is “attacking” America.

Sorry but what possible catastrophic results could possibly have a planet-wide impact?

You mean, what possible catastrophic results could ensue from a full-on war with a nation of seventy-five million people in the world’s key oil-producing region, which also happens to sit alongside one of the world’s worst political and military flashpoints?

I admit, I’m surprised that this needs spelling out – we could try “Most of Middle East, including Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia and sundry emirates potentially dragged into horrific, years-long conflict that could expand well beyond the region, with huge troop commitment to mass-casualty urban fighting and total destruction of entire cities as a matter of necessity; Closure of sea lanes leading to massive spike in oil price crushes world economy into Weimarish nightmare, precipitating massive decline in American/European power… And that’s assuming the war stays non-nuclear.

If that all seems unlikely to you, well, I suggest that it’s probably more likely than “Triumphantly successful bombing raid destroys nuclear threat; Iranians quietly accept defeat and total US hegemony”. After all, the reality of World War One came as something of a surprise to the great powers of the day too.

If the last century has taught us anything, and it hasn’t, it is that it is governments we need to fear, not war. There is no way that a war will kill more people than the Iranian government.

Cretinous. Like, wars don’t kill people, man, government does. Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. Baseball bats don’t hit balls – people do. The worrying thing is, your Aw shucks, what’s a little war between friends? routine is far, far closer to the actual opinions of the relevant state leaders than mine is.

The Soviet Union alone suffered almost 27 million dead in WW2. None of them were killed by an abstract concept of civil governance.

63. Chaise Guevara

@39 Flyingrodent

OK, whatever. Obviously it’s LITERALLY impossible for anyone not allied to the UK to start a war, and similarly LITERALLY impossible to ever intervene in a conflict with positive net results. These are ABSOLUTE TROOFS! Anyone suggesting otherwise, however mildly, is obviously bloodthirsty warmonger and/or an idiot to be dismissed with weird non-sequiturs and childish, content-free sarcasm.

I thought we might have a sensible conversation here, but apparently that’s not possible until you grow up. By all means carry on trolling your own thread.

64. Leon Wolfson

@60 – No. Don’t “infer”, read what I typed.

@ 64 – ‘No. Don’t “infer”, read what I typed.’

Ok, what you typed was this:

‘And you really think it’s coincidence than chemical weapons, undeniably possessed by several Arab countries, have never found their way into the hands of those striking against Israeli civilians?’

No, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Israel hasn’t faced a chemical attack yet. It’s because those with the means to launch such an attack are afraid that, should they do so, Israel will ‘smash the flying fuck’ out of them – to use Flying Rodent’s apt phrase.

What I didn’t understand was the ‘And’. It seemed to imply that your question or point somehow logically followed from mine. I couldn’t see the connection, and still can’t. Again, maybe I’m dull.

Flying Rodent –

I think we’re essentially allies on this thread, but can I ask you two sincere questions (not with the aim to trip you up or contradict you, but to dig a little deeper into your point of view)?

One: what makes you so sure Iran isn’t close to developing nukes?

Two: if, for the sake of argument, it was close to doing so, what action would you recommend?

Closure of sea lanes leading to massive spike in oil price crushes world economy into Weimarish nightmare, precipitating massive decline in American/European power

This is the point to stress. plenty of people seem to be thinking of this war as a delicious double chocolate muffin. Something you basically want, but have to avoid for what comes down to moral reasons.

Which as an argument against the war may logically fair enough, and probably does describe certain wars reasonably well. But is very likely to fail: witness the size of the chocolate muffin industry.

Wheras this particular war is more of a shit sandwich. Nothing good is going to come of eating it. It would not be any kind of trade-off between freedom, stability, tyranny, casualties, women’s rights and oil prices; it would simply be expected to make them all worse.

About once a century, there comes along a major war that the UK decides to not get involved with: Vietnam was the one in the 20C.

If it does start, this would be a good candidate for the 21C war to sit out.

68. flyingrodent

what makes you so sure Iran isn’t close to developing nukes?

I’m almost certain they are. I certainly would be, if I was an authoritarian ruler of a pariah state: Libya is the prime example of what happens to dictators who give up their weapons programmes, then get on the wrong side of the west. Punch, punch, stab-stab, bang-bang. Or try Iraq, if that helps.

That said though, I wouldn’t go the whole hog if I was Iran – I’d be aware that the Israeli government are actually nutty enough to start a war over this, and that the Americans will join in whatever lunacy the Israelis choose to start. I’d work up a nuclear programme to the point where weapons could be produced at short notice, then leave it there, so the IAEA couldn’t say anything.

(Note – in hindsight, one way of preventing the Iranians from making nukes would’ve been to avoid the circumstances that precipitated the programmes, i.e. not having any nuclear powers in the Middle East to start with; not invading and occupying some of Iran’s neighbours and garrisoning others, while loudly and joyously proclaiming that Iran is Next!, that kind of stuff. The Mullahs are some wacky headbangers already, and they definitely didn’t need our encouragement or our lessons in what happens to non-nuclear states that displease the US).

if, for the sake of argument, it was close to doing so, what action would you recommend?

I hate to lay this on youse, but there’s probably nothing that can be done. These genies are out of their lamps, folks. Not all problems have good solutions, and I see no reason to believe that any military onslaught, short of total war, is going to halt the Iranians, if they’re determined.

Even so, I’m not buying this line that the Iranians are just so damn crazy that they’re going to attack Israel the second they’re capable and gladly accept total thermonuclear annihilation. Stalin killed twenty million people; Mao killed god knows how many millions more, and those loony motherfuckers managed to keep their nukes in their trousers. North Korea is a madhouse; Pakistan practically a failed state, but neither are nuking anyone, thus far.

If anyone thinks Iran will hit the red button instantly, I’d love to hear why the Iranians are so much loopier than Mao. Really.

I can think of few worse candidates for nuclear capability than the Mullahs, but it looks rather like we’re going to have to live with it. The alternative is potentially sparking World War Three so that the Yanks and the Israelis can continue waving their wangs around the Middle East with impunity. I don’t regard that as a better solution; looks like it’s time to accept that there are limits to our ability to remake the world as we want it to be, before the consequences really start to bite us in the arse.

69. flyingrodent

I’d work up a nuclear programme to the point where weapons could be produced at short notice, then leave it there…

I think I’m right in saying that this is the Japanese position re: nukes.

70. Leon Wolfson

@68 – It doesn’t work that way. The actual production of enriched uranium is the time-consuming step, and the machines to do it are either dual-use or military only. You cannot do it with civilian-spec gear.

And bollocks we have to “live with it”. It’s the language of surrendering to blackmail. “Wangs”. You’d still be talking about your epeen and saying “too bad” if the Arab nations did destroy Israel, and be ready to pounce if there were any war crimes committed from the Israeli side, covering fleeing civilians.

@65 – No, that was the point. Israel’s nuclear capacity has kept NBC weapons off the battlefields. Moving into a situation of MAD means that biological and chemical weapons become viable again.

I think we can take it as a given that the Iranians are not going to use the nukes against Israel, because they know that, were they to do so, the US would reduce them to a smoking crater in the earth in a vanishingly small amount of time. Obviously, they’re not suicidal. Proof: they’re still here.

The Iranians want nukes because they don’t want to be regime changed into the middle of next week. Even if they don’t intend or can’t manage to build the damn things, then it can still pay to act a bit crazy, both to stave off the possibility of being regime changed and to bring some policy concensions when you “reluctantly agree” to abandon the programme you never intended to complete.

The problem is not that they’re going to start a nuclear war with their neighbours, but that it alters the balance of power in the region.

Flying Rodent,

Ok, I think here’s an instance where we can have an honest, good-faith and reasonable disagreement.

On point 1 – is Iran close to developing nukes? – you seem certain based on what you think is rational for a pariah state. Or perhaps this is all grist to your polemical mill, and you’re not really sure. If there’s one thing we can say about the ayatollahs, it’s that they move in mysterious ways; they’re not predictable. Incidentally, the former heads of Mossad and Shin Bet are more skeptical of Iran’s nuclear capability than you seem to be.

And FIY, if Iran got to the point where it could easily and quickly develop nuclear weapons from zero, the IAEA would certainly have a lot to say – that would constitute an advanced state of technological preparedness. You don’t have to have nukes primed and loaded before you’re hugely in contravention of your non-proliferation obligations.

On point 2 – ok, let’s assume you’re right, and Iran is close to developing a nuke. Well, I’d say several things. Since we’re not in a position to turn back the clock and stop Israel from developing nukes – though I of course advocate much stronger pressure on Israel in all kinds of ways, including, but not limited to, the nuclear issue – can we be so blithe about Iran developing them too? I don’t say let’s wage another Iraq-style war – that option is one, at least, that’s clearly not on the table. But if we knew we could take out their nuclear sites with minimal loss of civilian life, only destroying the nuclear plants themselves (and presumably killing anyone working there) – well, would that be so awful?

You prophesy WW3 if we were to do so. But it seems to me that, if we destroyed Iran’s nukes before they were fully developed – again, I’m speaking hypothetically – the result would unlikely be WW3. If, however, we waited until AFTER Iran developed nukes, then any attack on it would very likely start a global war.

And over and above all that: let’s say I agree with you that we should accept our impotence and allow Iran to develop nukes. Well, it seems to me that, in that case, the best thing to do is at the very least to give Iran the impression that we MIGHT attack – rather than telegraphing our intentions ahead, so the ayatollahs know they have impunity. On the other hand, if we ARE seriously planning to attack Iran in a one-off surprise strike, well, maybe we should be quiet about it.

Look, I’ll lay my cards on the table. I’m not convinced the UK should get involved in another dangerous attack on a Muslim county simply to preserve Israel’s regional dominance. I agree with you about the unlikelihood of an actual attack, even if I also agree that there are few groups I’d LESS like to see nuclear-armed than the ayatollahs. (As I said, it’s less an attack itself than the way nukes change the calculation of risk in every military move in the region that’s immediately relevant.)

But I’ll say this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel, on its own, decided it would rather risk the consequences of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities than the consequences of a nuclear Iran. And while my preferred scenario would be the disarmament of BOTH sides, I wouldn’t really blame Israel for acting in this way. After all, it’s precisely what Israel did to Saddam’s nuclear plant – destroying his nuke programme forever, with one strike and few civilian casualties. If Israel can repeat that success – which would rather contradict your claim that there’s nothing we can do about Iran’s nuke programme – I say good luck to it.

However I’d also make clear that I wouldn’t support such an attack on humanitarian grounds, or consider it some great moral victory. I would simply consider it the normal and minimally acceptable behaviour of an ordinary country looking out for its own survival and regional influence.

But if we knew we could take out their nuclear sites with minimal loss of civilian life, only destroying the nuclear plants themselves (and presumably killing anyone working there) – well, would that be so awful?

If you knew jumping off a tall building resulted in spontaneously sprouting wings, which would make you a rich celebrity, but as a consequence a small child in Africa would get cancer, would you jump?.

Maybe an interesting moral question, but reality isn’t a drama scripted to highlight interesting moral dilemmas.

Jump, and you are pavement pizza.

74. the a&e charge nurse

[59] “If the Arab Spring tells us anything, it’s that despite the long history of authoritarian governments the people of the middle east want more liberal democracy” – I hope you are right – but unfortunately Islam and liberalism are two opposing ideologies.

I should also add that the above is highly hypothetical, since I’ve found it safe to work on the assumption that the truth is precisely the opposite of whatever words come out of Benjamin Netanyahu’s mouth. If I asked him the time and he told me it was midnight, I would immediately set my watch to noon without so much as checking if the sun was in the sky.

@ 73 soru – but why is it so absurd? After all, unless I’m very much mistaken, most of Iran’s supposed nuclear sites are in rural areas, far from population centres. Israel performed the trick once, when they took out Saddam’s nuclear site. Can anyone say they’re not glad it happened?

“If you knew jumping off a tall building resulted in spontaneously sprouting wings, which would make you a rich celebrity, but as a consequence a small child in Africa would get cancer, would you jump?.

Maybe an interesting moral question […]”

Pedant’s corner: no it’s not – there’s no moral dilemma here at all; the answer is no.

78. Leon Wolfson

@71 – No, but as I said it means they could then “lose” weapons from the other two parts of the trinity to terrorists, secure in the knowledge that hitting them means writing off Israel.

@72 – Sure, you support “pressure” and hence the Isralie right’s electoral chances. Thanks! (sigh)

I don’t think you read what I wrote @ 72, Leon Wolfson. That’s ok, it was quite long. But you really should try and read comments before brandishing your usual ‘don’t-say-that-it-helps-the-israeli-right’ reply. I said I bloody well SUPPORT Israel’s right to attack Iran, under certain circumstances.

But even though we happen to agree on this issue, can I please calmly explain why that whole ‘aiding-the-Israeli-right’ canard is so crap, so useless, so meaningless to most of the people you display it to, like a bunny magically pulled from out a hat (you’re helping the right wing! ta’ra!). Because the people you’re debating see little difference between you – as an avowed Kadima supporter, and, say, Likud. Now I don’t deny there are serious differences. I don’t believe anyone who’s really serious about giving the Palestinians a state joins Likud – it would be like joining the Tories to support high taxes on the rich. But the fact is that nobody on the pro-Palestinian side sees any difference whatsoever between Likud and Kadima. Just as there was no difference between Likud and Labor when it came to peace-making (and Labour built more settlements). It’s like somebody serves me a dog-turd sandwich for dinner; I say ‘No fucking thanks! I’m not eating that!’; and you said, ‘Ssh! Don’t complain! Eat up or tomorrow there’ll be no sandwich – just dog turd!’ You understand, don’t you, why I’d see very little difference between the two? Well that’s how most Palestinian partisans feel about you/Kadima and Likud. Geddit?

80. flyingrodent

It doesn’t work that way. The actual production of enriched uranium is the time-consuming step, and the machines to do it are either dual-use or military only. You cannot do it with civilian-spec gear.

The stuff you let the inspectors see, you mean? Anyway, somebody better tell the Japanese government how unpossible it is. Their entire nuclear policy is based up sudden ramping up of production if required. http://tinyurl.com/6aqkpcs

You’d still be talking about your epeen and saying “too bad” if the Arab nations did destroy Israel.

Do you really think that accusing people of this kind of thing is on? I mean, would you, to people’s faces, accuse them of indifference to – or, more commonly, wild passion for – genocide?

I’m willing to lay a heavy bet that you wouldn’t. It’s not like I’d start a fight with you over it or anything – it’d just be hilarious to hear how these pipsqueak pronouncements sound in normal conversation.

Like a small child playing at being all growed up, trying to tick off a naughty puppy, is my guess.

After all, unless I’m very much mistaken, most of Iran’s supposed nuclear sites are in rural areas, far from population centres.

The restaurants they would blow up in retaliation are generally not. If you start a war, then you should take seriously the possibility your new enemy will fight back.

Former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan has said that an attack on Iran was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

He declared a strike on Iran’s acknowledge nuclear facilities would violate international law, the disbursed nature of Iran’s program would make it an extremely difficult mission, and the result would be “war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end,” he said.

He estimated that Iran has the ability to fire rockets at Israel for months in response, and that Hezbollah in Lebanon, an Iranian ally, could chose to launch thousands of its cruder grad missiles at Israel.

He followed all this up earlier this month by saying an Israeli strike “will give the Iranians the best excuse to pursue the nuclear race.”

Pedant’s corner: no it’s not – there’s no moral dilemma here at all; the answer is no.

For you, no doubt; but a lot of people would jump. Some of whom would then use some fraction of their Hollywood money to open a cancer clinic in Zambia.

The point is, if the purpose of these discussions is moral positioning, to signal that you are a particular type of person, that can be done perfectly well on a purely fantasy scenario. Whereas if you want to work out the appropriate course of action in the real world, real world information is best.

What’s not so useful is confusing the two, taking something real and changing the details to make it match the pose (concerned, aggressive, …) you wish to strike.

82. Leon Wolfson

@80 – No, of course simply *accusing* people isn’t switched on. I was stating it factually.

And yes, routinely. Because they are effectively indiferent to or advocates of genocide. And I’m never afraid to call them on it. Your hated of Israel is quite obvious, and your only response is to try and infantalise the person who is clearly accurate.

Moreover, you evidently have little knowledge of how specialised nuclear equipment is – it’s effectively impossible to import the required tools without someone noticing. As has been proven repeatedly. The alternative, home development, is far more expensive and takes far longer. And probably isn’t even /possible/ for Iran.

Oh, and Japan could generate a single warhead in a year, sure. From a heavily established, long-standing nuclear industry.

@79 – Putting “pressure” on Israel benefits the right. And there’s very little difference between the UK political parties from an international standpoint, but you still post here. A left-lead coalition for Israel would pursue considerably different aims from a right-lead one.

83. flyingrodent

you seem certain based on what you think is rational for a pariah state.

Well, look. It’s based on this bit of reasoning – don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do.

This decade, the Iranians – as personified in the foaming-mouthed form of Ahmadinejad – has mouthed off a Wagnerian storm, obliquely threatening anyone and everyone, questioning the reality of the Holocaust, vowing to destroy all enemies and so on. Classic wacky, headbanger post-revolution Persian stuff all the way – sounds very belligerent, deliberately offensive and provocative.

And yet, aside from the woofing, what has Iran actually done? Pretty much exactly what you’d expect a weaker power to do when an aggressive global hegemon moves a massive chunk of its military forces into neighbouring countries and almost surrounds it with weapons of destruction. It’s quietly consolidated its position; arming friendly factions, extending its control over proxies in nearby states, acquiring useful weapons for any fight that may come*.

Iran has, in short, acted like an entirely rational power, insofar as a mad theocracy has the capacity to act rationally. If I was a rational human being in their situation, I’d want a nuclear deterrent, and remember – deterrence is the justification all nuclear powers use for having nukes.

On the other hand, ourselves, the Americans and the Israelis have ridden roughshod over the region, bombing seven shades of shit out of half the countries there, launching doomed occupations and aggressively demanding that Iran comply with our wishes, OR ELSE!

I mean, which powers would you say are acting like lunatics who cannot be deterred? Which of us look like expansionist powers, determined to export our political model to other nations at gunpoint?

On point two, well – if I could see any scenario in which any military activity on our part could degrade the Iranians’ nuclear programme badly enough to make it worth the fallout, I might change my opinion.

All I’m saying is, look at our track record on military force this year. In Libya, we’ve just supported a faction in a civil war with air power while it blasted an entire city to rubble around the ears of its population; ethnically cleansed another city and murdered an unknown number of civilians and captured fighters in cold blood…

And that’s the good intervention. That’s the one that worked, the one we’re all 100% proud of! That’s before we talk about the mayhem and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon and on and on and on…

Which is why I’m not confident of our ability to achieve a successful outcome in a war against a nation of seventy five million human beings. I think we’ll just wind up successfully killing hundreds of thousands of human beings, for nothing, again.

*By which I mean, the Iranians’ anti-ship missiles, which look pretty effective. I really don’t want to see British naval vessels trying to counter them, since I predict a lot of dead sailors. A lot.

@ 82 – Leon Wolfson:

‘Putting “pressure” on Israel benefits the right. And there’s very little difference between the UK political parties from an international standpoint, but you still post here. A left-lead coalition for Israel would pursue considerably different aims from a right-lead one.’

So we mustn’t ever pressure Israel because it benefits the right? What if I said we mustn’t pressure Iran because it benefits the more conservative ayatollahs vis-a-vis the liberal ones? What rubbish.

I’m not talking about the difference between the parties ‘from an international standpoint’. I’m talking about the difference between the parties, period. I’m looking at it up-close, if you will. And I’m not the only person who lives in Israel much of the year who thinks there’s no significant difference between Kadima and Likud. What’s more, as I’ve said before, your characterisation of Kadima as ‘leftwing’ is eccentric – it’s avowedly a centrist party and even that I would call skewed. For me, there’s a rizla paper between Kadima and Likud – mostly a difference in rhetoric than intentions.

Matt, In what ways are the Iranians unpredictable?

86. flyingrodent

Your hated of Israel is quite obvious, and your only response is to try and infantalise the person who is clearly accurate.

Leon, my man, you’ve got this quite wrong – I’m not trying to infantilise you.

I’m pointing out that you’ve accused me of hating Israel, being a racist and wanting to see Israel destroyed maybe one hundred times now, and you still haven’t produced one single, solitary piece of evidence to support those accusations. Not one. Nothing..

So no, I’m not trying to infantilise you. I’m calling you a straight-up idiot. The difference between my insult and your wild assertions, of course, is that I’ve got some strong evidence on my side.

flyingrodent @ 83 –

I don’t disagree with anything much in your post. I posited a hypothetical scenario where we could destroy the Iranians’ nuclear sites without causing significant civilian casualties or necessitating a larger conflict. In those circumstances – and only those – I would not look too harshly on Israel performing the deed.

In addition, I pointed out that a very similar operation to the hypothetical one I posit has taken place in the past. On 7 June 1981, 16 Israeli planes destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak, near Baghdad, in an attack codenamed Operation Babylon. The attack lasted two minutes. Iraq’s nuclear capability was destroyed, never to recover.

It’s a precedent worth bearing in mind, no?

88. flyingrodent

It’s a precedent worth bearing in mind, no?

You mean, if the Israelis could destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities with a very low chance of a catastrophic war resulting? That would be good news, and I’d be happy to back it, if the result was near-certain.

My problem is, I’m looking at this as it’s likely to pan out in reality, where even the Israeli generals themselves are saying it’s an insane plan. Let’s hope this is all just woofing for intimidation purposes.

“[. . .] even the Israeli generals themselves are saying it’s an insane plan. Let’s hope this is all just woofing for intimidation purposes.”

Agreed, agreed.

“Matt, In what ways are the Iranians unpredictable?”

I’m thinking especially of the way waves of persecution hit the cities seemingly randomly – one week certain haircuts are banned, next week it’s something else. And there are long periods of quiet interspersed by frenzies of kidnappings, arrests, etc. So domestic rather than foreign.

91. So Much For Subtlety

62. flyingrodent

The Moriori were wiped out by an aggressive, expansionist neighbour. There are two expansionist powers active in the Middle East; one relentlessly widening its borders and annexing land to itself at will, and teh other invading and occupying other nations and installing favourable regimes.

Umm, not there are not. There is one aggressive expansionist ideology, and one weak self-expansionist ideology – Islamism and Democracy respectively. Israel is not annexing land. Nor have the US installed a favourable regime anywhere much lately. Afghanistan perhaps. Nor do they invade at will.

Neither are Iran. Iran has only fought one war in the last few decades, and that a defensive one against their foreign-backed neighbour.

But Iran has massively subsidised subversion and terrorism against their neighbours and beyond. The fact they do not have the power to expand does not mean they do not have the desire to do so.

Let’s be clear here – the rulers of Iran are a horrible bunch; they repress many of their own people and they are enthusiastic practitioners of weapons proliferation, torture, assassination and general espionage and dirty tricks. On the other hand, it’s isn’t Iran that has spent the decade smashing fuck out of anything and everything it dislikes in the region.

Nor has anyone else. Iran might have – if it had the power to do so. You seem intent on making sure they have the time and money to acquire such an ability.

I don’t regard those two nations’ continued free hand destroy and kill at will as even nearly important enough to risk World War Three over. Hell, I wouldn’t cross the street for it.

Good for you. But you have not explained why this view should be respected.

I suspect you’re doing violence to Clausewitz’ argument there, given he had, say, ancient Persia, the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions of Europe and the Mongol Horde as counterexamples. Had he lived longer, he might have found the German/Russian invasions of Poland and the American war upon North Vietnam quite confusing too.

Suspect away. You would be wrong. Of course Poland is a good example. They chose war. The Czechs did not. The Germans occupied both countries, but only in one was there fighting.

You mean, what possible catastrophic results could ensue from a full-on war with a nation of seventy-five million people in the world’s key oil-producing region, which also happens to sit alongside one of the world’s worst political and military flashpoints?

You think the use of this sort of hysterical (sorry, you’re not a woman are you? I don’t want to seem to be shaming you into silence) language helps? Full-on war actually means little. It does not sit along side one of the world’s worst political and military flash points. The Middle East has nothing except oil and they like to talk up the dangers, but in reality, there is little Iran could do for long against the oil trade, the war would most likely be surgical and quick, and terrorism is unlikely to be an issue.

I admit, I’m surprised that this needs spelling out – we could try “Most of Middle East, including Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia and sundry emirates potentially dragged into horrific, years-long conflict that could expand well beyond the region

So you’re just making sh!t up now? Give me a sensible reason to think that the conflict could spread to anywhere except Lebanon.

with huge troop commitment to mass-casualty urban fighting and total destruction of entire cities as a matter of necessity

The Iranian government is not popular with Iranians. Why do you think there would be any urban fighting?

Closure of sea lanes leading to massive spike in oil price crushes world economy into Weimarish nightmare, precipitating massive decline in American/European power…

Explain to me how Iran could manage to close any sea lanes given they failed to come even close to stopping Iraq export oil in their war? What is more the US does not import much oil from the Middle East. Tough on the Japanese and the Europeans, less bad for the rest of the world.

And that’s assuming the war stays non-nuclear.

Iran doesn’t have the bomb yet. Why wouldn’t it?

If that all seems unlikely to you, well, I suggest that it’s probably more likely than “Triumphantly successful bombing raid destroys nuclear threat; Iranians quietly accept defeat and total US hegemony”. After all, the reality of World War One came as something of a surprise to the great powers of the day too.

So much for your opinion.

Cretinous. Like, wars don’t kill people, man, government does. Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. Baseball bats don’t hit balls – people do. The worrying thing is, your Aw shucks, what’s a little war between friends? routine is far, far closer to the actual opinions of the relevant state leaders than mine is.

So now you have moved into Leon-territory with out right lies? I said wars kill. The point is that oppressive governments are usually worse.

The Soviet Union alone suffered almost 27 million dead in WW2. None of them were killed by an abstract concept of civil governance.

Which proves my point entirely – even that massive death toll is dwarfed by the number of people killed by socialism in the USSR. Of all the loss of human life in the USSR, the Germans were one of the least bloody killers. More so than the Whites or the Tsar of course. Vastly more so. But less so than Stalinism. Socialism is, last I checked, an abstract concept of civil governance.

92. So Much For Subtlety

80. flyingrodent

Anyway, somebody better tell the Japanese government how unpossible it is. Their entire nuclear policy is based up sudden ramping up of production if required.

If the Japanese have large stocks of highly enriched uranium, it is news to me. They do have large stocks of plutonium. So the other poster was kind of right.

Do you really think that accusing people of this kind of thing is on? I mean, would you, to people’s faces, accuse them of indifference to – or, more commonly, wild passion for – genocide?

Given your track record that is a bit rich. How about everyone tones it down a little? But yes, if they support genocide, then telling them they do is fine. As a large number of people here are Marxists or former Marxists it follows that a large number of people here actively supported genocide. It would be wrong not to say so in most circumstances.

soru

The restaurants they would blow up in retaliation are generally not. If you start a war, then you should take seriously the possibility your new enemy will fight back.

It is interesting to see how the West is so easily deterred. By the threat of a few attacks on restaurants. Unfortunately it is a lesson anyone can learn and so no doubt we will see many more attacks on restaurants. Instead of what we should be doing which is making sure anyone who even thinks of attacking restaurants has the fear of God put into them to the extent they won’t do it twice.

It is interesting to see how the West is so easily deterred.

If someone has a chocolate muffin, but you don’t want to fight them to take it off them, then you might reasonably say you are deterred from taking it. Delicious chocolate muffin, probably only a few cuts and bruises; that’s a choice, if probably a bad one.

If that same person has a dogshit sandwich, then you probably still don’t fight them for it, but exactly how much damage you would take in the fight isn’t the reason why.

Unless you like fighting for it’s own sake, and a _lot_, there’s nothing plausibly to be gained from attacking Iran. You are not going to bomb the government into being in any way better; not friendlier, not more peaceful, liberal or feminist. Not less keen on nukes, less prone to mutterings about Zionists, or more generous with the oil contracts. And, even less than in Iraq, you are certainly not going to get the consent of the people to run a better government for a bit to see how it goes.

Quite likely you end up with another North Korea, a state that justifies it’s existence not on the basis of something like the welfare or prosperity if it’s citizens, but on what’s seen as necessary to fight a war with the US.

94. Leon Wolfson

@93 – Really? There’s nothing to be gained from stopping the spread of nuclear weapons? Gee, well, the entire cold war was a waste of time then.

@86 – So you’re a liar as well as a troll and a hard right winger. I see. Well, thanks for that.

Hey, I posted on this thread and haven’t yet been accused of being racist or genocidal. I feel left out.

96. So Much For Subtlety

93. soru

If someone has a chocolate muffin, but you don’t want to fight them to take it off them, then you might reasonably say you are deterred from taking it. Delicious chocolate muffin, probably only a few cuts and bruises; that’s a choice, if probably a bad one.

True. But what if it is your chocolate muffin and someone else wants it? Then you might decide it is not worth the bruises and hand it over. But they will be back for your sneakers tomorrow. Your car the day after and your house next week. There is a point where it is important not to be deterred by common thugs.

Unless you like fighting for it’s own sake, and a _lot_, there’s nothing plausibly to be gained from attacking Iran. You are not going to bomb the government into being in any way better; not friendlier, not more peaceful, liberal or feminist. Not less keen on nukes, less prone to mutterings about Zionists, or more generous with the oil contracts. And, even less than in Iraq, you are certainly not going to get the consent of the people to run a better government for a bit to see how it goes.

Sorry but that is nonsense. This is the Middle East where nothing is certain except that things change. Bombing people works in the Middle East. It will certainly work in a country where the government lost the last election and is only in power through thuggery, violence, torture and murder. If we humiliate the regime, it may fall. If we degrade its capabilities to repress, it may be over thrown. If we invade, the next government will certainly be more democratic and less radical. We bombed Libya and Gaddafi calmed right down. Israel recently bombed Lebanon and Hezbollah has been quiet. It works.

<i.Quite likely you end up with another North Korea, a state that justifies it’s existence not on the basis of something like the welfare or prosperity if it’s citizens, but on what’s seen as necessary to fight a war with the US.

So win-win really. What would be bad about this outcome for us?

97. Leon Wolfson

@95 – Then make a statement which is racist or call for genocide, if you feel “left out”. That you feel the need to trumpet about not getting it just means you’re concerned about the length of your epeen.

98. Rob the crip

I suspect America is pulling out of it’s debt crises and Obama may well feel the people will back him, since Iran is so evil wanting Nukes to fight against Israel a country who has stated it needs more land.

Nothing works better then getting the arms industry working then war….


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/7LnqsBON

  2. Jose Aguiar

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/qvV6SnqC via @libcon

  3. Christy Tuohy

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/7LnqsBON

  4. Alex Braithwaite

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/2NMVr425 via @libcon

  5. Rachael Chrisp

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/7LnqsBON

  6. David Dubost

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/ZhewFKfB

  7. Pucci D

    A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/7LnqsBON

  8. Tom King

    @CalumSPlath Read: http://t.co/uMclzs7w – “all options” logically includes “total nuclear annihilation”

  9. Tom King

    RT @libcon: A plan to attack Iran? Really? http://t.co/9IaDUK77





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