It’s sad when the writers of Cracked…

know more about the Imminent Threat that is not Iran than the warmongers of the Right and the combox cowards who–more fearful of something that maybe possibly perhaps could happen someday than they are of the Living God–defend their rhetoric in favor of cold-blooded murder of innocent human beings:

What You’ve Heard:

It’s easy to see why people are afraid of Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map and claimed the United States was behind 9/11. You wouldn’t trust anyone who says things like that to be in charge of a country!

Especially not when they look like Doctor Octopus.


That’s why Ahmadinejad isn’t in charge — Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is. Despite a title that sounds like An overcompensating member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Khamenei has been running the show for years. See, unlike our president, Ahmadinejad doesn’t control Iran’s nuclear strategy, armed forces or even foreign policy.

Motherf*****s act like they forgot about ‘Nei.

Ahmadinejad is more like the Joe Biden of Iran — he says stupid things that embarrass the country, but the guy in power thinks he’s a good enough shit, so he keeps him around. Though even that gives President Spell-Check a little too much credit, because Ahmadinejad isn’t even the second most powerful guy in the country.

Try 14th. In addition to Lord Sexgantic Ayatollah Khamenei, he’s outranked by the 12 members of the Guardian Council, which sounds like something out of the
extended Star Wars universe, but actually functions more like Ahmadinejad’s boss. They can shoot down his ideas via veto and get to decide who runs for president in the first place.

Ahmadinejad can’t even talk without their pictures standing guard.

As the Iranian people know, Ahmadinejad doesn’t even have the power to get women into soccer games (one of his campaign promises in 2007), and he has become increasingly unpopular among the masses with every day in office.

This makes me Ahmadinesad.

The problem is that the West pays such an unreasonable amount of attention to Ahmadinejad that according to political experts, it’s one of the only things keeping him relevant in Iran. Despite a failed economic policy, and the
fact that he’s pissed of the Ayatollah so much that experts don’t expect him to finish his second term, the Iranian people feel like they have to pay attention to him because America is paying attention to him. And America is paying attention to him because his job title sounds impressive to us.

“A president? Those are the things we protest against!”

OK, but even if Ahmadinejad isn’t in charge, the real leaders are religious hard-liners who hate America. So Iran is still a threat, right? Actually, their annual military budget is around nine billion dollars, which puts them behind the powerhouses like Greece and Australia. In terms of per capita spending, Iran is dead last in the gulf region. Nuclear weapons aren’t a concern, either, as U.S.
intelligence agencies believe Iran has halted its program

Making your enemies seem like unbalanced lunatics is just an old propaganda trick. For instance, remember that comment about wanting to wipe Israel off the map? According to the people who translated the statement in the first place, it was translated worse than a Final Fantasy game, due to “time pressure to produce a translation quickly.” It would be more accurate to say Ahmadinejad wanted to see a regime change, which is a pretty common statement in global politics.

All these men support regime change. Only Perry wants D.C. wiped off the map.

Of course, the media didn’t have to exaggerate his statements denying the Holocaust and claiming that the U.S. was behind 9/11. They just had to ignore the fact that the guy saying it doesn’t matter.

When I was in Ireland a couple of years ago, I met a very fine Senator from the Republic of Ireland named Ronan Mullen.  A few years ago, he came to the US and was treated royally while here because our government, being utterly provincial and ignorant of Ireland assumed a “senator” from Ireland was the same as an American senator. Actually, the office is more like a Congressman. He enjoyed it though.

The point is, all the American panic about Ahmadinejad with his finger on the button is pure provincial ignorance too. And using his stupid blather as a justification for praising cold-blooded murder of civilians as “wonderful” is both ignorant and evil.

  • kenneth

    This is an excellent piece for gaining some desperately needed perspective on the Iran situation. Unfortunately, folks never let the facts get in the way of a good story (or war narrative). The war drums have started beating much the same as they did in the lead-up to Iraq (both times). Once that machine is in motion, no force on Earth seems to be able to stop, or even slow it. People worry that one of the Iranian’s moves or ours will accidentally go “too far.”

    That’s nonsense. They will go exactly as far as they were intended to go. Both sides are carrying out a very well practiced and scripted order of events which is specifically intended and guaranteed to lead to war. All of the elements are in place, the daily fear-mongering about imminent weapons of mass destruction, the inevitable comparisons to Hitler, the fantasies about internal “freedom fighters” who will throw roses at our feet as an occupying force….

    We will be at war with Iran before the year is out, and I would guess by late summer, in advance of elections. Nobody votes out a sitting president in the hot volatile phase of any war. If Obama misses that window, well no trouble. All of the top Republican candidates have all but promised a war with Iran. The leadership of both countries has a vested interest in war, because they have nothing to offer in the way of domestic policy or jobs, and because their respective societies no longer even have a healthy self-identity independent of existential conflict and war.

    We will be at war because we are no longer a republic but an empire. That process has been underway since World War II and it was cast in concrete with the fall of the Soviet Union. Military empires must expand to survive, and the blood and money of war are the oxygen and food that keeps them alive.

    • Mark Shea

      My guess is you are right. Obama has launched more wars than all other Nobel Peace Prize winners combined.

      • kenneth

        Maybe, although Arafat certainly held his own in that regard. Chalk it up to the Nobel comittee’s foolishness, awarding the prize pre-emptively for the sole criteria of not being George Bush. On that basis, I should have won the damn thing. I’m a peaceful guy. Not only have I kept my predator drone in the garage, I don’t even shoulder-clip guys at the bar!

    • Dave G.

      Well if we’ve been an empire, then we’ve been a poor one, since we’ve been on a steady decline for the last couple decades. But then I guess we can add ‘being an incompetent empire’ to the list of reasons why America just sucks so bad.

      • kenneth

        ALL empires decline, and fall. All empires likewise believe that they cannot decline and fall because they are history’s final, perfect product and because they believe they can maintain such a military advantage that no one would dare to challenge it. All empires are wrong on both counts.

        We are an empire, any way you cut it. We have over 1,000 military bases across the world and a military budget that dwarfs the rest of the planet. War, or the credible threat of war, is THE primary tool in our foreign relations tool box.

        I do believe we are well into the decline phase. The good and bad news, depending how you look at it, is that the decline phase for big empires can stretch for decades.

        • Oregon Catholic

          You can also point to the moral rotting of our society as a pretty good indicator we are in decline. Funny how the rise of greed of the military-industrial complex has a negative correlation with the moral decline of society and it’s leaders.

          I agree with you that the drumbeat for war with Iran has started. But I also think the mid-east will explode on it’s own anyway in civil war, so perhaps getting control of Iran will be a step to holding onto the oil so we can drag out our decline a little longer than if we just let them all come to civil war on their own. Don’cha love my cynicism?

          • kenneth

            It makes sense except for the oil part. After any war or major upheaval in an oil state, it takes a minimum of a decade to regain pre-war production. During any war or prolonged standoff with Iran, we can expect to see petroleum prices double, along with long-term unemployement.

            • Dr. Eric

              The interwebs sez that we only get 11% of our oil from our “enemies.” Most of our oil comes from the Western Hemisphere.

              • kenneth

                Where “our” oil comes from is almost immaterial anymore. It’s a world market and one where supply just barely meets demand, on a good day. Even the threat of a short term interruption of a small fraction of supply is enough to send the market into spasms and inflicts enormous damage to our economies.

                The viability of our economy is utterly dependent on a stable and uninterrupted flow of oil at all times.

        • Dave G.

          For the sake of my kids, I hope it’s a long time. For those of us arguing just how bad our country is and how nice it might be once we are out of the way – all the while taking advantage of the finer things our country has to offer – won’t be the ones to pay the price. Because you are right, ALL empires, nations, kingdoms eventually fall. Not all are alike, none are actually. America is an empire in some ways, in others not. Other kingdoms or nations are unique in their own way. But they all fall. And what a nightmare it is when it happens. But I’m afraid it will happen sooner than not. As I tell my boys, when the only thing that unites a country is the agreement that it sucks but it’s everyone else’s fault, don’t make any long range plans.

  • Marcel

    The Iranians don’t need to worry about American panic, but Israeli. When they say “Never again,” it isn’t just an empty piety.

  • Tom Connelly

    Ayatollah Khamenei on Israel: “Surely, the day will come when the nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist regime… when the destruction happens will depend on how the Islamic nations approach the issue.”

    Ayatollah Khamenei on Israel: “Iran’s stance has always been clear on this ugly phenomenon. We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region.”

    Statements such as these do not seem all that far removed from what Ahmadinejad has said.

    Admittedly, a couple of extremely hostile statements from the supreme leader of Iran are not a casus belli.

    Still, if I were an Israeli, the prospect of a nuclear Iran would make me nervous.

    I pray that Israel and its neighbors can resolve their differences peacefully.

  • Franciscan

    I think a more reasonable and responsible place is to be found somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe Iran is as obviously an imminent, mortal danger as some portray, but I don’t believe they’re as obviously harmless, incompetent and impotent as portrayed in this piece, either. In addition to reading various viewpoints on Iran, I have a very close friend who I suspect has a much better and intimate knowledge and understanding of the intelligence related to Iran than anyone on this blog (it’s his joba). He’s no warmonger or Chicken Little. He thought the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unwise. But he’s very concerned about Iran.

    It’s rare that the best answer to one over-reaction is to over-react in the opposite direction.

    • Dave G.

      That’s probably closer to the truth. Concerned Iran will be knocking down the White House door tomorrow? Convinced that if we stop screwing things up, peace will break out and the Middle East will begin singing John Lennon songs together? Nope. Yours is probably one of the better takes on the issue – beware the extremes…on both sides. Even if one extreme take is from such a worthy source as Cracked.

    • kenneth

      Of course the Iranians should be a cause for concern. They don’t warrant all-out panic. Nuclear armed countries are a fact of life in this world. A little perspective is in order. We’re freaking out over a handfull of mullahs who might scrape up enough uranium to build a couple of bombs in a few years time. Remember the Soviets? They had 30,000 bombs! Enough to fight a galactic war, let alone “wipe Israel off the map.”

      The Soviets, if you remember, had dedicated themselves to wiping western democracies off the map. They were dead serious in that ambition, and they had infinitely more resources and brain power to further it. We survived them and we faced them down, without firing a shot, when they tried to park ICBMs literally in our backyard, a threat hundreds of times more imminent than anything the Iranians have going.

      For all this panic about nukes and Islamic extremism, we seem awfully blase about the fact that our “ally”, Pakistan, already has such weapons. The country which created and continues to support the Taliban for its own reasons. This is a country where even high-ranking military officers are of uncertain loyalty. Their hold on their own nukes is so tenuous that the “strategy” for keeping them safe is literally to load them into moving vans and truck them around the country at random to try to stay one step ahead of the extremists, relying on a network of (probably) trustworthy handlers!

      The guy who made this possible, AQ Khan, sold technology and components to the highest bidders, including North Korea and God knows who else. Not only didn’t we not assassinate him, we didn’t really even raise our voice too much. We basically told the Pakistanis “C’mmon guys, knock that off.”

      Then of course, there is North Korea, a nuclear armed country run by men who are as screwy as Phil Spector and Yoko Asahara combined.

      Deterrence works. Nothing sobers up a national leadership like knowing they’re now in the targeting computers of every nuclear nation. It forces them to act like grownups. The Iranian mullahs are not wild-eyed jihadis hoping to cash in their vouchers for 72 virgins. They’re politicians who enjoy being in power and being alive to do so. They’re rational, if nasty men. They want a nuke as a way to be taken seriously and to end the perpetual threat of invasion. They aren’t likely to give nukes over to jihadis for the same reason no nuclear power has ever given them to non-state actors. Politicians like being alive.

      • SKay

        “We survived them and we faced them down, without firing a shot, when they tried to park ICBMs literally in our backyard, a threat hundreds of times more imminent than anything the Iranians have going. ”
        I remember it very well Kenneth. There was a reason that Khrushchev thought he could get away with it. It could have easily gone the other way–as we later found out.

        ” In June of 1961, while still in the early months of his presidency, Kennedy attended a summit with Premier Khrushchev in Vienna to discuss cold war confrontations between the east and west, in particular the situation in Berlin. The failure of the two leaders to resolve any of their differences during the summit led Khrushchev to view Kennedy as a weak president who lacked the power or support to negotiate any meaningful concessions in the arms race. ”
        The cold war was never a picnic and thankfully a combination of particular people in different countries at that time-helped bring about the end of that cold war.
        Now we have small “suitcase” weapons that can walk across the southern border. Chavez has said that he will help Muslims cross the border. They think Obama is weak.
        No one imagined that Russia would be able to put missals in Cuba right under our nosees at that time either.

        • Franciscan

          To “Skay” -


    • Dan C

      Conservatives can be dead wrong and there needs to be no understanding of “maybe they aren’t all wrong and we can salvage some face.”

  • Franciscan

    typo correction: “joba” = “job”

  • Michael O.

    “A few years ago, he came to the US and was treated royally while here because our government, being utterly provincial and ignorant of Ireland assumed a “senator” from Ireland was the same as an American senator. Actually, the office is more like a Congressman.”

    Senators are Congressmen. Did you mean Representative?

    • Jack


      Sorry to nitpick but in my genreal experience whilst Representative is the correct title of someone from the lower house, they to be callled congressman in genral conversation. A similer analogy is the that the majority of non-catholics don’t make the distinction between a Nun (who is enclosed in the convent) and an active Religious Sister who isn’t.

    • Mark Shea


  • Dave G.

    “the inevitable comparisons to Hitler”

    An interesting comparison of comparisons.

  • Lisa

    I agree with you as well. Something bad is going to happen in Iran this year. So here’s a wild scenario: BHO doesnt seem to mind Arab or Persian blood as evidenced by his unprecidented ramp up of the use of drones, but he does not seem to have the stomach for American blood. There are apparently two ways stop the uranium enrichment program taking place deep beneath the earth. 1) Invade with troops and fight your way down the shaft or 2) deploy an earth penetrating tactical nuclear weapon or, 2.2) give one of these to the Israelis.

    Therefore, our Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning President could very well be the first guy to use a nuke in 67 years. Lets hope not. There is a tiny bit of encouraging news today that UN inspectors will be allowed in Iran. I pray it woeks out.

    • Dan C

      You are imbibing fear and loathing and using it to form your conscience.

      • SKay

        Long before 9/11 happened the plan of a terrorist taking over an international flight and flying it into the US to fly into a building(don’t remember if a specific one was mentioned) was being discussed by the “very very smart people” in DC. They said that the idea was ridiculous — it could not happen–blah, blah, move on. I believed them because they sounded sooo reasonable.

        It did not happen exactly that way–and not right away–but it did happen-more than one plane and thousands died.
        I don’t know if the very smart people consulted with Cracked or not.

        Of course it serves the Ayatollah and his cronies to have Ahmadinejad out in front while they run things behind the scenes. That way they can “appear” to be so much more reasonable.

        • Franciscan

          I agree. Well put.

  • Lisa

    By the way The Union of Concerned Scientitsts estimates that the collateral damage from a 1.2 Mton bunker buster would be about 3 million people due to the radioactive fallout of dust.

    We must pray hard for a better solution.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    “… all the American panic about Ahmadinejad with his finger on the button is pure provincial ignorance too.”

    I’m not so sure. “Ignorance” implies that one simply does not know. I think our leaders DO know and are purposefully misleading the public. That isn’t ignorance. It’s good old fashioned propaganda, plain and simple.

    • Dan C

      I think the very smart, very informed commentators in the conservative blogosphere know it too. It is inexplicable why they knee-jerk pull him out as a bogey-man.

  • MM

    I don’t know if “Cracked” is the best source to back one’s opinions, whether you support the conclusion or not.

    I would like to think that Iran doesn’t constitute much of a threat to the US – after all, they couldn’t even knock out Iraq after 8 years. But this is the same country that bankrolls Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Mahdi army in Iraq, and Syria and consorts with North Korea. It also happens to sit on or near one of the biggest supplies of oil in the world. During the Iran-Iraq war, it was famous for using schoolkids as”human waves” to clear minefields. Now imagine them with nukes. You really want to hang your hat on their rationality?

    • Dan C

      Pakistan is worse. Yet, because they are not a right wing target, yet a clear American enemy, no one brings this up. They are responsible for the spread of nuclear technology.

      Much like in the book 1984, our ally this year could be our enemy next year. Who knows with Iran? Why be whip-sawed by the propaganda?

      • MM

        This is not a “right wing” or a “left wing” issue. Pakistan is worse, but I wouldn’t say that “no one brings them up”. It’s just that when a country gets nukes (like Pakistan), your options become more severely limited. We also unfortunately rely on the “goodwill” of the Pakistanis in order to supply our troops in Afghanistan.

        As for Iran, don’t you think that there is teensy-weensy legitimate concern about what happens when (not if) they get the bomb? Perhaps, expressing that concern is more than just trying to whip up the patriotic fervor of those brain-dead yokels in flyover country…

        All the hysteria-mongering on this blog reminds me of the 1980 election when there was all this worry that Reagan was going to start World War III.

        • Mark Shea

          Of course there’s a concern. And that justifies celebration of cold blooded murder how? Do you not fear God?

          • MM

            Not sure where you get “celebration of cold blooded murder” and “not fearing God”, but whatever – it’s your blog.

            Motes, eyes, some disassembly required.

            • Mark Shea

              Calling the murder of Iranian civilians “wonderful” is celebration of murder. Whining that this is all good because you are more scared for your skin than you are of the Living God who said “You shall not murder” is cowardice. Nut up, man!

    • Mark S (not for Shea)

      “They are a threat” is not a justification for war. It is a justification for diplomacy.

      • Christian Ohnimus

        Well said. Just war doctrine states that just cause means “innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.” Meanwhile the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates it will take 10 years for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Last I checked “10 years” does not equal “imminent”. One decade is plenty of time for diplomacy.

  • Lisa

    Another sad fact is that, as we have proven on this blog, the morality and leagality of pre-emption is an unsettled notion. I suspect there are plans being considered that will create another Lusitania/Golf of Tonkin/Perl Harbor/911 event that will avoid the need for pre-emption. In other words, I’ll wager there are some in the Pentagon hoping that the Straights of Hormuz get closed and that a US warship gets fired upon.

    But THAT would never happen in America, would it?

    • Mark Shea

      as we have proven on this blog, the morality and leagality of pre-emption is an unsettled notion.

      Yes. And as this video has proven, the existence of flying cars is an unsettled notion. Likewise, as geocentrists have proven, the rotation of the earth is an unsettled notion. And as Hollow Earth theorists have proven, the existence of Pellucidar is still an unsettle notion. All opinions are of equal value and weight. So when a moral idiot wants to say that it’s okay to kill a civilian, guilty of no capital crime, in a state not at war with us, well, he has just as much right to his opinion as the entire Catholic tradition which says that you may never deliberately take innocent human life for any reason whatsoever.

      • Lisa

        I am sure the issue is tidily settled Mark’s mind, but not mine, and not in the minds of some respected Catholic thinkers.

        And it was not settled in the mind of my mentor, Fr RJ Neuhaus, God be good to him. We all quest for clarity and consensus, but with respect to preemption, we’ll have to be patient; we’ve only bebated it for a few years now. I would suspect the Vatican will add some guidence in the next couple of years.

        • Romulus

          In their willingness to shill for neocons, Fr. Neuhaus and his heirs have much to answer for. They don’t get a free pass just because they’re (small o) orthodox Christians.

          • Tom Connelly

            Father Neuhaus shilled for no one.

      • Oregon Catholic

        You are absolutely right Mark about the deliberate taking of innocent human life – it’s murder. The question that hasn’t been settled is whether this person was innocent.

        You got after someone yesterday for claiming the scientist’s guilt without proof but you have no more proof of his innocence and have felt quite free to call people sinners and bad Catholics who don’t agree with you 100% on THIS instance despite your lack of proof. I don’t think anyone disagreed on the moral principal behind your personal position but they were all tarred with the same brush because they didn’t possess your moral certainty that this scientist didn’t qualify as an enemy combatant and the attack as self-defense. This situation is not black and white. What is black and white is the Catholic moral principal and the two should not be confused.

        • Mark Shea

          In my country, the principle is innocent till proven guilty. Celebrating the murder of a civilian found guilty of no crime in a country not at war with us is gravely evil. My reader scan suppose whatever they like about his guilt just as Osama bin Laden could suppose whatever he liked about the guilt of the financiers of the military industrial complex in the US. Nonetheless, his crime–and the crime of the people who killed the Iranian scientist was still murder and they are trying to say that calling this “wonderful” is compatible with Catholic faith instead of the grave sin it is. If it is not black and white that you may never deliberately take innocent human life, then there is no such thing as Catholic moral teaching.

          Listen to yourself!

          • Lisa

            You should then be ver concerned about BHO’s “clean” war of drones whereby no one in our government can say how a name winds up on the daily kill list. I have even read that the Pakistanis get to add to the list as payment for their looking the other way. We have no idea how many “innocent” people have been murdered in “a country we are not at war with.”

            It’s likely some angry Captain in the Pakistani army was mad at his brother in law and put him on the list. How would anyone know?

            • Mark Shea

              I am concerned. But I haven’t run across “100% prolife Catholic candidates” cheering for it. If Santo has done so, add that to the list of reason why he is a fraud and a seducer of the faithful to claim that mantle.

          • Oregon Catholic

            You are still dancing around the innocence issue and trying to find equality between this instance and Catholic teaching. Just because you have no direct knowledge of his guilt (and therefore assume his innocence) doesn’t mean it’s unknown by those involved, who may in fact be Iranians opposed to their own gov’t.

            And once again, no one was celebrating the death of an innocent civilian even if that’s what he was – they were saying they can support assassination or pre-emptive war against an enemy intending to do great harm to us (and giving the benefit of the doubt about his enemy status to those who killed him) and in good conscience still profess belief in Catholic moral teaching.

            The fact you cannot separate the two in your own mind and heart does not make you right and everyone else who can wrong.

            • Mark Shea

              In my country, executions of the guilty take place after a trial in which the evidence is argued and a verdict reached by competent authority. Perhaps in Oregon there has been some new theory put forward that if you think somebody worthy of death you can walk up and shoot them. But in my country (and my church) this is called “murder in the first degree”. Catholics here are cheering for that and you are making excuses for that. Amazing.

              • Oregon Catholic

                By your rationale, the US would have had no moral right to act pre-emptively to stop the attack on Pearl Harbor until the planes were overhead and the first shot was fired.

                I think you might be living in a different country all right.

                • Mark Shea

                  Don’t be silly. Had the US had intelligence that a fleet was sailing to Hawaii, we would have been justified in sending a fleet to intercept it and, if they initiated hostilities, to fight. That does not mean you have a right to shoot your neighbor to death because you suspect that in five years, he might do something bad. Listen to yourself. You are arguing for murder. A few posts ago, you were saying, “We don’t know if he was guilty or not, so maybe it’s okay to cheer for murdering him.” That’s like saying, in 1929, “We don’t know if the Japanese may attack us in 12 years, so maybe it’s okay to bomb them now.” Or saying in 1889, we don’t know if this baby will grow up to be Fuehrer, so maybe it’s okay to abort it now. What’s the matter with you?

        • Oregon Catholic

          You’re right about confronting the Japanese navy, I used a poor example. But what parallel is there in the scenario with Iran? They are not going to sail up to our shores with a nuclear warhead and engage us conventional battle. If a nuclear weapon is not pre-empted it will be too late. I cannot imagine a pre-emption scenario in which lives will not be lost but it seems a morally proportionate response.

          • Mark Shea

            Actually you used a good example. The simple fact is pre-emptive war is not in the Catechism as the Holy Father said. Nor is pre-emptive murder. Every war is a scenario parallel with Iran. It has always been possible for nations to menace other nations. It has never been legitimate to launch a war of aggression because you are afraid of what somebody might do some day. And it has never been legitimate to murder a civilian in cold blood. Indeed, if an Iranian *soldier* had been the victim it would have been murder–because we are not at war.

            At some point we have to trust God when he says “You shall not murder”, even when it promises (falsely) to save a lot of lives. Either God is in control or he’s not.

            • Oregon Catholic

              No, the example was poor because you can’t equate conventional armed battle between navys with nuclear weapons.

              Just as I took exception before with your use of the word innocent, I take exception with your use of pre-emptive to mean unjustified offensive attack. I think pre-emptive in this case = defense.

              Of course God is in control, but I don’t believe He expects us to be passivists or to wait for really bad things to happen before we act. I don’t think the rules we use for our actions one-on-one (re: killing innocents) can be applied identically across the board nation-to-nation or nation-to-terrorist. Proportionality matters and I do think killing pre-emptively with the intent to prevent the death of many, many more can be just.

              • Oregon Catholic

                I amend my last sentence to say “killing pre-emptively when capture is not possible….”

              • Mark Shea

                Great. Present your evidence that this man deserved to be executed by the Court of Assassins on Motorcycles. Real evidence, I mean. Not “I read somewhere he may have been working on a bomb”. And do be aware that every thing you present will be equally true of the researchers in Los Alamos. Shall I execute a few the next time I’m there.

                Listen to yourself.

                • Oregon Catholic

                  If we were a gov’t that called for the annihilation of Israel because we hated Jews and were developing a nuclear bomb virtually in Israel’s front yard then I would say Israel would have a moral right to assassinate our gov’t nuclear scientists. And no, I don’t see a parallel with bin Laden and 9/11. He was not a sovereign nation with citizens to protect. He was a terrorist with a personal agenda.

                  Again you assume innocence without fact as well. I will leave the specific morality of this situation on the shoulders of the assassins. I have been arguing principles since neither you nor I are likely to ever know the facts.

                  I appreciate the discussion on the blog. It has given me food for thought but I’m done weighing in. God Bless.

                  • Mark Shea

                    Again you assume innocence without fact as well.

                    Yes. I do. This is called “being civilized”.

      • David Davies

        Mark. Iran, constituted as the Islamic Republic, has been at war with the U.S. since 1979. The attack on our embassy. The attack on the Marine Barracks in Beirut. All the explosive penetrators they furnished to our enemies in Iraq.
        Why are you not convinced that they consider themselves at war with us?

        Was the U.S. at war with Japan in the hours between Pearl Harbor and Rooselvelt’s speech to Congress asking for a Declaration of War? The Declaration is merely the formal recognition of a fact. The act of war is what makes a war, not the declaration.

        Now, none of this is to say we should nuke Iran, or invade, etc., etc. But before good policy can be formed reality must be recognized.

        • Mark Shea

          Then we are at war with Egypt? And the various soldiers trained at the School of the Americas fighting in various countries around the world mean we are at war with those countries?

          I have this notion that the constitution does not have “penumbras” for being at war, any more than it has penumbras for abortion. There’s been do declaration of war. There’s not even a presidential “kinetic action” declaration. And, in any case, the murder victim was a civilian. You are defending murder. Stop it and repent.

        • Christian Ohnimus

          Actually by your logic David Davies it would be more accurate to state that we’ve been at war with Iran since 1953 when, under operation Ajax, our CIA instigated a coup and overthrew Iran’s nascent democracy, replacing it with the dictatorship of the (conveniently pro-american) Shah. While the attack on our embassy was wrong, it was carried out in response to our own covert operations sabotaging Iran and, additionally, was based on suspicions that the CIA were attempting another coup, which they were (it failed). This also would make us the aggressors and qualify this so-called “war” as an unjust war for the United States (the initial operation Ajax had to do with control of oil, not national defense). Its no wonder Iran hates us so much. If we would simply adhere to Catholic moral teaching in our relations with Iran then maybe in several decades we would be able to heal the wounds between our two nations.

          Regardless, as Mark Shea already pointed out, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was a civilian so even if we were actually at war with Iran its still murder and a mortal sin.

    • Dan C

      When the liberals act defiantly and disobediently, they are generally flagrant about such matters. They do not pretend get all wishy-washy on it.

      There is something more respectable about that than the “What is torture?” and “Who knows if this act is REALLY immoral?” and the now over-used emblem of deiance “prudential judgement.”

      • MM

        Given all the attacks you’ve made on conservatives in this blog, I don’t think you mean to insult your own side. You say that flagrant defiance by liberals is more respectable than being wishy-washy – to me it seems like more like a lack of well-formed conscience.
        Not sure I find this repsectable:

        • SKay

          Thanks for this link,MM. Interesting.
          Admitted communist and former member of the Obama administration, Van Jones, said that they will use OWS to cause unrest in order to help get Obama re-elected. That is what it has been about all along anyway.
          The pictures certainly show a lot of his fellow travelers and Obama voters.

          • Mark Shea

            They will also likely use war with Iran to solidify support behind them. Enthusiasts for murder on the right will be flummoxed by that since, as their zeal for Santorum illustrates, they are all for it too. Not every deluded utopian is in the Occupy movement.

        • Dan C

          I am openly critical about liberals. They are defiant about authority and too blind to know they have the most radically left Pope in centuries, including John 23.

          You’ve just never asked.

  • Dale Price

    We came within a hairsbreadth of nuclear war at least twice despite having a modus vivendi, hotlines, numerous backdoor lines of contact and the like with the Soviets. I don’t think any of us really understand the mindset of Persian Shiite mullahs, nor the complex morass of competing powers within the Islamic Republic.

    And any analysis of Iranian politics that fails to mention the Revolutionary Guard isn’t worth the time it took to enter the pixels. As in the Revolutionary Guards captured in Iraq training Iraqi insurgents to butcher people. Not to mention manufacturing and sending IEDs to Iraq to kill our troops. Technically at war with us? No–but certainly hostile and happy to kill us by proxy.

    In addition, the fact is, there are plenty of examples of eliminationist rhetoric boiling up from governmental figures in Iran. Juan Cole leaping on one hasty translation is reminiscent of the old joke about a Jesuit accused of murdering three men and a dog–the Jesuit demanded that the charge be dismissed after walking in with a live dog.

    I’d prefer their nuclear weapons program remain a hypothetical, broken by sanctions and Stuxnet, but a war between Iran and Israel is pretty well inevitable. Pray God it doesn’t involve mushroom clouds.

    • Dave G.

      That was one of the best takes on this whole issue I’ve read in recent days. Well said.

    • Franciscan

      I’m not convinced that all-out war is inevitable between Iran and Israel. I can imagine a few plausible scenarios short of that extreme. But I agree with the rest of what you wrote.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      Thinking the majority of Iranians believe and support the rhetoric of their leaders is no different than believing the majority of Americans believe the rhetoric and majority of our leaders.

      A war between Iran and Israel is a danger, but it is no more “inevitable” than a war between Russia and the U.S. And the incessant saber-rattling does no one any good.

      • Dale Price

        I double-checked, and I didn’t say anything about the Iranian people, whom I admire. They also, sadly, don’t figure a lot into the equation.

        An Iran-Israel clash is much, much more likely than a Russian/U.S. conflict. There are minimal lines of contact and communication between the former. The hotlines, diplomatic connections and so forth between the U.S. and Russia are still intact.

        I also fail to see where I rattled any sabers, but I freely confess that reader-response criticism is not one of my specialties.

        • Mark S (not for Shea)

          “I didn’t say anything about the Iranian people, whom I admire. They also, sadly, don’t figure a lot into the equation.”

          Really? Tell that to Qaddafi of Libya. Or Mubarak or Egypt. Or Ben Ali of Tunisia. Or President Assad in Syria.

          I’m not implying that Iran is on the verge of revolution. But the people of Iran CERTAINLY figure in to the future of the nation — and would be drastically affected by war.

          “An Iran-Israel clash is much, much more likely than a Russian/U.S. conflict.”

          I agree. I just don’t agree that war with Iran is inevitable. Or justified.

          “I also fail to see where I rattled any sabers:

          You didn’t, and if I implied as much, I apologize. But there is certainly a lot of saber-rattling going on in the media and the right wing at the moment.

          • Dale Price

            And please permit me to clarify, too: the Iranian people matter because they are people–as do the Syrians and Libyans. But it is telling that where the tyrants are determined to hold on and use force, they remain in power–e.g., Syria and Iran. The same would have happened in Libya but for our intervention (about which I have misgivings, despite the viciousness of Qaddafi).

            If it comes down to Israel v. Iran, our view of what is justified is irrelevant. Even Ron Paul acknowledged as much in his interview with the Jerusalem Post.

      • Dave G.

        That would be silly, because the vast majority of post-Watergate Americans will believe almost any other person or leader in the world before we’ll believe our own. Likewise, we’ll assume the worst in our own leaders and believe the best in any one else. Sort of a strange twist on the old proverb, US style: a stranger before my cousin, my cousing before my brother.

    • Dan C

      Mullahs are easy to understand-they function as base humans like anybody else, seeking power, security, and wealth. Pretending they are an alien species is foolish.

      • Dale Price

        That’s a shockingly reductionist and secular view of human motivation, “What’s The Matter With Kansas” gone global.

  • dpt

    “Ahmadinejad is more like the Joe Biden of Iran ”


  • Lisa

    “pre-emptive war is not in the Catechism”

    Exactly. It is not mentioned.

    Mark stated that the US would be justified in shooting the Japanese fleet if we were fired upon first. Well, that’s not a bad starting point for adolescents, “Never throw the first punch.” Unfortunately, this simple rule cannot be extrapolated to modern situations involving dangerous arms. For example, a police officer is trained, rightly so, to fire his weapon immediately in the presence of an armed perpetrator and not to wait to be fired upon. Similarly, in my opinion, the US Navy would have been justified in firing upon Japanese carriers steaming toward Pearl Harbor. It is surprising that Mark Shea cannot assert this position with confidence in his own moral footing. Maybe he was simply typing too fast.

    • Mark Shea

      “No Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.” – Uncle Andrew

      “You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great Queen such as I. The weight of the world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny.” – The Empress Jadis

      Yes. Well. Back in the real world on non-alternative history, we are talking about murdering people driving to work in their cars. A police officer who drives past a car on his motorcycle and places a sticky bomb on it, blowing up all the civilian occupants of a car is not practicing self defense, but murder in the first degree.

      • Timbot2000

        Well Mark, the powers that be can have only one remedy for this ethical dissonance: Allow the police to do just that! (coming to your town soon!)

    • Dan C

      The notion that pre-emptive war is not in the catechism is a line from then-CDF head Joseph Ratzinger who failed to find common cause with the neocon movement to war with Iraq. Both moral assessments and official diplomatic gestures were undertaken to dissuade the US from war.

      Popes have failed to support either Iraq War and have been openly ignored by neocons.

      You are deluding yourself if you think you are “thinking with the Church.”

  • Tony

    In terms of per capita spending, Iran is dead last in the gulf region. Nuclear weapons aren’t a concern, either, as U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran has halted its program.

    Mark, you need to check your facts a little more carefully. The link to these “US intelligence agencies” conclusion is an LA Times story from 2007. That’s 4 years ago, a long time. Much more recently (Nov 2011), the NY Times and the UN weapons inspectors have said quite the opposite: that there is plenty of activity that only makes sense in terms of weapons. Try this link.

    That still doesn’t mean it is an imminent threat. And they (the experts) STILL might not have the right take on the information. But the data itself isn’t non-existent, and the interpretation by the UN and reported by the NY Times is hardly from a totally rabid, biased source. But it doesn’t help to spout 4-year old outdated conclusions as the basis for rational estimates today.

    • Lisa

      90% of the effort in making a nuke is in the enrichment process. I believe O-bomb-a will stop Iran BEFORE it has fissionable material. Once Iran has fissionable uranium, it’s too late to act. I realize that the pre-nuclear just war thoery stresses the concept if imminence. We need to think what the word imminence means in today’s nuclear age – it’s more like a decade than a day. Unfortunately, we blew it with North Korea and Pakistan, and I believe that Obama will not repeat that mistake with the Persian heritics. InTrade puts the likelyhood of a strike against Iran at 26%. I would put it graeter than 50%.

    • Christian Ohnimus

      The report you cite is currently under a firestorm of controversy over its authenticity. Apparently it lacks such elementary items as “dates” and “sources”. Thus, the report is really faulty evidence at best. Meanwhile, every investigation by the IAEA between 2003 and this report has found zero evidence of uranium enrichment beyond the 3% needed to produce electricity. Additionally, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director (thus at the top of the American intelligence food chain) flat-out stated that Iran does NOT have a nuclear weapons program. You can find the news article here:
      And note the time stamp: January 9th. So his statement is in no way antiquated.

    • Christian Ohnimus

      The report you cite is currently under a firestorm of controversy concerning its authenticity – making it faulty evidence at best. You can read the allegations yourself here:

      Additionally, the Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director (aka the man at the top of the foreign intelligence food chain) Leon Panetta flat-out stated last week that Iran is NOT building a nuclear weapon. Read it here:

      • SKay

        From wikipedia–
        “Fars News Agency (FNA) is a news agency in Iran. While it describes itself as “Iran’s leading independent news agency”,[1] news organizations such as CNN[2] and Reuters[3] describe it as a “semi-official” news agency with ties to the government. The Wall Street Journal has stated the agency is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps.[4]”

        Their point of view is not surprising.

        • SKay

          Panetta said–

          “I think the pressure of the sanctions, the diplomatic pressures from everywhere, Europe, the United States, elsewhere, it’s working to put pressure on them, to make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing. Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

          Iran is trying to develope a nuclear capability.
          They(Panette etc)know what the next step is likely to be by Iran since it is a state sponsor of terrorism.

          • Christian Ohnimus

            FNA is not the only news outlet reporting it. Do a google search there are plenty of American sources as well. More importantly, Robert Kelley, the former director of the IAEA discrediting the report is in no way affiliated with Iran but a part of the very UN/IAEA complex that he is criticizing here.

            Secondly, while Leon Panetta is entitled to his concern of Iran’s nuclear capability, he Iran has every right to peaceful use of nuclear technology under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has upheld its obligations under the treaty. Thus, Panetta’s only relevant statement is on whether or not Iran is pursuing weaponization which he openly admits they are not.

            Iran ‘s need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran ‘s population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed over twenty nuclear reactors. With Iran ‘s population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country. This isn’t just about the supposedly irrational Iran ruling elite but the livelihood of millions of human beings who just so happen to be Iranians.

            • Dale Price

              “With Iran ‘s population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now.”

              That’s a reasonable point about not wanting to be dependent on oil, but Iran’s fertility rate is now solidly below replacement, and the country is at the peak of its population right now. Momentum will cause it to move up for a little while, but not for long.

              • Christian Ohnimus

                You make a good point about Iran’s fertility rate – I wasn’t aware it had dropped so low. However, I think US pressure to keep Iran from nuclear power is somewhat draconian when it means forcing 70 million people to rely on fast-depleting, nonrenewable oil for their livelihood.