Avoiding the always-disastrous last resort of war

Juan Cole shares a guest post from Thomas J. Buonomo that I want to recommend as smart, wise and good.

Buonomo suggests a promising alternative approach to the current situation between the United States and Iran. And, more broadly, Buonomo demonstrates the kind of creativity and wisdom that ought to inform our thinking in general about foreign policy and defense.

To avoid War, Obama Should Offer Iran Renewable Energy Aid” Buonomo writes. First he outlines the situation that has led to escalating tension, bringing us closer to the possibility of war:

As Iran proceeds ahead with its nuclear program, its tensions with the United States continue to heighten over concerns that it is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

Israelis view a nuclear‐armed Iran as an existential threat and U.S. officials are rightly concerned that nuclear weapons would give Iran coercive power over Iraq and its Arab Gulf neighbors, which are critical energy suppliers to the U.S. and its allies.

One of Iran’s ostensible reasons for wanting to develop a nuclear program is to transition to an alternative source of electricity for domestic consumption. This would purportedly free up oil and natural gas reserves for export at a higher price on the global market rather than remaining allocated to Iran’s highly subsidized domestic market. …

Buonomo then offers a way forward that offers hope for resolution without conflict:

Considering the doubtful prospect of an effective sanctions regime and the unpredictable consequences of a military strike or covert action, the Obama administration should consider offering the Iranian government an opportunity for rapprochement in the form of renewable energy technology and financial incentives to help it achieve its ostensible goals.

Iran has abundant geothermal, solar, hydroelectric and wind energy resources that could help it meet its domestic electricity demand without presenting an inherent threat to the international community. This would require substantial investment but Iranian leaders might be prepared to consider such an alternative if the U.S. and other UN Security Council states were prepared to offer it attractive financing options.

Such an initiative would demonstrate to Iran that the United States acknowledges its legitimate energy and national security interests and is willing to take meaningful steps to support its peaceful aspirations and integration into the international community in return for its abandonment of its nuclear program.

And, finally, Buonomo considers possible objections to this proposal:

… Detractors will claim that this would constitute appeasement of a hostile regime but if a carrot‐based approach fails the United States will have lost nothing. On the contrary, it will have strengthened its diplomatic position against the Iranian government, enabling it to build support for a more coercive approach.

Given the stakes, it is imperative to exhaust all options while there is still time.

That last phrase — “exhaust all options” — echoes an essential component of the just war tradition, that of “last resort.”

The use of force — war — is never justifiable unless it is the last resort. The exhaustion of all other options is a prerequisite for the use of force.

That means, among other things, that everything one can imagine must be attempted before resort to the use of force. And that, in turn, means that the final resort of force is always an indication of the failure to find or to seek other possible approaches. That failure may be a failure of imagination, or a failure of courage, or of analysis, or of intelligence — an inability or an unwillingness to think without being constrained by a limiting militarized perspective that, as the saying goes, has only a hammer and thus can’t see anything but nails.

This prerequisite of “last resort” is often sorely abused by those whose only reference to the just war tradition is as a fig leaf to rationalize whatever course they previously preferred to take. When that approach is taken, the exhaustion of all other options becomes a goal in and of itself, with those options considered only so that they can be dismissed and, therefore, be said to have been exhausted as a rationale for the preferred course of war.

Buonomo’s point is not that lawyerly and disingenuous. When he says “it is imperative to exhaust all options” his goal seems to be to find options, not to meet the technical requirement of exhaustion. He is seeking and hoping to find some other option that works — some other resort by which the failure and disaster of war can be avoided and averted.

In any case, his contribution here is to extend the list of “all options” — to add another resort that can, and therefore must, be attempted before the last resort of force can be regarded as justifiable.

This is something that can be tried. If it is not tried then we have not exhausted all options and have not reached the last resort. And if we have not reached the last resort, then the use of force is not justified.

Beyond that imperative, Buonomo’s suggestion has much to recommend it.

At the most basic level: War is a Bad Thing. Finding a way to avoid war is a Good Thing. War is always unpredictable and costly in terms of blood and treasure. Avoiding war avoids that cost. People die in wars — civilians, children, soldiers. Preventing war prevents their deaths. The particular potential war we’re discussing here — conflict with Iran — would also almost certainly lead to spikes in energy prices that would push the global economy back into deep recession. Avoiding this conflict could avoid that as well.

Less urgently, Buonomo’s suggestion also would help to promote cleaner, renewable energy. Renewable energy tends to be decentralized and subject to a greater level of local control, and that in turn could help to nurture and encourage the democratic aspects of Iranian society.

One objection might be that such a course could be viewed as rewarding bad behavior, creating an incentive for other countries to follow Iran’s example by pursuing nuclear weapons capability to leverage international assistance. (North Korea has been doing the same thing for decades now.)

Well, OK. Let’s say that happens. Imagine that, per Buonomo, the U.S. and the international community offer Iran “attractive financing options” and other technical and financial support to assist Iran to develop sustainable and renewable energy, and that in exchange for that assistance Iran renounces any pursuit of nuclear weapons and welcomes verification from international inspectors.

And then, seeing Iran thus rewarded, let’s say that every hostile, unruly, rogue or bellicose nation decides to do exactly the same thing, thereby forcing us to deal with them in the same way. The cost to the U.S. and to the rest of the international community would still be far less than the cost of invading any single one of those countries. But what would be the outcome? Every hostile, unruly, rogue or bellicose nation would have renounced the pursuit of nuclear weapons, welcoming verification from inspectors, while at the same time the world will be much further along the necessary path toward renewable and sustainable energy.

If that’s what happens when we reward bad behavior in this way, then by all means let’s hurry up and reward some bad behavior.

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  • Ursula L

    There is another issue that is almost always overlooked when the US considers foreign policy regarding nuclear weapons.

    The US has a huge number of nuclear weapons, and already has immense coercive power as a result of controlling such a massive stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.  And the US is the only nation in the world that has actually demonstrated a willingness to use nuclear weapons.

    So when the US starts making a fuss about the threat of other nations having the coercive power of nuclear weapons, it comes across, at best, as being massively hypocritical.    

    What options do other nations have to protect themselves from US aggression, either political or military?  Iraq didn’t have WMD, and the US used the (false) speculation that they were developing WMD to “justify” invasion.  North Korea actually developed nuclear capabilities, and it still retains its autonomy, despite the US branding it part of an “axis of evil.”  

    If the US doesn’t want other nations to develop nuclear weapons, then we need to be sure that nuclear weapons aren’t the only sure protection that a nation can have from the US.  

    ***

    In addition, we need to consider that nuclear weapons are no longer cutting-edge high-tech.  They’re a technology that is nearly 70 years old.  

    Expecting the rest of the world to stall a portion of their technical development at the level of 1940, indefinitely, is unreasonable and unrealistic.  The basic concepts of how a nuclear weapon works were in my (US) high school physics textbook, and if the theory can be taught in high school physics, sorting out the classified details of implementation isn’t something that we can expect to prevent. 

    Any workable policy needs to recognize that nuclear weapons are a mature technology.  Keeping them for our exclusive use is getting closer and closer to trying to keep gunpowder as our exclusive weapon.  

  • Anonymous

    See, I don’t think this has to be an Iraq war situation. Saddam was still a popular leader among wide swaths of his people. But most of the Iranians, especially the Iranian youth, hate the Ayatollah. So send in some Delta guys, drop Khamenei and Ahmadinejad out of a helicopter over downtown Tehran along with some leaflets saying “Go Green revolution!”  Give ’em some guns, too, and let nature take its course.  

    The deal we cut for whacking their dictators and arming them? “Hey guys, don’t nuke up, ok?”

    It’s been clear that millions of people living under brutal dictatorships run by people who hate us, no longer want to be under the brutal dictatorships. I don’t know why every Syrian and Iranian protester wasn’t waving an M-16 stamped “Made in Detroit” in big letters. At worst?  Some new dictator pops up, and we get a few years of peace while they sort out power.  At best? The people in charge love us for helping them out, and we get more years of peace and good oil deals. 

  • Ursula L

    Disliking one’s own government is in no way the same as welcoming invasion and occupation by another nation for the purpose of regime change.  One may not like one’s own government, but it is still yours.

    A great many Slacktivist readers disliked GWB.  We saw him breaking the law, trampling on human rights, and making the US a weaker nation, one that could no longer be seen as a moral leader in the world.

    But very few people here would have welcomed another nation intervening militarily, or with economic sanctions, in order to have forced GWB out of power before the end of his term. Even the Canadians, a nation that has a long history of strong ties with the US, that has a powerful democratic tradition, and that many people admire, would not have been welcomed as liberators if they’d decided  to challenge GWB’s control of the US.  

    Likewise, very few of even the most vocal Faux News followers who despise Obama would welcome foreign intervention to get rid of him.  

    “I don’t like my government” is a believe that has little overlap with “I want the US to intervene to change my government.”

  • FangsFirst

    Likewise, very few of even the most vocal Faux News followers who despise Obama would welcome foreign intervention to get rid of him. 

    While I agree with the sentiment, I think that this reflects more on the anti-all-foreigner stance those most vocal folks have, than their disinterest in violent revolution…

  • Anonymous

    I for one would welcome our Canadian liberators, I assume they would be quite polite… ;)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    :P

    In all seriousness, I think that being such a small country (psychologically) next to the USA has really forced Canadians to carefully consider how their country ought to be perceived on the world stage. Do we want to be seen as holding the bully’s coat, or do we want to be seen as largely a competent, circumspect nation capable of doing our own thing without antagonizing major players elsewhere?

    There is a reason why Canadians normally get a good reception overseas and why we need to be concerned that Stephen Harper is endangering it.

  • Anonymous

    :) I see that… I’m a complete Canadophile, I live in Ohio and my family has been vacationing in ontario since  I was a youngun.

  • Ursula L

    I for one would welcome our Canadian liberators,

    As would I.  I certainly spend enough money subsidizing their advance supply stations.

  • Emptyheavens1989

    Because that stradegy worked so weel when we helped Castro overthrow the previous regime…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    At worst? Some new dictator pops up, and we get a few years of peace while they sort out power.

    At worst? Large numbers of people who aren’t caryjamesbond die violently.

    Would you enjoy some dude on the internet blythely proposing starting a bloody civil war in your neighbourhood because they have a gun fetish?

  • P J Evans

    Try looking at it as if some other country was doing that to us.
    Would it make you favorably disposed to that other country?

  • fraser

    They’ll welcome us as liberators! Wait, I think I’ve heard that before …

  • Alicia

    See, I don’t think this has to be an Iraq war situation. Saddam
    was still a popular leader among wide swaths of his people. But most of
    the Iranians, especially the Iranian youth, hate the Ayatollah. So send
    in some Delta guys, drop Khamenei and Ahmadinejad out of a helicopter
    over downtown Tehran along with some leaflets saying “Go Green
    revolution!”  Give ’em some guns, too, and let nature take its course. 

    Wow, that’s amazing.

    I… guess you don’t really have a clue how Iran really works, do you?

  • Lori

     
    I… guess you don’t really have a clue how Iran really works, do you? 

      

    When I was in grad school we went through this with Iran and Libya. Taking a hard line on support for terrorists groups (more or less) worked with Libya and many people could not see why that didn’t prove that it could also work with Iran. Oy. Iran’s power structure is nothing like Libya’s (or Iraq’s) was.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I simplified it some, to avoid it being ten or twenty paragraphs.  

    More or less- remove the religious dictators down far enough that whoever is left has no name recognition. (If you whacked GWB, everyone still knows who Cheney was, and  the military would follow him. If you get the chain of command down to “some unknown cabinet secretary/senator” you would have a lot more schisms within the military, in particular.)

    Drop some bombs on the more competent/loyal military commanders. Try to set up a few different insurrections within the military, so they start fighting each other instead of the protesters.

    Meanwhile, arm the people who hate the government.  There’s been plenty of street fighting in their protests already, so I’m gonna guess that there are at least some of the protesters who would welcome a chance to fight. Add to that the fact that the Libyan revolution was a spectacular success, and you could probably encourage a full scale insurrection.

    But very few people here would have welcomed another nation intervening militarily, or with economic sanctions, in order to have forced GWB out of power before the end of his term. Even the Canadians, a nation that has a long history of strong ties with the US, that has a powerful democratic tradition, and that many people admire, would not have been welcomed as liberators if they’d decided  to challenge GWB’s control of the US.  

    Right. Because living in a country with democratically elected leaders, and the ability to protest, write, or speak about it, when you know that in four years you’ll have a shot to completely change the leaders, and every 2 years you can change the commanding party….yeah, thats EXACTLY the same as living under a brutal theocracy where they stone people to death for adultery.

    And we’ve been on the receiving end of just such help before- see France during the American revolution. People hate invaders, but they love the countries that help their own revolutions along.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Right. Because living in a country with democratically elected
    leaders, and the ability to protest, write, or speak about it, when you
    know that in four years you’ll have a shot to completely change the
    leaders, and every 2 years you can change the commanding party….yeah,
    thats EXACTLY the same as living under a brutal theocracy where they
    stone people to death for adultery.

    Which is why the US military was welcomed so warmly by the people of Iraq.

    And who comes into a thread about avoiding war and ADVOCATES WAR???

  • Ursula L

    Right. Because living in a country with democratically elected leaders, and the ability to protest, write, or speak about it, when you know that in four years you’ll have a shot to completely change the leaders, and every 2 years you can change the commanding party….yeah, thats EXACTLY the same as living under a brutal theocracy where they stone people to death for adultery.

    Bush won the 2000 election by having the Florida secretary of state, who was appointed by his brother, certify the vote without taking the time for a careful recount,  and having that upheld by a US Supreme court where the majority of justices were either appointed either by his father or while his father was vice-president.

    That’s hardly an example of representative democracy at its best.  

  • hapax

    So, caryjamesbond:

    Exactly how many people do you want to kill in your effort to avoid killing people?

  • fraser

    No, this is more like France invading England during the British Civil War. Or invading and occupying the South to free the slaves.

  • Anonymous

    Guys, this is basically “Imperialism 101.”  Make the natives fight each other, instead of you.  

    Now, I see this as a chance to use these tactics for good. Instead of using this as a chance to take over, we arm the pro-democracy, pro-being free crowd, and then do a little bit of decent nation building afterwards. Democratic revolutions are GOOD, and should be encouraged. 

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Democratic revolutions are GOOD, and should be encouraged.

    And they work so well when the government isn’t lying when they blame the troubles on foreign provocateurs.

  • Anonymous

    Um…the very fact that you can use the phrase “Imperialism 101” to describe your strategy should tell you something.

  • P J Evans

     I’d recommend Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan, to see just how big a mess Bush dropped us in.

  • Lori

    There is actual risk in Buonomo’s suggestion, but it isn’t in rewarding bad behavior. The risk lies here: “One of Iran’s ostensible reasons for wanting to develop a nuclear program”

    Iran absolutely does have domestic energy issues that it needs to address and it behooves the rest of the world to understand and respect that. IMO one of the consistent failings in international relations is being unable or unwilling to recognize that other countries have national interests. That is definitely true of US foreign policy, but pretty much everyone else does it too. I can’t think of any major nation whose foreign policy is not driven to a tremendous degree by domestic politics, and yet the tendency is to think that international relations is all about “sending a message” to X & so other nation(s). 

    The issue in this case is that energy security is not the only issue Iran is dealing with and it is not the only motivation for their nuclear program. The pursuit of nuclear power is also a feeder to/cover for development of nuclear weapons technology. Offering to address the energy issue would have the effect of laying bare the lie that energy is the only issue. That in turn could make Iran feel more pressured rather than less. That is in no small part because they are likely to see any offers of energy assistance as being primary aimed at making them out to be liars rather than actually helping with their energy concerns. If we put them on the spot it may ratchet tensions up, rather than defusing them. 

    I think that Buonomo’s suggested course is worth perusing, but it has to be done very carefully. The transfer of alternative energy technology is likely to better used as a way to get the Iranians talking to us than as a direct means of getting them to abandon their nuclear program. That’s huge, because it’s the talking that can allow us to avoid war, but people need to have realistic expectations. 

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    “The issue in this case is that energy security is not the only issue
    Iran is dealing with and it is not the only motivation for their nuclear
    program. The pursuit of nuclear power is also a feeder to/cover for
    development of nuclear weapons technology. Offering to address the
    energy issue would have the effect of laying bare the lie that energy is
    the only issue. That in turn could make Iran feel more pressured rather
    than less. That is in no small part because they are likely to see any
    offers of energy assistance as being primary aimed at making them out to
    be liars rather than actually helping with their energy concerns. If we
    put them on the spot it may ratchet tensions up, rather than defusing
    them.”

    My first thought in reading Buonomo’s idea was basically, “Even if Iran *isn’t* lying about why they want nuclear power, they’re totally going to interpret this sort of thing as calling a bluff. It’s exactly how *I* would expose someone I believed was bullshitting me. And nobody likes to be called a liar.”

  • P J Evans

    I’ve heard that Iran is not currently – or even in the near future – capable of enriching uranium to the point where they could build a bomb with it. I don’t know if that’s strictly true, but Buonomo’s argument on why Iran is doing it sounds about right to me. (I’ve had the exact same thought, and I’m neither an economist nor a political scientist.)

  • Lori

     
    I’ve heard that Iran is not currently – or even in the near future – capable of enriching uranium to the point where they could build a bomb with it  

      

    Estimates of how far along they are with their program vary wildly. Accurate information is obviously hard to come by and you have the added complication that many of the estimators have a vested interest in making it seem that an Iranian bomb is going to happen any day now while others have a vested interest in making it seem like it will never happen. Another issue is the question of exactly where Iran is getting their nuclear tech and who is helping them. Different resources would produce quite different timelines. 

  • Anonymous

    Which is why the US military was welcomed so warmly by the people of Iraq. 

    *sigh* I specifically said “This doesn’t have to be an Iraq war situation.” 

    Iraq was a bad idea NOT because killing Saddam was bad, and NOT because spreading democracy was bad, but because we did it STUPIDLY.  

    What we should’ve done was armed the Kurds and supported them with air power, as well as supporting Shia revolutionaries in the south. Instead, we put American soldiers on every streetcorner, and somehow managed to make both the Sunni and the Shia hate our living guts. To the point where they were willing to work together to kill us.

    INVASIONS are massively unpopular with the invaded people.  MILITARY SUPPORT is usually pretty popular with the supported people. Again, see the American or Libyan revolutions. Heck, even the Afghans didn’t really hate us that much until recently, at least partially because we helped them out.

     I’m not suggesting rolling tanks into Tehran. I’m suggesting giving material support to democratic revolutionaries living under a brutal anti-American dictatorship. Might it backfire? Possibly. It did to a certain degree in Afghanistan, although that’s really much, much more complicated than the whole “The CIA TRAINED BIN LADEN” thing that you hear about. To be honest, Bin Laden was gonna start Al-Qaeda anyway, at worst, we just helped him get some contacts. 

    And why am I advocating violence? Because here’s what happens when Tehran gets The Bomb. Tel Aviv goes by-bye.  Followed immediately by Tehran and several other Iranian cities going by-bye.  And then, if we are exceedingly lucky on a SPECIES wide basis, the first ever nuclear exchange doesn’t turn into the first (and last) nuclear war.  If we’re unlucky, some Soviet-era computer misreads the trajectory of Israel’s ICBM counterstrike, and we all go up in a puff of smoke. 

    So, yeah. We can help the Iranian government, one of the nastiest and most anti-American dictatorships on the planet in the hopes they’ll stop proliferating nuclear weapons. Or we can help a *hopefully* democratic revolution, and cut a deal with them.

  • hapax

    And why am I advocating violence? Because here’s what happens when
    Tehran gets The Bomb. Tel Aviv goes by-bye.  Followed immediately by
    Tehran and several other Iranian cities going by-bye.

    Ah, I get it.  Just like our invasion of North Korea — despite the regrettable collateral death of thousands — at least prevented the inevitable destruction of Seoul, followed by the obliteration of Pyongyang, and then Beijing set off their nukes.  Good times, good times…

    Once again, how many people are you willing to directly kill in order to avoid your hypothetical scenario?  And what evidence do you have that talking first might not have worked as well?

    (Except, of course, “Brown people Islamofascisterrorists Teh Mullahs cannot be trusted with bombs!”)

  • hapax

    We can help the Iranian government, one of the nastiest and most
    anti-American dictatorships on the planet in the hopes they’ll stop
    proliferating nuclear weapons. Or we can help a *hopefully* democratic
    revolution, and cut a deal with them.

    ‘Cause that worked out so well for us in 1953?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So to you the difference between a bad war (Iraq) and a huge success (Libya) is how people feel about America afterwards?

    You need a better measure. We in notAmerica have lives that are just as valuable as yours.

  • fraser

    No, it doesn’t automatically follow that Tel Aviv or anywhere else goes boom. The iranians aren’t suicidal and they know that’s what happens if they drop a nuke first.
    But of course, we can’t wait for proof of their intentions to be a smoking mushroom cloud … yeah, that’s familiar too.

  • Alicia

    Now, I see
    this as a chance to use these tactics for good. Instead of using this
    as a chance to take over, we arm the pro-democracy, pro-being free
    crowd, and then do a little bit of decent nation building afterwards.
    Democratic revolutions are GOOD, and should be encouraged.

    How do you identify who the pro-democracy people are?

    It sounds like you’ve decided — based on no evidence that I can see — that you’ve divided the whole Iranian populace between democrats and autocrats. You have decided that the complicated web that makes up Iranian government doesn’t matter. You don’t even mention any ethnic groups (Persians, Azeris, Baluchi) or what would happen to religious minorities like the Jews and the Zoroastrians if the current regime and its legal protections for them were to fall and be replaced by whoever happens to have the most bullets.

    Your idea is just as reckless and thoughtless as what we did to Iraq.

    When I was
    in grad school we went through this with Iran and Libya. Taking a hard
    line on support for terrorists groups (more or less) worked with Libya
    and many people could not see why that didn’t prove that it could also
    work with Iran. Oy. Iran’s power structure is nothing like Libya’s (or
    Iraq’s) was.

    I think some people just see all of MENA as just some big, fungible blob. Iran is the same as Iraq is the same as Libya is the same as Syria is the same as Egypt is the same Afghanistan. Unlike us, they’re not complicated countries and fixing them would be about as easy as beating the boss monster (Qaddafi, Khamanei, etc.) in the last stage of a video game.

    Yikes.

  • Lori

     
    I think some people just see all of MENA as just some big, fungible blob. Iran is the same as Iraq is the same as Libya is the same as Syria is the same as Egypt is the same Afghanistan. Unlike us, they’re not complicated countries and fixing them would be about as easy as beating the boss monster (Qaddafi, Khamanei, etc.) in the last stage of a video game.  

     

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this. 

    The other problem is that at the same time people see these countries and uniform and not complex they also see them as irrational. The do things because they’re evil, not because they have national interests. 

    I don’t want to create the impression that there are bad governments which do terrible things, but there’s a difference between being despotic and being irrational. Even the regimes that do the worst things are generally following some recognizable interest, as opposed to simply doing terrible things for the sake of doing terrible things. Understanding those interests is not the same thing as agreeing with them or with the means used to achieve them and I think a lot of folks really don’t get that. 

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    caryjames – “But most of the Iranians, especially the Iranian youth, hate the Ayatollah. ”

    that’s not true. the cities are relatively secualr but that’s the same all over the world. ahmedenajad is very popular in the red state sort of places there.

    “At worst? Some new dictator pops up, and we get a few years of peace while they sort out power. At best? The people in charge love us for helping them out, and we get more years of peace and good oil deals.”

    not worth the risk.

    Does anyone honestly think iran is going to develop a nuclear bomb and launch it at the continental united states? they’d be vaporized beforew they even thuoght of it. this whole non issue is ridiculous and exactly like iraq. we’re broke and we’re talking about this? it’s insane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Europe offered Iran material for nuclear power plants and was rejected.  They want the possibility of nuclear weapons just in case a McCain or Perry gets into office.

  • Lori

      Europe offered Iran material for nuclear power plants and was rejected.  They want the possibility of nuclear weapons just in case a McCain or Perry gets into office. 

    They do want nuclear weapons, but it isn’t really about who’s in the White House. We honestly aren’t the center of Iran’s universe. We’re a useful enemy, but that’s really about domestic and regional politics, more than it is about us. 

    One of the things that Americans tend to forget is that most countries aren’t aiming to be the Big Cheese in the world. At any given time there are only a handful of countries that are trying to run a truly global foreign policy. Countries like Iran absolutely operate on the global stage and the US is a major issue for them, but their primary focus is on domestic and regional power. They want to run their own affairs and to be the Big Cheese in their neighborhood. They care about the US mostly because our national interests and global ambitions tend to result in us being very involved in their area of the world. That’s true regardless of what one thinks about the specifics of US foreign policy toward the Middle East in general or Iran in particular. 

  • Anonymous

    It is very useful to both the US and Iran to have the other as an enemy — as in Oceania vs. Eurasia. The rattling of sabers certainly helps Ahmedinijad to maintain and consolidate power, and there are similar politics at some level in the US. When smaller countries desire nuclear weapons, it is to a large extent about prestige. Their leaders want to be seen as global powers and peers to the superpower(s). Perhaps a better approach would be to offer them paths to prestige by beneficial action. Jimmy Carter (as ex-president) used to be very good at that.

    Too, it may help to point out that nuclear weapons aren’t really all that useful in and of themselves. They certainly haven’t helped Pakistan much, except possibly as a deterrent against India, but even then to actually use them is suicide. Being in possession of special weapons invites attack by them, or mistaken retaliation. If someone were to use a nuclear weapon in a terrorist attack against the US, we would likely shoot first and ask questions later.

    Persia, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt have been vying for power in the Middle East for thousands of years. There is no particular reason that any of their modern incarnations should not have an important role to play in global affairs. The problem should not be that Iran has an expanding sphere of influence, but that their current leaders are nuts.

  • Anonymous

    Why does everyone keep acting like I’m advocating an Iraq style invasion? I’m not, I’m advocating targeted assassinations in support of internal regime change.


    How do you identify who the pro-democracy people are? 

    Wait for the next protest.  Follow those guys home.  There you go! People who are so pro-democracy they’re willing to take to the streets in IRAN to protest for it.

    I mean, seriously, finding out who’s pro-democracy in Iran is the LEAST of our problems. They have twitter accounts FFS. 


    It sounds like you’ve decided — based on no evidence that I can see — that you’ve divided the whole Iranian populace between democrats and autocrats.

    Actually, no. I’m talking about identifying and supporting that fraction of the population that actively supports regime change to a democracy. Which is why I said “arm the protesters” not “arm every Iranian.”  Generally, I’m gonna guess that if you hate the Iranian government enough to take to the streets and be arrested, beaten, thrown into Iranian prisons, or even killed to protest for democracy, you might be willing to fight for it. 


    You don’t even mention any ethnic groups (Persians, Azeris, Baluchi) or what would happen to religious minorities like the Jews and the Zoroastrians if the current regime and its legal protections for them were to fall and be replaced by whoever happens to have the most bullets.  

    What, you want me to write a ten-page white paper for the state department here?  Hell, you explain what happens to every ethnic minority in Iran when the brutal dictatorship is strengthened by their control over the shiny new windfarms we built them.  

    And the people who would have the most bullets would be the ones we’re supplying. Which, in my plan, again, is the pro-democracy people.  Not the way it’d actually fall out if the CIA did it, I grant you, but hey. We’re talking ideal situations here. 

    (Except, of course, “Brown people Islamofascisterrorists Teh Mullahs cannot be trusted with bombs!”) 

    Actually, the thing that terrified me the most about Bush’s presidency was that he had his finger on the button.  Radical, apocalypse inclined religious nutjobs shouldn’t be allowed to have nukes.   Couldn’t do anything about Bush’s election, unfortunately. But you keep on calling everyone who disagrees with you a racist. That makes you sound real smart.

    Ultimately- I don’t have that much problem with violence as a solution to political problems. It’s highly effective when properly applied.  The key, like with any other dangerous substance, is applying it in small doses in the proper place.  You don’t bring down a building by putting twenty tons of TNT in the basement. You do it by carefully blowing out the right supports in the right places.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    Wait for the next protest.  Follow those guys home.  There you go! People who are so pro-democracy they’re willing to take to the streets in IRAN to protest for it.

    Yes, because of course in dangerous tyrannies like Iran it is trivially easy to follow people home and cozy up and become BFF.

    And because, of course, every single person who is out on the street protesting is in favour of an American-friendly sort of democracy.

    And because, of course, every single person who is out on the street can be presumed to be automatically pro-Israel and a supporter of the rights of women and people who are QUILTBAGS.

    Yeah, right. 

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    caryjames- go to shiachat.con forum sometime. many of them are young people and some are Iranian. they’ll let you know very clearly what they think of your ideas here. tell them lester sent you

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Wait for the next protest.  Follow those guys home.  There you go!
    People who are so pro-democracy they’re willing to take to the streets
    in IRAN to protest for it.

    You know who protested against the Shaw?  Khomeni and his followers.  Your theory would have had us support him!

    (Which we should have done, but not for the reasons cjb suggests.)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    shah
     

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Why does everyone keep acting like I’m advocating an Iraq style invasion?

    I’m not. I’m acting like you’re advocating murder. Which, despite all the euphamisms you’ve employed (arm, remove, “whack” (how cute), assassinate) is exactly what you’re doing.

    Fred wrote about one possible option that needs to be explored before the mass murder that we nicely call war can be considered. You’re asking why we don’t just go murder some people already?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suppose that technically, if the subject is “What options can we try that are less bad than mass-murder,” it’s *technically* true that “non-mass murder” is a valid thing to put on that list.

    I suppose that technically, “How about instead of a war, we just drop *one* bomb on them, and then go home” makes the list too.

  • monkeyox

    I guess, but if you’re stretching “non-mass murder” to include “facilitating a bloody civil war”….

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Dropping a bomb isn’t an act of war?

  • Ursula L

    Dropping a bomb isn’t an act of war?

    There is a tendency, with Americans to only consider things that America does “war” if it involves Americans getting killed.  Technology has developed to the point where the US can drop bombs pretty much anywhere without risk to the lives of Americans.  

    But if you’re measuring war in American lives rather than human lives, you’re being inhumane, and any opinions you have on war and its uses need to be discounted or dismissed due to your inhumanity. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    At some point, the rest of the world is going to get fed up with a US that thinks it can go about dropping bombs and going home again without consequences.

    Is going to? Waaaay ahead of you.

    The President was wrong. It’s not America’s freedom (sic) that people hate.

  • Ursula L

    Fed up? Certainly.

    What I’m curious about is when the rest of the world will become fed up to do something about it, and what that something may be.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Stephen Harper’s response has been to give away some Canadian sovereignty.

  • Ursula L

    Dropping a bomb is an act of war.

    Further, dropping a bomb is an act of aggressive war.  

    It’s unreasonable to expect that one can just drop one bomb and go home.  Because a nation that goes about dropping bombs needs to be stopped. 

    An international alliance, counterattack, overthrowing the government that thinks it’s okay to go about dropping bombs, occupation of the offending nation, forced disarmament and restructuring of the nation’s government so that the same offense can’t happen again — that’s a possible consequence of dropping a bomb, and for any nation except the US, it’s a high probability consequence.

    And it is, I think, wrong that the US is so powerful that we can consider the option of just dropping a bomb and going home, without any consequences to us.  Really, no nation should be that powerful.  

    At some point, the rest of the world is going to get fed up with a US that thinks it can go about dropping bombs and going home again without consequences.  Because that’s really monstrous behavior. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Ultimately- I don’t have that much problem with violence as a solution to political problems.

    Because the odds are low that it will be inflicted on you.

  • Lori

     
    Because the odds are low that it will be inflicted on you.  

    I fear that the odds of mass violence as a solution to political problems in the US is getting higher all the time. Of course I supposed that cary assumes that if violence does flair up again here that he’ll be on the side doing instead of the side being done to, so I guess your point still stands. 

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    What abut the fact that we have no right to attack iran. they didn’t threaten us.

  • Alicia

    Actually, no. I’m talking about identifying and supporting that fraction
    of the population that actively supports regime change to a democracy.
    Which is why I said “arm the protesters” not “arm every Iranian.”
     Generally, I’m gonna guess that if you hate the Iranian government
    enough to take to the streets and be arrested, beaten, thrown into
    Iranian prisons, or even killed to protest for democracy, you might be
    willing to fight for it.

    What happens if someone is protesting not for liberal democracy but to take power from the current regime? (See also — Egypt).

    What, you want me to write a ten-page white paper for the state
    department here?  Hell, you explain what happens to every ethnic
    minority in Iran when the brutal dictatorship is strengthened by their
    control over the shiny new windfarms we built them. 

    No, I want you to think through the most obvious ramifications of your ideas before you spew them out all over the Internet. Seriously, do you know anything about Iran’s history?

    And the people who would have the most bullets would be the ones we’re
    supplying. Which, in my plan, again, is the pro-democracy people.  Not
    the way it’d actually fall out if the CIA did it, I grant you, but hey.
    We’re talking ideal situations here.

    Gotcha, so we’re already in the realm of science fiction, where we can dump weapons into a country and guarantee that the only people who will be able to get them are the people that we like, and that the people we don’t want to win won’t be able to get weapons from somewhere else.

    Why not just send in a brigade of unicorns, if we’re talking “ideal” (imaginary) situations??

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Because killing a unicorn is the greatest evil in the world.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    But, then…how would the military industrial complex profit off the death of brown people?

  • Anonymous

    And because, of course, every single person who is out on the street can be presumed to be automatically pro-Israel and a supporter of the rights of women and people who are QUILTBAGS.

    I highly doubt that. It’s still Iran, after all. But “democracy” is generally a step up from “theocracy” where minority rights are concerned. And tell me a situation where changing leaders leads to things being WORSE for Iranian minorities. 

    What happens if someone is protesting not for liberal democracy but to take power from the current regime? (See also — Egypt). 

    Already answered this question- then the new regime will be (most likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their rise to power. At worst- things stay pretty much the way they are, except they like us more. At best- we get a democracy in Iran.  More likely- whoever takes over will be at least more secular. Try for the sort of situation they have in Turkey where the military will occasionally step in to check the power of the religious nuts. 

    Gotcha, so we’re already in the realm of science fiction, where we can dump weapons into a country and guarantee that the only people who will be able to get them are the people that we like, and that the people we don’t want to win won’t be able to get weapons from somewhere else.

    Do…do you think I’m advocating airlifting weapons into  Azadi Square during a protest? 

    *sigh* Look- there are ways and methods to arming groups. Do you think CIA just flew over Afghanistan in the 80’s shoveling RPGS out the back of a plane, hoping the local tribes would pick them up?  I would imagine that CIA or someone has significant intel from inside Iran by now, given how many dissidents there are. Use that intel, confirmed with, oh, say, drone subservience, to identify potential cell leaders. Then set up a classic, four person cell system if all you want is an insurgency. If you want a revolution, pick some smart, ambitious Colonel who is pro-democracy, and recruit an army through him. Do I need to walk you through every step of the process, or can I assume you’re intelligent enough to know that yes, there are people who can get weapons to the people they want to get them, and have been doing this for years now?

    Does anyone honestly think iran is going to develop a nuclear bomb and launch it at the continental united states? they’d be vaporized beforew they even thuoght of it. this whole non issue is ridiculous and exactly like iraq. we’re broke and we’re talking about this? it’s insane.

    Nope. To launch a full scale nuclear attack on the US would require ICBM level nuclear technology. The main difficulty with nukes is starting the reaction, which requires a large amount of very precise equipment. A nuclear dump truck bomb might be possible, but HIGHLY unlikely, and almost impossible to build/ship. 

    There is, as I pointed out, a very real danger that with a nuclear payload added to existing Iranian missile technology, they could nuke Israel.  Or Baghdad, given how much they hate the Iraqis. (Israel, is, obviously, more likely.) Given that Israel DOES have nuclear ICBMS, they would respond in kind, quite possibly kicking off a full scale nuclear war. Not to mention that Pakistan and India are RIGHT THERE and liable to get involved. Not to mention that we and the Russians are still on opposite sides of the political situation there.
     
    They want to run their own affairs and to be the Big Cheese in their neighborhood. They care about the US mostly because our national interests and global ambitions tend to result in us being very involved in their area of the world. That’s true regardless of what one thinks about the specifics of US foreign policy toward the Middle East in general or Iran in particular.

    Well, yeah. We blew Iraq to shit, and that was the main check on their power in the area. Functionally speaking, they were the main winners in the Iraq war.

    More through analysis here:http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-who-won-iraq-answer-anyone-who-stayed-out/

    And a Big Cheese Iran is seriously bad news for the Middle East in general, and double bad news for Israel.

  • Lori

     
    It’s still Iran, after all. 

    Do you honestly not see that this is a really asshat thing to say? Do you not recognize that you’re flashing your bigotry and lack of understanding to world? It’s like you walked into a party and just dropped trou. I think you really need to pull up your drawers and learn a lot more abut this before you go on pontificating about it. 

     
    the new regime will be (most likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their rise to power

     

    Lord, I need to stop reading your posts. I suffer from pretty severe secondary embarrassment and this is getting a little too stressful.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    And because, of course, every single person who is out on the street can be presumed to be automatically pro-Israel and a supporter of the rights of women and people who are QUILTBAGS.

    I highly doubt that. It’s still Iran, after all. But “democracy” is generally a step up from “theocracy” where minority rights are concerned. And tell me a situation where changing leaders leads to things being WORSE for Iranian minorities.

    My statement (the italicized first paragraph) was sarcastic.

    And there are many Iranian minorities for whom changing leadership (over the years) has led from bad to worse — for example, women (not a numerical minority but a power minority), Christians, Jews, Kurds and if I understand correctly, Sufis

  • Ursula L

    then the new regime will be (most likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their rise to power. 

    That’s not a reasonable assumption.  Just because a group is willing to pragmatically use US aide to achieve their short-term goals doesn’t mean that it will share the US’s long-term interests, or be willing to consistently place US interests ahead of their own.  

    It’s rather silly for the US to expect other nations to define themselves as pro- or anti- US.  Each group has its own identity and needs.  

    And if a group rises to political power as a result of US military aide and funding, then, to have legitimacy in the eyes of their own people, they have to demonstrate that they aren’t US puppets.  Because if the people they govern believe that their government places US interests ahead of their own, they’ll quickly start looking for a government that is actually representative of them.  

    And people are clever enough to recognize that an election that gives them a choice between various US puppets isn’t really a free or fair election at all.  

  • Abdul Jah

    Already answered this question- then the
    new regime will be (most likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their
    rise to power. At worst- things stay pretty much the way they are, except they
    like us more. At best- we get a democracy in Iran.  More likely- whoever
    takes over will be at least more secular. Try for the sort of situation
    they have in Turkey where the military will occasionally step in to check the
    power of the religious nuts. 

    This is how Iran works now. The Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds
    forces are like hand in a glove. The military calls the shots and the Ayatollah
    justifies it to the people and smooths things over with the other clerics. I
    don’t see how your proposed situation will turn Iran into a system like Turkey
    because Iran will be starting from a different place than Turkey.

    Do
    I need to walk you through every step of the process, or can I assume you’re
    intelligent enough to know that yes, there are people who can get weapons to
    the people they want to get them, and have been doing this for years now?

    When you did that in Iraq, the weapons you gave to Saddam to
    help him fight the Iranians ended up being repurposed to fight Kuwait. When you
    did that in Afghanistan, the weapons you gave to the Muhajideen to fight Russia
    ended up in the hands of the Taliban. Why do you think it will work better now?
    America is great at getting weapons into countries. It might even do a great
    job at getting the weapons into people that it trusts at the time. But there is
    no real way to put the genie back in the bottle after you do that. Once you
    flood Iran with guns and bombs, you have no way of making sure that the people
    who get their hands on them don’t decide that America is Great Satan after all.
    You have no way of making sure that the people who get their hands on them don’t
    turn into brutal autocrats.

    In Iran today, the Jewish minority faces a lot of
    discrimination but they have some legal protection, similar to the Copts in
    Egypt under Mubarak. Jews are permanently represented in the parliament (majlis
    al-shura) and their religious customs are respected in law. Under your system,
    all of that could go away as it has for the Copts in Egypt after Mubarak. The
    new regime that comes to power will not have the legitimacy of being Khomeini’s
    heir. They will be another upstart regime that will need to find some source of
    legitimacy on their own, and there is a very big risk that they will do that by
    targeting the Jewish population.

    Even if they don’t, in the chaos of a civil war the odds
    that the Jewish and other minority populations will be protected are low. You
    saw In Egypt all of the churches burned and the Copts being butchered; what do
    you think will happen in Iran once the government falls into civil war? It’s
    not going to be government vs. the people – it’s going to be dozens of
    different factions from different religions and ethnic tribes fighting each
    other.

    People in the West often get a misleading picture of what a
    country is like from watching the news. The focus in most Western media is on
    the urban population, which is usually more liberal and secular than other
    parts of the country. The fact is that the conservatives of Iran are found in
    the rural areas and the countryside and they supported Ahmadinejad and the
    Revolution. The media doesn’t see them because its hard to get to them, but
    that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I think you think that most people in
    Iran want to become exactly like America but I’m telling you that isn’t true. Even
    just among the protesters, many support the Revolution system but just want
    more power to the parliament (majlis) – which is where the middle class rules
    right now.

     

     

  • chris

     
    “And a Big Cheese Iran is seriously bad news for the Middle East in general, and double bad news for Israel. ”
     
    why is a big cheese Iran “bad for the middle east”? what does that mean? bad in what way?

    I really blame the think tanks for giving people these  “world as chessboard” delusions.  These are all just suppositions on your part. can you name one city in iran besides Tehran?
     
     
     

    “Or Baghdad, given how much they hate the Iraqis”

    ????
     
    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/10/18/1287415221547/Nouri-al-Maliki-and-Mahmo-006.jpg
     

    “Already answered this question- then the new regime will be (most likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their rise to power”

    yeah like how bin laden was totally pro america after we funded the mujahadeen in the 80’s?

  • Lori

     
    yeah like how bin laden was totally pro america after we funded the mujahadeen in the 80’s?  

    I get the impression that cary is unfamiliar with or does not really understand the concept of blowback. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RAPF5V3YPOUWAZGAJ2VCQM76Q Alicia

    Maybe he thinks that Iranians won’t blame the US for fomenting violence in their country. Sort of like how the United States didn’t really blame the Taliban for their material aid to al Qaeda after 9/11.

    Oh, wait, that’s not a good example.

    Maybe it’ll work like the Bay of Pigs, where we armed and trained Cuban expats and sent them into Cuba, where they took on Castro’s forces and after their bravery and determined fighting became known, the Cuban people rose up and joined the struggle, toppling Castro’s despotic regime and instituting peace and democracy throughout all of…

    No, wait, that’s not a fair comparison. With the Bay of Pigs, we probably knew a lot about every single expatriate involved. This will be more like what happened in Afghanistan, where we gave weapons to everyone who said they were going to fight the USSR. Except instead of a well-defined and hideously unpopular alien enemy, we’re going to be asking the Iranians to kill their friends and family members who happen to vote differently or support a political party that we don’t like.

    I can’t imagine how it could possibly go right.

    Wrong.

    I mean, wrong. It can’t go wrong.

  • Lori

     
    Maybe he thinks that Iranians won’t blame the US for fomenting violence in their country. Sort of like how the United States didn’t really blame the Taliban for their material aid to al Qaeda after 9/11.  

     

    In fairness, our main beef with the Taliban didn’t actually focus as much on material support before 9/11 (because the relationship between AQ & the Taliban was complicated), but on their refusal to withdraw that support after 9/11. 

    Your basic point stands though. Even leaving aside the morality of it, fomenting violence in other countries is at best an extremely risky strategy 

  • Anonymous


    yeah like how bin laden was totally pro america after we funded the mujahadeen in the 80’s?  

    Ahhh, yes. This old misconception. The actual, local, Afghan mujahadeen went on to be the Taliban.  However, there were a significant number of outsiders who wandered in, specifically using Afghanistan as a sort of holiday retreat- go blow up some infidels, come home. The Afghans, by all accounts, thought they were silly little dilettantes playing soldier in a foreign country.   Osama Bin Laden, being Saudi, was one of those. So yes, he probably got some CIA training.  But saying he was one of the Afghan mujahadeen is incorrect, as is saying that his and their goals and eventual allegiances were in anyway the same.      

  • Lori

     
    Ahhh, yes. This old misconception. The actual, local, Afghan mujahadeen went on to be the Taliban.  However, there were a significant number of outsiders who wandered in, specifically using Afghanistan as a sort of holiday retreat- go blow up some infidels, come home. The Afghans, by all accounts, thought they were silly little dilettantes playing soldier in a foreign country.   Osama Bin Laden, being Saudi, was one of those. So yes, he probably got some CIA training.  But saying he was one of the Afghan mujahadeen is incorrect, as is saying that his and their goals and eventual allegiances were in anyway the same.  

    I am being totally serious when I tell you that Afghan history and politics are far more complex that you think and you have just enough information to be dangerous. You really need to read more, or at least more broadly, on this topic before you base opinions on it or try to lecture others about it. 

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    carryjames- fine, “yeah like how the mujahadeen became pro american after we funded them in the 80’s”.

    same thing. and the taliban were apparently impressed enough with bin laden to allow al queda to train there, which if you’ll recall was the reason we invaded Afghanistan ten thuosand years ago.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/2012/01/19/who-wants-war-with-iran/


    Is such a war in America’s interests? Consider.
    While U.S. air and naval power would prevail, Iranian civilians would die, as some of their nuclear facilities are in populated areas. Moreover, we cannot kill the nuclear knowledge Iran has gained. Thus we would only set back their nuclear program by several years. And a bloodied and beaten Iran would then go all-out for a bomb.

    The regime, behind which its people would rally, would emerge even more entrenched. U.S. bombing did not cause Germans to remove Hitler or Japanese to depose their emperor. And we lack the ground troops to invade and occupy a country three times the size of Iraq.

    All U.S. ships, including carriers in that bathtub the Persian Gulf, would be at risk from shore-based anti-ship missiles and the hundreds of missile boats in Iran’s navy. Any sea battle would send oil prices to $200 and $300 a barrel. There goes the eurozone.
    Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shia of the Saudi oil fields and Bahrain, home port to the Fifth Fleet, and Iranian agents in Afghanistan and Iraq could set the region aflame.”

  • Ursula L

     muslim opinion did not rally around the US because of our support for them. They still hated us. the whole time.

    And, in fairness, why should they like the US?

    The US funded resistance against the Soviet occupation.  But we didn’t do it because we cared about the Afghan people.  We did it because Afghanistan was one of the many proxy-wars the US and USSR fought throughout the cold war.  And once the US had made their point with the Soviets, we lost interest in the area, leaving behind the ruins of war.  

    Life in a war zone is horrible, particularly for civilians caught in the crossfire.  And the US and USSR, together, spent half a century fighting each other in a way that ensured the worse effects of our ongoing war fell on other nations.  

  • friendly reader

    To swing back from the argument over whether we should topple the Iranian government (as I believe hapax put it, that worked so well in 1953)…

    Another reason to encourage Iran to step away from a nuclear energy program (which is what they claim to be doing) is that Iran is a major earthquake center. As the residents of Fukushima prefecture can currently tell you, building nuclear power stations in an earthquake-active zone is not a Good Idea. And if the third largest economy in the world has trouble keeping their stations safe enough to withstand a massive earthquake, you can be Iran can’t.

    I know that the nuclear energy is at least 50% cover for nuclear weapons, but if they really want to pursue alternative energy, nuclear is not the smartest way to go in their situation.

  • P J Evans

     Well, for one thing, Iran is unlikely, for geological reasons, to get a magnitude 9 earthquake, and it’s nearly impossible to get one followed by a tsunami of any size (the large bodies of water all being on the other side of mountains), which is the reason Japan has a big problem with that reactor complex.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    On war.

    I definitely think that it can be argued that Iran is not telling the truth about what it wants nuclear stuff for.

    One thing, however, that I should caution when discussing Iran and nukes with respect to Europe ‘offering them stuff’.

    One thing non-Western nations are particularly sensitive about is being treated as though they’re like little children that have to be doled out rewards because they’re too irresponsible to do it on their own.

    I think this may be part of the driving force for Iran to insist it will do its own damn enriching for its own damn plants.

    So, “it’s more complicated than that” – Iran’s leaders can have multiple competing reasons for why they would like to build nuclear plants and it may be that some favor one over the others because it is suitable or convenient.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ursula- excellent point. These drones are the current golden calf among the little bit of intervention won’t hurt set.

  • fraser

    “Already answered this question- then the new regime will be (most
    likely) more pro-America, seeing as we funded their rise to power. At
    worst- things stay pretty much the way they are, except they like us
    more.”
    So if our intervention kills ten thousand people and the only change is that we have an equally repressive but more cooperative government, that would be a win in your book?


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