Monthly Archives: July 2008

And it Continues

Martin Rowsons take on Browns Iran abhorrence remarks

Sometimes a picture is really priceless.  The Iranians have repeatedly made clear that they have no intention of attacking Israel, that they anticipate Israel falling apart through its own internal contradictions.  there is not the slightest indication that the Iranians are preparing for any such military intervention or that they would ever be capable of it.  The real point of course is that it is a political attack, and the whole is part of the ‘cold war’ being fought between Iran and Israel, the USA and the industrial nations, a war that the Bush administration decided to fight, and the Israelis appear to be making sure that the Bush administration makes good its promises of taking out Iran after Iraq.

With such confusion and disingenuousness one can only presume that this is political manouevring to prepare for military should it come to that.  Should that come to pass the wealthy people that gave us this mess will not be the ones to pay the price: that will fall to the poor people.

I missed an article by Scott Ritter at TruthDig on the 14th on the consequences of such a war. Elsewhere Gershom Gorenberg picks apart Benny Morris’s Strangeglovian fantasies about Israel using its nuclear wepaons aresenal to settle up with Iran and Commander Huber surveys the inanity of the discorse on the Iraq war.

Advertisements

Jeff and Gershom on Obama

Two of my favourite bloggers—Commander Huber of The Pen and Sword and Gershom Gorenberg of South Jerusalem—have written similar and different articles on Obama’s foreign policy.  The commander analyses the ducking and diving in Obama’s Iran policy from the perspective of the Pentagon while Gorenberg takes the foggy bottom angle of his Israel policy.  They agree on the difficulties he faces (you have to work with the political context you have rather than the the one you would like) and that while some of his tactical manoeuvres may have caused some dismay, it is quite possible (so they argue) to pick out a coherent strategy.  Needless to say we will need more data, but that reading seems defensible to me, and is consistent with his record, such as it is.

I am most curious to know whether Gershom Gorenberg agrees with Comander Huber’s analysis.

Iran again

I have added the following comment on Yglesias’s solution-in-search-of-a-problem article, Exciting New Reasons to Bomb Iran.  As I am in the middle of a blogging drought I thought I would repost it here.

Matt, as often you are so right about this.

As Scott Ritter points out the Iranians have switched from talking down the US/Israeli sabre rattling as bluster to responding in kind and they are doing this to give Mullen and the realists the ammo to argue that there is no way the fallout for an attack on Iran can be restricted without much more serious preparations than those that have already been made and, of course, those preparations can’t be made before January.

Cheney and the neocons have been desperate since 2005 to bring about regime change and they figure that whatever the outside chances bombing is their last best shot. They don’t care about the risks to the Middle East and the American/world economy: that kind of pain will be felt by poor people and foreign suckers.

However the neocons need a plausible rationale to sell to the rest of us. As Matt says they have a solution in search of a problem.

Yglesias on Blogging

Matthew Yglesias, in response to a gripe about blogging and him in particular wrote a ludicrously self-efacing response where he horribly insults his main benefactors in his readers and employers at the Atlantic, and followed it up with another article expressing his regret that he doesn’t have a greater mastery of Middle eastern languages to add depth to his opinions on the matter.

Part of the reason that so many of us like reading Yglesias is that he comes up with this kind of stuff that might not be always comfortable to read but it sure makes you think—the mark of a philosopher, and the real reason for reading good bloggers.

Clearly if you are going to comment on an area, some mastery of it is required, but anyone who seriously believes that a mastery of Persian, Arabic and Hebrew is necessary to comment on US foreign policy in the Middle East is exhibiting worrying signs of narrowness.  Yglesias finishes his second missive on the subject with a beautiful observation about the Pakistani understanding of US culture and language will make them much more effective in manipulating US policy makers than the reverse.  It is this kind of awareness that makes Yglesias’s commentary so valuable.

Just yesterday Yglesias observed that many commentator’s advocacy of bombing Iran show signs of people with a solution in search of a problem.  I used to work in the tech sector and we learned to recognise this kind of thinking, and Yglesisas is of course dead right.  It is this ability to condense into a short article a critical insight  that makes them so valuable.  Yglesias says that thanks to his shortcommings ‘the overwhelming majority of Americans have never read this blog and never will’ but this is exactly wrong.  It is the chalenging (i.e., worthwhile) aspects of his blog that will act as the barier.  I wish perhaps more of the pundits that populate the mainstream media would read, and, more importantly, understand what he says in his blog.  We would not be in half the mess we are if they did.

FireFox 3 Rocks

I have been about a week with FireFox 3 and I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised.  I remember a friend of mine complaining bitterly at the start of the ’90s about the extravagance of the 3-d look that was being rolled out across desk-tops so it is interesting to see the Mozilla people opting for a retro look that seems to take us back to about then.

Apart from that it seems to be a well-thought through redesign of the control area at the top.  The enhanced-url completion is excellent, as is the ability to pick up links and drag them into folders and the bookmarks menu.

Very smooth.  Very smart.  Almost no disruption.  IE have a real fight on their hands.

What is going on?

Reflecting on my previous article on our seeming determination to smash our economies on the rocks of Iran I thoght of the the Taijitu or yin-yang motif, which I think may summarize the situation.  My understanding is the the motif is intended to symbolise the cyclical waxing and waning of the yin and yang qualities in a given situation.  Notice that when dark yin or light yang are at their maximum, the other is present in the middle, and of course the dominating one must then give way.

This seems to me to symbolise where the industrial powers are today.  Their military-industrial dominance has been derived on the mastery of coal and then oil.  Dominating the oil lies at the heart of the industrial nation’s involvement in the region from the beginning of the oil era at the opening of the 20th century.  It drew the British into the region with their 1914 invasion of Iraq, the carving up of the Arab world after beraking up the Ottoman empire, the overthrowing of Mosadegh and so on.

Of course oil supplies are probably maxing out and can no longer feed the colossal displacement activity that we normally call economic growth.  The underlying source of our power is set to decline.  It is the impotence and frustration that comes from this realistation that may be driving some of the irrational and destructive behaviour.

Iran Insanity Update

I read an account by a member of the paratroop regiment serving in the Falklands conflict.  After the surrender of the Argentine forces some bored members of the regiment were play a game of cricket, with hand grenades and some improvised bat.  The batter would have to hit the grenades into the sea where they could safely explode.

This reminds me of the games that we are playing at the moment with Iran.  Maybe we are all bored and in need of some entertainment–not able to get the kick out of destroying other people’s countries we need to make the game a little more exciting.  Let us hope that we keep on hitting the grenades into the sea.

Many with a good knowledge of what is going on, and a good track record in finding things out, are saying that we are nat making any sense.  Nothing has changed since the Iraq fiasco.  But when the fireworks start this time we are all going to get seriously hurt.  Before we started destroying the Iraqi people and their country they were an industrialized country with cities, hospitals, schools, power grids, water treatment and so on.  We systematically wrecked that so it makes a good study of what could happen in the industrial world if we pull down all those systems.  They, and our economies, are all dependent on oil.

This is why the Iranians have no need for a strategic nuclear deterrent.  They just need control a single narrow shipping lane.  They have always been clear about this, and they have had plenty of time to prepare.

Nothing that we are doing makes any sense at all.  We accuse them of undermining the nuclear weapons proliferation agreements, but it is us that are destroying these agreements.  We accuse them of destabilising the middles east but it is us that are doing so.  We accuse them of supporting terrorism and yet we hear that the Bush administration has asked for $400m from Congress to terrorize Iran and Congress are playing along and considering authorizing a naval blockade of Iran.  And we continue to terrorize and kill people in the region in quite high numbers, far, far higher numbers than the paramilitary groups that we obsess over.

We are nuts.  I don’t know how it is going to play out and it is not worth losing sleep over.  Worrying is a mug’s game.  All I can do is call it as I see it.

For those that are interested, Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter have interviews (Hersh, Ritter) and articles (Hersh, Ritter) spelling out what is going on.  Gordon Prather’s articles on nuclear weapons proliferation are excellent, as are Gareth Porter’s on the wider issues.