William R. Polk
William Polk has a guest piece at Informed Comment warning us about what is likely to happen if we carry down our current track to a war with Iran. How many M.E. specialists, historians, soldiers, reporters–none of them alarmists or peace-niks–do we have to hear? This is just what was happening in the run-up to the Iraq war, except the stakes are much, much higher (for us). It is like we are stumbling along the edge of a precispise with only some aware of what we are doing and praying that we pull away from the edge. But on we go.
After my previous article on whether we will go to war with Iran, Scott Ritter posts an article at TruthDig to say that we are already at war with Iran. This is so true. And it remionds me of why it is so important to read people like Ritter, Hedges and Fisk with an established track record in seeing these things clearly when everyone else is stumbling around. Check it out.
Chris Hedges has an article, A War of Self-Destruction, on the consequences of a war with Iran, and follows a line of thinking very like my own. While it is clearly an insane proposition, the truth of the matter is that the people making these decisions profit in every way from these wars and they clearly believe their wealth will cushion them from the worst of its impacts—they just don’t fear the consequences of everything going tits up. While they will surely regret their actions, they are right: their wealth will protect them.
Are they going to start this war? It remains an abstraction for me. Each time the lunies have another push at starting a war, they enable the adults to take away more of their toys, and more people stop paying much attention to them. The more they cry wolf the more they seem to be ignored.
But still HR 362 remains in play and apparently keeps gaining sponsors. This is of course the US political process doing its dance, but could it end in war? The chances surely can’t be zero. But what are they?
We live in interesting times. Let us pray that they don’t get too interesting.
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.
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Middle East
Tagged Benny Morris, Gordon Brown, Iran, Iraq, Israel, nuclear strike, war
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.
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Iran, Israel-Palestine, Middle East, Nuclear, Politics, US Elections
Tagged gershom Gorenberg, Iran, Israel, Jeff Huber, Obama, Politics, US Elections
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.
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.