Via Juan Cole, we have this video report from the Guardain. It is heart-breaking.
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
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.
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.
[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Crooked Timber) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]
I have completed Taleb’s The Black Swan and will say more about it later but I first want to take him to task on one of his opinions (one that he doesn’t really hold as it turns out). From page 171:
Popper’s insight concerns the limitations in forecasting historical events and the need to downgrade “soft” areas such as history and social science to a level slightly above aesthetics and entertainment, like butterfly or coin collecting. (Popper who received a classical Viennese education didn’t go quite so far; I do. I am from Amioun.) What we call the soft historical sciences are narrative dependent studies.
To confuse historicism and history is a horrible conflation, and no claims to rural roots should excuse this kind of boorishness. As Aristotle by way of Aquinas and Schumacher reminds us,
‘the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things.'(*) ‘Slender’ knowledge is here put in opposition to ‘certain’ knowledge, and indicates uncertainty.
(*) Aquinas, Summa theologica, I, 1, 5 ad 1.
Posted in BLOGROLL REVIEW, Causation, Epistemology, FEATURE ARTICLES, Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Philosophy, Philosophy of History, The Black Swan
Tagged Black Swan, Causation, Foreign Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Philosophy, Philosophy of History, Richard Feynman
Robert Fisk has an article in the Indie about a Dutch press photographer putting on a photograph exhibition on Iraq based on images that Iraqis have captured with their mobile phones. The reason he is using Iraqi’s amateur collection is that Iraq is still too dangerous for anybody with any sense who has any option to be elsewhere.
The refugee statistics are so appalling that they have become almost mundane. Four million of Iraq’s 23 million people have fled their homes – until recently, at the rate of 60,000 a month – allegedly more than 1.2 million to Syria (a figure now challenged by at least one prominent NGO), 500,000 to Jordan, 200,000 to the Gulf, 70,000 to Egypt, 57,000 to Iran, up to 40,000 to Lebanon, 10,000 to Turkey. Sweden has accepted 9,000, Germany fewer – where an outrageous political debate has suggested that Christian refugees should have preference over Muslim Iraqis. With its usual magnanimity – especially for a country that set off this hell-disaster by its illegal invasion – George Bush’s America has, of course, accepted slightly more than 500.
This collection of pictures is therefore an indictment of us, as well as of the courage of Iraqis. The madness is summed up in an email message sent to Van Kesteren by a Baghdad Iraqi. “This summer,” he wrote, “a workman wanted to quench his thirst by putting ice in his tea. A car pulled up, the driver stepped out and began to beat and kick the man, cursing him as an unbeliever. ‘What do you think you’re doing? Did the Prophet Mohamed put ice in his water?’
The man being attacked was furious and asked his assailant: ‘Do you think the Prophet Mohamed drove a car?'”
Posted in Al-Qa'ida, Climate, Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Neoconservatives, Politics, US Elections
Tagged climate change, Foreign Affairs, Iraq, James Wolsey, McBush, McCain, Politics, presidential elections, tax
On the supposition that finetuning the provisions that Iraqis find obnoxious to their sovereignty will bring them or their government around, Bush remains optimistic about the outcome.
President Bush said Saturday he is confident the United States can reach a long-term security agreement with Iraq, one that will not establish permanent U.S. bases there.
“If I were a betting man, we’ll reach an agreement with the Iraqis,” Bush told a news conference in Paris.
Bush has been wrong about virtually everything having to do with Iraq. He overplayed his hand one too many times, and SOFA is done for.