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December 18, 2009

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Dan Patterson

Reason and logic find their way to the surface. Finally.

Well written and persuasive. Nice to see an informed opinion. Now can we apply the same principles to "Climate Change"?

anduril

The second item was one of my shorter posts in the last few days. Just hadda say that.

Neo

Ross Douthat's piece certainly blows holes in Keith Olbermann's caricature of his employer, GE, the other night. I'm not sure the Progressive sites will enjoy this.

narciso

Yes nothing the Capitol Legal Foundation hadn't told us years ago, but it's good that it surfaces in the Times

bgates

Carney's argument isn’t that G.E. (or Pfizer, or Chevron, or Goldman Sachs) has a liberal agenda, necessarily; it’s that corporations have a rent-seeking agenda

-in modern, illiberal liberalism, what's the difference?

anduril

One for the outbox. These seems like a big story--I heard about the test but didn't realize that the new missile was solid-fuel:

Very Bad News: Iran Now Has Solid-Fuel Missiles Gizmodo

This is really scary news: Iran has successfully tested their Sajjil-2 yesterday. Why is this really scary? Because it is a two-stage solid fuel missile, which represents a giant leap in reaching the continental United States. Here's how:

Iran already has the Shahab-​​3, which is capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe, like the Sajjil-2. But the Shahab-3 uses liquid fuel, which means two things: First, they have to be fueled before launch, something that can be detected by spy satellites, so potential targets can take appropriate countermeasures. Second, the liquid fuel is highly corrosive, greatly affecting the accuracy of the missile by destabilizing it.

The Sajjil-2—which is designed to be a weapon payload carrier, not a peaceful space rocket—uses the same kind of solid fuel technology that the United States uses in the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. That means that they can be perfectly accurate, like the Minuteman III is. But more importantly, these missiles can be safely stored and launched with no preparation or warning. Click the big red button, and the birds are on their way one second later.

anduril

Very interesting article by Roger Cohen re Iran: The Inertia Option. He's making the case for doing nothing--like Bush did at the end of the Cold War.

The main difference between Moscow 1989 and Tehran 2009 is that the Islamic Republic is still ready to open fire. The main similarities are obvious: tired ideologies; regimes and societies marching in opposite directions; and spreading dissent both within the power apparatus and among the opposition.

Yes, the Islamic Republic has not arrived at a Gorbachevian renunciation of force. It is not yet open to compromise, despite calls for moderation from prominent clerics and now, it seems, from some senior army officers. It is still, in the words of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, sending its Revolutionary Guards and Basiji militia to chase “shadows in the street.”

I don’t know how long this situation can endure. Anyone who claims to be able to tell the Iranian future is lying. But it seems clear that the “political clock” has now outpaced the “nuclear clock.”

...

All this says — nay, screams — to me: Do nothing.

Cohen next addresses how to support those seeking regime change in Iran and emphatically says: do NOT impose more sanctions--that will only undercut the forces of change. I agree with that:

Their cause would be best upheld by stopping the march toward “crippling” sanctions on Iran. The recent House passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which would sanction foreign companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran, is ominous. Rep. Howard Berman, who introduced the bill, is dead wrong when he says that it would empower the Obama administration’s Iran policy. It would in fact undermine that policy.

So would sanctions action from the so called “P5+1” — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. When I’m asked where the “stick” is in Iran, my response is the stick is Iranian society — the bubbling reformist pressure now rising up from Iran’s highly educated youth and brave women.

It would be a tragedy were Obama to weaken them. Sanctions now would do just that. Nobody would welcome them more than a regime able once more to refer to the “arrogant power” trying to bring proud Iran to its knees. The Revolutionary Guards, who control the sophisticated channels for circumventing existing sanctions, would benefit. China and Russia would pay little more than lip service.

As Elizabeth Shakman Hurd of Northwestern University has written, “the United States is empowering the dissenters with its silence.”

Sanctions represent tired binary thinking on Iran, the old West-versus-barbarism paradigm prevalent since political Islam triumphed in the revolution of 1979 as a religious backlash against Western-imposed modernity. The Iranian reality, as I’ve argued since the start of this year, is more complex. A leading cry today of the protesters in Iran is “God is great” — hardly a secular call to arms. These reformists are looking in their great majority for some elusive middle way combining faith and democracy.

The West must not respond with the sledgehammer of sanctions whose message is “our way or the highway.” Rather it must understand at last the subtle politics of Iran by borrowing an Iranian lesson: inertia.

narciso

That is deeply ridiculous, if Moussavi were in charge, the parallel might work, but this is more Brezhnev than Gorbachev, or more likely Suslov as that we are dealing with

narciso

"empowering dissenters with our silence" It's the kind of idiocy that Obama would buy,
frankly it's an act of moral cowardice

anduril

But Brezhnev begot Gorbachev who begot... Who's to say a similar progression couldn't occur in Iran? In fact, Cohen anticipated your knee-jerk reaction, and you SOMEHOW failed to pick up on that:

The main difference between Moscow 1989 and Tehran 2009 is that the Islamic Republic is still ready to open fire.

the Islamic Republic has not arrived at a Gorbachevian renunciation of force. It is not yet open to compromise, despite calls for moderation from prominent clerics and now, it seems, from some senior army officers.

What's ridiculous is not to read what the man is saying. Moussavi and the other opposition leaders are by no means western secularists or liberals--just as Gorbachev was no western liberal--but, Cohen is suggesting, they may be the Gorbachevs who will later be pushed aside by the forces of change in Iran. If we're willing to patiently allow that to happen.

That's Cohen's point: don't give the regime a rallying cry that could appeal to the strong nationalism of the Iranian people. Remember, Moussavi accused the regime recently of being ready to sell out the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Don't kid yourself--the opposition at all levels remains deeply nationalistic and would probably close ranks against a West that tried to tighten the screws via sanctions (ineffectively, as Cohen notes, since Russia and China would thumb their noses at sanctions, anyway). So, let the revolution play out, if there is to be one. To interfere would only discredit the dissidents as traitors to Iran.

anduril

narciso, who invented the game of chess? It's high time we wised up and learned that game.

narciso

Cohen is a dhimmi reporter, before the election he was surprised at the antisemitism
in Iran, look we will have that council of caution most likely under this administration, and the likes of Vahidi, who
was around at the beginning of the Iranian wave of terror, will take this as a hint to
challenge the weak horse

jimmyk

But Brezhnev begot Gorbachev who begot...

...Yeltsin, who begot Putin. Meaning that we're more or less back where we started, with a thug, albeit one with less territory and fewer satellite countries. The only reason Russia isn't as big a problem as the USSR is its weakened economic state. What was your point?

narciso

Yes we have a bad czar, in all but crown, whether it's Nicholas 1, from the Crimean War Period, or Alexander 111, or one of the Ivans, although he fancies himself more like
Peter the Great. The SVR is the new Okrana,
or the Third Department of the Chancery, if you prefer

anduril

The Russian analogy is merely an analogy--which Aquinas defines as a form of equivocation. I think there is actually more hope for a more open form of government and society in Iran than in Russia. The option you seem to be pushing for is to destroy the country militarily. There are two drawbacks to that:

1. My belief is that it's not possible--certainly not for Israel, and I don't think there's any time soon short of extraordinary and direct provocation (act of war) that the US would undertake such an enterprise. For the US, further military adventurism is already unwise from a financial standpoint as well as from the need to rehab our increasingly run down military.

2. Iran won't go away, in any event, but a dramatically weakened Iran might well introduce more instability rather than less into the Middle East and Central Asia.

narciso

Yes, because Reagan invaded Poland in 1981, to free it from Jaruzelski's grip, I was pointing out the flaws in Cohen's analogy, which was deliberately flawed, to 'equivocate'
as you call it

anduril

Reagan invaded Poland in 1981, to free it from Jaruzelski's grip

What am I missing here?

narciso

It's as ludicrous as your premise, aide to dissident organizations in equivalent to invasion, so are Brown and Sarkozy, warmongers
for pushing for sanctions

matt

the multinationals will game the system any way they can. Under Clinton, they were Dems, and under Bush they gave to the Republicans. The Wall Street crowp pays off anyone they can, as has been seen quite evidently just in the past week with Turbo Timmys Big Giveaway....It's crony capitalism at its worst.

On the way home from a real capitalist country. It's a hell of a world when the Commies are more capitalist than we are.

matt

anduril;

Ahmedinejad now has the means to hit Europe, just as we flushed the ABM system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Knowing the Iranians, unless they stole the temetrics from us, it would probably hit Russia anyway.

However, Israel is a lot easier. A year ago, the Israelis begged Bush for his acquiescence in a strike on the Iranian sites. Obama may well change his tune now.

The Iranians have been blowing smoke up our kiesters for the past 9 months and made fools of Obama and the West. They are fqscists who will use any means necessary to maintain control. The society is split, but the men with guns win in that equation. Think Strangelove.

Now that they have demonstrated the ability to master solid rocket fuel technology (or buy it), they have a credible program.The stakes just got upped again. More centrifuges and sites; the most doubletalking political establishment in history..remember, there are still warheads rattling around those old USSR sites or an errant Pakistani or NoKo warhead. And voila'....poof goes something somewhere.

anduril

Obama may well change his tune now.

Hmmmm. Are you a betting man?

Anyway, the Iranians aren't suicidal. Reread the Ariel Ilan Roth article. Nobody expects Israel or anyone else to be happy about Iran getting more advanced missiles or even nukes eventually. However, it probably will happen. We need to plan for that contingency in a serious manner rather than fantasizing about military strikes than probably won't occur because they wouldn't solve the problem.

narciso

Based on what exactly, not Hassan Abbas's strategic lectures, not Vahidi's involvement
in Beirut, Buenos Aires and Vienna, not Ahmadinejad's c.v. that response seems to be grasping at straws

Cecil Turner

Anyway, the Iranians aren't suicidal. Reread the Ariel Ilan Roth article.

Why not reread Quotations from Chairman Mao while you're at it? It makes as much sense, and at least it's illuminating as to what drivel a totalitarian government can force upon its people.

anduril

based on regime change

anduril

Chairman Mao/Ariel Ilan Roth? Twaddle.

narciso

Well it seems more like Richard Falk's belief that Khomeini, was some sort of peaceful dissident, based on no evidence

anduril

your comments have nothing at all to do with either cohen's or roth's articles, nor with anything i've said. babble on, if you wish.

clarice

Cohen is a remarkable dingbat. I'll surprised anyone bothers to read him except perhaps for laughs.

clarice

*I'M surprised***

narciso

No, because they are not related to the thirty year experience we have had with the Iranian Revolution, does it seem quiescent to you, after Quassemlou and AMIA and the Israeli
embassy

Cecil Turner

Back on topic, Mankiw's suggestion the Administration "rethink the remedy" elides the fact that they ignored their own experts when implementing it.

A CBO report that noted most of the spending didn't occur until 2010 was the subject of a risible lefty food fight in which they pretended there was no such report (and then carefully explained why the report which didn't exist was actually a good thing). A letter from the CBO noted the stimulus was actually counterproductive in the long term:

In the longer run, the legislation would result in a slight decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) compared with CBO’s baseline economic forecast.

[apologies if this results in a duplicate; typhuspad ate this thing twice, so I've cut it in half to try again]

Cecil Turner

And a far more recent report explains why that didn't matter . . . because it was never about jobs anyway:

Report: Democratic districts received nearly twice the amount of stimulus funds as GOP districts
A new analysis of the $157 billion distributed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, popularly known as the stimulus bill, shows that the funds were distributed without regard for what states were most in need of jobs.
The question is not really whether tax cuts or stimulus are more effective, it's whether we should've skipped the pork sausage in favor of nothing. The answer: "yes" . . . unless you're a Democrat making money from it.

Not surprisingly, Ms Pelosi (Democrat making money from it) rammed through another bloated "stimulus" package last week.

anduril

Hmmmm. Dems are corrupt and don't give a shit about "good government." Who woulda thunk it? Independents, I suppose.

anduril

Here's a really fascinating article that may well tie into Cohen's "inertia option" and the new twin news items from Iran: launch of a solid fuel missile and seizure of a disputed oil well:

Islam vs. Iran's 'Islamic Republic'.

This is a fairly lengthy article, but hopefully I can capture its flavor with a few quotes:

A new opportunity is now emerging for the "Green Movement" in Iran to demonstrate opposition to the Islamic Republic and the manipulated presidential election results earlier this year. Friday, December 18, marks the beginning of the months of Muharram and Safar in the Islamic lunar calendar. For the regime in Tehran, gaining control of the streets has become gradually more difficult since the Green Movement turned all officially sanctioned political ceremonies into opportunities to wage protests against the Islamic Republic. The coming two months, however, represent the first time that a religious opportunity has come up.

Mourning Means Revolting

In Shiite tradition, Hossein, the third imam -- meaning both political leader and spiritual guide -- led a noble but ultimately unsuccessful revolt against the unjust rule of the Muslim caliph Yazid. The tenth day of Muharram, or Ashura, marks the bloody end to this revolt in October 680 of the Common Era, when Hossein faced off against Yazid's army at Karbala. Once Hossein's forces had been defeated, he and some seventy of his disciples, along with all the male members of his family, were brutally killed. Since then, Hossein has occupied a special place for Shiites. He gained the title "Master of Martyrs," and in the course of Islamic history his image has been influenced by pre-Islamic mythology as well as Christian scripture. Remembrance of the passion of Hossein and his sacrifice, as well as the suffering of his family and disciples, has served as a locus for sustaining Shiite identity. The events of Ashura are viewed by Shiites as the defining moment when they split from the mainstream Sunni sect and the caliphate. By extension, Shiites have long connected mourning for Hossein, and his divine sacrifice, with the principles of truth and justice as opposed to unjust and cruel leadership.

...[I skip lots of fascinating detail re Iranian/Shiite culture]

...Iranians used this same technique during the prerevolutionary years under the shah. Three decades ago, the participation of millions in these rituals -- including many who usually did not practice their religion -- had a major role in overthrowing the shah's regime. Today, even low-ranking clerics who support the Green Movement could play a significant role by allowing the people to politicize the ceremonies and transform them into opposition gatherings. In a recent statement, opposition cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said that the "Islamic Republic is neither Islamic nor republic; it is a military government."

The Green Movement's use of Muharram and Safar could have a tremendous impact on the religious credentials and legitimacy of the regime. If the government avoids violence out of respect for the religious values of Muharram and Safar, it could mean two months of open challenges to the fundamentals of the Islamic Republic's ideology. But if the government cracks down on religious displays, resentment against the Islamic Republic could increase significantly.

OK. So what about the military news. Here's my speculation. The Iranian regime knows what's coming with these religious festivals and is trying to preempt them by staging crises and fomenting international outcries against Iran--in the hope of getting all Iranians to band together in solidarity against the outside world. This is a technique that China has used to good effect to quiet domestic discontent, and there is reason for the Iranian regime to be hopeful that it could work--after all, within the last month or so Moussavi's opposition tried to play the nationalist card against the regime by claiming that the regime was negotiating away Iran's nuclear program.

This is where Cohen's "intertia option" comes in. His advice would be for the West, especially the US, not to allow itself to be played by Iranian regime provocations. The regime is no doubt hoping that new--and, of course, ineffective--sanctions will be imposed, so that they can claim that these sanctions (which will hurt ordinary Iranians) were imposed in support of the opposition. Thus, the regime would claim to carry the standard of Iranian pride and independence against foreign interference. The "inertia option" has a lot to be said for it, especially since neither military nor the sanctions options are likely to be successful.

The Iranian regime is nothing if not clever, after decades of successfully playing us, so either way lie pitfalls. But support for the opposition through inertia may be the wisest course in the long run.

JorgXMcKie

Anduril: I'm wildly interested in your take on what other people think about Iran [well, so long as they're about two bubbles from plumb].

Do you have a couple of million words you could post, with all the important/interesting stuff that supports your particular hobby horse highlighted?

Thanks.

mockmook

Good one Jorg, LOL!!!

mockmook

Don't forget, it was also "fascinating"!!!!

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