October 2, 2009

Headline: "Iran talks ease tensions"

Justin Katz

Well isn't that what always happens? Tension. Ease. Tension. Ease. And always Iran moves a little closer to nuclear capability. With consequences such as this looming over the country's head, I'm sure Iran understands how serious the United States is:

Tehran "must grant unfettered access" to international inspectors within two weeks, he said, warning that if Iran fails to follow through, "then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure."

Two questions: Why is the word "negotiate" appearing in this context? And why is this supposed to be comforting:

Western officials at the session said the Islamic republic had also agreed to allow Russia to take some of its enriched uranium and enrich it to higher levels for its research reactor in Tehran, a potentially significant move that would show greater flexibility by both sides.
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Please control the desire to attack me as "anti-feminist", or "anti" anything. Your article seems to embody the masculine impulse to actively prevent harm. On the other hand, politicians must deal with the fact that 50% of the voters are female. As feminist writers frequently point out, women prefer "negotiation" and attempts to "build consensus". Since women are voters and control a disproportionate portion of the wealth, a working democracy must address those beliefs. So, we must negotiate with them for a long period, then punch them in the face (Iranians, not women). My chief concern is that protracted negotiations allow them to gain strength.

Please note, I am not a warmonger and the female influence has a valuable place. American blood is a precious commodity. Unfortunately, their aversion to violence is not a supervening influence in parts of the world where they are forced to wear Burkhas.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at October 2, 2009 7:41 AM

Surely another war is the answer. The two occupations and nation-building projects we have going at the moment have been such overwhelming successes and it's not like we don't have the money to burn. They've only cost us, what, a few trillion dollars?

Well, so what if we can't afford it. We need to prevent this at ALL COSTS, right? The middle east is such a vital part of the United States's....interests....which we have a right to control because we say so and we're bigger than they are. Natural order of things.

Besides, Iran would surely use such a nuke the first chance it got, even though such an action would result in its own immediate annihilation. Ahmadinejad would rather be executed as a martyr for war crimes than rule over his own country indefinitely as a king. They simply aren't rational about their own self-interests like we Americans are (Iraq War?). They probably spend all day mumbling to themselves and smearing feces on their bedroom walls over in the Iranian presidential palace. They should all be locked up in insane asylums, all 65 million of them. That's why they are still herding goats and living in nomadic tribes while we have so much surplus that none of our citizens have trouble providing for their families or getting jobs in this country.

To let an enemy of the United States or a "rogue nation" have the same nuclear devices we have 1000's of would surely be the end of the world (except Soviet Union/Russia, Pakistan, China, etc.)

Can we please stop with the paranoia already? Nobody voted us world police. Let's chill out and take care of some of our own problems. If our economy collapses because of all this foreign interventionism and nation-building then we aren't going to be able to fend off El Salvador, much less Iran halfway across the world, who is only our enemy because of our own interventionist actions in the first place. Are we trying to replicate the behavior of the Soviet Union ca. 1980? They spent themselves to death on military, don't think we can't do the same if we try.

Posted by: Dan at October 2, 2009 8:36 AM

Who knew that libertarianism was the key to time travel! Welcome back to foreign policy circa 1999.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 2, 2009 8:51 AM

When the Iranians or North Koreans or Venezuelans sell a nuclear bomb to a terrorist organization and they detonate it in Yankee Stadium during a game, even libertarians will scream, "Why didn't someone stop this!?!"

Then again, the part of Dan's post that I agree with is that we aren't the world police and our military is already stretched way too thin. Clearly right now, Iran and NK are bigger threats to the US than Iraq and Afghanistan, and are much, much stronger enemies. I'm kinda starting to like the isolationist ideas. Lock down the borders, if you want to leave the country, you're on your own and any non-US citizens need a really good reason to come within the borders.

The other question I have is what does this mean? "we are prepared to move towards increased pressure" Does that mean we won't say "please" next time? Decrease the stock price for Members Only jackets?

Posted by: Patrick at October 2, 2009 9:23 AM

Military spending as a percentage of the GDP has been lower since 2001 than it was in the 1980s. It's not defense spending that's driving the US drive towards bankruptcy.

A country does not receive any benefit of a deterrent shield, if potential attackers do not believe it will respond to threats against it.

Assuming that the leadership of Iran measures it success in the same material terms that a free-trader does ignores much of what the current Iranian President (and other Islamists) have said. They might see themselves as being successful, if Islamic law gains a wider reach in the world -- or maybe just the greater potential for a wider reach -- even if that means reducing the quantity of material comfort that's available in the world.

Finally, saying that the people have to increase their exposure to mass-casualty attacks, in order to satisfy the designs of dictatorial foreign governments, is another place where many of those who today call themselves "libertarians" have sadly decided they have other priorities than advancing the liberty of individuals.

Posted by: Andrew at October 2, 2009 11:15 AM

And I suppose that stomping around the Middle East and threatening sovereign countries over there that have done NOTHING to us whatsoever except say mean things is going to make these terrorist groups less likely to want to detonate a nuke on our soil as opposed to more? What kind of backwards logic is that?

I'm not saying we can't perform intelligence and secure our homeland, but all this foreign interventionism and pugilistic behavior is just going to lead to more animosity, more spending which we can't afford, and more warring across the globe which makes us more vulnerable, not less.

Do you really think if we just threaten or invade everyone who makes a mean face at us then we will really be any safer from terrorist attacks? There is so much historical evidence that military action does nothing to stop those kinds of incidents and can actually make things worse. The answer is internal policing and stopping our aggressive and immoral foreign policy which turns even our allies against us.

Posted by: Dan at October 2, 2009 2:05 PM

You guys do realize that Pakistan has the bomb, right? What's our response? Threats, sanctions... um, not so much:

The U.S. Senate approved legislation Thursday to triple civilian financial aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over five years, underscoring the country's vital role in the war in Afghanistan and the broader fight against international terrorism.

Want to stop proliferation? Let's talk about Israeli nukes:

The creator of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program boasted in a recent television interview that he and other senior Pakistani officials, eager to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, years ago guided that country to a proven network of suppliers and helped advance its covert efforts.

A.Q. Khan, whom Washington considers the world's most ambitious proliferator of nuclear weapons technology, told a television interviewer in Karachi, Pakistan, that if Iran succeeds in "acquiring nuclear technology, we will be a strong bloc in the region to counter international pressure. Iran's nuclear capability will neutralize Israel's power."

The hyperventilation from the right (no offense, libertarians) is about empire, not security. Cheers, Dan, for the reasoned response.

Posted by: Russ at October 2, 2009 2:16 PM

I find it apalling that we can give $1.5B a year to Pakistan, yet we can not enter their country legally to find bin Laden?

It would seem these bribes that the US pays to these countries is to be nice to us. Yet, does it really matter? That aid we send them every year is enough to keep them from wanting to blow us off the map?

What happens if we don't give them the aid? The country devolves into a poorer version of Ethiopia? Or is that money really buying "stability"?

Posted by: Patrick at October 2, 2009 3:00 PM

Russ, not quite sure you meant but your last sentence, but true libertarians are against foreign interventionism, threats, occupations, and nation-building for moral reasons and because we simply cannot afford it. In fact, the entire foundation of the libertarian philosophy is the non-aggression principle: the idea that any initiation of force or substitute for force (fraud, theft) is immoral and the only justified violence is in actual self defense (NOT pre-emption).

I do agree with you, as I mentioned earlier, that the countries that already have nukes, and have had nukes in the past, are evidence that the world doesn't simply end when one of our enemies gets the bomb. In fact, it can actually lead to a peaceful stalemate and an incentive to trade and negotiate, as happened with the Soviet Union and the mutually assured destruction in that case.

All these "what if" scenarios about things Iran might do with a nuclear bomb are just that, "what if" scenarios and are not worth going to war over by any stretch of the imagination. They aren't going to risk losing their sovereignty and power just to nuke a US base or sell it to a terrorist group to nuke a US city. As if nobody would know that they were the ones who did it? And then the entire world would turn on them and crush them instantly. Despite the dehumanization of the Iranians that occurs within conservative circles (which is always necessary to justify foreign aggression), the Iranians aren't crazy or stupid, they're just people like us and they aren't going to suicide their whole country just to kill some Americans.

Posted by: Dan at October 2, 2009 3:09 PM

Perhaps an insanity test is in order. Somebody who says the following; insane or not?

Israel must be wiped off the map.
Posted by: Justin Katz at October 2, 2009 5:12 PM

Andrew writes:
"Military spending as a percentage of the GDP has been lower since 2001 than it was in the 1980s. It's not defense spending that's driving the US drive towards bankruptcy."

A lot of misinformation surrounds the "defense budget". I haven't consulted up to date records but in the 50's "Defense" was about 50% of the budget. Currently it is about 18%.

Of course, in the 50's, "Defense" included building Route 95 and student loans. ("National Defense Highway Act of 1957, National Defense Student Loan Act, 1959?)

Plus, or minus, the Federal budget of the 50's did not include Medicare. Social Security was relatively tiny.
There are so many things in the current Federal budget that didn't exist in any amount in the 50's that it is difficult to list them all.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at October 2, 2009 6:48 PM

"Perhaps an insanity test is in order. Somebody who says the following; insane or not?
Israel must be wiped off the map."

Not insane. I do not agree with it, but it is not insane. It actually makes a lot of political sense for them.

I'm sure I could find some pretty reckless and "crazy-sounding" stuff representatives of the United States have said over the past decade.

Posted by: Dan at October 2, 2009 9:09 PM

Good point, Warrington.

The fact that Defense is a smaller percentage of GDP than it previously was actually supports my point that we cannot afford it anymore, when one considers the fact that the reason that percentage is becoming smaller is because we are vastly increasing funding in other areas such as healthcare.

Posted by: Dan at October 2, 2009 9:12 PM

Despite the dehumanization of the Iranians that occurs within conservative circles (which is always necessary to justify foreign aggression), the Iranians aren't crazy or stupid...
Pardon me Dan, but your casual, statist equivalence of a government with its people has led you to error -- questioning the intent of a government is not the same as dehumanizing its people. It is the "conservatives" in discussions of countries like Iran who say that all people are entitled to certain basic liberties, no matter what their government says, while you are the one who has taken the position that people who live under dictatorial governments are basically getting what they deserve...
We also recognize that the people within those countries have a self-defense right that they have chosen not to exercise for whatever reason.

Posted by: Andrew at October 2, 2009 10:30 PM

It would seem that your evidence of a lack of craziness is your faith of political cynicism.

As you like.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 2, 2009 10:30 PM

Warrington, the numbers you presented are why I used GDP as the baseline, instead of the Federal budget total.

Contrary to Dan's assumption above, GDP doesn't automatically grow with social spending the same way the budget does. (Shouldn't a libertarian be aware of that?)

Posted by: Andrew at October 2, 2009 10:31 PM

Andrew, to say that a government is anything more than the sum of the individual persons participating in it is a legal fiction.

Posted by: Dan at October 3, 2009 12:16 AM

And to presume that the general population "participates" in a dictatorship or theocracy is obtuse and morally repugnant.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 3, 2009 5:45 AM

You think we really participate in our own government, Justin?

How did those bailouts work out for you and the 70-80% of the population who opposed them?

How much control does the citizen have over the Federal Reserve?

Maybe some other country should invade us.

Posted by: Dan at October 3, 2009 10:38 AM

Amazing how Justin throws the "moral" word around; he defines it in his own interest, rejects out of hand anyone else's interpretation, then, after setting up his straw man arguments goes on like Little Jack Horner, sticks his thumb in a pie that he baked, pulls out a plum, and says, "What a great boy am I".

Oh, well, I suppose that it leads to solipsistic self satisfaction!

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 3, 2009 10:41 AM

And Dan slips into the self-arguing loop:

12:16 a.m.: "to say that a government is anything more than the sum of the individual persons participating in it is a legal fiction"

10:38 a.m.: "You think we really participate in our own government, Justin?"

To summarize: That a government is distinct from its people is a fiction, and that people participate in their government is a fiction.

Dan apparently sees no difference between the United States government and the Iranian government.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 3, 2009 10:49 AM

We're getting into semantics now, but the two points I actually made were that governments are simply groups of individuals and that representational governments are, in reality, often anything but since those representatives are simply representing themselves.

It doesn't really make a difference since the assumption that the individuals within the Iranian government are all "irrational" or suicidal is equally untrue and destructive.

Posted by: Dan at October 3, 2009 12:47 PM

Yep, Dan. My comment was intended to be taken literally. I didn't want to lump you or other libertarians in with the sabre rattlers.

Obama pwns Bush-Cheney on Iran;
First day of Talks Yields Significant Confidence-Building Steps

For 8 years, Bush-Cheney practiced what I call "belligerent Ostrichism" toward Iran. They refused to talk to Tehran. They wanted to ratchet up sanctions on it. Bush sent 2 aircraft carriers to the Gulf to menace Iran. Bush's spokesmen professed themselves afraid of Iran's unarmed little speedboats in the Gulf. Aside from issuing threats to attack and destroy Iran the way they did Iraq, Bush-Cheney had nothing else to say on the matter. During the 8 years, Iran went from being able to enrich to .2% to being able to enrich to 3.8%, and increased its stock of centrifuges significantly. Bush-Cheney gesticulated and grimaced and fainted away at the horror of it all, but they accomplished diddly-squat.

Barack Obama pwned Bush-Cheney in one day, and got more concessions from Iran in 7 1/2 hours than the former administration got in 8 years of saber-rattling.

Posted by: Russ at October 3, 2009 1:43 PM

And I don't see any difference between Justin's self righteous moralizations and those of a self righteous Ayatollah. Both bake their own verbal pies and declare themselves good boys.

Jack Horner East vs. Jack Horner West - Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee if you will.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 3, 2009 9:17 PM
Perhaps an insanity test is in order. Somebody who says the following; insane or not?

Israel must be wiped off the map.

I'll answer that one. Anyone still repeating that thoroughly debunked myth should definitely seek help. There's no shame in admitting you need it, Justin!

First off, let's note that President Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini. Here's what Ahmadinejad said: "in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad."

One thing you'll note is that the word "Israel" isn't in the quote, so that should give even you propaganda types pause. What is there is the word "rezhim," which isn't so far from the English. Here's the full quote: "This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." In other words, regime change. If that's wiping a country off the map, then the Israelis and American neo-cons have done the same many, many times.

Ah, but the myth is so much more useful (that is if you really just care about justifying an invasion).

Posted by: Russ at October 6, 2009 3:16 PM
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