Friday, July 14, 2006

Iran Backing Hezbollah's Actions...or Another Iraq Set-Up in the Offing?

I've been too busy to pay close attention to what's been going on for a couple of days, but I see that Ignatius among others seems to be playing up Iran's relationship to Hezbollah. This could be for real for all I know, but my first thought is that this sounds an awful lot like the Iraq-al Qaeda propaganda we heard before the Iraq invasion.

Yet another bad effect of not having a formal investigation of the pre-Iraq lies is that we don't know whether or not we can trust it information we're getting about Iran's role in this new crisis.

Anyway, anybody know what's going on here?

[Drum expresses similar worries, noting that Yglesias does, too.]


Anonymous abjectfunk said...

I don't think so, but I think your post highlights the reason why this is the case.

We don't trust the people we are supposed to trust. There is ample reason for this, but it is still a very sad commentary on where we are.

Even if it proves to be true, there is no reason to think that the people reporting it had any idea if it actually was or not, or if the people offering it gave a a rat's ass.

This is the problem of the current press. No credibility really leads to a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. And, in my opinion, it didn't have to be like this.

But it is.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Actually another indictment of the bankruptcy of taking political rhetoric seriously in the first place.

There's a whole non-governmental world of information out there for the serious consumer of democracy.

Looking for it is every citizen's duty, not to mention every congressmember's. If you don't, then shut up, and for godsakes, don't vote.

And if the Democratic Party can actually separate itself from the world left, which is entirely hostile to Israel and unwilling to face up to Islamism, then I could actually vote Democrat sometime soon.

But the left, and the (D) party itself, has been MIA in world affairs since Lyndon Johnson concocted that Vietnam thing. They have freed not a single soul from murder and tyranny, with the exception of Bill Clinton going into Kosovo (which was a cool thing, and done without the approval of that friend-of-tyrants the UN, I might add). Meanwhile, since Vietnam, it's been the (formerly isolationist) American right, aided by the center-left UK and several other cool countries, has been instrumental in freeing tens if not hundreds of millions.

The left sat out the last quarter of the 20th century
in the fight against tyranny. The left was always pretty useless except for installing collectivist tyrannies over autocratic ones, but before that, the Democratic Party of these here United States was its fiercest warrior. I think what Peter Beinart's been trying to say is that the Democratic Party could once again lead the entire world against tyranny and murder, because the world left would lose its ideological and partisan excuses for its own impotence.

But first you gotta get real. 9-11 was in 2001. None of this is about Bush or even Iraq. The Sudanese genocide is Islamicist-based. The largest non-Western democracy in the world is India, and they suffer deeply at its hands as well, as y'all might have noticed the other day. The Norks are only a threat as far as they help these guys.

Ignore the Bushies. Read up on your own. Pick up a Qur'an. Find out who Sayyid Qutb was. Find a history of the Crusades. The siege of Vienna. Join the real reality-based community. I'm starting to think Beinart's right, and why I objected to Hilzoy's argument that all the left has the power to do is whine about the right's excesses. I'm hoping that the claims are true that the Democratic Party (and liberalism)are not synonymous with "the left," which if not morally bankrupt, is by its own account capable only of protest, not action.

It could be that y'all are the only ones who can get done what needs to be done.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

This is the problem of the current press. No credibility really leads to a damned if you do damned if you don't situation.

It's not all about you, mate, and even less about the press. Nobody's gonna put it on a silver platter for you. One would think you believe in some god who will judge you on your ability and accuracy in discerning moral matters.

A damned if you do or don't situation, because you are human. You will be wrong sometimes. It's in the handbook, even if there am no god.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Xanthippas said...

I question that talk as well. For one thing, it's all too easy to make completely baseless assumptions about Iran's involvement, while having no evidence whatsoever. Of course Iran has ties to the groups, but what of it in this particular instance? I don't think anybody knows, including the Bush administration, so it's irresponsible not only to make baseless accusations, but to make those accusations in the current climate of trouble we're in with Iran.

But for what it's worth, I think the Iranians would have to be off their rockers to have encouraged something like this. Whatever we think of Iran, they're not crazy, and it would be insanity to provoke this conflict between Hamas/Hezbollah and Israel, and run the risk of getting caught at it red-handed. Now, it's slightly more plausible that they might have let it happen, but what do they get out of it? When it comes to the actions of other nations, you always have to judge them first as rational actors in their own self-interest, and only consider them acting irrationally if you have evidence that they have in the past or are now. I personally can't answer the question of what Iran could be getting out of letting this happen, though the possiblity nonetheless exists that Iran thinks that they could get something out of it, but that they're misjudging.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may not be direct evidence, but I would be surprised if Iran wan't behind Hezbollah's recent actions. Iran founded Hezbollah, provides almost all of its funding, and therefore probably directs its leadership on actions like this. But Iran's desire to provoke Israel into creating chaos in Lebanon seems to be in its interest, not contrary to it. Iran and Islamists in the Middle East want to radicalize as many people as possible, for one thing. Israel's destruction of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and the civilians Israel kills in its bombing raids serve that purpose. Also, Israel holds Iran and Syria directly responsible for Hezbollah (which they are) but you don't see it attacking Iran. Why? Because Lebanon is a defenseless country that they can attack with near impunity whereas attacking Syria and Iran would be very costly to them and the world. So from my perspective Iran holds a lot of the cards. It can sit back comfortably and watch Israel try to turn Lebanese public opinion against Hezbollah. I believe just the opposite will happen and Islamists will gain more support, while moderates will be further weakend. Whenever civilians are harmed in attacks like Israel is carrying out, people don't think about "root causes" but about the immediate cause of their misery. That's why terrorism doesn't work as a strategy.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

When it comes to the actions of other nations, you always have to judge them first as rational actors in their own self-interest...

Aha, Mr. X.

The cheap thing would be to call them irrational, of course. Or one might even compare the mullahcracy to Saddam, who was incapable of discerning his own best interest, as when he pretended to have WMDs when he didn't.

But the real problem is varying definitions of self-interest. It's been said of one of my favorite political philosophers that he is of no help in the current crisis, as it is at its heart theological. Neither can the largely secular West do much more than scratch its collective head.

Now, if it's so that Iran wishes to gain leadership of world jihad (and recall, they are Shia, heretical in eyes of mainstream Islam, not Sunni Wahhabists like bin Laden and the House of Saud), then this whole charade makes perfect sense and aligns thoroughly with their self-interest. Their sect assumes the leadership of the religion, any heretic's dream.

There might be reason for the West to wish them success, however, in that the home of jihad becomes a state, not a bunch of stateless stumblebums.

States can be held responsible. For one thing, you can find them on a map and you know where to bomb them.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Kevin Drum (who is a good guy), drummed. Like the left and so far the Democratic Party, MIA. Again.

"Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."---George W. Bush

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Iran doesn't need to be Sunni to play a significant role in radicalizing a large fraction of the Muslim world. That's a nice quote from President Bush, but I'm not very confident that he knows how to assure the survival of liberty.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

God, Tom, you're not really quoting that moron, seemingly with a tear in your eye, are you?

Seriously, man. You need a reality check here.

Still at my folks'. More upon my return.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jeez, Tom, some pretty crappy analysis in that Ugly American post. Some looks like it might be good, though. Will scrutinize when I get back to NC.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

No, I was actually quoting a different moron. ;-)


1:50 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Tom, you're not really, actually, breathlessly quoting Bush upthread are you?

My god, man, what's it gonna take?

9:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

"Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

The student of history will recognize these words as actually originating with John F. Kennedy.

The student of politcs will admit that such notions would be ludicrous coming from the mouth of virtually any leader of the Democratic Party in the 21st century, including their last two presidential candidates.

The student of neither, altho the accent would be markedly different, still finds such words entirely appropriate for George W. Bush, whom I still support because he is one of the few serious men left on the world stage.

My God, WS, I've given up trying to figure out what it will take to for unserious people to believe that these are serious times. I just plant my little IEDs and quietly walk away. And even when they go off, the crickets blissfully continue to chirp.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yup, Kennedy alright. It didn't hit me. But believable out of his mouth...absurd out of Bush's.

Jeez, Tom, it's liberal centrists who recognize that the times are serious. We're the ones who wanted, for example, to take out al Qaeda instead of doing a half-assed job in Afghanistan, then putting it on hold in order to do a half-assed job in Iraq.

Bush has been the biggest disaster to hit American foreign policy in my lifetime. He's made the wrong decision at virtually every turn. He's not serious, and his followers aren't even serious enough to admit this.

ALMOST ANYONE would have done a better job after 9/11 than Bush. It's obvious that Gore would have, and Kerry would have as well. Because they are phenomenal statesmen? Well, Gore's pretty good, but neither are phenomenal. Rather, because those guys would, AT WORST, have done a *bad* job. It's hard for me to think of a serious presidential contender likely to do worse than Bush has done.

Look, Tom--these are, indeed, serious times. It's far past time to face up to that, and to face up to the fact that this president has botched things up in the profoundest possible way. This is not the time to stick with the party man, but, rather, the time to take up the objective view of things and try to actually, really, truly fix this godawful mess we're in.

9/11 was bad. Very bad. But Bush's moronic, dishonest, and utterly incompetent response--invade a completely unrelated country without planning for the aftermath--has been far, far, far worse. It's friendly fire that's hurt us most severely. And Bush is the trigger man.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Nothing is obvious, and history doesn't reveal its alternatives. Saddam could still be in power and be free of sanctions, merrily developing WMDs and happily rewarding the killers of Israelis, we could still have troops in the Saudi Holy Land keeping an eye on him, attracting more Islamist anger, and bin Laden could have slipped over the Pakistan border regardless of how many troops we sent to Tora Bora.

Running against Bush, who is not eligible for another term, is what's a waste of time. If the center-left (perhaps a minority in the Democratic Party) has any ideas, by all means they should reveal them. And by all means focus on 2006, not 2004.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Not sure what you're getting at here, Tom. You seem to be saying something like this:

Since Bush isn't running for re-election, it isn't rational to assess his performance in office.

Well, if there were anything else for those of us in the blogosphere to do, then we should be doing it. But as it is, what we do is evaluate. So unless you want to say that it's irrational for ordinary people to discuss politics, this point fails.

It's a neat attempt to get Bush of the hook...but it won't work. Guys on your side of the fence weren't talking like that when Clinton was in office, incidentally.

As for the first point, that's just silly. Nobody's talking about distant possibilities. We're talking about probabilities. And it's almost certain than almost anybody would have done a better job than Bush has done. Unless something miraculous happens, he will probably go down in history as one of our worst presidents. Note that I've ridiculed such claims in the past, but I can't deny it any more.

Hell, *I* would have done a better job, and I know enough to realize that I'd be a disaster as a president.

The difference between me and Bush--among, I hope, many, many others--is that I know my limitations.

3:23 PM  

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