Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Smoking Gun re: Iran?

Not good. Not good at all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm shocked, shocked that Iranians are seeking to influence the situation in Iraq by arming the Shia side of the nascent civil war. If a Middle Eastern nation invaded Mexico or Canada, you can bet your bottom dollar that the US of A would sit idly by and just observe the proceedings. Yesiree, we all know that's true.


Why don't we just have Bush and Ahmedinejad draw pistols at dawn and save everyone else from the death, destruction and other shit that's coming down the pike because they feel they need to start another dick-measuring contest.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Andrew Olmsted post about the wisdom of going to war with Iran seems appropriate to bring up here.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overall, the Olmsted post was a very good one. I also think a couple of the comments are very instructive:

"While I appreciate your efforts to give a rational response to claims that any attack on Iran or Iranians will be defensive, that still grants an objectionable legitimacy to those claims. Realism requires a clear-eyed look at the threat posed by the U.S. Exclusive focus on how Iran might threaten us promotes an emotional and highly distorted assessment of the situation.

We have had covert operatives mounting attacks in Iran for at least months now. U.S. bases and troops ring Iran. We've taken Iranian diplomats and personnel by force in Iraq. We've set two carrier groups nearby (planes from which, I have no doubt, are buzzing Iran on a regular basis).

If what "Newsweek has learned" is true, that it's likely a third carrier group will join the Eisenhower and Stennis, then war is also, at a minimum, likely. ('The Hidden War With Iran' - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17086418/site/newsweek)

Big-picture realism: We need to get troops out of Iraq in an orderly manner, and to minimize the regional consequences of the disaster we've created.

Therefore, we need to engage Iran (and Syria and all the other countries in the region). Warmongering postpones the day when that becomes possible. "Coercive diplomacy" is not diplomacy; it's warmongering.

Nothing about the situation we are in with respect to Iran is defensive."

"We need to start planning our foreign policy based on more realism and less emotionalism. Every presidential candidate should write this on the blackboard 50 times a day. We're always staring into a great, dark unknown. But we're armed with Historical Analogies and Truisms- Chamberlain and Munich, JFK's near-miss with the Soviets, Vietnam, Nixon reproachment w/China, Reagan's stare-down of the Soviets, Israel and the Osirak facility, Desert Storm, 9/11, GWB's preemption of a non-WMD Iraq. Just last week, I read a blog that proclaimed that we're in a Weimar Republic moment vis-a-vis Iran and radical Islamists. Perhaps. Perhaps not. We (myself included) reach way too quickly for a historical analogy while sidestepping specific facts. It's tricky and dangerous business. We need to avoid the temptation and choose deliberate dispassion, as you suggest.

The Walrus wrote that historical analogies are good tools for understanding and rotten ones for predicting. I like that."

Moreover, Olmsted's analogy at the outset fails, because it would more accurately apply to the perspective of the Germans considering a course of action if they discovered Spain were secretly helping the Allies, since the Germans were the aggressors in European WW II, and the US is the aggressor in Iraq II.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Poor misunderstood little Iranian murderers. Who could blame them for killing our troops?

Good to see you touch on a right-wing blog, WS. Note the absence of warmongering:

If they are looking to trigger a war—both to get an increasingly dissatisfied Iranian population to rally behind them in the short term and to pursue their eschatological goals of bringing about some sort of apocalypse—the perhaps the worst thing we can do is engage them in open warfare.
I think we could certainly justify bombing EFP manufacturing facilities inside of Iran, but that might play into uniting the Iranian people behind their government; we don't want that.

No, Reynolds' black-ops suggestions, and those like them, make far more sense, though the use of our massive economic and political power towards the same goal might be even more advantageous.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, of course, Reynolds' black-ops suggestions make perfect sense for those who don't mind explicitly breaking the law:


and live in the fantasy world of Jack Bauer:


11:01 PM  
Blogger Mike Russo said...

This post does a very good job of showing why restrictions on arms sales are a *very very* good thing (seriously, Austria, what the hell were you thinking?), but I think the principle of double effect shreds this as a casus belli.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm good about following links, but I don't care what Yglesias or Greenwald think. You got something to say, I'm all ears.

I'm not sure if I'm down with the black ops, but I decided not to edit it out. But neither am I good with taking our troops getting killed lying down and don't see how any other American can be either.

But I sure hope we didn't have anything to do with this. Hehe.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I think is that the Iraqi government itself is neck-deep in Iranian sympathizers. In fact, the two Iranian attaches who were arrested at Sistani's compound were in Iraq with the permission of the Iraqi government.

So I ask you, can you tell me exactly who the *enemy* is in Iraq and what the hell we're doing there? Seriously, the guy's an asshole and most of what comes out of his mouth is bullshit, but Ahmedinejad had a point when he asked why the US Army is in Iraq.

You got something to say, I'm all ears.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

a) Ba'athist revanchists, Iranian sympathizers, and al-Qaeda (remember them?), whose only purpose is to set them all at each other's throats.

b) Defending them from you, Mr. Ahmadinejad, you Holocaust-denying, terrorist-financing piece of shit. There are a lot of decent people here in Iraq.

If you listen to our troops instead of Glenn Greenwald, you discover that they're proud of protecting the innocents of Iraq. If you yourself feel no moral duty to protect them yourself because you were against the war, at least get out of the way of those who will.

And see if you can work up some outrage at the real bad guys, the people who kill these heroes. Get a compass, man.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of which was a problem before Bush aggressively invaded, unprovoked. And don't insult my intelligence by trying to tell me AQ was a problem before we were there. Only a drinker of the neocon kool-aid really believes that.

And the Iranian sympathizers are part of the government! You seriously have no clue, perhaps even less than Bush if that's possible.

Other than that, thanks for that pep talk General MacArthur.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if you listen to our troops instead of some mythological ideal of what you think they say, or what the contrived meetings with Bush or Rumsfeld sound like, you'd see they're not too keen on the whole thing:



P.S. Not to mention, I'd be more interested in listening to the troops for POLICY guidance if 90% of them didn't think the war was in retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I also like the way you've adopted the Republican strategy of making opposition to the war equivalent to *hating the troops*. You kinda took it and made it your own, with style. Props on that.

And I'm in favor of protecting our troops by getting them the hell out of there, instead of babysitting the civil war that the Administration is at least partially responsible for. And I'm also in favor of actually funding the VA and giving them adequate armor and stuff like that. But that's only because I'm a crazy left-wing Commie. Right Rambo?

11:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

One way of looking at the problem:

It is very bad when two countries, each led by a person who is stupid and/or crazy and/or an ideological head case collide.

(It's bad enough, of course, if you have even one such country floating around.)

Our job as the American electorate is to keep our own morons and idiots out of power.

We failed.

Now it's a battle of the nitwits and nutjobs. We did a bunch of crazy-assed shit and got ourselves way, way, way out on a limb. Instructive metaphor, that...

And Ahmedinejad is sitting back near the trunk, holding a saw and shaking the limb.

He's a lunatic, of course...but we've done so much to screw our own brains out...well, I can only feel so sorry for us before the embarrassment sets in.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I couldn't agree more.

But at this point, anyone who's been paying attention realizes that there is NO military solution to the problem that is Iraq. 70+% of Iraqis approve of attacks on American servicemembers. The government is rife with dual loyalties to ethnic/sectarian interests and greater Iraqi interests. The security forces are infiltrated by the very militias they're ostensibly tasked with containing and disarming. The support of the commanders of the militias, btw, is essential to maintaining the current government.

Most Iraqis also feel that our military presence there is making the situation worse. Is this true? I really have no idea, but the evidence thus far for the efficacy of using military force to achieve what is essentially a political goal there is not effective.

It might be possible to salvage something by convening a regional conference of Iraq's neighbors, INCLUDING Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan and letting them come up with a plan to stabilize Iraq. The underpinning of such a conference should be the agreement that it's in none of these nations' interests to have a (potentially contagious) civil war in Iraq.

The problem is that that would require a real statesman, something we unfortunately don't have. Maybe Bush could be convinced to send Bill Richardson or Wesley Clark or somebody with a modicum of credibility to organize this, but I don't see any evidence that he could be.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evidence of what's really going on:


From Marshall's link:

"A senior defence analyst said US-led forces had evidence that Iran had stepped up shipments of EFPs, factory-built explosives designed to cut through armour, to armed Iraqi Shiite groups.

He said four Iranians arrested in January in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil were Al-Qods force officers who had no diplomatic cover and had tried to flush documents down a toilet as they were arrested.

He added that the Al-Qods force's top operations officer was detained in December in the compound of leading Shiite politician Abdel-Aziz Hakim with an inventory of weapons to be shipped, including mortars and sniper rifles.

Hakim's party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told the Americans that the weapons were meant for their protection, he added.

"We assess that these activities are coming from the senior levels of the Iranian government," he said, noting that the Al-Qods brigade reports to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei."

Therefore, assuming the arms are genuinely coming in to Iraq and to SCIRI from Iran, one of two things are true:

1. It is without the complicity of the Iranian authorities, via the black market. In which case they perhaps should not be branded as feuling the civil war we're in the middle of, although they can legitimately be said to not be adequately securing their border with Iraq.


2. The Iranian authorities are consciously encouraging or facilitating this, and are arming one side, or at least one of the most powerful sects of one side. If this is the case, one of our putative *allies* in Iraq, and a group that is essential to maintaining at least a patina of legitimacy for the government, is at a minimum receiving succor from Tehran (there may well be a more complete, as yet unknown, alliance).

So I ask you, or anyone, the following questions:

1. How are we to determine who is the *enemy* in Iraq?

2. What core principle or goal are we fighting for there?

3. What MILITARY strategy can counteract this metastatic relationship between Iran and portions of the population and body politic of Iraq?

4. How will we know when it's "safe" to leave or when the mission is *accomplished*?

2:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

It is very bad when two countries, each led by a person who is stupid and/or crazy and/or an ideological head case collide.

There's a difference between stupid and crazy, not to mention murderous, which Ahmadinejad is. Our people are there to protect innocent Iraqis, his are there to kill them.

Failure to apprehend that distinction is myopic, or worse.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

We know what our *people* are doing there...but the question is *what is our leader doing there*? Or, rather, why did he take us there?

As I've said many times, that question remains unanswered to this day.

Anyway, A-jad DOES seem to be crazy and murderous, Dubya just...what? Dumb and dishonest? But if "he's better than Ahmadinejad" is the best you got...well, you see the point...

Dumb and dishonest is, much of the time, what ultimately facilitates the success of crazy and murderous.

Bush has done more to help the cause of Islamic fundamentalism than any other person I can name. Sad but true.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Dumb and dishonest is, much of the time, what ultimately facilitates the success of crazy and murderous.

Can't buy that conflation. You want peace, you tend to get peace.

You can have Bush is stupid, made a bad call, and mismanaged the occupation. I'm trying to speak your language.

But Ahmadinejad or somebody is killing innocent Iraqis and our troops who are trying to protect them. We Americans have to look past our self-drawn battlelines somewhere.

Look, WS, by today's metrics, our Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression, as some still call it) could never pass muster. The tragedy was in that the south and perhaps half the north were fighting for the constitution. But our heroes today are those who saw it as a struggle for fundamental human rights.

If it ever was, it's not about oil or military bases or hubris anymore. The Islamic Republic of Iran has no right to its murder. If Bill Clinton's Kosovo incursion had gone to hell, I'd have tsk-tsked a bit, because I thought I knew better, but I would not have advocated surrender to whatever bastards were apparently winning by playing dirty pool.

I can't speak for everyone on my side of the aisle, but Clinton committed America to save innocent people, a good thing, and once committed, you follow through.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except Bush didn't commit America to "save innocent people", he committed America to *disarm* Saddam's regime, remember? Remember the pledges that "if he doesn't disarm, we will disarm him"? And the mushroom clouds?

Well, it seems there wasn't much to disarm, although we were in the process of finding that out the safer and cheaper way when all of a sudden it became an emergency to invade.

Then, post hoc, it became about spreading Democracy and Freedom (TM), and then about something else, to where finally it's about the need to 'save innocent people' who didn't need saving before we went in there in the first place.

Kind of gives *mission creep* a whole new meaning.

This is of course without even addressing the previously noted facts that the Iraqis don't want us there anymore anyway and believe we're doing more harm than good by staying.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Do you honestly believe that last bit? I don't.

I've seen the couple of polls that are endlessly trotted out, but I've also read countless reports on how many Iraqis realize they'll be dead if we leave. (Perhaps not from the sources you usually read.)

I think it would be decisive if you are correct, but I'd need more than what somebody says to a pollster. If the people of Iraq really wanted us out, a month of marches like are happening in Lebanon right now would probably do the trick.

I don't see them, zip, nada, zilch. So that's why I don't believe those polls represent reality.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. That poll result seems to replicate in a pretty robust way. Oddly enough, the implication in your statement about Iraqi expectations if we leave (increased violence) still doesn't prevent them from favoring us being completely out within a year:


The results of various polls seem to show the same sentiment about wanting us out.




And your belief in the war as a humanitarian intervention speaks well of you but not so much of the Bush administration.

I just can't imagine why anyone would still think that their main rationale was to help the Iraqi people when they did things like fail to secure ammo dumps, fail to provide even basic security after the invasion, assign the reconstruction to American contractors rather than the Iraqi civil service that already existed, import a general with a prior reputation for cruelty in the maintenance of prisoners to manage Abu Ghraib and the list goes on and on.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, it certainly does.

As previously noted, if Clinton's Kosovo adventure had gone sour, that I opposed it in the first place would make no difference on where to go from there.

"Within a year" is "someday," and is useful only rhetorically. If the Iraqis were out in the streets with Yankee Go Home, that would be far more sincere.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not too sure it's safe for Iraqis to gather in large crowds right now...

8:34 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

That didn't stop 2 million Iraqis a couple of weeks ago. All I ask is that you think about it.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be right. I really don't know. How many Iraqis in the streets in unison demanding that we leave would you find convincing? Not to mention they already tried it and didn't seem to have much success:



There were also 11,000 security forces there forming a "cordon" around the gathering, although I suppose the same could be mustered for a demonstration in favor of the US leaving Iraq.

What's also strange is that Aziz-Hakim's followers have been the recipients of Iranian arms that he claims they need *for defense*. And the Iranian attaches recently arrested were apprehended in his compound. So it's kind of strange that he's calling for an end to the bloodshed.

My initial impression of him early on was that he was genuinely interested in a peaceful and egalitarian Iraq, although now I'm not so sure. One of the reasons I think we should leave - we can't tell who the enemy is any more.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...


5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is, you can't just ask the military. They think, for good reason, that they can accomplish any task. But sometimes they can't. Not because of any of their shortcomings, but because certain problems don't have a military solution.

I submit that today's Iraq is one of those problems. The military solution didn't work in Lebanon or Algeria either. If you left it up to the Westmorelands of the world, we'd STILL be in Vietnam.

And even though I was initially very opposed to the war, up until a few months ago I opposed redeployment because I felt we had a responsibility to the Iraqis. The events of the past few months have convinced me that the Odoms and the Clarks of the world are right. This thing can't be won militarily, although it can be lost so.

I think the idea of a regional conference, with ALL of the players in the area involved in an effort to stabilize Iraq is the best chance. We have to convince them that a civil war in which the Sunnis and Shiites become proxies for other nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran in Iraq simply is not in their interests. Not to mention how Turkey would react to an independent Kurdish state on their border.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Convince? I appreciate the sentiment, but rhetoric is not reality.

7:25 PM  

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