“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Let's not attack Iran

LI has maintained, since 2004, that the U.S. won’t invade Iran. However, we wonder, in the light of recent news about U.S. naval deployments in the Gulf, whether the Bush administration is really planning to attack Iran. The proxy war against Hezbollah was a major disaster, and as we know, this administration has never met a disaster it hasn’t wanted to repeat. It is like being ruled by brain addled drivers from the demolition derby.

Fred Kaplan’s analysis in Slate is worth reading, even if it is larded with the usual U.S. propaganda about how much the people of Iran hate their gov. LI thinks the theocratic structure of the Iranian government is despicable, but I am not sure that I represent the feeling of the majority of Iranians. Somehow, an awful lot of them voted for their president – a fact easily wiped away from the board by the fact that Iran has a truly undemocratic system. Why, unlike in the U.S., for instance, the deciding factor in who is elected president is the majority of the vote. Shocking – no electoral college! As you can see, we are dealing with a bunch of undemocratic yahoos.

I was struck by this paragraph:

“More than that, the Iranian people—who, by all accounts, hate their government and like much about the United States—would regard the attack as an act of terror, a violation of sovereignty, a far more destructive replay of the nightmare of 1953, when the CIA helped overthrow the democratic government of Mohammad Mossadegh and installed the shah. Even if the attack somehow unseated the present regime, the new one might be no less anti-American, no less intent on acquiring nuclear weapons—an ambition that the attack would set back by only a few years in any case.”

The Iranian people, if Kaplan’s first sentence is true, share their sentiments with the American people, who by all accounts also hate their government and like much about the United States.

On Mars, as we know, the mission of the media is basically war fluffing – the dissemination of stories about the potential targets of aggression in which the target is so darkly colored that the essential fact – that Mars is the non-provoked aggressor – is hidden by a load of bilge.

In this respect, the media has been doing a fine job. Still, we don’t see how the war with Iran is going to come off. The lack of manpower we have already stressed. There is, also, the fact that the one hope the Bushies have for the upcoming election is that gas prices don’t skyrocket.

On the other hand, we believe the political savvy of the White House is vastly overrated. Like a heavyweight champion in a dull period in boxing, the GOP has simply not faced a worthy opponent. So maybe they would, actually, risk the spike in gas prices for their principle – the principle of perpetual profit for the war machine.

ps -- there is a nice piece by Hirsch at Newsweek on the diplomatic option -- Bush taking a leaf out of Nixon's China book.

Matt Yglesias very justly criticizes Hirsch for indulging in another Bush fantasy - everything about Hirsch's piece is right, except that there is no way our Rebel in Chief would do it. But I think that one thing became obvious in the run up to the Bush vanity war -- one has to play the politics of fantasy in America. This is true in all court societies, actually. Courts evolve flatterers and flattery evolves policy because it is the very nature of Courts to do so. Since the remnant of democracy in America gives voters a chance to flatter (and not, heavens no, to decide anything about policy issues - leave that to the Joe O'Beirnes of the world), there is hope that flattery can be used in a populist way. To move the Rebel in Chief to become the Nixonian diplomat, one has to work at making that scenario, with all the loathsome syncophancy of Bush, work as a flattery scenario that Bush cannot resist without chipping his imago among the crowd of zombies who think he is God's appointed.

I'm not sure how to successful wage such a policy via flattery myself, but the first thing to do is to recognize that vanity and money, alone, drive politics in this country. Crows such as myself, alas, don't make good flatterers.


ahfukit said...

I want to attack Iran. They're not doing anything constructive and they don't cheer that much. Let's get 'em.

I seem to recall big-ass military deployments 6-8 mos ahead of Iraq2. I also remember talk about seasonal/weather considerations. I seem to remember that this was months before Congress voted.

Just wondering. Is there (historically) some tipping point re the *extent* of deployment of vessels, hardware, etc, that virtually assures we will engage an enemy?

It can't be cheap to move all that stuff into place. Don't 'sunk costs' come into play?

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

They hate us for our Enlightenment Values and they're planning a New Caliphate. They won't rest content until we're all wearing burkhas! It would be disastrous if deranged theocrats got The Bomb.

roger said...

Mr. Ahfuhkit, yours is, I think, AJP Taylor's train schedule thesis about WWI --I've found this quote:

"The Austrian declaration of war on Serbia was pure theory; no action followed it. Now this gives the essential factor in the outbreak of the first world war. All the great powers, of whom there were five, or six counting Italy, had vast conscript armies. These armies of course were not maintained in peace time. They were brought together by mobilization. This factor had already counted before in the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, but this time there was a further complication.
All mobilization plans depended on railways. At that time the automobile was hardly used, certainly not as an instrument of mass transport, and railways demand time tables.
All the mobilization plans had been timed to the minute, months or even years before and they could not be changed. Modification in one direction would ruin them in every other direction. Any attempt for instance by the Austrians to mobilize against Serbia would mean that they could not then mobilize against Russian because two lots of trains would be running against each other. The same problem was to arise later for the Russians and in the end for the Germans who, having a plan to mobilize against France, could not switch round and mobilize again against Russia. Any alteration in the mobilization plan meant not a delay for 24 hours but for at least six months before the next lot of timetables were ready.
The Austrians could not mobilize against Serbia because this would mean that they were defenseless against Russia so they did not mobilize at all.
The Russians then thought they ought to stake out some claim to prove that they were going to support Serbia so the tsar and his advisers contemplated mobilization by only against Austria and this was actually ordered. Then the Russian generals who knew about the timetables pointed out that if they began to mobilize against Austria, they would then be totally defenseless against Germany because they could not then mobilize against Germany. Partial mobilization was scrapped. The next day the Russian generals said 'But this is terrible. We have done nothing.. Right, we will have general mobilization.' They were still hesitating and the chief of the general staff himself said that this was rather pushing things beyond what they wanted. They had no idea of a war against Germany or even against Austria. They wanted a threat, not a real preparation for war. Mobilization was a mere gesture.
The chief of the general staff rashly said in the tsar's presence 'It is very hard to decide.' The tsar who was one of the most weak-willed men there had ever been, was roused by this and said 'I will decide: general mobilization.' He then, according to his diary , having made this decision, went out, found a pleasant warm day and went for a bathe in the sea. His diary does not mention mobilization."

You will notice that the vacationing Tsar was a decider!

Anyway, this was Germany's response:

"The German mobilization plan actually laid down the first 40 days of the Germans invasion of France and none of it could be altered because if it did all the timetables would go wrong. Thus the decision for mobilization which the German general staff made and which Bethmann endorsed on 29 July was a decision for a general European war.
There was no deeper consideration in the background. Nothing was weighed except the technical point: if Russia mobilizes we must go to war. Serbia and Austria-Hungary were forgotten. The Germans declared war on Russia simply because Russia had mobilized.
The Germans were very stuck over France; they had no conceivable grievance against France. They demanded that France should promise neutrality, to which the French prime minister merely replied 'France will consult her own interests.' The Germans then invented an allegation that Nuremberg had been bombed by French plane. This was untrue. Whether there had ever been bombing I am not clear. It may be that a German plane had dropped bombs, but who did what did not matter; the thing was to get the war going. Thus the war came about mainly because of railway timetables."

ahfukit said...

History is rich. How come we ain't smart?