Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Iran debate: really rather surreal

* yglesias (in full):
"The Iran debate has really become rather surreal. You have the "Islamofascist" locution jumping from the fever swamps of rightwing punditry into the mouth of the President of the United States. You have the Secretary of Defense issuing dire warnings of another Munich. These things are being done by the exact same people who, four years ago, were utterly dismissive of claims that invading Iraq was likely to serve Iranian interests better than American ones. Indeed, you have the exact same people who two years ago were assuring us that it made sense to commit American blood and treasure to fight Sunni insurgents on behalf of Iranian-backed Shiite militias now saying we need to commit more blood and treasure in Iraq to stop . . . Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

You have Richard Cohen, who backed the Iraq War and came to regret it, turning around and saying it's time to party like it's 1938. Meanwhile, this entire view of the world has, as best I can tell, no relationship whatsoever to reality.

Via Kevin Drum, David Ignatius is in Iran and reports that though "you might expect that Tehran would feel like a garrison town" it's actually surprisingly relaxed. But why might you expect that Teheran would feel like a garrison town? Well, you would if you've been following the media's dubious, highly-spun coverage of the issue. But you wouldn't if you asked yourself some basic questions. For example, if Iran is preparing to mount a Hitler-style bid for world domination they must be engaged in a big military build-up, right? But there is no such build up. Maybe there's no need for a build-up because the Iranian military is already so vast and mighty? Well, no. Iran has a defense budget of about $6 billion a year.

The United States spends over 50 times more than that. But perhaps comparisons to the USA are misleading. Lets compare our would-be regional hegemon to its neighbors. Well, Israel spends $9.6 billion and Saudi Arabia spends $25.2 billion. Pakistan, immediately adjacent to Iran and nuclear armed, actually has engaged in a recent defense buildup. What kind of quest for hegemony is Iran supposed to be on? Ignorant American pundits and television personalities may be unaware of these facts, but surely Iranian military and intelligence officials have noticed that Iran has no capacity whatsoever to conquer the region.

Meanwhile, the freaky and unpredictable Iranian regime has actually been in power for a very long time. Since before I was born. The regime is not only long-entrenched, but quite corrupt. Mightn't this lead you think it's being run by reasonably comfortable men who enjoy the fruits of power, intend to stay in power, and know a thing or two about maintaining their power rather than by irrational lunatics who've been waiting in the wings for 27 years preparing to spring their bid for world domination upon us without first having acquired so much as a single modern tank?

And then there's the small matter that our purported would-be Hitlers in Teheran were trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the United States as recently as 2003. Their proposal was rejected by the Bush administration. Not rejected, I remind you, because the Bushies found the details of the proposal inadequate and Teheran refused to compromise further. No! It was rejected without any effort at negotiation because, at the time, the administration was busy threatening to overthrow the government of Iran as the second or third item in an ambitious plan to overthrow every government in the region.

So, here's Iran. Outgunned by its two leading religio-ideological antagonists, Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the region. One immediate neighbor is Pakistan, with a larger population base and a nuclear arsenal. Another immediate neighbor, Afghanistan, is occupied by soldiers under the command of an American president who has spurned peace offers and threatened to overthrow the Iranian government. A second immediate neighbor, Iraq, is occupied by a larger number of soldiers from the same country. The Iranian military's equipment is outdated and essentially incapable of mounting offensive operations. So Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Under the circumstances, wouldn't you? Don't you think a little deterrence capability would serve the country well under those circumstances?

I'm sorry to have gone on at such great length here, and a little nervous about stepping outside the "sensible" zone with my commentary on this topic, but somebody needs to call bull$#*t on the prevailing elite consensus about Iran. Of course it would be better to find a way to persuade, cajole, whatever Iran out of going nuclear -- the spread of nuclear weapons is, as such, bad for the USA. But there's no need -- absolutely no need -- for this atmosphere of panic and paranoia."
(embedded links at the source)


Uranus said...

I've been making a radical claim on this subject in different online forums since the first of the year. While no one refutes it, or even addresses it, I'm sure more than a few people think I've lost my mind. However, I am still convinced there is but one inescapable conclusion to be drawn about the war in Iran.

Before I tell you what that claim is, please make the time to read this very lengthy, authoritative article from Global Research. In fact, I'd go so far as to say if you read nothing else this year, read this article. Click the embedded links, and understand what it all means. It tells about the United States' plan for war with Iran and the role of robust nuclear earth penetrators (RNEPs).

After you read that, take a look at this short flash animation created by the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding the environmental impact of using RNEPs in Iran.

RNEPs were developed to attack command centers in mountain caves. Mounted to missiles, they are very effective for that purpose. When fired into a cave, the people who aren't killed by percussion or incineration die from suffocation, as the explosion consumes the air in the cave. Also, caves are fairly effective at containing the radiation emitted from the explosion.

The U.S. plan is to use this weapon to attack deeply buried, hardened bunkers in Iran where chemical and nuclear weapons and production are located. This tactic and weapon are wrong because (1) we don't have exact coordinates locating the bunkers; (2) RNEPs lack the ability to penetrate the earth deeply enough to destroy those bunkers; (3) the plan is not to mount them to guided missiles but drop them like bombs, so their use is not as accurate as the military pretends to believe; (4) there is no natural structure to contain the radiation, as in a cave, so these weapons are not the clean weapon the military pretends to believe.

If you've read the article and watched the animation, you know (1) using a single RNEP this way will shower radioactive fallout on 35 million people downwind within 48 hours; and (2) the United States plans to attack 400 different sites throughout Iran, some of the sites with more than one RNEP. From these facts, what should we assume? That the military's prewar estimate of 10,000 deaths is accurate?

Do the math yourself. The initial "shock and awe" attack with RNEPs in Iran will kill more like 10-50 MILLION people within days or weeks. The planners pretend to conveniently ignore this aspect of the war in Iran, but that doesn't mean they're unaware of it.

This brings us to my radical claim. Some very respected analysts and writers have stated Russia and China will not stand idly by and allow us to attack Iran, with whom they have big, long-term contracts for petroleum; indeed, they'll do what they can to hurt us, badly, and that's logical. But no one addresses the indisputable fact that millions of innocent people in other countries will perish from the radioactive fallout launched by this poorly designed attack. It's my contention that the world will not stand idly by and do nothing, and that an attack on the continental United States using tactical nuclear weapons, the big hydrogen warheads, is a virtual certainty.

Furthermore, I contend that it is Bush and Cheney's deliberate intention to provoke such an attack. The U.S. response would be to retaliate with tactical weapons. While this could spur mutually assured destruction, it needn't do that render the planet's atmosphere unfit for habitation. Remember, cities are larger than they were in the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the warheads are a thousand times larger, or more. The destruction of a handful of the world's major cities would send enough radioactive dust into the atmosphere to exterminate humanity, and most living things.

I contend and insist that it is the intentional, purposeful design of the war as planned with Iran to do just that, and thereby fulfill the PNAC prophecy. PNAC's authors understood the rich can hardly have almighty wealth if they have to share it with a growing population--and the more people they can kill, the more wealth is left for them...

...and these people, who are smart enough to come up with this idiotic plan, are not smart enough to know that a world that has been destroyed by nuclear warfare is not really worth owning (or capable of sustaining even their blessed lives). It's a radical claim. But after seeing these peabrains in action, can you say you doubt it completely?

LeeB said...

It appears to be right in character with everything else these @$$holes have been inflicting on this planet. The Rapture crowd encourages them, too - they're all mad as hatters.

I posted your link on the "Questions for the Show" message board for Thom Hartmann. I'll let you know if I get a response. You can check it out for yourself at On Air Questions for Thom Hartmann. The man does his research, and the subject of how far can these madmen push it before the military gets a clue and refuses to carry out any more illegal orders has been discussed by a bunch of callers lately. He is one who does NOT dismiss this kind of thing as being too "out there" to be believed, so I hope he'll take it on. His show is syndicated by Air America Radio and streamed by the one I listen to in Seattle. I should get some kind of commission, I've been plugging his show so much lately! :-)

Uranus said...

Thanks, and thanks for studying those links. I've been on the edge of my seat all year after seeing that stuff, and while it's only my opinion, it seems to me the opportunity for global cataclysm is self evident. There was a murmur of provoking a nuclear attack on the U.S. early in the discussion of using RNEPs in Iran, but that talk was quickly hushed. How idiotic, how suicidal, how psychotic the Pat Robertson-FOX News crowd look now, speaking so authoritatively, about the need to attack Iran NOW. You saw the fallout cloud. They want to attack 400 places, maybe more. What if they use 1,000 RNEPs? Nothing like that has ever been done; that is, shower that many people with that much fallout.

If you liked those links, try this one. It tells you nuclear war is survivable, and shows you how to build your own fallout shelter. This is more government propaganda. Hydrogen warheads have never been used on urban targets. And the shelter they suggest won't protect you from the shock wave or heat produced if you're within 60 miles of ground zero.

Uranus said...

Well, I looked at that last site, and it has changed since I saw it earlier this year. Now they want you to buy books and DVDs telling you how to do it. Earlier it showed a cutaway diagram of a trench you could dig, covering the ends with cloth to prevent the intrusion of fallout. They hastened to point out the main thing you need is plenty of clean water, since that would be almost impossible to get after a nuclear attack. Ridiculous! You need a large underground facility with a dedicated fresh air and water supply, plenty of food, and something more...once you can breath above ground, the willingness to die in a world where you can't grow anything.

Oh, well. That's my two cents for today! Please do spread the word. War with Iran is so much more than an election year issue. We could all perish before year's end if this administration does what it plans.