Monday, August 28, 2006

the jim henley edition

* henley:
"Past that, I have a certain rueful sympathy for the GOP devils. The war in Iraq has swallowed American politics because the war in Iraq and what it augurs are overridingly important. If you believe strongly in the war, it only makes sense that you’d support the Party that started it for you. If you reject the war, the assumptions that led to it and the implications that follow from it, you’ll reject that same Party and President. Many of us dovish libertarians now embrace politicians we’d never have had much use for because of the war and constellated issues (civil liberties etc.). War swallows up lesser distinctions. That, God help us, is what so many people like about it."

* henley:
"The push is clearly on for war with Iran. Most of the features of the last “crisis” repeat in this one. Officials and their auxiliaries deem conditions that have obtained for years to somehow suddenly be a “crisis.” People who despise the United Nations argue that we must act in defiance of the UN to save its honor. Partisans accuse the intelligence bureaucracy of hiding the awful truth. People who want to bomb foreigners accuse people who don’t want to bomb foreigners of lacking compassion. Not coincidentally, there’s an election approaching. I’m as bored with it as you are.

But it’s worth asking, So what’s the plan, anyway? We don’t have the ground forces to conquer and hold Iran. We have a lot of air power. But the claim that “we know too little about Iran’s nuclear program” (pdf) goes poorly with the idea that “We should destroy Iran’s nuclear program by surgical bombing.” (Someone else made this point. Thoreau? Speak up.) So like, what, huh?

I think the answer is, “The Halutz Plan.” It will be a punitive bombing campaign designed to either “inspire” some little-discerned opposition into overthrowing the Mullahs or pressuring the Mullahs themselves to agree to some sort of intrusive monitoring program. The US will aim to turn the intrusive monitoring program itself into one more source of pressure on the regime, in the same way UNSCOM became an auxiliary of the US program for regime change in Iraq in the 1990s. We’ll loudly announce that we’re attacking “key nuclear sites” but also “critical infrastructure supporting the regimes weapon programs and terror support.” In practice this will mean bridges and power plants and dams and water treatment facilities - it will, in other words, be a strategic bombing campaign.
Many reports indicate that the US positively egged Israel on to “smash Hezbollah.” I suspect it was both an attempt to remove one of Iran’s cards to play in the US-Iran war and a dry run for the US-Iran war. We’ll have even less going for us than Israel did: bigger objectives, less motivation, paltrier means. We’ll make a big noise, break a lot of crockery and kill a bunch of people. The plans to do this will be entertained with utmost seriousness. Later on, the same people will promise that the next war will solve the problems caused by this one."

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