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The Dangers - Then and Now - of a Pre-Emptive Strike

News Abroad




Mr. Simon, a former Harvard University national security analyst, is writing an alternative history of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He lives in Washington. He is a writer for the History News Service.

Reports that Pentagon officials are actively discussing plans for using nuclear weapons to prevent Iran from building its own A-bomb reveal that President Bush is falling victim to the same lack of imagination that led John F. Kennedy to think he could attack China to keep it from getting the bomb without igniting a major war.

Even more worrisome is the catastrophic possibility that Bush will form another" coalition of the willing" by teaming up with Israel in a joint attack on Iran.

Kennedy's failure to grasp the consequence of his plan to bomb China 45 years ago in circumstances remarkably like today's show how easily President Bush could stumble into a major new war in the Middle East.

A nuclear-armed China would be a"great menace in the future to humanity, the free world and freedom on earth," Kennedy told a visiting French diplomat in January 1963. Kennedy's words are eerily similar to Bush's January statement that an Iran with nuclear weapons would be"a grave threat to the security of the world."

So far the Bush administration has wisely allowed the international community to take the lead in responding to the threat from Iran. These international efforts to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions have been halting but still hold promise. Recently, European Union officials discussed diplomatic and economic sanctions against Iran for the first time and urged Iran to comply with a United Nations request to halt its nuclear enrichment program.

Iran's announcement this week that its uranium-enrichment efforts have passed a new milestone are more show than substance and do not significantly set back international efforts to end its nuclear program.

In the early 1960s Kennedy had much less to work with diplomatically. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, did not yet exist and China was not to join the United Nations for another decade. Also, China's self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world made it all but impervious to trade restrictions or other economic sanctions.

The paucity of means helped lead to JFK's flirtation with the military option. This pursuit, particularly his desire for a covert international coalition, illustrate the dangers that may lie ahead for President Bush.

Kennedy considered striking"Red China" unilaterally, but he also thought he had a better idea. He believed Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev could be persuaded to take military action to stop China's A-bomb program. The most frightening scenario was for a joint nuclear strike: A U.S. and a Soviet plane would fly together over China's nuclear facilities and each would drop a bomb. Only one of the bombs would detonate, making it impossible to determine whether the U.S. or Russian weapon had produced the mushroom cloud over the ruins of China's nuclear facilities. This scheme is reminiscent of a firing squad in which every member but one shoots blanks at the victim. White House planners must have somehow believed their nuclear firing squad would likewise absolve the United States of full accountability.

The consequences of a U.S.-Soviet strike on China, including all-out war between China, Russia and the United States, are mind-boggling to contemplate. If Bush administration officials war-game Kennedy's China policy they may realize that a nuclear strike on Iran's processing sites, killing an estimated 10,000, would have similarly dire consequences.

Even if the United States were to act unilaterally, Iran would likely respond militarily against our forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, perhaps with other Middle East nations. The United States would also have to anticipate an unprecedented wave of terrorism for generations to come. In this context, alienating our allies worldwide would be the least of our concerns.

It's not known if there have been discussions, in Washington or Tel Aviv, about a joint strike, but Israel today, unlike Russia in 1963, seems a willing partner. Israel, which bombed an Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981 to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons, was determined to keep Iran from getting the bomb even before Irans president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Israel should be"wiped off the map."

But if the United States were to enlist Israel's considerable expertise and knowledge of Iran to assist in an attack, the consequences would multiply exponentially. Just imagine: Two nations already suspected in the Middle East of collusion against the Arab world actually be joining forces to attack a Muslim nation in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

The Kennedy administration's China debate continued under President Lyndon Johnson but a new intelligence assessment downplaying the danger allowed cooler heads to prevail. China detonated its first nuclear weapon on October 16, 1964, and Kennedy's fears China would use its nuclear arsenal to bully Asia have proved groundless.

With any luck cooler heads will also win today's debate in Washington over Iran and the world will again be spared the disastrous consequences that can come from a president's failure of imagination.



This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.


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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Clarke
It is a thorny propostion ,I agree, but is equally the only way, I can see, NOT to :"..invariably, transport a subject from the realm of intellectual exchange to polemics and PR!"
An example:
A-Palestinian bombings , which I neither condemn nor support here, have INVARIABLY been labelled as "terrorist" attacks presumably for the civilian casualties they inflicted, including women and children.
B- Israeli bombing ,with guided missiles, of residential buildings in Nablus and Gaza, inter alia, leading to a greater number of civilian casualties, including women and children, were NEVER labelled as "terrorist" acts!!
If any thing Israeli bombings, by using the SAME criteria for both , are more of "terrorist" acts than the Palestinians' for the more lethal weapons (tools of terror)used and the greater number of casualties inflicted!

HAMAS is boycotted by the WEST for ,presumably, being a "terrorist" organization; Israel is NOT .
Although , if we use the same scale for their respective acts, both have committed acts of "terror" and both are "terrorists" !
That is how events are portrayed by Western media, the exact opposite by Arab media; both are indulging in polemics and PR!
To me , being in a state of war, both are warring " violent armed adversaries" is the correct and exact depiction of the situation!
Re your "murder" and "self defense" argument; laws, all over the world, have established rules and criteria to distinguish between the two acts!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman!
Pre 9/11 there were, there still are, very serious grievances , objections and deep resentment to US policy in the ME particularly re the Palestinian /Israeli conflict.(To pretend otherwise is inane.)
9/11 was the reaction of a certain segment, then a small minority, to this policy and was what that segment perceived to be retaliation against it.
The indiscriminate reaction of the Bush/Wolfowitz administration which lashed out against any thing and everything Arab and/or Moslem , practically declaring all out war that targeted "everybody" as enemy, propelled that minority, through the support of "everybody", into the status it enjoys now.... with " Osma bin Laden (standing for violent virulently anti Western J/C Islamism) the icon that he is now."
The few brave voices that were raised post 9/11 understood, correctly, that 9/11 was the symptom of a deep malaise in Arab/Moslem-US relations, to which a "minority " reacted the way it did, and called for a reappraisal of those US policies before that "minority" becomes a "majority".
The indiscriminate reaction of the Bush/Wolfowitz administration ensured that rapid transition ; a real triumph to a one time "minority" that enjoys now the overwhelming support of the "majority"!
After the invasion and conquest of Iraq, the crucial turning point, Wolfowitz, his mission accomplished, saw fit to withdraw and leave it to others to receive the flak!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Clarke
Israel has committed more terrorist acts , be it "state terrorism" from the air and on the ground or "settlers terrorism" that included the outright shooting of children, than the Palestinians ever did both in number and in scope!
Either we use the same term for the same act, and both are "terrorists", use a different neutral term , as I propose, or we are applying a double standard that we will NOT recognize!
I understand your well meant call to "pull yourself" to STAND UP but I am certain that as long as the same act is described as "terrorist" ,if committed by one party, and other than "terrorist ", if by the other, the moral high ground where you want us to Stand, will never be recognized and nothing will come out of it with the ongoing brain washing campaign by the Western media to which you are here, unconsciously, contributing.
For your information since April 1st/2006 up to this day the latest count is that 28 Palestinians , including a five years old child, were killed by the Israelis versus 12 Israelis in the latest Tel Aviv bombing.

You tell me how both of these facts were reported by Western media!

(As we correspond some more killing might be going on about which WE will be informed with the evening news but not necessarily you; it will depend on who did the killing!)


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

I truly enjoy your duels and repartees, often of interest to me and more often of less interest, but chose to watch than participate .
However in your latest seance, above, I believe I have something pertinent to add.
For MR Friedman's cause it is essential that the hypothetical Islam/West confrontation should be described as inevitable, bound to escalate and must be resisted by a common Christian/Judeo (Friedman's implied priority)front.Inflame it and exacerbate it if it shows signs of abetting!
That would consolidate the C/J front.
Mr Clarke is less fatalistic about it in spite of his often hurried and insufficiently considered evaluation of the Iran regime in particular and Islamism in general.
My point is : more than any other single factor Bush's reaction to the horrendous 9/11, by lashing indiscriminately on anything and everything Arab and/or Moslem, is what made Osma bin Laden (standing for violent virulently anti Western J/C Islamism)the icon that he is now.
Osma bin Laden would have never attained the status , influence, public support and devotion he enjoys now except for the all out war declared on Islam by the Bush/Wolfowitz administration on Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian people and now on Iran and Hamas .
If we recall the days that succeeded 9/11 some brave voices were raised in the USA demanding a reevaluation of US policy in the Middle East.These voices were immediately silenced and very little is heard from them now; to the mutual grave,and potentially future much graver, loss of both parties.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

As long as the correct terminology , in the sense of technical terms of a particular subject, is NOT used in any discussion the thinking which it formulates and brings out is bound to be defective and will , invariably, transport a subject from the realm of intellectual exchange to polemics and PR!
I refer here to the often used , and oftener abused, term "terror" and its main derivatives "terrorism" and "terrorists".
The Oxford dictionary defines "terror" as "extreme fear", "terrorism" as "use of violence and threat of violence, esp. for political purposes" and "terrorist" as "person who supports or participates in terrorism".
If we start with the root term "terror" the inevitable implication is that any thing which inspires "extreme fear", such as the use of weapons, is an act of "terrorism" and the more modern and lethal these "tools" of "terrorism" are the more of a "terrorizing" effect they have and the more of a "terrorist" is the party that uses them and believes in their use .
As such all parties to an armed conflict are "terrorists" out to "terrorize" their adversaries into submission.
But they are all "terrorists" in varying degrees of "terrorism" depending on the number and lethality of the "terrorizing" tools, ie weapons, they use!
This also means, in the context of this discussion, that the USA, Israel, the Iraqi nationalist and Islamist Insurgents and the Palestinian resistance (Hamas , Fatah, PFLP etc), in this descending order, are all "terrorists" practicing "terror" in Iraq and Palestine to achieve their respective goals.
I, therefore, propose that the term "violent or armed adversary" shall be used instead of "terrorist" if we want to be exact in what we say and what we mean to avoid reaching more wrong conclusions than we already have.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
You state (#86949):
"There is not a straw of evidence that Israel seeks to acquire any land that is not already in the country's hands."

Well I guess that you are partly right here where the operative part of your statement is:"...to acquire any land that is not already in the country's hands."
That, obviously, includes the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem, the lands on which settlements were and are being constructed and expanded the WAll and THE GOLAN!
All of these are presently in Israel's hand and as such are, according to you, subject to be being "acquired".
All these lands have come into Israel's "hands" as a result of war which means, according to your dictum, more lands are liable to be "acquired" in case of a new war in which more lands fall into Israel's "hands"; not an unlikely proposition.
I would go further and state that part of Israel pre 1967 lands were acquired in an expansionist move borne out of an expansionist dogma since they included more land than was allotted to it by the UNGA Partition resolution (72 vs 52%) on which Israel bases its legal presence in Palestine.
That is expansionism pure and simple; "acquire" more land when the opportunity arises and more lands fall into your “hands”!.

You also state:
"The problem is that what people believe and the facts are nearly the opposite. So, it is the people of the region who need to consider that their position is simply wrong."

Do I have to remind you that a people decides on its defense policy according to its own perception of the dangers that threaten it from its perceived enemy and NOT according to what that enemy says his intentions are!
That is A, B & C!
That being the case Iran is within its legitimate sovereign rights to acquire the wherewithal to defend itself and to hinder and frustrate Israeli expansionist designs and ambitions to regional hegemony.
As an ALIEN implant and an outpost and extension of western imperialism Israel, with its expansionist record outlined above, will be constantly perceived as an EXPANSIONIST entity and as such will NEVER be trusted nor accepted in the region.
That perception, formerly restricted to the Arabs, is now shared by Iran and Turkey will join soon enough.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

It is totally incorrect to claim that Iran proclaims that it wants "nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel"!
Iran disclaims any desire to have nuclear weapons at all and insists that is is after nuclear technology for peaceful purposes including future energy needs!
For obvious reasons, including a possible US and/or Israeli attack, US media integrated and extrapolated Iran's positions on several diverse issues to create the impression you have . It has no basis in declared Irani policies.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Clarke
I have never tried to:"... rationalize Palestinian terrorism by saying that the Israelis do it too."
Look carefully at what I have written and you will find that all that I am advocating is that the same term should be used to describe the same act irrespective of the doer!

The minute Western media starts describing Israeli acts as "terrorism"
I will concede the level play field and condemn both !

To carry the subject a little further; have you not noticed that the use of the term "terror" and its derivatives have been substantially restricted to acts of violence by nationals of the Arab/Moslem community?
And that only Arab/Moslem perpetrators of acts of violence have been invariably and consistently depicted as "terrorists" whereas others who have committed acts of equally objectionable violence the Israelis, both official and settlers, ETA, the IRA, the Provos UDF,etc etc have been severally described as "insurgents", "fighters","gun men", "fanatics" etc and very rarely as "terrorists" and that, by the way, none of the above organizations have been "officially" classified as "terrorist" organization except ....
It has been "official" US and West European policy to single out the Arabs and the Moslems for this ugly appellation by officially formulating(the US) and accepting (the EU) the term "War on Terror" for their present campaign.
Had it been called "War on Ben Ladinism" or even "War on Jihadism" or "War on Islamic Fanaticism " or any
such appellation it would have been more accurate and foe-specific and not encompassing all insurgents and resistance fighters .
It would have been also less fraught with the ,implied, condemnation of a whole community ; which is the real purpose for this particular choice of name!

Relevant instances from history:
-Whereas the term "Crusades" was universally adopted by the Christian world and Western Jewish and Christian historians , to denote its all encompassing Cross embracing character, Arab historians, being more foe specific, called it "Harb al Firanjah=War of the Foreigners"!
-More recently and since the 1920s our war was against colonialist Zionism.
I digressed but thought it worthwhile to air some thoughts on the subject.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

That had nothing to do with blame!
It has something to do with a wider look at things :
a-The USA, through Clinton, came in with its first real effort at a "comprehensive" Palestinian/Israeli settlement too late and too weak to impose a "political" solution; which is the only way ,if any at all!
b-Barak, either out of second thoughts or implementing a master plan, did his bit in scuttling the preliminary agreement reached in Taba and burying for decades to come the prospect of a "negotiated peace".(Consider the developments since!)
c-The Israeli ruling establishment did not want peace except at its own terms (total Palestinian submission which Taba was NOT**)and engineered a change of direction by:
-Condoning Sharon's highly provocative visit, in terms of timing and political significance, to the Haram Al Sharif site and
-Allowing Barak to lead Labour to its foretold defeat.
d-Net outcome:With Bush Jr , now, an Israeli imposed settlement is favourably regarded , politicaly supported and soon financially too by the USA unless the Iran thing goes out of hand!
Blame has nothing to do with the making of history; Taba could have been that epoch making deal!

** Arafaat, irrespective of his own stand ,was made to accept Taba under intense Saudi and Egyptian pressure; his two perennial prime movers.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Not correct that my proposal is :" ... to stop calling acts of terrorism acts of terrorism."
Either all acts of terrorism, including Israel's, are designated as such or none!
That is my proposal.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

I never claimed nor implied that Bush's all out war was out of a "true Christian faith"!
Moslems have carefully noted the anti war on Iraq stand of main stream Christian Churches.
The overall war was hatched, planned and implemented by the neocon/Zionist alliance!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Clarke
I understand your concern ; you do not understand mine!
The word "terror" has become so impregnated with negative implications , connotations and insinuations in public conscientiousness that its exclusive use to one side of the conflict not only degrades the nature of his fight but also automatically depicts one side as the "barbarian" in the conflict.
Whereas an equally or more violent act that has been committed by the other side with as many ,if not more,civilian casualties is depicted by other terms.(I do not have to tell you that words/ names have meaning, implications and associations!)
The destruction of residential buildings in Nablus and Gaza, inter alia, by Israeli missiles from the air( number of casualties :women , children etc 48 in Nablus and 36 in Gaza ) was variously depicted by Western media by many terms but never as "terrorism" which automatically makes it less "barbarian" while , in truth, it is much more so.

By any moral or legal standard ( number of civilian casualties, number of children, women, old people etc) , and in view of the huge imbalance in armament and lethal capability between the usurper/aggressor and the indigenous occupied, Israeli acts are much more acts of "terror" committed by "terrorists" (the Israeli army and settlers) than any thing ever done by the Palestinians!
It is this automatic association of the term "terror" with one side, and the implied acquittal of the other, that prodded me to propose what I did.
I think it would be fair, equitable and ,possibly, leading to a better exchange of ideas and opinions if used on the very limited scale that is HNN and I stand by it irrespective of your well meaning objection!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman!
It is not only that you digress but you do fly the camp completely.
This last episode of our perennial exchange had for a subject your contention in your post #67242 that: "But, then you (Omar)write, contradicting your own logic...".
My post #87319 addressed to you by name was ,obviously the refutation of that charge of "contradicting myself" to which you replied ,post # 87357 , saying many things, none of value, to obfuscate and sideline the point while totally avoiding the, absurd, charge of contradicting my self !
(Please do not go on parading your assumed knowledge, e.g. re Said Kutub when it is irrelevant to the point; you impress nobody that way!)
I understand very well your, and yours, desire to frustrate and impede any possible free exchange of ideas, opinion and info between the Arab/Moslem camp, represented by my humble self on this Forum, and the 100% American camp, which does NOT include YOU, even on the very limited, but respectable, scale that is HHN Forum!
Withholding, misrepresenting or totally disfiguring info and opinion of the Arab/Moslem side is something that Murdoch's Fox News can get away with; but you can not do that here on HNN.

You should know that by now .

It is not only dishonest and immoral but is equally deeply disrespectful of the intelligence of others!

You should apologize, not to me, but to the others that you have often insulted with your cheap tricks!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Everything,almost, have been said on the Iran nuclear issue except some obvious points.
1- Arabs and Moslems have very strong reasons to believe that Zionist Israel is an aggressive, expansionist state hell bent on acquiring more and richer land that will enable it to dominate the Middle East. Its conduct since the 1967 war leaves no room for doubt.
2- With its nuclear arsenal and its strategic alliance with the USA Israel will be unstoppable except with a nuclear deterrent to nullify its nuclear military superiority; thus the need to acquire it .
3-A nuclear capability can be of great use in other things than nuclear arms.
4- It is unacceptable that Israel, and the USA for that matter, can be trusted with nuclear arms while the others can not.
That would imply sovereign political subservience or moral inferiority; both utterly unacceptable.
So why NOT total international nuclear disarmament starting with the Middle East?


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman is a very hard man to follow.
His urge always to say something, any thing, affects his memory and his consistency of thought and word, if any at all!
His usual safe recourse is to post (copy and paste) long dull passages of often suspect, and oftener irrelevant, quotes to hide behind.

A typical recent example:

“The Jews occupy huge portions of Qutb's Koranic commentary -- their perfidy, greed, hatefulness, diabolical impulses, never-ending conspiracies and plots against Muhammad and Islam. Qutb was relentless on these themes. He looked on Zionism as part of the eternal campaign by the Jews to destroy Islam.”
(Re: Abated? (#87164)
by N. Friedman on April 20, 2006 at 10:01 AM)

And:

“Israel was not on the al Qaeda agenda over the course of a decade.”
(Re: Paging Mr. Baker... (#87357)
by N. Friedman on April 21, 2006 at 1:17 PM)

How are we to reconcile?

a-“. He looked on Zionism as part of the eternal campaign by the Jews to destroy Islam.”

With

b-“Israel was not on the al Qaeda agenda over the course of a decade.”???

Noting that the time elapsed between the two posts is LESS than 36 hours!

However the superficial, facile, thinking behind posting (a) and (b) is to ridiculously claim:
-From (a); that Islam is an old enemy of Zionism irrespective of any thing else including the invasion, conquest and colonization of Palestine ( the momentous Zionist triumph)!
-From (b): that 9/11, Al Qaeda and Ben Laden had nothing to do with Islamic anti Zionism nor, and this is the real message, US pro Israel policies ( the preponderant cause of the virulent enmity)!

So for heaven’s sake, Mr. Friedman, show some respect for the intelligence of the readers of this Forum or, at least, remember what you say!





omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

It is not my way! It is the truth that you and yours want to hide from the American public.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

What I find interesting in that period , post Clinton's Camp David,is that ALL polls indicated that a Barak led Labour would be soundly beaten whereas a Shimon Peres led Labour would win or draw even with Sharon's Likud.
In spite of intense rank and file pressure Barak insisted on leading Labour into the elections and met with the expected ,foretold result!(He retired after that.)
I believed, still do, that Israeli senior politicians work and act according to a grand strategy and not personal prediposions, more so with Barak the distinguished, disciplined ex military!
Did Barak want, then, a Labour defeat and Sharon in power particularly after Taba and the huge nearing of positions that was achieved there?
A point to ponder!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Re Clinton's Camp David I believe there are two further important points to ponder:
1-Clinton's initiative came too late for such an epoch making agreement, with all the ground preparation and time needed to ratify it.
It was at the "lame duck" phase of his presidency after spending the best part of his last two years embroiled in the Monica saga!
( I am NOT blaming Clinton here!)
2- Negotiations were resumed in Taba and a tentative agreement was reached and ,if my memory does not fail me, initialled .
Sharon, who came to power at Barak's insistence to lead the doomed Labour campaign, refused to have anything to do with it.

Why?

I contend that the ruling Israeli establishment never wanted peace except at its own terms (total Palestinian submission) which made Barak consciously pave the way for Sharon's return to scuttle the whole thing, and blame the Palestinians in the bargain .


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
You state:
"There is not a straw of evidence that Israel seeks to acquire any land that is not already in the country's hands."

Well I guess that you are partly right here where the operative part of your statement is:"...to acquire any land that is not already in the country's hands."
That, obviously, includes the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem, the lands on which settlements were and are being constructed and expanded the WAll and THE GOLAN!
All of these are presently in Israel's hand and as such are, according to you, subject to be being "acquired".
All these lands have come into Israel's "hands" as a result of war which means, according to your dictum, more lands are liable to be "acquired" in case of a new war in which more lands fall into Israel's "hands"; not an unlikely proposition.
I would go further and state that part of Israel pre 1967 lands were acquired in an expansionist move borne out of an expansionist dogma since they included more land than was allotted to it by the UNGA Partition resolution (72 vs 52%) on which Israel bases its legal presence in Palestine.
That is expansionism pure and simple; "acquire" more land when the opportunity arises and more lands fall into your “hands”!.

You also state:
"The problem is that what people believe and the facts are nearly the opposite. So, it is the people of the region who need to consider that their position is simply wrong."

Do I have to remind you that a people decides on its defense policy according to its own perception of the dangers that threaten it from its perceived enemy and NOT according to what that enemy says his intentions are!
That is A, B & C!
That being the case Iran is within its legitimate sovereign rights to acquire the wherewithal to defend itself and to hinder and frustrate Israeli expansionist designs and ambitions to regional hegemony.
As an ALIEN implant and an outpost and extension of western imperialism Israel, with its expansionist record outlined above, will be constantly perceived as an EXPANSIONIST entity and as such will NEVER be trusted nor accepted in the region.
That perception, formerly restricted to the Arabs, is now shared by Iran and Turkey will join soon enough.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Ebbitt!
Thoughtful potential scenario.
A question:by trumping Iran the battle field will expand considerably then, if I understand "trumping" correctly, WHAT?
A re surge in Afghanistan; not far off any way!
Syria then Turkey and its Islamist PM Ardogan's regime?
Pakistan with an Islamist regime the minute Musharaf falters?
Is that NOT a hopeless, dead end route for the USA?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Sorry but who is Victor Hansen ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The Japanese still hate America for nuking it, but deep down they accept that way they did in China was worse.

The Japanese, however, are not Persians, are not Moslems, are not Shiites, and the Iranians did not start a war against the U.S. with a sneak attack.

One of the worst analogies in recent weeks.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, your dyslexia or whatever your reading handicap is seems to have struck again. Try cutting cutting and pasting the two passages of Baker which you think contradict each other. Hint: Baker does not use the words "rash action"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Do we really "know" the composite opinion of any "average" group of people? Do we really "know" for example whether 2/3 of Americans really think that Saddam was somehow involved in the 9-11 conspiracy?

I happen to have known some Iranians personally over the years (you may recall a time under the Shah when they were the largest group of foreign students in the US) and have read a fair bit about the country, but that does not mean I ultimately "know" it. I have never travelled there, for example. I do, however, think that the periodic proverbial reports about an Iranian in Iran stopping to warmly greet a visiting American and gushing about what a great time he had while living in Texas or Wisconsin or Walla Walla, and asking dozens of eager questions about whether this or that coffee shop still exists near this or that campus, etc. etc. and THEN resuming his march carrying the giant placard reading "Death to America" are NOT aberrations.

It is a very complex and fast-changing country, as even Bat Yeor would probably realize if she were ever to visit it, but it is ultimately still run by clerical dictators not by democractically elected leaders. It can therefore safely be assumed that there is GENERALLY (not in every particular) a greater disconnect between popular desires and public policies than in countries where there is a stronger democratic check on the ruling regime.

The demagogic dynamics of Ahmadinejad have been extensively described in publications such as Economist, and not a great mystery just because they don't fit your Islamphobic sources' straightjacket views of the world. The Iranian regime is playing a nationalist card and is exploiting the relative weakness of the US due to Bush's huge blunders in Iraq.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The repeated proven lies of the Iranians alone suffice to make it very dubious that they want only "peaceful" nuclear energy. They furthermore, have no incentive for developing nuclear power, and all kinds of incentives for pursuing development of nuclear weapons. Your theory is absurd on its face.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No, Mr. F., I see only that you yourself are changing what you said to try to wiggle away just a bit from your slightly too blatantly revealed bias. A few posts back, you tried to justify Sharon's foolish and ultimately futile and (for Israel, counterproductive) 3 year policy of brutal invasion and slaughter in Palestine, mainly directed at Arafat and Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, NOT at Hamas, Al Aqsa or Islamic Jihad, etc., by saying that there was little difference between all these different Palestinian groups. No moderates, just differently striped tigers.

Now, in your blind worship of Israel no matter who is doing whatover there, you want to say that there can be no negotiations with Hamas (true at this point) therefore it is all the Palestinians fault. Unkosher Bologna !
Hamas and the religious fanatic wing of the Israel electorate created each other and thrive on each other. Any real American ought to be able to see that we have no good reason to line up 100% behind either of these two groups of maniacal feuders.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Mr. B.,

If you want to label Sharon's assassinations by missile, bulldozing of olive groves, etc. as "state terrorism", I have no real objection (although I think that characterization seriously misidentifies the true intent of those policies which were to appease the settlers, which Sharon later backstabbed, and to provoke more violence from Palestinians, NOT to strike terror in the hearts of Palestinians even if that was undoubtedly a by-product, and of course, not to make Israel more secure as the deluded Mr. F. dreams). But, don't try with a straight face to pretend to me or anyone else that blowing up a cafe is anything but pure vengeful and utterly evil terrorism. I don't give a hoot what wayward Jewish or Islamic or Christian theologians may try to pretend, two wrongs DO NOT make a right, ever. No matter what the atrocities committed by the Israelis, and they were certainly manifestly more glaring and outrageous under Sharon than for many years prior, it is to the lasting shame of moderate Palestinians, and Arabs and Moslems elsewhere, including in the USA, that they have not spoken out convincingly, forcefully, or effectively against the incessant and asinine barbarism committed in their names.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...for the info. What do you suppose W is up to in Calif. ? Sounding out Arnie as a potential new Sec'y of Defense, maybe ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Rash action is being condemned by Mr. B not advocated.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...in your choice of links, Patrick.


GREAT AMERICAN PATRIOT HEROES

Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty, or give me death"

Thomas Jefferson: "To secure these [inalienable] rights, governments are instituted among men"

Abe Lincoln: "You cannot fool all of the people, all of the time"

Harry Truman: "The buck stops here"

Martin Luther King: "I have a dream"

Marc Ecko: "18 year olds should be allowed to carry spray paint canisters wherever they want"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Baker, You are being even more disingenuous than usual.

Perhaps I was insufficiently clear, before:

BEING A VICTIM OF TERRORISM IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE WHATSOVER FOR COMMITTING ACTS OF TERRORISM.

NO MATTER WHAT the media coverage or spin of any acts of terrorism.

It ought to be beneath your knowledge and intelligence and sense of morality to repeatedly try to rationalize Palestinian terrorism by saying that the Israelis do it too. Or that there is no such thing as terrorism, only "armed violence". Even Friedman's recycled propaganda is not that lame.

The Americans did not rely first and foremost on terrorism as means of gaining independence in the 1780s.

Neither did the Irish in the 1920s, the Indians in the 1940s, and dozens of other national examples.

The sins of the Israelis are NO EXCUSE for the unparalled backward barbarism of the Arabs and Palestinians. You cannot escape this history any more than Germans can escape responsibility for World War II or Americans responsibility for dipossessing the native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries or for enslaving Africans or for the unnecessary slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqis since 2003. You cannot escape the history of the asinine medieval suicidal murders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa et al. and someone of your intelligence ought to be ashamed for trying to.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is highly dubious, Mr. Baker, and smells like another attempt to be 180 degrees opposite to Friedman, in that he wants to allocate 100% of the blame for the failed peace attempt of 1999-2001 to the Palestinians, and you wnat to allocate 0%.

Barak made an offer at Camp David. It was not a great offer from Arafat's viewpoint but he (Barak) had no way of knowing for sure that it, or some slightly modified variant would not be adopted. If Arafat had seized the opportunity (and it is clear to any sensible observer that the Palestinian refusal to accept Israeli offers has led to steadly worsening conditions and worsening offers since at least the late 1980s) then Barak would have had to honor it, and he Clinton and Arafat would likely have be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sharon and his terrorist fringe most probably out in the political cold.

The timid opposition of the once strong Peace Now bloc to Sharon etc. since 2000 surely has more to do with the intifada sanctioned by Arafat than with any conspiracy between Labor and Likud in Israel.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is truly bad, even by HNN's often abysmal standards. Really, guys, this was the best you could dredge up over the holiday weekend ?

We see here how much "former analysts" and writers of "alternative histories" know about actual history.

The likelihood of an American pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran in the foreseeable future approximates the likelihood of space aliens in 2006 marching to the White House wielding the Holy Grail and installing the Easter Bunny as new dictator of America.

The last time ANYBODY used nuclear weapons was 61 1/2 years ago when

a) they had never been used before

b) they were vastly smaller in size than today's biggest

c) they helped conclude the worst war of human history which, at that point, had already had already claimed the lives of many hundreds of times as many as died in the two A-bomb blasts over Japan in 1945

d) the principal threats to the United States came from nation-states with flags, governments, capitals, etc,. being run as military dictatorships

e) when human race had almost no idea of the long-lasting radiation horrors caused by nuclear energy, especially the explosive kind

It is also unlikely that there will be be even a non-nuclear pre-emptive strike on Iran anytime some (the incompetent chickenhawk traitors in Washington having blown their wad already on Iraq, and the ex-Likudies in Jerusalem being busy building the wall around the new ghetto Sharon thrust them into) but that is not what the kiddie-cartoon-like-writer Simon said.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Okay, a real historian, for a change. Found him on wikipedia which says "Many of his critics describe him as racist and Islamophobic." His historical field is Ancient Greece which I am not up on. Not the most obvious qualification for judging late 20th century Europe and Islam, however.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

60 3/4 years actually. Never cared much for math.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I am on record in dozens if not scores of posts on this website in consistent opposition to Karl Rove's Orwellian propaganda phrase "War on Terror."
But that is not the issue here. The issue is your proposal to stop calling acts of terrorism acts of terrorism.

It is of course a truism that one person's "terrorist" is another's "freedom fighter", but you seem to be saying I will use proper English when it suits the argument I want to make, and will play games with English when the dictionary definitions do not cast my prejudiced views in a favorable light.

Why not be consistent with your vocabulary and seek instead to make your analysis a bit less rigid. Admit that there is no justification for blowing up cafes in Tel Aviv. Admit that the number of Jews which oppose any kind of Zionism far exceeds Mr. Friedman's view of how many Moslems actively seek to reform the obsolete and harmful features of their religion.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Come on Chris, you can do better than that ! Surely there are many excellent arguments against the use of depleted uranium, which I would certainly back you up on by the way, without any need to abuse the English language. Nuclear weapons means bombs detonated by atomic fission or fusion making big nasty mushroom clouds. Good grief, you sound like the Bushies with their endless Orwellian crap about mobile WMD labs in Iraq and the like.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Well, we can agree once in a while after all, Mr. F.! But I never called you or anyone else on HNN a "traitor" despite many many disagreements.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Whatever his precise motives, Barak risked his political career by going farther than many of his people were prepared to in compromising. Arafat was clearly much less willing to do to take the same risks This is not to excuse Sharon's subsequent misdeeds and atrocities, but one cannot honestly maintain that Barak is responsible for the asinine second intifada which (unlike the first one) has brought nothing but misery and ruin to the Palestinian people.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Patrick, It looks as though Mr. Mahan has led you down a weird tangent. Ritter is clearly a loose cannon, but beyond illustrating his inconsistencies, Israel offers little in the way of the hinted-at "scary and counter-intuitive" explanation, and his Milosevic apologia is pure garbage. Try telling the thousands of Serbs in the opposition who were oppressed, tortured and had relatives murdered by Milosevic that that criticizing Milosevic somehow automatically means criticizing them (as Israel asininely pretends). Alternet looks a bit woobly to me too, but is not this convoluted or warped.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Better stick strictly to the first of those two possibilities ("all acts of terrorism, including Israel's, are designated as such"). There you at least have a leg to stand on (because blowing up a cafe is terrorism NO MATTER WHAT). But only barely.

The truth is that Israel practices only limited terrorism against Palestinisn, because its rulers have had plenty of other ways recently oppressing their neighbors. Palestinians, by contrast, have few ways of oppressing Israelis so they resort more often to terrorism. There is, in other words, a hated-induced terrorist mentality on both sides, and brutality and atrocities committed by both sides, but terrorism committed mainly by one side. The Israeli propaganda machine in America knows this, and that is why their dupes and lackies foam at mouth so constantly about terrorism, but will squirm and squeal like pigs stuck in a fence whenever anyone brings up the King David Hotel.

Instead of trying to counter this propaganda by abusing the English language, why not try speaking the truth ? To that, however, you will have to admit that Palestinians have been much better than the Israelis at shooting themselves in the foot with senseless counterproductive barbarism. Stubbornness will get you only so far, and at some point you will need intelligence to proceed further.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Agree about the Cheney administration blunders (Wolfie is gone but the blunders and cover-ups continue).
Disagree re the "J/C" front. Bush is about a much as true Christian as Osama is as pacifist.

I think the silencing is phasing out, and was never that severe even in the worst days after 9-11. The main problem is closed minds (of which we have more than a few here on HNN).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I stand by all the terms you disupte.

You have the brainwashed notion that Hamas et al have nothing to live and die for except terrorizing and murdering Israeli civilians and that the only thing stopping them is Israeli counter-terrorism. This is patent foolishness, and I do partially retract the "madmen" term in my prior post. It applies perhaps to the actual perpetrators of Palestinian terroristm but not their string-pullers. The latter are actually rather clever. The latest cafe bombing was a calculated reprisal for a recent incident where Israelis slaughtered innocent Palestinians which was an incursion to get revenge for some prior outrage....etc..etc... all the way back to who knows when (certainly much closer to Cain versus Abel than Sharon vs Arafat).

The problem is, whose interests does all this calculated tit and double tit for tat serve ? Certainly not that of the Israeli people generally nor the Palestinian people generally, and absolutely not any half-loyal American citizen with half an open mind. It serves the fanatics and terrorists on both sides who want the horror to go on forever.

Of course the wall was overdue. Israeli Labor party politicians proposed it years before Sharon adopted it. And his only reason for waiting was to get in a few more rounds of tit-tat first, to shore up his political position with the terrorist wing of his parliamentary coalition. Stop reading unAmerican trash Israeli right-wing websites and open your eyes, and you might get a clue that everything anyone does in Israel is not automatically right,and not everything any Palestinian does is automatically wrong, which is not quite what you have said, but is clearly what your programmers want you to instinctively feel.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

When you say you "endorse Sharon's program of suppressing the Intifadah," you misspeak.

A factually accurate endorsement would have to be of Sharon's SUPPOSED ATTEMPT to suppress the Intifadah, because he surely failed to suppress anything, and then backed off the massacres, assasinations, brutal bulldozing etc. (to say that this was done in the least brutal way is pitifully propagandistic BS; the least brutal way was OF COURSE to BUILD THE WALL, which he refused to do for several years because many of his terrorist supporters would have had to have been, AS THEY NOW HAVE TO BE ANYWAY - showing the futility of his barbarism from ISRAEL's point of view- on the wrong side of that wall). After demonstrating he was a tough Jewish Warrior God he was by killing hundreds of defenseless Palestinian children, he then did what he could have done from beginnning: started building the wall. After Arafat's demise, he lacked even that flimsy excuse for not doing so. Now these two mass murderers can both rot in Hell together.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You really believe the pathological lying Iranian government ?? Amazing.

Nuclear power is so dangerous, unhealthy, impractical and uneconomic, that most countries are trying to phase it out. Even without such practical drawbacks, Iran sits on something like the 4th largest reserves of oil in the world. They need nuclear power like Arctic Inuit need refrigerators in winter.

Of course they want a nuclear bomb. Don't be silly. They want it as a deterrent. Like North Korea, like Pakistan, like Israel. Come to think of it, like Russia and the U.S..

The problem is trying to guess WHAT to they want to do once they have such a deterent, because nobody knows, and I guess the world would be lot better off not ever finding out.

America wants a deterrent so it can be unhindered in selling junk food, violent addictive video games, and trashy movies to the world. Russia wants a deterrent so as to buy this kind of crap, and once in awhile go slaughter a few Chechens with no unpleasant kibbutzing from the West. Israel wants to be able to ethnically cleanse the higher-birth rate Palestinians out of the way of the better real estate and water sources in the Jordan Valley.

And what uplifting dreams and aspirations will the Iranian mullahs pursue when they have immunity from attack ? Well if they were democratically elected we might assume that religious suicide would not be their top goal. But this tyrannical clique is not a democratic reflection of Iran. Most Iranians would probably not mind having a big N bomb like the big boys, but I don't think they care much about getting into a nuclear exchange with Israel say, or becoming the new base for Al Qaeda. But the people of Iran are not in charge there. Not even in the nominal sense that the taste buds of the American couch potato rule the economy there.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Thanks for the queries, Arnold. A few answers:

First of all, I consider it delusionary to believe that the current Iranian tyrants have any other goal than to get their hands on nukes as fast as possible, lying their scheming behinds off to do so. And why shouldn't they? The Bushidiots having trashed the non-proliferation treaties which might have been the basis for eschewal on the the part of the Iranians, why should they now restrain themselves? The North Koreans got away with it, so did the Pakistanis, and of course the Israelis. The Indians were even PRAISED and rewarded by the alcohol and cocaine drugged Joke of a U.S. president for going nuclear. Fat lot of good this does for the millions of untouchables living in horrific squalor, but there was the Fake Texas Frat Boy rushing to say let us clumsily help you pound your plowshares into swords.

Secondly, thanks in large measure to the colossal blundering of the Cheney Administration, there is neither a very good carrot nor a very good stick with which to steer the Iranian demagogue leaders, or even run-of-the-mill Persian nationalists, onto a fundamentally different path.

Thirdly, absent a dramatically new American foreign policy (not likely before 2009), there is little prospect for remedying the messy predicament which Cheney and his arrogant, crooked chickenhawks have so much helped to make (see prior paragraph).

Fourthly, for decades it has been Israeli policy "not to be the first to introduce the use of nuclear weapons" into its region. The current rulers there may be fanatics, but most of them at least are not suicidal idiots. There is no greater holocaust imaginable than a Hiroshima-style mushroom cloud. If Israel were to perpetrate such a titanic crime upon any other country it would morally negate the Second- World-War-Holocaust-based premise of its existence. Millions of Moslems would be urged by thousands of immans for decades to become matyrs by nuking Israel in revenge, until finally some group managed to do it.

Fifthly, a conventional attack on Iran, ala the 1981 bombing of Saddam's reactor is much more likely. But such an overt act of aggression is still rather unlikely (a) because the Israelis and Americans have other fires to attend to at the moment, and (b) though it might provide some psychological satisfaction for paranoid Israelis it would not work as a practical matter (see Atlantic Monthly, May 2006, pp. 31-32).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

It's all the Palestinians' fault, again. How original, Mr. F.

The current government in Jerusalem may indeed be currently committed to currently ceding some land, e.g. some portions of that which will be outside the new not-yet-route-specified wall, but this was clearly NOT Sharon's policy during 2001-03 when Hamas made great strides (as Sharon not doubt hoped that it would).

The extremists on both sides feed each other, largely deliberately so, and only a blind biased rooter for one or the other pack of maniacs could fail to see that reality in the historical record.

Patrick: What is your current take on the pre-emptive possiblity vs Iran ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Goldhagen is a dubious source here for several reason, the main being, he is not a specialist on Persia, Moslems, the Mideast, or nuclear proliferation. He is specialist (of a rather questionable and disputed sort) of the history of Jewish disasters, e.g. the Holocaust. Like the academics being complained about on other pages here this week, and like most academics, he has a natural tendency to want to spin current events so as to play up his specialty, relevant or not. And he is more adept at hyping himself than most profs.

In any case I think the cartoon flap is about #13 on the list of factors relevant to anything involved with US- Israeli-Iranian relations.

What Hamas is really up to, and how much they might be in cahoots with Achmijihad (or whatever that Iranian demagagues's name is) is very much up in the air.

I never claimed that the Iranian push to go nuclear was something new. What is new, thanks to Bush's blunders, is the opportunity for them to fairly easily away with it. But they are some years away for actual warheads by most reckonings. This like many other of their many messes and cock-ups is something Cheney and Bush will most likely dump on their sucessors.

I would, however, qualify my prior posts somewhat, by observing that the Bushies are fairly desperate now for something ANYTHING, to distract from their widespread and disastrous failures, and they are fairly unscrupuous, and they don't give a damn about America. Still don't think a strike is likely, however. At least not as things stand now.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

One Economist journalist on an off-day can tell any not-biased reader more about what is going in Mideastern politics (or politics in almost any other region) than Goldhagen and Bat Y'eor put together. Their is a Jewish paranoia view of the world, useful for understanding the Holocaust, or maybe the ideology of the settler movement in Israel, or relations between Jewish and Arab exiles in Europe, but not as general guide to world history or geopolitics. For that you need a qualified, high-quality, open-minded research team, e.g. Economist


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

in 2nd last para.


"to fairly easily away"

-> to fairly easily GET away


"they are some years away for"

-> they are some years away FROM


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I suppose if I were a peaceful non-violent Palestinian whose house had been bulldozed by the IDF, or whose children blown up by an Israeli missile, I might be inclined to be less critical of Arafat.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I agree that some words like "terror" are overused and abused nowadays, and that intelligent dialogue can better proceed with less incendiary rhetoric. I do NOT agree that negative descriptions can only be fairly or meaningfully injected into a discussion about a long-running dispute if they are applied equally to both protaganists, regardless of the facts. Subjugation, oppression, murder and terrorism are related but different phenomena, and do not apply to all actions of all peoples of the world, or across all time periods, in equal measure.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman,

Mr. Baker's English is not 100% perfect, but in this case, it was your well-below-100%-accurate reading ability that caused a spate of rather silly and certainly not very illuminating back and forth posts.

Baker, in #87067, clearly means to say that rash action by the Bush administration (which he opposes and does not support) was regrettable because it helped strengthen Bin Laden's position in the eyes of many Arabs and Moslems. This is, of course, Baker's personal opinion, but it is an opinion supported by a wealth of evidence over the past three years. In any case, it contradicts nothing else he said in this comment thread.

I agree with Baker that an apology is in order, not because you have been perpetrating cheap tricks (there I think he is misunderstanding you), but for stubbornly imposing your reading comprehension difficulties in a long tangential series of posts that, not for the first time on HNN, mar what might have been an intelligent discussion and exchange of views.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Thanks for adding the additional context, Patrick, which explains (sort of) the points you were trying to make in posting the Air Force 1 video.

To me this is an excellent example of why this country is going down the drain in a hurry.

This spraying was a historic stunt in that it will almost surely never be repeated. It was a one time opportunity, and it was recklessly, needlessly and utterly squandered, like so many other opportunities America has had over the past few years.

America had an opportunity after 9-11 to show how a mature, intelligent, farsighted, liberty-loving and self-assured country might respond to a horrendous and barbaric act of cruel terrorism. Did we quickly put armed marshals on all our planes, give an ultimatum to the Saudis and Pakistanis to shut down their madrasses or else, and start a crash program to raise the minuscule percentage of our civil servants who can speak Arabic? No, we have had instead the massively wasteful, asinine and counterproductive (for America, not Bush at the polls) Orwellian oxymoronic "War on Terror". In a first manifestation, before the traitors of PNAC got the upper hand, we did manage to partially clean up the mess in Afghanistan - which past American administrations had helped create. But then that minor, and quite incomplete, success was completely junked in favor of Rove's Carrier-Strut invasion of Iraq, a forced attempt at regime change which should have happened years earlier, and multilaterally, if ever.

America had the opportunity in 2002 to head off this Iraq train wreck. Supposed opponents of the crooked and inept Cheney administration, such as Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman, Daschle, and H. Clinton chose instead to "sleepwalk" and vote cowardly and hypocritically for an outrageous, unprecedented and deceit-laden blank check surrender of power to the pathological blunderers in that executive branch. If the resolution had been opposed by 100% of Democrats in the Senate it would have been just barely been averted. Most of those Demowimps instead chose foolish futility over doing the right thing and will carry the shame of this cowardice to their graves. The "antiwar movement" (which is in reality little more than a series of street festivals celebrating feel-good irrelevance, but which might have kicked at least some of those Congressional asses in the right direction) was instead busy slumbering in its never-ending fantasy of reliving 1970 and the Vietnam Moratorium days.

In 2004, Americans had a chance to show the world that it could dump the most incompetent president in living memory. Instead the Dems nominated a hypocrite whose waffling on the key issue, Iraq, doomed him, despite his showing (by comparison, in the debates) what a juvenile delinquent brat the Republicans have been blindly worshipping for years as their president (while the in-grave-spinning rate of REAL Republicans, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Goldwater approaches the speed of light). John Flip Flop Kerry was unable to match the power of Karl Rove in getting the dumbest of the dumb non-voters away from their video screens and to the polls long enough to stop the horror of married gays copulating under their beds and to support John Wayne and the Green Berets in the glorious war against Saddam bin Laden.

Now this half-educated pompous clown with the spray can (you have to go the link where he "explains" why he did it to experience his full arrogance and ignorance), squanders a one-time chance to make an important statement. I was actually thrilled for a couple of seconds, watching the video, trying to guess what great line he was so cleverly, brazenly and fearlessly reaching up to spray on the plane. All we got, and all we will now ever get, was a ridiculous self-advertisement. A dog peeing on a lamp post has more dignity, self respect, and relevance to our collective future.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Basically true, Mr. Friedman except (and it is a huge except) the massive and unrelenting building of Israeli "settlements" across huge swathes of the West Bank which can have no other purpose than to ethnically cleanse those areas of Palestinians in order to annex them to Israel proper. The settlements are an ugly, inhumane, reckless sop to the extremist and terrorist element within Israel, and have been condemned over and over again by the civilized world for decades. They give the lie to the claim that Israel's purposes are purely defensive.

None of this to suggest that Arab anti-Semitism, war, and terrorism against innocent Israeli cafe patrons is in the slightest sense justified.
Nor that it is not a ridiculous outrage that the Palestinians can't seem to lift a finger against the incessant brainwashing that produces crop after crop of new suicide bombers (with, of course, some assistance from the atrocities of the IDF).

Nonetheless, your one sided position is as untenable as Mr. Baker's.

In addition to the ingrained mistrust to which you refer, another practical problem with trying to pursue the otherwise worthy goal of nuclear-free zone is that this would most likely require a good deal of very skillful diplomacy over quite some time. And America, which would almost certainly have to play some kind of leading role in such negotiations, is currently cursed with probably the most incompetent foreign policy team in its history.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You don't get it, Friedman. With or without corrections. Not at all.

Having made the blunder of the last fifty years in Iraq (Crying wolf over non-existent WMDs, rushing to invade for no good reason that was not equally valid for the past two decades, managing to get almost no international support except for Blair, having no viable plan at all, totally underestimating the insurgent resistance, and making stupid error after outrageous screw-up on the ground in Iraq) Junior Bush gave the Iranians a huge opening. Having trashed the multilateral inspection regime that existed before, THAT tool is now much less viable against Iran than it would have been before Frat Boy's childish blunders. Having bogged the U.S. military down in a aimless deceit-ridden mission in Iraq that it is NOT trained for, and never could be under a democracy, the threat of U.S. force against Iran is much less credible than it would have been. Having the diplomatic skills of a drunken hockey player, there is no prospect for any American carrot and stick approach with the Iranians either until this nitwit Republican fools are finally sent packing.

And I don't want to hear any crap about how Islamogeddon is inevitable no matter we do here in the Warsaw ghetto. Begin, Sadat, Arafat, Rabin, and Carter all got Nobel peace prizes, major and lasting treaties were signed between Egypt and Israel, and Jordan and Israel, and there was a multilateral union of pratically all of Arabia WITH the US and WITH Europe against Saddam in 1991. IT CAN BE done. But not with lame crooks running Washington and not with people like you constantly making asinine excuses for their monumental cock-ups and unAmerican violations of human rights and common sense.

It is NOT a coincidence that NOW under the Cheney Administration, all these horrors, North Korea, Iran, Hamas are happening simultaneously.

Wake up. You have been listening to the Rovians far too uncritically.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

When I said (above) your English was not 100% perfect, that was not meant as an insult (I suppose it is not your first language, and as a non-first language it is quite excellent) nor was it meant, however, as an invitation to dumb down the English that we use as our common language here.

Count me in any case decidedly unpersuaded regarding your proposed replacement of "terrorist" in discussions here with the word ""violent or armed adversary."

Taken to its logic extreme, this approach violates common sense and basic morality. How, for instance, can any system of criminal justice differentiate between murder and self-defense under a catch-all term such as "violent or armed adversary"?

Your proposed ranking system is similarly defective, proposing as it does to associate "varying degrees of "terrorism'" with "the number and lethality of the 'terrorizing' tools, ie weapons" used.

Example:

1. Abu uses two largish bombs against unoccupied bulldozers parked in front of his house ready to demolish it for reasons that are no fault of Abu's, and in violation of international law.

2. Benny uses one smaller bomb to blow up a cafe filled with teenagers who never lifted a finger against him or any compatriot of his.

Your definition would label Abu and Benny both terrorists and Abu the greater terrorist of the two. I doubt you could find one Palestinian in 20 OR one Israeli in 20 who would agree with you on that.

Surely you can do better than this, Mr. Baker. I think even Mr. Friedman could do better. Whether any of us here can do better than the Oxford dictionary, however, is dubious. Until further notice, I will be sticking with the dictionary.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Retract my first paragraph in the post above which I now realize erroneously assumed a later posting time of Mr. Baker's preceeding comment than actually occured.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Of course you are biased. Not, at the moment, as biased as Baker, perhaps, but still quite biased.

You are hunkering down behind a bit of militant Israeli propaganda

Israel has no "aims on any territory not already held by Israel."

Whether that statement, or any statement, is used as part of biased argument depends on the context.

To say, for example, that Hamas is the democratically elected government of the West Bank is to make a basically unbiased statement. But to claim that this means that America and Europe are obliged to keep precisely the same relationship with the Palestinians no matter what acts of terror Hamas commits, condones, or encourages, is a very biased line of thinking (e.g biased towards Hamas).

Your statement was a solid rebuttal to Baker's untenable claim that Israle is an "aggressive, expansionist state hell bent on acquiring more and richer land." But, like a true devotee of propaganda, you can't let go of the line you have been fed. So you try to use it to claim that everything Baker said is "nonsensical."

It doesnt fly.





Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You make a few valid points but are basically twisting my words. I did not say I blame Bush, Jr. for "all of history's problems." I do blame him, and Cheney -who essentially calls the shots internationally- for America's global reputation being trashed, its military power being needlessly bogged down and weakened, and its ability to press the world into action behind it (as with Iraq 1991, Kosovo 1999 and Afgahnistan, 2001) greatly diminished; all of which make us crucially much less able to deal with Iran now than before.

I will promise to stay off any high horse, but also expect you to read the preceeding paragraph for what it says: nothing less, nothing more. Iran was going to be trouble eventually no matter what, but we would have had a decent fighting chance to stop their dictatorial regime getting the bomb were it not for Bush's serial blunders. Now we are up the creek and if we don't realize his key role in getting us there then we are a nation of pitiful fools.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Israel has the strongest military, but they can't find a way to stop their cafes from getting blown up whenever the madmen on the Palestinian side of their long overdue and incomplete land-grab wall feel like it. Attacking Iran at this stage would be foolish because it only gives Ah-J a better excuse for going all-out for the nuke. And Israel can't wipe out tens of millions of people even if it was murderous enough to want to.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No, that is dubious, at least as a general description. There have clearly always been multiple factions with the Palestinians. After Sharon went after the state-structure of the PA, instead of the terrorist cells, it became harder still for Arafat to influence them, let alone turn them on or off like a light switch. He clearly did not try very hard to stop them, but your propaganda putting all the blame on him is of course fully misplaced as an account of what has happened since he died


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"The Economist is the product of establishment thought in Britain. That thought is colored by more than a generation of thinking which holds a benign view of what is occurring in the Gulf region - because that theory has been good for Britain, businesswise."

Really, now. Any shreds of evidence to support this preposterously ignorant conspiracy theory?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are becoming more and more ludicrously ridiculous.

1. "Now, I suspect you would say that Palestinian Arabs had no choice [in 2000-01..."

You can suspect whatever your paranoid self wants, but for the record, I never said any such inane thing. What do think I am, some kind of Arab sucker apologist? I am an American. Please get that through your dense cranium.

2. "The result of all the violence was to drive Barak's party from power. Arafat, not being a complete idiot, surely knew that the violence would drive Barak's party from power." Fine, so now we have rewritten history to fit your Alzheimer's version of it. There was no election in Israel, goverments there are driven in and out of power by violence. Israel is thus not a democracy so therefore we can stop the absurd notion that because it is the "only democracy in the Mideast" America has to bow down and cringe before it and open its wallet to whatever maniac happens to be charge over there. A welcome relief from years of our frat boy juvy deliquent president being a rubber stamp for a bunch of criminal Israeli extremists. Not bad this parallel universe you inhabit, Mr. Friedman. Think I'll stay in the world of sanity all the same.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Bad argument" by Bush re Iraq. No S, Sherlock! But how about incompetent and treasonous policies following Al Qaeda's play book ? Put the horse before the cart, please.

"Eurabia" is a Likudnic croc of bull and Bat Y'eor, who is neither a European nor a historian, fundamentally does not know what she is talking about (at least on that subject). Europe is 30 odd very different countries, not some monolith, let alone a vassal of a few lecherous and unwashed sheiks only recently out of their camel tents.

Most European countries DO have a problem with non-assimilating Moslem immigrants, the cartoon flap being only the most recent and not the most serious example of many related problems, but Moslems in Europe are still a negligibly small minority overall, and had nothing whatsoever to do with France and Germany's common-sensical unwillingness to follow Bush's patent idiocy on Iraq. I am not saying there has not been a large amount of spineless and visionless hypocrisy in both the Chirac and Schroeder regimes, but the last three years have totally vindicated their justifiable refusal to be used as dupes and water carriers for Frat Boy Bush's crooked, stupid and very predictably disastrous hypocrisy in Iraq, for which America will have to hang its collective head in shame for years to come, not to mention pay trillions to clean up and remedy.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Interesting theory, Patrick, and I will not automatically assume that it is wrong, but I am both curious and skeptical.

If what you say about the extent and success-probability of covert U.S. action going on in Iran is true, it would seem to imply an extraordinarily unprecedented degree of competency and foresight on the part of the Bushies (and/or an unprecedented ability to keep clever schemes under wraps). Two questions:

1) Can you cite a source or two by ways of substantiation ?

2) Why hasn't Ahmadinejad said anything about this ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

My take is that Barak was basically well-meaning but plodding and a bit of a wimp. Sharon was more audacious, cleverer and much more unscrupulous. Barak dropped the ball by not arresting Sharon after he went to the Temple Mount. Afafat was a fool to fall into Sharon's trap and acquiese in resumed terrorism after Sharon's deliberate and malevolent provocation at the Temple, and an even bigger fool to persist after 9-11-01 with this doomed approach of negotiating by blowing up cafes. The Israelis, once a proud, moral, and brave people have become cowardly and self-centered, or as Barak put it, "Israel has lost its moral compass." They had the right idea in the late '80s when Sharon was essentially excluded from government for his war crimes in Lebanon in '82.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Traitors like Krauthammer deserve nothing but a one-way ticket to Baghdad.

But, what happened at Stanford ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Where is the contradiction? Baker says, if I may revise slightly, that attacking Iraq in revenge against Al Qaeda, actually helped Al Qaeda considerably. Rumsfeld himself had thoughts about this risk. The "brave voices", whatever the full sum total of their views, spoke out against the Bush administration burnishing Bin Laden's image that way.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If Sharon and the lunatic fringe within his coalition had wanted to negotiate they would not have tried so hard to isolate, intimidate, bulldoze,marginalize and blow up the Palestinian moderates, and to help Islamic Jihad and Hamas instead.
Of course, you could also blame Arafat for the idiotic atrocities against Israelis that Sharon used as an argument to cow the Israeli voters into installing him in 2001, and so forth back to Cain and Abel.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...to explain to Friedman his nonexistent remarks.

Mr. F:

Omar is AWOL at the moment, but I can't fathom where you think he ever advocated
that we "should, nonetheless, act rashly".


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I see: all Palestinians are terrorists and have to be bombed. Reminiscent of all Jews should be sent to concentration camps. Very enlightened ideas you get from FrontPage and the like. Main difference to the Holocaust denial sites is that the latter have less money.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

Friday's a workday so it's sack time... debate Ritter tomorrow but, here's a little film for your enjoyment...

http://www.devilducky.com/media/44655/

Just how safe are you? Ritter is the least of our worries...

Take care...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

Thanks for the excellent links. The Jared Israel material was very well written, concise, informative, substantiated through Lexis-Nexis vetted searches and fairly damning. It kept me busy throughout the whole of last evening. I really need to get a life. HNN is sadly addicting.

However, outing Ritter as a liar and flip-flop from rabid hawk to pacifist dove does not disprove or dissuade from the facts that he presented. Then, not be critical/pure conjecture, it would be interesting to read Israel's opinion as to why this change in heart by Ritter... was he blackmailed or set-up by the pedophile incidents? Why did Ashcroft/DOJ take a pass on further investigation? Maybe, I am missing something here... what is the disconnect?

Did Iraq have WMD's? if so, where is this VX? Where is the nuclear materials/equipment? This is not easy to hide... Was it moved/to where? Why didn't the CIA create a case for found materials?

How far along was Iraq in the development of the fissile trigger? Was it imminent as Ritter originally contends or was it years, if at all, in the making as he later reports? Why this change in story if he is an alleged expert and was on the ground in Iraq for years? The fact of 'is it is' or 'is it not' should have been fairly unmistakable.

Where does the Niger connection fit, if at all, into any of the rationale for invasion?

Why has the MSM/press been so accommodating/compliant of Ritter?

I believe this to be all a smoke screen. Saddam was clearly beating the sanctions aided by Annan with Germany and France as conduits/ beneficiaries shutting out the US who as victors in Gulf War I should have been entitled to the spoils. The US and the oil barons could only stand for so much... off with Saddam's snake head and into the drivers seat EXXON.

Israel also makes a strong case for consideration in discounting Ritter's claims/ predictions with regards to Iran. With Ritter neutered/ out of the loop for (8) years now how relevant is his opinions? Ritter's claims of a June calendar for the US bombing Iran may not be off the mark as the foundations are detailed by Sy Hersh and Sam Gardiner. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile. However, how relevant are his other claims with regard to Iranian progress/ development of deliverable nukes?

Your take on all this is greatly anticipated. Again, thanks for the great information.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Peter.

Mr. Bush's California (4) day trip piggybacking onto the tail end of the Hu visit should be noted. Why did Hu visit with Bill Gates on the inbound not outgoing end of his US tour?

What is Gates up to and why are these tech giants so accommodating to the communists... outing internet dissidents/ stifling Chinese internet traffic?

Why was Hu treated to only a luncheon not a full State dinner/reception? Who/what really is Falun Gong and why did the CIA issue a press pass to the Epoch Times? Doesn't State know who these news organizations are? How many times have the Bush's staged acts/events? Are they the masters of deception or are we really that dumb?

Did Hu give Bush the finger when requested to reign in the trade deficit/eat more US debt pie, stop the Iran support, cool the Taiwan rhetoric and kick N. Korea harder?

Why is the Bush visit concentrating only on the technology industry when California, our nations sound economic leader, has so many more pressing issues... immigration to mudslides?

Unfortunately, Mr. Rumsfeld is untouchable as the 2nd most powerful man in the world behind Mr. Cheney. Donnie Tamiflu isn't going anywhere, anytime soon except, maybe to the ATM to gather more nuts. Arnold "the Gropenator" is toast and the good people of California realize they made a grave mistake backing another 'B' actor. He will not win re-election. Mr. Bush slapped Arnold down when he requested Federal help with disaster relief. It may be payback from the ever spiteful GWB or that the Fed really is broke... war, Katrina, All Children Forgotten, tax cuts/revenue loss... but, this trip... timing/events is very puzzling for the casual observer. What is your take?


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Peter,

This information was gleaned from the talking points of a recent interview of Sam Gardiner, Colonel USAF Ret. (April 14, 2006) with Jim Clancy, CNN International Anchor.

Select Quotes by Gardiner:

"I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way."

"the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there (Iran), have been saying it for almost a year. I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units." He said, quite frankly, "Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans."

"The evidence is mounting that that decision has already been made, and I don't know that the other part of that has been completed, that there has been any congressional approval to do this."

"My view of the plan is, there is this period in which some kinds of ground troops will operate inside Iran, and then what we're talking about is the second part, which is this air strike."

There is also word around the blogosphere that the US is supporting the anti-Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization within country and Kurd incursions into the north of Iran. There have been a few unconfirmed reports of Kurds assassinating select political targets.

We should never confuse the Bush Administration/ policy with the covert actions of the CIA and Special Ops... they get the job done/ own agenda in spite of the WH or DoD higher ups like Rummy.

Why Ahmadinejad isn't openly fussing is that he may actually be spoiling for a fight. Russia and China appear to be staunch oil allies and this may be an action needed to reinvigorate the revolution especially, within the youngish Iranian population.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

Further investigation of the Jared Israel site "Emperor's Clothes" appears as if the author is an apologist for both Hitler and Milosevic. He also states that he was part of Milosevic's regime. My hope is that this link was only posted to highlight your contention with Ritter's work/claims.

If not, Alternet isn't the only site on the www. that is ALL opinion stuff...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Omar,

'Trumped' may be another one of my many exceedingly poor malapropisms.

Maybe, the word 'desperation' as being on the part of a floundering Bush Administration is better suited to this scenario. Iran is going to be attacked out of despair/frustration with the events of the Iraq debacle.

I have been researching a vast array of books and the net to find events other than Truman v. MacArthur and Lincoln v. host of generals when there has been as much bickering within the ranks v. civilian administration as present. So far, no luck.

There has been few wars throughout the whole of modern history (1500AD) that have remained static/contained within original/limited borders. If you can name one other than the undeclared Falklands War (1982) your a great historian. Remoteness/short duration limited the spread of that conflict. Wars have a habit of expanding and that's a messy problem. They also gyrate through a series of maturation cycles. This one is due to mutate with Iran as logical choice for widening of the conflict.

Yes, it is a hopeless option for the US but, this administration's back is against the wall so look out. There is nothing that Republican's take more seriously than saving face or holding onto seats in an election year. The prospects are quite grim for everyone except the fatalists within the end times clique of the Republican party.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

Peter has a point. I worked for a major American speciality steel maker owned by the Japanese in the mid-80's. My managers were all Japanese and they despised us... hate was a feeling too good for us.

Daily I would patrol the bathrooms... check stall walls. One day my manager beat me to the Men's rest room and found a 3'x3' very detailed/well drawn mushroom cloud with the inscription "Built by Lazy, Stupid Americans. Tested in Japan"

Let me tell you... hate, rage, indignation... these were mild emotions compared to Yoshi's and the gangs reaction. I never scrubbed so hard/fast in my life. The felt tip pen wasn't the only thing that left an indelible mark on this relationship. Plus we are talking about a 7500 year culture that like an elephant never forgets. If you haven't go visit Japan and you'll see first hand what I mean.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

N.

Tel Aviv was hit yesterday by a suicide bomber with (9) fatalities and no denunciation from Hamas.

The attacker was only 17 and left a video. Wall or no wall this is truly a sad state of affairs for all parties involved with no end in site short of one side annexing/ eliminating the other as neither seems to want to hold serious/ constructive/ win-win talks.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

To My Fellow HNN Posters,

How can my weak efforts to lighten up this staid site compare against the remarkable quotes from the very greatest, albeit very deadest, heroes that American history has to offer coupled, with the finishing KO touches from the platitudes of someone as esteemed as Marc Ecko, possibly measure up?

Pale, surely is a fit description.

However, this link was not posted as a joke nor indiscriminately even if the site URL domain name 'Devilducky' has a humorous ring.

In a grave time of war twenty-somethings tagging, what should have been, an impregnable / heavily guarded/ untouchable Air Force One with base graffiti, while filming the act and then posting it for all the world's gawkers to see is not my idea of a Buster Keaton sight gag. Fortunately, these terrorists were only armed with Krylon and not C4 with a cellphone link-up.

Our current leadership has gone to extraordinarily great lengths to instill fear in then, provide unquestioned assurances to, our populace that, only they can protect us from bogeymen.

Yet, here it is... a weakness so easily exploited, a chink in our titanium armor, a hole in fortress America's fence... Call the Department of Homeland Security! Fire Chertoff, bring back Tom Ridge... Oh, the irony!

Sorry, for the terminology... but, the right had a bird... apologies again for the pun... just last week because a website attempted to expose the defense capabilities of Air Force One.

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002315.html

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/04/08/MNGESI5U6C1.DTL

We are discussing VC-25A/ N28000 and N29000. The jets that carried our President cross country to safety on 9/11 and are depended upon as a flying bunker in times of nuclear crisis.

http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/af1/af1info.html

Guess this little stunt proved that the USAF has nothing to worry about as these 747's are venerable to sabotage just sitting idle on the tarmac.

My sincerest apologies to any readers of this notable history site who may find a blatant attack on AF1 to be less than serious and nothing more than a mere juvenile prank.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

As Iraq slips further into chaos/civil war/out of US dominated control and their (Iraq's) Shiite fighters increasingly gravitate toward Iran for support/leadership the US is now forced to fully buffer/fight against this increasing interdependency.

With Iran playing such a potentially pivotal role in determining/dictating the future outcomes in Iraq the US must step up now, not later, regardless of Israeli actions or inactions. The DOD/Pentagon could to see this months ago but, were in no position to act. Now they have no choice as it is either lose the Iraq War or open up the theater into the next operational phase... Iranian Front.

Military response/reprisals by the US against Iran is being determined strictly by the directions of the Iraq War with the Iranian nuclear issue being a convenient excuse for widening the front, backhanding/handcuffing Iran and regaining control lost on the ground in Iraq misspent over the past three years.

US military operations are already underway inside Iran. This is why Ahmadinejad is so freely belligerent. He has no other choice as his regime is already under attack from within by the US.

This is also why the former US generals are so upset because they realize the opportunities/time squandered in Iraq and the need now to waste ever more precious resources hammering down errant nails that should have been secured (36) months ago.

The cards are already dealt and Iran is about to be trumped.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Peter,

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. -- Albert Camus

The buzz on the net is that Ecko's AF1 attack was staged and point to a disclaimer on the Still Free website as proof. This little bit of lawyering proves nothing and whether this film is doctored or not there is no denying that something is terribly off kilter in our country.

Thankfully, the excellent educator's at our nations finest colleges, many whom have appeared here at HNN, are out enforce to save what little shred of dignity remains of this once proud landscape. The actions displayed yesterday at the Stanford University Hoover School is the real deal proof that it is we who are the DECIDERS.

The occupants of the White House need reminded from time to time that it is we who temporarily let them live in our house. That it is we who pay their bus fair salary, a mere pittance issued in gratis, to those that are monetarily wealthy beyond any conceivable imagination however, morally/ ethically/ spiritually bankrupt they may be. Look no further than with a quick perusal of select officials 2005 tax returns.

The opportunities squandered following 9/11 can never be forgotten nor forgiven. The actions and inactions by this administration are irrefutable evidence with each passing day. Who are these 33% that still exude unwavering support for this current failed policy? This morning, Mr. Krauthammer was indignant against the "General's 6" spitting blood to cite the success of Afghanistan for these ingrates to just shut-up and go away. Ol' Chuck needs to learn how to browse the internet to see that the Taliban have not been vanquished nor is the Afghan War won. Far from it, as the Russians found out after ten years and a total collapse of their once vaunted society.

A discussion on Iraq is no longer worth the type space and now the Iran War phase has begun in earnest with preemptive strikes by Iran not the US...

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L21121431.htm

What does the upcoming week have in store? What new screw turn will appear? Who will the headliner(s) be and will they be savior(s) or opportunist(s)?

History is unwritten.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

You're a good man for not pitching Ritter's sexual peccadilloes or troubles into the discussion mix.

That being said, if Ritter is a liar or incompetent, as you claim, then you need to cite proof as to where he is/was wrong on Iraq and the justifiable need for US preemptive action?

Even talking points to discredit the findings/opinions of Richard Butler or Hans Blix are acceptable to this poster.

The 'Henny Penny' crowd heard this spiel from Donald Rumsfeld on August 11, 2003 to justify the Iraq invasion and then refute the uptick in insurgent violence. Deja-vu the same tired cliches are being brandied about as we condition the populace for war with Iran.

As a 33% 'er you need to do better than wave Ritter's degree in flip-flopology from the JF Kerry School of Government to dispel his opinions.

Out of curiosity, why is Alternet a poor selection choice in website reading material while the Weekly Standard is not questioned in such a manner? Race car drivers who veer right end up against the wall.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Peter,

Five great enemies to peace inhabit with us; avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace. -- Petrarch

Charles Krauthammer is both vile and pernicious while being the epitome of the five enemies to peace as stated by Petrarch. However, like all Strauss acolytes this one requires constant/particular monitoring to properly gage the pro-war camp sentiment and potential direction of this Administration. The WAPO is the newspaper of record in Washington and CK is their shining star.

Yesterday, the students and professors at Stanford bravely faced down riot gear police to block the lone entrance to the Hoover Institute preventing GWB's motorcade from proceeding to a scheduled meeting with Stanford scholars at a symposium chaired by George Schultz. The meeting was moved to Schultz's home.

Kudos to the faculty and students of this prestigious university but, what is disturbing is twofold in that the MSM/ internet missed coverage of the happenings and that George Schultz still holds sway and commands an audience. Don't these guys ever go away?

Have a good evening...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Andy,

You're quite right that was not a good example and all Japanese do not hate us as I have many good friends to prove otherwise. I never did find out who my wall writer was or explain to the ignoramus that German exiles working for the USG not, solely American ingenuity, created the A-bomb.

Conversely, on a day trip to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor I was in a group of mostly Japanese tourists and this one American WWII veteran with our group tagged onto me like glue. He complained like a madman the whole morning saying things like "forty years they want us to forget and kiss their ass" or "look at this place (Hawaii) who won the war" and worse. He was a very nice man but, had some serious baggage although, I couldn't bring myself to fault him. I didn't even have the heart to remind him how we gained Hawaii.

It may take a few generations for the wounds of Hiroshima/ Nagasaki to fully heal over and Americans will in all probability forget much more quickly than the Japanese. Well, we were the deliverer not the receiver.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

N.

You are correct in that like some Palestinians there are steadfast Israeli's who do not wish for any type of settlement. There is not only thousands of years of relevant history to consider, strong tribalism, a need for secure scarce land/resources and incessant pride but, most important of all the considerations, this is a very big money business. Billions of dollars. This cash cow will not die a silent/ peaceful slaughterhouse death.

As for dealing directly with Hamas my emotions are mixed. Unfortunately, the US blows the democracy horn loud/long/strong with Israel toe tapping to the beat until the sour note of the Hamas election victory ruins the tune. Now the US and Israel do not want to play alongside the democratically elected Palestinian Authority.

This is in no way an endorsement of the murderous/ treacherous Hamas who need to renounce all forms of violence and fully recognize the State of Israel. Until Hamas moves forward in the direction of diplomacy without violence then this issue will play out in death, subjugation, isolation, impotence, poverty, fear, hate and all those other niceties we've grown accustomed to over the past (60) years.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Peter,

Not much to report of the US/ Iran front. China's Hu and the Falun Gong lady dominated today's wire.

The June 2nd Nevada bunker buster bomb test was noteworthy as was this essay by Scott Ritter...

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/themix/35226/

And the typical 'glue sniffing' tripe from the Kristol boys...

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/117hyfxg.asp

Scott Ritter is a remarkable talent who the Bush's should take into closer confidence. Ritter could be of great benefit to the 'Decider' especially, when Rumsfeld tells reporters today, "Henny Penny the sky is falling" when asked about Iran's nuclear initiatives.

Sorry, but Rummy needs to be put out to pasture or to a nice group rest home for delinquent seniors. He has served our country --FILL IN THE BLANK-- and his bank account extremely well. It is time for some fresh ideas/approaches.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush continues to shoot the wrong horse by putting listless Scott McClellan out of his misery and Scotty didn't want to die... He loved the WH press pool abuse that much... Helen Thomas can have that kind of effect on a man with the whips and chains and rubbing jelly... now he can spend some much needed time off trying to find a conscience.

Day 1676 since 'W' promised to bring in OBL 'dead or alive'... Way to smoke 'em out GWB...

Take care...


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Peter,

That is exactly a large part of the problem, "Hamas et al have nothing to live and die for except terrorizing and murdering Israeli civilians" it is a sad existence. Arafat screwed over those peoples chance at any standard of living for decades. He had all of the money and opportunity to provide for his people yet chose hate in spite of his peoples lack. Anyone that articulates that a homicide bombing is "clever" has got some pretty big issues over the value of life.

Friedman, you are demonstratably correct. The wall works. Too bad they didn't do it decades ago. Palestinians are recalcetrant, there is no TRUE negotiation.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Good one Patrick! "Ritter is a remarkable talent" My information is that he is either a liar or an incompetant, or maybe he is a graduate of the John Kerry school of flipflops.
Citing Alternet are we now? I thought these boards we a little more about disussing facts, not throwing up biased propaganda.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Patrick,

Not that I am above bringing up Ritter’s sexual proclivities, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself yet.

Check out these sites for Ritter’s lying/incompetence/flip-flopping

http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/ritter.htm

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=091802A

Funny you should bring up Iran. Did you know that Ritter has proclaimed GWB will bomb Iran in June? How reliable is that?

The Weekly Standard might be just as suspect on their opinion stuff. But Alternet is practically ALL opinion stuff.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

"Hate" is a pretty strong word there drama queen. It is an obvious mis-application here. The US/Japan relationship is anything but hateful.

Now I'm gonna ask you to concentrate on the flow of the discussion. I responded "Think Hiroshima/Nagasaki" to your illusion that Israel must kill “tens of Millions” of Iranis to succeed in a military conflict with them. Everyone in Japan did not have to die for them to capitulate. Nor will it be the case when Israel bombs Iran. Ultimately, I disagree with your holding that unless everyone in Iran is killed they cannot get their mind right.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Right! The rest of the world should sit idly by while Dinnerjad exclaims that they will soon wipe Israel off the map, while simultaneously insisting on Iran's "right" to possess nuclear weapons? Puhleez, there is a saying for perspectives like yours, it is, "you can't see the forest from the trees". Further even If I were gullible enough to adopt your myopic approach to foreign policy I would be prevented from coming to the same conclusion that the hate of Israel and Dinnerjad's sudden acceleration of nuclear technology are unrelated because my experience has taught me that most of the leaders in the Middleast are LIARS. Now do you see why the world community (me included) find Iran's nuclear ambitions a threat to global harmony.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

Thanks Patrick, I can now feel justified in maintaining a broad characterization of ALL Japanese based on your little ancedote. Apparently, they are far different than our minesule group of WWII vets and others likeminded that continue to despise the Japanese.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

I think Iran's crazy, bellicose incitement is a good thing. The US will not have to involve itself at all, but Europe better tighten their chinstraps. Ahmadinajadadinamadajad's fear of the US is running wild in his imagination (as designed by our policy) and he done blinked and that blink is in the form of overagressive rhetoric toward the US. If he had any REAL power he would not discuss it. Why pick out the US to engage when the US is silent? Given that the US could end Iran tomorrow, Amad is trying to get some kind of response from US so a diolougue could begin saving them face and retaliation. Mere whistling in the dark. The bombing of Iran will not come from the US it will come from Israel and it won't be long. Israel has not been too good at holding onto land but boy are they good at kicking the crap out of their neighbors. People talk about Iran now being the dominent state in the region. Think again, it is Israel that is the dominant player and has been since 1967.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

They would only have to bomb em back into the stone age. You know, for them, about 10-15 years.
Whether YOU think it would be "foolish" or not is immaterial, it's gonna happen sooner or later. Sooner if ahmadjineuejslmvnvcidekd keeps blustering the annilation of Israel. Personally, I hope I have a front row seat.

BTY: The Wall has slowed the madmen to about 2 a year.


andy mahan - 9/18/2006

It won't take killing tens of millions. Think Hiroshima/Nagasaki.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/29/2006

Repeat for the ones totally lacking
the notion of a proof recognized by
any international legal expert:

Still, there is no a single piece
of real evidence that Iran's mullas
do pursue the uranium for military
purposes. On the contrary, there are
quite enough, though not overwhelming,
evidence, verified by the international nuclear experts that
they don't.


jason ssg - 4/27/2006

Above, you said-

"Do I have to remind you that a people decides on its defense policy according to its own perception of the dangers that threaten it from its perceived enemy and NOT according to what that enemy says his intentions are!"

I need make no more reply than that- you've made the argument for me.


N. Friedman - 4/24/2006

Peter,

Has it not occurred to you that Arafat not only acquiesced in the terror campaign but actually financed it and probably planned.

And do not tell me that the Mitchell report cleared him. Substantial evidence was found thereafter showing his hands on pretty much the entire campaign.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/22/2006

Since yours was a free-response answer, but not to my arguments, I repeat them, word by word:
Iranians are religious fanatics, but
they aren't, as Saddam wasn't, suicidal in regards to the existence
of Iran as a state and Iranians as a nation. Even having a small arsenal of nuclear weapons they know as well as you and me do that they are not a match for even Israel nuclear power,
not mentioning the American one.
Therefore they will never ever use it
against those countries, unless under direct attack, but then it's going to be too late: their capability in this sense will be totally destroyed.
Still, there is no a single piece
of real evidence that Iran's mullas
do pursue the uranium for military
purposes. On the contrary, there are
quite enough, though not overwhelming,
evidence, verified by the international nuclear experts that
they don't.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Peter,

Ha, Ha. If you think I have done wrong, then I certainly apologize.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Omar,

The first quote is Berman, not me. However, I did quote him and also quoted him noting that his dispute was with Jews, not Israel's borders.

The rest of what you write is crazy


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Omar,

Evidence please!!! I note, in the meanwhile, that bin Laden has stated otherwise, pointing closer to Saudi Arabia as the main source of his hostility.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Peter,

I do not see it as a conspiracy theory. I think that The Economist advocates a conventional viewpoint.

Note: you have no evidence to disagree with Karsh. In fact, I doubt you have even heard of him.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Peter,

Are you making an argument or a rant? So, the violence did not help Barak lose the election in February 2001? Are you really saying that? Or, do you believe that a country that has regular elections is not democratic? In any event, I was saying that violence led to the defeat of Barak. Do you have any facts which show otherwise? I doubt it.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Peter,

There are more than a few non-Jewish historians who agree with Goldhagen.

The point here, however, is that the evidence for a nationalism revival, as opposed to an imperial revival, is thin. In fact, I think The Economist is almost surely wrong.

As for Jewish paranoia, what are Jews to think when they hear speeches by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or read the HAMAS covenant? Are their words really the language of nationalism? Have you actually read any of their words? If you had, you would have a difficult time calling the language nationalistic, rather than imperial.

Are Jews wrong to be paranoid regarding Muslim intentions? Are you sure? While Israel is a powerful country, that does not mean its enemies are not real and not willing to fight, or am I wrong?

My gut reaction: when people resort to genocidal, imperial language and give speeches that sound transnational, it is idiotic to dismiss the plain meaning of such language too easily. There is a long history of such language being real, especially in the Muslim regions.

If you read Bernard Lewis - whom you claim you admire -, you would understand that the dominant politics in the Muslim regions is not usually national. Rather, the political language of Islam is transnational and imperial.

I thus assume, when I hear political language from Muslim religious zealots - e.g. the leaders of Iran - that sounds transnational themes that such themse probably are, unless there is clear language to the contrary, transnational.

Now, The Economist is the product of establishment thought in Britain. That thought is colored by more than a generation of thinking which holds a benign view of what is occurring in the Gulf region - because that theory has been good for Britain, businesswise -. Its theory of the world is that the violence we see is a rare abberation by a tiny group with a limited grievance, notwithstanding evidence that the "tiny" group is rather substantial if not, as some historians of the region (e.g. the famous Ephraim Karsh) the majority, and has non-specific grievances that are not subject to easy remedy -. This is what Karsh recently penned:

These historical claims [i.e. those of Islamic radicals] are in turn frequently dismissed by Westerners as delusional, a species of mere self-aggrandizement or propaganda. But the Islamists are perfectly serious, and know what they are doing. Their rhetoric has a millennial warrant, both in doctrine and in fact, and taps into a deep undercurrent that has characterized the political culture of Islam from the beginning. Though tempered and qualified in different places and at different times, the Islamic longing for unfettered suzerainty has never disappeared, and has resurfaced in our own day with a vengeance. It goes by the name of empire.

And:

Something of the same logic clearly underlies the carefully plotted rise of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, the (temporarily thwarted) attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to exploit the demand for free elections there, and the accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Indeed, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in the Toronto Globe & Mail, some analysts now see a new “axis of Islam” arising in the Middle East, uniting Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood, elements of Iraq’s Shiites, and others in an anti-American, anti-Israel alliance backed by Russia.

Whether or not any such structure exists or can be forged, the fact is that the fuel of Islamic imperialism remains as volatile as ever, and is very far from having burned itself out. To deny its force is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased or deflected is to play into its hands. Only when it is defeated, and when the faith of Islam is no longer a tool of Islamic political ambition, will the inhabitants of Muslim lands, and the rest of the world, be able to look forward to a future less burdened by Saladins and their gory dreams.


Now, Karsh, whom I believe to be Jewish, is a renowned historian - as any student of the region knows -. I take his word ten times over in comparison with The Economist.
Frankly, he knows more about the region on his tiny pinky than all the writers at The Economist combined.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Omar,

Have it your way. Nontheless, the 9/11 attack on the US likely had nothing at all to do with the Palestinian Arabs.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2006

Peter,

The case of the Intifadah of 2000 involved rejection by Palesinian Arabs of the peace proposal of June 2000 - and, I am not saying the proposal was sufficient but only that Palestinian Arabs rejected it -. That rejection soon turned rather violent, to which Arafat raised not a finger to quiet, even when President Clinton made his famous bridging offer of December 2000, to Palestinian Arabs that a deal was at hand.

Prince Bandar has made clear that Arafat not only did not raise a finger to stop the violence but he lied to his people and the world about the terms of the offer placed on the table by Clinton - an offer which met Arafat's redline, according to Bandar, for resolving the dispute -.

The result of all the violence was to drive Barak's party from power. Arafat, not being a complete idiot, surely knew that the violence would drive Barak's party from power yet Arafat never raised a finger or said a word of consequence to his people that a deal was near or that the violence should stop so that final negotiations could occur. So far as can be discerned, he was actually financing the violence.

Now, Barak was driven from power. And Sharon was left with an ongoing mess. Israelis were being blown up in cafes, pizza parlours, etc. A wedding was blown up. But he was not in power as that mess became more and more violent.

In the world you and I live in - say, in the US - were that sort of violence to occur, the result would be straight forward. We would go after those involved with all our might, rather like we responded to what occured with 4 non-Iraqis, I believe civilians, were killed in Fallujah. The Israelis did the same, only rather less violently than the US did in Fallujah.

Now, the approach was not a perfect approach. Sharon believed - incorrectly, as the facts show - that a show of force would cause the Palestinian Arabs to back down in a short period. So, with failure, he upped the ante on attacks, etc., etc, etc. Eventually - against the will of much of the world (witness the ICJ opinion) -, he built a barrier but that was not a one day endeavor. But, even then, the attacks did not stop until he went directly after the leadership of HAMAS, killing Yassin and Rantisi. So, it was not merely the barrier which ended the violence but it was part of the process, an important part.

It is my impression that some 500 Israelis died during the period the barrier was being built - and some of it is still going up. On your theory, Sharon should have turned the cheek and lived with the attacks during the period the barrier was being built. My view is that he adopted the least immoral alternative, given the circumstances. And my view, killing Yassin and Rantisi brought a respit which allowed the current state to be created and, after that, enough of the barrier to be completed to make quiet harder to break.

Now, whatever the International law may say, destroying homes in response to people being killed is not immoral. It is a rather tame response that spares lives while sending a message. International law assumes, by contrast, that violent responses to occupation are all individual so "group" punishment is considered illegal. That, to me, however, makes the law an ass. The Palestinians, by their own polling, supported a policy of committing serial massacres of civilians, meaning that their was a collective endeavor. Morally, a collective response was proper and one which destroyed homes was, given the provocation, perfectly moral as it was the least deadly alternative.

You say Israelis killed civilians. That, frankly, is a gross distortion. Most Palestinian Arab civilians who were killed were killed standing directly with combatants - sometimes serving as human shields -. In this regard, I note that International law requires combatants to operate away from civilians. That is for a good reason, namely, combatants can expect to be shot at and are legally shot at.

Now, I suspect you would say that Palestinian Arabs had no choice. But, frankly, that is garbage. The Palestinian Arabs adopted a strategy - that is, conducting serial massacres - which, by any version of just war theory, is illegitimate. In fact, by any understanding of just war theory, their entire war is unjust, notwithstanding any theoretical justice in the Palestinian cause.


N. Friedman - 4/21/2006

Peter,

So says you from your smug vantage point where no one tries to blow you up in the path of the almighty.


Randll Reese Besch - 4/21/2006

Even dropping conventional fuel-air bombs from the 2,000lb to the massive MOAB 15,000lb on nuclear installations will for all practical purposes produce nuclear fall out re. radialogical devices per se.
Also this act of unprovoked attack in the mode of WW2 dictatorships gives ample reason to "Kill America" i.e. USA.The past is present building the future. WW3:the 9th Crusade.These unelected madmen want this & they have the weapons to wreck the world.
Check the known USA arsenal lately?


N. Friedman - 4/21/2006

Peter,

First, I also know people from Iran. More than a few. However, they are not typical of Iranians as they left or became refugees.

For example, one had to leave because her family owned the franchise for, I believe, Coca Cola, which meant her family had close ties to the Shah. She is in hiding still in France. Another had to leave because he is Jewish. The Israeli government paid $50,000 ransom to get him out (as they paid to get tens of thousands of other Jews out of Iran). He still has contact in Iran so I know quite a bit from talking with him.

Now, the Economist may be right about Iran. Or maybe not. Maybe the nationalist card is being played. Or, maybe Goldhagen is correct and the Islamist card is being played. Or, maybe it is all just hot air.

I note that your statement above is full of arrogance, as if The Economist really is expert on the doings of average Iranians. I think they are not. I think that friendliness and ideology are two different things. In fact, personal warmth is the norm for the entire region, as such is famously part of the culture.

As for you blurb about Bat Ye'or, she cannot visit Iran because she is Jewish. That problem, frankly, is an issue of religion and Islamism, not of nationalism since Israel is not a threat to Iran, objectively speaking, since it does not covet Iran's territory and is not even a neighbor of Iran. However, Iran has an in, evidently, for Israel. Whether such is a cover story to make it difficult for Arab countries to complain about Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons remains to be seen. I think such to be likely, but I am not sure and do not much want to find out the hard way.

Frankly, I think that the viewpoint of the Economist regarding the Gulf Region is to pretend that the religious revival is benign while there is ordinary nationalism at work, nationalism which just happens to use genocidal rhetoric on a regular basis. Not noted carefully is that genocidal rhetoric must have an audience and, given its prevalence in that part of the world, a big audience. That is not adequately accounted for by The Economist. And note: the genocidal rhetoric is, even by the normally exagerated rhetoric of the region, extraordinay.




N. Friedman - 4/21/2006

Peter,

I do endorse Sharon's program of suppressing the Intifadah. I think he did so in the least brutal way that circumstances permitted. The alternative - akin to what the US did in Fallujah - would have been brutal. Note, after 4 non-Iraqis were brutally murdered, we immediately killed hundreds of civilians and, in the end, basically destroyed the entire town, killing thousands and thousands.

You say Israel created HAMAS. I think that is nonsense that totally ignores the history of the region. In fact, the religious elements akin to HAMAS are on the rise across the Muslim regions. I note that Martin Kramer reports polling that shows that the desire of having Shari'a as the only source of law is the view of 65% of Muslims in the PA, in Egypt and in Jordan. Such is the Islamist viewpoint. Israel did not create demand for that product. Such is the result of the Islamic revival.

Now, your argument is logical in theory. It, however, is not supported by fact or history. It might be but, something you do not recognize, is that the devout Muslim position is, for the most part, that there simply cannot be peace with Israel, other than a hudna, because Israeli land was once part of the House of Islam (i.e. dar al-Islam). Such fact is a critical fact, as it instigates dispute that more reasoned minds on the Arab side, and there are some, have difficulty living with (e.g. Sadat, who died over that point) and such view is a much, much larger point for the Arab side than for the Israeli side.

Now, I do not deny that Israel has its crazies. One killed Rabin. But such group is not large, as it is in the Arab regions. And, as noted with the Gaza pullout, such viewpoint decided to cooperate with national interest rather than religious doctrine - which is, in Jewish thinking, not the majority view to begin with -.

Which is to say, the viewpoint I noted above of total rejection is the norm of the person on the street in, say, Egypt (as noted by Genieve Abdo in her book No God But God) and is the view of the religious authorities at al-Azhar University including the view of the Grand Shiek Tatwani and his associates. In the case of Israel, rejectionism is the view of a very small minority, not of the mainstream religious establishment or of the average person.

So, I think you are just mistaken.


N. Friedman - 4/21/2006

Omar,

You write: Pre 9/11 there were, there still are, very serious grievances , objections and deep resentment to US policy in the ME particularly re the Palestinian /Israeli conflict.(To pretend otherwise is inane.)
9/11 was the reaction of a certain segment, then a small minority, to this policy and was what that segment perceived to be retaliation against it.


I do not think that to be an accurate description. I take the Jihadists at their word. Israel was not on the al Qaeda agenda over the course of a decade.

I think their objection is the objection of Sayyid Qutb. He viewed the west much as Khomeni did, as the great seducer and, hence, destroyer of Islam. Israel is only a small part of all that. Which is why al Qaeda has not, over all, focused primarily on Israel and has not made Israel the most important cause in the endless and always changing list of Medieval grievances.

Now, your big grievance, from what I can tell, is with Israel. But that is you. So far as can be seen, Arabs have not really made that dispute front and center as there appear always to be other, closer, fish to fry. So, there is much rhetorical support for your cause but no long too much actual support.

Which is to say, I think you are mistaken.

In any event, even if Israel is the big problem to Arabs, why should the US bow to the Arab view? Arab countries continue to sell oil to the West and, in fact, the Jihadis bomb people who clearly support the Arab side again Israel (e.g. Spain and Indonesia [i.e. bombing in Bali], Russia), meaning that siding with those who support the Arab side against Israel pays no dividends. The Jihadis are too willing to use violence against innocent civilians, including little children, in any imagined or real grievance, no matter how small. So, why should anyone give a hoot about what concerns Arabs, since there is no benefit to doing so?

In any event, it is my view that the supporters of your cause would like to hijack the cause of the Jihadis. That does not mean your cause is the same.


N. Friedman - 4/21/2006

Peter,

Here is where he spoke of rash action: "My point is : more than any other single factor Bush's reaction to the horrendous 9/11, by lashing indiscriminately"


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

I saw that from his words. He spoke of rash action by the US.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

You are changing what I said. No, not all Palestinian Arabs are terrorists. However, there is not much real interest, among those with influence to permit a settlement, to settle. Do you see the difference?


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

Aside from some rhetorical excess (e.g. the notion that Israel wants the bomb to drive out Palestinian Arabs or the US wants it to sell junk food or Russia wants it to buy junk food), you make intelligent argument.

Your assumption is that the mullahs are not representative of average Iranians. My view is that we simply do not know the views of average Iranians. So, I do not reach your conclusion.

I think we need to be very careful, remembering that the Iranian government convinced the parents of an entire generation of young teenage children into suicide battles and into uncleared mine field. Such kids were given little keys to paradise. Such suggests a mental world more than a little different from the one you and I inhabit. Again, my point is that we do not know the view of average Iranians.

We do, moreover, know that in a quasi-democratic election in Iran, those who voted opted heavily for the most reactionary, religiously fanatical lunatic it is possible to imagine - the man with visions of the 12th imam and dreams of restoring Islam's lost empire, even in Europe -.

The opinion makers in the West did not see the results of the Iranian election occuring at all so I cringe when I read, as is common in The New York Times, etc., the cocksure opinion that average Iranians really hold different views. I think they are making wild assumptions.

Again, I think we really do not know and that Western opinion makers do not have access to average Iranians. So, Westerners form general opinions from the small group of elite, more liberal opinion to which they have access.


Whether the Iranian president would have won a Western style election is difficult to say. Then again, if there were true Western institutions in place, it would be a very different country so the question is difficult, logically speaking, to ponder. And understanding the Iranians is difficult and understanding their leadership, even more so.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

The assumption you have is that they set out to destroy the moderates. They, contrary to your view, did not see those they acted against as moderates. They thought they were like HAMAS, only with a better smile. Such, it is my impression, was also Bill Clinton's view by the time he left office.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

I take Omar's position differently than you do. I take him to hold that rash action in reply to terror leads to more terror. From that point - an important argument -, he would then have it that we should, nonetheless, act rashly, only differently than the Bush administration acted. To me, that is contradictory.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Omar,

You write: My point is : more than any other single factor Bush's reaction to the horrendous 9/11, by lashing indiscriminately on anything and everything Arab and/or Moslem, is what made Osma bin Laden (standing for violent virulently anti Western J/C Islamism)the icon that he is now.

This may or may not be true. It is certainly an important argument.

But, then you write, contradicting your own logic:

If we recall the days that succeeded 9/11 some brave voices were raised in the USA demanding a reevaluation of US policy in the Middle East.

I do not see why we needed to change our policy in response to the rage of lunatics. In fact, what you suggest has the same problem that you find with the Bush policy.

In simple terms, your version of reality rewards violent behavior. That, to me, is an arguable invitation for more violent behavior. Why? Because such behavior was shown to work. And the lunatics who push such attacks would be shown they can get things by behaving violently.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

If you read what I wrote, I said some Israelis did not want to settle. Actually, Sharon - as Peres made clear - did want to negotiate and was willing, from early on, to reach a compromise. Such was said by Peres to Haaretz. Sharon - the same as Bill Clinton -, believed that Arafat was not interested in settlement. Now Arafat is gone and is replaced by the revolutionary HAMAS party.

So again, this time to you: what is the point of negotiating with HAMAS? There is not a shred of real evidence that they want a settlement.

As usual, Peter, you have not read what I wrote. Had you done so, you would have noted that there are Israeli rejectionists. But, if you followed the events closely, they are not in power. Instead, the group in power in Israel wants to settle. However, it takes two to tango. And, unless you really are delusional and ignorant, you would understand what HAMAS is.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Patrick,

Obviously, this is a sad situation, all around. I ask you, would you negotiate with HAMAS? Are you aware of the group's ideology? This is not an ordinary political party. It is a revolutionary party. While drawing close parallels to European history may be a mistake, I note that numerous bright people have. You might read Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism.

I note that he has written some in The New York Times in which the gist of groups like HAMAS is discussed.

Explaining the patron saint of Islamism,Sayyid Qutb, Berman writes::

Sitting in a wretched Egyptian prison, surrounded by criminals and composing his Koranic commentaries with Nasser's speeches blaring in the background on the infuriating tape recorder, Qutb knew whom to blame. He blamed the early Christians. He blamed Christianity's modern legacy, which was the liberal idea that religion should stay in one corner and secular life in another corner. He blamed the Jews. In his interpretation, the Jews had shown themselves to be eternally ungrateful to God. Early in their history, during their Egyptian captivity (Qutb thought he knew a thing or two about Egyptian captivity), the Jews acquired a slavish character, he believed. As a result they became craven and unprincipled when powerless, and vicious and arrogant when powerful. And these traits were eternal. The Jews occupy huge portions of Qutb's Koranic commentary -- their perfidy, greed, hatefulness, diabolical impulses, never-ending conspiracies and plots against Muhammad and Islam. Qutb was relentless on these themes. He looked on Zionism as part of the eternal campaign by the Jews to destroy Islam.

(Emphasis added). http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/23/magazine/23GURU.html?pagewanted=print&position=top ("The Philosopher of Islamic Terror").

In my experience, philosophies that "objectify" whole peoples are dangerous. (And, I might add, Qutb's view of the eternal role of Jews could just have easily have been written by the European antisemitic movement.) And, moreover, as the article makes clear, this really has fairly little to do with the nation of Israel.

Continuing with the article:

The true confrontation, the deepest confrontation of all, was over Islam and nothing but Islam. Religion was the issue. Qutb could hardly be clearer on this topic. The confrontation arose from the effort by Crusaders and world Zionism to annihilate Islam. The Crusaders and Zionists knew that Christianity and Judaism were inferior to Islam and had led to lives of misery. They needed to annihilate Islam in order to rescue their own doctrines from extinction. And so the Crusaders and Zionists went on the attack.

But this attack was not, at bottom, military. At least Qutb did not devote his energies to warning against such a danger. Nor did he spend much time worrying about the ins and outs of Israel's struggle with the Palestinians. Border disputes did not concern him. He was focused on something cosmically larger. He worried, instead, that people with liberal ideas were mounting a gigantic campaign against Islam -- ''an effort to confine Islam to the emotional and ritual circles, and to bar it from participating in the activity of life, and to check its complete predominance over every human secular activity, a pre-eminence it earns by virtue of its nature and function.''


If you read the HAMAS covenant, it says basically the same thing. It says negotiations are a waste of time because there is no settlement other than Israel's destruction. And it says the way to destroy Israel is the traditional Islamic way of Jihad.

According to The New York Times ("Bombers Gloating in Gaza as They See Goal Within Reach: No More Israel," April 4, 2002, by Joel Brinkley):

"But now," he added, "everybody knows, and Israel will never be stable again."

On the night of the Passover attack, Dr. Zahar released a statement saying it was intended in part to shut down the cease-fire negotiations then under way, directed by Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the American special envoy.

In the interview today, Dr. Zahar explained, "the Zinni mission was bad for us" because, under the proposed terms of the cease-fire, groups like Hamas would be disarmed and their leaders arrested.

"Besides," Dr. Rantisi said, "we in Hamas believe peace talks will do no good. We do not believe we can live with the enemy."


Moreover, according to the article,

The goals of Hamas are straightforward. As Sheik Yassin put it, "our equation does not focus on a cease-fire; our equation focuses on an end to the occupation." By that he means an end to the Jewish occupation of historical Palestine.

Hamas wants Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements and full right of return for the four million Palestinians who live in other states. After that, the Jews could remain, living "in an Islamic state with Islamic law," Dr. Zahar said. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine."

Mr. Shenab insisted that he was not joking when he said, "There are a lot of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews."


Now, you might say that such was then and now is now. That is true. However, what these people quoted say is what appears in the HAMAS covenant. And, as you are aware, HAMAS appears to be standing by its policy now that it is in power.

So, I do not see what the Israelis would negotiate about. Perhaps, they might agree only to move half their people to the US.

Now, I do not deny that there are Israelis who do not want to settle. However, the government in power is committed to ceding land, which is the view of the vast majority of Israelis. The parties, when the Palestinian Arabs claimed to want to settle, could not reach agreement despite President Clinton's personal intervention - particularly in December of 2000 (when he met, according to Saudi Prince Bandar, Arafat's redline, something Arafat lied about and which, according to Bandar, caused the bloodshed and was a sin - his words - against the entire region). That leaves the option of ceding land as the Israeli government is doing.


N. Friedman - 4/20/2006

Peter,

Notwitstanding what you may have read in the see no evil - other than by Israelis - UK Guardian, in the last year, there have been several hundred attempts at suicide bombings and the like. Not many have succeeded. Such is reported in the Jerusalem Post and, I believe, also in Haaretz, among other places.

Few have succeeded because of the barrier, because the leadership of the Palestinian Jihadis have to hide more and thus the plans are less perfect, because the Israelis, perhaps, have improved their ability to detect such events, etc., etc.

I did not say all Palestinian Arabs are nuts and I do not say that all are terrorist. You basically are playing games with words.

I said that the terror attacks would be far more frequent, if the Palestinian Arabs could make them so. I think that is a fact. I think you changed my assertion because you did not want to address my argument.

You now write: "The latest cafe bombing was a calculated reprisal for a recent incident where Israelis slaughtered innocent Palestinians which was an incursion to get revenge for some prior outrage....etc..etc..." Evidence, please. It may have been a reprisal. Then again, it may have been designed to disrupt the HAMAS government. Or, it may have had some other purpose.

I note that there was a study reported on in Haaretz some time back. The study was by a Palestinian Arab researcher. The researcher concluded that the purpose of terror attacks - and this was over a year period - was not reprisal at all but to disrupt this or that event or to prevent a truce from taking place, etc., etc.

Which is to say, you are making a association which may, or may not, be so. Such is an example of post hoc ergo propter hoc. You are missing evidence connecting the association.` And, without the evidence, such is a fallacy, as any logician will tell you.

I note that I may have the article in my cache of articles. However, if you want to read it online, you would have to subscribe to Haaretz as, in fact, the paper charges to read archive issues.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/19/2006

Iranians are religious fanatics, but
they aren't, as Saddam wasn't, suicidal in regards to the existence
of Iran as a state and Iranians as a nation. Even having a small arsenal of nuclear weapons they know as well as you and me do that they are not a match for even Israel nuclear power,
not mentioning the American one.
Therefore they will never ever use it
against those countries, unless under direct attack, but then it's going to be too late: their capability in this sense will be totally destroyed.
Still, there is no a single piece
of real evidence that Iran's mullas
do pursue the uranium for military
purposes. On the contrary, there are
quite enough, though not overwhelming,
evidence, verified by the international nuclear experts that
they don't.


N. Friedman - 4/19/2006

Peter,

Those who read his books say he is a first rate historian. No one in his or her right mind would call him a racist.

Another point. The assumption you have that only a specialist in a field is entitled to an opinion. I think that is nonsense. I prefer Descartes' approach. If you do not know it, do some reading.


N. Friedman - 4/19/2006

Peter,

According to you: "they can't find a way to stop their cafes from getting blown up whenever the madmen on the Palestinian side of their long overdue and incomplete land-grab wall feel like it."

I harp first on the word "whenever." That is not so. If "whenever" were true, there would be a lot more bombings than now occur. In fact, the ability to conduct such a campaign has become terribly difficult which is why it has, compared to 2 years ago, largely abated. It might help you to investage the number of recent bombings.

Next I harp on your term "long overdue." What makes something "long overdue"? That is not an historical judgement. It is a biased editorial position based on your version of morality. Get real. The Palestinian Arabs may capture territory from Israel. Or, they may not. But, it is only "long overdue" to Palestinian Arabs. To the rest of us, it is merely a possible outcome - one which I believe to be rather uncertain - that one may or may not prefer.

Lastly, the term "land-grab" is not much of a term. In my book, the term is a moral characterization, not historical analysis. It allows quick comment that avoids any serious thought. That, lately, is your stock and trade.


N. Friedman - 4/19/2006

Peter,

I addressed Omar's point and only his point. What I stated is factual. You, by contrast, decided to change the topic and then question my bias from a point of view that was irrelevant.

I might note: You are also biased. Anyone who claims that Israel means to ethnically cleanse the captured territories on the basis that Israelis have built villages in those territories is, frankly, terribly biased. In fact, a person who says that does not have any idea what he is talking about.

Now, I do plead guilty to having a bias. But my bias does not lead me to the idiotic assertion that yours led you to. Again, are you really an historian? While I like to think so, you have jumped way off the wagon this time, thus suggesting terrible judgment.


N. Friedman - 4/19/2006

Peter,

The part of his resume I am familiar with is as follows:

Professor Emeritus at California University, Fresno.

He is author of a large number of books (I believe 16) including, recently, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (Random House). The book received superlative reviews - as have most of his other books, so far as I know. See e.g.

http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2005/10/13/opinion/bookfri.php (New York Times review):

The "war like no other," as Thucydides called it, continues to fascinate because it always seems pertinent, and never more so than in Victor Davis Hanson's highly original, strikingly contemporary retelling of the superpower confrontation he calls "a colossal absurdity." In his capable hands, the past, more often than not, seems almost painfully present.

http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:138654608&ctrlInfo=Round19%3AMode19b%3ADocG%3AResult&ao= (National Review):

DEFINITIVE. Engrossing. A masterpiece. It is difficult to marshal all the requisite superlatives for Victor Davis Hanson's new book on the Peloponnesian war.

According to the Washington Post:

A War Like No Other can be read as an elaborate excursus on the work of Thucydides, performed by Victor Davis Hanson, a former professor of classics who has made himself one of our premier military historians. Hanson might fairly be accused of overproduction -- still in his prime, he has authored or co-authored 15 other books -- but this study demonstrates the care of an avid, meticulous scholar whose learning can be worn lightly because it's so assured.

He has also had articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune and in countless numbers of magazines, both scholarly and popular. He has edited at least one book with famed military historian John Keegan. It is my understanding that he is on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly.

I believe, lastly, that he is also a senior fellow at The Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

I am shocked that you have never heard of him. He is really rather famous, both as an historian and as a political commentator (although I often disagree with his viewpoint).


N. Friedman - 4/19/2006

Peter,

Have you read her book? Or, is this the case of you thinking you know something?

If you had read what I had written, you would note that the point I noted is that Europe - as in the EU and, hence, the various European countries that are within its umbrella - is hip deep with respect to having a political and economic relationship with the Arab League. Note that - which shows that you did not read what I wrote - I did not say a word about immigration of Muslims.

Regarding her scholarship, I note that Victor Davis Hanson disagrees with you entirely. He thinks she is a rather fine scholar. According to him:

She is not a conspiracist at all, but an empiricist, whose work is based on observation, facts, and logic: look at the demography of Europe; look at the history of Christians living under Muslims (going to Church in Saudi Arabia is not the same as worshipping in a mosque in Madrid); and read not what Western elites say about Muslim clerics, but what Muslim clerics themselves say. So, yes, she is a scholar and should not be dismissed because her views bother us because they are largely insightful. Europe has a gut-check time coming very soon as it ponders Islamic populations in its own borders, the admission of Turkey into the EU (in some ways very good for the US, a disaster for Europe), and nuclear missile capability of Iran. We shall see whether it reawakens or not.

Many other historians agree (e.g. Martin Gilbert).

I shall say this again, hoping that something sticks in your brilliant - and I mean that adjective - mind: You can learn a lot from people who hold different positions than you hold. If you limit yourself to people with viewpoints you approve of, you will never learn how to think. Which is your exact problem as demonstrated by the fact that you will not even broach a writer who, in your mind - in this, case, incorrectly -, is a Likudnik. Has it occurred to you that a Likudnik might be a first rate scholar? Evidently not.

Well, some rather good historians seem to think highly of Ms. Bat Ye'or. I suggest you check that out as her book received rather good reviews.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

Following up on my last comment, you might read Paul Berman's book about Joshka Fischer and the New Left. His version of reality has the Europeans rather negative on Bush as a personal matter but also moving their own way. Bush, in this telling, is to blame for making rather bad arguments regarding Iraq. Berman says that a humanitarian argument would likely have convinced the European left to support the Iraq war.

You might also read Bat Ye'or book Eurabia. She rather convincingly shows that European interests are far more tied to the Arab regions than is generally understood. She has the Europeans largely lost in a sauce of their own making.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

Surely Bush has contributed a lot to the mess. I agree with that. But that is not the whole story.

Also part of the story is the fact that Europe wanted to go its own way. And that was not all Bush's doing. While he made the matter worse, so did Chirac.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

Watch your manners. Now, I am no fan of Bush. But, I do not believe in blaming him for all of history's problems.

The issue with the Islamic regions built up since 1979, if not earlier. The Islamists started to come to power in that year so it is a good starting place. So, that cannot be blamed on Bush nor could the intensity of it since 9/11 as it was already intense - just not reported on in the papers.

9/11 was evidently planned during the Clinton years - at the very time when it seemed that the Arab Israeli dispute would be resolved -. So, that cannot be blamed on Bush, Jr. - other than to say he did nothing to stop it, just like his predecessors.

The issue with Iraq also goes back. Now, starting a war with Iraq - a foolish move, in my humble view - has its roots, for the most part, in Bush, Jr. For that, he is to blame. But, so is his dad, to be frank.

The Arab Israeli dispute dates before Bush, Jr. as well. HAMAS came about before Bush also. The Intifadah began before Bush. Clinton says that is Arafat's personal doing. So, that cannot be blamed on Bush.

Now, you can say that Bush has not made the world a safer place. Whether it was going well before his term or whether it has sufferred during his time is certainly arguable, even likely. But, we do not have the benefit of knowing what someone else would have done after 9/11 and some of what has occurred might have occured anyway. For example, the Bali attack, among others.

So, get off your high horse. You are making, once again, a fool of yourself.


jason ssg - 4/18/2006

Sorry if I implied that "smaller, targeted" nuclear weapons production was by any means a thing of the past in the Bush Administration, as they are still actively pursuing such idiocy.

Soon enough, they'll get voted out.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

You write: Basically true, Mr. Friedman except (and it is a huge except) the massive and unrelenting building of Israeli "settlements" across huge swathes of the West Bank which can have no other purpose than to ethnically cleanse those areas of Palestinians in order to annex them to Israel proper.

I can see that Israelis living in Judea and Samaria suggest such territory will remain part of Israel.

However, the notion that such means ethnic cleansing strikes me as idiotic and ideological claptrap. In the years since Israel began building in the territories, the number of Palestinian Arabs has increased dramatically - the very opposite of what you claim -. Which is to say, the noted points is one of your less swift comments.

I do not think I made a one-sided statement. Neither you nor Omar has cited one bit of evidence that Israel has aims on any territory not already held by Israel - which is what I said -.

What you write is, for the most part, an unrelated rant. Some of it is true. Most of it is irrelevant to what I wrote.


jason ssg - 4/18/2006

"So why NOT total international nuclear disarmament starting with the Middle East?"

Total disarmament would be great!

Who disarms first?

That's why it doesn't, and won't, happen. No one wants to be the first to lower their guard, and everyone is so determined to be secretive that no one trusts anyone who says they HAVE disarmed. I really would like there to be a way, and I hope that better minds than mine come up with and implement it.

The thing you seem to disregard here is the basic perception, backed up by years of saber rattling, that Iran plans to use nuclear weapons when and if they attain them.

The argument can be made, quite correctly, that Iran is not the only country that has made such threats, as U.S. President Bush (enough mud has been slung at this name by some on this board that I'd feel repetitive if I added a single descriptor to it here- we'll just say he's misguided) and his administration actually wanted to research smaller nuclear weapons for, supposedly, more targeted uses. But, the general consensus in the U.S. seems to be that using U.S. nuclear weapons would be bad. Really, really bad.

What we Westerners hear from Iran is nothing so measured. What we hear are the voices of prominent influential Iranian leaders raised in unison with angry demonstrators saying Israel must be wiped from the planet at all costs and that nuclear weapons would do the job nicely.

This is why it is, by perception, entirely acceptable to many that the countries that have nuclear weapons and DON'T USE THEM (excepting the first time they were ever used, with much more and much worse than the foreseen results) can be more trusted than Iran- a country that wants nuclear weapons and seems to take pains to make it very clear that it would be disposed towards using them.

I'm not saying this is entirely right- as I mentioned, it seems as if the U.S. President Bush is sometimes fool enough to consider a nuclear option.

You say the idea that some countries being trusted and others not "... would imply sovereign political subservience or moral inferiority; both utterly unacceptable." Ideally, there would be no weapons capable of widespread destruction. Here's the deal- as long as countries who do not have nuclear weapons say they want nuclear weapons with the often expressed purpose of wiping their enemies off the face of the Earth there will be countries who should never be trusted with such weapons.

I don't know if that implies sovereign political subservience or moral inferiority (seeing as the cries of "The Prophet demands their deaths" are apparently from a religions standpoint, I don't know exactly at whose moral standards you're implying we are supposed to nod). What it does imply is a desire to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of people who say that they want to use them.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Correction:

This is the sentence with the mistake: "Was it harder to control Iran when it had a completely secret program?"

The sentence should read:

Was it EASIER to control Iran when it had a completely secret program?


N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

Ad hominem attacks are not an argument. There are also specialists on the Middle East who hold opinions rather close to that of Mr. Goldhagen. The name Bernard Lewis comes to mind. Also the name Martin Kramer.

You write: "What is new, thanks to Bush's blunders, is the opportunity for them to fairly easily GET away with it."

I am not one to defend Mr. Bush. However, I note that the Iranian program dates back more than a decade. That, by itself, shows your position to be nonsense. Was it harder to control Iran when it had a completely secret program?

Now, Bush's war in Iraq makes it more difficult to field an army. If you mean that, you are correct. Somehow I doubt you think he should field an army and invade.

As for possible diplomatic blunders, it is not clear he has blundered over Iran - at least not severely. He may have made errors. He may not have. So far as I can tell, he has stood together with the European powers on Iran. Now, it is my impression that the European powers are so locked in, diplomatically speaking, with the Gulf region that they are nearly paralyzed, unable quite to fathom that Iran may actually have bad intentions regarding Europe. Whether working with the Europeans is, accordingly, a mistake is not entirely clear. It may be. It might not be.



N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Omar,

There is nothing wrong in theory with making the region nuclear free. Whether such can be done in fact is another issue. It would be necessary for one or two of the region's regimes to reject their avowed policy to destroy a member state of the UN. If such were to occur, then your theoretically good idea might be taken seriously by the countries in the region.

The rest of your rant, however, is nonsensical. There is not a straw of evidence that Israel seeks to acquire any land that is not already in the country's hands.

Note: Israel has ceded substantial amounts of land to Egypt - and, in fact, more land was ceded by a substantial amount to Egypt than Israel now holds and, in fact, the land ceded was rather valuable as it has oil under it - and has returned land to Lebanon, which is exactly the opposite of what you claim.

Now, I do not doubt that people in the Middle East believe what you say about Israel. The problem is that what people believe and the facts are nearly the opposite. So, it is the people of the region who need to consider that their position is simply wrong.



N. Friedman - 4/18/2006

Peter,

I note the following problems with your position.

First, the Iranians did not commence building nuclear weapons - or whatever they are up to - recently. The program, rather, was discovered recently and, evidently, due to the action of persons who hate the regime - or, perhaps (albeit unlikely), people pretending to be such at the behest of the Iranian government -. Whether Iran has accelerated the program (as opposed merely to the rhetoric) due to the position taken by the Bush administration is possible but, at this point, a matter of speculation.

Second, the Israeli government is not fanatical. The country is hip deep with enemies - real enemies -. The Iranian government seems to be such an enemy as does the HAMAS government. Europeans are hardly friends of the Israelis. So, I think you misinterpret both the country's situation and the nature of its leadership.

Third, there is the possibility that the Iranian government means exactly what its leadership says. I note that such is the view of historian Daniel Goldhagen. He sees the various goings on in the Muslim regions, including in Iran, during the last number of years as connected events and he sees the potential development of the bomb by Iran as a frightening event, both for Israel and the West. As he wrote in The New Republic this March:

Political Islam--aggressive, totalitarian--is now fully on the offensive. On January 3, Iran announced it would restart its nuclear program, which, despite its formal denials, is transparently meant to produce a nuclear weapon. On January 25, Palestinians gave a resounding electoral victory to the avowedly annihilative Islamic messianic political party Hamas, which has now turned to Iran for assistance. And, in the last days of January and first days of February, four quiescent months after a Danish newspaper printed political cartoons of Mohammed, violent mass protests against Denmark and other European countries erupted in the Islamic world. However disturbing each of these three developments is individually, we would miss their greater significance if we did not see their fundamental relatedness. In fact, they are ominously more important than the sum of their parts.

And also:

No less than three successive Iranian presidents have publicly called for the annihilation of Israel and the effective mass murder of hundreds of thousands or millions. Falsely depicted in this respect as an Iranian "radical," Ahmadinejad's call to "wipe Israel off the map"--together with Iran's insistent drive to develop nuclear weapons--echoes the "moderate" former president and current Iranian power broker Hashemi Rafsanjani's more elaborate account from December 2001 of the Iranian political Islamic leadership's underlying thinking. "If, one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill, because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality." Here Rafsanjani is dispassionately thinking through the implications of a genocidal policy in which one nuclear bomb dropped near Tel Aviv would effectively destroy geographically tiny Israel. He gladly declares to his nation and the world that the costs--including hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Iranians dead as a result of nuclear retaliation from Israel's invulnerable nuclear-armed submarines--would be worth it.

And now, in the context of the current crisis, after years of withholding their support, Iranian clerics who follow Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual adviser, have ominously issued a fatwa justifying the use of nuclear weapons.


The Israelis and Goldhagen may be incorrect. They are not, however, paranoid or fanatical. There is a real issue here. As Goldhagen states:

This is not normal politics. This is not even the normal excess of normal politics. Imagine what European and American commentators would say if tens of thousands of Americans, Britons, Germans, or Israelis marched with calls for the murder of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, or Muslims in response to a few anti-American, anti-European, or anti-Semitic cartoons appearing in one, or a few, Arab or Islamic newspapers. Yet Western politicians and commentators have mostly indulged this outpouring of violent hatred. Even when decrying it, they blame the cartoons' publishers and express pious regret that the cartoons insulted the Prophet Mohammed and Muslims, as if there is any normal political cause and effect (let alone a proportionate one) operating here. This Western indulgence is extremely wrongheaded and self-injurious. It cloaks the political Islamic proto-intifada in a measure of legitimacy. It emboldens its instigators and its shock troops in the street, revealing the West's unwillingness to respond resolutely to these verbal and physical assaults with moral, rhetorical, and political clarity, and to convey the unapologetic message that the West's people and polities refuse to be attacked, intimidated, and cowed.

In the halls of power, Hamas is in ascent, armed with the hallucinatory anti-Semitic and murderous political Islamic ideology and practice that is grounded in its charter. This manifesto--which Hamas has repeatedly reaffirmed, especially its core annihilative element--explains to Palestinians (and any Westerners who bother to pay attention) political Islam's orientation toward Israel and the "imperialist" powers that support Israel. In a cascade of anti-Semitic accusations, Jews emerge virtually as evil incarnate (seeking "to demolish societies, to destroy values, to wreck answerableness, to totter virtues, and to wipe out Islam"), and they are calumnied as culpable for a vast catalogue of invented crimes against humanity ("there was no war that broke out anywhere without their [the Jews'] fingerprints on it") and for planning to subjugate the entire Middle East as a stepping stone to the rest of the world. All of Palestine (which includes all of Israel) and lands beyond must succumb to Hamas's uncompromising form of political Islam. Israel, of course, must be destroyed. And not just Israel the country.

The genocidal and apocalyptic charter's Article 7 declares: "Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah's promise, whatever time it might take. The Prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!" For Hamas, Allah's promise is the Palestinians'--indeed all Muslims'--command. And, showing that Allah's promise is directed not only at Israel--but that it governs political Islam's desired treatment of all non-Muslim peoples--Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas's parliamentary leader, declared to Italy's Il Giornale on February 4 in reference to the cartoons, "We should have killed all those who offend the Prophet," a principle that obviously translates into killing all those who ever offend the Prophet.




Arnold Shcherban - 4/17/2006

Peter,
Don't you think that your <The likelihood of an American pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran in the foreseeable future approximates the likelihood of space aliens in 2006 marching to the White House wielding the Holy Grail and installing the Easter Bunny as new dictator of America.> suits much, much better to
the suggestion of current US and Israel administration that Iran, even with nuclear weapons (which it unlikely seeks to have, but may, being deliberately pushed to by the US itself) could pose a serious threat to the world's and US
security?
And don't you think that, at least from the Iranian point of view, the possibility of the agressive superpower, which recently made its common practice to refuse to be limited by practically any international agreements and laws, if it considered the latter lying outside of its present interests and goals, to use the very nuclear weapons YOU are consider to be such is quite probable, indeed.
The Bush clique might not risk
to use them, but they definitely can
persuade Israel to do just that, knowing Israel is not needed to be persuaded very much to act against
Iran, plus feels completely safe with its own huge arsenal of those very weapons the US and Israel allegedly are desperately striving to prevent others (just unfriendly others) to have?
Again, being Iranian leader, I personally would not rule out such a possibility for a minute.
But of course, one of the most characteristic quality of Americans, in general, is their perpetual inability to try on other nations' shoes even theoretically.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/17/2006

Peter,
Don't you think that your <The likelihood of an American pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran in the foreseeable future approximates the likelihood of space aliens in 2006 marching to the White House wielding the Holy Grail and installing the Easter Bunny as new dictator of America.> suits much, much better to
the suggestion of current US and Israel administration that Iran, even with nuclear weapons (which it unlikely seeks to have, but may, being deliberately pushed to by the US itself) could pose a serious threat to the world's and US
security?
And don't you think that, at least from the Iranian point of view, the possibility of the agressive superpower, which recently made its common practice to refuse to be limited by practically any international agreements and laws, if it considered the latter impeding its present interests and goals, to use the very nuclear weapons, YOU are consider to be such, is quite probable, indeed.
The Bush clique might not risk
to use them, but they definitely can
persuade Israel to do just that, knowing Israel is not needed to be persuaded much to act against
Iran, plus feels completely safe with its own huge arsenal of those very weapons the US and Israel allegedly are desperately striving to prevent others (just unfriendly others) to have?
Again, being Iranian leader, I personally would not rule out such a possibility for a minute.
But of course, one of the most characteristic quality of Americans, in general, is their perpetual inability to try on other nations' shoes even theoretically.


N. Friedman - 4/17/2006

Peter,

I certainly did not call you a traitor. I said you should not use that term so loosely.


N. Friedman - 4/17/2006

Peter,

I must say I basically agree with your conclusions, both in your initial comment and your reply to Chris. There is not likely to be an attack on Iran and depleted uranium is not a nuclear weapon.

Chris' approach conflates legal definition with the ordinary dictionary definition. That conflation has done much to abuse the language and make real analysis more, not less, difficult.

I, however, again note my view that you could express yourself a bit less ideologically. Then, I would really agree more with you. For example, those who disagree with your view are not traitors; they are merely wrong or not wrong. For example, the Israelis are not creating ghettos for Palestinian Arabs. That is a bizarre interpretation of what is occurring; consider that if the Palestinian Arabs chose a different tactical path for their movement, the land ceded could be developed and might flourish.

But these last points are an aside to your otherwise astute post.


chris l pettit - 4/17/2006

Depleted Urianium weapons actually qualify as the same sort of nuclear weapons declared illegal in the Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Nuclear Weapons by the International Court of Justice in 1996.

SO...in legal terms...without delving into worthless ideological arguments...radiation based weapons that cause environmental and long term health damage (ie, nuclear) have been used in the pst three major conflicts (the Balkans and Gulf Wars I and II)

With that I suppose I should say...let the nonsensical ideological gyrations begin!

CP