That was, indeed, well worth reading.
That was, indeed, well worth reading.
The thing they don't show is that Obama read all those considered responses off a teleprompter.
Fascinating. Obama is sounding like what a Dems here fear that Santorum or other GOPers would sound like. Obama is saying we will take military action to prevent Iran from owning nuclear weapons.
So, for the Democrats here who have said repeatedly that Iran developing nuclear weapons is not something that should overly worry the U.S. and that we certainly should not invoke a military response if they do, what is your opinion on Obama's stated stance?Obama will argue that under his leadership, the United States "has Israel's back," and that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran's nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.
None of it's news, the firm unambiguous promise isn't, in fact, very specific, the entire point is to (probably pointlessly) try to relax Netanyahu's trigger finger, and the whole situation is about as alarming as it's been for a long time?
Having Santorum (or other Republican) in charge of Iranian policy isn't scary because they spend more time polishing their bomb-bomb-Iran credentials as an Actively Good Thing. It's scary because they're incompetent boobs. US policy vis Iranian nuclear weapons is pretty much bound to leave war on the table, particularly with the < 1year timeline presently being mooted for completing a weapon.
By the same token people also know all the reasons actual military action would be dangerous, costly and probably fruitless. Obama isn't going to be blind to that.
So it's threaten, threaten, throw in some candy to see if they can keep them from going nuclear. That's my theory, at any rate.
My guess is that such a campaign would quickly lose the political will (although it didn't in the 1st gulf war ... so maybe?) at home so it can't be implemented, which leaves us at a full scale invasion which would be insanely expensive -- almost certainly beyond what the US is capable of sustaining.
I actually don't know the cost of Iran getting the bomb, or of the chances of olive branches and honey (or the cost of the honey) working so I have no position on whether the US should go in or not. However, if they do go in it should be air only (IMO).
Note: NK getting the bomb has not caused much damage so far.
From what I gather based on my peripheral at best exposure to the issue, most people think you can't stop the Iranian nuclear program with air power. You can set it back a few years, but that's it.
Such action would come with costs, and in three years you're right back where you started. Should we commit ourselves to a thrice-a-decade bombing campaign?
As far as the consequences of Iran having a bomb: I don't think anyone really envisions them using it preemptively; it's meant as a deterrent against Netanyahu. In that sense it's not at all the end of the world (see: NK, as Huzurdaddi points out). However the second order effects are a little more unpleasant to contemplate (I believe Saudi Arabia's on record as stating they'll pursue a nuke program if Iran tests a weapon). In general I think proliferation is a bad thing.
Personally, "tough shit, Israel, guess you're going to have to get over your paranoia and live with it" is my recommendation. If you don't want the region to go nuclear you have to negotiate better security arrangements.
Iran getting the bomb sets up a nuclear arms race in a very unstable part of the world. The Saudis absolutely detest Iran. Why do you think they've been buying billions in military gear the past few decades? It's not Israel they're worried about; it's Iran. They're also the #2 suspect behind the Mossad in terms of who's funding the assassinations of Iranian scientists.
The Saudis have got the billions in petrodollars to pursue a bomb. All their buddies in the region (Qatar, UAE, Kuwait) are in the same boat; they'll help the Saudis or even arm themselves.
Yeah, like I said. It's not Iran with a bomb that I think is a problem per se, it's the entire Mideast going nuclear. These are not stable regimes, and in my totally not an expert opinion I think the most likely scenario for a bomb being used outside of Kashmir is as some nuclear-weapon possessing regime crumbles.
I keep reading this thread as "Jeff Goldblum interview with President Obama", and then I get sad when the universe did not in fact make that happen.
So do I!
I'm not sure why you think he's lying. After reading this and other statements he's made, I think Obama would absolutely employ a military option to prevent/destroy nuclear weapon capability in Iran, using the threat to the U.S. as the primary rationale.The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound. It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons. So now you have the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world, one that is rife with unstable governments and sectarian tensions. And it would also provide Iran the additional capability to sponsor and protect its proxies in carrying out terrorist attacks, because they are less fearful of retaliation.
It's foreign policy. Every single word is calibrated for the intended domestic and foreign political effect; truth is secondary at best.
He would say that if he was bluffing, wouldn't he? :POriginally Posted by JeffL
I appreciate the inherent dubiety of "he says X but really means Y," but in this instance it's pretty clear that a US threat to bomb Iran - which most people don't see as likely because of its irrationality - is in large measure about (the faint hope of) bluffing to (probably not) decrease the chances of unilateral Israeli bombing. Which in turn is seen as more of a risk because of Likud's poorer judgement and higher stakes.
What's a good outcome from all of this? I don't think many people are optimistic enough to think Israel will be much constrained. On Iran, as on settlements, Netanyahu is doing what he wants. There's the hope that if - per Juan Cole and others - Iran really is more interested in nuclear power than the bomb, that a tough approach might result in them proving that that is the case. If they are making a nuclear weapon nothing can stop them short of invading Iran, which no one would contemplate. Israel might bomb Iran for some illusory and costly delay, but it's hard to imagine the US doing so. To what end?
Last edited by Jason Townsend; 03-04-2012 at 08:17 PM.
I seriously doubt that the above would be politically possible.
That's the thing - it's not obvious what "the program" is. They think they know where some of the components are, but many are underground and they're certain they don't know where all of them are, or even if they know where enough are to substantially set the program back. To reliably stop or delay the program they'd need to grind the Iranian economy to a halt and make it something like under-sanctions Iraq.
Let me see if I can find the last Atlantic piece describing this.
There are two main schools of thought about how air strikes on Iran would work out. Most Americans seem to envision something cleanly surgical--a few days of bombing runs and then we get that "mission accomplished" banner out of the closet. A smaller number of Americans--notably including a lot of national security experts--realize that Iran would probably retaliate, possibly in ways that drew America into a sustained and even far-flung conflict.
What too few people emphasize, it seems to me, is that these two scenarios don't exhaust the possibilities. Even if air strikes don't draw us into an instant conflagration, they could drag us into a long-term conflict with Iran that winds up with American boots on the ground. In fact, when you think about the military and political logic of the situation, the invasion and occupation of Iran is the most likely long-term outcome of bombing regardless of what happens in the short term.
Among national security experts there is nearly universal agreement on the following: Bombing could set Iran's nuclear program back by one or two years, maybe even several, but it would also (1) remove any doubt in the minds of Iranian leaders about whether to pursue nuclear weapons; and (2) ensure that the Iranian nuclear program was revamped to resist future air strikes.
And the new, more entrenched Iranian nuclear program wouldn't be the kind of thing that could be undone by a new generation of bunker-buster bombs. According to experts I've talked to, Iran would probably react to bombing not by burying its nuclear facilities deeper, but by dispersing them much more widely. They would be impossible to identify from the air and for that matter not readily identifiable from the street. Meanwhile, the international inspectors who now keep us apprised of Iran's nuclear status would be banned in the wake of air strikes. So even if we were willing to make additional bombing runs on an annual basis ("mowing the lawn," as some call it), we could never be confident that Iran wasn't producing a nuclear weapon. The only path to such confidence would be to invade the country and seize the instruments of state.
Senator Reed: I presume that [a bombing campaign] would not be 100 percent effective in terms of knocking them out. It would probably delay them, but that if they're persistent enough they could at some point succeed. Is that a fair judgment from your position?
General Cartwright: That's a fair judgment.
Senator Reed: So that the only absolutely dispositive way to end any potential would be to physically occupy their country and to disestablish their nuclear facilities. Is that a fair, logical conclusion?
General Cartwright: Absent some other unknown calculus that would go on, it's a fair conclusion.
I think what everyone is implicitly assuming is that we bomb them and Iran gives up. Given how that like of thinking over the last fifty years has turned out, I really, really, really doubt that will happen.
The part that doesn't get discussed much is that barring probaly unacceptable behavior like genocide or an invasion and forceable breakup by the great powers, a growing, more powerful, industrialized Iran is inevitable. Even treating them like Iraq would only delay it for another 30 years. Given that, the rest is also inevitable.
As long as Israel is a hostile regional rival with nuclear weapons, and the US is a hostile great power constantly threatening to invade, Iran is going to have a strong incentive to go nuclear. As long as Iran's non-nuclear alternatives are....well, what alternatives do they have? Just giving up, unlike every other rising power in their position? It used to be they could us the USSR as a proxy, but that's gone now.
Basically, the US and Israel want to have it both ways - regional dominance without paying the high military bills it takes to achieve that. If that's the policy, you're going to get a nuclear Iran.
The alternative is the same boring shit we did with Libya, where we agreed to leave them the hell alone in exchange for not acting like assholes or getting a bomb.
Last edited by Jason McCullough; 03-04-2012 at 08:33 PM.
I think that drones change the equation. Once Iran has no control over its airspace the drones take flight. No matter how dispersed the operation it needs people. More importantly it needs people in charge. The drones make the people in charge very 'unhappy'. I think that Lybia is a decent example.
Can the US maintain the political will to assassinate (no need to mince words, that what they would be doing with drones) hundreds of people (which is far less than the cost of a boots on the ground operation)? I have no idea. I do think that it is a far less expensive way to impose one's will than sending young men to die.
You're right, "gay marriage and Iran" is always.
Regime change through drone assassination is a theory, but it'd be uh, something never tried before. Ever.
Iran is an unstable country with a failed economy and a power struggle between an unpopular public leader and even less popular clerical rulers. They are perfectly placed for an Arab Spring-type movement to take hold, especially should their only ally Syria fall. The regime's best chance at survival would be air strikes from the hated "Zionist Entity" and/or the Great Satan, uniting the people behind the government. Attacking them would be deeply stupid - let the sanctions work, spread some money to dissident movements and otherwise wait for change to happen on its own. Even if they built a bomb, they would never be able to use it without ensuring their own complete destruction, and they know that.