Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Globe Gets it Wrong

The Boston Globe is owned by The New York Times Company, which acquired the paper--in 1993--at an over-inflated price. Consistently and overwhelmingly liberal in its editorial positions, the Globe meshes well with its sister publication in New York City, despising most things conservative and virtually all positions advocated by the Bush Administration.

Consider today's Globe editorial on recent "threats" from Mr. Bush and Vice-President Cheney towards Iran. Not surprisingly, the paper's editorial board considers those comments most unhelpful, threatening potential diplomacy with Tehran.

PRESIDENT BUSH and Vice President Cheney have been issuing public warnings both to Iran and to other major powers about Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. These unsubtle threats could be meant merely to persuade Iran's leaders to negotiate seriously with their European interlocutors, Britain, France, and Germany. But the threats might also be part of an administration buildup to an attack on Iran.

In either case, Bush and Cheney misunderstand the need to match means and ends. And there could hardly be a worse time for Bush to be berating needed European partners on the Iranian nuclear issue. Earlier this month in Tehran, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a proposal for resolving the nuclear issue directly to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some Iranian commentators even hinted that Putin delivered a sobering message that the American war threats need to be taken seriously.

Still, Bush last week warned world leaders, "if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing" Iran "from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." At best, this was an unnecessary declaration.

From our perspective, it's the Globe that doesn't understand the means and ends of the Iranian equation. President Bush has waited patiently while the European 3--Great Britain, France and Germany--attempt to negotiate with Tehran. Those talks have dragged on for more than three years, and so far, the diplomats have nothing to show for it, aside from vague promises to keep on talking. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made it quite clear that his country has no intention of abandoning its nuclear program, which will almost certainly yield a weapon by 2015 (according to CIA estimates), and perhaps much, much sooner.

As for that sobering message from Mr. Putin, we seem to remember that he also vowed to continue assistance for Iran's nuclear program, specifically the reactor at Bushehr which is being completed by Russian contractors. If Russia were genuinely serious about deterring Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Mr. Putin might have linked the Bushehr project to Iran's abandonment of its weapons program, complete with rigorous, no-notice inspections and full transparency. But the Russian leader has placed no such demands on Iran. Seems that his "sobering" message was more of a wink and a nod, assuring Ahmadeinjad that Moscow remains in his corner, and will oppose more serious efforts at sanctions in the U.N. Security Council.

The same holds true for China, which is heavily invested in developing Iran's oil reserves, and depends on Iranian energy exports to fuel its economic growth. Beijing also values Tehran as a customer for its arms industry; just yesterday, it was reported that China will sell at least 24 of its advanced J-10 fighters to Iran over the next three years, and Beijing's past sales of radars, surface-to-air missile and air defense computers have earned billions in hard currency.

Indeed, as Victor Davis Hanson observes, virtually everyone claims to oppose a nuclear-armed Iran, but when push comes to shove, no one seems to be doing much about it. Moscow and Beijing have their own agendas; the Arab states fear the reaction of their own populations if they support military action against Iran, and the Europeans seem to believe that diplomacy can always carry the day.

Against that backdrop, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have suggested that Iran needs to get serious in its talks with the EU-3, or face potential military consequences. And despite hand-wringing from the Globe and its friends on the left, there are no firm indications that the administration is actively preparing for war against Tehran. Talk about military planning is just that--talk. The U.S. has maintained operational plans for Iran (and other countries) for decades; the ominous articles published in recent months reflect the only the periodic revision of those plans, and not the implementation of new strategies to attack Tehran.

Likewise, U.S. military deployments to the Persian Gulf remain routine. Any strike against Iran would be preceded by a build-up of American and allied forces in the region, a move that clearly hasn't happened (so far). For now, the Pentagon is preoccupied with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That widely-touted air and sea campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities doesn't appear to be in the offing, at least for now.

In fact, a final decision about military action against Iran will likely be made by the next commander-in-chief--quite possibly, a Democrat. We can only wonder what the Globe's position would be if Mr. Bush's successor, say Hillary Rodham Clinton, issues the same sort or warnings against Iran, or ups the ante with increased force deployments and clearly-stated "red lines" for conflict. Knowing the Globe (and its parent company), they would probably applaud a Democratic president for a "forceful" foreign policy, while condemning Mr. Bush for "ignoring" the Iranian threat.


Unknown said...

Are you insane? The Bush Administration has NO INTEREST in negotiating with Iran, through the EU or otherwise. In your desperate attempts to villify Iran -- a country which, even WITH nuclear weapons, presents no threat to the United States -- you neglect to mention that it is PERMITTED by treaty to develop nuclear power for civilian uses. IT'S PERFECTLY LEGAL!

As for your assertion that there are no plans to attack Iran -- pure stupidity. These miserable people are breaking out the same playbook of lies, fabrications, and ridiculous propaganda that preceded the Iraq war. "Serious consequences?" More supplemental funding for bunker busting bombs? Declaring the Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist organization"? Oh yeah, and we have three aircraft carriers within striking distance...

How about shrugging off the partisan blinders and using a little common sense, spook? The war is on, even if you're too daft to see it.

Augurwell said...

On the 'to do more of list' check further into who owns what media saying what? "What?" The why, I think, being said doesn't matter as much as the what that is being said.

Are we reading that the New York Times (confute with mockery) has paid off the Globe? And that the collectanea is saying that Irainia has but an image problem? "Like image is their problem!"

Unclear spelled differently will read 'nuclear' as in there has been words from Irainia that other countries are on the nuke list, to be nuked, "the button has been pressed" and the map shall be wiped off, things like this are said from Iran.

Insane? I don't think so. I am going to hazard some study into the effect of a nucular induced electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) torched off close enough to the false mullahas to shut down communications, TV, radio, all the cars stop working for awhile etc. but not too close to kill too many people just to show them the abyss and then let them know that if they don't knock it off and join the rest of the world the next one will be closer. AND then fully support the people of Iran when they revolt against the terrible government that exists in Iran.

Texas Ranger that!

PS Tons of cocaine etc. are smuggled into North America and Europe and Russia so when a terrorist gets the nuke there won't be anyway to prevent the import of such a device. Oh, maybe we'd rather talk about the weather huh?


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George Smiley said...

Chris--Glad to see you're getting the Talking Points from, even if they have no basis in reality.

First, let's play along an assume that the U.S. has no interest in talking to Iran. Well, Ambassador Crocker in Baghdad didn't get the memo, because he's been holding regular meetings with his Iranian counterpart. Additionally (assuming we have no interest in diplomacy), why let the EU-3 spend three years talking to the Iranians? For an administration with NO INTEREST in diplomacy, Bush & Co have invested a lot of time and political capital in that very sort of effort.

As for the "threat" posed by Iran, how about those EFPs used to kill U.S. troops in Iraq? Or what about their favorite proxy group, Hizballah, which killed more Americans than any other terrorist group before 9-11? A lot of Marines died in Beirut because of that non-existent threat that originates in Tehran.

And let's talk about Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Within a year or so of obtaining the bomb, Iran will have the ability to mount that weapon on a medium or intermediate range missile, capable of reaching targets throughout the Middle East and southeastern Europe, courtesy of the Shahab-3 and the recently acquired BM-25. And, as I recently observed, those programs give you the technical foundation for a crude ICBM within 10 years--a missile capable of delivering a nuke to the CONUS. Is that a threat? And don't forget about the very real prospect of Iran sharing its weapons technology with other countries in the region (namely Syria) and terrorist organizations. Would terrorists be willing to detonate a nuke in a U.S. city, or outside an American military base in Europe or the Middle East? You tell me, and explain why that isn't a "threat."

In terms of military planning, there is nothing going on right now that indicates a pending attack against Iran. Declaring the IRGC a terrorist organization and imposing new financial sanctions? Diplomatic steps, and long overdue.

You might also note that our force deployments in the area are routine; we haven't had three carriers in the Persian Gulf region since late spring. As of 21 Oct, there was only one carrier--the USS Enterprise--in the region.

Launching an air and naval campaign against Iran would require the deployment of two more carriers (at a minimum) and at least two additional Air Force AEF (air expeditionary forces), with a corresponding increase in airlift and naval lift traffic. Not happening right now, and no sign of it on the horizon. If operations plans were actually in motion, you'd be seeing the activities outlined in the preceding paragraphs. Hate to burst your bubble, but they simply aren't happening. And those "bunker busters" requested in the supplemental. Won't be arriving at Whiteman AFB until 2009-2010--at the earliest. So much for that theory.

How about getting a clue, Chris? The war isn't on (yet), and with the administration and the military preoccupied in Iraq and Afghanistan, a decision on striking Iran will most likely be deferred to the next president.

Otter said...

George, I don't think chris can actually absorb the info you presented. He's likely still trying to wrap his mind around how steel cannot be melted by aviation fuel. Of course, It Can't... but what actually did happen is still far beyond the grasp of such people, let alone 30 years of Iranian belligerence, subterfuge, backing of terrorism in a number of nations and outright murder of US soldiers in Iraq.

Unknown said...

George... just laughable. I will concede your point about our carrier presence in the region, but that's about all you got right.

As for our "diplomatic efforts": "The Bush administration’s abrupt dismissal of last Thursday’s IAEA report is one more sign that Washington has no interest in a diplomatic resolution to its confrontation with Tehran. Following Bush’s bellicose denunciations of Iran last week, the US has reiterated its intention to push for tougher UN sanctions against Tehran this month." [Global Security]

And did you read the actual IAEA report, George? Here's a refresher:

"Article IV (1): These modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency [meaning IAEA] confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran's past nuclear program and activities.

Article IV (3): The Agency's delegation is of the view that the agreement on the above issues shall further promote the efficiency of the implementation of safeguards in Iran and its ability to conclude the exclusive peaceful nature of the Iran's nuclear activities.

Article IV (4): The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use."

Interesting, eh? There is NO EVIDENCE IRAN IS ATTEMPTING TO DEVELOP A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. None. I wonder why the Bush Administration LIES REPEATEDLY ABOUT THIS? Maybe they're determined to attack Iran, no matter what? After all we did do the same in Iraq, and the best predictor of future actions is past behavior...

As for the mystical "EFPs" killing U.S. soldiers - where's the proof, George? I bet it resides alongside that mysterious Iraqi yellowcake, eh?

Ask yourself why Iran would employ nukes in an offensive, first-strike manner... or why they would pass them on to a terrorist group (?!?) -- to invite their own annihilation? You're overlooking the most important aspect of nuclear proliferation: It is a DEFENSIVE strategy. Countries acquire nuclear weapons not for first-use, but to DEFEND THEMSELVES. Hello, mutually assured destruction? To pretend that Iran would use a missile-mounted nuke to attack us (or our allies) isn't just silly, it's irresponsible. Shame on you for parroting this transparent propaganda.

It's funny how you dismiss out of hand Bush's labeling of the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization as a "diplomatic step." It's much more than that. They're laying the (tenuous) legal groundwork for a first strike, so that an attack on Iran can be justified by the pre-existing resolution that (supposedly) allowed us to invade Iraq -- "Look, we're bombing THE TERRORISTS!" This way no Congressional approval will be needed to bomb Iran. Get it?

I sure hope you're right that no attack on Iran is forthcoming, George. But I sincerely doubt it.

(Notice I didn't say "imminent," because I never asserted that. But it will happen before Bush leaves office. Wanna bet?)

M. Simon said...

Why would the Austrian Corporal carry the war for 2 more years he knew was lost in 1943?

You assume rational behavior.

Was the IAEA allowed to inspect at will?

Saddam's nuke program was outsourced to Libya. Has Iran done that with Syria?

Augurwell said...

ChrisRobin Re "A Wink and a Nod" President Putin I've read only makes promises to his mom, he mentioned this in discussions with the Irainian concerning the nuke plant in that country. There are many in the world, myself amid them, who do not like the way moms are treated in some places of the world. I was taking it for granted that you would count your self of a similar mind. After reading some of your writings I am not so sure that you consider moms in Iran or where ever else tyranny is running rife.

Iraq was a very real threat to the world and a terrible place to live in prior to liberation. There is a similar threat and bad intent coming out of Iran etc. If Iran was a person who lived next to you and was making death threats they would be going to prison
and if they were lurking around with weapons they would face justifiable homicide.

Hitler kept up the war in hopes that the nuke that the nazia was developing would be combined with the v-rocket, it would have been used there is no doubt about this. The problem with Iran is similar and they even say what they
are intending to do with these nukes. Please consider that these kinds of weapons combined with the martyr complex or mentality of Iran's leadership must be addressed and action taken. It may help to understand the that an honor based culture such as Iran is satisfied if their honor is seen to be intact
regardless of the fact that horrible deeds have been done to maintain the perception of intact honor.

A problem that I see with some people and some politicians is that they don't mean what they say - intentionaly or otherwise - consequently they don't take
what is said by others who do for full value. It may even be true that they are unable to
distinguish between those who do indeed mean what they say from those who don't - there is also the state of being correct or in error. It is difficult to determine where you stand in the ongoing struggle to rid the world of tyranny. Let us think and speak
clearly with one another and leave the fog to the befuddled. I take no joy from the demise of an enemy but find relief when the issue is resolved. If the olive palms are rejected there are the arrows.


Augurwell said...

Augurwell stands corrected strike 'palms' write 'branches' thanks.