Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Will we attack Iran?

Tom Englehardt has a post up on why we won't attack Iran. I read it eagerly because this is one time I'd be thrilled to be wrong.

Englehardt states Cheney won't attack Iran for a couple of reasons. The first is a "global oil shock." The price of oil would double, probably, if not rise higher. That's quite true, but the price of oil more than doubled after our first attacks. In January 2003 oil was $29.31/barrel. Now it is 137.12/barrel. (How quickly the extreme becomes normal.) If the price of gasoline were to double it would be a greater hardship than the earlier increase, but at $8/gallon we'd be paying the same amount as most of Europe. Our poor would be severely hit by the increase, but governments don't often worry about the poor's suffering, do they?

His next reason is that Israel would need the US's help to attack Iran. I don't see the difficulty here. Our president and Congress have repeatedly promised to back up any action taken by Israel, even if it's not in the best interest of most Americans.

Another reason, Englehardt states, is that Bush and the "adults in the room" would object. But when the grown-ups objected to the first wars, Bush fired them. And I wouldn't count on Bush to stop war and death. He lives for death. (This would take another post to explain and support; I'll try to do that soon because it's very important.) Someone who pumps his fist and says "I feel good" right before he blitzkriegs a country is not overly concerned with others' deaths. The public would also object, Englehardt says, but I don't see the Administration being overly concerned about what the public thinks. The word "So?" comes to mind.

Finally, Englehard point out that reality demands no attack occur. But we all know that they create their own reality. They run this world, we just live in it. And it doesn't help that Englehardt's final words are:

And yet, of course, for the maddest gamblers and dystopian dreamers in our
history, never say never.

That's where we started out: Never say never.


Anonymous said...

Gee, thanks, Sunbeam!

No, seriously, I agree with you. Maybe it's because I was strongly influenced by philosophers and writers who focused on the irrational side of human activity, but I've always accepted the image of the rational mind being like a tiny jockey on the back of the rampaging bull, whatever you choose to call it - id, lizard brain, emotion. I mean, I can obviously see why people wouldn't want to think of it like that, but I can't deny what my eyes tell me every day.

You know, if Iran had overthrown a popular secular leader here out of anti-Communist paranoia, causing us to live for deacdes under a brutal police state followed by a brutal theocracy, and then threatened to nuke us out of anti-terrorist paranoia, I'd be out in the streets chanting for death to visit those motherfuckers too. To me, the fact that the average American can't even put themselves in their place for the three seconds necessary to understand that is one of the clearest signs that we're just circling the bowl.

Dr. John Maszka said...

While Fareed Zakaria agrees that there is no reason not to use sanctions and embargoes against states such as Iran, he suggests that we also need to “allow a viable way out.” That is to say, we need to negotiate and not merely mandate. Cliff Kupchan essentially agrees. While he acknowledges that President Bush has definitely strained the relationship between Washington and Tehran, he points out that Iran “did agree to suspend enrichment for two years.” Kupchan suggests that there may be more than one way of dealing with Iran. Joel Rosenthal suggests that Ahmadinejad is using the Bush administration’s threats to “rally nationalist sentiment” and take the Iranian people’s focus off domestic problems such as corruption and unemployment. Rosenthal suggests that it’s time the United States allows democracy to change the Iranian regime from the inside. “The United States will have to be much less confrontational” Rosenthal insists, and adds that the “United States wants regime change but may well have to accept that democracy gives people the option to change regimes, but does not mandate such a change.” Richard Betts calls for a calm and clear-headed response to Iran. He reminds us that for all of Iran’s meddling in Iraq, it was Bush that handed Iran an entrance into Iraq. And while we faced a much bigger threat from Mao Zedong in the 1970s, who claimed that China could withstand the loss of hundreds of millions in a nuclear confrontation and still come out standing due to its large population, Betts points out that we’ve “yet to hear anything that chilling from Ahmadinejad.” Betts claims that anyone “who beats the drum for war against Iran fits the classic definition of a fanatic.” Furthermore, Betts assures us that in addition to causing even greater alienation from the Muslim world, a US attack on Iran would most likely only delay Iran’s nuclear capabilities for a few years. This is because the US has “given Tehran ample warning to hide important elements of the necessary infrastructure.” Indeed, Ian Bremmer reports that he heard Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, speak at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai, where Larijani “invited other Middle Eastern states to join Iran in a regional security organization that excludes the United States and called on Arab governments to develop nuclear programs to facilitate a nuclear OPEC.” Bremmer agrees with Rosenthal that Ahmadinejad is attempting to win “support at home by taking a harder-line position on the nuclear program.” Bremmer also points out that “Iran isn’t a totalitarian state like North Korea. There’s real opposition in the country to other elements of Ahmadinejad’s political agenda.” Bremmer rejects the Bush administration’s military approach to Iran, suggesting that President Bush needs to “develop a more nuanced and moderate approach, one that stops feeding Ahmadinejad new opportunities to play the defiant champion to the United States” (Gramercy Round, 2007:72-77).
Chester Crocker (2005:55-6) suggests that President Bush has “squandered” America’s opportunity to secure Iran’s cooperation. In a previous era, America could have obtained a “truly global consensus” and presented it to the Iranians. “But the diplomacy of the global war on terror has mortgaged America’s capacity to line up such support.” Ziba Moshaver (2003:284) reports that beyond the US missing its opportunity to partner with European states to win Iran’s cooperation, Iran has taken that opportunity itself, and has “forged a partnership to challenge US attempts at implementing the Bush doctrine.” This partnership (particularly with France and Germany) is aimed at resisting “the US’s desire to change the Middle East regional order to achieve regional hegemony.”

Anonymous said...

There's another, underreported actor here: China.

The PRC has been very quiet on this particular issue, but they do not want an Iranian war disrupting global supply of oil at a time when they are very wrapped up in trying to pull off an Olympiad.

The press isn't really looking that broadly, but the military certainly is. Outside of a few fanatics, the Pentagon (and not just Gates) does not want this.

Susan of Texas said...

The military and state department don't want to accelerate tensions with Iran, and they are pushing back. China doesn't want it either (and they hold a tremendous amount of our debt).

But who makes the decision? What is the government's goal--to reduce tensions or inflame them to destablize the Middle East?

Blognoscenti, I think people can be taught to act rationally, if they learn how to deal with their fears and needs. However, few people want to accept that we act irrationally. People expend so much effort compensating for their fears and needs that they think their compensatory strategies make them stronger, and that they won't be able to function without them.