« The United Nations fails the people of Zimbabwe | Main | Joseph Loconte: Anti-Americanism and the BBC »

Comments

rightwingprof

I want to know why Bolton isn't running for President.

James

Bollocks. If the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then the likes of Bolton are clearly a few sandwiches short of a picknick. If he just means lobbing a few cruise missiles and bunker busters in the direction of Iranian nuclear facilities, this is totally counterproductive to any concept of "regime change."

The more hardline elements within Iran would like nothing better than a confrontation with the West, given the fact that they know America has neither the stomach nor the treasure for regime change a la Iraq or Afghanistan. Even if their nuclear weapons program was completely destroyed (a tricky task), the Iranian people would rally around their leaders in the wake of any Western attack - something of obvious importance in Iran's quasi-democratic system - prolonging the life of Ahamdinejad's government, and making it much harder to achieve any end-goal of regime change.

This is perhaps a bit generous to the Americans (and maybe the British) as it assumes the total destruction of Iran's nuclear processing facilities is an achievable goal. All western intelligance states the precautions the Mullahs have taken against any Osirak-style air raid, so this more limited goal may even be a bridge too far. There comes a point where we will just have to accept a nuclear Iran. We live with nuclear Pakistan, a country far more unstable, and with just as much - perhaps even more - extremist potential than Iran. The rules of deterrance will still apply; and even allowing for the development of usable Iranian nukes, it's unlikely they'd be the inter-continental type that could directly threaten Britain or America.

Right now, the Khomeinist regime is on it's last legs. The Iranian economy - scandelously for a country with such a young population and endowed with so much natural wealth - is in the doldrums; accounts from journalists who have been to Iran (I recommend Peter Hitchens latest offering) document the discontent and desire for change amongst the Iranian populace. That would go up in smoke at the first sight of Stealth Bombers on the horizon. Don't attack Iran.

Jon Gale

Well said James

John Hayward, The Difference

John Bolton may be right over failure of UN reform but, as The Difference argued recently (note also comparisons with Cuba), America might find lifting economic sanctions against Iran to be a more productive route to promoting global peace and stability.

tired and emotional

The problem with James' thesis, robust and attractive as it might seem, is that deterrence is no good against a fanatical non-state actor like Hezbollah (no good against Amajihadman either). If Iran choose to supply one of the Party of God's young fools with the nuclear tools to become the uber-martyr of all time in, say, the City of London, how would we prove an Iranian connection?

Even if we could prove it, would the security services be believed? Would the peaceniks allow retaliation? Would the 'international community' support it? What would we bomb in return?

Yet Another Anon

If we can't get enough other countries to come along with us to do that, then we've got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like
Not a viable option in Iran, Iran has an elected President and elected parliament, introducing a system more similar to that in Iraq would just lead to an only marginally different administration than currently. However how would this be achieved, Iran is much more powerful than Iraq ever was, Iran at the end of it's end year war with Iraq was pushing forward and since then it has got far more powerful. In addition whereas the Ba'athist regime had the support only of a localised minority, in Iran the regime has quite sizeable support. Who are the opposition figures and what they do in power, would they have to be continually propped up with western aid facing constant guerilla attacks.

The Iranian Supreme Leader has issued a fatwah against development, retention or use of nuclear weapons and has re-affirmed this a number of times - development of civilian or nuclear military programmes cannot go ahead without him approving it and as such if Iran were to embark on developing nuclear weapons his credibility would be destroyed.

At the moment I think the focus should be on liberating islands belonging to the UAE in the Straits of Hormuz that the Iranian Navy has been occupying for 6 years now, using military force if neccessary.

If Iran were to use nuclear weapons against another state then Iran should be totally destroyed with heavy nuclear and conventional bombing, if Iran while signed up to the NNPT were to turn out to have developed nuclear weapons then all their civilian and nuclear facilities should be destroyed by whatever means necessary.

James

Your assuming that Hezbollah want to attack Britain on our own turf. I'm not one of these naive pinkos who believe the good will of all man (far from it) but Hezbollah have been and will remain a regional player concerned above all with events in Lebanon. I don't want to tempt fate, but the chances of Hezbollah militia units swapping the olive groves of the Levant for the rainy operating territory of, say, Brixton, seems unlikely, even if they are filled with a fanatical hatred of the West.

As far as Iran is concerned, why should they doubt that we (and America) would hold them to account for any nuclear attack on London, especially if there was eveidence linking them to such an attack? Britain and America haven't exactly been reticent about using military force against Middle Eastern countries, with far less provocation than a nuclear attack in one of our own cities. There is no logical reason for the Iranian government to get heavily involved in such a plot.

They could outsource the operation to another group, and that is indeed a risk. But as I said in my last post, we've lived with this spectre everyday since Pakistan went nuclear, given the large number of jihadist sympathisers in that government.

Evan Price

Mr Bolton and Tony Blair appear to have a meeting of minds in one important sense. Like the internationalists of the 1930's, they believe that intervention in soveriegn states is justified to 'prevent' an atrocity that may or may not happen in the future.

The state of Iraq must make us reconsider the folly of this sort of intervention. Iran's leaders use the rhetoric and sabre rattling contained in speeches like this to persuade the Iranians to vote for them and support their extraordinary policies. What is needed is education and publicity.

There are real advantages to be had in trading with the West. There are real advantages to be had in the freedoms that exist in the West. It is these advantages and the potential to obtain these advantages that will persuade people in less privileged communities that we are not a threat to them or their existence or their culture.

I don't have the advantage of access to intelligence ... but what I do know is that we are told that Iran is very difficult terrain for Western intelligence organisations. If we continue with the rhetoric of war, we may well end up with what we fear ... if there is a real threat, then we must deal with it; but the rhetoric must all be about peace!

Teddy Bear

The brainwashing of militant Islamists is not about 'finding peace' with the West, or co-existence with other creeds and beliefs, it is about our total subjugation.

Are you people living under a rock that you don't see this menace for what it is, or do you make an art of living in 'the Nile'.

Diplomacy can only work on those who seek peaceful means to their goals. In this case they seek to take over the world, and either you have to accept there will be a major fight to stop it, or start converting to Islam.

Dim or Dhimmi?

John

Iran is not Pakistan. Pakistan has not recently held conferences called "A World without Zionism". There's nobody in Pakistan as the in Iran respected former president Rafsanjani who has implied (according to The Economist, see here: http://www.economist.com/world/africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RGGJTVP) that wiping Israel off the map would be worth it, even if it meant that Iran itself would be attacked with the bomb.
The fact of the matter is that if you want to be sure to deter Iran from using the bomb against Israel, you have threaten most of the Arab world, a very unlikely scenario.
Ultimately, it's a question of whether we believe Israel is worth or not.

Teddy Bear

John - I fail to understand where Pakistan comes into it. "Pakistan is not Iran" - thanks for making it clear - so what?

The arrogance you display with your final sentence is incredible. Who do you think you are, and what do you think Israel is?

James

John, I cannot understand your penultimate sentence.

I don't see why we should conflate Israeli foreign policy objectives with British or American ones. Granted, the belicose rhetoric that wafts out of Tehran would seem more threatening to any Tel Aviv resident, but I'll reiterate: the rule of deterrance will still apply - probably to the vast majority of those with any power within the Iranian state.

No, Iran and Pakistan aren't identitical; but then a comparison doesn't have to be exact to be effective. The threat of an Islamist putsch, with Sunni Al-Qaeda sympathisers (unlike in Shiite Iran) getting their hands on an intermediate range nuclear arsenal is, to the best of my knowledge, more threatening than a nuclear Iran. Yet we've lived with this (imperfect) possiblity for years now. Conservative foreign policy is not about the perfectable, but the achievable.

Steevo

I think Bolton has got a bum rap with some here.

He isn't thinking about cruise missels as he's not from the Clinton Administration. We are currently in the process of designing the most penetrating and capable "bunker-buster" bombs, ever. High-tech, titanium, and time-delayed and they will certainly be fully tested. I can't say if they will do the job but I know I wouldn't want to be in any of those underground facilities to find out.

He is emphasizing the hope of "enough" countries coming together. If a majority of free-world nations are in total agreement then such weapons may be dropped from US stealth bombers but it will indeed limit Iran's ability to portray itself as a victim. It may also render the voice of the UN meaningless (no pun intended). Where will Iran then go: China, Russia... or Syria? I'm pointing this out to be fair to Bolton's wishes. Personally I don't think it will happen.

He also makes it clear: "If we can't get enough countries to come along with us to do that, then we've got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups." That is exactly right. I suspect he's in the know with intelligence we don't have. There is already high discontent especially amongst the young with the current leadership. There has been considerable efforts to suppress their voices, this has been ongoing and documented although big western media have not made enough known. This will essentially mean giving opposition Iranians more power, it has nothing to do with an Iraq-style interventionist change.

Comparing a nuclear Iran with Pakistan doesn't mean anything. We should focus ONLY on Iran and that's where tired and emotional makes very necessary points.

As an American (and obviously with many Europeans) the thought of tolerating a nuclear Iran right now is not immediately ominous. But knowing full well terrorists will have a nuclear nation who is a terrorist supporter is not at all comforting. I do know If I was in Israel I would only be able to tolerate one outcome if I wanted to live with any hope for a future. But, as an American and more selfishly predisposed at least right now, I don't think I would want us to go it alone.

Frogg (USA)

Iran can't have nuclear weapons. Period. Haven't any of you ever listened to Ahmadinejad? Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terror today. He has stated that he wants to wipe another nation totally off the map. He has said that the sacrifice of several Iranian cities is worth the final outcome (meaning, he does not care if nuclear weapons are used on his cities in return). He wants to create the Caliphate (which includes parts of Africa and Europe)--ultimately giving him total control over the ME oil fields and oil blackmail as well as nuclear blackmail. And, then the final part of is plan would be to extend the Islamic empire to the rest of the world.

Iran doesn't want to live in peace with nuclear weapons and just happily trade and prosper. No -- that would be what democracies like to do.

You can have peace and they have told you how you can have it. You would have to stop your silliness and convert to Islam. Not my words. Theirs.

You can have a messy situation trying to bomb known nuclear sites and supporting reform groups from within (probably sometime within the next two years--crunch time); or, you can have nuclear war with them down the road. You pick. Bolton is absolutely correct.

---------------------

[i]"Nor are Ahmadinejad’s ambitions merely regional in scope. He has a larger dream of extending the power and influence of Islam throughout Europe, and this too he hopes to accomplish by playing on the fear that resistance to Iran would lead to a nuclear war. And then, finally, comes the largest dream of all: what Ahmadinejad does not shrink from describing as “a world without America.”

"Robert G. Joseph, the U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Non-Proliferation, tells us that Iran is “expanding what is already the largest offensive missile force in the region. Moreover, it is reported to be working closely with North Korea, the world’s number-one missile proliferator, to develop even more capable ballistic missiles.” This, Joseph goes on, is why “analysts agree that in the foreseeable future Iran will be armed with medium- and long-range ballistic missiles,” and it is also why “we could wake up one morning to find that Iran is holding Berlin, Paris or London hostage to whatever its demands are then.”[/i]

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/cm/main/viewArticle.aip?id=10882


John

James, I still don't think the threat in Pakistan is anywhere near the one we're facing in Iran. In Pakistan the good guys have, after all, been in power for quite some time now. In Iran I honestly just don't know what kind of people we're dealing with.
James: "the rule of deterrance will still apply - probably to the vast majority of those with any power within the Iranian state."
Me: Well, probably not in the case of the often so called moderate Rafsanjani, and who knows who else?
The thing is, in my view, that what is rational to us isn't necessarily rational to religious fundamentalist jew-haters.

As to the question of whether Israel's interests should always be looked upon as identical with those of the US and/or Europe, my answer is absolutely no. I'm against the settlements and I was against the war last summer.
But even if the risk of Israel being wiped of the map is only about 5%, I still think that it's not a risk I'm willing to take. The benefits of having a capitalist democracy in the center of the world are simply to great, something which I'm afraid we would only realize the day it weren't there.


Teddy Bear writes:
"John - I fail to understand where Pakistan comes into it. "Pakistan is not Iran" - thanks for making it clear - so what?"

Me: What I'm referring to is this:

James (2nd post):
"There comes a point where we will just have to accept a nuclear Iran. We live with nuclear Pakistan, a country far more unstable, and with just as much - perhaps even more - extremist potential than Iran. The rules of deterrance will still apply;..."

And now:

James: "The threat of an Islamist putsch, with Sunni Al-Qaeda sympathisers (unlike in Shiite Iran) getting their hands on an intermediate range nuclear arsenal is, to the best of my knowledge, more threatening than a nuclear Iran. Yet we've lived with this (imperfect) possiblity for years now."

John

Sorry, forgot to delete the last part ("Teddy Bears writes: ..." and after that) from the above.

James

I don't wish to seem too blase about the threat of fundamentalists with their fingers on the nuclear trigure. But I think we should recognise that stopping Iran from getting nukes - tricky though this is - and regime change are, at this stage, mutually exclusive goals.

If we attack Iran, we bolster Ahmadinejad’s rule, and add years - perhaps decades - to the shelf life of the Islamic Republic. For all the talk of him wanting to rule the world, he is far from popular within Iran and is widely perceived to have been a political failure. To throw him a lifeline by attacking Iran, and confirming in the minds of many Iranians (in some cases justifiable) prejudices about Britain and America would be a strategic folly.

It's a far from perfect choice; but if we want regime change (not based on the Iraq model) the best option would be to leave Iran well alone, giving the regime no excuses for its own failures.

Evan Price

I find the assumption that all muslims intend to overthrow our governance and dominate us both alarming and laughable. There are extremists in the ranks of those who are muslims who do have this view ... but this is nothing new; remember the mad Mahdi and the Sudan in the 1890's?

My experience of Muslims in London and Muslims that I have known from places as diverse as Jordan, the UAE and Iraq, is that they hold their religious beliefs in high regard. The ones that I know do not want to overthrow democratic rule in the UK; they do not believe in the absurd claims of the extremists and they recognise that the extremists do great damage to the British view of Islam and Muslims.

When at Sandhurst I was given a copy of the Koran (in English, I am glad to say) by an officer from the UAE who was in my platoon. With him, I read it (in what little spare time we had) as I found it interesting ... I do not believe that the views expressed by some so-called imams in relation to the Ummah or in relation to Jihad or in relation to the overthrow of all other government are things that find their roots in the Koran. 'Political' Islam may look for its roots in the Koran and it may persuade some Muslims that their lot will be better under strict Sharia law, but the reality is that most Muslims living in London are much better off, in terms of finances, in terms of liberty, in terms of their connections with others, in the UK than they would be in most if not all of the Islamic states. They know this. That is why they are here.

A few fools will not a revolution make. A few madmen will not overthrow the Government.

Iran's intent to make a bomb (something that they deny, by the way) is worrying. In the context of the paranoid delusions of the so-called Islamic Republic, it is probably comprehensible. We will not persuade them to desist if all we say is 'desist or else'. It is only by building trust and emphasising that force will only be used as a last resort that we will end up persuading them ... the fact that the regime is unpopular and paranoid does not help us. But we must try ... jaw-jaw is better than war-war!

Jon Gale

Ahmadinejad is up for re-election in August 2009.

Dont say or do anything that will allow him to play the populist/nationalist card until after that date. If we bomb Iran before then he will be re-elected.

tired and emotional

Good luck with your views about the Koran Evan.

James, Hezbollah are not just a regional force. They carried out two attacks on Jewish centres in Argentina according to the FBI, and furthermore train men in the area.

rightwingprof

"lifting economic sanctions against Iran to be a more productive route to promoting global peace and stability."

That's remarkably naive statement. Reward bad behavior and you get more of it. Always. No matter what the culture. Lift sanctions and pat them on the head, and they'll get even more extreme.

We should have bombed them back into the stone age in 1979. It would have avoided a great deal of pain and misery.

But of course, you Brits are free to lick their butts and appease them if you like. We'll do what we have to do.

Simon Newman

Frogg:
"Haven't any of you ever listened to Ahmadinejad? Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terror today. He has stated that he wants to wipe another nation totally off the map. He has said that the sacrifice of several Iranian cities is worth the final outcome (meaning, he does not care if nuclear weapons are used on his cities in return)"

Musharraf said much the same thing re nuclear war with India, back before 9/11.
A nuclear Iran is unlikely to lead to a nuclear attack on Israel. Currently the biggest nuclear threat to the UK (probably not very big) is 'rogue' nukes from Pakistan in Al Qaeda's hands. But the main thing is, there's no practical way we can stop Iran getting nukes, and any attempt to do so will continue the downwards spiral that we've been in since 2001.

Teddy Bear

There appears to be a lot of naive thinking posted above from various sources. Assumptions that the world would be a far more stable place if the US would not have gone into Iraq, when in fact they don't have a clue how things would have transpired otherwise. With daily occurences of suicide bombers or just plain bombs going off in crowded places throughout the world, and little understanding given to what's behind it, and what is their goal.

One of the biggest mistakes I see being made is accepting the Islamists bullshit that it is about Israel, or the US, or the UK foreign policy. Why do you think Muslims are murdering other Muslims then?

For the benefit of Evan Price - who writes I find the assumption that all muslims intend to overthrow our governance and dominate us both alarming and laughable when you've finished laughing get your facts straight and respond to what is written here, not what you want to imagine is written. There's no intelligent being on this site who claimed ALL muslims.....we use the term MILITANT and Islamists to specifically point to certain groups WHO DO. 40% of Muslims in the UK ADMIT to wanting Sharia law imposed - do you really think you've gotten you head round what that means?

As for this delusional piece:
'Political' Islam may look for its roots in the Koran and it may persuade some Muslims that their lot will be better under strict Sharia law, but the reality is that most Muslims living in London are much better off, in terms of finances, in terms of liberty, in terms of their connections with others, in the UK than they would be in most if not all of the Islamic states. They know this. That is why they are here.
Do you have any idea who the 7/7 bombers were? You really don't ssem to be aware how ignorant you are in the values that you believe are shared by one and all just because it's important to you and some of your friends.

John, I find the following paragraph of yours contradictory, I don't know whether you think Israel is important or not: As to the question of whether Israel's interests should always be looked upon as identical with those of the US and/or Europe, my answer is absolutely no. I'm against the settlements and I was against the war last summer.
But even if the risk of Israel being wiped of the map is only about 5%, I still think that it's not a risk I'm willing to take. The benefits of having a capitalist democracy in the center of the world are simply to great, something which I'm afraid we would only realize the day it weren't there.


How would you like 5% odds of you and your family being killed on the roads every time you went out? Care to live like that?

John

Teddy Bear writes:
"One of the biggest mistakes I see being made is accepting the Islamists bullshit that it is about Israel, or the US, or the UK foreign policy. Why do you think Muslims are murdering other Muslims then?"
Me: To me it's pretty obvious that Muslims have internal conflicts as well as external conflicts with the Western world.
When the West and/or the US decides to bomb an Arab country, the Arab world focuses less on on the internal conflicts which all other things equal isn't good for the West.

Teddy Bear: "How would you like 5% odds of you and your family being killed on the roads every time you went out? Care to live like that?"
Me: I don't think I'm being contradictory. What I have written is basically that I don't defend Israel in everything that it does and stands for, but when it comes to the threat of the existence of Israel (a nuclear Iran), I'm all for military strikes on Iran. I have to add though that I think diplomacy for the next 1-2 years is probably the right way to go.

James, another important difference between Pakistan and Iran is that Pakistan already has the bomb. So in the case of some religious fundamentalists taking over in Pakistan our possibilities would be a lot more limited than in the case of Iran. With Pakistan we kind of have to live with the risk, with Iran we can still prevent it from arising.

James

We can - perhaps - prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb, but at what cost? I think pretty much everyone commenting on this thread would agree regime change is a desirable goal in Iran - albeit not in the fashion of Iraq or Afghanistan. In any event, America doesn't have the will or the treasure for a third full-scale Middle Eastern invasion.

Attempting to destroy Iran's nuclear program will send those seekng internal change in Iran lightyears backwards.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad

ExtremeTracker

  • Tracker