Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Of Time and Rope: Letting Iran Make the Case for Preemption

Victor Hanson argues that the international community needs to give Iran enough rope and in time President Ahmadinejad will duly convince the Europeans and Iran's regional neighbors that unilateral U.S. action is necessary to stop Tehran's nuclear program. The background to the Iran problem is found in the domestic backlash on Iraq and in the ineffectiveness of preventive diplomacy:

The debate in the U.S. over how to contend with Iran as it pursues nuclear weapons goes like this: Many conservatives worry that the Bush administration — stung by the backlash over Iraq and the president's sinking poll numbers — has sworn off the military option. They argue that endless discussion and attempts at diplomacy have only emboldened the Iranian theocracy. Liberals counter that Iran's weapons program is over-hyped in the manner of Saddam Hussein's phantom nuclear arsenals. They worry we will soon stage another preemptive attack — if for no other reason than to wag the dog and shore up the president's approval ratings. And even if Iran gets the bomb, they argue, so what? Don't we already live with a nuclear Islamic Pakistan? Most Americans, though, probably understand the current U.S. position. We are resigned to the fact that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is both unhinged and eager to get his own nukes — and that we must somehow stop him at the 11th hour. For Ahmadinejad and Iran's ruling mullahs, there is little downside to pursuing and perhaps eventually obtaining a nuclear weapon. The issue helps divert attention from the country's domestic problems, humiliates Western diplomats and threatens rival Gulf oil producers. Plus, Ahmadinejad can brag that Iran is now the Islamic state that most worries Israel while blackmailing European capitals soon in missile range. Meanwhile, the United States, for a variety of understandable reasons, is not eager to take out Iran's nuclear facilities. A current parlor game imagines the nightmares of such a preemptive strike: it would be hard to know whether we eliminated all the centrifuges. Oil prices would get even worse. Some Shiites in Iraq might turn on our troops. Terrorists could be unleashed with dirty bombs in Western cities.
The U.S. should lay back and see how it goes. Once multilateral approaches demonstrate their pointlessness, American "leadership" may be called for.


M1 said...

You wrote...

...in time President Ahmadinejad will duly convince the Europeans and Iran's regional neighbors that unilateral U.S. action is necessary to stop Tehran's nuclear program...


The U.S. should lay back and see how it goes. Once multilateral approaches demonstrate their pointlessness, American "leadership" may be called for.

I find little if an iota in your righteously snide tersities that sugggest other than a predetermined desire on your part to wallop Iran.

You make the case quite adeptly that in fact much of what you are seeking is but pretext for forgone inclinations and agendas but in pregnant wait to be born out under some sufficient guise of synthetic morality.

I did indeed ponder: what scares a community college teacher like yourself obviously working with the less than perfectly SAT-gifted&dollar-endowed so significantly that you would express longings for pretext with such proficient syntax?

And what scares you so much that you'd even go to the lengths of weighing in with a strategy for the most efficient/expedient attainment of such pretext, so as to effectively secure the necessary demonization of the Iranian regime in the eyes of your fellow countrymen to pave the road for killing many of that regime's innocent civilians?

I also wonder thereof if you have at some point in your life been blessed to have fraternized with dead and shredded people who have fallen victim to industrialized violence and trauma. I fortunately have. But then again, it wasn't really all that pleasant now that you remind to think of it. I knew then as I stood before the shredded bodies of humans that I would really have to be sh*t scared to in any way shape or form have my name appended to the delivery and justification of such violence.

I do swear, I hate the Iranian regime and have engaged in my fair share of sneakiness to oppose the Iranian regime.

However jumping on a bandwagon to give weight and legitimacy to a regime hellbent on the de facto (ipso facto Iraq) destruction of civilians and their infrastructure to, by the most lenient of rationalizing accounts, pressure the regime into submission...well that's just terrorism according to the most stringent legal readings of the term.

Are you a terrorist with tenure? I don't think you think you are. But then again, whoever called themselves a terrorist?

Donald Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Donald Douglas said...

Meatball: C'mon, an unintelligible ad hominen attack? Certainly you can do better than that, no? What did you say your SAT scores were again?

Donald Douglas said...

Correction: That'd be an "ad hominem" attack, which means "an argument directed to the personality, prejudices, previous words and actions etc. of an opponent, rather than an appeal to pure reason." Source: Webster's Dictionary, 1998.

M1 said...

Damn you, I was just about to gleefully correct your spelling when I saw your own correction.

Everything is personal that is worthwhile and vice versa. I've never met a man with juice that never agreed. When the personal is forgotten the evil steps in.

Did I mention my SAT scores? I don't think so but I could make an exception and list the institutions of so-called higher learning that I've attended, my approx. net worth, my scores over time when tested with DMT, Raven's Matrix, (and a few other), describe my joy of affording myself quirkarian and sloppy blog syntax, drop some names of various Presidential family friends that I've gotten drunk, or give you my list of favorite Miami and Stockholm dives. (St Tropez can be thrown in for good measure)

But I will leave matters at the following for now: did you know that you can adjust the privacy setting of your Site Meter? As it stands now, all can view your traffic. You have an option of keeping such info private.


M1 said...

...but the question still begs an answer; the inuendo of your forumlations calls for pretext above good reason. Why is that?

Reread your writing on your wall - or I can have a comp lit prof at Brown do it for us. He still owes me a favor or two.

Certainly my ability to bench 90 kg x 15 reps serves me well here.

M1 said...

I'd also like to hear the answer. You appear to support foreign adventures of 'revolution everywhere' yet you seem to hue yourself a Burkean. Are there such creatures as Trotskyite Burkeans out there in Cal-E-4-Nie-EH?

Anonymous said...

Prof Douglas,

I too would enjoy the pleasures of being treated to a reply to the meatball's queries. I think she/he fielded perfectly legitimate commentary given the context of your post.

Mispelling ad hominem in the same sentence as using the word unintelligent revokes any rights to duck questions by way of stonewalling silence.

Do indulge us professor.

Donald Douglas said...

Intellectual incoherence and the occasional typographical error are two entirely different matters, dear Jessica. Meatball got the last word when he damned me for correcting my own mistake. Now, if you are able to wade through Meatball's ad hominem, scatterbrained gobbledygook, good for you -- you're well on your way to an illustrious career as a codebreaker of verbose hieroglyphic prose. Thank you for visiting the site. Please come back from time to time, and feel free to pump out your own high-octane commentary.

Anonymous said...

Prof Douglas,

I suppose an egghead MIT biatch as my Midwestern self has quite simply enjoyed the good fortune of a decent education.

My MIT sejour continues to serve my fainéant efforts well as I haphazardly set about digging for blogospherian nuggets of brilliance, oft wrapped as they are in the syntactic convolutions of eclectic genius. A code breaker I perhaps am if code breaking requires but an eye for humour and it's chosen style of delivery.

The only real burdensome aspect of my quest for goodies of gold is wading through sempiternal tonnages of lucid idiocy insecurely denuded of the slacking charm of typos and the brave humor of stylized grammarian gaucheries.

MIT also contributed somewhat to teaching little old moi to recognize a dodge per way of an employed ad hominem. Employ not which ye purport to detest. It just ain't cool. And it certainly ain't intellectually endearing to a peer. (Woops, and there went my syntax too! Chomsky will have my braided head for breakfast now)

Donald Douglas said...

It's all about the ideas, dear Jessica, no adhominem "syntactic convolutions" here...still waiting for some high-octane commentary, in any case...but thanks for stopping by once again.

Anonymous said...

Woops...ad_hominem. Non? I agree, it is a toughy to master.

You did write - "Once multilateral approaches demonstrate their pointlessness"

Does this phrasing not imply either a gift of prophesy or at the very least a proclivity towards pretexting an approach predetermined?

Or is syntax of little concern in conveying the specifities of one's ideas and you in fact meant what you thought as opposed to meaning what you wrote?

Mind reading - is that part of the hip curricula out west? For I fear that without my mastery of such esoteric knowledge I remain at a loss before what does appear to be a degree of logical contortionism in your authorship.

I continue to beg for professorial cliff notes.

Pretty please,

Donald Douglas said...

What's this "Woops," my dear Jessica? Did you mean "whoops," a term defined as a loud cry of excitement, joy, or "glee" (to use Meatball's term). Also a tough one to master, oui? We all make the occasional mistake, non? And that is a typographical error on your part, I do hope, for all that education you're touting. In any case, nuclear non-proliferation with regard to Iraq has worked best through the unilateral actions by states -- Israel in 1981 and the U.S. in 2003. As Victor Hanson indicated in his piece I discussed, we'll have to see how the current round of multilateralism on Iran plays out. Thanks again for the visit.

Anonymous said...

Whoops and Touché, Professor!

You are chivalrous in benefitting me with doubt but alas, my faux pas was not just an innocent typo. It was a misspelling with all the shame that such an err bestows upon the errant. I take some shy solace however in the fact that you knew exactly what I meant yet nonetheless afforded me your time and wisdom to offer up a correction. That gesture contributed quite handsomely to the core discussion at hand.

I hope I do not tout my education too shamelessly. I haven't said much more than that I attend MIT at present. I suppose I did allude to bumping into the venerable Sir Chomsky on occasion. Please forgive such haughtiness on my part. I mean well.

Anyhow, I am glad that you have returned to the nascent dialectic at hand despite that much of a direct reply to any of the queries afield thus far remains poignantly absent. But whatever, right?

nuclear non-proliferation with regard to Iraq has worked best through the unilateral actions by states

This 'Nuclear non-proliferation' you speak of. What is meant by that?

...and perhaps more specifically so as to touch one particlar aspect of the question above,

What are the chosen contextual parameters of your trumpeted thesis that would lend credence to its John Wayne-ish contentions?

Personally I find it reads more like a slogan than anything nested in empirical reality.

P.S. I plan to use your blogiful dissertations as substrate for a discussion in a seminar scheduled for next week. Stochastic, non?

Perhaps I could tape it and post the audio file online if you are interested in listening. I would of course first have to secure permission from the participants. I'll revert to you later on the matter.

Donald Douglas said...

My dear Jessica, that'd be "particular," now that you're continuing the discussion of these fecund imprecisions, and thus to you again goes "all the shame that such an err bestows upon the errant." Perhaps in "particlar" you had a rhyming confusion with the "Knights Templar," appropriate to someone of your codebreaking skills (and this reference should be easy to solve, non?). Good luck with your seminar discussion, honestly, it sounds like a good experience for you. BTW, I've never bumped into Mr. Chomsky, but did attend a lecture by Howard Zinn way back in my wayward undergraduate days.

Anonymous said...

Since you seem to be on a roll of sorts - what is the proper spelling of annal retentive?

And what is the going rate for prostitutes in Sweden, professor?


M1 said...

Goodness me. Since this topic has taken a turn for the prickly, how about a tip or two.

Douglas, did you know that you can work a quick fix whereby your links pop up in a new window? It's great for keeping readers glued to your site. You don't want to lose them by linking them out of your grip.

After you have written your post, click on the tab labelled EDIT HTML

Then insert the following code wherever you have added a link:


To be specific per example, a link that at first appears as such in your HTML code:


will read as such after proper insertion:

href="http://meatball" target="_blank">ReadMore

Notice that I created a space after " before I inserted the magic code?

Just to be overly concise:



Read More is simply my choice of filler text that represents whatever text follows your link.

Got it? I'm sure you will.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Great idea!

That trick is for me.

Anonymous said...

I too come bearing tips.

How about removing those annoying Edit-Me links in your Link list?

The honeymoon is over and now is the time for the professor to run a graphically tighter ship.


That's all there is to it.

Tenure is soon in sight!