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The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Tue. Jan 17, 2006

On The Couch Watching Iran

Last week Iran removed UN seals on a reactor, said they were going to resume research on enriching uranium, and caused Britain, France and Germany to give up their 2.5 years of diplomatic efforts with Iran. Over the past several days, it seems everyone is asking, “what to do about Iran and nukes?” Or rather, “how can our party best position itself on the issue of Iran to make the Other Guys look foolish,” and “how can we save face over the failure of diplomacy, yet not try anything more than diplomacy?” And other questions which, even if answered, don’t address the real world.

As is our human wont, many think the problem boils down to one man, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

As Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is “What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?”

Political analysts point to the fact that Iran feels strong because of high oil prices, while America has been weakened by the insurgency in Iraq.

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad — recently described by President George W Bush as an “odd man” — and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: “What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad’s piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president’s belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.

Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

Telegraph: “‘Divine mission’ driving Iran’s new leader

In this, the Iranian President is remarkably similar to Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, whose recent remarks about Ariel Sharon were driven by the belief an “intact” Israel is required by Bible prophecy as a prerequisite to the Second Coming. And the Apocalypse.

However, the 700 Club is not seeking nukes. To the best of my knowledge, anyway. But the popularity of the “Left Behind” series shows that there’s a lot of people on this planet, of multiple faiths, who would seemingly welcome Armageddon. Tomorrow, if possible. One can only assume many of them therefore would have no problem hastening it.

Judging by numerous inflammatory comments recently, the Iranian President might just be one of those people. As Charles Krauthammer put it, “So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. (Pity the Democrats. They cannot catch a break.) This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person.

In fact, Iran is planning a “Holocaust conference”: “Iran, whose president has denied the Holocaust, said Sunday it would hold a conference to examine the scientific evidence concerning Nazi Germany’s extermination of 6 million Jews.” So he’s not exactly withdrawing his remarks, he’s actually bringing in reinforcements.

While you might think the citizens and public servants of the Sole Remaining Superpower would properly recognize this as a serious international issue, the evidence says that many view it, first and foremost, as a domestic political battle.

Victor Davis Hanson: “If the Democrats feel they have lost the public’s confidence in their stewardship of national security, then the threat of Iran offers a Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, or John Kerry an opportunity to get out front now and pledge support for a united effort — attacking Bush from the right about too tepid a stance rather from the predictable left that we are ‘hegemonic’ and ‘imperialistic’ every time we use force abroad.

Ezra Klein: “If [Sen. Harry] Reid’s offices aren’t packed with exhausted national security aides drawing up a comprehensive plan to deal with Iran and the DNC’s PR guys aren’t booking prominent Democrats to blanket television and set the terms of the debate, we’ve got a problem. One way or the other, Iran is going to be an issue. And given that, Democrats need to step forward on it first so, in six months, they’re not left playing catch-up to the hawks.

Apparently there is no problem so large or important that it cannot be reduced and ported to our unique domestic form of binary partisan politics.

So will we hear of a red solution and a blue solution? Broadly speaking, on one side, we’ve got the intelligence and diplomatic credibility earned via three years in Iraq, while the other side’s credibility often rides on ridiculing anything proposed by Bush, especially more foreign ventures.

That’s not exactly a prime environment in which to breed a real solution. Of course, it also assumes that anyone in Congress (or their supporters) will have any influence on the Iranians, an assumption that could only find fuel in partisan pride, not the real world.

In the real world, it would appear no one is having any luck influencing the Iranians. In an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey makes the stark statement:

With all due respect, the Iranians don’t seem to care what you think.

Well, they might not seem to care. But if I say that I am not able to confirm the peaceful nature of that program after three years of intensive work, well, that’s a conclusion that’s going to reverberate, I think, around the world.

Diplomacy is not just talking. Diplomacy has to be backed by pressure and, in extreme cases, by force. We have rules. We have to do everything possible to uphold the rules through conviction. If not, then you impose them. Of course, this has to be the last resort, but sometimes you have to do it.

Basically, ElBaradei says that Iran has not shown good will in negotiations, shows no signs of heeding the international community, and then he speaks of the need for “pressure” and “force.” Since the IAEA would now like to wash its hands of this and send the matter on to the UN Security Council, you’d think this would be progress of some sort.

You would be wrong: “Moscow, with a $1 billion stake building Iran’s first atomic reactor, and Beijing, reliant on Iranian oil for its surging economy, have so far thwarted such a move by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors.

Meanwhile…

Iran stepped up its defiance of international pressure over its nuclear programme yesterday by warning of soaring oil prices if it is subjected to economic sanctions. As diplomats from the US, Europe, Russia, and China prepared to meet today in London to discuss referring Tehran to the UN security council, Iran’s economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari, said the country’s position as the world’s fourth-largest oil producer meant such action would have grave consequences.

“Any possible sanctions from the west could possibly, by disturbing Iran’s political and economic situation, raise oil prices beyond levels the west expects,” he told Iranian state radio.

Which is actually a tamer statement than we’ve heard in the recent past, when they simply said any referral to the UN Security Council would result in higher oil prices. Not due to the impact of sanctions, but by the unilateral action of Iran upon simple referral.

So we appear to have a country (or rather, its leaders) that insists it is immune to any form of outside pressure, from the European diplomatic initiative by France, Germany and Britain, to the IAEA, the UN Security Council, their trading partners in Russia, and, oh yeah, our own domestic political battlebots.

Further, they claim if the international community even gathers together to talk about possible sanctions, they’ll respond with their ace card: oil prices. This ace card probably also buys them at least one veto vote over any Security Council decision, from energy hungry China.

And if potential diplomatic solutions have indeed run out, the next question is, just how imminent is nuclear danger from Iran? Intelligence estimates seem to range from three years to a decade. I remember reading that the Israeli assessment was that they could begin enriching uranium within a few months, and could produce nuclear weapons within three years of that.

Maybe so. But I have to ask … when exactly have intelligence estimates been right? When Pakistan went nuclear, it caught us by surprise. And the CIA went from saying North Korea could get nukes within five years, to “oops, we think they already have several.” Need we even bring up the pre-Iraq intel?

Relying on a intel estimate that implies at least a three year cushion is about like relying on the US budget forecast that claimed a surplus through most of this decade.

But let’s assume Iran acquires nuclear weapons by early 2009. What then? One could argue that in this decade or next, several countries will likely acquire nuclear capability. It’s a “sooner or later” thing, so why go to war to try and stop something that’s going to happen anyway?

Inertia is indeed a powerful argument. If you want to believe this report in the Scotsman, it’s one to which the international community may well succumb. At the very least, the options are becoming stark. Let’s look at the most likely ones.

The Couch Spectator Solution: As described in the Scotsman article, “Officials in London and Washington now privately admit that they must face the painful fact that there is nothing they can do.” Except sit back on the couch and hope for the best. Hope that President Ahmadinejad’s recent verbal warfare is really just “barking” meant to solidify his domestic position and power by thrusting himself onto the world stage in such an attention grabbing manner. Hope that the decades of bellicose bluster from Iranian mullahs was just that … bluster. Hope that the country that has long been #1 on the State Department’s hit parade of “Nations That Support Terrorism” won’t be inclined to share this particular nuclear gift.

And as we all know, it’s really hard to get out of that couch sometimes. Easier just to sit there.

The “Don’t Make Us Spank You” Solution: If we’re lucky, and China somehow decides to take a pass on their long held national pastime of Messing With The West For Fun, and not use their veto, it is possible the UN Security Council might be able to put together some harsh words for Iran (and then water them down via conference), in some form of official condemnation from the international community. “We all see you, naughty naughty.” It reminds me a bit of Robin Williams’ joke about an unarmed British bobby chasing a thief … “Stop! Or …or … I’ll yell stop again!”

One step up from that, we have The “No More Fondue Forks For You” Solution. In this case, the UN Security Council actually puts some economic sanctions in place, banning export to Iran of whipped cream, triple edged razor blades, and fondue forks. Or something equally inconsequential and ineffective.

I don’t think either of the options involving the UN are very likely, nor would they do any good. No one will admit it, but I’d bet many in the international community harbor a secret hope. I think we’ll see The Couch Spectator Solution lead inevitably to…

The “Look Away and Let The Israelis Do It” Solution: And this option deserves a bit more thought, as, frankly, I think it’s the most likely outcome. Also, it is perhaps the option with the ugliest potential aftermath.

Why am I so sure the Israelis will make an attempt to attack Iran’s nuclear capabilities? Well, let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes. Imagine a country very nearby the US … within intermediate missile range … that is lead by a bellicose man who threatens to acquire nuclear weapons, and says he expects he will have to use them against the US in self-defense.

Would we allow that country to acquire those weapons? For the answer, check your history book, under “1962 Cuba Missile Crisis.”

Israel faces a country lead by a man who says they are a blot on the map that should be wiped off. A country that has long helped fuel groups that have attacked Israel for many years. And while it would have taken hundreds of nukes to wipe out the US, it would only take two or three to wipe out a small country like Israel. In other words, all it would take is Iran’s “first batch” of nuclear stew.

In a historical context (see 1967 War, 1973 War, and Osirak), and in a strategic context, it makes no objective sense for Israel to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons unimpeded.

If I had to place a percentage on it, I’d have said it was 95-5 when Sharon was still in power, and maybe 85-15 now, purely because of that domestic political uncertainty (Israel has elections coming up in a couple of months). And that’s if the status quo is maintained. But somehow I think President Ahmadinejad is easily bored with the status quo. He likes to stir things up.

If it becomes obvious over the next few months that the international community is not going to take substantive action (as I think will be the case), and Israel decides it has to act out of national self preservation (as I think will be the case), this wouldn’t exactly be a rerun of their attack of Iraq’s reactor at Osirak.

You’ve probably heard most of the reasons. Iran (and others) learned from that and dispersed their facilities far, wide, and deep. Some are located in urban areas, as if to insure civilians deaths in any attack. And they are all much further away from Israel than Osirak was, logistically complicating an already complex problem.

But it’s more than that. After the attack on Osirak in 1981 (ironically, Iran had tried to take it out in 1980), the world tut-tutted the Israelis for their aggression. A Security Council resolution was passed condemning them. But that’s about it as far as repercussions. Ten years later, we would be kissing the desert sands in thanks that Saddam did not have nukes when he invaded Kuwait.

This time, first of all, there is the very serious question of whether such an attack would be successful. Most of the analysis I’ve read suggests that even in the best case, it would not eliminate the Iranian program, but would set it back two or three years.

On the couch, you can almost hear the inertia respond in harmony … “yes, well, two or three years is better than nothing.”

And in my opinion, that’s the problem with The “Look Away and Let The Israelis Do It” Solution. Those two or three years after an Israeli attack on Iran (successful or not) will likely be a spreading hell. We all know the level of Arab enmity for Israel over the Palestinians … imagine how it will boil over if Israel attacks Iran. And I do mean boil over on everyone.

Never mind Iranian inspired Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the fact Assad will use the opportunity to resolidify his position in Syria. Remember why many Arabs dislike us … because we are the best ally of their worst enemy, Israel. And there we are with 160,000 troops and a strung out supply line through Shi’ite territory in Iraq. It will be assumed we were complicit in any Israeli attack, since we control Iraqi airspace.

Need I also mention that a huge chunk of the world’s oil supply (and our troop’s supply line) transits the Persian Gulf, and that the entire northern coast of the very narrow Persian Gulf is .. Iran?

If Israel attacks Iran, I don’t think they’ll take their lumps, shout about it, and not much else, as Saddam pretty much did after Osirak. Iran has some strong options for retaliation, and I don’t think they would be very proportional or focused in their response. I think they would “go wide,” and the region would quickly become a spreading hell for all.

Frankly, if it came down to an attack on the Iranian nuclear program, in terms of the aftermath, it would be better if the US did it than if the Israelis did it. But that’s not exactly a rationale that will be considered in this, is it?

And it’s not a course I personally would recommend. Yet. It seems to me that if the international community is serious about stopping Iran, the only sanctions that might work are those that will also cause some pain in the international community. Which is why I’m not optimistic any of this will happen.

If Russia and China are two of Iran’s biggest trade partners, they’re the ones who can have some real impact. And in turn, maybe get some pain. If it is true that despite the fact Iran is a gross exporter of oil, they import most of their gasoline (due to a lack of refinery capacity), that’s one serious lever that could be pulled. If it’s true that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are the two countries that provide Iran with most of their refined gasoline, they’re the ones who can have some real impact. And in turn, maybe get some pain. And they in particular ought to fear a nuclear Iran … one nuke each, and no more oil production for a long time.

Most importantly, if the problem really is not Iran, but the regime that controls Iran, we’ve got to make a concerted international effort to separate about 67 million Iranians from that regime. There’s got to be ways to reach out to the Iranian people and provide them with any support we can. To gently make clear that what they already know has become imminent: their rulers are going to bring them disaster.

To gently remind them that they once had rulers they cast off, and that they can choose again. That they must choose, while they still can. I hate to sound all Pollyanna, but I’m a visual guy: there’s got to be a way for us to be the sunshine fighting to shine through the obvious dark clouds fast approaching. To both offer hope, and make clear time is running out.

While I’m in Pollyanna mode, there ought to be a way to take our worry about Iranian influence in Shi’ite southern Iraq, and turn it around the other way. Convince the Iraqi Shi’ites that a change is coming in Iran, and they ought to get out in front of it … in their own self interest, because Iran has places the Shi’ites consider holy sites, like Qom.

At the same time, on the QT, we need to also be asking Iran’s regime some questions. “Do you remember the Revolution of 1979, and how relatively easily it occurred? How much do you like being in power? And before you lift a military finger in mischief, how much do you like having a Navy? We’re thinkin’ we really don’t like you having one, right there on the Persian Gulf and all. We’ve also been thinkin’, if you’re threatening to use your oil as a weapon against us, why shouldn’t we take that weapon away by blowing it up? But we’re still thinkin’. We’ll get back to you.”

So far the current leadership hasn’t responded to any form of pressure or structured negotiations that could lead to the Security Council. They just buck harder. But threaten the regime’s power, heavily and effectively, and you just might get them to blink.

And, you just might get a revolution. Even if you just get a “blink,” it’s worth more than a shot, it’s worth a lot of effort. Because “the last resort” is potentially disastrous. Worth a great amount of effort to avoid.

Part of the problem is getting the international community (or even a “coalition of the willing”) to quickly and concertedly ramp up and activate that kind of campaign. Because the other part of the problem is that we’re dealing with an unknown and variable deadline.

“They” say “three years until a bomb,” but the critical point in the process comes long before then. When, I don’t know, I’m no expert in the nuclear weapons cycle. But I would guess we have a year, maybe a little more, before we reach the point of “last resort.”

In all the above, I’ve touched on everything except whether the US itself should make an attack on Iran’s nuclear program. There’s a couple of reasons for that. One, I’m not sure the Israeli’s won’t beat us to the punch. Two, I’m not sure we have the will to do it on our own.

In an ideal Pollyanna world, the EU3 and Russia would all agree, diplomacy has failed, and their program must be stopped (I’m still befuddled that Russia seems unconcerned with a nuclear Iran to their south, within missile range of Moscow). In an ideal Pollyanna world, this coalition of the willing would collectively and selectively take out Iran’s nuclear program.

This, of course, won’t happen. If only because, even if these powers agreed today that it was a good idea, it would be the winter of 2012 before the actual attack plan was hashed out in committee.

Though it makes some sense in terms of resources, the worst case scenario is a joint US-Israeli attack. It might indeed bring the most effective military outcome in the short term. But as for the long term effect, we might as well slice our own wrists. We would validate a million conspiracy theories, and an enmity of generations.

You know what that leaves. Uncle Sam goes it alone. In which case, I don’t know if we could be as selective as we could in a coalition approach. Israel would face the same problem. If you’re going to take on Iran solo, you’d better make it a knockout punch. You’d better not only take out your primary target, their nuclear program (which is actually 40 or more targets), you need to also severely damage their capacity to retaliate.

Say what you will about the US military, about the difficulties of the occupation, or being “bogged down” in Iraq with regard to any possible attack on Iran. I firmly believe that if they are given that goal, and provided the necessary resources, they have a range of military options that could be quite effective. And they would perform admirably, as we have come to take for granted.

And that is no small thing. But I hope they don’t have to be called on for that ugly task. And I don’t care to discuss the options if they were. There’s simply no need to go there yet.

But here’s one thing I know for sure. No matter what happens, gas is going up over the next year. If Iran is simply referred to the Security Council for a slap on the wrist, they say they’ll yank our oil chain. If there’s real sanctions, they’ll yank harder. Work your way up the scale to the potential of war closing down the entire Persian Gulf.

That’ll sure keep us on the couch, won’t it?


Peanut Gallery

1  Andrew Duncalfe wrote:

There’s an article in the Telegraph’s opinion column that speculates the result of your “Couch Spectator” solution. Your article and the Telegraph one are both provocative reading, cheers Reid.

2  Reid wrote:

Thanks, Andrew. By the way, your comment killed my site. Well, I might have helped.

I read that article before I wrote the above, and though I found it interesting, I had decided not to link it because of the heavy-handed “moral of the story” in the final paragraph:

Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration’s original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran’s nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost.

That’s a pretty subjective “moral of the story.” One might also write…

Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was that the Bush administration’s original principle of pre-emption was shown to be valid in some circumstances, but not others. And if that policy of pre-emption is applied too early, with too little concern for the aftermath, or simply ineffectively, it can weaken that policy option when it is really needed.

Historians are also bound to note that two successive US presidents created such a high level of personal distrust and distaste among a sizable number of Americans that their foreign policy actions were opposed in a knee-jerk manner, and seen as merely an intentional distraction from their domestic troubles. This was the case in 1998 when Bill Clinton lobbed 98 cruise missles at an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. He was severely criticized, and accused of wagging the dog, when we now know in hindsight that attack was not only justified, it should have been a lot bigger.

It was true with George Bush and Iran in 2006 as well.

3  Andrew Duncalfe wrote:

Heh, I wondered what happened. I’ve obviously been neglecting the internet so much that when I actually post a comment, I take entire sites down for hours at a time! Bwahaha :)

I also noticed about two seconds after I posted the comment that the Telegraph piece has been linked from here to Christmas already. My bad for not surfing much over the long weekend.

4  DanS wrote:

In re: “U.S. Rejects Truce Offer From bin Laden” our President said ‘We do not negotiate with terrorists’;
going only by that, I think Mr. Bush has missed something very ominous – bin Laden was not offering to negotiate.

bin Laden was offering a warning and a way to avoid ‘something’ that (he says) is pretty much inevitable.

To my mind, that is very different from negotiations. I hate to say it, but it puts the ball in our court. Do nothing & suffer the consequences or …..; I’m considering what the aftermath would mean. A ‘warned’ President Bush gets smacked and a ‘dead or missing’ phantom gets to crow about it to his fellows?

That’s gonna leave a mark.

5  Reid wrote:

I assume you’re referring to this, while this is about Iran. I considered turning on comments for the quotes and links I make here … but didn’t. For what I consider my own good reasons. Please don’t try to jury-rig my system to accommodate something I intentionally left out.

But there are many other blogs where you can comment on that topic.

6  DanS wrote:

????

I was only reading what you posted. It moved me to respond.

I certainly wasn’t of an intent to rig anything.

But you’ve just spoken volumes.

7  Reid wrote:

But you’ve just spoken volumes.

No, I haven’t, so don’t take this as personally as you seem to be. I’ve stated the same thing I always have at this site, in a tamer manner than I usually do.

On all articles that allow comments here, six weeks after the post date, comments close automatically. And I have people who come along that want to add something on a closed article, so they just find the first article they can where comments are still open, and post it there.

The topic already ongoing in that comment thread is irrelevant to what they have to say. As I’ve explained to one of them in the past, “if you were at a party where people were talking about a recent movie, and you walked up to offer your opinion on [unrelated topic], how do you think they’d react?” ( an example )

But most times when someone does that, I simply delete the off-topic comment.

What I was trying to do was explain to you that I decided not to allow comments on the items I offer up in links or quotes, like the one on Bin Laden you reference. It’s just a link. If it brings thoughts to your mind, great, that was part of the reason I linked it, but I can’t offer a place for everyone to say everything they want about every item linked or quoted here.

And even on regular articles, I’ve been pretty consistent about requesting people stay “on topic” for a long time, so I’m sorry if you think it was intended personally.

8  DanS wrote:

As you say, it’s your “Home” & I’m just a wanderer who found himself upon your couch.

Far be it from me to blame myself for trying to adhere to your rules. How was I supposed to divine your intent on future ‘rigs’ in reading what you posted?

I had NO IDEA that what you posted from the comfort of your home was not intended for response.

Makes me wonder: why on Earth are you posting if you don’t want response?

9  Reid wrote:

Dan, I’m not sure how to explain this without you taking it wrong. I’ve tried to be nice. I said “please.” I offered the fact I often just completely delete off topic comments. Yet here I am still trying to explain this to you. That should be clue one.

Factually, not personally: it is both a matter of organization and topic.

This site has many articles. It also has links. It also has quotes. It also has photos. It has always, for many years, had all of these things, in one form or another. And always, for many years, you can leave a comment on articles, but not on links, or quotes, or photos.

That’s not personal. That’s organizational. That’s not the future, that’s the way it’s always been. The only difference is that the quotes and links that were once in the sidebar have been mixed in with the main content for a few months. But they’ve never offered comments.

This page you’re reading is a article. With a comment form. The one about which you want to add your response is a link. With no comment form.

In this case, I spent well over an hour composing the nearly four thousand words that appear on this page, the article on which you are commenting. Those 4,000 words are all about Iran. Not one of them was “Osama.”

Your comment was all about Osama. Not one word about Iran.

That’s not personal, that’s a matter of the topic of the other 99% of the content of this particular page. Or, it was, until this comment thread turned into … whatever it is now. Which was exactly my point to begin with.

why on Earth are you posting if you don’t want response?

Give me a break, Dan. A search for ‘Dan S’ on my site shows 637 pages returned. Those are your “responses” here.

I’m sorry you feel so oppressed and censored.

Do I need to create an open thread each week, so you can write about whatever you want? Because I really hate those. Or are you able to accept the idea that I might want to post a link, or quote, or photo, and not want to add comments capability to every one of them?

As for “why on Earth are you posting” on this site, I’ve stated repeatedly, for years, I do this for myself. Like millions of others who have web sites. I built my first web site 10 years ago this coming April. Long before “blogging,” or comments. I never intended for it to be a community web site or a social app.

It’s me, my words, my photos, my work. Oh, yeah, and over 6,000 comments from others.

So what exactly do you want, Dan? Because we seem to go through this every few months when I in some way let you down. What exactly would you have me change to better live up to your expectations?

10  DanS wrote:

Reid:

1st of all, I would thank you for your post of ‘our’ journey down ‘Memory Lane’; secondly, I thank you for validating what my fellow-Veterans have so often-stated: “for Those Who Fight For it, Freedom Has A Taste the Protected Will Never Know”.

Rest Assured! You have made your point clear, convincing & crystal! You perhaps thought you would hurl my posts back at me as something of blame or something I should be ashamed of; actually, I thank you for the compendium.

I came to your site because of your posts; I thought I responded to you with thought, care, concern & empathy. Upon reading your link, I see that what I did wrong was disagree with you … my assesments and comments were not wrong in light of events.

What comes through Loud & Clear is that you are the quintessential “Chicken Hawk”!

I sit here at a keyboard, 50%-disabled, in service to both USMC and USAF, a Combat Action Ribbon as my tool-tray at the bottom of my screen.

Don’t make me further cry at the sacrifice me and the like of me gave and fought for. Yeah, I claim kinship with ALL of the Warriors who actually GAVE something to enable your dis-arrayed points as regards your o-so-noble blog.

I thank you for reminding me of why we sat in the rain in places like Viet Nam & Cambodia; I’m sure you have no idea of why that was.

What exactly would I have you change to better live up to my expectations?

Not a doggone thing.

I understand the chicken-hawk mentality better every day I read you.

I thank you for your service.

As I stated above, I want no quarrel with you; but you simply have to quit attacking me based on my responses to what you post. What am I supposed to do??? It was YOU who invited ME here.

Aside from a few echoes of rejoinder, I’m gone.

11  Reid wrote:

You still don’t get the factual act, you’ve merely descended to name calling, like a partisan hack. So I no longer am inclined to be nice.

I thought I responded to you with thought, care, concern & empathy?

Bullshit. Dan, what is the topic of this page? It’s right up there at the top of your browser. The title says “On the Couch Watching Iran.?

What is the topic of this page? It’s a very simple question, but one you seem completely incapable or unwilling to understand.

Is the topic of this page the couch? Is it Iran?

It is one or the other, but it is definitely not about Osama.

What is your original comment in this thread about?

Osama.

Do you understand the topic of Iran does not equal the topic of Osama? Do you understand that when someone writes 4,000 words about Iran, and you come along to talk about kumquats, it’s disrespectful to the effort put into those 4,000 words on Iran? Do you understand that in this comment thread, there are three comments about Iran, the topic in question, and seven comments of you and I going back and forth about everything except Iran?

No, of course you don’t.

Thats’ what started this. I then proceeded to try and explain, nicely, rather than just delete your comment as off topic, as I do with most folks.

Stupid me.

Upon reading your link, I see that what I did wrong was disagree with you?

You’d have to write about Iran to disagree with what I’ve written on this page. You wrote about Osama. I wrote about Iran. How is that disagreeing with me? That’s changing the subject.

Oh, you mean you disagree with what I wrote here, on this entirely separate page, on this entirely separate topic?

Not according to what you wrote. You wroteIn re: ‘U.S. Rejects Truce Offer From bin Laden’ our President said ‘We do not negotiate with terrorists’; going only by that, I think Mr. Bush has missed something very ominous – bin Laden was not offering to negotiate?

This was in response to the words I added to that link? “Pushing one crappy quality audiotape out of your cave in a year is a victory? What does that make daily podcasters? Overachieving conquerors? Sure you’re winning, Sparky.? No, I don’t think so.

You just had something to say, unrelated to anything I’d said (certainly on this page), and found a place to put it. Rather than simply delete your comment, I told you it was inappropriate and explained why.

For my efforts, you call me a Chickenhawk. Frankly, I’ve always thought that revealed more about the person using the term than it did about the accused. Because those who believe there are Chickenhawks are in effect saying that only those with military experience have the right to an opinion, the right to run for office and lead. Pakistan has a government like that; it’s called “a military dictatorship.?

That’s what you want, Dan? Because this country is 10% military veterans, 90% Chickenhawks.

So, since I was never in the military, my opinions are worthless. Then why have you been reading this site and posting comments here for years?

A real Chickenhawk would have deleted your comments ages ago with no response at all, not tried to patiently explain things to you. A real Chickenhawk would call you names right back. Hell, a real Chickenhawk wouldn’t even have open comments, nor have accumulated 6,000 of them.

But because you can’t accept the simple fact of my preference, and because you can’t accept the way this site has been operated for years, I’m a Chickenhawk. You’ve shown that you think your right to post whatever you want, whereever you want, whenever you want, greatly exceeds my rights as owner of this site. You instead descend into name calling. Like a partisan hack. Like someone who has run out of ammo.

You never even hit the target, Dan. Iran. Got anything to say about that? You’re welcome. Got something to say about Osama? North Korea? Frozen Daquiris? This page is not about those topics.

If you can’t understand the simple facts as I’ve explained them to you here, and still don’t understand that you’ve been trying to pound your round Osama peg into this square hole clearly marked “Iran,? in the future I won’t even bother. Comments about the topic on that page will be gladly accepted. Off topic comments will be deleted with no comment. As I clearly should have done after your first comment about Osama.

My mistake was in trying to be nice and explain things to you. Won’t happen again, I promise.

EDIT: I've created a new post where you, or anyone, can explain why I'm a Chickenhawk and should allow open posting on any and every item on this site. Have at it.

12  Mark wrote:

Wow. That’s awesome. Thought I’d comment and say that was a spectacular, umm, display of something, can’t quite pinpoint it but I loved the tension.
It’s okay if you respond to my comment with anger, I’m probably never visit again even though I like your approach to things. Nice blog, I like it. Got here through Redmond I think if I remember correctly.
Good Luck

Comment by Mark · 01/21/2006 11:33 PM
13  emcee fleshy wrote:

I had actually been meaning to comment on this article. Ironically, the article made me think about it to the point that I haven’t decided on a position, so I don’t actually have a comment.

In the meantime, I do have this to say – Men should not drink Frozen Daquiris unless: 1) within 100 feet of an ocean; 2) more than 50 feet from any fully-enclosed structure; 3) the ambient air temperature exceeds 80 degrees F; and 4) the bartender’s native language is not English.

14  ruminator wrote:

It’s interesting that I finally spent the time to read the essay in question, rather than the comment thread that devolved into the abyss.

I was curious about what Reid had to say about this business in Iran. It’s more curious that there’s little being said (at least in my small circle of reads) about Iran and the real danger posed by that government.

North Korea is governed by an unstable madman. It’s possible that country might detonate at any time. Iran, in contrast, is biding its time until it HAS the capability, then simply will use it, without thought as to outcome. There’s a difference between instability and willfulness. The potential threat to the world’s current energy supply WILL motivate nations to move in that direction. That begins to sound amazingly like Armageddon.

I’m not looking forward to how this plays out. That our administration seems to be ignoring the developments is troubling, but this problem is not going to go away. Like Reid, I think the outcome of an Israeli pre-emptive strike will rattle around for decades and cause us (as well as them and others) all kinds of trouble. It’s a tough spot, for sure, and needs the collective weight of multiple nations to sort it out. However, that seems mightily unlikely to me, a poor observer stuck out here in an ivory tower.

15  DanS wrote:

I am truly sorry that I did not acknowledge the work you put into your piece on Iran.

I DID read the entire thing before I posted and I read further on your links; I thought sure we were both on the same page when I exchanged with you as we did.

May I say, carefully & with all due respect, that I DO appeciate what you say and I APPLAUD you for having a reasoned-seasoned Voice.

“Chicken Hawk”, as I used the term, has nothing whatsoever to do with being ‘gay’ or anything like that; it has everything to do with those who would espouse policy from an armchair without realizing that some poor sap is gonna find himself in a mudhole and scared out of his mind for his safety and the safety of those in his immediate presence.

Again: I apologize to the best of my ability for screwing up your comments-policy; I just didn’t know. I thought you and your site were all about communications. If this is to be simplex, rather than duplex, communications, I have learned my lesson.

Iran: they will bluster, they will build, they will aquire right to the very brink of a launchable-weapon; they will be exactly what we should have launched a war against in 2003. Instead, we went off half-cocked against Iraq. Osama bin Laden has observed all this and is calculating his response.

While we debate the various alternatives & scenarios that you have VERY-succintly posted, it is OBL that worries me more than Iran. That is all I had in mind at our initial postings.

I am truly sorry that you took so personally my use of the term ‘chickenhawk’; I did not dream that it would cause you such trouble. I meant it as I understood it to mean in the world of politics: an armchair general. And at THAT, I did not mean you ill-will nor wish anything other than an honest two-way conversation with a longtime-exchanger.

Yes, I DO take personally that which you post; Did you wish I did otherwise when you posted? If so, I am the one in fault.

SINCERELY!

DanS.

16  Reid wrote:

I am truly sorry that you took so personally my use of the term ‘chickenhawk’

I don’t think you fully understand the connotations of that phrase, because there is no way to take it but personally. It’s an insult, and an accusation:

Chickenhawk (CHIK.un.hawk) n. A person who now advocates war but who once took special measures to avoid military service.

Or, as Michael Moore puts it, those who “found it in themselves to avoid the various wars of the past half century.

I turned 18 in September of 1976. There was no war to avoid, not even a draft. In the 80’s, we took on Grenada and Panama, but there was no time for me to saddle up, as they were over in a few news cycles. In 1991, I was nearly 33, a bit ripe in terms of what the military is looking for in an inductee, and once again, I would hardly have had time to make it out of boot camp before the victory flags were waving in the Gulf War.

If there’d been any sign the US military would have needed grunts on the ground in Bosnia, I would have gladly gone. But I can’t fly an F-16, and that was pretty much our involvement in breaking that stalemate.

By the time 9/11 rolled around, I was days shy of 43, and if our military is in a shape where it needed me, you’ve got lots more to worry about than this one Chickenhawk.

I greatly value those who served, as my grandfather did during WWI, and my dad in the 50’s. But when you indict those who didn’t serve, you’re indicting 90% of the population of the US. This is an era where everyone under the age of 48 in the US came of age during a time of a volunteer military. A time when we had nearly 200 million adults (at least a quarter of those of prime military age), and a little over 1 million uniforms.

You do the math. There’s a lot of folks like me. The vast majority. And nary a one of us “once took special measures to avoid military service.”

17  DanS wrote:

Reid, man, you are racking up those GOOD points that I’ve always admired you for!

I’m confident that you and I would have been good war-time buddies. My job of putting wounded-dead KIA Marines on MedEvac helicopters changed my whole life & perspective. I like to think I was like you ….once.

Don’t ever mind me too much; I’m as I always said I was: a Reader who is happy to read thoughtful, careful analysis of things that matter to the Site Host.

I hope you’ll indulge me when I say that what you write sometimes causes me to find a way to respond.

You write; I’ll read -maybe I’ll go off the reservation if what you say truly-moves me as did your post on Iran.

Today’s newspaper had the article about “PRP” Marines whose job is to come the after-action battlefield for the bits, parts & pieces. It’s that sort of thing that is driving almost every Vet I know to frenzy & distraction; while compassionate in intent, it severs an essential part of being Marine as opposed to Army; -with no insult intended whatsover, Marines have ALWAYS (since 1776!) ‘policed’ the battlefield to care for our dead & wounded.

I am glad you posted your age-status vis a vis military service; I kinda suspected such and I hold you in no way wrong.

Certain articles and particular comments cause inner-rage; I’m sorry if I lashed out at you. I apologize for using your bandwidth badly.

Those pictures in the paper today … looking in pockets for whatever might be there, .... that fellow carrying a leg … putting a torso with but the bleeding stump of an arm on a MedEvac chopper one too many times affected my outlook on things.

If I get crazy fom time-to-time, perhaps I’ve shared with you why.

It is truly YOUR SITE, Reid. Know that ‘real’ (not YOU!!) chickenhawks really, truly don’t care about such death & dimemberment. It’s National Honor, the price of a gallon of gas, and Return On Investment that attracts them. That’s not you.

I have shrapnel in my legs and my eyes have still not adjusted to what they saw in combat close up. Sorry I’m such a ‘wuss’, but I was 18 at the time and my Father (of WWII-Fame) saw fit to drink his way to Sanity after New Guinea, Luzon and Okinawa.

What am I trying to say? Keep me a few more days.

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