Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | January 3, 2012

Iran, Qaradawi, Qatar … and Admin

[Note:  the ancient system I am using failed to keep the hyperlinks in the pasting process for posting this piece.  To see the links, please visit the same post at Hot Air/Green Room.  My apologies for all ugliness in the text.]

First, the admin. I appear to be experiencing the “System Check” malware on my primary (fast) computer, and can therefore not, at the moment, publish the better, in-depth post I was planning to prepare over the last couple of days. A system diagnostic is running to verify that the problems being reported by the “System Check” dialogue box are not actually there. The procedure to remove the malware looks like it will take some time. So, unfleshed-out comments only, for now.


The Iranian regime is posturing for the region. The Iranians do intend to affect thinking in the US as well, but it is a mistake to suppose that we are dealing with a dyad here: Iran and the US locked on each other in a vacuum in which all other assumptions are static or “given.”

If that were the case, the Iranian threats to the Strait of Hormuz (SOH) might be considered foolish or pathetic. US power is fully sufficient to put down an Iranian attempt on the SOH – if it is used decisively. It may not be. The US is not, in fact, rushing aircraft carriers to the SOH; the recent passage of the USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) through the SOH, commemorated with footage from an Iranian surveillance plane (apparently a Fokker F-27), was an exit from the Persian Gulf; and US officials weren’t kidding when they said it was a routine transit, and that Stennis was headed for already scheduled operations.

The US Navy has enough carriers in a ready status to pry the SOH open if Iran tries to close it with force, but those carriers are not in the theater. Stennis is the only one on station. The potential exists for three already-deployed carriers to be in the CENTCOM theater within a couple of weeks: Stennis could still be there (unless she has started a return transit to the US West coast); USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is heading that way, on a deployment that will end with her shifting home ports from Washington to Virginia; and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is in the Southeast Asia region, also scheduled to operate in the CENTCOM area (and, from a continuous-presence scheduling standpoint, the “relief” for Stennis).

President Obama has yet to rush an aircraft carrier to the scene of unrest or threats (Debka is uniformly wrong on this), and it does not appear that he is doing so here. It is important to note that in this case, that restraint amounts to more than a laconic political signal. It is also a strategic decision not to guarantee freedom of action for the US in responding to Iranian provocations, at least not on a rapid timeline. We still have land-based air forces in the Persian Gulf, which would ideally be available for any campaign to open and secure the SOH. But with the drawdown in Iraq, the numbers have dwindled (our principal concentration of air assets is at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar).

More important, however, is the question of whether the local nations would allow us to use their territory as a base for the operations we might deem necessary. I wrote a year ago about the declining willingness of the Gulf nations to host US military operations that could involve attacks on Iran – and forcing open the SOH inevitably would. The Gulf nations would undoubtedly be in favor of ensuring the SOH was open and safe, but it is not clear today that they would be prepared to accept a US plan that involved attacks on Iran. We would need cooperation from Oman and UAE at the very least, because their territory, and air and seaspace, are so close to Iran and so greatly affected by Iran.

The day may not be far off when the pipeline across Oman to bypass the SOH will allow oil, at least, to flow out of the Gulf even if the SOH is under threat. Unless the US shows a determination to restore the status quo ante – a safe, open SOH, guaranteed by US power – the Gulf nations are more and more likely to simply accept the need to revise their security thinking and make new arrangements. Much oil could reach the world market by going across Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea as well. The local nations would adjust if they saw a need to. But the strategic position of the United States would be changed for the worse, and in a way that could not be reversed without much greater military inconvenience.

Iran doesn’t actually want to close the SOH; Iran wants to influence the calculations of the region by threatening to close the SOH. It’s a method of peeling partners off from the United States – little by little, and codicil by codicil in terms of our agreements with the nations of the region.


Why would regional nations think the US might not be prepared to restore the status quo ante? The most important reason by far is the growing perception that Obama does not operate on the basis of traditional US security assumptions (and, for that matter, moral philosophy). A report from the Indian newspaper The Hindu last week indicated that the Obama administration had solicited the offices of Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi to broker an agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Andrew McCarthy has a good summary of Qaradawi’s numerous philosophical enormities; there are all kinds of reasons why the US should not deal with him at all, starting with the fact that he was placed on the terror watch list in 1999.

But the narrow American perception of his association with Islamist extremism is only one aspect of the problem. Equally important is the signal it sends about the US posture in Asia if our administration is seeking the negotiation support of someone like Qaradawi. Russia thinks it’s idiotic, for example, and – given that Afghanistan is in Russia’s back yard – has good reason to find it alarming. The problem of Islamist insurgency that torments Russia’s southern border would only be worsened by an Islamist triumph in Afghanistan, which, to all appearances, would have the imprimatur of the United States.

India and Iran are also worried about the US romance with the Taliban. Irresponsible policy from the US – and throwing in with Qaradawi is toweringly irresponsible – drives the nations of Asia to make common cause with each other. Each for her own reason, none of Iran, India, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, or even Pakistan wants Yusuf al-Qaradawi to be making speeches from Kabul arm-in-arm with the Taliban. From the Asians’ perception, what is setting their security assumptions in flux around them is as much the off-the-wall policies of the US administration as it is anything else. And that means that we are not a reassuring constant in the environment of their security problems – we are an unpredictable variable that may increase them.


One nation that is apparently not worried about the trend of our policies Is Qatar. Qaradawi, born in Egypt, lives and operates out of Qatar (he has a large Islamic center there), and the US has quietly encouraged Qatar’s growing involvement in regional issues, from the air action over Libya in 2011 to the security problems of Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and the issue of the Palestinian Arabs. Al Jazeera, of course, also operates out of Qatar. In contemplating the release of Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo, as part of a negotiated deal with the Taliban, the Obama administration reportedly proposed releasing at least one to Qatar. (The Taliban rejected that idea categorically. They want Taliban leaders released to Afghanistan.)

It is not a random choice for Qatar to host negotiations with the Taliban. The Obama administration has invested diplomatically in Qatar, turning what started under Bush II as a deepened security partnership into a kind of client (US)-agent (Qatar) relationship. Such a relationship can flourish under some conditions, but if The Hindu’s report about our use of Qaradawi is correct, accepting Qatar’s services and advice as an agent has gone dangerously off the rails. There is no aspect of US security that can possibly be strengthened by resorting to a liaison with Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Indeed, the converse is the case: the boost he can get from becoming, effectively, a front for the operation of US power, erodes the conditions of US security.

As it does everyone else’s. The world’s nations are under no illusion that the Obama administration is behaving with circumspection or sound judgment. Having celebrated our exit from a still-iffy Iraq, Team Obama is pooh-poohing the provocations from Iran – as if the American people and the world were looking for an intelligence assessment, as opposed to reassurance about US policy – and is apparently looking in the most unwise, unsavory places for a quick way to get out of Afghanistan.

If that is not what Team Obama is doing, a policy speech could certainly help to clear that up. The administration goes way overboard in “not overreacting” to events abroad. It hardly constitutes overreacting to publicly, officially clarify US interests and US policy, rather than leaving these quantities to be divined from media revelations about unannounced diplomatic activities. The most important element of diplomacy and security maintenance is not one’s plans, conferences, or military movements; the most important element is one’s overt posture, as expressed through public statements, and as validated by the other aspects of diplomacy.

Obama has simply not established an overt posture. The Middle East is starting to look very different, largely because the US has not confirmed our interest in the agreements, borders, and conventions that have underpinned its security since World War II. We have instead put our power in the service of a mishmash of ideological concepts, crony-commercial interests, and the individual visions of favored foreign associates, like Erdogan in Turkey – and now, apparently, Qaradawi and the maneuvering leadership of Qatar. We have, in fact, started behaving like Russia or China, with all the cynicism but none of the predictable consistency.

It will not be very much longer before the situation in the region has gone so much up for grabs that the nations with a security interest there will simply begin making their own arrangements. Those arrangements may spark conflict, intervention by other actors, and an increase in threats to our allies on either end of the Eastern hemisphere’s great land mass. One of the purposes in all this will be to squeeze the US out of the region; another will be to dupe and exploit us wherever possible.

If we are not resolving those threats on terms favorable to the US, their impact on our alliances and our economic security will be felt much sooner than many might think.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,” Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online. Her blog is The Optimistic Conservative.


  1. The Obama Administration is pursuing a relatively new strategy designed to constrict Iranian oil exports short of a full-on embargo, chiefly by pressuring China, Japan, and others to reduce imports of Iranian oil or at least impose tariffs on same. The aim is to bring Iran back to the negotiating table in a position of greater weakness and willing to make a good faith deal on the nuclear issue. Any significant increase in the price of oil would obviously undermine, and perhaps defeat, this strategy by allowing Iran to recoup lost oil revenues through higher prices. Rushing additional carriers to the 5th Fleet AOR could increase the so-called geopolitical risk premium attached to oil prices, with negative consequences for global economic growth, not to mention the president’s reelection prospects. The administration’s strategy is highly problematic and may ultimately fail, but it and election politics explain the relaxed U.S. military response to Iran’s recent strategic posturing. Of course, a cynic might interpret the administration’s strategy in a different light, as an attempt to goad Iran into throwing the first punch . . .

    • Either a cynic or an Optimist. A Conservative Optimist that is.

      Unfortunately, one has rather little ground for Optimism where the one is concerned. And to the extent that there is any shred of coherence to the policy it is the former and genuinely cynical course that is being pursued.

    • This is a succinct, plausible, coherent, and intelligent analysis of the situation. (In sharp contrast to the rambling mish-mash of partisan conjecture that normally passes for analysis in these here parts)

      • I am referring to Pedro of course. P

    • Welcome, Pedro. I don’t dispute any of your comments. But what you describe is not a statement of US interests or a formulation of policy. It is the use of a B.F. Skinner-type strategy — and you use the word correctly — to induce certain behavior from Iran.

      As long as the focus is on Iran’s behavior rather than on US interests, Iran will not be sure how far she can push. So she will keep pushing.

      To see the inutility of merely pursuing strategems in foreign affairs, as opposed to having an actual POLICY based on US interests, review the history of the Kennedy-Johnson years, especially (but not only) in Vietnam.

      The difference between a strategem and a policy may be best reflected in considering one of the seminal policy statements of the last century: the Truman Doctrine. In the absence of the Truman Doctrine, the Soviet Union would have been uncertain as to how Truman defined US interests. The Truman Doctrine consituted pushback, and a warning, and it constrained the Soviets — in their minds, which was the important location — to limit the methods by which they tried to infiltrate Greece, Turkey, and Iran. Tank armies were out. The US would push back, with force, if further kinetic operations were attempted.

      It wasn’t perfect, by any means; the political infiltration approach to which the Soviets resorted gave us enough headaches. But the big-flick lesson is that the announced policy on US interests was a deterrent. Truman backed it up with force deployments, but if he had ONLY deployed force, while being coy about his intentions, the Soviets would have been able to maneuver him into a situation where HE had to make the ugly choice of fight or flight.

      Of course the Soviets were unhappy, and shouted about how evil the US was. The bad guy is never happy about being deterred. But the bottom line is that it’s announced policy, based on national interests, that deters. Stratagems to induce behavior, without making statements about our own interests, do not work to deter the outcomes we want to avert.

      • Well said. Perhaps a slightly modified version of the Carter Doctrine might suffice: “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by [a regional power or] outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

  2. “Obama does not operate on the basis of traditional US security assumptions”

    Obama is not interested in US security, he’s interested in “fundamentally transforming” the US into a world leader in the movement toward trans-nationalism. He’s interested in moving the US from a UN member nation into effective subservience to the UN.

    “Team Obama … and is apparently looking … for a quick way to get out of Afghanistan.”

    Which, if reelected he will do in 2013. The Taliban have already won because Obama never had any interest in winning. Declaring so now would lose him reelection, so he must keep up appearances.

    “Obama has simply not established an overt posture”

    Nor will he.

    “Stratagems to induce behavior, without making statements about our own interests, do not work to deter the outcomes we want to avert.”

    Upon what empirical basis in Obama’s actions, do you find evidence that he wants to avert the outcomes you fear?

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

  3. I sympathize I have had more than a few run ins with this nasty malware, one of them requiring a total reformatting


  5. Pedro — funny, I was thinking of the Carter Doctrine also. I decided against invoking it because Carter isn’t exactly a symbol of firm US will. But the doctrine itself justified the US build-up in the Persian Gulf that ultimately, in the next decade, ensured regional containment of the Iran-Iraq War and kept the SOH open. Up to now, it has continued to be US policy.

    GB — naturally, I don’t imagine that Obama wants to avert the outcomes the average American would see as bad. It’s hard to say if there’s much of an intersection between his set of bad outcomes and that conceived by the average American, but the likelihood gets lower with each passing month. Even if there is a narrow intersection on some issues, the problem remains that Team Obama approaches everything as if the best option is to maneuver against it with signals and gestures. The Obama behavior fits the “passive-aggressive” model pretty well — but it’s grotesque as a mode of foreign policy for the one-time superpower on the world stage.

    The Russians are fully convinced that Obama intends to do something in Asia — and they envision it as military action — that will endanger Russian interests. They’re moving troops around and holding exercises to simulate countering a US-Western invasion. Bush invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq without the Russians suspecting he had designs on Russia’s security, but that’s because he was specific and categorical in stating US interests and intentions. Team Obama’s coy practices — back-room assurances without any front-room policy cover — have the opposite effect.

    • Your lack of blinders in understanding Obama’s true motivations is reassuring J.E., though fear of accusations of hyperbole and ODS
      keeps many from openly stating that the ’emperor has no clothes’.

      Russian paranoia is solely responsible for considering that there is the slightest chance that Obama is going to unilaterally precipitate any serious military action, much less invade any country. Not gonna happen. He hasn’t the cojones, plus every other factor from domestic economics, to geo-political concerns, to reelection argue against it.

      He’s an ideologue not a moron. His ideology motivates his actions with political self-interest the only boundary on his actions.

      • No question the Russians are paranoid. My point, however, is that the straightforwardness of Bush II (and of Bush I, for that matter) was reassuring to them.

        Team Obama’s coyness and “finesse” merely serve to amplify Russian suspicions. What Team Obama calls “smart power” looks like being sneaky and underhanded to foreign observers — yielding the opposite result from the one promised by Obama’s FP team.

        • Regarding Russian fears of U.S. military action, Pavel Felgenhauer discusses Russian self-perceptions of military weakness vis-a-vis the United States in this Jamestown Foundation article from February 2011:

          “Russia’s present anti-American military buildup does have a logic of its own. The present radical military reform began after the short war with Georgia in August 2008, when from the point of view of Russia’s leaders an assured victory was stolen by a Western diplomatic intervention backed up by the deployment of NATO naval forces in the Black Sea and US deliveries of aid by military air transport to Tbilisi. Inside stories reveal a short panic struck the Kremlin, as the military reported they did not have any credible conventional capabilities to counter modern Western air/sea forces . . .”

          Read the whole thing here:

  6. A cogent, multilateral analysis. But I still have a problem understanding why Iran would want to stir the pot right now. They have been able to proceed unimpeded by the West in their quest for a nuclear weapon. They have been able to operate through proxies against us in Iraq and even attempt assassination of a foreign diplomat on our soil.

    Why do something that might prompt either military action or serious sanctions from the West before their nuclear threat is in place?

  7. Cousin Vinnie — I really don’t think Iran’s intention is to issue challenges to the US. Rather, it is to impress the other nations in the region with the importance of accepting Iran’s offers on negotiation (the mullahs have just made another one for new IAEA talks), in order to avoid the disruption Iran can, in fact, cause.

    I have another piece percolating on the significant context for all this, which is that Russia and China are not “with us” in this matter. Iran has options. With or without the bomb, Iran is strategically located, and that has always been the real issue. Pushing Iran with Obama’s methods simply makes Iran more interested in continental liaisons that Russia and China have wanted badly for decades. Russia is in an especially valuable position, having a way to trade with Iran (the Caspian Sea) that the US would find it very, very difficult to interdict.

    At this point, I don’t see a factor on the horizon that could avert the tectonic shift in regional affiliations and global security over which Obama is presiding. There may be one, as yet unsuspected. But we have no hammer to wield over Russia or China if they choose to bolster Iran in defiance of the sanctions. There’s a better than 50-50 chance that India will join them (one or the other, or both, if they invoke the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a vehicle for acting in unison) — and that will reverberate not only in Central Asia but into Europe and the Far East.

    I sincerely hope that Western unity on Iran will continue and will be meaningful. But the potential is there for the Iran problem to provoke a major realignment. If I had to predict, I would say the P5+1 (US, UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany) will try to hold it all together with a series of negotiations and compromises, punctuated with rhetoric and brinkmanship, as long as they can in 2012. The crucial date is the US election in November. If Obama is reelected, the pretense of fealty to the current order will collapse rapidly.

    If the GOP challenger is elected, I suspect some nations will try to shoehorn in a few provocative actions before he takes office. (There was some of that going on between the 2008 election and Obama’s inauguration.) But the likelihood of a major policy change from the US will fend off significant attempts on the status quo — assuming we still have one.

    • “Russia and China are not “with us” in this matter”

      Is there any significant matter in which they are with us? The self-interest of real-politik aside, their behavior is consistently opposed to US interests. And I believe it goes beyond the ‘opposed on principle’ of the French dislike of any other nation’s dominance. Russia and China’s leadership do not support individual and minority rights. They are opposed to traditional Western values.

      “At this point, I don’t see a factor on the horizon that could avert the tectonic shift in regional affiliations and global security over which Obama is presiding. The crucial date is the US election in November. If Obama is reelected, the pretense of fealty to the current order will collapse rapidly.”

      Absolutely true, by the end of his second term (50-50 chance) we will face regional nuclear proliferation, a greatly increased Iranian aggressiveness and there is even possibility of the emergence of the formation of a new, nuclear armed Caliphate.

      “There’s a better than 50-50 chance that India will join them” (Russia & China)

      If so, it will be the triumph of short term interest over long term interest. Ultimately, India’s autonomy is only possible if she aligns with and supports a strong America. Neither Islam, Russia or China have any long term interest in a strong, independent India. None of them want partners, all of them seek a world in which they rule… and all others pay tribute.

  8. There is no complicated mystery really.

    The Iranians have no intention of blocking the straits. They are well aware they haven’t the means to sustain a blockade against the forces that would be mustered against them. Moreover, they know that blocking the straits would strengthen the hand of those who are looking for an excuse to start a(nother) war to promote Israeli interests. What the Iranians are doing is sending a message. The message is that raising tensions effects the price of oil. The reaction of the oil spot-market to Iranian sabre-rattling underlines this message.
    The US (and the West) needs energy-stability at the moment and has no interest in playing the game of tension-raising – Hence the (relatively) low-key response of the Administration. A naval build-up serves no purpose at present other than to ratchet up tensions (and oil prices). Having failed to provoke over-reaction by the Administration the Iranians are now flailing around with silly futile gestures such as passing legislation to ban the US from the Gulf.

    The only circumstances in which the Iranians might try to block the straits is if we (or the Israelis) were stupid enough to attack the Iranian nuclear programme. I would presume that if we were contemplating an attack on Iran we would have to factor in a wider assault to take out Iranian naval and coastal defences. In other words, an attack on Iran would have to be a very extensive (and expensive) proposition going far beyond a surgical strike. The last thing our nation needs at the moment is another ruinous war.

    • ~~~~~~~The Iranians have no intention of blocking the straits.~~~~~~

      PROBABLY not…..their goal is to counter the pressure toward choking the export of Iranian oil…..but if somehow the US succeeds in blocking their export, they just might decide that disrupting all the oil exports from the Gulf might be preferable to just quietly accepting the collapse of their economy.

      the job of the resistance to the global arrogance is to resist….

      the regime MIGHT survive a bloody nose from the USN, but it Can’t survive getting buggered without a fight.

    • It would be ruinous for Iran.
      Nuclear weapons cannot be allowed to fruition in Iran. Muhammad would have his finger on the trigger. The holocaust would probably be between Sunni and Shia. The interfaith bloodbath would have global consequences.
      It is interesting that the Persians (Mostly Zoroastrians) were invaded and defeated by Caliph Omar (642-644). Islam was forced on the Persians. The Persians held Arab Culture in contempt. They resisted culturally for centuries. Today 90% of Iranians are Shia.
      We in the west have much in common with the early Zoroastrians of Eastern Persia (Afganistan was Persia West).
      We differ in one regard. The 7th century Persians were a very loosely aligned local countys and states if you will. They could not band together in time to meet the oncoming threat.
      We meet Islamic fanatics on their turf and take a heavy toll on their expansionist intentions.
      The Islamic folks do understand brutal, resolute power. Add total technological superiority with excellent weapons systems and we have clear, concise communication.
      We could send Paulite to Iran to speak in very resonable tones to the powers that be. Paulite could report back in a stirring interview:” I was treated most humanely by my prison guards. If US prisons were this civilized, the world would be a better place”.
      Oh yes, its the Jews fault.

  9. “The last thing our nation needs at the moment is another ruinous war.”

    Another example of not seeing the forest for the trees because the reality of the situation is so inconvenient. Nothing short of decisive military force is going to dissuade Iran’s gov’t. from pursuit of nuclear capability. The simple truth is that by avoiding decisive military action now, we ensure that another “ruinous war” is unavoidable, delaying the inevitable simply ensures that the cost will be much higher in American and Iranian lives and, in economic cost…

    A perfect geo-political example of “penny wise and pound foolish”.

    Once Iran gets the bomb, their options greatly increase and the cost of military opposition to Iran’s actions becomes much higher. They will most assuredly use that nuclear capability as a ‘bludgeon’ and insurance in furthering their goals.

    At some point, they will close the Strait, but with assurances that once their ‘new conditions’ are met, they shall reopen it. They are well aware of the West’s dependence upon oil and our desire to retain energy-stability. Our actions have convinced them that the West is weak and inclined toward appeasement. They shall use that perceived weakness to ratchet up the economic pressure, so as to achieve regional geo-political goals.

    Once again Churchill is prescient; “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.”

    Paulite t and the Obama administration’s appeasement he supports guarantee that we shall once again experience a much greater conflict than was necessary. Just as the appeasement minded pacifists support for Chamberlain’s gov’t. ensured that Hitler would have the time needed to fully prepare for WWII.

    “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with dictators, and of talks man to man on the basis that each, while maintaining his own ideas of the internal government of his country, is willing to allow that other systems may better suit other peoples.” –Neville Chamberlain, explaining Munich [emphasis mine]

    What Chamberlain then, and Obama and the Paulite t’s of the world today refuse to acknowledge is that neither Hitler then, nor Iran’s Mullah’s today “is willing to allow that other systems may better suit other peoples”…and that is why we shall have war.

    Those who appease and apologize, characterize our recognition of the’ real and present danger’ as unfounded belligerence, while never acknowledging the real intransigence and malevolence of the other side. It is simply intellectual dishonesty designed to conceal from themselves their own moral cowardice. The consequence is that the blood of the unneeded lives lost rests upon their hands. Just as Pontius Pilate, despite his claims otherwise, couldn’t wipe his hands clean, neither can the appeasers…

    “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile [others], hoping it will eat him last.” Winston Churchill

    • If I get your drift, anyone who is against playing along with the Iranian’s little game , or whose reaction to empty threats by third-world tin-pot outfits like Iran is anything other than to advocate all-out war, is an “appeaser”. Moreover, they are Nazi sympathisers, moral cowards, etc etc.

      Look at it this way, Geoff – you will be so embarassed that you wrote these things after you get through your obviously troubled adolescence.

      • Were the Iranian’s NOT pursuing nukes with fanatical obsession, were they NOT, by far, the world’s foremost sponsor of Islamic terrorism, were their President NOT head of a significant apocalyptic faction…their machinations could be fairly characterized as ‘playing a little game’… such as Libya under Khadafi.

        As that is NOT the case, seeking to characterize their pursuit of nukes as a “little game” while denying the obvious and inevitable consequences of their gaining nukes is, not just intellectual dishonesty but moral cowardice because it refuses to consider the fatal consequences to others that will surely result, due to the ‘policy’ advocated.

        I am not advocating “all-out war” and it is dishonest to assert such. I am advocating direct military action that forces the Iranians to abandon their program before they attain nuclear capability because once they do so, all out war or capitulation disguised as appeasement… are the only choices left.

        If you are right and I in the wrong, I will be embarrassed.

        If I am right and you in the wrong, you will be damned.

    • Geoffrey, the sanctions will hurt the Iranian economy a greta deal…and it’s quite possible that outside and direct military force may not be necessary.

      The Iranian regime is frail and its hold on power tenuous….. I would venture to guess that you would not have believed but that the US would only prevail over the Soviet regime through force of arms.

      • That is speculation based in wishful thinking. It’s wishful thinking because the Iranian gov’t. has demonstrably proven they are NOT amenable to reason, are repeatedly lying about why they want nuclear power and are clearly willing to pay any price short of military conflict that results in their ouster, to attain that nuclear capability. Only the purposely obtuse can claim otherwise.

        Earlier sanctions that have gone on for many years haven’t worked and the intransigence of Iran’s mullahs is beyond doubt.

        Russia and China are not on board which severely limits any sanctions effectiveness. Our sanctions won’t kick in for 6 mths. which may be all the time needed but will certainly allow them to get even closer to nuclear capability. Even when the sanctions kick in, the Iranians are sure to find ways around them for the limited time left, to reach their goal.

        It is the opposition that is frail and tenuous, with no significant support from the international community beyond mere words.

        When faced with religious fanatics whose rule and world-view is in violent opposition to secular democracy; “political power comes out of the barrel of a gun” Mao

        The opposition, effectively has no guns and the mullahs are NEVER going to peacefully transfer power.

        There’s only ONE party in Iran, the hardliners and, the ‘moderates’ who also believe in Sharia law, which is the equivalent of asking, would you like to die by poison or a firing squad?

        No, I did not hold that view regarding the Soviets; I was an advocate of Kennedy’s position rather than Goldwater’s. (though his was greatly distorted by the MSM which I did not learn until decades later)

        The Soviets were amenable to deterrence, the Mullah’s are religious fanatics whose Qur’an commands them to rule over the world. Iran’s ‘moderate’ Mullahs only disagree with how to accomplish that goal…

        So the Soviets are not the appropriate analogy; rather the Nazi’s world conquering view, coupled with Japan’s Bushido code of Kamikaze suicide attacks, supported by religious fanaticism… is the ‘inconvenient’ truth we face. No wonder wishful thinking is so popular. It’s fight or flight with no other option. But flight will inevitably result in eventual dhimmitude, if not for us, then our children’s children.

        “Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without [much] bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. [Yet] There may even be a [still] worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish, than live as slaves.” – Winston Churchill, “The Gathering Storm.”

        • George, using sanctions to wreck the Iranian economy and further destabilize the regime’s hold on NOT relying on reason.

          What’s less reasonable is insisting that the members of the Iranian theocracy are united and willing to “pay any price” short of war.

          You also are speculating and you can’t dredge up any support for the claim.

          The theocrats’ interest is in exporting their revolution and spreading their influence and it’s not clear that they’re united or that they’ve no price point short of war.

          • Who’s ‘George’? 😉

            Assuming you meant “using sanctions to wreck the Iranian economy and further destabilize the regime’s hold on NOT relying on reason [wishful thinking].”

            Yes, it is wishful thinking because years of increasing sanctions haven’t worked, the ones proposed are neither timely nor severe enough, as they are not supported by Russia and China, which is critical for sanctions to be effective.

            In addition, its highly probable that the time needed for even effective sanctions to work no longer remains. Two years ago? Maybe but every day they get closer and even effective sanctions take a significant amount of time, which arguably we no longer have and once they have the bomb, it’s too late because then, the whole power dynamic shifts.

            You’re advocating; do more of the same thing with the hope that it will finally be enough. Which brings to mind Einstein’s dictum; “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

            In a brutal, fanatic, religious theocracy unity isn’t needed, the hardliners control Iran and they are willing to use whatever amount of brutal force is necessary for their will to prevail. Fear alone is sufficient for the hardliners to rule the Iranian theocracy.

            Their fanaticism is what makes them willing to ‘pay any price’ short of war which would equate to failure. That is why it is not speculation but rational assessment. The history of fanatic’s behavior is all the support needed to reach that conclusion. Ask any good psychologist about extreme religious fanaticism for further confirmation or just look up ‘Jonestown’…

            “The theocrats’ interest is in exporting their revolution and spreading their influence and it’s not clear that they’re united or that they’ve no price point short of war.”

            Yes, put more directly, their ‘interest’ is in regaining the Caliphate and then exporting that to world conquest by whatever means necessary. In Europe its through demography*, with us it will obviously take ‘sterner’ measures, we are after all the “Great Satan”. Because you deny that religious fanatics have no “price” other than their dogma triumphant, by the time it’s undeniable (even for you) that they have no price point short of war, it will be far, far too late.

            *”One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.” Algerian leader Houari Boumedienne speaking at the UN, 1974

            • Geoffrey, my apologies for the misnomination.

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