Friday, March 16, 2007

Stop the IRAN War now...

To the dismay of many observers, current U.S. strategy towards Iran is shaping up to be a near-repeat of the path that led to the current situation in Iraq. Yet, as Poland's former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Professor Grzegorz W. Kolodko argues, a U.S. attack on Iran would serve only to stymie the potential for a democratic, free-market revolution in the country.

Contemplating (in The Globalist) the possibilities of a “velvet revolution” in Iran -- as someone who lived through similar events -- Kolodko found many of the ingredients already in place.

”In my visits, I have found people to be open-minded, multicultural, pragmatic and looking both towards East and West. They are definitely not hostile to the West in general — or to the United States in particular.”

In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll conducted in 27 mostly Muslim countries, only in Iran have sentiments toward the United States improved. The percentage of people with “unfavorable views” of the United States fell between 2001/2 and 2005/6 from 63% to 52% — while, for instance, it rose from 33% to 62% in Turkey.

At the same time, we all know that Iran is neither an epitome of democracy — nor is it a part of any axis of evil. We would do well to remember that it does have a fine and functioning system of checks and balances, including the right to undertake votes of no-confidence in parliament against the sitting president — something that even the United States cannot claim for itself.


(I don’t know if I would call it “fine and functioning. But Iran does have far more institutions and habits of lawful and accountable civil society than any of our so-called “allies” in the region, by a far cry. Institutions and habits that could function ten times as well the moment the corrupt and oppressive top-theocratic hierarchy were removed. Indeed, I wonder if Iran may be a model of where WE seem to be headed... a future America that still maintains many institutions and processes of an accountable democracy, under the heel of a narrow and corrupt ruling caste. This notion -- that a tyrannical situation need not be uniformly on-off -- is one that we should ponder, whether it is our fate (and Iran’s) to spiral downward into sham-democracy or else shrug off corrupt castes and bring civil society to full vibrancy and life.)

Continuing with the article:

This nation of almost 70 million well-educated people is also a country of robust changes. Few people in the West realize one of the mullahs’ biggest challenges: Two-thirds of the population is too young to remember the triumphant comeback of Ayatollah Khomeini 28 years ago.


Kolodko’s key point is that saber-rattling and “axis-of-evil” rants have only served to delay an inevitable transformation in this country, which is the ONLY one in the middle east where the neocons’ dream (establishing an oasis of democracy in the Middle East) would seem to have a chance of actually coming true. I said all of this at a presentation before the CIA way back in 2002. Alas, at that point, a Nixon-to-China peace offensive to Iran would have been low-risk and potentially a strategic jiu jitsu move of potentially staggering effectiveness.

What do we see instead?

The second worst cliche of strategic thinking is to assume that those who dislike you are automatically evil and stupid. The fact that this has been true for most of American history does not guarantee that it will continue to be so, especially in an era when stupid leadership has dissolved our alliances and eviscerated our popularity, even among friendly nations. In the case of Iran, this cliche tends to make us assume that “Iran” is a monolithic badguy, instead of a land of opportunity for us, diplomatically, socially and commercially, if only the people could be helped to deal with their local bad guys.

The worst cliche of strategic thinking is always this one: “If we smack our opponent hard, across the cheek, he will respond by backing down.”

Um, does anyone recall that this was the exact thinking of the Japanese High Command, when they ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines? Indeed, it is the logic that nearly always draws nations into miscalculated wars... falling for the smug and alluring psychological trap of assuming that your enemy is a bunch of cowards. Above all, never imagine that they might respond to a slap the way you would. By standing taller, with a sense of outrage and patriotic fervor.

The assumption that your (dehumanized) foe will react to force in the exact opposite way that you would is not only stupid, it is cosmically self-indulgent and unsupported by history. We always need to ask - “How would Americans react, if such a strike was aimed at Duluth.” Indeed, how DID we react to the slap of 9/11?

This is a fundamental fact, one that the right wing needs to have crammed down their big, loud craws.

A few dozen pin-prick missile attacks on Iran will not force them to change a single policy. It will cause them to mobilize, as a nation under attack. Exactly the effect it would have upon us. It will turn millions of youths from angry, anti-mullah protestors and liberal reformers into angry recruits for the Revolutionary Guard.

A nation three times the size of Iraq, ethnically united, sophisticated and educated and oil-rich, will thereupon be politically united. United in a central goal of helping to re-forge the Islamic Uma.

Dropping all thought of Sunni-Shiite division, they will fall into line with the real leaders of the Uma movement. And we will have accomplished the chief goal of this administration. Uniting the entire Islamic world as never before.

See also: A Rush to War?

65 comments:

Mark said...

Wes Clark has the site www.stopiranwar.com. Please drop by and sign the petition.

Stefan Jones said...

Thanks, Mark!

* * *

Blogger Terry Welch is an actual soldier who has actually been to Afghanistan, as opposed to the many armchair generals champing at the bit for another disasterous fiasco.

A recent post gives some insight into Fox News's biases:

Foxholes Dance

On more than one occasion, I worked with Fox News producers and reporters. Once, in Herat, I saw one of the Foxholes approached by a couple of soldiers. One of the soldiers said he was glad they could finally talk to a "conservative" reporter. The reporter laughed and said, "Someone's got to balance out the liberals." But, later, I ran into that same reporter in Bagram. He wanted an interview with some soldiers and, when I grabbed one at random to ask if he wanted to talk to Fox News, the soldier--an Army captain--said he didn't, because, as a Democrat, he wasn't a fan of the network's politics. The reporter, shaken up, said that was ridiculous. The network had no politics, but only told the truth. "Whatever," said the captain and walked off. The reporter, after a few beats narrowed his eyes at the soldier's back and quietly hissed, motherfucker.

There's more.

Hawker Hurricane said...

I strongly recommend reading James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi's book "Shooting Blanks: War Making that Doesn't Work" again. 'Pearl Harbor Syndrome' (Hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast, hit 'em first and it will be over before the leaves fall) rarely works. I've seen all the chapter titles of this book during the Iraq War Phase II: Intelligence Confusion, Media Muddle, Amateurism, Procurement Puzzle, Wrong-War Syndrome...
If you haven't read it, head to the local library (support your library! screams the librarian) and check it out.

Anonymous said...

An attack on Iran is not going to happen. There is just no conceivable way to pull it off. (Setting aside the question of whether there is any justification for an attack, which as of 2007 is no.)
We do not have the manpower to occupy the place, and bombing would only subject our troops in neighboring countries to increased attacks. It is a no win situation for us. At least in Iraq there was a plausible hope that the place would rise up in joyful gratitude, although it did not turn out that way.
Now, if Iran has a nuclear weapon and means to deliver it in 10 years Isreal has some tough questions to answer.
Bluster as a tool of foreign policy has its place. I am not reading too much more into it.
Tacitus2

Max Wilson said...

Agreed. Sign Wes Clark's petition. Speaking as a conservative, going to war with Iran is about the worst possible mistake we could make as a country in the next year. Worse than *anything* we could do to Iraq at this point, or anywhere else. (With the exception of starting a war with Russia, who could actually wipe us out militarily.)

-Max

Doug S, said...

Well, getting into a shooting war with China would also be worse than attacking Iran, and there's actually a plausible scenario that could make it happen, unlike war with Russia. Taiwan formally declares its independence, China tries to invade, and the U.S. come to the aid of Taiwan. It's something that nobody wants to see, but it's plausible enough to make for a reasonable piece of fiction.

Kevin Rooney said...

When the Iranians manage to get rid of the dead weight of the mullahs, they will be the first post-Islamicist country. In a way that no non-Muslim country ever could, they will provide the anti-bodies conferring immunity to Islamicism. And those anti-bodies will be more powerful, the more we relate to this new Iran like we do to post-Mao China (a nation whose citizens once swore hatred of us and who have now entered the prosperous world that we wisely hold open.)

Don Quijote said...

Dr Brin,

The second worst cliche of strategic thinking is to assume that those who dislike you are automatically evil and stupid.
The fact that this has been true for most of American history does not guarantee that it will continue to be so,


ROTFLMAO...

Like the British (1810), the Mexicans(1846), the Spanish (1890's), the Filipinos (1900's), etc... were all mean and evil people when we went to war against them.

Tac2,

An attack on Iran is not going to happen.

Your faith in the good judgment of this administration is far greater than mine.

There is just no conceivable way to pull it off.
When has that ever stopped them?

(Setting aside the question of whether there is any justification for an attack, which as of 2007 is no.)
Who needs one, they are mean and evil, and on top of that they have OIL.

We do not have the manpower to occupy the place, and bombing would only subject our troops in neighboring countries to increased attacks.

We have plenty of manpower, our Navy has barely been put to use, and Blackwater needs the money.

It is a no win situation for us.
But it is for the Military Industrial Complex, KBR needs the money.

At least in Iraq there was a plausible hope that the place would rise up in joyful gratitude, although it did not turn out that way.

Yeah, cause after all we only attempted to starve them for ten years while intermittently bombing them.

Now, if Iran has a nuclear weapon and means to deliver it in 10 years Isreal has some tough questions to answer.

Israel already plenty of tough questions to answer, like what happens when Jews become a Demographic minority in Greater Israel which should happen in the very near future. Demography is a Bitch...

Max Wilson said...

Doug,

I'd really like to say that I don't think that's a plausible scenario in the short-term, but I can actually imagine things escalating that way, especially because Bush doesn't understand the way the Chinese view themselves and would expect them to back down if slapped... which is exactly what the White House is talking about doing to Iran. So yeah, that would be worse.

I amend my statement. Starting a war with Iran would be the worse thing we could PROACTIVELY do in the next year.

-Max Wilson

Max Wilson said...

I actually agree with Don Quixote for once--I'm not willing to trust the Bush administration's judgment on Iran. If citizens keep quiet it may get interpreted by Bush as a mandate to take action. Probably not, but probability is nonzero and the consequences would be bad. Sign that petition.

-M.D.W.

False Data said...

Unrelated to this thread, but I thought you and your readers might want to know that NPR's Talk of the Nation is considering a story on the U.S. Attorney scandal for Monday and is soliciting questions.

Wes Tower said...

Quoting Machiavelli's 'The Discourses' says my thoughts best here on how we deal with Iran: 'Pontus, the general of the Samnites,...entraped the Roman Army in the Caudine Forks. This victory, which Pontius gained by fraud (deception), would have redounded greatly to his credit had he followed his father's advice, which as that he should either let the Romans go scot-free or should slaughter them all, and that he should not take the middle course which 'neither makes you friends, nor removes your enemies'; and this middle course has always been harmful in affairs of state'

Never conduct war by half measures, make them your friends and remove the cause of tensions and strife, or reduce them so they can never raise arms against you again. Hundreds of Great Captains have practiced it, hundreds of historians and military theorist have said it, half measures do no good.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Given the lawlessness and violent irrationality of this maldaministration, it's certainly not prudent to believe them sane when it comes to creating a disastrous new war in the middle east. Only a madman would start a second front, but does anyone think the drunk-driving C student rational? With 60% of the constitution in shreds already, even martial law isn't beyond Cheney's sock puppet if that's it takes to go to war against Iran.
www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_7986.shtml

The careful timing of the loathesome Riefenstahl-esque propaganda film "300," which depicts Iranians (Persians) as 8-foot-tall deformed body-pierced sadmomasochistic homosexual monsters, and the Spartans as heroic defenders of Western freedom beset by a hunchbacked traitor (Ephialtes/John Kerry) and backstabbed by a cowardly claque of bribe-taking ephors (Democratic Congress) seems ominous indeed:
http://iranpoliticsclub.net/history/300/

I never thought I'd see "Triumph of the Will"-style warmongering propaganda films in America, made by Americans, for Americans. I was wrong.

The presence of two carrier groups in the Persian Gulf with a third on the way suggests that the dementia of this maladministration is not confined to hostile words against Iran:
www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_02_12/article3.html
Hardly anyone in the mainstream press seems to have noticed that the Iranians have quietly upgraded their 3 subs with state-of-the-art cruise missiles:
www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200581224649.asp

Obsolete and slow the 3 Iranian Kilo-class subs may be, but they still pack enough punch with modern cruise missiles to take out every one of our aircraft carriers, and most of our support ships. Here's the single best article I've seen on the subject of how the American navy is futilely preparing for WW II all over again, and why the modern aircraft-carrier-based Navy is a sitting duck:
http://www.exile.ru/2002-December-11/war_nerd.html

"What the battleship was in 1941, the aircraft carrier is today." I give all 3 American carrier groups in the Persian gulf a lifetime of one hour _at best_ after start of hostilities. Then they'll all be at the bottom of the Persian gulf courtesy of Russian-made cruise missiles launched (by stealth) from Iranian subs. Our carriers will never see the subs that sank 'em.

As for American frigates and destroyers, they're all aluminium and pot metal above the gunwales and they'll burn like cotton candy when Iranian torpedos and cruise missiles take them out. One shot, one kill. We saw what the Argentinian Exocet did to British destroyers, and that was antique tech from 25 years ago. The new stuff is a thousand times more accurate and more lethal.

What will happen when the American Navy goes straight to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in the greatest naval disaster since the burning of the Spanish Armada in 1588?

Americans will go berserk. The drunk-driving C student will be dragged out of the Oval Office, shrieking and clawing, by means of stun guns and grapnel hooks. After that, it gets too ugly to contemplate.

I wonder if anyone else is thinking through these likelihoods? (Aside from William S. Lind, Martin van Creveld and Gary Brecher, that is.)
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/crevald1.html
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_2_26_07.htm

In an age of automated weaponry with terrain-mapped synthetic aperture radar, ECM-equipped anti-missile-missiles, and non-cavitating torpedos, an aircraft carrier battle group isn't a strike force -- it's a casualty waiting to be sunk.

Don Quijote said...

What will happen when the American Navy goes straight to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in the greatest naval disaster since the burning of the Spanish Armada in 1588?

Either the American Empire aka Pax Americana will be over and the world will go on it's merry way or the US Military Industrial Complex will start lobbying for new weapons platform to replace the Aircraft Carriers:

Semper Fly: Marines in Space

High-speed global bomber in the works


LOS ANGELES - It is the latest in the U.S. military's quest for faster,
more lethal, remotely operated weaponry - an aircraft that could bomb
targets anywhere on Earth within a scant two hours of taking off from the
United States.

The robotic bomber would streak eight times the speed of sound and have a
20,000-mile range, putting the entire globe within its deadly reach.

The Department of Defense and the Air Force are jointly sponsoring the
program, known as Force Application and Launch from the Continental United
States - or FALCON.


If I was a betting man, I would put my money on our attempt to replace our aircraft carriers with some military platform based in the continental US with the ability to strike any given point in the world.

David Brin said...

Zorgon, reconfigure your scenario. Martial law won’t happen. Bushco have been vigorously destroying the INSTITUTIONS by which martial law might be imposed, e.g. the National Guard. (Though Blackwater is a good long range alternative.) Given the administration’s relations with the officer corps and intelligence community, they would have very little chance of getting away with it today.

Maybe in ten years! If they continue to purge the upper ranks, promote fanatics and impose zealots on the service academies and promote mercenary armies. But not now. Pay attention to what is actually happening. There is not a scintilla of evidence for Don Q’s continuing lefty delusion that this is about Iraqi oil. It is about destroying American power, at all levels and in all forms. The very thing DonQ yearns for is THE thing that Bush is achieving. The only argument is whether it’s deliberate or not.

And now FOUR carrier battle groups will soon be in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf... Even I cannot go down that path. My mind will not let me.

I have not seen 300, though I am of course appalled by its betrayal of history, from battle tactics -- making everything “crouching tiger” acrobatics instead of the disciplined phallanx -- to ignoring the contributions of other Greek cities -- to ignoring the stunning awfulness of Spartan society. Nevertheless, I consider screeches that associate modern Iran with ancient Persia to be stunningly silly. Even if they are true... in other words if the movie’s backers did have this intent... that only makes them just as silly as the critics who scream about it.

There was one thing notable about those events, 2500 years ago. Athens. A renaissance... a naissance... so powerful and reverberating that it had to live. Yes, the Athenians later betrayed it themselves... and Plato etc tried to bury the real glory of the periclean experiment. But Franklin etc revived it. And there would not have been anything to revive, if not for Marathon and Salamis and Thermopylae.

Exaggeration and historical stupidity aside, I will not go to the extreme of saying there was not an important and (indeed) glorious moment that took place in that narrow pass. A moment when the Spartans paid some dues and merited a little admiration for saving the West.

Francesco said...

I'm not american so I need to hear from you the more likely answer to this "what if".
What would be the more likely public reaction if the iranians sanked one or more carriers, even if it was after an american attack to Iran? And what would be the response if instead it was not that clear who attacked first, and it was publicly claimed that the Iran attack was unprovoked?

Max Wilson said...

Zorgon,

"300" was in production long before the Democratic takeover of Congress, and anyone who realizes the differences that the Iranians are Persian, not Arab, is probably smart enough not to be unduly influenced by a movie. It's not a propaganda film.

-M.D.W.

Max Wilson said...

Francesco,

The likely reaction? While there would be some screaming, cool heads would prevail in the short-term. Our military is very professional, and they're psychologically better-prepared for casualties than the American public. In the medium-term, I think you'd see some public debate about whether dealing with Iran is worth the military cost, and (more likely) a lot of recriminations towards the commanders responsible for letting the carrier be in a vulnerable position. I don't think it would trigger an all-out attack on Iran, if that's what you're asking, any more than we attacked Israel after they sank the U.S.S. Liberty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident

-M.D.W.

Max Wilson said...

On the other hand, it's not inconceivable you could see an immediate demand for Iran to unconditionally surrender or face annihilation. I'd bet 4:1 on the other outcome, though.

-M.D.W.

David Brin said...

A "Persian Gulf of Tonkin"????

Only this time with it arranged for several major ships to go down as a casus belli vs the Iranians?

As a thriller plot, it certainly fits everything we have seen to-date. If I were commander of the task force in the Persian Gulf, I would be very worried indeed... and not just about being surrounded by hostile nations and terrorist cells, but also about ... well...

There is only one problem with this scenario. It requires a set of conspirators who are fantastically capable and well-equipped and either amoral/immoral or else true "manchurians" to a staggering degree. I am not saying that Blackwater etc do not have a supply of such people. But I figured it likely that one or another in such a cabal would balk at sinking American ships and hurting American sailors, no matter how far-out their loony rationalizations.

But you are right. That is the scenario. Even if half of America suspects, that only plays into Rove's "culture war" and that half will not dare speak out while Red America pounds the accelerator to the floorboards. Heedless of how it is destroying American influence and power, once and for all.

Shudder.

Don Quijote said...

There is not a scintilla of evidence for Don Q’s continuing lefty delusion that this is about Iraqi oil.

Dr. Brin,

If it's not about OIL, it must be about some other valuable asset that Iraq possesses, maybe it' vast and superior technology, it's first rate farming lands, it's first rate fishing grounds, it's first rate sand...

Come to think of it, the sand is the only thing it has other than OIL in large quantities.

We know it's not about DEMOCRACY, since we are dealing with a government and an administration that couldn't care less about DEMOCRACY. (See how well we supported the people who attempted to overthrow Chavez in Venezuela, or how we treated the Palestinians after they elected a government we didn't like, or how we Treat Musharraf in Pakistan)

And don't make me hurt myself laughing by telling me it's about Human Rights...

It is about destroying American power, at all levels and in all forms. The very thing DonQ yearns for is THE thing that Bush is achieving. The only argument is whether it’s deliberate or not.

What I yearn for and what Bush is doing are two different things, I yearn for a government that does not back anti-democratic coups, that does not get involved in matters that does not concern it, that does not start civil wars for short term profits, that does not sell weapons to dictators who violate human rights, that does not assassinate it's political opponents, that does not torture people on a daily basis, that does not kidnap foreign citizens in foreign countries so they can be tortured in a third country, does not demonize countries with which it has diplomatic disagreements or start wars at the drop of a hat.

I know it's asking for a lot but what can I say I am a greedy bastard.

TheRadicalModerate said...

I'm going to go back to what I said a couple of threads back. There are three strategic objectives to US mideast policy:

1) Ensure a large flow of oil from the Persian Gulf at a tolerable price.

2) Render Jihadism impotent as quickly as possible.

3) Ensure the continued existence of Israel.

Everything flows from these objectives. Do these militate towards attacking Iran? Certainly an attack on Iran hurts objective #2, and even Bushco knows that. But there are two fairly specific scenarios.

First scenario: Iran gains hegemony over the majority of the territories bordering the Gulf. This implies that they reduce southern Iraq to a puppet state and begin to roll back the Saudis from their oil fields (which have a fairly high percentage Shiite population). A whole bunch of things have to go right for Iran for this to happen and it's trivial for the US to prevent it--as long as their are troops garrisoned in Iraq.

Note that Iran's nukes are almost worthless for this scenario. Iran knows perfectly well that the US will escalate to any level necessary to protect the oil supply, including nukes.

The same, unfortunately, can't be said about objective #3, protecting Israel. Unlike the US, which could absorb several nuke attacks and recover in fairly short order, Israel could lose 30% to 50% of their population with one or two successful strikes. Furthermore, Iran isn't completely rational on the subject of Israel and might think they could get away with an attack without the US retaliating. So a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel.

That leaves the US with three possibilities:

1) Negotiate the nukes away. The price for this is obviously very high and Iran may simply take such a negotiation off the table. (Bushco must have thought it was off the table when they ignored the 2003 overture.)

2) Raid the nuke program to destroy it or delay it. This obviously keeps the mullahs in power in perpetuity and causes all kinds of trouble. Yeah, there's a lot of saber-rattling going on by the US right now, but this is almost certainly pressure to go for a last-ditch diplomatic deal. A raid has got to be everybody's least favorite choice.

3) Let Israel make the strike. A minor variation: Fail to prevent Israel from making the strike. This is almost as bad as #2. Unfortunately, this one's gonna happen. Israel has very little to lose by attempting to knock out the Iranian nuke program. They'd be crazy simply to hope that Iran didn't decide to annihilate them. They have to do something.

This is obviously very, very bad for the US. I don't think that there's more than the whisper of a chance that Iran won't assume that an Israeli attack is the same as a US attack and it may be simply impossible to deter Israel. I wonder if that pushes US policy more towards option #2, in the hopes of getting the raid done right.

Any strike obviously leads to Iran attempting to close the Straits of Hormuz. That puts US troops on the ground in southern Iran. From there, who knows what happens?

Of course, if things spin only slightly out of control, the US can prevent Iran from pulling a single barrel of oil out of the ground for as long as it likes--just bomb the pipelines. This could potentially cause Iran to fold--they're not in the best industrial shape. And, getting back to Brin's favorite conspiracy theory, wouldn't the Saudis be happy about that?

David Brin said...

Sorry RM, but not one of your three priorities has been advanced by this administration. Look them over again. Not one of them. Even remotely.

Six wasted years without a scintilla of priority given to the Arab Israeli crisis, with moderate middle easterners undercut at every opportunity and OPEC's interests relentlessly served, not only abroad but at home by the demolition of science and energy programs.... the list goes on and on.

There is not a single way in which a single one of those priorities has not been betrayed... AS IF deliberately.

zorgon the malevolent said...

"300" was in production long before the Democratic takeover of Congress, and anyone who realizes the differences that the Iranians are Persian, not Arab, is probably smart enough not to be unduly influenced by a movie. It's not a propaganda film.

Read it and weep:
http://cupojoe.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html#9050036060313489669http://cupojoe.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html#9050036060313489669

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

I'm not claiming that the three priorities have been advanced. The Iraq war was a huge strategic mistake.

I do think you can expect US policy wrt Iran to be in line with those priorities going forward. Bushco is not irrational and they apparently learn from their mistakes, albeit slowly. Unfortunately, this probably means what happens is still more dependent on what Israel does than anything else. The US has little to fear existentially from a nuclear Iran. Israel has everything to fear.

US policy is likely to focus on ensuring that Iran understands the consequences of proceeding with their nuke program. Remember, the "quick strike" falacy applies to Iran as well.

Max Wilson said...

Zorgon,

Weep? Because one idiot kid thinks war is cool? Think of it as evolution in action. I'm not sure what point you were trying to make because you weren't explicit, and I haven't seen "300" and have no intention of doing so (it *does* sound like a trashy action film rather than a quality war movie), but perhaps you're trying to say that "300" glorifies war. You're probably right. But the ephors in that film can't represent a "cowardly" Democratic Congress because Congress wasn't Democratic until the film was in post-production. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

-M.D.W.

David Brin said...

Elon Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. have been the subject of interest. I have been to Elon's home and I can tell you this is one of the more exceptional Americanss in recent years. I thought you might appreciate knowing that Elon's next attempt to achieve a successful launch of Falcon I will be today, at 4pm Pacific time (11pm GMT).

You will be able to be part of the countdown for the event begining at T-60, at the following url:
www.spacex.com/webcast.php

RM... sorry, but I am tired of watching bozos who have been AT BEST deeply stupid and wrong for decades (e.g. supporting Saddam and Osama as best pals, before blinking at them in surprise when they bit), and hearing excuses every year. "Well, this time they'll get it right."

Dig it. AT BEST these are wretched morons who should not be trusted with a burnt match, let alone leadership of civilization.

Even worse, it is time to look at the litany of fumbles and wrong way "accidental" runs into our own end zone, and consider what ANY sports fan might have contemplated by now.

That someone is deliberately throwing the game.

Tell it to the US Navy. Till now intact and relatively untouched by the political purges. About to steam 1/3 of its strength into what can only be called a death trap.

Tony Fisk said...

FYI,
Jamais Cascio comments on a round table discussion considering 'the end of US involvement in Iraq'

Even the best case scenario these guys can come up with is grim reading:

Best Case: "Civil War in Iraq and a Stronger Al Qaeda."

Most-Likely Case: "Years of Ethnic Cleansing and War with Iran."

Worst Case: "World War III."

Jamais concludes:
"... we'll enter this period without any broadly-recognized, broadly-respected international leadership.

Does that make things all the worse?

Or does that give us an unexpected opportunity to adopt unconventional strategies?"


Part II should be interesting reading.

David Brin said...

Which prompts the question.

"How can the right maintain with a stright face their pretense that the goal of this struggle, all along, was to *spread oases of democracy*?"

Committing all our strength and world credibility to "nation building" in a land where there was no national or cultural history of democracy... when some other nations nearby DID have such a heritage and might have let us perform that very experiment at a tiny fraction of the risk and cost... makes clear the utter nonsense of the neocon case.

The excuse that this was meant to *spread oases of democracy* is no more plausible than WMDs or Saddam's link to Al Qaeda. What's more, the excuse is SO implausible that we cannot assume that it failed simply because of incompetence. We must assume that the Oasis-building Program was never the real aim, at any time.

(BTW... neither was "getting oil." These Texans would have got the oil, if that was their aim. Look at gas prices. STOPPING Iraqi production was the goal, not siezing it.)

As for how to end this quagmire... assuming we had meaders focused on the national interest... there is one plan with some slight chance of achieving positive outcomes. I have mentioned it before.

We should:

1) admit that we cannot prevent ethnic cleansing, and instead do our best to ensure that it takes place with as little tragedy as possible, brokering home exchanges, family aid and other ways to soften the process as Sunnis flee west and Shias head east/south.

2) Withdraw our troops from Iraqi cities. Let the Shias manage theirs, while setting up rural bases that protect the Sunnis and Kurds.

3) This de facto division of Iraq into three regions needn't be official or total, but the possibility should shake regional powers into getting more involved in problem-solving. It should be followed with an offer to pull out of Sunnistan, forcing the Sunnis to decide whether they really hate us more than they fear the Shias.

(Watch how fast they eject Al Qaeda and stop shooting at us, begging us to stay and safeguard their region.)

4) Admit that we have effectively handed Iran a satrapy in Iraqi Shiastan. Fine, there's no take-backs or do-overs. We were dumb. Only, now let them try to control it! Once the Americans pull back and Iranians step in, watch how fast that the Iraqi Shias also remember that they are Arabs.

5) Pull our Navy out of a vulnerable death trap and stop saber-rattling Iran. Instead, offer a Nixon-to-China. Use jiu jitsu instead of sumo, to support democratic elements in that country, restoring an ancient friendship between two great peoples, instead of torpedoing it every chance we get.

tacitus2 said...

David
I think you can still recognize that creating democracy in the middle east was a goal, so long as you admit that it has been a dismal failure. I won't revisit the WMD issue, save to say that their existence was not implausible (although Saddam's ability to deliver them probably was, beyond the agents with a vial of smallpox level).
Having said that, I find your suggestions for a possible outcome for Iraq to be fair in a non partisan way. Heck, Iran DOES have an interest in what happens there. Lets just admit that.
Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Problem is:

1- Buscho patronized and sneered at everyone who wanted more evidence and a more steady professional approach to verifying WMD. Their contempt toward such people raged with attacks on their patriotism. We were assured not only that they felt it likely that Saddam had such things, but that the danger was proved, imminent and so nation-threatening that we had to bully the world, our allies and all skeptics into an emergency war...

...as opposed to a war that was "elective surgery."

Now mind you, I AM NOT TOTALLY OPPOSED TO EITHER KIND OF WAR!

But they are totally different from each other. WMD justified a war of urgency... an "emergency room" war... based upon clear and present danger that was staggeringly false and clearly an outright lie.

Putting aside the hypocrisy (earlier neocons ranted against far smaller "futile exercises in the utopian notion of so-called nation-building), let us suppose there was a chance that imposing democracy in the Middle East made sense. (A hoot, but let's posit.)

As "elective surgery" it cannot be used as justification for mobilizing the reserves or the National Guard! Or stripping our readiness almost down to zero. Or bankrupting our finances and repeating the social division of Vietnam, or poisoning our alliances. No elective surgery is worth that.

But the key point is that "urgent" and "elective" wars are different things. These guys leap from one excuse to the other, proving that both were lies, all along.

sociotard said...

Elon Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. . . . next attempt to achieve a successful launch of Falcon I will be today, at 4pm Pacific time (11pm GMT).

They had to abort with one minute left to go. I'm not sure what went wrong. All the people on audio were saying was they had to evaluate something.

Too bad. I was getting all excited.

TwinBeam said...

Regarding Iranian subs sinking the US fleet in the gulf:

The reaction to the sinking of the fleet, or any appreciable fraction of it, would not be reasoned and moderate. It'd be Pearl Harbor all over again.

But I expect the US Navy continuously tracks the Iranian subs and has a plan in place to quickly destroy them - pre-emptively or in response to an attack.

Only conspiracy or incompetence so massive as to be worse than conspiracy could lead to any significant damage to the fleet by the Iranian subs, let alone sinking a majority of it.

On the other hand, maybe the Navy will be engaged in "submarine launched cruise missile attack simulations" just before they get attacked...

Don Quijote said...

(BTW... neither was "getting oil." These Texans would have got the oil, if that was their aim. Look at gas prices. STOPPING Iraqi production was the goal, not siezing it.)

ROTFLMAO...

There are none so blind as those, that will not see.

And we didn't overthrow the Mosaddeq government because of Oil, and Saddam didn't invade Kuwait because of Oil and we aren't backing the Saudis because of Oil.


He who controls the spice, controls the universe! Frank Herbert - Dune

David Brin said...

With the slight reality check that in all of the historical cases that DQ mentions, we DID wind up getting some oil...

...whereas, in this case, we simply and decisively and demonstrably DID NOT GET OIL!

Now I suppose I should thank Don for once again proving my point that leftists can be as myopically obstinate in holding to their simplistic explanations, long after they stop working. But on this occasion, I have something else to say.

Watch it. Your rudeness is starting to border on ejection levels.

Specifically, if you come on here again and insult somebody - me or anybody else - with that nasty and unmerited ROTFLMwhatever, again, your remark will simply be deleted.

Robert said...

Twinbeam,

No doubt there is some plan in place to attempt to deal with Iranian subs. The truth is, though, that in modern warfare carriers are incredibly vulnerable assets. The Falklands war demonstrates that. Britain was only several weeks away from deciding to pull back their armada according to an account by their fleet commander.

And Argentina was able to inflict this damage A) with no subs, B) after having lost their prize ship the ex-USS Phoenix, C) no ground support as the Falklands didn't have a military-capable airport (though one ship may have been damaged by a surface-launched missile), and D) a force disparity arguably much greater than what we would face with Iran.

Sending these naval forces to the Gulf is a dangerous and reckless act and I don't understand how a Navy man could sign off on it if we are contemplating hostilities with Iran.

David Brin said...

Moreover let us not forget the scenario at hand. A Persian Gulf of Tonkin does not rely upon competence on the part of Iranian submarines. In those closed waters, many kinds of lurking mines could achieve the same effect. Moreover, many nations have such mines.

(An aside, our mothballed battleships, like the Missouri, are near perfect minesweepers, because few of today's conventional mines pack large warheads.)

Anyway, remember that we are floatin-to-ponderg a Manchurian scenario -- a nefarious scheme to BOTH damage the Navy and propel the public to accept an Iranian strike that they would otherwise reject. It would require something ambiguous (though deadly) that MAY seem to have been an Iranian strike, but actually perpetrated by skilled provocateurs, covertly applied, the way that some still theorize that the USS Maine was sabotaged, triggering the Spanish American War.

Mind you this is all just blather. I am merely extending a thriller scenario another step forward. Some of you said "no way we'll attack Iran." I felt challenged to offer you a way, based upon past American errors and consistent with the stunning deceision to order so much of the Navy into a dangerous gulf.

Hawker Hurricane said...

David

If we don't 'have' the oil in Iraq, who does have it? Ever consider the possibility that having Iraq NOT pump oil is good for the value of the oil pumped anywhere else? In the free market law of supply and demand, it doesn't matter if the supply is low because there actually isn't enough to go around or because someone is manipulating the supply. And the safest place to store oil for later use is in the ground.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

Bush-bashing is certainly appropriate here, but it's preventing you from acknowledging how tightly constrained the strategic situation is. Frankly, we'd be in almost the same fix with Iran if we hadn't gone into Iraq at all. Yes, we're in a much worse situation with the Salafists, but Iran's strategic position is little changed unless and until the US can no longer project ground power into the northern Gulf--which simply isn't going to happen as long as the Dems act like grownups.

I don't see how a Nixon-to-China move will work. N-to-C worked because we had something the Chinese wanted: international credit, trade, and the ability to balance out the threat to China by the Russians. I'm not sure that the Iranians want anything from us more than they want their nukes. If that's the case, diplomacy will ultimately fail. At the very least, a deal might require that the US hand over de facto Iranian hegemony of the northern Gulf, which simply can't be done--it puts the oil supply at too much risk.

Once again, until you ensure Israeli security, you don't have a solution to this crisis! We could be as mild as we want and it will do no good if the Israelis decide they're facing an existential threat--and they are.

Re. the de facto partition of Iraq: Yeah, I think that will work (even if it makes what we did in '92 to the marsh Arabs look humane by comparison), but the price is completely gutting the Iraqi government. That's certainly a plausible outcome but avoiding it is worth some effort.

Note that we've got two narratives going on here, both of them with absolutely no evidence to demonstrate their efficacy:

1) Bushco asserts that giving the Iraqi government "breathing space" will help it stabilize so that, post-surge, it can step in and maintain stability long-term.

2) The Dems assert that threatening the Iraqi government with withdrawl is the only way to concentrate its mind enough to mature it.

Also note that these two assertions are not mutually exclusive! In fact, we may have settled into a strategy that incorporates the best of both worlds. The surge is letting the government regain a modicum of effectiveness, and the more-than-adequately-telegraphed threat of withdrawl is forcing them to be more serious about compromise and a stable security structure. We still have a modest chance of achieving a stalemate through rectal extraction at the last moment.

Don Quijote said...

...whereas, in this case, we simply and decisively and demonstrably DID NOT GET OIL!

A) It's not for lack of trying.


Oil ministry an untouched building in ravaged Baghdad


Future of Iraq: The spoils of war

Wall Street drools over prospect of capturing Iraq oil wealth

B) It's not my fault that the American Public elected the most incompetent bunch of greedy short-sighted dimwits to come to office since...

There is not a scintilla of evidence for Don Q’s continuing lefty delusion that this is about Iraqi oil.

And I am sure that wasn't meant to be rude or insulting...

Now I suppose I should thank Don for once again proving my point that leftists can be as myopically obstinate in holding to their simplistic explanations, long after they stop working.

nor was the above comment...

Specifically, if you come on here again and insult somebody - me or anybody else - with that nasty and unmerited ROTFLMwhatever, again, your remark will simply be deleted.

Watching obviously intelligent and better educated people than myself falling for the kind of third rate propaganda that we produce in this country is hilarious. What else is there to do but to point out the obvious and wait for the denial to come and roll on the floor laughing your *ss off after you have heard it for the umpteenth time.

But if we didn't go there for the OIL, what did we go there for?
Give a simple one or two paragraph answer to that basic question that does not involve OIL. Keep it short and simple, I would not want to strain my poor addled leftist brain...

TheRadicalModerate said...

BTW, DQ: Of course this is about oil! But it's not about getting oil, it's about maintaining access to it.

Would it be better if things were different and we hadn't pumped trillions of dollars into a region whose leaders had forgotten to study the last 14 centuries of political science? Sure--but that ship sailed with World War II. Should we be going even more heavily into alternative energy so we can unwind this mess some time in the next 15 years? Of course!

Meanwhile, what do you propose to do? Destroy the economy of the entire industrial world? It's not gonna happen. Get over it--it's a done deal.

Don Quijote said...

Meanwhile, what do you propose to do? Destroy the economy of the entire industrial world? It's not gonna happen. Get over it--it's a done deal.

I have a hard time getting over an estimated 2 million refugees, half a million displaced individuals and an estimated 1/2 million dead Iraqis.

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

~Thomas Jefferson

steve said...

I was listening to the news the other day and thinking about framing. The announcer was talking to a commander in Iraq and said something like, "Do you think the insurgents are hunkering down waiting for the Americans to leave?" An argument the Administration has made as well.

I got to thinking about that as a strategy, and thought it might be useful too see if it meshes into Dr. Brin's exit strategy.

So let's say we announce that the US is going to withdraw all but training troops in 12 months. Choice A) nothing much changes, the civil war continues, the "surge" works or it doesn't, no effect either way since if nothing has changed in a year, it probably is not going to. Or B) the insurgents "hunker down" and wait for us to leave. (I don't see insurgent escalation as an option since things seem escalated to the limit of the resources already.) If B, then the country has a year of quiet to build infrastructure and civil government, investigate and catch terrorists, and get used to the relative peace and quiet. In this event, I think this would totally sap popular support for insurgents of either side, since most people just want peace, and after a year of having it most are not going to take kindly to disturbing it. As opposed to the recent survey, where for the first time, more than 50% of Iraqis support attacks on Americans. So as far as I can see, announcing a "date certain" has no downside and might eviscerate the insurgency.

In terms of framing, I thought that it was interesting that there was a hidden analogy in the reporters question of the insurgency like a monster that can hide and emerge unchanged. It seems to me that if they do leave the scene, the environment changes in a way that may no longer support them.

This to me is part of a larger error that humans seem to make in framing their understanding of organizations (businesses, countries, terrorist groups, etc) as an analogue of a monolithic organisms. A holdover of our early evolution as prey, no doubt.

Woozle said...

DQ: Your basic question seems to be "How can it be about anything other than oil?"

Dr.B's basic argument is not "our invasion of Iraq was not about oil and therefore must have been for the motives claimed by the administration". His argument is more like "anyone can see that our invasion of Iraq was not for any of the reasons given by the administration. However, claiming that it is about oil instead is not supported by the evidence, even though it is an obvious explanation. So what might the *real* reasons be?"

Or, simplified a bit more: It's not for the reasons given, and it's not even about oil; the motives seem unclear and possibly far more sinister.

DQ said: "And I am sure that wasn't meant to be rude or insulting..." ... "nor was the above comment..."

I don't know whether the referenced comments were actually intended to be rude or insulting (I would be more likely to describe them as "provocatively condescending"), but even so: He's allowed to be rude and insulting, and we aren't. We are the guests, and Dr.B is the Esteemed Host. It's not a symmetrical playing field.

I often describe online communities as elective dictatorships. The site owner is the ultimate dictator, but you have the market freedom to go elsewhere if the dictator gets too dictatorial. (I haven't had cause for complaint.)

TheRadicalModerate said...

Re. ROTFLMAO and DQ's loss of anatomical integrity during risible incidents, I'm gonna have to channel the ghost of Emily Littella: "What's all this I hear about rotful mayo? Why would anybody want to spread that on their sandwich? It would make them sick!"

Anonymous said...

Ok, there is a point that really needs to be made here.

Israel has 300-500 Nuclear warheads and plenty of ability to strike Iran with them.

They don't need any threat of US retribution to have a MAD situation with Iran.

Between the Arrow missle defense system and the state of Iranian missle technology, they would have to pop at least five at Israel to have any certainty that one would hit.

If one did hit, Iran would lose 30-40 million people and all of it's infrastructure in an Israeli counter-strike.

The US would pour in with aid and guns, killing any hold outs and winning the loyalty of any survivors quickly. Whatever areas were suffeciently free of radiation to be habitable would quickly become home to Afghani and Iraqi Refugees.

Persian Culture, after 3,000 years, would actually cease to exist.

On the other hand, the 12 million or so Jews who don't live in Israel would pour every last penny they had into rebuilding it. Palestinians would be entirely expelled from the occupied territories by an Israel claiming that it desperately needed safe living space.

In 50 years, Persia would have vanished from the Earth and a larger and more purely "Jewish" Israel would be getting along just fine.

Iran has nothing to gain by nuking Tel Aviv. It has everything to lose.

Iran refuses to give up it's nuclear aspirations because of the lesson of North Korea, not because of some goofy desire to commit literal suicide.

sociotard said...

Just a technology blurb:
Japanese Rescue Robots

Is it really a good idea to make a rescue robot look like a woodchipper? Does anybody look at that and not think "Soylent green"?

David Brin said...

Dang RM. You remember Emily Litella? Yipes! And I pictured you as a whipper snapper! Alas, your missive struck me as filled with rationalizations.

Clever ones - I read every word - but also frustrating because I KNOW you are smart enough to see how silly most of em are. You are struggling hard to make the irrational, insane and traitorious seem merely dumb. But there comes a point, when the score is PEREFCTLY negative, across the board, that bend-over-backwards excuses just become untenable any longer, and the word “mosters” starts to become the only one tenable. Alas, that is all the time I have.

(Aw hell, just one. Let me reiterate, these monsters have done NOTHING to help Israel survive. They have undermined the peace process that country desperately needs, over the long term. They have relentlessly done their best to create a united Pan-Islam under a maximally radical banner. The present US Administration is one of Israel's worst nightmares.)


Steve, what the insurgents do will depend on their objectives. If they are simply at war with us and genuinely hate Bush, they might time their fiercest attacks to do him the most political damage. OTOH If (according to the thriller paranoid scenario) they are in cahoots with the dozen top monsters in this Manchurian administration, to destroy American might, then they will do whatever it takes to weaken the democrats in fall 08. Ironically, that could EITHER mean “lie low” and feign a US victory OR destroy a US fleet. Either extreme would favor the GOP.

Of course that is oversimplifying. Just as I’ll wager 90% of the upper officials in the administration are NOT manchurians, but staggeringly stupid/dogmatic neocons, so loyal that they cannot even perceive treason at the top... likewise, I would bet that all of the Al Qaeda etc foot soldiers currently in Iraq are sincere in wanting to kill American invaders and don’t give a hoot about our internal politics. The Manchurian scenario does not and cannot involve large numbers.

What stuns me is the third layer in American officialdom. When you get below the manchurians and the screeching ideologue neocons and partisan hatchet men... down to the level of the sincere, devoted, patriotic, educated and highly skilled officers of the US military, intelligence community, civil service and law enforcement agencies. These men and women number hundreds of thousands. They have been trying hard to make an utterly impossible mission (find WMDs where there were none, then plant democracy where it cannot grow) with brilliance and dedication, occasionally even wreaking miracles (esp in afghanistan.) What I cannot understand is why these people have not yet snapped out of their stunned trance and gathered the evidence necessary to rid America of its worst enemies. These are the people sworn to protect us from criminals and enemies, foreign and domestic. I cannot believe that all of them are cowed, intimidated, just keeping their heads down to protect tenure till they reach their Twenty.

What are they waiting for? Is it a simple matter that boomers are cowards, unable to gather the courage and true patriotism shown by our parents, in the “greatest generation?”

Ex Utero said...

Dr Brin,

you've been tagged as part of a "thinking blogger's meme", a.k.a. a thogger meme.

I normally wouldn't bug you with something like this (and don't do many memes myself) but I was tagged earlier today by someone that I highly respect (who almost never does these things) and I think it would be interesting to see which five bloggers you think are the best thoggers out there.

This particular meme might actually broaden peoples horizons. You can back track to my site if you want to participate.

Andrew said...

Why isn't the massive cash giveaway to Bush & Cheney's military industrial friends combined with a desparate attempt to save the administration's reputation enough of an explanation for their behavior? Superiority through technology is one of the PNAC goals, as well as growing the military (nevermind that it actually turned out to hurt the military). Securing oil for their buddies, which Bush admitted it's partly about, as well as avenging Daddy would have appeared to be added benefits.

What are these motivations missing that we have to think of more sinister ones?

Mabus said...

Since the good-news threads have all scrolled way down by now, I was wondering if anyone here has noticed this.

It's possible it's already been seen and discussed--I'm afraid I haven't been keeping in touch as much as I should here.

Don Quijote said...

Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth....

This from people who eat nice juicy steaks and get queasy when you mention that to get that steak a cow had to be killed, but have no problem discussing and paying for the mass murder of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.

Considering that we have just ended the single most violent century in recorded human history. how many people were killed by wars in the last century? 100 million, 200 million?

No what we are living in is the age of hypocrisy, people, particularly Americans (they are so sure it won't happen to them), don't mind killing as long as it's done from a distance and they don't have to see, smell, hear or touch the results.

Doug S. said...

"Considering that we have just ended the single most violent century in recorded human history. how many people were killed by wars in the last century? 100 million, 200 million?"

I suspect that a greater percentage of the population were killed by violence in the 15th century than in the 20th. A lot of people died in wars in the 20th century, but there were so many more people alive than in earlier eras that comparing absolute totals becomes silly. I'll let someone else dig up the actual figures, though.

David Brin said...

When you point dogmatic cynics at blatant facts, then blink, then avert their eyes.

e.g.

We... got... no... oil. Moreover, our troops were NOT sent to defend the oil fields and pipelines. They have been sent to be worn down in urban insurgency warfare. My theory wins.

another example. "The 20th was the bloodiest century ever." In raw totals, perhaps, but relentlessly disproved, over and over on a percapita basis. Per person and per average year, the rate of violence among human beings PLUMMETED across the 20th century to the lowest level ever.

Dig it, almost nobody in latin America has ever seen warfare between nations. The gang and guerilla violence there is nasty, but actually far lower than in feudal or tribal societies. Almost nobody on Russia, China, Japan or India has seen war since 1953. Now tell me how many of your own peers have gone to war.

Anthropologists estimate that EVERY male in past cultures fought in armed struggles several times in his life.

Don Quijote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don Quijote said...

We... got... no... oil. Moreover, our troops were NOT sent to defend the oil fields and pipelines.

I went to the bank with a gun in hand, waved it around, handed the cashier a note that said give me all the money then shot the cashier and ran out the back without any money, therefor I didn't go into the bank with the intent of robbing it since I... got... no... oil.

In raw totals, perhaps, but relentlessly disproved, over and over on a percapita basis. Per person and per average year, the rate of violence among human beings PLUMMETED across the 20th century to the lowest level ever.

By whom?

Name? Stats? Study & reference wanted...

RandomSequence said...

David,
What I cannot understand is why these people have not yet snapped out of their stunned trance and gathered the evidence necessary to rid America of its worst enemies. These are the people sworn to protect us from criminals and enemies, foreign and domestic. I cannot believe that all of them are cowed, intimidated, just keeping their heads down to protect tenure till they reach their Twenty.

Methinks you are caught in mythology about the American character. It's easy to do - I grew up on the same myths, and only through hard experience have I learned that Americans are not the tough-nosed non-conformists anti-authoritarians of myth, but instead self-centered followers with fairly little initiative. I don't claim that this is true for all Americans, that would be foolish, but it does hold for a large number of people and comes out of our cultural values.

Example: the JetBlue incident, where folks were held on an airplane for 10 hours while the company attempted to get the flight out in conditions of very low probability - in short they were treating their passengers like cargo. In many countries, the passengers would have demanded to be released, and revolted if held. We, on the other hand, passively wait for the authorities to tell us where we can go.

I know this is painful to hear - I know I'll get angry responses. But really, honestly compare Americans with other nations. Just look at the treatment of many employees in private companies and compare them with other countries, with our capability to demand better working conditions given the general wealth in the country. How little democratic activity in our day to day life occurs - people don't even bother to vote, much less get involved in their local politics as full citizens.

I could go on with personal anecdotes, but those are of little value. But think how many American companies are "process driven" and how little different this is from the Soviet mindset. How many of our boys are trained in football (an authoritarian, conformist sport if there ever was one) rather than basketball or soccer, where the coach is basically limited to a training role? (And yes, I do enjoy watching football.) Why do we sit on our asses and get spoon-fed televisions at rates far exceeding any other country in the world?

I think you expect too much, if you expect us to stand up to our bosses. I've never seen it happen in meat-space; quite the contrary, I've seen middle-class Americans sit at their desk quietly while their bosses have refused to pay them their salaries; and you ask them to stand up for principle!

Doug S. said...

This is amusing.

Iran's Operative in the White House
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Doug S. said...

Oh fuck.

War with Iran just got that much closer.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Keep telling the lie that the film "300" isn't propaganda designed to fuel a war with Iran:
http://www.exile.ru/2007-March-23/war_nerd.html

Whether or not a Democratic congress was elected when the film was made is, of course, irrelevant, since the Spartan ephors and the Athenians (and anyone else who spoke out for brains over brain) is depicted as a cowardly traitor in the film. Incidentally, the Athenians who are constantly smeared as "boy lovers" and ridiculed as gutless cowards in the film were the ones who actually crushed the Persian at the battle of Salamis.

Sound familiar? Like the chickenhawk Republicans who evaded the draft and then smeared as cowards and appeasers all the Democrats who served in battle...?

On another topic, it's sadly true that Americans are one of the the most servile and confirmist cultures on the planet. Records of POW camps in WW II and Korea show that American barracks invariably had the most informers, the most cooperators, the fewest attempts at escape.

tacitus2 said...

Zargon
Your comments on American POWs in WWII are ill informed. It is a topic with which I have a considerable familiarity. The relative lack of escape attempts was a matter of logistics in the Pacific, and of policy in Europe. After the "Great Escape" where 50 recaptured POWs were shot, the official policy for American and Brit POWs was readieness for mass escape in the event of attempted liquidation, but free lance attempts were essentially banned.
Korea is a more complex matter, but your opinions there are likewise simplistic and ignoble.
Tacitus2

Max Wilson said...

Zorgon,

Quote: Keep telling the lie that the film "300" isn't propaganda designed to fuel a war with Iran

When you make incorrect interpolations (ephors representing a "cowardly" Democratic Congress) I'll point out the flaws, on the theory that you're a reasonable person who wants to see things clearly. If you retreat into rudeness and accusations of "lying" I'll eventually conclude you're a waste of time instead. Which one are you?

-M.D.W.

Anonymous said...

I've provided hard evidence of the documented factual inaccuracy of the film "300."

I've provided hard evidence that this film has influenced at least some draft-age kids to want to join the U.S. army.

I've provided hard evidence that military experts uniformly denounce the film with disgust for its inaccuracy and propaganda.

You, by contrast, have provided nothing to buttress your baseless claims that "300" is not propaganda.

You have provided no evidence, no facts, no logic. Nothing but empty denials.

Empty denial is not a viable debating strategy.

Please provide hard evidence to back up your assertions or stand revealed as a sophist using dishonest verbal calesthenics to cover up his lack of facts and logic.

Max Wilson said...

Does it surprise you to learn that I agree with Ward Nerd about the absurdity and factual inaccuracy of the film? To be clear, I don't claim that 300 isn't propaganda of some sort. The chickenhawk "war is cool" crowd probably loves it. However, you claimed it was as a "carefully-timed" film "depict[ing] Iranians as... monsters, and the Spartans... beset by a hunchbacked traitor (Ephialtes/John Kerry) and... bribe-taking ephors (Democratic Congress)." You've challenged me to refute your arguments or stand revealed as a sophist, which is hard to do because as far as I can discern you haven't *provided* any arguments in support of your alleged correspondence, only links to critics trashing the historical inaccuracies in the movie (which, unsurprisingly, appear to be large). In what ways does Ephialtes mirror John Kerry? What about the ephors makes them resemble the Democratic Congress closely enough to make the timing of this film "ominous" in reference to the Iran situation?

I apologize if my tone seems irritable--I've read this post over a couple of times and tried to edit it but I may have missed some--but if you have any real points to make I'd like to hear them without being accused of lying and sophistry.

-Max Wilson

Craig said...

I do not pretend to offer insightful analysis nor do I wish to comment on the previous entries.
I offer this for consideration as a lawful means to address the wretched situation our country finds itself in as a result of the misguided and self-righteous attitude taken by the current administration.

Article 2, Section 4
The Constitution of the United States of America

I lived my young adult life during the Nixon era and witnessed first hand what the power of our Constitution is capable of. Now, is the current Congress capable of the backbone exhibited then? Will they have the willpower to use what is there for them to use?