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The Archetype Fallacy
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Here we go again...
  • Washington Times: "What did Hitler sound like to those hearing him speak in the 1930s? Did he sound any less menacing than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran?"

  • Rush Limbaugh: "Winston Churchill had this problem back in the thirties with Hitler. It's eerie how similar this [Iran situation] is."

  • Bill O'Reilly: "Neville Chamberlain loved diplomacy and so did Hitler. Remember, the Iran mullahs are Nazis. There's no difference."

This invocation of a "new Hitler" — what Glenn Greenwald calls a "cheap equivalence between Hitler and the tyrant de jour" — is an unfortunate component of the US foreign policy debate. It produces the "It's Munich again, see, and the times require gumption and spine and fortitude—not the cowardice of the Eastern Establishment..." kind of juvenile chest-thumping that Gregory Djerejian fears will replace serious foreign policy thinking.

Granted, there are important lessons to be learned from WWII, in which an overly conciliatory foreign policy allowed a clear threat to grow out of control. But there are also lessons to be learned from WWI, in which an overly anxious foreign policy led Europe into a war they did not have to fight.

A foreign policy which assumes every challenge is another WWII may only lead to another WWI.

Cato Institute Foreign Policy Analyst Justin Logan called the nonsensical "objectively pro-Hitler" aspect of this argument "The Fallacy of '39"...
...can we get a name for inappropriately invoking the appeasement of Nazis? This is a tactic frequently used by neocons and various sundry warmongers who wish to portray opposing various wars as morally equivalent to pulling up a lawn chair and a Corona to watch the Holocaust.
The other main aspect of this argument is what I'll call The Archetype Fallacy: the tendency to assume Hitler.

Hitler was the perfect model of an evil threat, and the temptation to use that archetype as a rhetorical bludgeon is powerful. (who, after all, wants to discount Hitler; to be the next Chamberlain?) Certainly, it's important to incorporate that possibility into our foreign policy calculation of Iran. But that's far from the entire calculation, and there are many reasons to be far more cautious, including...

  • The likelihood that Iran is still years away from having a nuclear bomb (more here).


  • The likelihood that a US attack would only strengthen our enemies and weaken our allies within Iran ("the worst of its leaders positively want to be bombed—and are doing their level best to bring that about")


  • The likely consequences of a US attack on Iran...

    Show/Hide


  • The likely failure of a US strike against on Iran. In war games, the outcome of a strike was consistently bad...
    The experts disagreed on some details but were nearly unanimous on one crucial point: what might seem America’s ace in the hole—the ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations in a pre-emptive air strike—was a fantasy. When exposed to “What then?” analysis, this plan (or a variant in which the United States looked the other way while Israel did the job) held more dangers than rewards for the United States.
    As James Fallows writes in The Atlantic, we have "a series of choices—and all of them are bad."


Short of gearing up to face the Next Hitler, what options remain? Matt McIntosh suggested economic rapprochement — that we pursue the one area in which we still have a comparative advantage over the Iranian regime: soft power. I think there's a lot to that.

The only other possibility would be a major reorientation of US foreign policy in the region. A more comprehensive Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East — one that takes into account the primary agitant of Middle Eastern countries (the Israel/Palestine problem) and protects the national interests of each State actor. It would require:
  • ...Israel to pull back to, probably, their 1967 border and allow the establishment of a Palestinian State, in exchange for unanimous recognition of Israel from Middle East countries.

  • ...the US to guarantee Israel's borders.

  • ...the US to otherwise remove troops from the Middle East, or at least have no permanent bases in the Middle East.

  • ...a US non-intervention guarantee for (at least) Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, with equivalent guarantees from them to the US and Israel.

  • ...a verifiable nuclear-free Middle East, including Israel.

 
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Or Jon, mayhap the Iranians MEAN IT WHEN THEY SAY THEY’RE GOING TO DESTROY ISRAEL...just like Hitler MEANT IT WHEN HE SAID EQUIVALENT THINGS. There is the opposite mistake, assuming people AREN’T Hitler or that people really can’t MEAN THAT, when they say it.

But after the Holocaust and 9/11 I am MORE inclined to believe Islamic extremists when they talk about their plans and ideas. Colour me funny that way...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
There is the opposite mistake, assuming people AREN’T Hitler or that people really can’t MEAN THAT, when they say it.
That’s why I specifically acknowledged that there are lessons to be learned from WWII and that situation.
But after the Holocaust and 9/11 I am MORE inclined to believe Islamic extremists when they talk about their plans and ideas. Colour me funny that way...
Do you have any way of discerning between talk talk and likely problems? Any way at all? Or are you just determined to go to war at any provocation? You know, just in case.

Have you ever considered the fact that Ahmadinejad is far less powerful in his country than Hitler was in Germany? In fact, whatever his rhetoric, Ahmadinejad actually has relatively little power. Do you know what the real powers in Iran intend? Do you really want to go to war over a belligerent figurehead?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I can’t see Israel agreeing to the last items listed.
For us it’s a ’calculated risk’, for them, it’s existence.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
one that takes into account the primary agitant of Middle Eastern countries (the Israel/Palestine problem

Oh, I disagree with this statement totally.

The primary agitant of middle eastern countries are.....middle eastern countries, specifically their leaders, who seek to whip up their ignorant and impoverished populations against Israel and the US so they don’t lose their own scalps.


 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Or are you just determined to go to war at any provocation? You know, just in case

All of our choices are bad right? So may as well strike on our terms, when it benefits us the most. To me, that would seem to be sooner rather than later
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yes, Jon but what if he IS as powerful or can use nuclear weapons? If Robert Mugabe says, "Death to America" oh well, but when the Iranians, next door to all that oil, sponsors of terror for 30 years and on the way to possessing NUCLEAR weapons say things, I pay more attention...

So the intent may be questionable, but the capabilities are awesome and the INTENT isn’t so hard to see either is it Jon? Or do you consider Hizbollah and Hamas as essentially radical politcal groups? Because Iran supports them.

I simply say, that the Iranians express an INTENT to cause massive harm... can you point out to me in the Iranian government anyone saying, Oh NO, the President is an IDIOT and we in the Majlis or the Guardians Council do NOT agree with his statements?" It comes down to these people say things, openly, the question is not what they said, BUT DO YOU CHOSE TO BELIEVE THEM? I choose to, Iran has a track record....you may choose to believe that their’s is a rhetorical device, designed to appeal to like-minded individuals in the Dar-al-Islam and Iran.

And I repeat, where is the counter-programming from Iran? IF this isn’t Iranian policy where are the COUNTER-positions being posited? If the range of policy options range, in Iran, from nuclear attack(s) on Israel to prolonged covert war against Israel and the West, I’d say that Iran is the enemy, the only question is will they use the nuclear capcity they are striving for overtly or merely as a threat to their neighbors? So mayhap they’re NOT Hitler, they just may be Hess or Bormann...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I can’t see Israel agreeing to the last items listed. For us it’s a ’calculated risk’, for them, it’s existence.
If the US guarantees their border security (i.e., we’ll punish attacks on Israel) and there’s a verifiably enforced nuclear free zone in the Middle East, how do they lose? Those guarantees would accomplish everything that their nuclear deterrence accomplishes right now, but at far lower aggregate levels of risk.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
...a verifiable nuclear-free Middle East, including Israel.
Fine but what if Iran won’t agree to this? Iran is building nuclear weapons, not because of the Palestinian issue, but because it has a desire to dominate ithe region AND to spark an Islamic/Shi’i revival....
which leads to:
one that takes into account the primary agitant of Middle Eastern countries (the Israel/Palestine problem)
Jon the Middle East is RIVEN with rivalries and problems that HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ISRAEL AND THE PALESTININIANS. Magreb v. the Rest, Arab Nationalism, Islamism, rich v. poor, Egypt v. Syria, Saudi Arabia attmepting to control the area via money and to protect itself via money, Arab v. Persian, Arab v. Kurd, or Arab v. ethnic minorities in general...You simply will NOT solve the "problems" of the Middle East with a peace treaty between Israel and some Palestinian entity. In fact, if you removed Israel from the area, with nuclear weapon even, the problems would remain. Israel is an EXCUSE, something "we can all agree on" but it’s not the source or sole source of conflict.
...a US non-intervention guarantee for (at least) Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, with equivalent guarantees from them to the US and Israel.
And that’s a good one too. So now you allow Iraq or Iran to attack Saudi Arabia after we’ve removed the troops and say we won’t intervene? The Saudi’s WANT US INTERVENTION, when it suits them! Jon, that’s why they have such assiduous diplomacy in the US, we are a GUARANTOR of the House of Saud! A pledge of non-intervention coupled with the removal of US forces simply allows the larger regional powers to pick the smaller countries off. You HAVE read some Middle Eastern history, right? There is NO government in the Middle East, hyperbole alert, that has not suffered at least one coup attempt sponsored by one of its neighbors in the recent past... Nasser, Assad, Hussein, Khomeini ALL attempted to overthrow one or most of their neighbors in order to obtain power. Which kind of ties back to, the fact that Israel is the one thing everyone SAYS they abhor, but really they FEAR their neighbors as much if not more than Israel.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Oh and :
If the US guarantees their border security (i.e., we’ll punish attacks on Israel) and there’s a verifiably enforced nuclear free zone in the Middle East, how do they lose? Those guarantees would accomplish everything that their nuclear deterrence accomplishes right now, but at far lower aggregate levels of risk.

is laughable. Uh they can lose their national existence, Jon... A US guarantee of their borders.... after we withdraw our troops from the area? So IF the Iranians have 1-2 weapons and use them, on the Isreal WITHOUT weapons and they Arabs attack, the US will what???? NOT INVITE THEM TO THE NEXT WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL? Why would Israel entrust their existence to a guarantee from a nation NOT in the region, militarily? Jon your proposals are I’m not a Libertarian, redux.

Libertarians operate fairly well within the 12 mile limits of the US boundaries, but International Affairs leaves them floundering. Libertarins are LEGALISTIC. International Affairs is still the area of REALISM, not the legalistic paradigm.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
ok, someone has to say it:
Godwin’s Law should be able to be invoked for politicians and pundits.

The most important part being:
There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
Assume there is some sort of truce, Jews agree to go back to the 1967 borders, Jews are forbidden to go to the temple mount, or any Muslim country for that matter. Considering how the Islamic world seems to be turning back to its extreme 7th century version in a modern revival, how long do you think Israel has before attacks resume, simply because Koranic law demands it? Israel was condemned for destruction before it was even created, no effort has ever been made by anyone in the Islamic world to end that original antisemitism that started the 1967 war in the first place

Is it even possble to prevent Muslim counties from aquiring enough uranium to build a bomb sometime in the near future? If we are guaranteed to defend Israel in this deal, what if Islamic countries demand that we disarm our nuclear programs? It sounds a lot like the U.S. will become the "armed wing" of the zionists.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
This invocation of a "new Hitler" — what Glenn Greenwald calls a "cheap equivalence between Hitler and the tyrant de jour" — is an unfortunate component of the US foreign policy debate.
It’s not just a "component in US foreign policy debate." It has a domestic component as well. I’m sure Greenwald would agree.

Ask Chimpy McHitlerburton ... he can tell you all about it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The solution is far too simplistic, especially the part about Israel. Drawing back to the 1967 borders would just mean Hamas and Hezbollah would just start firing rockets into Israel from the Golian Heights, which was one of the prime reasons for Israel occupying that area. Basically what you’ve suggested is whats already been tried, only having Israel cede more land and become less secure. What happens when Iran continues to fund the terrorist organizations just like it has always done? Only now Israel is in a worse position to respond to it.

 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
mayhap the Iranians MEAN IT WHEN THEY SAY THEY’RE GOING TO DESTROY ISRAEL...just like Hitler MEANT IT WHEN HE SAID EQUIVALENT THINGS.
The difference between now, and then, is that this time the Jews have the ability to fight back and win. Something they unfortunately did not have in Nazi Germany. That serves as an awfully big deterrant.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Rosensteel you make a good point... but that doesn’t mean that the Iranians wouldn’t try...Because they say they want to.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I single handedly held off an entire herd of conservatives at Red State who were making the Iran is Germany all over again talk. Of course they called me Neville Chamberlain. In this case I tried to point out that we might HAVE to attack Iran but its in our best interest to delay that as long as possible. Due to our precarious position in Iraq.
IF the situation in Iraq stabilizes we might not lose everything there if we have to go into Iran. I also pointed out that it would be almost suicidal to try and rely only on air power, we have to topple the regime, that is the only way to be sure, so if we decide to do it its all or nothing. Because nothing would be more dangerous than to leave them injured and still around.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
The most important part being:
There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress
.
Tito what if they ARE Nazi’s? Alternatively, it’s a good thing that Winston Churchill didn’t have to use Usenet groups in the 1930’s, eh?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well Kyle that’s not entirely true... Iran can hate me a LOT, but as long as it’s set back another 10 years from nuclear weapons, we’re that much better off. Are they going to invade Iraq? Step up support for the insurgents or the Shi’i militias? Things they’re doing NOW? Or just sponsor terror attacks, things they do NOW? Or is it your position that because they can hurt us we should do nothing, unless it’s perfect? That may be a false dichotomy. UNLESS we can remove the mullahs, we should do nothing....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
No US bases in the Middle East - meaning we have to deploy from Europe or someplace like Diego Garcia.
If my country was about a 1 hour drive from border to border I don’t think
I’d ’rely’ on the whim of a current US administration for anything, whatever
guarantees they gave. Given the right circumstances they could be over and done in Israel and all we’d provide is a rear-guard for evacuating the government-in-exile.
Having a nuke in my pocket that I could threaten to use on, say, Mecca, or Tehran, or Damascus, might be something I’d wager my survival on before I’d
risk it on whoever the Americans, in various phases of sanity, put into the White House every 4 years.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
If the US guarantees their border security (i.e., we’ll punish attacks on Israel) and there’s a verifiably enforced nuclear free zone in the Middle East, how do they lose? Those guarantees would accomplish everything that their nuclear deterrence accomplishes right now, but at far lower aggregate levels of risk

1) So a Hamas suicide bomber would mean the US attacks the mideast sponsor states in retaliation?

2) Verifable nuke free zone- well, there’s your answer right there, since that’s a fantasy.

3) Just curious, what incentives do you think you’d have to offer Israel for them to allow their fate to be in the hands of another nation, whos interests are not always concurrent with theirs? Suppose this ever happened, and down the road OPEC cut us off because of it? Oil skyrockets, of course you know it would be a massive political football here, pressure mounts on the US to stop acting in the guarantor role. Suppose we do what happens- do we give Israel a few nukes back from our stockpile?

4) The Arab world already sees us as being in an axis with Israel. Wouldn’t acting in this role only make that situation worse?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Islamic fascists are worse than Nazis. There have been many holocausts in the name of Islam throughout history. Naziism lasted about 10 years. Islamic fascism is going on 1400. Muslim terrorists will target women & children directly for massacre, just to make a point. Muslim terrorists cannot be deterred through threat of death, and believe the entire world is theirs, not just central Europe.

Have no doubt, that if Iran (or any other Islamic nation for that matter) had the military might to stand up to Israel and the U.S. in a conventional war, we would be fighting it right now. Thank God the U.S. has global military hegemony right now; we can never concede any sort of balance to any Islamic regime, ever. period.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
It strikes me we’re trying to have our cake and eat it.

We may have to nail Iran, probably from the air, and at that point we’re going to have to acknowledge all our border issues (which we complacently ignore at the moment). If we put the boot in in Iran, no matter HOW we do it, we’re REALLY going to be in a war, not in this phony war we have now where our troops go to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we here at home worry about who the most popular contestant was on American Idol.

Real War, like when we fought ’you know who’ and his allies in Japan and Italy.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Joe, you belive that they can only make their own nukes and not buy or steal one, or maybe a dirty bomb? Or you think our intellegence, the same ones who were so sure about wmds is so good we will even be able to cripple their production?
You want to gamble on that?
We either topple the regime or its a shiitstorm of hurt on us by leaving them wounded.
Also, the sabre rattling you are hearing from their puppet president is jsut a sign of weakness, its for domestic consumption. If they were really the zealot fanatics they make out to be they would have never made peace with Saddam after they started to win that war. For that matter they would have attacked us during Gulf war one and two.
Also, we have not exhausted every possibility yet. Look, I just dont see the rush into war this time, a whole lot of bad crap can happen not the least of wich is jeapordizing everything we have been trying to do in Iraq.
We might HAVE to do it, but lets wait till the last safe moment.

And AFTER we do it, then we have to seriously rethink our strategic position. I do not believe we are going to be able to be the worlds only policeman for much longer.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Regarding the Israeli drawback, didn’t they float a trial balloon with that (Gaza Strip)? How well has that worked out?
 
Written By: intelrupt
URL: http://
If they were really the zealot fanatics they make out to be they would have never made peace with Saddam after they started to win that war.

After 1987 they WEREN’T winning that war...and by 1988 they had lost that war, hence their decision to accept the peace offers made.
For that matter they would have attacked us during Gulf war one and two.
Why, I said they’re fanatics, but not stupid... why align with one of your worst enemies when that enemy is about to suffer a catstrophic defeat? The Iranians had no reason to ally with the US. They were in the spot the US was in in the 1st Gulf War, "I hope neither side runs out of bullets."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I was kinda covering these angles over in the "Iran: bluff or truth?" thread.

Setting back Iran another ten years on their nukes would be dandy. The question is what we do next, and what they do next. They have the advantage North Vietnam had: they can keep sending devoted soldiers across the unpatrollable borders, and unless we go all-out on them (which would, once again, meet with the stern disapproval of Russia and China... not to mention expose us to serious economic repercussions), we’d just keep on bleeding until (A) things go our way in Iraq, or (B) we tire of the whole fiasco and leave, our credibility once again in tatters.

There are no good options.

What we can do, however, is make our response 100% transparent and predictable, just like we did against the Soviets. We can wait until we’re in a better position (read: not overexposed in Iraq and increasingly Afghanistan) and leave it to the pragmatists to either overthrow their leaders or risk going down with them. In the meantime, we can provide no-doubt-about-it reassurance to our allies in the region and allow them to honestly, openly call Iran’s bluff next time they rattle their scimitars.

Then Iran will have to either put up or shut up and take a credibility hit of their own.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
In the meantime, we can provide no-doubt-about-it reassurance to our allies in the region and allow them to honestly, openly call Iran’s bluff next time they rattle their scimitars.
"Next time guys, we’ll really mean it...." I was intrigued by the overstretched in Afghanistan part too...Overstretched as in the taliban Spring Offensive was an utter farce? Over stretched as in the war lords seem to be turning in their weapons and for the most part not making war on each other? Afghanistan is by no stretch of the imagination Peoria IL, granted, but i hadn’t noticed any backs -sliding either.
and leave it to the pragmatists to either overthrow their leaders or risk going down with them.

Kind of like the German pragmatists overthrew Der Fuehrer rather than suffer the defeat of WWII? Oh WAIT....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
McQ makes a good point that invoking Godwin’s law seems completely ok when you are on the left but bad if you are on the right.

Anyway, perhaps it seems an oversimplification of your points but I get really tired of arguments that go:

".... and if only Israel was reasonable, then the age of Aquarius could start"

In other words, Israel is THE problem in the middle east. Well, if that is the case, then maybe we should nuke Israel. Off course, it isn’t.

I have spent a lot of time in the 90s in the middle east and I don’t believe there is a real solution, only a delay of an eventual settling of accounts. The only way Israel is going to satisfy the other side is to cease to exist.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
As an alternative to (one or more at a time) hitting all the morons in the middle east over the head with a big stick, you suggested:

  • ...Israel to pull back to, probably, their 1967 border and allow the establishment of a Palestinian State, in exchange for unanimous recognition of Israel from Middle East countries.

  • ...the US to guarantee Israel’s borders.

  • ...the US to otherwise remove troops from the Middle East, or at least have no permanent bases in the Middle East.

  • ...a US non-intervention guarantee for (at least) Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, with equivalent guarantees from them to the US and Israel.

  • ...a verifiable nuclear-free Middle East, including Israel.
The unanimous recognition of Israel (and its right to exist) from all Middle East countries... will NEVER happen.

The US might guarantee Israel’s borders now, but domestic pressure 8 years down the road could result in any amount of change to that.

No non-intervention decree from Saudi Arabia or Iran or Syria, as regards Israel (or us) is worth the paper it’s printed on. Probably never will be.

A verifiable nuclear-free Middle East... hah. That’s like saying "a verifiable nuclear-free Russia".

So, since every single point you suggested is unrealistic at best, what else do you have to offer?
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
Joe -
In the meantime, we can provide no-doubt-about-it reassurance to our allies in the region and allow them to honestly, openly call Iran’s bluff next time they rattle their scimitars.
"Next time guys, we’ll really mean it...."
Good lord, do you still not understand what "calling their bluff" means?

A threat is just a threat. We can either act all offended and get red in the face, or... we can call them on their threat.
Because we *do* mean it. They are the ones who would be committing suicide if they followed through on their saber-rattling.

Clear solution: dare them to follow through on their threats. We’re interested in peace in the larger sense, mind you, but if Iran wants to threaten to disturb that peace, by all means they should either put up or shut up.
I was intrigued by the overstretched in Afghanistan part too...Overstretched as in the taliban Spring Offensive was an utter farce? Over stretched as in the war lords seem to be turning in their weapons and for the most part not making war on each other? Afghanistan is by no stretch of the imagination Peoria IL, granted, but i hadn’t noticed any backs -sliding either.
Nevertheless, we and our allies are engaged in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that means we’re more exposed than we might be if we wait this out a little longer.
and leave it to the pragmatists to either overthrow their leaders or risk going down with them.
Kind of like the German pragmatists overthrew Der Fuehrer rather than suffer the defeat of WWII? Oh WAIT....
Yeah, Mr. Sarcasm, kind of like that. Except this time, there shouldn’t be a heavy table between the psycho and the bomb. Whatever we’re doing to foment revolution in Iran, we’re sure not getting many results. They just don’t currently seem to be willing or able to clean their own house. And we’d sure prefer internal spring cleaning to the Marines occupying Tehran.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
This comment is from QandO Blog:
The other main aspect of this argument is what I’ll call The Archetype Fallacy: the tendency to assume Hitler.

Hitler was the perfect model of an evil threat, and the temptation to use that archetype as a rhetorical bludgeon is powerful. (who, after all, wants to discount Hitler; to be the next Chamberlain?) Certainly, it’s important to incorporate that possibility into our foreign policy calculation of Iran.
People are so paranoid that going to war with Iran might produce greater consequences than an Iran that would use nuke WMD to bully its way to an ultimate Mohammedan Middle Eastern Empire. There is an old automotive advertisement: "You can pay me now or you can pay me later." Friends, paying now might seem brutal; however I assure you a paying later to Iran will be catastrophic.

The analogies to Hitler and pre-WWII Appeasement are not fallacies, they are very appropriate pictures of the present relevant to the past.
 
Written By: Theway2k
URL: http://www.slantright.com/
Jon is mixed a very good point (it’s stupid to compare Iran to Hitler’s Germany) with a basically sound but badly-spelled out one (talking to Iran is good, offering all the pie in the sky he suggested is not).

Jon, Israel will never give up its nukes. Sucks, but true. Nothing we can do about it. Scrap the nuclear-free zone.

The 67’ borders are going to happen anyway, more or less regardless of whatever grand deals attempted to be made between the US and Iran about it.

In reality, all we would need to have a real shot at having Iran drop the nukes would be face to face talks between George Bush and Ayatollah Khomeini, with a real, honest-to-goodness treaty at the end of it saying we promise not to bomb Iran unless they a) enrich uranium or b) invade another country.

That’s not going to happen. This administration loves threatening people too much and there are too many bloodthirsty right-wingers that would have his political head. I don’t know if Iran would do it either - I said that there was a chance, not a guarantee. But when someone tells you that the diplomatic options have been exhausted, they’re lying - unless they’ve tried the above.

The other real and best option we have is to just let Iran have the bomb.
Why? Because a) we can’t stop it and b) attempts to stop it will add decades to the survival life of the hard-line government that is actually dangerous having it.

If you’re serious about revolution, and or gradual evolution/moderation in Iran towards democracy and away from religious hatred and tyranny - then you can’t conduct bombings. Nations do not become democracies while they’re being bombed. Quite the opposite.


Hitler was a peer competitor of the USA, the world leader in industrial production in an era when world conquest was still remotely feasible.
Iran is orders of magnitude weaker and less able to threaten the world - period. They aren’t conquering other nations and absorbing them and building the world’s most fearsome army and industrial base. All they can do is what they’re already doing: be a pain in the butt and tempt us to screw ourselves over wasting blood and treasure down a hole in the ground. Kim Jung-Il and Joseph Stalin were bat-guano crazy, as was Saddamn Hussein, all crazier than Iran’s leaders and their system, all more aggressive and volatile, and they all had nukes. Nobody used them. It’s not a coincidence.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Clear solution: dare them to follow through on their threats. We’re interested in peace in the larger sense, mind you, but if Iran wants to threaten to disturb that peace, by all means they should either put up or shut up.
Good Plan that, dare them to blow up Eretz Ysrael and if they do THEN we kill a WHOLE bunch of Iranians! I don’t care for that... A bunch of innocent Israelis get killed and then we kill a bunch of innocwnt IRANIANS. How about we try to PREVENT it, but striking first?

.
Yeah, Mr. Sarcasm, kind of like that. Except this time, there shouldn’t be a heavy table between the psycho and the bomb. Whatever we’re doing to foment revolution in Iran, we’re sure not getting many results. They just don’t currently seem to be willing or able to clean their own house. And we’d sure prefer internal spring cleaning to the Marines occupying Tehran
Except what if they don’t? Or what if the Guardian Council decides today is a good day to provoke an international crisis in the Gulf, followed up with some threats to Israel? Are the MODERATES going to be able to overthrow them? The problem with moderates is they’re moderate! Yes Mr. Sarcasm points out that the Germans who attempted to eliminate Hitler were hamstrung politically and psychologically by the problem of being "traitors". Germany was in a struggle ofr it’s life and the plotters found it difficult to develop a plan for the overthrow of Hitler that wuld change the problem(s) facing Germany. Why would Iranian moderates be any better able to remove the Mullahs? People Power works when the PEOPLE face the Power and the Power has a soft heart, usually the Power just calls out the NKVD, or ZOMO, or the MVD or Savama or it’s equivalent and then the PEOPLE get the S$*te kicked out of them.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Tito what if they ARE Nazi’s? Alternatively, it’s a good thing that Winston Churchill didn’t have to use Usenet groups in the 1930’s, eh?
Good one, Joe.

Iran is NOT Nazi Germany circa 1939. Period.
Let’s not forget that in 1939, Hitler had assembled the most powerful fighting force the world had ever seen. Chamberlain capitulated out of fear.

We are in a much better situation than Chamberlain was. WE are now the most powerful fighting force the world has ever seen. And man, can we kick ass.
Right now, the Iranian problem is a political one, not a military one. A difficult one, yes. But a political one, nevertheless.
(heh. What we could USE is a Tito. Okay, that was bad.)
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Have you ever considered the fact that Ahmadinejad is far less powerful in his country than Hitler was in Germany? In fact, whatever his rhetoric, Ahmadinejad actually has relatively little power. Do you know what the real powers in Iran intend? Do you really want to go to war over a belligerent figurehead?
The real power in Iran are clerics headed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei and who make up the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council selects candidates to contest the parliamentary elections and the population votes to elect the most popular of these approved candidates. The President is selected to implement the clerics agenda.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Let’s not forget that in 1939, Hitler had assembled the most powerful fighting force the world had ever seen.
Untrue... the Wehrmacht was a far less a threat in 1938 than it was in 1940, AFTER IT HAD INCORPORATED THE CZECH ARMY’S EQUIPMENT. And Britain had the most formidable military OVERALL, Britain just wouldn’t face the enemy...
Chamberlain capitulated out of fear.
Yes so true, and in being MASTERED BY HIS FEAR, he insured that the war, when it came to Britain was much worse and bloody than it would have been in 1938.

THE LESSON OF MUNICH.

Funny Iran is looking like a MILITARY problem too. When we say "political" we really mean, no solution to be found, or no solution that we have stomach for, today... of course TOMORROW the problem may be bigger and come to US, but hopefully someone else will be President then, eh? And we can blame it on her/him....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I find it funny when the anti-war crowd gets offended by the use of a Hitler comparison. Ahhh, that’s just good stuff. Pot, Kettle, Black.
 
Written By: Monica
URL: http://
Why would Israel ever give up her nukes? Did I miss the assumption that they become completely stupid first? I must have also missed the assumption that the fanatics are capable of reasonable behavior.

Someone said the conflict will be over when one side is completely defeated. I think that’s about right.



 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Clear solution: dare them to follow through on their threats. We’re interested in peace in the larger sense, mind you, but if Iran wants to threaten to disturb that peace, by all means they should either put up or shut up.
Good Plan that, dare them to blow up Eretz Ysrael and if they do THEN we kill a WHOLE bunch of Iranians! I don’t care for that... A bunch of innocent Israelis get killed and then we kill a bunch of innocwnt IRANIANS. How about we try to PREVENT it, but striking first?
Striking first gives us 100% certainty that we will be seen as the aggressors and will not have many allies go in with us. Hell, we probably won’t even have most of our own country with us on this one.

Giving the Iranians the option to either carry out their threats (with the crystal-clear threat of massive retaliation if they do) or to shut up already gives us a very high certainty that they will not follow through on their word, and their credibility will be damaged. If — and the word "if" implies that no such thing is certain — indeed Iranian leaders are so stupid and/or so crazy that they attack Saudi Arabia or Israel, yes, there will be a messy war.

Then again, if we strike first, we will definitely get a messy war with extremely negative consequences for our future foreign policy. I considered the frist strike option, and I supported it for a while. Not anymore.
Yeah, Mr. Sarcasm, kind of like that. Except this time, there shouldn’t be a heavy table between the psycho and the bomb. Whatever we’re doing to foment revolution in Iran, we’re sure not getting many results. They just don’t currently seem to be willing or able to clean their own house. And we’d sure prefer internal spring cleaning to the Marines occupying Tehran
Except what if they don’t? Or what if the Guardian Council decides today is a good day to provoke an international crisis in the Gulf, followed up with some threats to Israel?
"What if"?
I’ve already given you the contingencies. If they just make threats, we call them on it and their options are to lose face or escalate. If they escalate, they give the international community (read: all the usual troublemakers) no room to support them, and the US and her allies are free to pound Iran’s current regime into a fine puree. We won’t need any more debate about nuclear power plants or anything. We’ll just have ourselves a messy war involving — if my estimation of American troop levels is in the right ballpark — an awful lot of air strikes.
Are the MODERATES going to be able to overthrow them? The problem with moderates is they’re moderate! Yes Mr. Sarcasm points out that the Germans who attempted to eliminate Hitler were hamstrung politically and psychologically by the problem of being "traitors". Germany was in a struggle ofr it’s life and the plotters found it difficult to develop a plan for the overthrow of Hitler that wuld change the problem(s) facing Germany.
They found it so difficult that I’ve read of well over a dozen plots and actual attempts to kill him from 1939 to 1945; they grew increasingly desperate as the war started to look worse and the senior officers started looking for how to make a deal with the Allies. I’m sure the internet has plenty of links; Google it sometime.
Why would Iranian moderates be any better able to remove the Mullahs? People Power works when the PEOPLE face the Power and the Power has a soft heart, usually the Power just calls out the NKVD, or ZOMO, or the MVD or Savama or it’s equivalent and then the PEOPLE get the S$*te kicked out of them.
Well that’s terribly unfortunate. But striking first puts all our confidence in only one of our problem-solving tools: the military’s brute force. Striking first would mean again going in without approval of our allies. Striking first would likely lose us even many of the sympathetic Iranians. Striking first is domestic political suicide, if it can even be done (and yes, political considerations do need to be taken into account. Support at home is critical to the success of any war fought by a country with a civilian-controlled military, especially one with an all-volunteer military). And worst of all, even the military isn’t confident in their ability to solve this without a mess.

What does this all mean for us?
We need to look at feasible options for managing Iran’s aggression. I think forming a ring of rock-solid security assurance around Iran would be quite a palatable option to prevent Iran from throwing their weight around and to prevent their neighbors from engaging in an arms race with them. Our reassurance has worked all over the world to defuse otherwise precarious situations.
And underneath the surface, we should be doing whatever we can to empower the pragmatists and foment homegrown regime change.

It would really be a shame if we went into this half-cocked and got burned. I wonder how long it would take us to crawl out of isolationism this time.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
I’m glad QandO is not in charge of our foreign policy towards Iran.

"ECONOMIC rapprochement" If you think this idea will work with Iran, could you please explain why the same exact idea was tried by the EU-3 and failed? It was pretty much a given that if the EU-3 had succeeded that we would follow in easing sanctions, etc. Hell, it didn’t work with North Korea either. (or Hamas run Palestine, etc.)

This kind of strategy will only work if the other side is already amenable to disarmimg: see Libya.

Oh, I guess we could offer up a trial balloon in the press and see what would the response be. But don’t you think that if it’s really what the Iranians want, they would have let the EU-3 know, "hey, bring in the USA and we can really work something out.."








 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I also agree with Ornery WP...containment will be the only way for the near future in regards to Iran.

The only military action I could see working would be a major punitive invasion to the actual sites where ground forces destroy the labs and then we simply leave. That would be absolute last resort for me.

and please, anyone asking Israel to give up their nukes for a promise...would you agree to do the same for the USA with a guarantee from the UK?

No, I did not think so.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"ECONOMIC rapprochement" If you think this idea will work with Iran, could you please explain why the same exact idea was tried by the EU-3 and failed? It was pretty much a given that if the EU-3 had succeeded that we would follow in easing sanctions, etc. Hell, it didn’t work with North Korea either. (or Hamas run Palestine, etc.)
Funny you should mention economic rapprochement. My first thought, when I saw the term, was ’yeah, but that takes two rational actors ..."

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
...a verifiably enforced nuclear free zone in the Middle East...

Everybody here is focusing on the fact that Israel would never agree to this. While I think that is true, I also can’t imagine the other nations in the area would believe that Israel had disarmed itself of nukes - even if they really had.


The solution is far too simplistic, especially the part about Israel...

Unfortunately, that is true. We only have two obvious options.

1) Get out, go home, wish everybody luck.
2) Strike now.

But neither of these is very realistic. Thankfully, a more patient and reasonable approach is probably going to play out. Especially if the hawkish contingent avoids the Hitler comparisons.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
@Joe "Tito what if they ARE Nazi’s?"
Whether or not there moral standing or genocidal desires are the same, Germany’s military might in 1939 was vastly greater than Iran’s in 2006. (Hell, maybe even in absolute terms.) If Iran invades their "Rhineland" (Shiite Iraq?), or (what Pogue said) they start to build the most powerful army the world had seen to date, then you can start making the comparison.

That’s NOT to say I’m totally against invading Iran. However, it seems we might be jumping to conclusions again, like we did in Iraq. At what point to we start being the problem?

@Jimmy "Naziism lasted about 10 years. Islamic fascism is going on 1400."
Ok, First off, Naziism lasted more than 10 years. If you go from the formal "ressurection" of the National Socialist Party in 1925, that would put it at 20 years. Really however, this is a nitpick.

The major issue I have with your statement is that Islam != Fascism. Modern islamisicm is very definitely "modern". The Muslim world in the middle ages was vastly more tolerant and scientifically, culturally, and philosophically and advanced than the West at the time. (for an example see this) At the time, the west was stuck with violent, controlling religion that was against learning and science and had governments designed to keep the powerful monarchs in power and keep the rabble ("serfs" as they were known at the time) under control by using that religion.

It would seem the situation is now reversed, for the most part. (Another interesting comparison would be the use of the crusades by European kings to the current use of Israel by Middle Eastern despots.)

This isn’t to denigrate "the west", or at least the modern west, which took that learning and made huge advancements on it in the last 400-600 years or so. It is to say that the problem isn’t Islam; the problem is violent, controlling, fantatic, fundamentalists, regardless of religion (or lack therof).


And for the comments regarding the left comparing Bush to Hitler, I’ve also said that the left lost the argument as soon as they started doing that.
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
There’s just no chance at all that I could respond to all the comments that have accumulated, but to address a few points:

(1) Some object to the suggestion of a verifiably nuclear free middle east. Would Israel decline to participate? Perhaps so. But, if they’re rational, they would only object if the verification was a problem. If it’s resolvable, then multilateral disarmament lowers the aggregate risk, without sacrificing deterrence.

One possible solution to the problem of verifiability and the worry about US dedication would be what amounts to a "nuclear escrow", wherein nuclear weapons and programs are essentially put on verifiable hold — and can only be restarted if certain conditions obtain. (i.e., if Iran restarts its nuclear program, Israel regains its nuclear weapons and vice versa)

In any event, verifiability — transparency — would be absolutely vital to such a resolution.

(2) I didn’t really spell it all out, but the diplomatic resolution I proposed would necessarily account for all of the vital national interests involved — most of which involve territorial integrity, concerns about escalation and the Palestinian problem. The problem with the current situation, much like the days before WWI, is that everybody is escalating tension in order to deter enemies, but it’s only serving to motivate those enemies to escalate as well.
Funny you should mention economic rapprochement. My first thought, when I saw the term, was ’yeah, but that takes two rational actors ..."
I’m not sure the two of you are on the same page as I am on what economics rapprochement implies. I don’t want to make rich overtures to the Iranian government. I want to open up Iranian markets in order to enrich the already fairly pro-American populace of Iran and put the pressure of a middle class on the Mullahs.


As for the "but what if they really are CRAZY" kind of comments....well, that’s the juvenile foreign policy BS I want to avoid. Yes, we should take worst-case scenario stuff into account. But if we assume the worst case scenario, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. (again, see: WWI) And it will never end.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon -

1. I agree in general that WW2 is the conservative/hawk archetype for the costs of not heading off threats early, and that - while that archetype is always a useful reminder - it doesn’t always answer the question. I also agree that WW1 is, or should be, the liberal/dove archetype, a classic example of mutual suspicion leading to unnecessary and catastrophic war. But really, you can’t write about the abuse of archetypes without at least a nod to the media and left’s obsession with Vietnam.

2. Like Joe said up top, the main way in which the Hitler analogy is important here is in reminding us not to just write off the Iranians’ rhetoric.

3. As Mark Steyn pointed out at some length in his City Journal piece, you might try to write off Ahmadenijad as a figurehead, but then tell me who is in power in Iran who doesn’t believe this stuff? The guy Ahmadenijad defeated in the election was the first one to promise to nuke Israel. Are you suggesting that Supreme Ayatollah Khameini and the other mullahs are really Jew-lovin’ moderates?

4. Really, the persuasive power of an argument is never enhanced by citing Glenn Greenwald. What, Atrios wasn’t available for comment?

5. I do agree that a critical issue here is how close the Iranians are to getting nukes - I’d really rather not have to confront the Iranians now if we have more time - but that is to some extent unknowable and our intelligence on foreign nuclear programs has been wrong on just about every occasion going back to 1948 or so, so I’m not sure how complacent we should be based on what is probably yet again unreliable intel.

6. You lost me with your proposed solutions. Economic power? I’m with McQ on that one. Shunting more responsibility on Israel to sit back and take crap like that Tel Aviv bombing? A negotiated solution where we agree not to attack them and they don’t agree not to support terrorism or harbor terrorists and don’t agree not to foster extremist ideologies? No, there are only three possible solutions: KO Iran’s nukes, wait until they are closer to getting nukes, or support the (preferably peaceful) overthrow of the regime. The regime as it exists is simply too dangerous to be allowed to have these kinds of weapons, period, and I don’t buy the idea that they can be talked out of them.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
Jon - Typed the above before your last comment. Two more points.

7. Verifiability and police states don’t mix well.

8. You really can’t compare the Iranian regime to, say, the Kaiser. The Kaiser was not a religious fanatic, and he was not in the decades-old habit of using not-always-traceable non-state-actor terrorists as an instrument of state policy. End of the day, we’re fighting a two-front war - hostile states and hostile non-state actors - and like Saddam, negotiating over the Iranian regime’s goals would freeze the status quo in ways that make it impossible to fight the latter. I mean, the Taliban weren’t that dangerous to us by themselves, but they had to go so we could reach Al Qaeda. You can’t consider the Iranian threat in isolation from the terrorist threat.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
The whole idea of Never Again is to assume the worst.

Of course, to say never again to Never Again is to risk doing it again.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
The most overlooked approach to Iran is the Soviet model.

Drive them into economic disaster by getting them into an arms race.

Populate the areas surrounding Iran with old Pershing missiles and dare them to respond in kind. Their arrogant enough to do it and drive themselves to the poor house, till at last the imams partake in national Shahada as they fend off the rebellious poor.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
RE parallels, I wrote out some casual correspondances here:

http://forgottenprophets.blogspot.com/2006/03/parallels.html

The reason we use the Hitler analogy is because it is so clear. No analogy is perfect - self-evident. Any tyrant, any totalitarian, any cynical propagandist will have commonallities with others of his ilk.

When we see OBL and Bush, at the same time, being likened to Hitler, we see the strength of your "archetype fallacy". But one of these similitudes is, um, sort of a little flawed, when analyized by the cold light of reason. I may write it up, but if Bush is going to be slandered, it should be as Stalin, not Hitler.

J
 
Written By: Jack H
URL: http://forgottenprophets.blogspot.com/
Was I the only one that burst out laughing at the inclusion of Gregory and "serious foreign policy thinking" in the same sentence? Really, you should get a prize for that one, Jon!

Since there’s almost nothing in this post or the comments worth taking the least bit seriously, I’ll just ask one question. If anyone can answer it sufficiently you might want to follow that up with an application to the Nobel committee or maybe fax a resume to Kofi’s secretary. How exactly do you idealists(utopians) envision proving compliance by Israel to the only people that really matter—the ones who still think Jews drink the blood of Arabs. Anyone? Didn’t think so.
 
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