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Where are Britain’s Terry Waters now?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Melanie Phillips, in a post entitled "Weep for Britain" relates this story of the fortitude, courage and principle by which most of the world learned to respect the British military. It's a story of something which Phillips feels, in light of the Iranian hostage fiasco, has been irretrievably lost to them. From "The Edge of the Sword" (Star, 1981), first published in 1954, by the late General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, former Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe in NATO:
Part of the unworked coal-mining settlement of Kang-dong [was] known formerly by prisoners as ‘The Caves.’ In 1950 and until the summer of 1951, many United Nations prisoners had been crowded into old tunnels in the hillsides round about, often drenched by the water that ran in from underground streams. The numbers of men who died in these black holes in the ground will never be known exactly. In cross-checking to find our friends, we accounted for over two hundred and fifty deaths; but this is not the total figure.

Of all the many stories of gallantry and selflessness on the part of prisoners in these caves, I will recount only one here: a story that was told to us later by men who had formed part of it; a story which provided us with inspiration to continue resistance to our captors during the most difficult moments. Terry - the last remaining platoon commander of ‘A’ Company - was taken to ‘The Caves’ in the summer of 1951. He had been a member of a column of seriously wounded captives which had marched slowly north from the Imjin River some little time after the two main columns had set off. Though he was in great pain from a wound in his leg and a terrible head injury, Terry set a splendid example on the march, caring, as best he could, for other serious casualties with him. By the time they reached ‘The Caves,’ the condition of many prisoners had deteriorated dangerously; for they had had no medical attention of any sort en route and many still wore the dressings, by now ragged and filthy, placed on their wounds by our own medical staffs before capture.

Terry, and Sergeant Hoper of the machine-gun platoon, were placed with a number of others from the column in a cave already crowded with Koreans - themselves dying of starvation and disease. Except when their two daily meals of boiled maize were handed through the opening, they sat in almost total darkness. A subterranean stream ran through the cave to add to their discomfort, and, in these conditions, it was often difficult to distinguish the dead from the dying. One day, a North Korean colonel visited them to put forward a proposition.

’We realize,’ he said, ‘that your conditions here are uncomfortable. We sympathize. I, myself, am powerless to help you - unless you are prepared to help us. If you care to join the Peace Movement to fight American aggression in Korea, we can take you to a proper camp where, in addition to better rations and improved accommodation, your wounds will be cared for by a surgeon.’

Our men refused this offer, individually. But Terry, seeing their condition, their numbers dwindling, came to a decision on which he acted the next morning. He drew Sergeant Hoper to one side and said: ‘I have thought this business over and have decided that you must go over to the “Peace-Fighters” Camp. Most of you will die if you stay here. Go over, do as little as you can; and remember always that you are British soldiers.’

’What about you, sir?’ asked Hoper. ’It is different for me,’ said Terry. ‘I am an officer; I cannot go. But I order you to go and take our men with you.’

Terry remained firm in his decision; and when the North Korean colonel returned, as they had guessed he would, Sergeant Hoper and his party left ‘The Caves’ with a group of American soldiers. The colonel pressed Terry to accompany them, advising him that he would not accept a final refusal just then but would return later. He returned four times. Armed with promises of an operation on Terry’s wounds by a surgeon, and a special diet of eggs, milk and meat in place of the boiled maize, he failed each time.

Terry was a young subaltern, not long out of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Yet, irrespective of his service and youth, he saw clearly, an officer representing the British Commonwealth in enemy country: by his actions, the Commonwealth’s reputation would be judged. Quite simply, he was given a choice: life, and agreement to reject, at least outwardly, the principles for which he was fighting in Korea; or a steadfast adherence to those principles - and death. Coolly, loyally, like the gallant officer he was, Terry chose death. And so he died.
Terence Edward Waters was posthumously awarded the George Cross for "fortitude as a POW". He was 20 years old when he died.
 
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Fiasco?! From my blog today:
I was surprised to read in the Financial Times that former Ambassador John Bolton considers the peaceful ending of the crisis involving the arrest of British sailors by Iran for allegedly trespassing Iranian waters to be a defeat for the West, and a major victory for Iran. What planet is this guy on? It looks to me like Britain refused to budge, Iran realized it overplayed its hand, pressure was brought down hard on Ahmadinejad to back down, and he did. Britain admitted no wrong doing, made no apologies, promised no change of behavior, and simply had its demand met despite Iranian bluster that trails may be held and that Britain needs to negotiate. This was by any rational analysis a clear victory for the British and an humiliation for President Ahmadinejad.

So why is Bolton, and many other neo-conservative commentators, all in a tizzy? Why do some lambast the British troops for not treating the incident as if it were in a time of war and giving only name, rank and serial number?


I go on to answer that question in my blog. But the point is clear: this was no fiasco, this was a clear victory for Britain, and a clear humiliation for Ahmadinejad. Is war the only thing that will make you happy?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wait a minute. If dying for the outward appearance of his priciples was the right thing for him to do, why wasn’t it the right thing for his men to do? Or if they could cooperate and live, why couldn’t he? Are we to understand from this story that the enlisted people who gave statements to the Iranians did the right thing or the wrong thing?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
One more note on the use of the term fiasco, here is Wikipedia’s definition:
A fiasco means multifaceted, extravagant and sad failures in pursuit of an end that at least some had previously regarded as a chimera syn: fanasco.

Irving Janis in his book Groupthink defined a fiasco much like Barbara Tuchman defined "folly" in her book March of Folly, a major failure that that occurs when people should have known better (the information was out there but they ignored or dismissed it — Janis obviously claims this is a result of groupthink). By these definitions the Iraq war might be considered a fiasco — there is certainly evidence of groupthink. Perhaps the Iranian taking of hostages was a small fiasco for Ahmadinejad who lost prestige and ground within Iran to the pragmatists. But clearly the word does not apply to what the British experienced.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
and a clear humiliation for Ahmadinejad
That’s only clear here in the west. In the Arab world they can point to the fact that they were able to take, hold, and release, at their own discretion, British troops all the while as Britain stood by able to do nothing to prevent it.

It doesn’t matter how we see it, what matters is how they see it, and they didn’t lose a damn thing, while proving they could take British hostages with no discernible penalty, and arguably, could have done whatever they liked with them. And could coerce the British hostages into supporting their position to boot. That’s not lost on the Arab world.

And while we were watching the hostage crisis unfold, they were spinning up the centrifuges. I’d say it was a success from start to finish from the Iranian perspective.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Ahmadinejad who lost prestige and ground within Iran to the pragmatists.

You have evidence of this? Any evidence?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
this was a clear victory for Britain

Yes, the soldier being tormented to tears after being called "Mr. Bean" by the Iranians is a clear victory for the British military. They must be so proud.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
That’s only clear here in the west. In the Arab world they can point to the fact that they were able to take, hold, and release, at their own discretion, British troops all the while as Britain stood by able to do nothing to prevent it.
Iranians are not Arab, by the way. Sure, they were able to take the prisoners. But they were pressured to release them quickly. Don’t be fooled by Ahmadinejad’s effort to put on a face saving "it’s an easter gift." They realized quickly that Britain was not going to give an inch and decided this could do them more harm than good. Britain stood toe to toe with Iran, and Iran blinked and caved.

Joe, we can’t be sure but the analysis that the pragmatists pressured Ahmadinejad makes sense, and was that put forth by Time Magazine. We can’t know for sure (I doubt even the CIA does), but clearly Iran backed down quickly, getting nothing. What possibly could have been a better result, other than this not having happened in the first place (or having them released earlier)?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So no we have NO EVIDENCE of "moderates" or their influence in Iran....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
So no we have NO EVIDENCE of "moderates" or their influence in Iran..
Sure we do. The hardliners failed miserably in elections to local government and more importantly the Assembly Experts who will choose the next Supreme Leader. Those who claim that hardliners run the show completely have no evidence to back them up. Clearly they don’t rig elections because otherwise they would not have stumbled so in 2006. Recent reports show clear decline in authority and popularity of Ahmadinejad (I’ll find the cites for that if you don’t believe me). The fantasy that Iran is some kind of evil regime that has to be "taken out" is pure bunk. And thank goodness it’s bunk, our military and society is in no condition to take on Iran anyway. American power is waning. What will that mean for the coming years?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Like it or not, diplomacy and cooperation, as wimpy as they might sound to the militarists and power politicians, is the most rational course of action, and the one most likely to prevent or minimize the pain of tightening oil supplies Scott Erb
Diplomacy and cooperation are the ideal methods to solve problems, but it takes two to tango. How can you conduct Diplomacy and foster cooperation with countries that will not negociate in good faith?

The Clinton agreement with North Korea is a good example. Diplomacy developed a regime of cooperation in which North Korea was provided with economic and other support in exchange for their promise to cease developing Nuclear weapons. The result, North Korea got the goodies and developed the bomb anyway.

In an ideal world where Countries operated in good faith, Diplomacy and Cooperation would solve all disputes. WE DO NOT LIVE IN AN IDEAL WORLD! We live in a world where duplicity, lying and bad faith are the norms. I do not exempt the United States from this definition. It applies to all countries.

For the most part talking is better than fighting, but there comes a time when talking if futile and you are faced with two options back down to the determent of your country or fight. This boils down to a cost benefit analysis. At Munich Neville Chamberlain’s cost benefit analysis resulted in the destruction of Czechoslovakia in exchange for “peace in our time” he was wrong, the dogs of war were howling just over the horizon.

The analysis that Ahmadinejad. was humiliated is just wrong. He seceded in pulling the Lions tail and got away with it. That strengthened his position, not only in Iran, but in the entire Middle East. In that society the action of the British captives is regarded with scorn, proving the West to be a week hedonist culture that folds like a cheep umbrella in a rainstorm.

It’s great when the sheep lies down with the lion, but the odds are it will end with the lion having a full belly.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
Iran didn’t "get nothing". They got to look simultaneously strong and magnanimous both in the Middle East and among the less perceptive political and journalistic circles here in the West, while demonstrating the weakness and vulnerability of Great Britain. Do a quick google news search and you’ll find plenty of articles that are quite happy to tell you how "generous" and "reasonable" Iran was for releasing the hostages, and calling this (as you did) a victory for diplomacy...which is completely insane.

Iran released the hostages because it made the judgement call that the PR boost in the west for doing so would be more beneficial than that generated by putting them through a show trial. And lo, the resolve of the nations involved in sanctioning Iran for its nuclear program in the UN is already weaker than it was before the incident. As for your lament about the bellicosity of some of the posters here, let me make something clear: Perhaps this slipped by you...I mean, you’re only supposed to have a degree in Political Science...but when a nation violates the territorial waters of an allied nation where your soldiers are conducting operations with that nation’s blessing, seizes them at gunpoint, and hauls them off to be used as hostages, that’s casus belli. Especially when the act is taken in context with that nation’s financial, logistical, and technical support of terrorist forces who have deliberately targeted both your soldiers and the civilian populations of your ally.

And that’s leaving aside a truism of all military operations: When you’re deployed in operations against an armed opponent, you are on a wartime footing, period. And when you are taken at gunpoint by soldiers from another country that is at the very least -politically- hostile, you are DEFINATELY on a wartime footing and should conduct yourself appropriately. That these sailors and marines did not reflects less on them than on their commander at the time and on the (disturbing) fact that most British service personnel are not given any training on how to conduct themselves if captured, but even that does not change the fundamental hostility of the act and the fact that in the end Iran was able to first strike out against Britain’s military with impunity, then milk the hostages for a strong PR-boost in the Middle East while embarrassing the UK, THEN release the hostages with NO negative consequences at all at a time and place of their choosing that once again provided them with a PR boost (this time in the West).

Ahmedinejad isn’t humiliated. He’s crowing with triumph, and other Iranian politicians have already promised more of the same conduct from Iran because now they know they can do this to us (the coalition) any time they want and get away with it. When you’re held at knifepoint on the street and some thug takes your wallet, do you call it a "victory" because he didn’t stab you and left the wallet on the ground after removing the money and walking away?
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
"So why is Bolton, and many other neo-conservative commentators,"

Yep, only those nasty old neo-conservatives. What else can you expect from them?

"Is war the only thing that will make you happy?"

And, of course, anyone who disagrees is a nasty old warmonger.

********************

"Or if they could cooperate and live, why couldn’t he? Are we to understand from this story that the enlisted people who gave statements to the Iranians did the right thing or the wrong thing?"

There are different standards of behavior for officers. He also told them to "do as little as you can" to cooperate with the enemy, a standard that seems to have been a little too tough for these 15.

************************************

" But they were pressured to release them quickly"

Got an example of that irresistible pressure?

" We can’t know for sure"

That’s your evidence?

"Sure we do. The hardliners failed miserably in elections to local government and more importantly the Assembly Experts who will choose the next Supreme Leader."

And these elections took place when? What evidence do you have that these moderates successfully pressured Ahmawhatsis?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Do a quick google news search and you’ll find plenty of articles that are quite happy to tell you how "generous" and "reasonable" Iran was for releasing the hostages, and calling this (as you did) a victory for diplomacy...which is completely insane.
It’s completely insane for another reason ... and you touch on it in your full comment. The government of the UK was as shocked and unprepared for their release as were the hostages.

If you negotiate something through diplomacy, you’re not going to be shocked and caught flat-footed when what you’ve supposedly negotiated comes to pass. That fact that they weren’t argues against the asinine claims that the hostage release was negotiated and a result of diplomacy and more that they were released because Iran had determined it had exacted the maximum amount of humiliation it could without beginning to suffer the world’s condemnation. It let them go at the peak of the humiliation cycle and at the nadir of the world condemnation. A brilliant propaganda victory for Iran.

To call that a "victory" for diplomacy and Britain is simply laughable.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
There are different standards of behavior for officers. He also told them to "do as little as you can" to cooperate with the enemy, a standard that seems to have been a little too tough for these 15.
That’s the job of the senior officer as I outlined here under update II. What Waters did was exactly what he should have done, and the enlisted were obligated to follow his orders. However, he had the sand and principles to know that he, as an officer, couldn’t allow himself to be put in that sort of a position.

Why is it a short 50+ years ago, that 20 year old realized his duty and did it, while those in a similar and much less stressful situation recently didn’t?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
this was a clear victory for Britain, and a clear humiliation for Ahmadinejad.
You gotta explain this one perfesser...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
much less stressful situation recently didn’t?
Because the days of Cawnpore and Lucknow are passed. The Empire is no more and no one thinks a British flying column will come and "carry their bones away" should that be necessary.

The jackel’s feast will no longer be a price the thief has to pay.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
If you negotiate something through diplomacy, you’re not going to be shocked and caught flat-footed when what you’ve supposedly negotiated comes to pass.
Britain wasn’t negotiating! They were standing firm. They were shocked because they didn’t realize Iran would cave so easily.

The West should be united in saying that Iran’s capitulation demonstrates that hardline tactics don’t work. Now people like Bolton, trying to somehow say that since they capitulated (or in your case, since they capitulated faster than Britain thought they would) is a victory for Iran, give Ahmadinejad better press than he deserves.

How could the outcome have been better, other than if they hadn’t been taken or if they had been released earlier (which you wouldn’t have liked since it would have been even MORE of a surprise!) Seriously, what would you have preferred happen? A war? An invasion? A lot of dead bodies?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The analysis that Ahmadinejad. was humiliated is just wrong. He seceded in pulling the Lions tail and got away with it. That strengthened his position, not only in Iran, but in the entire Middle East. In that society the action of the British captives is regarded with scorn, proving the West to be a week hedonist culture that folds like a cheep umbrella in a rainstorm.
I’m trying to understand your position, but given that Iran caved, given that Britain stood firm and gave Iran nothing of what they demanded, what on earth could have been a better outcome? Sure, it would have been better if they’d not arrested the sailors, but given that they did, how else should Britain have handled the situation but by saying no apology, no admitting error, no concessions, and we demand you release our people right away. As the diplomatic and economic noose was tightening, the Iran’s blinked. They realized they were playing with a weak hand, and they were putting at risk their entire effort. This showed Iran’s weakness.

Because if this was somehow a triumph for Ahmadinejad — to capitulate after none of his demands were met — what could have been done differently?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The West should be united in saying that Iran’s capitulation demonstrates that hardline tactics don’t work.
Yeah, and terrorism isn’t espoused by the west either, yet it still continues.
We can all stand around and pat each other on the back, celebrating the British victory, while somewhere on the streets of Cairo, or in South Yemen, some Muslim kid is listening to an Al Queda recruiter, or in Tehran some Persian kid is wandering into the Revolutionary Guard recruiting station, and they’re all excited that Iran took western hostages, shamed England, stood up to the west, and got away with it scott free.

It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve won, or even if you HAVE won, if the other side genuinely thinks THEY won. And these guys, and the muslim world (since you didn’t like the Arab thing) thinks Iran won.

How do you think NoKo continues in their behavior? Do you think it’s because they believe what WE think about them?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
" But the point is clear: this was no fiasco, this was a clear victory for Britain, and a clear humiliation for Ahmadinejad"

There is nothing clear about it. This is merely your opinion. Other opinions differ. It is unclear what, if any, long-term consequences will come of the whole situation.

"The fantasy that Iran is some kind of evil regime that has to be "taken out" is pure bunk. And thank goodness it’s bunk, our military and society is in no condition to take on Iran anyway. American power is waning. What will that mean for the coming years?"

No, what is "pure bunk" is just about every assertion you have made here. Iran has repeatedly demonstrated, and their completely unwarranted seizure of the British hostages is just the latest example, that they are a rogue regime. That’s no fantasy. The U.S. military could cripple Iran both militarily and economically, without a single soldier setting foot on Iranian soil, should the U.S. choose to do so. As for the supposed "waning" of American power, it appears that you have a penchant for presenting your unsupported opinions as facts.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
And thank goodness it’s bunk, our military and society is in no condition to take on Iran anyway. American power is waning. What will that mean for the coming years?"
Heh, dude, shouldn’t there be some kind of Obi-wan Kenobi theme music for this part, where you lament that things aren’t the same now, it’s the dark times, and, well, we’re headed down the road to third rate powerdom (sigh)
You think so? Yeah, pity you can’t check with Saddam Hussein these days to get a second opinion that might match yours.

You better hope no one ’wakes the giant’ again, you’re not going to like it much if they do, and you’ll be a voice crying in the wilderness until we’ve done what we need to do.

I note, not clear who you think is going to replace us on the world stage, but clue, it’s not going to be China.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The U.S. military could cripple Iran both militarily and economically, without a single soldier setting foot on Iranian soil, should the U.S. choose to do so
And they could cripple us as well. And they know it.

It’s power politics. Iran is a regional power with limitations, and we have limits. Iran tested the waters and was meant with a refusal to buckle and had to back down. And given that it’s pretty certain we have special ops operating in Iran in violation of their sovereignty, we could be called a rogue state too. Double standards that are acceptable to us seem grossly unfair to others. And others are gaining the ability to stand up to such actions. That’s the reality we have to deal with, for better or worse.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And others are gaining the ability to stand up to such actions. That’s the reality we have to deal with, for better or worse.
No, others, you included, think they can stand up to us, and that we’re passe.
Just because you don’t have the, as McQ puts it, ’sand’ to use the power we can wield doesn’t mean we won’t wield it if we’re given cause, and your ’regional power’ will become a region full of craters and wandering people looking for shelter. You’re making precisely the same mistake Hussein made and the mistake the Japanese high command made in 1941. That we’re weak, and becoming weaker.

We can become the people who leveled Dresden again, just give us sufficient reason. No amount of hand-wringing will stop us from using what we have, in appropriate measure (Arclight, Tehran, nuff said) if we’re provoked strongly enough. Largely because you’re going to be wringing your hands by yourself and other people are going to be telling you to be quiet. We’ll have the nightmares, and the recriminations later, and I’m sure you’ll help out making us feel bad, but that’s not going to do much good for the people who pissed us off.

Why it seems to give you comfort to think we’re destined for a future where we have ask permission to fart, I can’t fathom, but I think you’re in the minority.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And here all these years I thought that the Iranians had won when they took our people hostage! Little did I know that their release proved that we had won after all, and that Jimmy was a master diplomat.

Then there was our great victory over North Korea when we forced them to return the crew of the Pueblo. Yep, it is an entirely different world up there in Maine. Evidently someone breathed a little too deeply of that crisp, cold winter air and got frostbite on the brain.

" As the diplomatic and economic noose was tightening"

Got any details? Probably not.

"and they were putting at risk their entire effort."

At risk of what?

"The West should be united in saying that Iran’s capitulation demonstrates that hardline tactics don’t work."

And if I close my eyes, wish real hard, and click my heels together three times...
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
We can become the people who leveled Dresden again, just give us sufficient reason.
It won’t happen. First, mass murder of innocents via nuclear weapons in a war of aggression would put us in the category of the prepetrators of the holocaust. It would turn the world against us, and assure the ascendancy of China. Second, oil is our weak spot. They can choke our economy and cause regional havoc. Moreover, our military is overstretched just in Iraq.

Also, the public is divided. If you tried to launch that kind of war with a divided state, you’re sure to lose. And that division is real. The illusion of great power is the most dangerous thing Americans can hold; the world has changed, non-state actors, terrorism, secret WMD, and attacks on our economy could yield an economic disaster that would tear us apart.

Get get away from militarist fantasies. In the real world killing people isn’t something that one should rationalize from behind a keyboard, abstracting the reality of innocent Iranian lives into punishment of a leadership. In the real world we are vulnerable; even if we were evil enough to launch a massive nuclear war not absolutely necessary, we’d end up not being able to deal with the consequences. Our economy would collapse and our day in the sun would be over.

That’s reality. Anyone can do macho posturing behind a keyboard. But that’s meaningless emotion.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
How do you think NoKo continues in their behavior? Do you think it’s because they believe what WE think about them?
Actually the Bush Administration has dealt with North Korea realistically.

No one has yet answered the question of what outcome would have been better than Great Britain giving no apology, offering no change of behavior, admitting to no wrong doing, not negotiating, and having Iran back down and give in. What would you rather have happen? Sure it would have been better if they’d not arrested those sailors in the first place, but given they did what outcome would have been better than Britain not backing down, and Iran giving in?

No one seems to be willing to address that question.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Those who claim that hardliners run the show completely have no evidence to back them up.

Do wonder what Scott Erb thinks is evidence of a hardline government since he views the banning of peaceful protest, removal of independent media, torturing of political prisoners, suppression of dissent, persecution of minorites and imposition of religious law as not evidence of hardline rule.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
It won’t happen. First, mass murder of innocents via nuclear weapons in a war of aggression would put us in the category of the prepetrators of the holocaust. It would turn the world against us, and assure the ascendancy of China.
Huh?

Aside from the Anglo-Americans, everyone else seems quite happy to deal with whatever evil is out there. Most of the world did not turn on the Soviets, or the Nazis, etc., except due to their own self interest or because Anglo-Americans were leading the way.
Second, oil is our weak spot. They can choke our economy and cause regional havoc. Moreover, our military is overstretched just in Iraq.
We can take their oil if we want. And OPEC has to sell it. If they decide to sell oil to China and not the US, our navy could be a decisive factor.

Our military is stretched in Iraq since we are trying to do right there; we can break Iran without much military investment. Breaking things is easy, fixing things is difficult.
Also, the public is divided. If you tried to launch that kind of war with a divided state, you’re sure to lose. And that division is real.
Loose? A nuke war would be over quickly, we would win it before the Democrats had a chance to screw things up . . .
In the real world killing people isn’t something that one should rationalize from behind a keyboard, abstracting the reality of innocent Iranian lives into punishment of a leadership.
I take it you are not on board with our actions during WW2 . . .
In the real world we are vulnerable; even if we were evil enough to launch a massive nuclear war not absolutely necessary, we’d end up not being able to deal with the consequences. Our economy would collapse and our day in the sun would be over.
I think we could deal with the consequences. In fact, I suspect most nations would be damn polite towards us afterwards. We get more hate from being nice . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
First, mass murder of innocents via nuclear weapons in a war of aggression would put us in the category of the prepetrators of the holocaust.
See, now, there ya go - we don’t HAVE to use Nukes Doc - a B52 strike dropping good old American dumb iron bombs goes an awfully long way towards giving you a very bad day - so, you don’t, obviously, know what ArcLight was, or you wouldn’t have presumed to play the nuke card first. We USED B52s in Gulf War 1 and owned everything on the road out of Kuwait heading north to Basra.
Again, we have the weapons to wield, and they don’t all make people glow in the dark, but they’re just as thoroughly dead after we drop them.

Secondly, you don’t get the ’give us a reason to get mad enough’ thing, do you?
We can be there, in an eyeblink. It just has to be something bad enough for us to have a Pearl Harbor moment again.
And if we’re having a Pearl Harbor moment, the President is likely to make one of those "for us or against us" statements that sends the Euro’s into support or be-quiet mode so America doesn’t wonder who’s side their on, and I’m not just real worried about Hugo Chavez, or Fidel Castro.

Frankly I think China will just sit back and say "hmmmmm, hey, not us dudes...." and play the hand out on the sidelines cashing in economically, I’ll bet we’d be just as happy to use Chinese dumb bombs if we run out of our own. They’re no real friend to an Islamic Caliphate world either.

This isn’t macho - when you’ve actually done it, it ain’t braggin, and we’ve done it, twice, in the last 20 years.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
No one has yet answered the question of what outcome would have been better than Great Britain giving no apology, offering no change of behavior, admitting to no wrong doing, not negotiating, and having Iran back down and give in. What would you rather have happen? Sure it would have been better if they’d not arrested those sailors in the first place, but given they did what outcome would have been better than Britain not backing down, and Iran giving in?

No one seems to be willing to address that question.
Well, Britian essentially did nothing, it would appear.

They should have demanded the return of their people, and responded with force if that was not forthcoming. Of course, they may not have been in a position to respond with force, but that would also be a failure on Britian’s part.

One problem with your question is that you assume Iran backed down. What did they back down from?

Another problem with your question is that you know the outcome of Britian doing nothing: Iran releases the sailors. Prior to the release, that outcome wasn’t known.

But it looks to me like Iran won this round. They went into Iraq, snatched British sailors, coerced them into confessions in short order, showed them being treated well, and released them on their own terms.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I’m not sure why you think I like all that. I don’t. But you need to get practical, if someone hurts us, we’re going to hurt them back. It’s the way we are, and if they hurt us a lot, we’re going to want to hurt them a lot back, and we’re not going to care till later, when, as always, we feel bad about the dead puppies and we go in and spend a fortune to rebuild the country they inspired us to destroy.
Get get away from militarist fantasies. In the real world killing people isn’t something that one should rationalize from behind a keyboard, abstracting the reality of innocent Iranian lives into punishment of a leadership.
I’d prefer us not to kill anyone, I like us as the non-killing sorts of people we like to think we are. But we have that side to us, and we’ll use it if push comes hard enough to shove back. I’m not rationalizing it, it’s a fact.
Let’s be clear, the thousands of Iraqi’s we killed as they fled from Kuwait weren’t abstract, and I don’t see anyone here in the U.S. losing much sleep over them at the moment, and that happened just 16 or so years ago.

I’m not sure what you think we spend money on buying weapons and training and all, but we do it to teach our guys to break things, and we’re damn good at breaking things when we get it into our heads. And the rest of the world understands breaking things, because most of them, within the last 60 years, have been broken, and a lot of them, broken by the U.S. of A. And when we’re seriously angry, they usually get real quiet because, unlike you, they understand, and fear, our true capacity for violence.

Like I said, you won’t like it much, and frankly I won’t like it much, but don’t kid yourself that it can’t happen because you think we’ve all moved to some higher plane of world diplomacy due to the current situation in Iraq.
Iranians are killing Americans, today, and that’s going to be allowed to continue because we really don’t want to blow them back to the stone age, so we’ll bite the bullet and play nice, like what they’re playing at is not an act of war. But we did the same thing with the Soviets.

But just let them do something we can’t go on pretending about.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I still haven’t seen an answer to the question of what outcome would have been better. Again, Britain was firm: no negotiation, no apology, no change of behavior, but plenty of hints that action could be taken (American military maneuvers nearby, talk of increased economic sanctions, risks that the EU will cut back on their economic ties with Iran). Iran then capitulates. Not a shot fired, no needless death. I cannot see how that could possibly be considered a win for Iran. You guys are Ahmadinejad’s best friends, you’re taking a failure on his part and doing spin to make it seem like he succeeded. The Iranians (and Arabs as well) must be shaking their heads. Even when they lose some in the West think they’ve won! So again: what outcome would have been better?
I’m not sure what you think we spend money on buying weapons and training and all, but we do it to teach our guys to break things, and we’re damn good at breaking things when we get it into our heads. And the rest of the world understands breaking things, because most of them, within the last 60 years, have been broken, and a lot of them, broken by the U.S. of A. And when we’re seriously angry, they usually get real quiet because, unlike you, they understand, and fear, our true capacity for violence.
Bluntly: the nature of global politics has shifted — you’re not responding to the points I make about our economic vulnerability, and how actions against us can be taken that could devastate our country, and no military defense could stop them. You also don’t take into account how divided the country is, or how stretched the military has become. Sure we can bomb — we hit tiny Serbia with everything we could for 78 days and they finally gave in, but with their government in tact and only because Russia shifted policy to make clear they wouldn’t help them. I think you over-estimate what air power can accomplish, and it’ll be costly, and we won’t have NATO help like we did in Serbia. The Kosovo fiasco should have been a lesson in the limits of our ability to project power.

For more scroll down to February 7th on my blog (link below) on "Post-Pax Americana," or December 2006, when I start talking about how the 90s was a "decade of illusions," and have some posts about the limits of American power.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"No one seems to be willing to address that question."

We are at least as willing to address that question as you are to address ours.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Dr. Erb,

"And they could cripple us as well. And they know it."

Nonsense. There is simply no comparison between the relative power of Iran and the United States. In my opinion you vastly overestimate the economic damage that Iran could inflict on the U.S. Any damage they could cause the U.S., however severe, would be temporary. The U.S. could devastate Iran, destroying its industrial base, and inflicting damage that could not be repaired without massive external assistance — not to mention killing its leadership, crippling its military, and shutting down its air and sea commerce. All of this could be done without the use of a single nuclear weapon.

"we hit tiny Serbia with everything we could for 78 days and they finally gave in"

No, we didn’t. Again, if you actually believe that we hit Serbia with everything we could you have no understanding of what the U.S. military is capable of. We took limited actions and operated under constraints of our own choosing. In a different situation we may choose to use greater force.

"I think you over-estimate what air power can accomplish,"

And you greatly underestimate it. You confuse limited air campaigns such as that against Serbia with what is possible.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
Nonsense. There is simply no comparison between the relative power of Iran and the United States. In my opinion you vastly overestimate the economic damage that Iran could inflict on the U.S. Any damage they could cause the U.S., however severe, would be temporary. The U.S. could devastate Iran, destroying its industrial base, and inflicting damage that could not be repaired without massive external assistance — not to mention killing its leadership, crippling its military, and shutting down its air and sea commerce. All of this could be done without the use of a single nuclear weapon.
You’re thinking in 20th century terms, preparing for the last war. In reality, our militiary is vastly overstretched just with Iraq. Afghanistan is getting worse, some analysts say that war can’t be won. Moreover, any attempt to devastate Iran absent some kind of major Iranian offensive action (not just arresting some people for allegedly crossing into Iranian waters and then releasing them a few days later) would lead to a massive opposition movement here in the US. You can ridicule and insult that, but you have to admit, that is what would happen. We are a divided society. In the international community the US would be a pariah. (Note: I am assuming no major aggression from Iran; if they launched an invasion of Iraq or shot missiles at Israel, the equation would change).

Meanwhile, let’s look at our vulnerabilities. OIL. Iran sits on the straights of Hormuz where massive amounts of Saudi, Kuwaiti, Iraqi and Iranian oil flow out. If serious enough, Iran could try to block those straights (they have parts outside the straights, but I’m not sure what their pipeline capacity to those parts is). Moreover, Iran could spread unrest throughout the region, causing a huge increase in oil prices (due to inelastic demand a small cut in supply would yield a large price increase). Hezbollah could be unleashed, Iraqi Shi’ites would turn on the US (pray that if we go to war against Iran we’re out of Iraq, otherwise watch out!) Iran would be able to withstand the bombardment just as Serbia did. They are prepared, they know our capabilities, and they know the limits of airpower. Meanwhile, with the US appearing the bad guy, they’d make deals with China and Russia, who would see a change to marginalize the overreaching superpower. With our society divided, and angry over high oil prices and the resulting recession, the public would demand a retreat.

The US would no longer be the world’s sole superpower, the economic vulnerabilities globalization brings would be clear, the terrorist threat would grow as such an action would radicalize Muslims world wide, and the only question would be whether the US decline would be a collapse like that of the Soviet Union, or a slow retreat like that of Great Britain and France.

Take a look at strategic realities, man! I mean it, this is far more dangerous and our position far more precarious than your realize. Tough talk and claims we can "wipe them out" are not only based on an illusion, but ignore the limits of our power and our vulnerabilities.

That’s why I’ve decided (in my blog today) that the situation is such that we just need to get out of Iraq. The surge seems to me certain to fail, and we’re just losing lives for no purpose. The other day I cited two studies that had an alternative for Iraq, one from Dr. Juan Cole, who knows that region intimately. While those alternatives are better than what we have, it’s gotten to the point now where the situation is so bad that we’re risking far too much, with too little chance of gain, to continue. Remember, those of us against the war were warning of a situation like this. I remember being told that Iraqi oil would pay for the reparations, when we rebuild the country they’ll be glad they lost their dictator, and Iraqi sectarian differences aren’t important. People mocked the idea that Blair would be hurt by his support (some claimed he’d end up the most powerful European leader) and that this would totally eliminate Bush’s efforts to create an "ownership society" (he doesn’t mention that any more, all of his domestic ideas have been lost thanks to Iraq). At the very least you have to acknowledge that the pro-war side has been wrong so far. And looking at the news from Iraq and Afghanistan, things are pretty bleak.

Even if you don’t do it publically or in response to me, please take a self-critical look at your perspective, and avoid the emotions that politicizing the war has created. Is this really best for the US? Are you sure your position (and that of all of you who strongly have supported the war) is accurate? Are you sure you aren’t just trying to avoid cognitive dissonance by seeking any optimistic perspective and rationalizing away the negatives? I understand why many thought war necessary, and I respect the good intentions. But this is serious stuff, and we can’t let ourselves be looked into positions because of the partisan political game.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"No one seems to be willing to address that question."

We are at least as willing to address that question as you are to address ours.
You see, this is exactly the kind of stiff upper lip resolve I have come to expect around here.

We do not negotiate with Erbists.

You, Professor, must first give in to their demands, before your completely reasonable question is to be answered.
Then, and only then, are your demands given any entertainment.

+++++++++++++++

Well, Britian essentially did nothing, it would appear.

They should have demanded the return of their people, and responded with force if that was not forthcoming.
Well, first of all, Britain did demand that their hostages be released. And you don’t know what was said to the Iranian government by the British government.
Which brings us to this…
Another problem with your question is that you know the outcome of Britian doing nothing: Iran releases the sailors. Prior to the release, that outcome wasn’t known.
This is a classic example of a Rumsfeldian slip. We know that there are known unknowns, and we know that there are unknown unknowns.

Because if we venture into the “knew then what we know now”, it’s definitely a known unknown that the British sailors would have never been in that situation to begin with.
(Or is it an unknown known??? …You know what I mean.)
And I believe that once this settles down, the British people will allocate their anger back to Blair and Bush for us being there in the first place.

+++++++++++++++

My natural inclination is to give these sailors, these kids, the benefit of the doubt. However, it does raise serious questions when one sees video of the sailors playing ping pong and looking like they’re on a night out on the town rather than in a hostage situation. It’s one thing to say something that one doesn’t believe in order to save one’s life, it’s another thing to be seen laughing and watching football.

I feel as though I don’t have all of the information. I would love to talk to some of these kids and get the story from the participants themselves.

I mean, it is a known unknown what really took place before the table tennis? What was really behind the smiles?
Who knows? Maybe it was a secret signal. Maybe it was Morse code tapped out by the ping pong balls giving coded information meant for Sean Connery. Maybe.

I know that if I wanted to send a signal to my wife that I was in distress, I would step up to a foosball table and present an appearance of good times. You see, she knows that I loathe foosball. I totally suck at that game.

But if I were to appear laughing and having a good time at a billiards table or perhaps throwing darts, it would only send tells to my wife that her belief is reinforced that “we don’t spend enough time together” and that I would “rather be out drinking and having fun with your friends”.

(sigh)

So yeah, foosball it is.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
...Dr. Juan Cole, who knows that region intimately. — Erb
Oh, good grief.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
...Dr. Juan Cole, who knows that region intimately. — Erb

Oh, good grief.
Are you denying that? I know some like to engage in argumentum ad hominem against those whose views they disagree with. But Cole’s predictions, analysis and information has been proven accurate; he’s been right on most issues, the Cheneys and neo-conservatives have been wrong. That is a reality that some (an increasingly small number of) people seem to want to deny. It’s time to wake up and stare reality in the face. The issue is too important for political and rhetorical posturing; the problems facing us should unite us in efforts to find a solution rather than yield emotional partisanship.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So again: what outcome would have been better?
Iran giving back the hostages without them being able to tell the muslim world they were doing it just to show their mercy.

Some actions that could have been taken include releasing the evidence that the Brits were in Iraqi waters, British officers not smiling for the Iranian media and detaining Iranians near the Shatt-al-Arab. The economic impact could be minimized by making it clear that all oil shipments will get through, grabbing an inbound shipment would probably work best. I’m not proposing a comprehensive plan here, just pointing out that there were several options for the Brits to take that would’ve got a better result.

to the points I make about our economic vulnerability, and how actions against us can be taken that could devastate our country, and no military defense could stop them.
But military actions could be taken to do equal or greater damage to the economies of those supporting the terrorists. We didn’t even begin to hit Serbia with everything we had, we dropped bombs to disable (not completely destroy) infrastructure and killed about 500 people.
The country may be divided how how to repond to nebulous threats, it is very united on quick, decisive actions if Iran invokes a military embargo on its neighbors (sorry, blocking the Straits of Hormuz is major aggression), or actual terrorist attack on America. The Saudi government, itself threatened by terrorists (good irony) and Iran’s desire for regional dominance is unlikely to help Iran like it did before the revolution; so Iran isn’t able to hurt our economy without hurting itself.
A full release of Hezbollah would result in Israel ending Iran’s nuclear program long before the U.S. would leave Iraq, even if we started pulling troops the first day.
Recent reports show clear decline in authority and popularity of Ahmadinejad
This has absolutely no connection with hardliners in Iran holding ultimate power. Ahmadinjad is not comletely popular with the hardliners either. He is a mouthpiece that has often stated what the rulers of the country feel is true, but thay did not necessarily want those thought revealed in the context he delivered them. But has been a very successful lightning rod, diverting attention from the fact that the mullahs really control things.
At the very least you have to acknowledge that the pro-war side has been wrong so far.
Once again you confuse problems with the conduct of the war and rebuilding with the decision to go to war in the first place by completely ignoring the possible outcomes if all the information given to the administration was true.
Even if you assume evrything from the Bush adminstration was made up, the information from the Clinton administration and what Joe Wilson actually reported to the CIA said Iraq was on its way to nukes. (Thousands of UN-inventoried old WMD and truckloads of cash are still unaccounted for, I’m sure
they could not have hid anything else).
With our society divided, and angry over high oil prices and the resulting recession, the public would demand a retreat.

So we should just retreat now and get it over with so Iran looks like the premier power in the region.

Are you sure you aren’t just trying to avoid cognitive dissonance by seeking any optimistic perspective and ignoring the negatives?
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Oh, good grief.
LOL!

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Some actions that could have been taken include releasing the evidence that the Brits were in Iraqi waters, British officers not smiling for the Iranian media and detaining Iranians near the Shatt-al-Arab. The economic impact could be minimized by making it clear that all oil shipments will get through, grabbing an inbound shipment would probably work best. I’m not proposing a comprehensive plan here, just pointing out that there were several options for the Brits to take that would’ve got a better result.
I’m curious too about where, exactly, the Brits were. There are border disputes there, and they could have been in a disputed area, which of course complicate things. I think grabbing an oil shipment would have simply provoked the crisis a notch up, made it harder to solve, and would have created more international opinion against the British. Perhaps if this had dragged on more could have been done, but Iran gave in pretty quickly when hints were made that things could get hot.
But military actions could be taken to do equal or greater damage to the economies of those supporting the terrorists. We didn’t even begin to hit Serbia with everything we had, we dropped bombs to disable (not completely destroy) infrastructure and killed about 500 people.
The country may be divided how how to repond to nebulous threats, it is very united on quick, decisive actions if Iran invokes a military embargo on its neighbors (sorry, blocking the Straits of Hormuz is major aggression), or actual terrorist attack on America. The Saudi government, itself threatened by terrorists (good irony) and Iran’s desire for regional dominance is unlikely to help Iran like it did before the revolution; so Iran isn’t able to hurt our economy without hurting itself.
A full release of Hezbollah would result in Israel ending Iran’s nuclear program long before the U.S. would leave Iraq, even if we started pulling troops the first day.
I agree with a lot of what you say — only I’d point out that if we were to start a war with Iran or do something that was an existential threat to the regime, the natural deterrence mechanisms that you list would have less value and may fail completely. Right now we can deter Iran from doing very much; they are a regional power, but with limits. And frankly, I think they learned a bit about their limits in this case.
Once again you confuse problems with the conduct of the war and rebuilding with the decision to go to war in the first place by completely ignoring the possible outcomes if all the information given to the administration was true.
Even if you assume evrything from the Bush adminstration was made up, the information from the Clinton administration and what Joe Wilson actually reported to the CIA said Iraq was on its way to nukes. (Thousands of UN-inventoried old WMD and truckloads of cash are still unaccounted for, I’m sure
they could not have hid anything else).
Opponents of the war, however, noted the dangers that have come true. One can always imagine other realities. But if in May 2003 the troops started coming home and an effort wasn’t undertaken to "remake the Mideast," perhaps things could have turned out better. I don’t know. But clearly turning a military victory into a big government social engineering program hasn’t worked well.
So we should just retreat now and get it over with so Iran looks like the premier power in the region.
It isn’t all or nothing. I think we need to think realistically. If George W. Bush is JFK, we need a Nixon-Kissinger team to come in and build a mix of diplomacy and deterrence. It worked with the Soviets (and arguably detente set up a peaceful end of the Cold War). It could work here. Because I think we’re setting ourselves up for disaster if we try to impose a military solution on the Mideast. I have to agree with Gen. Odom that this has been perhaps the greatest strategic failure in American foreign policy history. And conservatives especially should know that big government social engineering programs aren’t effective — and that’s what we’re doing in Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
(re Juan Cole’s purported expertise on matters Middle Eastern)
Are you denying that? —Erb
Say that I question it.
It’s time to wake up and stare reality in the face.
Yes. Before it is hidden beneath the burqa.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Say that I question it.
Why? I can understand questioning his positions on various issues, but clearly he knows the region, knows the languages, and whether or not you agree with him, the stories and links he provides give insights into the regional media and various perspectives on a variety of issues. I mean, you can disagree with someone without having to insult them or deny that they have a lot of knowledge about an issue. I really get annoyed when either the left or the right make it seem like experts who have a different interpretation of the situation have to be personally attacked and ridiculed. That makes political debate seem more like political jihad.

It’s time to wake up and stare reality in the face.

Yes. Before it is hidden beneath the burqa.
What does that mean? I gave a lot of specific reasons why our policy needs change, and what the strategic reality is. A slogan like that makes it seem like you’re dipping into simplistic Islamophobia. But perhaps if you explain your position in clearer detail, thinking about strategic realities and capacities, I’ll understand your position better.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I really get annoyed when either the left or the right make it seem like experts who have a different interpretation of the situation have to be personally attacked and ridiculed. That makes political debate seem more like political jihad.
But not so much like political jihad that someone actually saws your head off, though, right? So, really, that’s not very much like jihad at all. Probably not worth getting all that annoyed about.
I gave a lot of specific reasons why our policy needs change, and what the strategic reality is.
Okay, I confess. I only skimmed the thread and I just plain hadn’t realized that you’d laid out “what the strategic reality is.” And now I can’t find it. What was it again?

Something about that “fantasy that Iran is some kind of evil regime”? That “we could be called a rogue state too”?

You said “our economy would collapse and our day in the sun would be over” if we did what?

I know this is really serious because you were talking about an action that "would radicalize Muslims world wide.” Hey, I for one don’t want to see Muslims get radicalized.

Help me out here, Scott. If it can answer the question of “whether the US decline would be a collapse like that of the Soviet Union, or a slow retreat like that of Great Britain and France,” then for Pete’s sake come out and say one more time “what the strategic reality is.”

Something about oil, right?

Détente? No, Straights of Hormuz. Yes?

Maybe I should just google Juan.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Maybe I should just google Juan.
LOL!

Oh, Linda, quit it ... my sides hurt.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

Help me out here, Scott. If it can answer the question of “whether the US decline would be a collapse like that of the Soviet Union, or a slow retreat like that of Great Britain and France,” then for Pete’s sake come out and say one more time “what the strategic reality is.”
Sigh. You want to avoid real discussion and just try rather lame sarcasm? I guess if it makes you feel better to dodge the real issues, and pick and choose snippets to pull out, go ahead. It does no harm, but doesn’t add anything. If you want a bit about why I’m convinced Iraq is a failure, this is from my own blog today:
Today a bomb went off in the Iraqi Parliament cafeteria, one of the most heavily protected buildings in the heavily fortified ’green zone.’ Clearly, the insurgents have a long reach. Moreover, even as some neighborhoods in Baghdad become safer than they were, the rest of Iraq seems to be unraveling, including places that the US had tamed before such as Tal Afar, and places recently more peaceful, such as the south of the country. Moreover, the insurgents have proven themselves capable of adapting very quickly, while the US military, like any big, bureaucratic organization, moves slowly, and its plans and tactics are transparent. Any early successes of the surge were simply learning opportunities for the insurgents.

There had been hope that with the Mahdi army lying low to avoid direct confrontation with American forces, al Sadr would lose clout and it would be easier to bush his movement into irrelevance. Yet in calling for mass protests he shows he still commands respect, and there is evidence that his militia and others continue training in Iran, to be ready to act once the US leaves. The history of ethnic conflict suggests that the hatreds aroused by the brutal ethnic killing of the past years won’t simply go away with the pacification of a few Baghdad neighborhoods.

On top of that, the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan continues. The Bush Administration, trying to figure out how to handle these two conflicts has tried to recruit a respected retired military leader to become a kind of ’War Czar,’ to coordinate efforts. After all, why should the Commander in Chief accept any such responsibility? Alas, those approached for the job sensed "mission impossible," and despite appeals to their patriotic duty, said no. All military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are having their tours of duty extended — this for an already overburdened military, suffering high levels of mental illness and fatigue through multiple tours of duty, and no real progress towards success.

The news from Iraq is grim; the US military is said to be spending millions to pay off the families of innocents killed (most Iraqis would say murdered) by American military forces. Yet the sectarian violence remains strong, even in Baghdad where the surge is supposed to bring stability. The death of innocents at the hands of Americans, while far fewer than those killed in the Iraqi on Iraqi violence, are symbolic of the problem. While sometimes anger and frustration lead to blatant murder, American soldiers usually only kill innocents because they don’t know they are innocent — they fear attacks or see something they think suspicious. This means first that there is no real trust between the Iraqi people and American forces, and second it assures continuing and growing resentment by Iraqis of the outside force. Thus, with two conflicts, an over extended military, continued sectarian and insurgent violence and no end in sight, there is very little to be optimistic about. When Senator McCain talks about ’strolling through the market’ the picture shows him surrounded by security — dozens of soldiers, plus armored vehicles. When Representative Pence compares it to a market in Indiana, he looks utterly ridiculous; trying to claim progress in Iraq quickly leads politicians into the realm of the surreal. Even conservative Robert Novak claims news from Baghdad shows that the surge will not work.

General Pretorius notes that the surge can only work if it buys time for the government to develop a political solution; alas, any political scientist studying comparative politics will tell you that the level of corruption and ethnic division in Iraq and Iraqi governmental agencies is not something that gets fixed with a few laws — and that with this kind of corruption grand compromises and political deals are usually cosmetic, there is no reason to be optimistic that al Maliki will or even truly wants to succeed in the way the US hopes. And removing him and replacing him with a pro-American strongman like Allawi would only enhance the legitimacy of the insurgency, and risk turning Shi’ites massively against the government and the US.

Maybe all hell will break loose when we leave, maybe not. All the choices seem bad. But there is something irresponsible and arrogant about playing with the lives of both our soldiers and the Iraqi people in a desire not to have to accept a political failure. The policy in Iraq has failed. It’s time to come home.

Now, if you seriously confront some of these issues, I’ll take time and answer your questions and patiently guide you through my perspective on this, recognizing that it’s OK if you disagree — disagreements are good in politics, that’s how we learn. Or, if you are just defending your perspective through the means of ad hominems and sarcasm, I’ll just shrug and continue to post content.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dr. Erb,
You’re thinking in 20th century terms, preparing for the last war. In reality, our militiary is vastly overstretched just with Iraq. Afghanistan is getting worse, some analysts say that war can’t be won. Moreover, any attempt to devastate Iran absent some kind of major Iranian offensive action (not just arresting some people for allegedly crossing into Iranian waters and then releasing them a few days later) would lead to a massive opposition movement here in the US. You can ridicule and insult that, but you have to admit, that is what would happen. We are a divided society. In the international community the US would be a pariah. (Note: I am assuming no major aggression from Iran; if they launched an invasion of Iraq or shot missiles at Israel, the equation would change).
No, I am thinking in terms of our current military capabilities vis a vis Iran. You are arguing against actions I never proposed. I was simply pointing out what is possible in military terms, not advocating a crippling attack in response to the British hostage situation. I am not disagreeing with you that such an attack might be politically unfeasible at the currrent time. I am responding purely to what I see as your drastic misunderstanding of the military balance of power.
Meanwhile, let’s look at our vulnerabilities. OIL. Iran sits on the straights of Hormuz where massive amounts of Saudi, Kuwaiti, Iraqi and Iranian oil flow out. If serious enough, Iran could try to block those straights (they have parts outside the straights, but I’m not sure what their pipeline capacity to those parts is). Moreover, Iran could spread unrest throughout the region, causing a huge increase in oil prices (due to inelastic demand a small cut in supply would yield a large price increase). Hezbollah could be unleashed, Iraqi Shi’ites would turn on the US (pray that if we go to war against Iran we’re out of Iraq, otherwise watch out!) Iran would be able to withstand the bombardment just as Serbia did. They are prepared, they know our capabilities, and they know the limits of airpower.
Again, in my opinion this is a massive overestimation of the power of Iran, and a great underestimation of U.S. power. Should Iran attempt to do such things, the political calculus that restrains the U.S. military might change dramatically. Again, you compare our limited effort against Serbia with what we might choose to do to Iran. There is no comparison, and even making one demonstrates that you do not understand the extent of the damage U.S. air and seapower is capable of inflicting, should it be unleashed. The situation in the Balkans was at best peripheral to U.S. interests. As you correctly point out, the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf region is far greater. Therefore it is possible that a far greater military effort might be mounted against Iran. The U.S. Army may be a bit overstretched. The air force and the navy are not.
Meanwhile, with the US appearing the bad guy, they’d make deals with China and Russia, who would see a change to marginalize the overreaching superpower. With our society divided, and angry over high oil prices and the resulting recession, the public would demand a retreat.
It is unlikely that China or Russia would directly intervene in a conflict between Iran and the U.S. And since we are enaging in pure speculation anyway, it is impossible to predict how the U.S. public would react. They might just as well demand an escalation of the war and more vigorous efforts instead of retreat.
The US would no longer be the world’s sole superpower, the economic vulnerabilities globalization brings would be clear, the terrorist threat would grow as such an action would radicalize Muslims world wide, and the only question would be whether the US decline would be a collapse like that of the Soviet Union, or a slow retreat like that of Great Britain and France.
This is a non-sequitur. There is no reasonable basis for concluding that a hypothetical war with Iran would somehow lead to U.S. decline.
Take a look at strategic realities, man! I mean it, this is far more dangerous and our position far more precarious than your realize. Tough talk and claims we can "wipe them out" are not only based on an illusion, but ignore the limits of our power and our vulnerabilities.
I would encourage you to do the same. You apparently lack any understanding of the balance of power, both militarily and strategically, between Iran and the U.S. I haven’t written anything about "wiping them out," so I’m not sure what you are talking about. And in any event you apparently have completely misunderstood what I was saying.
please take a self-critical look at your perspective, and avoid the emotions that politicizing the war has created.
You might want to take your own advice here again.
 
Written By: DavidC
URL: http://
I think grabbing an oil shipment would have simply provoked the crisis a notch up, made it harder to solve, and would have created more international opinion against the British.
That’s why I said they should make it clear that all oil shipments would get through. There are a number of shipments going to/from Iran that aren’t oil tankers.
Right now we can deter Iran from doing very much; they are a regional power, but with limits. And frankly, I think they learned a bit about their limits in this case.
We all agree on they learned about their limits. They learned they could grab hostages from Iraqi waters.
But if in May 2003 the troops started coming home and an effort wasn’t undertaken to "remake the Mideast," perhaps things could have turned out better.
Maybe yes. This statement is far different than saying those who wanted to go to war were wrong from the beginning. The moderaters of this site and most of the commenters have said that mistakes have been made in post-invasion Iraq.

But clearly turning a military victory into a big government social engineering program hasn’t worked well.
There is a mistaken impression that the administration expects to use the Army’s presence to change Iraqi society to the point that they have a peaceful, tolerant society with a security situation mirroring our own. While that would be an ideal situation, it is not one of the requirements for the administration to draw down troop levels. The real goal for the Army is an elected government strong enough to withstand attempts to topple it and enough security that people mostly go on with their lives depite the danger level (akin to the Isrealis leading their lives despite intefadahs). On the social engineering side, this just requires the significant majority to realize that they are better off economically and socially at peace than having a civil war. Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites don’t have to mix with each other (outside of a government quarter in Baghdad), and people on both sides agree that many Iraqis are tired of 26 years of war. It is not necessary for the violence to end, just that the government have enough supporters to withstand it.
But there is something irresponsible and arrogant about playing with the lives of both our soldiers and the Iraqi people in a desire not to have to accept a political failure
You seem to be under the impression that the ultimate goal for the insurgrents and their supporters is getting the US out of Iraq. If the insurgents are mainly led by Saddam’s old cronies, then killing Iraqi Kurds and Shia is their standard MO. If its led by outside forces, then they are international terrorists, and handing them Iraq plays with the lives of all Americans, and democracies around the world. They are most likely a mix of both. Either way, pulling out now guarantees more death for the Iraqi people. Yes, the policy comes at a price. But even if the central government collapses, if the South and the Kurds are trained up enough to survive on their own (without the south turning to Iran for security) then the number of lives saved will far outweigh the number lost.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
disagreements are good in politics, that’s how we learn
Coming from you, Professor, that’s really rich. If I were to think that you actually meant that to include yourself, I would attempt to convice you that some of your views are incorrect. However, I do not think such a thing.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
No, I am thinking in terms of our current military capabilities vis a vis Iran. You are arguing against actions I never proposed. I was simply pointing out what is possible in military terms, not advocating a crippling attack in response to the British hostage situation. I am not disagreeing with you that such an attack might be politically unfeasible at the currrent time. I am responding purely to what I see as your drastic misunderstanding of the military balance of power.
In traditional military terms we can defeat any army and overthrow any government. I am questioning whether that is what war will really be in the future; Iran will retreat into an insurgency and focus on our oil vulnerability, and the use of terrorism. That may be especially effective after the government has officially fallen, and the chaos that may take over might be a breeding ground for more dangerous organizations with no accountability to any one state. My real concern is terror threats emerging from Africa driven not by Islamic extremism but poverty, but that’s still (probably) a couple decades off.
Again, in my opinion this is a massive overestimation of the power of Iran, and a great underestimation of U.S. power. Should Iran attempt to do such things, the political calculus that restrains the U.S. military might change dramatically. Again, you compare our limited effort against Serbia with what we might choose to do to Iran. There is no comparison, and even making one demonstrates that you do not understand the extent of the damage U.S. air and seapower is capable of inflicting, should it be unleashed. The situation in the Balkans was at best peripheral to U.S. interests. As you correctly point out, the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf region is far greater. Therefore it is possible that a far greater military effort might be mounted against Iran. The U.S. Army may be a bit overstretched. The air force and the navy are not
I do not agree that we could do that much more damage; what exactly are you talking about. We used massive air power against Iraq in 1991, but the weapons inspection regime destroyed more Iraqi arms than the war did (to be sure, there has been a lot of technological advances since then). I’ve got some old articles somewhere about air power...International Security (I think from around 2001) had an article by Daryl Press, and a few others, that make a very different claim about air power. Perhaps if you could be clear on what the capacity is that would help. I’ll look for my sources.

I agree that China and Russia are unpredictable, but they would use the war in a way to strengthen themselves.

You apparently lack any understanding of the balance of power, both militarily and strategically, between Iran and the U.S.
It’s usually best to avoid charging someone of lacking any understanding — that’s always an overstatement. The key to the balance of power is not just the military strategy, but also the political and economic factors that go into the calculation. In 2003 the US vastly overestimated its strategic position in going to war against Iraq; Iran may be overestimating its position now (and how they had to cave on the British sailor crisis may be a sign they realize it).

Iran’s favor:
1. The US is in Iraq in an unpopular war. Iran can help militias and the insurgency and bleed the US at a low cost (much like the Soviets could with Vietnam). They’ll continue this as long as its effective.
2. Iran as part of the Muslim world: attacks against Iran, despite the fact they are Shi’ite, would have a ripple effect throughout the Muslim world, and weaken/threaten American interests.
3. The resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran almost fought a war against the Taliban in the late nineties, they love seeing NATO and their enemies engaged in a conflict with no clear end in sight.
4. Oil. Iran not only gains a lot of oil money (a crisis helps them), but they also recognize that oil is the weak spot of the western world. One horrid oil crisis (esp. if peak oil theory is at all close to accurate) could create a major recession that could cause unrest and discord in western states. They certainly have plans to use that weapon, but it would also hurt them, so it would be a ’last resort’ weapon (though al qaeda would have no such qualms about trying to find a way to initiate an oil crisis).
5. Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s summer showing (which was another demonstration of the weakness of air power, by the way) has sent shock waves through Israel, and Iran knows it. Yet they also don’t want to overplay this hand. For all the anti-Israeli bombast from Ahmadinejad, the Iranians aren’t Arabs, and the Arab-Palestinian issue is less important to them when push comes to shove. Yet they see strategic advantage in manipulating the issue at times.
6. America is divided internally, and thus weakened on the world stage (though this could change should a more popular President emerge after 2008 — a Hegel might be especially effective).

America’s favor:
1. Strong military power, they could disrupt Iranian shipping and oil production, as well attack Iranian infrastructure. Air power has its limits, but can do damage.
2. Potentially a strong alliance base; the Bush Administration has been doing a decent job trying to rebuild ties that were damaged in 2002-03, but NATO is stretched militarily as well.
3. Advanced intelligence ability, with covert operations. There can be damage done to Iran in ways we don’t even realize.
4. Potential ability to manipulate Persian-Arab rivalries (though the Saudi friendliness to Iran and hostility to the US recently is troubling).
5. A divided Iraq. Even in government pragmatists battle hardliners, and the public probably will vote Ahmadinejad out of office in 2009 — his hardline group lost the important battle for the Council of Experts which will choose the next Supreme Leader. Iran may be not be a true democracy, but it has some real democratic components.
6. Economic/financial clout — the ability to potentially harm Iranian assets world wide.

Looking at it as a whole, I think it’s clear that no one has a true commanding position, and neither Iran nor the US has an interest in all out war. That is good, they both can potentially be status quo states able to develop diplomatic solutions.

I may be wrong here, and I look forward to your analysis.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You seem to be under the impression that the ultimate goal for the insurgrents and their supporters is getting the US out of Iraq. If the insurgents are mainly led by Saddam’s old cronies, then killing Iraqi Kurds and Shia is their standard MO. If its led by outside forces, then they are international terrorists, and handing them Iraq plays with the lives of all Americans, and democracies around the world. They are most likely a mix of both. Either way, pulling out now guarantees more death for the Iraqi people. Yes, the policy comes at a price. But even if the central government collapses, if the South and the Kurds are trained up enough to survive on their own (without the south turning to Iran for security) then the number of lives saved will far outweigh the number lost.
I believe our efforts there will not yield a stable Iraqi government, and the more active we are the more we incite further anti-Americanism and create recruitment opportunities for terror groups. We know Haditha and Abu Ghraib; Arab TV shows videos of alleged atrocities daily. True or not, it has an impact. Most Iraqis believe it is legitimate to target Americans. I do not believe that staying can achieve the result, and could actually make things worse by assuring that groups against stability remain strong. Therefore, I am skeptical that things will be worse if we leave compared to if we stay, and I do not believe that remaining in Iraq the way we are is in the national interest. After all, to stay until successful would require a long commitment — the war is already rejected by most Americans. You can’t win if the country isn’t behind the fighting.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Iraqi Shi’ites would turn on the US (pray that if we go to war against Iran we’re out of Iraq, otherwise watch out!)
Most Iraqis believe it is legitimate to target Americans.
Even if all Sunnis already thought we were legitimate targets (simply not true) the Kurds don’t believe we are legitimate targets. Please make up your mind whether the Shia have turned on us or not.
If the Shia believe we are legitimate targets, but haven’t fully turned on us that in itself would be proof that they have made exactly the progress I said we are looking for. (Iraqis that hate another element in their country but are willing to work with them)
I do not believe that staying can achieve the result, and could actually make things worse by assuring that groups against stability remain strong.

Only if you beleive that the groups opposing stability receive most of their support from Iraqis that would be happy to allow the government to remain and only want the US out, as opposed to any comination of Ba’athists or foreign terrorists.
After all, to stay until successful would require a long commitment — the war is already rejected by most Americans.
No, the conduct strategy was rejected by most Americans. If the war were rejected by most Americans, Congress would be able to vote to end it now without suffering any political fallout, but they haven’t even attempted a transparent vote to end the war. Every day Nancy Pelosi makes the news, it gets harder for the media outlets that helped put her in power to cover for her.
the more active we are the more we incite further anti-Americanism and create recruitment opportunities for terror groups.

And handing Iraq over to the the terrorists wouldn’t create recruitment for them? As you mentioned, they show alleged atrocities daily. That started long before the invasion of Iraq. There is no need of our presence in the Middle East for the muslim media to create anti-American news reports. If you want to improve the US standing in the Muslim State Media (MSM), we would need to start bombing Israel tomorrow, and we’d have to do it without injuring any of the Muslims that live in Israel.

 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Even if all Sunnis already thought we were legitimate targets (simply not true) the Kurds don’t believe we are legitimate targets. Please make up your mind whether the Shia have turned on us or not
I’m just going by the polls. Al-Sadr and his militia/supporters are all Shi’ite, you know. They are also vehemently anti-American.
Only if you beleive that the groups opposing stability receive most of their support from Iraqis that would be happy to allow the government to remain and only want the US out, as opposed to any comination of Ba’athists or foreign terrorists.
Most of the insurgents are Iraqis, and most of the violence is Iraqi sectarian. I’ve seen no credible evidence that foreign fighters are the majority, and a lot of evidence that Iraqis of all stripes don’t like the foreign fighters who are there. Four years of deteriorating circumstances speaks poorly for claims that somehow we have the capacity to fix the situation or create stability. We need the humility to recognize reality and say we can’t — this is one job we can’t do, because it’s not our job.
No, the conduct strategy was rejected by most Americans. If the war were rejected by most Americans, Congress would be able to vote to end it now without suffering any political fallout, but they haven’t even attempted a transparent vote to end the war. Every day Nancy Pelosi makes the news, it gets harder for the media outlets that helped put her in power to cover for her.
Congressional approval is up, the President remains unpopular. The war is rejected by over half the American public, the surge by even more. Face it, this war is unpopular. People aren’t sure of how to end it, but the longer it goes on, the more you’ll see that pressure build.
And handing Iraq over to the the terrorists wouldn’t create recruitment for them? As you mentioned, they show alleged atrocities daily. That started long before the invasion of Iraq. There is no need of our presence in the Middle East for the muslim media to create anti-American news reports. If you want to improve the US standing in the Muslim State Media (MSM), we would need to start bombing Israel tomorrow, and we’d have to do it without injuring any of the Muslims that live in Israel.
Handing Iraq to the terrorists? Hardly. The foreign fighters are an unwelcome minority. As soon as we’re gone the insurgents (and militias) will turn against them completely.

What exactly is our national interest in Iraq? What is worth the cost in lives and money? We’re creating more terrorists by our actions, we’re the outside invader, trying to control the region, they think for oil. The terrorists love that we’re stuck in an Iraqi quagmire, it helps them recruit. What does it do for us?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dr Erb - regarding your entire stance and underestimation of the differences between what we did in Serbia and what we can do...

Heh - I should have realized, dude, you live for this stuff. It’s like air to you.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Most of the insurgents are Iraqis, and most of the violence is Iraqi sectarian.
Then the US leaving Iraq can do nothing but worsen the situation.
Handing Iraq to the terrorists? Hardly. The foreign fighters are an unwelcome minority. As soon as we’re gone the insurgents (and militias) will turn against them completely.

Umm.. You’re implying that the insurgents don’t count as terrorists. If there isn’t a significant number of foreign militia, and the insurgents aren’t terrorists, who is setting off the bombs?
The terrorists love that we’re stuck in an Iraqi quagmire, it helps them recruit.
Leaving so it looks like they’ve driven us off would help them recruit even more.
What exactly is our national interest in Iraq?
You don’t beleive the connection to terrorism, but there are still other, valid reasons:
A) We’ve always rebuilt countries that we’ve defeated. Italy didn’t border a Soviet puppet state, but we rebuilt it along with Germany and Japan after WWII. Rebulding stabilized the countries, gave us a trading partner, discouraged invasion from nearby military powers and it was the ethical thing to do.
B) I seem to remember somebody saying that we were really vulnerable to oil supply shortages. And that they key figure in the insurgency is a man currently living in Iran. From the arguments you’ve made here, giving Iran control of more oil would be against US interests.
What is worth the cost in lives and money?
The US lives and money that would be lost by letting whoever is supplying the insurgency direct their support to targets outside Iraq. The money saved from preventing Iran from getting a vastly larger supply of oil. The lives of Iraqis that would be lost if the situation turned into a full civil war between the three main factions (and the damage to our economy that would cause).
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Another answer to the question of what would’ve been better from a much better writer than I: (via LGF)
A great and sad column from Victor Davis Hanson today: The Post-west.
I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.

I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.

NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a “disproportionate” nature.

In this apparition of mine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in Syria at the time, would lecture the Assad regime that there would be consequences to its serial murdering of democratic reformers in Lebanon, to fomenting war with Israel by means of its surrogates, and to sending terrorists to destroy the nascent constitutional government in Iraq.

She would add that the United States could never be friends with an illegitimate dictatorship that does its best to destroy the only three democracies in the region. And then our speaker would explain to Iran that a U.S. Congresswoman would never detour to Tehran to dialogue with a renegade government that had utterly ignored U.N. non-proliferation mandates and daily had the blood of Americans on its hands.

Fellow Democrats like John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid would add that, as defenders of the liberal tradition of the West, they were not about to call a retreat before extremist killers who behead and kidnap, who blow up children and threaten female reformers and religious minorities, and who have begun using poison gas, all in an effort to annihilate voices of tolerance in Iraq.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Then the US leaving Iraq can do nothing but worsen the situation.
No, it may make it easier for the two sides to get along, now they are trying to use the US to serve their interests. Regional powers also would be more likely to get involved to stop a regional civil war. So it’s not clear that the US leaving will make things worse.

Umm.. You’re implying that the insurgents don’t count as terrorists.
Insurgents aren’t terrorists unless they are attacking innocent Iraqis. An insurgent attack on the US military is not terrorism by definition. Terrorism is defined by the government as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." Attacking military personnel is by definition not terrorism.
You don’t beleive the connection to terrorism, but there are still other, valid reasons:
There is a connection; I think that terrorists are aided by our presence there, and would be harmed if we weren’t having so many resources being drained by Iraq. The terrorists are helped that we are a divided nation, and that our military is overstretched and can’t be more active in Afghanistan. If we left, the Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ites would both be against the foreign fighters.

A) We’ve always rebuilt countries that we’ve defeated. Italy didn’t border a Soviet puppet state, but we rebuilt it along with Germany and Japan after WWII. Rebulding stabilized the countries, gave us a trading partner, discouraged invasion from nearby military powers and it was the ethical thing to do.
That is a very noble, honorable position, but it assumes that we have the capacity to rebuild and stabilize Iraq. My argument, though, is that such an effort is doomed to fail; we’ve already thrown massive amounts of money and aid, and it hasn’t worked. If I thought we could rebuild and stabilize Iraq without having consequences worse than staying, I’d support it.
B) I seem to remember somebody saying that we were really vulnerable to oil supply shortages. And that they key figure in the insurgency is a man currently living in Iran. From the arguments you’ve made here, giving Iran control of more oil would be against US interests.
I’m not sure about a key figure in the insurgency living in Iran — some key militia people live there, but most of them aren’t true insurgents (the insurgents are mostly Sunni and generally anti-Iranian). I doubt leaving Iraq will give Iran control of more oil; and oil has to be sold to be useful to a country!

As to the other post of the Victor Hanson piece: I disagree with his world view that sees essentially a clash of civilization, with the West in a struggle to hold on to our identity and prosperity against an almost Hitlerian enemy. As pointed out above, Iran is a regional power, but there are deterrence factors and limits on what Iran can do (including a regional Sunni Arab vs. Shi’ite Persian balance). I talked about this on my blog on April 11th. Hanson, in essence, paints a picture of what would happen if everyone in the West shared his perspective. But if we don’t see this as an epic struggle (or, in my case, I am concerned it could become that kind of clash if we don’t alter course, and that kind of clash would be harmful to us as well as them), then the situation is defined differently, and options weighted differently. Unfortunately in the yelling and insults between the pro-war and anti-war groups, the key issues often get hidden by emotion and political calculation.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What is our national interst in Iarq? A) We’ve always rebuilt countries that we’ve defeated. Italy didn’t border a Soviet puppet state, but we rebuilt it along with Germany and Japan after WWII. Rebulding stabilized the countries, gave us a trading partner, discouraged invasion from nearby military powers and it was the ethical thing to do.
That is a very noble, honorable position, but it assumes that we have the capacity to rebuild and stabilize Iraq. My argument, though, is that such an effort is doomed to fail; we’ve already thrown massive amounts of money and aid, and it hasn’t worked. If I thought we could rebuild and stabilize Iraq without having consequences worse than staying, I’d support it.
National interests don’t change based on whether the plan to execute them has succeeded

Both from Scott:
Al-Sadr and his militia/supporters are all Shi’ite, you know. They are also vehemently anti-American.
I’m not sure about a key figure in the insurgency living in Iran — some key militia people live there, but most of them aren’t true insurgents (the insurgents are mostly Sunni and generally anti-Iranian).
In one post you bring up Al-sadr as a key figure, in another you claim he and his group aren’t all that important.

Another two from Scott
Most of the insurgents are Iraqis, and most of the violence is Iraqi sectarian.
Insurgents aren’t terrorists unless they are attacking innocent Iraqis.An insurgent attack on the US military is not terrorism by definition.
If most of the violence doesn’t count as insurgency, then you have to agree with my original points on leaving Iraq for the terrorists.
Oil. Iran not only gains a lot of oil money (a crisis helps them), but they also recognize that oil is the weak spot of the western world
I doubt leaving Iraq will give Iran control of more oil; and oil has to be sold to be useful to a country!
Your arguments and assumptions disagree with each other within this post. Please start with one set of assumptions (about a situation, not Bush).
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
I’m not sure about a key figure in the insurgency living in Iran — some key militia people live there, but most of them aren’t true insurgents (the insurgents are mostly Sunni and generally anti-Iranian).

In one post you bring up Al-sadr as a key figure, in another you claim he and his group aren’t all that important.
I don’t consider al-Sadr to be an insurgent.

If most of the violence doesn’t count as insurgency, then you have to agree with my original points on leaving Iraq for the terrorists.
Only if the choice is either insurgent or terrorist. Most are involved in a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war.

And if you would read my posts carefully, you’d note that I said Iran would only use oil as a weapon as a last resort; if confronted with an existential threat. It is our weak spot and they know it. But they definitely prefer to profit from our addiction.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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