Iran to US, Israel: I want you to do it.

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Anyone here who watched The Dark Knight, or saw the trailers, remembers the scene of a beaten, broken Joker, facing off against the protagonist, begging Batman to kill him. Iran’s ruling elite are that joker, and Israel and the US are the ones who have to ignore the provocation to attack. Why? There is no way to win if we attack; any attack we lose, whereas if we restrain ourselves, we stand a good chance of winning.

Iran is not a burgeoning powerhouse, regardless of what we may perceive in our paranoia. Their revolution is in its second generation, and it shows. The regime continues to exist through violence, as there is clearly a deep divide between the young people of Iran and their leaders – Ahmadinejad’s re-election was evidence of that. They are struggling from painful sanctions, their closest regional allies are facing a protracted civil conflict, and their unemployment rate rivals that of Portugal. Having a nuclear weapon will not solve these problems; indeed, moving to actually build a weapon will hurt their international standing even further, and since such a weapon will be practically unusable, it won’t help them out much on the strategic front, either.

And so, their only hope? A US or Israeli attack on their nuclear installations. All the sudden, Iran is famous not for supporting Assad but opposing Netanyahu; the violence they inflict on their own citizens will be eclipsed by the violence visited onto them by the outside world. Overnight their domestic and international political fortunes will be reversed. And since the US lacks both the will and ability to occupy Iran, the ruling regime can be almost assured that it will not only survive the onslaught, but emerge with a renewed strength, zeal, and legitimacy in the eyes of their own people and their neighbors, while quite the opposite would take place with the US and Israel.

But what if we wait ‘too long’, what will happen? Probably very little. After Pakistan got nuclear weapons, after North Korea got nuclear weapons…little changed in terms of balance. True, nukes would be a substantial deterrent to an American attack on Iran, but that isn’t advisable anyway. Iran couldn’t reasonably use these weapons without consigning themselves to oblivion. Their insistence that their program is peaceful will be exploded, their diplomatic position will be weakened, their economic woes multiplied, and their people no easier to placate (again, look at Pakistan). In the end, an Israeli or American attack on Iran will be far more useful to the ruling regime in Iran than a nuclear weapon. We need to see that they don’t get one.

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The Polish Wolf

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Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

"Why exactly is Iran regarded as such a colossal threat? The question is rarely discussed, but it is not hard to find a serious answer — though not, as usual, in the fevered pronouncements. The most authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and the intelligence services in their regular reports to Congress on global security. They report that Iran does not pose a military threat. Its military spending is very low even by the standards of the region, minuscule of course in comparison with the U.S. Iran has little capacity to deploy force. Its strategic doctrines are defensive, designed… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

Mark – the reasons listed above are exactly why I think Iran wants to be attacked. Like Chomsky points out, developing a weapon actually doesn't doesn't do them as much good strategically as the US might fear. If they develop a nuclear weapon, they are on the path to becoming North Korea – prickly and unassailable, but limited in influence. If they withstand an American or Israeli attack, however, they can achieve the sort of regional influence they seem to be searching for – similar to what Hezbollah achieved, but on a much, much larger scale. This is precisely why,… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

This is most interesting: You supposedly represent the "left" side of our spectrum! You look exactly like the right side! You fabricate meaningless differences between Bush and Obama, as if either had influence, and take pride that your guy now sits atop the roost and is changing things. But there is no change! Now you tell me that you have gravitas, helped Kinzer prepare a lecture – that is how you are validating your argument here. It's an appeal to authority. Your own. I challenge it. I could easily be a cheerleader for the empire too. You've got the easy… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"gravitas" My gravitas revolves entirely around whatever positive effect I have in the lives of my students. I would love to be professionally involved in foreign policy, as I have and continue to study it. But ultimately the reason I want to be involved is the potential for improving people's lives, and so far I've observed a the effect I have on my students is more than satisfying enough for me; I mention my brief involvement with Mr. Kinzer merely to emphasize that I have studied the history and know what I'm talking about. "What power you have, and I… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

Yes, it is easy to occupy the anti-American side of the debate where virtually every salary depends on patriotism. I forgot how easy it is. And yes, I'm taking the easy side by admiring a man and his work who is not even published in mainstream media here in the land of the free. All of your words above are weak defense. I have landed a few punches. You said exactly nothing of substance. You basically wrapped yourself in your students. Are they critical thinkers? Do you assign Chomsky? I'd suggest duties of intellectuals. It is not to suck up… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"Yes, it is easy to occupy the anti-American side of the debate where virtually every salary depends on patriotism. " Really? Is that how Noam Chomsky earns his salary at an American Institution? His position has pretty much shut him out of the mainstream, right? That's why he's one of the top ten most cited sources of all time? I did nothing to wrap myself in my students but say that they are currently the sole effect I am having on the world. I have no effect on foreign policy – for that matter, I have next to no effect… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

Chomsky is tenured. That system allows for freedom of thought, and is the only reason he is still employed. iI didn't work for Ward Churchill, so chill with me. Chomsky is highly regarded outside of the empire, but hardly exists inside except among the curious and liberated, and he had a lot to do with my own liberation. I stumbled upon him during a period of searching and found him to say things, express ideas, that are not said or expressed anywhere else. the "unipolar" system that you support is hardly a system. It is a power structure, and to… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"Chomsky is highly regarded outside of the empire" I think you should go to college in the 21st century, Mark. A lot of your perceptions of intellectualism may have been accurate when your own political beliefs were being formed, but right now Chomsky is well regarded in the United States as a political theorist. On the other hand, in much Europe (I believe this is the same throughout the world, but I'm not sure) Chomsky is admired as a linguist (though a somewhat outdated one), and only secondarily as a political thinker. "the "unipolar" system that you support is hardly… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

You've simply taken history and woven into a tapestry of your own design, bringing in some impressive language, I might add. One big difference between you and and Kaley – you write well. The bi-polar system was not more violent, that is, the US was far more restrained outside its sphere, and confined its violence to those areas where it did not risk Soviet intervention. 1989, for one country alone, unleashed the US to starve half a million kids,, destroy its civilian infrastructure, invade, kill 1.2 million, cause 2 million to flee, justify open use of torture and run beastly… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"That's but one country, and none of it would have happened had the Russian bear not retreated, releasing the Kraken. " "With the "loss""of China in 1948, the US and France attacked Vietnam, and when France withdrew, the US attacked, killed 3-4 million people, used chemicals warfare, attacked neighboring countries, supervised an Indonesian massacre, there was no force capable of stopping us". First of all, your numbers, Mark. I'm not going to wade into the numbers with you – suffice to say that any number you pull out is based on a loose reading of statistics, and assumes that Saddam… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

When my theories don't make sense, I claim that in fifty years they will? Now you're making shit up! You're grab bagging. That's ridiculous! You're backwards! It's bizarro world. That, and you've now gone sanctimonious on me. Now it's all about the kids. I hope the kids are all right. Do you have the kids read the critics of empire? The cheerleaders are easy to come by, have nice titles and put out volumes of literature, predictable and boring. I studied such matters, I took the classes and did the dance, but in the reams of materials was an essay,… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"I claim that in fifty years they will? " I remember two examples of this strategy – first, when confronted with evidence that human rights and human development in Karzai's Afghanistan far outpaced that of the Taliban. You responded that in fifty years we'll see that Karzai is just as bad as the Taliban. Then, last week, you repeated your argument that America intervened in Libya because Gaddafi had tried to replace the petrodollar. I pointed out that according to your own evidence, Libya was on our 'hit list' well before that proposal, but that we had sold military equipment… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

I conceded the point on Libya, not a major point, but a perceptive on on your part in noticing that while Libya was on a hit list in 2001 (according to Wesley Clark, by the way), it did not get taken down until 2011. It's complicated, not meaning that I see things you don't, but rather that I don't understand it all – not even close. I am on the outisde looking in, and the War Department does not easily give up its secrets. I don't begin to beleive the bullshit reasons for the invasion, but do know that opportunism… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"That is the most absurd rationalization I have ever witnessed. You have just set aside international law, Nuremberg, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva, and reduced the world to Nixonian simplicity" Those things divide into two groups – those that are unimportant, and those that are important – but both hold their positions through their legal status. The Declaration of Human Rights is important, but not in any legal sense. Legally, it's unenforceable, particularly because it is not given precedence over sovereignty. Are those rights still to be valued? Absolutely, but on their own merits, not… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

"virtually every reasonable foreign policy theorist agrees that lobbying by various groups in the United States, particular pro-Israel ones but others as well, has a large effect on foreign affairs." I am kind of laughing here, and the words that come to mind are "All the Helen's in the world agree" from Kids in the Hall. That is an appeal to authority. Please stipulate with me that there is no natural law so that for all of us to get along, we have to invent concepts and then abide by them,  setting up agencies to enforce them. So we have… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"Once done, we learn to live in that manner and enforce it by means of punishment. " Yes. Now, since it is impossible to punish major powers that violate sovereignty, it can't be considered a 'law'. It is applied to Iraq, but not the US, to Vietnam, but not Russia – it is utterly unbinding. Nuremberg was no precedent, because it was based not on international law, it was based on the will of the winners. So, sovereignty doesn't have the authority provided by tradition or precedent. As I've noted repeatedly, it provides no provable material benefits to the people… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

You can vote for Humpty Dumpty in November if you want. It makes as much difference. That's the whole point. Konrad Kellen, in his introduction to Ellul's work on propaganda, noted that the idea that better educated people were immune to state propaganda was false, and said that in fact intellectuals were the easiest targets in that they literally "self indoctrinate." I am seeing this process at work here. As an Obamabat, you are twisting the world to conform to your idea that he somehow brought change to the scene, that he's running kinder wars. It's gymnastics, and like Orwell's… Read more »

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

"And it's a far cry from saying "shit happens" to "I support shit happening since I'm rather powerless to stop it."" I support less shit. Obama has demonstrated a great deal less of it. Therefore, I support him. Where he to engage in the same shit that defined the Bush administration, I wouldn't support him. That is a rational approach to support. I am not twisting the world. I am observing it as it is on the ground – people alive, not dead. Money being spent on recovery, not being blown up. Those are the fact on the ground, Mark.… Read more »

jack ruby
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jack ruby

bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran

Ingemar Johansson
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Ingemar Johansson

I think it's quite the opposite. Isreal has done everything to forgo loss of innocents. Three examples. One, the computer virus. Two, assassination of scientists. Three, the deployment of missile interceptors. From AP. JERUSALEM February 10, 2012 (AP) Israel says it has successfully tested an upgraded radar for the Arrow missile defense system, developed with the United States and designed to intercept projectiles that might be fired at the Jewish state from Iran. Defense official Yair Ramati says the test was conducted on Friday in conjunction with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. He says the purpose of the test was… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

I hate to go all Godwin on you Ingy, but when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they claimed it was self-defense. This is the same manner in which Israel "defends" itself – by attacking people and stealing land.

Ingemar Johansson
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Ingemar Johansson

Perfect example Mark.

When Israel invaded Palestine they killed 200,000 civilians in 760 different execution sites.

Then they shipped a bunch off to prison camps to starve and evidentially gas them.

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

It helps to think of it as the USS Israel. they have become the region's aggressors. There has long been an offer on the table from the Arab states for peace – Israel merely stops expanding, abides by international law.

Israel has inflicted far more casualties, by a factors of maybe a hundred, than any damage done to it. Stop thinking of them as victims. They are the best armed state in the area they have nukes, are crazy enough to use them. They are a menace.

Ingemar Johansson
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Ingemar Johansson

When Israel attacked Syria's nuke plant they destroyed it without civilian causalities.

When Hamas strike they specifically attack children, restaurants, hospitals, malls and schools.

Whose the menace?

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

This is pointless. Now I need to go to Human Rights Watch or some other source to inform you of Israeli atrocities, and it would bounce off you like pebbles thrown at tanks by children.

jack ruby
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jack ruby

So Israel's terrorist attack's against scientists inside Iran were done for the purpose of protecting innocent people? That is an interesting way to look at it.

Ingemar Johansson
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Ingemar Johansson

Not so interesting when put in perspective.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sbarro_restaurant_su

jack ruby
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jack ruby

What does that have to do with it? Were the scientists in Iran 'innocent people'? What about any bystanders that were killed? Whatever the Israelis did or didnt do to the Iranian scientists was not done for the purpose of protecting innocent people. It was done in an attempt to insure their regional dominance as the only nuclear power in the mideast, unless you count pakistan. But you dont believe the Iranians would be justified in assasinating Israeli (or American) nuclear scientists.. or any civilians who happen to work in an industry that may also provide a military benefit in… Read more »

Ingemar Johansson
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Ingemar Johansson

If Israel could have killed the bomb maker (read scientist) many lives would have been saved.

What we're taking 'bout here is offensive weapons vs defensive weapons. Iran has publicly stated that Israel has no right to exist.

Their intentions are clear.

Mark Tokarski
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Mark Tokarski

The world is indifferent to suffering. That part is sad, but reality. We mammals eat other mammals. It's how we stay alive. Within the human realm I am most interested in the thing called conscience. You have one, Ingy, which is why you go to the trouble of projecting all of Israel's cruelty on others. I have thought now and then that you just don't know anything. But if that we're true you would express surprise or even learn something now and then. But you don't. You know, on some level, what's real. You are smarter than I ever gave… Read more »

jack ruby
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jack ruby

That's patently ridiculous. Us and Israeli intelligence both state Iranian use of nuclear weapons would be deterred just as every other nations use of them is deterred. Iranian possession of nuclear weapons would potentially deter and constrain us and Israeli action though that's the issue.

Gabby Johnson
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Gabby Johnson

It's easy to "round up the usual suspects," but it could be that the Saudis are bumping off Iran's nuclear scientists. They have the motive and the capability and a closed society can pull it off more quietly. Plus, if the Iranians counterattack Israel, that's a win for the Saudis too.
My worry is the the clerics in Iran — who fear the Arab Spring more than anything — will use the Bush example of launching a little war to boost their domestic standing.

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

Gabby –

"will use the Bush example of launching a little war to boost their domestic standing. "

I agree, except that I don't think they dare launch a war – they can wait for a war to come to them, they just need to keep pushing the right buttons.

lizard19
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lizard19

how is Libya doing? oh yeah, it's ever onward to save another country by bombing it.

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

What, exactly are you responding to here, lizard? I don't think anyone is suggesting that bombing Iran will save it. I do believe that it would save or shore up the current regime, but unlike those who defer forever to sovereignty, I don't believe that the respecting whatever government is currently in place is equal to respecting a country itself.

Jack ruby
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Jack ruby

Regarding Iran if we want to truly come to an agreement that would prevent Iran from eventually obtaining nuclear weapons and avoid overt conflict guaranteeing somehow we will not seek 'regime change' anymore will probably have to be part of that.

ThePolishWolf
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ThePolishWolf

I think you're right, Jack. Something similar to the deal we worked out with Cuba, for example. We should have normalized relations with Iran fifteen around September 12th, 2001. It's a little late now, but we need to start negotiating with them on the assumption that we won't take military action.

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