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April 25, 2008

This Week In Iran Obliteration News

Hillary Clinton, this week:

[I]f Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, what would our response be? And I want the Iranians to know that if I am president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that...we would be able to totally obliterate them.

But is this the first time high level U.S. officials have spoken about "obliterating" Iran? No!

This is from a shockingly good episode of Nightline in 1992. Richard Armitage, who later became Colin Powell's deputy during the first George W. Bush administration, was Assistant Secretary of Defense under Reagan:

TED KOPPEL: [T]hroughout the ’80s and into the ’90s, U.S. assistance to Saddam Hussein and the government of Iraq dwarfed anything this country did for Iran...[T]here were actually U.S. contingency plans for an attack against the Iranian mainland.

Admiral Ace Lyons was commander of the Pacific fleet.

JAMES LYON, JR.: We were prepared — as I would say at the time — to drill them back to the fourth century...

RICHARD ARMITAGE: The decision was made not to completely obliterate Iran...However, had things not gone well in the Gulf, I’ve no doubt that we would have put those plans into effect.

More recently, Admiral William Fallon, then head of U.S. Central Command, said this about Iran:

"These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."

So what Hillary Clinton said wasn't anything new. We've been talking about obliterating, drilling and crushing Iran for a long time. Fortunately, Iranians know we are just a sober, sensible nation that wants only peace, and so they correctly ignore all of it.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at April 25, 2008 10:39 AM
JAMES LYON, JR.: We were prepared — as I would say at the time — to drill them back to the fourth century...

Typically, bullet-headed comment.

The difference between now and 1992 is that globalization of just about everything makes the systems interconnected. Way more than then.

Sending the Iraqis back just the mid 20th-century, as this war has done, also does "us*" serious harm, way out of proportion to the "drilling" that we do to them. (Disregarding the empathy that we may feel for rending them asunder. People dying there isn't as tactile to me, as paying 20% more for eggs here. Ouch, but that pinches.)

I am amazed that more people don't talk about the cost-benefit of the 9/11 attack. It is probably the most cost-effective, cost-efficient attack in the history of the world. What has it cost the US economy? $1T initially in revenues lost. Another $2T-$3T in aftereffects. The collapse and decimation of airlines in the US. The rejiggering of class in the US.

And why would that be? Because the more complex the system, the larger the implications on interconnected systems when "drilling" takes place.

Are the Iranians interconnected globally? Well, I think they are, and that drilling them into the 4th century, will also drag us back to the hayday of the mid 1800s.

But maybe that's a good trade off to the plutocrats and oligarchs because their class can remain in the 21st century.

* "us" is the regular people, not the overclass.

Posted by: angryman@24:10 at April 25, 2008 11:43 AM

But surely our people use "obliterate" the same way Ahmadinejad uses "wipe off the map." They are merely expressing, as is he, the heartfelt desire for regime change, yearning for both peoples (the Iranians and Israelis, respectively) to live under more humane and compassionate governments.

Ain't evil soooo banal?

Posted by: donescobar at April 25, 2008 12:49 PM

He didn't use "wipe off the map." Christ, why do we have to repeat that too?

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at April 25, 2008 01:17 PM
And here I thought Lorenz had died just the other day.

Should we have buried/cremated Chaos Theory with his interment?

I think I was being a lot simpler than this by noting that the world is getting smaller through forced interdependencies; the far reaches are no longer that far.

But if the butterflies have a focused amplifier (internet, youtube, JIT logistics, capital driven command economies, the global derivatives market), then perhaps yes -- the effect is a lot more direct and obvious.

Posted by: angryman@24:10 at April 25, 2008 02:00 PM

OK, then, let's go with the accurate translation:
"that the regime occupying Jerualem must vanish from the page of time"

So, our people are hoping that the current regime in Iran must vanish from the page of time. Better?
(Because? How do you "vanish from the page of time?" Is it very different from being "wiped off the map?" How can you tell? )
That translation kerfluffle was a bucket load of bullshit, on both sides.

Because, how will the vanishing acts, in Teheran and Jerusalem, come about? Who will relinquish power, and to whom?

Usually goes back to:
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Old Quaker saying

Posted by: donescobar at April 25, 2008 02:29 PM

Iran, obviously. It'll vanish you.
The intransitive verb in that stock phrase just about makes you shit yourself with fear, doesn't it? You picked the mistranslation because liked it, so I don't see why your word about who's full of bullshit is worth much.

But play the "all sides are even" game if you must.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at April 25, 2008 05:43 PM


Posted by: Fun With War Crimes at April 25, 2008 06:27 PM

Steve, all that righteous indignation is gonna get you.
I picked the mistranslation because it was the one that got all the press. But even Cole's correction doesn't change my view of the phony fuss.
The "all sides are even" is your straw man.
I was making fun of how these terms--obliterating or vanishing (intranssitive or not) come from a similar and belligerent attitude. Regimes don't disappear (or "vanish") without someone pulling the strings, supplying the weapons, setting the stage for the bloody events.

Posted by: donescobar at April 25, 2008 06:36 PM

Then there's the hardly insignificant difference between wiping a whole nation off the map - men women children and pets, and vanishing a particular regime from the page of time. It's rhetorically complicated by the insistence of said regime on being identified as indistinguishable from those men women children and pets. But that's bunk, and easily seen through. If you look.

Posted by: Roy Belmont at April 25, 2008 10:19 PM

Oh my. How does that work, "vanishing" a regime from that pesky page of time? Must be a spiritual thing, where a magic wand makes the regime disappear and the children playing in the street don't even notice. I suppose the closest thing was Fidel vanishing the evil regime of Batista. But regimes with missiles and large armies are tougher targets for that magic disappearance trick.
Too much Oprah, too little history?

Posted by: donescobar at April 25, 2008 11:03 PM

I admit, It was Oprah wot done it.

What'd SteveB say? I haven't seen him lately.

One could argue that the regime could change democratically while the people stay. I think that's what most advocates of the one-state solution would say. The movement within Israel for that is small, but so is the anti-imperialist camp in the US, and most of us aren't agitating for a violent overthrow.

I wouldn't necessarily attribute a religious conservative belligerent like Ahmadinejad with such particular compassion with the Israeli Jewish population, but it's your use of the mistranslation that ticked me off.
If you're going to compare what our politicians use to what the Iranian president uses, you might as well cite words he actually uses.

"The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" probably wouldn't have gotten all the press in the corrected version, and there's a reason everyone seems to like the "wipe off the map" version, even if you don't see it. In short, whether the mistranslation changes much is a judgment call, but I'm convinced you're wrong about it.

I'm sorry I used "all sides are even." That obviously takes it too far.

Your analogy also breaks down in that no one's about to wipe Israel from the map, while anyone even vaguely familiar with recent U.S. history can consider our "hypothetical" scenarios with respect to Iran to be idle threats.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at April 25, 2008 11:56 PM

"How do you "vanish from the page of time?"

Yes, HOW DID the USSR do that??

Inquiring minds want to know.......

"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Old Quaker saying

Mao Tse-Tung was a Quaker??? who knew???

Posted by: Susan - NC at April 26, 2008 01:22 AM

Iran has AMERICAN TROOPS on both sides, they ain't going anywhere, but then neither are WE.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 26, 2008 06:04 AM

Fine, but it's a judgement call because A is so obsessed with that mythical old Holocaust, possibly the most researched historic event ever.
If he had just said that the Palestinians shouldn't be paying for thesins of Europeans--I agree. But it's the Protocols of the Elders mentality that tells you as much about him as his rational objection to the bitter fruits of Zionism in the ME.

Posted by: donescobar at April 26, 2008 06:55 AM

What is it about American politicians threatening nuclear holocaust that drives people to obsess over split hairs? Here, we're debating what exact phrasing a relatively powerless man used; over at IOZ's, people are outraged because he approvingly cited a YouTuber who said that Hillary Clinton should be raped with a dinosaur talon, even though there is actually a much greater chance of that psychotic harridan nuking Iran than there is of a dinosaur fossil being forcibly inserted into her private parts.

Is this an inability to grasp how cheerfully evil and genocidal our politicians are? Is it one of those truths that's so powerful and shocking that we're reduced to babbling about nonsense until we can attempt to cope with it?

Posted by: wtf? at April 26, 2008 08:00 AM

Now ask yourself, wtf, which societies are not run by psychotic harridans, cheerfully evil and genocidal, and why? Why have so many societies allowed or wished to be in the hands of these types, and not those like the reasonable and compassionate social democratic men and women in Scandinavia, for example?
Look at the 20th century, the optimism about the progress expected in an "enlightened" age that turned it into the bloodiest 100 years in history.
Why was that? What causes and patterns emerge?
And if you're looking for one interpretation, look at Niall Ferguson's "War of the World."
We haven't moved from where he leaves off, post-Colonialism notwithstanding.

Posted by: donescobar at April 26, 2008 08:51 AM

Let me make a prediction. Bush clearly used the war "not quite but close enough for government work" approval thingie that H. Clinton voted for as his green light to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

With Kyl-Lieberman and now the "obliterate" statement, Clinton enables Bush's next act of war. Forget that Clinton's projected genocide required the fantasy of Iran actually having and using a nuclear weapon against a country that has several hundred of them.

But once you get into Fantasy Genocideville, facts don't get in the way of the war and killing. If Bush starts using those bunker busters in an attempt to pry open those mountains to reach suspected nuclear facilities, how many rah rah pundits are going to say, "Well, Hillary said that she'd use nuclear weapons but it had to be under the condition that Iran used a nuclear weapon against Israel but..."? None. It'll be "Hillary said go ahead." And Clinton will be on board, whether she wants to or not. Either it's a clever move for her to be "tough" or she got snookered. Or maybe she just cut a deal with Bush to give him cover.

And we'll be in another war and the presumptive Democratic candidate (Obama) will be outside this merger of political wills of the permanent Executive Branch (Bush-Clinton). This merger will again function to kill people who wear funny hats, worship different gods and sit on top of oil.

Things happen fast and before you know it the country's double-timing it into another war, flag pins are again de rigueur, the citizenry are wild-eyed and bloodlust is all the rage. That's how it works with fascism. I hear that the Polish cavalry are gathering at the border.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at April 26, 2008 06:14 PM

Couple of things...

Firstly, Hill the Shill was saying that if Iran nuked Israel the States would bomb them back to the 7th century (in Iran's case that wouldn't be too far of a trip). Her point being that if Iran was stupid enough to try that they would cease to exist as a country. The threat will work. Iran will do nothing stupid.

Secondly, no question Iran is behind the killing of US troops in Iraq. Think about it: the States goes into Iraq kills the guys that hate Iran and puts in power the guys that like Iran. Clever move. Not to mention that the States is providing arms etc. to the Arabs in the south of Iran and the Kurds in the north to go and kill Iranians.

Thirdly, there is only only one easy way out of this mess - leave.

Posted by: Mylegacy at April 27, 2008 02:20 AM

The threat will work. Iran will do nothing stupid.

Because they have neither the ability nor the desire to launch a suicidal attack against a nuclear power like Israel, not because this stupid monster opened her big mouth. Yes, I'm sure they had forgotten all about the possibility of being attacked by the ultimate rogue nation until her saber-rattling reminded them.

Secondly, no question Iran is behind the killing of US troops in Iraq. Think about it: the States goes into Iraq kills the guys that hate Iran and puts in power the guys that like Iran. Clever move. Not to mention that the States is providing arms etc. to the Arabs in the south of Iran and the Kurds in the north to go and kill Iranians.

What the fuck does this gibberish even mean?

Posted by: at April 27, 2008 03:26 PM