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October 23, 2008

We're Going To Attack You If You Try To Get The Power To Stop Us From Attacking You

Glenn Greenwald points out an exciting new call for war with Iran by former senators Daniel Coats and Chuck Robb in the Washington Post, in particular this section:

[A]n Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be strategically untenable. It would threaten U.S. national security...While a nuclear attack is the worst-case scenario, Iran would not need to employ a nuclear arsenal to threaten U.S. interests.

Simply obtaining the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent...

While this seems crazy to the uninitiated, it's long been the view of US foreign policy elites that other countries must not have the power to deter us from attacking them. They must always be vulnerable to being attacked by us. And if they may have the power to deter us from attacking them in the future, that means we must attack them right now.

For instance, here's a little-noticed January, 2001 memo by Donald Rumseld:

Several of these [small enemy nations] are intensely hostile to the United States and are arming to deter us from bringing our conventional or nuclear power to bear in a regional crisis...

[U]niversally available [WMD] technologies can be used to create "asymmetric" responses that cannot defeat our forces, but can deny access to critical areas in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia..."asymmetric" approaches can limit our ability to apply military power.

Another example is found in a September, 2002 speech by Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission and author of the 2002 National Security Strategy, about the threat posed by Iraq. Once again, this threat is not that Iraq will attack us, but that their WMD will make it possible for someone to deter us (and Israel):

I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States...

Now, if the danger [from Iraq] is a biological weapon handed to Hamas, then what’s the American alternative then? Especially if those weapons have developed to the point where they now can deter us from attacking them, because they really can retaliate against us, by then.

And here's a recent report by several retired NATO generals, which deems non-military acts of deterrence by China and Russia to be "acts of war":

[A]cts of war can be committed by individual nation states or allied states by abusing the leverage that other resources bring. China and Russia today are economic powers that might be tempted to deter other nations with the weapons of finance and energy resources.

ALSO: Here's more from Coats and Robb:

Simply obtaining the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent and drastically multiply its influence in Iraq and the region. While we would welcome cooperation from a democratic Iran, allowing the Middle East to fall under the dominance of a radical clerical regime that supports terrorism should not be considered a viable option.

Yes—in particular, we would welcome a democratic Iran by overthrowing its democratic government.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 23, 2008 12:40 PM
[A]cts of war can be committed by individual nation states or allied states by abusing the leverage that other resources bring.

for example. let's say Country X lies repeatedly and aggressively about the value of the assets held in its banks, does everything possible to obscure efforts to discover their value, and rigs its entire economy to hide the weakness of those assets, in order to entrap investments the world over.

that would be an act of war.

Posted by: hapa at October 23, 2008 01:26 PM

*to obstruct efforts

Posted by: hapa at October 23, 2008 01:27 PM


Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 23, 2008 01:32 PM

No oil, no sweat---North Korea.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 23, 2008 01:59 PM

I say to hell with them all: to an Islamic Republic of Iran armed with nuclear weapons, to a Christian Republic of America armed with nuclear weapons,to a Jewish Republic of Israel armed with nuclear weapons.
Let 'em play with LEGO. Or, a game of Risk for the cabinet of every nation state.

Posted by: donescobar at October 23, 2008 02:01 PM

Not to mention that Iran is a democratic country now, today; definitely no less so than the US. Their political systems are very similar.

Posted by: abb1 at October 23, 2008 02:10 PM

As I believe you have pointed out before national leaders have only a few tools to manipulate the masses, fear being paramount.

Posted by: Rob Payne at October 23, 2008 02:17 PM

Why don't we just sell the Iranians one of our warheads - say, a W87 - that'll leave us with 5,735. Shortly after we drop it off at, um, the Azadi Tower in Tehran, we'll launch airstrikes against them, having confirmed that they've gone nuclear. Halliburton and Bechtel can then rebuild the bomb-damaged areas at cost plus, and, after the population rises up into insurgency against us, we can do a surge, quiet things down, and then just give them our remaining cash.

Posted by: cynic at October 23, 2008 05:39 PM

Like most pathologies this is a childhood issue.
Being trained through excessive punishment that moral behavior is simply obedience to authority.
So democracy means doing what you're told, by us, the authority of you.
The bad part is that anything not covered in the authority book of things that can't be done is okay.
Plus getting to be the authority means you get to write the book.
That has lots of unpleasant consequences.
Some of which we are now encountering.

Posted by: roy belmont at October 23, 2008 05:43 PM

It's funny, because the very next link in my newsreader was at Croosk & Liars about the renewed push for missile defense, which is essentially the same thing.

Posted by: darrelplant at October 23, 2008 07:31 PM

Iran is a democracy. Not a perfect one, but it is a democracy.

Posted by: Marshall at October 23, 2008 09:04 PM

Iran is a pseudo-democracy. If the head of state (Khamenei) can't be voted out, then the government isn't really fully democratic, now is it?

Posted by: Navid at October 23, 2008 09:54 PM

You have a point, Navid, but then, if you can change the person in charge but not the policy he implements, as in the United States, then it's surely also a psuedo-democracy, not so?

Also, these people whom Jonathan cites are unbelievably childlike. The impression I get is that America's elite sit around masturbating over war porn and competing to see who can light the most impressive fart.

Which, come to think of it, would be less destructive than a lot of the other things they do. It should be encouraged. Hell, maybe the Presidential debates could be decided by distance spurted and anal inflammability.

I'd watch that.

Posted by: MFB at October 24, 2008 02:37 AM

If the head of state (Khamenei) can't be voted out, then the government isn't really fully democratic, now is it?

First of all, he certainly can be voted out by an elected entity, the Assembly of Experts.

And second, what about the SCOTUS? These guys are, arguably, much more powerful than the head of state, they can only be overruled by a constitutional amendment - and they can't be voted out.

Posted by: abb1 at October 24, 2008 05:09 AM

Good point about the SCOTUS. And I don't disagree with with MFB's position on the US also being a "pseudo-democracy."

Posted by: Navid at October 24, 2008 11:18 PM

I find I have NO Idea really what kind government I live under, never have, most likely never will at this point.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 25, 2008 01:36 AM