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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making mil...

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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 02:28am 

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Okay. Well, do you think I am out of line in thinking this way? Am I missing something important? Or does this seem basically reasonable?
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Shroom Man 777
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 03:23am 

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I think it's good.

What Elfdart is saying is no different from what everyone else is saying. In the end, whatever's going to happen is going to happen because they all made it happen. They all wanted this. They asked for this. And they'll all be glad when it finally goes down. They all have it coming.
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Stas Bush
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 06:23am 

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Joined: 2003-02-26 12:39pm
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Nukes are scary. There was a NORAD incident when America believed hundreds of Soviet nukes are flying towards it. And the same happened in the 1980s with the USSR's warning system. However, the nukes did not fly.

Part of the reason is the utter political infeasibility of a nuclear attack. This is why even though the systems malfunctioned and gave a clear warning of a nuclear attack (a massed one in case of the NORAD training fuckup), the military and politicians quickly understood that's not happening in reality and, uh, didn't do anything.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 09:08am 

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In the USSR case, it only looked like a few missiles- which is why Petrov immediately decided it couldn't be a real attack, because a real US attack would include hundreds of missiles. In the NORAD case, I don't know enough of the details off the top of my head.

But one thing to remember is that this kind of accident gets dismissed for reasons, reasons which may not always be true.

1) People can be more trigger-happy and quick to launch than 1970s American or Soviet systems, by which point the height of Cold War tensions had declined a bit.

2) Policy-makers expect a nuclear war to have a certain buildup- no one seriously expects a pure 'bolt from the blue,' and there would be warnings like one side placing its forces on alert, exchange of hostile diplomacy, and so on. One reason why false alarms got dismissed was because there was little reason to expect an attack at that time- so the probability that it was a surprise attack was relatively low, while the odds of a misunderstanding were constant. But what would have happened if the NORAD incident had taken place, say, during the middle of the Cuban missile crisis?

3) Warning time matters. If the US sees a massive Soviet attack coming in, it has at least a few minutes, at the flight speed of a ballistic missile, to figure out what the hell is going on. Iran and Israel don't have that kind of time regarding missiles headed for each other- if they see a missile inbound, they have to react now, because in a few minutes it's going to be falling on their head.

4) A stable, logical response to false alarms depends on having a military that is, for lack of a better term, not twitchy. The US and Soviet strategic forces weren't especially twitchy. Command and control was secure, warning systems were elaborate and sophisticated, and officers were entrusted with enough power to make decisions on the spot that they could afford to do something like not launch in response to what looks like a surprise attack without getting executed. This is where not all countries are equally reliable: I am more worried about the Israelis using their nuclear arsenal on short notice for badly-thought-out reasons than I am the French or the Chinese, for example.
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Stas Bush
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 09:16am 

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Quote:
In the second case, Odom awakened Brzezinski in the middle of the night to tell him 220 Soviet missiles had been launched at the United States. Then Odom called back to say NORAD was reporting 2,200 missiles had been launched - an all-out attack!

One minute before Brzezinski was set to call President Carter, Odom called again to say other warning systems had detected no missiles. False alarm. As it turned out, someone had mistakenly fed military exercise tapes into NORAD's computer system.

NORAD officials say they have made changes to ensure such mistakes are not repeated.


I wouldn't say Iran's military is exceptionally twitchy. Iran did not actually conduct rogue attacks on other nations with WMDs or something. As for Israel, they're paranoid, but far from insane. Realistically, how many warheads could Iran field? Israeli C and C would survive an iranian attack, I believe.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 09:29am 

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"Twitchiness" isn't so much about hostility to foreign nations. It certainly isn't some moral factor, please try to understand that I'm not going "IRAN EVIL MIGHT DO ANYTHING" here.

Twitchiness is about the domestic political atmosphere, the level of distrust and lack of communications created by paranoia within the government and outside the government. It's about the degree to which the people with fingers on nuclear buttons actually expect an attack. It's about the military's ability to weed out paranoids and fanatics, as opposed to having fanaticism be actively encouraged by the political leadership as a way to secure loyalty.

On these parameters, I do worry a bit more about Iran than about, say, France. Or China. Or India.


And then... In that NORAD case, you have to notice that there's an anomaly- the other warning systems had seen nothing. Even there, the "hair trigger" was a problem. What would have happened if NORAD had only one warning system, the one that went wrong?

This is a serious issue for small countries like Iran and Israel. The US and Soviets both had global satellite constellations, which provide good reconnaissance (you can do things like spot the flash of a missile engine firing up) and very stable command and control (because even if huge holes are blown in the telecommunications network, the surviving satellites- and there will likely be quite a few- can still communicate).

But Iran can't afford that. Its early warning systems are going to be limited to, say, very large radar stations pointed in the direction of likely enemies. And Israel can't afford that: all its command and control facilities are located in a fairly compact area, and it wouldn't take very many multi-megaton airbursts to cause great damage all over Israel and make communications very difficult. So both nations have less strategic depth and flexibility, and correspondingly seem (to me) to be bigger risk factors.

This does not mean either of them would launch on the first day they got the weapons, or that either of them would even launch soon- I'm talking about risk factors.
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Broomstick
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 10:14am 

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Simon_Jester wrote:
1) People can be more trigger-happy and quick to launch than 1970s American or Soviet systems, by which point the height of Cold War tensions had declined a bit.

The thing is, neither the US or the USSR wanted a nuclear war. No question they were hostile as hell towards each other but neither wanted to go to war with the other. Yes, there were proxy wars and proxy wars, being real wars, are horrible and nasty but the two great superpowers did not actually want to attack each other. During the Cold War there were always attempts at dialogue, at trying to keep things from boiling over, attempts to make war less likely. Bizarrely, attempts at limited war even if that sounds like an oxymoron and is no comfort to those who died or were maimed.

What happens when a country that wants war acquires a nuclear weapon?

There are countries that want war in a way we haven't really seen for awhile. Germany in the 1930's, for example, conquering other countries. Imperial Japan. More recently, Iraq invading and taking over Kuwait. That's just considering wars to acquire territory and resources.

Then we have ideological genocide. What happens if a nation that wants to not just conquer but eliminate another nation gets a bomb?

There are people who own guns as tools - they hunt or whatever. There are people who own guns and try to develop better ones for the intellectual challenge of making a better weapon. There are people who own guns for self-defense reasons, because there are Bad Guys who really do hesitate to walk towards the business end of a loaded shotgun.

And then there are people who own guns who really do want to kill other people.

Up until now, the nations that have acquired nuclear weapons have fallen into one of the more benign categories. True, the US did use them against people twice, but the motivation there, whether you agree with it or not, was to end a war so that would probably qualify as "tool". The USSR arguably wanted them for self-defense against the US. The scientists in various nations who built bombs for the UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea probably enjoyed the challenge, along with whatever other motivations they had.

Right now, I think Iran falls into the "self-defense" category. They think merely possessing an a-bomb will make invasion of their nation by the US extremely unlikely. They're almost certainly right. Fine. So Iran will almost certainly get one soon.

What happens when some nation that actively wants to invade or eliminate another nation gets atomic weapons? Yes, yes, I know the US is supposed to be "imperial" these days but the fact is the US doesn't want to add to its territory. The US would rather leave administration of other places to the natives and simply extract the economic/material wealth via trade (which, yes, can be a bad thing). That's quite different from speeches out of the Middle East demanding that the Israelis be pushed into the sea, destroyed, etc. That's not a call for territory or resources, it's a call for genocide. Between that, and the fact that the area does produce suicide bombers on occasion, it makes people wonder if we're going to see a suicide nuke bomber, or the equivalent.

I am not saying Iran will be that - honestly, I don't know. I'm assuming that the current guys in power over there want to live just as much as the average politician and aren't, themselves, suicidal. I think it's most likely that if Iran gets the bomb they'll do what every else has these past 70 years or so and just sit on the fucker.

The problem is that the more people who get nukes, the more likely it is something will go wrong with the concept of deterrence and MAD. We get someone like Elfdart who doesn't seem to understand that even in a limited nuclear war hundreds of thousands of people WILL die, and many of those deaths will be agonizing and take weeks with the victims fully conscious throughout most of it, because through the sheer perversity of the universe the human brain is more resistant to radiation effects than many other body tissues. This time, it won't be grainy black and white photos published weeks or years later. We'll get to see it live on TV, as it happens. Sorry, I find that prospect absolutely terrifying.

I want something that will, truly, reduce the odds of that occurring as close to zero as possible. Human beings haven't undergone some massive evolutionary leap in the past 70 years. We're still poo-flinging murderous apes developing more and more noxious varieties of poo to fling. Forget talking about sanity here - what happens when someone decides the LOGICAL thing to do is to launch? It doesn't require insanity for that, just the right circumstances where someone with a nuke thinks the most expedient manner to achieve a goal is to set off a nuclear weapon.

Making it very difficult to get a nuke does reduce the odds of that occurring. Yes, the propest of nuclear weapons going off probably has prevented some wars in recent decades. You might have noted, however, that it hasn't stopped war. The killing never stopped, it just didn't achieve the scale of WWI and WII. Smaller wars, but still millions dead. The terrible weapons of WWI, the chemical shit, supposedly would never be used again but we know it has been. Civilians were supposed to be off-limits, but they've been killed by the tens of thousands. Genocide wasn't supposed to happen again, but it has.

It's nuts to think nuclear weapons won't be ever used again, either. Sooner or later they will be. The more the memory of the last time fades, the more people who start to think like Elfdart, that it's OK for these weapons to spread and multiply without an attempt at limit, who think passing them out like party favors is just fine, the more likely someone is to decide their use is acceptable.

I'm hoping I'm gone before that happens. Preferably of old age, but gone. I don't want to see that happen, not even to my worst enemy. Not to anyone, for any reason. I don't want to see any city burn. I don't have that much anger in me, or bitterness, or evil.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 11:12am 

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Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
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Broomstick wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
1) People can be more trigger-happy and quick to launch than 1970s American or Soviet systems, by which point the height of Cold War tensions had declined a bit.

The thing is, neither the US or the USSR wanted a nuclear war. No question they were hostile as hell towards each other but neither wanted to go to war with the other. Yes, there were proxy wars and proxy wars, being real wars, are horrible and nasty but the two great superpowers did not actually want to attack each other. During the Cold War there were always attempts at dialogue, at trying to keep things from boiling over, attempts to make war less likely. Bizarrely, attempts at limited war even if that sounds like an oxymoron and is no comfort to those who died or were maimed.

What happens when a country that wants war acquires a nuclear weapon?

There are countries that want war in a way we haven't really seen for awhile. Germany in the 1930's, for example, conquering other countries. Imperial Japan. More recently, Iraq invading and taking over Kuwait. That's just considering wars to acquire territory and resources.


By that standard, America, as an aggressor far worse than any other nation since the 1990s, should not be allowed to have nukes. It is blatantly hypocritical to complain about the evil Iranians having nukes when last I checked they have not a single boot on foreign soil. The USA meanwhile has occupied two sovereign nations and continues to do so, while building bases in the middle and far east. For all that screaming about how aggressive Iran is, they have not invaded a single one of their neighbours. The US, meanwhile, is occupying left and right to them while propping up "allied" dictators to the north and financing terror groups in Iran.

I don't like Iran myself, but going "they cannot be trusted. They want a war" is hypocritical to the extreme.
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The Romulan Republic
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 11:21am 

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Iran hasn't invaded anyone, but is that simply because they lack the means to do so, while America does not?

Also, you can't exactly call Iran peaceful, what with the brutal crackdowns on their own people and backing terrorists abroad. While they might not have invaded anyone, you can't say they haven't attacked anyone.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 12:35pm 

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The Romulan Republic wrote:
Iran hasn't invaded anyone, but is that simply because they lack the means to do so, while America does not?


They could have invaded a number of neighbours, but did not. A combination of lack of opportunity, means and inclination would be my guess. They might want to annex parts of Iraq, but that is about it and they know Iraq is too big for them to swallow.


Quote:
Also, you can't exactly call Iran peaceful, what with the brutal crackdowns on their own people and backing terrorists abroad. While they might not have invaded anyone, you can't say they haven't attacked anyone.


Nobody is calling Iran peaceful. They are more peaceful and less aggressive than the USA though.
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The Romulan Republic
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 12:40pm 

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My guess is that they are less aggressive towards the rest of the world only because they lack the means to be more aggressive and get away with it. And they are more brutal towards their own people.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 12:44pm 

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Brutality towards their own people is not really a strong selling point for war in a region where US-educated US-allies drive their SUVs over people who they feel have cheated them on grain deals., are allegedly engaged in serial behaviour of that sort and of course any such evidence is a giant plot against them.

Also, what could Iran possibly do towards other nations with an atom bomb? They may be able to sponsor more terrorists (hard to believe) but really, do you think they will go "Got the bomb. Gonna invade X now"? Who is X then?
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The Romulan Republic
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 01:05pm 

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I'm not arguing in support of war against Iran. I'm sorry if I gave that impression.
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Broken
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 01:11pm 

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A few days ago I asked about Israel's ability to strike Iran's nuclear program. Yesterday, the New York Times had an article on that exact subject.

New York Times wrote:
Iran Raid Seen as a Huge Task for Israeli Jets

WASHINGTON — Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously — and use at least 100 planes.

That is the assessment of American defense officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon, who say that an Israeli attack meant to set back Iran’s nuclear program would be a huge and highly complex operation. They describe it as far different from Israel’s “surgical” strikes on a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981.

“All the pundits who talk about ‘Oh, yeah, bomb Iran,’ it ain’t going to be that easy,” said Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, who retired last year as the Air Force’s top intelligence official and who planned the American air campaigns in 2001 in Afghanistan and in the 1991 Gulf War.

Speculation that Israel might attack Iran has intensified in recent months as tensions between the countries have escalated. In a sign of rising American concern, Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Jerusalem on Sunday, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, warned on CNN that an Israeli strike on Iran right now would be “destabilizing.” Similarly, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, told the BBC that attacking Iran would not be “the wise thing” for Israel to do “at this moment.”

But while an Israeli spokesman in Washington, Lior Weintraub, said the country continued to push for tougher sanctions on Iran, he reiterated that Israel, like the United States, “is keeping all options on the table.”

The possible outlines of an Israeli attack have become a source of debate in Washington, where some analysts question whether Israel even has the military capacity to carry it off. One fear is that the United States would be sucked into finishing the job — a task that even with America’s far larger arsenal of aircraft and munitions could still take many weeks, defense analysts said. Another fear is of Iranian retaliation.

“I don’t think you’ll find anyone who’ll say, ‘Here’s how it’s going to be done — handful of planes, over an evening, in and out,’ ” said Andrew R. Hoehn, a former Pentagon official who is now director of the Rand Corporation’s Project Air Force, which does extensive research for the United States Air Force.

Michael V. Hayden, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009, said flatly last month that airstrikes capable of seriously setting back Iran’s nuclear program were “beyond the capacity” of Israel, in part because of the distance that attack aircraft would have to travel and the scale of the task.

Still, a top defense official cautioned in an interview last week that “we don’t have perfect visibility” into Israel’s arsenal, let alone its military calculations. His views were echoed by Anthony H. Cordesman, an influential military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “There are a lot of unknowns, there are a lot of potential risks, but Israel may know that those risks aren’t that serious,” he said.

Given that Israel would want to strike Iran’s four major nuclear sites — the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo, the heavy-water reactor at Arak and the yellowcake-conversion plant at Isfahan — military analysts say the first problem is how to get there. There are three potential routes: to the north over Turkey, to the south over Saudi Arabia or taking a central route across Jordan and Iraq.

The route over Iraq would be the most direct and likely, defense analysts say, because Iraq effectively has no air defenses and the United States, after its December withdrawal, no longer has the obligation to defend Iraqi skies. “That was a concern of the Israelis a year ago, that we would come up and intercept their aircraft if the Israelis chose to take a path across Iraq,” said a former defense official who asked for anonymity to discuss secret intelligence.

Assuming that Jordan tolerates the Israeli overflight, the next problem is distance. Israel has American-built F-15I and F-16I fighter jets that can carry bombs to the targets, but their range — depending on altitude, speed and payload — falls far short of the minimum 2,000-mile round trip. That does not include an aircraft’s “loiter time” over a target plus the potential of having to fight off attacks from Iranian missiles and planes.

In any possibility, Israel would have to use airborne refueling planes, called tankers, but Israel is not thought to have enough. Scott Johnson, an analyst at the defense consulting firm IHS Jane’s and the leader of a team preparing an online seminar on Israeli strike possibilities on Iran, said that Israel had eight KC-707 American-made tankers, although it is not clear they are all in operation. It is possible, he said, that Israel has reconfigured existing planes into tankers to use in a strike.

Even so, any number of tankers would need to be protected by ever more fighter planes. “So the numbers you need just skyrocket,” Mr. Johnson said. Israel has about 125 F-15Is and F-16Is. One possibility, Mr. Johnson said, would be to fly the tankers as high as 50,000 feet, making them hard for air defenses to hit, and then have them drop down to a lower altitude to meet up with the fighter jets to refuel.

Israel would still need to use its electronic warfare planes to penetrate Iran’s air defenses and jam its radar systems to create a corridor for an attack. Iran’s antiaircraft defenses may be a generation old — in 2010, Russia refused to sell Iran its more advanced S-300 missile system — but they are hardly negligible, military analysts say.

Iranian missiles could force Israeli warplanes to maneuver and dump their munitions before they even reached their targets. Iran could also strike back with missiles that could hit Israel, opening a new war in the Middle East, though some Israeli officials have argued that the consequences would be worse if Iran were to gain a nuclear weapon.

Another major hurdle is Israel’s inventory of bombs capable of penetrating the Natanz facility, believed to be buried under 30 feet of reinforced concrete, and the Fordo site, which is built into a mountain.

Assuming it does not use a nuclear device, Israel has American-made GBU-28 5,000-pound “bunker buster” bombs that could damage such hardened targets, although it is unclear how far down they can go.

Earlier this month, a Bipartisan Policy Center report by Charles S. Robb, the former Democratic senator from Virginia, and Charles F. Wald, a retired Air Force general, recommended that the Obama administration sell Israel 200 enhanced GBU-31 “bunker busters” as well as three advanced refueling planes.

The two said that they were not advocating an Israeli attack, but that the munitions and aircraft were needed to improve Israel’s credibility as it threatens a strike.

Should the United States get involved — or decide to strike on its own — military analysts said that the Pentagon had the ability to launch big strikes with bombers, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles, followed up by drones that could carry out damage assessments to help direct further strikes. Unlike Israel, the United States has plenty of refueling capability. Bombers could fly from Al Udeid air base in Qatar, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or bases in Britain and the United States.

Nonetheless, defense officials say it would still be tough to penetrate Iran’s deepest facilities with existing American bombs and so are enhancing an existing 30,000-pound “Massive Ordnance Penetrator” that was specifically designed for Iran and North Korea.

“There’s only one superpower in the world that can carry this off,” General Deptula said. “Israel’s great on a selective strike here and there.”


Scott Shane contributed reporting.


Basically, the article states that an attack by Israel on Iran's nuclear program would require around 100 aircraft. Israel has around 125 modern F-15 and F-16 variants, so they have the strike aircraft, but may lack the tanker support. Iraq is seen as the most likely route to Iran since they are mostly without air defenses. The big warning sign should be the claim that unlike Israel's previous bombing of Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs, this would not be a lightning-strike, in-and-out overnight raid. It would require a sustained air campaign that would even take the US several weeks and may be impossible for Israel alone to do serious, long-term damage to Iran's nuclear program. As ever, the fear is that the US would have to step in to finish the job, dragging the US into open war with Iran. Given the apathy between Obama and Netanyahu (who hopes/plans on Obama being a one-term president), the politics of the US presidential election season, and the open hostility in the US Congress its a big stinky mess that is going to bite us in the ass.
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Sephirius
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 01:50pm 

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Thanas wrote:
Also, what could Iran possibly do towards other nations with an atom bomb? They may be able to sponsor more terrorists (hard to believe) but really, do you think they will go "Got the bomb. Gonna invade X now"? Who is X then?


I think the problem lies not in them having nukes, but them having the capability to proliferate that knowledge/expertise to known terror organizations.

Hey Hezbollah, you want a few fuel rods?
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 02:59pm 

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Thanas wrote:
By that standard, America, as an aggressor far worse than any other nation since the 1990s, should not be allowed to have nukes. It is blatantly hypocritical to complain about the evil Iranians having nukes when last I checked they have not a single boot on foreign soil. The USA meanwhile has occupied two sovereign nations and continues to do so, while building bases in the middle and far east. For all that screaming about how aggressive Iran is, they have not invaded a single one of their neighbours. The US, meanwhile, is occupying left and right to them while propping up "allied" dictators to the north and financing terror groups in Iran.

I don't like Iran myself, but going "they cannot be trusted. They want a war" is hypocritical to the extreme.
Did you read Broomstick's post?

Broomstick wrote:
There are countries that want war in a way we haven't really seen for awhile. Germany in the 1930's, for example, conquering other countries. Imperial Japan. More recently, Iraq invading and taking over Kuwait. That's just considering wars to acquire territory and resources.

Then we have ideological genocide. What happens if a nation that wants to not just conquer but eliminate another nation gets a bomb?...

Right now, I think Iran falls into the "self-defense" category. They think merely possessing an a-bomb will make invasion of their nation by the US extremely unlikely. They're almost certainly right. Fine. So Iran will almost certainly get one soon...

I am not saying Iran will be that [genocidal/suicidal] - honestly, I don't know. I'm assuming that the current guys in power over there want to live just as much as the average politician and aren't, themselves, suicidal. I think it's most likely that if Iran gets the bomb they'll do what every else has these past 70 years or so and just sit on the fucker.

The problem is that the more people who get nukes, the more likely it is something will go wrong with the concept of deterrence and MAD....

Forget talking about sanity here - what happens when someone decides the LOGICAL thing to do is to launch? It doesn't require insanity for that, just the right circumstances where someone with a nuke thinks the most expedient manner to achieve a goal is to set off a nuclear weapon...

It's nuts to think nuclear weapons won't be ever used again, either. Sooner or later they will be. The more the memory of the last time fades, the more people who start to think like Elfdart, that it's OK for these weapons to spread and multiply without an attempt at limit, who think passing them out like party favors is just fine, the more likely someone is to decide their use is acceptable.

I'm hoping I'm gone before that happens. Preferably of old age, but gone. I don't want to see that happen, not even to my worst enemy. Not to anyone, for any reason. I don't want to see any city burn. I don't have that much anger in me, or bitterness, or evil.
Please review the underlined passages. They seem pretty explicit to me.



On a more general note, it seems like we get another poster in here making the same strawman argument every damn day:

"Americans say "Iran is evil and aggressive, they should not have a bomb!" But this is hypocritical, because the US has invaded countries, and is therefore more evil and aggressive than Iran!"

Why is it so hard to grasp a political model where things can be good or bad for reasons that have nothing to do with the US? Why can't Iran having nuclear weapons be troubling for reasons that have nothing to do with some bullshit macho neocon huffing and puffing about 'mad mullahs?' Why is it off-limits to be worried that Iran might have an unstable government, in light of the violent suppression of major protests in the country, or the private religious militias they have? Why is it somehow not permitted to worry that someone, some unspecified future country, might use the threat of nuclear weapons for conquest?

Why do the same strawmen keep coming back in this thread over and over?
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Stas Bush
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 03:42pm 

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Yeah, some people might be worried about "Saudi Arabia with nukes" rather than "Iran with nukes". But really, House of Saud relies on the US to help them in their islamist shenanigans (just like Pakistan did before and they're a nuclear power). Even if this happens, that's just another Pakistan.

And yep, more Pakistans might be bad for some rather abstract "for the good of all!" point of view where decreasing the probability of a conflict by X is important and yadda yadda. For another Pakistan (Iran, Saudi Arabia, whatever) this quite probably is seen differently. They see it as "100% not likely that someone will attack us, Allah bless the bomb".

Scary? Yep. Out of order? No.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 03:52pm 

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Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Did you read Broomstick's post?


Yes. I've snipped out the rest because it was pretty bad rambling without a point. My specific response was to her hand-wriging over aggressive nations, which hilariously left out the most aggressive nation of today.


Quote:
a more general note, it seems like we get another poster in here making the same strawman argument every damn day:

"Americans say "Iran is evil and aggressive, they should not have a bomb!" But this is hypocritical, because the US has invaded countries, and is therefore more evil and aggressive than Iran!"

Why is it so hard to grasp a political model where things can be good or bad for reasons that have nothing to do with the US? Why can't Iran having nuclear weapons be troubling for reasons that have nothing to do with some bullshit macho neocon huffing and puffing about 'mad mullahs?' Why is it off-limits to be worried that Iran might have an unstable government, in light of the violent suppression of major protests in the country, or the private religious militias they have? Why is it somehow not permitted to worry that someone, some unspecified future country, might use the threat of nuclear weapons for conquest?

Why do the same strawmen keep coming back in this thread over and over?


Because a large faction of your political establishment is doing exactly the "evil and aggressive" routine. A much larger part is all for helping Israel to bomb Iran. All of which comes off as extremely hypocritical, if only for the reason that a lot of it is "we don't want nukes in the hands of those evil Iranians" because they can't be trusted to have some professionals.

And because the people who scream the loudest are Israel and the USA, not countries who are known for taking a honest approach to a political problem.

And because a lot of the same rhetoric was used with regards to the Al-Quida threat and the Hussein threat. Track record plays into this at some part. Heck, the exact same "Saddam Iran might give nuclear materials to Al-Quida Hezbollah" concern is raised over and over again.
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cosmicalstorm
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 05:01pm 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2008-02-14 10:35am
Posts: 1209
Stas Bush wrote:
I wouldn't say Iran's military is exceptionally twitchy. Iran did not actually conduct rogue attacks on other nations with WMDs or something. As for Israel, they're paranoid, but far from insane. Realistically, how many warheads could Iran field? Israeli C and C would survive an iranian attack, I believe.


But what would happen after that? Would Israel simply hit Iran in return?
Or would they, as I suspect, have one plane going to Damascus, one to Beirut, one to the Aswan dam and so on?

Although I hope it would end here, I see the possibility for some serious carnage, could it escalate to a global nuclear war somehow? Shit it better not.


It would be interesting if somebody had drawn up a rough and realistic scenario of what a Israeli Samson option would look like.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 11:11pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 22446
Thanas wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
Did you read Broomstick's post?
Yes. I've snipped out the rest because it was pretty bad rambling without a point. My specific response was to her hand-wriging over aggressive nations, which hilariously left out the most aggressive nation of today.
The US has had a nuclear arsenal for a long time, and has not used it to wage wars of aggression. The wars go on- if you think you can find an era that's abolished war you're dreaming- but If you're worried about nuclear weapons being used for aggression and conquest, or by rogue factions within a government, the US doesn't do it. Other wars go on- we can point to American actions, including violent actions, that have caused massive suffering, just as we can for Russia or China. Being a nuclear power does not confer moral status.

But if you want a nation with a long track record of not nuking people, regardless of anything else they might do, go to the US or Russia. Or a bunch of other countries, a very diverse bunch on three continents with a wide mix of democratic and undemocratic governments, with political agendas from the far left to the far right.

The US hasn't used nuclear weapons as a tool of aggression, or as a pawn of renegades.

Does this mean anything special or unique about the US? Not really. As I said, plenty of other countries have managed track records nearly as long, or could easily. Your country doesn't have to be 'free' or have a good human rights record, and certainly doesn't have to be morally good, for that to happen.

The operative question is whether all governments can match the track record. I am not so sure of this. Iran is close enough to the wrong side of the line to make me nervous. Is that hypocritical? Is it hypocritical for me to think Iran's nuclear forces won't be as coup-proof and organized as those of Russia and China? Or to worry that if they turn out not to be, they might manage to kill as many people in an hour as the American war in Iraq killed in a decade? Twice as many? Ten times more? That is well within the power of a nuclear state, if something goes wrong.


Here's a hypothetical for you. Suppose the US suddenly vanished off the face of the Earth. Just *poof,* gone, transported off to Never-Neverland, replaced by big open stretches of seawater. Heck, let's say Israel disappears too.

Suddenly, what you consider the two worst things in world geopolitics are gone. How would you revise your worldview?

Would the Iranian nuclear program still seem like a good thing? Would you turn your mockery on, say, a Russian who thought it was a bad thing for Iran to have nukes, because of the horrible things Russia does in Chechnya, and their total lack of real democratic government? Would nuclear proliferation still seem like such a good deal in a world where you couldn't kid yourself into thinking the US was about to launch another huge war?


Quote:
Quote:
Why is it so hard to grasp a political model where things can be good or bad for reasons that have nothing to do with the US? Why can't Iran having nuclear weapons be troubling for reasons that have nothing to do with some bullshit macho neocon huffing and puffing about 'mad mullahs?' Why is it off-limits to be worried that Iran might have an unstable government, in light of the violent suppression of major protests in the country, or the private religious militias they have? Why is it somehow not permitted to worry that someone, some unspecified future country, might use the threat of nuclear weapons for conquest?

Why do the same strawmen keep coming back in this thread over and over?
Because a large faction of your political establishment is doing exactly the "evil and aggressive" routine. A much larger part is all for helping Israel to bomb Iran. All of which comes off as extremely hypocritical, if only for the reason that a lot of it is "we don't want nukes in the hands of those evil Iranians" because they can't be trusted to have some professionals.
If only all Americans and American politicians had a single voice, so that you could debate the ones you disagree with all the time, instead of having to deal with only the ones who are actually present in the room...

Oh, wait. You do that already.

If your argument is with Obama, kindly take it up with someone who's defending him. If your argument is with the idea of bombing Iran, kindly take it up with a country that's actually stated the intention to do that, instead of the US. If your argument is with encouraging Israel to bomb Iran, take it up with a country that's doing that, instead of with the US, which is doing the opposite and telling them NOT to do it.

In other words, take your goddamn strawman and burn it. Or go troll some forum full of neocons, where you might find someone who actually believes the things you want to argue with.

Quote:
And because the people who scream the loudest are Israel and the USA, not countries who are known for taking a honest approach to a political problem.
Israel is, if we are to be honest about political problems, the one who the missiles are going to be pointed at. What "honest approach to a political problem" would get them around that?

I mean, are they supposed to be happy about this nuclear program belonging to someone who tolerates, from the head of their executive government, rhetoric demanding that Israel cease to exist? Is it somehow dishonest for them to consider this a bad thing, and potentially a dangerous thing that they might seriously consider fighting to avoid?

It may be aggressive, belligerent, stupid, but is it really dishonest?

What 'honest approach' do you want from them? What would placate the Iranians to the extent that Israel would no longer have a logical reason to worry about Iran's intentions?

Let's assume the Israelis are the very minions of Satan. If you want, condemn them for a million words, each more damning than the last. But when the smoke clears, what do they do next? Without creating any illusions about Iran, how is Israel to convince Iran not to take steps that would put them in greater danger? If Israel suddenly saw the light and became a beacon of good faith, human rights, and antimilitarism, would it actually stop Iran at this point?

Quote:
And because a lot of the same rhetoric was used with regards to the Al-Quida threat and the Hussein threat. Track record plays into this at some part. Heck, the exact same "Saddam Iran might give nuclear materials to Al-Quida Hezbollah" concern is raised over and over again.
So... because someone else ten years ago said someone who didn't have a nuclear program might give nuclear material to someone they have no connection to, I am now out of line to worry that someone who does have a nuclear program might give nuclear material to someone they do have a connection to?

I mean, I'd understand your position if it were George Bush you were talking to. But you seem to regard any expression of these opinions by any American as invalid- hypocrisy by association. I live in the same country as them, and my fellow citizens have allowed them to hold power, so I must agree with them. And if I express any opinion that anything else going on in the world is bad, then it becomes an opportunity to unroll the litany of American crimes.

I wonder, do you think all Russians are Putinists, or that all Iranians really think theocracy is the best of all possible governments?
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Shroom Man 777
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 11:36pm 

FUCKING DICK-STABBER!


Joined: 2003-05-11 08:39am
Posts: 19927
Location: Bleeding breasts and stabbing dicks since 2003
Man, think of how awesome thermonucleonic Islamic fundamentalism would be. When atomics become a fundamental part of their religious fanatic credo. When they invoke the power of the atom and the various delivery systems in the same phrase as Allah and the Prophet. I think it would bring a cultural revolution, wherein their cultures can now lean on this great Satan-killing technology as a means of protection where previously they had no such means and had to descend to some form of craziness brought by their vulnerability and constant exploitation. A nuclear renaissance, in the Middle East of all places, would be an interesting time.
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Elfdart
PostPosted: 2012-02-21 11:55pm 

The Anti-Shep


Joined: 2004-04-28 11:32pm
Posts: 9597
Location: What's the bonus for shooting bad guys from behind?
thejester wrote:
How are those two things at all mutually exclusive? Pakistan would sell to the Gulf States for money; that sale doesn't in any way mean an end to Iranian oil.


Pakistan would sell its A-bombs to the Gulf States? And invite reprisals if one of those states used it? I think not.

Quote:
Those last two are so wrong as to be laughable. Who wanted to turn the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam into all-out wars, and when were they deterred by nukes? You realise China didn't have any until 1964, right? That didn't stop them intervening in Korea in the face of potential US nuclear reprisals.


MacArthur certainly did. He even wanted a cobalt barrier at the border. Fortunately Truman fired him before he could carry out his nuttiest ideas. Why did Truman refuse to commit to all-out war against the communists in Korea? Because he believed Stalin might use his atomic bomb if he did. Lyndon Johnson told John Connally (in Robert Dallek's documentary about LBJ) that he wouldn't use nukes in Vietnam, nor would he invade the north because he feared China and/or Russia would retaliate with nukes of their own. As brutal as those wars were, they could have been many times worse were it not for atomic weapons.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2012-02-22 12:11am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 22446
Elfdart wrote:
thejester wrote:
How are those two things at all mutually exclusive? Pakistan would sell to the Gulf States for money; that sale doesn't in any way mean an end to Iranian oil.
Pakistan would sell its A-bombs to the Gulf States? And invite reprisals if one of those states used it? I think not.
They wouldn't have to sell bombs, really. They could quietly smuggle refined fissiles, or just provide a few technical experts. I've heard rumors they did it for North Korea, and they have a lot less incentive to help North Korea. Of course, maybe the rumors aren't true.

In the event of a nuclear war involving one of the Gulf states, Pakistan would have little to fear from any regional power (Israel or Iran would be idiotic to antagonize Pakistan while fighting a nuclear war with Saudi Arabia). If the nuclear war involved the US, all bets are off because who knows what the US might do, but I think Pakistan could still reasonably hope to avoid nuclear reprisals by denying responsibility. Or at least, they might be willing to believe they can.

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Those last two are so wrong as to be laughable. Who wanted to turn the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam into all-out wars, and when were they deterred by nukes? You realise China didn't have any until 1964, right? That didn't stop them intervening in Korea in the face of potential US nuclear reprisals.
MacArthur certainly did. He even wanted a cobalt barrier at the border. Fortunately Truman fired him before he could carry out his nuttiest ideas. Why did Truman refuse to commit to all-out war against the communists in Korea? Because he believed Stalin might use his atomic bomb if he did.
This was at a time when the US actually had a significant advantage and might well have been able to win a nuclear war against the Soviets- the Americans had bigger bombers, and more of them.

If there was one period when the US could actually have ruthlessly annihilated its Cold War enemies while taking relatively limited damage to its own homeland in return, it would have been in the late '40s and very early '50s.

However, Truman never had any intention of doing so, and I don't think anyone else in a position of control did either.


Although mentioning MacArthur illustrates my point: surely some other country can produce a man as self-righteous and arrogant as MacArthur; America does not have a monopoly on natural-born damn fools. The thought of a new third-world MacArthur with nukes worries me, because I'm not so sure he wouldn't be able to wrangle control of the nuclear arsenal away from the (presumably saner) hands that are more in touch with the survival and safety of the Iranian people.
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Elfdart
PostPosted: 2012-02-22 12:18am 

The Anti-Shep


Joined: 2004-04-28 11:32pm
Posts: 9597
Location: What's the bonus for shooting bad guys from behind?
Simon_Jester wrote:
I am not cheering for unilateral aggressions, or for nuclear proliferations. I view all these things that are happening with great trepidation and fear, because they either make people die now, or could make even more people die in the future.

What disturbs me is that Elfdart seems so busy cheering for nuclear proliferations that he has forgotten that nukes are scary, and should be taken seriously. Having nuclear weapons makes a nation unconquerable, because it can do so much horrible damage that no one would be willing to back it into a corner ever. Being unconquerable is generally good, and I would be pretty happy with the idea of a world where everyone was unconquerable, although I might have some reservations because some things are really horrible and you might want to put a stop to them, like how Vietnam put a stop to the Khmer Rouge, which was pretty righteous of them.


Aren't you too old to be wetting the bed?

The number of people killed by A-bombs, H-bombs, and nuclear accidents is a fraction of the number of people killed off in the Iraq War. It's roughly the same number of people killed off in Central America by US-trained armies and death squads in the 1980s. That's pretty ghastly, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the mass slaughter you get with conventional weapons.

You remind me of no-nukers who think an atomic generator is the most godawful thing on Earth because "OH NOES! TEH RADIASHUN MIGHT GIT US!" while ignoring the many millions of people killed thanks to oil and coal -whether it's the deaths from producing it or worse still the endless wars fought to acquire steal them.

Quote:
But even though nuclear bombs are tools that make you unconquerable, they are not just tools that make you unconquerable. They are also weapons of horrible power, and are incredibly hard to stop, even for someone who has the same power. So there is responsibility that goes with the power- responsibility that good, bad, and neutral regimes alike must take seriously. Because it is not about how moral or nice or "rational" you seem to some foreigner, it is about having your shit together and making sure the nuclear weapons are not used irresponsibly.


What is this? Fucking Spider-Man? If the Iranians had a habit of invading or picking fights with other countries every few months, then this pearl-clutching about Iran behaving "irresponsibly" might have some basis in reality. But since they aren't a nation run by assholes with a raging hard-on for waging wars of aggression (unlike a rather large North American country I could name), then this case of the vapors you've contracted is ridiculous.

Quote:
Elfdart seems so happy that Iran might become unconquerable that he is just laughing and mocking the question of whether Iran will be responsible. And indeed, he seems to totally deny that this responsibility thing is a problem, or that there is any country whose leaders might, by their irresponsibility, become dangerous and bad people to entrust nuclear weapons to.


Whatever you say, Uncle Ben. :roll:
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2012-02-22 12:23am 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 25805
Simon_Jester wrote:
Thanas wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
Did you read Broomstick's post?
Yes. I've snipped out the rest because it was pretty bad rambling without a point. My specific response was to her hand-wriging over aggressive nations, which hilariously left out the most aggressive nation of today.
The US has had a nuclear arsenal for a long time, and has not used it to wage wars of aggression. The wars go on- if you think you can find an era that's abolished war you're dreaming- but If you're worried about nuclear weapons being used for aggression and conquest, or by rogue factions within a government, the US doesn't do it. Other wars go on- we can point to American actions, including violent actions, that have caused massive suffering, just as we can for Russia or China. Being a nuclear power does not confer moral status.*snip irrelevant rest*


Excuse me? Have you read her post? It was listing stuff according to nations being aggressive. your whole response does not only miss the point, it is utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Quote:
The operative question is whether all governments can match the track record. I am not so sure of this. Iran is close enough to the wrong side of the line to make me nervous. Is that hypocritical? Is it hypocritical for me to think Iran's nuclear forces won't be as coup-proof and organized as those of Russia and China? Or to worry that if they turn out not to be, they might manage to kill as many people in an hour as the American war in Iraq killed in a decade? Twice as many? Ten times more? That is well within the power of a nuclear state, if something goes wrong.


Yes, why do you assume automatic incompetency? Iran is running very competent security forces after all who cracked down on insurgencies that would have toppled lesser regimes and who are currently running a very efficient counter-espionage program against the US and Israel trying to stop them. In case of a coup, I would guess the people who would be most worried about getting nuked are those on the losing side of the civil war. In any case, nuclear nations have had coups (Russia for one) and guess what, nothing happened.

Oh, and stop the "I am just a bleeding heart american worrying about those poor Iranies, while I am also arguing with a straight face that we cannot trust those bastards to not nuke themselves or anybody else. Because they are radical muslims, that is why" act. :roll:

BTW, Pakistan is a deal more unstable than Iran. How many nukes have they launched during the recent coup?

Quote:
Here's a hypothetical for you. Suppose the US suddenly vanished off the face of the Earth. Just *poof,* gone, transported off to Never-Neverland, replaced by big open stretches of seawater. Heck, let's say Israel disappears too.

Suddenly, what you consider the two worst things in world geopolitics are gone.


I love how you immediately make the leap from "Thanas is somebody who critizes the US for aggressive actions" to "THANAS THINKS THE USA AND ISRAEL ARE THE WORST." GTFO. For the record, I would argue that the USA falls pretty much into the middle tier of nations as far as atrocities and selling arms are. Definitely the worst of all democracies though, given it has directly or indirectly killed millions.

Also, I love how your only attempt at an intelligent response is "hey, lets just remove the most important players."

Quote:
How would you revise your worldview?

Would the Iranian nuclear program still seem like a good thing?


Another Simon_Leaper. Do I really need to explain that I don't think nations getting nukes is a good thing? How about you go any further in assembling facts not in evidence? Do I also have to state that I do not molest goats?

Maybe you could grow a brain and realize that condemning aggressive actions by one state =/= thinking that state is all perfume and roses, yes?

Quote:
Would you turn your mockery on, say, a Russian who thought it was a bad thing for Iran to have nukes, because of the horrible things Russia does in Chechnya, and their total lack of real democratic government? Would nuclear proliferation still seem like such a good deal in a world where you couldn't kid yourself into thinking the US was about to launch another huge war?


Another Simon_Leaper.


Quote:
If only all Americans and American politicians had a single voice, so that you could debate the ones you disagree with all the time, instead of having to deal with only the ones who are actually present in the room...

Oh, wait. You do that already.


You know, Simon_Leaper, I don't think you really get to crow about who assumes what in this thread.

Quote:
If your argument is with Obama, kindly take it up with someone who's defending him. If your argument is with the idea of bombing Iran, kindly take it up with a country that's actually stated the intention to do that, instead of the US. If your argument is with encouraging Israel to bomb Iran, take it up with a country that's doing that, instead of with the US, which is doing the opposite and telling them NOT to do it.

In other words, take your goddamn strawman and burn it. Or go troll some forum full of neocons, where you might find someone who actually believes the things you want to argue with.


So wait, you do not actually believe Iran getting nukes has the potential to burn down the Middle east and destabilize it? You don't think Israel bombing Iran is understandable? You don't think the US has a right to demonize Iran for "aggressive actions"?

Quote:
Israel is, if we are to be honest about political problems, the one who the missiles are going to be pointed at. What "honest approach to a political problem" would get them around that?

I mean, are they supposed to be happy about this nuclear program belonging to someone who tolerates, from the head of their executive government, rhetoric demanding that Israel cease to exist? Is it somehow dishonest for them to consider this a bad thing, and potentially a dangerous thing that they might seriously consider fighting to avoid?

It may be aggressive, belligerent, stupid, but is it really dishonest?


Call it aggressive, belligerent, stupid, or dishonest. I don't really care.

Quote:
What 'honest approach' do you want from them? What would placate the Iranians to the extent that Israel would no longer have a logical reason to worry about Iran's intentions?´


Israel will always have to worry about the intentions of its neighbours. It is a small country which is seriously weakened by oppressing half of its population and which could not even conquer the half of Lebanon. But guess what, I know what action is not going to end that situation - continuing with treating the sovereign nations around it as if they would have to make sure Israel's wishes for security are fulfilled. Israel is rightfully worried about its security here but it is not taking any steps to provide for detente. None at all.

That does not mean bombing the Iranians and spending the better part of the last three years foaming about the evil Iranians is in any way productive here. At the very worst, if Iran decides to go crazy and nuke Israel there will be MAD. At the very worst, the situation will be like it was between the USA and USSR - two nations that hated each other, but could not do anything about it.

Quote:
Let's assume the Israelis are the very minions of Satan. If you want, condemn them for a million words, each more damning than the last. But when the smoke clears, what do they do next? Without creating any illusions about Iran, how is Israel to convince Iran not to take steps that would put them in greater danger? If Israel suddenly saw the light and became a beacon of good faith, human rights, and antimilitarism, would it actually stop Iran at this point?


I don't know, Simon_Leaper. But assume your ridiculous hypothesis was in any way true - if Israel had seen "the light" (:roll:) and been a friendly nation to Iran and without a history of military violence, wouldn't you agree Iran would have far less reason to worry about Israel? If the US had a stated policy of non-aggression and non-intervention in Iran's neighbour states and never funded a war against them or terrorists inside their country, do you think Iran would be as worried about the US as they are now? What was the driving force to get this - was it Iranian fear that they (as axis of evil) would be next after Iraq? Were it the war plans and open warmongering by half the US population (bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-Iran).

If Iranian politicians call the US an aggressive devil, they are not to be trusted with nukes. If McCain plays that godawful song, no doubt about the US nuking its neighbours is even raised.

Quote:
So... because someone else ten years ago said someone who didn't have a nuclear program might give nuclear material to someone they have no connection to, I am now out of line to worry that someone who does have a nuclear program might give nuclear material to someone they do have a connection to?


Yes, you are. Nation states have never supplied WMDs to terrorist organizations. Because they know these things, if used, will be tracked and result in nuclear war. Go on. Point out one terrorist organization that was supplied one iota of WMDs by a nuclear or WMD-possessing power. Name one. While you are at it, name the political goals Iran would accomplish by doing that.

Nation states only sell WMDs to other nation states. Not to terrorist organizations.


Quote:
I mean, I'd understand your position if it were George Bush you were talking to. But you seem to regard any expression of these opinions by any American as invalid- hypocrisy by association. I live in the same country as them, and my fellow citizens have allowed them to hold power, so I must agree with them. And if I express any opinion that anything else going on in the world is bad, then it becomes an opportunity to unroll the litany of American crimes.


You too allowed them to hold power and you are the one who is sooooo worried about iran getting a bomb. What I am getting at is that you are probably quite okay with the US and Israel taking steps to prevent Iran getting the bomb.

Quote:
I wonder, do you think all Russians are Putinists, or that all Iranians really think theocracy is the best of all possible governments?


I do think the vast majority of Russians probably support Putin because they are brainwashed and do not know any better. Same holds for the Iranians. What is your point here?
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