Archive for the 'Iran' Category

Napoleonic Appeasement

It is not easy to fathom the mindset that believes Obama has found a path to peace in our times. We call it appeasement because that is what Neville Chamberlain, its best-known advocate, proudly called it.  Appeasers believe that every opponent is a reasonable person suffering only from an inferiority complex, in need of friendly outreach and professional counseling.  It is a twin error with isolationism, which is the belief that we have enemies only because we have friends.

We tend to frame appeasement in 1930’s Hitlerite terms.  Since the reductio ad hitlerum is properly suspect (one only needs to counter that “Iran is not Hitler”), it may be useful to look for other examples.

In the early years of the 19th century, European leaders were perplexed by the problem of an aggressively revolutionary France.  The Chamberlains and Obamas of the day thought that they could cut deals with Napoleon.

Here are some prescient words from a 1954 doctoral thesis on the subject.

The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions.  Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane… 

“Appeasement”… is the result of an inability to come to grips with a policy of unlimited objectives. But it is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.

It does not take much vision to see in these words the thinking of the Islamic Republic of Iran:  “a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.”

Think about today’s leaders in the West (including Mr. Obama), “…treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical...” As if “Death to America!” and “Erase Israel from the Map” were just political sloganeering!

“…as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes…”  As if Iran really wanted to live in peace with its neighbors, or anyone else (except other Shiite Muslim theocracies, of which there are thankfully none yet)!

“…as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions…”  As if the Mullahs really wanted only to build nuclear power plants, so they could end their reliance on foreign oil!  (Has any diplomat ever asked Iran why it wants or needs ANY nuclear capacity?)

“Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists”, as Mister Netanyahu, Joe Lieberman, and other voices in the Wilderness know only too well.  Someday (heaven forfend), their names may be listed on a tragic honor roll along with that of Winston Churchill.

As for the wishful optimists, the “balanced and sane” folks who counsel “adaptation to circumstance”, well, you know who they are.

[If you are interested in the name of the doctoral student who wrote the above analysis, it is Henry Kissinger, in A World Restored; Europe After Napoleon: The Politics of Conservatism in a Revolutionary Age.  It is well worth a read.]
As always, I’d be interested in your reaction.  Just click the “Leave a comment” button up top, and have at it.

WW12ID: What Would the 12th Imam Do?

The latest news from Iran.  According to the AP, “Iran may be cleaning up nuke work”.  That is, they appear from satellites to be cleaning up radioactive debris from a site where they appear to be testing “nuclear triggers”.  The report comes from diplomats working with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The IAEA has already identified the Parchin military site as the location of suspected nuclear weapons-related testing. In a November report, it said it appeared to be the site of experiments with conventional high explosives meant to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.

“It did not mention a neutron initiator as part of those tests but in a separate section cited an unnamed member nation as saying Iran may have experimented with a neutron initiator, without going into detail or naming a location for such work.”

If you are wondering what a nuclear initiator looks like, don’t bother asking at your nearest nuclear power plant.  Peaceful users of nuclear energy don’t need them.  Only warheads need them.

This must all be very mysterious to the great minds in the Obama Administration who think Iran just can’t make up its mind.  Continue reading ‘WW12ID: What Would the 12th Imam Do?’

Iran Should Not Be A Partisan Issue!

An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his US Senator, Jon Tester.  It is worth reading.

Dear Senator Tester:

On Oct. 6, you issued a public statement raising the issue of US companies doing business with the dangerous regime in Iran.  I appreciate your doing so; it was long overdue.

Iran is clearly the number one threat to world peace: an apocalyptic regime committed to the destruction of a democratic neighbor state, implacably
hostile to the US, a fountainhead of terrorism, murderer and oppressor to its own people.  And for years this dangerous regime has bent all its efforts at developing nuclear weapons.  The response of the US and the West has been all too feeble.

But I was deeply disappointed to see you raise this all-important issue for the apparent purpose of taking a partisan cheap shot at a political enemy!  By spotlighting Koch Industries as the only mentionable company doing business with Iran, you used an international crisis to score points on a major Republican supporter, rather than unmasking just how serious this problem is across the board.

True, Koch Industries is on the list of companies doing business with Iran.  But so are the following:

High-tech firms like Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, Dell Computers, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, MCI, and United Technologies.

Continue reading ‘Iran Should Not Be A Partisan Issue!’

The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran

Once again, a rising military aggressor is bent on domination of its neighbors and holocaust of the Jews.  And once again, the nations (in this case, one nation) which could stop them fails to act.

The arc of the Iran story is so redolent of the 1930’s British appeasers (not just Baldwin and Chamberlain, but a genuine broad-based political consensus, except for Churchill) that both stories can be told in the same words.

Stage One:  “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war, but it is not strong enough to threaten peace anywhere. The real danger is posed by our ally (France/Israel).”

Stage Two: “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war and getting stronger every day, but they are not irrational.  They may threaten the peace, but their fear of our ally (France/Israel), backed by their fear of us, will be sufficient to deter them.”

Stage Three: “(Germany/Iran) is a threat to peace.  They are already too strong for us to stop them militarily.  We must rely on diplomacy to make the best deal with them we can.” Continue reading ‘The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran’

Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground

Lost in the (certainly justifiable, if premature) celebration of the imminent fall of the monster Gaddafi, the world seems to be underreacting to this disturbing AP news story from the Middle East:

Iran moves centrifuges to underground site

“Islamic Republic transfers some of its uranium enrichment machines to subterranean facility
offering better protection from possible airstrikes:  Associated Press”

Iran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday.”

“Engineers are “hard at work” preparing the facility in Fordo, which is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks, to house the centrifuges, Fereidoun Abbasi was quoted as saying by state TV.”

What makes this puzzling is that authoratative-sounding media pundits and prestigious national security experts have been assuring us for years that Iran’s nuclear program could not be stopped by airstrikes, since it was buried in deep subterranean facilities.  This was all patiently explained to neocon hotheads who called for air action similar to the successful attacks that ended both Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs in past decades.  As the “wise men” made clear, the only alternative to diplomacy and sanctions was a horrendous nightmare of “boots on the ground”; and nobody wants that now, do they?

So now it turns out that the uranium centrifuges, the biggest and most vulnerable part of the program, were sitting around in the open air?   Oops.

This whole debate had settled down somewhat in recent years, as both the Administration and the news media (but I repeat myself?) took their eye off the Iranian ball.  If you want a refresher course in this denialism, take a look back at my dialogue with Frankie Sturm,  then Communications Director of the Truman Democrats (a misnamed organization trying to resurrect national security credibility for the Democratic Party).  The title was “A Perfect Storm of Appeasement”, and it was written in February of 2009 – two and a half years ago.

Here is Mr. Sturm, expressing the left’s conventional wisdom at the time (and since):

There’s a lot out there on the futility of air strikes. Here is one article from the Atlantic and another link to a study by the Oxford Research Group. It was easy to take out Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1983 because the entire program was contained in that single, above ground installation. The suspected nuclear site in Syria that Israel took out recently is a similar story – it was just one above ground building. Iran learned from the Israeli airstrike against Iraq in 1983. That’s why they’re so thoroughly buried underground.

Oops. Continue reading ‘Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground’

Lead, Mr. President !

[An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his local newspaper.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  It would be a good thing if every concerned citizen did the same with his or her local paper.  The author assures me he won’t object to any degree of plagiarism.]

During the 2008 campaign, Candidate Obama was clear about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  In a “60 Minutes” interview (9/22/2008), he said:

“I think that a nuclear armed Iran is …a game changer in the region. It’s unacceptable. And that’s why I’ve said that I won’t take any options off the table, including military, to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier (July 23, 2008), he told an Israeli audience: “That is our single most important threat to Israel but also to the United States of America. So this is something that we’re going to spend a lot of time working on.”

Since then, Iran’s nuclear weapons program has progressed unimpeded.  The centrifuges continue to hum, fuel continues to be stockpiled, and the only remaining question is when the first Iranian nukes will be ready to mount on their missiles.  When, not if.

And where is President Obama’s commitment “to spend a lot of time working on” the problem?  Whatever happened to all the “options” he so boldly kept on the table?  It appears that the options, along with the “single most important threat to the USA”, have somehow fallen off the president’s table. Continue reading ‘Lead, Mr. President !’

Agnostic about Genocide?

My friend Ben Finiti talks of having become a political agnostic, uncomfortable taking sides on many of the most contentious issues of our time. I feel the same – up to a point. I agree that many questions (stimulus, bailouts, immigration, health care, etc.) offer at least two sides with plausible concerns, relevant facts, and about the same level of good- and bad-faith arguments.  To invest in one position, I must do one of two things. I must decide that I know what this is all about and am sufficiently informed, disinterested, and dispassionate to be able to say which position should prevail. Or I must use my affiliations as guides to my positions (“My friends/family/party are for it, so that must be the right position.”) Like Ben, I find it increasingly difficult to do either on most issues.

But not on all issues. In the Middle East and around the world today, a struggle of titanic proportions is taking shape. The battles are still small by 20th-century standards. In Afghanistan and Iraq, US troops fight in the field.  Around the globe, security forces try to thwart murderous terrorists before they can strike at civilian targets.  Under multiculturalist banners, unassimilable immigrants demand recognition of Sharia law, accommodation of “honor killings”, and punishment for anti-Islamic speech. Continue reading ‘Agnostic about Genocide?’

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