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January 23, 2005

Cheney Warns of Nuclear Iran

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 6:38 am

From the WaPost

Vice President Cheney said yesterday that Iran is a top threat to world peace and Middle East stability, accusing Tehran of sponsoring terrorism against Americans and building a “fairly robust new nuclear program.”

In an interview aired on MSNBC’s “Imus in the Morning” show a few hours before President Bush’s inaugural address, Cheney warned that Israel “might well decide to act first” militarily to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities if the United States and its allies fail to solve the standoff with Tehran diplomatically.

“Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” Cheney said.

So it looks like that is the plan. Israel will do the airstrike/special-ops stuff in Iran, giving the US additional runway in this game of chicken. Israel has been preparing to wipe out Hezbollah in Iran recently. The two attacks may be coordinated so as to avoid the risk that Iran would respond to such an attack by using Hezbollah to damage Israel. There is also a lot of background chatter in various new sources about the US doing a major assault on terrorist locations in Syria. It would be fabulously efficient if the US and Israel acted simultaneously, but such synchrony might lessen US plausible deniability about attacking Iran.

January 20, 2005

WMD Not Found

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 9:22 am

Josh in comments before said:
just a little reminder. please tell robert and me exactly how the administration was not lying through their teeth.

also tell me why we have not had any terror alerts since the election.

The link notes that the Iraqi Survey Group has stopped trying to find WMD in Iraq and a bunch of quotations from administration officials such as:

We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud
Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition

Given that every intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq had WMD, that the UN (and the Clinton administration) said he had WMD in 1998, that he USED WMD before and we have no record of destruction of them, it seems odd to accuse the Administration of lying. Perhaps the administration was incorrect in their beliefs, but I think lying requires an intent to decieve that certainly appears to be absent. Moreover, given that we don’t know what happenned to the WMD he already possessed, we don’t actually have evidence that they were wrong. The reasonable presumption was that Saddam had WMD and much of the discussion was whether or not his WMD justified action. We also now know that Saddam was intent on being able to produce WMD (including nukes). We now know that the “sixteen words” from Bush’s State of the Union were true; Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium from Africa. I am not saying that the critics were lying when they claimed these 16 words to be false, but there is at this point a lot of evidence that Joseph Wilson, the primary source of these claims, lied quite a lot.

And the fact that Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium, places the Condi quote in context. Given that Saddam was evading the UN inspection regime, we didn’t want to find out he was successful in obtaining nukes the hard way. This justification for war stands regardless of whether WMD are ever found. I would also remind Josh that WMD was one of many justifications for this war, including shutting down his funding of terroritsts, building liberal institutions in the Middle East, securing the oil supply, and enforcing UN resolutions that were imposed on Saddam as the result of his invasion of Kuwait.

As for the absence of terror alerts since the election, I don’t know. Perhaps the terrorists decided that action immediately after an election is a lot less useful than action before an election. On the other hand, checking Google News…FBI Alerts Boston of Four Terror Suspects (from this morning!).

I would suspect that Josh does not actually believe there are terrorists out to get us and that they aren’t networked with the governments of Syria and Iran and the former government of Iraq. Perhaps he is right, but there is a lot of evidence the other way. I wouldn’t count on it and I’m glad that our President doesn’t either.

January 17, 2005

Daft Drafts

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 9:19 am

Josh and Robert both question whether we will engage in regime change in Iran or just do the special forces equivalent of Israel’s 1981 air strike that took out the nuclear reactor at Osiraq in Iraq thereby preventing Saddam from obtaining Nukes. I’d like to believe that we could do a quiet destruction operation that would embarass Iran enough so they wouldn’t talk about it, but I don’t think such an operation is actually plausible. I think we don’t have the on the ground intelligence to know everything we need to know to make such an operation a success. The only real defense here is regime change (which is why I suspect US governemnet officials are making such strong denials of Hersh’s claims).

I suspect the operation is a combination of clandestine attacks and much more loud “tear down this wall” style rhetoric against the Iranian regime. As the regime starts to fall, I can imagine special forces disrupting its attempts to maintain order.

As for Josh’s question about the draft, it makes little sense. People in favor of these sorts of military action believe that it is better to attack now than to attack later when more forces will be required and when more civilian lives would be at risk (e.g. from WMD). The draft question can go in either direction depending on what you believe the merits of the military action to be. As an aside, people in favor or high taxes and regulations are more likely to favor the draft than free marketers who believe people should be free to decide whether to join the military.

US Conducting Secret Missions In Iran

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 8:43 am

Josh and Robert both don’t believe that the US will attack Iran this year. Perhaps they are right, but sources they find credible beleve it is preparing to do so.

The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.”
The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But it disputed the report by Hersh, who last year exposed the extent of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Personally, I find Hersh very non-credible, but I also think it would be irresponsible for the administration NOT to be doing this sort of thing.

China Agggresion Update

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 8:38 am

The Japan Times says Japan is preparing for attack by China:

The Defense Agency has prepared a plan to defend the southern remote islands off Kyushu and Okinawa from possible invasion amid rising security concerns about China, according to documents obtained Saturday by Kyodo News.

The agency compiled the plan in November on the assumption of an invasion of the islands located within a 1,000-km zone between the southern end of Kyushu and Taiwan.

Thousands of islands are scattered in the area. The Senkaku Islands, claimed by both Japan and China, are among them.

The plan calls for a dispatch of 55,000 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Force as well as planes, warships and submarines from the main islands in the event the remote islands are attacked.
“China has been expanding its scope of activities as seen in the case of an incursion of Japanese territorial waters (by a Chinese nuclear submarine) in November. We need to monitor its moves,” the official said.
In September, the agency presented scenarios of Chinese invasions of Japan. A report listed possible attack scenarios by China, including a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands and illegal operations by Beijing over maritime resources in the East China Sea.

The Ground Staff Office of the GSDF previously drafted a plan to cope with cross-strait military conflicts between China and Taiwan. But the new defense plan is the first penned by the agency on the assumption of an invasion of the southern remote islands.

I found this article via this, but the page has dissapeared. He noted that it was extremely odd for this information to be leaked and was wondering what was really going on.

January 4, 2005

Is "Forcing Democracy" like "Fighting for Peace"?

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 2:33 pm

In the comments on my last Iran posts, Josh says “democracy forced is not democracy. it is, above all else, temporary.” I’ve heard comments like this from a variety of anti-war folks and it always strikes me either as oxymoronic or very conservative. Is Josh saying that the people of Iraq don’t want democracy? How would he know? Perhaps the Iraqis should vote on it! Polls indicate that elections are wildly popular with the people of Iraq, and turnout is expected to be higher than it was here in our last election. Perhaps Josh is saying that we are planning to force people to go to the polls and tell them for whom they must vote? I am not aware of any evidence for that. Or, perhaps Josh is saying that the terrorists in Iraq will intidiate too many people from going to the polls for him to consider the election legitimate. The question then is 1. how do you tell and 2. isn’t it then incumbent on the elected government representing the portion or Iraq not occupied by terrorists to liberate the portion that is?

But, Josh says that “democracy forced is temporary.” I’m not sure what he means here either except the claim that the terrorists and their foreign allies who want to keep the Iraqis from having democracy will eventually overpower the forces of democracy there. He might be right, but that sort of depends on the choices WE make. Among these choices are whether US forces help kill terrorists in places like Fallujah or Najaf. And, among those choices are what we do about the parts of the Syrian, Iranian, and Saudi governments that are helping them. And I suppose that Josh believes either that we did not “force democracy” in Germany, Japan, France, or S. Korea or that they are no democracies or that they are all temporary.”

In the rest of his comment, Josh, effectively, is saying that the Iraqis now all hate us because they would have preferred to continue the life they had under Saddam and his sons to what they have gotten or will get as a result of liberation. Given that most Iraqis when polled indicate a preference for liberation and that elections are wildly popular and that in many ways conditions for most Iraqis are vastly superior to how they were beforehand, I would be curious to know his justification for such a claim.

December 24, 2004

Iran's leader declares war with US (or democracy). Demands Nukes By January

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 2:27 pm

From WorldNetDaily

Ayatollah Khamenei last July told a group of mullahs meeting in Hamadan, west of Tehran, that, “We are at war with the enemy,” meaning the United States. “The central battlefield is Iraq.” Iran is funding insurgents right now to cross the border and destabilize Iraq before the scheduled January elections. “We must have two bombs ready to go in January,” the Ayatollah told the gathering in Hamadan, “or you are not Muslims.”

The Iraqi elections are scheduled for January. Is this a coincidence?

September 30, 2004

War with Iran Nov. 3

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 12:04 pm

(Via Belmont Club) Caroline Gilck of the Jerusalem Post notes:

Iran this week summarily rejected the latest call by the International Atomic Energy Agency to cease all its uranium enrichment programs. Speaking at a military parade on Tuesday, where Iran’s surface-to-surface Shihab-3 ballistic missiles earmarked “Jerusalem” were on prominent display, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami defied the IAEA, saying: “We will continue along our path [of uranium enrichment] even if it leads to an end to international supervision.”

US and European sources involved in tracking the Iranian nuclear program have made clear in recent weeks that Iran is between four and six months away from nuclear “break-out” capacity. This means that in the next four to six months Iran will have the nuclear fuel cycle complete, and will be able to independently construct nuclear bombs whenever it wishes. More conservative estimates have spoken of 12-24 months.

On Tuesday, Bush was on the O’Reilly show:

O’REILLY: Would you allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?

BUSH: We are working our hearts out so that they don’t develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them.

O’REILLY: Is it conceivable that you would allow them to develop a nuclear weapon?

BUSH: No, we’ve made it clear, our position is that they won’t have a nuclear weapon.

O’REILLY: Period.

BUSH: Yes.

So given the anticipated Iran nuclear schedule and their unwillingess to change it, it looks like we are on a collision course. The possible “out” is that a country other than the US takes out Iran’s nuclear capability e.g. Israel. From CNN:

Iran has said it will react “most severely” to any Israeli action against its nuclear facilities, issuing the warning after Israel said the United States was selling it 500 bunker buster bombs.

Israeli military officials said Tuesday that the Jewish state will receive nearly 5,000 smart bombs, including the 500 one-ton bombs that can destroy two-yard-thick (two-meter-thick) concrete walls.

Israel has good reason to preempt an Iranian nuclear capability among other things because the intent of Iran’s program is clearly directed at Israel’s destruction. In addition to the aforementioned “Jerusalem” missiles, Iran’s leadership has expressed a clear intent. From the Iran Press Service:


TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran’s most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them “damages only”.

“If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world”, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.

If Israel preempts Iran’s nuclear capability, does Iran retaliate aganist the US or just Israel?

August 16, 2004

French Intrasigence

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 2:32 pm

I think Nicholas is among my readers who believes that better diplomacy would have corralled the French into supporting the war in Iraq. To me this seems really dubious. French policy has been to balance the Anglo-sphere for at least a generation. Via a comment at “The American Thinker, Here is the origin document.

The current issue of the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review has the first English translation of a remarkable document (“Outline of a Doctrine of French Policy”) written in 1945 by French philosopher Alexander Kojeve, and given to Charles de Gaulle. This appears to have become a guiding light to French diplomats and politicians over the last 60 years.

The thesis begins with an understanding that the post WW II world will be split into a US-dominated bloc and a Russian-dominated bloc. Kojeve called on France to develop a third bloc — which he called the Latin bloc. This bloc would be composed of groups of nations bordering the Mediterranean and which share a certain cultural sensibility. He advocated for an economic alliance which presciently resembles the European Union. Tellingly, he also called for an accommodation and partnership with Islamic nations, and stated that this unity can be based on a mutual opposition to other trends (the enemy of my enemy is my friend).

In the glorious future he foretold, France would reign over this transnational alliance of nations as primus inter pares. Only this transformation would ensure continued French power in opposition to the Anglo alliance lead by America.

A worthwhile read-even if studded with occasional flights of philosophical fancy.

August 5, 2004

Multilateralism and Bush

Filed under: War Politics — admin @ 2:07 pm

Nicholas and Robert in the comments on previous posts complain that Bush was did not get international support for the war with Iraq and that Kerry would be more multilateral. In response to these sorts of claims, Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post notes:

As former Clinton administration official and current Kerry foreign policy adviser Richard Holbrooke put it to the Post, the Bush administration advocated “extremist ideas” that had “never had a voice in the policymaking bodies of the executive branch.” One such idea, the Post paraphrased, was “acting unilaterally.” But what does “acting unilaterally” mean? It does not mean “going it alone.” After all, there are several dozen other countries actively involved in US operations in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan.

Neither does “acting unilaterally” mean that in Iraq the US is acting outside of a clear UN Security Council mandate. Ahead of the US-led operations in Kosovo in 1999, in which Holbrooke played a key role, Russia used the threat of its Security Council veto to prevent the US from taking action under a UN umbrella. Yet no one has ever accused the US of acting unilaterally in Kosovo.

What “acting unilaterally” actually means to Holbrooke and Kerry is that the multilateral coalition Bush assembled in Iraq does not include France. It was France that prevented a UN Security Council resolution backing the US-led invasion, and it was France that led the EU and NATO to reject US requests to forge coalitions under whose aegis the US would lead the war against Saddam’s regime.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about the danger and stupidity of following the wishes of the French. But the main point here is that these unilateral accusations are baseless and repeating them does not make them true. I would further add that absent some claim about the value of including France they also have little content. I challenge critics to explain just what would have been accomplished by including France (and how much it would have cost to do so)..

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