Responding to Our Signals

In response to folks who insist on seeing Iran’s leadership as rational actors, Mark Steyn makes the somewhat obvious point that even a rational response to the pressures — the “stimulus,” if you will — that the United States is bringing to bear for Iran leads to a very dangerous place:

But let’s flip Dr Brzezinski’s point around: An American might conclude that Iran isn’t suicidal. But can the Iranians make the same confident claim about America? After all, we’ve just let them go nuclear — not under cover of darkness, as Pakistan did, but in slow motion and in open contempt of the US and its European negotiators. Why would you do that? Iran doesn’t observe even the minimal courtesies of mutually hostile states: It seizes foreign embassies at home, and blows them up on the other side of the world; it kidnaps the sailors of permanent members of the UN Security Council in international waters; it seeds terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon, and backs terrorist attacks all over the world. And it pays no price for any of this. If you can’t rouse yourself to prevent a rogue state with a thirty-year consistent pattern of behavior getting nukes, what else won’t you rouse yourself for?

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Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I’m not part of the intellectually lazy Howard Zinn “everything America does is wicked” camp, but I could come up with an equally compelling parade of horribles for our own country if I had the inclination to do so. Not sayin’ we don’t do any good for the world either… just sayin’.

David P
David P
11 years ago

Not sure what your point is. Are you saying that the United States have done bad things; that there’s no real difference between nuclear-armed U.S. and a nuclear-armed Iran; and that we therefore should not regard a nuclear Iran as a threat to peace and security? Or is it that a nuclear Iran is a threat but the United States have no moral authority to resist or thwart Iran’s development of nuclear weapons? If it’s the latter then you kind of make Mark Steyn’s point. We recognize a threat but we won’t do anything to prevent it. Such a position would seem to invite Iran to see just how far it can go.

Sammy
Sammy
11 years ago

“Not under the cover of darkness as Pakistan did” ??
Mark Steyn, like (most, not all right-wingnuts) never lets the truth, or actual fakes, cloud his writings.
In 1985, Pakistan crossed the threshold of weapons-grade uranium production, and by 1986 it is thought to have produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Pakistan continued advancing its uranium enrichment program, and according to the CIA, the nation acquired the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion in 1987. And the Reagan administration, was well aware of it. but looked the other way

Sammy
Sammy
11 years ago

Typo
fakes= facts

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I really question whether Iran is a threat to the United States in the first place. If they ever did launch a nuke against us, against anyone else, or even placed a nuke in the stream of commerce, it would instantly be the end of their country and they know that. I doubt even 1/10 of the in-patients at a mental hospital would do such a thing, and the Iran leadership isn’t crazy. “We’re dealing with madmen! The rules don’t apply!” is such a lame excuse for throwing all reason and proportionality out the door.
I refuse to live in fear. I know that if somebody really wanted to break into my house or kill me when I go out to the car in the morning I’d be powerless to stop them. I just take reasonable precautions and live my life, and that’s exactly what the United States should do. Spending trillions and trillions of dollars and getting involved in everyone’s business all over the world isn’t just useless, it’s counterproductive. It’s no way for a person or a country to behave.
Nuclear armament could actually be a good thing. Look at what it did for China, Russia, India, Pakistan. MAD forces countries to deal with each other rationally and politely.
What’s the absolute worst case scenario, they destroy one of our cities? That’s been going on since Biblical times. We’d crush them in retaliation, plunder their country, and that would be that.

David P
David P
11 years ago

“If they ever did launch a nuke against us, against anyone else, or even placed a nuke in the stream of commerce, it would instantly be the end of their country and they know that.”
How do they know that? If Iran directly attacked the United States in a way that leaves no doubt about its involvement, I think its safe to say that Iran’s doom would be sealed. Short of that, what evidence have we given through our actions that we are prepared to destroy Iran in response to a nuclear attack?
President Obama has repeatedly said that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable.” If Iran does acquire nuclear weapons and we take no effective action, we put the lie to all those pronouncements. Iran is entitled to wonder just how far it can go

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Gee,I’ve noticed that leftists never are concerned with facts in the immigration debate.They substitute false histrionics and whine about “racism”like Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the bell.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

The ability to vaporize a city is not the only attractive benefit for a rogue regime, maybe not even the greatest. If the U.S. and the West have been so passive in allowing Iran to move toward nuclear capability, how much more so will we be for its future efforts when there’s a nuclear weapon in the mix?

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

With regards to Iran having a nuclear capability, I’m not so sure they’re interesting in launching them at the US. I think they have nearer neighbors they’d prefer to launch them at. I think given the choice, Iran (and other similar countries) would prefer to blow up Israel.
That being said, I’m surprised that no one brought up the usual point that even if Iran had nuclear bombs, they have no way of launching them at the US. The reason that a country like Iran can’t be trusted with a nuclear bomb is they wouldn’t want to develop it for the purpose of launching it, they’d want it for the purpose of *selling* it. What is a fully-armed nuclear bomb worth to say, al-Qaeda? $1B? What would it be worth to a terrorist organization to set off a nuclear bomb in Times Square, Washington DC or even say Hollywood? Would it really be that hard to get the pieces into the country, assemble it here and then set it off somewhere? I really think that’s where the value is. Then a country like Iran (or at least its President) gets really rich and his hands are clean as he sends his condolences.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

“If the U.S. and the West have been so passive in alowing Iran to move toward nuclear capability…”
That’s their right as signatories to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (unlike a certain other Middle Eastern country I know of). Who knew that sovereign states needed our permission as global overlord!
So your problem is basically that you think the US should act as a rogue state and ignore treaty obligations when it suits our interests? When’s the invasion? The other two are going swimmingly!

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Meanwhile back on planet earth…
Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities
“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons
program;”
And…
“Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined
to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment
that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure
suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged
previously.”
They must be insane!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Let’s see-Israel has nukes.Indisputable.Probably a few hundred warheads.
Isreal has triple layered delivery capability-bombers,submarines,nd ballistic missiles.Which work,unlike N.Korea’s roman candles.
Israel has never threatened another country with destruction.
Most of the major Arab states(Egypt,Saudi Arabia,Syria,Iraq)have repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction-i.e.”drive the Jews into the sea”per Nasser.
They found it easier said than done,so they’ve cooled their jets on that.
Now comes non-Arab Shi’ite Iran with promises of the same.
Israel would be crazy to accede to any nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Iran won’t attack the US directly because they would get one of our cities and disappear into volcanic glass.
Even Obama would have to act.Matter of fact,his weak-kneed posture makes that more likely than with a Ronald Reagan.
I know,Russ,that you have a real hatred for Israel and “Zionists”so your post doesn’t surprise me.
I don’t know if you’re a Jew hater and don’t much care-I’ve run into plenty of them.The world has legions of them.I’m neither a practicing Jew nor a Zionist,but that matters not at all to Jew haters.My advice to them is leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.
That seems to be Israel’s stance.
Hard to blame them for it.
None of the above makes me an apologist for Israel’s settlement policies nor their occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
If those two situations were resolved,the Jew haters wouldn’t be slowed down in their evil designs for a second.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

“Israel has never threatened another country with destruction.” Wow, Joe. That’s a whopper, especially because that’s the kind of rhetoric spouted constantly by the Israeli right-wing, not to mention that a country with hundreds of warheads by definition is threatening other countries with destruction. Minister of National Infrastructures and former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer sent Iran a warning Monday, saying “an Iranian attack on Israel will lead to a harsh response by Israel that will cause the destruction of the Iranian nation.” Here’s another one from this year… We’ll return Syria to the Stone Age by crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us,” said an Israeli minister, who who was speaking off-the-record, last week. The warning, which was conveyed to Damascus by a third party, was sent to reinforce an earlier signal by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister. “If a war breaks out the Assad dynasty will lose its power and will cease to reign in Syria,” he said earlier this year. Yes, the threats of force are usually expressed as “defense”, but by that standard any country in the region could claim that Israel poses the same type of existential threat because of their “secret” nuclear arsenal and because of their history of attacks against neighboring states, most recently the invasion of Lebanon and the air strikes against Syria. Iran has no such history, despite their belief that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” (that’s the accurate quote no matter how many times you folks repeat the “destroy Israel” lie) because “history shows us that oppressive and cruel governments do not survive.” That’s not so different than the stuff you hear daily on right-wing talk about Iran, Iraq,… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Talk about whoppers-you vomit Ahmedinajad’s BS on cue.
I think you’ve made your position clear.
Avigdor Lievberman is an extremist.
There is point in further discussion with you on this topic.
Oh,yeah,the Holocaust was made up too.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Joe,
How could we question somebody so clearly objective in his application of principle? If you cut out all prior context and look only at each individual action, then each is an act of aggression, even if, you know, it looks like defense.
Anybody who wants to know where Russ is coming from, in searching for his little threads of equivalence, need only follow his link purporting to return us to planet Earth. He conveniently leaves out the subsequent findings that Iran has continued to work to enrich uranium in a way that could easily be shifted to weaponization when the technology hits that point.
In other words, the finding that “Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program” translates to: “We find it politically expedient not to put that label on its activities, at this time.”

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I actually meant to say there was no point in further discussion.
His outlook is what he wants it to be having no connection with the facts.
I would hate to see a nuclear weapon employed by any state.A bunker buster on the Iranian parliament when the leadership is present might not be a bad idea.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

You guys are welcome to question the findings of our own intelligence agencies if you like (produced under the Bush administration I might add). I can cite quite a bit more from the IAEA, but to what end given your willful ignorance on the subject?
Without any shred of supporting evidence about the Iranian nuclear “threat,” objective readers should chalk this diary up under the same kind of wild-eyed conjecture that led us into the Iraq war.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Gee,
I wonder what country established the principle that if one has a good reason, dropping a nuclear bomb on a city is okay? In fact, if you really want to make a point, drop two.
I guess if you declare yourself a good guy and your enemy a bad guy you can posture behind morality, while maintaining a nuclear arsenal and calling another nation irrational and frightening.
I wonder what country has combat troops all over the world and considers itself peace loving? I wonder why another country is called “rogue” when it has no combat troops outside of its borders.
OldTimeLefty

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL- a bunker buster is a conventional munition.I don’t advocate “nuking” anything except frozen food.
I DO think killing off the top echelon in Iran would save a lot of lives,mostly Iranian.
If you want to call me names,have at it.
Matters not.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

joe,
Who in hell mentioned, “bunker buster”?
Who accused you of wanting to nuke anything?
We often disagree, but I don’t think I ever called you a name? joe has been good with me.
Quizzically,
OldTimeLefty

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL-I thought you were responding to my thought about targeting the Iranian ruling clique.
Better to eliminate a few dozen really vile people than 100,000 “collateral” victims.
No,actually we haven’t traded personal insults.
In any event,if I was wrong,I was wrong.It happens.
The whole situation over there is more dangerous for the world than most people want to imagine.
Netanyahu is not likely to show restraint if Israel is attacked with unconventional weapons,like chemical agents.Nuclear retaliation might set off WW3 (or 4?).

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