A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Belmont Club's "Good News" Follow-up: Iran

The invaluable Wretchard over at Belmont Club has an excellent discussion going about the issues raised in my "Good News" post below:

"The Closing Door

"Caroline Glick argues in the Sept 23 edition of the "Jerusalem Post" that the sole remaining hope of preventing the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to put the ball in the air and hope for a miracle basket, an act of desperation that would rank with Jerry West's 60-foot buzzer beater in the 1970 NBA playoffs."....

"President Bush, in an interview on Fox News on Sept 27, reiterated his determination to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons in the most uninformative manner possible.

"My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically," Bush tells Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" in the first part of a three-part interview to begin airing tonight. "All options are on the table, of course, in any situation," Bush said. "But diplomacy is the first option."

"What President Bush will do with the clock running out is anyone's guess. But it's three points down and five seconds to go."

Joseph Marshall:

I would agree with you here, Wretchard, but you should add that, as of now, the other guys have the ball.

"any strike would make it logically necessary to subsequently topple the Teheran regime by any means necessary."

This is also, I think, correct, and the fundamental reason why we continue to, effectively, do nothing. We simply don't have the muscle for this follow-through. I do not think our position in the Middle East at the moment is one where we could seriously consider invading Iran, let alone Iran and Syria together, whether or not anybody throws a lot of JADM's around there.

We cannot commit significantly more combat troop numbers, as far as I can see. And I notice that all the people who think we CAN do this are as clueless about the need to plan an occupation of Iran and Syria, (assuming they would even fall to invasion as quickly as an already half-decimated Iraq did) as George and the boys were about occupying Iraq. Bellicosity is an attitude which simply refuses to learn from experience, I suppose.

Let's consider it abstractly, and factor in a generous increase in our troops, say to 250,000. I don't think we could field this number on short notice, but let's assume it. Let's also assume that "shock and awe" and JDAM's give us a "catastrophic success", just like Iraq. Best case scenario, right? What then?

Well, we are then faced with trying to police everything from the Mediteranian Sea to the Hindu Kush Mountains with a mere 250,000 men! A sort of a cinemascope and ultra-panovision version (showing my age here, I know) of our problems in Iraq! Not just pacifying and rebuilding TWO large inhospitible countries and turning them into "showplaces of democracy and free enterprise", but doing it for about 2/3s of the entire Middle East! With just 250,000 men! Breathtaking prospect, isn't it?

I just don't believe this is going to happen any time soon. So I don't think we are going to have anything but a nuclear Iran. I've been ranting on my own blog about the boneheaded "leadership" that has led to this, so I won't do it here.

I would point out, however, for all those of the "containment" and MAD school of thought, that the real danger of a nuclear Iran is not that it will throw nukes around, or even that it will give nukes to terrorists. The real danger is that it will become what Afghanistan was, the functional center of Muslim terrorist training and organization, but this time a center which will be untouchable by anything short of nuclear war.

Nice outcome for a "war on terror", isn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was poorly reasoned, Joseph. You could learn something by listening to the debate before posting your own agenda and prejudice. At best you can expect that you will be ignored. You did see that your post was ignored, right?

6:07 PM  
Blogger Daytona_Rider said...

I have to agree with the last comment... Unfortunatly you are of the mind that we should act like nothing out there is dangerous and be "nice" to everyone and that will make everyone like us. People out there hate us - not for what President Bush has done although it seems that most on the left wish to blame him for every bad thing that comes down the pike. People out there hate us because we are Americans... no other reason. We enjoy freedom, we attempt to spread our ideas in the world because we think they work and we are proud of them. We don't blown ourselves up or fly planes into buildings to do it - we sometimes use force to defend or pre-empt attack yes but that is the new reality in which we live...

Remember 911? I do. Many of us do. Being nice the the terrorists isn't going to make 911 never happen again - only killing them and making sure that everyone who even contemplates doing something like that again is dead BEFORE THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO DO IT - not after they have done it.

My opinion - but I think it makes sense.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Well, I'm not quite sure what Anonymous means by "poorly reasoned". I start from the premise that a "surgical strike" against Iran would require a follow-up of invasion. Surely there is nothing amiss with this? Our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq would remain open to attack from Iranian missiles and the covert Iranian support of the Taliban and Iraqi insurgencies would become extensive and overt, making our job there much harder. We would have to invade as a follow-up to airstrikes. Anything wrong with premise #1?

I add to it premise #2, that a total number of 250,000 troops is all that could be committed to the region on short notice for an invasion. The total number of all our troops abroad is about 350,000, including all the people who have to ride a desk rather than a tank and carry a soup ladle rather than a rifle. We have more troops at home, but we've already used them in the combat rotation and it takes a full year to get them ready to go again. So 2/3 of our total force abroad seems quite generous to me. Any problems with premise #2?

Premise #3 is that we invade both Iran and Syria (we dislike them both, and think them a threat, so why not?) and they fall down just as easily as Iraq. I don't think this would happen, but that's the best case scenario. Anything else is a lot nastier and even less of a reason to start what we can't finish. Premise #3 is the best we can expect. So what's wrong with premise #3?

If we have two more "missions accomplished" like Iraq, we then have the job of stablizing Syria and Iran in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan. They share borders each with the others, the western part of Syria begins at the Mediterrainian Sea, and the eastern part of Afghanistan ends at the Hindu Kush Mountains. So,if you look at a map carefully, there is a VAST land area which we would have to secure with our 250,000 troops. We can't just let them sit there after we defeat them, now can we? That's how we got into our current trouble in Iraq, right? So what's wrong with premise #4?

Now given all these premises, I think an attack on Iran is unlikely because I can see no strategic military option AFTER we strike the nuclear facilities which any sane military commander would want to face.

Perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps someone could enlighten me. Perhaps they don't argue with me because I am incapable of the nice degree of reasoned argument that they possess.

But maybe, just maybe, why they don't argue with me is that my reasoning is actually that hard to refute.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: Think Again

"Well, I'm not quite sure what Anonymous means by "poorly reasoned"." -- Joseph Marshall

I think it was that way too. And for a number of reasons. Please allow me to fisk.

"I start from the premise that a "surgical strike" against Iran would require a follow-up of invasion." -- Joseph Marshall

What makes you say that? Did Israel invade Iraq in '81, after it conducted a 'surgical strike' against Saddam's nuclear weapons development site? No.

And they won't need to invade Iran after they knock out the mullah's nuclear development site, either.

"I add to it premise #2, that a total number of 250,000 troops is all that could be committed to the region on short notice for an invasion." -- Joseph Marshall

Actually, we really wouldn't need that many. And certainly not the 350K you think with the added on logistical support units. Those are already in the 250K figure.

"Premise #3 is that we invade both Iran and Syria (we dislike them both, and think them a threat, so why not?) and they fall down just as easily as Iraq. I don't think this would happen, but that's the best case scenario." -- Joseph Marshall

Why would we invade BOTH Iran and Syria at once? That's the sort of stupid mistake Hitler made when he opened up a second front on the other side of his country. And we all know what happened then. [Note: Again, I strongly urge you to get a copy of Civilization: Call to Power, and learn about this sort of thingie. I could even teach you, over the internet.]

"So what's wrong with premise #4?" -- Joseph Marshall

Please pardon my ignorance, but where IS 'premise #4'? I don't see it mentioned here.

"Perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps someone could enlighten me." -- Joseph Marshall

Well, I had not noticed this entry on your blog before I published What Next?And then you read it. Maybe the others here have not.



12:09 PM  

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