February 05, 2007

That Tired, Old Objection

You can count on the exhausted, muddleheaded, pathetically weak Brits to drag out this hoary chestnut:
In the report, Time to Talk: The Case for Diplomatic Solutions on Iran, the coalition accuses Mr Blair of using the prospect of military action as a negotiating tool.

Launching the report, former Labour minister Stephen Twigg, director of the Foreign Policy Centre, said: "The consequences of military action against Iran are not only unpalatable; they are unthinkable."


They warn that a strike against Iran would continue to destabilise the region and provoke further attacks against British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Military action is not likely to be a short, sharp engagement but could have a profound effect on the region, with shock waves felt far beyond," the report says.


Sir Richard Dalton, the British ambassador to Iran until last year, backed the calls for increased diplomacy.

"Recourse to military action - other than in legitimate self-defence - is not only unlikely to work but would be a disaster for Iran, the region and quite possibly the world," he said.
Lemme see now. Invading and occupying Iraq might have multiplied and expanded the enemies we face. I mean, gosh, we could have murdered an entire country, and over half a million innocent Iraqis. Funnily enough, we might have strengthened Iran immeasurably and made it the major power in the region (except for the United States, natch).

We could have violated the Nuremberg principle condemning unprovoked, aggressive war as a monstrous crime, and thus branded ourselves a barbarian nation.

Whew. Good. I was worried there for a second. That sure stopped us.


I seem to recall writing something on this subject before. Oh, yes. Here it is, from almost exactly one year ago:
I underscore these points: the Bush administration was repeatedly told that Saddam was being kept "in his box," and that the best policy was one of aggressive inspections and the avoidance of war. The Bush administration was repeatedly told that the prospects for Western-style democracy in Iraq were very bleak, and that Iraq's economy and infrastructure would require the expenditure of massive amounts of U.S. funds if they were to recover. The Bush administration was repeatedly warned that, in the aftermath of an invasion, it was highly probable that violence would be directed against the American forces -- and that violence would also ensue between the various factions within Iraq.

Not only did the Bush administration misrepresent and lie about all of this to the American public and to the world: it did not make any plans at all to deal with even one aspect of these momentous problems.


In evaluating the danger that non-state terrorists represent, and in assessing the danger that a potentially nuclear Iran might constitute, commentators often utilize the "rational actor" concept as a means of analysis. They usually argue that non-state terrorists are especially dangerous because they are not constrained by the same "rational" factors that tend to inhibit state actors. And many commentators now use the same kind of argument about the allegedly "unacceptable" threat represented by a nuclear Iran: Iran's leader is crazy, they say. It's impossible to predict what he'll do. The kinds of restraints that affect "normal" people are inoperative in his case.

So I have a question. In view of everything we know about what the Bush administration was told about Iraq, and considering the endless warnings they received about every aspect of an invasion and its aftermath -- all of which they entirely disregarded and completely failed to plan for in advance -- and noting that all of this is confirmed by new evidence almost daily, with this WaPo story being only the latest example, who exactly is it who's not behaving like a "rational actor"?

This is why the standard objections to the likelihood of U.S. military action against Iran are of highly questionable persuasiveness: they assume that this administration is behaving rationally. Is it? Consider the evidence, and reach your own conclusion.
Some of us have been writing about these issues for years. During all that time, and up to and including the present moment, it appears that no one of national prominence is prepared to do a damned thing of any significance to even try to stop an attack on Iran.

No one. But we're America the Exceptional, America the Good. Whatever we do -- even if we are the ones who initiate a wider war that far too easily could turn into a regional or global conflict, with nukes possibly added for that extra thrill -- we will always be America the Good.

You just keep telling yourself that.

See also: A Decision of Policy -- and the Intelligence Won't Matter