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An On V Update to Old Ideas: Iran, Guantanamo, Hypocrisy and Bar Fights Edition

With two new series dominating our attention--our series against war with Iran and Band of Brothers--we’ve neglected what has slowly become one of our favorite new traditions, the “On V Update to Old Ideas”. Without further ado, round nine:

The Road to War, Iran Edition

After I started working on my solution to the Iran nuclear problem, I found two articles that more or less argued for my same solution. I plan to use these articles in future posts on my Iran solution, but they’re still good reads on their own.

The Nixon Option for Iran” by William H. Leurs and Thomas R. Pickering for Project Syndicate.

Why Can’t We Just Get Along with the Iranians?” by Dan Simpson for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Update to the World is Not More Dangerous

Apparently, some politicians really want to believe this. Last April, John McCain wrote in a letter to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that:

“…more people have the ability to harm us or restrict our freedom to act today than at any point in our lives.”

We’ve written before that few professors (read: not politicians) actually argue that the world is indeed more dangerous than before. Well, Paul Miller on Foreign Policy’s “Shadow Government” blog must have deliberately set out to prove me wrong. He argues that America now has two deadly foes--China and Russia--along with the always dangerous and scary triumvirate of North Korea, Venezuela and Iran...not to mention terrorism, piracy and other global ills.

Not so fast Paul Miller. As with all pro-defense-spending-terrified-of-the-rest-of-the-world pundits, Miller doesn’t actually use numbers or statistics to back up his claims, especially not the statistic that America spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on security already.

Supporting our side of the argument, when Mitt Romney reiterated the Gingrichian claim that, “the world is dangerous, destructive and chaotic” before the Veterans of Foreign Wars a few weeks back, both Dan Drezner and Stephen Walt rightly criticized his position.

Update to the Terrorists at Guantanamo

We’ve written before that Guantanamo Bay might have the lowest recidivism rate of any U.S. prison. Well, updated figures say it might be even lower than everyone thought. Good news? Terrorists aren’t going back to terrorizing. Bad news? The best explanation for the lack of returning to terrorism is that most of the Afghan goat herders were probably never terrorists in the first place.


Hypocrisy Alert 2012

In our week on Wikileaks as the “Most Intriguing Foreign Policy Event of 2010”, and in an update a year later, I bemoaned the hypocrisy of the Obama administration when it comes to leaks. The Obama administration continues to try to prosecute, using the Espionage Act, whistleblowers who expose massive corruption. Yet no senior Obama officials have been prosecuted for leaking similarly classified information.

Take, for instance David Ignatius. In his March 18th Washington Post column, “Osama bin Laden, a lion in winter”, he describes reading the letters and papers of Osama bin Laden, classified documents. (Some of which you can now read online at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.) Combined with Ignatius’ other articles about the bin Laden raid, it’s clear that the White House has leakers doing just as much if not more damage than Thomas Drake ever did by revealing massive government waste in the NSA.

Worse, to me, is how the leaks to David Ignatius blatantly skew the story in the government’s favor. They selected a handful or maybe a dozen documents out of the entire bin Laden treasure trove. They told Ignatius tales about the bin Laden raid that proved that JSOC is an “highly-effective killing machine.” How does he determine that by one raid in one country without viewing all the information?

In this case, I agree with Republicans on Capitol Hill who think President Obama has gone too far. And Glenn Greenwald. If the uber-liberal and uber-conservative alike can agree on something, then maybe we should listen. President Obama either needs to stop the leaks in the White House or stop prosecuting whistleblowers. He shouldn’t do both.
Update to Renaming the Global War on Terror

Eric C and I have never liked the use of the words “global war on terrorism” or “Islam/Islamists/jihadists” or any of a host of other words that put 9/11 firmly at the feet of all Muslims. This excellent William Saletan article on Slate describes how the current administration re-labeled the “war on terror” to a fight against “al Qaeda and its affiliates”, and how this devastated al Qaeda’s image among Muslims. (And even George W. Bush refused to blame Islam for 9/11.)

A Joke about Wars as Bar Fights

In one of our earliest posts, we compared “Bar Fighting and War Making”. For a new post echoing that theme, we stumbled upon this Economist blog post describing World War I as a bar fight. Enjoy.

three comments

A recent article at SWJ prompted a thought that others have probably already had.

What if Israel uses its nukes to force us to attack Iran? How would we counter that? Could we counter that or would be forced to do their bidding? They would launch some strikes they know wouldn’t work, then tell us “We will be forced to use our nukes on Iran to destroy their nuke program unless you guys join in. It must be done. We can’t do it conventionally so…”

They would be using their nukes to blackmail us and I don’t see how we wouldn’t be forced to join in. What do you think?

Nuclear extortion. I think there would be those who would relish the opportunity presented to enter Iran. I think there are just as many who would relish the idea of standing back and calling Israel’s bluff. Generally, if Israel uses nuclear weapons to do anything but defend themselves, they lose their allies. Either way, nobody wins in the above scenario.

Carl, I linked to a Hendrik Hertzberg on this a while back. One of the problems with Iran’s nuclear program is that much of it is underground or in civilian areas. So dead civilians on one hand, and conventional munitions might not work on the other. HH specifically mentions that Bush administration officials advocated using tactical nuclear weapons to destroy the sight, which Pentagon officials immediately objected to.

I think if Israel launched a nuclear strike, it would immediately be attacked by another 6 day war of allied Muslim nations. The EU would suspend diplomatic relationships. Nuclear weapons are a red line that Israel would cross at their own peril.

And I still need to read that SWJ article.