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  #1  
Old 10-27-2007, 03:51 AM
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Stalin, Mao, and … Ahmadinejad?

By Fareed Zakaria
NEWSWEEK
Oct 20, 2007

At a meeting with reporters last week, President Bush said that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." These were not the barbs of some neoconservative crank or sidelined politician looking for publicity. This was the president of the United States, invoking the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism." For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)

In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can't be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a "residual rationality," he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history's greatest mass murderers.

If I had to choose whom to describe as a madman, North Korea's Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad, I do not think there is really any contest. A decade ago Kim Jong Il allowed a famine to kill 2 million of his own people, forcing the others to survive by eating grass, while he imported gallons of expensive French wine. He has sold nuclear technology to other rogue states and threatened his neighbors with test-firings of rockets and missiles. Yet the United States will be participating in international relief efforts to Pyongyang worth billions of dollars.

We're on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country's vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to us—just as Iraq had become in 2003.

The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush's representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that "the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for." Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, "looked down and rustled his papers." No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They're mad.

Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, "is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to 'the farthest mosque,' usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world" (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren't so dangerous.


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  #2  
Old 10-27-2007, 04:14 AM
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Gentlemen! The can of worms has been opened.
Place your opinions in the thread below ...

BTW, Carl, you still play the sax? We should have a jam sometime.
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Old 10-27-2007, 05:25 AM
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Attack Iran and you attack Russia
By Pepe Escobar, [ http://www.atimes.com ]

The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration's relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.

But then, as if this were not enough of a political bombshell, came the abrupt resignation of Ali Larijani as top Iranian nuclear negotiator. Early this week in Rome, Larijani told the IRNA news agency that "Iran's nuclear policies are stable and will not change with the replacement of the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council [SNSC]." Larijani will keep attending SNSC meetings, now as a representative of the Supreme Leader. He even took time to remind the West that in the Islamic Republic all key decisions regarding the civilian nuclear program are made by the Supreme Leader. Larijani actually went to Rome to meet with the European Union's Javier Solana alongside Iran's new negotiator, Saeed Jalili, a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), just like President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

In itself, the Putin-Khamenei meeting was extraordinary, because the Supreme Leader rarely receives foreign statesmen for closed talks, even one as crucial as Putin. The Russian president, according to the diplomatic source, told the Supreme Leader he may hold the ultimate solution regarding the endlessly controversial Iranian nuclear dossier. According to IRNA, the Supreme Leader, after stressing that the Iranian civilian nuclear program will continue unabated, said. "We will ponder your words and proposal."

Larijani himself had told the Iranian media that Putin had a "special plan" and the Supreme Leader observed that the plan was "ponderable". The problem is that Ahmadinejad publicly denied the Russians had volunteered a new plan.

Iranian hawks close to Ahmadinejad are spinning that Putin's proposal involves Iran temporarily suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for no more United Nations sanctions. That's essentially what International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammad ElBaradei has been working on all along. The key issue is what - in practical terms - will Iran get in return. Obviously it's not the EU's Solana who will have the answer. But as far as Russia is concerned, strategically nothing will appease it except a political/diplomatic solution for the Iranian nuclear dossier.

US Vice President Dick Cheney - who even Senator Hillary Clinton now refers to as Darth Vader - must be foaming at the mouth; but the fact is that after the Caspian summit, Iran and Russia are officially entangled in a strategic partnership. World War III, for them, is definitely not on the cards.

Let's read from the same script

The apparent internal controversy on how exactly Putin and the Supreme Leader are on the same wavelength belies a serious rift in the higher spheres of the Islamic Republic. The replacement of Larijani, a realist hawk, by Jalili, an unknown quantity with an even more hawkish background, might spell an Ahmadinejad victory. It's not that simple.

The powerful Ali Akbar Velayati, the diplomatic adviser to the Supreme Leader, said he didn't like the replacement one bit. Even worse: regarding the appalling record of the Ahmadinejad presidency when it comes to the economy, all-out criticism is now the norm. Another former nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, told the Etemad-e Melli newspaper, "The effects of the [UN] sanctions are visible. Our situation gets worse day by day."

Ahmadinejad for the past two months has been placing his former IRGC brothers-in-arms in key posts, like the presidency of the central bank and the Oil, Industry and Interior ministries. Internal repression is rife. On Sunday, hundreds of students protested at the Amir-Kabir University in Tehran, calling for "Death to the dictator".

The wily, ultimate pragmatist Hashemi Rafsanjani, now leader of the Council of Experts and in practice a much more powerful figure than Ahmadinejad, took no time to publicly reflect that "we can't bend people's thoughts with dictatorial regimes".

This week, the Supreme Leader himself intervened, saying, "I approve of this government, but this does not mean that I approve of everything they do." Under the currently explosive circumstances, this also amounts to a political bombshell.

As if anyone needed to be reminded, the buck - or rial - stops with the Supreme Leader, whose last wish on earth is to furnish a pretext for the Bush administration to launch World War III. If Ahmadinejad now deviates from a carefully crafted strategic script, the Supreme Leader may simply get rid of him.
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Old 10-27-2007, 10:17 AM
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Ahmadinejad is easy to turn into Satan who must be stopped. It doesn't matter if he has real power or not.
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Old 10-27-2007, 11:22 AM
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I'm a war hawk but I really don't see the wisdom to attacking Iran. The people will overthrow that government in due time, probably in another 20 years or so.

Things are going better in Iraq and fairly well in Afghanistan, I think we should concentrate on closing that theatre than moving on.

The best policy with Iran would be to try and talk with them, and use the stick of economic sanctions.

I want reserves on hand for Korea, that could be a big problem. If we have 300k troops playing in the sand in Iraq and Iran, and the NK's decide to point their tanks south again we are screwed. Although China would probably love it, they could step in and look like hero's.
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2007, 03:49 PM
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Agreed Hatty. Attacking Iran would give new life to the Mullahs. Plus, their military is much stronger than Saddam's was, they could give us grief in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could see thousands of new suicide bomber hotheads coming out of the woodwork if we attacked Iran.
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2007, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaRondo View Post
Gentlemen! The can of worms has been opened.
Place your opinions in the thread below ...

BTW, Carl, you still play the sax? We should have a jam sometime.
Nah, I never owned a horn, my old man made good money back then but he wasn't into that kind of stuff. All the schools I went to had school horns, don't imagine that happens as much these days. I haven't played since the late 60s.

It's all guit-box for me now. Someday, it'd be fun to buy a bari sax and blow the dust off of all those memories.
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  #8  
Old 10-27-2007, 03:54 PM
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I don't think Iran's military is much better than Iraq's. During the Iran Iraq war, Iraq did have much better equipment. The Iranian's relied on mass human wave attacks, which are no longer very affective. After studying that war I beleive that both countries suck at fighting. Neither knew how to do anything in that war. The shooting war if we invaded Iran would be similer to Iraq. Expect fast advances and light losses.

I'm not that worried about Iran getting a nuke, thats where Isreal comes in. We just need to get off their backs and let them take out Iran's reactors as they are built. Isreal has no problem doing this, and its most affective.

Remember if Iran push's the button they are not going to be aiming for or able to hit NY city. They will be aiming for Jerusalem.
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2007, 03:59 PM
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Yup. I have a hard time imagining them getting a missile up and running that could reach the US.

Who knows about their military. I think they might be stronger now than they were back then and Saddam was weaker when we invaded than he was back then.

Plus, their population is about double Iraq's.
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  #10  
Old 10-27-2007, 04:01 PM
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Iran had a first rate military, but they let it go to hell when the Shah left. All the commanders with experiance or brains, were either shot, or left. They got nothing, some old Russian and Chiness junk, and poorly trained troops.

Also we can open a two front war, regardless of who you are a two front war is a very, very bad idea.
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  #11  
Old 10-27-2007, 05:57 PM
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Attacking Iran will just mire us into another guerilla war, while creating millions more enemies. Iran's nuclear program (started by us w/the Shah) is no threat to us. The oil exchange is a very real threat to our economy, but it's a much harder sell.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:04 PM
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  #13  
Old 10-28-2007, 01:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankdriver View Post
Ahmadinejad is easy to turn into Satan who must be stopped. It doesn't matter if he has real power or not.
The turning-individuals-into-Satan-game is big booboo anyways.

Nowadays, everyone who deviates from US-Israel policy, is called "Hitler-like", besides, it's a very popular comparison esp here in the US.

There is something very twisted about it and for people who haven't lived anywhere else but in the US, it is usually very hard to grasp an actual understanding of what a possible outcome could look like.
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Old 10-28-2007, 02:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
Yup. I have a hard time imagining them getting a missile up and running that could reach the US.

Who knows about their military. I think they might be stronger now than they were back then and Saddam was weaker when we invaded than he was back then.

Plus, their population is about double Iraq's.
Political map of the region. Iran has also more then twice the size of Iraq.

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Old 10-28-2007, 02:23 AM
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LAST THROW FOR THE NEO-CONS

11:00 - 27 October 2007

Ow good that we can have a civilised national conversation about the future of nuclear power in Britain! And how very British of us to refrain from wild name-calling about Gordon Brown as a "despot" or part of an "axis of evil" just because he ordered a new generation of nuclear submarines with the minimum of democratic debate. We're saving that kind of language for the Iranians and, more particularly, President Ahmadinejad, who is currently runaway favourite for taking up the title of "New Hitler", recently relinquished by Saddam.In 2005 Jack Straw, as Foreign Secretary, described the prospect of military strikes on Iran as "inconceivable". A few years later his new boss has no problems in conceiving of it as he aligns the UK with the US neo-conservatives who are hell-bent on one last bloody military adventure before - with any luck - they are slung out of office.

Expect to hear a lot more about Iran in the coming weeks and months. More and more stories will appear in newspapers as diverse as the Sun to the Telegraph. Iran will be propelled into public discourse from the pub to the office to the living room. And do not think for an instant that this is an issue that will not affect us in this corner of the world. The public are being primed for a war that could be of catastrophic proportions.

If the deranged cabal who occupy the White House get their way we will be panicked into believing that bombing Iran - even though it threatens a conflagration across the Middle East and beyond - is a necessary evil to safeguard the free world.

I have no illusions about the nature of the Iranian regime, nor how internally repressive it may be. But if you think that unleashing air strikes on that country is about thwarting its nuclear ambitions, here are some revision notes: Remember the dodgy dossier? Remember us being 45 minutes from destruction by Saddam's WMD? Remember that he too used to be the New Hitler? Or how George Bush threatened to collapse the United Nations unless it surrendered to his will? And look at what has resulted.

According to research published in the medical journal The Lancet last October, 655,000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the invasion. As you might expect, Downing Street dismissed the research as "flawed", even as the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, backed the survey and described its methodology as "robust".

Think on as well about how compliant was our media in the manufactured build-up to the Iraq war when it should have been patently obvious that a predetermined script was being unravelled for public consumption.

Similar now would appear to be happening over Iran, as the Bush regime pumps up the scare-mongering rhetoric.

Don't believe a word of it. It is not without coincidence that Iran is sitting on vast oil reserves which - if the USA could secure a puppet regime alongside that in Baghdad - could be piped straight across to the Mediterranean for mass consumption for an America facing an imminent fuel and energy crisis.

Nor should we overlook the spectacular failure of the Iraq adventure and its demoralising effect on the US Government's global project. Far from deterring them in further imperialist war, an attack on Iran has been given greater impetus because they think they have nothing to lose.

The prospective scenarios are almost to terrible to grasp. Iran would defend itself by escalating the crisis and possibly launching missiles at Israel, Saudi Arabia, and American vessels in the Persian Gulf. Syria and pro-Iranian groupings in the Lebanon would side with Iran. Nuclear-tooled Israel would retaliate with an intensity that it is near impossible to forecast. The conflagration might see an uprising in Pakistan and the installation of an al Qaida-supporting government. Socialist Venezuela under Hugo Chavez might cut off its oil supplies to the USA. How might the Bush administration react to this challenge from Latin America? You do not need a crystal ball to answer that.

And where would be Britain be in the midst of it all? It is inconceivable that we would support a bombing campaign, says Jack Straw. Is that in the same way that it was once inconceivable that a British Prime Minister could present false evidence for war then be appointed peace envoy to the Middle East, or that the UK would ride shotgun for a US Government which specialises in kidnap and torture? We have been here before.

The bombing of Iran could easily cascade into a war of unforeseen consequences.

Remember, there have been precedents. Take this one, for instance: Two shots in Sarajevo - the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand - triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to the First World War in which millions died.

One big difference between the world then and now is that no one in 1914 had nuclear weapons.


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